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Laura Bambrey Books

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

Monday, 2 October 2017

Review: The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker

Who’s up for reading something really, truly nasty? With a character who is clever, terrifying and makes your skin crawl… I’ve got the perfect book for you.

The Fourth Monkey will give you nightmares and flashbacks for weeks- I promise – and you’ll never think of a rat in quite the same way again.

The joy of The Fourth Money is that it isn’t just gruesome (and there were moments here when I truly felt that I was reading some of the most yuck-some moments I’ve ever encountered in fiction). Nope, The Fourth Money has a very clever plot that has been tightly woven and will keep tripping you up and turning you around. The story is dense and yet it tears along. Don’t expect much sleep. Don’t expect to want to eat for a week or so either!

Sam Porter is a fantastic character. Damaged. Dogged. Funny. A detective you can really sympathise with as well as want to boot up the behind. And as for 4MK – well blimey. I’ll be having nightmares for years.

If you like a fast paced thriller with a complex plot and plenty of stay-up-late appeal – I can’t
recommend this highly enough.

The Blurb:
Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                        Hardcover:
    

Friday, 29 September 2017

#Friday5: 5 Ways to Seriously Upset a Book Lover ( or How to be Horrible to Books)

Do you bookmark or to dog-ear your page? How about eating and drinking whilst reading? Here are 5 things that drive many book-lovers I know to distraction…

1. You’ve moved house. The walls are wonky and the furniture just doesn’t quite sit against them properly. You’re looking around you for something to pop under the legs of your chest of drawers to even it up slightly… something slim and stable that’ll slot in just so. Ah… how about that stack of paperbacks over there? One of those under each leg will do it! (Guys- even typing this makes me feel queasy! Chocking up furniture with books is a crime. End of.)



2. There’s nothing better than reading in the bath. Relaxing back for a long soak in the bubbles with your favourite romantic heroes. But doing it with borrowed books is such a huge no-no! One little slip of the hand, or droop of the eyelids and SPLOOSH! You are on your way to making papier mache…



3. Hot cups of tea / coffee / hot chocolate popped down on top of a book. People – seriously! Book does not equals coaster. And no, just because it’s a glass of prosecco doesn’t magically make it acceptable.



4. You know the age-old controversy- to bookmark or to dog-ear your page? I’ve got something even worse to throw into the mix, something that will make any true book-lover shudder. Leaving a book open and face down. Stop it. Stop it right now!



5. Number 5 is a really personal one… but something that brings me out in a cold sweat of fear no matter how beautiful the end result. Book art. Yup – I’m talking about art that is made by cutting up or bending the pages of books to create something else- where the book can never be a book again. I don’t care which book they are made out of- it’s barbaric and sends me into a state of existential breakdown, sobbing and mourning for the book’s loss of life.



So there you have it. How to be horrible to books. Don’t. Just don’t! (Now I’m off to give my favourites a quick cuddle.)

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Hello and Happy Autumn


Goodness me, where did the summer go? Not that I’m complaining. The trees are changing colour, the air is all crisp and delicious and I’ve had to dig my stockpile of chunky jumpers out from the back of the cupboard. I love autumn.

September always brings that exciting back to school feeling – new notebooks, sharp pencils and a new rubber from the stationery cupboard (remember how exciting that was on the first day back at school?). I find that September acts more like new year for me than… well… New Year. It’s a great time for new beginnings, resolutions, rolling up your sleeves and getting started (again).

So – here I am getting started (again). I can’t believe that I haven’t posted here since July – and yet the last two months have whizzed past. I thought I’d give you a little update on what has been occurring, and what I hope is coming next.

Where have I been? Well – you’ll have to indulge me for a moment on some non-bookish rambling. As some of you may know, my day job is as a fundraiser for a local charity for learning disabled youngsters and I’m currently studying for a professional qualification with the Institute of Fundraising alongside my full-time role. It’s brilliant- but re-discovering the academic side of my brain after about 15 years off of having to write essays and reference anything has been kicking my behind. Thoroughly.

As well as this, I draw and paint and generally make a mess with arty stuff. I do portraits of humans and pets- and have recently set my pencils aside to play more with paint. Yes… my floorboards are now covered in splotches. Yes… I’ve dipped my brush in my coffee on a near-daily basis. Yes… I’ve had a LOT of fun.

Oh… and there’s one more thing (or two – I still can’t make up my mind – maybe you can help…) I’ve been writing. I have two books on the go. Two vastly different books. The first is the first novel in my Rosemount Manor series – and I’m looking forward to telling you lots more about this very soon- but to start you off, we’re talking romantic fiction set in the near-derelict rose gardens of the beautiful Rosemount Manor. The second novel is the first part of an epic fantasy trilogy. I’m having a lot of fun being incredibly mean to my characters. Sadly, I’d just landed them all in a river when I got called away to work on an assignment, so I know they’re currently waterlogged and cursing me roundly!

And I haven’t forgotten about reading – I’ve been doing some of that too. Some brilliant books have been devoured during the odd snatches of time between everything else- and some excellent audiobooks have kept me company in the studio- I’ve just been a bit rubbish about telling you about them.

But – I’m back. I’ve got lots of reviews lined up for the next few months, along with some bookish news, interviews and general gossip. I may even sneak in the occasional post about my drawing, painting and writing… you never know!

In the meantime, happy Autumn, and I hope you’re having lots of fun, whatever you’re up to.

Laura x

Monday, 24 July 2017

Guestpost: Linn B Halton: Research for The Secrets of Villa Rosso took … time!

With her new novel, The Secrets of Villa Rosso released last Friday, I'm thrilled to welcome Linn B Halton to the blog to hear all about the research that goes into crafting her novels.

Research for The Secrets of Villa Rosso took … time!
by Linn B. Halton


A question I’m often asked is about research. After all, it’s fiction, right? Isn’t it easy to simply make it all up?

Well, the answer is that while the plot is fiction, there’s a whole framework it sits within which requires factual information.

People usually assume that research mainly applies to the location and I do tend to feature locations I’ve visited, because I think that’s quite important. So that you can give the reader an atmospheric ‘feel’ for the setting you have to be able to describe everything - from the sights, to the sounds and the smells. But I’m talking about the other elements within the story.

For The Secrets of Villa Rosso the research list was a long one. It was set in a period after the
disastrous olive harvest in 2014, which was quite crucial to the story. I needed to carry out a lot of research to understand the impact on those affected. It was worldwide news but it takes time to read and digest the information, in order to build a story around it.

Having visited the area, I still had to research an unknown beach location which would feature briefly in the story. Being unable to ‘hop on a flight’ to check it out, I spent time finding a beach that was within a reasonable travelling distance and getting to know it so I could describe it with accuracy.

And then there’s the topic of flights. When a character in one of my stories travels, I always spend time researching distances and routes etc. So, if you were doing the same journey, at the same time in the year, that’s what you would be experiencing. Ellie Maddison’s flights were real, as were the distances and route she travelled by taxi to Villa Rosso itself.

Villa Rosso is fictional, of course, it could be one of any number of beautiful old villas in the area. Many have vast olives groves, as well as orchards and, of course, vines. I hope I managed to convey to my readers the ambience that wrapped itself so beautifully around me when I visited the area. And yes, I can still close my eyes and conjure up the smells - the hot, sweet, air laden with oleander blossoms will never leave me. What comes to mind? Bubblegum and perfume.

As for food - well, the meals described were things I’ve sampled for myself on my travels to Italy. I hope that if you take a trip to Castrovillari, I will have tempted you to try some of the dishes Ellie was presented with and, overall, that you would feel a sense of recognition. Now … let me take you on a little trip to Italy …

The Blurb:


Some places stay with you forever…

When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she's reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn't prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate's director Max Johnson, or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso.

It's not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors?

What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie's life forever.

Grab your copy now:

Kindle:                              Paperback:
     

About the author:


Linn writes chick lit, cosy mystery/romances, romcoms and women’s contemporary fiction – from the heart, for the heart.
written

Bristol-born Linn, lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy.

"I'm a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic and lover of strong coffee. For me, life is all about family, friends and writing.

Most weekends I can be found either in the garden weeding, or with a paint brush in my hand - house renovation and upcycling furniture is another passion of mine! Oh, and I do enjoy the occasional glass of White Grenache..."

Linn's novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under the Stars also became a best-seller in November 2016 and A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love in January 2017.

Linn is published by Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press. Linn is rep’d by Sara Keane.

Website/blog: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/
Twitter: @LinnBHalton
FB: Linn B Halton Author

Friday, 21 July 2017

#LoveAudio Week with Orenda Books: Review: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings


If you think that reading a seriously good psychological thriller can get under your skin like nothing else, then I've got an experience that will top that... and that's listening to an exquisitely written psychological thriller being read to you by a fantastic narrator.


This week, to celebrate #LoveAudio week, I have had the absolute pleasure of listening to the audio book of In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings. I have to thank Orenda and Audible for the review copy in return for an unbiased review... and I have to admit- I'm not really sure where to start!

Perhaps the first thing I should do is set the scene for you. You may be aware that as well as blogging and reviewing books in my spare time, I also work as a pet and portrait artist. This entails spending up to 40 hours per portrait sat at the table with a pencil in my hand working on the minutest of details. Last week, I had two commissions to complete back-to-back - but the book-loving, reviewer part of my head was desperate to be reading. In comes the audio book of In Her Wake. So- the first thing I have to offer in this review is a love letter to audio-books in general. They are not something I've indulged much in in the past- but this gripping thriller had me hooked, and allowed me to immerse myself in both my passions- art and books- simultaneously. Who'd have thought that so much enjoyment could be found sitting staring at a piece of paper for so many hours at a time.

So, on to the story. In Her Wake. I now know what all the fuss was about back when the novel was first realised. Does Amanda Jennings know how to write or what?! In turns intensely creepy, claustrophobic, heart-wrenching, sad, breath-snatching, moving and strangely uplifting. I just didn't expect to have such an emotional reaction to it.

Bella's life as she knows it is torn apart not once, not twice but three times in quick succession. With everything she thinks she knows turned upside down, she follows the only scrap of a clue she has left and goes in search of answers. She finds herself in Cornwall where answers begin to surface. But in finding one answer, she is only faced with wave after wave of more questions and a mystery that has haunted her family for 25 years.

It's something quite incredible to get that "can't put the book down" feeling with an audio-book. I sat at my portraits for long hours between breaks- not able to hit that pause button. I went to bed with my headphones in, listening long into the night (ah, the joy of not having to worry about keeping my tired eyes open!). I set the alarm an hour earlier to start listening first thing in the morning, and the brilliant narrator accompanied me in the car every day on my way to and from the day-job. I was completely hooked. 

I can't recommend this incredible story-telling experience highly enough. In Her Wake is a chilling and complex psychological thriller which is beautifully narrated, and will have you listening late into the night.

Win Your Free Audio Copy Here:

I've got two Audible audio book copies of In Her Wake up for grabs thanks to the lovely guys at Orenda. Simply enter below and I'll draw two winners after 12am on Monday, 24th July. The lucky winners will receive a code and instructions on how to download and listen to their free copy of In Her Wake.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Blurb:

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella's comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity but her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family - and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

And if you can't wait to get your hands on it and want to listen to your copy this weekend- you can grab it from Amazon here:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cover Reveal: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Charlotte Butterfield

Thrilled to be joining in this evening with the cover reveal for Charlotte Butterfield's gorgeous new title, Crazy Little Thing Called Love... and here it is! (just click on the pic to find out more about this beauty - due out on the 7th September but available to pre-order now!)


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Blogtour: Review: Holding Myself by Victoria J. Brown

Today I’m reviewing Holding Myself by Victoria J. Brown as a part of her publication blogtour with the newly re-launched Bombshell Books.

What a fantastic read this is. I didn’t really know what to expect as this is definitely a book I chose as a heart over head read -  you know the ones where the cover and a couple of lines of the blurb speak to you – and you grab it without investigating any further. Anyhow – I sat down to start reading, and several hours later, with just a quick bit of shut-eye (it was a school night!) I finished the last page as dawn was breaking and the blackbirds started making a racket in the back garden.

Yup – this is one of those books that you just can’t put down.

One of the strangest and most unexpected elements of the book was that I didn’t like the main character. No – actually that’s wrong – I really liked the main character but I really didn’t like her actions, decisions and the way she responded to life. But this was all part of the beauty of Brown’s writing.  Kat is such a complex lead, but I knew exactly why she was responding to life in the way she was. She is a damaged character with such difficult past that, even while wanting to give her a good shake and talking to, I really wanted everything to work out for her and for her deepest issues to heal so that she could enjoy the life she deserved.

Holding Myself deals with some harrowing and incredibly difficult issues- but far from being a difficult read, the tone and craft of the writing turns this into a gripping, unputdownable drama laced with moments of humour and warmth that seem to hug the reader to them.

This is a novel that is absolutely cram-packed full with drama whilst remaining anchored in real-life. The characters are complex and memorable. Overall, despite the difficult issues touched upon, Holding Myself is ultimately a life-affirming read with recognisable, real-life moments full of warmth and compassion.

The Blurb:


Kat has a busy life. She runs her own beauty salon and has an alcoholic father to worry about. To make matters worse she has just discovered she is pregnant.

Kat and Max have only been together for six months and she has a turbulent relationship with his mother and his ex-girlfriend who refuses to go away.

As the pressure builds Kat finds herself wondering what path to take.

Is having a baby the right thing to do?

Can she keep her head above water while her life spirals out of control?

Kat has some big decisions to make and whatever happens her life is going to change forever…


Grab Your Copy:

Kindle:                           Paperback
   

About the Author:

Victoria J.Brown has always had a passion for writing. When asked at the age of 9 years old, what
she wanted to be when she grew up, her reply ‘an author’ was met with a disheartened response, ‘that jobs like that, don’t happen to people like us!’
Luckily, Victoria didn’t listen to this advice and never gave up on her passion.  She continued to write while perusing a career in Marketing after gaining a BA (Hons) in Business and Marketing.
In 2006 her eldest daughter was born and then two years later her 2nd daughter came along. Victoria realised in the midst of the mummy madness, that she’d let her writing dwindle and that nappy-changing, sleepless nights and not being able to go to the toilet in peace could not stop her fulfilling her writing dreams. So when her girls were 3 years old and 18 months old, she decided that sleep was over-rated and enrolled at Teesside University. A year later she proudly left with a MA in Creative Writing, some wonderful friendships and a passion for therapeutic writing. While studying for her MA she was also delighted to win a short-story competition judged by Adele Parks, to which she received publication and mentoring from Adele.
After her MA, Victoria concentrated on writing women’s fiction. She loves writing stories that women can relate to. The Chaos Series grew from her own experience of pregnancy, motherhood and life.
Victoria is also passionate about mental health and likes to write of such issues in her stories. Her dedication to mental health and living life to the full has led her down a spiritual path. Through her learning of spirituality she qualified as a Law of Attraction and NLP Practitioner, which she integrates into her writing. Her inspirational blog includes an A-Z motivational journey with weekly therapeutic creative writing exercises. She has developed this further and will soon launch her inspirational shop. The shop has been created to pass on positivity and love to others … you never know when someone may need to see those messages.
Being accepted by Bombshell Books is a dream come true for Victoria, she hopes that her mantra for giving love always and never giving up will inspire others to follow their dreams and passion.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Victoria, her inspirational blog and shop you can visit www.victoria-brown.com, plus you can follow her on: