Books To Take You Away From It All

Category Archives: Friday Favorites

“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


Catch up with Ethan, Lena, and Link as they finally graduate from high school and get ready to leave the small Southern town of Gatlin. But when Dark Caster Ridley makes an appearance, the sometime bad girl can’t resist picking a fight with her sometime boyfriend, Link. Angry and rebellious as ever, Ridley ends up alone in New York City and becomes entangled in the dangerous underground Caster club scene, where the stakes are high and losers pay the ultimate price. (From Netgalley.com)

 

Bubby: Now all you Beautiful Creatures addicts, don’t get too excited. This is NOT a new book but rather a teaser novella/short story that introduces the new book, Dangerous Creatures (coming out May 20th). All of our favorite characters are back but this time around the focus is on Ridley, that naughty lollipop wielding Caster girl.

Sissy: Yes, Ridley is naughty and if I were her mother I would lock her in her room and duct tape her to the wall! This novella made me mad because la la, yes, it gets you a glimpse into the life of Ridley and whets your appetite for the new book, but the story just leaves you hanging. This is rightfully called a teaser!

Bubby: But it was fun to read anyway! 3.5 lollipops. I mean bubbles.

Sissy: Yes. Still mad. 3 bubbles for me.

Click HERE to buy Dangerous Dream by  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl at Amazon.com

©2014 Bubble Bath Books

 


Jarod Klum was trapped in his small life in the small village of Eventide and saw no means of escape. He would never be worthy of the woman of his dreams, never achieve great deeds of valor and never be remembered in song or story. It wasn’t that he was without dreams. He dreamed them every night; of rescuing the imperiled Caprice Morgan from marauding pirates who had somehow come up the river or of returning from a great Quest beyond the village boundaries laden with treasure that he could lay at the feet of the appreciative Caprice Morgan. But each morning he awoke in his straw bed and knew he was just Jarod Klum.
Until, that is, the coming of the Dragon’s Bard. The Dragon’s Bard convinced Jarod to win his fair Caprice through ‘heroic deeds of a more manageable scale’ – setting Jarod on a course of misadventures that turns the town on its head. Jarod’s single-minded pursuit of his greatest wish – even if it is a broken one – escalates until the only thing left for him to do is to become a dragonslayer and save the town from a ferocious, legendary monster that everyone fears but no one has ever seen. ‘Eventide’ is brought to life through the stories of the interweaving lives of its citizens, their follies, joys, tragedies and triumphs on a scale of life to which we can all relate. In the end, it is a visit to a place where we ourselves would like to settle down and live out our lives as we should. (From Goodreads.com)

Bubby: Hey, Sissy, it’s been a while since we’ve done a Friday Favorites!

Sissy: And this one is one of the most fun books I have ever read. It is so clever and goofily whimsical. I applaud the Hickmans for having such creative brain cells! The characters are so weird, entertaining and craftily crafted. I had a ball reading Eventide.

Bubby: Craftily crafted? Really?

Sissy: Do we have to deal with your absurd wordsmith envy again?

Bubby: Wordsmith envy? Really? It’s like you think you are a character in Eventide. Hmm, let’s call you Sissy the Witless Word Coining Sprite. You can even have little purple iridescent wings with all of your strange words and expressions flitting across them. I like it! I like it! And I can be, let’s see…

Sissy: You can be Bubby the Fatuous Foot Fungus Fairy!

Bubby: Hey! Who you calling fatuous? I prefer Sorceress of Sarcasm, thank you very much. Now back to the book. Any novel that has characters like Gossip Fairies and Centaur Farmers and dancing blacksmiths is a win for me. I have long been a fan of Tracy Hickman’s high fantasy work – his Dragonlance books are well known to us nerdy geeky people – but his writing with his wife, Laura is fantastic in a whole new way. Eventide is light and fluffy and just dang fun.

Sissy: The premise of the story is that the Dragon’s bard has to collect stories to tell the dragon king so as not to be killed. So the Bard is always meddling in the villager’s affairs, especially Jarod our main character, with hilarious results. But there’s also a bit of romance and danger and even heart warming moments. I can’t say enough about how satisfyingly enjoyable Eventide was.

Bubby: A great start to a (so far) 3 book series. I can’t wait to read the other books (Blackshore and Moredale) and find out what the Bard is up to next! 3.75 floaty and frothy bubbles from me.

Sissy: Such a fun read for teens and adults alike. I don’t want anyone to think that this is too lightweight or is just for kids. It really struck my funny bone and for that reason, I give it 4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Eventide (Tales of The Dragon’s Bard #1) at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


Sissy: Someone had the great idea of recruiting different authors to write retellings of favorite fairy tales and call them Once Upon A Time. We have chosen two of those, Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguié and Snow by Tracy Lynn, to review for you this week.  Midnight Pearls is based on The Little Mermaid and Snow is, of course, based on Snow White. Each of these has an interesting twist on the original story; one is a merperson/human love square and one involves human/animal mutants. Yes, you read correctly.

Bubby: I know that someone out there is saying, “More fairytale retellings? Haven’t you already done that? Why would we want to read more of those?” Well, you naysayer you, let me tell you why. There is a reason why singers keep recording new versions of classic songs and authors keep rewriting fairy tales. When something is good, it’s good and it’s so much fun to take something classic and put your own spin on it. One of my favorite stations on Pandora is an a capella station that is all covers of popular songs redone without accompaniment. It’s fabulous. I feel the same way about fairy tales – and I especially love this series because they are so well done and unusual.

Sissy: I thought these were rather cleverly done.  If I had to choose my favorite of the two, it would be Snow, because of Tracy Lynn’s interesting characterizations.  If you like this kind of story (always a guaranteed happy ending!) you will like these and you will want to look up the others (19 of them, including several by one of my favorite authors in this genre, Cameron Dokey).

Bubby: Both stories are beautifully written and are just the thing to cure the “oh crap it’s almost winter” blues. There is nothing quite like a well-done fairy tale to make me feel all happy and bubbly – they’re almost better than chocolate. Almost.

Sissy: Also, in the midst of one’s “oh crap it’s almost winter” moment, one might only have a small bit of time to read and these are short little delicious nuggets of around 200 pages that can be nibbled up in no time. You will still have time to haul out the warm clothes and snow boots and dig up the last of your garden and go to the children’s fall concert, etc., etc. I give them a magical 3.5 bubbles each.

Bubby: It’s kind of like Disney Princesses for grownups. Delightful. A collective 3.5 bubbles from me as well.

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Click HERE to buy Snow by Tracy Lynn at Amazon.com

Click HERE to by Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguié at Amazon.com


A charming romantic comedy about a hard-up single mum inheriting a stately home – and a host of headaches – The perfect novel for curling up with during the long winter nights.Sophy Winter is not your typical Lady of the Manor….When she unexpectedly inherits Winter’s End – a crumbling mansion in the beautiful Lancashire countryside – it seems like all Sophy’s prayers have been answered. She eagerly swaps life as an impoverished housekeeper in favour of her own team of staff.But Sophy quickly realises the challenge on her hands – the house is decrepit and its eccentric inhabitants are a nightmare. And once it is discovered that Winter’s End played host to a young Shakespeare, the entire village of Sticklepond becomes curious about Sophy’s plans, especially charming Jack Lewis. But is he really smitten by Sophy…or her newly-acquired cash?Meanwhile, Sophy’s gorgeous head gardener Seth is the strong and silent type. But does his passion bloom for anything beyond the horticultural?As Sophy gets to grips with squabbling relatives, collapsing buildings and the ghostly presence of one of her ancestors, she wonders if Winter’s End is not so much a gift from the gods as a mixed blessing…A charming romantic comedy! (From Goodreads.com)

Bubby: I dated a guy like Jack Lewis once. Briefly. Very briefly. Reminds me of a quote from the play I saw the other night – Prince Charming talking to his princess ( in Into The Woods): “I was raised to be charming. Not sincere.” Just a slick-talking guy with shiny teeth and good hair. No substance.

Sissy: But almost leaves a slime trail behind him. Every time Sophy talked about being attracted to Jack, I wanted to scream, “No! NO! Step away from the slimeball!” Too many times in the past was I initially deceived by a pretty face.

Bubby: Mr. Sissy has a very pretty face.

Sissy: Yes, however there is gold on the inside of Mr. Sissy. Now this is not your usual fairytale where poor girl inherits a fortune and a mansion. Sophy’s inheritance comes with a lot of trouble attached and I admired how hard of a worker and how undeterred by problems she was.

Bubby: She got the mansion. Too bad there was no fortune to go along with. At least not in cash. There is, however, a legend that somewhere lost in the walls of Winter’s End is a treasure of immense proportions. And there is. But I can’t talk about it. Sissy would smack me for being a spoiler!

Sissy: I would never smack you! (Unless it was vitally necessary to your maturation process . . .) At the beginning of every chapter there is a quote from the journal of Alys Bezzard, Sophy’s ancestress. So as Sophy’s story unfolds, the last bit of Alys’ life is revealed as well, and it is full of intrigue and sadness.  A Winter’s Tale is a contemporary fiction/mystery/romance, but it is also salted with scrumptious bits of historic witchiness and magic.

Bubby: I am pretty sure I have achieved all the maturation that I’m going to get, Sissy. No smacking required. There’s nothing I like better than a little magic sprinkled in with a touch of romance. Makes me happy. I hadn’t read Trisha Ashley before and I was so happy to have discovered her. Sometimes when I find an author that is new to me I go on a bit of a buying binge and purchase two or three (or more) of their novels and read them all at once. I did this with Trisha Ashley and loved them all.

Sissy: So annoying when Bubby buys e-books that can’t be lent to me, so I always encourage her to buy the more expensive hard bound books. A win-win for me and the author! Now back to A Winter’s Tale. Sophy’s Great-Aunt Hebe is a curmudgeon, possibly because of her name. I would be a curmudgeon if my name was Hebe. My favorite quote of the book comes from her when she says,”What are you bellowing for? You sound like a cross between the Last Trump and a cow in labor!” I can’t wait to use that on one of my loved ones.

Bubby: Sounds like something you’d say. If you are looking for a light and fluffly dose of British-ness, A Winter’s Tale (or for that matter, any other book by Trisha Ashley) is the book for you. 4 bubbles.

Sissy: Seth, the head Gardener, is  hot and broody. Therefore, you should read this book. 4 bubbles from me as well.

Click HERE to buy A Winter’s Tale by Trisha Ashley from Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


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


Iolanthe MacLeod has waited centuries to be rescued from her half-life existence. She has been trapped in an abandoned castle on the English moors since her untimely death back in 1382 and she is sure she will be there forever. Thomas McKinnon is a modern-day American business tycoon who is jaded by the lack of love in his life. When he buys Iolanthe’s abandoned castle and travels to England to restore it, he is totally unprepared to find Iolanthe in residence. But he was even more unprepared to fall in love. Now Thomas is willing to go anywhere and do anything if it means he and Iolanthe might somehow be together.

Bubby: I have no fewer than 12 Lynn Kurland books on my shelves at this very moment. That should tell you something right off the bat. I’m not sure what it is about these books – the settings of lonely castles on Scottish or English coasts or moors, the spunky women who usually do not wait around to be rescued or the hunky renaissance-era, broadsword toting, chivalrous men. Perhaps it’s the overriding air of delicious romance. Who knows? At any rate, My Heart Stood Still embodies the best of Lynn Kurland. We’ve got ghosts. Time travel. True love. Castles and hunky men. I’m happy.

Sissy:  I, being the lucky sister who has access to Bubby’s bookshelves, have also read a lot of these time-travel, paranormal romances by Lynn Kurland.  They fit a specific reading mood for me, and I can always count on them to give me action, laughs, and a delicious love story.  This one in particular has a fun twist with the time travel going in a different direction than usual.  Also the hero is not a sweaty, foul-breathed dude from the 14th century who has to learn to wash himself regularly–always a plus for me.

Bubby: Nope. The hero, Thomas, is a thoroughly modern businessman with a broken heart. Irresistible! A recurring theme in Kurland’s books is a little bed and breakfast in England called the Boar’s Head Inn. It happens to be owned by Thomas’ sister, Megan. It also happens to be heavily populated with ghosts from Thomas and Megan’s ancestry. Some of them are English, some Scottish, there’s a random French guy in there and they don’t exactly get along. My favorite scenes are the interaction between the ghosts – duels in the kitchen, song and ale fests and so forth. They are just hilarious. These ghosts have decided to take the fate of their descendants into their own hands – matchmaking is their favorite activity (just after sword fighting).

Sissy:  Love the tavern ghosts!  They remind me of all my male relatives.  I know why you love these books, Bubby, when you usually turn up your nose at historical romance.  Our ancestry is English, Welsh, Scottish, and French, and you are having genetic remembrance–your very DNA is pulling you with longing to those damp and cloudy surroundings and begging you to have a cuppa.  I would like to address this series as a whole, however.  Actually there are two time-travel romance series’ by Kurland – the McLeod series and the de Piaget series.  They often intersect.  Lots of romance, time travel, broadsword slinging and throwing into dungeon pits.  Most all of these are clean, but a very few push the line.  I can’t say which ones as my brain is too moldery to remember.  But mostly the whole collection is great.  Bubby says I’m writing a novel here so I have to stop before she chokes on a hairball.

Bubby: A hairball? Really? Heavens. I would agree that the settings do appeal to me but what appeals even more, especially in My Heart Stood Still, is the willingness of these characters to go to any length for true love. Travel through time with no guarantee that you’ll end up in the right time? Fighting to the death with unfamiliar weapons? Leaving all that you know behind to live in the time of your beloved? Sure, no problem. True love conquers all. Now I do love my husband with every fiber of my being but if he wanted me to go live in 1385 with no running water or toilet facilities and no chocolate and no books and music on demand I might have an issue. Thankfully I don’t see that kind of test of our love happening anytime soon!

Sissy: Oh pshaw, Bubby, you’d jump right into the past to get your hubby, I just know it!  Your teeth would all rot out and you’d get a communicable disease or two, but still!  Toothless and scabby are worth it for true love, right?  Nobody seems to be as in love with our ghostly heroine Iolanthe as they are with Thomas, but after so many centuries in a damp and decrepit semi-final  resting place, she probably has developed a borderline personality disorder.  She just needs some therapy and a few Xanax.  I liked her.  I liked the whole book.

Bubby: Great books for when you need a little romantic escape. It’s been a bit since I read one – methinks I might indulge a little this evening! I give My Heart Stood Still 3 ½ light and fluffy medieval bubbles. Did they even have bubble bath? Ah, who cares!

Sissy:I have a better idea for you, Bubby. Why don’t you buy Lynn Kurland’s latest book and then lend it to me? 3 ½ bubbles from me too.

Click HERE to buy My Heart Stood Still by Lynn Kurland

© Bubble Bath Books 2013