*UPDATE*

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.

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!

Here is a quick sticky link to my Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge and Read-a-Thon.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In-Progress Book Review: The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton & Giveaway

Tiger Queens Cover

The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton
Paperback, 496 pages
NAL
November 4, 2014

Genre: Historical fiction

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

“In the late twelfth century on the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, following a violent feud between blood brothers, the victor Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself Genghis Khan. But behind one powerful man stand many strong women…

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, darkness looms over Borte’s life. She becomes an outcast among her clan and after seeking comfort in the arms of an aristocratic traveler, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man she was betrothed to years ago but who abandoned her long before they could marry. And he will only leave her behind again.

Temujin will make Borte his khatun, his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new empire. Their daughter, a fierce girl named Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, seeks revenge against the Mongol barbarians who destroyed her city and murdered her family, but in the end will sacrifice everything to protect the Golden Family. Demure widow to Genghis’ son, Sorkhokhtani positions her sons to inherit the Empire when it begins to fracture from within.

As Genghis Khan sets out to expand his conquests and the steppes run red with blood, Borte and the women of the clan will fight, love, scheme, and sacrifice, all for the good of their family and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls…”


I tried so hard to free up the time to get this book finished before today. I have not had as much time to read as I would have wished the last two weeks because of finishing up my research paper and then my final exams for the semester – so alas, I’m only about 50% of the way through The Tiger Queens. I should be able to finish up in the next day or so. I thought about trying to write up a full review without having finished the book – but that felt disingenuous to me, so I’m going to give my thoughts thus far and then follow up later this week with my full thoughts following completing the book. It’s only the fair thing to do.


The Tiger Queens is broken up into four parts with each part being narrated by a different women from Genghis Khan’s tribe. So far I have read through two of these women’s stories. This divide into parts is designed to move the reader through over 80 years of time and I think this works well stylistically as each story (so far) has seemed to pick up about where the prior one left off. While the women I have read about thus far, Borte and Alaqai, couldn’t be more different, I like them for different reasons. Both are strong, but in their own ways. Borte has seen and been subjected to a lot in her life and that is where she draws her strength from. Alaqai has been pretty much a tom-boy and the Khan’s favorite child, so she got away with a lot growing up but not must use her skills in a new land amongst people who basically hate her. There is a wide cast of characters here, but the author has done a great job of giving you enough information about each one to make them whole – even the more periphery characters.

There is a great scene that stands out for more so far while reading this novel. All of the daughters (by blood, marriage, and adoption) of Genghis Khan spend time really getting to know each other while discussing what to expect upon two of the girls marrying in the very near future. It was funny, sweet, and solidified the sisterly bonds. It actually broke my heart to see these women have to break up and go the separate ways of their new families after this heart-to-heart moment. I think that was when I really started to enjoy the book – not that it wasn’t an enjoyable read up until that point.

It is obvious that the author has done a great deal of research on the topic of Genghis Khan and the Mongols and the groups that they interacted with along the way. This is an area of the world where I have virtually little knowledge going into this novel. She does an excellent job of weaving even the smallest details into the novel so that the world they live in feels palpable to the reader without it ever feeling overburdened with detail. A great balance of show and tell.

I look forward to being able to see how the stories of the other two women fit into the overarching storyline.

04_The Tiger Queens_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: #TheTigerQueensBlogTour.

I also have a giveaway opportunity for you all.  I have 2 paperback copies of The Tiger Queens to giveaway - one copy will be sent out by me (extra copy I received) and the other will be sent by the publisher. 

  • Giveaway is open to USA residents only and will be open from November 25, 2014 until December 6, 2014
  • Entries are made via the Rafflecopter below - please follow directions provided in the Rafflecopter entries
  • I have updated by giveaway policies and made them always available on my "policies" tab at the top of the page.  When you get to that page scroll about 3/4 down the page and there are my giveaway policies.  Please review these and abide by them.  Thanks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review: A Home for Christmas by M.K. McClintock

a home for christmas

A Home for Christmas by M.K. McClintock
Kindle, 74 pages
Trappers Peak Publishing
November 5, 2014
★★★★★

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Genre: Christmas Short Story Collection, Historical Fiction, Western

Source: Received for review for Book Junkie Promotions book tour

Includes three historical fiction short stories to delight and entertain this holiday season.

CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN
In search of family she barely knows and adventure she’s always wanted, Katherine Donahue is saved from freezing on a winter night in the mountains of Montana by August Hollister. Neither of them expected that what one woman had in mind was a new beginning for them both.

TETON CHRISTMAS
Heartache and a thirst for adventure lead McKensie Stewart and her sister to Wyoming after the death of their parents. With the help of a widowed aunt and a charming horse breeder, McKensie discovers that hope is a cherished promise, and there is no greater gift than love.

LILY’S CHRISTMAS WISH
Lily Malone has never had a real family or a real Christmas. This holiday season, she might get both. From an orphanage in New York City to the rugged mountains of Colorado, Lily sends out only one wish. But when the time comes, can she give it up so someone else’s wish can come true?

This was my first Christmas historical fiction read and it was such a wonderful experience that I can’t wait to dig into some more Christmas novellas and short stories (of which I have been collecting many recently).

Each of the stories in this collection had a sweet story to tell – full of hope when none seemed to be available. All three stories brought the prospect of family at the time when it was needed most – whether through blood relation or by construction. Although these stories were short on pages they were big on heart – a lot of story can be told in a short amount of time! I have read a few westerns before, but never one set in the winter – and quite frankly, I had never thought about winter in the new west or how one might experience Christmas differently out west than in the “civilized” east.

I fell in love with all of the characters. Despite the short time on the page, I felt that I had a solid understanding of who they were, their motivations, and how they ended up in the position they were in. They were people that I would love to read more about in full length stories – just enough here to whet your appetite for more. Each of the stories had an element of at least one of the characters coming out west for the first time – it was interesting to see the varied reactions to the sparse nature.

While I enjoyed all three stories, I think my favorite was Teton Christmas. I enjoyed the sweet little love story that was just blossoming and I found the Stewart sisters enchanting.

Author M.K. McClintock also has written the Montana Gallagher series, the Aliana Claiborn series, and Emma of Crooked Creek. You can visit the author’s website or blog for additional information about the book.

You can also watch the book trailer below.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon and B&N.

ahomeforchristmas tour banner

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the Book Junkie Promotions website or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #AHomeForChristmasBlogTour

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Wycliffe Hotel Coffee Cake

Weekend Cooking

I love when you can make recipes that are featured in novels! Last Saturday I sat down and devoured the three short story collection, A Home for Christmas by M.K. McClintock. Set in the American West in the days leading up to Christmas, this collection is full of heartwarming moments, and food. In the story Teton Christmas, the hotelier makes a well-loved coffee cake. When I got to the end of the book and found the recipe for this cake, I had to make it for Weekend Cooking and coordinate it with my review of the collection (which posts Monday 11/24).

a home for christmas

Wycliffe Hotel Coffee Cake
Serves approx. 15-20 people (depending on slice size)

Ingredients:
2 ⅓ cups flour
¾ cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup coconut flakes
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 cups non-fat milk
2 ½ cups fresh blackberries, raspberries, or huckleberries

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a 13” baking pan and flour it.

2) Combine ⅓ cup flour, ¼ cup butter, coconut, brown sugar, and cinnamon – set aside. This is your coffee cake topping.

3) Sift flour with baking powder and salt into a small bowl – set aside.

4) Beat ½ cup butter until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.

5) Mix dry mixture into the wet, alternating with adding milk in three steps.

6) Fold in the berries.

7) Pour into pan, sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake for 45 minutes.

DSC_0347

I had no idea what exactly this cake was supposed to look like. I envisioned something tall and crumbly – sort of like an Entenmann’s, but with berries (I used raspberries and blackberries in mine). My pan might have been larger than 13” (the above photo is only half of the cake) – so maybe that is why mine came out more like bars rather than cake. Flavor is still really good and the cake is moist and tender. I’m not a huge coconut fan, but it tasted good in this cake.  I think I don't typically like how dry coconut flakes can be, but with the brown sugar it baked in nicely.  The topping sort of melted down into the top of the cake, maybe next time I would add it after it has started to cook some? Any suggestions? I took it to work last week and they devoured it – so it must be good, regardless of how it was supposed to come out.

Side note: I don’t know if you have ever used Pam for Baking – but I love it and use it all the time in place of the grease and flour method.  Just quicker and it smells SO amazing.

All attributions for this recipe are owed to M.K. McClintock and A Home for Christmas.

 

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

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon & Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

christmas spirit reading challenge 2014

I haven't participated in any reading challenges this year - which was one of my resolutions that I managed to stick to.  Now you might question why in the final weeks of the year I am seemingly going back on that resolution.  Well, November and December have always been months where I try to not participate in too many blog tours (for review purposes) or other review commitments so that I can use that time to focus on backlogged reviews and books purchased throughout the year.  It is sort of my freebie month(s).  If you have been following my Mailbox Monday posts you will have noticed that I have been buying Christmas historical novels, short-stories, and collections.  I am really excited to get into these books and was planning on trying to read several of them this year before I even knew of this challenge.  I have already read one collection which offered a nice change of pace from my regular readings that have made me even more excited about participating.

The 5th Annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge is being hosted at The Christmas Spirit and will run from November 24th to January 6th (which gives me ample time to read and fits in with my "freebie" time). 

  • The books read must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, or a children's Christmas book and there is a level for films too.

I am going to participate with the Christmas Tree level - which is 5-6 books read.  Like I said, I have several short stories, so this should be possible.

I will update here as I go with what entries I count toward this challenge, and reviews will be forthcoming"

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christmas spirit read-a-thon 2014

Additionally, Seasons of Reading is hosting the Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon which runs from November 24th through November 30th.  I happen to be done with my class this week and on vacation from the afternoon on November 26th through the 30th - so it will give me ample reading time (plus my husband is working on Black Friday so I will have the day to myself to read).  I figured with this much time, and the fact I haven't participated in a read-a-thon in FOREVER, this would be a great time to participate in one. 

  • You do not have to read only Christmas themed books during this read-a-thon but are encouraged to read at least one. 
  • The Twitter hashtag will be #CSreadathon

I will likely do a new post at the start of my participation in the read-a-thon and update that post with my progress and thoughts throughout the event.

 

**Day 1 Update 11/24/14**

As you can see I decided to just do my posting here for the read-a-thon.  Still working on finishing up a review book before I can jump into my Christmas books, probably will finish tomorrow after work.  I read for about 3.5 hours and read 152 pages of The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton.  Really good book.  If I didn't have to work in the morning I could probably finish it tonight, but alas, that's not the case.

 

Great way to kick off the season's energy!

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Review: The Forgotten Presidents by Michael J Gerhardt

the forgotten presidents

The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy by Michael J. Gerhardt
ARC, e-Book, 336 pages
Oxford University Press
March 1, 2013
★★★☆☆

goodreads button

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Received for review from the publisher via Netgalley request

“Their names linger in memory mainly as punch lines, synonyms for obscurity: Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge. They conjure up not the White House so much as a decaying middle school somewhere in New Jersey. But many forgotten presidents, writes Michael J. Gerhardt, were not weak or ineffective. They boldly fought battles over constitutional principles that resonate today.

Gerhardt, one of our leading legal experts, tells the story of The Forgotten Presidents. He surveys thirteen administrations in chronological order, from Martin Van Buren to Franklin Pierce to Jimmy Carter, distinguishing political failures from their constitutional impact.

Incisive, myth-shattering, and compellingly written, this book shows how even obscure presidents championed the White House's prerogatives and altered the way we interpret the Constitution.”

Well, I would not exactly describe this as “compelling”, but it was certainly different than I expected. Probably if I had read the subtitle, “Their Untold Constitutional Legacy”, I might have been a little more prepared for the book I was beginning to read. Reading through my first forgotten president, Martin Van Buren, I was able to realign my expectations and fall into the concept of this book. The presidents featured in this book (Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland [again], William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, and Jimmy Carter) are primarily those who are overlooked during American History lessons, or receive very little coverage. Gerhardt does not focus so much on the events of their presidencies, but features the Constitutional legacies left by the decisions these Presidents made in office.

The Constitutional dialogue was VERY dry and so very academic. The author picks apart these Presidents and discusses how their decisions changed American policies, their legal legacy, and shaped history. While not necessary, it is a good idea to have some Constitutional legal knowledge prior to reading this book.

When I picked up this book I thought I would get a general glimpse into the lives of those presidents who do not have as much written about them – and that isn’t exactly what I got. I would recommend this book to those who have an interest in law or the Constitution, but not for the casual presidential observer. That being said, I did learn quite a bit about the legal side of the Presidency – it just took a little while to get through it. This book does show just how much of an impact a perceived “ineffectual” president can have through his Constitutional legacy.

Author Michael J. Gerhardt also has written legal non-fiction works: The Power of Precedent and The Federal Impeachment Process.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

If you have no intention of reading this book, but are curious about the content, below is a video of a discussion with the author about the Presidents featured in this book:

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

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday #182

MM

Mailbox Monday!!  Just a few little books made their way into my home this week - truthfully, half of them are short stories or collections - not that bad right?!

a home for christmasdeath of a dishonorable gentlemanjourney to the wellthe accidental empressthe gingerbread bridethe yuletide bride

All the books this week were received on e-book, half of them are for review, and half are purchased for pleasure.

  • A Home for Christmas by MK McClintock (received for review from HFVBT) - This is a short story collection featuring 3 western historicals set during the Christmas season.  This year I decided to get into the spirit by reading a few Christmas historicals, and most of these happen to be short stories!  I actually read this one already - in one sitting - a LOVED them!  Can't wait to check out this author's other books and other Christmas books. 
  • Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen (received for review from HFVBT via Netgalley) - Awesome cover!  While I am not the biggest historical mystery fan, the cover drew me in and I'm willing to give this one a shot.
  • Journey to the Well by Diana Wallis Taylor (purchased from Amazon) - The Biblical story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  I have always had an interest in Biblical fiction because it makes me take out the Bible and investigate the story myself further.  This is one of those I know nothing about at all.
  • The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki (received for review via Netgalley request) - another gorgeous cover!  I have only just opened the first few pages of her prior novel, The Traitor's Wife, so I'm not choosing this book because I'm committed to the author, but the subject matter sounds fascinating - Empress Sisi.
  • The Yuletide Bride by Michelle Ule and The Gingerbread Bride by Amy Lillard (both purchased from Amazon) - books 5 and 6 in the Twelve Brides of Christmas series. 

 

I'm excited to dive into all of these.  What did you get this week?

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Review of The Culinary Lives of John and Abigail Adams

 

the culinary lives of john and abigail adams

 

      The Culinary Lives of John and Abigail Adams
       Rosana Y. Wan
       Schiffer Publishing, Ltd
       October 28, 2014
       152 pages
       56 recipes

      **Received for review from the publisher, via Netgalley**

 

 

This is the first cookbook that I received with the express purpose of reviewing it. Being that I love all things President and First Lady, and I already have a few cookbooks along this theme, this was a no brainer for me to accept.

Layout: Every recipe in this cookbook are recipes from cookbooks that existed during the lifetimes of John and Abigail Adams and the recipe selections are based on foods that they describe in their letters. There are excerpts from letters where they described different dishes that they had eaten or types of game that were caught. As the Adams’ were prolific letter writers there is a lot to work with. There is also a great introduction where colonial cooking styles are explained, with particular focus on New England. For the historically inclined there is also a timeline of John and Abigail Adams life. The selections in this book include everything from breakfast, to vegetables, to drinks and desserts. There are very few photos included in this cookbook – they are used more for section dividers rather than for showing the recipes.

Recipes: I would have to say that the recipes presented in this cookbook are fairly easy – I would feel safe saying that almost everyone could cook the recipes here. New England style foods are very sparse with ingredients and have simple preparation methods. Some of the recipes are as simple as: peel carrots, slice carrots, boil in salted water, drain and eat. I’m not even kidding – but this is how a lot of the foods would have been prepared at that time. The proteins probably have the highest levels of difficulty, but they are not too bad. I made the roasted chicken a couple weeks ago and it came out very good.

I would have to say that this is a well-researched historical cookbook. The recipes come from cookbooks that existed at the time and are based on things that the President and First Lady are known to have, at the very least, discussed. Short of a recipe book in their own handwriting, I think this is the next best thing.

A couple of recipes that I found interesting and might make: Roast Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce, Cod Stew, Cherry Pie, and Abigail’s Punch.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

 

Weekend Cooking

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

 

Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court