The Trouble with Rose by Amita Murray

The Trouble with Rose by Amita Murray

 

43239335Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 14th February 2019

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

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 16.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

A missing sister. A broken heart.
A whole lot of trouble…

Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, The Trouble with Rose is an unforgettable story about a messy family, a big secret at its heart, and the unbreakable bond between sisters.

Rilla is getting married. Except she isn’t. She’s running away – from her confused fiancé Simon, her big mad family, and the memories nipping at her heels.

Her sister Rose would know what to do in such times of crisis.

But the trouble is, Rose is the crisis. She disappeared years ago, and Rilla’s heart went missing too.

Where is Rose? And who is Rilla without Rose?

If she’s to rescue some happiness out of all this chaos, she needs to find out.

Rating: three-stars

 

Rilla is about to get married to Simon but shortly before the wedding ceremony she’s arrested for shoplifting. Yes. Her own and Simon’s family manage to get her out of prison but Rilla isn’t happy, she can’t settle, she’s consumed with guilt about her sister Rose who has disappeared 16 years ago. Talking about Rose is forbidden in Rilla’s family but she can’t find peace until she knows what has happened. She needs to find her sister.

Personally I had huge problems with the main character. She came across as very spoiled and childish and all the time wanting something, whingy and unhappy. Rilla’s actions weren’t sweet for me, and she was mostly passive – aggressive and simply I couldn’t warm to her. Indecisive and behaving as if the whole world should revolve around her, with demanding attitude and not too likeable – and this hugely busted this story for me. I know, you don’t have to like the main character to enjoy the book but this time, as this story was very main character driven, it simply didn’t work. She’s convinced that it’s her fault that Rose disappeared, as she was mean and rude to her sister – but to be honest, she was like this to every living person in her proximity. It wasn’t funny anymore, it wasn’t charming, it was simply not nice. Although the way Rilla suffered because of all those secrets, of being kept in darkness was brilliantly described, and we could easily see that she felt isolated, she started to have panic attacks, she was struggling in every aspect of her life, and it wasn’t easy to watch – I wanted her to succeed in solving the Rose’s mystery, and I was also intrigued what has happened to her.
On the other hand, I adored her family – this huge group of eclectic and eccentric characters, they could have been annoying and interfering but you wouldn’t have to fear anything with them at your side. Loud and sarcastic and reserving the right to know everything about every other member of the family, always well meaning, I know they would drive me crazy, but as they weren’t my family I could totally enjoy them.

“The Trouble with Rose” was a book that intertwined humour with poignant moments and with different and unique storyline. I think that the search for Rose was not simply a search for Rose, that there was much more to it, it was actually Rilla also trying to work out what it is she wants to do with her life, if she’s able to love. As a result, we get a warm story about dysfunctioning family, lies and secrets and as an extra bonus there are tons of information about Indian culture and community – but it was refreshing and interesting. It was humorous, it was chaotic, and it had some brilliant moments – I, for example, adored the mentally messed up Lord Basingstoke, the cat, for whom Simon was trying to figure out parabolas. Maybe it wasn’t the right read for me, maybe I didn’t get the main character but I appreciated this novel, and I’ll be looking for more from Amita Murray.

 

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Blast from the Past by Cathy Hopkins

Blast from the Past by Cathy Hopkins

 

43320539Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 21st February 2019

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

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

On a trip of a lifetime to India, Bea is given an unexpected fiftieth birthday present – an hour with a celebrated clairvoyant. Unlucky in love, Bea learns that her true soulmate is still out there ̶ and that he’s someone she knew in a past life.

Returning home, Bea revisits the men in her life and can’t resist looking up a few old lovers – the Good, the Bad and the… well, the others. As Bea connects with the ones that got away, she suspects that her little black book has remained shut for a reason. But one man out there has her in his sights.
They say love is blind and maybe Bea just needs an eye test…

Funny and wise, this is the perfect read for anyone who believes in finding love, no matter what their age.

Rating: three-stars

To celebrate her 50th birthday, Bea and two of her best friends travel to India. It’s not your usual trip, as they usually avoid the touristy places, and enjoy it very much. At the end of the trip the befriended three exchange their birthday presents and one of Bea’s is an hour reading with India’s most popular and celebrated clairvoyant. To say that she’s sceptical would be an understatement but nevertheless she goes there with an open mind and is told that her true soul mate is out there somewhere and she only must find him. Moreover, they have met in the previous life already – the only thing Bea has to do now is to recognise him in her present life.

And here the book takes us on a bitter – sweet, funny and poignant journey as Bea decides to revisit the men that were significant in her life and to reconnect with her past loved ones. Some of them are single, some not, some of them changed, some of them didn’t and she’s in for all sorts and kinds, and we together with her. What she doesn’t know is that there is a man who’s desperately in love with her – is it one of the past lovers? The chapters told from Bea’s point of view were interspersed with some told by the mystery man, and let me tell you, the author didn’t make it too easy for us to guess who it was. There was a character that I wanted Bea to end with together but I couldn’t be sure that it’s going to happen, and I really liked this feeling of uncertainty and unpredictability.

The retrospections of Bea’s previous relationships were so very well written. It was simply like it is in real life, with all the ups and downs and all kind of relationships and how Bea felt about them. It was realistic and genuine and also entertaining – some were truly disastrous, also in a funny way, but also in a more serious way, and I liked how well the author mixed them all together and perfectly balanced humour with sadness and seriousness.

Sadly, this time, the book felt a little too flat for me, and very repetitive. I had a feeling that we’re repeating the same thing, over and over again and that we’re not moving forward. I liked the idea of reincarnation, it was something totally new and refreshing but I couldn’t engage with it somehow and it didn’t keep my attention as much as I thought it’s going to. It simply felt too slow – but, having said that, I must also admit that this book was full of warmth and brilliant characters and I liked the message that it’s never too late to find your true love. What was so exceptionally brilliant and unique in the book was the idea of past life and the way the author explored this topic – even if I couldn’t fully get into it. No matter what your thoughts on it, it was written in a special, well – researched way and I had a feeling that Cathy Hopkins isn’t trying to convince me there is a past life and it’s possible to meet your soul mate again, no, she’s giving me a choice to believe in it or not. I’ll be honest, I still don’t know what to think about it but it was great to read about it, about the possibilities and oh well, there is something in it, right, those feelings of deja vu that we’re experiencing, seeing people for the first time in our lives and thinking that we know them for ages.

Altogether, “Blast from the Past” is a book about second chances, about grabbing life by the horns, having fun and about not being afraid to have dreams. It was warm, uplifting and with some sad moments as well, and I’m sure we all be able to find something we can relate to in this story. Even though it may not be my favourite Cathy’s novel, I still enjoyed it whole – heartedly, it was refreshing and unique. Recommended!

 

The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney

The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney

 

Sr-QHuzS.jpg largePublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 7th February 2019

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

One love. Two people. Twenty Years.

From the moment they met, Erin and Dom loved each other too much, too quickly. Everyone said it wouldn’t last. But they knew differently.

A wedding present, a notebook, brings them together through the good times and the bad. On the blank pages of their love story, they write down everything they can’t always say – the secrets, the heartbreak, the highs and lows. It’s where they see the best and worst of each other.

Falling in love is easy but staying in love is where the story begins…

Rating: five-stars

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Erin Fitzgerald and Dominic Carter got married in 1996 – they loved each other unconditionally and they’re expecting a baby. Erin’s father gives them a leather bond book – The Book of Love – to write down what they can’t tell each other face to face. Each letter should end with a message of love. They’re sceptical at first but then the book turns out to be pivotal source for their communication, to be a significant part of their lives.

You can’t help but immediately fell for the characters, for their fates, for their feelings, emotions and unconditional love, and so, very quickly, you find yourself on incredible roller coaster ride through their lives, through the years they have to learn by themselves what life really is about. I experienced everything with them, I could feel their pain, hurt, uncertainty, love, hope and grief. The book offers us everything, through ups and downs, screw ups, struggles, heartbreaks and changes in relationships. All the characters are so well fleshed out, they’re not perfect, they’re full of flaws and secrets and they make mistakes but this only make them much more realistic and relatable. They’re simply human – and after reading tons of books in my life I’ve learnt that it doesn’t always work out for authors to create their characters this way, which only made me appreciate them even more. Each character in this book, no matter if the main or the background one, was authentic and genuine, in every detail and every gesture. The relationships between them – and there were plenty of them, not only this of marriage, but also of being a parent, sibling, friend – were real.

The story begins in 2017 and takes us back and forth through years, starting in 1996, and all those years are testimony of love. It moves smoothly between the timelines, and with ease, and there was maybe a moment or two when I shortly felt a little confused but quickly I was finding myself again on track. And I love the way it was written, as it really was full of surprises. When I was thinking that I know where I’m standing, where the story is going, then bang, and it was pushed in totally different direction.

The end made me really tearful. Such love, as this of Erin and Dom, it doesn’t happen often, I think. You can love but there was such a special bond between them, a bond that was palpable through the pages and that I envied them so much. However, this bond doesn’t mean that they didn’t have problems communicating, because they did, there were things they couldn’t tell each other face to face, and here comes The Book of Love, the gift Erin’s father gave them at their wedding. Sometimes it’s hard to speak up, to tell what’s bothering you for fear what the other half may think of you and so Erin and Dom settled to write their deepest, most intimate thoughts in the book for each other. And it turned out to be a cathartic, emotional experience for both of them, and for us, readers, as well. What makes this book so exceptional is the honesty it’s written with. Love is not only bed of roses, love can hurt, love means loss and grief and sadness, and the book mixes those moments perfectly with joy and humour and believe me, no matter how you’re going to feel at the end, how much of a snotty mess you’re going to be, it’ll be an uplifting read that will restore your faith in love and friendship.

Lately we are literally flooded with descriptions of the books that shout “that final twist!” and that usually leave you lukewarm. Probably those that don’t need such kind of advertising, that speak for themselves, are the best kind of twists – here, in this gorgeous story, I haven’t seen the final twist. It just came and hit me hard on my unexpecting head and left me a) speechless and b) in tears – and this is what I call TWIST.

Fionnuala Kearney can write in such a gorgeous way – her writing style is flawless and effortless, of high quality and so chatty that when you start reading you simply can’t put the book away. She captures all the insecurities and fears and the book is going to make you nod with understanding and agreement, to roll your eyes, laugh and cry. She, as not many out there, can describe human nature and the complexity of it with tons of sensitivity and understanding. “The Book of Love” was incredibly beautiful and brutally honest story of love, marriage and family. It has broken my heart, to mend it and to break it again. It was about forgiveness, showing how true love can knit people together in the face of disaster, tragedy but also happiness. Be prepared that you’re going to be emotionally invested from the very beginning till the end. It was powerful and moving, uplifting and heart – breaking, mesmerising and enduring and I raced through the pages, though it is this kind of book that you also don’t want to end. It was a complex and epic tale full of real people, real stories, real feelings. Deep and intelligent and so cleverly written, for sure my certain contender for the best read in 2019. And after reading it. this is what I call book – hangover. I loved it – mightily.

 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

 

cover145117-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

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

Number of pages: 394

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Hunting Party” – and what a phenomenal title this is! – introduces us to a group of thirty – something close friends from Oxford University, who, after their degrees, stayed in touch and made it a tradition to spend time together. This time they gather over the New Year period at a secluded lodge in Scottish Highlands. On New Year’s Day though, the manager of the estate and the gamekeeper discover that one of the guests is missing and is then found dead. It quickly becomes clear that it was not an accident, that a murder has been committed. The place is closed off the world because of the snowstorms, the police can’t arrive and there is a killer among the guests – what’s going to happen now? Are they save?

I’ve been keeping seeing “The Hunting Party” everywhere, guys, everywhere, and well, yes, this whole hype made me desperate to read this book. Add to this the brilliant, chilling premise and I thought, yes, it’s going to be THIS read. Yes, I’m rather careful with books being advertised in such a way because I am always scared that they’re not going to live up to my expectations, as I think that you can expect something really amazing from them but as lately I’ve been rather lucky and so I started to read this book without any trepidation.
And I kept reading, kept reading and reading, finished the book and thought, and? Is this it? Where is the wow? Sadly, it didn’t take me by surprise. Sadly, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I’m going to. There were all the signals it could be a brilliant read. The setting for example, could you imagine a better setting for a psychological thriller than this remote and desolate exclusive hunting lodge, snowed in, next to a loch somewhere deep in Scottish Highlands? Brilliant, no? Also the way it was written, starting with the information that one of the guest has been found murdered, and then going back and forth over the few days revealing all the facts, interactions and dynamics between the characters should make it tense and on the edge, don’t you think? But then came the characters, and as this story was very character – driven they were the make or break of the book. For me, unfortunately, the break. In the end I simply couldn’t care less who’s been murdered and why because all of them somehow deserved this fate and they simply wasn’t worth saving. We have Emma, a relative newbie to the group and hence desperate to prove that she deserves to be their friend, to fit in, Mark’s girlfriend, and who has organized the trip this time. Mark turns out to be a little on the aggressive side – not that he’s aggressive towards Emma but there is this dark side to him. Miranda is the most beautiful, the most attention seeking, the most popular among the group, though she’s also probably the most spoiled and unpleasant but together with Julian, the good looking and successful one they seem to make the perfect power couple. Samira and Giles are married and arrive with their 6 – months – old daughter Priya, though you can’t tell more about them, to be honest, except that they seem to not coping too well with being newly parents. Nick has been in a long – term relationship with Bo, who has a history of being a drug – addict. And the only single among them, the power London lawyer Katie, who’s hiding a secret and has been Miranda’s best friend since schooldays, but recently they don’t see each other too often. There is also the addiction of the other guest at the lodge, two Icelanders, and of course we have Heather, the manager, with her own dramas and traumas, and Doug, the gamekeeper, an ex – marine, suffering from PTSD. Interesting group, no? Well, not so. And between the partying, hunting, drinking and drugs it quickly becomes clear that perhaps they aren’t as close – knit as we were supposed to think, and more and more secrets and lies come to light. Until the day when one of the guest is found dead. Murdered.

I am very, very sad that this story didn’t deliver for me. The pace of the book was slowed down by the very detailed descriptions of the lodge, the place, the food and clothes which – of course very vivid and almost poetically written – didn’t add much to the main plot. Also, maybe because of the writing style, I found it a little disengaging and cold. Whilst I absolutely loved the setting and the brilliantly captured, chilling atmosphere it was still too little to save the book for me, to make me emotionally involved. This dual timeline was also brilliantly written by the author, she didn’t give too much and yet tried to whet my appetite to find out what has happened, and it would work if it weren’t for this group of those petty characters. However, “The Hunting Party” was brilliantly observant. The author explores the dynamics of friendship, digs deep into them, revealing what’s really hidden under the surface – all the murky, dark secrets and lies. Lucy Folley has an incredible talent to capture all the details and nuances and the chilling atmosphere full of uncertainty and insecurity. So if you’re into reading about dysfunctional group of characters, into some mystery and psychological games this is a book for you.

 

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

 

34109621Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 1st January 2019

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

Number of pages: 315

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.03.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…

The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

Rating: four-stars

 

Georgina is working in probably the worst Italian restaurant in Sheffield, has a narcissistic boyfriend, a patronising family that doesn’t understand her life choices, a housemate from hell, and then she’s not only unfairly sacked from her job but also finds her boyfriend in a very unambiguous situation with his PA. And this is when she’s thought things couldn’t get possibly any worse… But at last luck seems to be on her side when she gets an unexpected job offer at a newly refurbished pub, run by the brilliant Dev. However, then she meets Dev’s brother, and business partner, Lucas – her first ever love. She immediately recognizes him, but he doesn’t remember her. Or maybe he doesn’t WANT to remember her?

I think Georgina, as a main character, may trigger mixed feelings but I liked her. She was funny and sharp and relatable and her life was so full of problems: she loved being a waitress, even if she was working at the worst place possible so when she’s fired, in front of the full restaurant, she’s truly shocked. She feels comfortable with her boyfriend but then she discovers something and even though she’s so right about her decision he doesn’t want to let her go. Her flatmate seems to hate her, leaving her passive – aggressive notes and her step – father also seems to hate her, and for sure he doesn’t appreciate her, and so on, and so on. So really, to be honest, nothing comes easy to her. But I loved the fact that she never gave up, that she tried to process her dramas and, despite all of the troubles, she’s happy with her life. – even though she sometimes felt like a failure, sometimes didn’t know what to do with herself and her life. The continuous reminders of her being thirty and that perhaps it’s really time to slow down and do something useful (ie. get married and start to produce children) also didn’t help. But she was strong, she had great friends and she never gave up, and this is why I liked her so much. Of course, there is still some self – doubt but on the whole she was more or less happy with this what she had and she felt comfortable in her own skin.

The romance aspect was, in fact, the background story – it was Georgina’s tale, and I loved it that way, though, I must admit, Lucas was absolutely, totally delicious. Yes, let’s swoon a little about Lucas. Sigh. I simply adored him, even with him blowing hot and cold. The younger Lucas, the one that was Georgina’s boyfriend, came across as absolutely brilliant, responsible and honest teenager while the older one seemed much more moodier but there is a reason to this, oh yes, there is. But let’s put the moods aside, guys, he was simply perfect. And had a dog Keith – what more would you need, right?
Those were actually the characters that made the book so outstanding, I think. They were all so brilliantly developed and full of personality and even if they were absolutely unlikeable – yes, I’m looking at you, Geoffrey, you little toad – you had to appreciate how much work went into all of them, how realistic they all felt. They were strong, not too meh, complex and complicated, just like they should be.

The family dynamics in the story were so well captured! My heart broken at Georgina’s attempts to hide the truth from her mother and sister and, as it turned out, they wanted to do the same. Also, at the fact that she still couldn’t process her dad’s death, at the guilty feeling she was still having – she really had a heart in the right place. The descriptions of the dysfunctional family from Georgina’s childhood were so realistic and plausible, as well as the family from her present days – the meetings at her sister’s were hilarious, especially when we think about the grandmother Nana Hogg, and also full of hurt, pain and bad feelings.

Sure, there were also some things that felt undone or ended abruptly, or too conventionally, like with the short drama with the diary, I’d love a little more depth and development in the Georgina and Lucas’s relationship but they were only small bumps on the otherwise smooth journey but on the whole the book was written in a very easy to read, flowing style that I enjoyed very much. The plot was relatively simple but Mhairi McFarlane’s take on it simply brilliant. There were moments that it felt predictable, the will they/won’t they were there but it was written in such a refreshing, engaging way that it truly didn’t bother me. The events felt so natural, the pace was just spot on, the romance was well developed and I literally raced through this book. The humour there was just my kind of humour, I loved Georgina’s sharp tongue and her one – liners and the banter was witty and warm. It was a perfect mix of laugh, tears, heartbreak and hope. There was much more to this book that you could initially think. It’s about not allowing others to put you down, about raising above, about getting over your old demons. A hilarious novel with an unexpected depth to it, story about second chances, coming to terms with your past and growing to value yourself. There are some very strong messages in this book, wrapped up amongst the laughs so if you’re looking for a light, heart – warming story that will make you think as well, don’t hesitate and treat yourself to “Don’t You Forget About Me” – highly recommended!

A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling

A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling

 

 

40540663Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 29th November 2018

Series: Lonely Hearts Bookshop #4

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

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A heartwarming and hilarious Christmas romance!

Tis the season to be jolly!

But on Rochester Mews, two unlikely lovebirds are struggling to find their festive cheer.

Star baker Mattie has hated Christmas ever since she had her heart broken on Christmas Eve. The only thing she hates more is the insufferable Tom, who has rubbed her up the wrong way since she started running the tearoom next door to his bookshop. So when Mattie and Tom are left in charge in the frantic festive days before Christmas, it might be cold outside but things are sure to heat up.

Can a bookshop full of romantic novels, a life-sized reindeer and a mistletoe kissing booth persuade two scrooges to fall in love with Christmas… and each other?

Rating: five-stars

In “A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews” we’re back to Happy Ever After, the best romantic fiction bookshop in the world, and to the adjoining tearoom run by Mattie Smith, a very talented patisserie chef. She’s been running it for two years already, after coming back from Paris – heartbroken and disappointed and badly judged. This all happened around Christmas, so it’s not a wonder that she’s not the biggest fan of the festive season. Or men. Tom Greer still works in the bookshop, wearing cardigans with patches on the elbows, and the only thing that he has in common with Mattie is the fact that he also hates Christmas. Other than that, it seems that they rub each other only the wrong way. But after Nina moving out from the flat above the bookshop, Mattie and Tom become flatmates – how is it going to end?

There are so many things happening in the bookstore and at the tearoom! Posy is heavily pregnant and ready to cry at any given moment, Nina is back at the shop and is determined to bring the festive atmosphere there, and so with the reindeers in their original size, mistletoe photo booth it slowly starts to look like “Christmas vomited over it”, which for Tom and Mattie, both total anti – Christmas, is at least one common ground to complain.

This time the story focuses strongly on Tom, the enigmatic and enigma – like member of Happy Ever After team who hates romance, and Mattie, who always wears black, runs the tearooms by the bookshop and hates all man. Again, those two, as well as the rest of the gang, and they’re all mentioned in the book, hallelujah, they were just my kind of characters – believable in the way they were, with their ups and down, secrets and troubles, with days that were sometimes better and sometimes worse and their banter, and you know, it is often that you want to bang the characters heads together for them to see the light eventually – and I didn’t want to bang their heads together! They were simply brilliant as they were. Although, I must admit, there was a moment that I felt so sorry for Mattie, when she was blanked out by the others after revealing Tom’s secrets, and I mean, they all – Posy, Verity and Nina, all wanted to know them, right, and then Tom also blanking her out and it was just soooo unfair.
I love how all the characters have their own stories to tell. Mattie’s heart was badly broken in the past and the return of her ex – boyfriend Steven doesn’t bode well. Tom, the very modern feminist, was so full of surprises and well, he always meant really well, even though it might not have looked like this at the first sight. The way those two were starting to find each other in this very complicated and uncomfortable arrangement of living in the same flat above the bookshop was absolutely sweet, hilarious and uplifting. Annie Darling, just like Debbie Johnson, can so brilliantly write about feelings and emotions, they’re so beautifully captured and they simply sound genuine and honest.

I’ve finished reading this book grinning from ear to ear, there was so much joy and optimism here, it really made me feel better and lighter. It was a delight to read and it was almost as good as the first book in the series, “.The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts” though, to be honest again, it is probably one of the most gorgeous novels in the world and of all time. I really could read more about the Lonely Hearts Bookshop, it’s one of my absolutely favourite series, and I so hope to see more from the characters in the future, though guys, to be totally honest, the last sentence in this book looks like the very final one, sniff.

Altogether, this book was a perfect read – I loved every single moment of it. It was full of fantastic characters that are down – to – earth and brilliantly funny and comic moments, but it also touched upon some heavier issues. There was the Christmas spirit, bookshop full of romance books and mouth – watering festive baking – I don’t need anything more! Highly recommended!

 

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.