Christmas Reads: Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

Reviewed HERE

Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

There’s always one case

The moment police Captain Colin McAllister sees her on TV he knows. She may call herself Nell Smith, but she is Maddie Dubeau – the girl who went missing from Angel Butte, Oregon, years ago. She’s haunted Colin, and now the adult version of her is so captivating, he can’t stay away. He wants to help her recover her memories – even solve her case – without crossing a professional line.
But distance becomes impossible when the threats against her escalate. It’s clear someone is determined that Nell never remembers what happened to Maddie. Colin must keep her safe so that he can finally bring her home to his home.

Christmas Reads: One Frosty Night by Janice Kay Johnson

One Frosty Night by Janice Kay Johnson

Unexpected Christmas plans

Olivia Bowen would rather avoid this holiday season. Even her satisfaction at improving the family business doesn’t make up for the loss of her beloved father and the sudden tension with her mother. Olivia questions how much longer she can live in her hometown. And her decision is further complicated by Ben Hovik.

She should keep her distance—he broke her heart years ago. Yet his compassion and their still-sizzling attraction are seductive. Could she be falling for him again? When she spends Christmas with Ben and his teenage son, she wonders if this might be the first of many more…

One Frosty Night by Janice Kay Johnson

Janice Kay Johnson delivers “complete” stories. Her books have a solid, realistic romance, an excellent mystery, important and believable secondary characters, and they reveal their secrets slowly. I haven’t disliked anything I’ve read by her, and One Frosty Night was a really engaging read.

I love a bit of heartache in a story, and our hero here has amends to make when it comes to our heroine. A few years older than her, he dumped her for another girl when he went off into the big, wide world to study. She doesn’t see why she should be giving him a second chance now.

But there’s much more to the story than that. We start with a teenage girl found dead in the woods. Gradually it seems everyone in the town knows something, and everyone has a secret to hide. There’re tensions between mother and daughter and secrets between father and son. There’re a lot of things going on in this small town.

Yes, this book takes place at Christmastime, but I think the cover is a little silly compared to the depth of the story!

One thing I didn’t believe was that the heroine – who is the same age as me – would have been communicating via email through her adolescence. I didn’t even know what email was at the age she was apparently doing it, and we sure didn’t have the internet!

Recommended for people who like believable romances, small town mysteries, or who are tired of Christmas cheese and want something set in the season without the usual themes.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?

From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.

Juliet by Anne Fortier

This is one of those books I love for the concept. I’ve read it a couple of times and there’s just something about (good) retellings of classic stories that appeals.

Anne Fortier clearly has a love of Italy, and her reworking of the Romeo and Juliet story to cover centuries is smart, taking lots of twists and turns.

Juliet gives our lovers a second chance in the present, but they’re not a couple of irresponsible teenagers now. I like that this version strips away some of Shakespeare’s absurdities (earlier versions of the story are much more sensible than the rushed famous version!).

I don’t often enjoy the first person perspective because it puts some severe limitations on the parts of the story that can be told. I want to get inside the heads of other main characters, particularly when there’s a romance aspect of the story involved. In the case of Juliet, it worked for the mystery aspect, but not so much for the romance. It’s very hard to understand why our Romeo of the present is falling in love when we see the whole thing through “Juliet’s” eyes.

Speaking of the romance, Romeo and Giulietta this may be, but romance is not the main focus of the book. While I don’t enjoy lengthy declarations of love, I would have welcomed a bit more on that front, considering the subject matter! I also didn’t need lengthy sex scenes, but the fade-to-black was pretty jarring for our present day characters!

I do love the setup for the present day part of the story. Our two leads are suspicious of each other and do not even LIKE each other at first. There’re a lot of secrets being kept and trust is slow to come.

Juliet has a lot going for it, and I can forgive the slightly dry romantic aspect because the concept is so good.

New Books!

It’s a rare thing for me to actually walk into a bookshop these days (which is terrible, and I’m going to make a point of doing it more often). In Canberra there’s a great bookshop that imports all kinds of things from all over the place, and the prices tend to range from$5 to $8 – about a fifth of the price Australians are used to paying.

Today we walked in just for a look and left with a bagful of books.

Here are the three I bought:

Ghost Gum Valley by Johanna Nicholls

An early 19th century story set in Australia? I’m excited about this variation on the genre!

 Ghost Gum Valley by Johanna Nicholls

The Duke by Gaelen Foley

This is one of my favourite books but I’ve never owned it in paperback. I know the cover wouldn’t sell in some countries, but I love that I can buy a copy where people’s clothes aren’t falling off.

 The Duke by Gaelen Foley

Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman

The author’s book Retribution is one of my favourite crime stories, so I’m looking forward to this one.

Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman

The Week: 21st – 27th July

 Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

Canberra Ukrainians hosting a memorial for the MH17 victims yesterday.

We had a huge memorial service for MH17 yesterday. All kinds of politicians and embassy representatives (from pretty much everywhere except Russia) attended. The only one missing? Anyone representing Tony Abbott’s Federal Government. That man is distancing himself from the whole thing because he still wants Adolf Putin to come to Australia. Bastard.

It should be remembered that since the plane went down, more and more and more innocent Ukrainians have been slaughtered for no reason. What is happening to them is just as bad, but it doesn’t make the news because nobody gives a damn about Eastern Europeans. Especially not Germany or France.

I’ve read a number of so-so books this week. One pretty good one, and then nothing that inspired me much. Nothing much is exciting me at the moment. I went through a phase like this a few months ago, and I know the only cure is to accidentally come across something unexpected and amazing! I wonder how I’ll manage that.

My review of Return to Homecoming Ranch by Julia London

Return to Homecoming Ranch (Pine River Book 2) by Julia London

My review of Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter

Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter


My review of The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble

The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble

My review of Christmas in July by Debbie Mason

Christmas in July (A Christmas, Colorado Novel Book 2) by Debbie Mason


My review of Claimed by the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Claimed by the Laird by Nicola Cornick

My review of KCPD Protector by Julie Miller

KCPD Protector by Julie Miller

My review of Tempting Target by Savannah Stuart

Tempting Target by Savannah Stuart

The Week 14th – 20th July

Australian Capital Territory flag at half-mast for Malaysia Airlines plane shot down by Russia. Canberra 19th July 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney.

Canberra flag at half-mast on Saturday.

Russia. Stop it. Get out of Ukraine and stop this war. For any normal country, shooting down a plane of international civilians would have been the final straw. Instead, after bragging about how many Ukrainians they slaughtered (I happened to be online and watching it evolve), they realised they were in the wrong and have been coming up with some shocking, horrific lies to try and cover their tracks. Accusing Malaysia Airlines of flying a plane of corpses was about the lowest they could go. Never has it been clearer what a fool Vladimir Adolf Putin is.

Russia has a long history of shooting down civilian planes and claiming they shot down enemies (Korean Air flight 007, for example). That they’re still doing it in 2014 is almost unbelievable.

A little note: it was not YOUR airspace when you shot the plane down. It was UKRAINIAN airspace.

Canberra flew all the flags at half-mast over the weekend, and we took flowers to the Dutch and Malaysian embassies, as well as leaving a sign at the Russian embassy. No doubt it’s already gone, but with no apology forthcoming, the Russians need to at least stop listening to the propaganda. A Canberra woman was amongst those killed.

I’ve read some interesting books this week, but I had to put the military suspense story I was reading aside for a bit – I was reading about planes being shot down at the time I found out about the actual plane that was shot down. I picked up a good late-Georgian era story instead, which I’ll review soon. I have to review it soon, because the silly publisher didn’t distribute review copies until four days before they wanted a review!

My review of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet A Novel by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

My review of Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

My review of Lost in Temptation by Lauren Royal

Lost in Temptation (Sweet Temptations #1) by Lauren Royal

My review of Cop by Her Side by Janice Kay Johnson

Cop by Her Side by Janice Kay Johnson

My review of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

My review of Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

My review of Desire & Deception by Sahara Roberts

Desire & Deception by Sahara Roberts

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much. Not because she’s not pretty. She is. It’s just that, well, Sookie has this sort of “disability.” She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He’s tall, dark, handsome–and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life…
But Bill has a disability of his own: He’s a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of–big surprise–murder. And when one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next…

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is not the first time I’ve read this book, but I needed something to stop me from reading every Patricia Briggs book in the space of a week, and Sookie Stackhouse was the first paranormal/fantasy series I could think of.

Pretty much everyone has tried these books since the True Blood television show adaptation came out, which means reviews for them are all over the place. I was worried I was going to hate Dead Until Dark the second time round, but apart from constantly picturing the (seriously miscast) actors from the show as the characters, I still really enjoyed it.

Some things have changed, however. I no longer see any of Sookie’s escapades with the vampires as romantic, and I am now also reading knowing how it will all end up. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wonderful about Bill or Eric or any of them, and in this reread I actually found myself enjoying the more ‘human’ characters a lot more. I guess I’ve “grown up” in the past few years and I expect different things from my books!

The thing that people either love or hate about this series is how normal everyone is, even when there’re crazy supernatural things happening. I know the Deep South setting is considered a huge selling point (I’m torn – I keep thinking of misogyny, Bibles, guns and racial tensions!).

There are many things you could pick at, like the crazy names: Sookie Stackhouse, Charlsie Tooten and so on. However, we’re talking about a book where vampires not only exist but levitate and glow, so…

I don’t know about anyone else, but it held up for me. I never read beyond book six, so I don’t know how things will go as I get further on with the books.

You could do worse for a few hours’ entertainment than Sookie.