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.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Book Alert Book Blast: The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

The Lost Duchess

The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden
Paperback, 448 pages
Ebury Press
ISBN-10: 0091949238
Publication Date: June 5, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Blurb:

“An epic Elizabethan adventure with a thriller pace and a high tension love story that moves from the palaces of England to the savage wilderness of the New World.

Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can.

Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.

Emme joins Kit Doonan’s rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.

As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep…

Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in Virginia was abandoned in 1587 its fate has remained a mystery; ‘The Lost Duchess’ explores what might have happened to the ill-starred ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke.”

About the Author:

Jenny Barden

I’ve had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armor at Tamworth Castle. Training as an artist, followed by a career as a city Jenny (Portrait 2)solicitor, did little to help displace my early dream of becoming a knight. A fascination with the Age of Discovery led to travels in South and Central America, and much of the inspiration for my debut came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. The sequel centers on the first Elizabethan ‘lost colony’ of early Virginia. I am currently working on an epic adventure during the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada.

My work has appeared in short story collections and anthologies and I’ve written for non-fiction publications including the Historical Novels Review. I am active in many organizations, having run the ‘Get Writing’ conferences for several years, and undertaken the coordination of the Historical Novel Society’s London Conference 2012. I am a member of that organization as well as the Historical Writers’ Association, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. I’ll be coordinating the RNA’s annual conference in 2014.

I have four children and now live on a farm in Dorset with my long suffering husband and an ever increasing assortment of animals.

I love travelling, art, reading and scrambling up hills and mountains (though I’m not so keen on coming down!).

You can find Jenny Barden at the following sites: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog.

Also by Jenny Barden:

Mistress of the Sea, Publication Date: June 20, 2013, Ebury Press.
Available in Paperback and Ebook

“Mistress Cooksley may be a wealthy merchant’s daughter, but she blushes at my words and meets my eyes look for look. Yet I cannot hope to court her without fortune, and a dalliance with a pretty maid will not hinder me from my path.

Captain Drake’s endeavour might bring me gold, but I, Will Doonan, will have my revenge.

The Spaniards captured my brother and have likely tortured and killed him. For God and St George, we’ll strike at the dogs and see justice done.

I thought I’d left Mistress Cooksley behind to gamble everything and follow Drake, and here she is playing the boy at the ends of the world. She’s a fool with a heart as brave as any man’s. Yet her presence here could be the ruin of us all…”

The Lost Duchess_Tour Banner_FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour/blast by visiting the HFVBT website or on Twitter with the following hashtags: #LostDuchessBlogTour  #LostDuchessBookBlast.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon (UK), Amazon (AUS), Book Depository.

Virtual Tour and Book Blast Schedule

Monday, May 26
Review & Giveaway at
Let Them Read Books
Book Blast at Reading the Ages
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, May 27
Review at
A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

Wednesday, May 28
Review at
Carole’s Ramblings and Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Book Blast at The Little Reader Library

Thursday, May 29
Book Blast at
The Maiden’s Court
Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Book Blast at Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Friday, May 30
Review at
WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at Curling Up by the Fire

Saturday, May 31
Book Blast at
From L.A. to LA
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books

Sunday, June 1
Book Blast at
Lily Pond Reads
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, June 2
Review & Giveaway at
The Tudor Enthusiast
Book Blast at The Bookworm
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, June 3
Review at
Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy
Book Blast at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog

Wednesday, June 4
Review at
The Wormhole
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, June 5
Book Blast at
Books and Benches
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, June 6
Interview at
Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at
Royal Reviews
Book Blast at History Undressed

Sunday, June 8
Book Blast at
Book Nerd

Monday, June 9
Review at
A Chick Who Reads
Book Blast at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Tuesday, June 10
Review at
She Reads Novels
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, June 11
Review at
Historical Fiction Obsession
Book Blast at Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 12
Book Blast at
Big Book, Little Book
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Notebook

Friday, June 13
Review at
Susan Heim on Writing
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Saturday, June 14
Book Blast at
Hardcover Feedback
Book Blast at One Book at a Time

Sunday, June 15
Book Blast at
Passages to the Past

Monday, June 16
Review at
Layered Pages
Review at Starting Fresh
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, June 17
Review at
The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Wednesday, June 18
Review & Giveaway at
Luxury Reading

Thursday, June 19
Review at
A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Girl Lost in a Book

Friday, June 20
Review at
Broken Teepee
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Virtual Tour: The Natchez Trace Trail


The Natchez Trace has been mentioned directly or in passing in a couple of different books I have read recently, and I really didn’t have much of an idea of what this really was. Apparently, it is a trail!

The Natchez Trace is a 440 mile trail that stretches from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. It began as an early Native American and natural animal trail and in the 18th and 19th centuries became more trafficked by European traders. As with any highly traveled roads during this time period – they were also highly trafficked by robbers and highwaymen. Many travelers, including Meriwether Lewis, met their fates on this trail. With the mainstream usage of the steamboat, transportation of goods traveled up and down the waterways as opposed to over the land-routes and the usage of the Trace decreased and eventually dried up. Today, the main travelers of the Trace are tourists and historians.

As the trail covers 440 miles there are many areas where you could pick up and enjoy various areas of the Trace. But there are a few good places to start!

The Natchez Trace Trail and Parkway are kept up by the National Park Service. The Parkway is a scenic 2 lane roadway that runs along the Trace. It has limited access from 50 entry points. Along the trail, there are various historic sites where you can stop and visit. Among the sites are: the Meriwether Lewis Museum, Mount Locust stand, Mississippi Craft Center, Rocky Springs Ghost Town, scenic Cypress Swamp, Chickasaw Village, and Meriwether Lewis National Monument.

Places of Interest:

  • Emerald Mound – Located at milepost 10.3 – this is the second largest ceremonial mound in the US. This is a ceremonial site and there is a walking path to the top of the mound for a beautiful scenic view.
  • Mount Locust – Located at milepost 15.5 – The last remaining “stand” or local inn on the Trace. Park rangers man the stand and can provide historical interpretation.
  • The Sunken Trace – Located at milepost 41.5 – One of the most traveled portions of the trace caused the trace to sink.

Photo Credit: National Park Service

  • Rocky Springs Ghost Town - Located in Claiborne County, Mississippi between the Old Port Gibson Road and the Natchez Trace Parkway at mile post 54.8. Once a prosperous town, Rocky Springs faced problem after problem and by 1940 there were no residents left in the town. All that remains is the church, post office safe, and a cistern. There is a campground space here – no hookups.
  • The Ross Barnett Reservoir – Located at mile post 105.6 and 107.9. Just a reservoir with beautiful scenery.
  • Cypress Swamp – Located at milepost 122.0. This is a self-guided walking trail through the cypress swamp.

Cypress Swamp, Natchez Trace Parkway
Photo Credit: Marc Muench

  • The Little Mountain Overlook at Jeff Busby – Located near milepost 193. This is one of the highest points along the Trace. There is a picnic area and campground here.
  • Bynum Mounds – Located at milepost 232.4. A grouping of 6 burial mound sites – two of which have been restored and interpretive exhibits are here telling the story of early inhabitants.
  • Chickasaw Village Site – Located at milepost 268.1. Representative of the native villages that were once here.
  • Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center – Located a milepost 266 – approximately halfway on the trail. There is an orientation film, interpretive exhibits, and store.
  • Confederate Gravesites – Located at milepost 269.4 – 13 mysterious Confederate gravesites – origins being a mystery.
  • Pharr Mounds Site – located at milepost 268.7 – the site of 8 burial mounds with interpretive signs.
  • Colbert’s Ferry – located at milepost 327.3 – now there is a bridge that spans the Tennessee River, but previously George Colbert operated his ferry here. Great site for picnicking and boating.
  • Rock Spring Nature Trail – located at milepost 330.2 – a short hiking trail around Colbert Creek.
  • Meriwether Lewis National Monument – located at milepost 385.9 - this is the location of where Lewis died and a monument/gravesite. Here you can read through an interpretive history of Lewis. There is also a campsite and picnic area here.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • Fall Hollow Trail – located at milepost 391.9 – a short hike to a beautiful waterfall.
  • The Tobacco Farm and Old Trace Drive – located at milepost 401.4 – here you can access the Old Trace itself only if traveling from south to north. The tobacco farm provides information about one of the local agricultural pursuits.
  • Jackson Falls – located at milepost 404.7 – a short hike to the falls – a popular tourist site.
  • Birdsong Hollow – located at milepost 438 – views here of the double arched bridge located here.

If you plan on visiting any of these sites, you might find some maps useful. It would also be helpful to know where you can access amenities, such as food, gas, and lodging. As these are not typically provided along the Trace itself, they are typically close by. You can download the Visitors Guide here for additional information about traveling the Trace. The guide provides maps, locations of amenities, and historical marker information.

Here is a quick little video introduction to the Trace:

Have you visited any of the sites along the Trace?  I would love to hear about your journey.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge


Scholastic always offers some great resources to parents and educators to encourage kids to read or to enhance their reading experience.  I have posted about a few of these in the past.  I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about their 8th Summer Reading Challenge

The Challenge runs from May 5th to September 5th and they are hoping to set a world record with minutes read.  There are 3 ways you can participate:

  • Kids – they can log in (with a parent’s help) and log the number of minutes they read this summer.  They can answer challenge questions to earn virtual rewards.  And as greater encouragement – every time they reach a weekly milestone they can enter a giveaway to win some awesome books.  Their reading minutes can also count toward their school’s reading total.
  • Educators (with a Scholastic account) – you can register your students and track their reading progress; discover free resources and book lists; and have a chance to win 50 books for you classroom or school library.
  • Parents: you can help your children read with various resources and a reading time app.  There are also free book lists, activities, and out tips. 

Here are some of the tools that you might find useful with your young reader:

You can also visit the Scholastic Parent’s Facebook page for additional information and updates.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interview with Juliet Waldron

Today I have the opportunity to welcome author Juliet Waldron to The Maiden’s Court.  She has answered a few questions about her writing to and career to help us get to know her a little better.  There is a giveaway at the end too!

waldron books

You have written several novels – how would you characterize your writing style for someone who has never read one of your books?

I’ve been influenced by all the period material I’ve read, hopefully without driving the reader crazy. Style, book to book, owes a great deal to the main character. As I’ve written several novels in first person, identity is expressed through style. For instance, the artistic, vulnerable teen-ager of My Mozart requires more poetry and greater sentence complexity than does the clear-eyed servant who tells the story of Roan Rose.

How do you approach the historical elements in your novels – are they more of a framework/background for the story you are telling or is your story really rooted in the historical elements?

Mozart’s Wife represents twenty years of detailed research. It was particularly important to me to figure out what went on between Mozart and his “Best Beloved Little Wife”. Sometimes, certainly, you have to intuit events from one-sided information. (18th Century wives who survived their great men frequently burned and/or bowdlerized personal correspondence.) On the other hand, Genesse and Nightingale have fictional characters, but actual events provide the framework. Roan Rose is roughly a 50/50 mix, although I do stick carefully to timelines. If a character died in real life, then he/she dies in my fiction, too.

A couple of your novels are set during the American Revolution (Genesse and Angel’s Flight) and a couple center around Mozart (Mozart’s Wife and My Mozart). What has drawn you to these topics in particular?

The Revolution in New York was familiar to me, both from school days and as an exciting story of family history. It always thrilled me to look around our peaceful country home and imagine when it was The Wild, Wild East, complete with Indians, settlers and marauding armies.

Mozart represents crazy time. He moved into my life in the early ‘80’s and didn’t leave until recently. His music is drop-dead beautiful, and he’s a powerful, telepathic personality. As I’m more than slightly OCD, that made a fateful combination. It was All Mozart All the Time around here for years.

Do you like to read the same style of books that you write? Or are your personal tastes very different?

When it comes to historical fiction, I’m open to any writer who can whisk me away to another place and time. However, I spend more time reading non-fiction, which means history, articles on material culture and archeology.

What do we have to look forward to see coming from your pen in the future?

I’m working on Black Magic (sequel to Red Magic), a historical fantasy with shape-shifters of a peculiarly local kind. This story is set in the Alps just after the Napoleonic wars, about the same time Mary Shelley was at work.


“Not all who wander are lost.” Juliet Waldron earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist’s model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after the boys left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience for herself–and for her readers. She loves her grand-girls and her kitties, likes to take long hikes, and reads historical/archeological non-fiction as well as reviewing for the Historical Novel Society. For summer adventure, she rides behind her husband of 50 years on his “bucket list” (black, and ridiculously fast) Hyabusa motorcycle.

You can find Juliet at the following locations: website and Facebook.

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

Juliet Waldron_Tour Banner

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

And now for a giveaway – tour wide:

To win a $20 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on July 1st and notified via email.
  • Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Book Alert Book Blast: Puritan Witch by Peni Jo Renner


Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames by Peni Jo Renner
eBook, Hardcover and Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1491705930
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Blurb:

“On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman-and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved. Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft. After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions. In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.”

About the Author:

Peni Jo Renner

Peni Renner is the author of Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great grandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachusetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into genealogy and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.

After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.

I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.

You can find the author at the Puritan Witch Facebook page or on Twitter.

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

Praise for Puritan Witch

“Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames is a story of the fear, suspicion, and accusations as they permeate the surrounding communities. The narration was exquisite, really painting a picture in my head and bringing to life the language of the Puritans much better than it usually is done. I loved that it was based on a true story and that the story really expands on a piece of the darkest of American history. Such a cool read!” – Katelyn Hensel, Readers’ Favorite

“Elegantly written, meticulously researched, and historically accurate, the author’s work rings true. … Renner’s vast talent as a writer is enhanced by the fact that she’s telling the story of her own family, completely captivating from beginning to end.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman

“In the colonial-era tale Puritan Witch, the plight of Rebecca Eames and her family plays out against the backdrop of one of the most intriguing periods in American history.” – Julie Castillo, writer and editor

Puritan Witch_Tour Banner FINAL

Virtual Tour and Book Blast Schedule:

Monday, April 28
Book Blast at
Broken Teepee
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, April 29
Book Blast at
The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Wednesday, April 30
Review & Giveaway at
Closed the Cover

Thursday, May 1
Book Blast at
Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, May 2
Book Blast at
Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, May 3
Book Blast at
Griperang’s Bookmarks

Sunday, May 4
Book Blast at
I’d Rather Be Reading

Monday, May 5
Book Blast at
Kincavel Korner

Tuesday, May 6
Review at
Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 7
Review at
Books in the Burbs
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, May 8
Book Blast at
Curling Up with a Good Book

Friday, May 9
Spotlight & Giveaway at
Passages to the Past
Book Blast at Carpe Librum

Monday, May 12
Interview at
Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, May 13
Review & Interview at
Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 14
Book Blast at
Historical Tapestry

Thursday, May 15
Review at
A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, May 16
Book Blast at
Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, May 19
Review at
Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, May 20
Review at
100 Pages a Day
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 21
Book Blast at
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 22
Guest Post at
Bibliophilic Book Blog

Friday, May 23
Review at
Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at Reviews by Molly

Saturday, May 24
Book Blast at
Book Nerd

Monday, May 26
Review at
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, May 27
Review at
WTF Are You Reading?
Guest Post at Layered Pages

Wednesday, May 28
Book Blast at
CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 30
Review & Giveaway at
The True Book Addict

Monday, June 2
Review & Giveaway at
Peeking Between the Pages
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

You can also follow along with the tour on Twitter using the following hashtags: #PuritanWitchTour #PeniJoRenner #VirtualBookTour


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Daughter of the Gods Cover

Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton
Paperback, 448 pages
May 6, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction

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

“Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt...and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Horus Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall....”

I was quite excited to read this novel – I have always had a fascinating with Egypt, and especially the women pharaohs and queens. I also very much enjoyed reading The Secret History last year and had high expectations for the author’s treatment of Hatshepsut. I am pleased to say that this book met all my expectations and then some!

Hatshepsut was an interesting character to follow – she certainly wasn’t a woman like her other contemporaries. I feel like it wasn’t just characterization, but that Thornton captured the essence of who this long ago woman truly was. She was frustrating at times – that is for sure – but she was driven to reach an ultimate goal – and she did. The other characters were all great as well – but Hatshepsut was truly the star of the show here. One of the things that I thought was excellently done, was that almost all of the characters were written in shades of grey. There were moments when they questioned everything they did, moments that they came off as the bad guy, and moments where they were pure genius. It made for a complex interplay between the characters that enriched the story.

The plot pacing was excellent – the twists you did not see coming, but after the reveal you could go back and recognize little hints here and there sometimes. There were little twists throughout and I enjoyed each of them. The romance plot thread I loved. I was so committed to the two characters and all the bad things that happened made my heart hurt. I can even say that I shed a few tears. I was a little ambivalent about the epilogue – at first I didn’t really like it, but then it made sense to clear up one last question that history has left to us. I also appreciated that as the reader we were allowed to be intelligent and be given the treatment of the Egyptian religious world. There were enough details to understand it and it didn’t feel dumbed down or overly explained.

I couldn’t put the book down – each page pulled me along and compelled me to read that much further. I can’t wait to see what the author does with the wives of Genghis Kahn in her next novel. I encourage you to pick up any of the works by this author.

Author Stephanie Thornton also has written The Secret History. You can visit Stephanie’s website for additional information about 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).

Daughter of the Gods_Tour Banner _FINAL

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

I also have a giveaway for you all as part of the tour.  It is for one paperback copy and is open to the USA and Canada only.  The giveaway will be open until May 31st and entries can be made through the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mailbox Monday #170


It’s Monday and you know what that means – book reveals!  I received 3 books over the last 2 weeks!


  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – (purchased audiobook from Audible)  I have been told repeatedly that this is a good book and everyone is surprised I haven’t read it yet.  And with the series coming out in August (I think) I should really try and get this book read.  While I already have it in paperback, I stand a better chance at listening to it on audio – even at 33 hours!
  • The Poisoned Crown by Maurice Druon – (received for review from publisher) So the cover blurb from George R. R. Martin sort of did it for me – even though I know to take them with a grain of salt. 
  • A Dangerous Madness by Michelle Diener – (obtained through Netgalley via the author for review) I really enjoyed Diener’s previous release and this includes some characters from Banquet of Lies so I had to pick it up.
  • And what did you get this week?

    Mailbox Monday has returned to its home base blog. You can visit the site to see what everyone received this week!


    Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    Suddenly Sunday: Happy Mother’s Day

    Suddenly Sunday

    Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mother’s out in my audience.  I hope you all had/are having a wonderful day.  It has been a beautiful day here in the northeast and we spent it picnicking, hiking, and eating ice cream at the roadside stand.  Just a wonderful day all around.

    We went for a hike at Quabbin Reservoir – which you might remember from discussions about it surrounding the novel, Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara.  You can read my earlier post about the 4 towns that were drowned to create the reservoir.  I was hoping to hike to the old Common of the former town of Dana (the only part of any of the towns you can actually visit) but we didn’t make it that far on this trip.  Instead we took the scenic route and hit up the Enfield Over Look.  It is an interesting area as you can get a view of what the town used to look like from this area with the help of the historical marker and also the current view of the reservoir.  Here are some of the photos I took today:

    Also, I selected the winner of the giveaway of To Live Forever by Andra Watkins. For once, the reveal is actually timely! And the winner is Gina D!  Congrats!  The email has been sent out and if no response is received within 5 days I will select a new winner. 


    Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


    Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Two Sides: The Death of Meriwether Lewis

    The Death of Meriwether Lewis: Suicide or Homicide
    Yes, I am talking about that Meriwether Lewis – of the Lewis and Clark Louisiana Purchase Expedition fame.
    Meriweather Lewis
    Charles Willson Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    To be quite honest with you, I had no idea that there was even any intrigue involving his death until about a month ago when I read the premise of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins. Apparently many kids learn in school that within two years following his return from the Expedition, Meriwether Lewis took his life in a small stand (like an old school tavern/hotel/B&B) on the Natchez Trace on his way to Washington D.C. Well, I didn’t even learn that much. So I was very interested in learning more about his death, but imagine my surprise when I started reading that there is speculation that maybe it was a homicide and not a suicide. So I did some research and talked with co-workers and even watched a television episode of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded (the second episode of the show) on the subject. The natural progression is to now discuss it with you! Was Meriwether Lewis murdered or did he commit suicide?


    The traditional story that has made its way into the history books, and is also the generally accepted theory, is that Lewis was going through a very hard time financially and was relatively unstable. He was on his way to sell his Expedition journals in Washington D.C. to get the much needed funds to pay off his creditors. Early on this trip he was supposed to have been held in a state of house arrest by a Major Russell because of his instability – and that while under house arrest he attempted suicide twice. He continued on from there to a place known as Grinder’s Stand, in Tennessee and that while there he succeeded in taking his own life via a gunshot to the chest and one to the head. Major Russell sent a letter dictating the prior suicide attempts and Major Neely sent a letter telling the details of how he found Lewis. With both of these pieces of evidence, President Jefferson and Lewis’ cohort, William Clark, accepted the finding of suicide.


    A newer version of events is that Lewis was murdered at Grinder’s Stand as part of a conspiracy arranged by General James Wilkinson. Wilkinson is suspected because he was Lewis’ greatest rival and he was sore due to being replaced as the Governor of Louisiana by Lewis upon his return from the Expedition. Wilkinson had a great amount of influence and if he wanted to could have easily pulled off a murder. Major Neely was assigned as Lewis’ guard by Wilkinson, suspicious at best. Lewis was murdered and Neely, Russell, and the Grinder’s conspired to tell the world it was a suicide.

    Some additional pieces of evidence that support this theory:
    • No one investigated the death of a national hero
    • The one witness to his death, Mrs. Grinder, changed her story at least three times
    • A report from the 1840’s, when an inquest was being performed with regard to the body of Lewis for establishing the monument to him showed that he had a hole in the back of his head, but no mention of the front. This would have been inconsistent with a suicide by gunshot with the type of weapon he had.
    • The handwriting of the letter by Major Russell telling of Lewis’ prior suicide attempts was tested by a forensic handwriting analyst in 1996 (compared with other communications by him) and found to be a forgery.
    • Mr. Grinder happened to come into some money right after the death of Lewis – looks suspicious
    • Court documents show that Major Neely was in court, over two days ride away, on the day that Lewis died, when he stated in his letter that he saw Lewis on the day of his death

    Photo credit: jdj150 via Visual hunt / CC BY
    There is much evidence to support both the theory of suicide and murder. I think that one way to become much closer to the truth is through the exhumation of the body of Meriwether Lewis to analyze the remains. However, this will not be completed because it is located on National Park Service property and they have turned down the request of the Lewis descendants. What do you think? Is the newer evidence at all convincing? I find that it is a viable possibility.

    If you are interested, you can check out the episode of Decoded about the Lewis conspiracy.  You can also read some more about the monument and a little about the conspiracy at the National Park Service website.

    Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    Interview with Shannon Selin

    Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Shannon Selin to The Maiden’s Court and introducing her to many of you.  Shannon has published her novel, Napoleon in America, which is an alternate historical fiction novel looking at what might have happened if Napoleon escaped St. Helena and came to the United States.  I have not read widely within this sub-genre and am excited to explore this a little more in this interview.


    Writing a “what if” novel, also known as alternate history, is a very different avenue to write from.  How do you prepare yourself for writing this type of novel?  Is it more freeing as an author because you can craft what occurs or is it more difficult to write without a historical skeleton?

    As with any historical fiction, I prepared for writing Napoleon in America by doing a lot of historical research. Even though the novel was going to be a “what if,” I wanted it to be as plausible as possible – no alien space bats, as they say in the alternate history world. Once I accepted the unlikely scenario that Napoleon could have escaped from St. Helena, writing the book became an exercise in asking who was around at the time (early 1820s), and what might they and Napoleon have done, given their personalities and the geopolitical context. This gave me a strong skeleton on which to hang the plot.

    I used only actual historical characters – people like the Duke of Wellington, Louis XVIII and his family, the Marquis de Lafayette, John Quincy Adams, the Bonaparte family, voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, and officers of the Grande Armée who fled to the United States after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. I even worked in some events that actually happened, including an 1823 French invasion of Spain. I find it easier to write with a confined range of possibilities, rather than a wide-open slate.

    What made you pick Napoleon, and especially his escape from St. Helena, as your plot point in history to change?

    Four years ago my husband and I dined at a restaurant called Napoleon House in New Orleans. The restaurant is in a 200-year-old Creole townhouse that used to belong to a Frenchman named Nicolas Girod. He was the mayor of New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Girod hated the British and was very angry when they imprisoned Napoleon on St. Helena, which is a remote island in the South Atlantic. According to local legend, Girod fixed his house up as a residence for Napoleon, and plotted with pirate Jean Laffite and his gang to go and rescue Napoleon and bring him to the United States. A day or two before they were to set sail, they learned that Napoleon had died. 

    I read this story on the menu and said to my husband, “That would make a great book, if Napoleon had come to North America.” He said, “Why don’t you write it?” I said, “Me? Write about Napoleon?” Then I thought, “Why not?”

    Has writing always been something you dreamt of doing or was this a more recent development?  Did you always intend to write an alternate history?

    I knew from a very early age that I was going to be a writer. It was what I loved to do, and people thought I was good at it. Practically, however, I needed to make a living and raise a family. So I spent 25 years working at jobs that involved a lot of non-fiction writing – technical writing, research, government – and wrote fiction in my spare time. I started at least seven unfinished novels, all of which turned out to be excellent practice for writing Napoleon in America.

    I did not set out to write an alternate history. As with all my fiction, I simply wanted to explore an idea that was interesting to me. It was only after I’d finished Napoleon in America and realized that I had to figure out what genre it belonged to that I learned there is this whole category called alternate history.

    What has been the most challenging aspect of your writing career so far?

    Since I’m an introvert, the most challenging thing has been having to become more of a public person to market the book.

    I saw on your website that you had the opportunity to travel to historical sites with your father when you were young.  Do you continue to travel to these types of sites today?  What has been your favorite place to visit?

    I love to travel, and do so as often as time and finances permit. Wherever I go, I check out the museums and other historical attractions. It’s hard to choose a favorite, because I adore so many of them.

    Narrowing it down, I’d say my top three thus far are Pompeii in Italy, Mycenae in Greece, and L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada: Pompeii because of the extent of the site and the excitement of imagining – as you’re walking through the ancient streets and going in and out of the remains of houses and shops – how people lived; Mycenae because of the mystery of a people entwined with myth, and the power that comes across in the scale of the ruins, even though they’re over 3,000 years old; L’Anse aux Meadows because it’s the only confirmed remnant of where the Vikings settled in North America 1,000 years ago, and then left.

    Each of these sites is in a physically striking location, and – apart from the tourists – modernity does not press too closely. They bring home the impermanence of civilizations, but also the whisper we leave on the land. I find them humbling and haunting.

    You have written a few short stories, including A Petition for the Emperor and Dr. Sym Goes to Heaven. Do you find it more difficult to write short stories as opposed to a novel because of the space restriction? Are you still writing short stories, or focusing on novels?

    Though I don’t find one form easier than the other, I do like the discipline of writing a short story, of having to tell a tale succinctly and powerfully.

    I wrote the stories you mentioned, as well as a couple of others, after I finished Napoleon in America, as a way of clearing my head and taking a break from the novel. They arose from anecdotes I came across in my research – things where I thought, “Gee, I wonder how that happened.” In the case of A Petition, it was a reference to some French Canadians who tried to deliver a petition to Napoleon in 1805, asking him to help free them from English rule. In the case of Dr. Sym, it was about a tussle between some nuns and Protestants over the burial of a Montreal doctor in 1807. In each case, I used only real characters and imagined what might have happened to bring about that historical tidbit. Readers can find links to the stories (they’re free) on my website at shannonselin.com.

    I am now back to novel-writing. I have more short stories in the works, which I’ll return to the next time I need a break.

    Do you have any future writing plans?  If so, do you intend to write another alternate history or another genre type?

    I am working on the sequel to Napoleon in America, so by default it’s alternate history. There will probably be at least three books in the Napoleon series. After that, I’ll keep writing novels, though I don’t know what genre they’ll be. I will likely stick with historical fiction because I love history so much and it’s such a rich vein to tap. But it will really depend on what idea I find interesting at the time. In any case, I will definitely continue to write. It’s what I’ve always done.


    Shannon Selin was born and raised in the small town of Biggar, Saskatchewan (“New York is big, but this is Biggar”). Her father was a history teacher, so she grew up immersed in history books and spent her holidays tramping around battlefields, graveyards and museums. Her early obsessions included Vikings, the Tudors and the Statue of Liberty.

    Shannon always knew she would write novels, but the need to make a living and raise a family came first. She worked at jobs that involved a lot of non-fiction writing, including university research, technical writing and working for government, namely Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and British Columbia’s Ministry of Health. She has published many articles, book chapters and monographs in the fields of international security and health care.

    Realizing that she needed to do what she always wanted to do, Shannon now writes historical fiction full time. Her short stories have appeared in The Copperfield Review and CommuterLit.com. Her novel Napoleon in America, which imagines what might have happened if Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States in 1821, was published in January 2014. Shannon is working on the sequel.

    Shannon has a BA in Political Science from the University of Saskatchewan and an MA in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. She lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two of her three children (the other one is at university).

    You can find Shannon at the following sites: Website; Blog; Twitter; Facebook.

    Book Blurb:

    Former French Emperor Napoleon has been imprisoned on a dark wart in the Atlantic since his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Rescued in a state of near-death by Gulf pirate Jean Laffite, Napoleon lands in New Orleans, where he struggles to regain his health aided by voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. Opponents of the Bourbon regime expect him to reconquer France. French Canadians beg him to seize Canada from Britain. American adventurers urge him to steal Texas from Mexico. His brother Joseph pleads with him to settle peacefully in New Jersey.

    As Napoleon restlessly explores his new land, he frets about his legacy. He fears for the future of his ten-year-old son, trapped in the velvet fetters of the Austrian court. While the British, French and American governments follow his activities with growing alarm, remnants of the Grande Armée flock to him with growing anticipation. Are Napoleon’s intentions as peaceful as he says they are? If not, does he still have the qualities necessary to lead a winning campaign?

    Book Trailer:

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


    Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

    Thursday, May 1, 2014

    Book Review: To Live Forever by Andra Watkins

    To Live Forever

    To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis
    by Andra Wilkins
    e-Book, 311 pages
    Wood Hermit Press
    March 1, 2014

    Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal Fiction

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

    “Explorer Meriwether Lewis has been stuck in Nowhere since his mysterious death nearly two centuries ago. His last hope for redemption is helping nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney flee her madame mother in New Orleans and find her father in Nashville. To get there, Merry must cross his own grave along the Natchez Trace, where he duels the corrupt Judge, an old foe who has his own despicable plans for Em.”

    Let me start by saying that this can only loosely be described as historical fiction – it has much stronger elements of the paranormal genre with historical details laced in. Obviously Meriwether Lewis is of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition – and we get some details of that expedition and his life afterward as governor of the Louisiana Territory and the controversy surrounding his death. However, none of the story is actually set in the past. It takes place in 1977. This I had an issue with because looking back on all of the book blurbs and summaries it never stated that the main portion of the story takes place this recently. I was a little disappointed to be spending so much time in what is still relatively the present. This made me appreciate the above mentioned historical tidbits all the more since they were the morsels I was looking for.

    With that out of the way, I really did enjoy this book on its own merits as a lite paranormal story. I liked the way the author opened the novel with an obituary for Meriwether Lewis and a self-reflection by the character on his legacy. The Purgatory type world that the author created (as a run-down bar) and the need to complete some sort of task which was unknown to move on was an interesting plotline. One of the things that kept me guessing was whether or not each person they met was a “real” person or someone like Lewis who was on his quest to be able to pass on. I really feel that there was a Huckleberry Finn reference in one of the characters – which if so, I enjoyed being able to catch, since I always miss those things.

    There were a couple of areas of which I found myself confused while reading and these always appeared to be the big action scenes. The two scenes that stood out in my mind were the escape from the steamboat and the re-enactor camp. I had to keep going back to figure out just what happened and then, in the instance of the boat escape, just resolved myself with the notion that they got off of that boat and into the water somehow. I think the author was trying to possibly convey chaos and confusion, but it was not well executed. In contrast, the author’s shining moments were when Em and Lewis were in a scene by themselves. You could really feel what the characters felt for each other and how much each truly depended on the other. They both changed because of the influence of the other. I enjoyed the way the author chose to switch between the narration or Em and Lewis so that as a reader we were able to see events and their perspectives from both sides

    My best summary would be that it was a great “buddy story” with instances of sometimes successful action sequences.

    This is the first novel for author Andra Watkins. You can visit her website or blog for additional information about the book.  Her blog also features her walk along the entire Natchez Trace and her stops along the way which, I am going to check out.

    Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

    To Live Forever_Tour Banner_FINAL

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

    Thanks to the HFVBT tour, I have one copy of either a print or e-Book copy (winner’s choice) of To Live Forever to giveaway.  Note: Print copy is only available for those residing in the USA – e-Book is open worldwide.  Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway ends May 11th.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court