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!

Search This Blog


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Salon #5 and Giveaway News

Good morning everyone. I hope you all had a good week, I did. I traveled to Philadelphia on Friday – and while my boyfriend was interviewing and University of Pennsylvania Vet School, I went and visited their Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. They had some pretty cool Egypt and Greek/Roman stuff, which is where I spent most of my time. This week, thanks to Marie, I joined Swaptree – and have already made my first swap. I really like how I can swap DVD’s and CD’s and get books in exchange – and it also helps me whittle down stuff before I move this summer. A huge success for me over the past couple weeks has been getting my mom excited about reading again. She has never been a reader but I got her Heat Wave by Richard Castle (from the ABC show Castle) and she loved it. This week she just finished Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. I think she just needed me to pick out some good books for her, haha. Also, I plan on going to see The Lovely Bones today at the movies. I have heard mixed review about it; has anyone seen it yet?
Ok, now onto what I read this week. This will be a shorter one. I am still working on listening to Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich, I have 1 disk left. I am still working on The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick, on page 250. Nick and I did finish reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin this week. I loved the book and there will be some sort of collaborative review coming up soonish. We were going to start Dante’s Divine Comedy next, but I want to read the 2nd book A Clash of Kings next instead.
At the Historical Fiction Round Table we have had the pleasure of hosting O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell this week. It has been absolutely wonderful working with Robin. Thanks to Robin, my fellow Round Table Ladies and all of you readers for making this another wonderful event. You can find the Calendar of Events here if you have missed any of the events this week. There are also many great giveaways going on – not only for the book. Check out these sites for their giveaways:

Speaking of giveaways, I have a winner to announce for The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent. And the winner is…

Priscilla! I will be sending you an email to get your mailing information. Thanks so much to everyone that entered, it was a great turnout!

Hope everyone has a great end to their weekend!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Giveaway - O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

I am excited to announce that I have one paperback copy of O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell to give away here at The Maiden’s Court as a part of Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table week. You can read my review of the book, to understand my excitement.

Even more exciting than just having the book to giveaway, is the fact that this giveaway is open worldwide (thank you NAL)! One winner will be selected on February 13th – so the last day to enter is February 12, 2010.

Here are the rules:
• Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry
• Become a follower of this blog for 1 additional entry (if you are already a follower, just say so)
• Leave a comment on my review of O, Juliet for 1 additional entry (link provided above)
• Leave a comment on our interview with Robin at Historical Fiction Round Table for 2 additional entries

Good luck everyone!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
ARC, Paperback, 338 pages
NAL Trade
February 2, 2010

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: From Publisher NAL and Robin Maxwell for Review
“Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner, or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.

Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable, once he determines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars.”
O, Juliet tells the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet – but this isn’t Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet! Juliet Cappelletti is the daughter of a silk merchant in Florence. Romeo Monticecco is the son of rural olive growers. Juliet is to be married to the wealthy partner in her father’s silk factory. When her path crosses with Romeo she knows that she can’t just settle for the uncomfortable, sour life that is planned for her. She must be able to choose what her heart wants!

The Shakespeare version of Romeo and Juliet always just left me half fulfilled – that is not something I can say about O, Juliet! Maxwell does a phenomenal job at creating the world around our heroes. Florence is described in vivid detail – the famous sites, artists/artwork, and cultural practices. I didn’t even mind that the setting wasn’t the traditional Verona because the world was so well developed. Many of the characters that surround the Cappelletti’s and Monticecco’s are well known historical figures: Cosimo d’Medici, Lucrezia Tournabuoni, Dante. Set into the historical context makes this story so much more convincing and makes the fictional characters feel alive and real.

The emotions and passions of the characters are palpable. They have thoughts and concerns other than just the love story. There are the concerns of Juliet’s father’s silk business, politics in Florence, religious concerns. We learn that Juliet writes poetry – something that wasn’t looked upon in a great light in those days. She is a strong willed young woman whose thoughts are ahead of her time. Every character is unique and fits neatly into the historical folds of Florence.

This novel has really made me love the story of Romeo and Juliet. In my opinion, this version blows any other out of the water. I didn’t get dragged down by trying to understand the poetic way of speaking. There is a real depth to the characters, setting, and story line. Even when you know the story of Romeo and Juliet there are many twists and turns that reveal so much more to you. Truly a delightful read and the only negative thing I could say about this is that I wish it were longer and the story would go on and on!

Maxwell has done it again!

Author Robin Maxwell also has written Mademoiselle Boleyn, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Signora Da Vinci, The Queen’s Bastard, To The Tower Born, Virgin, Jane, and The Wild Irish. You can visit her 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?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Be sure to check out Robin Maxwell’s blog, O, Juliet Love Games for great events, giveaways, and discussions.

You can also check out my post on Lucrezia Tournabuoni for more information about this amazing woman.

You can also check out the other events today for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table:

Tragic Romance in Literature & Giveaway
at The Burton Review
Romeo and Juliet in Fashion Photography
at Hist-Fic-Chick

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lucrezia Tornabuoni - Renaissance Poet

In Robin Maxwell’s newest book, O, Juliet, the title character, Juliet Capelletti is best friends with Lucrezia Tornabuoni. While Juliet is a fictional character, Lucrezia is not.

Lucrezia was raised in a wealthy family in Florence and she was married to Piero de Medici – that’s right, those Medici! Cosimo de Medici – the patriarch of the family – became her father in law. Lucrezia and Piero were married for political reasons, but quickly fell in love. They had 5 children over a short period of time.

Belonging to the most powerful family in Florence gave Lucrezia a lot of opportunities that other women of the time would not have had. She was very compassionate and townsfolk would often come to her first when they had a problem they needed resolved. She was a good business woman and would listen fairly to the cases set before her. In a society that was patriarchal, this was a huge thing!

As I said before, her marriage was a relatively good love match – even if it started out as a political move. I believe that this had some bearing in her practice of proving charity to women and girls who wanted to get married, but didn’t have the dowry to bring to a husband.

But one of the most shocking things about Lucrezia (at the time), was that she wrote and published poetry, as a woman. Very few women were published during their lifetime or under their own names. Most women of the time were not highly educated and didn’t have vast amounts of leisure time, when most of it was devoted to household duties. Lucrezia wrote mostly religious poems – like the one below (this is actually more of a hymn – as it is put to music):

Here is the strong king
Here is the strong king
Open up the gates!

O infernal prince of hell,
Do not resist his entrance:
This is the celestial king.
Who comes with almighty power:
Do him reverence instead
And open wide the gates.

Who is this great one,
Who comes in victory?
He is the almighty Lord,
He is the Lord of glory.
The victory is his alone;
For he has conquered death.

He has won the battle,
That endured for many years;
He makes the whole earth tremble
To release us from our troubles.

He seeks to replenish heaven's thrones
So he can restore his court.

The thing that I love about Lucrezia writing poetry and being public about it is that in the novel, Juliet writes a lot of great poems, but keeps it a secret from everyone, but Romeo and Lucrezia. I just thought that it was so appropriate for a little bit of Lucrezia to be embedded in the character of Juliet – which gave her more of a real feel.
The other events at HFBRT today are:
Robin Maxwell Guest Post at Hist-fic Chick,
Marie’s Book Review at The Burton Review.
Amy's Book Review at Passages to the Past
O, Juliet Cover Art Comparison at Historically Obsessed

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday #25 and O Juliet Week Announcement

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to another edition of Mailbox Monday! But this week we also have an announcement of this week's events for O, Juliet week at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table.

First up, the books:

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell Kaplan (received from publisher Other Press for review)
Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution by Patrick McGrath (received thru Paperback Swap)
The Many Lives Secret Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland (received thru Paperback Swap)
Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland (received thru Paperback Swap)

This week is O, Juliet week at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table. You can find the entire week's events here. Today on the main site we have an interview with Robin Maxwell.

Also up today, at their individual blogs:
Review of the book at Enchanted by Josephine
Romeo and Juliet in Art at Hist-Fic Chick
Versions of Romeo and Juliet Throughout History at Historical-Fiction.com

Please stop by and visit these great blogs!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Salon #4

Hi Everyone! It is great to finally be back home again and relax (a little). As I mentioned last week, I was in Indiana for the last 4 days. My boyfriend’s interview at Purdue went pretty well and we had a great time, though the 15 hour drive really wiped me out. Today is going to be mostly catch-up stuff and unpacking – so that I can do it all over again this Friday. We will be heading to Philadelphia for an interview at University of Pennsylvania. At least this one will only be a 1 day trip.
This trip actually allowed me to get a lot of reading done and almost met my reading goals for the week. I did finish The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin. I raced through the second half of the book and loved it! My review won’t be posted until sometime in February because it is The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table book for February. Look forward to some interesting events then. My boyfriend and I also made massive progress on A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, we are now only 70 pages from the end, versus almost 300 at the beginning of the week. I am enjoying this book a lot.
For this upcoming week I am planning on reading The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick. This will be my first book of hers and I have heard so many great things about it. I was hoping to have time to read this one before I have to review The Scarlet Lion, which is the sequel, and having had ample time to read this week, that wish has come true. I also hope to finish A Game of Thrones as well. For my listening pleasure in the car, I will be reading the audiobook Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich. I was hoping to start her Stephanie Plum series, but they didn’t have the first one when I went to the library, so I picked this one up. I won’t be reviewing this one, but here is an excerpt if you would like to read it.

Also up this week is the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event for January – O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell. You can read our announcement post here. This week there will be reviews, interesting creative posts, a Q&A with Robin Maxwell, giveaways, and much more. Here is the schedule of events:

January 24th – Announcement Posts for O, Juliet event.
January 25th – Q&A with Robin Maxwell on the HFBRT, Lucy’s Book Review at Enchanted by Josephine, Allie’s Creative Post: “Romeo & Juliet in Art” at Hist-fic Chick, Arleigh’s Creative Post: "Versions of Romeo & Juliet Throughout History" at Historical-fiction.com.
January 26th – Amy’s Book Review at Passages to the Past, Lizzy’s Creative Post: “Romeo & Juliet Original Artwork by Elizabeth Johnson” at Historically Obsessed, and Susie’s Creative Post: “The Life of William Shakespeare Part I” at All Things Royal.
January 27th – Robin Maxwell Guest Post at Hist-fic Chick, Heather’s Creative Post: “Lucrezia Tournabouni” at The Maiden’s Court, Marie’s Book Review at The Burton Review.
January 28th – Lizzy’s Creative Post: “The Duel” at Historically Obsessed, and Susie’s Book Review at All Things Royal.
January 29th – Arleigh’s Book Review at Historical-fiction.com, and Susie’s Creative Post: “The Life of William Shakespeare Part II” at All Things Royal.
January 30th – Heather’s Book Review at The Maiden’s Court, Marie’s Creative Post: "Tragiv Romance in Literature" at The Burton Review, Allie’s Creative Post: “Romeo & Juliet in Fashion Photography” at Hist-fic Chick.
January 31st – Amy’s Creative Post: “Dante Alighieri” at Passages to the Past, Lizzy’s Book Review at Historically Obsessed.
February 1st – Q&A Survey Discussion on the HFBRT, Allie’s Book Review at Hist-fic Chick, Lucy’s Creative Post: “Verona” at Enchanted by Josephine, Susie’s Creative Post: “The Life of William Shakespeare Part III” at All Things Royal.
February 2nd – O, Juliet Book Release Date, Summary of Events at HFBRT.

Please come and join us for this event!
Also, don't forget, my giveaway for The Queen's Dollmaker ends January 30th - so enter now!

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Book Alert - The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper

The Queen’s Governess by Karen Harper

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Putnam Adult

Release Date: January 21, 2010

“A fresh and intriguing historical novel told in the voice of Queen Elizabeth I's governess.

Katherine Ashley, the daughter of a poor country squire, happily secures an education and a place for herself in a noble household. But when Thomas Cromwell, a henchman for King Henry VIII, brings her to the royal court as a spy, Kat enters into a thrilling new world of the Tudor monarchs.

Freed from a life of espionage by Cromwell's downfall, Kat eventually befriends Anne Boleyn. As a dying favor to the doomed queen, Kat becomes governess and surrogate-mother to the young Elizabeth Tudor. Together they suffer bitter exile, assassination attempts, and imprisonment, barely escaping with their lives. But they do, and when Elizabeth is crowned, Kat continues to serve her, faithfully guarding all the queen's secrets (including Elizabeth's affair with the dashing Robert Dudley) . . . and ultimately emerging as the lifelong confidante and true mother-figure to Queen Elizabeth (from Penguin Group website)”
Ever since I first heard about Kat Ashley, I wondered why she did not play a more front burner role in historical fiction. She was always relegated to the position of a sub character. Now she gets her due. I am very excited to read this one and see things from Kat’s perspective.

Check out more works by Karen Harper here.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Author Interview with Kristin Bair-O'Keeffe

I had the great opportunity to ask Kristin Bair-O'Keeffe, author of Thirsty, a couple of questions for an interview. As she currently resides in China, this posed a little bit of a challenge (as you will read below), but is a success all the same. You can read my review of Thirsty here.

You grew up outside Pittsburgh with family that worked in the steel industry. How did your experiences growing up affect your writing of Thirsty?

I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, and my maternal grandparents lived just down the road a bit in Clairton, one of Pittsburgh’s most dynamic steel communities. Like a lot of Pittsburghers, I’ve got a bit of an obsession with steel. In the 1960s and 1970s, I spent a lot of time at their house with the smokestacks of the mills bearing down and barges hauling steel along the Monongahela River. My grandfather and great uncles worked in the steel mills so it was a big part of our family story. When the steel industry collapsed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, so did Pittsburgh’s steel communities. At that point, the storyteller in me jumped up and said, “Ooohh, there’s a story to be told here.”

Thirsty is a fictional town, but is it based on any town in particular or an amalgamation of several places? Does the name Thirsty have a symbolic meaning?

Thirsty the town is loosely based on my grandparents’ steel town, Clairton, Pennsylvania. Of course, I hung out in Clairton in the late 1960s and early 1970s—not in the late 1800s and early 1900s when Thirsty the novel takes place. Obviously I had to do a heck of a lot of research in order to get the details right. Since I wrote the first full draft of Thirsty during graduate school at Columbia College Chicago, I spent a good bit of time at the Harold Washington Library Center on State Street in downtown Chicago. Terrific library.

As for the symbolic meaning of Thirsty, well, you’ll just have to read it and decide for yourself.

A central part of the story of Klara Bozic is the domestic abuse that she faces. What was it that compelled you to write this story?

Because I have a history of domestic violence in my family, I’ve done a good bit of thinking about it over the years, both personally and as a writer.

As I’ve moved through the world, I’ve witnessed how being a victim of domestic violence often is passed from mother to daughter…like pearls or a wedding dress. This cycle of abuse—along with the idea of genetic memory—tweaked my storytelling curiosity early on. In writing Thirsty, I wanted to explore the mother-daughter dynamic, how a young woman gets involved in an abusive relationship in the first place, why some women manage to leave abusive relationships behind, and why others simply cannot. The more I wrote and discovered, the more I realized how tender and complicated these situations are. As I wrote Klara’s story, I kept coming to the question of courage: “What is it? Who has it? Who can get it? What does it look like? And finally, can Klara ever find the courage to leave Drago?”

What has it been like to launch your book in the United States while living in China?

Promoting a debut novel in the U.S. while living halfway around the world in Shanghai, China, is, well, a little nuts. After all, I live in a country that “manages” access to the Internet. I’m blocked from all social media sites—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.—as well as many blogs and lots of writer-related sites. (I’m even blocked from my own blog!)

Thankfully I’m a creative soul and a determined author. And because I’m also the reigning queen of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), I manage to get to blocked websites on a fairly regular basis and therefore connect quite often with readers and writers.

In late September, I flew home to the U.S. for the launch of Thirsty. (October 1 was the official release date.) And from the time the airplane touched down, I was the (very exhausted, but very happy) marketing maven. I did an author’s feast at the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association convention in Cleveland, a flurry of radio interviews, a webcast interview with the books editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a bunch more things that have become a blur. I also read and signed books at a number of bookstores in Pittsburgh, Massachusetts, and Maine, went back to my high school alma mater to yak with students in the creative writing classes, and talked to anyone anywhere who looked like they might be a reader. (I was the one in the international terminal at the airport calling, “Hey, hey, you! Yes, you! Do you read? Have you seen my debut novel Thirsty?”)

Regarding your move to China, what has been one of the most exciting things that has happened or that you have learned while living there?

You know, living in China is this wonderful, kooky, frustrating, thrilling, eye-opening experience. When I moved here in 2006, I didn’t know much about Chinese culture and I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin. For a lot of people, that kind of change is overwhelming. For me, it was inspiring. I love being nudged (pushed/shoved) out of my comfort zone, plunked down into a culture about which I know little or nothing, and forced to reexamine who I am and how I define myself in the world.

The good news after almost four years in China?

I’ve got enough material to write about for a lifetime.

Do you have any plans for a second book in the works?

Absolutely. I’ve got two big projects on my plate right now:

a. a memoir about falling in love with an Irishman, marrying him (um, rather quickly), moving to China, and becoming a mom

b. a second novel...which is wildly different than Thirsty

Thank you so much to Kristin for taking time to make this interview possible.

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s debut novel Thirsty (Swallow Press, 2009) tells the story of one woman’s unusual journey through an abusive marriage, set against the backdrop of a Pittsburgh steel community at the turn of the twentieth century. Her work has been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poets & Writers Magazine, San Diego Family Magazine, The Baltimore Review, The Gettysburg Review, and many other publications. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and has been teaching writing for almost fifteen years. Kristin lives in Shanghai, China, with her husband and daughter. If you’d like to learn more, visit http://www.thirstythenovel.com/ and http://www.kristinbairokeeffeblog.com/.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Art History Reading Challenge 2010

The last challenge I am signing up for awhile is The Art History Reading Challenge. I have been meaning to sign up for this for quite some time. I have so many art books on my shelf and several to review. This challenge will run from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.

For this challenge any art books counts: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Adults, Childrens, etc. It's pretty liberal in the books that you can classify as art: Artists, Art, etc.

The levels are as follows:

• Curious - Read at least 3 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
• Fascinated - Read at least 6 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
• Enamored- Read at least 9 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
• Utterly enchanted - Read at least 12 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.

I think I am going to go low again, Curious Level.

1. The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
2. Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
3. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Update - as of April 24, 2010 I am moving to the Fascinated level.

4. Dancing for Degas by Kathryn Wagner
5. The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen
6. Watermark by Vanith Sankaran

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell

The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell
Hardcover, 336 pages
Crown Publishing
March 4, 2008

Genre: Victorian Historical Fiction

Source: Passed on to me by Arleigh for review

“London, 1893. Elderly Mrs. Bentley is on her deathbed, and her son Robert has returned from France. But in the Bentleys’ well-appointed home, everyone has their secrets, including Robert’s beautiful and elusive wife, the orphan maid she hires from the country, and the mysterious young woman who arrives, claiming to be the bride of Robert’s drowned brother.

Robert is quickly developing a reputation in anthropometry, the nascent science of identifying criminals by body measurements. Yet soon he is caught up in the deceptions swirling around him, for no one under his roof is quite what they seem. When an intruder enters the house and ransacks the study, a chain of events is set in motion that threatens not only the genteel, comfortable life the Bentleys have managed to secure but also their very survival.

A fascinating portrayal of a vanished England as well as an unconventional mystery, The Dark Lantern exposes the grand “upstairs” of a Victorian home and the darker underbelly of its servants’ quarters. The clash between the classes makes for a suspenseful novel of mistaken identities, intriguing women, and dangerous deceptions.”

The Dark Lantern is a Victorian mystery, of sorts. Jane becomes a maid in the household of the Bentleys. Mrs. Bentley is a very sick old woman. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bentley have recently moved into the house to help take care of his ailing mother. Hints are given that Mrs. Robert Bentley is not quite who she seems to be. There is also the mystery of Mr. Henry Bentley heading home from India and a mysterious new wife of his. Jane becomes the go-to girl for Mrs. Robert Bentley as a spy within the household. As all of the backgrounds of the Bentley’s begin to come to light and Jane is caught in the middle with nowhere to turn.

If the above summary sounds a little confusing – that was how I felt reading it. The story failed to grab my attention from the word go. All of the family members have something to hide, and there really wasn’t a lot of solid character development. I found that at about ¾ of the way through the book, I still didn’t remember the names of the characters. The last 50 pages or so picked up the pace drastically. Everything started coming together but it felt rushed. The outcome was interesting but not having made any solid connections with any of the characters, I found I didn’t care much what happened to them. I think that this could have been a much more enjoyable read overall if some additional character development occurred throughout the book. I also would hope for a few more events to occur.

Author Gerri Brightwell has also written Cold Country

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday #24

Welcome to today's issue of Mailbox Monday. I hope everyone had a great week in terms of their mailbox. I received 2 books this week, but they look to be two good ones.

From Sourcebooks for Review in April: Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campell Barnes. I am very excited about this book because I do not know anything about this period in time.

From Ballantine Books for Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table May Event: Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner. I have always enjoyed reading about Catherine and I have read great things about Gortner's book The Last Queen (though I haven't read it yet). This looks to be awesome.

What arrived in your mailbox?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

The French Historicals Oh-La-La! Challenge

My friend Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine is hosting the first challenge on her blog - French Historicals Oh-La-La! Challenge. Though I am up to my eyeballs in challenges, I can't miss out on this one - and there is a really good chance I can finish it if I set my goal low, haha. This challenge is going to run from January 1, 2010 until December 15, 2010. Any historical fiction or non fiction book about France or French people will meet this challenge. There are 4 reading levels:

La Princesse: Read 3 books
La Dauphine: Read 6 books
La Reine: Read 9 books
L’Imp√©ratrice: More than 9 books

I am going to set my goal for La Princesse - but if I meet that quickly I will up it to La Dauphine. So we will see.

Here are my books:
1. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
2. Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
3. Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner

Update: As of April 24, 2010 - I am officially moving up to La Reine.

4. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
5. The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
6. For the King by Catherine Delors
7. Dancing for Degas by Kathryn Wagner
8. Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
9. Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jean Plaidy Challenge 2010

The wonderful ladies at Plaidy's Royal Intrigue are hosting the Jean Plaidy Challenge again this year - but it is a little more formal. The challenge will run from January 15, 2010 until December 15, 2010.

There are 3 reading levels:

  • Ms. Carr: read 6 Books
  • Ms. Holt: read 8 Books
  • Grand Plaidy Lady: Over 12 books

There will be a winner picked from each category at the end of the year. If you want your reviews posted on their website you just need to drop an email to them.

I think I am going to pick the Ms. Carr level - I only read 3 last year so we will see what happens this year.


Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

GIVEAWAY - The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to read and review The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent. It was a wonderful book. You can read my review of the book here as well as my interview with Christine.

Christine has graciously offered up one paperback copy of The Queen’s Dollmaker for giveaway. This giveaway will be open to US residents and will run from January 17, 2010 and a winner will be selected on January 31, 2010.

Here are the rules:
• Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry
• Become a follower of this blog for 1 additional entry (if you are already a follower, just say so)
• Leave a comment on my review of The Queen’s Dollmaker for 2 additional entries
• Leave a comment on my interview with Christine for 2 additional entries

Good luck everyone!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday Salon #3 and Giveaway Updates

Good morning everyone. It is Sunday again and while it is still around freezing today, it was gorgeous yesterday. I went for quite a long walk and my legs are not forgetting about it today. I first off want to let you know I may be a little inactive this week. I will be on a road trip Wednesday through Saturday. My boyfriend is starting the round of Vet School interviews – we have 1 a week the next 3 weeks. So we get to drive out to Indiana (about 15 hours). I may be popping in and out during the week and checking my emails, but I probably won’t be posting anything new after Wednesday.

Now on to the status of my week’s reading…I finished The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell on Wednesday. The last 50 pages or so were really good, but overall not a favorite read of mine. I will have the review up on Tuesday. This is the first book I have really loved in a long time – but you take the good with the bad, and hope there are more good reads. I also started and finished the audiobook of Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. I don’t know what it is when I am at the library, but I seem to like to pick tearjerkers to listen to on the way to work. I won’t be reviewing this book but I really enjoyed it. It was a very quick read and was a great story. I love when you pick up a book on a whim and it turns out great. This week I will be working more on The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin. I started this a day or so ago but haven’t had too much time to read. The first 20 pages so far are good. I also hope to read much more of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Since I am reading this with my boyfriend, what better time than on a 15 hour car ride to really make a dent in the book? Now on to giveaway news:

There were 115 individual entries for Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll! That is phenomenal. And the winner of this goodie is… Clenna! I will be sending out an email to you for your mailing address. I am also hosting a new giveaway this week for one copy of The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent. See the sidebar on the right for the link to the giveaway post.
I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend – and hopefully have tomorrow off, I know I do.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Period Drama Challenge Complete

I have completed the first challenge of 2010 – but it was one that I started during the end of 2009. The Period Drama Challenge is hosted by Lights, Camera, History and it is a movie challenge!!! I totally enjoyed this challenge. I was able to watch many movies that I had on my list for awhile as well as seeing a couple new ones in the theatres. My Netflix certainly was used a lot.

I chose the Clearly Addicted level (8 movies) and the two themes Kings and Queens (plot centered around royalty) and Victorian Mist (set during the Victorian Era).

Here are the movies I watched with my mini reviews.

1. The Duchess (2008) - Victorian Mist - 9/13/09 - I very much enjoyed this movie. I thought it was terribly sad/unfair what her husband did to her and how he controlled her life. He was such a hypocrite. I LOVED the dresses, costumes, and setting - that is usually my favorite thing about these movies. Another good Kiera Knightly movie!

2. Cleopatra (1963) - Kings and Queens - 9/26/09 - This was a super long movie - it took me 4 sittings to watch the whole thing. I think Elizabeth Taylor was very convincing as Cleopatra - and looked a lot like what I expected of her. I also like Rex Harrison as Caesar. I just couldn't accept Richard Burton as Marc Antony and Roddy McDowall as Octavian. I felt like they were both whiners and Marc Antony had no spine. Which is unlike how I picture Antony. That being said, I really liked the first half - basically up until Marc Antony became Cleopatra's lover. I loved the scene where Cleopatra came into Rome - there was so much fanfare and it was so beautiful. After Antony became a major player I found myself becoming disinterested. Overall though a good movie.

3. Fingersmith (2005) - Victorian Mist - 10/4/09 - This movie is really a two part mini series from the BBC. I think that it was fantastically done, very true to the book. This movie is about a girl, Sue, who goes in on a plot to swindle money from the heiress, Maud. She pretends to be her maid while trying to help her fall into the plot. When it is time to put Maud into the mad house - things get turned upside down and the plot radically changes. The first half of the mini series is seen from Sue's perspective and the second half is from Maud's perspective. I have come to expect good works from the BBC and this one didn't disappoint.

4. Mad Love (2001) - Kings and Queens - 10/15/09 - I really enjoyed this film. It had been on my TBV list for a long time and kept getting pushed off because it was a foreign film and not being at all fluent in Spanish I would have to actually sit and watch it. The actress who portrayed Juana, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, did a fabulous job at being totally in love with Philip and acting out in jealous, "crazy" rages. I felt for her as she did everything she could to keep the man she was totally in love with all to herself, when even the court was pushing for her to be put aside. This was my first foray into seeing the life of "Juana la Loca" and it has made me eager to learn more about her. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner is definitely an upcoming read.

5. Lady Jane (1986) - Kings and Queens - 11/8/09 - Even though I had read some negative reviews about this movie, I really enjoyed it. True, there are some factual problems, but when I watch a movie it is for sheer enjoyment. I really enjoyed seeing the love, passion, and compassion between Jane and Guilford. It was a sweet love story played out. I also found the part where Queen Mary decides to have Jane executed so that she can marry Philip of Spain to be thought provoking. I keep thinking maybe if she knew how terrible her marriage to Philip would be she wouldn't have been pushed into executing Jane. All in all I thought it was an enjoyable movie, if you put the historical inaccuracies aside.

6. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) - Kings and Queens - 12/20/09 - I find this portrayal of Anne and Henry more believable than that of The Tudors. At least in this portrayal they are more of the appropriate age. I liked Richard Burton in this film better than in Cleopatra - he seemed to exude Henry from every pore - he was fully committed to this role. I LOVED Genevieve Bujold as Anne - she was beautiful and fiery, I would say she is my favorite Anne yet. There were some things that bothered me, like historical inaccuracy. Near the beginning - when Anne was interested in Henry Percy - they alluded to the fact that both the Boleyn's and the Percy's approved of the marriage. Also, when Katherine lay dying, her daughter Mary was right by her side. Both of these things are nowhere near true. But liberties are taken in all things movie, as well as historical fiction, so I can forgive that. Overall a decent movie.

7. Sherlock Holmes (2009) - Victorian Mist - 1/3/10 - This is the first movie for this challenge that I was able to actually see in the theatre. I first have to say that I really loved the chemistry between Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were great). They really played off of each other well. And while I never really imagined my Sherlock and Watson as all that physical, these boys were tough. Now the plot on the other hand, had me a little disappointed. I could have done without the paranormal aspect - although it was resolved at the end, it felt a little farfetched for the genre it is supposed to be. I would definitely recommend buying this movie - but maybe save your cash and see something else in theatres. You can see my full review here.

8. The Young Victoria (2009) - Kings and Queens - 1/9/10 - I was so excited to see this movie. It was shown at a small artsy theatre which made it feel like I was walking back in time upon entering the theatre. I think that they picked the perfect actor and actress for Albert and Victoria. The settings were gorgeous, I loved when they went into Buckingham palace for the first time - it was so breathtaking! Although the scene where Albert takes a bullet for Victoria never happened, I actually really liked that scene. My other favorite scene was the chess game between Victoria and Albert early in their friendship. I cannot wait until this comes out on DVD and I can see it again. You can see my full review here.

Thanks ladies for hosting this great challenge.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Movie Review: The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria

GK Films
105 mins
December 18, 2009
Rated: PG

I was so excited to see this movie. It was shown at a small artsy theatre which made it feel like I was walking back in time upon entering the theatre. It only shows two movies at a time, usually independent films. The personal, friendly atmosphere was so different than the mainstream theatres that I usually go to – and the seats were amazingly comfortable. I really am a firm believer that where you are influences the way you perceive things – it was a very enjoyable experience, even if we were the youngest people there!

I think that they picked the perfect actor and actress for Albert and Victoria. Emily Blunt carried herself perfectly as a princess and a queen. She could easily evoke all of the emotions and feelings that were required of the role. I very much enjoyed Rupert Friend as Albert. An actor who I considered a scene stealer was Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy (who coincidentally was also in Sherlock Holmes, which I saw the week before). It took me a little while to figure out what his relationship was to Victoria and her mother – for quite awhile I thought he was her father!

The settings were gorgeous. I’m not sure if they looked how they should or how much of it was real vs. CGI, but it was eye candy. I loved when they went into Buckingham palace for the first time - it was so breathtaking! It certainly made me want to visit England.

My favorite scene was the chess game between Victoria and Albert early in their friendship. I have included it above for your viewing pleasure. It evoked some laughter in the theatre and I loved how they compared Victoria’s life to the chess game. My second favorite scene was where Albert takes a bullet marked for Victoria. Although, from what I hear, this never happened in real life, I actually really liked that scene. Very dramatic.

My boyfriend did not want to really see the movie – but went anyway. Upon being questioned as to what he thought of it, he replied, “it wasn’t that bad, not what I expected”. So, for someone totally not interested in royalty, I will take that as a stellar review.

I cannot wait until this comes out on DVD and I can see it again!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes
Warner Bros.
128 mins
December 29, 2009
Rated: PG-13

I had high expectations for this movie upon heading into the theatre – and was a little let down. But I’m going to address the high points first. I thought that Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. had some great chemistry together. They really had the relationship between Holmes and Watson that I enjoyed. I had never imagined in my head that Watson and Holmes would be “tough guys”, but they are the Holmes and Watson for the new millennium! Rachel McAdams’ character seemed a little pointless. She was there for the pretty factor but really didn’t affect much of the plot.

Now that we are speaking of the plot – it really left a lot to be desired. There was an aspect of the paranormal that was included, which ended up being explained – but it really didn’t fit with my impression of Sherlock Holmes stories. They could have had a perfectly good plotline without the paranormal.

I get the feeling that there will definitely be a sequel – based on the way the ending played out. I would recommend waiting to catch this on Netflix or DVD when it comes out (it was an enjoyable movie) – but I would see something else at the theatre.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court