*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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Monday, December 31, 2012

Truth in Fiction Challenge–Entry 2

Alright, talk about squeaking my final entry for the Truth in Fiction Challenge in just under the wire – challenge ends today.  I was in a race against time to get the second book in this pairing done – it was a 30+ hour audio book that I just seemed to not be making any progress in despite the hours of listening. 

Book Pair: The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien (Fiction)
                  Lincoln by David Herbert Donald (Non-Fiction)

I have already officially reviewed The Lincoln Conspiracy (see review link above) and I will be reviewing Lincoln sometime in January.  See below for how I linked these two books together.


truthinfiction

When I picked up The Lincoln Conspiracy I expected it to be about Lincoln – however it was set after his death and focused on the events surrounding the assassination plot.  In Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, the life of the 16th President is told in detail – ending with his death.  There is a small section regarding the lead up to the assassination – however, Donald tries to keep the scope of the book limited to what Lincoln would know – and obviously he didn’t know about the assassination.  So what tied these two books together for me?  Mostly Mary Lincoln.

Let me explain.  In The Lincoln Conspiracy, Mary Lincoln has a small, but pivotal, role.  The majority of the characters refer to her in some manner as being crazy and over-emotional.  In one scene it is explained that she regularly consults with a medium to reach out to her deceased husband and child, Willie.  This is the way I have always seen her portrayed but knew that there are two sides to each story.  In Lincoln she is a much more fleshed out human being.  When they were younger and first married, Mary was very active in Abraham’s political affairs, and while she wasn’t the most well-liked person, she certainly wasn’t crazy.  We also learn about how hard the death of her young son hit her.  She spent over a year in mourning in the White House after his death.  Then while she is still fragile her husband is killed.  I think that would be enough to send anyone over the top – I do have to feel sorry for her.  While The Lincoln Conspiracy caricatured her, Lincoln made her a real woman.  However, it is interesting to note, that in Lincoln it also addressed her visits to mediums. 

The above is what immediately drew me to tie the two books together.  However there were other small things.  Of note:

  • In passing, Donald discussed how Pinkerton was involved in keeping an eye on Lincoln at one point.  Pinkerton was a very important character in The Lincoln Conspiracy.
  • Different characterizations of the War Secretary, Stanton.  Conspiracy draws him into the plot, while Lincoln makes him very supportive of Lincoln

While these two books seemingly cover different time periods there were elements that brought them together.  I found O’Brien’s characterizations of various characters different from how Donald portrayed them in his history.  I am intrigued to know more about them to see how others portray them as well. 

I would recommend both books to those who find Lincoln of interest – Conspiracy is more of an adventure novel while Lincoln is for those who have an interest in the President and can handle a long haul.

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Suddenly Sunday–Last of 2012

Suddenly Sunday

I know I only did a couple of these this year, but this will be the last one of 2012.  I have seen several awesome lists of favorite reads from 2012 and some most anticipated lists too.  I will have my 2012 wrap up coming on January 1st, so stay tuned for that.


I also wanted to announce some big news that I am just finally getting the chance to share.  I think I announced previously, at least on the blog Facebook page, that I am attending the 2013 Historical Novel Society conference.  However I didn’t mention that I have been asked to be a panelist!  On blogging!  I will be one of 5 panelists discussing blogging and historical fiction: Virtual Salon: The Historical Fiction Blog.  I am beyond excited!!!  When I attended the conference in 2011 I thought that everyone would benefit from a panel on blogging/social media/etc. – and now here it is and I get to speak about it.  How cool is that?!!  The other panelists are: Amy Bruno from Passages to the Past/Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours; Julianne Douglas from Writing the Renaissance; Deborah Swift from English Historical Fiction Authors and author of The Lady’s Slipper and The Gilded Lily; and Heather Webb from Between the Sheets and writer of the to-be-released-in-2014 book, Becoming Josephine.  I am looking forward to getting to know these wonderful ladies better and sharing what we know with others!


Also, we have a winner to announce!  The winner of the giveaway for an e-copy of Her Majesty’s Will by David Blixt is….MYSTICA!!  Congratulations!  I have sent out an email to the winner.  If there is no response within 5 days a new winner will be selected.


Lastly, I have some great things coming up in 2013 – at least the first 3 months are relatively planned out.  Make sure you keep an eye on the “UPCOMING” tab above to stay on top of what is in store for the Maiden’s Court.  Thanks to all of you for making 2012 an awesome year!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nicholas Sparks 2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge

Nicholas Sparks 2013 Reading Challenge
January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013
Hosted by The Book Vixen

I have always enjoyed reading Nicholas Sparks’ books – however I haven’t had the chance to read too many of them and there are a bunch more I would like to read. 

The general rules are to read (or re-read) as many Nicholas Sparks books as you want and they can be in any format.  Mine will all be audio books.  You can get all of the details at The Book Vixen.

I plan to commit to the First Date level – reading 1-4 books

I will update this post as I go:

1. Safe Haven

Completed 1/10/13

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

HFReadingChallenge2013

 

     

     2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
    
January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013
    
Hosted by Historical Tapestry

 

 

 

Seeing as the majority of books I read and review are Historical Fiction this challenge just makes sense!  This will be the 2nd year that I participate in this challenge.

The general rules are to read Historical Fiction – any subgenre of HF will do as well.  You can read the full details at the Historical Tapestry site.

I’m going to commit to the highest level – Ancient History - 25+ Books.

I will update this post as I go:

1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
2. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
3. The Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan
4. The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff
5. The Terror by Dan Simmons
6. Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent
7. Iscariot by Tosca Lee
8. Turncoat by Donna Thorland
9. Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage
10. Through a Dusty Window by Delancey Stewart
11. Fever by Mary Beth Keane
12. City of Lights by Melika Lux
13. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
14. Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
15. Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick
16. Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys
17. Roses by Leila Meacham
18. The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton
19. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
20. The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner
21. City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
22. Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl
23. Valley of the Horses by Jean M. Auel
24. Asenath by Anna Patricio
25. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
26. A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi

*Completed 8/14/13*

27. The Little Bride by Anna Solomon
28. The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn
29. Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
30. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
31. The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie
32. The Shogun’s Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland
33. Illuminations by Mary Sharatt
34. The Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
35. Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener
36. Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser
37. A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift
38. By Royal Command by Laura Navarre



 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

War Through the Generations 2013 Reading Challenge

american revo

War Through the Generations: American Revolution
January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013
Hosted by War Through the Generations

I haven’t read too many books set during wartime – however I have wanted to dip my toe in those waters and when I saw this challenge and that the focus this year was the American Revolution (my favorite time period) I decided this was the time to try.

Here are the general rules:

You can read fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, etc. with the American Revolution as the primary or secondary theme.

Books can take place before, during, or after the war, so long as the conflicts that led to the war or the war itself are important to the story.

Additionally, since there are so many great movies out there about the American Revolution, you can substitute or add a movie or two to your list this year and have it count toward your totals.

Full details can be found at the War Through the Generations site.

I’m going to go with the Dip Level: Read 1-3 books in any genre with the American Revolution as a primary or secondary theme.

I will update this post as I go.

1. Turncoat by Donna Thorland
2. The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin
3. Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

Completed 6/16/13!!!

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2013 Audio Book Challenge

2013-Audio-Book-Challenge
2013 Audio Book Challenge
January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013
Hosted by Teresa’s Reading Corner
 
It comes as no surprise that I typically love to listed to audio books.  With all of the driving I do to and from work and to visit my parents I have a lot of what would otherwise be wasted time.  Audio books are helping me to reduce that massive Mt. TBR that I have and also get to some books outside my reviewing genre.
 
I am again going to participate in the Audio Book Challenge hosted at Teresa’s Reading Corner.  The rules are simple, listen to audio books across any genre.  Full details can be found at Teresa’s Reading Corner.
 
I’m going to commit to the Married level – with 25+ audio books.
 
My progress will be documented below: 
 
1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
3. Foul Play by Janet Evanovich
4. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
5. Hero at Large by Janet Evanovich
6. The Terror by Dan Simmons
7. Iscariot by Tosca Lee
8. Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashower
9. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
10. Fever by Mary Beth Keane
11. Salt by Mark Kurlansky
12. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
13. The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin
14. Roses by Leila Meacham
15. Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel
16. Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
17. A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi
18. Polk by Walter Borneman
19. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
20. Founding Rivals by Chris DeRose
21. Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser
22. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
23. Wilson by A. Scott Berg
24.
25.
 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 24, 2012

2013 Ebook Challenge

2013EbookChallenge

2013 Ebook Challenge
January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013
Hosted by Workaday Reads

I’m not a huge Ebook reader – but this past year I did acquire a Kindle and I’m going to strive to use it a little more than I have.  I still love my paperback books, however I’m working on enjoying ebooks.

The general guidelines are to read Ebooks – any genre or length of book is acceptable – as long as it is an ebook.  You can read the full details of the giveaway at Workaday Reads

Because the rules state that you can go up levels but not down – and I’m going to start somewhat small and see what happens from there.  I’m going to start with the second level – CD – and commit to 10 ebooks.

I will update this post as I go:

1. The Forgotten Queen by D. L. Bogdan
2. Battleship by Dorothy Ours
3. City of Lights by Melika Lux
4. Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
5. Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick
6. Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys
7. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
8. The Shogun’s Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland
9. Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener
10. By Royal Command by Laura Navarre

Completed December 9, 2013!!!

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Winner of Historical Holiday Blog Hop Giveaway

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  Sorry for the delay in the posting of the winner of the 1st Historical Holiday Blog Hop giveaway here for book 1 & 2 of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation series.  I have been tied up getting ready for Christmas and working on my research paper.

However, here is the winner:  PATTY!!!

Congrats Patty!  An email has already been sent - please respond with your mailing information within the next week and I will get the books out to you.

If you didn't win, I still have a giveaway going right now for a copy of Her Majesty's Will by David Blixt up for grabs.  Please note, this is for an e-book.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!




Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Legendary Duels

I have wanted to do a post about legendary duels for quite some time and while listening to my current audiobook, Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, I learned an interesting little fact about Lincoln – that he was very nearly involved in a duel. Below I am featuring several legendary duels.


Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr (1804)

burrhamilton duel

The duel that American’s are typically most familiar with is that between Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. These two men were frequently on opposite sides of the political fence – Burr being a Democrat and Hamilton a Federalist. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel after he felt his reputation had been tarnished in his failed bid for the governorship of New York. Hamilton was known to be an anti-dualist after his son died in a duel defending his father’s honor. The duel was set for Weehawken, New Jersey and the two met on July 11th. Hamilton, intending not to wound Burr – as this was the accepted practice, fired wide – while Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach. Hamilton died of his wounds the next day and instead of earning back his honor he was disgraced and fled the country for a period of time.

Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone (1792) “The Petticoat Duel”

ladyalmeriabraddockandmrselphinstone

Did you know that there were women who dueled too? I didn’t – there weren’t too many, but it certainly happened. The best know is that between Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone. As the story goes, Mrs. Elphinstone paid a call of Lady Almeria. Per the usual, a damaging word was said by Mrs. Elphinstone against Lady Almeria Braddock’s age and a challenge was placed. First, they dueled by pistols – and Lady Braddock lost her hat. If that wasn’t enough, they then took up swords and Lady Braddock struck Mrs. Elphinstone in the arm. Apparently that did the trick and they left off their duel there.

My question is – how did either of them know how to shoot a gun or wield a sword?

Édouard Manet and Edmond Duranty (1870)

Edouard Manet, known for such Impressionistic paintings such as The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, is also known for challenging a friend turned critic, Edmond Duranty, to a duel. Duranty made a critical statement about his works and in return Manet slapped him in the face and challenged him to a sword duel. The duel was short-lived – Manet struck once and Duranty suffered a small wound – however that seemed to appease Manet. The two became close friends again thereafter.

I don’t know about you – but I think if I had been challenged by my best friend to a duel and then subsequently injured – we wouldn’t be best friends anymore!

Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson (1806)

jackson dickinson due

The first of our two American presidential duels, and the second high profile political duel, took place between Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson (before Jackson became president). Jackson was a frequent duelist and had been shot many times. This duel came to be because of an extremely sensitive detail of Jackson’s life. When Jackson married his wife, Rachel, she was technically still married to her previous husband. Despite her belief that they were divorced, her prior husband had never filed the paperwork. While this was eventually rectified, this embarrassing error haunted Jackson for some time. Dickinson was vocal in his claims of bigamy against Jackson – and Jackson challenged him to a dual to restore his wife’s honor. Jackson was struck in the breastbone and suffered some cracked ribs, however Jackson followed that up with a fatal pistol wound to Dickinson.

Although, Rachel’s honor wasn’t restored, as many others would make the claim of bigamy, for the moment in served its purpose.

Abraham Lincoln and James Shields (1842) “The Duel that Almost Was”

While it isn’t difficult to imagine Andrew Jackson fighting a duel, it isn’t something you expect from Abraham Lincoln! While the duel never actually happened, it came quite close to happening.

The dueling parties were on different sides of the political divide regarding the state bank. At one point Lincoln wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper deriding Shields of his actions against the bank and his wooing of the ladies including the following quote:

“Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot marry you all. Too well I know how much you suffer; but do, do remember, it is not my fault that I am so handsome and so interesting”. Lincoln signed the letter, Rebecca. James Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel – and as the challenged party, Lincoln had the choice of weapon and circumstances – he chose broadsword. With a broadsword he stood the chance to not dying and with the length of the sword and his arms, Lincoln had the upper hand. As dueling was illegal in Illinois there was a plan to meet on the Missouri side of the line. Through the intervention of friends the duel was called off but only just.

How different would things have been if Lincoln had been killed in this duel?


When I think about duels I think of with dueling pistols, not broadswords!!

There are many other famous duels – do you know about others? If you want to know more about some of these other duels, you can check out the History at 40 Paces article at History.com and for more about the Lincoln duel check out Abraham Lincoln Prepares to Fight a Saber Duel at History.net.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Her Majesty's Will by David Blixt


Her Majesty’s Will by David Blixt
Ebook, 247 pages
Sordelet Ink
April 23, 2012
★★★ ½☆☆

Genre: Historical fiction, humor

Source: Received for review as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
“Before he was famous, he was a fugitive.
Before he wrote of humanity, he lived it.
Before he was the Bard of Avon, he was a spy.
A very poor spy.
England, 1586. Swept up in the skirts of a mysterious stranger, Will Shakespeare becomes entangled in a deadly and hilarious misadventure as he accidentally uncovers the Babington Plot, an attempt to murder Queen Elizabeth herself. Aided by the mercurial wit of Kit Marlowe, Will enters London for the first time, chased by rebels, spies, his own government, his past, and a bear.

Through it all he demonstrates his loyalty and genius, proving himself to be - HER MAJESTY'S WILL”
This was a sort of different HF read than I am typically used to – one full of comedy and wit and William Shakespeare. I have read historical fiction interpretations of some of Shakespeare’s plays but never read a historical fiction where he is actually a character – and before he was a playwright none the less! This would best be described as a buddy story as the plot’s antics revolve around Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe and focus on their relationship in its various forms.

I certainly enjoyed the characters – how they were portrayed, their comedy, and relationships with those around them. As this is a story from the bottom of Elizabethan society looking up we encounter a lot of the “riff-raff” and personages you would not want to meet in a dark alley. I enjoyed seeing this side of things because in a typical Tudor or Elizabethan novel we are usually set within the court itself or with one of the noble families. This was a refreshing change – there were only a couple of characters from the upper class and they were bit parts.

This novel sets out to give us a potential option for what Shakespeare was doing during his “lost years” between Stratford and his London playwright days – in Blixt’s view, he might have been a very terrible and unwilling spy. While I enjoyed this unique plot idea and the vastly ridiculous amount of trouble the main characters find themselves in, I had a problem with it. My problem was that the fact that Shakespeare and Marlowe were the adventurous heroes didn’t seem to make a bit of difference to the story. It really could have been two fictional characters and the story would have come off every bit the same. For me there wasn’t much that made it important that Will and Kit were the duo of this story – I didn’t really “recognize them”.

Overall this was a laugh-a-minute tale that certainly should be read as a breather from the more serious and heavy novels. It will lift your spirits if you are having a bad day.

Author so and so also has written the Star Crossed Series (which currently includes: Master of Verona, Voice of the Falconer, and Fortune’s Fool), the Colossus Series (which currently includes: Stone & Steel), as well as various short stories. You can visit the author’s website or blog for additional information about the books.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

 
You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #DavidBlixtVirtualTour

Now for a giveaway!!! I have one e-copy of Her Majesty's Will to giveaway.  The giveaway is open internationally.  The winner will be able to chose the format they would like (pdf or mobi).  Last day to enter is December 29th.  Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter & good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mailbox Monday #128

MM

A quiet couple of weeks in my mailbox however I did receive 2 books this week.

I received a copy of the brand new printing of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell from the publisher for participating in the promotion of the new version of the book.  I really love this cover much more than the older version that I currently have.  Be on the look out over the next couple months for a giveaway of my gently used copy.

Then, for review, I received a copy of Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt from the publisher.  I’ve been interested in this novel because it is such an original subject that I don’t know anything about.  Here is the book blurb:

“Illuminations chronicles the life of Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179), who was tithed to the church at the age of eight and expected to live out her days in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned but disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. Instead, Hildegard rejected Jutta’s masochistic piety and found comfort and grace in studying books, growing herbs, and rejoicing in her own secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died some three decades later, Hildegard broke out of her prison with the heavenly calling to speak and write about her visions and to liberate her sisters and herself from the soul-destroying anchorage.

Like Anita Diamant’s portrayal of Dinah in The Red Tent, Mary Sharratt interweaves historical research with psychological insight and vivid imagination to write an engaging and triumphant portrait of a courageous and remarkably resilient woman and the life she might have lived. Deeply affecting, Illuminations is a testament to the power of faith, love, and self-creation.”

That’s it for me, what about you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of December it is being hosted by Suko’s Notebook.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Return of Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday

I haven’t done one of these Suddenly Sunday posts in a very long time but I’m hoping to rectify that.  I’m going to get back to using these as a sort of weekly wrap up/kick off.

First up is the announcement of the winner of the giveaway for An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser.  And that winner is….MARGARET!!!! 

Congratulations!!! I’ve sent an email to the winner and await her response regarding file type – if in 5 days no response is receive, a new winner will be selected.


There is still one more day left in the 1st Annual Historical Holiday Blog Hop!  Here I’m giving away a pair of the first two books in the Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig.  Also make sure you visit the rest of the blogs, including the host site, Passages to the Past, on the hop for great prizes.

BlogHopBannerFINAL-1


In other giveaway news – Robin Maxwell is hosting a giveaway for a copy of Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn from its brand new 24th printing!  Along with it is a beautiful leather diary for your usage.  Visit her Facebook page to enter!  I very much enjoyed reading this book when I read it a few years ago and this cover is beautiful.  Here is my review if you want to check it out.

33372-Secret-Diary-of-Anne-Boleyn-Email-PDF-7


Also, I wanted to do a quick summary of what has been posted this week on the blog:


Well that’s it for me, hope you have a great Sunday!!!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Bit of Trivia about Presidential Portraits

  • Did you know…that all the official Presidential portraits are painted in oils?
  • Did you know…that (in modern times) until the president leaves office the official portrait is a photograph?
  • Did you know…that the sitting president often displays the official portraits of presidents they admired throughout the White House?
  • Did you know…that the official portrait of Kennedy was painted after his death and does not reflect his character but rather the mood surrounding his assassination?
  • Did you know…that famous painter, John Singer Sargent, known for his painting of Madame X, was the official portrait painter of Theodore Roosevelt?
  • Did you know…that the first presidential portrait, of George Washington, was painted by Gilbert Stuart?
  • Did you know…that the first ladies also have official portraits painted (although not all of the early ones)?

Here are a few of my favorites:

John_F_Kennedy_Official_Portrait
John F. Kennedy by Aaron Shikler

abraham lincoln official portrait
Abraham Lincoln by George P.A. Healy

theodore roosevelt official portrait
Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent

harry truman official portrait
Harry Truman by Martha Greta Kempton

Jacqueline_Lee_Bouvier_Kennedy official portrait
Jacqueline Kennedy by Aaron Shikler

helen taft official portrait
Helen Taft by Bror Kronstrand

dolley madison official portrait
Dolley Madison by Gilbert Stuart

lucy hayes official portrait
Lucy Hayes (couldn’t find the artist)

Here you can check out the entire official presidential portrait gallery and the entire official first lady portrait gallery. If you visit the National Portrait Gallery you can check them out in person.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Killing-Kennedy-Bill-O-Reilly

Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
Unabridged, 8 hr. 25 min.
Macmillan Audio
Bill O’Reilly (Narrator)
October 2, 2012
★★★½☆☆

Genre: History, Non-Fiction, President

Source: Received audiobook from publisher as part of Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewers Program

“More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.

The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader.  This may well be the most talked about book of the year.”

As soon as I heard the O’Reilly & Dugard were going to be releasing another non-fiction work about another famously assassinated president (which I am now 3 for 4 in reading about) I was super excited to read it. I enjoyed Killing Lincoln tremendously and had high hopes for the treatment about Kennedy – especially since it is a relatively recent event that I did not know all that much about. I may have set my expectations too high coming in because the book let me down a little bit.

One of the things that I appreciated was that right from the start of the book, sort of an author’s note, O’Reilly set out to respond to some of the criticisms about Killing Lincoln and how he made sure to address those concerns in Killing Kennedy. In another connection to his earlier work, parallels are frequently drawn between Kennedy and Lincoln – some of which I was surprised by and were quite eerie.

The bulk of the book features the early life and presidency of John F. Kennedy – sort of getting the reader up to speed leading up to the assassination. These vignettes were interesting and inspiring – especially reading about PT-109, which I knew about but did not know Kennedy was involved in. These sections really helped to build my appreciation of Kennedy and contributed to my emotional reaction to the assassination (which I was not alive to live through, so I’m sure my reaction was somewhat different from that of one who lived through it). At the same time, we get parallels (especially during the Kennedy administration years) of what Lee Harvey Oswald was doing. This was a strength that O’Reilly built on from the previous book which was also one of my favorite elements.

The portion of the book featuring the actual immediate lead up, assassination, and fallout made up only about one-third of the book – which was a little disappointing since the book is titled Killing Kennedy – I expected more of the book to represent this segment. For someone who really does not know too much about this period of history there were some new things that I learned and it was a great introduction to the period (however I am unable to account for its accuracy) – however I feel that for someone experienced with the time period it was likely common knowledge that was presented here – despite the claim of new revelations. I’m not going to get into conspiracy theories or which view the authors took or whether they are right or not (we just don’t know until probably 50 years from now when some records are unsealed – pretty much all Kennedy books promote one theory or another). One other little thing that bugged me was that there are dates presented at the beginning of each chapter – which suggest to the reader that the events being described happen on that day or that we will go forward from that date – but I found them to be distracting. We often would get a little something that happened on that date and then jump around in time. I think it would have been more effective to provide a date range for the chapters.

Overall this was still the compelling reading that moves you right along and keeps you interested, however I wanted more.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★½☆

My sentiments were very similar to those of Killing Lincoln: The book is narrated by the author, Bill O’Reilly, who I thought was an excellent choice for narrator. His tone of voice lent to the feel of the thriller as well as to a news commentary of the days. It sort of felt like you were hearing an account of what happened. He had great pacing and enunciation which really contributed to the overall feel.

Author Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard also have written Killing Lincoln and have a new book in the works – topic yet to be disclosed. You can visit O’Reilly’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book or this audio sample?

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 © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 10, 2012

1st Annual Historical Holiday Blog Hop


Welcome all to my little part of the 1st Annual Historical Holiday Blog Hop - hosted by Amy Passages to the Past!!!

This is such a great idea for the holiday season.  A great collection of historically focused blogs are participating with giveaways - at last count there were 38 blogs participating - from today to December 17th!  Please be sure to visit all of the participating blogs to get in on all of the fun.  You can find the list of blogs here (or below) and many are doing international giveaways.



Also, at Passages to the Past there will be 4 massive book prize packs and a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble:

Prize Package #1

The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan (PB)
The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick (PB w/Signed Bookplate)
What You Long For by Anne Clinard Barnhill (PB)
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig (Signed PB)
Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell (PB)
Selene of Alexandria by Faith L. Justice (eBook, author will send)
A Dance of Manners: A Regency Anthology by Susan Flanders, Kristi Ahlers, Gerri Bowen, Cynthia Breeding and Erin E.M. Hatton (PB)
By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan (PB)
The King's Daughter by Barbara Kyle (PB)
The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell (PB)
Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones (PB)
The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh (ARC, sponsored by Penguin Publishing)
The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry (PB)
I, Jane by Diane Haeger (PB)
Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara (Signed HC)
Illuminations by Mary Sharratt (HC)
The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin (Signed PB)

Prize Package #2

The Master of Verona by David Blixt (HC)
The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick (PB w/Signed Bookplate)
At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill (PB)
The King's Grace by Anne Easter Smith (Signed PB)
Oleanna by Julie K. Rose (PB)
The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan (PB)
Rebel Puritan by JoAnn Butler (Signed PB)
The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen (Audiobook)
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchahan (ARC, sponsored by Penguin Publishing)
The King's Concubine by Anne O'Brien (PB)
The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell (PB)
The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd (PB w/Tower of London Tea Sachets)
Selene of Alexandria by Faith L. Justice (PB)
The Virgin Queen's Daughter by Ella March Chase (PB)
The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White (PB)
The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger (PB)
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig (Signed HC)
The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin (Signed PB)

Prize Package #3

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose (HC)
Sea Witch by Helen Hollick (PB w/Signed Bookplate)
The Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (Signed PB)
Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell (Audiobook)
Pale Rose of England by Sandra Worth (PB)
A Thing Done by Tinney S. Heath (PB)
The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan (PB)
By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan (PB)
Royal Romances by Leslie Carroll (PB)
The Rose of York: Love & War (Book 1, War of the Roses trilogy) by Sandra Worth (PB)
The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman (Signed PB)
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (ARC, sponsored by Penguin Publishing)
Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri (ARC, sponsored by Penguin Publishing)
Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase (PB)
The Queen's Rival by Diane Haeger (PB)
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau (Signed PB)
The Courtier's Secret by Donna Russo Morin (Signed PB)

Prize Package #4

A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick (PB, US Edition)
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell (PB)
The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner (PB, UK Edition)
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell (PB)
The Lady's Slipper by Deborah Swift (PB, UK Edition)
Before Versailles by Karleen Koen (PB)
The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton (PB w/Theodora Bookmark)
The Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan (ARC)
The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot (PB)
Movement of Stars by Amy Brill (ARC, sponsored by Penguin Publishing)
Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn (PB)
Second Lisa by Veronica Knox (eBook)
To Serve a King by Donna Russo Morin (Signed PB)
Into the Path of Gods (Book 1, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (PB)
In the Shadow of Dragons (Book 2, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (PB)
The Anvil Stone (Book 3, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (HC)
A Land Beyond Ravens (Book 4, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (HC)

And as for the giveaway being hosted here - I have two gently used copies of the first two books in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series - The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque of the Black Tulip.  The giveaway is open to the USA and Canada.  Ends at midnight on Monday December 17th.  Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Vegetable Marrow Farci

Weekend Cooking

This past week I made my most exciting historical cookbook purchase to date – Last Dinner on the Titanic. In the past I have seen replicas of Titanic menus and always wondered how awesome would it be to have the opportunity to try some of these foods – well now I can!

The Last Dinner on the Titanic provides a wealth of information about dining on the Titanic.  All of the recipes provided are based on the actual options available on the menu during the last dinner on board Titanic.  There is information about each of the class’s dining rooms and descriptions of the type of foods served. The food served even aboard steerage sound pretty good. They also provide information about how to pull together a recreated last dinner on board Titanic – complete with menu, beverage choices, suggestions of when to begin your cooking, linens to use etc. There also are suggestions of how you can modify the menus for modern tastes and also ease of purchasing ingredients. I will be using this cookbook for a long time.

The first recipe that I chose is from the First Class menu – Vegetable Marrow Farci – which I had no idea what that was. This would have represented a 4th course entrée on the last dinner aboard Titanic before she struck the iceberg. In case you have never heard of vegetable marrow (which I had not), it is a relative of the zucchini. According to food.com – vegetable marrow “has a very bland flavor and can be stuffed with meat stuffing. Best when eaten young and not over boiled. Vegetable marrow has a sweet and nutty flavor”. I selected this recipe because we were looking for a meatless dish.

last dinner on the-titanic cookbook

Vegetable Marrow Farci
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 vegetable marrow (or 2 large zucchini)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups button mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2/3 cup cooked rice
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Fresh basil

Directions:
1) Halve the marrow lengthwise; scoop out the flesh with a spoon leaving ¼ inch shell. Discard large seeds. Chop scooped flesh into small dice and reserve.
2) In skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 8 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Stir in basil, oregano, reserved marrow, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes; increase heat to high and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until vegetables are well browned; stir in vinegar. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in rice, salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of cheese.
3) Spoon into hollowed vegetables, packing lightly with back of a spoon. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and remaining cheese; drizzle with butter. Place in a greased baking dish in a 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until marrow is fork-tender and topping is well browned.
4) To serve, slice marrow diagonally in 3-inch slices. Garnish with fresh basil.

IMG_2766

Traditionalists would use vegetable marrow and short-grain rice – however I followed the substitutions and used zucchinis and white rice (you can also use sushi rice or long-grain rice just fine). I eliminated the mushrooms, because neither my boyfriend nor I like them. I also would advocate using slightly less red wine vinegar. I used about 1 ½ tablespoons and it was still a little more vinegary than I would have liked.

This dish came out so delicious – my boyfriend has requested that we have this frequently when we decide to make a meatless dish. The zucchini came out so tender and the filling was delicate and tasty. If you wanted to add chicken it would easily mix in for some added protein.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Any post remotely related to cooking can participate.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Truth in Fiction Challenge – Entry 1

So I know that this is almost the end of the year and I am just getting around to actually participating in this challenge. This is my first entry in the Truth in Fiction Challenge (hosted by Fig & Thistle).

Book Pair:Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey (Fiction)
                 Marie Therese: Child of Terror by Susan Nagel (Non-Fiction)

So instead of doing a typical review of these two – because I already did that (linked above)– I wanted to offer come comparisons and what made me link these two books together.


truthinfiction

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow focuses on the period of Marie Antoinette’s life surrounding the French Revolution. Her daughter, Marie Therese, plays a very, very small background role in this novel. I have had an interest in Marie Therese because in every novel I have read about her she is always a young girl living through the French Revolution and is frequently portrayed as sort of stuck up. I knew that there had to be more to this girl and when I stumbled across Marie Therese: Child of Terror I knew I had to read it.

The Marie Therese that is seen in Child of Terror is nothing like the Marie Therese seen in novels – and there wasn’t much of her in Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow to really pass a judgment on her character there. This Marie Therese grows into her own – a passionate woman who believes in France, forgives the people for the tragedy they caused her personally, and wants to do what is best for the France of the future. She did have her moments of quiet and brooding – however I would honestly expect that after all she went through.

At the same time, in the early portion of Child of Terror we see Marie Antoinette in the earlier years leading up to the Revolution – and she was portrayed in very much a similar light as in Days of Splendor – fun loving however not an airhead as portrayed in other novels.

I appreciated getting to know this young woman in her own right beyond as a background figure in her parent’s story.

 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: Marie Thérèse, Child of Terror by Susan Nagel

marie therese

Marie Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter by Susan Nagel
Unabridged, 18 hr. 14 min.
Books on Tape
Rosalyn Landor (Narrator)
March 4, 2008
★★★½☆☆

Genre: Non Fiction, Biography

Source: Downloaded the audio from my local library

“The first major biography of one of France's most mysterious women--Marie Antoinette's only child to survive the revolution.

Susan Nagel, author of the critically acclaimed biography Mistress of the Elgin Marbles, turns her attention to the life of a remarkable woman who both defined and shaped an era, the tumultuous last days of the crumbling ancient régime. Nagel brings the formidable Marie-Thérèse to life, along with the age of revolution and the waning days of the aristocracy, in a page-turning biography that will appeal to fans of Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette and Amanda Foreman's Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire.

Nagel's gripping narrative captures the events of her fascinating life from her very public birth in front of the rowdy crowds and her precocious childhood to her hideous time in prison and her later reincarnation in the public eye as a saint, and, above all, her fierce loyalty to France throughout.”

I have not spent much time previously reading about the time period surrounding the French Revolution and accordingly I did not know much about Marie Thérèse, Madame Royale, either. When I have seen her appear in historical novels she is typically a child with an apparent attitude problem – and I was sure that there was more to her than that, however until now I didn’t know just what it was. Nagel’s book follows Marie Thérèse from the opulent Bourbon court, to incarceration at the Temple Prison, to exile at various courts of Europe, Restoration in France, and to the final exile and her death. There was SO much more to this woman’s life than I had any idea of!

The woman that evolves from Nagel’s portrait is a very strong woman who would do anything for France. Even after all that she went through during the Revolution she forgave the people and wanted to go back to bring the country back to glory again. She had more resolve and forgiveness than most people. By the end of the book you truly come to know Marie Thérèse is her own right – not just as the daughter of Marie Antoinette. She is truly someone that more people should know about – especially in her later life.

The first section of the book dealt primarily with the retelling of the life of Marie Antoinette – how she came to France, her petit Trianon, issues with her marriage, etc. There was little mention of Marie Thérèse throughout this section. I felt that with this being a book of Marie Thérèse, not Marie Antoinette that this section was WAY too long. I understand that the author needed to set up the scene and establish Marie Thérèse’s deep love for her mother – but it felt like I was reading a Marie Antoinette biography instead.

I also had an issue with the Dark Countess portion of the book. There is one rumor that Marie Thérèse was switched with another at some point after leaving the Temple Prison and that the real Marie Thérèse was actually this person known as the Dark Countess living far afield and that the person who was portrayed to the world as Marie Thérèse was an impostor. This was all explained more in the afterword, however throughout the book when this thread was brought up, I had no idea what this had to do with anything and found that I couldn’t connect it. I think it would have been more effectual to place the whole discussion of the Dark Countess in the afterword.

Overall, this was a wonderful biography of a woman who is lesser known than her mother, but whom more should be known about.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★½☆

The narration here was excellent. The narrator had a French accent which made the story being told feel more natural. It was also great to learn pronunciations of names and places that I have always struggled with. I actually found myself repeating after the narrator to learn how to say things.

Author Susan Nagel also has written Mistress of the Elgin Marbles. You can visit her blog for additional information about the books.

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 © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court