Laura Bambrey Books

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Review: See How They Run by Tom Bale

I was lucky enough to meet Tom Bale at one of the Author / Blogger Shenanigans organised by Kim Nash earlier in the year, so I was super-excited to read See How They Run when it became available for review on NetGalley.

I have to say that as gripping as the opening scene is- filled with sinister threat and a setting up the mystery that will take you all the way through to the end of the plot- I hadn’t expected it to be such a grim read. Tom was such a funny, friendly bloke that I was rather shocked at the violence and threat evident in the set up of the book- so much so that I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to be able to hack reading the rest of it.

Problem was, of course, that I was hooked. I wanted to know what was coming next… and next… and next… and there I was, suddenly at the end of the book- blimey, what a ride!

I think that a lot of the allure of this story is that it is a trio of ‘normal’ people who get caught up in a world that couldn’t be more alien to them, and the fact that one of the trio is an 8 week old, innocent baby serves as a great counterpoint to the horrible crimes that are in play throughout the book.

There were a couple of elements that I wasn’t massively keen on. As I mention above, part of the allure is the fact that this is all about terrible things happening to normal people- but I found that at times, Alice and Harry are passive characters- they’re just being swept along by the tide of what’s happening to them rather than having much say or part in creating their own story. However, in the third act, this is turned on its head, creating an un-put-downable climax.

Minor, vague spoiler coming up – skip to next paragraph to avoid. The second thing that I wasn’t 100% sure of was the ending. I like to see the baddies get a good, thorough comeuppance if they are caught – and there were a couple in this that I really wanted dealt with thoroughly… but it was left fairly open as to what would happen to them. For me, this pair were the main villains of the piece, and I would have enjoyed knowing that they were dealt with!

All in all, it was a good read- very uncomfortable at times, with one of the most gripping opening scenes I've ever read and an action packed, fast-paced third act. I’ll be interested to see what Tom Bale comes up with next!

The Blurb
How far would you go to save your family?

In the dead of night, new parents Alice and Harry French are plunged into their worst nightmare when they wake to find masked men in their bedroom. Men ruthless enough to threaten their baby daughter, Evie. 

This is no burglary gone wrong. 

The intruders know who they’re looking for – a man called Edward Renshaw. 
And they are prepared to kill to get to him. 

When the men leave empty handed, little do Alice and Harry realise that their nightmare is just beginning. Is it a case of mistaken identity? Who is Renshaw? And what is he hiding? 

One thing is clear – they already know too much. 

As Alice and Harry are separated in the run for their lives, there is no time to breathe in their fight to be reunited. And with their attackers closing in, there is only one choice: 


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Cupcakes Are Dead! Long Live The… Cupcake? (Sigh)


Excuse me while I have a teeny tiny rant about the over-use of sweet, sugary foodstuffs in our beloved reading matter.

Please understand, dear reader, that I’m not a hater of rom-com and chick lit. My tastes may be broadening to include some dark and grizzly thrillers here and there, but I haven’t abandoned my pastel coloured roots – after all, my blogging journey started out at Chick Lit Love - and that’s a love that’ll never die.


For the love of all that is pink and quirky and funny and sassy PLEASE stop basing your books around sugary food-stuffs. Isn’t it time to move on from stories to do with Cupcakes, Cafes, Sweetshops, Ice Cream, Chocolate Shops (etc… insert your own here…)

In fact…

I’m going to broaden my rant a little here. I’ve now got a personal reading embargo going on. I won’t be reading any books along the above lines from now on… but neither will I be reading anything that has a title generated by the following formula:

The + insert adjective + insert anywhere you can buy anything + 

“by the” / “in the”/ “on the” / “near the” (or similar) + insert location

Sorry, but there you have it. Surely it’s time to start playing with some new and exciting titles? Ones that hook the reader before they even start reading? Remember those?

The sad thing is, that in amongst these sugar-fuelled, similarly titled books are some stunning stories that I know I’m going to be missing out on… but I just can’t bring myself to add to the mountain.

What are your thoughts. Anyone else out there suffering from a similar allergic reaction?

See you soon,
Laura x

p.s. I mean absolutely no offence to individual authors- I've read and enjoyed tonnes of these titles- 
I'm just thinking it might be time for some new ideas on the settings and titles front!
p.p.s I'm also aware that it's not always up to the author. So. Editors and marketing teams - 
I'm looking at you kid(s) :)

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Review: Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

I can’t tell you how excited I was when a parcel from Penguin Ireland arrived containing Liz Nugent’s new novel, Lying In Wait. I’ve been dying to read more of her work having devoured her debut, Unravelling Oliver, in 2014. It might have been a bit of a wait, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Lying in Wait sees Liz return with a second book that, if anything, is even more disturbing than her first. 

It all starts with Lydia and Andrew, an upstanding, respectable couple killing a young woman and burying her in the garden of their beautiful mansion. Then you get to the exciting part- the rest of the book follows the shockwaves of this brutal attack as they resonate through the years- following their hellish trail as the writer explores the impact of this event on the lives of everyone connected– and the reason it happened in the first place.

I have come to the conclusion that the worst possible outcome for ANYONE is to be born into the world as a character in a Liz Nugent novel. She isn’t afraid to put them all through the ringer, and by the end of Lying in Wait, it felt like she’d doled out equal measures of suffering to pretty much all of her imaginary friends.

I find that many thriller writers rely hooking their readers with gory description and sensationalist revelations, but Liz’s skill goes way beyond this- it lies in the slow, insidious nature of the pain and suffering her characters are submitted to- and the close examination of the ways in which the consequences of a single event- usually the outcome of one character's madness- can echo through so many lives for so many years.

I can’t go further than this without spoiling Lying in Wait for you– but I can tell you that when I came to the last page, I closed the book with a shudder of disgust as well as an acute desire to read the next Liz Nugent novel asap! Brilliant, mesmerising and, as with Unraveling Oliver, truly disturbing.

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

The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don't plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.

Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.

But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl's family may be the undoing of his own.

Available to pre-order now. This is definitely going to be one of my top reads of 2016!

Paperback:                   Kindle:

Monday, 6 June 2016

‘Deleted Scenes’ -From the Cutting-Room Floor of 'Break Up Club'

Hi everyone! I'm thrilled to welcome Lorelei Mathias to the blog today - talking all things editing, and showcasing some of those deleted scenes that we rarely get a glimpse of! ... Over to Lorelei...

Following on from my post on Holly Bookaholic's blog - about how editing is such an important theme in the book, my editor Natasha and I thought it would be fun to share some of the deleted scenes from the novel itself.

These ones I’ve dug out were actually deleted way before they made it to Natasha’s desk (thank goodness). I don’t think I need to explain why they were shed, but mostly, they were dragging down the pace of the book.

We all thought it would be fun to share them, in the interests of celebrating the power of editing.
So, in the manner of a DVD Special Features section, here are some of the ‘deleted scenes’ that got away in Break Up Club.


‘Out-Breaks’ – Scenes from the cutting-room floor

Deleted Scene 1 - “Mont Blanc, and Other Low Points”

Eventually, Holly arrived at work with only minor bruising. The rest of the morning was spent in and

out of the toilet, in thrall to the ebb and flow of her nausea. In between that, she mostly watched Youtube links from friends, finding them all far funnier than they were. But by mid-afternoon the hangover had changed gear and an unrelenting doom took hold.

This was the trouble with Happy, she was slowly realising. Happy was all well and good, to a point; but you never knew when its sell by date was. The trouble with feeling happy when you were heartbroken was that, at some point you’d remember you were heartbroken again. So any elation was like a rising balloon that you desperately wanted to hold on to; but the higher you got, the steeper the drop would be. You could enjoy the temporary feeling of lightness – but eventually you’d remember again, you’d lose your grip of the balloon, and back down you’d fall.

Maybe, just maybe, alcohol wasn’t actually her friend, she wondered as she tried to distract herself by checking her emails. But all she had was a message from ‘Laterooms.com,’ telling her that there was a brilliant offer on this weekend at The White Room Hotel, St.Ives. As ever, the Internet seemed hell-bent on delving into the vault of romantic e-commerce and spitting out reminders at random – of every mini-break, present and thoughtful little thing she’d ever done for Lawrence in their five year tenure. She quickly deleted the email in the hope that it would stop any happy memories from being stirred. But she was too slow; she’d already been accosted by the thought of an evening they’d spent in one of their favourite restaurants in St Ives. Despite herself, she pressed Play on the memory, sat back and watched.

Holly had arrived late to meet Lawrence, and was stood in the doorway of the restaurant, faffing about with her bags – trying to find her mobile, losing a war against gravity with the many layers she was juggling in her arms. Looking around for Lawrence but unable to see him, she had then begun that funny pantomime-esque dance; the one where you’re walking round the restaurant, knowing full-well that the person you’re looking for can see you and is probably waving at you like mad. 

Meanwhile the whole restaurant is laughing their head off at how silly you look, because you just can’t see them anywhere. So when Holly had finally reached Lawrence after about three hours of flapping, he was grinning at her, a look of adoration in his blue eyes, and just out of nowhere he’d said,

‘I love you.’

Like he’d just thought of it, that second. She’d been floored at the time. It was just so wonderfully not the way you’d normally say something like that for the first time. Its spontaneity was what she’d loved most about it. What she’d loved most about him.

‘Thank you!’ she’d said, ‘Love you too,’ and she’d kissed him on the lips, leaning across the table, her long hair only just avoiding a dalliance with the cheesy garlic bread.

As the balloon went rising into the air, Holly decided it was time to take herself to the toilet, to be alone with her pointless reminiscing. You and Lawrence have done your time. Your sentence is over, she kept telling herself. But the finality of it, and the knowledge he was with someone else already; it was too much.

She headed down the corridor, not before clocking Luke ahead of her in the hallway. Which was brilliant, considering she had pretty much never looked worse? She thought about saying hello, but she couldn’t find her voice box, so instead opted for the much more mature approach: lowering the eyes, and marching on prudently as though you’ve not even seen them. Excellent, good save.

Moments later she was sat in the warm bosom of the women’s toilet. She had a nice long, cathartic cry. She opened her mobile phone and began to flick through which BUC member to call. If only Bella was around to speak to. She tried logging into Skype to see if she was randomly online, but her new-fangled smart phone kept on asking her to log in again and asking her to type in security words that really weren’t words, which was all too complicated in her present state of mind. So she gave up on Skype and put her phone into her pocket, realising her nose was in urgent need of blowing.

As she dispatched another batch of snotty tissues into the toilet, she looked down. Oops. She’d blown her nose so many times, and mopped her tears up with such a mountain of toilet roll that it now seemed as if Mont Blanc had sprouted up then and there in the toilet. Uh oh, time to go, she decided, leaping up and flushing the chain, twice.

But it wasn’t having any of it. She flushed it again. Nothing. In fact, if anything, Mont Blanc was now even sturdier. She began to prod at the mountain with the toilet brush. Nothing. Worse, even. Soggy little bits of loo roll were now caught up in the tendrils of the brush.

Could this get any worse, she wondered, bending down to get a better purchase on the u-bend. As she leaned in, naturally, her new smart phone fell into the toilet, landing at the summit of Mont Blanc. She fished the watery Nokia out and dumped it in her bag, too exhausted to react. She returned to the blockage.

After ten minutes of pretending to be a plumber, she gave up and returned the sopping wet toilet brush to its mother ship. And ran.

Two hours later, she saw through the gap in her doorway that there appeared to be water seeping down the corridor, from under an adjacent doorway. Oops. Maybe the time has come to stop drinking so much, she decided, as she heard a beep and saw a new email come in.

Through the fog of her hangover she could just about make out the words.

‘(High Importance): ALL STAFF: the ladies toilets are currently out of service while we tend to a major blockage/flooding incident. In the meantime we are allowed to use the conveniences in Princely Productions next door. Thanking you, Anthea Jessops, Head of Facilities.’
Holly pressed delete and buried her head in her pillow.

Deleted Scene 2. “Nutrition Advice”

‘I’m serious. No food has passed my lips in days. Unless you count my own mucous, from crying so much,’ Bella said. ‘Does nasal mucous have any nutritional value I wonder? It must do. That’s all that’s in me, and I’m still going, aren’t I?’

‘Well, it’s either nutritious or you’re living off fat reserves,’ said Olivia.

‘It’s quite an efficient system,’ said Bella. ‘First, I cry my eyes out for hours. Then the tears begin the mucous production, and that’s enough to give me enough energy to keep crying the whole day. Kind of like a deranged version of The Water Cycle, like you did in school.’

‘Shall I make a diagram?’ asked Bella, reaching into her bag for her notebook

Deleted Scene 3.“The Name Game”

‘Jenny Microwave.’

Holly exploded with laughter. ‘Alright. That’s a good one.’

‘Yeah Hi! I’m Jenny Microwave!’ he said through laughter. ‘Now you.’

‘Oh, I can’t think of any more just now. I’m not really in the zone. How about, Peter… no. Francesca… Francesca Upholstery.’

Lawrence guffawed. ‘Jimmy Cutlery,’ he retorted, barely missing a beat. ‘Hey, I think Jimmy and Jenny would make a nice couple, don’t you? And if Jimbob ever made an honest woman of Jenny, she’d become Jenny Cutlery! Awesome. Your turn.’

Holly thought for a moment, then gave in. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t think of any more. Maybe we can leave it there for today?!’ She gave her boyfriend a nudge.

It was infantile at best, but when no one else was around, Holly and Lawrence would play a few rounds of The Name Game. It was their dark secret, but the rules were simple. You just had to say the most stupid fictional name that came into your head. Usually, the optimum humour could be derived by juxtaposing a regular forename with a surname comprising a domestic appliance of some sort. No one else knew about this game, which had passed the time for them over many a journey on the London Underground.

‘Oh, OK. We need to get off in a few minutes anyway,’ said Lawrence.

Holly was puzzled. ‘No, we don’t. We’re nowhere near Tufnell Park!’

Deleted Scene 4. “Free-Wheeling”

‘Yeah! I so know what you mean!’ said Holly. ‘Like, the other day, I was on my way to work when I saw this girl riding past on her bike, pulling a wheelie bag along with it on the ground, while she was riding. It looked so awkward and cumbersome, but she was smiling away, so somehow, she pulled it off! And I just thought, that’s awesome! And I laughed out loud with her, she caught my eye and smiled as if to say yeah, why not… and I got my phone out to ring Lawry and tell him, and then I remembered.’

Deleted Scene 5.“Eff-Off”

 ‘Well at least you’re not being E-persecuted,’ said Bella as she poured out some Margaritas to accompany the Mexican themed dinner which Olivia had been preparing. ‘Even Amazon is out to get me these days. Through the medium of ‘past-buyer mailings’, it sends me ‘thoughtful’ suggestions related to every gift I’ve ever bought Sam on there. Which is a lot of things.’

‘I mean, really,’ said Holly. ‘What really gets me is when Facebook sends me ‘friend suggestions’ – you know this person and this person ¬– ‘why not add Lawrence Edward Hill as a friend’?

‘You’re kidding? I wish FB would F OFF, sometimes!’ yelled Bella, drinking her Margarita like water.

Deleted Scene 6. “Admin Error”

‘OK…well, you’re going to think I’m pathetic beyond belief, but… I haven't been able to stop thinking about Mr Film Buff... So I did a very sad thing. I searched through the ‘groups’ on Facebook around the Hackney and Dalston area, and it turns out there is actually a group for the ‘The Film Shop’ on Broadway Market.’

‘Oh B, you’re actually ill,’ said Holly.

‘And guess who the Admin of the group is? ADAM! His name is Adam! And it’s him! How mad is that! So I’ve added him as a friend.’

‘You really must stop spoiling the surprise about all your prospects!’ reprimanded Harry. ‘Stop stalking them – I bet you know all about his life now don’t you? Also, is he not going to wonder how on earth you found him?’

Bella looked a little worried, as though she’d not quite thought of that. ‘It’s fine. He’ll probably just ignore my friend request anyway.’

‘You can find ANYONE these days,’ said Olivia. ‘Even if they don’t want to be found.’

Deleted Scene 7. “Blue Cheese”

An hour later, Harry came into the kitchen to see her lying on the sofa, an empty packet of Cheddars at her feet. She opened her eyes to see distinct disappointment on his face.

‘Holly, beautiful girl. I don’t think you’re getting on that well without BUC, are you? This compulsive dating certainly isn’t helping. And neither is all this late-night bingeing.’

‘Yes,’ she said as he sat down next to her.

‘Cheese isn’t going to fill the hole, Hol. Temporarily, yes. But not long-term,’ he said slowly, as though it was an ancient Sanskrit proverb. ‘Neither are cheese-ball men, come to think of it.’

‘You’re right,’ she said, mulling over each word, marvelling at his profound wisdom.

She hugged Harry as they both looked out the window over Fortess Road. ‘Jesus Harry, is this a break up, or a quarter-life-sodding-crisis?’

Harry laughed and squeezed her hand. ‘Come here,’ he said, folding her into his arms, as her hot tears slipped down her cheeks and into his hair.

The Blurb:


Holly Braithwaite and loveable loser Lawrence have been together for five years. But the obvious cracks in their relationship can no longer be ignored and Holly soon finds herself saying ‘it’s not me, it’s you’.

In the shock aftermath of their break up, Holly finds unlikely companions in Olivia, Harry and Bella. Together, they form the Break-Up Club, as they support each other through their mutual melancholy and find ways to love, laugh and function as human beings again.

Break-Up Club meets every Sunday. Each week, as the comedy and drama unfolds, they discover a new BUC ‘rule’. And, one by one, the rules become vital markers on their journey to recovery . . .

To our members, we’re the first emergency service


Key links:

Find out more about the author at: www.Loreleimathias.com, on Twitter @LoreleiMathias  and Facebook