Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners
(Allen & Unwin $36.99)
This is a quirky novel about Grace Barnum, a rather weepy textbook editor whose life is turned upside down when she meets up-and-coming singer-songwriter Tyler Wilkie outside her front door. Still feeling the effects from her childhood of her parents' divorce, Grace is used to keeping people at arm's length - even her boyfriend Steven. But Tyler is persistent and sweet, and she can't help but let him into her life. Grace's constant crying is slightly over-the-top, but you can't help but root for the pair as their friendship starts to develop into something more serious.
Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell
When his sister dies suddenly and guardianship of her baby daughter Delphi goes to her irresponsible brother Dexter, he's not the only one who freaks out at the idea. But he sets out to prove himself and everybody else wrong, jettisoning his glamorous London life, high-paying job and endless rotation of girlfriends for the tiny Cotswold village of Briarwood.
It's not as simple as it sounds, of course, but he has lots of help from his new neighbours, including lovely cartoonist Molly Hayes. Jill Mansell really is a master at this genre - the characters are well-constructed and likeable, and her gentle storylines will keep you hooked.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
(Allen and Unwin $36.99)
In her latest book Jodi Picoult delves outside the realms of chick lit into the themes of Nazi war crimes, Holocaust survivors, Judaism and Christianity along with guilt and
vengeance and, of course, a focus on love. Sage Singer carries scars - internally and externally - of regret and has taken to a solitary night existence as a baker. Her world is thrown into chaos when elderly acquaintance Josef asks her to help him die to escape from the demons of his past. Picoult handles often difficult subject matter sensitively and intelligently, though some of her tangents are a little laboured. Well-researched and fascinating, though often heartbreaking.
The Honey Queen by Cathy Kelly
Irish chick lit queen Kelly has set her latest book in the fictitious town of Redstone, where newly widowed Lillie is visiting from Melbourne to get to know her long-lost brother Seth. She soon makes friends with most of the townsfolk and through kindness, intuition and wisdom, ends up helping many of them out, starting with Seth whose marriage to Frankie is on the rocks. A warm and easy read, a good reminder of how sharing problems can lighten their load.
The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch
Kiwi author Sarah-Kate Lynch's latest heroine is Southern belle Sugar Wallace, who has just arrived in Manhattan with a suitcase and a hive of bees. Sugar makes a living from the bees and cares for them deeply. They look out for her too - especially in matters of the heart. A book for fans of old-fashioned values, with a likeable leading lady who needs to let others help her as much as she helps them.