book review, history

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Since beginning social distancing, I’ve been diving into my massive TBR list containing books that I’ve had waiting for months upon months. First up, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. It’s the memoir of Ludwig “Lali” Sokolov nee Eisenberg, called Lale in the book, and he was once the tattooer of Auschwitz.

  • Genre: Memoir
  • Overall Rating 5/6 Glass Slippers

In April of 1942, Lale arrived in Auschwitz-Berkinau. Due to his wit and talent for languages, he was soon made the tattooist’s apprentice, then the tattooist himself. He was put in the dangerous and prestigious position of tattooing the numbers on the arm of everyone who entered the camp. He had to be a cog in the Nazi machine, but was also able to help save a few lives.

His tattooing bag is a free pass through the camp, a sign of his status as an essential worker. He’s able to speak with guards, meet the workers from the nearby village who are building the crematoriums, and barter for food with goods slipped from the warehouse used to store and sort the stolen possessions of the prisoners. But Lale uses the most of his influence to keep someone special alive.

He first notices Gita’s dark eyes, and soon he’s smitten with the young woman in a way he can’t explain. He begs and steals, cutting deals to get her a job in the administration office where at least she’ll be warm in the long winter months. He trades hidden gems for chocolate with the village workers for her, and does everything in his power to make sure that when they’re free, they’ll have a future together. But first, they have to survive.

In college, I studied the Holocaust in depth, reading memoirs, taking classes, and taking advantage of my school’s Holocaust Resource Center where survivors would often come to speak. Overall, I found the memoir to be both heart wrenching, and a good lesson in humanizing what happened and how it changed the world. It’s easy to look at numbers in a text book and skim over the labels of Jew and Gypsy without really internalizing what those numbers truly mean. Lali wasn’t a number, nor were any of the other victims.

I wrote many papers on that part of history in my genocidal studies program, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dr. Mengele in particular. I found some inconsistencies in how Morris portrayed Mengele and his experiments, fabricating some parts perhaps for shock value, although what he did was so terrible without the additional attractions, I didn’t see the reason for them. There were other inconsistencies highlighted by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center, but I won’t go into because after all is said and done, this isn’t a history book, it’s a memoir based on the extraordinary life of one man.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and the story it told, even with the inaccuracies and simple phrasings. Memories, like memoirs, are tricky things, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the story of Lali Sokolov.

kids, New Book

The Princess and the Dragon

Now that my daughter’s reading, I’m constantly looking for new books to add to her already massive library. Today I want to show you a new release by author Mary Settle, The Princess and the Dragon!

We all know the story of Cinderella but what if she encounters a dragon? Come along on an adventure of a classic story with a modern twist, but be warned. Things are not always what they appear!

You can order you copy of The Princess and the Dragon on Amazon HERE!

book list, sale

Get Lucky

Love reading and romance? It’s your lucky day! No matter if you adore cowboys, bad boys, billionaires, or fantasy tales, it’s your chance to stock up on whatever you crave with Tule Publishing’s St. Patrick’s Day sale!

With the code Lucky50 at checkout in their online bookstore, all ebooks are 50% off until midnight on St. Patrick’s Day! That includes some of our books! You can start filling your cart HERE!

A seat on the throne or a place in her heart?

Greyson Montgomery dreams of a simple life, but as the crown prince of Aldora, simple is not in his future. Before ascending the throne on Christmas Eve, Greyson is given one month to explore how the other half lives. Armed with a few hundred dollars and a fake backstory, Greyson flies to Savannah, Georgia, to see if he has what it takes to chase the American Dream.

Scarlett Calhoun is a Southern Belle with a heart as big as a Georgia peach. When she meets the charming construction worker, Greyson, it isn’t long before she is embracing the holiday cheer. Soon, she’s teaching him how to cook, falling for his exotic accent and soulful eyes, and joining him on picnic lunches where they talk for hours.

With Christmas Eve nearing, Greyson must fly back to Aldora and either abdicate the throne, or take his rightful place as king. Will he ignore his birthright to remain with Scarlett or will she be royally abandoned?

Start reading Royally Abandoned HERE

When mistletoe is not enough…

With her only son still single, Mrs. Claus is rolling up her red sleeves and playing matchmaker. With a little advice from Cupid and a list of potential brides, she’s convinced a dash of magic will get the snowball rolling. There’s just one problem, Nick isn’t looking for love. All he wants to do is fill his father’s boots as he prepares to take over as Santa Claus.

While Mrs. Claus is scheming away, Nick meets Heather, a charming artist with a giving heart and a loving smile. Preparing for her first Christmas alone, Heather is looking for adventure. Nick becomes a kindred spirit as they both remember what it’s like to live in the moment. Just as they think they found a fairytale romance, Nick discovers his mother’s magical meddling.

With Christmas Eve quickly approaching, Nick must decide if his love for Heather was the real magic all along or if it was just the work of Cupid Claus?

Start reading Cupid Claus HERE

Match made in heaven or maid of dishonor?

Tight-laced Rose Hensel arrives in Scotland for her best friend’s wedding with a plan—to be the greatest maid of honor ever, let loose for the first time in years, and find out what Scottish guys really wear under their kilts. After meeting the best man, she thinks she found the man who checks all the boxes for a no-strings-attached romp among the heather.

Lachlan Calder-Mackinnon knows how to show a girl a good time. Gourmet dinners in castle ruins, picnics among rolling hills, and a seaside escape create some unforgettable dates. But as the fling begins to morph into something more, an unexpected wedding guest threatens to ruin Rose and Lachlan’s new romance.

With a plane ticket in one hand and her broken heart in the other, Rose prepares to head home to reality. However, she’s about to learn that what happens in the Highlands don’t always stay there.

Start reading What Happens in the Highlands HERE

Can she stop her past from ruining her future?

Sorcha Mackinnon isn’t your typical tortured artist. She is also a party girl, a vintage shopper, and the heiress to a whisky fortune. But when inspiration suddenly flies out the window, she’s left with an empty whisky glass and a blank canvas…until a childhood friend waltzes back into her life.

She’s known Danny Gordon since birth, but they lost touch as their careers took them in different directions. He offers to show her the parts of Scotland he swears will spark life back into her brushes. And as they tour the sights on the back of his motorcycle, Sorcha realizes that under the tattoos and smart mouth, Danny may inspire more in her than just a new painting.

But as a good time begins to morph into an ever after, Sorcha is reminded of old wounds that just won’t heal. Danny tries to open her heart, but her self-imposed isolation makes things harder than ever. Now she must decide what to do, because what happens in the ruins doesn’t always stay there.

Start reading What Happens in the Ruins HERE

He’s a Scotsman through and through with the kilt and loch-side manor to prove it

Savannah Adelson spent years sacrificing her midwife career for what she thought was love. Now that she’s kicked her cheating ex to the curb, she’s transforming her long-forgotten dream into a thriving business. Amid her new patients, she manages to travel to Scotland to be a bridesmaid in her college friend’s wedding only to meet the cousin of the groom, a tall shot of whisky in a tartan glass.

Rhys Mackinnon has grown restless and is eager to find his next role in life, whatever that may be. When he meets Savannah, he’s all too happy to make that role her personal tour guide. He ends up playing boyfriend too after her ex shows up unannounced.

When the fictional relationship begins to feel real, Savannah’s torn between the fire she feels for Rhys and the passion she has for her career. No matter what she decides, someone will end up hurt, because what happens in the castle doesn’t always stay there.

Start reading What Happens in the Castle HERE


We both hope that all our reader and author friends have a safe and happy holiday during this difficult time.

Xoxo,

Kelsey and Sarah

New Book

Circle of Hurt

It’s release day for Lauren Campbell with her newest book, Circle of Hurt. A story of marriage, betrayal, and pain that reviewers are calling “completely engaging and just beautiful to read.”

For years, infertility followed me like a cloud.

But finally, the sun has risen.

Finally, I am pregnant.

Except now a new storm rages in the distance–one I have no choice but to pass through.

I have no idea if the child I’m carrying belongs to my husband … or to the man I’ve betrayed him with–a man I’ve come to love but whose name I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m a cheat. A liar. Undeserving of this baby inside me.

I don’t know how this will end. But I do know it won’t be without casualties, because this is a story in which a true happy ending cannot exist.

A story of how my love for one grew into three but must end with only two.

Order your copy now wherever ebook are sold HERE

book list

A Little V-Day Love

Valentine’s Day, a day of grand gestures, little notes, chocolates, cards, and flowers. But for romance readers, it’s also a time to appreciate the stories that make us melt. So I’ve compiled a short list of some Valentine’s Day books to add a little more love to your holiday.

The Giving Hearts – Sinclair Jayne

Marietta, Montana local Miranda owns and operates a small gift shop in the historic Graff Hotel. During the month of February, she asks the town to do small acts of kindness. Meanwhile, orthopedic surgeon Whitman never thought he’d step foot in Marietta again. But when he’s told to work at their hospital for a month before going on to his dream job in LA, he’ll remember all too well what he left behind in his home town.

The Tycoon’s Kiss – Jane Porter

Marietta, Montana librarian Taylor prefers to read about romance instead of trying her hand at love. And when she’s pushed into attending the Valentine Ball with tech bachelor Troy, she’s horrified. Troy wasn’t thrilled either, but he loves a challenge, and melting Taylor’s cold exterior seems like a fun time.

Texas Bachelor – Eve Gaddy and Katherine Garbera

Johnny and Fiona are only partners in a law firm until they’re matched at the annual Valentine’s Day dance. There’s always been a hint of something more between them, but one night of romance turns into more than either expected. But to follow their hearts, they may have to leave behind all they once knew.

Valentine Charms – Anne McAllister

Every year, a secret admirer leaves second grade teacher Jane a charm for Valentine’s Day. Those little gifts were the closest she’d come to love, but her students thought she needed a little push to find the man of her dreams. Football star Zach has had his eye on Jane for years, but hasn’t plucked up the courage to go the distance. Twenty-three second graders decided to make a play of their own and make sure their teacher has a date for Valentine’s Day at last.

The Trouble With Valentine’s Day – Rachel Gibson

Kate hates Valentine’s Day, and when she’s broken up with and forced to move back to her small hometown in Idaho, she figures the holiday will be even more lame than the year before. Rob’s the former hockey star who now owns the sports shop in town, and he has little interest in anything V-Day related. But a chance meeting in a grocery store makes both of them reconsider what they always thought.

Dear Cupid – Laurie LeClair

Librarian Gemma wasn’t too keen on reviving her town’s newspaper’s Dear Cupid love advice column, but she’s too nice to refuse, even when she learns she’ll be taking over it with local architect Sean. Sean has his eye on renovating the building Gemma’s family’s antique store is in, and originally decides to help with the Dear Cupid column to get close to Gemma to get her help. But as time goes on and more couples are brought together, there’s only two people left who could use a little of Cupid’s magic for Valentine’s Day.

Dog Park Sweethearts – Sasha Summers

Autumn has everything she’s ever wanted in life, but she can’t be truly happy until her dad finds love. Luckily, she has the perfect woman in mind—Noah’s mother. Noah is only in town for a little while, but he’s on board with Autumn’s matchmaking plan. As the scheming pair grows closer, Noah starts to wonder if Autumn is his ideal Valentine, even if his time in town is running out.

Cursed by Cupid – Wendy Sparrow

Tilly never used to be so terrible with love, and she refuses to think not passing on a silly chain email made her perpetually single. But as she comes upon another Valentine’s Day without a date, she’s wondering if she should have just sent on “Cupid’s Curse.” Bryant doesn’t think the curse is real, but he’ll take his chances if it means a night out with Tilly. Will they survive the first date, or will Cupid claim another victim?

Valentine Kisses – Ann B. Harrison

Reality TV show host Bella decides to take some time off to visit her sister in Cherry Lake for some R&R. She ends up as the temporary head chef at the local hotel and remembers what it’s like to love what you do. Single father and fire chief Jake puts his skills to the test when the newest chef in town sets her kitchen on fire. With Valentine’s Day approaching, will they whip up some romance in the kitchen?

A Dog Called Valentine – Roxanne Snopek

Animal shelter volunteer Lily has her hands full when someone dumps a dog in her lap right after Valentine’s Day. The dog’s a wild one that only former K9 cop Shane can handle. He agrees to teach Lily a few tricks of the trade, then wash his hands of all things furry forever. But as the pair work together, his heart begins to open up to both Lily and the dog called Valentine.

Not Okay Cupid – Heidi R. Kling

Hazel had it all; the grades, the man, and a perfect best friend…until her BFF and her BF decide to hook up right before Valentine’s Day. She’s crushed until her BFF’s older brother comes to her rescue with a plan. Felix hates how his little sister betrayed Hazel and vows to help her become the “perfect” girl to break her ex’s heart. But as they work together to exact her revenge, the plan goes off the rails in a major way.

The Valentine Quest – Melissa McClone

Nevada goes to Marietta, Montana to work on her PHD dissertation just as the town’s Valentine’s Day celebrations are beginning. She hates the holiday, but loves the prize for one of the events—a tropical vacation she knows her military brother deserves. Ex-bull rider Dustin is tired of catering to tourists and hopes winning a tropical vacation will help his mood. The unlikely pair joins forces for a better chance of winning, but it could cost them everything.


What’s on your TBR list this Valentine’s Day? Let me know! I’m always looking for my next favorite read.

free book, New Book

What Happens in the Castle

It’s finally here, release day for the final installment of The What Happens Series! Readers have watched an American girl fall in love with the unobtainable laird, the broken heiress find forgiveness and romance, and now it’s time for a NYC based midwife to meet her match…too bad that match lives in the Scottish Highlands.

What Happens in the Castle is available wherever books are sold!

PS. What Happens in the Highlands is currently FREE HERE!

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.