Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: Christian Fiction

Katie Parker is about to get a new life—whether she wants one or not. With her mom in prison, and her father AWOL, Katie is sent to live with a squeaky-clean family who could have their own sitcom. She launches a full-scale plan to get sent back to the girls’ home when she finds herself in over her head…and heart. When Katie and her new “wrong crowd” get into significant trouble at school, she finds her punishment is restoring a historic theater with a crazy grandma who goes by the name of Mad Maxine. In the midst of her punishment, Katie uncovers family secrets that run deep, and realizes she’s not the only one with a pain-filled past. Katie must decide if she’ll continue her own family’s messed up legacy or embrace a new beginning in this place called In Between. (From Goodreads.com)

 

Bubby: I have found a new favorite author – and so has my teenage daughter. You know an author is good when I finish a book and NEED to buy the next two books immediately, which is exactly what happened with the Katie Parker books by Jenny B. Jones. And as for my daughter? I let her read the first book one morning during the last days of summer vacation and I swear to you she did absolutely nothing else except read. All three books. Luckily she reads freakishly fast!

Sissy: Here’s the thing about Jenny B. Jones. She’s hilarious! This you would not expect from a young adult genre book but I laughed out loud so many times. The dialogue is so witty I wished that I could come up with stuff like that. My favorite character was, of course, Maxine, Katie’s foster grandmother.

Bubby: I LOVE Maxine! I want to BE Maxine!

Sissy: Excuse me, I was not finished. Anyway, when you read the conversations between Maxine and Katie (especially in the second and third books) you’ll see that Jenny B. Jones totally channels a crazy 60 or 70 something year old lady. I went to the author’s website and looked at her picture and look at her! She’s this young thing! Awesome humor, Jenny.  You and me should be friends. Then I would be more popular.

Bubby: Wow, Sissy. Popularity isn’t everything, you know! I really enjoyed the arc of the three books. First we have our introduction to Katie and to James and Millie, her foster parents. We get to watch Katie struggle with being accepted in the town and with learning how to live in a loving home. And then there’s book two, On The Loose. It’s the perfect middle book. Everything goes wrong. The town gets hit with a tornado, Millie gets cancer, and it’s just drama, drama drama!

Sissy:  Plus a new male character is introduced, et voila!  We have a love triangle!  Tate, who supposedly looks like Channing Tatum (need I say more?), brings interest/confusion to Katie’s life.  Will she end up with long time crush Charlie or new boy Tate? You may think you know the answer to that question by the end of book three but then Ms. Jones decides to kill us with a teaser for a yet-to-be published novella (Can’t Let You Go) in which things seem to go a different direction. I read somewhere that the novella is supposed to come out September 21st but that is not confirmed on the website. I truly went crazy at that point and wanted to go camp out on Jenny Jones’ doorstep until she fed me the end of the story!

Bubby: Exactly! I have strong feelings on how I want it all to turn out but my strongest feeling is that I want to know! Right now! I can’t possibly recommend these books highly enough. I loved them. I bought them as ebooks and I will probably buy them in hard copy as well. And maybe build a shelf just for them. And hold them and squeeze them and call them George…

Sissy: Okay, now you’re getting creepy.

Bubby: Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to say all of that out loud. Oops. Anyway, 4.5 bloomin’ bubbles from me. Loved them.

Sissy: Great series. I’m only giving them 4.87 bubbles and not 5 because of the crazy-making novella that I cannot read yet.

Click HERE to buy In Between by Jenny B. Jones from Amazon.com.

Click HERE to buy On The Loose by Jenny B. Jones from Amazon.com.

Click HERE to buy The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones from Amazon.com.

 

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

 


 

Welcome to Mitford, North Carolina where the hills are green, the air is clean and the people are downright neighborly. This is the home of Father Tim, a late-middle-aged bachelor Episcopal priest who is somewhat unsatisfied with himself and his calling. In his search for a more meaningful life, Father Tim is about to get more than he ever bargained for – a new dog, a new neighbor and lots of new challenges – all of which will make Father Tim’s life better and richer than he could possibly have imagined.

Bubby: I have loved the Mitford books since they first came out, back in 1996. They are ALWAYS clean, uplifting and entertaining – rare qualities in books these days. I love the characters – they are well drawn and really feel like friends right from the beginning.

Sissy: I too have enjoyed Jan Karon’s Father Tim series, although I could only read two in a row and then I would have to give myself a break and then come back and read more. Mitford sounds like an idyllic town but having lived in small towns myself, I know that there are downsides as well. Father Tim has to deal with everybody knowing everybody’s business and everybody wanting to know his – especially all the middle-aged single women. I do love Father Tim.

Bubby: You know, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read this book but the characters have stuck with me the whole time. First there is Emma Garrett, Father Tim’s nosy but loving secretary. I’d love to meet this woman. She sounds like an Episcopalian version of my dearly departed Aunt Hermoine. Loud, sassy, brassy and fabulous! Then there is the new neighbor, Cynthia. Oh how Father Tim wants to dislike this woman! And we can’t forget little Dooley, the boy who needs lots of love and care and has nowhere to turn but to Father Tim. And Esther – the lady who bakes the fantastic orange marmalade cakes.

Sissy:  Father Tim, in case you wondered, is an Episcopalian priest, ( in case you didn’t catch that in the synopsis) and therefore allowed to have romance and marriage.  His quirky relationship with new neighbor Cynthia is fun to watch unfold.  I was surprised when I saw reviews from people who don’t like this series– they accused it of being too “nice,”  or “unexciting,” or too “non-cerebral.”  While I agree that this is not the stuff of Oprah’s book club or of the Hunger Games excitement league, sometimes its nice to read about good, wholesome people doing good things.  And these characters do have unique quirks and endearing traits a-plenty.

Bubby: I also saw comments saying that Jan Karon’s writing isn’t realistic or true-to-life and has too much “religious content”. Hallelujah! I find that real life is either not very interesting or way too painful or dramatic! I don’t want real life in my reading – I want something that makes me happy, that has a good ending and that spiffs up my day. Jan Karon’s Mitford series does that in spades. And who reads a book about a priest without expecting to run into a scripture or two? It’s good for you. Trust me. The series isn’t static, either. Even though our main character is an older gentleman, he still goes through the whole gamut of emotions and experiences, from love to fatherhood, sorrow and joy. It’s all there.

Sissy: Yes! And who says that just because you’re in your 50’s that means life is over and you’re all washed up and crinkled?

Bubby: Actually . . .

Sissy: I am not done. Who says that just because your jowls are sagging you don’t still need love? Love, romance, excitement, adventure? Who says you don’t still have the same feelings you had in your 20’s? You’re just a little bit wiser.

Bubby: And . . .

Sissy: Not done yet. And when you are in your 50’s, you know who you are and you have half your life left to get it right. That’s why I like Father Tim and Cynthia. I get tired of these perky little 20 and 30 year olds running around acting like they are the only ones who are important.

Bubby: *Raising hand* Can I speak now, Sissy? Or are you STILL not done?

Sissy: No one has to worry about you not getting your say in, Bubby. I’ve never worried about that our whole life!

Bubby: I’ll take that as a yes. I was trying to agree with you, dear one (not that you actually have ANY first-hand knowledge about being in your 50’s.) We review a lot of Young Adult fiction here and it’s refreshing to have an older protagonist for a change. Give At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon a read – or a re-read in my case. You’ll feel all warm and happy inside when you’re done! 4 bubbles.

Sissy: Father Tim and company get 4 bubbles from me as well. Take that, you young whippersnappers! You kids get off my lawn!

Click HERE to buy At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon from Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon from BookDepository.com

©Bubble Bath Books 2013

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 When Lance Michelli’s grandmother sends him on a quest to uncover forgotten family secrets, he ends up at a villa in Sonoma, CA. He needs answers, but the villa is now owned by Rese Barret, a young woman who wants nothing to do with Lance or his mission. At first adversaries, a fierce attraction brings them closer together as they begin to uncover a mystery that has been hidden for decades.

Bubby: This is a great love story.  An added bonus for me was that great Italian cooking is featured prominently all the way through. No recipes, though. Too bad. The characters here are very dynamic – Lance and Rese go through lots of growth, both personally and in their relationships with others.

Sissy: Growth, schmowth! I wanted to slap Rese upside the head because it took her so long to behave like I wanted her to behave. Plus, I was confused at first as to whether they were in Italy or California.  And when books talk about food all the time, all I want to do is eat. 

Bubby: Schmowth? Is that even a word? Sissy forgets all the issues that Rese had to overcome.  I did want her to move it along a bit faster, but it all turned out great. Or maybe not. Read it and find out! And just to clear up any confusion, the book begins in New York, goes to Italy for a bit and ends up in California.

Sissy: I enjoyed the book enough to purchase the second and third installments in the series. Bubby also forgot to mention the delicious historical mystery that lurks within the pages.  I still want to slap Rese in the head.

Bubby: What kind of person goes around wanting to slap people in the head all the time? Now I can’t remember what else I was going to say about the book.

Sissy: Come on, Bubby, I’m the one in the menopausal haze! What about the skeletons? Secret passageways? Hidden treasure?

Bubby: Not to mention The Mob, a few wacky friends, and a loud dysfunctional family. Wait, are we talking about the book or our last family reunion? All joking aside, this is a great read. I really got drawn into the story and couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out.

Sissy: Definitely read this book. I give it 3.5 bubbles.

Bubby: Yep. 3.5 bubbles from me too.

Click HERE to buy Secrets (The Michelli Family Series #1) by Kristen Heitzmann at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy Secrets (The Michelli Family Series #1) by Kristen Heitzmann at BookDepository.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2012