*UPDATE*

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Interview with Author P.A. Staes

Today I have the opportunity to introduce debut author P.A. States to you!  Her new book, The Bruges Tapestry, was released on August 29, 2012 and she is currently on a virtual blog tour.  Please read on to learn a little more about her and her novel (series!).

The Bruges Tapestry

Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaer, since she's employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium.


Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn't know. All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back.

But Claire isn't the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder.  Claire's story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver's daughter. Only Claire can discover the secret that is woven in time.

Has writing been something you have always wanted to do or a decision that arose more recently?

Writing is something I always loved to do. I didn’t think in terms of wanting to do it until I started the novel about eight years ago.

In school when we were given a writing assignment and others would groan, I would secretly think, “Hooray! I can do this.” Not so for geometry, though.

Because I was a nurse for 40 years, I studied the sciences exclusively. I love science because it piques my curiosity.

Then I married a history major and things that had seemed dull as dust (1066 Norman Invasion) suddenly became fascinating. For instance, have you seen the Bayeux Tapestry (embroidery really) about the Norman Invasion or read any of the books about it? Suddenly, when you link it to real people, history comes alive.

I began to read more historical novels until I was reading them almost exclusively, along with mysteries. It just so happens too that the sunset of my career in nursing seems to be coinciding with my opportunities to write, study textiles, and travel.

Yes, I have done some reading on the Bayeux Tapestry! I actually used a book that sort of translates the Tapestry for a research paper I wrote for a historiographical analysis of the Battle of Hastings! Masters in History student here!

What has been the hardest part of the publication process?

My answer will sound schizophrenic - everything and nothing. Everything about traditional publishing felt foreign and terrifying. I sent letter to agents and sent more letters. Mostly I waited. I felt like I was in a vacuum.

I spoke with friends about a non-traditional approach, self-publishing, and they assured me that the publishing industry was changing and that people now had more choices, as evidenced by the growing popularity of tablets and e-readers. Also, my goal was to give readers a novel that would entertain them and provide them with interesting information, not have a book published by a major publisher.

Once I found a book coach familiar with the self-publishing route, she introduced me to other experts, such as my fabulous cover designer, the lovely woman who took my author photos, and the gentleman who designed the book interior and found the “ancient” looking font for the chapters set in 1520.

Of course I wanted the most polished book I could publish, so it was edited several times and I can’t thank my editors enough. So, the hardest part so far is to have enough eyes read the book to find the errors that make an author cringe. I must say though that once you have located the experts to help with self-publishing it’s pretty painless.

Marketing, that’s another story. I do have the joy of meeting reviewers and their followers and getting their feedback so I know what works and doesn’t work in the writing.

Thanks for that information about the route through self-publishing. I’m always interested in how a book got to its published form.

The Bruges Tapestry takes place both in present-day California and 1520’s Belgium.  Did you find it easier to write either section?  When the idea for the book came to you, was it the historical section or the modern section that came first?

What a good question! Unexpectedly, I found the 1520 segment much easier to write, probably because I loved the research I did to learn about 1520, tapestry, and Bruges. I will say that weaving the two stories together was a huge challenge and I spent a lot of time outlining at an easel in order to get the timeframe clear in my own head.

While I do live in California, so I know Claire’s territory very well, I fell in love with Bruges when I visited there 20 years ago and I admit that I wanted to hang out in Bruges in my mind with Beatrice. There’s something about a city with canals that really captures my heart. Everything about Bruges, the canals, the shape of the buildings, the food, the tiny streets, even the ivy on the walls tells the visitor that there are centuries of history here and one could write about the place forever and not begin to know the inhabitant’s triumphs and travails.

The historical section came into my mind first because I’d been studying how tapestry was made by visiting museums, as well as by reading such experts as Guy Delmarcel. Since I wanted tapestry to feel relevant to modern readers, I knew I wanted the story told in modern time so that the reader could see that tapestries of old were rich with symbolism. Not only did their central figures tell an allegorical tale, but the flowers, trees and animals were all symbolic in ways that we don’t understand today.

I have heard that this is to become a series – can you tell us if this is true and a little more about it?  Are you currently working on the next book?

I am currently working on the next book and my intention is to write a series of textile mysteries. I find that in writing, a story seems to take me in all sorts of directions, many of which I didn’t intend, so I can’t swear to the reader how the next in the series will look, but so far it’s about a textile in the 17th century. I’m up to my eyebrows in books of the period and studying the textile history. What I do want to give the reader of the next book is the same sense of wonder I have when I hear about the artistry, dedication and sacrifice it took to create works we see now primarily in museums.

Like that dull Norman Invasion in 1066, these works of art don’t seem to come alive until we can attach them to the lives of real people who were driven by the same kinds of motives and fears that still drive us today.

What is an interesting tidbit from your research for this novel that you can tell us about that didn’t make the cut into the novel?

Oh my goodness, there were so many. I called an historical botanist to ask what plants my protagonist would have had outside the window, but I don’t think I eventually added anything about that in the novel. I learned a great deal about the food of the time and the religious festivals, most of which I left out of the novel. I loved the bit about the color red for fabric coming from pregnant lice, but what didn’t make the cut, as you asked?

Aha, yes, Mr. Delmarcel’s book described the price of 23 tapestries in 1535 – 23,448 ducats or about 1,000 ducats per tapestry. I was very interested in trying to determine how much that would be in today’s money, or how much wealth that represented at the time. Since it’s not easy to get that kind of economic information (I did try), I left out the price of tapestry. I was hoping to find it might be “as much as a horse,” or “as much as three acres of land,” or some such thing, but no luck.

With art being a huge aspect of this novel, I have to ask, are you an artist yourself or more of an art appreciator? 

I’m definitely not an artist, but I am an art appreciator. I grew up in the 1950’s and art lessons were part of what we did daily in school. While I was never good at any of it, it seemed to me that it opened up the channel to learn to appreciate those who do have the gift and develop it.

I took a Smithsonian art history tour of Italy and find that the more I learn about art, the more I love it. My current art obsessions include watercolors, sculpture, anything by Vermeer and Dutch still life.

pa staes

P.A. Staes is the author of The Bruges Tapestry; the first of the Clare DeMaere series of historical mysteries. To lend veracity to The Bruges Tapestry Ms. Staes traveled to Stirling Castle in Scotland, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Cluny Museum and Gobelin Factory in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters to bring alive the rich and romantic world of tapestry.   Ms. Staes lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs.

You can find P.A. States on her Website or Blog

The Bruges Tapestry Tour Banner FINAL

Or, if you want to know more about the book, check out the rest of the blog tour either at the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #BrugesTapestryVirtualTour.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mailbox Monday #137

MM

Welcome to another edition of Mailbox Monday on Tuesday.  This is starting to become a more regular occurrence here!

Over the past 2 weeks I received 2 books – talk about pacing!  Both are for review, received from the publishers.

  • Fever by Mary Beth Keane – audio download from Simon & Schuster Audio.  I first heard of this book in a USA Today review and was instantly intrigued.  It is the story of the woman who became known a “Typhoid Mary”.  I have asked my fiancé many questions about this woman before so I had to get the jump on this book.

“On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way in New York City. Brave, headstrong, and dreaming of being a cook, she fought to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic-service ladder. Canny and enterprising, she worked her way to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. Sought after by New York aristocracy, and with an independence rare for a woman of the time, she seemed to have achieved the life she’d aimed for when she arrived in Castle Garden. Then one determined “medical engineer” noticed that she left a trail of disease wherever she cooked, and identified her as an “asymptomatic carrier” of Typhoid Fever. With this seemingly preposterous theory, he made Mallon a hunted woman.

Bringing early-twentieth century New York alive – the neighborhoods, the bars, the park carved out of upper Manhattan, the boat traffic, the mansions and sweatshops and merging skyscrapers, Fever is an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the imagination of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes a fiercely compelling, dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable heroine.”

  • Bristol House by Beverly Swerling – print book from publisher.  I selected this book because I have had my eye on her New York series for quite some time but haven’t had the chance to read them. 

In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica. Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work. He’s also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House.

In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished. In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets. Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to puzzle out—at their own peril.

This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.

That’s all for me.  What arrived it your mailbox recently?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of March it is being hosted by Chaotic Compendiums.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage & Giveaway

Like-Chaff-in-the-Wind

Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage
Book 2 in the Graham Saga
Paperback, 392 pages
Troubador Publishing Ltd
December 17, 2012
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, Time-Slip

Source: Received from the author for review

“Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother's nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the colony of Virginia to be sold as indentured labor. Matthew arrives in Virginia in May 1661 and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his story of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything, Matthew's insistence that he is an innocent man leads him to being singled out for the heaviest tasks. Insufficient food, grueling days and the humid heat combine to wear him down. With a sinking feeling, he realizes no one has ever survived their seven years of service on the plantation Suffolk Rose.

Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife. Alex Graham has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die. So she sets off from Scotland on a perilous journey to bring her husband home. Alex is plagued by nightmares in which Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. Sailing to Virginia, she prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side. But fate has other plans, and what should have been a two month crossing turns into a yearlong adventure - from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Will Alex find Matthew in time? Will she be able to pay the price of setting him free? Like Chaff in the Wind continues on from The Rip in the Veil, taking Alex and Matthew's love story to a new continent.”

First, a note: I have not yet read book 1 in this series, The Rip in the Veil, so I can’t comment on how the second book builds from the first. I can, however, tell you that you probably should read the books in order. That being said, if for some reason you decide to read them out of order, say for a tour and ran out of time to read the first, you won’t be totally lost. The author includes enough information so that you can piece together the major events that have occurred, however it isn’t necessarily right at the start of the book – so there were periods of confusion until I got those tidbits.

The majority of the novel takes place on ships headed to the American Colonies and in Jamestown, Virginia. A shorter amount of time is spent in Scotland. Jamestown was a refreshing setting in that not many stories take place here – but it wasn’t the Jamestown that I expected or experienced upon visiting the historical site. When the book opens we are in 1661, so approximately 50 years after the Jamestown most of us think about with the starving settlers, Pocahontas and John Smith, and various interactions with the natives. It was nice to see this growing Jamestown – even if it was still a somewhat lawless land.

The time travel element was strong, but not so much in terms of people time traveling throughout the book. Alex, our heroine, previously traveled to this time and place from the present. So while she isn’t currently traveling you still have her dealing with outcomes, mindset, and trying to fit in with the ways of women in the 17th century. I think that the time travel element was probably more present in the first book.

While I struggled a little bit with the beginning – mostly due to not having read the first book – it was a quick read and quite enjoyable. The characters were entertaining, the plot moved right along, and I felt like the characters grew quite a bit throughout it. The main focus of the book really is the relationship between the characters.

Author Anna Belfrage also has written book 1 in the series, The Rip in the Veil and is currently working on the rest of the Graham Saga. You can visit Belfrage website or blog for additional information about the book.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Like Chaff in the Wind Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow the rest of the blog tour on the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #ChaffInTheWindVirtualTour.

I have a giveaway to offer today – for one copy of Like Chaff in the Wind and it is open INTERNATIONALLY!  The giveaway will be open until April 7th.  Entry is through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–3/24/13

Suddenly Sunday

It’s suddenly Sunday and I have SO much to do!  That’s what you get from trying to catch up from a week’s vacation, my fiancé starting clinical rotations this past week, hanging out with my best girlfriends yesterday and accomplishing nothing, and mom coming up today to start thinking about wedding planning. AHHHHH!!!!  If you missed my announcement on Facebook earlier this week – I got engaged 2 weeks ago while on a cruise in the Bahamas!

So you might have noticed this week that my blog posts have been posting at all kinds of ridiculous times of the day as opposed to my almost regular posting of 6 AM.  I just have been playing catch up – this week should be more regular *fingers crossed*.   

In terms of what was posted this past week – I tried to have a themed week revolving around the ill-fated Franklin Expedition to discover the Northwest Passage.  If you don’t know anything about this expedition (I didn’t before reading The Terror) check out this past week’s posts.  Those posts included:

Coming up this week I have two different stops on tours for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. On Monday a review and giveaway of Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage and on Thursday I have an interview with P.A. Staes, author of The Bruges Tapestry

And to round out this post – a giveaway winner.  The winner of Lady of the Ashes by Christine Trent is…Kim!  Congrats!  An email has already been sent out and if no response is received within 5 days a new winner will be selected. 

Well I hope everyone has a great Sunday!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just Ignore This Post

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Just testing out some new features. Please ignore this post!



Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: The Terror by Dan Simmons

the terror

The Terror by Dan Simmons
Abridged, 8 hr. 54 min.
Hachette Audio
Simon Vance (Narrator)
December 20, 2006
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller (Horror), Suspense

Source: Downloaded audio from my local library

“The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape. The Terror swells with the heart-stopping suspense and heroic adventure that have won Dan Simmons praise as "a writer who not only makes big promises but keeps them" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). With a haunting and constantly surprising story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core.”

Don’t let the classification of Historical Fiction/Horror turn you off from this book – I probably would classify it as more of a thriller. It wasn’t scary; it was intense and kept you riveted to the sheer “terror” that being stranded in the frozen north could entail, but it was nothing that would keep you awake at night shaking in your boots. It is a tale of the struggle for survival against nature, man, and beast.

The author uses a blend of historical facts known about the Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage and Inuit mythology about the area to craft a tale of what could have possibly happened to the stranded crew. This was for the most part a flawless blend. There was one part toward the end where it was a little more “telling” the mythos than “showing” which got a little boring, but I think it might have been slightly attributable to the fact that the version I was reading was abridged – it might have been smoother in the unabridged version (please correct me if I am wrong!). At some points you have to suspend reality a little bit, but the author’s writing sort of puts you in the mindset of these men who were trapped for about 2 years in the frozen Arctic. You can sort of see where the distinction between reality and delusion could blur.

As there is not a lot known of what ultimately happened to the crew, the author has a lot of creative license to work with. However, the author does a great job with the historical background of previous expeditions to discover the Northwest Passage as well as the prior expedition of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus to the Antarctic.

Reading this story quickly brought to mind the story of the Donner Party – some of the events are similar in terms of a small group just trying to survive winter weather and what it will do to the minds of men. Simmons does a great job of evoking just how harrowing it might have been.

The writing was riveting reading and I was compelled to come back to the book every time. It was a sort of “what could possibly go wrong for them now” pull toward the page.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★½☆

The narration of this book was top notch. Simon Vance was also the narrator for Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, which I read last year, and I certainly recognized his performance. He was able to take a book that I would otherwise not have enjoyed (Bring Up the Bodies) and make it enjoyable; and he did a fantastic job with The Terror. As I said in my Bring Up the Bodies review: he did a fabulous job with voices and creating unique characters that I could identify each time by just the tone of his voice. He made me hate the antagonist character even more because the voice was annoying! Truly one of my favorite audiobook narrators (and I have a very short list!).

The only production issue I had was with the beginning of the book. It sort of jumps around in the narration a little when establishing some of the characters back stories – and with the audio it was a little difficult to tell when we were in the present and when we were in the past.

Dan Simmons has written many books, but those among the historical fiction genre include: Drood and the upcoming The Abominable. You can visit the author’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?

Did you know that AMC is in development to make a drama series of this novel? You know it will be good, as all of their drama programing has been!

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 © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Franklin Expedition – Cultural Spin-Off

The plight of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus has inspired various cultural adaptations in songs, images, and books. Some of these are pretty cool.

Songs:

Several folk songs have been composed about this tragedy including

  • Lady Franklin’s Lament (recorded by many artists)
  • I’m Already There by Fairport Convention
  • Frozen Man by James Taylor
  • Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers

Each one focuses on a slightly different aspect of the expedition. Lady Franklin’s Lament is about the wife of Franklin lamenting his loss. I’m Already There is about the expedition itself. Frozen Man was inspired by photographs in National Geographic of the body of Franklin Expedition member John Torrington. Northwest Passage is about explorers who tried to find the Northwest Passage with a portion of the song about the Franklin Expedition.

Images:

Terrifying, dramatic stories are often portrayed in art – those where the results and actual events are unknown are event more fodder for the imagination.

Man Proposes, God Disposes by Edwin Henry Landseer shows two polar bears chewing on both a ship mast and human bones – both symbols of the Franklin Expedition. This image was initially perceived as being made in poor taste.

Man Proposes God Disposes
Man Proposes, God Disposes by Edwin Henry Landseer

The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church shows an Arctic iceberg scene with a ships mast placed in the foreground in tribute to the Franklin Expedition.

Frederic_Edwin_Church_The_Icebergs
The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church

Both of these are powerful images – although neither shows any actual depictions of the ships.

Books:

Besides the obvious, The Terror by Dan Simmons, other books have been written about the Expedition.

  • Journeys and Adventures of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne – where the titular character tries to retrace the steps of the Franklin Expedition.
  • North with Franklin: The Journals of James Fitzjames by John Wilson
  • Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler
  • Wanting by Richard Flanagan
  • Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by Owen Beattie
  • The Quest For Franklin by Noel Wright

Hope you have enjoyed this little cultural trek through the terrifying ordeal of the Franklin Expedition (as much as you can a tragedy).

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The HMS Terror and Erebus–a Tragic Story

Today I wanted to give you a little bit of background information on the British ships the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus. This week they will be featured with a look at their cultural impact as well as with a review of The Terror by Dan Simmons. Simmons’ book tells a version of the tale of these ships during their last expedition, the Franklin Expedition (which I will talk about more in a minute), however they had quite the life before that ill-fated voyage. The more I read about their exploits the more interested I become.

The HMS Terror began its life as a war ship during the War of 1812. It actually was involved in the bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut which is just a few towns over from my hometown – which I never knew was even involved in the War. In the 1840’s the Terror teamed up with the Erebus for the first time in their storied careers in an expedition that would be known as the Ross Expedition to the Antarctic. For 3 years they explored and studied the nature of Antarctica.

erebus and terror
Engraving of HMS Terror and HMS Erebus.
Photo Credit: Bettmann/Corbis

Following the success in the Antarctic, the next best place to explore would be…the Arctic! This expedition would be known as the Lost Franklin Expedition – and the last for both of these ships. The expedition, led by John Franklin, left England in 1845 to discover the Northwest Passage, only to get stranded in the ice off of Baffin Bay. The crew of 128 lasted through at least 1848 before running out of provisions. The last note left by the crew was dated April 26, 1848 and stated that they were going to be setting out on foot for the Canadian mainland. The crew was never seen again and it is likely that they all succumbed to their fate.

There is a very cool interactive timeline/map of the Franklin Expedition as well as the subsequent searches made for the crew and ships. You can also read more details about the searches for the ships. Both sources are courtesy of Canadian Geographic.

Searches were made many times to try and locate the missing crew and the ships beginning in 1848 and continuing throughout the rest of the 19th century. Several of the bodies of crew members who perished early in the stranding have been located, as have many other relics showing that the crew was there, however to date the ships have not been located.

The plight of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus is one of those stories that captivate me like the Donner Party – in one of those twisted types of fascinations. It’s one of those unsolved mysteries that I hope to one day be solved.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 18, 2013

Some Giveaway Winners!!!

Hello everyone!  Just getting back into the swing of things after a wonderful cruise to the Bahamas!  Man does it take all day to get re-organized!

There won’t be a Mailbox Monday this week – still working on getting that together – will be back next week.  However, I do have a couple of winners to announce for some giveaways that ended last week.

The winner of The Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard is….Cyn209!!

The winner of the Holly Bush giveaway is….Amy!!

Congrats to both of the winners!  I have already sent emails to both of the winners.  If I don’t hear back from them in 5 days, I will select new winners. 

Hope you all have a great week! See you around!

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

the turncoat

The Turncoat by Donna Thorland
Book 1 in the Renegades of the Revolution series
Paperback, 432 pages
NAL Trade
March 5, 2013
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review and tour

“Set in decadent, occupied Philadelphia during the winter of 1777, The Turncoat is a swashbuckling tale of romance, war, and espionage.

Lovers on opposite sides of a brutal war, with everything at stake and no possibility of retreat. 

Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome British viscount commandeers her home, Kate throws caution to the wind and responds to his seduction. She is on the verge of surrender when a spy in her own household seizes the opportunity to steal the military dispatches Tremayne carries, ensuring his disgrace—and implicating Kate in high treason. Painfully awakened to the risks of war, Kate determines to put duty ahead of desire, and offers General Washington her services as an undercover agent in the City of Brotherly Love.

Months later, having narrowly escaped court martial and hanging, Tremayne returns to decadent, British-occupied Philadelphia with no stomach for his current assignment—to capture the woman he believes betrayed him. Nor does he relish the glittering entertainments being held for General Howe’s idle officers. Worse, the glamorous woman in the midst of this social whirl, the fiancée of his own dissolute cousin, is none other than Kate Grey herself. And so begins their dangerous dance, between passion and patriotism, between certain death and the promise of a brave new future together.”

This was a book I was looking forward to from the first time I saw the cover image and read the blurb. What is there not to like? American Revolution – check. Female spies – check. A little intrigue and romance – check. I have always been partial to the American Revolution if I had to pick a “favorite” war and have always felt that there isn’t enough historical fiction written about this period. Much of what has been written tends to take place in Boston or New York, where much of the early action took place. Thorland sets her novel snuggly in Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside during the time it is occupied by the British General Howe.

I really appreciated the novel being set in this time and place. You get to see the true differences between how the British regulars and the Colonial volunteers endured the war. While the Red Coats were partying and living in a tiny microcosm of London, the Rebels were trying to survive at Valley Forge in their paltry lodgings. Thorland makes sure that we are brought right into the center of the British festivities because the main characters are all on a friendly basis with the General.

The idea of spying has always been something that has intrigued me – especially in the earlier days of warfare. I come from a small town where Nathan Hale was a town hero who actually lived and taught in our town for a while – so we grew up appreciating the benefits and risks of spying. You can bet I was excited to see that Hale was name dropped in this novel too! Here we see the lesser known side of female spies and how having the added benefit of a woman spy on your side could gain you information that men would not have had access to. This book reminded me a lot of The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins.

The characters here were phenomenal. I know I have said this several times this year, but I think this is a year for well written characters. Four of the main characters were completely fictional, but engaged seamlessly with the historical characters. Within the first short chapter I was entranced with Kate and Peter. The pages flew and I couldn’t put the book down. I loved how secrets are kept from the reader since you are primarily limited to the knowledge that Kate has and enjoyed how the plot played out – not one that I saw coming which was nice. I hope that we get to see more of these characters in future books, but as the next book is about privateering, that might not be the case.

There are a few detailed sex scenes – which caught me off guard at first, but as I read on they really fit into the story and likely the cohesiveness of the plot might have been lost without them.

This is author Donna Thorland’s debut novel, with a second book planned for 2014- currently titled Terms of Engagement. You can visit the author’s website or blog 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?

You can also watch the book trailer below.

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 © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Disparate Trio: A Guest Post by Evan Ostryzniuk

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Evan Ostryzniuk to The Maiden's Court.  His novel, Of Fathers and Sons: Geoffrey Hotspur and the Este Inheritance was released March 7, 2013.  Evan has written us a guest post today about his approach to the creation of his historical characters.  Welcome Evan, and to everyone else, please read on!

A Disparate Trio: Characterization in the English Free Company Series

Guest Post by Evan Ostryzniuk, author of
Of Fathers and Sons: Geoffrey Hotspur and the Este Inheritance



The approach to creating characters differs greatly from literary genre to genre, since the respective readerships have certain expectations when they pick up this or that novel. The author must endeavor not only to render deep, detailed and sympathetic characters that are appropriate to the story, but convincing ones as well. This challenge is particularly acute for writers of historical fiction because they must instill in their characters a Weltanschauung with which they have little or no experience. Therefore, careful study of the period in question is required. This much is obvious. However, the author of historical fiction then faces the question of how to distribute these learned attitudes, ideas, prejudices, and understandings amongst his or her characters so that they can serve both the narrative and history in as honest and convincing a manner as possible.

The characters in the English Free Company series can be divided into three categories: 1) the three principal fictional characters; 2) true historical personages; 3) historical archetypes. The approach to each category has its nuances, but in this blog entry I will briefly discuss the main creative origins of the three principal fictional characters: Geoffrey Hotspur, Jean Lagoustine, Catherine the Astrologer.

From the top…
Geoffrey Hotspur (1374-1453) is an orphan squire and ward of the Duke of Lancaster, Sir John of Gaunt, currently training in the duke’s hall for squires in Avignon. As the most important of the three principals, I was exceptionally careful about making him at once distinct and original yet a man of and in tune with his times. To that end, I gave him physical attributes that would allow him to fit in with his peers and supply him the opportunity to excel and be noticed. Geoffrey has dark brown hair and an average complexion. His face possesses symmetry of features, which contemporaries considered the source of good looks, although the attention-grabber is his ice-blue eyes, which give him a powerful stare. Also, Geoffrey is very tall. During the Middle Ages, such a physical attribute would have accorded him a great advantage, especially in the upper strata of society. It would allow him to be a superior man of arms, which was all-important to the lordly order; it was a sign of divine favor – in contemporary folklore all great men were physically dominating; it was a sign of virility.

Developing an emotional profile for Geoffrey Hotspur, from which much of the novels’ conflicts arise, required an especially careful ‘matching’ of his personal situation with the fears and prejudices of the time. The ambition of any squire in the 14th century was to become a knight; however, for Geoffrey this ambition is paramount because of his status as a humble orphan. Family was the main determinate of hierarchy in the Middle Ages. Your family name, more than now, informed everybody about who you were and where your place in society should be. Anarchy was one of the great fears of the time, since famine, disease, war, and many other deadly uncertainties constantly threatened to ruin the very fragile society, and so people were very conscious about maintaining order wherever possible. Today, many orphans suffer from a fundamental personal insecurity because of their lack of family, which provides a range of support functions, but during the Middle Ages this insecurity was compounded by their place outside the natural order, in the medieval sense. By being alone, Geoffrey is instantly suspect and at a great disadvantage.

To compensate for this fundamental insecurity and as a means to reveal key aspects of medieval culture, I made Geoffrey gregarious. He loves companionship, male and female, young and old. Part of this attitude derives logically from his unfortunate status as an orphan, but much of the reasoning arises out contemporary society’s strong need for community. During the Middle Ages, more so than today, people lived together, ate together, worked together, and celebrated together in large groups. In an age with weak state institutions, limited technology and communications, and fear of solitude, all levels of society formed communities, clubs, or organizations. For medieval squires, this community took the form of confraternities. A squire had to join a confraternity for the sake of companionship, to be sure, but membership also cemented personal alliances, which was essential on the battlefield and for personal advancement. One had to prove oneself before witnesses. Without close friends, a squire, or a knight for that matter, was nobody. Sure, the classic knight errant wandering from adventure to adventure was a staple of medieval literature, but in every instance he remained an outsider and isolated until he rejoined his companions, and only then was he truly happy and content.

…to the bottom…
Jean Lagoustine (c.1371-14??) is essentially a foil to Geoffrey Hotspur. Where Geoffrey is tall and lean, Jean is short and stocky. Where Geoffrey has great ambitions to perform feats of arms, Jean has small ambitions to survive with some measure of security. With Jean, I wanted to expose readers to the lower orders of medieval society by creating a character that was both a part of and apart from conventional society. Jean’s origin story is more typical than Geoffrey’s, but it too demonstrates how society and circumstance helps form personality. Jean’s peasant father sent him from the village to the city to apprentice as a chandler – at least according to his own story! – but the work was boring and the regime too strict for him, so he fled the workshop and after living homeless for a while found work as an enforcer for a notorious underworld figure. Again, part of Jean’s story is typical for the age and some of it is extraordinary. However, like Geoffrey, he cannot survive in medieval society alone; he has a place, even if it is in the criminal communities. So, the need for companionship and community informs his decision to keep the English Free Company together, come hell or high water.

Part of the charm reading historical fiction is entering an almost alien society. Therefore, a study of the social history of the Middle Ages helped me to add color to the principals, allowing me to broaden my approach to creating these characters and unveiling their personalities through social interaction. This is essential to the genre as a whole but especially to writing stories about the High Middle Ages, since vertical social movement was rare at this time, leaving society highly stratified. The maid might know what her lady was up to, but she could never aspire to take her place. Also, while the main might recognize court gestures and protocols, they would be less sure of their meaning, because she would have no reason to use them on her social plane. Therefore, Geoffrey, as a squire and courtier, has no reason other than idle curiosity to learn what Jean is about, which explains why he could be rude to Jean in one instance and expect him to do the near-impossible in the next. In other words, Jean’s life is unnecessary and unsympathetic to him, no matter how the ex-enforcer is essential to his wellbeing. Knowing this aspect of period gives greater depth to the characters and more control to the author, since he or she will have better understanding of the limits and possibilities of the age. For example, Geoffrey is naturally arrogant and condescending to the lower orders – he cannot be any other way, just as Jean must be deferential to his betters, no matter how much he resents scraping and bowing. This tension helps drive the relationship, and by extension the novel.

My approach to creating characters is not limited to parsing academic sources, of course. I have been able to help bring my characters to life by applying and adapting cultural archetypes and icons. Chaucer’s squire from Canterbury Tales was a key literary source for producing Geoffrey Hotspur, since he serves the roles of contemporary, archetype and identifiable literary figure. While some of the inspiration for Geoffrey and Jean’s fractious relationship stems from well-worn tropes that are still used today, some of it comes from precise examples, such as the partnership between the knight and his squire from the classic movie “The Seventh Seal”. The reasons for me choosing this particular example include: historical believability, vivid characterizations, emotional resonance of the story itself, and the movie as a recognized source, since it is so widely referenced. The knight is proud, wise, chivalrous, and condescending to his servant, while the squire is deferential, clever, resourceful, and witty. They survive because their characters complement each other. The film might be fiction, but it does convincingly portray the interaction such persons might have had. This is the sort of balance amongst sources I must make.

…to the middle
Catherine the Astrologer (1368-14??) was the most challenging of the three characters to create mainly because in the novels she keeps herself so well guarded. Her motivations reflect a deep subtlety that is lost on both Geoffrey and Jean, and so she must remain a shadowy, uncertain figure. In the early novels, not even her surname is revealed and her fellow characters can only speculate on her origins! That said, like Geoffrey and Jean, her occupation and station go a long way towards informing her character. As an astrologer, Catherine has a place in medieval society, albeit near the periphery, since astrology was a mysterious and solitary profession, and therefore suspect.

Then, there is the challenge of Catherine’s gender. The medieval historical record is far poorer on women than on men, and what records that have been preserved mostly concern either saints or ladies of court. Chaucer was good for Geoffrey but not useful for Catherine because his women are too conventional, the wife of Bath notwithstanding. I could collect historical strands from the lives of common people into the bundle of neuroses that is Jean, yet any such collection for the unusual astrologer would be meager indeed. Therefore, I had to make quite a search to locate a convincing historical personage, cultural archetype, or academic study to form the base of my third principal, and I ultimately did find something suitable in the remarkable and true-to-life Julian of Norwich, a contemporary of Catherine’s, businesswoman, mystic, and great traveler. We know enough about her to understand how a woman in a rather ambiguous station and enjoying unusual powers would have not only survived in the medieval world, but also thrived.

So, there we have it – three disparate characters; three approaches to creating them.

I would like to thank Heather for hosting me, and I hope all of you enjoyed reading my modest offering as much as I enjoyed writing it.


You can visit Evan at the following sites: website, Twitter, and Facebook.








Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Caught on Tape: Abraham Lincoln

caught on tape


It seems that Abraham Lincoln is all the rage right now – he is appearing in books, movies, and tv right now and attracting all kinds of name actors. I figured that this would be the best time to take a look at some of the great Lincoln films out there.

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The fates of two families intertwine in this controversial silent drama, a period saga that recounts the genesis of the U.S. Civil War, the destruction it wrought upon the populace and the ascent of the Ku Klux Klan in the war's aftermath.

This is one of those films that are almost always discussed in any film class – typically because of the dramatization of African Americans as played by white men in blackface. Because of this being the only thing spoken about this film, I had no idea that it was about the Civil War or involved Abraham Lincoln. Well, I have learned something! In D.W. Griffith’s infamous silent film, Joseph Henabery plays Lincoln – however he is a less than starring character. The video clip below doesn’t really show the best of the Lincoln portrayal, however it does show his assassination – which I thought was well acted considering the time period. The actor playing Lincoln looks remarkably striking. The movie appears at number 44 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Films.

Abraham Lincoln (1930)

Brief vignettes about Lincoln's early life include his birth, early jobs, (unsubstantiated) affair with Ann Rutledge, courtship of Mary Todd, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates; his presidency and the Civil War are followed in somewhat more detail, though without actual battle scenes; film concludes with the assassination.

Fifteen years following The Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s comes out with another film…about Lincoln – descriptively titled…Abraham Lincoln. Unlike, Birth of a Nation, this film is a “talkie”, one of only two made by Griffith. This film gives you a little bit of everything – the early life, Presidency, and assassination. Walter Huston plays Lincoln this time and Kay Hammond plays Mary Todd Lincoln. I have to wonder, how Griffith’s portrays the assassination differently than in the previous film – so as not to be covering the exact same territory. From what I have read, the portrayal of the Young Lincoln is extremely accurate, but less than so during the Civil War aspect. You can watch the entire film below.

The Blue and the Gray (1982)

Based on the works of Pulitzer Prize winner Bruce Catton, this miniseries depicts -- with great attention to historical accuracy -- life in the United States just prior to and during the Civil War as seen by an artist correspondent. With a legendary ensemble cast (including Gregory Peck, Lloyd Bridges and Colleen Dewhurst), riveting battle sequences and intense drama, the war between the Blue and the Gray rips a nation -- and families -- apart.

Gregory Peck plays Abraham Lincoln in this series – and I’m not personally sure this was the best casting decision – he doesn’t really look like Lincoln to me and I think he has been better in other things. I have read reviews that range from it being a cheesy “soap/war drama” to being a well portrayed tv epic – so I don’t know what to believe on this one. It is a three part miniseries. The clip below is the deliverance of the Gettysburg Address.

Bedazzled (2000)

Nerdy computer programmer Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) learns the devil is in the details when he makes a pact with Beelzebub (a sexy Elizabeth Hurley), who grants Elliot seven wishes in exchange for his soul. Trouble is, old scratch throws a curve ball into all of Elliot's "happily ever afters." A funny remake of the 1967 original starring Dudley Moore.

Ok, so forgive me on this one – but I had to throw this in here because it sounds hilarious! Brendan Fraser as Elliot has seven wishes which he uses to try and get the girl, however each of these turn him into a different person to fulfill his wish. One of these wishes, to be the President of the United States so he can change the world for her, turns him into Abraham Lincoln on the night of the assassination. Unfortunately, I cannot find the clip! Anywhere! I find Fraser to be funny in these sorts of role and am going to have to re-watch this film again. I had to include some lighter fare here. Despite not having the specific clip, here is the movie trailer.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

Honest Abe: he was the 16th president, the Great Emancipator ... and a righteous slayer of the undead spurred to action by his mother's vampiric murder. History and legend are both turned upside-down as Lincoln tracks the creatures of the night.

This is one turn of Lincoln that I didn’t think that I was going to like – due mostly to the ridiculous nature of him being a vampire hunter – however, this film really worked for me. This film takes the history of Lincoln’s rise from a no-body to president while embellishing it with his secret quest to eradicate vampires due to their murder of his mother as a child. What’s a little history without a little blood? I thought that Benjamin Walker made a convincing Lincoln – although he really looks nothing like him either. It received mixed reviews, but I found it escapist fun. I hadn’t read the book by Seth Grahame-Smith so I had nothing to compare it to, but I have read several reviews from those who have (including my boyfriend) who thought it didn’t live up to the book. I thought I had already reviewed this movie, but apparently I didn’t…so review to come!

Lincoln (2012)

Director Steven Spielberg takes on the towering legacy of Abraham Lincoln, focusing on his stewardship of the Union during the Civil War years. The biographical saga also reveals the conflicts within Lincoln's cabinet regarding the war and abolition.

And now for the most recent…the film that has won many awards this season, especially for portrayal of Lincoln by Daniel Day-Lewis. This film was based on the non-fiction book, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and focuses on the 4 months revolving around the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. The cast is chock-full of other notable actors and actresses, among them: Sally Field (Mary Todd Lincoln), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Robert Todd Lincoln), and Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens). I haven’t seen this film, but I want to!

Have you seen any of these films? What have you thought about the portrayals? Any you would recommend? Who was your favorite Lincoln?

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mailbox Monday #136

MM

Hello all!  I missed Mailbox Monday last week so this is a two week combination. 

I received several books this past week for my upcoming class.  Since they are less exciting – I’m just going to list them quickly and move on.

  • Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century A. D. to the Third by Edward N. Luttwak
  • Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
  • A History of Rome by Max Cary
  • A History of Rome by LeGlay
  • The Roman Empire: Economy, Society and Culture by Peter Garnsey

Ok, now for the fun stuff!  For review this week I received:

  • The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone – received from the publisher.  Love reading about Joan of Arc.

The untold story of the extraordinary queen who championed Joan of Arc.

Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.

Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?

  • The Show by John Heldt from the author on Kindle.  I loved books 1 and 2 – can’t wait to read book 3!

Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In The Show, the sequel to The Mine, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

  • The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau received from the publisher.

In the next novel from Nancy Bilyeau after her acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last.

Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies…

Did you all get anything good in your mailboxes?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of March it is being hosted by Chaotic Compendiums.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Giveaway Winners

I am a few days behind on posting these winners, however here they are!

The winner of The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff is…Fiery Na!!

The winner of The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White is…Tiffany B!!

Congratulations to both of the winners – emails have been sent out notifying them.  If responses are not received within 5 days new winners will be selected.

There are still 3 giveaways running- Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent, Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard, Choice of Holly Bush book.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent + Giveaway

lady of the ashes

Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent
Book 1 in Lady of Ashes Historical Mystery Series
ARC, Paperback, 420 pages
Kensington
February 26, 2013
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Source: Received book from the Author as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

“In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is struggling to establish a good reputation for the undertaking business that her husband has largely abandoned. She provides comfort for the grieving, advises them on funeral fashion and etiquette, and arranges funerals.

Unbeknownst to his wife, Graham, who has nursed a hatred of America since his grandfather soldiered for Great Britain in the War of 1812, becomes involved in a scheme to sell arms to the South. Meanwhile, Violet receives the commission of a lifetime: undertaking the funeral for a friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But her position remains precarious, especially when Graham disappears and she begins investigating a series of deaths among the poor. And the closer she gets to the truth, the greater the danger for them both…”

I have enjoyed all of the previous books I have read by Christine Trent; however the Victorian period was somewhat new to me in terms of fiction. Trent has kept her books interesting by choosing unique professions for her main characters and that tradition has continued here as well, in the form of a female undertaker. Not only is this a profession that I don’t know too much about in the modern sense, I don’t know anything about how this was done in the 1800’s.

One of the aspects that I thought was interesting was the exploration of the unacceptability of a female working in this profession. This point is made again and again by various commoners, politicians, and even Queen Victoria herself. At the same time you get to see the British viewpoints on embalming – in the face of its growing usage in the United States during the Civil War. There were a lot of traditions of funerals that we learn the history behind in this novel.

The plot was a little all over the place for me. We get story segments of various people including: Charles Frances Adams (diplomat to Briton from the United States), Queen Victoria, Graham (Violet’s husband), Violet, and a couple others. While the stories all came together eventually and these segments made sense, while reading it was hard to gauge the importance or keep track of what was going on. I think I would have preferred the narrative to be limited in scope of perspective. The mystery that Violet gets caught up in made sense to the story and didn’t feel contrived at all – which I think can sometimes happen with historical mysteries. I can tell you that I certainly did not figure out the mystery.

For the most part I really liked the characters and thought they were well written. I didn’t like Graham at all – which I don’t think I was supposed to – but it was hard to see the evolution of him through Violet’s eyes.

The ending of this book leads me to wonder if Trent will trade in her English setting for an American one in the continuation of the series or in future books outside the series.

Author Christine Trent also has written the following: The Queen’s Dollmaker, A Royal Likeness, and By the King’s Design. There are also expected to be two other books in the Historical Mystery series. You can visit Christine’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?

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).

Lady of Ashes Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #LadyOfAshesVirtualTour.

I also have a giveaway for you – one copy of Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent to one lucky winner – and it is open Internationally.  The last day to enter is March 24th.  To enter, complete the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court