*UPDATE*

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, March 31, 2010

Author Interview with Kristina Emmons

Today I would like to welcome author, Kristina Emmons, to The Maiden's Court. Kristina is the author of the new book Roeing Oaks - you can find my review of it here. So without futher adieu...


1. Your book is self-published - what has this experience been like self-publishing your own book? What have been some of the challenges and rewards?
Self-publishing has been a worthwhile journey for me. The process of getting published can take years, beginning with finding a good agent who is willing to invest in your work, who then advocates on your behalf to different publishing houses. The manuscript passes through many hands, and likely it’s dramatically altered in the end, for better or worse. Even after publishing, much of the promotional efforts are in the author’s hands, so I decided to take a chance on myself and get things moving, though traditional publishing is not something I've shunned. If opportunities arise in the future to go this route, I’d likely consider them.

As far as challenges, editing and word processing were a huge part of it, just getting it to the point where I felt satisfied with it. I take my work very seriously, and I can be very much a perfectionist with it. For me, self-publishing has been a great tool of expression and empowerment. I love that I have full reign as a publisher, that I can design the book inside and out and keep the chapters just as I want them. Another difficulty with self-publishing is the stigma attached to it, since anyone can self-publish, but that doesn't mean my book or many others are not legitimate works. Readers have thusfar enjoyed Roeing Oaks, and that's the point of it anyway.

2. What inspired you to write Roeing Oaks?

My faith was a big inspiration for Roeing Oaks. After watching a modern Cinderella movie that I loved, I found myself questioning if there was ever a true Prince Charming. Who among us is that perfectly delightful? Then I got to thinking according to my faith how Jesus was the only perfect man to have ever walked the planet, and how for me personally he has been something of a Prince Charming, spiritually speaking. The idea for the book began to take form, and Mr. Roeing became a kind of prototype to demonstrate the great goodness of Jesus, and portray his complexity alongside an interesting storyline. He is not the main character, however. Researching nineteenth century England with its intriguing system of nobility and its own complexities, I was able to flesh out the story with historical facts.

3. The premise of this story is of a husband who auctions his wife off so that he can marry another. Was this a common occurrence in Victorian England or a plot device of your creation? Is it all the more shocking because the family was members of the nobility?

I actually did not create this scenario! It really did happen in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though generally it happened in rural communities, and not all that often by the Victorian era, but it has been documented as happening all the way through to the twentieth century. It had to do with the wife being the husband’s legal possession, and the cost of divorce was prohibitively expensive. Since women were not self-supporting in those days another way to look at the practice of wife-selling, which did take place at auctions, was that the unhappily married husband cared enough to make sure her needs would be provided for upon separating from her instead of simply abandoning her, as many husbands did. It is also noted historically, true or untrue, that the wife would have been a consenting party to the sale.

The twist in Roeing Oaks is that the family was a noble family, for whom divorce was affordable but included obtaining an Act of Parliament and enduring a humiliating public trial, necessary if a legal re-marriage was on the agenda. Our clever character found a way around all that by taking his wife to auction at a cattle market far from home and creating lies that she deserted him for another man. Alleged desertion and adultery charges proved enough for Alistair Percy to get his legal divorce granted.

4. Was it difficult to find historical evidence during your research for this book? Were any of the characters in the novel based off of real historical people?

Much of the historical evidence I happened upon while reading about the time period, but some of the facts, like wife-selling, are indeed obscure. None of the characters are based off of real historical people.

5. The way Roeing Oaks ends, should we expect that there is a sequel in the works? What are you currently working on?

There is a sequel in the works, which I am passionate about. There is so much more to Kate’s story! I am also working on an unrelated present-day novel, which I hope to be finished with at about the same time.

6. What are some things you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing?

The older I get the more important family and friends are to me, so I try to keep myself available for spending time with them. Exploring is important to me, whether by traveling, reading, or getting to know people who are different from myself. I also enjoy cooking and hearing/playing music, singing…the list goes on. Life should be enjoyed!
Inspired by the writings of English authors Charlotte Bronte and Wilkie Collins, Kristina began researching the Victorian era in England and found it to be a fascinating backdrop for the theme of a young lady struggling against imposed cirucmstances. Using her natural talent for writing, Kristina began Roeing Oaks as an experiment, but over time it emerged to become a gripping, inspirational tale that she felt needed to be shared. Reader response to Roeing Oaks has been overwhelmingly positive, and the demand for a sequel has led Kristina to continue with Kate’s story, as well as with writing itself. (After all, her other dream of becoming a rock star has not panned out.)

Kristina and her husband are the parents of two fantastic children, who keep them on their toes and challenge their sanity, but fill their hearts with love

You can visit Kristina's website to purchase this amazing book!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Roeing Oaks by Kristina Emmons


Roeing Oaks by Kristina Emmons
Paperback, 271 pages
Self-Published – Kristina Emmons
September 8, 2010
★★★★½☆

Genre: Victorian Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Author for Review - Thank You!
“In 1870 England, stolen inheritances were not unheard of among aristocratic circles, but one subject was best kept to the dim, brotherly confines of a gentleman’s club: selling one’s wife. Lady Percy, with baby Kate barely formed inside of her, is unexpectedly taken to London’s notorious East End and auctioned off like cattle by her husband, a baron. Her only recourse is to go with the highest bidder. She is taken to live on a farm, where she keeps the truth from Kate for sixteen years. 
Upon learning the truth, Kate desires reinstatement with her estranged family. She risks everything to walk the divide between two worlds, searching for a doorway into her birthright. But lies and law barricade the divide at both ends, and Kate finds herself trapped in a purgatory. If anyone can come to her aide it is her beloved Mr. Roeing. Or will he cower behind a barricade with the others?”
Roeing Oaks is very much a coming-of-age novel for Kate. Kate has always known herself to be a farm worker and house maid for the wealthy estate owner. However, when her mother reveals to her that they are really from the upper class and that she was sold at a wife auction – Kate’s whole life changes. Not only does she have to figure out where she fits in this world, where she really belongs, but she finds herself having feelings for a couple different men in her life and has to determine how to handle that. She has to learn who she can trust – even those within her family. She is very quickly thrust into a whole new world where she is a fish out of water and essentially alone.

Roeing Oaks is also part Victorian caper. There is the story of wife auctioning and how to prove that this did or did not happen, how to convince their wealthy family that the rumors told about them are not true, how to make all the wrongs right. Everyone is out for themselves and has ulterior motives. You even have to look out for those that you trust.

As I first started reading this book I felt a little out of the loop. Kate and her mother were talking about things that had happened prior to the book, but didn’t give you the complete story. Then, as the rest of the story began to unfold, I could see how those early references fit in. I really loved how the author characterized Kate – she is so believable as a na├»ve maid, but she learns as she goes.

I was a little shocked at the topic: wife auctioning during the Victorian age in England. I could believe this happening in less developed countries or at an earlier date in England, but this is supposed to be a sort of enlightened period. I think that this makes the story all the more intriguing because you want to see how it will all work out. There is a suggestion at the end of the novel that there might be a sequel in the works and I hope there is because I would love to see more of these great characters. I think that this would make a great film!

You can visit the author’s website for more information on 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 © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Salon - HFBRT The Scarlet Lion Wrap Up

Good morning everyone! I hope you all have been having a great weekend. Yesterday I spent the day at my new apartment moving in and setting up my kitchen. So far that is the only room with anything in it, but I’m still excited about it. I was able to read some more of A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin on the car ride there and back, but other than that I was too tired by the time I got home to really read. So hopefully today.
Today is the final day of the HFBRT event for March: The Scarlet Lion. I really enjoyed this event – there was a lot of interaction between the blogs and a large amount of comments. Even Elizabeth Chadwick dropped by for a comment on my Caught on Tape! A summary of the event will be forthcoming at the Round Table site, but here is a summary of what occurred at The Maiden’s Court this week:

A Guest Post from Elizabeth Chadwick on 3/21
Caught of Tape: William Marshall on 3/22
Book review on 3/26

If you missed any of them, check it out!
Following close on the heels of The Scarlet Lion week, we have Claude and Camille week beginning April 6th – so you won’t have to wait too long. I know that all of us a VERY excited about this upcoming event. I LOVED the book – can’t wait to share it with all of you – but I need to get cracking on my review and post!
As far as my reading goes – I’m still working on Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes. I like it more now, around page 200, than I did around page 100, but I’m still not feeling it. I’m not sure if it is the characters or the writing. I also haven’t had much time to read more than a few pages at a time, but I need to get finished on this one too. On audiobook, I’m reading The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Even though I have seen the movie so many times, it’s not taking anything away from the book. I’m going to have to seek out a library that has a decent audio selection up near my new apartment. I also finished watching the first season of Robin Hood, the BBC show. I found it highly enjoyable. I went to go buy season 2, and of course, the store only carries season 3. So, I must go online and find it. I may have a review of season 1 sometime soon.

I’m hoping this week to have a review of Roeing Oaks and an interview with the author, Kristina Emmons. So look for that about mid week.

Have a great rest of your weekend.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review: The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick


The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
ARC, Paperback, 576 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
March 1, 2010
★★★★☆

Genre: Medieval Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Sourcebooks for Review as a part of HFBRT March event
The Legend of the Greatest Knight Lives On

William Marshal’s skill with sword and loyalty to his word have earned him the company of kings, the lands of a magnate, and the hand of Isabelle de Clare, one of England’s wealthiest heiresses. But he is thrust back into the chaos of court when King Richard dies. Vindictive King John clashes with William, claims the family lands for the Crown—and takes two of the Marshal sons hostage. The conflict between obeying his king and rebelling over the royal injustices threatens the very heart of William and Isabelle’s family. Fiercely intelligent and courageous, fearing for the man and marriage that light her life, Isabelle plunges with her husband down a precarious path that will lead William to more power than he ever expected
.
The Scarlet Lion picks up shortly after The Greatest Knight leaves off. I would HIGHLY recommend that you read The Greatest Knight first! I am so glad that I found time to squeeze The Greatest Knight in. If you don’t, you will lose out on so much back-story that makes you really care about the characters and you learn the motives for many of the things that occur in this story. I have heard several people make this complaint, so I wanted to warn you right off of the top.

The Scarlet Lion takes place mostly in Ireland and England. I had not read anything set in Ireland, so it was very interesting to see some of this Irish history. For much of the story, William and Isabelle are in different countries and you see them living separate lives. When they are together, it is for a very short period of time and usually revolves around the marriage bed. One of the things that I miss from the previous book is the unity between William and Isabelle. They were able to build off of each other and make each other stronger – here there is more conflict. I really did find myself enjoying two of their children – John and Mahelt. I’m excited that Mahelt will be featured in an upcoming book, To Defy a King.

While I LOVED The Greatest Knight (you can find my review here), I didn’t enjoy The Scarlet Lion quite as much. I still really enjoyed it, but it was lacking the action and tourney excitement of the previous. This story was more character driven and less action driven – so it was a little slow going at times. One of the strengths of Chadwick’s writing is her ability to make you feel for the characters. As the story came toward the end I found myself in going back and forth between being choked up and crying – definitely a hanky novel!

Overall, an enjoyable Chadwick read and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more. For those of you who read this book first and found it hard to get into, do yourself a favor and pick up The Greatest Knight, you won’t regret it!

You can visit Elizabeth Chadwick's website or one of her many blogs to find out more about other books about the Marshall family or her other works about the Medieval period. You can read an excerpt here.
 
Here is a book trailer that I found -





Other HFBRT events today:

Origins and Ten Commandments of Medieval Knighthood at All Things Royal

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).




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 22, 2010

Caught on Tape: William Marshall

William Marshall, one of the greatest knights on the 12th and 13th centuries is going to be having an amazing year in 2010. In fiction, The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick is being released in March. In film, Robin Hood and Ironclad are coming out, both featuring Marshall prominently. With this looking to be Marshall’s year, why not take a look at what movies William Marshal has been in?

King John (1984)

“Assuming the throne after the death of his brother Richard I, King John (Leonard Rossiter) finds his rule threatened by his own family. His nephew Arthur's quest for power, fueled by Arthur's mother, Constance (Claire Bloom), gathers support from King Philip of France. As battle lines are drawn, the stage is set for John's destiny. Directed by David Giles, this staging is part of a BBC series of Shakespeare's complete works.” (from Netflix)
This is the tale, as told by Shakespeare – produced by BBC. William Marshall is only referred to as Earl of Pembroke – but the story that is told follows the lines of The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick. William is portrayed by Robert Brown. I was unable to find a clip of this movie, but I did find a clip of a stage performance.



The Lion in Winter (1968) and (2003)

“In this stylish costume drama, England's King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) and his
dysfunctional family gather on Christmas Eve to decide who will inherit the throne. Henry fancies youngest son John (Nigel Terry), but his iron-willed spouse (Katharine Hepburn) thinks the crown should go to eldest son Richard the Lionhearted (Anthony Hopkins, in his film debut). What ensues is a bitter battle of wills that strains every family bond of love and trust.” (from Netflix 1968 film)

“In winter of 1183, as King Henry II (Patrick Stewart) and his family prepare to celebrate Christmas, Henry also prepares to announce the succession of his throne to one of his three sons -- none of whom is exactly qualified for the job. Disagreements with his wife, Eleanor (Glenn Close), over the subject quickly escalate and throw the family into turmoil. Andrei Konchalovsky remakes the 1968 version starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.” (from Netflix 2003 film)
William Marshall appears in a small role in both – played by Nigel Stock in the 1968 version and by Clive Wood in the 2003 version.



Robin Hood (2010)

“The story of how an archer in the service of King Richard the Lionheart became to be known as Robin Hood, the famous archer and outlaw of English Folklore. Beginning after the Death of King Richard at the Siege of Chalus Chabrol, the film follows Robin on his rise to infamy among the English Barons and the newly crowned King John. Featuring historically accurate characters such as Sir William Marshall and grounded in reality (in a similar way to Gladiator), this is not Robin Hood as you have seen him before, rather the making of the legend we have come to know him as now.“ (from IMDB)
The upcoming Robin Hood movie features Marshall in a prominent role. As it has yet to come out yet, we will just have to wait and see what comes of it. I will likely see this when it comes to theatres. Marshall will be played by William Hurt.  You can check out my review of the movie here.



Ironclad (2010)
“It is the year 1215 and the rebel barons of England have forced their despised King John to put his royal seal to the Magna Carta, a noble, seminal document that upheld the rights of free-men. Yet within months of pledging himself to the great charter, the King reneged on his word and assembled a mercenary army on the south coast of England with the intention of bringing the barons and the country back under his tyrannical rule. Barring his way stood the mighty Rochester castle, a place that would become the symbol of the rebel's momentous struggle for justice and freedom.” (from IMDB)
Another upcoming movie this year about William Marshall. I found out about this one from a comment on my post about Robin Hood and William Marshall. I haven’t heard much about this one at all. Marshall will be played by James Purefoy.



The first 2 movies can be found on Netflix, the second two are yet to be released. Have you seen King John or The Lion in Winter? What did you think of them? Are you planning on seeing either Robin Hood or Ironclad?

Also today at HFBRT:

Allie's Book Review at Hist-Fic Chick
Marie's Book Review at The Burton Review

And don't forget the GIVEAWAY!





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why I Write About William Marshal - Guest Post by Elizabeth Chadwick

Today is the kick-off day of the HFBRT March event featuring The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick. On this first day, I have the honor of hosting this amazing author on my blog with a great guest post. Hope you all enjoy her post as much as I did!

Why I Write About William Marshall

Guest Post by Elizabeth Chadwick, Author of 
The Scarlet Lion


My interest in the Medieval period began when I was eight years old and living in Scotland. At that time, the method of teaching was to write the lesson down on the blackboard and everyone copy the words into exercise books. But this particular year, the teacher, Mrs Robinson had a different way of doing things. Sure, we still had to copy from the blackboard, but as a reward, at the end of the lesson, the dressing up box came out. Mrs Robinson would choose pupils to be historical characters from the work we’d just written and we would act out little stage plays at the front of the classroom, clad in our toy crowns and cloaks. I loved this part of the lesson, especially when I was selected to be one of the actors. As it happened, the medieval period fell into Mrs Robinson’s tutorial year and when we moved on, it was to a different era and back to the blackboard with no more fun and games. So, I owe the first seeds of my love affair with the Middle Ages to Mrs Robinson because she fixed it in my mind.

The next staging post was a TV programme that aired when I was fifteen. It was called Desert Crusader and starred Thibaud, a gorgeous French knight in flowing white robes, who had adventures in the Holy Land in the twelfth century. I fell hard for him and was inspired to write my own story about the crusader lands. You can read the full tale here on my blog and see just why I fell in love! I was so impressed that I was inspired to begin writing a novel (still in my drawer unpublished!). It was at this stage that I was bitten by the bug and realised I wanted to write historical fiction for a living. Since I knew nothing about the Middles Ages or the Middle East at that time, I began researching because I wanted my story to feel as real as possible. The more I researched, the more interested and then fascinated I became and the more I wanted to make this period of history my home. Decades later I’m still addicted to the research and the more I do the more I realise how little I actually know – and the more I want to find out!

My interest in William Marshal was piqued while I was writing a novel titled The Champion where I came across William as the greatest jouster of his day. As I continued to write about the twelfth and early thirteenth century, his name kept cropping up and I realised that if I had the confidence to move from imaginary protagonists into telling stories about people who actually lived, William would be a fantastic subject for a novel. I dipped my toe in the water by writing about a Medieval outlaw called Fulke FitzWarin who was a contemporary of William Marshal. Lords of the White Castle was the result – a novel that was short listed for the UK’s best Romantic Novel of the Year Award. This gave me the confidence to forge ahead and continue writing about real protagonists. William was a man of such strength and integrity that he would have been great whenever he lived. He crammed so much into an amazing life that Hollywood couldn’t make it up. He was nearly hanged as a child when he was taken hostage. He saved the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was a champion jouster and much in demand as a battle commander. Indeed, he was the only man ever to unhorse Richard the Lionheart. He travelled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East before returning to serve the Angevin kings and marry a great heiress, twenty years his junior.

In between begetting and raising ten children, he was responsible in part for the drafting of Magna Carta and after King John died, he became regent of England and managed to set an ailing country back on its feet. He always kept his word – and he loved his wife. That he should have been forgotten by history is a deep oversight in my estimation. His story is not only fantastic in terms of a subject to write about from my viewpoint, but I think it also deserves to be known. We’re short of heroes today with William’s kind of integrity.

Thanks so much Elizabeth for taking the time to write this great post. It has been great having you here.  You can visit Elizabeth at her website for more information about her and her works.

Other HFBRT events today:

Book Review by Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com
Special Edition Sundays Art: Edmund Leighton by Lizzy at Historically Obsessed







Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: Alphatudes by Michele Wahlder & Giveaway

Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude by Michele Wahlder
Paperback, 128 pages
Life Possibilities Publishing
January 15, 2010
★★★½☆☆

Genre: Inspirational, Self-Help

Source: Received from Publicist (Cadence Marketing Group) for Review

“In Alphatudes: The Alphabet of Gratitude, Michele Wahlder reveals the unexpected and simple secret to living a joyful life: gratitude. In a world obsessed with negativity, we must deliberately choose to focus our attention toward the positive.

The good news is the homework is already done! Alphatudes utilizes your earliest grade school victory—the ABCs—to elicit a sustainable shift in your thinking and outlook on life.”

I want to start out by saying this is not the typical type of book that I read, but I found it interesting.

I think first I should explain the layout of this book. Each letter has 4 pages devoted to it. The first 2 pages are consumed by a picture with the letter being represented hidden within the image. There is also a quote about the word being represented. The 3rd page is a narrative about how this word/concept can contribute to how you feel and making your life more positive. The 4th page has a 2 or 3 line prayer.

The pages of this book are beautiful to look at! Each letter has a corresponding image that helps to support the word or phrase contained within those pages. The colors are bright and I lost myself for awhile in how beautiful the pages are. I flipped through just to look before I ever sat down to read.

If you are a person who is religious, the prayers might be something you find more useful than I did. I read all of the words and took some meaning from them, but not being a religious person, I think some of the purpose was lost on me. I don’t think the prayers would be something that would be offensive to anyone – they appear to be non-denominational and are just some beautiful words.

I would like to share some of my favorite lines (and some of the most thought-provoking) in this book.
Hope – “Hope is reduced to wishful thinking only when it is not accompanied by intentional action” (pg 38).
Joy – “When we release our past regrets and our attempts to control the future, we are free to experience the joy that exists now” (pg 46).
Laughter – “Laughing is not a shirking off of the importance of an issue, but rather a decision not to ignore the amusement buried within the seriousness of a challenge” (pg 54).
Passion – “Fulfilling our passions is not a selfish act. Quite the contrary, expanding upon our passions is a service we provide to others” (pg 70).

I like the quote about passion the most because it rationalizes the time I spend on blogging!

While some of the words in this book feel corny, overall there is a very positive message and worth the short time it takes to read through it. It was a breeze and I read through it in one sitting. If nothing else, you will come out of reading this with a smile. For some this book will help more than others, but I am glad that I read it – it was just overall a beautiful book.

You can visit the Alphatudes website for more information about the book or to purchase it. As an added bonus for buying the book, you will be able to download for free “Grace and Gratitude”, a song by Olivia Newton-John.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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



I am offering my gently used ARC copy of this book for a giveaway. This is open to US residents only and runs thru March 27th 2010. To enter just leave your email in the comments below.

+1 entry if you are a follower of this blog

Good Luck.

3/27/10 - UPDATE - the winner of this giveaway is...LibraryPat! Congrats.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday #31

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I actually have something to contribute this week!

After waiting and wishing and hoping, I received Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell this week (from Crown Publishing). This book will be the HFBRT event for April. The day I got it I jumped in and am loving it so far.

Today I received my second preview copy from WGBH of the next premiere episode of the American Experience series - Earth Days. Not quite the same calibur of excitement for this one as with Dolley Madison, but it still looks to be quite good. It will air on April 19, 2010.

Anything awesome arrive in your mailbox this past week?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Salon - Catch Up


I have been so busy I didn't get to do the Sunday Salon last week, so this is a catch up week. I have spent the last 2 weeks apartment shopping and decided on one yesterday. Even though the move in date will be earlier than we really wanted, we are locking in a much lower rent because they have a winter rate deal going on now. So it will end up saving us A LOT in the long run. And it was the place we had wanted to get into - so we will just spend some time moving things up and getting situated.

Now onto book news.
Last week I finished listening to my audiobook of Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. I really enjoyed this read and was teary eyed at several points throught out. I haven't seen the movie, but I know that it can't end the same way as the book. One of my friends was hinting at the ending, and it doesn't seem like that was what happened in the book. So this might be another book to screen change that I don't like. We will see. My next audio, which I'm about half way through right now, is One For the Money by Janet Evanovich from the Stephanie Plum series. Loving it!

I started reading Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes at the beginning of this past week. I'm currently at about chapter 3. It is a little slow going and I really need to do some background research as to who these people are because I have never read about this period. Then, a few days into it, Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell arrived, and I abandoned the Barnes book for the Cowell. I'm 1/3 into it and it is reading so much more quickly. Once I finish, I will return to the Barnes. Both have to be finished by the beginning of April, so I need to get cracking!

Other than that, not too much is going on around here in terms of book/blog world. I have a couple of reviews I need to catch up on and an interview with Kristina Emmons, author of Roeing Oaks, to come soon. So keep your eyes open.

Happy Sunday!



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie Review: Fingersmith


Fingersmith
Sally Head Productions
181 minutes
March 27, 2005
Rated: Not Rated - but I would give it a PG/PG-13

Fingersmith was a two part television miniseries brought to you by the BBC. This movie is based on the 2002 book of the same name by author Sarah Waters.

This movie is set in Victorian England. A young fingersmith (thief), Sue, goes in on a plot with a man to swindle money from a local heiress, Maud. Sue becomes Maud’s maid while trying to help her fall into their plot. Sue’s problem is that she has a conscience and feels bad about ruining the life of this girl whom she has befriended. When it comes time to conclude the plot and put Maud into the mad house - things get turned upside down and the swindle plan radically changes for all of the characters. The first half of the miniseries is seen from Sue's perspective and the second half is from Maud's perspective.

This movie follows the plot of the book very closely. The book is broken down into sections narrated by Sue and by Maud, which the movie repeats. I am very thankful that the movie follows the plot of the book because the book is so well written. I don’t think I have seen another movie that sticks to the plot of the proceeding book with such success. I think other movie makers should take note! There is drama and amazing characterization. The Victorian world is marvelously depicted on the screen.

I have come to expect great movies from the BBC and this one does not disappoint! I would recommend this to anyone who has read the book (you will not regret it) or to anyone who would enjoy a Victorian mystery caper.

Here is the trailer to the film - but beware, it gives away many of the twists. If you stop it at about the 1 minute mark, it will give you a taste without giving away anything.









Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2009/2010 Stephanie Plum Reading Challenge

The Stephanie Plum Challenge is being hosted at Home Girl's Book Blog (aka J. Kaye's Book Blog). The challenge runs until December 31, 2010. The goal is to finish reading whatever books in the Stephanie Plum series that you have left. As I am just starting the first book now, after searching forever for it on audio, I think this is an appropriate challenge. I have thoroughly enjoyed her Alexandra Barnaby books, and I expect to love these too. I also am a sucker for number series (like my Patterson obsession).

I'm going to set my goal to reading them all - depending on how easily they are available at my library, depends on if I will finish this or not. Here are my reads:

1. One for the Money - Complete
2. Two for the Dough - Complete
3. Three to Get Deadly
4. Four to Score
5. High Five
6. Hot Six
7. Seven Up
8. Hard Eight
9. Visions of Sugar Plums
10. To the Nines
11. Ten Big Ones
12. Eleven on Top
13. Twelve Sharp
14. Plum Lovin'
15. Lean Mean Thirteen
16. Plum Lucky
17. Fearless Fourteen
18. Plum Spooky
19. Finger Lickin' Fifteen
20. Sizzling Sixteen

This will be a feat - I won't be writing reviews for these, because I really don't have time, and I'm more only writing reviews for my hist-fic or others that I accept for review. But I may post a few lines about what I thought on here as I go.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Paperback, 592 pages
Riverhead Trade
October 1, 2002
★★★★☆

Genre: Victorian Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Collection
London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves - fingersmiths - under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her 'family'. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.”
Fingersmith begins in the seedy part of Victorian England with a “family” of petty thieves, or fingersmiths. Sue Trinder is a member of this family (and the narrator of the first part of the book). One day, a friend of the family, Gentleman, tells them of a plan he has to swindle a well off young woman of her inheritance, with the help of Sue. She is to play the role of a maid to this young woman and be the inside player in the game. As things progress and Sue gets to know Maude, Sue becomes less desirous of this swindle.

Part two of this book is set at the manor house where the well off young woman (Maud) lives. She becomes the narrator at this time. We learn about her past and see the events that happened in part one from Maud’s perspective. There is a HUGE twist that takes the reader into part three and an outcome that you will never see coming. This initially small scale swindle, takes on legs of its own and grows exponentially.

It took me a very long time to read this book, but that had nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the story bring told. I was going to school at the time and there was very little free-reading time. When I was actually able to read, I devoured the pages. I hadn’t read anything Victorian at that time and couldn’t get enough of the descriptions of the world around them. The main characters of Maud, Sue, and Gentleman were expertly created and were wonderful, innocent, and malicious (in that order). Even the minor characters were well created and had distinct personalities of their own.

I really loved the twist – I never saw it coming and it really took the book in a new direction – but it was very fitting and true to the story. I found myself connecting with the characters – feeling sad and angry and disappointed at times.

A two part BBC miniseries was created in 2005, with the same name, and stars Sally Hawkins and Sue and Elaine Cassidy as Maud. I recently saw this movie and thought that it was very well done. You can see my review of the movie coming up later this week.

FYI: Trailer does contain spoilers...watch at you own risk!


Sarah Waters has also written: Tipping the Velvet, The Little Stranger, The Night Watch, and Affinity.  You can visit Sarah Waters’ website for more information about her and her other books (which I am looking forward to reading). An extract of the book can be found 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 © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

TV Show Review: Dolley Madison: America's First Lady


Dolley Madison: America’s First Lady
American Experience Series

WGBH (PBS)
90 mins
March 1, 2010

Source: Received for Preview from WGBH
“Dolley Madison lived through the two wars that established the U.S., was friends with the first 12 Presidents, and watched America evolve from a struggling young republic to the first modern democracy in the world. She was nicknamed “Queen Dolley,” and when she died in 1849 at the age of 81 — one of the last remaining members of the founding generation — Washington City honored her with the largest state funeral the capital had ever seen for a woman.” (from PBS.com)
I first heard about Dolley Madison in my sophomore year in high school (which was only almost 7 years ago). I had to write a research paper about a famous American and I have no idea what drew me to her. As I read about her, I realized just how brave she was and all of the contributions she gave to this fledgling country. I was so impressed by her. I tried to learn everything I could about her. If anyone is wondering about my screen name/email address – yes, it was inspired by Dolley Madison! When I was contacted by Jen from WGBH about receiving a preview of this episode, well, you can imagine how excited I was!

This episode was the kick off episode to celebrate Women’s History Month and I’m not sure that they could have picked a better woman to spotlight. She isn’t as well known as some of the other famous female contributors to our country’s history, but she was definitely influential. There were so many things that I loved about this episode – I’m just going to highlight a few of them.

• The actress who plays Dolley (Eve Best) looked almost perfect for the role and I really felt that she was Mrs. Madison. My only critique, and it was a funny one, was that in the movie they quoted some lines which described Dolley as having “jet black hair” and they you see Dolley, and she has a medium brown. But everything else was lovely. Jefferson Mays, who plays James Madison, looked a spitting image of the 4th President.

• The lines said by the characters are all taken from letters or other primary sources available. I think that this is awesome because you get to hear the opinions and actual words that these people said and thought at that time. They really don’t put words in people’s mouths! The episode juxtaposes the characters speaking historical words with the discussions of historical experts.

• The costumes and settings were gorgeous! It is clear that a lot of time was spent on clothing the characters. Dolley was known for her outfits and the costume designer lived up to my expectations.

I only have one critique about this episode. The names and titles of the experts were not provided. I do not doubt that they experts, but being an interested party I would like to know who they are.

There are many additional features and information that you can find on The American Experience website. This episode will be available for purchase April 13, 2010. I am unaware at this point if it will be reaired on television, I would check your local listings. In the meantime you can watch this interesting video about the costuming of the show.

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Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Four Month Challenge Part 3

Time for Part 3! The Four Month Challenge Part Three will again be hosted by Martina at She Read A Book. This segment will run from March 1, 2010 until June 30, 2010. I only had a half-hearted attempt on Part 2 but I am hoping to go hardcore on this part. The challenges are listed below.

5 Point Challenges

Read a book by an author you’ve never read before - Complete- Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C. W. Gortner
Read a book with a one word title
Read a book with an animal name in the title - Complete- The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
Read a book with a proper name in the title - Complete - Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
Read a fantasy -

10 Point Challenges

Read an ‘Austenesque’ book - Complete - Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
Read a book with a two word title - Complete - Roeing Oaks by Kristina Emmons
Read a book that is part of a series
Read a book about a real person - Complete - Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott
Read a mystery - Complete - One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

15 Point Challenges

Read a book written in the 60’s (any century)
Read a book with a number in the title
Read a book by an author born in March, April, May or June - Complete- Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich (April)
Read a book with a three word title - Complete- For The King by Catherine Delors
Read a book by an author with three names - Complete- Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes

20 Point Challenges

Read a book with over 500 pages - Complete - A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Read a book with a four word title -Complete- By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
Read a book by two authors
Read a book written in the 70s (any century) - Complete- Great Maria by Cecelia Holland
Read a book that has been number one on the NYT Best-sellers list - Complete- Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

180/250 points

I will update this post as I complete these parts of the challenge.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Caught on Tape: Dolley Madison

Dolley Madison is one of our First Ladies that really doesn’t get as much attention as she should. As the wife of the 4th President, she essentially created the position of the First Lady. I have always admired everything that she did. With all of the “firsts” she brought to the position, her bravery during the War of 1812, and her connection with the founding of this country, it is amazing that she isn’t seen as more important than many other First Ladies. In all of my searching, I was only able to come across two films that focus on Mrs. Madison. It is almost as if these two movies are polar opposites of each other – and I think you will see why.

Magnificent Doll (1949)
“Dolly Payne is adored by two leaders of the fledgling American government, James Madison and Aaron Burr. She plays each against the other, not only for romantic reasons, but also to influence the shaping of the young country. By manipulating Burr's affections, she helps Thomas Jefferson win the presidency, and eventually she becomes First Lady of the land herself.” (from IMDB)
Ginger Rogers plays Dolley Madison. I haven’t seen this film but I can tell you from just the description it is nowhere near historically accurate – Dolley Madison was not interested in Aaron Burr romantically – but he did help her to meet James Madison – her future husband. This movie was not generally seen as one of Rogers' best movies – and she is considered to have been miscast as Dolley.

Here is the best clip I could find, which isn’t really saying much:



Dolley Madison: America’s First Lady (2010)
“As the wife of the fourth president, James Madison, Dolley Madison played an important part in the political and social experiment that was the early American Republic. Long before women held any overt political power, she used her unelected position to legitimize the nation's new capital, to create a political and social style for the new country and to give Americans a sense of their own national identity” (from PBS)
I have had the pleasure of seeing this movie on a preview from WGBH. It will premier tonight, March 1, 2010 on WGBH/PBS (check your local listings). While my review will be posted later this week, I can say that I think this was done VERY well. I think you can expect this to be done well coming from PBS. Very much historically accurate, all the words by the characters are actual words from letters and other primary sources. Dolley is played by Eve Best and she looks almost perfect as Dolley. I would say this is a must see for anyone interested in Mrs. Madison.  You can check out my review here.



If you have seen Magnificent Doll let me know how it is.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #30

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and definitely leads to massive amounts of books on your TBR pile.

I receieved 2 things in the mail this week.

I had the awesome opportunity to get on a preview list for The American Experience series shown on PBS. I received Dolley Madison: America's First Lady for review from WGBH. Don't forget, it airs tonight!

From Swaptree I received Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. I have a couple of her books on my shelf now to read.

Did anything good arrive in your mailbox?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court