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Monday, May 31, 2010

America: The Story of Us Part 5

I caught this episode on rerun leading up to the finale episode tonight, May 31, 2010 at 9 PM EST. The episode focus was the “Bust” of the Great Depression and “WWII”.

To be honest, right up front, I didn’t pay all that much attention to the WWII episode. I just have not been that captivated and this episode didn’t do too much for me. I will go into that a little more, further on in the post.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the “Bust” episode a little bit more. They didn’t really talk about the actual stockmarket crash too much. They focused more on the subsequent bank crisis – which may have had more of an impact on the population than the actual crash itself.

From the bust, came projects to try and improve the state of the economy – one of the largest being the Hoover Dam. Now, I don’t really know a lot about the Hoover Dam, but I thought it was done pretty well. I didn’t know that:

• Carbon monoxide poisoning killed many during the construction. Trucks were left running in the tunnels where they were working and people were constantly getting sick.
• The drying of the cement created a lot of heat and would have taken a very long time to fully harden and dry. So, they laid piped within the cement and let water from the Colorado River run through the cement to cool it and harden it faster.

Another great undertaking was Mount Rushmore – designed to attract tourism (I think this has turned out quite well!) I didn’t realize that it was designed to look better as the stone weathered. I think they said that the optimal shape would be 30,000 years from the year it was made (I think!) Either way that was pretty cool. They also covered the Dust Bowl – which was devastating for much of the country. I am planning on doing a post on this at a later date.

Now just for a quick summary of the WWII episode:

• Pearl Harbor
• Impact of the women on the American war economy (first time they really focused on women in this show)
• Manhattan Project and dropping the A-Bomb on Hiroshima & Nagasaki

I know I’m not doing it justice – but I have no idea how accurate this part was. Please voice your opinion. I do have to say that I was slightly disappointed because I’m pretty sure WWI was not mentioned. I would think if you are going to talk about WWII, you might want to mention that there was a first one! I was pleased to see that they did focus on the importance of women during the war effort because they failed to mention anything about women’s suffrage in the previous episode.

Stay tuned for the wrap up post later this week.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #37

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page.

I only have 1 book that actually came in my mailbox this week. But that's ok because I got a bunch this past week at BEA and BBC. You can check out my adventure and what I received here.

I have been anxiously awaiting this one to show up on PaperBackSwap for awhile now. I hadn't been able to find it in my bookstores and didn't want to really go out of my way and order it. It was the last book that I needed to complete all of the books by the author too! And finally PBS came through!

To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Suddenly Sunday – BEA, BBC, OMG!

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

I haven’t done a lot of actual blogging this week, but I have been partaking in blog related things all week and I am just now feeling recuperated enough to start sharing it all with you. As many of you know, I went to NYC this week for BEA. I navigated my way by car, train and finally foot to reach the Javits Center on Thursday – and was totally unprepared for what I found! I checked in and picked up my name tag – it was so exciting to see my blog name and “press” beneath it. Then we set off.
The place was HUGE and I was so visually over stimulated that I didn’t know where to start. My boyfriend, Nick (from Lions and Men), and I walked in circles around the place just to try to figure out the lay of the land and where the different publishers were that we had pre-planned to stop at. We met up with Allie (from Hist-Fic Chick) around 1:30ish and from there set off on a great adventure. Each booth handled themselves differently: some just threw books at you indiscriminately, others hoarded them in cabinets and you had to be very direct to get a copy of anything. Allie and I found that if we went and talked to someone together, we usually got a more favorable response than we had previously on our own.
It was a little difficult to find historical fiction books. As I said previously, the layout of the floor was by publisher. So you had to figure out which publishers carried our type of books and then find them. Another difficulty was that many of them hadn’t really brought their hist-fic with them, Sourcebooks being one. But, I did talk to many of the publisher reps and was given people to get in contact with for review copies if they didn’t have any with them.
I was also able to hit up 2 author signings, both happened to be at Random House. Allie had wanted to go to Jennifer Donnelly, with her new book, Revolution, which started at 1:30. Nick and I got in line, because it started forming early, to hold places. I got a book signed for myself and Nick got Allie’s signed for her – as traffic near the Javits was pretty bad and Allie got there a little late. Then later Allie and I stood in a MASSIVE line that wrapped around on itself several times, for Sara Gruen’s new book Ape House. Allie and I also got our pictures taken with Nigel Barker from Project Runway (I don’t have the picture yet) and I got a picture of Tony Hawk.
A few of the books that I picked up at BEA:

Cleopatra: A Biography by Stacy Schiff (Thanks to Little, Brown and Company at Hachette) Release date: November 1, 2010.

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent (Also thanks to Little, Brown and Company at Hachette) Release date: November 8, 2010.

Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl (Thanks to Chronicle Books) Release date: August 18, 2010.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (Thanks to Random House) Release date: October 12, 2010.

Ape House by Sara Gruen (Thanks to Random House) Release date: September 7, 2010.

After we got our fill of books on the BEA floor (and our feet were killing us) we went down to the Author’s Reception for the Book Blogger Convention. There were so many authors and bloggers there. I did have a couple of those great moments where other bloggers came up and said “I love you blog!”. That really felt so awesome! I had the opportunity to meet Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille and our April HFBRT event, as well as Susan Holloway Scott, author of many books including the upcoming Countess and the King and our September HFBRT event. I also met Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens (I also found an awesome set of playing cards based on this book and will definitely be checking them out).
Friday was all about bloggers and blogging at Book Blogger Convention. There were sessions all day about “Creating Content”, “Author/Blogger Relations”, “Ethics” etc. Many of these were very informative and I will have a post upcoming this week about the things that I learned during this trip. It was so good to have bloggers and industry people in the same room. We were able to learn from each other what some of the frustrations are and how we can work better together. I think this was such an important event for book bloggers. It was also awesome to be together with a group of people who are doing the same thing that I do. Normally blogging is such an individual endeavor – but this experience was AWESOME! We also got a huge bag of swag on the way out. There were two great historical type books included:

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart (a memoir, thanks to Harper Collins). I am so excited to read this one!

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson (thanks to Harper Collins) Release date: June 1, 2010

Right after the Convention ended, Nick and I had to run right out to catch the train back home, so we didn’t have the opportunity to hang out with people after the event. But I met so many great bloggers and made some valuable connections. It is definitely a worthwhile event to attend!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mailbox Wednesday...What?

So I missed Mailbox Monday (hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page) this week. I was concentrating on my guest post and giveaway instead. But I had a great mailbox this week and wanted to share it with you all.

From SwapTree I received The Sisters of Henry VIII by Maria Perry. I really don't know all that much about Henry's sisters, so I thought this might be informative. Has anyone read this one?
From Sourcebooks for review I received:
  • For the Kings Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick
  • Great Maria by Cecelia Holland
I am super excited for both of these reads, but they are not due until August/September, so I have some time.

I received 2 beautiful final copies this week of Roundtable books:
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner
  • Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
I also received an ARC from NAL for the September Roundtable Event:
  • The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott
I loved The Royal Harlot and cannot wait to dig into Scott's newest novel. Lots of good reading ahead.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
Paperback, 320 pages
Other Press
May 18, 2010
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review
“Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life”
This book was like no other book I have ever read. First of all is the subject matter. Other books that I have read have mentioned in passing the Spanish Inquisition that was led by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. I knew that it was about ridding those who were not Christians from their country – but that was about the extent of what I knew. I also have always seen these stories from the viewpoint of a member of royalty. This novel took a very different look at this event. The story is told mostly from the viewpoints of Judith Migdal, a Jewish woman whose life is being affected by the Inquisition, and Luis de Santángel, a converso who is the chancellor for King Ferdinand. This story is told from the viewpoints of those who are being directly affected by the Inquisition, versus everything I have read where the story has been told by those leading the Inquisition. It is definitely a very different look at the world. I think by seeing this event from both sides now, I have a much better understanding of just how awful it was. I really loved how this was regular people struggling to make it in the world. I also very interesting to see both the Christian and Jewish perspective on the Inquisition. Very well researched!

One character that really surprised me, and I enjoyed these interludes featuring him, was Cristobal Colon – or Christopher Columbus! I had never really thought of how he might fit into the world, except in the context of his voyage – it definitely added another level to this book. I also liked the interesting explanation of Mad Juana.

I would have originally given this book 3 ½ stars – up until the middle of the book. It was a little slow at the beginning – but it really took off after that and I connected with the characters. Be prepared with a tissue for the ending!

You can read a guest post by the author about his research methods or visit his website for additional information about the book. I also have giveaway for 2 copies of the book on the guest post page.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Find Mitchell James Kaplan: Website | Facebook



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guest Post by Mitchell James Kaplan

Please join me in welcoming author Mitchell James Kaplan to The Maiden's Court. Kaplan is the author of the book By Fire, By Water set during the Inquisition in Spain.

Researching and Writing

Guest Post by Mitchell James Kaplan, author of
By Fire, By Water

“How did you do the research?” I’m amazed how many people ask this question, as if research were the hard part. For me, research is enjoyable, even exciting. You don’t have to think too much. You just explore.

I suppose every writer has a different way of doing research. My method is no method at all: I try to read everything and go everywhere that’s relevant: libraries, museums, foreign cities.

My research falls into two phases: the initial phase, which precedes writing; and the fact-checking phase, during and after the writing. The initial phase is all about feeding the imagination. You collect details. You look at paintings, statues, buildings. You observe the clothes people wear, their bearing, how they interact. A peasant in a painting by Breughel walks with a stoop, grasping a twisted walking-stick. A woman in a Vermeer holds herself with dignity. You read the works of authors from the time and place in which your novel will be set. You notice the authors’ tone. Cervantes’ voice is tinged with self-mockery and amusement. What does this say about his society? Caesar’s voice is practical, authoritative, devoid of self-doubt. Chaucer’s is full of wonderment. Milton’s is serious, probing, and powerful.

A great deal of the research, of course, comes from just living. For example, when I lived in Paris many years ago, I knew a woman who occupied a place near the pinnacle of French society (which is quite stratified, as compared to American society). I found this woman fascinating: her blend of ruthlessness and noblesse oblige; her uncanny ability to remove her Mask Of Warmth and replace it with a Mask of Ice – both of which were utterly convincing – so gracefully and effortlessly one hardly noticed the transition.
Years later, as I toiled on my first draft of “By Fire, By Water” and Queen Isabella materialized in my imagination, I realized she resembled this woman.

Even when you’re not actively thinking about them, the details you absorb arrange themselves in your mind, forming a world. Little by little, your imagination takes up residence in that world. Holding a candle in the face of vast darkness, your explore its back alleys, the sounds of cartwheels creaking and clattering down its streets, the odors of rotting vegetables and fresh pheasant in its open-air marketplaces.

Research, of course, is not an end in itself; it is the means to an end. The purpose of reading books and traveling to faraway lands and museums is to find the key to the world of your novel. After you enter, the key is no longer important. What is important is to look around, to observe, to note what you see.

My sense is that the story, in all its detail, exists somewhere even before the author discovers it. The author’s job is to go to that place and document everything. At night, when I go to sleep, I try to place myself in the world I’m researching. All the research is of no value unless I can see and taste and smell that world. During the entire time I’m writing a novel, I want to live in that world even more than this world. The world of the novel is real, in the same sense that numbers are real.

Again, just before writing a scene, I’ll close my eyes and place myself in that particular corner of that world. After that, the writing just happens. Sometimes, I’m thrilled with the result but find it doesn’t fit with the rest of the book. Sometimes a scene or sequence of scenes has to be adjusted or even discarded.

When I’m writing, I often leave blanks. What kind of bread did they eat? How much did it cost? How did they light that taper? My initial research didn’t provide all the detailed facts I needed, but I don’t want to interrupt the flow. I’ll fill in the blanks later.

As a historical novelist, you’re juggling three balls: psychological truth, dramatic form, and historical accuracy. Often, I’ll find I missed an important inflection in the arc of a character’s growth, or that a scene is out of place.

I’m not one of those writers who just sit down, write a book, and send it to their editors. I’m constantly going back and verifying that my story is valid – psychologically, dramatically, and historically – filling in gaps, rearranging the pieces. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never get it right. It’s a messy, often rewarding but occasionally infuriating business – just like life.

Thanks for that wonderfully informative post! You can visit Mitchell Kaplan's website for more information about his book.

Now for the giveaway...

I have two copies of By Fire, By Water, courtesy of Other Press, to offer up for giveaway. This giveaway is open to US/Canada only and will end June 6th. The only requirement is to be a follower of this blog. You can gain an additional entry for tweeting or blogging about this giveaway. Please leave your email as well.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Initial Reactions - America The Story of Us Part 4

Part Four of America: The Story of Us focused on the late 1800’s and early 1900’s centered on the birth of the American city. The cities that featured prominently were New York City, Pittsburgh and Chicago. They showed how these cities developed quickly and some of the developments that came from cities – as well as the downfalls of cities.

• Unsafe working conditions, culminating in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire leading to workplace reform
• The rise of gangsters from prohibition and their hold over the immigrant population
• Mass production of steel and the massive steel factories (Pittsburgh) – easier access to steel leads to mass production of automobiles and high rises

I particularly enjoyed the above segments. I had to do some projects on the Triangle Fire and had a class on organized crime so these were particularly interesting to me. I also think that they did a very good job of recreating the Fire and I found it all the more poignant seeing it on film rather than just reading about it.

This episode really featured the boom period in American history. All of the great developments in the country and all of the landmarks that are still standing today that represent this country (the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign). This is a great lead in for the new episode (that is airing as I type this) which is all about the Great Depression – a great juxtaposition.

A couple of interesting tidbits from this episode:
• Al Capone made about $100/minute from the sale of illegal alcohol and gambling
• It took 25 years for the Statue of Liberty to oxidize and turn the green it is today
• The Hollywood sign was originally Hollywoodland and was an advertisement for a housing development
• An actress committed suicide by jumping off of the H of the Hollywood sign – on my birthday (not the same year, many years before I was born)

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Suddenly Sunday - This Week Was Lacking

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog.

Good morning everyone! Hope you are enjoying your weekend (or long weekend to those in Canada!) I've decided I'm not getting out of bed anytime soon. I didn't get too much reading done this week because I've been so exhausted after working overtime and had a bunch of little things go wrong all week that I have had to deal with...and yesterday just capped it off.

My boyfriend (Nick) and I were going out to lunch and to the bank to pay off my car loan yesterday morning. So we took his car and had only been gone about 10 minutes when we had to stop for a line of cars waiting for someone to turn into a shopping plaza. So we stopped, but the car behind us didn't and plowed into the back of Nick's car doing about 50! Everyone's ok - my body is a little stiff and Nick has some scratches and a bruise from the seat belt, but the damage is to the car. The entire back end of the car is just mangled and mashed or on the ground. And of course, the other girl's car has basically no damage and at the end she was able to drive home - while we had to be towed. The cops took FOREVER to get there - we were there for almost 2 hours by the end of this whole thing. So now we have 1 car and are going to have to figure this whole thing out, everything is just getting more and more difficult lately. I am so grateful that everyone is ok, and I am so proud of Nick for the way he handled everything yesterday (because neither of us had really been in that situation before we were kind of just winging everything, since it took the cops so long to get there).

So in terms of reading, it has been slow. I finished By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan last weekend, read a little bit more of Dancing for Degas by Kathryn Wagner, and am about 60 pages into For the King by Catherine Delors. Hopefully I will get some reading done today.

This week I posted my review of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo as well as an incomplete listing of Jane Austen spin-offs. As I have time I will update that list with the suggestions that many of you left for additional books. I also posted an interview with Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi's Virgins and the new release A Golden Web.

This week I'm working on getting ready for BEA and Book BloggerCon. Nick and I will be taking the train to NYC on Thursday morning. We'll check out BEA, meet up with Allie from Hist-Fic-Chick, and go to the BloggerCon reception. On Friday we will go to the BloggerCon and then take the train back home that night. I'm very excited. I won't be taking the laptop so I won't be around those 2 days, but I will do some wrap ups next Saturday and Sunday.

Happy reading everyone!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interview with Barbara Quick

Today I have the great honor to welcome Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi’s Virgins and A Golden Web, to The Maiden’s Court!

Your book, Vivaldi’s Virgins, published in 2008, focuses on a fictionalized account of Anna Maria dal Violin and the great composer, Vivaldi. What was it that inspired you to write this story? Do you have a talent for music?

Vivaldi's Virgins started brewing inside me 18 years before I knew anything about Vivaldi being a priest who taught in an all-girls foundling home in Venice. I was passing through Venice on my way back from Switzerland to Hungary (long story!). A total stranger, kind of a street person, came up to me and told me to go to the Jewish Ghetto. Well, I went--and I had an extraordinary deja vu experience there.

My sensation of familiarity with Venice--and, later, with Italian, when I started learning it--came with an odd sense of relief. People have always thought I was Italian. And I've always told them, no, I'm Russian-Romanian-Jewish. But suddenly now, I saw that both things might be true. After all, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump across the Adriatic from Venice to Romania!

So my inspiration for writing the novel was intellectual, on the one hand. But, on the other, it was deeply and mysteriously personal.

My novel turned out to be the first of four that ended up coming out on the same subject, here and in Italy. I'm just glad mine was first!

As far as musical talent goes, I think I may have some natural ability--and I certainly have a great deal of feeling for music. But, like so many other kids, I didn't practice the piano when I had the chance to take lessons. I always memorized the music, because I was too lazy to read it.

I wish my parents had given me violin or cello lessons. (I'm studying the viola now--but it's kind of late!) I always loved to sing, and learned to play the guitar well enough to accompany myself. And my teenage son--who is a really good guitarist--sometimes asks me to play the bass for him.

I can barely read music. But my lack of training doesn't stop me from feeling like I could have been a musician, if I'd started young and stuck with it.

The only instrument I really play is the fountain pen!

Your newest book, A Golden Web, released April 6, 2010, is aimed at a teenage audience. Do you think that this book has a wider appeal to an adult audience as well?

I love A Golden Web--and I wrote it in exactly the same way that I wrote Vivaldi's Virgins. Both Anna Maria dal Violin and Alessandra Giliani grabbed me by the neck and didn't let go until I'd finished telling their stories.

Vivaldi's Virgins became a cross-over book, appealing to young readers as well as adults. And I hope A Golden Web will cross over in the other direction: that adult readers will find it to be satisfying and involving. Stories that are inspiring and empowering appeal to readers of all ages, I think.

I know that you just released your newest book, but do you have anything in the works for your next project?

I'm about a fifth of the way through a new novel. I've written the first two of what I hope will be a collection of linked short stories. And I've started writing an original screenplay as a vehicle for George Clooney and Alec Baldwin (although they don't know it yet!).

Both of these books are set in Italy. Is there a specific draw that Italy has for you and your writing?

I've always been attracted to Italy--the culture, the language, the food, the landscape, the literature, the music. Latin cultures, with their over-the-top expressiveness and passion, appeal to me much more than some of the world's cooler cultures. It's a matter of temperament, I think.

That said, I don't want to pigeon-hole myself as an historical novelist or as an American novelist who writes books set in Italy. I want to keep growing as a writer. I don't want to limit myself, either in terms of genre or geography.

I noticed that Vivaldi’s Virgins has been optioned for a film. Can you tell us anything about that process?

I wish that were true! There was interest when the novel first came out. But there have been two other Vivaldi films in the works for a few years now. And even though my book is about Anna Maria rather than Vivaldi, per se, Hollywood isn't usually so subtle in its distinctions. Until those two films either come out or fizzle out, there isn't much chance of Vivaldi's Virgins being optioned for a film--which is too bad, because I think it would make a terrific film, if done the right way.

Northern Edge, my first novel, has been optioned for a film. But the whole process moves like the rocks move, in geological time--so slowly that it seems like absolutely nothing is happening. Someone is working on a script. That's all I know about it, apart from the fact that they keep wanting to renew their option, year after year. (Yawn!)

A Golden Web would be a lovely film, I think. Dakota Fanning could play Alessandra Giliani. What do you think, Heather?

I think that Dakota Fanning would be wonderful! She is such a versatile actress and I think she would bring Alessandra to life!

When you are not busy writing, what are some things that you like to do?

I've just recently moved to the Wine Country of Northern California, to live with my fiance, Wayne Roden, who is a violist with the San Francisco Symphony. I'm immersed in the world of music, because of all Wayne's practicing, teaching, and performing. I spend a lot of time outdoors, when the weather is nice, planting flowers and vegetables and helping Wayne tend his vineyard. I love gardening and landscape design. We both like to go hiking. We both love cooking and traveling and reading and eating.

When I lived in Berkeley, I took dance classes--mostly Brazilian dance--several times a week. And I occasionally performed.

When you move to a new place, it takes a lot of time and energy to figure out how to be who you are without the routines that have always defined you. It's good, though: it shakes you up and makes you think about things in new ways.

I can absolutely agree with your last statement about moving. I am in the midst of moving out of my parent’s house and in with my boyfriend, in another state. It definitely takes a lot of energy to redefine yourself.

Thank you so much Barbara for this WONDERFUL interview! I can’t wait to read these books!

Born in Los Angeles, Barbara Quick is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she majored in English and French and won a poetry prize. After living for the better part of a year in a cottage in rural County Cork, Ireland, Barbara settled in Berkeley, where she continued to write poetry and free-lanced as a gardener, seamstress, typist, and caterer. A part-time job at the University of California became the entryway for full-time training there as an editor. During those four years at UC, Barbara worked on writing and rewriting what was to become her first novel, Northern Edge.

You can visit Barbara's website for more information about her books.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Review: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
Book 2 in the Adventures with Jane Austen and Her Legacy series
Paperback, 272 pages
Guideposts Books
February 1, 2010
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Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Source: Received for review from publicist
“Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister’s behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She's been dating Neil, a nice, if a bit negligent, sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy, leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated authors own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil's unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire's journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn’t logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places” .
Honestly, I have to admit up front, I am not a huge Jane Austen fan. I haven’t read any of her books and haven’t really felt a desire to. After I accepted this book, I wasn’t really sure I would enjoy it – my only exposure to Austen’s work was the Kiera Knightly Pride & Prejudice film. I am happy to admit that I really enjoyed this book and found myself interested in reading the actual Pride & Prejudice book.

One of the interesting aspects of this story was the premise that Claire finds a first draft of P & P that was nothing like what the published version was. Now of course I don’t know what the real writing was like, but I felt like Pattillo did a great job of creating her own version of what the first draft might have been like. The story was definitely different than the final version.

My only problem with the story was that I didn’t feel anything for the 2 men that Claire is forced to choose between. I really liked Claire and her felt for her, but the author didn’t seem to develop the male characters enough for me to really feel the struggle.

Interestingly I found some connections between this book and another book I read last year, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. The story was set in an academic setting with the main character searching for a book that had been passed down and hidden from someone who wants it. But I think Physick Book carried it off better.

This was a quick and enjoyable read. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the original work so that I could compare the “first draft” to the real book, but still very enjoyable. I am thinking of picking up Jane Austen Ruined My Life by the same author.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Beth Pattillo:

jane austen ruined my life
Jane Austen Ruined My Life
(Book 1)

dashwood tell all
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All
(Book 3)

Find Beth Pattillo: Website | Twitter | Facebook 


Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jane Austen Spin Offs and Sequels

Jane Austen’s books have inspired so many spin offs and sequels. They have even become part of the trend to turn classics and historic figures into paranormal stories. I compiled a list of the ones that I could easily find – most have been released over the past few years. I haven’t read any of Austen’s books (I have seen a couple of the movies) and I have only read Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo (review to be posted tomorrow) from those below.

Pride, Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Sense, Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters
Mr. Darcy, Vampire by Amanda Grange
Mansfield Park and Mummies by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian
Jane Bites Back: A Novel by Michael Thomas Ford
The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride & Prejudice Murder Mystery by Regina Jeffers
Emma and the Werewolves by Jane Austen and Adam Rann

Pride & Prejudice Spin Offs
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
The Darcys & the Bingleys: A Tale of Two Gentleman’s Marriages to the Two Most Devoted Sisters by Marsha Altman
Mr. Darcy Present’s His Bride: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice by Helen Halstead
Apprehension and Desire by Ola Wegner
Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley by Linda Berdoll
First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice by Alexa Adams
Impulse & Initiative: What If Mr. Darcy Had Set Out To Win Elizabeth’s Heart by Abigail Reynolds
Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape: A Tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley by Sharon Lathan
Mr. Darcy’s Decision: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice by Juliette Shapiro
Fate and Consequences by Linda Wells
Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice by Regina Jeffers
My Dearest Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Rainy Days by Lory Lilian
A Noteworthy Courtship by Laura Sanchez
To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds
Longbourn's Unexpected Matchmaker by Emma Hox
The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman
Pemberley Shades: Pride and Prejudice Continues by D. Bonavia-Hunt
Memory Volume 1: Lasting Impressions by Linda Wells
Memory Volume 2: Trials to Bear by Linda Wells
Memory Volume 3: How Far We Have Come by Linda Wells
The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview
Persuasion Spin Offs
Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange
None but You: Frederick Wentworth, Captain Book 1 by Susan Kaye
For You Alone: Frederick Wentworth, Captain Book 2 by Susan Kaye
Captian Wentworth's Persuasion: Jane Austen's Classic Retold Through His Eyes by Regina Jeffers
Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story Book 1 - So Rough a Course by Laura Hile
Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story Book 2 - So Lively a Chase by Laura Hile
Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story Book 3 - The Lady Must Decide by Laura Hile

Sense & Sensibility Spin Offs
Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange
The Third Sister: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility by Julia Barrett
Miss Lucy Steele by Ruth Berger
Willoughby's Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistable Temptation by Jane Odiwe

Mansfield Park Spin Offs
•Edmund Bertram's Diary by Amanda Grange
•Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd
•The Matters at Mansfield: Or, The Crawford Affair
by Carrie Bebris
•Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken
•The Youngest Miss Ward by Joan Aiken
•The Watsons and Emma Watson: Jane Austen's Unfinished Novel Completed
by Joan Aiken
•Eliza's Daughter by Joan Aiken

Emma Spin Offs
Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange
George Knightley Esquire: Charity Envieth Not by Barbara Cornwaith
Emma and Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury by Rachel Billington
Jane Fairfax: The Secret Story of the Second Heroine in Jane Austen's Emma by Joan Aiken
Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma's Match by Carrie Bebris
A Visit to Highbury by Joan Austen-Leigh
Deception: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Ola Wegner
Remembrance of the Past by Lory Lilian
Chance Encounters by Linda Wells
Mrs. Elton in America: The Compleat Mrs. Elton by Diana Birchall
James Fairfax by Jane Austen and Adam Campan

Modern Day Austen
The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice: A Modern Love Story With A Jane Austen Twist by Abigail Reynolds
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
Seducing Mr. Darcy by Gwen Cready
The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer
Secret Schemes and Daring Dreams by Rosie Rushton
Perfect Fit: A Modern Tale of Pride and Prejudice by Linda Wells
According to Jane by Marilyn Bryant
Vanity and Vexation by Kate Fenton
Persuading Annie by Melissa Nathan
Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan
Northanger Alibi by Jenni James
Summer of Secrets by Rosie Rushton
Love, Lies and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton
A Little Bit Psychic: Pride and Prejudice with a Modern Twist by Aimee Avery
First Impressions (The Austen Series, Book 1) by Debra White Smith
Reason and Romance (The Austen Series, Book 2) by Debra White Smith
Central Park (The Austen Series, Book 3) by Debra White Smith
Northpointe Chalet (The Austen Series, Book 4) by Debra White Smith
Amanda (The Austen Series, Book 5) by Debra White Smith
Possibilities(The Austen Series, Book 6) by Debra White Smith
Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter
Feel free to leave some opinions on the books listed above if you feel so inclined.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 17, 2010

Giveaway Winner HerStoria Magazine

We have a winner of the giveaway for an issue of HerStoria Magazine...

and the winner is...

Congrats Linda. I will be sending out an email to you for your info. Thanks everyone!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #36

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I received only one book in my mailbox this week but I had a coupon to Borders for a free book if I spent $30, so of course I used it and got a couple (they really had to twist my arm, haha).

In my mailbox I received No Will But His by Sarah Hoyt from a giveaway I won at Passages to the Past. Thanks Amy!

At Borders I picked up Helen of Troy by Margaret George. I haven't read any of her works yet, but I thought this one would be interesting - I'm always looking for a good book set in Ancient times. I also got The Four Seasons by Laurel Corona. This is a book that I just recently found out about and it sounds very interesting. Another Vivaldi book to add to my TBR pile.

A decent haul. How about you?

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Initial Reactions - America The Story of Us Part 3

The third segment of this series focused on the American Civil War and the westward expansion. This episode was 50/50 for me.

The Civil War portion was lacking, as far as I am concerned. During the entire hour they only really talked about one actual battle – the 2nd battle of Bull Run – and even then, it wasn’t for very long. The bulk of the discussion was on the strengths and weaknesses of the North and the South and how this contributed to the South ultimately losing. While I think this is a great topic of discussion – I also would have liked a little bit more mentioned about the battles and some of the great people who were a part of them. They quickly covered the Gettysburg Address, but not the Battle of Gettysburg. I didn’t think that you could really separate the two. And the assassination of Lincoln went like this: “Five days after the Civil War ended, Lincoln was assassinated”…end of story. Are you kidding?

That said, I did enjoy the second half of the episode, Heartland, very much. This was an aspect that I hadn’t spent too much time learning about in the past. The expansion of the railroad west and its effects, the decimation of the buffalo and Native population, the closing of the frontier – all very interesting topics. One of the things that I enjoyed most was the strength of these frontier families. They had to live in some tough landscape with little provisions, crazy weather that they had never seen before, a plague of locusts, crop failures – just to start with. These are definitely people that I can admire.

I will end with a trivia question from this episode – what was the date that standard time began in the US (the four time zones) and what caused this to happen? The answer will be posted in my sidebar in a few days.

The next episode airs Sunday May 16th and is on the building of the modern cities.

Here is the link to the Heartland portion of the episode – it’s not really worth watching the Civil War segment.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner
ARC, Hardcover, 397 pages
Ballantine Books
May 25, 2010

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Publisher for HFBRT Event for May
At the age of fourteen, Catherine de Medici, last legitimate descendant of the Medici blood, finds herself betrothed to the King Francois I’s son, Henri. Sent from her native Florence to France, humiliated and overshadowed by her husband’s life-long devotion to his mistress, when tragedy strikes her family Catherine rises from obscurity to become one of 16th century Europe’s most powerful women.

Patroness of Nostradamus and a seer in her own right, accused of witchcraft and murder by her foes, Catherine fights to save France and her children from savage religious conflict, unaware that her own fate looms before her—a fate that will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, reputation, and the passion of her own embattled heart. . .

From the splendors of the Loire palaces to the blood-soaked battles of the Wars of Religion and haunted halls of the Louvre, this is the story of Catherine’s dramatic life, told by the queen herself.
This book follows Catherine from her life as a young girl in Italy, until the very end of her life in France. She is the daughter of the wealthy Medici family, but when she comes to France she is that Italian girl that no one really pays attention to. This is something she has to fight against her entire life.

I really enjoyed how Gortner presented Catherine. She is humanized, with passions, fears, and a soul. She cares about her children, desperately loves the husband who doesn’t love her back, and believes in the predictions of a man named Nostradamus. I think Gortner shows Catherine’s vulnerability and human side through the title of his book – a confession. About halfway through the book you begin to understand why this book is titled this way. To mimic a popular song that would describe Catherine perfectly, “these are my confessions”.

One of the things that was very new to me was the Huguenots vs. Catholics battle. I knew that there have always been conflicts between the two, but had never read anything about them. This part of the story, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, was very exciting and I didn’t really know where it would go. Catherine was constantly in such difficult situations.

I loved getting to know all of the children of Catherine and Henri. I really think my favorite was their son Henri – he was the most constant to Catherine. On the other hand, her daughter Margot, was so bad, and constantly a thorn in Catherine’ side, very sly that one was. And my hatred for Diane de Poitiers continued in this book. I just can’t stand how much she got in the way of Catherine and Henri’s marriage – she was so controlling.

If you have read the Jean Plaidy trilogy about Catherine, I’m not sure if you will enjoy this book as much as you would if you haven’t. I have read the first in her series, Madame Serpent, and I didn’t feel like I had read anything new in the first third of Confessions. I can’t attest to anything beyond the first book.

A great new book from C. W. Gortner. I haven’t had the chance to get to The Last Queen yet, but if this book is any indication of how Gortner handles maligned women, I can’t wait to read it. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

You can always watch this wonderful trailer to hold you over if you haven't had the chance to get the book yet.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
Also by C.W. Gortner:

the last queen
The Last Queen
the queen's vow
The Queen’s Vow
[My Review]
vatican princess
The Vatican Princess
[My Review]
Mademoiselle Chanel
[My Review]
the tudor secret
The Tudor Secret
(Spymaster Chronicles Book 1)
[My Review]
tudor conspiracy
The Tudor Conspiracy
(Spymaster Chronicles Book 2)
[My Review]
the tudor vendetta
The Tudor Vendetta
(Spymaster Chronicles Book 3)
[My Review]

Find C.W. Gortner: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Also today on HFBRT:



Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court