Category Archives: Why I Blog

Life in the fast lane

the 2013 version of Big Tex!

Hey fellow readers! Can I really say that any longer? WHY YES.. I am still reading, but just not caught up too much in the whole review biz thing, thank the Lord! After a full year of stressing the fact that I am no longer accepting review copies, it has finally come to fruition where I am not a slave to that despicable review schedule. Of course, there are a few goodies that I have the time to slip in, so you will see a few posts here and there that are “blog tour” type posts, but those will be just a few along the way.

I do miss chatting with all my fellow bloggy buddies, so I wanted to touch base and let you all know what’s been going on in my life. I do hope you are all just peachy, and that life is treating you well!

Pretty much the last few months have been a whirlwind, and for those followers who have been with me since 2008/2009 you will know that I used to be able to read and review like lightning. Then I got burnt out, and bloggy type drama turned me off the whole thing and so I stepped away and focused on things that made me happy – enjoying time with the family, doing nothing. Greatness! Well, we did meander out to the State Fair of Texas a few weeks ago… the fried kit kat was kinda of a once in a lifetime experience I don’t want to go through again. And now both of my kiddos are a Scout of some sort, so that means meetings meetings meetings fund raising stick a fork in me…

Of course, my career path changed so that I am no longer watching the crows outside the office windows — I have no windows in my new ‘office’ (where I sit among a bunch of cubicles in the finance office of my local school district) and I am now doing the exact opposite of what I used to be doing: bouncing off the walls of busy busy busy but now I am happy happy happy. (Yes, I have caught on to the Duck Dynasty craze, a season or two later). I am even going to conferences and all that fun stuff, and I get weeks and weeks off, bwahahahaha…(no joke!!)

So while I was out changing my life, I bought a fast car. I do love the darling thing, and now I kinda kick myself for living two to three minutes from my office. Sometimes I do have to take the top down and drive the long way home. Tack on an extra mile or so as I cruise down Highway 66 with my hair whipping my face making a fool out of my forty year old self.
But you only live once.

2013 Mustang Club of America edition V6 Premium convertible with saddle leather seats, thank you very much! = my unicorn.

As you can see, I’ve also been eating and drinking a lot. You heard me. But heck, for the first half of my life I’ve been a thin thing, so now the last half (Lord willing) I am really just going to enjoy myself, alcoholic beverages and all.

I think maybe in a month or so I will be back to reading a bit more since I will have a full three weeks off to recover from major surgery around Thanksgiving time. Yes, that horrible surgery that many women end up having to get. I’m one of the lucky ones due to a plethora of problems — and I am so freaking looking forward to it because I am so sick of feeling like a pile of ouch. My eleven year old daughter will be my slave as I recover, and yea, I am milking it for the full three weeks. Then I go back to work for a week to see what drama occurred while I was away, and then I will take another two weeks off at Christmas time. It will certainly be a different holiday season! But I have slated three review titles to keep myself busy while I milk it recover- here’s hoping that I can coin a sentence together intelligently at that point.

While I still enjoy reading, I have found that I have completely lost the mojo to review. I kinda hate doing that. It’s a lot like homework. So I apologize in advance for the missing wow factor in my upcoming reviews, but heck, I think I’ve earned myself a break after the three hundred reviews I’ve posted for you here.

I did read a heckuva great story this past week that really floored me. It was Return to Me by Lynn Austin, and if you are interested in biblical retellings this is the one to get. LOVED IT. And with that, I am off to go see what is available for cheap by Lynn Austin. I know I have her much acclaimed Gods and Kings novel but I need to figure out which book goes with what series etc.

Happy reading folks, and see you next week with my Return To Me review! Peace and blessings — and good health!

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FTC Dot Com Guidelines

This was not made for book bloggers – this was made for Advertisers. Are book bloggers advertisers? I certainly feel like I am a review robot, so in a sense, I feel like I am marketing a book when I am participating in blog tours etc.
This is not to cause pandemonium as it has said to have done on twitter. WOW, go me, if it has. Here is an updated post I created as a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT


Back in March 2013 (where was I?) those pesky fellows at the FTC created a new PDF outlining the use of Social Media tactics and links etc for those of us who review. Basically, not only do we have to increase the font of our fine print for disclosures (as in those who have them at the bottom of their posts) this does not suffice the requirements for the FTC. And having a button somewhere on your site to your disclosure aka policy doesn’t work either. You must be upfront (meaning at the top of your post) and state where you received the item from to distinguish if you were compensated for the post in any way (coupons, virtual points redeemable for something in the future, galleys, ARCs) and it must be “clear and conspicuous” before we get to “distracting” hyperlinks or gimmicks.

Most importantly, it wants that source to be stated BEFORE any links to “buy here” are able to be clicked. The FTC also specifically stated that NO SCROLLING should be required when a viewer is looking at your reviewed product, your readers must be able to see within that screen that you have received that item for free. They also went into affiliate marketing and how to handle those links *bangs head on desk*, but since I do not do that I didn’t read too much about that quagmire.

Many book bloggers like myself already state fairly close to/underneath the book’s image and information where the review book came from. So the true revelations in 2013 Guidelines aren’t too bad – until you get to the way you tweet, facebook, Google Plus about the books you have read and reviewed. *bangs head on desk*

These social media posts/tweets which state anything positive in nature about an item you have received for free must also include in the beginning of that status update/tweet the ‘Ad’ or ‘Sponsor’ notation. That twitter follower of yours MUST understand before they click your link that you are marketing an item that you have been compensated for in some way, either via the ARC, galley, or perhaps an exclusive spot on a review list.*bangs head on desk*

As I discussed this on facebook, most bloggers were perturbed *as am I*, but then again most also felt that the FTC wouldn’t target THEM in particular, we’re the little guy, etc and so why should I care so much? It’s not like the book bloggers are similar to the product review bloggers such as Mommy Bloggers, who seem to get free makeup, toys, strollers, kitchenware etc. Why go after book bloggers?

I care because these are Rules. There is a social etiquette being put in place, and as much as I despise the government getting in the way of our personal blogging, if one person feels compelled to follow the law, I feel others should, too. Those who break the rules get an unfair advantage, so to speak. That’s my current opinion, and as a blogger I’m entitled to it. But then again, I wonder, is this FTC Dot Com Guideline thing an actual LAW? Yes, it states that it is, and that it covers virtually every sector in the economy. If we fail to follow the guidelines, the FTC will find ways to enforce it: “the Commission might bring an enforcement action alleging an unfair or deceptive practice in violation of the FTC Act”.

But it also went into how this applies to endorsing a product… which means positive reviews.. so if it’s a somewhat critical negative review, then I guess that means we can ignore all these little rules..
Which opens up a whole other can of worms into what star rating would officially mean somewhat not positive, bwahahaha!!
“Three stars is good!”
“No way, that’s a low rating in my opinion!”
“That means it was just okay, so is that good or bad?
*bangs head on desk*”
“What about 3.5 stars?”
*bangs head on desk*

Ouch.
And what about the flurry of BEST OF 2013 posts we will see at the end of the year? Doesn’t that IMPLY in itself a positive reaction to a book? And what if one of those books on the list was a review title? All our tweets and FB posts have to say “AD: Best of 2013 at BBR!”  or even snazzier: “Sponsored: Best of 2013 at BBR!” *bangs head on desk*

Another tricky question, for those sites who are virtual tour companies, blogging for books type campaigns or review sites such as HNS or even Kirkus Reviews etc.: Shouldn’t those companies also be showing the word AD everywhere when they repeat a positive line from a review? Why is the FTC targeting the specific blogger, and not starting at the top and making the publicity companies comply first? Why does the little person have to be the one to do everything? But the Canadian bloggers were thrilled to not have to be subject to the FTC regulations. Canada is looking better and better every day! Je m’appelle Marie, et vous?

*gets ice pack and Excedrin.*

Edit to add: I was not compensated for this review of the Guidelines in any way. Do comments on my blog count as compensation?

Edit to add: I am not a lawyer and this is merely a raving lunatic editorial/opinion post .


Edit to Add: Again this is all interpretation. Would love a specific guide on what the FTC means to address towards book blogging. You can carry on as you will. =)

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It’s a Wrap! Watch out 2013, here I come!

I recently published my Best of 2012 Picks, and I was starting to go off on a tangent with what I expected from 2013 based on 2012, so I figured I may as well do a new post and go all out insane with it. To wrap it up, 2012 was a good year for me reading wise. I was able to cut down considerably on the review requests as I updated my review policy and made sure potential requesters knew I would not be honoring their requests in the not so shortest/nicest/normal sort of way.

At first, my review policy was worded in that professional blogger politically correct polite way and asked authors to consider if their book really fit in with what I reviewed, but that seemed too much to ask. And then I told them I probably would not respond to their request ever, yet I still got lots of out-of-my-league requests. So then, after a long hard day and seeing some blogger type of drama full force, I got uppity and explained all sorts of crap I’d seen going on in the blogosphere and I basically said I hate you all, so go away.. lol.. and that worked!! No more cold call type of requests cuz I was such a brat.

{maybe I was a good girl…}

This way, I was able to pick and choose from the publicity groups that I knew I would be most interested in at the time. (LitFuse is awesome for Christian historical!) I had started this selective policy in 2011 but it didn’t finally take hold until mid 2012 when I posted my ranting review ‘policy’ where I said you need to pay me to review your book. (Changing my contact page and turning that into another rant was also a great deterrent!). It just got to a point where I started feeling like reviewing books became a headache, a chore, and my life was centered around what book I was ‘supposed’ to read next. This is not fun, folks. Sounds like a job rather than a hobby, right? And then when you see fellow bloggers getting bashed for their reviews, it just goes beyond the pale for me and my witchy ways come out in defense of the lowly book blogger like me.

Being that lowly book blogger, I published 81 reviews during the calendar year of 2012. I separate out my reviews by sub-genre so that you can easily locate what floats your boat, and I post my rating next to the titles so you can find the true goodies. Find that master list of reviews here.This is linked to that button called Reviews in the top right corner under the header.

I did see that definite increase in Christian Historicals this year as predicted, as I moved away from the standard Tudor fare that used to populate the blog. Even though I did read a few of the Tudor and Wars of the Roses era, I have really had enough of the same old stories and I look forward to 2013 to be able to show me what made me fell in love with historical fiction in the first place. I have signed up for a TBR Pile Challenge for 2013, where I have picked some of the books that have been waiting for me for at least a year. I hope I get to complete that challenge, there are some goodies on that list- like Jean Plaidy, Geraldine Brooks and Daphne DuMaurier!

For 2012, I beat my Goodreads challenge goal of 50 books fairly easy so I increased it to 75 and I recently beat the 75 books goal as well.

Since 2012 isn’t over, these numbers are only for mid December but are still a pretty good idea of where I’ll end up at the end of the year, and a good comparison from last year to this year.

Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge:

Last year (2011) I had only read 51 books, so I am happy to have surpassed that by a great deal. You can check out my master reviews list to find all the books reviewed per year. And if you are my friend on goodreads you can click the challenge link and check it out directly on Goodreads.

2012: 78 books read, 30,049 pages read
2011: 51 books read, 19,753 pages read

I like looking at the page counts much more than the number of books, especially when there are now so many novellas and more young adult books out there. The page count feature gives me a better gauge of what I’ve really read, since I know that there are some books I read were right around 300 pages and there was one young adult read in there as well.

For 2013, while also reading various historicals, I am going to spend the first half of the year studying the bible. I hope to conclude it in May 2013, and then go back and re-read my favorite parts, starting with Genesis! So while for 2012 my current bible reading is not reflected in those Goodreads challenge totals above, if I finish that bible in 2013 I’ll get to add 2300 pages to the 2013 totals, yeehaw!

And since the version of the bible I am reading is 2300 pages, giving myself a goal of 50 books is enough for 2013. If I happen to find time to increase the challenge by the time summer is over, I will, but I think 50 at this time is enough of a challenge for me. I remember thinking that I would read tons of books by the pool this past summer of 2012, but nope that was a pipe dream and I am reminding myself to not fall for that trap again.

I also want to finish the books that I have not been able to finish this year- Wolf Hall I’m looking at YOU you horrid thing… (I cannot understand why I do not love it as so many others have, but as I said, I am ready to set fire to all things Tudor related and roast marshmallows and have hot chocolate at the same time).

I’ll be reading the books on the TBR Challenge Stack, and maybe not quite so many Christian historicals but more of a mix of biblical, Christian historical, American historical, British historical and even some of the more popular literary fiction to get my juices flowing. Titles such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan are now on my radar, which in the last four years would not have been there. After loving the young adult genre release titled Code Name Verity, I am learning that just because people have gushed about it doesn’t mean I have to ignore it. (But  then I look at Wolf Hall and all the lovers of that book, and I scratch my head). I look forward to 2013 with an open mind and to the changes I foresee in my reading tastes!

Finally, this year I can stop reading every new release that catches my eye, and feed off of my own collection of books that I have been stockpiling for years. I have finally cut the leash to the Must Review On This Date and I will be very selective in the review reads and pick only favorites, so that I force myself to read my own dusty books. My four year blogging anniversary is in a week or so, and that’s how long I’ve been neglecting my books. Out with the NEW and in with the OLD! (Must ignore the blog posts from my fellow bloggers that tout the beautiful covers of new releases).

I also want to read Charles Dickens, where should I begin? I loved the Masterpiece Special on Great Expectations, but I have A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield (which I think I read twenty-plus years ago). On the TBR Pile I chose a book by Gaynor Arnold which is loosely related to Dickens. And you know how Jean Plaidy has other pseudonyms? (who is Jean Plaidy, you ask? Go HERE). She has a Daughters of England series under Philippa Carr that I have ALL twenty of the books.. so who wants to read along with me? I went ahead and put book one on the 2013 TBR Pile list so I know I’ll get to it sooner rather than later.

Oh wait… I suck at read alongs, so forget I mentioned it. One thing I learned in 2012 is that I either read ahead of the “group” (using the term loosely) or no one is there to participate (zero comments on my Here Be Dragons discussion posts). And then there was that mysterious case of  the much applauded Wolf Hall which I attempted to read along and it was I who had to give up. And then there was the one where I masterminded a fantastic read along for another much applauded author and they didn’t even thank me for all that publicity or my review… I’ll stop now ….

NO MORE READ ALONGS… oh, and no more acting like a publicity person for authors, no matter how much I love them or hate them.. No more of this professional book blogger term that I’ve seen thrown about.. 2013 will be about me, hopefully reading lots from already dead authors (I had to reword this horrible sentence so it didn’t sound like I was wishing death on still living authors), and reading what I want, when I want.. and the bible. I look forward to more blog hopping and developing relationships with fellow bloggers if they’ll have me, and less critically thinking or politically correct reviews and more just plain old winging it for the love of the book and much less for the hope of being quoted. Don’t you hate it when you read reviews and you’re like, damn they TOTALLY put that whole sentence in there cuz THAT’s the one the agents will want to use as a blurb..

Hats off to a great 2012, and it is with eagerness that I await 2013 as I peruse my personal library of many reads to choose from!

Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a FANTASTIC Book filled New Year!

*This post was written before the 12/14/2012 Tragedy, as I was really composing most of my thoughts on the Best of 2012 List but decided to create a new home for it and space out my posts…..

Similar to how all of you feel, everything seems so stupid, lame and trivial compared to the grief that is really going on around the country this holiday season. Words cannot express our fears for our children, our future, our country, our livelihoods… Somehow, we will persevere. Somehow. Despite the heavy losses we feel, I still wish the best for everyone’s holiday celebrations, perhaps hug everyone a little bit tighter. Forever in our hearts are the victims, and just like 9-11, we will never forget. Blessings and continued prayers to Connecticut.

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Filed under 2013 Reading Challenge, Why I Blog

Goals | Bloggiesta Style Maintenance

It’s bloggiesta time, and I haven’t done one since 2009. I am lucky that I have had time to keep up with general maintenance type things for my blog while at the office, so things that I had to do as spring cleaning for the blog was Email clean up, make sure all my reviews are linked on the Master list, and research the possible demise of Feedburner.

I wanted to do the bloggiesta posts and follow along but when you have a 10 year old and a 5 year old to entertain, that comes first in my life. (We saw Hotel Transylvania!).. played Wii this rainy Saturday, etc. I normally do not get anything done computer-wise on the computer during the weekends because of the crazy kiddos anyway.

In the spirit of bloggiesta, I wanted to take the chance to post some of my reading ‘stats’, and see where I am as far as my goals for 2012. I also wanted to make sure EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS get my announcement below.

Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge:
I have read 64 of my goal of 65 books as of September 29!!
Last year I had only read 51 books, so I am happy to have already surpassed that. Ah, but how many of those were children’s books or young adult etc.. Well, I can tell you the page count to really gauge what I’ve done:
2012: 24,431 pages (*so far!)
2011: 19,748 pages

You can check out my master reviews list to find all the books reviewed per year. And if you are my friend on goodreads you can click the challenge link and check it out directly on Goodreads.

Reviews Posted:
(Of the year 2009 published Qty. #64)
(Of the year
2010, published Qty. #62)
(Of the year 2011, published to date: Qty. #43)
(Of the year 2012, published to date: Qty #66)

What am I looking to accomplish for the rest of 2012?
No more teachers, no more books!!!! (Alice Cooper style)

Really really need to stop accepting books. Totally need to finish up two books that are read halfway and be able to finish them in 2012 so that I can add those to my count and move on. (I’m looking at you, Wolf Hall). I am not sure I can ever read another book about Anne Boleyn’s downfall ever again. How many times can we rehash those events, people? For the love of GOD stop writing about Henry VIII and his wives. (Had to get that off my chest, sorry).

I am desperate to start 2013 with a clean review slate, in order to do that I need to ignore every book that is coming out in the fourth quarter. I must get caught up with the ARC’s and the other books that I really really want to read that I’ve had on my shelves for eons. Such a book that has been a dust collector is Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman and the read along was born at HF-Connection, starting soon.

2013 Goal:
Now that I have a fabulous iPad it is so easy to score books off NetGalley. I need to stop visiting that candy store however. 2013 needs less review/ARC books, and more enriching relationships with bloggers as opposed to relationships with authors. Use ‘blog for book’ type programs to obtain only really coveted titles, but to not have a direct relationship with that author. I have always felt that being buddy buddy with many authors gets tricky when you are reviewing their work, especially if you would normally write a three star review of that work but feel obligated to ignore short comings because of whatever online relationship you have. I have been moving away from this relationship throughout 2012, and I want 2013 to focus more on authors who are not socially active online. I want to read some of the books that I’ve been collecting for the last 4 years that have taken over the house.

2013 To Read Pile: (*to name a few) 
Katherine by Anya Seton
Legacy by Susan Kay
Glastonbury by Donna Fletcher Crow
The older Elizabeth Chadwick titles
Gilbert Morris, Julie Lessman and Julie Klassen titles
Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy and Jane Austen

I may as well stop here, since the end of the world is coming in December 2012, so this whole exercise was for naught anyway.

VERY IMPORTANT:
I also recently learned that Google Feedburner is ending October 20, 2012. Everyone who gets an email notice of a new post from me will soon no longer get that email. Feedburner was a free automatic service, and there are alternatives that seem to be mostly paid services. As much as I love to have you as a subscriber, I already pay for the use of a custom domain, and that is pretty much all I am willing to spend. Currently I have over 80 email subscribers, and with that rate it would cost me an additional $60+ a year if I chose FeedBlitz. Sounds small, but I just don’t feel I can justify the expense to my husband, especially when I wonder how many of the subscribers are just irritated at some point by the emails =). MailChimp is a free option, but it’s pretty much free up to a point and it’s just not worth the hassle.

So when you stop getting my emails in a month, I sure hope you will return to my blog and see what you’ve missed. If feedburner magically stays after the October 20 closing date, then you will still get the emails. I will not deactivate the service until it deactivates by itself.

This sort of scares the crap out of me, cuz soon enough what if Google decides to do away with blogspot?! Perhaps I ought to prepare myself for that scary thought… of losing my hundreds of reviews. Egads.


To help ensure you don’t miss me altogether, please make sure you Follow Burton Book Review on google connect, and follow on facebook. That will help you keep in touch, otherwise I suggest creating a weekly reminder on your calendar of choice to come check out the blog!

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Sunday Salon: Drowning in Books/Embracing the Blogosphere (Swap List!)

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Hello blogosphere! (It’s been two years since I’ve done a Sunday Salon. There’s a lot to catch up on!)

What a month it has been! SO many changes.. so many mini and mega dramas have been going on in the blogosphere that I have decided to step away quietly and make a firm decision to curtail the ‘review’ requests etc that have become a major part of my life. When I began the blog in late 2008 it was because I wanted to share my thoughts on my new love of British history related books. My father had just passed away suddenly and I needed a hobby fast to get my mind otherwise occupied.

I loved blogging.. and I met some fellow like-minded historical fiction fans and things were awesome for a while. Soon enough there was a Drama Mama everywhere I went and I stopped the social aspect but continued reviewing as my love for reading never stopped. Then the review schedule took my life OVER. EVERYTHING in my free time was (still is) balanced against the publication schedule of my review books. The review books have piled up. They have mocked me. They have given me nightmares (almost).

I mean, really, this is horrible. Seriously.

I have not even read Penman’s latest. (*And I got the ARC way before pub date. And it sits.) WTF is wrong with me, right?

Turns out there is more to life than the Plantagenets and the Tudors, and I have been happily reviewing Christian historical fiction as well. So that means there are EVEN MORE books *I MUST* read. (Someone slap me!)

Which means once again, I overextend myself, and take on more than I can handle. This has been going on for the longest three years of my life. And as my 2012 Updated Review policy states, I am so sick of it. Of my schedule, the reviews, the pesky dramas, the misguided world..etc.

Longest story short (impossible).. it is with a clean conscience that I am stepping back from review requests and I cannot wait to get to my massive pile of accumulated books that the blogosphere has recommended to me over the last three years. I am back, and as a blogger. Out with the reviewer status, and happily embracing the blogger status. I am going to read and review still… but I am not going to be active out there feeling like some robotic tool for various publishers and authors. I am not going to be any one’s free marketer any longer. And I am not going to be mean and snarky, I will just be honest, and if that’s snarky, awesomeapplesauce cuz I don’t care. There are still commitments that I have personally made to review certain books at certain times in the next few months. I will still honor those if I can, but I am gleefully ignoring all further requests till I get that stack done and over with and then will continue to ignore requests because I am going to be on Goodreads and Facebook and booktalking with bloggers instead of being a book marketer. So get used to me, cuz I’m joining in on your fun too! Read alongs! Yes!

Since it’s the end of the month I figured I would share my reading stats. Maybe I’ll do that every month like a Monthly wrap up post.

According to my fave bookish site, Goodreads:
I’ve read 48 Book this year so far, with a total 17,803 pages.
For 2011, my year’s total was 52 books and 20,084 pages.. so I think I can manage to knock those numbers out of the park this year, eh?

Some great books I have read so far in 2012. The majority were 4 stars, with 14 being 3 stars and 9 being 5 stars. As you can tell, as long as it keeps me happy and reading, I give it a pretty good rating. It doesn’t take much. I do wish Goodreads would implement the .5 star rating though, since I use those in my review ratings and would probably skew things a little more critically for me. But no biggie.
And now to the good stuff…

The other reason I am here.. is to swap with you!
Do you have four million ARC’s that you don’t know what to do with? I do! Ok, I am exaggerating, but I am seriously running out of room in my 3200 square foot house. Yea, it’s freaking horrible. I even have books in the warehouse that I would like to unpack someday. That’s where the title of this blog post comes in.. drowning in books. Out with the old, in with the new!

This week I saw at Katie’s Christian Fiction blog that she hosts a monthly bookswap. Since I don’t have a lot of that genre that I want to give up, I decided to post my own books that I am willing to trade for (after I happily snagged 4 books from the swap at Katie’s). I do want more of that genre in my library, but I just didn’t have enough to offer her readers to logically post my list on her site. So, I’ll do it here.

Here is Katie’s swap post at A Legacy of A Writer which I totally stole the idea from (with permission). If you like Christian Fiction, CHECK THIS POST OUT! 

What I have to trade (most of these you can find in my Master Review List unless it was a Historical Novel Society Review to be posted later):

Christian Non-fiction:
I Love You to God and Back by Amanda Lamb (used paperback)

Christian Fiction:
Bees in The Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang (used ARC)
Need You Now by Beth Wiseman (used PB) contemporary

Tudor-ish:
In A Treacherous Court by Michele Diener (new pb)
At The Kings Pleasure by Kate Emerson (book #4, these are stand alone; this is a new pb copy)
The King’s Damsel by Kate Emerson (book #5, signed, used ARC)
Pale Rose of England by Sandra Worth (used ARC)
Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (used ARC)

Other Royal-related:
Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith (used ARC)
For the King by Catherine Delors (used ARC, one that came bound with that black tape)

Confessions of Catherine de Medici by CW Gortner (used ARC)

Royal Non-fiction:
Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll (older ARC & has a little stain on cover even though I never read it)
Sister Queens by Julia Fox (good non fiction if you are interested in these two Queens; Used ARC)

Austenesque/Regency:
Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange (small book, an ARC)
Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell (used ARC)
A Darcy Christmas by Grange/Lathan/Eberhart (used ARC)

Historical Romance:
The Wildest Heart by Rosemary Rogers (used ARC, this is 736 pages and a LOT of fun)

Historical Fiction:
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (used ARC)
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan (used ARC)
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran (used ARC)
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (used pb)
The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman (used ARC)
A Parliament of Spies by Cassandra Clark (used ARC)
Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock (used pb)
Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach (used ARC, she wrote on it, put my name etc)

General Literature/Women’s Fic:
This Must Be The Place by Kate Racculia (used ARC)
Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows (used ARC)
The Darlings by Christina Alger (used ARC)
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (used pb)

Others: (no reviews, I haven’t read and won’t get to these this lifetime)
The Land of Painted Caves by Auel (ARC)
The First Assassin by John J Miller (ARC)
Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones (ARC)

If you are interested in any of these books and have something you would like to offer in trade, you can either email me, or comment on the post. I can reply via comments as well for initial questions or offers.

There are many different books I would be interested in, so I am not going to post a wish list & further expand this humongous blog post. To get an idea of things that are on my wish list, see my Goodreads wish-list shelf, My Very Old Amazon Wish List, or my paperbackswap wish list. Or, just show me what you’ve got! (*USA only, please).

Even if you do not see something here that you like, please feel free to also post a swap list of items you have (w/Email addy) so others can contact you, or link to a post of your own if you would like to do it that way. My thanks to Katie for letting me snag this swap idea.

If I happen to have Historical books left over I will be offering some as part of the Partial to the Past Blog Hop Giveaway that Holly is hosting at Bippity Boppity Book on August 24. See you there?

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Armchair BEA discussing Networking

Armchair BEA

“For Day 3, we want you to share your positive experiences of using your blog to get involved in your community.  This can involve partnerships with the local literary scene, attending author events and signings, or getting together with bloggers in your area.  We want to hear it all!”

I don’t have a positive experience, but I didn’t want to ignore this post because of that, that wouldn’t be fair.
So consider this a Public Service Announcement to potential authors or even bookstore owners or librarians who work with the humble blogger.

Here’s my experience:
Once upon a time, in August of 2009, I was really into the blogging aspect of  my little book blog. Nowadays, I have simply been immersed in my review schedule rather than thinking of ways to network outside the norm. Working full-time, raising two kids, (youngest is starting Kindergarten in August!!), reviewing for the Historical Novel Society all has me pretty busy. When am I supposed to cook and do laundry?

So, networking in the community has been zilch.

But.. I tried. I really tried. I really feel like I went over, above and beyond to feature a local author in my little area of Texas. I recorded a speech she did at our local library, and I uploaded it to my blog in three separate posts. “So You Wanna Get Published” part one, two and three.

She spoke of her Publishing, Writing and Marketing Journey, a fabulous tool for newbie writers. And she promoted the workshops that she spearheaded and charged money for, etc. And I recorded all her person advertisements and uploaded it to my blog, free of charge for her.

I feel like I spent a lot of time on this series, and I felt like it was an awesome promotion opportunity for the author. I stayed up late trying to get the posts just right.. you get the point.

I worked hard on it.

And I barely got a thank you from the author.

And this author is very very very very socially online. So she had lots of opportunity to add a link here and there to the videos I created of HER. To the posts I did spotlighting HER. And nothing, zilch, zero, slap in my face.

Once bitten twice shy, they say.

And well, now the videos wherever I uploaded them to are gone off into cyberspace never to be seen again. Because they were too big to go to YouTube, they were long videos and I didn’t want to have to separate out the posts into a zillion little videos, and I used a now obsolete service. At this point, I see YouTube would have been the way to go. Live and learn.

As you can see, three years later, it still hurts that I didn’t get the recognition I felt I deserved for the free promotion for this author. So, if you are an author faced with an opportunity to work with a blogger who is promoting your image for free, please be nice and say thank you. And ya know, a free book would be nice, too. (We see you have piles of them there on the table as we record you.)

Speaking of FREEE BOOOKSSSS .. YES! Please see my giveaway post, because I am giving away tons of them. Hurry, because it is an Armchair BEA Giveaway, and ends soon!

And hey, bloggers… Thank you. You’re awesome. Keep up the good work.

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Armchair BEA~ Introductions First ~ Day 1

It’s Day One of the Getting to the other Bloggers participating in Armchair BEA.. and I welcome newcomers to my home on the web!

Instead of interviews this year, we answer a few questions about us with a networking blog hop.

Pasted from the main site:
“All we ask is that you answer five of them and spend the rest of the time meeting others. After all, getting to know one another is the most important part of this process! Here are the possible questions:

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
  2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
  3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
  4. What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?
  5. Where do you see your blog in five years?
  6. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
  7. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
  8. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?
  9. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?
  10. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?”

1.  ABOUT ME
Hello! I’m married with two kiddos and I work full-time. In my precious spare time I love to read, of course! I read historical fiction and it’s sub-genres such as Christian Historical Fiction. I review for the Historical Novel Society but my main goal is to get caught up with review books so that I can read some of the books I’ve collected over the past almost four years of blogging/reviewing.

2. FAVE BOOK OF 2012
I have read some fabulous books so far! Sneak peeks of my Best of 2012 list would include The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (upstairs/downstairs/Austen-feel) and Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick (an unexpected fabulous story of a woman, family, faith, and flowers). A surprise favorite would be Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

5. BLOG IN 5 YEARS?
At the currrent pace, I would guess that my blog in five years would be linked to about 500 of my historical book reviews!! I have about 198 right now, a master list of them linked to the reviews can be found here. I would still see myself still reading primarily historical fiction, but perhaps with a bit more Christian Historical than what I started with. I have wanted to branch out of England a bit and read more French Revolution and American Revolution reads, we’ll see if I can make that happen.

8. LITERARY LOCATION
I read a lot of historical fiction set in England. The Wars of the Roses with the Plantagenets who came before Henry VIII (The Tudors) are one of my favorite topics, as well as the Medieval Era. I would love to go on a literary tour that followed along some of the important families of British history, such as the Nevilles, the Beauforts and Montforts; and of course Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. A summer abroad researching all these families sounds like heaven.

9. FAVE PART OF BLOGGING & CHANGES
I love how bloggers are not afraid of speaking their opinions, and they do it in the nicest of ways! (Most of them, anyway, I’ll ignore the trolls for now). The community of bloggers is vast among the different genres, and I love taking a peek inside some of the young adult reviewers’ communities because they have so much enthusiasm. There are so many bloggers out there, and I cannot keep up as much as I would like to since I have limited free time. It is so different than what it was four years ago, though, with the ease of creating blogs there are quite a few book bloggers now.
And now with Twitter and Facebook, it is so much easier to connect with author and publishers, in ways that I never thought possible.

Another fave part of blogging are the guest posts or interviews that I get to do with favorite authors. Those are a lot of fun to do when it is about a historical topic that I am passionate about.

As far as changes go, I would love to see more book conferences being held closer to Dallas, TX. I’m sure there are other bloggers who live in places where bookish events do not normally reach them, and they would agree that more bookish events held locally would be awesome.

I would like to see publishers making the effort to reach their readers with conferences other than New York or California. How about somewhere in the middle?! As far as BEA, why is it always New York? I understand the publishers’ corporate offices are located there, but it seems every now and then they can spread the love.

And I’ll be spreading the love tomorrow, with book giveaways! Be sure to stop back in to enter, the giveaways are located here! I will be following along my fellow Armchair BEA bloggers, so I will see you on the web!


And if you are a newbie to my blog, I give you easy access to follow here…
or check out the left sidebar for more subscribing options.

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Blog about Blogging! End of Armchair BEA~ Rules? What rules?

It is over. The end of my posting daily.
 (And my Email subscribers rejoice worldwide!!)

The BEA 2011 is over, so we will go back to normal programming of book reviews next week. This post is not completely thought out, I am running on empty and need a triple espresso to wake up.. but here goes.

Armchair BEA 2011

Today, the Armchair BEA Panel asks us to Blog about Blogging! There is a Book Blogger Convention today in NYC (come to Dallas!!) so the theme seems right.
There were lots of writing prompts, like how to social network, how to balance reality from your online life, tips on technique, etc.

One of those prompts was “a rule list”:

Create a “rule list” of things you should and shouldn’t be doing on a book blog.

That stuck out for me.. because we blog for us. We blog because we want to. We do not get paid to blog. We do not have to cater to one particular genre if we do not want to. We do not have to post if we don’t want to. Lots of people have their own niche’s and their own set of general do’s and will not do’s for their own life. You should set your own as you see fit, and never let anyone else set boundaries for you. Barring explicit and offensive/prejudicial content, you should aim high! Or aim just as you see fit. Your blog is your creation and you should let it be a reflection of yourself, if you want it to.

My personal set of rules:
Be happy.
Enjoy the experience.
Only accept review books that I am extremely interested in.
Converse with other bloggers as time permits.
Cultivate relationships with favorite publishers.
Make my reviews informative and interesting, while using spell-check.
*Stay away from reviewing the same books that every one is reviewing. *

That last one is a toughie and I’m trying to move in that direction as the summer comes along. Even though blog tours can be fun for the authors, I have to wonder how many times we really want to see the same book over and over and over again. The plus is most of the time there are giveaways that go along with the tours, so I would think that those who do want to win that book would follow along on the tour to enter for the chances to win. So, I’m still on the fence on this one. As a blogger yourself, what do you think are the pro’s and cons of Blog Tours? Are they redundant to you?

Back to my “rules list”.. there are a lot of technical tips that I could go into such as twitter and facebook pages to help promote your blog, but all that should be a personal preference. It depends on how far you want to take your blog, and how much time you have to devote to it. Build it, and they will come.. but you can’t just let it sit there and expect people to show up. You will have to market yourself. You will have to comment on other blogs. You will have to get out there and insert yourself into that niche that you want to be in. You need to want it, you need to have a passion for it, and you need to not expect greatness if you are not. And no, I am not greatness, but someday I will get to where I want to be, though I am still working out what that is. We shall see. There was a point when I felt like I didn’t want to write one more review.. so it just depends on which way real life is blowing at any particular time.

When I started branding my blog, it became important to have a specific graphic, something identifiable as your blog, to represent you. So, @BurtonReview is my twitter handle. I signed up with Gravatar so the same image comes up when I comment on wordpress blogs. Certain little things like that go a long way.
If you are a newbie, I would definitely say to watch for the bloggiesta events that come up, as they suggest things you may have forgotten to work on which helps clean up and focus your blog in the right direction. I did participate once and got a lot of work done on my blog one weekend.

Lastly… the extra special BEA Giveaway has ended.. those 9 books are going to a very special lucky winner. One of my partners in crime for this giveaway was Historical-fiction.com and she will announce the winner on her site as soon as I and Lucy from Enchanted from Josephine tally our semi-finalists. It was grand fun, and I hope you liked the scavenger hunt we set up for you!
Hope everyone has a fabulous long weekend planned.. sun and surf and turf?? Or, sun and mowing and week-whacking.. ugh.. I will definitely get a few hours of reading by the pool. I will have to restrain myself to not pick up Lady of the English from Chadwick, or maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

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Armchair BEA~ Relationships

Today at Armchair BEA, it is all about Relationships. The request is that we write about our experiences with building relationships online with other bloggers, authors, and publicists. I tend to go off on tangents, so bear with me.

I was one of those bloggers that participated in a survey that resulted in the Best Practices of Pitching Book Bloggers. This focused on relationships between Bloggers and Publicists and Authors. Don’t you love it when you see “Dear Blogger”? When you get pitched several times from the same person about the same book, doesn’t this get annoying?

When publicists contact us for review, and then we get asked for our webpage stats, does that annoy you? Doesn’t it peeve you that the person has clearly not read your review policy? These and other pitching pitfalls are covered in this handy pdf, which is free to book bloggers.

It’s a strange world out there for those authors who are new to self-promotion. They don’t realize the netiquette that has developed along with the bookish blogosphere. If you know one of these newbies, point them to the Best Practices. Help build that relationship of trust between you and author instead of ignoring them. I know of several authors that remember me as one of their first bloggers that helped them through the book blog quagmire. It’s a great feeling to be able to help them.

Over the past few years, I have seen the blogosphere quadruple in size. It normally starts as a reader who was looking for a particular genre of books, looking for ideas on what to buy next, and they stumble across a book blog. How neat, they think! A regular person talking about books! And then they discover the blogroll. And then they find more blogs in their preferred genre, as most blogs tend to link to blogs of the same interest. Then the reader realizes you can comment on all these posts too! Which brings reader to realize, how hard can it be to open a blogger account? And a blogger is born.

(That was my experience.) The relationships I developed in those early days of blogging still sit with me. I actually mentioned three of those historical fiction blogs that inspired me in yesterday’s post. Two of these ladies I feel a kinship and bond with that I know will last a long time. If I don’t get daily texts from one of them then I feel like my day is incomplete. And I know of other bloggers who get to meet up in NYC at conventions and more relationships are forged. It is quite powerful, actually, when I think of how much my life has changed since I became a book blogger. All these potential allies at my fingertips. And how amazing how many genres of book bloggers there are! General lit, feminism, young adult, graphic novel, romance, historical romance, classics, fiction…AMAZING!

It’s been almost two and half years of reviewing books for me. It’s a commitment. Sometimes it’s a struggle as I look at the ARC Bookcase. You know, that ever present TBR pile that you should have conquered last year. So, it’s a juggling act; especially for those of us who work full-time, have kids, a husband, animals and a house to take care of. Where does the blogging come in?

Better yet, where does the reading come in?

Somehow, I manage to do a little of everything. Which means I am not the best at anything. I can say I am a well-rounded individual, because I cannot spend too much on any one thing lest the next thing gets abandoned. I balance it out. Little by little. And with a little help from my friends. (Queue the music.) The support from the community of bloggers is there, if you ask for it. It’s a big world out there. And book bloggers have really become a force to be reckoned with, even after all those professionally paid literary critics knocked us all down and said we were just a phase.

Go forth.. read.. review.. blog… communicate.. and kick butt. I am proud to be a book blogger. It has opened up my world to people and books I would never have otherwise come across. It’s pretty awesome being a book blogger. We even have book blogger conventions! And if we can’t go to the conventions, we can sit at our favorite chair for the Armchair BEA and still have a ton of fun! It’s a great community, and I am happy to be here. Don’t forget the amazing giveaways book bloggers host! (there’s one going on right here!!) XXO

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>It’s April 5, Everyone!! Updates and housekeeping (ugh!)

>What a great day it is today!! April 5 is my son’s 4th birthday!! Happy Birthday to my little Oliver.. he was much wished for and I couldn’t have asked for a little boy more perfect than my little guy. Oliver’s big sister is pretty special too, and we are going to Chuck E Cheese.. the mother of all Kids Fun places, as it is always picked by the kiddos for their birthday celebrations. Since my stepdaughter is almost 17, I feel like I’ve been going to Chuck E Cheese’s for quite a few years. Now I feel old.

Another fabulous reason for April 5 being a great day is that two of the favorite books that I’ve read this year are being released!!

TO BE QUEEN by Christy English… And you can enter right here to win your own copy of this great story of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Two lucky winners, plus it’s an international giveaway! I highly recommend this title, and you can see my review by clicking here!

Elizabeth I: A Novel by Margaret George (click for review).. another huge chunky book but I loved every page of it! This is a fabulous book and I am looking forward to reading her backlist after this reading experience. And I get to meet the author tomorrow night at the Arts and Letters Live Lecture at the Dallas Museum!!

If you are in the Dallas area, you won’t want to miss this chance to learn about Margaret’s research on one of our favorite historical figures. Rest assured, I will be posting all about my experience, I am so excited to meet her!!

And as a side note, some not-so-nice person decided to open apparently a fake wordpress blog called The Burton Review, using my old domain which I lost several months ago due to Google technical errors. It has been a nightmare, and I almost wanted to give up the blog altogether I have been so frustrated with these domain issues.

So now when I am googled as The Burton Review, that fake site comes up. GRRR!! In an effort to not have another fake site pop up, I have again purchased another domain, http://www.burtonbookreview.com/ but the blogspot domain will auto-direct you to the current site, thankfully. When you have time, update your bookmarks and links to http://www.burtonbookreview.com/ and I would really appreciate it so very much. The more times Burton Book Review gets googled and clicked hopefully it will knock out the old domain off its pedestal as top of the list. Which I loved being top of the list back when it was mine! Again, another GRRR.

If you are a new linker, and would like an  updated button, please use the button below. I have made it a little smaller than the previous button, so if it is on your sidebar this one may fit better anyway. Let this be a warning to others.. purchase the variants of your “trade name” if possible as far as .net and .org etc because this has been a headache.

And on yet another frustrating note, for those who subscribe to this feed via Google Friend Connect, I have no idea why but the feed may not be updating in Google Reader. If you can, I would appreciate it if you signed up to receive my posts via email instead of relying on the google reader, which hasn’t updated in a month for me, but it did for one of my followers (confused!). On the top left hand corner of my sidebar, you can sign up to receive the emailed updates. I have a sneaky suspicion that my traffic has dwindled because of the stupid google reader not updating.

If you do use Google Reader, you need to hit the link under the Email Subscribe, and subscribe in a reader..
Subscribe to The Burton Review and once your are there click ADD SUBSCRIPTION.
That should update your feed to your google reader since I just set that one up. Definitely the most sure-fire way to receive my posts would be the Email Direct feature, but it couldn’t hurt to try both. Annoyance, right? Why does Google make everything so difficult?!

In case blogspot users weren’t aware (I wasn’t till today).. there is a spot on the Settings for Email & Mobile. Once you find that page from your dashboard, you can select the option to convert your pages to Mobile-friendly on mobile devices. This is a feature that I think everyone should use.. especially those blogs like mine that are heavy on the graphics, and it makes the mobile surfer much happier to be able to see your actual content much better. There are some bloggers who don’t realize that their text doesn’t show up on mobile devices because your backgrounds don’t show up. For one particular blog I attempted to visit on the mobile phone there is a white background and white text… makes it kind of difficult to read it.


The NEW button!

HAVE I LOST YOU YET?! HANG ON!! Onwards to happier things…I wanted to direct you to a new spot on HF Connection which features a guest post from book/author publicist Diane Saarinen whom many of my fellow book bloggers may have worked with before. Diane would love to see some of your thoughts on the topic of Pitching Book Bloggers. She mentioned one of my pet peeves how authors out of the blue tell me when they want me to run a review, even though they have never read my review policy. They don’t seem to realize that we book bloggers take time out of her personal lives to offer our book reviews, and many of us work full time and have families to take care of first. Before I go crazy venting here..hop on over to Historical Fiction Connection and join in on the discussion. You also have the opportunity to purchase her newest ebook on Pitching Book Bloggers, and if you are a book blogger you can get it free.

Happy April 5th everyone, Happy Birthday to my crazy Oliver, and Happy Release Day to Christy English and Margaret George!!

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