Laura Bambrey Books

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

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.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Blog Tour: Penhaligon's Attic by Terri Nixon

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on Terri Nixon’s blog tour for Penhaligon’s Attic, the first book in the Penhaligon Saga

A Quick Peek Into My Thoughts:

This is the perfect book to snuggle down with in front of the fire. As the rain lashes and the wind blows- no matter where you are- you will be whisked to the wild Cornish coast and the close-knit community whose support means life or death on a daily basis.

I do love a bit of historical now and then- and this was definitely one of those times! What I look for in a historical novel is to be immersed in the period and in the story, without feeling like I'm in a history lecture. I don’t know how the author has managed it, but she made feel as though I was an intimate part of this poor fishing community.

The reader gets to see Freya grow from a little girl to a young woman in the blink of an eye, so when her and her family’s lives stand to be affected so strongly by the arrival of Anna, Mairead and the air of mystery that surrounds them, we’re drawn in – unable to look away from the pages.

This brilliant book has so much pace that it kept me hooked from beginning to end. There’s plenty of plot, and the intrigue and mystery is backed up by a cast of characters whose complex histories, relationships and hardships have ensured that I’m desperate to get my hands on the next book in the series.

I highly recommend you grab a copy when it comes out on the 1st of December!

Paperback:                   Kindle:


The Blurb:

1910. Anna Garvey arrives in Caernoweth, Cornwall with her daughter and a secret. Having come from Ireland to take up an inheritance of the local pub, she and her eighteen year-old daughter Mairead are initially viewed with suspicion by the close-knit community.

Anna soon becomes acquainted with Freya Penhaligon, a vulnerable girl struggling to keep her family business afloat in the wake of her grandmother's death, and starts to gain the trust of the locals. As their friendship deepens, and Freya is brought out of her shell by the clever and lively Mairead, even Freya's protective father Matthew begins to thaw.

But when a part of Anna's past she'd long tried to escape turns up in the town, she is forced to confront the life she left behind - for her sake and her daughter's too...

About the Author

Terri Nixon was born in Plymouth in 1965. At the age of nine she moved with her family to Cornwall, to the village featured in Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn – North Hill – where she discovered a love of writing that has stayed with her ever since. Her first commercially published novel was Maid of Oaklands Manor, published by Piatkus in 2013. She has since published two more novels in the Oaklands Manor trilogy: A Rose in Flanders Fields and Daughter of Dark River Farm.

Friday, 18 November 2016

#Friday5: The Loves & Loathes of a Book Blogger

I know we’ve talked before, but there are certain things that really fire us book bloggers up and help us feel the love – and things that make us want to chew our own arms off. So, here you go- the loves and loathes of a book blogger…

1. Love

The most obvious love for me is the books. It’s a real pleasure and a privilege to have the opportunity to read early copies of future bestsellers- and perhaps feeling like we’re a small part of the story of that book reaching its readers.

2. Loathe

I sometimes feel like I’ve abandoned old favourites. As a busy book-blogger, you’re always thinking ahead to what’s coming out next – next week, next month and even next year. It means that re-reading a book can become something of a longed-for luxury… and sometimes there are books that came out last month or last year that you’d love to read… but it would mean falling behind on what’s coming up next!

3. Love

I love getting to know authors, agents and publishers. This is such an incredibly supportive community of people to be a part of – and having a hoard of book-mad-mates just a tweet away is an endless comfort. Fancy chatting about your current read at 3am? No problem!

4. Loathe

It’s kind of the opposite of point 3 I suppose. You’ve read, you’ve loved, you’ve reviwed…tagged…tweeted…shared… and there’s complete radio-silence. Boo hiss! 

5. Love

The disgruntled look on our postman’s face as he drops off yet another parcel. Poor old postman Steve! (Post-mistress Katie doesn't mind so much as she likes to borrow my books when I'm done :) ) Book post is the best!

Have a fabulous weekend my lovelies, and see you all next week.
Laura x

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Weekly Series: Men Are Like Bras by J. R. Preston: Part 1

I'm so excited to introduce my new weekly Tuesday posts featuring original, serialised writing from some incredible authors. Welcome to week one of Men Are Like Bras by J. R. Preston!

Men Are Like Bras

How to find one that fits

By J. R. Preston


They pinch, they rub, they let you down. They look great but offer little in the way of support. They are a constant compromise between comfort and glamour. They promise you the earth- and all too often leave you dangling. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Men are like bras. It’s an uncomfortable fact. The similarities are far too numerous to mention. In this book the words ‘man’ and ‘bra’ are therefore synonymous and interchangeable. When you see the word ‘bra’ think of it as meaning your boyfriend, partner, fiancée, lover or husband. Your bra history would be the crumpled pile of discarded ex’s in your past, your bra future- all the men you have yet to try on for size.

Through the course of this book you will discover what distinguishes a god bra from a bad bra, how sometimes the bra that you want isn’t necessarily the bra that you need, and why the secret of choosing the right bra isn’t really a secret at all. You don’t have to be a psychotherapist or an expert in lingerie design either. Men and bras present many of the same problems- problems that benefit from the same simple solutions.

We all know that finding the perfect partner can be a heart-breaking, humiliating and expensive adventure. The good news is- in a world where men are like bras- relationships no longer seem quite so overwhelming, so complex- they are merely a question of style and fitting.


There are any number of reasons why you might want to read this book:

  • Maybe you’ve never had a bra before- this is your first time and you want to know what all the fuss is about.
  • Or you’ve had many bras, but none have ever lived up to expectations.
  • Or maybe you’ve had the same bra for ages and it’s time for a change.
  • Or perhaps your current bra is okay, but there’s no harm in finding out what else is available.
  • Maybe bras have always been something of a mystery to you.
  • Or you’ve given up on bras completely- after a bad bra experience.
  • Or you feel your bra is holding you back, not holding you up.
  • Or maybe you are a bra- and you just want to see where you are going wrong.

Whatever the reason, this book offers practical, easy to follow advice that will point you in the right direction- towards a happier, and ultimately more fulfilling relationship with your bra.

I hope you enjoyed that- let me know what you think in the comments- and don't forget to pop back next Tuesday for the next instalment :)

Laura x

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Blog Tour: Review: A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn

Happy Sunday book lovers, and welcome to my stop on the A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas blog tour. Once you’re done here- don’t forget to hope around the other blogs taking part and see what they have got to say!

So – for my part of the tour, I’m going to bring you a short Sunday review. First let me say that this is the first Darcie Boleyn book I’ve read- and that makes me very happy as, come pay-day, it’s going to mean a downloading spree as I catch up with her other books over the Christmas period. Yup, I’m a convert. A fan. A reader that will now have Darcie Boleyn books pre-ordered as far in advance as possible. Does that tell you a little bit about what I thought of the book?

Lucie and Dale have been best friends since they were children. But where Dale has a large, loud and loving family who always make Christmas a special time of year, Lucie has suffered loss and heartbreak over the years– and the magic is completely lost on her- despite Dale and his family’s best efforts.  So, when Lucie receives a wedding invitation that will take her to New York for Christmas, she sees it as the perfect escape- but it’s an escape she doesn’t want to make without her best friend by her side.

A comedy of errors ensues- but Dale and Lucie make it to New York, and as the snow falls, we’re treated to a truly magical festive tale.

Lucie is a lovable, damaged heroine that you can’t help but root for all the way through the story, wishing hard for her happy ending. And Dale- well, I’ll let you make your own minds up – but I wouldn’t mind him in my Christmas stocking!

This is a warm, festive story full of friendship, healing and love. There are no massive twists or surprises, and this is what makes it the perfect gentle, Christmas read. Funny, moving and romantic, you’ll fall in love with both the hero, and with New York.

Grab your copy here...


The Blurb:

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

Friday, 11 November 2016

#Friday5: 5 Questions with Isabelle Broom

You might know Isabelle Broom as Heat Magazine's Book Reviews Editor… or perhaps from chairing panels at various fabulous book events… or, of course, you might know her as the author of last year’s stand-out debut, My Map of You. Well, next week, her second book hits the shelves. A Year And A Day will whisk you to a cold and wintry Prague to spend time with three unforgettable heroines (you can read my review of A Year And A Day here).

So, with her second book due, I thought that Isabelle would be the perfect candidate for my first #Friday5 interview- and lucky for me- she agreed to have her brain picked!

1. How has the process of writing your second novel differed from your debut last year? 

The main thing is time. When I wrote My Map Of You, I wasn’t contracted to my publisher yet, so essentially I didn’t have a deadline. I was able to spend the best part of a year writing that book, but this time around I had under four months to get the first draft of A Year And A Day in. Luckily, I come from a weekly magazine background, and thrive on tight deadlines. I wrote every single day of those four months, and as such I was incredibly immersed in the story and characters. It was exhausting and emotional, but utterly exhilarating. And there’s something truly magical about writing a book you know people are waiting to read. I didn’t have that with book one, I just wrote it because I couldn’t not.

2. Your books so far have drawn heavily from their settings – Zakynthos for My Map Of You and Prague for A Year And A Day. How much time did you spend ‘on location’ researching? How important is the setting in your writing process?

Well, in the case of Zakynthos, I’d been visiting the island every year since 2000, and had even lived there for a time, so I knew the place inside out. I did go back out for a week in October 2014, when I was about halfway through the first draft, and it was odd because we landed in a huge storm that was exactly the same as the storm Holly gets caught in. I was able to get some very good notes! With Prague, I had visited the city twice before and loved it, but as soon as I decided to set book two there, I did pop over to refresh my memories and do some additional research. I was in the city for four days on my own, and wrote over 20,000 words in that time – it was brilliant! As far as the setting goes, it’s absolutely vital. I honestly believe that a place can change a person, and it’s this that I want to continue to explore through my novels. Luckily for me, the world is a very big place!

3. Which writers have been your inspiration on your journey to becoming an author? 

Oh gosh, so many. Going back into my childhood, I would say Roald Dahl definitely inspired me. What a mind! Then, during my teenage years, it was all about Jilly Cooper. Her characterisation is up there with the very best, and I must have read all her big ‘bonkbusters’ at least four times over. I worship JK Rowling – she got an entire generation back into reading – and in the past few years I’ve been hugely inspired by Rosie Walsh (formerly writing as Lucy Robinson), Cesca Major, Stella Newman, Katie Marsh, David Whitehouse and Jennifer Niven. All authors inspire me, though, to be honest. Writing a novel is an epic achievement.

4. With your ‘reader and reviewer’ hat on, which books are you most looking forward to getting your hands on next? 

Oh, Rosie Walsh’s, without a doubt. Mantle are publishing her new book The Man Who Didn’t Call next summer and I’m SO excited to get my hands on it. Others on my must-read list are Gilly McAllister’s Everything But The Truth, David Whitehouse’s The Long Forgotten (arriving 2018) and Cecelia Ahern’s Perfect, which is the sequel to her brilliant YA book of this year, Flawed.

5. Can you give us any hints about what we can expect from you in the future? Is book 3 in the pipeline? Where will you take us next?

I can do more than give you a hint, I can tell you the title and setting! Book 3 is called Then, Now, Always, and it’s set in a place called Mojacar in Spain. I can’t give away too much about the story, but I can tell you that it’s about sisters, friendship, love and forgiveness. It’s also my first novel written in the first person, which I’m hugely excited about, so look out for that in April. Coming up on my destination list next are Italy, Sri Lanka, Canada, New Zealand and Austria… Like I said, it’s a big old world. I plan to keep travelling and writing books for as long as I can!


Huge thanks to Isabelle for joining me here on #Friday5! You can follow her on Facebook here, find her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom

Paperback:                   Kindle:                      Paperback:                Kindle:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Review: A Year And A Day by Isabelle Broom

Brace yourself for another atmospheric book by Isabelle Broom. I loved Isabelle’s debut, My Map of You, which came out last year, so I was really excited to add a review copy of A Year and a Day to my TBR pile!

As with My Map of You, A Year and a Day whisks the reader off on holiday – but this time it’s to Prague. Three separate women, three complicated love lives- and one magical city in the winter provide a life-changing holiday.

Megan is in Prague with her best friend Ollie. As a primary teacher, he is researching the city for his classes. Megan is a photographer and is looking for inspiration to strike, and will do anything to stay focused on her dream. She won’t let anything de-rail her- not her history, and not even poor Ollie.

Hope is being treated to a much-needed break with her new man, Charlie. But her guilt over what she has done to the people she loves simply won’t let her relax and enjoy the beauty around her.

Sophie is returning to the city that she and her fiancé love so much. She can’t wait until Robin joins her to continue their adventure together. Over the course of A Year and a Day, this group of strangers who share the same hotel become friends – and their lives will never be the same again.

It’s impossible to talk about a book by Isabelle Broom without first talking about the setting. Prague plays such a huge role here that, in truth, the city is the main character. Full of history and atmosphere, it provides the perfect backdrop to a story that is full of growing suspense as well as romance that really hits you where it hurts. The book is rich with description- I feel like I’ve sat in the restaurants, eaten the food, crunched through the snow and felt the cold creep into my bones… all from the warmth and comfort of my living room!

The characters are very real- full of sharp edges, insecurities and fears. But they are also full of wonder and love and kindness. I found myself rooting for them all- hoping against hope that they would all find their happy ending.

A Year and a Day is an excellent read- full of atmosphere, tension, mystery, romance and true love. I thoroughly recommend tucking into it whilst wrapped in a blanket, sitting in front of an open fire with plenty of cocoa on tap.

A Year and a Day will be out on the 17th November 2016 - you can pre-order your copy here:

Paperback:                 Kindle:

The Blurb:

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she's determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything - and she won't let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it's all her fault...
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can't stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past...

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Blog Tour: The Honey Trap by Mary Jayne Baker

Hi everyone! I'm very excited to be today's stop on Mary Jayne Baker's new release from Harper Impulse... here you go... one very juicy extract for your enjoyment!

Extract from chapter 20 – Hollywood Dreams fancy dress fundraiser

‘Seb. You’re here.’ Angel blinked hard, trying to focus.

‘Are you okay?’ His voice was gentle and she was aware of his hand still resting on her shoulder. She should probably brush it off. That’s what Emily and Leo would say. But they were back at the flat, probably listening to Barry White and doing the no-pants dance by now. She shot a dazed grin up at Seb, stifling a little giggle.

‘How much champagne have you had, Angel?’ he asked. ‘Can I get someone for you? Leo?’

She shook her head from side to side, whipping her hair about her shoulders in an effort to sober up a bit. It wasn’t like she’d had enough to be fall-down drunk – well, okay, not quite. But the headache that felt like it was nutting her between the eyes was making the room’s dancing disco lights into a solid, buzzy blur.

‘I’m okay, Seb, really. Just a few glasses. Got a splitting headache, that’s all.’

She blinked again, bringing him into soft focus. She could see one powerful arm in front of her while he leaned on the table, still staring with that worried expression into her face. His tight t-shirt really did leave nothing to the imagination.

‘You’re really bringing the gun show tonight,’ she said, running her eyes along the sleek ripple of his muscles. Okay, so it seemed she’d definitely had enough wine to send her inhibitions on an all-expenses-paid holiday to Nowheresville. If she didn’t know herself better, she’d think she was almost flirting. ‘Who are you supposed to be, anyway? Rebel Without a Cause James Dean or Streetcar Named Desire Marlon Brando?’

Seb let his face loosen into a grin. ‘Brando, of course. That’s the first rule of fancy dress in the Wilchester book. If you can be Brando, always be Brando.’

‘Couldn’t agree more.’

‘Bit slutty though? Cheapening myself by showing too much arm?’ He gave the muscles a comical flex, making her giggle.

‘View looks good from here.’

Seb laughed, deepening those gorgeous dimples. Angel remembered the last time she’d seen him, his face stained with tears while he’d struggled to tell her the story of his childhood. She was glad she could make him laugh.

‘And now I have to guess who you are, don’t I?’ he said. ‘I’m thinking someone who goes by the name Bond, James Bond? Unless you’re one of the penguin waiters from Mary Poppins and that bulge under your jacket means you’re just pleased to see me.’

Angel giggled again. She pulled out the plastic gun from the waistband of her trousers and placed it on the table. The throbbing had subsided a bit now and she was starting to feel more like herself. She put one hand on his arm, smiling up at him. ‘I like you when you’re funny.’

Seb cast a look of surprise down at her fingertips on his skin. Wincing, she jerked her hand away, embarrassed by what she’d just heard herself say. Okay, so it turned out her inhibitions hadn’t quite gone…

‘Hey, are you sure you’re okay?’ The note of concern had crept back into his voice. ‘You seem a bit out of it, Angel. Where are your friends?’

‘Well, Emily took Leo home over an hour ago. Hopefully by now they’re at least at third base.’

‘Leo?’ Seb looked confused. ‘I thought he came with you.’

‘With me?’ she said, looking at him with surprise. ‘Seb, I told you. We’re not together like that, not any more. Just friends.’

‘Oh. I thought… well, you guys seemed so close that day at the studio. Sorry. I had no right to assume.’

‘No. You didn’t.’ She pushed the bridge of her nose into her fingers again and screwed up her eyes to shut out the juddering haze of disco lighting, trying to relieve the thump-thump pounding in her brain. It was getting worse, and this conversation wasn’t helping. It was all… confusing. And she had to remember Carole. Carole was his wife. Carole was ill and getting help. Mustn’t forget… mustn’t let myself forget.

Don't want to stop there? You can grab your copy here:

Paperback:                 Kindle:

The Blurb:
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?

Author bio:
Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she's
still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature in 2003, she dallied with living in cities including London, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales.

She lives with him in a little house with four little cats and a little rabbit, writing stories about girls with flaws and the men who love them. You can usually find her there with either a pen, some knitting needles or a glass of wine in hand. She goes to work every day as a graphic designer for a magazine publisher, but secretly dreams of being a lighthouse keeper.

More information can be found about MJ on her website at www.maryjaynebaker.co.uk. You can also follow her on Twitter, @MaryJayneBaker, or like her Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/MaryJayneWrites

Friday, 4 November 2016

#Friday5: Bookish Things That Get My Goat!

Happy Friday book lovers! And welcome to a new feature on the blog. Yup - every Friday I'll be bringing you lists of 5 - whether that's a 5 question interview, a list of 5 delicious things to buy or see in the world of books... or, if we're talking about today... 5 things that make me cringe when I'm reading!

I don't know about you, but there are certain sayings, turns of phrase and author tics that make my skin crawl. I guess it might be something to do with being a reviewer and getting through the number of books I read each a week... perhaps it condenses these awful moments and makes them seem even worse. Or maybe I'm just a pernickety-old-grouchy-pants! Either way- here are my top 5 current cringe-worthy reading moments.

1. The 'closed mouth smile'

Okay. I know what you're telling me. I know it's one of those smiles with the lips together- no teeth. Perhaps a little bit tight-lipped, sarcastic or mysterious. But- isn't this just the ugliest bit of English out there? Use it once, maybe I'll let you off. But one recent read had over a dozen instances of this heinous description. One even had their character saying something "through a closed mouth smile." Not physically possible people.

2. Utterly

I just don't like this word. Sorry. I don't mind it once or twice, but used once or twice per page throughout the entire novel and you'll have me in tears.

Speaking of which...

3. Descriptions of crying

I have a bit of a thing about eyes- so maybe this is something really personal. But this need some writers have to find a new and quirky description of crying makes me shudder. Some of the worst have been "hot liquid running down her face" and "tears pushing at the back of her eyeballs". Gross. Sometimes it's fine just to use the tried and tested word for things.

4. Incessant coffee drinking

Oh you know the one. There's need for a re-group and the characters have to discuss what's happened and what's going to happen - just so that the reader doesn't get lost. And they do it over yet another cup of coffee. Seriously authors, you are going to give your characters the shakes if you carry on like this! (And I hate to say it, but show- don't tell.)

5. The late description

I'm going along, loving the book. I've made my mind up quite happily about what everyone looks like based on my own imagination and the way the characters behave, and then BOOM. I'm half way through the book, and the writer decides to drop in a description of a character that is completely different to the person I've just spend half a book hanging out with. Ah MAN! I don't even fancy the hero any more :( I'm not saying don't describe them - I'm saying don't describe them so late that it's going to derail me and pull me out of the story.

I hope you've enjoyed my first #Friday5 - tell me, what makes you cringe when you're reading?
See you soon,
Laura x