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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Caught on Tape: Zelda & Scott Fitzgerald

caught on tape

This episode of Caught on Tape is focused on our first couple featured in this series – Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. We will not be looking at movie versions of any of their works, but instead films and such that are about the Fitzgeralds. I have always been interested in their relationship – and their life and times were certainly ripe for a drama! I can’t wait to see how they are portrayed on the screen.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

“Midnight in Paris is an American 2011 romantic comedy fantasy film written and directed by Woody Allen. Taking place in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight.” (from Wikipedia)

Ok, so the premise of the film sounds ridiculous, and come to think of it, I do not remember seeing it promoted anywhere (and it was only 2 years ago)! And the Fitzgeralds are not the main characters in the film, but they are an important aspect. Owen Wilson’s character, Gil, travels back to the 1920’s in Paris and he encounters, among others, Zelda and Scott who have an impact on his writing. From the small scenes I watched, I’m not sure the acting is that great, but the characters look pretty good. Zelda is played by Allison Pill (noted for her role in HBO’s The Newsroom) and Scott is played by Tom Hiddleston (Loki from Thor). The scene here is when Gil meets Zelda, Scott, and Ernest Hemingway for the first time.

Beloved Infidel (1959)

“Toward the end of his life F. Scott Fitzgerald is writing for Hollywood studios to be able to afford the cost of an asylum for his wife. He is also struggling against alcoholism. Into his life comes the famous gossip columnist.” (from Neflix).

Alright, I don’t really think that Zelda has a physical role in this film – but Scott does – and he is one side of this couple. While Scott and Zelda were married until Scott’s early death – toward the end of his life he was in Hollywood and Zelda was in an institution. Scott found a relationship with Sheila Graham. The film is based on the memoir written by Graham following Scott’s death. Gregory Peck plays Fitzgerald and Deborah Kerr is Sheila. Very typical style for the 1950’s/1960’s films – very dramatic.

Fitzgerald (2002)

AKA: Last Call

“Renowned writer F. Scott Fitzgerald is living the last months of his life with his youthful secretary, confidant, and protégé who later wrote a memoir of their time together” (from IMDB).

This is a Showtime presentation of (again) the later life of F. Scott Fitzgerald – however this time Zelda is in it. Scott is played by Jeremy Irons and Zelda is played by Sissy Spacek. From the preview – I think Zelda is more of an apparition of Scott’s mind – as he hadn’t seen her since he went to Hollywood. I think this was important to show how Scott was going down a mentally unstable path fueled by his alcohol usage. I’m not sure I like Irons and Spacek as these two – of all the actors who have played them I think they look least like the historical figures. Older than I would expect.

If you are interested in other films – those characterizing Zelda and Scott as well as those based on their works – you can check out the Scott and Zelda page. I wish I had been able to find more clips – but these were the best I could locate. There is another one that I wished I had been able to find the clip of, Zelda, a TV movie starring the late Natasha Richardson as Zelda, however, I couldn’t find any clips. Have you seen any of these films? I was impressed by the fact that a man of Peck’s caliber had played Fitzgerald.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: Z by Therese Anne Fowler


Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
E-book (kindle), 384 pages
St. Martin’s Press
March 26, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review from publisher via Netgalley request

“When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.”

I have to say that I was interested in this book from the first time I had heard about it. Zelda Fitzgerald was someone that I had heard mentioned on the periphery of my literature classes, but wasn’t someone that I knew much about beyond that she had some sort of mental issue. As with most historical figures – especially women – I have learned to expect that there is more than what is typically reported. This novel certainly explored the lesser known side of Zelda and showed her as a real person.

This story is told by Zelda looking back on her life after Scott passed away. Written this way, we get all of her hopes, fears, dreams, and a sense of who she was beyond the stylized flapper of the “lost generation”. While I didn’t always agree with the things she did, you could understand her motivations for the things she did. I also could really draw parallels between Zelda and Scott and Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchannan – which is the only Fitzgerald book I have read so far (although I intend to rectify that soon. This book also furthered my dislike of Earnest Hemingway – more than just disliking his writing.

I have always loved the time period in which this book is set and Fowler really evoked the wild lifestyle that the Fitzgerald’s and company engaged in: the drinking, the partying, and the carefree, entitled life. We spend time in Alabama, Paris, New York, Michigan, among other locales and each felt real and distinct.

I think the one thing that kept me from loving this book was the earlier chapters of Zelda’s life in Alabama. I felt that maybe there was too much time spent there and nothing really happened. I know that it was meant to show the stark difference between her early life and later life. It was just a little boring.

This is the author’s first published novel. You can visit Therese’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book? If you want to check out an audio preview, try this out.

You can also watch the book trailer below.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday #148


It’s that time again…Mailbox Monday time!!!

Things around here were slow mailbox wise – come to think of it, I didn’t get much mail at all!  My only book this week arrived on Saturday.


  • The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon – I read one of her earlier fairytale-inspired novels, Mermaid, and really enjoyed how she built up the world beyond what we traditional get from the fairytale.  In this one we get a look at Rapunzel and her growing up to become, of all things, Snow White’s step-mother.  This could get interesting…(received via the publisher for review).

That’s it for me, short and sweet – how about you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of July it is being hosted by Book Obsessed.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–July 2013

Suddenly Sunday

Good morning everyone!  I don’t think I have done one of these posts this month, so I may as well use it as a wrap up. 

It has been so incredibly crazy around here.  I have had crazy amounts of mandatory overtime which has left me working 10 hour days (+ 2 hours of driving) so I have been so exhausted when I get home and I haven’t done much in terms of reading this past week.  My grandmother passed away two weeks ago, so I had a weeks worth of family drama going on as well as a 9 hour drive to the suburbs of Pittsburgh for the funeral – only positive was finishing 3 books during the car ride (long overdue for review).  So if you have noticed I have been a little less than present (aside from my prescheduled posts), that is why.  I’m going to try to get a handle on my reader and responding to comments soon. 

I’m also going to try real hard to get back on the Weekend Cooking bandwagon.  Maybe a post later today – likely a historical cookbook review if I get the chance.  I always loved combining my interest in history/blogging/cooking and have missed it – but I haven’t even wanted to cook lately. 

Coming up this week should be my Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald spotlight posts – I’m looking forward to my Caught on Tape installment. 

I started watching the recent Lincoln movie starring Daniel Day Lewis – and I’m having a hard time getting into it.  I have stopped it twice and I’m only about halfway through.  I think the acting is good, but it’s just not catching my interest.  Any thoughts?

And last but not least, I have a giveaway winner to announce – the winner of The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage is…Kim@Time2Read!!! Congrats Kim!  I have sent an email to the winner already.  Thanks to everyone that entered.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Book Alert: Blood of Ancient Kings by V.J.O. Gardner

Blood of Kings eCover Layout

Blood of Ancient Kings
by V.J.O. Gardner
Paperback/Kindle, 378 pages
V&E Enterprises
ISBN: 1621540650
April 13, 2013

Book Blurb:

A medieval story of love, honor, and courage.

As a young prince grows up and advances through the military ranks, with his true identity unknown to his friends, he meets a young girl and they become friends. As the years pass their friendship blossoms into true love, knowing that she already has an arranged marriage and he being royalty most certainly has one as well, they still continue with their relationship. As their friendship progresses he must be courageous as he goes through many trials, testing his love for her, his loyalty to the kingdom, and in doing what’s right as an officer and a gentleman. The story spans multiple generations, their families deal with many problems, going from the pain of death, to the joy of birth as they feel the blood of the ancient kings running through their veins. 

The book was written with young adults in mind, however with no foul language, graphic sex or violence they are appropriate for reader’s as young as ten. The author allows the reader’s imagination to fill in between the lines with their own experience, so even parents and grandparents will enjoy them.

The story begins with King Burkhart, who is an evil tyrant of a king, holding his beloved wife and queen as she is dying from giving birth to his first born. Suddenly the door is kicked open! Colonel Langward from his own army, now fighting to take the kingdom from him, is standing there with his bloody sword in hand. As King Burkhart kneels at his conqueror’s feet hoping for death so he can join his beloved wife, his only true love, he hears the cry of his new born child! The new king has compassion and instead of killing him, allows him to live to raise his daughter but he must live among the very people he abused as king. He is given only what he can carry with him and taken to a small village. On his first night there he wakes to find the tiny house on fire. He grabs his infant and the bag with their few belongings only to find the door will not open, it’s blocked! He breaks through the door to find the enraged villagers that are burning the house, he runs trying to find a place to hide as he is pelted with rocks. He runs to a bridge over a brook and crawls under it, into to the mud to protect his infant knowing he must survive, if only for her. For the first time in his life he is truly afraid of death, but not for himself, for his daughter.

You can check out this book trailer if you want a little more inspiration:

Need some reviews?  How about Bookworm Babblings and Blog the Eclectic.

Book 2 is titled Quest of the King and Book 3 is titled Three Kingdoms of Alessandrine.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan


City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
ARC, Paperback, 355 pages
William Morrow Paperbacks
June 25, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review as part of TLC Book Tours

An uplifting, inspiring and heartwarming story of a woman truly ahead of her time, City of Hope is the heart-rending but inspiring follow-up to Ellis Island

It is the 1930s and when her beloved husband, John, suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York. She hopes that the city's vibrancy will distract her from her grief. But the Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable-gone is the energy and atmosphere of fun that Ellie fell in love with ten years before.

Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours all her passion and energy into running a home and refuge for the homeless. In return they give her the kind of love, support and friendship she needs to try and overcome her grief. Until, one day, someone she thought she'd never see again steps through her door. It seems that even the Atlantic isn't big enough to prevent the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.

City of Hope is the follow up to Ellis Island released in 2009. Again we see Ellie leaving Ireland behind to move to the Big City in America. Again we deal with some culture shock, but in a slightly different way that before because this time around Ellie is coming over as a wealthy woman to a Depression Era New York City. When we first begin to meet characters that we met in the first book I began to worry that it was going to be a sort of re-hash of the first book- however again I was surprised by the fact that I ended up getting a story I didn’t expect.

There is a LARGE cast of characters here – and while you may not remember who is who exactly, you get the feel of the large community that Ellie creates around her. Some characters came and went too abruptly for me to really connect with them or care about what ended up happening to them, but there were certainly those you could care about and connect with. Having such a diverse cast (diverse in SO many ways) allows there to be something for almost any reader. But Ellie is a hard character to read – I thought I knew where she was going but was disappointed with her choices toward the end of the book. I felt like everything had been leading up to this big decision and established the reader’s commitment to that decision and then she does a complete turn-around at the end – I’m not really sure she grew as a person after all of that. I don’t know that I was disappointed with her choice, per se, but more so with her wishy-washy-ness and how I felt that there was character development that didn’t really do much for me. I was actually really into Ellie’s story until about the last two chapters.

I enjoyed the new view on the Depression. Normally you see people really down on their luck, and you do see that here, but they actually try to find ways to build themselves out of it and the way they did so was interesting. The author creates a unique feel to the environment that they are living in.

The one thing I found hard to buy into was that Ellie has this endless supply of money from businesses that she built up in Ireland – but I didn’t really feel it was believable. How did what was considered a lot of money in a rural community in Ireland in pre 1930 equate to lots of wealth in New York City (even during the Depression the kinds of things she was buying would still have been expensive comparatively)?

I enjoyed the book, but wouldn’t say I loved it. I will likely read the upcoming third book because I want to know where her “big decision” ends up taking her – but I was sort of hoping it was going to resolve itself in book two.

Author Kate Kerrigan also has written Ellis Island and the third book in the series will be upcoming, Land of Dreams. Outside the series, Kerrigan has written Recipes for a Perfect Marriage. You can visit Kate Kerrigan’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

tlc tour host

You can check out the rest of the stops on the TLC Book Tour for City of Hope (I am the last stop I think).


Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore). 


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mailbox Monday #147


Another Monday (unfortunately), Another Mailbox (fortunately!).  Here is what I received this past week.


  • The Master of Verona by David Blixt – Another one of those tip-offs where I found out that this was free on Kindle on Amazon this past week.  Of course I snagged this one.  I read and reviewed another one of the books by this author, Her Majesty’s Will, earlier this year which I enjoyed.
  • Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber – This is the second book in the Lady Darby Mystery Series, and although I haven’t read the first book, I’m excited to read this one (received for review via the author who I met at HNS). 
  • A Break With Charity by Ann Rinaldi – Rinaldi was one of my FAVORITE authors growing up!  I read this book a LONG time ago and don’t really remember much about it, except remembering that I enjoyed it.  I have been wanting to re-read more of her works and as this came out on audiobook, I jumped on it (received download from the publisher for review, via Audiobook Jukebox).

What have you received this week?  Have you read or do you want to read any of the books I received?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of July it is being hosted by Book Obsessed.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Songs to Remember the Presidents

There are many mnemonic devices that we learn in school or make up to learn various difficult/tedious factoids – especially in history. One of those that plague many people is the list of US Presidents. Many of you, I am sure, have seen the Animaniacs Presidents song – which I am including below in case you have not… Here are the lyrics.

..but I’m willing to bet many of you have not heard these two presidential songs. Both of these are by Jonathan Coulton and I wouldn’t have heard of these songs, except that my fiancé is a fan of Coulton’s, and a lot of his stuff has grown on me – especially a couple of history songs.

First up, this one is called WashyAdJeffy. It is a real mnemonic device to remember the presidents. The idea is that you will learn not only the names of the presidents but also the number of terms for each. The number of syllables used for each name is the number of terms they served. Pretty cool. It only goes up to G. W. Bush as that was who was president at the time the song was written. Here are the lyrics.

The second song, also by Coulton, gives you a little tidbit about each of the presidents as well as naming them in order. This one is appropriately called, The Presidents. Its lyrics have changed slightly since it was first recorded and is performed with a variety of lyrics at live shows to include things that have happened since it was recorded (which was during G.W. Bush’s presidency). Here is one set of lyrics.

Hope you got a little chuckle out of these and maybe learned something from them. I will have the WashyAdJeffy song stuck in my head for the rest of the day now.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner


The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner
Book 2 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
Paperback, 352 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
July 16, 2013

goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction - Thriller

Source: Received for review from publisher as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Winter 1554. Brendan Prescott, spymaster to the Princess Elizabeth, has discovered that he is connected to the Tudors by blood as well as allegiance. Though his secret is known only by a few, it could be his downfall as he is called to London to protect the princess.

Accompanied by his young squire Peregrine, he reluctantly leaves his sweetheart Kate behind - but in the city he discovers that no one is quite what they seem. What fate does Queen Mary intend for her sister? Is Robert Dudley somehow manipulating the princess, even though he is locked in the Tower? And should Brendan trust the alluring Sybilla, Mary's lady-in-waiting, who professes to be on his side?

As he tries to unravel the mysteries of the Tudor court Brendan's life will be put in danger many times, and along the way he learns more about his own past.

If you remember, when I wrote my review of The Tudor Secret in February 2011, I crowed, “Best Book of 2011!”. While this may not be my #1 favorite of 2013, it will inevitably be within my top 5 reads this year (it will be hard to beat out my love for Roses by Leila Meacham which I read a few months ago). I’m always slightly hesitant when reading the second book in a series – especially when I really enjoyed book one – but I am pleased to say that there is no sophomore slump here.

While the plotline of this novel deals primarily with the Wyatt Rebellion, which I didn’t previously know much about, the heft of the emotional plotline is the backstory of our hero, Brendan. He learns a lot about himself throughout the span of these pages and really has to grapple with emotions and various questions of conscience. These events will change him as a character is some ways I’m sure.

There was great drama and pacing of the novel – which is a strength which the author does well. While we do get to spend time with some of the favorite characters from the prior novel, more time is focused on some newer characters. I was sad about this in some ways, but the characters are well developed and I enjoyed them just as much.

My only complaint was that at times it was difficult to remember which of his two identities, Brendan was at any given time; and further, who knows him as which name. I would hazard that the author found this to be a challenge as well. At one point, Queen Mary refers to Brendan as “Mr. Prescott” when all along she and 95% of the court have only known him as Daniel Beecham (pg. 74). As neither Brendan nor any of the other characters reacted to this incorrect name, I’m assuming that it wasn’t meant to be some sort of revelation.

Overall a great second book in this series and I can’t wait for more. Gortner makes the Tudor court once again new and exciting!

Author C.W. Gortner has written several biographical novels as well as book 1 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles, The Tudor Secret. You can visit the author’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

The Tudor Conspiracy Tour Banner

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the HFVBT website or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #TudorConspiracyTour.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Upcoming TV Show: Outlander

You may already know this, as this news has been out for a couple weeks now, but this is news to me.  Historical Fiction fans – your favorite series is becoming a television show on Starz in spring 2014. 



I have to admit, I haven’t had the chance to read any of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon yet – although I have had Outlander on my shelf for awhile now.  This is the opportunity for me to get this one read before the series premieres. 

You can read Diana Gabaldon’s post about the news for a summary.  You can also follow the lead up to the tv series in the following ways – on Twitter with the #OutlanderStarz or the account @Outlander_Starz – or on Facebook.

Are you excited? Will you watch?


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 15, 2013

Winners, Winners!!

Just a quick post to announce a couple winners.

The winner of Venus in Winter by Gillian Bagwell is…

Amy C!!!!


The winner of The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton and a Byzantine Coin is…

Linda B!!!


Congrats ladies!  I have already sent emails to the winners and they have 5 days to respond or new winners will be selected.  Prizes will be sent out by the author/publisher.

And thanks to everyone else who entered!  I still have a giveaway running for The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage which is open until July 28th.  You can still get in on some entries to win The Secret History by visiting other sites on the tour – check out the tour stops here.



Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #146


It’s Mailbox Monday time again – and this week my inbox received more love than my mailbox actually did.  Here is what I received this week:


  • Isle of Shadows by Tracy L. Higley – I got the tip off that this was on major sale on Kindle at Amazon, and I had been looking at her books for awhile, so I struck while the iron was hot (purchased).
  • Keowee Valley by Katherine Scott Crawford – I was intrigued by this novel because it is set during the colonial period of the United States and because there are Native American elements in the novel. (Received for review from the author via Netgalley).
  • In Defense of the Queen by Michell Diener – I have been looking at Diener’s novels for some time, now just seemed the right time to take on one of them.  Although this is the 3rd book in the series, I have heard that this is supposed to be able to stand alone. (Received for review from the author via Netgalley).
  • The Shogun’s Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland – I haven’t read very much at all set in any Asian countries.  This is set in 1700’s Japan and is the 17th book in a series!  Again, I have read that these can stand alone and I’m taking a chance on a culture/time/place that will be entirely new to me.  (Received via Netgally as part of HFVBT Tour).
  • The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie – I seem to be reading more historical mysteries lately and this is another one of those.  I met the author on the van to HNS and accept a review copy of this book.  This was my only physical book received this week.

What did you get this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of July it is being hosted by Book Obsessed.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, July 12, 2013

Interview with Anna Belfrage & Giveaway

Today I have the opportunity to welcome author Anna Belfrage to The Maiden’s Court.  I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing book 2 in this series, Like Chaff in the Wind, earlier this year and very much enjoyed it.  While this time around I didn’t have the time to commit to reviewing The Prodigal Son, I had several questions I wanted to ask the author.  So here is the interview and stay tuned at the end for a giveaway!

The Prodigal Son

Has writing always been something that you have wanted to do or was it a bug that bit you recently?

I began writing books the moment I figured out how to put pen to paper. Initially I spent more time illustrating than writing (mostly horses, knights, dragons, bloody swords and faraway castles. Not a princess in sight… At times my mother despaired, sighing that it would have been better had I been a boy) but over time words took over.

Mostly I wrote because I didn’t like how some of my favourite books ended, and so I decided to take over and improve on the author’s original idea. It became a bit complicated when I decided The Lord of the Rings needed a re-write…

So, the bug bit me ages ago, it still bites me, it still makes me itch all over and fills my life with so much pleasure!  

Do you have a set writing routine, or do you write whenever you find time?

I write when I can find the time. Working full time sort of makes it difficult to do otherwise. But I do have routines, like in the initial phase I will generally write quite a lot by hand, odd scenes, key words, etc. Once I have the story clear in my head I start writing for real – and halfway through I discover my characters have totally derailed the original plotline, forcing me to take a break and read up on cheese making in Holland in the 17th century, or on how best to travel from Copenhagen to Paris on 18th century roads.  

What has the writing and publication experience been like for you?  Have there been difficulties?

The writing experience is a delight – all the way from conception to editing. I am somewhat more ambivalent to the publication process – at times I find things quite daunting. I do, however, think that I made the right choice when I decided to self-publish as this allows the control freak in me to have a major say in everything from cover to font. That said, I have learnt a LOT from the professional team that has helped me with the actual pre-press and publication.

Why did you choose the time period that you did for your novels – beginning in 1658?

I am fascinated by the17th century, a final breaking point between the “old times” and the modern era. By the end of the century, the first Bill of Rights had been published, and most European states were leaving feudalism behind. It is also a period rife with religious conflicts, and as I find this a very interesting subject it made sense to set my book when I did.

Your books in The Graham Saga feature an element of time travel – why choose to tell the story with time travel and not as a straight historical?

I get that question from time to time, and while I don’t feel I had a choice – Alex is a very modern woman in how she thinks and speaks, has been that way since her inception – I also like the fact that by having her as my “representative” in the 17th century I can include the odd comment here and there as to what she perceives as totally unbelievable in this new life of hers. Plus I am genuinely interested in how people adapt to changed circumstances and yanking my main character three centuries backwards in time creates quite the challenging environment for Alex. I find it somewhat amusing that people will very often express that they are reluctant to change, that they prefer things to remain as they’ve always been. And yet all of us change – constantly – due to circumstances. We have to, in order to stay ahead. Alex has to cope with a more extreme situation than most of us do, and I must say she gets an A in change management. Luckily – as otherwise she would probably have been dead.

Your website indicates that there will be more books in the Saga.  Do you have a sense at this time of how many are planned to tell their story?  What are you currently working on?

In total The Graham Saga consists of eight books. My intention is to publish one more this year, three next year and the last one in the spring of 2015. The story is committed to paper – well, to computer – and while I have a lot of joyful editing and rewriting to do (I LOVE rewriting my books. I can immerse myself for hours in further polishing a crucial scene or tweaking dialogue or adding a new plotline, or… you get the picture, right?) I know how things will end and what adventures Matthew and Alex will live through before getting to that point. At times, Alex finds her life excessively exciting and rather exhausting. Tough, I say; that’s the price you pay for being lucky enough to fall through time and land at Matthew’s feet. For some strange reason she doesn’t always agree Smile.

Anna Belfrage

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she is multilingual and most of her reading is historical -  both non-fiction and fiction.
She was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career she raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays she spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

You can find Anna at her website for more information.

The Prodigal Son Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by either visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #ProdigalSonTour.

And now for your giveaway opportunity!  There is one paperback copy up for grabs and is open internationally.  The last day to enter is July 28th.  Entries are through the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Upcoming TV Show: Reign


It seems like there are a bevy of historical dramas coming to television in the next year – and here is another, coming to the CW Network, aimed at the teen scene.

Premiering October 10th will be a new drama series called Reign, which focuses on Mary, Queen of Scots during her time in France (at least this season). Here are the publicity notes:

Hidden between the lines of the history books is the story of Mary Stuart, the young woman the world would come to know as Mary, Queen of Scots. Queen of Scotland since she was six days old, the teenage Mary is already a headstrong monarch - beautiful, passionate, and poised at the very beginning of her tumultuous rise to power. Arriving in France with four close friends as her ladies-in-waiting, Mary has been sent to secure Scotland’s strategic alliance by formalizing her arranged engagement to the French king's dashing son, Prince Francis. But the match isn't signed and sealed: it depends more on politics, religion and secret agendas than affairs of the heart. Prince Francis is intrigued by the fiery Scot, but like most young men, he resists the idea of settling down into marriage, especially when he has a history with a lady of the court and his own point of view on the wisdom of an alliance with Scotland. Still, an attraction between Mary and Francis is ignited. Further complicating things is Bash, Francis' roguish half-brother, who has a history of his own - despite his illegitimate birth, Bash is his father's favorite. And now that Bash has caught Mary's eye, a royal triangle may be forming. While at French Court, fierce foes and dark forces conspire to sabotage Mary’s marriage to Francis and even threaten her life, until a mysterious shrouded guide becomes her ally. With danger and sexual intrigue around every dark castle corner, Mary rallies her ladies-in-waiting and steels herself, ready to rule the new land and balance the demands of her country and her heart.

The series stars Adelaide Kane (“Teen Wolf”) as Mary, Toby Regbo (“One Day”) as Prince Francis, Torrance Coombs (“The Tudors”) as Bash, Megan Follows (“Anne of Green Gables”) as Queen Catherine, Alan Van Sprang (“The Tudors”) as King Henry, Celina Sinden (newcomer) as Greer, Caitlin Stasey (newcomer) as Kenna, Anna Popplewell (“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”) as Lola, and Jenessa Grant (“Cyberbully”) as Aylee.

You might recognize a couple of the names and faces that are joining this cast – particularly Torrence Coombs, who played Thomas Culpepper in Showtime’s The Tudors, and Alan Van Sprang, who played Sir Francis Bryan in The Tudors.

I’m sort of anticipating a Gossip Girl set in the 1600’s but it might surprise me. From the video clips, I think that the music choices and look of the show might catch the attention of younger viewers. I have no idea how historically accurate it will be, but I will probably check it out – at least the premiere. I am a little impressed by someone other than a premium cable channel or the History channel taking on a show like this, but I’m curious as to how they arrived at this idea.

Here are some video clips:

This is the trailer -

This clip is a series overview-

If you are interested in keeping tabs on this show, you can follow on Facebook or Twitter.

What do you think? Will you watch?


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: The Royals by Leslie Carroll

the royals

The Royals by Leslie Carroll
Hardcover, 176 pages
September 22, 2011

goodreads button

Genre: Non-Fiction, Coffee Table Book

Source: Personal Collection

Since the Middle Ages, the lavish world of the English monarchy has fascinated the public. The Royals: The Lives and Loves of the British Monarchs uncovers the most colorful characters ever to wear the crown, from William the Conqueror, the Norman duke who invaded and took England as his own, to William of Wales, the second in line to the modern throne. Nearly 1,000 year of the British rulers are chronicled, including the notorious kings and queens of the Tudor dynasty, up to the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Beautifully illustrated, this visual history brings the royal family to life.  Includes removable reproductions of:

  • letters from Henry VIII's wives
  • the execution warrant for Mary, Queen of Scots
  • a ticket to Queen Victoria's Jubilee Ball
  • Edward VIII's official letter of abdication
  • the wedding program for Charles and Diana
  • and the official invitation to William and Kate's wedding

I picked up this book because I was interested in the reproductions that would be included. I knew most of the facts that were included in this book, but it is more of a coffee-table book rather than a deep non-fiction read.

I thought there was a great selection of members of the British royal family; while not every person is included, all of the time periods are represented here. Even though there were royals who were skipped, they were usually mentioned to some extent in either the preceding or succeeding chapters. I also enjoyed the fact that the modern royals were included, which are usually skipped over in chronologies.

The reproductions included were fun and it was exciting to look at each one. I appreciated the transcriptions of some of the documents because the handwriting was atrocious. I also would have liked something from any of the royals before Anne Boleyn as they didn’t appear until about halfway through the book and that was the purpose I purchased the book for.

I thought that the images were very nice reproductions which would look great on the coffee-table. Overall I found this book to be a quick, enjoyable experience and would recommend it to fans of the British royals.

Author Leslie Carroll also has written several other non-fiction books: Royal Affairs, Notorious Royal Marriages, Royal Pains, and Royal Romances. You can visit Leslie’s website for more information.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

This book is a Barnes & Noble exclusive.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mailbox Monday #145


Hello friends!  Just a quick, quick Mailbox Monday here. Only one item was received this week.


From the publisher for review I received The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn.  I can’t wait to read her take on the Borgias! 

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web . . .

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for pope—and passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the world of the Borgias: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the bodies begin to mount, Giulia and her friends must decide if they will flee the Borgia dream of power—or if they can even survive it.

What did you get this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of July it is being hosted by Book Obsessed.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–HNS 2013 Summary

Suddenly Sunday

Good-morning everyone! Hope you are all having a great weekend. Mine started out with an absolutely miserable Friday (with nothing going right). Saturday we went to Lake Compounce (a smaller Six-Flags type theme park) and baked out in the hot sun. I’m so glad that they have free fountain soda and water all day because we needed it. Today we will be having out with my parents whom I haven’t seen in forever while my dad does some maintenance on my car. All in all not a bad weekend.

I thought today would as good of a time as any to recount my experience at the Historical Novel Society Conference (over 2 weeks ago now! Where has the time gone?).

I left Hartford, CT around noon on Friday, June 21st and the flight was uneventful – just the way I like them. I arrive at Tampa around 3:30ish and caught my shuttle to the beautiful Hotel Vinoy in St. Petersburg. I had several other ladies going to the conference on my shuttle and we immediately started talking books. It was funny, as I was getting checked in for the shuttle, the lady behind the desk asked if I was going to the book conference, because she had so many people coming through who were and she wished me a fun time (which it was of course!).

As stated above, the Hotel Vinoy is gorgeous! Very Florida in every way- from the colors, the blown glass, veranda, etc. I was very pleased with the choice of venue for the conference. I had a large room all to myself that looked out the front entrance toward the bay – loved it!

Upon arrival at the hotel I quickly rushed up dropped off my stuff and changed because it was time for the meet and greet – and something to drink. It was great seeing old friends again, meeting new ones, and finally meeting people I feel like I have known forever! For the first time I met in person Audra from Unabridged Chick and Amy from Passages to the Past, although I have known these wonderful ladies virtually basically since I started blogging. We hit it off immediately and they are so awesome in person. Buffet dinner followed (I was STARVING by that point) and we had our first guest speaker – Anne Perry. I have to say that I know absolutely nothing about what she writes and I really couldn’t hear anything she said (I was sitting near the back and was having a horrible time with my ears still being pressurized from my flight) – but from what I have heard from others, she was great. After hanging out for a little while it was off to sleep sort of early because I was just exhausted.

Christy English, Myself, and Donna Russo Morin
Photo Credit: Amy @ Passages to the Past

Saturday was the day of panels – including my own, which due to my arrival time I hadn’t had a chance to go over with everyone, but received a quick rundown. I attended the following sessions: Depicting Religion in Historical Fiction; Writing about Women in History; and To Trump or Trumpet the History Police all before lunch. They were all fabulous – however I think I most enjoyed the History Police one. Lunch brought us C.W. Gortner as the guest speaker and he stole the show. For me, he was the best speaker of the bunch. He brought his witty nature to give a little insight and inspiration to up-and-coming authors.

After lunch it was my panel (eek!) – and of course I’m now in a panic! It got even worse when we went into our room and there was no table – just a projector, which wasn’t going to help us any. I started seeing visions of having to stand up like in high school to give a presentation. They hotel staff got us a table so we were able to start on time and we could all be nervous while sitting down. Oh, I forgot to mention that our panel was Virtual Salon: The Historical Fiction Blog. My co-panelists were Julianne Douglas from Writing the Renaissance; Deborah Swift, author and blogger at several blogs including The Riddle of Writing; Heather Webb from Between the Sheets, and Amy Bruno from Passages to the Past. We first covered the “triangle of blogging” – author, blog reader, and reviewer/blogger – then discussed some of the mechanics of blogging. My specific topics were: How to Measure Success of Your Blog and Blogging Etiquette (I will try to summarize my points in an upcoming post). We had a lot of good questions and received great feedback after the panel. I even heard that ours was a favorite! Yay!

HF Virtual Blog Panel
From Left to Right: Julianne Douglas, Deborah Swift, Amy Bruno, Me, Heather Webb
Photo Credit: Audra @ Unabridged Chick

After our panel I attended Off the Beaten Path: Reading and Writing Outside the HF Mainstream. Audra was a panelist on this one and of course had to stay to support her! Their panel was great and they gave us a list of great books “off the beaten path” and they are keeping the list updated online. Following the last panel of the day was an author book signing and I was good in that I only bought 3 additional books (to the 3 I received in the swag bag). I had the chance to talk with author Stella Duffy during this time (and then later on Sunday) and she is just so nice.

Dinner followed (the food all weekend was quite good) and another guest speaker – this time Steve Berry. I have to be honest – this was my least favorite guest speaker – by a long shot – and I think many others felt this way too. While the other speakers had been very inspirational and really knew their audience, Berry used his time more like a book talk at a library about his new book. Oh and don’t forget, he even states that he doesn’t write historical fiction – he writes modern thrillers that have some small historical thread. This time he chose to ply us with the: Queen Elizabeth died as a young woman and a man replaced her on the throne – which you can imagine went over well with this crowd. Following that, was the costume pageant hosted by the indomitable Gillian Bagwell as Lady Rivers (the fashion critic). Everyone went out of their way with the costumes and were all fabulous – but the best was the very pregnant Vestal Virgin (Teralyn Pilgrim) and the comedy that ensued was just hilarious. I stayed for some of the Late Night Sex Scenes readings but by 11 I was again exhausted and went off to bed.

vestal virgin
Winning Costume: Pregnant Vestal Virgin
Photo Credit: Heather Webb

Sunday was a quick breakfast and two more panels (there were three, but I skipped out on the last one to get packed and check out). I attended Historical Fiction: The American Experience (which I very much enjoyed since it is one of my favorite sub-genres and met author Jodi Daynard who chatted with me about her book and our mutual appreciation of Abigail Adams) as well as Foreign Language, Slang, and Dialect in Historical Fiction which I found boring but aspiring writers might have found some useful information. I think my problem was that the panelists all seemed to contradict each other.

As the official conference closed I met up with Audra, Sarah from Reading the Past, and Meg from A Bookish Affair and we had lunch and chatted about blogging, books, etc. Great fun with these ladies! Then just before I left the hotel I grabbed some gelato with Meg, Teralyn, and two others whose name I unfortunately did not get. Great experience, however bad decision for my sometimes lactose intolerance just before a plane ride. I was sad to leave behind these great friends and great fun but I know I will keep in contact with many of them online and see them again in 2015 – because barring a disaster I will be there again!!

And a couple of clean-up things:

  • I want to thank the HNS 2013 committee for deciding to have a panel about blogging – I think a lot of people really took a lot of information away from it. And I want to thank them for inviting me to be a panelist. It was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
  • If you didn’t get to go to the conference, they recorded audio of all of the sessions and you can purchase recordings online.
  • Julianne and Heather Webb both composed summaries of their topics from our panel which you can read by clicking their names above.
  • I wasn’t very good about Tweeting about the conference – there was very spotty wireless service – but Audra has compiled a summary of the conference in Tweets which you might find interesting. You can also use the hashtag #HNS2013 on Twitter to follow all the tweets from the conference.
  • Again, thank you to all the wonderful people that made this conference a wonderful experience. A special shout out to my blogging friends who made the weekend!

My HNS Badge
Photo Credit: Me

Hope you all have a great rest of your weekend!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court