Books To Take You Away From It All

Tag Archives: Lisa Wingate

“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

© Bubble Bath Books 2014

34 year old Mallory Hale is happily working away at Capitol Hill, minding her own business, when Mr. Right appears out of nowhere. Before she can even blink, she has fallen desperately in love with Daniel Everson and his son Nick. When Daniel receives an unexpected job offer in Texas, he asks Mallory to marry him and come to Texas with him and Nick. She accepts and soon they are living a wild adventure in Moses Lake, Texas.

Bubby: This gem of a novel is a find from Sissy. We had run out of books to review recently so Sissy popped herself on over to the local library and grabbed us up a bunch of options – some better than others! This one was the clear winner of the bunch. I mean, we’ve got romance, adventure, mystery and a cast of quirky locals. What’s not to love?

Sissy: At first glance I thought this was going to be a regular sappy romance with the usual pattern of first love, then there’s a problem they have to resolve and then after much angst they get back together, blah blah blah. But that’s not how it goes AT ALL. It takes a left turn and off we go to Moses Lake, Texas and find ourselves smack dab into a mystery and a half! I also appreciated the small town quirky characters such as Pop Dorsey and Sheila who own the local grocery store/bait shop/restaurant  and the Docksiders, retired fishermen Burt and Nester. I love the Wall of Wisdom at Waterbird Bait and Grocery (as referenced above) where patrons can leave quotes, many of which are shared as chapter headings.

Bubby: Yes, let’s talk about that “left turn” into nowheresville. The first chapters are such a whirlwind – in a short 47 pages Mallory Hale goes from being a lonely 30-something congressional staffer in DC to a married, stay-at-home stepmother in Texas. I can’t decide if I applaud Lisa Wingate for just getting on with it all or if I want to smack her upside the head for not making this into two books. I could have done with a little more back story, a little more romance, a little more, period. At the same time, the meat of the story is in the goings-on in tiny Moses Lake, Texas and I can appreciate that the author fast-forwarding through the mushy and getting to the nitty-gritty.

Sissy: Yes and it speaks well of Lisa Wingate that we want more. This book is published by Bethany House, a Christian publisher. I dislike in-your-face Christian novels but really like more subtle, “this is how I live my life” sort of Christian novels.  Firefly Island falls into the latter category. I liked how our main character, Mallory, falls in love with little Nick. The way the author describes how Mallory feels about the lovable little boy traits –  “a knobby-kneed little body, a case of bedhead under my chin, feel the soft, downy hairs tickle my neck, hear the first snuffly breaths of morning”, took me back to when my own boys were little. I wanted to have them snuggled up to me again and kiss their sweet little chubby cheeks.

Bubby: Me too! Unfortunately, our boys are no longer little, chubby or naturally sweet-smelling and I certainly DON’T want to smell their first morning snuffly breaths! They are still nice to hug and snuggle, though. Back to the book! The plot is nicely interwoven between the issues dealing with the poverty-stricken folk who live up in the hills, the mystery surrounding Jack West, Daniel’s new billionaire boss, and Mallory’s struggles to adjust to motherhood and small town life. I’ve never lived in a huge city (although I have lived close to a few) and I think adjusting to city life would be extremely difficult for this small town girl. I can imagine that for Mallory, the adjustment is just as difficult. Throw in a very new husband who she really doesn’t know all that well, a new son, a really crappy little house in the middle of nowhere and I am amazed at how well she keeps it together!

Sissy: ‘Nuff said. This is a solidly good book, one in a series of books set in Moses Lake, Texas (which I shall have to read more of). I give it 3.75 bubbles.

Bubby: 3.5 bubbles from me too!

Click HERE to buy Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate at

© Bubble Bath Books 2013