Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: Coming of Age

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. In The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

Bubby: The plot was good, the characters were great but the best part of The Kiss of Deception was definitely the way Mary E. Pearson structured the novel. We’d have a segment from Lia’s point of view, a section from the prince’s side of things and then one from Mr. Assassin Boy. And the kicker was that for most of the book you have absolutely no idea which boy is which. We only know them as Kaden and Rafe. Is Kaden the prince? Or is it Rafe? Only one way to find out!

Sissy: I totally didn’t know who was the prince and who was the assassin until it was revealed when the assassin kidnaps Lia. I got it all wrong and was surprised but glad. This tale leads you on a merry chase, literally and figuratively. First of all, when Lia flees on her wedding day with her maid Pauline, she knows where she’s going but not how to get there or what she’s going to do when she arrives. She has to take on a whole new persona and hide from unknown villains. She doesn’t know who to trust, even though her heart is trying to give her clues.

Bubby: Her heart is doing her no favors. It tells her to trust BOTH of the boys – even the one who’s been sent to kill her.

Sissy: But her heart definitely makes her lean in a certain direction. Her new life as a hard-working bar maid prepares her for the rough road ahead when she gets kidnapped and her life takes on a decidedly un-princess-like turn.

Bubby: You’d think there would be a clear-cut bad guy in this story but there really isn’t, except for the shadowy leader of the barbarians who we really don’t get to know much about. And there is one other big nasty scumbucket but I can’t reveal who. You’ll know him when you see him. You’d think the assassin would be the bad guy, but even as you hate what the assassin is doing, you still feel for him and wonder what he could have been under different circumstances.

Sissy: There are lots of delightful side plots and characters that fill out the story and make it so delectable. When I got 95% into the book and realized that things weren’t going to resolve, I threw myself onto the floor, banged my fists and said “Fie!” And when is book 2 coming out? Quick, Bubby, google it and tell me!

Bubby: She’s working on it, but no publication date yet. Boo.

Sissy: The way Mary E Pearson did end this first book was so yummy. So poetic, so fateful. So clever. You must read it!

Bubby: I must admire Mary E Pearson for her versatility as an author. She has written several other YA books but they are all very modern or even futuristic. The Jenna Fox series is really well done and my teens just ate it up but I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite. Just not quite my thing. But this book. Is. Magic. Everything I am looking for in a YA Fantasy novel.

Sissy: The Kiss of Deception is a delicious romantic adventure saga with a touch of magic. All you have to do is look at the fantastic cover art and you will have a preview of the wondrous story ahead. 4.5 bubbles.

Bubby: Practically perfect in every way. 4.75 bubbles.

 

 


Fifteen-year-old Thea Wallis was born to entertain. Her mother, Oscar winning actress Cassie Hartley, thinks differently and has kept her daughter out of the spotlight since day one. Coming from showbiz royalty, it hasn’t been easy to go unnoticed, but mismatched surnames, a family home in Tasmania and a low-key scriptwriter father has made this possible. Just like her cousin Rory on the hugely popular TV show Saturday Morning Dance, Thea loves to dance. She learns the show’s routines off by heart each week, despite her mother’s attempts to convince her that dentistry would be a far more fulfilling career choice. However, when Rory goes off the rails in LA, Thea’s mother is suddenly left with no choice at all – Rory needs them and to LA they must go. Within forty-eight hours, Thea finds herself a long way from Tasmania and living her dream – on the road to Las Vegas with the Saturday Morning Dance team. It doesn’t take long before Thea’s talents are discovered and she’s offered everything she’s ever wanted on a plate, including the dance partner she’s had a crush on forever. But, as her mother has always told her, Hollywood dreams come at a price. Thea soon realizes she will have to work out just how much she’s willing to pay. And, ultimately, discover her own way to be Hartley. (From Netgalley.com)

Sissy: Being Hartley by Allison Rushby was just a fun little read.  Thea lives in a world that seems magical to me, but was slightly annoying to her.  I kept thinking that being in a famous family and having no money worries and travelling the globe would be, I dunno, rather fun, but I guess it has its downsides too.  I am willing to give it a try, though.  “Hollywood!! Yoohoo–I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!”

Bubby: I know, right? They kept ordering room service or buying jewelry or reserving cabanas the same way I buy drinks at Sonic (only during 1/2 price happy hour) and socks at Wal-Mart. How the other half lives, I guess. But as much as the money and recognition would be nice, I think the constant pressure to be “on” and perfect would kill me. I’d go from happy homemaker to star to dead of a heroin overdose in the blink of an eye.

Sissy: Once you get past the mindless spending of money, you find a great teenage story. No super powers or magic, unless you count the platinum visa, just kids growing up and finding out how to be. A little family drama, a little romance, a little bungalow in Tasmania, all great stuff.

Bubby: All Thea’s mom wants is for Thea to grow up as a normal teenager, without all the pressure of stardom. All Thea wants is to be allowed to make her own decisions. Seems like the issues between kids and parents are pretty much the same no matter if you are famous or not. (Except for the bungalow in Tasmania). I love reading stories that are good enough for me to enjoy and for my teenagers to enjoy as well. This is one that they will really like.

Sissy: Also all the Hartleys have beautiful distinctive curly blonde hair and are beautiful and talented, sort of like me and Bubby. Without the curly bit. Could have been named “Being Sissy”. Great fun of a book. I give it 3.75 bubbles.

Bubby: Sissy is delusional. I love her anyway. 3.5 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Being Hartly by Allison Rushby at Amazon.com

We were given a copy of this title by Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.

© Bubble Bath Books 2014


Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph. It’s obvious that Dante thinks he’s way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pressing her buttons. But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie’s quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets… Secrets Lizzie can’t seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries. The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is hot guys to flirt with. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And it’s about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…(From Netgalley.com)

Sissy:  There were things I liked and disliked about this book.  I liked that it was a quick, enjoyable, YA romance read.  I didn’t like it as a Pride and Prejudice retelling, because I thought the parallels were too vaguely drawn.  I liked that the main character Lizzie is a smart, hard-working student who likes a good journalistic challenge and does not back down in the face of pressure from the nasty headmistress.  I don’t like that Lizzy is negative and judgemental, and somewhat disloyal to her best friend Emily.

Bubby: Ah, but Lizzy gets over herself and fixes her relationship with Emily by the end. I agree that it was quite difficult to find traces of Pride and Prejudice in this story, so I’ve decided to ignore that bit and just review it as a regular young adult story. The best part of Fall For You is that everything works out. Cecilia Gray really wraps up the story nicely and ties it with a pretty bow. There are 4 Jane Austen Academy books currently available with 2 more forthcoming. Some of the characters might appear in more than one book but they can all definitely be read as stand-alone novels.

Sissy:  The fact that many of the characters we are introduced to will live on in their own novel is a draw for me.  I actually liked this book better than Bubby did, and despite my pride I will admit her prejudice did rub off on me. Ba dum bum!

Bubby: Nicely done there, Sissy!

Sissy:  Anywho, Fall For You has all the requisite emotions of YA high schoolishness and is well-written enough to make it a pleasant  Friday afternoon reading distraction.  I give it 3.5 bubbles.

Bubby: I agree. Perfect for curling up on the couch with a slice of pizza in hand, whether you are a teenager yourself or old enough to reminisce about high school days gone by. 3.5 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Fall For You at Amazon.com

©  Bubble Bath Books 2014

We received a copy of Fall For You by Cecilia Gray from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.


For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? (From Goodreads.com)

Sissy:  I think I use the word “delightful” too much so I will say Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg was adorable, agreeable, and pleasing.  I sat in my new sleep number bed at zero G setting and read it, and had you looked at my face you would have seen the cat who just licked up all the cream (sans post-licking lactose intolerance tummy ache).  The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of our hero and heroine in the past tense, and each chapter cleverly ends with a paragraph or two of bantering commentary between the two in the present.  Loved it.

Bubby: Better Off Friends is advertised as “When Harry Met Sally for teens”. It’s a pretty good description. Macallan and Levi become friends right off the bat and stay that way, off and on, through the whole book. Their parents think they are cute and their friends think they are weird. I wish the book had gone a bit further though. Yes, they end up together, but does it last? Do they end up happily ever after? They are only in high school. One wonders what the future holds for these two.

Sissy:  I did wonder what the rest of the story was and at what point in life the bantering couple at each chapter end was.  Were they happily married?  College sweethearts?  Two weeks later?  Anyway, it is quite charming how we can see inside the heads of both Macallan and Levi, but at the same time are wishing they would know how the other was feeling.  But I guess that would make the story too short and rushed and perhaps change the outcome.  Time and place, and all that.  I thought the characters were sweet and engaging.  I had a best friend who was a guy in high school, and although we “like” liked each other off and on it was never at the same time.  We spent so much time together people always thought we were a couple, but we never were. So this made Better Off Friends relatable to me.

Bubby: I also had a best guy friend in high school, but we actually tried to be romantically involved. It lasted for approximately 12.5 seconds and afterwards our friendship was never the same. I wished that we had just stayed friends and not done the dating thing. I supposed this experience might make me a little jaded about the future of Macallen and Levi’s relationship! But I also have several friends that fell in love in high school and have now been happily married for years and years. I guess it just all depends.

Sissy:  This story is not very deep or complex so its hard to think of what to write about it.  That may sound like a negative but it is truly not—I was blissed out by this simple, well-written tale.  If you want to feel happy and content as a crumpet, bite into the little slice of heaven that is Better Off Friends.  4 bright and sunshiney bubbles.

Bubby: I agree. Sometimes you want complicated and thought provoking and deep and other times (more often for me) you want happy and fluffy. Better Off Friends fits the happy and fluffy category quite nicely. 3.75 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Better Off Friends at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

We received a copy of this title from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.


The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father’s periodic violent rages. When the family’s barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it’s with baby “Georgia” in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky’s life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she’s never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it’s a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay–and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? Providence proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word. (From Goodreads.com)

Bubby: I loved this book. Loved it. Everything about it is just right. It’s nice and clean, it’s beautifully written and it has the best characters I’ve read about in a long time. I agonized with Becky over her choices and her horrible family. I rejoiced with her when Rosie took her in and made her a new family. I blushed with her when it became obvious that John had feelings for her. There are not enough good things I can say about Providence.

Sissy: Bubby and I read a lot of books for this blog and we don’t always agree about whether or not we should review them or even whether or not we liked them. I am usually right about all books and Bubby is weird and stubborn but every once in a while when we compare notes there is a book that is a standout “bam, nailed it!”. This was the case with Providence. Author Lisa Colozza Cocca is obviously a gifted storyteller and crafter of characters. This is her debut novel (she usually writes school and library materials) and she definitely has the chops to write more. I hope she has a long and proliferate novel-writing career.

Bubby: I tell you, this novel was so good that I am tempted to go out and buy her textbook “Reconstruction and the Aftermath of the Civil War” and I don’t even really like history! I was truly sad when Becky’s story ended. I want to go have dinner with Becky and the baby and Rosie and John all the other fabulous characters that I grew so fond of. Even the crotchety old guy who owned the bike store across the street from Rosie’s shop, Secondhand Rose. I hope that there are very few actual people on this planet like Becky’s father. He deserves to be hogtied and horsewhipped. And whoever left that baby on the train? I have words for them, too, but they are not polite for mixed company, so I will restrain myself. The contrast between the people who had a familial obligation to love and care for Becky and Georgia and the people who actually did love and care for them, with no obligation whatsoever, is striking. It’s a master class on compassion and acceptance.

Sissy: Becky came from such a hard situation and jumped right into what could have been a minefield of disaster. Cocca could have gone all dark and literati and made a tragedy at every turn. In fact I was anxious about what could happen but Cocca makes the story very happy and readable for the anxiety-stricken reader and leaves just enough bumps in the road to make it real. The real message of Providence is hope. With the right mix of people and in the right circumstances, hope blossoms. I think that’s why I loved this so much. The story is unique. The characters are believable. And the takeaway is happiness and hope.

Bubby: “I believe that children are our future. Treat them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty…”

Sissy: Stop that right now or I will barf.

Bubby: I just felt that we needed a musical interlude there. I was moved. I give Providence 5 big fat homemade pie bubbles. Doesn’t get any better than this.

Sissy: Even though Bubby rudely made fun of my sentiment, I will also give Providence 5 bubbles.

Click here to buy Providence at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

We received a copy of Providence from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.


Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us. (From Goodreads.com)

Bubby: So I am frantically rushing around my house getting ready for a family vacation and I get a message from the fabulous Amy Harmon. “Do you want an advanced copy of Making Faces?” she asks. Well, duh! I am not sure if I was more excited about reading Making Faces or going on vacation!

Sissy: It was Fall Break and my son and I decided to have a total reading and treats day.

Bubby: Every day should be reading and treats day!

Sissy: It just so happened that the literary gods were smiling upon me because my inbox contained Amy Harmon’s new book, Making Faces. My son and I grabbed our books and treats and climbed into my king-size bed, yes we did, and read for hours. When I emerged from the cocoon of reading, I was crying. I immediately went to my computer and sent an email to Amy Harmon (may she live long and prosper) and told her basically that she is not an author but a goddess of the written word.

Bubby: I wish that I had been able to immerse myself as you did, Sissy. As it was, I had to grab a page here and a page there between zoo visits and beach trips. I want to read it again so that I can experience the full impact.

Sissy: One of the things that kept going through my mind as I read this story was that it is unbelievable to me how a fantastic author can come up with these characters and situations, do all the research and weave it together seamlessly, all the while using the most perfect language that evokes deep emotion from my soul. When I am thinking these things, it’s like my whole self is validating this author as one of the truly gifted ones. That is honest-to-goodness how I felt.

Bubby: So what you are saying here is that you like Amy Harmon’s books and you think she should write 20 bazillion more? Me too.

Sissy: Yes. Some authors should stop writing immediately, or take a class perhaps, but at the other end of the spectrum are the Olympic Gold Medal authors, so to speak. I am not an author but I have Spidey-Sense when it comes to sniffing out the good ones.

Bubby: A big part of the story here is centered on high school wrestling. That just grabbed me right from the start and made me want to know more. Back in the day, most of my guy friends were wrestlers. My dad and two of my brothers wrestled. So did most of the men in my husband’s family. It is an intense sport and you either love it or hate it. Obviously, Amy Harmon is a fan. The bonds between Ambrose and his teammates are deep and strong – they are family, almost more than if they had been brothers. It’s important to understand the depth of their relationship because for me, that’s what drives the story. They wrestled together, they go to war together, and even when they are no longer together (I SO want to give a spoiler here) their hearts are still knit as one.

Sissy: Bushwah, Bubby! Wrestling is simply a backdrop that showcases Ambrose’s beauty and prowess. It’s a story of redemption, of the emergence of inner beauty over outer. Fern has UGS, Ugly Girl Syndrome, which is something that all women can understand to some extent, but has inner beauty in spades. Everything Fern is on the inside is what attracts Ambrose – she is everything he needs and wants to be.

Bubby: As much as I enjoyed watching Fern and Ambrose’s relationship unfold, we are forgetting my favorite character. The hero of this story is Bailey. Bailey has a rare form of muscular dystrophy and is in a wheelchair. He could be a pitiful character who feels sorry for himself and his fate but he is not. He is hilarious and strong and amazing. If you want a great love story, read this book. If you want a good look at small town life, read this book. Looking for a band-of-brothers type story? It’s in here. But for me, the heart of Making Faces is Bailey. Because of Bailey, Fern is the caring, giving woman that Ambrose loves. Because of Bailey, Ambrose finds redemption. Because of Bailey. All because of Bailey.

Sissy: Bailey’s story is especially poignant. Heck, the whole thing is poignant and moving out the wazoo. Making Faces by Amy Harmon would make an excellent movie (hello, Hollywood? Hello?) It does have some language (not F words) and is sometimes grittingly realistic so maybe not the best choice for our younger readers). I personally loved it and will give it 20,000 bubbles.

Bubby: We only go up to 5 bubbles. Try again.

Sissy: I do what I want. Amy Harmon is my favorite author in the universe. If she needed a kidney I would give her mine.

Bubby: Allrighty then. I may not feel QUITE as strongly as Sissy about Making Faces (and about Amy Harmon – any extra kidneys Sissy has belong to ME!) but I did love the book. 4 3/4 bubbles from me.

© Bubble Bath Books 2013

Click HERE to buy Making Faces by Amy Harmon at Amazon.com


Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out. (From Goodreads.com)

Sissy: In What Happened to Goodbye, the main character McLean deals with her parent’s divorce and frequent moves by becoming a different person in each new place. As a child I moved a lot but while I entertained the idea of changing myself, I never was brave enough to carry it out. I think the idea is good except you never get to truly know yourself, which McLean finds out in the end.

Bubby: I actually tried this once. I’ve always been the loud, out-going, attention seeking type of girl, and I’ve often been told that I needed to be quieter and more reserved. Shortly after I was married, my dear hubster and I moved across the country to a city where I knew absolutely no one. No one knew my family, no one had preconceived notions about me. I decided to be that shy, sweet, quiet girl people kept telling me I should be. And I was. For about 18 months. But it wasn’t really me. And I was so relieved when we moved back to a place where people DID know me – because then I could be myself again. I learned that I don’t have to apologize for the quirks and traits that make me Bubby. I’m pretty awesome just the way I am.

Sissy: Thanks for tuning in to Dr. Bubby’s Self-Therapy Hour. I do think you’ve turned out pretty smashingly, to tell the truth. Sarah Dessen is the quintessential coming-of-age author. We have dysfunctional relationships, secrets and communication failures, self-discovery and first love. This story is beautifully written and I spent the entire afternoon engrossed in it. Nobody cared because they were all out fishing. Although well-written, all of Sarah Dessen’s books are not squeaky clean so let the buyer beware.

Bubby: Yes, I was surprised when you told me to read What Happened to Goodbye. I have read Sarah Dessen before and had been put off by a bit too much something-something (if you get my drift). Just goes to show that authors are subject to whims just like everyone else. I got sucked into this story quickly. It’s such a great concept and it illustrates the truth that if someone really loves you, they love you inside and out, warts and all. McLean and Dave’s relationship starts off rocky – I believe she actually inflicts harm upon his person (unintentionally, of course) but grows so easily and naturally that you can’t help but fall in love right along with them.

Sissy: I think it would be really difficult to recover from the kind of betrayal McLean feels from her mom. It is understandable that she just wants to move from place to place, never getting involved, never putting her heart on the line. But she not only finds the strength to change this pattern in her new town, she also finds unexpected friendship and love from many different people. Maybe she was just ready and didn’t know it or maybe there is something really special about that place and the people she meets there.

Bubby: Can you imagine how our daughters would feel if we not only cheated on their dads, but cheated on them with the coach of their favorite sports team? And then had twins with said coach? I think part of the reason McLean constantly changes herself is because her mother has changed so much in her new role as high-profile coach’s wife. Gone is the laid-back, granola mom of the past, replaced by a woman who is perfectly made-up and coiffed at all times, complete with snooty vacation home on the beach. Who are you supposed to model yourself after when your role model has changed and disappeared?

Sissy: Fetal position, dude! But take heart, happy endings are in sight. You know this because I otherwise would not have read it or reviewed it. Great book. Give your children a Benadryl and spend the afternoon reading. (Just kidding. That would be felonious behavior! No lawsuits, please. Twas only a joke.) Yes, What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen gets 4 angsty romance bubbles from me.

Bubby: And now we know why Sissy’s children are the way they are. 3 1/2 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy What Happened to Goodbye from Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2013