*UPDATE*

I am no longer an Amazon Associate. I am currently working on updating my posts with links to various locations to buy books. One of the links I am including is to RJ Julia - this is my favorite local independent book store. You can shop their store online and have access to pretty much anything you are looking for. I do not have any affiliation with any of these sites - just looking to support my local indie book store.

Anyone looking for a new feed reader? My recommendation is Bloglovin'. I made the switch and love the layout, plus there is now an app for my phone. If you use Bloglovin' or have made the switch to another feed reader, please make sure you are following me on it so you miss none of the content here!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: The Ripper's Wife by Brandy Purdy

The-Rippers-Wife

The Ripper’s Wife by Brandy Purdy
ARC, Paperback, 369 pages
Kensington Books
October 28, 2014
★★★★☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received book for review as part of HF Virtual Book Tour

“It begins as a fairytale romance-a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James's secrets are infinitely darker-he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband's depravity until she discovers his diary-and in it, a litany of bloody deeds...”

The tale of Jack the Ripper is one that has been told in a variety of ways, however the one told by author Brandy Purdy in The Ripper’s Wife is an entirely new (and refreshing) angle. James Maybrick was a suspect brought up many, many years after the crime spree, but the claims to this identity have since been proven to be false. In The Ripper’s Wife, Purdy brings this little known theory to the fore. Additionally she explores the contentious marriage between James and Florie Maybrick which leads to a scandalous trial. All of these dramatic moments created some great fodder for the novel.

The bulk of the novel is Florie telling her story of how she met James and her life being married to him. We don’t really know much about the Ripper’s story until about halfway through the novel when his diary is introduced – then you are immersed in the brutality and gore that is his crime spree. And there are quite some brutal moments – it is not for the faint of heart.

The segments of the novel which tell of the crime spree feel frantic, desperate, and crazed – essentially mirroring the internal turmoil of the killer. However, much of the novel does feel dense; this won’t be a novel that you race through, but it will be one that you enjoy the new twist to typical Ripper story.

Author Brandy Purdy also has written The Tudor Throne, The Queen’s Pleasure, Vengeance is Mine, The Boleyn Bride, The Queen’s Rivals, and The Confession of Piers Gaveston. You can visit the author’s website or blog for more information about the books.  If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

The Ripper's Wife_Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #RippersWifeBlogTour.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: A Day of Fire by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

a day of fire

A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Vicky Alvear Shecter
ARC, e-book, 302 pages
Knight Media, LLC
November 4, 2014
★★★★★

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Short Stories

Source: Received for review as part of HF Virtual Book Tour

“Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?”

I LOVED this collection! Let’s just start with that fact. I have noticed a new trend lately of authors getting together to write a collection of short stories that tell a cohesive narrative, and I find this to be a really exciting trend! This is the first of these types of collections that I have had the chance to read, however I am also looking forward to reading Grand Central.

The stories told in this collection each would hold up as a stand-alone short story, however when read together you get a complete story of the city of Pompeii and the disaster that took its life; because quite frankly, that is what this book is really about. Sure there are great characters who you quickly become attached to and you learn their stories as well, but this book tells the fate of Pompeii, from the preceding days, to the actual eruption of the volcano, to the aftermath. We see Pompeii at her best, worst, and everything in between. There is great drama, pain, and luck. There are those who survive and those who don’t. You will experience a mixed bag of emotions here, so prepare yourself.

While each story focuses primarily on its own character or set of characters, there is definitely crossover between stories. You may catch a glimpse of a character from a prior story passing through the background of another story; these glimpses are sweet little treats. And if you are a fan of Kate Quinn’s novels, you will get the opportunity to see a couple beloved characters appear in this collection!

With a variety of authors writing this collection you run the chance of their voices not meshing with one another. That is not the case here. Their storytelling styles are so similar, you don’t really notice that you are reading different authors – which is a good thing in this circumstance.

An excellent job all around here – the writing style, the choice of stories told, the evolution of characters, the drama. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Way to go!

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon US and Amazon UK.

These authors have their own novels and you can check them out at their individual websites: Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Vicky Alvear Shecter.

00_A Day of Fire_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #ADayofFireBlogTour.

 

**UPDATE**

There is a tour wide giveaway for a beautiful one-of-a-kind Roman style Necklace (18″) and Earring set, hand-crafted with real carnelion, and inspired by jewelry of the ancient world.  It is open INTERNATIONALLY!!  Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below and the winner will be selected at the end of the tour by the tour coordinator.  Here are some rules:

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 6th and notified via email.
  • Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

**If you previously entered this giveaway when it was listed as a copy of the book, the tour coordinator will be contacting you to make sure you still want to be entered in this giveaway drawing.**

Good luck and enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Roast Chicken

You know how I love to cook and you know how I love the Presidents and First Ladies? How about combining those passions with a cookbook about John and Abigail Adams?! Review of the cookbook, The Culinary Lives of John and Abigail Adams: A Cookbook, is upcoming, but today I wanted to take a look at one of the recipes that we tried from it. We started with something simple – Roasted Chicken.

Chickens were among many types of fowl prepared in New England during the colonial and early American period – many of which are still made today. Among these types of fowl are: quail, duck, chicken, turkey, pigeons, and partridge. New England preparations are known for being simple to prepare and quite frankly, a little bland.

the culinary lives of john and abigail adams

Roast Chicken
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
3 lb roasting chicken
2 tsp. fresh ground pepper, divided
3 tsp. table salt, divided
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour, plus one pinch
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. parsley flakes, for garnish
Slices of lemon for garnish

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 425°. Sprinkle the chicken’s interior with 1 teaspoon pepper and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Truss the chicken. Grease the baking pan with a tablespoon butter.
2) Mix 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Rub the mixture on the chicken. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pinch of flour on the bird. Place the bird in the roasting pan.
3) Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes, until the skins starts to turn a light brown. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the chicken over, spread with remaining tablespoon butter, another pinch of salt and pinch of flour. Return to the oven.
4) Every 10-15 minutes remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pinch of flour. Cook until chicken reaches a temperature of 180° - about an hour and a half total cooking time. Remove skewers and serve with lemon and parsley garnish.

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From the method the chicken is cooked it made me think that this was rather bland and I couldn’t figure out the sprinkled flour aspect. So, I changed it up just slightly. We stuck some fresh herbs inside the cavity with the salt and pepper – however these herbs still fit into the historical aspect because they would have been available in New England in the Adams’ time, we used rosemary and marjoram. We also only sprinkled with flour about 2 times instead of every 10 minutes. It did absorb some of the oils and made the skin a little crispy. Overall, not a bad tasting chicken.  Paired it with rice and some maple carrots.

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Any post remotely related to cooking can participate.

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

a feast for crows

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
Book 4 of A Song of Ice and Fire series
Unabridged, 33 hr. 56 min.
Random House Audio
Roy Dotrice (Narrator)
December 15, 2011
★★★½☆☆

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fantasy

Source: Downloaded audiobook from Audible

“With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making.
After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.”

So, I think this was my least favorite in this series thus far and it is due to the way the author chose to break up the story. Books 4 and 5 take place at relatively the same time, but address different areas of the kingdom – I believe book 4 is primarily in the south and book 5 is primarily in the north. The problem here was that we are introduced to so many new narration characters and see fairly little of the characters we have grown to love (or hate) throughout the first 3 books. We are introduced to the more of the Greyjoy’s of the Iron Isles and to the Martell’s of Dorne. I can say that I honestly did not care at all about these characters or anything that they did in the book. This is likely because they are hardly referenced in the first three books (especially the Dorne characters) and because we don’t have enough of the characters we are familiar with here. Jamie Lannister who has grown to be among one of my favorite narrators (the other two being Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister) was so boring in this book. Noticeably missing from this book was the wit and relief of Tyrion Lannister’s chapters. I found that the chapters I was looking forward to were the Cersei Lannister because things were actually happening in her chapters and I loved getting into her head – she is her own brand of crazy, that is for sure. And, I will say, I couldn’t believe what happened to her at the end of this book!!! The rest of the chapters felt stagnant and stifling. There are no chapters set with Daenerys or the Wall. I think I would have much preferred if the author chose to break the book up by time rather than geographic location.

My other issue is the obviousness of repetition here. In the last book is was about the song of the bear and the maiden fair. This time it was Jamie’s fixation with the men he believes are sleeping with his sister. The constant repetition of his exact words drove me crazy!

Throughout the book is the impression that everything is going to come to a head soon. The different kingdoms are shifting, opinions are changing amongst the locals, and those who were strong before are maybe not as strong now. I wonder who is going to come out on top!

I am looking forward to book 5 as this will likely include those characters who I love and missed in this installment.

audiobookimpressions

★★★☆☆

You know what is funny? How different my opinion was of the narration on this book over the proceeding book when they are narrated by the same narrator. In my prior review, I called the narration “enjoyable”. I would classify it this time as “annoying”. I really didn’t like the narrator’s voice this time around. I was talking about the narration with a colleague at work and he described part of the narration as sounding like a “constipated old Scottish lady”, which I had to agree with. I really wish I had the time to read it in traditional book form.

Author George R. R. Martin has written these additional books in the series: A Game of Thrones (book 1), A Clash of Kings (book 2), A Storm of Swords (book 3), and A Dance with Dragons (book 5). The series has been adapted into a television series by HBO – which has been very faithful to the book. You can follow the production of the show on the following blog, Winter is Coming. You can also visit George R. R. Martin's website for additional information about the books.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

 

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Book Alert: Gentlemen of Pitchfork by Kamil Gruca & Giveaway

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Gentlemen of Pitchfork by Kamil Gruca
Pawel Brzosko (Translator)
e-book, 258 pages
Published by: Kamil Gruca
Publication Date: July 13, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Gentlemen of Pitchfork was published in 2009 by Polish publishing house, Rebis.  It has been translated into English and published by the author via Amazon this summer.  The novel is set during the Hundred Years War in France and the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt is just 2 days away.  The author lends real knowledge to what it was like to fight as a knight at this time as he is a historical re-enactor and a skilled swordsman, having won the Polish Knights League in 2006.

Book Blurb:

The year is 1415. France is weakened by the recently ended Civil War between the factions of Burgundians and Armagnacs. The young and belligerent King Henry V Lancaster decides to pay the French a neighbourly visit.

With him - the flower of the English knighthood...

Join Sir Robert Neville, a young English knight, on a quest to discover the true nature of chivalry, love and philosophy in the unwelcoming lands of Northern France as he follows Henry V on a campaign to reclaim his King’s rightful legacy of the French crown.

There will be blood.
There will be romance.
There will be abductions and pursuits.
There will be great history that echoed for centuries long after the last screams of the dying at Agincourt could be heard.

Intrigued? Want more? Check out these excerpts.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon.

You can explore more about the book and author on Facebook and on the book's website.  You can also read an interview with the author at Fly High! blog.

 

I have the pleasure of hosting a giveaway today for 5 e-book copies of Gentlemen of Pitchfork!  And it is open internationally!  Make your entries through the Rafflecopter below.  Last day to enter the giveaway is midnight on November 1st.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday #180

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Another edition of Mailbox Monday on any day of the week that isn't a Monday.  Just a few to share this week.

allgoodwomenjulietsnursenapoleon a lifeTiger Queens Covervictoria a lifethe king's curse

All of these books were received for review from the publishers or tour coordinators:

  • All Good Women by Valerie Miner (received via Netgalley) - excited for this one.  4 women in the days leading up to WWII.  Sort of reminds me of Next to Love by Ellen Feldman which I enjoyed.
  • Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen (audio download received from publisher) - already read this one (before this posting) and it was GOOD!  Some serious backstory to Romeo and Juliet.
  • Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (hardcover received from publisher) - beautiful hardcover book.  Napoleon isn't one that I have enjoyed HF about, but I am curious about him and this book is based on his papers that were recently released.  A chunkster.
  • The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton (received from publisher) - can't wait to dig into this one!  I have loved the 2 Thornton novels I have read so far and haven't read anything about Ghengis Khan.
  • Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson (hardcover received from publisher) - beautiful, beautiful hardcover book!  So excited to read this one as I haven't read any NF about her before.  A chunkster.
  • The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory (audio download received from publisher) - I haven't read Philippa Gregory in a while, and I haven't managed to read any of her Cousin's War books yet, so why not start with the newest one and work my way backward?

What did you get this week?  Anything good?

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

TheTudorVendetta

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
Book 3 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
ARC, E-book, 304 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
October 21, 2014
★★★★ ½☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction - Thriller

Source: Received for review from publisher as part of HFVBT tour

“Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen's behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry's disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth's doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.”

The first two books in the Elizabeth I Spymaster series I ate right up – amazing as they were. I took The Tudor Vendetta with me on my recent vacation and finished the whole thing on the flight! Yes, it is that good (the flight wasn’t that long)! While the third book might wrap up the trilogy (please write some more stories for Brendan!) it blazes ahead at the same speed as its predecessors to a satisfying conclusion.

As is the case with Gortner’s novels, the characters are so lifelike and real you can envision yourself in their shoes or encountering them in some dark alleyway. They pull at your heartstrings or make you incredibly angry with their actions. As Brendan is employed by Cecil, he is always right in the thick of some intrigue, danger, or otherwise shady circumstance. Brendan is a true HF hunk.

As has been the case with the drama Brendan has been tied up with in the past, what he faces here is not a plot twist that I saw coming. Gortner does a great job of grounding the plot in historical reality, but also playing with some of the rumors and scandals from the Tudor era to add some depth to the intrigue. Certainly plausible, definitely entertaining.

I’m saddened that we have reached the end of the Spymaster trilogy, but the novel closed with what isn’t a definitive ending, so I hope someday to be treated to more of the thrill that this series is.

Author C.W. Gortner also has written The Tudor Secret (book 1) and The Tudor Conspiracy (book 2) among other novels. You can visit Gortner’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

tudor vendetta tour

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #TudorVendettaBlogTour.

There is also a tour wide giveaway (it is being hosted on all the blogs on the tour and the winner will be selected by the tour coordinator).   It's a pretty epic giveaway too, for a complete set of the Spymaster Trilogy!! Get your entries in!  Here are the rules:

  • Open to residents of the USA
  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
  • Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen
  • Entries are made through the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court