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 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

After Anna

I love horror and thrillers. Something about zombies and midnight murders really pull me into stories. But nothing gets to me quite like books with realistic bases. Nothing’s scarier to me than what people can to do to each other. I recently read After Anna by Alex Lake and I have a lot to say.

  • Genre: Thriller
  • Overall Rating 6/6 Glass slippers

Julia’s life isn’t perfect. She and her husband are separating, her mother-in-law hates her, and her meetings at work often run late. The one shining spot is her five year old daughter Anna. But one day, another meeting runs late and she doesn’t get to the school in time to pick Anna up. When she arrives, the school is empty and Anna is gone.

A week later, Anna returns. Julia thinks the nightmare is over, but maybe it’s only just begun.

What follows is the harrowing reality for Julia that she has become part of an international news story, the kind she used to read with her morning coffee and think, that would never happen to me. I wouldn’t be so negligent. I wouldn’t make the same mistake as those parents. I would find my daughter.

I have a five year old daughter, so this book hit particularly close to home for me. It mirrored some of my own fears about raising a child in a world so large, it’s scarily easy to disappear. The author did a fantastic job of bringing those feelings to the page in an uncomfortable, winding way that made my skin crawl.

Another element that was particularly jarring was the glimpses into the kidnapper. They had a plan, they were too smart for police, they would never get caught. They were so sure that everything would go just as they hoped, failure was not an option. This little peeks into their thoughts were just enough to drive home how deranged this person was, and how meticulous they were.

Overall, I really enjoyed the chilling tale, even if it had predictable moments. They really caught the terror one small mistake can ultimately bring.

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.

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

Temporary Wife Temptation

I’ve been so busy with work and my family, my poor TBR pile has been sadly neglected. But new author Jayci Lee drew me in with her first novel Temporary Wife Temptation, book one of Heirs of Hansol series. I settled onto my couch one quiet morning after school drop off with a cup of coffee and my dog. Before I knew it, I had finished the book and already craving book two.

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Tropes: Billionaire Romance/Fake Relationship
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Garrett Song is rich, handsome, and poised to take over his family’s fashion empire, Hansol. He can walk on the wild side, but knows his duty as the heir to the proverbial throne. When his grandmother wants to play matchmaker to join the Song family forces with another influential family, comes up with a plan. He hates the idea of marriage and plans on being a lifelong bachelor. But then he decides to handpick his own wife, one he knows would benefit from their marriage just as much as he would. If only he can get her to accept.

Natalie Sobol is having a rough time. She’s been working for Hansol for a while, and has her eye on a position that could validate her career choices and set her up for life. But the death of her sister and brother-in-law leave her the guardian of a little girl, her life goes into a tailspin. She needs a promotion and money for her niece’s medical issues and schooling. She hadn’t planned on being a parent just yet, but when Garret offers her a way to get everything she wants, it’s hard to say no…only there’s a catch, one that makes her question everything.

In the beginning, the deal is clear. They marry so Garret gets the CEO position and Natalie is promoted to the VP of Human Resources and is able to fully adopt her niece. They’ll attend parties, go out to dinner, and appear on the outside as a perfectly devoted pair. After enough time passes, they’ll simply annul their marriage. After all, they don’t plan on actually ever consummating it…right?

Temporary Wife Temptation is basically what happens when The Proposal, The Wedding Date, and Crazy Rich Asians combine forces. Sexy, funny, and interesting, the story sets off at a run from page one, not leaving any room for unnecessary filler or fluff. You dive right in to Garret and Natalie’s story, getting both points of view from the beginning.

I really enjoy fake relationship romances and anything with fabulously wealthy people. The world Lee created is the perfect blend of luxury living and real life issues. There’s enough reality to keep you grounded as you follow the romance, but more than enough champagne living to sweeten the deal. It also wasn’t terribly predictable. There were enough twists and turns between the romance to make you wonder if Garret and Natalie would make a real go of their relationship or just start counting down the days until they could split for good.


Interview, New Book

Meet Daniel Williamson

Meeting new authors is always top on my list of fun things to do. And as a parent, it’s rare I meet children’s authors. Today, I’d like to introduce Daniel Williamson, who has created a line of educational picture books to teach kids new languages in a fun and new way.

Daniel Williamson was born in London and earned a scholarship to attend Bembridge Private School on the Isle of Wight, largely due to his advanced English writing skills. During his teenage years, he articulated in theater, band, and choir. After attending Nottingham Trent University, he began traveling the globe to such locations as The Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China, and Christ the Redeemer.

After the birth of his daughter Carmela, his passion for writing was re-ignited, and after a brief spell script writing he turned his attention to children’s stories due to the inspiration he gained from his mother Jacqueline’s Montessori nursery and his own volunteer work at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

His current titles include the Look at me I’m learning series, which focuses on teaching young children the basics of a new language through colourful picture books. Currently languages include French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish and Brazilian Portuguese with many more language books and rhyming picture books already under development for 2020 and beyond.

  • What inspired you to write children’s language books?

I had already written a few rhyming picture books when a friend pointed out to me that she couldn’t find one decent picture book to help her cousin teach their son Italian. At this point I had a light bulb moment. I did some research and found this was true for all languages pretty much. There were bilingual books out there but they mostly looked like boring text books and not endearing to young children. I decided if I could make a series that started with the basics of language in a colourful and playful way this would be a great gateway for any parent wishing to introduce their child to a new language.

  • Are you fluent in any languages?

Languages were always my favourite subjects at school where I studied French, German and Spanish for a combination of 15 years. I’ve been learning Brazilian Portuguese for the last 2 years. Would say I’m more conversational than fluent in all 4 which is why I used professional translators for my books.

  • Do you have any other languages you’d like to cover?

The series currently has 6 languages covered with 4 more arriving within the next 6 weeks. What I love about this series is that the possibilities are endless and if there is demand for new languages I aim to fulfil it. I have a great model in that the story and artwork template are complete donee languages just need to be translated professionally and then it’s effectively cut and paste. I also believe 100% that there is potential for the whole series to be back-translated and go global and so I am looking for the right literary agent or publisher to help me achieve that.

  • What age group are your books best suited for?

The subtitle reads ‘A story for ages 2-8’ but I’ve heard of children as young as 1 and as old as 10 enjoying the books. Even some adults have bought them in order to teach themselves the basics!

  • What were your favorite children’s books growing up?

I think everybody has that one picture book as their go to growing up. Mine was Not now Bernard by David McKee. An absolute classic which is still held in high regard today. After that it was Roald Dahl all the way, I couldn’t get enough of his creative characters, funny words and simply beautiful stories. Even 30 years later I think he is still influencing me in my writing as whenever I have a quirky moment I smirk and think about him.

  • What are your dreams for your book series?

I want this book series to help as many parents as possible to enjoy introducing their mother (or father) tongue to their children. Learning a language should be fun and so I’m hoping to bridge the gap with the colourful artwork. As mentioned I want this series to grow and grow and reach every corner of the globe. To have the series back translated and receive messages from people in every continent telling me how much the children enjoy them. Growing this global ‘family’ of readers will also give me the opportunity to share my other stories with the world and hopefully spread a lot of happiness along the way.

  • Will you always stay within the children’s books or do you have plans for any YA or adult novels?

I believe I will stay within picture books and YA. First I wish to expand my language series, then I have 3 more picture books written that just need the artwork finished. I’m also currently in the planning phases of a YA fantasy series with a talented artist with some fantastic and original ideas so looking forward to pushing my boundaries.

To order any of Daniel Williamson’s langue books for kids, you can shop now HERE.

To keep up to date on all of Daniel Williamson’s work and be alerted when he releases new work, visit him on any of his platforms.

  • Visit his website HERE
  • Visit his Facebook HERE
  • Visit his Twitter HERE
  • Visit his Instagram HERE