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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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Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Special Book Promotion

A year or so ago I had the chance to meet a local author, Robert McMaster, who was writing about the area that I was living in at the time - Central Massachusetts around the turn of the 20th century.  At that time he was releasing the first book in the trilogy, Trolley Days.  At the end of last year he released book two, The Dyeing Room and there is a third in the works, Noah's Raven.  In an effort to get his book into the hands of more readers, McMaster has a promotion going on for the next couple weeks.  Here are the details:

McMaster Ebooks

If you would like to receive a free e-book copy of either Trolley Days or The Dyeing Room, visit the Trolley Days website, and click on the button that says "FREE eBOOK GIVEAWAY", then follow the instructions provided. You will receive a free copy of the book of your choice in whichever format (Kindle, Nook, or Kobo) you choose.

How cool is that?

I encourage you to check out these wonderful books for a little bit of New England Americana.

trolley days

Trolley Days (Book 1)
Available in Paperback & E-book
Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Book Blurb:

Trolley Days is the story of an unlikely friendship between two boys growing up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in its industrial heyday. Jack Bernard is the son of a mill worker who emigrated from Canada, Tom Wellington the son of the mill owner. Jack is shy and socially a bit awkward, Tom self-assured and smooth-talking. But for all their differences, the two boys have much in common. They love fishing, sports, and all manner of youthful tomfoolery. Each has suffered the loss of a sibling, tragedies that have affected both families deeply.

In the opening chapter a blizzard is approaching as Jack boards a train for the long trip to Boston. He has received a cryptic letter informing him that Tom is in a Boston jail. Despite a recent falling-out between the two, Jack still considers Tom his best friend, and he refuses to allow a snowstorm to prevent him from going to Tom's aid. Soon Jack will be plunged into a mystery that calls on all his courage and determination to solve, even as Tom's freedom, perhaps his very life, hangs in the balance. To save his friend, Jack will need the assistance of Tom's sister, Anne, but that will require Jack and Anne to reconcile their fractured relationship.

Does friendship have its limits? Can bonds of trust, once broken, be repaired? Can we learn from life's tragedies and move on, or must we carry them like lead weights on our hearts forever? In Trolley Days, it seems it is the young who bear the heaviest of life's burdens and must marshal the strength to free themselves and their parents.

the dyeing room

The Dyeing Room (Book 2)
Available in Paperback & E-book
Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Book Blurb:

Spring - 1917. War is raging in Europe and America has just cast its lot against the German war machine. Back home, the nation is reeling with social strife: workers marching for their rights, immigrants demanding fair treatment, suffragettes clamoring for the vote.

In Holyoke, Massachusetts, 17-year-old Jack Bernard has begun a new job at one of the city's largest textile mills, hoping to save money for college. Meanwhile, his friend, Tom Wellington, appears to have taken control of his demons and set himself on a new course.  Soon the lives of both young men, their families and friends, will be torn asunder by forces and events far beyond their control.

The Dyeing Room, Book 2 of the Trolley Days Series, is an absorbing blend of adventure, mystery, and romance. Readers young and old will be captivated by this story from a century past, the world of our forebears, an era that, however distant, still speaks to us across the generations.

noah's raven
Noah's Raven (Book 3)
To Be Released in 2015/2016

Book Blurb:

The grim realities of the Great War in Europe are beginning to hit home across America. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, Anne Wellington and Jack Bernard befriend a scientist excavating fossil dinosaur tracks along the banks of the Connecticut River. Soon dark secrets will be revealed, some buried in ancient rock, some hidden deep in the heart of their mysterious new acquaintance.


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Book Alert & Giveaway - Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey

black diamonds

Black Diamonds: The Downfall of an Aristocratic Dynasty and the Fifty Years that Changed England
by Catherine Bailey
Kindle & Paperback, 542 pages
Penguin Books
December 30, 2014
ISBN: 0143126849

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Book Blurb:

From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Secret Rooms, the extraordinary true story of the downfall of one of England’s wealthiest families

Fans of Downton Abbey now have a go-to resource for fascinating, real-life stories of the spectacular lives led by England’s aristocrats. With the novelistic flair and knack for historical detail Catherine Bailey displayed in her New York Times bestseller The Secret Rooms, Black Diamonds provides a page-turning chronicle of the Fitzwilliam coal-mining dynasty and their breathtaking Wentworth estate, the largest private home in England.

When the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam died in 1902, he left behind the second largest estate in twentieth-century England, valued at more than £3 billion of today’s money—a lifeline to the tens of thousands of people who worked either in the family’s coal mines or on their expansive estate. The earl also left behind four sons, and the family line seemed assured. But was it? As Bailey retraces the Fitzwilliam family history, she uncovers a legacy riddled with bitter feuds, scandals (including Peter Fitzwilliam’s ill-fated affair with American heiress Kick Kennedy), and civil unrest as the conflict between the coal industry and its miners came to a head. Once again, Bailey has written an irresistible and brilliant narrative history.

Curious and want to know more? Check out this Q&A with the author about this book.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

About the Author:

Catherine Bailey studied history at Oxford University and is an award-winning television producer and director, making a range of critically acclaimed documentary films inspired by her interest in twentieth century history. Her previous book The Secret Rooms was a New York Times bestseller. She lives in West London.

Also by Catherine Bailey:

the secret rooms

The Secret Rooms



Courtesy of the publisher I have one paperback copy of Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey to giveaway.  Giveaway is open to USA residents.  Please read the full giveaway rules under 'Policies' at the top of the page.  Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!  Last day to enter is March 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Rebel Yell by S. C. Gwynne

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne
Unabridged CD, 24 hr. 57 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Cotter Smith (Narrator)
September 30, 2014
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Genre: Biography, Non-Fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review
“From the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a great and tragic American hero. 
Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.
In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked—hope—and struck fear into the hearts of the Union. 
Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. It traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.”
The Civil War has never been my strong point in history – but knowing that, I decided that it would be a good thing for me to make an effort to better understand this part of US history, especially from the side of the Confederacy. Stonewall Jackson is the only other Confederate General I could have named besides General Lee, and all I could have told you was his name. Well, now having read Rebel Yell I have come to admire this man in such a way that he has become one of my favorite figures is American history. It feel weird to make that previous remark – I have been born and raised in New England with all of the northern states history that comes with that. While I may not agree with the defense of slavery, I find him admirable for his passion, commitment to his cause, and the defense of his homeland and way of life. And while I think he might have been just a tiny bit crazy, there is no doubt that he was an amazing military commander.

It is clear that S.C. Gwynne has done his fair share of research on Jackson. The man comes to life from the pages and I felt like this was someone that I actually knew. I will admit to actually shedding a tear or two when I found out that he had actually died during the war and didn’t get to live out a long life. Gwynne does a fantastic job of getting into this man’s head. I have been expounding facts about Stonewall Jackson to pretty much anyone that would listen for the several months it took me to finish reading it. However, at no point did the book feel like I was being overwhelmed by facts put there for purely the purpose of the fact.

I learned so much about the actual battlefield war of the Civil War, whereas previously I knew mostly about the political battlefield. Sometimes reading about battles can get bogged down in technicalities, which is not so here. In Rebel Yell, Gwynne adequately describes battles enough for a layperson to understand, without simplifying it too much.

This was a great read that I can’t recommend enough.


I had an interesting experience reading/listening to this book. Apparently the tracks got jumbled on my i-pod and for a good 8 hours I was listening to chapters out of order. So then I re-started the book all over again, this time on the actual CDs that I had received. The narration was very well done and I could feel the narrator’s passion while reading the text. His pace and tone were well matched to the text. The only thing that I would have liked would be for the narrator to actually sing the song, Stonewall Jackson’s Way, instead of just reading the lyrics.

You can also watch this book talk segment from the LBJ Library:
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

  Also by S.C. Gwynne:
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Find S.C. Gwynne: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Help an HF Author (Kate Quinn) in Need

Good morning everyone.  I write today to bring your attention to an author who could use whatever help we can provide.  The historical fiction community is such a tight knit community of authors/readers/bloggers that I know so many will want to know/share/do what they can.

kate quinn

Kate Quinn, author of several books, Mistress of Rome among my favorites, suffered a devastating house fire this past week.  She had a brief stint in the hospital, but otherwise everyone made it out safe (doggie included) - however, the house is a disaster.  I have met Kate several times and she is such a sweet, hilariously funny lady - my heart goes out to her. 

So here is how you can help (in whatever way you are able/wish to):

  • Fellow author, Stephanie Dray (who has written a series on Cleopatra's Daughter, including Lily of the Nile) has set up a Go Fund Me page where all of the funds raised will go to Kate and her husband to help get them back on their feet.  Any amount you can give, no matter how small, is appreciated.
  • Pre-order Kate's upcoming novel, to be released March 3, 2015 - Lady of the Eternal City (or buy any of her other books, links below)
  • Spread the word - Twitter, Facebook, blog about it.  The more who know, the more who can help.

Kate, we wish you a speedy recovery and hope you can get back on your feet fast!

Kate's Novels:

Empress of Rome Series

Mistress of Rome

Mistress of Rome (Book 1)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound

Daughters of Rome

Daughters of Rome (Book 2)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound

Empress of the Seven Hills

Empress of the Seven Hills (Book 3)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound

lady of the eternal city

Lady of the Eternal City (Book 4)

Where to Pre-Order (releases March 5, 2015): Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound


The Borgia Chronicles Series

The Serpent and the Pearl

The Serpent and the Pearl (Book 1)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound

The Lion and the Rose

The Lion and the Rose (Book 2)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | IndieBound


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Post by Allison Pataki & Tour Wide Giveaway

Today I have the wonderful opportunity to host Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress about Empress Sisi of Austria.  Today she is here to tell you why Sisi's story is a must read for any HF enthusiast.  Stay tuned at the end for a tour wide giveaway. 

Why I Would Say The Accidental Empress is a Must-Read!

Guest Post by Allison Pataki, Author of
The Accidental Empress

accidental empress

The Accidental Empress is the little-known love story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known to her people by the affectionate nickname of “Sisi.” I found that writing the story of Sisi was a pure delight, and I can’t wait for readers to meet her.

As a reader, there is no greater joy when reading a book than finding that you have become completely and totally invested in the characters about whom you are reading. That they have morphed from just words and the one-dimensional to become living, feeling beings. They have become like close friends. You care deeply about what happens to them, and you find yourself rooting for them more and more with each page. When the book is over…you actually miss them, like you would miss a close friend who has gone away.

Well, the same goes for the writer of fiction. As a writer, there is no greater joy than feeling like the process of writing about a character is also a process of falling completely under the spell of said character. Like you are pulled into your character’s world and feelings and emotions and thoughts. Your character comes alive, becomes troublingly (but in a good way) real. You find yourself thinking about her long after you’ve stepped away from the computer. You cry when you have to write something that is difficult for her. Your heart beats a bit faster when something exciting happens for her.


Allison Pataki is the author of the New York Times bestselling historical novel, The Traitor's Wife. She graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets. The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write her second novel, The Accidental Empress, by her family’s deep roots in the former Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary. Allison is the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, ReConnect Hungary. Allison is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and FoxNews.com, as well as a member of The Historical Novel Society. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband. To learn more and connect with Allison visit her website www.AllisonPataki.com or on Twitter.

Website | Goodreads |  Twitter | Facebook

The Accidental Empress

accidental empress

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Book Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi,” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Intrigued by Sisi’s guileless charm and energetic spirit, not to mention her unrivaled beauty, Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Plucked from obscurity and thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi has no idea what struggles and dangers—and temptations—await her. Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.

With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, compelling characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into the bedrooms and staterooms of one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Habsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”

Buy the Book: Allison's Website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | RJ Julia

Also from Allison Pataki

The Traitor's Wife

traitor's wife

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My 4 Star Review of The Traitor's Wife

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


Now what you have all been waiting for...the giveaway!!

This is a tour-wide giveaway and the rules are provided to me by the tour company.

Thanks to Allison Pataki and Simon & Schuster, one lucky winner will receive a $120 gift card to the e-book retailer of their choice (Amazon/B&N/iTunes)! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open internationally.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tour Schedule: Check out the individual tour stops below or visit the tour page at Kismet Book Touring.



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winner of Michelle Moran Giveaway

Good morning everyone - I hope you are staying warm if you are caught up in the blizzard on the east coast - we are sure taking a beating this winter!

In an effort to warm up your morning, I have an announcement to make for the giveaway winner of a signed copy of Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran and a pair of Indian bangle bracelets.  The winner is....Elysium!!!

Congratulations!!! I hope you will LOVE the book!  I have already sent an email out to the winner and if I don't receive a response within 5 days I will select a new winner.  Thank you to everyone that entered. 




Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

rodins lover

Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb
Paperback, 320 pages
January 27, 2015
★★★★ ½☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Art Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review for HFVBT blog tour

“A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France.

As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness.

Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.”

I love the historical fiction sub-genre of art fiction. You get not only the atmosphere of the time period being explored, but are also treated to the beauty of the artist’s pieces. It requires that the author be both knowledgeable of the time period and art. It is not an easy feat to describe through words what a masterpiece looks like – it is so much easier to just look at it – but that is what the author must do here. It’s an extra challenge and can add so much depth to the narrative.

In Rodin’s Lover, Heather Webb does an admirable job of meeting this challenge. I have no prior knowledge of the works of Camille Claudel, however I do have some knowledge of the works of Rodin to draw from. Webb draws comparisons between the two artists, tutor and pupil, which allowed me to create enough of a visual in my head to imagine Camille’s own art pieces. Additionally, the setting was well modeled, creating a tactile experience to Paris which is lacking in some other novels that I have read of the period. There is one scene that stands out in particular in my mind that perfectly illustrates this skill – when Camille takes her brother Paul to his first salon experience. There is an opium smoke filled room, lovers in dark shadows, ample imbibing of alcohol, and more. A beautifully expressed scene.

Webb also crafts very real characters – all with their own types of flaws. You can respect Camille and her desire to make a name for herself in a male dominated world, but at the same time be pulled in the direction of the heart as well. She is a brutally honest, no-nonsense type of woman, who will tell you what she thinks – and she isn’t someone that you exactly like all of the time. Rodin I sometimes found to be whiny and clingy, despite his great artistic drive and desire to try to enhance Camille’s art. But these are the things that make characters on a flat page, have three-dimensional depth.

Heather Webb has knocked this book out of the park and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Author Heather Webb also has written Becoming Josephine. You can visit Heather’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).

If you are interested in see some images of Camille’s works, you can check out the Musée Rodin.

03_Rodin's Love_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Unique Opportunity - Get into an HF Novel!!

Have you ever wanted to have input in a historical fiction novel (or any novel for that matter)?  Well, now here is your chance!  I had to share this unique opportunity with you all because it is so cool.

Author Kathy Leonard Czepiel (author of A Violet Season) is looking for some input from readers to help get some of the finer details right in her upcoming novel.  I will use her description as to what she is looking for:

I'm in the final push of getting my second novel "finished" and ready to send to my agent this winter. It's set in 1929-1945 (well, really it stretches to 1950) and the protagonist is a woman photographer. The novel traces the evolution of her career, and also her love affair with a much younger man. In order to get the setting and the everyday details right, I've been asking my readers to send submissions to a project I'm calling 45 Treasures (in honor of 1945). It works like this: people send me a photo of an ordinary household item they have that dates from 1900 to 1945. I've been posting them in galleries on Pinterest and on my website, and when I'm ready, I will write 45 of those items into the novel itself!

How cool is that?! One of your items could end up someone in her novel!  I am going to have to sort through my grandmother's things and see if I have anything cool to submit. 

If you need some visual inspiration, here is a post Kathy has written about the project as well as the Pinterest page where she has been posting the submissions she has received.

You are are interested in submitting pictures you can email Kathy at KLCzepiel[at]att[dot]net.  I would submit you photos in the next week or two as she is getting close to getting ready to include the items into the book. 


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mailbox Monday #184


Well, this is the first Mailbox Monday for quite some time - the first of 2015!  And I have a few to share - just a few.  Mostly I haven't been as conscientious as I should be about responding to emails in general - but with another snow day today, I emptied that inbox-and added a bunch of additional books!

elizabeth i and her circleoxford illustrated hist WWIIrodins loverromantic outlawsseptember skysisters of shilohthe dyeing roomthe price of bloodthe yanks are starvingwhy we are at warwith every letterwoodrow wilson and the world war

The majority of the books are for review and were received from the publisher or author:

  • Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran - I don't tend to read too much about Elizabeth, but this could be enlightening.
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of World War Two edited by Richard Overy - I'm currently reading the Illustrated World War One book for my history class, and when I saw this one for review on Netgalley, it felt meant to be.
  • Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb - currently reading this one and it is SO good!  I love art fiction.
  • Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon - I saw this one on someone's Facebook page and it sounded interesting - although I know NOTHING about the subject.
  • September Sky by John A Heldt - I LOVE the work of this author - and although I am 1 or 2 books behind, I had to get on this one too.  Check him out!
  • Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall - I accidentally got this in both physical and e-copy - that's how excited I was about this one!
  • The Dyeing Room by Robert T McMaster - I met this author in my previous hometown and loved him.  He grew up and writes about the area in which I was living and I loved that I could learn about it through his novels.
  • The Prices of Blood by Patricia Bracewell - I love 11th century England and Queen Emma.  I have Bracewell's earlier novel (still to read) and I had to pick up this one, and maybe read them back to back.
  • The Yanks are Starving by Glen Craney - This is a novel that I picked up because it is based on the the area that I am currently studying - but in a niche I don't know anything about, The Bonus Army.

These other books were purchased by me:

  • Why We Are At War: Messages to the Congress by Woodrow WIlson - this was picked up for my research project - these are messages given to Congress by President Woodrow Wilson
  • With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin - this one was a whim purchase - mostly on the cover and the subject matter.
  • Woodrow Wilson and the World War by Charles Seymour - another book for my research project. 

    And that is it for me - not too bad in the last months I would say!  What did you get in your mailbox?


    Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court