Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Yes, you read that right! Sissy and I are throwing our responsibilities out the proverbial window and are spending the next 6 weeks in Europe. Of course, with the social obligations we have to meet whilst there, (tea parties with the queen and whatnot) we have decided to suspend our blog for the duration. But rest assured, as soon as we return we will have oodles of new books to review!

Actually, we’re not going to Europe (more’s the pity) but we are suspending the blog during this super busy summer season. Don’t worry – we’ll be back!

Thanks for reading.

Bubby and Sissy


After losing her husband, five children, housekeeper, and beautiful home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her home, and later died there, having been driven mad with grief.
In present-day Texas, Claire, the grand niece of Rachel’s caretaker, has inherited the house and wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast. But she is concerned that it’s haunted, so she calls in her friend Ruby—who has the gift of extrasensory perception—to check it out. While Ruby is ghost-hunting, China Bayles walks into a storm of trouble in nearby Pecan Springs. A half hour before she is to make her nightly deposit, the Pecan Springs bank is robbed and a teller is shot and killed. Before she can discover the identity of the killers, China follows Ruby to the Blackwood house to discuss urgent business. As she is drawn into the mystery of the haunted house, China opens the door on some very real danger… (synopsis from Publishers Weekly)
Sissy: I’ve read books from this series before from time to time and I picked this new one up at the library and was really surprised how quickly I got back into the series and how engrossing the story was.
Bubby: I am pretty sure I read the first or second in the series ages ago but I can tell you that you don’t need to have any knowledge of the series or characters to enjoy Widow’s Tears. It works quite well as a stand-alone novel.
Sissy: Susan Wittig Albert is a great storyteller. She took a headline from a 100-year-old catastrophe and wove it into a modern-day tale. The main character of the series, China Bayles, appears in this book but it is really a story about her best friend and business partner Ruby.
Bubby: I had never heard of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 until this book. Did you know that it is the deadliest natural disaster in US History? Check out http://www.gthcenter.org/exhibits/storms/index.html for photos of the aftermath. I enjoyed the fiction part of the story but I found myself fascinated by the Galveston Storm – so much so that Sissy and I have just spent the last 30 minutes looking at the pictures.
Sissy: I love it when a writer takes an actual historic event and weaves in some fictional characters to make a new story. This story also has a modern-day murder mystery as well as a downright spooky ghost story. I found myself reading the scary parts while I was alone in my house and I had to keep telling myself that I was a grown woman and it was just a story and I didn’t need to keep checking the hallways!
Bubby: I know what you mean! I had to huddle under a blanket because I was cold (even though it’s super hot outside) and was listening for thunder and watching for lightning out my window (even though it was a clear, blue sky day) – waiting for the floodwaters to rise, even though I live on a hill in the mountains!
Sissy: Ruby is the perfect person for this ghostly adventure because she is what you might call “a sensitive”. She has consistently tried to deny this gift but finally in this book (which is at least #21 in the series), she makes use of her full psychic powers. Ruby is also big-busted and attracts men like flies to honey, so in this sense she reminds me of myself.
Bubby: Oh, yes, you buxom sweet thing, you. I think that perhaps you are a little psychic too.
Sissy: Definitely psychic.
Bubby: Or is it psycho? I can never keep those two straight . . .
Sissy: Courtesy laugh in your general direction.
Bubby: At any rate, Widow’s Tears was a fantastic read that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I am feeling the need now to go back and check out the rest of the series. My only issue with these books is the fact that they can definitely be classified as “cozy mysteries” and that’s ok as long as Sissy picks them. But when I pick them, then they are somehow unsuitable. Not that I have an issue with this or anything.
Sissy: These are definitely NOT cozy mysteries. They are too sinister and the writing has too much depth and mastery foor that classification. I can intuitively tell you what is and what is not a cozy mystery.
Bubby: Hmmm. Let’s see – small group of characters living in a small town where large amounts of people are murdered randomly and bodies (as well as perpetrators) are found by one of said small group of characters. Repeatedly. Pretty sure that was Sissy’s main issue with cozies. Therefore, these qualify.
Sissy: Sometimes you just have to go with the more mature and wise viewpoint that comes with living one’s life on the psychic wavelength. Don’t fight it, Bubby. Just go with my intuition. Plus, none of our characters found the dead body or had anything to do with it in this story. Plus, there’s the Galveston hurricane angle.
Bubby: I was speaking of the series as a whole, not just this book. But whatever. I have learned that sometimes it’s just easier to let Sissy win – otherwise she pouts and moans and I have to placate her with chocolate. Read the book. It’s a good one. I give it 4 bubbles.
Sissy: I give it 4.25 bubbles for excellent writing and ghostiness and historiosity.
Click HERE to buy Widow’s Tears at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
 
 

Feyland is a full-D (which means you are fully immersed) game-the most high-tech of its kind-and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But what she doesn’t know is that the Dark Queen of the faeries has decided to use the virtual world as a portal to the real one, and that she’ll be battling for her REAL life.
Tam Linn’s real life is so bad that he finds solace in the simulated life of gamers.  He has no plan to get involved with a rich girl like Jennet.  But he may just be the hero she desperately needs.
Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland and discover that much more is at stake–like the future of the entire human world.  Can they, with their limited abilities, defeat the dark queen and save mankind?

Sissy:  This book is far out of my wheelhouse (I heard Blake Shelton and then Usher and then Shakira use that term on The Voice) so Bubby was surprised when I loaned her Feyland by Anthea Sharp.  I think Bubby asked me 5 times if I really liked it for sure, because it was so much more her than me.  I told her that I reserve the right to broaden my horizons and be startlingly eclectic at any given moment.  I wondered about it meself when I started reading it, but I actually was able to follow all the futuristic techie jargon without going into a menopausal brain peat bog.

Bubby: At least you THINK you were able to follow it all. As I do not have access into said menopausal brain, I wouldn’t know for sure! But what you say is true. I started reading Feyland and was amazed that you had enjoyed it. But I really shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, the gaming and futuristic stuff is the only aspect that isn’t you – and that’s only part of the book. The bigger part is Fairyland itself – and you are all about the fairies and magic and stuff.

Sissy: I am a fairy. A sparkling flower fairy. Therefore, yes, all that stuff was appealing. This book is futuristic, though, because the rich people have such things as grav-cars (like a hover car sort of dealie), wrist chips, and fully automated houses (named HANA for House Activated Network Assistant). Sort of big-brotherish if you ask me.

Bubby: I like it. I want a grav-car and an automated house. Like the one in the tv show Eureka. Except you never watched that show so you don’t know what I’m talking about but it was cool. It was named SARAH (for words I can’t remember what they stand for). But the future bits aren’t my favorite. My favorite was right at the beginning when we met one of our main characters, Tam Lin and then when the character of Thomas Rimer was introduced. Now if you are a big fan of faerie-realm stories, you will already recognize these names. Tamlin is a famous character from the old Scottish Ballads – a mortal man who was captured by the fairies (Fae, Faery Folk, etc.) and then rescued by his own true love. Thomas Rhymer is also a ballad character – a bard who was so talented that the Fairy Queen decided to keep him as her own personal songsmith. The instant I saw Anthea Sharp use these names for her characters, I knew I had found a kindred soul. I was hooked.

Sissy: Yes, Bubby, you are a nerd. But since I am actually half-human and half-fae, I can’t really blame you for your fixation on the world of fairy.

Bubby: Which half? Somehow I’m not seeing either of our parents as faerykind . . .

Sissy: Just go with it! Stop trying to ruin my alternate realities. The clever thing about Anthea Sharp is that she was able to retell a very old story in a very modern way without any bumps or hitches. It works beautifully. The story flows so well, even for those with no knowledge of fairy lore. I think the author has written something that will capture a whole new demographic.

Bubby: I loves it. Loves loves loves it. I have a weakness for modern-day retellings of old stories; they just do something for me. I love tales that are seasoned with a little (or in this case, a lot) of magic. I even love stories that use age-old archetypes, in this case the poor little rich girl and the poverty stricken boy with a heart of gold. As Sissy said, the tricky part is weaving all of these elements together and actually having it work. This one works. It has it all, even a little hint of romance.

Sissy: The budding romance between Tam Lin and Jennet is reason enough for me to want to continue this series. I can tell they will have a lot more exciting and bonding adventures ahead. Tam Lin’s life is so painfully tragic, I hope better things are in store there, too.

Bubby: I agree! Jennet lives in this great big huge house with just her and her dad, who is never there anyway and Tam and his mom and brother (both of whom have some big medical issues) live in a shack in the super scary part of town. Can’t the Lin family just move into Jennet’s basement or something?

Sissy: Obviously, there is a lot more to explore in the lives of Tam and Jennet and the world of the Fae. I highly recommend Feyland to the techies, the fairytale lovers, and the fantasy fans, because this is a category bending read.  4.25 hover-bubbles.

Bubby:  Feyland checks all the requisite boxes for me.  I can’t wait to continue the series.  Maybe I can get cheapskate Sissy to buy them this time (she says “Not fairy likely…”).  4.5 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Feyland at Amazon.com


After having been missing for two years, Abigail Sutton’s beloved husband is found dead, having fallen prey to a carjacking.   Abigail has suffered so much that she see’s no other alternative but to hit the road in search of a new life.  In the small town of Spookie she finds and buys a fixer-upper house that has been empty since the death of its previous owner, Edna Summers. For the first time in a long while Abigail begins to feel peace and make new friends.  However, the old house she has chosen seems to have chosen her to solve its thirty year old mysteries.  As the evidence unfolds, Abigail has to decide what is more important to her:  keeping safe, or laying to rest the unhappy ghosts of the past.

Bubby: This was a creepy little story! I guess I should have seen that coming, seeing as how it’s set in a town named “Spookie.”  I really feel bad for the heroine of this story, Abigail. Can you even imagine? Her husband goes out on an errand one day and never comes home. And it takes two years for him to be found and give her closure.  And then, as if she hasn’t had enough, she moves into a house with a mystery attached – and that mystery turns out to be a tragedy.

Sissy: I can’t imagine going through what Abigail did. And then going to this new old house and finding scraps of paper left by two missing children would just cap it all for me. I’d probably just go check myself into the nearest loony bin. But not her! She is much braver than I and does her best to see justice done.

Bubby: I had a hard time reading the parts of the book that described the little notes left by the children. They were mistreated to such an awful extent. I have no sympathy or mercy in my soul for those who abuse children. I hope that God has a lovely little corner of hell set aside just for them. And a lovely little corner of heaven set aside for the children.

Sissy: This is a bit of a dark mystery but it also has a light romance and the small-town friendliness of a cozy mystery, which balances out the darker bits. This is the first book that I’ve read by Kathryn Meyer Griffith and in looking at her other titles, this may be the LEAST dark of her stories. Some of them look pretty scary.

Bubby: I am so going to read Don’t Look Back, Agnes – just because I love the title. And because I want to sit on my couch yelling “NO! Agnes! Don’t do it, Agnes!” just to irritate my children.

Sissy: Me too. Her latest book is a vampire story (Human No Longer) that has the tagline “sometimes a mother’s love is stronger than blood”.

Bubby: My love for my children is stronger than blood. Chocolate, maybe not. But definitely stronger than blood.

Sissy: Yes, well, I was going to say (about that title and tagline) how shuddersome is that?! But then I remembered my own plotline for the zombie novel I’m going to write and it sounds eerily familiar. Kathryn Meyer Griffith and I should chat.

Bubby: Sure. Drop her an email. I’m sure you’ll be having lunch together and swapping story ideas right away!

Sissy: So, back to our present story. You end up suspecting everyone, even the people you desperately don’t want to be guilty and the ending is completely satisfying. This is a good little mystery, probably best read on a dark and stormy day, but good enough for anytime really.

Bubby: My only issue with the ending is that the series continues. I would have loved for this to be a stand-alone novel. It was all wrapped up so nicely that I don’t really feel the need for any more books but maybe I should read the next one (All Things Slip Away) before I make a judgement. On a side note, the author tells the story of this book’s publishing history on her Amazon.com page. Really interesting .

Sissy: This book was originally published in 2003 and after going through a lot of crap from the original publisher, it is finally available for a great price as a self-published ebook at Amazon.com. Well worth a read. I give it 4 bubbles.

Bubby: A nice introduction to the work of Kathryn Meyer Griffiths. 3 3/4 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to purchase Scraps of Paper by Kathryn Meyer Griffith at Amazon.com


The Switch sisters, the only Chinese family in Ambrose, have always been considered a little odd by the townspeople–especially the mother.  People flock to her Chinese restaurant, but steer clear of her otherwise. But everything changes when beautiful Mara Switch, the eldest daughter, is accused of murder.  The family then must step into the spotlight to prove her innocence—all without revealing a dark family secret.

Bubby: I was just sitting at home, minding my own business when my phone dinged at me, signifying an incoming email message. It was from Sissy, telling me to read this book. I was gratified that she took the time to think of me whilst on vacation (she abandoned me and went to Disneyland last week) and read The Switch Sisters right away. What a lovely little gem of disturbing quirkiness! About 1/3 of the way in I was sure I knew the direction the plot was going to take. I had it all figured out. And then the bombshell dropped – and the plot went in a direction I had never even considered!

Sissy: I found this book on Amazon.com and was surprised, because of the title, that it was a book about Chinese immigrants. Switch is not exactly a common Chinese name but that is explained in the book. Anyway, I liked it alot because it was weird and different and that appeals to me.

Bubby: It appeals to you because you ARE weird and different. Normal is boring! We grew up in a little town similar to Ambrose and there were no Asians (or African-Americans for that matter) in our town at all. Even the people who ran the Chinese restaurant were not Asian – they were Hispanic. I can imagine that the arrival of a pregnant Chinese woman with 3 daughters and no husband would have created quite a stir. Throw in a spooky house and rumors of witchcraft and it’s easy to see why the Switch sisters had a hard time being accepted by their peers. One of my favorite lines is when Mara tells her mother that her upcoming wedding is “Our chance to prove we’re not what they think we are!” and her mother replies, “The problem is we are.” See, the rumors of witchcraft aren’t just rumors. The Switch girls are all witches – all five of them.

Sissy: Bubby’s secret desire is to be a writer of book synopsi (this is my made-up word for the plural of synopsis). That’s why she writes these interminably long spoilers in every review we do. I think she’s got things bottled up inside that need to come out! I appreciate you all reading this and being therapy for her.

Bubby: Oh, so many things I want to say. So many. Too many to choose from, therefore I will ignore Sissy’s rudeness and encourage her to GET BACK TO THE STORY!

Sissy: You know how in a small town everyone knows things about everyone else and there are rumors about this or that strange family and their secrets? That’s how these poor Switch sisters were talked about. They had to suppress their specialness so that everybody didn’t get crazy and run them out of town. This happens to me sometimes when I’m looking too beautiful and the neighbors get jealous.

Bubby: Sissy may have gotten a little too much sun on her vacation. The craziness is a little out of control today! I will try to see that she gets back on her medication before our next review. At the risk of more rudeness from my dear sister, I am going to wax philosophical for just a moment. Isn’t it interesting that this family had to conceal their awesomeness in order to fit in? Why do we feel the need to lower ourselves or dumb ourselves down to meet the lowest common denominator? Why can’t we just be fabulous and to heck with those that choose to feel inferior? Embrace your differentness! Diversity is a wonderful thing. Being special is good. We are NOT all the same so why should we act like we are?

Sissy: That’s why I’m not getting a tattoo. Everyone has a tattoo now and they are not special.

Bubby: I thought it was because you’re afraid that your butt cheek will get saggy and your rosebud tattoo will turn into a dead chrysanthemum.

Sissy: That too. I liked this tale of extraordinary Chinese witches and I liked that despite their very different personalities, the sisters joined their unique powers together and turned their story into a happy one.

Bubby: The Switch Sisters is a different sort of story than I had read before. It was unique. I like unique. I was voted “Most Unique” in high school, you know. Well worth a read. 4 bubbles.

Sissy:  Unique you are indeed, Bubby!  I will give The Switch Sisters  3.75 weirdly-shaped bubbles–waiting for more from Gwen Li.

Click HERE to buy The Switch Sisters by Gwen Li from amazon.com

©Bubblebathbooks 2013