Saturday, September 20, 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  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lone Star heiress

Title:  Lone Star Heiress (Texas Grooms #4)
Author:  Winnie Griggs
Pages:  277
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Love Inspired
In this fourth book in the series, the fourth groom, Mitch Parker, has his story told.  The story is still set in Turnabout, Texas, with Mitch having lived there about two years now.  Mitch has no intention of ever remarrying after the tragic death of his wife and unborn child.  He keeps people at a distance and prefers to spend his free time alone, sketching or reading.  He leads a quiet life and likes it that way.  He has kept God at a distance since the tragedy, and he has allowed guilt over his own actions for instigating the attack on him and his family to guide his relationships.
Ivy Feagan is on her way to Turnabout to claim a heretofore unknown inheritance.  She travels alone dressed like a boy.  She injures herself and Mitch happens to be close by to take care of her.  Ivy is a talkative sort and very open about her relationship with God.  As the two spend more time together, Ivy realizes she loves Mitch, but that he has vowed to never remarry so he mustn’t love her.  She decides that once the struggle over her inheritance is settled, she will return to Nettles Gap and continue to lead her lonely, quiet life.  After all, there is nothing keeping her from leaving Turnabout is there?  She makes friends quickly with the other members introduced in the other three Texas Grooms books and really doesn’t want to leave Turnabout, but Mitch doesn’t want her as a wife and her Nana Dovie is back in Nettles Gap and won’t leave there.  She has promised herself she will only marry for love, so where is God leading her?
I didn’t enjoy this book in the series nearly as much as the others.  I just couldn’t come to care what happened between these two very much.  While I liked their playful banter and Ivy’s reliance on God, I think both characters fell flat in the story.  This is the last book involving the four original men that began the series with Handpicked Husband.  The series will be continuing with some of the minor characters mentioned in other books, getting their stories told.  Hopefully, the series can get back on track from this mediocre offering.
My rating is 3 stars.

Note:  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Safe Haven

Title:  Safe Haven (The Peacemakers #3)
Author:  Anna Schmidt
Pages:  320
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Barbour
Safe Haven has been the most enjoyable of all three stories in the Peacemakers Series, which also features All God’s Children as the first installment followed by Simple Faith.  While the others shared more of the Quaker faith during WW II in Germany mainly, this novel shows what FDR initiated before his death.  Fort Ontario held people who crossed the ocean from other nations that were ravaged by the war, with a limit of 1,000 people.  When the people landed, they had to sign an agreement that once the war was ended they would return to their respective places of residences overseas.
Suzanne is journalist who had hit rock bottom in her career, but now was being offered a window back into the field of journalism if she would go to the fort and write stories about the people living there till the war ended.  Theo is a character who is still trying to find out what place he is to fill while on this earth.  The only truth he comes to realize is his love for Suzanne.
Most of the novel’s focus is of the refugees’ daily lives and how the kindness of others impacts them.  After months of hoping the government would give them the choice to stay, there seemed to be a never ending postponement of the decision by various politicians.  A couple of the characters readers meet in the earlier books are attempting to locate family members they were separated from by Hitler’s men or trying to escape before being killed.
In this final book, not so much of the Quaker belief system is prominent.  The focus is more on the refugees, people waiting for family members to return from the war and a budding romance between Suzanne and Theo.  There is also a side story of why Suzanne struggled with her Quaker faith and had abandoned it for so long.
What I found most captivating was learning about the Fort Ontario Emergency Relief Shelter as well as those who gathered this past summer for the 70th reunion.  While we know some of those people have been gone awhile, I can imagine the children (now adults) and their children among many who gathered to celebrate and remember.  Amazing how fictional novels can tell us historical facts wrapped in made up stories, reminding us of the vast experiences many had during WW II.  Above all are the treasured friendships that developed while living together amongst people from many cultures, beliefs and languages.  May we be such a nation to remember and follow in the steps of those who have come before us for the sake of those who come after we are gone.
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead

Title:  The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead (A Professor and Mrs. Middleton Mystery #1)
Author:  Diane Noble
Pages:  400
Year:  2014
Publisher:  David C. Cook
Oh, this book is fun to read!  Mrs. Elaine Littlefield or El is a mother, grandmother, caterer and sometime PI.  She wears sock monkey pajamas, dances country dances to classical music while baking cookies and drives bad enough to give her passengers white knuckles.  She has just landed the catering event of her career and its success will either make or break her catering company, The Butler Did It.  Her best friend since first grade, Hyacinth, helps her out part-time when she isn’t working her job at the local university’s library.  Hyacinth is the sister she never had and their friendship is very dear to El.
 Therefore, when it is discovered that Hyacinth is missing, El just knows she has been kidnapped.  El is also dealing with a catastrophe of giant proportions concerning her once in a lifetime catering job.  This job is for the retirement of Professor Maxwell Haverhill, a 60-year-old, renowned, treasure hunter of old artifacts in addition to teaching social studies at the local university.  Max and El quickly become entangled in the investigation of her catering problems as well as involved in their own search for Hyacinth.  Along the way, they fall in love with one another much to their mutual surprise.
At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this novel, but I stuck with it and am so glad I did!  I adored the romance between El and Max.  It couldn’t have been written better in my opinion.  El’s strong devotion to her daughter and granddaughter was great to read about as well as her never-give-up attitude.  Hyacinth was a hoot!  I just loved the part where she was singing to annoy her kidnappers!  All three main characters had a deep devotion to God and depended on Him no matter what, even when it was really difficult to see Him at work.  I sure hope there are more mysteries to come in this new humorous and romantic mystery series.  Great job Diane!
My rating is 5 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  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at