My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.
For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever.
I read a lot of books, and most of them are good but the ‘Comfort Food Cafe series’, has a magic sparkle that makes it’s stories marvellously memorable, even when you read as much as I do.
It has a broad appeal; there’s romance, lots of laughs and heartwarming poignant moments. The whole age spectrum is covered, including various charismatic animal friends. Most readers will see a little of their own lives written into the pages of these realistic, yet wonderfully escapist stories, which means they are relevant, contemporary and worth reading.
‘Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe’, the fourth book in the series is Willow’s story. Willow is unique, definitely new age and the primary carer for her mother Lynnie who has dementia. The friends at the cafe support her in practical ways, which make her life easier and give her much-needed respite but she has put romance and having a family of her own out of her mind, her mother’s well being her only focus.
Willow’s meeting with Tom, echoes a vibrant childhood memory, he is intelligent, successful but a loner and quite probably Willow’s soulmate in another life. Exploring Willow’s life, the author illuminates some of the problems of living with Dementia and how it affects not only the sufferer but their carers. Willow is vibrant, eccentric and loyal and in a village full of lovely characters, she is my favourite. Her quirky sense of humour and positive outlook on life is refreshing. Willow is not a victim, she loves her mother and wants to care for her, but she deserves to have some lighter moments in such a dedicated life.
There are lots of humorous moments in this poignant story, learning to dance the ‘Strictly’ way is one of them, hilarious and the ‘ Mr Darcy scene in the pond is another.If you love animals, there is another delightful animal charmer to meet too.
It reads well as a standalone story; courtesy of Willow you get a handy ‘Game of Thrones’ style crib sheet introducing all the characters but if you get the chance read all the books because you’re in for a treat.
Perfect to read at any time, it’s as addictive as cake and coffee and just as yummy.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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…
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.
This weeks Author Blog Challenge is ‘The Best Holiday I Ever Had’. I’ve been thinking about this and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one holiday. So I’ve decided to highlight my favourite holidays and why, from childhood to my first holiday as a gran.
Holidays weren’t a big feature of my childhood but one that stands out is a holiday in Cornwall in the late sixties, when we stayed in St Agnes Bay and Penzance. I remember making a friend at the holiday camp we stayed at and eating butterscotch, we had a photo at Lands End and my parents bought me the cute cat ornament, which I still have today. Other holidays were in Bournemouth and there were always day trips to Mablethorpe on the east coast of England.
Camping holidays with youth club are the standout memories from my teenage holidays. Camping is not really me, the ground is too hard and I always get cold and dislike sharing my tent with a variety of insects. Nevertheless I always enjoyed these trips, especially the one where I got to know my future husband, we celebrate thirty three years of marriage today, so that was definitely a holiday worth going on.
My honeymoon should be my standout holiday of my twenties and it was lovely. Cornwall again, we went to Newquay, sun sea and lots of lovely memories. I visited a vintage kitchen shop in Penzance and bought some glass storage jars with cork lids and I still have them thirty three years later obviously a good buy!
I was first introduced to The English Lake District in my mid twenties and the scenery and beautiful lakes are still a favourite holiday destination of mine. So much so there are the inspiration for my first book The Dragon Legacy.
Brighton was the destination of my last twenties holiday with my lovely daughter 8 months old – Such a lovely time .
Holidays with my children
These were certainly fun. Bournemouth and Devon were favourite destinations. We even stayed in the prestigious Sandbanks. Woolacombe was another favourite, great for kids and dogs.
We also had a few holidays in Europe during this time. A camping trip to France’s Verdun region , turned out to be short-lived , after only four days we had to home as my mother was seriously ill. Holidays in The Costa Dorada in Spain and Lake Garde in Italy were more successful, although we did manage to get lost both times driving from the airport, not the best start to a holiday but the rest of it was full of great memories, as you can see from the photos. My trip to Lake Garde inspired the setting for my second book ‘The Revenge Masquerade’.
Regular blog readers will know I love Northumberland, I first visited in 2014 and went again this year with my new grandson Arthur. The weather wasn’t fantastic but we still had a good time.
I’m hoping my next holiday in Woolacombe in September will be full of good memories too. I’m really looking forward to holidaying with my kids and little grandson and Jazz and Oby of course. We’re staying close to the wonderful child and dog friendly beach so look out for more blogs on this in September.
So that’s a whistle stop tour of my holiday memories. Share your holiday memories with me in the comments below or on #LifeBooksWriting
When Gemma discovers a pair of ancient duelling pistols encrusted with rubies in the basement of the local museum, she is immediately intrigued…
On a fateful night in 1838 two sisters were found shot in the cellars of Red Hill Hall. And when Gemma begins to delve deeper into their history she begins to realise that the secrets of that night are darker than anyone had ever imagined.
As the shocking events of the past begin to unravel, Gemma’s own life starts to fall apart. Loyalties are tested and suddenly it seems as if history is repeating itself, as Gemma learns that female friendships can be deadly…
I enjoyed reading ‘The Pearl Locket’ and ‘The Emerald Comb’ and like those books, this story has both a historical and contemporary setting, which intertwine in an interesting way. The historical story of Rebecca and Sarah, ‘The Daughters of Red Hill Hall’ is full of mystery, menace and is often poignant. The contemporary tale of Gemma and Nat curiously reflects the past, whilst revealing the secrets of ‘The Daughters of Red Hill Hall’. The prologue of the story sets the scene for what is for the most part a tragedy but thankfully the ending of the historical tale is hopeful. There isn’t a fairytale happy ever after but definitely a realistic ‘let’s make the best of what we have.’ Weak male characters categorise both stories. I enjoyed the mystery and menace of the historical story, unfortunately not present in the contemporary tale. Overall it was an engaging read. I received a copy of this book from Carina UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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.
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.
‘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.
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…
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.