Friday, April 18, 2014

Tyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin - Book Review

I received a free ecopy of Tyringham Park from the publisher for my honest review.

About the Book:

The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitome of wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy. 

It is a beautiful day in 1917, and Tyringham Park is in an uproar after Victoria Blackshaw, an innocent toddler, disappears without a trace. The feverish search for Victoria soon uncovers jealousies and deceits that both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the grand estate have fought for years to keep hidden.

As time passes, Victoria’s disappearance casts a long shadow over all of their lives. Charlotte, the Blackshaws’ less-favored eight-year-old daughter, finds herself severely impacted by the loss of her sister. Charlotte’s greatest wish is to escape the con­fines of the estate, but Tyringham Park and its many mysteries may never release their hold on her. Like all those at Tyringham Park, she is caught in a web of passions and secrets, trysts and betrayals that seems to ensnare everyone connected to this once great house.

About the Author:

Rosemary McLoughlin is the bestselling author of Tyringham Park, her debut novel. She lives in Ireland with her family. Please visit

My Opinion:

I will start this review with a shocking statement - I have never seen and installment of Downton Abbey. That is important because this book has been called the Irish "Downton Abbey." I cannot write to that as I have no concept as to whether that BBC production is a depressing morass full of unlikable characters. I have no idea if the TV show goes on and on full of bad happenings to a family who should be on top of the world because of not having to worry about things like money and having enough to eat. I can tell you that Tyringham Park is inhabited for the most part by unpleasant, self centered, unaware idiots. Only a couple of the "downstairs" people are close to nice and even they have serious issues. Until a friend of the son of the family appears; but he gets sucked into the family.

Gah. I kept reading because I hoped that somewhere along the way something good would happen. That somewhere along the way redemption would be made. Perhaps it was after the ending. Perhaps the one good person in the book went on to live a happy life. I certainly hope so. He didn't deserve the Blackshaws. Neither did I but that doesn't mean the book wasn't well written. The characters were awful but the writing was very good. So this is a hard review to write. I enjoyed the descriptions of the places and the times but I really could have done without most of the people.


You can purchase Tyringham Park on

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baking for the Firemen - Cheesecake Tartlets with Lemon and Lime Curd

This was a special Baking for the Firemen - it was also the hubby's birthday so I wanted to send in a treat that he would really like. When his birthday rolls around he does not want a cake he wants pie - Key Lime Pie to be exact. He loves sharp, tart citrus flavors more than he likes things like cake or ice cream. I will be making him his very own Key Lime Pie this weekend when he can enjoy it but I wanted him to have a little taste of his favorite flavors when he had to work on his birthday.

Treats for the firemen have to be somewhat easy to eat as they really don't have lots of cutlery around to just sit there and eat a piece of cake with a fork. This is why most of what I send in can be picked up and eaten by hand. I thought little tartlets would be a perfect treat for this occasion. The Food Bloggers Challenge food this week is lime so I will be linking this up for that so if you are a fan of lime's bright flavor you will have some other recipes to enjoy.

Cheesecake Tartlets with Lemon and Lime Curd

Cheescake Tartlets with Lemon and Lime Curd


Makes 4 dozen tartlets (give or take a few for taste testing)

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBS cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/4 cup chilled shortening
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 - 3 TBS ice water

For the cheesecake filling:

10 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

For the lemon curd:

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
1 TBS lemon zest

For the lime curd:

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
4 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
1 TBS lime zest

fresh fruit to decorate the tops of the tartlets if desired - I used cherries and huckleberries

Make the pie crust dough:

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and shortening. Using a pastry blender or two knives cut in the fats until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the cider vinegar and 1 TBS of ice water. Mix the dough, adding more water a little at a time until it just comes together. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it until it forms a uniform dough. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

making citrus curd

While the dough is chilling make the curds. In a stainless steel bowl or double boiler over a pot of simmer water heat the sugar and citrus juice. Whisk in the eggs. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Make sure you are over simmering, not boiling water as you don't want this to happen too quickly or it will curdle. The change will happen in what seems like an instant so be aware so you can pull it off the heat as soon as it does. After you remove the mixture from the heat add the butter and stir it in until it melts. Run the curd through a strainer to remove any lumps. Stir in the zest.

Follow these instructions for the lime and for the lemon curd. Put the finished curds in the refrigerator to chill.

Make the cheesecake filling:

Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached. Beat it until it is smooth. Add the powdered sugar, the egg and the lemon juice. Mix until smooth. Set aside.

Make the tartlet shells:

making tartlets

Take the pie crust dough out of the refrigerator and cut it in half. Roll the dough out until it's about 1/4" thick. Using a 2" biscuit cutter cut out as many rounds as you can fit. Roll out the second piece of dough. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more rounds. Take mini cupcake tins and gently press the dough rounds into the tins. Poke holes in the bottom of the dough with a fork. Put the tins in the refrigerator to chill for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°

filling cheesecake tartlets

Take the tins out of the refrigerator and bake them for 7 minutes. Take them out of the oven and fill them with the cream cheese filling. Put them back in the oven and bake for 9 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Cheesecake Tartlets with Lemon and Lime Curd

Finish by topping with the curds; half with lemon, half with lime. I decorated mine with fruit for a little extra. I put huckleberries on the lime tartlets and 1/4 cherry on the lemon tartlets.

Cheesecake Tartlets with Lemon and Lime Curd

I sent four dozen of these into the fire meeting and not a single one came home. The hubby loved his extra special birthday treat. I erm, taste tested a few and I must admit they were pretty yummy. The sweet cheesecake with the tart curd made for a perfect flavor balance.

He told me that they were all gone within 10 minutes. I guess that's a testament to how delicious they were....

Be sure to check out the other recipes from the Food Bloggers using Lime:

Weekly challenge to push the creativity of food bloggers. Create an original recipe each week to accomodate the weeks ingredient. If you are a blogger that is interested in linking up your themed recipe, please join the Facebook group to learn how.

Perfiditas by Alison Morton - Blog Tour and Spotlight #PerfiditasTour

I am very pleased to spotlight the book, Perfiditas by Alison Morton for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours today. Please read about this very compelling novel:

About the Book:

Publication Date: October 17, 2013
SilverWood Books
Paperback; 288p
ISBN-10: 1781321248
Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova.
Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’├ętat thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country.
Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…
About the Author:

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.
A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…
INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is working on the third book SUCCESSIO which will be out in June 2014.

You can follow the Perfiditas Tour Schedule to find reviews and giveaways

Connect with author Alison Morton:

WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitterGoodreadsAmazon UK Author PageAmazon US Author PageINCEPTIO Facebook PagePERFIDITAS Facebook Page

You can purchase Perfiditas on
You can purchase Inceptio on

Watch the Trailer:

If you cannot see the trailer you can watch it on YouTube HERE

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