Can a stack of long-hidden love letters from a WWII war hero inspire a heartbroken woman to love again? Reeling from a bitter divorce, Adrienne Carter abandons Chicago and retreats to the sun, sand, and beauty of Southern Florida, throwing herself into the restoration of a dilapidated old Victorian beach house. Early into the renovations, she discovers a tin box hidden away in the attic that reveals the emotional letters from a WWII paratrooper to a young woman who lived in the house more than a half-century earlier.
The old letters—incredibly poetic and romantic—transcend time, and they arouse in Adrienne a curiosity that leads her to track down the writer of the letters. William “Pops” Bryant is now an old man living in a nearby town with his handsome but overprotective grandson, Will. As Adrienne begins to unravel the secrets of the letters (and the Bryants), she finds herself not yet willing to give up entirely on love. (From Amazon.com)
Bubby: We’re back! Wow, what a summer. I think Sissy would agree that what we really need now is 6 months of really boring life. No drama, no excitement, no big events, nothing. But for some reason, I doubt that will be the case!
Sissy: I know. From your lips to God’s ears, Bubby. At some point during the summer, I don’t know when, we both read this book and found it to be so sweet and poignant. We knew we needed to share it with you! Two love stories happen within its pages, one beginning in the WWII era and one in the present day. The thing that weaves them all together is the bundle of love letters bound with one lavender ribbon – hence the title. And let me tell you: those letters were beautifully written. I fear in this fast paced age of texts and tweets that such lovely writing is becoming extinct. I have a bundle of love letters that my husband wrote me when we were courting. Does that make me sound ancient?
Bubby: Yes, but so does everything you say, so…
Sissy: Wow. I see your summer experiences have not polished off your rudeness! My love letters are a magnificent treasure, just like the ones in Heather Burch’s novel.
Bubby: I actually think that I do have a few letters somewhere from my dear husband. I’ll have to see if I can find them. I’m sure that they are quite romantic, just like yours.
Sissy: Not possible. My husband is the King of Romance.
Bubby: I don’t know about that. My husband bought me a yard full of sod for our 20th anniversary. And an ironing board for my birthday. Can’t beat that! (For the record, we went to Spain last month and celebrated our anniversary early, and I REALLY wanted that ironing board so…) I have to say that of the two love stories, I prefer the older one. It’s just so sweet to see love that stands the test of time. Besides which, there’s a nifty little twist that really makes the whole story sing. I could expound but then Sissy would have to kill me.
Sissy: I only want to kill you because you got to go to Spain and I didn’t.
Bubby: Get over it.
Sissy: Anyway, if we can stop talking about SPAIN, if you are looking for a heartwarming reading interlude, One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch will truly satisfy you. 3.7 bubbles from me.
Bubby: It was a wonderful story. Heather Burch does a fantastic job of evoking romance, nostalgia and hope. Loved it. 4.25 lavender bubbles.
Click HERE to buy One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch from Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
When two unlikely allies become two unwitting outlaws, will two unforgettable lovers defy unbeatable odds? Bonnie Rae Shelby is a superstar. She’s rich. She’s beautiful. She’s impossibly famous. And Bonnie Rae Shelby wants to die. Finn Clyde is a nobody. He’s broken. He’s brilliant. He’s impossibly cynical. And all he wants is a chance at life. One girl. One boy. An act of compassion. A bizarre set of circumstances. And a choice – turn your head and walk away, or reach out your hand and risk it all? With that choice, the clock starts ticking on a man with a past and a girl who can’t face the future, counting down the seconds in an adventure riddled with heartbreak and humor, misunderstanding and revelation. With the world against them, two very different people take a journey that will not only change their lives, but may cost them their lives as well.
Infinity + One is a tale of shooting stars and fame and fortune, of gilded cages and iron bars, of finding a friend behind a stranger’s face, and discovering love in the oddest of places.
Bubby: This is what, the 3rd novel by Amy Harmon that we have reviewed? That, in and of itself, should tell you how good Infinity + One is. It has engaging characters, perfectly drawn settings and beautiful dialogue – everything that one expects from the pen of our dear Amy. But for me, this novel is about moments of grace. They appear over and over again as we follow Bonnie and Finn’s adventure. Moments where a split-second decision changes the course of not only Bonnie and Finn’s lives but the lives of all those they touch. Of course, it all starts with Finn’s choice to save Bonnie instead of just walking away.
Sissy: We read a lot of books. Most of them are good, middling stories without much depth but nevertheless entertaining. But sometimes we find authors who are able to go beyond the superficial and get under our skin. Amy Harmon does this once again in Infinity + One. I know that an author’s least favorite question is “Where do you get your ideas?” but I found myself going there while reading this book. I just kept thinking that the plot is so unique and yet the love story is so well-done that it feels like you are reading about the love between people you’ve known for years. I truly cared about Bonnie and Finn. I felt that they were my friends and I wanted to be part of their lives. That is one of the keys to outstanding writing.
Bubby: I loved that both Bonnie and Finn were just trying to be their most authentic selves – that they were tired of being who other people thought they were or should be. Bonnie wanted to be normal – to be loved for herself and not for her music or for her monetary potential or her stardom. And Finn wanted to escape who his past had forced him to be. I think that we all sometimes wish for the opportunity to start over fresh and create the identity that we feel we could have had under different circumstances. For example, I’m pretty sure that if Sissy had her druthers she’d be the Imperial Grand Duchess of some tiny European country – lots of money, lots of shiny jewelry and no real responsibilities!
Sissy: Exactly. In fact I am working towards that goal at this very minute. Give me a pony! Sometimes I become weary of analyzing books, their characters, the plot lines, blah, blah, blah and I just want to say how I FELT during the reading experience. That, for me, makes the decision between a thumbs up or a thumbs down or a middling hovering maybe. When I read Infinity + One I felt like I was transported into the story and lived and breathed it right along with the characters. I experienced frustration, angst, happiness, sadness, frustration and finally joy.
Bubby: You know that you said frustration twice, right?
Sissy: So maybe I felt it twice! So sue me! You messed up my reverie, Bubby. I was in the groove! You’re always messing up my stuff!
Bubby: It’s part of the “little sister” job description. Are you done with your eloquent waxing yet? I have things to say too…
Sissy: I was going to say that when I came to the oh so satisfying end, I felt like I had awoken from a trance. I didn’t know who or where I was. And I just wanted to get back in the story. There were so many bits of dialogue that were nuggets of quotability. Again I wondered how someone could come up with all these wonderful things! Now I’m done.
Bubby: So in real life, I cry very easily. So much so that it’s a running joke with my children. But I rarely cry when reading – I know, it’s strange. However, there was one scene at the very end of Infinity + One where a particular character, a homeless man named William, just brings it all together and ties it up with a pretty satin bow. And I cried. So there. Oh, and we got an advanced copy from Amy herself – and I STILL went out and bought the finished product.
Sissy: As usual, I love me some Amy Harmon. 4.5 bubbles.
Bubby: Beautifully written. 4.5 bubbles from me too.
**This is a New Adult novel and as such has a few bits of language and so forth. No “F” words or nasty “nekkidness”, however.**
We received a copy of Infinity + One from the great Amy Harmon in return for a fair and honest review. Thanks, Amy!
Click HERE to buy Infinity + One by Amy Harmon at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in 1936, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender, driven by ambition, but also desperate to escape her squalid, overcrowded home and her abusive stepfather. Helen is the quiet one, a mystery to her fellow nurses, avoiding fun, gossip and the limelight. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother, who dominates every aspect of her life. Can a nursing career free Helen at last? The third of our heroines is naughty, rebellious Millie an aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned. This utterly delightful novel brings a London pre-war hospital vividly to life.
Sissy: Take the BBC’s “Call The Midwife”, move the nurses to various floors of a pre-WWII London hospital and you’ve got The Nightingale Girls. This is a good thing. I just finished watching Season 4 of “Call The Midwife” and absolutely loved it, so it was easy for me to have the TV version of The Nightingale Girls playing through my head as I read it. You’d be surprised at how much drama and intrigue can go on in a 1930’s hospital setting — not quite ER or Gray’s Anatomy but still intriguing, funny and heartwarming.
Bubby: I have never seen “Call The Midwife” but if it’s anywhere as good as this novel, I’m in! I loved the differences between the three girls, all sharing a room whilst training to become nurses. Dora is trying so hard to rise above her upbringing (and her miserable lecherous sad-excuse-of-a-man stepfather) and Millie wants to escape her aristocratic responsibilities. And poor Helen just wants to be able to choose something, anything, for herself instead of constantly having to please her harridan of a mother. They are an unlikely trio and don’t get on well at all at first, but in the end, they make peace with each other. The play between the three adds so much life and color to this story. It was just wonderful. Oh, and even though I had no desire to enter the healthcare industry prior to reading The Nightingale Girls, now I REALLY don’t want to be a nurse. Nope. Never. Uh-uh.
Sissy: Yep. I was almost a nurse. Then I got to student nursing in post-op and discovered that I am nothing like Florence Nightingale. I’m more like the agoraphobic cat lady across the street who wants NOTHING to do with your personal business! While Florence is probably in heaven, I guess that tells you where I’m going! But back to the story. It leads off with Dora, whose story is amazing, and ends with all three girls having quashed certain demons and found very satisfying life pathways.
Bubby: And romance! There’s some romance too! Good, parent-thwarting, “I will die if I can’t have that man!” romance! Loved it! (Of course, if it was MY kid who was involved in a parent-thwarting soul searing romance it’d be a whole different story. But this is fiction so it’s okay.)
Sissy: Sometimes when you read about these parents who engage in such life-hindering behaviors, you think, “There can’t possibly be parents who behave this way!” but after having surgery last week and watching 59 episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, I can say that there are definitely horrid mothers who deserve to be exposed on national TV. The Nightingale Girls is the first in a series of books (so far, four novels and a short Christmas story) which are all available as e-books now in the U.S. (you can only get them in book form in the U.K.). I shall be reading all of them. You should too. 4 bubbles.
Bubby: So now not only do I have to go watch 4 seasons of “Call the Midwife”, but I also have a whole stack of Nightingale books that I must read. Oh, my life is so terribly difficult… 4 perfectly sterilized, pristine, health-inducing bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas at Amazon.com
We received a copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.
Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need. Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit.
Bubby: I have a new mission in life. It is to go to my nearest bookstore and purchase every single book that Lynne Branard (also known as Lynne Hinton and Jackie Lynn) has ever written. And then I will sit in my comfy chair with my stack of books and disappear into a world of meticulously crafted characters and communities that feel like I’ve been there before. And when I’ve read them all (and don’t bother me until I’m done) I will be a better person, because this book touched my soul.
Sissy: Let it be known that I read this book first. I texted Bubby telling her that it was wonderful and that she must read it. Exactly 23 hours and 55 minutes later, she texted me back that she wished our mom could read it (highest praise ever) and that she was giving it 5 bubbles. It is not everyday that you read a book that not only entertains you and thrills you with the anticipation of romance but also makes you think deeply about your own life. The Art of Arranging Flowers is one of those rare treasures.
Bubby: I’d like to talk about my favorite character here, but I can’t choose. Of course I love Ruby Jewell, our main character but there are so many people that I connected with as if they resided in my own town. Oh, I’ve got it. I choose Henry. Sweet, shy, stuttering Henry who loves librarian Lou Ann from afar by sending anonymous bouquets for months before finally asking her out. And as it turns out, she has loved him from afar the whole time! And what he creates for her in his backyard! Amazing! But the whole book is full of little interconnected stories like this. So wonderfully done, I am still amazed.
Sissy: What about poor little motherless Will? I totally fell in love with him and wanted to bring him home with me. And I adored Captain Dan Miller, former astronaut. All the wonderful things that he had learned in his life experiences and shared with the people of Creekside really made me contemplate my existence. And then all the behind-the-scenes things he did that we don’t find out about until the end? Priceless. I even felt a great affection for Ruby’s dog Clementine. Basically, author Lynne Branard is a sorceress who casts a magical spell with her words and makes you become deeply emotionally involved with all her characters.
Bubby: There are several women in my life whom I love dearly that will be receiving a copy of The Art of Arranging Flowers as soon as it is published on June 3, 2014. It’s so lovely that it must be shared. 5 bubbles. 5 big huge rose-scented bubbles and I’d give it 6 if I could.
Sissy: When I find an author who writes like this, so transcendently and beautifully, I want them to live and write books forever. So Lynne, if you ever need a kidney, give me a call. 5 bright, unbreakable bubbles.
Click HERE to buy The Art of Arranging Flowers at Amazon.com
We received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place. (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: Before I talk about this book, I must inform you that Bubby has flown the coop, left the building, abandoned ship, gone awol, and washed her hands of me and this blog. But do not despair–it is temporary! She will be back next week to resume engaging me in witty repartee’ and thus you will only have to endure two blog’s worth of me talking to myself (not nearly as fun; bordering on insane). Bubby is off gallivanting at a wedding somewhere in the Northwest, and I am left to my own devices.
Now let’s talk about My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White. I know what you’re thinking–another Mr. Darcy-themed book? How many books based on Pride and Prejudice and/or its characters can there possibly be? Jane Austin would probably be puzzled at the longevity of and obsessions over her best known work. I admit it myself–the “new” Pride and Prejudice is my favorite all time movie, and the “old” six hour version with Colin Firth is my favorite mini-series of all time. We have reviewed at least two other books with Pride and Prejudice themes in this blog, so I’m afraid our own semi-obsession is undeniable. But so what? I’ll continue to read about Mr. Darcy until people stop writing about him or until they have to pry the books out of my cold, dead hands, whichever comes first.
My Own Mr. Darcy is a light-hearted, quick read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lizzy, the main character, seems to be a fun, smart, like-able girl, but in her quest to find the man of her dreams she is pretty blind and stubborn. It is really frustrating to watch her try to choose between Chad and Matt because the answer is so obvious to the readers. But don’t we behave just like this in real life–totally missing the mark because of our dumb paradigms and stupid obsessions? And how many girls out there have had the experience of trying to make a guy fit into her idealistic role? I know I have. When Lizzy takes off her blinders and sees what’s real and true and important, she discovers who the man of her dreams really is. Too bad that doesn’t always happen in real life.
Karey White has done an outstanding job of creating a magical, romantic tale. The descriptions are well-done–usually I have trouble seeing something in my mind (would it be so bad to have pictures in novels?), but things came alive for me in this book. I spent a lovely afternoon caught up in the world of Lizzy, Chad, and Matt. Karey White has written three books, My Own Mr. Darcy, For What It’s Worth, and Gifted, and a novella, Maggie’s Song. She has a new fan in me! 4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White on Amazon.com
©2014 Bubble Bath Books
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth. (From Netgalley.com)
Bubby: Then and Always has just skyrocketed to the top of my all-time favorite books list. Turns out it was released in 2013 in the UK under the title “Fractured” and guess what? It made tons of best book lists over there too. And for good reason. There is a massive plot twist right in the beginning of the book, another about 1/3 of the way through the book and one or two more thrown in for good measure. Not to mention the ending. The ending! I so want to talk about THE ENDING! I must admit that I was bawling by the last page, but not necessarily because I was sad. The ending is perfect. And heart-wrenching. And oh so good.
Sissy: Bubby read this first and told me I had to read it right away because it was one of those fantastic books. She said to me, “It’s like oh no! And then, what’s happening? And then wait, what? But ok, this is good, no! No! Wait! Oh, that’s so sweet!” Bubby was waving her arms about like a crazed loon and getting choked up just trying to describe the plot so I gave her a sedative and started to read Then And Always for myself. And guess what? Bubby was right, although I managed to convey that sans tears and lunatic ravings.
Bubby: First off, I don’t recall being QUITE that dramatic about the whole thing. And secondly, of course I was right. I always am.
Sissy: Right. *cough, cough.* This book caught me in its spell immediately and wrung me out with its emotional intensity. A good, “must continue reading until I drop” intensity, not a painful one. Rachel goes through so much in a short period of time, you can’t help being all involved in her feelings and reactions. Jimmy is sweet, loyal, loveable, and heartbreaking. Andy is complex. Cathy needs to be put down. The relationship between Rachel and her father is so lovely, you want to weep (I just wanted to weep; Bubby did all the actual weeping).
Bubby: I am a deeply emotional woman who feels things strongly. Thus, I cry.
Sissy: People who cry during boy band videos have issues. Still love you, though.
Bubby: That was one time! Back to the book. I fell in love with the character of Rachel. I wanted so much to fix her life for her, to make her happy. I cheered when she was happy, cried when she was sad, and got really ticked off when that *unmentionable word* Cathy did what she did (more than once, mind you!). Every aspect of this book is so well done; the writing, the characterizations, and, oh my gosh, the plot? So original, and so riveting! It’s almost impossible to believe that this is Dani Atkins’ debut novel.
Sissy: The problem we are having in reviewing “Then And Always” (aka “Fractured” in the UK) is that the whole plot-twisty premise of the thing prohibits us from saying much, because we are not spoilers! As Bubby said, the story line is so unique and original, it was a captivating joy to read. You’re just going to have to trust us on this one.
Bubby: Did I mention THE ENDING? It played out in my mind like a movie montage, complete with violin music and a slow, misty fade-out. Dani Atkins needs to be locked in a room with a laptop and some chocolate so that she can produce a novel every three months. And I will buy them all. Oh, there’s this one little bit where you think its going to get all naughty/steamy, but don’t worry. We shall protect you from too much naughty, never fear! I give it 5 bubbles.
Sissy: I’m not sure of your methods, but okay! Lock Ms Atkins away so I can read more (searching for non-over-used adjectives) splendiferous books like this! 5 heartwarming/wrenching bubbles from me!!
Click HERE to buy Then And Always by Dani Atkins at Amazon.com
©2014 Bubble Bath Books
We received a copy of this title from Netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Former TV celebrity host Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house, on an isolated country estate, Honeychurch Hall, several hundred miles from London. When Kat arrives at the house, she discovers that Iris has yet another surprise in store. Iris has been writing in secret for years and reluctantly reveals that she’s actually Krystalle Storm, the famous bestselling author of steamy bodice-rippers. The gentry upstairs and those below stairs at Honeychurch Hall regard the newcomers with suspicion and distrust. When the nanny goes missing, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead, and Iris is accused of the murder, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all and wonders if she is—indeed—guilty. Although the six hundred year old estate has endured wars, corruption and Royal favors, it’s the scandals, secrets and lies of the last few decades that must remain buried at all costs. (From Netgalley.com)
Sissy: I really liked this book but I had some issues with it. I liked the setting, the backstory of the main character, Kat, all the secrets and intrigues and the hidden life of Kat’s mother Iris. My issues were that the story jumps around all over the place and I had a hard time keeping it all straight and I couldn’t visualize Honeychurch Estate and really needed a map.
Bubby: I’d like to blame your “issues” on your advanced age and senility, but I can’t. I happen to agree with you on all points. I have to say, however, that the plot is really excellent and the characters are so much fun that I enjoyed Murder At Honeychurch Hall anyway. I loved Iris. She is a total nutcase. Sissy, can’t you just picture our mother hiding in the back bedroom writing romance novels when no one was looking? I swear, I want to be Iris when I grow up. Irascible, eccentric and a famous writer who lives on an estate in England. Perfect.
Sissy: I don’t know about Mom writing “bodice rippers” but I certainly would get a kick out of finding out that she had a secret life while pretending to fit into the role of devoted wife and mother. One of my favorite things in this book was how Iris took every situation and tried to turn it into a scene for her book, much to Kat’s chagrin.
Bubby: Hey, maybe that’s what we should do. Our kids and their romantic issues and trials – suddenly become fodder for a best-selling novel. I can see it!
Sissy: My kids wouldn’t mind. They’d just say, “Hand over the money, Mom!” Back to the book, though. One thing that makes it interesting is that you never quite know who you like and who you can trust amongst the characters. Sometimes you think they are guilty or just unsavory people but then they’ll do something to change your mind and you never know until the end how it’s all going to shake out.
Bubby: As I’ve said before, I can often predict “whodunnit” by the middle of the book. Not this time. I had no idea until the bitter end, when suddenly all the tangled threads of the story came together and it finally all made sense. There was a total ah-ha moment for me at the end there. I still want to know more about Kat – her life as a tv star before the time period of this book and what’s going to happen with her now – and more about Iris’s strange and wonderful childhood, of which we only get a little glimpse.
Sissy: Ah, yes. Gypsies and traveling boxing troupes. Illicit relations between the upstairs and the downstairs –our author, Ms. Dennison has plumbed the depths of her imagination nicely. The one character I hated throughout the whole book was David, Kat’s married boyfriend. The outcome of that relationship our resident Miss Marple, aka Bubby, could see coming a mile away.
Bubby: Seriously? Does any intelligent woman really think that the married man she’s sleeping with is going to actually leave his wife and children and comfortable situation to be with her? Really? It’s like the biggest cliche out there. And yet it still happens every day. Wise up, women of the world! If he’s married, he’s not available! Even if he thinks he is.
Sissy: Well, to sum up, this is a highly imaginative (albeit somewhat confusing) mystery romp. If Ms. Dennison would provide an illustrated map of the grounds and a chart of relationships, perhaps my feeble mind could grasp it better. Nonetheless, I would love to read more about Kat and the indomitable Iris. 3.5 bubbles.
Bubby: A fun mystery read. 3.5 bubbles from me too.
Click HERE to buy Murder At Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
We received this title from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.