*UPDATE*

I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!


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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Book Alert: American Tumbleweeds by Marta Elva


American Tumbleweeds by Marta Elva
Paperback & e-book, 298 pages
Circling Rivers
Published: May 10, 2016
ISBN: 1939530016
Genre: Historical Fiction
 
Book Blurb:
Set along the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico, American Tumbleweeds tells the bittersweet story of a Mexican-American family’s struggle to stay together as tradition collides with the social upheaval of 1960s America.
Inez’s family threatens to fly apart when her father gets arrested smuggling marijuana into the U.S. Inez finds refuge from the turmoil in the old ways cherished by her beloved Mexican grandmother. But life in El Paso is far more exciting, as the explosion of rock music and new personal freedom shatter traditions on both sides of the border.
American Tumbleweeds captures poignantly the growing pains of a young girl and of all immigrant families whose dual cultural identities lend them both strength and strife. From Amalia, the matriarchal grandmother, to Inez, woman-child of the 1960s, these “American tumbleweeds” portray every family: loving and clinging, wounding each other deeply while comforting each other in the soul-deep ways that only families can reach.
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
 
Praise for American Tumbleweeds:

"With AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS Marta Elva pulls us into the minds of a half-dozen members of a border family in crisis, dramatizing the state of living ni aqui, ni alla—neither here nor there geographically and emotionally. A moving first novel." — John Sayles, film director, author, and MacArthur fellow

"The aptly named AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS depicts the balancing act some bi-cultural families must undertake to live in America. The characters indeed “tumble” back and forth over our southernmost border, forced to live in two worlds at once. This is an experience all Americans should know about." — Sonia Manzano, author of Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx

"AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS is an engrossing, enlightening portrayal of life along the Mexican–American border in the late 1960s. Marta Elva’s sensitive insights draw a straight line to family and societal issues in today’s headlines."   — Annamaria Alfieri, author of the critically-acclaimedStrange Gods

"Marta Elva’s debut novel, AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS, provides an engaging look at the human cost of the turbulent 1960s along the Mexican-American border. Deftly conveyed through the eyes of an innocent and vulnerable fourteen-year-old girl and her family, this well-written saga could just as easily reflect contemporary times. It is insightful, timely, and rich with meaning." ­  — Pam Webber, author of The Wiregrass 

"Marta Elva has written a coming-of-age novel that perfectly captures the feel, fear, fun and uncertainty of the late 1960s.  I was hooked on this delightful story from the very first page. And the characters stayed with me long after the final word."  — Melanie Payne, columnist “Tell Mel,” The News-Press, Ft. Myers, FL

"Marta Elva’s AMERICAN TUMBLEWEEDS is both a moving coming-of-age story and a compelling tale of border intrigue that goes back in time to give a human face to some of the most divisive and hotly debated issues facing contemporary America. Elva shows an uncanny knack for dialogue and plot as in each chapter she moves back and forth among her characters, unrolling the narrative through each individual’s unique point of view." — Michael Winship, senior writer, Moyers & Company, PBS

 
About Marta Elva:
Marta Elva was born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas. Her career as a writer, producer, editor, and camera operator in television and independent film spans over three decades and includes several Emmy-nominated shows, notably PBS WNET New York’s Setting the Stage. She and her husband live on Florida’s Gulf Coast.



 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 2, 2016

Book Review: The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay & Giveaway


The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay
ARC, e-book, 288 pages
Atria Books
April 5, 2016
★★★½☆☆


Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Source: Received for Review for tour with HFVBT
Amidst the strange, silent aftermath of World War II, a widow, a poet, and a doctor search for lasting peace and fresh beginnings in this internationally acclaimed, award-winning novel.
When Anikka Lachlan’s husband, Mac, is killed in a railway accident, she is offered—and accepts—a job at the Railway Institute’s library and searches there for some solace in her unexpectedly new life. But in Thirroul, in 1948, she’s not the only person trying to chase dreams through books. There’s Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, but who has now lost his words and his hope. There’s Frank Draper, trapped by the guilt of those his medical treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle to find their own peace, and their own new story.
But along with the firming of this triangle of friendship and a sense of lives inching towards renewal come other extremities—and misunderstandings. In the end, love and freedom can have unexpected ways of expressing themselves.
The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.
I feel the need to preface this review with the fact that I seem to find myself always in a state of being conflicted to not enjoying literary fiction books. This is something I never seem to know about prior to starting the book, but rapidly figure it out. It was this way with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and it was the same here with The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay.

I was initially intrigued by this novel primarily based on the setting. I have read extremely few novels set in Australia and the idea of this location just following the end of WWII had a lot of promise. As I am very unfamiliar with this locale, I was pleased with how brilliantly Hay is able to bring it to life. The descriptions of the mountains, the sea, the beach and more are just beautifully illuminated and if I closed my eyes I could absolutely picture myself right there with the characters.

The novel focuses on how life changes essentially following loss or grief. For Ani, she has lost her husband; for Roy and Frank, they have lost a sense of themselves after the horrors that they experienced during the war. They are now in this idyllic location and trying to come to terms with what their lives mean and how to go on. I found Ani’s loss hard to connect to for quite some time as I didn’t feel her relationship to Mac was well established prior to his death, but that does develop overtime through various remembrances. Roy and Frank’s loss was easier to connect with because I already had the preconceived ideas of what they had experienced, even though we spend less time with them than with Ani. To this end, I think that Hay reasonably supported the theme. I appreciated seeing how these three people from different life places and having different experiences prior to their grief coped with that loss.

The problem I have typically with literary fiction, and again in The Railwayman’s Wife, is that nothing really happens. Mac’s death, which happens off screen, is at the very beginning of the novel and we really just see Ani coping with that, and she comes off as very wooden. There is one other major event that comes in the last few pages of the book that also felt as a bit of a letdown because nothing had happened throughout the middle 150 pages to build me up for it. I wasn’t emotionally invested in these characters and had no real concern for how their lives panned out. There was one plot point that I was banking on seeing and it was never to be, which was a little disappointing.

Huge props to the author for coming up with the poems features throughout the novel as created by our resident poet, Roy. I have always struggled with poetry, so I’m always in awe of those that can write it.

My opinion is certainly not the only one, so if you find that you tend to enjoy literary novels, I would go ahead and pick up this book. For me, it wasn’t my favorite simply because I like more action in my novels.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Try out this book excerpt to see if this book is for you!

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

 
Also by Ashley Hay:












The Body in the Clouds













The Secret













Gum

 
Find Ashley Hay: Website

Giveaway!

I have the opportunity to give away 1 paperback copy of The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay and it is open to the USA only. Entries are made via the Rafflecopter below. Please review the below rules as put forth by HFVBT:

– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 Follow the Tour!



On Twitter: #TheRailwaymansWifeBlogTour  #AshleyHay
At the HFVBT Website

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Unabridged, 10 hr. 7 min.
Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Morven Christie & Lucy Gaskell (Narrators)
June 6, 2012
★★★★★

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Downloaded from Audible
I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team.
Wow – I’m trying to come down off this high from reading this book, and my thoughts might be a little scattered as I process it all – but I absolutely wanted to share this book with you right now and not scatter it further down my review calendar.

Code Name Verity is a story of friendship, a story of women behind the lines during WWII, and a story of bravery. It’s a historical thriller that will grab you from the opening lines and just carry you all the way to the end; there is truly no lull in the action. From the outset, you know what type of peril is on the line for our narrator – that isn’t a surprise – but everything that led up to the current situation and what occur during and after is intense.

The structure of this novel is told through two narrators, Queenie and Maddie, but it is not told through alternating narration. Queenie leads us through the first half of the novel telling us their backstory and how she came to be a “guest” of the gestapo as she puts forth her confession for them. Interspersed throughout that narrative she tells us about what is happening during her stay with the Nazis, her frustrations, and other little excerpts. The second half of the novel is told by Maddie as she writes in her journal documenting what has happened since the two of them were separated and everything that is being done to bring her home, she also brings an alternative telling to some of the events that Queenie told us about. It really is a fantastic way of telling this story.

This novel also brings a different thread to the greater drama of WWII, beyond the typical story of women on the homefront or men on the front lines. It crosses all of those boundaries and then some.

★★★★★

This was, hands down, one of THE best audio book productions I have EVER listened to! The narrators were both AMAZING! Sure, they had incredible accents, that’s always helpful when those are done well as we all know that terrible accents can destroy a wonderful book, but that is certainly not all. The pacing of their reading was spot-on – every terrifying, exhilarating, and infuriating moment was perfectly portrayed here by these narrators. There was singing and shouting and whispering. Each portrayed one of the young women that this novel revolves around and lived within their skin – they WERE Queenie and Maddie. I could not have asked for more from the production.

I not only recommend this book, but I strongly recommend it in audio book version.

 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
 
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

 
Also by Elizabeth Wein:












Rose Under Fire












Black Dove, White Raven

 
Find Elizabeth Wein: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

 
 

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wish List 5: Female Spies in World War II


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's theme, Female Spies in World War II, was entirely based on my completion of the EXCELLENT novel, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I had an entirely different theme planned for this month, but as I raced through this book and then finished it, I wanted things similar and began my search...at that point it made sense to become this month's wishlist!

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynne Sheene

A stunning debut novel of a young American woman who becomes a spy in Paris during World War II.

May 1940. Fleeing a glamorous Manhattan life built on lies, Claire Harris arrives in Paris with a romantic vision of starting anew. But she didn't anticipate the sight of Nazi soldiers marching under the Arc de Triomphe. Her plans smashed by the German occupation, the once- privileged socialite's only option is to take a job in a flower shop under the tutelage of a sophisticated Parisian florist.

In exchange for false identity papers, Claire agrees to aid the French Resistance. Despite the ever-present danger, she comes to love the enduring beauty of the City of Light, exploring it in the company of Thomas Grey, a mysterious Englishman working with the Resistance. Claire's bravery and intelligence make her a valuable operative, and slowly her values shift as she witnesses the courageous spirit of the Parisians.

But deception and betrayal force her to flee once again-this time to fight for the man she loves and what she knows is right-praying she has the heart and determination to survive long enough to one day see Paris again.
 
The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jennoff

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma's husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city's decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob's Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.

Emma's already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety and her marriage vows in order to help Jacob's cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma's relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

Violin's in Autumn by Amy McAuley

When the Germans begin bombing London in World War II, Betty is determined to do her part. Instead of running air raid drills like most girls her age, she lies about her age and trains to become a spy. Now known by her secret agent persona, Adele Blanchard, she finds herself parachuting over German-occupied France under the cover of darkness to join the secret Resistance movement. Prepared to die for her cause, Adele wasn't expecting to make a new best friend in her fellow agent or fall for a handsome American pilot. With the brutality of war ever present, can Adele dare to dream of a future where the world is at peace and she is free to live and love of her own accord?

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer

Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England, half French, half British, naive yet too clever for her own good. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status - and fluent French - will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause. Trained in sabotage, dead-drops, how to perform under interrogation and how to kill, Marian parachutes into south-west France, her official mission to act as a Resistance courier. But her real destination is Paris, where she must seek out family friend Clement Pelletier, once the focus of her adolescent desires. A nuclear physicist engaged in the race for a new and terrifying weapon, he is of urgent significance to her superiors. As she struggles through the strange, lethal landscape of the Occupation towards this reunion, what completes her training is the understanding that war changes everything, and neither love nor fatherland may be trusted. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is both a gripping adventure story and a moving meditation on patriotism, betrayal and the limits of love.

Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks

From the bestselling author of Birdsong comes Charlotte Gray, the remarkable story of a young Scottish woman who becomes caught up in the effort to liberate Occupied France from the Nazis while pursuing a perilous mission of her own.

In blacked-out, wartime London, Charlotte Gray develops a dangerous passion for a battle-weary RAF pilot, and when he fails to return from a daring flight into France she is determined to find him. In the service of the Resistance, she travels to the village of Lavaurette, dyeing her hair and changing her name to conceal her identity. Here she will come face-to-face with the harrowing truth of what took place during Europe's darkest years, and will confront a terrifying secret that threatens to cast its shadow over the remainder of her days. Vividly rendered, tremendously moving, and with a narrative sweep and power reminiscent of his novel Birdsong, Charlotte Gray confirms Sebastian Faulks as one of the finest novelists working today.



Have you read any of these? Any other novels set in ancient lands you would add to this list?


Looking for some female World War II novels I have read and reviewed?  Give these a try!

The Girl in the Blue Beret            The Nightingale                  Code Name Verity    
★★★★★                             ★★★★★                               ★★★★★ 

Here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month:




Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review: A Scandalous Proposal by Kasey Michaels


A Scandalous Proposal by Kasey Michaels
Book 2 of The Little Season series
ARC, e-Book, 384 pages
Harlequin HQN
March 29, 2016
★★★★☆

Heat Level:





Genre: Historical Romance, Regency

Source: Received for review with TLC Book Tours
The drama of London's Little Season continues in USA Today bestselling author Kasey Michaels's vibrant new series featuring three courageous war heroes surrendering at last to love… 
Who would have thought a man could tire of being fawned over and flirted with? Ever since Cooper Townsend returned from France as a hero with a new title, he has been relentlessly pursued by every marriageable miss in London. Perhaps that's why the unconventional Miss Daniella Foster is so appealing. She doesn't simper or flatter. She only wants him to help unmask her sister's blackmailer, and Coop has never been so intrigued…
Let every other woman in London fight over His Lordship's romantic attentions. Marriage is the last thing on Dany's mind…at least until she samples his illicit kisses. Now, as a mutual enemy races to ruin Coop's reputation and Dany's family name, an engagement of convenience will spark an unlikely passion that might save them both.
A Scandalous Proposal brings the reader back into The Little Season just a few short weeks following the end of An Improper Arrangement, but with a different couple in the crosshairs, this time Cooper Townsend and Daniella (Dany) Foster. While you certainly could read this book as a standalone, having read the first book just gives you a little bit more in the way of character development. Additionally, you get some spoilers from what happened in book 1 during a recap segment – so I recommend reading them in order if possible.

As much as I enjoyed, An Improper Arrangement, I enjoyed A Scandalous Proposal even more. The plot was tightened more here and did not go off on rambling tangents. The intrigue and adventure element, the blackmail, was a uniting storyline that brought all of the characters together on this mission. I appreciated that the four men had a lot bigger role in this novel, but I was hoping to see a little more of Gabriel than we do since he was the main man of the prior novel. It was a lot of fun. While this was one of those stories where the characters are tossed into a relationship from first sight basically, the relationship itself was allowed to grow and I will confess to having a tear in my eye in the final scene as it was so sweet. The one thing that I was a little disappointed by was that this book really used the Little Season as more of a token element; nothing took place that was critical to the Little Season, it was basically just mentioned in passing as the reason by Dany was in town to begin with. As this is the theme of the series, I would have liked a little more importance to the Little Season.

In terms of characters, I liked Dany and Cooper together. They were super cute and were always looking out for each other, while getting in each other’s way. Dany is headstrong and Cooper struggles to handle her; she isn’t willing to just sit by and let him figure out this mystery on his own. As with book 1, I LOVED the bantering between the two of them. My favorite scene is when the two end up in her bedroom to keep an eye out for the blackmailer – such hilarious dialogue and double entendres here.

The romance was a little more sweet, but still passionate. I felt that it evolved from a true heartfelt center for both of the characters. While the scene was a little less descriptive than in A Scandalous Proposal, I felt much more connected to the emotional experience of the characters, which I appreciated.

I am all in for book 3 this summer, A Reckless Promise, focused on Darby Travers!


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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


Also by Kasey Michaels:
Kasey Michaels has over 100 books in her backlist, so I’m not going to post them all here, but here is a selection of her more recent releases!











An Improper Arrangement (Little Season #1)
[My Review]












What an Earl Wants (The Redgraves #1)












What a Lady Needs (The Redgraves #2)












What a Gentleman Desires (The Redgraves #3)












What a Hero Dares (The Redgraves #4)

 
Find Kasey Michaels: Website | Facebook

Follow the Tour!








Monday, April 4th: Romancing the Readers

Tuesday, April 5th: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, April 6th: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, April 7th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, April 11th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, April 12th: Romantic Reads and Such – spotlight

Wednesday, April 13th: Open Book Society

Thursday, April 14th: A Night’s Dream of Books

Friday, April 15th: Let Them Read Books

Monday, April 18th: Romancing the Book

Tuesday, April 19th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Wednesday, April 20th: BookNAround

Thursday, April 21st: From the TBR Pile

Monday, April 25th: Romantic Historical Reviews

Monday, April 25th: Books that Hook

Tuesday, April 26th: Puddletown Reviews

Wednesday, April 27th: The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 28th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Giveaway!

There is a tour wide giveaway for a $25 Victoria's Secret Gift Card - simply make your entries via the Rafflecopter below.  The winner will be selected and notified by the tour coordinator.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Two Sides to Every Story: The Descent of Anne Boleyn and the Ascent of Jane Seymour


Today I have the wonderful opportunity to welcome Hunter S. Jones, author of Phoenix Rising, to The Maiden's Court with an awesome contribution to the Two Sides to Every Story series.  The perspective here is of the rivalry between Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour and it is presented in such a creative manner.  I hope you will enjoy it!

The Descent of Anne Boleyn and the Ascent of Jane Seymour

Anne Boleyn

We walk down the steps from the queen’s apartments. Sir Kingston walks with me and the ladies walk behind us. The morning sun kisses my face. The daffodils are in bloom and the birds sing like any other radiant spring morning. Surely even Nature would know if the hour of death was approaching for an anointed Queen Regnant of England. It must be a sign of hope for me. I will be rescued at the last moment. This is all part of the public humiliation Henry wishes. He wants all to witness as I bow to his greatness, then he will pardon me for sins against the Crown and banish me to a nunnery, much like Cranmer promised.

If not, then I face the morning with courage. If I am to be punished, it is for my own sins. The last few years swiftly pass before my mind’s eye. What had caused the change? Certainly the miscarriage of a son had been a part of Henry’s outrage. But what made him turn against me in such haste? Again, the unseen troubadour’s voice pleads for the love of his lady; his song is as sweet as the one sung by the birds around me, yet as mournful as the questioning of my own heart.

Surely today was not brought on by the fight I had with that silly Jane. Why had I ever allowed her to bother me? She is nothing more than an empty-minded maid. She has no style and knows nothing more than to follow instructions. She must be the instrument of my enemies. She could otherwise never capture the heart of a king. If I would’ve allowed Henry his flirtation, she would be gone and I would remain in good standing.

The air crackles around me and I breathe in slowly, filling myself with a new energy and a prayer. I must balance and maintain a sense of equilibrium. Courage and strength are to uphold me; that is my silent prayer.

They laughed the way lovers laugh. Henry surely hasn’t pledged himself to her, although he has always been much like a crow, in that anything dangled before him that glimmers will capture his eye. My heart breaks at the thought. If he had fallen for a woman of wealth, taste, or great nobility, I could forgive. But Jane?

Bringing myself from the daydream, I see the crowd that awaits us as we move closer to the edge of the White Tower. One way or another, either death or escape await me. I am ready to face whatever God wishes for me. All I pray for is an answer that will serve the greater good of the king, and an end to my pain.

Jane Seymour

“So sorry for waking you, my great and beautiful lady,” she whispers. I hear the trembling of fear in her voice.

“Oh, there is no need to worry yourself, my dear girl. This is the best of days to wake early. Thank you for waking me. I couldn’t be more delighted. Today is the day for which we have longed! You do me a very great favor. I am to be fitted for my wedding dress on this very morning.”

“Thank you, Lady Jane. May I bring you anything from the kitchens?” she asks.

“Not at this time, but would you move the covering from the window? I wish to invite the beauty of this day into our home and into our hearts. This is the day all of England has waited for. Today, a traitor dies and the king will be free to see his will done for the greater good of us all,” I say.

As the window opens, I hear the spring nearby bubble and churn as the water flows freely over the rocks. The sweet spring fragrances and sounds fill the garden and dance into my room, as all of nature joins together much like a sacred chorus to celebrate this most remarkable of days.

That hateful Anne will be given her punishment as a traitor to her king and country at some time this morning. Henry has promised me. How had a king most good and kind ever loved a woman as hateful as Anne Boleyn? She has style and charm, yes. However, her spirit is harsh. There is little of her that is as a lady should be. She is generous to charities, but her wicked ways outweigh any good she might ever do. The sun rises and I feel my new life begin.

“Is there anything else you wish, milady? May I send your ladies to prepare you for the fitting?”

“Oh, yes, please. That would be a lovely gesture,” I reply. No need for me to waste a smile on someone so lowly. She should be honored to serve me.

Whilst I await the ladies, I wonder how someone like Anne ever captured the king’s heart. She is so selfish. She is too wayward. I know we are cousins, yet we are nothing alike. Why did she ever learn to read and write? Those things are of no use to a woman. We are to do as the men of our families wish.

Even in France, she was so different. I learned the art of flirtation just as she did, yet she took matters to the extreme. That has been her problem her entire life; she simply does not know any limitations to her brazen ambitions. She is so relentless in her pursuits. Now fate has led me to today. It is the wish of God and the king. I am to become the wife of the King of England.

How could any woman think to maintain the affections of a man if all she did was meddle and rant about his business? This is an especially tiresome trait when his business is the future of England.



 Deb Hunter writes fiction as Hunter S. Jones, publishing as an indie author, as well as through MadeGlobal Publishing. She is a member of the prestigious Society of Authors founded by Lord Tennyson, Historical Writers’ Association, Historical Novel Society, Society of Civil War Historians (US), English Historical Fiction Authors, Atlanta Writers Club, Atlanta Writers Conference, Romance Writers of America (PAN member), and Rivendell Writers Colony which is associated with The University of the South. Originally from a Chattanooga, Tennessee, she graduated from a private university in Nashville and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband.  You can find Hunter on the following social media sites: Website | Twitter |Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon |Goodreads.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 
Book Blurb:











Phoenix Rising
The last hour of Anne Boleyn's life...
Court intrigue, revenge and all the secrets of the last hour are revealed as one queen falls and another rises to take her place on destiny's stage.
A young Anne Boleyn arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. She is to be presented at the Shrovetide pageant, le Château Vert. The young and ambitious Anne has no idea that a chance encounter before the pageant will lead to her capturing the heart of the king. What begins as a distraction becomes his obsession and leads to her destruction.
Love, hate, loyalty and betrayal come together in a single dramatic moment... the execution of a queen. The history of England will be changed for ever.
 
So, are you Team Anne or Team Jane?!




Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie


The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie
Book 2 in The Mistresses of Versailles Series
ARC, e-book, 448 pages
Atria Books
April 5, 2016
★★★★☆
Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for Review for TLC Book Tour
I write this before her blood is even cold. She is dead, suddenly, from a high fever. The King is inconsolable, but the way is now clear.
The way is now clear. 
The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV's most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite.
Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young Jeanne's destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King's arms. 
All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals - including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters - she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution. 
Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe. History books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King's heart. 
Told in Christie's witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.
The second book in this enthralling series set in the court of Louis XV continues the trip down the path of mistresses left in his wake, however it focuses primarily on his notable mistress the Marquise de Pompadour. As the title suggests, this novel is all about rivalry. Pompadour is the primary mistress during this time, but she faces the daily threat brought on by the “little birds” that flit in and out of Versailles and the king’s bedroom with sometimes alarming speed. Louis had many more mistresses than the three rivals that Pompadour faces here, but these ladies offered the most significant threats to her tenure at Versailles. There is a certain amount of overlapping events referenced here that presented themselves in The Sisters of Versailles, because the sisters were the King’s mistresses while Pompadour was just plain Jeanne and coming into her own. I thought this was an excellent way to tie the two novels together just enough without being overkill.

I found Pompadour to be a sympathetic character in this novel – she is set in the path of the King by her scheming family, deeply cares for him, but finds herself facing endless intrigue in her attempts to not be tossed out when the King’s mood changes. This certainly led to some high drama. I didn’t care for any of his other mistresses; every time they were presented I looked to what Pompadour would do to hang on to her position.

Similar to The Sisters of Versailles, not all the chapters are told by the same person, but a variety of the mistresses – but the format was different here and I didn’t like it quite as much. Roughly the first half of the book is told from the perspective of Pompadour, so when the next chapter suddenly switched perspectives to that of a new incoming mistress, it threw me off because that hadn’t been the case for a significant portion of the novel. Essentially, once the new mistresses begin to become rivals to Pompadour they get their own sections and then during the interlude periods between those rivals it reverts back to Pompadour. While I totally understand the rationale for this, to show the view of Pompadour from the perspective of the rivals, and ultimately appreciated the shifts in perspective, it was very jarring to begin this practice at such a depth into the novel.

Despite being 448 pages I wanted just a little bit more – and that would be at the beginning and the end of the novel. Both of these sections I feel were just a little too short for my liking. I did not feel like I got to know Jeanne enough before she became Pompadour and mistress to the King, which made it slightly more difficult to connect with her in the early pages. Additionally, it very quickly draws to an end following the departure of Mary-Anne (another relative of the Nesle sisters). I wanted just a little more resolution for Pompadour.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Rivals of Versailles; it meets the acclaim that I gave to the first in the series and I look forward to what will come in book 3, The Enemies of Versailles about the Comtesse du Berry


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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Also by Sally Christie:












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












The Enemies of Versailles (Book 3) Coming in 2017


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