“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