Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Vancy Salo’s Hungarian grandma has cursed her family. And Vancy is the latest victim. She has been left at the altar and the press is fascinated with this story of love gone wrong because of Grandma’s curse. Vancy has always said she doesn’t believe in the curse, but now that she is groom-less and being chased by reporters, she might be changing her mind. When she takes refuge at Matthew Wilde’s home, she never could imagine that soon they’d be sharing the house with Matt’s four-year-old twin nephews. Two little boys, reporters galore, lots of meddling family and a curse? Sounds like the perfect recipe for love.

Sissy:  This book is not for the overly sophisticated, or those who think they are.  It is a sweet love story that is funny in parts and definitely has a happy ending.  I like the little Hungarian grandma’s curse twist, and I like the heroine’s name–Vancy Salo.  Vancy gets jilted at the altar, and the press thinks it is because of Nana Salo’s curse.  Is it? Or does it just end up being good luck on Vancy’s part?  You shall see!

Bubby: Sometimes a book will just catch my eye. I was at the library with my horde and was looking for something light and funny to amuse myself with while the kids picked books for themselves. And there on the shelf was Everything but a groom. (As well as the rest of the books in the Everything But series.) You see, Nana Salo thought that she had been left at the altar and being part Gypsy, she cursed her fiance’s family to never have a beautiful, happy wedding. But then her fiance showed up after all and so now the curse is on her own family. After her marriage she was able to amend the curse to say that no one in the Salo family will ever have love as long as they care more about the wedding than about their love and marriage. So when Vancy plans this big beautiful wedding, Nana is concerned. As well she should be!

Sissy:  Okay, this book reminds me of the old  romances I used to read in the summers when we went to visit great Aunt Eva.  She had an a-frame house in the mountains and up in the loft where I slept there were shelves and shelves of romance paperbacks.  Except for being a little more modern, this book takes me right back to those great days.  The other books in the series are Everything But A Bride, Everything But A Wedding, Everything But A Christmas Eve, Everything But A Mother, and Everything But A Dog.  I have not read the others–have you, my dear sister?

Bubby: I have read the first three but not the rest. I will have to remedy that! I loved the family relationships in these books. The Salos own a large construction firm and it seems that every member of the family is involved in some way. There are lots of family dinners and get-togethers and it just seems so nice and idyllic. Our leading man, Matthew Wilde, has the complete opposite family. Divorced parents and a brother that can’t quite seem to get his life right. Can you imagine, Sissy, if I had indulged in a few flings here and there and suddenly showed up on your doorstep with twin boys I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) care for anymore? Gave them to you and then took off again? This is what happens to Matt. Suddenly, he is in charge of two delightfully naughty boys – oh, and Vancy is hiding at his house because the press won’t leave her alone!

Sissy:  Well, I would take your boys, give you a swift kick in the hiney, and rearrange my life.  This seems to be one of the more boring of our blogs, but I don’t have much to say about this book.  It fits into that “light, fun, summer romance” category, and it is a good and necessary category, but doesn’t necessarily inspire great commentary.  Holly Jacobs fills an important niche for those of us who love a nice love story once in a while but don’t like the excess steaminess that is found in most contemporary romances.  I was perusing the cheap and free books on my kindle the other day and a majority of them are ultra sexual smut machine romances–word porn.  Not for me.

Bubby: I agree. Sweet, clean romance is what I am looking for. Not really interested in reading about other people’s intimate encounters! I really enjoyed my foray into Holly Jacob’s Everything But series. Fun, entertaining and heartwarming.

Sissy:  A book series perfect for a day like today–sunny, with a cool breeze.  Go outside and pop yourself into a comfy chair in the shade and have a lovely little read.  3.5 Bubbles.

Bubby: I’m thinking a hammock and some lemonade! 3.5 bubbles from me too.

Iolanthe MacLeod has waited centuries to be rescued from her half-life existence. She has been trapped in an abandoned castle on the English moors since her untimely death back in 1382 and she is sure she will be there forever. Thomas McKinnon is a modern-day American business tycoon who is jaded by the lack of love in his life. When he buys Iolanthe’s abandoned castle and travels to England to restore it, he is totally unprepared to find Iolanthe in residence. But he was even more unprepared to fall in love. Now Thomas is willing to go anywhere and do anything if it means he and Iolanthe might somehow be together.

Bubby: I have no fewer than 12 Lynn Kurland books on my shelves at this very moment. That should tell you something right off the bat. I’m not sure what it is about these books – the settings of lonely castles on Scottish or English coasts or moors, the spunky women who usually do not wait around to be rescued or the hunky renaissance-era, broadsword toting, chivalrous men. Perhaps it’s the overriding air of delicious romance. Who knows? At any rate, My Heart Stood Still embodies the best of Lynn Kurland. We’ve got ghosts. Time travel. True love. Castles and hunky men. I’m happy.

Sissy:  I, being the lucky sister who has access to Bubby’s bookshelves, have also read a lot of these time-travel, paranormal romances by Lynn Kurland.  They fit a specific reading mood for me, and I can always count on them to give me action, laughs, and a delicious love story.  This one in particular has a fun twist with the time travel going in a different direction than usual.  Also the hero is not a sweaty, foul-breathed dude from the 14th century who has to learn to wash himself regularly–always a plus for me.

Bubby: Nope. The hero, Thomas, is a thoroughly modern businessman with a broken heart. Irresistible! A recurring theme in Kurland’s books is a little bed and breakfast in England called the Boar’s Head Inn. It happens to be owned by Thomas’ sister, Megan. It also happens to be heavily populated with ghosts from Thomas and Megan’s ancestry. Some of them are English, some Scottish, there’s a random French guy in there and they don’t exactly get along. My favorite scenes are the interaction between the ghosts – duels in the kitchen, song and ale fests and so forth. They are just hilarious. These ghosts have decided to take the fate of their descendants into their own hands – matchmaking is their favorite activity (just after sword fighting).

Sissy:  Love the tavern ghosts!  They remind me of all my male relatives.  I know why you love these books, Bubby, when you usually turn up your nose at historical romance.  Our ancestry is English, Welsh, Scottish, and French, and you are having genetic remembrance–your very DNA is pulling you with longing to those damp and cloudy surroundings and begging you to have a cuppa.  I would like to address this series as a whole, however.  Actually there are two time-travel romance series’ by Kurland – the McLeod series and the de Piaget series.  They often intersect.  Lots of romance, time travel, broadsword slinging and throwing into dungeon pits.  Most all of these are clean, but a very few push the line.  I can’t say which ones as my brain is too moldery to remember.  But mostly the whole collection is great.  Bubby says I’m writing a novel here so I have to stop before she chokes on a hairball.

Bubby: A hairball? Really? Heavens. I would agree that the settings do appeal to me but what appeals even more, especially in My Heart Stood Still, is the willingness of these characters to go to any length for true love. Travel through time with no guarantee that you’ll end up in the right time? Fighting to the death with unfamiliar weapons? Leaving all that you know behind to live in the time of your beloved? Sure, no problem. True love conquers all. Now I do love my husband with every fiber of my being but if he wanted me to go live in 1385 with no running water or toilet facilities and no chocolate and no books and music on demand I might have an issue. Thankfully I don’t see that kind of test of our love happening anytime soon!

Sissy: Oh pshaw, Bubby, you’d jump right into the past to get your hubby, I just know it!  Your teeth would all rot out and you’d get a communicable disease or two, but still!  Toothless and scabby are worth it for true love, right?  Nobody seems to be as in love with our ghostly heroine Iolanthe as they are with Thomas, but after so many centuries in a damp and decrepit semi-final  resting place, she probably has developed a borderline personality disorder.  She just needs some therapy and a few Xanax.  I liked her.  I liked the whole book.

Bubby: Great books for when you need a little romantic escape. It’s been a bit since I read one – methinks I might indulge a little this evening! I give My Heart Stood Still 3 ½ light and fluffy medieval bubbles. Did they even have bubble bath? Ah, who cares!

Sissy:I have a better idea for you, Bubby. Why don’t you buy Lynn Kurland’s latest book and then lend it to me? 3 ½ bubbles from me too.

Click HERE to buy My Heart Stood Still by Lynn Kurland

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Lacy Steele has moved back home and into Grandma’s house. She has no job, no friends and no fiance – since her sister stole him. When someone she loves is accused of murder, Lacy decides she won’t give up until the real murderer is found. As she digs deeper into the case, she finds out alarming family secrets. Add to that her growing attractions to both football star turned cop Jason and newcomer Tosh, Lacy is in over her head.

Sissy:  Bubby was skeptical when I told her to read this book.  Actually she was rude and sarcastic, bringing up my past dissing of cozy murder series’, and I had to say to her, “forget the past, forget the unreality of the same person constantly finding dead bodies in their small town, just read the book because it is good, and stop disrespecting your elder.”  Bubby quieted down and read the book.  Then she texted me something like “you are a bad influence.”  I didn’t know which of the many possibilities she was referring to, but when asked, she replied “ I am addicted.  I read all the books in the series.”  I gloated.

Bubby: Fabulous books. My teenage daughter and I positively devoured them. Am I glad that Sissy found them? Absolutely. Do I think this absolves her from her cozy murder mystery bashing of the past? Not in the least. Double standard, anyone? I guess I will let it go, just this once. But only because I am so glad to have found an author as entertaining as Vanessa Gray Bartal. A few weeks ago on American Idol (yes, I’m addicted to that, too) the song category was “songs you wished you had written”. Morning Cup of Murder is the book that I wish I had written. It’s jaw-breakingly hilarious, sarcastic and has a great plot.

Sissy:  Our heroine, Lacy Steele, is a former brace-faced band geek who has blossomed into a lovely woman.  That she doesn’t realize how attractive she is makes her all the more endearing.  She is smart but dorky, beautiful and curvy but uncoordinated, and reminds me of my sister, Bubby.

Bubby: Aww, Sissy, thanks! I think you are dorky and uncoordinated too!

Sissy: Fie!  I am so coordinated it’s sick!

Bubby: Whatever, Sissy. Anyway. I know that there are people out there that dream about going back to their hometown and showing all their old high school nemisis how wonderful they turned out and all. I am not one of these – and neither is Lacy. Going back home was never in her plans. Of course, having her sister steal her fiance wasn’t in her plans either. She loved the big city life of New York and having to fit back into a small town where EVERYONE knows your business is difficult at best for her. To add insult to injury, she has to move in with Grandma – a wonderful woman who loves and nurtures her family with large doses of sugar and butter. I can relate!

Sissy:  There are 4 more books in this series (Building Blocks of Murder, A Family Case of Murder, Arch Enemy of Murder, and Class Reunion of Murder), and all are worth a read.  There is also a Christmas novella, Christmas Steele, which I haven’t read yet but Bubby says was a little slice of Lacy Steele fun.  The author, Vanessa Gray Bartal, is self-published and has written over 50 books. Again, I ask what is wrong with those publishing companies?  Am I missing something?  They could do with more books like this and less smut fest fare like 50 Shades of Grey.   I will be trying her other books, count on it!  I will suspend my intellectual block about cozy mysteries for this one author!  One time only!  Unless I change my mind!

Bubby: I agree with Sissy – publishers take note! Vanessa Gray Bartal needs a contract and a large advance immediately! Maybe Sissy and I should form our own publishing firm and snatch up all these gems. Wish I could! In Morning Cup of Murder, our delightful heroine Lacy forms two connections right off the bat. One with new-to-town pastor Tosh and another with former high school football star Jason, whom she has known since a little before forever. The interplay between these three characters is nothing less than brilliant. So much fun to read. I wanted to climb into the book and be friends with these people, just so that I could be a part of their conversations!

Sissy:  Wait!  We could call our publishing company Bubble Bath Books!  I could get a face-lift and be on the Ellen show! As for climbing into the book and being friends with the characters–well, they are well-formed, but I think Bubby needs some therapy and face-time with real people.  Its healthier.

Bubby: Just going to ignore that one, Sissy. Yep. Ignoring you. La La La La La I can’t hear you La La La La . . .

Sissy:  Like I said…therapy.

Bubby: Still ignoring you . . .I highly recommend that all our readers put down whatever they are doing and rush to purchase Morning Cup of Murder. (It’s only 99 cents at Amazon. Totally a bargain!) And then buy everything else in the series. Loved them all. 4 ½ bubbles.

Sissy:  Great book, fun series, remember who found ’em first.  4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Morning Cup of Murder at

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Bubby and Sissy regret to inform our dear readers that we will not be posting any reviews this week due to a death in the family. Thanks for visiting us and please come back and see us next week!

Christmas was once the best time of the year for Joy Candellaro. But as the holiday draws near this year, she can’t find it in her heart to celebrate. Recently divorced and betrayed by her sister, she feels totally alone. She decides to just disappear for a while, to a remote destination in the Pacific Northwest. But life has a way of changing one’s plans. Soon Joy will begin an adventure no one could have forseen – one that could change her life forever. once loved Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she is at a crossroads in her life; recently divorced and alone, she can’t summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. When an unexpected detour takes her deep into the woods of the Olympic rainforest, Joy makes a bold decision to leave her ordinary life behind—to just walk away—and thus begins an adventure unlike any she could have imagined.

Bubby: Sometimes I read a book that just hits me right in the heart and it becomes an instant favorite – one I go back to and re-read often and one that I recommend often. This is one of those books for me. I just love love love it. It’s a magical story and it ends good and it just makes me happy.

Sissy:  I re-read this at Bubby’s behest because I couldn’t remember if I had read it or not.  As you can tell by the word “reread,” turns out I had read it and liked it some time ago.  The writing by Kristin Hannah is excellent, and this is underscored by the major plot twist that comes up mid-book of which I shall say nothing further.  Lovely, lovely love story, emotional tale of sadness and joy.  As the garage door repairman said today after telling me about how this week so far his truck has broken down, he broke his finger, and his tools all got stolen “without the bad things we wouldn’t appreciate the good things.”

Bubby: Yes, I could not agree more. Joy Candellaro is in desperate need of some comfort and joy in her life. She has to be – why else would she be desperate enough to hop on a chartered plane with a bunch of bearded hunters bound for the north of nowhere?

Sissy:  What happens in her personal life is horrible, and I think I would be tempted to do the exact same thing.  Actually, I probably would have reacted with more violence and mayhem and THEN hopped a plane to nowhere.  I sincerely hope I would be as forgiving as Joy if I was in such a situation.  I can’t imagine it, though.  I can only picture bloodshed…

Bubby: Well, as much as I love and adore your dear husband, I really don’t think you have to worry about us running off together. Icky. I’m not worried about you stealing my husband either – if only for the fact that he’s 3 feet taller than you and 20 years younger. Bad match there! Yes, readers, Joy’s sister and Joy’s husband have hooked up and left Joy in the dust. And oh yeah – the sister is pregnant. And did I mention that Joy has no children and would love to be a mom? I agree that getting on a plane is the best of the options!

Sissy:  Let’s clear some things up here.  A.  I am NOT 20 years older than Bubby’s husband, nor am I three feet shorter.  B.  I have spent the last 26 years training my husband to be just perfect and I’m certainly not going to start over on some interloper.  And now that Bubby has told you the beginning of the story, you can see why I might become violent in that same situation.  But the story just gets better from there.  Joy goes on to a whole different adventure, delves into the paranormal, and comes out in one piece at the end.

Bubby: The best part of Comfort and Joy is the sweet relationship that develops between Joy and little Bobby, the boy she meets after the plane trip. They just bond instantly – it’s like they can instantly fill the holes in each other’s hearts. It makes me remember when my boy was little and sweet. Ah, those were the days! But there is a problem – Bobby’s father Daniel is not as fond of Joy as Bobby is.

Sissy:  Bobby is adorable, but in his grief over losing his mother he suffers from some delusions.  But are they really delusions, I ask you?  And Daniel is described as a very fine looking Irishman (I’m thinking Gerard Butler in that role), who Joy finds herself very attracted to.  I admit I was nervous about Bobby getting so attached to Joy so fast, because I didn’t want him to suffer again if and when she left.  Now you are thinking you know how the rest of the story goes, but you are WRONG!  Just when you think you have it figured out, Kristin Hannah pulls a fast one out of left field and you don’t know what hit you.  Good stuff.

Bubby: Hey! I was going to say that!

Sissy:  Great minds…-

Bubby: Exactly. I have read this book on the couch by the tree at Christmas, on the beach in Hawaii and of course, in my bathtub and it never fails to make me smile. Pure magic. 4.25 bubbles.

Sissy:  I read it in my massage chair…I think this is a first class getaway read.  4 bubbles from the violent one.

Click HERE to buy Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah at

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Haven Terra is a smart, shy, unpopular high school student who doesn’t realize how great she really is.  But unlike your stereotypical teenager, Haven has something extraordinary about herself she doesn’t know.  It is not until she is awarded a prestigious internship at a glitzy new hotel in Chicago that she begins to see that things really aren’t what they seem.  What are the true motives of powerful and gorgeous hotel owner Aurelia Brown, her sexy second-in-command Lucian, and their strange and beautiful staff, The Outfit?  With the help of fellow interns Dante and Lance, Haven discovers a shocking underworld attached to the glamorous hotel and its denizens.  Will she possess the strength to thwart the ugly evil masquerading as beauty?  Will she be able to hang on to her own soul?

Sissy:  Bubby wasn’t sure about Illuminate because it has somewhat of a dark and devilish theme, so I read it, and in my infinite wisdom, decided it was a great book and most worthy of a review by our esteemed selves.  The theme of good versus evil is strong, and the reader definitely comes away with a moral message about which path would be best to take and why. No sex or f words either.

Bubby: If Sissy says it’s ok, then I must abide by her elderly wisdom. I mean, the wisdom of my elder. Something like that.

Sissy:  Hold on for a moment while I put in my dentures…

Bubby: Our main character is Haven Terra. She has always felt a little uneasy with her place in life because she was abandoned by the side of a road during the winter as a very small child. The nurse that cared for her in the hospital after she was found ended up adopting her and loves her very much but Haven still feels vaguely unworthy of that love. She is always striving to be the best at everything she does. Unfortunately, the best student at high school is rarely the most popular kid and, as for all teenagers, Haven craves a little of that popularity. So when she gets the opportunity to do an internship for it-girl Aurelia Brown at her swanky new hotel, she jumps at the offer.

Sissy:  What? Is it my turn?  Sorry, fell asleep for a minute…I know something of the stigma that goes along with being smart at school (none of your snark about how it’s easy to be the smart one in a class of 50, Bubbykins).  I remember wanting to be one of the “Beautiful People,” but it is so much more worthwhile when you just be yourself and rise to your potential.  I am so fulfilled now I think I should change my name to Haven Joyful Blessings.  I think that distills the essence of who I really am.  The real question I have for you, Bubby, is what do you want so badly, you would be willing to sell your soul to obtain it?

Bubby: Nothing. I am fulfilled just by being your sister and being able to bask in the angelic glow of your presence. Do you remember the old book by Oscar Wilde called The Picture of Dorian Gray? No? Well, go look it up. The premise is that Dorian Gray wanted eternal youth, so much so that he was willing to sell his soul to the devil. In return, Mr. Satan had Dorian’s portrait age instead of Dorian. Well guess what? One of Haven’s talents is photography. Her new boss Aurelia asks her to take photos of all the members of The Outfit to display in the art gallery. Interesting how these photos turned out . . .

Sissy:  Stop right there, spoiler girl.  The title of this book is Illuminate, and the significance of that becomes clear as you get into the story.  There is a lot to be illuminated in life, and it is too bad we don’t all have the talent of seeing or revealing things as they really are.  I would love to see some of Haven’s photographs of our nation’s politicians, for example.  Haven also learns to discern between true and false romantic feelings, and this is “illuminate”d in a sweet and lovely way towards the end.

Bubby: I have mixed feelings about Lucian. He is so yummy – the perfect tall, dark and handsome. He is suave and debonair and seems to think that Haven is just the right girl for him. He is WAY too good to be true. The problem is that even at the end of the book, when you know all there is to know about Lucian, you still don’t know. Is he good? Is he evil? How does he really feel about Haven? I just read the summary for book two, Infatuate, and he makes an appearance! I think he’s going to end up being that character that I love and hate in equal proportions, similar to Edward in Twilight.

Sissy:  Don’t like Edward, don’t like Lucian either.  Although you are right that Lucian is definitely not a black and white character.  I don’t like how he complicates things.  And the minute the author described his slicked back hair in the beginning of the book I knew I wouldn’t like him.  Never trust a man with slicked back hair, I always say.

Bubby: There is so much more I would like to say about Illuminate by Aimee Agasti but I don’t know how to without spoiling it all for everyone. It’s so filled with twisty plot lines and intriguing characters that I can’t say anymore. Just go read it.

Sissy:  Illuminate was surprisingly deep and captivating for a teen paranormal book.  I was confused by Bubby’s hesitance, but she can be a pinch-lipped prude at times, so I guess a book that has cameo appearances by the prince of darkness might make her shudder in her shorts.  I recommend this book, and I give it 4.5 bubbles.

Bubby: Yep. I’m a prude, yessirree! I suppose that’s why every time I crack a joke my teenager runs around with his hands clapped over his ears shouting “Inappropriate! Inappropriate! Mother!!”  It’s a dark book. There’s lots of dark stuff happening, including, yes, pop-ups from Satan. But it’s a good book and it has a great message and it’s a great read. 4.5 bubbles from me too.

Click HERE to buy Illuminate by Aimee Agasti at

© Bubble Bath Books 2013