Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has left a family party to escape to her childhood tree house t0 dream about the boy she likes and the future they might have together. The tree house overlooks the long country lane that leads to the family farm, which gives Laurel an excellent view when a stranger comes to visit. Suddenly, Laurel witnesses a shocking crime that will change how she feels about her family, especially her mother Dorothy, forever. Fast-forward fifty years into the future and now Laurel is a famous actress. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Laurel knows that if she is ever to find answers about what happened so long ago, she must get them now. As we learn the true story, we travel from pre-WWII England, through the war, to present day. It is an intriguing story about love, secrets, and unexpected consequences.
The earth has been invaded by an alien race simply known as “Souls” that take over the minds of humans and use their bodies. Most humans cannot resist and their consciousness disappears. But in the case of Wanderer, her new “host” named Melanie Stryder refuses to go silent. Wanderer never expected to have to battle with Melanie for possession of the body. Now as Melanie’s thoughts and feelings begin to influence Wanderer more and more, they must search for the man they both love and perhaps find a new home and new purpose along the way.
Bubby: I can already hear it. “What? Stephenie Meyer? Isn’t she that Twilight author? I hate/love/ignore Twilight! Another book by her?” Yes. She is the author of the Twilight series. But you’d never know it from reading The Host. No vampires here, sparkly or otherwise. No werewolves, no teenage love drama. Instead you will find a thoughtfully written novel about what it means to be human and what love really is. It’s so different from Twilight that one would think it was another author altogether, although, like Twilight, there has been a movie made – (coming out March 2013).
Sissy: This stunning new story concept from Stephenie Meyer is as un-Twilight-like as can be, which is fortunate because if it had been another vampire book I would have thrown myself into the gaping jaws of Hell (in a strictly non-literal, metaphorical way). This author has a very fertile imagination. So the premise is that alien silver worm-like creatures take over human bodies and thus take over the world making it a more “humane” and peaceful place. Sounds creepy, right?
Bubby: The interesting part is that the “Souls” don’t see anything wrong with taking over the humans. They have done this before on many worlds – Earth is just next on the list. They feel that by using the humans as hosts, they are making our world a cleaner, safer, better place. They have no understanding of how the humans feel about the conquest – humans are simply irrational and Souls are not. It’s not a war – it just is a way of life.
Sissy: This is a back-handed yet thoughtful treatment of racism and bigotry. What happens when the human consciousness and the Soul co-exist in the host’s mind? What happens when they begin to know and understand each other and feel sympathy for one another? And what about free will? This is my favorite of the author’s works so far.
Bubby: As Melanie and Wanderer spend more and more time sharing the host, each begins to more deeply understand the other. Unfortunately, this means that Wanderer starts to feel the same feelings as Melanie, including Melanie’s love for her boyfriend Jared. These feelings cause Wanderer, also known as Wanda, to go against her responsibilities and instead search out the little band of rebels hiding in a cave system designed by Melanie’s Uncle Jebb. There, for the first time, Wanda must deal directly with humans – some of whom want nothing more than for her to die and let Melanie have her body back.
Sissy: Oh my dear Bubby Muffy Boo-Boo. I feel that we are waxing so philosophic that we are becoming stodgy britches. Let us put in our cool silver rimmed contacts and talk about how a human can fall in love with an alien silver ribbon thingy.
Bubby: Ooo, like the ones the actors are wearing in the movie trailers? I am in!
Sissy: If the movie turns out to be as hideous as the first Twilight movie, I’m going to throw silver foil thingies at the screen in protest. You will like this book, my dear blog readers, because it is intellectually stimulating while at the same time being entertaining and romantic. Save the world. Make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race. 4 bubbles.
Bubby: Yes, I do hope that they don’t butcher the movie. That would make me very sad. I loved this book – I love that it explores alien invasion in a new and different way. I love that everyone ends up . . . well, I can’t tell you how everyone ends up but I liked the result. 4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy The Host by Stephanie Meyer from Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy The Host by Stephanie Meyer from BookDepository.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2012
Fairy Godmother Desiderata has died without doing any estate planning – leaving Princess Emberella at the mercy of the not so good and wise Godmother Lilith. Lilith is dead set on having a happy ending no matter what and she’ll stop anyone who tries to get in her way. Now a trio of witches from a neighboring land, Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg, must travel via broomstick to Genua and make sure that the age-old story of servant girl and prince ends differently this time. During the journey the witches face vampires, werewolves and even falling houses before they can battle it out with a power mad woman who is eerily familiar to one of their own.
Sissy: This book is not for people who take themselves too seriously. Terry Pratchett is a wickedly funny satirist and overly stuffed shirts might find him silly. But as I told my friend the other day, if you don’t take time for silliness in your life, your soul becomes constipated.
Bubby: Ooo, which friend? Can I guess? Never mind, I’ll be nice.
Sissy: In Witches Abroad, Pratchett revisits many familiar fairy tales. He teaches us about sensible magic and manages to crack me up on every page. Even the character names are hilarious. I tried to read funny bits out loud to my 17-year-old son today and he just looked at me like I was a blooming idiot.
Bubby: Yes! That’s the same reaction I get from my husband. I own almost everything Terry Pratchett has written and I often find his books so hooting funny that I laugh out loud. I try to share the funniness with my family but they are too closed-minded to appreciate dry British humor. That’s the disclaimer with these books. It seems that a reader will either find them side-splitting or just a pain in the side. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. If you appreciate old BBC television shows like “Fawlty Towers” or “Keeping Up Appearances” then you will enjoy Terry Pratchett. If not, well, just move on to the next review.
Sissy: Reading this book kind of reminded me of watching the movie Waking Ned Devine. And if you don’t like that movie, then skip this book and read Tolstoy. Or something from Oprah’s book list. The three witches, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick and Granny Weatherwax (see, can you even say that without giggling?) have great adventures amongst the “furriners” on their travels to the city of Genua.
Bubby: And Greebo, the salacious cat who is deadlier than a troop of Green Berets – can’t forget him.
Sissy: Greebo, who had “skin that looked less like a fur than a piece of bread that had been left in a damp place for a fortnight (and who) would attempt to fight . . . anything up to and including a four-horse logging wagon.”
Bubby: We don’t usually use quotes straight from the book but Pratchett’s writing is too good. One of my favorite things is Pratchett’s footnote explanations. For instance, he will mention “Bear Mountain”, which should have been called “Bare Mountain” (no trees, you see) and then put an asterisk at the end of the paragraph which links to a footnote on bad spelling, explaining all about when a badly educated deity cursed the seraph of Al-Yabi and how he was cursed to turn everything into Glod, who was a small dwarf from some mountain community thousands of miles away (instead of gold, you see) and now all the people in Al-Yabi are short and bad-tempered and it’s just so dang funny and, well, I can’t do it justice. Just go read the book already. I own it. You can borrow it.
Sissy: Unrestrained frivolity. Monty Python (but more literate and less crude) meets The Brothers Grimm meets Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Ha! Which brings me to my next point – why do we like books with magic and witches?
Bubby: We? As in us, sisters Bubby and Sissy? Or as in we, the human populace at large? Or we, imperially speaking, meaning you?
Sissy: What a frothing waste of words, Bubby. We (you and me, the Bubble Bath Bloggers) are not pagans who routinely light black candles and dance naked around the firepit.
Bubby: Well, except for last Thursday when –
Sissy: Shut up. I’m not done. We like books with magic and witches because they are good imaginative fiction. I don’t believe in magic because I believe that magic is simply science that I don’t yet understand. So all you uptight Harry Potter-book-burning, rioting peasants relax. We are not a coven.
Bubby: Because there’s only 2 of us and you need 3 for a proper coven, everyone knows that. No, seriously. No witchcraft practicing going on here.
Sissy: Okay. Now, back on topic. Read the witchy magic book. It’s good. 4 bubbles.
Bubby: Yep. Delightful. Be aware that not all Terry Pratchett books are created equally – if you’d like a list of which ones to read in which order, leave a comment or shoot us an email and I, Bubby, will share my knowledge. 4 1/2 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett from Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett from BookDepository.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2012
A plague has swept through the Fifteen Realms, decimating the populace. It is believed that the dreaded disease was created and spread by the Healers – people who have the ability to absorb the wounds and diseases of the ill and injured into themselves. Throughout the land Healers are hunted and executed for the gold bounty on their heads. One such is a young woman named Avry of Kazan – only half-trained before the plague hit. Avry lives her life in hiding, revealing herself only when her desire to overcome suffering outweighs her need for safety. When she heals a small child, she is turned over to the town watchmen to await execution. Suddenly she is rescued by a stranger who wants to use her powers for his own agenda – to heal a plague infected prince who is the enemy of her people. As they make the daunting journey across the Nine Mountains they are attacked by mercenaries and encounter a multitude of magical dangers. As Avry learns more about the origins of the plague and the hidden motives of the Healer Guild she must face the fact that healing the prince may cost her own life. And not healing him may cause a war that will cost the lives of everyone around her.
Sissy: The story is full of magic, adventure, intrigue and romance. You really never know what’s going to happen next in the lives of a group of characters that you feel attached to immediately. Avry is the perfect heroine with a mix of compassion, femininity, courage and fighting skills. Her magical powers of healing are only the beginning of her potential. As the book unfolds you realized that Avry is so much more than just a Healer. I am excited to peel back even more of her layers in the next book of the series (Scent of Magic, available December 18, 2012).
Bubby: Wow. That was a mouthful, Sissy! I see that you really like this girl! I did too. In the first pages of the book, Avry is faced with an ethical dilemma – does she keep her powers secret, keep herself safe and let a little girl die or does she heal the girl, knowing that might mean facing her own death? Obviously she chooses to heal little Fawn. This sets the theme for the entire book. Avry would always rather do what is right than what is safe.
Sissy: Yes, Avry is much like myself. Always wanting to do the right thing.
Bubby: I roll my eyes in your general direction, dearest sister.
Sissy: The problem Avry has is that she never knows who to trust. Everything that she has believed in all her years could be wrong. Does she go ahead and let herself have feelings for a man who participated in the decimation of her people?
Bubby: Yes, and is the Healer’s Guild really the wonderful altruistic organization she thought it was or are they actually responsible for the horrible plague?
Sissy: Avry has lost all of her family except for her sister from whom she is estranged. That is completely unimaginable in my world. I would rather have a toothpick stuck horizontally in my nostrils than be estranged from my dear, dear sister.
Bubby: Awww! That is so sweet! I’m glad that this is published so that I can show it to you next time you decided to disown me! I love you too. You are strange, to be sure, but we are anything but estranged. To be without loved ones is truly something I cannot even fathom. I need a piece of chocolate just thinking about how awful Avry’s situation is.
Sissy: THis book has lots of exciting mysteries to solve and skeewumpus relationships to sort through.
Bubby: Skeewumpus? Wow. (Already ordered her a thesaurus for Christmas, don’t worry).
Sissy: AND it’s all very engaging and well written as is usual for a book by Maria V. Snyder. Bubby is just jealous that I am a wordsmith.
Bubby: *snort*. Wordsmith. *SNORT*.
Sissy: Of the Wordsmith Guild. You were not chosen as a child like I was.
Bubby: This is why I don’t drink carbonated beverages around you anymore, Sissy. I have ruined one too many shirts with the Diet Cola spewing as a response to your, ahem, imaginative wanderings. I must get back to the book now and mention that I have great respect for our author. I have read several series by her and it’s fascinating how she can write equally well in a fantasy/medieval genre like this book as well as in sci-fi like her last series (Inside Out and Outside In). Her characterizations really make the stories come alive.
Sissy: “Her characterizations really make the stories come alive”?
Bubby: That’s what I said.
Sissy: Who are you? Scholastic Press? The Weekly Reviewer? Where is your imagination? Let’s hear something new!
Bubby: Alright. How about this? Snyder weaves a rich tapestry of magic and mystery as she draws us into the saga of Avry of Kazan. Avry is a delightful rendering of a young woman at a crossroads – torn between her duty and calling as a Healer and her love of a man who has wreaked atrocities against her countrymen. How’s that, Sissy?
Sissy: I swoon. I faint. I wipe my fevered brow with a cold compress at the complexity of your verbalizations.
Bubby: Ha! Who’s the wordsmith now, huh?
Sissy: So back to the story, go out immediately and read it. It’s really good. Oh, and we forgot to mention the Death and Peace Lilies. Even the flowers in this story have personality! I give it 4 1/2 bubbles.
Bubby: I can’t wait for the sequel. Maybe if I am really nice Sissy will buy it for me for Christmas. I give it 4 bubbles.
© Bubble Bath Books 2012