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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Upcoming Theme Weeks

Happy Sunday everyone.  Hope your weekends are enjoyable and that you are having some good weather.  I am thrilled to be out of the heat wave that we were having just a week ago.  You just don't feel like doing anything when it is that hot.  I had high hopes of getting some reading done on my beach vacation last weekend - but didn't end up reading one page.  On the one hand that sucked because I was hoping to get ahead on my reading schedule and maybe squeeze in one of my personal reads, but on the other I had a great vacation anyway.  Since I have been back home I have dove headlong into reading Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey (mostly because I forgot my review is supposed to go up August 9th and hadn't touched the book yet!).  So far it is an enjoyable read - I hadn't read anything about her early life before.  I also have finished a couple short audiobooks.

Which leads me to announce that August is going to be all about theme weeks.  I have had a few books that I have been meaning to review for such a long time and these books really lend themselves to some expansion. Coming up this week I am featuring a week on The Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  This has always been a time of interest for me and I recently re-read the wonderful book Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse - review to come this week.  The week of the 8th I have Marie Antoinette and a review of Becoming Marie Antoinette.  The week of the 15th is all about Queen Victoria featuring Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl.  And the week of the 22nd will feature William Shakespeare and The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson.  So there is a lot coming up here so get ready.

I also have to announce the winner of Before Versailles by Karleen Koen.  So many of you entered this giveaway that I wish I had a book for you all, but I only have one.  And the winner is...

Lynn Irwin Stewart!

Congrats!  You are getting a wonderful book!  I will be sending out an email for your mailing info to pass on to the publisher.  If I don't hear from the winner within a week I will pick a new winner.

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

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Unabridged, 13hr. 56 min.
Listening Library
Allan Corduner (Narrator)
September 14, 2006
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Downloaded from my local library
“It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. 
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.”
Going into this book I had no idea what I was getting into. A book club I belong to had chosen this book and I decided I was going to get in on it. I hadn’t read anything set during World War II and I loved the book blurb – which was great because that style was carried throughout the novel.

This isn’t your typical World War II novel – you really don’t see any of the war efforts and battles. You instead get more of the air raids and bombings, hiding of Jews, and the economic effects on the community. And all of this is seen from the perspective of Death and a little girl.

I loved how the book was narrated by Death. He became a multi-layered character with thoughts and emotions and compassion for the job that he does. He speaks directly to the reader and tells you how it is. He is also quite hilarious. He will periodically break away from the main story and tell you a tangent. And while this can be confusing in some books it was not distracting here – it actually added to the story. The author was awesome at creating characters that you could love and connect with their stories. There were times when tears were brought to my eyes and other where I was angry.

This was an unexpectedly great read and I would highly recommend this to all. Especially on the audiobook.


The narrator of this book was fantastic. It was great to have a narrator in this story because there is a large amount of German words and I liked hearing how they sounded. He also had a great range of voices for the different characters. It really felt like you were listening to a man tell his story - not someone read a novel to you.

Here is an excerpt of the first chapter for your reading pleasure.  You can also listen to the prologue below, which is one of my favorite parts!

You can watch this interview with the author below:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Markus Zusak:

i am the messenger
I Am the Messenger

Find Markus Zusak: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Audiobook Review: The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Unabridged, 13 hr. 26 min.
Macmillan Audio
Katherine Kellgren (Narrator)
June 21, 2011
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received from the Amazon Vine program for review
“Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.

Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora’s story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.”
I have not encountered a novel that has been set (at least partially) in Newport, Rhode Island during the golden age of the “summer cottages” of the mega wealthy. It is such a beautiful setting and is probably one of the few settings in the United States that can evoke such a vivid world as European castles of old. Only a small portion of the novel is set here before it moves into well known Victorian England – but it still brought gorgeous pictures to mind.

It was also refreshing to read a romance novel for a change. This book treads more heavily on the romance side of the coin than the historical but there is enough there to certainly give you the sense of Victorian England. We even get to have Prince Bertie as a relatively important side character. It was also very interesting to see American upper class society juxtaposed against the English upper class – they were vastly different and it became quite an important plot device throughout the novel.

This was a great read and even though it ended in possibly not the most ideal situation it was still what I was rooting for. I even held off finishing the book for a few days because I really didn’t want it to end – it was such an enjoyable ride. I would certainly love to read another book by this author, it was a great debut.

And on a completely random note – I think the author had inspired choices for character names – I am particularly fond of Cora Cash!


The narrator was wonderful. She was a very flexible reader and had great accents for all of her characters. She had to switch between American and British accents throughout the story and I thought this was done seamlessly. At the end of the novel there was an interview with the author which was a wonderful treat. One thing that I found quite interesting was that she had never written dialogue before and so she would often read it out loud to hear how it sounded – which I think was perfect preparation for an audiobook.

You can read an excerpt of the book or check out an audio sample below:

Play symbol 85x85

You can watch this conversation with the author for some information about this story:

You can also read an interview with the author over at Unabridged Chick.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Daisy Goodwin


the fortune hunter
The Fortune Hunter

Find Daisy Goodwin: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mailbox Monday #79

Another Monday and another Mailbox.  I received two books in the mail this week both for review.

As part of a Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour - I am reviewing Road to the West: Book 1 of the Chronicles of Tancred by Rosanne Lortz. I have never read about the Crusades before, so I thought this might be the book to start it off for me.  Here is the blurb:
A tale of Courage, Conquest, Intrigue, and Honor.

You've heard of the Knights Templar, you've heard of Richard the Lionheart—now learn the story that started it all with the adventures of the First Crusade.

Haunted by guilt from the past and nightmares of the future, a young Norman named Tancred takes the cross and vows to be the first to free Jerusalem from the infidels. As he journeys to the Holy Land, he braves vast deserts, mortal famine, and the ever-present ambushes of the enemy Turks—but the greatest danger of all is deciding which of the Crusader lords to trust. A mysterious seer prophesies that Tancred will find great love and great sorrow on his journey, but the second seems intent on claiming him before he can find the first. Intrigues and passions grow as every battle brings the Crusaders one step closer to Jerusalem. Not all are destined to survive the perilous road from the West.
I also received His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm.  This book is based on the poem by Robert Browning, My Last Duchess, and is about Lucrezia de Medici wife of Alfonso d'Este.  I have always found this poem interesting and have been interested in The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas (based on d'Este's second wife), so I can't wait to get into this one.

Did anything awesome arrive in your mailbox this week.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Back from Vacation

This is going to just be a very quick Suddenly Sunday - because quite frankly Sunday has just appeared out of nowhere!  I spent the last three days at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire and had a blast.  It was super hot so I was grateful for the cold Atlantic Ocean water. Just got a little tan - no burns this time!  I did not accomplish any reading, even though I brought three books with me - and I'm ok with that because I had a great time anyway.

Today I want to announce the two winners of the For the King by Catherine Delors giveaway.  Thanks to Random.com the winners are...



Pat Smith!

Congrats to you both, I will be sending out emails for your information shortly.  If I don't receive a response within 7 days a new winner will be selected.

Hope you all are having a great weekend and look forward to chatting with you all throughout the week.

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

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, July 22, 2011

King Arthur Themed Books

I have recently found myself interested more in the King Arthur legends and was interested in what other novels there are out there - not only about him but the other characters of his time as well.  So I put together this list and thought that I would share it with you all.  Feel free to add others that you may have read in the comments or let me know which of these are good reads!

The Once and Future King – T. H. White
The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights – John Steinbeck
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain
Child of the Northern Spring – Persia Woolley (my review)
Queen of the Summer Stars – Persia Woolley
Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn – Persia Woolley
Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country – Rosalind Miles
The Knight of the Sacred Lake – Rosalind Miles
Child of the Holy Grail – Rosalind Miles
The Winter King – Bernard Cornwell
Enemy of God – Bernard Cornwell
Excalibur – Bernard Cornwell
Taliesin – Stephen Lawhead
Merlin – Stephen Lawhead
Arthur – Stephen Lawhead
Pendragon – Stephen Lawhead
Grail – Stephen Lawhead
Avalon – Stephen Lawhead
I Am Morgan le Fey – Nancy Springer
The Kingmaking – Helen Hollick
Pendragon’s Banner – Helen Hollick
Shadow of the King – Helen Hollick
Sons of Avalon, Merlin’s Prophesy – Dee Marie
Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle – Rosalind Miles
The Maid of the White Hands – Rosalind Miles
The Lady of the Sea – Rosalind Miles

Courtesy of Rebecca:

The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart
The Hollow Hills - Mary Stewart
The Last Enchantment - Mary Stewart
The Wicked Day - Mary Stewart
The Prince and the Pilgrim - Mary Stewart
Queen of Camelot - Nancy MacKenzie

Courtesy of Holly:

Gwenhwyfar - Mercedes Lackey
King Arthur: The Bloody Cup - M. K. Hume
King Arthur: Warrior of the West - M. K. Hume
King Arthur: Dragon's Child - M. K. Hume
Prophecy: A Clash of Kings - M. K. Hume
The Skystone - Jack Whyte
The Singing Sword - Jack Whyte
The Eagle's Brood - Jack Whyte
The Saxon Shore - Jack Whyte
The Fort at River's Bend - Jack Whyte
Metamorphosis: The Sorcerer - Jack Whyte
Uther - Jack Whyte
The Lance Thrower - Jack Whyte
The Eagle - Jack Whyte

Courtesy of English Rose:

The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper (YA)
Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper (YA)
Greenwitch - Susan Cooper (YA)
The Grey King - Susan Cooper (YA)
Silver on the Tree - Susan Cooper (YA)

Courtesy of Lieder Madchen:

Hawk of May - Gillian Bradshaw
Kingdom of Summer - Gillian Bradshaw
In Winter's Shadow - Gillian Bradshaw
The Squire's Tale - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf - Gerald Morris (YA)
Parsifal's Page - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Ballad of Sir Dinadin - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Princess, the Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Lioness and her Knight - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Quest of the Fair Unknown - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Squire's Quest - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Legend of the King - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Adventures of Givret the Short - Gerald Morris (YA)
The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True - Gerald Morris (YA)
In Camelot's Shadow - Sarah Zettel
For Camelot's Honor - Sarah Zettel
Under Camelot's Banner - Sarah Zettel
Camelot's Blood - Sarah Zettel
The Killing Way - Tony Hays
The Divine Sacrifice - Tony Hays
The Beloved Dead - Tony Hays

Courtesy of xo.sorcha.ox:

Twilight of Avalon - Anna Elliott
Dark Moon of Avalon - Anna Elliott
Sunrise of Avalon - Anna Elliott
Dawn of Avalon - Anna Elliott
The Witch Queen's Secret - Anna Elliott

Thank you everyone for your suggestions!

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court