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
Katie Parker is about to get a new life—whether she wants one or not. With her mom in prison, and her father AWOL, Katie is sent to live with a squeaky-clean family who could have their own sitcom. She launches a full-scale plan to get sent back to the girls’ home when she finds herself in over her head…and heart. When Katie and her new “wrong crowd” get into significant trouble at school, she finds her punishment is restoring a historic theater with a crazy grandma who goes by the name of Mad Maxine. In the midst of her punishment, Katie uncovers family secrets that run deep, and realizes she’s not the only one with a pain-filled past. Katie must decide if she’ll continue her own family’s messed up legacy or embrace a new beginning in this place called In Between. (From Goodreads.com)
Bubby: I have found a new favorite author – and so has my teenage daughter. You know an author is good when I finish a book and NEED to buy the next two books immediately, which is exactly what happened with the Katie Parker books by Jenny B. Jones. And as for my daughter? I let her read the first book one morning during the last days of summer vacation and I swear to you she did absolutely nothing else except read. All three books. Luckily she reads freakishly fast!
Sissy: Here’s the thing about Jenny B. Jones. She’s hilarious! This you would not expect from a young adult genre book but I laughed out loud so many times. The dialogue is so witty I wished that I could come up with stuff like that. My favorite character was, of course, Maxine, Katie’s foster grandmother.
Bubby: I LOVE Maxine! I want to BE Maxine!
Sissy: Excuse me, I was not finished. Anyway, when you read the conversations between Maxine and Katie (especially in the second and third books) you’ll see that Jenny B. Jones totally channels a crazy 60 or 70 something year old lady. I went to the author’s website and looked at her picture and look at her! She’s this young thing! Awesome humor, Jenny. You and me should be friends. Then I would be more popular.
Bubby: Wow, Sissy. Popularity isn’t everything, you know! I really enjoyed the arc of the three books. First we have our introduction to Katie and to James and Millie, her foster parents. We get to watch Katie struggle with being accepted in the town and with learning how to live in a loving home. And then there’s book two, On The Loose. It’s the perfect middle book. Everything goes wrong. The town gets hit with a tornado, Millie gets cancer, and it’s just drama, drama drama!
Sissy: Plus a new male character is introduced, et voila! We have a love triangle! Tate, who supposedly looks like Channing Tatum (need I say more?), brings interest/confusion to Katie’s life. Will she end up with long time crush Charlie or new boy Tate? You may think you know the answer to that question by the end of book three but then Ms. Jones decides to kill us with a teaser for a yet-to-be published novella (Can’t Let You Go) in which things seem to go a different direction. I read somewhere that the novella is supposed to come out September 21st but that is not confirmed on the website. I truly went crazy at that point and wanted to go camp out on Jenny Jones’ doorstep until she fed me the end of the story!
Bubby: Exactly! I have strong feelings on how I want it all to turn out but my strongest feeling is that I want to know! Right now! I can’t possibly recommend these books highly enough. I loved them. I bought them as ebooks and I will probably buy them in hard copy as well. And maybe build a shelf just for them. And hold them and squeeze them and call them George…
Sissy: Okay, now you’re getting creepy.
Bubby: Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to say all of that out loud. Oops. Anyway, 4.5 bloomin’ bubbles from me. Loved them.
Sissy: Great series. I’m only giving them 4.87 bubbles and not 5 because of the crazy-making novella that I cannot read yet.
Click HERE to buy In Between by Jenny B. Jones from Amazon.com.
Click HERE to buy On The Loose by Jenny B. Jones from Amazon.com.
Click HERE to buy The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones from Amazon.com.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
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.
A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself. Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter’s town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam’s girlfriend while he’s in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn’t at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what’s real and what’s fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds – her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?(From Netgalley.com)
Sissy: I! Loved! This! Book! Call me a star-spangled sapster, call me a stuck-in-my-teenagehood starry-eyed lulu, but what the heck! Catch A Falling Star is the sweet and delightful tale of unlikely love that every teenage girl dreams of.
Bubby: Well, then. Star-spangled sapster? I like it! And I loved the book too. It was delicious. The romance, both scripted and real, between Carter and Adam was quite nice and well done but it was the relationship of the three friends that I enjoyed the most. Alien Drake and Chloe have got to be some of the best friends ever written. And yes, you read that right. It’s Alien Drake. You’ll see why when you read the book.
Sissy: Carter Moon is as real of a girl as real can get. She works hard in the family diner, helps her dad keep it all together while activist mom is off doing her thing –
Bubby: And don’t forget that she loves her delinquent brother in spite of himself. Just like I love you.
Sissy: Right. She’s good to her troubled brother John, just like Bubby is always feeding and caring for the poor unfortunate Sissy. Not. And our hero, the actor Adam Jakes starts out being a real spoiled brat stinkpot but we find hidden layers of goodness as we peel off the outer crunchiness, much like a deep-fried onion. Bubby is so stunned by my depths of literary philosophy that she can’t think of a thing to say. After that, I should just give my bubble count and shut down the review, right?
Bubby: Let’s write a blog, she said. It will be fun, she said. Had I only know the full extent of her insanity before I agreed, you’d not be reading this right now!
Sissy: Bubby knows in her soul that her life would be completely pathetic and boring without me, which is sort of how Adam thought all his fans felt about him.
Bubby: Oh, so much I could say here. To be safe (Sissy is giving me that impending violence look) I will just stick to how I feel about Catch A Falling Star. And avoid speaking further of my sister’s many and varied personality quirks. So. I have decided that no matter how good the celebrity life may seem on paper, it is actually pretty horrible. To be expected to be perfect at all times, be available to everyone 24/7, to project the perfect “image”, it’s just all too hard. I can see why so many celebrities are messed up. Adam seems to be in this category at the beginning of the novel. Fortunately for him, the staged romance with Carter shows him what he’s missing.
Sissy: When you’re so handsome and good-looking like Adam, it is hard to get over yourself and let people into what’s inside. It’s also hard for people to see past your looks. It becomes really tiring for me when all the time people can’t see past my gorgeous face. I just want to say, “Look! There’s a real person here!”
Bubby: I am thinking that NOW it’s time to shut down the review. Sissy has obviously missed a pill or two recently and I think I need to limit her exposure to the public!
Sissy: I was going to say that in Carter, Adam finds the one person who sees him, really SEES him and in the end he cannot let her go. Love it x 100! I also liked how they started out each chapter with “Yesterday’s Sightings”, which is the three friend’s blog about the sky and the stars and their philosophy of relating star sightings to real life.
Bubby: I loved that also. Catch A Falling Star by Kim Culbertson is a winner. A great read for teens and adults alike. 4.5 bubbles.
Sissy: Great read.
Bubby: I just said that.
Sissy: Okay, Ms. Snobby Thesarus-Pants. It was a splendid, tip-top treatise. 4.5 froths of effervescense.
Bubby: That was better.
Click HERE to buy Catch A Falling Star by Kim Culbertson at Amazon.com
We received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to. Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love. This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
Sissy: I haven’t read anything from Ann Brashares since the days of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The Here And Now couldn’t be more different from that series, but I really got caught up in this story. This is such a refreshing new twist on the dystopian futuristic society type of story. Imagine solving the problems of the future by going back to the past.
Bubby: It’s like Back to the Future in reverse! Except that the new future you make might not always be the one you were hoping for. I’d like to expound on that but Sissy is smacking me and yelling “Spoilers! Spoilers!” so I guess I won’t.
Sissy: If we could go back in the past I would start smacking you in order to make your present day lies the truth. One thing this book made me do is really think about the future consequences of the way we treat our planet–what could occur because of global warming and the overuse of petroleum. This showed depth and intelligence in the thinking of author Ann Brashares. Blood plagues and mutations and the proliferation of mosquitoes in the overly warm future world are convincingly crafted, and I found myself buying into it and counting the years to see if I would be alive when things got “really bad.”(No, I would be thankfully dead, which was a relief to the part of my brain having paranoia about the future). And even though it is fiction, my psyche found the whole thing to be frightfully plausible, except for the escaping to the past part. Which is bad, because that means being stuck in a hideous, tragedy-filled future with no way out.
Bubby: I agree that it was scarily plausible and doesn’t sound like any future that I want to be a part of. I like my current lifestyle of overabundance and ease. I loved the characters of Prenna and Ethan. With one exception. Ethan is a horn dog. Now I realize most teenage boys fall into this category, but there I felt like Ethan pressures Prenna too much and it doesn’t jive with the otherwise thoughtful and loving boy that he is. I have a really big issue with teenage sex in books–its just not okay. They are too young and too dumb to realize the meaning and consequences of intimacy. Fortunately, they didn’t actually go that far in this book, but I wanted to smack Ethan upside the head and say “give it a rest already!”
Sissy: That being said, the love story between the two is sweet. Prenna’s mother is portrayed really well. She is a flawed character trying to do her best in a difficult situation. She annoyed me, but I don’t know that I would or could have done things differently in her shoes.
Bubby: Overall a fascinating, entertaining read. 3.75 bubbles
Sissy: Captivating and thought provoking. 3.75 for me as well.
Click HERE to pre-order The Here And Now by Ann Brasheres at amazon.com
©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.
Cooper Reynolds’s life is going to the dogs… literally. As if being a high school senior in a small Texas town wasn’t hard enough, Cooper has bigger things to worry about than who he’ll take to prom and whether or not the Poisonfoot Padres will win homecoming. He has less than a year before his eighteenth birthday, when a curse placed on his family will doom him to live in coyote form forever. The last thing he needs to complicate his already messed-up life is a girl, but fate has other plans in mind for him when it brings Eloise “Lou” Whittaker to Poisonfoot. She’s grouchy, sarcastic and has no love for her new Texas home, but she might be exactly the right person to help Cooper break the curse. The clock is ticking, and Cooper will have to decide if he’s willing to let Lou in on his dirty little secret before it’s too late. (From Netgalley.com)
Sissy: Holy cliffhanger, batwoman! I hate cliffhangers, but I gotta say, I enjoyed getting to it. I didn’t like Lou’s attitude at first (trying to hearken back to my teenage years to see if I was such a selfish stink-butt to my mom, and the answer is “probably”). I really didn’t like that her father dying was not her number one pick for the worst things ever in her life but rather number two after moving because her dad died. But, she does redeem herself in many ways. The best way is that she ignores everyone who tells her to stay away from Cooper and instead befriends the poor, friendless guy.
Bubby: You were absolutely a selfish stink-butt. I was there. I remember everything! Besides, aren’t most teenagers selfish stink-butts for at least some of the time? My biggest problem with Autumn is that there is so much more to the story and I have to wait to get it. I am not good with waiting. I much prefer instant gratification – why do you think I buy most of my books on Kindle? There is a sense of tension throughout this whole story, even from the very beginning. You know that something is going to happen to Lou in this new town she’s going to. You know that something is hinky with Cooper and his mysteriously missing brother. And you know that there is something else going on but you just can’t put your finger on it. Until the end. The quite literally explosive end. Oh my.
Sissy: And let’s just get it out there that you were a bratty poop-head. But I’m over it. I’m not over Autumn by Sierra Dean, however. This book is essentially a teaser, a trap to get you hooked into reading the whole series. You are introduced to the mystery, the curse, the watchers (we don’t really know much about them), the ghosts (yes! Creepy stuff that I hope becomes less creepy!), and the coyote. It is no spoiler so I’ll just say it–Cooper is doomed to turn into a coyote on his 18th birthday because of a long-lived curse. Very original, Ms Dean. No turning back and forth from human to animal like some werewolf or shapeshifter, but just a one way trip to coyote-hood. The end. Everyone in the book except Lou knows more than they’re letting on, and we have to wait. for. it.
Bubby: Can you imagine dealing with the reality that you ARE going to be a coyote? At least with werewolves there is a chance to live something like a normal human existence. But not here. We’re not even sure how much, if any, human remains in the coyote. It seems to be a clear-cut case that once you’re turned, it’s all over. But nothing is really clear-cut in Autumn. There are layers and twists aplenty and I am sure there is much more to come. Perhaps there is a redemption in store in the future? And we haven’t mentioned anything about Wyatt and his family yet. Not that I can say much without giving away spoilers, but Wyatt is a super popular kid who also seems to be genuinely nice. But Wyatt has a few surprises of his own up his sleeve. Aaargghh! I want to say more but Sissy would smack me for giving things away, so I will stay silent.
Sissy: Just so you know, readers, even though Bubby says she is often threatened with smackage by me, the only smack she has ever received from me is the clever verbal type– even if she was ever annoying enough to receive the physical kind. That said, I don’t have much more to say about Autumn and since Winter isn’t expected to be released until November-ish I am going to pout for a minute. Okay, I’m done. Sierra Dean is quick-witted with her dialogue and metaphors, and her characters are well-rounded. I especially liked Granny Elle, except for when she was being a stink-butt about Cooper, and who wouldn’t want to live in a town called Poisonfoot?
Bubby: Autumn is a really enjoyable page turner of a read. Oh, and it’s on sale at Amazon.com for only 99 cents right now. What a steal! I can’t wait until Winter comes out. I guess I will have to wait until then to find out what’s really going on in Poisonfoot, Texas. 4 bubbles.
Sissy: I’m not going to read the next one until all the books are out. That may be in 2016. But I’ll give Autumn 4 impatient bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Autumn at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
We received a copy of Autumn by Sierra Dean 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.
Meghan Elam has been strange her entire life: her eyes have this odd habit of changing color and she sees and hears things no one else does. When the visions and voices in her head start to get worse, she is convinced that her parents will want to drag her off to another psychiatrist. That is, until the mysterious Cade MacRoich shows up out of nowhere with an explanation of his own.
Cade brings her news of another realm where goblins and gnomes are the norm, a place where whispering spirits exist in the very earth, and a world where Meghan just might find the answers she has always sought.
Bubby: At first I didn’t see anything strange about our girl Meghan. Funny eyes that change color? Mine do that. Voices in ones’ head? Isn’t that normal? Doesn’t everyone have voices in their head telling them to do things? My psychiatrist says it’s perfectly fine. I just shouldn’t do what they say! But seriously. I was intrigued with Meghan from the beginning. She was abandoned at the age of 2 on Halloween and has been dealing with all sorts of what she thinks are psychological issues ever since. She has a loving family and good friends but there has always been these issues she has to deal with. And as a teenager, the worst possible thing you can be is different.
Sissy: Well, Bubby, you’ve outed yourself. People didn’t realize that I came and blogged with you in your padded cell, and that I have to wear body armor, just in case. The author describes Meghan as “strange-looking” and obviously the kids at school agree with this description but I couldn’t get a picture in my mind of what it was that was strange. Was it simply the changing eyes? Was it being tall and gangly? Were her eyes too big for her head, like a Roswell alien? What? And then Cade is described as having similarities to Meghan but he is called handsome. Maybe it’s all in how Meghan sees herself. What I do like is that once Meghan finds out who she really is and what she can do, she isn’t suddenly then transformed into a beauty or described as such.
Bubby: On the surface, this seems like the same formulaic plot we’ve seen a bazillion times: girl is weird and is drawn to otherworldly handsome boy who is dangerous to her for some reason, but the attraction is too great and they must be together no matter what. But this is not the case. Meghan is not at all what she thinks she is. She is actually more dangerous than Cade, even though he has a very interesting quality that I cannot reveal at this time. Meghan is not that kind of girl who is willing to throw away her life and safety for the unsuitable boy. If anything, the roles are reversed here.
Sissy: After 17 years of psychological trauma (even though her adopted parents are great), it is understandable that Meghan is a bit of a ninny and has a hard time seeing herself as anything wonderful or more than the freaky awkward person she’s always felt herself to be. But the author does a fantastic job of showcasing Meghan’s potential, promising that in books to come, Meghan will be able to come into her own and recognize how special she truly is. Also, the plethora of otherworldly characters and the whole emotional complexity of the Fae world is very well presented.
Bubby: Yes, Jenna Elizabeth Johnson does a great job of foreshadowing. All the way through you can see hints of what’s to come – just enough to tantalize you into reading the next books ( Dolmarehn and Luathara, both available now). I was totally sucked into the story by how quickly I felt invested in the characters. It’s a quick paced read that moves from conflict to conflict peppered with bits of humor and romance.
Sissy: Meghan also has the requisite geeky friends, but one in particular turns out to be a great ally. I immediately read book two, Dolmarehn and I had pangs of longing when I had to put aside Luathara until I had finished the stack of books I was required to read first. Faelorehn is a wonderfully intriguing first book in a very well written trilogy. 4 bubbles.
Bubby: I haven’t gotten to read either book two or three yet, but they are definitely on my list. 3.5 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy Faelorehn at Amazon.com
We were given a copy of Faelorehn by the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Forgetting was only the beginning. When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse still, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle. (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: While I enjoyed this book because it is a lovely tale of redemption with a happy ending, and you know I love a happy ending, I have to say I found it to be the slightest bit shallow, and there are some holes in the plot. Sia, in my opinion, doesn’t try hard enough to find out who she is, but rather just dives into the homeless life. When she encounters Kyle in the soup kitchen, she doesn’t ask him about herself, even though he obviously knows her. She solves all her family’s problems a little too neatly, and completely changes herself in the meantime. Not that I don’t like the changes and solutions; I do. I like how everything turns out. I just don’t know if I believe its possible.
Bubby: Oh, Sissy. Sometimes you are such an adult! Yes, it was all too easy to fix Sia’s family and turn around the “mean girls” at the high school – from an adult perspective. But think of it from the viewpoint of a 14 or 15-year-old girl. Especially one who is getting picked on by said mean girls. They are dreaming of a quick fix, some way that people will suddenly wake up and see them for the wonderful people they are and quit tormenting them. In reality, it usually doesn’t happen. It takes lots of time and maturity. That’s why high school reunion revenge fantasies are so popular! When Sia is at the soup kitchen and Kyle calls her out, she is confused and scared. All she knows is that someone is yelling at her and she just wants to get away. It’s obvious to me that trying to get answers would not be her first reaction. The same goes for her family. Everyone with deep family issues wishes that the person with the problem would suddenly wake up and see the light. Josh Grayson just makes those wishes come true.
Sissy: But it’s also true that life doesn’t work that way, and if you have fantasies to that effect you are setting yourself up for repeated disappointment. But, I know that I like my fantasy endings, and it doesn’t make me think that’s the way real life will be. They just allow me some escape, which is perhaps how I should view this book. I also am a fan of goodness, positive changes, and believing that anything is possible, and I guess Josh Grayson tries to incorporate those things in a short 193 pages. I just think this book is too young for my jaded old self in some ways, and I wanted to yell at Sia for being so dumb. Sia is 17, but I suppose the perfect reader of this book might indeed be a 15-year-old. Age 15 is such a distant fly speck on the landscape of my life….my 15 yr old pathos and angst has been relegated to a forgotten and dusty corner of my brain.
Bubby: And that’s a good thing! I really liked the message that having things and money and popularity is not a lasting formula for happiness, and that true joy comes from serving others and loving selflessly. Also, I loved the descriptions of the fabulous clothes, especially the dress Sia wears to the Oscars. My favorite line in the book also comes at the Oscars, when Kyle and Sia get to meet Robert Downy Jr. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens! Can I just say that if I met Robert Downy Jr. I would probably make a fool of myself – calling him Mr. Iron Man, Sir, or something equally fan-girly. I guess it’s a good thing I am far away from Hollywood!
Sissy: I wouldn’t. I would just say “Hey, Bob.” Sia is the debut novel for Josh Grayson, and I think he did a good job.(rhymes with “Hey, Bob.”) I applaud him for writing a hopeful, happy novel to be placed on the shelves in the midst of more gritty, dark, and lusty offerings, and I hope girls choose this sort of book over those. It just wasn’t the kind of novel that gets to me deeply, like an Amy Harmon or Suzanna Kearsley book. But I say, “Go, fight, write more, Mr. Grayson!” 3 bubbles from me.
Bubby: I am a bit more enthusiastic than you, Sissy. I quite enjoyed Sia. I thought it was a lovely story with a great message and a happy ending for all. 4 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy Sia by Josh Grayson at Amazon.com
We received a complimentary copy of Sia in return for a fair review. No other compensations, monetary or otherwise, were given.
© Bubble Bath Books 2013