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Friday, December 29, 2017

Audiobook Discussions: Audible Channels

IMG_20161207_184007_065000 (1)

I have been doing a lot of audiobook listening lately and I attended a recent blogger webinar about audiobook reviewing which got me thinking more and more about audiobooks.  So I wanted to know more of what you think about them!  From there, Audiobook Discussions has been born!

Always looking to help you get more out of your Audible listening experience!  I’ve heard of Channels for awhile, but I never bothered to look up what it actually was, until this week!  If you have an Amazon Prime membership, access to Audible Channels is free! 

Audible describes Channels as shorter length podcast type shows.  There is a little something for everyone: comedy, documentary, mystery, and more.  Here are some of the ones that I have added to my listening list:


I haven’t yet had the chance to listen to any of these, but I’m hoping to find the time soon!  Have you listened to any of these or other channels?

You can check out the other posts in this series:

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cover Crush: Lady Jayne Disappears

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.

lady jayne disappears

We talk a lot about the “headless” women where part of the model’s head is cut off by the top edge of the cover, and how it has gotten a little bit old.  This cover achieves the same sort of concept, disguising her facial identity while still showing her entire head.  A little bit of a blur and that the title also crosses over it.  Mission accomplished I say.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

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

keep calm and support book bloggers

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Series Highlight: Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent

Christine Trent

About the Lady of Ashes Mysteries

The Lady of Ashes Mystery series follows female undertaker, Violet Morgan, as she solves mysteries that she encounters in Victorian England. 

Titles in the Lady of Ashes Mystery Series

lady of ashes
Book 1: Lady of Ashes
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In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is struggling to establish a good reputation for the undertaking business that her husband has largely abandoned. She provides comfort for the grieving, advises them on funeral fashion and etiquette, and arranges funerals.

Unbeknownst to his wife, Graham, who has nursed a hatred of America since his grandfather soldiered for Great Britain in the War of 1812, becomes involved in a scheme to sell arms to the South. Meanwhile, Violet receives the commission of a lifetime: undertaking the funeral for a friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But her position remains precarious, especially when Graham disappears and she begins investigating a series of deaths among the poor. And the closer she gets to the truth, the greater the danger for them both…

stolen remains
Book 2: Stolen Remains
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After establishing her reputation as one of London's most highly regarded undertakers, Violet Harper decided to take her practice to the wilds of the American West. But when her mother falls ill, Violet and her husband Samuel are summoned back to England, where her skills are as sought-after as ever. She's honored to undertake the funeral of Anthony Fairmont, the Viscount Raybourn, a close friend of Queen Victoria's who died in suspicious circumstances--but it's difficult to perform her services when his body disappears. . .

As the viscount's undertaker, all eyes are on Violet as the Fairmonts and Scotland Yard begin the search for his earthly remains. Forced to exhume her latent talents as a sleuth to preserve her good name, Violet's own investigation takes her from servants' quarters, to the halls of Windsor Castle, to the tombs of ancient Egypt--and the Fairmont family's secrets quickly begin to unravel like a mummy's wrappings. But the closer Violet gets to the truth, the closer she gets to becoming the next missing body. . .

Wrought with both heartfelt bravery and breathtaking suspense, Stolen Remains is a captivating tale of death and deception set against the indelible backdrop of Victorian London.

a virtuous death
Book 3: A Virtuous Death
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A gripping tale of vengeance inside the extraordinary world of Queen Victoria’s court, this richly layered novel from Christine Trent will delight fans of historical mysteries.

Queen Victoria, still mourning her late husband Prince Albert, has found solace in John Brown, an enigmatic palace servant who dabbles in the occult. Undertaker Violet Harper is invited to attend one of Mr. Brown’s readings, during which he implies that Buckingham Palace will soon be shrouded in death’s dark veil. Well acquainted with death, Violet shrugs him off as a charlatan—until his sinister divinations begin to prove true…

The aristocratic young friends of the queen’s daughter are dying mysteriously. The deaths merely buttress the queen’s enthusiasm for Mr. Brown’s ominous talents. Is Mr. Brown an innocent court favorite, or does he have a malevolent plan that involves both the queen and Violet? Or does Violet suspect the wrong man entirely?

The Mourning Bells
Book 4: The Mourning Bells
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One of Victorian London’s most respected undertakers, Violet Harper has the new duty of accompanying coffins from various undertakers on the London Necropolis Railway for respectful funerals and burials in Surrey. But on her fateful first trip, the mournful silence of the train is shattered by the shrill ringing of a coffin bell—a device that prevents a person from being buried alive.

Inside the noisome coffin Violet finds a man wide-eyed with fear, claiming he was falsely interred. When a second coffin bell is rung on another trip Violet grows suspicious. She voices her qualms to Inspector Hurst of Scotland Yard, only to receive a puzzling reply that, after all, it is not a crime to rise from the dead.

But Violet’s instincts are whispering that all is not well on the London Necropolis Railway’s tracks. Is this all merely the result of clumsy undertaking, or is there something more sinister afoot? Determined to get to the heart of the matter, Violet uncovers a treacherous plot and villains who will stop at nothing to keep a lid on her search for the truth…

death at the abbey
Book 5: Death at the Abbey
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While on a much-needed respite with her husband Sam in Nottinghamshire, undertaker Violet Harper is summoned to Welbeck Abbey by the Fifth Duke of Portland to prepare a body. His Grace is known as the “mad duke,” and Violet has more than an inkling of why when she arrives at the grand estate and discovers that the corpse in question is that of the duke’s favorite raven, Aristotle. Many of the duke’s servants believe a dead raven is a harbinger of doom, and the peculiar peer hopes to allay their superstitious fears with an elaborate funeral for his feathered friend.

But Aristotle’s demise is soon followed by the violent murder of one of the young workers on the estate. Wishing to avoid any whisper of scandal, the reclusive duke implores Violet to conduct her own discreet investigation. In her hunt for evidence, Violet wonders if the manner of the raven’s death might provide a crucial clue in solving the crime. . .before someone else—including herself—risks an untimely fate.

a grave celebration
Book 6: A Grave Celebration
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Violet Harper and her husband Sam are attending the long-anticipated opening of Egypt's new Suez Canal. The canal is the mastermind of the brilliant French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Fireworks, galas, and canal cruises are all part of the planned festivities at ports along the way.Tensions abound across the various European delegations in attendance. The Prussians, Dutch, French, British, Austrians, and Russians all have political grievances against each other, made worse by internal struggles inside Egypt itself. All of this animosity is forgotten, though, in the midst of clinking glasses and deafening cheers. That is, until a seemingly innocent Egyptian is found stabbed during an evening of fireworks. To keep the grisly affair out of the international newspapers, de Lesseps and the Egyptian viceroy, Isma il Pasha, insist that there be no investigation, but Violet is determined to make a quiet inquiry. Who may have wanted the man dead? Or, rather, who didn t have hatred for the French, whose total mastery of the Suez Canal meant they would be controlling canal shipping for the foreseeable future? Was the man the simple victim of a local criminal? Or is someone conducting a vendetta against the great man de Lesseps himself? When a delegate's servant is also found murdered, it becomes obvious that there are evil forces among the revelers, who will stop at nothing to keep Violet from discovering the truth.

About the Author

Photo Credit

Christine Trent is the author of the Lady of Ashes historical mystery series, about a Victorian-era undertaker, as well as the author of three other historical novels. Her novels have been translated into Turkish, Polish, and Czech. She writes from her two-story home library, where she lives with her wonderful bookshelf-building husband, five precocious cats, a large doll collection, entirely too many fountain pens, and over 4,000 fully catalogued books. She and her husband are active travelers and journey regularly to England to conduct book research at historic sites.

Find Christine Trent: Website | Facebook

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cover Crush: Christmas at Carnton

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.

christmas at carnton

Tis the season! Winter! Christmas! I couldn’t go through the month of December without a seasonal cover.  Knowing from a few of my prior selections in this series, I’m a huge fan of grand houses that are the focal point of a cover.  The tracks bring the viewer right from the bottom edge of the cover up to the house which is the beautiful home.  And I love the sun creeping over the corner of the roofline.  A beautiful, festive scene.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

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

keep calm and support book bloggers

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Review: Beyond the Heather Hills by Melissa Wiley

beyond the heather hills
Beyond the Heather Hills
by Melissa Wiley
Little House: The Martha Years Book 4
Paperback, 208 pages, Unabridged
Harper Trophy
February 4, 2003
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Genre: Historical Fiction, YA

Source: Personal collection

In this fourth book in the Martha Years series, ten-year-old Martha journeys to the bustling city of Perth to visit her newly married sister Grisie.

This is Martha′s first time beyond the familiar heather hills and this city on the River Tay is more exciting than she could have ever imagined!

If you have read Beyond the Heather Hills as the 4th and final book in this series (you should read them in order, but it’s not required) you will be able to fully appreciate the evolution of Martha from a young girl of about 6 or 7 in the first book to a young adult at the age of 10. In this book she is still at that age where she wants to play, but is becoming more aware of the adult world around her and how she fits in it. She definitely encounters situations that are more significant than when she was a child – there is birth, and illness, death, and family growing up and moving away. There is also the difference between life in the city and life in the rural community that she had grown up in. So much for Martha changes in this book and it was beautifully done, as always, by Melissa Wiley.

This is a series that young readers can certainly grow with and the events that Martha encounters throughout are perfectly appropriate for what young readers may encounter in the world. I love the way in which tough issues are presented, such as illness and death; it is handled directly, without a lot of frills or extra in-depth information, but in a way that younger audiences can understand. So many elements of the Scottish culture are included in this series, but it never feels over-explained. I have read other historical fiction aimed at younger audiences that seem to go into extraneous depth about cultural elements which results in the narrative feeling to slow and heavy; that is not the case here. Wiley presents enough information for the audience to understand and wraps in seamlessly into the narrative and it never feels out of place. It was something that I immediately noticed in this book after having read another young adult novel recently that handled it much different.

I just adore this series and can’t wait to find time to start the 2nd series, The Charlotte Years, also written by Wiley.

Please be aware that this series is currently out of print but can often be found on Ebay or Half.com - but you have to look often because they can be exorbitantly priced.  There was also an abridged version of many of these books released.  I would advise trying to check your local libraries for these books.  There was apparently some discussion at some point about bringing them back as e-books, so let the publisher know you are interested! Email, tweet, Facebook, etc!

Also in the Little House Series:

There are 5 series of books within the Little House Series each focusing on a different family member of Laura’s.  They are not all written by the same author.

Little House in the Highlands
Little House in the Highlands
(Martha #1)
[My Review]

the far side of the loch
The Far Side of the Loch
(Martha #2)
[My Review]

down to the bonny glen
Down to the Bonny Glen
(Martha #3)
[My Review]

little house by boston bay
Little House by Boston Bay
(Charlotte #1)

on tide mill lane
On Tide Mill Lane
(Charlotte #2)

the road from roxbury
The Road from Roxbury
(Charlotte #3)

across the puddingstone dam
Across the Puddingstone Dam
(Charlotte #4)

little house in brookfield
Little House in Brookfield
(Caroline #1)

little town at the crossroads
Little Town at the Crossroads
(Caroline #2)

little clearing in the woods
Little Clearing in the Woods
(Caroline #3)

on top of concord hill
On Top of Concord Hill
(Caroline #4)

across the rolling river
Across the Rolling River
(Caroline #5)

little city by the lake
Little City by the Lake
(Caroline #6)

A Little House of Their Own
A Little House of Their Own
(Caroline #7)

little house in the big woods
Little House in the Big Woods
(Laura #1)

little house on the prairie
Little House on the Prairie
(Laura #2)

farmer boy
Farmer Boy
(Laura #3)

on the banks of plum creek
On the Banks of Plum Creek
(Laura #4)

by the shores of silver lake
By the Shores of Silver Lake
(Laura #5)

the long winter
The Long Winter
(Laura #6)

little town on the prairie
Little Town on the Prairie
(Laura #7)

these happy golden years
These Happy Golden Years
(Laura #8)

the first four years
The First Four Years
(Laura #9)

on the way home
On the Way Home
(Laura #10)

west from home
West from Home
(Laura #11)

little house on rocky ridge
Little House on Rocky Ridge
(Rose #1)

little farm in the ozarks
Little Farm in the Ozarks
(Rose #2)

In the Land of the Big Red Apple
In the Land of the Big Red Apple
(Rose #3)

On the Other Side of the Hill
On the Other Side of the Hill
(Rose #4)

little town in the ozarks
Little Town in the Ozarks
(Rose #5)

new dawn on rocky ridge
New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
(Rose #6)

on the banks of the bayou
On the Banks of the Bayou
(Rose #7)

Bachelor Girl
Bachelor Girl
(Rose #8)

Find Melissa Wiley:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Copyright © 2017by The Maiden’s Court