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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Winner of Dancing with Mr. Darcy...

Good evening everyone! I would like to take a quick minute tonight to announce the winner of Dancing with Mr. Darcy. Please join me in congratulating Svea from Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog! I will be sending you an email to get your mailing info. Thanks everyone for entering!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Summer at Tiffany I-pod Playlist

While looking for Marjorie Hart’s website, I stumbled across her Myspace page for the book Summer at Tiffany. Here she has posted an I-pod playlist that goes along with the book. These may be songs that were mentioned in the book or songs that evoke the time period. I thought I would repost this here for your enjoyment.

If you look below I have posted a playlist gadget so you can listen to these song at you leisure. The only one that I couldn’t find was Love Walked Right In and some of the songs are different versions because they were not available through this vendor. Enjoy!

THE SUMMER AT TIFFANY I-POD PLAYLIST from http://www.myspace.com/bestsummerofyourlife

"O SOAVE FANCIULLA" (Puccini’s La Boheme Act I)/ Mirella Freni/Luciano Pavarotti/Roland Panerai
LETS CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF/Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
LOVE WALKED RIGHT IN/Sammy Kaye Orchestra
S’WONDERFUL/Glenn Miller Orchestra
THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC/Glenn Miller Orchestra

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
Paperback, 290 pages
Avon A
March 30, 2010
goodreads button

Genre: Memoir

Source: Picked up in the Book Blogger Con swag bag

“Do you remember the best summer of your life?

New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend, Marty Garrett, arrive fresh from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls. Turned away from the top department stores, they miraculously find jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work on the sales floor—a diamond-filled day job replete with Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwit Teller's—and the envy of all their friends.

Hart takes us back to the magical time when she and Marty rubbed elbows with the rich and famous; pinched pennies to eat at the Automat; experienced nightlife at La Martinique; and danced away their weekends with dashing midshipmen. Between being dazzled by Judy Garland's honeymoon visit to Tiffany, celebrating VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with Café society, she fell in love, learned unforgettable lessons, made important decisions that would change her future, and created the remarkable memories she now shares with all of us”

From the moment I saw this book I just knew that I had to read it and would love it. Now, I recently had an experience where I hyped a book that I was looking forward to so much, that when I read it and it wasn’t as good as I expected; I was crestfallen. But that was not the case this time and I loved every minute of it. I spent all day on a beautiful Sunday outside reading this book – it was that engrossing.

I have always been enamored with America in the 1920’s-1940’s – my mother always tells me that I was born at the wrong time. Seeing this world through the eyes of Marjorie was just like being there myself. You really got all of the details about fashion and the celebrities they saw while working at Tiffany, the struggles of daily life in NYC, all of the war efforts on the home front. This story encapsulated so many areas of life at this time that the world came to life around you.

This story was so more than just the story of one young woman’s exploits while on summer break from college, but it was the story of the first women to work on the Tiffany’s floor, as well as a historical snapshot of the summer of 1945 in New York City. You saw more than just how these events affected these two girls’ lives, but how they affected the lives of those around them too. You are party to the Empire State Building being hit by a plane, V-J Day, General Eisenhower’s parade through the city, The Queen Mary docking in NYC to release mass amounts of troops home, and much more.

I don’t know what it is about essentially experiencing the life of a normal American in 1945 that made this such an awesome book, but I loved every minute of it! You will certainly not be disappointed if you pick this one up to read – highly recommended.

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

You can watch this conversation with the author, Marjorie Hart, as she describes a little about the book and why she wrote it.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Find Marjorie Hart: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Iconic Tiffany & Co.

I think it is safe to say that almost everyone knows of Tiffany & Co – whether they own a piece of their exquisite jewelry or have just envied from afar. Marjorie Hart was fortunate to spend the summer of 1945 at the Tiffany flagship store as the first female page on the floor – and shares that story with us in the wonderful memoir Summer at Tiffany. From their gorgeous jewelry to that brilliant blue box that says it all, Tiffany & Co is an iconic image for the ages.
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond, shown here in its most well know setting, the “Bird on the Rocks” brooch, was likely discovered around 1877 in South Africa. It was cut in Paris as a cushion-cut brilliant and weighs in at a whopping 128.54 carats with 90 facets. In its raw state it was 287 carats! It was imported to the United States in 1879 at a price of $18,000. In 1983 it was valued at $12,000,000! This diamond has only been worn by two women – a Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse for the 1957 Tiffany Ball and Audrey Hepburn for promotional photographs for the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The iconic blue color of the Tiffany boxes was first used in 1878 on the cover of its Tiffany Blue Book catalogue. It is said that this color was chosen because of the popularity of brides at the time to give turquoise jewelry to the ladies. This color has now been trademarked by Tiffany and is a symbol of everything that they stand for. The New York Sun, in 1906, reported that “(Charles Lewis) Tiffany has one thing in stock that you cannot buy of him for as much money as you may offer; he will only give it to you. And that is one of his boxes”.
Any hardcore sports fan probably prides themselves as knowing nothing about Tiffany & Co – but some of the most iconic images in sports have Tiffany in them. The World Series Trophy, Nascar Nextel Cup, The Vince Lombardi Superbowl Trophy, The NBA and WNBA Championship Trophies, as well as various other championship rings and trophies have always been created by Tiffany out of sterling silver!
The first Tiffany glass lamp was created around 1895 and had been believed to be created by Louis Comfort Tiffany – but in 2007 it was revealed that the most famous designs were created by an artist, Clara Driscoll. These beautiful lamps are hand-made by piecing together cut colored glass and affixing them together through a method called Copper Foil method. These are some of the most beautiful lamps around.
Original Tiffany & Co. Building

The flagship store of Tiffany & Co is located on premium real estate at the corner of 57th St and 5th Ave. The company moved to this location October 21, 1940. Today the 7 floor house everything Tiffany: Main Floor – the greatest jewels they have to offer; 2nd Floor – engagement jewelry; 3rd Floor – silver jewelry and gifts; 4th Floor – the home collection (china and glass); 5th Floor – special events and exhibitions; 6th Floor – Customer Service.

These are some of the most iconic images of arguably one of the greatest jewelers around. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart so that you too can enjoy more of what Tiffany has to offer!
Much of my information was attained from the Tiffany & Co. website http://press.tiffany.com/AboutTiffany.aspx.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday #52

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of October it will be hosted by Avis at She Reads and Reads. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

This week I received 2 books in my mailbox (well, sort of...one didn't actually arrive in my mailbox).

I received a copy of Leslie Carroll's novel Herself which I won in a giveaway hosted at her blog The Lady Novelist. Also with this I won two tickets to go see the Broadway show, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.

Now I also received a copy of A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent to be reviewed for the December HFBRT event. This arrived at my parent's house, so I don't actually have it in my possession yet, but I know it is there and I want it! My mom keeps teasing me about it everytime I talk to her.
Did anything amazing arrive in your mailbox?

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TV Show Review: The Tudors Season 1

The Tudors
Season 1
Rated: Mature Audiences

Tudors Season 1 covers the time period of King Henry VIII’s reign during his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and through his early relationship with Anne Boleyn, just prior to his divorce from Catherine.

Having only seen the first three seasons so far, I have to say that the first season was my favorite. The animosity between Anne and Catherine was amazing and the Natalie Dormer (Anne) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Catherine) played off of each other SO well. Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey was also phenomenal. And of course, the eye candy was Jonathan Rhys Myers and Henry Cavill!

The costuming is absolutely gorgeous. I want all of the dresses and head pieces etc. In my opinion they did a great job of sticking with period style – but I am not an expert on clothing. The scenery was very well done also. The only parts that I wasn’t a huge fan of were the CGI shots of castles and other sites that are no longer there. I know that they needed to use CGI, but I felt like they could have looked more clear rather that more CGI looking – I know they have that technology!

Tudors does speed up the time line of history and certainly does take some liberties with events and such. Some names of characters were changed for the viewer’s benefit and some characters were merged (Henry’s sisters Margaret and Mary became the single character of Margaret). Time did elapse faster in the show and the most notable instance is that Henry is not as old in the series at the time of the events as he was in real life (he is much younger probably to appeal to a younger audience). And as with any premium channel show, there is a fair share of nudity and sex – viewer beware!

Regardless of these liberties and small complaints, I loved this show! It is great fun to watch and has certainly generated a lot of buzz for the Hist-Fic community, which is never a bad thing. It has even led to the new Showtime drama The Borgias coming out in Spring 2011!

If you are a Hist-Fic fan and/or a lover of the Tudors, I think you will very much enjoy this show!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TV Show Review: Robin Hood Season 2

Robin Hood
Season 2
Rated: PG

While I thought that Season 1 was great, Season 2 was even better! By now we already know our heroes, or do we? Is there a traitor in their midst? If so, who is it and why are they doing it?

Marion and Robin try to give it a go – at least more so than in Season 1 – but I was left missing some of their squabbling – not that there isn’t any in Season 2! I have never been a huge Gisborne fan, but this season his character felt very lost to me. I think he is supposed to be conflicted between his emotions for Marion and his duty to the Sheriff, but it wasn’t quite there for me. All of the characters grew and evolved throughout this season in very appropriate ways. The events that take place actually seem to be effecting them.

In this season there are scenes that take place in England as well as in The Holy Land. I thought that the scenery was terrific and beautiful. There were some great fight scenes and as always some daring escapes.

The season finale will be a three hanky episode as was the season finale of Season 1 – but this one will definitely hit harder. Just be prepared. I’m not sure that I will like Season 3 that much because of how Season 2 ended. I feel like there will certainly be something missing and that it might not have the same feel to it, but I have hope. Season 3 is the last season so I’m hoping that everything gets wrapped up and not left hanging.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giveaway - Dancing with Mr. Darcy

Hello Everyone! I am pleased to offer a Jane Austen-esque book up for grabs for this next giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful Harper Collins I have one copy of Dancing with Mr. Darcy available for followers in the US or Canada.

For those of you who don’t know, Dancing with Mr. Darcy is an anthology of the winning entries in the 2009 Jane Austen Short Story Award contest. All the short stories are inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House, where she spent the most productive literary years of her life. The book is edited by Sarah Waters, nominee for the MAN/Booker Prize in 2009 for The Little Stranger, and with an introduction from Rebecca Smith, the great-great-great-great-great-niece of Jane Austen, these twenty short stories are fully supported by the Chawton House Estate and were selected by an elite team of judges.

The book goes on sale today – October 19th!

To enter:

1. Leave a comment below with your email address (required)
2. You must be a follower of this blog
3. For additional entries:

+1 for each time you tweet, facebook post, etc and come back and leave a link here
+1 if you tell me what or who got you started with reading Jane Austen and what the first Austen book was you read
+2 for a blog sidebar post or blog post and leave a link here

This giveaway will be open until October 29th and the winner will be announced on October 30th.

Good luck everyone!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday #51

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of October it will be hosted by Avis at She Reads and Reads. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

This week slowed down a lot in terms of books (compared to last week), but I think the mailman was getting tired of all of the DVD's coming in that I ordered last week during a bit of going Ebay-crazy!

From Sourcebooks for review I received Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham. I have not yet had the chance to read any of her books, so I am very excited about this one. I am also just getting into reading things from the War of the Roses period so this will be perfect!

Did anything you really wanted come in your mailbox this week?

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 15, 2010

Guest Post by Jeannie Lin

Please help me welcome author Jeannie Lin to The Maiden's Court.  Jeannie has a new book called Butterfly Swords out that you should check out if you are interested in historical fiction set in China.  Take it away Jeannie...

Walk the Line

Guest Post by Jeannie Lin, author of 
Butterfly Swords

I watched Inception the other night.

As usual, I’m behind the times. Everyone was raving about this movie about three weeks ago. Instead, I go see it at a ten o’clock showing in a nearly empty IMAX theatre by myself. I sat back in the huge seat, looked up at the curvy screen, and let go for two hours.
In one scene, Leo is training the new gal to architect dream levels. She decides to be a bit of a smart-ass and starts messing with the physics. Unlike The Matrix, where such antics are considered note-worthy, in Inception, the bending of reality has consequences. No one’s subconscious likes to think it’s being messed with. The subconscious starts to lash out in anger until the point when all of the dream people rebel and form a lynch mob.

From the very start of my submission process with Butterfly Swords, I kept hearing one word: “Risky”. Asian settings don’t do well in historical romance. There’s no market for it. It’s a hard sell. It’s risky.

It wasn’t that publishing was antagonistic and fearful of change. These unknown settings were risky for readers. Who wants to pick up a book and feel lost and confused? To not be able to connect with the characters? And then to be told, but you need to understand this culture, as if it’s their fault they didn’t come in with a couple of history courses and an atlas?

Somewhere along the process, I learned how to walk the line. This is something that fantasy and paranormal authors have to do all the time. Heck, I think it’s something all authors have to do. How do you create the “storyspace” of your book and keep readers from being jerked out of the dream?

Therein lies the alchemy. The voodoo.
The rules of a historical romance are inherently different than one of a paranormal or fantasy. It’s the balance of historical fact and fantasy. Ai Li is a swordwoman who comes from a long line of warriors. Many readers are drawn to that. A tough chick can be pretty cool and swords are flashy. But if she starts stomping all over the historical settings without any care for social norms or period expectations, the subconscious would rebel.

As the architect gal says in Inception, it’s not so much about getting down every little detail as it is getting the feel of it.

As a writer, you have to lay down the details, walk the line, and play delicately with the fabric. Then put the story in front of readers and hope they buy into the dream. If they don’t, they may very well rebel by throwing the book against the wall. But if they believe, what an adventure it can be.

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

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 14, 2010

TV Show Review: God in America

God in America

American Experience/Frontline Series

WGBH (PBS) & Frontline
360 minutes
October 11-13, 2010

“Since the days when the Puritan "city on a hill" beckoned on the horizon of the New World, religious faith and belief have forged America's ideals, molded its identity and shaped its sense of mission at home and abroad.

For the first time on television, God in America explores the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America, from the first European settlements to the 2008 presidential election. A co-production of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, this six-hour series examines how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena; how religious freedom and waves of new immigrants and religious revivals fueled competition in the religious marketplace; how movements for social reform -- from abolition to civil rights -- galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War.

Interweaving documentary footage, historical dramatization and interviews with religious historians, the six-part series is narrated by actor Campbell Scott and includes appearances by actors Michael Emerson (as John Winthrop), Chris Sarandon (as Abraham Lincoln. and Keith David (as Frederick Douglass), among others”
(from PBS.org).

When I first heard about this series, I was very excited that American Experience and Frontline would take on such a huge subject and one that is usually handled with kid gloves. To talk about religion in this country can be a touchy subject. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion…up until the point when someone is offended (which these days seems to be pretty easy). Whether we like it or not, religious beliefs have been an integral part of the creation of this country and have left a legacy that really needs to be understood and embraced to know where we came from. While many of the events covered in this program are touched upon in school, it is highly unlikely they really get to the crux of the issue. I have to applaud American Experience and Frontline for taking this project on.

Now with that being said, this was a grand slam out of the ballpark for me. I am pleased that they used real experts from the fields to talk about this topic – religious studies professors, historians, and the like. They not only understood the religious aspects but also the historical and why the religious aspect was so important to that event or time period. I think there is nothing worse than when you have someone who is not an expert trying to impart knowledge to you in a form such as this. Also, when you are taking on the issue of religion, which is very close to so many people, you really want the right people for the job.

My biggest complaint was really the issue of length and lack of excitement. Now, I understand that this subject doesn’t exactly lend itself to great dramatic scenes that steal the show, but I found myself extremely bored. I would be ok for the first hour of the show, but really couldn’t focus on it after that. Possibly if the show was on for only 1 hour at a time, or if the overall show was not 6 hours, it might have been better. As it is, I didn’t watch all 6 hours, I just couldn’t focus and that was really hard for me to do. Each 1 hour episode is available to view online now, so I may tackle it that way to see what I missed.

Overall, I think that this was well presented and certainly a valuable use of funds and time.

If you are interested in watching any of the episodes please check out the God in America website on PBS.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interview with Laurel Corona

After reading the wonderful Penelope's Daughter by Laurel Corona there were a couple burning questions that I just knew I had to ask. Below you will find the lovely interview with the author where she enlightens us with how she researched for her book as well as what is coming up next. Please welcome, Laurel Corona.

You are currently a professor at San Diego City College, how do you find time to research and write your books? Do you have a set routine?

I am fortunate in that many of the things I research are of use in my humanities classes, and in fact, the inspiration for all my fiction has come from the subjects I teach. One of the best things about being a community college professor is that we get long vacations but we aren’t under the obligation to “publish or perish,” as many academicians are. I don’t have to spend my time away from school producing scholarly work, which leaves me free to write whatever I want (or not to write at all) in my free time. I manage to write year-round though, because I am one of those obnoxious people who wakes up alert and ready to go by 6AM, so with my afternoon schedule of classes, I can put in a half day of writing before I have to think about getting ready for class. I try to have a good balance between writing and other activities (particularly exercise), and I find that really there is plenty of time in a day as long as none is wasted. I very rarely waste a minute.

We are told in The Odyssey that Odysseus and Penelope had a son, Telemachus. How did you come up with the story behind Penelope’s Daughter?

I decided I wanted to write a novel about The Odyssey from a female-centered point of view, but I didn’t like the character of Penelope. All she did in Homer, it seemed to me, was weave and weep. There was no way she was going to be my heroine, I was sure of that. I came up with the idea of a daughter as a way of being able to invent the heroine I wanted. As the story evolved, Penelope became very much a heroine in my eyes also, when I imagined how she really would have acted in that difficult and threatening situation. Interestingly, well into writing the book, I uncovered a story from another source contemporaneous with Homer, in which Odysseus and Penelope have another child, a second boy. I decided right then that I was completely vindicated in adding the daughter because Homer hadn’t included everything either.

You stayed very true to the story of The Odyssey, what was the most difficult part of the writing process? How did you balance what we already knew from Homer’s work with the story you wanted to tell?

I try in all my historical fiction to stay as close to the truth as I can, deviating only in details I consider so minor as to be irrelevant. I don’t want to misinform people and I want people to rely on what I say. So little information exists about the era of the Iliad and the Odyssey, that Homer became my best source for the story. I read and reread the Odyssey, and listened to it over and over in my car during the year or so I was writing the book. I thought about what the best parts were, and I knew they could only be in the book if I made Xanthe, the daughter, part of them. I tried to imagine for myself the things Homer wasn’t very interested in, such as the daily lives of women, and I used my research on Bronze Age Greece to add details to that. This book was actually less difficult to write than my other fiction so far, precisely because the available research is pretty scanty. It’s funny, sometimes when I ask a scholar a question and they say no one knows the answer, they apologize for not having been able to help. I always tell them that they were a great help, because when something is unknown, I am free to invent without worrying about being proven wrong.

I most enjoyed the segment of the story focusing on the time Xanthe spent with Helen of Troy. What made you decide to use Helen as a vehicle for Xanthe’s growth into a woman?

Many people tell me that is their favorite part of the book. I really loved writing it! As I read the Odyssey, I started doing the math on all the characters’ ages (Homer doesn’t seem to do this) and realized that when Odysseus’ son Telemachus comes to Sparta in search of information about his father, the youngest Helen could be was forty--and that would be if she had her daughter, Hermione, when she was thirteen (very possible in that time). I know that the legend says that Helen was Zeus’ child and therefore might have special qualities such as the ability not to age and therefore lose her great physical beauty, but since she is a mortal, that seems unlikely. At any rate, forty is quite old by the standards of the time.

I wondered what a woman who had lived such a tumultuous and interesting life would be like. As we all know, being a beautiful young woman is not enough to base a full life upon. I read a fabulous book, Helen of Troy, by historian Bettany Hughes, and learned that Helen was thought to have picked up great powers to cast spells and speak to (and for) the gods. Helen began to grow in my imagination into this absolutely marvelous woman, confident in herself, and loving her sexuality and her close connection to the goddess Orthia. With Xanthe spending her teens there, I decided her life would be guided by what Helen thought was right for any young woman--an introduction into sensual goddess worship and a sexual awakening.

Your next book, Finding Emilie, comes out in early 2011. What can you tell us about this next book?

It’s based on the real-life story of a brilliant mathematician and physicist, Emilie du Châtelet, who live in the era just before the French Revolution. She was quite a libertine in many respects, flaunting societal expectations for an aristocratic, married woman. One of the ways she defied expectations was her truly brilliant scientific work, and another was her tendency to have rather public love affairs, including a long one with her live-in lover, the philosopher, satirist and playwright Voltaire. At age forty-three she died a few days after giving birth to the child of yet another lover. The book imagines the life of that child, named Stanislas-Adélaïde but nicknamed Lili in my book, as she goes though life unaware of her mother’s story but desperately in need of that knowledge if she is to escape the terrible constraints on women in her society, and fulfill the destiny of living an equally passionate, intellectual, and fulfilling life. This is truly the most complex story I’ve written and also in many respects, the most exciting and dynamic. Look for it in May 2011, from Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books!

Thank you so much Laurel for answering these questions and we hope to see you again with Finding Emilie!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review: The Harlot’s Progress: Yorkshire Molly by Peter Mottley

The Harlot's Progress: Yorkshire Molly by Peter Mottley
Book 1 in The Harlot’s Progress Series
Paperback, 472 pages
Carnevale Publishing
October 30, 2009
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Carnevale Publishing for Review
“This is a brand new historical thriller from Peter Mottley based on William Hogarth's celebrated 1733 etchings, "A Harlot's Progress". The first in a trilogy, Yorkshire Molly is a compelling story of one woman's misadventures in 18th century London and the first novel to bring these fascinating historical prints to life. Heroine Molly Huckerby arrives in London from Yorkshire into the exciting, vibrant and forbidding streets of the capital. She is soon approached by the notorious bawd Mother Wickham who cunningly seduces the heroine into a life of prostitution in a Cheapside brothel. The first in a trilogy, the story has elements of both bawdy romp and the serious struggles of a young woman against overwhelming misfortune. As well as comedy moments there is a breathtaking twist in the tale that keeps the reader gripped with a rewarding and not unhappy ending. Mottley (1935-2006) paints London with a colourful stroke, rich with historical accuracy that is the result of years of meticulous research”
Before I begin this review in earnest, I feel that I have to say this book is not for those who do not like to read sex scenes. Much of this book is about sex. I also wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t say that this book would get an R rating if it were a movie.

With the above disclaimer, even though I am not a huge fan of books with a lot of sex in them, I did enjoy this one. True, the first couple chapters were a shock to get through, but after that it became routine. The author didn’t just use sex for sex’s sake; it was very integral to the story. The main character, Molly’s, whole life changes because of sex and much of the story takes place in a brothel, so the usage is very appropriate to the main plot. The author develops the characters so well that you begin to pay more attention to what is going on with the characters that the sex really just falls to the side. Also, after the first third of the book, the sex scenes become less.

This is a third person narrated story that tends to focus on Molly’s experiences and what she is doing. From time to time though, mostly in the first half of the book, there will be a sort of cut scene to the “Jews” that will provide a side commentary to what is going on. You get to really know these characters much later on and then it makes sense. Up until then, I was a little confused as to what was their purpose in the story. You can tell that the author cared about his characters because each one is complete with a set personality. You really do get to see them grow and evolve. You will quickly become caught up in Molly’s story, as well as that of her friends Annie and Kitty, and by the end of this book you will be cheering them to succeed.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. When I first accepted the book I had no idea the amount of sex that was in it and after hearing some other’s opinions, I decided this was going to sit for a little while. After I decided to pick it up, I really got into the story and am so glad that I read it. I will definitely be looking for the second book in the series Annie’s Quest, which will follow Molly’s friend Annie, I presume.

To give you a taste of the story, please check out chapter 1. This chapter doesn’t feature any of the sex scenes, so feel free to view it. Here is also the book trailer:

The author, Peter Mottley, unfortunately passed away before his series was published, but his daughter has been working to fulfill his dream. At this point, I am unsure if any additional books will be released, and unless you are willing to pay big bucks, I don’t see it for sale anywhere.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mailbox Monday #50

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but is currently on tour. For the month of October it will be hosted by Avis at She Reads and Reads. Mailbox Monday has lead to my overwhelming pile of books at home to read and those that I wish to get my hands on.

This week my TBReviewed Pile climbed in number. Everything that I received this week was from a publisher for reveiw and one was even a surprise.

From Harper Collins I received both The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason and The Princess of Nowhere by Lorenzo Borghese.

From publicist Kelly and Hall I received an intriguing novel, Blood and Silk by Carol McKay. This is a Biblical fiction about Jesus and Mary of Magdalene. I think this could be very interesting.

My surprise in the mail was The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell. I am pretty sure I wasn't offered this one, but I was really excited to get it and it looks to be a great read.

Did any awesome books arive in your mailbox this week? I'm kinda hoping that this week will be a little slower.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

TV Alert - God in America on PBS

Starting tonight (October 11th) and continuing the next two nights (9-11 PM EST) there will be a 6 hour miniseries called God in America on PBS. This is a joint venture between American Experience and Frontline and from the promotional material that I have seen it looks to be very informative.

Now, the title, God in America, may make you think that this is going to be religious and preachy, but I don’t think so. First of all, I am not very religious at all and I really want to see this. Second, from what I understand this show is going to look at the role that religion play in the development of this country and how it shaped us. I mean, you can’t really deny that the Pilgrims came to the US to escape religious persecution. This show will cover from colonization right up until the contemporary period. There will be a mix of documentary footage (for more current events) as well as dramatic reenactments. Actor alert: Michael Emerson, who played Ben on ABC’s LOST, will play John Winthrop in one of the episodes of God in America.

Here is the blurb:

“For the first time on television, God in America, a presentation of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, will explore the historical role of religion in the public life of the United States. The six-hour series, which interweaves documentary footage, historical dramatization and interviews with religious historians, will air over three consecutive nights on PBS beginning Oct. 11, 2010.

God in America examines the potent and complex interaction between religion and democracy, the origins of the American concept of religious liberty, and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena. The series considers the role religious ideas and institutions have played in social reform movements from abolition to civil rights, examining the impact of religious faith on conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War, and how guarantees of religious freedom created a competitive American religious marketplace. It also explores the intersection of political struggle and spiritual experience in the lives of key American historical figures including Franciscan Friars and the Pueblo leader Po'pay, Puritan leader John Winthrop and dissident Anne Hutchinson, Catholic Bishop John Hughes, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, reform Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, Scopes trial combatants William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, evangelist Billy Graham, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Moral Majority's Jerry Falwell.”

And the video:

I think that this is a worthwhile show and I commend the producers for taking on this (hopefully not controversial) show. I will have a review up on Thursday after all of the episodes have aired. Please be sure to drop by then and let me know what you think.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 7, 2010

OSV Apple Day

I went to another Old Sturbridge Village event this past weekend, and this time the theme was the apple harvest. I thought that I knew a few things about apples, but I learned that I really didn’t know much at all about apples. I was able to try samples of several different types of traditional apples and see how apples were pressed into cider in an ox powered press. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and really felt like fall. A perfect day to spend outside.
We had the opportunity to talk with a period horticulturalist who knew so much about apples. First of all, in the earlier part of our history, apples were primarily grown to be pressed into cider. These cider orchards were created by planting mashed apples in the ground and letting these trees grow from seed. They did not care how they grew or what they grew in to. It didn’t matter the types of apples, they were just looking for a large variety of apples that had the 3 characteristics to make the best cider: sweetness, juiciness, and acidity. Now the most shocking thing to me was that if, for example, you plant the seeds from a Macintosh apple in the ground, the trees that grow out of those seeds will not be Macintosh trees! They may have some of the qualities of Macintosh, but also the qualities of the type of apple tree that pollinated it. Sort of like how your child will not look exactly like you, but have the traits of yourself and your spouse.

Cider was a very important drink in New England because most of the inhabitants had come from England – where they drank cider. Everyone had a cider orchard and hoped for a large volume of apples. Families grew small family orchards (maybe 5 trees or so) where they would tend them carefully to produce the best fruit to use for cooking and baking. These trees were trimmed and fertilized. They were not meant to produce high volume of fruit, but the best tasting. These trees were not usually grown from seed (because you never knew what you were going to get), but were grafted. The simple description of grafting is taking a cutting of the type of tree you want to grow and inserting it into a cut made in a sapling tree. This cutting would grow into the sapling and grow into the type of tree you were looking for. This is the only way to get another Macintosh tree, for example.

During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps did a lot of work with apple orchards in New England. Unhealthy and untended orchards would be cleared out to make way for new, fresh orchards. In the process of doing this, they killed off many types of heritage apples that existed at the time. A small group of people would take cuttings of these heritage trees to graft and keep these heritage trees growing. Did you know that the most popular apple in New England, prior to 1933, was the Baldwin apple? In 1933, there was the worst winter recorded since colonization and 99% of the Baldwin apples died out. Do you know what type of apple survived this winter and has now become the epitome of the New England apple? MACINTOSH!
Now the most awesome event of the Apple Day festivities was the member’s apple pie contest. Myself and 14 other contestants entered our best apple pies for judging. Now prior to this event, I had not had an apple pie recipe. I made my Dutch Apple Pie recipe 2x this past week in order to make sure it came out well, and I had rave reviews. While waiting for the judging event, I became very nervous because a) I was the youngest entrant b) most of the others had entered before and/or won before and c) I have never entered a contest before. Well wouldn’t you know it, I won third place! I was so excited! I won tickets of a brunch at a local inn for two as well as the Sturbridge cookbook and a traditional apple corer. That was pretty awesome and a great end to a great day. I'm already planning on how I will edit my recipe to make 1st place next time.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Historicals on Stage and Screen 2010/2011

We have just reached that time of the year again when all the new tv shows have just started up for the season and we are getting in gear for the upcoming 2011 movie season. I thought it would be cool to take a look at all of the new shows coming out on the small screen, the big screen, and the stage that are historically based.

On the small screen (TV) there are several new series and miniseries that will be starting up fall 2010 – spring 2011.

Starz will be home in spring 2011 to the show Camelot – a retelling of the legend of King Arthur. This show will feature Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower and Tamsin Egerton. This show is sure to be “smart, sophisticated, and realistic to the Dark Ages in which it’s set”. It is also supposed to delve into the political nature of the time.

HBO will be the home of 2 new series and a new miniseries in 2010 and 2011. Boardwalk Empire started up its run 2 weeks ago and has been awesome since. This show focuses on Prohibition Era Atlantic City – ripe with gangsters, rum-running, and all the fun of illicit alcohol. It features Steve Buschemi as Nucky Thompson, who basically runs everything in Atlantic City. The show is gorgeous to look at and I love to watch the mob scene.

Coming up in the spring the new show Game of Thrones begins – based on the epic historical fantasy series by George R. R. Martin. “Game of Thrones chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among noble families for control of the Iron Throne”. Two of the names that you might recognize from this upcoming series are Sean Bean, who will star as Ned Stark and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. I have been reading the books this series is based on and love them – and from what my boyfriend tells me, the first season will stick very closely to the first book. Here is a preview:

Also coming up this spring of 2011 from HBO will be the miniseries Mildred Pierce. This series is based on the book by James M. Cain and was made into a movie in 1945 starring Joan Crawford. This series will feature the ever amazing Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood, and Guy Pearce. This show takes place during The Great Depression as housewife, Mildred, tries to maintain her family’s lifestyle.

And finally over at Showtime in 2011, the show that has been generating the most buzz recently, The Borgias! This series about one of the well known Renaissance families will take the place of the departing Tudors. Jeremy Irons has been cast as Roderigo Borgia and coming from the creators of the Tudors I am expecting great things!

Please feel free to add any shows on regular tv that are coming up and are historical because I have had a hard time finding any information.

As for the big screen, there were a few that I found that seemed very appropriate. Coming up later this month is Secretariat – the story about the last racehorse to win the elusive Triple Crown. This will start Diane Lane and John Malkovitch. This is sure to be a good one and I can’t wait to see it. Also coming out in October, to a limited release, is The King’s Speech. This is the story of England’s King George VI who was known to have a terrible stuttering problem. He became King when his brother, Edward VIII, gave up his throne so he could marry Wallis Simpson. The cast is pretty good – Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, Colin Firth as George VI, Guy Pearce as Edward VIII, Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill. Coming up in April 2011 is the movie I am most looking forward to, Water for Elephants – based on the smash hit book by Sara Gruen. This is probably my favorite book ever and I am so excited to see how the Depression era circus comes out on the big screen. This will star Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in the lead roles. I hope to see all of these movies.

Also starting in October there are two new Broadway shows that take on the historical. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a comical musical about the seventh President of the United States. This one looks hilarious. There is also The Scottsboro Boys based on the notorious trial. This is staged as a minstrel show providing a musical social critique.

The historical is ever growing in the world of screen and stage and I can’t wait to see what is coming down the line later on. My suggestion for when The Borgia’s ultimately comes to the end, how about they take on The Stuarts – there is plenty of dramatic fodder in Charles, James, and all of their women!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: Penelope’s Daughter by Laurel Corona

Penelope’s Daughter by Laurel Corona
Paperback, 352 pages
Berkley Trade
October 5, 2010
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review

“With her father Odysseus gone for twenty years, Xanthe barricades herself in her royal chambers to escape the rapacious suitors who would abduct her to gain the throne. Xanthe turns to her loom to weave the adventures of her life, from her upbringing among servants and slaves, to the years spent in hiding with her mother's cousin, Helen of Troy, to the passion of her sexual awakening in the arms of the man she loves.

And when a stranger dressed as a beggar appears at the palace, Xanthe wonders who will be the one to decide her future-a suitor she loathes, a brother she cannot respect, or a father who doesn't know she exists...”

If you are a fan of The Odyssey you are sure to enjoy the events that transpire in this book. While the struggles of Odysseus to return home to his family following the Battle of Troy are not the focus of this novel – the life of his family at home, and also that of the life of Helen of Troy following the war, are expanded upon. We also learn that after Odysseus set off for war, his wife, Penelope, had a daughter that he never knew about. We explore Xanthe’s life throughout the twenty years that Odysseus is gone and it ends just after he returns home.

Each chapter of the book begins with a description by Xanthe of a part of her weaving that she is working on. Xanthe has decided, while locked away in her bedroom, that she will tell her life’s story through a giant weaving. She explains choices for different colors, techniques, threads, and as you read on in the chapter, you can see how this weaving mirrors her life. It is a very interesting story telling device, although at the beginning of the story it did leave me a little confused.

Xanthe can break down her life into three distinct sections – and the book is broken down the same way – Ithaca, Sparta, Ithaca. The first part, Ithaca, Xanthe is a very young girl. She doesn’t really understand the world that is unfolding around her now that her father has been gone for so long and the politics that are at play. I had some trouble getting into this section – it just felt a little more dry to me than the rest of the book. The second part, Sparta, is Xanthe’s life at the court of Helen of Troy. She was sent there to try an escape The Suitors. Here is where the story really picked up for me. This is where Xanthe really grows up and learns more of her role in life. Then the third part, Ithaca, is her return to Ithaca and the family reunites with Odysseus. It really is a coming of age story for Xanthe.

The author creates a very vivid Greek world. The descriptions of the traditions, coming of age rites and initiations, and worship of the Gods and Goddesses were beautifully rendered and well researched. The characters that were very much marginalized in The Odyssey and even non-existent characters were fully fleshed out in the pages of Penelope’s Daughter. You were really able to see what drove them to the decisions that they made and who they were. One character whose story really blew my mind was Helen of Troy. Xanthe learns a lot about the circumstances surrounding why Helen went to Troy. You also get into the back story of Helen’s life prior to Troy. That was the most interesting and touching part to me.

If you are a fan of The Odyssey or a fan of Greek mythology this is a book that should certainly not be missed. You will not be disappointed by the tale that unfolds and will be completely sucked into the story of Xanthe.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Laurel Corona:

the four seasons
The Four Seasons

the mapmaker's daughter
The Mapmaker’s Daughter

finding emilie
Finding Emilie

Find Laurel Corona: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court