Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Tasmin and William have been betrothed since birth even though they are from opposite sides of the kingdom. When William is unjustly accused of murder Tasmin drops everything and rushes to his side to help clear his name. She settles into the apartment William has prepared for them above his chocolate shop and begins to investigate. She soon finds herself facing more than she’d bargained for – suspicious townspeople, William’s dysfunctional family and a complex web of deceit surrounding the murder. Tasmin and William must work together to solve the mystery and find the real killer – before he strikes again.

 

Sissy: I relate to Tasmin, because she is a Hag. And I mean that in the best possible way. In the world where Tasmin lives a Hag is magical and beautiful.

Bubby: *Snort*. Sorry. Please continue, dearest Haggy Sissy.

Sissy: When she is promised to William, his family is upset because they believe in a more traditional definition of Hags. Kind of like when I married a boy from Utah and my dad told me that Utahns eat their young.

Bubby: Which is why I married a boy from Washington. No young ‘uns being eaten there! Yes, William’s family thinks that everyone from the North must be evil and deceitful and dangerous. Tasmin’s family thinks that those from the South, like William, are all uncultured savages. Of course they are both wrong. And it doesn’t matter anyway. Tasmin and William fall in love through letters written over Tasmin’s lifetime. They care only for each other, not the opinions of their families.

Sissy: In The Chocolatier’s Wife, Cindy Lynn Speer uses the wonderful literary device of letter writing between the two main characters to give us background, build their relationship and clarify the present story. She does a fantastic job and this was one of the things that drew me into the story. I read an Amazon.com review of this book where one reader said the writing was “painful”. I was completely discombobulated by that remark–that reviewer obviously had too much lead in their water pipes, if you know what I mean.

Bubby: It is very well written. No complaints about that from me. I loved the many twists and turns in the plot – you don’t actually find out who the murderer is or why the murder was committed until the very end of the book. It’s quite shocking, really. I never would have guessed. The romance between William and Tasmin is so sweet – they interact as if they’d been married already for 10 years and are totally dedicated to one another. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I also enjoyed hating William’s mother and sister-in-law. Talk about hags! (And not in a good way).

Sissy: Yes, there is plenty of intrigue in this book. While I usually can guess who the murderer is early on (because I am like that Mentalist guy on TV), this time I was taken by surprise. If I dangled the tag words “chocolate”, “magic”, “pirates” and “romance” in front of a group of mixed age women, who would come forward to devour this book? I would say all of them between 13 and 104.

Bubby: So it’s a little young for you, is that what you’re saying? Ha!

Sissy: Yeah, I’m the sexiest 105 year-old you’ve ever seen!

Bubby: Not too high of a bar there. Anyway, now that you’ve written our tags for this post, let me sum up by saying that The Chocolatier’s Wife was a good read. It was a bit slow for me in bits and I wavered between hating William’s family and wanting to slap some sense into them, especially his brother. I have no use for weak-willed lily-livered girly men. Grow a spine already! Overall, though, enjoyable. 3 1/2 bubbles.

Sissy: If I didn’t know you I’d think you had the personality of a cabbage! It only seemed slow in bits to you because you’re always trying to set the speed reading record. It’s part of your insecurity. I, on the other hand, am able to savor every word like a bit of fine chocolate. Someday I will coach you in this skill. The Chocolatier’s Wife is a scrumptious bite and I give it 4 bubbles.

© Bubble Bath Books 2012

 

 


This  series features budding forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson. She makes her debut in 1984’s Sick of Shadows, where she investigates a suspicious death at the wedding of her cousin Eileen. Throughout the series, Elizabeth continues to solve mysteries both foreign and domestic, as well as fall in love. We also get to meet Elizabeth’s lawyer brother, Bill and his radically feminist partner A.P. Hill. There are nine books in the series, ending with 2000’s PMS Outlaws.

Sissy: Sharyn McCrumb is one of my favorite authors. She has written other series that I also like but today we’ll focus on the very sharp-witted, interesting mystery series, led by the character of one Elizabeth MacPherson. When the author stopped writing this series to go onto other pursuits,  I wanted to get in the car and drive to the South and beg her in person to continue writing. It was like having my favorite TV series cancelled. I went into mourning.

Bubby: It’s interesting to read these books back-to-back, which I have done, but not in a while. At the beginning of the series, Elizabeth is shy, has a fairly useless degree and no job prospects. The whole tone of the first few books is very light and fluffy but by the end of the series, McCrumb has really come into her own. She has developed a really nice sharp, dry sense of humor, which makes the last two books, If I Had Killed Him When I Met Him and PMS Outlaws, my very favorites. I also in love with the character A.P. Hill, a little tiny petite woman who thinks she’s Napoleon and wants to be appreciated for her brains, not her boobs. She takes feminism to a whole new level.

Sissy: I know how it is to be shorter than your average sixth grader and not be taken seriously.

Bubby: I don’t. Sorry.

Sissy: How can you feel empowered when you go up to the counter in some retail establishment and it hits you about nose level? I get A.P. Hill. I think I shall start calling myself S. I. Sy.

Bubby: S.I. Sy? Sounds like a new type of synthetic fabric! Really, at your age you should have achieved some sort of closure about your lack of stature. I shall have to get you a shirt that I saw someone wearing the other day. It said, “I’m not short, I’m fun-size!”

Sissy: I have one. I also have a shirt that has a picture of a grinning Cheshire Cat that says “We are all mad here.”

Bubby: I fail to see how that is relevant, except as an expression of your ongoing mental state . . .

Sissy: Speaking of which, the characters in these books are just crazy enough to be highly entertaining.

Bubby: I personally find Elizabeth’s obsession with Scottish culture to be a good example of the above, as demonstrated in Highland Laddie Gone. And then she takes her United Kingdom mania one step further in The Windsor Knot where she *gasp* gets a chance to attend a tea party with Her Royal Majesty.

Sissy: In the last few books the author shows a great understanding of the angst of middle-aged womanhood, which Bubby is in denial about.

Bubby: Not so! No denial here! As I am but a wee 29, middle age is far far far in my distant future, not just a memory as with Sissy.

Sissy: You’re delusional. And it’s just that sort of language usage that makes it impossible for me to have closure. Your words imply that there is something WRONG with being short, WRONG with being of a certain age. These things are actually positive! Do I have to start a rant? Do I have to stand on my soapbox? Do I need to start a grass-roots movement?

Bubby: I believe that the rant is already in progress.

Sissy: As scintillating as my rants are, I would like to get back on topic.

Bubby: Hallelujah!

Sissy: I feel that I am giving our readers to this series we are giving them an early holiday gift. Nine good books. Happy Day! I give this series 4 1/2 bubbles.

Bubby: I agree. The series is well worth a read. My favorite line in all the books is when one of Bill’s clients informed him (while in jail for murdering her husband) “If I’d killed him when I met him, I’d be out by now”, hence the title of my favorite in the series. I give these books as a whole 4 bubbles. Happy Holidays!

Click HERE to buy Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him by Sharyn McCrumb at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him by Sharyn McCrumb at BookDepository.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2012


Chloe is a college student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her best friends Lori and Matthew convince her to be extras early one morning for  a movie starring the hottest actor of the moment, Jason Vanderholt.  Lori is obsessed with Jason while Chloe literally couldn’t care less. When Jason approaches Chloe during the shoot, she is completely uninterested – even more so when she realizes that he has a connection to her estranged family. Even though every other woman in America dreams of having a superstar in love with them, Chloe’s dreams are different. Being a famous man’s girlfriend is just not her fairytale. Even if it is his fairytale.

Bubby: Who hasn’t dreamed of being in the mall where Mr. Famous happens to be shopping and you catch his eye, resulting in a whirlwind romance that’s captured on the front pages of all the tabloids, taking you out of your normal humdrum life and making you a star by association? Not Chloe. And that’s what makes this book interesting. All Chloe wants is to finish college, get a good job and turn out to be the complete opposite of her mother.

Sissy: I like many things about Chloe. She doesn’t have a feather duster for brains, she doesn’t care about slick Hollywood stars and she has a legit dark past. The best thing, though, is that she refuses to hop in the sack with anyone and is considered weird and freakish because of it.  I could go on a real raving rant about this –

Bubby: I just bet you could! Are you going to? Please spare us!

Sissy: But suffice it to say that it pains my heart that someone who is virginal and 20-something is now considered to be a freak. So yea for Chloe!

Bubby: I too love Chloe’s moral code, especially since her roommate Lori is NOT on that program at all. Not that there’s any description of her “escapades” but Lori’s boyfriend stays over a lot and they really do think that Chloe is a little strange. In fact, Lori has trouble understanding much of anything Chloe does. When Jason first starts wooing Chloe, Lori is more impressed than Chloe is.  But Chloe’s past has made her distrustful of men in general and of rich, powerful men (like her father) in particular.

Sissy: Well, Bubby, you certainly have lots to say today. Is no one paying attention to you at home?

Bubby: Quite the opposite. I am amazing myself at my ability to create interesting content even while the children are swarming me. I am just fabulous like that.

Sissy: You are so amazing that my early onset dementia can’t even wrap itself around your amazingness. What was your college major, Craptology?

Bubby: Close. It was English. Do you have anything useful to add to the discussion or shall I review the rest of this book on my own? I am more than capable of doing so, you know!

Sissy: I imagine in my head the main characters as Josh Duhamel and Emma Stone.

Bubby: Emma Stone? Really? I was thinking more along the lines of Liam Hemsworth and perhaps Keira Knightly.

Sissy: Oh brother. Anyway, this is not a fluff piece. It has real substance, great back story and interesting relationship dynamics. Not for the girly girl crowd.

Bubby: I disagree, about the girly girl crowd anyway. Jason is such a sweet man and goes to such lengths to court Chloe as well as be there for her and shield her from the paparazzi that any girly girl will fall in love with him right off the bat.

Sissy: What I meant by that, Miss Bubby-I-Know-Everything is that if you’re expecting this to be all tiaras and pink froth, then you would be wrong. Stop reading this blog and go read the book already. I give it 4 bubbles. And stay tuned for my yet unnamed next blog, which will be rants about all the things inside me that are surging about and need to be vented.

Bubby: Oh, Sissy. No one wants to read a blog about your gastrointestinal disorders, especially not if they are making you “vent”. Stick with your day job! I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the sequel, Nobody’s Damsel, which will be published in January 2013. E.M. Tippetts has several other novels I enjoyed – give them a try! I give Someone Else’s Fairytale 3 1/2 bubbles.

© Bubble Bath Books 2012


Meg Langslow has been called home to be Maid of Honor at three weddings – those of her brother, her best friend and her own mother. Each bride seems to be vying for Bridezilla of the year honors by changing venues, changing decorations, even changing dresses at the last moment. Meg has to try to keep the weddings from becoming disasters. In the midst of all this a newcomer blows into town and starts hinting of skeletons in the guests closets and then suddenly ends up dead. As Meg tries to find the killer before he or she can strike again, mayhem and mischief reigns as accident after accident, some fatal, befall the townspeople. Added to the mix are a nephew whose pet duck follows him everywhere, a sea of crazy relatives and a gorgeous man who, to Meg’s dismay, is rumored to be gay.

Bubby: This is my pick this week. Murder With Peacocks is the first in a series – I own them all. I love the crazy cast of characters, from Meg’s dad, a retired doctor with a love for true crime to Eric, Meg’s nephew who is constantly followed by a duck (named Duck).

Sissy: I like this series because the cast of characters are crazed lunatics and they remind me of my family, if we were to all get together. Meg is a blacksmith by trade who creates functional works of art out of metal and manages to do a lot of amateur sleuthing on the side.

Bubby: Wow, you actually like a book I chose? The Zombie Apocalypse must be right around the corner!

Sissy: Tut, tut, dear Bubby. I have not come to the point of criticism in my review yet.

Bubby: I rather thought it was too good to last. Carry on, Sissy.

Sissy: I have already said my piece about cozy murder mysteries and how the average person doesn’t even witness ONE murder, let alone 27, in the course of a lifetime. Also, all the madcap frenzy surrounding Meg and her family becomes slapstick and maudlin at times, just like the Twilight movies.

Bubby: Oh no you didn’t! There will be no Twilight bashing on this blog, thank you very much. I just saw the last movie and I am still emotionally involved with the characters.

Sissy: Fine. You cried, I laughed hysterically. What does that tell you? Anyway, my favorite character in the book is Duck. Just kidding! Donna Andrews is quite witty, like myself, but sometimes I want her to rein herself in.

Bubby: My favorite character is Michael. He is so sweet and kind and beloved by the Vietnamese ladies in his mother’s dressmaking shop. Patient and handsome – definitely too good to be true. Or maybe not? No spoilers! I quite like the “madcap frenzy surrounding Meg and her family”. Makes my life feel calm and normal! I love that she hates the woman who her brother Rob is marrying but agrees to be maid of honor anyway to keep family peace.

Sissy: You definitely never know what’s going to happen next in these books. The stories have wonderful twists and turns and Donna Andrew’s imagination seems to be endless, like mine. However, sometimes I have to put the books down and have a valium and watch the Hallmark channel.

Bubby: I am afraid, darling sister, that your need for a valium has little to do with whatever you may be reading at the time. At any rate, I have nothing whatsoever bad to say about these books. I simply adore them. They are a great escape, they are clean and funny and my teenagers love them so much that several of the covers are missing! Sissy is just grumpy.

Sissy: Fine. Good. Whatever. I do not throw these books off the deck when Bubby brings them to me to read. I read them and enjoy them. And I heard about people who buy books with the covers missing from illegal vendors. Is there something you’d like to confess, Bubby?

Bubby: Are you accusing me of book thievery? I would never! In fact, I plan on buying these books AGAIN to replace the ones that have been so well loved that they are now coverless. That’s how much I like them. 4 bubbles from me.

Sissy: All right, already. It was a joke. Don’t get your knickers in a twist! 3 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews at BookDepository.com

©Bubble Bath Books 2012


Mrs. Emily Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a widowed empty-nester.  She is tired of her life and tired of Garden Club Meetings. She decides that she needs to do something new – something exciting, something patriotic.  So, naturally, she becomes a CIA agent. Her first assignment is to Mexico City. Unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably, things do not go according to plan and Mrs. Pollifax finds herself in the middle of a mess. Fortunately for her, she is one feisty lady and those who go up against her are in for quite a surprise! Subsequent books in the series find Mrs. Pollifax anywhere from Switzerland to Damascus, always feisty, always funny, always uniquely Mrs. Pollifax.

Sissy: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax is the first in a delightfully scrumptious series of 14 books written between 1966 and 2000. Mrs. Pollifax is a great character who not only has the mind of a detective but also knows karate and she uses it! I imagine that I will be like Mrs. Pollifax in my golden years.

Bubby: Well, considering that you ARE in your golden years and have yet to learn karate, I sincerely doubt it.

Sissy: Excuse me, Bubby, I am a purple belt in karate for your information.

Bubby: You were a purple belt 20 years ago. Not sure what your belt would look like nowadays. But anyway, I too adore Mrs. Pollifax. The whole series is fantastic. She reminds me of someone who would fit right in at the Red Hat society – those older women who wear their red hats with their purple dresses and have a ball with life.

Sissy: ONe of my problems with most cozy mysteries, although I do like them, is that murdered people just don’t turn up by the dozens in the same location.  Mrs. Pollifax, on the other hand, doesn’t sit around the Garden Club and find dead people under the geraniums. SHe joins the CIA for heaven’s sake! At first they just give her little inane assignments that aren’t supposed to pose any danger but she proves once and for all that age does not diminish one’s innate wonderfulness.

Bubby: I agree with Sissy – in real life one call only find two or three dead bodies before people start accusing them of BEING the murderer. Mrs. Pollifax heads out to all these fantastic exotic locales (Mexico, Egypt, Africa, Morocco) and is involved in situations where murder and mayhem are plentiful.

Sissy: That is one of the most fun things about this series – the exotic locales. Mrs. Pollifax is a hoot when she tries to wear disguises and assimilate into the cultures. Dorothy Gilman is writing is witty and clever.

Bubby: The descriptions of places are so rich and detailed that I can almost smell the saffron couscous and feel the hot Damascus sun beating on my head (referring of course to Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled). I have no desire to be a CIA agent but I enjoy reading a book that can make me feel like one!

Sissy: Ah, yes, the burning sand squidging between my weary, travel-stained toes; the sweat dripping down my lobster-red brow, a tepid mug of barley tea clasped in my gun-grip calloused hands…I’m feeling it with you, Bubby!

Bubby: That’s my point exactly. I don’t actually WANT to go there and do that. I would much prefer to relax in my lavender scented bathwater and live vicariously through the pages of my book.

Sissy: Mrs. Pollifax even finds romance eventually. She is so not your Miss Marple brand of heroine. So go out and buy or borrow these books and read them because you will like them. 5 bubbles for me.

Bubby: Absolutely. I also recommend that you read any or all of Dorothy Gilman’s other books. She is a great writer. 4 1/2 bubbles for Mrs. Pollifax!

Click HERE to buy The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman at Amazon.com

Click HERE  to buy The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman at BookDepository.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2012


Tara is your average everyday teenager. One evening she is walking home alone after a fight with her boyfriend George. She begins to feel strange; tingly, with goosebumps. Suddenly, right in front of her, she witnesses a girl changing into a werewolf.  Then the girl attacks. Without warning, Tara finds herself in a fight to the death – a fight that she wins. Stunned, she is found by a gorgeous boy named Wes who initiates her into a world she never knew existed. A world where if you aren’t a werewolf, then you are born to hunt them and the two factions are at war – with Tara and Wes caught between sides. Tara must find her place in this new world and decide who she is, who she loves and what she is willing to risk to have what she wants.

Bubby: I was initially thrown off by the title of this book. Dirty blood? Icky. Then I realized that it was a reference to Wes’  heritage. It was used as a slur, just like when Malfoy calls Hermione “mudblood” in Harry Potter. I knew right then that Max would become a great character – after all, so did Hermione! One might think that this book is going to be your typical teenager/werewolf/romance novel. One would be wrong. There are twists and turns and intricate plot changes that elevate it above the average.

Sissy: I was initially put off by the fact that this was a book with werewolves and the last dang thing I want to read about is werewolves anymore.

Bubby: But you liked it, didn’t you. Huh, admit it. You liked it.

Sissy: Yes I did like it and I’ll tell you why.

Bubby: I just bet you will.

Sissy: It wasn’t stupid like the last teenage magic book I read (which shall remained unnamed). The main character actually HAS a character and she finds the male love interest annoying because he’s a boy.

Bubby: She finds him annoying because he keeps secrets from her and drives a car (Aston Martin Volante, thank you very much) that no teenage boy has any right to be driving. Boys in expensive British sports cars are too cute. Not that I’d know from personal experience, mind you, but just look at James Bond. I rest my case.

Sissy: Also annoying is the fact that one of Wes’ powers is that he can make people forget things. And he pops up out of nowhere. But Tara also has powers and the book hints that she might have ones that are more unique and rare than his.

Bubby: I enjoyed the unique plot. Turns out that there is a secret alliance between Weres and Hunters that is trying to create peace between the two races. Wes and Tara have a special place in this alliance because for reasons I will not divulge, both the Weres and the Hunters want them on their side. Wes and Tara are also the only ones with “powers”.

Sissy: There are also sneaky and secret family connections and a surprising villain.

Bubby: Although she isn’t introduced until near the end of the story, I LOVED Tara’s grandma. She is a crusty no-nonsense old biddy who takes no crap, drives a Hummer and loves her family with all her heart. What’s better than that?

Sissy:Reminds me of you a little!

Bubby: Thanks! Although I only wish I drove a Hummer.  Or a Mustang.  Instead I drive a crappy minivan.

Sissy: I had a Porsche once.

Bubby: I remember. You made me ride in the non-existent back seat. And you only had it for like ten minutes.

Sissy: Fun sucker. That is what you are. OK, so back to the story. What is Grandma’s connection to the alliance? Is she CIA? OSS? A buyer for Bloomingdales? I will never tell.

Bubby: Actually, we don’t really find out much. That would be why there is book two, Cold Blood and book three, Blood Bond. Haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but they are high on my list.

Sissy: And when Bubby buys them, I will borrow them.

Bubby: You are my favorite book collection parasite.

Sissy: Your life would be nothing without me.

Bubby: OK. Whatever. I really liked Dirty Blood and I give it 3 1/2 bubbles.

Sissy: It was good, but not memorable for me. 3 bubbles.

© Bubble Bath Books 2012

 


Bubby: Sissy! Have you drawn the names of the winners of our book giveaway yet?

Sissy: Yes. The numbers were totaled by the accounting firm of B&P and two winners were randomly selected.

Bubby: Well? The suspense is killing me! Who won?

Sissy: Winner #1 and recipient of the two Purgatory books, signed by author Amy Sutorious Harmon is Erin Gibson of Chicago, IL!

Bubby: Woohoo!

Sissy: Winner #2 and recipient of Running Barefoot, signed by Amy Harmon is Andrew Tolman of Arizona!

Bubby: Congratulations Erin and Andrew!

Sissy: And the winner of our grand prize and title of Empress of the Universe is Sissy!

Bubby: What? Are you mental?

Sissy: Give me my tiara and roses!!

Bubby: While Sissy takes her turn down the runway (at the mental institution) I’d like to give a big thanks to everyone who entered and especially to Amy Harmon for being kind enough to provide our prizes.

Sissy: Congratulations to all!