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Nov 30, 2012

The 2013 TBR Pile Challenge!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

When I first saw this challenge, I knew this was a challenge that I NEEDED to do. The goal is to pick 12 books from your personal collection that have been sitting there for over a year. Like our challenge host Adam at Roof Beam Reader, I am a sucker for a good looking book at the bookstore. If it looks like I would like to read it, I buy it. MUST STOP! What a fire hazard of paper my house has become. I keep collecting and collecting and piling and piling and piling till I give myself a panic attack when I am in line at the store and I wonder.. "Wait.. don't I have this already?!"

I've never really completed many challenges, especially when there is a lot of back and forth posting and jazz that I can't keep up with, but this one has to be done before I buy another book!! (yeah, right?!)

So, now is the time to pick twelve titles from our humongous list of books that have been slowly collecting dust for at least a year. And in case there is a dud among the group, we get to pick 2 alternates. This was SO HARD to do.. I mean committing to reading my own books finally?!?! I hope I chose well.

1. Legacy: The Acclaimed Novel of Elizabeth the Most Passionate Queen and the Three Men Who Loved Her by Susan Kay

2. Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan

3. Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick DONE!

4. The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey DONE!

5. The Miracle at St. Bruno's by Philippa Carr DONE!

6. The Bastard King by Jean Plaidy DONE!

7. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

8.  Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold

9. Frenchman's Creek by Daphne DuMaurier DONE!

10. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

11. To The Tower Born: A Novel of the Lost Princes by Robin Maxwell DONE!

12. Katherine by Anya Seton DONE!

ALTERNATES, just in case I need them...
1. With Violets by Elizabeth Robards
2. Eve of the Isle by Carol Rivers

This post will be updated as I read the above books which will then be linked up to the review. The Good Lord willing.

The books I've completed are:
Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick, published 2005

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier, originally published  1941

To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell, originally published 2005
The Miracle at St. Bruno's by Philippa Carr, published 1972

The Bastard King by Jean Plaidy, published 1977
The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey, published 2010
Katherine by Anya Seton, early 1950's

Nov 29, 2012

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Compelling tear jerker conclusion to a fantastic story!

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser (Secrets of the Cross Book #3)
David C Cook September 2012
Inspirational Fiction/romance
Review copy from several publisher sources ;) Thank you
Burton Book Review Rating: Favorite of Epic Favorites!

The Secrets of the Cross Trilogy by acclaimed author Elizabeth Musser, already a European bestseller, concludes with the American debut of Two Destinies, a story of forbidden love, passionate faith, danger, and intrigue. 
Now 1994, France faces unrest and rising poverty while neighbor Algeria is in the midst of a blood civil war. Risléne Namani, a French woman born to Algerian parents, converts to Christianity and falls in love with Eric Hoffmann, a Christian, committing the unpardonable sin in the eyes of her Muslim family. Eric must find a way to rescue her—from a forced marriage in Algeria, or even death. A powerful, relevant tale of social struggle, heartache, cultural conflict, and faith put to the ultimate test.
Read my previous review of books one and two

What a fabulous series (dabs eyes that it's over). There is so much packed into this, from multiple religious issues and faith questions, to the bonds of family through love, loss, grief, the promise of hope. And as this is book three in the trilogy, you absolutely MUST read the first two books in the series. The story flows fluidly from one novel to the next, there will not be an explanation of the character's or Algerian histories as it is assumed you have read the first two novels.

As expected with the descriptive names of previous titles of Two Crosses and Two Testaments in this Secrets of the Cross series, it is heavily centered around God and Allah and how the author's characters perceive Him. There is an abundance of tension that leads to warfare, and the next generation is still dealing with this in Two Destinies. Risléne is from a strict Muslim family, but has secretly converted to the Protestant faith and finds herself in love with Eric. Eric is the grown son of the previous characters of the prior books; there is quite a jump in the time line, but it still flows effortlessly as the story continues to enthrall Musser's fans. When Risléne's family discovers her ultimate deception and her family betrayal, they lead her through the dangerous areas of France just to keep her away from the Protestants. And now Eric MUST find her, or she will be married off to a Muslim and gone forever. Ophélie is back, and Samuel Cebrian, and even though there was a jump in time from book two to book three, we easily slide back into the frame of minds of all of these wonderful characters. But the story focuses on Ophélie and Sam, and Risléne and Eric as they try and discover their destinies.

Concurrent stories bleed through, some snippets from earlier unresolved story lines, and some new ones that keep us hoping there has to be something better for all of these many unforgettable characters. I would love to add some gushy mushy professional sounding critical statement about why you should read these books, but then again, given the religion-related content which includes terrorism, extremists, Islam and Christianity, I know that these novels may not be the first choice for you. If you are at all interested in learning of religious conflict while being captivated by a powerful web of characters who are fighting on multiple fronts, this is the trilogy for you.

I admit when I was offered the first two for review I was dismayed at the hugeness of the ugly galley things I had received, but once I dug in I was hooked by the theme of  love for God and the brutality of opposing terrorist forces. Book one, book two, and now book three which takes us generations through the sixties and nineties relays a story that should be heard. The author has opened up a whole new world for me which includes harkis, pied-noirs, and the turmoil of these characters - life and death - and the fact that this is based on the reality for these's just heavy stuff that I am so glad to have learned about in this compelling fictional telling. Powerful stuff, and a passionate story that I will never forget and will re-read when I get my own hard copies of the series. I've already added several other titles from Elizabeth Musser's work to my personal library based on the fantasticness of this Secrets of the Cross trilogy. Thank you to Mrs. Musser for  providing me with such an amazing reading experience.

Nov 26, 2012

Announcing the winner...

Monday, November 26, 2012
Thank you to everyone who is a new Email Subscriber to Burton Book Review as they signed up for their chance to win the box of books!! Just one shy of reaching 100 email subscribers!

I'll be doing a new Exclusive Email Subscriber Book Giveaway soon for my four year blogiversary, so please stick around. I just need to go through some of my shelves and pull some more books out. At this point I have been doing more collecting than reading, so I need to stop collecting and start reading! (Not to mention the multitude of eBooks that I've gotten this year!)

Here is the winner of the Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway!

Awesome iPhone pic of the computer

Colleen Turner! 

Congrats to you, Colleen! I hope you enjoy these reads! Send me your mailing address and I'll get these books out to you!

I normally do a Monday memes post today with what I've been reading, but since not a lot has changed from last week due to the holiday bustle I do not have much to report except for making my third goal of the Goodreads Reading Challenge..I had increased my quantity of books twice and now I have completed 75 books. Which is better than last year, so I am happy! I have been such a good girl since Summer to not accept review books, so now I can feel like I can relax. This year has really flown by, I cannot believe it's time to get out the Christmas decorations already!! 2013 will bring me the chance to read my collection of books that have accumulated over the last 4 years, and less review books again. I hope it will be a good reading year!

See you next time! Happy Cyber Monday!

Nov 23, 2012

Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway!

Friday, November 23, 2012
It's a book giveaway hop!

The hosts for this hop are Heather from Book Savvy Babe, Jenn from The Bawdy Book Blog, and Lisa from Alive on the Shelves

The dates: 12:01 AM Friday November 23 through 11:59 PM November 25.

I have linked up to this giveaway hop so I could get rid of  some of the books that have been read and are now collecting dust over the last few years. I've been double stacking books and I just can't handle the clutter!

GIVING AWAY these seven books to ONE lucky winner:

A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carol Eberhart
Wickham's Diary by Amanda Grange
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan
Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll
Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
This Must Be The Place by Kate Racculia 
Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows 

These are all gently read ARC's that were sent to me for review, click titles for my reviews. There's only one that I haven't reviewed here and that title is linked to a fellow blogger's review.

So here is a nice mix of Regency, women's general fiction, historical fiction etc for fellow readers!

RULES for entry:
Must be a follower, and please comment with your email so I can contact the winner, which will be on Monday. You have 24 hours to respond to my request for your mailing address.

Open to USA residents only, please.
1 mandatory entry is your comment with email address.
+5 if you are an Email Subscriber (link in left column)
+2 for each share of this post on twitter or facebook.
+2 if you are a participant who is also giving away books during this blog hop

I will use Randomizer to select the winner. You do not need to do separate comments.

Be sure to visit the rest of the participants in the Giveaway hop at Book Savvy Babe! Good luck!!

Nov 21, 2012

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
At Every Turn
Impetuous, naive Ally races to redemption...

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer
Bethany House, September 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Christian Historical Fiction
Review copy provided via the publisher, thank you!

She's off to the races!
Caught up in a whirlwind of religious enthusiasm, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. Now she just has to find a way to get the money. Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles, and she's spent many an afternoon driving around the rustic track in the field behind her home. When she discovers that her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events--races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money--she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to train and compete. But when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she realizes she may have trusted the wrong person with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her hasty promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?
The synopsis for this second novel by Anne Mateer uses the word 'impetuous' to describe our main protagonist, and that is exactly how I pictured her throughout the novel. She was so impetuous that I never really got to empathize with her at all, and it wasn't until the last third of the novel that I began to feel comfortable with the story.

The entire plot line follows Ally as she is trying to raise $3,000 in 1916 to offer to missionaries for their use in the Gold Coast of Africa. That was a huge sum that she pledged at a church meeting, but she thought her wealthy daddy would give her the money. Turns out Daddy doesn't have the same faith that Ally does so she is forced to do some fund raising by herself. She decides to race cars for the prize money (under disguise), and along the way she finds it difficult to hang on to her funds to begin with. The two romance angles are just waiting to collide, and throughout the novel the reader can guess what will happen with each new turn.. and it always felt like there was another predictable shoe to drop which simply made for uncomfortable reading.

The first novel by Anne Mateer, Wings of A Dream, also featured a strong-willed protagonist, but she didn't seem as naive as Ally did. I just could not condone some of the silly actions of Ally, and anticipating each twist in the story dulled the adventure for me. The first person narration didn't help endear me to Ally either, but the secondary characters helped round out the otherwise predictable story. I loved Webster Little, and Ally's grandmother, and the faith theme was very evident and sends a very good message about letting God lead the way instead of always doing it your own way. I am one of those readers that has to relate to the hero/heroine in order to fully appreciate the story, but this time I really just wanted to throttle Ally! She has charmed other readers though, so perhaps I was just in an impatient mood. The author's writing style in itself holds merit, but I would love to see her next story being told in third person to see how her writing develops.

Nov 18, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, November 18, 2012
Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted at Kathy's at during the month of November.

In the Mail....
A surprise, I think I got this as a Thank You from the new website of Novel Crossing (check that site out for Christian fiction, it's got tons of great reads there):

A Clearing in the Wild

A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick (2006)
Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of Bethel colony, an 1850s religious community in Missouri that is determined to remain untainted by the concerns of the world. A passionate and independent thinker, she resents the limitations placed on women, who are expected to serve in quiet submission. In a community where dissent of any form is discouraged, Emma finds it difficult to rein in her tongue–and often doesn’t even try to do so, fueling the animosity between her and the colony’s charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader, Wilhelm Keil. 

Eventually Emma and her husband, Christian, are sent along with eight other men to scout out a new location in the northwest where the Bethelites can prepare to await “the last days.” Christian believes they’ve found the ideal situation in Washington territory, but when Keil arrives with the rest of the community, he rejects Christian’s choice in favor of moving to Oregon.

Emma pushes her husband to take this opportunity to break away from the group, but her longed-for influence brings unexpected consequences. As she seeks a refuge for her wounded faith, she learns that her passionate nature can be her greatest strength–if she can harness it effectively. 
I bought these at Half Price Books:
Jersey Brides by Eakes

Jersey Brides by Laurie Alice Eakes
Travel back to the glory days of New Jersey where three women are having conflicts with wealth and status when attractive men enter their lives. Meg is being forced into marriage for riches when her heart longs for a simple artisan. Susan is powerless to use her fortune on the poor or to protect it from her future husband. Marigold is forced to work as a lowly nursemaid for orphans awaiting their uncle before receiving her birthright. Will God lead these women to loves that are even greater in value than money?

Abigail by Smith

Abigail (The Wives of King David #2) by Jill Eileen Smith
Abigail's hopes and dreams for the future are wrapped up in her handsome, dark-eyed betrothed, Nabal. But when the long-awaited wedding day arrives, her drunken groom behaves shamefully. Nevertheless, Abigail tries to honor and respect her husband despite his abuse of her. Meanwhile, Abigail's family has joined David's wandering tribe as he and his people keep traveling to avoid the dangerous Saul. When Nabal suddenly dies, Abigail is free to move on with her life, and thanks to her brother, her new life includes a new husband--David. The dangers of tribal life on the run are serious, but there are other dangers in young Abigail's mind. How can David lead his people effectively when he goes against God? And how can Abigail share David's love with the other wives he insists on marrying? Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author of "Michal," draws on Scripture, historical research, and her imagination as she fills in the blanks to unveil the story of Abigail and David in rich detail and drama. The result is a riveting page-turner that will keep readers looking forward to the next book in this trilogy.

New Kindle Downloads at $2.99 a pop for special on 11/16:
Head in the Clouds

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind. When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate. When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father's place as scrivener. Before long, it's clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realizes the colonel has grave secrets of his own—some of which have to do with her father's sudden death. Can she ever truly love him?

What are you Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.

Book oneI finally got an awesome Study Bible with lots of timelines, notes and commentary oh my =) Loving it, except now I am kinda backtracking on what I had read before I got the Study bible. I totally recommend this book for those looking for a bible resource. There are so many behind-the-scenes references and terminology and A-HA moments that I missed out on when I was just reading straight through. Now that I am reading Leviticus, I am freaking out about some of the things God commanded/demanded/said was an abomination.. such as tattoos.. oopsy. So, let's just say I'm a sinner!! (and then of course there were some general creepy moments all around but at least I'm getting an education and feeling like I'm using my mind again).. 

book twoAnd then I am reading the second book in the Daughters of Bainbridge House series, Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes. I had just reviewed book one, A Necessary Deception last week. Political unrest and the Luddite rebellion is an intriguing historical backdrop to these romance novels which I recommend reading in order.
And as far what is next..
It being Thanksgiving week and general gobs of madness..(kids off of school! egads!) I have no idea. I haven't looked at my review list in awhile, and not sure I care too much about it anyway. I'm pretty sure I only have one from NetGalley to read and one coming in the mail (Julie Klassen's newest! squeeeee!!!), and the rest of the review titles can sit comfortably on my shelves/pile/dresser as they have been.

I am wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.. I hope you all can find something to be thankful for and can enjoy your holiday!! Peace and blessings, goodwill to all!!

Nov 15, 2012

No Safe Harbor (Edge of Freedom #1) by Elizabeth Ludwig

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Naive Irish lass goes to New York and lands right in the middle of Irish political fanatics!

No Safe Harbor (Edge of Freedom #1) by Elizabeth Ludwig
Bethany House, October 2012
Paperback 352 pages
Review copy provided for Free from LitFuse, in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America
Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.
Read an Excerpt
Purchase the book

The setting of an Irish girl leaving for New York in l896 is full of promise and adventure in this historical romantic suspense, and did not disappoint. The political maneuverings of Ireland was always behind the scenes as Cara was trying to discover the fate of her twin brother, Eoghan. One thing that struck me as 'convenient' was how each and every person that Cara bumped into during her first trip in New York were all somehow related to the disappearance of her brother or those seeking revenge, but pushing that nagging thought aside I really did enjoy this story.

Cara meets Rourke, who is the sexy heroic love interest, but he turns out to be on the bad guys' side. Rourke and Cara do not trust each other, yet of course they still fall in love, so the romance comes in as they discover each other and develop their trust in each other; and the suspense comes in as we try to figure our where Cara's brother is and when is he going to be able to come out of hiding. There is a fabulous climatic scene as it all comes to a head, and I was perched on the edge of my seat throughout.

The setting is of a boardinghouse with a few intriguing women, and one in particular turns out to be another bad guy (Cara has really bad luck in NYC!) and things get dicey when it hits the fan. All in all, a well done story of intrigue that has me wondering what's next in the Edge of Freedom series. Although the book is from a Christian fiction publisher, the Christian theme is very light in the main scheme of things, allowing No Safe Harbor to be easily recommended to those who would enjoy an entertaining romance infused with intrigue.

And, I am super thrilled to read about what's next for Elizabeth Ludwig's Edge of Freedom series, coming August 2013, Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig:

August 2013Ana Kavanagh’s only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen.
At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger–his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors–all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana’s past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow–and where to finally place his trust.
I scored an extra copy of NO SAFE HARBOR somehow.. so who wants it?
I warned you in October I'd have a subscriber-only giveaway so here it is!!
A quickie giveaway open to my MailChimp Subscribers in the USA, and I'll choose a random winner from the most awesome comments you leave me.. must be a follower, and an email subscriber and you must leave me your Email Address. And I'd probably give preferential treatment to those who brag about this awesome review on Facebook, twitter etc. =) Thanks!!

Nov 13, 2012

A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
 Magnificent blend of a Regency romance and the intriguing mystery with plausible Christian themes!

A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes
The Daughters of Bainbridge House #1
Revell, October 2011
Book is of my personal collection
Burton Book Review Rating: LOVED this! 4.5 stars

When young widow Lady Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreamed he would turn up in her parlor. But just as the London Season is getting under way, there he is, along with a few other questionable personages. While she should be focused on helping her headstrong younger sister prepare for her entrance at her debutante ba ll.Readers will enjoy being drawn into this world of elegance and intrigue, balls and masquerades. Author Laurie Alice Eakes whisks readers through the drawing rooms of London amid the sound of rustling gowns on this exciting quest to let the past stay in the past and let love guide the future.
A Necessary Deception is book one of the Daughters of Bainbridge series and I wanted to read this before I read book two, Flight of Fancy, which I will review for the Historical Novel Society. I am so glad I had this one to read, it was so much fun and a pleasurable read that I gulped down in a day or two. I had read one of the author's previous works as well, and her writing is smooth, flawless and captivating.

This novel features the eldest of the three Bainbridge sisters, Lydia, who is still wearing widow's weeds after three years. She is chaperoning her sisters in Regency London and finds herself smack in the middle of the political intrigues of the time as she helps a Frenchman out of the goodness of her heart. The man was an associate of her late husband's and she feels she owes him a debt even if her actions would portray her as a traitor to England. France and England seem to always be at odds, and the people of this book display their hatred for each other quite well. I loved the intrigues, and the blooming of romance between the two.

There was a lot going on in this inspirational romance, and the plot summary would be long indeed if I spelled it out for you. But let me cut that short by saying this is a great story for those who enjoy some Christian thoughts intermixed with their historical romances.. an entertaining Regency that has me tempted to rush right into book two which features another of the Bainbridge sisters. Laurie Alice Eakes is moving up on my fave authors list.

I do want to add that while some of the recent Christian Historical Fiction I have reviewed here have been light on the Christian factor, this one wrapped itself around it quite a bit. Even though I loved it and appreciated it, there are some readers who do not like the Christian nuances and if that describes yourself then you may not enjoy this read.

Nov 11, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday! What are you reading?

Sunday, November 11, 2012
Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is temporarily being hosted at Kathy's at during the month of November.

In the Mail....
Mailbox treats!

Remember that Swap I had a few weeks ago (take a peek if you're in the mood to swap)? I swapped out some books and got some goodies! I also received a few titles from Paperbackswap, so that makes ALL OF THESE NON-REVIEW books! SQUEEE!!
Thank you to Kimberlee from Girl Lost in a Book for some awesome swap books!
The Thirteenth Disciple by Bette M Ross (Published in 1984, OH LOVE THAT COVER!) 
In this Biblical novel, the young priestess Prisca deserts the goddess she serves, Artemis, to follow Jesus. She is rejected by the Twelve Disciples after Christ's death but believes that He chose her to carry the gospel. The story thickens as she falls in love with a merchant captain in the tempestuous times of the early church.

A Tailor Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer (Published 2010..of course this becomes available on PBS two days before it was free on Kindle, le sigh)
Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women 
more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected. 
Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff 
manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man? 
When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to uproarious consequences for the whole town--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker (Published 2008)
Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice.

In 1775 Venice–known to outsiders as “the brothel of Europe”–the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two dear friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school for girls, know little of that milieu–until they come of age. 

Elena is forced to wed the head of the Celano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, whose family vendetta with the Celanos is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break. 

As the French Revolution unsettles all of Europe, Elena’s husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too–but will their efforts put their own lives at risk?

Embodying the glitter and the treachery of the city it portrays, The Venetian Mask will keep you turning pages long into the night.

The Second Empress by Michelle Moran (Published 2012, one where it was emailed that I would get a copy from the author but never did, I think the new owners of my old house are getting lots of books. Too bad I don't think they speak English)

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.

As Pauline's insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline's jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire's peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.

Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Published 2010)
Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.

The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right.

Heresy by S.J. Parris (Published 2010; Giordano Bruno #1)
Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic. 

In S. J. Parris's gripping novel, Bruno's pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. 

His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy. 

Like The Dante Club and The Alienist, this clever, sophisticated, exceptionally enjoyable novel is written with the unstoppable narrative propulsion and stylistic flair of the very best historical thrillers.

Prophecy by S.J. Parris (Published 2011, Giodarno Bruno #2.. now I need #3 Sacrilege)
It is the year of the Great Conjunction, when the two most powerful planets, Jupiter and Saturn, align—an astrologi­cal phenomenon that occurs once every thousand years and heralds the death of one age and the dawn of another. The streets of London are abuzz with predictions of horrific events to come, possibly even the death of Queen Elizabeth. 

When several of the queen’s maids of honor are found dead, rumors of black magic abound. Elizabeth calls upon her personal astrologer, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno to solve the crimes. While Dee turns to a mysterious medium claiming knowledge of the murders, Bruno fears that some­thing far more sinister is at work. But even as the climate of fear at the palace intensifies, the queen refuses to believe that the killer could be someone within her own court. 

Bruno must play a dangerous game: can he allow the plot to progress far enough to give the queen the proof she needs without putting her, England, or his own life in danger? 

In this utterly gripping and gorgeously written novel, S. J. Parris has proven herself the new master of the historical thriller.

I bought a Kindle book, too..
For $2.99: To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Published 2011)
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets... 
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart. 
Levi's renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she's finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?

And I was gifted two titles from a fellow reader (thank you!!): The Welsh Healer, A Novel of 15th Century England; and El Rey, a novel of Renaissance Iberia both by Ginger Myrick, a new author who is getting great buzz!

Some of the Kindle freebies which I am excited about:
Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz
Michal: A Novel (Wives of King David) by Jill Eileen Smith

What are you Reading?

What are you reading? meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.
I have been crazy busy at work with end of year fiscal stuff and audits and Girl Scouts and oh stick a fork in me.. so I am not reading as much. But... it's about QUALITY right? so I'd say reading the Bible is awesomeness since I haven't accomplished this feat yet.

This past week I have finished the Book of Genesis learning about the forefathers of Israel, and now I am knee deep in Exodus and the Red Sea and locusts and Pharoah not listening to Moses for the umpteenth time..

I am also reading At Every Turn by Anne Mateer, a book I rec'd for review last week.and is available now for purchase. As I loved Mateer's previous Wings of A Dream, I was hoping this would ooze entertainment - but, alas - I am just eager to slap our naive heroine Alyce who loves to race cars in the olden days of 1916 but that's just a brave backdrop for her true silliness.

I posted a review of The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad which I read eons ago but had to hold the review pending its official publication in the HNS November edition..This was a book #3 of a series I hadn't read yet but I saw that many other readers loved her books, so I took a chance. It wasn't fabulous for me, so it is one I would say to read the prior novels to gain appreciation of the scheme of characters.

I am wondering if now that I have read lots of Christian Historical fiction this past year, I am now honing my tastes and wishing for something more substantial. It's time to find the cream of the crop so to speak of the genre. So far it looks like it's Tamera Alexander and Julie Klassen still, which I discovered last year. Susan Page Davis hasn't disappointed me yet, though..and I am holding out hope for Karen Witemeyer which I received an older title in the mail (above)..

Coming up next in my list of reads will continue with the same pace as it's been.. a snail's pace. But reading the bible has been on my bucket list for quite a long time, and now is a good a time as any. I am also taking notes in a journal and I've downloaded a fantastic iPhone app which you gotta look for if you own one of the Apple devices:  "Laudate".. The most popular and most comprehensive free Catholic App . Daily Mass Readings (with Saint of the Day and Reflections). Liturgy of Hours, New American Bible, interactive Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross, prayers and Latin prayers with English translation. Multiple podcasts for daily meditations and Rosary. 

Also, feel free to jump into the Read the Bible in 180 Days read along here on Goodreads.

Hope you have a fantastic week, and I'll see you next Monday!

Nov 7, 2012

The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

Wednesday, November 07, 2012
The Ride of Her Life
A sweet romance with a roller coaster setting!

The Ride of Her Life (Manawa Summers #3) by Lorna Seilstad
Historical Inspirational Romance
Revell, May 1, 2012 
ISBN 9780800734473
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine, November 2012
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 Stars

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life. Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.

It's early 1900's and Lilly Hart is struggling as a widowed mother in a small town of Iowa. Her in-laws are resorting to treachery to gain custody of her young son Levi, but thankfully Lilly has a friend in roller coaster builder Nick if only she would stop being too stubborn to accept his help. Lilly is determined to save enough money from her waitressing job to buy a house in Lake Manawa so that she can provide a stable home for Levi, but at what cost?

Her powerful father-in-law applies pressure from all angles against Lilly which includes harming Nick's upcoming roller coaster debut, putting lives in danger as well as Nick's livelihood. Throughout the story the reader knows what Lilly must do, and who she should and should not trust, which makes Lilly's stubbornness tougher to tolerate as it slows the story down. The light hearted and fun spirited romance is rounded out with the suspense from the father-in-law's shady dealings, and both Nick and Levi make extremely lovable characters.

The inspirational theme is quietly laced throughout as both Nick and Lilly work through the questions of their faith and how God fits in their lives, making this a breezy-sweet romance novel. Even though this is book three in the Lake Manawa series, it can be read as a stand alone; however to attain the best reading experience the series should be read in order since there are recurring characters throughout the novels.

Nov 4, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, November 04, 2012
What are you Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is temporarily being hosted at Kathy's at during the month of November.

In the Mail....

YAY! Some new reads to report this week, as last week there were none. So, I ordered some books that I just had to have. One of them is very special, the Sharon Kay Penman, because when I was reading the library's copy four years ago this November, my father had suddenly passed away. So, I KNOW.. even though I LOVED this book, and LOVED this edition with the fantastic cover.. I KNOW I didn't get to appreciate it as much as I would have. So it's time for a permanent home in my personal collection; I knew the time would come someday, but I had to give myself some time to buy it. Who wants to look at a Penman book and burst into tears every time she sees it? So hopefully, when I get around to re-reading it, I can handle the emotional upheaval it will be sure to cause as I am bound to remember certain parts as related to the events surrounding that horrific time of my life.

Cheer up everybody!! Here's my gorgeous Sweetie modeling the first batch of books of the week:
First and foremost, the absolutely stunning hardcover edition of Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept (April 1995): The first volume of a trilogy that follows the lives and fortunes of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine presenting the story of Maude, imperious daughter of Henry I and England's uncrowned queen, and her trusted, tormented cousin Stephen. See the cover here.

And behind that is something that caught my eye last week.. Thorn in My Heart (Lowlands of Scotland Series #1) by Liz Curtis Higgs(Mar 18, 2003). I had seen on a blog where they salivated over the hero.. and after loving my last 'Scottish' read.. I had to get this!

"Two brothers fight to claim one father’s blessing. Two sisters long to claim one man’s heart. In the autumn of 1788, amid the moors and glens of the Scottish Lowlands, two brothers and two sisters each embark on a painful journey of discovery. Jamie and Evan McKie both want their father Alec’s flocks and lands, yet only one brother will inherit Glentrool. Leana and Rose McBride both yearn to catch the eye of the same handsome lad, yet only one sister will be his bride. A thorny love triangle emerges, plagued by lies and deception, jealousy and desire, hidden secrets and broken promises. Brimming with passion and drama, Thorn in My Heart brings the past to vibrant life, revealing spiritual truths that transcend time and penetrate the deepest places of the heart."

To the right of the photo is A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller, which just came out. Somehow I missed this one if it was up for grabs for review, so after reading other blogger's reviews, I was sold!
I really enjoyed the last novel by the author, so I knew I had to get this one too:

"Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own. Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family--but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband. Readers who loved The Measure of Katie Calloway will be pleased to find more of Miller's emotive and descriptive writing here--and to discover that love is more than words."

The two review books that came this week are shown here with my precious Sweetie again..
Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes..(I enjoyed the last Eakes book I read) This is a book two in the Daughters of Bainbridge House series, so I am contemplating squeezing in book one before this one..

"Cassandra Bainbridge has twice set aside her scholarly pursuits--once for the London Season and once for her wedding preparations. Love seems a wonderful alternative to study, until disaster strikes. When an accident brings an end to her betrothal, she heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. There she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when her former fiance slips back into her life, what course will she choose?
Filled with the mystique of London society and the charming beauty of the English countryside, "A Flight of Fancy" explores what it means to find the true source of happiness and love amid the distractions of life. Readers will love the next installment in this rousing Regency series from accomplished author Laurie Alice Eakes."

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer.. loved Mateer's previous Wings of A Dream, so I jumped at the chance to review this one.

"She's off to the races!

Caught up in a whirlwind of religious enthusiasm, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. Now she just has to find a way to get the money.

Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles, and she's spent many an afternoon driving around the rustic track in the field behind her home. When she discovers that her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events--races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money--she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to train and compete.

But when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she realizes she may have trusted the wrong person with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her hasty promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?"

This week I have not gotten very far with reading.. I was reading a review book from Sunday to Wednesday that I was detesting. Finally was able to work out sending it back to them so I could move forward in my reading, but that took a big chunk out of my life. I am a member of the Christian Fiction Bloggers who are reading the Bible in 180 days, so I have just started reading that, and was working on that review book tediously, and once I got rid of it I picked up Wolf Hall which I have been trying to read forEVER.. (snoooze.. I am really hating the Tudor era) ...I think it's time to get to these new review books! Things have been insane in real life, I hope they calm down a bit so I can relax with my books again!!

If you missed some of my reviews, the past week I posted a few reviews:
An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere
To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander
Both were novels that I could recommend to those who like some romance in their reads!

I also offered up some more swap books.. let me know if you see any you would like to trade for! I plan on doing a new list of swap books after I scourge my shelves, but that's only going to happen when I have nothing else to do... I am also going to do some Email Subscriber Exclusive giveaways, an example of one will post on 11/15/12.. so be sure you subscribe to my emails.