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.

New Book

The Power of Witches

Noa Rembrandt was found in a dumpster. 

Since then, she’s been wanting only one thing in life: to find a loving family to take her in or successfully age out of the foster system. She thought she’d found her family, until after her eighth birthday, her younger foster brother died under suspicious circumstances—circumstances Noa might have had a part in.

Now at sixteen and with no where else to go, Noa Rembrandt is sent to Gardenside County Home for Troubled Youth. With a countdown to her eighteenth birthday, Noa is determined to keep her head down and not cause any trouble.

Trouble instead finds her, in the form of her eccentric roommate and cute boy across the hall who both seem to know more about Noa’s background than she does.

Preorder The Power of Witches now HERE!


Shay Bencosme is a 22 Navy servicemember who writes and photographs in her spare time. She currently lives in North Carolina, USA with her husband, Josh, and their kitten, Lucy.

Shay has always had aspirations of being a writer and just decided to go for it one day, finishing her debut novel is less than 3 months. Since choosing self-publishing, she’s loved every step of her journey through the indie world.

book review

Twenties Girl

It’s the ’20s again, and for the first review of the year, I’d like to talk about Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

  • Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Lara is adrift in the world when she’s forced to go to her estranged Great Aunt Sadie’s funeral. She barely knew Sadie existed, as her father and rich, coffee baron uncle never really brought her up. But as Lara sits in the nearly empty funeral home, a slim, chic, upset young woman yells, “Where’s my necklace?”

Lara soon learns she’s the only one who can see Sadie’s ghost. Sadie appears as she did in the 1920’s, glamorous and blunt with a smart mouth and a missing dragonfly necklace, and she won’t rest until Lara finds her favorite jewelry. And no one is louder or pushier than Sadie.

She needs to save her failing business, reclaim the love of her ex boyfriend, and stop Sadie from using her shrill scream to persuade people to do her bidding…including having an American man go on a date with Lara so Sadie can live vicariously through her. From vintage shops and police stations to the London Portrait Gallery and backstage at a fashion show, Lara will do whatever it takes to help her new favorite aunt.

I’m a big Sophie Kinsella fan and always love the lighthearted stories she tells. I was skeptical of the paranormal aspect, as the only time I read ghost stories are when murder and horror are general themes. But Sadie is both a phantom and a real character with real feelings.

The romance in the story took a backseat to the relationship between Lara and Sadie. Their growing bond has highs and lows speckled with hilarious moments. I also enjoyed the small bits of flapper lifestyle like the makeup routine and how to do the Charleston dance.

Overall, Twenties Girl is a charming, witty take on chick lit and what it means to have a guardian angel.

New Book, sale

Royally Abandoned Sale

Happy holidays everyone!

We’re had such a fun year so far as friends and writers. Sarah’s been busy with her recent move to Virginia and her job in personnel security. Kelsey’s still working for the nonprofit and her daughter started kindergarten.

We’ve been to New York City for dinner with Tule Publishing, went to Hallmark’s first Christmas Con, and had some of our books pitched to film directors. Between late night phone calls, constant rewrites, and brainstorming sessions, we’ve also began more writing projects we hope to share more about soon.

We’re thrilled to say we’ve set up a special holiday sale to round out the year where Royally Abandoned will be on sale for only $0.99 from now until December 26th!

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

Greyson Montgomerydreams 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?

This book is available for only $0.99 on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play HERE!PS. Royally Abandoned is up for a Swoony Award in the Christmas Romance and Royal/Celebrity Romance! If you’d like to vote, click HERE and type in the title and our names.