Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Wynne Hardy never thought she’d get engaged on a reality TV show, but when she met Andy on The Rejection Connection, the two of them hit it off. Now he’s asked her to marry him, much to the public’s delight and fascination. They’re all set to wed on live TV in a seaside ceremony at the height of the wedding season.
But just as Wynne thinks all her dreams are coming true, her ex-boyfriend walks back into her life at the worst possible time. Steve broke her heart years ago, and she’s still sorting through her feelings for him. Her heart isn’t as clear as her head that it’s past time to move on-even though she’s engaged to Andy.
At a local TV talk show appearance, Wynne meets Meredith, who won another reality TV show-Marathon Mom-proving herself nothing short of a superhero. As Wynne’s beach wedding plans spin out of control, Meredith offers to help, unknowingly stepping on Wynne’s secret feelings . . . and exposing some secrets Meredith has been keeping to herself. Can these two reality stars get real about their feelings? Will Wynne go through with her televised wedding and be the perfect June bride the network is looking for?

Bubby: I often wonder when I see this type of  TV show, how much of the emotion is real and how much is scripted? The relationships hardly ever seem to last past the season finale. I wonder how many of the contestants are really there for love and how many are there to get their face on national TV? After reading A June Bride, I have a feeling it’s worse than I thought! Let’s just say that poor Wynne seems to be the only one in the whole place who’s actually interested in lifetime love.

Sissy: I couldn’t decide if Wynne is a hopelessly optimistic naive young thing or just an idiot. She doesn’t seem the type to accidentally find herself in the media storm of a reality TV show. Also, I was disturbed by ex-boyfriend Steve and how he had rejected her previously. I didn’t want to trust him too easily. Having said that, I actually enjoyed reading A June Bride. It was entertaining in a fluffy sort of way and got me happily through a 5 mile walk.

Bubby: Fluffy? Yes. Sweet? Absolutely. Like a large marshmallow rolled in caramel and dipped in chocolate. A perfect sweet treat for an afternoon escape. 3.5 bubbles.

Sissy: 3.25 bubbles from me.

 

Click HERE to buy A June Bride at Amazon.com

 


Alain Bonnard, the owner of a small art cinema in Paris, is a dyed-in-the-wool nostalgic. In his Cinéma Paradis there are no buckets of popcorn, no XXL coca-colas, no Hollywood blockbusters. Not a good business plan if you want to survive, but Alain holds firm to his principles of quality. He wants to show films that create dreams, and he likes most of the people who come to his cinema. Particularly the enchanting, shy woman in the red coat who turns up every Wednesday in row 17. What could her story be?  One evening, Alain plucks up courage and invites the unknown beauty to dinner. The most tender of love stories is just getting under way when something incredible happens: The Cinéma Paradis is going to be the location of Allan Woods’ new film Tender Memories of Paris. Solène Avril, the famous American director’s favourite actress, has known the cinema since childhood and has got it into her head that she wants the film to be shot there. Alain is totally overwhelmed when he meets her in person. Suddenly, the little cinema and its owner are the focus of public attention, and the red-plush seats are sold out every evening.
But the mystery woman Alain has just fallen in love with seems suddenly to have vanished. Is this just coincidence? In One Evening in Paris by Nicolas Barreau, Alain sets off in search of her and becomes part of a story more delightful than anything the cinema has to offer.

Bubby: One Evening in Paris is like a Woody Allen film in novel form. Sweet, quirky, utterly delightful. I loved all the plot twists and turns – and the fact that the whole story wasn’t revealed until the very end. Reading One Evening in Paris reminded me of my college days when I used to belong to the International Film Society. My friends and I would go watch grainy foreign films in a little theater and think that we were oh so sophisticated and mature. Oh, those were the days!

Sissy: I guess my friends Opie and John-Boy and I were too uncouth to belong to the International Film Society. And besides which, Woody Allen films are so annoying. While one of the characters in this book is meant to portray a Woody Allen-type person, it was so much more charming than any Allen film.

Bubby: O.K. I must confess that the only Woody Allen film I actually like is “Purple Rose of Cairo”. So any film snob-esque reference I might try to make really won’t work. I must also admit that me and my haute-monde friends would often go see a foreign film and then go downtown to the dollar movie and watch the latest blockbuster complete with large buttered popcorn and huge sodas. There. The truth has come out.

Sissy: I have never been to Paris (yet) but this novel made me feel like I was there. The whole sweet unfolding love story is encased in a backdrop of cafes, city lights, tiny espressos and baguettes. The main character Alain is so guileless and innocent, I fell in love with him. The search for the elusive “woman in the red coat” is at the same time both urgent and delightful. Alain’s worldly-wise friend, the womanizing professor, is a perfect foil and confidant. The characters of Solene and Allan Wood are almost caricatures of a famous starlet and director but they give life and color and excitement to the story.

Bubby: All in all, One Evening in Paris is absolutely enchanting. I want to take Sissy and hop on a jet right now. We’d grab ourselves some pastries and find a little art-house theatre and immerse ourselves in culture. And then we’d go be obnoxious American tourists. Come on, Sissy! Let’s go! I give this book 4 bubbles.

Sissy: Delightful is the word that completely describes One Evening in Paris by Nicolas Barreau. 3.75 bubbles. Enchante!

Click HERE to buy One Evening in Paris by Nicolas Barreau at Amazon.com

We received a copy of this title from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she’s the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, “Did romance have to be part of the adventure?” As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.

Bubby: Well, just as I abandoned Sissy a few weeks ago, this week Sissy abandoned me. Unfortunately, she is not off having fun but is rather recuperating from surgery. We decided that since she is hopped up on really good painkillers, I would take over today and fly solo. She’s outrageous at the best of times – I can’t imagine what she’d say when under the influence!

We were first introduced to the magic that is Alethea Kontis when we read and reviewed Enchanted last year. Hero is the next book in the Woodcutter Sisters. focusing on Saturday (that’s her name, by the way) this time around. We have adventure, romance, evil witches, shapeshifting creatures and natural disasters. A little bit of everything!

As with most of my favorite authors, I wish that Alethea Kontis would write faster and with greater output. I know these writers think that they need to have a life and a family outside of writing books for my personal enjoyment, but I really think they need to reevaluate their priorities! I have needs, people!

I highly recommend both the Woodcutter Sisters novels and am eagerly awaiting the next installment, Dearest, which follows, of course, Friday. It’s not coming out until February though. Not sure I can make it that long! Oh, and did I mention how much I love these covers? Fabulous! 4 magical bubbles from me. And don’t worry, next week Sissy and I will be back writing together again!

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

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family—especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire. When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate….

Sissy: Take the classic tale of Cinderella, turn it on its head, make the step sisters into heroines, philosophically explain the well-known symbols such as the pumpkin/carriage, glass slipper, etc, give the whole thing an intelligent and thoughtful makeover, and you have The Stepsister’s Tale.  As I read this intriguing re-telling I kept thinking how well it was transformed into a thought-provoking  yet still entertaining essay on society and perceptions of reality.  When I read the author Tracy Barret’s bio and found out that she was a long time professor at Vanderbilt it made sense.  Smart lady=smart, creative writing.

Bubby: I have to admit that when I started reading The Stepsister’s Tale I had a bit of an epiphany.  We are so used to the Disney-fied version of Cinderella, we rarely give any thought to how the step sisters felt about the whole thing.  But looking at things from their view, everything changes.  As is usual in fairy tales, all the parents in this story are blithering idiots who should have been sterilized at birth. I felt a strong urge to smack them all repeatedly.  What kind of man buys his daughter crystal-encrusted slippers and a sunset-colored carriage when his new wife and step-daughters are living in a moldering ruin and slowly starving to death?  No wonder Cinderella had so many issues!

Sissy:  This is also a searing look at the utter obliviousness and absolute pomposity of the higher classes.  The prince is a narcissistic dunderhead who cares nothing for his people, the mother is completely in denial of reality and her pride renders her unable to see the suffering and situation of her daughters.  I kept wanting to tell her to get a grip and start working like a real woman!  Stepfather was a ridiculous fathead and real father was a hopeless alcoholic who squandered the family fortunes and then abandoned everyone.  It’s amazing that Jane and Maude, through trials, hardship, and sheer willpower, manage to transform themselves into hardworking, empowered women.  A tale of pampered princesses not so much-this is a story of real life and real love.

Bubby:  Sissy, you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth! I guess it’s true that great minds think alike…  Tracy Barrett has written a great novel told from a unique viewpoint.  3 3/4 bubbles from me.

Sissy:  If you had a Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar I might take that right out of your mouth too!  But you don’t.  So I’ll just be hungry while I agree with you about Tracy Barrett, who has another fairy tale retelling, “Fairest,” in the works. The Stepsister’s Tale gets 4 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy The Stepsister’s Tale at amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

We received a copy of this title from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.


Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.
Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need. Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit.

Bubby: I have a new mission in life. It is to go to my nearest bookstore and purchase every single book that Lynne Branard (also known as Lynne Hinton and Jackie Lynn) has ever written. And then I will sit in my comfy chair with my stack of books and disappear into a world of meticulously crafted characters and communities that feel like I’ve been there before. And when I’ve read them all (and don’t bother me until I’m done) I will be a better person, because this book touched my soul.

Sissy: Let it be known that I read this book first. I texted Bubby telling her that it was wonderful and that she must read it. Exactly 23 hours and 55 minutes later, she texted me back that she wished our mom could read it (highest praise ever) and that she was giving it 5 bubbles. It is not everyday that you read a book that not only entertains you and thrills you with the anticipation of romance but also makes you think deeply about your own life. The Art of Arranging Flowers is one of those rare treasures.

Bubby: I’d like to talk about my favorite character here, but I can’t choose. Of course I love Ruby Jewell, our main character but there are so many people that I connected with as if they resided in my own town. Oh, I’ve got it. I choose Henry. Sweet, shy, stuttering Henry who loves librarian Lou Ann from afar by sending anonymous bouquets for months before finally asking her out. And as it turns out, she has loved him from afar the whole time! And what he creates for her in his backyard! Amazing! But the whole book is full of little interconnected stories like this. So wonderfully done, I am still amazed.

Sissy: What about poor little motherless Will? I totally fell in love with him and wanted to bring him home with me. And I adored Captain Dan Miller, former astronaut. All the wonderful things that he had learned in his life experiences and shared with the people of Creekside really made me contemplate my existence. And then all the behind-the-scenes things he did that we don’t find out about until the end? Priceless. I even felt a great affection for Ruby’s dog Clementine. Basically, author Lynne Branard is a sorceress who casts a magical spell with her words and makes you become deeply emotionally involved with all her characters.

Bubby: There are several women in my life whom I love dearly that will be receiving a copy of The Art of Arranging Flowers as soon as it is published on June 3, 2014. It’s so lovely that it must be shared. 5 bubbles. 5 big huge rose-scented bubbles and I’d give it 6 if I could.

Sissy: When I find an author who writes like this, so transcendently and beautifully, I want them to live and write books forever. So Lynne, if you ever need a kidney, give me a call. 5 bright, unbreakable bubbles.

Click HERE to buy The Art of Arranging Flowers at Amazon.com

We received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

 

 

 


“The best times of my life, the times that have passed by me the most quickly, were the times when the roses grew wild.”


 The lessons that most enrich our lives often come unexpectedly. That’s what Kate Bowman learns when she moves temporarily—with her husband and baby son—to her grandmother’s Missouri farm. The family has given Kate the job of convincing Grandma Rose, who’s become increasingly stubborn and forgetful, to move off her beloved land and into a nursing home. But Kate knows such a change would break her grandmother’s heart.

Just when Kate despairs of finding answers, she discovers her grandma’s journal. A beautiful handmade notebook, it is full of stories that celebrate the importance of family, friendship, and faith. Stories that make Kate see her life—and her grandmother—in a completely new way….

Sissy: In the absence of Bubby this week I am doing something new in conjunction with something old, just to shake things up and see if I can get myself in trouble (when the cat’s away…). The NEW thing is that we are going to revisit some of our favorite reviewed authors of the past and see what else they have up their sleeves, whether new or old.  The OLD thing is Friday Favorites, which Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate qualifies for since it was published in 2001.  Get it? (I’m also putting all my text in green, just because Bubby’s not here to stop me!).

 We first reviewed Firefly Island by this author in April of last year, and later found out that she has written many award winning books and series’.  I decided to introduce you to Wingate’s very first book, Tending Roses, which is also the first book in a series of 5.  Here are Lisa Wingate’s own words about the genesis of Tending Roses:

“My grandmother came to stay with me when the baby was small, and together we decided to plant flowerbeds in front of my house. One day, when the baby was fussy, we had to go inside rather than finishing the flowerbed. Grandma bundled the baby and sat down in the chair with him, and soon he was quietly drifting off to sleep. As the afternoon sun streamed in the window, Grandma leaned back, closed her eyes, and began telling me the story of her life, and her flowerbeds, and the lessons she learned there. That story, “Time for Tending Roses,” eventually became the inspiration for my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, which was published by New American Library (Penguin Putnam) in June, 2001. Of all of the books, Tending Roses remains my sentimental favorite, because of the real-life connection with my grandmother.”

Now, I’ve got to tell you, I felt like the lessons Kate (the main character) learns through her grandmother’s story journal were universal, having application for me and for everyone.  I just wish I could have perfect recall of them at the exact moment I needed them (and was about to do or say something stupid…).  This story is so real, so human, so emotional–it makes complete sense that it was inspired by the author’s own feelings and experiences.  Tending roses is a complex and heartwarming tale of family relationships, love, and plain old human life, and is well worth the read.  I give it 4.25 bubbles, and I definitely plan to read the rest of the series!

Click HERE to buy Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place. (From Amazon.com)

Sissy:  Before I talk about this book, I must inform you that Bubby has flown the coop, left the building, abandoned ship, gone awol, and washed her hands of me and this blog.  But do not despair–it is temporary!  She will be back next week to resume engaging me in witty repartee’ and thus you will only have to endure two blog’s worth of me talking to myself (not nearly as fun; bordering on insane).  Bubby is off gallivanting at a wedding somewhere in the Northwest, and I am left to my own devices.

Now let’s talk about My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White.  I know what you’re thinking–another Mr. Darcy-themed book?  How many books based on Pride and Prejudice and/or its characters can there possibly be?  Jane Austin would probably be puzzled at the longevity of and obsessions over her best known work.  I admit it myself–the “new” Pride and Prejudice is my favorite all time movie, and the “old” six hour version with Colin Firth is my favorite mini-series of all time. We have reviewed at least two other books with Pride and Prejudice themes in this blog, so I’m afraid our own semi-obsession is undeniable.  But so what?  I’ll continue to read about Mr. Darcy until people stop writing about him or until they have to pry the books out of my cold, dead hands, whichever comes first.

My Own Mr. Darcy is a light-hearted, quick read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Lizzy, the main character, seems to be a fun, smart, like-able girl, but in her quest to find the man of her dreams she is pretty blind and stubborn.  It is really frustrating to watch her try to choose between Chad and Matt because the answer is so obvious to the readers.  But don’t we behave just like this in real life–totally missing the mark because of our dumb paradigms and stupid obsessions?  And how many girls out there have had the experience of trying to make a guy fit into her idealistic role?  I know I have.  When Lizzy takes off her blinders and sees what’s real and true and important, she discovers who the man of her dreams really is.  Too bad that doesn’t always happen in real life.

Karey White has done an outstanding job of creating a magical, romantic tale.  The descriptions are well-done–usually I have trouble seeing something in my mind (would it be so bad to have pictures in novels?), but things came alive for me in this book.  I spent a lovely afternoon caught up in the world of Lizzy, Chad, and Matt.  Karey White has written three books, My Own Mr. Darcy, For What It’s Worth, and Gifted, and a novella, Maggie’s Song.  She has a new fan in me!  4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White on Amazon.com

©2014 Bubble Bath Books