book review, New Book

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games is a comfort read/watch for me. I really loved the apocalyptic setup author Suzanne Collins created. So when The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes came out, I snagged my copy right away.

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Coriolanus Snow was born in the Capital of Panem to an old Capital family. He had the name and the prestigious penthouse to ensure all doors were open for him. But his parents are dead, leaving him and his elder cousin Tigress to care for their ailing grandmother and make sure no one knows how impoverished the once noble Snows have become.

As the 10th annual Hunger Games draw bear Coriolanus and his classmates are giving the chance to mentor a tribute. He’s given the girl from District 12, a slight against him, as it’s the poorest and weakest district. But his tribute Lucy Gray Baird is a born performer, and soon captures the heart of the capital.

While preparing for the games, Coriolanus and Lucy Gray find they have more in common than they knew, and soon they’re falling fast. From snake bites to escape plans, Coriolanus must decide if he should take of the mantle of the Capital or throw it all away in the search for love.

When I first heard about this book, I was skeptical. We know Coriolanus Snow as a villain, a sickly, evil poison or without a good bone in his body. Collins promised us a new look at the president, one that would make us think differently. I found myself reading, looking for fault in the unsure, charismatic boy who worked day and night to keep the snow family in line with the rest of the capitals elite. I was even rooting for him to come out on top, some thing I didn’t think I would do.

I was completely ready to adore this book, even though some parts were slower than I would’ve liked. But the ending made it difficult for me to love it. It was sharp and sudden, leaving so many unanswered questions that made me close the book with frustration. I know not every book is tied up in a neat bow at the end, but I have to say that I was truly disappointed.

One thing that didn’t disappoint, was the look at the formation of the capital, the way the districts interacted, and the lives of every day citizens. Before, we only knew what Katniss, an uneducated girl from District 12 knew. But Coriolanus was the son of a war hero, a scholar, someone who had an idea of how the larger world worked. Getting the extra locks into peace keepers and what led to the formation of the Hunger Games and beyond was really exciting.

Overall, I liked the book, but didn’t completely love it. Although, if Collins comes out with a new story set in Panam, I will be the first one in line to buy it.

New Book

A Good Man

I read author Rosanna Leo’s romance novel A Good Man, Handyman Book 1, when it first came out, but it’s been rereleased with some sizzling changes and a fabulous new cover.

He tears down walls for a living. She’ll tear down the ones around his heart.

Contractor Michael Zorn is one of the leading men on the successful home improvement show Handymen. He is also revered for an act of bravery he’d rather forget. The press may hound him, but all he really wants is to help couples realize their home renovation dreams.

One of these couples is Emily Daniels and her fiancé, Trent. When Emily inherits an old home in Toronto’s Little Italy, she sees it as the perfect location for her small business. The house needs a lot of work, but her appearance on the Handymen show means Michael and his contractor brothers will help her renovate at a reasonable cost.

When Michael and Emily meet, their chemistry is intense. Emily wants to stay true to Trent, but her fiancé has done nothing but disappoint her. Michael recognizes Trent for what he is—a cheater. And it isn’t long before he breaks Emily’s heart.

At first, Michael only intends to comfort Emily, but their friendship soon flares into passion. Unfortunately, Michael has secrets and wounds of his own, ones he has never trusted to another. Emily is determined to break down his walls, but can she trust her heart to a man who can’t trust himself?

Order your copy now HERE and see how one good man can make all the difference.

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, New Book

The Fae King’s Curse

I’m back to chat about The Fae King’s Curse, the second book in the Between Dawn and Dusk series. If you remember, I actually read and reviewed Between Dawn and Dusk already and it got my fantasy romance seal of approval!

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

The firstborn children of all Fae king are blind and can only regain their sight when they meets their fated mate, or soul mate. If they do much as kiss someone else, they will remain blind forever. Kirian, the prince of the Night Realm is no exception. Though he wishes he were as soon as he meets Quinn, a human girl who saves his life when he’s just a child.

Quinn is twelve when she meets Kirian, an odd boy she fishes out of the water. He promises to come back through the timed portal and see her the next day, but a day in the human world is a year for a Fae and she nearly doesn’t recognize him. This continues for years of daily meetings for her and centuries of yearly meetings for him until Quinn is eighteen.

Quinn’s loved him since childhood and fears one day he won’t appear in the woods near her house and he’ll be off with his true fated mate. Before she’s set to leave for college, she tells him she can’t meet him anymore. Loving him and knowing he will one day leave her forever kills her. Then, Kirian does the worst thing possible…he kisses her.

With one kiss, the pair is woven into a tapestry of curses, stardust, and fate.

This is what I was missing in Between Dawn and Dusk. I adore first meetings and Schlosser gave me a good one when a lavender eyed Fae prince and a small town girl in overalls met beside the river and felt sparks. The slow burn was perfect.

I love, love, loved this book and I’m not a huge fantasy romance fan, usually steering more towards the JRR Tolkien vein of elves and dwarves. But the way Quinn and Kirian’s relationship developed and the small quirks they each have had me swooning. I literally read it it one siting with a single break to make whipped coffee and turn on a light. It was funny and heartwarming, but steamy and dark all at the same time.

Congrats, Jamie Schlosser, you just created a fantasy romance fan.

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:

book review

Between Dawn and Dusk

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a fantasy romance with true magical elements. But when I saw the gorgeous cover for Between Dawn and Dusk by Jamie Schlosser, I knew I had to take a chance.

  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

In a far off world, fated mates are vital to survival, and if a pair is separated, they’ll slowly go mad until both are dead. Zella, the princess of the Day Realm, fears this may happen to her, as while she’s already met her fated mate, her father has sworn him to be their enemy. He wants Zella to marry someone in their kingdom, but she refuses to accept anything less than true love with the man she’s adored for years.

King Keryth of the Night Realm has been waiting for Zella for ages. He knew it was a fated match when he first saw her, and has been patient for the king of the Day Realm to allow them to marry. But when a wedding is planned between Zella and a man who certainly isn’t him, Keryth knows the time for waiting is long gone.

The Day Realm is dark with kidnappings and ruled with an iron fist, something Zella can no longer live with. The Night Realm promises peace and a chance at happiness. But first, Zella and Keryth will have to survive the wedding.

I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the second, The Fae King’s Curse. But I do feel like I was missing a lot of delicious details that would have made the book all the better. I wish I could have seen the couple meet, read more about the mysterious illness that killed the women, really get a sense of the world they live in before being thrust into the heart of action. The premise is fantastic and the characters have such deep feelings, I just wish there was more!

Overall, this brief and easy read was a cute story that I truly hope will be further delved into in The Fae King’s Curse!

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.

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 review, New Book

The Main Dish

We don’t have a lot of young adult books on our page, but it’s time to shake things up a little. Introducing The Main Dish by Victoria Kimble. It releases in July, but the paperbacks are available for preorder now!

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Scarlet Williams is so close to living her dream–to be the youngest violinist at the Summerset Festival. She’s worked her fingers to the bone and put in the long hours to make sure she earned her spot… and the admiration of a boy she has her eye on. But when her sister Sadie is cast in a cooking show in LA, her plans go off the rails.

A summer in LA with her family while Sadie works to be the top chef on the show means a summer away from her music, and her shot at being in the festival. As much as she wants to stay, she doesn’t have any choice, and soon she’s packing up her violin and putting her dream on hold while Sadie chases hers. Though she’s not content with being invisible, and soon she makes a decision that could change everything.

Overall, The Main Dish was exactly what was promised–a YA story with sisters at odds and their individual dreams. The writing was clean and simple, penned in the way I imagined a teenage girl would write in her diary. Everything’s an explosion of failure in one moment and nothing the next, a glimpse into what it means to be a high school girl.

I normally don’t read YA, but I found The Main Dish to be a light read with a good message of sacrifice and honesty. The idea of the Young Gourmet show could be a book on its own! And Scarlet makes a few mistakes that hurt the ones she loves, but learns from it and becomes a better person. Although my daughter’s only five, this book will sit on my shelves until she’s old enough to read it.

Overall, I thought it was a good story with some totally teen moments with simple writing that conveys several very important messages. I would recommend this book to YA fans that enjoy light reading, particularly those in middle school.

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.