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Laura Bambrey Books

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

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Looking Forward to 2017.

Happy Saturday book-lovers! I'm here for a final hello of 2016.

I've always found the last day of the year a bit of a strange one. It's the perfect moment to look back over the year and reflect, but I prefer to look forward to what's in store for the new year. Sure, 2016 has had its up and downs- but now's the moment to get excited about what 2017 will bring us. So- here are a few thoughts and ideas for the year to come...

The reading...

I can't resist a challenge going into 2017, so I think a bit of a reading target is in order. I'm hoping to read 100 books this year. I'll keep track of this here on the 2017 Reads tab, if you'd like to check out my progress!

The blogging...

I'll be posting a minimum of one post per day, Monday-Friday throughout 2017, and the plan is to post at 7.30 a.m, and if there is a second post for the day, this will appear at 1 p.m. As ever, there will be a range of news, reviews and interviews for book lovers, and I'm also looking forward to expanding the range of posts to include features of interest to writers too. I'm really looking forward to welcoming a range of guests on the site over the year- with book news, original fiction, interviews and features.

The writing...

In 2016, I completed the first draft of what turned into the first book of an epic fantasy trilogy. Spring 2017 will see me on my first set of re-writes, as I delve into the exciting process of editing and, eventually, seeking representation.

The people...

I had the real pleasure of meeting a whole bunch of authors, bloggers and publishers this year, and hope to get the chance to meet even more of you in 2017. There's nothing quite like putting faces to names, and have the opportunity to interrogate chat about books face-to-face.

So- there we have it. 2017 and I'm looking forward to meeting it head-on. What about you? Any special plans or New Year's resolutions? Whatever they may be, I wish a happy and healthy New Year to you all.

See you on the other side,

Laura x


Friday, 30 December 2016

#Friday5: Books to Brighten the January Blues!

January can be a long, difficult month to get through. After the excitement of Christmas and the fresh start of the New Year, it's no surprise that we find ourselves dragging our feet through what feels like the longest, darkest month of the year.

Fear not, lovely book-worms! With the excitement of the New Year still to come, I've come up with the perfect antidote to the January blues before they even get the chance to start. Here are five brilliant books due to be released throughout January - one for each week of the month.

Simply pre-order them now, and a gorgeous book will arrive to lift your spirits every week until February - cunning plan or what?! So, without further ado, here's your bookish survival plan for January...

Week 1

The Legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington



Release Date: 6th January 2017
Pre-order your copy here

The Blurb:
‘Sometimes time is all we have with the people we love the most. I ask you to slow down in life. To take your time, but don’t waste it….’

Maggie O'Hara knows better than most that life can change in a heartbeat. Eighteen years ago she was given the most precious gift- a second-hand heart, and a second chance at life.

Always thankful, Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte – the little girl that saved her life. But as Maggie's own life begins to fall apart, and her heart is broken in love, she loses sight of everything she has to live for…

Until an unexpected letter changes everything and brings Maggie back into the life of Lucy Harte – and a chance for Maggie to get her life back on track once more.

Lucy's final gift to Maggie is much more than the heart that beats inside her. It's a legacy that Maggie must learn to live by. A chance to make her heart skip a beat with every new discovery she makes; a promise to live, laugh, fall in love and heal her broken heart for good.

Because as the keeper of a borrowed heart, Maggie's time is more precious than most and she must make every cherished second count…
---------------

Week 2

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land


Release Date: 12th January 2017
Pre-order your copy here

The Blurb:
'NEW NAME .
NEW FAMILY.
SHINY.
NEW.
ME.'

Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.


She is, after all, her mother's daughter...

---------------

Week 3

Relativity by Antonia Hayes


Release Date (paperback) 19th January 2017
Pre-order your copy here

The Blurb:
Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can't shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father's absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
---------------


Week 4

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan


Release Date: 26th January 2016

The Blurb:
MEET THE 'KEEPER OF LOST THINGS'...
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters...

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you've finished reading.
WE'RE ALL JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND...
---------------

Week 5

Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Release date: 31st January 2017

The Blurb:
A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus.

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.


Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

So there you have it my lovelies- your January reading and survival-kit sorted in one :)



Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn: Part 4

Happy Wednesday! This has to be the weirdest Wednesday of the whole year- that funny in-betweeny bit after Christmas and before New Year when we're all trying to decide what on earth our NY resolutions are going to be... and just how long they might last. Well folks... take a quick break and enjoy Bethany Quinn's hilarious Doomed Date Diaries, Part 4...

Part 4


Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn


28. Crispin


When Crispin started humming tunelessly to himself my patience finally snapped like a cracked black pepper and sea salt crisp. He'd arrived fifteen minutes earlier, three quarters of an hour late- apparently he didn't believe in the conspiracy of earthly clocks- wearing a hand knitted cardigan and open-toed sandals with no socks. It was January. He ordered a glass of tap water, sat down across from me- and, after a few deep and no doubt hugely meaningful breaths, closed his eyes.
         'What are you doing?' I asked testily.
         'I'm examining your aura,' he replied absently, seemingly lost somewhere in the sacred emulsion of the Great Cosmic Aura Colour Chart- or something.
         'Okay,' I said, feeling the familiar nosedive of dating disappointment. I really do pick them don't I? 'So how is it looking?'
         'Mainly purple,' he said dismissively, opening his eyes and sipping his water. He winced, rather like I do whenever I drink Argentinian Malbec.
         'Purple? Is that good?' Personally, I find it an impossible colour to successfully accessorize- and if I wear it too close to may face I look like I've got jaundice or I've overdone the foundation.
         Crispin smiled apologetically. 'I'm really looking for someone orange with brilliant flecks of yellow,' he said.
         'Uh huh,' I said. It looked like we were both going to go home disappointed then.

         Strangely though, as soon as it was clear that we were incompatible on a chromatic level we had a surprisingly entertaining night together. I would point out couples in the bar and Crispin would tell me the destiny of their relationships based entirely on the intensity of their auras.
         'What about them?' I said, nodding towards a pair in the corner whose faces had been fused together at the lips since the third round of double vodkas arrived.
         'Pink and crimson,' Crispin said after a brief and inscrutable glare. 'A one night stand. She'll be embarrassed about it in the morning.'
         Crispin stopped, perhaps aware how close this was to the truth of the two of us.

         'You need to look for someone greeny blue,' he said later as we went our separate ways.
         'Thanks,' I called back, as I shrugged into my coat and headed off in the opposite direction.
         Now where was I going to find someone 'greeny blue' in London in deepest, darkest January? I was having enough trouble finding someone normal.
***

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Review: Dear Dad by Giselle Green

This is one of those books that is perfect approach the New Year with. A book with a message. A book that challenges you to be a better version of yourself and look for the ways in which you can touch other people's lives.

Jenna, Adam and Nate all have their issues. They are all lost in one way or another and in desperate need of a pair of hands to save them... or even two pairs. Giselle Green approaches the potentially heavy subject-matters of PTSD, isolation, bullying and loneliness with a lightness of touch that makes the story absorbing and even funny in places. 

There are moments where you really have to let the suspension of disbelief carry you along- but I was enjoying the characters so much by this point, the slightly more far-fetched elements of the plot around the school and care system for Adam didn't bother me unduly.

Jenna is a fantastic character, and one I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with. She's strong, feisty and incredibly warm. Both Nate and Adam's difficulties had me gripped and rooting for their happy-ever-afters.

I won't go into the story-line as the blurb (below) tells you all you need to know- but this tale of three strangers with the power to save each other is an intensely emotional and heartwarming read.

Kindle:                           Paperback:

    


The Blurb:
Handsome, 27-year old, Nate Hardman is a frontline reporter with a big problem. Suffering from shell-shock and unable to leave his house, he’s already lost his social life and his girlfriend. Now his career prospects are sinking fast. 

9 year-old Adam Boxley who lives alone with his ageing nan, also has big problems. Neglected at home and bullied at school, he’s desperate to reach out to his dad – and that’s when he sends his first letter to Nate. Only Nate’s not who he thinks he is. Will he help? More importantly – can he? 

Across town meanwhile, caring but impulsive teacher Jenna Tierney really wants to help Adam - except the feisty redhead has already had enough of teaching. Recently hurt by yet another cheating boyfriend, Jenna’s now set her sights on pursuing a dream career abroad ... only she’s about to meet Nate - her dream man who’ll make her re-think everything. 

The big question is; can three people desperate to find love, ever find happiness when they’re only connected by one big lie?

Monday, 26 December 2016

Book and a Biscuit: Relativity by Antonia Hayes

#amreading

Relativity by Antonia Hayes, published by Corsair, paperback release date 19th January 2017

Tea

Scottish Breakfast Tea (Loose Leaf) by Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company - a strong, rich tea that's perfect to bring your day to life. Gorgeous colour and scent- perfect to wake up over!

Cake: 

Grandma's Rich Christmas Cake (the last slice!)... Christmas cake never lasts long in our house :)

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Review: One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot


Happy Christmas eve!

I hope you're all off to a magical start to the Christmas weekend. I've got my review of a wonderful Christmas book for you today- so if you're at a loose end now that all the wrapping is done and you've prepped all the sprouts- then grab yourself a copy of Mandy Baggot's brilliant One Christmas in Paris.

Join Ava, our heroine, as she re-discovers herself in the City of Lights in the lead up to the big day. Running away from a newly broken heart, she has sworn off men- and the more distance she can put between herself and her over-bearing mother, the better. She's there to support her best friend Debs- and that's it. What she isn't prepared for is meeting the undeniably gorgeous, though definitely damaged Julien Fitoussi. A photographer desperately in need of a new muse to help him heal from his own tragic heartbreak.

There are plenty of laughs, "totes" provided by Ava's best friend Debs, and the indomitable Didier as they rally around in the lead up to Christmas- proving that friends and family are what matters most- at any time of the year.

As for Julien? Oh my goodness- how does Mandy do this every time? She writes the sexiest, most gorgeous heroes. She always makes me fall head over heels for them, and this time is no exception. In fact I'm going to put this out there... Romantic hero of the year- Monsieur Fitoussi. *Sigh*. I think it's his perfect balance between strength and vulnerability...

Anyway... *clears throat and stops gazing into the semi-distance*... back to the book....

One Christmas in Paris provides plenty of love and laughter, tears- and a perfectly tingly festive ending. I love Mandy's writing, and I think you will too.

Kindle:                       Paperback:

  

The Blurb:
They say Paris is the City of Love, so bring your je ne sais quoi and don’t forget the mistletoe!

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men ... Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret?

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris?

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.


***
A very merry Christmas to you all! Laura xx

Friday, 23 December 2016

#FridayFive: Christmas Edition

That's it my lovely bookworms- I am now officially on Christmas holiday. Woohooooooo!!! And I don't know about all of you, but Christmas Eve eve is the day where I fully start to over-indulge... on Christmas books. So, it's the perfect day to bring you a #Friday5 packed full of gorgeous-festive-goodness. Old and new, novel and novella- these are the 5 festive reads I urge you to sink your teeth into whilst sipping your mulled wine...

1. Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

I've seen her dubbed the queen of Christmas, and there's no doubt that any Christmas book by this author is an unmissable treat, but I have to say that this is the one I've read and re-read so many times. One of my all time favourites.


The Blurb:
Once upon a time Kayla loved Christmas

Now she’s more dedicated to her job than decking the halls, and can’t wait for the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ to be over.

Until she arrives at the enchanting Snow Crystal ski resort, determined to win gorgeous owner Jackson as a marketing client.

But wooing Jackson professionally quickly turns personal as they spend flirty festive nights in this glittering winter wonderland.

With snowflakes swirling and sleigh bells ringing…could Jackson be the one to make Kayla fall back under the Christmas spell?


2. One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot


I finished this gorgeous book late last night. Wow, what a beautiful read. Full of true Christmas spirit as Ava, our heroine, re-discovers herself in the City of Lights in the lead up to the big day... and as she heals, she helps her drop-dead-scrummy leading man to do exactly the same. The perfect love letter to the most romantic city in the world. Pop back for my full review tomorrow.

The Blurb:
How many croissants does it take to mend a broken heart?

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men... Until they cross paths with sizzling hot, oh-so-mysterious photographer Julien, with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but she can’t help but feel he’s hiding something. Her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret? 

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love in Paris? 

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.

3. Calling Mrs. Christmas by Carole Matthews



I remember reading this for the first time and being completely drawn in to Cassie and Jim's world. Struggling to make ends meet, Cassie comes up with a business plan to become a Christmas planner. It takes off in a way neither of them could expect- but throws it's own problems into the mix and adds a whole new level of challenges. What I loved most about this book is that while it's an easy, fun and festive read, it also touches on some dark and difficult subjects. Jim works with young offenders- and the more you read about these vulnerable lads, the more you have your eyes opened to the things that are truly important at Christmas- and in life.

The Blurb:
Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She's soon in huge demand and Cassie's business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.

Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children, so he enlists Cassie's help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her loving partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.

When millionaire Carter asks Cassie to join his family on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn't go . . . Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.

4. Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley



This lovely novella was my first Christmas read this year, and it was the perfect way to get me into the festive frame of mind. It's an offshoot from the Plumberry School of Comfort Food- but if you haven't read that yet- fear not, it works perfectly as a stand-alone story (I tested this out as I read this before Plumberry myself!) You can read my full review here.


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?

5. Christmas With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly


I loved the Austen Addicts series by Victoria Connelly, and have re-read them goodness knows how many times now- but it's at least an annual occurrence. And what better for your favourite series, than to be able to tuck into a Christmas novella at this time of the year? If you haven't read them yet, I urge you to pick up the series- and then treat yourself to this little gem.


The Blurb:
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of Jane Austen ...

Christmas is being celebrated in style at Purley Hall in Hampshire because renowned actress, Dame Pamela Harcourt, is holding a special Jane Austen Conference. Everybody’s there: Katherine and Warwick, Robyn and Dan, Kay, Adam and Gemma, and Sarah and Mia. Oh, and Mrs Soames.

But, when a rare first edition of Pride and Prejudice goes missing, the guests have to forget the fun and games and turn detective...
***

What's your favourite Christmas read? Will you be tucking up with a book this weekend? 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Review: Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain


See, the thing about me is that I’m completely contrary. It’s the week before Christmas, and I have to be honest - all I’ve been craving is the British summertime- golden-warm days, strawberries and cream, village fairs, long lazy evenings and walks in the country.

When I was little, one of my favourite books was a Winnie the Pooh one. I can’t remember the exact title, but it was all about spending a year with Pooh and the gang. My favourite two pages were the mid winter and mid summer ones, which went something like…

On the coldest day of the winter, think about the warmest day in summer.
On the hottest day of summer- think about the coldest day of the winter.

Yup- that sums me up pretty well!

Well, thank goodness I had Summer at Skylark Farm to give me the slice of perfect summertime that I’ve been craving. I’ve spent the last week rooting for Amber as she makes the jump from city-girl to farm-girl, bringing her own breath of fresh air, wonderful positivity and oodles of charm with her as she attempts to turn around the ailing farm, along with Annie and Jake.

Annie is a fab character- I loved her eccentricities, and I swear that I may have met her at one of the country shows I went to back in the summer. The description of the fierce competition over the cake baking and sewing competitions were so spot-on, they had me in stitches (pun intended!)

The women in this book were brilliant- real and relatable, and I’d very much like to spend more time with them. The only character I didn’t really warm to was Jake. I wasn’t keen on his behaviour towards Amber, and I can’t say that his moody ways set my heart racing. He was completely believable- just not my type of hero I guess. However – this didn’t dent my enjoyment of this gorgeous story one little bit.

A warm, gentle reminder of summer. Just what the doctor ordered.

The Blurb:
Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn't quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.

Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined - it's cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling.

But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?

Grab your copy here:

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn: Part 3

Are you ready? Just 4 days to go 'till the big day. I know for one that I'm having a love-affair with our gorgeous Christmas tree. It's the first thing I say hello to in the morning and the last thing I say goodnight to at the end of the day... hmmm.... maybe the Christmas spirit is addling my brain :) It's okay though, I'll leave you in the very capable hands of Bethany Quinn and part three of Doomed Date Diaries...

Part 3


Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn


32. Henry



Turns out that Henry wasn’t after a girlfriend at all. He was more interested in selling me home contents insurance. I promised faithfully that I’d look through the brochures while he was at the bar. I lied. I watched him having an argument instead. They’d obviously just informed him how much a large glass of decent red wine was.

It reminded me of the day that I broke up with David- the five short minutes that made me single again- the reason I was now sitting in a pub in West London waiting to have a drink with an insurance salesman who was offering a 10% discount and accidental damage cover for a bicycle that I don’t even have.

I was doing the washing up when David made a rare trip into the kitchen that didn’t entail getting a beer from the fridge. I’m sure he thought they grew in there.

‘I think we should see other people,’ he said.
‘Okay,’ I said flatly. ‘Are you breaking up with me?’
‘No,’ he said, as if I was a complete idiot and he’d been willfully misunderstood.
‘You are really, aren’t you?’ I said.
‘No,’ he repeated, trying to hug me but getting a soapy rubber glove in the face. ‘I like living with you, I just think we need to expand our horizons a bit that’s all.’
‘I could buy some new DVD’s,’ I offered helpfully.
‘I mean meet new people.’
I could feel my eyebrow arching with suspicion. ‘Are you talking in general or about someone in particular?’
‘Generally,’ he said rather unconvincingly.
My suspicious eyebrow didn’t believe him for a minute.
‘So, you still want to live with me in my flat, rent-free, but you want to see other people too. Is that about the strength of it?’ I asked.
‘Yes,' he said.
‘So what happens if you meet someone you like more than me?’ I said. That threw him.
‘That won’t happen will it? I love you and you love me.’
‘But what if you did and wanted to bring them back to the flat?’
David shrugged. ‘You wouldn’t mind going out would you?’
And that was that. ‘Why don’t you move out right now,’ I said. ‘In fact I’ll help you pack.’

Two years down the drain. Henry came back from the bar with a tiny glass of house red. Somehow I felt equally cheated.
***

Monday, 19 December 2016

Book Haul & The Best Christmas Book-Gifts

In the lead up to Christmas my postbox has been a bit quieter than usual- but I did receive this beauty in amongst the blizzard of Christmas cards- a proof copy of Secrets & Fries At The Starlight Diner which came out on kindle on Friday. 

This is the second book in the Starlight Diners Series- but will be my first foray into Helen Cox’s writing, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Here’s the blurb:

What brings Bonnie Brooks to The Starlight Diner? And why is she on the run?

As the front-woman in a band, Bonnie is used to being in the spotlight, but now she must hide in the shadows.

Bonnie only has one person who she can turn to: her friend Esther Knight, who waitresses at the Fifties-themed diner. There, retro songs play on the jukebox as fries and sundaes are served to satisfied customers. But where has Esther gone?

Alone in New York City, Bonnie breaks down in front of arrogant news reporter, and diner regular, Jimmy Boyle. Jimmy offers to help her. Can she trust him?

When the kindly owner of the Starlight Diner offers Bonnie work, and she meets charming security officer Nick Moloney, she dares to hope that her luck has changed. Is there a blossoming romance on the cards? And can Bonnie rebuild her life with the help of her Starlight Diner friends?

***


So that’s it for my book haul this week- a bit thin on the ground as I’ve been too busy picking books for other people rather than myself- but here’s a quick lowdown of the three books I’ve been buying multiple gift copies of this year...

My Top Three Books to Give as Gifts:


Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

I fell in love with Liz’s writing when I was sent my review copy of her debut Unravelling Oliver. Lying in Wait is her second book, and is just as disturbing as the first. Perfect for fans of dark, twisty psych-thrillers, beautiful writing, and particularly nasty characters! 

Grab your copies here
You can find my original review here

The Blurb:
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must - because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants...


One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay by Zoe Cook

The book that made me cry. This was a cracker- and one that I’ve enjoyed buying for friends throughout the year because it has a lot of warmth and heart along with the heartbreak.

Grab your copies here
You can find my original review here

The Blurb:
Secrets lie waiting beneath the Cornish waves in this moving and unforgettable love story. Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Kelly Rimmer and Jojo Moyes.

Lucy, hi. It’s Tom. How are you? It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to get in touch but it’s hard to know how to after so much time. I hear you’re doing really well up there. I knew you would be.

You should come here, you know, back to Hideaway bay. Come and see everyone, see how little it’s all changed. Feel the sand between your toes, the Cornish sea breeze on your face. When the sun hits the surf in that way it does, it’s as magical as ever.

That’s why I’m writing to you, actually. I want to get the gang back together again, one last time before…well…just one last time. You should come too. The four of us, a summer on the beach, like old times. We all want you here for it. I want you here for it. It’s been so long since I saw you.

I still think about you.

Tom

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

This is THE ultimate gift-book for book-lovers. A love letter to books, it is quirky and beautiful. A true classic in the making and one I will always have a copy of. Probably my surprise-favourite book of the year. Definitely one to treasure in hard-back.

Grab your copies here
You can find my original review here

The Blurb:
An irresistible French sensation - Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore meets Amélie - The Reader on the 6.27 explores the power of books through the lives of the people they save. It is sure to capture the hearts of book lovers everywhere.

Guylain Vignolles lives on the edge of existence. Working at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, he has but one pleasure in life . . .

Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain recites aloud from pages he has saved from the jaws of his monstrous pulping machine. And it's this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life.

For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie. A woman who feels as lost in the world as he does. As he reads from these pages to a rapt audience, Guylain finds himself falling hopelessly in love with their enchanting author . . .

The Reader on the 6.27 is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain's life for the better. This captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature's power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives.

What books have you been buying recently? What’s your fave book to give to people?

What’s your fave book to give as a gift? Which books are you hoping to find in your Christmas stocking?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Review & Giveaway: A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby


“He’s BEHIND you!!”
“Oh no he isn’t…”
“Oh yes he is!...”

You can’t beat the magic of panto season – and whether you favour the celeb-packed professional productions, or an am-dram in the local village hall, nothing quite guarantees side-splitting laughs quite like a British pantomime.

Unless you’re talking about a romcom based around the backstage of a pantomime. Then you’re talking love, laughs and plenty of cheering and booing.

When I heard about Chrissie Manby’s new book A Fairy Tale For Christmas, I couldn’t imagine a better setting. Having visited the Little Theatre in Torquay for an evening of conversation between the author and the actors of TOADS (Chrissie’s inspiration for the NEWTS am-dram group at the heart of the book), I knew I was in for a real treat.

In A Fairy Tale For Christmas, Kirsty has followed her man all the way back to Newbay, deserting her dream job to follow her heart. But the question on everyone’s lips- is Jon really her handsome prince?

Kirsty launches herself into the local panto that Jon is directing, soon finding that Newbay and the NEWTS have found a special place in her heart. But does love blossom in the theatre, or is it all just a showmance?

A Fairy Tale For Christmas is a warm, funny, festive read- full of real life heroes, villains and panto dames. I absolutely loved it, and as the panto leached out into Kirsty’s real life, I thoroughly enjoyed booing and hissing at the baddies, cheering on the goodies and sighing for the (real) handsome prince. An unmissable festive treat.

A personal note to the author: thank you for making my 5 year-old self’s dreams come true. Finally Cinders ends up with the guy that I was rooting for when I saw my first ever pantomime.





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Grab your copy here...

Kindle:                            Paperback:
     

The Blurb:
What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true?

It's the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.

But Kirsty soon learns that it's not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there's Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after... or reveal their love to be nothing but a 'showmance'?

With Christmas just around the corner, it's going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn: Part 2

Happy hump-day my lovelies! Today I leave you with the hilarious Bethany Quinn, and Part 2 of Doomed Date Diaries...


Part 2


Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn


14. John


Just for the record, I don't usually let my date spend the entire evening talking about their ex. It's one of my rules, but in John's case I made an exception. We'd be doing each other a favour. He seemed to have a lot to get off his chest and my glass of Chilean Organic Shiraz was so blindingly awful that I needed something to take my mind off the fact that my tonsils were probably melting. He wanted to talk and I could barely breath, so I let him. Call it an executive decision.

The first indication John had that his wedding was going sideways was when his best man didn't show up in the morning. As he was staying in the adjacent room that seemed a little odd. An hour later and John's future wife failed to show too, followed by the plane tickets and the reservations for the fabulously expensive honeymoon in the Maldives. They took all his holiday clothes- and the bumper pack of condoms- and scoured his heart out in the process.

John just spent the day sitting in his hotel room, half in and out of his morning suit. He could hear his dad standing outside the door, fending off well-meaning guests.

'Let's give the poor lad a few minutes, he's having a bit of day.'

Skip forward two months and just when John had finished returning the last of the wedding presents, there's a knock at the door. His ex fiancé is standing on the doorstep, still brown from her trip to the Indian Ocean.

'I'm pregnant,' she said.
'What do you want me to do about it? he said.
'It's yours,' she said.
'No it isn't,' he said
'Okay, you're right. It isn't,' she said. 'It was a mistake.'

John tried hard to work out which part she meant, after all, they had taken all the condoms. Then he noticed her bags.

'I've got nowhere to live. I thought maybe we could try again?'

I wasn't there- obviously- but I imagine it was the sound of the door slamming that had broken John into so many desperate pieces. He stopped talking and looked at me with a knowing smile.
'You probably won't want to come out on another date, will you?' He said.
I shook my head. 'Sorry,' I said.
Maybe the Chilean Organic Shiraz wasn't that bad after all.
***

Monday, 12 December 2016

In The Post: Book Haul

Happy Monday folks!
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm always nosey as to which books are arriving on bloggers' door mats, and which books they've been busy buying- so I hereby declare Mondays as my day to give you all a sneaky peek in to what the posty has delivered in the previous week, and which books I've simply not been able to leave in the shops...

These posts won't include the shedloads of digital review copies and digital purchases that arrive each week though.

So... here's a quick update on the arrivals over the last few weeks...







































The Trouble With Henry and Zoe by Andy Jones

I was lucky enough to with this gorgeous book through a Twitter competition- and was one of those wins that happened at the end of a very difficult week- and put a huge smile on my face- so thank you so much to Andy Jones- I can't wait to get stuck in to this one!

The Blurb
Henry and Zoe have more in common than they realise. For a start, they both have pasts they'd rather leave behind.

After jilting his childhood sweetheart on the eve of their wedding, Henry makes a break for London. He has no friends, no job, no home, no plan.

Zoe has great friends, two jobs, a new house, and a big scary plan. After a traumatic, life-changing event, she plans to leave London and spend a year travelling. Alone.


If Henry and Zoe had met one year ago, things might have worked out differently. But that s not the way life works. They meet seven months after their worlds have been turned upside down. And four months before Zoe is due to climb on a plane...



A Fairy Tale For Christmas by Chrissie Manby

I was lucky enough to head to an event in the Little Theatre in Torquay last week to see Chrissie and the TOADS (Torquay Operatic Amateur Dramatic Society) in conversation about the research process around this book. It was a hilarious event- and really added something to the experience of reading the book afterwards! Anyhow- I have a fabulous signed copy up for grabs later in the week- pop back on Thursday for my full review and to enter!

The Blurb
What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true?

It's the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realisation of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.

But Kirsty soon learns that it's not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there's Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after... or reveal their love to be nothing but a 'showmance'?

With Christmas just around the corner, it's going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball.

Bertie's Gift by Hannah Coats

Another lucky competition win - and who could resist that gorgeous cover?!

The Blurb
Bertie is alone, devastated after his beloved sister and fellow beagle Molly is adopted, leaving him behind. When Bertie is taken in by the Green family, it seems he's finally found a place to call home...

Yet Bertie swiftly realises that the kind and loving Green family is in crisis. After a tragedy two years ago, they've never recovered - and as Christmas approaches, grief is pulling them apart.

Never has a four-legged friend been more in need - and brave, warm-hearted Bertie must rise to the challenge. Can he enlist the help of hostile felines Kitty and Rico to help him find Molly - and can he bring the Green family back together again, all in time for Christmas?

The Honey Trap by Mary Jayne Baker

I took part in the blog tour for The Honey Trap a few weeks ago, and was lucky enough to be sent this review copy in the process. I'll have my review up in a few weeks, but in the meantime, you can check out a fab extract here.

The Blurb
The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?

Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?

After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.

But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

Very excited to have received this exciting review copy from the kind team at Corvus- and very much looking forward to scaring myself senseless over the Christmas holidays!

The Blurb
Did she leave, or was she taken?

The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads 'I'm sorry - S' sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground...

Relativity by Antonia Hayes

Already a huge hit when it was released earlier this year in hardback and digital, the paperback can now be pre-ordered for 19th January 2017 - and I'm thoroughly looking forward to reading and reviewing for the blog-tour early in the new year!

The Blurb
Ethan is an exceptionally gifted young boy, obsessed with physics and astronomy.

His single mother Claire is fiercely protective of her brilliant, vulnerable son. But she can't shield him forever from learning the truth about what happened to him when he was a baby; why Mark had to leave them all those years ago.

Now age twelve, Ethan is increasingly curious about his past, especially his father's absence in his life. When he intercepts a letter to Claire from Mark, he opens a lifetime of feelings that, like gravity, will pull the three together again.

Relativity is a tender and triumphant story about unbreakable bonds, irreversible acts, and testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

***

So that's it for this week. What do you think of this new feature? Something I should keep in the mix? And how about you, what books have been arriving through your postbox?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn

So - first of all apologies for the big black hole that was the blog last week- as sometimes happens- life simply got in the way!

Never mind - we're back with another brand-new Weekly Series that will take us right through to the New Year. Ladies and gents- please put your hands together to welcome Bethany Quinn with Doomed Date Diaries...

Part 1


Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn



23. Nigel




Nigel had a spreadsheet open on his laptop. He showed it to me. He had it all worked out. 
'We're going to have such a great life together- can't you see?'
I couldn't. To tell you the truth I've always been hopeless with graphs, especially on a first date. I'd only met him fifteen minutes earlier. What with all the wedding plans and sorting out what the kids would be called I'd barely had a chance to touch my glass of Bulgarian Merlot. I took a sip and instantly wished I hadn't. It tasted like the stuff dentists give you to gargle with after lengthy and expensive root canal work. For the prices they charge I think they should let you drink champagne.

Nigel was trying to explain what 'Figure D' meant again but I wasn't really listening. I was trying to place a guy like Nigel somewhere on the x y axis of my love life. I was struggling. I can't help it. Nigel just isn't a name I immediately associate with moments of passion and wild abandon. He was alright looking, but I think his face could have done with a bit more chin. 

I guess Nigel realised he was losing his audience so he played a short animated presentation that he'd labeled 'How Happy Nigel and Jenny Will Be.' Call me cynical, but I wondered how many times he'd changed the names already. Apparently I was the pink line and he was blue. It all looked very uphill.

'That's a positive trend,' Nigel said enthusiastically.
'Oh,' I said.

From what I could make out we seemed to drift apart a bit in our late thirties but Nigel said that was merely a 'blip of uncertainty' in case we had a 'little accident'- his words not mine- and had a third child. He made it sound so tempting.

When Nigel went off to buy some more drinks I got a piece of paper out of my bag and drew my own chart. I called it 'How Jenny Thought The Date With Nigel Went.' It started off on the left with high expectations, but quickly tumbled in a curve that was less like a graceful swan's neck and more like an opera singer being pushed from a ninth floor window. I left it on the table and made a dash for the door before he came back.

***