Forget prophecy. Make your own destiny. Sheltered from the outside world with no hope for escape, slave girl Reychel dreads her fifteenth birthday – when her master’s symbol is burned on the back of her bald scalp. Her best friend disappears the night before, leaving her to face the branding ceremony alone. She soon discovers nothing is as it seems when people desperate for freedom beg for Reychel’s help. Can Reychel learn to believe in herself? (From Netgalley.com)
Bubby: Sometimes we go and look at other’s reviews on a given book just to see what other people are thinking. Sometimes when we do that, we find wildly conflicting opinions. That is the case with Anathema. It seems to us that Anathema was published previously and has been re-released after some major editing, hence the conflicting reviews. At any rate, the version of Anathema that I read was really quite a treat. Original, well-written, great characters. It is the first in a series of 6 books that are split into two trilogies (Cloud Prophet Trilogy and Swarm Trilogy) and a novella that promises to tie the two trilogies together. I have in my possession said novella and book 1 of the Swarm Trilogy. Happy reading ahead for me!
Sissy: Our main character Reychel is a slave who is given some strange preferential treatment by her owner Kandek. Her story is an exciting adventure that leads us to find out she is much more than she thinks. Twisty relationships and secrets revealed add drama and color to the whole tale. There is a touch of romance to spice things up and a whole cast of interesting characters.
Bubby: Including, as always, one you’ve just got to hate. Oh, that character is a nasty piece of work!
Sissy: But that character is dealt with deliciously in the end. All you have to do is look at the face of the cover model and her dreamy eye makeup and you know she is clever and bound to come out on top.
Bubby: Perfect book for a beach read. Now all I need is a beach! 3.5 bubbles.
Sissy: Experience with Reychel secrets that will change her life. I know you can’t wait to find out what happens! 3.5 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Anathema at Amazon.com (Currently FREE!!)
We were given a copy of this title from Netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Sissy: We are book snobs. When I see a book from a Christian publishing house, I will admit that I am immediately beset by a bias which tells me it will be overly cheesy.
Bubby: Possibly with a side of overly preachy.
Sissy: Yes, that too. And I am a Christian. Bubby is too, on a good day.
Bubby: And what, I’m a Druid Priestess on bad days? Sheesh! It was once that I hosted the skyclad dancing under the moonlight in the backyard. Let it go!
Sissy: If that were true, you’d be much more entertaining. Anyway, what I was trying to say was that when I read a novel from a Christian publishing house that surprises me with its literaryness, I have to eat my words and bash my bias. A Match of Wits resulted in word-eating by moi.
Bubby: It’s witty and funny and fast paced and has a spunky heroine with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Great read.
Sissy: Everything Bubby said plus a good dose of wacky tongue-in-cheek adventure and dialogue. Surprise, surprise! I recommend you read it. 3.5 bubbles
Bubby: I will definitely be on the lookout for more by Jen Turano. 3.75 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Match of Wits by Jen Turano
We received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she’s the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, “Did romance have to be part of the adventure?” As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.
Bubby: Well, just as I abandoned Sissy a few weeks ago, this week Sissy abandoned me. Unfortunately, she is not off having fun but is rather recuperating from surgery. We decided that since she is hopped up on really good painkillers, I would take over today and fly solo. She’s outrageous at the best of times – I can’t imagine what she’d say when under the influence!
We were first introduced to the magic that is Alethea Kontis when we read and reviewed Enchanted last year. Hero is the next book in the Woodcutter Sisters. focusing on Saturday (that’s her name, by the way) this time around. We have adventure, romance, evil witches, shapeshifting creatures and natural disasters. A little bit of everything!
As with most of my favorite authors, I wish that Alethea Kontis would write faster and with greater output. I know these writers think that they need to have a life and a family outside of writing books for my personal enjoyment, but I really think they need to reevaluate their priorities! I have needs, people!
I highly recommend both the Woodcutter Sisters novels and am eagerly awaiting the next installment, Dearest, which follows, of course, Friday. It’s not coming out until February though. Not sure I can make it that long! Oh, and did I mention how much I love these covers? Fabulous! 4 magical bubbles from me. And don’t worry, next week Sissy and I will be back writing together again!
Click HERE to buy Hero by Alethea Kontis at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Desperate to escape an arranged marriage and the life her high-ranking government official father planned for her, Cat Hunter does the unthinkable. She runs away from her homeland Tellus, disguises herself as a boy, and stows away on an air ship. She’s ready for life in a new land where the general population isn’t poverty stricken and at the mercy of the cruel officials. What she isn’t quite ready for is meeting Fox, a crew member aboard the Stormdancer—which turns out to be a smugglers’ ship. So begins an epic adventure that spans both land and sea.
Bubby: I highly advise you to pop over to lucysaxon.com and learn a little more about this amazing teen author. She seems pretty dang cool. And the book is pretty dang cool too.
Sissy: Lucy Saxon actually wrote the book when she was 16, can you believe it? She’s very clever and imaginative and I’m blown away at the world that she has created in Tellus. The heroine, Cat, flees a horrible home situation and finds a wonderful alternate family aboard the ship Stormdancer. This book is filled with wonderful characters and exciting adventures. I didn’t like the surprise ending, if I’m being honest, but the writing is great.
Bubby: I am not overly fond of the ending either but it makes sense. Every scene is described with vivid intense detail – you really feel like you are right there in the different lands of Tellus, fighting for truth and justice! Wonderful writing throughout. It looks like there will be 6 books in this series but they will be written as stand-alone books that just share a timeline and a setting. I can’t wait to read more from this new young author.
Sissy: Saxon does the steampunk thing well. There are futuristic gizmos and gadgets aplenty alongside a more Victorian-type society. This juxtaposition is intriguing to me and made the adventure that much more complex. I give this debut a solid 3.75 bubbles.
Bubby: Lots of fun. My teens will really enjoy this and so did I. 3.5 bubbles.
At 16, Madison has accepted herself for who she is: smart and witty, but overweight with thick glasses and the social life of a Tibetan monk. Everything changes the summer before her junior year of high school when her eyesight inexplicably corrects itself, and she begins to rapidly lose weight. However, her new look comes with an unexpectedly expensive price. Madison’s first kiss with the boy she has had a crush on for years triggers powers she can’t control, almost killing him. She discovers she is a Berserker, a powerful being chosen to guard the world from the Havocs, ancient creatures brought into our world by magic thousands of years ago. They cause destruction and death, but cannot be killed. Instead of enjoying her new look and popularity at school, Madison must now work with the Berserkers to master her powers and bind the Havoc before it kills her. (From Goodreads.com)
Bubby: Yes, I know. We said we were sick of Young Adult Paranormal and didn’t want to read or review or even look at it anymore for a while. And we meant it! Except for this book. Because this one is different. No elves. No fairies (or faeries or fae or whatevers). Only a smidgen of magic. No whiny girls who can’t control their feelings for highly inappropriate vampires and/or werewolves. Nope. This is something new and different. Hurrah! I mean, really. Have you ever heard of a Berserker before? (Not the hairy mad Viking warrior type). Me either! As it turns out, Berserkers are always male. Always have been, always will be. There is some sense to this, I think. Men are much more likely to go crazy and start smashing things than your average woman. But Madison is, in fact, a Berserker. How? Why? Read the book. It all makes beautiful sense.
Sissy: We don’t actually know why she’s a Berserker –
Bubby: I do. I know why. And how. Because I read book 2 – Unbound. Ha!
Sissy: Well aren’t you the Duchess of Discovery! One day I shall be like you, able to speed-read all the books in the universe.
Bubby: I gave it to you. Not my fault you didn’t get around to reading it yet.
Sissy: You are rude and insensitive to my geriatric state. I am going to turn into a Berserker one day and have superhuman powers and then you’ll be jealous. I also am glad we made this exception to our “no nauseating paranormal YA (for a while)” rule. It was so engaging. I zipped through it and can’t wait to read book two, Unbound.
Bubby: You’ll like it. It was even better than the first book. I know this because I already read it.
Sissy: Your insecurity is becoming unbearable!
Bubby: You’ll get over it, I promise. Now talk about the book, will you?
Sissy: In the back of my mind I was somewhat bugged by the fact that Madison, in coming into her powers, also gets skinny and loses the Coke-bottle eyeglasses. Because in my enlightened state, I want everyone to be loved and appreciated as they are. But on the other hand, isn’t it everybody’s secret dream to wake up rid of whatever it is about ourselves we dislike most? So it’s a wash.
Bubby: To be fair to the author, it would be rather hard to be a monster-killing machine if one was plump and near-sighted.
Sissy: This is true, so we shall move on. I also felt guilty about the bit of revenge Madison gets for her bad treatment at the hands of one of the highschool mean girls. I felt guilty because I enjoyed it. And there is no syrupy, grotesque romance in this first book, although the promise is there. I’ll have to wait for Unbound to see how it goes.
Bubby: Let’s just say that a delicious little love triangle develops – and drama ensues. And it’s all completely unpredictable. I never saw it coming. You’ll be shocked. There are twists and turns aplenty in both books. Family secrets are revealed, dark histories are unraveled, and so much more. This is really one of the best YA debuts I have ever read.
Sissy: This is also written by a male author. We don’t usually review male authors, but Brant Williams did exceptionally well writing a teenage girl character. I almost couldn’t believe it. I agree with Bubby. Threads That Bind is really good. 4.25 bubbles.
Bubby: Wow, we have been agreeing rather often on ratings lately, Sissy. The moons of Saturn must be aligned or something! I give Threads That Bind 4.25 bubbles also.
Click HERE to buy Threads That Bind from Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.
Spark’s mission is clear; pull Aran from the clutches of the fey folk and restore the balance between the worlds. But can she risk her life for someone who refuses to be rescued? (From Amazon.com)
Bubby: I was so excited for this new novel by Anthea Sharp. It is the first book in the Feyguard Series, a spin-off from the Feyland Trilogy (The Dark Realm, The Bright Court and The Twilight Kingdom). It helps a little with understanding the dynamic between characters to have read the Feyland Trilogy but Spark can definitely stand on its own. Our main character, Spark Jaxley is a superstar gamer who would really like to have a bit more of a normal life. Unfortunately, she won’t find that any time soon. Spark starts off quickly and escalates into lots of action and adventure right away.
Sissy: To be honest with you I was not excited to read this novel. Bubby made me, because we received this book in exchange for our honest review. My not wanting to read Spark has nothing to do with the author–Anthea Sharp is a really great writer. I just generally don’t enjoy this genre. I don’t like gaming, I don’t like futuristic settings, and I don’t like weird made-up names. Unless I make them up. I DO, however, like magic, fantasy and romance, so I read the book.
Bubby: I, on the other hand, am a total geek/nerd/trekkie whatever you want to call it. I love this genre and sci-fi and fantasy make me very happy. I am not a hardcore gamer but I do love computer games and can get lost for hours playing. I have to admit that I spent a great deal of Christmas vacation playing the video games that my children received as gifts! Therefore, this whole thing is right up my alley. It’s not just a book about gaming, though. It’s a great read even if you’ve never played a video game in your life. Want proof? Sissy liked it!
Sissy: Okay, let’s not get all mushy about it–I still wouldn’t pick this genre off the shelf. Here’s what I liked about Spark: Spark, the character, is an awesome girl! She is slightly tomboyish but can rock the spandex when needed. She is true to herself and is real. I liked the new character Aran, and how he struggles to do the right thing and go for the girl. I liked how much I hated the bad guys (evil twin gamers Roc and Cora Terabin). My favorite, though, was Niteesh–super little team-playing minuteman! And I think Anthea Sharp does a fantastic job with the Faerie realm. She describes things so vividly and fleshes out the inhabitants so fully, you feel like you are actually there.
Bubby: I agree. The characters are so well drawn and the settings are amazing. Now, I am in no hurry to meet any of the dark and nasty elves, but I wouldn’t mind hanging out in fairyland for a while. I would be just fine living in a tree, having pointy ears, wearing floaty iridescent robes and having a magical ability or two wouldn’t hurt my feelings. Sometimes my dull and plodding soul just yearns for a little magic and enchantment. That’s one of the reasons I like playing video games. Just like reading, it transports you elsewhere for a time. Fun.
Sissy: Except for the magical ability, you’ve described the way you are right now, Bubby. I still think you should get those ears fixed. And your soul is hardly dull and plodding. Dill and pudding, maybe. As for video games–they give me anxiety. But I endured them for the sake of reviewing this book, which is very well done.
Bubby: Hey! My ears are just fine, thank you. I still think that deep down you want to be a gamer! If nothing else, it would improve your aging reflexes! At any rate, I will continue to read Anthea Sharp’s books for as long as she writes them. All the magic and adventure I could ask for mixed with a dash of romance. Lovely. 4 bubbles from Bubby, the wannabe elf queen.
Sissy: You are surely wrong. Not ever going to be a gamer. 3.75 bubbles from Sissy the enchantress (current, not wannabe).
Click HERE to buy this book at amazon.com
Sneaking out at night, driving without a license, and falling for a guy weren’t things fifteen-year-old Jeni expected to do while visiting Lake Itasca, Minnesota with her family. The guy, Ice, turns out to be the local medicine man’s apprentice, and when he tells Jeni she’s connected to the spirit world, her first instinct is to run. But after Ice’s stories of a mythical underwater monster—that Jeni allegedly released—prove true, she realizes it’s up to her to contain the beast. Jeni must first convince herself that she’s able, and then save the locals, Ice, and ultimately herself. (From Goodreads.com)
Sissy: So Jeni has come to Lake Itasca with her extended family to scatter the remains of her grandfather on the lake. This leads one to ponder on the backstory that is only alluded to in the book. We know that the grandfather was a great traveler and had some sort of connection to the lake and there is something hinky in the genealogy, perhaps suggesting that Jeni has Native American roots. As the story progresses, what you find out about Jeni makes it seem obvious that she must have Native American blood. All this rambling by me leads to the point that I found this YA storyline to be different and refreshing and happily much less angsty than all the paranormal YA stuff I’ve been reading lately.
Bubby: Yes, it does seem like we tend to get in a rut, eh Sissy? I think YA paranormal romance is like candy; really fun and delicious in small doses, but too much makes my tummy hurt. While Thunderstone is still technically in that genre, there are no fairies or witches or vampires. Just Native American legends come to life.
Sissy: I didn’t think I would like Thunderstone. Bubby didn’t think she’d like it either but we were both wrong.
Bubby: I am never wrong. I was simply too hasty in my judgemental process. Not wrong.
Sissy: You were too wrong, you nerf-herder! Get over it! As I said before, it was a really interesting and engaging story. The only problem I had with it is that Jeni is only 15 and to have a “great love” and such fortitude under duress is way more mature than most 15 year-olds actually are. When I was 15, I was a complete social bumbling idiot who would have run home and cowered under her mother’s bed at the sight of a water monster or any sort of supernatural entity. My “great love” was a crush on the neighbor boy, and if he even looked in my direction I would run away and write about it in my journal. Something like “Oh Happiness–“D” looked at me! It must be true love! I can’t wait until we get married!” P.S. “D” now looks like a hairy neanderthal and I’m so glad I didn’t marry him.
Bubby: I totally agree. I like to pretend that the years between 11 and 19 just didn’t exist. No way could I have dealt with any sort of mythical beastie and survived! Heck, I don’t think I would survive a mythical beastie now! At any rate, the storyline of Thunderstone moves along at a swift and satisfying pace. I was never bored or felt like things were dragging.
Sissy: Ice, on the other hand, has a bit mroe reason to be mature for his age. He has experienced many tragical things in his life and has been given much responsibility. Plus he’s a total teenage dreamboat hunk of burning love olive skinned chisel-cheeked Native American boy. Who can resist that?
Bubby: I am more partial to the Viking-warrior type myself, but I can certainly see the allure. I must say though that my favorite character was cousin Tyler. He and Jeni have a relationship more like siblings than cousins. I felt the need to smack him in the head repeatedly at the beginning of the story but he really turns into something quite wonderful by the end. Reminds me of my brothers, one in particular. Totally annoying and obnoxious during childhood but a pretty awesome human being as an adult.
Sissy: Thunderstone is full of action and adventure, and although there is a love story, you only get it in small bits. The Native American folklore is fascinating and Thunderstone makes me want to learn more about it. 3.5 bubbles.
Bubby: Barbara Pietron really has written something special here. Romance, danger, family – it’s all there. 3.5 bubbles from me too.
We received a copy of Thunderstone from NetGalley in return for a fair review.
Click HERE to buy Thunderstone by Barbara Pietron at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014