For My Ears: Twice a Daughter – A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging by Julie McGue

The good people of Books Forward recently sent me an audiobook of Julie McGue’s memoir chronicling her search for her biological parents.

Here’s the overview:

Michigan City, IN – Julie Ryan McGue is adopted. And she is also a twin. But because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and the names of their birth parents — which becomes pertinent for Julie when, at 48 years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues. McGue’s poignant and hopeful debut memoir, “Twice a Daughter,” (May 11, 2021, She Writes Press) chronicles the complex search for her uncharted family history.

To launch the probe into her closed adoption, McGue first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over and make a pact: McGue will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren’t happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents — and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background.

The quest for her birth relatives spans five years and involves a search agency, a private investigator, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker and a genealogist. 

By journey’s end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest — one that unearths secrets, lies and family members that are literally right next door.

McGue earnestly writes about discovering who you are and where you come from, all while trying to make sense of it all. In sharing her unconventional journey through life, which involves new family, exploration and acceptance, this heavy-hearted history considers personal identity and all the complicated and captivating moments that encapsulate one’s life.

Me again!! This was an interesting one, with even a touch of “truth is stranger than fiction” to it. However, what I found so interesting in this book was the author’s drive to find her biological parents. She was an adult who was raised in a family where she was loved. She had a wonderful husband and family and an active life. But her sense of identity was tightly wound up in the fact that she was adopted at birth and even though she started the search for health reasons, she was not willing to stop even after she received medical histories, etc. It was important for her to find her actual birth parents and any possible half siblings; and she wasn’t going to stop before she did.

Also interesting to me was that, while her twin was invested in the process, this seemed to be truly Julie’s journey. It made me ponder the concept of identity and how we come to define who we are and those things that shape us. In one poignant moment she discovers through DNA testing that she is not Irish (at all) and yet for her whole life she has identified as Irish as her adoptive family was a large Irish family and she had physical features that appeared “Irish”. It does make one wonder how we come to develop who we are and what has the power to add or take away from that knowledge.

An interesting read! Thank you for sending me the audiobook, which was engaging during my drives!

Here’s some background on Julie:

JULIE RYAN McGUE is an author, a domestic adoptee and an identical twin. She writes extensively about finding out who you are, where you belong and making sense of it.

Julie’s debut memoir “Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging” (She Writes Press) comes out in May 2021. It’s the story of her five-year search for birth relatives. Her weekly blogs That Girl, This Life and her monthly column at The Beacher focus on identity, family and life’s quirky moments. 

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Julie received a BA from Indiana University in psychology. She earned a MM in Marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University. She has served multiple terms on the Board of the Midwest Adoption Center and is an active member of the American Adoption Congress.

Married for over 35 years, Julie and her husband split their time between Northwest Indiana and Sarasota, Florida. She’s the mother of four adult children and has three grandsons. If she’s not at her computer, she’s on the tennis court or out exploring with her Nikon. Julie is currently working on a collection of personal essays. For more information, visit her website,

The Hollywood Spy – A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal

If you know me, you know I love the WWII era historical mystery series of Maggie Hope. Maggie is a super sharp code breaker and spy, working for the Allies during WWII. This installment took Maggie to Los Angeles to reunite and help an old flame solve a murder. Along the way, she faces prejudice and racism directed towards her friends and colleagues, all in the shadow of the golden days of Hollywood.

I love anything to do with the glory days of Hollywood, and I love reading about what life was like in those days. I had not known about the “Nazi groups” in the LA area during the war, nor the prevalence of the Klan (though I did know that the Klan was in Napa – my hometown – in the first part of the 20th century). I knew that Susan must have meticulously researched this, and of course she did. Interesting — and disturbing!

I love this series, and you will, too. Each book can be a stand alone but I like reading them in order. That said, each story is unique and you will never feel like it’s a “formula”.

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!


Maggie Hope is off to California to solve a crime that hits too close to home—and confront the very evil she thought she had left behind in Europe—as theacclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues.

“A swift, vibrant novel that peels back the asbestos curtain on the complex history of Los Angeles, home to heroes and villains.”—Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay

Los Angeles, 1943. As the Allies beat back the Nazis in the Mediterranean and the United States military slowly closes in on Tokyo, Walt Disney cranks out wartime propaganda and the Cocoanut Grove is alive with jazz and swing every night. But behind this sunny façade lies a darker reality. Somewhere in the lush foothills of Hollywood, a woman floats lifeless in the pool of one of California’s trendiest hotels.

When American-born secret agent and British spy Maggie Hope learns that this woman was engaged to her former fiancée, John Sterling, and that he suspects her death was no accident, intuition tells her he’s right. Leaving London under siege is a lot to ask. But John was once the love of Maggie’s life . . . and she won’t say no.

Maggie struggles with seeing her lost love again, but what’s more shocking is that her own country is as divided and convulsed with hatred as Europe. The Zoot Suit Riots loom large in Los Angeles, and the Ku Klux Klan casts a long shadow everywhere. But there is little time to dwell on memories once she starts digging into the case. As she traces a web of deception from the infamous Garden of Allah to the iconic Carthay Circle Theater, she discovers things aren’t always the way things appear in the movies—and the political situation in America is more complicated, and dangerous, than the newsreels would have them all believe.

Harlequin Blog Tour for Susan Mallery’s THE STEP SISTERS

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Susan Mallery’s latest novel: The Step Sisters. This was a great summer read, focusing on three step sisters who are not close (at all!) and who find that their lives’ circumstances bring them together. Daisy is dealing with a troubled marriage, Sage is going through a divorce, and Cassidy is recovering from an accident. Their time together is emotional, at times funny and at times heart-breaking.

Happy to be part of the tour and thank you for my Net Galley copy!

Here’s the scoop:

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.


#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur.

Visit her at

Harlequin Summer Historical Fiction Blog Tour: Kelly Rimmer’s The Warsaw Orphan

If you know me, you know I love historical fiction! WWII is my favorite, so I was excited to get this engaging and captivating story and be part of this tour. I’ve read one of Kelly Rimmer’s other novels, Truths I Never Told You, so I know that I would enjoy it! This story is based in fact and I had heard of Irena Sendler, but this story just sucked me in. The details were amazingly vivid and the story stayed with me long after I was done reading. I will say that some of it was hard to read, but I liked how the ending felt so hopeful.

Thank you for having me as part of the tour and for my e-galley!

Here’s the scoop:

The Warsaw Orphan : A WWII Novel
Kelly Rimmer
On Sale Date: June 1, 2021
Trade Paperback
$17.99 USD
Fiction / Historical / World War II
416 pages


With the thrilling pace and historical drama of Pam Jenoff and Kristin Hannah, New York Times
bestselling author Kelly Rimmer’s newest novel is an epic WWII saga and love story, based on
the real-life efforts of two young people taking extraordinary risks to save their countrymen, as
they try to find their way back to each other and the life they once knew.

Following on the success of The Things We Cannot Say, this is Kelly Rimmer’s return to the
WWII category with a brand new novel inspired by Irena Sendler, the real-life Polish nurse who
used her access to the Warsaw ghetto to smuggle Jewish children and babies to safety.
Spanning the tumultuous years between 1942 and 1945 in Poland, The Warsaw Orphan follows
Emilia over the course of the war, her involvement with the Resistance, and her love for
Sergiusz, a young man imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto who’s passion leads him to fight in the
Warsaw Uprising. From the Warsaw ghetto to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, through
Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, Kelly Rimmer has penned her most
meticulously researched and emotionally compelling novel to date.


Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Before I
Let You Go, The Things We Cannot Say,
and Truths I Never Told You. She lives in rural
Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her
novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at

Author website:
Facebook: @Kellymrimmer
Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites
Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

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