Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Table by the Window

Title:  A Table by the Window
Author:  Hilary Manton Lodge
Pages:  320
Year:  2014
Publisher:  WaterBrook Press
Juliette D’Alisa is a food writer for the local newspaper.  Her entire life has been steeped in food, cooking, restaurants and recipes.  Her parents own a restaurant and are of Italian and French cultures.  Her brother now wants Juliette’s help in opening a restaurant.  While going through her French grandmother’s things after her death, Juliette finds an old photograph, which leads her to begin asking questions.  What potential secrets will she uncover?
She enters the world of online dating as well and meets Neil, an immunologist living in Tennessee.  The dialogue between the two was engaging and entertaining.  As the story progresses, Juliette thinks she must make a choice between her career and her heart.  Will the past help her in her decision?
I’m not sure why this book has been marketed as a Christian book because there was very little reference to God, faith or anyone’s growing relationship with Him.  Divorce is mentioned almost in an off-hand or casual manner, which I don’t agree with.  The book had a slow start, and I didn’t like the main focus being on the food, cooking and restaurants.  I’m not interested in cooking, and some of the recipes given are far beyond my capabilities.  This made it difficult for me to connect with Juliette.  I was hoping the main emphasis would be on the mysterious photograph, providing readers with more of a mystery than a cooking lesson.  I love a good mystery!  I don’t travel in the society depicted so I couldn’t relate to that aspect.  I did actually enjoy the use of the French language as I was able to read that and for me that was one thing I enjoyed.  I also liked the budding romance between Juliette and Neil.  This is the first book in a trilogy, but I probably won’t read the other books due to the emphasis on cooking and lack of faith-driven themes.
My rating is 3 stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Tempest Course


Title:  Tempest’s Course (Quilts of Love Series)
Author:  Lynette Sowell
Pages:  207
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
Kelly Frost is trying to regroup after making the disastrous decision to enter into a relationship with Peyton Greaves at the Boston Fine Arts Museum.  She works as a textile restorer, bringing back to life old textiles using the original design and vintage materials if possible.  Her relationship with Peyton is over, but at a high cost.  It damaged her reputation on a personal as well as professional note.  She knows God has forgiven her, but still feels ashamed of what she has done.  She has arrived at Gray House to repair an old quilt for an unknown benefactor.  She needs the money and hopes once the job is done it will generate more business for her.  She meets the groundskeeper, Tom Pereira, who has been instructed by his boss to keep an eye on Kelly due to certain character issues.
Tom Pereira is an ex-soldier who has been discharged from the military due to a head injury.  He still suffers occasionally from seizures, but is able to work when he can find a job.  His father wants him to go to college, but Tom’s dyslexia and being 10 years older than the other students keeps him out of the classroom.  He also discovers some of his family’s interesting lineage from a client interested in genealogy.  He has found that he actually enjoys taking care of the grounds at Gray House and likes the new textile restorer.  He asks her out, and they being to enjoy each other’s company.
I thought this was an average story.  There were some details left out that made the story not flow very well in some places.  I didn’t feel any tension or angst to build up to a high note in the story.  I did like Tom and Kelly’s faith and its prominent part in their lives.  The story is an easy read and while not as enjoyable as some of the other books in this series, wouldn’t be a waste of time to take in.
My rating is 3 stars.

Note:  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Monday, September 15, 2014

Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

Title:  Love’s Fortune (The Ballantyne Legacy #3)
Author:  Laura Frantz
Pages:  400
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Revell
What a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful trilogy!  All the members of the Ballantyne family and their spouses or relations make an appearance in this final chapter of their lives.  The story is set mostly in Pittsburgh in 1850-1851.
Wren Ballantyne is 24 years old and lives in the Kentucky woods with her father, who makes a living creating wooden instruments like violins and dulcimers.  She doesn’t wear shoes all spring or summer, doesn’t care how her clothes or hair look and is content with her life, with the exception of the death of her mother a couple of years ago.  She misses her something fierce and knows her father, Ansel, still grieves for her.  Ansel receives a letter asking him to return to Pittsburgh.  Wren accompanies him for the visit, but soon learns this trip might only be one way.
Wren is thrust into society to have a season so she can do her duty to the family and snag a rich husband.  She is forced to endure weeks of etiquette lessons, dress fittings and dancing lessons.  She is told she must modulate her speech or she will be deemed unrefined.  Her only escape is when she gets to play her violin.  Then, she can temporarily forget her misery and soar with the music.  Wren longs for home, but her father is away on family business so she is stuck in a new lifestyle that stifles her.  Her escort for all social events will be the handsome James Sackett, a close family friend and employee of the Ballantyne family riverboat shipping business.  She wants to please her family, but at what cost?  James is an orphan with no famous name or wealth to make him a candidate for her hand, but he is the one she wants.  Dare she oppose her family?  Will she ever be able to go home?
I didn’t like how Ansel treated Wren regarding their future, not giving her any say or knowledge in how they were going to live their lives.  He then dumps her on his family, leaving her to learn an entire new way of life all on her own.  I did enjoy so much renewing my acquaintance with Silas and Eden, Ellie and Jack and even Elspeth.  I loved Wren’s character, trying so hard to please everyone and gain their approval.  She kept her faith in God through it all.  I loved the ending with the Ballantyne story ending right in the place where it all started.  I’m looking forward to what this talented author will write next.
My rating is 4 stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Bitter Truth


Title:  A Bitter Truth (A Bess Crawford Mystery #3)
Author:  Charles Todd
Pages:  340
Year:  2011
Publisher:  William Morrow
Bess Crawford arrives home on Christmas leave from the Front to find a woman sitting out in the cold on the doorstep to her apartment.  The woman has obviously been struck by someone and lets out that she is running from her husband.  She knows no one in London and has no money.  Bess invites her in to warm up and have some tea.  Bess soon finds herself involved in another mystery.  She agrees to accompany the woman back to her country home, but only for a couple of days.  Well, that turns out to be several days, a murder and a missing man later.
Bess receives her orders to return to duty shortly after Christmas with the murder unsolved.  She, however, has another mission of searching for an orphaned girl when she has free time from her nursing schedule.  After a few weeks, she is summoned back to England for the inquest of the murdered victim.  When she arrives, another murder victim or two is discovered.  Bess is stymied as to whom is committing these murders and why.  Is it someone in the family she is staying with or is it maybe the homeless beggar in town?
While this had the great tension leading up to the reveal of the murderer at the end of the story, I disliked a few of the characters so much that it detracted from some of my enjoyment of the book.  I thought the characters of Lydia, Roger and Gran were all so selfish, mean, petty and sometimes cruel that I didn’t let myself weave them into my emotions, which I do to fully enjoy a story.  The mystery aspect of the story was the usual great Charles Todd caliber with plenty of information to lead readers astray or put them in the picture as to the killer.  The subjects of infidelity, deception, lying and multiple murders are featured in this third Bess Crawford mystery.  This story will entertain for sure and I’m looking forward to the fourth story as Bess Crawford progresses through WWI in service as a nurse.
My rating is 4 stars.

Note:  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457