Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king–a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do. (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: I have to just jump right in here and say I LOVED the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson! I spent a lot of time with those books, and lost a lot of sleep. I read the first one and told Bubby about it, and then she (speed reader extraordinaire) read all three and urged me to finish the series AT ONCE! (She is bossy like that…). I finished the 2nd one a little after midnight one night and texted my dear sister that I needed the last one IMMEDIATELY! (I pull “eldest sister” rank like that sometimes…). She is a night owl anyway. The story is epic! Any male would have to rank this tale as high on adventure, action, and all the other manly stuff, except there is enough romance, mystery, magic, and assorted girly stuff to satisfy any female. I wanted to glue a gem in my belly button and pretend I am a bearer of the Godstone. I may still do it.
Bubby: Well, then. So are you saying you liked these books, Sissy? Wow. For me, this series was not an instant hit as it was for Sissy. It grew on me, line by line and chapter by chapter. I have an issue with novels that are written from a first-person present tense point of view. You know, like “I walk through the door and there Sissy sits, eating the last piece of my Godiva Chocolate. I wonder how I will ever be able to love her again as I begin to cry.” Everything is happening RIGHT NOW. It takes me a while to get past that and be able to enjoy the story. I know, I’m a traditionalist old fuddy-duddy for preferring third-person writing. Get over it. The point is, once I got past my issues, I began to really enjoy Elisa’s adventures. How would it be to know without a shadow of a doubt that you were one of a very few choice persons who had been chosen by God for a very specific purpose? I loved watching Elisa grow from a confused little girl into a strong, powerful, confident woman.
Sissy: The books were so good, I didn’t even notice what person they were written in, except for maybe “skillful writing” person. And I would never eat the last of your Godiva chocolates–I might find myself impaled in the eyeball by a corner of the empty box! I also was intrigued with the evolution of Elisa–from a girl who felt unremarkable in every way and unworthy of a Godstone to an all-powerful warrior/sorceress queen. Now, those who want to hear the message that they are fine just the way they are may mistake this as a tale of one who must change everything about herself in order to be worthwhile. But it really is a tale of discovery. In discovering her full potential, Elisa realizes the extraordinariness that was always part of her; not discarding her unique self, but empowering it.
Bubby: These are not light and fluffy books. There is violence and death, trial and pain, redemption and love. They are marketed as Young Adult novels but I think they appeal to a much wider audience. I know that one of Sissy’s pet peeves is when fantasy authors put too much detail into their world building (see our review of Elantris for an example of her ranting) but Rae Carson did an excellent job of building a world that had just enough differentness to keep it interesting without alienating any of her elderly, mush-for-brains readers like Sissy. Just kidding, Sissy. I know that you are as intelligent as you are beautiful! These are captivating books that will reel you in and keep you up well past your bedtime. 4.5 bubbles
Sissy: I agree with you, Bubby (not about the part where you call me elderly) that Rae Carson’s civilizations of Oravalle, Invierne, etc. are beautifully done and do not give me a headache. What can I say, but that if you’re up for an exciting, adventurous read, these books are good! 4.5 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy Crown of Embers by Rae Carson at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
Forgetting was only the beginning. When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse still, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle. (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: While I enjoyed this book because it is a lovely tale of redemption with a happy ending, and you know I love a happy ending, I have to say I found it to be the slightest bit shallow, and there are some holes in the plot. Sia, in my opinion, doesn’t try hard enough to find out who she is, but rather just dives into the homeless life. When she encounters Kyle in the soup kitchen, she doesn’t ask him about herself, even though he obviously knows her. She solves all her family’s problems a little too neatly, and completely changes herself in the meantime. Not that I don’t like the changes and solutions; I do. I like how everything turns out. I just don’t know if I believe its possible.
Bubby: Oh, Sissy. Sometimes you are such an adult! Yes, it was all too easy to fix Sia’s family and turn around the “mean girls” at the high school – from an adult perspective. But think of it from the viewpoint of a 14 or 15-year-old girl. Especially one who is getting picked on by said mean girls. They are dreaming of a quick fix, some way that people will suddenly wake up and see them for the wonderful people they are and quit tormenting them. In reality, it usually doesn’t happen. It takes lots of time and maturity. That’s why high school reunion revenge fantasies are so popular! When Sia is at the soup kitchen and Kyle calls her out, she is confused and scared. All she knows is that someone is yelling at her and she just wants to get away. It’s obvious to me that trying to get answers would not be her first reaction. The same goes for her family. Everyone with deep family issues wishes that the person with the problem would suddenly wake up and see the light. Josh Grayson just makes those wishes come true.
Sissy: But it’s also true that life doesn’t work that way, and if you have fantasies to that effect you are setting yourself up for repeated disappointment. But, I know that I like my fantasy endings, and it doesn’t make me think that’s the way real life will be. They just allow me some escape, which is perhaps how I should view this book. I also am a fan of goodness, positive changes, and believing that anything is possible, and I guess Josh Grayson tries to incorporate those things in a short 193 pages. I just think this book is too young for my jaded old self in some ways, and I wanted to yell at Sia for being so dumb. Sia is 17, but I suppose the perfect reader of this book might indeed be a 15-year-old. Age 15 is such a distant fly speck on the landscape of my life….my 15 yr old pathos and angst has been relegated to a forgotten and dusty corner of my brain.
Bubby: And that’s a good thing! I really liked the message that having things and money and popularity is not a lasting formula for happiness, and that true joy comes from serving others and loving selflessly. Also, I loved the descriptions of the fabulous clothes, especially the dress Sia wears to the Oscars. My favorite line in the book also comes at the Oscars, when Kyle and Sia get to meet Robert Downy Jr. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens! Can I just say that if I met Robert Downy Jr. I would probably make a fool of myself – calling him Mr. Iron Man, Sir, or something equally fan-girly. I guess it’s a good thing I am far away from Hollywood!
Sissy: I wouldn’t. I would just say “Hey, Bob.” Sia is the debut novel for Josh Grayson, and I think he did a good job.(rhymes with “Hey, Bob.”) I applaud him for writing a hopeful, happy novel to be placed on the shelves in the midst of more gritty, dark, and lusty offerings, and I hope girls choose this sort of book over those. It just wasn’t the kind of novel that gets to me deeply, like an Amy Harmon or Suzanna Kearsley book. But I say, “Go, fight, write more, Mr. Grayson!” 3 bubbles from me.
Bubby: I am a bit more enthusiastic than you, Sissy. I quite enjoyed Sia. I thought it was a lovely story with a great message and a happy ending for all. 4 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy Sia by Josh Grayson at Amazon.com
We received a complimentary copy of Sia in return for a fair review. No other compensations, monetary or otherwise, were given.
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
When a pair of misfit teens, Sam and Renee, uncover disturbing experiments conducted in the basement of their neighbor’s house, they become entangled in medical research that could destroy their lives and forever alter the human aging process. After Renee’s life is threatened, she takes on a new identity and moves to New York with her family. There she finds herself haunted—whether by someone real or something supernatural she doesn’t know—and finding out may be the last thing she ever does. (From Amazon.com)
Bubby: A friend of mine recommended we read and review these and I am so glad she did! Cycles and Spaces were great! I can’t wait for more by Lois D. Brown. I do have a confession, though. While Cycles was really good – great story, good characters, yaddah yaddah, Spaces is my favorite, hands down of the two. It just sucked me in. Why? No idea. Maybe it’s the sweet romance between Renee and Sam. Maybe it’s the angst of private school and how she deals with that. Perhaps it’s the eerieness of the hauntings. Most likely, it’s a combination of all those mixed together with a bit of a murder mystery and a really unexpected ending that I SO TOTALLY did not see coming.
Sissy: This is another YA book, but I really liked it. I think that some YA books remind me that I’m so old I could be mistaken for dirt and others make me forget I come from the age of typewriters and “suck me in,” as Bubby says. (My 7-year-old neighbor told me yesterday that her teacher brought in an actual typewriter to school and let them have a turn on it. She asked me if I had ever seen “one of those things.” I had no words…) But I digress–I enjoyed Cycles and Spaces because the writing is good, and the premise is different and inventive (read: no vampires). It is a bit of sci-fi, paranormal, mythology, mystery, and romance all rolled into one.
Bubby: I loved that Lois D. Brown was able to write a pair of novels that connected beautifully with each other but were very different stories. The first book, Cycles, is all about Renee’s special abilities as a Cycler – someone who is reborn, like a phoenix, every 13 years. Spaces addresses a whole ‘nother issue – someone is hunting Renee and someone or something else is “haunting” her. (See what I did there? Haunting and hunting? I am so clever!) It’s the characters and their relationships that tie the two novels together. It’s a difficult thing to attempt but Brown has done it well.
Sissy: This is true, Bubby! Not only are you too, too clever, but Lois Brown has also cleverly segued from one book to the other, keeping and resolving certain elements and characters while introducing new and interesting people and plot lines. I liked the fact that the romance is stronger in the second book, because I do always enjoy a good romance side plot. But the word I will have to use again for the Cycles series is INVENTIVE ( I know I said it before, but as people age they repeat themselves, and you just have to be patient and give them presents). This is what a like about Lois D. Brown–her inventiveness. She is an Indie writer, and I am excited and intrigued to see what she comes up with next. She has a new book coming out soon, which I shall investigate.
Bubby: You are certainly feeling your age today, Sissy. Remember, age is just a number! You are as young as you think you are! Youth is wasted on the young! At least that’s what I’ve heard. I am still quite youthful, so I wouldn’t know! I truly enjoyed the Cycles series. They were fun and different and had great romance and good endings. 4 bubbles from me.
Sissy: Yes, Bubster (like hipster), you are a babe in arms. I am thinking about age because my son said to me this morning “ mom, can you believe you’re almost ()? Isn’t it amazing that you have lived for () years? I glared at him and replied “What–it’s amazing because I’m so gorgeous? So fabulous? Everybody wishes they were me?” The little diplomat just smiled and said “Exactly.” I liked the Cycles series by Lois D. Brown a lot, and you readers should pick them up and enjoy them just like I did (so you can be like me :)). 4 bubbles
Click HERE to buy Cycles by Lois D. Brown at Amazon.com **Currently free!**
Click HERE to buy Spaces by Lois D. Brown at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life. Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren’t alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back. While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock – and the Order – Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life – and beyond death. (From Goodreads.com)
Bubby: Endless is a little gem of deliciousness. I just ate this one up. We’ve got death-defying romance, time and space transcending romance, great characters, magic, an evil organization and ties to Romanov Russia. Pretty much perfection in all of its 384 pages.
Sissy: Is it possible to have a love so great that it spans centuries and even lives? A love so powerful that the lovers will break the rules of time and the universe to recapture it? The story of Endless answers that question with a resounding “yes!” (cue swells and violins). I, on the other hand, sometimes wanted to say “oh shut up and get over yourselves–you’re just dumb teenagers, and whaddya even know about love?” Oh jaded readers out there like me, let it go! Grab onto the possibilities and the magic, and free yourselves from the disheartening ruins of reality!
Bubby: Well then. Guess Sissy liked it too. I love when I finish a book and my immediate thought is “when is the sequel coming out?!?!” as happened with Endless. Unfortunately, Endless was just barely published so we’ll have to wait for a bit, I’m afraid. As I am sure you know by now, character development is a big deal for me and this story delivered, big time. We have growth, change, acceptance, the whole nine yards here.
Sissy: I really enjoyed the connection to Czarist Russia here, where finally the female protagonist is NOT Anastasia, but rather her sister Maria. The theme was a little more moody and melancholy than I like but the story was engaging enough that when I reached the end, I fell face-forward on my bed with a protesting oomph because there has to be another book. Soon. Maybe next year it will come out and maybe I will remember what the first one was about. Doubtful, since I can’t remember what I did last Tuesday.
Bubby: Never fear, dear sister. I am here for you. (Last Tuesday you were blogging with me at your house. See?) This is one series I won’t lose track of, guaranteed. I am a sucker for a strong romantic male lead, in this case, Nikolai. I mean, really. Who can resist a man who falls through time to be with his one true love? And he’s cute. And his name is Nikolai. And I bet he has an accent. Totally irresistible. Excuse me whilst I swoon for a moment.
Sissy: Glasnost! Stop swooning, Bubby, it’s pathetic. Pardon my bleak attitude – it’s the overcast weather and the fact that I’m not getting enough circulation in my toes. I really did enjoy Endless. It is a captivating and entrancing romance/mystery. It will paint pictures on your mindscape and cause you to gaze with dark-eyed longing at your significant other. 4 deep and dreamy bubbles from me.
Bubby: I can’t wait for the next installment from Amanda Gray (which is actually a pseudonym for two unnamed authors . . .so curious!) so that I can see how these star-crossed lovers turn out! 4 bubbles from me too.
Click HERE to buy Endless by Amanda Gray at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
What if you were loved by your rock star crush? Kristen’s blog is about to get her into trouble – deep trouble – when she says negative things about a rock star. When she finally meets him, and falls for him, should she confess? As they grow closer, does she have to make a choice between blog or boyfriend…or is the choice made for her? (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: I was not immediately entranced by this book because it starts off with a blog entry and twitter feeds from a 15-year-old. I felt too old/dignified to relate. But since Bubby had said she liked it, I carried on and got caught up in the story. Teenage blogger Kristen was almost painful for me to read about because she is one of those girls who is likely to fall into every uncomfortable, embarassing, angsty situation and you can see it coming a mile off. You know, like in those movies where you cover your eyes and say, “No! NO! Don’t do it!”, because you know a hot mess is imminent.
Bubby: I, being significantly younger and hipper than Sissy, instantly related with Stargazing From Nowhere. But I too cringed at the antics of poor Kristen. She’s like the classic bumbling character who just can’t get it right. At least not for the first half of the story. But then she learns to look before she leaps and to listen to her best friend Maggie and life starts getting better.
Sissy: Yep. Young and hip. You are, Bubby. Whenever I look at you in your perm and slippers, I read “young and hip” all over. Now hand me over my prune juice!
Bubby: I do not have a perm. Not since the early 90’s. And I don’t wear slippers – they make my feet claustrophobic. But I am probably neither young or hip to anyone 30 or under! That’s ok. I feel young and that’s what counts! But back to Kristen. You know that one movie star/lead singer/guitar god you had the WORST crush on when you were 15? (That would be Jon Bon Jovi for me, by the way). For Kristen, it’s Michael Stevens, drummer of the hit band Rising Tide. And then she actually meets him, when he and the band come to town. And then drama and hilarity ensue. Fun! Who was your superstar crush, Sissy?
Sissy: Harry from One Direction!
Bubby: Oh, the one who’s younger than your children?
Sissy: I’m not telling you who my actual crush was because I am ageless. I refuse to date myself with references to aging –
Bubby: Or dead –
Sissy: – rock stars. I am timeless. I AM the crushed-upon superstar, full of charm and mystique and cachet. Do not sully my reputation by asking me about people like Rick Springfield, to use an example far before my time. But back to our story. When you say Kristen was bumbling, it doesn’t mean she is dumb or unattractive. She just has a knack for making the worst of awkward moments and her mom is not much help. In one scene, I was so angry with her mom for being so completely meddlesome and rude in the name of doing what’s best for her daughter. I would NEVER be that way.
Bubby: Shall we ask your children about that?
Sissy: No thanks! Anywho, one of the things I liked about Stargazing From Nowhere is that it is not resolved too quickly and too neatly. It plays out realistically in all its teenage angstlyness and though it ends up happily I was reminded of how glad I am to be far away from those years.
Bubby: Oh yes. Although I had a great time in high school, I am not interested in doing it over again. I love that Stargazing is about a teen with a blog, even if I am jealous that hers gets more readers than ours! I really love that Stargazing was written by two sisters –
Sissy: -because two sisters, a blog, get it?
Bubby: Exactly! I still think we should write a book someday, Sissy. And if we do, I hope it’s as much fun to read as this book was.
Sissy: So Bubby was right after all. Stargazing From Nowhere was an enjoyable book, even though I wanted to take a Xanax to calm my nerves after all the hormone-laden disquietude. 3 1/2 bubbles.
Bubby: A fun and quick-moving read for adults and my 15 year old will love it too! 3 1/2 bubbles from me too.
Click HERE to buy Stargazing From Nowhere at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
Bubby: We have winners! Huzzah!
Sissy: So excited! This lovely gift of hot chocolate (isn’t it pretty!) and their book of choice goes to – drumroll, please –
MarjAnn Ober from Utah and Sandee Poff from Kentucky!!
Bubby: MarjAnn and Sandee, we will contact you via email as well. Congratulations!
Sissy: Thanks, everyone, for reading and participating.
Bubby: Hey, dear readers! We know that several of you have taken up the challenge and entered our contest by sharing a post. Unfortunately, unless you TELL us, we can’t count your entry!
Bubby: Thanks so much! Remember, we are giving two winners a hot cocoa and book combo pack and you get to choose ANY book that we’ve reviewed.
Sissy: Contest ends on November 13, 2013 so hurry up!