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Laura Bambrey Books

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

Monday, 23 April 2018

Review: A Girl's Best Friend by Jules Wake

Ah guys – if the Monday blues have got you by the throat, I’ve got the perfect pick-me-up book to treat yourself to! And of course, if you’re bouncy and full of the joys of spring – then this is the perfect read for that too!!

This weekend, I binge-read A Girl’s Best Friend by Jules Wake and adored every moment of it. Full of warmth and humour, the story follows Ella as she takes a break from her hectic London life. Ella might not realise that she needs to unwind and heal her heart and soul- but the whole village, including Tess the dog, certainly do, and go about helping with all the subtlety of a rhino in full charge.

I loved the broken, spiky Ella. It felt like a real treat to walk beside her as she gradually unfurls, rediscovers herself and, ultimately, begins to heal. To begin with, she’s far from loveable- but the author depicts her fragility so perfectly that the glimpses of the real character underneath her hard carapace meant that I was rooting for her from the start. And fear not- she might begin to heal- but she becomes even more kick-arse as she goes!

Then of course, there’s Mr Grumpy himself, Devon the vet. Well, what can I say – PHWOAR! I know, I know- you have to get past the stroppy, moody, world-is-out-to-get-me part, but again, Jules Wake is clever enough to weave glimpses of his kindness and underlying lovely character, and it doesn’t take long for you to forgive the grumpy sod and start fantasising about running your hands through his lovely curly hair. Ahem!

The rest of the village is painted to perfection – from the gorgeous houses and surroundings to the way that everyone knows everything about everyone else- and you’d better think twice if you recon you’ll get away without mucking in and doing your bit.

Of course, I’ve barely mentioned the real heroine of the piece yet – the naughty, eat-everything-in-sight barrel-cross-dog that is Tess the Labrador. Without Tess, Ella just wouldn’t begin to heal. Without Tess, she wouldn’t have become part of the community so quickly. Without Tess- I wouldn’t have been sobbing my heart out!

This is a gorgeous novel, full of heart and a wonderful story. Packed full of lovely characters, wagging tails, and self re-discovery – it’s the perfect, uplifting read.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                          Paperback:                  Audible:

       


The Blurb:

Welcome to your new cottage in the country - complete with grumpy vet, village gossip and a very muddy dog...

City girl Ella wants to take refuge in the country, lick her wounds and work out what she's going to do with the rest of her life. She certainly doesn't want to have a four-legged house guest or anything to do with village life. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Wilsgrave have other ideas.

Settling in to her godmother's house for a few months of R&R, Ella finds herself the reluctant babysitter of a badly behaved Labrador - and her plans of staying mainly indoors scuppered. But as she's forced into wellies and into the village's way of doing things, Ella meets people who make her think again about what she really wants out of life and love, starting with her new furry best friend...

A gorgeously romantic tale set in an idyllic countryside village, from the author of ebook bestseller Covent Garden in the Snow. Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Out and About: An Evening with Erin Kelly and Sarah Vaughan: Sex, Power, & Consent in Crime Writing


A conversation about rape, consent and power in fiction is never going to be a comfortable topic, but
it certainly made for an eye-opening evening. On Friday, I joined a buzzing crowd in Waterstones Exeter to listen to crime writers Erin Kelly and Sarah Vaughan tackle this difficult and timely topic- central to the themes of both of their novels.

With the #MeToo movement high on the public agenda, and the founding of the Staunch Prize, now seems to be a key moment to have the discussion about how these issues are treated and presented in fiction.

Sarah began by speaking about the seeds that initially inspired her new book, Anatomy of a Scandal: the high profile Ched Evans case, and media commentary on this, including a column which quoted casual judgments from other young women about the alleged victim; the exposure of political sex scandals and how these were addressed. In fact, the beginnings of the novel came about years earlier - but the book was placed on pause while she wrote her second novel. Publication came as the conversation around consent became a more commonly discussed topic.

Erin said that she plans her novels around 2 to 3 key ideas. For He Said She Said she stated that she wanted to write a novel with a “large scope” after writing a couple of intensely claustrophobic books. The second element was to base the work around Eclipse Chasers- people who have their holidays planned for the rest of their lifetimes around these events- and including the theme of darkness and “writing about something bad that happens in the dark.” The third element was her desire to “redress the balance of how rape is often portrayed – where often the victim is nothing more than a trigger for the detective or lead on the case to learn something about themselves.”

Erin stated that books such as theirs were “part of a wave of treating the issues intelligently” while Sarah said that they would be “humbled and proud if our books become a part of the debate.”

Speaking of their writing process, Sarah credits her time as a political journalist as vital to her writing – especially in portraying the reality of a court case in action, having witnessed and reported on so many during her career. She has had feedback from both victims and barristers about the accuracy of her portrayal of the case in the book – something she’s incredibly proud of.


Erin likened writing a novel to running a marathon – but if she ever found herself flagging during her writing, she turned to her original research of high profile cases such as Brock Turner and Ched Evans to stoke her anger and get her writing again.

Huge thanks to excellent host Liv J Hooper and Waterstones Exeter (Roman's Gate), and of course to Sarah Vaughan and Erin Kelly for a fascinating evening. Please see below for more about He Said She Said by Erin Kelly and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.




Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


The Blurb:
A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it. 

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                          Hardback:
    


He Said She Said by Erin Kelly


The Blurb:
Don't be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                           Paperback:
   

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Hump Day Bookish Treats: 5 Pick-Me-Up Gifts for Book Lovers

Hi folks - welcome to my new series - Hump Day Bookish Treats. Yup - every week, I'll be scouring the shops for goodies to help get you through to the weekend- whether you're treating yourself or a book-obsessed friend, I promise you that these goodies will bring you a nice mid-week rush of naughty retail-therapy endorphins!

Cosy Library Candle


Shop: Sonnet and Fable via Etsy
Price: £8.45

Turn your room into your very own bookish haven! As the good people at Sonnet and Fable say: "Surround yourself with the aroma of the perfect reading nook. This candle smells of leather, coffee, amber, musk, aged teakwood and caramel." YUM!








Library Card Socks


Shop: British Library Shop
Price: £9.50

Wear these with pride to the day-job and show your inner book-nerd :)












Librarian Badge


Shop: British Library Shop
Price: £3.00

Declare your true self! You might still have to go to the day-job for the rest of the week, but you can wear your heart on your sleeve... or your dream-job on your jersey in this case.











The Great Gatsby Scarf


Shop: Rooby Lane via Etsy
Price: £25.00

I love love love this fab scarf - and frankly the spring isn't quite springing yet so I know I'll end up living in this soft t-shirt jersey beauty for weeks to come.








Readers Gonna Read Pin


Price: £7.00

Because:
1. It's on library card backing- and how awesome is that?

2. I want to use the backing as a bookmark... and

3. Sometimes you just can't beat another book-loving badge :)



Let me know what takes your fancy! Laura x

Monday, 9 April 2018

Review: The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley

The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley
I’ve had a massive hankering for an old-school romantic comedy for a while now. You know, one where the heroine is funny, down-to-earth, relatable, incredibly cheeky and definitely not a shrinking violet. She is strong and flawed and a bit of a handful in her own way. Oh, and there should be a really fancyable hero- but he’s not expected to swoop in and make everything better– or to be perfect- but he definitely brightens everything up just by being there.

Not asking much, am I (ahem!)

Well, I’ve found you the perfect hug-your-kindle, sneak off for a couple of extra pages read. Zara Stoneley’s The Wedding Date put me in mind of a classic, stand-alone Sophie Kinsella. Told in naughty, engaging, laugh-out-loud first person – it was impossible not to instantly take sides with her fabulous heroine Samantha (or Sam, but NEVER Sammy). Then there’s Jake– wonderful, sexy, troublesome Jake. The perfect (or is he?!) hero to remind our Sam that it’s okay to be her true self.

It’s impossible to talk about this book without quickly mentioning the title. Yes- it has the same title as a certain well-known film. Yes, at the very bare bones of the story, there are a couple of similarities in the plots. But that’s where it ends. This title suits Stoneley’s book down to the ground, and her funny, sassy style, brilliant storytelling and cast of characters make this book all her own. And of course, there is that scene with Harry the dog and a sporran. That sealed the deal for me. I LOVE this book.


Grab your copy here:


Kindle:                               Paperback:
        


The Blurb:

One ex.
One wedding.
One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.

But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!

As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…

About Zara Stoneley:

Author Zara StoneleyBorn in a small village in Staffordshire, Zara Stoneley wanted to be James Herriot, a spy, or an author
when she grew up. Writing novels means she can imagine she is all these things, and more!

Zara’s bestselling novels include 'The Holiday Swap', 'Summer with the Country Village Vet', 'Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage' and the popular Tippermere series - 'Stable Mates', 'Country Affairs' and 'Country Rivals'.

She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a naughty cockapoo, and a very bossy cat, and loves spending time in sunny Spain.

Where you can find her:
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Awesome Auction and Bookish Swag

Good morning book nerds! Long time – no blog… but today I’m back, bringing you the goss on something rather wonderful that someone in our big bookish community is busy getting up to…

The lovely Tamsyn Murray has put together to most awesome auction of goodies my little bookish heart has ever seen – and the bids are open until 11.59pm on Sunday 25th March 2018.

You can go wild and grab lots naming characters in your favourite author’s books, snag signed copies,  win places on creative courses, and get critique from some seriously experienced and inspirational publishing peeps.

Excited? You should be! It’s super-simple- here’s the link to the site – have a look through, see what you fancy and get commenting on there with your bids.

So, what’s it all in aid of? Tamsyn is raising money for Marie Curie… and that’s why I wanted to help her spread the word. My lovely mother passed away two weeks ago following two weeks of palliative care at home, as per her wishes. The lovely Marie Curie nurses made this possible- helping us with her care, and even sitting up with mum through the night when dad and I were at the end of our energy supplies. They are amazing. They really are.

So please- do get bidding, and help support other families at such a tough time in their lives.

When I asked Tamsyn about the auction, she said:

“I am amazed, overwhelmed and humbled at the generosity of the authors and editors donating their books, swag and precious expertise. And even more than that, I am thrilled to see people bidding. I'd love to raise as much as I can for the wonderful Marie Curie and the vital work they do so please do share the auction lots far and wide, and BID BID BID!”

So there you have it- pop over and check it out.

This isn’t the only thing Tamsyn’s up to though, she’s also taking on the Mont Blanc Trek 2018 to raise further funds for Marie Curie- and if you want to support her amazing effort you can do so on her JustGiving page here. 


Here’s Tamsyn’s story as to why she has chosen to take part in such an impressive feat!:

“So, in a fit of what I can only describe as blind optimism, I've signed up to do something I have never done before: a three-day trek in a treacherous mountain region. I don't have much (any) trekking experience, or mountain experience, and my current idea of exercise is getting up mid-chapter to grab another bag of Haribo. And yet, here I am embarking on a death-defying walk in aid
of Marie Curie. Why?

Well, partly it's because I'm at a funny age where doing things I've never done before apparently becomes very appealing. And partly it's because I am hoping to encounter a yeti or at least a snow dragon. But mostly it's because I undertook a lot of research into cancer when I wrote the character of Emily in my book, 'Instructions for a Second-hand Heart', and I know what it does, how much support is needed for cancer sufferers and their families, and I am keen to do something, however small, to help. Plus did I mention the snow dragons?

So please do donate if you can. I am going to have to train for this - really train, not just watch Body Boss videos on Instagram. I will have to buy proper hiking boots, because my Converse just aren't going to cut it. I might even break a nail as I trek and you all know what a disaster that would be. It is going to be DIFFICULT. Please do make it worth my while and help me to raise as much as I can for Marie Curie. They honestly have no idea what they have let themselves in for by taking me along...”

Check out Tamsyn Murray’s fantastic bookish auction here

Help Tamsyn reach her target for the Mont Blanc Trek in aid of Marie Curie here

Find out more about the awesome work that Marie Curie do here