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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Snow in October

Good Morning everyone!  Man this has been quite the weekend.  The snow has FINALLY stopped falling and we were hit good!  At least 6 1/2 inches in our town but parts of the state got over a foot!

Somehow we are also one of the few places in town that still has power too - about 80% of the town is without power since sometime early last night.  Trees and branches are down everywhere.  We shattered snow records for October with this storm - I think the previous snow fall measure was just around an inch in 1979 or so.  Hopefully with tomorrow supposed to be in the 50's (!) it will all melt fast.

You would think with all this free time I would have accomplished a lot - but really I didn't accomplish ANYTHING!  I had all of the grandiose plans of reading/catching up on reviews/researching for my class and none of those things happen.  I really have no idea what I actually did for 12 hours yesterday.  But oh well - these things happen sometimes.  So here's to getting some stuff done today.

Happy Halloween!

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

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Going to See Philippa Gregory - Not!

Well this morning is quite depressing.  I'm not going to see Philippa Gregory today after all because the massive snowstorm headed right toward me doesn't understand it needs to hold off until tomorrow so that I can go see her!  Sadly, the event has been cancelled.  Hopefully it will be rescheduled and I will still be able to go.  I didn't really want to drive in the snow, but I did want to see my mom and go to the event.  Oh well - hunkering down here for the potential 8-12 inches of October snow!

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Going to See Philippa Gregory

I am excited that I am going to go see Philippa Gregory this Saturday, October 29th!  When I heard that she was going to be doing a book tour, I figured that she would possibly come to Boston, seeing as she hits mostly big cities.  Boy was I ever surprised to see that she was coming to my favorite Indie book store in tiny Madison, CT - R.J. Julia.  This is the book store I have always went to for my author events, and they have brought in big name people before, I was just super surprised.

So you can bet I jumped on that one!  Bought tickets for myself and my mom (totally dragging her along with me because quite honestly my boyfriend is tired of going to these things with me), ordered my book, and blocked off that day to spend with my mom.  It will be a girls day - lunch and then out for a literary event.  Very cool!

I will be sure to tell you all about it come Sunday.  If you live in the area and are interested in going head on over to the RJ Julia website to purchase you ticket ($10 for just a ticket, $32.99 for the book to get signed and the ticket).  If you ever have the chance, stop by RJ Julia for an event - they have one almost every day and really are a great little store!

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dolley Madison...At Work

FYI – I should point out that this is going to be a very eclectic post!

So, it’s no secret that I am a huge Dolley Madison fan – and that goes for at work too. Over the last couple weeks I have been talking with a few of my coworkers about her (mostly because I was just reading A Perfect Union by Catherine Allgor at that time). One of them mentioned Dolly Madison Bakery (conveniently spelled wrong I instantly pointed out) and this turned into an entirely ridiculous conversation about whether the First Lady was actually a baker or not, compete with a Photoshop-ed version of the formal portrait with Mrs. Madison holding one of her Zingers!

Well, I guess I’m too young to ever remember the height of Dolly Madison Bakery fame (it has since been merged with Hostess), but here are some of their commercials for your first time viewing pleasure or for a trip down memory road!



One of my other coworkers sent me this recipe that I am going to share with you for Dolly Madison Cookies. I haven’t made these before, but let me know if you do how they are.

1 pkg. graham crackers
1 stick butter
6 oz. Nestles chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 can condensed milk

1. Place graham crackers in blender to make crumbs.
2. Melt stick of butter and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Press in graham cracker crumbs to make the crust.
3. Top with chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans.
4. Pour condensed milk over the entire dish.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° F for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Makes approximately 2 dozen

From what I have just described you would wonder if we get any work done – the answer is somehow, mysteriously, YES! But we have a little fun too. Hope you enjoy!

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mailbox Monday #87

This week I received one book in my mailbox-

I received Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance from PaperbackSwap (using my last credit).  I have noticed that many people around the blogosphere have read the book and I have been dying to get it.  Now at least it will be on my book shelf when I get some time.

Did anything awesome arrive in your mailbox this week?

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 21, 2011

Giveaway! The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought I would offer a giveaway for something Halloween related.  I am offering up my gently used copy of The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.  Here is the blurb:
Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. 
Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.
Here are some additional details for the giveaway:

  • Only open to residents of the USA
  • Last day to enter is November 4th
  • Please fill out the form below to enter
  • Good Luck!

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
Book 1 of The Saxon Stories series
Abridged, 5 hr. 30 min.
Harper Audio
Jamie Glover (Narrator)
January 31, 2005
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Downloaded audio from my local library
“’I had been given a perfect childhood, perfect, at least, to the ideas of a boy. I was raised among men, I was free, I ran wild, was encumbered by no laws, was troubled by no priests and was encouraged to violence.' Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of 9th Century Northumbria, but orphaned at ten, adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the last English kingdom when the Danes have overrun Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia.”
I have read a standalone Cornwell book in the past and really enjoyed it but this was my first of his books within a series. The Last Kingdom is the first book in his currently ongoing Saxon Stories series. As the story is told from the first person perspective, we get right into the thick of things with Uhtred as he bounces back and forth between being a Dane and being a Saxon.

I enjoyed this start to the series because I haven’t really read anything about this period in history. There is a plethora of battles that we are privy to and with Uhtred changing sides so often we really get to see how both the Saxons and Danes looked at this endeavor. Usually I try to avoid books which are primarily focused on wars and battles, but I have come to love Cornwell’s interpretations and depictions. Cornwell also does a great job at helping the reader to understand a culture that they have probably not had any experience with before.

I did have some minor issues with the novel though – thus giving it my 4 stars. The main character, Uhtred, is the epitome of a flip-flopper. One minute he is a Saxon, then a Dane, and then a Saxon, etc and no one seems to call him on this. It made it hard for me to connect with him because I wasn’t sure who he was going to be from one minute to the next. I also wish that the women in his life were more developed. We hear mention of his wife, but we don’t really meet her. We hear about his implied care and concern for her, but don’t actually feel it. He also has a friend from childhood who we see a little bit and get the allusion that there might have been something between them, but that is where it stops. I would have just liked to have a little bit more details about them.

I am eager to read book two in the series because the ending was so very abrupt. I actually thought that my iPod had died but then realized that the story had actually ended. It didn’t feel like a cliff hanger or make you feel like it had ended – it just stopped.


As always when I read a book set in a place or time that I am very unfamiliar with, I am very glad for audio versions because they pronounce the words for me and I learn something from it. Believe me, I would sit in my car and repeat some of the words over and over just to get the sound of it – I would love to be a fly on the wall sometimes! The narrator’s voice was very fitting to the novel and he would evoke emotions when necessary – such as yelling in a battle scene. The way he would read would suck you into the action – picking up speed when at the heart of an event and slowing down at necessary points too.

You can listen to a sample of the audiobook below:

You can also take a more in depth look at the book below:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Bernard Cornwell:

The other books in this series include:

the pale horseman
The Pale Horseman (Book 2)

lords of the north
Lords of the North (Book 3)

sword song
Sword Song (Book 4)

the burning land
The Burning Land (Book 5)

death of kings
Death of Kings (Book 6)

the pagan lord
The Pagan Lord (Book 7)

the empty throne
The Empty Throne (Book 8)

warriors of the storm
Warriors of the Storm (Book 9)

the flame bearer
The Flame Bearer (Book 10)

Other books by this author I have reviewed:

Find Bernard Cornwell
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Movie Review: Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood

Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood
Douglas Fairbanks Pictures
127 mins.
October 18, 1922
Rated: PG

This was my first experience with a silent film and was very much what I expected.

This film stars Douglas Fairbanks as the titular character in a story that is quite familiar to movie fans. This treatment of Robin Hood takes us on Crusade with King Richard and back to Nottingham to rescue to poor from the evil machinations of Prince John as he plays “king”. The only unique plot line I saw was that Lord Huntingdon (the future Robin) was afraid of the attention of women – I always pictured him as a lady’s man and that is how he is typically portrayed.

One prominent feature of a silent movie is the descriptive text and dialogue that appears on the screen to help the viewer to know what is going on. This was one area that I was apprehensive about because when text is displayed on the screen in modern movies it is frequently in small print and not left up long enough to read all of it. Here, the text was of appropriate reading size and left up for just the right length of time. The acting was overly dramatic, but appropriate because without dialogue you need to be engaged to the character and entertained. The image of this Robin and Marian is what I have always thought of when I envisioned them in my head.

One aspect I wasn’t thrilled with was the musical score – it felt too synthesized to belong to the era of time being depicted or to the time the film was made. I’m not sure if this was the original score or if it was redone (as the film had been lost for years and the music is not integrated into the film). It really reminded me of a video game – how it repeats the same thread of music over and over as well as the synthesized nature of it (honesty I was reminded of the original Zelda game for the Nintendo).

Overall, if you are an old film fan, Robin Hood fan, or want to check out a silent film, this would be a great choice. A well produced film.

Check out this video clip from one of the fight scenes:

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mailbox Monday #86

I received three things in the mail this week and none of them were actual books - however I still have the need to share as you may be interested.

First I received my long awaited copy of the Blu-ray Red Riding Hood from APB Media.  I had won this in a giveaway from one of the movie's promoters because I had happened to review it on this site and posted links to their website.  I was so very excited for this because I thought the movie was beautiful - despite the poor critical reviews it received.  One of my new favorites.  I absolutely watched it the day it arrived.

Then I received a copy of the audiobook for Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Riley.  I'm not a huge O'Riley fan, but I was interested in how this book would be.  Obviously I'm going to read another book about Lincoln for my books about the Presidents goal, but I was intrigued.  I received this from the publisher, Macmillan, as part of the Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewed Program.

Finally, I received an awesome board game - called 7 Wonders, which we ordered from Amazon.  Its a sort of board/sort of card game about building the 7 Wonders of the World.  It is pretty easy to learn, I learned in one sitting and WON!  I will probably post a review of it on here at some point, but if you are interested in checking out the game yourself, I recommend going to their website.  The feel is similar to a Civilization game that you would play on the computer, however in board game form.

Did anything awesome arrive in your mailbox?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of October it is being hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Suddenly Sunday - Randomness

Man, is it Sunday already?  Time sure flies!  Just a few random things today...

1. If you haven't already, check out the giveaway for Dracula in Love by Karen Essex over at Lions and Men.  Giveaway ends October 20th!

2. The winner has been selected for the 6 Degrees of The Other Boleyn Girl competition.  There were several great entries, but there can only be one winner (drawn at random from among correct entries)...and that winner is...Margaret!  I am posting her answer to the contest below:

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

The Last Boleyn by Karen Harper

Catherine, Called Birdie by Karen Cushman

The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis

Queen of the Masquerade by Tiffany Trent

A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

3. Among my many, many reading goals, I have set out a new one for myself - to try to read one non-fiction book (or listen to one audiobook) about each President and First Lady (where there is one written).  I spent awhile last weekend making up my list of possibilities.  There are several First Ladies where there is nothing written about them - and some Presidents didn't have a First Lady.  I'm trying to get a feel for their lives - and I'm also working on a project for my Masters program on First Ladies.  So you will see many NF book reviews on American Presidents and their wives over the coming months.  The first was posted 2 weeks ago, A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation by Catherine Allgor.  Check out the review if you haven't already.

Well I think that is all for now.  Have a great rest of the weekend!

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

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Audiobook Review: Perseus by Geraldine McCaughrean

Perseus by Geraldine McCaughrean
Book 2 of The Heroes series
Unabridged, 3 hr. 28 min.
Full Cast Audio
Cynthia Bishop & Full Cast (Narrators)
September 12, 2011
goodreads button

Genre: Greek Mythology, YA

Source: Received from publisher as part of Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer Program
“In this second of four books in Geraldine McCaughrean's Heroes series, following the acclaimed Odysseus, readers follow Perseus as he lives the fate the oracles have declared, an impossible quest to kill the hideous, snake-haired Medusa to save his mother from marriage to an evil king. A power struggle among the gods both hinders and helps him along the way, and Perseus manages to find true love when he rescues the breathtakingly beautiful Princess Andromeda from the horrors of a bloodthirsty sea monster in this entrancing retelling of the classic myth”.
First I should point out that this is not a novelization of the classic myth of Perseus but rather a retelling. We do not really get into the thoughts of anyone but instead follow the story of Perseus as he slays Medusa, takes down Atlas, fights various kings, saves a princess, and kills a sea monster (not necessarily in that order). This book really helped to flesh out my knowledge of Perseus – all I knew came from a video game that I had played where he was one of the heroes you requested to slay Medusa. As this is a retelling of a myth, I’m not going to critique the character or plot development. At 160 pages (the paperback version) I think that this is a pretty sufficient retelling – you don’t feel like you are losing out on anything.

There is one thing that irritated me throughout the story – all of the pantheon of gods were referred to by their Greek names (like Zeus, Hera, and Artemis) with the exception of one – Hades was constantly referred to as Pluto, his Roman equivalent. This broke the continuity for me and was frustrating. I think to stick with the Greek names would have made the most sense as the story is taking place in Greece.

While McCaughrean’s books are intended for a YA audience, Amazon suggests 4th – 8th grade, this was still the enjoyable read for an adult. It didn’t feel like the story had been watered down for youths.

I certainly am interested in checking out the other Heroes that she has written about.


This was one of the best audiobook productions I have listened to in awhile. As the name of the publisher suggests, this is a full cast production. You have a different actor for each character – even the minor ones. This really helps to flesh out the characters even more and gives a good feel for their personalities – especially the gods. The storytelling was well paced and dramatic. There were tiny musical interludes between chapters – it reminded me of harp and drum music. This just helped to break up the chapters and didn’t take away from the story – they were approximately 5 – 10 second clips. I would certainly listen to one of their productions again.

You can listen to a short sample of the audiobook below (links to Audible):

Play symbol 85x85

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Geraldine McCaughrean:

The other books in this series include:




Find Geraldine McCaughrean: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review: His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm

His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm
ARC, Paperback, 416 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
October 1, 2011
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the publisher for review
“The chilling story of Lucrezia de Medici, duchess to Alfonso d'Este, His Last Duchess paints a portrait of a lonely young girl and her marriage to an inscrutable duke. Lucrezia longs for love, Alfonso desperately needs an heir, and in a true story of lust and dark decadence, the dramatic fireworks the marriage kindles threaten to destroy the duke's entire inheritance–and Lucrezia's future. His Last Duchess gorgeously brings to life the passions and people of sixteenth-century Tuscany and Ferrara.”

The famous Robert Browning poem is getting quite the novel treatment these days – his first duchess, Lucrezia de Medici, and star of the poem, is featured in His Last Duchess by Gabrielle Kimm while his second duchess, Barbara of Austria, is featured in His Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas. His Last Duchess by Kimm does a wonderful job of taking what is given in the poem and building an entire world around it. Almost every detail that is given in the poem is integrated in some way. Even if you know the poem quite well you are still surprised at the twists and turns that are made throughout the novel. I loved the ending – you were not really sure what they were going to do next – the writing really kept you on the edge of your seat.

There is a small secondary storyline about a young girl that occasionally runs through the first half of the novel and then ties into the second half and becomes very important. I wish that during the first half it had been given a feel of some importance because I honestly had no idea of the point of this plot and blew it off to some extent. Another storyline that was added into the novel is the addition of the artists who create a fresco for Alfonso as well as the portrait of Lucrezia featured in the poem. I thought that this really helped to connect the actual portrait to the story from the poem. I also subsequently learned a lot about frescoes. Kimm provides vivid descriptions of the world around the characters so that you can see everything, including the artwork, in great detail.

A word of warning – there are many discussions of sex throughout the novel – between Alfonso and his wife as well as with his whore. Sometimes these can be somewhat graphic and very dark. I understand that this was to create the dark and twisted nature of Alfonso so that we can understand the decisions that he makes – however, I wouldn’t recommend this book to a young teen reader. I would say for those 16 and older.

There is an upcoming spin-off novel coming out based on Franchesca – Alfonso’s whore. While she was a well developed character in the novel, I don’t know that I felt enough about her to care to read her own novel

Gabrielle Kimm has a spin-off book coming out soon (releasing in the UK November 24, 2011) – The Courtesan’s Lover.  If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also  by Gabrielle Kimm

the courtesans lover
The Courtesan’s Lover

the girl with the painted face
The Girl with the Painted Face

playing a dangerous game
Playing a Dangerous Game

Find Gabrielle Kimm: Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two Sides to Every Story: Christopher Columbus - Hero or Brute?

Christopher Columbus: Hero or Brute

I have wanted to write this post for over a month now after having a conversation with a coworker about Christopher Columbus, however I decided to wait for much better timing – and what could be better than Columbus Day! This post is designed to look at the two sides of the mythic man of Christopher Columbus – was he this hero who “found” America and should be celebrated every October? or was there more to this man than meets the eye? There are two distinct versions of Columbus – the one we celebrate and the one that we do not learn about even in history classes.

Hero of Myth
Columbus Discovers America
John Vanderlyn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The man we celebrate is the one who persevered to get this expedition to the Indies funded by the Spanish monarchs, sailed his three ships across a lethal Atlantic Ocean, and who ultimately found the island of Hispanola (thinking it was the Indies) and claimed it for Spain. He is celebrated as a great explorer and someone whom we should remember with a day off from work or school.  He is the man of our "Creation Story".

Cutting off the hands of the natives
Theodor de Bry [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When we look a little closer at the real contributions of Columbus and his voyages we get to the grittier side. He didn’t really discover America – explorers had been dropping by for a long time before he arrived. He brought widespread death and destruction to the native populations from diseases, enforced slavery, and other brutal changes brought to their island. It is also believed that he was not even well liked by his own crews.

So how do we rectify these two very different men? If any of you are teachers, do you teach Columbus in class, and if so how? I’m just curious (when I was in grade school it was all celebrations and learning the rhymes and stories of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria sailing across the ocean to discover America. I think the only other thing I got was in high school when we had a new history teacher who actually talked of bringing over small pox). Does it make sense that we have a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Columbus? We currently only have federal holidays that celebrate individuals in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and Christopher Columbus – should we maybe substitute someone in place of Columbus to celebrate with an individual day? Who would you suggest?

If you are interested in a book that examines how textbooks teach about Columbus, you should check out Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen. He has a great chapter on Columbus and his voyages. This was one of the things that prompted this post. I do think that Columbus is someone that we should certainly teach about, however I think that we should give a better rounded lesson.

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court