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Friday, March 31, 2017

Audiobook Review: Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo

irena's children

Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Unabridged, 10 hr. 31 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Amanda Carlin (Narrator)
September 27, 2016
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Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Received the audio download from the publisher for review

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, going from door to door and asking the parents to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling them out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings.

But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept secret lists buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On them were the names and true identities of those Jewish children, recorded with the hope that their relatives could find them after the war. She could not have known that more than ninety percent of their families would perish.

In Irena’s Children, Tilar Mazzeo tells the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust—a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

Irena’s Children was a powerful reading experience. I don’t think you get a true sense of the devastation of WWII and the Nazi regime until you read a book like this, written about those or from those who were out there doing everything they could everyday to save those being threatened. Putting their own lives on the line everyday knowing that one wrong move could not only end in the loss of their own life, but that of many others in their network too. I had of course heard stories of those individuals who were saving others, and of course had heard about Oskar Schinder and seen Schindler’s List, but I had never heard of Irena Sendler and her equally amazing story.

Sendler’s story is amazing not only because of what she did (saving over 2000 Jewish children) but also what happened to her. She was arrested for her actions and sentenced to execution, but thanks to some of the inner workings of her network, she was able to escape and lead the Nazi’s on a chase for her while still helping to save more children. It’s equally amazing that her contributions to the effort were not recognized officially until 1965 and even still her name is not well known (I took several college and Masters level classes on WWII and her name and organization never came up once in all my readings and discussions). Of course she didn’t do it for fame and notoriety, but failing to recognize the contributions of her and her organization is a gaping hole in the history in my opinion.

Mazzeo beautifully renders this story and brings Irena to life. I felt that I was able to get to know this woman and what drove her day in and day out to continue doing this extraordinarily tough job. I felt a hint of what it would be like to be afraid of everything falling down around you, the stresses of the daily danger, and hoping that you could make it work, a world bigger than her own existence. Her associates, many of them, are given the same treatment and Mazzeo gives us their story as much as possible too. This book made me really feel for these people and brought tears to my eyes a few times.

This is a compelling and page-turning book. While not written in a narrative style that usually is the most successful at driving a non-fiction work forward, the sense of danger that is created here from Irena’s life takes over that responsibility and made we want to keep reading more.



I definitely had a struggle with this narrator at the beginning of my listening experience. Especially in the opening chapters she almost sounds robotic or computer generated. Many of the words sounded over enunciated and there was a staccato speech pattern. My enjoyment of the text of the book made it more tolerable to listen to. However, either I became used to the sound of her voice or it changed some, I’m not sure, it because easier to listen to the further I went on and I didn’t find that I was noticing the robotic feel that stood out in those earlier sections. I don’t know it this was a production type thing or what, but I’m glad it resolved itself.

You can check out a sample of this audio book below:


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Tilar J. Mazzeo:

The Widow Clicquot

the hotel
The Hotel on Place Vendome

chanel no 5
The Secret of Chanel No. 5

Find Tilar J. Mazzeo:
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cover Crush: In Farleigh Field

Cover Crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

in farleigh field

I’m finding a trend that I am attracted to covers that have a certain color palate – rich jewel tones.  The blues and the greens just call out to me.  The title might appear a little bit large for the cover, making it more of the focal point than the actual image itself.  But it is evocative of the story description.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Bookaholic Swede and A Literary Vacation

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Audiobook Discussions: Favorite Narrators

IMG_20161207_184007_065000 (1)

I have been doing a lot of audiobook listening lately and I attended a recent blogger webinar about audiobook reviewing which got me thinking more and more about audiobooks.  So I wanted to know more of what you think about them!  From there, Audiobook Discussions has been born!

This week I want to discuss my/your favorite narrators.  Who do you love to listen to and why?

I have a couple narrators that have made me put books on my To Be Read list that would never have been on there otherwise, just because I like to listen to them.  Here are a few of them:

  • Moira Quirk – I first heard her in The Secret Life of Anna Blanc but she has narrated over 40 books as listed on Audible to include the Gail Carriger Finishing School and Custard Protocol serieses, the Kristen Calihan Darkest London series, and Elizabeth Hoyt Princes Trilogy.  I especially loved how she brought her characters to life and made each unique.
  • Scott Brick – Brick is a favorite among audio listeners and has accordingly won many awards for his work.  I have only listened to him in the form of non-fiction (In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and Salt by Mark Kerlansky) but he has narrated many thrillers and other fiction novels.  For me, he has brought these non-fiction titles to life.  Particularly, In the Heart of the Sea, felt just like an adventure.
  • Edward Hermann – This was one of the first times that a non-fiction book felt like an adventure to me while listening.  Similar to how I like Scott Brick’s narration, Hermann does a lot to make a non-fiction title entertaining and accessible.  In my review of Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson I actually stated that “I could probably listen to him read the dictionary and find it vastly interesting.” I have also listened to him perform The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin and he has performed MANY other high profile non-fiction books that were on my list already. 
  • Cassandra Campbell – One of the most excellent narration performances I listened to in 2016 – absolutely phenomenal!  I listened to My Last Continent by Midge Raymond which while the story was excellent on its own, Campbell’s performance made the story even more passionate and heartrending.  I have already picked up several more performed by her to add to my collection.


Do you have any favorite narrators or performances that absolutely blew you away?  I would love to know so I can add them to my list!


You can check out the other posts in this series:


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Interview with Amalie Howard & Angie Morgan and Excerpt of My Darling, My Disaster & Giveaway

I had the opportunity to share a brief interview with the authors of My Darling, My Disaster, Amalie Howard and Angie Morgan.  This is a spicy historical romance and I also have the opportunity to share an excerpt and giveaway with you all today.  Read on!


Heather: Help us get to know both of you a little, describe yourself in five words or less.

Amalie Howard: Creative, fun-loving, humorous, passionate, free-spirited.

Angie Morgan: Relaxed, creative, inquisitive, cheerful, active

H: Can you tell us a little about your book to give the readers an idea of what to expect when they pick it up?

AH & AM: MY DARLING, MY DISASTER is a fun, sexy story about an arrogant young lord who meets his match in a runaway princess disguised as his sister’s lady’s maid. There’s mystery, suspense, action, and buckets of sizzling romantic tension.

H: Sounds like a fun romp! 

What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

AH: Two recent historical romance books I really enjoyed were THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley, and WILD WICKED SCOT by Julia London. They’re both very different, but the writing in each is sublime.

AM: I loved THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr and am so excited for the TV series starring Luke Evans coming up soon! I thought PROMISE OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet was a really fun romantic fantasy. Right now I’m reading BARED TO YOU by Sylvia Day and I’m constantly blushing.

H: Oh, I have been reading Julia London, glad to hear you are enjoying it too!

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

AH I’m an obsessive/compulsive reader. Sometimes, on a reading binge of a particular genre, I can read a book a night for weeks at a time. I also like to watch movies. I’m a very visual person, and films are my guilty pleasure. Put it this way, I’ve already seen Beauty and the Beast twice and it only opened two days ago on Friday. I saw Deadpool at least a handful of times in the theaters and bought the Blu-Ray, and let’s not even talk about The Force Awakens. Anything Marvel can take my money. I’m super excited for Ghost in the Shell and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2. #DIEHARDFANGIRL.

AM: I make sure writing happens almost every day, and I’m usually working on more than one project at a time. But on my off-hours, I’m a school volunteer, a chauffeur for my daughters and their friends (unfortunately, there’s no bus transportation for our small school!), my town’s official crazy chicken lady, a freelance editor for Independent authors, a long distance runner, and -- whenever I get the chance to sit down -- an avid reader.

H: I al always looking to pick author’s brains to help out those aspiring to do so.  Do you have any advice or lessons learned to pass on?

AH & AM: First of all, don’t be afraid to write what you love, and have confidence in your ideas. For any new writer, we would encourage reading as many books as you can get your hands on—the more you read (especially books that have been successful in the genre), the more you’ll understand the elements required to pen an equally successful novel of your own. Reading outside of the romance genre will broaden your scope, too. The most important piece of advice though is just to keep writing, keep trying, and keep reading.

Amalie and Angie

Amalie Howard’s love of romance developed after she started pilfering her grandmother’s novels in high school when she should have been studying. She has no regrets. A #1 Amazon bestseller and a national IPPY silver medalist, she is the author of My Rogue, My Ruin, the first in the Lords of Essex historical romance series, as well as several award-winning young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s IndieNext pick. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her website for the latest news and information.

Find Amalie Howard: 

Angie Morgan lives in New Hampshire with her husband, their three daughters, a menagerie of pets, and an extensive collection of paperback romance novels. She’s the author of MY ROGUE, MY RUIN, the first book in the Lords of Essex historical romance series, as well as several young adult books, including The Dispossessed series written under the name Page Morgan. Critically acclaimed by Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, School Library Journal, VOYA, and The Bulletin, Angie’s novels have been an IndieNext selection, a Seventeen Magazine Summer Book Club Read, and a #1 Amazon bestseller. Visit her website for the latest news and information



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Book Blurb:

"A hearty dose of secrets and burning passion. A page-turning escape!" – Eliza Knight, USA Today bestselling author

A princess who had it all. A lord with everything to lose.
Lord Graham Findlay, the shamelessly virile Viscount Northridge, has a disgraceful secret, one he’ll do anything to hide. Holding his passions at bay, Gray has sworn off the fairer sex. But when temptation comes in the form of an intriguing woman he cannot easily avoid, Gray’s integrity—and his most depraved desires—are put to the ultimate test.

Self-assured and carefree Princess Svetlanka Volkonsky never dreamed she would one day become a lady’s maid to avoid a dangerous traitor. But danger also comes in many guises, especially in the sinful and devastatingly attractive lord of the manor who introduces her to a world of singular pleasure.

When Lana’s past emerges to threaten the life and the false identity she’s built in England, she and Gray find themselves falling into a tangled web of lies and intrigue...and the last place either of them expected to fall...in love.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Entangled Publishing


Check out this nice sneak peek of this sizzling story!


The interior of the coach felt hot, and she could swear that Lord Northridge’s body was closer than it had been moments before. Lana’s pulse spiked, every inch of her skin prickling with bright awareness. She had been courted by suitors before and had been the recipient of hastily stolen embraces in the arbor at Volkonsky Palace. But no man had ever made her feel the way she did now—like a fox in a hunt with nowhere to run. Her short nails dug into her palms even as she feigned continued indifference. It was a talent she’d inherited from her mother: the ability to remain tranquil and unruffled in any situation.

But, lord, the man pushed her to the limits of her skill.

Despite her composed exterior, Lana was acutely conscious of him. With each inhale and exhale, she could scent the spice of his cologne and the bite of whiskey and cigar smoke, see the rise and fall of the pulse in his neck, hear the rustle of his clothing against the plush velvet seat. She could feel his hooded eyes settling upon her as if they were hands pressing against her flesh, boldly pushing past the confines of her cloak.

Undressing her.

Refusing to succumb to his debauchery, she met his eyes with cool hauteur, and they dropped provokingly to her lips. He was trying to shock her, she knew. But Lana held his stare, refusing to be cowed by whatever new perverse game he was playing. She swallowed a biting response that would remind him of his place, and hers—Lord Northridge at the best of times was unpredictable, and after a night on the town with liquor in his blood, she would do well to curb her tongue. Lest he force himself upon her like some lovelorn swain.

No, not lovelorn. Lord Northridge would not allow such a common emotion as love to rule him. The art of his seduction, if at all, would be calculated and ruthless…meant only to serve him and no other. Lovesick females fell at his feet, not the reverse. Lord Northridge’s eyes met hers as if her thoughts had grown transparent, and she flushed when another knowing smirk appeared.

Lord have mercy, he made her want to kick him. Hard.

Flustered, Lana couldn’t quite help herself as the coach finally rolled to a sharp stop in front of the manor. “Like what you see?” she asked in succinct tones.

A reluctant smile tugged at the corner of his lips at her veiled mockery. “Very much.”

Lana went still at the candid admission. He looked as surprised as she did. An arctic flush suffused her chest and climbed her neck as James opened the coach door. She slid forward, taking the footman’s hand and making her escape with every ounce of grace she could manage. “Perhaps you should endeavor to foist your attentions where they will be better welcomed. Good day, Lord Northridge.”

His husky chuckle at what would have been a crushing setdown in any other circumstance followed her all the way to the front door.

Blast the arrogant clodpole to Hades.

Enter the Tour Wide Giveaway!

Entangled is hosting a tour wide giveaway that is for a signed print copy My Rogue, My Ruin, Book 1 of the Lords of Essex series.  The entries can be made via the Rafflecopter below.  Any questions should be directed to Tasty Book Tours as they are coordinating this tour.

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New Book Alert: The English Duke by Karen Ranney–Excerpt & Giveaway

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The English Duke by Karen Ranney
Book 2 in The Duke Trilogy
e-Book and Paperback; 384 pages
Avon Books
ISBN: 0062466895
March 28, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance

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Book Blurb:

In the second in New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Ranney’s scintillating series, society’s most coveted duke finds the one thing wealth and position cannot buy—the perfect partner…

For years, Martha York has been fascinated by a man she’s never met—Jordan Hamilton, the new Duke of Roth and protégé to her inventor father. Could the elusive gentleman possibly live up to his brilliant letters? When Martha travels to his estate to carry out her father’s last bequest, she discovers that the answer is a resounding yes, for the duke’s scientific mind belies a deep sensuality…

Jordan was determined to complete his prototype alone, but it’s impossible to resist the alluring young woman who shows up at his door. Working together, they grow ever closer, until a case of mistaken identity leaves him bound to another. A woman’s heart may be more complex than the most intricate invention, but Jordan must find a way to win Martha’s, or lose the only woman who can truly satisfy him… 



I have an excerpt from The English Duke to share with you all today!!



July, 1871 Griffin House, England

Martha York stared down at the letter her sister had just handed her.

For months she’d been trying to satisfy her father’s bequest. He’d asked her to see that his work was given to the Duke of Roth. That’s all. Except it hadn’t been easy, had it?

She’d been writing to the duke for nearly a year and never received an answer. Not a note. Nothing dictated to a secretary. Not one small sliver of information. She’d kept writing and he’d kept ignoring her.

“Aren’t you going to open it, Martha?” Josephine asked.

She nodded, staring at the distinctive emblem on the reverse before removing the seal.

Part of her never wanted him to write back. There, a bit of honesty. She hadn’t wanted to relinquish all her father’s precious diaries, all his prototypes, all his notes.

“What does he say, Martha?” Josephine asked. “Has he invited us to Sedgebrook? Has he?”

Martha frowned at her sister. “Of course he hasn’t.” “But what has he said? Are you going to read it to us?” Josephine asked, her glance encompassing their grandmother.

Gran didn’t say a word, but she was looking over at Martha. Normally, nothing could divert her attention from her crochet work.

“He says he doesn’t want Father’s bequest. He does send his condolences on Father’s death. A year late.”

“He has to take it,” Gran said calmly. “Shall we just send everything in a wagon? He’d have no choice but to accept everything.”

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to Bessie,” she said, referring to her father’s latest prototype. “Why he thought the duke would want it, I’ve no idea.”

“They were friends,” Gran said. “Matthew didn’t spare the time for many people.”

Martha only nodded. Gran’s son, their father, had been a hermit, but a happy one. He went to the cottage situated at the end of the lawn every day, content to tinker there surrounded by his inventions, and al- lowing his imagination to take him where it would.

The unlikely friendship between Jordan Hamilton and her father had begun before the man had become the Duke of Roth. He’d been a naval officer then, curious about her father’s work, and writing with his questions. That had sparked an intense correspondence, one that lasted until pneumonia had taken Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.

“At least he finally deigned to answer my letter,” Martha said. “Which is the most he’s done all these months. He probably got tired of me writing.”

“What are you going to do?” Gran asked, her crochet work forgotten on her lap.

“I could simply keep writing him until he agrees to come here.”

“Or we could take Father’s bequest to him,” Josephine said.

She glanced up at her sister.

“That’s out of the question,” she said, staring down at the distinctive handwriting. She knew it well. She’d read every one of the duke’s letters to her father.

She hadn’t expected him to repudiate her father’s gift. Doing so was worse than a slap in the face. His ignoring her letters ridiculed the relationship that Matthew York had valued so much. She’d thought the Duke of Roth had felt the same, but evidently he didn’t.

“Why is it out of the question?” Josephine asked. “Josephine, please sit,” she said, looking up at her sister.

Each time Josephine passed in front of her, perfume wafted in her direction. Ever since her mother had departed Griffin House, Josephine had taken to wearing Marie’s favorite French perfume. It was, according to her sister, a sophisticated fragrance. Martha thought it was overbearing and too flowery.

Perhaps Josephine wore it to remind her of Marie. No doubt that was the same reason her sister gravitated to the Rose Parlor. Her mother often sat here, staring out at the lawn, her gaze impenetrable and almost troubling to witness.

The room was filled with all those things Marie loved, but evidently not enough to remain at Griffin House. Needlepoint sat in a frame, patiently waiting to be finished. Needlepoint pillows were arranged on the sofa. Footrests upholstered in needlepoint sat at their feet while needlepoint pictures of flowers framed in gold hung on one wall. Even the draperies had needlepoint tiebacks.

She couldn’t help but wonder if Marie truly had an affinity for needlepoint or if it was only an outlet for other feelings.

The Rose Parlor had been decorated by her step- mother. The sofa and love seat, as well as the curtains that framed the view of the back lawn and the lake were pink. The pillows that weren’t covered in needlepoint were pink as well. The round carpet beneath her feet consisted of overblown lush roses—in pink, of course—with a contrasting green border.

Josephine loved the room. Martha felt slightly bilious in it. Gran didn’t seem to mind, being as involved in her crocheting as Marie had been in her needlepoint.

As for herself, when she wasn’t in her own room, she was in her father’s cottage. Although not quite a laboratory, it truly wasn’t an office, either. Instead, it was a combination of the two with tall skinny windows looking out over the lake.

She was his assistant and one of her tasks was to record his thoughts and experiments for the ages as well as to serve as his sounding board.

He’d been a good man, a truly inventive one. If he was more involved in his pursuits and less his family, perhaps that was to be expected.

No one, least of all her, had been that surprised when Marie had hied off to France six months after his death. According to the letter she had written Josephine, she was madly in love with a French count.

Of course I will send for you, my love, she’d written.

As soon as Pierre and I are settled at his estate. You will love the château. It’s so much more to my taste than Griffin House ever was.

Marie was French, a fact that Josephine seemed to recite more and more often of late. As if being half- French was something preferable to being completely English.

“Well?” Josephine asked. “What are you going to do?”

Martha looked out at the lake, placid in the July morning, remembering her father’s words. “Wherever there’s a mystery, you can’t help but feel excitement. Always seek to find a mystery. The sheer act of solving it will keep you happy.”

The mystery that had occupied her mind ever since his death was finding how that final experiment had been successful. He’d been so happy when he’d come in from the storm. He’d been drenched but ecstatic, telling her that his vessel had leveled off, heading directly for the target.

But he hadn’t told her how.

In this instance there were no notes. No thoughts or idle speculation. Nothing to give her any clue.

She was determined that his life’s work would be finished, even if she had to turn over all his notes and work to the duke.

“We have to go,” Josephine said, interrupting her thoughts. “It’s what Father would have wanted. Besides, it’s the Duke of Roth! Can you imagine, Martha? We could see Sedgebrook!”

About the Author


Karen Ranney wanted to be a writer from the time she was five years old and filled her Big Chief tablet with stories. People in stories did amazing things and she was too shy to do anything amazing. Years spent in Japan, Paris, and Italy, however, not only fueled her imagination but proved she wasn't that shy after all.

Now a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, she prefers to keep her adventures between the covers of her books. Karen lives in San Antonio, Texas.


Tour Wide Giveaway

Avon is hosting a tour wide giveaway and 2 winners will receive a copy of The Scottish Duke, book 1 in The Dukes Trilogy.  Entries can be made via the Rafflecopter below.  Any questions should be directed to Tasty Book Tours as I am not in charge of this giveaway.  Good luck!

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Wish List 5: Reminiscences on My Trip to Las Vegas


Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme. I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  This month my inspiration came from my recent trip to Las Vegas.  At some of the locations we visited, the gift shops featured books about the local attractions, both fiction and non-fiction.  I thought it would be cool to explore some of these books in my wish list this month.  This list is a little eclectic in genre – not all are Hist-Fic.

Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon by Edward Dolnick (Non-Fiction)

down the great unknown0n May 24, 1869, a one-armed Civil War veteran named John Wesley Powell and a ragtag band of nine mountain men embarked on the last great quest in the American West. No one had ever explored the fabled Grand Canyon; to adventurers of that era it was a region almost as mysterious as Atlantis -- and as perilous.

The ten men set out down the mighty Colorado River in wooden rowboats. Six survived. Drawing on rarely examined diaries and journals, Down the Great Unknown is the first book to tell the full, true story.

Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century by Michael A. Hiltzik (Non-Fiction)

ColossusAs breathtaking today as the day it was completed, Hoover Dam not only shaped the American West but helped launch the American century. In the depths of the Great Depression it became a symbol of American resilience and ingenuity in the face of crisis, putting thousands of men to work in a remote desert canyon and bringing unruly nature to heel.

Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Michael Hiltzik uses the saga of the dam’s conception, design, and construction to tell the broader story of America’s efforts to come to grips with titanic social, economic, and natural forces. For embodied in the dam’s striking machine-age form is the fundamental transformation the Depression wrought in the nation’s very culture—the shift from the concept of rugged individualism rooted in the frontier days of the nineteenth century to the principle of shared enterprise and communal support that would build the America we know today. In the process, the unprecedented effort to corral the raging Colorado River evolved from a regional construction project launched by a Republican president into the New Deal’s outstanding—and enduring—symbol of national pride.

Yet the story of Hoover Dam has a darker side. Its construction was a gargantuan engineering feat achieved at great human cost, its progress marred by the abuse of a desperate labor force. The water and power it made available spurred the development of such great western metropolises as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and San Diego, but the vision of unlimited growth held dear by its designers and builders is fast turning into a mirage.

In Hiltzik’s hands, the players in this epic historical tale spring vividly to life: President Theodore Roosevelt, who conceived the project; William Mulholland, Southern California’s great builder of water works, who urged the dam upon a reluctant Congress; Herbert Hoover, who gave the dam his name though he initially opposed its construction; Frank Crowe, the dam’s renowned master builder, who pushed his men mercilessly to raise the beautiful concrete rampart in an inhospitable desert gorge. Finally there is Franklin Roosevelt, who presided over the ultimate completion of the project and claimed the credit for it. Hiltzik combines exhaustive research, trenchant observation, and unforgettable storytelling to shed new light on a major turning point of twentieth-century history.

Waterbourne by Bruce Murkoff (Historical Fiction)

waterbourneA panorama of human desire and enterprise, Bruce Murkoff’s first novel is exceptional for its ambition, its grasp of history and, above all, its stunning array of characters.

Waterborne is set in the Great Depression, and culminates at the Boulder Dam: the greatest engineering project of its time, and a beacon of hope capable of altering the course of society. The nation, crippled by poverty and despair, clearly needs a transformation, and the same is true of the people. Filius Poe grew up with everything, then lost nearly all of it. Lew Beck felt deprived of everything, and now means to have his revenge. Lena McCardell, who thought she had exactly what she wanted, discovers almost overnight that only by taking her son and joining the multitude already on the road will she have the chance of a fresh start and a brighter future.

From various directions and distances, these three are inevitably drawn to this vast construction site in the Nevada desert, along with the stories of their families, their friends and their fellow travelers–the novel itself developing the force of a mighty river, then channeling and harnessing its prodigious energy. With generous understanding and absolute authority, Bruce Murkoff captures the conflicting imperatives of these vivid lives as well as the heart and breadth of the country through which they move, and whose destiny they help shape.

Cold Deck by H. Lee Barnes (Fiction)

cold deckJude is a Las Vegas casino dealer who barely survived the deadly MGM fire in 1980. More than two decades later, he's still dealing, a tired, middle-aged man, divorced, struggling with debt, and trying to be a good father to his children. Then he loses his job and his car is totaled in an accident. When an attractive woman friend offers to help him get another job, Jude is happy to go along. Gradually, he realizes that his new job is part of an elaborate scheme to cheat a casino and that his own fate and that of his children depend on his finding the courage and ingenuity to extricate himself.

"Cold Deck" is the exciting story of an ordinary man who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. Moving from Las Vegas's mean streets to the insider's world of casino workers, this is a story of survival set against the greed, fears, and glitz of Sin City.

Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas by David G Schwartz (Non-Fiction)

grandissimoJay Sarno built two path-breaking Las Vegas casinos, Caesars Palace (1966) and Circus Circus (1968), and planned but did not build a third, the Grandissimo, which would have started the mega-resort era a decade before Steve Wynn built The Mirage. As mobsters and accountants battled for the soul of the last American frontier town, Las Vegas had endless possibilities—if you didn’t mind high stakes and stiff odds. Sarno invented the modern Las Vegas casino, but he was part of a dying breed—a back-pocket entrepreneur who’d parlayed a jones for action and a few Teamster loans into a life as a Vegas casino owner.

For all of his accomplishments, his empire didn’t last. Sarno sold out of Caesars Palace shortly after it opened—partially to get away from the bookies and gangsters who’d taken over the casino—and he was forced to relinquish control of Circus Circus when the federal government indicted him on charges of offering the largest bribe in IRS history—a bribe he freely admitted paying, on the advice of his attorney, Oscar Goodman. Though he ultimately walked out of court a free man, he never got Circus back. And though he guessed the formula that would open up Las Vegas to millions in the 1990s with the design of the Grandissimo, but he wasn’t able to secure the financing for the casino, and when he died in 1984, it remained only a frustrating dream.

Sarno's casinos--and his ideas about how to build casinos--created the template for Las Vegas today. Before him, Las Vegas meant dealers in string ties and bland, functional architecture. He taught the city how to dress up its hotels in fantasy, putting toga dresses on cocktail waitresses and making sure that even the stationery carried through with the theme. He saw Las Vegas as a place where ordinary people could leave their ordinary lives and have extraordinary adventures. And that remains the template for Las Vegas today.

Grandissimo is the story of how Jay Sarno won and lost his casino empire, inventing modern Las Vegas along the way.
In Grandissimo, you'll learn Jay's fascinating story, and also plenty of things you never knew about Las Vegas, including:
- the true story about how Jimmy Hoffa's Teamsters Union first started funding Sarno projects
-how Steve Wynn ended up answering the telephone in Hoffa's suite on the second day Caesars Palace was open
- how Sarno, represented by Oscar Goodman, beat a seemingly-airtight case against him when he was accused of offering the largest bribe in IRS history to an undercover agent
- how Sarno's unbuilt Grandissimo became the template for the 1990s "mega-resort" era in Las Vegas
From start to finish, it's the story of the man who inspired modern Las Vegas.

If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month (to post as they go live):

keep calm and support book bloggers

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cover Crush: Badlands

Cover Crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.


Well this cover says a lot of things to me:

  1. It is a western
  2. It is related to the medical field somehow
  3. And there is a woman on the move

I love how the blue colors of the sky blend into the woman’s dress and contrast so vividly with the golden hues of the grasslands.  And how the woman’s hair matches the grasslands and ties the top with the bottom. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: 2 Kids and Tired Books; Flashlight Commentary; A Bookaholic Swede; A Literary Vacation.

keep calm and support book bloggers


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Book Alert: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

the confessions of young nero

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
Book 1 in the Nero Series
e-Book, Hardcover, Paperback; 528 pages
Berkley Books
ISBN: 0451473388
March 7, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Book Blurb:

THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO takes readers through the early life of Rome’s infamous Nero. Through the machinations of his mother, Agrippina the Younger, Nero became emperor at the age of sixteen, the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. But the road was a frightening one.  The young boy, an intelligent, sensitive and watchful child, had a series of psychological shocks from an early age.  His cruel uncle Caligula and his scheming cousin Messalina threatened his life, and his domineering and ambitious mother Agrippina married and poisoned two men en route to securing the throne for her son. Agrippina viewed Nero’s power as an extension of her own will. But once on the throne—like the teenage boy he was—Nero did not want to take orders from his mother.  Soon the world was not big enough for the two of them. Thereafter he was remembered as a hedonist and tyrant who “fiddled” while his people burned. But the truth behind the caricature, revealed here, shows Nero to be instead a product of his mother’s relentless ambition, and the incest, violence, luxury, and intrigue that have gripped Rome’s seat of power for generations.

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

Praise for The Confessions of Young Nero

The Confessions of Young Nero is a wonderful novel, one of Margaret George’s finest. Her rich, vivid descriptions and keen insight into human nature bring ancient Rome to life as only the very best historical fiction can. Readers will be enthralled from the riveting first scene to the breathtaking finale.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Traitors and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

“Absolutely spellbinding! The magic Margaret George weaves with her latest novel, The Confessions of Young Nero, leaves the reader feeling as if they’ve been transported more than two thousand years into the past. Margaret George is a masterful storyteller, and every character in The Confessions of Young Nero leaps from the page. A truly wonderful read!”—Michelle Moran

“With her signature style and keen eye for research, Margaret George frees Nero from lurid legend, resurrecting the fearsome, often misunderstood emperor in all his glory, forsaken innocence, and fallible humanity. From a curious boy overshadowed by his mother’s malignant ambitions to a gifted youth enamored of the arts and obliged to take the throne, young Nero leaps to life in this vivid, unforgettable confessional of his early life and first years as emperor. Set against a backdrop of ancient splendor and decadence, The Confessions of Young Nero is the triumphant return of one of our finest living writers of historical fiction—the engrossing tale of Nero’s gradual surrender to absolute power, and his struggle to retain his soul as he becomes Imperial Rome’s most notorious ruler.” – C.W. Gortner, author of The Vatican Princess

About the Author:

margaret george

Margaret George writes biographical novels about outsized historical characters: Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalene, Helen of Troy, and Elizabeth I. Her latest, The Confessions of Young Nero, will be published in March. All six of her novels have been New York Times bestsellers, and the Cleopatra novel was made into an Emmy-nominated ABC-TV miniseries.

She especially enjoys the research she has done for the novels, such as racing in an ancient Greek stadium, attending a gladiator training school in Rome, and studying the pharmacology of snake poison.

Find Margaret George: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

You can watch this video of Margaret George discussing the defining moments in Nero’s life:


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Review: The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie & Giveaway

enemies of versailles

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie
Book 3 in the Mistresses of Versailles Series
ARC, e-book, 416 pages
Atria Books
March 21, 2017
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received via Netgalley for Review with TLC Book Tours

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches inevitable revolution.

I have been fascinated with Christie’s Mistresses of Versailles series since the first pages of The Sisters of Versailles. French history in general is an area that I am not as familiar with and therefore the stories are always new and exciting. While I still found many of the things that I enjoyed about the prior novels in the series, Enemies of Versailles didn’t carry quite the same level of feelings that I had for the first two books. Let me explain.

In both The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles, the women featured were all lovers of the King. This lent the chapters a competitive nature and added to the scandal that it was of the time. The Enemies of Versailles pits du Barry, his last lover, against his eldest daughter, Adelaide, and then to some extent the dauphine and later Queen, Marie Antoinette. Understandably, there is a very different dynamic at play here; at the very least they are fighting over very different types of love and power. This wasn’t as compelling a driving force for me as had been previously. It was a different kind of rivalry than I had come to expect from this series that wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

Additionally, I couldn’t help but take the side of du Barry (because you always pick a side in these types of stories). While she was the King’s lover and raised up from the gutter, she was for the most part kind and easy to read her way of thinking in her chapters. Adelaide was more difficult. Her frustration with du Barry all was because of simply her role as the lover of her father was a sin and she wanted to bring him back to the right side of God. It truly felt like a little girl not getting her way, which wasn’t cute on like a 50 year old woman. She was vindictive and conniving, yet she was supposed to be above everyone else. So ultimately I enjoyed the du Barry chapters more. One thing that I did enjoy was when Adelaide was with her whole bevy of sisters. There interactions reminded me of that of the Nesle sisters from The Sisters of Versailles; the backbiting, the one-up-manship, etc.

This book presented a different view of Marie Antoinette as well. Typically books about her feature her as a central character and we see her in a sympathetic light, or juxtaposed against the view of her from the common people. This was interesting to see how the two factions, du Barry and Adelaide sort of fought for control over her when she first came to court. She is a more minor figure in this story, but she is still used as a tool in the battle between the women. I actually enjoyed her portion of the story, even seeing her in a different way.

Overall, this was a good read, but not my favorite of the whole series.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Sally Christie:

the sisters of versailles
The Sisters of Versailles
(Book 1)
[My Review]

the rivals of versailles
The Rivals of Versailles
(Book 2)
[My Review]

Find Sally Christie: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest


As part of the tour, I have the opportunity to giveaway one copy of The Enemies of Versailles to a reader from the USA or Canada.  Entries can be made via the Rafflecopter form below!  The giveaway will run until March 29th, 2017.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the Tour:

On TLC Book Tours Website

Monday, March 6th: Books Without Any Pictures

Tuesday, March 7th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, March 8th: Reading Reality

Friday, March 10th: Books à la Mode – Spotlight/Feature

Monday, March 13th: Historical-Fiction.com

Tuesday, March 14th: From the TBR Pile – Spotlight/Feature

Wednesday, March 15th: Let Them Read Books

Thursday, March 16th: Scandalous Women

Friday, March 17th: BookNAround

Monday, March 20th: Books ‘n Tea

Monday, March 20th: An Accidental Blog

Tuesday, March 21st: Read Love Blog – Spotlight/Feature

Wednesday, March 22nd: The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 23rd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Monday, March 27th: Must Read Faster

Tuesday, March 28th: Hoser’s Blook

Thursday, March 30th: Dreams, Etc.

Friday, March 31st: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Spotlight/Feature

Monday, April 3rd: A Holland Reads – Spotlight/Feature

Wednesday, April 5th: Becky on Books

Friday, April 7th: A Literary Vacation


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cover Crush: The Baker’s Secret

Cover Crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the baker's secret

This cover evokes what I feel the book is about based on the book description: a baker who makes 2 extra baguettes for the poor/hungry/resistance during WWII from rations that are supposed to go to the occupying force.  There are the 2 signifying baguettes and I love the simplicity of the window and bike. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Bookaholic Swede, A Literary Vacation, 2 Kinds and Tired Books.  

keep calm and support book bloggers

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court