Books To Take You Away From It All

Monthly Archives: June 2014

To the student nurses at The Nightingale hospital, the ward sisters are heartless and frightening, with impossibly high standards. But the sisters have troubles of their own…
Violet
The new night sister is not all that she seems. Who is she and what dark secret is she hiding? As the mystery deepens, Sister Wren is determined to find out the truth.
Dora
The student nurse is struggling with her own secret, and with her heartbreak over Nick, the man who got away. A new arrival on the ward brings the chance to put a smile back on her face. But can she really get over Nick so easily?
Millie
Dora’s fellow student is also torn between the two men in her life. But then an unexpected friendship with an elderly patient makes her question where her heart – and her future – really lies.
As the nation mourns the death of King George V, it seems as if nothing is ever going to be the same again, especially for the women at the Nightingale.

Sissy:  Back at the beginning of June we reviewed the first book in this series, The Nightingale Girls.  Much to our delight, we were able to receive a copy of this book, number two in the series, so we just had to read it!  And recommend it to you!

Sissy (again):  Oh, you thought Bubby might chime in about how much she enjoyed the continuing saga of Dora, Helen, and Millie?  You thought she would natter on about the new nurse Violet, or wail about waspish sister Wren?  Well, you thought wrong.  Bubby is, at present, in Spain!  You heard right–Spain!  But I am not jealous.  Oh, no–I would never begrudge Bubby the opportunity to savor the sights of Seville and meander in Madrid.  And I certainly carry no envy concerning her plans to leap over to Lisbon, Portugal, and trot down to Tangier, Morocco.  I am perfectly happy to  stay here and write this blog by myself in the exciting and stimulating environs of small town America.  So, until further notice…

At any rate, The Nightingale Sisters is thoroughly enjoyable, and you will find yourself highly invested in the dramas, highs and lows, and everyday dealings of the nurses at the Nightingale hospital.  4 starched-white bubbles!

Also–Stay tuned for upcoming blogs from me and various guest bloggers in my sister’s absence.  It will be exciting!

Click HERE to buy The Nightingale Sisters by Donna Douglas at Amazon.com

©2014 Bubble Bath Books


This hilarious Southern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice tells the story of two hard-headed Civil war historians who find that first impressions can be deceiving.

Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, is on the fast track to tenure—that is, until her new book is roasted by the famous historian Ransom Fielding in a national review. With her career stalled by a man she’s never met, Shelby struggles to maintain her composure when she discovers that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her small Southern college.

Ransom Fielding is still struggling with his role in his wife’s accidental death six years ago and is hoping that a year at Shelby’s small college near his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, will be a respite from the pressures of Ivy League academia. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman whose career—and pride—he injured, and who would do anything to make him leave.

When these two hot-headed southerners find themselves fighting over the centuries-old history of local battles and antebellum mansions, their small college is about to become a battlefield of Civil War proportions.

With familiar and relatable characters and wit to spare, Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits shows you that love can conquer all…especially when pride, prejudice, love, and cheese grits are involved! (From Amazon.com)

 

Sissy: Well, bless my soul! I’m tickled Magnolia pink to have found Mary Jane Hathaway and her “Jane Austen Takes The South” novels. The South is a perfect venue for Austen-inspired tales with all its tradition and social mores. This story was absolutely dee-light-full. Shelby and Ransom were the perfect dueling duo and the dialogue is hilarious. I found many well-done Pride and Prejudice allusions and no, I never got sick of them! Shelby’s mother and sisters are so shallow and snarky, it would be as satisfying as a slice of pecan pie to pop them all in the mouth.

Bubby: I know that one is not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but some of these covers lately have been so gosh darned lovely that I just can’t help it. Just look at that cover. Look at it, I say! That’s a frothy confection if ever I’ve seen one! And the color! And the little magnolia blossom in the middle between the title and the author? Scrumptious. Good for me that the book inside is just as yummy. Shelby and Ransom have that instant attraction-at-first-sight thing going on. There are little frissions of romantic tension every time they are within 20 feet of each other and Mary Jane Hathaway is so skilled at writing that you can feel it from your armchair. And then Shelby keeps putting her foot in her mouth and Ransom keeps misunderstanding things and it just gets more deliciously tangled the further you read.

Sissy: There are two intriguing subplots going on as well. One involves Shelby’s graduate student Katie and the greasy slimester real estate man (David Bishop) that Shelby’s vapid mama wants her to date and the other is a civil-war era mystery that can make or break Shelby’s bid for tenure. The whole thing is engaging and entertaining. And guess what? I’m fixin’ to go out and buy myself book two in the series, called Emma, Mr. Knightly, and Chili-Slaw Dogs. Who can resist a title like that? And here’s even better news: book three is scheduled to come out in November and it’s titled Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin’ Corn Bread.

Bubby: I’m not sure exactly what a chili-slaw dog is, but since I plan on stealing the next book from Sissy as soon as possible, I bet I’ll find out! One last thing that I loved about Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits is the Pride and Prejudice quote at the beginning of every chapter. They just added a little bit more happiness to my overall enjoyment of the book. 4.25 bubbles from me.

Sissy: Yes, I loved those quotes. They gave a hint as to what was going to happen in each chapter. I enjoyed Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway more than a deep-fried bacon cinnamon roll at the county fair. 4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway at Amazon.com

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

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


Zayne and Agatha have always been a match in wits, but will unlikely circumstances convince them they could also be a match made in heaven?

Sissy: We are book snobs. When I see a book from a Christian publishing house, I will admit that I am immediately beset by a bias which tells me it will be overly cheesy.

Bubby: Possibly with a side of overly preachy.

Sissy: Yes, that too. And I am a Christian. Bubby is too, on a good day.

Bubby: And what, I’m a Druid Priestess on bad days? Sheesh! It was once that I hosted the skyclad dancing under the moonlight in the backyard. Let it go!

Sissy: If that were true, you’d be much more entertaining. Anyway, what I was trying to say was that when I read a novel from a Christian publishing house that surprises me with its literaryness, I have to eat my words and bash my bias. A Match of Wits resulted in word-eating by moi.

Bubby: It’s witty and funny and fast paced and has a spunky heroine with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Great read.

Sissy: Everything Bubby said plus a good dose of wacky tongue-in-cheek adventure and dialogue. Surprise, surprise! I recommend you read it. 3.5 bubbles

Bubby: I will definitely be on the lookout for more by Jen Turano. 3.75 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Match of Wits by Jen Turano

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

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


When two unlikely allies become two unwitting outlaws, will two unforgettable lovers defy unbeatable odds? Bonnie Rae Shelby is a superstar. She’s rich. She’s beautiful. She’s impossibly famous. And Bonnie Rae Shelby wants to die. Finn Clyde is a nobody. He’s broken. He’s brilliant. He’s impossibly cynical. And all he wants is a chance at life. One girl. One boy. An act of compassion. A bizarre set of circumstances. And a choice – turn your head and walk away, or reach out your hand and risk it all? With that choice, the clock starts ticking on a man with a past and a girl who can’t face the future, counting down the seconds in an adventure riddled with heartbreak and humor, misunderstanding and revelation. With the world against them, two very different people take a journey that will not only change their lives, but may cost them their lives as well.
Infinity + One is a tale of shooting stars and fame and fortune, of gilded cages and iron bars, of finding a friend behind a stranger’s face, and discovering love in the oddest of places.

 

Bubby: This is what, the 3rd novel by Amy Harmon that we have reviewed? That, in and of itself, should tell you how good Infinity + One is. It has engaging characters, perfectly drawn settings and beautiful dialogue – everything that one expects from the pen of our dear Amy. But for me, this novel is about moments of grace. They appear over and over again as we follow Bonnie and Finn’s adventure. Moments where a split-second decision changes the course of not only Bonnie and Finn’s lives but the lives of all those they touch. Of course, it all starts with Finn’s choice to save Bonnie instead of just walking away.

Sissy: We read a lot of books. Most of them are good, middling stories without much depth but nevertheless entertaining. But sometimes we find authors who are able to go beyond the superficial and get under our skin. Amy Harmon does this once again in Infinity + One. I know that an author’s least favorite question is “Where do you get your ideas?” but I found myself going there while reading this book. I just kept thinking that the plot is so unique and yet the love story is so well-done that it feels like you are reading about the love between people you’ve known for years. I truly cared about Bonnie and Finn. I felt that they were my friends and I wanted to be part of their lives. That is one of the  keys to outstanding writing.

Bubby: I loved that both Bonnie and Finn were just trying to be their most authentic selves – that they were tired of being who other people thought they were or should be. Bonnie wanted to be normal – to be loved for herself and not for her music or for her monetary potential or her stardom. And Finn wanted to escape who his past had forced him to be. I think that we all sometimes wish for the opportunity to start over fresh and create the identity that we feel we could have had under different circumstances. For example, I’m pretty sure that if Sissy had her druthers she’d be the Imperial Grand Duchess of some tiny European country – lots of money, lots of shiny jewelry and no real responsibilities!

Sissy: Exactly. In fact I am working towards that goal at this very minute. Give me a pony! Sometimes I become weary of analyzing books, their characters, the plot lines, blah, blah, blah and I just want to say how I FELT during the reading experience. That, for me, makes the decision between a thumbs up or a thumbs down or a middling hovering maybe. When I read Infinity + One I felt like I was transported into the story and lived and breathed it right along with the characters. I experienced frustration, angst, happiness, sadness, frustration and finally joy.

Bubby: You know that you said frustration twice, right?

Sissy: So maybe I felt it twice! So sue me! You messed up my reverie, Bubby. I was in the groove! You’re always messing up my stuff!

Bubby: It’s part of the “little sister” job description. Are you done with your eloquent waxing yet? I have things to say too…

Sissy:  I was going to say that when I came to the oh so satisfying end, I felt like I had awoken from a trance. I didn’t know who or where I was. And I just wanted to get back in the story. There were so many bits of dialogue that were nuggets of quotability. Again I wondered how someone could come up with all these wonderful things! Now I’m done.

Bubby: So in real life, I cry very easily. So much so that it’s a running joke with my children. But I rarely cry when reading – I know, it’s strange. However, there was one scene at the very end of Infinity + One where a particular character, a homeless man named William, just brings it all together and ties it up with a pretty satin bow. And I cried. So there. Oh, and we got an advanced copy from Amy herself – and I STILL went out and bought the finished product.

Sissy: As usual, I love me some Amy Harmon. 4.5 bubbles.

Bubby: Beautifully written. 4.5 bubbles from me too.

**This is a New Adult novel and as such has a few bits of language and so forth. No “F” words or nasty “nekkidness”, however.**

We received a copy of Infinity + One from the great Amy Harmon in return for a fair and honest review. Thanks, Amy!

Click HERE to buy Infinity + One by Amy Harmon at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

 


When someone buys the old Honeycutt house, Nora Bonesteel is glad to see some life brought back to the old mansion, even if it is by summer people. But when they decide to stay through Christmas, they find more than old memories in the walls.

On Christmas Eve, Sheriff Spencer Arrowwood and Deputy Joe LeDonne find themselves on an unwelcome call to arrest an elderly man for a minor offense. As they attempt to do their duty, while doing the right thing for a neighbor, it begins to look like they may all spend Christmas away from home.

In a story of spirits, memories, and angels unaware, Sharyn McCrumb revisits her most loved characters who know there is more to this world than the eye can see, especially at
Christmastime.

Bubby:  Sissy, you do realize its June, right?  And Christmas is more than six months away?  And it is 85 degrees outside?

Sissy:  Christmas is in my soul year round, dearest one.  And when I saw that Sharyn McCrumb had a new Nora Bonesteel novella out, my heart sang Christmas carols of joy!!

Bubby:  Okay…so what about the fact that this title won’t be published until October?  I know it is full of McCrumb’s signature Appalachian folksy flavored warmth and magic and fabulous storytelling, but aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves?

Sissy:  First of all, sister mine, the summer will fly by as per usual, the leaves will fall and the pumpkins ripen, and people will be looking for an alternative to the standard, insipid holiday fare.  They will say “oh yes, I remember that the perfect Christmas novella by Sharyn McCrumb is out.  I must hie to Amazon and purchase it!”  Secondly, if people forget this post, when they see the novella advertised at various outlets they will say “oh yes, I remember that Bubby and Sissy highly recommended this book because it is an entertaining, heartwarming tale full of nostalgia and Christmas magic.  Or, best of all, they will go to amazon.com or somewhere else and pre-order it, and when October comes they will receive an unexpected bit of joy in the mail or on their device.

Bubby:  Alright, I see that you won’t let this one wait.  As Sissy has pointed out to all you readers, this is the perfect vehicle for a getaway on a crisp Fall afternoon.  4 bubbles

Sissy:  I love Sharyn McCrumb’s tales of Appalachia, and nothing is more wonderful than revisiting beloved character Nora Bonesteel.  4.5 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to pre-order Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past on Amazon.com

©2014 Bubble Bath Books

 


Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in 1936, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender, driven by ambition, but also desperate to escape her squalid, overcrowded home and her abusive stepfather. Helen is the quiet one, a mystery to her fellow nurses, avoiding fun, gossip and the limelight. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother, who dominates every aspect of her life. Can a nursing career free Helen at last? The third of our heroines is naughty, rebellious Millie an aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned. This utterly delightful novel brings a London pre-war hospital vividly to life.

Sissy: Take the BBC’s “Call The Midwife”, move the nurses to various floors of a pre-WWII London hospital and you’ve got The Nightingale Girls. This is a good thing. I just finished watching Season 4 of “Call The Midwife” and absolutely loved it, so it was easy for me to have the TV version of The Nightingale Girls playing through my head as I read it. You’d be surprised at how much drama and intrigue can go on in a 1930’s hospital setting — not quite ER or Gray’s Anatomy but still intriguing, funny and heartwarming.

Bubby: I have never seen “Call The Midwife” but if it’s anywhere as good as this novel, I’m in! I loved the differences between the three girls, all sharing a room whilst training to become nurses. Dora is trying so hard to rise above her upbringing (and her miserable lecherous sad-excuse-of-a-man stepfather) and Millie wants to escape her aristocratic responsibilities. And poor Helen just wants to be able to choose something, anything, for herself instead of constantly having to please her harridan of a mother. They are an unlikely trio and don’t get on well at all at first, but in the end, they make peace with each other. The play between the three adds so much life and color to this story. It was just wonderful. Oh, and even though I had no desire to enter the healthcare industry prior to reading The Nightingale Girls, now I REALLY don’t want to be a nurse. Nope. Never. Uh-uh.

Sissy: Yep. I was almost a nurse. Then I got to student nursing in post-op and discovered that I am nothing like Florence Nightingale. I’m more like the agoraphobic cat lady across the street who wants NOTHING to do with your personal business! While Florence is probably in heaven, I guess that tells you where I’m going! But back to the story. It leads off with Dora, whose story is amazing, and ends with all three girls having quashed certain demons and found very satisfying life pathways.

Bubby: And romance! There’s some romance too! Good, parent-thwarting, “I will die if I can’t have that man!” romance! Loved it! (Of course, if it was MY kid who was involved in a parent-thwarting soul searing romance it’d be a whole different story. But this is fiction so it’s okay.)

Sissy: Sometimes when you read about these parents who engage in such life-hindering behaviors, you think, “There can’t possibly be parents who behave this way!” but after having surgery last week and watching 59 episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, I can say that there are definitely horrid mothers who deserve to be exposed on national TV. The Nightingale Girls is the first in a series of books (so far, four novels and a short Christmas story) which are all available as e-books now in the U.S. (you can only get them in book form in the U.K.). I shall be reading all of them. You should too. 4 bubbles.

Bubby: So now not only do I have to go watch 4 seasons of “Call the Midwife”, but I also have a whole stack of Nightingale books that I must read. Oh, my life is so terribly difficult… 4 perfectly sterilized, pristine, health-inducing bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas at Amazon.com

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

© Bubble Bath Books 2014