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, September 25, 2015

A Couple of Giveaway Winners

Hi everyone!  I have a few long overdue winners of giveaways to announce, so let's get on to that!

First up, the giveaway for Finding Gabriel by Rachel Demeter....

finding gabriel over

The winner is....  Terry M!!!

The next giveaway winner to announce is the winner for Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie....

Sisters of versailles over

The winner is....  HoldenJ!!!!


The final giveaway winner to announce is the winner for Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson....

Enchantress of Paris Over


The winner is....  Angela H!!!!


Congrats to all of the winners!  I hope you enjoy your books!  I have sent out emails to all and they have 5 days to respond, or new winners will be selected.  Thanks to all of you that entered these great giveaways!  I will have more soon.


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Review: 12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection 1 by Susan Page Davis, Michelle Ule, and Amy Lillard

12 Brides of Summer Collection1

The Blue Moon Bride by Susan Page Davis
The Sunbonnet Bride by Michelle Ule
The Wildflower Bride by Amy Lillard
In Novella Collection 1 of the 12 Brides of Summer series

ARC, E-Book, 84 pages
Shiloh Run Studios
June 1, 2015
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Western, Short Stories

Source: Received for review via Netgalley request

Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime!  Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives. Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small town. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch!

Summer has started and so has new chances for love in Novella Collection #1:

The Blue Moon Bride by Susan Page Davis
Ava Neal hopes moving west will be a new start, then she meets handsome Joe Logan who helps her hide her valuables when the train is robbed. Might their paths cross again?

The Sunbonnet Bride by Michelle Ule
After a tornado ravishes her family's farm, seamstress Sally Martin has to decide which man's courtship to accept: a banker who wants to loan money to ruined farmers or a teamster who uses his skills, strength and time to help rebuild.

The Wildflower Bride by Amy Lillard
Grace Sinclair would never dream of leaving her Ozarks, so when Ian McGruer visits for a wedding, she ignores her sudden romantic thoughts. Can Ian make her see the way of love?

As soon as I finished reading 12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #4, I knew I wanted to read the rest of the collection. There is something about the quick nature of these stories that pulls me in and keeps me wanting to read more of them. So I figured that it would make sense to go back to the beginning and start with Collection #1 (although, they don’t really go in any sort of order, so you can read whichever you want).

Blue Moon Bride by Susan Page Davis left me with mixed feelings. The first few scenes start out with Ava’s sister and her impending marriage. This felt a little out of place for me as a first scene in the way it was written. While this sort of event could lead very well into a romance, it fell a little flat for me. But don’t be down for too long, shortly thereafter Ava is whisking away on a train ride west to visit friends where she encounters quite the dramatic turn (for one of these types of stories) in a train robbery. There is a good deal of action and adventure here for sure on the part of Joe Logan. I enjoyed the action scenes, but somehow didn’t love this story. I think the fact that I had a hard time getting into the story had something to do with it. I think I would have led with the train sequences and then introduced the sister’s wedding in some type of flashback or work it into a conversation.

The Sunbonnet Bride by Michelle Ule was different from many of the other stories in these collections that I have read so far in that you aren’t 100% sure who Sally will end up with. There are two VERY different men at play here and she struggles with the choice. I wasn’t in love with either of the men as leading men, but there was a favorite to be sure. I really liked the choice of the tornado aftermath as a storytelling devise. I have lived through the destruction of a tornado to my apartment complex and surrounding community, so I could truly buy into the response of the neighbors and towns to the destruction and the families (and I’m from the North East where you are not all the friendly with neighbors in apartments!). I found the story very sweet and endearing, and appreciated that she did not obviously have her mind made up from the beginning regarding who to choose (if anyone!).

However, just like last time, the final story was my favorite, and that was The Wildflower Bride by Amy Lillard. While these stories always end happily (the nature of the genre), there was a lot of soul searching regarding the decision that Grace would make at the end here. One of the character types that I have come to enjoy from these romance novellas is the secretly intervening parent. It is true that sometimes your parents know you better than you know yourself and that at times you just need help getting out of your own way to see more clearly. The father here was really cute and I think he stole the show! Super sweet, and in a few places sad, story that I loved.

As a whole, this collection was strong and left me craving more (the only reason why I did not immediately jump into Collection #2 was due to some downloading issues). I would probably place this book more in the solid 4-4.5 star category, just because I didn’t fall in love with the lead off story, which could potentially turn some pickier readers off. Good thing is, they are short stories, so you can finish one story that you may not particularly love in quick time so it will not feel like a time waste or anything of that nature. The Christian aspect I thought was well integrated and again natural to the characters and their circumstances without hitting you over the head with it.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book


Also Part of the 12 Brides Series:

12 Brides of Summer Collection2

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #2

12 Brides of Summer Collection3

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #3

12 Brides of Summer Collection4

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #4

[My Review]

Find the 12 Brides Series (including the Christmas series): Website | Facebook

Find Susan Page Davis: Website | Newsletter

Find Michelle Ule: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Find Amy Lillard: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 21, 2015

Interview with Matthew Graham, Character from The Graham Saga by Anna Belfrage


Together with his wife, Alex, Matthew Graham is the protagonist of The Graham Saga, the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. But sometimes impossible things happen, and so Alex Lind ends up at the feet of Matthew Graham. What follows next is sufficient for an eight book series, a fast-paced blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy. 

Today, Anna has arranged for Matthew to come and visit. I am a bit nervous – I’ve never met a 17th century man before – but I’m hoping he will like my cake!

Anna Belgrage Banner of books

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Matthew Graham enters the room cautiously, taking on form as he approaches the table and the waiting chair. It’s not very often one gets to chit-chat with fictional characters, and I must admit to being a tad apprehensive. What if he just disintegrates into nothing midway through the interview? After all, writer Anna Belfrage may be distracted by the antics of some other character and then…

Matthew smiles, places his hat on the table and shakes his head. “I’m no piece of fluff to be blown hither and dither,” he says. “In fact, I’d argue I’m almost as real as you are.”

As real as me? Come off it!

He smiles again. “And how many books are there about your life, Mistress Heather?” he asks. 

I decide to not reply. What, just because he exists between the covers of eight books he’s real and I’m not? The smile becomes a grin, and he is dangerously handsome, this tall Scot with eyes that gleam somewhere between green and gold. 

“Eight and some,” he says. “Anna is presently busy writing more about me.”

“And your wife?”

Matthew extends his long legs and crosses them at the ankles. “Aye, about her too. But some of it is only about me. When I was but a stripling of a lad, fighting for the Commonwealth against the Malignants.”

Well, he’s lost me there, although I suspect he’s talking about the English Civil War, and those Malignants are not a band of evil beings, they’re just Royalists. Anyway, we’re here to talk about what already has been published, so after serving him some tea and cake – and I like a man who lights up like a beacon at the sight of cake – I settle down to do the interview properly.

It’s great to have you stopping by – I’ve looked forward to meeting you in person for ages.

“Ah.” Matthew studies his worn boots. “As much in person as I can be, I reckon. And it’s a pleasure to be here.”

Is it? Anna says you’re uncomfortable with this sort of stuff

“I am. But Anna also tells me it is something that has to be done. And whiling away some time whilst in the company of a lady, is none too bad.”

Lady? No one’s ever called me a lady before

“Do you mind?” He helps himself to another piece of cake.

No, not at all. Would Alex mind?

“That I call you a lady? No.”

I get the impression she’s jealous – on occasion, I bet she’d gladly scratch whatshername’s eyes out.

“You mean Kate.” Matthew shifts on his rump. “Aye, Alex is a wee bit over-sensitive when it comes to Kate. Not so strange, when one considers I did..err…well…”

Sleep with her?

A dull red washes up his face. “Aye. But it wasn’t like that. I thought I was about to die, and Kate, she saved me. Nursed me and cared for me, helped me eat when I was as weak as a newborn babe. She was there, she was warm, and I despaired of ever seeing Alex again.”

But you did. She came after you and saved you, didn’t she?

That long mobile mouth curves into the sweetest of smiles. “That she did, my marvellous wife.”

And since then, whenever you’ve met Kate, you’ve made eyes at her.

“I have not! Kate Jones is a bonny woman, so aye, I look. But more than that…”

Oh? So when you danced all evening with her, what was that?

Matthew gives me a crooked smile. “That was me being a fool of a man, wanting to prove myself cock over a dung heap that wasn’t mine to begin with.”

And Alex was humiliated – and hurt.

“Aye.” He exhales softly. “Not my finest moment, that.”

I think you like it, that she’s jealous. Look at all that business with Nan.

“Nothing happened with that wee baggage! Nothing! And Kate – it’s more about the past we share than anything else.” He looks away. “Whenever I see her, I am reminded just how close I came to dying, and so there’s an element of gratitude, I suppose, liberally mixed up with guilt. Guilt for not holding to my marriage vows, guilt for allowing Kate to hope that there could be more between us than those hasty couplings that served to help me forget where I was and what I was – a slave.” His right hand curls into a fist. “A slave,” he repeats in a hoarse whisper. “And all because my miscreant of a brother.”

Ah, yes. Your brother. Not the closest of relationships, is it?


Could you perhaps elaborate?

Bright eyes bore into mine. “He cuckolded me, accused me of treason, had me rotting in jail for three years, and then some years later he abducted me and sold me as indentured labour in Virginia. He did more than that, mind, but I dare say it suffices to give you some insight into his character.”

But you forgot one thing, didn’t you? His nose

“His nose.” Matthew laughs darkly. “Aye, I swiped off his nose when I came upon him threatening my Alex. But what’s a nose when compared to years of stolen life?”

So why all the bad blood between you?

“Because of Margaret.” He frowns. “Beautiful, she was, all black hair and eyes like shards of an April sky. Luke loved her, she loved him – but she married me.”

Luke says you forced her.

“Luke lies. Our father banished Luke – a heartless thing to do, when your son is only a laddie of fifteen – and told him never to come back. Margaret despaired, and with her true love gone, she set her eyes on me. Unfortunately, some years later Da died and Luke came back.”

Unfortunately? So you’d have preferred for that not to happen? To have stayed married to Margaret instead of meeting Alex?

He actually pales, mouth tightening into a gash. “No,” he finally says. “A life without Alex would have been a wasted life. She was meant for me, and I for her, no matter that we were born three centuries apart.” He scowls. “Maybe you shouldn’t include that in your interview.”

What? That you were meant for each other? I find it sort of sweet.

“Sweet?” Matthew looks embarrassed. “I’m a grown man, not some lovelorn lad. But I meant what I said about Alex being from the future – I’d prefer it if you didn’t include it. It’s too much magic, and in the here and now such things can lead to accusations of witchery.”

Ah. Too late. Besides, it adds quite the twist to your story, doesn’t it?

“Too many twists if you ask me,” he says darkly. “Too many times I’ve near on lost her to the tug of time.” He looks away. “If I were to lose her, I’d die. She lives in my blood, and without her…” He makes a face. “Maybe I am lovelorn, after all.”

You think? (I smile and pat his hand before nudging the plate in his direction. I then allow him some time to regain his composure, mainly by stuffing his face with the last of the cake) So, what is she like, your wife?

“Stubborn. Opinionated. Brave – a lioness when she needs to be. Something of a handful, and she hasn’t mellowed much with the years. A good mother, an even better wife.” He shakes his head. “My very own personal miracle, that’s what she is.”

A miracle? Seriously?

“How else to describe it? The good Lord made sure she plummeted through time to land at my feet.”

And why would He do that?

“Why?” Matthew sits back and regards me for a long time. “Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it?”

Not to me – not to my readers.

He snorts softly. “I reckon it’s because He knew I needed her – just as much as she needed me.”


After this, Matthew decides he is done, clapping his hat on his head as he makes for the door. A swirl of dust, an instant of seeing his tall, broad frame outlined in the sun and he is gone, leaving but an impression of a dark-haired man clad in a worn linen shirt and breeches. One could almost think I’ve imagined it all – if it hadn’t been for the very, very empty cake plate. 

Anna Belfrage 2015

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours.

When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape.

Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling.
The first instalment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, will be published in the autumn of 2015.

Find Anna Belfrage: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Follow the Tour!

Anna Belfrage Banner-AB (2)

This wonderful tour has been put together by IndieBRAG, here are the stops:

September 21- The Maiden's Court

September 22- Of History and Kings

September 23- everyday happy foods

September 24-  Just One More Chapter

September 25- Layered Pages

September 25 – The Many Worlds of Charlene Newcomb

September 26th- Stuart S. Laing


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review: 12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection 4 by Vickie McDonough, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, and Davalynn Spencer

12 Brides of Summer Collection4

The County Fair Bride by Vickie McDonough
The Honey Bride by Diana Brandmeyer
The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer
In Novella Collection 4 of the 12 Brides of Summer series

ARC, E-Book, 154 pages
Shiloh Run Studios
September 1, 2014
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Western, Short Stories

Source: Received for review via Netgalley request

Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime!  Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives.  Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small towns. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch!

Summer's winding down and the nights are getting cooler, but love still warms the heart in Novella Collection #4:

The County Fair Bride by Vickie McDonough
Having spent a year in St. Louis, Prudy Willard returns to Advent, Texas, and fills the new mayor’s desk with her ideas for improving the town. The only thing they can agree on is initiating the county’s first fair.

The Honey Bride by Diana Brandmeyer
Katie Tucker must overcome her fear of the bees her father left as her inheritance to run the family farm and her fear of those like Pete Dent who offer to help her. He’ll rebuild her barn, but is his friendship genuine?

The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer
Lucy Powell is widowed with two children, but she is reluctant to accept Buck Reiter’s help on her neglected farm. Can the old cowboy convince her his interest is more than charity?

I had the chance to read a few of the 12 Brides of Christmas novella collection this past winter and I loved reading these little, short, sweet stories; so when I saw that there was a 12 Brides of Summer novella collection that was being released this summer by the same authors as the Christmas collection I was excited to give them a go. This time, instead of being released as individual stories, they have been bundled into 4 novella collections, each containing 3 short stories of about 50-60 pages in length. I’m going to speak to each short story as well as the collection as a whole.

My favorite story of the three was The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer. The storytelling here felt much longer than the 50ish page count that it actually was. Sometimes these romances can feel rushed to at least give you some result in the short page count, but this one did not feel that way at all. There was a very natural progression of gratitude becoming friendship, and then friendship turning into caring, and then without realizing that it has become something a little more. The four main characters, Lucy, Buck, and Lucy’s two young children, all had very defined personalities and I knew what made them tick pretty quickly. Buck is very much the horseman and uses a lot of horse terms to describe his family and Lucy’s family – the word choices of his thoughts provided even more definition to his character. The chapters alternate between being from Lucy’s and Buck’s perspectives and they flowed together seamlessly. I could certainly see this story becoming a full novel of the relationship and I would eat it up.

My next favorite was The County Fair Bride by Vickie McDonough. The story arc here covers the time period of developing, planning, and carrying out of a county fair in a small town of Texas – pretty much the length of a summer. While the story covers more time period that The Columbine Bride, the narrative felt a little more like a compressed timeline. I think the author felt the need to provide more backstory to tell of Prudy’s evolution from former mean-girl to reformed “nice” girl, which took up a little more of the space and maybe contributed to the feeling of a compressed story. That being said, I did find the evolution of the romance to be believable. There was action throughout, right from the first scene that made the story pop.

Finally, The Honey Bride by Diana Brandmeyer. While all three of these stories focus on women trying to find their way out of a hardship, Katie seems to be the one that had the most difficulty due to the nature of her personality as well as the event that takes place at the beginning. I think this is why I struggled to get to know her as well as the other two heroines. There was also a side focus on this periphery character, W.D., and I felt like it took away from Katie’s story some. I think that W.D. would possibly have an interesting spin-off story though.

In terms of the collection as a whole, I thought it was quite enjoyable. All three stories are quick reads – took me about an hour a piece. It was a nice break in between some lengthier reads and was still satisfying. There is nothing that ties the three stories together in any way besides that they take place in the summertime – but I was ok with that. In terms of the amount of religion incorporated in each story, I felt like it was well balanced and integrated naturally into the characters. As in life, some are more tied to their faith convictions that others, but it never roamed into the preachy territory. I was very happy with this collection and look forward to reading the others. You do not need to read these collections in any certain order as each story is a standalone story.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book


Also Part of the 12 Brides of Summer Series:

12 Brides of Summer Collection1

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #1

12 Brides of Summer Collection2

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #2

12 Brides of Summer Collection3

12 Brides of Summer Novella Collection #3


Find the 12 Brides Series (including the Christmas series): Website | Facebook

Find Vickie McDonough: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Find Diana Brandmeyer: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Find Davalynn Spencer: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

liar temptress soldier spy

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
Paperback, 544 pages
Harper Perennial
September 8, 2015

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Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Source: Received from publisher for review

Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.

The role of women in the Civil War seems to have become a niche area in the market over the last couple years, especially in fiction (where I could easily name five right now), but this is the first major non-fiction work that I have seen recently on the subject. And while it is non-fiction, there is so much action and adventure packed into its pages, that it could almost be a novel!

Karen Abbott utilizes four women to represent the varying types of roles that women took up during the war. These perspectives shatter the perception that women were left at home defenseless when their men went off to fight. And while that was likely the case in some situations, many times women found ways to be active in a traditionally male world. Especially with the fact that the fighting was happening right in their own backyards they could very easily become involved. All of these women served as spies, but each in a different way. Rose carried on in her life like the socialite that she was in Washington and passed the information she gleaned along to her Confederate cohort. Belle actively ran information through the lines to the Confederate generals. Emma disguised as a man fought out on the battlefield and was brought in for reconnaissance missions from time to time. Elizabeth, a Union sympathizer living in the South, used her home as a secret base for escapees from Confederate confinement and as a hub of intelligence communication. These were not women to just sit by and wait for the war to end – and as Elizabeth’s network shows, there were many, many other women involved.

Don’t let the 500+ page count deter you from this book. I’m not one who typically likes to read longer books, because I like to change up what I read more frequently. However, I found that the pages just flew by and before I knew it I was done with the book. The author bounces back and forth between the women’s stories, and in different hands, it could have felt like a ping-pong match. Abbott deftly weaves these stories together in a way where each ties into the next seamlessly and the shift in time and place is not in any way jarring. You get battle stories, home-front stories, and real life stories – it is a very well rounded book that has a little something for everyone. And the details! Sometimes the volume of detail can feel like an info-dump, but Abbott weaves SO much detail into this book, but it never feels overwhelming or too much.

This book will introduce you to some women to be admired and another side of Civil War history. It is not just for Civil War buffs, but for women’s history fans and history aficionados in general. Highly recommended it!

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also watch this book trailer to get a feel for the book:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound | Harper Collins

Also by Karen Abbott:

american rose
American Rose

sin in second city

Sin in the Second City

Find Karen Abbott: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Follow the Tour!

tlc book tours

Below you can find the individual tour stops, but you can also find more about the tour at the TLC Book Tours page or on Twitter with the following hashtags: #TLCBookTours and #LiarTemptressSoldierSpy

Tuesday, September 8th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 9th: Let Them Read Books – guest post

Thursday, September 10th: The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 11th: Cold Read

Monday, September 14th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, September 14th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, September 15th: Sveltana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, September 16th: Man of La Book

Thursday, September 17th: Bookworm Meets Bookworm

Monday, September 21st: A Book Geek

Tuesday, September 22nd: Time 2 Read

Wednesday, September 23rd: As I turn the pages

Thursday, September 24th: FictionZeal

Tuesday, September 29th: Raven Haired Girl – guest post

Thursday, October 1st: Unabridged Chick



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book Review: The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

the disappearing spoon

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean
Unabridged, 12 hr. 35 min.
Tantor Audio
Sean Runnette (Narrator)
August 18, 2010

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Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Audio download purchased through Audible

The periodic table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in The Disappearing Spoon.

I’m not a huge science buff – I actually struggled a lot in my chemistry class. However, the one thing that I did enjoy from that class was learning about the elements in the periodic table. That was something I could manage to remember and made sense to me. So when I saw this book was about entertaining stories about the elements and their history or discovery I thought that it could be quite interesting.

The author presents these stories in a way that a person with a standard education would be able to enjoy them without feeling entirely lost – it is accessible science! There is obviously some level of science involved in this text, but Kean refrains from making the text too technical – which I was very thankful for. There are some moments, to be sure, where the chemical nature comes into play, but it usually isn’t critical to the understanding of the text. I just skimmed over these sections and did not feel like I lost any understanding by doing so. If you do happen to have a solid understanding of science, then I’m sure these more technical sections will only enhance your reading experience.

Chemical science can be very dry, but The Disappearing Spoon is anything but. There were funny stories (some that were laugh out loud and others that were more ironic) and at the same time they were chock full of information. I probably learned more about these elements than I ever learned in class and the parts I enjoyed the most were the history and discovery stories, more so than the qualities of the elements. I mean, where else will you learn that you can trace the stops of the Lewis and Clarke expedition by the mercury deposits from the “medicine” they took? I had fodder for conversations with my husband who is part of the medical field.

I do think this book will be more of a draw for those who enjoy science, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking the book out.


I am going to refrain from reviewing the actual audio production as I listened to this so long ago that I don’t remember the details of the narration.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Also by Sam Kean

violinists thumb

The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by our Genetic Code

dueling neurosurgeons

The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery

Find Sam Kean: Website | Twitter | Facebook



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review: Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn

lady of the eternal city

Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn
Book 4 in The Empress of Rome series
Kindle e-book, 528 pages
March 3, 2015

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the publisher for review (also purchased my own copy because I didn’t like the formatting of the ARC)

National bestselling author Kate Quinn returns with the long-awaited fourth volume in the Empress of Rome series, an unforgettable new tale of the politics, power, and passion that defined ancient Rome.

Elegant, secretive Sabina may be Empress of Rome, but she still stands poised on a knife’s edge. She must keep the peace between two deadly enemies: her husband Hadrian, Rome’s brilliant and sinister Emperor; and battered warrior Vix, who is her first love. But Sabina is guardian of a deadly secret: Vix’s beautiful son Antinous has become the Emperor’s latest obsession.

Empress and Emperor, father and son will spin in a deadly dance of passion, betrayal, conspiracy, and war. As tragedy sends Hadrian spiraling into madness, Vix and Sabina form a last desperate pact to save the Empire. But ultimately, the fate of Rome lies with an untried girl, a spirited redhead who may just be the next Lady of the Eternal City…

I posted an “in progress” review of this book back in March just after it was published as part of a tour with HFVBT, however at that time (due to the date the book arrived and the date I was scheduled on the tour) I had only had a chance to read about 20% of the book. And it took some time to finally finish it, but I now have a final full review.

First, I want to talk about the series itself. I had only read books 1, 2, and a fraction of book 3 in the series before starting into Lady of the Eternal City - so I essentially jumped right in to the middle of Vix and Sabina’s story. This is one of those series where I highly advocate reading the volumes in order for best character development and to get a full feel of the series. If pressed, at least read books 1 and 3 (book 2 is slightly along a different, earlier, story line – comprised of an entirely different cast of characters, so it helps set the period, but doesn’t much contribute to the need to understand the characters). That being said, I still found that I was able to follow along with their stories as there is enough background information to fill in some of the gaps and a could infer character development events (although I get the feeling that reading book 3 now will be a little less exciting as I now know the resolutions to things that would have only been introduced in the prior book). There even is enough reference to remind me of what happened in the first book, Mistress of Rome, which I read quite a while ago.

One thing that I found interesting in comparing my early perceptions of this book with my final thoughts was how my perspective of the characters changed. Early on I noted that I preferred the chapters from the perspectives of the adults as I didn’t find the importance of the children’s chapters…however…overall I found that I enjoyed the chapters of the children better. The adults were always either sad, angry, or brooding, while the children were having all kinds of adventures, emotional development, and things happening to them.

One reason it took me so long to get through this novel is that I put it down due to some stuff going on in my life at the time and just couldn’t find the excitement to go back and pick it up. I found the first third and last third of the novel to be riveting, but the middle (where I happened to put it down) was somewhat dragging to me – which felt a little unlike the experience I have had with other books by this author where I have been riveted the whole time. The war in Judea and the sulking/anger/issues of Vix, Sabina, and Hadrian just dragged for me. Once they got back to Rome I found the pace picked back up and I was sucked back in. That being said, Kate Quinn’s signature writing style is here in full force here – the wit and charisma of the characters just shines through the pages and that is something I always enjoy and look forward to in her books. I was a little afraid of how the book would end the series, but found the ending to be rewarding and appropriate and not at all how I feared!

This is the fourth novel that I have read by the author and it probably is my least favorite of them. However, please note that I hold Quinn’s works in high esteem and she is one of my favorite historical fiction authors, so even though this one was a little off of the mark for me in terms of her works as a whole, I still hold it highly compared to many I have read in the genre as a whole. I will definitely be going back to read Empress of the Seven Hills to get the backstory I missed out on as well as reading any other works by this author.

If you would like a preview of the story, check out this sample.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


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

Also by Kate Quinn:

mistress of rome

Mistress of Rome (Book 1 in Empress of Rome series)
[My Review]

daughters of rome

Daughters of Rome (Book 2 in Empress of Rome series)
[My Review]

empress of the seven hills

Empress of the Seven Hills (Book 3 in Empress of Rome series)


The Serpent and the Pearl (Book 1 in Borgia series)
[My Review]

lion and the rose

The Lion and the Rose (Book 2 in Borgia series)

day of fire

A Day of Fire
[My Review]

Find Kate Quinn: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Book Alert & Giveaway: Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter

finding gabriel

Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter
E-Book, 366 pages
Momentum Books
Published on August 27, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Blurb:

Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die.
After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon's army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger.
But fate has a different plan.

Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she's moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home.

Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah - and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah's own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts - or will the cycle of history repeat again?

Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James's Broken Wing, Finding Gabrielfeatures all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Operaand Les Misérables.

You can read a sample excerpt of this book to get a taste!

Or, check out this video trailer!

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Momentum Books

About Rachel L. Demeter

rachel demeterRachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of eleven years. She enjoys writing dark, poignant romances that challenge the reader's emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel's passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.

Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.

Find Rachel L. Demeter: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter



I have the opportunity to share a giveaway of Finding Gabriel on e-book for you all today!  And it is open worldwide!!  Entries will be made via the GLEAM application below.  Open through September 13th.  Good luck!

Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter E-book Giveaway



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court