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.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!

Search This Blog

Friday, December 31, 2010

Queen Hereafter Giveaway Winner

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! In honor of the new year, a winner has been selected for the Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King.

And that winner is...

Allison Macias!

Congratulations!!! Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway. Stay tuned for more in January! Have a great New Year's celebration!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Strong Heroine Reading Challenge

My challenge goals this year were to take on some different “challenges” as well as still be able to compete in my favorite ones. This is one of those that will make me stretch my wings.

The Strong Heroine Reading Challenge is hosted by The Book Junkie. The challenge runs the length of 2011.

The goal of this challenge is to read AT LEAST 12 novels that have "Strong Heroine's" between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Audio, eBooks, paper all count. Re-reads are ok but try to keep them to a minimum. Cross overs from other challenges are ok.

I will update this challenge as I go:

1. Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham
2. Pale Rose of England by Sandra Worth
3. The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
4. India Black by Carol Carr
5. To Be Queen by Christy English
6. To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
7. Blood and Silk by Carol McKay
8. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
9. Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith
10. Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn
11. Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
12. Sovay by Celia Rees

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's in a Name 4 Challenge

This challenge is similar to some of the types of challenges that are part of the Four Month Challenge Series – except that I have all year to do this and not 4 months. I am looking forward to the creative ways to meet these challenges.

The What’s in a Name 4 Challenge is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. The challenge runs the length of 2011.

The goal of this challenge is to read one book in each of the following categories between January 1 and December 31, 2011:

1. A book with a number in the title - Complete - Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title -
3. A book with a size in the title - Complete - Little House in the Highlandsby Melissa Wiley
4. A book with travel or movement in the title - Complete - The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi
5. A book with evil in the title - Complete - Heart of Deception by M. L. Malcolm
6. A book with a life stage in the title - Complete - Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial and a Self-Made Woman by Chloe Schama

I will update this challenge as I go.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Historical Tour de Genre Reading Challenge

I think that this is going to be the toughest challenge for me to complete this year. It is within my genre, but I have to focus on the subgenres.

The Historical Tour de Genre Challenge is hosted by Bitsy Bling Books. The challenge runs the length of 2011.

The general goal of this challenge is to focus on the subgenres of historical fiction. Since this is a tour, the idea is to read at least one book from each sub-category. Of course, you'll be the envy of all if you read more and can do multiple 'laps' around the track. The following are the required categories (there are 6 of them):

Historical Mystery/Whodunnit/Gas-Lit Century/Victorian -
1.) India Black by Carol Carr - finished 2/7/11

Historical Horror -

Historical Romance or Regency -
1.) The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin - finished 7/13/11
2.) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons - finished 11/26/11

Historical Young Adult -
1.) The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi - finished 2/3/11
2.) Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse - finished 7/29/11

Historical Plantation -

Historical Thriller -
1.) The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner - finished 1/31/11

You can substitute up to two of these categories with any of the following (which I probably will do):

Historical GLBT -

Historical Fantasy -
1.) Queen of the Summer Stars by Persia Woolley - finished 7/11/11

Historical Western -

Historical Paranormal -

Historical True Crime -

I will update as I go.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 27, 2010

Elizabeth Chadwick Bundle Alert!

If you haven't had the chance to devour Elizabeth Chadwick's The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion or For the King's Favor this may be an awesome deal for you (if you are an e-book reader). In honor of their upcoming release of To Defy a King, Sourcebooks is releasing this awesome book bundle. So if you have been waiting to get these books, the wait is over! Check out the details below!


Get ready for Elizabeth Chadwick’s highly anticipated new release…

If you haven’t read Elizabeth Chadwick yet – here is your chance. With her new release, To Defy A King, quickly approaching, Sourcebooks has developed the ultimate eBook bundle.

Hailed by the Times of London as “an author who makes historical fiction come gloriously alive,” Elizabeth Chadwick is a gifted storyteller who captures the passion, deceit, honor, and heartbreak of Medieval England like none other.

Now, get three books from historical fiction powerhouse Elizabeth Chadwick at one low price. This bundle includes The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, and For the King’s Favor, each on their own a shining example of a novelist at the peak of her powers. Taken collectively, you’ll witness an era you won’t want to leave.

Elizabeth Chadwick Bundle: The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, and For the King’s Favor
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 13: 9781402261343
ISBN 10: 1402261349
DLP $35.99 U.S.
epub format (PDF also available)
3 books in one bundle; 1680 pages
November 2010

I have linked my reviews above to each of the books if you need some recommendations!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #58

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but it is now on a monthly tour. December's host is Let Them Read Books. Mailbox Monday can lead to serious conditions, such as book envy!

Well it is a very snowy day here in Massachusetts - and I haven't been home since Thursday - so I have no idea what the status of my actual mailbox is yet. I might have to trek out there sometime later this afternoon if/when the wind dies down! So here are the things that arrived before this Friday.

From a win of a contest at Arleigh's blog (historical-fiction.com) I won a copy of Polyxena by Herb Allenger. This is a story about the Ancient Greeks - which I am always looking for another read in this category. Here is the blurb:

Helen of Troy may have launched a thousand ships, but Polyxena stole Achilles’ heart – and was the final sacrifice in the Trojan War.

Now, Herb Allenger tells this heroine’s tale in Polyxena: A Story of Troy.

In a journey of savage battles, lost and found love, doubts and deaths, the reader becomes Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and Polyxena’s confessor.

Facing a death that her lover Achilles supposedly ordered from the grave, this youngest daughter of Priam, King of Troy, searches for meaning from her tumultuous life. The novel recounts Trojan War battles; Polyxena’s initial hatred that turned to love for Achilles, her captor; the bloody fight between the Amazons and the Greeks; and the love of Neoptolomus – Achilles’ son – that Polyxena scorned.

In this moving story of forbidden love, a young woman who is an integral part of the romantic legacy surrounding Troy comes to a surprising and satisfying conclusion about the life she has lived.

And from Sourcebooks for review in March I received I Am The Chosen King by Helen Hollick and To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick. I'm so excited to read both of these!

I will update this post if I make it back from my mailbox later!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Whisper Stories in My Ear Audiobook Challenge

Last year I participated in the Audiobook reading challenge hosted by Royal Reviews. That challenge is being hosted this year by another blogger but I decided I would try a different audio challenge. The draw of this one is that it requires I write a review of the audio which I have been trying to do more of for awhile.

The Whisper Stories in My Ear 2011 Audiobook Challenge is hosted by Bewitched Bookworms. The challenge runs the length of 2011.

The general goal of this challenge is to read at least 12 audiobooks in the course of the year (to be eligible for the grand prize!) and you have to post a review of the audiobook (it can be on your blog or Goodreads etc). When you post your review you have to say that you listened to the audiobook version of the book, who was the narrator, the length of time the audiobook ran and your separate rating/impression for the audiobook (how you liked the narration of the story beyond what you thought of the story itself).

For my audiobooks that are historical fiction – the reviews will be posted on my blog. For audiobooks that are not h-f they will be posted on my Goodreads account.

Here are the books that I read:

1. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
2. The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi
3. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
4. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
5. Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult
6. The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan
7. New York by Edward Rutherfurd
8. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
9. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
10. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
11. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
12. A Perfect Union by Gabrielle Allgor

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

This year I had the opportunity to take part in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap event. This event allows bloggers to send a bookish secret Santa present to another blogger and then receive one in return. It was really fun to go out and put together a few gifts for another blogger.

And in return I received:

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
An awesome quilted book jacket with built in bookmark
A couple of nice bookmarks
and some tasty peach tea blend.

Thank you to my secret Santa!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guest Post with Susan Fraser King

I would like to extend my warmest welcome to author Susan Fraser King today. King is the author of the newly released Queen Hereafter and has a previous release Lady Macbeth. She has dropped by today with a guest post about these two queens - what drew her to their story and how they were true opposites of each other. Please read on and enjoy the post!

Two Queens: Lady Macbeth and Margaret of Scotland 

Guest Post by Susan Fraser King, author of 
Queen Hereafter

A few years ago I read a little about the historical Macbeth and his queen, who ruled Scotland in the 11th century—and the idea of writing about this obscure young woman began to intrigue me. I knew little about her beyond Shakespeare, but key historical facts hinted at a story with real substance for fiction. A warrior king and queen, their 17-year reign was, according to Macbeth’s own contemporaries, peaceful and prosperous—this was unusual for 11th century Scotland. Lady Macbeth was likely very different from Shakespeare’s ambitious bloody harridan with more than a touch of crazy. The more I studied the era, the more I wanted to write about her.

Lady Macbeth had appeared as a secondary character in novels by Dorothy Dunnett and Nigel Tranter, and she stole the show in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. She deserved her own novel with an updated historical perspective providing an authentic portrait of this obscure 11th century queen. Gruadh, as she is called in the novel, was probably quite young when Macbeth, her second husband, took the throne. Raised in a Celtic warrior society, tradition, lineage and obligation would have mattered very much to her. As royalty with a better bloodline than most, she was probably a strong, independent, well-educated young woman familiar with war, with mysticism, superstition, even magic. The men around her were successful, dominant warlords, yet they were attacked, betrayed and even murdered; she must have understood revenge, too, for the Celtic Scots of the time were fiercely loyal, clever and often vengeful.

Her youth at the time that Macbeth killed King Duncan in battle and took the throne is rarely mentioned in historical accounts--yet she was probably a teenage bride and mother, and only in her early twenties when she became queen. As a product of a society that was more Dark Ages in its aspects than medieval, she was not likely to have been a submissive medieval queen, but a woman who had to survive in a tough environment. She may have embroidered and was probably devout at her prayers, but she would have understood the business end of a sword, too, and had some privilege of equality in her culture.

Her marriage to Macbeth may have begun in conflict – he may have killed her first husband -- yet their long-term relationship seems to have been one of loyalty and respect, and we can easily guess affection from that. Macbeth is now regarded as one of the better kings of early Scotland, and his queen may have shared the sense of loyalty and fairness that Macbeth apparently had as a ruler. Seeded in the research were clues that their relationship was supportive. For example, they were married for 25 years and ruled Scotland for 17 years, and never had a surviving child between them—yet Macbeth never set her aside, although it was not uncommon in childless royal marriages. In 1050 when Macbeth went on pilgrimage to Rome (a first for a Scottish king), it is reasonable to assume that he would never have left his country, which was situated between Vikings and Saxons, without a capable regent ruling in his place. Lady Macbeth must have been his trusted queen. The circumstantial evidence in the historical accounts was often compelling with regard to both their character and their relationship.

Lady Macbeth and Margaret of Scotland were both queens of Scotland, one after the other on the throne, yet they were virtually opposites. Their differences—and similiarities—caught my interest as both a historian and a novelist. Where Lady Macbeth was the last truly Celtic queen of Scotland, Margaret was essentially the first medieval queen there. A Saxon princess raised in Hungary and England, she married King Malcolm Canmore—the warrior-prince who had killed Macbeth to reclaim the throne for his royal line—and brought the wider world to Scotland.

Both women are fascinating, unique in their times, bred of very different cultures yet both living in a dynamic and changing Scotland. The 11th century was a turning point for Scotland and Britain, and these two queens were part of that transformation. The documentation is very scant for Lady Macbeth, so that I had to rely on what is known of the men and circumstances around her—yet for Margaret, a great deal of information has survived, including a rare biography written by her personal confessor. Margaret is one of the more complex medieval queens--cosmopolitan, educated, compassionate and beloved, she was almost fanatically devout and very hard on herself.

And Margaret’s story, preserved by her friend and priest, is remarkable, the stuff of a natural fairy tale romance—a beautiful princess forced to flee the Norman invaders with her family, she was shipwrecked on the coast of Scotland, and married King Malcolm, who promised to aid her brother’s cause against the Normans. Later this match of convenience became a marriage of true affection, producing eight healthy children. Her biographer hinted at Margaret’s real character, indicating an intelligent woman of great heart and temper who took her religion so seriously that she felt great obligation and compassion for others, yet damaged her own health with repeated fasting.

Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter explore the lives of two very different women, linked by their places in history and their shared love of Scotland and its people. Chronologically, Lady Macbeth’s story takes place before Margaret’s in Queen Hereafter, and the novels share a few characters, places and events. Yet they are quite different novels, reflecting their very different heroines, and can be read separately or as a pair. I hope that readers will love both stories!

Thank you Susan for that wonderful post! Reading Queen Hereafter has been a delight and I look forward to what you will bring us next!  You can visit Susan at her website for more information about her books.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King

Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King
Hardcover, 352 pages
Crown Publishers
December 7, 2010
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received ARC as part of TLC Book Tours for Review
"Margaret, a young Saxon princess, is shipwrecked with her family on the coast of Scotland and forced to accept sanctuary from the recently widowed warrior-king Malcolm Canmore of Scotland. Malcolm sees a political prize in Margaret, and promises to help her brother, the outlawed rebel Edgar of England, in return for his sister’s hand in marriage. 
When Malcolm brings a female bard, Eva, to court as a hostage to ensure good behavior of her kinswoman, his conniving enemy Lady Macbeth, Margaret, and Eva expect to resent one another. Instead, they discover an unlikely bond as outcasts of a sort–Eva a wild Celtic spirit captive among her enemies, Margaret suppressing her passions as she endures increasing pressure as a queen and a mother of princes. 
Torn between loyalties, Eva must betray the king and the new queen in order to honor her devotion to the former queen. Thrown into Malcolm’s dungeon, charged with witchcraft and treason, Eva soon learns that Queen Margaret–counseled by the furious king and his powerful priests–will decide the fate of the young bard and her mentor, the troublesome Lady Macbeth."
The story of Margaret of Scotland is told through the eyes of fictional female bard Eva. It can sometimes be a challenge to place a fictional main character into a world in which all other essential characters are historically based but Fraser King seamlessly moves Eva through the Scottish court life without ever hinting that she doesn’t truly belong there. You could really believe the struggles that Eva faced being torn between the court in the North and the true royal court of Scotland. Another strength of the author was the ease of explanation and integration of the “wild” Scottish court’s ways and the Scottish traditions.

The two women that Eva’s loyalties are torn between are Margaret and Gruadh (Lady Macbeth). These two women were absolute foils of each other. Margaret was very, very pious (almost to the point of the unbelievable) while Gruadh was more out for her people and loyalty to Scottish traditions. As a reader, you are able to respect what both of these women are trying to do without pitting one against the other.

This was a quick read that introduced me to a new court and a new country and historical setting. I think that this is a great companion novel to Helen Hollick’s The Forever Queen and the soon to be released I Am the Chosen King. Hollick’s books are set one generation prior to the events of Queen Hereafter. Events are referenced in Fraser King’s book that took place in Hollick’s book. It was great to already be set into the time and have a knowledge base from which to build off of. I can’t wait to read Lady Macbeth, also by Susan Fraser King, which is set during the events just prior to Queen Hereafter. I also can put some of my Shakespearean knowledge of my favorite play to use for something.

You can also read an excerpt of the book to get you in the mood.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia 

Also by Susan Fraser King:

lady macbeth
Lady Macbeth

Find Susan Fraser King: Website | Blog |

You can check out the rest of Susan Fraser King’s tour stops:

Monday, December 6th: Royal Reviews
Tuesday, December 7th: Passages to the Past
Wednesday, December 8th: Stiletto Storytime
Thursday, December 9th: Scandalous Women
Friday, December 10th: Historical Tapestry
Friday, December 10th: Rundpinne
Monday, December 13th: Books Like Breathing
Monday, December 13th: Life in Review
Tuesday, December 14th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, December 15th: Hist-Fic Chick
Thursday, December 16th: Luxury Reading
Friday, December 17th: Simply Stacie
Monday, December 20th: Feminist Review
Tuesday, December 21st: The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, December 22nd: Girls Gone Reading
Thursday, December 23rd: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord
Monday, December 27th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Tuesday, December 28th: The Tome Traveller
Wednesday, December 29th: Chaotic Compendiums

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

I have started going to the library more and more lately for my audiobook needs. I think the goal level of this challenge might be a stretch, but I am all for trying!

The 2011 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge is hosted by The Book Junkie’s Bookshelf this year.

The goals of this challenge are pretty simple, borrow books from the library. They can be e-books, audiobooks, paperback, rereads, whatever as long as it comes from the library.

--The Mini – Check out and read 30 library books.

--"Fun" Size – Check out and read 40 library books.

--Jumbo Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

--Mega Size – Check out and read 51+ library books.
(Aim high. As long as you read 30 by the end of 2011, you are a winner.)

Even though it says “aim high”, I think that 30 is still going to be aiming high for me. So I’m going to set my sights on The Mini.

I will update this post as I go:

1. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
2. The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi
3. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
4. Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
5. Swimsuit by James Patterson
6. Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
7. Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich
8. Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult
9. The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan
10. New York by Edward Rutherfurd
11. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
12. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
13. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
15. The Postcard Killers by James Patterson
16. Titanic: A Survivor's Story by Colonel Archibald Gracie
17. CoN: Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
18. 1906 by James Delassandro
19. A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware
20. A Perfect Union by Catherine Allgor
21. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
22. Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea Handler
23. Love Overboard by Janet Evanovich
24. Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
25. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #57

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but it is now on a monthly tour. December's host is Let Them Read Books. Mailbox Monday can lead to serious conditions, such as book envy!

I got a couple of ARC's this week as well as another two preview episodes for The American Experience series.

Earlier this year I raved about Heart of Lies by M. L. Malcolm. You can read the review here if you missed it. Her new book (and sequel) Heart of Deception arrives in April, but I received the ARC this past week from HarperCollins and I couldn't be more excited! Here is the blurb:

"Leo Hoffman is a man of many contradictions. He is a Hungarian national with a French passport, a wealthy businessman with no visible means of support, and a devoted father who hasn’t seen his daughter in years. He is also a spy.

Recruited by the Allies to help lay the groundwork for their invasion of North Africa, Leo intends to do as little spying as possible; he just wants to earn his American citizenship, get to New York, and find his daughter, Maddy. But while Leo dodges death in France and Morocco, Maddy learns the truth behind her father’s mysterious past, and as she matures, this haunting knowledge compels Maddy down her own dangerous path of deception and discovery.

Spanning the years from World War II to the turbulent 1960s, this sequel to Heart of Lies tells the riveting story of a family struggling with the choices that war forces them to make, and the consequences that take a generation to unfold."

In preparation for the February event at HFBRT, I received the ARC for Pale Rose of England by Sandra Worth from Penguin. Let me tell you this was a surprise when I opened up this one - each page is the size of a standar sheet of paper - so this one is HUGE! I am so excited and can't wait to read this one! Here is the blurb:

"Award-winning author Sandra Worth takes a fresh look at the mystery of Prince Richard of England, one of the two little princes who vanished in the Tower of London, and his famous love affair with Lady Catherine Gordon, princess of Scotland.

It is 1497. The news of the survival of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, has thundered across Europe, setting royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocking the fledgling Tudor dynasty. Stepping finally onto English soil, Catherine arrives at the island of Saint Michael’s Mount, along with her husband and young son Dickon, their second child already on the way. With the keen support of Scotland’s King James IV, Richard—known in England as Perkin Warbeck—has come to reclaim his rightful crown from Henry Tudor. Based on a prophecy given Catherine by a seer that she would be loved by a king, she has no doubt Richard will succeed in his quest. But rather than assuming the throne she believed was their destiny, Catherine would soon be prisoner of King Henry VII, and her beloved husband would, unimaginably, be stamped as an imposter.

Nothing could shake Catherine’s belief in Richard and her loyalty to the man she loved. She became a favored lady-in-waiting to the queen, Elizabeth of York, but her dazzling beauty only brought her unwanted affections from a jealous king and enmeshed her in a terrifying royal love triangle. With her husband facing execution for treason, Catherine, alone in the glittering but deadly Tudor Court, finds the courage to spurn a cruel monarch and shape her own destiny, winning the admiration of a nation."

I also received the next two preview episodes of The American Experience series from PBS. There are going to be three new episodes in January, the schedule is as follows:

Robert E. Lee - January 3rd (preview received last week and already watched)
Ulysses S. Grant: Warrior - January 10th (I believe this is a rebroadcast)
Dinosaur Wars - January 17th (preview received this week)
Panama Canal - January 24th (preview received this week)

So that is my mailbox. Did you get anything awesome this week?

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Suddenly Sunday - Meet the Courtiers

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Svea at Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog!

Happy Sunday everyone! Well we are in the home stretch coming into Christmas and let me tell you, I am ready. By the end of today all my gifts are bought and almost all wrapped, the house is decorated, and I'm ready for a few days off from work. I took tomorrow off, I have Christmas Eve off, then the following Monday, and New Year's Eve off. Awesome. And even better I am finally starting to get over this cold/sore throat that has had me down for the past week! How is your holiday planning coming along?

In blogging news much of the rest of December is going to be easy going. I have a couple of posts going up this week and then next week is going to be all about signing up for reading challenges for 2011. But don't worry, in January we will be off and running again. The first big event for 2011 around here will be a YA Historical Fiction week that will run from January 23rd through the 29th. There will be plenty of Guest Posts from some of my favorite YA authors and a giveaway or two. So stay tuned for that.

Also, I was made aware yesterday that I don't have a way for you guys to follow my blog via email - so I figured out how to add the feedburner email gadget - and it is live now so feel free to follow my blog that way. Thanks for the suggestion Terri C.

I thought a good way to sort of wrap up this year would be to take a survey of who is a part of The Maiden's Court. I want to get to know you guys better - so I made a simple survey below (that will be completely anonymous) to find out who follows this blog. Please take a minute to answer a few simple demographic type questions.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And the Winner of A Royal Likeness Is...

Out of the 104 (!) entries for the giveaway of A Royal Likeness, one winner was ultimately chosen. And that winner is...

Terri C!

Congratulations! I will be contacting you for your mailing address soon. For those of you who did not win this time, you can find giveaways for the book still going on here:

Historical-Fiction.com ends December 24th

Hist-Fic Chick ends December 31st

Thanks so much everyone. Don't forget to check out my other giveaway running for Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giveaway - Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King

Hello everyone - I wanted to take a few minutes today to announce an awesome giveaway. I have one hardcover copy of Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King up for grabs for those of you in the US and Canada. This giveaway will be open until December 30th and the winner will be announced the following day. To enter, simply fill out the form below. There are extra entries depending on your follower status as well as tweeting, blogging (or sidebar), facebook, etc (just get the word out). Best of luck to everyone!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movie Review - Agora

Agora (2009)

Production: Mod Producciones

Agora, starring Rachel Weisz as the main character Hypatia, is a movie about many things. It is a sweeping tale of the battle between pagans and Christians in 4th Century Alexandria; it is a story of the evolution of certain scientific findings and beliefs; it is the story of Hypatia, a female mathematician, astronomer and atheist. You get all of the above and more in this complex 127 minute film.

The overarching theme behind this movie is the religious upheaval in Alexandria – at different times there were battles between Christians and Pagans and then later it was the Christians and Jews. Interwoven through this setting is Hypatia. Here is where Rachel Weisz certainly stole the show. She is a scientist and teacher during this chaotic and uncertain time – and she is atheistic. All of these characteristics ultimately lead to her downfall once the new regime takes over the city – despite the attempts of her former pupils to save her. Also intertwined in these religious changes is an ex slave, who is in love with Hypatia. All of these story strings came together nicely, although I was left a little confused by the ending and did have to look up what it meant.

The first surprise for me was that even though this film is a Spanish made film – it is in English! I was expecting to have to focus on subtitles and kept putting off watching this one for awhile because of it. This revelation allowed me to spend more time looking at the beautiful world that was created on the screen, rather than having to read words. And what a world it was that was presented to us. I could really picture being in 4th Century Egypt. The costuming was also very appealing and well done.

The biggest drawback for me did have to do with words on the screen – despite there not being subtitles. Periodically there would be a screen full of words to try and set the setting or explain what was happening – that in and of itself wasn’t the issue – it was the colors that they chose. The words were in white and were usually displayed over a tan desert scene – it made it very difficult to read and I did lose some of the context because of this.

I would recommend this movie to any of my historical fiction fans! It really was a surprising movie with a lot of depth of story and exploration of the events of the time.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Water for Elephants Trailer!

Good Evening everyone! I am so excited that I just had to share this with you all. You may know that Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen is my all time favorite novel. And it is being released to theatres on April 15th starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christopher Waltz. And today the movie trailer was released (all that said in one long breath). So here it is - absolutely gorgeous!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton

Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton
Hardcover, 256 pages
March 9, 2010
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Author for Review

In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed to California in eager anticipation of new lives out West. Everything that could go wrong did, and an American legend was born.

The Donner Party. We think we know their story--starving pioneers trapped in the mountains performing an unspeakable act to survive--but we know only that one harrowing part of it. Impatient with Desire brings us answers to the unanswerable question: What really happened in the four months the Donners were trapped in the Sierra Nevadas And it brings to stunning life a woman--and a love story--behind the myth.

Tamsen Eustis Donner, born in 1801, taught school, wrote poetry, painted, botanized, and was fluent in French. At twenty-three, she sailed alone from Massachusetts to North Carolina when respectable women didn't travel alone. Years after losing her first husband, Tully, she married again for love, this time to George Donner, a prosperous farmer, and in 1846, they set out for California with their five youngest children. Unlike many women who embarked reluctantly on the California-Oregon Trail, Tamsen was eager to go. Later, trapped in the mountains by early snows, she had plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of her decision and the cost of her wanderlust.

Historians have long known that Tamsen kept a journal, though it was never found. In Impatient with Desire, Burton draws on years of historical research to vividly imagine this lost journal--and paints a picture of a remarkable heroine in an extraordinary situation. Tamsen's unforgettable journey takes us from the cornfields of Illinois to the dusty Oregon Trail to the freezing Sierra Nevada Mountains, where she was forced to confront an impossible choice.

Impatient with Desire is a passionate, heart-wrenching story of courage, hope, and love in hardship, all told at a breathless pace. Intimate in tone and epic in scope, Impatient with Desire is absolutely hypnotic.

Gabrielle Burton’s writing evokes the true passion behind the movement westward as well as the disappointment and utter feeling of loss of being trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for 4 months. We are allowed to look at the world from the perspective of Tamsen Donner through a fictional journal that she writes. Tamsen was known to have kept a journal, which has never been found, so this sets the book in a realistic setting. Not only do you learn about what the 87 travelers endured while being trapped in the snow, but you experience the excitement of the planned trip as well as the trail experiences themselves.

This journal reads very quickly and you really felt like you were right there with Tamsen as she wrote her journal entries and created her letters to her sister. This story seriously puts a face to the legendary American tale that everyone learns. It certainly connects the reader to the real people who suffered through this tough time.

Gabrielle Burton is also the author of a non-fiction book about Tamsen Donner called Searching for Tamsen Donner. This book chronicles the authors trek with her family to physically follow the trail that the Donner’s took. You can read an excerpt of Impatient with Desire here.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Gabrielle Burton

searching for tamsen donner
Searching for Tamsen Donner

Find Gabrielle Burton: Website

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Donner Party - Snowbound

Many people know at least something about The Donner Party. I’m sure if I took a survey of the general public I would hear, “ate their dead” and “cannibalism” more than a few times. I’m also pretty sure that those who respond this way probably don’t know any more than that. On the heels of the above statements, I must admit that I fell into that category until about 2 months ago. I knew that they were traveling west, got stuck in the snow, and some were forced to rely on human flesh for food at the end when there was nothing else – but beyond that I was at a loss. If you are looking for a relatively quick read about what happened to the Donners try picking up the diary style novel, Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton (my review will post tomorrow).
The 87 members of the Donner Party were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains from November 1846 to March 1847. After deciding to take a new shortcut, known as Hastings Cuttoff, the members of the Donner Party hit one obstacle after another that caused them to get to the mountains later than they expected, walking right into a snow storm. The Donner camp was approximately 5 miles from the camp of the other travelers near Truckee Lake. This was because an axel on the Donner wagon broken and George Donner was injured.
Throughout the 4 months there were as many rescue attempts. Various members of the Donner Party attempted to make it out of the mountains on foot on their own. A group created snowshoes and attempted the trek – of the 17 that left, only 7 made it to rescue. The first organized rescue was in February. 7 rescuers arrived and were able to take 23 people back with them. Several ended up turning back and several died from the cold and hunger. The second rescue arrived March 1st. These rescuers were led by two of the menfolk who had made it out of the mountains. This rescue took 17, almost all children. After this rescue there were 5 people left at the lake camps and 5 at the Donner camps. The third relief arrived on March 14th. The Donner children left during this rescue attempt but Tamsen Donner went back to stay with her dying husband, George. Out of the 87 who were stuck in the mountains, 48 made it out. The story of the Donner Party is one of being brave and trying to beat the odds in the face of adversity. It is true, some of them did resort to eating the dead, but it was a very small number and a last ditch effort.

There are some great references available on the web to learn more about the ill fated Donner Party. The PBS series, American Experience, has an episode on them. I have included a trailer below and you can watch the entire episode online if you are interested. They also provide an interactive map of the party’s trail with useful information. UC Berkley has provided the pages of Patrick Breen’s (a member of the party) diary online that you can view and read first hand what life was like.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Review: A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent
ARC, Paperback, 472 pages
Kensington Press
December 28, 2010
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the author for the December HFBRT event
“As heiress to the famous Laurent Fashion Dolls business, Marguerite Ashby’s future seems secure. But France still seethes with violence in the wake of the Revolution. And when Marguerite’s husband is killed during a riot, the young widow travels to Edinburgh and becomes apprentice to her old friend, Marie Tussaud, who has established a wax exhibition. When Prime Minister William Pitt commissions a wax figure of Admiral Nelson, Marguerite becomes immersed in a dangerous adventure—and earns the admiration of two very different men. And as Britain battles to overthrow Napoleon, Marguerite will find her loyalties under
fire from all sides”.
Christine Trent’s second novel blows her first one away – and that is quite a feat as The Queen’s Dollmaker was phenomenal. Right from the very first chapters the events that unfold suck you right in to the story and immediately embed these characters in your mind. By the time you hit roughly page 200 you will not be able to put the book down – and if you have to, you will run right back to it ASAP.

The main character, Marguerite Ashby, was a young woman when we last left her in The Queen’s Dollmaker. Throughout A Royal Likeness we see her grow up right before our eyes. She becomes the apprentice to the renowned Madame Tussaud. I really loved Madame Tussaud because she was a very industrious businesswoman and she was so enjoyable to read about.

I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed the Battle of Trafalgar scenes in this novel. I am not one who usually enjoys battle or war scenes – but this was very well done. There was the right amount of the description of the battle topside as well as the action below deck. This was where I became enamored with this story and could absolutely not put it down – I sacrificed sleep to stay up and finish the last 100 pages.

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is not absolutely necessary to have read The Queen’s Dollmaker first – you will still have a very enjoyable story – but I would recommend it because they are both amazing.

You can read an excerpt of the book here.

Christine Trent is currently working on her third novel, tentatively titled The Prince’s Pavilion expected sometime in 2012.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers: 

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Christine Trent

the queen's dollmaker
The Queen’s Dollmaker
[My Review]

By the King’s Design
[My Review]

Lady of Ashes (Lady of Ashes #1)
[My Review]

stolen remains
Stolen Remains (Lady of Ashes #2)

a virtuous death
A Virtuous Death (Lady of Ashes #3)

mourning bells
The Mourning Bells (Lady of Ashes #4)

death at the abbey
Death at the Abbey (Lady of Ashes #5)

a grave celebration
A Grave Celebration (Lady of Ashes #6)

Find Christine Trent: Website | Facebook

Also today as part the HFBRT event:
Guest post by Christine Trent at Historically Obsessed

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court