*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!

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr


Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di by Kris Waldherr
Paperback, 176 pages
Broadway
October 28, 2008
★★★★★

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Personal Collection

Illicit love, madness, betrayal--it isn’t always good to be the queen
"Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner. And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises. Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends--dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir. They always had to be on their toes and all too often even devious plotting, miraculous pregnancies, and selling out their sisters was not enough to keep them from forcible consignment to religious orders. From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there’s a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome. Kris Waldherr’s elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment. Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue. We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wife--the first of six. And we meet forgotten queens like Amalasuntha, the notoriously literate Ostrogoth princess who overreached politically and was strangled in her bath. While their ends were bleak, these queens did not die without purpose. Their unfortunate lives are colorful cautionary tales for today’s would-be power brokers--a legacy of worldly and womanly wisdom gathered one spectacular regal ruin at a time” (from Amazon.com).

Kris Waldherr’s book of “royal women who met bad ends” is a witty, fun look at the downside of being a female royal. I read the whole book in one sitting. This is a nice summary book of these 50 women. There are usually 2 pages devoted to each royal woman – and accordingly you don’t get an in-depth look at their lives – but you do get to know the important backstory that lead to their death. And their deaths are really what the whole book is about anyway.

This isn’t just a book for you to read, but also to look at. There are gorgeous drawings throughout that correspond with the different women. I really loved that some of these were renditions of famous artworks but there has been something sinister added to them that foreshadows their end. It was beautiful. A word of caution – I have heard many people say that these images do not transfer to the e-book versions. So if you want to get this one, I would recommend avoiding the e-book, or you will lose half of the experience. Beyond the narrative and the images, there is a cautionary moral at the end of each story as well as quizzes at the end of each chapter.

I also appreciated that there was a wide selection of royal women included. There were the famous that everyone knows about and then there were those that most have never heard of. It was interesting to see how many of these women were connected to each other in some way – these tragedies tended to run in families.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is new to the genre for a light introduction and to those who have been reading historical for a long time for a little something different.
Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).
 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
 
And if you want more fun:

• Doomed Queens: Royal Playing Cards – your standard playing card deck with each card featuring a different doomed queen – with some essential facts
• Ask the Queen: Advice Card Deck – The answers to your everyday questions provided by these famous royal women
• Take the Doomed Queens Facebook Quiz
• Read an excerpt of the book
• Visit Kris Waldherr’s blog
• Watch the book teaser






Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mailbox Monday #56

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of November it will be hosted by Julie at Knitting and Sundries. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

What I got this week in my mailbox is not a book - but still something for review. I received the upcoming episode of the American Expereince series - Robert E. Lee. This will air on PBS on Monday January 3, 2011. My review will be posted around that time.

What came in your mailbox this week?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caught on Tape: Guinevere

As I just finished reading Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woollsey, Guinevere is very much on my mind. Interestingly enough, I know fairly little about the famous Arthurian legend or his bride. I have never read the original legend, but this novel really has propelled me to learn more about the characters and their stories. I want to get to know Guinevere better. Movies and television shows about Arthur and his knights are numerous. I tried to choose some where Guinevere might be more prominent or show a different view. Let’s take a look – I am interested to hear if you have seen any of these and what you thought.

Guinevere (1994)

“When war breaks out in Camelot, Princess Guinevere (Sheryl Lee) is whisked off to live in safety with High Priestess Morgan L'Fei (Brid Brennan) as mystical wizard Merlin's (Donald Pleasence) predictions come true and Arthur (Sean Patrick Flanery) becomes King of Camelot. To bring peace, Guinevere must forsake her love for Lancelot (Noah Wyle) and become queen. This made-for-TV take on the Arthurian legend tells the story from a woman's point of view.” (from Netflix)

Let’s kick this thing off with a movie that appears to focus on Guinevere’s side of the story. Arthurian legends are often told from a male perspective (being either from Arthur’s or one of his knight’s perspectives). This was a made-for-tv movie for Lifetime based on the three novels by none other than…Persia Woolley. Guinevere is played by Sheryl Lee and it also stars Noah Wyle (from ER) as her lover, Lancelot. I wonder how closely the movie follows the novels? It seems to have gotten not the greatest reviews, mostly saying that it was one dimensional and more a women’s lib piece. I’m sorry Persia! I was unable to find clips of this film anywhere on the net.



Mists of Avalon (2001)

“Director Eli Udel's Emmy-winning television miniseries gives King Arthur's Camelot a feminist slant as Avalon high priestess Viviane (Anjelica Huston) and sisters Morgaine (Julianna Margulies) and Morgause (Joan Allen) battle for control of the kingdom. Viviane manipulates her own sister into marrying a king in order to produce an amenable heir, but deceit, magic and human fallibility threaten to destroy both the plan and Avalon itself.” (from Netflix)

Now we move on to another made-for-tv miniseries – which has received soaring reviews – and is also from the female perspective. This miniseries is also based on a book by the same name by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This movie seems to focus more on the characters of Viviane, Morgaine and Morgause, but Guinevere is certainly a prominent character. This miniseries follows from the beginning to the end of Arthur’s reign and is told as a sort of flash back from Morgaine’s perspective. Starring Julianna Margulies, Anjelica Huston, and Joan Allen as the three main women characters, that is a stellar lineup. Guinevere (spelled Gwenhwyfar) is played by Samantha Mathis.  You can check out my review here.

I chose this scene particularly for when Arthur introduces Guinevere to Lancelot. It is about 5:30 into this clip.



King Arthur (2004)

“King Arthur (Clive Owen) and the Knights of the Round Table are struggling to retain power amid a shaky political landscape in Antoine Fuqua's thrilling take on the myth of Camelot, which is steeped in gritty realism and the politics of its time. As the Roman Empire falls, everyone is trying to wrest control, but time is marching toward the Dark Ages. Stephen Dillane and Keira Knightley co-star as Merlin and Guinevere, respectively.” (from Netflix)

This is the only movie from all of the ones that will be featured today that I have actually seen, and I enjoyed it enough. This movie attempts to set the legend squarely within the Dark Ages and tries to get into the politics of the time. After having read Child of the Northern Spring it all makes a little more sense to me now – the historical setting that is. There really is a lot of tension between Gwen and Arthur throughout this movie – and I really didn’t find myself liking her much at all. She was kick-ass, but less likable. But I think that they did a very good job of depicting the time and situations that they would have encountered – less mythological, more realistic. I would recommend it – but be warned, it is heavy on the violence. There are some fabulous battle scenes. Featuring Clive Owen as Arthur and Keira Knightly as Guinevere.



Knights of the Round Table (1954)

“Nominated for Best Art Direction, Set Direction and Best Sound Recording at the Academy Awards, this 1953 film was MGM's first Cinemascope offering. Starring Robert Taylor, the film recounts the efforts of Sir Lancelot to save Camelot from King Arthur's (Mel Ferrer) destructive son, Modred. Lancelot was forbidden from the Round Table after the cuckolded king discovered Lancelot was trysting with Queen Guinevere (Ava Gardner).” (from Netflix)

I have to admit, I love old movies. I just like they way they are presented and the air about them. Sometimes, you just need a good old movie to get you away from all of the grisly war and steamy sex scenes of so many of today’s movies. This is one of those kinds of films – something you could certainly watch with your whole family. Not the best acting – but it is what I expect when I think of those cheesy classic old movies. Starring Mel Ferrer as Arthur and Ava Gardner as Guinevere.

Since the site didn’t allow me to embed the video clips, I am providing the links to them. I also wanted you to be able to see it in the wide screen – because that was the big thing, a first for MGM. The first is the wedding scene from the movie – Guinevere looks amazing. The second clip is the trailer for the movie – mostly because it made me laugh. My boyfriend was listening and was like, “how old is this movie?” You have to watch it.

Camelot (2011)

“Moving from King Arthur's birth to his eventual death, Camelot will be a tale of the Arthurian legends underpinned by historical authenticity.” (from The Pendragon website)

Coming to a premium channel near you in 2011, Starz is tackling this historical drama. There isn’t a lot of information I can find out there yet. One of the producers from The Tudors is working with this project. The cast will feature Joseph Fiennes as Merlin, Jamie Campbell Bower as Arthur, and Tamsin Egerton as Guinevere. To quote Chris Chibnall, who is principally in charge of this show, “this is an adult drama; I think the great and amazing thing about Camelot is you can talk about political pursuits. You can talk about great agendas. You can talk about a King bringing hope to a turbulent kingdom. But the extraordinary thing in all the versions of Camelot and Arthurian legend is it is all about the romance. It’s all about the passion. It’s all about great ideals compromised by falling in love with the wrong person and great passions conflicting with…” (from The Pendragon website)

There is a tiny (and I do mean tiny) sneak peek at Camelot at the end of this trailer for the new Starz shows. I guess we will have to settle with that for now.



I know I didn’t cover them all – are there any others that stand out to you? Have you seen any of these? What did you think?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley


Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley
Book 1 of Guinevere Trilogy
ARC, Paperback, 512 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
November 1, 2010
★★★½☆☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Sourcebooks for Review

“Among the first to look at the story of Camelot through Guinevere’s eyes, Woolley sets the traditional tale in the time of its origin, after Britain has shattered into warring fiefdoms. Hampered by neither fantasy nor medieval romance, this young Guinevere is a feisty Celtic tomboy who sees no reason why she must learn to speak Latin, wear dresses, and go south to marry that king. But legends being what they are, the story of Arthur’s rise to power soon intrigues her, and when they finally meet, Guinevere and Arthur form a partnership that has lasted for 1500 years.

This is Arthurian epic at its best—filled with romance, adventure, authentic Dark Ages detail, and wonderfully human people” (from
Sourcebooks)

This was my first taste of reading anything about King Arthur and his knights and the lady Guinevere – really, I don’t know why. This book, which is the first in a trilogy about Guinevere’s life, is told in first person from Guinevere’s perspective. There were some kinks for me, mostly in the first third of the book, but overall it was quite an enjoyable read.

My first problem was the pacing of the book. I just didn’t find myself becoming interested in Guinevere’s early life as a child in her father’s kingdom. It was sort of slow and unexciting – and I found myself not wanting to pick it back up. But, I noticed that once Arthur was introduced to the story, it became better. I’m not sure if this was because it added a new exciting layer to Guinevere’s somewhat boring home life, or if it was because I really liked the character of Arthur. After she meets Arthur, I started to like her as a character much more.

My second problem was again during the early portion of the book. In an effort to give us some back story while being in the first person narration (which I’m not a huge fan of), we have memories of these earlier events in her life. Which would be fine, but there is no delineation when time shifts. You are forced to figure out for yourself what is going on. While that wasn’t too difficult, it just made for more difficult reading, not quite as smooth as it could have been. This could have been solved with including some dates at the beginnings of chapters or sections.

That being said, I really loved the detail of the book. The world of Arthur and Guinevere was masterfully created. You really felt what it was like to living during that time. The author also did a wonderful job of creating epic characters that felt real, rather than legendary. It was wonderful getting the backstory of these characters (even with my problems with Guinevere’s) because it helped to see the legend unfold. You learn about Excalibur and the creation of the Round Table.

Book 2, Queen of the Summer Stars and Book 3, Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn will be rereleased by Sourcebooks in the upcoming year and I look forward to reading them both.

You can read an excerpt from the book at the Sourcebooks website. Follow the link and then click on excerpt.
 
Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).
 
My other reviews of this author’s work:

Other blogger reviews of this book:

 




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday #55

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of November it will be hosted by Julie at Knitting and Sundries. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

Another rather quiet week, but I received a really great book.

I received a beautiful hardcover copy of Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King from Crown Publishers for the TLC Book Tour in December.

Here is the blurb:

"Margaret, a young Saxon princess, is shipwrecked with her family on the coast of Scotland and forced to accept sanctuary from the recently widowed warrior-king Malcolm Canmore of Scotland. Malcolm sees a political prize in Margaret, and promises to help her brother, the outlawed rebel Edgar of England, in return for his sister’s hand in marriage.

When Malcolm brings a female bard, Eva, to court as a hostage to ensure good behavior of her kinswoman, his conniving enemy Lady Macbeth, Margaret, and Eva expect to resent one another. Instead, they discover an unlikely bond as outcasts of a sort–Eva a wild Celtic spirit captive among her enemies, Margaret suppressing her passions as she endures increasing pressure as a queen and a mother of princes.

Torn between loyalties, Eva must betray the king and the new queen in order to honor her devotion to the former queen. Thrown into Malcolm’s dungeon, charged with witchcraft and treason, Eva soon learns that Queen Margaret–counseled by the furious king and his powerful priests–will decide the fate of the young bard and her mentor, the troublesome Lady Macbeth." (
from author's website)

I'm excited because this includes Lady Macbeth again, which I was previously unaware of. Here previous novel Lady Macbeth I have yet to read, but it sits on my bookshelf calling my name all the time.

Did you get any awesome books this week?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Announcing The Forever Queen Book Chat - TONIGHT

Good morning everyone. I wanted to let you all know/remind you about The Forever Queen Book Chat tonight (November 22) over at The Bibliophilic's Book Blog. The chat will be from 7-9 PM Eastern time. Author, Helen Hollick, will be dropping by as well. If you have had the chance to read this book or are really looking forward to reading it, please take a little bit of time, if you are able, to drop by the book chat. I will be sure to be there and it looks like it will be great fun. See you there!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Child of the Northern Spring Giveaway Winners

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday! Before I drag myself over to the gym, I wanted to announce the two winners of the Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley giveaway. Thank you to everyone who participated - we had a great turnout. And I think that the entry form method worked out, I didn't hear of any problems from anyone, so I think I will be using it again in the future.

Without further adieu, the winners are...

MOLLY !!!

and...

BELLA!!!

I have sent out emails for your shipping addresses. Keep an eye out in December, there will be a few goodies up my sleeve. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TV Show Review: Tudors Season 2


The Tudors
Showtime
Season 2
2008
Rated: Mature Audiences

Tudors season 2 covers the period from King Henry seeking an annulment of his marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon, all of his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and ends with her execution.

I have to say, this season was really Natalie Dormer’s spotlight. I have seen many people portray Anne Boleyn, and she is the one that I will always remember as this iconic queen. She is seductive, charming, determined, angry, pleading, and by the end someone who you can genuinely feel bad for. The final episode of this season was PHENOMONAL! The scenes leading up to her execution were so poignant and certainly made me cry. Another actress that I was pleasantly impressed with was Sarah Bolger who plays Princess/Lady Mary. I thought that she had a perfect amount of anger and determination for the character. This season also highlights the downfall of Thomas More due to the Reformation. Those are some amazing scenes as well.

Again, the costumes and setting were superb!

Onward to Season 3!








Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick


The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
Paperback, 633 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
November 1, 2010
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Sourcebooks for The Forever Queen Book Club

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

“Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom—and her crown—are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England's shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery”

The Forever Queen is the story of a powerful woman. Emma grows into this state of being because of all of the things that she has to deal with. As a young girl she is married to King Æthelred – a man who does not treat her well. She gains strength from this and uses it as a catalyst to continually push forward and never back. She is certainly a woman that should be celebrated for her accomplishments and it is certainly a shame that she has almost been forgotten by history.

Typically I hate reading long books because by the time I get to the end, events that happened in the beginning feel like an entirely different book. Also, there is the fact that I feel like I am not making any progress because I am not on a new book. I did not have that feeling with The Forever Queen. I always wanted to keep reading and struggled to put the book down. I stayed up super late on the final night of this book because I was determined to finish it and not have to wait until morning to see how it wrapped up.

There are SO many characters in this book that at times it is hard to keep them straight. Hollick remedies this by providing several useful pages that I referred back to time and again. There is a family tree for Cnut and Emma, a pronunciation guide (Thank You!) and maps of the world they lived in. I would have been totally lost without these references, as this is a time totally foreign to me. Hollick also does a great job of indicating dates and places of events throughout her writing and with the chapter titles. The world that these people lived in just came to life through her writing.

The characters that Hollick has created are superb. Right from the start you can really get into what they are thinking and why they are doing what they do. You also can really see the evolution of character throughout the book – this is most evidenced by the growth of Emma. She also expertly molds your opinions of these characters – a telltale sign of a great author. I went from hating Cnut near the beginning, to finding him one of my favorite characters toward the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I am eagerly looking forward to the follow up.

Helen Hollick is the author of several books, including The Forever Queen and the soon to be US release follow up, The Chosen King. You can visit Helen’s website for more information about her books or you can visit her journal site to see what she is up to. If you are interested in reading an excerpt from the book, follow my link to Sourcebooks and click “excerpt”.

Watch this book trailer:

 

My reviews of other books by this author:

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

 
Be sure to follow along with the reviews by other members of the Book Club (I know I am toward the end). Also, check out the Book Club chat on November 22 at the Bibliophilic Book Blog (more info below).

The Forever Queen Book Club Schedule

November 1
http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
http://calicocritic.blogspot.com/

November 2
http://www.passagestothepast.com/
http://lifeinthethumb.blogspot.com/

November 3
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/
http://www.luxuryreading.com/

November 4
http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/
http://historicallyobsessed.blogspot.com/

November 5
http://booksbythewillowtree.blogspot.com/
http://www.historyandwomen.com/

November 8
http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com/
http://www.bookwormsdinner.blogspot.com/

November 9
http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/
http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/

November 10
http://literatehousewife.com/
http://carpelibrisreviews.com/

November 11
http://web.me.com/quirion/Bookaddict/Welcome.html
http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/

November 12
http://www.brokenteepee.blogspot.com/
http://www.read-all-over.net/

November 15
http://writesthoughts.blogspot.com/
http://celticladysramblings.blogspot.com/

November 16
http://www.jennylovestoread.blogspot.com/
http://booksandneedlepoint.blogspot.com/

November 17
http://bookalicio.us/
http://themaidenscourt.blogspot.com/

November 18
http://pushersink.blogspot.com/
http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/

November 19
http://theroyalreviews.blogspot.com/
http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/

November 22
Book Club Chat on http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
7pm-9pm EST




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Caught on Tape Episode List

Here are all of the "episodes" of Caught of Tape - hosted here at The Maiden's Court. Be sure to check them out and I know your movie list will grow!

Elizabeth I

Queen Emma of Normandy

*Special Edition* - Off With Their Heads - featuring Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Jane Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Mary, Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More, King Charles I

Dracula

Napoleon

William Marshall

Dolley Madison

Katherine Howard




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Caught on Tape: Queen Emma of Normandy

This is a short mini version of Caught on Tape – there is only one movie for this one, but I was shocked that there was even that many, so I had to include it!

After reading The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick, I became very interested in the life of Queen Emma. She seems to have been such a strong woman and really in control of her life. With this Queen relatively unheard of because she lived during the Dark Ages of England, I was surprised to learn that there was a play/made for TV movie about part of her life (well, not really focusing on her life per say, but she is involved in the movie).

The Ceremony of Innocence takes a look at the reign of King Æthelred up until the invasion by King Swegn Forkbeard. To quote a reviewer on Netflix – “it is both a stage-play and a thought piece, not a historical epic”. This is a highly dramatized account and probably not very historically accurate (hey, it was made in the 70’s), but from what I have read, it has mostly very positive reviews. Richard Kiley portrays King Æthelred, Elizabeth Hubbard portrays Emma, Earnest Graves is Swegn Forkbeard, and John Horn is Edmund Ironside.

Here is the blurb:

“Set in 11th-century England, Ronald Ribman's play focuses on King Ethelred's (Richard Kiley) indecisiveness during a time of crisis. With violence and bloodshed destroying his country, Ethelred debates whether to fight the invading Danes or unruly nobles. A unique glimpse of the era's political and savage battles, this televised stage production offers a look at a leader who values peace above all else” (from Netflix). I couldn’t find any clips or even screen stills for this film. Has anyone seen this film?




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday #54

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of November it will be hosted by Julie at Knitting and Sundries. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

The last two weeks have been quiet for my mailbox. Over the weekend I received the ARC of To Serve a King by Donna Russo Morin from the author for review. I read and reviewed The Secret of the Glass, her previous release, last February. You can check out my review here if you missed it. I am looking forward to reading this book. Thanks Donna.

Here is the blurb:

"They told her that her parents were dead, perished in a fire she barely remembered, a fire set by a king they taught her to hate. 'They' were her aunt and the jolly king, and she had believed them. From that day forward, Genevieve Gravois swore her allegiance to Henry VIII and no other. Raised by her cold and heartless aunt, she learns things no woman should know: how to write and decipher codes, how to use a dagger and a bow…how to kill.

When the time is ripe, Genevieve is thrust into the court of Francois I, a dangerous and magnificent place, as replete with intrigue and conflict as it is with the world's finest artists and musicians. Here, two mistresses, Anne d'Heilly and Diane de Poitiers, struggle for ultimate power. Here, the likes of Catherine de' Medici and Nostradamus explore the realm of the unknown. And here, Genevieve carries out her duties for the king she loves, spying on Francois, doing whatever Henry demands of her. But the French king is not who she thought him to be, his truth is at odds with all she has learned. Her life tangles with lives of others, both worthy and disgraceful, in circumstances none of her training has prepared her for. Genevieve's life spins out of control and she is forced to make deadly decisions about her true and ultimate loyalties."





Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith


Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith
Unabridged, 23 hr.
Random House
Rosalyn Landor (Narrator)
February 15, 2008
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook

Source: Digital Download from my Library

“It is 1461: Edward, son of Richard of York, ascends to the throne, and his willful sister, Margaret, immediately becomes a pawn in European politics as Edward negotiates her marriage. The young Margaret falls deeply in love with Anthony Woodville, the married brother of Edward's queen, Elizabeth. But Edward has arranged for his sister to wed Charles, son of the Duke of Burgundy, and soon Margaret is setting sail for her new life. Her official escort: Anthony
Woodville.

Margaret of York eventually commanded the respect and admiration of much of Europe, but it appears to history that she had no emotional intimate. Anne Easter Smith's rare gift for storytelling and her extensive research reveal the love that burned at the center of Margaret's life, adding a new dimension to the story of one of the fifteenth century's most powerful women.”
I have a confession to make – this was my first read based on The War of the Roses! Gasp…I know…I don’t know what took me so long – but now that I have broken that spine I am reading more and more about it now. I think that this was a decent introduction to that time period because it doesn’t just throw you right into the War. You get a little bit of life before the War on the York side and as we follow Margaret’s story, you really are not right in the middle of everything. As Margaret is living in Burgundy, she isn’t in England and just hears news from messengers and her brothers when they come by. This made it possible to dip your toes in the water and generally get a sense of what was going on – so the next book I read I will be ready for more intrigue and action. It was really interesting to get a sort of outsider’s perspective on the War. She certainly has her loyalties, as she is a York, but she isn’t being directly affected by it.

As I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the characters in this book prior to reading it, my opinions of them were not tainted either way going into it. And let me tell you I was so surprised as I got toward the end of the book and suddenly realized that young Dickon would eventually become King Richard III. I know that he is a polarizing figure in this era of history – but I was really loving him as a young boy! And just to throw it out there, I still don’t think that I am on either side of the fence about him yet.

Overall, the story was a delightful read that helped introduce me to the world of The War of the Roses.

★★★★½☆
 
Choosing to read this as an audio book turned out to be a blessing and a curse. It was great because I loved hearing the accents and pronunciation of words and the reading was superb, but it was SO long (I’m pretty sure it was about 18 disks). This was one of those times that I really wished I could flip back a few chapters to reference something or reread a few pages to get back on track after taking the weekend off from reading it. I will take this into consideration when I think about reading other books by this author.

Author Anne Easter Smith also has written: Royal Mistress, Queen by Right, A Rose for the Crown, and The King’s Grace. You can visit Anne’s website or blog for additional information about the book.

Here is a video with Anne Easter Smith talking a little about Daughter of York and her writing process.

 

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, November 10, 2010

The Wars of the Roses - It's All In The Color!

The War of the Roses – or more correctly, the Wars of the Roses is a complicated period in English history for a new to the era history lover to follow. During the period of roughly 1455 to 1485 the house dominating the throne switched back and forth and there were several battles and other events taking place as well. I’m not going to even attempt to enlighten you as to the politics of these wars as I struggle to follow them as well. I thought I would take some time today to discuss why it is called The Wars of the Roses.

To get to the very heart of this discussion, I would point out that it’s all in the color. The House of York was represented by the White Rose, while the House of Lancaster was represented by the Red Rose. Sounds simple? Well, it’s not quite that simple. While these roses were the badge of their houses, when they went out into battle, the different groups fought under the personal badges of the lord that they served under – not the overall House badge. For example, if you were fighting as part of Richard III’s army, you would likely be under a symbol of a white boar. So where did this widespread usage of the Wars of the Roses come from?
Well, it looks like history after the fact is at its best again here. During the time of the Wars, this naming system was not used. At the time of the actual occurrences it was just known by the different battles between the ruling factions of the House of Plantagenet. It seems that Shakespeare may have had something to do with our modern understanding of the Wars of the Roses (he seems to poke his nose in everywhere). There is a scene in Henry VI, Part 1 that takes place in the Temple Garden. In this scene, Richard Plantagenet (Duke of York) and the Duke of Somerset have a huge argument and ask for the nobles present to select either a white or red rose to choose which side they have allegiance with. Then in the 19th century, author Sir Walter Scott used this scene in discussion the Wars of the Roses in his book Anne of Geirerstein or Maiden of the Mist. And we have a name!

As the Wars of the Roses came to an end with the Battle at Bosworth Field and Henry Tudor established the House of Tudor, he made his own Tudor Rose. As you can see, this is an amalgamation of the York White Rose and the Lancaster Red Rose. What a way to end a war – bring the two sides together!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Giveaway - Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley

As I mentioned earlier today in the wonderful guest post by author Persia Woolley I would have a giveaway away for you and I have kept true to my word.

Thanks to those awesome people at Sourcebooks, I have two copies of Persia Woolley’s new re-release Child of the Northern Spring to giveaway. This is the first book in the Guinevere Trilogy that Sourcebooks is re-releasing.

Here is the back cover blurb:

“Among the first to look at the story of Camelot through Guinevere’s eyes, Woolley sets the traditional tale in the time of its origin, after Britain has shattered into warring fiefdoms. Hampered by neither fantasy nor medieval romance, this young Guinevere is a feisty Celtic tomboy who sees no reason why she must learn to speak Latin, wear dresses, and go south to marry that king. But legends being what they are, the story of Arthur’s rise to power soon intrigues her, and when they finally meet, Guinevere and Arthur form a partnership that has lasted for 1500 years.

In Child of the Northern Spring, Gwen meets the characters who will accompany her and Arthur as they work to bring order to a country in chaos – Arthur’s best friend Bedivere; Merlin, whose wisdom reeks of magic and superstition; the brashly courageous young Gawain; and Morgan le Fey, Arthur’s half sister who harbors much hatred for the young king. This is Arthurian epic at its best – filled with romance, adventure, authentic Dark Ages detail, and wonderfully human people.”


The Details:

There are two copies up for grabs for followers in the US and Canada (sorry to my International followers)

To enter, fill out the form below. I am trying out using this Google form entry method for the first time. If you have any problems with it let me know – I’m giving it a shot…

You can add to your chances of winning you can get +1 entry for each time you tweet, post to Facebook, your blog, blog sidebar etc, and leave me a link to it.

If you are a new follower to my blog you can get +1 entry. If you are a long time follower you can get +2 entries.

The winners will be announced on Saturday November 20th. Good luck everyone!






Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Guest Post with Persia Woolley

Today we have the opportunity to welcome author Persia Woolley, author of newly re-issued Child of the Northern Springs, to The Maiden's Court. In her guest post today she discusses what led her to write about the Arthurian legend and her take behind Gwen. And stay tuned later today for a fabulous giveaway! Enjoy!

Why I Write about Guinevere

Guest Post by Persia Woolley, author of
Child of the Northern Spring

My mother was a librarian and avid reader who had taught herself to read when she was four. Consequently, she pressured me relentlessly to follow the same course, which I rejected entirely, being happier writing my own stories rather than reading others. As a result my introduction to the Arthurian legend came when I heard the music from the Lerner and Lowe 1960 musical Camelot. That led me to White's Once and Future King which includes psychological studies of Gawain and Lancelot, and I began to read many other Arthurian novels, all with an adult sensibility.

During the twenty years between the musical and my beginning Child of the Northern Spring, I became a journalist in S.F. area, had my own live television show and worked as a press agent, all of which honed my writing skills. I also had two non-fiction books published, raised two kids as a single mom, and became a step-mom after my youngsters were grown.

I feel that every author needs to have something new and interesting to bring to any story. So while my husband and I spent several weeks in Britain prowling about Arthurian sites, I found myself wishing there was some new angle from which to tell those tales, but couldn't see what it was.

Then a year after the divorce I was re-reading Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy and saw Lancelot and Guinevere standing right in front of me, engaged in a horrific argument. When I blinked and they disappeared, I thought “What's a nice girl like you doing marrying into that blood-drenched family, with the king's closest friend your avowed enemy, and no one to take your side because you're an outsider.” I literally jumped to my feet, thrilled to have found what my first novel would be.

I'm a fan of Mary Renault's Theseus books wherein she treated the legend as based on fact after searching out the historical origins of that myth, so it was natural for me to approach my Guinevere in the same manner.

As with any good legend, the Round Table has many aspects that are timeless. But there are also a number of things Gwen personally goes through that modern readers can relate to, such as dealing with infertility, surviving rape and becoming a step-mom in a family full of conflicted feelings.

Because she's an outsider from the north, she can see Arthur's world with fresh eyes which allows the reader to discover it as well. I made four research trips to Britain, going to each of the sites she would have gone to and collecting as much local color and lore as possible, as well steeping myself in the work of Dark Age historians and archaeologists. All of that goes into creating an interesting new world for the reader who has mainly seen Camelot presented as either fantasy or woman's romance. (There is a great deal of superstition in Gwen's world, but no one gets in or out of trouble through magic.)

But perhaps what is most unique about my Gwen is that she's a feisty Celtic tomboy who grows up expecting to run her own country someday, only to find herself being shipped south to marry that young king--a prospect she rails against roundly. That's a far cry from the old-fashioned vapid beauty who ruins the Round Table because she can't make up her mind between two men!

When they were originally published my Guineveres were all three Book of the Month Club selections, translated into seven languages and made into a terrible movie. Now, 20 years later, Sourcebooks is re-issuing the whole Guinevere Trilogy over the next year, and I’ve been thrilled to hear from so many fans and reviewers on both my FaceBook page and Twitter. It seems the time has come to take a second look at a real woman who would have had to be pretty special to have been the equal of the king and loved not only by Arthur and Lancelot, but by so many who championed her in the original tales.

Persia Woolley is the author of the Guinevere Trilogy: Child of the Northern Spring, Queen of the Summer Stars, and Guinevere: Legend in Autumn. She lives in Northern California. You can find Persia and more information on Facebook.




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Berengaria of Navarre - Queen of England

Berengaria of Navarre might be a medieval queen that you have never heard of. I had heard the name mentioned before but knew very little of her. There is a reason for that though, very little is actually known about her.

Berengaria was one of the daughters of the King of Navarre. She likely met Richard when he came to Navarre when she was a young girl and he was traveling around. They didn’t meet again until Queen Eleanor decided that this girl would be a good match for her son, now King Richard I, the Lionheart. As Richard had set out on Crusade already, Eleanor brought Berengaria to him. Historians are skeptical that this was a love match because it seems that Richard kept trying to put off the wedding. His excuse was that it was Lent and would not be prudent to host a wedding party. It is also questioned as to whether the marriage was consummated or not – the couple never did have any children during their marriage.

As this leg of the Crusade drew to a close, Richard sent his wife and his sister back ahead of him to France. As we know, Richard was captured and held hostage on his way back. After he was released, Richard headed back to England – leaving his queen in France. He tried setting things straight in England after his long absence, but didn’t seem in a hurry to recall his wife. Finally the Pope stepped in and ordered him to reunite with his wife. So he headed to get her.

Sometime after that, Richard was struck with a poisoned arrow and while on his deathbed and later at his funeral – Berengaria was not called for – and she was less than a day’s ride away. Following his death, Berengaria fought with King John for her pension and he would not give it to her. Finally after his death, his son granted her the pension. The rest of her days not much is known about. She was buried at the abbey at Le Mans, which she helped fund.

Berengaria is most known for being the only English queen to never set foot on England’s soil. It doesn’t sound to me like she had a love match, although it doesn’t sound half as bad as some other royal marriages. The marriage of Richard and Berengaria is fictionalized in the novel The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes – and she makes it sound a little more like a love match – but you definitely get to know Berengaria!




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Book Review: The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes


The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Paperback (Reprint), 368 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
October 1, 2010
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review
“In this compelling novel of love, loyalty, and lost chances, Margaret Campbell Barnes gives readers a new perspective on Richard the Lionheart’s triumphs and tragedies. Drawing on folklore, Barnes explores what might have happened if King Richard’s foster brother were none other than Robin Hood, a legendary figure more vibrant than most in authentic history. Thick as thieves as Richard builds a kingdom and marshals a crusade, the two clash when Robin Hood so provokes the king’s white hot temper that Richard banishes him. The Passionate Brood is a tale of a man driven to win back the Holy Land, beset by the guilt of casting out his childhood friend, and shouldering the burden of being the lionhearted leader of the Plantagenets”
For a novel whose title states it’s a novel of Richard the Lionheart and the man who became Robin Hood, there is fairly little Robin in this novel. He has a semi-prominent role in the first quarter of the book and then appears again in the last few pages, although he is never far from Richard’s thoughts. I think for the importance that the title places on the character, there was not enough time spent on him. Once he becomes “Robin Hood” we really don’t find anything more about him – it’s more of a story of how casting Robin aside affects Richard’s conscience; a little different than how I pictured the story to be. Aside from that, I think The Passionate Brood is certainly an appropriate title – those Plantagenets were very passionate people and as a group even more so.

What I liked most about this novel was the importance placed on the female characters whom you rarely see in novels about the children of Eleanor of Aquitaine. We have the pleasure of meeting Eleanor’s daughter, Johanna, as well as Richard’s wife, Berengaria. While this was certainly a story of Richard and we spent a lot of time on Crusade, it was a story of these women as well. You were able to learn about their hopes and fears and see how they dealt with being on Crusade. I think I loved the character of Johanna the best – she was very similar to her mother – spunky, willing to go on Crusade, and wanting to be “one of the boys”. As a reader you get the whole family feel and see the distinct personalities that emerge from these characters.

As I was reading some of the events within this novel, I began connecting it with events in the Elizabeth Chadwick books, For the King’s Favor and The Scarlet Lion. In the Barnes’ novel, you see the royal side of the events, while in the Chadwick books you see the courtier side of the same events; the most notable example for me was when Richard was captured and they had to raise the ransom money to free him. By having read all three of these books it helped me to round out the experience more.

When I previously read Barnes’ novel Within the Hollow Crown (review here), I had a very hard time getting into it and had a harder time connecting with the characters. I am glad that I didn’t base my decision to read more of her books on my opinion of that novel. I very much enjoyed this book and I don’t think that it had any of the pitfalls of her other book (in my opinion).

Author Margaret Campbell Barnes also has written A Brief Gaudy Hour, My Lady of Cleves, The Tudor Rose, King’s Fool, Within the Hollow Crown, and Mary of Carisbrooke which have all been reissued by Sourcebooks.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

 




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday #53

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of November it will be hosted by Julie at Knitting and Sundries. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

This week I received 2 more books in my mailbox and I forgot that I was getting both of them. What a surprise!

From a giveaway at Tanzanite's Castle Full of Books I received an ARC of Captive Queen by Alison Weir! I have been looking forward to this book for awhile and was psyched to hear I had won. I love getting email on my BlackBerry because these little treats can really make my day (as do your comments :) )

The other book I received is for review - The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson, received from the author. As you may have read in the past, I'm not the biggest fan of reading Shakespeare's plays, but I enjoy watching them performed and reading novelizations of them. This one is a novel regarding The Tempest. I am very interested in this one.

I hope you mailbox was good to you this week!



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court