I am no longer an Amazon Associate. I am currently working on updating my posts with links to various locations to buy books. One of the links I am including is to RJ Julia - this is my favorite local independent book store. You can shop their store online and have access to pretty much anything you are looking for. I do not have any affiliation with any of these sites - just looking to support my local indie book store.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday #180


Another edition of Mailbox Monday on any day of the week that isn't a Monday.  Just a few to share this week.

allgoodwomenjulietsnursenapoleon a lifeTiger Queens Covervictoria a lifethe king's curse

All of these books were received for review from the publishers or tour coordinators:

  • All Good Women by Valerie Miner (received via Netgalley) - excited for this one.  4 women in the days leading up to WWII.  Sort of reminds me of Next to Love by Ellen Feldman which I enjoyed.
  • Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen (audio download received from publisher) - already read this one (before this posting) and it was GOOD!  Some serious backstory to Romeo and Juliet.
  • Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (hardcover received from publisher) - beautiful hardcover book.  Napoleon isn't one that I have enjoyed HF about, but I am curious about him and this book is based on his papers that were recently released.  A chunkster.
  • The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton (received from publisher) - can't wait to dig into this one!  I have loved the 2 Thornton novels I have read so far and haven't read anything about Ghengis Khan.
  • Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson (hardcover received from publisher) - beautiful, beautiful hardcover book!  So excited to read this one as I haven't read any NF about her before.  A chunkster.
  • The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory (audio download received from publisher) - I haven't read Philippa Gregory in a while, and I haven't managed to read any of her Cousin's War books yet, so why not start with the newest one and work my way backward?

What did you get this week?  Anything good?


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 20, 2014

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


The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
Book 3 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
ARC, E-book, 304 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
October 21, 2014
★★★★ ½☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction - Thriller

Source: Received for review from publisher as part of HFVBT tour

“Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen's behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry's disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth's doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.”

The first two books in the Elizabeth I Spymaster series I ate right up – amazing as they were. I took The Tudor Vendetta with me on my recent vacation and finished the whole thing on the flight! Yes, it is that good (the flight wasn’t that long)! While the third book might wrap up the trilogy (please write some more stories for Brendan!) it blazes ahead at the same speed as its predecessors to a satisfying conclusion.

As is the case with Gortner’s novels, the characters are so lifelike and real you can envision yourself in their shoes or encountering them in some dark alleyway. They pull at your heartstrings or make you incredibly angry with their actions. As Brendan is employed by Cecil, he is always right in the thick of some intrigue, danger, or otherwise shady circumstance. Brendan is a true HF hunk.

As has been the case with the drama Brendan has been tied up with in the past, what he faces here is not a plot twist that I saw coming. Gortner does a great job of grounding the plot in historical reality, but also playing with some of the rumors and scandals from the Tudor era to add some depth to the intrigue. Certainly plausible, definitely entertaining.

I’m saddened that we have reached the end of the Spymaster trilogy, but the novel closed with what isn’t a definitive ending, so I hope someday to be treated to more of the thrill that this series is.

Author C.W. Gortner also has written The Tudor Secret (book 1) and The Tudor Conspiracy (book 2) among other novels. You can visit Gortner’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).

tudor vendetta tour

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

There is also a tour wide giveaway (it is being hosted on all the blogs on the tour and the winner will be selected by the tour coordinator).   It's a pretty epic giveaway too, for a complete set of the Spymaster Trilogy!! Get your entries in!  Here are the rules:

  • Open to residents of the USA
  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
  • Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen
  • Entries are made through the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Couple Winners

Good evening all.  I have two giveaway winners to announce tonight - one is a long time in coming because I didn't realize that I had never selected a winner.  Surprise when I went into Rafflecopter for the giveaway that I was expecting to select a winner for!  Oops!


The winner of the giveaway for Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll is...Bethany!!


The winner of the giveaway for Madame Picasso by Anne Girard is...Kim!!


Congrats ladies!! Emails have been sent out to both winners.  Thanks to all that entered.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis

dont know much about am pres

Don’t Know Much About The American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis
Unabridged, 23 hr. 52 min.
Random House Audio
Arthur Morey, Kirby Heyborne, and Mark Bramhall (Narrators)
September 18, 2012

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Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Purchased audiobook through Audible

"Which president broke the law to prevent enslaved people from being freed? Who said, "When the president does it,that means it's not illegal"? Why does America have a president? From the heated debates among the framers of the Constitution in 1787 over an "elected king," to the creation of the presidency, and on through rich profiles of each man who has held the office, New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis takes readers on a guided tour of American history. Examining each chief executive, from the low lights to the bright lights, the memorable to the forgettable and the forgotten, Davis tells all the stories, offering rich anecdotes about real people. He also charts the history of the presidency itself, debunking myths and grading the presidents from A+ to F. For history buffs and history-phobes alike, this entertaining book may change your understanding of the highest office in the land throughout more than two hundred years of history."

After having enjoyed the initial installment of the Don’t Know Much About… series I was excited to read Kenneth C. Davis’ take on the American Presidents. Davis breaks his narrative down into three major sections: The Making of the President; Presidential Profiles; and What Should We Do With the President?. The first section focuses on what the Constitutional framers intended the role of the President to be (or not be). The second, and admittedly where the bulk of the book takes place, is a look at each individual President and a grading/ranking of their place in American history. The final section is a wrap up that looks at where the role of the President goes from here. A complete, well-rounded view of the presidency.

The first and final sections were utterly forgettable – honestly, I didn’t pay any attention to these sections. The main action transpires in the individual biographies of the Presidents, from George Washington up through the first term of Barack Obama. If you have read widely within the Presidential biography realm, there wasn’t much new material presented here; a general scope of their presidencies. What was interesting for me was to read about some history that I have actually lived through with regard to the late 1980’s through the present. There were some great appendices presented at the back of the book as well. Short on time? Check out the Milestones in each President’s life at the beginning of each chapter or the Milestones in the Presidency of each Presidents as the chapter wrap up.

Davis presents his content in his traditional, easy to digest, question and answer format. Ultimately if you are in the market to learn a little something about each of the Presidents, this could be the book for you.



The three narrators were presented in the same manner as his prior book. There is one narrator for the questions, one for the answers, and a third who reads the other material. This worked well for the style of the material being presented and the change of narration kept it from being monotonous.

Author Kenneth C. Davis also has written the following for adults: Don’t Know Much About the Bible, Don’t Know Much About the Civil War, Don’t Know Much About Geography, Don’t Know Much About Mythology, and Don’t Know Much About History. He also has a series of books for kids focused on specific topics such as the Pilgrims or Space. You can view the whole children’s list here. You can visit the author’s website for additional information about the book. Check out this audio excerpt.

My reviews of other books by this author:

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


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 13, 2014

Interview with Kari Edgren

Good morning everyone!  If you have this Columbus Day off I hope you are enjoying it and have great weather.  Today I have the opportunity to welcome Kari Edgren, author of Goddess Born, to The Maiden's Court.  Please take a minute to read the interview and welcome her!



Your novel, Goddess Born, seems to encapsulate a lot of different, seemingly distinct, concepts – Celtic goddesses, the Quakers, 1700’s Colonial America – how did you bring all of these ideas together when conceiving your novel?

Goddess Born is a blended genre of romance, historical, and fantasy. The story took its first breath while I watched my son run up and down a lacrosse pitch, alternating between passing a hard rubber ball and beating the opposing players with a metal stick. During one particularly long game, I found myself thinking about the ancient Celts, most likely because they also had a tendency to hit each other with sticks. The fantasy element came somewhere near halftime on the heels of another random thought that went something like, “it would be so cool to have a superpower.” The connection came to me at once: Celt + superpower = descendant of the Tuatha Dé. It just went from there, and by the end of the game I had the backbone for Goddess Born.

It took a few more weeks to decide the exact setting and time period, and I finally ended up in 1730 Pennsylvania for several reasons: I love American Colonial history, the story needed an indentured servant and be set when there was still a risk of a witchcraft accusation, and I didn’t want to butt up against the Revolutionary War. As for the Quakers, it would have been impossible to write about Colonial Pennsylvania without including them as they founded the Colony in 1681 and made up a good portion of the population.

If you had to describe your novel with one sentence – how would you describe it to someone that doesn’t know anything about it?

Goddess Born is NA Historical Romance with a paranormal twist.

When you are supposed to be writing or otherwise working on your novel, what is the biggest distraction for you?

Research! I love to research and can spend hours at a time doing it. I may start off looking for mid eighteenth century transatlantic sailing times and two hours later be reading about paste-on mouse fur eyebrows or mouth plumpers. For the Goddess Born series, I accumulated a library of 60+ books, and wouldn’t know where to even start for an estimate of time spent on the Internet for additional research.

What has the publishing process been like for you?  Have you found anything particularly challenging or surprisingly easy?

A crazy long road with lots of ups and downs—so fairly typical! For 99% of authors, publishing comes after an inordinate amount of rejection, letdown, and waiting. Months and months of waiting. The hardest part has been the story’s blended genre, as it made it more difficult to ‘shelf’. The surprisingly easy part for me was getting over the rejection. If anything, it helped me become a better writer.

I see that this is to be a trilogy, is it a safe bet to guess that those books are what you are currently working on? Or are you working on something else?

The second book is in final edits with Carina right now and I’ve got two scenes left in the third book before that goes off to my editor—so yes! I am still living, breathing Goddess Born everyday.

Can you tell us anything about the trilogy?

In book two, A Grave Inheritance, Selah’s trades the Colonies for England where she will face both the nobility and an ancient enemy of the Goddess Born. Book three moves to Ireland and that’s all I can say for now without giving too much away. And of course, there will be lots of Henry and Selah in both books.

Thank you for hosting me today!


Kari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist. Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there’s a spark of paranormal. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.

For more information please visit Kari Edgren’s website. You can also find her at the following sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign Up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, Carina Press.

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Book Blurb:

1730 Pennsylvania

The power to heal is her divine gift—the fear of discovery, her mortal curse.

Selah Kilbrid is caught between two worlds. A direct descendant of the Celtic goddess Brigid, she is bound by immortal law to help those in need. Yet as a human, she must keep her unique abilities hidden or risk being charged as a witch. The Quaker community of Hopewell has become a haven for religious freedom—and fanaticism—and there are those who would see her hanged if the truth were revealed.

For eighteen years, Selah safely navigates the narrow gap between duty and self-preservation—until the day an ambitious minister uncovers her secret. Already tempted by Selah’s large estate, he soon lusts for her power as well, and demands marriage in exchange for his silence.

Terrified, Selah flees to Philadelphia where she strikes a deal with an arrogant stranger. It doesn’t matter that she suspects Henry Alan harbors his own dark secrets. Once he agrees to the scheme, Selah refuses to look back. But as unseen forces move against her, she’s unsure which poses the greater danger—a malignant shadow closing in from outside or the fire that threatens to consume her heart.


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


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 10, 2014

Movie Review: Braveheart


Icon Productions
177 mins.
May 24, 1995
Rated: R

This movie was one of those that I remember my grandmother frequently watching when I was young, however I had never found any reason to watch it myself. A month or so ago it was on T.V. and I decided that since I had nothing better to do I would watch this film…finally.

The story told had all the makings of an epic drama – man falls in love, man loses love, man goes to war in an effort to get retribution for his lost love and in doing so becomes the leader of a revolution. I’m not a Mel Gibson fan, but I loved his portrayal of William Wallace here. He was equal parts angry, passionate, and committed to his cause. There are so many scenes that vividly stand out to me from this film – the great clash of armies on the battlefield, Mel Gibson with his blue painted face, and the death scene just to name a few. Everything looked beautiful – being primarily filmed in Scotland and Ireland the setting sure felt absolutely evocative of the world these events transpired in.

Oh and just to mention, this movie is quite violent - in the medieval style, but violent none the less.

This film is said to be loosely based on the poem The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie. That being said, those epic poems told by the minstrels and poets were always elaborated on with creative license for the sake of entertainment, and I think it is in that light that this film should be viewed. Now, I have absolutely no knowledge about the uprising of William Wallace and the Scots against the English King Edward I, so I can’t speak to that end myself. According to various websites, they played loose and fast with the history. This was actually the first time I had ever heard of the man, but have since seen him popping up in various places. If nothing else, it led me to go and look up more about his man and his time.

However, all of this still turned out to be a fabulously entertaining medieval historical drama that I would watch again for sure.

The clip below is one of the iconic scenes of William Wallace leading the men into battle:


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Movie Review: La Banda Picasso


La Banda Picasso (aka. Picasso’s Gang)
Fernando Colomo Producciones Cinematográficas S.L.
101 mins.
January 25, 2013
Rated: PG-13 (my personal rating)

I decided to watch this film because I had seen the trailer for it while looking up films about or featuring Picasso. The film is described as a comedic crime film – focusing primarily on theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. The trailer made the film look to be a lighthearted caper and drew me in based on that. Despite how foreign films can require a lot of concentration and feel heavier because of the need to focus (if you are unfamiliar with the language) I expected this film to have a lighter feel to it.

As I have learned, sometimes the segments shown in the trailers are really the only “good” parts of the whole movie. I didn’t find the film to be comedic at all, not even in the vaguest sense. The plot felt very heavy and plodding. If I had to classify it, I would have called the film more of a drama – and not a crime drama like that label would lead you to believe.

The acting was good – I thought they all had a pretty decent chemistry considering they are supposed to be a tight band of friends. I didn’t feel that I really got to know the characters, but that could have been due more to the fact it wasn’t in my primary language and I spent most of the time reading the subtitles rather that getting the feeling behind the words.

If you like foreign films, and particularly if you are fluent in French, I would say this film might be worth the watch. If you don’t have any knowledge of French, you might have a hard time getting the feel of the film through the subtitles.

Check out this trailer:



Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court