Laura Bambrey Books

It's all about the books... News. Reviews. Interviews

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Got a Spare 2 Minutes?

Hi everyone!

So, this is a heads up- this is not a book post, it's a personal one - but I really need your support- and the good news, it'll only take you 2 minutes.

In my "real life" I'm a fundraiser for a local charity for learning disabled children and young adults, called Lifeworks. We provide all sorts of projects and services to these youngsters and their families, but the specific one I want to talk to you about is called Breaking the Barrier.

Image with permission of Lifeworks Charity
Breaking the Barrier consists of day-long surfing events for the young people and their families- introducing them to the joys of surfing (the video at the bottom of the page shows this in a couple of minutes far better than I could ever describe!). 2017 will be the project's 10th Anniversary, and we'd like to reach even more young people- as well as add new sports such as cycling and trampolining to the project.

Here's where I need your help. I'm not asking for money. I'm asking for 2 minutes of your time to add your votes to our project in the Aviva Community Fund - because if we get through to the finals, we could stand to win up to £25,000 for this vital project.

Voting is super easy...

Please vote for us! Each person has 10 votes – but you can cast them all at the same time, so it's nice and easy. Just follow this step-by-step…

  1. Click HERE to find out more about the project  
  2. Click the "Register and log in" link in the voting box to register
  3. Click "Register Now" (or "Login" if you already have an account)
  4. Fill in your name, email and choose a password
  5. Go to your emails and click on the confirmation email link
  6. Fill in the last few boxes and activate your account
  7. Now you have your account, simply search for "Breaking The Barrier" in the "search project titles and organisations" box
  8. Click "see more" on the project box to get back to the page- and cast your votes!
Thank you thank you thank you. If you need more convincing, please check out this video - and help me share far and wide! Laura xxx


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Review: Comfort & Joy by Cathy Bramley

It's that most magical time of the year... where I start reading Christmas books again! And this year's first Christmas read is an absolute gem. Cathy Bramley's Comfort & Joy is out today.

Christmas Eve has arrived at Plumberry, and everyone is looking forward to the big day. The whole village seems to have special plans this year- but nature is about to put a big, wet spanner in the works.

This short story is so full of festive cheer against all odds, that it'll give even the biggest Grinch a warm Christmas glow. I finished it with a big smile and a cuddle for my kindle. It's the sort of story that make you plan to be the very best version of yourself all the way through until the big day lands.

Although Comfort & Joy is a short story based around the characters and settings of Cathy's novel The Plumberry School of Comfort Food, it also reads perfectly as a stand-alone story, so you don't necessarily have to have read Plumberry first- though I'll be making sure I read it very soon, as I fell in love with all the characters in Comfort & Joy, and I'd really love to spend more time with them all.

I feel a new Christmas tradition coming on. Unwrap your favourite tree bauble, pour a glass of mulled wine and snuggle up with Comfort & Joy!


The Blurb:
It’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Review: Love Them and Leave Them by Sue Shepherd

Last spring I was blown away by a fantastic and unique book that was sent to me by a small imprint, Corazon books. It was unique, funny, and strangely dark too. That book was Doesn't Everyone Have a Secret? - a debut novel by Sue Shepherd. As you can imagine, when Corazon contacted me and offered a review copy of Sue's second novel, which has just been released, I jumped at the chance to get my grubby mitts on it!

Love Me and Leave examines the effect a split-second decision can have on the lives of everyone it touches. Following an incident in the first chapter, the POV splits - following two "what if" outcomes of that decision.

Both POVs follow Jessica's story, and with a clever device- a simple nickname of Jessie used in the second strand- we're never left in any confusion as to which version we're reading. This is some incredibly complex writing, handled with a sure and steady hand. The book is littered with the author's dry wit and unique take on the world. She delves into what can be pretty uncomfortable scenes with confidence and style- and as a reader, you have no choice but to follow.

There are some great characters- all of them flawed- all of them 100% believable. Yes there is romance- but it's so far from sickly-sweet, it kind of creeps up on you!

A truly brilliant read - unique, funny and thought provoking. It'll certainly get you asking "what if?"

The Blurb:

On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all those who love him.

Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.

But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so different …

Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life, Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.

Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.


Monday, 26 September 2016

Review: The Singalong Society For Singletons by Katey Lovell

It’s Monday and it’s grey, wet and windy here – so I thought, what better than to bring you news of a book that will cheer you up, make you feel warm and cosy and get you humming your way through your week.

The Singalong Society For Singletons by Katey Lovell follows the relationship highs, lows and flatlines of close friends Monique, Issy and Connie. When Monique’s long-term boyfriend heads off to the USA to focus on his career for a year leaving her high and dry and in a complete quandary as to whether there is still a relationship there between them, she comforts her broken heart by filling her Friday nights with friends, wine, nibbles… and of course, musicals.

Very soon, their little society expands to welcome new members- Mon’s sister Hope… and two rather dashing young actors – who quickly add a very different edge to their Friday evenings.

What did I love about it? Not a page went by without having a song stuck in my head. Beware the ear-worms – seriously! It can be very distracting if you’re reading just before sleep. And thank you Katey for introducing me to a bunch of musicals I haven’t listened to before. Also, I completely fell for Ray – his character is truly swoon-worthy.

This is a sweet story of friendship and finding yourself – set to a seriously catchy score!

The ebook is out 7th October, followed by the paperback on the 15th December. Click below to pre-order!


The Blurb:
Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals! Their Friday night routine consists of snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister Hope moves in because of her own relationship woes, Friday nights get a new name… ‘The Singalong Society for Singletons’!

It’s a chance to get together, sing along to their favourite tracks from the best-loved West End shows, and forget the worries of work, relationships and love (or lack of it). But when Issy shares the details of their little group further afield, they get some unexpected new members who might just change their opinions on singledom for good…

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Review: The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

Today I am grateful that I live and work in Devon. Such a beautiful part of the country that I get to call home.

I'm grateful I have the time to go for a wander in the evening with a gorgeous man by my side making me laugh.

I'm grateful that I was sent this lovely book out of the blue by the good people at Yellow Kite!

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan follows an autobiographical tale of a year in Janice's life, as she explores gratitude. This book is not the diary itself, although it does contain snippets of it, but rather an enquiry into how a year of living gratefully affect’s Janice’s life- and the lives of her friends and family.

Divided into four parts, each section homes in on different areas of Janice’s personal life and how gratitude can be applied to and affect each one. These are:

1. Marriage, Love and Family
2. Money, Career and the Stuff We Own
3. Health
4. Coping, Caring and Connecting

As with any personal development or self-help book (or any non-fiction book come to that!) I found that there were certain areas that I connected with and that felt I could use personally, and others that didn’t resonate with me as much (I know I do need to diet- I really can’t bring myself to be grateful though!). But, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the whole thing. Janice’s personal accounts and examples are liberally sprinkled with interesting snippets of research and the input of experts, as well as anecdotes about the famous people the author has met and spent time with (and the one time I meanly thought to myself “name-dropping!!” I have since come to the conclusion that actually, I was just jealous.)

Janice Kaplan has managed the seemingly impossible, she has written a book that is thoughtful, funny, inspiring, applicable, wise and humorous whilst managing to navigate away from the huge potential for smugness.

Does it work? Well, yes. I’ve spent many an evening drive home from work listing my reasons to be grateful out loud to myself (I've also been given some seriously strange looks by other road users- but that's a whole other story). Here I should mention that I've also spent the usual amount of time grumbling- the book's not a magic bullet- but it does give you something to take your mind into a much healthier setting.

This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to start seeing the brighter side of their every-day existence. It can’t help but change your outlook, and it’s a bloomin’ good read to boot.

Kindle:                        Paperback:

The Blurb:

It's easy to look at others and think how lucky they are, and sometimes finding the positives in our own lives can be hard. Success is often measured in tangible ways, and as we strive to achieve more and get more, we forget that it's often the simple things that can bring us the most joy. After reading about how expressing gratitude for the little things can be incredibly powerful and affect our lives in profound ways, Janice Kaplan decided to spend a year living gratefully and find out whether being grateful really does offer a new path to happiness.

Her experiences of living gratefully will be anchored by intriguing research findings, as well as in-depth interviews with real people, those in public life, and neuroscientists and experts in the field, including Dr Martin Seligman and Dr Robert Emmons, the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude.

Recounted with warmth and humour, this story-filled memoir will inspire readers to reflect on the true meaning of gratitude, and provide them with a structure and context for making significant changes in every aspect of their lives. For not only can gratitude make you more honest, courageous and generous; research has shown that it can also improve overall health and reduce stress and depression.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Win: DVD & Book Bundle: A Hologram For The King

To celebrate the film release of A Hologram For The King, I have a DVD & Book Bundle to give away to one lucky winner. Scroll down to enter via the Rafflecopter widget... good luck!



Academy Award winner Tom Hanks (Bridge Of Spies, Inferno, Sully) is a desperate man searching for a way to get his life together in a strange and foreign land in A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING, arriving on digital platforms on 12th September and on Blu-ray and DVD from 19th September, 2016 courtesy of Icon Film Distribution. 

Cultures collide as a washed-up, desperate businessman Alan Clay (Hanks) is sent on a business trip to Saudi Arabia where he hopes to sell a state-of-the-art 3D holographic meeting system to the nation’s King. After losing his house and being divorced by his wife, Alan needs nothing more than for this deal to go through without a hitch. But once he begins work he quickly learns that he will have to adapt to a different culture and way of doing business in order to be successful. Baffled by local customs and stymied by an opaque bureaucracy, he eventually finds his footing with the help of a wise-cracking taxi driver (newcomer Alexander Black) who shows him how best to adapt to the Saudi culture. After suffering a panic attack in his hotel room, Alan meets a beautiful Saudi doctor (Sarita Choudhury, Homeland) whose presence has a profound effect on the American, leading him to question the path his life has taken.

Adapted from Dave Eggers’ (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, The Circle) novel of the same name, A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING marks the second collaboration between Hanks and visionary director Tom Tykwer following their pairing on Cloud Atlas. With another tour-de-force performance from cinema’s greatest everyman at its heart, the film serves as inherent evidence that sometimes you have to change your scenery to change your life.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 22 August 2016

Blog Tour: The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

Today, I'm thrilled to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour for The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts. As my regular readers will know, I don't read a great deal of historical fiction, so I was really looking forward to reading this as something a bit different- and I can safely say that I've had my head turned by this book!

There is so much story packed in to The House in Quill Court that it's pretty hard to give you any kind of summary without any spoilers... but here I go...

It's 1813 and creative and artistic Venetia Lovell lives in a cottage by the sea in Kent, along with her Mama, her younger brother and, when he isn't travelling with his business, her Father. Hers is a happy existence, and her hopes and dreams lie in joining her father in business- despite the fact that she's a mere female. But one day Venetia's whole world crumbles around her when news arrives with the handsome and dour stranger, Major Chamberlain, forcing the Lovells to move to Quill Court in London. Here, every ounce of Venetia's skill, creativity and determination are tested to breaking point as she struggles against all odds to keep her family safe.

I read The House in Quill Court in one sitting. Curled up in my armchair for one entire wet and windy August Saturday, I found myself completely immersed in regency London. This is one of the joys of this novel- the depth of period detail that Betts weaves into the story, without it slowing down for a moment. I particularly liked the fact that we get to see the divide between the merchant classes in London- from Venetia's perspective- those living in poverty and squalor... and those that exist somewhere between the two- from following Kitty the maid's tale. 

The plotting is detailed and relentless- and makes for a really exciting read. There are some fantastic, unexpected villains as well as some heroes you'll thoroughly enjoy cheering on. Venetia is a strong heroine- and really grows through the course of the novel- though, the character that I think will remain with me the longest after reaching the end of the book is Kitty. But I can't tell you why- you'll just have to read it for yourself. 

Whether you're a fan of historical reads or not, I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a fast-moving, exciting read. You'll find yourself plunged head-long into the dangers and delights of an intriguing period of history. With moments that made me gasp and spill my umpteenth cup of tea- The House in Quill Court was an unexpected delight- a five-star read for sure- and I'm looking forward to reading my way through everything else ever written by Charlotte Betts!

Paperback:                 Kindle:

The Blurb:
1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.

When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia's courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined...

About the Author:
Charlotte Betts began her working life as a fashion designer in London. A career followed in interior design, property management and lettings. Always a bookworm, Charlotte discovered her passion for writing after her three children and two step-children grew up. 

Her debut novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award in 2010 and the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, was shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2011 and won the coveted Romantic Novelists' Association's Historical Romantic Novel RoNA award in 2013. Her second novel, The Painter’s Apprentice was also shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2012 and the RoNA award in 2014. The Spice Merchant’s Wife won the Festival of Romance's Best Historical Read award in 2013. 

Charlotte lives with her husband in a cottage in the woods on the Hampshire/Berkshire border.

www.charlottebetts.com | @CharlotteBetts1