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!

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Bloggiesta - The Plan

So, here are my goals for this weekend. I don't know how much I will complete - I happen to be WAY behind on reading for reviews that are upcoming VERY, VERY soon. But I will try to still work in some of the tasks.

  • Update my Review Policy page -add a section about contest rules
  • Work on my calendar/scheduling for April
  • Create an Upcoming page
  • Finally create my Amazon store button (or maybe get help from my boyfriend on this one)
  • Update my To Be Reviewed widget and I Recommend widget
  • Update some links for my recent reviews
  • Create an actual description for my rating system
  • Respond to review request emails
  • Clean up my Google Reader subscriptions
  • Work on SEO
  • Consider Pinterest usage for the blog
Bloggiesta is being hosted at It's All About Books.  Click on the link to go to the starting line and participate.  I will cross out as I complete goals.

Challenge Updates

Pinterest @ Joy's Book Blog - added a board for Author Interviews, Reviews in 2012, and Weekend Cooking.  Also added a follow me on Pinterest button to the sidebar.  If anyone needs an invite to Pinterest let me know!

5 Ways to Spiff Up Your Book Reviews @ The Bluestocking Society - some helpful hints - ps. if you have been looking for HTML to add stars to your reviews, check out the website!

Get Noticed by Search Engines (SEO) @ Good Books and Good Wine - I updated one post, my review of The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick for ease of searching.  However to update all my posts is going to take forever and be a labor of love.

Windows Live Writer @ The Reading Housewives of Indiana - I might try using this for my posts - but it will take some getting used to.  UPDATE - I wrote and prescheduled my first post through Live Writer and it was actually very easy!  Here is a screen shot of my sample post in Windows Live Writer:

Summary/Wrap Up: I was able to get more tasks completed than I expected too and still get some reading in too.  I still have a lot to work on in terms of my SEO - that will be a long project.  I however didn't finish the one thing that was my #1 goal for this - revising my review policy.  I will get to it sometime this week.  Another great bloggiesta.  Thanks everyone for hosting challenges, giving advice and dropping by!

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware

A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware
Book 2 in the Time Travel Duo
ARC, Paperback, 480 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
March 1, 2012
goodreads button

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review from the Publisher
“A ‘stand-alone’ sequel to Midnight on Julia Street, this novel tells the story of Daphne Duvallon, a wayward southern belle and Juilliard-trained harpist, who returns to Natchez, Mississippi from New York’s cut-throat classical music world, weary from professional battles and personal despair. Still wounded from the uproar that ricocheted through her family when she ditched Jack Ebert, her philandering groom, literally at the altar, she has an unexpected rendezvous with her future when she meets Simon Hopkins, a nationally-renown nature photographer with a dark secret of his own. Reinventing her life as a jazz musician while sorting through a series of bizarre collisions with her nineteenth century ancestors—and Simon’s as well—Daphne begins to get the feeling that she might well be better off making her way as a second-rate musician at society weddings than as a wildly successful woman band leader whose past is deeply rooted in the ‘Land that Time Forgot.’”

I can’t say that I have read a novel set in the Deep South, but the “Land that Time Forgot” was a wonderful setting for A Light on the Veranda! Ciji Ware creates the entire experience for you from the food, to the gorgeous old mansions, to the music – and oh what wonderful music! I love music and the jazz that Ware features in this novel makes you just want to run out and attend a jazz concert – certainly one like the Aphrodites! She really makes you feel like you have been there yourself.

This was also my first experience with a “time slip” novel. While most of the story takes place in a contemporary setting, fragments of the novel are set in the 1800’s. With these segments we learn about the life of some of the family members of Daphne, and Sim, Jack, and others from around the Natchez area. These time slips fit perfectly into the story and helped move the plot along and provide Daphne with some interesting references regarding experiences she was going through at the time. They never felt jarring or out of place – I just wanted more of them! Through these time slips we get a sense of 19th century plantation life.

For the most part I enjoyed the characters. Jack is quite is evil villain – I would really not want to get on his bad side, let me tell you! Sim is a sweet guy with a lot of baggage but someone you can really get behind and root for. Daphne got on my nerves from time to time with her constant flip flopping and relationship woes – but based on some of her experiences it does make sense.

I didn’t realize that this was a sequel of any kind to Midnight on Julia Street, having not yet read that novel. I do believe the blurb that says this works as a standalone because I did not feel the least confused about the plot points or backstory.

I also have to give kudos to Ware on her inclusion of safe sex. Reading primarily historical novels I don’t usually encounter this issue, however contemporary novels don’t typically address the issue either. It almost felt a little shocking to me to actually see the issue raised in the book, but then I felt “way to go!”.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Ciji Ware:

a cottage by the sea
A Cottage by the Sea

island of the swans
Island of the Swans

a race to splendor
A Race to Splendor
[My Review]

midnight on julia street
Midnight on Julia Street (Time Travel Duo #1)

that summer in cornwall
That Summer in Cornwall (The Four Seasons #1)

that autumn in edinburg
That Autumn in Edinburgh (The Four Seasons #2)

that winter in venice
That Winter in Venice (The Four Seasons #3)

that spring in paris
That Spring in Paris (The Four Seasons #4)

Find Ciji Ware: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Music from A Light on the Veranda

As so much of A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware is about music, I just had to put together a player for some of the songs mentioned.  I arranged the songs sort of like the progression through the novel - classical to jazz.  Make sure you listen to Peel Me A Grape - a song from a dramatic portion of the novel.  Enjoy!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Couple of Winners...

I just wanted to take a few minutes today to announce the winners of the giveaways for Abby Finds Her Calling and both of the Christine Blevins giveaways.

First up, the two winners of Abby Finds Her Calling:

The winners are... Wendy Newcomb and Maureen Timerman!  Congrats!

Secondly, for the Christine Blevins Revolutionary Survival Kit, the winner is...

Teressa Oliver!!! Congrats!

And finally, for the copy of The Turning of Anne Merrick by Christine Blevins, the winner is...

Rhonda Lomazow!!!

Thanks to everyone that entered.  I currently have a giveaway running for a sample of the fragrance inspired by the new book The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose.

I am sending out the emails to the winners.  Please respond with your mailing information within 7 days or I will have to select a new winner.  Thanks!

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Giveaway - Fragrance from The Book of Lost Fragrances

I have the chance to offer a giveaway of a sample of the fragrance Ames Soeurs - the fragrance inspired by M. J. Rose's new book, The Book of Lost Fragrances.  Enter your information into the form below.  Open to US residents only.  Last day to enter is April 7, 2012.  Good luck!

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, March 23, 2012

Guest Post by M. J. Rose

Please join me in welcoming author M. J. Rose as we are treated to what led to the writing of the new novel, The Book of Lost Fragrances.  Such a fascinating story!

What Inspired The Book of Lost Fragrances?
Guest Post by M. J. Rose, author of
The Book of Lost Fragraces

I was reading Cleopatra (69 BCE to 30BCE), who was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, and found she was fascinated with and some say obsessed by scent. Marc Anthony built her a fragrance factory where he planted now extinct flora and fauna including groves of balsam trees (important in the creation of perfume at the time) confiscated from Herod.

In the 1980s a team of Italian and Israeli archaeologists believe they unearthed the factory at the south end of the Dead Sea, 30 km from Ein Gedi.

Residues of ancient perfumes along with seats where customers received beauty treatments were found there.

Cleopatra was said to have kept a recipe book for her perfumes, entitled Cleopatra gynaeciarum libri. The book has been described in writings by historians Dioscorides, Homer and Pliny the Elder. No known copy of the book exists today.

When I read about that book, I knew I had the idea for a new novel.
How fascinating?!  I have always loved reading or watching things about Cleopatra and I did not know about this fragrance factory.  I will have to check it out.  Thank you for writing this wonderful post.  It is the perfect trigger for a novel!

You can find M. J. Rose on her website or blog for further information about her books.

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Historical Spotlight: John Quincy Adams and The Amistad

Growing up in Connecticut I was exposed to the requisite amount of history class time spent learning about the Amistad.  For those of you that don't know, the Amistad was a slave ship that was overtaken by the Africans on-board and eventually came to be docked in New Haven, Connecticut.  From there a trial occurred to determine whether these Africans were free or if they should be returned to Spain or slavery.

One of the requisites of my 8th grade history class was to watch the movie version of Amistad - it had come out only a year or so before.  I remember the movie being powerful and moving, however I need to see it again to refresh my memory.  To that effect, I didn't remember that John Quincy Adams was involved in the Amistad trial until I read it in Paul C. Nagel's John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life.

John Q. Adams was the principal attorney for the Africans and defended their right to be free and not returned to Spain.  He made a speech that was approximately 8 hours long before he finally closed their argument.  His arguments ultimately won them their freedom.

Did you know that he never changed anyone for his legal fees?

I wanted to share some awesome references that I found in relation to JQA and this historic case:

Here is JQA's 8 hour speech-

Here are visuals of a letter written by JQA requesting the papers in relation to the lower court proceedings for this case which came prior to the Supreme Court - Pg 1 and Pg 2 -

And finally, here is a video clip from the Amistad movie representing JQA's 8 hour speech as performed by Anthony Hopkins:

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Audiobook Review: John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life

John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul C. Nagel
Unabridged, 18 hr. 48 min.
Blackstone Audio, Inc
Jeff Riggenbach (Narrator)
October 8, 2009
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Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Source: Downloaded audio from my local library
“John Quincy Adams was raised, educated, and groomed to be President, following in the footsteps of his father, John. At fourteen he was secretary to the Minister to Russia and, later, was himself Minister to the Netherlands and Prussia. He was U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and then President for one ill-fated term. His private life showed a parallel descent. He was a poet, writer, critic, and Professor of Oratory at Harvard. He married a talented and engaging Southerner, but two of his three sons were disappointments. This polymath and troubled man, caught up in both a democratic age not to his understanding and the furies of passion, was an American lion in winter.”
John Quincy Adams is one of the presidents that we learn about in school mostly under the preface of “he was the son of John Adams” and his failure of a presidency and time spent as a Congressman are sometimes highlighted. One aspect that we are almost never treated to is his private life, interactions with his parents, his wife, and his children. Paul C. Nagel sets out to provide us with an insight into Adams private life as well as feature his public life. There is a nice preface to the book where Nagel spell out exactly what he sets out to do any why – the why is the part you almost never get and it was a nice touch.

The first thing that I enjoyed about this book was the fact that the author frequently refers to John Quincy Adams as JQA – which made me feel like we were in-sync because that is what I always refer to his as too! This book also really made me feel for JQA as a person. I sort of felt bad for him – he wanted a left very different than that which he led. He wanted to be a writer and would much rather have been left to his rhetoric and learning than to be pushed into politics.

We also get to see a much more personable side to one who is always portrayed as a cold person. We see a loving relationship with his wife, Louisa, which is not common in other sources and the relationship feels more real. We see how his relationship with his mother was contentious, at best, as she was always sticking her nose into his life and pushing him to be what she wanted.

The author did a great job and portraying JQA as someone that was flawed but could still be admired and brought a personable portrayal that was long overdue.


I don’t have much to say about the narration of the audio – it was standard reading – nothing flowery etc. Not bad but not exciting either.

You can listen to a sample from the audio below (links to Audible).

Play symbol 85x85

Reviews of this book by other bloggers: 

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

Also by Paul C Nagel:

the adams women
The Adams Women

descent from glory
Descent from Glory

the lees of virginia
The Lees of Virginia

this sacred trust
This Sacred Trust

one nation idivisible
One Nation Indivisible

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mailbox Monday #103

Well this week my mailbox was entirely school related - but that's not a terrible thing.  I have to start gathering my research for my paper on the historiographical issues/debate of the Norman Conquest of 1066.  I spent an intense 12 hours working on the proposal and putting together/collecting my sources this week (including a mild panic attack that this was never going to work and I would drop out of school!  I still haven't went into the online classroom to read the other student's proposals!)

I bought a Kindle a few weeks ago - primarily to save me on textbook and research material costs for this class, and it is already starting to pan out.  I was able to acquire 5 of the books I was looking for and they were all free!

Anyway, here are the great sources that I have acquired - some of which I might have read even without this project:

  • Makers of History: William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott – Kindle
  • The History of England from the Norman Conquest to the Death of John (1066-1216) by George Burton Adams – Kindle
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – Kindle
  • The Bayeux Tapestry: The Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest by John Bruce Collingwood – Library
  • The Debate on the Norman Conquest – Historiographical Issues by Marjorie Chibnall – Amazon
  • The History of the Norman Conquest of England its Causes and its Results, Vol 4 by Edward Augustus Freeman – Library
  • The History of England, Volume 1 by David Hume – Kindle
  • A Short History of England, Ireland, and Scotland by Mary Platt Parmele – Kindle
The Chibnall book is the one that cemented my research topic for me.  A whole book on historiographical issues on the the topic I chose!  What are the chances of that?!  Anyway, there is A LOT of reading in my future and please forgive me if I am not around too often!

Did you get any awesome books this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of March is being hosted at Diary of an Eccentric.

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bloggiesta 2012 is Almost Here

It is almost that time again - Bloggiesta time!!!  It is being hosted this year by Suey at It's All About Books (you can click on this link to sign up).  Bloggiesta will be March 30th - April 1st.  We all have things that we know we have needed to do to clean up our blogs for awhile - and this is the perfect opportunity!  It is a fun experience with friends all doing the same thing.  Last year I accomplished SO much and I have some things to catch up again with this year - especially since I have been focusing on school and not doing little housekeeping things.  I don't know that I will be able to dedicate quite as much time as last year, but any amount will be an improvement!  Hope to see some of your there too! 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Weekend Cooking: Tea Sandwiches

We went to a tea party event about a year ago and I LOVED the tea sandwiches that they had there and have wanted to make something similar pretty much since the event ended. I finally decided that today was the day and I was going to use two recipes from the Entertaining Newport cookbook – they held teas all the time, they must have perfected the recipe!
The Tea House is in the lower left with Marble House in the background

Here is a little historical tidbit about Newport and tea parties. Marble House, one of the beautiful Newport Mansions, has a Chinese Tea House on its grounds – which I honestly don’t remember seeing when I toured it, but rest assured it is there. You can even host social or business events there today if you have the funds!

Close up of the Tea House
The Tea House was formally opened on July 25, 1914 and for the next 3 years it served as a local rallying point for the “Votes for Women” movement. Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and her daughter Consuelo, 9th Duchess of Marlborough, were vocal supporters of the women’s suffrage movement. She even had special china ordered with the motto “Votes for Women” emblazoned on it. The tea house was closed in 1917 when Mrs. Belmont left the property to never return to the home again.

Some Votes for Women replicas in the Mansion store

Here are a couple of the recipes that accompany this section:

Cucumber Sandwiches
Makes 12 sandwiches

2-3 Tablespoons butter, softened
8 extra-thin slices brown bread or canned brown bread
2/3 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1) Spread a thin layer of the butter over 1 side of each bread slice
2) Combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, and onion in a bowl and mix well. Spread over the butter on 4 bread slices.
3) Divide the cucumber evenly among the 4 bread slices. Top with the remaining 4 bread slices
4) Trim the crusts from the sandwiches, and cut each sandwich into 3 fingers or your desired shape.

Smoked Salmon Mousse on Toast Points
Makes 20

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 Tablespoons cold water
¾ cup sour cream
8 oz fresh salmon, poached and flaked
2 teaspoons grated horseradish
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Buttered toast points – white or pumpernickel bread

1) To prepare the mousse, sprinkle gelatin over water in a heavy 1 quart saucepan and let soften for 1 minute. Cook over low heat, stirring, until gelatin is dissolved.
2) Add ¼ cup sour cream and cook over low heat, whisking constantly to prevent clumping, about 3 minutes.
3) Transfer to a bowl and stir in salmon, horseradish, dill, salt, pepper, and remaining ½ cup sour cream. Chill, covered, until firm, about 1 hour.
4) Serve on buttered toast points and garnish with fresh dill

Okay, for us one of these was a hit and the other a total miss. I loved the Cucumber Sandwiches. The only change that I made to the recipe was to use a French baguette instead of brown bread as I’m not a fan of brown bread and had them as individual sandwiches. My boyfriend doesn’t like cucumbers so he had them with just the spread and we both enjoyed them immensely. The spread itself would even be good on a bagel in the morning – we have leftovers and that is what I am planning on doing with them.

The Salmon Mousse was a real miss. First of all, where is the “smoked” in the recipe? I bought smoked salmon to solve that problem. Second, it didn’t come out like a mousse at all. A mousse is supposed to be light and airy, again another problem here since it is nothing like that. The gelatin was weird, however I tried it. It tasted like sour cream and chunks of salmon – nothing like a mouse. Next time I think I will use the same spread as the cucumber sandwiches and just add the flakes of salmon on top of the spread. That would have been very good, and I should have just listened to my first impression when I saw the gelatin. Neither of us enjoyed this sandwich.

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

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: Look to the East by Maureen Lang

Look to the East by Maureen Lang
Book 1 in The Great War Series
Paperback, 368 pages
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
September 2009
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Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Holly at Bippity, Boppity, Book in a giveaway
“A village under siege. A love under fire. 
France, 1914 
At the dawn of the First World War, the small village of Briecourt is isolated from the early battles while a century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. But when the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud are forced to work together to hide stragglers caught behind enemy lines. 
Juliette Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the men in hiding—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s flirting with danger. 
Charles Lassone has been waiting in the church cellar, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will threaten the entire village—including Julitte—and could cost Charles his life.”

This was a series that I have been dying to read for awhile because it is set during The Great War (WWI) and I have not read anything set during that era. I have had books 2 and 3 but was having a difficult time finding book 1. I can honestly say that this was worth the wait!

This book takes place in a small village in France where the villagers had a feud like the Hatfields and the McCoys. Throughout the book we meet characters from both sides of the feud and see them grow and come together during a time of great turmoil for their town. It shows how in the face of adversity things can be put aside for the time to deal with a greater issue.

This is a Christian fiction novel and the religiosity is upfront but not the absolute focus of the entire novel. The main character, Julitte, prays at many times throughout the novel but it is very fitting within the events they are going through. She questions God and how they could be put through such events. These are common occurrences during times of war and created a depth to her character and felt very fitting and believable to the setting.

The beginning of the novel was my only issue with the whole book. It was a little slow and awkward. I think it needed a little more in the exposition of introducing us to the characters. Once we get into the war period, the story comes together, it picks up and charges to the end. One of the strongest aspects of the novel is the emotions of the characters. You can vividly feel the fear, love, and internal struggles that they face and were the aspect that really helped suck you into the story.

The main character of book 2 is mentioned briefly in passing in this book and I can’t wait to find out more about her.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Also by Maureen Lang:

the oak leaves
The Oak Leaves (Oak Leaves #1)

on sparrow hill
On Sparrow Hill (Oak Leaves #2)

whisper on the wind
Whisper on the Wind (The Great War #2)

springtime of the spirit
Springtime of the Spirit (The Great War #3)

bees in the butterfly garden
Bees in the Butterfly Garden (The Gilded Legacy #1)

all in good time
All in Good Time (The Gilded Legacy #2)

Find Maureen Lang: Website | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest 

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court