A Wedding at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

A Wedding at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

41836467Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 7th March 2019

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #6

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 252

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 21.03.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Wedding bells ring out in Budbury as the Comfort Food Café and its cosy community of regulars are gearing up for a big celebration…

But Auburn Longville doesn’t have time for that! Between caring for her poorly mum, moving in with her sister and running the local pharmacy, life is busy enough – and it’s about to get busier. Chaos arrives in the form of a figure from her past putting her quaint village life and new relationship with gorgeous Finn Jensen in jeopardy. It’s time for Auburn to face up to some life changing decisions.

Settle in for a slice of wedding cake at the Comfort Food Café – a place where friendships are made for life and nobody ever wants to leave.

Rating: five-stars

 

Auburn, the former wild child, has settled in Budbury. She, with the brilliant red hair, still tries to stop smoking and sometimes drinks too much, but she’s happy in her skin – finally. Her relationship with the gorgeous Finn is going from strength to strength and really, everything looks peachy. That is, until one day, one shock revelation sees the light of day and an unexpected visitor arrives – and this sends Auburn back to her reckless day in Spain. She starts to question her choices – shall she stay in Budbury? Did she really change or is she still, deep down in heart, looking for adventures?

I love the Comfort Food Cafe series, and I am also the one always telling that the cafe should be real, and I think I will miss the characters but I also think that it’s the best time to stop the series now – the author can so beautifully and gorgeously explore all kinds of feelings, she can so well write about emotions, and the way the characters are able to speak about it all is truly amazing but I simply think that the lovely formula has just run out. Though I will be the first in the virtual queue to put my hand high and admit that I’d love to hear more from Laura – especially Laura. The author has also told us at the beginning of the book how she sees the characters in the future – and as much as I loved reading it, for me they should all simply stay in Budbury. They just belong there and make the place so great.

This story was as well filled with larger than life characters, real feelings, delicious cakes, wild parties, tons of dramas and troubles, and this all written in this gorgeous, chatty, humorous writing style. Those books brought me so much joy and happy tears, as they were so warm and inviting, and full of the overwhelming feel – good factor. The way they are written is absolutely inimitable but I think that those were the characters that made the series so exceptional and special – loveable, real and realistic.

As usual the main character, and this time we get a focus on Willow’s sister Auburn, has secrets she hides, problems and skeletons in the closet. However, as it usually happens, the secrets have a habit of catching up with you. I quickly learnt that there is always much more to Debbie Johnson’s characters than meet the eye, that you can’t judge them, that you simply have to give them time, and it was the same with Auburn. What I really liked in her was the fact that she was totally honest, that she didn’t want to hide her feelings, that she wanted to be frank with Finn.

I raced through the pages of “A Wedding at the Comfort Food Cafe”, as always, enjoying the gossip and characters’ antics. Reading this book was like being back with your best friends, you really know the characters so well. They feel so real because they are moving, growing, maturing, changing, they become children and it feels like a wheel of life, like there is someone who’s going to continue the characters’ work, who’s going to keep the place going. They care about each other and they are so honest and altruistic and you simply feel like a part of their gang. Shortly – it was another book about the power of friendship and trust, about second chances and love. Gorgeous and utterly compelling and I highly recommend it to you all.

 

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A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

 

39783948Publisher: Harper Collins/ HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 18th October 2018

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #5

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Cosy up at the Comfort Food Cafe for a romance that isn’t just for Christmas…

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

Christmas has never been Katie Seddon’s favourite time of year. Whilst everyone else shares memories of families coming together and festive number ones, the soundtrack to Katie’s childhood wasn’t quite so merry.

But since she moved to the village of Budbury on the gorgeous Dorset coast, Katie and her baby son have found a new family. A family who have been brought together by life’s unexpected roads and the healing magic of a slice of cake and a cupful of kindess at the Comfort Food Café.

This year, Katie’s new friends are determined to give her a Christmas to remember, and with a gorgeous newcomer in town, Katie’s Christmas wish for a happy home for her son might just come true.

Rating: four-stars

Katie is a single mum to a little boy Saul. She moves to Budbury hoping to find peace there, to just have a simple life, far away from her childhood home and her parents’ constant fighting that outshone them the real needs of their daughter and the real sense of life. Katie doesn’t want such life for her son. Budbury is full of wonderful people that want to help each other, people who embrace Katie without asking, who accept her immediately. But can Katie leave her past behind? And can her past leave Katie behind? Is she going to find what she’s looking for in Budbury?

I really am not sure what to say more about the Comfort Food Cafe series that I haven’t already said. It is really hard to write another review about a book that you loved – and please, please, please don’t get me wrong, I could read books set in Budbury all year long – but they start to feel the same. “A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe” is a brilliant, funny, uplifting story, with beautiful characters but for me there was nothing that I haven’t come across in previous books in this series.

But. Having said that I can only admit that Debbie Johnson has written another fabulous, full of feelings and emotions story. I loved getting to know Katie and her son Saul, though I must admit that the parts where the characters from the previous books entered the scenes brought me so much more joy, especially all the surprises. Katie, I think, was not the easiest character to like – she was challenging, with her moods and blowing cold and hot but it was, of course, absolutely understandable. Already at the beginning of the story we learn about her life and to say it was turbulent would be an understatement – hence the habit of running away when the troubles come. But now Katie found her place in Budbury – didn’t she? I loved seeing Katie coming out of her shell, leaving her comfort zones, to have the guts to do something new, to perhaps start to trust again. However, when the troubles came back to literally knock on her doors, she started reverting back, packing her bags and it was incredibly sad to see. On the other hand, I think Debbie Johnson has captured here the most realistic, genuine emotions – the need to just bury your head in the sand, to repeat the old pattern because they were working, and this is what Katie’s initial thoughts were, which was really understandable. It takes a lot of courage to overcome the old habits and it was truly brilliantly described by the author, and Katie felt so genuine, and I loved it. I think she just needs a chance, so please just give her some time, you will really like her and understand her.

Of course the story touches upon many sensitive issues and Debbie Johnson proves again that she can tackle them with so much sensitivity and also humour. I also adore this overwhelming sense of familiarity, belonging and community in her books. Debbie Johnson never disappoints with her stories, and the Comfort Food Cafe series is one of the best ever. They are books that you don’t want to end, that you immediately feel like a part of the characters’ world – that doesn’t feel fictional at all and reading “A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe” was like being back with your old friends. Really, opening this book was like stepping back into a parallel world, a world that you know is just one page away. I immediately felt comfortable, as if I’ve came back to a place where I belong, and it is a great feeling.

It was a warm and feel – good book, perfectly mixing humour, fun and poignant moments. Despite some sadness, it was full of this overwhelming feeling of happiness and content and you know what, I’d love to be a character in Johnson’s books, even if there are many challenges awaiting them because at the end they always find love, luck, come out of their shells and feel good on their own skin. It was a lovely story about friendship, letting go, finding yourself – highly recommended, even if you haven’t read the other books in the series: every single one of them is a good start.

 

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!

My Top Ten Books of 2017

My Top Ten Booksof 2017

Hi guys! Exactly one year ago I was sharing my most favourite reads of 2016 with you, and now it’s time to do the same with the 2017 reads. What is so special about this is the fact that there are the same authors on both lists!

In 2017 I haven’t read as many books as I’d like. The current number is 156 and when some might say wow, I know that I struggled to get to this number – life getting in the way, child growing up and serving as a taxi to bring her to and back from her activities, looking after the dogs, going to work that lately is very stressful… But let’s not whinge, altogether it was not a bad year, and not only in a bookish sense, but let’s focus on books, guys, this is why we’re here, right? I’ve read many brilliant novels, introducing me to characters that are going to stay with me for ever, and I spent thousand of magical hours in my fictional worlds, and here are some of my most favourite ones. They are not in particular order but there is one book that immediately springs to mind and so I just have it to place it at the very top of my list.

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

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February releases brought one of my most anticipated books this year. Alice Peterson belongs to my top favourite author but with “A Song for Tomorrow” she has overdone herself – this book is an absolute gem, a book like no other that turned me into a a weepy mess but that was also full of hope. I absolutely loved this book and it’s going to stay with me for ever!

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

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One novel that made me laugh out loud, that made me cringe, that made me cheer the characters on and also made me feel inspired by the main character was “My Sweet Revenge” by Jane Fallon, a story that I’ll be getting back to many, many times – though I’d love to be able to read it for the first time over and over again. “My Sweet Revenge” was a bittersweet story with strong and solid characters, with laugh out loud moments and many twists and turns, and you really couldn’t be sure what to expect and – and it was the best! – who to trust and which information is true, the author has really messed with her readers! Absolutely brilliant read!

A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

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I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.

The One by John Marrs

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Oh holy moly, guys. This book. THIS BOOK. When I started to reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Literally. This book. THIS BOOK. It was freakingly brilliant. So refreshing, so original, so unpredictable – one of the best novels this year, believe me. This novel was unputdownable. It was exciting and addictive, and as the chapters were so short, I more than often found myself telling only one chapter and coming out for an air few hours later. It is so, so cleverly plotted, full of shocking twists and turns. “The One” was one of the most unpredictable reads you can ever wish for.

Catch Me if You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

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There can’t be a list without Lisa Dickenson’s book on it!!! “Catch Me if you Cannes” was packed full, as it usually is with Lisa’s stories, of incredible, belly – ache one – liners. There is something magic and addictive to Lisa’s writing. It’s so light and easy to follow, and it leaves you full of sparkles and will to live, really. But it’s not only laugh – out – loud story about the adventures of two best friends, oh no, Lisa, as usually, has added some softer and emotional moments to the plot as well, that just made me love the story much, much more!

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

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This story is so beautifully written, it’s full of layers, it’s deep and incredibly funny at the same time, and full of unforgettable characters and situations, friendship and the overwhelming feeling of being welcome. It’s bittersweet, and it is very honest and raw but there is also this incredibly uplifting, optimistic side to it. You can feel the love, the friendship and hope and it is great. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby, and it evoke all kind of emotions in me. It is Debbie Johnson at her best!

The Break by Marian Keyes

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“The Break” was full of dramas, small and huge, and brilliantly captured family bonds. It touches on some more serious and some lighter issues. It is first of all about love, but also about death and grief, health issues, patchwork families and how they work, betrayal, temptations and also your everyday troubles and issues. It’s about overcoming those troubles and staying strong. It’s about choices. It was compelling, emotional, complex and so wise! A book with unforgettable characters that’s going to stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading it, with plenty of emotional but also plenty of this incredible Irish charm and humour.

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

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This book made me laugh so hard and I couldn’t wait to discover what’s going to happen. It is this best kind of book when you want to turn the pages as quickly as possible but on the other hand you don’t want it to end. It was a brilliant, entertaining story about love, family and finding your priorities, relationships and seeing that grass is not always greener on the other side. It had me emotionally involved and just pushed all the right buttons for me.

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

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“The Year of Saying Yes” was a story about learning things about yourself, pushing your boundaries, learning that impossible is nothing. It shows that no matter what we think about ourselves, we’re strong enough to face the challenges – in a brilliant, hilarious, light – hearted way. I really can’t wait to see what Hannah Doyle has in store for us, because this book was a real winner and it is a novel that should be shouted about from the rooftops.

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

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This book is  pure genius. A bloody good psychological suspense/thriller with a writing style that just draws you in, and you can’t stop reading. “Sister, Sister” is a story of betrayal, lies and secrets, an absorbing and disturbing psychological suspense with greatly developed characters full of secrets and issues, all so significant to this story and they keep you guessing till the end. This is this kind of a book that you say to yourself you’re going to read only one chapter more and come up for a breath few hours later.

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

35215800Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 8th October 2017

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #3 (read my review of Book 1 here and Book 2 here)

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Come home to the Comfort Food Café and cosy up with a mug of hot chocolate and an extra sprinkle of romance!

When Zoe’s best friend Kate dies of breast cancer, her whole world is turned upside down. Within hours, she goes from being the wacky neighbour who can barely keep a houseplant alive to a whole new world of responsibility when she realises she’s guardian to Kate’s 15-year-old daughter, Martha.

Moving to the little village of Budbury, Zoe hopes the fresh Dorset sea breeze and the gentle pace of life will help them heal.

Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the Comfort Food Cafe provide listening ears, sage advice, shoulders to cry on, and some truly excellent carrot cake. And when Martha’s enigmatic, absent father suddenly turns up, confusing not only Martha but Zoe too, the love and friendship of their new friends is the best present they could have asked for…

Rating: five-stars

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Oh my word, guys, you have no idea how much I loved “Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe”! I simply adored it with all my heart and my whole little miserable life, and I really can’t describe how great it was to be back to the Comfort Food Cafe, Budbury and all the brilliant villagers, old or new. The Comfort Food Cafe series, in fact, is up there, very very high, on the favourite series shelf, together with the Walshs by Marian Keyes and The Proper Family by Chrissie Manby and I really don’t want to end.
You can read this book as a stand – alone, as it introduces as to brand new characters that are going to break your heart and full it with the warmest feelings at the same time, but I highly, highly recommend to read all of the books in the series because they are simply brilliant and it is always such a great feeling to catch up with all the regular, old characters.

The story is split into four parts, and each of them is full to brims with beautiful descriptions, bad and good things happening, tears and laughter. Within those four parts we can see how much affect The Comfort Food Cafe is having on Zoe and Martha, how they change, open and find their place. But of course this story is not only about Zoe and Martha, and I was over the moon with joy to see and hear the latest from Laura, Becca, Cheri, Edie and their other halves. They didn’t change one iota, thanks God, they are still as warm and welcoming as ever, and they still know what is needed to help the new kids on the block to see happiness again.

The characters are, as always, spiky, bubbly and real and they feel like 3D people. They are quirky, they are fun, they are full of compassion and I would love to have such Comfort Food Cafe nearby. There is this brilliant and warm feeling of community spirit. Zoe and Martha, the two main characters this time, are so beautifully written, they are down to earth and genuine with all of their emotions. Martha is the typical teenager but you cannot dislike her, you sympathize with her, with the way she copes with her grief, and her being so sarcastic and awkward rings such a bell. The interactions between Zoe and Martha are fabulous and also genuine – the author has got so easily into their heads and put all of their feelings into words. Zoe is so authentic, and she deserves a standing ovation for being as she is, what with her chaotic and shaky childhood.

The story mentions good as well as tough times of Zoe and Martha, and it is incredible how very well it is balanced, how well the author knows when to add a poignant moment and when to brighten the atmosphere, and let’s just mention the welcoming party or the Christmas Talent Show. There is so much feeling and understanding to the words and even when Debbie Johnson writes about dogs sitting on Cal’s feet, hoping for something to eat, it is written in such a way that you could easily picture this and feel the warmth in those words. This novel is full of twists and turns and surprises, there are so many threads in there but they all mesh really well, they get together brilliantly and as a result we get a wonderful story without a single flat moment, but also that is not overdone.

I’ve no idea how Debbie Johnson manages to capture and put into words all the emotions and feelings: of disappointment, anger, hope, love, despair and exasperation – but she does it in a brilliant way. It was so honest, so genuine that I really had goose bumps, it touched upon all my right heart – strings and it doesn’t happen often, guys, only very few authors can do this, and Debbie Johnson belongs to them.

Debbie Johnson’s writing style is one of a kind, she draws the reader into the story from the very first page and I found myself racing through the pages, but not wanting this book to end. This story is so beautifully written, it’s full of layers, it’s deep and incredibly funny at the same time, and full of unforgettable characters and situations, friendship and the overwhelming feeling of being welcome. It’s bittersweet, and it is very honest and raw but there is also this incredibly uplifting, optimistic side to it. You can feel the love, the friendship and hope and it is great. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby, and it evoke all kind of emotions in me. It is Debbie Johnson at her best, though I could have mentioned it once or twice in my previous reviews? Very highly recommended!

The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

 

33216522Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 20th April  2017

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

Number of pages: 320

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

‘Funny and poignant – a celebration of life and the enduring power of love’ – Carys Bray, bestselling author of A Song for Issy Bradley.

Rating: 5/5

This book is a big step away from Debbie Johnson’s previous rom – coms. Already her “Comfort Food Cafe” series was a little different, more serious in tone but “The A – Z of Everything” is a totally different level. I admit, it took me some time to get used to the new Debbie Johnson, as I totally love her specific sense of dry humour and I missed it a little lately, but you know what, this book, it is just magnificent, and the way the author writes about feelings and emotions is just beautifully gorgeous. I freely admit, it was hard for me to get into this story as I was all the time looking for a situation that’ll made me laugh out loud and I felt confused why they’re not coming but guys, honestly, my initial disappointment was very quickly replaced with the feeling of feeling my heart in my throat and having problems with swallowing. Sure, this trademark Debbie Johnson’s humour is still shining through the words and situations, and it is written in this typical author’s way, but this book is different. Period. And as much as I felt head over heals with Debbie’s “The Birthday That Changed Everything”, this book follows it closely.

The story is following Rose (Rosehip) and Poppy (Popcorn – brilliant nicknames, don’t you think?) and at the beginning, though I am really not sure why, I had great difficulties to say which one is Rose and which one is Poppy, each time I turned the page to a new chapter and there was the name of one of the sisters I needed to consider long if this is the younger or the older one. Really don’t know why. But only at the beginning. So we know that they were inseparable as children but then something very unthinkable happened and they haven’t seen or talked to each other for years. Heck, Poppy has never seen her nephew Joe and he’s already 16 years old! It takes some time for the “unthinkable” to be explained and while my imagination run wild, I haven’t come up with this possibility. So yes, estranged siblings – that is, till their mother’s friend Lewis let them know that Andrea is dead and that there is a little list of things they should do together – because Andrea’s greatest wish was to see her daughters re – united.

The two sisters couldn’t be more different, and while one of them focused on binge and comfort eating, the other one focused on her career and staying fit. When one of them felt like a doormat, didn’t have any confidence, was overweight and knew it and hated it but did nothing to change it, the second one was full of confidence, was a business – woman, had a great job and state – of – the – art apartment. They were full of flaws but guys – how much I loved them! From the very beginning. Yes, I wanted to shake them more than often, to bang their heads together but I so well could understand them, why they behaved this way, what has driven them to be like that – and it doesn’t happen often that I can get the characters SO WELL.

You know, this book brought out all kind of emotions out of me. I felt furious with the sisters for being so stubborn, I felt sorry for Joe for missing so much of his Aunt, I felt like crying when reading about Lewis’ missing Andrea so much, I felt proud of Andrea being so strong and brave. I could understand Andrea and her wish for her daughters not seeing her so ill and so weak, wanting them to remember her living and breathing and not thinking about her through the prism of seeing her on her deathbed. This story had me laughing and crying, feeling desperate and full of hope. It was so uplifting to see the two sisters finding each other and themselves afresh and heart – breaking to see how much it have cost them.

I loved to read about the tasks! Each of the letters was brilliant and believe me, guys, they were not like A is for apple or W is for watching films. They were thoroughly thought – over, they were complex and they had one thing in common – to bring the girls together. Some of the tasks were incredibly hard for Poppy and Rose, some of them were incredibly hilarious, but the most important thing was, I think, that they worked together on them – sometimes sober, more then often after a glass or two of wine, but together, slowly opening, reminiscing on their past and always having their mum in their memories.

A story that really makes you think twice. It will teach you not to take things for granted and to appreciate the smallest things in your life. And not only things, but people as well, because they won’t be in your life for ever. Novel about coming out of your comfort zones, about forgiveness. The author has done the impossible here, namely she has written a book that is so incredibly emotional on the sad side but at the same time so very uplifting, and I loved this perfect mix. Debbie Johnson can so brilliantly capture all the rawness of emotions, the broken hearts without judging the characters, and I loved this fact – it let me be angry with Rose and Poppy myself. This is really Debbie Johnson at her best, guys. “The A – Z of Everything” is a MUST read this spring and I will be recommending it to all of my friends, and I can start right now, so really, whatever you do, make sure you have this book on pre – order – it’s not a read to be missed and that is for sure going to stay with you for longer. It’s poignant, it’s full of sympathy, compassion and understanding and I can’t stop admiring the fact how much the author has managed to get into the characters’ heads and tell their stories in such a lovely way. Highly, highly recommended!

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

30187837Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 23rd September 2016

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 187

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The brand new Christmas romance from best-selling author Debbie Johnson and the follow up to ‘Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’.

The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

 

Rating: 4/5

Christmas is coming earlier and earlier each year, at least bookish Christmas – “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is already one of the few festive reads that I read in September. Not that I’m complaining – I love Christmas and I probably could read Noel – centred books all over the year. And especially if they are written by Debbie Johnson – she has really ricocheted herself to the top of my favourite authors list and I’m sure she’s going to stay there for a very long time, if not for ever.

I think I don’t have to emphasize that “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is a return to our beloved Comfort Food Cafe, as the title says it all. However, this time, even though it is also return of some of the characters that I’ve learnt to love in the previous novel, this story is told by Becca, Laura’s sister. Becca seems much more disturbed and complicated than Laura but she has her reasons! She also hates Christmas, literally hates it, and we quickly learn why as the story begins with showing us a few of Becca and Laura’s Christmases, and those scenes were brilliant, they were like watching a kaleidoscope, and no matter what there was always a Christmas disaster with Becca.. I think she would be a great best friend of Scrooge. But now the biggest nightmare of Becca is coming true – she is going to spend family Christmas, together with Laura, her children and Matt, and the whole team from Comfort Food Cafe! Oh boy…
Why is Becca such a Christmas grouch? What has happened? Is she going to open to her family? Start to enjoy life more? Is the Comfort Food Cafe going to do its magic again? This all, and much, much more is waiting for you in this brilliant, warm, cosy and already festive story. What I like so much in Debbie Johnson’s books is that they so effortlessly combine fun and humour with more poignant, serious issues and I love the way she always deals with those issues, with a lot of understanding and without judging, letting the reader know all the circumstances and judge for themselves. Yes, there were moments that I felt desperate with Becca, she was not too easy – going, she was always kicking herself, and it seemed as if she didn’t want to change, at all, that she’s happy in her shell and I wanted her to stop being like this. She wasn’t moaning or wanted to burden us with her problems, she wanted to deal with them alone, but her being so miserable inside and only showing the world a different face was not good for her and I wanted her to go out of this dark and cold corner, and to fully live. Becca is this kind of person who’s initially not so easy to like but as the story went along she really grew on me, she got under my skin and at the end I was a putty in her hands. Debbie Johnson has made her character really complex and complicated and she brilliantly showed how difficult it is to break off with your old habits, how easy it is to stay like you are just because it’s more comfortable, and how much it costs – and I mean here emotions and feelings – to try to go out of your comfort zone, and this all made Becca only even more realistic and believable.

The story brings us back all the characters from the summer novel, introduces new of them, and focuses more on the characters that we got to know in summer and now have a chance to get to know much better, such like some sexy surfer Sam, mmmm. Sam was so, so funny, so laid – back and easy going, you know, he was the yin to Becca’s yang or whatever it is – I loved their banter and the way they were so honest with each other, they didn’t fake anything, they were genuine with their feelings.

It seems that Comfort Food Cafe is really a magic, perfect place to be when you have problems and I want to go and live there, and eat Laura’s brilliant food. When reading the story I just wanted to be a part of it, to join the gang and to forget about all my worries and sorrows. I think this story can be read as a stand – alone novel but I also think you’d miss out too much on the summer book, and on the whole Comfort Food Cafe charm. Immediately after starting reading this sequel I’ve felt at home, as if I was meeting with good, old friends. Yes, I’d love to hear much, much more from Laura and the gorgeous vet, as well as from her brilliant children, but I do appreciate the turn this story took, the depth and – shortly – I just get what the author wanted to do this time. The story brilliantly mixes fun and seriousness, and Debbie Johnson is truly a champion of writing catching one – liners and hilarious scenes, and you need to read the wedding or the visit at the shopping centre for yourself. Each character mentioned in this book, even so very background one, like for example Willow and her mum, had their place in this story and their presence adds tons of warmth. “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is like a mug of Laura’s hot chocolate with marshmallows – warm, melting your heart and cheering. Highly recommended!