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
Tasmin and William have been betrothed since birth even though they are from opposite sides of the kingdom. When William is unjustly accused of murder Tasmin drops everything and rushes to his side to help clear his name. She settles into the apartment William has prepared for them above his chocolate shop and begins to investigate. She soon finds herself facing more than she’d bargained for – suspicious townspeople, William’s dysfunctional family and a complex web of deceit surrounding the murder. Tasmin and William must work together to solve the mystery and find the real killer – before he strikes again.
Sissy: I relate to Tasmin, because she is a Hag. And I mean that in the best possible way. In the world where Tasmin lives a Hag is magical and beautiful.
Bubby: *Snort*. Sorry. Please continue, dearest Haggy Sissy.
Sissy: When she is promised to William, his family is upset because they believe in a more traditional definition of Hags. Kind of like when I married a boy from Utah and my dad told me that Utahns eat their young.
Bubby: Which is why I married a boy from Washington. No young ‘uns being eaten there! Yes, William’s family thinks that everyone from the North must be evil and deceitful and dangerous. Tasmin’s family thinks that those from the South, like William, are all uncultured savages. Of course they are both wrong. And it doesn’t matter anyway. Tasmin and William fall in love through letters written over Tasmin’s lifetime. They care only for each other, not the opinions of their families.
Sissy: In The Chocolatier’s Wife, Cindy Lynn Speer uses the wonderful literary device of letter writing between the two main characters to give us background, build their relationship and clarify the present story. She does a fantastic job and this was one of the things that drew me into the story. I read an Amazon.com review of this book where one reader said the writing was “painful”. I was completely discombobulated by that remark–that reviewer obviously had too much lead in their water pipes, if you know what I mean.
Bubby: It is very well written. No complaints about that from me. I loved the many twists and turns in the plot – you don’t actually find out who the murderer is or why the murder was committed until the very end of the book. It’s quite shocking, really. I never would have guessed. The romance between William and Tasmin is so sweet – they interact as if they’d been married already for 10 years and are totally dedicated to one another. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I also enjoyed hating William’s mother and sister-in-law. Talk about hags! (And not in a good way).
Sissy: Yes, there is plenty of intrigue in this book. While I usually can guess who the murderer is early on (because I am like that Mentalist guy on TV), this time I was taken by surprise. If I dangled the tag words “chocolate”, “magic”, “pirates” and “romance” in front of a group of mixed age women, who would come forward to devour this book? I would say all of them between 13 and 104.
Bubby: So it’s a little young for you, is that what you’re saying? Ha!
Sissy: Yeah, I’m the sexiest 105 year-old you’ve ever seen!
Bubby: Not too high of a bar there. Anyway, now that you’ve written our tags for this post, let me sum up by saying that The Chocolatier’s Wife was a good read. It was a bit slow for me in bits and I wavered between hating William’s family and wanting to slap some sense into them, especially his brother. I have no use for weak-willed lily-livered girly men. Grow a spine already! Overall, though, enjoyable. 3 1/2 bubbles.
Sissy: If I didn’t know you I’d think you had the personality of a cabbage! It only seemed slow in bits to you because you’re always trying to set the speed reading record. It’s part of your insecurity. I, on the other hand, am able to savor every word like a bit of fine chocolate. Someday I will coach you in this skill. The Chocolatier’s Wife is a scrumptious bite and I give it 4 bubbles.
© Bubble Bath Books 2012
Harlow Jane Cassidy thinks she is happy as a fashion designer in New York City. But when her great-grandmother passes away, she leaves her turn-of-the-century farmhouse to Harlow. Harlow decides to move back to Bliss, Texas and open up a dressmaking boutique called “Buttons and Bows” in her grandmother’s house. Her first customer is her old friend Josie who orders a custom wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses for her upcoming wedding. Everyone is thrilled until Josie’s boss and maid-of-honor turns up dead in Harlow’s flowerbed. To complicate matters, Harlow’s family has always secretly had a touch of “magic” and people are starting to ask questions. Add to this an intriguing handyman and the fact that Great-Grandma’s spirit may not have actually left the building and you get one enchanting book.
Sissy: First of all, I wish my name was Harlow Jane Cassidy and that I had a magical gift.
Bubby: You DO have a magical gift! You sing like a choir of angels!
Sissy: I knew there was a reason I kept you around, Bubby. I also love Texan accents, beautiful clothing and goats. Maybe not so much on the goats. But this is a good new series, a good new heroine, and they don’t say curse words or have tempestuous sexual encounters.
Bubby: Note to self – in the future, blogging must occur BEFORE 7 p.m. or else Sissy’s brain has already gone to sleep. “I love goats?” Really? Let me explain: all the women in the Cassidy family have a magical gift. There is a family legend about how these gifts were acquired, but I’ll let the reader find that out. Harlow’s grandma’s gift is, well, for lack of a better term, goat whispering. Yep. Bet you wish you were a goat whisperer too, right Sissy?
Sissy: Actually I would be completely devastated if that were my gift. Goat meat. Have you ever tasted goat? It’s nasty. Same with goat cheese.
Bubby: I don’t know, a little chevre on a rye cracker with a touch of-
Sissy: I wasn’t finished. (Chevre? When Bubby says this word she pronounces it “Shev-ruh gut rumble”. She should just call it what it is – goat schmutz.) Anyway, all the women in this book are quirky, funny and strong, even if the woman if a ghost. I am a huge proponent of books with strong female characters.
Bubby: I think you may have mentioned that before, but I do agree. Strong women rule! This story had all my favorite elements. It had fashion, (not that I personally have any fashion sense but I like to pretend) diamonds, romance, magic and mystery. Fabulous. Just right for a Halloween read.
Sissy: Yes, perhaps I am repeating myself, but at this time of night I am half-blind and a quarter deaf.
Bubby: Oh, so many opportunities in that statement, Sissy. I will refrain from asking how that is any different than usual and just mention to our readers that it is all of 8:39 p.m. Wow. Bring out the curfew police!
Sissy: You have no respect for my advanced age and frailty. I appreciated how Ms. Bourbon wrote characters who connected so well with one another and how she gives us a glimpse of Harlow’s evolution from city girl back to country girl.
Bubby: I agree. I think my favorite character was Great-Grandma, even though she never says a word and is dead before the book starts. She communicates with Harlow through the house – a banging pipe here, a falling shelf there and is just as feisty in death as we are told she was when alive. I also enjoyed the storyline about the Cassidy’s lineage – I hope that more is revealed in future books.
Sissy: Yes. The author hints at family mysteries and treasure to be revealed at some future date. My favorite character was Grandma Coleta because she is old and crusty and I liked the goat named Thelma Louise.
Bubby: I can sense it! You DO want to be a goat whisperer! Just because your cat abandoned you for a pampered indoor life with the neighbors doesn’t mean you should turn to a life of goat herding. I was initially concerned that there was no romance in this story but it starts creeping in about half-way through and I really enjoyed the interplay between Harlow and “the man”. Don’t want to reveal too much, now. I think this is a great read. I rate Pleating for Mercy a solid 4 bubbles.
Sissy: This has nothing to do with Lucy the traitor cat. At least I don’t spend my days trying to make snooty foods like shev-ruh-(guhguh) – whatever. I will be reading the next books in this series for sure. (Book two is A Fitting End and #3 is Deadly Patterns.) The rating from me is 3.5 bubbles.
© Bubble Bath Books 2012
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch, the daughter of a non-gifted mother and a warlock. When she casts a spell at her high school prom and it goes horribly wrong , her father decides she will be punished by being exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. It just goes downhill from there for Sophie. By the end of her first day at Hex Hall she has made three powerful enemies, developed a crush on a hot warlock named Archer, and been assigned to a roommate who just happens to be the only vampire in the whole school. Just when Sophie thinks it can’t possibly get worse, she learns that someone, or something, has been attacking students and her new roommate is believed to be the culprit. As Sophie delves deeper into the mystery she uncovers the deadliest secret of all: an ancient society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Sissy: I had a love/hate relationship with this book and the subsequent two books in the series. It was one of those things where I HAD to know what happened and therefore had to buy the sequels but at times getting to the resolution made me feel fidgety and teeth-grindy.
Bubby: Pretty sure I bought all three of these and shared, but that’s not the point.
Sissy: Whatever. You know what I mean. I liked this author’s magical spin on diversity, and I liked the various twists and turns that kept things fairly interesting. The descriptions of Hex Hall and its matron were vivid and gave me anxiety, but in a good way. Plus there were some new and creepy paranormal beings introduced that could give me nightmares if I were an overly emotional person like Bubby.
Bubby: Not even going to respond to that attack on my character. (I am tender hearted, that’s all!) I did think that there was an overdose of teenage angst. I tend to lose patience quickly with kick butt girl characters who agonize over whether or not the hunky boy really likes them. On the other hand, I probably would have reacted the same way that Sophie did had I been in her situation. Cute boys still make me swoon!
Sissy: The teenage angst helps with the character development and story line, but sometimes I just want to tell the characters to shut up and own their “ness.” I was conflicted about Archer and the mysterious Groundskeeper boy. I couldn’t decide which one I thought Sophie should love, or who looked more like Zac Efron and who looked more like Chris Hemsworth in my mind.
Bubby: Own their own “ness”? I think I need to buy you a dictionary for Christmas. You keep making up words! Yes, there was too much emphasis on teenage romance issues. But I liked both boys too and overall it was a great book and a great series. It kept me interested all the way through and I can’t wait to read more by this author.
Sissy: I did like them. I did read them. I do recommend them. But, if there was a new episode of “Downton Abbey”, I would have watched that instead.
Click HERE to buy Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
© Bubble Bath Books 2012