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Sep 21, 2009

Book Review: "The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York" by Margaret Campbell Barnes

"The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York" by Margaret Campbell Barnes
This Reissue by Sourcebooks October 2009
Original Publication 1953
The Burton Review Rating:3.5 Stars

"One woman holds the key to England's most glorious empire in this intimate retelling of the launch of the Tudor dynasty.
A magnificent portrait of Elizabeth of York, set against the dramatic background of fifteenth century England. Elizabeth, the only living descendant of Edward IV, has the most valuable possession in all of England—a legitimate claim to the crown. Two princes battle to win Britain's most rightful heiress for a bride and her kingdom for his own. On one side is her uncle Richard, the last Plantagenet King, whom she fears is the murderer of her two brothers, the would-be kings. On the other side is Henry Tudor, the exiled knight. Can he save her from a horrifying marriage to a cut-throat soldier?
Thrust into the intrigue and drama of the War of the Roses, Elizabeth has a country within her grasp—if she can find the strength to unite a kingdom torn apart by a thirst for power. A richly drawn tale of the woman who launched one of the most dramatic dynasties England has ever seen, The Tudor Rose is a vibrant, imaginative look at the power of a queen."

Elizabeth of York is the eldest daughter of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward IV who seems to be of a strong character based on all accounts of her life. She was ultimately used as a pawn in the ongoing political struggles caused by the Wars of The Roses but was instrumental in uniting the two different parties of the wars. Elizabeth's younger brothers Edward and Richard were the infamous Princes in the Tower who disappeared at some point in 1483, which the novel paints a depressing but realistic picture of what is probable to have happened. Her uncle Richard, who had made himself King of England after conveniently declaring Elizabeth's parents' marriage invalid, is portrayed as a sinister man in this novel. He even goes so far as to entertain the idea of marrying Elizabeth himself, but luckily for her the Londoners have too much respect for their daughter of York and force him to deny the prospect.

Elizabeth, usually called Bess in the novel, is seen as a sacrificial lamb for the sake of England as she sets her hopes on Henry Tudor. Her motto as queen was Humble and Reverent, and she seems to be so in every sense of the phrase. We slowly go through the events that lead up to the decision that Elizabeth is forced to make between her Plantagenet relations or for the future hope for England. After England's years of the Wars of the Roses, Henry Tudor ends the Wars with his defeat of Richard at the Battle of Bosworth. Eventually, Elizabeth and Henry are married which united the red rose of the Lancastrians with the white rose of the Yorkists, forming the red and white Tudor rose.

Henry Tudor was a change to the Yorkist upbringing that Elizabeth was used to, and the novel meanders through Elizabeth's thoughts as she is finally made Queen of England. We are made to wonder why Henry took years to crown Elizabeth, it was only after she gives birth to the Tudor heir that it is done for her. Even though Henry was always a frugal man and did very little to support the pageantry known to previous Kings and Queens, he does offer a grand coronation for Elizabeth which is one of the few nice things he seems to do for her.

We see more than a glimpse of Henry's politics and his coldness towards Elizabeth. The novel seems consumed by it. There is also always the back story of the lost princes and the possibilities of their demise. The pretenders or impostors are also featured here and show us how Elizabeth was affected by the loss of her little brothers, in particular young Dickon, which made Elizabeth's character a bit more real. On the other hand, Elizabeth's mother is portrayed as having no scruples as to the whereabouts of her boys, she has no hope for their survival and is portrayed as a cold woman without much to live for. I would have preferred a bit more insight into the old Queen's character, but she was not the main character. Instead we see everything through her daughter Elizabeth's eyes, as we see her through her younger days, then through her child birthing and we are privy to her many thoughts regarding the passionless husband of hers.

Contrary to popular (factual?) belief there is a loving relationship between Margaret Beaufort, Henry's mother, and Elizabeth portrayed throughout. Although fitting neatly with the novel, this bothered me since I have always heard of the way Margaret went out of her way to make Elizabeth uncomfortable. I look forward to some upcoming works regarding Margaret Beaufort so that I can determine the validity of the claims of Beaufort's harshness.

The novel continues its story to the upbringing of the four surviving Tudor children, to the death of the firstborn Arthur Tudor in 1502 who was betrothed to Catherine of Aragon. The span of about twenty years is covered in this novel, and in the last half of the book is mostly comprised of Elizabeth's reactions to Henry's political decisions. It is not a fast paced and thrilling read, but still holds the reader captive for its substantial subject matter. Elizabeth of York, a proud Plantagenet, along with her Tudor husband, helped to bring England to a time of prosperity that was not known for a very long time. Their children included Margaret, who became Queen of Scotland, and the infamous Henry VIII who had six wives, and Mary who was briefly Queen of France. Elizabeth and her younger son Henry had a loving relationship, and with its portrayal in the novel it was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book as he was one of the few that showed love to Elizabeth. The major events and intrigue that occurred around Elizabeth of York make this a worthwhile read for those interested in the formation of the Tudor dynasty and although it seemed slow going at times I still recommend this to those interested in Elizabeth's point of view.

Edited to add on October 2:

(Thank you Sourcebooks!) Sourcebooks is providing a Giveaway for this book to one lucky reader in the USA & Canada, no P.O. Boxes.

To enter:

Comment with your Email Address and Follow this Blog.

+1 entry for Twitter (@BurtonReview) or Facebook share

+2 Entries for Blog Sidebar Graphic Link to this post.

Giveaway Ends Friday, 10/16 Midnight EST. Good Luck!

Mailbox Monday~ I won ALL these!!

Edited to Add that I am ecstatic to announce that Claire from The Anne Boleyn files won the Cleaopatra's Daughter!
Congrats, Claire!

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

This week, all SEVEN of my new books came from Giveaways I won, I had a great lucky streak in August & early September, and here they come. And it may seem like I just enter giveaways randomly given the way I have all these books all of a sudden, but I promise that I don't take the opportunity from other readers unless I really do want to read the books!! So here we go:

From So Many Precious Books, So Little Time!
I won The Blue Star: A Novel by Tony Earley:

"Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two. Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity. With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time--making it again even realer than our own day."

From A Novel Menagerie I won The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

"January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name."

From Dan's Journal I won some books that would be perfect for Serena and Anna's War Through The Generations challege:
On The Bluffs by Steven Schindler
"SOMETIMES THE BIGGEST LIES ARE THE ONES WE LIVE While Brian DeLouise was working the graveyard shift at a conspiracy theory-crazed radio station his wife was alley-catting around Washington, DC. But a cheating wife and a dead-end job no longer made him angry or depressed. He was just numb. It took a daring brush with death to awaken his senses and a few clicks on Google to begin a journey to recapture a love he believed was gone forever. Brian finds his lost lover in a rundown mansion on the windswept bluffs of Cape Cod, where he must confront a fast approaching evil while he risks losing everything he now cherishes."

The Sentinels: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman
"In this riveting amalgam of political intrigue, poignant romance, and bare-knuckled action, six friends risk everything to thwart an international Nazi conspiracy. In the financial devastation of the 1930s, a greedy, power-hungry group of German industrialists plot to usher in the National Socialist Party in order to rearm Germany and reap the financial rewards. Thus rises Hitler. With Hitler in power, the Six Sentinels, graduates of an elite American doctoral program, uncover the industrialists' plan to hoard hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal war profits. Using their financial and familial connections around the globe, they work to foil the machinations of the financiers of the Third Reich. In a daring strategy of Robin Hood style thievery, the sentinels put their lives on the line to serve justice--and thus become embroiled in a dangerous and violent international conspiracy.
A gripping story that escalates at every turn, The Sentinels: Fortunes of War is the first in a series that follows the Six Sentinels as they continue to alter the course of history."

Giv: The Story of a Dog and America by Boston Teran
"My name is Dean Hickok, sergeant, late of the U.S. Marines. I nearly ran down a dog one night on a back road during a Kentucky rainstorm. The dog, it turned out, had been made to suffer and left to die in a crate. But his will to survive, his determination to overcome the many cruelties inflicted upon him, and the ultimate and unabated goodness that abided in him afterward, are the actual reason these pages bearing my name exist at all. I was profoundly wounded of heart and empty of purpose as I drove through the Kentucky darkness that night. I had recently returned from Iraq, the lone survivor of my squad, when my headlights bore through a sweeping rain to find him there, stumbled and fallen. Both of us being on that same road, on that night, and at that moment, was not an accidental happenstance but the poetry of fate. For as much as I saved a dogs life, he saved mine."

From Reading the Past, Sarah had a fantastic title game and all of her participants were winners. Entrants had a puzzle to work from to find current titles and authors, and the top winner found 106 books! I only found 75, I told myself to stop there and I had no idea there would really be so many more! But it was great fun! The books I chose as a participant were:

East of the Sun: A Novel by Julia Gregson "As the Kaisar-i-Hind weighs anchor for Bombay in the autumn of 1928, its passengers ponder their fate in a distant land. They are part of the "Fishing Fleet" -- the name given to the legions of Englishwomen who sail to India each year in search of husbands, heedless of the life that awaits them. The inexperienced chaperone Viva Holloway has been entrusted to watch over three unsettling charges. There's Rose, as beautiful as she is naïve, who plans to marry a cavalry officer she has met a mere handful of times. Her bridesmaid, Victoria, is hell-bent on losing her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And shadowing them all is the malevolent presence of a disturbed schoolboy named Guy Glover.
From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of Tamarind Street, from the sooty streets of London to the genteel conversation of the Bombay Yacht Club, East of the Sun is graced with lavish detail and a penetrating sensitivity -- historical fiction at its greatest."

And this one looks awesome:
Sand Daughter by Sarah Bryant "A fascinating snapshot of the world of the Crusades."
"Khalidah faces an arranged marriage at the behest of her father, a Bedouin Clan chief. But when a mysterious stranger named Sulayman reveals the machinations behind her pending union, she suddenly finds herself a pawn in a deadly plot involving her own feuding tribe and the powerful Templar Knights. Faced with certain death, Khalidah runs away with Sulayman, a man she barely knows. Their journey, and the desire that grows between them, will thrust Khalidah toward unimaginable adventure, and the echoes of a past that somehow connect her to the Jinn-the mysterious Afghan warriors who may hold the key to the coming battle for the Holy Land."

I think I am most excited about The Blue Star and the last two.. but thanks to everyone who held these giveaways! I hope I add a few more via some BBAW giveaways, but time will tell. What did you get this past week in your mailbox?

Sep 19, 2009

The Sunday Salon:A Fabulous Week is over, let's look at the stats!

The Sunday

It has been a fantastic week for the Historical Fiction fans out there, if I do say so myself. For the entire previous week from Sept. 14 - 18, I and six other bloggers created guest posts, interviews of each other and scheduled author posts along with some fantastic giveaways. This was the inaugural event of The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table, and while we certainly need a break now, I hope to do this again sometime. The announcement post is here at Enchanted By Josephine who was an amazing organizer of my scrambled ideas, and I thank Ms Lucy very much for being so willing to jump in and help out with the major stuff. {{Big bear hugs to Ms Lucy!}} Amy from Passages to The Past also posted a wonderful round-up post, go check that out as well.
I started seven new historical fiction book giveaways this week, you can find them on the left sidebar. I hosted authors Michelle Moran, Kate aka Kathy Lynn Emerson, and Robin Maxwell.

You can find the rest of The Burton Review posts for the event here, which will also direct you to the other Blogs that have some great posts up as well. I also wanted to thank the few who wanted to jump in and participate in this royal week, such as Aimee from My Fluttering Heart, and of course Susie from All Things Royal. Check those blogs out, because there is another royal giveaway going on! Thank you for making this a successful week for me.

Of course this also brings the end to the annual Book blogger appreciation week (BBAW) & it has been interesting to read along for the Daily blogging topics for which I also added a couple of posts along with the HF Bloggers Events this week. I told you who my blogs-as-bible are that I rely on for reviews, or these listed here that belonged on any shortlist if I was a panelist, I interviewed a new-to-me-blogger, Jessica, from Chick Lit Teens (who also enjoys Historical Fiction), I told you my reading habits, and I told you where I wanted to be this time next year Blog-wise. I really enjoyed reading every one's compliments and comments on my blog, by the way. I hadn't started book blogging until March & I am so honored to be able to say I've made some fantastic friends, particularly with those in my Historical Fiction genre. Arleigh from, Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine and Amy from Passages to The Past wrote some really nice and complimentary things to me and it is what makes devoting so much free time to blogging a worthwhile past time. These six months have really changed my life.. and I love my fellow bloggers! Yup, it's only been 6 months as a book blogger, but it seems much much much longer.

I also entered some of the contests on the actual BBAW website, some of the giveaways were pretty cool. Bookmarks and gift cards were my favorite giveaways! And I just learned I won The Wet Nurse's Tale, set in Victorian England, from Carrie's site at Books and Movies. Thank you!

I am glad that Amy of My Friend Amy and all of her helpers had a successful event this year, like Sheri from A Novel Menagerie who has redesigned her blog in the midst of helping out for the BBAW and being a single mom. I really love her newest look, it is fresh and easy to navigate. Arleigh at has just revamped her site as well, have you seen that yet? It's very classy and neat.

There was a question I saw on the BBAW site about what blog have I been introduced to this week, and I entered My Fluttering Heart, because I found out from Meghan's Medieval Bookworm blog that Aimee is also a Burton. That was a fun bit of news for me, (I'm a Burton, if you hadn't noticed) and Aimee said that we Burton's need to stick together.. Meghan is going to be married soon so she goes from a very unique last name to not quite so diverse with Burton. Meghan is a total sweetheart with a great blog that I've followed for awhile. And Aimee was so kind to participate in our HF Bloggers Round Table Event also.

With all the hubbub of the BBAW and the Round Table, some may have missed the review I posted Sunday on Book Review: "Girl Mary" by Petru Popescu. This week I started reading "The Other Mr. Darcy: Did you know Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?" by Monica Fairview. With all of the HF Blogger festivities and me watching DALLAS, The Eighth Season instead of reading, I am not getting anywhere at all. But the book is great, it really is. Which brings me to another question I saw somewhere on the BBAW: How do you feel about the myriad of Austen Sequels? I was surprised at how many people were turned off of them. Obviously, I am not one of them, unless you are talking about monsters and vampires because that is just not my thing. But when a classic read, like Austen, inspires others so much that authors have decided to spin-off from the classy prose, I am all for it. I enjoy the Regency Era, and the elegant writing it promotes. I grew up reading Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, Margaret Mitchell, Agatha Christie, have recently discovered Georgette Heyer.. and if there are modern writers that aspire to that literary prowess than I am eager to read their works.

What was the effect of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event statistics wise? I estimate at least 20 new followers to my blog.

I had an average of 220 Page loads each day.
I had an average of 100 FIRST TIME visitors each day!
This may sound like peanuts in other worlds, but in my world, as opposed to the Previous week:

I normally have average of 70 page loads a day, and 50 First Time Visitors.
And here is a fun look at Recent CAME FROM stats: Looks like the Google Reader followers was my friend again, along with the blogger dashboard from followers, and BBAW Giveaways that I hosted for the HF Bloggers Round Table Event. The next highest referring links came from the other members of the Round Table event.

Normally for me, the MOST fun statistical thing is KEYWORD Activity but the last two days have been pretty normal. Lucky googlers have found what they were looking for it seems.

Although the "I love to show off" search term has me thinking what was that person really looking for? And my giveaway for Robert Hicks "A Separate Country" got some attention as well. One would wonder about the search term David Starkey & Creative Writing being used in the same sentence, though. My most popular pages are shown with the # of hits recently:

I used Stat Counter to compile these reports, and I have since deleted the images that were on this post.

Edited to add that WANDA has won a new hardback of "The Day the Falls Stood Still" by Cathy Marie Buchanan from my giveaway here. Congratulations, Wanda!

Sep 18, 2009

BBAW Show Off Meme~ I LOVE MY BLOG.. I mean.. I love..YOU!

Final BBAW day means time to show off! Tell us and this is really important, in 50 words or less what you love best about your blog! And then in 50 words or less where you want your blog to be by the next BBAW! Ready? GO!

What I love best about my blog ... easy: my Commenters. YOU!
This week, what I love best about my blog are my commenters AND The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table. Because I love Historical Fiction Blogs. If you haven't guessed that judging from the posts.. {times up!}

Where I want to be blog-wise by next BBAW:
I would like to be at a point where I have finished reviewing books that I have piled up for too long... I want to be able to participate in Group reads on Goodreads and challenges like the Plaidy Challenge, for HF books that I have a passion for already. {times up!}

Sep 17, 2009

BBAW Day 4~ Blogger Recommendations!

Let's talk about that book you know, the one you discovered only because you read about it on a book blog and then you realized you couldn’t live without it! And then you read it and you loved it so hard! Tell us about it and about the blogger (or bloggers!) that introduced the book to you!

I wish I kept track of these things as far as a particular book, but I don't. And honestly, I have been reading books that are ARC's myself, so I haven't gotten around to reading for "fun".. yet..

My historical fiction bloggers that I rely on as a bible for reviews and recommendations all come from the same pot as my favorite bloggers. These bloggers have added to my TBR pile, and I don't have the need to look elsewhere for book recommendations, because they are all right here:

Arleigh from , and Royal Intrigue

Ms. Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine and Royal Intrigue

Daphne from Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff

Amy from Passages to the Past

Misfit from At home with a good book and the cat...

Meghan from Medieval Bookworm

There are newer blogs though that I also read reviews for and have now added to my toppling TBR pile: (in alpha order)

All Things Royal...

Hist-Fic Chick

Historically Obsessed

The Maiden's Court

I appreciate the time and thought it takes to construct a thorough review, and by these bloggers adhering to their own set standards, I value all of their opinions and my bookshelves have grown due to their reviews.

Don't forget to check out the giveaways listed in left sidebar, and visit these blogs listed for wonderful blogs!!

HF Bloggers~ Day 4~ Another Giveaway "A Separate Country"!

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event

Welcome to Day Four of The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event!

Posted for this Event here at The Burton Review:

Giveaways going on so far: (Click link to go to the Giveaway Posts)

Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter
Michelle Moran's The Heretic Queen
James Patterson's King Tut
Kathy Lynn Emerson's Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie

Visit the other Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Charter Members Blogs to see what they are offering today, such as a Signed Philippa Gregory novel, Karen Essex's Leonardo's Swans, and Royal Panoply, and there is a giveaway at Royal Intrigue as well!

The Royal Heiress of the day is finally Ms. Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine, and you can finder an interview of Lucy at Passages to The Past and a guest post by Lucy about a Josephine you probably never heard of! Please be sure to hop over there and say hello to Lucy on Amy's blog.

And today, we have a giveaway for:

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks

Enter to Win A Separate Country This a beautiful hardcover edition, the picture does not do it justice!

"Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army--and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins."

To Enter this fabulous Giveaway (USA & Canada, no PO Boxes):
1. Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, you must Follow this Blog, be a Book Blogger & Reviewer, (*not required to review any of these giveaways!) and comment with your Blog URL AND Email Address with a comment other than Enter Me.

2. Add Extra Entries For Each (max of 5 total entries): blog post, Sidebar post, tweet @BurtonReview, or Facebook Share spotlighting this post & giveaway. You must share that link within a comment so that I can verify it is done properly.

Entries must be received by midnight September 24th, the one winner will be announced and emailed the next day and you have two days to respond. Thanks for entering, thanks to Hachette books for this giveaway, and good luck!

Booking Through Thursday~ Recent Enjoyable Reads

Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb.

Deb asks:

What’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you’ve read recently?
(Mind you, this doesn’t necessarily mean funny, since we covered that already. Just … GOOD.)

I've read lots of GOOD books lately, luck of the draw I guess. I've enjoyed most of my recent reads actually. (Click titles to read my reviews)

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory was very entertaining.
Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten was a book that was really weird, funny, interesting, thought provoking all rolled into one.
And The Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott was a fabulous story that I cannot wait to continue, that one surprised me very much with her eloquent writing; it was a treat to behold.

Don't forget to enter the myriad of giveaways I have going on this week, see my left sidebar for links to the current giveaways here.

Sep 16, 2009

HF Bloggers~ Day 3~ Kathy Lynn Emerson Guest Post & Giveaway

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event Giveaways going on so far: (Click link to go to the Giveaway Posts)
Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter
Michelle Moran's The Heretic Queen
James Patterson's King Tut
Kathy Lynn Emerson's Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie

Visit the other Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Charter Members Blogs to see what they are offering today, such as a Signed Philippa Gregory novel, Karen Essex's Leonardo's Swans, and Royal Panoply, and there is a giveaway at Royal Intrigue as well!

Don't forget to visit the other blogs for more blogger Round Table interviews, yesterday's was Amy interviewed and guest post at Hist-Fic Chick and today's Royal Heiress is Lizzy from Historically Obsessed where she is being interviewed by Arleigh at the Historical Fiction site along with a guest post on Catherine Howard, the young naive wife of Henry VIII!

Today's Spectacular Adventure includes a fabulous author: Please welcome to The Burton Review, author Kate Emerson, author of the "Secrets of The Tudor Court" series. Book one was The Pleasure Palace, (read my review here) and Between Two Queens is being released January 5, 2010. ("Nan Bassett's goal to marry a nobleman is halted when she falls for handsome but poor Ned.")

Kate a.k.a Kathy, has taken time out of her busy copy-editing schedule of that book & writing a new one A Royal Decree for the series (which includes the time from Henry VIII's reign to his daughter Mary's reign) to offer us a glimpse of one of the other sides of her work. Aside from also writing Historical mysteries called the Face Down series as Kathy Lynn Emerson (read on for this giveaway), writing under another pseudonym Kaitlyn Dunnett, penning several non-fiction books, Kathy has also created a website devoted to Tudor women.

Here is what Kathy had to say about this hobby of hers:

by Kate Emerson

I have a little hobby. Well, okay—my husband calls it an obsession and he may be right. Whatever it is, it is a labor of love and it is very rewarding. Not only does it provide the occasional thrill of solving a mystery but it also supplies me with more ideas than I’ll ever be able to use in my novels about sixteenth-century women.

Forgive me while I fill in a little history. Way back in the “dark ages” (1976-1980), when I made my first attempt at writing historical novels, I wasn’t very good at it. (I’m a much better writer now. Honest!) To make a long story short, I wrote five great long tomes set in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and none of them sold. As I was doing research for those novels and busily collecting rejection letters, I realized that I had accumulated a tremendous amount of information on the real women of the sixteenth century. At that time there was still no such a thing as women’s studies. Women, if they were mentioned in history books at all, were usually referred to only in connection with their husbands and/or fathers. Sometimes scholars didn’t even bother to mention their first names. Several references to interesting women, a footnote here and a sentence, sometimes turned out to be references to the same woman, but if she’d married several times or if her husband or husbands had been elevated in the peerage and she went by several different names in the course of her life, no one bothered to connect the dots to reveal that they were all one woman and that she led an extremely interesting life.

I ended up writing a who’s who of sixteenth-century women. WIVES AND DAUGHTERS: THE WOMEN OF SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND was my first published book. It came out in 1984. Unfortunately, with all the discoveries made since then, and with the advent of the Internet to make that information more readily available, it is now horribly out of date. When I launched by website, I decided to include a who’s who to update some of the entries, at least those of the real women who appear in the novel. Little did I know what I was getting into!

Obsession? Probably. I don’t seem to be able to stop myself from adding more entries. For each one I have to do more research. I do much of this online, using genealogies and Google Books, which has digitized many local histories and books on the peerage, as well as biographies and social histories. I still do research in libraries too, borrowing books on Interlibrary loan and buying many oldies but goodies from used book dealers. It’s always a thrill when I find some obscure detail that makes my subject come to life. When I can track down a woman’s family—the names of her parents or what happened to her children—I feel as if I’ve had a major breakthrough.

You’d think that would be enough for me, but no. Not only am I hooked on revamping all those old entries, I add new people too. I can’t seem to stop myself. I keep finding more mysteries to solve. For example, I was doing research for the next book in the SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT series, BY ROYAL DECREE, which will take readers from the end of Henry VIII’s reign through those of Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, and Mary Tudor. I was skimming a book by David Loades titled TWO TUDOR CONSPIRACIES when I spotted a reference to a Mrs. Syvestra Butler, who was arrested for plotting against Queen Mary and saying “I would the King and Queen were in the sea in a bottomless vessel.” Mr. Loades did not identify this lady. In fact, one of the few details he gave was misleading. But her given name alone intrigued me and I started hunting. It took awhile, but eventually I discovered her maiden name (Guise) and more about her family and her involvement in treason. There are still mysteries about her. They may never be solved. But I felt a deep sense of accomplishment at being able to identify her to some extent and she is now included in my “Who’s Who of Tudor Women.” Will I use her in the book? It’s too early to say, but the fact that there were women involved in conspiracy is always useful to know. Since I’m writing fiction, I might take what I learned about Sylvestra Guise and use those details in some other way.

I have no idea how many entries there are in the Who’s Who at present. This is a work in progress and probably always will be. Not only do I keep adding new entries, but I’m constantly going back in to tweak existing entries when I come across new details or find information that contradicts what I’ve already written. The latter happens more frequently than you might imagine. This is good news for novelists. We can pick the version that works best for the story we want to tell. It isn’t so good for those who write nonfiction. That’s why I have a disclaimer on the Who’s Who to say that the entries contain the best information I have but that I am NOT a scholar. The Who’s Who of Tudor Women, like WIVES AND DAUGHTERS before it, is meant to be a starting place for those who are interested in the real women of the time. It identifies interesting Tudor women and reports what is known, or thought to be known, about each of them.

For a few of those women, like Jane Popyncourt (THE PLEASURE PALACE) and Anne Bassett (BETWEEN TWO QUEENS) and Elizabeth Brooke (BY ROYAL DECREE), the Who’s Who entry is also the starting point for a Kate Emerson novel.

The Burton Review Thank you so much Kathy for joining The Burton Review today, and you can also find Kathy at her websites:

Kathy has offered one of her historical mysteries to one of my lucky readers!

This is for the first book in the Lady Appleton Mystery Series, FACE DOWN IN THE MARROW-BONE PIE and the winner can choose either the hardcover or the large print edition.

The First Lady Appleton Mystery Synopsis:
"Today's letter was not a summons to serve Queen Elizabeth. It came from Lancashire. John Bexwith, my steward at Appleton Manor, is dead."

Susanna frowned, surprised that this news should have affected her husband so strongly. "The man was quite elderly," she said hesitantly, "was he not?"

"Your memory is excellent," Robert told her, absently tucking an unruly lock of dark brown hair back up under her brocaded cap. "He was found face down in a marrow-bone pie."

With that incredible statement, Robert placed the letter in his wife's outstretched hand.

Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie is a delightfully cozy Elizabethan mystery introducing Susanna, Lady Appleton. When her husband's steward dies in a unique, ignominious, and highly suspicious manner, Susanna takes advantage of her husband's absence on a political mission for Queen Elizabeth to investigate Bexwith's mysterious demise.

The serving wench who found Bexwith claims that he was frightened to death by a ghost, but Susanna can think of several poisons that could have been concealed in the marrow-bone pie. (Susanna is something of an expert on poisons, having been inspired by her sister's fatal encounter with some poisonous berries to write a cautionary herbal for housewives.)

Even if Bexwith was poisoned, was it accidental or intentional? As if the case weren't complicated enough, Susanna must also unmask a "ghost"-- or are the ghost and the poisoner one and the same?

Kathy Lynn Emerson's debut Elizabethan mystery will delight as it introduces you to a sixteenth-century husband's worst nightmare: an intelligent, no-nonsense wife who happens toknow hundreds of poisons." ~Barnes & Noble

To Enter today's Historical Fiction Bloggers Giveaway (USA only):
1. Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, you must follow me, you must be a Book Blogger & Reviewer, and comment with your Blog URL AND Email Address with a comment other than Enter Me.

2. Add Extra Entries For Each (max of 5 total entries): blog post, Sidebar post, tweet @BurtonReview, or Facebook Share spotlighting this post & giveaway. You must share that link within a comment so that I can verify it is done properly.

Entries must be received by midnight September 23rd, the one winner will be announced and emailed the next day and you have two days to respond. Thanks for entering, thanks to Kathy Lynn Emerson for this giveaway, and good luck!

HF Bloggers~ Day 3~ Giveaway Alert "King Tut"!

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event

Welcome to Day Three of The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event! On my next post today, I will be hosting Kathy Lynn Emerson aka Kate Emerson, the historical fiction author, and historical mystery author who released "Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace" earlier this year. Watch for the guest post coming on in just a short while.

So far here is what has been posted for this Event here at The Burton Review:

Day 1: A majorly awesome kick off post featuring Allie from Hist-Fic Chick, including a Giveaway for the Signed Hardcover copy of Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter
Day 2: Michelle Moran's Fantastic Guest Post with a giveaway for a Signed paperback of The Heretic Queen.

Over at the other Round Table Participants' blogs for today we have:

Enchanted By Josephine: Book Review of Royal Panoply- With Giveaway of a copy (US , Canada only)

And today... at The Burton Review, keeping up with Michelle's Egyptian genre, we offer to our extra special Book Bloggers, another giveaway!The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King - A Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson, Martin Dugard

"Since 1922, when Howard Carter discovered Tut's 3,000-year-old tomb, most Egyptologists have presumed that the young king died of disease, or perhaps an accident, such as a chariot fall.But what if his fate was actually much more sinister? Now, in THE MURDER OF TUT, James Patterson and Martin Dugard chronicle their epic quest to find out what happened to the boy-king. They comb through the evidence—X-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues—and scavenge for overlooked data to piece together the details of his life and death. The result is a true crime tale of intrigue, betrayal, and usurpation that presents a compelling case that King Tut's death was anything but natural. A secret buried for centuries Thrust onto Egypt's most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut's reign was fiercely debated from the outset. Behind the palace's veil of prosperity, bitter rivalries and jealousy flourished among the Boy King's most trusted advisors, and after only nine years, King Tut suddenly perished, his name purged from Egyptian history. To this day, his death remains shrouded in controversy."

To Enter this fabulous Giveaway (USA & Canada, no PO Boxes):

1. Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, Follow this blog, you must be a Book Blogger & Reviewer, and comment with your Blog URL AND Email Address with a comment other than Enter Me.

2. Add Extra Entries For Each (max of 5 total entries): blog post, Sidebar post, tweet @BurtonReview, or Facebook Share spotlighting this post & giveaway. You must share that link within a comment so that I can verify it is done properly.

Entries must be received by midnight September 23rd, the one winner will be announced and emailed the next day and you have two days to respond. Thanks for entering, thanks to Hachette books for this giveaway, and good luck!

Wordless Wednesday!

Click for all the HF Bogger Related posts and giveaways
Going on right now, right here... wooo hoooo .. giveaways listed on the sidebar!!

BBAW Reading Meme! Happy Birthday to Dolleygurl!

Today's Daily blogging topic for the BBAW is a Reading meme:

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? not really since it is bedtime. Sometimes I much on tic-tacs. The red and yellow ones.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I would never mark up a reading book. I understand highlighting textbooks but not my reading ones.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? I am a firm believer in bookmarks, especially the beautiful ones sent from Arleigh at One day I would love to create my own and collect some more special ones to keep and to share.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both, preferably on royal figures.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy only, no e-books or audio for me.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? Having children forces me to stop mid-sentence, which is aggravating, so I read at night time.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? if it detracts from understanding the sentence, I'll google it if I have my iPhone handy.

What are you currently reading? "The Other Mr. Darcy", by Monica Fairview to be released by Sourcebooks in October.

What is the last book you bought? I get most of my books through Paperbackswap. I had a large book order in July that I bought a lot of royalty related books, such as "The Devil's Queen" by Jeanne Kalogridis.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? Only one book at a time for me. Otherwise I would never feel like I am accomplishing anything.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? I can only read when kids are occupied, but most of my reading is done at bedtime. I read during lunchtime at work as well.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? I read mostly stand alone books but I do read historical series books when warranted.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Sharon Kay Penman: "When Christ and His Saints Slept" of the Henry II trilogy

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Genre, specific eras ie. Revolution, Tudor era, renaissance. My Tudor books are then separated out by subject (Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Edward VI etc)

Don't forget to visit the rest of the posts for this week during the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event. Giveaways going on so far: (Click link to go to the Giveaway Posts)Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter
Michelle Moran's The Heretic Queen
James Patterson's King Tut
Kathy Lynn Emerson's Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie
Visit the other Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Charter Members Blogs to see what they are offering today, such as a Signed Philippa Gregory novel, Karen Essex's Leonardo's Swans, and Royal Panoply, and there is a giveaway at Royal Intrigue as well!

Stay tuned for more giveaways and wonderful Guest Posts for this magical week! And a big Happy Birthday to Dolleygurl at The Maiden's Court! Go tell her Happy Birthday!!

Sep 15, 2009

HF Bloggers~Day 2~Michelle Moran~ Guest Author Shares Her Muse & Giveaway!

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event Day Two of The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table is here.
Please Visit Allie at Hist-Fic-Chick. Today, the Royal Heiress of The Day is Amy, from Passages to The Past, and along with her interview will be a fabulous post on the very favorite: Elizabeth I. There's also another GIVEAWAY! Check out the other blogs for their participating posts, see details here & don't forget to enter yesterday's giveaway for Cleopatra's Daughter!
A new participating post is up Lady Gwyn's Kingdom, here.

Today at The Burton Review we have the most wonderful author Michelle Moran and a giveaway for a paperback copy of The Heretic Queen, which will be autographed by her! The giveaway details are at the end of this fantabulous post that Michelle created for The Burton Review readers. Thank you so much to Michelle for being such an awesome person by being so available to all of us bloggers. Let's welcome Michelle:

by Michelle Moran

For every novel I have written, I can look back and say that there has been a very specific moment of inspiration - usually in some exotic locale or inside a museum - where I’ve said, “Aha! That’s going to be the subject of my next novel.” I never began my writing career with the intention to write books about three different princesses in Egypt. In fact, I had no intention of writing about ancient Egypt at all until I participated in my first archaeological dig.

During my sophomore year in college, I found myself sitting in Anthropology 101, and when the professor mentioned that she was looking for volunteers who would like to join a dig in Israel, I was one of the first students to sign up. When I got to Israel, however, all of my archaeological dreams were dashed (probably because they centered around Indiana Jones). There were no fedora wearing men, no cities carved into rock, and certainly no Ark of the Covenant. I was very disappointed. Not only would a fedora have seemed out of place, but I couldn’t even use the tiny brushes I had packed. Apparently, archaeology is more about digging big ditches with pickaxes rather than dusting off artifacts. And it had never occurred to me until then that in order to get to those artifacts, one had to dig deep into the earth. Volunteering on an archaeological dig was hot, it was sweaty, it was incredibly dirty, and when I look back on the experience through the rose-tinged glasses of time, I think, Wow, was it fantastic! Especially when our team discovered an Egyptian scarab that proved the ancient Israelites had once traded with the Egyptians. Looking at that scarab in the dirt, I began to wonder who had owned it, and what had possessed them to undertake the long journey from their homeland to the fledgling country of Israel.

On my flight back to America I stopped in Berlin, and with a newfound appreciation for Egyptology, I visited the museum where Nefertiti’s limestone bust was being housed. The graceful curve of Nefertiti’s neck, her arched brows, and the faintest hint of a smile were captivating to me. Who was this woman with her self-possessed gaze and stunning features? I wanted to know more about Nefertiti’s story, but when I began the research into her life, it proved incredibly difficult. She’d been a woman who’d inspired powerful emotions when she lived over three thousand years ago, and those who had despised her had attempted to erase her name from history. Yet even in the face of such ancient vengeance, some clues remained.
Michelle Exploring
As a young girl Nefertiti had married a Pharaoh who was determined to erase the gods of Egypt and replace them with a sun-god he called Aten. It seemed that Nefertiti’s family allowed her to marry this impetuous king in the hopes that she would tame his wild ambitions. What happened instead, however, was that Nefertiti joined him in building his own capital of Amarna where they ruled together as god and goddess. But the alluring Nefertiti had a sister who seemed to keep her grounded, and in an image of her found in Amarna, the sister is standing off to one side, her arms down while everyone else is enthusiastically praising the royal couple. From this image, and a wealth of other evidence, I tried to recreate the epic life of an Egyptian queen whose husband was to become known as the Heretic King.

Each novel I’ve written has had a similar moment of inspiration for me. In many ways, my second book, The Heretic Queen is a natural progression from Nefertiti. The narrator is orphaned Nefertari, who suffers terribly because of her relationship to the reviled "Heretic Queen". Despite the Heretic Queen's death a generation prior, Nefertari is still tainted by her relationship to Nefertiti, and when young Ramesses falls in love and wishes to marry her, it is a struggle not just against an angry court, but against the wishes of a rebellious people.

But perhaps I would never have chosen to write on Nefertari at all if I hadn't seen her magnificent tomb. At one time, visiting her tomb was practically free, but today, a trip underground to see one of the most magnificent places on earth can cost upwards of five thousand dollars (yes, you read that right). If you want to share the cost and go with a group, the cost lowers to the bargain-basement price of about three thousand. As a guide told us of the phenomenal price, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me. We had flown more than seven thousand miles, suffered the indignities of having to wear the same clothes for three days because of lost luggage… and really, what were the possibilities of our ever returning to Egypt again? There was only one choice. We paid the outrageous price, and I have never forgotten the experience.

While breathing in some of the most expensive air in the world, I saw a tomb that wasn't just fit for a queen, but a goddess. In fact, Nefertari was only one of two (possibly three) queens ever deified in her lifetime, and as I gazed at the vibrant images on her tomb - jackals and bulls, cobras and gods - I knew that this wasn't just any woman, but a woman who had been loved fiercely when she was alive. Because I am a sucker for romances, particularly if those romances actually happened, I immediately wanted to know more about Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. So my next stop was the Hall of Mummies at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. There, resting beneath a heavy arc of glass, was the great Pharaoh himself. For a ninety-something year old man, he didn't look too bad. His short red hair was combed back neatly and his face seemed strangely peaceful in its three thousand year repose. I tried to imagine him as he'd been when he was young - strong, athletic, frighteningly rash and incredibly romantic. Buildings and poetry remain today as testaments to Ramesses's softer side, and in one of Ramesses's more famous poems he calls Nefertari "the one for whom the sun shines." His poetry to her can be found from Luxor to Abu Simbel, and it was my visit to Abu Simbel (where Ramesses built a temple for Nefertari) where I finally decided that I had to tell their story.

It’s the moments like this that an historical fiction author lives for. And it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that my decision to write my third novel, Cleopatra’s Daughter, came on an underwater dive to see the submerged city of ancient Alexandria. Traveling has been enormously important in my career. My adventures end up inspiring not only what I’m currently writing, but what I’m going to write about in the future.

Thank you so much, Michelle!

And now for the Giveaway OPEN WORLDWIDE!!

Enter here for One signed copy of The Heretic Queen
Reviews:Read an Excerpt:Author Q&A


"In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history. The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen. Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history. Sweeping in scope and meticulous in detail, The Heretic Queen is a novel of passion and power, heartbreak and redemption."

To Enter this fabulous Giveaway:
1. Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, you must be a Book Blogger & Reviewer, and comment with your Blog URL AND Email Address with a comment other than Enter Me. You must also Be or Become A Follower.

2. Add Extra Entries For Each (max of 5 total entries): blog post, Sidebar post, tweet, or Facebook Share spotlighting this post & giveaway. You must share that link within a comment so that I can verify it is done properly.

Entries must be received by midnight September 22nd, the winner will be announced and emailed the next day and you have two days to respond. Thanks for entering, thanks to Michelle, and good luck!

BBAW Interview Swap!! Please Welcome Jessica!!

This event is an effort to expand other blogger's knowledge of the other niches and blogs that are normally out of their realm. A great way to meet new bloggers, and a great way to learn about another genre, and in this case my primarily Historical Fiction blog discovers Young Adult!

In honor of BBAW week, we have Jessica from Chick Lit Teens answering my questions to her. And you will find my interview at Chick Lit Teens today as well, so please pop over there and say hello!! I am a total nerd when it comes to doing something new, & the interview process is something new!

Here is my interview of Jessica:

Your Blog focuses on Young Adult reads. How long have you been blogging, and what drew you to blog about YA in the first place?
I started my blog a little over a year ago. Before that I'd never so much as read a blog, so it was a completely new concept for me. YA, and books in general, has been a passion of mine for a long while. The idea to start a website devoted to that passion was one that had crossed my mind a few times, but it wasn't until I wrote my first review that I actually put my ideas in motion. Once I started reviewing YA I fell in love with it; it combines two of my loves: reading and writing.

Did you receive any BBAW nominations this year?
Unfortunately no, I did not receive any BBAW nominations this year. However, I was able to work with Amy and many other wonderful bloggers on planning BBAW's themes, which was an honor in its own.

How many YA Books do you read and review in a normal week?
Generally I read anywhere from two to three YA books a week. Review writing is a little bit harder. I usually aim for a review a week, but it all depends on what books I read that week and how strong of an opinion I have about said books. I strive to only write reviews when I have a definite opinion of the book, that way I'm not publishing a lot of lukewarm reviews.

What is the one thing about YA reads that you would like everyone to know?
Just because it's YA does not mean it isn't well written. This is something that I encounter more often than I'd like to. People immediately write off YA as watered down, simplified stories meant only to serve as mental candy for teens. I challenge anyone who has trouble believing that to pick up one of the wonderful YA books out there, they'll quickly be proved wrong.

What are the sources of your review books?
My review books are from a plethora of sources. Some I buy myself, others are sent to me by authors, and more often than not I get them from publishers.

If someone wanted to start a YA Book Blog, what are some pieces of advice that you would share?
The first thing I'd tell them is to focus on content and getting involved in the YA blogging community. Writing quality reviews about books you care about, getting into contact with other bloggers is the best way to start a new blog.

Do you participate or host in any special features on your blog?
My postings are rather sporadic, but one I always love to put together is my Cover Judge feature. I'm the type of person who judges a book by its cover, so it's a lot of fun critiquing my favorite covers from upcoming books. I also have a book trailer feature that I post whenever I'm able to find enough trailers for upcoming books. And, of course, there's The Story Siren's In My Mailbox which I participate in every once in awhile.

What is your favorite part of blogging?
Hands down the best part of blogging is getting to read so many great books and being able to rant and rave about them without interruption. :)

Who are some of your favorite authors and which books?
Ooh that's a tough question. Some of my favorite books are the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. For authors I'd have to say Sarah Dessen, Shannon Hale, and Michele Jaffe.

For those who do think they know you, what is one thing you could tell them about yourself that may surprise them?
I've never read Harry Potter. In fact, I haven't read a lot of what I call "fad" books. It took me forever to grudgingly read Twilight. When I read I like to make a personal connection with that book, and when a book is that huge it's hard for me to do so. I guess you could say I like to be driving the band wagon not riding it.


Thanks you so much, Jessica, for visiting me and my blog!! Now everyone, please say HELLO to Jessica =) And stay tuned to enter more giveaways and join in the fun for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event!

Sep 14, 2009

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table, Featuring Hist-Fic Chick, Mary Queen of Scots, Cleopatra's Daughter Giveaway!

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event This is the kick-off to a fantastic event in the Historical Fiction Blogosphere, and there will be a TON of stuff going on so I hope you can keep up!! It's going to be like an awesome treasure hunt of Historical goodies and I am going to try hard to keep up. We have some absolutely AWESOME Blogs participating in this fantastic event, and I want to say thank you to the following Fabulous historical fiction bloggers who are:
Charter members of The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event:

Marie at The Burton Review
Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine
Arleigh at
Amy at Passages to the Past
Allie at Hist-Fic Chick
Lizzy at Historically Obsessed
Heather at The Maiden's Court

Be sure to visit all those Blogs this week for specific Historical Fiction Themed Events and Giveaways!

Up first for today, we have a fairly new blogger but a veteran to art of the reading Historical Fiction. Please welcome Allie from Hist-Fic Chick!

Allie answers my questions:
1. From any of your favorite living authors, who would you most want to write a guest post for your blog, and why?

I would LOVE to have a guest post on my blog by Sandra Gulland. Her vast knowledge of 17th and 18th century France is incredibly impressive, not to mention, she is an extraordinarily talented writer who really knows how to get inside the head of her characters. She writes a really great blog called Baroque Explorations where she posts some of her fascinating historical findings.

2. If you had to read 5 books consecutively on one period or era, WITHOUT GETTING TIRED OF THE ERA, what would that period be? What would those books be?

I'd have to go with the Renaissance hands down, as it is such an imperative time in world history. Literally "rebirth," it marked a change in traditional thinking patterns and a return to the study and interpretation of the philosophies of classical antiquity. It was a time when people once again placed a strong emphasis and value on art and architecture, particularly that of the ancient Romans and Greeks. It was the beginning of an era where people would look to science and reason for enlightenment about the universe, realizing that the corrupt Catholic Church in fact did not have all the answers. I think all of that together is SO interesting!! Not to mention the Reformation going on in England, all over Henry VIII's obsession with witty Anne Boleyn...My picks: Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell, The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy, Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, Courtesan by Diane Haeger, and my current read, The Last Queen by CW Gortner.

3. Who is your favorite historical figure, and what is your favorite book (non-fiction or fiction) on that person?

Josephine Bonaparte is my favorite historical figure. I admire her incredible strength as a survivor of tragedy who narrowly escaped the wrath of the guillotine with her life. She was able to overcome incredible hardship during the French Revolution to rise to greatness as Napoleon's famous wife and Empress. Josephine was the epitome of elegance and grace, a leader of her people, and a worldwide style icon. Plus, she was the one person who could calm Napoleon's erratic mood swings, and to top it off she dealt with his wretched family! That is one family I would not like to have for in-laws! She had a really remarkable hold over Napoleon, and his love for her was so intense, as evident in the many surviving letters he sent her while abroad fighting his wars. "The day I lose your heart will be the day Nature loses warmth and life for me." I think that says a lot about her. My favorite book(s) on her (some of my favorite books of all time, actually) are the Josephine B Trilogy by Sandra Gulland (which titles include The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and The Last Great Dance on Earth.

4. What are some of the periods/eras that you have yet to read about but are very interested in?

I have actually never read anything on the Wars of the Roses. Surprising, right? I'm pretty well-versed in 16th-18th century England (I love anything Renaissance!), but as for Medieval British history, I'm fairly clueless. I recently won The White Queen by Philippa Gregory in a giveaway, and it will be me my first taste of the Plantagenets. I've also heard great things about Susan Higginbotham's novels on the subject. Another one I'd like to check out is Robin Maxwell's To the Tower Born, about the "lost princes" in the Tower of London, rumored to have been killed off by their evil uncle Richard III.

I would also love to read more about the Ancient Greeks and Romans. I studied Latin a few years ago and I've always been intrigued by mythology. Growing up, I was a part of a dance company called the Isadora Duncan Youth Ensemble, and we traveled all over the world performing Isadora Duncan's dances, each of which portrays a different story from ancient Greek mythology, so I came to take an interest in mythology at a very young age. I have Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran (which takes place in Rome after the deaths of Marc Antony and Cleopatra), and Stealing Athena by Karen Essex (which takes place in two time periods: the Napoleonic Wars and Ancient Greece) sitting on my bookshelf, and I plan on reading both of these as some of my next reads.

5. What is one of the misconceptions you may have had about a particular person or era that now has since been corrected in your head?

Four words: "Let them eat cake." I, like nearly every other person who has ever "learned" of the phrase, always assumed Marie Antoinette was its author, and didn't ever think to question this myth so heavily disguised as fact. I saw the movie with Kirsten Dunst when it first came out, and it only furthered in my mind the idea of Marie as a spoiled, ungrateful, and worst of all, indifferent aristocrat who squandered her country's finances on ball gowns and extravagant jewels. I have since read a lot of books and been enlightened as to the more factually based, harmless nature of this most unfortunate Queen. It's sad that history has vilified a woman who was actually much more sinned against than sinning. Unfortunately, it's not the only time history has been unkind to an intelligent, ambitious woman in power (my other favorite tragic Queen, Anne Boleyn comes to mind). I wrote a fun post on Marie Antoinette a little while ago talking about how fashion brought down the monarchy. I think often misconceived women are some of my favorites to read about; I always like to give the underdog a second chance to surprise me!

Here is Allie's Guest Post:

Mary, Queen of Scots: A Queen Without A Country

Mary Stuart was three times a queen, yet she never actually had a throne to call her own. The daughter of James V of Scotland and his French wife Marie de Guise, she had a claim to the French, Scottish, and, according to some, British crowns, but she seemed to always be stuck in a perpetual struggle of so-close-yet-so-far from truly ruling each of her would-be kingdoms.

Mary’s path to queenship began when she was just six days old, when her father the King of Scotland died at The Battle of Soway Moss against his uncle Henry VIII of England’s forces, leaving the infant Mary as his only legitimate heir. Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland, and her mother, now the Dowager Queen, was named as her regent until Mary could come of age. Henry VIII, ever the political schemer that he was, saw Scotland’s vulnerability and seized the opportunity to unite the two kingdoms of England and Scotland under one crown through a marriage between Mary and his son and heir, who later became Edward VI of England. When he requested that Mary be brought to England to be raised there as part of the betrothal agreement, the Scots and French lords became outraged at the notion that Mary be raised as anything other than a staunch Catholic. In what became known as “The Rough Wooing,” Henry VIII literally tried to force the betrothal, ordering a series of attacks on the Scottish border and attempting to have Mary kidnapped and brought to England to marry his son. Luckily for Mary and her mother, the French King Henri II had similar ideas of grandeur as Henry VIII of England did, except that he envisioned a united kingdom of France and Scotland. So, he offered safety in France to the little Queen of Scots, along with a betrothal to his own son and heir, the Dauphin François.

Mary arrived on French soil in 1548 and was raised at the elegant French court, becoming the ward of King Henri II. Her mother’s family members were all prominent fixtures of the royal court of France, and Mary enjoyed a relatively happy childhood there. She married François on April 24th, 1558 at Notre Dame, making her husband the King consort of Scotland. François became the King of France; Mary, Queen consort of France, at the death of Henri II in 1559.

The trouble with England brewed once again when, after the death of the Catholic Mary I of England, Elizabeth I came to power in England, returning the country to a Protestant nation. Mary’s father-in-law Henri II had always instilled in Mary that she would one day be the Queen of France, Scotland, and even England, as the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister. Catholics in England who rejected the “bastard” Elizabeth as their Queen claimed that Mary was actually the true and rightful Queen of England. Throughout her life and reign in England, Elizabeth refused to officially name Mary as her heir, although according to the British succession, Mary would justly become the Queen of England at the moment of her cousin’s death should Elizabeth not sire any children (which the “Virgin Queen” did not). However, Henry VIII had specifically stipulated in his will that no Stuart should ever sit upon the throne of England, and so the English succession remained up in the air, along with Mary’s right to that throne. Despite all the controversy, Mary had named herself Queen of England at the same time she was crowned Queen consort of France, directly challenging Elizabeth’s right to rule.

Mary was only Queen of France for about two years because her husband died shortly after the young monarchs had been crowned. Mary went back to Scotland where she made a series of bad political and marital decisions. She had not anticipated the religious factions that had arose in Scotland during her time away in France. Mary chose her Catholic cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, as her next husband, a choice that particularly angered Elizabeth, as Darnley was yet another Catholic in line for the English throne, giving Mary even further right to wear Elizabeth’s crown. Darnley’s ego grew to be about the size of Edinburgh Castle, and he insisted that he be given more power as King consort. The Scottish nobility did not like the arrogant Lord Darnley, and Darnley made matters worse for himself when in an unfounded jealous rage he murdered Mary’s secretary David Rizzio, right in front of her eyes while she was pregnant with Darnley’s child. This, along with much more political backstabbing and double-talking on Darnley’s part, prompted some of the Scots lords, under the leadership of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, to murder Darnley in his sleep, attempting to quite literally blow him to smithereens in an explosion that was meant to look like an accident. He was found asphyxiated in the garden outside the house where he was staying, suggesting that he escaped the explosion only to be murdered immediately after. The actual circumstances of Darnley’s death are still unknown. Bothwell abducted Mary and took her as his wife, although it is mostly agreed upon by historians that Mary did not wed Bothwell willingly, and that he in fact raped her and forced her to marry him. Many felt that her hasty marriage to Bothwell implicated her hand in Darnley’s murder. The Scottish lords rebelled against Bothwell and their Queen, imprisoning them both, although Mary was able to escape to England, where she thought she would find sanctuary in her cousin Elizabeth’s country.

But, sadly, Mary had another thing coming. Elizabeth imprisoned Mary, using the excuse that an inquiry needed to be made into all the suspicions of Mary’s involvement in her husband Darnley’s muder. What was initially intended as a brief imprisonment to further humble her Catholic cousin eventually led to nearly two decades of imprisonment for Mary. Over the years Elizabeth became increasingly suspicious of Mary and her motives, as her spies discovered one plot after another attempting to assassinate Elizabeth and instill Mary as Queen in her place. Elizabeth was hesitant to convict and order the execution of an anointed Queen, and feared the wrath of other Catholic nations should she find Mary truly guilty and therefore have need to execute her. Elizabeth eventually had Mary beheaded for her alleged involvement in The Babbington Plot.

In an ironic turn of events, Elizabeth later named as her successor Mary’s son James, who united England and Scotland under one kingdom and took the regal names James VI of Scotland, and James I of England and Ireland. Mary’s motto, which was embroidered into her cloth of estate, “En ma fin est ma commencement” (“In my end is my beginning”), eerily came true post-mortem, as many years after Mary was executed, Elizabeth’s death marked the end of the Tudor dynastic rule and the beginning of the Stuart dynasty in England.

Trivia: Many people attribute the nickname “Bloody Mary” to Mary Stuart, when in actuality that vile title belonged to her first cousin once removed, Mary Tudor (Queen Mary I of England, half-sister to Elizabeth I). Mary Tudor was the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon. She attempted to bring England back to Catholicism and became known as “Bloody Mary” for the sickening number of Protestants and “heretics” she ordered burned at the stake during her reign.-- Allie Greenwald

Thank you so much Allie at Hist-Fic Chick for letting us get to know you more, and for a fabulous guest post on Mary Queen of Scots!

Today you will also be needing to head over to Ms. Lucy's at Enchanted By Josephine, as next up on the Round Table is Heather from The Maiden's Court being Queen for a day over at Ms. Lucy's, where she blogs about the mystery behind Cleopatra's suicide.

In honor of this special day as a Kick-Off of Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table and Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I have selected the most fantastic author to highlight at this time: Michelle Moran. Michelle not only has written some fantastic Historical Fiction novels, but she truly is the epitome of a book blogger's dream. She is very open and generous to book bloggers and just for that I think that she is an awesome person! I am totally looking forward to her next book on Madame Tussaud amidst the courts of Marie Antoinette!! Stay tuned for tomorrow as she will be the guest author for the day in honor of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event, and another giveaway for the new paperback of The Heretic Queen!

(OPEN WORLDWIDE) Up for grabs is one Signed Hardcover of Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter, (see my review) available for purchase tomorrow, September 15, 2009.

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.
The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters:
Octavia: the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for CleopatraLivia: Octavian’s bitter and jealous wife Marcellus: Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir-apparent Tiberius: Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for powerJuba: Octavian’s ever-watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals
Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place —the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the time. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.
Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of Imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of history, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

To Enter this Extra Special Giveaway you must do One and Two: (OPEN WORLDWIDE)

1. Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, you must be a Book Blogger & Reviewer, and comment with your Blog URL AND Email Address and follow this blog, AND:

2. Say something nice to Allie on her blog Hist Fic Chick right now and come back and tell me you did so..or comment here about your take on Mary Queen of Scots.

3. Add Extra Entries For Each (max of 5 total entries): blog post, Sidebar post, tweet @BurtonReview, or Facebook Share spotlighting this post & giveaway. You must share that link within a comment so that I can verify it is done properly.

Entries must be received by midnight September 20th, the winner will be announced and emailed the next day. Thanks for entering, and good luck!