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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Monday, February 24, 2014

Mailbox Monday #166


Another score off of Amazon for my Kindle!  Check them out!


All of these were purchased off of my wishlist and with the exception of one book, they were all under $2.00.

Some very awesome novels that I can’t wait to read.  Have you read any of these?  What books did you receive 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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review: Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson

girl on the golden coin

Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson
ARC, Kindle, 336 pages
Thomas Dunne Books
February 11, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review

“Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches King Louis XIV’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. The king turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.

Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.

On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom.”

I have read several books about Charles II and his women and somehow I have never heard of Frances Stuart! She was involved in two of the great courts of the time: Charles II of England and Louis XIV of France – so we are treated to peeking in on both of those courts and people. Frances was a different sort of character in this indulgent world – she was a woman with a conscience! She had standards, respect, and cared about what others thought about her and those around her. She was a breath of fresh air in this world; she wasn’t always grasping for something from someone.

In this novel, we also meet Charles’ significant mistress, Barbara Castlemaine, as well as his wife, Catherine of Braganza. Barbara freaked me out a little bit – she was overtly sexual and her attitude toward Frances was a little different than what I expected. I really liked the relationship between Frances and Catherine – there was respect between the two. I expected to see the rest of Charles’ mistresses waltz through the pages, but the others only get a few words or a quick reference at most.

There was also an exploration of the continuing religious upheaval of the time with regard to Catholics. We see how the Dowager Queen tried to turn Charles’ head back toward the Catholic cause and all of the legislative/religious issues.

In my opinion, Marci Jefferson’s greatest strength was her ability to create characters and situations that would really pull at your heart strings. There were two scenes that really stood out for me – the scene between Frances and Louis XIV where she turns him down and the scene between Frances and Charles II after her illness. There is such a sad sweetness to these scenes that you can’t help but be emotional while reading.

I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a slightly different take on the Restoration court. Great debut for Marci Jefferson and I look forward to what she will write in the future!

This is author Marci Jefferson’s debut novel. You can visit the author’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).

Girl on the Golden Coin Blog Tour Button

I also have the opportunity to offer a giveaway to you thanks to the publisher.  Entries through the Rafflecopter below.  Last day to enter is March 2nd.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour at the following blogs (I’m one of the last stops):

1/29 – giveaway, Devourer of Books
1/31 – interview/giveaway, Literary, etc
2/1 – review, A Bookish Libraria
2/3 – review, The Bookish Owl
2/4 – review/giveaway, Writing the Renaissance
2/5 – interview, Writing the Renaissance
2/6 – interview, Between the Sheets/Heather Webb
2/7 – interview, Spann of Time
2/8 – review/giveaway, Passages to the Past
2/9 – review, Royal Reviews
2/10 – Picture This, SheReads
2/10 – review/giveaway, The Lit Bitch
2/11 – review, Reading the Past
2/11 – interview/on-sale announcement, Enchanted by Josephine
2/11 – Three Favorite Things, USA TODAY’S Happy Ever After
2/12 – review/giveaway, Enchanted by Josephine
2/12 – review, Muse/Erika Robuck
2/13 – review, Unabridged Chick
2/13 – interview/giveaway/excerpt, Harlequin Junkie
2/14 – interview, Unabridged Chick
2/15 – review, Historical Fiction Obsession
2/16 – review, Lesa’s Book Critiques
2/17 – review/interview, A Bookish Affair
2/18 – review, Let Them Read Books
2/19 – interview, Let Them Read Books
2/20 – review/giveaway, The Maiden’s Court
2/21 – review/giveaway, No More Grumpy Bookseller


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

New Book Alert Book Blast: The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

The Chalice UK

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau
Paperback, 432 pages
Orion Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1409135807
Paperback Publication Date: February 13, 2014
Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery

Book Blurb:

“A curse to kill a king, a fight to save a nation. Follow young Joanna Stafford right into the dark heart of King Henry VIII’s court in this stunning Tudor thriller.

England, 1538. The nation is reeling after the ruthless dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.

Cast out of Dartford Priory, Joanna Stafford – feisty, courageous, but scarred by her recent encounter with rebellion at court – is trying to live a quiet life with her five-year-old charge, Arthur. But family connections draw her dangerously close to a treasonous plot and, repelled by violence and the whispered conspiracies around her, Joanna seeks a life with a man who loves her. But, no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny. She must make a choice between those she cares for most, and taking her part in a mysterious prophecy foretold by three compelling seers.

Joanna embarks upon a testing journey, and, as she deciphers the meaning at the core of the prophecy, she learns that the fate of a king and the freedom of a nation rest in her hands.”

About the Author

Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy’s ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough’s founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

You can find Nancy at the following sites: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.  You can also sign up for Nancy Bilyeau’s Newsletter

Need a little more inspiration – check out this book trailer:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon UK, Book Depository, Orion Publishing, and Waterstones.

Praise for The Chalice

“Expect treason, treachery, martyrs and more.” — Choice magazine

“A time in which no one at all can be trusted and everyday life is laced with horror. Bilyeau paints this picture very, very well.” — Reviewing the Evidence

“Bilyeau creates the atmosphere of 1530s London superbly.” — Catholic Herald

“Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna Stafford’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page. — Historical Novel Society

“Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse.” — S.J. Parris, author of ‘Heresy,’ ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Sacrilege’

“Second in this compelling and highly readable Tudor thriller series following the 16th century adventures of (now cast out) nun Joanna Stafford. Treason, conspiracies and a dangerous prophecy draw Joanna back from the quiet life she had made for herself after being cast out of Dartford Priory – but she isn’t prepared for the gravity of the situation she finds herself in or the responsibility she now holds. Nancy Bilyeau has followed up her impressive debut with an accomplished historical thriller perfect for fans of C. J. Sansom, Philippa Gregory and S. J. Parris.” — Lovereading UK

“Sharply observed, cleverly paced and sympathetically written, this book more than fulfils the promise of THE CROWN, itself named as last year’s most impressive debut novel by the CWA Ellis Peters judges. If Joanna Stafford is to return to see out the final years of Henry’s tempestuous reign and the accession of his Catholic daughter Mary, I am sure I will not be alone in waiting eagerly for her.” — crimereview.co.uk

“A stunning debut. One of the best historical novels I have ever read — ALISON WEIR

THE CHALICE offers a fresh, dynamic look into Tudor England’s most powerful, volatile personalities: Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk, Stephen Gardiner and Bloody Mary Tudor. Heroine and former nun Joanna Stafford is beautiful, bold and in lethal danger. Bilyeau writes compellingly of people and places that demand your attention and don’t let you go even after the last exciting page” — KAREN HARPER, bestselling author of MISTRESS OF MOURNING

“Rarely have the terrors of Henry VIII’s reformation been so exciting. Court intrigue, bloody executions, and haunting emotional entanglements create a heady brew of mystery and adventure that sweeps us from the devastation of the ransacked cloisters to the dangerous spy centers of London and the Low Countries, as ex-novice Joanna Stafford fights to save her way of life and fulfill an ancient prophecy, before everything she loves is destroyed.” — C.W. GORTNER, author of THE QUEEN’S VOW

“Bilyeau paints a moving portrait of Catholicism during the Reformation and of reclusive, spiritual people adjusting to the world outside the cloister. This intriguing and suspenseful historical novel pairs well with C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (2003) and has the insightful feminine perspective of Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Heretic’s Wife (2010).” — BOOKLIST

“As in The Crown, Bilyeau’s writing style means that the story reads almost flawlessly. The narrative really makes the reader throw themselves into the story, and makes it so the book is really difficult to put down. I was really very impressed with Bilyeau’s writing (As I was in The Crown), and honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.” — LOYALTY BINDS ME

“THE CHALICE is a compelling and pacey time machine to the 16th Century. And when you’re returned to the present, you’ll have enjoyed an adventure and gained a new perspective on a past you’d wrongly thought to be a done deal.” — Andrew Pyper, author of THE DEMONOLOGIST

“The Chalice is a gripping, tightly-plotted mystery, with a beguiling heroine at its heart, that vividly conjures up the complex dangers of Reformation England. Bilyeau’s deftness of touch and complete control over her complex material make for a truly exciting and compelling read.”— ELIZABETH FREMANTLE author of QUEEN’S GAMBIT

“THE CHALICE is brimming with sinister portents, twisted allegiances, religious superstition and political intrigue. It’s a darkly fascinating Tudor brew that leaves you thirsting for more.” — PATRICIA BRACEWELL, author of SHADOW ON THE CROWN

The Chalice UK BB Banner_FINAL

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, February 17
Mari Reads
The Lit Bitch
Book Drunkard
Closed the Cover
Historical Tapestry
Royalty Free Fiction
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, February 18
Princess of Eboli
Words and Peace
Big Book, Little Book
Curling Up By the Fire
Peeking Between the Pages
Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, February 19
Broken Teepee
Kincavel Korner
A Bookish Affair
CelticLady's Reviews
The True Book Addict
Teresa's Reading Corner
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, February 20
Drey's Library
Booktalk & More
Must Read Faster
Reading the Ages
The Maiden's Court
Historical Fiction Connection
Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

Friday, February 21
HF Book Muse-News
On the Tudor Trail
Flashlight Commentary
Ageless Pages Reviews
Muse in the Fog Book Reviews
Confessions of an Avid Reader


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mailbox Monday #165


This week I received a book in the mail that I have been waiting anxiously to read – and now that it is here I have to get through another book before I can read it!!!


  • The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland (received from publisher for review).  I have been wanting to read this one ever since I finished reading The Turncoat last year…and now it is here!  Plus, isn’t the cover beautiful!

What did you get in the mail 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

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy


The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy
Paperback, 272 pages
February 25, 2014

Genre: Historical fiction

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

“At sixteen, Elizabeth Howard envisions a glorious life for herself as lady-in-waiting to the future queen, Catherine of Aragon. But when she is forced to marry Thomas Boleyn, a wealthy commoner, Elizabeth is left to stagnate in the countryside while her detested husband pursues his ambitions. There, she raises golden girl Mary, moody George, and ugly duckling Anne—while staving off boredom with a string of admirers. Until Henry VIII takes the throne. . .

When Thomas finally brings his highborn wife to London, Elizabeth indulges in lavish diversions and dalliances—and catches the lusty king's eye. But those who enjoy Henry's fickle favor must also guard against his wrath. For while her husband's machinations bring Elizabeth and her children to the pinnacle of power, the distance to the scaffold is but a short one—and the Boleyn family's fortune may be turning. . .”

This book was a mixed bag for me – I liked the story but did not care much for the writing style, which actually made it very difficult for me to finish reading the book. I’m going to first address the storyline (which I liked) before moving into what did not work for me.

The Boleyn Bride follows Elizabeth Howard, wife to Thomas Boleyn and mother of Anne, Mary, and George Boleyn. I was intrigued by the novel because I wanted to know more about this woman who brought these three intriguing historical figures into the world. She has to have had an interesting story?! Right?! Well, sort of. It seems the majority of her time was spent trying to find a way to spite her husband. She was a hands-off mother, even when her daughters were favorites of King Henry VIII. She really wasn’t all that interesting of an individual after all – but I did appreciate her outside looking in storytelling. I actually can’t say that I liked Elizabeth – I found that I did not have any real feelings for her; she just came off as cold, distant, and superficial. I also did not like that the author chose to continue to include the rumors about Anne Boleyn – the sixth finger, growth on her neck, and the belief that Anne bewitched (literally) Henry. These are elements that I cannot stand in Tudor novels, especially these modernly written ones.

With regard to the writing style, I almost did not get through the prologue – it alone was 26 pages of a 272 page novel! It felt way too long. The author also uses very long, extremely descriptive sentences full of semi-colons. These sentences slowed the pace of the narrative down and did not necessarily add anything to the narrative. Early on in the narrative, the author establishes Elizabeth as a complainer, a turnoff to me as a reader when the same complaints are repeated over and over. A perfect example of that is that Elizabeth repeatedly says “Thomas Bullen – I mean Boleyn!”. I get that the character is mocking her husband and the first time or two it worked, but each time after that I actually got angry when I read it. Please give me something new!

Overall, I don’t feel that this novel contributed anything to the Tudor literature collection and could easily be passed over.

Author Brandy Purdy also has written The Tudor Throne, The Queen’s Pleasure, The Queen’s Rivals, Vengeance is Mine, The Boleyn Wife and The Confession of Piers Gaveston. You can visit Purdy’s website for additional information about 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).

The Boleyn Bride_Tour Banner _FINALv2

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

I also have two copies of the novel to giveaway today to a lucky US resident thanks to HFBRT.  Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below.  Last day to enter is March 2nd.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Giveaway Winners

Just a quick post this morning to post some overdue giveaway winners.

The winner of the giveaway for Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell is…. Amy C!!

The winner of the giveaway for Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb is…. Katherine I!!

Congrats to the winners!  Stay tuned for new giveaways this week!

**A re-draw of the Becoming Josephine giveaway was required – and the new winner is Shelli C! Congrats Shelli.**


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Virtual Tour of The Elms–Newport, Rhode Island

The Elms from the back lawn
Photo Credit: Me

The second Gilded Age “cottage” on our Newport tour is The Elms, home to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind. The Elms is probably my favorite of these great mansions, both for the look of the building as well as the grounds. The Elms is located at 367 Bellevue Ave. and was built between 1899 and 1901. At the time, it cost approximately $1.4 million – in today’s US dollars that would be somewhere around $24 million! The family had a much smaller house on this site previously, but tore it down to build something more acceptable for one of the richest men in Newport at that time. Architect Horace Trumbauer designed the house in the image of the chateau d’Asnieres in France.

Edward Julius Berwind
Mr. Berwind, Homeowner of The Elms
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

As I mentioned above, The Elms is gorgeous. You approach the house up this driveway that is surrounded by these giant trees – previously the eponymous elm trees. It is however the back of the home where the most beauty is – in my opinion. As you come down the stairs from a wide terrace, there is a large stretch of beautiful manicured lawn that leads down to a sunken garden. Every time I go to The Elms I have to go down to the sunken garden and can just imagine how much fun it would have been to play down there. Besides the obvious flowers and topiaries, there are several fountains, a little grotto, stone gazebo and weeping beech trees.

Some of the garden elements at The Elms
Photo Credit: Me

The inside is stunning too – my favorite room is the conservatory – which looks out over the backyard and also contains fountains and some lounge chairs that look so comfy. Among the other rooms that are located on the first floor are the ballroom, library, and marble foyer. The second floor houses the bedrooms for the family and guests, while the third floor housed the indoor servants. The Elms was one of the first homes to be entirely wired for electricity, with no alternate form of power/lighting. Mr. Berwind was all about technology and having the best upgrades (something his sister, Julia, would not continue in the 25+ years she lived there following her brother’s death in 1936).

There is also a carriage house on the property which was turned into an automobile garage at a later date. The outdoor staff lived above the carriage house.


The carriage house patio where you can lunch
Photo Credit: Me

After the death of Mrs. Julia Berwind, the home was auctioned off and in 1962 it came quite close to being demolished. It ended up being sold to the Newport Preservation Society for $116,000 – the equivalent of just shy of a million dollars in 2014 US dollars. The home has been open for tours since.

Speaking of tours – you can visit the Elms as a one house tour or as part of the Gilded Age tour package. During the high season the home is open daily, during the off season it is open only on weekends. There is an additional tour you can purchase called the Servants Life Tour which will take you down into the bowels of the house as well as up to the third floor dormitories allowing you to see what it would have been like to be a servant. Lunch (sandwiches, salads, and snacks) can be purchased and consumed in the carriage house.

The grotto of the sunken garden
Photo Credit: Me

I have been to this home in both the summer and winter seasons and it is beautiful at all times. If you go, you definitely need to plan some time to spend out in the gardens. My other favorite place is one of those places that weren’t really meant to be seen. There is a cul-de-sac that terminates at the delivery entrance that is covered with a very large trellis that is covered by wisteria and other climbing vines.

My fiancé and me under the wisteria covered cul-de-sac
Photo credit: Me

You can read more about The Elms at the Newport Preservation Society page.

Here is a video that might be worth checking out. It is a short clip from the Servants Life Tour to give you a little behind the scenes peek.

What do you think of The Elms?  Have you been here?


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

the paris wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Unabridged, 11 hr. 27 min.
Random House Audio
Carrington MacDuffie (Narrator)
February 22, 2011

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Downloaded the audio from my local library

“Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.”

This was one of those books that grabbed my attention right from the very start and I did not want to put it down. Then after I finished read it, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I have not liked Hemingway’s work or what I have read about the man himself, but boy was this a compelling novel. I had to take some time to let my emotions cool before tackling this review – and it turned into a good six months or more.

The Hemingways relationship was very reminiscent of that of the Fitzgeralds. Not only because they existed relatively within the same sphere, but because they had very similar relationships. Both of the men were unable to really control themselves in the crazy world of the Roaring Twenties; monogamy and family were not their primary focus. Both of the relationships crumbled in the face of that adversity, although these would be the women who would be in their hearts forever.

Hadley had a very difficult relationship with a very difficult man; however she isn’t really a woman to be idolized. I find Hadley and the Hemingways interesting because watching their relationship was like waiting for a train wreck that you knew was coming. You know it just isn’t going to last. Their bad times seemed to just edge out the good ones. She wasn’t a strong woman. Had she been, she might have been able to get the relationship under control, but alas that wasn’t meant to be.

The writing style here was very intriguing. There was an equal amount of introspection on Hadley’s behalf, as well as exciting events such as the running of the bulls. I could feel all of Hadley’s emotions – especially the heartbreak as the relationship really began to head south. I feel that I had a solid perception of Hadley. I don’t think we get a round perspective of Hemingway; we see it from Hadley’s perspective and of course it is just a little biased. One of the strengths of McLain is how she is able to truly bring the world alive – whether it is Chicago, Paris, or a small mountain town – it was palpable. This was definitely more of a character novel than action packed novel.



I thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with the narration of this novel. I could always tell who was speaking or being spoken about and her reading really helped set the tone of the novel.

Author Paula McLain also has written A Ticket to Ride as well as some works of poetry and a memoir. You can visit the website for The Paris Wife 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 © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Review: The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin


The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Unabridged, 36 hr. 42 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Edward Herrmann (Narrator)
November 5, 2013

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography

Source: Received from publisher for review

“Doris Kearns Goodwin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Team of Rivals, captures the Progressive Era through the story of the broken friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, culminating in their running against one another for president in 1912.”

I selected this book because it included both Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. I figured that would kill two birds with one stone on my Presidential reading list. Nowhere in the description above, which I found on Goodreads, did it prepare me for the in-depth story of the muckraking journalists working for S.S. McClure; I was caught off guard by the equal amount of time spent on the journalists as the Presidents themselves.

Being as this is a book that has three foci there was a little bit of the tennis game whiplash transitioning between subjects. Sometimes these individual sections were so lengthy that by the time I got back around to a subject I had entirely forgotten what was happening with them. As mentioned above, while I didn’t know that there was going to be a significant focus on the journalists at McClure’s, I found myself enjoying this portion of the book the best. There were so many distinct personalities within that group and their contributions to journalism had a huge impact on the political atmosphere.

Goodwin handled the relationship between Roosevelt and Taft in a way that is not typically portrayed in presidential biographies. Their lives were intertwined extensively during both of their presidencies and they frequently relied on each other, until a rift arose between the two of them. While I’m sure that both presidents received approximately equal time in the book, I felt that I got to know Roosevelt much better – this could be just because he was such a “big” personality while Taft was quieter.

Overall, a worthy read, although it did take quite some time. It was so dense with facts that it took me just shy of two months of listening – so that is not based on my pace of reading. I just didn’t want to pick it back up all the time.



The narration here was very well done, as I would expect. This narrator has narrated several other big name non-fiction works including: John Adams by David McCullough, Einstein by Walter Isaacson, and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. He wouldn’t have worked these without a great performance.

Author Doris Kearns Goodwin also has written Team of Rivals, No Ordinary Time, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. You can visit the author’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? Or would you rather hear an excerpt of the audiobook?

Below is a video clip of Goodwin on Q&A on C-SPAN talking about The Bully Pulpit:

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 © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Virtual Tour of The Breakers - Newport, Rhode Island


There are so many wonderfully beautiful grand mansions in Newport, Rhode Island – some from the Victorian Age and some from the Gilded Age. I have had the great opportunity of visiting them a couple times over the years and thought it would be cool to look at the history of some of these mansions over the next few weeks and tour them a little bit.

front breakers
The Front of the Breakers as you proceed up the driveway
Photos by Me

The most renowned of the mansions is The Breakers, located at 44 Ochre Point Ave. Cornelius Vanderbilt II, his wife, Alice, and seven children resided in this 70 room “cottage” 2-3 months out of the year.

Left: Cornelius Vanderbilt II            Right: Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The house was built in 1893 by architect Richard Morris Hunt in the style of an Italian palazzo. The first and second floors were primarily used for the family, while the third floor, attic, and basement were primarily for the servants and additional bedrooms. The Breakers sits right on the Cliff Walk and faces out toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Back Lawn
The back lawn and view of the Breakers from the lawn.
Photos by Me

Vanderbilt died 4 years after the completion of the house. Upon his death, ownership of The Breakers passed on to his wife Alice until her death in 1934 and then to their daughter Gladys. In 1972, the Newport Preservation Society purchased the home, allowing the family to continue to live on the third floor.

Also part of the Breakers property, is the Carriage House, located down the street where the horses and carriages were kept. Family members could call down and request a carriage or Alice would send down her schedule book with times to have the carriage requested.

The Breakers is the most visited mansion of the Newport Mansions and is open daily as a single house visit or part of the Gilded Age tour package.  You can read more about The Breakers at the Newport Preservation Society page.

They don’t typically allow photography or videography inside the mansion, so the video I found only is of the outside and the grounds.

However, when we attended for Christmas, we were allowed to take some photos of the decorations.

interior breakers
The Great Hall of The Breakers for Christmas
Photos by Me

Can you imagine living here? Have you visited The Breakers?


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gilded Age Newport in Print

The Gilded Age is such a fascinating time period, and the lives of those who lived in the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island are so fascinating to us today.  Here are some books, both novel and non-fiction that let us explore what it would be like to live then.

Books about Gilded Age Newport, RI and the People who Lived ThereNon-Fiction

Books Set in Newport RI – Fiction

  • The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (only at the very beginning)
  • Faithful by Janet Fox (at the beginning)
  • The Last Season by Ronald Florence
  • Death on the Cliff Walk by Mary Kruger (1st book in a historical mystery series set in the Gilded Age, but the only one set in Newport)
  • Theophilus North by Thornton Wilder
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (a small portion of the novel is set in Newport)
  • Tess by Antoinette Stockenberg (book 1 in a 4 books series that covers several generations of families in Newport – the By the Sea series was originally published as one book – The Challenge and the Glory)
  • Amanda by Antoinette Stockenberg (book 2)
  • Laura by Antoinette Stockenberg (book 3)
  • The Heirs by Antoinette Stockenberg (book 4)

Have you read any of these books?


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mailbox Monday #164


Mailbox, Mailbox – just a couple of things this week.  Two great looking non-fiction titles and one timely, whim purchase.


That’s it for me, how about you?

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