*UPDATE*

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finalists in the Wind Warrior Blog Tour

Hello everyone! I wanted to announce the 5 finalists in the Wind Warrior Blog Tour Giveaway. These finalists will be sent to the author and she will pick the grand prize winners. And the 5 finalists from The Maiden's Court are:

Roberta!
Misha1989!
Mrsshukra!
Michele!
Dani!


Finalists - please send me your mailing addresses ASAP (I am emailing you) - I need to pass this information on to the author today. Congrats and thank you to everyone that entered!






Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson


The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson
Unabridged, 9 hr. 36 min.
BBC Audiobooks America
Rebekah Germain (narrator)
September 3, 2009
★★★½☆☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Audio Book

Source: Borrowed Audio Book from Library
“Queen of Scotland at six days of age, married as a young girl to the invalid young king of France, Mary took the reins of the unruly kingdom of Scotland as a young widow and fought to keep her throne. A second marriage to her handsome but dissolute cousin Lord Darnley ended in murder and scandal, while a third to the dashing Lord Bothwell, the love of her life, gave her joy but widened the scandal and surrounded her with enduring ill repute.

Unable to rise above the violence and disorder that swirled around her, Mary escaped to England—only to find herself a prisoner of her ruthless, merciless cousin Queen Elizabeth.

Here, in a riveting first-person account, is the enchanting woman whose name still evokes excitement and compassion—and whose death under the headsman’s axe still draws forth our sorrow”
I have had a couple Carolly Erickson novels on my shelf for over a year and just never had the time to pick them up – I have also heard many mixed reviews, which could be another reason why I sort of shied away. But while walking through my new library, I saw this on the audio book shelf and decided that now was as good a time as any.

I have mixed feelings about this book. To start off with the good – it was a very dramatic, attention holding story. From beginning to end there was something going on and I never felt like I was left waiting for something more. With this being a first person narrator driven story, I was very happy to not be left with constant description and limited action. There were also some very helpful date references – without it feeling too diary like – that really helped set the time period for me.

Now for the “I wouldn’t exactly classify it as bad, but not great” – this was a very, very fictionalized retelling of her story. While that is not a bad thing – because this is historical fiction and there was an author note at the end (more on that later) – it seemed unbelievable at times. It is commonly told that Mary was wed to Lord Bothwell (her third husband) by force after he took her hostage and possibly raped her. That is not at all how this happened in this memoir. While not giving anything away, Erickson dramatically changed the character of dear “Jamie” Bothwell, which really changed the whole life story of Mary. These changes would have gone over with me better if Mary was more convincing in her reasoning for the decisions she makes. The character felt very wishy-washy to me. Now in regard to the Author’s Note – I usually want the author to provide some sort of insight into radical changes they made or explain something further (an author with a great hand at composing author notes is Bernard Cornwell!). This authors note was probably around 4 sentences basically saying that she fictionalized many details for the purpose of the story to be told – but didn’t go into any details. I would have liked more.

Overall, if you put the history into the background and just follow the story, it is pretty good. I did find myself enjoying the Bothwell/Mary story. If you are a hard stickler for historical accuracy, I would skip this one. I am very glad I chose this on audio book rather than in hard copy.


★★★★☆
 
As far as the audio part goes, I thought that this narrator did pretty well. She voiced a rather convincing Mary - even if the actual character was very fictionalized.

Author Carolly Erickson also has written many, many other novels, but a few of those are: Rival to the Queen, The Favored Queen, An Unfaithful Queen, and The Spanish Queen.  You can visit Erickson’s author website for additional information about 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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay


Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Unabridged, 9 hr. 58 min.
Macmillan Audio
Polly Stone (narrator)
May 26, 2009
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical & Contemporary Fiction, Audiobook

Source: Audiobook borrowed from Library
“Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode”
.
This book came highly recommended to me by my Aunt and I have to pass on my high recommendations for this book to you all.

This novel tells two stories – both set in Paris, France, but 60 years apart. You have the story taking place in 1942 – told through the eyes of a 10 year old child. With this perspective, you are not told everything, but we as the reader can start to put pieces together for a more complete story. In her story the characters do not have names – they are just mother, brother, father, etc. For me, the fact that people were not given names – made this anyone’s story; it wasn’t necessarily just the story of Sarah and her family’s traumatic event, but the story of any of the families affected by the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup.

The other story is the 2002 story – this is the story of Julia – an American ex-patriot living in France. She is a journalist and begins writing a story about the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup for the magazine that she works for and becomes so absorbed with the story of this little girl, Sarah. As the novel bounces back and forth between time periods, you can use the information you learn through Julia’s research to help understand what is going on in Sarah’s story.

About half-way through the novel the two stories merge in a shocking way. You learn the names and fates of the characters and at that point it becomes Sarah’s story – no longer is it the generic story of any little girl.

This is a very sad and traumatic story – you will likely need a few tissues. Although the events are sad, the fact that Julia is doing this research and determined to bring these events back into the minds of the public who have forgotten, is admirable and something that I think should happen more often. If we don’t remember, we forget – it’s a very straightforward concept. For me, the writing was flawless and the story was so inspirational and taught me a lot.

★★★★½☆


The narration was absolutely top notch! With this book set in France and some phrases in French, it was easier to get the real feel of the story - I know absolutely no French so I would have slaughtered it.

Author Tatiana de Rosnay also has written The House I Loved and A Secret Kept. You can visit de Rosnay’s website for additional information about the book.


This book has been turned into a movie, Elle s’appelait Sarah, which was recently picked up at the Toronto Film Festival for US distribution by Weinstein & Co. It is scheduled to be released in France on October 13, 2010. It stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Julia and Melusine Mayance as Sarah.

Here is the trailer –

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers

You can also check out my review of the movie.

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, September 27, 2010

Mailbox Monday #49

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page - but during the month of September it will be hosted by Bermudaonion Weblog.

I had a great haul from my mailbox this week - review copies, PBS books, and bookstore purchases (that didn't arrive in my mailbox).

From Sourcebooks I received the rerelease of one of Margaret Campbell Barnes books - The Passionate Brood. I struggled through Sourcebook's previous release of her book Within the Hollow Crown, so I hope this one is better.

I used the last 2 credits I had on PaperBackSwap to get The Song of Hannah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy and Doomed Queens by Kris Waldher (I have been dying for this one).

Then I used my birthday giftcard to Barnes & Noble to get The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. I have been wanting to read these for awhile and the covers are gorgeous! Plus I needed to get out of England and check out Russia for awhile.

Did you get anything in your mailbox this past week?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 24, 2010

Caught on Tape: Off With Their Heads!


Usually when I do an edition of Caught on Tape, it focuses on one person, this time, as part of Off With Their Heads! Week, I thought it would be interesting to see some of the portrayals of royal executions in TV and movies. I have only chosen one scene per character even though there may have been several to pick from – in order to keep this to a reasonable length post (it is going to be lengthy already. I also tried to stick with dramas instead of biopics or historical documentaries.

So let’s start this off with the queens…

When I think of a royal beheading, my mind immediately goes to Anne Boleyn – most likely because the Tudors have been all the hype lately. This clip is from the TV show the Tudors and I thought that Natalie Dormer did a fantastic job! I have to admit, I cried when I watched this episode. The music was beautiful too.



Next up, again from the Tudors is Katherine Howard (played by Tamzin Merchant)– the other wife that Henry VIII had beheaded – and Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford (played by Joanne King). They were both executed one after the other and instead of breaking them apart, I thought it would be best to do the combined scene. You should note Katherine reaction after Jane is executed. I would have hated to be her; I would have rather went first. This scene doesn’t quite have the same feel as the Anne scene.



Lady Jane Grey was the Nine Day Queen who ruled England after the death of King Edward and before the reign of Queen Mary. This scene is from the 1986 move Lady Jane starring Helena Bonham Carter – I didn’t think this movie was that bad. There is the infamous “where is it?, where is it?” line too.



Now to move a little later in time, to Mary Queen of Scots. The scene I selected was from the BBC serial drama Elizabeth R (1971) – something I am moving up my list to see. In this Queen Mary is played by Vivian Pickles. It is a little bit of a long scene and not as dramatic as the previous few scenes, but it gets the point across. You get to see how bad the executioner was. The aftermath scene with Queen Elizabeth is pretty interesting too.



The final Queen, and the only one that I have from outside England, is Marie Antoinette. You probably know that she lost her head in a very different manner than the rest – by the guillotine during the French Revolution. A very public execution and there were not really any last words. This clip comes from the 2001 movie i– Marie is played by Joely Richardson.



Now that we have finished looking at the royal women, let us take a look at the men, both royal and courtiers.

Thomas Cromwell was one of Henry VIII’s most influential advisors. Cromwell advocated for the removal of Anne Boleyn and later was instrumental in the marriage of Henry to Anne of Cleves – which ultimately led to his downfall. Because of the disaster of this marriage, his enemies took advantage and he was executed on the same day Henry wed Katherine Howard (and we know how that one ended). This clip is from the Tudors and features James Frain as Cromwell.



Another Thomas who lost his head during the reign of Henry VIII was Thomas More. More was the Lord Chancellor to Henry following Thomas Wolsey. More’s downfall was that he disapproved of the King’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. All nobles were required to swear to the Act of Succession (stating that Anne was the legitimate Queen), which More did, but what he could not accept was the oath of supremacy, giving Parliament the right to legislate religious issues, and acknowledging the divorce to Catherine as legitimate. Many urged him to make the oath but he would not. He was charged with treason and sentenced to death. This scene is again taken from the Tudors and More is played by Jeremy Northam.



My final segment is on my only King – Charles I. Charles was the victim of the English Civil War. In the past, the king would be overthrown and murdered – this was basically the first time that a king was given a trial. He was found guilty a high treason for inciting the Civil War and other crimes and was subsequently executed. The scene I chose was from the 1970 movie Cromwell where Charles I was played by Alec Guinness. A very emotional scene.



I hope that these scenes have been interesting to you as we explored these terrible times in history. Many of these people didn’t really do terrible crimes that should have lead to execution – maybe jail, but execution was a little harsh.

Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Any others that you have seen that you thought were better?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Off With Their Heads! - Books of Last Days

Sometimes you just want to read a book that is about a small segment of someone's life. In this case, the last days of someone. Here is a list of books that cover the last period of our historical figures lives or relate to them in some way. I haven't read most of these, so don't hold me to it. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know!

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir – NF examines the last 4 months of her life

The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy – Anne looking back on her life while in the Tower

The Rose Without a Thorn by Jean Plaidy – Katherine looking back on her life while in Tower

The Captive Queen of Scots by Jean Plaidy – the life of Mary from captivity in Lochleven castle until the end

The Trial of Mary Queen of Scots: A Brief History with Documents by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis – NF focuses on the treason trial and execution of Mary

The Road from Versailles: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the Fall of the French Monarchy by Munro Price – NF examines politics of the Revolution and the family’s failed attempt to escape France

Flaunting Extravagant Queen by Jean Plaidy – follows Marie Antoinette from her marriage to her death

Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi – YA – Jane retells her tale from beyond the grave

A Coffin for King Charles: The Trial and Execution of Charles I by C. V. Wedgewood – NF – Trial and execution

The Trial of Charles I: A Documentary History by David Lagomarsino – NF – Documentary account and first hand retelling of trial

The King’s Trial: Louis XVI vs. The French Revolution by David P. Jordan – NF – looks at Louis XVI from when he surrenders his crown until his execution

Regicide and Revolution: Speeches at the Trial of Louis XVI by Michael Walzer – NF – speeches




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Off With Their Heads! - Famous Last Words

Sometimes the thing that someone is remembered best for is the last words that they say. This is true in many cases with historical figures. It is also true that sometimes these last words are just what a contemporary records as their last words. This may be fiction but it ends up being what everyone remembers - this is likely the case with Katherine Howard's last words. Sometimes their last words were just to get them safely into Heaven. Others did not even have their last words recorded (Jane Boleyn). Let's explore these now.

"To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul." ~ Anne Boleyn

"I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper." ~ Catherine Howard (rumored to be said)

"Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!" ~ Jane Grey

"Never have I had such assistants to disrobe me, and never have I put off my clothes before such a company." ~ Mary, Queen of Scots

"Pardon me Sir, I meant not to do it", ~ Marie Antoinette (she tripped over the executioner’s foot on the way to the guillotine)

“I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.” ~ Louis XVI

"I shall go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be."~ Charles I

"The King's good servant but God's first." ~ Thomas More

"Good people, I come here to die and not to purge myself as some may think I should. I am by law condemned to die and I thank my Lord God that has granted me this death for my offense, for since I came of age I have lived as a sinner, and offended my Lord God for which I ask Him heartily for forgiveness. I have also offended my prince, for which I ask him hearty amnesty. I heartily desire you to pray for the King's Grace, and that he may long live with you in health and prosperity, and that after him his son Prince Edward may long reign over you.

Gentlemen, you should all take warning from me, who was as you know from a poor man made by the Prince into a great gentleman, and that I, not contented with that, not with having the kingdom at my orders, presumed to a still higher state.

My pride has brought its punishment."
~Thomas Cromwell

Last words can say a lot about a person, huh?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Off With Their Heads! - In Pictures

In continuing Off With Their Heads! Week, I have put together a slide show of contemporary drawings and paintings of the executions or the events leading up to the exections. There are a couple exceptions where I could not find contemporary works - so I used some screen captures from the Tudors.

video





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 20, 2010

Off With Their Heads: Intro of the Players

To kick-off Off With Their Heads week, I thought it would be a good idea to get to know the characters that we will be encountering throughout the week. While we will not be looking at each and every royal or courtier that has lost their head, but I chose several of the best know cases.

First, the Queens – there are 5 very well known Queens – and all but one was at the hands of one Tudor or another.

Anne Boleyn – Anne was the first Queen to lose her head because of Henry VIII. Henry had been so in love with Anne that he had divorced his previous wife Catherine. But alas, that would not last long. Anne was charged with adultery, incest (with her brother), and treason against the king. These charges were most assuredly false, but were helped along by her sister in law (Jane Boleyn) – who we will see a little later on. Because of political manipulations and the desire for a male heir, Henry signed off on the warrant and Anne was executed by a French swordsman on May 19, 1536.

Katherine Howard – Katherine was the second Queen who fell to Henry – for quite similar reasons as her predecessor, but her charges were most likely true. Henry married Katherine (a young, pretty girl) after his failed marriage to Anne of Cleves. By this time Henry was aging and heavy and oozing – not much for a young girl to stick around for. Katherine began a secret love affair with Thomas Culpepper (which Jane Boleyn helped along) – which ultimately lead to her treason charge and execution. She was executed on February 13, 1542.

Jane Grey – Jane was the Nine Day Queen – she was pushed into the role by those around her who didn’t want Mary Tudor to become the Catholic Queen after Edward VI died. After just a few days, the Privy Council decided that Mary was the appropriate queen of England and she was imprisoned in the Tower of London to await the decision of what Queen Mary would do about her. Jane was charged with high treason but was supposedly going to be spared. Another rebellion a few days later sealed the deal – because her father was involved – and she was then executed on February 12, 1554 (almost exactly 2 years from the date of Catherine Howard’s execution).

Mary, Queen of Scots – Mary would be the last Queen to fall to a Tudor. Mary escaped from captivity in Scotland to England with the hope that her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, would help her. She thought wrong and Elizabeth had her imprisoned at various households across England. After several plots (on the part of Mary) she became too much of a risk to Elizabeth. She was found guilty of attempts on the life of the Queen and found guilty – although the Queen held off on signing the death warrant. After the warrant was signed – Elizabeth hadn’t given permission for it to be carried out – yet her councilors carried out the act quickly so that her mind couldn’t be changed. She was executed on February 8, 1587.

Marie Antoinette – Marie is our first and only Queen from outside of England. Most know the story of Marie Antoinette. Her and her husband, Louis XVI were frivolous in the way that they lived while their subjects faced hard times. The subjects revolted and the King and Queen were taken captive. The King was tried and executed – as we will look at later. Marie was charged with several crimes including incest with her young son. She was found guilty of treason in an orchestrated trial and sentenced to execution by the guillotine. She suffered the indignity of having her hair cut off and being driven through the mob in a cart in a simple, plain dress. She was executed on October 16, 1793. She was buried in an unmarked grave.

Now that we have investigated the Queens, we should look at the few Kings.

Louis XVI – This French King was the husband of Marie Antoinette. As stated above, they were dethroned during the French Revolution. Louis was charged with high treason and crimes against the state. All of the voting members of The Convention found him guilty of his crimes, but the vote was much closer on the issue of execution. In the end, it was decided he would be executed. On January 21, 1793 Louis was beheaded by the guillotine. There are some accounts that say his head was not fully severed in the first blow.

Charles I – The story of Charles I’s road to execution is a rather intricate story, which I am not even sure I really understand enough to describe here, so I’m going to rather explain just his trial and execution. The concept of trying a king was relatively new – usually he would just be overthrown and then murdered. The charges against Charles were that of treason and using his power to promote personal interests rather than that of the state. He also was, in part, responsible for helping along the civil wars. Charles refused to answer to the charges against him and his death warrant was signed. He was executed on January 30, 1649. In an unprecedented action, the head of Charles I was sewn back onto his body.

The last three characters that we will look at, in brief, are royal courtiers. There were many, many courtiers that I could have chosen for this, from many different courts – but I chose to stick with ones that are from the time of Henry VIII of England.

Jane Boleyn – Jane contributed to the downfall of not only Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, but also to her husband, George Boleyn, and several others. She provided witness to Anne’s adultery and incest and she conspired with Katherine for her secret trysts with Thomas Culpepper. For her actions in the Culpepper scandal, Jane was imprisoned and interrogated. During this time she appeared to suffer from a mental breakdown. At that time, those mentally insane could not be executed, but Henry changed all of that with a flick of his pen which changed the law to allow the execution of the insane. Jane was executed on February 13, 1542 – right before Katherine Howard.

Thomas More – Thomas was the Lord Chancellor of England – in this role, he was very effective. His problem stemmed from the religious upheaval in England. Thomas was a staunch Catholic during a time when the tides were changing to the Church of England. He resigned from his office because he refused to take an oath that renounced jurisdiction over the church to anyone but the sovereign. He also did not like Anne Boleyn. He refused to attend the coronation, which put him on Henry’s bad side. He had many petty charges brought against him, but they were proven to be false. What ultimately brought him down was his inability to swear to the oath of supremacy and disagreed with the King’s divorce from Queen Catherine. This led to his charge of treason. More refused to answer all questions – believing that if he didn’t deny the King was the ruler of the Church, he couldn’t be found guilty. He was found guilty anyway. He was executed on July 6, 1535 and his head was posted on London Bridge.

Thomas Cromwell – Cromwell was the Chief Minister to Charles I. Cromwell was Henry’s biggest supporter in the overthrown of Anne in favor of Jane Seymour. His downfall would be because of another of Henry’s failed marriages – Anne of Cleves. Cromwell was a strong supporter of the Cleves marriage because it would make the Reformation much stronger – by bringing in a Protestant queen. The Cleves marriage was a disaster – the King was not satisfied and Cromwell could not find him a way out of it without upsetting the Duke of Cleves and the Protestants. His enemies found a way to get him out of the picture. An Act of Attainder was signed but held until the Cleves marriage was ended. He was executed on July 28, 1540.

Now that you have a sense of what was behind the stories of these characters, we can explore other avenues throughout this week. Hope you learned a little something today. Stay tuned tomorrow for Off With Their Heads! In Pictures.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Suddenly Sunday - Off With Their Heads!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog.

Happy Sunday Everyone! Hope you have been having a great weekend – I certainly don’t want it to end…

First I want to take the chance to announce the winner of the giveaway for The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott. The winner was chosen by Random.org and the winner is …

PRICILLA!

Congrats, I am sending you an email for your contact info. If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I will select an alternate winner. Now, it other news, this week I am hosting a weeklong event called Off With Their Heads! Week. I will be featuring posts that star those royals and courtiers that parted with their heads under dire circumstances.

On Monday – Intro of the Players – there will be short summaries of the key players featured this week

On Tuesday – Off With Their Heads! In Pictures – we will explore the way that these deaths were recorded in paintings and drawings

On Wednesday – Famous Last Lines – we will take a look at some of the last speeches said during their last minutes

On Thursday – Books of Last Days – this will feature books that really focus on the end of these character’s lives

On Friday – The newest segment of Caught on Tape: Off With Their Heads!


I hope you all will drop by and take part in the fun.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 17, 2010

Announcing BOARDWALK EMPIRE on HBO

Hello everyone! I am so excited about this new show coming this Sunday to HBO that I just found out about yesterday…and I absolutely had to share this news! I am sure that some of you out there have HBO and might be interested in a new drama with a historical edge.

Starting this Sunday, a new series, BOARDWALK EMPIRE begins. I don't know what can be better - 1920's, Prohibition, Atlantic City, gangsters! It is slated to have a 12 episodes this season. From the press release –

“America in 1920: The Great War was over, Wall Street was about to boom and everything was for sale, even the World Series. It was a time of change when women got the vote, broadcast radio began and young people ruled the world.

From Terence Winter, Emmy® Award-winning writer of “The Sopranos” and Academy® Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, BOARDWALK EMPIRE is set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal throughout the United States. The new HBO drama series kicks off its 12-episode season SUNDAY, SEPT. 19 (9:00-10:15 p.m. ET/PT).

On the beach in southern New Jersey sat Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as “The World’s Playground,” a place where the rules didn’t apply. Massive hotels lined its famous Boardwalk, which featured nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment that rivaled Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man could get away and live like a king – legally or illegally.

The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City was the town’s treasurer, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a political fixer and backroom dealer who was equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town was a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day’s drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson took full advantage.

Along with his brother Elias (Shea Whigham), the town’s sheriff, and a crew of ward bosses and local thugs, Nucky carved out a niche for himself as the man to see for any illegal alcohol. He was an equal-opportunity gangster, doing business with Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), “Big Jim” Colosimo (Frank Crudele), “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham).

As BOARDWALK EMPIRE begins, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), Nucky’s former protégé and driver, returns home from the Great War, eager to get ahead and reclaim his rightful place in Nucky’s organization. But when Jimmy feels things aren’t moving quickly enough, he takes matters into his own hands, forming a deadly alliance with associates of Nucky’s that sets the Feds, led by Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), on his mentor’s tail. Complicating matters further is Nucky’s burgeoning relationship with Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) a woman in an abusive marriage whom he tries to help.

The show also stars Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White, leader of the city’s African-American community; Dabney Coleman as Commodore Louis Kaestner, Nucky’s mentor; Paz de la Huerta as Nucky’s girlfriend Lucy; Aleksa Palladino as Angela, Jimmy Darmody’s Bohemian girlfriend and mother of their three-year-old son; Paul Sparks as Mickey Doyle; Anthony Laciura as Eddie Kessler; and Gretchen Mol as Gillian, a local showgirl with whom Nucky shares a long and complicated history.”

Watch this video trailer and you will be absolutely hooked! I didn’t have HBO…until today because I was that excited for this show. Coming from the director of the SOPRANOS and Martin Scorsese, I have no doubt it will be awesome.



I plan on watching this Sunday and will probably post some of my reactions during this week – I don’t know if I plan on doing it on a regular basis or not, but maybe from time to time. Please drop me a line if you watch too and let me know what you think!





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Great Birthday Giveaway!

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me!! Today is my 23rd birthday – and I love birthdays. Here’s hoping this is a good year – 23 has always been one of my lucky numbers. Planning on hanging out with the boyfriend today, going out with friends tomorrow and then going to a huge fair on Saturday with the same friends and boy, and then Sunday my parents are coming up. A great long weekend planned.

And as with any birthday – there should be presents – so I’m offering up these goodies! I have three gently read books up for grabs – and all of these were previously featured in Historical Fiction Blogger Round Table events this year. Up for grabs are:

• Finished copy of O Juliet by Robin Maxwell
• ARC of The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
• ARC of Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner

There will be three winners chosen on September 30th and announced on October 1st. This giveaway is only open to US and Canada (since I will be shipping out three books myself).

Here are the rules:

1. Post a comment below with your email address and indicate what books you would like to be entered to win (1, 2 or all of them!)
2. You must be a follower of this blog – this is a thanks to all of my followers (you can be new or old followers)
3. For an additional entry – spread the word! – Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. Just come back and leave the link here (+1 for each).

Good luck everyone!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Royal Mistress Challenge Complete

I completed another challenge – this time The Royal Mistress Challenge hosted by The Misadventures of Moppet . You can still sneak into this challenge as it runs until December 31, 2010.

I immediately was drawn to this challenge because I had several books on my shelf that met the requirements of this challenge – and I didn’t really get to any of those – all of the ones I read for the challenge were received after January 1, 2010 for review. Oops, I will get to those on my shelf at some point (especially because now I love Susan Holloway Scott’s books).

The abbreviated rules are as follows (you can find the finer points on the blog):

1) The main character must be a real mistress (not a fictional one)
2) Books can be re-reads and/or overlap with other challenges
3) You can choose your level and change at any time

I chose the Maid of Honour level – Read up to three books – because I thought it was a manageable level – I don’t think I would have finished any more this year.

Here are the links to my reviews:

1. Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott
2. The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott
3. For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Review: For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick


For the King’s Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick
AKA – The Time of Singing (UK version)
ARC, Paperback, 544 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
August 5, 2010
★★★★★

Genre: Historical Fiction, 12 c.

Source: Received from Publisher Sourcebooks for Review

When Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry II’s court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute, he becomes enchanted with Ida de Tosney, young mistress to the powerful king. A victim of Henry’s seduction and the mother of his son, Ida sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life. But Ida pays an agonizing price when she leaves the king, and as Roger’s importance grows and he gains and earldom, their marriage comes under increasing strain. Based on the true story of a royal mistress and the young lord she chose to marry, For the King’s Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best.”

This was another awesome read for me and another fantastic book by Elizabeth Chadwick.

Prior to this, the only other Chadwick books that I have read are The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion – both about William Marshall and his family. For the King’s Favor went right along with these previous two in a way. This book is about Ida de Tosney and Roger Bigod, who were friends with the Marshall’s and would also marry one of their children to one of the Marshall’s children. This was a great next book for me because it built on the stories that I already knew and followed the historical events that I was previously exposed to, but I had the opportunity to look at from a different perspective. It was great to see William Marshall pop in from time to time or hear Roger talk about things that were happening to William that I had see in depth in the previous books. It was like visiting an old friend that I had sorely missed since March when I read The Scarlet Lion.

I really enjoyed the way this story was constructed – you would bounce back and forth between Roger’s story and Ida’s story – especially before they were married. You would get to see Ida’s life at Henry II’s court and then Roger trying to save the lands that were his from his thieving step-mother and step-brothers. After they were married the stories unified some but there were times when they were apart and you would again get to see the different sides to the story. One of the most intriguing characters for me in this story was actually young William Longspee, son of Ida and Henry. There were a few times when he would get to tell his story and it was fascinating to see how he saw the world. He mostly learned about his mother through the stories of others, so it was interesting to see how the opinions of people can really shape how someone sees you. I also really liked the dynamic that grew between him and Roger. There is one scene toward the end of the book that really brings most of the characters of the story together that I found was just an awesome culmination (but I won’t give it away – when you read it you will know exactly what I’m talking about).

I loved this book for all the same reasons that I enjoyed The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. It is actually really hard for me to differentiate how I feel about these books – but I loved them all!

I can’t wait to read her other books that tie into the Marshall-Bigod stories – A Place Beyond Courage (UK release - about William Marshall’s father) and To Defy a King (about William’s daughter, Mahelt, and Roger’s son, Hugh). You can visit Elizabeth Chadwick at her website or visit one of her many blogs.

You can read an excerpt from this book (well, actually from the printing of The Time For Singing, but it's virtually the same).  Also, below is the book trailer:
 
 

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

Friday, September 10, 2010

Author Interview with Paula Marantz Cohen

I have the wonderful opportunity to welcome Paula Marantz Cohen, author of the new release What Alice Knew, to The Maiden’s Court today. She has dropped by to answer a few questions about her book and what is coming up next. So without further adieu…


What Alice Knew is very different from your other releases. What was it that led to the leap into historical fiction?

I'd already dabbled in historical fiction in my second novel, Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan--where the character believes she is the reincarnation of Shakespeare's Dark Lady of the Sonnets. I'd so enjoyed imagining the mix of fact and fiction in that novel that I felt I would enjoy doing more. My academic background also happens to be in the Victorian era, so I have a great appreciation of that period and, since I've always been interested in the James family, one thing led to another . . .

Jack the Ripper has always been a figure that intrigued me – because he was so brutal and then just disappeared. What is it about this figure that made you want to write this novel?

I wanted to write a detective story with the James siblings and I knew that both Alice and Henry were in London in 1888, the date of the Jack the Ripper murders. Bringing William over would be easy, since he was often coming to England for scientific conferences. And so the conjunction of the Ripper plot and the Jameses seemed a natural one. I should note that I too have always found the Ripper case to be intriguing-- the particular nature of its brutality (which I incorporate into my plot) and felt that it is unsolved. That fit with Henry James's novelistic sense of the incomplete and the ambiguous.

In the story you bring together many historical figures – Henry James, John Singer Sargent, Whistler – how did they become a part of your story web?

Well, I knew that these figures were all in London at the time of my story and that they knew each other. It seemed logical and fun to bring them into the plot. Sargent, who is one of my favorite painters, is particularly crucial to the plot. I should note that Ella Abrams is based on Ena Wertheimer, a great friend and patron of Sargent's. Sargent painted 12 portraits of the Wertheimer family.

What was your favorite part of working on this novel?

I loved the mixing up of fact and fiction, and in some instances, I would forget what was fact and what was fiction. Even now, I sometimes have to stop and think: did I make that up or was that part of the case? Also, in writing a novel, when the pieces start to fit together and the plot seems to work itself out on its own--that's one of the great joys of fiction-writing.

What is next for you – any other works up and coming?

I really don't know. Perhaps another "Jane Austen in . . ."; perhaps something entirely different. I'm concentrating now on writing short, humorous pieces. Check out my "On Shopping" columns on TheSmartSet.com

Thank you Paula for taking the time to answer these questions for us today.

Paula Marantz Cohen is a Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University where she teaches courses in literature, film, and creative writing. She is the author of four nonfiction books: The Daughter’s Dilemma: Family Process and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel; The Daughter as Reader: Encounters Between Literature and Life; Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy of Victorianism; and Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth (a Choice Outstanding Academic Book). Her novels include Jane Austen in Boca, Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan, Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death, and the SATs (a Book-of-the-Month Club and Doubleday Book Club selection), and the forthcoming What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper.

Cohen’s essays and stories have appeared in The Yale Review,Raritan, The American Scholar, Boulevard, The Hudson Review, theSouthwest Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and other publications. She is the host of The Drexel InterView, a cable TV show based in Philadelphia, and a co-editor of jml: Journal of Modern Literature.

She holds a B.A. from Yale College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

For more information about Paula's works, drop by her website.





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Letters of Jack the Ripper

One of the many fascinating pieces of the Jack the Ripper puzzle are the letters that were received by various media outlets and the police department. Of the hundreds of letters received, there are really only 3 that are believed to have any credibility of being by the killer. In her new book, What Alice Knew, Paula Marantz Cohen puts a lot of emphasis on these letters in the course of the investigation of the crime. I thought it would be useful to take a look at these letters in a little more detail.

The “Dear Boss” letter is one of the more well known letters and is also the first time that the name Jack the Ripper appeared as the signature. Up until that point, the murders were just called the Whitechapel Murders. This letter was sent to the Central News Agency on September 27, 1888. In this letter, the writer intimated some details about his upcoming murders that were not considered until after the murders occurred – leading investigators to believe that this may not be a hoax letter but instead for real.
The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Boss,

I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.

Yours truly
Jack the Ripper
Dont mind me giving the trade name

PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now. ha ha


On October 1, 1888, the next credible letter, what is referred to as the “Saucy Jacky" Postcard, was received by the Central News Agency. Credibility is lent to this post card because not only does it reference the double murders of Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride, but it also referred to the “Dear Boss” letter. I am unsure if the “Dear Boss” letter had been published by this time or not. Apparently the handwriting also appears to be similar.
The text of the postcard is as follows:

I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, you'll hear about Saucy Jacky's work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn't finish straight off. ha not the time to get ears for police. thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.

Jack the Ripper

The final letter that is given credibility is the “From Hell” letter. This is the letter that I always hear about on shows and in articles. This letter accompanied half of a kidney that was delivered to George Lusk, who at that time was the leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The previous victim, Catherine Eddows, had been found with half of a kidney missing and the preliminary investigation suggested it could be hers. I am no forensic document expert, but the language and style of this letter is so very different than the other two accepted letters that it just doesn’t fit for me. I don’t think that the writer of the first two is the same person (but this is just my opinion, see what you think).
The text of the letter is as follows:

From hell.

Mr Lusk,
Sor

I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer

signed
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk


While these letters may or may not have been written by Jack the Ripper, it is certainly interesting evidence and carries the legacy and mystery of this crime spree on into the future.

For those of you interested in reading more about the various suspects, witnesses, victims, etc – check out the website Casebook: Jack the Ripper – which I used as a reference for this article. You can also find text of some of the other letters at this website as well.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2010 Audio Book Challenge Complete

This challenge was originally hosted at Royal Reviews but is now stationed over at Queen of Happy Endings. There is still time to enter if you want, as it doesn’t end until December 31, 2010. I chose to enter at the Obsessed level and listen to 20 audio books – which I have cleared with ease. I spend over 2 hours in the car every day going to and from work and this is a great way to pass the time and to get some reading done that I would never fit in to my schedule otherwise.

I didn’t do reviews for most of these, as most of them were not historical fiction reads. I have linked to the few I did review. I really was able to put a small dent in my Janet Evanovich and James Patterson reading list! I hope that this challenge is around again next year as I loved it.

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




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review: What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen


What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen
Paperback, 352 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
September 1, 2010
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher Sourcebooks for review

“Henry James was drunk again. Another night, another dinner party, with the usual collection of bores or worse, “wits”, like that insufferable Oscar Wilde. Life, it seems, might be destines to just go on like this for poor Henry.

Then luckily, his brother, William – a bit of a name himself in that new science of psychology – arrives. He was summoned, it seems, from America by Scotland Yard to help investigate and East End serial killer who calls himself Jack the Ripper. Suddenly, things are much more interesting.”

What initially caught my attention about this book was the subject of Jack the Ripper. I have always been intrigued by this story and have watched a show recently on this subject and I knew I had to read this author’s take on the crime. I didn’t really know much about the James family, but I figured I would learn as I went along.

One of the things that the author did that really made the book come to life was the use and understanding of the local language. You could certainly tell the difference in whether the character was from the upper or lower class just through her word choices. This technique made the characters more realistic. At the same time, you had characters from all walks of life involved in this story. You had the James family and all of their cohorts at dinner parties and various functions, including artist John Singer Sargent, author Oscar Wilde, and assorted others. Not only did you get a crime/mystery story, but you also got a glimpse of the art world, literary world and acting world. You were really able to see the world as someone, like Henry or William James, would have – from the seedy, back alley to the posh, dining rooms.

In terms of the investigation into the White Chapel Murders and Jack the Ripper, I think the best way to describe it, was like a Victorian version of CSI. You learned who some suspects were, tried to collect evidence and use the science they had at the time to interpret that evidence, witnesses were questioned, documents examined, and much more. Theories were thrown around and the author provides a fictional theory to who the killer may have been – but nothing was set in stone, much like the real story of Jack the Ripper. I love crime shows, so this book was perfect. To top it all off, the ending really made you think about all of the facts you thought you knew from the story, and really consider what you believed.

Overall, this book was a hit for me. The pages just flew by and I never wanted to put it down. It now had reignited my interest in the Ripper story.

Paula Marantz Cohen is the author of several books including the novels: Jane Austen in Scarsdale, Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan, and Jane Austen in Boca. You can visit her website for more information about her works.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

 



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court