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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review: Gallagher's Choice by M.K. McClintock

Gallagher’s Choice by M.K. McClintock
Book 3 of the Montana Gallagher series
Unabridged, 7 hr. 33 min.
Trapper’s Peak Publishing LLC
Kathryn Fields (Narrator)
August 19, 2014

Genre: Historical Romance, Western

Source: Received audio download from the author

He finally had a family to call his own.

She now knew what it meant to risk it all.

Together they had a chance to find peace at last.

Eliza Gallagher is tough, resilient, and rides a horse like she was born in the saddle. All necessary qualities for someone who runs a cattle ranch. She had more to avenge than any of them and she was counting on those skills to finally find the justice they all sought -- until she realized it could cost her everything and everyone she loved.

Ramsey Hunter finally knew what it was to have a family and what it took to keep that family together. He knew coming back wouldn’t be easy, but he never imagined what he would have to risk to keep it.

Eliza got him home; now Ramsey has to do whatever it takes to save her life and help bring peace to Hawk’s Peak.
Gallagher’s Choice brings us for the first time into the perspective of Eliza Gallagher, the rough and tumble female of the Gallagher siblings. She really is no nonsense and does what she feels is right for the family and their friends. She is one that can really take care of herself among the women – she has had to live her whole life out in the hard-scrabble west while the other two ladies (Brenna and Isabelle) grew up in more developed areas. I appreciate the difference between the three women as well.

The battle that has been brewing across the two prior books between the Gallagher’s and Nathan Hunter comes to a head here in some great dramatic moments – even though I thought the end result was a little bit of a let-down.

This time there is a romance that grows between Eliza and Ramsey (this isn’t a spoiler as it is alluded to in the back cover blurb) and it is one that makes sense. Eliza has had to fight in the west and Ramsey is fighting for his very identity – they both have something to prove to themselves.

We are also introduced to a new person that the Gallagher’s help to save – Amanda Warren. We only get a little taste of her character, but there is more to come with her in upcoming books.


I have to admit I was disappointed to see that there was a new narrator for this book. I had absolutely loved Alan Philip Ormand as the narrator of the first 2 books in this series and had looked forward to having him narrate again. So at the time, seeing as I listened to these first 3 books, back to back, I didn’t enjoy the storytelling quite as much because of this. However, with a little bit of time between listening to it and writing the review, I think the intention of having a new and female narrator was to coincide with the perspective change from the Gallagher brothers to that of Eliza Gallagher – and for that reason I commend the choice. So, don’t take my word too much on the audio – the story was awesome!

You can try a preview of the audio book to get the feel for this book.

You can also watch the book trailer below.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Also by M.K. McClintock:

Also in the Montana Gallagher series:

Gallagher’s Pride (Book 1)

Gallagher’s Hope (Book 2)

An Angel Called Gallagher (Book 4)

Other M.K. McClintock Books I Have Reviewed:

Find M.K. McClintock: Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Youtube | Blog


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book Review: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

 The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Unabridged, 15 hr.
Random House Audio
Scott Brick (Narrator)
September 12, 2003
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Purchased the audio from Audible

“Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.”
One of the recent trends I have noticed in several non-fiction books is that toward parallel story lines of seemingly disparate subjects that ultimately come together to tell a well-rounded account of a subject. I have seen this before in the threads of Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard revolving around the assassination of President James A. Garfield, the assassin Charles Guiteau, and Alexander Graham Bell and his development of the telephone. And I see it here in The Devil in the White City where Larson beautifully intertwines the events surrounding the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and the murderous spree of H.H. Holmes.

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of the World’s Fairs since seeing the old classic, Meet Me in St. Louis starring Judy Garland and the featured St. Louis World’s Fair. I can’t even envision something quite like this – the closest thing I can even come close to it would be the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) every year in New England which is one of the largest state fairs in the country. So many awesome and amazing sites and innovations would have been unveiled at fairs like these especially at this time of industrialization and scientific development (I would have loved to have seen Ferris’ Wheel – but probably would not have taken a ride on it!). The Chicago World’s Fair was plagued by so many problems during its development it’s surprising it ever got off of the ground.

So many people came to the Fair from across the country and the world. Compare expected wonder and awe of a giant fair with the true horrors of a very real murder rampage by a Chicago local, H.H. Holmes. He was a confessed murderer of 27 (but with a body count possibly as high as 200!) and a regular con-artist too. His means were gruesome – and the author goes into a bit of that too, not so much gory, but you get the idea at what he’s getting at. It was sickeningly fascinating to hear the myriad of stories of how this man swindled so many.

The way the threads of different subject matter wrap together there is never a dull moment – and while this isn’t narrative non-fiction, it is certainly of a faster pace and more compelling than many offerings out there. He gives you so much detail about the daily lives of the people he is writing about, but it never feels like a “fact dump”, it simply engulfs the reader in the world. I have now read two of the works by this author and they are among my favorites – I would highly recommend him. And I have been hearing rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio owns rights to a film version of this book and intends to play the role of H.H. Holmes – and I think this work will lend itself well to a big screen treatment!

To get a taste of the narrative - check out this excerpt.

Every time I write about this narrator’s work, I keep repeating the same praise over and over. I previously have enjoyed his narrations of In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and Salt by Mark Kurlansky. I loved how he kept the pace of the action while reading In the Heart of the Sea and he does the same here with The Devil in the White City. These are similar books in a way because the murder storyline certainly lends itself to a thriller-esque style. Not only is the text of the book never dull, but the narration only heightens that. Scott Brick is a narrator that I will keep my eye out for (with a couple others) and I think I will always enjoy his work. He brings a lot of thought into how he reads a book – and sometimes even the best book can be brought down by bad narration (and I find that happens much more often for me with non-fiction because as a genre it can be weightier).

You can listen to a sample of the fabulous audiobook narration here.

You can also watch a segment from Book TV where the author discusses this book.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Erik Larson:

Isaac’s Storm

Dead Wake

In the Garden of Beasts

Lethal Passage

The Naked Consumer


Find Erik Larson: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Book Alert Blast: The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris & Giveaway

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris
Trade Paperback, 340 pages
Kensington Books
Published November 24, 2015
ISBN: 0758281188
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Blurb:
From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances. 
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome. 
Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.
Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.


Advanced Praise:
“Kristina McMorris evokes such a strong sense of place that to open her books feels less like reading and more like traveling. Her absorbing new novel..[is an] epic, deeply felt tale of struggle and second chances… a transporting piece of historical fiction.” — BookPage 
“McMorris’ gripping immigrant saga sweeps from Dublin to New York, through Prohibition and vaudeville, from New York to San Francisco and Alcatraz. It is a young man’s battle with hardship and tragedy, but it is also a portrait of America during a turbulent time and a quest that ends in triumph. Readers will be caught up in this well-told story.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars 
“Compelling, resonant and deeply moving, The Edge of Lost is an absorbing tale of deceit and self-deception, survival and second chances, the ties that bind and the lure of the unknown.” — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train 
“The story will grab your heart on page one and won’t let go until the end—and if you’re like me, not even then. I absolutely love this book, and so will you.” — Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants 
“A beautifully told story about a young man’s journey through adversity and loss with an exhilarating ending that I couldn’t put down and stayed up well past my bedtime to finish.” — Charles Belfoure, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Architect 
“In The Edge of Lost Kristina McMorris takes us on a thrilling ride . . . I found myself thoroughly immersed in her richly evocative settings, just as I was captivated by the pure humanity of her characters as they struggled for redemption. This book is a wonderful read!” — David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women 
“The Edge of Lost takes readers on an enthralling journey . . . right up to a tense, edge-of-your-seat ending that left me breathless. An absorbing, addictive read.” — Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant 
“With prose as lyrical as the music woven through its narrative, and boasting impeccably observed historical details, The Edge of Lost is a thoroughly mesmerizing novel. I adore everything that Kristina McMorris writes and this book is no exception.” — Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Somewhere in France
About the Author:
Kristina McMorris is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep, in addition to her novellas in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central. Prior to her writing career, Kristina hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland's "40 Under 40" by The Business Journal. She lives with her husband and two sons in Oregon, where she is working on her next novel.

Find Kristina McMorris: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Follow the Book Blast:

On Twitter: #TheEdgeofLostBookBlast

Friday, December 18 The Lit Bitch, The Reading Queen
Monday, December 21 Boom Baby Reviews

Blast-Wide Giveaway:
To win a signed copy of The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.
  • Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada ONLY.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Review: Becoming George Washington by Stephen Yoch

Becoming George Washington by Stephen Yoch
E-Book, 382 pages
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
September 1, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction, President

Source: Received from Author/Publisher for review with HFVBT tour

George Washington, action hero . . .

Long before Washington was the old man on the dollar bill, he was a fatherless boy with few resources and even less education. So how did he become the most famous person in American history?

Becoming George Washington tells the story of a young man with boundless energy, bravery, and passion, who grew from a fatherless boy into a self-confident leader. At the same time, he struggled to suppress both an awful temper and his love for a married woman, Sally Fairfax. A courageous war hero, Washington rose to the pinnacle of Virginia politics. His experiences as a young man allowed him, decades later, to lead the Revolution.

This compelling historical novel reveals the person behind the famous face and how he grew to become America’s leading Founding Father.

Everyone knows the story of George Washington the great man that led the Continental Army to victory and then went on to become the First President of the United States. But what do they really know of the years that came before (because he was in his later life by that point)? The answer for most, not too much! Author Stephen Yoch takes the reader back in time to the years that really formed young George Washington into the man he would later become.

As someone who LOVES to read and learn about the presidents, I jumped at the chance to read this novel treatment of the earlier days of the first president. I have read some non-fiction that covered his earlier years, but even in non-fiction there is not usually an extended focus on this time period, with the desire to focus on his generalship or presidency. In this novel, we only see Washington in his younger iteration, and see what led to the man that the majority of us know.

For a man who just wanted to return to being a farmer in his later years, that was anything but what the young Washington wanted to do. Like most, he wanted to spread his wings and take on the world – and create a couple little scandals along the way maybe? Yoch does an excellent job of bringing this seemingly mythical man back down to earth and rooting him in the somewhat average life he led. He didn’t just wake up one day and was magically the man the country needed. He struggled and overcame and made mistakes all along the way. He made the man REAL and I felt that I really got to know him here and get inside his head.

I feel very comfortable recommending this book to any fan of presidential studies or of the early period of the United States.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

To get a feel for this book before committing to buying it, check out these excerpts!

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

Find Stephen Yoch: Website | Facebook

Follow the Tour!

On Twitter:  #BecomingGeorgeWashingtonBlogTour   #HistoricalFiction   #HistFic

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: Tales of Byzantium by Eileen Stephenson

Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories by Eileen Stephenson
e-Book, 152 pages
May 2, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Stories

Source: Received from author/publisher for HFVBT tour stop
A young empress defies her powerful father for love and her rightful place on the throne.

A charismatic commander takes the gamble of a lifetime to save the lives of thousands of innocents.

An exiled princess finds a new sense of purpose and creates a legacy that will stand through the ages.

These stories provide a glimpse of the dynamic and proud Byzantines who lived during the height of the empire’s splendor.

I am a fan of short stories and especially those that bring in interesting locales and time periods. Tales of Byzantium takes us through three different time periods of Byzantine history and whets the reader’s appetite for more!

This is certainly not a location that receives a great amount of fictional treatment, and I think that is a disservice. Byzantine history is full of so many interesting figures and events that it is ripe for a novel – however I think what might keep some away from this time/place is that not as many people are familiar with it and because so much of what took place was intimately tied into religion. Having recently taken a course on Byzantine History for my Masters program, I was very familiar with the Emperors and characters featured in these stories, however many would not be. I find it interesting that when writing on a location that is not frequently visited in fiction, the author chose to write about some of the lesser known of the Byzantines. Very interesting choice, but well executed. Considering that these were just short stories, I appreciated that the author gave an Author’s Note after each chapter to set the story within history, considering that most people will be unfamiliar with the timeline, this is very helpful.

Of the three stories, I found the first and second to be the most interesting while I could have done without the third (this however does not seem to be the case with all readers). All three of the stories are essentially character studies, not too much really happens in any of them, however, the third I found plot to be relatively non-existent. The characters were intriguing and I would probably enjoy a whole story built around them, particularly the second story.

If you are at all interested in finding a different locale for your reading, I encourage you to check out this short story collection as well as explore Byzantine history. It is very similar to the Roman (Western) Empire that it will be familiar to you, but still new and exciting.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Find Eileen Stephenson: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog

Follow the Tour!!

On Twitter: #TalesofByzantiumBlogTour  #HistoricalFiction
Tour Wide Giveaway!

To win a Paperback copy of Tales of Byzantium by Eileen Stephenson please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.  Please note this is a tour wide giveaway and any issues/questions should be directed to the tour coordinator, not me.


  • Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on December 14th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open internationally.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 14, 2015

New Book Alert Blast: Decorum by Kaaren Christopherson


Decorum: A Novel by Kaaren Christopherson
Ebook, Paperback, Audiobook, 425 pages
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Published on March 31, 2015
ISBN: 1617735213
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Book Blurb:
Kaaren Christopherson's brilliantly observed novel captures the glamour and grit of one of the world's most dazzling cities during one of its most tumultuous eras--as seen through the eyes of a singularly captivating heroine... In 1890s New York, beautiful, wealthy Francesca Lund is an intriguing prospect for worthy suitors and fortune hunters alike. Recently orphaned, she copes by working with the poor in the city's settlement movement. But a young woman of means can't shun society for long, and Francesca's long-standing acquaintance with dashing Edmund Tracey eventually leads to engagement. Yet her sheltered upbringing doesn't blind her to the indiscretions of the well-to-do... Among the fashionable circle that gathers around her there are mistresses, scandals, and gentlemen of ruthless ambition. And there is Connor O'Casey--an entirely new kind of New Yorker. A self-made millionaire of Irish stock, Connor wants more than riches. He wants to create a legacy in the form of a luxury Madison Avenue hotel--and he wants Francesca by his side as he does it. In a quest that will take her from impeccable Manhattan salons to the wild Canadian Rockies, Francesca must choose not only between two vastly different men, but between convention and her own emerging self-reliance.

Rules Of Decorum

A gentleman should not be presented to a lady without her permission being previously asked and granted. This formality is not necessary between men alone; but, still, you should not present any one, even at his own request, to another, unless you are quite well assured that the acquaintance will be agreeable to the latter. If you wish to avoid the company of any one that has been properly introduced, satisfy your own mind that your reasons are correct; and then let no inducement cause you to shrink from treating him with respect, at the same time shunning his company. No gentleman will thus be able either to blame or mistake you. The mode in which the avowal of love should be made, must of course, depend upon circumstances. It would be impossible to indicate the style in which the matter should be told... Let it, however, be taken as a rule that an interview is best; but let it be remembered that all rules have exceptions...

Advanced Praise for Decorum:

“A story of discovery, entitlement and love.” – Northern Virginia Magazine “Remarkable in its similarities to the work of Edith Wharton. The reader feels drawn into a world of glamour, glitz, and supreme hypocrisy. Everything is permissible as long as one does not get caught. It is a drama of manners and the stakes are high—one misstep could mean social oblivion…[Decorum] will appeal to a wide range of readers, particularly those who enjoy period novels such as Age of Innocence and The Portrait of a Lady.” – The Historical Novel Society “Beautiful heiress Francesca Lund must figure out how to assert her ideas within the confines of 1890’s New York high society.” – Library Journal “Reminiscent of Washington Square but with a more modern heroine, Decorum illuminates the dark world beneath New York society. Christopherson incorporates a clever mystery and populates the novel with a large cast of characters.” - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

About Kaaren Christopherson:

03_Kaaren ChristophersonKaaren Christopherson is the author of Decorum—a novel about Gilded Age New York—that began taking form in 1999 during a course on writing historical fiction. From that moment, Connor O’Casey (who had been rattling around in her brain for months) finally appeared one night and said, “All right, woman. Here I am. What are you going to do about my story?” So she began to put his words on paper, and he hasn’t kept quiet since. Soon Francesca, Blanche, Tracey, Vinnie, and the rest of the characters began arguing, gossiping, loving, and forming themselves into Kaaren’s first novel. Kaaren has had a professional career writing and editing for over 30 years and is a senior editor for an international development nonprofit organization in Washington, DC. She has written fiction since her school days, story poems, children’s books, historical fiction, and time travel, and continues to be active in writer’s groups and writing workshops. In addition to her career as a writer, Kaaren was the owner of a decorative painting business. She loves to travel and prowl through historical sites, galleries, and museums. She is active in several churches in DC and in her local Northern Virginia community, where she shares her home with feline brothers, Archie and Sammy. A Michigan native, Kaaren received her BA in history and art and her MA in educational administration from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Find Kaaren Christopherson:
Website | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads

04_Decorum_Book Blast Banner_FINAL

Follow the Book Blast!

Sunday, November 15 Seize the Words: Books in Review
Tuesday, November 17
The Reading Queen
Thursday, November 19
A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 23
Kinx's Book Nook
Wednesday, December 2
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Saturday, December 5
Room With Books
Monday, December 7
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Tuesday, December 8
A Literary Vacation & The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, December 9
CelticLady's Reviews
Thursday, December 10
Book Nerd & Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, December 11
To Read, Or Not to Read
Sunday, December 13
The Maiden's Court
Monday, December 14 100 Pages a Day & Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, December 15
So Many Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, December 16
What Is That Book About
Thursday, December 17
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Friday, December 18
Queen of All She Reads


To win a Paperback or AudioBook of Decorum please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.
  • Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on November 15th and ends at 11:59pm EST on December 18th.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open internationally.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Review: The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton

02_The Conqueror's Wife

The Conqueror’s Wife by Stephanie Thornton
ARC, Paperback, 496 pages
December 1, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review as part of HFVBT tour

330s, B.C.E., Greece: Alexander, a handsome young warrior of Macedon, begins his quest to conquer the ancient world. But he cannot ascend to power, and keep it, without the women who help to shape his destiny.

His spirited younger half-sister, Thessalonike, yearns to join her brother and see the world. Instead, it is Alexander's boyhood companion who rides with him into war while Thessalonike remains behind. Far away, crafty princess Drypetis will not stand idly by as Alexander topples her father from Persia's throne. And after Alexander conquers her tiny kingdom, Roxana, the beautiful and cunning daughter of a minor noble, wins Alexander’s heart…and will commit any crime to secure her place at his side.

Within a few short years, Alexander controls an empire more vast than the civilized world has ever known. But his victories are tarnished by losses on the battlefield and treachery among his inner circle. And long after Alexander is gone, the women who are his champions, wives, and enemies will fight to claim his legacy…

Is it just me or did anyone else really dislike Alexander in this book? The only time I found him likable was from the perspective of his little sister – even his best friend/sometimes lover disliked his actions fairly often. We see the story of Alexander from those who revolved around him: his friend, his sister, his lover, his enemy – and honestly I found their stories vastly more interesting than the man himself. I found myself anxious for Hephestion to come back on the page (a tiny bit of a crush on him, haha) and I loved Roxana (she really surprised me with how she got her own way!). Drypetis I found a little bit annoying. She was a great viewpoint to see the Macedonians from another perspective and I did love her hatred of and shared scenes with Hephestion, but she sometimes made me weary. And Thessalonike had her moments. As much as this was a story of Alexander, it was a story of all of those around him too.

Thornton writes some great dialogue. As mentioned above, I loved the scenes between Drypetis and Hephestion especially because of the dialogue. There is witty banter, hidden meaning, and snark and spitfire at every turn. At the same time, Thornton had a wide age range of people she needed to represent their thoughts/feelings/and manner of speech. Thessalonike is young and naïve at the beginning of the novel, but you have her in scenes with those a little older, like Hephestion, as well as those who would be her parents age, like Olympia – and Thornton keeps these characters and their mannerisms well defined.

As usual, Thornton carries off an excellent novel of the ancient world that truly brings the people and places to life. I didn’t race through the pages quite as quickly as I have some of her prior novels (I’m looking at you The Secret History!) but I still loved the novel and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this time period.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Stephanie Thornton:

the secret history

The Secret History
[My Review]

Daughter of the Gods

The Daughter of the Gods
[My Review]

The Tiger Queens

The Tiger Queen’s
[My Review]

Find Stephanie Thornton: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Follow the Tour!

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On Twitter: #TheConquerorsWifeBlogTour   #AlexandertheGreat

On HFVBT Webpage


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion by Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield

a year of ravens

A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion by
Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield
ARC, e-book, 440 pages
Knight Media, LLC
November 13, 2015
★★★★ ½☆

goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Stories

Source: Received for review as part of HFVBT tour

Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Celt . . . and these are their stories.

A calculating queen sees the sparks of revolt in a king’s death.

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.

 A conflicted warrior hovers between loyalty to tribe and loyalty to Rome.

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.

A fiery princess fights to salvage the pieces of her mother’s dream as the ravens circle.

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Celts who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

Last year I read the two historical fiction collections that were released in this new style of anthology where each story interconnects with each other: Grand Central and A Day of Fire. I loved both of these collections for how each short story stood on its own and then how they tied together to comprise a greater novel as a whole. So when I heard that some of the authors from A Day of Fire were getting together to write a novel of Boudica’s rebellion, I knew I was definitely reading this one – and I am so glad that I did.

So I want to take a few minutes to say a couple things about each story before I cover the collection as a whole.

The Queen by Stephanie Dray

This first chapter starts off with some backstory provided by Queen Cartimandua. She is the queen of a rival tribe in Briton and she supports that Romans in their quest to bring Briton under control. Hers is also the first perspective that we see Boudica from and that is from a sort of inside/sort of outside view. Her style of rule serves as a foil for Boudica and serves to set up the perspective of the Romans toward the Britons and vice versa. I found myself really liking Cartimandua and wanting to know more about her life.

The Slave by Ruth Downie

Ria is a slave within Boudica’s tribe and she again stands to serve as a sort of inside/sort of outside perspective. Unlike Cartimandua she is a part of the Iceni tribe, but is just a slave.

The Tribune by Russell Whitfield

The first thing I can say of this chapter is, oh the language! It is quite foul language, however it serves to set you right within the mindset of a soldier’s life quickly. This is a chapter that serves to establish a view of idealism vs. reality within the Roman ranks. There were some well written battle scenes here that ease the reader into the battles to come.

The Druid by Vicky Alvear Shecter

This was a powerful chapter – very powerful. The chapter features as druid, Yorath, and a Roman soldier and the interplay between them is some of the more powerful of the book. I was sad throughout most of this chapter, for both parties involved.

The Son by S.J.A Turney

I think that Andecarus was my favorite character from the entire novel. He is similar to Cartimandua because he straddles the line between Roman and Briton, but his conscience is more torn. Cartimandua is doing what she believes is right for her people; but Andecarus is an Iceni who spent a significant portion of his life among the Romans and his loyalties will certainly come into question here.

The Warrior by Kate Quinn

Kate had the climactic scene in A Day of Fire and she has it again here too, and handles is magnificently might I add. Duro, right hand man to Queen Boudica leads the warriors into the battle against the Romans. But the best part of this chapter is that of the interplay between Duro and his newly acquired Roman slave. I found the reaction of his Roman slave toward her captor to be interesting because they are very human. The sides don’t exactly matter; it was refreshing to see the humanity here despite the circumstances.

The Daughters by E. Knight

This chapter serves to bring the story full circle and we see the results and aftermath of the rebellion. It is a gut-wrencher for sure. However as much as I felt for them, I didn’t love the chapter. While it was an appropriate choice of closing narrators – the daughters of Boudica, I think I would have liked their perspective a little bit earlier in the novel.

I think that the choices of narration characters were spot on. There were those that represented the Roman legions, supporters of Queen Boudica, Britons who are outside the rebellion, and then those who straddle the line of humanity. The chapters alternated almost every chapter between a Roman and Briton perspective which served to keep a balanced view of the rebellion. It was both a frustration and an excellent writing choice to not have Boudica narrate a chapter herself. It would have been easy to have her narrate the great battle scene – the pinnacle of her rebellion, but at the same time, it is more powerful to see the information from the outside because no matter how close to the queen they are, they will always be an outsider in some form. I loved the structure of this novel and the tale told of the little guy going up against the behemoth of Rome.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ITunes


Also from The H Team:

The H Team is a loose collection of historical fiction authors that unite to write short story collections. Some of the authors previously collaborated for the following book:

a day of fire

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
By Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Vicky Alvear Shecter
[My Review]


Find The H Team: Facebook

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Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Review: Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot

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Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot
ARC, e-book, 384 pages
Thomas Dunne Books
December 1, 2015
★★★★ ½☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review for HFVBT tour

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot’s heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother’s schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot’s wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

If you have read novels on the life of Catherine de Medici the events in Medicis Daughter will not be new to you, however the first person perspective of Marguerite, Catherine’s daughter, should be a refreshing take on it. The novel only covers an approximate 10 years of Marguerite’s life, from her relative obscurity away from court until just past her marriage to Henry of Navarre. I actually appreciated this fact because even though Marguerite had an interesting life even after this time period, this was a defining moment her life and formed who she would become. Through Marguerite’s eyes we see a coming of age story from a young, innocent girl into a woman of the Valois court who makes decisions for herself, goes toe-to-toe with her powerful mother, and ultimately who becomes a strong woman. You get a distinct sense of her growing awareness though out the novel; she starts out a very naïve girl who finds that first blush of love thrilling and willing to do anything for it and over time begins to see the multi-faceted nature of people that maybe does not impress her so much. Upon realizing that she has been virtually used and manipulated by basically everyone around her, she makes her first truly individual decision in sticking with the husband that she never wanted for reasons that she would never have been capable of realizing at the beginning of the novel.

When I first opened the pages of this novel, I thought “oh, first person…great”. I am not the biggest fan of first person narratives for the same reason that many do not like this perspective – the limiting nature and scope of the story. Sometimes authors have to use a variety of tricks to bring important information into the narrative. In Perinot’s Valois court, accomplishing this task felt natural enough. For Marguerite, she is kept away from much of the back room deals, but her friends have close access, and are able to bring information to her that she would not have been privy to. Early on, it is established that here are hidden passageways and listening holes throughout the court that Marguerite takes advantage of on occasion. Knowing that Catherine was always on top of the intrigue, I could whole-heartedly believe that these things existed in her courts, which allow Marguerite to discover some information herself without feeling out of place.

I have read a few novels that take on the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, but Perinot really gives it a perspective I had not viewed it from before. First, and again, you are seeing it through the eyes of a relative innocent in the court. There are a couple forewarnings for Marguerite, but she really has no idea what is coming, she just has a feeling that something is coming. You have the emotional revelation for her of being just a puppet on a string to her mother’s and brother’s political and religious game and the emotions of the heart too. This serves to color her reactions to the events in a way that would be markedly different than any story told from the perspective of her mother, Catherine, or her brother, King Charles, who were both deep into this political plan. And, the way the event is seen through Marguerite’s eyes lends a whole new intensely dramatic lens to the story. Very well done.

The Author’s Note at the end of the novel pointed out how thru Marguerite we see Catherine de Medici in a different light – that of the lens of the eternal mother-daughter struggle. For quite some time Marguerite is not privy to all of the behind the scenes machinations that Catherine is a part of but there is still that eternal teenage angst that keeps the tension between the two.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Also by Sophie Perinot:

sister queens

The Sister Queens
[My Review

a day of fire

A Day of Fire
[My Review]

Find Sophie Perinot: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads


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On Twitter: #MedicisDaughterBlogTour   #SophiePerinot   #HistoricalFiction

On HFVBT Webpage



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