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Laura Bambrey Books

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

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Win Tickets to Meet Sylvia Day!

So... who wants to win tickets to meet the incredible Sylvia Day? … is that you I can hear jumping up and down with your hand in the air? Thought so!

I have a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky winner for the exclusive launch party of Sylvia Day’s ‘One With You.’

On the 18th April, you and a friend could be attending a drinks reception at a secret central London location, where you will have the chance to meet Sylvia Day in person. She will be signing copies of One With You- the fifth and final instalment of the record-breaking Crossfire series... you'll also receive a goody-bag!


Vital statistics:

Who: A pair of tickets- one for you and one for a friend
What: For the exclusive UK launch party of One With You
Where: At a secret Central London location
When: 6pm–8pm on the 18th April 2016 (the event starts at 6pm- so you need to arrive by then!)
Why: Meet Sylvia Day in person, enjoy a drinks reception, go home with goody-bags… what else could you wish for?!

Sound good? Simply enter the competition via the RaffleCopter entry form below by midday on Tuesday, 5th of April. GOOD LUCK!

Please note that the competition is open in the UK only and the prize consists of entry tickets only- the winner must cover any travel and accommodation costs themselves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sylvia is also doing a UK tour and will also be visiting the following venues –

Wednesday 20th April:
1pm – 1.45pm – Nottingham: 
WH Smith, Victoria Centre, 124-126 Victoria Street, Nottingham NG1 3QD

4pm – 4.30pm – Sheffield: 
WH Smith, Unit 45, Meadowhall Centre, High Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S0 1EN

6pm – 7pm – Leeds: 
WH Smith, 3-7 Lands Lane, Leeds LS1 6AW

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review: Kitty’s Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow

I’d heard loads of great things about Kitty’s Countryside Dream, and was all ready to settle down to a really light, warm-hearted chick-lit extravaganza. Well, guys, I have to tell you that you’re in for an awful lot more than that.

Kitty inherits a small flat and Bluebell Lodge, a chicken farm, from her grandmother. A grandmother she never knew she had. As Kitty arrives, determined to make a fresh start for herself in this strange and completely unexpected new life, we are treated to a comedy of errors, and the stage seems set for a gentle, amusing romp of a grieving young heroine finding herself and healing the hurts she’s recently experienced.

But then – as you reach about a third of the way through, Kitty discovers a diary. As the narration splits between Kitty and the historical diary entries, the tension ramps things up into a complex, moving family mystery/saga that spans decades.

My one niggle with this book is that I found the first few chapters a little slow and it wasn’t really until the diary is discovered that I found myself gripped by the story – but from then onwards, it was a compelling read that I found myself desperate to get to the end of to find out how it all fitted together. And it really does have a fantastic ending.

In all, a great read, but with a dual personality. 

The Blurb:

New home. New life. New beginning. Love affairs can blossom in the most unlikely places . . .

When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom…

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, and the possibility of love, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream and blossoming relationship fall to pieces? When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems … 

Grab your copy of Kitty's Countryside Dream here:


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Review: Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I was already several chapters into Black Eyed Susans when my visit to London loomed. Seven hours on a train usually heralds the dusting down of my kindle- it’s nice and small, light, and I don’t have to commit to what I fancy reading in advance. Not this time! It didn’t matter what a chunky-monkey my copy of Black Eyed Susans was- it was coming with me. I was completely hooked.

I am fairly new to reading thrillers on a regular basis- having only dabbled in the occasional blast of James Patterson in the past. But blimey, this one is good. There are several things that really appealed to me about the story. Firstly, it doesn’t luxuriate in the grisly elements of the crime. Julia Heaberlin builds so much chilling tension into her writing, that it creates terror enough.

I loved the dual perspective of the storytelling. The young, 17 year old Tessa who has just survived the attack is raw, closed off, deliciously teenaged- and a nicely unreliable narrator. The adult Tessa initially convinces you that she’s far more balanced and reliable – but as the date for the execution of her imprisoned attacker comes nearer, you begin to question everything about her.

The chapters alternate between the young Tessa, undergoing counselling and overcoming her ordeal, and the adult Tessa, still trying to make sense of the missing parts of her memory- whilst trying to keep her own teenaged daughter safe. This device keeps the plot moving forward and means that even the slower scenes have you gripped.

Black Eyed Susans is a clever, chilling serial-killer thriller that will also appeal to readers of domestic ‘grip-lit’. And if that’s not enough to recommend it- my train journey was the fastest seven hours of my life- and as I approached my home station, I found myself wishing for a delay so that I could finish off the last few pages, undisturbed!

The Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a 'Black-Eyed Susan' by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars - or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa's bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.
Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter's safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it's too late?

Grab your copy of Black Eyed Susans here:

Monday, 21 March 2016

Event Round-Up: Blogger / Author Shenanigans- London



Wow, wow. WOW! What a weekend…

As many of you will know, I hopped on a (very early) train up to London to join a whole host of incredible people at the Blogger / Author Shenanigans on Saturday. I was so excited to be invited by Kim Nash over at Kim The Bookworm –thank you Kim! – and couldn’t possibly miss this opportunity to finally put some faces to the online avatars I’ve been chatting to for the past 8 years or so.

I had intended to vlog about the event. I even got a very early-morning intro shot on the way to the station and some lovely clips as the train trundled past the sea at Dawlish. But that was as far as it got- because the nerves and excitement kicked in, and frankly, there were far too many exciting people in that room to be wasting time trying to record whilst fighting the immense volume of the TV and chatter of 80-odd book lovers(!) so I decided I’d prefer to spend my time making introductions and new friends.

And boy did I meet a whole host of new friends! From the lovely Kirsty at The Curious Ginger Cat, Annette at SincerelyBookAngels and Adele at KraftiReader - all of whom were so kind, friendly and welcoming when I arrived that my nerves calmed a few degrees- even if my epic clumsiness didn’t!

Then there were the authors… some I managed to have a chat with such as the lovely T.A Williams (happy Book Birthday by the way Trevor!), charming Tom Bale, and incredible Karen Long… and Giselle Green… and Lorelei Matthias… and Barbara Copperthwait... and Heidi Swain … and and and... crikey... there were just too many fantastic authors there to list all of them (I wish I could) and every single one of them was a real joy to meet.

I have to mention here that I was especially thrilled to catch up with the lovely Talli Roland who was wearing two name-badges as she begins to spread the word about her new novel, The Day I Found You, which will be released under her new pseudonym, Leah Mercer.  Talli was the very first author I ever interviewed on my blogging journey- so I can’t wait to find out more about this exciting new stage in her career!


At this stage, I think I should just confess that there were moments, both with authors and with bloggers, where my nerves re-surfaced and I did a fabulous stunned-guppy impression and either just about managed a squeak in their direction (I’m looking at you Holly Martin!) or simply ran away… I’m sorry guys… sorry if I didn’t make much sense or if I didn’t manage to talk to you at all this time. But I look forward to meeting you in the future (and maybe managing an entire sentence!)

Chatting to people after the event, I’m surprised at how many of us were nervous… and perhaps that’s the lesson I’ve come away with this weekend. Talk to everyone you can, chances are they’re feeling exactly like you!

So, exhausted, ravenous and on a complete high- I slunk away from the party with the lovely Ann from Books and Authors UK for a bite to eat and loads more bookish gossip before she popped me on a bus back to Paddington (to avoid round 2 with the tube chaos- my hero!)

What a day. Thank you everyone for doing what you do and being who you are. See you all again soon!

Laura x

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Author and the Blogger: A Love Story

I originally wrote this post for Harper Collins' fabulous Romance Festival website - but having recently come back to blogging, I'm finding that some of the questions I'm being asked about blogging- by authors, publishers and other randomly interested people are very similar to those I addressed below- so I hope that you don't mind a bit of a re-post for #ThrowbackThursday!


***

We’re not a very complicated bunch, us book bloggers… We’re book mad, tend to have many, many (many) author crushes, and the echoes of our squealing when one of our favourite writers (or publishers… or agents) gets in touch with us has been known to linger for centuries in the outer reaches of the galaxy. We’re predisposed to be excitable and to be on your side. So, really, more than half the job is done for you before you even begin to woo us.


So what can you, the author, do to entice and hook this excitable and not at all elusive of creatures? Have a look at my top tips for romancing a blogger…

Checking Us Out…

Check the Guidelines

Make sure that you go searching for each blogger’s review policy and make a note of exactly what we are and are not looking for. We’re all different. One of my oddities is that I really don’t like review requests that come in via my Facebook page, but for one reviewing friend of mine, Facebook is her preferred method of communication. Ignoring these little preferences can result in your request being ignored even though your book may be exactly what we’re looking for!

Things in Common

Would you want to date someone whose one and only purpose in life is blowing up small furry creatures every weekend- when you yourself are a vegan, animal-rights activist? Nope, thought not! If you have nothing in common, or even worse, have directly conflicting views, the relationship is doomed to fail. Instantly. Spectacularly. Do your research. Does your chosen blogger read your genre? Do you like the way they review? Do they take part in blog tours? (The people who keep trying to send me non-fiction books on naval history would do well to take note of this one!)

Asking us out…

Get Personal

Dear “Name of Crush”,

I like the way your “Body part” makes you look all “Adjective” when you don’t think anyone’s looking. I’d like to take you to “Venue” and ….

If you received a love note that started out like this, with none of the blanks filled in, (besides being very creeped out) I’m guessing that you wouldn’t be accepting a date? Me neither. No one likes to feel like they’re just next in line on your Excel Spreadsheet. Personalise your communications. Show the blogger that you’ve bothered to find out their name, you’ve been to their site, you follow them on Twitter, maybe you like some of their reviews… why should we bother if you can’t be bothered?

Do It Yourself

Street Teams? I get it- I really do! Sometimes I wish I had a horde of bookish minions to deal with some of the blogging / reading / admin that comes my way. There’s certainly strength in numbers when spreading the word about a new book. But… BUT…Think about this in terms of sending someone over to ask out your crush for you. Are they going to be an embarrassment who picks their nose and flicks it at your object of desire or are they reliable enough to get your message across with no embarrassing blushes?

If you must use them, make sure they’re the right people and train them well- remember, they’re out there representing you! But no matter how fantastic the members of your Street Team are, I’m never going to be as interested in an email from them compared to one from you (or your publisher).

Going steady…

Straight and up front

As we all know, being honest in any relationship tends to nip problems in the bud before they’ve even formed. We’re all human, we all make mistakes and honesty is the best policy. A bunch of clich├ęs they may be, but still, it’s all true.

Did you have to cancel your blog tour? Have you double booked? Did you send someone the wrong email? Then contact us to discuss the issue as soon as any difficulties arise- we don’t tend to bite- unless you waste our time on purpose- it’s precious and there are an awful lot of books to read out there!

On the flip side, please remember that bloggers are also human- not reading and reviewing machines. We make mistakes too. And if we do, we’d much prefer to be given the chance to apologise and put them right (rather than being on the public end of a character assassination!) Don’t be afraid to give us a gentle nudge if we’ve forgotten something- but do be gentle, you never know what curve-balls ‘real-life’ may have thrown at us.

Show us the love

Make sure that you show your appreciation… flowers, chocolate, champagne… Oh, okay, maybe not… But a bit of tweeting, retweeting, Facebook linking, commenting on the blog post and a simple email to say ‘thank you’ is very much appreciated  Remember, bloggers tend to blog and review for the love of it- show us some love in return and before you know it you’ll have a long-term relationship on your hands!



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So there you have it- I hope bits of it come in handy! Check out the reams of fantastic posts from the Harper Collins Romance Festival at https://romance-festival.com/

See you soon,
Laura x

Friday, 11 March 2016

Review: The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent



There are good books, there are okay books, there are books you enjoy that slip quickly and quietly from your mind the moment you close the covers. And then there are those books that tilt your whole world as you are forced to shuffle your all-time-favourites down a notch to create room for them at the top.

These moments are rare- years can go by, and hundreds of books read between one of these rare reads and the next. Well- I’ve just found one.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent is a translation from the French. It tells the tale of Guylain Vignolles, who seems to have removed himself to the peripheries of his own life. He has various ways of dealing with the perceived misery of a job he hates and an empty existence. Guylain works at a book-pulping factory, and his only relief is found in the pages he saves from the machine, dries carefully and then reads aloud during his daily commute.

So- what made this so special? I know that I was reading this in translation, so I can’t comment on the original language, but in this version, not a single word was wasted. This slim volume packs a punch with its atmosphere and its characters. It was populated by a motley crew of oddities- that actually, on closer inspection, could be you, me and any of the people who live their lives around us. It may have weighed in at under 200 pages- but by the end of this book, I cared- I mean, really cared about these characters.

There’s also the fact that this book is a love letter to books,  celebrating both the beauty of physical books and the power the written-word has to change people’s lives. If you’re a book-lover, (which I’m assuming you are as you are on a book-blog!) this is an un-missable joy.

If you are a fan of the film Amelie- with its curious and whimsical take on life, loneliness, love and friendship- then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s certainly earned its place on my ‘Keepers’ shelf- and maybe one day I will learn French well enough to be able to enjoy reading the original.

Have you read it? What did you think? Reckon you’ll be picking this one up (DO IT!) – let me know in the comments!

Grab your copy of The Reader on the 6.27 here!


The Blurb

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 . . .

Thursday, 10 March 2016

February Wrap Up and March TBR

Hi guys- just thought I'd share my February reading wrap up video with you and what I've got on the TBR Pile for March.



Books mentioned:

(Wrap Up)

A Night In With Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday
The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington
Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman
The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson
Love May Fail by Matthew Quick (review mentioned can be found here)
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

(TBR)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Lorali by Laura Dockrill
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow
The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (AudioBook)

Here's my BookDepository affiliate link- all monies earned will go straight on more books!

Let me know what you think in the comments- and see you again soon!
Laura x

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

February Book Haul!

Welcome to my very first video book haul!



Books Mentioned: (linked through to Amazon - my Book Depository affiliate link is below if your prefer...)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson
The MeetCute Series by Katey Lovell
-------The Boy at the Bakery
-------The Boy at the Beach
-------The Boy in the Bookshop
-------The Boy Under the Mistletoe
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Lorali by Laura Dockrill

Here's my BookDepository affiliate link- all monies earned will go straight on more books!

Click through to the original video on YouTube if you fancy checking out any of the other BookTube channels mentioned!

See you soon,
Laura x

I'm Back!

Hi- thanks for stopping by my new blog!

So - some of you may already know me from my old haunt- Chick Lit Love- where I blogged for 6 years. Then last summer, I decided to take a break from blogging and reviewing to re-evaluate (and to get my art career off the ground. This is now going brilliantly- thanks for asking!- and you can find that side of my life over on my Artist Facebook Page if you're interested).

I've really missed gossiping about what books I've been reading and sharing bookish news and new releases. To solve this, I decided to come back- initially with a Booktube channel as my new outlet. But I've discovered that sometimes, all I really want to do is write a quick review, post a couple of pictures, or simply stick my head in and say hello. I will be continuing my Booktube channel as well, and will post the videos here when they go live- so there will be very little duplicate content if you follow me at both places.

I'm back- but in a slightly different guise. I will, of course, still be reading plenty of chick lit and women's fiction, but there are going to be some different books in the mix too - a little bit of fantasy, crime, some classics, YA... basically, if it has a good story, I'll probably be reading it!

I've also decided that my new review policy is one of absolute honesty- not that I wasn't honest before- but I did have a tendency to gush. With this in mind, when I review, I'm always going to talk about a positive and a negative for every book. I want you to be able to trust my reviews and recommendations- so balancing my reviews and resisting the urge to gush will hopefully help me achieve this!

It's great to be back! Any questions, suggestions or recommendations- please leave me a comment below...

See you soon,
Laura x