Product Review, review

Buona Caffe

It’s no secret I feel coffee is basically a food group. Iced, hot, whipped, I’ll drink however, whenever. I’ve been busy social distancing, so I’ve been brewing my coffee at home. Julie Sturgeon is an editor at Tule Publishing and she was lovely enough to send me a bag of coffee from artisanal roaster and coffee bar Buona Caffe in Augusta, Georgia. In business since 2010 and with their own cafe since 2013, Buona Caffe has a backstory as rich as their blend.

John and Pat Curry started roasting their own coffee beans in their kitchen, jumping into a new hobby that first caught the attention of friends. Soon, they were bagging their blends and selling it to the public in 2010. But as they were setting sail on their new dream of having a brick and mortar cafe, the couple received some news that shook their world.

In 2013, just as they were planning on opening their first location, John was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer. Between chemotherapy treatment, he received a temporary ileostomy, all while he and Pat kept working on Buona Caffe and the dream they held on to. Now cancer free and going strong, John and Pat are proud to say their coffee is not just served at their cafe, but sold wholesale, served locally, and now available online.

I have the Brazilian blend, which is a full bodied, organic blend that has a smooth flavor. There’s no acidic undertones to ruin it, if you enjoy your coffee black, and it has a nutty sort of taste I found delightful. Overall, I really enjoyed this coffee and as I read more into this small company, I enjoy their vibes even more. And I saw they even have a Stars Hollow blend for all the lovely Gilmore Girls fans out there!

John surviving colorectal cancer is also something that truly hits close to home with me. My mother-in-law also had stage III colorectal cancer and has been given a clean bill of health. Knowing first hand how colorectal cancer and having an ostomy appliance can really impact people’s lives and outlooks. While John dove into his coffee company and my mother-in-law started a nonprofit (The No You Cant’cer Foundation) not every cancer story has a happy ending. It really thrills me to see another cancer survivor living their best lives!

On their website it’s clear Buona Caffe is a community player. When you go to their homepage, the first thing you see is a way to purchase gift cards for heath professionals and first responders with 10% of those sales going to the Golden Harvest Food Bank. They even have a special First Responder’s blend you can purchase that has $2 of all sales going to the Covid-19 Emergency Response Team in Augusta, Georgia.

You can shop their coffee, gift cards, and merchandise on their homepage HERE. And don’t forget to check them out on all their social media platforms:

audiobook, book review, New Book, review

The Broken

My favorite time hopping series is back in audiobook form. That’s right, I’m talking about Echoes from the Past by Irina Shapiro. Today, I’d like to discuss the series’s grand finale, The Broken. As always, I will try to keep my review relatively spoiler free, but if I surprise you, remember this amazing series is on book eight!

  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
  • Genre: Historical and Contemporary Romance and Drama
  • Heat Rating: ♥♥

In 2015 Dr. Quinn Allenby is called to inspect the skeletal remains of an infant for the hit TV show Echoes from the Past, a program that “solves” old murders and deaths from centuries ago. A mother herself, the work is especially difficult, as the remains have been tampered with and the skeleton is new enough that, for the first time, the family might be still alive. But with the help of a broach found with the baby, she’ll work to put a name to the remains.

In 1955 nurse Helen meets David, who sweeps her off her feet. At first, their courtship is secretive, as Helen’s mother despises the thought of her only child being whisked away. And once they’re allowed to wed, Helen believes herself to be the luckiest woman alive. But when a chance discovery in her mother’s bedroom threatens not only her marriage, but her immortal soul, Helen will have to decide if the truth is worth her happiness.

Through the decades, a secret has been kept, one buried in the garden of an unassuming London home.

As always, I was immediately drawn into the story in a way I’m normally not when it comes to most books. Falling back into Quinn’s complicated life with her messy, extended family is always fun, as is following her into the past to untangle the life of someone who’s only left bones behind. Her tale is one of back stabbing siblings, unreliable parents, and a marriage stronger than most I read about. She has to fight for the shreds of normalcy like packing her daughter Emma’s lunch for school and setting up coffee meetings with her boss in between fact checking her visions.

Since this is the last book in the series, I’ll miss it greatly. The way Shapiro is able to weave the past and present together to form a seamless story is something I’ll always admire. She ended the series in a strong, yet organic, way where most storylines are tied up, and while the future is uncertain for some of the cast, they’ve all more or less ended up just where they needed to be.

Overall, and as always, I recommend this book, and all of Echoes from the Past to all contemporary and historical fiction fans who are looking for their next six glass slipper read.

book review, history, review, television

The Bonfire of Destiny

Hello, everyone! It’s freezing here in New Jersey, which means it’s time to binge read and watch until I can go outside without 64 layers on. So between my usual book reviews, I’ll be sharing shows I think you should be watching. And if it’s based on true events, I’ll give you the real deal.

The first show? The Bonfire of Destiny.

Genre: Historical Drama

Where to Watch: Netflix

In 1897 Paris, the aristocracy has descended on an annual charity bazaar to see the moving picture show, shop with all their wealthy friends, and generally be seen. It’s just one of the many social functions for the French elite who have no idea, tragedy will strike.

Adrienne is the unhappy wife of a politician who mistreats her terribly. Although he has just sent their daughter away to boarding school to punish Adrienne, she must still make an appearance at the bazaar. As soon as she shows her face, she slips back outside and into a waiting carriage, safe from the impending flames. But she’s not free from danger.

Alice, Adrienne’s niece, is thrilled to go out on the town with her maid Rose, both to do some shopping and to see a man she’s had her eye on. Wide eyed and wealthy, she’s has a good heart and doesn’t expect one small fire to destroy everything. And as those around her being sifting through the rubble, she sees everything in a new light.

Rose the maid is gearing up to sail to a new life with her husband Jean. She’s fiercely dedicated to Alice, and even goes back into the building to se if she can save her mistress before the fire gets out of hand. She enters the bazaar a nobody, and like a Phoenix, rises from the ashes.

The mood is electric and stories are intertwined as a fire both destroys lives and gives the chance for new ones. As the show goes on, murder, intrigue, and secret affairs are revealed with death in the background.

Even if historical shows aren’t usually your deal, the soapy dramas and lovable, and hatable, characters pull you in. The voiceovers are immaculate, and every episode leaves you wondering when the other shoe will drop.


Onto the facts! Starting in 1885, the Catholic aristocracy of Paris held the annual charity bazaar. It was a chance for the wealthy women and their maids to socialize while giving back to a good cause. But in 1897, everything would literally come crashing down.

The bazaar that year was held in a wooden building, where the inside was transformed into a medieval Paris street with the use of wood, papier-mâché, canvas for a roof, and other various other flammable things. Scheduled to last for four days, it was expected to be a hit.

More than 1,500 people were in attendance on the second day of the bazaar. Even Americans and other Europeans came to see the sites. One of the most notable was Duchess Sophie, the sister of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. At around four thirty, the projector in the small cinema caught on fire. The fire burned hot and fast, rapidly engulfing the building in flames and setting the cloth ceiling alight.

There were several exits, but none of them were clearly marked, and some were hidden behind the decorations. Many ran for the main doors, which were soon clogged with people. There were men in attendance, who were faster and stronger than the women, who struggled to move quickly in their mass of skirts. There were reports of men pushing women and children out of the way to escape first.

This was before the idea of modern fire safety. There was a fire brigade, but no contemporary hydrants or way for them to really put out the flames. People escaped though some of the exits, though many of the doors opened inwards and jammed when frantic people pushed against them. Those outside broke out windows to help people climb to the streets. Most notably, the cook and manager of the Hotel du Palais broke bars off a window and saved over 150 women while also poring water down on the flaming bazaar from the hotel.

But the fire moved quickly and soon it became too risky to try to save anyone else. People, mostly women, were still trapped inside. Their skirts were flammable, many had been trampled, and the walls and ceiling were beginning to fall. The fireman continued to spray the building as those inside screamed until the only sound that was left was the crackle of fire.

In the end, 126 people were confirmed dead while around 200 were injured. Many were so badly burned, they could only be identified by their jewelry. Some dentists were even called on to identify their patients by their teeth, one of the first uses of dental records in the identification of a body.

The aristocracy, and the Parisians at large, we’re shocked and demanded both an explanation and justice. In the end, it was officially noted to be an accident. But the public still wanted someone to answer for the tragedy.

The President of the Charity Bazaar Committee Ange-Ferdinand-Armand, the Baron of Mackau was the first. His charge was negligence, as he didn’t hire enough staff or ensure the doors were clearly marked. Then came the cinema operator Victor Bailac and his assistant Gregoire Bagrachow. Apparently, the light for the projector went out and the cinema staff had to hurry to relight the small flame. But in their haste, a mistake was made as the match they used lit the ether gasses that surrounded them. Soon, the drapery caught fire and the damage was done.

In the end, all charged were set to pay fines, and Bailac and Bagrachow were sentenced to short prison terms. Items found in the bazaar’s rubble were auctioned off and the lessons learned from the tragedy resulted in better fire safety laws in France.


I hope you enjoyed this little look into The Bonfire of Destiny. Check back soon for similar posts on shows like Vikings, You, Daybreakers, Banished, and more.

book review, review

The Husband’s Secret

Hi everyone! The reason I read this book is actually a funny story. I have a guy friend named Mike. He and I went to the bookstore and he pulled if off the shelf, insisting I buy it. Apparently, his aunt read it and told him details about it. The book hooked him so I was naturally curious. Click here for Amazon.

the husband's secret

Rating: 4/5 glass slippers

Heat Level: ♥♥♥

This book follows the lives of seemingly unrelated families. There is a married couple with a sex issue but three beautiful daughters. A couple on the verge of a break-up with a young son. And a mother mourning the loss of her daughter. They all live, for the majority of the book, in this one small town. This town is haunted by the memory of a teenage girl who didn’t make it home one night. The person responsible was never caught. Somehow all three of the families have some connection with the little girl. Just when secrets seem buried forever, something tragic happens that open them up wide.

 

I read this book in a sitting and was completely distracted. My poor husband, and the cats, and the laundry…everything was put on hold as I had to find out what happened. However, it was the ending that let me down a bit. It was not a happy one. But then again, it was how it had to end. I would have loved to given this book a five star review, but I felt there were some questions were unanswered. In other words, read the book for an entertaining evening, but recognize there is no happily ever after here.

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book review, review

The Inheritance

Today, I’d like to present to you Irina Shapiro’s first ever book, The Inheritance. Since The Inheritance was written, Shapiro has published dozens of heart pounding, tear jerking, stories of loss and survival, and it’s exciting to see where everything began.

  • Genre: Historical and Contemporary Romance
  • Narration Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers
  • Story Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️

In 2010 Katie Price is stunned when a man she never met leaves her a brewery and a castle in Scotland. She thought her grandfather had been dead for years, but as she goes to Scotland to inspect her inheritance with the help of local lawyer Danny, she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible.

In 1744 Isobel McBride enters an arranged marriage that leaves both parties miserable. Her husband is a careless brute who loves another and she craves the affection she thought she’d one day have. But another man offers her his heart, the entire future of the clan is in danger from more than just the coming war.

Two women two hundred and fifty years apart, brought together by a pile of love letters and a castle filled with memories.

It’s always so exciting to see how Shapiro writes her time hopping style of work. Each series and standalone book flip between worlds, connecting through memories, second lives, or faded letters in a hidden alcove. The methods she uses never grow stale and I’m always thrilled to see a new book in her collection.

I did have some issue with the narration. I think Wendy Wolfson spoiled me in her other work with Shapiro’s Echoes From the Past series and it was easier to find fault with the narrator in this book, particularly when it came to the Scottish accents. But as the book went on and I was drawn deeper into the story, it was easier to ignore.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish there was more of Katie’s story out there, particularly when it comes to her handsome Scottish lawyer.

New Book, review

Christmas in July

Merry Christmas…in July. It’s a heatwave here in New Jersey, making it the best time to stay inside and read books set in winter wonderlands. Today, I’ve compiled a short list of some sweet and spicy reads from Tule Publishing to get you in the holiday spirit.

Their Christmas Miracle by Lynne Marshall

Hunter is a talented cook who opened up his own diner. Tracy is a nurse who knows how to bake a mean pie. Together, they’re a recipe for perfection. But when Hunter becomes the guardian of his recently orphaned godchild, will his new bond with Tracy withstand a surprise, new addition?

Once Upon a Royal Christmas by Robin Bielman

After an embarrassing first impression, reporter Rowan thought she’d never see Prince Theo again. But Theo loves her small town and the antinomy of it all, even though he can’t hide from the throne forever. Will he follow his heart or his royal duties?

A Small Town Christmas by Nan Reinhardt

Wine maker and single dad Conor is struggling to save his winery and care for his daughter. Hot shot lawyer Samantha comes to his aid to keep his business in his hands. When close quarters breed new feelings, will these opposites give romance a try?

A Baby for Christmas by Joan Kilby

New widow Mia never expected to be in labor, in the snow, outside a stranger’s house. Recently single Will never expected to deliver a stranger’s baby. But sometimes, the unexpected can spark an unforgettable holiday.

All I Want for Christmas by Jennifer Gracen

Musician and bar owner Sean still pines for the girl who got away. But when she walks into his bar years later, will he get a second chance to make things right? He doesn’t think so, but he knows he’s up for the challenge.

A Match Made at Christmas by Patty Blount

After September 11th, Elena has more than just the emotional scars. A mysterious boy handed her an ornament at Ground Zero and she still carries it with her. Thirteen years later, she’s all grown up and meets the boy again, now a man named Lucas. After years apart and tragedy between them, can they find a way to heal?

Holiday at Magnolia Bay by Tracy Solheim

Navy Seal Drew is taking a leave from active duty after a death that left him shaken. Marine Biologist Jenna has made it her life’s mission to save wounded things. But when she’s sworn off military men and he’s not a fan of being coddled, are the holidays just what this pair needs?

A Merry Mountain Christmas by Trish MilburnWhen Heidi goes to a picturesque mountain town for the holidays, she takes a job at a Christmas decor shop. The owner, Ben, is all too happy to have her help…especially when he realizes she might be just what his life was missing.

This Christmas by Jeannie Moon

Single mom Sabrina is the epitome of a strong woman. But when the man who walked out on her all those years before rolls back into town, will she finally crumble under the pressure or make this Christmas one to remember?

The Christmas Window by Melissa McClone

Doggy daycare owner Callie wants to win the annual window display competition to prove to everyone she’s all grown up. Brandt never wanted to return to his small town, but life pulled him back. Opposites attract in this sweet romance, but will they make it through the holidays?

The Cowboy’s Christmas Bride by Laurie LeClair

When country star Cassidy is told she may never sing again, she goes back to her small town for some R&R. Ryder retired from bull racing to raise his daughter, but he’s in for another wild ride when the girl that got away rolls back into his life. Will Christmas give then a second chance, or is their romance nothing but a sad song waiting to be written?

Montana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen

Krista is only in the Marietta’s Secret Santa Society for a chance to reboot her career via tech genius Jonah. But business meetings melt into long chats over hot chocolate, and before long, the call of the mistletoe becomes too hard to ignore.

Christmas Lights and Cowboy Nights by Shelli Stevens

Rosa has no interest in a fling, much to the disappointment of ladies’ man Calvin. But when they’re forced together at a secluded ranch over Christmas, their attraction becomes hard to ignore.

A Texas Christmas Reunion by Eve Gaddy

When Savannah moves back home to Whisky River, she never expected her ex to be her new boss. Harlan knows he messed up all those years ago with Savannah, but wants to make things right by Christmas. Will he make this holiday one to remember or end up back on her naughty list?

Christmas, Alabama by Susan Sands

Photographer Rachael loves small town life, but doesn’t like her meddling family telling her to settle down. When a hot doctor moves into town and offers to play the part of fake boyfriend, she’s left wondering if everything is just pretend.


Have you read any of the books on this list? Let me know and have a happy Christmas in July!

book review, New Book, review

Sweetpea

Craving something dreadfully dark and fearfully funny? I just finished Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse.

  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Bloody Glass Slippers
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller/Comedy

There are few things in life Rhiannon truly loves. In no particular order, it’s her chihuahua Tink, her collection of Sylvanian families, and the feeling of blood on her hands. No, she doesn’t think she’s a complete psycho. After all, a Buzzfeed quiz said she doesn’t hit all the marks. Besides, is she really a psychopath when she only goes after sex offenders? It’s just community service.

On the outside, she lives a charmed life, despite the viral news story that shot her into fame as a child. She lives with her handy boyfriend in a nice apartment. Her job is good enough for someone without a fantastic education, and she gets on well with some of her coworkers. But when her mask slips and she forgets to pretend to be like them, more than one person becomes suspicious about who and what she really is.

Unlike when I write summaries for romances, this one was a little tricky. Rhiannon is a multilayered character who doesn’t always have a plan. She tells her own story through hilarious pop culture references with a matter of fact tone that makes it difficult to tell if she’s being serious. But Rhiannon doesn’t know how to be anything but.

Before reading the book, you think you’ll never side with a killer. But something about Rhiannon is charming and terribly likable. That’s what the experts say about psychos like Ted Bundy. Though if you ask Rhiannon, she’ll say she’s nothing like Bundy. She hasn’t been caught.

Time for me to start book two.