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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Author Event - Katherine Howe

I just got back from an author event with Katherine Howe - author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. She was at my somewhat local independent book store, RJ Julia in Madison, CT, that I have really fallen in love with. Even though I have to drive about 30 minutes to get there, they have a wonderful array of authors come thru and are amazing.

I brought my mom along, which was cool because we haven't done anything that was just the 2 of us in awhile. Even though she knew nothing about the book or author - she was up for the event - and now wants to read the book!

Katherine was one of the nicest authors I have met. She opened her talk by consulting the Magic 8 Ball - which was cool and very fitting for the topic/book. I haven't gotten to read the book yet (it's on my list for this month) so it was exciting to hear some excerpts read. She told us about her apartment in a house in Marblehead, MA that is dated back to the mid 1700's that has so much history. I learned what the key on the front cover is all about - that was something that was confusing to me.

Anyone who has read and loved this book will be excited to know that she is currently working on another one (as well as trying to finish up her PhD). The second book will be set a little bit later than her previous one, in Boston - but will still focus on a very unique family - that was all she would tell us so far. Also, she has an idea for a possible sequel to Physick Book.

I was excited to get her to sign a book for me - I borrowed it from my boyfriend's mom months ago and haven't gotten to it yet. So I figured, what better way to give it back, than in better condition than I received it! I was excited to read the book before the event, and now I really am excited!

Any one here read this yet?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blog Award Wrap Up

I have gotten a couple blog awards over the last week and now is my chance to thank those that gave them to me and to pass them on to others.

My Top Blog Commenters Award
This award was given to me by Alaine from Queen of Happy Endings. This award is to remind readers how much you appreciate them. Thank you Alaine for this award - I really love reading the reviews and the other book bonuses that you have on your blog.

To pass on the love:
Marie from The Burton Review
Ms. Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine
Nina from J'adorehappyendings
Marg from Historical Tapestry
Amy from Passages to the Past

Ladies, thank you for taking the time to check out and comment on my posts - I value all your input. Check out these blogs, they are great.

One Lovely Blog Award

This award was given to be by Allie from Hist-Fic-Chick. I am so glad that my reviews helped you to get into Michelle Moran - she is one of my favorite authors. I have passed this award on before but I would add another blog to the list - Arleigh from Historical-Fiction.com. Not only is the new layout beautiful but she always has some interesting posts, giveaways, and is one of the friendliest people I know! Check out her blog - you will not be dissappointed.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday #14

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Here we post what wonderful things arrived in our mailbox this past week.

This week was a little slower than the past few weeks - but that isn't entirely a bad thing...I have several books to still read for review from the past few Mailbox Mondays. But as always, I am still jealous of the amazing mailboxes some of you have gotten.

So here is what I got this week.

Book for review from author:

Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott
Back about a month or so ago - during the week where I posted about the women of Charles II, Susan contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a book of hers because of my interest in the women of Charles II. I had just the day before bought The Kings Favorite and The French Mistress, so Royal Harlot rounded out my set. Thank you Susan!

Books from Paperbackswap.com:

The Favored Child by Philippa Gregory
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
A Lady Raised High by Laurien Gardner

Did anything good come in your mailbox?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Four Month Challenge Complete

This challenge was hosted by Virginie Says...

I am SO EXCITED to have finished this challenge. It was such a huge undertaking and when I started it I was sure I wasn't going to finish. I had decided right from the start that there were a couple of categories that I wasn't going to do - but then as I went along I found myself wanting to do them because of the challenge. It has really opened my eyes to different books that I have really enjoyed. As I got to the last book, Cleopatra's Daughter, I was not sure I would finish by September 30 but I had hoped that I would race through it like I did her previous novels, and sure enough, save the best for last.

Here is my up to date list of my conquests (haha)

5 Point Challenges
Read a Chick Lit Book - Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker
Read a Historical Fiction Book - Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
Read a Books Just because you like the Cover - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Read anything by Jean Plaidy - The Merry Monarch's Wife by Jean Plaidy
Read a Book with a Number in the Title - The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Audio Book)

10 Point Challenges
Read a Book about Royalty (bio or fiction) - The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
Read a Classic - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Audio Book)
Read a Book by an Author you have Never Read - A Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
Read a Celebrity Bio/Auto-bio - I Am America, and So Can You by Stephen Colbert (Audio Book)
Read a Hardcover Book - Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

15 Point Challenges
Read a Book with a One Word Title - Smitten by Janet Evanovich (Audio Book)
Read a Book Based on a Biblical Character - Eve by Elissa Elliott
Read a Book that was Made into a Movie - Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Read a Book by an Author Born in June, July, August, or September - The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Read a Book with a Summer Word in the Title - The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard (Audio Book)

20 Point Challeges
Read a Book in a Series AND the One After - 1st to Die & 2nd Chance by James Patterson (Audio Books)
Read a Danielle Steele AND a Maeve Binchy Book - Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel and Tara Road by Maeve Binchy (Audio Books)
Read a Book From the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die List - The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Read a Book Considered Christian Fiction - Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Read a Book of Your Choice BUT Read Outside - Rage: The True Story of Sibling Murder by Jerry Langton

250/250 Points

I look forward to the next challenge starting in November - bring it on!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Historical Spotlight: The Children of Cleopatra

Cleopatra’s Daughter (by Michelle Moran) digs into the lives of the twin children of Cleopatra: Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. Her two other children are mentioned as well: Caesarion and Ptolemy. Let’s look at what is known of their lives.

Caesarion – “Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar”
Caesarion “Little Caesar” was the eldest son of Cleopatra and her liaison with Julius Caesar. He was born in 47 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. Cleopatra wanted Caesarion to become Caesar’s heir and the next leader of Rome; after Caesar’s death they returned to Egypt. In 44 BC Caesarion was name co-ruler of Egypt with Cleopatra. When Mark Antony became Cleopatra’s husband – he gave Caesarion the title of “King of Kings”. When Octavian invaded Alexandria, Caesarion was seen as the biggest threat to his quest to become the sole leader of Rome because he was Caesar’s son. Caesarion was executed at the age of 17 in 30 BC upon the order of Octavian – he had been planning on fleeing, possibly to India. He was the last Ptolemiac King of Egypt.

Alexander Helios
Alexander was born in 40 BC in Alexandria, the older sibling in the set of twins. They were the children of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. He was named after Cleopatra’s grandfather, Alexander the Great, and the ancient Greek word for sun. Mark Antony gave him the titles of King of Armenia, Media, Parthia and any countries yet to be discovered between the Euphrates and Indus Rivers. In 33 BC he was engaged to Iotapa of Media. After Cleopatra and Mark Antony committed suicide, Alexander was taken with his sister and younger brother to Rome for Octavian’s triumph. He lived with Octavian’s sister. It is believed that he was ultimately killed or died from illness, but there is no record of when.

Cleopatra Selene II – “Cleopatra VIII of Egypt”
Selene was born in 40 BC with her twin Alexander; she was named after her mother and the ancient Greek word for moon – her brother’s counterpart. She was given the titles of Queen of Cyrenaica and Libya. Along with her brothers she was brought to Rome and lived with Octavia – she outlived her brothers. She was married to King Juba II of Numidia around 20 BC. They ruled over Mauretania for Rome and had an influence on politics. They had 2 children, Ptolemy of Mauretania and Drusillia of Mauretania. She died sometime around year 6.

Ptolemy – “Ptolemy Philadelphus”
Ptolemy was the youngest child of Cleopatra and Mark Antony; he was born in 36 BC in Syria. He was named after Ptolemy II Philadelphus. When his siblings were given titles he received King of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia. He made the trip with Alexander and Selene to Rome and also like his brother it is not known how or when he died.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

NY Times Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

I got an email earlier this week from my contact at Regal Literary for a preview of the NY Times Book Review of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I thought this was pretty cool! That review has been published in today's edition - you can read it here. I think this sentence from the review pretty much sums up what to expect from this book.

"This outing may not be as blindly romantic as The Time Traveler’s Wife, but it is mature, complex and convincing — a dreamy yet visceral tale of loves both familial and erotic, a search for Self in the midst of obsession with an Other."

Hope the review makes you excited to read it - it is being released September 29, 2009. I can't wait to get to read this book.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Interview with Eva Etzioni-Halevy

I had the opportunity to ask Eva some questions about The Triumph of Deborah as well as the other books she has written. There is some great historical information provided as well as insight into her feelings about characters, the stories, and how they are still relevant today. Please read on to enjoy some insightful answers!

You have written three books now about strong women (The Song of Hannah, The Garden of Ruth and The Triumph of Deborah). How did you choose these women to write about and what drew you to their stories?

In recent years, I began to read the Bible on my own, and found it to be fascinating: full of the most dramatic and the most traumatic stories about people who lived thousands of years ago, and yet are so similar to us in their anxieties, hopes and desires. I began to identify in particular with the women and I felt as if I knew them personally and they had become part of me.

So I began to write about them as I believe they deserve to be written about: stories of love, betrayal and redemption with twisting plots, written first and foremost for reading pleasure that are yet totally faithful to the Scripture.

This goes especially for my latest novel The Triumph of Deborah.

The biblical Deborah was a national leader and deeply adored by the people. But what attracted me to write about her was not only her prominence, but also her most amazing story, as recounted in the Bible.

In ancient Israel war is looming. Leader Deborah orders warrior Barak to launch a strike against the neighboring Canaanites who threaten their people with destruction.

The Scripture tells us that when Deborah sent Barak to go out to war against the Canaanites, he did something rather unusual: he demanded that she accompany him to the battlefield. Three thousand years ago--a woman in the battlefield? Very strange.

I asked myself: why did he want her there?

Moreover, the scripture further tells us that she ended up going with him to his hometown as well. Yet she was a married woman, and there is nothing to indicate that husband Lapidoth accompanied her.

As I read the story in the Bible, I began wondering: what did her husband have to say to that excursion? What would any husband say if his wife suddenly went off to distant parts with another man, leaving him to do the babysitting? It makes good sense that this created marital problems between them. Would they be able to overcome those problems?

Further, I wondered what transpired between Deborah and Barak when they were together with no husband in sight?

These were the aspects of Deborah's story that I found most compelling, and they prompted me to write the novel about her.

A large portion of The Triumph of Deborah focuses on two other women, Asherah and Nogah. Were these characters that you created or are these historical women as well?

Asherah and Nogah are characters that I created but I did so on the basis of some hints in the Scripture. Barak goes out to war against the much superior military power of the Canaanites. Yet, against all odds he returns triumphant. Subsequently, it says, "Barak bring in your captives."

I found this sentence odd and intriguing as well. At that time there were many wars and loads of captives, yet they are not mentioned. So why does the biblical text focus on these in particular? I thought that there must have been something pretty special about them, to make the Bible pay attention to them. So in my novel I made them be two daughters of the defeated Canaanite king. The novel then describes the intricate, twisting relations that develop between Barak and the two princesses, of which Deborah also becomes part.

The stories of these women, even though they lived centuries ago, are still very relevant today. With a change of scenery they could be women living in any metropolitan city. What can these women of the past teach women of today?

There is a fascinating paradox in the Bible: The women lived in a male-dominated society, in which they had few legal rights and their position in the family and society was far from equal to that of men.

At the same time they were strong personalities, who did not just sit around and bemoan their fate. Instead, they took destiny in their own hands and shaped it to do their bidding.

Deborah is a prime example. Following the lead in the Book of Judges, my novel pays tribute to her feminine strength, from which women today may derive inspiration. Despite the difficult conditions for women prevailing at the time, she "cracked the glass ceiling" over three thousand years ago, without losing her femininity.

What contemporary readers and particularly women can learn from biblical women, especially Deborah, is that if she could do it then, they can do it now. No matter what the field in which they choose to realize their potential, no matter what is right for them, they can draw on their inner strength to achieve their goals.

On your website you tell us that you are working on a new novel tentatively titled The Ruse of Tamar. Is there anything you can tell us about this upcoming work?

I am now writing a novel about Tamar (the second Tamar in the Bible), the daughter of King David, who was the victim of incestuous rape by her brother. I want to show her trauma and how she rebuilt her life afterward, but I am still struggling with this and it is still far from publication.

Thank you so much Eva for these amazing answers. I feel like I have learned a lot about figures and a time that I didn’t know much about!
Eva was born in Vienna, Austria, but was fortunate to escape as a small child with her parents in 1939. They spent the war years in Italy, partly in an Italian concentration camp, and after the Germans conquered the northern part of Italy, in hiding.

Having survived the holocaust in this manner, they reached what was then Palestine after the war. She grew up in a religious boarding school, after which she studied Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and later at Tel-Aviv University, where she was awarded her PhD.

She lived most of her life in Israel, but spent two lengthy stretches of time in other countries, one in the U.S. and one in Australia. Eventually, some twenty years ago, she decided to return to Israel to seek her roots there.

As part of searching for her roots, she returned to the religious orientation she had previously abandoned. It is this roots-seeking process that also led her to the discovery of the rich world of the Bible, and to the intention of bringing it to life for contemporary readers through the writing of biblical novels.

She has three grown up children: two sons and a daughter and lives with her husband in Tel-Aviv.

You can visit Eva at her website for more information about her books.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Paperback, 352 pages
February 26, 2008
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Genre: Biblical Fiction

Source: Book received from author for review

In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.

Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life.

Filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, The Triumph of Deborah is the absorbing and riveting tale of one of the most beloved figures in the Old Testament, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence.

The third book in Eva Etzioni-Halevys novels featuring women of the Bible. This is biblical fiction at its best.

Three women, each from different worlds, have their lives thrown into turmoil by the Israelite warrior Barak.

Deborah, a prophetess and judge of Israel, offers him her body if he will take command of the Israelite warriors and defeat the Canaanites. When he does these things – she gives what she promised and falls for him.

Naava is a Canaanite princess – but not your traditional one. She is the daughter of the king and a woman he kept as a slave. She has worked as a slave her entire life. When Barak takes the castle and takes her as one of his captives he doesn’t know of her royal status. He takes her as one of his many lovers and Naava falls hard for him.

Asherah is also a Canaanite princess. She is beautiful and smart and married to the leader of the Canaanite warriors. Like her sister, Barak takes her as one of his captives and decides he is going to make her his wife. Unlike her sister, she does not fall for Barak but instead wants revenge for the loss of her husband.

The characters in the book were a mix of historical and fictional, but the way they are represented and described, you would never know which are which. Each character has a well developed back story, personality, desires, life. You develop an attachment to the characters and want what they want (I was especially attached to Asherah’s story, right from the beginning). I didn’t know anything about this period in time or the people in this book and like usual I went outside the text to find some background information. Interestingly, almost everything I found (from biblical texts as well as general internet searches) was included in the book. The author did an amazing job of keeping the book true to what is known to have happened while filling in the gaps history left behind.

These women are strong women. Each one faces hardships, tests of character, moral decisions – like each of us face every day. Even though these events took place a very long time ago – they are still relevant to today. Women still face similar hardship and can still respond in similar ways.

I have never been to the part of the world where this story is set, but the author takes careful time to describe it and it feels now like I have been there. It is so real to me and beautiful.

You can read a short interview that I did with the author here.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | B&N | RJ Julia
Also by Eva Etzioni-Halevy:
the garden of ruth
The Garden of Ruth
song of hannah
The Song of Hannah
Find Eva Etzioni-Halevy: Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 25, 2009

Audiobook Review: Smitten by Janet Evanovich

Smitten by Janet Evanovich
Book 2 in the Elsie Hawkins series
Unabridged, 4 hr. 56 mins.
Harper Audio
C. J. Critt (narrator)
July 19, 2006
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Heat Level:

Genre: Romance, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed Audiobook from Library
“Single mom Lizabeth Kane isn't exactly carpenter material -- she's never picked up a hammer in her life. But she desperately needs the construction job that builder Matt Hallahan is offering. And even though he knows trouble is ahead, Matt can't refuse Lizbeth's irresistible smile.
Matt Hallahan isn't exactly relationship material -- he has always been too busy working on other people's houses to make a home of his own. And even though she knows better, Lizabeth can't stop thinking about the rugged carpenter.
Is the relationship Matt and Lizabeth are building solid -- or more like a house of cards?”
Now this was what I was looking for in a romance and I found it in a very unexpected place (a random pull off of the library shelf)!

Lizbeth is a newly single mother of two young boys who needs to find a way to make a living. She tries looking everywhere – but she is either over or under qualified. She makes a last ditch, rash, effort and applies for a job as…a carpenter? Now who saw that coming?

Lizbeth does not make a great carpenter – but not for wont of trying. But…her boss is the gorgeous Matt Hallahan, whom she soon starts to fall for. The budding romance story is set amongst two energetic kids, a crazy Aunt Elsie who comes to stay for the summer, a flasher who is a repeat offender, a construction scene, and an ex husband who is looking for a power struggle. How will romance survive all of this?

I very much enjoyed this story. There were many comedic scenes that occur on the construction site. Aunt Elsie is the craziest character that I have seen in awhile. One of the things that made this book so enjoyable was that the emotions of the characters and the life that they were living through were so real! This was a very short book and it left me wanting more…to know what would happen next.

I also found what was lacking in the other romance novels that I read…ROMANCE! There were tasteful sex scenes and sweet, tender moments shared between the characters that kept it rooted in reality.

I would definitely read another one of Evanovich’s romances.


C. J. Critt, the narrator, has a voice that at first can sort of grate on you nerves - at least that was what I thought - but as you go along you get used to it. She is also very talented at giving each character their own distinct voice and she really makes an already fun story more enjoyable.

You can preview a short sample of the audiobook (links to Audible)

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If you are interested in this novel, why not read this excerpt?

Buy the Book: Amazon | B&N | RJ Julia

Also by Janet Evanovich:

Janet Evanovich has penned many, many novels, and among the romance novels are the following in the Elsie Hawkins sub-series:
back to the bedroom
Back to the Bedroom (book 1)

Wife for Hire
Wife for Hire (book 3)

the rocky road to romance
The Rocky Road to Romance (book 4)

Find Janet Evanovich: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Book Alert – Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman

Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman

Genre: Non-Fiction; Biography

Release Date: September 24, 2009 (UK)
September 2010 (US, I read this on TudorHistory.org)

Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd

From the inside book jacket:

“Elizabeth I was born into a world of women. As a child, she was served by a predominantly female household of servants and governesses, with occasional visits from her mother, Anne Boleyn, and the wives who later took her place. As Queen, she was constantly attended by ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honour who clothed her, bathed her and watched over her while she ate. Among her family, it was her female relations who had the greatest influence: from her sister Mary, who distrusted and later imprisoned her, to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who posed a constant and dangerous threat to her crown for almost thirty years.”

This looks to be a wonderful look at the life of Elizabeth – from a slightly different perspective. When people look at the reign of Elizabeth they tend to focus on her relationship with Robert Dudley as well as the many potential suitors for her husband. This book looks at Elizabeth from the perspective of the influence that the women in her life had on her. There are some great reproductions of artwork included showing many of these women from her family as well as those she kept close and trusted.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this hardcover book from the author/publisher and received it a little over a week ago (thank you Tracy and Jonathan Cape Ltd). I know that some of you have made comments (Marie, lol) about me having a copy – but don’t feel too bad, I haven’t had the chance to read it yet – but it is up next on my list after I finish Cleopatra’s Daughter. I am very excited to read this because it will be my first non-fiction about Elizabeth.

If what I read is true and it isn’t going to be released in the US for another year, I would recommend using UK Book Depository to get the book – and they have free shipping!

You can check out Tracy Borman’s website for more information on Elizabeth’s Women as well as her previous book Henrietta Howard: King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick Fire Facts about Deborah

I put together a little list of quick facts about Deborah, the prophetess featured in The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy. There wasn't too much that I could find about her.

• She was a prophetess and Judge of the Old Testament
• She accompanied commander of the army, Barak, into battle
• Her story is told in the chapters 4 & 5 of the Book of Judges
• Chapter 5 – The Song of Deborah – is a poem
• She was married to Lappidoth
• She offered judgment to settle disputes while sitting under a Palm tree

Here is a link to the Book of Judges chapter 5 if you would like to read the poetic Song of Deborah.

Look for my review of The Triumph of Deborah and a short interview with the author to come this weekend!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Book Alert - Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Release Date: September 22, 2009

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

I just absolutely had to post about this book. I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy yet, but I have had the honor of hearing Libba read the first chapter. I got to meet her in May at a book event in Madison, CT for her earlier series, The Gemma Doyle trilogy. I couldn't stop laughing after the first few sentences.

"The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World. I’m sixteen now, so you can imagine that’s left me with quite a few days of major
Going Bovine is about a teenage boy, Cameron, who finds out he has the human version of Mad Cow. He goes on an amazing adventure with a dwarf, lawn gnome, and an angel to find a cure.

From what I have had the opportunity to hear, I think any teen or adult (male or female) can get a kick out of this. I know both my boyfriend and I are looking forward to reading it. I can't wait to get a copy!

You can read an excerpt of the first chapter of this book here. If you are not rolling on the floor laughing by the time you reach the end - then nothing will make you laugh!

Here is the book trailer for Going Bovine. You will get a real treat in Libba's personality!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday #13

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I really brought in a haul this week from so many different sources. I just cleaned off my shelves about a month ago, and now I need more space again - looks like I might need another bookcase - such a bad thing ;).

From the UK Book Depository - continuing my Plaidy collection
• The Heart of the Lion – Jean Plaidy
• The Prince of Darkness – Jean Plaidy

From Paperbackswap - continuing my Robin Maxwell collection
• Virgin: Prelude to the Throne – Robin Maxwell
• The Queen’s Bastard – Robin Maxwell
• The Nonesuch – Georgette Heyer
• Mademoiselle Boleyn – Robin Maxwell

From Authors/Publishers for Review
• Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger

From Blog Friends
• 1942 – Robert Conroy (from Sarah from Reading the Past)
• Troy: Fall of Kings (from Sarah from Reading the Past)
• The Golden Tulip – Rosaline Laker (received from Arleigh - to review)
• The Dark Lantern – Gerri Brightwell (received from Arleigh - to review)

That is my best week ever. How was your week - in mailbox terms?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Audiobook Review: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Book 1 in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Unabridged, 8 hr. 14 min.
Recorded Books
Lisette Lecat (Narrator)
April 7, 2003

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Genre: Mystery, Series, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed the Audiobook from Library
Working in a mystery tradition that will cause genre aficionados to think of such classic sleuths as Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner or Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee, Alexander McCall Smith creates an African detective, Precious Ramotswe, who's their full-fledged heir.

It's the detective as folk hero, solving crimes through an innate, self-possessed wisdom that, combined with an understanding of human nature, invariably penetrates into the heart of a puzzle. If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is the first in a series of 10 books focusing on the life of Precious Ramotswe and her fledgling detective agency in Botswana, Africa. When Mma Ramotswe’s father passes away and leaves her with a large sum of money she decides that she will open the first detective agency run by a woman in Botswana. As her clients begin to trickle in, and she has success at solving their problems, more and more people come to her for help. As well as solving mysteries Mma Ramotswe also interacts with the people who are in her life and they help her to grow as a person and to solve her cases.

One of the most interesting things about this book is that you learn so much about African culture and the beauty of the nature. Africa doesn’t usually end up in best selling fiction very often. I found myself engrossed in learning about the country of Botswana (I can name three cities, the capital, the border countries, major industry, and some basic history of the country). I also think this book is very much about the empowerment of women. Mma Ramotswe opens her own company in a male dominated world with a lot of pressure on her. She is able to solve mysteries others can’t, run her business, and still have a personal life at the same time.

I found myself very interested in all of the characters in the book. It took me awhile to remember all of their names – and how to pronounce them – but they were very well written, well rounded characters. While the early part of the story was a little slow going – I very much enjoyed the book. I found myself looking for the other audio books in the series at the library when I returned it (I think Tears of the Giraffe will be the next audio book I get, if it is there).

I would recommend this to anyone interested in some light mysteries (nothing like the James Patterson type mysteries, more local grown mysteries) as well as learning about the beautiful, rich, African culture.


As I was listening, I decided that it was a very good decision to choose this on audio book – I would have found myself too hung up on the pronunciation otherwise. The narrator is a native South African woman whose speech pattern lent itself perfectly to making the experience very real and almost palpable.

You can listen to a sample of the audiobook (links to Audible)

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If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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Also by Alexander McCall Smith:

Alexander McCall Smith has written many, many novels.  Among those in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series are:

tears of giraffe

Tears of the Giraffe (book 2)

Morality for beautiful girls

Morality for Beautiful Girls (book 3)

The Kalahari Typing School for Men

The Kalahari Typing School for Men (book 4)

The Full Cupboard of Life

The Full Cupboard of Life (book 5)

In the company of cheerful ladies

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (book 6)

blue shoes and happiness

Blue Shoes and Happiness (book 7)

the good husband of zebra drive

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (book 8)

the miracle at speedy drive

The Miracle at Speedy Motors (book 9)

Tea time for the traditionally built

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (book 10)

Find Alexander McCall Smith: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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