Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Maid of Secrets Blog Tour: Review, Character Interview with Anna & Giveaway

Hey everyone and welcome to my stop on the Maid of Secrets Blog Tour! I'm so excited to be a part of this tour - I loved Maid of Secrets so much! Thanks to Sel at Bookcase to Heaven for organizing this :)
Oh, and don't forget to check out the rest of the stops here!

Title: Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor #1)
Author: Jennifer McGowan
Release date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 416
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | The Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.

For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.

A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…

Maid of Secrets is an awesome YA historical debut! I loved the mystery, the characters, and of course the writing. Even though this is a pretty long book, I finished it within a day, because I really couldn’t put it down. Meg is one of my new favourite YA heroines!

Meg is a part of the Golden Rose acting troupe. She doesn’t act, though. She’s employed as a thief, nicking wallets and other valuables from the audience as they watch the play, enraptured. However, when Meg is caught, she’s brought to Windsor Castle, where she is trained as a spy. There are quite a lot of mysterious things going on in the castle, and Meg has to figure everything out before it’s too late. But she’s not sure whom to trust…

Maid of Secrets reminds me of Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers. Both are really gripping YA historicals with badass female protagonists, as well as a lot of politics running throughout the novels. So if you loved Grave Mercy, you’ll love this! I have to admit that the politics didn’t interest me much, and I didn’t really understand some of it, but that didn’t hinder my appreciation of the book. The mystery plotline had me intrigued immediately. There’s loads of double-crossing in this novel, and Meg is torn between keeping her old friends safe and doing her duty to her queen.

I really loved Meg! She’s tough as nails, and quick on her feet. She’s an awesome thief, and I found it really cool to read about how she nicks things from other people without them realizing. Meg is also by far the most sensible one of the maids. Her bluntness even made me laugh out loud at times!
What was with this talk of husbands? Did these girls not understand that marriage was not the answer to every question in their heads?
Meg’s incredibly smart, and has another talent that she’s managed to keep secret for a long time. But it comes out while she’s taking lessons at the castle, and all it does is put her in more danger, as well as higher on the pedestal.

The other four maids training to be spies are all really intriguing as well. I really liked Jane, who’s basically the stealthy one. She’s not afraid to kill, and is definitely the strongest and toughest out of all five of them. I also loved Anna, the smart one. She really reminded me of Hermione from Harry Potter, so how could I not love her? Anna loves puzzles and codes of any kind, and she’s practically a genius! Then there’s Beatrice, a.k.a. the pretty but bitchy one. Beatrice is gorgeous and a total flirt. She’s useful in distracting men while the others do what they’re meant to. But I definitely did not like her bitchiness! Sophia is the youngest out of all of them, and she’s a Seer. She can see into the future, and I think that makes her the most valuable one. But Sophia’s incredibly unconfident of herself, though she’s really sweet. I hope she gets tougher in the next book.

Count Rafe is a Spanish courtier who catches Meg’s eye, and he definitely makes things a lot more complicated. Meg doesn’t think she can trust him, but he strives to prove her wrong. I didn’t like Rafe much at the beginning, but he kinda grew on me, and three-quarters through, I was completely rooting for him and Meg. He’s still a mystery to me, though, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about him in Maid of Deception.

Another thing I loved about Maid of Secrets is learning about what life was like in 16th century England. The way they talked, the way they dressed… And the history of the English royalty is really interesting too! Extremely confusing, but intriguing nonetheless. It’s a nice change from novels set in the current times.

This book is so captivating and gripping, with danger lurking at every corner. My heart was in my mouth for the most part! The character development and depth is impressive, and I think that’s my favourite aspect of the novel. Jennifer McGowan has done an awesome job with this debut. I’m now desperate for the sequel! Maid of Secrets is a must-read for all you historical lovers out there.

*Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an eGalley for the blog tour*

Rating: 4/5

About the author:

Jennifer McGowan writes Young Adult romance full of swash and buckle. Her first novel, MAID OF SECRETS, debuts in Spring, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Age: Royal Secret
Came From: A small town in northern Ohio
Became a Maid of Honor: After bringing her tale of spygirls to the noble city, and winning the favor of the great house of Simon (& Schuster).
Special Skill: Matrix-like reflexes, superior strength, fabulous wit… okay, ah – we’ll get back to you on that.
Find Jennifer on:

Interview with Anna Burgher, Maid of Genius

Firstly, thanks for being here at City of Books, Anna :) 

Well! I am so honored, verily I am, to be asked to give an interview at all—but especially for a site named “City of Books!”

And your name is Richa! That is an interesting name, I must say. Can you share with me how you came to be named it? Is it a family name by chance and if so is it one that has been used over time or just in recent generations? Begging your pardon, of course, but indeed it does pique my curiosity!

But where are my manners?! Apologies Miss Richa, and allow me to address your questions without delay!

You're quite the chatter, aren't you? Answering your question, my name-giving was totally random - no generations involved! So, Anna, how are you today?

I am remarkably well, thank you so much for asking. And it is I who am pleased. You’ve no idea how much more fun it is to answer your questions than to read over yet another treatise from the Flemish court, even though King Philip insists on stirring up trouble for our Queen. Mark my words, Phillip will do what he can to undermine our Gloriana at every turn. He will never get over her casting away his offer of marriage; but in all truth, what can he expect?! He was married to her half-sister, he was, the former Queen Mary, God rest her soul. He could not think our Elizabeth would take his suit seriously, especially with him being a Catholic at that!

But, ah… I digress. Apologies again!

Wow, you seem quite stressed out! I hope this little interview will relax you a bit. What's your favourite thing to do?

Ah, now that is a puzzle of a question. I should say I like most to read, but that’s not quite it. I like to apply what knowledge I’ve gained through my reading. So not just to learn – but to apply the learning. I love the process of solving puzzles that can only be solved by someone who’s taken the time to understand not only the question, but all of the different answers one might choose.

That, and I love to daydream. Sometimes my mind takes me to the MOST curious places!

If you were trapped on a deserted island and could take only 3 things with you, what would they be?

Ah! A puzzle of a grand sort is this. Well, so, a deserted island. Hmmmm.

I should want a sharp knife with a long hilt, that I might equally use on its own or strapped with grass rope (which of course I know how to make) to a staff. For the killing and preparing of food, as you might imagine. I would also want to bring a flint for the making of fire.

And then a boat, for the departure of such an island. J  If a boat wasn’t an option, well, I should think the only other item would be paper-and-pen, that I might chronicle my adventures for future hardy souls to find!

Has problem-solving always been a part of you, something you've always loved?

Indeed I tell you plain, you are the first to ask this of me, and it is well time! The short answer is—yes. I have always set my mind to solving puzzles, deciphering riddles, looking for hidden secrets and codes, and observing the world around me. This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I can be the type of girl who might on occasion appear to be by chance someone who speaks a bit too much—who uses seventeen words when one would do. I have to constantly be on guard not to speak too loudly or too long.

With books, however, I can just be myself. In the process of solving problems, I can speak as long as I need, in my mind, and no one lifts a brow. It can be a solitary existence, to be sure. But at least with my mind lost in a book, I am never alone.

Amen to that. I totally get you! I could go on for ages about how amazing books are, but moving on... You were pretty much the only person who was actually nice to Meg when she arrived at the castle. Why is that?

Well, first and foremost, do not judge my fellow Maids of Honor too harshly! They each have their burdens and secrets, but I’ll leave them their stories to tell in good time. And secondly, bless my soul! Meg was such a burst of fresh air upon us, with her sharp mind and keen wit and resourceful ways. Well and truly I tell you, she was someone I looked up to. Nothing seemed to trouble her. She always had a smile at the ready, and none more so than for the young Count Rafe de Martine—I would not have been able to string three coherent words together in his presence, but Meg took his attention as if it were an everyday occurrence for a dashing Spanish courtier to pay her heed.

To put it simply, then: I had much to learn from Meg, and I admired her and wished her well from the first moment I laid eyes upon her. 

Rapid fire round!

Oh my!

Favourite colour?

Yellow – it is the color of sunshine, light and Spring.

Indoors or outdoors?

Indoors. For studying, you see.

Of course, of course. Ocean or mountains?

Ocean… there is always something new on the other side!

First word that comes to your mind when you think of Beatrice?

Strong. The girl carries burden upon burden, I tell you truly.

First word that comes to your mind when you think of the Queen?

Proud. This is a woman who knows who she is, what she is, and why she is. She is King and Country, in one triumphant form. 

And once again, thank you for agreeing to answer some of my questions, Anna!

Oh!!! Miss Richa, thank you so much for having me here. I shall ever remember your kindness!

And now I want to thank Jennifer McGowan for taking the time to create such beautiful and fun answers from Anna! I hope you readers enjoy this interview as much as we did.



  1. This is really inspiring!! The way your career started out sounds exactly like mine, I'm just hoping it ends like it, and use inspired me to never ever give up on my goal. home lift

  2. Richa, thank you very much for hosting me (and Anna!) today! I enjoyed our interview very much, and I'm very glad you enjoyed the book! Book 2 is Beatrice's tale, where you'll get at more of the cause of her prickly personality. :) Thank you again!

  3. Anna sounds like such a sweetie :) Yay for her love of books!

    Thanks for being part of the tour, Richa! Glad you enjoyed the book as much as Grave Mercy (both are soooo good) :D

  4. Great review and interview.

    Anna was a character I loved and she did remind me of Hermione from Harry Potter. I soo agree with her on her views about books. Thanks for sharing!

    Jennifer @ Dream Reads


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