The Maiden's Court

This is an extension of my blog, The Maiden's Court []. I love to read historical fiction, non-fiction, biographies about American Presidents and First Ladies, and sometimes other types of books peppered in for good measure!

Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) - Charlotte Brontë

I chose to read this book for a couple of reasons. First, I was working on a reading challenge and one of the stipulations were to read a classic. So I sat there for awhile before I decided what classic to read. I had never read this book before, but I had heard a lot of people talking about it and figured it was probably something I should read. Coming into this, I had no idea what to expect from this book, I hadn’t read a classic in awhile and I didn’t know what it was about. I chose to have this in audio book because I have a long drive to and from work and it would not interrupt my normal reading schedule.

I really, really enjoyed this story. I enjoyed it in a different way than I have enjoyed other books I have reviewed recently. This story begins with a young Jane Eyre living with the family of an aunt who really doesn’t treat her like family. She is eventually sent away to a boarding school and then takes up the role of governess for a Mr. Rochester. This is when the story really starts to pick up. There is romance, secret desire, heartbreak, a little bit of a mystery, sadness, and then a happy ending…which we all enjoy. There were times when I cried and times when I yelled at Jane for making a dumb decision – such as leaving her post of governess.

There really were only two main characters in this story: Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. I really went back and forth in my opinion of the character of Mr. Rochester. Sometimes I thought he was clearly crazy. Things that he said did not make sense sometimes, but it truly could have been me not hearing right in the car. I felt for Jane from day one: she was treated poorly by people who were her family, was sent from home, and was angst ridden from her secret desire for love. As I said before, there were times I was mad at her choices, but overall she was a very likeable character.

I would definitely read another classic book after reading this one; well, actually I would probably do an audio book so I can still read another book. I actually made me interested in this genre again without feeling like I was reading for school.


This being an audio book I think that the choice of narrator is very important as to how enjoyable the experience is. I have heard some awful narrators and it can really ruin the story. The narrator for the version I listened to was Joanna David and she was a phenomenal narrator. First of all she was British, which was very appropriate because the book was set in England and made it more believable and felt like Jane was actually narrating her story. She was also very amazing at evoking the emotions of the characters. It really felt like I was listening to a play and helped me enjoy my ride.




This review is of a book from my personal collection and is based solely on my reading pleasure.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on June 25, 2009.



Book Review: Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir

This was my first book by Alison Weir and I enjoyed it a lot. As a historian, Weir brings much to the fiction table in this book. She is able to integrate a lot of intricate historical details into the overall story. When historical details are in question, Weir chooses the most believable route to follow creating a vastly interesting historical adventure.

The focus of this book is the Lady Jane Grey and her rise to the throne of England and subsequent downfall 9 days later. Her story is told from just before her birth and the life of her mother and father. She is a smart girl and lives a rather quiet life at her home of Bradgate Hall. Her mother is not the warmest person and does everything she can to advance the family in the hierarchal structure of English society. Her greatest ambition is to bring Jane to the throne, regardless of the manner or the repercussions.

This story is told through the voice of many different narrators; at last count I think there was 8, but it could be a few more than that. I am on the fence as to whether this many narrators are effective or not. Each of these people brings a different perspective of the events of the day to the table. At the same time it can sometimes get confusing as to exactly who these people are and what their purpose is. Some of the narrators appear frequently (Jane and her mother) and some only appear once (Jane Seymour). I have read other books where multiple narrators are employed (The Boleyn Inheritanceby Philippa Gregory) but the number has been limited to a few. I think this was more effective because you can really make a connection with the characters and understand their importance.

The character of Jane Grey is exceptionally well written. I had no previous experience with the story of Jane Grey and I have to say that I learned a lot. There were times that my heartstrings were pulled. The author really knows how to create an emotional scene.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the reign of Lady Jane Grey as well as politics of the time period.

While Alison Weir primarily writes non-fiction, she also has written several other historical novels such as: The Lady ElizabethThe Captive Queen, and A Dangerous Inheritance




This review is of a book from my personal collection and is based solely on my reading pleasure.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on June 20, 2009.



Book Review: Madame Serpent by Jean Plaidy

Madame Serpent - Jean Plaidy

When I started this book, I really didn’t know anything about Catherine de’ Medici and had only previously read 1 book by Plaidy. I picked up this book thinking that it would have more about Italy in it, seeing as she is a Medici, mistake! It’s about France!

I found myself immediately sucked into the world of Catherine, Alessandro, and Ippolito (her relatives). Not too much time was spent on her life in Italy, which I would have liked to have seen a little more of, but what was included was great. Plaidy chooses the details that she includes carefully. The upbringing and emotional stress that Catherine had at the hands of her Aunt and the Pope really molded her into what she would become later in her life.

The bulk of the book takes place in the French Court. Catherine at first is the wife of the Dauphin, who eventually becomes King. Here at the French Court, Catherine faces more emotional stress from her husband, Henry II, and his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. She is only Dauphiness, and later Queen, by title, facing humiliation everywhere she turns. But Catherine finds strength and a way to survive this torture. She saves up every slight against her to use for revenge later.

Despite everything that I have read about Catherine from outside resources, this book has made me feel for her. I don’t think that she was an evil woman. She was a woman who was hurt, over and over again. I can totally sympathize with her want to seek revenge on those who hurt her. She had no one to turn to and could truly only rely on herself. I am not condoning her actions, but I can understand her motives.

I really did enjoy this book. I found myself being unable to wait until the next time that I would be able to pick up the book and read. There were 2 minor things that I did not like about this book. The first thing is the 3rd person omniscient point of view. One sentence you will be in the head of Diane and then the next sentence you will be in the head of Catherine and then a few sentences later in the head of someone else. I personally prefer a little more distinction between my narrators. The other thing that I had a problem with was the lack of dates throughout the book. There was almost no sense on time – you could jump 10 years between chapters. I had to use my knowledge of the time period and other royal houses to piece together what decade or period of time I was in. It made things a little awkward from time to time.

Jean Plaidy  also has written many other historical fiction books under several pen names.  The other books in this trilogy are The Italian Woman and Queen Jezebel.


Series: Medici Trilogy




This review is of a book from my personal collection and is based solely on my reading pleasure.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on May 29, 2009.


"Utterly engrossing...Fowler shines a light on Zelda, providing both justice and the voice she struggled to have heard in her lifetime."

Sara Gruen on Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Book Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti - Michelle Moran

Being as big of an Ancient Egypt fan as I am a Tudor fan I had lofty expectations for this book, and was blown away by how well written it was. Nefertiti becomes Queen to one of the craziest Pharaoh's Egypt has seen and raises herself up higher than any women ever had. The story follows her through her life from her home in Akhmim, to the changing court of Amarna, and finally back to the traditional court of Thebes.

The story is told from the perspective of Nefertiti's younger sister Mutnodjmet as she walks the line between her family's ambitions, the increasingly erratic behavior of the Pharaoh, and her own desires to have a husband and family. If you think Tudor politics were bad, check out what happened in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh Akhenaten! According to the author, the story is told from the sister's perspective because you can feel more for her, whereas Nefertiti is difficult to feel sympathy for. I have to slightly disagree with this. I definitely felt connected to the story of Mutnodjmet and all that she went through in her life: there were times that I cried and times that were funny. By the time I got to the end of the story I felt very strongly for Nefertiti and she even evoked a few tears.

This book was very well researched and all aspects of Egyptian life are well described: gods, religious practices, food, lifestyle, gardens, palaces, homes, city life, people, etc. It's important to note that as this is historical fiction some facts, people, and places have been changed for easier flow of the story or understanding of the reader, but the author does a fine job of detailing this in the back of the book as well as on her website.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in Egyptian history. It is well researched and fun to read. I cannot wait to read the sequel,The Heretic Queen.

Michelle Moran also has written two other books with an Egyptian slant to them: The Heretic Queen and Cleopatra's Daughter.


You can visit Michelle's website for additional information about the books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?  There is also a great Q&A with the author about the book.




This review is of a book from my personal collection and is based solely on my reading pleasure.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on May 15, 2009.



Book Review: Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner

Plain Jane - Laurien Gardner

Queen Jane Seymour is one of the lesser known Queens of King Henry VIII and most certainly one of the least written about. Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner is the first book that I have read about Queen Jane and it did not disappoint.

The story begins at Wolf Hall, the family home of the Seymour's and we are introduced to Jane as a child. Her parents do not think that there are any prospects for Jane to find a husband and expect they will send her to a nunnery, because she is so plain. When the unlikely invitation is extended for Jane to join the court of Queen Catherine a chain of events are set off ultimately bringing her to the role of Queen.

This novel brings the reader through the reigns of Queen Catherine, Queen Anne, and then Queen Jane. What I found interesting is that these events are seen from the perspective of Jane where as most other books show these events from Anne's or Catherine's perspective. Much of the early portion of Jane's life is fictionalized, as not much is know about her before becoming Queen.

Overall, I found this author to be a very engaging writer. I would say that the writer's style is somewhat similar to Philippa Gregory. The characters are very well developed and the story flows convincingly through the years. I would recommend this to any one who want to know more of the story about Queen Jane Seymour.

Laurien Gardner has written two other books related to the wives of Henry VIII, The Spanish Bride and A Lady Raised High.  


Series: Tudor Women




This review is of a book from my personal collection and is based solely on my reading pleasure.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on May 10, 2009.

"What a heroine! Her rise from street urchin to emperor's consort made me want to stand up and cheer."

Kate Quinn on The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton

Book Review: A Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox

The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers - Angie Fox

This is actually the second book in a series. The first book is called The Accidental Demon Slayer and that is the name of the series as well. I am pretty sure that there is also going to be another one. I have not read the first book but that didn’t seem to be a problem while reading this one. There was just enough information to give a new reading background into what happened in the first book, but not so much that a series reader would feel like it was redundant. I definitely will be picking up the first book to find out more to the stories they touched on.

This type of book is not my typical style read, but I enjoyed it right from the beginning. Right off the bat it reminded me of the TV show Charmed, in the sense that she is new to the paranormal world and is fighting demons. The main character, Lizzie, is a pre-school teacher who just a month ago found out she is a demon slayer. She is a perfectionist who likes to plan EVERYTHING out (just like me) and is finding that hard to handle with her new “job”. She finds out that her uncle has been taken by succubi (female demons who are empowered by sex) who have some plan to destroy the world. Lizzie’s major problem is that she is still learning how to manage being a slayer and how she is going to save the world (at least she has some help from her boyfriend, a shape-shifting griffin, and her grandmother’s biker gang of witches). I think the funniest part was when she was taking the test for her slayer’s license (imagine the worst case scenario at a driver’s license test). This is the paranormal part.

I think the romance portion of the genre is stressed a little less. There are 2 sex scenes in the book but I felt that they were used tastefully and both served a purpose. They were an integral part at moving the plot along and actually were very important to the paranormal part.

I read this book in 3 days, which is SUPER FAST for me. I just couldn’t put it down and the end of the chapter always left me wanting more. For someone new to paranormal this book was very good at describing what these different types of creatures were and what they could do. It was easy to understand and follow. I really enjoyed reading this book because it was something different and I could totally escape into the fantasy of it. This book was also absolutely hilarious. The main character is sarcastic and the characters are written humourously.

Angie Fox has written several books include the other books in this series: Book 1The Accidental Demon Slayer (A Biker Witches Novel) - Angie Fox, Book 3 A Tale of Two Demon Slayers (A Biker Witches Novel) (Volume 3) - Angie Fox, and Book 4 The Last of the Demon Slayers (A Biker Witches Novel) (Volume 4) - Angie Fox  . 


You can visit Angie's website or blog for additional information about the books.


Series: Biker Witches



This review is of a book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on June 6, 2009.



Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty  - Libba Bray

I just re-read this book again, which is something that I don't normally do - which tells you how much I enjoyed it.

To give you an idea of what the book is about:  It is primarily set in Victorian England, with a couple flashbacks of India. The bulk of the story takes place at a boarding school with the main character, Gemma, and her friends, Pippa, Felicity, and Ann. They begin to explore a mystery that surrounds their school. Gemma is special, she has visions; these visions and powers create a lot of fun and adventures for the girls, but may not be entirely what they seem.

I would say this book is for the older teen set, but many of any age would find it enjoyable. It is not magic like Harry Potter, but I would call it more ethereal with some magical elements. A little bit of fantasy set in a believable historical setting. I love the imagery that the author paints and the characters that she creates. It is a quick read and very enjoyable.

Also, I love the cover of this book in particular, but of the whole series in general!  I had to have all of them in hardcover!

Libba Bray also has written books two Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy Book #2) - Libba Bray and three The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, Book 3) - Libba Bray   in this series. You can visit her website or blog for additional information about the books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Or, if you loved the book, check out this virtual tour of Spence Academy!


Series: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy




This review is of a book from my personal collection and is based solely on my reading pleasure.  Review originally posted at The Maiden's Court on May 6, 2009.


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