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Oct 30, 2009

Giveaway Winners & Friday Fill-In~ An awesome author!

Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday Fill-In Fun Join in the Friday Fill-In Fun~ They provide the basics and we fill-in the blanks with whatever we want! So that means I get to use famous dead people or fave characters..

Can you guess who this person is (it's not me)?

1. It was a dark and stormy night, perfect for writing my mystery.

2.When asked about myself, I will say, you will find me in my work, so I offered to take the books myself.

3. Rushing out, but I'd have to say I wish I was liked more for my serious work rather than my swashbuckling nonsense stories .

4. I loved researching for my historical and regency romances...I think I heard a howl!

5. Shhhh... don't tell.. but my third book was published with the pseudonym Stella Martin.

6. My first story was published when I was nineteen, give me something good to eat!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to being with my son Richard, tomorrow my plans include writing a detective novel and Sunday, I want to satisfy the tax authorities!
Who Am I?
See my other Fill-In Riddles here


Congrats! Email me your Snailmail addresses ASAP =)
Just one more giveaway going till next week, for The Queen's Mistake!

And have a wonderful Halloween weekend.. boo!
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Oct 29, 2009

Booking Through Thursday~ Blurbs

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb:
Suggested by Jennysbooks:

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”

AAAH, Blurbage. Also known as garbage. All I know is the blurb on Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean was such a turn off for me. Palace Circle was a historical fiction novel, set in the WWII days, and the blurb was a look-like a tacky purple star sticker (on my cover) on an otherwise pretty cover: "IF YOU LIKE PHILIPPA GREGORY YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK" ~ NORA ROBERTS
Not really the best recommendation, because there are actually tons of people who despise P. Gregory. And Nora Roberts? Well I can't say anything about her, I haven't the faintest.
Then the descriptive blurb on the cover that oversold it was WWII and glamour etc. which it didn't really fit the bill for it so I was disappointed with it. Misleading it was.
And I would prefer the cover to be free of blurbs just for the sake of the beauty of the cover. I am definitely a judge-a-book-by-its-cover girl, and not a blurb girl. Some of the blurbs seem to have a WTF?!! factor as well and that would anger me if I read a book because of a blurb that in fact was misleading.

I also don't enjoy reading blurbs/praise for previous works printed on an author's newest book (save it for the first few pages perhaps); it's kind of a turn-off for me, as I think the new book should stand on its own spine by itself.

As far as irresistible blurbs, I don't know of one yet. If its "epic" or "saga", that genre interests me so perhaps that would make me look twice.

Do you have a blurbage opinion?

P.S. The hockey game last night was awesome! A rocky start, but my Dallas Stars beat Toronto Maple Leafs in Overtime, 4-3
I was so glad to actually get out and enjoy life outside of either work and cartoons. And my hubby was pretty nice to me too. But now it's back to work, and have to work on Payroll today.

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Oct 28, 2009

Wednesday Hopefuls

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Go BRAD RICHARDS! GET IT IN THERE! the Leafs need to SUCK tonight! Well folks, let's get your Game Gear on! All you hockey mom's out there (so sad I always think of Palin when I repeat that term) ROOT FOR THE DALLAS STARS!
Because me, my hubby and my $6 hot dog will be doing just that tonight, live, from American Airlines Center.

Ms. Lucy, if you are a Leafs fan, I apologize in advance. But I'll definitely be scared if the Stars are forced into a shootout, as that is not their strong point this season.

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Oct 27, 2009

winner! winner!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I had a lot of entries for The Other Mr. Darcy, sadly only one winner.
The Winner of The Other Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview is


Via List Randomizer

There were 60 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

If Allie has won this somewhere else, I'll contact the next one on the list!
Congratulations to Allie, and I'll be sending out an Email.

This is a great book, purchase it at Amazon if you didn't win:

Thank you to everyone for entering my Contest, there are two more contests going on right now:
Decoding the Lost Symbol by Simon Cox ends 10/29 (2 days left!)
The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger ends ends 11/6

Good Luck!
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Teaser Tuesday~ My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TEASER TUESDAYS is hosted by ShouldBeReading and asks you to:
♠Grab your current read.
♠Let the book fall open to a random page.
♠Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
♠You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy:

"He stalked Summer, grabbed her arm, and spun her around. Her golden eyes were glassy with horror, and instead of scolding her to let the men do the grisly job, as he'd thought to, he gathered her into his arms and let her soak the front of his shirt."
~page 174

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Oct 26, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Monday, October 26, 2009
Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

For Review:

I would recommend buying the paperback version, for this beautiful cover, available in April 2010.

Or, buy the audio book with his voice telling his own story.
The Time of My Life: An Autobiography by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi
"In a career spanning more than thirty years, Patrick Swayze has made a name for himself on the stage, the screen, and television. Known for his versatility, passion and fearlessness, he's become one of our most beloved actors.
But in February 2008, Patrick announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Always a fighter, he refused to let the disease bring him to his knees, and his bravery has inspired both his legion of fans and cancer patients everywhere. Yet this memoir, written with wisdom and heart, recounts much more than his bout with cancer. In vivid detail, Patrick describes his Texas upbringing, his personal struggles, his rise to fame with North and South, his commercial breakthroughs in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and the soul mate who's stood by his side through it all: his wife, writer and director Lisa Niemi.
A behind-the-scenes look at a Hollywood life and a remarkable love, this memoir is both entertainment and inspiration. Patrick and Lisa's marriage is a journey of two lives intertwined and lived as one--throughout their years in Hollywood and at home on their working ranch outside Los Angeles, and culminating in the hope and wisdom they've imparted to all who know them. This book will open the door for families, individuals, and husbands and wives to grow, bond and discover entirely new levels of love and sharing, proving that life shouldn't be lived as a series of endings, but rather as the beginning of greater strength and love. Patrick Swayze died with family at his side on September 14, 2009, at age 57, twenty months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."

For review: "Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Monarchy" by Leslie Carroll

"A funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty history of 1,000 years of bedroom-hopping secrets and scandals of Britain’s royals.Insatiable kings, lecherous queens, kissing cousins, and wanton consorts—history has never been so much fun.Royal unions have always been the stuff of scintillating gossip, from the passionate Plantagenets to Henry VIII’s alarming head count of wives and mistresses, to the Sapphic crushes of Mary and Anne Stuart right on up through the scandal-blighted coupling of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Thrown into loveless, arranged marriages for political and economic gain, many royals were driven to indulge their pleasures outside the marital bed, engaging in delicious flirtations, lurid love letters, and rampant sex with voluptuous and willing partners.This nearly pathological lust made for some of the most titillating scandals in Great Britain’s history. Hardly harmless, these affairs have disrupted dynastic alliances, endangered lives, and most of all, fed the salacious curiosity of the public for centuries. Royal Affairs will satiate that curiosity by bringing this arousing history alive."

Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire by Leslie Carroll

"A funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty 900-year history of the royal marriages of Europe's most famous-and infamous-monarchs. Since time immemorial, royal marriages have had little to do with love- and almost everything to do with diplomacy and dynasty. Clashing personalities have joined in unholy matrimony to form such infamous couples as Russia's Peter II and Catherine the Great, and France's Henri II and Catherine de Medici-all with the purpose of begetting a male heir. But with tensions high and silverware flying, kings like England's Henry II have fled to the beds of their nubile mistresses, while queens such as Eleanor of Aquitaine have plotted their revenge... Full of the juicy gossip and bad behavior that characterized Royal Affairs, this book chronicles the love-hate marriages of the crowned heads of Europe-from the Angevins to Charles and Di-and ponders how dynasties ever survived at all."

From Paperbackswap: Banners of Gold by Pamela Kaufman, the sequel to Shield of Three Lions. I really loved her book on Eleanor of Aquitaine, so I hope this series keeps me just as entranced.

"The enchanting Alix of Wanthwaite returns in a suspenseful and richly textured adventure in which nothing less than the future of England is at stake.Alix is home at her beloved estate on the Scottish border when King Richard’s soldiers march into her castle and demand to take her to the Continent with them. King Richard has been captured while on Crusade, and Alix is among the nobles whose lives will be collateral for the king’s ransom. But when she’s delivered to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard’s mother, she is dumbfounded to learn that the queen has other plans for her. King Richard needs an heir, Eleanor tells Alix. Repulsed by his queen, a homely religious fanatic, he has told his mother that the only woman he wants is the one he met on Crusade, when she was disguised as a boy. Richard wants Alix to be his mistress and the mother of the next Plantagenet king. Now a beguiling and irrepressible young woman, Alix faces more tribulations—and romance—on this trip to Europe, where affairs of the state and affairs of the heart are intricately intertwined."

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Oct 24, 2009

The Sunday Salon~ Sniffles

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Sunday

Is anyone here who participated in the Read-A-Thon? I am not one of them. But I hope everyone had tons of fun. How many books did you read? I have a head cold and that is not the best thing to have when needing to focus on tiny letters. But this week has been a busy week blog-wise: I added two new giveaways making that three giveaways you can enter for now.

The giveaway for Monica Fairview's The Other Mr. Darcy ends 10/26;
Simon Cox's Decoding The Lost Symbol ends 10/29;
Diane Haeger's The Queen's Mistake ends 11/6.

Be sure to enter for your chance to win one of these books today! I'm a little saddened by the lack of response to the Decoding the Lost Symbol post. Sniffle. But that bodes well for those who really want this book, it is a very quick giveaway sponsored by the publisher. I did receive the book and I look forward to reading it and getting that Nicolas Cage-Explorer feeling. (I did not enjoy Tom Hank's hair in the DaVinci Code movie.)

In other bookish news, I composed a Fall Preview of certain books for the Examiner, I'd love for you stop by. You can also subscribe to the posts that I enter there, and don't worry, I would be lucky to post once a week there, so your inbox will not be inundated with Examiner links when you do subscribe. I still haven't gotten a penny for this affiliation, and I would like to change that someday but I need you stop by and show some support. I appreciate it in advance, I really do!

My DH constructed the fourth bookcase for the hallway. That was fantastic, and I now have plenty of room to add more books and keep them within their genres. Always a great feeling!! We have room for another bookcase in the foyer so I am happy. And I can share a shelf and a half with the kiddos. (Anything beyond that will have cause for serious discussion.)

I finished reading Delilah by India Edghill just last night, and yep, it will be another positive review for the blog. I really enjoyed it, and I wish I had more time in my reading schedule to jump on her previous title, Queenmaker. Be on the lookout for the review to post in a few days. The book itself is available for per-order: Delilah: A Novel and will be released 11/24/09. Next, I plan on reading a new romance, My Unfair Lady, by Kathryne Kennedy, so hopefully I could be ready for a 11/18 guest post. I have about 32 books to review. Ugh.

Historical fiction author Confessions of Catherine de Medici by GortnerC.W. Gortner has unveiled the cover of his highly anticipated book, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici which releases 5/25/10. This is definitely a fantastic cover! This is one of those books that began building buzz the moment he announced he was working on it! His fantastic novel, The Last Queen, took blogland by storm in multiple book blog tours, and I can only imagine this new release will surpass our expectations. No pressure! He wrote a fantastic guest post for my blog which you can find here. Catherine De Medici is one of those queens that has inspired countless books, but this one is going to stand out on its own just as The Last Queen did due to Gortner's superior writing style. No pressure!

The synopsis for his newest forthcoming title: "The most infamous queen of the Renaissance reveals her secrets in an epic tale of persecution, intrigue, and betrayal.
At the age of fourteen, Catherine de Medici, last legitimate descendant of the Medici blood, finds herself betrothed to the King Francois I's son, Henri. Sent from her native Florence to France, humiliated and overshadowed by her husband's life-long devotion to his mistress, when tragedy strikes her family Catherine rises from obscurity to become one of 16th century Europe's most powerful women.
Patroness of Nostradamus and a seer in her own right, accused of witchcraft and murder by her foes, Catherine fights to save France and her children from savage religious conflict, unaware that her own fate looms before her -- a fate that will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and passion of her own embattled heart.
From the splendors of the Loire palaces to the blood-soaked battles of the Wars of Religion and haunted halls of the Louvre, this is the story of Catherine's dramatic life, told by the queen herself. "

Virginie of Virginie Says.. honored me with this pretty award. All I have to do is answer these questions:

1. Where is your favourite place to read a book? In bed
2. Bookmarks or dog ears? Bookmarks, I use ones that Arleigh sent me, my favorite one is here.
3. What is the best book you’ve read so far this year? Several awesome books were read this year, but I'd say a toss up between The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner & Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott
4. Do you like to snack while reading and if so, what is your favourite snack?
Not really. A cup of tea is an indulgence for me and is preferred.
5. Book borrower or book collector? DEFINITELY a collector =)

In sad news, there is a search on for Morgan Dana Harrington who disappeared from a concert on 10/17/09. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, and I hope there is a happy ending. Thank you to Susan from West of Mars for posting about this.
Morgan Badge

Along with my cold-induced sniffles, the disappearance of a young, vibrant 20 year old like Morgan Harrington is definitely cause for sniffles, I can only imagine the heartbreak and grief and sorrow that friends and family are going through. Don't mean to be a downer, but if you could help get the word out, especially those in VA, maybe we can help find her.
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Oct 23, 2009

Giveaway! Author Post: Decoding The Lost Symbol, by Simon Cox

Friday, October 23, 2009
Decoding The Lost Symbol by Simon Cox
Today, at The Burton Review we are honored with the presence of Simon Cox. He is the author of the follow up books to each of the three popular Dan Brown books.

Simon Cox's books include:
His newest book due out November 3, 2009: Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction
Illuminating Angels & Demons: The Unauthorized Guide to the Facts Behind Dan Brown's Bestselling Novel (2005)
Cracking the Da Vinci Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Facts Behind Dan Brown's Bestselling Novel (2004)
The Dan Brown Companion(2007)
An A to Z of King Arthur and the Holy Grail (Simon Cox's a to Z Series), An A to Z of Ancient Egypt (Simon Cox's a to Z) ,An A to Z of the Occult (Simon Cox's a to Z)

Please welcome Simon Cox:

Decoding The Lost Symbol By Simon Cox

In The Da Vinci Code it was Leonardo da Vinci, in Angels & Demons it was Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and now in the new Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol, we have Albrecht Dürer. Art and the artists who create it are never far from Dan Brown’s mind it would seem.

In The Lost Symbol, Brown uses one of the great engravings of Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I, as a device to embed a clue for Langdon to solve. In this case, it’s a so called magic square, to be seen within the engraving, that leads Langdon forward in his quest. So let’s take a little look at this amazing piece of art. (See the Full Large Image Here)

Melancolia I Painting by Albrecht Durer

‘Melencolia I’ was intended to be part of a set – possibly three, maybe four – but was in the end the only one completed. It’s an extraordinary piece of work that Dan Brown could have mined for several books worth of mysterious material. Dürer was, it would seem, a man out of time. One of those incredible characters, much like both Leonardo and Bernini, who stand head and shoulders above all around them. He was also, again like Leonardo and Bernini, prone to long bouts of melancholic depression and introspective meditation. Dürer was a flawed genius.

‘Melencolia I’ fascinated me as soon as I set my eyes upon it. This is an image full to the brim with symbolic elements and secret iconography. I reproduce the image in full on one of the pages of my book, Decoding The Lost Symbol. As I state in the book, entire theses and books have been devoted to trying to explain the images within the engraving. It is a deep and complex piece that demands an extended period of research and study, and even then you can only really scratch the surface. This truly is an example of art that reaches out and touches the psyche and the unconscious of the viewer. It has become one of my favorite images and I never tire of looking at it.

The central theme of the engraving seems to be echoed within the pages of The Lost Symbol, namely transformation of the soul via alchemical endeavors and the attaining of a higher level of being. Many of the items that Dürer has chosen to feature within the image are of alchemical meaning, including a crucible, scales and various tools. There is the background image of a rainbow and a village in the distance – a tranquil looking scene compared to the foreground representation of a very melancholy looking female angel who holds a set of Masonic looking compasses. There is a bell, scales and a timer, as well as an emaciated dog and a rather forlorn looking cherubim. It’s an incredible image and one that I urge you to look at and into. Dürer was trying to reach out to the viewer and impart something, rather like Dan Brown has tried to do within the pages of The Lost Symbol. I think it’s a very fitting image for Brown to have used.

For those of you interested in knowing more, or who want to contact me directly, I am on Facebook under my name, on Twitter (@FindSimonCox) and have a website at, where you will also find details of a fabulous conference I have put together for November 8, 2009 in Los Angeles.


What a fascinating discussion!! Thank you so much to the author for visiting The Burton Review! I look forward to learning more about American and Masonic mysteries in particular when I read this book. The television series Decoding the Past have always intrigued me. With the cult popularity of Dan Brown, his movies and books alike have recently interested new believers with non-traditional approaches to history and science. Simon Cox has started a website at which is helping to bring these theories and insights to anyone interested in secrets to the past. Simon is also a featured blogger at Barnes & Noble, check out the discussion going on there.

You can also see my article on that I wrote last month concerning the topic.

Purchase Decoding The Lost Symbol by Simon Cox via Amazon:

The Burton Review is hosting a very quick giveaway for this book, THREE WINNERS! in the USA only (no PO Boxes), thanks to Simon & Schuster.

CONTEST ENDS OCTOBER 29th! WINNERS ANNOUNCED OCTOBER 30th and I will send emails. This is a quick one, so I need your help promoting this on Twitter, your Blog, etc.

To Enter:

1. 1 Entry: Follow this blog publicly via Google Friend Connect (within left sidebar) and leave me your Email Address.
(*must do 1 to qualify for extras:)
2. Extra entries: 1 entry for Twitter post containing a link to this post, as well as the phrase: "Book Giveaway Decoding the Lost Symbol @FindSimonCox @BurtonReview"
3. May tweet once daily, come back and leave me each link for each extra entry.
4. 1 extra entry for each Facebook Post, advertising "Book Giveaway Decoding the Lost Symbol" and include a link in your advertisement to this post. Earn extra entry for each day you do this.
5. EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS +3 entries: Discuss the works of Dan Brown or Simon Cox: What intrigues you about these books? What has been your favorite Dan Brown or Simon Cox book and why? Is there a paticular "theme" or "mystery" that you have enjoyed learning about?
6.TRIPLE SPECIAL BONUS +3 entries: Comment on this article on and come back here telling me you did so.


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Friday Fill-In~ A bad hair day?

Friday, October 23, 2009
Friday Fill-In Fun Join in the Friday Fill-In Fun~ They provide the basics and we fill-in the blanks with whatever we want! So that means I get to use famous dead people or fave characters..

Can you guess who this person is (it's not me)?
1. The crickets sing, telling stories of my tremendous strength given by God to combat my enemies .

2. I will honor my God regardless of the putting out of my eyes, and I will seek out you Philistines wherever you are.

3. I want to get far away from the burden of my birth as a Nazarite of God, yet I know it is my duty as prophesied.

4. I loved the woman with the dark night hair and I thought she loved me also; this was a dream.

5. But as for me I end up being blinded after God leaves me.

6. There were dubious and angelic beginnings regarding where I come from.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to composing riddles, tomorrow my plans include wrestling a lion and Sunday, I want to destroy the temple!

Who am I? (hint *biblical)
See my other Fill-In Riddles here

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Oct 22, 2009

Booking Through Thursday~ One Question

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb:

If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?

So many favorite authors, so little time! I would love to sit and talk with Jean Plaidy, née Eleanor Hibbert; her wealth of knowledge was so great due to the research she conducted for her historical fiction novels. She wrote roughly 87 historical novels as Jean Plaidy and many more under other pseudonyms such as Victoria Holt.

Pondering the one question that I would ask her.. (Just ONE?!)..I would make sure to ask her many more but the first would be:
Who were her favorite authors that she relied on for her historical information?

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Oct 20, 2009

Book Review: The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Wildest Heart
The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers
Original Publication 1974
Historical Romance
Sourcebooks Reissued October 2009 , $7.99
Review Copy from Sourcebooks
New York Times bestseller with over 3 million sold - the #1 bestselling book from mega-bestselling author.
The Burton Review Rating:3.5 Stars


"Heroine Rowena Dangerfield is sensual, headstrong, and scandalously independent, the granddaughter of the governor of an Indian province under the British empire. After his death, she travels to England and then to New Mexico, where she arrives in grand style to lay claim to her inheritance.
There she discovers an affinity with the wild and untamed frontier and meets Lucas Cord, a devastatingly handsome half-Apache renegade, whose reputation as a feared outlaw both attracts and repels her. When he encounters the beautiful stranger, unlike any woman he's ever met before, he knows instantly that he'll have to win her for his own, and not even the treachery of desperate enemies is going to stop him

This book is an epic style saga that sweeps you into the plights of Rowena Dangerfield and her many suitors. Rowena was born to wealth, yet had a miserable childhood, and life doesn't get much easier for her. We follow Rowena from India, to England and across the pond to accept the challenge an absent father bequeathed her in New Mexico. She is kidnapped, raped, kept hostage, and still manages to keep her wits about her. Or she attempts to show that she is unbreakable, but as a reader we wonder just how much more she can take.

There are so many backstories here behind her upbringing, her family, her stepfather, and all the way to the mysteries of the people her deceased father dealt with. To go into all of the events would spoil your delightful surprise of this book, but rest assured you will not be bored. As Rowena tries to sort out her father's wishes for her, the reader is swept up in the wild west drama of New Mexico with Apache indians and renegade cowboys. And then there are always the men in Rowena's life, as there are several, and although we shake our heads at Rowena's ill-fated decisions we still crave more of the story. At 748 pages, you need to be prepared to engross yourself in this story, but it is definitely a fast moving plot with many events going on. Some may seem contrived and forced into the plot, but the overall drama of Rowena's many struggles holds our attention.

She agrees to marry a man who holds the other half of the profitable ranch that her father bequeathed her, but this is swiftly averted when Rowena is kidnapped by Indians and she agrees to marry one of the same Indian brothers that is hated by her previous fiancee. This marriage is also averted because she falls in love with Lucas, the outlaw Indian brother that she had once hated on sight when she had found him lurking in her bedroom. Confused yet? Oh yes it is tricky keeping up with all the names and some of the twisted relationships we encounter, but this is truly the epitome of a Wild West Romance Saga and there must be plenty of romantic opportunities and many characters to develop some interesting storylines around. That is achieved here, as I found myself wishing Rowena would listen to logic and fall for the good guy for once. Rowena is not exactly a character you would feel empathy for, she seems to never know when to control her troublesome mouth, and even as she narrates in first person you get a little tired of her uppity attitude despite all the hardships she has endured.

I enjoyed the characters as they each held their own for their specific purpose in the book. The good guys turned bad, the bad guys were really good (in some ways)...The good guys against the bad guys, the have's against the have-not's. Rowena herself does some eye-rolling things which would really make me stop being her friend if I were one in the first place, but the overall story was a lot of western action fun. I didn't like the way that from whatever clothes she decided to wear she was magically transformed. Dowdy clothes, everyone else saw dowdy and a frumpy muffin and sent her distasteful glances. Put her in a dress and the entire town knows who she is, a rich heiress. The heavy amount of foreshadowing gets aggravating after the fourth or fifth time. You understand there is a twist coming, and coming, and coming.. still working on it.. Aside from the cumbersome first person narrative and the fact it was subtly written in a memoir fashion, I couldn't help imagining this as a good mini-series on the Lifetime network. (Catherine Zeta Jones would work well if any film makers are listening.)

With the multitude of events going on here (which there is no way I could attempt to elaborate on without this post being unending), I understand why this novel was 748 pages. But even as I wished it wasn't 748 pages, I can't think of a part to take out. So if you are ready to sit and read for a spell and get yourself caught up in a historical romance with all the tributes of a western, this is a great choice for you. The story stayed with me when I was not reading it, and the last half of the brick of a book seemed to move faster than the first half. If there was a sequel I would be interested in continuing the saga. As it is, I'll still be on the lookout for some of her other titles. Be prepared to be consumed by some gun-slinging, hijacking fun with some captivating fire and rain romance thrown in! (You'll see!!)

There are some wonderful ratings for this one on Amazon!
Purchasing through this link adds 4% revenue to The Burton Review! Go ahead and do it, it was an entertaining book to keep you busy for more than a weekend!

Teaser Tuesdays ~ Delilah by India Edghill

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TEASER TUESDAYS is hosted by ShouldBeReading and asks you to:
♠Grab your current read.
♠Let the book fall open to a random page.
♠Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
♠You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

Delilah by India Edghill; available 11/24/2009

"And although I had been trained well in all the arts a Rising Moon might be called upon to perform, and thought myself mistress of the skills that would be demanded of me, I still felt unprepared, not good enough. Fire danced light-footed across my skin; bees seemed to murmur in my ears, dizzying me. I summoned and then discarded half a dozen different responses, none of them worthy." - p. 230, ARC copy

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Oct 19, 2009

Giveaway and Interview with Diane Haeger, author of "The Queen's Mistake"

Monday, October 19, 2009
Today, I welcome Diane Haeger to The Burton Review! A special treat indeed. She answers some of my questions, then see below for another special treat for you!

I had really enjoyed Diane Haeger's novel on the sister to Henry VIII, The Secret Bride: In The Court of Henry VIII (get it at a bargain price on Amazon through that link) on Mary Tudor. This was the same Mary that he named a ship after, The Mary Rose, that you may have heard about lately in regards to a restoration project for this ship. The novel was an entertaining read on Mary's brief time as Queen of France and her love of Charles Brandon, who was a favorite of Henry's. Diane has also written several Historical Fiction novels that are quite popular, starting with her debut Courtesan in 1993.

The interview:
You say that your profession of "writing found you" when you decided to write your first book "The Courtesan" in 1993. The journey has taken your writing to Rome, to the American Civil War, to a Scottish village to the courts of Henry VIII, among others.. what has been your favorite era to write about?

Tough question! That’s a little like asking a mother to choose a favorite child, especially for me, since I spend every day for over a year, usually closer to two years, with each of my stories and characters, and I always spend time in the specific countries and towns in which they are set, hopefully to bring more realism to the books. But I think there is always a special fondness for the first one, and in my case that is definitely true. I will always love the Renaissance, particularly the French Renaissance, in which Courtesan is set.

Despite the many intrigues of the courts of Henry VIII, there are many novels that focus on this era. What has inspired you to write these stories for yourself?

Well, first of all, I really hope that my background in psychology helps me to see characters and present them in a full, perhaps multi-dimensional way that potentially has not been done before. Doing that has most definitely been part of the motivation. I really enjoy looking at the intricacies of my character’s lives, such as why they might have done what they did, and how it could have affected them, not just presenting the incidents. Second, I try to only spend a year of my life with a character who has really moved me and who I think perhaps I can portray for readers in a way that has not been done before. I like to think that is the case with Catherine Howard.

What has been the most surprising thing that you learned for your research in your latest novel, "The Queen's Mistake"?

The most surprising thing is that I don’t now believe Catherine was simply the silly, spoiled girl as many others have portrayed her, and as popular history has contended. I found that she was far more complex than that. I believe that she was a person, like the rest of us who, at her core, was human, one who made mistakes, but one who matured and changed and who tried to learn from those mistakes while she was queen. Yet sadly, she was still a person who ultimately paid an enormous price for them in the end.

"The Queen's Mistake" focuses on Catherine Howard, the young fifth wife of the older King Henry, who seems to have been a naive yet promiscuous young woman. Do you think that she loved King Henry or was she merely a political pawn of advancement for her family?

I do absolutely believe that, over time, she came to love her husband. It likely wasn’t the passionate love she had for Thomas Culpeper. The age difference was too great and Henry’s ailments were far too many at that point in his life But there are several kinds of love, and I think history shows us that Catherine worried greatly about his health, took care of him, and in some cases tried to make him a better man and a better king for the brief time that she was able to influence him.

Lady Rochford was a character in your novel and also in reality who had a lot to do with allowing the adulterous affair between Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper. Why do you think she aided the two to secretly meet? What does this tell you about her character?

Ah yes, Lady Rochford. I believe her motivations were as complicated as Catherine’s. Primarily, I came to believe she was likely driven to help the lovers out of a sense of her own guilt for misdeeds in her earlier life involving Anne Boleyn. She seems to have wanted to make amends for that to a degree. I also think in their time together she actually came to care for Catherine as a friend, and as we all know, good friends help one another. That is my take on it anyway and it was my premise in the novel.

After having so much success with the historical fiction genre with your writing, what are one of the secrets of your success?

Well thank you for that. I suppose I would have to say, if there is a secret, it is in never giving up, never taking a break, or taking a leave from the business, even as the market has changed in the last 2 decades. It has been quite a winding career path for me, as the varied subjects of my 11 novels shows, but I have just kept writing, and stayed flexible for that ever-changing market so that I could remain published and keep putting things out there for readers to hopefully connect with. It is my greatest hope that I have done that.

Do you have any works in progress that you would like to share with us? What is a topic that you would like to explore for future works?

Sure. Next up in the story of a much younger Henry VIII and his early mistress, Bess Blount, the mother of his only acknowledged natural child, his son, Henry Fitzroy. Beyond that, there is an incredible Italian Renaissance true story that I have been dying to tell since I wrote Courtesan, back in the ‘90’s. It’s full of unbelievable twists and turns, intrigue and great romance. Italian stories haven’t been easy for me to sell (Other than The Ruby Ring) but in a publishing market that changes as fast as this one does, I suppose there is always hope!

By the way, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. This has been a pleasure.

(You're welcome, and thanks for answering my questions!)

Her newest release this October and available now is The Queen's Mistake, and it is being given away right here! The publisher is offering a copy to two of my lucky readers!
I apologize but this is USA only.

The Queen's Mistake
So here is what you have to do in order to enter for this book:
1. Follow this blog publicly via google friend connect.
2. Comment with your E-mail Address.
3. 1 extra entry each for a Twitter, Blog Post or Sidebar Graphic Link, or Facebook Share (max. 5 total entries). Please provide links.
4. For an extra bonus +2 entries, comment on Catherine Howard, books you've read that included Catherine Howard, what you think her big mistake was... or comment regarding our guest author, Diane Haeger, and what books have you read of hers and which of these you enjoyed the most and why. (*Must be a cohesive comment that adds to the conversation. The comment I have not read any of Diane's books but would like to win this will NOT be counted as a bonus!)

Contest ends November 6, 2009, Good Luck and thanks for entering!

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Mailbox Monday~ Tudor Mania and another Austen Sequel!

Monday, October 19, 2009
Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

I received some fabulous books for review here on the blog:Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love by Elizabeth Norton Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love by Elizabeth Norton:
"Jane Seymour is often portrayed as meek and mild and as the most successful, but one of the least significant, of Henry VIII’s wives. The real Jane was a very different character, demure and submissive yet with a ruthless streak — as Anne Boleyn was being tried for treason, Jane was choosing her wedding dress.
From the lowliest origins of any of Henry’s wives her rise shows an ambition every bit as great as Anne’s. Elizabeth Norton tells the thrilling life of a country girl from rural Wiltshire who rose to the throne of England and became the ideal Tudor woman." 240 pages; Amberley (July 2009)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Loades:
"The story of Henry VIII and his six wives has passed from history into legend — taught in the cradle as a cautionary tale and remembered in adulthood as an object lesson in the dangers of marying into royalty. The true story behind the legend, however, remains obscure to most people, whose knowledge of the affair begins and ends with the aide memoire ‘Divorced, executed, died, divorce, executed, survived’.
David Loades' masterly book recounts the whole sorry tale in detail from Henry’s first marriage to his brother’s widow, to more or less contented old age in the care of the motherly Catherine Parr." 240 pages; Amberley (July 2009)

In a win from Historically Obsessed:

Lady Vernon and Her Daughter: A Novel of Jane Austen's Lady Susan by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

"Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan was written during the same period as another novella called Elinor and Marianne–which was later revised and expanded to become Sense and Sensibility. Unfortunately for readers, Lady Susan did not enjoy the same treatment by its author and was left abandoned and forgotten by all but the most diligent Austen scholars. Until now.

In Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway have taken Austen's original novella and transformed it into a vivid and richly developed novel of love lost and found–and the complex relationships between women, men, and money in Regency England.Lady Vernon and her daughter, Frederica, are left penniless and without a home after the death of Sir Frederick Vernon, Susan's husband. Frederick' s brother and heir, Charles Vernon, like so many others of his time, has forgotten his promises to look after the women, and despite their fervent hopes to the contrary, does nothing to financially support Lady Vernon and Frederica. When the ladies, left without another option, bravely arrive at Charles's home to confront him about his treatment of his family, they are faced with Charles's indifference, his wife Catherine's distrustful animosity, and a flood of rumors that threaten to undo them all. Will Lady Vernon and Frederica find love and happiness–and financial security– or will their hopes be dashed with their lost fortune?

With wit and warmth reminiscent of Austen's greatest works, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter brings to vivid life a time and place where a woman's security is at the mercy of an entail, where love is hindered by misunderstanding, where marriage can never be entirely isolated from money, yet where romance somehow carries the day." Crown/RandomHouse (October 6, 2009)

I also received Diane Haeger's newest release, "The Queen's Mistake". The good news for YOU is I have an interview ready to go with the author, and if you check back later today you will see your chance to win your very own copy of this book!

The Queen's Mistake "When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart's desire in favor of her family's ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon-her own romantic past. The Queen's Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart."
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Oct 17, 2009

The Sunday Salon~The Week in Review

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Sunday

Happy Sunday to everyone! It's been a busy week here at The Burton Review!

I reviewed Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman, a non-fiction account of the ladies and family members that influenced Elizabeth I's character. I really enjoyed this book, and I think it belongs it everyone's Tudor book collection. The book is available through the links I provided on the post, but will be readily available in bookstores in the USA in September. What made my review of Tracy Borman's new book extra special is the fact that it was my first buddy read. Heather from The Maiden's Court and I interacted during our progress and you can see our own interviews on my review post and her review post. It was great fun. We've got some more fun stuff up our sleeves, but you'll have to wait and see!

The author Tracy Borman is expecting a baby any day now, so congratulations and best wishes are being sent her way. She is working on two more books now, as baby permits, but I am excited about both of the topics she has chosen. The first one is Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, for 2011; and the second is the Witches of Belvoir - a scandalous 17th century witchcraft trial event, for 2013. You can bet I'll be first in line for these reads as well!

I also read and reviewed Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien which was another fantastic read. I also did a special post on it here for Lyman Beecher's birthday. I definitely recommend this for anyone interested in late 1800's America, social issues of the times, and the Beecher story in general. I am looking for the author's historical fiction book, The Glory Cloak, as well. You may have missed my review because I decided to post it late on Friday night. It was one of those that I didn't want to spend too much more time on and turn it into a big mess!

I was going through my reviews for the year so far and posting them with their ratings on my Reviews page. It really looks like I've found a way to discern the not-great books from the better books, as I've received a lot of better books (in my opinion) lately. I have not had many doozy's, probably because I have learned to stick within my niche of historical fiction and not straying too far from that. I counted 54 books read and reviewed in 2009 so far. That is great for me! I had no idea how many it was because this is the first time I've attempted to count. I am happy with that total, considering there are 52 weeks in the year, and we are still in October. I hope I can keep up the pace for 2010, and wouldn't mind being a little quicker then since I have a lot more review opportunities now.

I chose a winner and she has responded gleefully already for the giveaway I ran for The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes:

Big Congratulations to Ms. Lucy, I am so excited you are the winner this time around! Canada misses out on some of our contests, so I am always happy to see US spreading the love ;)

I still have another week going for the giveaway for Monica Fairview's The Other Mr. Darcy. If you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice at all, you are really going to like this one, as I did. I enjoyed this version of Caroline Bingley very much and there was a lot of regency flair to this read. Enter for the book giveaway here at The Burton Review!

I am working on some facelift/bloggiesta type improvements for the blog, which include a graphic navigation menu bar for underneath the header picture, and composing the obligatory About Me post etc. I did update my Email Me button that is on my left sidebar. The graphics are there, (obviously) but I'm working on some of the corresponding posts they link to. I also killed the bazillion awards that cluttered up my sidebar. My blog takes awhile to load because of the header, the background, the widgets, the 15 posts, the Amazon Associates links, and everything else, so the awards were just cluttering my brain up. And I have a music player on there as well. Which I realize you guys don't use, but believe it or not, I have my blog page up all day at work to look at my sheepish header for sanity, and I listen to the music player. For 8 hours a day. And now that I have the menu bar up, the page will probably load slow because of linking the graphics from photobucket. So we'll see how it goes. I added a TweetMeme thing that shows below the header of the posts. I also configured my google friends gadget. I was bored.

Then I found this on google books.. they have uploaded LIFE magazine to their database, so now you can browse back issues of LIFE magazine.Check it out here! I was looking at a 1972 issue wher Margaret Truman talks about the book about her dad that she wrote, which I just got from Paperbackswap last month. And there are these awesome Panasonic ads with an 8 track and a system that looks similar to my dad's.. so awesome.

And then I googled all issues, and searched Harriet Beecher.. I can be here ALL night!

I completed 125/250 points for Virginie's Four month challenge, and she started another Four Month Challenge here on her blog. I've completed three of the six books for The Everything Austen Challenge but I might have to substitute one or two on the list I had originally posted. We'll see how far we get. More than likely I will get 50% on this one as well. I am not that good at these Challenges, I always end up changing my priority reads to coincide with newer review requests.

My goal for next week is to get my husband to construct another bookcase. I've got some categorizing to do and I need some more space. I'll let you know how that works out. I'm about to start Delilah by India Edghill, and I hope to get somewhere with it this weekend, but I would have to get off the computer in order to do that.

I've been busy working, kids, reading/reviewing, so I haven't been commenting much on your sites and I apologize for that. I do keep up with google reader on my iPhone when things settle enough for me to take a peek at what is going on. So I am making it up to you with two more giveaways! One starts Monday, and the other starts Friday! I will also have one more review for you this week, The Wildest Heart, by Rosemary Rogers. See you then!

Oct 16, 2009

Book Review: Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien

Friday, October 16, 2009
Harriet and Isabella: A Novel by Patricia O'Brien
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (January 13, 2009)
Originally published January 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0743277778
Review copy from Touchstone via
The Burton Review Rating:4.5 Stars at The Burton Review

"It is 1887, and Henry Ward Beecher lies dying. Reporters from around the world, eager for one last story about the most lurid scandal of their time, descend on Brooklyn Heights, their presence signaling the beginning of the voracious appetite for fallen celebrities we know so well today.
When Henry Ward Beecher was put on trial for adultery in 1875, the question of his guilt or innocence was ferociously debated. His trial not only split the country, it split apart his family, causing a particularly bitter rift between his sisters, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Isabella Beecher Hooker, an ardent suffragist. Harriet remained loyal to Henry, while Isabella called publicly for him to admit his guilt. What had been a loving, close relationship between two sisters plummeted into bitter blame and hurt.
Harriet and Isabella each had a major role in the social revolutions unfolding around them, but what happened in their hearts when they were forced to face a question of justice much closer to home? Now they struggle: who best served Henry -- the one who was steadfast or the one who demanded honesty?"

I absolutely loved this novel. My heart ached at several points within the book and then again at the end. I even cried. I checked the rating on Goodreads as I marked this finished, and the average rating is 3.24 of 5. So again, I am loving a book beyond reality. But I'm not changing my rating of 4.5, because I LOVED IT! This is a very absorbing fictional account of the sisters to Henry Ward Beecher who caused a sensational scandal in 1875 when he was publicly accused of being a cheating preacher. These two sisters were Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Isabella Hooker, who was a leader in the woman's suffrage movement and also became an author. Henry shocked his family and friends with the scandal of their times that tore the family apart, as he was the most eloquent and popular preacher of the time. This was not your ordinary family; the Beecher's were an intellectual group and there were a total thirteen siblings that called Lyman Beecher their father. Lyman Beecher was a force all by himself, and he instilled family pride and the desire for learning, along with political stands on abolition, into the family value structure. How the Beecher children took this knowledge to greater heights helped America to grow in the 1850's and beyond, such as with Harriet's book, which was a small factor in providing inspiration for the American Civil War.

Patricia O'Brien walked the paths of the main protagonists in Brooklyn Heights and read the archives of the Brooklyn Library to get the essence of her story just right. She conveyed the sense of of the period with ease, and focused on the story of two of the Beecher sisters, Harriet and Isabella. The story is wrapped with questions of virtue, humility, wisdom, and the price that was paid by Beechers for all of it. And at times, it was Harriet versus Isabella, and triumph versus burden.

Harriet Beecher Stowe,1811-1896
The novel opens up to Henry's death bed, and swiftly jumps to the earlier times of Harriet and Isabella's childhood and growing up as members of the prominent Beecher family. There are a few themes here, but the main theme stealthily ponders the justification of standing up for your rights, as a woman, as a member of the community, as a wife, and as a sister. Harriet stands by her brother in all ways, and in doing so has knowingly alienated her sister Isabella who she was once so close to.
Isabella Hooker, 1822-1907
The narrative is a third person omniscient, switching from Isabella's thoughts to Harriet's about halfway through the book which made me miss Isabella as I had grown attached to her. Harriet was a bit too haughty to really connect to until later on as we feel her thoughts and begin to empathize with her. Yet certain small things we would be fed, such as her humiliation of a book that was not as successful as her previous one, when she wrote about Lord Byron’s incestuous relations with his half-sister in Lady Byron Vindicated (1870) and The History of the Byron Controversy (1871), small insights that would begin to play on our sympathies for Harriet. The younger sister, Isabella Beecher Hooker also became an important woman in those times, like her sister, trying to fight the system as she spoke up for the right of women to vote, although she is always portrayed as more of a simple-stick-to-the-facts kind of person in the novel. She had associated with names we recognize from the time such as Victoria Woodhull, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Victoria Woodhull was the one who broke the story on the scandal of Henry's adultery, and the family warned Isabella to stop seeing Victoria. As a result, Isabella became the black sheep of the family, but also because she wanted her brother to simply admit to the mistake of adultery and move on. But the entire family believed Henry was innocent, thus Isabella was treated harshly for her views.

The author shifts between their current time at Henry's death bed and then to early events that they recalled back from their memories and then back to the trial that was sensationalized because of who they were. The results of being a celebrity is another theme here, as one wonders if Henry wasn't a Beecher, would there have been such news about the trial.. would there have been a trial in the first place? The trial doesn't occur until halfway through the book, so the author does a good job of building up the characters and making us comfortable with our opinions of them before we try and discern fact from fiction as the trial occurs. We do not know if Henry is guilty of cheating on his wife, Eunice, who is such a cold person that nobody wonders why Henry would stray, but as a reader we are not privy to the answer to that all important question of innocence or guilt. That being the case, this becomes a tender tale of how a very close knit family copes with scandal in the midst of the harsh public spotlight, and the author treats it with a lot of drama, a little mystery and a lot of heart. The events that keep switching from 1875 to earlier days also makes the mystery fester as the story builds up to the conclusion of the trial.

I found the writing to be fluent and the nuance of the times she conveyed to be educational, with the issues of slavery and the suffrage movement. As a historical junkie myself, I would have preferred some more history in general but I still relished each page as the story unfolded. The switching to different periods got a little confusing when I was picking up the book again after 24 hours and I had to get my bearings as to which stage we were in. It was presented in a unique way that turned this mini history lesson into something meant to be savored. At 298 pages, this seems small in relation to the amount of historical facts the author could have barraged us with, instead she blends an intricate story of betrayal, family, love, loneliness, honesty with a little history into a compelling novel that I highly recommend.

After the 298 pages of text, the book includes a Reading Guide, Author's note and interview, and a suggested further reading list, which I intend to research for my own personal library; always a good sign that the author Patricia O'Brien did a good job of selling me the story of Harriet and Isabella. There is so much more to be learned about this great family of our American history, and the author has simply whetted my appetite. I felt deprived when the story did end, however, as I had fallen in love with the characters and did not want the story to end. I then found that the author has also written another historical fiction novel, The Glory Cloak, which focuses on Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton. SOLD! Louisa May Alcott is always my favorite author from childhood; my first book beyond Judy Blume that I had read as an impressionable ten year old was Little Women, and my loyalty has never strayed. I enjoyed O'Brien's prose so much I hope that The Glory Cloak is similar in style.
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