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Friday, June 30, 2017

Audiobook Discussions: Trend Analysis

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!

Today I want to talk about the current outlook on audiobooks and what that means to us as listeners.

The Audio Publishers Association released at the beginning of this month the results from their sales and customer surveys and the short note is that audiobooks had a great year in 2016 (remember all this data will be from 2016).  Here were some great takeaway points that I found most interesting:

  • For the third year in a row, audiobooks have shown almost a 20% increase in sales!
  • In 2016, 24% of Americans said they finished listening to at least 1 audiobook, which was up again approximately 20% over the prior year!
  • Almost half of listeners are under age 35
  • The majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%)
  • Libraries remain relevant with this medium – 27% of respondents indicate that they obtain their audiobooks via their library

I think these results are awesome and make a lot of sense.  With the ease of access of smartphones and apps like Overdrive and Audible, the access to audiobooks has become more mainstream.  Pair that with known actors narrating books and the power behind Amazon you have a big market.  I think the item that most surprised me was that the majority of people listen to books at home while doing another task.  For me personally, that is the last place I listen – I listen at work, in the car or while on travel, or at the gym, it is EXTREMELY rare that I will listen at home. 

We have discussed many of these same elements over the past months and it is fascinating to see how these things align.  You can read the full text of the Audio Publishers Association report here.  

Anything that stands out to you?  Do these results seem to represent your tastes is listening?

You can check out the other posts in this series:

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cover Crush: The Things We Cherished

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.


Obviously your eye is drawn right to those two people making out in the street, which definitely connects the reader with the title – these two people cherish each other, hence the PDA.  What it makes me think next is, why?  Why are they doing this is the street – what is going to happen to them or already did happen to them. A simple image is clearly asking me a lot of questions!  That’s a good thing!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

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

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Interview with Gayle Callen & Excerpt

I have the opportunity to introduce you to historical romance author Gayle Callen today.  I have only read a few Highland romances, but this series sounds interesting.

Love with a Scottish Outlaw

Love with a Scottish Outlaw by Gayle Callen
Book 3 of the Highland Weddings series
e-Book and Mass Market Paperback; 384 pages
Avon Books
June 27, 2017
ISBN: 0062469932
Genre: Historical Romance

Heather: Welcome to The Maiden’s Court, Gayle.  I’m happy to have you stop by today. 

Can you tell us a little about your book?

Gayle Callen: I was so excited to write Love With a Scottish Outlaw, mainly because I finally found a story to fit a plot I’d always wanted to write: amnesia. I opened the book with the heroine, Catriona, waking up in the Scottish Highlands, her head bleeding, not knowing who she is. It was such fun to write! The hero Duncan is the chief of an outlawed clan—and he knows exactly who she is, the daughter of his enemy. While Catriona thinks he is being kind enough to house her while she discovers who she is, Duncan is really holding her captive. And of course, the sparks fly!

H:  Oooh that does sound like a fun storyline!

I have a couple questions about the writing process.  Some writers prefer to write from home, others from a coffee shop or similar venue to get away from the distractions of home, what is you favorite writing place?

GC: Even though I’ve written most of my books from a small office on the lower level of my house, my favorite place to write is on my patio. I spent all last summer working outside 4-6 hours every day. My yard is mostly trees, but I have an umbrella to sit beneath when the sun is overhead. I planted begonias and impatiens, which do well in the shade. I put up my feet up, my laptop on a lap desk, and I write, listening to the sound of the bees, the birds, and distant lawn mowers. My neighbor has several bird feeders that spill seeds onto the ground, so sometimes birds, squirrels, bunnies, and chipmunks are all cavorting in the grass together, like my own private show. It’s so peaceful!

H: That sounds like my backyard and I too sometimes like to work on my blog out there when the weather is beautiful.  I love any excuse to get outside even if I’m doing typical indoor activities.

Writers are creatures of habit but each has their own style of how they accomplish their writing.  What are 5 things you must have with you when you write?

GC: Ooh, interesting question. I don’t think I’m superstitious about anything in particular, but there are some constants when I’m writing a book. A laptop is number one—a desktop computer can’t easily be moved, so I’ve used a laptop for years so I can set it aside to research, spread out my index cards, etc. And I want to be able to take it with me, too! Next, I always have ice water in a big insulated mug. I have index cards, because that’s how I keep track of all my scenes. I use a purple pen to write on them. And lastly, markers, because I highlight a corner of each index card to keep track of all my plotlines when I lay the cards out: purple for the heroine’s emotional growth, blue for the hero, pink for the romance plot, then green/orange/red for the various plotlines in the book. Yes, I love to organize and plot things out.

H; I had a similar highlighting style when I was writing research papers for my Masters.  I highlighted each different element of the paper in a different color.  Visually it makes it SO much easier to follow my thoughts because inevitably I was thinking a different way when note taking than when I’m writing.

Have you had the chance to travel anywhere that you write about?  What is your favorite place to visit?

GC: It may sound cliché for a historical romance author, but I love England. I’ve visited three times now, and every time I see a different part of the country, I fall in love all over again. Last time, I visited my daughter who was studying for her semester abroad in London. The two of us rented a car and drove north—on the left side of the road!—all the way to Yorkshire. The countryside changes so much, from thatched roofs and abundant gardens, to bleak moors that roll to the horizon. Incredible!

H: England is on my short Europe bucket list.

Last question: If you had to title your own life what would it be and why?

GC: “Lucky in Love.” I met my husband a year before we started dating, but once we dated, we married within six months. And I knew that first month that I was in love with him. So any time someone uses love at first sight in a romance novel, I think it could be true, because it happened to me. And we’ve been married 35 years, so it can work!

H: That’s wonderful!  Congratulations!  Thanks for stopping by to share with us today!


After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.

Find Gayle Callen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Love with a Scottish Outlaw
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Book Blurb:

Catriona Duff can’t remember who she is. Discovered in the midst of a raging thunderstorm, she has no recollection of how she came to be there or how the guards around her ended up dead. She certainly doesn’t remember that the handsome Highlander who saves her is her family’s sworn enemy. All she does know? She’s starting to fall in love with him.

Duncan Carlyle couldn’t believe his luck when he found Catriona, the daughter of the man who made him an outlaw and forced him from his ancestral home, stranded on the road with nothing to her name--including her memory. Speaking out against Aberfoyle’s evil practices of stealing poor and orphaned children to sell to the highest bidder has cost him everything, but now he has the opportunity to make the man understand the true price of a missing child. But as Duncan begins to know Cat, guilt over his actions wars with his irrepressible desire for her.

When Cat discovers the truth of her identity, she decides she can teach the outlawed clan chief a lesson, but in love, there’s more than one way to win.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google | Itunes | Kobo


I have a great excerpt from this book to share with you today!

Duncan lifted the woman’s upper body into his left arm, cradling her head so that he blocked the rain. He probed near her wound gingerly with his right hand, and she frowned and weakly tried to turn away.

His wariness deepened. There was something about her, a familiarity that echoed inside his head but refused to take shape.

“Where am I?” she whispered, her accent English. “What happened?”

An English lady in the Highlands? He chose to answer the second question rather than the first. “Ye’ve a nasty wound to your head, mistress. Did ye fall?”

She blinked as if she might lose consciousness. “Where am I? What happened?”

Now it was his turn to blink, but he remembered that wounds of the head could cause confusion. He knew he had to stop the blood loss.

“Mistress, can ye stand?”

She opened those eyes again, large and golden, in a delicate face. Her dark hair streamed back from her forehead, her hairline coming to a peak.

He recognized her, a flash of memory from Stirling several years ago, when he’d glared his hatred at the Earl of Aberfoyle, a haughty old man on horseback, forcing aside a poor lass heavy with child to make way for him. The earl’s family was seldom in Scotland, so their arrival in the Highlands had caused a stir. Duncan had seen this woman riding just behind, wearing the fine gown and jaunty hat that marked her a noble lady. At least she’d looked distressed at her father’s actions.

Catriona Duff was the daughter of Aberfoyle, the chief of the Clan Duff and Duncan’s bitter enemy. Aberfoyle was one of the main reasons that Duncan was an outlaw who had to protect and feed his people while on the run.

He lifted his head and looked about, as if the earl and his entire retinue were somewhere nearby, waiting to attack him. “Where are your men?” he demanded.

“What happened?” she asked weakly.

“Ye’ve hit your head. Where are your men?”


Her hand fluttered toward her forehead, but he didn’t allow her to touch the wound.

A spasm of pain narrowed her eyes. “I found them . . . dead,” she whispered. “What happened to me?”

“I don’t know.” Six weeks after almost being captured, he was still wary of anything unusual in his part of the Highlands. Dead men would prove her story true, but he couldn’t deal with them now.

“I—I can’t remember—I can’t remember anything!” Though her cry was feeble, it was full of helplessness and fear.

“Ye don’t remember the accident?”

“Not . . . the accident, not even . . . my name.”

He frowned down at her, wondering at what intrigue she was playing—or what her father had set in motion. He wouldn’t put it past the bastard.

She clutched his plaid. “What happened to me?” she cried in despair.

“I do not ken. I must clean that wound. Can ye stand? I can pull ye up on my horse.”

He rose, lifting her up with him until she could clutch the saddle for support. After mounting, he reached down for her. He would have preferred she ride astride behind him, but she seemed so weak that he ended up cradling her across his thighs. She leaned into him, her head lolling onto his chest, her blood staining his black, red, and yellow plaid.

It didn’t take long to reach the rocky overhang he’d used for shelter several other times. Once out of the rain, he searched his saddle pack but found nothing that would do for a clean bandage. He ended up cutting several strips from the end of his shirt with his dirk. The wound seemed clean enough after all the rain, so he wrapped the improvised bandages around her head and hoped they stopped the bleeding.

She looked at him helplessly the whole time, and he felt like she was memorizing his features. He studied her, too. Her high cheekbones emphasized the hollows beneath, and her full lips hinted at an expressive mouth. Her pale face was as remote and beautiful as a statue, making her appeal to him on a primitive level that he would never acknowledge.

Why was she in the remote Highlands? According to gossip he’d heard long ago, she rarely visited her father’s castles. Was she the advance of a larger party headed right for Duncan’s unsuspecting people? She was so close to his hidden encampment. If he let her go, she could bring men to hunt the area, risking his people—risking the good he was trying to do. He couldn’t release her until he knew all the facts.


Avon is hosting a tour-wide giveaway for two winners to receive print copies of The Wrong Bride and The Groom Wore Plaid, Books 1 & 2 in the Highland Wedding Series (US Only).  You can enter via the Rafflecopter link below or at any of the participating blogs.  If you have any questions please contact the tour coordinator as I am not involved in the giveaway portion.  Good luck to all!

Follow the Tour!


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Interview with Sophie Barnes & Excerpt

Today I have the opportunity to introduce you to author Sophie Barnes with a short interview to celebrate her newest release, A Most Unlikely Duke, being released today.

A Most Unlikely Duke by Sophie Barnes
Book 1 of Diamonds in the Rough series
e-Book and Mass Market Paperback; 384 Pages
Avon Books
ISBN: 0062566784
June 27, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance

Heather: Hi Sophie!  Welcome to The Maiden’s Court!  To start off, can you tell us a little about your book?

Sophie Barnes: It’s a fresh spin on Pygmalion featuring a bare-knuckler boxer from the slums of St. Giles who suddenly becomes the Duke of Huntley. Navigating high society can be troublesome – especially with two younger sisters in tow – but thanks to his next door neighbor, the alluring Gabriella Radcliffe, he comes up to scratch while losing his heart in the process.

H: Oh I don’t know the story of Pygmalion although I am familiar with the name.  I do think that sounds like an interesting premise.

I would love to know a little about your writing style.  What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?

SB: Definitely dialogue. When the characters are interesting and there’s a bit of tension, the dialogue pushes the story forward in a fun and interesting way. Describing what people are doing sometimes gets me while love scenes are the hardest.

H: I can imagine if I were a writer I would feel similarly.  Dialogue you can pull from what you hear and say, while with description you have to find just the right way to phrase it.  And I think there is a fine line that you must walk when writing a love scene to strike the right balance.

What are 5 things you must have with you when you write?

SB: My laptop, a notebook, my Jane Austen Map of London, various pens in different colors and a hot cup of coffee.

H: Oooh, a Jane Austen Map of London!  That sounds interesting!

You have published a few novels now,  I would love to know if  you have any post-publishing regrets or would do anything differently in the future?

SB: Yes! In my first book, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back, Tchaikovsky is mentioned as a current figure. I meant to change him to a different composer since he wasn’t even born at the time when the plot takes place, but I forgot. Really wish I’d seen that during edits. I haven’t used ‘fillers’ since.

H: Oh, no!  I’m sure that must eat at you, I know it would drive me crazy!

Can you tell us anything about what you might have upcoming?

SB: The sequel to A Most Unlikely Duke is called The Duke Of Her Desire. It releases December 27th and features Raphe’s sister, Amelia, as she struggles to renovate a house on the edge of St. Giles and turn it into a school. Contending with her brother’s friend, the Duke of Coventry who’s been charged with protecting her, leads to a lot of quarreling, tension and high passion.

H: Sounds interesting!  I can’t wait to see it. 

Sophie Barnes picture

Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she's been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.

Find Sophie Barnes: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Book Blurb:

He never thought he’d become a duke, or that the secrets of his past will cost him his greatest love...

Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortunes lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…

After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelope them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes &  Noble | Google | Itunes


Check out this excerpt I have to share with you all today!

It was past eleven o’clock in the evening by the time Raphe returned home, his knuckles tender and his body still sore from the fight. Glad to get out of the cold, he closed the door on the rain that now poured from a thunderous sky, shrugged out of his coat and hung it on a hook behind the door just as his sister Amelia entered from an adjoining room that served as a small parlor.

“Good evenin’.” She yawned, leaning against the door frame. Squinting through the darkness, Raphe echoed her salutation. “I thought ye would be asleep by now.”

Stepping past her, he entered their tiny kitchen and snatched up the tinder box.

“I was,” Amelia said, following him into the chilly room. A threadbare shawl was draped across her shoulders, and as she pulled it tighter with pale and trembling fingers, Raphe felt his heart lurch. This wasn’t right. His sister did not deserve to live like this. None of them did. Pushing aside such fruitless ponderings, he found a candle, struck a flint and held it to the wick until a flame began to bloom, driving the darkness toward the walls where it struggled against the light.

“If it makes any difference, Juliette’s safely tucked into bed.” Amelia said, referring to their younger sister, whose weaker disposition was a constant cause for unease. When Raphe lifted the lid of a nearby pot and peered inside, Amelia added, “I made soup for dinner.”

“Smells delicious,” he dutifully told her.

“We both know ‘ow untrue that is, bu’ I appreciate yer optimism.”

Meeting her gaze, Raphe made a deliberate effort to smile. “Per’aps I can manage some meat for us tomorrow.” It would certainly be a welcome change from the potatoes and turnips they’d been eating for what seemed like forever. Christ, he was so tired of having a sore belly all the time, and his sisters . . . they never complained, but he knew they needed better nourishment than what they were getting.

“That’d be nice,” Amelia said. Her tone, however, suggested that she doubted his ability to manage such a feat. Bothered by her lack of faith in him, he grabbed a chunk of bread and tore off a large piece. “A chicken ought to be possible. If we make it last a few days.”

Amelia simply nodded. Grabbing a cup, she filled it with water and placed it before him. “I miss the smell of a bustlin’ kitchen.”

The comment threw him for a second. “Wha’?”

“Meat roastin’ on the fire, bread bakin’ in the oven.” She shook her head wistfully. “It’s funny. I

can’t picture Mama, but I remember Cook—plump cheeks an’ a kind smile. I remember bein’ ‘appy in the kitchen back ‘ome.”

The sentimental thought made Raphe weary. He didn’t bother to point out that she’d only been seven when they’d lost their parents and there’d been nothing left for Raphe to do but turn his back on the house in which they’d spent the early years of their childhoods and walk away, taking his siblings with him. He’d been no more than eight years old and with a mighty burden weighing on his shoulders. “I know this isn’t the sor’ of life that any of us ever imagined.”

Feeling his temper begin to rise at the memory of what their parents had done to them all, he added, “Hopefully, in time, things’ll get better.”

“I’m sure ye’re right.” Could she possibly sound any more unconvinced?

He ate a spoonful of soup, the bland flavor just a touch better than plain hot water. Amelia took a step forward. “The reason I didn’t retire with Juliette earlier is ’cause of this letter.” She waved a piece of paper in his direction. “It arrived for ye today while ye were out.”

Frowning, Raphe stared at her. “Do ye know who sent it?” He couldn’t even recall the last time he’d received a letter. Nobody ever wrote to him or his sisters.

“The sender’s name’s smudged. So’s the address. It’s a miracle it arrived here at all.” Handing the letter to Raphe, she watched as he turned it over and studied the penmanship. Sure enough, the only legible part of the address, which even appeared to have been altered once or twice, was his name: Mister Raphael Matthews.

Tour Wide Giveaway

The publisher, Avon Books, is hosting a tour wide giveaway for a print copy of A Most Unlikely Duke (open to US only).  You may enter via the Rafflecopter below or at any of the participating blogs on the tour.  If you have any questions about the giveaway, please contact the tour coordinator as I have no role in it.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Tour


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Monday, June 26, 2017

DNF Discussions: The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons

the summer garden
The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons
Book 3 in The Bronze Horseman series
e-Book and Paperback; 752 pages
William Morrow Paperbacks
June 21, 2011
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from William Morrow for review

Book Blurb:

Through years of war and devastation, Tatiana and Alexander suffered the worst the twentieth century had to offer. Miraculously reunited in America, they now have a beautiful son, Anthony, the gift of a love strong enough to survive the most terrible upheavals. Though they are still young, the ordeals they endured have changed them--and after living apart in a world laid waste, they must now find a way to live together in postwar America.

With the Cold War rising, dark forces at work in their adopted country threaten their lives, their family, and their hard-won peace. To regain the happiness they once knew, to wash away the lingering pain of the past, two lovers grown distant must somehow forge a new life . . .or watch the ghosts of their yesterdays destroy their firstborn son.

The Summer Garden . . . their odyssey is just beginning.

Oh how I wanted to love this story!  I really, really did!  And I gave it such a valiant effort – I’ve been attempting to go back and finish this book four times since I started it in 2014 and I’ve only made it 33% of the way through, which in a book of this length is about 250 pages.  I LOVED the first two books, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander (my reviews are linked).  However, The Summer Garden just didn’t do the same for me.  This book felt SLLLLOOOOWWWW….  Where the other two books zipped along and had a lot of action (both of the battlefield and romance variety), The Summer Garden just plods nowhere.  Alexander is simply brooding and inside himself, Tatiana keeps worrying about him, and at least as far as I made it, nothing else happens.  It is BORING.  I understand that the author is attempting to deal with all the psychological drama that they encountered during the events of the first two books, but I just couldn’t become interested in these characters that I had loved in the first two novels.  While I want to know what the end result is for these two, I can’t push myself through another 500 pages of what I read so far.

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cover Crush: The Time Between

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 time between

I read this book awhile back, but I do still love this cover.  It’s a very sweet image: a young woman at the edge of the ocean looking out at its great expanse.  It doesn’t give you many clues to go on as to what the book will be about, which is ok.  I feel like I have been this girl before and that’s what draws me in.  It’s very simple, serene, and quietly beautiful.

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; 2 Kids and Tired Books; A Literary Vacation; Of Quills and Vellum; Layered Pages.   

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wishlist 5: Alternate History Novels


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!!!  I have never read an alternate history novel, but I have been intrigued by them for awhile.  I think it would be cool to explore certain historical possibilities, but at the same time (at least for me) the author needs to walk a fine line of believability in order for me to want to buy into it.  Here are a few that have piqued by interest.

Lincoln’s Bodyguard by T.J. Turner

lincoln's bodyguardIn "Lincoln s Bodyguard," an alternative version of American history, President Lincoln is saved from assassination. Though he prophesied his own death the only way he believed the South would truly surrender Lincoln never accounted for the heroics of his bodyguard, Joseph Foster. A biracial mix of white and Miami Indian, Joseph makes an enemy of the South by killing John Wilkes Booth and preventing the death of the president. His wife is murdered and his daughter kidnapped, sending Joseph on a revenge-fueled rampage to recover his daughter. When his search fails, he disappears as the nation falls into a simmering insurgency instead of an end to the War. Years later, Joseph is still running from his past when he receives a letter from Lincoln pleading for help. The President has a secret mission. Pursued from the outset, Joseph turns to the only person who might help, the woman he abandoned years earlier. If he can win Molly over, he might just fulfill the President s urgent request, find his daughter, and maybe even hasten the end of the War."

11/23/63 by Stephen King

112363Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

Dominion by C.J. Sansom

dominionThe Great Smog. London. A dense, choking fog engulfs the city and beneath it, history is re-written . . .

1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House. Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill's Resistance organization is increasingly a thorn in the government's side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle for ever.

Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London's Great Smog; as David's wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined. And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . .

At once a vivid, haunting reimagining of 1950s Britain, a gripping, humane spy thriller and a poignant love story, with Dominion C. J. Sansom once again asserts himself as the master of the historical novel.

1812: The Rivers of War by Eric Flint

1812Eric Flint's acclaimed 1634: The Galileo Affair was a national bestseller from one of the most talked-about voices in his field. Now, in this extraordinary new alternate history, Flint begins a dramatic saga of the North American continent at a dire turning point, forging its identity and its future in the face of revolt from within, and attack from without.

In the War of 1812, U.S. troops are battling the British on the Canadian border, even as a fierce fight is being waged against the Creek followers of the Indian leader Tecumseh and his brother, known as The Prophet. In Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte's war has become a losing proposition, and the British are only months away from unleashing a frightening assault on Washington itself. Fateful choices are being made in the corridors of power and on the American frontier. As Andrew Jackson, backed by Cherokee warriors, leads a fierce attack on the Creek tribes, his young republic will soon need every citizen soldier it can find.

What if-at this critical moment-bonds were forged between men of different races and tribes? What if the Cherokee clans were able to muster an integrated front, and the U.S. government faced a united Indian nation bolstered by escaping slaves, freed men of color, and even influential white allies?

Through the remarkable adventures of men who were really there-men of mixed race, mixed emotions, and a singular purpose-The Rivers of War carries us in this new direction, brilliantly transforming an extraordinary chapter of American history.

With a cast of unforgettable characters-from James Monroe and James Madison to Sam Houston, Francis Scott Key, and Cherokee chiefs John Ross and Major Ridge-The Rivers of War travels from the battle of Horseshoe Bend to the battle of New Orleans, and brings every explosive moment to life. With exquisite attention to detail, an extraordinary grasp of history, and a storyteller's gift for the dramatic, Flint delivers a bold, thought-provoking epic of enemies and allies, traitors and revolutionaries, and illuminates who we are as a nation, how we got here, and how history itself is made-and remade.

The Virgin’s Daughter by Laura Andersen

the virgins daughterSince the death of her brother, William, Elizabeth I has ruled England. She’s made the necessary alliances, married Philip of Spain, and produced a successor: her only daughter, Anne Isabella, Princess of Wales. Elizabeth knows that her beloved Anabel will be a political pawn across Europe unless she can convince Philip to grant her a divorce, freeing him to remarry and give Spain its own heir. But the enemies of England have even greater plans for the princess, a plot that will put Anabel’s very life and the security of the nation in peril. Only those closest to Elizabeth—her longtime confidante Minuette, her advisor and friend Dominic, and the couple’s grown children—can be trusted to carry forth a most delicate and dangerous mission. Yet, all of the queen’s maneuverings may ultimately prove her undoing.

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 be updated as they go live)

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, June 19, 2017

Let’s Celebrate Audiobooks in June & Giveaway


For those of you that might not know, June is audiobook month.  I’ve been talking a lot about audiobooks this year with both my reviews and Audiobook Discussions series, so I had to take part in this event to continue to share the audiobook love. 

For this tour, I was asked to share 5 audiobooks that I think would be great for a new listener or to introduce someone to the world of audiobooks.  I will link to reviews below, where applicable.  One of the things that I think all these audiobooks share is a compelling narrative that pulls you along and an excellent narrator that makes an already compelling story even more engaging and entertaining with the way they present it.  These are not presented in any particular order.

A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt pulls you along with a compelling mystery and Carly Robbins imbues the main character with a personality that the reader can immediately connect to.  HIGHLY recommend this book and can’t wait for the next in the series.

The SecretLifeofAnnaBlanc audiocover art Final_thumb[1]
Click on Picture to Play Audio Sample

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe is another top notch historical mystery that I have recently enjoyed.  I am quite sure this is the BEST audio production I have listened to and Moira Quirk is among my top rated narrators.  Her characters are individualized to such an extent that you can picture their mannerisms!  Another that I am eagerly awaiting the second book and will certainly await the audio release.

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne is my pick for best of my non-fiction listens.  Not only was the book stellar in its ability to bring me to tears about a historical figure from the Confederacy, which I considered a major feat, but the narration was strong.  Non-fiction can be hard to narrate based on the material being more fact based rather than plot based, but you could feel the passion behind Cotter Smith’s words as he read the material and he brought it to vivid life.

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond brought me to tears.  I don’t honestly cry much while reading, but I have found that an on-point narration can imbue a story with so much more passion than just my own reading of a book that I find myself tearing up more when listening to a book.  A powerful book about love and relationships set in the treacherous world of Antarctica as narrated by the fabulous Cassandra Campbell cannot be recommended highly enough! 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is a memoir, which is not my usual genre.  This was a book read for reasons very close to my heart, due to the loss of my mother last year and how the author chose this quest because of the same event in her life.  I laughed, I cried, and then laughed again throughout this moving and honest tale of her life.  Bernadette Dunne did a fabulous job with the material – this is actually the first memoir that I have read that was not narrated by the author, so that makes it interesting to me.  She made it feel like her own story.

I would encourage you to pick up any of these books and provided you enjoy the genre, you will not be disappointed in your experience.  And to help you take advantage of any of these books, I have an awesome giveaway courtesy of the Audiobook Publishers Association.  I have a set of earbuds and a card with codes for 3 free audiobook downloads from Audiobooks.com!  How awesome is that!  This giveaway rules are simple: entries are made via the Rafflecopter below and you must be a US resident (as I will be mailing this out).  I can’t wait to see what you choose to listen to!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to check out the other stops on this tour this month to check out all the AWESOME audiobooks out there!  I’m sure you will find something to fall in love with!

June 1 – Lost in Literature

June 2 – AudioGals

June 3 – Book Riot

June 4 – Collector of Book Boyfriends

June 5 –The Book Nympho

June 6 – BJ’s Reviews

June 7 – Everyday I Write the Book Blog

June 8 – Book of Secrets

June 9 – AudioGals

June 10 – Elsie’s Audiobook Digest

June 11 – Great Kid Books

June 12 – Adolescent Audio Adventures

June 13 – To Read or Not To Read

June 14 – Caffeinated Book Reviewer

June 15 – Beth Fish Reads

June 16  – AudioGals

June 17 – The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh

June 18 – The Book’s The Thing

June 19 – The Maiden’s CourtHERE!

June 20 – I Am Indeed

June 21 – Shelf Addiction

June 22 – Under My Apple Tree

June 23 – AudioGals

June 24 – Books Movies Reviews Oh My

June 25 – Mumfection

June 26 – For the Love of Words

June 27 – A Bookworm’s World

June 28 – Literate Housewife

June 29 – Hot Listens

June 30 – Under the Boardwalk

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cover Crush: The Violets of March

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.

violets of march

I’m throwing back a little bit with this one – not a release from this year, but I really like this one.  I love how the background is a little faded/misty and the focus is simple – flower, book, chair.  Simple and pretty and a little bit mysterious.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (To be updated as they go live).

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, June 12, 2017

New Book Alert: Highland Hellion by Mary Wine–Excerpt and Giveaway


Highland Hellion by Mary Wine
Book 3 of the Highland Weddings series
e-Book & Mass Market Paperback; 320 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1492602507
June 6, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
goodreads button

Book Blurb:


  • Illegitimate daughter of an English earl
  • Abducted to Scotland at age 14
  • No family, no reputation...
  • No rules


  • Heir to an honorable Highland laird
  • Can’t believe how well tomboy Kate can fight
  • About to learn how much of a woman she really is

Scotland is seething with plots, the vengeful Gordons are spoiling for a fight, and the neighboring clans are at each other’s throats. All it takes is a passionate hellion with a penchant for reckless adventure to ignite the Highlands once more.

Buy the Book:  Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters | iBooks | Indiebound 

Highland Hellion graphic

Check out this awesome EXCERPT from Highland Hellion!!

“What do ye mean by that?” Helen Grant demanded.

Marcus eyed his wife, crossing his arms over his chest and facing her down, as was his fashion. Helen’s eyes narrowed. “Ye heard me clearly, Wife.”

Helen scoffed and settled her newest babe into its cradle before she turned on him while pulling the laces on her dress tight. “What I heard was that ye seem to think what a woman does with her day is easier to learn than a man’s lot.”

Marcus frowned. “Do nae go twisting me words.”

“I should have had charge of her years ago if ye wanted her trained properly in the running of a house,” Helen continued. “Ye are the one who allowed her to be a lad.”

“And for good reason,” Marcus answered back. “She’s English. Ye know how often ye have heard curses against her kin, and I assure ye, I have heard three times as much because the men do tend to mind their tongues around the women in the hall.”

Helen had finished closing her dress and settled her hands on her hips. “As I said, I do nae know what ye expect me to do with her now that ye’ve let her run wild for the past six years. She’s twenty now.”

“I know.” Marcus’s control slipped, allowing his exasperation to bleed through into his tone. “She’s a woman, and yet she was intent on riding out with us last evening.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Helen replied. “Why is it a concern now?”

Marcus’s jaw tightened, and his wife read his expression like a book. There was no point in trying to keep the matter to himself. He let out a soft word of Gaelic.

“We went out and lifted some of the Gordons’ cattle.”

His wife stiffened. The Gordons hated the MacPhersons and would spill blood if they could. Old Laird Colum Gordon wanted vengeance for the death of his son, Lye Rob, and the old man didn’t seem to care that Bhaic MacPherson had killed Lye Rob with good reason. Lye Rob had stolen Bhaic’s new wife, Ailis, and no Highlander worth his name was going to let a man get away with that. Nothing seemed to matter to the old laird of the Gordons except vengeance.

Marcus knew he was playing with fire by going anywhere near Gordon land. Needling the local clans was one matter; going onto Gordon land was another altogether because it might get him killed. His wife was going to tear a strip off his back for chancing it.

“Damn ye, Marcus,” Helen berated him. “So, ye are still acting like a child?” She pointed at their son. “And what will become of the children I bear ye if ye get yer throat slit?”

Marcus only lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Ye know it will nae come to that. The Grants took some of ours last month. It’s just a bit of fun.”

Helen made a soft sound. “With the Gordons, it is very different. Which is why ye do nae want Katherine along. Do nae think to pull the wool over me eyes.”

Marcus opened his arms in exasperation. “Aye!” He snorted. “There, I’ve agreed with ye. And ye would have a place if I were to pay for me choices in blood, so do nae insult me by asking such a question. Now tell me ye will take her in hand.” He made a motion with his hand. “And teach her…what a woman should be doing with her time.”

Helen wasn’t pleased, and as she looked at her baby, worry creases appeared at the corners of her eyes.

“I love ye, Helen, but ye know full well what manner of man I am.” He pulled her close, wrapping her in his embrace. She settled for just a moment, inhaling the scent of his skin before she pushed against his chest and he released her.

“Aye, well,” Helen said softly. “At twenty years of age, Katherine has decided what sort of woman she is as well. Something ye have allowed. Now ye expect me to be the one to destroy her world?”

Marcus’s expression tightened as he crossed his arms over his chest. “I’ll have words with her.”

Mary Wine & Blue Bird (close)

About Mary Wine

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.

Find Mary Wine: Website | Facebook | Goodreads


As part of this tour, Sourcebooks has an excellent tour-wide giveaway for two bundles of the 3 books in the Highland Weddings series, which includes: Highland Spitfire, Highland Vixen, and Highland Hellion.  Entries can be made through the Rafflecopter below or on any of the tour hosting blogs.  Please note, any questions should be directed to the publicist as I do not have any input in this giveaway.  Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, June 9, 2017

Audiobook Discussions: 2017 Audie Award Winners

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!

A couple posts back in this series I told you about the Audie Awards, which are prestigious awards for the audiobook community.  Well, the 2017 winners were announced and I just wanted to share the winner list with you all and make a couple comments at the end.

Audiobook of the Year: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, narrated by Mariska Hargitay with the authors, published by Hachette Audio

Audio Drama: In the Embers by Brian Price and Jerry Stearns, narrated by Robin Miles, Edwin Strout, Dean Johnson, et al; music by Mike Wheaton, published by Great Northern Audio Theatre/Blackstone Audio

Autobiography/Memoir: The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham, narrated by Dion Graham, published by Graymalkin Media

Best Female Narrator: Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson, narrated by Tavia Gilbert, published by HarperAudio

Best Male Narrator: Jerusalem by Alan Moore, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Recorded Books

Business/Personal Development: Humans Need Not Apply by Jerry Kaplan, narrated by John Pruden, published by Tantor Media, a division of Recorded Books

Erotica: Marriage Games by CD Reiss, narrated by Sebastian York and Elena Wolfe, published by Flip City Media Inc.

Excellence in Design: Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, design by Jessica Daigle, published by
HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Excellence in Marketing: Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard, narrated by Josh Clark, Scott
Menville, Jim Meskimen, Phil Proctor, Stefan Rudnicki, Fred Tatasciore and a full cast, published by
Galaxy Audio

Excellence in Production:  Alien: Out of the Shadows: An Audible Original Drama by Tim Lebbon and Dirk Maggs, narrated by
Rutger Hauer, Corey Johnson, Matthew Lewis, Kathryn Drysdale, Laurel Lefkow, Andrea Deck, and
Mac McDonald, published by Audible Studios

Fantasy: The Hike by Drew Magary, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Publishing

Fiction: Sister of Mine by Sabra Waldfogel, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by Brilliance Publishing

History/Biography: In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton, narrated by Mark Boyett, published by Audible Studios

Humor: I’m Judging You written and narrated by Luvvie Ajayi, published by Macmillan Audio

Inspirational/Faith Based Fiction: Risen: The Novelization of the Major Motion Picture by Angela Hunt, narrated by P.J. Ochlan and Alana Kerr Collins, published by christianaudio, a division of Recorded Books

Inspirational/Faith Based Non Fiction: The Awakening of HK Derryberry by Jim Bradford and Andy Hardin, narrated by Milton Bagby, published by Thomas Nelson

Literary Fiction & Classics: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, narrated by Dominic Hoffman, published by Penguin Random House Audio / Books on Tape

Middle Grade: How to Train Your Dragon: How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell, narrated by David Tennant, published by Hachette Audio

Multi-Voiced Performance: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, narrated by Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell, and Ari Fliakos, published by Penguin Random House Audio / Books on Tape

Mystery: The Crossing by Michael Connelly, narrated by Titus Welliver, published by Hachette Audio

Narration by Author/Authors: A Life in Parts written and narrated by Bryan Cranston, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Nonfiction: Hillbilly Elegy written and narrated by J.D. Vance, published by HarperAudio

Original Work: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi, narrated by Zachary Quinto, published by Audible Studios

Paranormal: Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella, narrated by Nicol Zanzarella, published by Brilliance Publishing

Romance: Dirty by Kylie Scott, narrated by Andi Arndt, published by Macmillan Audio

Science Fiction: Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster, narrated by Marc Thompson, published by Penguin Random House Audio / Books on Tape

Short Story Collection: The Brink: Stories by Austin Bunn, narrated by Austin Bunn, Luke Daniels, Tanya Eby, Ralph Lister, Amy McFadden, Mikael Naramore, and Nick Podehl, published by Blunder Woman Productions via ACX

Thriller/Suspense: Cross Justice by James Patterson, narrated by Ruben Santiago Hudson and Jefferson Mays, published by Hachette Audio

Young Adult: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, narrated by Jorjeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, and Michael Crouch, published by Listening Library

Young Listeners: 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr., narrated by Dion Graham, William Jackson Harper, Zainab Jah, January LaVoy, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Jonathan Earl Peck, and Carter Woodson Redwood, published by Live Oak Media

You can read more about the Audies here.

I’m not surprised that Hamilton took Audiobook of the Year, it is running away in all kinds of award categories.  Most of these books I haven’t heard of, which really surprised me!  I was happy to see In Harm’s Way won an award because I was recently looking at picking this book up, so I probably will with my next credits. 

Have you read any of these or do their awards make you want to pick any of these up?

You can check out the other posts in this series:

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court