Regina Beswick never dreamed of faraway places. She’s happy with her life as a classic car mechanic and owner of a restoration shop. But an unexpected visitor and the discovery of a fairytale, drawn by her great-grandma, causes Regina to wonder if she might be destined for something more. Tanner Burkhardt, Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg, must convince the strong-willed Southerner, Miss Beswick, that she is his country’s long-lost princess. Failure could destroy his reputation and change his nation forever. As Regina and Tanner face the challenges before them, neither are prepared for love to invade their hearts and change every thing they believe about themselves. (From Goodreads.com)
Bubby: Remember A Year of Weddings series that we recently reviewed? Well, A March Bride is also by Rachel Hauck. The characters in the two stories do overlap slightly, but either book can stand alone nicely.
Sissy: Princess Ever After actually comes out before A March Bride. It’s scheduled for publication on February 4th, 2014. I thought it was a delightful story and I enjoyed it a bit more than A March Bride. It is a little fluffy but in a good way and there are all sorts of little hidden secrets and treasures to be found in the plot line. I love things like that.
Bubby: Definitely a fun twist on the “Princess Diaries” type of plot. I fell completely in love with the dashing romantic character of Tanner. Totally worth moving to another country for!
Sissy: Which is why Bubby has a man in every port (in her dreams)! The story goes back and forth between past and present, the past being the story of Reggie’s great-grandma Alice as told in her journal. So you just get little bits of tantalizing information about Alice at any one time. Definitely worth a read. Go reserve it on Amazon right now.
Click HERE to buy Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
We received a copy of Princess Ever After from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.
A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed. (From Goodreads.com)
Sissy: Did you ever just want to read something that you know is not going to be too intense but light and delightful with a happy ending for sure? Some days, that’s what I want to read and these novellas precisely fit the bill. We read the first six, December through May. The settings and backgrounds and characters are all different but there’s always a wedding at the end. I thought it was really interesting how each author took their assigned month and wove a story about a wedding around it. You have everything from guerilla gardeners to runaway brides to an American marrying a foreign prince to a groom suffering with PTSD.
Bubby: Don’t forget the one about the cursed heirloom dress and my hands-down favorite, the one about mistaken identities. This last novella is A January Bride (how fitting is that?) and while I really enjoyed them all, I absolutely loved this one by Deborah Raney. Maddie is an author whose house is under construction and needs a quiet place to write. Arthur is an English professor and grieving widower who owns a bed and breakfast, the perfect place for Maddie to write when Arthur is away teaching. They are brought together by a meddling elderly neighbor who gives them both the impression that all involved are just as elderly as she! Weeks of note-leaving and the occasional phone call and neither Maddie nor Arthur have any idea that they are both in their 30’s and looking for love. It’s just delightful.
Sissy: A January Bride was my favorite as well. A close second was A May Bride which is about a woman, Ellie, who de-stresses by illegally weeding the gardens at a neighborhood church. She meets her future groom at a “guerilla wedding”, where the wedding party hurriedly sneaks onto the grounds of a church without permission, has the wedding and then runs away. Ellie sees the wedding while she is weeding and she hides behind some tall flowers to watch. Handsome Gray Witby, a member of the wedding party spies her and, well, you’ll have to read it to find out what happens next.
Bubby: I so love the idea of a guerilla wedding. Not the part about getting out of paying for a venue but the sheer romance of a spur of the moment, let’s just do this thing, marry me now or lose me forever type of wedding. Not that any of my children are allowed to do such a thing – I only like it in concept, not in reality. Maybe a guerilla vacation? I am up for that! These six novellas are all billed as Christian romances but vary in their degree of religiosity, from barely any (but still perfectly clean and lovely) to heavily laced with scriptural references. All are good. 3.5 bubbles from me.
Sissy: A guerilla vacation sounds good to me. I’ve been telling my family for years that one day I’m going to just jump in the car and drive to Santa Fe. Nobody understands or wants to go with. As for you, dear readers, the first six “A Year of Weddings” novellas will give you a mini-guerilla vacation of fluff and happiness, so you should just jump in and read them! 3.5 Bubbles.
Click HERE to buy A December Bride by Denise Hunter at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy A January Bride by Deborah Raney at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy A March Bride by Rachel Hauck at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy An April Bride by Lenora Worth at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy A May Bride by Meg Moseley at Amazon.com
At 16, Madison has accepted herself for who she is: smart and witty, but overweight with thick glasses and the social life of a Tibetan monk. Everything changes the summer before her junior year of high school when her eyesight inexplicably corrects itself, and she begins to rapidly lose weight. However, her new look comes with an unexpectedly expensive price. Madison’s first kiss with the boy she has had a crush on for years triggers powers she can’t control, almost killing him. She discovers she is a Berserker, a powerful being chosen to guard the world from the Havocs, ancient creatures brought into our world by magic thousands of years ago. They cause destruction and death, but cannot be killed. Instead of enjoying her new look and popularity at school, Madison must now work with the Berserkers to master her powers and bind the Havoc before it kills her. (From Goodreads.com)
Bubby: Yes, I know. We said we were sick of Young Adult Paranormal and didn’t want to read or review or even look at it anymore for a while. And we meant it! Except for this book. Because this one is different. No elves. No fairies (or faeries or fae or whatevers). Only a smidgen of magic. No whiny girls who can’t control their feelings for highly inappropriate vampires and/or werewolves. Nope. This is something new and different. Hurrah! I mean, really. Have you ever heard of a Berserker before? (Not the hairy mad Viking warrior type). Me either! As it turns out, Berserkers are always male. Always have been, always will be. There is some sense to this, I think. Men are much more likely to go crazy and start smashing things than your average woman. But Madison is, in fact, a Berserker. How? Why? Read the book. It all makes beautiful sense.
Sissy: We don’t actually know why she’s a Berserker –
Bubby: I do. I know why. And how. Because I read book 2 – Unbound. Ha!
Sissy: Well aren’t you the Duchess of Discovery! One day I shall be like you, able to speed-read all the books in the universe.
Bubby: I gave it to you. Not my fault you didn’t get around to reading it yet.
Sissy: You are rude and insensitive to my geriatric state. I am going to turn into a Berserker one day and have superhuman powers and then you’ll be jealous. I also am glad we made this exception to our “no nauseating paranormal YA (for a while)” rule. It was so engaging. I zipped through it and can’t wait to read book two, Unbound.
Bubby: You’ll like it. It was even better than the first book. I know this because I already read it.
Sissy: Your insecurity is becoming unbearable!
Bubby: You’ll get over it, I promise. Now talk about the book, will you?
Sissy: In the back of my mind I was somewhat bugged by the fact that Madison, in coming into her powers, also gets skinny and loses the Coke-bottle eyeglasses. Because in my enlightened state, I want everyone to be loved and appreciated as they are. But on the other hand, isn’t it everybody’s secret dream to wake up rid of whatever it is about ourselves we dislike most? So it’s a wash.
Bubby: To be fair to the author, it would be rather hard to be a monster-killing machine if one was plump and near-sighted.
Sissy: This is true, so we shall move on. I also felt guilty about the bit of revenge Madison gets for her bad treatment at the hands of one of the highschool mean girls. I felt guilty because I enjoyed it. And there is no syrupy, grotesque romance in this first book, although the promise is there. I’ll have to wait for Unbound to see how it goes.
Bubby: Let’s just say that a delicious little love triangle develops – and drama ensues. And it’s all completely unpredictable. I never saw it coming. You’ll be shocked. There are twists and turns aplenty in both books. Family secrets are revealed, dark histories are unraveled, and so much more. This is really one of the best YA debuts I have ever read.
Sissy: This is also written by a male author. We don’t usually review male authors, but Brant Williams did exceptionally well writing a teenage girl character. I almost couldn’t believe it. I agree with Bubby. Threads That Bind is really good. 4.25 bubbles.
Bubby: Wow, we have been agreeing rather often on ratings lately, Sissy. The moons of Saturn must be aligned or something! I give Threads That Bind 4.25 bubbles also.
Click HERE to buy Threads That Bind from Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Laura Shumway couldn’t say why she’d agreed to go on the class reunion trip to Italy. Maybe it was to take stock of her life, or maybe it was just to catch up with old friends, take in the sights, and relax in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Either way, she knew she’d discover a lot on the trip, about both herself and her former classmates. What she didn’t expect to discover was the dead body of esteemed professor Anthony Gilbert. (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: In an effort to get far away from young adult fantasy for a bit, we read this lovely novel about middle-aged women. Yay! Because middle-aged women rock!
Bubby: I wouldn’t know anything about this “middle-age” you speak of. I am still in the full blush of youth, personally.
Sissy: You’re still in the midst of a dream world, apparently. But anyway, the story is set in Italy where a group of 40 former college classmates have gone for a tour/vacation organized by two of the women who have family there. First of all, Connolly’s descriptions of the various parts of Italy they visited are fantastic and made me want to go there immediately! Secondly, I want to eat all the food they ate. Because the characters are middle-aged women, they have the wisdom to fully enjoy things and not be worried about impressing boys, eating “the wrong thing,” or maintaining their size 2. So they happily indulge in the well described fresh Italian cuisine and gelato while their visual senses are tantalized by the abundant art and history. Seriously, I am getting my passport updated.
Bubby: As I recall, you have ALREADY gone to Italy once. Did the Vatican and the whole nine yards. Therefore, if anyone gets to go somewhere it should be me. Poor, untraveled me. I think my favorite aspect of this whole novel is that it is based on an actual “Tour of Italy” that Connolly went on not long ago. There really were 40 women from Wellesley, Connolly’s alma mater, and they really did go to the locations mentioned. Everything is just as it really happened with the exception, of course, of the murder. Maybe if Sissy and I are ever to write that novel we keep thinking about, we need to go on an extended vacation to get the juices going!
Sissy: I guess I have kicked your butt in traveling but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more, more, MORE!! And then there’s the murder. No one deserves to be murdered more than Professor Sleazebag, the slimy user, philanderer and plagiarist. Not that I am condoning murder. The fact that male professors got away with that sort of thing back in the day just makes my blood boil. I think we should hang them all by their tes-
Bubby: Sissy! This is a family blog! You stop that right now. Not that I don’t agree with you but we can’t be vigilantes! I never had a professor like Professor Gilbert, but I did have one who liked to make pointed comments about the “endowments” (or lack thereof) of the various women in his classes. I was quite thrilled when he was “advised to retire” the following year. Our main character, Laura and her vacation roommate Cynthia team up to use their specialized skills in solving the murder before it ruins everyone’s delicious vacation. Turns out that they both may have careers that are a bit jucier than they seem at first – but no spoilers! You’ll have to read Reunion With Death to figure it all out.
Sissy: Delectable mystery in a delightful setting. 4 bubbles from me.
Bubby: I concur with my beautiful and intelligent middle-aged sister. 4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Reunion with Death by Sheila Connolly at Amazon.com
We were given a copy of Reunion with Death by the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.
Spark’s mission is clear; pull Aran from the clutches of the fey folk and restore the balance between the worlds. But can she risk her life for someone who refuses to be rescued? (From Amazon.com)
Bubby: I was so excited for this new novel by Anthea Sharp. It is the first book in the Feyguard Series, a spin-off from the Feyland Trilogy (The Dark Realm, The Bright Court and The Twilight Kingdom). It helps a little with understanding the dynamic between characters to have read the Feyland Trilogy but Spark can definitely stand on its own. Our main character, Spark Jaxley is a superstar gamer who would really like to have a bit more of a normal life. Unfortunately, she won’t find that any time soon. Spark starts off quickly and escalates into lots of action and adventure right away.
Sissy: To be honest with you I was not excited to read this novel. Bubby made me, because we received this book in exchange for our honest review. My not wanting to read Spark has nothing to do with the author–Anthea Sharp is a really great writer. I just generally don’t enjoy this genre. I don’t like gaming, I don’t like futuristic settings, and I don’t like weird made-up names. Unless I make them up. I DO, however, like magic, fantasy and romance, so I read the book.
Bubby: I, on the other hand, am a total geek/nerd/trekkie whatever you want to call it. I love this genre and sci-fi and fantasy make me very happy. I am not a hardcore gamer but I do love computer games and can get lost for hours playing. I have to admit that I spent a great deal of Christmas vacation playing the video games that my children received as gifts! Therefore, this whole thing is right up my alley. It’s not just a book about gaming, though. It’s a great read even if you’ve never played a video game in your life. Want proof? Sissy liked it!
Sissy: Okay, let’s not get all mushy about it–I still wouldn’t pick this genre off the shelf. Here’s what I liked about Spark: Spark, the character, is an awesome girl! She is slightly tomboyish but can rock the spandex when needed. She is true to herself and is real. I liked the new character Aran, and how he struggles to do the right thing and go for the girl. I liked how much I hated the bad guys (evil twin gamers Roc and Cora Terabin). My favorite, though, was Niteesh–super little team-playing minuteman! And I think Anthea Sharp does a fantastic job with the Faerie realm. She describes things so vividly and fleshes out the inhabitants so fully, you feel like you are actually there.
Bubby: I agree. The characters are so well drawn and the settings are amazing. Now, I am in no hurry to meet any of the dark and nasty elves, but I wouldn’t mind hanging out in fairyland for a while. I would be just fine living in a tree, having pointy ears, wearing floaty iridescent robes and having a magical ability or two wouldn’t hurt my feelings. Sometimes my dull and plodding soul just yearns for a little magic and enchantment. That’s one of the reasons I like playing video games. Just like reading, it transports you elsewhere for a time. Fun.
Sissy: Except for the magical ability, you’ve described the way you are right now, Bubby. I still think you should get those ears fixed. And your soul is hardly dull and plodding. Dill and pudding, maybe. As for video games–they give me anxiety. But I endured them for the sake of reviewing this book, which is very well done.
Bubby: Hey! My ears are just fine, thank you. I still think that deep down you want to be a gamer! If nothing else, it would improve your aging reflexes! At any rate, I will continue to read Anthea Sharp’s books for as long as she writes them. All the magic and adventure I could ask for mixed with a dash of romance. Lovely. 4 bubbles from Bubby, the wannabe elf queen.
Sissy: You are surely wrong. Not ever going to be a gamer. 3.75 bubbles from Sissy the enchantress (current, not wannabe).
Click HERE to buy this book at amazon.com
Bubby: Guess what, everyone? This is our 100th post! It’s amazing to me how much has changed since we started this blog in September of 2012. We lost our dad just a month after we started, I did a huge remodel on my house, and my kids just kept on growing.
Sissy: Congratulations to us, Bubby! I feel like we should be having a party, or something. Where’s the cake? Yes, these past couple of years have been interesting times. After Dad passed away it seemed like my house got emptier and emptier, and now I only have one child left at home–thank heavens for him! But our sisterly bond just keeps on growing, and our love of books–well that has always been constant.
Bubby: So in honor of our 100th post we are revealing our TOP TEN OF 2013! (Drumroll please…)
NUMBER 10: Feyland by Anthea Sharp
Bubby: Hey–wait just a minute there, Sissy–I had Feyland by Anthea Sharp as number 9!
Sissy: Why do you always have to be so difficult? You’re messing with my juju! Alright, we’ll have to agree to disagree.
Sissy’s NUMBER 10: Feyland by Anthea Sharp Bubby’s NUMBER 10: Finding Colin Firth by Mia March
Sissy’s NUMBER 9: Finding Colin Firth by Mia March Bubby’s NUMBER 9: Feyland by Anthea Sharp
NUMBER 8: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
NUMBER 7: Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand
NUMBER 6: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
NUMBER 5: The Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson
NUMBER 4: Mariana by Susanna Kearsly
Bubby’s NUMBER 3: Making Faces by Amy Harmon Sissy’s NUMBER 3: The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
Bubby’s NUMBER 2: The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley Sissy’s NUMBER 2: Making Faces by Amy Harmon
AND NOW FOR OUR NUMBER ONE TOP READ OF 2013…………………….
Sissy: Big Thank Yous to Amy Harmon and Susanna Kearsley and all our favorite writers out there–May 2014 bring you lots of blessings, happiness, and quiet, creative moments!
Bubby: And big Thank Yous to all our readers! Keep coming back to hear all of our great reading suggestions for you in 2014!
Sneaking out at night, driving without a license, and falling for a guy weren’t things fifteen-year-old Jeni expected to do while visiting Lake Itasca, Minnesota with her family. The guy, Ice, turns out to be the local medicine man’s apprentice, and when he tells Jeni she’s connected to the spirit world, her first instinct is to run. But after Ice’s stories of a mythical underwater monster—that Jeni allegedly released—prove true, she realizes it’s up to her to contain the beast. Jeni must first convince herself that she’s able, and then save the locals, Ice, and ultimately herself. (From Goodreads.com)
Sissy: So Jeni has come to Lake Itasca with her extended family to scatter the remains of her grandfather on the lake. This leads one to ponder on the backstory that is only alluded to in the book. We know that the grandfather was a great traveler and had some sort of connection to the lake and there is something hinky in the genealogy, perhaps suggesting that Jeni has Native American roots. As the story progresses, what you find out about Jeni makes it seem obvious that she must have Native American blood. All this rambling by me leads to the point that I found this YA storyline to be different and refreshing and happily much less angsty than all the paranormal YA stuff I’ve been reading lately.
Bubby: Yes, it does seem like we tend to get in a rut, eh Sissy? I think YA paranormal romance is like candy; really fun and delicious in small doses, but too much makes my tummy hurt. While Thunderstone is still technically in that genre, there are no fairies or witches or vampires. Just Native American legends come to life.
Sissy: I didn’t think I would like Thunderstone. Bubby didn’t think she’d like it either but we were both wrong.
Bubby: I am never wrong. I was simply too hasty in my judgemental process. Not wrong.
Sissy: You were too wrong, you nerf-herder! Get over it! As I said before, it was a really interesting and engaging story. The only problem I had with it is that Jeni is only 15 and to have a “great love” and such fortitude under duress is way more mature than most 15 year-olds actually are. When I was 15, I was a complete social bumbling idiot who would have run home and cowered under her mother’s bed at the sight of a water monster or any sort of supernatural entity. My “great love” was a crush on the neighbor boy, and if he even looked in my direction I would run away and write about it in my journal. Something like “Oh Happiness–“D” looked at me! It must be true love! I can’t wait until we get married!” P.S. “D” now looks like a hairy neanderthal and I’m so glad I didn’t marry him.
Bubby: I totally agree. I like to pretend that the years between 11 and 19 just didn’t exist. No way could I have dealt with any sort of mythical beastie and survived! Heck, I don’t think I would survive a mythical beastie now! At any rate, the storyline of Thunderstone moves along at a swift and satisfying pace. I was never bored or felt like things were dragging.
Sissy: Ice, on the other hand, has a bit mroe reason to be mature for his age. He has experienced many tragical things in his life and has been given much responsibility. Plus he’s a total teenage dreamboat hunk of burning love olive skinned chisel-cheeked Native American boy. Who can resist that?
Bubby: I am more partial to the Viking-warrior type myself, but I can certainly see the allure. I must say though that my favorite character was cousin Tyler. He and Jeni have a relationship more like siblings than cousins. I felt the need to smack him in the head repeatedly at the beginning of the story but he really turns into something quite wonderful by the end. Reminds me of my brothers, one in particular. Totally annoying and obnoxious during childhood but a pretty awesome human being as an adult.
Sissy: Thunderstone is full of action and adventure, and although there is a love story, you only get it in small bits. The Native American folklore is fascinating and Thunderstone makes me want to learn more about it. 3.5 bubbles.
Bubby: Barbara Pietron really has written something special here. Romance, danger, family – it’s all there. 3.5 bubbles from me too.
We received a copy of Thunderstone from NetGalley in return for a fair review.
Click HERE to buy Thunderstone by Barbara Pietron at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014