Title: A Gift from the Comfort Food Café

Author: Debbie Johnson

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harper Impulse

The Blurb

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.

The Review

I love the frequent visits to Budbury. This time it is through the eyes of Katie. Katie has been somewhat of a mystery in the Comfort Food Café series. A bit reclusive, keeping herself and her young son out of arms length but now we get to see why.

As we watch Katie unfold and start to appreciate the closeness of the regulars of the café we get to understand exactly what made her this way to begin with. You constantly shout at her to keep those arms open and accept everyone’s metaphorical hugs because you get the sense that one bad move and Katie will be out of Budbury asap.

I genuinely love the Comfort Food Café series. I eagerly anticipate each new release and I am not ashamed to admit that I pre-order them and count down the days until each new story will be with me. If that is not a big enough reason to buy and read and love each of these books then I really don’t know what is.

A Gift from the Comfort Food Café by Debbie Johnson is available now.

For more information regarding Debbie Johnson (@debbiemjohnson) please visit www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com.

For more information regarding Harper Impulse (@HarperImpulse) please visit www.harperimpulse.com.

Title: Look at Me

Author: Sarah Deguid

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Headline/Tinder Press

The Blurb

Lizzy’s mother died two years ago, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.

The Review

Ok, so this is a confusing one for me. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of Look at Me but it is undeniable that the writing was good. I say this because Sarah Deguid genuinely managed to creep me out. Her story telling was exceptional in the sense that the character driven tale was really engaging and you felt Lizzy’s discomfort so fervently that it could quite easily be your own discomfort. So whilst I say I didn’t like the book it was not because it wasn’t good but I was so uncomfortable that it made me not like it which in my view is the sign of good writing.

Sorry Sarah Deguid, I didn’t like your book but in the most positive way.

Look at Me by Sarah Deguid is available now.

For more information regarding Tinder Press (@TinderPress) please visit www.tinderpress.co.uk.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Title: Get Back

Author: Donovan Day

Pages: 270 Pages

Publisher: Park Slope Publishing

The Blurb

Imagine going back in time and befriending The Beatles at the height of their fame. Imagine seeing “the boys” interact onstage and off, hanging out with them in the dance clubs of London, visiting John & Paul at Paul’s house across from Abbey Road Studios.

Imagine all the questions they’d ask when they learn you’re from the future – questions about how music is recorded, whether their music will last, if anyone will people remember The Beatles. And then John Lennon asks the biggest question of them all – “What will become of me?”

That last question sets 17-year-old Lenny Funk off on the adventure of his young life with a goal that seems impossible – to stop John Lennon’s assassin, Mark David Chapman!

Lenny Funk (given name: Lennon) is able to time travel thanks in part to his grandfather’s old iPod Nano which is loaded with classic music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Together with new friend Yoko (yes, she’s named after that Yoko), Lenny “time slips” backwards to a world he thought he’d missed where he meets some of his musical heroes, including the Beatles, Jim Morrison and James Taylor, among others.

Lenny must make some difficult and heart-breaking decisions. Should he change the course of history or not? And what are the consequences if he does? Would John reunite with Paul? Would he remain married to Yoko and, if not, who would be his next wife?

The year 2015 marks what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday and also the 35th year since his murder.

The Review

I love The Beatles. As a Liverpudlian – born and bred – I find books that are about the fab four to be really entertaining and I guess I find it titillating when my hometown is referenced. Alongside those reasons, I also thought the concept of Get Back by Donovan Day sounded interesting.

If you could go back in time and save someone, would you?

It is a question that people get asked but usually it is Hitler put as the subject of the question. Would you kill Hitler if you had the chance? Get Back is less dark that that, it is asking if you had the chance to save John Lennon, would you?

Most people would say, yeah sure, why not. It makes sense to do a good deed but like all classic time travel stories, by altering the present you create a ripple in the time space continuum that will impact on the real present day.

It is delicious time travel headache inducing science.

Either way, Get Back is a great story. I loved going back in time and seeing musicians that I know and love and sing along to and getting to imagine what they would be like on a more personal level was great.

What I loved most about Get Back is that Day did not make a cliché out of the fab four. The colloquial vernacular was great. As a scouser, I hate it when writers overwrite the way we speak. Day got the balance right.

Get Back by Donovan Day is available now.

For more information regarding Park Slope Publishing (@parkslopepub) please visit www.parkslopepublishing.com/books/

Title: My Friends Are All Strange

Author: Margaret Lesh

Pages: 230 Pages

Publisher: Margaret Lesh

The Blurb

My friends are all strange.

Right now I’m living at Brookside, a place for people like me. I’ve met a kitty girl, a brooding beautiful boy, one who can’t be touched, and others. My new friends. Strange people. People like me.
I’ve always been different, but lately, more so. My hands sometimes don’t seem to be attached to the rest of me. I cut up all of my clothes. I’m hot, so hot, all of the time. If I sleep, a wizard haunts every dream. I don’t sleep. Sometimes I want to run, but where do you run to when you’re trying to escape your own mind? I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same. I’m smart. I’m nice, sometimes. I just want to be normal(ish). But, right now, my friends are all strange… Like me.

Dark, funny, snarky, seventeen-year-old Becca struggles to cope with mental illness in MY FRIENDS ARE ALL STRANGE, the gripping contemporary young adult companion novel to NORMALISH.

The Review

There has been a growing trend over the past few years to write stories that have mental health at the heart of it. This is a great thing. Without examples of how people are struggling, how are people to learn when to be compassionate. Sure, people should be raised to show compassion but as someone who works with adolescents I can assure you that it isn’t always the case. Therefore, YA fiction that tackles the issues of mental health awareness really is making a difference.

My Friends Are All Strange tells the story of Becca who has always teetered on the edge with her mental health but since the loss of her father her actions have grown more and more manic until she is institutionalised to try and help her come to terms with her condition and also learn to control it. At her mental health facility she meets a plethora of people who have a variety of conditions and we watch Becca and her friends dealing with the hand life dealt them.

Lesh run the risk of having the setting as a mental health facility of creating a competitive nature of look my mental illness is worse than yours. Equally, it could have gone the opposite way of becoming a bit saccharine – I saw all these other people with mental illness and I realised my life isn’t so bad. Fortunately, Lesh did not do this. She handled the topic with dignity and the message that I got from it was that mental health problems can happen to anyone. It doesn’t discriminate.

My Friends Are all Strange is a powerful book and every library needs a copy.

My Friends Are All Strange by Margaret Lesh is available now.

For more information regarding Margaret Lesh (@MargaretLesh) please visit www.margaretlesh.com.

Title: Always Second Best

Author: Elodie Nowodazkij

Pages: 216 Pages

Publisher: Victory Editing

The Blurb

Sometimes being first isn’t what you expected.

Seventeen-year-old ballerina Emilia Moretti is tired of always being second best. And she’s going to prove the world she deserves to be first. In her upcoming School of the Performing Arts showcase. In the eyes of her birth parents. And in the heart of the guy she loves. She spends hours rehearsing, hours dreaming about becoming number one, hours imagining how her entire life is about to change. But when nothing goes the way she planned, she’ll need to realize what it really means to be first.

Eighteen-year-old Nick Grawski doesn’t want to follow Daddy Dearest’s rules any longer. He’s going to prove he’s meant to be a dancer—not a lawyer—and he is not going to stay away from Em just because his father demands it. He needs to show Em that—this time around—he’s there to stay and that he won’t break her heart again. Even when her world goes down to shit, even when he finds out his dad may have been trying to protect him all along, even if being there for one another is harder than falling in love.

ALWAYS SECOND BEST is a novel of hope and heartbreak and broken dreams. It’s a novel about falling in love and discovering that being first isn’t always what matters.

The Review

Ooh I do love a good romance and in Elodie Nowodazkij’s novel Always Second Best we get a damn good romance. It is the will they/won’t they tale of Emelia and Nick and how they have decided to not be together but nothing seems to be able to keep them apart. Not their potential futures, not other partners and certainly not their families.

Always Second Best is only a short novel but it is packed full of drama. I couldn’t put it down as with the turning of each page I became more and more desperate to know what would happen with this young couple.

Always Second Best by Elodie Nowodazkij is available now.

For more information regarding Elodie Nowodazkij (@ENowodazkij) please visit www.elodienowodazkij.com.

For more information regarding Victory Editing (@VictoryEditing) please visit www.victoryediting.com.