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I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: Fall of Giants by Ken Follet

Fall of Giants by Ken Follet
Book 1 of Fall of Giants Trilogy
Unabridged, 30 hr. 41 min.
Penguin Audio
John Lee (Narrator)
September 28, 2010
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal purchase from Audible
It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, "Fall Of Giants" moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.
Wow, this is quite a hefty novel, even reading it took quite some time! The First World War and the events surrounding it can be confusing to break down and unpack – all of the alliances, behind the scenes conversations, and upheaval. In The Fall of Giants, Follet takes us back and forth across the globe and behind the front lines to the depth of the action. We go from inside the lives of the powerful to the virtual nobody. And somehow, it is easier to digest this way.

Throughout the novel, we follow the lives of interconnected families from a variety of backgrounds and belligerent nations. This gives a relatively well rounded world view of the events as they unfold. Sometimes we are privy to more information than others as we have some characters that are in political power positions and others who are just surviving the results of everyday life. Sometimes, I admit, it feels a little contrived that our characters happen to be in the same place to interact with one another, but I was able to put that aside as I dove into the sheer breadth of the novel.

I think the most interesting sections for me were those set in Russia especially during the revolution. This is a country that I have always said doesn’t get the treatment it deserves in historical fiction, but it gets ample time here. I felt that the events here were the most desperate and high-stakes, whereas all the other choices that characters had to make were about personal choices, not world changing decisions. Additionally, we are seeing the events from those who are right in the thick of leading the revolution, not from the perspective of the powerful as is typical. As a matter of fact, we don’t even see the Russian royal family once.

One part that did begin to feel a bit wearing was all the “baby-mama-drama” occurring across the globe! I get that the purpose of this was to set up characters to take over the storytelling reins in the next installment, Winter of the World, but it got a tad bit crazy at times. However, I will say that it did break up the political drama.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you have some reading time on your hands. You don’t have to be a war buff to enjoy it as there are so many different elements to this story.

★★★★★

I have to say, John Lee knocked it out of the park here. Not only did he have A LOT to narrate (I can’t even begin to imagine how long it took to record all of this book) but he had a lot of different types of action and people to contend with. He admirably voiced the characters so that each was distinctive and you had a very clear idea of who was speaking lending even more to the development of characters. His reading pace was fantastic and allowed me to digest what I was reading. Even though it took me quite a while to complete this book that wasn’t due to not being interested in the story being told or the way it was told – I just get the opportunity to listen in small chunks and with a book this long that took a while.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

 
Also by Ken Follet:

The Century Trilogy includes the following:












Winter of the World (Book 2)












Edge of Eternity


Find Ken Follet: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, July 22, 2016

Caught on Tape: Theodore Roosevelt

Well, my attempt to do one of these Caught on Tape segments each month has sort of flopped, but I'm going to try to correct that point forward.  I struggled to come up with a historical character to feature so I threw the idea to my husband, not expecting that he would really come up with something.  He first tossed out Atilla the Hun, which I thought might be a little tough (will continue looking into this for later), but his second idea wasn't that bad, Theodore Roosevelt.  As I thought more on it, it became a great idea!  So, you can credit this weeks theme to my husband!  I tried to select films that represented Teddy in the iconic roles of president as well as a Rough Rider.  Let's see how he is portrayed in film. 

The Wind and the Lion (1975)
The Wind and the Lion storyline weaves historic facts into a violent fictional adventure in which an American woman, Eden Perdicaris, and her two children are kidnapped by Berber brigand Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, prompting U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt to send an armed invasion force and rescue mission to Morocco.
The Wind and the Lion is a film that takes on a rather obscure to us today topic, a kidnapping of people I have never heard of, and weaves it into a historical adventure film. Theodore Roosevelt is a president that was known for his bold speeches and actions, which makes this interesting to me even though I don’t know anything about the subject. Roosevelt is portrayed by Brian Keith (another person I don’t know), but the film also stars Sean Connery as the Raisuli and Candice Bergen as Eden Perdicaris (the kidnapped woman). In the clip below, which just shows Roosevelt giving a speech while sitting down, still seems to encapsulate Roosevelt at his core (as well as the dichotomy of nature preservation and being a big game hunter).


Rough Riders (1997)
In 1898 the US government decided to intervene on the side of the Cuban rebels in their struggle against Spanish rule. Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt decides to experience the war first hand by promoting and joining a volunteer cavalry regiment. The regiment, later known as the Rough Riders, brings together volunteers from all corners of the nation and all walks of life. When Roosevelt and his men finally land on Cuba, they face ambush, intense enemy fire, and a desperate, outnumbered charge up a defended hill.
One of the things (among many) that Theodore Roosevelt is known for is his participation in the Spanish-American War and leading a group known as the Rough Riders. This made-for-TV miniseries focuses on that group and Roosevelts actions in it. The signature scene is the charge up San Juan Hill. That is the scene that is included below and it not only shows the way that battle was portrayed but, also shows Tom Berenger giving an impassioned speech to his men. I bought into the action sequences, I don’t know if I buy in to Berenger as Roosevelt – he wasn’t convincing to me. It received a handful of mixed reviews and is cited for many historical inaccuracies and anachronisms.


Night at the Museum/Battle of the Smithsonian/Secret of the Tomb (2006/2009/2014)
This trio of films revolves around how museum exhibits come to life after hours and the night watchman who experiences the craziness that ensues.
Unlike the majority of the films presented here, this is a comedy and revolves around a silly premise that is just good, lighthearted fun. It’s a film that has big name comedy actors: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke. It also features Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt. This role holds a soft spot for many because of the recent loss of Williams and many of the clips I find related to this film are montage or memorial clips to Robin Williams. I haven’t seen much of this film to comment on it, but my husband has and said that being as it’s a comedy, Roosevelt plays as a little over-the-top and caricaturist of his personality as a rough rider. But it’s Robin Williams, so we love it!


This is My Affair (1937)
Navy Lt. Richard Perry becomes an undercover man out to discover the leaders of a group of well-connected men who pull off bank robberies during the McKinley administration (early 20th century).
This seems like one of those crazy films from the 1930s that I could get into! There are bank robberies, action, conspiracies, and more. Roosevelt is just a small role in the film, I think he doesn’t make an appearance until the last 10 minutes of it, and he could have really been any president. He doesn’t stand out as decidedly Theodore Roosevelt. The entire film is on Youtube, but if you want to see Roosevelt, go to the 1:32:00 mark and start there. I want to check this film out, but not for the president.



 So, have you seen any of these films or others featuring the character of Theodore Roosevelt?  I would love to hear what you think.
 
 



Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wish List 5: Women Who Work


Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme. I know that you all need more on your TBR!!! This month's theme focuses on titular women with an occupation.  Many times in historical fiction the heroine is either from the wealthy upper class with no need to work or down on her luck and can't work.  I love to see stories about women with a profession - especially those that are uncommon or don't exist today.  I am hopeful that those books I chose for this list will do just that.

The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott

From the best-selling author of The Dressmaker comes the warm-hearted and enthralling saga of a bold young woman caught between two worlds-the vibrant camaraderie of factory life and the opulence that a budding romance with the mill owner's son affords-as the murder of her best friend sends shock waves throughout the town.

Determined to forge her own destiny, Alice Barrow joins the legions of spirited young women better known as the Mill Girls. From dawn until dusk, these ladies work the looms, but the thrill of independence, change in their pockets, and friendships formed along the way mostly make the backbreaking labor worthwhile. In fact, Hiram Fiske, the steely-eyed titan of industry, has banked on that. But the working conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous and after one too many accidents, Alice finds herself unexpectedly acting as an emissary to address the factory workers' mounting list of grievances.

After traveling to the Fiske family's Beacon Hill mansion, Alice enters a world she's never even dared to dream about: exquisite silk gowns, sumptuous dinners, grand sitting parlors, and uniformed maids operating with an invisible efficiency. Of course, there's also a chilliness in the air as Alice presents her case. But with her wide, intelligent eyes and rosy-hued cheeks, Alice manages to capture the attention of Hiram's eldest son, the handsome and reserved Samuel Fiske.

Their chemistry is undeniable, soon progressing from mutual respect and shy flirtation into an unforgettable romance. But when Alice's best friend, Lovey, is found strangled in a field, Alice and Samuel are torn between loyalty to "their kind" and a chance for true love.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.

Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.

On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

Based on a seldom-told true story, this novel is perfect for everyone who is fascinated by Britain’s royal family—a behind the scenes look into the nurseries of little princes and the foibles of big princes.

April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty. . . .

So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—LaLa, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. LaLa knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.

But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love—the kind of love his parents won’t…or can’t…show him.

From Britain’s old wealth to the glittering excesses of Tsarist Russia; from country cottages to royal yachts, and from nursery to ballroom, Charlotte Bill witnesses history. The Royal Nanny is a seamless blend of fact and fiction—an intensely intimate, yet epic tale spanning decades, continents, and divides that only love can cross.

One Glorious Ambition by Jane Kirkpatrick

One dedicated woman...giving voice to the suffering of many.
Born to an unavailable mother and an abusive father, Dorothea Dix longs simply to protect and care for her younger brothers, Charles and Joseph. But at just fourteen, she is separated from them and sent to live with relatives to be raised properly. Lonely and uncertain, Dorothea discovers that she does not possess the ability to accept the social expectations imposed on her gender and she desires to accomplish something more than finding a suitable mate.

Yearning to fulfill her God-given purpose, Dorothea finds she has a gift for teaching and writing. Her pupils become a kind of family, hearts to nurture, but long bouts of illness end her teaching and Dorothea is adrift again. It’s an unexpected visit to a prison housing the mentally ill that ignites an unending fire in Dorothea’s heart—and sets her on a journey that will take her across the nation, into the halls of the Capitol, befriending presidents and lawmakers, always fighting to relieve the suffering of what Scripture deems, the least of these.

In bringing nineteenth-century, historical reformer Dorothea Dix to life, author Jane Kirkpatrick combines historical accuracy with the gripping narrative of a woman who recognized suffering when others turned away, and the call she heeded to change the world.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

The Great War is over, and change is in the air, in this novel that brings to life the exciting days of early British radio…and one woman who finds her voice while working alongside the brilliant women and men of the BBC.

London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.

Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be.

Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.
 
Looking for some books I have read on women who work?   Give these a try!
 
                       Prima Donna                     A Royal Likeness               Mademoiselle Chanel            ★★★★ ½☆                           ★★★★★                              ★★★★☆  
Here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month:
  • Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede - Time Travel
  • Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired - To Come
  • Colleen @ A Literary Vacation - To Come
  • Stephanie @ Layered Pages - Sebastian St. Cyr Series
  • Erin @ Flashlight Commentary - To Come





Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review: Of Peaks and Prairies by Vivi Holt

Of Peaks and Prairies by Vivi Holt
Book 1 in Paradise Valley series
ARC, eBook, No page count
Black Lab Press
July 13, 2016
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Historical Romance, Western

Source: Received for review from the author (I also was a beta reader for this book too)
Heat Level: '''''
She's married to a man she doesn't love, and didn't agree to marry. The scoundrel dragged her to the altar, and now everything is going to change. In a split second decision, she runs away, and stows aboard a chuck wagon that's leaving on a cattle drive, heading north to Montana Territory. She doesn't know where she's going, or what she'll do, she only knows one thing - she has to escape from Fort Worth, Texas.
Thomas O'Reilly's finally got the chance to prove himself to his Pa. After finding gold in Montana Territory, he travels to Texas to buy a herd of longhorns to take back north with him, where demand for beef is high. Everything is going his way until he discovers a beautiful, young woman asleep in the back of his chuck wagon.
A woman on the trail is bad for business, especially in a group of rough and rowdy cowboys. Will she ruin everything he's worked so hard for? Or will she be the one thing he really needs?

Follow their journey, from Texas to Montana Territory, where challenges lurk around every corner, and love is forged in the heat of battle.
This is my favorite book from Vivi Holt thus far!

Important reading note – while this is the first book in the Paradise Valley series, it continues the story of Bill and Sarah that is told in Holt’s book, The Strong One, which is part of the Cutter’s Creek series. You can read these books in either order, Of Peaks and Prairies certainly stands on its own, but I think it will be more enjoyable to read The Strong One first and read Bill and Sarah’s origin story first.

The majority of the historical westerns that I have read fall into one of two categories: those that revolve around mail order brides coming from the east to marry men on ranches in the west OR life on an established ranch. Of Peaks and Prairies is different in that everyone who exists within these pages already lives in the west, but the majority of the story takes place along the trail while cattle are being herded from Texas to Montana. This was a refreshing change of pace as we encounter the variety of troubles that could come along with life on the trail that kept things exciting.

Genevieve is desperate to get away from her home – it’s not really much of a home anyway and her step-father and new husband are just terrible men – and setting out on the trail seems like a better plan than staying home, regardless of what tribulations come with it. She doesn’t expect to fall for the handsome trail leader, especially since she is married, but that is what happens and provides quite a bit of trouble on the trek and between her and Thomas. Thomas is a good man on a tight schedule – he doesn’t really have the time to deal with the problems an unmarried woman (as far as he knows) on the trail will bring as he races the coming winter to get home. The romantic moments between the two are sparking, sweet, and at times infuriating (in a good way!). It’s a clean romance, but the tension between the two and the small moments are rewarding and fulfilling for the reader.

I was super excited to return to the story of Sarah and Bill from The Strong One. I didn’t know that they would be part of this story before I started reading it and I quite literally cheered out loud when they returned to the scene. While mostly a sideline story, it still moves forward and they serve as a good foil/inspiration for Genny and Thomas. I also enjoyed seeing more of Sarah’s native lifestyle that we were briefly introduced to at the beginning of The Strong One.

The book left me with a desire to read more books that will hopefully come in this series. I enjoyed all the characters and fell for Genny and Thomas – I can’t wait to see what will happen at Thomas’ new ranch (I enjoyed getting to know some of the cowboys and hope to see more of them). I also have a feeling that we are not done with the native side of Sarah’s story. Holt keeps the plot exciting while advancing the romantic threads of the various relationships at play here. The trail life blossomed from the pages and I felt like I was right there with them all and the hundreds of head of cattle. Well written, fast paced, and enjoyable all around.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also by Vivi Holt:












Mail Order Bride: Christy
[Review Coming Soon]












Mail Order Bride: Ramona












Mail Order Bride: Katie
[My Review]












The Strong One (Book 2 Cutter Creek Series)
[My Review]


Find Vivi Holt: Amazon Page | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

 
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: A Buccaneer at Heart by Stephanie Laurens


A Buccaneer at Heart by Stephanie Laurens
Book 2 in The Adventurers Quartet
E-Book, 512 pages
MIRA
April 26, 2016
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Romance, Adventure, Regency

Source: Personal Collection
Heat Level: '''''
After a decade of captaining diplomatic voyages for Frobisher Shipping, alongside covert missions for the Crown, Captain Robert Frobisher decides that establishing a home—with hearth and wife—should be his next challenge. But an unexpected mission intervenes. Although Robert sees himself as a conservative businessman-cum-diplomat and this mission is far from his usual sphere, it nevertheless falls within the scope of his abilities. As matters are urgent, he agrees to depart for West Africa forthwith.

To Robert, his way forward is clear: Get to Freetown, determine the location of a slavers' camp, return to London with the information, and then proceed to find himself a wife.

Already in Freetown, Miss Aileen Hopkins is set on finding her younger brother Will, a naval lieutenant who has mysteriously disappeared. Find Will and rescue him; determined and resolute, Aileen is not about to allow anyone to turn her from her path.

But all too quickly, that path grows dark and dangerous. And then Robert Frobisher appears and attempts to divert her in more ways than one.

Accustomed to managing diplomats and bureaucrats, Robert discovers that manipulating a twenty-seven-year-old spinster lies outside his area of expertise. Prodded by an insistent need to protect Aileen, he realizes that joining forces with her is the surest path to meeting all the challenges before him—completing his mission, keeping her safe, and securing the woman he wants as his wife.

But the villains strike and disrupt their careful plans—leaving Robert and Aileen no choice but to attempt a last throw of the dice to complete his mission and further her brother's rescue.


Compelled to protect those weaker than themselves and bring retribution to a heartless enemy, they plunge into the jungle with only their talents and inner strengths to aid them—and with the courage of their hearts as their guide.


The first voyage is one of exploration, the second one of discovery. The third journey brings maturity, while the fourth is a voyage of second chances. Continue the journey and follow the adventure, the mystery, and the romances to the cataclysmic end.
**This review was previously featured at Romantic Historical Reviews**

A Buccaneer at Heart picks up immediately after the ending of The Lady’s Command, so I would highly recommend that you read these books in series order. Edwina and Declan Frobisher have returned from the first leg of the reconnaissance mission to Freetown, Africa to learn why people were going missing there. Having returned with some eye-opening information, it is time for the next part of the mission to begin, and who better for that mission than another of the Frobisher brothers – this time Robert. Robert sets sail to take the mission deeper into the heart of the slums and the jungle to find out where these people are being taken and why. He doesn’t expect to encounter a beautiful but driven young woman, Aileen Hopkins, already in Freetown searching for her missing brother who is at times both a help and a hindrance, but at all times a lovely woman he starts to fall for. What will they uncover in Africa, both about themselves and the mission?

One thing that sets this book apart from the first in the series is how the romance plays out. In The Lady’s Command you have a married couple right from the first few pages of the book and that plays out distinctly different than Robert setting out on this mission as a single man with some thoughts towards seeking a bride upon his return home. As a matter of fact, Robert and Aileen exist on separate storylines through the first third or so of the book – they are relatively aware of the other’s presence, but do not encounter one another. Even once they meet, the main thrust of the story is the mission – for Aileen it is to find her brother who went missing in Freetown and from Robert it is to locate the camp of the kidnappers. This at times sets them at odds with each other as their missions sometimes do not support the other. I did find their early moments to be sort of funny and their relationship flourished at an expedited pace because of the nature of close proximity during their shared mission. By the end of the novel there are a couple of sexy scenes between the two, but you will wait quite a while as the novel is centered more on the adventure than the romance for most of the book.

I liked the characters of Aileen and Robert in this book, more than I liked Edwina from the first book for sure. Aileen is a woman who can take care of herself, she even comes packing her own weapons AND knows how to use them! While she does have a damsel-in-distress moment and needs rescuing, she does return the favor with Robert by the end of the book. We also return to a few characters that we met in the first book, Declan and Edwina book end the novel, but also some of the locals in Freetown make a second appearance here and are quite enjoyable.

Action there is aplenty here, even beyond the bedroom! There is spying, kidnapping, escaping, shootouts, sword-fights, encounters by boat, subterfuge, and more. I think that the adventure was well plotted and feels like a natural progression of the greater story arc across what will be a four book series. While I think that the necessity for the brothers to each complete one part of the mission and then return all the way back to London to report seems a little drawn out to be ultimately believable, I can suspend that disbelief and enjoy the sense of adventure here as it does draw you in. I would weigh the adventure aspect more heavily than the romantic elements in this novel.

There was only one set of awkward scenes, and while I understand why they were written the way they were, it came off very difficult to read. Sprinkled throughout the novel there are a couple scenes where the kidnappers are the central focus and they are discussing their nefarious ways. Obviously the author didn’t want the reader to know who they were yet, as some of them will be revealed later in this book and others likely in the forthcoming titles. So instead of unique names, we have generalities that read very much like, “the first man said to the third man”. This repeated usage began to drive me crazy and I couldn’t wait for those scenes to end because I was even more confused than when I began that section. I’m not sure how to improve this section, but it was just awkward reading.

Overall, I found this second book more enjoyable than the first (which is very unusual for me) and I can’t wait to dive into the third book in this series which follows the youngest and more spontaneous brother, Caleb.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
 
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

 
Also by Stephanie Laurens:

Stephanie Laurens has written many novels, those in the Adventurers Quartet include:











The Lady’s Command (Book 1)
[My Review]












The Daredevil Snared (Book 3)
[My Review]












Lord of the Privateers (Book 4)
Coming December 2016

 
Find Stephanie Laurens: Website | Newsletter

 
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cover Crush: Spinning the Moon


We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

I love this cover!  And I probably love it more because I noticed it was by Karen White who has quickly become a favorite author of mine (writes some historicals and some contemporaries).  The greens and purples are among my favorite colors and the pathway through the trees to the house with lit windows in the twilight beckons me into the book and toward that house.  Gorgeous!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what covers my friends are crushing on today?  Check them out for yourself: Layered Pages, 2 Kids and Tired Books, A Bookaholic Swede, and Flashlight Commentary.




Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Historical Spotlight: Coney Island

Let’s take another trip with me today, shall we?

During my trip to NYC a few weeks ago, we spent part of one of the days at Coney Island exploring the amusement parks, the boardwalk, and the aquarium. While the experience itself wasn’t focused on exploring any particular historical aspect, I thought it might be fun to look at the history behind a couple of the things we did see while there.


Luna Park
The Cyclone
Photo Credit: Me
Luna Park is an amusement park, one of a few that remains on Coney Island. This is a non-traditional amusement park meaning that you do not pay an admission to enter the park, but can walk throughout and only pay for the rides you choose to ride or the games you play. Back during the early boom and industrialization of New York City, the city-folk would look to the shore or the hills as a means of escaping the heat/congestion/pollution of the city. Coney Island was exceptionally well placed for this and developers brought hotels and various attractions to this area to take advantage of that opportunity. Luna Park opened on Coney Island in 1903 and one of the drawing attractions were the myriad of electric lights that lit up the park. It closed its doors in its original iteration in 1946 and then reopened a new Luna Park in 2010 as they revive the amusement park culture.

Their signature ride, the Coney Island Cyclone rollercoaster was built in 1927 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cyclone is a traditional wooden rollercoaster and one of the iconic elements of Coney Island. It was nearly demolished in the 1970s when the land was going to be redeveloped but thanks to citizen support it was saved. We ended up not riding the coaster (I chickened out, I’m not a huge rollercoaster fan and I prefer the kind where you have over the shoulder restraints). For reference, as of 2016 it’s $10 per ride.

*Info compiled from Wikipedia and Luna Park websites.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel
The Wonder Wheel in all it's glory!
Photo Credit: Me
The Wonder Wheel totally took my breath away when I saw it. It is like no Ferris Wheel I have seen before because in addition to the stationary carts that are set around the outer edge of the wheel, there are additional carts that slide on a track from the outside of the wheel to an inner track on the wheel and then out again, depending on the location around the circle. Very cool, but I’m not going to lie, a little scary when the cart starts sliding! And you know, it goes 150 feet into the air too – no big deal, just sliding around up in the air!

The Wonder Wheel was built on Coney Island between 1918 and 1920 and was opened to the public in that later year. The wheel was originally called Dip-the-Dip and was a new kind of thrill ride at the time. It was named a New York City landmark in 1989 and became the central attraction of the Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park that was put together under a new Wheel owner in 1983. The park is primarily a children’s amusement park now with a few adult rides, but the Wonder Wheel is its focal point. It is currently $7 per ride, but absolutely worth every penny (and you must trying the sliding cars!). You get an amazing view of all the amusements and the pier and boardwalk.

Bonus note: don’t worry about getting stuck up high on this ride – they can rotate it around by hand crank if it should stop – the only time that was ever used was during the 1977 blackout in NYC.

*Info compiled from Wikipedia and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park websites.

Nathan’s Famous 
Our Nathan's Experience
Photo Credit: Me
It just so happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Nathan’s restaurant chain and their original site just happens to be at Coney Island! Pretty cool coincidence that we were headed there this year. Now, I am the first to admit that I am not a hot dog fan. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had a hot dog in the last 10 years, and it always tends to be somewhere that is iconic and I have to do it for the experience (the last time was when I went to Fenway Park for the first time and gave my husband a heart attack when I asked him to get me one from the roving venders!). The company was founded by Nathan Handwerker and the original hot dog was created based on a recipe from his wife. The stand now sells a whole selection of hot dogs, hamburgers, sides, and many other quick, to go sandwich options. The first recorded hot dog eating contest was in the 1970s, held on July 4th, which has become a tradition each year.

Did you know silent film star Clara Bow was discovered while working at the Coney Island Nathan’s?

Our first stop in Coney Island was Nathan’s – I got a corn dog and my husband got a chili dog and we split some fries. Now, I don’t get hot dogs very often as I said, but this corn dog was awesome! Great tasting hot dog with a crunchy and sweet corn meal breading.

*Info compiled from Nathan’s Famous website.

 

View of Coney Island amusements and beaches from the pier
Photo Credit: Me

Those are the only historical elements of Coney Island that we experienced particularly during our trip – but there are the beaches, the side shows, and many other things that you could experience. It is a wonderful place to visit. We enjoyed the boardwalk and just standing out on the pier looking out into the water and taking in the sunshine. It was such a beautiful day to visit the area.

 
Want to Learn More?

There is a really cool podcast available on iTunes called The Bowery Boys that features New York history and they did 2 episodes on Coney Island – one on the Golden Age and one on the 20th century iteration. Check them out!

There are some cool books too that look at Coney Island history. I picked up Lost Brooklyn by Marcia Reiss, which doesn’t just focus on Coney Island, but the whole region of Brooklyn, but parts of Coney Island are prominently featured. Lots of beautiful pictures of buildings and rides that are not there anymore. Coney Island: Lost and Found by Charles Denson and Coney Island: The People’s Playground by Michael Immerso also look at the development of Coney Island.

 
Tell me, have you been to Coney Island before, and if so, what were some of the things you enjoyed?


Other historical stops on my New York trip: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Brooklyn Bridge (post to come).
 

 


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