Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: March 2013

We got the chance to ask Amy Harmon some of the questions that have been bouncing around our brains since we’ve read her novels. If you haven’t already bought and read Amy’s books, you should get right on that!
SissyA Different Blue has a very strong Native American theme.  Are you Native American?  What Native American influences have you had in your life?
Amy: My husband just found out that his great great grandmother was full-blooded Cheyenne, and he has been making me call him Chief all week.  I’m not kidding.  He’s absolutely thrilled.  But no, I am not Native.  In my first book, Running Barefoot, Samuel is Navajo, and that book has an even stronger Native American theme than A Different Blue.  Honestly, I don’t know why I am so fascinated by the Native American culture and history.  Maybe it’s because it’s such a mystery to so many Americans, and it is such a large part of our American history and heritage.  After Running Barefoot, I just wasn’t ready to set it aside, although the two books are very different stories.
Bubby: A common feature in your novels is artistic ability, in this case, Blue’s sculptures. Are you a sculptor or painter?
Amy: My art is limited to my writing and my singing.  My children have inherited those same artistic talents.  We all draw like we were born without hands….and eyes.  However, I imagine that the inspiration for all artistic ability comes from the same place, and it is very easy for me to write about artists.  My dad describes inspiration as “thoughts wrapped in light.”  Those thoughts wrapped in light can manifest themselves in music, literature, art…whatever you are blessed with.  I did meet with a sculptor who uses hard woods like Blue does in the story.  His art inspired her art.
Sissy: This new book addresses some much darker issues than your previous books, but it is ultimately (in my opinion) a story of redemption and hope.  Life does not always turn out so well, however, so are you ever tempted to go total reality with a story (i.e. Blue turns to prostitution and dies of a drug overdose, leaving a crack-addicted baby to be raised in the foster system and probably follow in her mother’s  footsteps…)?
Amy:  I’m never tempted to completely surrender to the dark side.  I am, after all, a complete, optimistic romantic.  But you’re right, Sissy.  Life does not always turn out so well, so books need to.  Happy endings are a must for me.  I have worried about how my readers will react to this new book because it is grittier.  Sometimes, in order to tell certain stories, you have to use the language and situations that are authentic to the character because it is the character who tells the story.  I still didn’t surrender to certain obscenities – no F word, no Lord’s name in vain, no descriptive sex scenes, etc.  I really hope readers who loved my other books will give A Different Blue a shot, because it does have a great message.  I believe it is my best book.
Bubby:  How do you think growing up in a tiny town influenced your future novels? What would have been different if you’d grown up as a city girl?
Amy: Growing up, we didn’t have a television and I read voraciously.  We actually lived in the fields about three miles outside of Levan – the setting for Running Barefoot –  and that more than anything shaped my writing, simply because my vocabulary and language skills became very well-developed at a very young age.  I think if we had lived in a big city with access to cable and more diversions, I might not have read as much.  I still don’t watch TV….except for the dance shows.  I’m hoping to become famous enough that I can be a “star” on Dancing With the Stars.  Hey, a chubby middle-aged mom can dream, can’t she?
Sissy:  You are also a songwriter.  Which is more difficult for you–coming up with a story that can be told in the parameters of a lyric and a melody, or writing a full novel?
Amy: Nice research, Sissy!  I am a song-writer, and my son is following in my footsteps.  He is a brilliant wordsmith, but I always give him grief about his “story line.”  The greatest songwriters tell a story.  That’s why Taylor Swift has been so successful, in my opinion. In that regard, writing songs and writing novels are very similar.   As far as what is more difficult, I’ve written a song in a couple of hours before.  That will never, ever happen with a book, so I would have to say writing a novel is ten million times more difficult.
Bubby: How do you balance home/family/music/children/etc. with writing? What’s the first thing that gets left by the wayside when you are in full creative mode? (For Bubby it’s laundry . . .)
Amy: Aw, Bubby.  Laundry is always easy to push aside.  Especially putting it away.  For me, the first things that get pushed aside when I’m in a full creative press are sleep and personal hygiene.  Yuck, I know.  I do brush my teeth and my hair, but I might remain in the same sweatpants for two or three days.  My poor husband.  I write about beautiful women, but I get uglier and uglier as a book draws to a close.  It’s a good thing my children don’t require me to be pretty.  They just need me to be present and available, and that is a definite perk of working from my kitchen table.  I’m very grateful for that and so far, I’ve been able to be a decent mom and still write four novels.
You can find A Different Blue, Amy’s newest novel at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing. This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible. (Synopsis from Amazon.com)

Bubby: SO EXCITED to get the chance to review this brand spanking new novel by Amy Harmon. She was kind enough to let us read it as an advanced reader’s copy – several weeks before the publishing date. Made me feel all special and important!

Sissy: You ARE always special and important to me, Bubby. Especially when you bring Diet Coke. A Different Blue is a little darker than Amy Harmon’s previous novels, and when she warned us of this I was a little worried at what that meant – i.e. heaving bosoms? Multiple @#!**#%s? Spouting fountains of blood and gore? Did the author turn into a goth-emo-slasher satanist? But no worries. It is a story of redemption, sacrifice and hope, beautifully executed.

Bubby: Yes, I too was a little concerned that Amy Harmon might have fallen to the dark side. Yes, the main character, Blue Echohawk, is at first a naughty girl. She behaves badly. But she has good reason. Her life has been one tragedy after another and she is acting out in the only manner she knows. If wearing tight clothes and too much makeup and being “easy” gets her the attention and validation she so desperately needs, then that is what she’s going to do. At least in the beginning. The title, A Different Blue, gives us a clue right off that this is going to be a story about transformation. And it’s a good one.

Sissy: I have said it before and I’ll say it again:

Bubby: “Get your hands off my chocolate or you’re a dead woman!”?

Sissy: Not quite, but close. Thanks, Bubby for interrupting my professional philosophical meanderings. Anyway, there are thousands of writers and then there are WRITERS. People who have the beauty of words oozing out of their souls. They find the perfect balance of prose, description, characterization and flow and make it seem effortless. I like a lot of authors but not many of them fit into this category. Amy Harmon does.

Bubby: I have a friend (hey, Holly!) who owns signed copies of Amy Harmon’s first 3 books. After reading A Different Blue I told Holly that she needs to take those books and wrap them in acid free paper and put them away in a box because they are going to be worth money someday. We gave away some signed copies in a contest last year and now we are kicking ourselves – that could have been us making a killing on EBay in a few years! I predict that in 5 years Amy Harmon will be a nationally renowned author on the NY Times Bestsellers List. You watch and see.

Sissy: If I was a major publisher I would be on that like grey hair on grandma. Publishers! What’s wrong with you?!?!? Sign this woman and give her 100K immediately! I loved Blue’s foster father Jimmy Echohawk, who saw something in her that made him want to take her in even though he lived a life of a drifter/artist. What he did enlarged her soul and ultimately saved her life. In the end the mystery of his life binds him to her even more than she could have ever known.

Bubby: Everyone at some point in their lives feels unloved. Unwanted. Unworthy. Hopefully at that point, there is someone who believes in you enough to buoy you up and help you realize just how fabulous you are and how much potential you have to be even more fabulous in the future. Blue has felt unloved and unworthy for years and has had no one to be that person for her. All she had was her art – her beautiful wood carvings – as an indication that there was more to her than what showed on the outside. As her relationship with Wilson evolves, you begin to see more and more of that inner beauty reflected in her outward appearance and mannerisms.

Sissy: A tragic life is one wherein a person cannot see or recognize their own intrinsic beauty and value. Introduce into that life individuals who are trustworthy and nurture a person in a way that they can begin to see and believe in themselves and the tragedy turns to triumph.

Bubby: I think we could go on all day about what a moving and beautifully written novel Amy Harmon has created in A Different Blue. But don’t think it’s all violins and sunsets and self-discovery and emotion. It’s wickedly funny in bits as well. Just fantastic. A rare and well deserved 5 bubbles from me.

Sissy: We here at Bubble Bath Books are ultimately snark queens so we wouldn’t fully enjoy a story unless it was balanced with enough humor and sarcasm to make it real. This is another aspect of Amy Harmon’s writing genius. 5 giant, luminescent bubbles.

Bubby: We have a really special treat for Friday – an interview with the author herself. Don’t forget to pop by and have a look!

Click HERE to purchase A Different Blue by Amy Harmon from Amazon.com

 

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is a painting titled “The Shell Seekers”, painted by her father. Penelope has recently had a heart attack which has prompted her to take inventory of the many experiences she’s had in her richly unconventional life. As her father’s works have become popular and are now worth a fortune, Penelope’s children each have an idea as to what should be done with the beloved painting, none of which Penelope likes. As she reminisces she realizes the perfect solution – one that would have thrilled her father and one that warms her own heart.

 

 

 

Sissy:  The vague memory in my head was that I loved all of Rosamund Pilcher’s books, so I decided to review The Shell Seekers, which was one of her best sellers.  While I still think the book is very good, in re-reading it I found that some of the characters live a rather more morally Bohemian lifestyle than I had remembered.  Nothing spelled out or explicit–just mentioned as part of the story.  That having been said, Pilcher doesn’t shy away from the consequences of such a lifestyle–which include unplanned pregnancies, loveless marriages, and some lost chances for true love.

Bubby: La la la la gardening, la la la la sandy beaches, la la la sunshine breaking through clouds, la la la art and romance, la la la . . .

Sissy:  What are you doing, you crazy person?

Bubby: La la  . . . what? Oh! Sorry. I was immersed in my lovely little kitchen garden in the back of my tiny stone cottage in Cornwall. You know, in my dreams! I think we should add Cornwall to

the list of places we absolutely must visit before you are too old to journey, Sissy.

Sissy:  Well I’m so glad you haven’t been sipping the crazy sauce and are just doing your usual “Dame Bubby” dream world weirdness.  I am having a significant birthday soon, so feel free to send us to Cornwall post-haste!  However, I would be glad to not be there during World War II, as some of this book is.  No bombs or rationing, please darling.

Bubby: As much as I would love to whisk you away for your significant birthday (70 is the new 30, darling!) I am afraid all my money is currently going to pay the plumber who is at this moment filling my home with strange fumes and has turned off all my water. So if I get a little loopy today, it’s the plumber’s fault, ok? I am always shocked when I read WWII era books at the deprivations ordinary people had to suffer through. No gasoline, no sugar, no chocolate!!, no new clothes, make it all yourself or go without. I feel quite spoiled. The Shell Seekers moves seamlessly from the WWII era to modern-day (about 1984 or so).

Sissy:  Okay, so our main character Penelope is minding her own business and living her life in Cornwall, when she suffers a heart attack.  This is the beginning of her life story. And p.s., in the far-flung future when I turn 70, I will be the sexiest 70 yr old you’ve ever seen!  Any hoodle, Penelope’s 3 children appear and we get to know all about them and their lives.  Two of them are completely selfish and bratty, and the other is at least a functional and compassionate adult.  Each chapter is named after a character in the book, and the reader gets to travel back and forth through time and enjoy the ins and outs of the family saga.  There is a lovely little art mystery woven in there as well.

Bubby: While I was reading this earlier in the week, one of my teenagers was giving me grief and I was getting rather annoyed. And then I read more about Noel and Nancy and Olivia, Penelope’s children, and suddenly my kid didn’t seem so bad!

Sissy:  No, your kids are not greedy, backstabbing monsters who think they are entitled to everything and want to do nothing to earn it.

Bubby: Thank you, Sissy! I was appalled at the behavior of the so-called adults in this tale. At least Olivia had some sense and feeling and it was obvious that she was her mother’s favorite. My favorite characters, at least two of them, were Antonia and Danus. They were so sweet to Penelope and so in love and deserved all the good things that happened to them!

Sissy:  A sweeping saga of family, love, and history, The Shell Seekers is good for an afternoon or two of getaway-ing.  I give it 3.75 bubbles.  And now I want to watch the movie!

Bubby: And it’s been made into not one, but two movies! One in 1989 starring Angela Lansbury as Penelope and one in 2006 starring Vanessa Redgrave, both of which were well rated (but 2006 sounds better). I can see a movie and popcorn night in mine and Sissy’s future! 3.5 bubbles.


The Woodcutter family has seven daughters, each named after a day of the week. The youngest, Sunday, has a hard time living up to the exploits of the other 6. Her only comfort is writing stories in her secret retreat down by the water – even though what she writes often comes true. One day she meets an enchanted frog who, unlike everyone else, is interested in her beloved stories. They become friends and soon Sunday’s feelings turn to love.  One night she kisses him goodbye and goes home and true love’s kiss turns Rumbold back into a man – who happens to be the prince of the land. Now Rumbold hopes to woo Sunday into loving him as a man, just as she loved him as a frog. But the path of love never runs smoothly and both the Woodcutters and the royal family have many secrets in their histories. Can Sunday and Rumbold overcome their pasts and the magic forces pitted against them and form a beautiful new future together?

Bubby: The part I like most in this book is that Alethea Kontis drew aspects from pretty much every fairytale ever. However, the part I liked least in this book is that the author drew aspects from pretty much every fairytale ever.  We have Jack and the Beanstalk, the enchanted dancing shoes, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and most importantly for this novel, the Frog Prince. It’s all very well done but it gets a bit confusing. The biggest irritation for me is that the writing that Alethea Kontis does is so very good and I feel that there needs to be more of her and less of everyone else. I am excited to read something from her that is hers alone and has no borrowing.

Sissy:  In a rare and alternate universe sort of way, I agree with Bubby!  Alethea had so much going on here (she even says herself that this book came from a story writing challenge to use every possible fairytale reference) that I sometimes felt it took away genuine feeling from the characters and story.  I did love many of the references, especially the sister who ran away with the pirate king, but the sister who danced herself to death was too much.  And the poor mom suffered guilt and pain because of all the dumb fairy tale references that impacted her life.  I liked the main character, Sunday,and her friendship with the frog prince seemed genuine.

Bubby: How would it be to have 7 girls – and a few boys – with all the girls named after the days of the week? The depictions of each child are so rich and detailed – everyone has their own unique interests and abilities. For instance, Sunday’s ability is that what she writes down has a tendency to come true. And when Sunday’s mother speaks, people have to do what she says. I know that there are lots of bad karma-y things that come out of having special powers and such but I think that it would be worth it sometimes. Can you imagine? I say “Sissy! Buy me a fabulous lunch!” and lo and behold, she goes forth and procures me something yummy. Or “Disobedient teenage child! Clean the bathroom!” and poof – clean bathrooms! I am sure that I would only use this power for good and it should be granted unto me by my fairy godmother immediately.

Sissy:  If I could, I would grant you that power, although I would probably almost immediately regret it!  My favorite character in the book was Sunday’s fairy foundling brother Twix–their relationship was delightful, and he was delightful!  Honestly, sometimes I got confused over which day of the week sister was who, and what fairytale we were referencing at any given moment.  It was weird how I liked finding new tales, but then I didn’t.  The woodcutter dad was a great guy, and the fairy godmothers were well-depicted.  So I guess I am of two minds concerning this book.  It was a good, magical story, but sometimes confusing and disjointed.  Alethea Kontis has many moments of beautiful, prosaic writing, but other times, I felt a “clunk.”

Bubby: I loved Twix as well. He was the perfect fairy – childlike, capricious and kind. He reminded me of my own dear younger brother who is so sweet and loving and funny that he’s almost too good to be true.

Sissy:  What have you been smoking?  Or is there something that went on while I was away at college that I was never told about?  You are the youngest child, and none of your older brothers would appreciate being described as “sweet, loving, and funny.”  They would say “grrr” and hit you with a pair of deer antlers.

Bubby: Well, I DID say he was too good to be true. Oh, well. I enjoyed the “Wizard of Oz” -esque relationship between the two fairy godmothers; one good and one evil. Interesting how sisters are often portrayed that way in fairy tales. Hmm . . .

Sissy:  When in reality sisters are usually a mix of good and evil, except in our case, where good prevails, mostly.  So, all in all, this book was good, in a weird way, but still good. I want to see more of Alethea Kontis’ writing.  I give it 3 wands, no, golden balls, no, dancing slippers, no, magic beans, no, pumpkins, no…BUBBLES.

Bubby: I really enjoyed most parts of Enchanted. The basic storyline was great, the characterizations were really well done and there was magic and princes and beautiful ball gowns. I give it 3 ½ bubbles and I am definitely going to read the sequel, Hero, which comes out soon.

Click HERE to buy Enchanted by Alethea Kontis at BookDepository.com

Click HERE to buy Enchanted by Alethea Kontis at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


Elantris was once the capital city of Arelon, a beautiful city filled with benevolent godlike beings. Each of these beings had been an ordinary human until they were transformed by the magical power of the Shaod. But 10 years ago the magic failed. Elantrians became misshapen and wizened, not quite dead but not quite living anymore and the city itself became a filthy crumbling ruin. Now there is a new capital city, Kae, which sits in the shadow of Elantris. A new princess is coming to marry Crown Prince Raoden but before she can arrive, Raoden is stricken down by the curse of the Shaod. He is secretly exiled to Elantris while his father tells everyone that he has died. But Raoden will not give up hope. Why did the magic fail? Can Elantris be saved? Raoden will do all he can to find answers.

Sissy:  This was Bubby’s Friday Favorites pick, and I was not happy about it for a couple of reasons.  Number one was the fact that I don’t generally like this sort of fantasy, number two is that my two teenage boys loved this book and that can be a telling thing, and number three is that it is over 500 pages long and at page 476 I turn into a picture-book loving toddler.
Bubby:  You do know, dear Sissy, that I picked this book specifically in protest against your Lois Lowry books.  I figured if you could choose a Friday Favorite I didn’t like,  I could choose one you didn’t like, and the world would be in balance.  You do have to admit, Sissy, that Brandon Sanderson’s writing is beautiful. Can’t you just SEE the city of Elantris? Gorgeous.
Sissy:  I wouldn’t say his writing is beautiful.  I would say it is interesting and descriptive and very good if you like this sort of thing.  However, just to highlight my maturity as compared to yours, I did find the storyline to be very engaging, and enjoyed the book more than I thought I would.  The descriptions of the cities and people are well done, but this is also the genesis of my dislike for this genre–too much description.  Too many new cultures, languages, people, words, blah blah blah…when you have to give all the things a new name (can you just say “I ate a fish” instead of saying “ I ate a tutakara fish from the purple violet waters in the lake of zootuzinga where the ssassa people who came down from the great Hunbun mountains of the North singing and dancing the ritual clangaclanga dance of fertility, which involves intricate tattoos shaped like Ululanga birds.”) anyway, you get my drift.  It gives me a headache.
Bubby: Wow. Well, now you’ve scared all our readers into thinking that Brandon Sanderson writes like an encyclopedia on an acid trip. The true difference is this – would you rather read something that begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.” or something more like “The skies above Bellangia were full of black menacing clouds that threatened to release a drenching rain upon our heads as we ran towards the safety of the  . . .” you get the picture. It’s a word painting – a description of life and culture and surroundings in a place that you have never been. It’s no different than having to learn the words and names in a book set in India or Russia. Bah! Now I have a headache!
Sissy:  Kind of like how you scared our readers into thinking Lois Lowry’s beautiful writing is like the death throes of dark and dangerous dystopia?  And by the time I figure out who is from where and what language they’re speaking and what color their hair is, I wish the black, menacing clouds would release a drenching rain upon my head!  However, after having waded through the multifaceted ethnicological descriptions in this book, I liked the story.  I wanted to know what happened.  Did the prince escape, find happiness and love, restore peace to the countryside, convert to Shu-Kudaraism?  Yes, fair bubby, I wanted to paint myself silver and find out!
Bubby: Rant and rave much, Sissy? I am thinking that perhaps we should add a new segment to our blog – we could call it “Tuesday Tirades” and feature books I love and you hate.  I suppose we could do it the other way around, too, just to be fair.  But enough quibbling–back to the book.  My favorite character is Princess Sarene.   According to their culture, she should be a meek, mild, quiet recluse who spends her days painting, doing needlework, or engaging in other delicate, feminine arts.  But she is not content to languish in the shadows, but rather wants to take an active role in life and in the government and not just look pretty.
Sissy:  My favorite character is Uncle Kiin, who has a huge pirate axe and knows how to use it.  Also he cooks.  Sarene is an awesome example of true, powerful womanhood, and is well-matched with prince Raoden, who is the perfect balance of brave and smart, yet kind and compassionate.  Too bad he has been overcome by the Shaod and has rotting patches of skin and all his hair fell out.  Kind of a lust buster, don’t you think?  All in all, the book was better than what I expected for a windbag, over 600 page tome, and I get how the fantasy world geekmeisters like Brandon Sanderson’s stuff.  I give it a solid 3 bubbles.
Bubby: Elantris is fabulous! An exotic world, new and fascinating religions and cultures, magic, romance, it’s all there! How Sissy only finds it worthy of 3 bubbles, I’ll never know. Must be early onset dementia. Elantris is an engaging story set in a richly detailed world and I love it. LOVE IT! 5 bubbles. Yep, I said 5. Now go read it!

Click HERE to buy Elantris at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy Elantris at BookDepository.com


Kate Robinson, a 26 year old fashion designer, is overwhelmed with heartbreak and loss.  Hoping to find new purpose in her life, she flees to her ancestral home of Ireland.  By luck or by fate, she finds what she’s looking for in the seaside village of Glenmara, where she is taken in by the newly widowed Bernie.  Bernie introduces Kate to the members of the local lace making society, each with their own troubles and secret yearnings.  With Kate’s help they begin work on a new line of exquisite lace lingerie, and their skilled hands create flowers, dragons, nymphs, fish, and other beautiful, wearable works of art.  Hands thus occupied, their hearts begin to heal as well.  And outside this new circle Kate finds a love interest in  local artist Sullivan Deane, an enigmatic man trying to overcome a tragedy of his own. Not everyone welcomes Kate, though, and happy endings don’t come to all.  Will a series of unexpected unravel everything the women have worked so hard for?

Bubby: Ah, Ireland! The green hills, the quaint villages, the neighborly people with fab accents! How I have missed dear Ireland!
Sissy:  Well dear bubby Kathleen O’Sullivan, who in her dreams rotates between having tea and crumpets in a quaint English village and picking shamrocks on a wind-swept green hill in Ireland, since you have never actually been to Ireland, I suspect you’ve been eating too much lucky charms cereal and using Irish Whiskey instead of milk!  I Do want to go to Ireland, and the setting for this book, Glenmara, sounds like a lovely place to land.
Bubby:  It’s genetic memory, my darling sister–I can dream, right?  Going to Ireland, the home of her ancestors, has always been a dream of Kate Robinson but I don’t think she thought she’d end up making lacy lingerie in Glenmara. How scandalous!
Sissy:  Scandalous my eye!  You readers should just see the collection of lacy scandal that Bubby owns!  She would swim to Ireland to get her hands on some of those confections to add to her drawer of delectables.  I  understand how making beautiful, personal items might be just the thing to make women feel strong and empowered.  This book reminded me of a Maeve Binchy read where you get into the lives and stories of several people and become emotionally invested.  It was lovely, engaging writing on the part of Heather Barbieri.
Bubby: I can neither acknowledge or deny the above accusations. The contents of my dresser are classified! I do think that with Sissy’s birthday (and it’s a big one!) looming just over the horizon, this is the perfect time to purchase something special and lacy for her. Hmmm . . .I have some shopping to do! I loved how the townswomen of Glenmara (for the most part) opened their arms and hearts to Kate. The story is a good lesson on acceptance, both of newcomers and of the changes that inevitably happen in life. I must say that I would love to learn the art of lace making. I think it would be wonderful to know how to create such beautiful stuff. I am afraid that I don’t have the patience for it though – so I will stick to making lace out of icing and fondant – it’s easier and you can eat it after!
Sissy:  Don’t you dare waste money on that frippery for me–you know I won’t wear it.  My skin is in a delicate state right now and only tolerates high-tech soft cotton-like moisture-wicking fabrics.  I say hurrah to anyone who wants to wear it, though.  Wear away, and feel gorgeous!  I like how in The Lace Makers of Glenmara there is a subtext about the culture and way of life that is being lost, and that many in the village had a desire to preserve it–specifically the lace making and the Gaelic language.  Bernie, the kind widow who sort of adopts Kate, puts out a Gaelic language newsletter. It not only preserves the language, but also is quite witty and humorous.
Bubby: Yes, I love the crime blotter feature – hilarious!
Sissy:  There is also a delicious romance brewing between Kate and a man she meets and quite dislikes at first.  I’m thinking he sort of looks like Gerard Butler or a young Aiden Quinn.  There are all sorts of obstacles in their way, of course, but life is like that, right?  This novel is full of reality, and doesn’t dodge life’s hardships in the way a more fluffy novel might.  While I certainly am not in line asking for more hardships, I do understand that they make the good things better and more appreciated, and this book reflects that.
Bubby: I love that the women of Glenmara were able to not only help Kate heal, and heal themselves but also revitalize the economy of the town in the process. Who knew Irish lace undies would be all the rage? The Lace Makers of Glenmara is a cozy book about love, friendship and life. This is one that I actually did read in my bathtub and it was a perfect fit. 3 ½ lacy, frothy bubbles.
Sissy:  The writing in this book flowed beautifully and therefore was a joy to read.  One of those books that I read in two sittings whilst ignoring the general populace of my domicile.  I give it 4 ½ flowing bubbles.

Click HERE to buy The Lace Makers of Glenmara from Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy The Lace Makers of Glenmara from BookDepository.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


This week instead of a Friday Favorites we shall give you a teaser of great things to come!  On Wednesday, March 27th, catch our review of a new novel by one of our very favorite up-and-coming authors, Amy Harmon (the Purgatory series and Running Barefoot…).  Her new book, A Different Blue, is set to be released on March 29th, and while we don’t want to spoil the review, we will say that Ms. Harmon’s latest is FANTASTIC writing.  Some people in the world are just blessed to be beautiful wordsmiths, and she is one of them!  We will also be privileged to interview this author, and it will be included in our review–lucky us, and lucky you!  Don’t miss it!

Bubby and Sissy

©Bubble Bath Books 2013


 

Two-legged “Wolves” redistributing the wealth of noble citizens who pass through the forest, a princess who has hung up her dancing shoes and donned a red, hooded cloak, and grannies who turn out to be more evil than kindly–all these add up to a mashup of Robin Hood, Red Riding Hood, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses with some new twists, villains, and heroes added in for good measure.  Princess Petunia finds out that wolves can be rakishly handsome and very helpful in vanquishing evil kings and ending family curses.

 

 

 

Sissy:  This is a delightful conclusion to the Princess series by Jessica Day George, wherein she weaves several different fairy tales throughout her own version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  I was trying to read a different book altogether but couldn’t get into it, so I cast it aside and started on this one.  No problems whatsoever getting into it!
Bubby: Don’t be alarmed that this is the third in a series. Princess of Glass and Princess of the Midnight Ball are fabulous and if you haven’t read them, then get to the bookstore or the library and read them right now! But reading them is not necessary to enjoy Princess of the Silver Woods. It functions quite well as a stand alone novel.  In the kingdom of Westfalia, the king and queen were blessed with not one, not two but TWELVE daughters. No sons. Because of the queen’s love of gardening and flowers, each daughter was given the name of a flower – Rose, Hyacinth, Poppy,Lily, Jonquil, Iris, Lilac, Violet, Pansy, Daisy, Orchid, and Petunia – the heroine of our story.
Sissy:  But no Princess Buttercup, alas.
Bubby: That’s already been done, Sissy. I can lend you that book if you’d like . . .
Sissy:  Every time you write lengthy paragraphs and then cut me off after one bitty sentence I think that you must have a novel in you, Bubby, that’s just oozing and bubbling to get out.  Write it, already, and we’ll have a blog tour and spend all your money!
Bubby: Nope. No novel here. I just enjoy being obnoxious from time to time. Love you!
Sissy:  And you are a professional!  I liked the villains in this story–they are utterly creepy–and the whole Kingdom Under Stone is described in such a way as to totally creep me out with its creeptasticness.  Cold, with the colors of bruises, and everything fake and itchy and twitchy, the whole place and its inhabitants are creepalicious.  No wonder it sucks the very life out of the princesses who come from a place of sunlight and warmth.  Also we have some very dashing and unconventional heroes to give us hope.
Bubby: I am sure that there’s some fantastically erudite parallel to be made here about light and darkness and evil and good and such but who cares? It’s a great story! I get tired of namby pamby pampered princesses who wait upon their handsome princes to ride up and save the day. Get off your butt and save your own dang day! That is what these girls do. In the first chapter of Princess of the Silver Woods, the leader of the local bandits (catchingly called the Wolves of the Westfalian Woods) attempts to rob Petunia – till she pulls out a pistol and tells him if he doesn’t back off he will get it! Right in the eye! You go girl! Sissy:  Why did you not enlighten us, oh queen of erudition?  Here–I’ll help.  Light, sun, warmth=good and happycakes; Dark, cold, hard=evil, rotten and suck festival.  And yes–these princesses are pistol-packin’ mamas and they know what to do with em!  Also handy with sharp, silver knitting needles.  I appreciate the way Jessica Day George uses many and varied fairy tale devices throughout this tale, and does it with wit and imagination to spare.
Bubby: I love almost all the characters in these tales – even the evil ones, but I must admit that I was not fond of King Gregor this time around. Why, you ask? Well, it’s because when . . . like I’d actually spoil the fun! Let’s just say that I don’t agree with everything he does. You’ll see what I’m talking about when you get there. But I do LOVE Jessica Day George. Not only does she write these yummy fairy tale remixes but she also has several books for the younger set that are wildly entertaining. And I know her. Yep. We’re like best buddies and stuff. Kinda. Ok, well, I know someone who knows her. And she said hello to me on Facebook once. That counts, right? Whatever. She’s a talented writer and I like her books. Although I do wish that this royal family had a last name – how cool would it be to have characters named Petunia, Pansy and Poppy Postlethwaite? If I ever do write a novel, my main character will be named Poppy Postlethwaite. Yep.
Sissy:  I’m telling you, Bubs, you need to get right on that.  And what is Queen Elizabeth’s last name?  Windsor?  People like that don’t have to bother with inane subjects like surnames.  Just call me “Your Majesty,” and that’s all I need.  “Your Eminence” has a nice ring to it, though.  Possibly  “One True Empress?” No matter what you call me, you can rest assured that I have good taste in books, and this one is a winner.  Read it, and have a mini getaway to the Kingdom of Westfalia.  The One True Empress pronounces it to be a 4 bubble read.
Bubby: Yes, your Royal High Maintenanceness. I agree, it is a great book. 4 ½ privileged and royal bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Princess of the Silver Woods at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


 

Quiet, young inspector Thomas Pitt finds more than he’s bargained for when he investigates the murder of a maid in the upper class Ellison household.  The Ellison girls, proper Victorian ladies, are not happy with Pitt’s intense questioning, and the fact that he finds no one to be above suspicion.  While some of the household’s composed facades begin to crumble, Pitt finds himself admiring the level-headed and very pretty Charlotte Ellison. But how can he think of a romance between a society girl like her and a lowly police inspector like himself?  It seems impossible, especially in the midst of a murder….

 

Sissy:  The first book in this series, “The Cater Street Hangman,” was published in 1979, and the latest, “Midnight at Marble Arch,” was published in September of 2012.  With 27 novels in the collection, I believe this is the longest sustained mystery series by a living writer.  I don’t know when I read the first one, but they just kept getting better.  I like these mysteries because:   they are complex–exploring the relationships, pressure, and change associated with an investigation; because the interactions between Pitt and Charlotte are genuine and appealing; because the society and landscape of Victorian London is fascinating and well described by Anne Perry.

Bubby: Just one question here, Sissy. You know all the crap you give me about my love of “cozy mysteries”? How is this series not classified as a cozy mystery? Just because one of the main characters is a policeman? What makes your cozy mysteries better than my cozy mysteries? Huh? Huh?

Sissy: Easy answer, ma petite soeur.  Inspector Pitt, by definition, is an inspector of murder mysteries, wherever they occur in London.  Murders happen lots more in London than in random villages and burgs, and Thomas Pitt is called to the scene whether he wants to be summoned or not.  So different than “owner of bake shop happens upon murders regularly in town of only 20,000 (apparently quite violent) people.”  If I was the star of my own cozy mystery, it would have to be about road kill, cuz I seen a lot of thems.

Bubby: Fine. I still say it counts. But I am just the little sewer and you are the big sewer so you must be right! I finished Cater Street Hangman last night in a Nyquil induced haze. I had trouble getting into it at first but by the end I quite enjoyed it. Just as I was beginnning to be incredibly annoyed with the double standards and social politics of Victorian England, dear Charlotte opened her socially inappropriate mouth and made it all better. I love how Anne Perry is able to create social commentary in her characters, just like a modern day Jane Austen. Every time I read something set in this time period I am grateful that I was born now. I fear that unless I had met someone like Pitt that I would have been doomed to an unsavory marriage – I am not known for my diplomacy. Of course, Sissy would have been right there with me!

Sissy: My husband likes me like this. And he might inscribe my favorite phrase on my tombstone: “You’re not the boss of me!”. The thing about the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery series is that each one is unique and refreshing. I enjoy how Thomas is able to use Charlotte’s connections in many different ways to help solve murders. She has dozens of aptly placed relatives (including her sister, Lady Ashworth) who come in quite handy.

Bubby: These mysteries have humor, wit, and personal interaction balanced with just enough dark and creepy and scary to catch the reader’s interest and hold it all the way through the novel. One of the curses of my immense intelligence is that I often know “whodunit” long before the end of the novel. Whilst reading Cater Street Hangman, I was SURE I knew the culprit about 6 times. It wasn’t until the very end, when it became blatantly obvious, that I was anywhere near correct. Well done, Anne Perry. Well done.

Sissy: Yes, with immense intelligence comes immense responsibility, Bubby. I think your responsibility is to take your immense intelligence and make immense amounts of money and share it with me. Thank you very much. Also, I was thinking about sisters with connections and I realized that you have a great connection because you live next to the Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake shop owner. Now where are my cakebites? Anne Perry has also written a darker mystery series starring Inspector Monk, which are quite good plus several Christmas novellas, children’s books and a more Christian based series about World War I. All worth a look, I’d say.

Bubby: Her life story is extremely interesting as well. If you click on the cover pictured above it will take you to Anne Perry’s website. Also check out her biography which came out last year. Fascinating. Great writer, great series. 4 1/2 bubbles.

Sissy: Anne Perry really gets into the subconscious of her characters and gives you great depth in motivation and why people do what they do and think what they think, all in an entertaining and captivating package. I get the feeling that she truly understands human nature. 4 1/2 bubbles from me too.

Click HERE to buy The Cater Street Hangman at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013