Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

 

39215026Publisher: Picador

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 316

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Rating: four-stars

This debut novel by A.J. Pearce caught my eye immediately, promising a light – hearted and uplifting story, and I’ve also heard many good things about this book already. And it delivered, introduced me to lovely, vivid and quirky characters, and brought back hope for a little humanity. So if you are in need of a little positive vibe, then do not hesitate and try this “uplit” tale of hope, love and friendship in hard times – as “Dear Mrs Bird” was utterly gorgeous, charming and unexpected.

This story is told from Emmy’s point of view and she’s our main character. She’s young but she knows what she wants and right now she wants to be a war correspondent. Due to one mistake, she changes her jobs, thinking she’s going to become a reporter in The London Evening Chronicle. She’ll manage to squeeze her job as a volunteer telephone operator at the Auxiliary Fire Service as well. However, it turns out, that she’s not going to be a proper journalist but a junior typist, typing responses written in a Woman’s Friend Magazine by Mrs Bird. Mrs Bird is a very special character – she’s the only one who’s answering the letters and her list of Unacceptables is longer than Emmy’s arm. So letters including topics such as divorce, affairs, unhappiness land in the bin. Emmy can’t come to terms with this fact so one day she decides to write back to the women who so desperately need a kind word – because I forgot to mention that Mrs Bird’s kindness meant pouring cold water over readers’ heads.
However, that’s not all that’s happening in Emmy’s life, oh no!

I truly loved and adored the characters, and their approach to the War and things happening around. Some of the greatest scenes were when the girls were on duty at the fire brigade, answering the phones during one of the bombing – they were cool as cucumbers and nothing would be able to push their buttons. The way people got adjusted during the War is for me always a thing to admire – they were trying to live as normal as possible. They joked, they went to dances or to the cinema. Of course, the War influenced them in every possible way but still, they didn’t let it to break them, and I truly admired it in them.

A.J. Pearce has transported us in her debut novel to London’s streets during the WWII. She very well balanced humour with sadness, and the novel is both very uplifting and very heart – breaking. It was also provocative, what with the way Emmy decides to take actions in her own hands, however she’s got a full blessing from me personally, as I could really understand where she was coming from, to feel her desperation and knowing what she wanted to achieve – and as a result we got compassionate and realistic correspondence – based on real letters from the Forties, sent into advice columns. They show in a perfect way how the lives of the women were affected not only by the War but also by the hypocrisy of attitudes of those times. I loved the way Emmy was thinking – she knew where the real priorities were and when other people were risking their lives she decided that breaking a rule here or there will be better than letting the real problems stay unanswered.

Despite being set during London Blitz, it was a fluffy, charming and optimistic read. The author not only shows the optimistic side of the characters, but she also shows how the war affects them. She juxtaposes the relatively colourful world of Woman’s Friend Magazine and the blackness of the wartime events, showing the bravery of people working or volunteering for fire brigade, describing their feeling when faced with bombings and their victims, with shortages and upheaval. I really enjoyed this book and I’d urge you to try it for yourself.

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The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin / #BlogTour

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin

 

38344308Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 12th April 2018

Series: Sandcastle Bay #1

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 249

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect place to fall in love this summer…

Tori Graham is in need of a holiday. Trying to piece her heart back together after losing the love of her life, she escapes to Blossom Cottage, with its picturesque views of the sea. And plans to spend the summer in gorgeous Sandcastle Bay, where her best friend Melody Rosewood lives.

Tori’s not expecting her summer by the beach to be eventful, until she meets handsome and mysterious Aidan Jackson…

Aidan looks after the holiday cottage Tori is staying in. Healing from past hurts, he wants to avoid any further chance of heartache. But could this newcomer be the breath of fresh air he needs?

Finding herself embracing life in the coastal community, Tori starts to fall in love with Sandcastle Bay and its welcoming cast of residents. But that’s not all she begins to fall for, as Tori is swept away by Aidan’s genuine heart and mischievous sense of humour. The attraction between them is undeniable, but will a simple holiday romance be enough?

As Tori’s stay in Sandcastle Bay comes to an end she has a tough decision to make…. Has her heart found a new place to call home?

A joyously romantic summer read that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love. If you enjoy reading Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Lucy Diamond this book is for you.

Rating: five-stars

It’s been too long since I’ve read Holly Martin’s book and this is why I was that excited to start reading “The Holiday Cottage at the Sea”, and really guys, I haven’t realised how much I’ve missed Holly’s gorgeous, warm writing and her hilarious characters. So whatever you do, you just have to find time for this brilliant novel – it made me smile so much and it made me feel better. Yes, with Holly’s book you know where you’re heading to and yes, I’d love Holly to surprise us with one huge unpredictable twist, but her books have so many other merits that even the mandatory happy ever after is not something that’ll put me off reading her novels.

This book captured me immediately and Holly Martin’s storytelling is vivid, evocative and absorbing. I am always admiring the fact how easily she adds a word or two that immediately change the mood, this timing is perfect, and the dialogues were full of brilliant one – liners. She has a great hand for all kind of small touches that just make the story complete. It is also full of perfectly hilarious moments, so don’t be surprised when you suddenly start laughing out loud or spilling whatever you have to drink in your hand all over the table – be warned, and it starts already at the beginning with Dobby the turkey. Ha – I have you intrigued there, right?

The banter between the characters, especially Aidan and Tori, was brilliant – so effortless and so hilarious! The one thing that bothered me though was the length of their dialogues, they were all, the other characters as well, incredibly chatty, and often their statements took one page or even more, so eloquent they were, and sometimes I just wanted to tell them to finally get to the point. Sure, it’s nice when you can so beautifully pass your thoughts and feelings, however it doesn’t happen so often when you’re speaking, right? Nevertheless, I immediately warmed to Tori, she was instantly likeable and believable, and I loved her passion to her job. I loved to accompany her on her journey to rediscover herself. Also Aidan, oh my *sigh* *going gooey*, so brilliantly drawn and believable, and he was so utterly perfect, yet not too wishy – washy or too meh.
Agatha was very unforgettable character, guys, and often such characters annoy me awfully but she was just spot on, with her ideas and predictions. Also, Leo, James, Isla and Melody – they were all immediately likeable and realistic.

Holly Martin can, no matter what, always brilliantly capture the chemistry between the main characters. It’s always sparking, sizzling and vivid and I love this, because reading so many books you get all kinds of chemistry, and it doesn’t always happen that it’s so perfectly captured and visible. Yes, there came a moment that I wanted to bang Tori and Aiden’s head together but still, it didn’t mean that the chemistry was lost, oh no, it was there all the time and it was simply marvellous.

So altogether, “The Holiday Cottage at the Sea” was sexy and incredibly romantic and of course, as usual, Holly Martin has set her story in the most beautiful place ever. This tale was full of sunshine, gorgeous places, characters to die for. It was a story about grief, sense of guilt, friendship, close community, romance, love and heartberries – yes, heartberries. A really wonderful book with many hidden messages about second chances and trust – highly recommended!

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Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist

 

38402331Publisher: Two Roads

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 4368

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past—for Zoe, the death of her husband; for Martin, a messy divorce. Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago, in northwestern Spain, in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked the Camino—the Way—for centuries.

The Camino changes you, it’s said. It’s a chance to find a new version of yourself. But can these two very different people find each other?

In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin’s and Zoe’s stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist. Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal—physical, psychological and spiritual. It’s about the challenge of walking a long distance and of working out where you are going. And it’s about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover.

Rating: four-stars

When I started reading this book I was a little surprised because, to be honest, I knew it’s going to be about walking, but I haven’t supposed that it’s going to be that much about walking. There were really moments that I felt frustrated and the story felt very slow as it mostly focused on the way, on counting the kilometres, on spotting the right sign and I really thought for a moment that maybe Graeme Simsion has turned into non – fiction. But deep, deep under all the descriptions of the places, finding accommodation and what to have for dinner and being on the road, there is a lovely, poignant and moving love story that I incredibly adored.

I think I liked Zoe’s parts better. Zoe herself was quirkier and cheekier than Martin, and full of life, and the chapters told from her point of view just read better. She’s recently widowed and she hasn’t grieved her husband fully yet. His sudden and unexpected death has brought some surprises. She’s also an aspiring artist but what with life getting in the way her career was aborted. Dr Martin Eden has just divorced, taken a temporary teaching position in Cluny and after a chance encounter with a Dutch pilgrim he’s designed a pilgrim cart that he’s going to test himself, hoping to sell the design. So some hikers are on the spiritual journey and some are avoiding it but all of them learn on the way what real love and friendship is.

This book starts slowly and continues rather slowly but it has plenty of brilliant moments and characters, and in the end I found myself incredibly attached to the two main characters. It also introduces us to many background characters and while mostly they accompany Zoe and Martin on their way, they appear and disappear, come and go, and almost till the end I had problems to know who is who and to whom they belong. Sure, they all have their own stories – they wouldn’t walk the Camino otherwise, and they were mostly engaging, but next to the whole walking and the plots of Zoe and Martin there were moments that it was just too much to take.

The banter between the characters was great and it livened up the story so very much. There are tons of misunderstandings and miscommunications, jumping to conclusions and secrets and it all flow so effortlessly and seems so natural. As the story is told through Zoe and Martin’s perspectives it’s really easy to keep pace with their distinctive voices and to know where they’re actually are and what they’re thinking.

The “spiritual aspect” of this journey is very well handled. The authors give their characters a choice. They show that being a pilgrim is not always only about religion, that there are many different and equally important reasons to start such journey. The authors’ experience with this way of pilgrimage is evident, and at the end of the book they did admit that they themselves walked the Camino twice, and it’s visible through their vivid descriptions and their love to the details, the descriptions of the many villages and places of accommodation.

Altogether “Two Steps Forward” was a brilliant, uplifting and warm read about life – changing experience, about finding your own way, and also about kindness. There is plenty of humour and the characters’ problems are very down – to – earth, which makes the reading even more relatable. It shows that sometimes it’s better to look at your problems through a different perspective, that sometimes it’s great to trust total strangers. Highly recommended!

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

 

34198503Publisher: Penguin Ireland

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait.

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Delphine Hamilton is a fake. She has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing as an English heiress. However, her alimony is running out, her looks are fading, and her wealthy lovers are fewer and further between.

Down to her last euros, and desperate to get out of her apartment, Delphine decides to spend the day at the Negresco where she is caught stealing another guest’s meal. He takes pity on her and invites her to a party.

The guests are young and beautiful and Delphine feels her age, and is achingly conscious of her worn out dress. But after a few lines of cocaine and multiple cocktails, she is oblivious to everything.

Hours later, as dawn is breaking, she wakes up on the floor of a deserted hotel penthouse. She makes her way home through the back streets.

Even before she opens the door she can hear the flies buzzing and she realizes that the corpse in her bedroom has already begun to decompose …

Liz Nugent’s new novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Delphine from an island childhood in Ireland to ruination in a grotty flat in Nice.

Rating: three-stars

I’ve never read anything by Liz Nugent before and the premise to “Skin Deep” was brilliantly dark and intriguing, and I didn’t hesitate long before hitting “request” button. And this book started marvellously. It had me glued to the pages and the more I was reading the more I couldn’t believe what I’m seeing and with what a manipulative character we’re dealing with. Then the second part came and it was as if I’ve just started reading a different novel. Totally different in tone, felt too flat, somehow weird and I wasn’t sure what about.

It started with a murder, which is really not a spoiler, as it literally happens on the first pages. Then it quickly takes us back in the past and we get to know Delia’s background and history, and so I was guessing it’s taking us slowly to the act of the murder itself. But guys, it was mentioned again only on the last few pages. So the whole drama just simply disappeared, it didn’t feel in any way important and significant, it was something that happened and so what? It didn’t make me sad, or teary, it was then immediately explained who the victim is (though I’ve almost immediately guessed it) – as it wasn’t ever mentioned through the whole story, which is understandable, you just haven’t thought about it, so there was no tension and no questioning yourself who and why. It was really confusing and I’m still not sure what to do with it.

Liz Nugent has, of course, excelled here in the character’s portrayal and its development. She has created a manipulative and self – absorbed Delia that you just can’t warm to throughout the whole story, but I guess it was intended. I’ve never felt sympathy nor empathy to Delia and yes, I do understand where she was coming from, what with her dotting father all the time telling her she’s “The Queen” and that she’s gorgeous, and I mean when you hear it all the time as a child you’re prone to believe it, but then you grow up and heck, you start to think for yourself, right? And Delia O’Flaherty didn’t. Using and abusing people only because of the fact that you’re beautiful? Delia was like a reverse Midas – whatever she’s touched turned not into gold but into tragedy and drama. She was destructive and her actions were awful.
Delia was of course not the only character in the book but she has dominated the whole story. The other characters were more or less likeable but almost all of them fell quickly under her spell.

Altogether, “Skin Deep” was a bleak, disturbing read but I’m really glad I’ve read it. It was a read with a difference, and Liz Nugent’s writing style is vivid and addictive. This powerful read pushing the boundaries, evoked many dark emotions in me, as it itself was a dark, sinister tale.

Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore

Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore

 

38350479Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 22nd March 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 560

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 23.08.2018)

 

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of A Week in Paris, and the Richard & Judy Bookclub pick A Place of Secrets, comes a gripping and moving story spanning 70 years, set in Italy and in Norfolk.

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrews becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain …

Rating: four-stars

Rachel Hore is another author that I’ve heard many, many good things about but haven’t read her books – yet! I was truly excited after being approved to read “Last Letter Home” on NetGalley – I do love a good historical fiction, I do love a dual timeline and I loved this beautiful cover. And so, without further delay, I dived into the fictional world of love, drama and the aftermath of the WW2.

Being on holidays in Italy, historian Briony not only stumbles across a ruined villa in the surrounding area, a villa that has connections to her grandfather, who was stationed there in 1943, but is also being given some film reels and love letters. Reading them, she starts to feel desperate to discover the story of Sarah and Paul, who wrote the letters to each other. She doesn’t expect it, but here starts her journey full of secrets and discoveries, truths and lies.

This book was for sure beautifully written. I loved how Rachel Hore has knitted together the life in the pre – war English country, the aftermath of the war, family secrets and tragedies. I admit, it took me some time to get into a book, and there was no particular reason for it, it was just one of the things. It was a little confusing for me also, what with the sudden change in setting and the different tone which seemed as two different stories.

It was a great escapism that slowly unfolded as Briony started to piece together the story behind the letters and their writers. While mostly it was fast paced, there were moments that it dragged on a little for me and was losing the temperature. It also took me some time to warm to the characters and to actually make out who is who and how they are all related as we were presented with a varied, colourful cast of characters. Briony was really well fleshed out but my problem here was that I just simply couldn’t completely warm to her – she was reserved and I had a feeling I just can’t get into her head. I think that the wartime subplot, and the whole secret behind the letters, the relationship between Paul and Sarah were the better part of this book, I really do love historical fiction and this time it was a tale with a difference and it was really interesting to see all the repercussions and problems because Paul was German.

I really liked the way how the past and present, the WW2 parts and the present days, flowed effortlessly together. The Norfolk and Italy settings were so seamlessly brought to life, as all other parts as well, actually. It also shone through the pages how much time and effort went into research.

“Last Letter Home” was a complex, clever story full of secrets, lies and deception, and the author knows how to build tension. Rachel Hore’s writing is very descriptive and very colourful and it’s very easy to imagine the things she’s writing about. As I’ve already mentioned it, it was my first book by this author but it was a great story and here starts my adventure with other Ms Hore’s novel. Highly recommended!

Our Little Secret by Claudia Carroll / #BlogTour

Our Little Secret by Claudia Carroll

 

34214932Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 319

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A sparkling story about what happens when you let someone into your life… but they turn out to want more than you’d bargained for!

Sarah Dee has the perfect life. A high-flying job in a law firm, a beautiful daughter and a house to die for. So how does she find herself looking in through the kitchen window while another woman enjoys it all?

When Sarah takes pity on a struggling young graduate who can’t get a job, she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She’s being kind, generous and helpful to others, as she always is. But as Sarah allows the younger woman into her home, her law firm and even her family, is there more to this pretty youngster than meets the eye? And could this be a good deed that goes further than expected?

Claudia Carroll does it again with a sparkling new novel about what happens when your life becomes up for grabs…

Rating: four-stars

In “Our Little Secret” Sarah Keyes, the main character, loves her job, and she indeed works very hard not only in her law firm, but also volunteering as a free legal aid. She’s currently divorced and now living only with her teenage daughter Darcy. One day, Sarah meets Lauren, a very bright girl working in a nail salon – Lauren is young, clever and studied hard for her law degree and her background history breaks Sarah’s heart, so she decides to do her best to help this girl. Lauren herself very easily and seamlessly slots into Sarah’s life and everything seems perfect. But is it really…?

To be honest, judging the book by the cover, I was expecting something else – some kind of a romance, a vintage read, and what I’ve got was a brilliant, dynamic and modern story, an emotional roller – coaster ride. It was compelling, and truly addictive, with the right dose of drama and humour. It was a book written in a brilliant, chatty style. This novel was a little different to other Claudia Carroll’s offers – it was somehow more mature, touching upon some heavier issues, but at the same time light and uplifting. It was tense but not like you’d expect from thriller or mystery, oh no, it was much lighter in tone but it was also somehow sinister.

The characters and the story were so easily brought to life, they just came alive on the pages. Sarah was a great character but let’s be honest, she should have known better, right? She was too naive and too caring for my liking in some aspects and well, the reality came and bit her strong. Of course it was not her fault that she was taken for granted, I just only couldn’t stop thinking that yes, she should have known better! The fact that she’s rushed so much into the new friendship, believing in everything that was told and offering help right and left was a little too unbelievable – would you open your heart, wallet and house to a stranger? However, when she realises what’s going on, I adored to see the change in her and that she feared nothing to reclaim her happy and trouble – free life.
I can’t express how annoying Lauren’s character was, from the very beginning, always there, always knowing better, always with a smile. Arrrrghh! She was this kind of person that would do anything, at whatever cost, to achieve her goals, and the more I read, the more I disliked her. Really. This whole sweetness, the do – gooder, oh no, it was not for me, I wasn’t buying it. However, she was really brilliantly pictured, and Claudia Carroll has captured all the main attributes that makes a toxic character toxic, and how well Lauren was able to spot all the vulnerable points of her victims.

The story is told in alternative chapters, from Sarah, Darcy and Sarah’s best friend Liz points of view. I really liked their takes on things happening, the different takes, as we were able to see things Sarah wasn’t able to see. Liz was a great character, she saw things as they really were and there was no beating around the bush with her, and I really liked her no – nonsense approach in all aspects of her life. She was a great and supportive friend of Sarah. There was a small element of romance in the book as well and it was a great addition in my opinion. It didn’t feel rushed and it developed in a natural way – it just seemed realistic. Yes, it was a little surprising but it worked well in this part of the story.

So this book. Really. It made me feel so, so angry! Probably all of us know such Lauren – characters. While reading the novel I knew that some of the characters are right about her, and it made me so angry that it took Sarah so long to notice all the signs. I had a feeling that I can’t relax in Lauren’s company, that I can’t trust her, that she’s sucking off all the positive vibrations from the vicinity and I couldn’t believe that Sarah can’t see this. Really, guys, be prepared to be completely lost in this story. It was thought – provoking and it will lead you on to ask questions, to make you think, while exploring the darker, heavier side of friendship. “Our Little Secret” was fast – paced and complex story about gaining control and staying in control, about getting your life on the right path again, about using and about being used, with riveting characters and interesting plot, full of secrets and lies. Highly recommended!

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Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

51fyvgcmrcl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 8th March 2018

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #4

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Come to the Comfort Food Café this spring for sunshine, smiles and plenty of truly scrumptious lemon drizzle cake.

‘As cosy as a buttered crumpet’ Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson

My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the
menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm
spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country
life will be changed forever.

Curl up with this gorgeous novel and make yourself
at home at the Comfort Food Café.

Rating: five-stars

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Oh guys, I can’t tell you how happy I am that The Comfort Food Cafe series is going strong! I could read about it, and the characters, over and over again and I won’t have enough. “Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe” is already the fourth addition to the series and yes, it is a stand – alone novel but without reading the previous books you’re going to miss too much on the characters, the incredible warmth and hidden wisdom.

“Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe” focuses on Willow. Willow, the youngest of Lynnie’s fourth children. Willow with pink hair, Doc Martens boots, and a dog. Willow, who’s currently looking after her dementia suffering mum and juggling her own cleaning business with working as a waitress at the cafe. Willow is not angry with her siblings for travelling the world and for the fact that she’s left alone to look after their mum. No, she’s cheerful and happy with her life and takes things as they are. To help her mum remember things they both have journals in which they write things – who is who and what has happened.
Willow’s cleaning business has been engaged to clean The House on the Hill – a large old house that previously served as a children’s shelter and has just been bought after years of standing alone. When Willow spots the new owner she can’t believe her eyes, as it’s Tom, a former resident of Briarwood, and there is something that happened many years ago that is a reason for her being so shocked right now – you must read this scene for yourself. It’s hilarious. They bond very quickly not only over their dogs or plans for renovating the House but also over plans for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – don’t ask. But you will love it.

I can’t express enough how much I loved this book. It is full of so extremely beautifully captured emotions and feelings and standing ovation to Debbie Johnson for being able to put them so well into words. The dynamics between the characters were brilliant, and there was so much love and acceptance that you could spot and feel it through the pages. Also, the author has this talent to immediately draw you into the heart of the book – I, for once, right from the beginning felt at home, and yes sure, it was the fact that I’ve already known and loved the characters, but it was also the lovely writing style, so inviting and so enveloping, like the cosiest of blankest. The author always knows when to drop a surprise on your not – expecting – it head, or to put a joke or two to break the ice.

The banter between the characters was abso – bloody – brilliant, especially between Willow and Tom. I adored those two, they were so honest and so genuine around each other, and they talked, which made such a great difference…! There weren’t any understatements, they knew where they stand, and I loved their testing, checking and their feelings and emotions. It was just so real and so true, you know. And I adored how much they loved their dogs, Bella Swan and the perfect mix of German Shepherd and Rottweiler, Rick Grimes. And the way Willow has done a very handy Game of Thrones – style recap on the residents of the village for Tom’s benefit was brilliant, and it was also a great recap for us all.

The story also introduces us to some new characters, such like Willow’s siblings, especially her sister Auburn who comes home to help Willow look after their mum. My gut feeling is telling me she’s going to be the heroine of the next novel – I hope I’m right because she seems to be a very colourful person that has a lot in store.

This was a brilliant, feel – good, poignant and touching romance, set in a wonderful, full of lovely people, village, and the community spirit there is very easily spotted. They all know about each other’s businesses and they meddle in each others’ lives, and not always in a very subtle way, but it is hilarious and so uplifting, to know that they had their backs. They also always have time to eat a slice of cake and to try Laura’s new recipes.

I simply loved this book and didn’t want it to end. I’ve been hooked by Willow’s story and fell for her immediately. It was bitter – sweet, with many emotional and poignant moments, and with many hilarious as well, it made me cry and it made me laugh – out – loud, just the perfect mix for me. It touched upon some heavier issues as well, just like Tom’s past or Lynnie’s disease but it’s done in such a subtle and gentle way and it opens eyes to what it really means to be an orphan or how it is to live with a person suffering from dementia, how emotional and unstable this life is. I was truly hanging onto every single word of the story and I could beg for more, guys. A gorgeous story about family, friends, love and forgiveness, with a lot of hidden depth that made me feel so warm inside and left me feeling hope and optimistic. Highly, highly recommended!