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Monday, September 30, 2013

Mailbox Monday #153


It feels like it was just recently that I did a Mailbox Monday (it was just 2 posts ago!).  I had all these grand intentions of posting last week that just fell apart with my midterm essay exam for school.  But I did get one additional book this week.


  • 1775: A Good Year for Revolution by Kevin Phillips (paperback received from publisher for review).  I have had an interest in this book since it was initially released.  The American Revolution is one of my favorite periods to read about.  My favorite bookstore, RJ Julia, was hosting an event with the author that I was intending on going to, but plans fell through and I didn’t end up making it.  So, when this was offered to me, I jumped at it.

Here is the book blurb for this non-fiction:

“In 1775, iconoclastic historian and bestselling author Kevin Phillips punctures the myth that 1776 was the watershed year of the American Revolution. He suggests that the great events and confrontations of 1775—Congress’s belligerent economic ultimatums to Britain, New England’srage militaire, the exodus of British troops and expulsion of royal governors up and down the seaboard, and the new provincial congresses and hundreds of local  committees that quickly reconstituted local authority in Patriot hands­—achieved a  sweeping Patriot control of territory and local government that Britain was never able to overcome.  These each added to the Revolution’s essential momentum so when the British finally attacked in great strength the following year, they could not regain the control they had lost in 1775.

Analyzing the political climate, economic structures, and military preparations, as well as the roles of ethnicity, religion, and class, Phillips tackles the eighteenth century with the same skill and insights he has shown in analyzing contemporary politics and economics.  The result is a dramatic narrative brimming with original insights. 1775 revolutionizes our understanding of America’s origins.”

That’s it for me, what about you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of September it is being hosted by Notorious Spinks Talks.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

promise the night

Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl
ARC, Paperback, 264 pages
Chronicle Books LLC
November 18, 2011

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review

“Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. As in her debut novel, Prisoners in the Palace, MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evocative language that brings the backdrop of colonial British East Africa to life. A fascinating read for anyone with a thirst for adventure.”

Promise the Night was entirely different novel than I expected it to be. I expected a novel of a young girl growing up to become a famous aviator. However, while I did get a little of that, I also got something unexpected – an action/adventure novel set in the wild of Africa. There was a lot more adventure in Africa than there was about flight.

I was entirely caught up in the African adventure that marked Beryl’s early life. This was my first novel set here so I enjoyed seeing the different setting and entirely different way of life in the British colony. There were various trials and tribulations of life in the early colony which were very different than other colonization stories. I also thought that MacColl did an excellent job of depicting the Natives and their way of life. I enjoyed getting to know them all.

We get all of our snapshots of her life in the air through media clippings and journal entries peppered throughout the novel. The majority of the novel takes place when she is a very young girl learning to be a horse trainer on her father’s African ranch. These two segments were tied together through lessons that were learned through the narrative portion (during her childhood) that could be applied to whatever what happening in her life of flight in her 30’s. While I appreciated both storylines, I would have liked to have had a little more about how she got into flying, when her life had been thoroughly entrenched in horse training.

There were plenty of adventures to keep young adult readers engaged. There were also themes that they could connect with like running away and trouble with parents. A quick and easy read.

Author Michaela MacColl also has written Prisoners in the Palace and Nobody’s Secret. You can visit MacColl’s 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?

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).


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mailbox Monday #153


It’s Monday, It’s Monday…wait, it’s already Tuesday!!!  Here is what happened in my mailbox this week:


Actually, not one single one came to my mailbox this week – all were e-books (sad mailbox). 

  • Isabella by Colin Falconer – (received from publisher) – the focus of this books is about Isabella of France – who I know absolutely nothing about beyond her name.  Looks like I will be learning a lot about this one!
  • The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini (received from publisher via Netgalley) – I know I still haven’t read Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (also by Chiaverini) yet, but man I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Spymistress.  Hopefully they are both good!
  • The Fire by John A. Heldt (received from author) – I have LOVED all of Heldt’s books thus far and can’t wait to do a back to back marathon of The Show and The Fire

What did you get this week?  Is your mailbox sad too?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of September it is being hosted by Notorious Spinks Talks.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall 2013 Bloggiesta Starting Line

It is funny, just 2 days ago I was wondering when the next Bloggiesta would be because I have some serious catching up to do on my blog – and lo and behold, it is this weekend!  Well, I won’t have all weekend to devote to it (that pesky homework and wedding planning again), but I’m hoping to knock a few things off my growing list.  Here it is:


  • Finish updating review pins (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Finish updating interview pins
  • Finish updating weekend cooking pins

Review posts

  • Finish removing Amazon Affiliate links
  • Finish modifying reviews to template (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)


  • Reply to outstanding comments


  • Reply to emails regarding bookish things


  • Update links on challenges to my reviews
  • Update links to author’s featured list

Any updates will appear on this page! 


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interview with Jennifer Cody Epstein & Giveaway

Today I am excited to welcome author Jennifer Cody Epstein to The Maiden’s Court!  Jennifer has released two books, The Painter from Shanghai, and the most recent, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment.  I will be reviewing this book, probably in January, but I have an interview with the author to share with you today and a giveaway too! 


How did you begin writing?  Were you a writer from a young age or did a particular topic spark your interest and just called out for you to write it?

I've loved books pretty much from the moment I began being read to. Even before I could actually read myself, I'd spend hours folding pieces of paper and cardboard together, stapling the "spine" and scribbling unreadable toddler scribblings in them. I think I actually wrote my first complete short story--about a magic swingset--in 6th grade--it was stapled outside the principal's office at our middle school, along with an appropriately somber-looking "author's photo." The moment I saw it up there and realized people were going to read it, I was hooked. 

Both of your books are set in Asia, a slightly less typical location for historical fiction, although there seem to be more and more lately.  Why this location?

For me, it's a reflection of both personal interest and experience. I was an Asian Studies major in both college and graduate school, and spent over seven years working and studying in Asia. As a consequence I've continued to be fascinated--not only by the region itself, but by the way the histories between our two regions (East and West) have interacted and shaped one another. I also think that as travel became harder for me (part of being a parent and a starving Brooklyn artist) I felt a little bit as though writing about those places was a form of travel in and of itself. 

I read on your website that you have spent time in several Asian countries.  Did this contribute to your writing about these locales in any way?

Absolutely. I don't know if it gave me all the expertise I needed to write authoritatively about those countries--but it certainly gave me the courage to at least try it!

To follow up a little on the above questions, was it more difficult to pitch a book in this setting?  I know many publishers are looking for the recognizable character or locale (ie. the Tudors).  I ask because I know there are many aspiring writers who don’t want to write about the “tried and true topics” and are looking for success and inspiration.

I actually think the setting made the novels more pitchable in some ways--particularly in the wake of such blockbusters as (and I hesitate to even bring the title up because of the inevitable comparisons) Memoirs of a Geisha. There's been a lot of back-and-forth about the various merits of that novel, but for me it was both a truly compelling read and a work that demonstrated a very active interest in Asia on the part of the American readership. 

As for the subject of "tried and true"--my philosophy when it comes to writing is to write whatever is truly in you to write, regardless of whether you think it's going to "sell" or not. The truth is (and I speak from experience on this) trying to cater to a market as opposed to catering to your own literary passion will result in a work that simply doesn't ring true. We write best about the things that fascinate us--and audiences respond far better to great writing then they do to whether a setting is "expected" or not. 

When you have a chance to read, what type of books do you enjoy?  Something to take your mind off of the daily grind, or something more thought provoking and intellectual?

Probably a combination of the two, I love historical fiction (no surprise there!), but I do find that if a novel isn't written at a level that really challenges me, whether that be on a linguistic or a subject-matter level, then I have a hard time keeping interest in it. That doesn't mean it has to be David Foster Wallace, but there has to be something I feel I'm learning from it. Recent favorites include The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, City of Women by David Gillham, A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon and Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. (Or actually, anything by David Mitchell. He's my current unmitigated literary crush!)

Are you currently working on anything new?  If so, can you tell us about it?

I'm trying to, though finding a writing rhythm as school starts can be a challenge! But I'm still fascinated by World War II, and in particular (this time) the Western side of it. I've been tossing around the idea of a novel set in Berlin for a while now, and I'm beginning finally to see it's outlines--probably something centered around a friendship between two women, and how the choices we make within and outside of friendship can have lasting -- and at times devastating--repercussions. Then again, I've now changed subjects three times since finishing Gods--so ask me again in a month!

Jennifer Epstein

Jennifer has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Nation (Thailand), Self and Mademoiselle magazines, and the NBC and HBO networks, working in Kyoto, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok as well as Washington D.C. and New York. She has taught at Columbia University in New York and Doshisha University in Kyoto, and has an MFA from Columbia, a Masters of International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA in Asian Studies/English from Amherst College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, filmmaker Michael Epstein, two amazing daughters and an exceptionally needy Springer Spaniel.

You can find her on her website.

I also have an awesome giveaway for you today – three copies of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment!!!  Make your entries through Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway is open to the USA only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Book Alert: Unravelled


By M.K. Tod
Kindle/Paperback, 440 pages
Tod Publishing
ISBN: 0991967011
September 19, 2013

Book Blurb:

Two Wars. Two Affairs. One Marriage.

In October 1935, Edward Jamieson's memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward's past puts his present life in jeopardy.

When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage.

With events unfolding in Canada, France and England, Unravelled is a compelling novel of love, duty and sacrifice set amongst the turmoil of two world wars.

You can visit the author at her website/blog.  Want to check out a sample?  You can also check out the author on Facebook and Goodreads.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mailbox Monday #152


Welcome to Mailbox Monday!  Over the last 2 weeks I obtained 3 books that I want to share with you here.


  • Founding Rivals by Chris DeRose (Audible) – I have always been a fan of President James Madison, but I don’t know very much about his successor, James Monroe.  I also didn’t know that there was a rivalry.  I picked this one up for my ongoing Presidential reading list.
  • Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg (download audio from publisher) – Lindbergh has also always held a fascination for me – since I learned about his baby’s kidnapping several years ago. When I saw that this was available to review, I jumped on it.
  • Stowaway by Karen Hesse – (purchased from Mystic Seaport) – This was a surprise purchase for me for two reasons – first of all I didn’t realize that this book even existed, and second I found it in a museum gift shop and impulse bought. 

That’s it for me – how about you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of September it is being hosted by Notorious Spinks Talks.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie

the study of murder

The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie
Muirteach MacPhee Mystery Series
ARC, 264 pages
Five Star
October 9, 2013

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Received for review from author and as part of HFVBT tour

The Study Of Murder pits Scottish sleuth Muirteach MacPhee against a mysterious adversary in medieval Oxford. Muirteach and his wife Mariota accompany the Lord of the Isles' son, Donald, to Oxford. Shortly after their arrival, a winsome tavern maid disappears. Muirteach attempts to help Undersheriff Grymbaud with the investigation and keep Donald at his studies, while Mariota yearns to attend medical lectures at the schools. When an Oxford master is found bludgeoned to death, Grymbaud asks Muirteach to investigate. The arrest of a servant for the crime stirs up discord between town and university, and Mariota vanishes. Gleaning clues from a cryptic manuscript, a determined Muirteach tracks a wily killer through a twisted labyrinth of deceit.”

I have always been a fan of mysteries, but I haven’t had that great of luck with historical mysteries – I always find them to be way to light and fluffy for my liking. The Study of Murder does an excellent job of providing a great setting of the time, and characters that are interesting, but is rather light on the action.

While this is not the first book to feature Muirteach MacPhee, but the characters are so well introduced into this novel that you don’t really notice that there were other books you have missed. The references made feel like someone alluding to a past life event, rather than something that you need to know to understand what is occurring. Each character had their own personalities and were interesting to get to know.

The one thing that got on my nerves throughout the novel was the lack of exciting action. Muirteach spent 95% of his time walking up one street in town and down another. Even when he arrived at the destination he was seeking, he would spend about two sentences worth of time there before heading back out to walk somewhere again. I became quite frustrating as a reader. The last 40 pages of the book were good and had a lot of walking, but also action. At the conclusion of the novel, I felt like I was wanting more; I’m not sure if this was because it wrapped up too quickly or I was finally getting what I had been waiting for.

Author Susan McDuffie also has written several other books in this series including: The Faerie Hills and A Mass for the Dead. You can visit McDuffie’s website for additional information about the book.

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

The Study of Murder_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: #StudyOfMurderTour.

I also have the pleasure of offering one copy of The Study of Murder as a giveaway to one US entrant.  Simply enter the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway ends September 29th.  Good luck. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Book Alert: A Woman’s Choice

a womans choice

A Woman’s Choice
by Annie Thomas
Kindle, 353 pages
Amazon Digital Services, Inc
ASIN: B00DTG5444
July 6, 2013

Book Blurb:

It is 1901.  Queen Victoria is dead; a new era has begun.  And on a cold April morning a young girl stands uncertainly on Liverpool Docks ready to board an emigrant ship that will take her to America and an unknown future. Michael, Luke, and Meg are amongst her fellow travellers, with the common bond that only determination and self-belief will sustain them in their new lives.

Set in the vibrancy of early twentieth century New York, the story follows Clara and the people she meets on the way, through tenement living and sweatshop labour to success.

But she discovers that she needs more than wealth and security to make her happy; when the past returns, she makes another choice which changes her life.  Then, as the horror of World War One in Europe threatens to engulf America, Clara learns that personal lives cannot be lived apart from public events, and finds that the people she has loved, and who love her, are not always what they seem.

'A Woman’s Choice' is a compelling saga of friendship, love and ambition. 

All the incidents in the novel are based on what really happened: to many thousands of emigrant families, and in particular to women born in poverty, striving to establish an independent life from adverse circumstances.

You can visit the author, Annie Thomas, at her website.  You can also watch a short video trailer while you are there. 

You can purchase the book at Amazon.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Interview with Anna Lee Huber

I am excited to welcome today author Anna Lee Huber to The Maiden’s Court!  I had the chance to meet her at HNS this year and am excited about her books – the covers are gorgeous!  I wanted to take this opportunity to help you get to know a little more about her and her books!

mortal arts

How do you balance your time between your writing and work/life/family?  Do you set yourself a schedule for writing or fit it in as available?  What do you do when you are not writing?

Balance is not always easy, and it’s something I definitely need to get better at. I have a regular set of hours I schedule myself to work, and I also set a word count goal for myself for each week. I like giving myself that flexibility. Plus it allows for the inevitable interruptions of life. So if I meet my goal early in the week, then I can choose not to work the other days or work ahead. Of course, there are also weeks where I haven’t met my goal by the last day and I end up chained to my desk. But, once again, this also depends on how close to my deadline I am. I tend to cheat more when the deadline is far off. Just being honest. Smile

When I’m not writing, I love to read. I think most writers do. I’m also a musician and a music fan, so I sing, play the piano, compose and arrange music for my own enjoyment, and attend concerts. I like to travel and see new places, and I have a large family I like to spend time with.

Mortal Arts is the second book in historical mystery series that began with The Anatomist’s Wife.  How do you plan out this series?  Is it something where you have set out a general outline of what will occur over the course of the books, or does each book sort of build the plot as you go?

When I began writing The Anatomist’s Wife, I had no plans beyond that immediate book and the fact that I wanted it to be the beginning of a series. But by the time I finished it I had a general outline of where I wanted the series to go, at least in terms of the character arcs and the relationship between my two main protagonists, Lady Darby & Mr. Gage. Further research into the time period gave me ideas for real historical events I wanted my characters to encounter, so that by the time I finished Mortal Arts , I had a general story arc for the series through Book seven. And I hope to continue writing the series even beyond that. Each book has about a page worth of plot and character points, and when it comes time to write each individual book I flesh them out even more, which, of course, also affects the plots in later books. So it’s an evolving process.

What has been the most exciting thing about the writing/publishing process?  What has been the worst/most difficult?

Simply seeing the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Nothing is more thrilling than knowing I’ve accomplished it, and holding the book in my hands. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling. The most difficult has been learning the marketing and promotion side of the business. M&P has never been my forte, but nowadays it’s necessary to any writer’s success.

Do you have any plans for writing anything outside of the Lady Darby series?

I do. I currently have a Regency-set Gothic suspense novel that is about half finished. It’s the beginning novel in a proposed trilogy, and I hope to have it completed by the end of the year. I also have a Contemporary Mystery series idea I would like to find some time to play around with.

Do you have anything you do to get the creative thoughts flowing?  Any strategies you use when you get stuck writing?

When I’m having trouble getting the creative juices flowing, exercise or just getting outside away from my house and my office for a little while often helps. Water is also magical for me. Taking a shower or a bath, or going swimming often gets my thoughts flowing again. When I’m well and truly stuck, I often find it’s because I’ve made a wrong turn somewhere in my story. So I make myself back up and try different things until I can get going again. Sometimes this means scrapping three or more chapters of a manuscript, but if it better serves the story, it’s absolutely worth it.

What are you working on now?  Anything you can tell us about it?

I’m currently finishing up the third novel in the Lady Darby series, titled A Grave Matter, which will be released in July 2014. It opens on Hogmanay—New Year’s Eve—1830. After the events in Mortal Arts, Kiera, Lady Darby has retreated to her childhood home in the Borders region to attempt to heal. She hopes to be cheered by the merriment of the Hogmanay Ball, but when a young man covered in blood interrupts the festivities, she is suddenly pulled into another deadly mystery. A caretaker at nearby Dryburgh Abbey has been murdered, and an old grave disturbed—the bones of its occupant stolen. And it’s not the first. Some fiend is digging up old bones and holding them for ransom. Now Kiera must join forces with Sebastian Gage yet again to catch the culprit, and untangle the complicated emotions that lie between them before one of them winds up six feet under.

Anna Lee Huber is the award-winning author of the Lady Darby historical mystery series. Her debut, The Anatomist’s Wife, has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including two 2013 RITA® Awards and a 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award. Her second novel, Mortal Arts, released September 3rd. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently lives in Indiana, and enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.

Visit Anna at her website, Facebook, blog, Goodreads, or on Twitter..

About Mortal Arts:

Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue-in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn't quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator-and romantic entanglement-Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.

Kiera's old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother-and Kiera's childhood art tutor-William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor's plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend-and save the marriage of another...


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Virtual Tour of the James K. Polk Ancestral Home

In the continuing series, we are going to look at the home of the President and First Lady, James and Sarah Polk. If case you don’t know, James K. Polk was the 11th president of the United States. He served one term as President from 1845-1849, and then passed away, likely from cholera, a few short months later.

The Polks spent a short period of time together at their newly finished home, Polk Place. Sarah lived there after James’ death, through the Civil War, however this house was demolished in 1900. Polk Place is now only a memory, or in pictures.

polk place
Polk Place, Circa 1880’s
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The only home that actually belonged to Polk that is still standing is the Ancestral Home, built by James’ father around 1816. This home is built in the Federal style and is located in Columbia, Tennessee. Polk did not live in this home as a child, but did live there following his graduation from college and before he married Sarah – Sarah never lived in this house.

Ancestral Home

The James K. Polk Ancestral Home
Photo Credit:

This house is now a part of the National Historic Landmarks and is run by the Tennessee Historical Commission. You can visit the home to tour it pretty much throughout the year. They display an array of Polk historic items and occasionally host period demonstrations, such as cooking in their rebuilt kitchens. A 30 minute guided tour is provided of the main house and you can then explore the rest of the property at your own pace which includes the kitchen outbuilding and garden. The garden is a formal boxwood garden, and make sure while you are there that you don’t miss the one piece of Polk Place that is there. Preserved from Polk Place is a cast iron fountain and it has been relocated to the Ancestral Home.

Fountain from Polk Place
Photo Credit:
POTUS Historical Sites Blog

The house next door is also included and is known as the Sisters’ House because two of the President’s sisters lived there at various times. This also houses the visitor center, orientation film, and the shop. There is also Presidential Hall which houses special presidency exhibits. You can read more about the Ancestral Home if you are interested. You can find out more about the exhibits and special lectures held here by following their Facebook page.

There is a video tour available courtesy of C-SPAN with the director of the Polk Home, John Holtzapple, as your tour guide. I would assume this is close to the 30-minute guided tour you would get when visiting.

You can find out more about the admission fees and parking and more description of the exhibits at the Polk Home and Museum website. If you happen to be from the area, they host a Polk Academy History Summer Camp for 4th-6th graders which allow them to experience life on the frontier – which sounds pretty cool.

Have any of you visited the Polk Ancestral Home before? If I ever visit Tennessee I plan on stopping there.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle & Giveaway


Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
Hardcover, 432 pages
Simon & Schuster
August 6, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received in “Swag Bag” from HNS 2013 – also partaking in HFVBT book tour

“The court of Henry VIII is rife with intrigue, rivalries and romance - and none are better placed to understand this than the women at its heart.

Katherine Parr, widowed for the second time aged thirty-one, is obliged to return to court but, suspicious of the ageing king and those who surround him, she does so with reluctance. Nevertheless, when she finds herself caught up in a passionate affair with the dashing and seductive Thomas Seymour, she believes she might finally be able to marry for love. But her presence at court has attracted the attentions of another . . .

Captivated by her honesty and intelligence, Henry Tudor has his own plans for Katherine and no one is in the position to refuse a proposal from the king. So with her charismatic lover dispatched to the continent, Katherine must accept the hand of the ailing egotistical monarch and become Henry's sixth wife - and yet she has still not quite given up on love.”

I was interested in this book when I first heard about it because I haven’t really read anything focused explicitly on Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth queen, and I had been hearing great buzz about the book. However, I was slightly gun shy when I read the following words from the book jacket “this book is the answer to the question about what Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy”. If you have been a follower of mine for a while you will know that I don’t have a lot of love for Mantel’s books, so you can imagine why I might be a little nervous picking this one up. I have to say that this book blows Mantel’s out of the water for me.

Fremantle’s writing style is similar to Mantel’s, however it is not as difficult to plod through the prose. Fremantle’s text continuously flows and at no time did I have the issues with the tense that I found uncomfortable to read that I did with Mantel’s works. There is something happening around every corner, the characters are easy to like (or dislike depending on who they happen to be), and you get inside the heads of the characters. I flew through the pages of this book and loved getting to know the characters that played a part in the later reign of Henry VIII.

I would certainly recommend this book to any Tudor fans who are in the market for a little bit of a different royal novel. And if you are not a fan of Mantel, don’t let the comparisons scare you away – totally worth it.

Queen’s Gambit is Fremantle’s first novel, however there are 2 subsequent books in the works, Sisters of Treason is expected in 2014. You can visit Fremantle’s 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?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

You can also check out this fabulous book trailer for a taste of the story:

Queen's Gambit_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: #QueensGambitTour.

I also have the privilege of offering 2 copies of Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle to entrants from the USA.  All you have to do to enter is submit your entries through Rafflecopter below.  The last day to enter is September 22nd. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mailbox Monday #151


Hope you are all having a nice Labor Day here in the States.  The weather this holiday weekend has been less than great (thunder and rain ALL WEEKEND!). 

I received one book this past week, which is a good thing since I am on a reading catch-up spree right now. 


I received In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl (from publisher for review).  What called out to me about this book was that it is World War I, which I think I enjoy as a time period more than World War II.  Here is the blurb in case you haven’t heard of this one yet:

A vivid and compelling story of love, war and secrets, set against the backdrop of WWI France. 'In the beginning, it was the summers I remembered - long warm days under the palest blue skies, the cornflowers and forget-me-nots lining the road through the Lys forest, the buzz of insects going about their work, Violet telling me lies.' Iris is getting old. A widow, her days are spent living quietly and worrying about her granddaughter, Grace, a headstrong young doctor. It's a small sort of life. But one day an invitation comes for Iris through the post to a reunion in France, where she served in a hospital during WWI. Determined to go, Iris is overcome by the memories of the past, when as a shy, naive young woman she followed her fifteen-year-old brother, Tom, to France in 1914 intending to bring him home. On her way to find Tom, Iris comes across the charismatic Miss Ivens, who is setting up a field hospital in the old abbey of Royaumont, north of Paris. Putting her fears aside, Iris decides to stay at Royaumont, and it is there that she truly comes of age, finding her capability and her strength, discovering her passion for medicine, making friends with the vivacious Violet and falling in love. But war is a brutal thing, and when the ultimate tragedy happens, there is a terrible price that Iris has to pay, a price that will echo down the generations. A moving and uplifting novel about the small, unsung acts of heroism of which love makes us capable.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of September it is being hosted by Notorious Spinks Talks.


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