Book Lists

Kids, Race, and Reading

This year has been one of upheaval. There have been jobs lost, businesses closed, and kids confused about what’s happening. But there’s also been change. It’s been messy and painful, and it’s still ongoing, but the topic of racism is being discussed within the United States, and the world.

Kids understand more than we give them credit for sometimes. They often won’t recognize the names of murdered Black men and women that flash across the screens, but they feel the tension. They might not get why people walk down city streets with signs, but they understand that they haven’t seen something like that before. For Black families, race and racial injustices are a part of their daily conversations because they feel first hand the pain of racism and the fear of losing another friend, another family member, another community leader. But for white families, like mine, the conversation is just as vital.

My husband and daughter are part of the indigenous community, but I’m white and the color of their skin is considered “safe.” I never fear something happening to my daughter, but I don’t want her growing up blind to the world around her. Books are a helpful way to introduce topics to kids and start conversations they can more easily understand.

I have a short list of some books you may wish to add to your bookshelf to help begin or further the dialogue of what’s wrong, who is hurting, and how we can come together to make things right.

Something Happened in Our Town

Good for preschoolers up, this book was written by a team of psychologists who include helpful conversation starters for parents to help explore the topics of race and racism. It follows a Black and white family as they each discuss a Black man’s death at the hands of the police.

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights

This one explains ways to protest peacefully and raise awareness like donating money or time and making signs for protests. It’s a simple way to explain how small acts can help to make a big difference.

We’re Different, We’re the same

Using characters kids already know can be helpful in beginning a gentle dialogue at a young age. This book shows how we’re all born different, but that doesn’t mean we should be treated differently.

A is for Activist

This rhyming book is a different spin on the usual ABCs. Important topics replace the fluffy animals and the message is gentle enough for basically all ages.

Momma, Did You Hear the News?

This one follows a young, Black boy as his parents explain police brutality to him. It’s educational and lays out how some communities have a rightful mistrust of the police. It’s a good basis for explaining how something like a simple traffic stop isn’t simple to everyone.

A Kids Book About Racism

A simple title for simple facts. This book isn’t a colorful story using animals instead of people to get a message across, but clearly lays out what racism is and how to confront it.


Brief list, I know, but falling through the book rabbit hope to discover books that are right for your families and your kids is part of the conversation. Have you incorporated books like these into your personal library? Let me know, and please comment is you have any you found particularly helpful.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and best wishes to you and yours.

book review, history, New Book

The House on the Hill

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Irina Shapiro. From the first page, I know there will be heartbreak, betrayal, and a story that will twist through time. So today, I’d like to introduce you to The House on the Hill.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction and Contemporary and Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In the modern day, Laura has recently been widowed, having lost her husband in Iraq. She leaves their apartment in the heart of Boston for a summer of healing in an old house on the shores of Cape Cod. She’s hoping to leave her ghosts behind and perhaps find new inspiration for a book. But a ghostly visitor shows her there’s something different about the Holland House.

In the 1700s, Sophie is on the cusp of adulthood, counting the days until she can marry Teddy, a boy she’s loved for years. Her book maker father has his sights set on a man with a title or some money, and forbids his only daughter from following her heart. When her hand is forced and she must make a decision to save herself, her life begins to unravel.

While Laura works to learn more about her ghostly visitor and sort out her feelings about the handsome vet she met in town, Sophie’s charmed world shatters. Both women are trapped in webs of lies and grief woven hundreds of years apart, but inexplicably tied.

Every time I read something by Shapiro, I’m instantly on edge. I know terrible things will happen, but I savor the slight feeling of apprehension. Wondering who will be the one to stab the man character in the back is something I’ve come to expect and thoroughly enjoy.

My historical specialty is European-based, so having American history tidbits was very welcome. I live on the East Coast and admittedly don’t know a lot about colonial life other than what’s taught in basic classes. I always like how Shapiro brings in facts to give her books a level of realism that inspires me to explore the themes more on my own.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction and romantic suspense.

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.

history, Podcast

My Fav Podcasts

With the quarantines and social distancing , we’re all looking for ways to escape a bit. While I love reading and writing, I always adore a good podcast. I’ve compiled a list of shows I really enjoy, so while you’re working out, taking walks, driving, cleaning, whatever, you can immerse yourselves in some awesome stories. I listen strictly on the Apple Podcast app, but these shows are usually available on all podcast platforms.

Crime Junkies

Crime Junkies is a true crime series hosted by a pair of best friends who lay out the facts about murders, kidnappings, and missing people in a way that really pulls you in. While they cover the big stories, they also dive into the lesser known cases that might be new for you. It’s great for true crime lovers who aren’t looking to be bogged down with too much back story. The hosts are also really good at connecting with their fans and have active blogs and Facebook pages so you can double down. You can listen on any podcast platform HERE.

Tumanbay

This podcast was inspired by the Mamluk Slave Dynasty of ancient Egypt and pulls historical themes and all new elements in to build a sweeping story. It follows the intertwining lives of several people, including the nephew of a Sultan, a king turned slave, a slave trader’s daughter, and a mysterious queen with a vast network of spies. It really feels like you’re listening to an episode of Game of Thrones without the dragons. Really, the narration and the background noises are insanely good. From BBC Radio, it’s available HERE or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

History Extra Podcast

A podcast that follows the stories published in BBC History Magazine, it delivers bite sized facts for any history lover. From war to food to famous figures, there are dozens of episodes that cover a multitude of themes and periods. History fans really shouldn’t miss this informative show, which has taught me quite a few lesser-known tales from bygone ages. You can begin listening HERE.

Dateline

This one is exactly what you think…Dateline shows turned podcast episodes. Watching Dateline was never my thing, but I really like true crime and enjoy how each Dateline episode is folded into a neat story. It’s edited in such a way that not seeing the evidence and photos doesn’t complicate things. You can start listening now HERE.

Noble Blood

Noble Blood is a new favorite of mine. It lays out the darker stories of the kings, queens, and other blue bloods who had less than picture perfect lives…or ends. It’s sparked more than a few midnight Google searches, which is basically what we all need right now. History and royalty lovers will adore listening to tales of poison, jilted lovers, and missing gems. Dive in HERE.

The White Vault

A fictional found footage drama, each season follows a new cast as they explore and unearth ancient secrets that are more dangerous than they could ever imagine. The cast is amazing and the storyline is detailed, but easy enough to follow, even if you’re multi-tasking. Fans of horror and sci-fi will probably really enjoy following the repair team to an arctic outpost or a team of archeologists as they explore hidden caves. Start listening on any platform HERE.

Stuff you Missed in History Class

This show is a lighter look at some of the stranger pieces of history, like the Victorian Orchid craze or the haunted Flannan Islands. Of course they cover some of the basic historical themes like World War II, but from new angles that are great for old fans of specific eras or newbies interested in learning some fun facts. It’s a nice way to learn a fun fact or two incase Jeopardy ever calls. They’re on all platforms, so start listening HERE.

We’re Alive

Set in the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, it follows a ragtag military team as they try to contain an outbreak and pick up civilians along the way. Each character has their own voice actor and the stories, while deep, are easy to follow. The story continues for decades with the cast aging, dying, having kids, and exploring new ways of finding out how to rebuild in a post-undead world. Horror and sci-fi fans will declare this one a hit. Start listening HERE.

Blackout

Rami Malek is the star host of this apocalyptic drama where he plays a small town radio DJ who watches as the world goes dark. As his teenage son and his friends try to make their way home from a camping trip, Rami’s character tries to stick to the facts on his radio show as things around him fall apart. Part thriller, part drama, it’s a must for lost who enjoy heart racing stories. Begin episode one HERE.


I’m always on the lookout for something new. If you have a podcast to share, please let me know! And Sarah and I both hope that you and your families stay safe, happy, and healthy in this difficult time.

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

The Betrayed

Every time Irina Shapiro releases a new book, I wonder if it’ll have a happy ending. Will the couple who left only bones behind actually end up together? Will Quinn unlock her own past, which seems more unlikely with each page? In a collection of books that never get old, I’m always left with questions that never have easy answers.

Introducing The Betrayed, Echoes From the Past book seven by Irina Shapiro.

As always, I will try to avoid spoilers, but since this is the 7th book in the series, some things will slip through the cracks. Want to avoid that? Start with book one today, The Lovers. Trust me.

  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Genre: Historical and Contemporary Fiction
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In 2005, Dr. Quinn Allenby unearthed a crucified skeleton in Ireland. Among the bones and dirt is a hamsa charm, a protective amulet often often used by Muslims. She can’t figure out how a Muslim would have found his way to Ireland and what led to the crucifixion.

In 1588, the Spanish Armada ship Rafael de Silva was sailing on crashes on the rocky coasts of Ireland. With limited English, a hidden hamsa, and wounded comrades, he’s trapped in hostile territory with no way home. And as the Protestant English forces progress into Catholic Ireland, protecting his identity becomes more vital than ever.

While trying to learn more about Rafael, Quinn is mired in mysteries in the present day as well. Her long lost sister isn’t lost anymore, not physically at least. But as Quinn pushes to get closer to Jo, Jo begins to run before her own past catches up to her. The secrets never end for poor Quinn, although she’ll do anything to set things right.

As always, I need a breather after each of Shapiro’s books. Not since Outlander has a series so completely set the bar for what a good book is. Each installment is so deliciously dark, but still makes you hope for just once, things won’t be as bad as Quinn’s skeletons make them out to be.

Quinn is completely lovable. Kind, selfless, and always eager to see the best in people, she’s never prepared for those close to her to betray her. Every book, I root for things in her life to go east on her, just once, and things always seem to just fall apart in both the past and present.

Overall, I suggest this book in ebook and audio format to all book lovers.

book review, New Book

Once Upon a Highland Glen

It’s no secret I’ve been a fan of Suzan Tisdale for years. Before Outlander, she was my introduction to the world of hot Scots. And now she’s launched her own publishing house called Glenfinnan Publishing and launched her new endeavor with a historical, romantic anthology, Once Upon a Highland Glen.

Since there are six stories, I’ll have six sections in this review, with my thoughts italicized for easier reading.

  • Heat Level: the stories range from wholesome to steamy.
  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

The Legend by Violetta Rand

Laird Bron Kieth was not a kind man, and one night when we went out in search of his prized ram. He was set upon by his enemies and drug himself to the safety of a glen. A mysterious woman gives him one wish and he asks for a second chance at life, so he can be a better man.

This short introduction set the scene for the rest of the stories.

Wager of the Heart by Suzan Tisdale

Graham Kieth is the descendant of Bron, but has yet to learn the same lesson. A directionless cad, he drunklenly stumbles into a glen after a game of cards, where he laments his loneliness and wishes he had a family to care for him. When he awakes to find his wish comes true, he’s less than thrilled with his new reality. But when he must decide what kind of man he wants to be, more than one future will depend on him.

I thought this story was cute and could have easily been a full length book on its own. Graham and Leelah weren’t a match made in heaven, and he’s certainly no match for her stubbornness. It’s hard to tell who needs who more by the end of this story.

Clouds Across the Moon by Kathryn Lynn Davis

Braida is only sixteen when her daughter is born. Her husband Bran is twenty-two, the tutor for the laird’s children, and not an overly kind man. He feels detached from his daughter and longs for his wife to be the carefree, moldable teen he once met.

I have to admit I wasn’t a huge fan of this tale. A husband being basically disgusted by his child bride’s changed body and her devotion to their baby made me uncomfortable. There wasn’t the romance I expected.

Highland Heart’s Desire by Victoria Zak

The fairy Breena was enchanted by the forbidden human world. While she’s not very good with magic yet, she does what she can to keep the animals in her forest safe. When a hunter is injured, she breaks the fae laws to tend to him. Robert Keith thinks he imagined the beautiful woman that day, but five years later, he’ll question everything he ever knew.

This story was sweet and charming with a lot of heart. Breena was adorable and Robert was a gem. Watching their romance span the years was lovely.

The Lost Soul by Ceci Giltenan

Spoiled Margaret Grant is sent to live with her betrothed, Logan Carr’s clan in an attempt to make her come to peace with her betrothal. After a fall, she finds herself in a glen where she makes a wish to prove she can be a better person. But before she can go back to her pampered life, she must walk in the shoes of another.

This story was a bit on the humorous side, without losing the message that’s been carried through the anthology. It also held a nice amount of detail that really set the tone.

Whispers to the Soul by Kate Robbins

Kenzie is on the run from a vile clan guardsman when she’s rescued by the handsome Gaelin. But she soon learns she is no simple kitchen maid as she and Gaelin go on a journey to find safety and the truth.

This was my favorite story in the anthology, so I believe Robbins has found a new fan in me! Witty and steamy, Kenzie was a heroine in her own right and I would have lived to read a full book focused on her tale.

The Courageous Highlander by Lily Baldwin.

Laird Owen MacArthur rules over a secluded clan where every year the laird must hunt alone to bring prosperity to the people. On one of these hunts, he finds the beautiful Gwynn help captive in a strange glen. He’s struck by her beauty and promises to free her, but at what cost?

A magic tale, Baldwin’s addition was action packed with a touch of mystery. It was a wonderful addition.


Overall, I enjoyed most of the anthology with a few standing out as deserving a full length novels. I recommended this collection to all historical romance fans.

history

Romantic Irish Folklore

Hello, everyone! I’ve gone through Scottish history, products, and fairytales, but now I want to talk about Ireland. Andrea Collins, creator of the new subscription box Simply Ireland will lend a hand as well, seeing as no one can know the country better than a woman who lives there.

Ireland is a country rich with traditions, history, and folklore that I’d like to explore a bit. From tiny, stone pubs to rolling, green hills, we’ll be spending the next few weeks going over important holidays, customs, people, castles, events, and more!

First up is romantic stories from the Emerald Isle…but not all have happy endings.

Niamh the Golden-Headed was the daughter of the king of Tír Na NÓg, also known as “The Land of the Young,” which was the Celtic Otherworld. One day she rode a white horse to Ireland, where she encountered a band of warriors, one being famed fighter Oisín.

The pair fell in love and she offered to take him with her to the Otherworld. On the way, he saved a maiden from a giant and his skills were so great, Niamh’s parents allowed the pair to marry.

Over the next three hundred years, which only felt like three years to Oisín, they had three children and were very happy. But he was homesick and wanted to see his people and father. Reluctantly, Niamh said he could visit, but could never touch the ground. If he did, they would ever see each other again.

Once in Ireland, Oisín searched for all he knew, but they were long gone. When he saw a group of men trying to move a large stone, he forgot Niamh’s warning and jumped from the horse. As soon as he touched the ground, he withered into an old man.

He was brought to Saint Patrick to be baptized, but refused on his deathbed. If he went to Christian heaven, he would never see his loved ones again. And so he died, reuniting at last with his father and never seeing Niamh again.

Deirdre’s great beauty was prophesied before she was born, and it was said blood would spill over her and great warriors would leave the kingdom of Ulster. Because of this, many called for her to be killed at birth. But King Conchobar was already excited at the thought of a legendary beauty as his wife and spirited her away to live in the woods with a wise woman until she was old enough to marry.

Years later, Deirdre told the wise woman she dreamed of her husband, a young man with black hair and white skin. The wise woman knew she had dreamt of the famed warrior Naoise and concocted a plan for them to meet. And when they met, they fell in love at once and fled to Scotland with his brothers.

Conchobar heard his best warriors left Ireland with his bride and sent spies after them to see if Deirdre lost her beauty. When he finally heard she was still radiant, he went to collect her with a troop of warriors. Naoise was killed by a man called Èogan and Conchobar took Deirdre as his wife.

After a year of unhappy marriage, Conchobar was angry his wife still despised him for killing her love. He asked her who she hated more than him and she responded with Èogan. So Conchobar took Deirdre to marry him instead. Refusing to live as a captive any longer, Deirdre threw herself from the chariot and died. She was finally buried beside Naoise and a pair of trees grew from their graves, reuniting them at last.

An ancient king called Midir lived with his wife Faumnach for many years. They were a fine match and both were very happy until Midir went on a journey to visit his foster son Aengus, and saw a beautiful young woman beside a well. She said her name was Étaín and the pair fell in love.

For a year and a day they lived as husband and wife at Aengus’s house until Midir decided it was time to return home. He took Étaín with him and Faumnach was furious. She cast a spell to turn Étaín into a pool of water. When the pool dried up, she transformed into a butterfly. Midir knew Étaín at once by her scent and the music that played when she flew and the pair were again together.

Angered, Faumnach conjured a storm that blew the butterfly Étaín away. But Étaín ended up at the home of Aengus, who also recognized her and kept her safe from the magic storm. All was well until Ètaín tried to return to Midir. She fell into Faumnach’s cup, and the woman unknowingly swallowed the butterfly.

Étaín was reborn as Faumnach’s child and went on to marry a great king. Midir never forgot his true love, and in his immortal form, he disguised himself and found her. But Étaín didn’t remember him and stated she was a married woman, but if her husband gave his blessing, she would go with him.

Midir challenged her husband to a game of chess, and when he won, he asked for a kiss from Étaín as a reward. When they kissed, Étaín remembered her past life and her love for Midir. They transformed into swans and flew away.

The beautiful Clíodhna lived in the Otherworld and was queen of the banshees. One day she met the mortal, Irish prince Ciabhán and fell deeply in love with him. When she had to return home, he stole a boat to follow her across the water. He was saved by drowning by the sea god Mannannán and was finally reunited with Clíodhna.

They lived in happiness for many years until Mannannán’s wife warned the couple that the sea god was annoyed by their presence. Clíodhna couldn’t bear to be parted from Ciabhán, and decided to give up her immortality to be with him.

They stole Mannannán’s magic boat for the journey, which angered the god further. When Ciabhán went ashore in Ireland to hunt, Clíodhna fell asleep and the sea god sent a wave to punish her. She was swept away and drowned.

Princess Graínne is horrified to be betrothed to the elderly, twice widowed, King Fionn. When she sees one of his young warriors, Diarmuid, she knows she can’t go through with the wedding. She slips a sleeping potion to all the wedding guests and implores Diarmuid to run away with her. At first he refuses, but soon agrees to elope.

The couple are soon followed by Fionn’s men, but evade them for many years. But one day they came across a boar and Diarmuid fought it, despite the prophesy that a boar would be the only thing that could kill him.

Diarmuid is fatally gored just as Fionn and his men catch up to them. Fionn could save him by having him drink water from his hands. He lets the water slip through his fingers twice until his son Oisín forces him to save Diarmuid. But it’s too late. The pair will never be together again.


I hope you enjoyed the first installment of our Touch of Ireland posts! Check back soon for posts on the difficult political history, the wonderful ruins, and other highlights.

On to the Simply Ireland Subscription Box. Creator Andrea Collins wanted to build a box that truly captured her country. For months, she’s been carefully curating the best products, such as jewelry from the famous Tipperary Crystal, handmade soaps from Soap Out Loud, and organic lotions from the Dublin Herbalists.

Every season, you could have your own taste of Ireland. While the official website is still under construction, you can still get your piece of Ireland.

  • To speak with Collins directly about placing your order, you can email her at simplyirelandsubscriptionbox@gmail.com
  • Visit her Facebook page HERE
  • Visit her Instagram page HERE

New Book, Writing

Tule Birthday Bash

Tule Publishing is celebrating their 6th birthday! That means party favors for you! From Friday September 6th until Sunday the 8th, all ebooks are 50% off with the code TULE6 at checkout in their online bookstore HERE.

You can snag books about sweet cowboys, mobsters on the run, romantic pirates, and holiday escapades. We’ve reviewed several Tule books on this blog and haven’t read one we didn’t love. Sweet or steamy, it’s all there in the bookstore. Cick HERE to start shopping.

BTW if you haven’t read Kelsey’s contemporary romance series set in Scotland, the first two books are in the Tule book shop, ready to be read! Catch up with all the hot Scots before book 3 comes out this winter.

Match made in heaven or maid of dishonor?

Tight-laced Rose Henselarrives 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.

Order your copy in the Tule store 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.

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book review, history, New Book

Secrets of a Highland Warrior

Hot Highlander alert! I’m always pumped to read a book based in my favorite country, so when Nicole Locke told me about Secrets of a Highland Warrior, I was totally on board.

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

The year is 1293 and Rory Lochmore is the son of the chief of Clan Lochmore. Their lands are separated from the McCrieff’s by a single stream, one too thin to keep them from constantly drawing their swords. Rory is eager to prove his worth yet again by claiming the land given to them by the king, but a pair of deep, green eyes catch him off guard. Yet he’s not one to be swayed by a pretty face, until he’s made an offer he can’t refuse.

Ailsa McCrieff is the healer for her clan and the daughter of the next chief. When her father inherits the title, he’ll also be inheriting generations of hatred between the McCrieffs and the Lochmores, but he has a plan to mend the strife…have Ailsa marry Rory. She’s horrified at the thought of being tied to a savage, despite his handsomeness, but she knows it could be the only way to save lives.

There’s nothing more then animosity and physical attraction between them, not a great start to a marriage. But the fates of both their clans rest on their shoulders and only a wedding will stop the bloodshed. Can they come together to make a true match, or are they doomed to lives of misery?

While this is book four in the Lochmore Legacy Series, it’s the only book I’ve read. While I did feel that I missed out on some backstory and a few tidbits what would have made reading much smoother, it wasn’t anything crazy. I would suggest starting with book one, as you should with all good series, but I enjoyed myself immensely, even by starting at the end.

Ailsa was a fantastic character. Her tongue was just as sharp as the shears she used for cutting herbs and she wasn’t one to be meek and obey. She’s really makes the marriage happen by seeing Rory see reason and I liked how she wasn’t just a swooning lass. Their relationship was also a pleasure to follow, as they went through not only newlywed growing pains, but found a way to trust that the other wouldn’t stab them in their sleep!

I also found the historical side to be very believable. If you’re not familiar with me, or the blog, you won’t know that I’m a historian and nothing ruins a historical book for me than blatant mess ups. For example, many people will write books set in Scotland and throw kilts around like confetti, despite using the wrong tartan or having the time period set before kilts were even a thing! It’s silly, but having Locke not throw Rory into a kilt was fabulous.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it to all historical romance lovers.