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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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

T4MC Part 12

T4MC 12

The Four Month Challenge Part 12
May 1, 2013 – August 30, 2013
Hosted by Book Drunkard

This will be my 12th attempt at this challenge and I still enjoy it every time.  I did fairly well in the 11th installment – 145 points, quite an acceptable accomplishment.

The goal is to read one book for each category below.  I will update my score as I go.

5 Point Challenges

Read the second book in a series – Complete – The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner

Read a book with water on the cover

Read a book with a color in the title – CompleteThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Read  a book set in the 1900′s – CompleteThe Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Read a book whose author name begins with M (First or last) – CompleteMurder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

10 Point Challenges

Read a book published during your birth year

Read a book with a door, lock or key on the cover

Read a book with a flower/flowers on the cover – CompleteRoses by Leila Meacham

Read a book with something ‘hot’ in the title (sun, fire, heat, etc)

Read a book whose author name begins with J (first name only)

15 Point Challenges

Read a book currently on a bestseller list

Read a book that shows a woman from behind – Complete – The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton

Read a book with a moon or stars on the cover

Read a book with an adjective in the title – CompleteThe Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

Read a book whose author name begins with J (last name only)

20 Point Challenges

Read any book in one weekend (Friday to Sunday) – CompleteAsenath by Anna Patricio

Read a book with a child on the cover

Read a book with over 400 pages – Complete -  Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick (533 pgs)

Read a book with an animal on the cover – CompleteValley of Horses by Jean M. Auel

Read a book whose author name begins with A (first or last) – CompleteThe Little Bride by Anna Solomon

140 out of 250 Points


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday #140


Well Monday has come around yet again.  I keep hoping maybe the weekend will hold out a bit longer each time- but to no avail. 

So this week was a quiet one around here in terms of the mailbox.  I picked up just one book this week and it didn’t even come into my mailbox!

Last Wednesday I went to an author book chat with Mary Beth Keane, author or Fever.  I had previously received a download copy of the audiobook which I enjoyed, however I wanted a copy for her to sign, so I picked up the hardcover copy.  I’m going to chalk this up to supporting my local, independent book seller. 

I know I have mentioned them before, but R.J. Julia in Madison, CT is absolutely wonderful.  They have an author event almost every day-from local authors to big named authors.  They also have a great selection of books, and you can also buy from them online.  I have been going to them for probably about 6 years now, and will drive way out of my way to visit them.  Check them out online and you might fall in love with them too!

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of April it is being hosted by Mari Reads.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Iscariot by Tosca Lee


Iscariot: A Novel of Judas by Tosca Lee
Unabridged, 9 hr. 11 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Jason Culp (Narrator)
February 5, 2013

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Source: Received for review from publisher

“In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—a miracle-worker. The promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, Judas joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life.
But Judas’ vision of a nation free from Roman rule is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems in the end to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.

Iscariot is the story of Judas—from his tumultuous childhood and tenuous entry into a career and family life as a devout Jew, to a man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus himself that forces us all to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.”

Being someone that isn’t very religious, I find I am still drawn to the stories from the Bible. That being said, I typically prefer my stories to be from the Old Testament. However, this story of Judas – the perpetual antagonist in any New Testament story of Jesus gets a new treatment by Tosca Lee and that drew me into this novel.

Iscariot follows Judas from his youth to his death and fills in many of the gaps in his life left by the Bible. We learn about what his life might have been like leading up to meeting Jesus and get some insight into why he might have made some of the choices he did throughout his life. Lee’s Judas isn’t a perfect character – he is still flawed but you get into his mind and soul and see how he might have viewed the events that were transpiring around him. While reading the novel I found myself discussing it with my fiancé who knows more of the Biblical stories than I do, and it appears that Lee did follow many of the events of the Bible while enhancing the background.

One of the aspects that I really appreciated about this book was the fact that the author was able to bring the belief of Jesus as the savior into a real world setting. For me, the events of the Bible always seem sort of suspended above reality and I felt very connected with the world that Lee created and could more easily believe all of the drama that ensued. The story really sucked me in and there was something interesting and engaging at every turn.

I think that this is a book that any historical or Biblical fiction fan would enjoy. There is enough consistency with the Biblical stories but also enough fiction to create an interesting yarn. The ending certainly surprised me, but that was because I didn’t know the Biblical story.



The narration for this book was excellent. I enjoyed the voice of the narrator and it was easy to listen to and not at all dry or monotonous. I could actually believe that he was voicing Judas.

Author Tosca Lee also has written another Biblical Fiction book - Havah: The Story of Eve. You can visit her website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also watch the book trailer here.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guest Post by M. J. Rose–Seduction

Please join me in welcoming author M. J. Rose and her new book, Seduction.  Today we are treated to an image and quote from Victor Hugo that had some inspiration on the author and her writing.

Victor Hugo and Seduction
Guest Post by M. J. Rose, author of


All the grief was pressing down, forcing her to feel the magnitude of all the deaths, all the defeats, and of the fresh loss of the lover she’d so desperately wanted to hold on to. Jac felt as if she’d walked into a giant silken web woven of sadness and was now trapped in its threads.
                                     Excerpt from SEDUCTION - From Chapter 2


I am a soul. I know well that what I shall render up to the grave is not myself. That which is myself will go elsewhere. Earth, thou art not my abyss!
                                       -Victor Hugo

M J  Rose

You can find M. J. Rose on her website or blog for further information about her books.  You can also find her on Facebook or Twitter.

You can follow along with the rest of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour at the website or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour.

Seduction Tour Banner FINAL

From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Connection with Battleship

As I have mentioned previously, my choice to read and review Battleship by Dorothy Ours was based on a personal connection to this horse’s story. I wanted to share this story with you all.

When I went to Virginia last summer my favorite place that we visited was Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison. Before arriving at the visitor’s center, I had no idea that another family had lived there following the Madison’s before it was given to the historical society – never mind that it was the well-known DuPont family. Even if I had known that the DuPont’s had lived there, I would never have made a connection with horse racing. So you might be able to imagine my confusion when we were driving up the long driveway and were passing a horse racetrack off to the right hand side – I remember asking, “I wonder what that is for?”.

Starting gate of the racecourse
Photo Credits: Heather Rieseck, 2012

During my walk around the grounds I did a little “off-the-map” exploring. We were standing at the stone temple area and as I looked off to the side I saw a series of three gravestones. Since I knew the family cemetery and the slave cemetery were at the other end of the property (which were marked on the map), I couldn’t imagine what they would be for. When I arrived I noticed that the names were Annapolis, Battleship, and a third whose name I cannot remember. Eventually I put together the racetrack, DuPont’s ownership of horses, and the gravesites together to realize that these were where some of their favorite/prize winning horses were buried.

gravestones horses
Battleship’s gravestone is the one in the middle.  At the time, the horse cemetery didn’t mean anything to me, so I didn’t take any better pictures.
Photo Credits: Heather Rieseck, 2012

While reading, Battleship, the following two passages really brought me back to my experience at Montpelier and the author really got the description right:

“She would move Battleship and Annapolis to one side of Montpelier’s front lawn, about half a furlong from the house. Battleship was laid to rest on a path of particular honor, set along a straight line to James Madison’s meditation temple and Montpelier’s front door.” (Kindle location 4432-34)

“She had the letters and numbers on Battleship’s simple headstone carved deeply enough to last a thousand years.” (Kindle location 4434).

Now I have one more connection to my fabulous Virginia trip!

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mailbox Monday #139


Just a couple things that I received this week – they actually all arrived on one day.

All were received for review – one arrived despite saying that I wouldn’t be able to review it because of time commitments.

  • Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey (book 3 in the trilogy) – received from the publisher for my participation in the upcoming tour with HFVBT.

A novel for fans of Philippa Gregory and Michelle Moran, Confessions of Marie Antoinette blends rich historical detail with searing drama, bringing to life the first years of the French Revolution and the final days of the legendary French queen.

Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.

Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains, above all, a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen secretly attempts to arrange her family’s rescue from the clutches of the rebels, she finds that they can neither outrun the dangers encircling them nor escape their shocking fate.

  • Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys – received through Netflix from publisher.  I love the adventure sound of this one!

In 1777 Jack Absolute, the charming lover in Sheridan's comedy The Rivals, is famous throughout London. However, this notoriety comes as something of a shock to the real Jack Absolute when he arrives in England after four months at sea. But there's barely time for outrage before he finds himself dueling for his life. Even worse, as soon as he's won the duel he's forced to flee London by the quickest means possible, becoming a spy in America's war of Independence.

Thus we meet Jack Absolute - rogue, duellist, charmer and Captain in the Light Dragoons. From the field of honor in London through the pivotal battle of Saratoga to a hunt for a double agent in wintry Philadelphia, this novel marks the impressive debut of this new series.


  • The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan – received from publicist for review.

Menina Walker was a child of fortune. Rescued after a hurricane in South America, doomed to a life of poverty with a swallow medal as her only legacy, the orphaned toddler was adopted by an American family and taken to a new life. As a beautiful, intelligent woman of nineteen, she is in love, engaged, and excited about the future — until another traumatic event shatters her dreams. Menina flees to Spain to bury her misery in research for her college thesis about a sixteenth-century artist who signed his works with the image of a swallow — the same image as the one on Menina’s medal. But a mugging strands Menina in a musty, isolated Spanish convent. Exploring her surroundings, she discovers the epic sagas of five orphan girls who were hidden from the Spanish Inquisition and received help escaping to the New World. Is Menina’s medal a link to them, or to her own past? Did coincidence lead her to the convent, or fate? Both love story and historical thriller, The Sisterhood is an emotionally charged ride across continents and centuries.

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of April it is being hosted by Mari Reads.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–4/21/13

Suddenly Sunday

Good morning everyone!  Hope you are having a great spring morning – still pretty cold here.  I hope to be able to get out and do something today, but homework is turning into a sucking bog. 

I wanted to announce two winners of giveaways that ended this past week first today.

  • The winner of The City of Lights by Melika Lux is….Angela!!
  • The winner of Oleanna by Julie K. Rose is….Colleen!!

I don’t currently have any giveaways going on at the moment – however you can still get in on the giveaway being sponsored by M.J. Rose – for a Victorian choker.

Last week I posted the following posts – in case you missed them:

Coming up this week I have a personal connection story with Battleship (which I didn’t get time to do last week), a Guest Post from M. J. Rose, and a review of the audiobook Iscariot by Tosca Lee.

Hope you have a great week!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Alert: Burning Embers

burning embers

Burning Embers
By Hannah Fielding
Paperback/Kindle E-book, 282 pages
Omnific Publishing
ISBN: 1936305461
April 20, 2012

Book Blurb:

Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naive twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She's leaving the life she's known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance--the plantation that was her childhood home--Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral's childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father's death. Circumstance confirms Coral's worst suspicions, but when Rafe's life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fianc, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman's affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral's inheritance? Or does Rafe's troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine? Set in 1970, this contemporary historical romance sends the seemingly doomed lovers down a destructive path wrought with greed, betrayal, revenge, passion, and love.

You can read an excerpt of the book here or check out the book trailer below for more information.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Do You Know Battleship?

While reading Battleship by Dorothy Ours I fell in love with the titular horse – the perpetual underdog. I wanted to share some facts about him with you all today, so that you might find an interest in learning more about his story.

battleship horse
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Did you know that Battleship is the only horse to have ever won both the American Grand National and Grand National steeplechase races?

  • This is even all the more impressive when you learn that the American Grand National has been run since 1899 and the Grand National has been run since 1839!
  • Battleship won the American Grand National in 1934 and the Grand National in 1938.
  • His jockey was Carroll K. Bassett at the American Grand National and Bruce Hobbs (who was 17) for the Grand National.

Now would be a good time to give a quick explanation of the American Grand National and the Grand National and what steeplechasing is:

  • Steeplechase is a style of horse racing where thoroughbred horses jump fence, obstacles, ditches, bushes, water, etc while racing through the countryside. The race distance is typically 2-3 miles.

Battleship at the far right of the photo coming over a hedge jump
Photo Credits: Montpelier Collection

  • The American Grand National is held in the United States at various race tracks – today known as the Breeder’s Cup Grand National Steeplechase (to confuse you even more)
  • The Grand National is held in Liverpool, England at the Aintree Racecourse. The jumps here are some of the most challenging with larger jumps that those found elsewhere.

Diagram of the Aintree course with the famed jumps labeled
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  • These two races have the greatest winnings (purse) of all the steeplechase races.

Battleship was originally trained for flat racing – which is where horses race over a flat distance without hurdles.

  • He was purchased by Marion DuPont in 1931 and he was introduced to steeplechase at her farm at Montpelier, VA.

Battleship and Marion DuPont
Photo Credit: Montpelier Collection

  • He is also notable as being the son of the famed Man O’ War.

Battleship also stands out among steeplechase race horses as he was a stallion. The majority of steeplechase horses are gelded in order to prevent them from lifting their hips too high while leaping the obstacles to protect themselves. This leads to an easier and safer ride. No stallion has won the race since he did.

Battleship was retired following the Grand National, was retired to stud, sired 58 offspring, and died at the old age of 31 and is buried at Montpelier.

If you should happen to be visiting Montpelier before November there is an exhibit of Battleship being featured in the William DuPont Gallery at the Montpelier visitor center.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Battleship by Dorothy Ours


Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America’s Horse by Dorothy Ours
E-book, 368 pages
St. Martin’s Press
April 30, 2013

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, Sports History

Source: Received through Netgalley from the publisher for review

“The youngest jockey, the smallest horse, and an American heiress. Together, near Liverpool, England, they made a leap of faith on a spring day in 1938: overriding the teenage jockey’s father, trusting the boy and the horse that the British nicknamed “The American Pony” to handle a race course that newspapers called “Suicide Lane.” As a result, Battleship became the first American horse to win England’s monumental, century-old Grand National steeplechase—the smallest National winner ever. At age seventeen, British jockey Bruce Hobbs became the race's youngest winner.

Hobbs started life with an advantage: his father, Reginald, was a superb professional horseman. But Reg Hobbs also made extreme demands, putting Bruce in situations that horrified the boy’s mother and sometimes terrified the child.  Bruce had to decide just how brave he could stand to be.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the enigmatic Marion duPont grew up at the estate now known as James Madison’s Montpelier—the refuge of America’s “Father of the Constitution.”  Rejecting her chance to be a debutante, denied a corporate role because of her gender, Marion chose a pursuit where horses spoke for her.  She would be pulled beyond her own control by Battleship and leave her film star husband, Randolph Scott, to see this quest to its end. With its reach from Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to Cary Grant’s Hollywood, Battleship’s story is an epic true adventure.”

This book might not have originally caught my attention except for the fact that I recognized the horse’s name from my visit to Montpelier last year and the visit left such a lasting impression on me that I immediately had to read this book that was connected to it. I loved horses as a kid, did some riding in my teen years, and before my love of historical fiction came my love for horse-themed novels. This book takes the whole horse experience that I loved to read about as a kid and made the people and animals real.

The narrative starts out with three distinct threads – one following Marion DuPont (horse lover, owner, socialite), one following the Hobbs men (the father Reginald and son Bruce who were horse trainers and jockeys respectively), and one following an unknown, Battleship (the horse at the center of the book). Through these threads you can watch the perfect storm come together as these three eventually are brought to each other and reach for the stars. You get a little bit of everything: the life of a wealth socialite in the early 1900’s, a little Hollywood glitz and glamour, and are immersed in everything horse related. Even with my knowledge about horses, I did look up quite a few things.

For the most part I think that the author did a good job of carrying off two very different types of stories – a story of both human and animal lives – and each was just as interesting as the other. I did find some strange elements – for instance, somehow the author brings references to Charles Lindberg into the story but I didn’t find that there was any purpose to it. I also thought that the ending wrapped up much too quickly following the competition at Aintree. It was one of those plot maps with a very long exposition, quick climax, and then even faster resolution. I would have liked to know a little more how they spent their days following the competition.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love for horses and also loves the story of an underdog. Stay tuned for some Battleship related posts later this week, including a story relating my personal connection to this book and a particular passage from it that grabbed me.

Author Dorothy Ours also has written Man O’ War: A Legend Like Lightening, who was Battleship’s father. You can visit Dorothy’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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



Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Book Alert: Defiant Heart

Layout 1

Defiant Heart
By Marty Steere
Paperback/Kindle E-Book, 386 pages
Penfield Publications
ISBN: 9780985401443
April 5, 2013 (ebook), April 15, 2013 (pb)

Book Blurb:

Set against the backdrop of small town America on the eve of World War II, it features two extraordinary characters and one unforgettable love story. 

In the spring of 1941, young Jon Meyer’s family dies in a tragic accident, and he is sent to live in a small Indiana town.  He arrives to find himself unwanted and shunned. 

Mary Dahlgren is the mayor’s daughter.  A pretty girl, she could have the pick of the boys in town, including Vernon King, the star of the vaunted high school basketball team.  To the chagrin of her friends, though, Mary has always been more interested in books than boys.  That is, until she meets Jon. 

But Jon and Mary are kept apart by an insidious campaign orchestrated by Mary’s father, who perceives their relationship a threat to his political aspirations, and Vernon, to whom Jon is a rival for Mary’s affections.  For months Jon is subjected to a painful ostracism.  Then, just when the young man’s earnestness and perseverance begin to win over many of the townsfolk, and it appears that love may conquer all, tragedy strikes. 

As the country is caught up in war, so too are the young lovers swept up in events beyond their control, leaving both fighting for their very lives.  If, against the odds, they are to be together, each will need to find the strength, the courage and the resourcefulness that beat only in a defiant heart. 

Defiant Heart releases today in paperback.  This is Marty’s second novel.  The first, Sea of Crises, was published last year to excellent reviews.  Kirkus Reviews calls Sea of Crises a “stellar thriller that handily juggles its formulaic elements to achieve near-perfect liftoff.”  Publishers Weekly declares “Steere’s assured prose is compelling, and the book’s intriguing plot will keep readers turning pages until the very end.”


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–4/14/13

Suddenly Sunday

Better late than never – Happy Sunday!  I have been having a lazy day today and working on some wedding planning stuff.  Just getting around to blogging now.

I have two giveaway winners to announce first -

  • The winner of Bristol House by Beverly Swerling is…cyn209!!!
  • The winner of Through a Dusty Window by Delancey Stewart is…Rhonda!!!

Congrats ladies!  Emails have been sent out and I await your addresses!

I still have a giveaway running for Oleanna by Julie K. Rose which is open internationally and closes April 21st. 

There is also a giveaway still ongoing for a Victorian choker necklace which you can gain entries for through this blog.  If you have a Goodreads account, you can add Seduction to your To Be Read shelf. Once you have added the book to the shelf, simply enter your Goodreads Account Name into this form. I will pass the entrants names to the coordinator. The second way to enter is to pre-order Seduction. If you pre-order the book, email proof of pre-order to the following address to be entered to win:mjrosewriter@gmail.com.


Posts this Past Week:

Upcoming this Week:

  • A couple new book alerts
  • Review of Battleship by Dorothy Ours
  • Some horse/Battleship related posts

Hope you have a great week!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 12, 2013

TV Show Review: Battles B.C.

battles bc

Battles B.C.
History Channel
8 Episodes

I first learned about Battles B.C. when I was doing some research for my Greek history class on the Battle of Marathon. There happens to be an episode of this show featuring this battle and I was intrigued.

This series features 8 episodes each featuring a different historic battle from B.C. Included are: Hannibal (Carthage), David (Israel), Joshua (Israel), Caesar (Rome/Gaul), Moses (Egypt/Israel), Alexander the Great (Greece/India), Ramses II (Egypt), Battle of Marathon (Greece). For the episodes focused on specific people they tend to focus on one or two epic events, rather than looking at their entire life. For example, for Alexander, they focused on his final quest to take India in his expansion of his empire.

One element of the show that I liked a lot was there was always a spotlight on the differences in the two contending sides. You would see what the soldiers wore for armor, what types of weapons they would have fought with, and then ancillary items used (such as elephants or chariots). This made it easier to understand who was fighting who and gave a visual of advantages vs. disadvantages. They also made great use of maps and explaining techniques and battle strategies so that even a novice to war could understand what was going on. Another aspect that I enjoyed, but is an aspect has received much of the criticism for this show, is the way they showed fighting scenes. They were done much in the style of the movie 300 – where it almost looks a little like a comic book bloody scene. I thought it was a creative idea for them to pick up on the popularity of style of a movie that had recently come out and to make it a different style offering from the standard History channel style.

I also appreciated the people they had on as the “experts”. Most of them were military studies professors which is appropriate for the material being covered. Also, I thought the handling of the Biblical topics was well done. They would cite different sections of the Biblical telling of the story and then offer historical interpretations from a military perspective. I thought that they were fair to the religious view and also from a practical viewpoint.

There were a couple instances where they seemed to stay from the topic at hand, spending too much time on back story rather than what was occurring. For instance, in the episode on Marathon, they spent the majority of the episode talking about the events that had occurred 50 years prior and there was much less time spent on the actual battle. So I was in the end a little disappointed with the particular episode I got the series to see.

Favorite episode: Caesar – but a really close runner-up is Ramses

Least favorite episode: Joshua

You can read more about the episodes here.

Below is a sample of this show for your previewing enjoyment, here is also a link to view full episodes of the series on youtube – I made a playlist.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: City of Lights by Melika Lux

City of Lights

City of Lights by Melika Lux
E-Book, 167 pages
Books In My Belfry, LLC
September 29, 2012

Genre: Historical Fiction, Novella

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

“What would you risk for the love of a stranger?

Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.

Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse's life as "La Petite Coquette" of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.

Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose: will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?”

This was a difficult read for me despite the shorter format – primarily due to issues I had with the characterization. Honestly, I didn’t like, and couldn’t connect with, any of the characters. They were either the paragon of virtue, just plain evil, or a love sick puppy – seemingly the extremes but nothing in the middle. The only characters we really learned the backstory of were Ilyse and her brother, Maurice. I wanted to know more about the villain, Rakmanovich, and the love interest, Ian. I just couldn’t like them enough to really care what happened in the end. I also couldn’t get into the love story – everything happened in a matter of seconds (or sentences) and was just too quick to develop.

However, despite the above, there were things that I did like about the book. There was decent pacing to the plot. The first half focuses on Ilyse and how she came to be where she is at the present time, while the second half focuses on what was going to be done to deal with the antagonist and his dastardly plot. It did pick up the pace and ended with a more satisfying conclusion than I expected.

Author Melika Lux also has written Corcitura, a supernatural thriller/historical novel. You can visit the author’s website for additional information about the book.

You can watch the book trailer for this novel below:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

City of Lights Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #CityOfLightsVirtualTour.

I have one giveaway copy of the paperback up for grabs and it is open internationally. Giveaway will end on April 21st. Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview with Julie K. Rose & Giveaway

This morning I have the opportunity to introduce you all to author Julie K. Rose.  Her second novel, Oleanna, was recently released and she is partaking in a blog tour to celebrate.  Today she makes a stop here to answer a few questions.  Please help me welcome Julie K. Rose!  Read all the way through for a giveaway opportunity.


What was the inspiration behind this novel?

It all came from an image. I had been struggling with another book that just wasn't working, when an image came to me of a woman standing on a mountaintop, her long blond hair being whipped by the wind into her face. I came to realize quite soon that this was Norway, and that this was Oleanna, one of my great-grandfather's sisters. The characters and their personalities came to me quickly, and the tone and feel of the book was there from the start. The story itself grew and changed in the telling, and was strongly informed by the loss of my own mother earlier that year.

The setting of Norway is an unusual one in historical fiction. How did you select this locale?

As Norway is where Oleanna and Elisabeth actually lived, it was the natural place to set the book. But I also wanted to explore a time and a place not often seen in historical fiction. There are plenty of wonderful books set in Norway during the Viking and later medieval period (Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy most notably) but I have not been able to find any others set in early 20th century Norway. Plus, I wanted to share my love for such a wonderful locale.

This is your second novel- how has the process been different this second time around? Anything you learned from the first book that helped with the second?

Oleanna was actually the fourth novel I've written, but the second published, and I've learned a lot. On the writing front, I've learned to both trust myself more, and be satisfied less. I've learned (I hope) how to really accept criticism and feedback. The first book was a whirlwind in a lot of ways, figuring it out as I went—and it was painful, let me tell you! In terms of publishing, I've learned to have a much thicker skin, and to appreciate the entire process—from idea to publication—a lot more.

Any future writing plans you can tell us about?

I'm working on a manuscript called DIDO'S CROWN, set in Tunisia, France, and England, primarily in 1935. It's a kind of literary historic thriller, and I'm deep in revisions as we speak. I'm also working on a novel set in California at the turn of the century, but that one's in the middle of being drafted, so I don't think I'll say more than that!

What aspect do you enjoy most about being an author?

It is really hard to choose one aspect. I love the spark and excitement of a new idea, falling in love with the story and the characters. I love learning about the story and the characters as I flesh them out. I'm learning to love the revision process. I enjoy the publication process, as well as promotion. Interacting with readers is amazing, though. Hearing from just one person that words I've written, characters I've created, moved them is a rush, a joy, and a privilege.


Julie K. Rose is an author of historic and contemporary fiction, and she is particularly interested in the intersection of the spiritual and secular, the supernatural and the everyday, the past and the present, and the deep, instinctual draw of the land.

She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, current co-chair of the HNS Northern California chapter, and former reviewer for the Historical Novels Review. She earned a B.A. in Humanities (SJSU) and an M.A. in English (University of Virginia), and lives in the Bay Area with her husband and cat Pandora. She loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.

Oleanna, short-listed for finalists in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition, is her second novel. The Pilgrim Glass, a finalist in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom and semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, was published in 2010.

For more information on Julie K. Rose, please visit her website.

oleanna tour button

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour page or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #OleannaVirtualTour.

I have one giveaway copy up for grabs and it is open internationally!  The giveaway is open until April 21st.  Make your entries through the Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–4/7/13

Suddenly Sunday

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope you are having some great weather – I think winter might finally be on its way out of here. I am planning on going hiking today at the Quabbin Reservoir (maybe, we’ll see if it warms up like it is supposed to) – inspiration behind Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara. I will share photos in a post at a future date.

A couple of giveaways that are out and about in the blogosphere that I wanted to make sure you knew about.

A promotion by Sourcebooks: Have you wanted to read Sacred Treason by James Forrester but haven’t had the chance? The second book in the series, Roots of Betrayal, is being released soon and in celebration of the release, Sourcebook is having a promotion. If you pre-order Roots of Betrayal within the month of April you can get a free e-book copy of Sacred Treason! All you have to do to receive the free copy is email proof of pre-order to Sourcebooks at the following address: sbpublicity@sourcebooks.com. It’s that simple!

A promotion with regard to M.J. Rose’s release of Seduction: Would you like to win a Victorian style choker necklace (see image below)? There are two ways that you can be entered to win. If you have a Goodreads account, you can add Seduction to your To Be Read shelf. Once you have added the book to the shelf, simply enter your Goodreads Account Name into this form. I will pass the entrants names to the coordinator. The second way to enter is to pre-order Seduction. If you pre-order the book, email proof of pre-order to the following address to be entered to win: mjrosewriter@gmail.com.

And there are still a few giveaways that are going on here at The Maiden’s Court and more to come this week!

  • Through a Dusty Window by Delancey Stewart – giveaway of one paperback open to the US – ends April 14th.
  • Bristol House by Beverly Swerling – giveaway of one hardcover open to the US – ends April 14th
  • Upcoming this week: Oleanna by Julie K. Rose and City of Lights by Melika Lux.

We also have a giveaway winner for Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage – and the winner is…MamaBunny13! Congrats! The winner has been emailed and if there is no response in 5 days a new winner will be selected.

Stay tuned this week for an interview with Julie K Rose (with above mentioned giveaway) and a review of City of Lights by Melika Lux (with above mentioned giveaway). If I can get motivated this week there will also be some sort of review post about the TV show Battles BC, which I have been trying to write and post for about 3 weeks!

Hope you all have a great rest of the weekend and see you this week!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mailbox Monday #138


Every time I do one of these posts lately I’m surprised by the number in the title above.  Even if it was just one book each time – that’s 138 books! And you know I typically get more than one book!

Ok, enough of that.  For books this week I received three – one for review and two were giveaway wins.

1) Dancing at the Chance by DeAnna Cameron – giveaway win from Unabridged Chick (thanks Audra).  I have wanted to read this one since I heard about it.  I love this time period, dancing, etc.

New York City in 1907 is a kingdom of endless possibilities for anyone who dares to dream. The Gilded Age has ended, and immigrants fill the bustling streets. The glamour of Broadway lures those who desire the limelight-but only a few are fortunate enough to thrive in the lights of a city that casts long, dark, and merciless shadows...

Pepper MacClair and her mother arrived penniless in New York thirteen years ago, and their fortune has not changed. A dancer of fluid grace and motion, Pepper is still only one chorus girl among many, struggling for an opportunity to prove herself worthy of something bigger.

For now, Pepper dances at The Chance, a rundown venue long past its prime. It is not only Pepper's workplace, where she has pushed her physical endurance to its limit, but also her home. And as the larger world changes around her and she is pulled into the intrigues of New York's elite, it is her last hope, not only to fulfill her dream, but to fulfill her heart.

2) Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini – giveaway win from Unabridged Chick.  I hadn’t realized that this was the same author as Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker – but I was excited once I found that they were the same.  A different type of HF to be sure, but it sounds interesting.

As the nation grapples with the strictures of Prohibition, Rosa Diaz Barclay lives on a Southern California rye farm with her volatile husband, John, who has lately found another source of income far outside the Federal purview.

Mother to eight children, Rosa mourns the loss of four who succumbed to the mysterious wasting disease currently afflicting young Ana and Miguel. Two daughters born of another father are in perfect health. When an act of violence shatters Rosa’s resolve to maintain her increasingly dangerous existence, she flees with the children and her precious heirloom quilts to the mesa where she last saw her beloved mother alive.

3) Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell – received for review as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour via Netgalley.  Also a slightly different one for me – I’m not the biggest Victorian era fan, but this sounds super atmospheric.


Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts." Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

So that is what I received – what about you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of April it is being hosted by Mari Reads.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Book Alert & Giveaway

I have had Swerling’s previous novels in the City of series on my TBR for quite some time.  When I saw that Bristol House was being released and available for review I had to jump at the chance to maybe get a kick-start on her books.  It is being released in just a couple of days and I wanted to give you an early jump on a giveaway of the book!


Bristol House
By Beverly Swerling
Hardcover, 416 pages
Viking Adult
ISBN: 0670025933
April 4, 2013

Book Blurb:

In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica. Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work. He’s also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House.

In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished. In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets. Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to puzzle out—at their own peril.

This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.

Ok, now the giveaway details…

  • 1 copy (hardcover)
  • Open to the US only (no PO boxes)
  • Giveaway runs until April 14th

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: Through a Dusty Window by Delancey Stewart


Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 by Delancey Stewart
Paperback, 108 pages
Delancey Stewart Publications
November 17, 2012

Genre: Short Stories, Historical Fiction

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

“New York City is a place full of whispers and ghosts. It is impossible to walk the sidewalks there without considering the lives and paths of those who walked them before; those who left their imprints – visible and hidden – on everything that makes up the city today. Through a Dusty Window is a collection of ten short stories spanning a century between 1910 and 2001, all of which take place in the same Upper West Side brownstone apartment. Through each vignette, readers are given perspective on historical events that deeply influenced the city, filtered and understood – or misunderstood – through the eyes of Stewart’s characters. From Prohibition to World War II; the Vietnam-era Summer of Sam killings to John Lennon’s murder – Stewart’s stories give modern day explorers a chance to see the city as it was, and to answer the question: who was here before me?”

I have read collections of short stories before, however I haven’t thought of them as works of historical fiction. Through A Dusty Window gives the reader a quick glimpse into the life occurring in a brownstone in New York City throughout the decades. In those short pages you get a distinct feel for the period through dress, attitudes, and/or events. It was interesting to see decades covered that are not within the typical purview of historical fiction – such as the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s – because even though I lived through some of these events I don’t know much about them as I was very young.

I was very happy that the stories came full circle in the end and that the stories all were tied together. That was what I was hoping for when picking up this book – for this history of a house, you need something to tie the different families that lived there together in some small way. While these stories were just snippets of the lives that went on in the brownstone, it felt like they could have been developed into full stories in their own ways.

I especially liked the concept for this set of short stories. I have never lived in a house that had any sort of history or had really been around all that long – but I have always found myself wondering about those historic homes in my town that have modern day families living in them. You know that those homes have “seen” a lot go on around them as well as within their walls. So while these stories were about the people living in the house, they were also about the house itself.

I read this collection in one short sitting – not only because it is short in length but I really enjoyed all of the stories and wanted to see which events were covered in each decade and how it resolved.

This is the author’s first book with another in the wings. You can visit the author’s blog for additional information about the book.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

TADW Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #DustyWindowVirtualTour.

Thanks to the virtual tour, I have a paperback copy of the book for giveaway to one lucky US resident.  The giveaway is open until April 14th.  Simply put your entries into the Rafflecopter below to be entered.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court