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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
ARC, Paperback, 256 pages
March 1, 2011
goodreads button

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale Revisited

Source: Received through Amazon Vine Program for review
“Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after? 
Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom. 
Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….

A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.”

Prior to reading Turgeon’s take on the classic tale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christen Andersen, the only knowledge I had of this story was the Disney movie version. I assumed that the tale was probably a little different but didn’t know to what extent. What you get in Turgeon’s novel is very similar to the classic tale (less like the Disney movie) and a great fleshing out of the characters and backstory.

Mermaid is told from the dual perspectives of Princess Margrethe and Mermaid Princess Lenia. Each chapter alternates between narrators but continues the flow of the story – it never feels choppy. Turgeon writing style will compel you forward at a frantic pace at times but at other times slow you down to simply enjoy the surroundings. In this way she is able to place you right into the emotions of both of the main characters and truly see things from their perspectives.

I was very happy with the ending of this story. I found myself rooting for one character over another and I was hoping that the ending would turn out to support that character. Turgeon does a very good job of making you think you know how it will end, but there is certainly a curveball thrown in there for good measure. I enjoyed this ending much more than the original ending of the fairy tale because it is more rewarding for the reader who has just spent 240ish pages making a connection with these characters – versus the 10 or so of the fairy tale.

The only real negative that I found in this story was the characterization of Prince Christopher. While the two girls and other periphery characters are fleshed out and given some motivation, I felt like Christopher was lacking. He is given very little backstory and his motivations for his emotions and reactions are not wholly supported. It was a little difficult to really feel like he was the handsome prince that everyone was in love with – a little two dimensional. If he had been given more to work with I think it would have been that much better.

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

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Carolyn Turgeon


fairest of them all
The Fairest of Them All

Rain Village
Rain Village

Find Carolyn Turgeon: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest 

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mailbox Monday #73

I received one book in my mailbox this week for review and picked up a couple awesome books from Barnes and Noble this week. But I also have to share a mailbox experience from this week that really made me mad.

For review as part of an upcoming TLC book tour in July (and I am super excited about this one) – Before Versailles by Karleen Koen! I loved the previous book I read by her, Dark Angels was awesome and I am excited to be a part of this one. Here is the blurb:

“Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versaillesdares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.”

Ok, so that was the only thing that came in the actual mailbox this week. But at my trip to Barnes and Noble (where I was NOT going to buy anything) I ended up coming out with 3 books.
I picked up:

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Text Got Wrong by James Loewen
Lies Across America: What American History Sites Get Wrong by James Loewen
Happily Ever After by A Whole Bunch of Awesome Authors – this is a collection of retold fairy tales by awesome authors such as Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Gregory Maguire, etc.

Now on to my awful mailbox experience this week. To set the scene: we live in an apartment complex with a bank of mailboxes and when there are oversized packages they leave a key in the box and you can get the package out of the oversized mailboxes. My boyfriend had ordered a book from The Book Depository and it came wrapped in a cardboard wrapper. I am assuming when the postman put it in the mailbox it must have just fit, but when I went to remove it from the mailbox it wouldn’t come out. Apparently there is a lip around each individual mailbox that made the opening smaller than the book. They should have left a key and put it in the oversize mailbox – but apparently not. So I had to rip open the packaging while it was in the mailbox so I could slide out the book and then crush the packaging to get it out. Man was I mad by the time I finished with this trip to the mailbox!

What came in your mailbox this week?

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page but it is now on a monthly blog tour.  For the month of May it is hosted by Mari at Mari Reads.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Goodreads Giveaways

Good morning all!  Hope you are having a great Memorial Day Weekend!  I spent a little too much time out in the sun yesterday watching dogs herd sheep and have a nice sunburn to account for it.  Today will be a little less exciting - mostly chores - and tomorrow it is off to a family picnic on the lake (and maybe a boat ride!?).

I thought I would post some links to some awesome Goodreads giveaways for historicals.  Most of these end by June 3rd, so if you haven't entered already I would enter very soon!

To Be Queen by Christy English - Ends May 31

The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims - Ends May 31

The Map of Time by Felix J Palma - Ends May 31

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - Ends June 1

Forgiven by Janet Fox - Ends June 1

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey - Ends June 3

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin - Ends June 3

Hope you have a great weekend!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by The Muse in the Fog Book Review.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA - Blogging About Blogging!

So this is the day we actually talk about some of the technical aspects of blogging. I thought that I would give you some of the tips that I have found useful the hard way!

1. Set yourself some sort of rule as to how many review copies (if any) that you will accept. It is very easy, especially in the beginning, to get carried away and accept every book that is pitched to you. Then as deadlines start approaching you can stress yourself out. I try to only pick the books that I probably would have read anyway and only allow myself to have about 10 books at any one time.

2. A continuation of the previous, don’t let your blog stress you out. Blogging should be a hobby and thus be something you enjoy and look forward to. If you notice yourself starting to get stressed about blogging, you should re-evaluate your blogging habits and what is causing you this stress. I try not to get too bogged down by due dates. Things happen in life that causes you to not read/blog for various reasons. The world will still continue to turn even if you can’t get that big review posted today.

3. Keep yourself organized. I use a free calendar that I can download into a Word document and I input review dates and other various posts and I color code everything for recognition at a quick glance. You can also use Google Calendar or the like if it works better for you. Also, try to keep your email inbox organized somehow. I have separate folders for author/book review requests and another folder for generic blog things.

4. Consider keeping a reading journal or some type of note taking system when you read. I know that it can sometimes be weeks before I write a review and by having my review journal I can look back and see what I was thinking at the time. It also is good practice to actually write notes that you will understand later – I have had several occurrences where I had no idea what I was thinking when I wrote a note, which was obviously important to me at the time I wrote it.

5. If you want to improve the number of visitors to your blog – get involved! The more you are out there the more people know of you and will come and check out your blog. Comment on sites that you visit. Another thing that I have noticed increases the community of your blog is responding to comments left. I like to respond to comments within my comment section, but you can also respond with emails.

6. Find the best time for blogging for you, but also make sure you have enough time for your family and friends. I personally do most of my blog writing in the early morning on the weekends. My boyfriend sleeps late and I get up early – so I do my writing before he gets up and am generally finished when he is ready to start the day and I still have time to do everything else. Then during the week I just go through and respond to comments and check out other blogs. This works for me, you can find what works best for you.

Well, I hope some of these tips will help you from falling into some of the same pitfalls that I did early on. If you have any blog questions at any time that I might be able to help you with please feel free to drop me an email!

You can check out other posts like this at the Armchair BEA blog where there is a link-up of today's posts.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA - Blogging Relationships!

Blogging relationships. Oh where would we be without blogging relationships?

When you first think of blogging you think of it as a solitary enterprise – I know I sure did. When I was first staring out, a little over 2 years ago, I never imagined that people would actually find and read what I was writing in my little corner of the world. But surprise! I was wrong! At its heart, blogging is really all about the community that is created surrounding your blog and the relationships that you make with each other that stem from what you write.

It was so wonderful to meet many of you at BEA last year and certainly at Book Blogger Con – I mean what better way to meet people who do the same things you do?! I have appreciated getting to know you better – whether it is through the type of content and style that you choose for your blog or through the Sunday Salon/Suddenly Sunday type posts you do that reveal things that are going on in your life. We come together because of our love of books, but we stay together because of the things that we have in common and the things that we share with one another.

One of the relationships that has meant the most to me that grew out of this blog has been getting to know the ladies who put together our blog, the Historical Fiction Round Table: Arleigh (historical-fiction.com), Lizzy (Historically Obsessed), Allie (Hist-Fic Chick), Marie (The Burton Review), Lucy (Enchanted by Josephine), Susie (All Things Royal), and Amy (Passages to the Past). This group blog grew out of our respect of each other’s individual blogs and the camaraderie that we all had about Historical Fiction as a genre. Every day when I would come home there would usually be several emails from the ladies going back and forth discussing some topic. Sometimes it would be about a book we all happened to be reading, other times it was about content for the blog, and other times it was just to vent frustration about things that were happening in our personal lives. None of us had met each other but we knew so many things about each other and really became good friends. I have since been able to meet Allie, last year at BEA, and from the moment we actually met it was like we had been friends forever. We have even teamed up as roommates this year for the Historical Novel Society conference in June.  We have been there for each other through many situations over the last 2 years and I especially want to thank Arleigh, Lizzy, and Allie for helping me through an especially devastating time for me over the last couple of months. Without their personal support it would have been much more difficult for me.

Relationships in the blogosphere are just as important as face-to-face relationships in the real world. You can make friends for life. Don’t let people knock the importance of the relationships created on a blog.

You can check out other posts like this at the Armchair BEA blog where there is a link-up of today's posts.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Armchair BEA - Work the Network!

Today on Armchair BEA is interview day. Since I didn’t get signed up in time I won’t be interviewing any bloggers but I am going to take the time to highlight some awesome book blogs and give you some reasons to go and check them out!

Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books
One of the things that I love about this blog is the Weekly Wishlist feature. This post features historical fiction and historical non-fiction that is upcoming to be released. I have added so many books to my wishlist from reading this post series. Along similar lines, she also hosts a New This Week feature that tells you books that are being release during the next week.

Unabridged Chick
This is a relatively new to me book blog. This blog features a majority of historical and literary fiction but also dabbles with other genres as well. One of the things that I like about this blog is the way the reviews are formatted. They cover a little bit of everything including: one sentence summary, book cover commentary, similar authors, first line, and most importantly (in my opinion) buy, borrow or avoid. In these reviews you will likely find just the information you were looking for.

Hyaline Prosaic
I love to read this blog when I need a dose of something a little different. If you want to know about historical costuming – this is a good stop. Rowenna frequently posts about her sewing projects (many of which are historically based) and you get to see how it all comes together. I also love hearing about the reenactments that she takes part in. Talk about living history!

Lights, Camera, History
This blog focuses on period dramas on the screen. They feature films that are being released all over the world and in various languages. This is a good place to go if you want to find out about upcoming historical releases. They frequently also have movie trailers too.

Reading the Past
You can always find something interesting here. A librarian by trade, this blogger has also written two books that are a guide to the historical fiction genre. I love to read the interviews that are hosted at this blog because the questions are always top notch. And if you have any questions about Historical Novel Society, this is one of the people to ask!

These are just a few of the blogs that I love to read. Hope you find a few that might be new to you!

You can check out other posts like this at the Armchair BEA blog where there is a link-up of today's posts.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA - Best of 2011...so far!

I wanted to put together a quick list of my favorite books I have read so far in 2011 and a couple of those that I can’t wait to read that will be releasing in the tail end of 2011. Links are provided for the books I have reviewed.

Favorites so far of 2011:
The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner – I said it in February and it still stands at this point – my favorite read so far this year! (February 2011)

Heart of Deception by M. L. Malcolm – I loved the preceding novel, Heart of Lies, and this follow up was just as awesome. (April 2011)

India Black by Carol Carr – Such a witty and fun read with one of the most awesome narrators in recent reads. (January 2011)

Most anticipated in 2011:
Before Versailles by Karleen Koen (June 2011) – I enjoyed my previous read by this author, Dark Angels, and can’t wait to read this one.

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick (September 2011) – you just can’t beat a novel by Elizabeth Chadwick and I have never read about Matilda before!

Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman (October 2011) – I haven’t read any Penman yet but I hear wonderful things and have always loved the Lionheart!

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Armchair BEA Giveaway!

Everyone loves a giveaway and Book Expo America is all about the advanced copies you can grab and the great experience you have.  There is a post up at the Armchair BEA blog linking to all of the giveaways going on today at the various blogs taking part in Armchair BEA, so be sure you stop by and check them out!  They also have various awesome giveaways going on there throughout the week.

Here I am offering up a three book giveaway of some awesome Victoria Holt titles.  Read below for details on entering.

You can check out other giveaway opportunities at the Armchair BEA blog where there is a link-up of today's posts.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA - Getting to Know Me!

Welcome to the first day of Armchair BEA and if this is your first time dropping by my little part of the world, welcome! This first event is supposed to be a get to know me post – and I realized that I don’t think that I have really ever done one of these before. So without any further adieu…

My name is Heather and I am 23 years old and live in quiet, rural, Central Massachusetts, not much exciting goes on around here! I live with my boyfriend (another bibliophile who from time to time posts on his blog Lions and Men) and our pain-in-the-butt cat and fish. By day, I work for the federal government in your typical desk job pushing papers, but when I am not working I like to read (obviously!), watch movies (especially old ones from the 30’s-60’s), play tennis (really it’s mostly chasing the ball down rather than actually hitting it), go to visit historic sites (there are so many in New England), among other things. I have a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, a major I chose mostly for fun rather that future aspirations, and am going to be starting my Masters degree (online) this fall in History – focusing on Ancient Cultures. I’m very, very excited for that!

I started this blog in May 2009 on a whim. I was in my senior year of college with a little bit of spare time on my hands and lots of good books to read. I had been following a couple of blogs and thought “I can do that” – and that was how it all started. I have since been to various author signings, BEA and Book Blogger Con in 2010, made some great friends, became a founding member of the Historical Fiction Round Table, participated in various blog tours, and wrote reviews until they have come out my ears! The ultimate event for me this year will be attending the Historical Novel Society Conference in San Diego in June.

For those of you new to this blog, I focus most of the blog on Historical Fiction and Historical Non-Fiction. There are reviews, author interviews and guest posts, historical content, etc. I also have two feature series that I do from time to time – Caught on Tape (each episode looks at a specific historical character and looks at movies that they appear in) and Two Sides (which looks at various sides of different historical issues).

I hope you enjoy the blog and drop by often! There are various ways to follow my blog and they are all located on my right hand sidebar: Google Friend Connect, subscribing to my posts or comments in a reader, subscribing by email, following me on: Twitter, Networked Blogs, Facebook Group, Shelfari and Goodreads!

You can check out other posts like this at the Armchair BEA blog where there is a link-up of today's posts.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Old Books and Armchair BEA

Good morning and happy Sunday everyone. Hope you are having a good weekend – I have really needed it this week and am 100% looking forward to the long weekend that is coming up next. Man, work is just draining me lately – I guess that is what 20 hours of mandatory OT per month will do to you!

I got an interesting book related surprise this past week. My boyfriend’s parents were going through a bunch of their stuff to get rid of and found a whole bunch of old books. They brought them by and gave them to me and there were some pretty cool findings. First of all, there are several books that were published in the mid to late 1800’s and many were first editions. Now, most of the titles and authors I had never heard of, and I will share some of them with you to see if you recognize any of them a little bit further on, but the best thing I found for sure had to be a 1915 version of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott! I have never read this book before and there has been a lot of buzz about it lately with the release of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees. Though it is certainly not a first edition, it is still almost 100 years old and in very great condition.

Here are some of the other books I found:

Miss Petticoats by Dwight Tilton (1902)
Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace (1948)
Prue and I by George William Curtis (1899)
Quimby and Son by William Hayliger (1925)
Stronger than his Sea by Robert Watson (1920)
The Last of Summer by Kate O’Brien (1943)
The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales by Charles Kingsley (1885)
The Lovers’ Shakespeare by Chloe Blakeman Jones (1897)
Mr. Scraggs by Henry Wallace Williams (1906)
Paul and Virginia by Bernardin De Saint Pierre (1884)

There are a few more but I haven’t gotten around to looking at the rest yet. Do you know anything of these books?

Also this week, I am taking it down a pace here and going to be participating in Armchair BEA. Last year I went to BEA and had a blast – but this year I wanted to attend the Historical Novel Society Conference in San Diego in June, so I had to make a choice, and chose HNS. You can read my thoughts of last year’s Book Expo America as well as the first Book Blogger Con. The posts this week will be centered on book blogging things that we can do from home but still fit in with the feel of BEA/BBC. Here is the schedule of events here this week:

Monday – A Little Bit About Me and My Armchair BEA Plans
Tuesday – Giveaway Day!
Wednesday – Where I Feature Some of my Favorite Book Blogs
Thursday – Importance of Blogging Relationships
Friday – Some Blogging Tips

If any of you will be attending the real BEA or BBC let me know so I can be sure to follow along with your exciting adventure. I will be waiting to hear the reports!

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

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, May 20, 2011

TV Show Review: Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers
Rated: Mature Audiences

I watched The Pacific (the miniseries based on the War in the Pacific) prior to watching Band of Brothers. I am going to avoid comparing the two until the very end of this review as I think each miniseries should be viewed on its own merits.

I want to first address the cast of this miniseries. I recognized by sight most of the main actors in this series as being from other movies or shows that I knew: Matthew Settle (Gossip Girl), Donnie Wahlberg, Scott Grimes (Robin Hood), Rick Gomez (What About Brian?), Michael Cudlitz (Southland), Ron Livingston (Office Space), James McAvoy (Chronicles of Narnia) and David Schwimmer (Friends) among others. I thought that the acting was top notch. My favorite characters were Major Winters (Damian Lewis), Captain Lewis Nixon (Livingson), and Technician Fourth Grade George Luz (Gomez). You could certainly feel the camaraderie between the characters and feel with them as they went through these experiences. The best all over scene for me was toward the end of the series when they find the concentration camp – you can feel all of the despair, pain and emotions for both the soldiers and prisoners.

I don’t know much about the actual history of this time period but everything appeared to be visually accurate and looked appropriate. According to various interviews they stayed particularly accurate to the things that these men went through with the necessity of merging some experiences just due to the constraints of a miniseries.

One thing that was hard for me with this miniseries (as opposed to The Pacific) was that it was harder to connect with individual characters. There were so many different people that you are following – you can visually recognize them but I could not recall names or know much about their back story. I also found it more difficult to discern the individual battles in the first half of the series – everything just seemed like shooting and the scenery all really looked the same to me. I think that the emphasis of this series is not the individual but the experience of the group.

While I didn’t love the individual episodes, overall I very much enjoyed the series as a whole. I think you really need to look at it as a whole series. I enjoyed the interviews and lead in commentary from those men who actually lived the events and were the inspiration for the characters that were being portrayed in this series. They really helped to set up the events that were going to happen.

Here is a trailer of this show for your enjoyment.


Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Movie Review: Cleopatra

Twentieth Century Fox
192 mins.
June 12, 1963

This is a classic movie that I am surprised it took me so long to see. I was given the collector edition for Christmas a couple years ago but just got to it recently. I think the length kind of kept me away from it for awhile.

This is a SUPER long movie – it took me 4 sittings to watch the whole thing because I couldn’t do it all at once. I saw the first half all at once, but the second half required more sittings. In terms of content, I found the part before the intermission (I told you it was long, it had a placard saying “intermission”!) to be the most interesting. The first half is mostly about Cleopatra’s interaction/romance with Caesar while the second half is focused on her relationship with Marc Antony. I think my issue with the second half was with the acting – which I will get into a little later. My favorite scene had to be when Cleopatra comes into Rome – there was so much fanfare and it was beautiful. Everything in this film looked great!

I thought that Elizabeth Taylor did a good job as Cleopatra. Her style was great. She was basically everything that I expected from her in this role. I have always been a Rex Harrison fan (watched the original Doctor Doolittle over and over again as a child and loved him in My Fair Lady). I thought that Harrison was wonderful as Caesar – even if the British accent was a little out of place. I honestly did not care of Richard Burton as Marc Antony or Roddy McDowall as Octavian. I felt like all that these two did was whine and Antony had no spine. This is exactly the opposite of how I envision Antony and therefore did not fit for me. Basically once the plot of the story turned to Antony I became disinterested.

Overall this was a beautiful film and very evocative of the period despite my dissatisfaction with some of the acting. Well worth the watch.

Since I posted the trailer yesterday during Caught on Tape: Cleopatra, I thought I would post a clip from my favorite scene, Cleopatra’s entrance into Rome.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Caught on Tape: Cleopatra

Cleopatra is one of THE figures in history that everyone knows something about. Her story is epic – she loved and was loved by two great men in history. She ruled Egypt and lost Egypt and gave her life in the process. As she is this epic character, there have of course been some great movies made about her. All of the films I included below are classic films. Each film features a superb cast of amazing classic actors. Almost all the films have some award nominations and look simply stunning. The only one I have seen is the Elizabeth Taylor film (which I will be reviewing tomorrow), but I can tell you that I certainly want to see more of the rest!

Cleopatra (1963)

“The winner of four Oscars, this epic saga of love, greed and betrayal stars Elizabeth Taylor as the passionate and ambitious Egyptian queen who's determined to hold on to the throne and seduces the Roman emperor Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison). When Caesar is murdered, she redirects her attentions to his general, Marc Antony (Richard Burton), who vows to take power -- but Caesar's successor (Roddy McDowall) has other plans.”

This is one of those classic films that you just HAVE to see. Certainly a movie to watch in a couple parts as it is so long but worth the time. Cleopatra is played by the great Elizabeth Taylor and also stars two other acting heavy weights as her lovers, Rex Harrison (who I love!) and Richard Burton. While the film has many historical inaccuracies (regarding characters and time) and some of the acting is a little over the top, I still find it to be an enjoyable movie from the golden age. And Elizabeth Taylor certainly had some amazing costumes in this movie.  You can find my review here.

Cleopatra (1934)

“Legendary director Cecil B. DeMille helms this spectacle about ancient Egypt, with Claudette Colbert as the queen of the Nile and Warren William and Henry Wilcoxon in the roles of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, respectively. The sumptuous sets and thrilling battle scenes helped make the film an event, and Cleopatra's seduction of Marc Antony on her lavish barge ranks as a must-see moment in the world of cinema. The film won an Oscar for editing.”

Another go around by the same name but filmed by the well known Cecil B DeMille. Filmed in black and white there is even more of a sense of the classic nature of the film than the 1963 version. Claudette Colbert plays Cleopatra and I think that she might be a better fit than Taylor (sacrilege, I know). Not that I think either woman plays a very convincing looking or sounding Cleopatra. The costuming is gorgeous. There is some risqué imagery (for the time period just prior to the Hays Code) but nothing near what we would see if this movie were made today. I have heard/read that the seduction scene between Cleopatra and Marc Antony makes the entire film. I eagerly look to get my hands on a copy of this film.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

“In this Oscar-nominated film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play, the aging Caesar (Claude Rains) comes to Alexandria to tutor young Cleopatra (Vivien Leigh) in the ways of rule, allowing her to wrestle the throne away from her brother, Ptolemy. But as time progresses, Caesar's feelings for Cleopatra turn romantic and he vows to marry her. Stewart Granger co-stars in this epic drama directed by Gabriel Pascal.”

As the previous two films featured Cleopatra’s relationships with both Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar, this film focuses on her relationship with Caesar. Based on the play by George Bernard Shaw this is another one of those beautifully filmed epic movies that you have to just see. Vivien Leigh (from Gone with the Wind fame) is Cleopatra. I have read that Claude Rains plays the best Julius Caesar on film. A theatrical box office failure but a great movie to see.

Antony and Cleopatra (1972)

“Screen legends Charlton Heston and Hildegard Neil inhabit the title roles in this adaptation of William Shakespeare's timeless tragedy. The epic tale follows Cleopatra and Marc Antony's doomed romance, from the Parthian War through intrigues that span continents and empires. Written and directed by Heston himself, the film also features performances by Eric Porter, Fernando Rey, John Castle, Carmen Sevilla, Douglas Wilmer and Freddie Jones.”

This film is an adaptation of the play by Shakespeare and as we all know, Shakespeare was not well known for his historical accuracy. Charlton Heston stars as Marc Antony and Hildegard Neil stars as Cleopatra. As the title suggests, the focus of this film is the tragedy of the love of Antony and Cleopatra. As written in the play, Cleopatra is one of Shakespeare’s most complex characters. Despite this film having two great leading actors – it was a commercial failure in the USA and received poor reviews. I haven’t seen this film so I can’t judge it – have any of you seen it?

The only clip that I could find of this was the opening credits scene – which shows the beautiful imagery but not much of the characters.

Who is your favorite portrayal of the Queen of the Nile? Which of these films have you seen or have earned a place in your movie hall of fame?

Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of Cleopatra (1963).

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TV Show Review: Freedom Riders

Freedom Riders
American Experience Series

120 mins
May 16, 2011
“Freedom Riders is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.”
Freedom Riders tells the story of one of the most memorable events of the Civil Rights Movement – the Freedom Rides into the Alabama and Mississippi. I will admit, I knew about this event, but not too much in terms of details. This episode was sure to change that. They went through this momentous event on a semi day by day in depth look that followed the participants throughout the south. They went into the lead up to the decision to take this non-violent action as well as the events coming at the tail end of the ride (national news coverage, carrying the momentum into the prisons, and what the ultimate result was).

There were some great selections made in who they interviewed. As you would expect from this series they interviewed people who were participants in the Freedom Rides, but there were other less thought about interviewees as well. There was a daughter of a man who attacked the Freedom Riders (as a young girl she went out to help those who were injured). There was a liaison to Attorney General Robert Kennedy who was in constant contact with the President and AG as well as being right in the thick of things. They even had an interview with the former governor of Alabama, John Patterson, who was politically right in the middle of the Freedom Rides. I thought the comments by Patterson were some of the most enlightening – he stood against the Freedom Riders during the time, but seemed to have much less of a hard line viewpoint today.

There was also other media that was included. There were several interactive maps that would allow the viewer to see where they were going. They showed footage of the different stops on the ride as well as some of the action against the riders. There was news footage from other countries that I thought was pretty cool – Cuba and Russia – I had never really thought of how the other countries of the world would react to events here at home. I also thought that this episode tied into the previous week’s episode of Soundtrack to a Revolution because they played additional songs that were utilized during this event – I liked how they would change up songs to fit different scenarios (and also about how you can sing without opening your mouth when you can’t brush your teeth!).

Overall I thought that this was a very enlightening episode. I never realized how complex and how many days this covered. Paired with the episode last week I had more appreciation for the music and some of the other aspects of this movement.

Here is the trailer – and if you missed the show it is available online to watch.

There are some great additional resources to go along with this episode – a timeline for the Civil Rights Movement, an exploration of the issues that were important to this movement, as well as an interactive map of the Freedom Rides.  You can also follow the 2011 Student Freedom Ride online.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mailbox Monday #72

Wow, has it been a long time since my last Mailbox Monday - over a month!  That is not because I haven't felt like posting - I really had not received anything in over a month.  This has led to my review pile dwindling - which is a very good thing because it means sometime soon I might be able to get to one of my own books!

Anyway, this week I received 4 books in the mail.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - Audiobook - I borrowed this one from Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com.  I have only read a chapter or two from the actual paper copy and I figured I might get to reading more of it this way.  So far I am 4 disks out of 18.

Finding Emilie by Laurel Corona - I won this in a giveaway from Historical Fiction Connection and received it from the publisher.  Loved Penelope's Daughter by the same author and cannot wait to get into this one.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War by Elizabeth Hoffman - received from Amazon Vine.  Beauty Queens won't be reviewed on this blog (at it is not HF), but I will post my review of Goodreads when the time comes if you are interested.  I have always loved Libba Bray's books and I just could not pass this up - her YA is hilariously funny!  I selected the Hoffman book because I don't think I have read any Civil War HF and this one sounded good.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?   

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page and it is now on a monthly blog tour.  For the month of May it is being hosted by Mari at Mari Reads.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Circus Experiences

Good morning everyone.  Not a great start to a Sunday - a very gloomy looking day.  Hope it is better in your neck of the woods.

So how about Blogger this week?!  I had no idea what was going on and then my post disappeared (but is back now).  So I'm going to give you links to this past weeks posts just in case you missed them in this craziness.

Author Interview with M. L. Malcolm

Book Review of Heart of Deception by M. L. Malcolm

Review of American Experience episode, Soundtrack to a Revolution (with music!)
I also have a winner to announce in the grand Circus Disaster Week giveaway.  This winner is getting one brand new copy of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen AND a brand new copy of The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan.  And the winner is.....


Congrats!  I will be sending out an email to get your address and the books will be shipped from the Book Depository.  Thanks everyone that entered!

And speaking of those of you that entered - some of you answered my question about a circus experience that you had.  These were all really awesome and I loved reading them, so I thought I would share them with you all.  Thank you all!

"In 1945 the Ringling Bros. etc . circus came to Okla. City, one of the last in the actual tent (I think).  I was so excited about the trip I was sick, and had to stay home with my grandmother while my older brothers got to go."

"I've been to a circus only once, but it was a memorable experience. I loved the act with elephants - it was scary and thrilling how the elephants obeyed that tiny, smiling woman."

"When I was young the circus always arrived at our town by rail. We youngsters used to rush down to see everything being unloaded and usually we also managed to get a temporary job as an usher showing patrons to there seats in the big top. This meant we got to see the circus for free. It was a great highliught of our year at the time."

"I remembered going to the circus every year as a child and I would always get a big snow cone in a commemorative circus cup and a stuffed animal of my favorite circus animal that year :)"

"I LOVE Moira Orfei Circus. It's the only one I've actually seen together with my family. I was 11 and it still is one of my dearest memory. :)"

"I was lucky enough to go to the Ringling Brothers circus when I was a kid. It was so spectacular. I was used to the Shrine Circus which is a lot different then Ringling Brothers. It was definitely an experience!"

"I used to work for a circus during the summer when I should have been interning on Wall St. But it was FAR more fun! I would have stayed if I could have trained with the lion-tamer but the very idea was laughed at! They never heard of Mabel Stark!"
And in my last announcement for this post - don't miss the new American Experience episode airing tomorrow night (Monday 5/16/11) - I believe it is on 9 PM EST and runs for 2 hours.  It is on the Freedom Riders.

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

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, May 14, 2011

TV Show Review: Soundtrack to a Revolution

If you want to get the full experience of this review – I recommend listening to the below music while you read this review. These are songs that are from the episode.

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Soundtrack for a Revolution
American Experience Series

120 mins
May 9, 2011
“The story of the American civil rights movement is told through its powerful music -- the freedom songs that protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, in police wagons, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality. A unique mix of historical documentary and contemporary musical performance, the film features new performances by top artists including John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots; riveting archival footage; and interviews with civil rights foot soldiers and leaders, including Congressman John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, Andrew Young and dozens more.”
I was super intrigued by the premise of this episode. I knew that songs and music were an extremely important part of the Civil Rights Movement but I had never really put a lot of thought into the actual songs themselves. I also thought that the premise of having modern popular singers perform some of these songs was a solid way to tie the event into the present day and make these events relevant to younger viewers.

This show really did a fantastic job of merging historical background with the importance of the music. All of the experts discussed the way that the songs built the movement – as one person said “they could take away everything else, but they can’t take away our songs”. They would talk about an experience during the Civil Rights Movement and explain a particular song then they would segue into the song performance. I thought that these performances were really awesome. My favorite song was at the very end where all of the performers sang bits and pieces of the same song. I think that I really have come to have more of an appreciation for the power of music and the identity that people form with song.

I highly recommend this episode to anyone who is looking to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement in a different manner than you will ever get from just reading about it. It also brings together the visual and audio experiences. I would also recommend this to people who are interested in the role that music plays in life.

As usual, American Experience has some great features to go along with this episode – one of the most helpful might be lyrics to the songs featured in this episode.

Here is a trailer of this show for your enjoyment.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court