Category Archives: New York

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

Naive Irish lass goes to New York and lands right in the middle of Irish political fanatics!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2013Ana Kavanagh’s only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen.
At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger–his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors–all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana’s past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow–and where to finally place his trust.

I scored an extra copy of NO SAFE HARBOR somehow.. so who wants it?
I warned you in October I’d have a subscriber-only giveaway so here it is!!
A quickie giveaway open to my MailChimp Subscribers in the USA, and I’ll choose a random winner from the most awesome comments you leave me.. must be a follower, and an email subscriber and you must leave me your Email Address. And I’d probably give preferential treatment to those who brag about this awesome review on Facebook, twitter etc. =) Thanks!!



Filed under #histnov, 19th century, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction, Elizabeth Ludwig, New York

Review: Heiress (Daughter of Fortune Book One) by Susan May Warren

Heiress (Daughter of Fortune Book One) by Susan May Warren
380 pages Paperback, Summerside Press, August 1, 2011
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
A shortened review was originally created for Historical Novels Review
Burton Book Review Rating:Four glittering stars!

They can buy anything they want—
fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.
But they can’t buy love.
The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire.
But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister
betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets
out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous
world of the New York gilded society?
What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?
Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost
them everything they love.

Set in the famously extravagant Gilded Age of New England, Heiress tells the story of Price sisters Esme and Jinx who could not be more different. Esme wishes that society protocol would allow her to work alongside her father, the publisher of the Chronicle newspaper, and Jinx wishes to be at the forefront of society’s opulent stage. Just as Esme is betrothed to Foster Worth, a man she loathes, she realizes it is Oliver who really has her heart. Yet Oliver grew up with Esme as a servant of her household, Esme’s parents forbid the lowly match and Esme’s world is turned upside down, especially since little sister Jinx believes it is herself who should wed Foster Worth.

The storyline that follows eventually shows the bonds of a family lost and found again as the narrative follows each sister’s path in separate sections. Esme is forced out of New York City and begins a new life amidst the rough ways of Montana, while Jinx becomes that pinnacle of society’s finest that she so coveted. Yet, trials and tribulations threaten both of the sister’s happiness as each realizes that being a daughter of fortune does not buy love, and that perhaps being true to oneself is the most important thing to accomplish.

Esme and Jinx’s story are embellished with a wide cast of characters who each have their own story to tell, from Oliver Stewart who manages to haunt Esme forever, to Jinx’s brother-in-law Bennett who may not be as bad as the gossip columns report. The dual story of the sisters is set in New York City’s finest mansions, and then in the dust and danger of mining country Montana as Esme pursues her dreams of being a newspaper publisher.

Heiress has a little bit of everything, from romance to mystery set in intriguing times of the past with the spiritual undertones as the sisters questioned their faith. I was surprised by some of the twists presented and found the narrative hypnotic, as I was eager to learn the fate of these two families twisting with the deceit of society. Established author Susan May Warren has another hit on her hands with this series, and I cannot wait to continue the saga of the Worth and Price families with her upcoming Daughters of Fortune novels.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational, New York, Susan May Warren

{GIVEAWAY!} Review: Incognito by Gregory Murphy

Please see the end of the review for details on how to enter for book Giveaway of Incognito!

Incognito by Gregory Murphy
Paperback, 320 pages
Berkley Trade July 5, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0425241035
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four NY Shiney Stars!

An elegant literary mystery set during the Gilded Age.
 New York City, 1911. Representing the widow of a Wall Street financier, lawyer William Dysart travels to a small Long Island town with a generous offer for Miss Sybil Curtis’s cottage and five acres of land. But when Sybil refuses to sell, the widow threatens to use her influence with the state to seize the property.
Intrigued by Sybil’s defiance and afflicted by a growing affection for her, William develops a desire to help her that becomes an obsession he cannot define, one that tears away the facade of his life, and presents him with truths he’s unprepared to face.

When I first saw this novel’s blurb I was immediately intrigued by “Gilded Age” and “Long Island”. Long Island is where I spent twenty years of my former self, and it would be exciting to be able to capture a bit of those memories and glitter it with the Gilded Age. Incognito is a quick summer read, with a bit of suspense, mystery and love all tangled up into a historical fiction novel. The dapper William Dysart finds himself in a horribly unromantic marriage but he seemingly has everything else while working as an attorney for a successful firm. In reality, he is still struggling to decipher his family’s past and the death of his mother from years ago. His father offers no answers and his wife offers no love. William becomes involved in a court battle between a high society matron and a small town girl of Long Island, and William finds himself drawn to the simplicity of this country life and the young woman, Sybil Curtis.

Along with William’s own secrets, there are quite a few to unravel to get to the heart of the issue between Sybil and the powerful Lydia Billings. Sybil has her own family mystery and is hiding a torturous secret while for some reason Lydia is willing to stop at nothing to destroy Sybil. William crosses the boundaries of professional versus personal as he becomes more and more attracted to Sybil, despite the fact that he is married to Arabella, the most beautiful woman in the city. It is quite obvious Arabella’s beauty is only skin deep, and prefers fashion, frivolity and balls as opposed to her husband.

Best quote from the book that sums up William’s thoughts on society:
“An impressive stage, he thought, on which to act out yet another of life’s foolish pageants sanctified by tradition and contrived to give meaning to the meaningless.”
While we immediately dislike Arabella, we are that much more impressed with William. Stumbling through the shadows of the past, William forces himself into the middle of the battle of property which turns into something so much more than he can handle. With threats of scandal and destroyed reputations, the novel pulled me into its clever web of deceit and treachery and I didn’t stop until I reached the last page. With a mix of elegance and evil our beloved New Yorkers were portrayed along with power, prestige and the contradictions of supposed blessings of the rich. I loved the exquisite blend of themes, with the many New York attitudes and the magnificent backdrop of Long Island, the city and all the quirks of high society as it were, once upon a time. Incognito is perfect for those looking for an absorbing novel that has much to offer within its small package, and is a fantastic debut for Gregory Murphy, who I can happily report is working on his second novel.

The publisher is offering one lucky follower of Burton Book Review their own copy of Incognito!
To enter, please comment on this review with your email address so that I may contact the winner..
This giveaway open to followers in USA and Canada, and ends on 8/12/11.

For extra +1 entries, facebook this post, tweet it, or blog it! Be sure to leave me those links. Thanks!


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Mystery, New York

Review: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Viking Adult, July 26 2011
ISBN13: 978-0670022694
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four Na Yorkah stars

A sophisticated and entertaining debut novel about an irresistible young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose.

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year- old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year’s Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Elegant and captivating, Rules of Civility turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come. A love letter to a great American city at the end of the Depression, readers will quickly fall under its spell of crisp writing, sparkling atmosphere and breathtaking revelations, as Towles evokes the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Capote, and McCarthy.

Every now and then you read a book that grabs you from page one and you can’t set it down. For this one, the first few pages were a bit iffy with me attempting to get settled into the upcoming story because the dialogue was just weird and couldn’t pinpoint who was what or who and why I was there. An evil fleeting thought even passed through urging me to set it down and move on. That cover was just mesmerizing enough to pull me in.

And like a little Energizer bunny I kept going and going and going and going and going… I felt like I had become a New Yorker all over again within these pages.. I neglected to cook dinner for the kids and opted to read instead.. I managed to take a shower.. and then I kept going and going. I finished the book at midnight fully knowing that I had to wake up for work in six hours. At 352 easy pages, I was completely immersed in the characters, and the story. Why was it so tantalizing? I can’t really put my finger on it. It was atmospheric with characters that were over the top, being lovable and hate-able all at once.

These characters were a mixture of stereotypical New Yorkers, but it was set back in the quaint year of 1938. It was a humdinger of a year for the main character, Katey, as she and her best friend Evie meet up with the dashing Theodore “Tinker” Grey and toast the town. A grand time was had by the trio until the unthinkable happens one rainy night. Everything changes for the new friends and it wasn’t all good.

The storyline focuses on Katey, Evie, and Tinker but includes a host of circles of friends who flit in and out of Katey’s life. Most of all, there was New York. I couldn’t help but to imagine my great-grandfather and the extended family living out the lives that the book exhibited in that long ago era. The narrative was descriptive in a methodically engrossing sort of way and I simply couldn’t tear myself away from it. There were several levels of the social classes at work in the story, but predominantly it was a bit more of a slice of life of the well-to-do at high society clubs like 21, Bentley autos and fancy shmancy hotel rooms. And there was Katey, watching it all, invited in, but not exactly a part of that world as she is a straight-laced hard working girl who keeps perfect time. She is in love with Tinker although we don’t really know for sure if she knows it, and she dates others and we wonder if she’ll ever see the light. But then we wonder who really is this Tinker fellow anyway.

I would be remiss if I did not mention a major pet peeve, though. The form of the novel is a bit odd, with the prologue and epilogue thing in a novel and zero quotation marks. Zero. Major complete total annoyance about the lack of the tried and true proper written format. Which is why this is not a 5 star for me. Please use proper punctuation in a book. I get it that you’re totally cool and innovative in your non-conformist ways as a debut author, but get over it. So, with the title of the book mentioning “rules” (*I used quotation marks purposely), I wonder if there is a hidden meaning here. Whatever it was I missed it. Otherwise, Tinker used George Washington’s little handbook of Rules of Civility to help fit in with high society, yet with all these polite mannerisms he lacked the sincerity of it all as it didn’t run core deep.

Despite the lack of quotation marks, Rules of Civility is purely fantastic stuff. Loved this story and if you are/were a New Yorker, or even maybe want to be, this novel really shines just for that 1930’s New Yorker feel it embraces. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, etc. And it was kind of a shame I didn’t make this one drag out a smidgen longer so that I could tote that quaint cover around a bit longer.


Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, New York

>An ode to my father

>Memories of my Father

The moonlight walks,
The late night talks,
Gazing at the stars.
The future seemed so far.

Your heart was so ambiguous,
but your love was superfluous.
Fleeting as it was then,
just as now it is haunting.

Many secrets we shared,
along with hopes and cares
Sadness and tears,
happiness and fears.

The bond will not break,
although my heart does ache.
Every day I look for you,
but I know you miss me too.

~marie burton 1:00PM 03/12/2010
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Filed under New York, Why I Blog

>GIVEAWAY! Book Review: 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan


Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 30, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0061773969
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:5 stars! Loved it!

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell?
Though there are no witnesses and no clues, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell’s house and his servants. Rumored to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor’s name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during a murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor’s seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defense attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.
Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly re-creates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, corruption, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behavior. A tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports readers to a time that eerily echoes our own.”

The first chapter of this murder novel is absolutely fantastic, smacking of an old fashioned novel steeped in intrigue and nostalgia. It was pure genius and had me hooked, as I plowed through the rest of the story which was steeping with mystery, drama and multiple intrigues. This is a novel that is based on the true story of a horrific murder in 1857, amidst Dick Tracy style policemen and the thriving city of New York. Bond Street, to be exact, was the fashionable focal point of houses for the rich and well-to-do folks of New York City.

One of the these residents was Dr. Harvey Burdell, who lived at 31 Bond Street, and Ellen Horan’s novel begins with the young errand boy, John, finding his employer the dentist Dr. Burdell brutally stabbed in his office. Dr. Burdell had a young lady, Emma Cunningham and her daughters, boarding upstairs in his house and of course all suspicion is directed at her. Emma pleas for help from the local criminal attorney, Mr. Henry Clinton, because she has been sequestered at 31 Bond Street without representation. The prosecutor is out for justice, and his fingers point to Emma.

Newspaper clipping of 31 Bond Street House
Butchery on Bond Street (source) Click Picture to enlarge

I must confess, before my passion for European historical fiction on royalty overtook my reading habits, I once could be found reading only Lawrence Block, James Patterson, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark and Anne Rule. If you enjoy those writers, you will also be enamored with this novel by Ellen Horan. Imagine my glee with this blast from my reading past, for a well honed murder mystery that is a true story, set in the state where I grew up, and where the case remains hanging in suspense as it is unsolved to this day. Ellen Horan stumbled on this story while browsing through bins in a print shop and found a clipping regarding nearby Houston Street, NYC, one thing led her to another, and we now finally have this fascinating look into a murder mystery that took place within a row of townhouses that are no longer there, replaced by the growth of retail and warehouses and parking lots. Instead of writing the intended non-fiction work on this murder mystery, Ellen Horan adapted this into a much more dramatic fictional tale. She leaves a few of the original characters in, but embellishes greatly and adds her own twists to the story. Since I had absolutely no idea about the ‘true story’ I was completely and utterly enthralled with this fictional tale as Ellen Horan spins it.

I can understand though, that those who prefer to stick close to facts when dealing with a true-crime situation, may be a little annoyed at the fictional leaps that the author takes. Since I was not looking for a realistic account of the murder at this time, this novel kept me entertained for an entire Sunday, refusing to let me sleep until I finished it. I am so glad I spent my Sunday on this, and I will spend some more time googling for more interesting twists and facts that really happened between this murder mystery involving the dentist and the widow. A classic who-dunit.. of who was the real victim, and who was the villian?

I was very impressed with the writing style of this debut author, as I was both immersed in the visual time period of 1857 that Horan vividly describes, and with the characters that Ellen Horan portrays. Doubly enticing were the backstories of slave trade and the corrupt police departments. The murder victim, Dr. Harvey Burdell, is also portrayed as being a total loser who was a womanizer and knee-deep with the aforementioned corruption which includes transporting slaves. The accused murderess, Emma Cunningham, is one where you really couldn’t tell what was going on in that warped head. Since the true murder mystery remains unsolved to this day, I have a feeling that not a lot of people could tell what was going on inside of Emma Cunningham’s head. The epilogue was quite interesting as well, but even that leaves out some of the critical factors that occurred in the case.

My absolute favorite characters were Samuel, the negro driver to Dr. Burdell, and John, the 11 year old boy who was the errand boy. But still high on that list was the defense attorney, Henry Clinton, who was portrayed as a shrewd attorney without an unethical bone in his body. The author inserts his wife within the novel, when in reality they did not marry until after the case, and it was with similar subtle changes that Ellen Horan used to make her novel her own, creating a sensational blend of murder, passion and suspense. Emma Cunningham also only has two daughters in the story, when in reality it was reported that she had five children. The crooked district attorney, Oakley Hall, was indeed crooked in real life, though (surprise!). For those wanting a strictly-the-facts type of book, there is the non-fiction work that was written in 2007 by New York City historian Benjamin Feldman titled Butchery on Bond Street – Sexual Politics and The Burdell-Cunningham Case in Ante-bellum New York, which has now caught me eye after reading this story. He also runs the blog for where the above clipping was borrowed from.

For those wanting the intriguing drama of a historically themed suspense, this work by Ellen Horan fits that bill perfectly. It was an unforgettably nostalgic journey through 31 Bond Street in New York City that I would not hesitate to recommend to fellow mystery lovers. Visit Ellen’s website regarding the book at, none other than: 31 Bond Street.

GIVEAWAY!!! I received an extra copy of an Advanced Reader’s Copy of 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan!
Lucky you!
To win this ARC comment telling me what is one of your favorite mysteries, whether it is a specific book or a case that has peaked your interest. Don’t forget to comment with your email address. I will choose randomly from those that qualify on March 27, 2010. USA only.

+2 entries: Post a graphic link to this post on your blog’s sidebar (leave me the blog’s address).
+1 entry: Tweet this post with the LINK TO THIS POST within your tweet. There is a retweet button at the top of the post for your convenience. You must leave your status link in the comments for me to verify.


Filed under Ellen Horan, New York

>Teaser Tuesday ~ The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming


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!

The Kingdom of Ohio
The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming

“Abrupty she imagines a landscape of bridges melting away underfoot and buildings changing shape, whole cities unmaking themselves as their past is rewritten. The vision of a destroyed world, populated with orphans like herself, each tormented by doubt and struggling to find a home in the alien present.” ~ page 202

See my review, below or here.

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Filed under New York, Nikola Tesla, Teaser Tuesdays

>Book Review: The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming


The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming
Hardcover: 336 pages
Science Fiction/Alternate History/Historical
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; 1st edition (December 31, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0399155604
Review copy from the Publisher
The Burton Review Rating:3.5 stars

An incredibly original, intelligent novel-a love story set against New York City at the dawn of the mechanical age, featuring Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and J. P. Morgan.

After discovering an old photograph, an elderly antiques dealer living in present-day Los Angeles is forced to revisit the history he has struggled to deny. The photograph depicts a man and a woman. The man is Peter Force, a young frontier adventurer who comes to New York City in 1901 and quickly lands a job digging the first subway tunnels beneath the metropolis. The woman is Cheri- Anne Toledo, a beautiful mathematical prodigy whose memories appear to come from another world. They meet seemingly by chance, and initially Peter dismisses her as crazy. But as they are drawn into a tangle of overlapping intrigues, Peter must reexamine Cheri-Anne’s fantastic story. Could it be that she is telling the truth and that she has stumbled onto the most dangerous secret imaginable: the key to traveling through time?

Set against the mazelike streets of New York at the dawn of the mechanical age, Peter and Cheri-Anne find themselves wrestling with the nature of history, technology, and the unfolding of time itself.

This is one of those books where a simple review like this one is not going to do it justice. And the plot! Amazing weavings of intricacies, fact and fiction, and how much to divulge here? It is such a refreshingly unique story, and so unexpected as well. It was one of those glorious times where I had to scour the Internet to find more details, and more proof.. of the lost Kingdom of Ohio. Of course I was disappointed, because it is all made up, otherwise known as an alternate history. It was so odd because of the footnotes at the bottom, the references to ‘real’ documents.. it was really quite ingenious.

Yes indeed folks.. the same time the USA was declaring their independence from England in 1776, Henri Latoledan was writing his own declaration, as an owner of his colony in Ohio, a Free Estate amid the new world.. the government decides that it would be for the greater good to obliterate the Kingdom..Was it true? It is at the heart of Cheri-Anne Toledo’s very existence, though, so we can’t just ignore it. Cheri-Anne meets Peter Force around 1901, and slowly explains her story of a portal and how she came from the royal family of The Kingdom of Ohio. Sounds simple?

Confusing and mind boggling it was.. narrated by an elderly man who is not having much success at getting to the point of the story. “What is this story about?” went through my mind for several pages. The narrator tells us his story, then comes back talking about himself and whether he opened up his antique shop that week.. then he goes back to Peter Force.
The elderly man is writing his story because “there is nothing else he can do” about Peter Force who reached New York in 1901 to work on the construction of the new subway lines, and we witness what it was like to be caught between the olden ways and the new mechanical age. Peter befriends a co-worker, Paolo, who had once helped build the recent Brooklyn Bridge. Paolo becomes invaluable when it is a race against time for Peter and Cheri.
Cheri-Anne is in search of her past, and is believed to hold pertinent knowledge as to the existence of time travel. She meets with J.P. Morgan and Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla in regards to the possibilities of time travel, even while Peter is doubtful of her origins. The building of the new subway tunnels could be a portal.. and Peter is caught in the middle. Along with the mentions of several historical figures, the author blends smidgens of romance, suspense and history into a strangely intermingling web that traps you within its story, although you still cannot make sense of the truth of reality.

And if she is rational, he tells himself, there should be some set of words that will make everything come clear. But what those words might be, he can’t begin to guess.
“But people don’t travel through time.” He shakes his head. “Have you thought maybe you’re wrong about all this? That maybe you imagined it?”
“Of course.” She looks away, wondering why his disbelief -exactly what she herself would feel in his place – still wounds her.

The novel is full of twists and turns, starts and stops, but is full of promise. It seemed to climb towards a climax but instead it simply plateaued, and sort of just hung there. It held my interest though it did not deliver completely, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I hope that this author, Matthew Flaming, writes another novel that is perhaps not so hard to keep up with, and I will definitely read his next work to see what conspiracies and webs he has woven again. Minus the many confusing multiple mysteries of plot and characters involved here, I enjoyed the way the author wrote the story, but the ending does not tie anything up and we are still left unknowing. But it kept me intrigued the whole way there.
For those readers more interested in Nikola Tesla, please see my review and spotlight post on The Invention of Everything Else, by Samantha Hunt.


Filed under 2009 in Review, 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, New York, Nikola Tesla

>Spotlight on Tesla & Book Review: ‘The Invention of Everything Else’ by Samantha Hunt


The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
Hardcover 2008, Paperback March 2009 Mariner Books
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (March 2, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0547085777
Review copy from the publisher
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Big Stars!

This January 7, 2010 marks the 67th anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s death. Tesla (July 10, 1856 – January 7, 1943) is the focus of this novel by Samantha Hunt, and I wanted to post this review close to that date in celebration of the life of Nikola Tesla.

This is one of those books that had a product description online and on the back cover that gives too much away and still doesn’t do it justice, so I shortened it here:
“From the moment Louisa first catches sight of the strange man who occupies a forbidden room on the thirty-third floor, she is determined to befriend him. Unbeknownst to Louisa, he is Nikola Tesla—inventor of AC electricity and wireless communication—and he is living out his last days at the Hotel New Yorker. Winning his attention through a shared love of pigeons, she eventually uncovers the story of Tesla’s life as a Serbian immigrant and a visionary genius: as a boy he built engines powered by June bugs, as a man he dreamed of pulling electricity from the sky.”
(‘The Invention of Everything Else was short listed for the Orange Prize 2009)

Shunned by the now modern society that Nikola Tesla helped to bring to fruition, author Samantha Hunt brings us her imagined story of Nikola’s last days that he had lived out at the Hotel New Yorker. Through Nikola’s thoughts, the novel flashes back to Nikola’s childhood, his brother, and to the point that he immigrates to America in 1884. This is a story that encompasses many themes, from love, tragedy and loss, to the power of thought and unlimited creativity.

The novel opens up to Tesla at the age of 86, and we get a feel for how the story is going to play out. The author uses flashbacks and multiple viewpoints to embrace the reader fully into the world of 1943, where hotel chambermaid Louisa meets and befriends Tesla just at a time that her father and family friend have decided to embark on a time travel experiment. Louisa is a simple character, and could have been more developed, but perhaps the character of Nikola Tesla simply eclipsed hers in this telling. I certainly felt like I knew more about Tesla from this book, and I was enthralled with the vivid imagery of New York City as the characters lived in it, along with the scenes on Long Island where Tesla had one of his last greatest experiments which failed miserably due to lack of funds and Tesla’s fall from social graces.

Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla is a Serbian-born immigrant who came to the USA to test his inventions and work with Thomas Edison. Edison promptly fails him, cheating Tesla out of a promised $50,000 (worth much more in today’s terms) in exchange for Tesla making Edison’s laboratory more efficient. This was a sad sign of things to come for Tesla, where money issues seemed to plague Tesla forever after this incident. Although J.P. Morgan did back Tesla’s experiments for a time, once Morgan learned that the invention that Tesla wanted to accomplish was free wireless electricity for all, Morgan pulled his support. Morgan had achieved a sort of monopoly by that time by reaping the benefits of the electricity revenues and he had no intention of giving it away for free.

The novel does not focus on Edison or Morgan but they needed to be mentioned so that the readers understood the reason for Tesla’s unsuccessful ventures. Tesla was successful with Westinghouse when they harnessed electricity using the power of the Niagara Falls, but this is also not covered very much except to say that Tesla tore up the contract where at that time was worth $12,000,000 in royalties. But Tesla did it for the greater good, for the power of electricity to survive and to keep Morgan from owning the company that Westinghouse and Tesla co-partnered. There were quite a few things that Tesla created, from X-Rays to the Tesla coil and robotics. There were murmurings of Tesla’s insanity as he tried to harness the unknown from outer space, and thus he was immediately discredited as talking to Mars. The “Teslascope” was the invention in progress of Tesla’s that he wanted to be his greatest yet, but in the world’s eyes at the time of 1901 he was effectively becoming a quack. It was a secret experiment, and to this day is still a mystery to the modern man for what Tesla was trying to accomplish by communicating with Mars. The novel also touches on the Death Ray, also known as the peace beam, which Tesla seemingly wanted to use to end warfare, and that the F.B.I. were spying on him for this and other information. The USSR had paid Tesla $25,000 in 1939 after testing the first stage of the Death Ray.

As you can see from my ramblings, the author successfully intrigued me with Tesla’s life and his inventions, and she cleverly added the character of Louisa to dramatize and humanize Tesla outside of his professional endeavors. Tesla’s meandering thoughts were inspiring and insightful; Louisa’s life was an intriguing storyline herself where her father, Walter, has raised Louisa by himself thus creating a very strong father-daughter bond. Louisa meets Arthur Vaughn who amazingly does not bolt when he witnesses many of the crazy things that is happening around Louisa due to Tesla. Another endearing topic is that Louisa and Tesla both share a love for pigeons, and this shared trait is what helps Louisa and Tesla become more acquainted with one another. The novel includes telling quotes at the beginning of each chapter by J.P. Morgan, Tesla, Mark Twain and others. The story ends with a loss, but with a sense of rebirth and renewal and perhaps a greater understanding for the need for human companionship.

Once I started this novel, I seriously could not put it down and I read the last 3/4 of the book in one sitting. A minor drawback is that this is not a long book and it had room for much more. It does not drag at all within the plot, as we leaped from the present to past and back again, but this was done in such a cohesive way that it enthralled me. I enjoyed the mentions of other people such as J.P. Morgan, George Westinghouse, Mark Twain and the conspiratorial F.B.I. When it was the eccentric Tesla’s turn in the story there were times when he confused me; his thoughts were indeed very meandering and perhaps a bit tedious. I think it helped to show Tesla how he really may have been, and how he saw the inner mechanics of everything he came across. This book is an absolute must-read for those slightly interested in Tesla, who is the reason for the electricity currents we utilize today, and the added romance and intrigue make this a fabulous fictional account of a man who was misunderstood and mistreated. There is so much more to learn about and from Tesla, that this will not be my last book concerning him.

In later years, long after his death, the Hotel New Yorker commemorated Tesla by installing a plaque in his honor, although the Moonies who had temporarily owned the hotel had refused to put the plaque up for a number of years. The plaque was not installed at The Hotel New Yorker until it came under new ownership in 2001, although it was created in 1977 for America’s Bicentennial. From the Tesla Society, it writes that “Many famous people visited and lived in Hotel New Yorker, among them are Edward Hoover, Muhammad Ali, John Kennedy and others.” Tesla had spent the last ten years of his life at The Hotel New Yorker, and his room at #3327 is the focal point as far as setting with the Hotel is concerned in Hunt’s novel.

The mention of the old laboratory in Shoreham, Long Island, then the Wardenclyffe World Wireless Telecommunications Station to Tesla, intrigued me very much because I grew up on Long Island and never heard of the site and Tesla’s wireless ambition that enveloped him here. In fact, I don’t even recall learning anything at all about Tesla in my studies. Why was that? Why was Edison the one who was so celebrated because of a light bulb? And I just found this article from 12/18/2009 that a plaque on this old Tesla laboratory was stolen from its brick building and has been missing for two months now. What a tragedy it is that still, after we supposedly realize the contributions that Tesla had made, that he is still being mistreated in America. The Wardenclyffe site with a huge tower had to be sold by Tesla to pay his debts to the Waldorf hotel, and now stands empty and vandalized, and sadly, for sale. The owners will level it for the buyers if need be.

It is amazing, and telling, that after years of progress and technological advances, that we still count on Tesla’s alternating current to this day for our electricity needs. And yet, the very things associated with Tesla, such as his old lab, and plaques, are still shunned to this day. I thank Samantha Hunt for writing this amazing book and opening my eyes to the life of Nikola Tesla which needs to be celebrated.

Another book that I recently read which mentions Tesla is The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming. Although completely different stories in nature, the mechanical age is the common thread between these two novels and I recommend both of them for fans of Tesla. My review of The Kingdom of Ohio is completed, and can be found here.

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Filed under 2010 Review, New York, Nikola Tesla, Orange Prize Shortlist, Review

>The Sunday Salon: Happy Father’s Day


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

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

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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

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

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under New York, The Sunday Salon