Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: ghosts

After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her. (From Goodreads.com)

Bubby: Sissy read this book first and warned me to not read it at night, as I would have nightmares and not be able to sleep. I, of course, scoffed at her because I am a strong and powerful woman and nothing scares me! So I went ahead and read it one night while my husband was at work late. The kids were all asleep in their beds (none of which are on the same floor of our house as my bedroom, by the way) and I was all alone. And about 15 minutes in I was terrified out of my mind. It was all I could do to force myself to open up my bedroom closet the next morning for fear that a psychotic ghost would be waiting inside. I should have listened to Sissy!

Sissy: Let’s see–“I should have listened to Sissy”—Ding, ding, ding!  That should be the mantra for your life (everyone’s life, really, except it would read “I WILL listen to Sissy.”).  Also, the part where you said “nothing scares me” is, of course, a complete lie.  Readers:  Bubby is a first class scaredy cat.  In the case of Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto, however, the fear is well justified.  I also read this book alone at night (well, everyone was asleep but me).  I went to bed (translation:  ran terrified to my bedroom) only to find my dear hubby snoring loudly.  Normally I would have gone down to the guest bedroom to escape the snores, but I was so petrified by the thought of Isobel the creepstash swamp-thing jumping out at me from anywhere en route or in the guest room closet that I simply attached myself to the ghost conquering snorer and lay awake but safe.  Let me add, lest you get the wrong idea, that I really liked this book.  It was full of drama, excitement, romance, and enough ghostly encounters to scare the holy pantalones off me.  Just look at the cover–it’s like Heathcliff meets 21st century teenage medium.

Bubby: We should make it clear here that these are your standard “made bad decisions in life and can’t let go” ghosts, not “evil spawn of Satan” ghosts. We don’t do them Satanic sorts of things – I mean, there’s scary and there’s afraid for your immortal soul scary. We don’t go there. Anyway, my favorite part of Ghost House has to be the ending. Alexandra Adornetto wraps up the story so nicely – all the loose ends are tucked away neatly and everything’s back to normal. And then, in the very last two sentences of the book, BOOM! Massive cliffhanger. Yup. I literally dropped my Kindle on the floor and yelled “What the heck?!?”. I did. You can ask my kids. And the worst part? Ghost House was just barely published. So now I have to wait to find out what on earth is going to happen next. Well played, Alexandra Adornetto. Well played. 4 absolutely flesh-crawling bubbles of creepy from me.

Sissy: There are many characters in this story that we haven’t mentioned; Chloe’s dad who sends her and her brother Rory away because he can’t handle parenting after the death of his wife, the aforementioned Rory, who I wonder how he gets through all this without psychological problems of his own, Granny Fee, who owns “Ghost House”, and Joe, Chloe’s sympathetic English friend. All in all, a terribly  enjoyable read. For daylight only! 3.75 ghostly orbs.

Click HERE to buy Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto at Amazon.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

 


After losing her husband, five children, housekeeper, and beautiful home in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Rachel Blackwood rebuilt her home, and later died there, having been driven mad with grief.
In present-day Texas, Claire, the grand niece of Rachel’s caretaker, has inherited the house and wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast. But she is concerned that it’s haunted, so she calls in her friend Ruby—who has the gift of extrasensory perception—to check it out. While Ruby is ghost-hunting, China Bayles walks into a storm of trouble in nearby Pecan Springs. A half hour before she is to make her nightly deposit, the Pecan Springs bank is robbed and a teller is shot and killed. Before she can discover the identity of the killers, China follows Ruby to the Blackwood house to discuss urgent business. As she is drawn into the mystery of the haunted house, China opens the door on some very real danger… (synopsis from Publishers Weekly)
Sissy: I’ve read books from this series before from time to time and I picked this new one up at the library and was really surprised how quickly I got back into the series and how engrossing the story was.
Bubby: I am pretty sure I read the first or second in the series ages ago but I can tell you that you don’t need to have any knowledge of the series or characters to enjoy Widow’s Tears. It works quite well as a stand-alone novel.
Sissy: Susan Wittig Albert is a great storyteller. She took a headline from a 100-year-old catastrophe and wove it into a modern-day tale. The main character of the series, China Bayles, appears in this book but it is really a story about her best friend and business partner Ruby.
Bubby: I had never heard of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 until this book. Did you know that it is the deadliest natural disaster in US History? Check out http://www.gthcenter.org/exhibits/storms/index.html for photos of the aftermath. I enjoyed the fiction part of the story but I found myself fascinated by the Galveston Storm – so much so that Sissy and I have just spent the last 30 minutes looking at the pictures.
Sissy: I love it when a writer takes an actual historic event and weaves in some fictional characters to make a new story. This story also has a modern-day murder mystery as well as a downright spooky ghost story. I found myself reading the scary parts while I was alone in my house and I had to keep telling myself that I was a grown woman and it was just a story and I didn’t need to keep checking the hallways!
Bubby: I know what you mean! I had to huddle under a blanket because I was cold (even though it’s super hot outside) and was listening for thunder and watching for lightning out my window (even though it was a clear, blue sky day) – waiting for the floodwaters to rise, even though I live on a hill in the mountains!
Sissy: Ruby is the perfect person for this ghostly adventure because she is what you might call “a sensitive”. She has consistently tried to deny this gift but finally in this book (which is at least #21 in the series), she makes use of her full psychic powers. Ruby is also big-busted and attracts men like flies to honey, so in this sense she reminds me of myself.
Bubby: Oh, yes, you buxom sweet thing, you. I think that perhaps you are a little psychic too.
Sissy: Definitely psychic.
Bubby: Or is it psycho? I can never keep those two straight . . .
Sissy: Courtesy laugh in your general direction.
Bubby: At any rate, Widow’s Tears was a fantastic read that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I am feeling the need now to go back and check out the rest of the series. My only issue with these books is the fact that they can definitely be classified as “cozy mysteries” and that’s ok as long as Sissy picks them. But when I pick them, then they are somehow unsuitable. Not that I have an issue with this or anything.
Sissy: These are definitely NOT cozy mysteries. They are too sinister and the writing has too much depth and mastery foor that classification. I can intuitively tell you what is and what is not a cozy mystery.
Bubby: Hmmm. Let’s see – small group of characters living in a small town where large amounts of people are murdered randomly and bodies (as well as perpetrators) are found by one of said small group of characters. Repeatedly. Pretty sure that was Sissy’s main issue with cozies. Therefore, these qualify.
Sissy: Sometimes you just have to go with the more mature and wise viewpoint that comes with living one’s life on the psychic wavelength. Don’t fight it, Bubby. Just go with my intuition. Plus, none of our characters found the dead body or had anything to do with it in this story. Plus, there’s the Galveston hurricane angle.
Bubby: I was speaking of the series as a whole, not just this book. But whatever. I have learned that sometimes it’s just easier to let Sissy win – otherwise she pouts and moans and I have to placate her with chocolate. Read the book. It’s a good one. I give it 4 bubbles.
Sissy: I give it 4.25 bubbles for excellent writing and ghostiness and historiosity.
Click HERE to buy Widow’s Tears at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
 
 

After having been missing for two years, Abigail Sutton’s beloved husband is found dead, having fallen prey to a carjacking.   Abigail has suffered so much that she see’s no other alternative but to hit the road in search of a new life.  In the small town of Spookie she finds and buys a fixer-upper house that has been empty since the death of its previous owner, Edna Summers. For the first time in a long while Abigail begins to feel peace and make new friends.  However, the old house she has chosen seems to have chosen her to solve its thirty year old mysteries.  As the evidence unfolds, Abigail has to decide what is more important to her:  keeping safe, or laying to rest the unhappy ghosts of the past.

Bubby: This was a creepy little story! I guess I should have seen that coming, seeing as how it’s set in a town named “Spookie.”  I really feel bad for the heroine of this story, Abigail. Can you even imagine? Her husband goes out on an errand one day and never comes home. And it takes two years for him to be found and give her closure.  And then, as if she hasn’t had enough, she moves into a house with a mystery attached – and that mystery turns out to be a tragedy.

Sissy: I can’t imagine going through what Abigail did. And then going to this new old house and finding scraps of paper left by two missing children would just cap it all for me. I’d probably just go check myself into the nearest loony bin. But not her! She is much braver than I and does her best to see justice done.

Bubby: I had a hard time reading the parts of the book that described the little notes left by the children. They were mistreated to such an awful extent. I have no sympathy or mercy in my soul for those who abuse children. I hope that God has a lovely little corner of hell set aside just for them. And a lovely little corner of heaven set aside for the children.

Sissy: This is a bit of a dark mystery but it also has a light romance and the small-town friendliness of a cozy mystery, which balances out the darker bits. This is the first book that I’ve read by Kathryn Meyer Griffith and in looking at her other titles, this may be the LEAST dark of her stories. Some of them look pretty scary.

Bubby: I am so going to read Don’t Look Back, Agnes – just because I love the title. And because I want to sit on my couch yelling “NO! Agnes! Don’t do it, Agnes!” just to irritate my children.

Sissy: Me too. Her latest book is a vampire story (Human No Longer) that has the tagline “sometimes a mother’s love is stronger than blood”.

Bubby: My love for my children is stronger than blood. Chocolate, maybe not. But definitely stronger than blood.

Sissy: Yes, well, I was going to say (about that title and tagline) how shuddersome is that?! But then I remembered my own plotline for the zombie novel I’m going to write and it sounds eerily familiar. Kathryn Meyer Griffith and I should chat.

Bubby: Sure. Drop her an email. I’m sure you’ll be having lunch together and swapping story ideas right away!

Sissy: So, back to our present story. You end up suspecting everyone, even the people you desperately don’t want to be guilty and the ending is completely satisfying. This is a good little mystery, probably best read on a dark and stormy day, but good enough for anytime really.

Bubby: My only issue with the ending is that the series continues. I would have loved for this to be a stand-alone novel. It was all wrapped up so nicely that I don’t really feel the need for any more books but maybe I should read the next one (All Things Slip Away) before I make a judgement. On a side note, the author tells the story of this book’s publishing history on her Amazon.com page. Really interesting .

Sissy: This book was originally published in 2003 and after going through a lot of crap from the original publisher, it is finally available for a great price as a self-published ebook at Amazon.com. Well worth a read. I give it 4 bubbles.

Bubby: A nice introduction to the work of Kathryn Meyer Griffiths. 3 3/4 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to purchase Scraps of Paper by Kathryn Meyer Griffith at Amazon.com


When veterinarian Joy Hudson returns to her hometown to help care for her aging father all the trauma of her senior year in high school also returns with a vengeance.  For eighteen years she has tried to erase her painful memories of her best friend’s tragic death.  Now she has to face the boy she blames, who is now the handsome doctor of her parents.  Joy is even more troubled by spooky occurrences in her new home, and the fear that someone is trying to harm her.  Finding answers about the past and dealing with the troubles of the present will take all the courage that Joy has.

Bubby: I wasn’t sure what to think of this book after the first few pages. It seemed like it was heading in the direction of the “I used to love him but I was young and stupid and now – oh wait! I still love him! Smooches all round!” romance novels that are a dime a dozen. Boy howdy was I wrong! In this great book by Edie Claire we have romance (naturally!), mystery, a ghost and even a big fluffy dog! What’s not to like!

Sissy:  Edie Claire is a good writer, and I was so thrilled to discover her (and she has written a lot of books that I now can read!).  Yes, it has all the elements Bubby mentioned, plus some danger and an attempted murder.  But BEST of all, it is a STAND ALONE mystery.  No repeat murders, no plethora of bodies, (a new one every 6 months!) just one death that was traumatic enough to last a whole lifetime.  As it should be.

Bubby: Oh, gosh. Didn’t we just talk about your issues in the last review? I think you need to see a cozy mystery therapist. My goodness. I think that perhaps someone hit you on the head with a cozy mystery when you were small and now – now you have a pathological fear of them. At any rate, this is a wonderful story. I found myself imagining how my life would have been different had my best friend died during our senior year in high school. (She didn’t. She is alive and well and happily married with two adorable boys! Hooray!) I don’t think I would have dealt even as well as Joy did. I would have ended up in the loony bin for sure.

Sissy:  I agree–we’ve barely managed to keep you out of there as it is.  And please note that even though I have issues with cozy mysteries, we still read and review them.  And how many gothic romances have we read and reviewed (remember, those ones you hate)?  Zero.  So, yes, I enjoyed the plot line, the romance, the paranormal aspect that kept me guessing, and the wonderful conclusion.

Bubby: Fine. You get to choose all the books from now on. Yep. All you. Wait! What am I saying? What, am I crazy? Ha! I really enjoy a plot that keeps me interested and guessing all the way until the end. Being the incredibly intelligent and intuitive person I am, it is often too easy for me to guess the culprit far too early in the book. One of the burdens I must live with, I guess. But Edie Claire kept me in the dark – so much so that when the perpetrator is finally revealed, I found myself yelling “NO! Don’t go with — ! — is the killer! —- is the killer!”

Sissy:  To answer your second question, Bubby–yes.  When Bubby was little and yelled out to herself we used to sedate her and put her in a special room.  But, I must agree that the writer surprised us (although Bubby’s many hours in her special room helped her hone her intuitive skills, so she wasn’t as surprised I’m sure.)  Emotionally engaging, suspenseful and spooky–Long Time Coming by Edie Claire gets 4 bubbles from me.

Bubby: You know that I’m going to haunt you when I die – just for comments like that. Oh wait – you’ll die first since you’re MUCH MUCH older. Anyway, I truly enjoyed Long Time Coming. Well written, great characters, nice dog. Can’t wait to read more by this author. 4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy at Long Time Coming by Edie Claire at Amazon.com


 Lori Shepherd has grown up with two important things: her mother’s bedtime stories of a fabulous woman named Aunt Dimity and a stuffed rabbit named Reginald. But now Lori is recently divorced, her mother has passed away and she is stuck in a dead end job. As much as she wishes Aunt Dimity was real, she knows Aunt Dimity was just a fairy tale character from her mother’s imagination. Or so she believes until she is suddenly summoned to the law firm of Willis and Willis. There she learns that Aunt Dimity was very real indeed and has just died and left Lori a grand inheritance. Unfortunately there’s a catch. Lori must go to England to Aunt Dimity’s cottage and find a secret hidden in the piles of correspondence written between Aunt Dimity and Lori’s mother over four decades of friendship. Along the way Lori realizes that Aunt Dimity’s spirit is alive, well and very ready to help Lori on her new quest. Ultimately, Lori’s entire life will change as she discovers all the secrets Aunt Dimity has left for her, as well as finding true love.

Bubby: There are a  few series that I just took to heart from the moment I opened the first book. The Aunt Dimity series is one of these. This first book in the series, Aunt Dimity’s Death was named one of the best mysteries of the 20th century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This is for good reason. It starts out as a standard cozy mystery; down on her luck girl gets mysterious letter alluding to some sort of inheritance and off she goes to England to figure it all out. The twist comes in the form of Aunt Dimity herself. She is dead but her spirit lives on as she magically writes to Lori through the pages of a blue leather journal.

Sissy: The promise of intrigue piques one’s interest as we discover clues having to do with WWII, long-lost loves, and the London Zoo. Mata Hari monkeys? Hyenas on a heist?

Bubby: Pretty sure Mata Hari was WWI, Sissy. It seems that our dear Aunt Dimity has left some task undone and Lori must fix the situation so that Dimity’s spirit will be at rest. I really enjoyed the love interest in this book – he is not your typical tall dark and perfect romantic lead – in fact he has several faults.

Sissy: Like being pudgy, bespectacled, and unfashionable? Those are the ones who have money, my dear Bubby. And I sometimes like our dear Bill better than main character Lori.

Bubby: He does seem like a very sweet man, doesn’t he. I think that his father, Mr. Willis Sr., is my favorite character – he starts off as a bit of a curmudgeon but ends up being the father Lori never had.

Sissy: Yes, and it is fun how throughout the series different ladies in the local village try to entice him romantically. Now, Bubby, would you like to know my pros and cons about this series?

Bubby: I rather think you’ll tell me whether I want you to or not, so go ahead!

Sissy: I Shall start with the cons, so you can rebut. Lori is a bit of a flibbertigibbet. She also ends up with a fairly cushy life, but still complains (“Oh, I’m so flustered with this mystery, I can’t decide what to ask cook to prepare for dinner and I might have to put off my cuticle polishing appointment”). And lastly, how many murders can one village have? I live in a village-like small town, and the last murder we had was 27 years ago.

Bubby: Actually, there are NO murders in this first book. And she doesn’t have a cook. Just saying. She does seem a bit entitled in some of the other books (and yes, she does get a nanny eventually), but let’s just focus on this one book, instead of dissing the series as a whole, shall we?

Sissy: Bubby, you try to spoil all my fun! Here are my PROs for this book (and series, neener, neener). This first book is a solidly good mystery with a unique premise. Some of the books have better plots and storylines for me than others, but they are, as a whole, enjoyable. The setting in a picturesque English village is a plus, and the villagers are idiosyncratic in the usual English villager sort of way. I would live amongst them and eat currant buns.

Bubby: Ooh, yes, currant buns. And scones or perhaps crumpets! With clotted cream! Oh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment in my fantasies of English tea time. I do love the characterizations of the villagers – the quiet horsey couple next door, the elderly twins who finish each other’s sentences and the busybody who runs both the town and her husband!

Sissy: As I said, the villagers are very English villagery. And if you don’t know what that means, dear reader, you clearly need to watch more BBC. I give this book and subsequent series 3 stars.

Bubby: It’s a great book and a great series. I adore them all. I give the book 4 bubbles.

Click HERE to buy Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton at Amazon.com

Click HERE to buy Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton at BookDepository.com

© Bubble Bath Books 2012