*UPDATE*

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!


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Friday, March 24, 2017

Cover Crush: Badlands

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

badlands

Well this cover says a lot of things to me:

  1. It is a western
  2. It is related to the medical field somehow
  3. And there is a woman on the move

I love how the blue colors of the sky blend into the woman’s dress and contrast so vividly with the golden hues of the grasslands.  And how the woman’s hair matches the grasslands and ties the top with the bottom. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: 2 Kids and Tired Books; Flashlight Commentary; A Bookaholic Swede; A Literary Vacation.

keep calm and support book bloggers

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Book Alert: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

the confessions of young nero

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
Book 1 in the Nero Series
e-Book, Hardcover, Paperback; 528 pages
Berkley Books
ISBN: 0451473388
March 7, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
goodreads button

 

Book Blurb:

THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO takes readers through the early life of Rome’s infamous Nero. Through the machinations of his mother, Agrippina the Younger, Nero became emperor at the age of sixteen, the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. But the road was a frightening one.  The young boy, an intelligent, sensitive and watchful child, had a series of psychological shocks from an early age.  His cruel uncle Caligula and his scheming cousin Messalina threatened his life, and his domineering and ambitious mother Agrippina married and poisoned two men en route to securing the throne for her son. Agrippina viewed Nero’s power as an extension of her own will. But once on the throne—like the teenage boy he was—Nero did not want to take orders from his mother.  Soon the world was not big enough for the two of them. Thereafter he was remembered as a hedonist and tyrant who “fiddled” while his people burned. But the truth behind the caricature, revealed here, shows Nero to be instead a product of his mother’s relentless ambition, and the incest, violence, luxury, and intrigue that have gripped Rome’s seat of power for generations.

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


Praise for The Confessions of Young Nero

The Confessions of Young Nero is a wonderful novel, one of Margaret George’s finest. Her rich, vivid descriptions and keen insight into human nature bring ancient Rome to life as only the very best historical fiction can. Readers will be enthralled from the riveting first scene to the breathtaking finale.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Traitors and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

“Absolutely spellbinding! The magic Margaret George weaves with her latest novel, The Confessions of Young Nero, leaves the reader feeling as if they’ve been transported more than two thousand years into the past. Margaret George is a masterful storyteller, and every character in The Confessions of Young Nero leaps from the page. A truly wonderful read!”—Michelle Moran

“With her signature style and keen eye for research, Margaret George frees Nero from lurid legend, resurrecting the fearsome, often misunderstood emperor in all his glory, forsaken innocence, and fallible humanity. From a curious boy overshadowed by his mother’s malignant ambitions to a gifted youth enamored of the arts and obliged to take the throne, young Nero leaps to life in this vivid, unforgettable confessional of his early life and first years as emperor. Set against a backdrop of ancient splendor and decadence, The Confessions of Young Nero is the triumphant return of one of our finest living writers of historical fiction—the engrossing tale of Nero’s gradual surrender to absolute power, and his struggle to retain his soul as he becomes Imperial Rome’s most notorious ruler.” – C.W. Gortner, author of The Vatican Princess

About the Author:

margaret george

Margaret George writes biographical novels about outsized historical characters: Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalene, Helen of Troy, and Elizabeth I. Her latest, The Confessions of Young Nero, will be published in March. All six of her novels have been New York Times bestsellers, and the Cleopatra novel was made into an Emmy-nominated ABC-TV miniseries.

She especially enjoys the research she has done for the novels, such as racing in an ancient Greek stadium, attending a gladiator training school in Rome, and studying the pharmacology of snake poison.

Find Margaret George: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

You can watch this video of Margaret George discussing the defining moments in Nero’s life:

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Review: The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie & Giveaway

enemies of versailles

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie
Book 3 in the Mistresses of Versailles Series
ARC, e-book, 416 pages
Atria Books
March 21, 2017
★★★½☆☆
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received via Netgalley for Review with TLC Book Tours

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches inevitable revolution.

I have been fascinated with Christie’s Mistresses of Versailles series since the first pages of The Sisters of Versailles. French history in general is an area that I am not as familiar with and therefore the stories are always new and exciting. While I still found many of the things that I enjoyed about the prior novels in the series, Enemies of Versailles didn’t carry quite the same level of feelings that I had for the first two books. Let me explain.

In both The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles, the women featured were all lovers of the King. This lent the chapters a competitive nature and added to the scandal that it was of the time. The Enemies of Versailles pits du Barry, his last lover, against his eldest daughter, Adelaide, and then to some extent the dauphine and later Queen, Marie Antoinette. Understandably, there is a very different dynamic at play here; at the very least they are fighting over very different types of love and power. This wasn’t as compelling a driving force for me as had been previously. It was a different kind of rivalry than I had come to expect from this series that wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

Additionally, I couldn’t help but take the side of du Barry (because you always pick a side in these types of stories). While she was the King’s lover and raised up from the gutter, she was for the most part kind and easy to read her way of thinking in her chapters. Adelaide was more difficult. Her frustration with du Barry all was because of simply her role as the lover of her father was a sin and she wanted to bring him back to the right side of God. It truly felt like a little girl not getting her way, which wasn’t cute on like a 50 year old woman. She was vindictive and conniving, yet she was supposed to be above everyone else. So ultimately I enjoyed the du Barry chapters more. One thing that I did enjoy was when Adelaide was with her whole bevy of sisters. There interactions reminded me of that of the Nesle sisters from The Sisters of Versailles; the backbiting, the one-up-manship, etc.

This book presented a different view of Marie Antoinette as well. Typically books about her feature her as a central character and we see her in a sympathetic light, or juxtaposed against the view of her from the common people. This was interesting to see how the two factions, du Barry and Adelaide sort of fought for control over her when she first came to court. She is a more minor figure in this story, but she is still used as a tool in the battle between the women. I actually enjoyed her portion of the story, even seeing her in a different way.

Overall, this was a good read, but not my favorite of the whole series.


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


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


Also by Sally Christie:

the sisters of versailles
The Sisters of Versailles
(Book 1)
[My Review]

the rivals of versailles
The Rivals of Versailles
(Book 2)
[My Review]

Find Sally Christie: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest


Giveaway!

As part of the tour, I have the opportunity to giveaway one copy of The Enemies of Versailles to a reader from the USA or Canada.  Entries can be made via the Rafflecopter form below!  The giveaway will run until March 29th, 2017.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Follow the Tour:

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On TLC Book Tours Website

Monday, March 6th: Books Without Any Pictures

Tuesday, March 7th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, March 8th: Reading Reality

Friday, March 10th: Books à la Mode – Spotlight/Feature

Monday, March 13th: Historical-Fiction.com

Tuesday, March 14th: From the TBR Pile – Spotlight/Feature

Wednesday, March 15th: Let Them Read Books

Thursday, March 16th: Scandalous Women

Friday, March 17th: BookNAround

Monday, March 20th: Books ‘n Tea

Monday, March 20th: An Accidental Blog

Tuesday, March 21st: Read Love Blog – Spotlight/Feature

Wednesday, March 22nd: The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 23rd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Monday, March 27th: Must Read Faster

Tuesday, March 28th: Hoser’s Blook

Thursday, March 30th: Dreams, Etc.

Friday, March 31st: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Spotlight/Feature

Monday, April 3rd: A Holland Reads – Spotlight/Feature

Wednesday, April 5th: Becky on Books

Friday, April 7th: A Literary Vacation

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cover Crush: The Baker’s Secret

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the baker's secret

This cover evokes what I feel the book is about based on the book description: a baker who makes 2 extra baguettes for the poor/hungry/resistance during WWII from rations that are supposed to go to the occupying force.  There are the 2 signifying baguettes and I love the simplicity of the window and bike. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Bookaholic Swede, A Literary Vacation, 2 Kinds and Tired Books.  

keep calm and support book bloggers

 

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Review: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

the orphans tale

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
ARC, e-book, 368 pages
MIRA
February 21, 2017
★★★★★
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received via Netgalley for Review with TLC Book Tours

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival .

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

I had previously read another novel by Jenoff, The Ambassador’s Daughter, and while I had some quibbles with it, I enjoyed the novel enough to be extremely intrigued when I saw The Orphan’s Tale pop up on my radar. I am pleased to say that I LOVED this book and it will definitely be on my top list at the end of the year.

The Orphan’s Tale struck a note for me right from the start that is guarantee to hook me: a story set in/around a circus during WWII. I enjoy reading WWII novels, especially those that are not set on the battlefield and explore little niche areas. The circus was not something I had really ever thought about as existing outside of the United States and certainly not within the realm of the War. I thought that it was fascinating to see how the War affected the circus – some folded and some continued on in some capacity at the mercy of the Third Reich, but they were always at risk of search and closure. There was a desperate feel as they tried to put on a show and entertain the people, but always knowing that anything could happen at any time. That feeling definitely permeated much of the story. It is also clear that the author spent a lot of time understanding the circus and this felt very real and was not just used as a backdrop for a story. It was very much a living character with a life of its own.

Throughout the story I kept harkening back to two books that I felt had much in common with this one: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Circus Fire by Stewart O’Nan. Both of these books (the former a novel and the latter non-fiction) involve circus disasters as their central focal point, and while that might not be quite the same in The Orphan’s Tale, there is the feeling of impending disaster that will come at some point, and it does, which brought both of those circus disasters (both real and fake) to mind. More directly, the way The Orphan’s Tale is framed, an elderly individual going to great lengths to attend a circus exhibit and then share their tale, immediately connected me to Water for Elephants, and that prior reading experience possibly colored how I perceived the character in this novel. It was an interesting exploration of how a prior experience can affect how you connect with a book and I would love to talk with someone who had not read Water for Elephants previously and see if they had the same experience that I did.

At its heart, this is a story of relationships in the very worst situations. While there are a couple romantic relationships, it really is about friendships. How those change and evolve over time, how people act under stressful situations, how friendship can take on different meanings, and how someone can be so critical in your life at the right time – all these are explored within this novel. Noa and Astrid are the two main characters whose perspective we see the world from and they are both coming from very different worlds, but are very similar in some ways. Their courage in the face of disaster ties them together, but their differences in past experience and secrets they have keep them at odds with each other. As a reader you go through a push-pull of emotions, at times seeing the perspective of one and then the other, which keeps you on your toes.

There was one element that I didn’t completely buy into and that was the frame for the story. It begins and ends set in the present with a character (who you don’t know who it is at the opening of the novel, but it is revealed at the end) who travels to an event held to remember the circus. This event and the artifacts there mean a lot to this person as they are trying to figure something out that they have clearly held on to for a long time. I changed my mind several times throughout the reading as to who this person was, and boy was I wrong! That is one thing that Jenoff carries off here that I also applauded in my review of The Ambassador’s Daughter, the ability to keep the reader off the track and then surprise them with a shocking revelation. I didn’t find this character totally believable in the driving reason to seek out this event and to try to reconnect with the past. I also struggle with the title and how that plays into who the bookending character is. It felt as if a different character being the focus of the present day storyline would have been more appropriate and make more sense in the larger scope of the story.

However, overall the story worked for me. I will admit to shedding a few tears as well toward the end of the book, which is difficult for a novel to achieve.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Also by Pam Jenoff:

the kommandats girl
The Kommandant’s Girl

the diplomats wife
The Diplomat’s Wife

the ambassadors daughter
The Ambassador’s Daughter

[My Review]

the things we cherished
The Things We Cherished

the winter guest
The Winter Guest

almost home
Almost Home

the last summer at chelsea beach
The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

a hidden affair
A Hidden Affair

the other girl
The Other Girl

the last embrace
The Last Embrace

Find Pam Jenoff: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Follow the Tour:

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On TLC Book Tours Website

Monday, February 20th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, February 20th: Barbara Khan

Tuesday, February 21st: Savvy Verse and Wit

Wednesday, February 22nd: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Thursday, February 23rd: West Metro Mommy

Friday, February 24th: Reading is My SuperPower

Friday, February 24th: A Bookish Affair

Monday, February 27th: Building Bookshelves

Monday, February 27th: Just Commonly

Tuesday, February 28th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, March 1st: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, March 1st: Susan Peterson

Thursday, March 2nd: A Literary Vacation

Friday, March 3rd: Cindy Burnett

Monday, March 6th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, March 6th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, March 7th: The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, March 8th: The Romance Dish

Thursday, March 9th: Just One More Chapter

Friday, March 10th: Suzy Approved

Monday, March 13th: Reading Reality

Monday, March 13th: Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, March 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, March 15th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, March 16th: The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 17th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, March 20th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, March 21st: Write Read Life

Wednesday, March 22nd: 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, March 23rd: Silver’s Reviews

Friday, March 24th: Not in Jersey

Friday March 24th: SJ2B House of Books

Tuesday, March 28th: Travelling Birdy

 

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Top 5: My Favorite Series

IMG_20161129_205630_210000

I realized that I only make lists at the end of the calendar year when I’m looking back at what I have accomplished, but there are so many other times when a list of awesome things would be appropriate.  I know I’m always finding cool bookish things that I want to share with you all, so I’m starting this Top 5 series to highlight some of those items.  I read a lot of series, so I thought it would be cool to explore what my top 5 series are, and I did limit myself to those in the historical fiction genre only.

5. The Little Season by Kasey Michaels

the little season

Experience the drama of the Little Season in the first of a NEW trilogy in which three dashing war heroes have finally met their matches...

I have read all three books in this series (I kept thinking there was supposed to be 4, so now I’m a little disappointed!)  This is a historical romance where each book focuses on a different couple.  I loved the wit with which Kasey Michaels writes her characters and their situations.  This is the series that got me interested in historical romance.

My Reviews:

More about the Little Season series, to include excerpts from all 3 books, can be found here. 

4. Montana Gallaghers by M.K. McClintock

montana gallaghers

Adventure, danger, and timeless love—a series about a frontier family's legacy, healing old wounds, and fighting for the land they love.

While technically a historical western romance series, this is heavy on the western and a little lighter on the romance.  The romance just develops with the characters, but it’s really about the family structure and the drama that unfolds on the Montana frontier.  I have raced through all the books in the series and love the characters that McClintock creates.

My Reviews:

More about the Montana Gallaghers series, including excerpts and video snippets, can be found here.

3. The Empress of Rome by Kate Quinn

empress of rome

National bestselling author Kate Quinn brings the power, politics, and passion of ancient Rome to vivid life in this historical fiction series.

I love Kate Quinn’s Empress of Rome series.  She doesn’t shy away from the gritty drama.  They can be read out of order (I skipped book 3 and read book 4) but they do build on each other.  Daughters of Rome can stand alone much better than the other 3.  This is how I like my Roman HF.

My Reviews:

More about The Empress of Rome series, including excerpts, can be found here.

2. Renegades of the American Revolution by Donna Thorland

renegades

The Renegades of the American Revolution are historical novels set during the War of Independence. The installments can be read in any order. Each novel presents a complete, stand-alone story, though certain characters do recur throughout the series.

While I may have only read 2 of these so far (I own the other two) these have been some of my most anticipated reads.  I love the American Revolution as a time period for historical fiction and Thorland has chosen some interesting moments to feature in her novels.  And they are full of drama.  And the book covers are to die for!!!

My Reviews:

More about the Renegades of the American Revolution series, including excerpts, bibliographies, and reader’s guides, can be found here.

1. The Spymaster Chronicles by C. W. Gortner

spymaster chronicles

THE TUDOR ERA WAS ONE OF INTRIGUE, DANGER, AND SPIES . . . .Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, this is the story of a young man who becomes the intimate spy of England's future queen.

Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles are my favorite books of his.  Don’t get me wrong, I love our feisty Renaissance queens, but the action/adventure/thriller nature of the books in this series keep me reading until too late in the night.  Brendan, the main character, has been on my Hunky Heroes list too, so that shows that the author can write quite the fascinating man.  I have heard rumor that a fourth book could be in the works in the future and I so hope it’s true because even though the trilogy wraps up well, I would love to see more of this story.  This is one of those Tudor novels that I can’t get tired of even when others are feeling old hat.

My Reviews:

More about The Spymaster Chronicles series, including excerpts and readers guides, can be found here.

 

What are your thoughts?  Have you read any of these series?  What would be in your list of top series you have read?

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Book Alert: Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

girl in disguise

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister
e-Book and Hardcover; 320 Pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1492635227
Release Date: March 21,  2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Book Blurb:

For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can't. She's a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she's been assigned to nab.

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

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


**You can read an excerpt of the book at the Sourcebooks website when you complete their form**


Praise for Girl in Disguise:

"All hail a mighty woman in a man's world! Greer Macallister aims her pen at Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective, and hits the mark with this rousing, action-packed adventure. A book that brings to light a commanding and little-known contribution to American history." –Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children

“If you love historical fiction, you’re going to devour GIRL IN DISGUISE.  The time, the place, the girl – this book takes you on a thrill ride with the first female detective, making her way by pluck and luck through the seedy streets of 19th century Chicago, finding her place in a male-dominated world.” –Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue



You can check out a review of this book from one of my blogging friends, Colleen at A Literary Vacation.  You can also read an interview from Publisher’s Weekly with the author.

Find Greer Macallister: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

 


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court