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
Chira Kelly thought she didn’t need anyone…until she met Ben. Because of one ugly rumor, Chira lives as an outcast at her school. Which is fine with her, because she works better alone. Always has, always will. And at least she has her one and only true friend, Tasha. When Tasha insists that they join a group to visit a possibly haunted abandoned old schoolhouse, she’s wary, but joins her friend. Because of that decision, their lives are in jeopardy as a malevolent spirit targets the group. Tragedies and accidents pick them off one by one, and Chira finds herself drawn to the one person who can see the truth. But can he protect her?
Sissy: The story begins by introducing us to Chira, a young adult protagonist who is so complex, yet extremely well fleshed out by the author. She has a dodgy home life with a verbally abusive step-father and a mostly absent mother. Her school/social life is just as bad. But she is strong, independent, determined, and very relatable. We next meet our hero, Ben, explained in his own words “…I’m a Shadow Maven. I see the truth that most people can’t, like impressions or demons.” Does this whet your appetite? How about a haunted house, unexplained “accidents,” and a sweet, slow-paced hint of romance? I knew it–you want to read it!
Bubby: So, I don’t do haunted houses. Or scary movies. Or anything like that. I am a wuss. Scary books are the only exception. Unfortunately, I did not realize that First Impression was going to be creepy/scary, and so I managed to completely freak myself out and had to stay up all night in case the axe-wielding zombie demons came. Seriously, though, it was a great story ( and there really are no zombies or axes).
Sissy: Bubby is indeed a right gaping scaredy cat. I didn’t even blink an eye–just enjoyed thoroughly this first YA paranormal mystery from Pauline Creeden. I only remember having nightmares from a book on two occasions–once from an early Mary Higgins Clark and the other time from an early Orson Scott Card. Ghastly and disturbing, they were, but this is not anything like those. I can’t say much more without spoiling things, except I was surprised often and didn’t guess who (or what) dunnit. Mwahahahahaha!!
Bubby: And now I’m scared again! Great story, great characters. Just read it with the light on…4 bubbles
Sissy: What a milquetoast! Read it in the darkkkk….aaaagh!! 3.9 moaning bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy First Impression by Pauline Creeden at Amazon.com
We received a copy of this title from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
Fifteen-year-old Thea Wallis was born to entertain. Her mother, Oscar winning actress Cassie Hartley, thinks differently and has kept her daughter out of the spotlight since day one. Coming from showbiz royalty, it hasn’t been easy to go unnoticed, but mismatched surnames, a family home in Tasmania and a low-key scriptwriter father has made this possible. Just like her cousin Rory on the hugely popular TV show Saturday Morning Dance, Thea loves to dance. She learns the show’s routines off by heart each week, despite her mother’s attempts to convince her that dentistry would be a far more fulfilling career choice. However, when Rory goes off the rails in LA, Thea’s mother is suddenly left with no choice at all – Rory needs them and to LA they must go. Within forty-eight hours, Thea finds herself a long way from Tasmania and living her dream – on the road to Las Vegas with the Saturday Morning Dance team. It doesn’t take long before Thea’s talents are discovered and she’s offered everything she’s ever wanted on a plate, including the dance partner she’s had a crush on forever. But, as her mother has always told her, Hollywood dreams come at a price. Thea soon realizes she will have to work out just how much she’s willing to pay. And, ultimately, discover her own way to be Hartley. (From Netgalley.com)
Sissy: Being Hartley by Allison Rushby was just a fun little read. Thea lives in a world that seems magical to me, but was slightly annoying to her. I kept thinking that being in a famous family and having no money worries and travelling the globe would be, I dunno, rather fun, but I guess it has its downsides too. I am willing to give it a try, though. “Hollywood!! Yoohoo–I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!”
Bubby: I know, right? They kept ordering room service or buying jewelry or reserving cabanas the same way I buy drinks at Sonic (only during 1/2 price happy hour) and socks at Wal-Mart. How the other half lives, I guess. But as much as the money and recognition would be nice, I think the constant pressure to be “on” and perfect would kill me. I’d go from happy homemaker to star to dead of a heroin overdose in the blink of an eye.
Sissy: Once you get past the mindless spending of money, you find a great teenage story. No super powers or magic, unless you count the platinum visa, just kids growing up and finding out how to be. A little family drama, a little romance, a little bungalow in Tasmania, all great stuff.
Bubby: All Thea’s mom wants is for Thea to grow up as a normal teenager, without all the pressure of stardom. All Thea wants is to be allowed to make her own decisions. Seems like the issues between kids and parents are pretty much the same no matter if you are famous or not. (Except for the bungalow in Tasmania). I love reading stories that are good enough for me to enjoy and for my teenagers to enjoy as well. This is one that they will really like.
Sissy: Also all the Hartleys have beautiful distinctive curly blonde hair and are beautiful and talented, sort of like me and Bubby. Without the curly bit. Could have been named “Being Sissy”. Great fun of a book. I give it 3.75 bubbles.
Bubby: Sissy is delusional. I love her anyway. 3.5 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy Being Hartly by Allison Rushby at Amazon.com
We were given a copy of this title by Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.
Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?
As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.
Sissy: Learning to Swim has layers of backstory, memories, and tragedies, and it was quite engaging–I read it in a couple of days and was kept up at night trying to make sure I had everything straight in my head (that is a slow pitch to you, Bubby).
Bubby: Oh, the possibilities! Should I make a snarky comment on your age and the affect thereupon your brain? Or say something about my infintiely greater mental capacities? I can’t decide! I’ll just let this one go – call it an early birthday present. I had a hard time getting into the story of Learning to Swim. It came off as the typical YA summer romance novel. There was some teenage drinking among the rich and fabulous set, some Romeo and Juliet-type issues with the rich girl and the “townie” boy and all the accompanying angst that one would expect. However. The story started dragging me in. Before I knew it, I actually cared about these people and their lives. The thing that pulled me in most was Mrs. O’Leary and her stories. I figured out who (or should I say what) she was pretty early on and it just got better from there.
Sissy: I truly felt bad for Cora. Her parents are garishly noveau rich and want her to have the right friends and the right college and they are willing to pull whatever strings they can to get her those things. Cora hates the shallow set of rich teens and has no clue what she wants to do with her life other than backpacking through Europe. There is such a lack of communication between her and her parents. I just don’t get it. Would parents really choose an arrogant, lazy party boy for their daughter just because he is rich?
Bubby: Our dad would have! Remember John M.? I think we’ve mentioned him before… I too was amazed by this. Even after Cora reveals that all Mr. Richie Rich wanted from her was to “get in her pants”, her parents still favored him. Stupid, stupid. I love how Cora has so little interest in the rich teenagers that she can’t even be bothered to remember most of their names – two of the girls are simply Blondie and the bimbo. She ends up regretting her reverse prejudice later on, though. But you’ll have to read the book to find out why and with whom!
Sissy: My favorite character was Mrs. O’Leary. She is a complex individual who cannot be labeled as good or bad. The Irish folklore she introduces is fascinating, but full of riddles and hidden meanings. Mrs. O’Leary, known as Lia (short for Cordelia) by the townfolk, has episodes of warmth and lucidity mixed with outright lunacy.
Bubby: Sounds like you!
Sissy: I knew you were going to say that, but I was also going to say that it reminds me of myself. So there. Just because you’re in control of the keyboard you think you can steal my mad thoughts and write them as your own!
Bubby: I try, but then you smack me. I have the bruises to prove it! Just kidding. Once you know more about Lia’s history, everything she says makes perfect sense. Don’t you think?
Sissy: Yes, that was what I was going to say before you hijacked the blog.
Sissy: Poor baby. Maybe you’ll behave better next time. So Learning To Swim left me with all kinds of questions. We don’t know exactly who is who and what belongs to whom and we don’t even know when book two is coming out. We are hoping Annie Cosby will shed some light on that soon.
Bubby: Way to be cryptic, Sissy. But it’s true. I read the last page and kept looking for another page, one that would keep the story going. But it’s just a classic cliffhanger. I, for one, want more! 3.75 bubbles from me.
Sissy: I give it 4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Learning To Swim at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance. Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory. The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect? (From Amazon.com)
Bubby: In my dreams sometimes I pretend that I am a beautiful woman disguised as an elite warrior. My fighting skills are legendary and the few men who know my secret are captivated by my exotic beauty and keen intelligence. And then I wake up and realize that I am dreaming about this book I just read: Defy by Sara B. Larson. There are many many writers out there, and multitudes of books to read and many of these are debut novels. However, not many of them (whether they be debut books or book #42) are as captivating and intense and just dang GOOD as this one. At its core, it is a story we’ve heard before – a girl dresses up like a boy to escape a “fate worse than death”, in this case, the breeding houses set up by the evil king to provide a never-ending source of warriors. But the plotline explodes from there. Secrets, rebellions, love triangles, handsome princes…I could go on and on. But when I go on and on Sissy yells at me so over to her.
Sissy: Well, Bubby, that was a literary lake of lusciousness, although I remember your dreams differently. You must have been dreaming the warrior fighting bits when your heel was shoved into my ribcage (Bubby and I had to share a bed in our youth, when we were sharecroppers in Alabama). Did your princess self like to wrestle, too? Cause I remember being caught up in your claustrophobic clutches many a time, causing me to dream about being strangled by dwarves.
Bubby: Seriously? Are you EVER going to get over this? So I was a bit of a restless sleeper. And I wouldn’t go to sleep unless you sang to me. Repeatedly. But is that so bad? And really, it was only for five years or so and then you abandoned me! It’s time to move on. You’ve been sleeping without me for decades now. Talk about the story!
Sissy: So our heroine Alex(a) never has to sleep with her sister –
Bubby: Because she doesn’t have one. Otherwise I bet she’d have loved to share a bed with a beloved sister…
Sissy: Anyway, she is the very definition of a kickbutt girl. I had an inner conversation at one point when I was reading of her great feats of strength and endurance and bravery and I said to myself, “Self, you are overly fond of this chick and her exploits. But you are nothing like her! You don’t like to sleep on the floor and fight with men hand-to-hand and be smelly and have scary adventures and save the world. You must be schizophrenic!” And I answered myself, “You could possibly be right.”
Bubby: Umm. Well, let’s not rule out schizophrenia just yet, but I think we all do this with characters we love. I love the Lord of the Rings books and movies but there is no way on earth (or Middle Earth for that matter) that I would have volunteered to go on any kind of world saving mission. I would have just hung out with the elves and learned cool hair braiding techniques. That’s what good books are for – to escape our own existence and live vicariously through someone else. And if they happen to be beautiful and exciting and ever-so-deadly, then hooray!
Sissy: Bubby the philosopher has answered the esoteric question of the hour. Notwithstanding my weenie arms, I identified with Alexa and thoroughly ate up Defy. I give it 4 bubbles, not to be popped by hidden boot daggers, which I will probably start wearing any day now.
Bubby: I still think you might be schizo, Sissy, but I will agree with you that Defy is an outstanding debut. I loved it. 4 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to buy Defy by Sara B. Larson at Amazon.com
We were given a copy of Defy by the publishers in return for a fair and honest review.
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure skater who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life. Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over. When the two Sloanes meet by chance and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself. (From NetGalley.com)
Sissy: I thought this was just a peach of a book. A unique little storyline, girl bonding, romance and ice sports, this book caught my interest right off the bat. I enjoyed every bit of the read.
Bubby: I must admit, I am a bit of a figure skating nerd. I love watching the competitions on tv, love the intricacies of the techniques and REALLY love the sparkly costumes. Mind you, I can’t skate to save my life, but if I had been a little petite thing with access to a skating rink, I’d like to think that I could have given Nancy Kerrigan a run for her money! (If you don’t know who Nancy Kerrigan is, this may not be the novel for you. There are TONS of skating references here – salchows, triple axels, “pulling a Tonya Harding”, etc.) Hockey, now, not really my thing – although when I lived in Detroit the Red Wings were in the finals and it got pretty exciting. At any rate, we’ve got a hockey chick and a figure skater and when they switch places, they both learn that the opposite sport is not as easy as it looks!
Sissy: That’s the book in a nutshell, Bubby. Both girls think the other is not as good as the other in their sport. They make fun of each other’s style of clothing and mannerisms and they both think that their family problems are worse than the other girl’s problems.
Bubby: What would you rather deal with? An alcoholic mother or a high-profile father with a scandal looming on the horizon? Worst thing we had to deal with was being the principal’s daughters!
Sissy: I would rather not deal with any of it, thank you! While the life lessons learned in this book are the same as in hundreds of other books, I thought the setting and setup were refreshing in Being Sloane Jacobs. The writing was very smooth. If I had any complaint at all it would be that things were wrapped up too quickly and neatly, and I would have liked the ending to be more complex. I had this same complaint for book three of the Hunger Games series, so author Lauren Morrill is in good company. Anyway, I too love watching figure skating–at our house growing up it was a nice break from football. Which is all that was on during certain portions of the year. Did I mention we only had one old TV set? So you see how the rare glimpse of feminine sports and sparkling attire was like unto heaven for us.
Bubby: I agree! But I can see the appeal of hockey as well. It’s a lot like football on ice, isn’t it? At any rate, Being Sloane Jacobs was a great read with great characters. I enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed Tara Lipinski’s 1998 Olympic long program. This novel is set to release on January 7, 2014, so get on over to Amazon and preorder it or go ask your librarian to put it on the “must buy” list. 3.5 bubbles.
Sissy: Although Tara Lipinski’s surprise winning program was stunning, I was devastated for Michelle Kwan. I have never recovered. But I did enjoy Being Sloane Jacobs and you will too. Go get it. 3.5 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Being Sloane Jacobs at Amazon.com
We were provided a copy of Being Sloane Jacobs by the publisher in return for a fair and unbiased review. No other considerations, monetary or otherwise, were given.
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king–a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do. (From Amazon.com)
Sissy: I have to just jump right in here and say I LOVED the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson! I spent a lot of time with those books, and lost a lot of sleep. I read the first one and told Bubby about it, and then she (speed reader extraordinaire) read all three and urged me to finish the series AT ONCE! (She is bossy like that…). I finished the 2nd one a little after midnight one night and texted my dear sister that I needed the last one IMMEDIATELY! (I pull “eldest sister” rank like that sometimes…). She is a night owl anyway. The story is epic! Any male would have to rank this tale as high on adventure, action, and all the other manly stuff, except there is enough romance, mystery, magic, and assorted girly stuff to satisfy any female. I wanted to glue a gem in my belly button and pretend I am a bearer of the Godstone. I may still do it.
Bubby: Well, then. So are you saying you liked these books, Sissy? Wow. For me, this series was not an instant hit as it was for Sissy. It grew on me, line by line and chapter by chapter. I have an issue with novels that are written from a first-person present tense point of view. You know, like “I walk through the door and there Sissy sits, eating the last piece of my Godiva Chocolate. I wonder how I will ever be able to love her again as I begin to cry.” Everything is happening RIGHT NOW. It takes me a while to get past that and be able to enjoy the story. I know, I’m a traditionalist old fuddy-duddy for preferring third-person writing. Get over it. The point is, once I got past my issues, I began to really enjoy Elisa’s adventures. How would it be to know without a shadow of a doubt that you were one of a very few choice persons who had been chosen by God for a very specific purpose? I loved watching Elisa grow from a confused little girl into a strong, powerful, confident woman.
Sissy: The books were so good, I didn’t even notice what person they were written in, except for maybe “skillful writing” person. And I would never eat the last of your Godiva chocolates–I might find myself impaled in the eyeball by a corner of the empty box! I also was intrigued with the evolution of Elisa–from a girl who felt unremarkable in every way and unworthy of a Godstone to an all-powerful warrior/sorceress queen. Now, those who want to hear the message that they are fine just the way they are may mistake this as a tale of one who must change everything about herself in order to be worthwhile. But it really is a tale of discovery. In discovering her full potential, Elisa realizes the extraordinariness that was always part of her; not discarding her unique self, but empowering it.
Bubby: These are not light and fluffy books. There is violence and death, trial and pain, redemption and love. They are marketed as Young Adult novels but I think they appeal to a much wider audience. I know that one of Sissy’s pet peeves is when fantasy authors put too much detail into their world building (see our review of Elantris for an example of her ranting) but Rae Carson did an excellent job of building a world that had just enough differentness to keep it interesting without alienating any of her elderly, mush-for-brains readers like Sissy. Just kidding, Sissy. I know that you are as intelligent as you are beautiful! These are captivating books that will reel you in and keep you up well past your bedtime. 4.5 bubbles
Sissy: I agree with you, Bubby (not about the part where you call me elderly) that Rae Carson’s civilizations of Oravalle, Invierne, etc. are beautifully done and do not give me a headache. What can I say, but that if you’re up for an exciting, adventurous read, these books are good! 4.5 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy Crown of Embers by Rae Carson at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013