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Apr 30, 2010

Tudor Mania Challenge is ALMOST HERE!

Friday, April 30, 2010
Tudor Mania Button

Visit the main page here, where you sign up and enter your review links so that you can be eligible to win prizes.

My first review will be of the newest Tudor fiction release by the very promising new author D.L. Bogdan of Secrets of The Tudor Court! The review will post May 1st as the kickoff to the Tudor Mania Challenge, and Arleigh at will also have her review up on her site as well.

Post your review links to the Linky Tool on the main post from May 1st through July 31.

Have fun!

Apr 27, 2010


Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Secrets of The Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan
Available for purchase APRIL 27!!
PERFECT for the Tudor Mania Reading Challenge
It is with extreme pleasure that I welcome debut author, D.L. Bogdan to The Burton Review. I read this novel recently and will have my review posting here on May 1st as the kickoff review for my Tudor Mania Reading Challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel that was told from a different point of view of the Tudor courts. Most Tudor readers recognize the title Norfolk, or the name Thomas Howard, because he was the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, a fearsome political force behind getting his nieces' Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard to the throne as Queens of England. The story that Bogdan gives us is through the eyes of Norfolk's daughter, Lady Mary Howard.  I always enjoy learning more about secondary characters of the Tudor court, and this Mary Howard was married to King Henry's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Stay tuned for my review, but for now, let's hear about Bogdan's journey with Mary Howard:

What inspired you to tell the story of Mary Howard? Where had you first encountered her?

-I encountered Mary as a character who stood on the very fringes of the cast of several Tudor novels. The person who really fascinated me was her father, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard. But I wanted a gentler window into that history and found that telling a story that has become familiar to many through her unique perspective might be an interesting twist.

How hard was it to research for information on Mary Howard, as she is one of those more obscure members of the Tudor courts?

-It was like a wild goose chase but I ran into a lot of helpful people along the way, particularly Dr. David Head, who wrote THE EBBS AND FLOWS OF FORTUNE; the life of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He helped steer me in some very interesting directions! Every source I encountered led me to more; I found that utilizing a lot of original sources, such as letters from the people involved (Eustace Chapuys, Surrey, Norfolk, his wife, and Thomas Cromwell) as well as transcripts from the various trials the most helpful. It really was one of the joyous processes of my life!

Mary is portrayed as having a close relationship with her cousins Queen Anne and Queen Catherine Howard. Have you come across evidence that this may be true? Was she a lady-in-waiting to both of these queens?

-Yes, Mary was a lady in waiting to both of her cousins. How close she was to them in actuality, I really am not sure. I inferred because her father was such a key figure in the lives of both of these women that she would have been particularly involved with them as well. This is where I had to step in as an entertainer rather than historian and fill in some gaps!

Although you give a specific reason in the novel, why do you think Mary didn't marry after her first husband died?

-I believe her brother Surrey had a lot to do with it. He stridently objected to any union with the Seymours, which seemed Mary's only documented prospect, and as Mary appeared to be a dutiful member of the Howard family, she may have been too intimidated by the strong personalities around her to make another match.

Your depiction of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, shows signs of tenderness at rare times, yet he is a very dark character. How true to life do you think this portrayal is?

-There is a lot more information about Thomas Howard's personality than Mary's. Through Dr. Head's work, as well as letters from Eustace Chapuys, ambassador to Charles V and an intimate of Henry VIII's court, I was able to discern a great deal about the complexities of the duke. The most helpful sources of all were letters exchanged between him and his fiery wife, Elizabeth, as well has her exchanges with Thomas Cromwell, along with the testimony given by her, his mistress Bess Holland, and Mary herself for his trial.

Although your novel includes some of the famous myths regarding the Tudor courts, such as Anne Boleyn's sixth finger, what are your personal thoughts on them?

-Honestly, I think a lot of those myths were probably stirred up at the time for sheer sensationalism, just as any contemporary public figure is found subject to them today. Fact and fiction seem to be inexorably intertwined in the myths and legends of the Tudor court and I incorporated some of them for the sake of entertainment.

You mention George and Jane Boleyn having a son. He is rarely mentioned in Tudor fiction and I would love to know if you remember where you had first picked up this fact.

-There are some references to it in other works of fiction, as well as a vague reference to it in an online family tree; however it listed the child as "baby boy Boleyn" so if there really was a child, I assume it likely did not survive to adulthood. It is true there are barely any mentions of a child in more well known sources which may make it just another Tudor myth . . .

Have you been lucky enough to have visited England? If so, what was your favorite event of the visit?

-I did, years before I ever knew it would be the subject of my novels (thank God I'm compulsive enough to take notes anyway!). My favorite part of the visit was Westminster Abbey. It made me feel so small and a little insignificant under the weight of so much history . . . but it was exhilarating to stand where so many key figures in history stood!

Do you have a favorite wife of Henry VIII that you enjoy reading about?

-That's a tough one. I find each of his wives extremely fascinating in their own right. I admire Catherine of Aragon's uncompromising beliefs and Anne Boleyn's sharp wit. I find Jane Seymour's timid but compassionate nature endearing, and was stirred to pity for Anne of Cleves, who was so far from home and so unwanted. Catherine Howard's naivete and typical teen antics were at once delightful and tragic, and Catherine Parr's intelligence and ability to survive what most didn't at her time was inspiring. So, the short answer would have been to say I like them all!

Who are some of your favorite Tudor period authors?

-I adore Robin Maxwell's work, Alison Weir, along with every one's favorite courtly author Jean Plaidy.

What is next in the works for your writing? Any more Tudor inspired novels coming our way?

Yes, I do have some works up my sleeve. In 6-9 months my second book, as yet untitled, will be released by Kensington, which is about Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, his wife Elizabeth, and his mistress Bess Holland, and told from all 3 perspectives. I am especially proud of this work because I had a wealth of research to aid me and I feel it is very historically accurate. There are also a few other projects I am working on, so this isn't the last you will hear from me!

I was so excited to hear she is working on her next Tudor novel! I am thrilled to have another successful Tudor author to look forward to. And I am even more excited to offer my followers a chance to WIN a SIGNED finished copy of Secrets of the Tudor Courts by D.L. Bogdan, courtesy of this very generous author! USA and Canada residents ONLY.

All you have to do is tell me what intrigues you about Tudor fiction!

Comment on this post with your email address.
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Giveaway ends May 14! Good Luck!! My review is posted here.
Edited to add that Jennifer at Rundpinne was the winner, congrats!

Apr 26, 2010

Book Review: (GIVEAWAY!) Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok

Monday, April 26, 2010

Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (April 29, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1594487569
Review copy from the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars!
Introducing a fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice, an inspiring debut about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures.

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.
A child and her mother come to America, 'the Golden mountain', in hopes for a better life, escaping the threats of a communist Hong Kong. Knowing little English and nothing of the American culture, Kim is thrust into the taunting and hateful school environment at age eleven. At the same time, Kim and her mother are beholden to a jealous aunt who makes them work long hours in a factory doing sewing work. They live in squalor, amongst roaches and rats, in the projects of Brooklyn, yet with not many neighbors because the place has been condemned.

The one saving grace for Kim is her intelligence and ability to catch on quickly. Kim makes a single friend who gets her through the days, and her mother never veers from her duty to try as hard as she can, although much of it is futile as they endure one freezing winter after another without any heat. Kim grows older and wiser, and surpasses the others at her school with stellar grades, and eventually gets accepted to Yale. Kim is forced to make a devastating choice go to Yale and leave her family obligations behind, or to accept her position in life as an immigrant forever trying to ingratiate herself into a foreign society.

Well told with a blunt passion for the subject matter, I wonder how close the story is to the author's own experiences. The racism is an underlying current, but not forced upon us as this is truly one young woman's story of surviving New York with little assistance and becoming an accomplished adult despite of it. It is also the story of young love and the repercussions of the romantic liaisons. There were a myriad of characters offered, from schoolmates to teachers to employers, and each one was an important part to Kim's story.  I enjoyed the novel and recommend for anyone wishing for a light and quick read that moves fast. I read this novel in a quick page flipping all-nighter so that I could learn what happens to these strong characters who had endeared themselves to me so quickly. Jean Kwok delivers a powerfully told story of a coming of age story that holds nothing back and gives everything expected, and more. With promise of much success from this new author, Girl In Translation has already been selected as an Indie Next List Pick as well as a Blue Ribbon featured pick for many book clubs.

The publisher has kindly agreed to offer up one ARC for my readers!
One copy USA and Canada!

Please comment on this post with your email address.
Discuss something about the themes of this book.. such as what other immigration stories have you read?  Have you read anything that included something Asian in its themes?

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Good Luck!
Contest ends May 7th.

Apr 24, 2010

The Sunday Salon~ Humble Is a Virtue

Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Sunday

Happy Sunday! Sip along with your cola/coffee/tea/vodka, click the pics to visit other virtual reading rooms.. tell us..what are you reading this week??

I think I was in my top snarky form last week with my Sunday Salon, as I made fun of myself and therefore made you laugh. Which is great stuff. The sad thing is the moment I taunted that I am outside watching the kiddos romp and play, is the moment that the weekends turned yucky. That's what we call around here the Burton jinx. We have quite a few Burton jinxes around here. We try not to say them out loud.. so I'm moving on quietly lest the jinx gods hear me..

I do not like trying to contain two insufferable children in the same house that my husband is trying to sleep in at the same time. That is just one of the drawbacks of  having a second shifter in the family. So now that I have perfected the admonishing tone accompanied with the overly loud "SSSHHHH!", the devil's spawn have now effectively been trained to ignore me simultaneously. Of course.

I did manage to sneak in a read this week, that I am so eager to share it with you all. Most of you know that my truest passion belongs to the intrigues of the Tudor courts. The books have multiplied at my house simply because of the Tudor obsession of mine. And then of course some of you may know that I have allowed my passion to be diverted, by reviewing non-Tudor reads lately. Which is why I started the Tudor Mania Challenge, to give myself a gosh-darn-good-reason to get back to my passion. I even went hog wild a freaked a few of you out with my excessive Suggested Tudor Reading post.

Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan
 (April 27, 2010)
My first read for this challenge, which starts May 1st, is the brand spanking new "Secrets of the Tudor Courts" by D.L. Bogdan. Eerily familiar to you because the author is new to you, but the title... yes, the title mirrors the series by Kate Emerson which of course I loved those too.. but back to the point... THIS Secrets of The Tudor Court was a flipping page frenzy of I-LOVE-ME-SOME-TUDOR-INTRIGUE!! Freaking fun evil Norfolk stuff you have here, and I am honored to have been able to catch this busy author amidst a life of more chaos than mine while she sat down and answered my Tudor questions. So on the release day of April 27th I will post an interview and have a book giveaway for an Autographed finished copy, which she is so kind to offer to my lucky lucky followers. Isn't that flipping fantastic?

But of course the review won't post till May first because I can't break my own Tudor Mania Challenge rules. (The Burton jinx rising its ugly head). The book was originally supposed to be out May 1, but Amazonian gods have moved up to April 27th. But May 1st also holds great promise for the author as she gets married that day..Congrats to her.. (don't do it!!) and may she live happily ever after to pen many more Tudoresque novels!

After I finished that read, I was on a book-high and needed some book encouragement to keep it going so I ordered two books from BookDepository UK and finally finally ordered the elusive missing piece to my Plaidy collection. Am I complete now that I have ordered The Sun in Splendour? Well gosh darn I really think I amthisclose!! I am going to have to thank the expert Plaidy ladies at Royal-intrigue for their help with organizing the collection and continuing to inspire me with their posts. My list of Plaidy aka Victoria Holt aka Philippa Carr titles can be found here. I have all of Victoria Holt, and missing two of the more expensive Carr's. After my book order comes in for The Sun in Splendour, I will own all of the Plaidy's that fit into a series; but it looks like I am missing about 11 of the Other Titles. Now, I just need to find the time to read them. Along with my Tudor reading challenge, there is the Jean Plaidy Reading Challenge that other Plaidy lovers need to join in on.

If you have the 532 page tome Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel on your shelf and have yet to read it, that would be perfect for the Tudor Mania Challenge.. but you can also participate in a read along at Amused By Books. Their goal is to get 100 pages read each week and discuss it each Wednesday. Also amusing is that they mention Oliver Cromwell as opposed to the true protagonist who is Thomas Cromwell, but hey it's a great idea, and perfect timing with this challenge!

And just when you think you cannot handle another challenge.. there is a new Daphne Du Maurier Challenge that I wish I could participate in. I have about 5 or 6 works of hers at this point. Book-A-Rama has the details here if you interested!

The winner of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn is Bethie.. the very last entrant wound up #1 on the List Randomizer! Congrats to Bethie! And I am having issues uploading pics to Blogger, how fun is that?

There was some odd blogging plagiarism controversy thing going on again.. what is wrong with people who still do that, I wonder? Don't they realize that they will get caught? We were treated to many bloggers explaining the word plagiarism and posting the definitions of plagiarism and teaching others how to spell plagiarism. While I would never condone plagiarism, and had one of the respected 'bloggers' in my historical fiction community be plagiarized, I understand the outburst of rage at this sickness that some have. But I always find it so fascinating how some book bloggers feed off each other each time there is a controversy in the community. It is like there is a fire in the blogosphere, and a blogger comments on a post, then decides to do their own post, and it moves on like a chain letter.. utilizing the viral twitter and facebook as a source to spread these links to these posts.. but the most best thing I can find about it is that it thankfully dies away in a week. Hopefully. I would not mind my book reviews being caught up in a viral chain letter!

How fun it is to be a book blogger. I feel that it is awesome to be privy to so many diverse thoughts, at the tips of my finger tips, whether I want to or not, and whether I agree with it or not.. it's there. Just like there is a Twitter + Blog = ? post at this blog which has already gotten lots of thoughts, and she muses whether Twitter contributes to the attacking mentality. But there were lots of issues there. I have a feeling that I would be chewed up and spit out by a majority of the book bloggers out there if I ever tried to have one of these serious discussions, but I find extreme comfort in the fact that I have my own book blogging homegirls who would pick the remnants of me up after that happened. And that's what it is all about, right? Finding solace and kinship with others. Being nice to your neighbors. More power to the bloggers who spread the love. More power to the Power bloggers!

For me.. I stay out of it as much as possible. I blog for FUN. (I type that as my ARC pile laughs at me). OK, let's say this blog is supposed to BE FUN. I am a member of a certain community that hugs me when I am in need of virtual care. No, this does not include the whole entire million of book bloggers out there who don't know me from a hole in the wall. I have a select few book blogging friends that I have been blessed with that I know will have my back if need be, and I love them to pieces. And they know who they are. And I am so glad that we don't have blogging controversy blow ups like some others do, because that is just not something I thrive on. I hate controversy. I think I must be the Beatles version compared to the Metallica of book bloggers. And I want to make it clear that I don't think it's wrong for bloggers to discuss controversial things going on in the blogworld. I just find it amazing how it goes viral so fast. Just think, who would've thought, ten years ago, that book blogging would be such a powerhouse? Again, more power to them and us. I am not into picking apart other people's brains. I am just a humble book blogger. I review books and spout out random thoughts for Sunday Salon Amusement. And I (want to) have fun doing it so that's as far as I will take it because that's all my feeble brain can handle. The End.

Not really. That being said, scroll your tired eyes over to my left sidebar and see the current book giveaway going on for The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview. I am really saddened by the lack of response to this giveaway! I loved this book so you are really missing out on a great read. I am going to be REALLY mad at you if you don't enter and comment on my newest fave read by D.L. Bogdan, for which the giveaway is coming on Tuesday. And take a gander over at the newest review that I posted of Christy English's The Queen's Pawn. There is a very intriguing back story behind Eleanor of Aquitaine's almost-daughter-in-law, Alais, and you need to read this new book and learn all about it.

One more thing.. Beverly Cleary turned 94 years old last week! Her book Beezus and Ramona is being made into a movie in July, and it stars that cute girl from Wizards of Waverly Place. My daughter can tell you her name, I've blocked it out after seeing her cute little face all over my daughter's wardrobe and various accessories. But.. the idea that there will be a Bev Cleary movie is awesome, coming from this Cleary fan.

Suggestion to the official Google Blogger platform: put bloggers in your spellcheck database.

Off to chase kids.. or ideally, read a great book.. I have just finished By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan and working on that review. Next I will read Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event May 8th. I suspect this will be a book you will see all around the blogosphere in May! What are you reading? I hope it's something Tudor themed for the Tudor Mania Challenge!

Apr 23, 2010

Book Review: The Queen's Pawn by Christy English

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade; Original edition (April 6, 2010)
ISBN: 978-0451229236
Review Copy provided by the author, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:

At only nine, Princess Alais of France is sent to live in England until she is of age to wed Prince Richard, son of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Alais is an innocent pawn on the chessboard of dynastic marriage, her betrothal intended to broker an uneasy truce between the nations.

Estranged from her husband, Eleanor sees a kindred spirit in this determined young girl. She embraces Alais as a daughter, teaching the princess what it takes to be a woman of power in a world of men. But as Alais grows to maturity and develops ambitions of her own, Eleanor begins to see her as a threat-and their love for each other becomes overshadowed by their bitter rivalry, dark betrayals, conflicting passions, and a battle for revenge over the throne of England itself.

The novel of The Queen's Pawn begins later in Queen Eleanor's life, in 1169 after she has given birth to the famous sons of King Henry II and where Eleanor is beginning to turn those sons against the king. Alais is a young woman seeking knowledge and soaking it all up from Eleanor, and Eleanor is one who intends to use everyone around Eleanor to her and her son's advantage. Although her favorite son Richard is not the eldest son, Eleanor has high hopes that Richard will go far, especially with Eleanor's duchy of Aquitaine. Putting her pawn, Alais, right in Richard's path she hopes to reap the rewards. As opposed to the many political and familial problems that Eleanor both created and endured, this story is focused on the one relationship between Eleanor and Alais, and ultimately the triangle to include Henry II. Eleanor had always thought of herself as the one single female in the kingdom who was able to balance power and keep kings and princes under her thumb, with the ladies bowing low before her. The one female who could glean this power and match wits with was none other than young Alais, Princess of France.

The events of this story are told in alternating first person narration by Alais and Eleanor, which can be irritating to some as it does not allow for a broad view in historical context. Back and forth the story went, from Eleanor conniving silently against her husband King Henry II, and Alais watching and learning from Eleanor. When Alais and the King meet, there are immediate sexual sparks which became a focus for Alais and in fact this liaison may have historical truth to it. I hoped, and Eleanor hoped, that Alais would marry Richard soon and solidify the alliance to move against the king. Henry had sunk his teeth into Alais, however, and was loathe to let her go, especially to a renegade son. Another topic regarding infidelity concerns the repeated references to Eleanor and her previous lover, Raymond, which I would like to believe is untrue, but was mentioned more than once. I wonder how much more we will learn about this paticular relationship in English's next Eleanor book, which is about Eleanor's life in earlier times. I have a read a few books with Eleanor featured, and my favorites are still the trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman which starts with When Christ and His Saints Slept.

In Christy English's novel, Eleanor is portrayed as calculating and manipulative, while Alais takes awhile to show how much she has learned from Eleanor. It also takes some time before Eleanor's character develops into a likable one, yet can be admired for her strength and will power. Eleanor truly sees Alais as her own daughter, and treats her as one. She loves her as much as she loves her boys, yet she is shrewd enough to position Alais into an advantageous position for Eleanor's political needs. The characterizations were well done with the group, and kept true to form and popular belief. The story itself that includes Alais is told in such a way that I have not encountered before and intrigued me with the insights Alais' view offered. History shows Alais being a ward of Eleanor and Henry, and Henry not willing to give her up. The novel peaks when Alais feels forced to make a decision between Eleanor and Henry, and the effects can be volcanic when dealing with this power couple. This is a very interesting story on Alais and one that is not seen often. For that reason, I would recommend it as it is a very interesting piece of a much larger story.

The author provides a quick read that started off questionable for me (the repeated references to how one's eyes looked quickly grew tiresome) but the actual storyline picked up its pace quickly enough to hold my attention for the remainder of it. The alternating narratives flowed well and I was not perturbed whenever it changed to the other person, and unlike some reads the timeline always moved forward instead of rehashing some of the same recent events, maintained a cohesiveness with it. There is also a lot of sex involved as Alais gives herself to the King but it is not over done, but done a lot (does that make sense?), as being a mistress to a king would inevitably be. Those looking for more substantial information regarding the turmoil of these medieval times concerning the uprisings against Henry will be disappointed; Richard was the only offspring that was mentioned often as he was betrothed to Alais, and John was only there as a young boy worshipful to his father. The eldest son Henry was mentioned only several times, so this is not another Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine Saga that some may assume. This is not a story that readers would particularly enjoy if they want as much factual information as possible but still is a read that can be enjoyed by those who are both new or old to the Eleanor story.

I really enjoyed the way that English wrote the relationship between the queen and the princess, and the love of a mother for the daughter; this was its most endearing part for me. Christy English's debut novel fills in the gaps that history provides concerning Alais, Princess of France, Countess of Vexin, and offers an excellent imaginary tale of intrigue, suspense, envy and power. I think this shows much promise of a new historical fiction author and I look forward to the next installment.

 The Queen's Pawn is available now for purchase!
Read a review at from a not new to Eleanor reader.
Read a review at Historically Obsessed, from a new to Eleanor reader.

Apr 21, 2010

Suggested Reading for the Tudor Mania Challenge

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
My best fan forever, Lucy of Enchanted by Josephine, wondered what Tudor-themed reads I could recommend for my upcoming Tudor Mania Challenge. See the post here at this link that details all the Challenge details and rules. The post that you are reading right now is just for suggestions. The main thing to remember is that there will be prizes, and your reads can be either Fiction or Non-Fiction, reviews must be posted between May 1 - July 31, and the reads must land somewhere between 1485 and 1603 during the reign of the Tudors.

Tudor Mania Button

Please know that no one in their right mind would be expected to read even a 1/4 of these for the challenge. This is just everything that I can think of to include. And if you are like me, you may have some of these books in your library at home, and more than likely you will be able to find some of these at your local library if you don't already own some. These pictures are from my own shelves, and this post and the pics are just an example of choices to pick from to read for my Tudor Mania Challenge. Of course there are titles that I have NOT listed that would qualify for the Challenge, so please feel free to choose ANY Tudor Themed books for the challenge.

Some titles by Jean Plaidy that would work are:
Tudor Themed Jean Plaidy books from my shelves
Uneasy Lies the Head  (reprinted as To Hold the Crown)
Katharine the Virgin Widow(included in reissue titled Katherine of Aragon)
The Shadow of the Pomegranate (included in Katherine of Aragon)
The King’s Secret Matter  (included in Katherine of Aragon)
Murder Most Royal
St. Thomas’s Eve (reissued as The King's Confidante)
The Sixth Wife
The Thistle and the Rose
Mary, Queen of France
The Spanish Bridegroom (reprinted as For a Queen’s Love)
Gay Lord Robert  (reprinted as A Favorite of the Queen)
In The Shadow of The Crown
The Lady in the Tower
Queen of this Realm
The Rose Without a Thorn
The Royal Road to Fotheringhay
The Captive Queen of Scots

Written by Victoria Holt, aka Jean Plaidy:
My Enemy The Queen
Daughter of Satan

New Tudor Fiction that I am reading for the challenge:
Secrets of the Tudor Courts by D.L. Bogdan 
No Will But His by Sarah A. Hoyt
Tudor Themed reads include C.J. Sansom's Shardlake series

Tudor Fiction that I have not reviewed here, but would work well as I have read some of these, in no order:
The Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (2003)
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory (2008)
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory (2006)
The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory (2005)
The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory (2005)
A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Tudor Women Series) by Laurien Gardner
Plain Jane: A Novel of Jane Seymour (Tudor Women Series) by Laurien Gardner
The Spanish Bride: A Novel of Catherine of Aragon (Tudor Women Series) by Laurien Gardner
Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir
The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)
The Concubine: A Novel by Norah Lofts
The King's Pleasure: A Novel of Katharine of Aragon by Norah Lofts
Here Was a Man: A Novel of Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth I by Norah Lofts
King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Margaret Campbell Barnes
My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes
The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper
The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin
The King's Daughter. A Novel of the First Tudor Queen  by Sarndra Worth
The Secret Bride: In The Court of Henry VIII by Diane Haeger
The Virgin Queen's Daughter: A Novel by Ella March Chase
Virgin: Prelude to the Throne by Robin Maxwell
Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell
The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson
Tudor themed reads from authors like David Starkey and Robin Maxwell

A sampling of some Tudor-themed books I have read previously that are linked to my reviews, alphabetical:

Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Mary Tudor by Julianne Lee (2009)
Secrets of The Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace by Kate Emerson (2009)
Secrets of The Tudor Court: Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson (2009)
St. Thomas's Eve aka The King's Confidante by Jean Plaidy (reissued in 2009)
The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy (2009)
The Captive Queen of Scots by Jean Plaidy (reissue 2006)
The Other Queen by Philipa Gregory (2009)
The Royal Road to Fotheringay by Jean Plaidy (1969)
The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York by Margaret Campbell Barnes (reissue 2009)
The Queen's Mistake: A Novel by Catherine Howard by Diane Haeger (2009)
Young Bess by Margaret Irwin (reissue 2010)

Tudor Non-Fiction, linked to my reviews:
Arbella by Sarah Gristwood (2005)
Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder by Mary S. Lovell (2007)
Elizabeth's Women:The Hidden Story of The Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman (2009)
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir (2009)
Try Alison Weir for both non-fiction and fiction, or anything Elizabeth I related

 Non-Fiction Recommendations, some of which are on my TBR list for the challenge:
JANE SEYMOUR by Elizabeth Norton
MARY BOLEYN by Josephine Wilkinson
CATHERINE PARR by Elizabeth Norton
HENRY VIII: The Tudor Tyrant by Richard Rex
THE LAST DAYS OF HENRY VIII by Robert Hutchinson

Try some obscure Edward VI non fiction, or there are always your old standby's for fiction like Philippa Gregory
Do you have any suggestions to add to the list for those who are looking for Tudor Reads?
The goal is that on the Challenge post we build up a long Master List of reviews for Tudor themed reads!

Apr 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday~ Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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!

Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan (April 27, 2010)

I stand with Frances now. At the other executions - imagine I can say that, as I have attended so many now!- I would bury my head in Surrey's shoulder and clutch his hand as I heard that sound, that sound that never really evacuates the consciousness, steel cutting through flesh and bone and muscle. Now I must be here for his wife; I must be the strong one.
- page 276 Advance copy

Apr 19, 2010

Giveaway and Interview: Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins series

Monday, April 19, 2010
The Darcy Cousins

One might reasonably expect that a young lady dispatched in disgrace across the Atlantic to England would strive to behave with decorum, but Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin. And Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper," Mrs. Jenkinson, simply… vanishes.

In this tale of friendship, rebellion, and love, two young women entering Society forge a strong connection. A connection that is sorely tested when they both set out to win the heart of a most dashing—and dangerous— gentleman.

Book One: The Other Mr Darcy (2009)

Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

"In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?"

Please welcome Monica Fairview to The Burton Review, again!
See a guest post written by Monica for her previous release of The Other Mr. Darcy

Monica Fairview is Regency romance writer. As a literature professor, she enjoyed teaching students to love reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized that what she really, really wanted to do was to write books herself. She lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston as a student and professor, and now lives in London. For more information, please visit

 Monica Fairview Interview, author of The Darcy Cousins:

1.Welcome back to The Burton Review, Monica! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I truly enjoyed your second book that follows the Darcy cousins (my review is here). Tell us about what the reaction seems to be from classic Austen fans who are new to adaptations and sequels?

The reviews of The Other Mr. Darcy have generally been very positive, and The Jane Austen Centre in Bath will be taking up the paperback edition (which just came out in the UK) of The Other Mr. Darcy to sell in their gift shop, which is quite delightful. Beyond that, there isn’t any way to know if Jane Austen purists are interested in Austenesque sequels in general. I do hope they’re out there reading The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins.

2. Rest assured that I am one of those who are reading and enjoying your sequels! What have been your favorite Austen movie adaptations and why; fave actors and actresses. If your books were made into movies, who would you choose to star?

I’m a Colin Firth fan through and through, because I think he captures the hauteur of Mr Darcy very well. Macfadyen does a great job as a tormented soul, and he’s more expressive, but he doesn’t convey repressed-passion- simmering-under-the-surface as Firth does. Jennifer Ehle is a playful Elizabeth with a twinkle in her eyes, and I love that aspect of the film. Keira Knightly’s pouting is a bit overdone, I find. However, the 2005 film has the advantage of being more realistic, and more accurate historically. There are wonderful subtle touches like the fact that at Netherfield we see only male servants, which of course conveys wealth, since male servants were more expensive to keep. Lydia is more of a typical teen, which I think goes a long way to explain her behavior, and absent-minded Mr. Bennet is very appealing.

If The Darcy Cousins were made into a movie, I would love to see Jonny Lee Miller as Gatley (he was brilliant in the new production of Emma). Emma Watson fits in with my image of Georgiana, and Carey Mulligan (with darker hair) would be very effective as Clarissa.

3.I adored Miller in the new Emma as well. I quickly became a new fan of his and would love to see Miller play Mr Gatley, he would be delightful! Back to books, tell us some reliable resources as research for your books.

Because of the way I write my books, I tend to go for primary rather than secondary sources. For example, because I wanted to get a sense of how an American would be perceived in England, and how she would perceive England for The Darcy Cousins, I was fortunate enough to find a memoir by Joseph Ballard called England in 1815 as seen by a Young Boston Merchant. This was a wonderful resource as it outlined some of the important events of the year, and really gave me an insight into what things would stand out to someone coming from Boston to England. It was perfect for its purpose. I also went through a diary written by a young school-girl in Boston, Anna Green Winslow, written in 1771. It’s set quite a few years before Clarissa was a schoolgirl, but it gave me a very good sense of how differently the young ladies in Boston were raised from their counterparts in England, since the Puritan ethic was very clearly visible, despite Anna Green’s interest in fashionable pursuits. I don’t emphasize this in The Darcy Cousins, but it’s there, as a background to Clarissa, a reminder that young ladies of Boston were not actually any freer than those in London.

I’m giving these sources as examples because I wanted to illustrate why the references I read wouldn’t necessarily be of general interest. I wouldn’t recommend them for casual reading, though they’re of great value for a historical writer. I’m a big fan of primary sources. Ultimately, if you want to know Jane Austen, it’s good to read books about her. It would certainly reveal aspects of her life or writing that you wouldn’t get to know otherwise, but nothing beats going over her novels with a fine tooth comb.

4.What are the ultimate goals for you if the sky were the limit?

Well, my goal is to be a very successful writer. I wouldn’t mind being on a few bestseller lists :-) But really, I’m very pleased with the way things have been working so far.

5. You are on a great roll with your recent sequels! Besides Austen, who do you like to read for fun?

I’m an avid but eclectic reader. For Regency, I love Georgette Heyer, Julia Quinn, Jo Beverley and a host of others. Other “popular classics” I enjoy are Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, and Anya Seton. I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, especially classic authors such as Ursula Le Guin and CJ Cherryh. I pick up current bestsellers arbitrarily – I’m drawn as much by their style as the content. I just read Paullina Simon’s The Bronze Horseman and loved it, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Outlander, Winter in Madrid. If I could read all day I would, but alas, the day is too short.

6.You touched on the Book Blogger Mantra there! So many books, etc... Please share with us, who is your muse?

It depends on what I’m writing, really. Style and rhythm are important to me, and often a particular writer will strike a cord so I’ll keep one of the books next to my bedside to dip into arbitrarily. When I’m writing Austenesque, I immerse myself in Austen, books, films, audios – anything to make sure that voice stays in my head.

7.What has been your greatest obstacle in your writing endeavors?

Wanting to do too many things and ending up doing a bit of each. I’d like to write in a variety of genres, though Regency is my favorite. I also would like to write children’s books, futuristic romance, and humorous contemporary. Impossible to do everything.

8.What has been one your accomplishments that you are proud of?

I graduated from college when I was 19, and I got my PhD when I was 24. I’m pretty proud of that.

9. A wonderful accomplishment! That definitely is something to be very proud of! And finally… please tell us what you are working on next for us readers!

At the moment I’m taking a break from Regency and Austenesque and working on a novel from a different time period. Once that’s done, I have plans to continue the story of Clarissa Darcy, and maybe of Frederick as well. My mind is full of plans. It’s a matter of finding the time to write!

So little time.. again I thank Monica for sparing us some time in her busy life! I would love to read what is in store for Clarissa! 

And now for the bonus: Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway of Monica Fairview's newest release, The Darcy Cousins : 2 winners, US and Canada only! (no po boxes please).

Please enter for the giveaway by leaving me an answer to the following question with your Email Address:
What has been your favorite Austen-inspired Sequel or Adaptation (movie or book)?

+2 for leaving a graphic link to this post on your sidebar.

Ends April 30th. Good luck!

Apr 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Sunday, April 18, 2010
Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that 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.

 Exploring Mailbox Mondays across the blogosphere will lead to toppling wishlists and to-be-read-piles! But it's the thrill of the chase that counts!

Books that found there way to my house included:

The Spanish Inquisition (non-fiction trilogy) by Jean Plaidy
1994 special issue by Barnes & Nobles, a hardcover in Brand new shape! The binding is beautiful and the book looks hardly touched, which is awesome for buying it cheap ($7 total with the shipping!) from an unknown used bookstore online.

"The complete story of one of history's most appalling tyrannies, begun in 1232 and destined to survive in one form or another into the 19th century. Vivid portraits of the fanatical Inquisitors and their hapless victims."

Also for my Plaidy/Carr/Holt library:

The Song of the Siren "As England erupts in violent Jacobite upheaval, two half-sisters-one of surprising beauty and untamed spirit; the other plain, shy and dutiful-vie for the love of a man and the life of a child..."

Midsummer's Eve "Annora Cadorson lived in Cornwell--on the Eversleigh estate right next to Rolf Hanson. Even after she sees him lead villagers in tormenting a suspected witch, she is still attracted to him. Then on a trip to Australia, Annora loses her father in an accident, and her heart to a former convict. But Rolf takes her back to Eversleigh to protect her estate from plunder."

The Changeling "Lavishly entwined narrative of the families connected to Benedict Lansdon, now a recently bereaved widower, absentee father and wealthy seeker of a Parliament seat. Narrated by Benedict's aggrieved stepdaughter, Rebecca, this complex tale of love and betrayal concerns a three-cornered sibling relationship involving Rebecca, her half-sister, Belinda and Lucie, a country waif informally adopted by Benedict. Aware that her father blames her for her mother's death in childbirth, Belinda takes refuge in mischievous behavior. Placid Lucie, however, fits in well with the family, though her lineage is suspect and clouded with mysterious events at St. Branok's pool. Although Belinda seems the most obvious ``changeling,'' Carr sustains an air of doubt and intrigue. The ambiance of the Cornish countryside and of Victorian London permeate this piquantly Gothic family saga."

Voices in a Haunted Room "Raised in the grand chateau of Tourville, lovely young Claudine, with her widowed mother, had fled the solitude of the French countryside as revolution torched it, sparking flames that would forever alter the landscape, their destiny, and the face of history itself.

Warmly ensconced and safe from harm in her mother's ancestral English home, Claudine discovers a new kind of danger; turning ripe and sensuous overnight, she is torn between the love of her new stepbrothers -- David, steady, scholarly, the perfect husband . . . if not the lover of her dreams; and Jonathon, so passionate, so willing to dare, far from the perfect husband, but as her first and foremost love, unsurpassed. Theirs is an amorous triangle that will burn bright through the years when England and all Europe struggle in a tyrant's grasp, till a moment on a rocky beach when one of the two men Claudine adores falls victim to a power beyond destiny."

Also from Paperbackswap:
Signora Da Vinci (2009) by Robin Maxwell, (a fantastic person as well as I own all 8 of her books)
"Following the "absolutely superb" Mademoiselle Boleyn, novelist Robin Maxwell delves into the life of Caterina-the adventurer, alchemist, and mother of Leonardo da Vinci. Caterina was fifteen years old in 1452 when she bore an illegitimate child in the tiny village of Vinci. His name was Leonardo, and he was destined to change the world forever. Caterina suffered much cruelty as an unmarried mother and had no recourse when her boy was taken away from her. But no one knew the secrets of her own childhood, nor could ever have imagined the dangerous and heretical scheme she would devise to protect and watch over her remarkable son. This is her story."

For Review from Sourcebooks, another great reissue:

Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester
To enhance my education on all things Regency and Austen-like, and to get me ready for Mesmered's Ball:
"Georgette Heyer fans will delight in Jennifer Kloester’s definitive guide to her Regency world: the people, the shops, clubs and towns they frequented, the parties and seasons they celebrated, how they ate, drank, dressed, socialized, voted, shopped and drove. A fun read for any Heyer fan."

And I purchased online a fantastic edition to go with last week's Collectors Library Purchase:
Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1928) "The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper-class husband, Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed and rendered impotent. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. This novel is about Constance's realization that she cannot live with the mind alone; she must also be alive physically."
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (c. 1961)orsyte family tree on endpapers; Comprises three complete novels The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920) and To Let (1921) "A social satire of epic proportions, convincing in its fidelity to life and a work of art. Advances the theme of beauty trapped in a world of material complacency. To read this is to glimpse a picture of an unforgettable family in a brilliant era. 715 pp. and includes a matching ribbon marker."

"Since the time of Washington Irving, the short story has been the vehicle for many of America's best prose writers, eventually evolving into a distinct form of American expression and storytelling. Sixty-three classic works by 63 American masters of the short story are included in this diverse collection (some of the selections rarely included in an anthology). Writers include Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving, Herman Melville, Henry James, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, John Cheever, Dorothy Parker, LeRoi Jones, Ann Beattie, Nancy Potter, James Baldwin, O. Henry, and many more. All the selections deliver to the reader a sense of the richness and variety of the short story in American literature."

Elizabeth the Great by Elizabeth Jenkins "This landmark biography gives an intimate portrait of the enigmatic Virgin Queen"

I snagged some London/UK travel books at a garage sale for dirt cheap. I love seeing the photos and reading about the history and renovations of the castles that frequent my HF reads!  Books I found were In & Around London; Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle, Glasgow, Robert Burns: Scotland

Apr 17, 2010

The Suddenly Sunday Salon..Vanilla Bean Latte Yummm

Saturday, April 17, 2010
The Sunday

Happy Sunday! Grab your mug of cocoa/coffee/tea, click the pics to visit other virtual reading rooms.. tell us..what are you reading this week??

Hello there, my little sugar puffs. Did you miss me last week? I was busy being me and I added some little decorations to my blog instead of doing a Salon. Do you notice the changes? Since I've only had a comment from my very biggest bestest fan ever and one other who likes my header, I must take that as an answer that not many like the fairies and all that jazz. Yes, I know, I am supposed to be a very intensely very serious book blogger. Well, ppphhhhmmmppphh is what I say. I get bored easy so I'll change it again someday, but for now, you are stuck with it. The moment I turn into a literary expert who gets paid for her opinions I'll make it look more professional. Basically, when the cow jumps over the moon.

Has the Spring Fever bug bitten you yet? Yes, it definitely has over here in the sunny bright state of Texas. I am enjoying the outdoors on the weekends with the kiddos as they run around and lose calories. You'll see me watching from the shaded patio with some sort of extra fattening substance like an iced coffee or frappe or latte with the accompanying Twinkie. Oh well, you only live once and I think my husband should be really grateful that he had the honor of a skinny wife for so many years... till now....muuaaah haaa haaa haaaaa.
{My new Drug of Choice}
I have really big dreams of exercising someday, but wearing 3" inch heels and carrying heavy 3" binders around at work is pretty much all the strenuous activity I have allowed in my life for the past six years. Yeah, okay, so maybe I am in a rut.. and hullo let me scream it really loud so y'all can hear me: BLOGGER BURN OUT!!

That's me. The poster child.

So if you don't see me around too much.. it's just because I have really had too much overload and my brain has turned into scrambled eggs (there I go thinking about food again!). I don't have any more reviews in the wings waiting to be published.. so it'll be sparse around here. Which I don't think you'll miss me much anyway. I do read your blog posts on the google reader during commercials, so I'll still be lurking.

And so with the blogging that has sizzled and fizzled this last week has dealt with the Round Table event for Claude and Camille... the fantastic novel on the love between.. well you know who.. and there were TWO giveaways.

The beautiful hardcover giveaway of Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell, who  honored my readers with a great guest post here, is going to .... Sandra K321

And the Monet prize pack Goodies from me to you that was alongside my review goes to.... Bekah

 A favorite book for me this year, titled THE KITCHEN HOUSE (my review), went up for grabs also along side a great Guest Post..

I have two lucky winners for this achingly inspiring haunting book.. and these two lucky folks are....


So if you didn't win these..(those with no email addresses were disqualified)  and you are aching to see you name being typed out by me as a winner at The Burton Review.. then run on over to enter my Book Giveaway for Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn. You know you want to. So here is your chance.

Besides that.. I caught up with some reviews of titles that were great additions to my library.
A fave of 2010 is The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees and you can see my review here if you missed the post.

I also reviewed The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent. I know you all have seen this book around and around and around the blogosphere.. and it was for good reason. It was a great debut for Christine! She is hard at work at future novels, so you'd better hurry up and read this so you can keep up with her.

Also late this week I reviewed a witty and charming sequel by Monica Fairview, titled The Darcy Cousins. You may have heard of Monica, as I have reviewed her first Darcy book and had a guest post from her. She will return on Monday as part of her blog tour with a quick interview and yes, another giveaway for my lucky lucky followers. This is one of those Austen sequels that will always remain among my favorites.

The review posting of The Darcy Cousins marks 23 reviews published here in 2010. For 108 days, that makes about 5 days that it has been taking for me to read and review a book. Ok so let's say that I have 20 books in my review pile, which now includes already released books, and most to be released in the very near future. That equals 94 more days that I am still going to be stuck under this review pile. Gag. Choke. Cry.

Moving on after I dab at my eyes and blow my nose, what's next for me? I am reading the super nice Christy English's The Queen's Pawn. I have been so negative feeling lately though that I have not really given myself a chance to read much. Such as at lunch instead of reading I've been leafing through home improvement magazines. Bad book blogger! Anyhoooo, this book is about Eleanor of Aquitaine and she is depicted in a way that I haven't read yet, so it is different for me. I believe I've said this statement four or five times already, but in case you missed it: Eleanor is going to have a banner year with a few new novels, so I am sure there will be more than one interpretation of her character this year.

So.. looking for new bedroom sets, and we have a new padded King mattress, which means California King sheets must be found. I saw these really fun sets that The Duchess of Devonshire's blog, where these awesome sets are from Wake Up Frankie but only available in smaller sizes. Waah. So does anyone know where to get awesome sets like this for king size beds?
I have a PILE of ARC's. I might get satisfaction from seeing them get thrown into a bonfire.. but no, I won't. But they also won't be reviewed on time either. Sue me. I wish Sourcebooks would just stop reissuing all those fantastic historicals and making me review them. Ha. Kidding, of course. I just have zero will power.

One thing I am looking forward to (which will also put a dent in my Review Pile of Hell) is the TUDOR MANIA CHALLENGE!!!!!!! This begins in just a few short weeks. See the full post here. There is a little green button in the navigation bar above, and also the button is linked from the sidebar. I'll give you virtual hugs and kisses if you would be so kind as to post about the challenge on your own blog, and you can grab the button and all the corresponding information from the main post. Are you READY to win?!

In other news, I've been working my tushy off (unfortunately that's only figurative). I haven't had a vacation since 2004 and I think I am long overdue. There was a break in 2006 where I did take a week off, and worked around the house, etc. Then of course I had maternity leave in 2007 as a result of that wonderful break in 2006 and the etc part. But I don't count that as a vacation. Yes folks, I really need to get out of town. Preferably without the devil's spawn my kiddos.

I went garage sale hopping with my marmee, and I found some more books.. and some that are from London etc that were travel type books. They have maps of castles and other great things like a Robert Burns in Scotland book, a book on Glasgow and my favorite was The Windsor Castle. I will have fun perusing these reads. I also found a framed poster print of a Monet work! I couldn't pass it up! ($2.00!)

Oh, did you see the PBS Masterpiece last Sunday, about Anne Frank? I cried like a baby. We all know what is going to happen, but it just doesn't seem to make it any better when you get to the tragic end. The actress seemed perfect for the part of Anne Frank.

I think I need some good comedic relief in my life right now. Seinfeld..or me looking in the mirror.. oh wait, that is depressing.. let's stick to Seinfeld. And chocolate cake. Frappucino, anyone?

Apr 16, 2010

Book Review: The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003
Review copy provided by the publisher
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars!
One might reasonably expect that a young lady dispatched in disgrace across the Atlantic to England would strive to behave with decorum, but Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin. And Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper," Mrs. Jenkinson, simply… vanishes.

In this tale of friendship, rebellion, and love, two young women entering Society forge a strong connection. A connection that is sorely tested when they both set out to win the heart of a most dashing—and dangerous— gentleman.

Regency readers have come to enjoy the genre due to its wit, charm, and traditional elegance with humorous maladroitness all bundled up into one happy novel. Monica Fairview seems to have a found a corner on this market, as she has succeeded her first Darcy novel with The Darcy Cousins with as much Regency flair as her first (The Other Mr Darcy), yet with even more improvement. This read was highly enjoyable and kept me intrigued throughout as the younger Darcy cousins, from America no less, wreaked havoc on England's society and especially at Rosings Park with the imperious Lady Catherine.

In the first novel, Mr. Robert Darcy is introduced as Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy's American cousin. With this novel, we are treated to Robert's younger brother and sister, close to the age of Miss Georgiana Darcy, the original Darcy's younger sister. We see much less of Robert and Caroline in this storytelling however. Clarissa, the new cousin, becomes quite close to Georgiana, and the two young ladies prepare to start their social season together. But, in all due haste all sorts of chaos occurs which effects many of the characters that are new and old to us. Lady Catherine is still true to form with her stubborn pride, and her weak daughter Anne is featured as well. Darcy and Lizzy (called Elizabeth throughout the novel) are also secondary characters throughout, as Elizabeth is supposed to chaperone Georgiana around town.

We are treated to Mr Collins and Charlotte as well, as the Easter holidays are required to be spent with the haughty Lady Catherine at Rosings. The infinite tea soirees were tediously horrible for the younger ones and they could not wait to start their coming out season in London. The multiple characters were well rounded and fun to watch as they interacted with eachother, from the shy Georgiana to the insolent Clarissa and more than one proposal in one day, yet only from those gentlemen who ruffled our sensitivities. Sunny days and boat trips turned into unladylike toes trying to be hidden and stockings being stuffed into reticules amongst hankies. Once we have maintained our hold on the characters, the story focuses on Georgiana for a time as she struggles with the object of her desire. We watch Georgiana take shape before our eyes, even though we tut-tutted some of her attitude, but we never lose faith in her.

Fairview impressively created new characters that blended seamlessly into the original story, though reading the first installment in the Cousin's series certainly helps. The characters of the two main love interests for the young ladies were a delight and left me in stitches, moreso than her first novel had. I laughed out loud several times throughout this read and after reading this second continuation by Fairview she is now my favorite Austen-inspired author outside of Georgette Heyer, although the newfound wit of Fairview echoes the charm of a Heyer. The Darcy Cousins is absolutely a must read for any Pride and Prejudice fan. My favorite scenes would always include the younger Darcy folk, and I truly enjoyed this continuation which would have made Jane Austen proud. I really hope that she continues with the Darcy series.

Read my review of Monica Fairview's previous novel The Other Mr. Darcy
See another review from someone quite proficient on the subject here at Austenprose, who is also fabulously famous now that she made it to this book's front cover stating "Monica Fairview is a skilled storyteller".

The author will visit the blog for a quick interview and giveaway on April 19th, so be sure to check back then!!

Apr 14, 2010

Book Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (April 1, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0399156526
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:five Big stars!

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O’Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa’s writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

Like so many other young readers, Louisa May Alcott was one of the first authors that I really connected with. For years after my first reading experience with Little Women, I counted Louisa May Alcott as my favorite author. I wrote countless book reports on her and beginning at age ten I read all of her major works from Little Women to Eight Cousins to Jack and Jill until I was about sixteen.

Within all of these works, there always seemed to be a slip of Louisa shining through, but I never really knew the author behind those words despite what facts I tried to glean from biographical sources. Those who enjoyed Little Women will enjoy this story of Louisa and her humble family as well, though this is told with more of the modern fashion of today and with a bit more of a depressive pall over the general story. The situation is very similar though, with the sisters' relationships and the era, which is depicted well in this new novel.

The poverty that Louisa's family faced was different then one would off-handedly assume. When one is thought of as being poor, we tend to think that the provider in the family is naturally doing everything in his power to achieve a better way of life for the family, yet perhaps circumstances have not been kind to them. That was not the case with the Alcotts. Louisa's father, Bronson, was a Transcendentalist, and did not believe in obtaining money for his speeches that he gave, and was against commercial gains. His family gave what they should have kept for themselves, as they were humble enough to realize that giving was better than receiving, even if they themselves did not have enough candles for the night or enough bread for the day.

From what I recall reading Louisa's writings many moons ago, her spirited wit and happiness within family and hope seemed to emanate throughout, even when there was destitution or poverty. Beginning to read McNees' telling, this story is at the point where Louisa and her sister Anna were in their early twenties living at home with the greatest hope of escaping. The vibrancy of childish hope is no longer at the forefront, s these girls are mature enough to realize the struggles that adulthood provides. This summer that the author writes of in this novel illustrated the inner struggles that the elder girls faced, as they were torn between their family loyalties and their wishes for a better life for themselves. Anna had hopes for a marriage and children, while Louisa aches for independence so that she can write her stories. Once Louisa meets Joseph Singer, Louisa is faced with the struggle between the romantic bliss of a new love which eludes to a promise of family, versus that very same independence that Louisa has worked towards for years and counted on as her way of life.

This story was extremely eloquent and reminiscent of Alcott's writing as I felt whisked away to her time period, and I was utterly bereft when the novel was over. It had me from the front cover. The novel focused on one aspect of Louisa's life that was entirely fictitious, but was still well worth my time. The fictitious aspect concerned a love affair with a gentle young man, who was ready to run away with Louisa and make a new life for the both of them. I fervently hoped that she would accept his love and run away with him so that she would be privy to the solace of a family of her own. But could Louisa have been satisfied with such a momentous decision?

I felt so close to Louisa through this author's re-imaginings and I wish the novel started out when Louisa was small and ended with Louisa's death. I still would have savored a thousand page book if told in the same fashion that this novel was told in. I highly recommend The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott to all fans of Louisa May Alcott and those who are interested late 1800's New England culture. The details of the way of life and the settings were wonderfully inserted and made for a piece of work that the private Louisa May Alcott would have been proud of. I even enjoyed the cover of the book, it was very well done and the chapters beginning with quotes and time periods were helpful for setting the stage. The chapters that began with a quote from Louisa's works made me realize I really need to go back and re-read her work. The one complaint is that it was entirely too short, but since it was a tale focused on summer love I understand the need for brevity. It felt like a minor blip in regards to the true scope of Louisa's life, and I still feel the need for more on Louisa for which I will read some other works such as Eden's Outcasts by John Matteson and March by Geraldine Brooks. Since it was so focused on a love story, I would also recommend this to chick-lit fans and is even appropriate for the Young Adult genre since it was such an easy read.

This was a fabulous debut novel for Kelly O'Connor McNees which makes me wonder what is next from her pen as I will be eager to read more from her. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a fantastic addition to my Louisa May Alcott library that totally exceeded my expectations. This is going on my Top Ten Faves of 2010 list.

Note to publicist: My apologies for not getting this review up sooner, I was working around the HF Bloggers Round Table events and the backlog of other reviews, but the good news is that my readers do not have to wait to get their hands on this fabulous book, it is available now!

Compare prices with various booksellers here or purchase from my amazon store here: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.