Way to spend the ‘Festive’ Season

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe Book Cover Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe
Comfort Food Cafe
Debbie Johnson
Christmas stories
October 20, 2016

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas, but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can't avoid her version of ho-ho-hell because she's traveling to the Comfort Food Café to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She's expecting mulled win, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture. Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Café is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it's a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, and where new love can blossom. It's where Becca's Christmas miracle really could happen--if only she can let it ..."--

This is the 3rd  book in the Comfort Cafe series that I have read and still found it enjoyable in its genre.

Becca, the Xmas Grinch, just has to change her attitude when she comes to stay with her sister at Xmas. Especially when she finds out just how irresistible Surfer Sam the Coastguard and Shore Ranger really is..

So the cafe and its inhabitants of the mythical Budbury cast a spell again and change a life for the better and we all feel hugged again in Cherie’s vast bosom and happily drinking Laura’s Hot Chocolate….

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Sometimes you are not your best self

Not Perfect Book Cover Not Perfect
Elizabeth LaBan
Womens' Literature, Romance , Women's Fiction, Humour
Lake Union Publishing
(1 Feb. 2018)

From Elizabeth LaBan, the acclaimed author of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, comes a captivating and very funny novel about a wife and mother’s fall from grace, and why keeping up appearances is not her biggest secret.

Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”

Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.

Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.

An interesting novel but not really up to the humour I expected.

I also got rather irritated by Tabitha who a: did not pawn her husband’s cuff-links but used them as tips – if they had value why not use them? And b: for someone who was supposed to know how to cook she really didn’t try.

Does no-one in NY go to a market – not a foodie market but a real market – at the end of the day, when all the fruit and vegetables etc are being sold cheap? I used to go and get crates of tomatoes and peppers etc which made wonderful soup. Add some lentils (dirt cheap) and you have a filling and healthy meal! And it seemed to me, that if she was going to steal, then get something useful – like packets of beans to soak and cook for a protein rich meal…  with peanut butter all the better!

That said.
I did have some sympathy for Tabitha being abandoned like that with no warning and no idea of where the money was going to come from – but again, why didn’t she go back to the carer agency after spending the afternoon with the client and ask for money from them for the work she had done, and start working properly – even take on the receptionist job?

Oh well. Tabitha was a pampered wife with no sense of the real world and how to live in it clearly…

An Amazon Prime Free Book

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The babies that we never meet

The Idea of You Book Cover The Idea of You
Amanda Prowse
Womens' Literature, Women's Fiction, contemporary fiction
Lake Union Publishing
(21 Mar. 2017)

What if the one thing you want is the only thing you can’t have?

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

We don’t cry enough for the babies we lose (in early pregnancy). I certainly didn’t.

For over 20 years I ignored them and then I went into a church and saw the lists of babies that had died in early childhood and it reminded me of the babies we had lost. And I cried. I felt so sad about those children who had not joined our family.

And this book reminded me of those losses and I cried again not just for me, but for the central characters too. I empathised too much perhaps?

This is a book that starts as a second chance romance and slowly becomes a story about the children we desire through our procreation imperative  which when not fulfilled drives so many into despair and depression.

And yet there is a happy ending that is not the case for all. The author’s own experience gives this story that extra edge that rings of truth telling.

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Why enter retail?

The Shop on Main Book Cover The Shop on Main
Comfort Crossing #1
Kay Correll
Rose Quartz Press
(14 July 2014)

Sometimes, doing the right thing backfires... Bella Amaud is desperate when she learns her business and the home she lives in with her two boys is about to be whiskedout from under her. As shescrambles to maintain her fragile financial security andindependence, she fears she may lose more than just The Shop on Main and her home. Nothing is working out like Bella planned-she finds out the man she is falling for, Owen Campbell, is the businessman at the center of all her problems. Owen has secretly longed to belong-somewhere-anywhere-his whole life. When he decides to give his long-lost brother, Jake, back his birthright, he unknowingly thwarts his briefly held hope of a place where he can put down roots and a family he longs for. Nothing is working out like Owen planned-neither Bella nor Jake wants anything to do with him. How can a man who is used to being in control and a woman determined to make it all on her own find a way to happiness? The Shop on Main is Book One of the Comfort Crossing series. Bella and her best friends, Jenny and Becky Lee, navigate the heartaches and triumphs of love and life in thesmall southern town of Comfort Crossing, Mississippi.

This is another storyline which doesn’t make logical sense and was never explained.

If her husband wanted the divorce, and she was not in any way in the wrong:

  • Why wasn’t he paying her sufficient alimony and child support to enable her to live in the style to which she and the children were accustomed?
  • And, why wasn’t she still living in the family home?

Any good divorce lawyer/judge would have allocated these items to her without fail.

So bearing that in mind, the remainder of the story doesn’t make sense as the original premise on which it is based doesn’t.

At no point does she even fight for herself – any lawyer would take on her case for a percentage as she was so clearly in the wrong.

This type of story, where the women are lacking in spine and any ability to think logically and clearly annoy me.


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Not so much anti-capitalism as…

Moranifesto Book Cover Moranifesto
Caitlin Moran
essays, women
Ebury Press
9 Mar 2017

‘I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’

When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats.

Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…

This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.

And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place.

The polite revolution starts here! Please.

I started reading this book and giggled and then I didn’t.

I didn’t giggle when Caitlin talked about Wolverhampton as I knew it from first hand experience when I taught there for 2 years. And so I felt that I knew those families and those children.

I didn’t giggle when she wrote about the so-called bedroom tax.

We are lucky we own our flat. And so on nights when I can’t sleep due to my disability I can use the 2nd bedroom to allow my husband to rest. Sleeping peacefully can be 2 ideas that don’t link for me -I am always restless and awake a lot. So we need our 2nd bedroom. And it permits visitors!

I was a ‘lucky’ working class child as my father worked. So did my grandfather until he was over 70. We needed the money in our multi-generational household to pay the mortgage we had to take out when our house owner wanted to sell. At that after some 30 years of renting from him. 4 adults and 2 children in 2.25 bedroom house. With no central heating until after we bought!

I was lucky in that I was able to obtain a full grant to go to university which paid tuition and some board and lodging. Topped up by the work I did each holiday of course otherwise I could never afford the rent on the mice infested house I shared with several other students! And university moved me up a ‘class’ into being a professional.

I remember celebrating Thatcher’s educational achievement of removing the milk from Primary school children – the milk that enabled my generation to grow bigger than our parents – with a large bonfire in the city square and burning her effigy! All the while chanting ‘Milk Snatcher Thatcher’.

So do I agree with everything that Caitlin writes? No, of course not. But her Times’ columns are the first thing my husband and I read on a Saturday. And so much of what she says or rants about fit in with our backgrounds and political and social leanings – being the leftie liberals we are with our theatre and music and art visits. Yes, I am now far from my working class background which was also far from her experiences, but still her words resonate and make me think.

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