The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

 

35888778Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don’t make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it’s said in the wrong way.

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

Rating: five-stars

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I don’t have a huge, extended family and usually I don’t have problem with it, however after reading such books as “The Sunday Lunch Club” I’d give everything to have such a family like the Pipers – so many people that accept you no matter what unconditionally. The problem with books such as “The Sunday Lunch Club” is that no matter what you’re going to write in your review it probably won’t do this book a justice. Because it was a perfect read, from the beginning to the end and really, I still can’t settle for another read after finishing this one. I know people often say that didn’t want a book to end, and I thought I also read such books, but I think this was the very first one that I can for sure say that now I know how it is when you don’t want a book to end. It was this kind of read where I absorbed every single word, I cried and laughed together with the characters.

“The Sunday Lunch Club” by Juliet Ashton is a relatively slow read and with plenty of characters, and I was afraid that it’s going to be confusing, but quickly, very quickly I knew who is who in this book, and even quicker I started to love all of them. The Pipers are two sisters and two brothers with their own, very colourful families and histories, friends and grandmother Dinkie, still full of life, feisty and down to earth. And jeez, let’s not forget Yeti – what a brilliant, entertaining creature, and the descriptions of him looking after the baby made me cry so, so much! But back to the siblings and co. They meet regularly for Sunday Lunch (Club), every time in a different home, and with every single lunch we learn more and more about them, we see what makes them tick, what they love, what they hate and what their problems are – and there is a lot of those things! The story is mostly told from Anna’s point of view, Anna – who was so realistically drawn that I had a feeling I can feel her breathing next to me. She discovers that she’s pregnant at the age of 40, and the baby is not her ex – husband’s. Being pregnant brings back some memories and this part of the story was so unpredictable and heart – breaking, guys. Anna, the second oldest after Neil, feels responsible for all of her siblings and you couldn’t be in better hands than in those of Anna’s. Neil is right now trying to adapt to being a father, the second sister Maeve has visions and thinks she’s psychic, but she’s really, really brilliant, no worries guys, and she doesn’t seem to have much luck in the men – department, and the youngest Josh is troubled and very distant – why? They all have their problems and troubles and when you think they’re going to be very average problems than you’re in for a great, great surprise, because their stories are all but average and predictable. The characters have their own distinctive voices and they are so close to life and I felt so strongly for all of them. They were lovely and loving, eclectic, chaotic, they had their ups and downs and – what’s most important – they talked with each other and they weren’t afraid of telling what they feel. It made them more vulnerable and open to being hurt but it also made them so real.

It was written in a really interesting way. We got to see the characters every now and then, when it was time for their gathering at the Sunday Lunch Club. Sometimes there was a week between them, sometimes a month, and really we don’t know what exactly happens with, and to, them. However, during those gatherings we get enough insight and gossip to know perfectly well what has happened and why. It’s funny really how well it works, as we are used to usually have a sneak peek into every aspect of the characters’ lives, to know their every move and thought, and here we had to settle for some most important moments, and it’s enough to absolutely fell for the characters, to intuitively know what they feel and think, to feel a part of their world, to keep our fingers crossed for them or to want to shake them badly. And that doesn’t of course mean that their feelings or emotions weren’t captured – they were brilliantly put into words!

I absolutely, totally adored the way the family was working. They were bickering, they were arguing, they felt offended but oh my word, let somebody who didn’t belong to the family to tell one wrong word about them! They got their backs, they supported each other, and not only the closest family but also the ex – husbands, new girlfriends and every single crazy idea that came to their minds.

Even though it is on the slower side, the pace is only right and there are some twists that you’d never see coming – take my word for this! It is romantic enough, there is enough drama and plenty of funny moments, and there is this feeling of being accepted no matter what. There are secrets that will break your heart but the family will mend it again. The writing is perfect. The dialogues are effortless and the story is just flawing, and the family dynamics are brilliantly captured. Their interactions and banter were so relatable and there were moments that I could only nod my head with understanding.

“The Sunday Lunch Club” was a beautifully written and full of all kind of emotions and feelings novel about a brilliantly dysfunctional – yet brilliantly working – family. It was heart-warming, uplifting and poignant at the same time. In no time you’re going to feel a part of the Piper family and you want to add your own opinion or two during one of the lunches. It was emotional, and it was funny and I didn’t want to put this book down for a single second. Shortly – it was a bloody perfect read, as I knew it’s going to be. If there is one thing you can be sure it’s that Juliet Ashton is going to deliver a wonderful, emotional, clever and hilarious story. Highly, highly recommended!

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The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

 

35890882Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Series: The Island of Mure #2

Source:  Received in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 412

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dreams start here…

‘Charming, made me long to escape to Mure. Total joy.’ – Sophie Kinsella

On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend.

While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him.

As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

Rating: five-stars

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Lately Jenny Colgan was proving with her every new release what a brilliant author she is, and each of her book was better than the previous one. However, with “The Endless Beach”, she has probably outdone herself – this book is perfect in every way. I would go that far and say that it’s probably Jenny Colgan’s best yet. This book has fulfilled all of my expectations and more. It is heart – warming, uplifting, emotional and incredibly realistic, and written in this brilliant and unmatchable Jenny Colgan’s writing style.
This is a sequel to “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” that can be read as a standalone, but I personally would recommend to read the first book as well – even though there is a reminder in the letter from Jenny at the beginning of “The Endless Beach”, which is very helpful btw, the first book was equally gorgeous and I think it will let you to understand the characters and their actions much better.

In “The Endless Beach” we’re back to the island of Mure and the characters that I already love plus some of the new ones, that are equally adoring. Flora’s storyline was supposed to be the main one, and well, yes it was, but she shared the book pages equally with the other characters, whose stories and backgrounds and present were as intriguing and hooking as hers. To be honest, I have a feeling that this time the male characters’ subplots were more prominent in this story, which only made it feel refreshing and even more interesting (as if it were possible!). This time it were the men that were hiding something, not the women! The story of Saif was heart – breaking. It was very actual and even though I may think it is a topic that doesn’t necessarily belong in fiction, I could give the author a standing ovation for writing it this way and for finding the courage to make one of her lead character a refugee. It was brilliant to see that the islanders – of course, after initial reservations – accepted him with open arms and what they did later when he brought someone to the island was absolutely gorgeous. His story was such an eye – opener, too, and I fell for him immediately, and I could cry when reading about his past. It was great to be back with Fintan, who can finally be himself and I loved his relationship with Colton, how much in love they were with each other, how they were around each other. There was of course a secret involved and even though I might have started to suspect something, the reveal has totally took me by surprise, took my breath away and made my cry because it was written in such a beautiful, sweet, gentle way, and you could feel through the pages the love and desperation there. Joel… I really don’t know how it is possible to write such raw emotions, I think Jenny Colgan has just got into his head.
The author didn’t forget about our girls, of course. Flora and Lorna’s feelings and emotions are true to life. It was brilliant to see what’s happening in their lives after we have left them behind, closing “The Summer Seaside Kitchen”. I must admit, I have expected that Flora’s life and her relationship with Joel would be plain sailing but it turned out it is far from this. They had their ups and downs and there were some moments that I got a headache as it seemed they just can’t communicate with each other in a normal way. I so wanted to bang their heads together because I so wanted this relationship to work and it just seemed that they rub each other up the wrong way, they’re getting hot and cold with each other all the time. This relationship was so genuine and so raw, they both felt so vulnerable in it because they loved so much but didn’t know how to show this, and it made me feel so, so desperate! Flora has such a big heart, and not only when it comes to be generous when running her own business, no, she’s just a wonderful, good natured person. There is so much passion in her in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t do things halfway through and I just kept everything crossed for her and for Joel. He was distant and sometimes I wanted to shake him but I also knew that there is a reason to his behaviour, and even though we don’t know till almost the end what it is, there was something in Joel that made you fell for him immediately and to understand him without knowing more.
But one of the best characters must be AGOT, and when you read the book you’ll know why I write her in capitals.

The way the story went and the many subplots took me by surprise, I must admit, I think I have expected something different. Not sure what but whatever it was, this story just tug at my heart strings, it was full of emotions and feelings. There was this magic that you always look for in the book that you read, there were brilliant storylines and characters that you could die for, as they so got under your skin. This writing was just one and only. It was beautiful, it enveloped you and you just didn’t want to put this book down.

The setting in this story couldn’t be more perfect! I fell in love with the wild island of Mure when reading the first book, and this story only reinforced me in this feeling. I think I would feel completely contended there. There was a brilliant community feeling that was especially visible at one of the weddings when the author so beautifully put it into words that it is the most important thing for the islanders and even though they’re not officially invited, they are invited, they can come and feel at home, and it was brilliant. The author lets us know the ins and outs of the little school run by Lorna, the island living and its villagers, when they know your comes and goes better than you yourself but they only mean well.

“The Endless Beach” was a real escapism and it is really so hard to put into words how great this book was. There was everything I was looking for from Jenny Colgan and even more. It was full of laugh out loud moments, as well as many poignant ones, it was full of heart and understanding and with incredible depth. It made me hold my breath and then start to hope again. There was the lovely mention of the mystery of myth, that I simply adored, there was this close knit community, it brought to us some new and fresh perspectives of characters that usually are not introduced in such stories. I really didn’t want this book to come to an end and if you haven’t read this enchanting story yet, drop everything and treat yourself – but be warned that you’re going to disappear for a few hours, as it’s just unputdownable.

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.

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

 

37531790Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 14th December 2017

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

Number of pages: 341

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 25.01.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The hilarious and poignant new novel from the best selling author of The Kicking the Bucket List.

When a boxset of Broadchurch is more appealing than having sex with your husband, then perhaps it’s time to hide the remote…

Cait and Matt have been married for 30 years. They are rock solid; an inspiration to others; stuck together like glue – aren’t they?
But Cait can’t shake off the feeling that something is missing. They are fit and healthy, if a bit skint – but the whole world should be their oyster now that Matt has retired, giving them the time to do those things that really matter – and more importantly – together. So why is she left wondering if this is all there is? Has Matt always been this annoying and infuriating? And where have those ants-in-her-pants suddenly come from?
It’s not helped by the reappearance in her life of Tom Lewis, the love of her life who broke her heart at university and who, despite the fact she hasn’t she hasn’t seen him for decades, is still exerting his magnetic pull.
Her friends are Lorna, who recently lost her husband, and Debs whose husband recently left her. The three women must all question what they want out of the rest of their lives – and how they are going to get it…

Rating: five-stars

 

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“Dancing Over the Hill” is my second Cathy Hopkins’s book and oh my word, guys, I just can’t wait for more! It was a read filled with fun, laughter and tenderness and it just spoke with me and resonated with me and it was all what I needed at the moment. I was immersed in the story from the very first page, guys, and I really didn’t want to put this book down. It was truly fast – paced but not over – done, it was full of brilliant, larger than life characters that the author so incredibly well brought to life, and it just rang a bell or two, it was so relatable. It was also brutally honest and absolutely hilarious, so really, just the best kind of read, evah. I had great expectations for this book, after reading Cathy’s previous one, “The Kicking the Bucket List” and I was not disappointed, I probably liked “Dancing Over the Hill” even more.

What I absolutely liked in this story is the fact that the characters are mature ones – people with past, who experienced a lot and they really know what they’re talking about. They make mistakes, and oh boy, some really great mistakes, but they are so genuine and honest in all the situations and I just couldn’t help and kept everything crossed for them. Cait and Matt have been married for more than 30 years now and they find themselves in a relationship that’s, let’s say, came to a little standstill. They don’t have anything in common anymore, and they just live in one house, next to each other, but as if separate – if you follow me. Probably more out of habit than anything else they’re still together. Then, after a whirlwind of events, they find themselves both out of work and the big question, what now, is looming above their heads, and it’s not only about their financial situation but also their private lives. Do they want to stay together? It’s not so straightforward, as an old flame of Cait suddenly appears on her Facebook, sending her friend request and trying to seduce her again. Then there are also Cait’s friends, Lorna and Debs, trying their best to help as best they can, that doesn’t always end well, and Matt’s brother (oh boy. Guys! Some of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever read, please be careful when you decide to talk sex on the phone with your husband!) and Cait’s father, and many, many other characters and things. They were open for new stuff and to learn a new lesson or two.

Really guys, there was not a single thing that I didn’t enjoy in this novel. It was down to earth and close to life, and with some best one – liners ever. The dialogues were just spot – on, so realistic and genuine, and the situations the characters got themselves into were incredibly hilarious but not too far fetched. There were so many situations that made me laugh out loud, and I fell for all of the characters, that Cathy Hopkins so easily and effortlessly brought to life. She can so well write about feelings and emotions, it was absolutely brilliant. The chapters were just the right length, snappy and kept me glued to the pages.

Cathy Hopkins deserves so much more recognition, and believe me, I’ll be shouting about “Dancing Over the Hill” from all the rooftops! 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, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough! A perfect read!

 

The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break by Marian Keyes

 

34511798Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 7th September 2017

Source:  Purchased

Number of pages: 576

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.

At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.

Rating: five-stars

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Hello? One of the hugest Marian Keyes’s fans speaking: yours truly. For years she’s been probably my favourite author ever. I wasn’t lucky enough to receive an ARC of Marian’s new book “The Break” and being declined to read this title on NetGalley has broken my heart in thousands little pieces, but no worries guys, I’m a tough cookie and already had the book on pre – order.
I have no idea how this author does it but when you read her books you feel like a part of the story, like a part of the characters’ lives. Her stories, also “The Break” as well, are heart – breakingly sad and funny at the same time, they are down to earth, realistic, incredibly wise, brutally honest and so cleverly funny. I’ve never had a problem to fell in love with her characters and to keep everything crossed for them.

We are introduced to tons of characters in this story. Tons, guys! But fear not, you are to quickly learn who is who and why and to whom they belong. First of all, Amy’s family is huge, very huge, and all of her siblings has their own spouses and children. Then we have her friends, private and from work, then we have her children and their friends and boyfriends, and Hugh’s family… And believe me, I loved all of them! I adored Amy from the very beginning and wanted to hug her so much and tell her that everything is going to be ok (hopefully). She goes to her own limits, trying to cope as a suddenly single parent, juggling work, life, family and thousands of problems that start to pile on. Even though she’s devastated, she still picks herself up and goes on. However, she was not alone on this journey, there were her sisters, her family, especially her mother and her feisty daughters who kept her upright and supported her in their own ways – sometimes it was not what Amy needed right now but nevertheless it was wise and honest and they all wanted the best for her. Amy’s personality was so uncomplicated, she was happy with all things she got from life (well, of course except with her husband going on sabbatical, that is), she was so true to life, confident and insecure, with a great sense of humour, honest and true to her words and a huge ability to enjoy the world. Hugh was so selfish but I also couldn’t help but fell for him as well, and there was such an overwhelming feeling of grief and sadness in him, and the author so well nailed all of those feelings and emotions that made him tick.

The pacing in this story was great – it was a rather long book but there was never a dull moment and before you know it, you’re deep into it. The flashbacks gave us a chance to get to know more about Amy and Hugh’s relationship and what made them tick so great. The houseful of females provides great entertainment, brings thousands of shenanigans, and the normal, everyday problems that all of us has to deal with and I absolutely loved it!

Marian Keyes’s style is inimitable and there is Marian Keyes and then for a long, long time nothing else. She’s written “The Break” in her usual light, witty and insightful style and even when she writes about deeper and often taboo topics it’s forthcoming and not judging. She’s one of the few that can write about abortion, depression, suicide without offending anyone and getting the balance between sad and funny brilliantly.

“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. Highly, highly recommended!

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!

Book of the Month : May + Q&A with the Authors

Hi guys! It’s June (already) and it is time to share my favourite May reads with you. It was a great month bookish – wise (OK, and life was also not so bad, except for some not too great news but also some good ones), I rated many of the books with 5*. But – there were two novels that literally took my breath away. Two very different ones, different genres but both of them exceptionally brilliant. Moreover – I have a big, great pleasure to also share Q&As with both Authors, so scroll down and enjoy!

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I already can’t imagine summer and winter without Lisa Dickenson’s books. I love Lisa and I love her novels and one day, when I go to the UK, I want to meet her personally (be warned, Lisa!), so there. May has seen her lovely, gorgeous, summery “Catch Me if You Cannes” being published and even though I’ve read the book some time ago when it was published in the four – part – series I can’t describe how lovely it was to see the story as a whole, beautiful paperback version. Here you can read my review of this brilliant novel and here is also the promised Q&A with the Author.

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  1. Lisa, “Catch Me if You Cannes” is my book of the month (please do act as if you were really surprised!), so let’s talk about the book – who should play the characters should the book be made into a film? (and it should!!!)

Thank you thank you thank yooooooooou!  I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, my husband, my future dog, my Agi, my TV – oh, sorry, I went off on an Oscar speech tangent.  Thank you SO MUCH though for picking Cannes as your book of the month, this is muchas exciting!  Okay, who do I want on my casting couch (oo-er!)…

  1. Jess – our bubbly Marilyn Monroe.  This is a tough one!  Maybe Emilia Clarke, Ellie Kemper or Hayden Panettiere?
  2. Bryony – cool and confident, I’m going to go with Zoe Saldana, Michaela Coel or Zendaya
  3. Leo – lovely Leo… he’s gotta be strong and fit, but also a bit of a loveable goofball.  Hmm… why don’t you choose your perfect Leo, Agi  (OK, here we go. It’s not going to be an actor. Whatever, whenever, however, no matter what  – it must be Enrique Iglesias Bildergebnis für heart emoticonsSo there. You know now my biggest secret 🙂
  1. And if you were to go to the opening night, what would you wear?

Oh, it would have to be some amazing red-carpet-worthy gown reminiscent of old Hollywood.  Maybe the colour of the Cote d’Azur ocean.  I think I’d channel Marilyn Monroe, in honour of Jess!

  1. How much fun was it to write “Catch Me if You Cannes”? (Because I am so sure it was a great fun!)

I loved writing Cannes!  I felt inspired by old classics like Some Like It Hot and new female buddy stories like Bridesmaids.  I liked writing a caper for a change, and the Cannes Film Festival seemed the perfect setting for a couple of misfits to lose themselves in.

  1. You were in Cannes, right? What did you like best there?

The whole atmosphere of the place.  I expected to feel like I wouldn’t fit in (not that that would ever stop me going somewhere!) but actually it was welcoming, beautiful, calm and clean.  The glitziness never felt too exclusive, and this is partly what gave me the idea for Jess and Bryony, who travelled there full of white lies and assumptions…

  1. Are you choosing the lovely places you set your books specifically, so that the research is even more exciting?

I’m a bit of a travel bug, and I fall in love with some places pretty easily.  So what more often occurs is that I go somewhere (or re-go somewhere), find it magical, and then dream up storylines while I’m there.  Or when I’m back home, stuck in the post-holiday blues.

  1. There are tons of funny situations in your novel – how do you write them? Did they happen to you or are they completely fictional?

Why thank you, darlin’, I do try *hair flick*  There might be nuggets of things that have happened to me in my books, but I usually amp them up a bit.  With Cannes especially I tended to always go with the rule of asking, ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen here…?’ and then making it happen!  But being a romantic comedy it’s never usually literally the worst thing!

  1. Now a thousand dollar question – what is your favourite scene in the book? Only ONE, pretty please 🙂

I like the entire scene at the Hotel Du Cap, where Jess and Bryony are trying to make it from the pier at the back of the hotel and out the front door, and they run into obstacles at every turn.  In my mind it plays out like they’re a golden-era Hollywood slapstick comedy duo, which is how I like to think of the whole book, in a way.

  1. What’s next for Lisa Dickenson?

WELL, Book 5 is nearly there and just gagging for a title to be added to it.  I also have some new storylines up my sleeve, some ideas for crime fiction, and also a secret project which will be taking off REALLY SOON, I hope!

  1. And a bonus question: Nutella with a spoon out of the jar or on toast?

Ooooooooooo, I love Nutella on toast, but there’s something about scoffing it straight from the jar with a spoon.  So my winner is SPOON.

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And now it’s time for my second book. It has totally blown me away, guys. It was unpredictable, surprising, full of twists and turns and it was totally addictive – when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it literally. Doesn’t happen often but it was the case with “The One” by John Marrshere is my review of this incredibly fresh and unique book, and here is Q&A with the Author!

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  1. John, I’m so sorry but I have to ask – how did you come up with the idea for “The One”? This book is so unique and full of surprises and I just need to know what inspired you to write this story.

My partner (also called John) and I were planning our New York wedding. While on an escalator on the London Underground, I wondered how much easier it’d be if there was something chemical inside us that matched you with your soul-mate. If you saw them, you’d just know they were made for you, like I felt about John. Four months later, draft one was complete.

 

  1. The novel is told from multiple points of view – how did you keep them all on track?

I kept all five of them on little dog leads in my head, and then when it came time to write them, I’d let them off to run around and see where they ended up. I don’t write methodically. So I skipped from character to character depending on my mood. The hardest part was when it was all complete and deciding on which order to place the characters. I decided to ease people in gently with Mandy in chapter one, then punch them in the stomach with Christopher the serial killer in chapter two.

 

  1. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance? It is so complex, with so many twists and turns – which I loved, BTW – and I wonder, did you have to stick to your plan or did the plot take you by surprise as well?

Once I had the characters in mind, I thought about trying to link them but then decided it would be too convoluted. So I kept them under the umbrella of the DNA test and let them go in their own directions. I ran all my ideas through my partner as he’s a great sounding board for that kind of thing despite the fact he rarely reads a book! Then I just started writing. Sometimes I even surprised myself with plot changes – spoiler alert – for example, with Mandy, it was never the intention for her Match Richard to still be alive. It was only as I wrote about his death that I changed my mind and thought it’d be more interesting to have him still breathing.

 

  1. A writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?

I don’t have any, I really don’t. I’ve always had a full-time job throughout this process so fortunately, I’ve not had to reply on writing novels to pay the bills. I work as a journalist and as a result, I have a thick skin and can take criticism. My first book, The Wronged Sons, was rejected by 80 different publishers and agents which is why I decided to self-publish and it became a hit, enabling me to continue writing books in my spare time. Of course it’s not great to get bad reviews but it’s part and parcel of the job. People have the right not to like my books just as I have the right not to like every book I read. And I’ll never respond to a bad review, no matter how tempting it can be!

 

  1. What did you want your readers to take away from your story? Was there a hidden message within?

I guess the point of The One was to encourage readers to ask themselves if such a test existed, would they take it? If so, why? What about those who are in a relationship already? In a world that appears to be speeding up rather than slowing down, sometimes we all need to take time out to appreciate what we have, not what we could have.

 

  1. What was your most favourite and least favourite aspect of writing “The One”?

The first draft is always interesting, and the second draft is fun, tinkering with ideas and expanding upon them. The version I hate the most is the final proof. By then, I am so sick of reading the same 104,000 words over and over again. This book was the first time I worked with an editor, Emily Yau at Ebury, who also discovered The One when it was a self-published book called A Thousand Small Explosions. Her suggestions were so, so good and she made the process a pleasure.

 

  1. I think you must have been asked thousand of times already but please bare with me – would YOU take the test? Why yes/why not?

Ha! Yes, I have been asked it once or twice and the answer is always the same – no! As I addressed in the book, so many people think the grass is greener on the other side and they are always striving for something new, something more exciting than they already have. Invariably, they never get it. I married nine months ago and have found my One. I don’t need to take a test to reassure myself. 

 

  1. What’s next for John Marrs?

The Wronged Sons now has a publisher of its own and is re-released on July 13 with a fresh new edit and title, now called When You Disappeared. My next brand new novel, tentatively called The Good Samaritan – a psychological thriller – is scheduled for release in November this year. And I’m about to start writing book five.