Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter

Rating: 4.5 stars

Based on appearances, celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has it all.  She has a successful career, and she is about to marry her fiancĂ©e, Bryan, on the beautiful island of Nantucket.  Hours before her highly publicized marriage ceremony and upcoming book release, her well-planned future comes to a shocking halt.

Without Bryan, Kate is faced with the the embarrassment of admitting that she has been left at the altar or secretly entering into a marriage of convenience with Lucas Wright, her landlord. Taking what appears to be the easiest route at the moment,  Kate makes the spontaneous decision to marry Luke; and both Kate and Luke have a lot to learn about themselves, each other, and the consequences of their deceit. 

While I have read quite a few marriage of convenience stories that have been set in the past, The Convenient Groom is the first modern day story that I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The Convenient Groom takes it readers on an emotional, and often humorous, roller coaster ride as Kate mourns the loss of her future with Bryan, while establishing her life with Luke.  Since Kate has a type-A personality and feels that Luke is her polar opposite, the scene is set for tension and humorous situations.   Regardless of when the story takes place, a novel that is centered around a marriage of convenience is one of my favorite.  In order for the scenario to work and pull me into its pages, it must be well-written.  Denise Hunter successfully crafted a story that kept me turning the pages as Kate meets her in-laws and goes around town acting like a happy newlywed.  But, there is often a fine line between pretending and reality.  It is enjoyable to see the plot unfold as Kate, the marriage counselor, works through her own relationship. 

I highly recommend The Convenient Groom, and I am looking forward to reading the other three books in Denise Hunter's Nantucket Love Story series (Surrender Bay, Seaside Letters, and Driftwood Lane.)

I  received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. 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.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Band Perry: A Promising Addition to Country Music

A few weeks ago, we purchased The Band Perry's debut CD, and we have found the songs addictive.  While driving to a from work we have each listened to the CD multiple times, which is unusual for us!  The Band Perry is made up of a sibling trio who co-write and compose most of the songs that appear on their CD. We were first drawn to their music when we saw the video, "If I Die Young."   The song is sad, but very compelling.  The video is beautiful, and it makes us want to see the actual location where it was filmed in Nashville.  The story-line of the video is similar to scene in Anne of Green Gables, where Anne also reenacts The Lady of Shalot.  Check out the video below and find out more about The Band Perry at

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mine is the Night By Liz Curtis Higgs

Rating: 5 stars

Do you ever just feel like you just need a vacation and a chance to escape from your daily routine?  Like many readers, settling down with a good book to read at night allows me to take those mini-vacations and journey into another time and place. Isn't it exciting, when every once in a while, you encounter a treasure? When I first received Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs, the cover captured my interest.  While the cover resembles a Renaissance painting, the spine has the appearance of an old novel.   It may not always be true that you can judge a book by looking at its cover; but in this case, you can.  From its stunning cover to its last page, Mine is the Night captured my interest and imagination.

Mine is the Night takes its readers into the breathtaking country of eighteenth century Scotland.  Elisabeth Kerr and her mother-in-law, Marjory Kerr, arrive in the village of Selkirk as widows with limited resources. As married women, Elisabeth and Marjory led a life blessed in material riches, but now they must rely on the strength of their faith and the generosity of Marjory's cousin Anne as they settle into a new beginning.  For Marjory, returning home brings both sadness and comfort as she remembers her past and tries to embrace her future.  Elisabeth Kerr is a Highlander by birth and faces her new circumstances by being resourceful and using the talent of her needle.  While she can masterfully mend any garment, her heart has been torn by a marriage filled with betrayal and hurt.  Will her new friends in Selkirk, and especially Lord Admiral Jack Buchanan, help to heal her wounds of distrust?

With vivid details and descriptions of the lush Scottish countryside and village, Liz Curtis Higgs took me on a journey that was highlighted by endearing characters that captured my heart.  While I have not read the prequel, Here Burns My Candle, I understood the sense of loss that Elisabeth and Marjory were experiencing as they tried to adjust to their new lives.  By sharing the story from the viewpoints of Elisabeth, Marjory, and Jack, Higgs created character depth that allowed me to understand each person's motivation and viewpoint.  I sympathized with each character's struggles and shared their happiness as well.  Since I enjoy watching period BBC dramas, I felt that I was watching a movie unfold in my mind as I read the authentic Scottish dialect and envisioned the setting.   For readers who may not be accustomed to reading or hearing the dialect, Higgs provides a glossary of terms at the end of the book.

Mine is the Night is a masterfully woven story that will enchant its readers. I highly recommend fellow readers to come along and become swept into its journey.

Mine is the Night is available for purchase at the following locations:
Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Multnomah/ WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. 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.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr

B Squared's Review:
My first introduction to Hugh de Singleton was within the pages of Mel Starr’s latest novel A Trail of Ink, and I found him to be a quite charming fellow.  Because I have not read the previous installments of Hugh de Singleton’s chronicles, I did not have the pleasure of a prior familiarity with his character.  Fortunately, A Trail of Ink can be read as a stand-alone novel, but there are occasional references to earlier events that pique one’s interest in the other two novels, The Unquiet Bones and A Corpse at St. Andrews Chapel.

A Trail of Ink is set in the medieval town of Oxford, England.  Through Hugh’s adventures to solve the mystery of his friend’s missing books and to win the heart of the fair Miss Caxton, the reader journeys through the 14th century streets of Oxford.  Starr’s depiction of medieval life in the scholarly town is vivid and charming.  The novel’s primary mystery is not extremely complex, making the book a relatively light read.  Elements of danger and adventure add flavor to the plot and help the story to progress steadily.  Hugh conveys his adventures in an honest and sometimes witty voice, that allows the reader to empathize with his plight and form a quick, but lasting connection. The conclusion of the novel alludes to Hugh’s forthcoming new adventures in Unhallowed Ground, and I will follow the trail of ink to visit Hugh and his friends (and undoubtedly some enemies) again.   I highly recommend this refreshing novel to both adult and young adult readers!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from LitFuse through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. 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.”

About A Trail of Ink:
An excellent medieval whodunit by the author of The Unquiet Bones and A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel.
Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh's investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh's pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate?

One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor Oxford scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon s skills to prove.

So begins another delightful and intriguing tale from the life of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in the medieval village of Bampton. Masterfully researched by medieval scholar Mel Starr, the setting of the novel can be visited and recognized in modern-day England. Enjoy more of Hugh s dry wit, romantic interests, evolving faith, and dogged determination as he pursues his third case as bailiff of Bampton.

About Mel Starr:
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

Buy the Book:

Blog Tour: A Trail of Ink Blog Tour


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