A Novel of Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt

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

Newest novel by Tracy Groot

Featured in February's Historical Novel Society magazine as an Editors' Choice.

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!

Meme Posts

Add to your ginormous TBR pile!

Jun 29, 2009

Book Review: "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family" by Miep Gies



Book Review: "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family" by Miep Gies
Published June 1st 2009 by Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster
Paperback, 320 pages
isbn 1847398227 (isbn13: 9781847398222)
The Burton Review Rating: 4.5 stars

The Blurb: "For the millions moved by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, here is Miep Gies's own astonishing story. For more than two years, Miep and her husband helped hide the Franks from the Nazis. Like thousands of unsung heroes of the Holocaust, they risked their lives every day to bring food, news, and emotional support to its victims. From her remarkable childhood as a World War I refugee to the moment she places a small, red-orange-checkered diary -- Anne's legacy -- into Otto Frank's hands, Miep Gies remembers her days with simple honesty and shattering clarity. Each page rings with courage and heartbreaking beauty."


I can't think of anyone who has not heard of Anne Frank or her diary that depicts the tragic story of the little girl who did not survive the holocaust. This is not another Anne Frank's Diary story, this is a memoir of a woman who met Anne Frank and her family during the horrors of Hitler's reign in Germany. This is the same woman who actually rescued the pages of the diary before it was trampled by the Germans when they were taken from their hiding place.

The woman who is nicknamed Miep briefly touches on her childhood of being adopted by a Dutch family out of her Austrian home due to malnourishment, though not a direct fault of her biological family. Miep writes of her growing up in the Dutch school and then when she later works in an office for Otto Frank. Otto Frank is the father of Margot and Anne Frank, and in 1940 the girls were 14 and 10 years old when Miep had already socialized with them for a few years. At this point, Hitler was Fuhrer of Germany for 6 years and his Nazi ways were beginning to strike more serious fears with onlookers. Miep mentions when England and France had declared war on Germany; while not deeply affected politically yet by these events, Miep explains how she had not hated another person as much as she had begun to hate Hitler then.

Miep details her personal life in this memoir, from her social life to advancing career in the growing office under Otto Frank and she writes in a casual tone of how she had reacted to the things going on around her. She realizes that the trouble in Germany has hit closer to home when her Austrian passport gets changed to a German passport complete with a Swastika stamp. Suddenly events turn for the worse with the increasing raids on the Jewish people, who had once found solace in the Netherlands, were now being pulled out of their homes and the streets and taken to Hitler's 'labor' camps. For years the war raged on, with the Jewish sympathisers being persecuted and tortured for information on the resistance. I was astonished and horrified as the story went on as to the treatment of all of the Dutch civilians.

For several years Miep helped to hide the Frank family in the upper floors of the office building of the company that Miep had worked at for Otto Frank. She then became a source of food, friendship, news and entertainment as two families and an eighth man were hidden in the cramped quarters. The scrounging for food became a daily struggle for Miep to procure for herself and those she helped to hide, but she did it without complaining. The details of the war via the information waves were slow to come and sometimes inaccurate but still there was little hope. Finally they hear of the Allies, that the British were coming, that America had joined the war and there was at last a glimmer of hope that perhaps Hitler would be stopped. But it did not impact the horrific way of living that the people had to survive, and my heart broke for them as Miep details simply the hardships she and her friends endured.

Otto Frank seems like a father figure to Miep and her husband, who was very calm, patient and exact with all things that occurred around him. I could feel the admiration Miep held for Otto. But Anne, how she affected Miep with her big saucer like round eyes, and how she probably haunted Miep every time she closed her own eyes. The bond the two had shared was palpable and heartbreaking; despite the age differences, Anne and Miep were close and had respect for each other, their choices of friends were limited due to their situation. Miep speaks of the little characteristics of Anne that continue to make her a real person to us today, and modestly yet powerfully she tells this story of how Miep survived the war, but others did not.

I learned about the ordeals the Dutch endured during the German Occupation, and I enjoyed looking at the pictures that were included of Miep, her friends and family, and Anne and the Frank family. I devoured this book even when my heart was breaking for Anne's family and yet I still wanted to know more of the compelling story. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in how one woman and her husband helped bring solace to many while risking their own lives to do so. Miep Gies was a wonderfully passionate woman, someone we can only hope to have on our side when sides needs to be chosen.

Miep Gies writes the afterword in this newly reissued edition, as she reaches her 100th birthday, where she also dispels some of the facts that had misconstrued previously through Anne Frank's Diary. She writes with conviction and authority, and anyone who wants to learn more about the personal ordeals of the Holocaust, and Anne Frank, this is an absolute must read. She has toured the world telling the story, although at times it seems she would rather not. She realizes that this is a story that needs to be told, over and over, lest we forget the personal horrors of one dictator.

I took Miep's advice and I have ordered "The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition" by Anne Frank. Although extremely sad, the story is still fascinating due to the nature of Anne Frank's personality, and the wonder of what was lost. Through Anne's diary, millions have felt her words and her story that should never be forgotten. And again, Miep has done the world a service by offering us her personal experiences with Anne, who is seen as one face of many who perished during the Holocaust.

Miep's official Website http://www.miepgies.nl/en/149.html

Mailbox Monday - From Medieval to Many Austen Sequels!!!

BurtonReviewMailbox
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased. Here's what I received during the last week:

Happy Monday to everyone!
I got some fun books this week, especially due to Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com .. Thanks for sharing these with me:


Now Face to Face by Karleen Koen, part of a trilogy which someday I'll remember which one to read first without having to ask Arleigh for the umpteenth time "The beloved heroine from Koen's bestselling Through a Glass Darkly returns in a passionate, unforgettable, romantic tapestry. A widow at age 20, emotionally devastated and financially ruined by the death of her husband in scandalous circumstances, Barbara Devane leaves colonial Virginia for London to confront her enemies and to pursue a deeply satisfying yet dangerous clandestine love."

Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment by Joan Aiken (2008)"In Aiken's sequel to Jane Austen's complex and fascinating novel, after heroine Fanny Price marries Edmund Bertram, they depart for the Caribbean, and Fanny's younger sister Susan moves to Mansfield Park as Lady Bertram's new companion. Surrounded by the familiar cast of characters from Jane Austen's original, and joined by a few charming new characters introduced by the author, Susan finds herself entangled in romance, surprise, scandal, and redemption. Aiken's diverting tale gives the reader interesting speculation on how the Crawfords, whose winning personalities were marred by an amoral upbringing, might have turned out, and Jane Austen's morality tale takes new directions with an unexpected and somewhat controversial ending."

Pemberley Shades by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt (2008) "Originally published in 1949, the unusual plot takes the Darcys into the realm of the Gothic. Mr. Darcy must appoint a new rector at Pemberley, which affords the author the opportunity to introduce a host of new characters to mingle with the beloved and familiar ones of Jane Austen.A delightfully witty plot, full of surprises:"Who could have foretold that Dr. Robinson, who had done nothing of note in all his lifetime should, by the common and natural act of dying, set in motion a train of events so strange, so startling, so far removed from probability as to emulate the riotous fancies of a disordered mind?" "The kind of story Jane Austen would have delighted to tell."-J. Donald Adams"

Mr. Knightley's Diary (2006) by Amanda Grange "Relive Jane Austen's Emma- from Mr. Knightley's point of view. Between managing his estate and visiting his brother in London, Mr. Knightley is both exasperated and amused by his irresistibly beautiful, outrageously mischievous neighbor, Emma Woodhouse, whose misguided attempts at matchmaking are wreaking havoc in the village of Highbury. But when a handsome newcomer arrives and catches Emma's attention, Mr. Knightley is shocked by his reaction. Amusement gives way to another emotion entirely-for his unreasonable dislike of the handsome newcomer seems suspiciously like jealousy."

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, a Novel by Syrie James (2008) "Many rumors abound about a mysterious gentleman said to be the love of Jane's lifefinally, the truth may have been found. . . What if, hidden in an old attic chest, Jane Austen's memoirs were discovered after hundreds of years? What if those pages revealed the untold story of a life-changing love affair? That's the premise behind this spellbinding novel, which delves into the secrets of Jane Austen's life, giving us untold insights into her mind and heart. Jane Austen has given up her writing when, on a fateful trip to Lyme, she meets the well-read and charming Mr. Ashford, a man who is her equal in intellect and temperament. Inspired by the people and places around her, and encouraged by his faith in her, Jane begins revising Sense and Sensibility, a book she began years earlier, hoping to be published at last. Deft and witty, written in a style that echoes Austen's own, this unforgettable novel offers a delightfully possible scenario for the inspiration behind this beloved author's romantic tales. It's a remarkable book, irresistible to anyone who loves Jane Austen and to anyone who loves a great story."


From Paperbackswap I received:
An Assembly Such as This (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman: Bk 1) by Pamela Aidan (2006)

"She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me." "So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen's classic novel is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy? In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley and reveals Darcy's hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice. As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley's persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows -- as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham. Setting the story vividly against the colorful historical and political background of the Regency, Aidan writes in a style comfortably at home with Austen but with a wit and humor very much her own. Aidan adds her own cast of fascinating characters to those in Austen's original, weaving a rich tapestry from Darcy's past and present. Austen fans and newcomers alike will love this new chapter of the most famous romance of all time."


The Reckoning by Sharon Kay Penman, (1991) from the Welsh Trilogy "Here, alive from the pages of history, is the compelling tale of a Celtic society ruled by Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, on a collison course with a feudal realm of Edward I. With this last book in the extraordinary trilogy that began with HERE BE DRAGONS and continued in FALLS THE SHADOW, Sharon Kay Penman has written a beautiful and moving conclusion to her medieval saga. For everyone who has read the earlier books in this incomparable series or ever wanted to experience the rich tapestry of British history and lore, this bold and romantic adventure must be read."

For Review, I received J.W. Nicklaus' collection of short stories "The Light The Dark and Ember Between" (Thank you to the author for sending this):
"The ever fluctuating state of the human condition and our life-long flirtation with Hope. A spectrum of short stories revolving around the very core of what most deeply affects us Love. From the wispy fog of a love lost at sea, to love lost and rediscovered, and the consequences of questionable choices made, each story provides a small glimpse into a commonly faceted emotion. Early reviews have called this collection elegiac and thoughtful, subtly witty, gently tragic, and declaring the stories as masterfully imbued with poignant insight, and a smooth, silky narration."

Jun 28, 2009

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Sunday Short


I just wanted to share some entertainment news that is slightly related to my fellow Historical Fiction Fans.


Do you remember hearing bits and pieces that Scarlett Johanssen was going to be cast as Mary, in the new Mary Queen of Scots film? There were lots of rumors circulating for a few years but nothing ever seemed to be happening with the actual filming. I had been hoping that the film would be made, but didn't really care if Scarlett was the lead. Seemed not the best choice when she was just in The Other Boleyn Girl as Mary Boleyn. We don't have to worry about that issue any longer, since the film has finally been officially scrapped according to the director Phillip Noyce on this blog site, citing of course, the economic climate.


And in honor of Henry VIII's Birthday today, our fave Henry VIII actor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been arrested on charges of “willful violence, outrage, hitting and threatening death.” He was cut off from the liquor at a Paris airport and was shouting at the staff things like ‘I’ll kill you all’ at the top of his voice. He also stated he could buy his way out of any problem. That's one way to support the economy.


And what a horrible week it has been .. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays! Unbelievable that I just watched Billy Mays on his Discovery channel TV Show.

Jun 27, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Plenty of Plaidy and Dragons!

The Sunday Salon.com



"What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...."

Hello my blogger buds. Welcome to today's Sunday Salon.. where we talk about books. And blogs, and stuff.

The highlight of my week was when I had the opportunity to read and review the book "Twilight of Avalon" by Anna Elliott, and she wrote a very interesting piece for my blog which I am thrilled to offer you here. I really appreciate the wonderful comments everyone left on my posts, they were very rewarding!

I did manage to read a good book this week, Partners, by David McGowan. My review is posted beneath this post, or click here. I am also giving the book away to help spread the word for a new author, as it really was a good easy read despite the stigma that self published books get.

I am now on to the next book in my to review pile and it is a reissue by Miep Gies called "Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman who Helped Hide the Frank Family". I could only find this reissue on the Amazon.uk website. I have a few books on my to be read pile that deal with WWII and I am interested in learning more about the many effects of wars and the lessons that should be learned from them. I had read and reviewed Burnt Shadows recently and I really enjoyed that one due to its splendid prose. Other than that I have not really read many wartime books probably due to the seriousness of the subject matter. I can now appreciate the depth of these stories and the consequences that we should respond to.

On a much more pleasurable note, I have another bookcase to add to the Burton household. This one is in my bedroom, which is now a relaxing haven if only I could stay in there and keep the kids out. I have my small favorite bookcase in there that holds my favorite Tudor/Wars of The Roses titles and this new bookcase holds my Jean Plaidy a.k.a. Victoria Holt collection. So if my counts are accurate I have 57 Plaidy titles, 8 by V. Holt and one by Phillippa Carr (another pseudonym). And most important: ROOM TO GROW! So I quickly snatched up a few more books from Abebooks to add to the collection which completes many of the series for me, I'll post those additions on a Mailbox Monday post when they arrive. I am still having difficulty getting a good price on the Plantagenet series, which is where my holes are now. The funny thing is that on Thursday we had a "sorting" question on our meme post, and everyone was different on how they sort their books. And of course the Plaidy Bookcase has the series in chronological order on the shelves but my husband is having difficulty with how there are paperbacks mixed in with a few hardcovers (the horror!).. he wants to see it flowing by size. I adamantly told him to get over it!! (But thank you honey for the new bookcase!)


The Miscellaneous Holt etc. are on the bottom shelf. When I actually do have the complete Plaidy collection I'll have to probably boot out a couple of the Holts, or just stack them on top of each other. If you enjoy Jean Plaidy then you really need to check out Royal Intrigue.

Do you see the curio next to the bookcase? Those are Krystonia dragons, from when I collected them a long time ago. They are still cute and whimsical to me. I started collecting them in 1992 and they are still in production which I just found out and that surprises me. Of course with the advent of Ebay they are not worth what I paid for them back then, but I enjoy their cute faces. The Krystonia line also produced four books detailing the events of the dragons and wizards, for which I have two of those books somewhere. A great teen read they were.

Thanks for reading folks, I hope you have a wonderful week!

Book Review: "PARTNERS" by D.M. McGowan

"Partners" by David McGowan
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing (September 16, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1934925810
The Burton Review Rating: 3.5 stars

The Blurb: "Thomas Brash is trying to escape but knows he never will. Pursuing him is the memory of the family he lost to cholera. Perhaps he believes that traveling alone in a wild, dangerous land will end all his memories; there is no doubt he wishes to be alone. Whatever his intentions the appearance of Frank Clement and the circumstances of that meeting upset those plans. Brash views Clement as an uneducated child who requires fatherly protection and guidance. Clement views Brash as a tenderfoot and can not understand how anyone who knows so little could live so long. These two loners are joined by others and they all become partners. Having achieved relative sanctuary and surrounded by civilization their wilderness past comes back to haunt them."


This book is reminiscent of the old-style westerns my mama used to read. It is set in Canada where, as an American, I really had no concept of their history and the frontier as we call it, so this was an intriguing setting. This is a story that flows easily between the concept of camaraderie and the intense events that the partners endure together; and the relationship that develops between two men who are very different. Surprising to both of the man they become partners as a consequence of a murderous event that brings them together as they then explore the Canadian West in 1866.

Frank is the young man looking for a sense of peace in his life after his parents die and coincidentally he meets Tom who is also moving on in life as he gets over the loss of his entire young family. We learn some of the history of the land that they travel, as they meet Blackfoot/feet Indians and fall in step with them and their customs. They fall in step with the indians and learn how to hunt buffalo and enjoy themselves as they try to figure out a way to get out of their camp without disrespecting them. They have several disputes with others which are well played out, and they even move on to pan for gold for awhile until they make enough money to create a homestead on. These two characters are likable for their distinguishing qualities; Frank is a young man who is very learned in the ability to survive the wilderness yet he is still a bit green in dealing amiably with others, while Tom exhibits his knowledge through words and has the important ability to circumvent disaster when facing difficult situations such as clashing cultures with the Blackfoot Indians.

The writing was straight forward and there really were not any slow points within the book. The author was quite knowledgeable regarding the customs of the Indians and I enjoyed learning some of them along the way as Tom taught Frank how to conduct himself with his new camp of Indians. Frank's speech though was a bit to get used to as his words were spelled out phonetically to show his western drawl style of speech. It certainly added to the authenticity of the character of Frank, and the dialogue helped distinguish between the other characters in the book that we were introduced to periodically. There are distinct stages in the book as the travelers moved along which were all interesting to read about, along with the new characters we meet along the way. At one point, Frank and Tom becomes part of a posse to catch a One Eared murderous man, and they also confront a colonel and his soldiers.

I imagine that those who grew up play-acting Cowboys and Indians in their backyards will really enjoy this story and the adventures that the partners have. I enjoyed the story and think anyone interested in a colonial era type story will enjoy this one. I am pleased to report that the author has just released "Homesteader", another Canadian western with a new set of characters.
In an effort to help a self published author out, I would like to promote readership for him by offering my read copy up to my blog readers, open to the USA.

Please comment here with your Email Address if you would like to be entered for this giveaway which ends on July 18th.

"The Sitting Swing" Winner

I am just dropping by to say I drew the names for the book giveaway on The Sitting Swing by Irene Watson.

The contest ended yesterday and the names are as follows:

using List Randomizer
There were 8 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
scotts gal
nfmgirl
alexa
wendy
mjcoward
rubymoon
nfmgirl
nfmgirl

There were several entries that were disqualified for not answering the question.
So the winner is:
ScottsGal aka MsBoatgal

Congratulations!! I hope everyone has a great weekend, I am off to get this weekend started!

Jun 26, 2009

Friday Fill-In: Guess the Famous Queen

Friday Fill-In's is Hosted by Janet

And...here we go!

For a fun treat at The Burton Review, for this one I want you to guess the famous person:

1. She had a great mum, but she was beheaded.
2. Robert Dudley is by my side, always.
3. I know this: supporters of the Queen of Scots must be tried.
4. Her ring is with me still.
5. These words apply to me: I was a shrewd ruler and a political force.
6. During my rule, the sun was shining.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a party at Hampton Court, tomorrow my plans include being entertained by William Shakespeare and Sunday, I want to defeat the Spanish Armada!
*Who am I?

Jun 25, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Unique Sorting

Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb; Deb says:
Browsing through my blog, I found a link to this post about the “Sorted Book Project.” Go read it. I’ll wait.
The idea is to take a few books and physically sort them in such a way that the titles make some kind of sense … something that I’ve never quite gotten around to doing and photographing, but which fascinates me.
What title/combinations can you come up with? (Bonus points if you actually assemble the books and photograph them, like in the original post.)
I would never do that type of sorting since that type of sorting does not make any sense to me.
The sorting I have right now for the three different bookcases are:
Bookcase one: 2 shelves in my bedroom- these are must reads on the Tudor and Wars of the Roses. All different authors, mostly hardcovers.
Bookcase two: Large case in Foyer- top shelf for ARC/Must Review. Below that are 52 Jean Plaidy's and assorted books along with a bottom shelf for the kids.
Bookcase three: Large case in Hallway-Chronologically ordered from Arthurian Legend to Medieval Era, to Tudor Era, to French Revolution and Marie Antoinette.
Bottom shelves are general fiction and a few self-help type.
That's my sorting. I must have a correct time-frame sorting of some type or I would freak out. Since I am not at home, no pictures for you. This was a kind of lame answer because I did not answer the question properly but I must get to work now :)

Jun 24, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - 'The Virgin's Daughters' by Jeane Westin

Sponsored by "Breaking the Spine". This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I (Paperback)by Jeane Westin
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (August 4, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0451226674

Product Description on Amazon:
"The story of Elizabeth I, as it’s never been told before—through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting closest to her…In a court filled with repressed sexual longing, scandal, and intrigue, Lady Katherine Grey is Elizabeth’s most faithful servant. When the young queen is smitten by the dashing Robert Dudley, Katherine must choose between duty and desire—as her secret passion for a handsome earl threatens to turn Elizabeth against her. Once the queen becomes a bitter and capricious monarch, another lady-in-waiting, Mistress Mary Rogers, offers the queen comfort. But even Mary cannot remain impervious to the court’s sexual tension—and as Elizabeth gives her doomed heart to the mercurial Earl of Essex, Mary is drawn to the queen’s rakish godson…"

It shall be interesting to see what genre this leans towards. I've seen this on other blogs (Historically Obsessed) already posted but with all the blogs being created lately it's hard to keep up with who has posted about what. So I throw caution to the wind this week and select this one although it may be a repeat to some, ans so I will add a couple more links to ones that will also be worthy additions to my library:

Visit Passages to The Past for a Giveaway Chance for this read! (open till July 6th). I am looking forward to Susan Holloway Scott's French Mistress, although I have another two of hers that I haven't read yet but I really want to!!

Also on my list that I looked at are two of the Catherine De Medici novels, one is being written by C.W. Gortner and he is working on final revisions now, and another one The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis that comes out in July.

Jun 23, 2009

Anna Elliott, author of 'Twilight of Avalon' Guest Post

The Burton Review welcomes Anna Elliott, author of the newly released "Twilight of Avalon". See my review beneath this post with some helpful links to Arthurian sites. Anna will also be by later to check on comments and questions, so please feel free to correspond through here! And a big thank you to Anna for allowing me to host this on my blog, I truly appreciate it.


Writing Historical Fantasy:
A Magical Balance

- By Anna Elliott

Ever since I wrote Twilight of Avalon, based on the Trystan and Isolde legend in the larger cycle of Arthurian tales, I've often been asked for thoughts on the enduring appeal of the King Arthur story. Why should that legend, perhaps more than any other in Western culture, have captured our imaginations for more than a millennium, have engendered countless retellings and reworkings of the old tale?
The answers are legion, of course. But for me, the unique enchantment of the Arthurian legends lies in their blend of fantasy and history.
The world of the legends is a recognizably historical one, part of our own past. Many scholars have explored the possibility of a real, historic Arthur--who, if he existed, was most likely a Celtic warlord of the mid fifth century, a warrior who led a triumphant stand against the incursions of Saxons onto British shores. Trystan, whose existence as a real historic figure is suggested by a memorial stone in Cornwall, was likely a roughly contemporary warrior, possibly the son of a Cornish petty king, whose cycle of tales were eventually absorbed into the legends growing up around Arthur and his war band.
And yet the world of the Arthur tales is one steeped in magic, as well. It's a world filled with the voices of prophecy, with enchanted swords and Otherworldly maidens and the magical Isle of Avalon, where Arthur lies in eternal sleep, healing of his wounds, waiting to ride once more in Britain’s greatest hour of need.
That combination of historical truth with the wonderful potential for magic was what most of all drew me to the Arthur stories when I first studied them in college. And it was what delighted me about living in my own version of the Arthurian world while writing Twilight of Avalon and the next two books in the trilogy.
The fifth century, when scholars agree a historic Arthur might have lived, was a brutal, chaotic time in Britain. Roman Britain had crumbled; Rome's legions had been withdrawn from this far-flung outpost of the empire, leaving the country prey to invading Pictish and Irish tribes from the west and north and to Saxon invasions from the east. It was in many ways also a crucible in which the British identity and sense of place was forged. And it is against this backdrop that Arthur appears, a war hero who led--or at least may have led--a victorious campaign against the invaders, driving them back for perhaps the space of a man's lifetime and so inspiring the roots of a legend that still captures our imaginations today.
I was fascinated by this possibility of a real King Arthur, and fascinated by the world in which he might have lived. So I decided to set my story there, to make my particular Arthurian world grounded in what scraps of historical fact we know of Dark Age Britain. And yet I wanted, too, to honor the original stories and their magical, legendary world--a world that after centuries of telling and re-telling, is as real in its own way as historical fact.
It was a bit of a balancing act, I discovered. My Isolde is the granddaughter of Morgan (sometimes known as Morgan le Fey in the original Arthur stories; a healer and enchantress of great renown). Isolde is gifted through Morgan with both the knowledge of a healer and with the Sight, which enables her to receive visions and hear voices from the Otherworld. All of which fitted in with what I'd read of both the legends and historical accounts of Celtic spirituality, pre-Christian Celtic belief, with its emphasis on the powers of herbs, on trances and dreams that transcend physical boundaries and touch an Otherworld that is separated from our own by only the thinnest of veils.
And yet, too, there were those elements of the original Trystan and Isolde tale that were harder to fit in with any degree of historical verisimilitude. Like the famous love potion, which in the original legend causes Trystan and Isolde to fall helplessly in love. So in those cases I took a more symbolic approach, which I've always felt is a way--though certainly not the only way--of reading the fantastical elements of the Arthurian tales. Dragons, for example, can be literal scaly monsters. But they can also be seen as a metaphor for the evil that exists outside the bounds of organised society. And a love potion like the one Trystan and Isolde accidentally imbibe can be viewed as a metaphor for the overwhelming, all-consuming nature of passionate romantic love.
So in the second book of the trilogy, Dark Moon of Avalon, Trystan and Isolde do journey together by boat, as in the original tale, and it is over the course of the journey that they deepen and develop their relationship, which again is true to the original legend. But the purpose of their journey is based on what scraps of historical fact we can gather about the shaky political situation of sixth-century Britain. And they don't need a literal draft of a magical potion to fall in love--only the magic of their own powerful emotional bond.
I did take a fair number of liberties with the legend--liberties that are, I hope, justified. After all, after so many centuries of re-tellings, adding yet another version of the story seemed silly unless I could add something new to the age-old tale. From first to last of the trilogy, Trystan and Isolde's story has been an absolute joy to work on. And my hope, now that the first book is out and I'm close to the completion of book three, is that readers of the books will experience at least a small echo of the unique blend of fantasy and historic truth that first drew me to the original tales.
*** Wasn't that just awesome?! Comments and questions, for Anna?
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Book Review: "Twilight of Avalon" by Anna Elliott & Arthurian Links to Ponder

Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan & Isolde Book 1 in a Trilogy by Anna Elliott
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (May 5, 2009)
Historical Fiction, Fantasy
ISBN-10: 1416589899
The Burton Review Rating: 4.75 EASILY MY NEW FAVORITE

The Blurb:
"Seven years ago, on the battlefield of Camlann, the great King Arthur was slain by Modred, his traitor son. And in the aftermath of battle, Isolde, daughter of Modred, was married to Arthur's heir, Britain's new high king, in a desperate bid to unite Britain's warring factions. But now Isolde's husband lies dead on another battlefield, and the Saxon tide that Arthur turned back is once more threatening Britain's shores. Only Isolde knows the truth: that her husband was killed, not by the Saxon enemy, but by a powerful nobleman who will stop at nothing to become the next high king. Mistrusted among the king's council for her father's treachery, and branded a witch by many for her skill at the healer's craft, Isolde's only hope for survival is Trystan, a mercenary warrior with a shadowed past. Together Isolde and Trystan must fight to protect the throne from the king's murderer, and expose a treasonous plot that could destroy Britain itself."

From my Teaser Tuesday post:
"I know. I saw him killed. I watched him die."
Isolde was distantly aware of Hedda's sharp gasp, but the remnants of the vision were gathering and forming before her once more, and the sound seemed to come from a long way off.

You really need to go Read an Excerpt on Anna Elliott's website.

I totally ate this book up. I love the myth and the legend behind it, and the unique twist that Anna puts on it. You've heard of the legend of King Arthur. Picture grey skies, howling winds and cold seas; the cover is perfect for this tale. Quite a legendary story it is with Arthur and his son Modred, who are both killed at Camlaan fighting each other. Though Lancelot is not present in the legend that the author pulls from, Anna Elliott's story begins with Modred's daughter Isolde as she learns that her husband of seven years, the High King Constantine, is killed fighting the Saxons. 6th century Britain as they know it is shifting, with its many kings with their own lands all vying for power. Isolde cannot trust anyone as she tries to make sense of what flashes she sees in her mind, and what is truth.

Elliott meanders slowly through Isolde's path of Dark Age Britain so that we are treated to descriptive characterizations and settings which are well illustrated as she struggles with her thoughts of the past and the present. Isolde used to have the power for visions (The Sight) but as we meet her, we learn she had been stripped of those powers somewhere about the time that she had married Constantine. Yet, somehow, she sees the event of Constantine's death, and learns that his death is not due to battle wounds but someone, although his face covered, supposedly on her side has murdered him. This knowledge she wisely keeps to herself as she treads lightly among the council members. She and the murderer know the truth, as she is quite alone in the world struggling for survival amongst power hungry warlords who believe Isolde to be a sorceress or a witch and would love to see her burnt at the stake.

Isolde is lucky to have crossed paths with Trystan, and she embarks on an adventure to save both her life and the Britain that her late husband had struggled to maintain. There is death, magic and survival all intertwined beautifully in the story that is legend for a reason. Anna Elliott uses the myth and lore to recreate the consequences of the Battle of Camlann in an enchanting tale that captures the reader from the start as we follow Isolde on her bitter journey.

I found each page to be a thrill and I completely relished the story itself. I loved the easy writing style of Anna Elliott, the picturesque narrative was complete and fulfilling. The author had to explain to the reader certain events of the past in order to make the present story work, requiring a lot of flashbacks with Isolde's grandmother Morgan appearing in quick visions or as a voice. Sometimes it fit well, other times it was a tad out of place as if it were forced in to help prove a point. But most of the time the cohesiveness gelled with the flow of the story so this is a minor issue. Using the strong-willed Isolde as a central character in this story the reader immediately bonds to her and empathizes with her as she endures issues that a modern day woman can relate to. I am not going to go further into the events of the story because I know you are going to want to read this book on your own and follow Isolde's journey yourself. If you are familiar with the love story of Tristan and Iseult, this is not the same story. Perhaps the characters are the same but there is not a strong resemblance, at least in this first book. There is no romance here, and nothing alludes to it either. This is merely the story of how Isolde tries to honor her promise to her dead husband in saving Britain from the traitorous Lord Marche.

The only warning about Anna Elliott's book I would give is that her Trystan has a mouth on him and likes to invoke the Lord's name in vain. I believe the author is trying to prove a small point here in which the world of Isolde had once been one tolerant of witches yet is now the new Britain who recently became Christian.
Do you remember the days in high school when you would adorn your bedroom walls with posters and pictures you loved? A blow up of this book cover would be one of them, complete with its title and wording, so that the feeling of the magical story can be remembered each day. Anna Elliott's interpretation of the aftermath of Arthur's Britain is a wonderful addition to the myriad of Arthurian books, as I am anxiously awaiting Book 2, Dark Moon of Avalon due out in May 2010. The prologue to Dark Moon is up on Anna Elliott's website; the working title of Book Three is Sunrise of Avalon. I can't wait to see those covers as well! The Bridgeman Art Library has had the best book covers I've seen this year. Thank you so much to Anna Elliott for weaving this fine tale, now hurry up and get the rest of series published!!

If you watched Tristan & Isolde, the movie with the gorgeous James Franco, there is also no resemblance from this particular book to the movie, and I also loved the movie. I have not read Rosalind Miles' trilogy or the classic by Bedier, but I will. Recommended to me was Mists of Avalon, twice over, so I will add that to my shelf also. I have a growing Arthurian Book Collection.
Read some other Reviews:
Reading The Past (with some more background included)
A Reader's Respite
Jenny Loves To Read
S. Krishna's Books

In honor of Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer's Day I am also including here links of interest for those wanting to do some more perusing of the King Arthur story:
A group of links from Anna's Site
And then sent to me by Anna Elliott herself are these picks (thank you!):
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~merrie/Arthur/ is very well-structured and gives a good basic grounding in the Arthur legends.
http://www.geocities.com/vortigernstudies/bibliograrth.htm is more scholarly and probably for true Arthur/history enthusiasts only--but it has some fascinating articles.
http://www.gorddcymru.org/twilight/camelot/art/index.htm is a library of paintings and illustrations inspired by Arthurian legend.
Others:
Regarding The Tomb and the History http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/gerald.htm

A teacher's blog with interesting video http://anaeoilangreo.blogspot.com/2009/05/king-arthur.html

Pics of Cornwall Trip, Students In Search of Arthur http://efljblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/king-arthur-discovered-though-he-had-no.html
A King Arthur Author Blog http://blog.kingarthur.org.uk/?cat=17

A background on the Lore http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/king-arthur/

BlogTalk Radio Questioning the Evidence http://www.blogtalkradio.com/localelives/2009/01/10/The-Legend-of-King-Arthur
Happy Surfing as we await Anna's next installment! Also visit the guest post that Anna wrote for Historical-Fiction.com
And in honor of Fantasy Writer's Day, Anna has graciously agreed to write a little Guest Post for this blog! I am so excited for that and that is posted above this review, which covers her thoughts on writing a historical work on something as elusive yet familiar as King Arthur's Legend.
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Teaser Tuesday - Partners

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!



I am reading "Partners" by D.M. McGowan and I am not afraid to say its a Self Published book

"It is not because I have the heart of a spirit talker. I am a leader in battle. Men do not fight well when they hate. They fight better when they think."

-- RedShirt, p.73


Jun 22, 2009

Mailbox Monday & Winnings!

BurtonReviewMailbox
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased. Here's what I received during the last week:

Happy Monday to everyone! I cashed in on some Good Luck with Giveaways I had won recently.

From a Mother's Day giveaway Julie http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/ I won the following: (supposed to be 5 but they sold out of Miracle Mother, which is good news for them I am sure!)



"Beginner's Greek" A Novel by James Collins

"Is love at first sight possible or just an old-fashioned romantic idea? And what if, to further complicate things, you meet the love of your life and then lose her phone number? Then what if, after the impossible happens and you find her again, she's now about to marry a roguish lothario who is also your best friend? The complications don't end there for Peter Russell, the winning hero of James Collins' charming, generous, and romantic first novel. Part modern-day Jane Austen, part Tom Wolfe, Beginner's Greek is a romantic comedy of the highest order, with characters who are perfectly, charmingly real as they swerve and stumble from fairy tale to social satire and back again. "

"Mommy Grace: Erasing Your Mommy Guilt" by Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman
"Universally, mothers tend to feel they are not good enough at parenting and fear they are harming their children by not being perfect. In Mommy Grace: Erasing Mommy Guilt, Sheila Schuller Coleman offers overwhelmed moms short but emotive stories of authentic motherhood from her own and others' experiences-foibles and all-and offers comfort by showing how God makes up for human weakness with His own strength. ...
more"



"Odd Mom Out" by Jane Porter
"Advertising executive Marta Zinsser is no poster child for her wealthy Seattle suburb-and nothing could please her more. This former New Yorker wears combat boots, not Manolos, and drives a righteous Harley hog instead of a Mercedes SUV. Now she's launching her own agency in this land of the Microsoft elite, even though her ten-year-old daughter wishes she'd put on a sweater set and just be normal. ...
more"





"
The Road Home" A Novel by Rose Tremain
"In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev makes his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter. After a spell of homelessness, he finds a job in the kitchen of a posh restaurant and a room in the house of an appealing Irishman who has already lost his family. Never mind that Lev must sleep in a bunk bed surrounded by plastic toys--he has found a friend and shelter. However constricted his life in England remains, he compensates by daydreaming of home, by having an affair with a younger restaurant worker, and by trading gossip and ambitions via cell phone with his hilarious friend Rudi, who, dreaming of the wealthy West, lives largely for his battered Chevrolet. ...
more"


From a giveaway at My Friend Amy's:
"A Passion Most Pure" Book One in The Daughters of Boston Series by Julie Lessman
"As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart." – January 2008; A Passion Redeemed – September 2008; A Passion Denied – May 2009

From Reviewer X I won The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams and she had 50 winners! WOW That was a BIG contest.
"An unsettling and courageous story about one girl who sacrifices everything familiar in her search for freedom--physical freedom and, more importantly, freedom of the heart and mind. Though the book is chilling from page one, Carol Lynch Williams' economic and poetic use of language makes this potentially sensational story somehow beautiful, compassionate, and full of hope in the midst of tremendous loss. This is not a black and white exposé of cults, but a complex exploration of the ties that bind us to places and people that hurt us, the wrenching decisions we sometimes must make in order to survive, and the saving power of the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to bear.” --Sara Zarr, author of the 2007 National Book Award Finalist Story of a Girl

And since I won 2nd place in that Twitter Paperbackswap Background Design Contest, I started using some of my prize credits at Paperbackswap and I received: (so far!)

The Borgia Bride :: Jeanne Kalogridis "Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. Surrounded by the city's opulence and political corruption, she befriends her glamorous and deceitful sister-in-law, Lucrezia, whose jealousy is as legendary as her beauty. Some say Lucrezia has poisoned her rivals, particularly those to whom her handsome brother, Cesare, has given his heart. So when Sancha falls under Cesare's irresistible spell, she must hide her secret or lose her life. Caught in the Borgias' sinister web, she summons her courage and uses her cunning to outwit them at their own game. Vividly interweaving historical detail with fiction, The Borgia Bride is a richly compelling tale of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, loyalty, and drama."


Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation :: Joseph J. Ellis
"In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award-winning author of American Sphinx explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals -- Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison -- confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.The United States was more a fragile hope than a reality in 1790. During the decade that followed, the Founding Fathers -- re-examined here as Founding Brothers -- combined the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the content of the Constitution to create the practical workings of our government. Through an analysis of six fascinating episodes -- Hamilton and Burr's deadly duel, Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address, Adams' administration and political partnership with his wife, the debate about where to place the capital, Franklin's attempt to force Congress to confront the issue of slavery and Madison's attempts to block him, and Jefferson and Adams' famous correspondence -- Founding Brothers brings to life the vital issues and personalities from the most important decade in our nations' history."


I also wanted to say that I have only received one mailing address for the winners of the Mating Rituals Book Giveaway. I have emailed the winners, and there are two outstanding responses. If I have not heard from them by Tuesday AM I will randomly choose two winners.
Still awaiting kalea_kane and mgood222 so if any of you know them, poke them for me!

Jun 21, 2009

Book Review: "My Lord John" by Georgette Heyer

"My Lord John: A tale of intrigue, honor and the rise of a king" by Georgette Heyer
Product ISBN: 9781402213533
Price: $14.99
449 pages (includes Genealogy charts, preface, characters, glossary and reading guide)
Publication Date: May 2009 by Sourcebooks
The Burton Review Rating: 1.75 - 2 stars

"Set in the last days of the reign of Richard II, just before Henry V succeeded him to the throne, the eponymous hero is Henry's brother, John, Duke of Bedford. Heyer brings the medieval world to life, creating a panoramic view of a royal family's intricacies, intrigues and sibling rivalries, along with the everyday lives of the servants, clerics, and vassals in their charge."

That blurb is significant to remember as you read this. It is quite true regarding the details that Heyer retells, and when preparing my own review of the book I had specifically come up with the word "panoramic" to describe this, and afterwards realized that the description was not unique to me. But the word fits splendidly due to the nature of the book. My Lord John is immediately plagued by a quagmire of names... so much so, that I doubt that anyone unfamiliar with the era of Medieval times up to the Wars of the Roses would even want to attempt to understand what is going on here. I have read medieval fiction and non-fiction before but this one starts off with so many names including nurses, wives etc. having dialogues with each other without proper introductions to the reader that I had to stop reading and brush up again on the nobility of Medieval England. When you open a novel that begins with pages of family tables and genealogical references, you know you'll need to get your thinking cap on.

Heyer opens this novel up with 1393 - 1399 when Richard II is king, and is known as Cousin Richard to the lordings (the children) that we are immediately introduced to. Right off the bat I came across some interesting words that I had to look up. (Barbican, postern, herber.) This time I had the forethought to look in the back of the book and found the glossary and a reading guide! Heyer captures the dialogues between the lords with seemingly accurate phrases for Medieval times (hence the need for the glossary) and jumps right into her settings without much of a preamble. The story continues with the lordings of Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) and the small details of their comings and goings as they learn through gossip and messengers the goings-on of their King, Cousin Richard and the political upheaval the King creates which drastically effects the children. These lordings of Henry of Bolingbroke are number four boys and two girls, but the most important are Harry and John and given the most attention to in Part I. Harry who later becomes King Henry V after his own father is king, is taken under the wing of Richard II (or taken hostage, depends on how you look at it), and John is the My Lord John as referred to in the title. (I am really struggling to not turn this into a history lesson!).

Major events occur around the family such as the headstrong uncle to the King Richard, Thomas Woodstock is murdered after being sent into exile, more plots and arrests and soon after the children's father, Henry of Bolingbroke is also sent away. Hence, uprisings among the families and the start of the Wars of The Roses soon after that although not reaching that part in the book. I soon found that I was becoming engrossed with the story once it started to feel like Heyer was staying in one place with the characters at this point, but then she lost me again as we reach the 1400's when John becomes a Lord Warden in the North. The transition of King Henry IV after King Richard is deposed is cumbersome and drawn out. Heyer attempts to recreate the relationship of the boys with their father King Henry, but the grasp is tenuous at best. John's elder brother Harry is sent to deal with the Welsh and Owen Glendower. Their brother Thomas goes to Ireland. The two sisters Phillippa and Bess are married off and scarcely mentioned again except when the one dies which causes heartache for her father the King. Ongoing rivalries plague Lord John, the relationships with the nobles and the King are the focus, and the outcome of traitors and heretics are dispersed throughout. The problems with the new Pope are mentioned and the politics with their neighboring countries are also discussed, always in the glazed overview of minute details over and over.

The relationship between Henry and Harry, father and son, is also a running theme throughout the book, as the one is destined to succeed the other. The rivalries of the many families are a confusing mess throughout the book, with seemingly every family name featured such as Beauforts, Nevilles, Hastings, Beauchamps, Huntingdon, Kent, Despenser.. the list goes on and on and I am quite thankful for handy reference guide in the beginning of the book: four and a half pages devoted to "The Characters", and I enjoyed the Genealogy tables as well as the preface written by Heyer's husband.


Heyer fans like me who have only read her romance and mystery novels are in for an about face, as this is truly pure historical in nature and not with the usual comedic settings or romantic rendezvous nor the tongue-in-cheek of slapstick comedy romps that Heyer is best known for. At first look I believed I could only recommend this work to those who are very familiar with the background of this turbulent era, and for those who would like a closer look at John and the circumstances of his upbringing and his relationship with his family. But the fact that there was no sense of satisfaction from this book, I now hesitate to recommend this at all. I cannot truly imagine there being any new insights here that would be better be accomplished through reading a less time consuming and more engaging book.

I wanted to really, really like this novel, but this time I have to say that as both a Heyer fan, and Medieval era fan, I obviously did not enjoy this. It started to become a chore for me but I was pulled through only by Heyer's interpreting of the dialogues between the subjects which were interesting if they were not interrupted by Heyer's backtracking through explanatory history. Through the conversations of the nobles is when Heyer's wit shone through, unfortunately there was just not enough of this to make this tome worthwhile to me. It is said that Heyer researched meticulously for this book, which was published after her death, and she originally had intended to publish three books. Perhaps if more drama was inserted within which would merit it a historical fiction work, and indeed separating out and dramatizing the major events throughout the three books, this endeavor would have succeeded. But instead, a billion details about many characters of the time are squashed into 440 pages that lack the typical Heyer flair. The wording that Heyer uses to detail the story does not promote its readability, it actually hindered any progress that could have been made. It also had the feeling of one step forward, two steps back with the myriad of recollections of events amidst the current storyline.

The wording was dull, dry and emotionless and read more like a text book rather than the intended novel. There is zero romance, and I am very confused as to why on the Amazon website the editorial review is "rapturously romantic". Unless the use of 'romantic' the reviewer meant antiquated. Not a single romance brewing unless of course the mere mention of a death of one wife and the marrying of another (or the mentioning of having an affair) is what is called romantic! The Amazon tags also bring up Romance and Regency in several forms and there is none of that in this work. The cover for this book, although pretty, has nothing to do with this book either. I would put a warrior's shield on it in place of the woman (or even a man to represent John). The fact that the book trudges along for endless pages till its absolute insane conclusion in MID-SENTENCE because Heyer's manuscript breaks off there is utterly asinine!

Bloggiesta Wrap Up

Thanks to Natasha at Maw Books for hosting Bloggiesta! Natasha has given us some things to put in this wrap up. Here they are:
Your final summary post should ideally include the number of hours spent on the challenge, what you accomplished, the mini-challenges you participated in, number of comments you left while bloggiesting, what you enjoyed most about the challenge and what you’d like to see included in the next Bloggiesta. Yes! We will do it again!



My original Bloggiesta Post is Here where I updated/edited as I went along throughout the day. And I spent ALL DAY Saturday on the computer, minus the simple children interruptions used as a break from the laptop. And then when I wasn't on the laptop and I was outside 'with' the kids, I was on the iPhone doing the google reader and twittering #bloggiesta.

So what did I manage to do? Since everything is a work in progress with me, I didn't create a checklist out loud. I had the simple things to do and then I played follow the leader and participated in some of the mini-challenges that had us improve our blog in a specific way.

The Simple Stuff I completed:
Created and scheduled upcoming Blog Posts including 2 Reviews.

Created an EMAIL ME Button

Created an ALL REVIEWS Button to link to all my Reviews listed in one place

Updated my Profile verbage slightly
Unsuccesfully tried to complete Technorati signup, but it's their fault not mine: they stink.
Analyzed my Google analytics dashboard just for fun. My Booking Through Thursday post was a hopping post, what fun!
Fixed and sharpened my Header Picture of Chatsworth
Cleaned up my Sidebar
Made a new MailboxMonday Pic to further brand my graphics. Not too sure if I like it but it'll work for now.


Part of the MiniChallenges hosted at other blogs included:

My personal Favorite: Created and Installed a Favicon so instead of the Orange B for blogger in the Address bar and on the tabs, you see the little green thing for the challenge at at HeyLady! Whatcha Reading

Created a Gravatar for the Challenge at HeyLady! Whatcha Reading so when I post on blogs hosted at Wordpress the BurtonReviewButton Shows up but the gravatar crops it to 80x80 and wouldn't let me upload my own gravatar without cropping it.

Added my blog to Directories for A MiniChallenge at Chronicles of an Infant Bibliophile

For the Challenge at Bookish Ruth I did the website grader at http://website.grader.com/ and increased my grade for 79 to 82 by adding META tags and keywords. Here's the easy way for Blogger.

For The Challenge at EmilysReading Room I added the term BurtonReview to create a total of 11 Google Alerts for me. Which resulted in me finding this, a ripped off post.

Devourer of Books had a mini challenge called you talking about me? about updating outdated things. Which I did with the stuff I did above.

MyFriendAmy has a challenge for a Blogging Buddy. Which I did not participate in. ;-D I was a loner in HS and I still am not someone who will go and ask someone to be my friend.

EDIT I humbly accept Sheri's offer to be my friend :) and blogging buddy, Thanks Sheri! She has an awesome blog at A Novel Menagerie by the way.

Also did not participate officially in the Fizzy Thoughts challenge about commenting because I did not see it till now. But I did comment all day long.

I also Twittered #bloggiesta all day long, I commented on the above challenges, I commented on other Bloggiesta Participants Posts and non-participants too, probably at least 10 times, in doing so I was also contacted by an author to review his book. Some people did comment back to me in Twitterland that I otherwise would not have 'met' without using the #bloggiesta hashtag, so the meeting new people part was fun. I do wish there was a little more feedback in general for me but Natasha was very supportive, she must have been on the computer for hours also. Now I see where there were more Challenges I could have participated in which I wish I had, but I didn't see them until today. So another suggestion would be to get a main page set up at one direct spot that everyone points to that shows where EVERY challenge is and WHAT it really was about, not just a vague blurb.

comments left by me elsewhere = 10 +

Hours spent for #Bloggiesta = 15

OKay that's about all I can think of, I feel like I did a lot more! That technorati thing peeves me still though.

Any other comments/compliments ar appreciated, ideas etc. I am open to.


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The Sunday Salon: Happy Father's Day

The First Precious Moment I ever received was from My Dad, the one that is called Make a Joyful Noise, like the one shown below.



We interrupt normal Blog Programming in honor of a Special Day, for a Special Man. I'm sure you understand, but I just can't let this day go by as if it were like any other. Actually, I began blogging shortly after the saddest event of my life, as a sort of outlet and a chance to focus on something positive. In a round about way, this sad event comes back full circle to the blog.

This is a bittersweet day for me. I have my husband to be thankful for, as he is the loving father of my children, and a very supportive husband to me, but I will always feel a sense of loss on this day. It does not seem sufficient to simply call it a 'sense', as it is an utter profoundly real feeling of grief and sorrow. My father unexpectedly died the night before Thanksgiving, last year. So this is my first Father's Day ever without my Father. It was a heart attack, and there was nothing to be done. He was not old at 59, nor was he young. He was plagued by different ailments such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but no one expects the sudden shock of losing someone so dear to you, without being affected by this for the rest of one's life.

The disbelief and the sorrow are the first feelings I had when I got the news.. a moment that is forever burned into my soul that I wish I could seal away forever, complete with its feeling of continued punches to the gut.. That moment of unimaginable disappointment, the regret of not speaking with my dad that day, that complete desolation that still at six months later does not get any better when I selfishly think of all I and others have lost. But I have to think of the spirit of my father, and knowing that he is indeed happy where he is now, at peace, I have to share him with God. I have to come to terms with the reality that no, he will not see his grandchildren grow and prosper; he will not physically feel the hugs and kisses from those he left behind. I have to remind myself as the lump in my throat gets bigger and harder to manage, that my father is watching us now and loving us with all of his newfound strength. I tell myself that he must be watching from above as my daughter brings home her final First grade report card, and he is giving her angel kisses as he congratulates her on her straight A+'s.

I remember that growing up, I persevered in my schooling specifically for my father, for him that I admired so much; he was learned in all things and inspired my own quest for learning. He gave me his approval, he shared his love for words, both English and French, and would leave me inspiring notes in the morning before school addressed to "ma cherie" and other sentiments. He would sneak in a little extra mad money he called it, and he would come home from work with a little extra something he picked up along the way. I was always Daddy's Little Girl, and enjoyed holding his hand in the grocery store even when we both knew I was too old to do so. He would expect perfection, accept less, and love me either way. He gave me a sense of self, taught me to be stubborn, and instilled a desire to be better in all things. He seemed all-powerful, and I did not see him shed a tear until he lost his own father, when I was 12. I remember early one morning hearing him crying, and me asking him if he was okay. He did not mean to wake me, but he couldn't hold it in any longer. I did not know what to do to comfort him but to rub his back. Perhaps he is doing the same for me, now, as I cry for the loss of him. Another time he cried was when my first-born made her way into this crazy world, and I could feel his love and approval, and his rapture for the accomplishment that he knew was mine.

He once wrote to me, "No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, what anything means, until he has a daughter and loves her. And then his whole life, his whole universe, changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before. And so it is with you." And so it is with you, too, Dad. He later wrote, "No matter how difficult life may seem at times, you have within you the love, the power, the ability, and the knowledge to make things better. You are special. I hope you know that though we will not always be together, I am always here to love you."

My dad was a great man, who dedicated himself to his career after he left the Air Force where he served during Vietnam. He stayed with the Suffolk County Police Department for 32 years, and reached the highest level of the Communications Department as Supervisor of Technical Services and Police Communications Systems Director. He was posthumously awarded with The Commissioner's Career Achievement Award. Congrats, Dad, you earned it!
"For over 32 years, Mr. Gardner was instrumental in developing and supporting
numerous improvements to the communication systems of the Police Department,
F.R.E.S., and other county agencies."


One of the poems that my father and I shared together and were in awe over together was by Dylan Thomas. Little did I know the significance of this poem until the moment he left this earth.
Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.




love you Dad, forever and ever more. I will miss you always, but will persevere, for you. -- your little girl.


To my readers: If you still have your own father out there, let this be a reminder to you that this time will come for you also, which is unfortunate. Please try not to have any regrets when the time does come.


When this unthinkable happens to someone, the one thing that they beg and wish for.. is one more chance.. one more hug.. one more goodbye.. Take that chance when you have it and stop putting it off. Time slips away.

(In the following photos, I had recently given birth to my second brat, so I still look preggers here.. I still have not managed to get to my ideal weight 2 years later now, and I think I gave up hope anyway! Dad had traveled from NY to TX to meet his first Grandson, and these pictures are from that visit. My daughter Morgan had taken some of these pictures and I am so lucky that she did, as she brought out the fun side in him. This is not a high quality video but it helped me during a period of extreme grief).







Dad, your love will last me an eternity, and I am fueled by your inner strength. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me, and making me want to be a better person.


I hope everyone out there enjoys this special day if they still have a father figure to honor, and uses it wisely!



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