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

© 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


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

©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

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

© 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

Click HERE to by Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguié at

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

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

© 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 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 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

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

Christmas was once the best time of the year for Joy Candellaro. But as the holiday draws near this year, she can’t find it in her heart to celebrate. Recently divorced and betrayed by her sister, she feels totally alone. She decides to just disappear for a while, to a remote destination in the Pacific Northwest. But life has a way of changing one’s plans. Soon Joy will begin an adventure no one could have forseen – one that could change her life forever. once loved Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she is at a crossroads in her life; recently divorced and alone, she can’t summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. When an unexpected detour takes her deep into the woods of the Olympic rainforest, Joy makes a bold decision to leave her ordinary life behind—to just walk away—and thus begins an adventure unlike any she could have imagined.

Bubby: Sometimes I read a book that just hits me right in the heart and it becomes an instant favorite – one I go back to and re-read often and one that I recommend often. This is one of those books for me. I just love love love it. It’s a magical story and it ends good and it just makes me happy.

Sissy:  I re-read this at Bubby’s behest because I couldn’t remember if I had read it or not.  As you can tell by the word “reread,” turns out I had read it and liked it some time ago.  The writing by Kristin Hannah is excellent, and this is underscored by the major plot twist that comes up mid-book of which I shall say nothing further.  Lovely, lovely love story, emotional tale of sadness and joy.  As the garage door repairman said today after telling me about how this week so far his truck has broken down, he broke his finger, and his tools all got stolen “without the bad things we wouldn’t appreciate the good things.”

Bubby: Yes, I could not agree more. Joy Candellaro is in desperate need of some comfort and joy in her life. She has to be – why else would she be desperate enough to hop on a chartered plane with a bunch of bearded hunters bound for the north of nowhere?

Sissy:  What happens in her personal life is horrible, and I think I would be tempted to do the exact same thing.  Actually, I probably would have reacted with more violence and mayhem and THEN hopped a plane to nowhere.  I sincerely hope I would be as forgiving as Joy if I was in such a situation.  I can’t imagine it, though.  I can only picture bloodshed…

Bubby: Well, as much as I love and adore your dear husband, I really don’t think you have to worry about us running off together. Icky. I’m not worried about you stealing my husband either – if only for the fact that he’s 3 feet taller than you and 20 years younger. Bad match there! Yes, readers, Joy’s sister and Joy’s husband have hooked up and left Joy in the dust. And oh yeah – the sister is pregnant. And did I mention that Joy has no children and would love to be a mom? I agree that getting on a plane is the best of the options!

Sissy:  Let’s clear some things up here.  A.  I am NOT 20 years older than Bubby’s husband, nor am I three feet shorter.  B.  I have spent the last 26 years training my husband to be just perfect and I’m certainly not going to start over on some interloper.  And now that Bubby has told you the beginning of the story, you can see why I might become violent in that same situation.  But the story just gets better from there.  Joy goes on to a whole different adventure, delves into the paranormal, and comes out in one piece at the end.

Bubby: The best part of Comfort and Joy is the sweet relationship that develops between Joy and little Bobby, the boy she meets after the plane trip. They just bond instantly – it’s like they can instantly fill the holes in each other’s hearts. It makes me remember when my boy was little and sweet. Ah, those were the days! But there is a problem – Bobby’s father Daniel is not as fond of Joy as Bobby is.

Sissy:  Bobby is adorable, but in his grief over losing his mother he suffers from some delusions.  But are they really delusions, I ask you?  And Daniel is described as a very fine looking Irishman (I’m thinking Gerard Butler in that role), who Joy finds herself very attracted to.  I admit I was nervous about Bobby getting so attached to Joy so fast, because I didn’t want him to suffer again if and when she left.  Now you are thinking you know how the rest of the story goes, but you are WRONG!  Just when you think you have it figured out, Kristin Hannah pulls a fast one out of left field and you don’t know what hit you.  Good stuff.

Bubby: Hey! I was going to say that!

Sissy:  Great minds…-

Bubby: Exactly. I have read this book on the couch by the tree at Christmas, on the beach in Hawaii and of course, in my bathtub and it never fails to make me smile. Pure magic. 4.25 bubbles.

Sissy:  I read it in my massage chair…I think this is a first class getaway read.  4 bubbles from the violent one.

Click HERE to buy Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah at

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Twelve-year-old Dana Shannon is not excited to spend her summer helping her parents remodel their “new”  over 100 year old home.  But when she starts to strip away wallpaper in an upstairs parlor, she discovers a hidden room — complete with a human skeleton! Dana finds a diary in the room, and begins to learn the answers to her many questions:  Who was the skeleton?  Why were they sealed up in that room?  How did they die? Amazing discoveries about the house, the family who lived there, and the underground railroad make this the most exciting summer of Dana’s life!

Sissy:  I picked Steal Away Home by Lois Ruby as my Friday Favorite for two reasons:  1. Though the target audience for this book is much younger than what we usually review for, I found it to be well written with a good story line and plenty engaging enough for me. 2. Two of my mom’s friends gave her this book when she first got sick with cancer and they inscribed it with a nice note including wishes that she get better soon (she never did).  She really liked the story and was distracted from her painful situation for a few sweet hours by it.  She then passed it on to my younger daughter.  So, there you have it.

Bubby: I can’t imagine finding a human skeleton in my house! I once found a skeleton of a small dinosaur (or rodent) when we remodeled our home as a child and that was enough for me. Whenever I read about the horrors of slavery I just can’t hardly believe that people can be so stupid and inhumane as to doubt the value of someone else’s life. Ridiculous. I am grateful to be living in a time where the color of someone’s skin has nothing to do with the value of their existence.

Sissy: I so much admire the people who participated in the underground railroad and were willing to put their own lives and the lives of their families in danger for the greater good of humanity. I hope that I would have not been too frightened to have done the same. I can imagine myself being terrified but hopefully a higher power sustains and encourages those who decide to do the right thing.

Bubby: On a lighter note, I can remember reading this years ago and liking it. What I didn’t remember is all the hijinks Dana and her friends get up to. Witholding evidence from the police? Watching horror movies (with equal numbers of boys and girls at age 12) and breaking into abandoned houses? I guess once you have children your viewpoint changes drastically. I found myself appalled more than once! (Yes, I am THAT MOM – my kids call me the Psycho Stalker Mom because I have to know everything about everyone always).

Sissy: While I am the mom who keeps forgetting the rules I’ve already set – but it’s ok because my kids keep them anyway, and I always pretend I am on the ball, so they don’t realize what they could get away with if they were evil miscreants. It’s mostly a moot point now anyway as I have only one minor left in my brood, and he gets in trouble for trying to get over 100% in his classes (can you just hear me saying “Young man, you will be satisfied with that 98% or you are grounded!).  I shall not complain.

Bubby: Yes, your kids are pretty dang awesome. Mine too.

Sissy: This book translated well to the adult audience for me because Lois Ruby is funny  and witty. The story could have gotten all bogged down with heavy subject matter and rhetoric but she managed to address a fairly serious topic in a balanced way.

Bubby: I agree. Good choice this week, Sissy. I give Steal Away Home 4 bubbles.

Sissy: I agree with your agreement, Bubby. 4 bubbles for me too.

Click HERE to buy Steal Away Home from

©Bubble Bath Books 2013

Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is a painting titled “The Shell Seekers”, painted by her father. Penelope has recently had a heart attack which has prompted her to take inventory of the many experiences she’s had in her richly unconventional life. As her father’s works have become popular and are now worth a fortune, Penelope’s children each have an idea as to what should be done with the beloved painting, none of which Penelope likes. As she reminisces she realizes the perfect solution – one that would have thrilled her father and one that warms her own heart.




Sissy:  The vague memory in my head was that I loved all of Rosamund Pilcher’s books, so I decided to review The Shell Seekers, which was one of her best sellers.  While I still think the book is very good, in re-reading it I found that some of the characters live a rather more morally Bohemian lifestyle than I had remembered.  Nothing spelled out or explicit–just mentioned as part of the story.  That having been said, Pilcher doesn’t shy away from the consequences of such a lifestyle–which include unplanned pregnancies, loveless marriages, and some lost chances for true love.

Bubby: La la la la gardening, la la la la sandy beaches, la la la sunshine breaking through clouds, la la la art and romance, la la la . . .

Sissy:  What are you doing, you crazy person?

Bubby: La la  . . . what? Oh! Sorry. I was immersed in my lovely little kitchen garden in the back of my tiny stone cottage in Cornwall. You know, in my dreams! I think we should add Cornwall to

the list of places we absolutely must visit before you are too old to journey, Sissy.

Sissy:  Well I’m so glad you haven’t been sipping the crazy sauce and are just doing your usual “Dame Bubby” dream world weirdness.  I am having a significant birthday soon, so feel free to send us to Cornwall post-haste!  However, I would be glad to not be there during World War II, as some of this book is.  No bombs or rationing, please darling.

Bubby: As much as I would love to whisk you away for your significant birthday (70 is the new 30, darling!) I am afraid all my money is currently going to pay the plumber who is at this moment filling my home with strange fumes and has turned off all my water. So if I get a little loopy today, it’s the plumber’s fault, ok? I am always shocked when I read WWII era books at the deprivations ordinary people had to suffer through. No gasoline, no sugar, no chocolate!!, no new clothes, make it all yourself or go without. I feel quite spoiled. The Shell Seekers moves seamlessly from the WWII era to modern-day (about 1984 or so).

Sissy:  Okay, so our main character Penelope is minding her own business and living her life in Cornwall, when she suffers a heart attack.  This is the beginning of her life story. And p.s., in the far-flung future when I turn 70, I will be the sexiest 70 yr old you’ve ever seen!  Any hoodle, Penelope’s 3 children appear and we get to know all about them and their lives.  Two of them are completely selfish and bratty, and the other is at least a functional and compassionate adult.  Each chapter is named after a character in the book, and the reader gets to travel back and forth through time and enjoy the ins and outs of the family saga.  There is a lovely little art mystery woven in there as well.

Bubby: While I was reading this earlier in the week, one of my teenagers was giving me grief and I was getting rather annoyed. And then I read more about Noel and Nancy and Olivia, Penelope’s children, and suddenly my kid didn’t seem so bad!

Sissy:  No, your kids are not greedy, backstabbing monsters who think they are entitled to everything and want to do nothing to earn it.

Bubby: Thank you, Sissy! I was appalled at the behavior of the so-called adults in this tale. At least Olivia had some sense and feeling and it was obvious that she was her mother’s favorite. My favorite characters, at least two of them, were Antonia and Danus. They were so sweet to Penelope and so in love and deserved all the good things that happened to them!

Sissy:  A sweeping saga of family, love, and history, The Shell Seekers is good for an afternoon or two of getaway-ing.  I give it 3.75 bubbles.  And now I want to watch the movie!

Bubby: And it’s been made into not one, but two movies! One in 1989 starring Angela Lansbury as Penelope and one in 2006 starring Vanessa Redgrave, both of which were well rated (but 2006 sounds better). I can see a movie and popcorn night in mine and Sissy’s future! 3.5 bubbles.