Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: Adventure

Forget prophecy. Make your own destiny. Sheltered from the outside world with no hope for escape, slave girl Reychel dreads her fifteenth birthday – when her master’s symbol is burned on the back of her bald scalp. Her best friend disappears the night before, leaving her to face the branding ceremony alone. She soon discovers nothing is as it seems when people desperate for freedom beg for Reychel’s help. Can Reychel learn to believe in herself? (From Netgalley.com)

Bubby: Sometimes we go and look at other’s reviews on a given book just to see what other people are thinking. Sometimes when we do that, we find wildly conflicting opinions. That is the case with Anathema. It seems to us that Anathema was published previously and has been re-released after some major editing, hence the conflicting reviews. At any rate, the version of Anathema that I read was really quite a treat. Original, well-written, great characters. It is the first in a series of 6 books that are split into two trilogies (Cloud Prophet Trilogy and Swarm Trilogy) and a novella that promises to tie the two trilogies together. I have in my possession said novella and book 1 of the Swarm Trilogy. Happy reading ahead for me!

Sissy: Our main character Reychel is a slave who is given some strange preferential treatment by her owner Kandek. Her story is an exciting adventure that leads us to find out she is much more than she thinks. Twisty relationships and secrets revealed add drama and color to the whole tale. There is a touch of romance to spice things up and a whole cast of interesting characters.

Bubby: Including, as always, one you’ve just got to hate. Oh, that character is a nasty piece of work!

Sissy: But that character is dealt with deliciously in the end. All you have to do is look at the face of the cover model and her dreamy eye makeup and you know she is clever and bound to come out on top.

Bubby: Perfect book for a beach read. Now all I need is a beach! 3.5 bubbles.

Sissy: Experience with Reychel secrets that will change her life. I know you can’t wait to find out what happens! 3.5 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Anathema at Amazon.com (Currently FREE!!)

We were given a copy of this title from Netgalley.com 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


Desperate to escape an arranged marriage and the life her high-ranking government official father planned for her, Cat Hunter does the unthinkable. She runs away from her homeland Tellus, disguises herself as a boy, and stows away on an air ship. She’s ready for life in a new land where the general population isn’t poverty stricken and at the mercy of the cruel officials. What she isn’t quite ready for is meeting Fox, a crew member aboard the Stormdancer—which turns out to be a smugglers’ ship. So begins an epic adventure that spans both land and sea.

Bubby: I highly advise you to pop over to lucysaxon.com and learn a little more about this amazing teen author. She seems pretty dang cool. And the book is pretty dang cool too.

Sissy: Lucy Saxon actually wrote the book when she was 16, can you believe it? She’s very clever and imaginative and I’m blown away at the world that she has created in Tellus. The heroine, Cat, flees a horrible home situation and finds a wonderful alternate family aboard the ship Stormdancer. This book is filled with wonderful characters and exciting adventures. I didn’t like the surprise ending, if I’m being honest, but the writing is great.

Bubby: I am not overly fond of the ending either but it makes sense. Every scene is described with vivid intense detail – you really feel like you are right there in the different lands of Tellus, fighting for truth and justice! Wonderful writing throughout. It looks like there will be 6 books in this series but they will be written as stand-alone books that just share a timeline and a setting. I can’t wait to read more from this new young author.

Sissy: Saxon does the steampunk thing well. There are futuristic gizmos and gadgets aplenty alongside a more Victorian-type society. This juxtaposition is intriguing to me and made the adventure that much more complex. I give this debut a solid 3.75 bubbles.

Bubby: Lots of fun. My teens will really enjoy this and so did I. 3.5 bubbles.

 


A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance. Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory. The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect? (From Amazon.com)

Bubby: In my dreams sometimes I pretend that I am a beautiful woman disguised as an elite warrior. My fighting skills are legendary and the few men who know my secret are captivated by my exotic beauty and keen intelligence. And then I wake up and realize that I am dreaming about this book I just read: Defy by Sara B. Larson. There are many many writers out there, and multitudes of books to read and many of these are debut novels. However, not many of them (whether they be debut books or book #42) are as captivating and intense and just dang GOOD as this one. At its core, it is a story we’ve heard before – a girl dresses up like a boy to escape a “fate worse than death”, in this case, the breeding houses set up by the evil king to provide a never-ending source of warriors. But the plotline explodes from there. Secrets, rebellions, love triangles, handsome princes…I could go on and on.  But when I go on and on Sissy yells at me so over to her.

Sissy: Well, Bubby, that was a literary lake of lusciousness, although I remember your dreams differently. You must have been dreaming the warrior fighting bits when your heel was shoved into my ribcage (Bubby and I had to share a bed in our youth, when we were sharecroppers in Alabama). Did your princess self like to wrestle, too? Cause I remember being caught up in your claustrophobic clutches many a time, causing me to dream about being strangled by dwarves.

Bubby: Seriously? Are you EVER going to get over this? So I was a bit of a restless sleeper. And I wouldn’t go to sleep unless you sang to me. Repeatedly. But is that so bad? And really, it was only for five years or so and then you abandoned me! It’s time to move on. You’ve been sleeping without me for decades now. Talk about the story!

Sissy: So our heroine Alex(a) never has to sleep with her sister –

Bubby: Because she doesn’t have one. Otherwise I bet she’d have loved to share a bed with a beloved sister…

Sissy: Anyway, she is the very definition of a kickbutt girl. I had an inner conversation at one point when I was reading of her great feats of strength and endurance and bravery and I said to myself, “Self, you are overly fond of this chick and her exploits. But you are nothing like her! You don’t like to sleep on the floor and fight with men hand-to-hand and be smelly and have scary adventures and save the world. You must be schizophrenic!” And I answered myself, “You could possibly be right.”

Bubby: Umm. Well, let’s not rule out schizophrenia just yet, but I think we all do this with characters we love. I love the Lord of the Rings books and movies but there is no way on earth (or Middle Earth for that matter) that I would have volunteered to go on any kind of world saving mission. I would have just hung out with the elves and learned cool hair braiding techniques. That’s what good books are for – to escape our own existence and live vicariously through someone else. And if they happen to be beautiful and exciting and ever-so-deadly, then hooray!

Sissy: Bubby the philosopher has answered the esoteric question of the hour. Notwithstanding my weenie arms, I identified with Alexa and thoroughly ate up Defy. I give it 4 bubbles, not to be popped by hidden boot daggers, which I will probably start wearing any day now.

Bubby: I still think you might be schizo, Sissy, but I will agree with you that Defy is an outstanding debut. I loved it. 4 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Defy by Sara B. Larson at Amazon.com

We were given a copy of Defy by the publishers in return for a fair and honest review.

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry. From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke. (From Goodreads.com)

Sissy: I read this book a few weeks ago and really liked it, but I didn’t tell Bubby about it because she is a Regency romance snob. She is very vocal about the fact that she finds them insipid, inane, redundant, ridiculous. In other words, she doesn’t like them and she considers herself far above the whole genre. (She just tried to blow a raspberry at me and ended up spitting on herself which was quite hilarious and made my day).

Bubby: Did not! (While wiping spit off her own chest . . .)

Sissy: At any rate, imagine my confuzzlement when Bubby calls me and tells me we must review this fabulous book called Edenbrooke. What happened, my uppity snobbish one?

Bubby: You’re right. I don’t particularly care for Regency romances. However, let me just paraphrase what Julianne Donaldson herself said: she grew up reading Georgette Heyer, queen of the Regency genre and wanted to write something similar while making it more accessible to the modern reader. That’s me. Miss Modern Reader, right here. Julianne Donaldson said that she tried to accomplish this by moving the story along at a quicker pace and leaving out some of the unnecessary elements. Thank you very much, Julianne Donaldson. I loved Edenbrooke. It was divine. And I didn’t have to wade through 20 pages of wardrobe descriptions (the third pearl button on the cuff of her French-embroidered soigne twinkled in the reflected light from his 18-karat gold hand engraved cufflinks bought at Snooty DeVillier’s on Broad Street . . .) or 50 pages of “she glanced his way. He caught her eye, so she immediately lowered her countenance and scurried to the rose garden lest he espy the unbecoming rose blush upon her cheeks . ..” and similar time-wasting genre specific garbage. I felt quite refreshed to have a story set in a time period that I am actually quite fond of and not get bored with all the minutiae.

Sissy: Well said, Bubby! Edenbrooke is a delectable story set in Regency England. I really don’t have anything else to say after Bubby’s paragraph. I think she used all the words in the whole dictionary. Our readers should just buy the book, recline on their fainting couches and have a splendid afternoon.

Bubby: Oh come now. Wouldn’t you like to discuss how yummy Sir Phillip is? Almost on par with the admittedly incomparable Colin Firth? Or we could compare and contrast the relationship of Cecily and Marianne to our own sisterly bond.

Sissy: Oooh! I’ll bite! How even though you’re shallow like Cecily and I am grounded like Marianne, we still love each other to bits?

Bubby: Not exactly what I had in mind, but sure. I don’t think either of us have much in common with Cecily, though. She is all about the money and the status and how good she looks sitting side-saddle. We are both more like Marianne. Can you imagine living in a time period when gently bred young women were expected to do nothing more than receive callers, do embroidery and play the piano while looking attractive to possible suitors?

Sissy: We’d have WAY too much fun with that. Kind of like how Keri Russell’s character in Austenland sings something inappropriate whilst playing at the pianoforte.

Bubby: Hmm. Wouldn’t know. Someone went and saw that movie without me. Moving on now!

Sissy: If you read the synopsis of Edenbrooke, you may think that it is indeed a formulaic Regency romance. But Julianne Donaldson’s writing is so refreshing, you feel like you are reading a whole new genre. I give Edenbrooke 4 tightly corseted bubbles.

Bubby: We have family issues, romance all over the place and a perfect setting. What more could one wish for? (I have already purchased Julianne Donaldson’s next book, Blackmoore – that’s how much I liked it!) 4.5 perfectly proper bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson at Amazon.com

©2013 Bubble Bath Books


Georgie Burkhardt’s sister Agatha is dead. Everybody says so. They have a body and it’s wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown. But Georgie doesn’t believe.  So she sets off on a journey into the western frontier with her determination, her Springfield single-shot rifle and a mule named Long Ears. Georgie knows in her heart that Agatha must still be alive and she is bound and determined that she will find her.

 

 

 

Sissy:  This is another book that may at first seem too young for our demographic because the protagonist is only 13.  But it is another book where that supposition would be wrong.  It is good writing that transcends all age groups (well, probably not pre-school age, but you know what I mean).  How often, these days, do you get to (or even want to) read a good Western?  Cuz that’s what this is–True Grit meets The Birds.

 Bubby: Yeah, the birds kinda freaked me out a little bit. I am sad (I guess) that there are no more passenger pigeons flocking about the countryside – evidently they moved in these massive migratory patterns consisting of thousands and thousands of birds – but I am glad that I don’t have to live in a place that is full of pigeon doodoo. But the story is good and that’s all that matters.

Sissy: I do know that I never want to be in the middle of a pigeon migration. I never want to be in a pigeon hunter’s camp. And yes, I thought the birds were creepy. Georgie, however, I really liked. That girl has some spunk and tenacity. She was not going to be moved from what she believed and acted on it, even in the midst of some pretty dangerous times. I understand her point of view but I would also duct tape my 13 year old to the wall if they ever tried to do what Georgie did.

Bubby: Can you imagine, Sissy? If one of your older kids disappeared and then was presumed dead? And then your 13-year-old decided it wasn’t true and took off with his trusty rifle in the midst of the lawless wild west to go find his missing sibling? Terrifying! I really feel for Georgie’s mom. Here she is mourning the loss of one child and then the other runs off to who knows where. At least Georgie is not alone on her adventures. She has Billy McCabe, her sister’s former beau along to take care of her – although she ends up taking care of him instead!

Sissy: This story was engaging and fun to read although I wanted more out of the ending. I wanted Georgie to grow up and fall in love with Billy.

Bubby: Me too! Dangit!

Sissy: But that’s not what Georgie wanted. Her life goal was to be an unmarried shopkeeper and she had a great head for business. So I cannot impose my desires onto her life, although it would have made the story better I think.

Bubby: Who knows what the future could hold for Georgie? I personally see a sequel in the future. You know, Georgie’s store gets robbed and she heads off to deal some vigilante justice and ends up marrying the misguided thief who has a heart of gold. It could happen. Hey Amy Timberlake! You listening?

Sissy: Why don’t you drop Amy Timberlake an email right away – -I’m sure she’s just sitting waiting for your story ideas.

Bubby: I’m just saying that it could happen. You don’t know. At any rate, it was a great book. There were twists and turns that I didn’t anticipate and I truly didn’t know until the very end if Agatha was dead or would turn up alive. Definitely worth a read. 4 dusty, pigeon feathered bubbles from me, pardner.

Sissy: Oooh, stinky, Bubs! One Came Home is a quick, fun title to read. I give it 4 squeaky clean bubbles.

Bubby: Fine. I’m changing my bubbles to blue-green silk ball gown fabric covered bubbles. (Read the story, you’ll figure it out.) Ha!

Sissy: Much better.

Click HERE to buy One Came Home by Amy Timberlake at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013


The Far Pavilions is a sweeping epic of India in the 1800’s.  Ashton Pelham-Martyn was born in India to British parents but was raised as a native Indian after the death of his parents, making him never feel completely at home in either culture. Anjuli is a half-caste princess whose mixed background also causes her tribulation and pain. The story takes the reader on a rich journey through wars, tribulations, hope and romance, teaching us that love can truly conquer all in the end.

Sissy: Back in the day when I first read this I was enchanted by the imagery and senses evoked by the writing in this epic tale.  I could see the purple shadowed “Far Pavilions” mountains, smell the spices of India and see the bright, bold saris worn by the Indian Princesses.  I wanted to go to India then, and I still do.

Bubby: I really feel that we should stop writing right now and pop off to “The Bombay House” and fortify ourselves with a little chicken kurma and roti. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it Sissy?
Sissy:  Ah, that sounds divine!
Bubby: As I was refreshing my memory of this book I found that I could get the 1984 miniseries (Ben Cross, Omar Sharif!) and immediately started watching it – boy did I get comments from the kids! I didn’t get to finish so if you can’t get my attention in the next few days, it’s because I’m watching The Far Pavilions! It’s such a grand sweeping epic – not to be missed, either in book form or movie.
Sissy:  I remember when the miniseries came out–I was so excited.  I was skeptical about Amy
Irving playing an Indian princess, but she pulled it off.  This go round I listened to the “The Far Pavilions” on fully dramatized audiobook, and it was great.  I loved the music and the accents.  It is frustrating, though, to hear all that they have to go through before they finally get together (is that a spoiler?).  Princess Anjuli is too loyal to her sister, in my opinion, and that causes lots of unnecessary anguish.
Bubby: I have to say that I fell in love with our main characters just for their names. Who can resist Princess Anjuli and Ashton Pelham-Martyn? Just delicious. Add to that the story of a boy who is English but was unknowingly raised Indian, a forbidden love affair and the struggles between British rule and Indian autonomy. Fabulous.
Sissy:  Agreed.  I also am going to watch the mini-series so that I can have the full sensory experience again.  One of my favorite characters was Koda Dad, the protector of the princesses and the prince, who also becomes close to Ash.  Played by Omar Sharif in the mini-series, by the way.
Bubby: Omar Sharif! He’s up there with Sean Connery and Cary Grant in the fantastic hot old guys list. Sorry, I got distracted there for a minute. Wow – you should all hear the noise that is coming from Sissy’s kitchen right now. Sounds like a herd of rabid rampaging elephants! M.M. Kaye is one of the most descriptive writers I have ever had the privilege of reading. Within the first 20 pages you feel that you are right there in India in the 1800’s. You can almost smell and taste and feel everything that she is writing about. It’s rather amazing.
Sissy:  I’ve sent the elephants back to the Maharaja’s stables, now, and I’ll have Mustaq, the stable boy, clean up their “leavings.”  After that I shall retire to my mosquito netting covered bed, pat some patchouli on my temples, drink some mango lassi, and finger my forehead jewel.  M.M. Kaye’s sweeping epic of romance and adventure in colonial India inspires me thus, and I give it 4 bubbles.
Bubby: I have to put in a few disclaimers before I rate this book. First off, this is a HUGE book – 960 pages. Secondly, it is violent. We have wars, uprisings, ritual burnings – but it’s not gory. And all the violence is integral to the storyline. Thirdly, the ending is not storybook perfect. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not Disney Princesses happy ever after. All this being said, I still think everyone should read The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye at least once in their life. And watch the miniseries too. 5 bubbles.