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.

I am no longer an Amazon Associate. I am currently working on updating my posts with links to various locations to buy books. One of the links I am including is to RJ Julia - this is my favorite local independent book store. You can shop their store online and have access to pretty much anything you are looking for. I do not have any affiliation with any of these sites - just looking to support my local indie book store.

Anyone looking for a new feed reader? My recommendation is Bloglovin'. I made the switch and love the layout, plus there is now an app for my phone. If you use Bloglovin' or have made the switch to another feed reader, please make sure you are following me on it so you miss none of the content here!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Author Event - Katherine Howe

I just got back from an author event with Katherine Howe - author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. She was at my somewhat local independent book store, RJ Julia in Madison, CT, that I have really fallen in love with. Even though I have to drive about 30 minutes to get there, they have a wonderful array of authors come thru and are amazing.

I brought my mom along, which was cool because we haven't done anything that was just the 2 of us in awhile. Even though she knew nothing about the book or author - she was up for the event - and now wants to read the book!

Katherine was one of the nicest authors I have met. She opened her talk by consulting the Magic 8 Ball - which was cool and very fitting for the topic/book. I haven't gotten to read the book yet (it's on my list for this month) so it was exciting to hear some excerpts read. She told us about her apartment in a house in Marblehead, MA that is dated back to the mid 1700's that has so much history. I learned what the key on the front cover is all about - that was something that was confusing to me.

Anyone who has read and loved this book will be excited to know that she is currently working on another one (as well as trying to finish up her PhD). The second book will be set a little bit later than her previous one, in Boston - but will still focus on a very unique family - that was all she would tell us so far. Also, she has an idea for a possible sequel to Physick Book.

I was excited to get her to sign a book for me - I borrowed it from my boyfriend's mom months ago and haven't gotten to it yet. So I figured, what better way to give it back, than in better condition than I received it! I was excited to read the book before the event, and now I really am excited!

Any one here read this yet?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blog Award Wrap Up

I have gotten a couple blog awards over the last week and now is my chance to thank those that gave them to me and to pass them on to others.

My Top Blog Commenters Award
This award was given to me by Alaine from Queen of Happy Endings. This award is to remind readers how much you appreciate them. Thank you Alaine for this award - I really love reading the reviews and the other book bonuses that you have on your blog.

To pass on the love:
Marie from The Burton Review
Ms. Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine
Nina from J'adorehappyendings
Marg from Historical Tapestry
Amy from Passages to the Past

Ladies, thank you for taking the time to check out and comment on my posts - I value all your input. Check out these blogs, they are great.

One Lovely Blog Award

This award was given to be by Allie from Hist-Fic-Chick. I am so glad that my reviews helped you to get into Michelle Moran - she is one of my favorite authors. I have passed this award on before but I would add another blog to the list - Arleigh from Historical-Fiction.com. Not only is the new layout beautiful but she always has some interesting posts, giveaways, and is one of the friendliest people I know! Check out her blog - you will not be dissappointed.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday #14

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Here we post what wonderful things arrived in our mailbox this past week.

This week was a little slower than the past few weeks - but that isn't entirely a bad thing...I have several books to still read for review from the past few Mailbox Mondays. But as always, I am still jealous of the amazing mailboxes some of you have gotten.

So here is what I got this week.

Book for review from author:

Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott
Back about a month or so ago - during the week where I posted about the women of Charles II, Susan contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a book of hers because of my interest in the women of Charles II. I had just the day before bought The Kings Favorite and The French Mistress, so Royal Harlot rounded out my set. Thank you Susan!

Books from Paperbackswap.com:

The Favored Child by Philippa Gregory
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
A Lady Raised High by Laurien Gardner

Did anything good come in your mailbox?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Four Month Challenge Complete

This challenge was hosted by Virginie Says...

I am SO EXCITED to have finished this challenge. It was such a huge undertaking and when I started it I was sure I wasn't going to finish. I had decided right from the start that there were a couple of categories that I wasn't going to do - but then as I went along I found myself wanting to do them because of the challenge. It has really opened my eyes to different books that I have really enjoyed. As I got to the last book, Cleopatra's Daughter, I was not sure I would finish by September 30 but I had hoped that I would race through it like I did her previous novels, and sure enough, save the best for last.

Here is my up to date list of my conquests (haha)

5 Point Challenges
Read a Chick Lit Book - Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker
Read a Historical Fiction Book - Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
Read a Books Just because you like the Cover - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Read anything by Jean Plaidy - The Merry Monarch's Wife by Jean Plaidy
Read a Book with a Number in the Title - The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Audio Book)

10 Point Challenges
Read a Book about Royalty (bio or fiction) - The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
Read a Classic - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Audio Book)
Read a Book by an Author you have Never Read - A Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
Read a Celebrity Bio/Auto-bio - I Am America, and So Can You by Stephen Colbert (Audio Book)
Read a Hardcover Book - Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

15 Point Challenges
Read a Book with a One Word Title - Smitten by Janet Evanovich (Audio Book)
Read a Book Based on a Biblical Character - Eve by Elissa Elliott
Read a Book that was Made into a Movie - Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Read a Book by an Author Born in June, July, August, or September - The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Read a Book with a Summer Word in the Title - The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard (Audio Book)

20 Point Challeges
Read a Book in a Series AND the One After - 1st to Die & 2nd Chance by James Patterson (Audio Books)
Read a Danielle Steele AND a Maeve Binchy Book - Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel and Tara Road by Maeve Binchy (Audio Books)
Read a Book From the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die List - The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Read a Book Considered Christian Fiction - Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Read a Book of Your Choice BUT Read Outside - Rage: The True Story of Sibling Murder by Jerry Langton

250/250 Points

I look forward to the next challenge starting in November - bring it on!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Historical Spotlight: The Children of Cleopatra

Cleopatra’s Daughter (by Michelle Moran) digs into the lives of the twin children of Cleopatra: Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. Her two other children are mentioned as well: Caesarion and Ptolemy. Let’s look at what is known of their lives.

Caesarion – “Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar”
Caesarion “Little Caesar” was the eldest son of Cleopatra and her liaison with Julius Caesar. He was born in 47 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. Cleopatra wanted Caesarion to become Caesar’s heir and the next leader of Rome; after Caesar’s death they returned to Egypt. In 44 BC Caesarion was name co-ruler of Egypt with Cleopatra. When Mark Antony became Cleopatra’s husband – he gave Caesarion the title of “King of Kings”. When Octavian invaded Alexandria, Caesarion was seen as the biggest threat to his quest to become the sole leader of Rome because he was Caesar’s son. Caesarion was executed at the age of 17 in 30 BC upon the order of Octavian – he had been planning on fleeing, possibly to India. He was the last Ptolemiac King of Egypt.

Alexander Helios
Alexander was born in 40 BC in Alexandria, the older sibling in the set of twins. They were the children of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. He was named after Cleopatra’s grandfather, Alexander the Great, and the ancient Greek word for sun. Mark Antony gave him the titles of King of Armenia, Media, Parthia and any countries yet to be discovered between the Euphrates and Indus Rivers. In 33 BC he was engaged to Iotapa of Media. After Cleopatra and Mark Antony committed suicide, Alexander was taken with his sister and younger brother to Rome for Octavian’s triumph. He lived with Octavian’s sister. It is believed that he was ultimately killed or died from illness, but there is no record of when.

Cleopatra Selene II – “Cleopatra VIII of Egypt”
Selene was born in 40 BC with her twin Alexander; she was named after her mother and the ancient Greek word for moon – her brother’s counterpart. She was given the titles of Queen of Cyrenaica and Libya. Along with her brothers she was brought to Rome and lived with Octavia – she outlived her brothers. She was married to King Juba II of Numidia around 20 BC. They ruled over Mauretania for Rome and had an influence on politics. They had 2 children, Ptolemy of Mauretania and Drusillia of Mauretania. She died sometime around year 6.

Ptolemy – “Ptolemy Philadelphus”
Ptolemy was the youngest child of Cleopatra and Mark Antony; he was born in 36 BC in Syria. He was named after Ptolemy II Philadelphus. When his siblings were given titles he received King of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia. He made the trip with Alexander and Selene to Rome and also like his brother it is not known how or when he died.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

NY Times Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

I got an email earlier this week from my contact at Regal Literary for a preview of the NY Times Book Review of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I thought this was pretty cool! That review has been published in today's edition - you can read it here. I think this sentence from the review pretty much sums up what to expect from this book.

"This outing may not be as blindly romantic as The Time Traveler’s Wife, but it is mature, complex and convincing — a dreamy yet visceral tale of loves both familial and erotic, a search for Self in the midst of obsession with an Other."

Hope the review makes you excited to read it - it is being released September 29, 2009. I can't wait to get to read this book.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Interview with Eva Etzioni-Halevy

I had the opportunity to ask Eva some questions about The Triumph of Deborah as well as the other books she has written. There is some great historical information provided as well as insight into her feelings about characters, the stories, and how they are still relevant today. Please read on to enjoy some insightful answers!

You have written three books now about strong women (The Song of Hannah, The Garden of Ruth and The Triumph of Deborah). How did you choose these women to write about and what drew you to their stories?

In recent years, I began to read the Bible on my own, and found it to be fascinating: full of the most dramatic and the most traumatic stories about people who lived thousands of years ago, and yet are so similar to us in their anxieties, hopes and desires. I began to identify in particular with the women and I felt as if I knew them personally and they had become part of me.

So I began to write about them as I believe they deserve to be written about: stories of love, betrayal and redemption with twisting plots, written first and foremost for reading pleasure that are yet totally faithful to the Scripture.

This goes especially for my latest novel The Triumph of Deborah.

The biblical Deborah was a national leader and deeply adored by the people. But what attracted me to write about her was not only her prominence, but also her most amazing story, as recounted in the Bible.

In ancient Israel war is looming. Leader Deborah orders warrior Barak to launch a strike against the neighboring Canaanites who threaten their people with destruction.

The Scripture tells us that when Deborah sent Barak to go out to war against the Canaanites, he did something rather unusual: he demanded that she accompany him to the battlefield. Three thousand years ago--a woman in the battlefield? Very strange.

I asked myself: why did he want her there?

Moreover, the scripture further tells us that she ended up going with him to his hometown as well. Yet she was a married woman, and there is nothing to indicate that husband Lapidoth accompanied her.

As I read the story in the Bible, I began wondering: what did her husband have to say to that excursion? What would any husband say if his wife suddenly went off to distant parts with another man, leaving him to do the babysitting? It makes good sense that this created marital problems between them. Would they be able to overcome those problems?

Further, I wondered what transpired between Deborah and Barak when they were together with no husband in sight?

These were the aspects of Deborah's story that I found most compelling, and they prompted me to write the novel about her.

A large portion of The Triumph of Deborah focuses on two other women, Asherah and Nogah. Were these characters that you created or are these historical women as well?

Asherah and Nogah are characters that I created but I did so on the basis of some hints in the Scripture. Barak goes out to war against the much superior military power of the Canaanites. Yet, against all odds he returns triumphant. Subsequently, it says, "Barak bring in your captives."

I found this sentence odd and intriguing as well. At that time there were many wars and loads of captives, yet they are not mentioned. So why does the biblical text focus on these in particular? I thought that there must have been something pretty special about them, to make the Bible pay attention to them. So in my novel I made them be two daughters of the defeated Canaanite king. The novel then describes the intricate, twisting relations that develop between Barak and the two princesses, of which Deborah also becomes part.

The stories of these women, even though they lived centuries ago, are still very relevant today. With a change of scenery they could be women living in any metropolitan city. What can these women of the past teach women of today?

There is a fascinating paradox in the Bible: The women lived in a male-dominated society, in which they had few legal rights and their position in the family and society was far from equal to that of men.

At the same time they were strong personalities, who did not just sit around and bemoan their fate. Instead, they took destiny in their own hands and shaped it to do their bidding.

Deborah is a prime example. Following the lead in the Book of Judges, my novel pays tribute to her feminine strength, from which women today may derive inspiration. Despite the difficult conditions for women prevailing at the time, she "cracked the glass ceiling" over three thousand years ago, without losing her femininity.

What contemporary readers and particularly women can learn from biblical women, especially Deborah, is that if she could do it then, they can do it now. No matter what the field in which they choose to realize their potential, no matter what is right for them, they can draw on their inner strength to achieve their goals.

On your website you tell us that you are working on a new novel tentatively titled The Ruse of Tamar. Is there anything you can tell us about this upcoming work?

I am now writing a novel about Tamar (the second Tamar in the Bible), the daughter of King David, who was the victim of incestuous rape by her brother. I want to show her trauma and how she rebuilt her life afterward, but I am still struggling with this and it is still far from publication.

Thank you so much Eva for these amazing answers. I feel like I have learned a lot about figures and a time that I didn’t know much about!
Eva was born in Vienna, Austria, but was fortunate to escape as a small child with her parents in 1939. They spent the war years in Italy, partly in an Italian concentration camp, and after the Germans conquered the northern part of Italy, in hiding.

Having survived the holocaust in this manner, they reached what was then Palestine after the war. She grew up in a religious boarding school, after which she studied Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and later at Tel-Aviv University, where she was awarded her PhD.

She lived most of her life in Israel, but spent two lengthy stretches of time in other countries, one in the U.S. and one in Australia. Eventually, some twenty years ago, she decided to return to Israel to seek her roots there.

As part of searching for her roots, she returned to the religious orientation she had previously abandoned. It is this roots-seeking process that also led her to the discovery of the rich world of the Bible, and to the intention of bringing it to life for contemporary readers through the writing of biblical novels.

She has three grown up children: two sons and a daughter and lives with her husband in Tel-Aviv.

You can visit Eva at her website for more information about her books.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Paperback, 352 pages
February 26, 2008

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Source: Book received from author for review

In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.

Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life.

Filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, The Triumph of Deborah is the absorbing and riveting tale of one of the most beloved figures in the Old Testament, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence.

The third book in Eva Etzioni-Halevys novels featuring women of the Bible. This is biblical fiction at its best.

Three women, each from different worlds, have their lives thrown into turmoil by the Israelite warrior Barak.

Deborah, a prophetess and judge of Israel, offers him her body if he will take command of the Israelite warriors and defeat the Canaanites. When he does these things – she gives what she promised and falls for him.

Naava is a Canaanite princess – but not your traditional one. She is the daughter of the king and a woman he kept as a slave. She has worked as a slave her entire life. When Barak takes the castle and takes her as one of his captives he doesn’t know of her royal status. He takes her as one of his many lovers and Naava falls hard for him.

Asherah is also a Canaanite princess. She is beautiful and smart and married to the leader of the Canaanite warriors. Like her sister, Barak takes her as one of his captives and decides he is going to make her his wife. Unlike her sister, she does not fall for Barak but instead wants revenge for the loss of her husband.

The characters in the book were a mix of historical and fictional, but the way they are represented and described, you would never know which are which. Each character has a well developed back story, personality, desires, life. You develop an attachment to the characters and want what they want (I was especially attached to Asherah’s story, right from the beginning). I didn’t know anything about this period in time or the people in this book and like usual I went outside the text to find some background information. Interestingly, almost everything I found (from biblical texts as well as general internet searches) was included in the book. The author did an amazing job of keeping the book true to what is known to have happened while filling in the gaps history left behind.

These women are strong women. Each one faces hardships, tests of character, moral decisions – like each of us face every day. Even though these events took place a very long time ago – they are still relevant to today. Women still face similar hardship and can still respond in similar ways.

I have never been to the part of the world where this story is set, but the author takes careful time to describe it and it feels now like I have been there. It is so real to me and beautiful.

The author also has written The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth – both of which are Biblical fiction.  You can read a short interview that I did with the author here.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review: Smitten by Janet Evanovich

Smitten by Janet Evanovich
Unabridged, 4 hr. 56 mins.
Harper Audio
C. J. Critt (narrator)
July 19, 2006

Genre: Romance, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed Audiobook from Library

“Single mom Lizabeth Kane isn't exactly carpenter material -- she's never picked up a hammer in her life. But she desperately needs the construction job that builder Matt Hallahan is offering. And even though he knows trouble is ahead, Matt can't refuse Lizbeth's irresistible smile.

Matt Hallahan isn't exactly relationship material -- he has always been too busy working on other people's houses to make a home of his own. And even though she knows better, Lizabeth can't stop thinking about the rugged carpenter.

Is the relationship Matt and Lizabeth are building solid -- or more like a house of cards?”

Now this was what I was looking for in a romance and I found it in a very unexpected place (a random pull off of the library shelf)!

Lizbeth is a newly single mother of two young boys who needs to find a way to make a living. She tries looking everywhere – but she is either over or under qualified. She makes a last ditch, rash, effort and applies for a job as…a carpenter? Now who saw that coming?

Lizbeth does not make a great carpenter – but not for wont of trying. But…her boss is the gorgeous Matt Hallahan, whom she soon starts to fall for. The budding romance story is set amongst two energetic kids, a crazy Aunt Elsie who comes to stay for the summer, a flasher who is a repeat offender, a construction scene, and an ex husband who is looking for a power struggle. How will romance survive all of this?

I very much enjoyed this story. There were many comedic scenes that occur on the construction site. Aunt Elsie is the craziest character that I have seen in awhile. One of the things that made this book so enjoyable was that the emotions of the characters and the life that they were living through were so real! This was a very short book and it left me wanting more…to know what would happen next.

I also found what was lacking in the other romance novels that I read…ROMANCE! There were tasteful sex scenes and sweet, tender moments shared between the characters that kept it rooted in reality.

I would definitely read another one of Evanovich’s romances. You can read an excerpt from the first chapter of the book here for a taste of what the rest of the book is like .


C. J. Critt, the narrator, has a voice that at first can sort of grate on you nerves - at least that was what I thought - but as you go along you get used to it. She is also very talented at giving each character their own distinct voice and she really makes an already fun story more enjoyable.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Book Alert – Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman

Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman

Genre: Non-Fiction; Biography

Release Date: September 24, 2009 (UK)
September 2010 (US, I read this on TudorHistory.org)

Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd

From the inside book jacket:

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

This looks to be a wonderful look at the life of Elizabeth – from a slightly different perspective. When people look at the reign of Elizabeth they tend to focus on her relationship with Robert Dudley as well as the many potential suitors for her husband. This book looks at Elizabeth from the perspective of the influence that the women in her life had on her. There are some great reproductions of artwork included showing many of these women from her family as well as those she kept close and trusted.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this hardcover book from the author/publisher and received it a little over a week ago (thank you Tracy and Jonathan Cape Ltd). I know that some of you have made comments (Marie, lol) about me having a copy – but don’t feel too bad, I haven’t had the chance to read it yet – but it is up next on my list after I finish Cleopatra’s Daughter. I am very excited to read this because it will be my first non-fiction about Elizabeth.

If what I read is true and it isn’t going to be released in the US for another year, I would recommend using UK Book Depository to get the book – and they have free shipping!

You can check out Tracy Borman’s website for more information on Elizabeth’s Women as well as her previous book Henrietta Howard: King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick Fire Facts about Deborah

I put together a little list of quick facts about Deborah, the prophetess featured in The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy. There wasn't too much that I could find about her.

• She was a prophetess and Judge of the Old Testament
• She accompanied commander of the army, Barak, into battle
• Her story is told in the chapters 4 & 5 of the Book of Judges
• Chapter 5 – The Song of Deborah – is a poem
• She was married to Lappidoth
• She offered judgment to settle disputes while sitting under a Palm tree

Here is a link to the Book of Judges chapter 5 if you would like to read the poetic Song of Deborah.

Look for my review of The Triumph of Deborah and a short interview with the author to come this weekend!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Book Alert - Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Release Date: September 22, 2009

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

I just absolutely had to post about this book. I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy yet, but I have had the honor of hearing Libba read the first chapter. I got to meet her in May at a book event in Madison, CT for her earlier series, The Gemma Doyle trilogy. I couldn't stop laughing after the first few sentences.

"The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World. I’m sixteen now, so you can imagine that’s left me with quite a few days of major
Going Bovine is about a teenage boy, Cameron, who finds out he has the human version of Mad Cow. He goes on an amazing adventure with a dwarf, lawn gnome, and an angel to find a cure.

From what I have had the opportunity to hear, I think any teen or adult (male or female) can get a kick out of this. I know both my boyfriend and I are looking forward to reading it. I can't wait to get a copy!

You can read an excerpt of the first chapter of this book here. If you are not rolling on the floor laughing by the time you reach the end - then nothing will make you laugh!

Here is the book trailer for Going Bovine. You will get a real treat in Libba's personality!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday #13

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I really brought in a haul this week from so many different sources. I just cleaned off my shelves about a month ago, and now I need more space again - looks like I might need another bookcase - such a bad thing ;).

From the UK Book Depository - continuing my Plaidy collection
• The Heart of the Lion – Jean Plaidy
• The Prince of Darkness – Jean Plaidy

From Paperbackswap - continuing my Robin Maxwell collection
• Virgin: Prelude to the Throne – Robin Maxwell
• The Queen’s Bastard – Robin Maxwell
• The Nonesuch – Georgette Heyer
• Mademoiselle Boleyn – Robin Maxwell

From Authors/Publishers for Review
• Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger

From Blog Friends
• 1942 – Robert Conroy (from Sarah from Reading the Past)
• Troy: Fall of Kings (from Sarah from Reading the Past)
• The Golden Tulip – Rosaline Laker (received from Arleigh - to review)
• The Dark Lantern – Gerri Brightwell (received from Arleigh - to review)

That is my best week ever. How was your week - in mailbox terms?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book Review: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Unabridged, 8 hr. 14 min.
Recorded Books
Lisette Lecat (Narrator)
April 7, 2003

Genre: Mystery, Series, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed the Audiobook from Library
Working in a mystery tradition that will cause genre aficionados to think of such classic sleuths as Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner or Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee, Alexander McCall Smith creates an African detective, Precious Ramotswe, who's their full-fledged heir.

It's the detective as folk hero, solving crimes through an innate, self-possessed wisdom that, combined with an understanding of human nature, invariably penetrates into the heart of a puzzle. If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is the first in a series of 10 books focusing on the life of Precious Ramotswe and her fledgling detective agency in Botswana, Africa. When Mma Ramotswe’s father passes away and leaves her with a large sum of money she decides that she will open the first detective agency run by a woman in Botswana. As her clients begin to trickle in, and she has success at solving their problems, more and more people come to her for help. As well as solving mysteries Mma Ramotswe also interacts with the people who are in her life and they help her to grow as a person and to solve her cases.

One of the most interesting things about this book is that you learn so much about African culture and the beauty of the nature. Africa doesn’t usually end up in best selling fiction very often. I found myself engrossed in learning about the country of Botswana (I can name three cities, the capital, the border countries, major industry, and some basic history of the country). I also think this book is very much about the empowerment of women. Mma Ramotswe opens her own company in a male dominated world with a lot of pressure on her. She is able to solve mysteries others can’t, run her business, and still have a personal life at the same time.

I found myself very interested in all of the characters in the book. It took me awhile to remember all of their names – and how to pronounce them – but they were very well written, well rounded characters. While the early part of the story was a little slow going – I very much enjoyed the book. I found myself looking for the other audio books in the series at the library when I returned it (I think Tears of the Giraffe will be the next audio book I get, if it is there).

I would recommend this to anyone interested in some light mysteries (nothing like the James Patterson type mysteries, more local grown mysteries) as well as learning about the beautiful, rich, African culture.


As I was listening, I decided that it was a very good decision to choose this on audio book – I would have found myself too hung up on the pronunciation otherwise. The narrator is a native South African woman whose speech pattern lent itself perfectly to making the experience very real and almost palpable.

Author Alexander McCall Smith also has written several other books in the series: Tears of the Giraffe (#2), Morality for Beautiful Girls (#3), The Kalahari Typing School for Men (#4), The Full Cupboard of Life (#5), In The Company of Cheerful Ladies (#6), Blue Shoes and Happiness (#7), The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (#8), The Miracle at Speedy Motors (#9), Tea Time for the Traditional Built (#10), The Double Comfort Safari Club (#11), The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party (#12), and The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection (#13). You can visit the author’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, September 19, 2009

French Revolution Mini Challenge

I enjoy mini challeges - you get just a small dose of something and it feels so good to know that you made progress and finished something (which happens quicker this way). So I signed up for another challenge - but I think I'm going to wait until sometime in the new year to take this one on.

The French Revolution Mini Challenge is hosted by Becky at Mini Challenges Hosted by Becky.

The rules for this mini challenge are simple - read 2 books (or watch 2 movies) that are set during the French Revolution. The challenge runs from October 1, 2009 until December 31, 2010 (so there is plenty of time to get this done).

I haven't read much during the French Revolution - any suggestions of what I should read?
I will update this post as I go.
12/10/10 - So I decided that since I'm not going to read 2 books on the French Revolution during this year, I would make it 1 book and 1 movie.

1. The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent - Complete - book
2. Goya's Ghosts - Complete - movie

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen

Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Book 1 in Through a Glass Darkly series
Paperback, 544 pages
May 29, 2007
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Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Source: Personal Collection

Alice Verney is a young woman intent on achieving her dreams. Having left Restoration England in the midst of a messy scandal, she has been living in Louis XIV’s Baroque, mannered France for two years. Now she is returning home to England and anxious to re-establish herself quickly. First, she will regain her former position as a maid of honor to Charles II’s queen. Then she will marry the most celebrated duke of the Restoration, putting herself in a position to attain power she’s only dreamed of. As a duchess, Alice will be able to make or break her friends and enemies at will.

But all is not as it seems in the rowdy, merry court of Charles II. Since the Restoration, old political alliances have frayed, and there are whispers that the king is moving to divorce his barren queen, who some wouldn’t mind seeing dead. But Alice, loyal only to a select few, is devoted to the queen, and so sets out to discover who might be making sinister plans, and if her own father is one of them. When a member of the royal family dies unexpectedly, and poison is suspected, the stakes are raised. Alice steps up her efforts to find out who is and isn’t true to the queen, learns of shocking betrayals throughout court, and meets a man that she may be falling in love with—and who will spoil all of her plans. With the suspected arrival of a known poison-maker, the atmosphere in the court electrifies, and suddenly the safety of the king himself seems uncertain. Secret plots are at play, and war is on the horizon—but will it be with the Dutch or the French? And has King Charles himself betrayed his country for greed?

Dark Angels is a prequel to Through a Glass Darkly, and accordingly I read this first (but that was an accident. At the time I didn’t know there were other books by her). Set in the court of the licentious Charles II an amazing romance springs forth (what could be a better place to set a historical romance?). Alice Verney is the female protagonist – and an amazing heroine as well! She is a courtier to Queen Catherine of Braganza and plays the role of courtier well – sneaky, smart, well-connected. Her greatest goal in life is to marry the Duke of Balmoral – a very old man – she’s in it for the title and money of course. Yet somehow her attentions are turned by Richard Saylor, who is after Renee (Louise de Keroualle). Who will she choose and how will her ambitions play out?

Koen creates an amazing world and cast of characters who inhabit this world. She easily mixes real historical characters (Charles II, Queen Catherine, Duke of Balmoral etc) with characters of her imagination (Alice, Richard, etc) and even mixes a little of the real with imagination (Renee). I absolutely loved the character of Alice and she kept the story moving with many twists and turns – you are never really sure what she will do next!

I read this book quite a while ago – it was one of my early historical fiction reads. I must confess – I didn’t realize that the king in this book was Charles II while I was reading it. I am pretty sure I didn’t even know about Charles at that point – I think I would have enjoyed it even more had I read it recently (after reading The Merry Monarch’s Wife by Jean Plaidy).

Koen creates a vivid world and great characters that you can care about. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the antics of the court of Charles II or enjoys a great historical romance. I now have acquired her sequel (written before Dark Angels) Through a Glass Darkly and its sequel, Now Face to Face and am very excited to read both of them.
If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book or view the book trailer?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
Also by Karleen Koen:
through a glass darkly
Through a Glass Darkly (Book 2)
now face to face
Now Face to Face (Book 3)
before versailles
Before Versailles (Book 4)

Find Karleen Koen: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table - Interview with Arleigh of Historical-Fiction.com

Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing one of my friends in the blogging world, Arleigh from Historical-Fiction.com. She is a really wonderful person who always has interesting books that she has reviewed as well as other great events on her blog. And she has quite a Plaidy collection - what could be wrong with that. So without further adieu...

1. How long have you been blogging for and what got you started with blogging?
I’ve been blogging since 2004, but did not start a book blog until 2007. My previous blogs were personal blogs and I honestly can’t remember what I had to talk about, except being a young wife and mother or thoughts on graphics and web design. I was really into designing graphics with Paint Shop Pro and making websites for about 5 years, but when I began reading historical fiction and became somewhat obsessive about it, I decided to start a blog. At the time I didn’t even know there was an entire world of book blogs out there. Sadly I didn’t get very many visitors until this year, really. I think the book blogging culture has really expanded recently, plus I have made some amazing friends who send many visitors my way.

2. What was the first book that opened your eyes to the historical fiction genre?
I’ve probably written a dozen times on different articles – Philippa Gregory’s The Queen’s Fool is the book that caused my obsession. I was working at Borders Books and kept admiring the beautiful cover and that is what initially caused me to pick up the book. I was greatly intrigued because what I remembered of Queen Mary from childhood is that old tale that if you look in a mirror at midnight and say ‘Mary, Bloody Mary’ three times, she will appear. The Mary in this novel is so endearing and courageous; I felt I had to do some research to find out how much of the history was true. Seeing the events that were fact come together to make a really good story really enthralled me and I wanted more. I read the rest of Gregory’s Tudor novels, then moved on to Robin Maxwell, and finally my favorite author, Jean Plaidy. I’ve read many authors since, but Jean Plaidy remains my favorite due to her accuracy, characterization and writing style.

3. What are some of the best things/favorite things about blogging?
Connecting with others if definitely the highlight of blogging. Sometimes I post things that are mediocre to me, but other’s find useful or entertaining. You never know who is reading your blog, and I have been surprised by an author visiting many times.

4. Is there a particular area of historical fiction that you enjoy reading about the most?
I was really into the Tudors for a long time, but I’ve been burned out lately. Right now I’m enjoying early medieval fiction, Stuart England, French Revolution and Regency. I’m reading Jean Plaidy’s Plantagenet sage right now and I’m having a hard time putting the books down! I am on book 3, The Heart of the Lion. These are eras that I’ve not read too much about, so I am really enjoying learning about the early kings and queens of England.

5. What is one thing that you are looking forward to/want to do on your blog before the end of the year?
I would love to have more guest posts and author interviews. Those are the most exciting posts to me, because it is bringing professionals into my little hobby and it excites me to no end.

Thanks Arleigh for those great answers to my questions. Now here is her guest post on Eleanor of Aquitaine!

Eleanor of Aquitaine: Mother of a Dynasty

I’ve been reading quite a bit about this lady lately and, as her life was filled with much drama and excitement, she makes the perfect character for historical fiction. Eleanor was the eldest daughter of Duke William X of Aquitaine, who died on pilgrimage to a shrine for the sole reason of expiating his sins and being blessed with a male heir. He did not want to displace Eleanor, but felt it was necessary because he believed, strong-willed though she was, only a man could hold Aquitaine. How wrong he was! He passed away when she was only 15 years old, and as arranged before her father’s death, she married the King of France’s son, Louis the Younger.

Coming from the ‘Courts of Love’ where poetry and song were deeply revered, Eleanor found the French court coarse and none to her liking. Her father-in-law the King, Louis the Fat, died soon after her marriage and she became the Queen of France. She tried to make the courts like those of her duchy, but became bored soon enough. She was a woman of sexual appetites and Louis, who had been destined for the church before his older brother died, did not satisfy her needs. However, while she enjoyed poetry and songs of love, she did realize the need to get an heir for France, and did not stray from her husband’s bed. There were many childless years before their first child, a daughter, came along. By this time Eleanor had grown very domineering and had led her husband to wars he did not want to fight, one of which occasioned the burning of a church with many innocent people inside. He therefore felt a great need to take the cross and go on crusade to Jerusalem, which basically wiped out all past sins.

Eleanor treated the crusade like a great adventure. She brought many ladies and their gowns, jewels and comforts, which slowed the party down considerably. There were many mishaps on the way, and once they made it as far as Antioch, they decided to take respite with Eleanor’s uncle Raymond, who was the Prince of Antioch through his marriage.
Eleanor scandalously found herself smitten with her uncle and started an affair. She also allegedly had a fling with the Muslim Saladin, who visited Raymond’s court on a temporary truce. This was known to Louis, and though he was very disappointed, he loved her still and forced her to move on to their goal of Jerusalem. After they finally made it to Jerusalem, and stayed yet another year, they were ready to head home. Eleanor was very distant from Louis, nursing the wounds of being taken away from her lovers. They were to take ships home, and Eleanor would not travel on the same one as Louis. They both had a troublesome time; Eleanor’s ship was tossed and turned and landed at the wrong port, while Louis was captured and released. They both finally met in Italy where the Pope had a talk with them and actually put them in the marriage bed together, that they might make an heir to the throne of France. Soon after they got home Eleanor gave birth to another girl.

It is around this time that she met Henry, 11 years her junior, and was overwhelmed by his powerful personality. Though he was only Duke of Normandy at the time, he had his eyes on England, with a strong claim, as his mother was the old King’s only legitimate heir. King
Stephen, who took her crown, was a cousin. The Pope was afraid to offend a man with so much power, and so the next time he was approached by Eleanor for a divorce he allowed it. After avoiding more than one abduction attempt Eleanor made it back to Aquitaine and summoned Henry. They married and were very happy – for a while.

Over the next 15 years Eleanor gave birth to eight children, five boys and three girls (though once source says there was another son named Philip). Henry was openly promiscuous and this caused many stormy fights between the couple. He kept one affair secret, because he was in love with her – his fair Rosamund. He wanted to protect her from Eleanor’s wrath, so he hid her in a bower in the center of a hedge maze near one of his castles. Eleanor did discover her, however, and this was the breaking point in their marriage. She removed herself to Aquitaine, taking their son Richard, who would become its Duke. She spent the next few years fueling the hate her sons all had for their father. Once open rebellion broke out, Eleanor was captured by Henry and sent to exile in one of his fortress castles in England. There she remained for the next 16 years, until Henry’s death.

Though she was at this time in her late sixties, there was much more to Eleanor’s life. She helped Richard rule, collected his bride from Navarre, and on a separate mission she crossed the mountains to Castile to deliver one of her granddaughters to the French Daphin for marriage. When Richard passed away, she supported her son John over her grandson Arthur, and as a result the castle she was occupying was besieged by Arthur. John came to her rescue and she then retired to Fontevraud Abbey, where she died 4 years later. She was 82 years old.
You can find an amazing giveaway – A signed copy of The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, a copy of The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives, and an Anne Boleyn hand mirror over at Arleigh’s blog – hurry though, it ends September 18th!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW Meme & HistFic Blogger Round Table Update

I know I am a little late on posting these today, but I figured better late than never!
I love answering these short questions, it is a great way to get to know each other.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
I don’t snack because I am usually reading in bed before I go to sleep – and that is not a good time to eat.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I don’t usually write in my books – I keep a small notebook on my side table so I can jot down stuff I want to look up or blog about.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmark, I have recently fallen in love with the pretty metal ones with the beads that dangle from it and have a quote inscribed on it.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Both, but more fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Up until a couple months ago it would have been hardcopy all the way. Any books that are historical fiction or that I will want to keep are in hard copy – anything to just listen to in the car to take up time I borrow from the library on audio.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I really try to get to the end of a chapter – I hate stopping in the middle.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
No, I jot it in the above mentioned notebook to look up at the end of the book.

What are you currently reading?
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

What is the last book you bought?
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
I usually try to do one hard copy book and one audio book. More than 1 of each confuses me.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
I prefer to read at night – unless there is nothing else to do, but I can read anywhere.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I prefer to read stand alones, but if I find a good series I will read it.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
I try to keep them in order by size, but keep authors together.

Now an update from todays Round Table...

Today Lucy was hosted over at Passages to the Past by Amy, and Lizzy was hosted at historical-fiction.com. There are some amazing giveaways being hosted around the blogosphere and you can check out the links to many of them by clicking on the pictures of my blog sidebar.

Tomorrow I will be hosting Arleigh here at The Maiden's Court with an interview and a guest post about Eleanor of Equitaine - so stay tuned!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Happy Birthday to Me!

This has nothing to do with BBAW or Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table but today is my birthday! I am 22 today - it doesn't feel much different than yesterday but I always love my birthday. And I got almost all my presents already, haha. I think I'm going out to dinner this weekend with my family - since my boyfriend works tonight. Just thought I would share!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Interview with Mel from The Reading Life

As part of the BBAW celebrations I am taking part in interviewing another fellow blogger across the world from me. Mel’s blog is called The Reading Life and you can check it out here. My hope is that you will learn a little something about this blogger and find that his blog is something you might enjoy. So without further adiu…

1. How long have you been blogging for and what got you started with blogging?
I started my book blog on July 7, 2009. I had been reading book blogs for a few months prior to then. I wanted to start a blog with a theme - not just random reflections on what I read. I decided after reading "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" By Muriel Barberry that my blog would center on literary treatments of the lives of reading centered people. I admit it also random reflections on what I read!

2. What are some of the things you like about blogging and the blogging community?
I like how friendly and helpful everyone in the community seems to be. I like learning about a lot of new books I might never have heard of otherwise. I like being taken out of my reading comfort zone.

3. What is one thing that you want to do on your blog before the end of the year?
I want to increase my skills at blog design and perhaps adopt a 2 or 3 column template.

4. Please describe your blog in only a few words.
My blog centers in theory on novels that show the role reading plays in the lives of reading centered people. I also am now expanding beyond my purely Euro-Centered reading life into Asian Literature and will be blogging about a number of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and S.E. Asian novels.

5. What is your favorite period in history to read about and what draws you to that period?
My favorite period is the 18th Century. I like it because it has one foot in the medieval world and one foot in the modern world. I started out, many years ago specializing in 18th century English culture but now I have a worldwide interest in this period.

6. Who would you like to meet from history and interview for your blog?
Samuel Johnson as I see him as the perfect reader.

7. Where is your favorite place to read and why?
I like to read in a special super comfortable chair in our main room. Sometimes when our three daughters come home I do retreat to a couch in the master bedroom.

8. What book do you consider to be your all time favorite?
My favorite book of all time is "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon.

9. What gave you your love for books and reading (was it a certain book, person, event)?
I think I got my love of reading from my parents, but I am not sure.

10. What is another hobby that you like to do when not reading or blogging?
I like photography, travel, trying out new food and spending time with my wife, daughters and cats.

Thanks so much Mel for those great answers to my questions. Please check it out!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Book 2 in the Tudor Court series
Paperback, 664 pages
June 4, 2003
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Collection

"Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her familys ambitious plots as the kings interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands."
In the vein of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table I decided to post my review of the book that got me interested in historical fiction as a genre. It wasn’t the first historical fiction book that I read but it was the one I loved the most.

The Other Boleyn Girl is told from the viewpoint of Mary Boleyn – the “other” Boleyn sister, sister to Anne the future Queen of England. There is a focus on the life of the relatively little known Mary as well as the tale of Anne’s ascendency and fall. Mary is initially chosen as mistress to Henry VIII – a role that she is pushed into by her family. When the star seems to be shining on Anne – the family throws Mary aside in favor of Anne. Even though Mary is not the star of the family anymore, they still seek to control her every move – when she marries someone that is not approved of they lash out at her. Even though Anne constantly mistreats her sister, she still comes back to her.

The story of Anne Boleyn is a much told story – but seeing it from the eyes of her sister puts her story into a very different perspective – sort of how I felt about reading about Anne from the eyes of her daughter Elizabeth in The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell. I loved the compassion and general down-to-earthness of Mary, even when the world was spinning out of control. She was a constant character that you could connect with and anchor to in a turbulent world.

Gregory DOES change many events in the book from what is known to have really happened as well as embellished the real story in favor of the best told story. The good thing about this though, is that this is Historical Fiction and that is what I expect. If you are looking for true facts, check out a non-fiction book, but for a good story, try this on for size.

I couldn’t put this book down and as soon as I finished it I picked up The Boleyn Inheritance, the next in the series.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Philippa Gregory:
Author Philippa Gregory also has written many other books – those among the Tudor Court series include:
constant princess
The Constant Princess (Book 1)
[My Review]
The Boleyn Inheritance (Book 3)
The Queen's Fool (Book 4)
the virgins lover
The Virgin's Lover (Book 5)
The Other Queen (Book 6)
Other Philippa Gregory books I have reviewed:


Find Philippa Gregory: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court