Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson- 5* Review

 

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Blurb 2016- 2

Becca Fletcher hates Christmas so much, she’s considering getting ‘Bah Humbug!’ tattooed on her forehead. She has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch; Reasons that make this the very worst time of year for her.

Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura, and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

But little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill on a windswept bay, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

Buy Links 2016 -2

Amazon UK
Amazon

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

I really enjoyed ‘Summer at the Comfort Food Café’ and as I’m a fan of festive books, I couldn’t wait to revisit the café at Christmas time. ‘Christmas at the Comfort Food Café’ is every bit as charming as the Summer but with snow. It is told in three parts: ‘Christmas Past, Present and Future’. It reads well as a standalone Christmas tale but if you haven’t read ’Summer at the Comfort Food Café’, don’t miss out.
This story reintroduces the reader to the delightful characters from the first book but concentrates on Laura’s sister Becca, who reluctantly visits Dorset for a month. Becca feels she is the antithesis of Laura. She is a loner, drawn to life’s vices, drink, drugs and one night stands. As Becca relives two life changing family Christmas days, we realise this is never going to be her favourite season.
Becca is soon charmed by Dorset and the regulars of the Comfort Food Café. The characters in this story are realistic and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the forthcoming festive wedding. Becca has left her teenage vices behind but we don’t know why. Even when her sister tries to fix her up with Surfer Sam she resists. Men are off the menu but he is drop dead gorgeous and she’s only human. Becca’s choice of confidant is not who you’d expect but when she reveals her secrets, her teenage bad behaviour reflects more as a cry for help than anything else. Becca’s emotional baggage threatens what she has with Sam but despite this, she leaves Dorset a changed woman.
Christmas Future offer hope and the chance of a happy ever after, the perfect start to any new year.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson

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Posted in #Sale, Book Review, Book Spotlight, Excerpt

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson – Extract

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe

Definitely one of my favourite books this summer from the lovely Debbie Johnson,  I’m sharing my review again, now that the paperback has been released.

Blog Image- My review

Even at the story’s poignant beginning, the humour shines through, in the words of the enigmatic Laura, the heroine of this unusual story. I loved that we gathered all the necessary back story information, in letter form, as she answered a unique advertisement for a strange but intriguing, lifestyle job.

Laura is honest, loyal and has a lovely self -depreciating humour that is recognisable to most women, who have families, where they are the unappreciated lynchpin. The journey to their new adventure shares similarities, with most people’s long car journeys, with children and animals. The realistic dialogue and bordering on chaos scenarios made me giggle and reminiscence.

 Despite Laura’s fragile emotional state, a delightful sense of humour runs through this story. From the first meeting with the ‘Tall bloke.’ the visuals are great, so easy to imagine, especially ‘the flying undies as the top box is unpacked’.

The VIPS that make up the cafe regulars, all have a story to share as they reveal idiosyncrasies and secrets. Laura starts to heal as she listens to the cafe’s regulars stories and Matt (the tall bloke), help’s her discover the side of herself she never really knew existed.

This is a story of healing, family and being brave enough to dip your toe back in the pond again, after life’s unpredictable knocks. I would love to find this Cafe that restores your faith in human nature.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins in return for an honest review.

EXCERPT

‘I am feeling suddenly very tired and very sad. The absurdity of my situation flashes across my mind: I have uprooted my children, myself and my very elderly dog on some kind of wild-goose chase, pursuing God knows what. Happiness? Progress? A break from the underlying misery that seems to have been wrapped around my heart every day since David died?

Well, whatever it is, I’m not pursuing it fast enough – all I’m finding is exhaustion, grumpy kids, senile dogs and a caffeine overload. That and chronic embarrassment as I apologise to a mostly naked man, in the dark, in a place I’ve never even visited before – a place I’ve unilaterally decided to make our home for the summer.

I clench my eyes together very, very tightly, squeezing back any watery signs of self pity that might be tempted to overflow, and force myself to look at the man instead of the dog.

I can only see bits of his face reflected in the silvery lighting, but he looks about my age. Maybe a little older, I’m not sure. His hair is definitely a bit too long, and will probably dry a lighter shade of brown once it’s not soggy. His eyes seem to be hazel or brown or green, I can’t really tell, and he’s not smiling.

He was smiling when he was playing with Jimbo. But now he’s not. Now he’s looking at me. I guess I just have that effect on tall, handsome strangers.

’Are you all right?’ he asks, gruffly, frowning at me with such style and finesse that I instinctively know he frowns at least as much as he smiles. I suspect he’s one of those people who vastly prefers animals to people, and communicates much better with dogs than humans.

’Oh, yes, thank you… just tired. We’ve been driving all day and now we’ve got to find our cottage and unload the roofbox, and I don’t know how I’m going to do that because I didn’t bring the foot stool and I’m too short, and the kids need some dinner and I need some coffee… well, probably wine, to be honest, and…’

I catch a glimpse of his expression as I ramble incoherently, and note that he looks slightly frightened. I realise I sound like a crazy person and as I have the kind of hair that expands in heat and I’ve been stuck in a hot car all day, I undoubtedly look like one too.

’And yes, I’m fine, thank you,’ I say, firmly. ’Do you happen to know where the Hyacinth House is? I have the keys.’

’I can help you,’ he says, looking away from my eyes and gazing off into the distance. He sounds a little bit grumpy, a touch reluctant – as though he knows he should help, but doesn’t really want to engage.

’No, I’m all right…’ I insist, wondering how I’m going to get Jimbo off his feet without appearing rude.

’Let me help. I don’t have any wine, but I can help with the other thing.’

’What?’ I ask, staring up at him in confusion. ’You can help me stop being too short?’

Quick as a flash, a grin breaks out on his face and he lets out a laugh. It doesn’t last long and he seems to clamp down on it as soon as he can, like he’s not used to hearing the sound in public.

’Sorry, no. I’m a vet, not a miracle worker. But I can unpack the roofbox for you. I’ll get dressed and come round. Hyacinth is just back there – next to the swimming pool. This is the nearest you can get the car, but I’ll help you unload. I assume you’re Laura?’

I feel a jolt of surprise that he knows who I am and also a jolt of a stubborn desire to continue insisting that I don’t need any help at all. I settle for just nodding and giving him a half-hearted smile as he extricates his bare feet from underneath the snoring dog’s tummy.

’Thought so. In that case, if I know Cherie, she’ll have left wine in the cottage – so all your problems will be solved.’

Ha, I think, watching him disappear off up the path and noticing Lizzie still tapping away on her phone, face scrunched up in that very deliberate expression of vexed boredom that teenagers specialise in.

If only.’

Want to read more? Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson is just 99p on Amazon!

 

Posted in Author Blog Challenge, Friday Read

My Top 5 Books and Why? Author Blog Challenge: #LifeBooksWriting

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So like many writers, I am an avid reader too. I would never have become a writer, if I hadn’t read books, I’d like to have written and these are a few of them.

 The Donovan Legacy – Nora Roberts

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I loved these romantic paranormal stories about  a supernatural  family. If you enjoyed the 1990’s witchy  TV series Charmed you’ll love these stories too. The romance is easy, the characters believable and the magic is the perfect escapism.

I wanted to write stories with the same mix of paranormal romance and fantasy . I decided to write  a paranormal romance after reading this series but it was over ten years later, when I wrote my first paranormal romance; The Dragon Legacy series.
 

Ashes to Ashes –   Tami Hoag

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 I also  love reading mysteries and thrillers, especially those that get inside the mind of the antagonist. Tami Hoag, does this perfectly, especially in my favourite story of hers.

The female lead in this story is perfectly flawed but so easy to empathise with. The  villain is pure evil  and the suspense to die for.  I read this in the late nineties but its still one of my favourite suspense thrillers.

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In my current release, The  Dangerous Gift, I tried to create the same suspenseful ethos with elements of romance and mystery intertwined. 

The Cat Who… Lilian Jackson Braun

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My mum loved, what is now termed cosy mysteries and she introduced me to Lilian Jackson Braun and ‘The Cat Who….’ mysteries. These feature a quirky private detective and his two Siamese cats, who are really the stars of the book; Koko  and Yum Yum. The stories are simple but full of interesting characters and they remind me of happy times with my mum.

Tangled Reins and Four in Hand – Stephanie Laurens

I have always loved reading Regency Romance  and  Stephanie Laurens’, ‘Four in Hand’ and ‘Tangled Reins’ are two of my all  time favourites Arrogant, sexy heroes. Feisty , intelligent yet vulnerable heroines and a glamorous settings make them great to read.

 Past Shadows Cover 2My love of Regency romance,mystery, suspense and the paranormal, inspired me to write my latest story ‘Past Shadows’ . which I  hope to release later this year. Excerpts are on Wattpad under my user name  JaneHunt5.

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe  Debbie Johnson

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As a book reviewer, I am lucky enough to read stories from many different authors. One of my  favourites because her stories never fail to make me laugh out loud is Debbie Johnson. Her latest book ‘ Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’ is her most memorable tale to date, full  of fun, poignancy and some many delightfully, real characters. Definitely a must read this summer.

 So that’s my top five books, what are yours and why? Comment  below or on Twitter using the hashtag #LifeBooksWriting.

 

Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Release Day Spotlight, Summer Impulse

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson – 5* Review

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Summer at the Comfort Food Café
By Debbie Johnson

eBook: 29th April 2016 | PB: 16th June 2016

BLURB

The Comfort Food Café 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.

For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.

But following the death of her beloved husband David two years earlier, Laura knows that it’s time to move on. To find a way to live without him, instead of just surviving. To find her new place in the world, and to fill the gap that he’s left in all their lives.

Her new job at the café, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.

For her, the Comfort Food Café doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

SATCFC-Out-Now-1

Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Review - Coastal

Even at the story’s poignant beginning, the humour shines through, in the words of the enigmatic Laura, the heroine of this unusual story. I loved that we gathered all the necessary back story information, in letter form, as she answered a unique advertisement for a strange but intriguing, lifestyle job.
Laura is honest, loyal and has a lovely self -depreciating humour that is recognisable to most women, who have families, where they are the unappreciated lynchpin. The journey to their new adventure shares similarities, with most people’s long car journeys, with children and animals. The realistic dialogue and bordering on chaos scenarios made me giggle and reminiscence.
Despite Laura’s fragile emotional state, a delightful sense of humour runs through this story. From the first meeting with the ‘Tall bloke.’ the visuals are great, so easy to imagine, especially ‘the flying undies as the top box is unpacked’.
The VIPS that make up the cafe regulars, all have a story to share as they reveal idiosyncrasies and secrets. Laura starts to heal as she listens to the cafe’s regulars stories and Matt (the tall bloke), help’s her discover the side of herself she never really knew existed.
This is a story of healing, family and being brave enough to dip your toe back in the pond again, after life’s unpredictable knocks. I would love to find this Cafe that restores your faith in human nature.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: The Birthday That Changed Everything -Debbie Johnson

108554-FC50Blurb - Coastal

She wanted a birthday surprise, just not the one she got…

The last thing Sally Summers expected from her husband on her special day was that he’d leave her for a Latvian lap dancer half her age. So with her world in tatters, Sally jets off to Turkey for some sun, sea and sanctuary.

The Blue Bay resort brings new friends and the perfect balm for Sally’s broken heart in gorgeous Dubliner James. He’s just the birthday present she needs. And when the chemistry between them continues to spark as the holiday ends, Sally wonders if this is more than just a summer fling.

But James has scars of his own and Sally isn’t quite ready to turn her back on her marriage. This birthday might have changed everything, but what will the next one bring?

Buy Links  - Coastal

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Review - Coastal

The Birthday That Changed Everything

 

This story is the perfect marriage of humour, poignancy and romance.
Sally’s marital relationship comes apart at the seams spectacularly just before she hits the big 40. Sally is grounded, selfless almost to the point of doormat status. Her wicked self depreciating sense of humour makes you giggle, even though you are reaching for the tissues, to wipe away your tears, as the hopelessness of her situations dawns on Sally. I loved her from our first encounter.
Simon her freewheeling husband is her antithesis and so easy to hate. True he is a caricature of a man in mid life crisis but there is enough realism in this character to make him recognisable and so easy to dislike.
The holiday crowd are interesting characters and provide a sympathetic foil for Sally’s phoenix like rise from the ashes of her marriage. Finally James is full of charm but his perfect body hides deep emotional scars, which threaten Sally’s future happiness. This is a rocky road and just when you think she has made it, life intervenes in a most unhelpful way. This story is easy to read and fast paced, I read it in a day but it’s perfect for a leisurely read too.
A new and refreshing romance for all fans of romantic comedy whatever their age.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Birthday That Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper – Debbie Johnson

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper
Winter Blurb
For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it. But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner. Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.

Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper…?

Winter Buy Links
Amazon UK
Amazon
Winter My Review

Never Kiss A Man In A Christmas Jumper‘Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper’ is delightful romantic comedy, tinged with sadness. Oxford at Christmas is an atmospheric setting but it is the characters’ realistic dialogue and interactions that make laughter and tears inevitable, when reading this book.
Maggie is a brave woman, who puts the needs of her daughter before her own. In her mid thirties she thinks of herself as middle aged. Sexy Marco is determined to uncover all Maggie’s secrets, which makes for a page turning read.
Maggie and Ellen’s, mother-daughter dynamic is realistic and amusing. Maggie first encounter with the man in a Christmas Jumper in the park captures this perfectly.
If you are looking for a fun, poignant, romantic Christmas story, this is perfect.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Never Kiss A Man In A Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Never Kiss A Man In A Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson

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Posted in Author Interview

Author Interview: Debbie Johnson

As ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’,climbs up the Amazon UK rankings, I’m thrilled to have it’s author Debbie Johnson on my blog.
Pippa's Cornish Dream
Poppy - BlurbSince Pippa Harte was forced to take over her parent’s farm, she’s barely had time to shave her legs let alone make time for love. Now she’s more likely to be getting down and dirty mucking out the pigs – and avoiding those of the human male variety.

When Ben Retallick walks out of her childhood and back into her present it seems that perhaps Pippa has more time than she thought. All Poldark smoulders and easy-going charm, Ben’s definitely worth whipping her wellies off for!

But Ben is a man with his own past and his own issues – and as much as she’s enjoying having him around, she’s got to get a grip. After all life isn’t always a beach … even if you are in Cornwall.

Flowers - Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

 Author Interview 5220543It’s lovely to have you here Debbie, your books always make me smile. Do you see the funny side in real life situations too? Does this give you ideas for stories or are they pure imagination?

First of all, thank you – I always like to make people smile! I try to always see the funny side – I have a house full of kids and dogs, which does help! Life is often a serious and challenging affair, and a sense of humour is essential – my books are all about escapism. Some of the ‘funnies’ in Pippa’s Cornish Dream were inspired by my own children, and my crime thriller Fear No Evil draws a lot on the Scouse wit I am surrounded by!

Cold Feet at Christmas’ was a bestseller. Was it difficult writing a book to follow this, or had you already written your latest release, ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’?

I had already written Pippa’s Cornish Dream – and now wait nervously to see if she does anywhere near as well as her older sibling! The difficult one is the book I’m writing now – a Christmas follow-up to Cold Feet. Writing to someone else’s deadline is always much harder, and a lot less fun!

How long have you been writing?

All my life. I was one of those geeky kids who was always inspired by a new notebook. I worked in journalism for many years, which is a very different style of writing, but does give you a certain discipline, as well as useful life experience. I started writing fiction seriously in 2010.

What inspired you to set Pippa’s Cornish Dream’ in Cornwall?

I’d been there on holiday, and was just blown away by it – quite literally on some days, as the weather was a little unpredictable! There is just something very special about the whole area. Then, this year, Poldark arrived on our TV screens and completely backed up my decision – it’s an amazing place.

 It certainly is, I spent my honeymoon there many years ago and many happy holidays since. 🙂

What’s the inspiration behind the farm setting in Pippa’s Cornish Dream?

We stayed on a farm in Cornwall, and my kids loved being out every morning, feeding the chickens and the pig, and it was all a very different experience from our usual urban life in Liverpool – it just struck me as a wonderful setting for a romance; very earthy and beautiful, but also hard work.

What other books have you written?

Cold Feet at Christmas for HarperImpulse of course, but also two urban fantasy books called Dark Vision and Dark Touch, which came out in paperback on an imprint of Penguin Random House. I loved those – it was all that weird True Blood style stuff (vampires and witches and Goddesses and prophecies) but set against the very real backdrop of modern-day Liverpool. Fear No Evil is a crime thriller with a supernatural element, based around one of my all-time favourite creations, a PI called Jayne McCartney – the sort of woman you’d like to go to the pub with! That was with Maze, Avon’s digital branch. I have a new HI out for Christmas, and then next year – this is scary and exciting – my first print book for HarperCollins. It’s another romantic comedy, but very different than my earlier ones – it’s about a woman who hits 40 and finds her whole life in tatters, and how she rebuilds it. It was actually the first full book I ever wrote so I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing it on the bookshelves at last!

That’s great, lots more for me to read.

What’s your favourite genre of book, to read? Why do you like this type of book?

I don’t have one particular genre – I read crime, fantasy, horror, women’s fiction. But it absolutely 100% has to have strong female characters and a few laugh out loud moments. Some of my favourite authors are Janet Evanovich, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, John Connolly, Robert Crais, Karin Slaughter and JD Robb/Nora Roberts. I get pretty excited when any of their books come out!

What’s your writing space like?

Very, very unglamourous! There is no literary salon, or shabby chic writing den – the other day in fact I was laughing about this, as I was trying to write while sitting on my sofa. My teenaged son had his mates around, and my younger two were watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. We had three dogs in the house – our own Golden Retriever and Black Lab, and a Springer Spaniel we were looking after. The noise levels were through the roof, the whole place was complete chaos, and I’m sitting there tapping away on my laptop trying to create some magic! But that’s my life, and I’m perfectly happy with it.

 Sounds like mine. 🙂

What’s next for you, Debbie?

More writing. More chaos. More school runs. More nervously checking Amazon – more of everything, in fact! Apart from house work. That’s to be avoided at all costs.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us Debbie. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your books.

To read my 5* reviews of ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’ and ‘Cold Feet at Christmas’ Click on the book covers below:Pippa's Cornish Dream
23245641Poppy - LinksWebsite

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