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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cover Crush: These Shallow Graves

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.

these shallow graves

This is a cool looking cover!  I love the whole concept.  The color of the flowers against he dull wood and the way they are wrapped around it all makes it sort of spooky or creepy.  Never mind the hand at the top – is it digging up the grave or coming out of the grave?!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: To update after going live.

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Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Review: The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander

the lady travlers guide

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen
by Victoria Alexander
Book 1 in The Lady Travelers Society series
ARC, e-Book, 544 pages
HQN Books
May 23, 2017
★★★★ ½☆
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Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Requested a review copy via Netgalley

Embark on the breathtaking romantic adventures of The Lady Travelers Society in the brand-new series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander

Really, it's too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders's favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what's a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he's escorting the world’s most maddening woman to the world’s most romantic city to find her missing relative.

While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she’s certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart.

I can certainly tell you that I did not see this missing person case transpiring and resolving in the way that it did! Curveball to the extreme, but in a really good and unexpected way that I enjoyed immensely! The missing cousin storyline is heavily featured throughout the entire thread of the novel and is not lost at all in the romance storyline, the two elements play together nicely and in this story I don’t think that one could thrive well without the other.

If I had to pick one thing that brought the rating of this book down a little in my opinion it was the early characterization of India Prendergast. She is quite a pain-in-the-neck and unapproachable, not someone I could see myself being friends with at all. While she does grow on you and her transformation is believable, I found her difficult to really get to like through much of the novel. Derek Saunders on the other hand, who is certainly a rouge, has nothing but admirable qualities, from the perspective of the reader, even if India can’t see that until toward the very end.

While this is certainly a lengthy novel, it didn’t feel that way at all as the story kept moving forward and the missing person’s case picked up steam. This novel is certainly a strong stand-alone, and while I haven’t read the other books in the series I think that will define the series, just based on how it appears framed. I look forward to checking out others in this series. 

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Victoria Alexander:

The Proper Way to Stop a Wedding in Seven Days or Less
(Lady Travelers .5)

rise and fall
The Rise and Fall of Reginald Everheart
(Lady Travelers 1.5)

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger
(Lady Travelers 2)

The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception with an Unlikely Earl
(Lady Travelers 3)

Find Victoria Alexander:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New Book Alert: The Lord of Fortune by Darcy Burke

lord of fortune

Lord of Fortune by Darcy Burke
Book 3 in the Legendary Rogues series
e-Book & Paperback; 366 pages
Intrepid Reads
April 24, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

Dashing adventurer Penn Bowen is dedicated to preserving Britain’s history and his carefree, bachelor lifestyle. He’s happiest when he’s in pursuit of knowledge and the occasional liaison with the right woman. So he’s more than a little perturbed when the wrong woman inserts herself into his latest quest—proving that a valuable artifact in Oxford’s museum is a fake. Amelia Gardiner is smart and capable...and determined to prove that Penn is wrong about the treasure her grandfather found.

Amelia won’t allow Penn to denigrate her family’s legacy, and she certainly won’t join the ranks of women who throw themselves at his feet. As secretive and dangerous factions infiltrate their hunt, Amelia and Penn must work together to stay one step ahead. But passion ignites between them and suddenly their alliance is more than a simple convenience. When peril strikes too close, they’ll risk everything they hold dear: family, honor, and a chance for the greatest treasure of all—love.


Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

 Darcy Burke

About the Author: Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.

Find Darcy Burke: Facebook | Twitter | BookBub | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Website


Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner


As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
ARC, e-Book, 387 pages
Berkley Books
February 6, 2018
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received the book via Netgalley request

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

What an interesting read! There are so many angles to this story, areas that are not frequently explored in fiction, that this story felt fresh and new throughout. There aren’t many novels that deal with the Spanish Flu, even when they are telling the stories of WWI, but Susan Meissner handled the effects of the Flu on Philadelphia masterfully and wove it into several critical story plot twists that have lasting implications for the Bright family. The full effects of the Flu are explored from the symptoms, how it seemed to come about, how many people were dying, and how it really contributed to the rise of the funeral home business. It’s always interesting to me to see how major events affect areas that you wouldn’t even consider, like funeral homes. And speaking of the funeral homes, we get an inside look in how they would have operated and what was needed to be done to preserve bodies.

The only part of the novel that was a bit of a struggle for me was the beginning; it felt very slow and I put it down/picked it up several times. I think part of the issue for me was the multiple narrators and I couldn’t connect with anyone right away. Once the story got rolling and they were in Philadelphia and each was their own distinct person, it was much easier to enjoy and I raced through those pages. I understand the importance of those early scenes, but they didn’t do anything for me in terms of getting me into the story. Each of the Bright women and girls have their own unique set of struggles with the move to Philadelphia and the effect of the Flu and the subsequent directions their lives take and I enjoyed exploring their storylines. The twists and turns of this story I did not see coming and feel that they paid out well for the reader.

I would definitely read more works by this author as I loved the depth that the author was able to bring to both the characters and the events of the time explored.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Susan Meissner:

secrets of a charmed life
Secrets of a Charmed Life

a fall of marigolds
A Fall of Marigolds

the shape of mercy
The Shape of Mercy

a bridge across the oceas
A Bridge Across the Ocean

stars over sunset boulevard
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

the girl in the glass
The Girl in the Glass

lady in waiting
Lady in Waiting

a sound among the trees
A Sound Among the Trees

Find Susan Meissner:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cover Crush: Tallgrass

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.

tall grass

This cover gives off such a gritty, western feel to it.  Like a wind is blowing in and the dust is blowing around.  Even those clouds look dirty.  The house appears isolated, especially from this perspective low to the ground.  Very different from a lot of what we tend to see.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

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

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Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wish List 5: Historical Crime–Nonfiction


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 wish list had a couple different sources of inspiration.  Growing up I was a much more devoted reader of modern day mysteries and crime dramas.  I haven’t read as much of this genre recently, but love catching them on TV.  My husband recently asked me to help him find non-fiction books about Victorian Era serial killers, based off of his reading of Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  Finally, I have been inspired by Erin at Flashlight Commentary’s recent delve into high profile murder stories.  So this month’s feature is non-fiction on historical crimes – early 20th century or before.

Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter

hells princessIn the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s Princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery—and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.

Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster by Harold Schechter


San Francisco, the 1920s. In an age when nightmares were relegated to the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe and distant tales of the Whitechapel murders, a real-life monster terrorized America. His acts of butchery have proved him one of history's fiercest madmen.

As an infant, Earle Leonard Nelson possessed the power to unsettle his elders. As a child he was unnaturally obsessed with the Bible; before he reached puberty, he had an insatiable, aberrant sex drive. By his teens, even Earle's own family had reason to fear him. But no one in the bone-chilling winter of 1926 could have predicted that his degeneracy would erupt in a sixteen-month frenzy of savage rape, barbaric murder, and unimaginable defilement -- deeds that would become the hallmarks of one of the most notorious fiends of the twentieth century, whose blood-lust would not be equaled until the likes of Henry Lee Lucas, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Drawing on the "gruesome, awesome, compelling reporting" (Ann Rule) that is his trademark, Harold Schechter takes a dark journey into the mind of an unrepentant sadist -- and brilliantly lays bare the myth of innocence that shrouded a bygone era.

The Thames Torso Murders by M.J. Trow

thames torso murdersDismembered corpses are discovered scattered along the banks of the river Thames, a calculating clinical multiple murderer is on the loose, and the London police have no inkling of the killer s identity and, more than a century later, they still don t. In this, M.J. Trow s latest reinvestigation of a bizarre and brutal serial killing, he delves deep into the appalling facts of the case, into the futile police investigations, and into the dark history of late Victorian London.The incredible criminal career of the Thames torso murderer has gripped readers and historians ever since he committed his crimes in the 1870s and 1880s. The case poses as many questions as the even more notorious killings of Jack the Ripper. How, over a period of fifteen years, did the Thames murderer get away with a succession of monstrous and sensational misdeeds? And what sort of perverted character was he, why did he take such risks, why did he kill again and again?

The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James

the man from the trainUsing unprecedented, dramatically compelling sleuthing techniques, legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history.

Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa, murders, received national attention. But few people believed the crimes were related. And fewer still would realize that all of these families lived within walking distance to a train station.

When celebrated baseball statistician and true crime expert Bill James first learned about these horrors, he began to investigate others that might fit the same pattern. Applying the same know-how he brings to his legendary baseball analysis, he empirically determined which crimes were committed by the same person. Then after sifting through thousands of local newspapers, court transcripts, and public records, he and his daughter Rachel made an astonishing discovery: they learned the true identity of this monstrous criminal. In turn, they uncovered one of the deadliest serial killers in America.

Riveting and immersive, with writing as sharp as the cold side of an axe, The Man from the Train paints a vivid, psychologically perceptive portrait of America at the dawn of the twentieth century, when crime was regarded as a local problem, and opportunistic private detectives exploited a dysfunctional judicial system. James shows how these cultural factors enabled such an unspeakable series of crimes to occur, and his groundbreaking approach to true crime will convince skeptics, amaze aficionados, and change the way we view criminal history.

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars
by Paul Collins

the murder of the centuryOn Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects.

The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio — a hard-luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor — all raced to solve the crime.

What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim whom the police couldn't identify with certainty, and who the defense claimed wasn't even dead. The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale — a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.

Here is another non-fiction historical crime book that I have read and enjoyed:

Wish List 5
Devil in the White City
★★★★ ½☆

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)

  • Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede -
  • Colleen @ A Literary Vacation –
  • Erin @ Flashlight Commentary – Author Backlists 
  • Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books –
  • Stephanie @ Layered Pages –

keep calm and support book bloggers

Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 13, 2018

Audiobook Review: A Promise of Ruin by Cuyler Overholt

a promise of ruin
A Promise of Ruin
by Cuyler Overholt
Book 2 in the Dr. Genevieve Summerford Mystery series
Unabridged, 12 hr. 20 min.
Recorded Books
Carly Robbins (narrator)
August 8, 2017
★★★★ ½☆
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Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

Source: Received from publisher for review

To stop the trafficking ring plaguing her city, Dr. Genevieve Summerford must dive into New York’s underworld

In early 1900s New York, the formidable crime syndicate known as the Black Hand has been terrorizing the city's Italian community with bombings and kidnappings. When a young Italian girl is found drowned and sexually defiled, Dr. Genevieve Summerford suspects the organization has expanded into forced prostitution, and she won't rest until the trafficking ring is brought to justice.

While A Deadly Affection (book 1) very much had its roots in the medical field that Genevieve was making inroads into, in A Promise of Ruin it plays second string to the kidnapping and trafficking storyline. Genevieve still attends to her clients and uses the knowledge to help some of the other characters cope with things they are dealing with, but it was not the focus here. Genevieve actually struggles with the fact that her psychiatry practice is not taking off and she is spending more time providing actual physical medical assistance, which felt very real. While this was something that I enjoyed in the first book, the characters held my rapt attention here and I didn’t miss it.

And oh the characters! I love the Genevieve and Simon back and forth. Their relationship is full of fun banter and tension between them that keeps the reader on their toes. We also get to know more about the retainers in the Summerford household who worry about Genevieve as one of their own; Katey is quite the spitfire and I loved how she helped resolve the mystery. Even the men and boys who are a part of the world Simon moves in were well fleshed out and entertaining. You gotta love those little boys!

There is much more focus on the police investigation (and Genevieve’s meddling in it), but it felt very well set in the time period and not out of place at all. I’m a huge fan of police procedurals and this worked here, although I hope the books to come to not all feature this. I have done some studying of the Black Hand and the Italian camorra and I enjoyed how these elements were seamlessly woven into the fabric of the story here. Additionally, a lot more of this novel is committed to Genevieve helping those from the lower classes, whereas previously we were more set in the upper class – it was very different.

I really enjoyed spending time with Genevieve and friends again and look forward to seeing where the next book take her – especially in terms of her relationship and her medical profession.


★★★★ ½☆

My opinions on the narration are very much in line with my thoughts on book 1, as they are both narrated by the same person, Carly Robins. Robins was able to relay the author’s pacing well in this audiobook presentation. There is an interplay between slow or fast reading based on the need of the scene. I appreciated the appropriate pause length between sentences – just the right amount of time. Robbins imbues her Genevieve with an earnestness, but also demonstrates fear or hesitation when appropriate. It certainly feels like she spent some time getting to know the characters before recording the passages. There is some voice work here to make characters unique, and this is one of the few times I have found myself feeling comfortable with a narration of characters of the opposite sex from the narrator. Additionally, I feel that she handled the variety of accents well as we have American, Irish, and Italian among the characters. An admirable job that never felt jarring or out of place.

You can check out a sample from the audiobook below (links to Audible):

Play symbol 85x85

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Cuyler Overholt:

a deadly affection
A Deadly Affection
(Book 1)
[My Review]

Find Cuyler Overholt:
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2018 by The Maiden’s Court