Grace and the Guiltless (by Erin Johnson)

Younger Readers (to Young Adult)

After her entire family is brutally murdered by the Guiltless Gang, Grace travels to Tombstone in search of justice. But what she finds is a sheriff who is being paid to turn a blind eye and a town full of people who would rather cheat her than offer help.

Leaving Tombstone she travels into the mountains on a vendetta to bring the bad guys to justice, dead or alive. But after only a day, she finds herself attacked by a bear and paralysed with violent stomach cramps after eating poisonous berries.

Rescued by Joe, she is taken to a Nde camp (The People…I’m presuming though it isn’t mentioned that they were Navajo), where she is healed and returns to strength, all the while learning skills that will help her in her quest for revenge.

Grace and the Guiltless is book one of what will be a series of Westerns aimed at young readers and possibly young adults –– I really want to give this book to my 10 year old niece because I think she will love it. The story is quite simple, the language is aimed at younger readers but I found myself really enjoying this book.

I guess the one caveat I would offer is there is some violence in this book and it is quite gruesome. It’s important to the story and not gratuitous but parents might want to keep that in mind if they have especially sensitive children.

OK…just have to say, that cover is sublime!!!  I see so many covers that fall short and when I see one that nails it, I just have to say.  Whoever the artist is who put that together is worth more money than they’re getting. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmMany thanks to Capstone for providing me with this ARC

Yellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.


Four Friends (by Robyn Carr)

Contemporary Romance (maybe Chick Lit)

Three women, neighbours and friends, find themselves facing marriages that are falling apart. Then a neighbour who moved in 12 months earlier but has always avoided any overtures of friendship steps in and through simple acts of kindness manages to bring them even closer and mover them towards healing.
Gerri has always relied on the rock solid partnership she has with her husband. Even if their sex lives aren’t what they were they are partners in every sense. Then she discovers that five years earlier her husband had an affair.

Andy kicks her husband out after discovering he is a serial cheater. She opens up to the carpenter who has been remodelling her kitchen. Over the weeks she comes to value his steadiness and wisdom. She finds herself falling in love but has a hard time trusting her feelings.

Sonja is a health food fanatic who teacher yoga and advises people on the feng shui of their homes. But when her husband walks out on her, her carefully constructed world crumbles around her and she descends into severe depression.

BJ arrived in the neighbourhood 12 months earlier. But she has a secret that she needs to guard for the sake of her children and keeps to herself.


Four Friends is a book which doesn’t neatly fit into its genre. It’s contemporary romance and as you would expect from contemporary romance everything is neatly tied up at the end. But life is messy and the issues Robyn Carr is exploring are some of the messiest of all. However, written as contemporary romance I loved this book…and I don’t think I would say that if it was written with a more “chick lit” aesthetic.

The book reminded me a lot of a previous book by Robyn Carr, Summer in Sonoma. Both books deal with four female friends facing some difficult life challenges but where Summer in Sonoma focuses on women from their late 20s to early 40s, Four Friends is about women who are a little older, from their late 30s to early 50s.

It’s a very satisfying book for fans of Robyn Carr and contemporary romance.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Stay (by Allie Larkin)

Contemporary Romance

After Peter, the guy she has loved for years, marries her best friend, Van goes on a bender drinking a lot of vodka and watching re-runs of Rin Tin Tin. Alone and lonely she impulsively buys a dog online. When the dog arrives at the airport from Slovakia she finds a whole lot more than she was expecting. Joe turns out to be a fully trained law enforcement German Shepherd that only obeys commands spoken in Slovakian.

Joe soon brings Alex, a vet specialising in large dogs into her life and in him she finds a chance to move forward and get over her lost love. But with Van’s own past refusing to let her move on she might lose the first man she has a chance at loving since Peter.


I have so much love for this book. It’s sweet contemporary romance –– perhaps even chick lit, about a woman who has sacrificed everything for the happiness of others, finding her own happiness. If I have a criticism it’s only a small one. I’m not a fan of flash-backs as a plot device…more often than not they interrupt a story rather than moving it forward and I think that’s the case here. But I still loved this book and I’m going to call it a favorite.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 6.08.18 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Come Home to Me (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance

On the night her mother died, Presley went looking for comfort in the arms of her lover Aaron. But she never meant as much to him as he did to her and he coldly rejected her. Broken hearted she left Whiskey Creek taking with her the secret that she was carrying his baby. 

Two years have passed and Presley has got her life back on track and returned to Whiskey Creek. Dirt poor but determined to make a better life for herself and her son she sinks everything she has into a small business teaching yoga and offering therapuetic massage. But she wasn’t expecting to be running into Aaron. 

With everything on the line she pulls out all the stops to keep Aaron from learning the truth about their child. 

Aaron has carried the guilt over how he treated Presley for two years. He’s determined to make things right before he leaves town and gets on with his life, but every time he looks into her eyes he sees the hurt he caused her two years before. 

As he gets to know Presley again, he begins to see things he missed the first time around, but Presley isn’t willing to put her heart on the line again and for every small step forward he makes she puts up more walls to keep him out. 

Brenda Novak is a master of romantic suspense –– her Bullet Proof series had me a nervous wreck. I wouldn’t describe her contemporary romances as masterful but she is competent and getting better with each new book. Come Home to me is far and away the most satisfying book I’ve read in this series to date. I genuinely liked Presley and Aaron and the story worked on every level. 

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.25.29 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Many thanks to Harelquin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Night Broken (by Patricia Briggs)

Paranormal Romance

Christy, Adam’s ex-wife, shows up in pack territory after her latest lover turns seriously weird on her. Adam, a natural protector puts her up but she immediately starts subverting Mercy’s position in the pack. Then the crazy stalker guy shows up and the body count rises.

I read Moon Called, book one in the Mercy Thompson series a while ago, but despite enjoying the book a lot I walked away. The main reason was the price of the Kindle version is about 50% more than a paperback and it seemed a bit unfair paying more for something which essentially costs the publisher a fraction of the price. Anyway, that just goes to say I haven’t read any other books in the series except book 1.

This book is good. It’s great fun but it doesn’t quite work as a stand-alone. If you like paranormal romance…if you like books about vampires, werewolves, shifters and fae, this book is for you. But I think the series needs to be read in order and If spending something like $85.00 buying eight books makes you blanch, there are other much cheaper options. Faith Hunter’s Skinwalker series is every bit as good in my opinion and half the price.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.44.24 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.


Home to Stay (by Terri Osburn)

Contemporary Romance

Willow was forced into a life on the run by her violent and abusive ex. Having arrived on Anchor Island a little over twelve months earlier, she has taken on every cash-in-hand job the small tourist town can give her and found herself a measure of peace with a small group of friends. But with her ex still looking for her, she can never get too comfortable and needs to be ready to run at a moments notice.

Randy owns the town’s gym and like Will’s ex, he is a big guy. Her nervousness around him is obvious to all, but despite the similar stature, he has a gentle and protective nature. With a little persistence he manages to break down her walls and they tentatively begin to explore their attraction.

When a travel reporter visits Anchor Island and recognises Will, her safe harbour is suddenly threatened and she realises it might be time to hit the road. Randy is determined to protect her and build a life with her, but for that to happen she will need to trust him.

There aren’t too many new ideas in this genre and I’ve read stories similar to this one before, but I don’t think I’ve read one that’s as good as this. The characters, especially the female characters really are kind of wonderful. I even found myself rereading a couple of sections because they were such great fun.

Honestly there are a handful of authors who just make me so happy I could jump. Laini Taylor, Carolyn Crane, recently Marilyn Pappano, Faith Hunter…and Terri Osburn.

So yeah, this book gets 5 well deserved stars.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 6.08.18 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Many thanks to Terri Osburn for providing me with this ARC.

Wardrobe Girl (by Jennifer Smart)

Chick Lit

When Tess’s boyfriend breaks up with her by showing up on the red carpet with another woman, she quits her job working as a costume designer for the BBC, packs up her life and movies back to Australia. Working as a wardrobe assistant on a low budget Australian soap opera isn’t where she envisioned her life heading, but it’s the fresh start she needs.

Eight years earlier, when Tess was offered her dream job, Jake left her rather than putting his own dreams on stand-by. Now he is back in Australia with his beautiful fiancée and a job as director on Tess’s soap opera.

With a family that’s oblivious to her feelings –– sleazy, albeit very good looking, actors hitting on her –– and old hurts coming to the surface, Tess struggles to maintain her professionalism and keep her personal life from falling apart.

This was a difficult book for me. There were things I really didn’t like…things that I struggled with. There is a gritty honesty that’s not always easy to take, a warts and all realness to the characters that occasionally made me want to look away. But when I remove my personal prejudice I have to admit this book is pretty damned amazing even if it wasn’t the cute and quirky feel good rom-com the cover suggests.

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Yellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Many thanks to Random House Australia and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.