A Novel of Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt

Read the book review of my latest favorite novel by Robin Oliveira.

Newest novel by Lynn Austin

Book two in the Restoration Chronicles, and my newest favorite of 2014!

Welcome to the new look!

I changed the look of my blog!

Favorite reads of 2013

These were the best of the best for 2013 - use this short list to help you with your next library trip!

New Recommended Read

Another wonderful addition to your Wars of the Roses collection!

Dec 15, 2014

Six Years Later

December 2014 marks the sixth anniversary since I first posted here on blogger. Six years is a very long time, especially when you consider my son is now seven. I really enjoyed the first few years of blogging and reviewing for others until it seemed like all of a sudden there were a huge glut of other bloggers and then bloggers started getting roped into blog tours with rules and obligations and just crappy attitudes from lots of folks who didn't like anything from a five star review to a one star review. Then bloggers turned against bloggers and formed cliques against other cliques and egads- just run for the hills.

Six years of blogging where there were those folks who sorta live kinda close and I'm all for maybe meeting up and hanging out, yo! But I don't drink wine, and I just never was that outgoing person who could just meet someone from the internet. My husband would kill me before the internet person would get a chance to. I'm just not a clubber no matter which connotation you take it.

I have seen online bloggy friends come and go, some with hard feelings and some more just like "I'll like your status update on Facebook but that's it for me".  I can't say I have much of a following here as things really have quieted down on the blog front. I don't remember the last time I got a comment. I think I'll turn commenting off to make myself feel better.

But hey six years! It's been a wild ride for me, as I really have learned a lot of useless information about things from the UK from five hundred years ago. I have also seen people fight about a stupid little historical fact on Facebook/Goodreads. Grow up and get a grip.

I actually stopped wanting to review historical fiction because there would be people out there who would exclaim "You actually liked that when it was fiction and they made that part up about ___ and ____???! How dare you, you evil reader!!"

I went from Tudor Fanatic to Tudor Pee U Icky I hate the Tudors and then I was like, "OH I LOVE the Wars of the Roses!" and then I was like "oh, Regency how Quaint!" and then I was like, "oh look, a Book! Must Buy!" and then "Oh, look a Book! Must Buy!" & "oh look, a Book! Must Buy!" and then "Oh, look a Book! Must Buy!"  and then I acquired my own library, and my own reading room, and my bedroom also looks like a mini library and then I realize geez, I've had some unread ARC's for about five years. (SO sorry, y'all!).. and then I'm like "Medieval?" eh can't really get into it so let's go Christian fiction and hell yeah I loved that for a year and then boom I switched professions and dropped off the face of the earth (or internet) and thousand of books are literally collecting dust as I type.

And then I am like awww I lurrvve my new church! let's sign up to do this! and that! oh okay, if you say so, I guess I'll do that, too! and then my daughter's Girl Scout Troop needs an assistant leader because no one else is left in the list of troop moms to do it, so Crap you Are So Screwed and why the f did you want to be a PTA mom, really??

And now I'm like, "bed... must sleep."

I miss reading. So when I do read - it's when I want to tune everyone out and I don't really give a crap about obtaining an education on Richard III anymore and V.C. Andrews is just magnificent for this exhausted brain.

I read every now and then and sometimes I will post a review if I get a large cup of coffee, pray to the wireless connection gods and try to get blogger to function on the old decrepit laptop.

So yeah. Maybe I'll see you here, but most likely not. It's okay if you're not around here, because I haven't had time to blog surf myself over there and I've missed your blogs-- if you are even posting out there anymore?! I'm out of the loop, man! (Same old story, different decade!)

I just felt like I owed my sad little blog a little Happy Anniversary post, since it was such a good friend to me for quite awhile. Happy Sixth Birthday, Burton Book Review!!!

Dec 12, 2014

Garden of Shadows (Dollanganger prequel) by V.C. Andrews

If you haven't read the prequel then you're totally missing the point!

Garden of Shadows (Dollanganger prequel) by V.C. Andrews
Pocket Books, first published 1987
Personal copy/read for pleasure

Read my other V.C. Andrews reviews

Dollanganger Series:
Flowers in The Attic
Petals on the Wind
If There Be Thorns
Seeds of Yesterday
Garden of Shadows (prequel)

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth (October 2014; ghostwritten)
Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (January 2015; ghostwritten)

Before terror flowered in the attic there was a young girl. An innocent, hopeful girl... When young Olivia arrives at Foxworth Hall, she thinks her marriage to handsome Malcolm will bring the joy she has longed for. But in the gloomy mansion filled with festering desires and forbidden passions, a stain of jealous obsession begins to spread—an evil that will threaten her children, two charming boys and one very special, beautiful girl. For within the halls of this cursed house a shocking secret lives. A secret that will taint the Foxworth family for generations to come...

Recent posts have comprised of my V.C. Andrews reviews of both new and old releases, and this one is an old release that I never had the pleasure of reading. I cannot imagine why I didn't read it - perhaps I was turned off by the "prequel" part since I was in my teens and I had a high opinion of myself and what I felt was worthwhile. I have a feeling that I had a misconception that I knew everything there was to know about those kids who looked like Dresden doll angels as they were locked up at the Foxworth Mansion. I probably thought I didn't like that crazy old coot of a Grandma that Olivia was, and didn't want to know anything about her.

Garden of Shadows is all about Olivia Foxworth and her sad life as a wife to Malcolm Foxworth. More crazy weirdo shenanigans await readers with Olivia's story - and there is indeed a very intriguing secret that I had no idea about which pretty much floored me! It all really comes together now and puts everything into perspective as we see what brought Olivia to the point of locking grandchildren up in her attic. And we get to see Corrine as she grows up, and her brothers too. Olivia's character is a lot of matter-of-fact and definitely not a lot of sympathy can be derived, but in some ways the reader at least gets to see why Olivia does what she does.

Remember Joel from Seeds of Yesterday? Only now was I able to connect the dots. Melodramatic twists that even I didn't expect as we learn more about Garland Foxworth and his first wife who was Malcolm's runaway mother, and then we learn more Malcolm's beautiful stepmother Alicia. The Swan Room and the Attic are all key rooms in the story, and Olivia doesn't disappoint with her stern observance over every minor detail and her love for her children. Her cousin John Amos appears as Olivia's butler when she needs him most and later we see where the religious fervor all began, but most importantly: why.

When we find out why, we actually can sorta understand the reason behind the melodramatics that led to locking children in an attic for three years. Sorta. But all that stuff that turns people off from V.C. Andrews books like incest, abuse, making the bible look bad, peeking in on people having sex; this insanity is only for a certain few of us looking for that perfect escape from accounting.

Yes indeed, this is the perfect book for when you're ignoring the kids, the dogs, the husband, but not the cat. You mustn't ignore the cat.

Nov 30, 2014

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews

Christopher’s Diary…For those who liked the Dollanganger series…

Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews
Pocket Books Paperback; October 28, 2014; ISBN: 9781476790589 $7.99
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:

Read my other V.C. Andrews reviews

Jealousy, tragedy, survival, and revenge—the discovery of Christopher’s diary in the ruins of Foxworth Hall brings new secrets of the Dollanganger family to light and obsesses a new generation. With Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind both now major Lifetime TV events, this first new addition to the Dollanganger story in nearly thirty years is a timely look at the events in the attic—from teenage Christopher’s point of view.

Christopher Dollanganger was fourteen when he and his younger siblings—Cathy and the twins, Cory and Carrie—were locked away in the attic of Foxworth Hall, prisoners of their mother’s greedy inheritance scheme. For three long years he kept hope alive for the sake of the others. But the shocking truth about how their ordeal affected him was always kept hidden—until now. 

Seventeen-year-old Kristin Masterwood is thrilled when her father’s construction company is hired to inspect the Foxworth property for a prospective buyer. The once grand Southern mansion still sparks legends and half-truths about the four innocent Dollanganger children, even all these decades later. Foxworth holds a special fascination for Kristin, who was too young when her mother died to learn much about her distant blood tie to the notorious family.

Accompanying her dad to the “forbidden territory,” they find a leather-bound book, its yellowed pages filled with the neat script of Christopher Dollanganger himself. Her father grows increasingly uneasy about her reading it, but as she devours the teen’s story page by page, his shattering account of temptation, heartache, courage, and betrayal overtakes Kristin’s every thought. And soon her obsession with the doomed boy crosses a dangerous line…

(Read an excerpt here)

I am one of those age forty-something readers that remember the drama and the wicked horror of the original Flowers in The Attic series when the books had first caused a sensation in the eighties. The Real Virginia Andrews had a way with words that made this once-a-teenager swoon over her next published book. She became such a success that long after her death in 1986 a ghost writer still makes money off of her iconic name. The tone may be the same but it is inevitable that there are only whispers of the passion that the original author of the series had infused into her plots.

I had recently re-read the series which goes as follows: Flowers In the Attic, Petals on The Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and I am now just beginning Garden of Shadows, which is a sort of pre-quel to the series (I also re-read My Sweet Audrina, a stand alone novel that was just as juicy fun as the novels of the Foxworths). These were all titles that were written by the original author, and almost thirty years later Andrew Neiderman brings us the Dollanganger series with the new releases of Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth, and coming in early 2015, Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger.

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth is set in a later time long after the children of the attic are gone. We can only revisit them through Christopher's diary as Kristin Masterwood discovers the diary at the ruins of Foxworth Hall. While the synopsis hints at amazing secrets coming to life, we as the reader are not getting anything new. But Kristin is! Apparently, no one really knew what was going on at Foxworth Hall though the reader knew the secrets firsthand through the original books. Yet when Kristin finds the diary, she really did not have a good grip on what really went on behind the doors of Foxworth Hall before the two fires had finally destroyed the ancestral home. All that anyone in the community knew was that crazy Bart went off to bang the bible somewhere else. The rest were all theories and gossip about children in an attic but Kristin would like to know more since she knows her deceased mother was somehow a distant cousin.

The distant relative theme was something that could have come up as major suspenseful, but instead it become more of a mantra getting thrown out there for no effect but to annoy. If we are seriously talking fifty years later, the math doesn't really add up if you think hard about it. The storyline was all about Kristin and her current relationships and how "oh no- I should study to be valedictorian but I can't because Christopher's diary is calling my name." Kristin develops an odd relationship with a boy and the reader gets to hear all about how Kristin feels about her teen life and how her modern life would relate to Christopher's and Cathy's. As a new character to the series, Kristin's traits can turn off readers as she is obsessive but otherwise seemingly perfect; plus the narrative would go off into la-la land while Kristin's dad was talking to her by having a long musing about Christopher's and Cathy's feelings, and then going back into the current event at hand which got a bit old.

The next book will hopefully put a bit of closure on this first installment in the Dollanganger series, as the first ends with a dangling string of darkness and promises new attic moments. While I enjoyed this novel, I am on the fence as to which readers would enjoy it. Some major hardcore fans of V.C. Andrews may not like Niederman's drawn out (and unfinished) plot line, but those who really can't get enough of the soap opera drama that the original story provided should still enjoy the additional fodder related to the Flowers In The Attic family.

Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger is scheduled for release by Pocket Books in January 27, 2015; I look forward to that book to see if the family relationship between Kristin and the original clan can be unveiled.

Nov 28, 2014

Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

Fabulous biblical retelling

Keepers of the Covenant (Restoration Chronicles #2) by Lynn Austin
-easily read as a stand-alone!
Biblical fiction, paperback 480 pages
Bethany House, October 2014
Review copy provided by Bethany House in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:

Read my review of the previous title in the series, Return To Me

The Old Testament Comes to Thrilling Life in the Latest from Lynn Austin

In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king's palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.

When the battles come to an end, Ezra's brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude's widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple--but the fight to keep God's Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges...this one for the survival of God's covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.
Ahasuerus has risen from his throne and is in the act of stepping forward towards his wife, who falls swooning against her handmaidens. They support her as best they can, as Haman, in the seat of honor beside the King, leans forward, wondering what has prompted this reckless action of Esther's.- Women In The Bible

Long before the birth of Jesus, the Jews were persecuted and punished. The Old Testament shows us in the book of Esther how Queen Esther saved the Persian Jews from complete annihilation which resulted in the celebration called Purim. While the biblical story in Keepers of the Covenant begins with this well-known story of Haman and Mordecai of Esther 3-8, the author gives us a wonderfully fictionalized retelling of the prophet Ezra's family during this period of war and hardship. In the bible, the Book of Ezra tells us how God shows his forgiveness and restores the faith of his wayward people.

As with the first book in the series which gives us Zechariah's story, book two in the Restoration Chronicles focuses on characters who pull us into their re-imagined lives with absorbing and exciting storytelling. Ezra and his brothers were hard-working members of the Levite tribe exiled to Babylon when the king of Persia sends out a decree allowing all Jewish people to be slaughtered on a specific day. Ezra forces himself to become a leader of his Jewish peers and fight back. Meanwhile, we are also introduced to characters such as Amina and Sayfah, young daughters of the pagan Babylonian Gentiles who are eager to destroy the Jews; and Reuben, the young boy whose faith is tested when he loses almost everything during the violent thirteenth day of Adar.

Some favorite lines from characters in Keepers of the Covenant:

"As the psalmist wrote, our hope is in the Almighty One's unfailing love."

"If people follow God's laws at all, it's out of habit or legalism, not love. Some of us are no better than the Gentiles, ignoring God and His laws and then creating our own image of what God is like and what He wants from us."

"If we deny god, our lives aren't worth living."

Keepers of the Covenant is a captivating story of hardship, love and faith which depicts a historically important period for those of the Jewish community. I loved the first book, and I knew I would love this next installment. I was not disappointed at all, but I was reminded to continue to pick up the rest of Lynn Austin's work. I know I can't go wrong with any of her skillfully retold biblical novels. I highly recommend Lynn Austin and the Restoration Chronicles to any reader of biblical fiction. I especially love the larger size of these novels as well - nearing 500 pages, Keepers of the Covenant is a wonderfully engrossing and satisfying epic bible story.

Oct 28, 2014

Saint Brigid's Bones: A Celtic Adventure by Philip Freeman

Saint Brigid's Bones: A Celtic Adventure by Philip Freeman
Pegasus Books, October 2014
240 pages, Historical Fiction

In an evocative Celtic novel set in a time when druids roamed the land, lively young sister Deirdre embarks on a mission to find the stolen bones of her convent’s patron saint.
In ancient Ireland, an island ruled by kings and druids, the nuns of Saint Brigid are fighting to keep their monastery alive. When the bones of Brigid go missing from their church, the theft threatens to destroy all they have worked for. No one knows the danger they face better than Sister Deirdre, a young nun torn between two worlds.
Trained as a bard and raised by a druid grandmother, she must draw upon all of her skills, both as a bard and as a nun, to find the bones before the convent begins to lose faith.
In this swiftly told tale set in Ancient Ireland, Sister Diedre is tasked with the most important job of the monastery at Kildare: to retrieve the stolen bones of Saint Brigid. Without the bones for pilgrims to come pay homage to, the nuns and those they care for will not survive for very long without the donations from visitors seeking healing from the precious relics. 

The author proves his intellect and research within the first person narrative of Sister Diedre as he deftly sets up the mystery and even manages to flesh out Sister Diedre's character as we wonder if she should have even become a nun in the first place. There was a short period within the telling where I wondered if I had missed a previous novel featuring Diedre's story, but we slowly learn the secrets of her past before she dedicated her life to the monastery. Diedre is a strong and willful young woman who was also a skilled bard with a few suitors at her doorstep. While she seeks answers to the mystery of the saint's bones, she encounters ruffians and piratical lords as well as several kings of the lands of Ancient Ireland. I was surprised that so much could occur within the seemingly short novel yet the pacing and suspense were very well stylized, and I was happy to see the Philip Freeman plans on publishing a second novel featuring the lively Sister Diedre.

Oct 15, 2014

The Lion Triumphant by Philippa Carr

The Lion Triumphant by Philippa Carr
various publishers, circa 1974

Catharine Kingsman The Lion Triumphant follows The Miracle at St Bruno's with Catharine, the daughter of Damask, growing up in the new Elizabethan age -- one of the most eventful in English history because of the struggle for power between two mighty rivals had begun. Catharine, smarting from the bitter blow which deprived her of her lover, meets the lusty sea Captain Jake Pennlyon, who makes it clear that he allows nothing to come between him and his desires. Catharine is the chief of these and the battle between two stong-willed and tempestuous people is fought out in the shadow of the growing rivalry between Spain and England. Catharine delights in outwitting the man who would subdue her and before he can have his way a mysterious abduction takes place. A captive on a Spanish galleon, Catharine experiences the terrors of the sea and makes the aquaintance of the mysterious and dignified Don Felipe. In the Hacienda she discovers the reason for her capture and what is demanded of her, which bears out the fact that Jake Pennlyon is a man whose life is inextricably interwoven with her own.
His symbol is the Lion and there is no escape from him and his determination to overcome her resistance. He is as sure of his power to subdue her as he is of England's to rule the seas. With her Spanish son Roberto and her English daughter Linnet, Catharine is torn between love and loyalty in a story of lusty adventure on land and sea, when those who lived in the turbulent sixteenth century were caught up in the trmendous events of their times. The fight for survival is Catharine's and Jake's, Roberto's and Linnet's -- as well as England's. From Plymouth, the ships set forth, for the issue will be decided at sea. Here is the most significant engagement of all times when the little ships of England drove off the mighty Spanish galleons of Spain and the Invincible Armada was defeated, leaving the Lion Triumphant.

The second book in the Daughters of England series by Philippa Carr (another pseudonym of Jean Plaidy fame) picks up with the next generation of the family from The Miracle at St. Bruno's. Damask's daughter Catharine is the heroine of the novel which takes on a very gothic feel. Even though some of the situations Cat would get herself in made me want to strangle her, I was enthralled by the story. This was supposed to be a read -along but I blew through it due to the wildness of some of the story arcs.

Catharine did have a tendency to get on my nerves - she was definitely a curious one - poking her nose in where she shouldn't. She had some really intriguing relationships going on which I am not going to spoil within the review here, but it was definitely a lot of fun and lived up to my expectations with a Carr novel.

I loved it so much that I had to know what was going to next in the third book, The Witch From The Sea, so the read - along participant and I decided to jump into that one next soon after. There are times when you just need to sink yourself into some crazy entertaining historical that just may be a bit off-kilter from reality, and the Philippa Carr series does the trick.

Oct 12, 2014

Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer

Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer
Historical Fiction/Christian
September 2014
Review copy provide by Bethany House in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:Fabulous read!

(Click here for other books by Anne Mateer reviewed on Burton Book Review)

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.
After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected.
This was a heart tugging story put forth by Anne Mateer and her passion for telling this particular story shone through every page. It's a blend of faith and romance during the scary times of the Great War where boys striving to be men enlisted to make their families proud. An era where strict rules among the social classes existed, and fraternizing with the opposite sex would cost you your career.

The main characters of Lula and Chet were told in an alternating first person narrative which only took me a few turns to get accustomed to. Perhaps it was this first person narration that helped endear me to them and made me feel much more empathetic towards them both. Lula was both intelligent and independent but willing to give up everything she ever dreamed of in order to be near her sister during difficult times, and Chet was also making his own personal sacrifices for his family even while others misunderstood his intentions.

They work together and become close which causes envy among their peers, yet their entire courtship was a charming story to read as they opened up about their emotions and their individual passions. I especially enjoyed the development of the supporting characters and their families, and I would love to see a sequel to see what happens next for Chet and Lula.

Playing By Heart is a very inspirational story featuring music, basketball, coaching and the war efforts which was put together very well into a solid piece of Christian historical fiction which I recommend to any reader of the genre. Thanks to Anne Mateer and Bethany House for providing us with another great inspirational novel!

Aug 20, 2014

Rogue in Red Velvet by Lynne Connolly

A swoon-worthy hero..

Rogue in Red Velvet by Lynne Connolly
Lyrical Press of Kensington Publishing Corp
August 2014
326 pages ebook
Review Copy provided via publisher for review in Library Journal Xpress

Emperors of London, #1
If Connie loses her standing in society, she risks losing everything…except Alex. 
When country widow Constance Rattigan finds herself in a notorious London brothel instead of at the altar, only one person can save her from the auction block.
Alex Vernon walked away from Connie once before, when he discovered her engagement. Now that her fiancé has betrayed her, Lord Ripley doesn’t intend to leave her again. But Connie has other ideas… She won’t marry him until her name is cleared. Alex decides to make Connie’s wishes come true, but it’s not that easy, even with the help of his powerful relatives known as the Emperors of London.

The last thing in Connie's mind as she is cataloging her godfather's ancient books among the cobwebs is that she will catch the eye of a sexy aristocrat, especially since she is a widower already engaged to Dankworth. When the powerful Lord Ripley makes Connie's acquaintance he finds Connie charming and alluring specifically because she is the opposite of the young debutantes who chase him tirelessly. It quickly turns into a love match between the two but there are quite a few obstacles tossed their way which includes the diabolical fiancé of Connie. Dankworth proves his worthlessness effortlessly but goes to extremes when he sells Connie at a whorehouse. Lord Ripley is there to catch her as she falls, but in the Georgian era where society means everything, will Connie be allowed to remain in polite London aristocratic society?

The passionate side to this rags to riches romance is not bashfully told as Lord Ripley teaches Connie what lovemaking should feel like. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced romance as well as the courageous main characters who are honorable and easy to like, while the villain epitomizes evil. The subtle hints regarding the unresolved and suspenseful subplot are welcome teasers of things to come in the next Emperors of London novel, which I would be happy to indulge in as well.

Aug 7, 2014

Summer of ... discontent?

Content: that's my cat. She's cool.

You may be wondering what has happened to the voracious reader that once was me. I wonder sometimes too. Growing up I read constantly, from about third grade and onwards till about the time I was forced into child labor at age fifteen I read a lot. Enjoyed it. Then life happened and I did read, but just not as much. Then I got back into reading when I had settled down. Then it hit the fan and I stopped reading. Then it slowed down and I picked up with reading again. You get the drift.

I can honestly say (as opposed to the teen years of discovering Christopher Pike, V.C. Andrews and Francine Pascal) that the previous four years I had read more than ever before. And I don't want to say blogger burn-out, because it's not really that.. but things have just evolved in my life where I don't have a ton of spare time to BOTH read and THEN review it.

The reviewing is a chore. A dead bore. A blah blah blah blah there I did it let's move on kind of thing.
Where's the fun in that? Especially since I have given myself a ____________ about having a writer's block. See, I can't remember the freaking word I'm looking for. When I try too hard, I fail. And reviewing has come to be a big failure.

But that's not why I'm really scarce these days.

Blame it on my kids who are growing up, and the fact I have been coerced into volunteering more of that free time I would otherwise be reading with. So this August brings me into two new realms: Sunday School teacher and Girl Scout Assistant Leader. But let's not forget my uber official role of Cub Scout mom.

Damn kids.

I say that in jest. I've been merely floating along this last year wondering WTF is my life all about, and hey, maybe this will bring me the rainbows and sunshine that I've been looking for. Not likely, but at least it will be a semi-diversion from the otherwise train wreck of this lady getting old fast.

I shall be around, and maybe I'll blog more about my life - but I would get in trouble if my husband found out so I probably won't do it that often.

I have also been starving myself. Just wanted to throw that in there. Lost about 10 pounds since July 6. Pretty much eating like a bird and wanting to eat like a pig. But it'll be worth it in the end which I am not exactly sure what that was for any longer. Turns out he still doesn't give a shit about me. So whatever.

I will focus on the things where I can make a difference. Back in the beginning of my blogging days, there were a scattering few of bloggers. I was a newbie on the scene of the seasoned bloggers. And my reviews/posts were commented on, and garnered friendships = I was making a difference, in my little life, by building relationships.

Now that lots of folks blog, and review, and talk books, there really isn't much more that I can give that my next door neighbor couldn't give as well .. so I'll focus a bit more on the reality of me and my kids and try to be there physically for them. Healthy and fit, a good role model, and not with the computer screen in front of my face. Maybe that will be a noble endeavor that will fail anyway as they focus their eyes on small iPhones and iPads, but it's worth a shot.

Jul 24, 2014

Giveaway! Introducing Susanna Kearsley's SEASON OF STORMS

There are a few authors that have me swooning at all of their new releases, and Susanna Kearsley is one of them. Very excited to be a part of a pre-publication tour for her newest novel Season of Storms! Even more excited that when I received the ARC in the mail I saw a blurb/quote from Burton Book Review on the back cover. These kinds of things make me a happy blogger.

And so with happiness, I give you the following synopsis and excerpt from the new novel, which you will have a chance to win your own advance readers' copy at the end of the blog post.
Available from Sourcebooks Landmark, September 2 2014
A mystery trapped in time..In 1921, infamous Italian poet Galeazzo D’Ascanio wrote his last and greatest play, inspired by his muse and mistress, actress Celia Sands. On the eve of opening night, Celia vanished, and the play was never performed. 

Now, two generations later, Alessandro D’Ascanio plans to stage his grandfather’s masterpiece and has offered the lead to a promising young English actress, also named Celia Sands—at the whim of her actress mother, or so she has always thought. When Celia arrives at D’Ascanio’s magnificent, isolated Italian villa, she is drawn to the mystery of her namesake’s disappearance—and to the compelling, enigmatic Alessandro. But the closer Celia gets to learning the first Celia’s fate, the more she is drawn into a web of murder, passion, and the obsession of genius. Though she knows she should let go of the past, in the dark, in her dreams, it comes back…

From Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

It was noon when he reached the Piazza San Marco.
The midday sun had bleached the square and cast a haze across the piazzetta, so that even the statues of San Teodoro and San Marco’s winged lion, they who had for these eight centuries stood vigi lant, their eyes fixed ever eastward over the serene lagoon, appeared today to slumber on their columns while below them at the edge of the canal the water barely swelled beneath the waiting row of gondolas.
He turned his back upon the gleaming pinnacles and domes of the basilica and searched among the faces in the strolling crowd for hers. No easy task, that. All of Venice seemed to be here, standing idly sharing gossip in the shadow of the bell-tower, or lunching at café tables by the Moorish colonnades. Music rose and met from either side of the piazza where the orchestras competed for attention from beneath their café awnings, a cultivated duel of rival melodies and rhythm that yet managed to produce a pleasing harmony.
Maître!” a delighted voice behind him cried and, turning, he recognized the oldest of the waiters from the café on his right, a sun-creased man from Corsica whose thick French accent clung to every word. “Maître, what a joy to see you here again. You must sit here, where all who pass can see you and pay tribute to your talent.”
He hesitated…he had not meant to stop here, but rather, like one of his own hounds, to keep to the chase, to find the scent and pursue it, relentless…but the waiter’s words, the blatant adoration, moved him suddenly. He sat. What did it matter, he thought, if he paused for a meal? Did not his own hounds hunt the better when they were refreshed?
He ate and drank deliberately, in honor of the watching eyes. A scraping of chairs at the table behind him announced the arrival of a new party, young, gay with laughter. A man in English said: “Oh no, but it really was too bad of you, John, not to stop the boat and let her have a go. She might have done it.”
Nonsense. From what I’ve heard, nobody gets in to see him. That man of his guards him like a Gurkha.”
And then a woman, in amusement, said: “I fancy Celia’s a match for any man’s man. Aren’t you, darling?”
Still with his back to their table he froze, his glass half-lifted to his lips, as something wonderful and warm began to tingle all along his spine. Fighting the impulse to leap to his feet at that moment and face her, he felt in his pockets for pencil and paper. Their meeting, this first meeting, mustn’t be ordinary. It must be creative, it must have appropriate drama. He wrote quickly, and signaled the waiter.
Yes, maître?”
Keeping his voice hushed he urged the man closer, conspiring.
Behind me—the blonde at the table behind me…”
A glance flickered over his head and then back again. “Yes, maître?”
There is only one blonde?”
There is, maître.”
Excellent. When I am gone, you will give her this note,” he said, folding the paper and pressing it into the waiter’s hand.
You will give it to her privately, pretending it is something she has dropped, perhaps. Do this for me, and I will be forever in your debt.”
The waiter bowed his head and left.

Once more the laughter of the English party rang out close behind him, and he raised his glass and drank the sweetness of the wine and smiled.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne Du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden, both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Other honors include finaling for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. Her popular and critically-acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audio books. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.

Links to my reviews of a few of Susanna Kearsley's recent novels:
The Splendour Falls
The Firebird
The Shadowy Horses

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