*UPDATE*

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!

Here is a quick sticky link to my Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge and Read-a-Thon.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading Wrap Up 2009

I just finished tallying up the number of books I have read this year and am shocked with my total of 47! This number includes regular books as well as audio books. When I started blogging I thought I might read 20, so this blows me away. Here are the books I read this year with links to those that I did reviews for (in case you missed them!). I marked my favorite reads of the year with a star.

~*The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
~The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
~Rose Without A Thorn by Jean Plaidy (somehow I forgot to review this one - look for it in early 2010)
~The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
~Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner
~*Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
~The Dangerous Book For Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
~Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
~Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
~Madame Serpent by Jean Plaidy
~*The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
~1st to Die by James Patterson
~Eve by Elissa Elliott
~Rage by Jerry Langton
~*The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
~Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker
~2nd Chance by James Patterson
~Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel
~The Merry Monarch's Wife by Jean Plaidy
~The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
~Coraline by Neil Gaiman
~Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
~The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
~*The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
~The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
~Smitten by Janet Evanovich
~The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
~*Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
~Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
~Elizabeth's Women by Tracey Borman
~*Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
~Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
~*The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
~Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
~The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker
~3rd Degree by James Patterson
~Going Bovine by Libba Bray
~4th of July by James Patterson
~*O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell - (Look for the review during the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event in January)
~The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
~The Shadow of the Pomegranate by Jean Plaidy
~*Thirsty by Kristin Bair-O'Keeffe
~The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
~The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
~Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
~Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll - (Look for the review during the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event in January)
~My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Book Alert - The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent

The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: December 29, 2009


“On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil - as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home... (from back cover of ARC)”
From the first day that I heard about this book I was so excited to read it. I entered a giveaway for the book, was subsequently offered to review the book by the author, and then won the book (which I didn’t accept). It was like fate was telling me to read this book. I am just over page 100 right now and am LOVING it! There is a love story that I know will come bursting out sometime soon and I am very much enjoying learning about dollmaking. It is a unique twist and a different way to look at French (and English) society around the French Revolution. I always seem to enjoy books more that have a fictional main character in historical fiction novels. It lets you see the world from the outside. I can’t wait to finish it. So far I definitely recommend it!

My review will be here in about a week, but in the meantime for a review of the book, check out Lizzy’s review at Historically Obsessed.

You can also read an excerpt from the book here on Christine Trent's website.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Challenge Wrap Up

I took part in 7 challenges this year – from May until December. These challenges helped me really get involved in the blogging community and introduced me to new genres of books, authors, and media that I might not have experienced. Below are the challenges that I finished in 2009 as well as the challenges that began this year and will run into next year.

2009 Jean Plaidy Challenge – hosted by Plaidy’s Royal Intrigue – I managed to read 4 Plaidy books this year: A Rose Without A Thorn, The Merry Monarch’s Wife, Madame Serpent, The Shadow of the Pomegranate. I have bought many of her books this year and hope to read more next year.

2009 Read and Review Challenge – hosted by MizB’s Reading Challenges – I read and reviewed 40 books this year, 2 of these I wrote reviews for but they will not be posted until 2010 when the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table hosts the events for that book. This challenge really got me into the habit of reviewing the books I read.

2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge – hosted by ReadingWise – I chose to read 10 of my own books, which at the time I started the challenge seemed like a stretch for me, but not so! I am doing this challenge again next year because I haven’t had much time to read my own books with all my reviewing. I hope to read some of the stock on my shelves.

The Four Month Challenge – hosted by Virginie Says… - I completed all 250 points of this challenge, which was really difficult. I only finished it on the last day. It was fun getting to experience all of the different categories. I am partaking in the second part of this challenge currently; it is fun but a little more challenging this time around. I don’t know how far I will get.

2009 Audiobook Challenge – hosted by J.Kaye’s Book Blog – I had never listened to an audiobook when I started this challenge. Now audiobooks have become my best friends. I have an hour car ride in each direction for work. With the audiobooks I am able to read other genres that I don’t have time to read with my precious time devoted to historical fiction. I am now never without one. I finished all 12 audiobooks quickly. I am participating in this challenge again in 2010, when it is hosted by The Royal Reviews.

A Well Rounded Challenge – hosted by So Many Precious Books, So Little Time – this challenge was a wrap up challenge to try to complete other challenges I was doing. It didn’t take me long to finish this challenge, but it was fun.

August Reading Challenge – hosted by Pizza’s Book Discussions – during the month of August I read 7 books, including audiobooks. That was my best reading month ever.

The challenges that I am participating in for 2010 are:
Women’s Murder Club Challenge – hosted by Socrates’ Book Reviews
Period Drama Challenge – hosted by Lights, Camera…History!
French Revolution Mini Challenge – hosted by Mini Challenges Hosted by Becky
Four Month Challenge Part 2 – hosted by Virginie Says…
2010 Read Your Own Books Challenge – hosted by MizB’s Reading Challenges
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge – hosted by The Royal Reviews
2010 Audio Book Challenge – hosted by The Royal Reviews
2010 ARC Reading Challenge – hosted by So Many Precious Books, So Little Time




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #23 - The Christmas Edition

This is Mailbox Monday, The Christmas Edition. This week's book did not arrive in my mailbox, but I bought it at Borders with Christmas money.

I bought the audiobook Going Rogue by Sarah Palin. Something about listening to this, read by the author, makes me feel like I will enjoy it more than just reading it. I just started it today.

I hope your mailbox/Christmas gifts were more exciting than mine.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory

Happy Holidays everyone! I will be away until Sunday immersed in the Christmas festivities with my boyfriend's and my families. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow! I thought. I would leave you with a review of one of my favorite Philippa Gregory books.
 

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory
Paperback, 504 pages
Touchstone
February 3, 2004
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Collection

A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.
It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires. 
Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen's Fool is another rich and emotionally resonant gem from this wonderful storyteller.

Hannah Green is the daughter of a Jewish book maker living in London. While trying to keep a low profile, Hannah tells the young King Edward that she sees golden gates behind him and he declares that she should be his holy fool. Hannah is quickly thrown into the world of court politics. She becomes enamored with Lord Robert Dudley, her protector at court, and at the same time is betrothed to Daniel Carpenter. She is constantly in conflict – torn between Elizabeth and Mary, Robert and Daniel, her religious beliefs and her safety, among others. Hannah must make crucial decisions that will affect her life as well as those around her as she moves through the courtly inner circles.

Hannah Green is a fictional character living in the Tudor period and interacting with very real characters. This is the first book in the Tudor series of books that I have read where the narrator is not a real historical character. I really enjoyed this though. I loved how Hannah has a conscience and we get to watch her grow up over the years that take place in this novel. She starts out as someone who is controlled pretty easily and over time develops her own sense of self and decides what she really wants out of life. I really enjoyed the love story that developed throughout. Hannah is not one dimensional - she handles conflict and wavers back and forth in what she should do. I really connected with Hannah and I think that having a fictional character weave her way through the historical courts allowed the reader to see the world from an outsider’s perspective.

One thing that I enjoyed about this novel is that Hannah lived in the courts of Edward, Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. I hadn’t read any fiction that really included Edward at all. It was interesting to see him interacting with Hannah and then see what happened after he died. You also had the opportunity to see how things changed at time moved on.

Another great read from Philippa Gregory.


Philippa Gregory also has written several other Tudor set books including: The Constant Princess, The Other Bolyen Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance, The Virgin's Lover, and The Other Queen.  You can visit Gregory's website for additional information about the books. 
 
My other reviews of the author's works:

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, December 19, 2009

Winner of The Other Boleyn Girl

Hello everyone! We had a great turnout for The Other Boleyn Girl giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered.Thanks to random.com our winner is Jennifer! I am sending you an email now.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox


The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
Mass Market Paperback, 292 pages
Lovespell
July 29, 2008
★★★★☆

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Source: Personal Collection

"Newly anointed with demon-fighting powers and suddenly able to hear the thoughts of her hilarious Jack Russell terrier, a preschool teacher finds a whole new world of dark and dangerous, including a sexy shape-shifting griffin she's not entirely sure she can trust."

The Accidental Demon Slayer is the first book in a 5 book series about Lizzie, a preschool teacher, who’s motorcycle riding grandmother shows up at her house and a demon appears on her toilet soon after. Lizzie is suddenly thrust into this world of witches, spells, demons, her dog talks and most importantly demon slayers. Her grandmother is suddenly taken hostage by a powerful demon and Lizzie must quickly learn how she can save her. Oh, and did I mention, Lizzie has the hots for a very good looking shape shifter named Dimetri?

This is the second book that I have read by Angie Fox – I read the second book, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers first. You can read my review of that book here. Both of these books are so much fun. Lizzie has no idea what is happening in her new world and it is hilarious watching her try. Her grandmother and her group of biker witches are a hoot. The sexual tension between Lizzie and Dimetri is sizzling – exactly what I am looking for in a romance. Fox writes with a witty humor and has a solid understanding of the paranormal world. A delicious break from historical fiction.

The third book in this series, A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, will be released January 26, 2010. I will have an interview with Angie and a giveaway around that time, so stay tuned! Angie is such a sweet person.

Angie Fox also has written several other books in this ongoing series including: A Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, and The Last of the Demon Slayers.  You can read the first chapter of The Accidental Demon Slayer here and visit Angie’s website for all kinds of fun things.

My other reviews of this author's works:


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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

HerStoria Spotlight - Isabella Bird

One of the articles in the second issue of HerStoria Magazine is about the Victorian traveler – Isabella Bird. Not only was her life fascinating – but she caught my eye for another reason, I will expand upon later.

Women in the Victorian period were not expected to be world travelers, but that was exactly what Isabella Bird was. Isabella grew up in a religious household, with her father as a minister. Isabella had a great relationship with her father and he fostered her love of traveling – even if it was just a drive down the street. Isabella was often sick with various problems, and the thing that always seemed to make her better was travel. She would say that when she would return home from one trip or another, her ills would return.

Over her long life she visited many places: America, Canada, Sandwich Islands, Japan, South America, and Korea, among other places. Not only did she travel to these places, but she wrote about all of her travels too. Her books told of places to go, what the geography was like, the composition of the population, religion, political trends. She really discussed all elements of culture and nature.

Some of her books include:
The Englishwoman in America
A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains
Unbeaten Tracks in Japan
Korea and Her Neighbors

Isabella’s love of travel really uprooted her from the traditional view of Victorian women of the time. Her sister, Hennie, took the domestic route – which was something Isabella didn’t want. She did eventually get married, to a doctor – but that didn’t last long as he died a few years later. Isabella became a household name and grew up out of the role expected of her.

I was first introduced to Isabella Bird while reading the play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill for my Women’s Lit class in college. The first act of this play has several historical women getting together to talk about their lives. Among them there is: Pope Joan (also the first time I heard of her), Isabella Bird, Dull Gret (from a painting by Pieter Brueghel), Lady Nijo (a Japanese mistress of the Emperor) and Patient Grielda (from The Canterbury Tales). With many of these women being from literature, I figured Isabella Bird was too, but I was shocked to find out she was a great woman. I really enjoyed this play and would recommend it as it is a quick read.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Movie Trailer - The Young Victoria

If you haven't heard the buzz about the new movie The Young Victoria you have to have been living under a rock. The usual tale told of Queen Victoria is of the dowdy older woman who was perpetually in mourning. This is not that Victoria. This Victoria is young, in love, and new to her crown. Emily Blunt (from The Devil Wears Prada fame) plays Victoria, while Rupert Friend plays Prince Albert. From the reviews I have read so far the movie is fairly close to real life - and Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson was one of the producers.



For those of us in the United States, The Young Victoria opens to limited theatres on this Friday - December 18, 2009 then to a wider audience. I am so jealous of all of you who live overseas and have been able to see the movie already. If any one gets to see the movie during this limited release, please drop a comment and let me/us know what you think.

For those of us that have to wait - take some time to check out this interview with Sarah, Duchess of York about the movie.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mailbox Monday #23

I have a love/hate relationship with Mailbox Monday. I love it because my TBR grows - but I hate it because my TBR grows, haha.

Here is what I got this week:

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick (from publisher Sourcebooks for Review)
The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent (from author for review)
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwich (purchased from Amazon hopefully to read before my review of The Scarlet Lion)

This post might be edited because as of 5:30 PM Monday my mail is still not here. Did anything good come in your mailbox?




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ARC Reading Challenge

The ARC Reading Challenge is hosted by Teddy Rose at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time. This challenge runs from January 2, 2010 until December 30, 2010. I think that this challenge is perfect for me because I am going to have many ARC's to read this year - due to the Round Table! I'm not going to pick a level, but I will update the level as I go along. I am at least Bronze Level B.

Here are the rules:
1. List all of the ARC's that you have to read right now. Then throughout the year, you must continue updating that list as you receive more ARC's. (This is important). You should also strike out the ones that you finish.

2. The Levels

Level Bronze: .a. All of us who have or will have less than 12 ARC's must read all of the ARC's we have. Note, that if you have 11 ARC's and then receive a 12th one you will be bumped up to catagory a.

b. All of us who have or will have more than 12 ARC's must read and review 12.

Level Silver: Read 24 ARC's

Level Gold: Read 25 or more ARC's

3. You don't have to make a list of which ARC's you plan to read, but you can if you want.

If you choose a lower level, you can always change it to a higher level if you like. However, you cannot go from a higher level back down to a lower level.

4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and Audio-books are allowed as long as they are ARC's.

5. Read the books and review them on your blog. If you don't have a blog, you can post your review on sites like Powells, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

6. Please subscribe to her blog, as she will be doing a monthly post with MR Linky. Please add your reviews for each month in MR Linky in her monthly post.

Here is my list of books:
1. Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott
2. The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell
3. The Harlot's Progress: Yorkshire Molly by Peter Mottley
4. The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent
5. The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin
6. The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
7. The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen
8. Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
9. The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
10. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner
11. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
12. Roeing Oakes by Kristina Emmons
13. Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes
14. By Fire, By Water by Mitchell Kaplan
15. Prima Donna by Megan Chance
16. Alphatudes by Michele Wahlder
17. Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton
18. Wild Romance by Chloe Schama
19. The Revolutionary Paul Revere by Joel Miller
20. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
21. Watermark by Vanith Sankaran
22. For the King by Catherine Delors
23. Great Maria by Cecelia Holland
24. For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick
25. Heart of Lies by M. L. Malcolm
26. Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
27. Industrial Pioneers by Patrick Brown
28. What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen
29. Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley
30. The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott
31. The Forever Queen by Hellen Hollick
32. Penelope's Daughter by Laurel Corona
33. The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes
34. Blood and Silk by Carol McKay
35. The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason
36. Princess of Nowhere by Lorenzo Borghese
37. A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent
38. The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson
39. Queen Hereafter by Susan Frasier King



Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: Thirsty by Kristin Bair-O'Keeffe


Thirsty by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe
Hardcover, 208 pages
Swallow Press
September 29, 2009
★★★★★

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: From Publisher for Review
"It is 1883, and all of Klara Bozic’s girlish dreams have come crashing down as she arrives in Thirsty, a gritty steel town carved into the slopes above the Monongahela River just outside of Pittsburgh. She has made a heartbreaking discovery. Her new husband Drago is as abusive as the father she left behind in Croatia.
In Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s debut novel, Klara’s life unfolds over forty years as she struggles to find her place in a new country where her survival depends on the friends who nurture her: gutsy, funny Katherine Zupanovic, who isn’t afraid of Drago’s fist; BenJo, the only black man in Thirsty to have his own shop; and strangely enough, Old Man Rupert, the town drunk.
Thirsty follows a chain of unlikely events that keep Klara’s spirit aloft: a flock of angelic butterflies descends on Thirsty; Klara gives birth to her first child in Old Man Rupert’s pumpkin patch; and BenJo gives her a talking bird. When Klara’s daughter marries a man even more brutal than Drago, Klara is forced to act. If she doesn’t finally break the cycle of violence in her family, her granddaughters will one day walk the same road, broken and bruised. As the threads that hold her family together fray and come undone, Klara has to decide if she has the courage to carve out a peaceful spot in the world for herself and her girls."
Thirsty follows the life of Klara Bozic as she immigrates to a small town, Thirsty, from her home in Croatia. The story evolves over 40 years of her life. She meets her husband, Drago, and he seems like the dream of every young girl – until they get to America. Once there, he becomes abusive toward Klara and the façade crumbles. As the cycle begins to repeat for her daughter, Sky, Klara knows that something has to be done.

This book spans the time period from 1883 to 1919. The steel boom is underway and it was fascinating to learn about how these small towns thrived around the factories. The people that lived there were completely ruled by the factory. One of the things that was very interesting to me was the death whistle. This whistle went off every time that someone was killed in the factory – and all of the women in town would walk down to the factory to learn who it was. How sad! This book was so well researched – right down to all of the little details.

I immediately was drawn into Klara’s life – her story was the story of many immigrant women who came to the United States. Domestic abuse was common and many dreamed of finding something better. I loved how O’Keeffe followed Klara as she evolved from a naïve young girl, moved into a broken, shell of herself, and then became empowered by the desire to break the cycle. O’Keeffe created a foil character for her in her neighbor Katherine. Katherine was an immigrant woman too, but her husband was a perfect husband. He would even run over to break up fights at the Bozic household!

This book was immediately absorbing and I didn’t want it to end. I loved that this book really made me feel much closer to my family heritage – which is a new feeling for me because I never really put much thought into it before.

You can visit Kristin's blog or 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?  You can also check out this trailer.
 
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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pittsburgh - A City of Steel

I recently read the novel, Thirsty by Kristin Bair-O’Keeffe which tells the story of one woman’s life in a tiny Pittsburgh suburb during the time of the steel boom. My review will be forthcoming but I loved this book. My family is originally from Pittsburgh and I spent several weeks there this summer for job training. Reading this book made me feel very connected with the city and the culture. This post will explore the history of Pittsburgh and steel a little as well as show some pictures of the city during the steel age. I unfortunately did not take any pictures of the city while I was there.

The steel boom in Pittsburgh started around the 1850’s and really blossomed during the Civil War when steel and iron were in high demand. As a result of the steel industry the railroad industry increased. Many of the employees at these steel plants were immigrants from Germany and of other eastern European descent. My family was a part of this tradition – coming over from Germany and working in the steel factories.

The city was a very dirty place because of all of the smoke from coal burning factories and the railroads. The rich would live on the eastern part of the city to avoid the wind blowing the soot – this area was dubbed “Millionaire’s Row”. Many of the middle class people lived up on the hillside of Pittsburgh, while most of the factories were down along the rivers – the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River meet to form the Ohio River. Today there is a beautiful fountain at the point where these two rivers meet – it was a great place to sit on a hot summer day and such a wonderful view.

In order to get the workers down from the hillside to the factories, the city created “inclines” – that would bring people up and down the hillside for a small fare. There are still 2 of these in operation today – the Monongahela Incline and Duquesne Incline. I had the opportunity to ride the Duquesne incline and there is an amazing view of the rivers from up there. Many people still use these on a daily basis.

The steel boom in Pittsburgh began its decline in the mid 1950’s. There were many things that led to the decline – the end of WWII, the pollution of the city, labor unions and disputes, among other things. There are very few steel factories remaining in the city today and the city underwent a huge revitalization effort. The city today is beautiful – one of the cleanest cities I have seen. There are many beautiful fountains and parks that make it hard to believe it was once very polluted.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Pittsburgh. I enjoyed my trip there and after reading this book I feel much more connected to the hometown of my family.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mailbox Monday #22

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I only received 1 book this week - but there are many more coming.

• Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carrol from the publisher (another book for an upcoming Round Table Event in January)

Anything good arrive in your mailbox?




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2010 Audio Book Challenge

The ladies at Royal Reviews are hosting several challenges this year and the 2010 Audio Book Challege is one of them. I had joined this challenge for 2009 and had so much fun with it. I use audio books to simply pass the time on my hour long drive to work. Last year the challenge was to read 12, which I passed quickly. So this year I am going to go straight for the Obsessed level - read 20 audio books.

Here are the rules:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious – Listen to 3 Audio Books.

-- Fascinated – Listen to 6 Audio Books.

-- Addicted – Listen to 12 Audio Books.

-- Obsessed – Listen to 20 Audio Books.

3. Audio books only.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

I will update this list as I go.

1. Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
2. Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
3. Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich
4. Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich
5. Mercy by Jodi Picoult
6. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
7. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
8. Naughty Neighbor by Janet Evanovich
9. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
10. Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich
11. Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
12. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
13. A Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich
14. Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
15. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
16. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
17. The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson
18. 5th Horseman by James Patterson
19. 6th Target by James Patterson
20. 7th Heaven by James Patterson




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, December 4, 2009

Giveaway - The Other Boleyn Girl

Giveaway of The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I think I have mentioned before that the book that really got me into reading historical fiction was The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Regardless of the liberties that she takes with the historical part of the story, the world she creates is amazing. I still consider her one of my favorite authors.

I was at my library the other day checking out the book sale shelves and I found a paperback copy of the book and it is in fabulous condition. I jumped at it immediately for my next giveaway. Here are the details:

Giveaway is open to the United States and Canada and a winner will be chosen December 19, 2009.

To enter:
• Post a comment with your email address
• Tweet [@dolleygurl] about this giveaway for +1 entry
• Post on you blog sidebar for +1 entry
• Become a follower (or already be a follower) for +1 entry

Good luck everyone!




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: The Shadow of the Pomegranate by Jean Plaidy


The Shadow of the Pomegranate by Jean Plaidy
AKA: Katherine of Aragon Compilation
The Tudor Series
 
Unabridged, 8 hr. 48 min.
Blackstone Audiobooks Inc.
Anne Flosnick (Narrator)
September 1, 2008
★★★☆ ☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed from Arleigh @ Historical-Fiction.com
“Whilst the young King Henry VIII basks in the pageants and games of his glittering court, his doting queen's health and fortunes fade. Henry's affection for his older wife soon strays, and the neglected Katherine decides to use her power as Queen to dangerous foreign advantage.
 
Overseas battles play on Henry's volatile temper, and his defeat in France has changed the good-natured boy Katherine loved into an infamously callous ruler. With no legitimate heir yet born, Katherine once again begins to fear for her future...”
The Shadow of the Pomegranate is the second part of the three book series about Katherine of Aragon. It spans the time period from shortly after Katherine’s marriage to Henry up until shortly after the birth of Henry’s son with Bessie Blount. This is the true heart and soul of the story of Henry and Kate.

One of the things that I enjoyed was the way the story of Bessie Blount was described. The feeling that I had gotten about her before what that she wasn’t really anyone. This story made her feel like more of a person and understand what Henry might have seen in her and how he could have rationalized his liaison (not that I really liked her). Another significant part of the novel was the viewpoints of Emperor Maximilian and King Ferdinand of Spain. I hadn’t read anything up to this point that had shown an outsider perspective of him. It does seem that they really did use him for their own ends. I enjoyed the depiction of Katherine in this book – she was angry and outspoken about his affairs. Although my all time favorite characterization of Katherine still has to be in The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory.

Although this is part of a trilogy, this book works well as a stand-alone – especially if you know anything about the relationship between Henry and Katherine.
 
Author Philippa Gregory also has written scores of other novels.  The other books in The Tudor Series include: Uneasy Lies the Head, Katherine the Virgin Widow, The King’s Secret Matter, Murder Most Royal, St. Thomas’s Eve, The Sixth Wife, The Thistle and the Rose, Mary, Queen of France, The Spanish Bridegroom, and Gay Lord Robert. 

★★★★☆

As this is an audio book, commentary on the narrator is a must. This narrator was very good. She had very convincing accents for the French, English, and Spanish characters. It added a whole new feel to everyone and helped keep the people straight. I really enjoy it when the narrator really gets into the character and their emotions.

My other reviews of this author's books:

 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
 
Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, The Book Depository.
 
 



Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Announcing Love Games - O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

Hey everyone! I wanted to announce a couple of things today.

First of all, Robin Maxwell's new blog, Love Games, for O, Juliet is now in full swing. Stop on by frequently between now and Valentine's Day for some awesome content. There is a sneak peak (click image below) from the book posted on her website. There will also be games, contests, chats, and all sorts of fun leading up to the release. I have had the opportunity to read this book and it is fabulous, you do not want to miss this one!

Photobucket

Now for the second announcement. You may have noticed back in September that myself and 7 other bloggers started something called the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table. We had so much fun doing this that we decided to make it a regular thing. We have our own website (click the button below) now and are planning on spotlighting (for a week) new books that we love with some awesome events of our own. O, Juliet happens to be the first book we will be spotlighting. So check out our website and the first event will be kicking into high gear in January!






Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Book Alert - Her Mother's Daughter

Her Mother’s Daughter by Julianne Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Release Date: December 1, 2009

Her name was Mary Tudor. First of the Tudor queens, she has gone down in history as Bloody Mary. But does she deserve her vicious reputation?

She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, and half-sister to Edward VI and Elizabeth I. Mary Tudor's life began as the sweetly innocent, pampered princess of Wales-until the age of eleven when the father she adored cast aside the mother she worshipped and declared Mary a bastard. Only after years of exile did Mary finally rise to the throne alongside the man who, aside from her father, was her greatest love-and her greatest betrayer.

Told by Mary herself and the people around her, this grand-scale novel takes us back to the glittering court of sixteenth-century England, and tells the tragic story of a fascinating, largely misunderstood woman who withstood the treachery and passion around her only to become one of England's most vilified queens (from back cover)
I am very excited about this book. I have had a soft spot for Mary even though I haven’t read anything strictly about her. I think that she deserves her reputation in some ways but was misunderstood in many other ways and taken advantage of. I can’t wait to see how she is portrayed in this book. If you want to read a great review of this book (and a giveaway), check out The Burton Review.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court