Book Review: Dona Gracia’s Gold Pendant

Title: Dona Gracia’s Gold Pendant
Author: Michal Aharoni Regev
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine having to guard the secret of your family under the threat of mortal danger

This historical novel is a story of love, jealousy, intrigue, mortal terror – of family secrets, courage, and devotion. It depicts the wide-ranging journey of Doña Gracia Nasi, a wealthy young Jewish widow from a family of forced converts, exiled from Spain in the 16th Century. Doña Gracia’s turbulent history comes to life, from age 12, when she is first told the secret of her forcibly converted family, to her escape from the terrors of the Inquisition in Portugal finally to Constantinople, via London, Antwerp, Venice, Ferrara, Lyon and Saloniki.

The true story of Doña Gracia – forced convert, tycoon, charmer of kings, savior of her people!

A successful businesswoman and visionary in a world in which women had no rights, Doña Gracia risks her life and her immense fortune to save her persecuted people. She powerfully bends kings to her will in an era of flourishing culture and the religious battles between Christians, Jews, and Moslems. Heralded the “Queen of the Jews,” she succeeded in obtaining a royal decree from the Ottoman sultan to settle the city of Tiberias. Meanwhile, her heartbreaking feud with her sister, Brianda, nearly sparked a world war!

In Dona Gracia’s Gold Pendant, main character Dona Gracia Nasi, a wealthy young Jewish widow from a forcibly converted family, shares her life story with the reader. The book starts out with Dona Gracia being barely twelve years old and being told the terrible secrets haunting her family, and follows her as she grows up, flees the terrors of the inquisition in Portugal, and risks everything to save her persecuted people, even the wrath of kings.

This book was downright amazing. I had never heard of Dona Gracia before, but she’s such a charismatic, strong, determined woman that I couldn’t help but be inspired by her strength and courage. The setting was described in great detail, making the historical scenes come to life on the pages. The rich culture, the historical details, all of this gave the book an authentic, plausible feel.

Ideal for fans of historical fiction and strong female protagonists.

Book Review: The Ones Who Won by Nuria Amir

Title: The Ones Who Won
Author: Nuria Amir
Genre: Middle-Eastern, Sports, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Meet ambitious, dynamic Tamar – a young star bucking the system.

This captivating true story, based on diary entries, takes place in the early days of the kibbutz. Tamar, an adolescent girl and the story’s heroine, draws the reader into a whirlwind of emotions, adventure, and constant wonder at the power of nature. She likes to challenge herself and almost every rule and framework of the society in which she lives. She is swept into a world of competitions and ambitious high achievement.

Plots and sub-plots intertwine as Tamar courageously navigates her path.

How will the equality-based kibbutz society, built largely by Tamar’s parents, react to the young Israeli champion? She forms a courageous friendship and a treacherous love. A weapon appears in the story’s beginning and is fired at its conclusion, bringing about a surprising and tragic ending. The motif of endless confrontation between the individual and society and how society imposes its rules comes to light through Tamar’s unique reactions. Can she maintain her freedom?

In The Ones Who Won, Tamar is a young woman growing up in a community known as kibbutz – something I knew next to nothing about. The book sheds an interesting light on the kibbutz community, from the perspective of a young woman raised in these circumstances.

It’s an intriguing perspective, and through Tamar’s reactions on certain situations, you realize as a reader how different life is for people raised this way. Despite this, Tamar is a strong-willed woman who likes to challenge herself, particularly in sports, and who sets very high goals for herself.

An inspiring book, well-written and captivating.


Book Review: Love Lost in the War by Orit Raz

Title: Love Lost in the War
Author: Orit Raz
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Israel loves Paula, but they are separated in their struggle to survive World War II

Israel and Paula are teens living in Biala Podlaska, Poland, on the eve of World War II. One day Israel tells Paula that he will marry her in a few years. She objects, and their friendship ends. But when the Germans enter the city, they flee together to Russia and volunteer in Soviet labor camps – to survive. They are sent to different places. Paula works as a nurse, where she excels and is sent to Moscow to study medicine. There she marries Mila and has a son, but Mila dies at war soon after.

At war’s end, in love from afar, will they ever succeed in reuniting?

Meanwhile, Israel returns to his hometown as a Polish soldier and finds a letter from Paula. Their love is rekindled from afar, and he proposes marriage by mail. But will Israel ever be able to manipulate the Russian authorities to obtain a visa to penetrate the Iron Curtain and then reunite with Paula in Moscow? Will their love ever again be free to flourish?

Love Lost in the War is the tragic story of Israel and Paula. As teenagers in Poland, Israel falls in love with Paula. Yet when Israel proposes marriage, Paula is reluctant to wait a few years to get married, and this abruptly stops their friendship. But when the Germans occupy the city, Israel and Paula escape together.

Still, the war tears them apart again. Paula gets married and has a son, but her husband Mila dies during the war. Israel, in the meantime, has returned to Poland, where he finds a letter from Paula and starts having feelings for her again… But can their love survive war?

This is an inspiring story about how long can transcend even the worst circumstances, such as war. For me, the story was quite personal as my own grandmother and grandfather got seperated during the war – my grandfather took his brother’s place to go to one of the labor camps when his brother got arrested for smuggling. My grandmother was about to marry someone else when my grandfather showed up back in town, several years after World War II (yes, this is the kind of stuff you only see in movies). Everyone was convinced my grandfather had passed away in the war but in reality, it just took him several years to get back home after having been freed by American soldiers.

Anyway, back to the book. It reminded me a lot about my personal story and maybe that’s part of why I liked it so much, but another part of it was the lyrical prose. I’m a huge fan of Raz’ writing here and the prose is perfect for a love story such as this one.


Book Review: Four Winds of Love by Danny Caspi

Title: Four Winds of Love
Author: Danny Caspi
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Do you really know your parents? Their loves? Their lives? Their secrets?

Can a child ever recover lost memories and finally know the truth about his parents? This story begins in Paris in the thirties and ends in Israel in the nineties. It is told through four voices, whose lives and loves intertwine through a complex of feelings, secrets, and loyalties: Yakir, the cultured translator, and Jacob, the small town school teacher, are both involved back and forth in Betty’s life. Her son, the deserted, innocent witness, will later reconstruct the pieces, glued together by memories.
A unique, impassioned true-life story interwoven with a true-life history

But mostly, it is a novel about a unique woman, about desertions, loneliness, acceptance, and forgiveness. With exceptional sensitivity, this family story unfolds, with heroes whose pain, joy, vulnerability, and vitality blend with moving historical events to create a tantalizing evocation of the power of the imagination to remember and heal what the heart has been striving to forget.

Four Winds of Love is an emotional journey of one woman’s life, her secrets, her family ties, the unique elements that make her her, the family that surrounded her, shaped her and helped her grow.

The book is partially based on the author’s memories of his mother, which slowly returned to him as he became older, but part of it is fiction as well. It’s a nice blend, with historical events crisscrossing through the book, giving it a more realistic vibe.

The book has a rather slow start, though, and the pacing never really gets to where it should, always a tad too slow. Despite that, the characters and story were still enjoyable, but if I had to give one criticism, this would be it.

Book Review: The Word of Abusz Werber by Michel Werber

Title: The Word of Abusz Werber
Author: Michel Werber
Genre: Biographical, Historical Fiction, World War II
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The extraordinary life story of Abusz Werber before, during and after the Second World War

Abusz Werber grew up in Poland from which he moved to Belgium. During the Nazi occupation, he was the party leader of “Linke Poale Zion” (Left-wing Workers of Zion), a Zionist-Socialist party in Belgium, and one of the initiators of the Jewish Defense Committee of Belgium. This committee managed to save about 3,000 children and several thousand Jewish adults from the clutches of the Nazis.

A secret newspaper telling the truth!

With his party comrades, Abusz Werber ensured the editing, publication and distribution of 28 issues of a secret (underground) newspaper in Yiddish, “Unzer Wort” (Our Word), which appeared until the Liberation in September 1944 (and even after). In this newspaper, he assiduously denounced the lies of the German occupant, as well as those of the Belgian Association of Jews, who collaborated with them. He called neither to follow their orders nor to respond when summoned to go to Mechelen, a transit camp before deportation.

“The Word of Abusz Werber” gives Werber a place for his words

This book is an attempt to tell Werber’s story and give him and his party members and activists the place they deserve in the chronicles of the fight against Nazism.

The Word of Abusz Werber” is the story of – you guessed it – Abusz Werber, a man who grew up in Poland and then moved to Belgium. During the years of Nazi occupatio, he was the party leader of “Linke Poale Zion”, which was the zionist-socialist party in Belgium. He also worked for the Jewish Defense Committee in Belgium, which manages to save 3000 children from the Nazis.

Abusz also worked on an underground newspaper describing the truth of the situation, and the horrors the Germans were inflicting upon innocent people.

Since I live in Belgium, I felt compelled to read Abusz Werber’s story. I had heard of the transit camp in Mechelen in Belgium, of the traitors among some of the Belgian parties, the collaborators, the horrors that took place, even on Belgian soil, but hearing about it vaguely and reading about it in detail are two different matters.

If you’re Belgian (and even if you’re not) and you want to know more about the Jewish resistance here during World War II, then this book is a great place to start. Abusz Werber was truly a remarkable man, a courageous man, and a righteous man as well.

Book Tours: Book Spotlight The Hanging Women

A historical crime thriller set in 1886 Chicago; the power house of America, a sink of corruption and vice which is haunted by riots and gangland killings.  A story of weak men and strong women.

Jack Stevens discovers the bodies of two women, Philomena Blackstaff and Mary Walsh, tied together and hung by their ankles in a position resembling the symbol for treachery as depicted on tarot cards. Though retired and now wealthy, Stevens is an ex-sheriff and involves himself in the subsequent investigation.

As a result of Jack `stealing’ Philomena’s diary and his association with the Pinkerton detective agency, it is discovered that Mary Walsh worked undercover for the Pinkertons, investigating the Knights of Labour (the fastest growing workers’ rights movements in America of the late 1800’s). The women had been working together, tracing the man who was selling guns and dynamite to the more extremest factions of the workers movement. This led them to Ruby’s, a secret `nightclub for deviants’, where Stevens and Inspector O’Leary believe the pair fell foul of the man they were looking for, gang leader Joseph Mannheim.

With the May 4th Haymarket riots and bombings looming, Stevens must uncover the truth about The Hanging Women before it’s too late.

Purchase Link

Author Bio

John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.
His inspiration for his debut novel came whilst attending a lecture in Denver about the history of the American midwest, describing a time and place that was very different from that espoused by popular culture, which started him thinking this would make a excellent period in which to set a crime story.
His book describes how Chicago was a prototype of much that we consider both good and bad in the current age, it had a vibrancy and decadence that allowed a few enterprising individuals to prosper whilst violence and intolerance held back many others. The situation for some African Americans and women was improving but it was still a time when to be anything other than white and male made you a second class citizen.  The city was the manufacturing and transport hub of America, the vast influx of immigrants swelling its already booming population brought great wealth but also corruption and criminality. The midwest and Chicago typified a way of life, the ‘gun culture’ which is a euphemism for individualism, from which much of modern American social values have grown.

John is currently working on a trilogy of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city: a Whitechapel noir.


Social Media Links





Book Review: Kedesha by Ohad Pele Ezrahi

Title: Kedesha: A Timeless Tale of a Love Priestess
Author: Ohad Pele Ezrahi
Genre: Middle-Eastern, Ancient World, Historical Fiction, Romance, Historical Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sacred sexual rituals bring Tara’s soul to the ancient Temple of Astarte

Tara is a young American who travels to Jerusalem, where she meets Yoni, a handsome Israeli who is a sexual shaman. Yoni and his wife Hagar take Tara on journeys of deep self revelation, using ancient rituals and sacred sexuality, that link her soul to the ancient Temple of Astarte, which stood in Jerusalem before the monotheistic revolution of the 7th century BC.

A priest of Yahweh is pitted against the ancient temple priestesses

In a parallel story, a sexually frustrated priest of Yahweh vows to destroy Astarte’s temple and her sexual rites. An ancient sacred scroll surfaces containing orders to wipe out any form of worship other than that of Yahweh.

Ancient and modern religions merge at the nexus of spiritual sexual secrets

Who wrote this early tome that so deeply influenced the history of religion and of the world? How did the Love Goddess priestesses respond to attempts to destroy their path? With magical vibrations, the author weaves together ancient history and modern fiction and sweeps the reader into secret chambers where sexuality and sacredness meet in awe. This book will change the way you see the history of the world, religion, culture, and sexuality.


In Kedesha, young American girl Tara travels to Jersulam where she meets Yoni and his wife. Both of them, and in particular Yoni, take Tara on a journey of self-discovery, of growth and of  acceptance, using ancient rituals and sacred sexuality–and accepting her own sexuality, which was long banned by religion that saw female sexuality as something demonic.

The story is a postivie one, with a deeply influential message and a journey of growth, of one’s mind and spirit. In this book, the author relays that it’s okay to enjoy oneself, that it’s all right to derive pleasure from the joy of feeling alive, from the pleasures that life – and in particular, sex – can give. Our body is not just a body, it’s part of us, of who we are, of our soul and spirit.

This book is not for everyone and if you’re not very open about sexuality, some parts of this book could definitely make you blush or feel a little awkward. Despite that, it’s definitely worth reading and quite an eye-opener.


Book Tours: Starter Day Party Claretta Street

I’m hosting the starter day party today for the book tour for historical fiction “Claretta Street”.

Tour Schedule

April 23rd: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

April 23rd: Promo Post @ Stacking My Book Shelves

April 24th: Promo Post @ Stormy Night Reviewing

April 26th: Author Interview @ Mythical Books

April 27th: Book Excerpt @ The Broke Book Bank

April 28th: Promo Post @ Lisa Queen of Random

April 29th: Book Excerpt @ T’s Stuff

April 30th: Book Excerpt @ Nesie’s Place

April 30th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

About the Book

Title: Claretta Street

Author: Colette Barris

Genre: Historical Fiction

Claretta Street by Colette Barris is a novel of a generation, which follows four young girls affectionately known as the “Babies” as they weave through the turbulent sixties and Civil Rights, coming of age in the decadent and destructive eighties.

Claretta Street is set in the small Los Angeles suburb of Pacoima, a bustling Black-Pride filled town during the Civil Rights era. Pacoima, California, was one of the few places in California where racial covenants were non-existent, allowing African Americans to buy property and businesses without repressive laws working against them. African Americans flocked there to live the “American Dream.” Claretta Street is the complete tale of the African American fate.

Colette Barris brings a fresh voice to the plight of Black experience in America. Claretta Street is clear, concise, yet layered with the complexities that encompass the Black experience in a way not articulated in American literature in years.

Why Claretta Street is Needed…

Today countless discussions on the peril of Black America proliferate in the media, academia, and among social scientists, propelling this continuous Greek tragedy into the main view of America and the world. However, the incendiary foundation and epoch of this unfolding disaster must be told and the veil of destruction exposed-the eighties. Claretta Street takes the reader on a ride of unbelievable clarity and cause, as Denise, in ancient griot form, becomes the voice of the diaspora both prophetic and naïve, stripping down in plain view the causes and emotions of a time of great hope and sadness to preserve through decadence and decline.

Claretta Street is the story of hope and change coupled with the unfortunate forces and juxtaposition of man’s inhumanity and struggle all the while seeking hope and love.

Praise for Claretta Street

“Claretta Street is a classic in the making which depicts the voice and soul of Africans in America. Claretta Street by Colette Barris is a novel of a generation; gut wrenching, it leaves a knot in your throat wanting more.”
—Jackie Ferguson, daughter of famed Pan African nationalist Herman Ferguson

“Check out Claretta Street an amazing read needed now.”
—Kenya Barris, creator of Black-ish, Peabody winner and Emmy nominee.

Author Bio

Writer Colette Barris is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a native of Pacoima, and the older sister of Emmy and Golden Globe nominated Black-ish creator/writer and 2017 Peabody winner Kenya Barris.

Colette Barris brings a fresh voice to the plight of Black experience in America. Claretta Street is clear, concise, yet layered with the complexities that encompass the Black experience in a way not articulated in American literature in years.


Get Claretta Street at, Vroman’s Bookstore, and Book Soup.

Author Interview Miss Mary’s Daugther

1) How long have you been writing?

Encouraged by my publisher father, I have written stories all my life…which is quite a long time.

2) What is your favorite genre to write?

Modern historicals, twentieth century I suppose, though I enjoy writing romances. It depends on my mood.

3) Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Detective fiction

4) Please tell us about your book.

My new book goes back to the Victorian era, so a little earlier than the previous ones. It is set mainly in Cornwall, with some visits to London and is about a dysfunctional family with secrets in its past.

5) Which character was your favourite, and why? Which character was your least favourite, and why?

That would be telling! I have my favourites …so will my readers, so no spoilers. I leave the choice to them.

6) What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Sitting down at the computer to write! I always enjoy the research necessary and often I end up looking up things I don’t need to know, so the answer is, stopping the research and getting on with the writing.

7) What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I don’t have a routine as such, but work according to the dictates of the day. Some days I don’t write at all; others I work flat out all day. When I go into my study I usually put some soft piano music on, which tells my brain it’s time to get to work.

8) How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

That’s a difficult question to answer. The short answer is a year, but often the ideas have been brewing in my mind for far longer than that.

9) Can you tell us about your editing process?

I edit as I go along. When I start work each day I call up what I was working on the day before and work through it again, hoping to move on seamlessly to the next bit. It doesn’t always work, but at least I’m never faced with a blank sheet of paper. Of course the whole book needs to be edited when it’s finished and parts may need to be rewritten, but editing as you go along is usually very productive.

10) Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

No it’s not. This will be a stand-alone, one off.

11) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

If you really aspire to write, then that is what you must do. Sit down and write. There’s no other way to do it and procrastination isn’t only the thief of time, it’s the thief of a good story!

12) Why should everyone read your book?

No book suits everyone. If the book has caught your interest, from the blurb or the jacket, then give it a go. I hope I’ve written about characters who come alive and live with the reader long after they’ve reached the final page.

 13) If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Jane Austen, Lloyd C Douglas and Cynthia Harrod Eagles

14) What inspired you to write your book?

For some time I had been considering writing a book set in Cornwall, and gradually the ideas came together. You can’t wait for inspiration or you’d never write anything. Find something that interests you and then build a story round it.

15) Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I am, but it’s not ready for discussion yet. All I can say is that I’m back in the twentieth century and as so often happens, my characters are living in interesting times.

Author Bio

Diney Costeloe is the bestselling author of The Throwaway Children, The Runaway Family, The Lost Soldier, The Sisters of St Croix and The Girl With No Name. She divides her time between Somerset and West Cork.

About the Book

After her mother’s death, twenty-year-old Sophie Ross is left orphaned in London.

With no money and little chance of an income, she tries to get work as a governess to avoid destitution. Now alone in the world, she only has the company of her erstwhile nursemaid and faithful friend, Hannah.

But unbeknown to Sophie, her mother instructed Hannah to post a letter to Trescadinnick House in Cornwall upon her death. The letter will be the catalyst that changes Sophie’s life forever as she learns of her mother’s romance, marriage and then ultimate rejection by her own father and the estranged family she left behind in Cornwall.

The Penvarrow family welcome Sophie and Hannah into their fold, but tensions rise and family secrets are revealed as Sophie attempts to rebuild her life and find happiness.




Google Play:


Follow Diney


Facebook: @dineycosteloeauthor

Twitter: @Dineycost

Follow Head of Zeus


Facebook: @HoZ_Books

Twitter: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus


Book Review: I’m Not From Around Here by Ishai Klinowsky

Title: I’m Not From Around Here
Author: Ishai Klinowsky
Genre: Memoir, Hisotrical
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What could have led to an encounter between such an unsuitable couple as my parents?

This book is a fascinating life diary, in which reality surpasses all imagination. It takes place against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the fate of the refugees at the end of the war, and the rebirth of the new Israel.

The heroes of the plot are unusual, an antithesis of the weak and submissive Jew, sweeping the reader into a whirlwind of events and countless breathtaking adventures.

How does a weak and very naive girl survive for three years in a deadly forced labor camp where others could not survive for more than a few months?

Lola, the mother, whom we encounter as an innocent girl, sweeps the reader close to the hell of the monstrous and notorious labor camp, Ludwigsdorf.

How does an “antithesis Jew” look to the submissive Jew?

Staszek, the father, a street fighter and a tough and hard-working man from Warsaw, is hot-tempered, cunning, and daring. His gypsy appearance and colorful figure lead many women to fall easily into his arms.

What does a spoiled “mother’s son” and “father’s daughter” feel when they see their family collapsing?

From the eyes of an eight-year-old boy, the writer describes a stormy childhood with many heartrending vicissitudes: parents who disappear overnight, living with strangers, being trapped in a tough orphanage … and more…

Written in flowing and sensitive language, the story presents an accurate balance between a personal and family story and the story of a people.

I’m Not From Around Here is a poignant, strong memoir about the life of one family set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, following the life of refugees trying to find a new home.

The story is told from the point of view of an eight-year-old boy who details not just his own life, but also that of his parents. Of his mother, a seemingly frail woman, who somehow survived a terrible labor camp, Ludwigsdorf.

The characters are easy to relate to, and the ordeals they go through, are simply horrible. They show strength and courage through it all, and as such, this is an inspiring memoir about being a survivor, about never giving up, and about somehow retaining a sense of never really belonging anywhere.