“The best times of my life, the times that have passed by me the most quickly, were the times when the roses grew wild.”
The lessons that most enrich our lives often come unexpectedly. That’s what Kate Bowman learns when she moves temporarily—with her husband and baby son—to her grandmother’s Missouri farm. The family has given Kate the job of convincing Grandma Rose, who’s become increasingly stubborn and forgetful, to move off her beloved land and into a nursing home. But Kate knows such a change would break her grandmother’s heart.
Just when Kate despairs of finding answers, she discovers her grandma’s journal. A beautiful handmade notebook, it is full of stories that celebrate the importance of family, friendship, and faith. Stories that make Kate see her life—and her grandmother—in a completely new way….
Sissy: In the absence of Bubby this week I am doing something new in conjunction with something old, just to shake things up and see if I can get myself in trouble (when the cat’s away…). The NEW thing is that we are going to revisit some of our favorite reviewed authors of the past and see what else they have up their sleeves, whether new or old. The OLD thing is Friday Favorites, which Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate qualifies for since it was published in 2001. Get it? (I’m also putting all my text in green, just because Bubby’s not here to stop me!).
We first reviewed Firefly Island by this author in April of last year, and later found out that she has written many award winning books and series’. I decided to introduce you to Wingate’s very first book, Tending Roses, which is also the first book in a series of 5. Here are Lisa Wingate’s own words about the genesis of Tending Roses:
“My grandmother came to stay with me when the baby was small, and together we decided to plant flowerbeds in front of my house. One day, when the baby was fussy, we had to go inside rather than finishing the flowerbed. Grandma bundled the baby and sat down in the chair with him, and soon he was quietly drifting off to sleep. As the afternoon sun streamed in the window, Grandma leaned back, closed her eyes, and began telling me the story of her life, and her flowerbeds, and the lessons she learned there. That story, “Time for Tending Roses,” eventually became the inspiration for my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, which was published by New American Library (Penguin Putnam) in June, 2001. Of all of the books, Tending Roses remains my sentimental favorite, because of the real-life connection with my grandmother.”
Now, I’ve got to tell you, I felt like the lessons Kate (the main character) learns through her grandmother’s story journal were universal, having application for me and for everyone. I just wish I could have perfect recall of them at the exact moment I needed them (and was about to do or say something stupid…). This story is so real, so human, so emotional–it makes complete sense that it was inspired by the author’s own feelings and experiences. Tending roses is a complex and heartwarming tale of family relationships, love, and plain old human life, and is well worth the read. I give it 4.25 bubbles, and I definitely plan to read the rest of the series!
Click HERE to buy Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2014
After having been missing for two years, Abigail Sutton’s beloved husband is found dead, having fallen prey to a carjacking. Abigail has suffered so much that she see’s no other alternative but to hit the road in search of a new life. In the small town of Spookie she finds and buys a fixer-upper house that has been empty since the death of its previous owner, Edna Summers. For the first time in a long while Abigail begins to feel peace and make new friends. However, the old house she has chosen seems to have chosen her to solve its thirty year old mysteries. As the evidence unfolds, Abigail has to decide what is more important to her: keeping safe, or laying to rest the unhappy ghosts of the past.
Bubby: This was a creepy little story! I guess I should have seen that coming, seeing as how it’s set in a town named “Spookie.” I really feel bad for the heroine of this story, Abigail. Can you even imagine? Her husband goes out on an errand one day and never comes home. And it takes two years for him to be found and give her closure. And then, as if she hasn’t had enough, she moves into a house with a mystery attached – and that mystery turns out to be a tragedy.
Sissy: I can’t imagine going through what Abigail did. And then going to this new old house and finding scraps of paper left by two missing children would just cap it all for me. I’d probably just go check myself into the nearest loony bin. But not her! She is much braver than I and does her best to see justice done.
Bubby: I had a hard time reading the parts of the book that described the little notes left by the children. They were mistreated to such an awful extent. I have no sympathy or mercy in my soul for those who abuse children. I hope that God has a lovely little corner of hell set aside just for them. And a lovely little corner of heaven set aside for the children.
Sissy: This is a bit of a dark mystery but it also has a light romance and the small-town friendliness of a cozy mystery, which balances out the darker bits. This is the first book that I’ve read by Kathryn Meyer Griffith and in looking at her other titles, this may be the LEAST dark of her stories. Some of them look pretty scary.
Bubby: I am so going to read Don’t Look Back, Agnes – just because I love the title. And because I want to sit on my couch yelling “NO! Agnes! Don’t do it, Agnes!” just to irritate my children.
Sissy: Me too. Her latest book is a vampire story (Human No Longer) that has the tagline “sometimes a mother’s love is stronger than blood”.
Bubby: My love for my children is stronger than blood. Chocolate, maybe not. But definitely stronger than blood.
Sissy: Yes, well, I was going to say (about that title and tagline) how shuddersome is that?! But then I remembered my own plotline for the zombie novel I’m going to write and it sounds eerily familiar. Kathryn Meyer Griffith and I should chat.
Bubby: Sure. Drop her an email. I’m sure you’ll be having lunch together and swapping story ideas right away!
Sissy: So, back to our present story. You end up suspecting everyone, even the people you desperately don’t want to be guilty and the ending is completely satisfying. This is a good little mystery, probably best read on a dark and stormy day, but good enough for anytime really.
Bubby: My only issue with the ending is that the series continues. I would have loved for this to be a stand-alone novel. It was all wrapped up so nicely that I don’t really feel the need for any more books but maybe I should read the next one (All Things Slip Away) before I make a judgement. On a side note, the author tells the story of this book’s publishing history on her Amazon.com page. Really interesting .
Sissy: This book was originally published in 2003 and after going through a lot of crap from the original publisher, it is finally available for a great price as a self-published ebook at Amazon.com. Well worth a read. I give it 4 bubbles.
Bubby: A nice introduction to the work of Kathryn Meyer Griffiths. 3 3/4 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to purchase Scraps of Paper by Kathryn Meyer Griffith at Amazon.com
Christmas was once the best time of the year for Joy Candellaro. But as the holiday draws near this year, she can’t find it in her heart to celebrate. Recently divorced and betrayed by her sister, she feels totally alone. She decides to just disappear for a while, to a remote destination in the Pacific Northwest. But life has a way of changing one’s plans. Soon Joy will begin an adventure no one could have forseen – one that could change her life forever. once loved Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she is at a crossroads in her life; recently divorced and alone, she can’t summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. When an unexpected detour takes her deep into the woods of the Olympic rainforest, Joy makes a bold decision to leave her ordinary life behind—to just walk away—and thus begins an adventure unlike any she could have imagined.
Bubby: Sometimes I read a book that just hits me right in the heart and it becomes an instant favorite – one I go back to and re-read often and one that I recommend often. This is one of those books for me. I just love love love it. It’s a magical story and it ends good and it just makes me happy.
Sissy: I re-read this at Bubby’s behest because I couldn’t remember if I had read it or not. As you can tell by the word “reread,” turns out I had read it and liked it some time ago. The writing by Kristin Hannah is excellent, and this is underscored by the major plot twist that comes up mid-book of which I shall say nothing further. Lovely, lovely love story, emotional tale of sadness and joy. As the garage door repairman said today after telling me about how this week so far his truck has broken down, he broke his finger, and his tools all got stolen “without the bad things we wouldn’t appreciate the good things.”
Bubby: Yes, I could not agree more. Joy Candellaro is in desperate need of some comfort and joy in her life. She has to be – why else would she be desperate enough to hop on a chartered plane with a bunch of bearded hunters bound for the north of nowhere?
Sissy: What happens in her personal life is horrible, and I think I would be tempted to do the exact same thing. Actually, I probably would have reacted with more violence and mayhem and THEN hopped a plane to nowhere. I sincerely hope I would be as forgiving as Joy if I was in such a situation. I can’t imagine it, though. I can only picture bloodshed…
Bubby: Well, as much as I love and adore your dear husband, I really don’t think you have to worry about us running off together. Icky. I’m not worried about you stealing my husband either – if only for the fact that he’s 3 feet taller than you and 20 years younger. Bad match there! Yes, readers, Joy’s sister and Joy’s husband have hooked up and left Joy in the dust. And oh yeah – the sister is pregnant. And did I mention that Joy has no children and would love to be a mom? I agree that getting on a plane is the best of the options!
Sissy: Let’s clear some things up here. A. I am NOT 20 years older than Bubby’s husband, nor am I three feet shorter. B. I have spent the last 26 years training my husband to be just perfect and I’m certainly not going to start over on some interloper. And now that Bubby has told you the beginning of the story, you can see why I might become violent in that same situation. But the story just gets better from there. Joy goes on to a whole different adventure, delves into the paranormal, and comes out in one piece at the end.
Bubby: The best part of Comfort and Joy is the sweet relationship that develops between Joy and little Bobby, the boy she meets after the plane trip. They just bond instantly – it’s like they can instantly fill the holes in each other’s hearts. It makes me remember when my boy was little and sweet. Ah, those were the days! But there is a problem – Bobby’s father Daniel is not as fond of Joy as Bobby is.
Sissy: Bobby is adorable, but in his grief over losing his mother he suffers from some delusions. But are they really delusions, I ask you? And Daniel is described as a very fine looking Irishman (I’m thinking Gerard Butler in that role), who Joy finds herself very attracted to. I admit I was nervous about Bobby getting so attached to Joy so fast, because I didn’t want him to suffer again if and when she left. Now you are thinking you know how the rest of the story goes, but you are WRONG! Just when you think you have it figured out, Kristin Hannah pulls a fast one out of left field and you don’t know what hit you. Good stuff.
Bubby: Hey! I was going to say that!
Sissy: Great minds…-
Bubby: Exactly. I have read this book on the couch by the tree at Christmas, on the beach in Hawaii and of course, in my bathtub and it never fails to make me smile. Pure magic. 4.25 bubbles.
Sissy: I read it in my massage chair…I think this is a first class getaway read. 4 bubbles from the violent one.
Click HERE to buy Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013
Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is a painting titled “The Shell Seekers”, painted by her father. Penelope has recently had a heart attack which has prompted her to take inventory of the many experiences she’s had in her richly unconventional life. As her father’s works have become popular and are now worth a fortune, Penelope’s children each have an idea as to what should be done with the beloved painting, none of which Penelope likes. As she reminisces she realizes the perfect solution – one that would have thrilled her father and one that warms her own heart.
Sissy: The vague memory in my head was that I loved all of Rosamund Pilcher’s books, so I decided to review The Shell Seekers, which was one of her best sellers. While I still think the book is very good, in re-reading it I found that some of the characters live a rather more morally Bohemian lifestyle than I had remembered. Nothing spelled out or explicit–just mentioned as part of the story. That having been said, Pilcher doesn’t shy away from the consequences of such a lifestyle–which include unplanned pregnancies, loveless marriages, and some lost chances for true love.
Bubby: La la la la gardening, la la la la sandy beaches, la la la sunshine breaking through clouds, la la la art and romance, la la la . . .
Sissy: What are you doing, you crazy person?
Bubby: La la . . . what? Oh! Sorry. I was immersed in my lovely little kitchen garden in the back of my tiny stone cottage in Cornwall. You know, in my dreams! I think we should add Cornwall to
the list of places we absolutely must visit before you are too old to journey, Sissy.
Sissy: Well I’m so glad you haven’t been sipping the crazy sauce and are just doing your usual “Dame Bubby” dream world weirdness. I am having a significant birthday soon, so feel free to send us to Cornwall post-haste! However, I would be glad to not be there during World War II, as some of this book is. No bombs or rationing, please darling.
Bubby: As much as I would love to whisk you away for your significant birthday (70 is the new 30, darling!) I am afraid all my money is currently going to pay the plumber who is at this moment filling my home with strange fumes and has turned off all my water. So if I get a little loopy today, it’s the plumber’s fault, ok? I am always shocked when I read WWII era books at the deprivations ordinary people had to suffer through. No gasoline, no sugar, no chocolate!!, no new clothes, make it all yourself or go without. I feel quite spoiled. The Shell Seekers moves seamlessly from the WWII era to modern-day (about 1984 or so).
Sissy: Okay, so our main character Penelope is minding her own business and living her life in Cornwall, when she suffers a heart attack. This is the beginning of her life story. And p.s., in the far-flung future when I turn 70, I will be the sexiest 70 yr old you’ve ever seen! Any hoodle, Penelope’s 3 children appear and we get to know all about them and their lives. Two of them are completely selfish and bratty, and the other is at least a functional and compassionate adult. Each chapter is named after a character in the book, and the reader gets to travel back and forth through time and enjoy the ins and outs of the family saga. There is a lovely little art mystery woven in there as well.
Bubby: While I was reading this earlier in the week, one of my teenagers was giving me grief and I was getting rather annoyed. And then I read more about Noel and Nancy and Olivia, Penelope’s children, and suddenly my kid didn’t seem so bad!
Sissy: No, your kids are not greedy, backstabbing monsters who think they are entitled to everything and want to do nothing to earn it.
Bubby: Thank you, Sissy! I was appalled at the behavior of the so-called adults in this tale. At least Olivia had some sense and feeling and it was obvious that she was her mother’s favorite. My favorite characters, at least two of them, were Antonia and Danus. They were so sweet to Penelope and so in love and deserved all the good things that happened to them!
Sissy: A sweeping saga of family, love, and history, The Shell Seekers is good for an afternoon or two of getaway-ing. I give it 3.75 bubbles. And now I want to watch the movie!
Bubby: And it’s been made into not one, but two movies! One in 1989 starring Angela Lansbury as Penelope and one in 2006 starring Vanessa Redgrave, both of which were well rated (but 2006 sounds better). I can see a movie and popcorn night in mine and Sissy’s future! 3.5 bubbles.