*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.

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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

cover

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

MM

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Couple Winners

Good evening all.  I have two giveaway winners to announce tonight - one is a long time in coming because I didn't realize that I had never selected a winner.  Surprise when I went into Rafflecopter for the giveaway that I was expecting to select a winner for!  Oops!

congrats

The winner of the giveaway for Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll is...Bethany!!

 

The winner of the giveaway for Madame Picasso by Anne Girard is...Kim!!

 

Congrats ladies!! Emails have been sent out to both winners.  Thanks to all that entered.

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis

dont know much about am pres

Don’t Know Much About The American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis
Unabridged, 23 hr. 52 min.
Random House Audio
Arthur Morey, Kirby Heyborne, and Mark Bramhall (Narrators)
September 18, 2012
★★★★☆

goodreads button

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Purchased audiobook through Audible

"Which president broke the law to prevent enslaved people from being freed? Who said, "When the president does it,that means it's not illegal"? Why does America have a president? From the heated debates among the framers of the Constitution in 1787 over an "elected king," to the creation of the presidency, and on through rich profiles of each man who has held the office, New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis takes readers on a guided tour of American history. Examining each chief executive, from the low lights to the bright lights, the memorable to the forgettable and the forgotten, Davis tells all the stories, offering rich anecdotes about real people. He also charts the history of the presidency itself, debunking myths and grading the presidents from A+ to F. For history buffs and history-phobes alike, this entertaining book may change your understanding of the highest office in the land throughout more than two hundred years of history."

After having enjoyed the initial installment of the Don’t Know Much About… series I was excited to read Kenneth C. Davis’ take on the American Presidents. Davis breaks his narrative down into three major sections: The Making of the President; Presidential Profiles; and What Should We Do With the President?. The first section focuses on what the Constitutional framers intended the role of the President to be (or not be). The second, and admittedly where the bulk of the book takes place, is a look at each individual President and a grading/ranking of their place in American history. The final section is a wrap up that looks at where the role of the President goes from here. A complete, well-rounded view of the presidency.

The first and final sections were utterly forgettable – honestly, I didn’t pay any attention to these sections. The main action transpires in the individual biographies of the Presidents, from George Washington up through the first term of Barack Obama. If you have read widely within the Presidential biography realm, there wasn’t much new material presented here; a general scope of their presidencies. What was interesting for me was to read about some history that I have actually lived through with regard to the late 1980’s through the present. There were some great appendices presented at the back of the book as well. Short on time? Check out the Milestones in each President’s life at the beginning of each chapter or the Milestones in the Presidency of each Presidents as the chapter wrap up.

Davis presents his content in his traditional, easy to digest, question and answer format. Ultimately if you are in the market to learn a little something about each of the Presidents, this could be the book for you.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★☆

The three narrators were presented in the same manner as his prior book. There is one narrator for the questions, one for the answers, and a third who reads the other material. This worked well for the style of the material being presented and the change of narration kept it from being monotonous.

Author Kenneth C. Davis also has written the following for adults: Don’t Know Much About the Bible, Don’t Know Much About the Civil War, Don’t Know Much About Geography, Don’t Know Much About Mythology, and Don’t Know Much About History. He also has a series of books for kids focused on specific topics such as the Pilgrims or Space. You can view the whole children’s list here. You can visit the author’s website for additional information about the book. Check out this audio excerpt.

My reviews of other books by this author:

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

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court