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Mystery, drama, oh my!

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Book three in the Restoration Chronicles!

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Historical fiction and Biblical fiction, reviewing since 2008

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Oct 22, 2009

Booking Through Thursday~ One Question

Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb:

If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?

So many favorite authors, so little time! I would love to sit and talk with Jean Plaidy, née Eleanor Hibbert; her wealth of knowledge was so great due to the research she conducted for her historical fiction novels. She wrote roughly 87 historical novels as Jean Plaidy and many more under other pseudonyms such as Victoria Holt.

Pondering the one question that I would ask her.. (Just ONE?!)..I would make sure to ask her many more but the first would be:
Who were her favorite authors that she relied on for her historical information?

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Oct 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday~ Chatsworth, Part Four

The Duchess of Devonshire once estimated that Chatsworth's 175 rooms occupy more space than 365 average-sized three-bedroom houses, observing in consequence that it was a bad place to housetrain a puppy. Her husband liked to list its 1.3 acres of roof, 3,426 feet of passages, 17 staircases, 56 lavatories and 359 doors, all lit by 2,084 light bulbs. The companion photo to my header, recognize Chatsworth?

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Oct 20, 2009

Book Review: The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers

The Wildest Heart
The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers
Original Publication 1974
Historical Romance
Sourcebooks Reissued October 2009 , $7.99
Review Copy from Sourcebooks
New York Times bestseller with over 3 million sold - the #1 bestselling book from mega-bestselling author.
The Burton Review Rating:3.5 Stars


"Heroine Rowena Dangerfield is sensual, headstrong, and scandalously independent, the granddaughter of the governor of an Indian province under the British empire. After his death, she travels to England and then to New Mexico, where she arrives in grand style to lay claim to her inheritance.
There she discovers an affinity with the wild and untamed frontier and meets Lucas Cord, a devastatingly handsome half-Apache renegade, whose reputation as a feared outlaw both attracts and repels her. When he encounters the beautiful stranger, unlike any woman he's ever met before, he knows instantly that he'll have to win her for his own, and not even the treachery of desperate enemies is going to stop him

This book is an epic style saga that sweeps you into the plights of Rowena Dangerfield and her many suitors. Rowena was born to wealth, yet had a miserable childhood, and life doesn't get much easier for her. We follow Rowena from India, to England and across the pond to accept the challenge an absent father bequeathed her in New Mexico. She is kidnapped, raped, kept hostage, and still manages to keep her wits about her. Or she attempts to show that she is unbreakable, but as a reader we wonder just how much more she can take.

There are so many backstories here behind her upbringing, her family, her stepfather, and all the way to the mysteries of the people her deceased father dealt with. To go into all of the events would spoil your delightful surprise of this book, but rest assured you will not be bored. As Rowena tries to sort out her father's wishes for her, the reader is swept up in the wild west drama of New Mexico with Apache indians and renegade cowboys. And then there are always the men in Rowena's life, as there are several, and although we shake our heads at Rowena's ill-fated decisions we still crave more of the story. At 748 pages, you need to be prepared to engross yourself in this story, but it is definitely a fast moving plot with many events going on. Some may seem contrived and forced into the plot, but the overall drama of Rowena's many struggles holds our attention.

She agrees to marry a man who holds the other half of the profitable ranch that her father bequeathed her, but this is swiftly averted when Rowena is kidnapped by Indians and she agrees to marry one of the same Indian brothers that is hated by her previous fiancee. This marriage is also averted because she falls in love with Lucas, the outlaw Indian brother that she had once hated on sight when she had found him lurking in her bedroom. Confused yet? Oh yes it is tricky keeping up with all the names and some of the twisted relationships we encounter, but this is truly the epitome of a Wild West Romance Saga and there must be plenty of romantic opportunities and many characters to develop some interesting storylines around. That is achieved here, as I found myself wishing Rowena would listen to logic and fall for the good guy for once. Rowena is not exactly a character you would feel empathy for, she seems to never know when to control her troublesome mouth, and even as she narrates in first person you get a little tired of her uppity attitude despite all the hardships she has endured.

I enjoyed the characters as they each held their own for their specific purpose in the book. The good guys turned bad, the bad guys were really good (in some ways)...The good guys against the bad guys, the have's against the have-not's. Rowena herself does some eye-rolling things which would really make me stop being her friend if I were one in the first place, but the overall story was a lot of western action fun. I didn't like the way that from whatever clothes she decided to wear she was magically transformed. Dowdy clothes, everyone else saw dowdy and a frumpy muffin and sent her distasteful glances. Put her in a dress and the entire town knows who she is, a rich heiress. The heavy amount of foreshadowing gets aggravating after the fourth or fifth time. You understand there is a twist coming, and coming, and coming.. still working on it.. Aside from the cumbersome first person narrative and the fact it was subtly written in a memoir fashion, I couldn't help imagining this as a good mini-series on the Lifetime network. (Catherine Zeta Jones would work well if any film makers are listening.)

With the multitude of events going on here (which there is no way I could attempt to elaborate on without this post being unending), I understand why this novel was 748 pages. But even as I wished it wasn't 748 pages, I can't think of a part to take out. So if you are ready to sit and read for a spell and get yourself caught up in a historical romance with all the tributes of a western, this is a great choice for you. The story stayed with me when I was not reading it, and the last half of the brick of a book seemed to move faster than the first half. If there was a sequel I would be interested in continuing the saga. As it is, I'll still be on the lookout for some of her other titles. Be prepared to be consumed by some gun-slinging, hijacking fun with some captivating fire and rain romance thrown in! (You'll see!!)

There are some wonderful ratings for this one on Amazon!
Purchasing through this link adds 4% revenue to The Burton Review! Go ahead and do it, it was an entertaining book to keep you busy for more than a weekend!

Teaser Tuesdays ~ Delilah by India Edghill

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!

Delilah by India Edghill; available 11/24/2009

"And although I had been trained well in all the arts a Rising Moon might be called upon to perform, and thought myself mistress of the skills that would be demanded of me, I still felt unprepared, not good enough. Fire danced light-footed across my skin; bees seemed to murmur in my ears, dizzying me. I summoned and then discarded half a dozen different responses, none of them worthy." - p. 230, ARC copy

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Oct 19, 2009

Giveaway and Interview with Diane Haeger, author of "The Queen's Mistake"

Today, I welcome Diane Haeger to The Burton Review! A special treat indeed. She answers some of my questions, then see below for another special treat for you!

I had really enjoyed Diane Haeger's novel on the sister to Henry VIII, The Secret Bride: In The Court of Henry VIII (get it at a bargain price on Amazon through that link) on Mary Tudor. This was the same Mary that he named a ship after, The Mary Rose, that you may have heard about lately in regards to a restoration project for this ship. The novel was an entertaining read on Mary's brief time as Queen of France and her love of Charles Brandon, who was a favorite of Henry's. Diane has also written several Historical Fiction novels that are quite popular, starting with her debut Courtesan in 1993.

The interview:
You say that your profession of "writing found you" when you decided to write your first book "The Courtesan" in 1993. The journey has taken your writing to Rome, to the American Civil War, to a Scottish village to the courts of Henry VIII, among others.. what has been your favorite era to write about?

Tough question! That’s a little like asking a mother to choose a favorite child, especially for me, since I spend every day for over a year, usually closer to two years, with each of my stories and characters, and I always spend time in the specific countries and towns in which they are set, hopefully to bring more realism to the books. But I think there is always a special fondness for the first one, and in my case that is definitely true. I will always love the Renaissance, particularly the French Renaissance, in which Courtesan is set.

Despite the many intrigues of the courts of Henry VIII, there are many novels that focus on this era. What has inspired you to write these stories for yourself?

Well, first of all, I really hope that my background in psychology helps me to see characters and present them in a full, perhaps multi-dimensional way that potentially has not been done before. Doing that has most definitely been part of the motivation. I really enjoy looking at the intricacies of my character’s lives, such as why they might have done what they did, and how it could have affected them, not just presenting the incidents. Second, I try to only spend a year of my life with a character who has really moved me and who I think perhaps I can portray for readers in a way that has not been done before. I like to think that is the case with Catherine Howard.

What has been the most surprising thing that you learned for your research in your latest novel, "The Queen's Mistake"?

The most surprising thing is that I don’t now believe Catherine was simply the silly, spoiled girl as many others have portrayed her, and as popular history has contended. I found that she was far more complex than that. I believe that she was a person, like the rest of us who, at her core, was human, one who made mistakes, but one who matured and changed and who tried to learn from those mistakes while she was queen. Yet sadly, she was still a person who ultimately paid an enormous price for them in the end.

"The Queen's Mistake" focuses on Catherine Howard, the young fifth wife of the older King Henry, who seems to have been a naive yet promiscuous young woman. Do you think that she loved King Henry or was she merely a political pawn of advancement for her family?

I do absolutely believe that, over time, she came to love her husband. It likely wasn’t the passionate love she had for Thomas Culpeper. The age difference was too great and Henry’s ailments were far too many at that point in his life But there are several kinds of love, and I think history shows us that Catherine worried greatly about his health, took care of him, and in some cases tried to make him a better man and a better king for the brief time that she was able to influence him.

Lady Rochford was a character in your novel and also in reality who had a lot to do with allowing the adulterous affair between Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper. Why do you think she aided the two to secretly meet? What does this tell you about her character?

Ah yes, Lady Rochford. I believe her motivations were as complicated as Catherine’s. Primarily, I came to believe she was likely driven to help the lovers out of a sense of her own guilt for misdeeds in her earlier life involving Anne Boleyn. She seems to have wanted to make amends for that to a degree. I also think in their time together she actually came to care for Catherine as a friend, and as we all know, good friends help one another. That is my take on it anyway and it was my premise in the novel.

After having so much success with the historical fiction genre with your writing, what are one of the secrets of your success?

Well thank you for that. I suppose I would have to say, if there is a secret, it is in never giving up, never taking a break, or taking a leave from the business, even as the market has changed in the last 2 decades. It has been quite a winding career path for me, as the varied subjects of my 11 novels shows, but I have just kept writing, and stayed flexible for that ever-changing market so that I could remain published and keep putting things out there for readers to hopefully connect with. It is my greatest hope that I have done that.

Do you have any works in progress that you would like to share with us? What is a topic that you would like to explore for future works?

Sure. Next up in the story of a much younger Henry VIII and his early mistress, Bess Blount, the mother of his only acknowledged natural child, his son, Henry Fitzroy. Beyond that, there is an incredible Italian Renaissance true story that I have been dying to tell since I wrote Courtesan, back in the ‘90’s. It’s full of unbelievable twists and turns, intrigue and great romance. Italian stories haven’t been easy for me to sell (Other than The Ruby Ring) but in a publishing market that changes as fast as this one does, I suppose there is always hope!

By the way, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. This has been a pleasure.

(You're welcome, and thanks for answering my questions!)

Her newest release this October and available now is The Queen's Mistake, and it is being given away right here! The publisher is offering a copy to two of my lucky readers!
I apologize but this is USA only.

The Queen's Mistake
So here is what you have to do in order to enter for this book:
1. Follow this blog publicly via google friend connect.
2. Comment with your E-mail Address.
3. 1 extra entry each for a Twitter, Blog Post or Sidebar Graphic Link, or Facebook Share (max. 5 total entries). Please provide links.
4. For an extra bonus +2 entries, comment on Catherine Howard, books you've read that included Catherine Howard, what you think her big mistake was... or comment regarding our guest author, Diane Haeger, and what books have you read of hers and which of these you enjoyed the most and why. (*Must be a cohesive comment that adds to the conversation. The comment I have not read any of Diane's books but would like to win this will NOT be counted as a bonus!)

Contest ends November 6, 2009, Good Luck and thanks for entering!

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Mailbox Monday~ Tudor Mania and another Austen Sequel!

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.

I received some fabulous books for review here on the blog:Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love by Elizabeth Norton Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love by Elizabeth Norton:
"Jane Seymour is often portrayed as meek and mild and as the most successful, but one of the least significant, of Henry VIII’s wives. The real Jane was a very different character, demure and submissive yet with a ruthless streak — as Anne Boleyn was being tried for treason, Jane was choosing her wedding dress.
From the lowliest origins of any of Henry’s wives her rise shows an ambition every bit as great as Anne’s. Elizabeth Norton tells the thrilling life of a country girl from rural Wiltshire who rose to the throne of England and became the ideal Tudor woman." 240 pages; Amberley (July 2009)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Loades:
"The story of Henry VIII and his six wives has passed from history into legend — taught in the cradle as a cautionary tale and remembered in adulthood as an object lesson in the dangers of marying into royalty. The true story behind the legend, however, remains obscure to most people, whose knowledge of the affair begins and ends with the aide memoire ‘Divorced, executed, died, divorce, executed, survived’.
David Loades' masterly book recounts the whole sorry tale in detail from Henry’s first marriage to his brother’s widow, to more or less contented old age in the care of the motherly Catherine Parr." 240 pages; Amberley (July 2009)

In a win from Historically Obsessed:

Lady Vernon and Her Daughter: A Novel of Jane Austen's Lady Susan by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

"Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan was written during the same period as another novella called Elinor and Marianne–which was later revised and expanded to become Sense and Sensibility. Unfortunately for readers, Lady Susan did not enjoy the same treatment by its author and was left abandoned and forgotten by all but the most diligent Austen scholars. Until now.

In Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway have taken Austen's original novella and transformed it into a vivid and richly developed novel of love lost and found–and the complex relationships between women, men, and money in Regency England.Lady Vernon and her daughter, Frederica, are left penniless and without a home after the death of Sir Frederick Vernon, Susan's husband. Frederick' s brother and heir, Charles Vernon, like so many others of his time, has forgotten his promises to look after the women, and despite their fervent hopes to the contrary, does nothing to financially support Lady Vernon and Frederica. When the ladies, left without another option, bravely arrive at Charles's home to confront him about his treatment of his family, they are faced with Charles's indifference, his wife Catherine's distrustful animosity, and a flood of rumors that threaten to undo them all. Will Lady Vernon and Frederica find love and happiness–and financial security– or will their hopes be dashed with their lost fortune?

With wit and warmth reminiscent of Austen's greatest works, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter brings to vivid life a time and place where a woman's security is at the mercy of an entail, where love is hindered by misunderstanding, where marriage can never be entirely isolated from money, yet where romance somehow carries the day." Crown/RandomHouse (October 6, 2009)

I also received Diane Haeger's newest release, "The Queen's Mistake". The good news for YOU is I have an interview ready to go with the author, and if you check back later today you will see your chance to win your very own copy of this book!

The Queen's Mistake "When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart's desire in favor of her family's ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon-her own romantic past. The Queen's Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart."
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Oct 17, 2009

The Sunday Salon~The Week in Review

The Sunday

Happy Sunday to everyone! It's been a busy week here at The Burton Review!

I reviewed Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman, a non-fiction account of the ladies and family members that influenced Elizabeth I's character. I really enjoyed this book, and I think it belongs it everyone's Tudor book collection. The book is available through the links I provided on the post, but will be readily available in bookstores in the USA in September. What made my review of Tracy Borman's new book extra special is the fact that it was my first buddy read. Heather from The Maiden's Court and I interacted during our progress and you can see our own interviews on my review post and her review post. It was great fun. We've got some more fun stuff up our sleeves, but you'll have to wait and see!

The author Tracy Borman is expecting a baby any day now, so congratulations and best wishes are being sent her way. She is working on two more books now, as baby permits, but I am excited about both of the topics she has chosen. The first one is Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, for 2011; and the second is the Witches of Belvoir - a scandalous 17th century witchcraft trial event, for 2013. You can bet I'll be first in line for these reads as well!

I also read and reviewed Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien which was another fantastic read. I also did a special post on it here for Lyman Beecher's birthday. I definitely recommend this for anyone interested in late 1800's America, social issues of the times, and the Beecher story in general. I am looking for the author's historical fiction book, The Glory Cloak, as well. You may have missed my review because I decided to post it late on Friday night. It was one of those that I didn't want to spend too much more time on and turn it into a big mess!

I was going through my reviews for the year so far and posting them with their ratings on my Reviews page. It really looks like I've found a way to discern the not-great books from the better books, as I've received a lot of better books (in my opinion) lately. I have not had many doozy's, probably because I have learned to stick within my niche of historical fiction and not straying too far from that. I counted 54 books read and reviewed in 2009 so far. That is great for me! I had no idea how many it was because this is the first time I've attempted to count. I am happy with that total, considering there are 52 weeks in the year, and we are still in October. I hope I can keep up the pace for 2010, and wouldn't mind being a little quicker then since I have a lot more review opportunities now.

I chose a winner and she has responded gleefully already for the giveaway I ran for The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes:

Big Congratulations to Ms. Lucy, I am so excited you are the winner this time around! Canada misses out on some of our contests, so I am always happy to see US spreading the love ;)

I still have another week going for the giveaway for Monica Fairview's The Other Mr. Darcy. If you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice at all, you are really going to like this one, as I did. I enjoyed this version of Caroline Bingley very much and there was a lot of regency flair to this read. Enter for the book giveaway here at The Burton Review!

I am working on some facelift/bloggiesta type improvements for the blog, which include a graphic navigation menu bar for underneath the header picture, and composing the obligatory About Me post etc. I did update my Email Me button that is on my left sidebar. The graphics are there, (obviously) but I'm working on some of the corresponding posts they link to. I also killed the bazillion awards that cluttered up my sidebar. My blog takes awhile to load because of the header, the background, the widgets, the 15 posts, the Amazon Associates links, and everything else, so the awards were just cluttering my brain up. And I have a music player on there as well. Which I realize you guys don't use, but believe it or not, I have my blog page up all day at work to look at my sheepish header for sanity, and I listen to the music player. For 8 hours a day. And now that I have the menu bar up, the page will probably load slow because of linking the graphics from photobucket. So we'll see how it goes. I added a TweetMeme thing that shows below the header of the posts. I also configured my google friends gadget. I was bored.

Then I found this on google books.. they have uploaded LIFE magazine to their database, so now you can browse back issues of LIFE magazine.Check it out here! I was looking at a 1972 issue wher Margaret Truman talks about the book about her dad that she wrote, which I just got from Paperbackswap last month. And there are these awesome Panasonic ads with an 8 track and a system that looks similar to my dad's.. so awesome.

And then I googled all issues, and searched Harriet Beecher.. I can be here ALL night!

I completed 125/250 points for Virginie's Four month challenge, and she started another Four Month Challenge here on her blog. I've completed three of the six books for The Everything Austen Challenge but I might have to substitute one or two on the list I had originally posted. We'll see how far we get. More than likely I will get 50% on this one as well. I am not that good at these Challenges, I always end up changing my priority reads to coincide with newer review requests.

My goal for next week is to get my husband to construct another bookcase. I've got some categorizing to do and I need some more space. I'll let you know how that works out. I'm about to start Delilah by India Edghill, and I hope to get somewhere with it this weekend, but I would have to get off the computer in order to do that.

I've been busy working, kids, reading/reviewing, so I haven't been commenting much on your sites and I apologize for that. I do keep up with google reader on my iPhone when things settle enough for me to take a peek at what is going on. So I am making it up to you with two more giveaways! One starts Monday, and the other starts Friday! I will also have one more review for you this week, The Wildest Heart, by Rosemary Rogers. See you then!

Oct 16, 2009

Book Review: Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien

Harriet and Isabella: A Novel by Patricia O'Brien
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (January 13, 2009)
Originally published January 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0743277778
Review copy from Touchstone via
The Burton Review Rating:4.5 Stars at The Burton Review

"It is 1887, and Henry Ward Beecher lies dying. Reporters from around the world, eager for one last story about the most lurid scandal of their time, descend on Brooklyn Heights, their presence signaling the beginning of the voracious appetite for fallen celebrities we know so well today.
When Henry Ward Beecher was put on trial for adultery in 1875, the question of his guilt or innocence was ferociously debated. His trial not only split the country, it split apart his family, causing a particularly bitter rift between his sisters, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Isabella Beecher Hooker, an ardent suffragist. Harriet remained loyal to Henry, while Isabella called publicly for him to admit his guilt. What had been a loving, close relationship between two sisters plummeted into bitter blame and hurt.
Harriet and Isabella each had a major role in the social revolutions unfolding around them, but what happened in their hearts when they were forced to face a question of justice much closer to home? Now they struggle: who best served Henry -- the one who was steadfast or the one who demanded honesty?"

I absolutely loved this novel. My heart ached at several points within the book and then again at the end. I even cried. I checked the rating on Goodreads as I marked this finished, and the average rating is 3.24 of 5. So again, I am loving a book beyond reality. But I'm not changing my rating of 4.5, because I LOVED IT! This is a very absorbing fictional account of the sisters to Henry Ward Beecher who caused a sensational scandal in 1875 when he was publicly accused of being a cheating preacher. These two sisters were Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Isabella Hooker, who was a leader in the woman's suffrage movement and also became an author. Henry shocked his family and friends with the scandal of their times that tore the family apart, as he was the most eloquent and popular preacher of the time. This was not your ordinary family; the Beecher's were an intellectual group and there were a total thirteen siblings that called Lyman Beecher their father. Lyman Beecher was a force all by himself, and he instilled family pride and the desire for learning, along with political stands on abolition, into the family value structure. How the Beecher children took this knowledge to greater heights helped America to grow in the 1850's and beyond, such as with Harriet's book, which was a small factor in providing inspiration for the American Civil War.

Patricia O'Brien walked the paths of the main protagonists in Brooklyn Heights and read the archives of the Brooklyn Library to get the essence of her story just right. She conveyed the sense of of the period with ease, and focused on the story of two of the Beecher sisters, Harriet and Isabella. The story is wrapped with questions of virtue, humility, wisdom, and the price that was paid by Beechers for all of it. And at times, it was Harriet versus Isabella, and triumph versus burden.

Harriet Beecher Stowe,1811-1896
The novel opens up to Henry's death bed, and swiftly jumps to the earlier times of Harriet and Isabella's childhood and growing up as members of the prominent Beecher family. There are a few themes here, but the main theme stealthily ponders the justification of standing up for your rights, as a woman, as a member of the community, as a wife, and as a sister. Harriet stands by her brother in all ways, and in doing so has knowingly alienated her sister Isabella who she was once so close to.
Isabella Hooker, 1822-1907
The narrative is a third person omniscient, switching from Isabella's thoughts to Harriet's about halfway through the book which made me miss Isabella as I had grown attached to her. Harriet was a bit too haughty to really connect to until later on as we feel her thoughts and begin to empathize with her. Yet certain small things we would be fed, such as her humiliation of a book that was not as successful as her previous one, when she wrote about Lord Byron’s incestuous relations with his half-sister in Lady Byron Vindicated (1870) and The History of the Byron Controversy (1871), small insights that would begin to play on our sympathies for Harriet. The younger sister, Isabella Beecher Hooker also became an important woman in those times, like her sister, trying to fight the system as she spoke up for the right of women to vote, although she is always portrayed as more of a simple-stick-to-the-facts kind of person in the novel. She had associated with names we recognize from the time such as Victoria Woodhull, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Victoria Woodhull was the one who broke the story on the scandal of Henry's adultery, and the family warned Isabella to stop seeing Victoria. As a result, Isabella became the black sheep of the family, but also because she wanted her brother to simply admit to the mistake of adultery and move on. But the entire family believed Henry was innocent, thus Isabella was treated harshly for her views.

The author shifts between their current time at Henry's death bed and then to early events that they recalled back from their memories and then back to the trial that was sensationalized because of who they were. The results of being a celebrity is another theme here, as one wonders if Henry wasn't a Beecher, would there have been such news about the trial.. would there have been a trial in the first place? The trial doesn't occur until halfway through the book, so the author does a good job of building up the characters and making us comfortable with our opinions of them before we try and discern fact from fiction as the trial occurs. We do not know if Henry is guilty of cheating on his wife, Eunice, who is such a cold person that nobody wonders why Henry would stray, but as a reader we are not privy to the answer to that all important question of innocence or guilt. That being the case, this becomes a tender tale of how a very close knit family copes with scandal in the midst of the harsh public spotlight, and the author treats it with a lot of drama, a little mystery and a lot of heart. The events that keep switching from 1875 to earlier days also makes the mystery fester as the story builds up to the conclusion of the trial.

I found the writing to be fluent and the nuance of the times she conveyed to be educational, with the issues of slavery and the suffrage movement. As a historical junkie myself, I would have preferred some more history in general but I still relished each page as the story unfolded. The switching to different periods got a little confusing when I was picking up the book again after 24 hours and I had to get my bearings as to which stage we were in. It was presented in a unique way that turned this mini history lesson into something meant to be savored. At 298 pages, this seems small in relation to the amount of historical facts the author could have barraged us with, instead she blends an intricate story of betrayal, family, love, loneliness, honesty with a little history into a compelling novel that I highly recommend.

After the 298 pages of text, the book includes a Reading Guide, Author's note and interview, and a suggested further reading list, which I intend to research for my own personal library; always a good sign that the author Patricia O'Brien did a good job of selling me the story of Harriet and Isabella. There is so much more to be learned about this great family of our American history, and the author has simply whetted my appetite. I felt deprived when the story did end, however, as I had fallen in love with the characters and did not want the story to end. I then found that the author has also written another historical fiction novel, The Glory Cloak, which focuses on Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton. SOLD! Louisa May Alcott is always my favorite author from childhood; my first book beyond Judy Blume that I had read as an impressionable ten year old was Little Women, and my loyalty has never strayed. I enjoyed O'Brien's prose so much I hope that The Glory Cloak is similar in style.
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Friday Fill-In~ Can you predict who this is?

Friday Fill-In Fun Join in the Friday Fill-In Fun~ They provide the basics and we fill-in the blanks with whatever we want! So that means I get to use famous dead people or fave characters..

Can you guess who this person is (it's not me)?

1. So are we going travel through France or Italy?

2. My greatest desire for the truth is what's up ahead.

3. I love to consult for the king and the Queen consort.

4. They could be just ambiguous patterns of some sort.

5. I walk a fine line between fake or insane and evil.

6. The future is the true elixir of life!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to publishing my book, tomorrow my plans include hoping to not be executed for heresy and Sunday, I want to be re-interred!
Guess who I am!

The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes book giveaway ends later TODAY, get your entries in today and I'll announce winner this weekend.

There is also a book giveaway for Monica Fairview's The Other Mr. Darcy until the 26th.Good Luck!

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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Oct 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday~ Books Like Weeds!

Booking Through Thursday is hosted by Deb.
When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

Before the whole book blogging biz, I did collect books, but actually started to weed through them the year before I started blogging. I turned them in at the little used book store in town. But I kept the favorite ones. My mom had always given me the miscellaneous hand-me-downs and that is what spurred on weeding them out.

Now with the review copies landing on my doorstep, my 'library' has quadrupled. My mom has now read some of the books that I haven't even gotten a chance to yet! She is a quick reader, and doesn't have family obligations anymore 24/7, as it's my turn to raise a family. She's so much faster that I am contemplating getting her into the review biz too!

I keep most of my books now, in the beginning when I didn't know what I was asking for I got some genres of books I don't prefer, so those are the ones that tend to go away via the used book store or paperbackswap. But many of the books from publishers are ARC's and so they have accumulated some. If it is one that I know will just collect dust, then I do a giveaway on the blog for it, since those are not for sale.

I do have some books from my high school days. My brother is holding a bunch more hostage till doomsday I suppose, but I do hope to get those back, even if just for my daughter's sake.

I have also bought a lot of books in the last year or received from Paperbackswap, and those are for my permanent collection. They are the ones you see on my Mailbox Monday posts, that are mostly historical fiction. I know have an additional 4 full bookcases that I didn't have at this time last year. I don't buy or order a book if I don't intend it for my permanent collection. I have a dream. But this is for when we move, or the kids move, whichever comes first. That dream is to have a room that I can call a library, and more importantly, mine.

What about you?

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Oct 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday~ Part Three~ Chatsworth & Derbyshire

Today, 2 Wordless Wednesday pictures.
Above Chatsworth:

Building of Chatsworth house was begun in 1552 by Bess of Hardwick and her second husband Sir William Cavendish. Their second son, William, was created Earl of Devonshire in 1618. The 4th Earl who was created 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1694 after assisting William of Orange to claim the British throne, began to make improvements at Chatsworth. Eventually he completely remodelled the house and added formal gardens and the famous cascade. Most of the work was completed before he died in 1707.

The Cavendish's Chatsworth House:

Chatsworth House and gardens has been the setting for many films throughout the years. More recently Chatsworth House was used for all the exterior Pemberley sequences and some of the interior including the sculpture gallery, in the 2005 filming of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth & more recently in Duchess.

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Oct 13, 2009

Teaser Tuesday ~ Elizabeth's Women

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!

Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman

"The fact that she was known to so fiercely disapprove of their marrying created a vicious circle in which her ladies were often too afraid to seek her permission and therefore married in secret, which in turn provoked even greater wrath when their actions were discovered. It was without doubt the surest way to lose the Queen's favour." ~ page 217

See my review here.

Oct 12, 2009

Book Review: Elizabeth's Women:The Hidden Story of The Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman

Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman
Non-Fiction; September 2009
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd ISBN-10: 0224082264
Review copy provided by the publisher
Purchase it from Amazon UK, Google Checkout,BookDepositoryUK,BookDepositoryUSA

The Burton Review Rating:4 Stars at The Burton Review

Product Description:

"Elizabeth I was born into a world of women. As a child, she was served by a predominantly female household of servants and governesses, with occasional visits from her mother, Anne Boleyn, and the wives who later took her place. As Queen, Elizabeth was constantly attended by ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honor who clothed her, bathed her and watched her while she ate. Among her family, it was her female relations who had the greatest influence: from her sister Mary, who distrusted and later imprisoned her, to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who posed a constant and dangerous threat to her crown for almost thirty years.

Despite the importance of women in Elizabeth's life, most historians and biographers have focused on her relationships with men. She has been portrayed as a 'man's woman' who loved to flirt with the many ambitious young men who frequented her court. Yet it is the women in her life who provide the most fascinating insight into the character of this remarkable monarch. With them she was jealous, spiteful and cruel, as well as loyal, kind and protective. She showed her frailties and her insecurities, but also her considerable shrewdness and strength. In short, she was more human than the public persona she presented to the rest of the court. It is her relationships with women that hold the key to the private Elizabeth.

In this original chronicling of the life of one of England's greatest monarchs, historian Tracy Borman explores Elizabeth's relationships with the key women in her life. Beginning with her mother and the governesses and stepmothers who cared for the young princess, including her beloved Kat Astley and the inspirational Katherine Parr, "Elizabeth's Women" sheds new light on her formative years. Elizabeth's turbulent relationships with her rivals are examined: from her sister, 'Bloody' Mary, to the sisters of Lady Jane Grey, and finally the most deadly of all her rivals, Mary, Queen of Scots who would give birth to the man Elizabeth would finally, inevitably have to recognize as heir to her throne. It is a chronicle of the servants, friends and 'flouting wenches' who brought out the best - and the worst - of Elizabeth's carefully cultivated image as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, in the glittering world of her court."

My thoughts:

In a world inundated with modern biographies on Elizabeth I, historian Tracy Borman sets out to explore the world of women surrounding Elizabeth I in hopes of shedding light on Elizabeth's character and personality. Who helped shaped Elizabeth into such a formidable female ruler, something that was an anomaly in itself? This is a proficient account of the story behind the stories of Elizabeth's peers, elders and family members that helps the reader to better understand the nuts and bolts of Elizabeth's mind, which was always skillfully at work.

Despite the bevy of information at our fingertips regarding Elizabeth, she is still one of the most intriguing figures of the Tudor era. Born to Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, she was at first a disappointment to her parents and a kingdom by being a girl. Losing her mother at the age of 3, she was brought up in her own household under the tutelage of preferred women. It is with these women that Elizabeth begins cultivating her personality and understanding the way of the tumultuous world around her. Although we regularly hear of the men or the favorites in Elizabeth's life, rarely do we obtain as much information about the women who constantly attended her and were with her behind the scenes.. until now.

Borman begins the story of Elizabeth with her mother, Anne Boleyn, and gives the standard biography of Anne. Although at first she praises Anne's intellect, she soon writes of her haughtiness and the swift fall from Henry's graces once they were finally married. Seemingly it was once they were married that Anne's and Henry's marriage fell apart. Elizabeth seems to have not had much of a relationship with Anne or Henry as a child, except for Anne sending gifts to Elizabeth.

Borman explains how Elizabeth interacted with a few of the children and caretakers, such as Blanche Parry (who ended up serving Elizabeth for over fifty years), and she goes into small biographies of these secondary women as she introduces them to us. Another woman who also stayed with Elizabeth a lengthy amount and therefore gets more attention is the governess, Kat Astley or Ashley, who joined Elizabeth's household when Elizabeth was 3 and Kat was probably in her late twenties. Elizabeth was very close to her as Kat was one of the few people in her life that stayed with her in her younger years. I had not realized the extent of Kat's own learning because of the ridicule she receives by historians due to the Thomas Seymour affair. After Lady Bryan it was Kat who had continued to instill a love for learning, which was further enhanced by her last stepmother, Katherine Parr and the tutors she chose for Elizabeth.

For some thirty, forty and fifty years these few women such as Kat Ashley, Blanche Parry and Anne Dudley stayed nearby with Elizabeth and were close confidantes and friends to the Queen. Borman details the relationships of the women with Elizabeth in a way that has not been done before, when before we had always heard of merely Cecil influencing Elizabeth's political decisions. We now get a look on the inside, the female perspective of jealousy, vanity and courtly appearance.

One of the most interesting continuing relationships in Borman's book deals with the sisterhood of Elizabeth and Mary. Borman tells of how Elizabeth interacted with her half siblings, and I was surprised to learn that her sister Mary had eventually grown fond of Elizabeth, probably out of pity, once Anne Boleyn was executed. Knowing of the strained relationship Mary and Elizabeth had once their brother King Edward had died, I had never assumed that they were in reality ever close, yet Borman portrays Mary as once being maternal to Elizabeth. They were 17 years apart, and with Elizabeth being 3 when she lost her mother, Mary may have felt sorry for her. But soon enough for Mary's reign, Mary was calling Elizabeth the bastard, the daughter of the little whore, etc. A swift turn around for Mary's feelings towards Elizabeth, but one wonders all the different mechanisms at play, such as Mary's jealousy towards Elizabeth as Elizabeth grew into a pleasant looking young lady and Mary was soon eclipsed by Elizabeth's sharp mind and looks. Anne of Cleves favored Elizabeth over Mary, and Katherine Parr did as well. Did Mary resent this? Once Mary was queen, she did not trust Elizabeth, and denounced her right to the succession. There was a long look at Mary Tudor here, but was appreciated for the fact that we were able to glean what Elizabeth learned from Mary's reign.

One of the many people who helped shaped the progress of Elizabeth's reign was her cousin, Mary the Queen of Scots. Most people know of the outcome that happened after Mary had been a burr in Elizabeth's side for nearly thirty years, and the author devotes an entire 50 page chapter to this conflict. This is where the allure of the book started to lose its luster, but it picked up its interesting pace as soon as the Queen of Scots was dealt with. I had already read enough accounts of these two Queen's relationships and there was not any new insight for me regarding the effects of their animosity towards each other. Those who are not acquainted with that story may not be as disappointed as I was to see so much time devoted to this, however.

Of some of the influencers and courtiers that we read about are the Seymour family, the Sidneys, and Lettice Knollys (who married Elizabeth's favorite, Leicester, much to Elizabeth's chagrin). We also are treated to accounts regarding Bess of Hardwick, married to George Talbot, both as she was a gaoler for Mary Queen of Scots and later when Arbella was growing up into an eccentric young lady. Other characters include Bess Throckmorton who shocked Elizabeth by becoming pregnant by Sir Walter Ralegh, and the cousins Katherine and Mary Grey who posed a threat to Elizabeth's throne.

There are several color photos in the book as well which I enjoyed perusing. Most I had seen elsewhere but one in particular stood out: Queen Elizabeth in Old Age at The Bridgeman Art Library
Queen Elizabeth I, with time and death waiting, looking over her shoulder. Circa 1620
Those who are looking for more insight into the characters surrounding Elizabeth during her life will not be disappointed. Beginning with Anne Boleyn and continuing with the two Queen Mary's, we are privy to the causes and effects that made Elizabeth who she was, Gloriana. This is thoroughly researched, with the footnotes to prove it, and it is put together effectively. Through the reign of Mary I, we are made to understand how Elizabeth learned from Mary's mistakes and held fast to her beliefs on how to rule exclusively without a husband or even an heir, as opposed to the hard and unbending rule of her sister. We begin to understand Elizabeth's decisions on the refusal of marriage when Elizabeth witnesses the catastrophic effects of most marriages of those in power, from her father to her sister. We learn that Elizabeth had a strict expectation of the women in her chambers and wished for them to not marry at all, and was hard on those that strayed from the virginal status.

This is not just another biography of Elizabeth I or the history of Elizabethan England. In fact, Borman successfully dodges that bullet by not repeating many of the historical events that happened during Elizabeth's life, and even skips those that greatly effected her. For instance, the author does not discuss the fatal period of Lady Jane Grey's reign, nor does she go into the Dudley plot which scared Elizabeth half out of her mind as she was imprisoned when her sister was Queen and there is no mention of the burning of heretics. This is a fulfilling account of the women who definitely instilled Elizabeth's characteristics and beliefs into her heart and mind. Moreover, I would recommend reading a biography on Elizabeth I before reading this one due to the nature that this is more of a study and commentary on those surrounding her who helped to shape the character of Elizabeth. It would be hard to understand the ramifications of some of the things that Elizabeth encountered in her relationships that are discussed here without knowing any of the political and biographical history of Elizabeth I. If you do not feel intrigued by the persona of Elizabeth I, this is not the book for you. I had hoped for more of a finishing commentary as a summary on Elizabeth from the author's opinion; but overall I was sad that I had completed this book because I was enjoying my enlightened status of understanding Elizabeth as a woman, as the Virgin Queen, and why she chose that status for herself. There was the blurb about George and Jane Boleyn having a son which I disagree with, and the excessive information on the Queen of Scots negated a star for me. I enjoyed 95% of this book, being a Tudor fanatic that I am, and I definitely recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in the workings of Elizabeth's mind, and of the many supporting or bothersome women in her life.

Heather from The Maiden's Court was my Buddy-Reader for this read, and we interacted with these questions (*please see Part Two at The Maiden's Court):
Before opening the book, Elizabeth's Women, what are your expectations and what do you hope to learn?
Heather: I don’t really know all that much about Elizabeth yet, so I hope that I can learn a lot. One thing that I would like to learn more about is more about the relationship between her and her sister, Mary.

Marie: I am hoping for an otherwise unknown look at some of the ladies that surrounded Elizabeth. I would love to know if these women shared any secrets that now reveal interesting traits of Elizabeth.

(Before reading the book) Who are you most interested in as far as a peer or friend to Elizabeth?
Heather: The two books that I have read about her so far have mentioned a lot about Kat Ashley – that is definitely one. I would also like to see how she interacted with her numerous step mothers.

Marie: My favorite contemporaries of Elizabeth are Lettice Knollys, and Bess of Hardwick (AKA Elizabeth Talbot). I would love to learn more.

After the first chapter on Anne Boleyn, what are your reactions to the book so far?
Heather: It definitely did not give Anne any sort of a break – she is portrayed as someone who only looked out for herself and moving up. It also seems to be more sympathetic to the Princess Mary.
Marie: I was a little perturbed that the moles and extra fingernail were pointed out, but that reasoning or other theories were not used as well. Anne is portrayed as haughty.

Was there anything new that this author presented about Anne Boleyn that you didn’t know before?
Heather: There were only a couple small things – she was only the second Queen of England who came from an aristocrat family since 1066. Also, she kept his sister Mary’s child away from court because it had a mental disability – this was not something I had ever heard.

Marie: I hadn't fully grasped that Anne had been at Henry's court in Queen Katherine's retinue for four years before Henry started to pay attention to her. She probably had no idea during those years how much would dramatically change for her. What were Anne's hopes and dreams during those years? Was she focused on Henry Percy, who had broken a previous betrothal to be with her?
Most of the details were the same types of things in other biographies of Anne, but I was intrigued at the intellect Anne had shown at an early age, as this was the same for her daughter Elizabeth. Anne was chosen over her sister Mary to attend the French courts because of the superiority & presence of mind that Anne had over her sister.

What do you think of the role Lady Bryan played in raising Elizabeth, especially after the loss of her mother?
Heather: I think that she was very instrumental in making sure that Elizabeth was shielded as much as possible from the outburst of anger at Anne and what happened after her execution. She was one of the most stable things in Elizabeth’s life and think that she should really be commended for keeping things relatively the same for her when everything was changing rapidly. It could have been a very different outcome for Elizabeth if Lady Bryan had not fought for her.
Marie: In the tumultuous world of being a daughter of the slandered queen, Elizabeth seems lucky to have had someone to care for her so diligently regardless of the status of her mother and Elizabeth being called a bastard by her own father. She provided a stable environment for the child which is a blessing for Elizabeth.

What are your opinions of the relationships of Elizabeth with her stepmothers?
Heather: It doesn’t surprise me that Jane had little interest in Elizabeth – after all, she had just replaced her mother in a horrible way. It does surprise me a little that she favored Mary, almost over the children that her and Henry would have. It always surprises me to hear how Anne of Cleves had such an influence on the girls and had a good relationship with Henry after their marriage was annulled. Katherine Howard’s relationship is exactly how I imagined it. She was young and liked gifts and showered these on Elizabeth. She was also similar to Anne Boleyn in these ways. The similarities were probably what led Elizabeth to be very shocked at the loss of Katherine in the same manner as her mother. I think Katherine Parr had the greatest influence in the ways of thinking that Elizabeth manifested. Katherine oversaw her education and through that Elizabeth learned Humanism, the reformed religion, and how to rule among other things. She also gave her someone stable to relate to.

Marie: I was impressed at how Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves had forged their relationship even after Henry had chosen another wife after Anne of Cleves. Elizabeth was ever the pragmatic, and was kind to the succession of her father's wives, and one can base many theories on how this formed Elizabeth's opinions of marriage altogether. The relationship with Catherine Howard was glazed over in the book, but the fact of the closeness in age to the two Borman states that this would have a profound effect on Elizabeth. Besides the kindness shown by Anne of Cleves to Elizabeth, Katherine Parr was probably the most influential as far as political ideas and religious theories, and through Borman's recounting of the relationship I see just how important Katherine Parr was to the development of the basis of Elizabeth's beliefs regarding state policies and religion.

For the Chapter titled Governess, what was the most interesting thing you learned?
Heather: I couldn’t believe how involved Kat was in the Seymour Scandal. She continually kept pushing for Elizabeth to marry Seymour. Also being a gossip, she wasn’t able to keep her mouth shut, which got them into a lot of trouble. For someone who was supposed to be looking out for Elizabeth she made some huge errors in her judgment. I had never heard that there had been rumors when Elizabeth left the house of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour that she was pregnant – I kind of think they were just that, rumors.

Marie: Kat Astley/Ashley was also brought up with an education which was unheard of in most families, but the use of the intellect did not bleed through to her common sense. I had known she was involved in the Thomas Seymour affair and did not know how to act properly and with the proper airs, but the fact that she was indeed and educated girl was not known to me before. Elizabeth at age 15 showed more common sense and intelligence than Kat did when she was in her forties at the time of the Seymour scandal.

See Tracy Borman's site for upcoming events in the UK, her friend and fellow historian Alison Weir are hosting several discussions regarding Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I. Borman is also the author of Henrietta Howard: King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant.
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Happy Birthday, Lyman Beecher! (October 12, 1775)

As opposed to celebrating Cristóbal Colón this Columbus Day, who really stole all he could see in 1493, let's celebrate the birthday of Lyman Beecher who was born on October 12, 1775 in Connecticut.

1775 was a banner year for America, when Americans began their fight for independence from Great Britain, thus becoming the United States of America. Lyman Beecher was born. He was an intelligent man, studying at Yale and following religious pursuits.

He became a renowned preacher, especially in 1806 when he preached a sermon concerning a duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, where Hamilton died from his wounds. It was at this time that slavery was a hot topic and abolition was demanded. He proposed colonization of Africa to send America's slaves to Africa, to their freedom. Beecher was also anti-Catholic. Despite Lyman's fiery views and disagreeing ways, hell-fire and damnation sermons, Reverend Lyman managed to marry three times and beget 13 children. In 1851 after Rev. Lyman's retirement from Lane Theological Seminary, he moved to Brooklyn to live with his son Henry until he died in 1863.

It very well may be through these children that Lyman recieves his fame though. His daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote the fictional account of a slave in Uncle Tom's Cabin in the early 1850's which inspired many to take a stand against slavery, his son Henry Ward Beecher was a noted preacher who slandered his good name with a tabloid style affair, and another daughter Isabella Hooker was a noted woman's suffragist as well as an abolitionist who helped create the New England Women's Suffrage Association. Another daughter Catharine was well known for her views on eduation and founded schools as she promoted the idea of kindergarten, among others.

I became interested in the Beecher's because I just started reading "Harriet and Isabella" by Patricia O'Brien.


"It is 1887, and Henry Ward Beecher lies dying. Reporters from around the world, eager for one last story about the most lurid scandal of their time, descend on Brooklyn Heights, their presence signaling the beginning of the voracious appetite for fallen celebrities we know so well today.
When Henry Ward Beecher was put on trial for adultery in 1875, the question of his guilt or innocence was ferociously debated. His trial not only split the country, it split apart his family, causing a particularly bitter rift between his sisters, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Isabella Beecher Hooker, an ardent suffragist. Harriet remained loyal to Henry, while Isabella called publicly for him to admit his guilt. What had been a loving, close relationship between two sisters plummeted into bitter blame and hurt.
Harriet and Isabella each had a major role in the social revolutions unfolding around them, but what happened in their hearts when they were forced to face a question of justice much closer to home? Now they struggle: who best served Henry -- the one who was steadfast or the one who demanded honesty?"

Mathew Brady Studio Albumen silver print (carte de visite), circa 1861 8.5 x 5.3 cm (3 5/16 x 2 1/16 inches) National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.  This photo shows Harriet Beecher Stowe, her father Lyman Beecher, and her brother Henry Ward Beecher. Isabella had a falling out with the family when the scandal broke about Henry regarding his adultery trial in 1875, but Harriet stood by him. I am enjoying the book, which made me take a look at who the man was who brought these innovating children to life.

Happy Birthday Lyman, and America thanks you for your children!

Incidentally, it is also the birthday of King Edward VI, the heir that Henry VIII fought so hard for.. but sadly died at age 15. Claire at The Anne Boleyn Files has a great write up here on the boy king.

Mailbox Monday~ A Few Goodies!

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.

Not a big week as far as the quantity of books are concerned, but quality is always most important.

From Paperbackswap, I received:

To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell
To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell This is a great follow-up for those who read and loved Philippa Gregory's recent "The White Queen", and I am always interested in the lost prince theories:

"In 1483, Edward and Richard of York—Edward, by law, already King of England—were placed, for their protection before Edward's coronation, in the Tower of London by their uncle Richard. Within months the boys disappeared without a trace, and for the next five hundred years the despised Richard III was suspected of their heartless murders.
In To the Tower Born, Robin Maxwell ingeniously imagines what might have happened to the missing princes. The great and terrible events that shaped a kingdom are viewed through the eyes of quick-witted Nell Caxton, only daughter of the first English printer, and her dearest friend, "Bessie," sister to the lost boys and ultimate founder of the Tudor dynasty. It is a thrilling story brimming with mystery, color, and historical lore. With great bravery and heart, two friends navigate a dark and treacherous medieval landscape rendered more perilous by the era's scheming, ambitious, even murderous men and women who will stop at nothing to possess the throne."
I just love this cover also. This one was released by Harper Paperbacks in October 2006; I don't know why it took me so long to get this one. I am now only missing Mademoiselle Boleyn and Signora Da Vinci of Maxwell's current 7 books.

From a giveaway win, I received The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King - A Nonfiction Thriller

"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. The keys to an unsolved mystery: Enchanted by the ruler's tragic story and hoping to unlock the answers to the 3,000 year-old mystery, Howard Carter made it his life's mission to uncover the pharaoh's hidden tomb. He began his search in 1907, but encountered countless setbacks and dead-ends before he finally, uncovered the long-lost crypt. The clues point to murder. Now, in The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence--X-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages--to arrive at their own account of King Tut's life and death. The result is an exhilarating true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all."

The fantastic thing I received which is not a book but I must mention is a giveaway win from Susie at All Things Royal:

A set of collectible postcards from the early Tudor times. Several images of National Portrait Gallery paintings of Henry VIII, Catherine Parr.. Totally awesome. The little box of it is standing up on my mini Tudor bookshelf in my bedroom, so I wake up to Henry VIII's face every morning. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Thankfully for me it is just the image of him and not the scary reality of him!! Thank you, Susie, for this wonderful win!

Oct 11, 2009

The Burton Review Policy


2016 Update
I am NOT accepting review requests at this time.

♦For Publishers, Publicists, and Authors♦
I do accept certain books for review, but on a case by case basis (*& never e-books). The genre I review is Historical Fiction. Due to the multitude of books that I already own that I would like to read, I will only consider historical fiction and non-fiction books (regarding historical aspects, eras or figures). Please email me to request for me to review a book for you. I will not guarantee a time frame with which to review a book, but I will let you know at that time what time frame I am working with at that time. If you are pushing a book that has to do with European royalty or within the Tudor genre, odds are your book will be pushed to the head of the bunch and I will be thrilled to accommodate your request. If you are pushing a historical romance, it may take a bit longer, but not as long as six months. Again, it depends on the book, my current review pile, and your publication date. My accepting a book from you does not infer a positive review. I rarely accept books that I don't think I would like, so we may not have a problem. But if there is, I am honest within my reviews though I am not hateful. I can also post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and LibraryThing. See my review list to see what books I have rated thus far and see the style of my reviews. I do appreciate authors who reach out to bloggers and offer their books for our enjoyment. We can easily be best friends =)
♦For the FTC::My Free Speech::♦

"If there’s an expectation that you’re going to write a positive review,” said Cleland at the FTC, “then there should be a disclosure.” Cleland's Speech
I accept books from those who expect a review. An honest review, which means a not- so- positive or even a negative one, whatever my personal opinions may be. Do not expect a positive review. I give positive reviews if the book warrants it.
I do not ENDORSE books for the publisher/author, I state my opinion which is Free Speech. I do not consider receiving books as compensation for a review; true compensation would be paying me an hourly wage for the time it takes to read a book, and write the review on the book. I do this as a hobby. This blogger is not affiliated with a specific publisher or author and does not receive monetary compensation from any of the above. I do not receive monies or books or products towards the annual cost of my domain.
I disclose in my reviews and my "Mailbox Monday" posts the source of my books. Most are bought via used bookstores, Paperbackswap; sent by a publisher or author, and some are gifted from giveaways.
I have stated before that I have set up an Amazon Affiliates store, so if you click a very specific Amazon link and actually purchase that very specific book through that link or through the storefront, then I will receive 4% of that purchase. It hasn't happened yet, but if it does, I will tell you right here. And if it does happen, that will go on my tax return as well.
Disclosing for this disclosure: I am just trying to keep the bureaucrats happy. All about disclosure.

Oct 10, 2009

The Sunday Salon~ The Week

The Sunday

Happy Sunday to everyone! I just completed Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman which is a non-fiction account of the women in Elizabeth's life. I enjoyed it, stay tuned for my review in a day or two. As an added feature, you will get a look at my thoughts as I read the book concurrently with Heather at The Maiden's Court, so you will be privy to both of our reactions at the same time. I am now going to move on to read Harriet and Isabella: A Novel by Patricia O'Brien. This is a story about the scandal that affected Harriet Beecher Stowe when her brother was caught having an affair and the family was dragged through very public court proceedings. A big departure from Tudor England reads but I am looking forward to it.

During the week I noticed all of the news regarding the FTC and their warning to bloggers. Chasing Ray, a blog run by Colleen has posted two articles there, and one is a letter from her to publishers regarding the FTC notice that is effective Dec. 1, 2009. In short, the whole thing is about the bloggers receiving products, for free, to review. We must openly state we received the item for review, but the FTC assumes we are writing positive reviews because the provider expects that in exchange for the product. I found the most informative piece at Galleycat though, complete with a picture of Richard Cleland who probably hadn't read many book blogs. All we have to do is disclose what our relationships are with publishers, or that we received the book from so and so to review. I have a little blurb in my right sidebar that explains my views. But it was nonetheless fun to see all the reactions and opinions going around. but for the most part I am pretty sure all of my fellow book bloggers have always disclosed where the source of the book was. I do not believe we have many book bloggers out there who consistently give raving reviews of books either, even though it may seem that way once someone gets to the point of choosing better authors to review in the first place. Which is where I've started to get to that stage of not coming across a bad book in a long time. Which is a good thing! Although this is a hobby, my time is precious, and I am not going to waste my time or yours giving false reviews. but I never considered myself an endorser of publishers, which is what the FTC is implying.

Has anyone seen a good flick in the theaters lately? I want to go to the movies this Tuesday, but nothing looks spectacular. Except for the kids flicks, but we get enough of that at home already and I would like a temporary departure from animation. Any suggestions?

Also, shameless plug, please see my newest Examiner article here =)

I currently have two book giveaways going on here:
The Tudor Rose, and then The Other Mr. Darcy.

Happy Sunday everyone!