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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

the lifeboat

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Unabridged, 7 hr. 47 min.
Hachette Audio
Rebecca Gibel (Narrator)
March 23, 2012

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Downloaded audio from my local library

“Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.”

This is one of those novels that is reminiscent of the Titanic disaster, but isn’t about that event. The events that transpire might actually be worse (more dramatic) than the Titanic, if that is possible. It is a compelling story of survival that really makes you think what you would have done given the same situation.

As the title and description above indicate, the ship the passengers are traveling aboard encounters some disaster and the passengers have to disembark aboard lifeboats. These early events happen rather quickly at the beginning and you never get a complete sense as to what sort of disaster the ship encountered – I guess it didn’t matter for the passengers (who might not have really known what happened), but as the reader I wanted to know more. Set just 2 years after the Titanic’s fateful journey, it is reasonable that the characters, crossing the Atlantic, might have drawn parallels to the Titanic themselves. Once in the lifeboats, the deterioration of humanity as time passes and the situation worsens is extremely palpable and believable. It goes from a sense of not-so-bad, we will be saved, to udder desolation, panic, and the making of decisions that would never have happened under “normal” situations.

I thought the author did a wonderful job with the characters. Seeing their “real” selves come out as the situation worsens felt very believable. There were only a few small aspects of characterization that were a miss for me. The first was in Grace’s husband. I think I was supposed to care a lot more that Grace didn’t know if he was safe in another lifeboat or not; however, the author didn’t do enough in the few short passages early on where he was present to make me care at all about what happened to him. I also never had the sense that there were ever thirty people in the lifeboat. We only ever really hear about ten or so, so I had a hard time gauging how severe the situation was based on the overcrowding.

I couldn’t believe how the events that transpired became the fodder for a murder trial (this isn’t a spoiler, it comes out in the first few pages of the novel). A matter of life and death, loss of rationality, can lead to negative consequences. It was interesting seeing how Grace would navigate this tricky situation.

This was a novel that kept me on the edge of my seat and waiting the next time I could pick it back up.



The narrator was very effective at evoking the various characters, personalities, and emotionally charged conversations that ensued. Job well done.

This is author Charlotte Rogan’s debut novel. You can visit Rogan’s website 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?

You can also watch the author speak in a short video about the premise of the novel.

There was also a note on the author’s website that Anne Hathaway is set to produce and star in a movie adaptation on this novel – which I think would be pretty cool!

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 © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Modernized Historical Figures

You may have already seen this as it has been floating around Facebook for the last week or so, but The Telegraph had this interesting feature where they took 5 historical figures (Lord Nelson, Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Marie Antoinette, and Elizabeth I) and brought them into the modern times.  It is actually pretty cool.  I really like what they did with Lord Nelson the most I think.  So check it out and stop back and let me know what you think and/or who was your favorite!

How Historical Figures Would Have Looked Today via The Telegraph


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mailbox Monday #156


Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you are having some great fall days.  I took today off from work to put some effort into my research for my paper on the the Battle of Actium – so I guess I better actually get on that!  But here is a quick recap of my mailbox this week:


  • A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton (received from publisher for review).  I thought that this one sounded like such an interesting premise.  I tend to be drawn to books that a “A History of the World in…”.  There are some pretty cool visuals in this book and I love the way each chapter is broken up into one map and they span time from the very, very early up to Google Maps.
  • Wilson by A. Scott Berg (audiobook from publisher through Audiobook Jukebox).  Another book to read as a part of my Presidential series.  I don’t know much about Wilson and this is 26 cds, so I should learn something right?

What did you guys get this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of October it is being hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mailbox Monday #155


Another late Mailbox Monday to bring to you all – but late is better than never.  I have only one book this week and you won’t have to wait too long to see my review of it – scheduled for November 11th. 


  • A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift (received from publisher for HFVBT tour).  I have enjoyed my prior Swift novel and have awaited this one with anticipation.  I also had the opportunity to be a part of a panel with her at this past summer’s HNS conference. 

That’s it for me – how about you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of October it is being hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013 HF Readers Survey

Hey everyone-

I wanted to let you know about a survey opportunity for us readers of the genre.  Again this year M.K. Tod, in conjunction with Richard Lee of the Historical Novel Society, have put together questions to help uncover trends in the HF reading community.  These questions focus on things such as social media usage, demographics, preferences, etc.

I encourage you to take 5-10 minutes to complete the survey and pass this on to anyone else you know or post about it on your blogs.  The more the merrier!

Here is the survey link.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener & Giveaway

Banquet of Lies cover

Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener
E-book (Kindle), 352 pages
Gallery Books
October 22, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review as part of HFBRT tour

“LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.

Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.

Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible.”

I have read several books lately where the main character is a chef and there are ample descriptions of foods – enough to make you hungry while reading it. This time we are treated to some fancy French cuisine that made me yearn for the French restaurant we visited on our cruise. Food is one of those things that connect a memory with an experience and it is interesting to see a book partially told through food.

Besides the food, this book has action from the word go. There was intrigue, a touch of love story, and great characters. There were also some elements of an upstairs/downstairs storyline which kept things interesting. The ending was also something that I certainly did not see coming. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then was completely surprised – pleasantly so, because it was a better ending than I expected.

Even through the general storyline concept of a lady masquerading as a cook was a little unrealistic, I enjoyed the story overall none-the-less. The characters were entertaining and it was a fast paced read. I would certainly read some of the other novels by this author.

Author Michelle Diener also has written Daughter of the Sky, In a Treacherous Court, Keeper of the King’s Secrets, Dangerous Sanctuary, In Defense of the Queen, and The Emperor’s Conspiracy. You can visit Diener’s website for additional information about the book.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

Banquet of Lies Tour Banner FINAL

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

I have one copy of Banquet of Lies to giveaway to one lucky reader from the USA.  Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below for your entries.  The last day to enter is November 3rd. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Presidential Cook Books

Weekend Cooking

So, for this installment of Weekend Cooking, I thought I would try something a little different. There is no actual cooking involved. Also, since I have been furloughed during this government shutdown and not getting paid right now so I can’t actually shop, I figured I would do some virtual wishful shopping – Weekend Cooking style!

As you know I tend to like some historical related recipes. I have recently made a list of Presidential themed historical cookbooks that are on my want this and wanted to share some of them with you. When I eventually start getting paid, maybe you might see some of these recipes appearing here.

The Washington Years:

  • Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, Hospitality from Mount Vernon – Published by The University of North Carolina Press, 2011

dining with the washingtons

“Combining vivid photography with engaging essays, Dining with the Washingtons explores the menus, diet, and styles of entertaining that characterized the beloved home of the nation's principal founding father.

Compelling accounts, historic artwork, and images of gardens, table settings, prepared food, and objects from the Mount Vernon collection blend to shed fresh light on the daily lives of George and Martha Washington, on their ceaseless stream of household guests and those who served them, and on the ways food and drink reflected the culture of eighteenth-century America. Featuring a foreword by former White House executive chef Walter Scheib and more than 90 historic recipes adapted for today's kitchens by renowned culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump, this book is ideal for veteran and novice cooks alike as well as for those wishing to learn about both formal and everyday dining at Mount Vernon. Drawing from a wide range of sources, including memoirs, diaries, plantation documents, archaeological research, and the personal correspondence of the Washington family and their visitors, this charming volume brings the household of America's first president and his wife vividly to life for modern-day readers.”

The Jefferson Years:

  • Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance – Published by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2005

dining at monticello

“Among Thomas Jefferson's flaws, according to Patrick Henry, was the manner in which "he has abjured his native victuals in favor of French cuisine." While Jefferson's years in Paris enhanced his fondness for French food, the offerings at Monticello incorporated Continental cuisine with more common Virginian fare, yielding a celebrated blend of cultures and traditions. Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance combines recipes, background essays, and lush illustrations to provide an inviting view of the renowned hospitality offered at Thomas Jefferson's table.

Ten introductory essays by Monticello scholars and by outside experts illuminate all areas of food and drink at Jefferson's home, ranging from the groceries and wine imported from Europe, to the restored kitchen at Monticello, to the African Americans who participated in this rich food culture at every stage. Following these essays are seventy-five recipes found in the family manuscripts, some written in Jefferson's own hand.

Updated by Damon Lee Fowler, author of Classical Southern Cooking, the recipes are authentic to the period yet accessible to the home cook. Filled with anecdotes, recipes, solid information, and beautiful color photography, this book satisfied both hunger and curiosity.”

  • Thomas Jefferson’s Cook Book – Published by Lillie Ross Productions, 2004

thomas jeffersons cook book

“Thomas Jefferson's little granddaughter, Virginia Randolph carefully copied the recipes he brought back from France, as well as his favorites from Monticello and the White House.

The result was Jefferson's personal one-of-a-kind cookbook. It was handed down for generations from mother to daughter as a priceless possession. In the late 1930s, Fanny M. Burke… great-great granddaughter of Jefferson… presented the book to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation shortly before her death. Ms. Burke joined with the Foundation in giving noted historian, Marie Kimball permission to prepare it for publication.

Mrs. Kimball fully adapted Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book to practical, modern use. All the recipes were proportioned to our current practice of a formula for serving six people. Each recipe was tested. It is not only correct, but tastes great!”

The Monroe Years:

  • Monroe Family Recipes – Published by Ash Lawn-Highland, 1994

monroe family recipes

While there isn’t a formal description available, this 35 page book carries recipes as the Monroe’s would have cooked them, and also a modern translation.

The Lincoln Years:

  • Honest to Goodness: Honestly Good Food from Mr. Lincoln’s Home Town – Published by The Cookbook Marketplace, 1990

honest to goodness

While these recipes did not specifically belong to the Lincoln’s, the come from the town that they lived in for quite some time and there is the likelihood that the did make some of them.

Honest to Goodness celebrates honestly good food from Mr. Lincoln's hometown: native Illinois pork, beef, corn, garden-crisp vegetables, dew-fresh strawberries, and rich, ethnic dishes inspired by our forebears. A Winner of the 1990 Midwest Regional Tabasco Community Cookbook Award. These recipes, beautiful artwork, and historical commentary impart the rich history of Illinois' capital city.”

The Truman Years

  • The Bess Collection – Published by Junior Service League of Independence, Missouri, 1993.

the bess collection

“This cook book includes a brief biographic history and photographs of Bess Truman, former first lady and wife of Harry S. Truman. These are recipes that were Bess' favorites and the recipes are supplemented by offerings from the Missouri Junior League.”

So, do any of these speak to you?  Do you have any of these?  Do you have or know of any other Presidential themed books?  I already have Provisions & Politics: Recipes Honoring First Lady Sarah Childress Polk and Montpelier Hospitality (the Madisons).


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


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mailbox Monday #154


Welcome to another delayed edition of Mailbox Monday (on Thursday).  I have several things to share with you today.


  • Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen (received audio download from publisher) – I have read one and have another of Cullen’s books on my shelf to read.  Poe has always intrigued me, and the story of his wife even more so.  Interested in checking this one out.
  • Shakespeare’s Restless World by Neil MacGregor (received from publisher) – I have been seeing a trend lately in terms of non-fiction books that look at the actual world the regular people lived in, rather than the royals.  This takes on Shakespeare’s time.
  • Girl on the Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson (downloaded from Netflix via publisher) – I have been waiting to see this one come to life for a little while.  I met Marci at the HNS Conference in San Diego a few years ago, and she was just delightful.  I can’t wait to learn about Frances Stuart.
  • Anvil of God by L. Boyce Gleason (received from publisher) – I am partaking in the HFBRT tour with an interview of the author, and this is prep material.  Love the idea of the Carolingian time period.
  • Stillwater by Nicole Helget (received from the publisher) – Underground Railroad, Civil War, frontier town Minnesota – interesting premise.  Simply, had to have it!

How about your mailbox?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of October it is being hosted by Book Dragon’s Lair.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey & Giveaway

confessions of marie antoinette

Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
Book 3 in Marie Antoinette Trilogy
ARC, Paperback, 466 pages
Ballantine Books
September 24, 2013

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review for HFBRT tour

“Confessions of Marie Antoinette, the riveting and sweeping final novel in Juliet Grey’s trilogy on the life of the legendary French queen, blends rich historical detail with searing drama, bringing to life the early years of the French Revolution and the doomed royal family’s final days.

Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.

Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains above all a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen and her family try to flee, and she secretly attempts to arrange their rescue from the clutches of the Revolution, they cannot outrun the dangers encircling them, or escape their shocking fate.”

The final installment of Grey’s trilogy of Marie Antoinette covers the final portion of the queen’s life, the downfall of the monarchy. I find this phase of Marie Antoinette’s life to be full of all the real drama she faced – not just the petty stuff, but the time when everything become very real for her. MA goes from being entirely ensconced in her dream world of plays, fripperies, and dances to the gritty world of the people in their revolution. Decisions become a matter of life and death – and each decision has to be weighed out. This is some pretty heavy stuff and is the more serious in tone of the three novels. Despite the tendency of the events toward the macabre, Grey does a great job of continuing to evolve the character of Marie Antoinette and Co. Like other novels where you know from the start that the ending is going to be anything but happy, the author puts you into the mind of Marie Antoinette and makes you believe that there is a chance that the outcome could be different.

Out of the three MA novels I think I liked this one the least (despite my giving them the same star rating) and I can’t exactly place the reason. It might be because of the heavier tone.

There was one thing that I didn’t really like in the style of the novel and that was the usage of another narrator, a member of the revolutionaries, in addition to Marie Antoinette. From what I remember from the first two novels, Marie Antoinette was the sole narrator, so I didn’t really like the addition of this new narrator that I didn’t have a history with already. I understand the inclusion of this narrator – with the first person narration of MA you miss out on what is really happening on the street during the Revolution – but I think I would have liked the flow better without this second narrator.

Overall, as a whole, this series does a great job in my opinion of representing the complete Marie Antoinette and her evolution of character.

Author Juliet Grey also has written the prior books in the series Becoming Marie Antoinette and Days of Splendor Days of Sorrow. You can visit Grey’s website 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).

Confessions of MA Tour Banner FINAL

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

I also have a giveaway of one copy of Confessions of Marie Antoinette up for grabs to a US resident as part of the tour.  Giveaway is open until October 27th.  Submit your entries through Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: Illuminations by Mary Sharatt & Giveaway


Illuminations by Mary Sharratt
Hard Cover, 288 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
October 9, 2012

Genre: Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction

Source: Received from author for review and also as part of HFVBT tour

Illuminations chronicles the life of Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179), who was tithed to the church at the age of eight and expected to live out her days in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned but disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. Instead, Hildegard rejected Jutta’s masochistic piety and found comfort and grace in studying books, growing herbs, and rejoicing in her own secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died some three decades later, Hildegard broke out of her prison with the heavenly calling to speak and write about her visions and to liberate her sisters and herself from the soul-destroying anchorage.

Like Anita Diamant’s portrayal of Dinah in The Red Tent, Mary Sharratt interweaves historical research with psychological insight and vivid imagination to write an engaging and triumphant portrait of a courageous and remarkably resilient woman and the life she might have lived. Deeply affecting, Illuminations is a testament to the power of faith, love, and self-creation.”

This was one of those books that I wasn’t sure I would be into because of the subject matter. I have had bad luck in the past reading novels that are set essentially entirely in a nunnery/church/etc. I also had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen or Jutta von Sponheim. However, everyone I spoke with had nothing but great things to say about the book and highly recommended it. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed with this book.

Apparently a lot can happen within two small rooms with a high-walled courtyard and only a small screen to see out into the church. It was a very emotional novel - really getting into the mind of Hildegard, Jutta, and their other followers. There was a lot of drama between these girls – as you would expect across time and place with any group of women enclosed in a small space over a long period of time. Hildegard really grew as a character; I can’t say I always liked her or agreed with her, but when she set her mind to something she went for it – and that I admire. Unlike the other novels that I have read set in a church setting it was still engaging for the reader and not at all boring. Although the book was relatively short the way the novel was written it made it feel much longer.

Even only having a passing interest in religious figures and events I found the book very interesting. The pace of prose moved right along and the characters kept me connected to the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Christian subjects or really to anyone interested in a well written psychological story.

Author Mary Sharratt also has written several books including: Daughters of the Witching Hill and Vanishing Point. You can visit Sharratt’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).

Illuminations Tour Banner FINAL

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

I also have a giveaway opportunity for all of you – one copy of Illuminations by Mary Sharratt.  It is open internationally!  Giveaway is open until October 27th.  Make your entries in the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review: Asenath by Anna Patricio


Asenath by Anna Patricio
ARC, Paperback, 222 pages
Imajin Books
September 24, 2011

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Source: Received from author for review

“Two Destinies...One Journey of Love

In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman's daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.

When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.

Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace...and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master's wife and thrown into prison.

Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?”

I picked up this book because it is set in Ancient Egypt, a setting that I absolutely adore. I didn’t have any idea that it was based on the Biblical story of Asenath and Joseph (of the Coat of Many Colors fame). So I not only got a story set in Egypt, but also a little more Biblical knowledge to boot (because of course I then went and looked up the Biblical passages). I always find it so interesting to see how an author takes what is typically just a few short sentences from the Bible and can turn it into an entire novel.

One of the strengths of the author was creating a vivid world in which her characters existed. It was very palpable and visible. It was almost its own complete character. One of the areas I found to be a little weak was in characterization; they seemed to belong to either pole – pure or evil. With this tendency, I became quite frustrated with some of the characters from time to time.

The pacing of the book also could use some improvement. It was difficult to get into the book, even though there was action right from the first sentence. I think the issue was that we didn’t know any of the characters yet to get the emotional punch that the scenes intended. That was a real missed opportunity. While the beginning moved too quickly, there were other parts that were much too slow. Asenath was frequently too introspective and this was a common cause of the drag.

Overall, the story was an entertaining, short, quick read.

This is Anna Patricio’s debut novel. You can visit Anna’s blog for additional information about the book.

You can also watch the book trailer below.

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 © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Back-Up of Giveaway Winners

Holy cow do I have several winners to announce!  It has been crazy around here for sure.  But anyway – here are your winners of the last 3 giveaways!
The winners of Queen’s Gambit are:
  • Mamabunny
  • Carl Scott

**Quick Update** A new winner has been drawn as Carl indicated that he had already received a copy of the book.  And that winner is…Anne F!!

The winners of The God’s of Heavenly Punishment are:

  • Gina Deckman
  • Kim Cree
  • Diana Silva

The winner of The Study of Murder is:

  • Jeffrey Tretin

Congrats everyone!!!  Emails have already been sent out to the winners – they have 5 days to respond or new winners will be selected.  Thanks everyone for the entries!

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: The Shogun’s Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland


The Shogun’s Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland
Book #17 in the Sano Ichiro Novels series
E-book, ARC, 337 pages
Minotour Books
September 17, 2013

Genre: Historical mystery

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

“Japan, 1704.  In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse.  Smallpox pustules cover her face.  Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, “Who’s going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?”

The death of the Shogun's daughter has immediate consequences on his regime. There will be no grandchild to leave the kingdom. Faced with his own mortality and beset by troubles caused by the recent earthquake, he names as his heir Yoshisato, the seventeen-year-old son he only recently discovered was his. Until five months ago, Yoshisato was raised as the illegitimate son of Yanagisawa, the shogun's favorite advisor. Yanagisawa is also the longtime enemy of Sano Ichiro.

Sano doubts that Yoshisato is really the Shogun's son, believing it's more likely a power-play by Yanagisawa. When Sano learns that Tsuruhime's death may have been a murder, he sets off on a dangerous investigation that leads to more death and destruction as he struggles to keep his pregnant wife, Reiko, and his son safe. Instead, he and his family become the accused. And this time, they may not survive the day.

Laura Joh Rowland's thrilling series set in Feudal Japan is as gripping and entertaining as ever.”

If this is what historical fiction set in Japan looks like, I’m in! I have always been hesitant to read novels set in Asia because the culture, especially in the historical sense, is very foreign to me and there is a lot that I do not really understand going into it. I was encouraged by this novel because the blurb reads like an adventure/thriller and that would help to keep it from being too mired in a culture I am very unfamiliar with. There were moments where I wasn’t sure what the characters were talking about or doing, like adding –san– sometimes to the end of someone’s name, but for the most part it was fairly easy to understand (or look up online). I found that the mystery kept the story moving and that the culture of feudal Japan was seamlessly woven throughout. I can say that I learned a lot about Japan and am intrigued about this era.

In many historical mystery type novels the mystery plot can tend to be rather thin and leave much to be desired or is too easy to figure out. In the case of The Shogun’s Daughter, we are given several viable suspects, and you might come up with some guesses, but it certainly wasn’t an obvious solution – which I very much enjoyed.

Although this is the 17th book in the series (of which I haven’t read any of the back list) I didn’t feel lost at all. There are certainly times that I can pin-point where I know a character or event is referencing something that must have happened in earlier novels, but you were always given enough information that it didn’t matter to your understanding. One such place is the relationship between Yanagisawa and Sano – you know a lot has happened between them to get them to the deep state of enmity that they are at now. I have a strong feeling that you can probably read most of the books in the series out of order – however reading chronologically will help with a deeper understanding of the characters.

Author Laura Joh Rowland also has written many other books in the Sano Ichiro series – you can find the complete list here. You can visit Rowland’s website 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?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

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

The Shogun's Daughter Tour Banner FINAL

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


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

George Washington Finally Has A Library!

As we have established by now, I am a big fan of all things presidential. I found this little piece of information that really surprised me this week and I had to share. Can you believe that of all of the American presidents, the first one, George Washington, didn’t have a presidential library until this past Friday?  It only took 200+ years.  I find that so unbelievable considering that his home is one of the most visited presidential homes and that other more recent presidents have libraries.


Main Entrance to the Library
Photo Credit:
Mount Vernon

The presidential library, officially known as The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. This library offers a great opportunity for scholars, employees of Mount Vernon, and also providing various special events to visitors. And if you can’t go to the Library to actually look at the collections, you can access some of them digitally from home. George Washington’s papers are available online for viewing by anyone. His papers cover everything from personal diaries to the Revolutionary War to the Presidential years.

The first special exhibit to be held at the Library is one focusing on George Washington as a reader. The exhibit looks at the types of books that Washington read – his primary focus was on politics, agriculture, religion, and military. You can read more about the exhibit here.

The library is absolutely gorgeous [you can check out more pictures here] and it is a new source of scholarship for those interested in the presidential history as well other Revolutionary period scholarship. If you want to know more about the library and stay up-to-date on events you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

There is also a short little video regarding the opening of the library and in discussion with the director.

I’m very impressed with this library.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court