book review · France · Germany · historical fiction · WWII

Book Review – The Daughter’s Tale

The Daughter’s Tale

by Armando Lucas Correa

The Daughter’s Tale is immersive, both heartbreaking and redemptive, steeped in harrowing historical events and heroic acts of compassion that will have you reflecting on the best and worst the human heart has to offer. Fans of WWII history and book clubs will find depth and skillful storytelling here, but on a deeper level, searing questions about life, love, and the choices we make in the most impossible of circumstances.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable family saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac GirlsWe Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.

BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is inter­rupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.

NEW YORK, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.

Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the war. Heart­breaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.

My Review

I had to take some time out before writing a review for this book just to gather my thoughts. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read, and the WWII era in Europe in particular. Having visited Oradour-sur-Glane recently, I can only imagine the horror of what happened there. Seeing the village as it is now, untouched since those days as a ghostly reminder, only makes this story more poignant. However, if truth be told, I felt those macabre events were glossed over. Although, that’s my personal opinion and might not be the same for everyone.

For me, the story was beautifully written – the author conjures up vivid imagery and emotions – it’s not hard to see why this story has been called heartbreaking by so many.
From the 1930s in Berlin, we witnessed the all-too-familiar story of the rise of fascism, and the effect it had on the Steinberg family made for compelling reading. The injustice grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go, as we pray for a positive outcome for Amanda and her daughters, knowing all too well of the atrocities that could befall them.
Sending Viera off to Cuba alone, having her letters returned, and then to have to send Lina to the safety of another woman – Amanda was such a strong character, wanting the best for her girls and living with the guilt of ‘abandoning’ them.
Lina became Elise, and despite still being in hiding she blamed herself for so much – again, so heartbreaking to see a young girl having to deal with so much trauma and guilt. Wow!
However, at this point my heart went out to Danielle -she was such a tough cookie, following her mother’s will to the letter, yet always the one on the outside. Unbearably sad.

To be honest, the modern day story of Elise didn’t appeal to me. I could quite happily have read the story without that aspect of it. That being said, I guess it provided some closure on Elise’s life and for that alone it would be worthwhile to include.

As I’ve said, the writing is beautiful. However, at times the gorgeous prose slowed the story down and I found myself skimming to get ahead. Nonetheless, a tragic story that encompasses so many emotions in a way that we can only be thankful to only read about those days, rather than live through them ourselves.

As always,

cover reveal · crime · feminist fiction · justice

Cover Reveal – Side Chick Nation

Side Chick Nation_FINAL

Check out the hot new cover for Aya de León’s upcoming book, Side Chick Nation! The story sounds just as sizzling!

Side Chick Nation (A Justice Hustler’s Book)

Expected Publication Date: June 25th, 2019

Genre: Feminist Crime Fiction

Pages: 352

Dulce García was a teen sexually exploited by a violent New York pimp until Marisol Rivera rescued her. But Dulce didn’t stay rescued for long. In SIDE CHICK NATION, Dulce’s unhealed trauma and appetite for thrills lead her into an endless party of sugar daddies in the Caribbean. Until she gets caught in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico—and witnesses both the heartbreaking disaster of climate change, and the international vultures who plunder the tragedy for a financial killing, making shady use of relief funds to devastate the island even more . . .

Meanwhile, New York-based mastermind thief Marisol already has her hands full fleecing a ruthless CEO who’s stealing her family’s land in Puerto Rico and getting her relatives out alive. An additional crew member could be game-changing, but she’s wary of Dulce’s unpredictability and history of indiscretion. Still, Dulce’s growing determination to get justice draws Marisol in, along with her formidable Lower East Side Women’s Health Clinic’s heist squad. But their on-the-fly race-against-the-clock plan is soon complicated by a sexy crusading journalist—not to mention powerful men who turn deadly when ex-side chicks step out of the shadows and demand to call the shots…

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About the Author

Aya and book

Aya de León teaches creative writing in UC Berkeley’s African American Studies Department. Her award-winning Justice Hustlers series has received acclaim in the Washington Post, Jacobin Magazine, and The Establishment. Her work has also appeared in Ebony, Essence, Guernica, Ploughshares, The Root, VICE, and on Def Poetry. She is an alumna of Cave Canem and VONA.

Aya de León |Twitter | Facebook

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book news · Excitement · querying

A New Story – A New Challenge

Eight-year-old Susan adores her parents,

so when they’re arrested she’s convinced the police have the wrong family.

They don’t.

She does.

Alex & Hana Russell are parents seeking a child.

When their son is born without a heartbeat, and complications mean Hana

will never have another child, despair sets in.

When Alex steps in to break up a fight at the shelter where he’s a volunteer,

he doesn’t expect to be offered a solution to their parenting problem.

The offer presents them with a three-year-old girl they call Susan.

The same offer, however, has some nefarious strings attached.

Hugo and Emma Webb are parents missing a child.

When a hoax bomb threats creates panic at a popular family attraction,

their three-year-old daughter cannot be found anywhere.

Their search for her is fruitless, but they’ll never stop hoping.

Five years later, Susan undertakes a school project to draw her family tree.

Her parents are not exactly forthcoming.

What are they hiding?

Susan takes her questions elsewhere.

No-one is prepared for the events that follow

as her life unravels rapidly – along with her identity.

Now the truth must be told.

But just how do you tell a child she was stolen?

I was originally planning to publish this story in the summer.

Then PitMad happened.

So I’m now querying the story to a couple of agents who expressed interest.

Wish me luck!

betrayal · blog tour · book review · British · cosy · historical · mystery · revenge · romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Family Secret

The Family Secret

by Terry Lynn Thomas

The Family Secret

Will she find the truth?

England, 1940

After a sudden unexplained disappearance, Thomas Charles comes back into Cat Carlisle’s life with the suggestion she leave London – and the threat of bombs – to move to back her childhood village in Cumberland.

Back in her hometown Cat discovers her childhood friend, Beth Hargreaves, is suspected of murder. As Cat tries to prove Beth’s innocence, she discovers a scheme of deception that affects the whole village. Can she uncover the family truths behind the murder and expose the enemy hiding in plain sight?

Get ready for another gripping read from USA Today bestselling author of THE SILENT WOMAN!

Purchase Links

UK –

US –

Author Bio

Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. The Drowned Woman is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, came out in April 2018 and has since become a USA TODAY bestseller. When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Social Media Links –

My Review

The Family Secret is a cosy, historical mystery set during WWII – one of my favourite eras to read about, especially in fiction. So, it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly lapped up every page of this book.

The heroine, Cat Carlisle is a strong-minded redhead with a warm and caring streak. But, never think that Cat will lurk on the sidelines when there’s a mystery to be solved or when a friend is highlighted as a suspect.

When a former friend and colleague, Thomas Charles, asks her to move back to her hometown to help him with his next book – and, of course, to escape the bombings that are expected in London – she does so for two reasons. Firstly, she is looking forward to being around Thomas again (to whom she seems scared to confess her feelings), but also because Annie (her ward) is scared of bombs and air raid sirens.

What Cat doesn’t know is that Thomas is going there for reasons other than his next book. His real job is to investigate a murder. He can’t tell Cat about this though, because she’ll want to get get involved – and that could really mess things up. Cat is known for digging a little too deeply and for causing all sorts of drama – even when she thinks she has done an altogether amazing job!

But, as I mentioned, Cat Carlisle is not going to take a back seat for anyone or anything. There may be trouble ahead!

As the stakes intensify, other characters come into their own, bringing tension, drama, a touch of unrequited love, a lot of envy and plenty of vengeful desires. The twists and turns are plentiful, and the opposing viewpoints always keeps the mystery at the forefront.

The Family Secret is the second book in the Cat Carlisle series, and despite not having read book one, this was an easy-to-follow story with enough information about the past to keep the reader up to speed in Cat’s lifestory and, more importantly, her past behaviour and its impact.

I’d definitely read more by this author in future, whether from this series or others.

Thank you to the author, NetGalley & Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and review this book. The opinions given here belong to me, are my own and only mine, so help me Hermes (apparently the god of literature, amongst many other things 😉 )

For more reviews and interviews, check out these blogs:

As always,

99p books · book news · coming of age · family · romance · short reads · short story

Book Promo – Play the Game

Play the Game

by Karen J Mossman


Going on a first date is always daunting, and more so for Stella,

I was an idiot. Why would I ever agree to go to a posh hotel for dinner with a hot guy? Who was I kidding? Food! The thought of a hot meal made my stomach grumble. The last time I ate anything hot was payday in the work’s canteen.

Looking at the pile of clothes on the bed, I realised that each piece of clothing had been tried on and discarded, and now my wardrobe was bare. I couldn’t recall the last time I went on a date or bought something new.

It was awkward, as guys generally asked questions. I couldn’t tell anyone about my circumstances or my dad. Anyway, who’d believe me?

Get your copy here

Coping with past tragedies, Stella lives on hope in the present. 

She plays the game and hopes that one day she will beat the odds.

Is this all there is to Stella’s story?

Self shame is the enemy…. It is a power struggle.

At times it may seem hopeless and pointless to fight the inner demons.

Sometimes, when your self esteem is low, it takes a special someone to help build it up again.

Join Karen J. Mossman at The Magic of Stories and receive Joanna’s Journey for FREE!


blog tour · book review · dual timeline · historical · Ireland · NetGalley · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Forgotten Secret

The Forgotten Secret

by Kathleen McGurl

Thank you to the author, NetGalley & Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and review this book. The opinions given here belong to me, are my own and only mine, so help me Hermes (apparently the god of literature, amongst many other things 😉 )

The Forgotten Secret

A country at war

It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

And a long-buried secret

A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.

For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.

Get your copy here:

UK  –

US  –  

Author Bio

KATHLEEN MCGURL lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Social Media Links –


Twitter: @KathMcGurl



My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and will definitely look for more from this author.

So what’s it all about?

The historical element centres on the relationship between Ellen O’Brien & Jimmy Gallagher – she’s an upstairs maid, he’s a Volunteer, fighting for a free Ireland. They’ve known each other since childhood, and everyone agrees they are made for each other. While Jimmy is off fighting, Ellen moves into Carlton House as a maid, sharing a room with another girl, Siobhan. Ellen is trusted by the employer, Mrs Carlton (aka Madame) and helps the Cause by carrying messages in milk cans, as well as nursing a Volunteer friend of hers, Captain Cunningham. Cunningham fought alongside Jimmy and, once returned to good health, he leaves the house to do so again.

But soon, Jimmy & Cunningham are both forced into hiding as the Black and Tans are looking for them. Ellen is desperate to see Jimmy, and is aided by Madame to spend one last night with Jimmy before he has to flee again. During this brief reunion, Jimmy gives her his medallion by way of an engagement ring, and the two of them look forward to a time when they can marry and live happily. Once Jimmy has gone, Ellen finds out she is pregnant. She cannot work at the House anymore and has to return to her father’s home, but her conscience tells her to warn Madame of her room-mate’s betrayal. Before she can do that, Madame is captured and taken to prison.

Ellen’s father is ashamed of her pregnancy and sends her away to the Merciful Sisters – a Magdalene laundry for fallen women. She has the baby and calls him James, then the wait begins. She expects her father or Jimmy to come and collect her. When it becomes obvious that no one is coming, Ellen escapes from the laundry and goes to look for her father – leaving baby James behind to be looked after by her friend Mairead.

Her father has gone, fled Ireland, stating there was nothing to keep him there – not even her or his grandson. Ellen visits Jimmy’s family farm – Clonamurty farm – which she knows as well as her own. The place has been destroyed, turned upside down and is empty apart from a few bloodstains. She leaves the medallion and baby James’ birth certificate in their secret hiding place, hoping jimmy will find it and know she is okay and that he has a son. She heads back to collect her son, and on the way meets Captain Cunningham, who pulls her to safety when the Black & Tans march past looking for any Volunteer fighter. The captain and Ellen agree to meet in two days’ time at her father’s house, where he hopes to give her news of Jimmy and his family.

However, on returning to the laundry, she is told the baby died, and is shown a mound of earth meant to be his grave. She leaves, numb and distraught, and heads for her father’s home to await the captain.

His news of Jimmy is not good, and he takes Ellen to live with his sister. Having lost everyone who meant anything to her, Ellen has to learn to live and love again.


In modern times, Clare is married to Paul when her uncle Padraig leaves her the family farm in Ireland, Paul, who is uber controlling and most annoying, wants to sell the farm and has plans to spend the money on things that he wants. He makes no attempt to include Clare in the decision.It comes as no surprise that Clare wants to leave him, his controlling nature has finally broken their relationship. She considers starting again in Ireland, and when her sons urge her to do so, then she makes the big move. As expected, Paul is gobsmacked, he cannot believe she is going and he fully expects her to return in a few days. After all, who will cook his meals and iron his shirts? He truly is a ‘piece of work’.

In Ireland, Clare befriends the owner of the village cake shop, Janice, and the bookstore owner, Ryan. Paul still pesters her with snide messages and tells her she’ll be running back to him in no time.

She tidies up the farm and vows to fill it with items of furniture that she loves, for a change. With a hobby of refurbishing old furniture, she spots an old armchair that she feels sure she could restore. Taking it apart, she finds Ellen’s medallion and the birth certificate, which inspire her to know more about the people who lived in her new house before her family, and to trace her own genealogy.

To be honest, the story falls apart a little at this point for me, as she seems to dwell on the former inhabitants of the house, more so than her own family, only learning that Granny Irish was a spy in the war of independence. She doesn’t trace her own family any further than that and is more interested in the medallion and the birth cert.

While she is happily settling in, Paul still has other ideas and his plan to get her back is both extreme and maniacal. It is the final nail in the coffin of their marriage, and Clare realises for certain that there is no going back to being his wife.

With Ryan’s help, she manages to trace baby James – and the story that follows here is as beautiful as it is sad as we learn what happened back at the Merciful Sisters, and also how Ellen’s life panned out.

The twist at the end succeeds in misdirecting the reader. The penny dropped for me about halfway, but it was nicely hidden until the big reveal towards the end.

I enjoyed the history of this story, knowing very little about the Irish fight for independence. The whole story had a great cast of characters, aside from Paul and some evil nuns! The author handled the issues of what happened in those laundries with great sensitivity, and the controlling husband of modern days was dealt with most effectively too.

I read the whole book in short space of time, always keen to pick it up again. I felt like I was immersed in the lives of both women, living their lives and understanding their thoughts and emotions.

I would highly recommend this book, and would read more by this author in a shot.

For more reviews, excerpts and guest posts, check out these other amazing blogs:

As always,

adventure · blog blitz · fantasy

Fantasy Blog Blitz with Giveaway

The OnyxCrownBlitz

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom!

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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onyx crown poster - savannah


For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

*Available Now*

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About the Author


Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard. Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker. When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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book review · mystery · recommended · suspense · tense

Book Recommendation – Gone The Next

Gone The Next

by Ben Rehder

Meet Roy Ballard, freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts—the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report—and with his history, who can blame them?—it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

Considering the subject matter, the topic is handled with great sensitivity. After learning that Roy has experience of losing a child, then it was very easy to root for him. Added to that he has the kind of sense of humour that you can’t help but like, and laugh along with.
It was a fun, fast suspense read that kept me turning the pages with an interesting choice of main character. I don’t think I’ve seen an insurance fraud investigator in the ‘detective’ role before. Of course, the rules for him are different to those of a PI, and Roy is not averse to using that to his advantage.
A great story, and one that makes me want to read more from this author.

Get your copy here: Amazon

As always,