Saturday, October 30, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Sisters of the Great War


Two sisters. The Great War looming. A chance to shape their future.

Sisters Ruth and Elise Duncan could never have anticipated volunteering for the war effort. But in 1914, the two women decide to make the harrowing journey from Baltimore to Ypres, Belgium in order to escape the suffocating restrictions placed on them by their father and carve a path for their own future.

Smart and practical Ruth is training as a nurse but dreams of becoming a doctor. In a time when women are restricted to assisting men in the field, she knows it will take great determination to prove herself, and sets out to find the one person who always believed in her: a handsome army doctor from England. For quiet Elise, joining the all female Ambulance Corps means a chance to explore her identity, and come to terms with the growing attraction she feels towards women. Especially the charming young ambulance driver who has captured her heart.

In the twilight of the Old World and the dawn of the new, both young women come of age in the face bombs, bullets and the deadly futility of trench warfare. Together they must challenge the rules society has placed on them in order to save lives: both the soldiers and the people they love.

BUY LINKS: | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | 

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s 


Sisters of the Great War
Author:  Suzanne Feldman
Publisher:  MIRA
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   400
Date of Publication:   October 26, 2021
My Rating:   3 Stars

Ruth and Elise Duncan not only defy their strict father, they defy convention. Volunteering for the war effort, the sisters each take on different roles while attending to those injured in the war. Not only does Ruth aspire to become a doctor, Elise begins driving as part of an all-female ambulance group. The sisters strive to remain close despite rather bleak conditions. For Ruth, her love of medicine comes second to her love of her fellow man, and does not let the fact that she is a woman deter her from her goals. 

Both Ruth and Elise find a chance at love, but not without its challenges. Before that could even happen they leave home armed with a lot of experience in fields that were mostly denied to women. Leaving their father and grabbing ahold of whatever freedoms they could, their travels eventually bring both sisters to Ypres, Belgium. Conditions are beyond deplorable, but hope slowly shines through for both sisters.

This was no delicate story. In fact, some of the field scenes were heartbreaking. Loss seemed to be winning time and again, especially when medical practices were severely lacking. Beyond that, Elise found love in an unlikely place, further proving her strong sense of independence. While this powerful story emphasized Ruth and Elise finding groundbreaking experiences, Elise's story also had more than a bit of a sensitive story that is not the norm for a historical fiction story.

This was a great story when it came to seeing medicine in the eyes of women during that time. I also enjoyed the relationship the sisters shared, especially when it came to Ruth really understanding Elise. 

Many thanks to MIRA and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:

Baltimore, Maryland

August 1914

Ruth Duncan fanned herself with the newspaper in the summer heat as Grandpa Gerald put up a British flag outside the house. If he’d had a uniform—of any kind—he would have worn it. People on the sidewalk paused and pointed, but Grandpa, still a proper English gent even after almost twenty years in the U.S., smoothed his white beard and straightened his waistcoat, ignoring the onlookers.

“That’s done,” he said.

Ruth’s own interest in the war was limited to what she read in the paper from across the dining table. Grandpa would snap the paper open before he ate breakfast. She could see the headlines and the back side of the last page, but not much more. Grandpa would grunt his appreciation of whatever was in-side, snort at what displeased him, and sometimes laugh. On the 12th of August, the headline in the Baltimore Sun read; France And Great Britain Declare War On Austria-Hungary, and Grandpa wasn’t laughing.

Cook brought in the morning mail and put it on the table next to Grandpa. She was a round, grey-haired woman who left a puff of flour behind her wherever she went.

“Letter from England, sir,” Cook said, leaving the envelope and a dusting of flour on the dark mahogany. She smiled at Ruth and left for the kitchen.

Grandpa tore the letter open.

Ruth waited while he read. It was from Richard and Diane Doweling, his friends in London who still wrote to him after all these years. They’d sent their son, John, to Harvard in Massachusetts for his medical degree. Ruth had never met John Doweling, but she was jealous of him, his opportunities, his apparent successes. The Dowelings sent letters whenever John won some award or other. No doubt this was more of the same. Ruth drummed her fingers on the table and eyed the dining room clock. In ten minutes, she would need to catch the trolley that would take her up to the Loyola College of Nursing, where she would be taught more of the things she had already learned from her father. The nuns at Loyola were dedicated nurses, and they knew what they were doing. Some were out-standing teachers, but others were simply mired in the medicine of the last century. Ruth was frustrated and bored, but Father paid her tuition, and what Father wanted, Father got.

Ruth tugged at her school uniform—a white apron over a long white dress, which would never see a spot of blood. “What do they say, Grandpa?”

He was frowning. “John is enlisting. They’ve rushed his graduation at Harvard so he can go home and join the Royal Army Medical Corps.”

“How can they rush graduation?” Ruth asked. “That seems silly. What if he misses a class in, say, diseases of the liver?”

Grandpa folded the letter and looked up. “I don’t think he’ll be treating diseases of the liver on the battlefield. Anyway, he’s coming to Baltimore before he ships out.”

“Here?” said Ruth in surprise. “But why?”

“For one thing,” said Grandpa, “I haven’t seen him since he was three years old. For another, you two have a common interest.”

“You mean medicine?” Ruth asked. “Oh, Grandpa. What could I possibly talk about with him? I’m not even a nurse yet, and he’s—he’s a doctor.” She spread her hands. “Should we discuss how to wrap a bandage?”

“As long as you discuss something.” He pushed the letter across the table to her and got up. “You’ll be showing him around town.”

“Me?” said Ruth. “Why me?”

“Because your sister—” Grandpa nodded at Elise, just clumping down the stairs in her nightgown and bathrobe “—has dirty fingernails.” He started up the stairs. “Good morning, my dear,” he said. “Do you know what time it is?” “Uh huh,” Elise mumbled as she slumped into her seat at the table.

As Grandpa continued up the stairs Ruth called after him. “But when is he coming?”

“His train arrives Saturday at noon,” Grandpa shouted back. “Find something nice to wear. You too, Elise.”

Elise rubbed her eyes. “What’s going on?”

Ruth pushed the letter at her and got up to go. “Read it,” she said. “You’ll see.”

Ruth made her way down Thirty-Third Street with her heavy bookbag slung over one shoulder, heading for the trolley stop, four blocks away, on Charles. Summer classes were almost over, and as usual, the August air in Baltimore was impenetrably hot and almost unbreathable. It irritated Ruth to think that she would arrive at Loyola sweaty under her arms, her hair frizzed around her nurse’s cap from the humidity. The nuns liked neatness, modest decorum. Not perspiring young women who wished they were somewhere else.

Elise, Ruth thought, as she waited for a break in the noisy traffic on Charles Street, could’ve driven her in the motor-car, but no, she’d slept late. Her younger sister could do pretty much anything, it seemed, except behave like a girl. Elise, who had been able to take apart Grandpa’s pocket watch and put it back together when she was six years old, was a use-ful mystery to both Father and Grandpa. She could fix the car—cheaper than the expensive mechanics. , For some rea-son, Elise wasn’t obliged to submit to the same expectations as Ruth—she could keep her nails short and dirty. Ruth wondered, as she had since she was a girl, if it was her younger sister’s looks. She was a mirror image of their mother, who had died in childbirth with Elise. Did that make her special in Father’s eyes?

An iceman drove a sweating horse past her. The horse raised its tail, grunted, and dropped a pile of manure, rank in the heat, right in front of her, as though to auger the rest of her day. The iceman twisted in the cart to tip his hat. “Sorry Sister!”

Ruth let her breath out through her teeth. Maybe the truth of the matter was that she was the ‘sorry sister.’ It was at this exact corner that her dreams of becoming a doctor, to follow in her father’s footsteps, had been shot down. When she was ten, and the governess said she’d done well on her writing and math, she was allowed to start going along on Father’s house calls and help in his office downstairs. Father had let her do simple things at first; mix plaster while he positioned a broken ankle, give medicine to children with the grippe, but she watched everything he did and listened carefully. By the time she was twelve, she could give him a diagnosis, and she remembered her first one vividly, identifying a man’s abdominal pain as appendicitis.

“You did a good job,” Father had said to her, as he’d reined old Bess around this very corner. “You’ll make an excellent nurse one day.”

Ruth remembered laughing because she’d thought he was joking. Her father’s praise was like gold. “A nurse?” she’d said. “One day I’ll be a doctor, just like you!”

“Yes, a nurse,” he’d said firmly, without a hint of a smile. It was the tone he used for patients who wouldn’t take their medicine.

“But I want to be a doctor.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. He hadn’t sounded sorry at all. “Girls don’t become doctors. They become nurses and wives. Tomorrow, if there’s time, we’ll visit a nursing college. When you’re eighteen, that’s where you’ll go.”


He’d shaken his head sharply, cutting her off. “It isn’t done, and I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

A decade later, Ruth could still feel the shock in her heart. It had never occurred to her that she couldn’t be a doctor because she was a girl. And now, John Doweling was coming to town to cement her future as a doctor’s wife. That was what everyone had in mind. She knew it. Maybe John didn’t know yet, but he was the only one.

Ruth frowned and lifted her skirts with one hand, balancing the bookbag with the other, and stepped around the manure as the trolley came clanging up Charles.

Excerpted from Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman, Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Feldman. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.


Suzanne Feldman, a recipient of the Missouri Review Editors' Prize and a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in fiction, holds an MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University and a BFA in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her short fiction has appeared in Narrative, The Missouri Review, Gargoyle, and other literary journals. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @suzanne21702

Facebook: @SuzanneFeldman

Instagram: @suzannefeldmanauthor


Friday, October 29, 2021

BLOG TOUR - The Bookseller of Dachau



Germany, 1940: “Can’t I say goodbye?” I shout, cupping my hands over my mouth. The Nazis dragging him away stare at me, soldiers with icy glares. No. No, no, no, they can’t make him leave.

In Nazi Germany, innocent people vanish every day, torn mercilessly from their homes and loved ones. When Matilda’s childhood sweetheart Hans is in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to hide him in her attic. Neighbors their whole lives, and desperately in love with one another, she’ll do anything to protect him. For months, they exist by candlelight, smuggling food and communicating in whispers. But, in the end, nothing can stop the soldiers charging in…

America, 2018: Grace opens a mustard-yellow envelope, and her world unravels. She has inherited a bookstore in the small town of Dachau from the grandmother she had no idea existed. Her mom, adopted as a baby, spent her life searching for her biological parents––and died without ever knowing.

Grace visits her legacy––a bookshop on a cobbled lane filled with lost memories. She combs through handwritten letters, unearthing the story of her grandmother Matilda. A woman whose one true love was locked within the barbed wire of Dachau––a woman who never gave up hope…

As Grace pieces together her family’s heartbreaking past, she discovers the long-buried secret of her own identity. But when she learns the truth, will she ever be the same again?

This heart-wrenching yet hopeful tale will restore your faith in humanity, and in the power of love to triumph over evil. Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Orphan Train and Kristin Hannah will be blown away by this breathtakingly gripping page-turner.

Previously titled: The Secret in the Attic



The Bookseller of Dachau
Author:  Shari J. Ryan
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   329
Date of Publication:   October 29, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars

To Matilda one man is the same as another. It is Germany 1939 and the fact that Hans is Jewish and she is German means absolutely nothing to her. Matilda loves Hans, has since they were children. When he is in grave danger, Matilda hides him in her attic, with the intent of protecting him to her last breath. It is not easy. Not only are her parents downstairs, German soldiers have billeted with her family. Somehow Matilda keeps Hans hidden and alive as long as possible.

In the year 2018, Grace discovers that she has inherited a bookstore in Dachau, Germany. The bookstore was her grandmother's. However, Grace not only had never met her grandmother, she was completely unaware of her. When she visits Dachau she is accompanied by Archie Alesky, the man that had been caring for the shop, as well as an assortment of old photos and letters. Between studying the photos and with Archie taking her around, Grace begins to piece together a very sad past that involved her grandmother. What she learns is earth shattering and heartbreaking. 

As the story shifts back and forth, we learn more about Matilda and Hans and how things turned even darker for them. Matilda's determination was utterly remarkable. Thus, the story did indeed prove to be one of hope and warmth while demonstrating the true testimony of love.

Despite the bleak moments in this book, the love story was incredibly touching. I loved this story and how Grace traced her past. How she learned about her grandmother, and the search for a history that might have been lost forever. Shari J. Ryan has a genuine connection to this type of story and has written an absolutely wonderful tale, one that I will remember for years to come. This remarkable story is now one of my favorite books of 2021.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Shari J. Ryan is a USA Today Bestselling Historical Fiction writer. Her desire to write stories revolving Jewish livelihood during World War II stems from being a descendant of two Holocaust survivors. After the passing of Shari’s grandmother, she pursued an active interest in learning more about the inherited stories she yearned to understand better.

Shortly after earning a bachelors degree from Johnson & Wales University, Shari began her career as a graphic artist and freelance writer. She then found her passion for writing books in 2012. In 2016, Shari began writing her first Historical Fiction novel, Last Words, a story about a lifelong journey through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor. With two character related books to follow, Shari quickly found a new passion to share untold World War II stories within a fictional setting.

Shari is a lifelong New England girl who lives to make people laugh. She is happily married with two wonderful sons and a spunky Australian Shepard, who fits right in with the family.

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Fan Club


In this raucous psychological thriller, a disillusioned millennial joins a cliquey fan club, only to discover that the group is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women's lifestyle website - entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by international pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana's every move.

When a colleague notices her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together - while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

Indie Bound:
Apple Books:
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Title:   Fan Club
Author:  Erin Mayer
Publisher:  MIRA
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   320
Date of Publication:   October 26, 2021
My Rating:   3 Stars

She works at a website. We don't know her name. What we do know is that she is completely disallusioned with her job. Working on a team with four others, prducing nearly two dozen article daily, the job proves monotonous at the best of times. Having various opinions about the other producers, her attention is consistently on Tom, a married man, but one she cannot stop thinking about.

The most exciting part of her day is her consistent coffee breaks, with her own cat-shaped mug. If not for these breaks, she is not sure she'd get through her days. Beyond thinking about Tom more than she should, her attention becomes focused on a pop star. The singer, Adriana Argento has both old and new music. While drawn into the pop star's older music, the new music has its own appeal. It doesn't take long for our millenial to discover that there is a group of women who share her same interest - obsession, really. However, things take a very dark turn.

Following the singer on social media soon takes over her life. Finding out this other group of fans are absorbed in every aspect of the singer's life soon becomes something our protagonist does as well. Will the fan club change an otherwise mundane life? Or will things take dramatic turns to the point that there will literally be no turning back?

Who is our main character and why is she unnamed in this story? Author Erin Mayer keeps her name from us perhaps so the focus is turned to the source of the fandom in this story - the pop singer. Our protagonist had already felt invisible. Immersing herself into the life of the singer only exacerbates that situation. Do pop stars and other celebrities really change who we are? They did for this character - completely consumed from beginning to end, to the point where it might not be known where she ended and the pop star began. 

It is almost without doubt who this greatest pop star would be if the story was real - Ariana Grande. Would this intense fan club go above and beyond - and in the worst ways possible - to pulling themselves into the star's circle? I am not into fandoms, so I can't really imagine how far some reach when it comes to the lives of some celebrities. 

From beginning to end, Fan Club was a very interesting read. I enjoyed seeing the story in the mind of the main character, no matter how twisted things became. Obsession is real, no doubt about that. This book shows how extreme such obsession begins and how it might never end. However, the ending, at least in this case, sort of didn't. The story certainly could have continued.

Many thanks to MIRA and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:

Chapter One

I’m outside for a cumulative ten minutes each day before work. Five to walk from my apartment building to the subway, another five to go from the subway to the anemic obelisk that houses my office. I try to breathe as deeply as I can in those minutes, because I never know how long it will be until I take fresh air into my lungs again. Not that the city air is all that fresh, tinged with the sharp stench of old garbage, pollution’s metallic swirl. But it beats the stale oxygen of the office, already filtered through distant respiratory systems. Sometimes, during slow moments at my desk, I inhale and try to imagine those other nostrils and lungs that have already processed this same air. I’m not sure how it works in reality, any knowledge I once had of the intricacies of breathing having been long ago discarded by more useful information, but the image comforts me. Usually, I picture a middle-aged man with greying temples, a fringe of visible nose hair, and a coffee stain on the collar of his baby blue button-down. He looks nothing and everything like my father. An every-father, if you will.

My office is populated by dyed-blonde or pierced brunette women in their mid-to-late twenties and early thirties. The occasional man, just a touch older than most of the women, but still young enough to give off the faint impression that he DJs at Meatpacking nightclubs for extra cash on the weekends.

We are the new corporate Americans, the offspring of the grey-templed men. We wear tastefully ripped jeans and cozy sweaters to the office instead of blazers and trousers. Display a tattoo here and there—our supervisors don’t mind; in fact, they have the most ink. We eat yogurt for breakfast, work through lunch, leave the office at six if we’re lucky, arriving home with just enough time to order dinner from an app and watch two or three hours of Netflix before collapsing into bed from exhaustion we haven’t earned. Exhaustion that lives in the brain, not the body, and cannot be relieved by a mere eight hours of sleep.

Nobody understands exactly what it is we do here, and neither do we. I push through revolving glass door, run my wallet over the card reader, which beeps as my ID scans through the stiff leather, and half-wave in the direction of the uniformed security guard behind the desk, whose face my eyes never quite reach so I can’t tell you what he looks like. He’s just one of the many set-pieces staging the scene of my days.

The elevator ride to the eleventh floor is long enough to skim one-third of a longform article on my phone. I barely register what it’s about, something loosely political, or who is standing next to me in the cramped elevator.

When the doors slide open on eleven, we both get off.

… In the dim eleventh-floor lobby, a humming neon light shaping the company logo assaults my sleep-swollen eyes like the prick of a dozen tiny needles. Today, a small section has burned out, creating a skip in the letter w. Below the logo is a tufted cerulean velvet couch where guests wait to be welcomed. To the left there’s a mirrored wall reflecting the vestibule; people sometimes pause there to take photos on the way to and from the office, usually on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend. I see the photos later while scrolling through my various feeds at home in bed. They hit me one after another like shots of tequila: See ya Tuesday! *margarita emoji* Peace out for the long weekend! *palm tree emoji* Byeeeeee! *peace sign emoji.*

She steps in front of me, my elevator companion. Black Rag & Bone ankle boots gleaming, blade-tipped pixie cut grazing her ears. Her neck piercing taunts me, those winking silver balls on either side of her spine. She’s Lexi O’ Connell, the website’s senior editor. She walks ahead with her head angled down, thumb working her phone’s keyboard, and doesn’t look up as she shoves the interior door open, palm to the glass.

I trip over the back of one clunky winter boot with the other as I speed up, considering whether to call out for her attention. It’s what a good web producer, one who is eager to move on from the endless drudgery of copy-pasting and resizing and into the slightly more thrilling drudgery of writing and rewriting, would do.

By the time I regain my footing, I come face-to-face with the smear of her handprint as the door glides shut in front of me.


… I work at a website.

It’s like most other websites; we publish content, mostly articles: news stories, essays, interviews, glossed over with the polished opalescent sheen of commercialized feminism. The occasional quiz, video, or photoshoot rounds out our offerings. This is how websites work in the age of ad revenue: Each provides a slightly varied selection of mindless entertainment, news updates, and watered-down hot takes about everything from climate change to plus size fashion, hawking their wares on the digital marketplace, leaving The Reader to wander drunkenly through the bazaar, wielding her cursor like an Amex. You can find everything you’d want to read in one place online, dozens of times over. The algorithms have erased choice. Search engines and social media platforms, they know what you want before you do.

As a web producer, my job is to input article text into the website’s proprietary content management system, or CMS. I’m a digitized high school janitor; I clean up the small messes, the litter that misses the rim of the garbage can. I make sure the links are working and the images are high resolution. When anything bigger comes up, it goes to an editor or IT. I’m an expert in nothing, a master of the miniscule fixes.

There are five of us who produce for the entire website, each handling about 20 articles a day. We sit at a long grey table on display at the very center of the open office, surrounded on all sides by editors and writers.

The web producers’ bullpen, Lexi calls it.

The light fixture above the table buzzes loudly like a nest of bees is trapped inside the fluorescent tubing. I drop my bag on the floor and take a seat, shedding my coat like a layer of skin. My chair faces the beauty editor’s desk, the cruelest seat in the house. All day long, I watch Charlotte Miller receive package after package stuffed with pastel tissue paper. Inside those packages: lipstick, foundation, perfume, happiness. A thousand simulacrums of Christmas morning spread across the two-hundred and sixty-one workdays of the year. She has piled the trappings of Brooklyn hipsterdom on top of her blonde, big-toothed, prettiness. Wire-frame glasses, a tattoo of a constellation on her inner left forearm, a rose gold nose ring. She seems Texan, but she’s actually from some wholesome upper Midwestern state, I can never remember which one. Right now, she applies red lipstick from a warm golden tube in the flat gleam of the golden mirror next to her monitor. Everything about her is color-coordinated.

I open my laptop. The screen blinks twice and prompts me for my password. I type it in, and the CMS appears, open to where I left it when I signed off the previous evening. Our CMS is called LIZZIE. There’s a rumor that it was named after Lizzie Borden, christened during the pre-launch party when the tech team pounded too many shots after they finished coding. As in, “Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks.” Lizzie Borden rebranded in the 21st century as a symbol of righteous feminine anger. LIZZIE, my best friend, my closest confidant. She’s an equally comforting and infuriating presence, constant in her bland attention. She gazes at me, always emotionless, saying nothing as she watches me teeter on the edge, fighting tears or trying not to doze at my desk or simply staring, in search of answers she cannot provide.

My eyes droop in their sockets as I scan the articles that were submitted before I arrived this morning. The whites threaten to turn liquid and splash onto my keyboard, pool between the keys and jiggle like eggs minus the yolks. Thinking of this causes a tiny laugh to slip out from between my clenched lips. Charlotte slides the cap onto her lipstick, glares at me over the lip of the mirror.


That’s Tom, the only male web producer, who sits across and slightly left of me, keeping my view of Charlotte’s towering wonderland of boxes and bags clear. He’s four years older than me, twenty-eight, but the plush chipmunk curve of his cheeks makes him appear much younger, like he’s about to graduate high school. He’s cute, though, in the way of a movie star who always gets cast as the geek in teen comedies. Definitely hot but dress him down in an argyle sweater and glasses and he could be a Hollywood nerd. I’ve always wanted to ask him why he works here, doing this. There isn’t really a web producer archetype. We’re all different, a true island of misfit toys.

But if there is a type, Tom doesn’t fit it. He seems smart and driven. He’s consistently the only person who attends company book club meetings having read that month’s selection from cover to cover. I’ve never asked him why he works here because we don’t talk much. No one in our office talks much. Not out loud, anyway. We communicate through a private Morse code, fingers dancing on keys, expressions scanned and evaluated from a distance.

Sometimes I think about flirting with Tom, for something to do, but he wears a wedding ring. Not that I care about his wife; it’s more the fear of rebuff and rejection, of hearing the low-voiced Sorry, I’m married, that stops me. He usually sails in a few minutes after I do, smelling like his bodega coffee and the egg sandwich he carefully unwraps and eats at his desk. He nods in my direction. Morning is the only word we’ve exchanged the entire time I’ve worked here, which is coming up on a year in January. It’s not even a greeting, merely a statement of fact. It is morning and we’re both here. Again.

Three hundred and sixty-five days lost to the hum and twitch and click. I can’t seem to remember how I got here. It all feels like a dream. The mundane kind, full of banal details, but something slightly off about it all. I don’t remember applying for the job, or interviewing. One day, an offer letter appeared in my inbox and I signed.

And here I am. Day after day, I wait for someone to need me. I open articles. I tweak the formatting, check the links, correct the occasional typo that catches my eye. It isn’t really my job to copy edit, or even to read closely, but sometimes I notice things, grammatical errors or awkward phrasing, and I then can’t not notice them; I have to put them right or else they nag like a papercut on the soft webbing connecting two fingers. The brain wants to be useful. It craves activity, even after almost three hundred and sixty-five days of operating at its lowest frequency.

I open emails. I download attachments. I insert numbers into spreadsheets. I email those spreadsheets to Lexi and my direct boss, Ashley, who manages the homepage.

None of it ever seems to add up to anything.

Excerpted from Fan Club by Erin Mayer, Copyright © 2021 by Erin Mayer. Published by MIRA Books.


Erin Mayer is a freelance writer and editor based in Maine. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Man Repeller, Literary Hub, and others. She was previously an associate fashion and beauty editor at

Author website:
Twitter: @mayer_erin
Instagram: @erinkmayer

BLOG TOUR - The Parents


The other parents all seem so perfect. But it’s not long before I realise: I should have never made friends with them…

I knew it wouldn’t be easy for my kids to adjust when we moved to a tiny village where they didn’t know a soul. But after the death of my husband, we needed a fresh start.

Suddenly, we’re outsiders. I know the only way we’ll be accepted is if I throw myself into my new life, so when my son joins a local club, I volunteer to help along with the other parents.

Before moving here, I didn’t know people like this really existed; their lives seem too perfect to be real. Although my own life couldn’t be more different, they welcome me into the fold. For the first time since my husband died, I feel like I made the right decision for my family…

That is until I overhear something that tells me these other parents aren’t as perfect as they seem. Something that turns my world upside down again.

My secret has already ruined my life once. I thought the truth had died with my husband… I should have known that it wouldn’t be buried for long.

A completely addictive page-turner about the secrets and lies hiding beneath seemingly perfect lives. Fans of Big Little Lies, Lisa Jewell and Louise Candlish will be absolutely hooked by this pacey read with a jaw-dropping twist you just won’t see coming.


Title:   The Parents
Author:  Claire Seeber
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   270
Date of Publication:   October 25, 2021
My Rating:   3 Stars

Marshalling the under 14 football team does not come easy, especially considering many of the parents are at loggerheads. The chief protagonist in this story is Patti Taylor as her son Ethan begins playing. Other parents and their children have a story and it is mostly unpleasant.

In addition to Patti and her viewpoint, there is a vlog called The Tales of Tenderton and it proves to be a rather awful vlog. The posts are rather distasteful and the vlog is consistently referred to as something very unpleasant. If the parents were not already worried about their children and the soccer team, the vlog most definitely made things worse, increasing already sensitive tensions with everyone involved.

In addition to the drama and the vlog, there is an additional plot line, and that involves seventeenth-century witchcraft and dark woods that gives everyone an eerie vibe. Pulling all of these things together created a rather convoluted story, one that required more than a bit of attention to remain invested.

The Parents is the first book I've read by Claire Seeber. I do look forward to reading more of her books in the future as I do love psychological thrillers, especially when they are as twisted as this one was.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Claire Seeber is a Londoner who started her professional life as a (bad) actress and went on to become a documentary maker, lucky enough to travel the world meeting amazing people. Also writing features for newspapers such as the Guardian and Independent, when she had her first baby in 2004, Claire started writing psychological thrillers. The Observer called her first novel, Lullaby, ‘a disturbing debut’ whilst the Guardian called it ‘powerful’. Her third thriller Never Tell became a bestseller, and she has been published in more than twelve different languages.

Claire has been CWA Dagger-nominated, also writes for stage and screen, and today studies psychotherapy, as well as (trying to) manage a home of slightly feral children and animals. Luckily her very nice partner helps too.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

BLOG TOUR - To Save My Child


‘I would do anything for you to get well again, baby girl.’ It’s a promise. Even though it means asking her father for help, going back there, risking everything. Whatever the cost, there’s no hesitation in my mind. Because that’s what you do when you’re a mother.

Single mother Anna’s six-year-old daughter Libby is her whole world. Having escaped a marriage that was threatening to destroy her, Anna has managed to get their lives back on track. Looking at Libby’s sweet, heart-shaped face, Anna is filled with hope for the future. They have each other and nothing else matters.

But then Libby gets ill, with a rare disorder that means she needs a transplant from a relative if she’s going to survive. And when Anna discovers she herself isn’t a match, there’s only one person she can turn to.

So she picks up the phone, and dials a number she hoped she’d never have to call again. The man she once ran from. Her daughter’s father. She’s scared he’ll want them to come back home, scared he’ll be able to break her all over again. But Anna knows what she has to do, what any mother would.

Because if there’s a chance to save your daughter’s life, wouldn’t you do whatever it takes?

An unforgettable, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story from the bestselling author of My Husband’s Daughter, this novel is perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain and Jojo Moyes.


Title:   To Save My Child
Author:  Emma Robinson
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   304
Date of Publication:   October 26, 2021
My Rating:  5 Stars 

What wouldn't you do for your child? Anna's world turned upside down when she discovered her six-year-old daughter Libby had serious kidney disease and needed immediate medical intervention. Anna would move heaven and earth for Libby and in this incredibly touching read by Emma Robinson Anna's battle for her daughter proved heartbreaking time and again.

From the moment Anna learned of Libby's condition she took steps to give Libby every fighting chance she could. Anna was more than prepared to give up one of her kidneys, but sadly that wasn't an option. Due to a difficult marriage and its aftermath, contacting Libby's father was something that would be extremely difficult. But, this is Libby. No difficulty would be out of reach for Anna. While it was clear that Anna is fighting for Libby, would Libby's father have that same attitude?

What an incredibly sensitive story. Anna's fears for Libby's health were palbable. Seeing the things Libby's father was putting out there increased the tension in this story, keeping my heart in a vice from beginning to end. As a mother I would do anyting for my children, even now as they are adults. I wanted to grab Libby's ex by the throat and shake him, that is how real this story and the events as they played out made me feel. Conversely, I wanted to wrap Anna and Libby into a warm hug.

As this inspiring story developed, watching and hoping events would turn truly warmed my heart. The writing was excellent and the research about kidney disease made To Save My Child a touching, brilliant and memorable story. This book is a perfect example of how Emma Robinson has a way of tugging at your heartstrings with her stories and this remarkable book definitely proved that. 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Emma Robinson is the author of several women’s fiction novels. She also blogs about the funny side of parenting and has contributed to podcasts such as Funny Women. Whilst her early novels are humorous, her recent work focuses on emotional themes and these novels are both heart-breaking and life affirming. Emma enjoys writing stories which explore the power of family and friendship in the most challenging circumstances.

Emma currently lives in Essex with a husband, two children and a small black dog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

BLOG TOUR - A Letter from Nana Rose


“My darling girls. You were once so happy in this house. Now I’m gone, all I ask is that you spend one last summer here together on Dune Island. And please forgive me, your Nana, for the secret I’m about to tell you…”

Arriving at the honeysuckle-covered beach house inherited from her beloved grandmother, recently heartbroken Jill hopes to convince her two feuding sisters not to sell a place so full of happy childhood memories. But the envelope waiting on the driftwood table changes everything. In her elegant handwriting, Nana Rose promises a new letter will arrive each day of the summer revealing a family secret she took to her grave.

Shaken, Jill anxiously awaits each letter filled with Nana’s bittersweet memories of her own sister who she loved more than anyone—and lost far too young. But why did Nana never speak of this tragic loss to her grandchildren?

Watching the sunset each night and wondering how well they really knew Nana Rose, Jill feels her family is closer than they’ve been in years. And after a chance encounter with blue-eyed tree surgeon Alex, she wonders if Nana believed being back on Dune Island would help Jill find love, too?

But when Nana’s final letter arrives, the revelation about how her sister died is more shocking than Jill ever imagined. Suddenly, despite the chance of happiness with Alex, selling the house seems the only way forward. Will Jill find a way to forge new bonds of sisterhood and save their inheritance, or will Nana Rose’s secret tear them all apart?

An absolutely gorgeous, gripping and heartbreaking read about the importance of family, and how even our loved ones can keep shattering secrets. Perfect for fans of Carolyn Brown, Debbie Macomber and Mary Alice Munroe.


Title:   A Letter from Nana Rose
Author:  Kristin Harper
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   278
Date of Publication:   October 25, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars

Her sisters want to sell. Jill wants to keep it. Their grandmother's house is now in their hands. Will the sisters honor their grandmother's wish and read a letter written for them every day over the course of a couple of weeks in order to make a unified decision? 

From the outset, each of the sisters, Jill, Brooke and Rachel, have different lives and goals. Jill is the only one that is determined to keep the house. Beyond that major decision, Jill appears more nervous than Brooke and Rachel when the letters begin to reveal a secret that their grandmother held onto for decades. What was this secret and how will impact their lives?

Not only do the sisters have decisions to make while learning about their grandmother's secret, each of their lives is at a crossroads. Will the time they spend together pull them closer to each other or will their already strained relationships become even more fractured?

This was a wonderful and quick read, filled with emotion. In this engaging story from Kristin Harper the setting was warm and it was easy to see how Jill, Rachel and Brooke loved visiting their grandmother while they were younger. This brought me back to mind when we would spend time at my great-grandmother's home in Readville, Massachusetts. Those memories I had gave this story extra meaning for me. I loved the sisters and their drama because it gave the story a strong sense of realness, especially as they were able to allow the power of love to be the final factor.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

Monday, October 25, 2021

BLOG TOUR - The Little Christmas House


In gorgeous Hopley Village twinkly lights are going up, snow is falling and the delicious smell of gingerbread is in the air. Will two broken hearts find their happily-ever-after this Christmas?

The most wonderful time of the year is approaching but thirty-year-old Holly Hanwell doesn’t really feel like celebrating… not after the bombshell news that her boyfriend was leaving her to have a baby with someone else. But she still has her adorable little house in Hopley Village with its bright yellow front door and her job teaching at the village school. And she’s planned a cosy, quiet Christmas, focusing on the little things in life that she loves.

Until she bumps into Edward, the handsome single father of her newest pupil. He’s moved to Christmas House, at the edge of pretty Hopley, to give his eight-year-old daughter Eliza a fresh start. Sheltering from the snowy weather in the warm village café, Holly and Edward start to bond over delicious mugs of hot chocolate, topped with cream and sprinkles.

Despite the spark between them, Holly knows she needs to protect her already fragile heart and she’s determined NOT to fall in love this Christmas. But holiday magic works in mysterious ways when a festive crisis at Christmas House brings them together. Yet just as Holly starts to realise her feelings are growing for kind but complicated Edward she discovers a secret from his past which makes her question everything she thought she knew…

Will Holly and Edward’s December romance be over before it’s begun? Or will this be a Christmas to remember?

Curl up with this magical, feel-good Christmas read! Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Sarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.


Title:   The Little Christmas House
Author:  Tracy Rees
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Romance; Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   234
Date of Publication:   October 22, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

In this endearing story by Tracy Rees, Holly Hanwell gets a second chance at love. Heartbroken due to a major betrayal from her boyfriend, the Christmas season seems bleak. She definitely does not have the Christmas spirit. However, as a teacher, part of her duties was to participate in a yearly Christmas pageant. Working with her young students always brought her joy. Despite her heartbreak, she wants her students to be happy. 

Holly soon finds another reason to be happy. She soon meets Edward, the father of one of her students and the new owner of a place that ends up proving quite special for more than one reason, and it is called the Christmas House. Not only does Holly soon find Edward someone difficult to resist, his darling eight-year-old daughter Eliza tugs on her heartstrings as well. The holiday season starts to get brighter.

Despite Holly being quite sure being alone was in her future, chance meetings at a lovely local café bring the unlikely trio together in what just might be a fresh start to all of them. Holly always found Eliza to be more than a bit special. Then there is the picturesque village where Holly lives, Hopley, and it is a wonderful little village. In fact, after having read Ms. Rees' previous book, Hidden Secrets at Little Village Church, I was already enamored with the small village, so it was the perfect setting for this holiday romance. 

Holly soon discovers that she was not alone with the baggage from a previous relationship. Edward and Eliza have their own story and are working past some difficult things. In this sweet story it was nice to see them work through these challenges, even if things proved rocky at times. In fact, in this endearing story, Eliza's point of view was quite touching and her role in this story was pivotal. The Little Christmas House was a wonderful story that brought hope, light and love. 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Tracy Rees was the winner of the Richard and Judy 'Search for a Bestseller' Competition and her books are paperback, ebook and audio bestsellers. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling before becoming a writer. She lives in Wales.