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!

Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

02_The Lake House

The Lake House by Kate Morton
ARC, E-book, 606 pages
Atria Books
October 20, 2015
★★★★ ½☆

goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Shift

Source: Received for review with HFVBT tour

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

I have to tell you that I had never read one of Morton’s books before, even though I have had The Forgotten Garden AND The House at Riverton on my bookshelves for quite some time now. I had picked them up because their back matter sounded interesting at the store, but then forgot about them once putting them up on the shelf. Well, rest assured, I am going to have to dust them off sometime in the near future because The Lake House has whet my appetite for her writing!!!

I selected this book for review, again because the description sounded really intriguing. A mystery, a little time shifting between WWI/WWII era and the present, and family drama – always makes for great reading. Despite that, I did not jump into this one as soon as I received it – I sort of left it sitting around until I realized I needed to really get reading or a book of this length was never going to be finished in time for the review! Good thing Morton’s prose just flows and you never really want to let up from practically page one. I have found myself reading this book in all those weird in-between moments in the day – which is SO not me (I am more of a marathon style reader than a sprinter). And each time I put it down it leaves me wanting more, wanting to jump forward or back in time to put pieces together, to solve the puzzle! Just when I think I know what is going on, a tidbit is revealed that shows I wasn’t anywhere close! I love reading mysteries because I love the chase to solve the puzzle – but I often find that I figure out the reveal much too early. Not the case here at all. It is actually interesting that one of the characters, Alice, is a mystery writer who speaks on a couple occasions of the strengths of a good mystery novel – Morton hits all of those points here as well.

Besides being able to write a compelling mystery, Morton crafts wonderfully complete characters. At one time or another we pop into the thoughts of many of them giving you a distinct difference between how they are perceived by others and what they think of themselves. We even get part of a chapter from the perspective of an 11 month old baby. I wasn’t convinced that this construct would work while reading it, but ultimately I think that it served its purpose well in the long run. All the characters took a while to figure out – everyone was hiding something from someone. Don’t even get me started on the atmosphere that this author creates! I could feel each sensation that the characters experienced – I was in that forgotten, bucolic lake side garden with Sadie when she discovered the Edevane estate.

I loved the pacing and flow of this novel. Every chapter and section break compelled me forward. Not only did I want to know what happened next, it never felt completely resolved, thus propelling me into the next chapter. While it felt like it took me a while to get through the book, it wasn’t a bad thing because I was gulping down each and every little detail offered. The novel bounces back and forth between time periods that break down into roughly 3 sections – the present where Sadie has fallen into unofficially re-opening the Edevane case, the time surrounding WWI when Anthony and Eleanor Edevane where newly married and then in the time surrounding WWII and the days around the disappearance of their child Theo. It was easy to keep these sections separated in my head and each time we dipped into one of these sections it added little elements to the mystery – either revealing something or adding to the mystery.

Overall, I say pick up this book ASAP, you won’t regret it!! This has definitely pushed her other books up higher on my TBR.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book? You can also hear the author talk about her inspiration behind the novel below.


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


Also by Kate Morton:

the house at riverton

The House at Riverton

the forgotten garden

The Forgotten Garden

the distant hours

The Distant Hours

the secret keeper

The Secret Keeper


Find Kate Morton: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Follow the Tour!

04_The Lake House_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Follow the Tour on Twitter: #TheLakeHouseBlogTour    #HistoricalFiction    #KateMorton

or on the HFVBT page





Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Collops of Rabbit with Champagne Wine

Weekend Cooking

Hi friends!  I promised a Weekend Cooking post this weekend and I am cutting it quite close!!  But I have a very good dish for you here today!  I was looking for some historical inspiration and took to Pinterest (where I usually end up for recipes).  Pinterest led me to the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Foodways page where I found a whole bunch of interesting sounding recipes - I will definitely be visiting there again!  The one that stood out the most however was Collops of Rabbit with Champagne Wine: 1. because I had no idea what the word collops meant, 2. I am a fan of rabbit, and 3. because there is champagne in this recipe! 

So, first, the definition of collops: a small slice of meat (Dictionary.com).  Second, I substituted chicken in place of rabbit.  I do have a butcher nearby where I could have bought rabbit, but I had chicken in the freezer and the recipe (even the historical part) says it can be made with chicken instead, so I didn't feel like I was violating the historical aspect and it was for convenience sake.  Third, we definitely had champagne!

Rabbit isn't a protein that is commonly consumed in today's culture, however, it was extremely common in the 18th century where this recipe come from.  I happen to love rabbit and it does taste very similar to chicken, so I can see why the flavor palate would work the same here.  Below I am including the original 18th century recipe from "The Complete System of Cookery" by William Verral - if you would like to see the modern translation, please visit the Historic Foodways page.

Collops of Rabbit with Champagne Wine
Serves 4

Historical Recipe:

Take the flesh of a couple of rabbits, cut it in slices, and with a knife pat it down so as to make it very thin, rub some butter all over a large stew pan, mixed with some green onion and some parsley minced very fine, stick the meat round, and fry it a minute or two over a brisk stove, giving it toss or two, let it lie in that til you have prepared your sauce, which must be thus done, put into a small stew pan a ladle of cullis, a glass of Champagne, pepper, salt and nutmeg, a small quantity of such herbs as you like, and a morsel of shallot, boil it five or six minutes, and put your rabbit in, make it only boiling hot, squeeze in the juice of a lemon or orange, and serve it up. The flesh of chickens make a neat dish in the same way.



We paired our chicken with a basic buttered rice and glazed carrots - side dishes that would have been possible at the time this recipe was written.  The sauce that you see in the separate bowl is the Champagne sauce created in the recipe above, we just put it on the side so it didn't run all over the plate. 

I must say, this dish was extremely tasty and I would for sure make it again (hopefully with rabbit next time).  It was sweet, thanks to the Champagne and orange juice, but mellowed nicely by the chicken stock and herbs.  I do have one significant recommendation, don't add the green onions at the beginning of the recipe as it states - I highly suggest waiting until after you have added the Champagne and stock to your pan.  We had a little incident of the temperate being set too high and then my husband and I both thought the other was watching the dish (neither of us were) and they essentially burned in the pan.  I had to empty the pan and start the sauce over.  Adding them later in the recipe still allows them to impart their flavor, but without losing their texture too much. 


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


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons

tatiana and alexander

Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons
Book 2 in The Bronze Horseman series

Paperback, 559 pages
June 29, 2010

goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Source: My personal collection

Tatiana is eighteen years old, pregnant, and widowed when she escapes war-torn Leningrad to find a new life in America. But the ghosts of her past do not rest easily. She becomes consumed by the belief that her husband, Red Army officer Alexander Belov, is still alive and needs her desperately.

Meanwhile, oceans and continents away in the Soviet Union, Alexander barely escapes execution, and is forced to lead a battalion of soldiers considered expendable by the Soviet high command. Yet Alexander is determined to take his men through the ruins of Europe in one last desperate bid to escape Stalin's death machine and somehow find his way to Tatiana once again.

Like many readers, I LOVED The Bronze Horseman and I was excited to jump into Tatiana and Alexander to see how their story continued – however, I didn’t quite get what I was looking for. I have come to the conclusion, after reading this and part of the third book, that I enjoy the story more when our two protagonists are separated. Even in the prior book, the story would drag for me when we would get caught up in extended love scenes or when they are just arguing about what to do.

Fortunately for me, throughout most of this novel, they are separated by the Atlantic Ocean, with Tatiana in New York and Alexander in Russia. Individually, I did enjoy both of their stories. Tatiana’s is a story of immigration into the United States and how many worked to build new lives for themselves, even when not losing hope or the connection to the old home country. She is also dealing with the belief that her husband is dead and how does she deal with that. Some may find this a little boring, but I enjoyed this attempt at some normalcy after finally escaping war torn Russia. Now Alexander’s story on the other hand is one full of action and escape attempts. He is stuck in the Soviet machine and things could not be more life or death for him. These two different lives juxtapose well against each other.

I won’t lie, there is a lengthy, somewhat boring section toward the middle of the book. Here, the author essentially retells a significant portion of The Bronze Horseman from the perspective of Alexander (while in the first book it came from the perspective of Tatiana). While I understand that the author wanted to establish the story for Alexander and how that relationship affects the circumstances he is currently facing, for me it felt just like a rehash. I don’t think that it was necessarily needed to add to the trauma Alexander was facing. It could have been a much shorter flashback to achieve the same results.

I love the beautiful characters that Simons creates, and I enjoyed this book overall because of that. Tatiana and Alexander are a historical fiction love story that is among my favorites. Book 3, The Summer Garden, which I have started at the time of writing this review, is proving to be a little more of a struggle than this one to get through.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book [http://paullinasimons.com/books/tatiana-and-alexander/excerpt/]?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Paullina Simons in The Bronze Horseman Series:

Children of Liberty

Children of Liberty (Prequel Book 1)


Bellagrand (Prequel Book 2)

the bronze horseman

The Bronze Horseman (Book 1)
[My Review]

The Summer Garden

The Summer Garden (Book 3)


Tatiana’s Table (Cookbook)

Find Paullina Simons: Website | Facebook | Twitter



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: A Master Passion by Juliet Waldron & Tour Wide Giveaway

a master passion

A Master Passion: The Story of Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton by Juliet Waldron
Book One: Love and Liberty

ARC, E-Book, 428 pages
Books We Love
March 25, 2015

goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for Review as part of HFVBT tour

THE MASTER PASSION is the story of the marriage of our brilliant first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and his courageous wife, Elizabeth Schuyler. It begins with a whirlwind Revolutionary War courtship at Washington’s headquarters. Conflict, however, is built into this marriage.

Betsy’s passion is Alexander. While Hamilton adores his wife and children, there are times when he loves America more.

“…And hence one Master Passion in the breast
Like Aaron’s serpent, swallows up all the rest…” ~~Alexander Pope

Alexander Hamilton has always been a man that I admired among the Founding Fathers of the United States and I have always felt that he was a man taken during his prime due to petty jealousy. The promise that he had that was left undeveloped… Of course, as with many things not learned in high school, I had NO IDEA that he was born and raised on a Caribbean island and came to the United States in the 1770’s. I just knew of him as the honorable revolutionary man and Secretary of the Treasury. And of his wife Betsy, I knew absolutely nothing (I didn’t even honestly realize he was married!).

So, the early parts of this novel were a little surprising to me and honestly a bit of a struggle to get through. While I know it was important to build up that early life story for Hamilton as a way to create his personality and rationalize his decision-making in the future, I found that it failed to lock me into the story. The entire section on Hamilton’s island life I found uninteresting, dry, and it almost made me put the book down a few times. It was just…boring. And, while I don’t really know much about Hamilton’s personality, I found that I didn’t like this portrayal of him at all. He is by turns, a little mean, womanizing, and insecure. By contrast, I found the early life story of Betsey Schuyler much more intriguing. I enjoyed learning more of the Dutch customs (I’m still confused however about the Blues, Reds, and Greens?) as well as life in the time leading up to the Revolution. I found the members of her family and other friends to at least be likable and interesting. Once we got into the war, courtship, and marriage part of the story I found that the plot picked up a bit in pace – and I’m not sure if I enjoyed it more for purely that fact or because the more likable Betsey helped balance my frustration with Hamilton.

In terms of the characters, overall, I found them very well written and each having a distinct personality. Even some of the side characters were not at all cookie-cutter and vague. One of the author’s strong-suits I feel is with crafting setting. No matter where the story took place I found the setting to stand out vividly and be almost touchable. There are two scenes that stand out in my mind as some of the author’s best for imagery – first when Hamilton and his men are trudging through snow and ice and are absolutely freezing on the way to attack Princeton and also when the men are downstairs celebrating the wedding of Hamilton and Betsey in the Schuyler parlor. Very well crafted.

While this book might not have been a favorite of this time period, I think my issue has more to do with my personal views vs. the author’s depiction of the character and I would encourage you to check this book out if you like reading about the early revolutionary period of the United States.

Check out this book trailer for a brief overview of the book:


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


Also by Juliet Waldron:

mozartz wife

Mozart’s Wife

Roan Rose

Roan Rose






Find Juliet Waldron: Website | Facebook | Pinterest

Follow the Tour!

04_A Master Passion_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

On the HFVBT Webpage

On Twitter using the hashtags: #AMasterPassionBlogTour    #HistoricalFiction


Tour Wide Giveaway!!

I have the opportunity to share a tour wide giveaway with you all on my tour stop.  Please note the rules below which were put out by the tour coordinator.  I am not responsible for this giveaway in any way.

To enter to win a paperback copy of A Master Passion & $5 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below.


  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter
  • Giveaway is open to US residents only.
  • 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
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Master Passion



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Book Review: Mistress of the Court by Laura Purcell & Giveaway

Mistress of the Court

Mistress of the Court by Laura Purcell
Book 2 of the Georgian Queens series

ARC, E-Book, 448 pages
Myrmidon Books Ltd
September 25, 2015
★★★★ ½☆
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the publisher for TLC book tour

Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family,

the heirs to the British throne. Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?
Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit – even if it costs her pride and her marriage. Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the center of George II’s reign.

The Georgian period is not one that I am all that familiar with. I have a vague understanding of George III from my American history classes and Queen of Bedlam also by Purcell. Beyond that, I am a blank slate. So everything in Mistress of the Court was entirely new to me.

From my perspective, I think Purcell did an excellent job of creating the feel of this time period - from personalities to politics to ways of life. I had a clear vision of George I and George II as well as Queen Caroline and Henrietta Howard. Even the secondary characters were well defined and stood on their own.

The novel covers time spent at the court in Hanover prior to George I taking the English throne (as well as after the ascension) and it was interesting to be able to compare the two ways of life and what it meant to the characters. Caroline and Henrietta had definitive ideas of what the move to England would bring to them…and as life goes, nothing turns out quite like they expect. Additionally, we see life for the poor (where Caroline begins the novel) as well as life in the court (which wasn’t always the glitz and glamour). Some great foiling of characters and settings here draws some great visualizations for the reader. I really enjoyed the back and forth between Caroline and Henrietta. They always seemed to need each other for something and it was clearly a love/hate relationship.

The narrative here raced right along and I found myself being drawn back to read at every chance I got. The characters were well written and I enjoyed reading about a new time/place. I found this to be excellent reading that I would highly recommend to others.

As a tidbit, the author has some great miscellaneous material related to this book on her website and even a scene that was cut from the novel if you need more to fill your appetite (I already checked them all out).

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Amazon UK

Also by Laura Purcell:


Queen of Bedlam [My Review]


Find Laura Purcell: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Follow the Tour!

tlc book tours

Monday, September 14th: Romantic Historical Reviews

Wednesday, September 16th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, September 21st: Ace and Hoser Blog

Tuesday, September 22nd: BookBub – author guest post

Wednesday, September 23rd: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Thursday, September 24th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, September 28th: Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, September 30th: Books Without Any Pictures

Thursday, October 1st: The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 5th: Broken Teepee

Monday, October 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 6th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, October 7th: A Literary Vacation

Thursday, October 8th: Just One More Chapter

Friday, October 9th: A Bookish Affair

Monday, October 12th: Luxury Reading

Tuesday, October 13th: Open Book Society

Wednesday, October 14th: #redhead.with.book

Tuesday, October 27th: Reading Lark


As part of the TLC Book Tour I have a copy of Mistress of the Court by Laura Purcell up for grabs for one lucky reader and the giveaway is open WORLDWIDE!!! Yay!  Entries will be made through the Rafflecopter application below and the giveaway will remain open until October 17th.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court