*UPDATE*

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

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

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

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

Search This Blog

Loading...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review: Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier


Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Unabridged, 7 hr. 26 min.
Recorded Books
Ruth Ann Phimister (narrator)
July 16, 2004
★★★★★

Genre: Art Historical Fiction, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed Audiobook from the Library
 
“Tracy Chevalier's second novel Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant--and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model. Chevalier vividly evokes the complex domestic tensions of the household, ruled over by the painter's jealous, eternally pregnant wife and his taciturn mother-in-law. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic. Still, Girl with a Pearl Earring does contain a final delicious twist.”
Girl With A Pearl Earring is based on the famous painting by the same name by Johannes Vermeer. Chevalier brings that mysterious woman who looks out at us from her frame to life and injects her into everyday life in Delft. Griet becomes a maid in the Vermeer household and struggles right from the start to find her place there. The one place where she finds solace is when she is cleaning the studio for the painter. Little does she know that the solace that she finds there and the attention she gets from Johannes makes people in the house become upset. As things get increasingly out of control, Griet must make some decisions that will affect her life and her place in the household.

I initially read this book about 5 years ago – and I really didn’t remember much when it came to reading it again this time. I think it probably had something to do with the fact that I had to read it for school – and that is never as enjoyable. I feel that this is one of the best art novels around – it sets the bar high for every subsequent novel.

One of the things that I found very interesting is how different Vermeer’s wife, Catherina, is portrayed in this book compared to how she is portrayed in The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker. In both stories a young girl goes to live with the Vermeers (in Pearl Earring as a maid and in Tulip as an apprentice). Catherina doesn’t like Griet and goes out of her way to make life difficult for her. But in Tulip she is very kind and welcoming to Francesca. It’s amazing how different authors can depict the same person so differently. I think I liked her much better in Tulip.

Another aspect that I really enjoyed was how all of Vermeer’s famous paintings came to life in this novel. You got to meet all of the people who sat for the paintings and it added a deeper meaning to the works. On her website, Chevalier, has the paintings juxtaposed with lines from the novel.

Overall I very much enjoyed this story. Besides learning about the life of the artist and the paintings, I learned about the camara obscura (a box with mirrors that somehow helps the artist see his work better) and how pigments were made. This was my first Chevalier book, but it won’t be my last.

★★★★★

The narrators voice was very appropriate to the charcter of Griet. The narrator was really able to make me feel for Greit during all of her troubling times.

Author Tracy Chevalier also has written The Last Runaway, Remarkable Creatures, Burning Bright, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn, and Virgin Blue. You can visit Chevalier’s website for additional information about the book.If you haven’t read this book and want to whet your palate, try reading the first chapter or check out this video (of the movie).

 
 

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TV Show Review: Robin Hood Season 1


Robin Hood
BBC
Season 1
2006
Rated: PG

Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood and every few years a new show or movie comes out to tell his tale. I for one, have always thought of him as the mythical man who made all the ladies swoon and never really thought of him as having a “real” life - season 1 has really changed my mind!

In this series, Robin Hood is played by Jonas Armstrong, and he definitely has the cute factor I have always envisioned. In comparison with the upcoming Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe, I think that Jonas has more of the look I have attributed to this hero. In fact, every actor was perfectly cast in their roles – not only for looks, but for personality as well. Before this show I didn’t know the names of anyone in his band except Robin and Little John – but now I know Allan-A-Dale and Will Scarlet. And the sheriff is wonderfully awful! Robin and Marion had great chemistry and they were great to watch together in their scenes. I don’t know if I can pick my favorite character – it’s a really close call between Robin and Allan.

One of the things that first struck me every time I watched an episode was how everything has a tint of green and it gives it such a brilliant look. It makes the forest look more magical. I also liked how the theme song was used throughout the episodes – something to connect with and carry through the episode.

My biggest complaint with the show is the costuming of Marion. I envision beautiful dresses befitting her rank – but much of the time she is wearing pants. While watching one of the special features they explained how this was done on purpose to make it more contemporary – but…I wished they had not done so. It just felt out of place for me because the rest of the cast looked appropriate. I loved watching this show, but it sometimes felt very slow; you would watch 2 episodes and feel like nothing had happened.

Another thing that I learned from this season was that Robin Hood had been to fight in the Crusades. Like I said before, I never thought of him as anything other than the hero. It was nice to learn some back story about how he became who he was. I cannot wait to watch season 2!








Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Initial Reactions – America: The Story of Us Part 1

This past Sunday was the kick-off episode, Rebels, of the series America: The Story of Us on The History Channel. I wanted to just throw a few things out there that I was thinking as I watched the episode.

• I felt that there was a disjointedness between the discussion of the early Colonial years and the Revolution. There wasn’t a great transition – it was talking about Plymouth one minute and then the next we are in Boston with the Massacre and Tea Party. I would have liked a better transition between the two.

• While I understand that there is a finite number of things that can be discussed in a television show (even with a series of this size) – I felt some very important things were missed. At the moment I am drawing a little bit of a blank (that’s what happens when the show is on so late) but I don’t remember Columbus being mentioned.

• I thought that the CGI and graphics were very good and everything looked beautiful. For me, all the settings and events looked a lot like I had imagined them in my mind.

• Usually with these sorts of shows there are experts in the field – while there were definitely some good ones, other choices threw me. Some of the commentators were famous celebrities, which really didn’t add much to the show for me.

I am anxiously anticipating the next episode, Sunday May 2nd – hopefully I will be able to stay up for it. After the episode ended, I checked out the message board on The History Channel and I was shocked to find there was not one good comment on there – most of these comments were berating the choice of President Obama as the opening speaker for the show. I don’t find this to be so egregious – who would you really expect to open a show about this country other than the president (whoever it might be at the time)? While some of the above things did bother me, I would rate this episode a solid B.

Here is a clip from the episode



If you saw the episode, I would love to hear what you thought.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mailbox Monday #34



I love checking the mail every day to see if anything has arrived. This week it was slow, with only one book received – but I think it will be a good one.

Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran from the author through Harper Collins

“The daughter of a papermaker in a small French village in the year 1320—mute from birth and forced to shun normal society—young Auda finds solace and escape in the wonder of the written word. Believed to be cursed by those who embrace ignorance and superstition, Auda's very survival is a testament to the strength of her spirit. But this is an age of Inquisition and intolerance, when difference and defiance are punishable "sins" and new ideas are considered damnable heresy. When darkness descends upon her world, Auda—newly grown to womanhood—is forced to flee, setting off on a remarkable quest to discover love and a new sense of self . . . and to reclaim her heritage and the small glory of her father's art.”(from Harper Collins website).

How good was your mailbox to you this week?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Suddenly Sunday - Busy Week


I decided I wanted to join in on Suddenly Sunday hosted by Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog as opposed to the Sunday Salon.

Happy Sunday everyone. I hope your weather is better than mine – it’s kinda gloomy outside. I have been running around like crazy this week. First my mom was in the hospital with pneumonia all week – so I had to do a lot of things around the house that she normally does. I moved a good portion of my furniture into my apartment yesterday and went out for a celebratory dinner with my boyfriend and his parents. On top of this, I have been suffering from neck pain for the last two weeks – I found out on Friday it is muscle strain and am now on muscle relaxers and strong Advil (which makes me very tired). And starting tomorrow, I am going to be working overtime Mondays thru Thursdays until the end of September – so that is going to be a whole lot of adjustments for me. I don’t expect it to have too much of an effect on the blog – I just might be posting things later in the day due to coming home from work later, but don’t worry!

In case you missed it earlier this week – I posted a review of the TV episode Earth Days from the American Experience series as well as a joint book review with my boyfriend on Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. My review here covers the historical fiction aspect of Game of Thrones while over at Lions and Men, Nick’s review covers the characters and fantasy aspect of the book. Drop by and check it out!

In other television news – beginning tonight on The History Channel there will be a new series called America: The Story of Us. This is a 12 hour series that will continue all week. I am very excited about this and hope some of you will watch it as well.

This week I am anticipating having reviews of the first season of the BBC series Robin Hood and a review of Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – so keep on the lookout for those. I also might have a giveaway that I will post during this week as well.

As far as my reading this week – I have actually accomplished a lot of it. I started and finished Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott, and I loved it. I found myself unable to put it down. The review will be upcoming, probably not until next week. I am now starting Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo. I am still continuing to read with Nick, Clash of Kings, the sequel to A Game of Thrones. I am a little less than half way thru that one. I have also just started listening to The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier on audio book.

I hope you all have a great week! I hope to have a little bit of a less stressful week.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 23, 2010

Upcoming on The History Channel - America: The Story of Us

I never pay much attention to commercials while watching television, but this one certainly caught my eye and I thought that I would share this with you all.

The History Channel is kicking off a 6 night, 12 hour, series covering the entire history of America. Here is a summary of this event from their website:

"America: The Story of Us is an epic 12-hour television event that tells the extraordinary story of how America was invented. With highly realistic CGI animation, dramatic recreations and thoughtful insights from some of America's most respected artists, business leaders, academics and intellectuals, it is the first television event in nearly 40 years to present a comprehensive telling of America's history. Elaborate, ambitious and cinematic, America: The Story of Us will take you into the moments when Americans harnessed technology to advance human progress, from the rigors of linking the continent by transcontinental railroad--the internet of its day--to triumphing over vertical space through the construction of steel structured buildings to putting a man on the moon. It is an intensive look at the people, places and things that have shaped our nation, and the tough and thrilling adventure that is America's 400-year history."
So, the first episode begins this Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 9 PM EST. The first episode, Rebels, will be about the road to the Declaration of Independence.

"In 1607, a small group of English adventurers lands in Jamestown. Thirteen years later the Pilgrims settle in Plymouth, New England. These men and women are all driven by the promise of a new life, and all face huge dangers from disease, starvation and conflict. The two colonies are very different, yet in time both grow. One man’s entrepreneurial dream, tobacco, and the first African Americans, turn the swamps of the South into a land of opportunity. The hardworking and resourceful Puritans forge the North into a trading powerhouse with shipbuilding at its core. Within 100 years, they have the highest standard of living in the world--a testament to a unique American spirit. Yet success and wealth prompt British jealousy, taxation, resistance and, finally, war. This is the story of how, over seven generations, a group of European settlers survive against all odds, claw themselves up and then turn against their colonial masters. A diverse group of men, women and children are about to become truly American." (from The History Channel website).
Hope you will be tuning in - I might do some mini-reviews/my opinions of the episodes as we go along.



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin


A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire series
Mass Market Paperback, 835 pages
Bantam Spectra
August 16, 2005
★★★★½☆

Genre: Technically Fantasy, I’m going to classify it as Historical Fantasy

Source: My boyfriend’s personal collection
“Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.”
 
This represents one half of the review of this book. My boyfriend, Nick, and I read this together (and are currently reading the second book) so we thought it might be cool to split the review in half and tailor it to our blogs. His blog, Lions and Men, focuses mostly on science fiction and fantasy books – so he will be covering the fantasy aspect as well as the characters of this book. My review will focus on the historical fiction type aspects as well as the story itself. Please stop by Nick’s blog for the other part of the review. You will also find comments from each of us throughout the reviews.

While technically classified as a fantasy series, I would push for a classification of a form of historical fantasy. The world that the story takes place in is fictional and there are some supernatural elements – but the lifestyle is very much like that of medieval Europe. There are kings and queens, castles, tourneys, and wars, politics and intrigue. This book (and the rest of the series) would fit right in for a historical fiction reader. While reading you almost forget that this does not take place in Europe. The descriptions are so detailed that the world and its people absolutely come alive.
Nick says: George R. R. Martin is no stranger to bending genres. For example, his novel Fevre Dream incorporates the Civil War South and vampires. By doing this, his novels definitely appeal to a broader audience. Even if you hate fantasy novels, you won’t be disappointed by Thrones!
The book is structured where each chapter is narrated by a different character – mostly the Stark family with a few others thrown in for good measure. This layout allows the reader to get into the minds of each of these characters and really develop a strong feeling for them – positive or negative, you will definitely have your favorites. As the story progresses, these characters spread out over the vast world and through the shifting narrators you get to see what is going on all over Westeros.
Nick says: This way of storytelling definitely molds the way you are introduced to the world of Thrones. By focusing only on one character at a time, each chapter only gives you a sliver of the story. Chapter by chapter, mysteries arise, and yet the book as a whole gives the reader an all-encompassing feeling of closure. Thus, Martin blends the best aspects of first person and third person omniscient.
This is the first book in a series of seven – with four having been published so far. If you look at the whole series as one book – book one serves as an introduction and exposition. You learn who all of the key players are, their back stories, whose side they are on, where their loyalties lie, among other things. These will become very important in the following books. While this serves as an introduction to the characters, so much happens in their lives in this book, you will not be bored.

The other books in this series are: Book 2 – A Clash of Kings, Book 3 – A Storm of Swords, Book 4 – A Feast for Crows, and upcoming Book 5 – A Dance with Dragons. There is to be a series made from these books on HBO likely to premiere in Spring 2011. A card and board game has been made from these books as well – I have played a little, but always lose terribly to my boyfriend!  You can visit author’s website for additional information about the book.

A definite worth-while read.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TV Show Review: Earth Days: Seeds of a Revolution


Earth Days: The Seeds of a Revolution
American Experience Series

WGBH (PBS)
120 mins
April 19, 2010

Source: Received for Preview from WGBH
“It is now all the rage, but can you remember when everyone in America was not “Going Green”? AMERICAN EXPERIENCE’s Earth Days looks back to the dawn and development of the modern environmental movement through the extraordinary stories of the era’s pioneers — among them Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, biologist/Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Apollo Nine astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and renewable energy pioneer Hunter Lovins.” (from PBS.com).
I remember when I was in grade school, about 15 years ago, we would do a special project on Earth Day, or plant a tree, or something symbolic like that – but after that bell rang, I didn’t have a clue what Earth Day was. And I was perfectly content to keep it that way. This held true until I received the preview from WGBH. My immediate thought upon looking at the cover was, “Earth Day…this will be fun”, but I was so wrong. I learned SO much from this episode. In school we spent very little time learning about the 60’s-80’s - we would highlight some stuff about the presidents and then move on. This episode taught me more than my 4 years of high school did about this time period.

The very beginning and the very ending of a movie or tv show can really make it or break it – and this one definitely did it for me. The opening of the episode showed clips from every president since Kennedy making speeches about Earth Day. I found this so interesting because I hadn’t seen or heard half of them make speeches before. I also thought that it was a great way to show that it is still an important enough event that it continues to be relevant over the course of 40+ years. As with any decent documentary there are experts. The experts for this episode were from a diverse background: from politicians, ecologist, authors, liberals, and conservatives – among others. It really put things into perspective to see people from across the spectrum really believing in the message of Earth Day. At the end there was a “where are they now?” segment about the experts. Throughout the movie you got to see and hear about things that they had done for the movement “back in the day”, but this last segment really brought it around to show you what they are still doing for the cause.

Like I said previously, I went into watching this film with a very preconceived notion of what it would be about. I expected it to really focus on Earth Day itself – but surprisingly, the actual celebrations of Earth Day were relatively minor. The major focus was what leads up to the creation of Earth Day and the Environmental Movement. Absolutely not what I expected – but I think that was why I enjoyed the film much more than I thought. While watching, I compared this episode to the previous episode I had seen, Dolley Madison: America’s First Lady. And while they are two TOTALLY different subjects, I thoroughly enjoyed them both. I liked Dolley Madison because it was something that I already loved about an important historical figure, while Earth Days I enjoyed because we are really still living it right now.

I think, like many things, Earth Day is again becoming a “fashionable” thing to do. I’m always told, everything goes in cycles and, at least for me, it has. With all of these attempts to “go green” cropping up everywhere, you can’t help but be an advocate of Earth Day.

You can find all kinds of additional content at the PBS website. If you missed the episode, it will likely be available shortly on their website for viewing.





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday Time Again!

I can vouch for the fact that Mailbox Monday will most definitely increase the size of your ever growing TBR pile!

This week my mailbox was very good to me! I received four books from BookCloseouts.com. I got each book for $1.99 a piece, so I couldn’t pass up these great books. All of them I have found on other bloggers Mailbox Mondays or other blog posts – so thanks guys!

The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman

“A lush, ancient tale of treacherous secrets, forbidden love, and murder in an Ottoman palace.

Elizabeth Staveley sits in the Bodleian library, holding in her trembling hands a fragment of ancient paper. It is the key to a story that has been locked away for four centuries, the story of a British sea captain's daughter held captive in the sultans harem. Constantinople, 1599. There are rumors and strange stirrings in the sultan's palace. The chief black eunuch has been poisoned by a taste of a beautiful ship made of spun sugar. The sultan's mother faces threats to her power from her son's favorite concubine. And a secret rebellion is rising within the palace's most private quarters.

Meanwhile, the merchant Paul Pindar, secretary to the English ambassador,
brings a precious gift to the sultan. As he nears the palace, word comes to Pindar that the woman he once loved, Celia, may be alive, and hidden among the ranks of slaves in the sultan's harem. Can this really be the same Celia who disappeared in a shipwreck? And if it is, can the two be reunited? Spellbinding and steeped in mystery and sexual intrigue, The Aviary Gate transports readers to exotic sixteenth-century” (from the author’s website)

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

“It is England, in the fourteenth century, the old feudal order is starting to crack but the whim of a lord or the pleasure of a bishop can still seal nearly anyones fate. For Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor, a widow desperately trying to safeguard her holdings, it is a time made both sweeter and more dangerous by the arrival of Finn, a master illuminator who is lodged at Blackingham by the Church but is secretly working on a forbidden English translation of the Bible. As their hesitant friendship grows into a passionate alliance, wonderful new storyteller Brenda Rickman Vantrease brings us a glorious novel of love, treachery, art, and redemption on the eve of the Renaissance.” (from fantasticfiction.com)


The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis

The Borgia Bride is set in Italy 1492: Pope Alexander VI is elected. And so begins the Borgia reign of terror. Alexander murders, bribes and betrays to establish his dynasty. Every day, the River Tiber is full of new bodies. Sancha de Aragon, daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples, arrives in Rome newlywed to Alexander’s youngest son, Jofre. Their marriage protects Naples against the ambitions of the French King Louis and gains Spanish support for the Borgias.

But Rome is very different to her beloved Naples. The debauchery of the Borgia inner circle is notorious. Sancha is no innocent however: she possesses an indomitable spirit which allows her to survive in the snakepit.

The Borgia Bride is a sumptuous historical novel of passion, betrayal, scheming and incest, set in the Vatican during the 15th century, one of the most exciting, violent and also sensual times of European history.” (from author's website)

Vivaldi’s Virgins by Barbara Quick

“In this enthralling new novel, Barbara Quick recreates 18th century Venice at the height of its splendor and decadence. A story of longing and intrigue, half-told truths and toxic lies, Vivaldi’s Virgins unfolds through the eyes of Anna Maria dal Violin, one of the elite musicians cloistered in the foundling home where Antonio Vivaldi—known as the Red Priest of Venice—is maestro and composer.

Fourteen-year-old Anna Maria, abandoned at the Ospedale della Pietà as an infant, is determined to find out who she is and where she came from.” (from the author’s website)


Did your mailbox give you any gifts this week?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

New American Experience Episode Tonight: Earth Days

I have had the opportunity to preview the next new episode from the American Experience series from WGBH/PBS. This episode is The Seeds of Revolution: Earth Days, which premieres tonight, Monday April 19th, check your local listings for the time.

This film was entered into the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and had many rave reviews.

This is a summary from the American Experience website

“It is now all the rage, but can you remember when everyone in America was not “Going Green”? AMERICAN EXPERIENCE’s Earth Days looks back to the dawn and development of the modern environmental movement through the extraordinary stories of the era’s pioneers — among them Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, biologist/Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Apollo Nine astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and renewable energy pioneer Hunter Lovins.

Directed by acclaimed documentarian Robert Stone (Oswald’s Ghost, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst) Earth Days is both a poetic meditation on man’s complex relationship with nature and an engaging history of the revolutionary achievements — and missed opportunities — of groundbreaking eco-activism.”


Also, here is the video trailer to whet your appetite:




I will have a review of the episode posted on Tuesday. Hope to hear what you think of the episode.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Giveaway Winner of Claude & Camille

Good morning everyone - happy Sunday. I won't be doing a Sunday Salon today so I will take this time to announce the winner of Claude & Camille.

And the winner is Linda!!! Congrats you are getting a truly great book. I will be sending out an email to you shortly.

Thanks to everyone who entered, there was a really great turnout. If you didn't win here, there is still time to enter at the sites listed below:

Passages to the Past - Ends April 20
Hist-Fic Chick - Ends April 23
Peeking Between the Pages - Ends May 8




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Guest Post with Stephanie Cowell, Author of Claude and Camille

Today I have the wonderful opportunity to present my readers with a guest post by Stephanie Cowell. This fits into this time of year - spring - when we all do a little weeding out of what we have and prepping for the additional wonderful books we can get. Take it away Stephanie...

"How many books are on your night table?"

I must confess that my house is joyfully cluttered with books, and, if you are reading this guest blog, I suppose your house is likewise cluttered. I never can understand how I got so many! I buy them online and in large and small bookstores. I linger at street vendors who display them on rickety tables in my New York City neighborhood. My publishers send them to me. My friends bring them to me. Some of them follow me home, hiding in my laundry bag.
The other day I tried to count the ones on my night table and my shelf still to be read and gave up at about twenty-five. I know there are more. Plus I am a great re-reader. I re-read books often, still with a slight sense of anxiety, because you never know for sure if Elizabeth will marry Mr. Darcy this time or if she has run off to some other book and found another hero.

Something else: no novel I love is replaceable by any other novel. And sometimes when I can’t sleep I suddenly get a desire to read a particular novel and get up to look for it. “What are you looking for?” my husband asks me from his pillow and his own reading. “A book,” I mutter. He looks at the great pile on my night table and leaning up against the side of my bed. “You have a book,” he says. “I want one particular book,” I reply. Sometimes twenty minutes later at two in the morning I am standing on a chair by the living room shelves, balancing precariously and trying to find it. Being a book lover can be dangerous.
Every year I sit down to figure out which books I can bring to the library to donate. This takes a long time, because I get lost in reading every fifth one I put my hands on. I have been known to drag them in a shopping cart and just when the librarian is about to sweep them gratefully away, I plunge my hand in and retrieve two or three to take back again. “You know you couldn’t have a full life without us!” the books murmur. “What could you have been thinking?” And, safe in the cart and content as cats, they go home with me again.
Thanks Stephanie for this wonderful post - this is an experience that I think all of us readers can relate to!
Other events for the HFBRT today:
~ Lizzy's Book Review at Historically Obsessed
~Author Interview with Stephanie at Passages to the Past



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday #33

It's Monday again and you know what that means! It's time to find out what came in our mailboxes!

I had a pretty good turnout this week - although not all of them came in my mailbox (I bought some at Borders too!)

From PaperBackSwap I received the final missing book in the Josephine series - Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe by Sandra Gulland.

From a giveaway that I won at The Burton Review I received my much anticipated 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan.

Finally from Borders I bought The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman because I have just heard so many great things about this book. I also broke down and bought The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato (which was originally supposed to be the March event for HFBRT - but I guess the publicist fell off the face of the Earth).

Hope you all received some great books too!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Frederic Bazille - Medical Student by Day, Impressionist Painter by Night

Frederic Bazille is one of the characters in Claude & Camille who I was fascinated with. He was one of Claude’s best friends and a member of the Impressionist group, but he was one that I had never heard of prior to reading this book. While I don’t want to give too much away about Bazille, because it will be much more enjoyable when you read the book, I wanted to share some information about him and show some of his art.

One of the things that really interested me about Bazille was that he was training to become a physician. He was going to classes and just dabbling in paint on the side. After moving to Paris and becoming friends with the likes of Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, he began to take painting more seriously and eventually failed his medical exams, a few times. After that, he took to painting full time. It is also interesting to note that he was not one of the starving artists. He came from a wealthy family and often was able to help out his fellow artists when they needed money for rent or to buy supplies. This definitely set him in a class of his own - he didn't need to worry so much about producing work to sell so he could have food. He could focus on really painting what he wanted.

Some of his works include:









The Artist’s Studio (1870)
This painting is mentioned in Claude & Camille. In this painting are Renoir, Monet, critic Emile Zola, Edouard Manet, Bazille, and Edmond Maitre are in Bazille’s studio. This was a common meeting place for the artists and I think this painting personifies them completely.









The Family Reunion (1867)
This is Bazille’s best know work. This painting was chosen to be exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1869 – a great honor – something that all of the Impressionists strove for.


You will have to wait to read the book to find out what eventually happens to Bazille!


Also today at HFBRT:
Lucy’s Book Review at Enchanted by Josephine
Author Guest Post at Historically Obsessed

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of the book!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Giveaway - Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell

As part of the exciting events during the HFBRT Claude & Camille week, I have one copy of Claude & Camille to giveaway here at The Maiden’s Court! If you are interested in what I thought of this book, be sure to check out my review. Entries are open to the US and Canada only – sorry to my international followers.

To enter:
• Leave a comment on this post with your email address for one entry – no email – no entry
• +1 entry – if you are a follower
• +1 entry – each time you tweet, blog post, post on your sidebar and leave a link below
• +2 entries – leave a comment on my review

This giveaway ends April 17, 2010 and a winner will be drawn the next day. Good luck!





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell


Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
ARC, Paperback, 352 pages
Crown Publishing
April 6, 2010
★★★★★

Genre: Art Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Crown Publishing for HFBRT April Event
“In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.
 
His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside.
 
A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement, Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order.”
Claude Monet was a struggling young artist who was part of a burgeoning movement – living from sale to sale of his artwork, collaborating with his fellow painters: Frederic Bazille, Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Camille Doncieux was a flowering young woman from the upper crust of society who was set to follow the path laid out for her by her parents – the way all respectable young women should. When these two accidentally cross paths, both of their lives change in ways that they could never imagine.

I loved the way that this story was framed – there are sections from the past lives of Claude and Camille, each laid out with dates, and interludes of Claude’s later life in his beautiful home/garden in Giverny. There are intimate details revealed in the interludes that explain parts of the back story. From the very beginning, which is set in one of the interludes, you get the feeling that there is a great sadness in Claude’s life – something which happened that he is held responsible for. You can feel his pain and sadness, and even though you know that something terrible is going to happen and you think you are prepared for it, I would be very surprised if you don’t shed a few tears upon the reveal.

I was never a huge fan of Monet’s artwork – I can appreciate it, but I’m not a fan of the Impressionist movement as a whole. Not being a fan, I had never thought to consider looking up anything about his life, but after reading this novel, I was very interested in the life of Claude and Camille. While parts of the novel are fictionalized for the sake of the story, I thought that it only added to the allure of Monet. I know that the beautiful cover was initially what drew me to this book (this is not the current cover, but I am so thankful to have received the ARC copy with my favorite cover) and I am so glad that I picked it up – one of my top reads so far this year.

This was a beautifully written story and this would be one of those books that I would read again. I am going to move Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell up my TBR list because of how much I enjoyed this book.

Stephanie Cowell has also written: Marrying Mozart, The Players, and Nicholas Cooke.  You can visit Stephanie at her website or blog for more information about her previous works and upcoming events.

To whet your appetite more for Claude and Camille, you can watch this beautiful book trailer:


 

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


 

Also up today at HFBRT:
Author Guest Post at Hist-Fic Chick
Special Giveaway at Passages to the Past

 



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Book Alert - Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell

Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell

Genre: Art Historical Fiction

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Release Date: April 6, 2010

"Claude & Camille is the story of the young, unknown Claude Monet and his great muse, Camille Doncieux. He is known to the world as an old man in his garden at Giverny but what was he like when he was a handsome, obscure twenty-five- year-old painter? Why did he fall so much in love with this difficult, secretive, devoted upper-class girl?" (from Stephanie Cowell's website).

This was a WONDERFUL book! Look for my review later this week, as well as a guest post, creative post and book giveaway here. Check out all of the HFBRT events for this book here.

The events today are:
Amy's book review and giveaway at Passages to the Past
Author guest post and giveaway at The Burton Review
Special Giveaway at Historical-Fiction.com

Also, check out this book trailer:







Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mailbox Monday #32

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and (I know from experience) will lead to massive TBR piles.

I am happy to have something to contribute this week. My mailbox has been very quiet for the last few.

From Swaptree I received The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland (don't worry Lucy, I have the second one coming from PaperBackSwap, so in about a week I will finally have them all, now to just have the time to read them).

I also received 2 books for review from publicist Phenix&Phenix:

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

"Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sisters behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil, a nice — if a bit negligent— sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine. Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy — leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author’s own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn't logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places" (from Beth Pattillo's website)

The Revolutionary Paul Revere by Joel J. Miller (non-fiction)
"The story of Paul Revere is the story of the American Revolution. Always smack dab in the thick of things, he was an ordinary citizen living in extraordinarily turbulent times. Revere played key roles in colonial tax fights and riots, the aftermath of the infamous Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and even the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. In this fast-paced, dramatic account, Paul Revere’s life pulses with energy as it explores his family and church life along with his revolutionary contribution as
a spy, entrepreneur, express rider, freemason, and commercial visionary" (from Joel J. Miller's website).
Did you have a good Mailbox this week?


Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court