Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Review - The Wedding Veil

Title:   The Wedding Veil
Author:  Kristy Woodson Harvey
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Genre:   Women's Fiction;
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   416
Date of Publication:   March 29, 2022
My Rating:   5 Stars


The New York Times bestselling author of Under the Southern Sky and the Peachtree Bluff series brings “her signature wit, charm, and heart” (Woman’s World) to this sweeping new novel following four women across generations, bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family.

Four women. One family heirloom. A secret connection that will change their lives—and history as they know it.

Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. Meanwhile, her grandmother Babs is also feeling shaken. Still grieving the death of her beloved husband, she decides to move out of the house they once shared and into a retirement community. Though she hopes it’s a new beginning, she does not expect to run into an old flame, dredging up the same complicated emotions she felt a lifetime ago.

1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own. Asheville, North Carolina has always been her safe haven away from the prying eyes of the press, but as she explores more of the rapidly changing world around her, she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the exciting future that lies beyond Biltmore’s gilded gates.

In the vein of Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Wedding Veil brings to vivid life a group of remarkable women forging their own paths—and explores the mystery of a national heirloom lost to time.

A luxurious wedding veil has been passed through a family for generations. The Vanderbilt veil. Is this veil a blessing or a curse? It is hoped that the veil will bring good luck, but for some it seems that it is anything but. 

The story begins in 1879 with six-year-old Edith Dresser. She hears a wonderful story from her mother about a magical wedding veil. Sadly, Edith is soon orphaned. In 1898 Edith is about to marry. She is saddened as she misses the fact that her mother will not see her get married. However, she will wear the family veil, which is a lace point heirloom. Edith Dresser marries the love of her life, George Washington Vanderbilt, and the legacy continues.

Then we meet Julia Baxter. She looks glamorous on her wedding day and is wearing the carefully preserved precious veil. However, a group text changes everything and she calls the wedding off, fleeing to the previously designated honeymoon location to try and sort her future out. She meets Connor and even wonders if she just might have a brief fling.

While Julia is struggling to sort our her future, it is soon learned that her grandmother Babs has sold the family home and is moving into a retirement home. She did not want to worry the family about any major decisions concerning her, so she did this all on her own. Running into a man that was once very special to her is something that Babs never expected.

As the story shifts back to 1914, now Edith is managing the vast and exquisite Biltmore Estate after the tragic loss of her husband George. She will do her best to keep the 250-room estate running with hopes of passing it on to her daughter Cornelia. However, Cornelia wants more for herself in life. The story then shifts to 1934 with Cornelia striving to make her own mark in the world while keeping the Biltmore running.

Kristy Woodson Harvey has woven the mistress of Biltmore, a real historical icon, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, into the pages of this truly engaging read. As the book closes, the author's note illustrates Harvey's remarkable research and talent when it came to bringing this book alive to readers. Quite naturally, Harvey took literary liberties to make this such an enjoyable story. There are tons of resources for anyone who wants to take a similar course of research as this talented author.

Side note: The Biltmore Estate is still around in a grand way. It is a glamrous 8,000 acre oasis.

Please also see my YouTube video book review -

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


Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Under the Southern Sky, Feels Like Falling, and The Peachtree Bluff series. A Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism, her writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Southern Living, Traditional Home, USA TODAY, Domino, and O. Henry. Kristy is the winner of the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award for Excellence in Creative Writing and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her work has been optioned for film and television, and her books have received numerous accolades including Southern Living’s Most Anticipated Beach Reads, Parade’s Big Fiction Reads, and Entertainment Weekly’s Spring Reading Picks. Kristy is the cocreator and cohost of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She blogs with her mom Beth Woodson on Design Chic, and loves connecting with fans on She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel. 

Connect with Kristy

Review - The Echoes

:   The Echoes
Author:  Jess Montgomery
Series:   Kinship #4
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Publisher:   Minotaur Books
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:  288
Date of Publication:  Mach 29, 2022
My Rating:  3 Stars

The fourth in Jess Montgomery's evocative Kinship series, The Echoes combines exquisite storytelling with extraordinary crime plotting.

"A beautifully written tour de force." —Linda Castillo on The Stills

As July 4, 1928 approaches, Sheriff Lily Ross and her family look forward to the opening of an amusement park in a nearby town, created by Chalmer Fitzpatrick—a veteran and lumber mill owner. When Lily is alerted to the possible drowning of a girl, she goes to investigate, and discovers schisms going back several generations, in an ongoing dispute over the land on which Fitzpatrick has built the park.

Lily's family life is soon rattled, too, with the revelation that before he died, her brother had a daughter, Esme, with a woman in France, and arrangements have been made for Esme to immigrate to the U.S. to live with them. But Esme never makes it to Kinship, and soon Lily discovers that she has been kidnapped. Not only that, but a young woman is indeed found murdered in the fishing pond on Fitzpatrick's property, at the same time that a baby is left on his doorstep.

As the two crimes interweave, Lily must confront the question of what makes family: can we trust those we love? And what do we share, and what do we keep secret? 


It is now 1928 and Sheriff Lily Ross has a lot on her plate. An amusement park is being built in the small town of Kinship, she deals with a possible murder, the fact that her now-deceased brother fathered a child while serving in the war in France, and is navigating her relationship with Benjamen.

For my thoughts on this intriguing fourth book in the Kinship series, please see my YouTube video review - 

Many thanks to Minotaur Books for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


JESS MONTGOMERY is the author of the Kinship Historical Mystery series, focusing on a 1920s female sheriff in Appalachia. You can find out more about her books at her website,, or reach her on Facebook @JessMontgomeryAuthor, Twitter @JessM_Author and Instagram @JessMontgomeryAuthor.

Under Jess's given name, she is a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, authors and events of her native Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Daily News. Her first novel in the Kinship Historical Mystery series, THE WIDOWS, garnered awards even before publication: Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District (MCAD) Artist Opportunity Grant (2018); Individual Excellence Award (2016) in Literary Arts from Ohio Arts Council; John E. Nance Writer in Residence at Thurber House (Columbus, Ohio) in 2014.

YouTube Review - The Book of Moods

Title:   The Book of Moods
:  Lauren Martin
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Genre:   Self-Help
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   December 8, 2020
My Rating:   4 Stars


The Happiness Project meets So Sad Today in this "hilariously witty, unflinchingly honest" book from Words of Women founder Lauren Martin, as she contemplates the nature of negative emotions -- and the insights that helped her to take control of her life (Bobbi Brown).

Five years ago, Lauren Martin was sure something was wrong with her. She had a good job in New York, an apartment in Brooklyn, a boyfriend, yet every day she wrestled with feelings of inferiority, anxiety and irritability. It wasn't until a chance encounter with a (charming, successful) stranger who revealed that she also felt these things, that Lauren set out to better understand the hold that these moods had on her, how she could change them, and began to blog about the wisdom she uncovered. It quickly exploded into an international online community of women who felt like she did: lost, depressed, moody, and desirous of change.

Inspired by her audience to press even deeper, The Book of Moods shares Lauren's journey to infuse her life with a sense of peace and stability. With observations that will resonate and inspire, she dives into the universal triggers every woman faces -- whether it's a comment from your mother, the relentless grind at your job, days when you wish the mirror had a Valencia filter, or all of the above. Blending cutting-edge science, timeless philosophy, witty anecdotes and effective forms of self-care, Martin has written a powerful, intimate, and incredibly relatable chronicle of transformation, proving that you really can turn your worst moods into your best life.


Lauren Martin successfully used her blog to explore how moods affect all aspects of our lives. The topics discussed are:

The Mood: 
  • Past and Future
  • Beauty
  • Work
  • Friends
  • Family
  • The Body
  • Unforeseen Circumstances
In each of these sections of the book, the mood is described, analyzed and shows how these aspects can be transformed. For more, please see my YouTube video review 

BLOG TOUR - The Family Holiday


Two families. One house swap. A vacation to die for.

The white-washed Italian villa is perfect. I thought it might feel odd, living in a stranger’s house for the summer, but as my husband and children swim in the infinity pool, I start to relax. And then, in the back of a wardrobe, I find a photograph that shatters everything…

Sparkling green eyes, square jaw, lopsided smile. A young man with his arm around a beautiful woman. The picture is old and faded but I’d recognise him anywhere. The man is my husband.

But we’ve never met the family we’ve swapped homes with and my husband swears it isn’t him in the photo. He’s lying. We argue on the balcony with the sun setting behind us and I storm out.

When I finally calm down enough to go back to the villa to confront him, I find him sprawled across the veranda… dead.

Why would someone kill my husband? Am I in danger? And how well did I really know the man I married?

Title:   The Family Holiday
Author:  Shalini Boland
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   March 29, 2022
My Rating:   5 Stars

Two families - The Masons and the Kildares - are about to take a two-week holiday and have used a house swap service and will be residing in each other's homes. The Kildare family are from the UK and the Masons are from Italy. One family lives in a crumbling cottage and the other family has a luxurious villa.

The couples are Beth and Niall and Amber and Renzo, and each have two children. Beth is equally excited and nervous. While thrilled to soon be vacationing in what just might be a gorgeous setting, she wonders if her modest dwelling will insult the family who will live in their home for two weeks.

Now, it has been said that there is no such thing as a coincidence. So, is it a coincidence that these two families are swapping houses, or is something more at play? Someone has an ulterior motive. Someone is not going to make it home. And if that is not enough to excite the curious reader, make sure to read to the very last page - the very last word, for a surprise ending that will floor you.

Shalini Boland has hit it out of the park again! Every book I have been privileged to read by her has snagged my attention. That is exactly what happens with The Family Holiday. It is intriguing from beginning to end and leads to a jaw-dropping conclusion.

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

Please enjoy the YouTube video review - 


Shalini lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and Jess, their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer songwriter, but now she spends her days writing suspense thrillers (in between school runs and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

YouTube Review - Thirty-Life Crisis

Title:   Thirty-Life Crisis
Author:  Lisa Schwartz
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Genre:   Non-Fiction; Humor
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   256
Date of Publication:   August 27, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars


A hilarious essay collection perfect for anyone dealing with the challenges, indignities, and celebrations that come with being a thirty-something by actor and YouTube star Lisa Schwartz (Lisbug).

THIRTYLIFE CRISIS Lisa Schwartz's stories and musings are all about watching her friends adult like pros, while she tries to understand why she doesn't want or can't seem to find all the things they have for herself. Like a big sister who's already seen it all, Lisa will take readers through her own life experiences to say that one thing we all need to hear: you are so not alone. Unabashed and unfiltered, Schwartz's voice and candor will appeal to anyone in their thirties who just can't deal with the never-ending Facebook feed of friends' engagement photos and baby pictures, the trials of figuring out where their passion meets their career, and everything in between.

So, if you've ever had to figure out...

Parenting Your Parents (Yikes)
Gender Reveal Parties (It's an actual thing.)
Discovering That Your Boyfriend Likes Boys (Surprise!)
Online Shopping Away Your Anxiety (Don't)
or Gender Reveal Parties (Seriously. It's an actual thing.)
This book is your new best friend.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Review - Finding Freedom

Title:   Finding Freedom
Author:  Erin French
Publisher:  Celedon Books
Genre:   Memoir
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   304
Date of Publication:   April 6, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars


From Erin French, owner and chef of the critically acclaimed The Lost Kitchen, a TIME world dining destination, a life-affirming memoir about survival, renewal, and finding a community to lift her up

Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad's diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir--a classic American story--invites readers to Erin's corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the "girl from Freedom" fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin's life triumphant.

In Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food--as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin's experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom. 

Erin French writes a compelling memoir, one that will touch many hearts. Erin started off working with her father at his diner. He was a difficult man and she couldn't wait to finish high school and go to college. She would leave Freedom, Maine and perhaps become a doctor. However, she got pregnant during her second year in college and that changed her life forever.

She did find love, but that relationship had its huge share of problems. Meanwhile, Erin dreams changed to owning her own restaurant. That she did, but this led to anxiety, drugs, and family issues that almost cost her everything.

She found her way and now runs the success Lost Kitchen restaurant. Even more, is that there is a television series in its second season that champions Erin's successes.

For more on this book, please see the YouTube video review

Many thanks to Celedon Books for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Erin French is the owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen, a 40-seat restaurant in Freedom, Maine, that was recently named one TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places and one of "12 Restaurants Worth Traveling Across the World to Experience" by Bloomberg. A born-and-raised native of Maine, she learned early the simple pleasures of thoughtful food and the importance of gathering for a meal. Her love of sharing Maine and its delicious heritage with curious dinner guests and new friends alike has garnered attention in outlets such as The New York Times (her piece was one of the ten most read articles in the food section the year it was published), Martha Stewart Living, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Food & Wine. She has been invited to share her story on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Chew, CBS This Morning, and The Today Show. Erin was featured in a short film made by Tastemade in partnership with L. L. Bean, which won a James Beard Award, and The Lost Kitchen Cookbook has been named one of the best cookbooks by The Washington Post,, and Remodelista and was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award.

YouTube Review - Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain

Title:   Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain
Author:  Bradley Bale, Amy Doneen, Lisa Collier Cool
Publisher:  Little, Brown Spark
Genre:   Health and Wellness
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   464
Date of Publication:   March 15, 2022
My Rating:  5 Stars 


Boost your cardiovascular health, optimize your mental strength, and prevent and reverse arterial disease with this personalized plan from the founders of the renowned Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center –– “you’ll want to read every page” (Amen).
Did you know that every forty seconds, someone in the US suffers a heart attack or stroke, and every sixty-five seconds someone develops dementia? The culprit is cardiovascular disease—and rates are soaring in younger, seemingly healthy people. Busting every myth we have about cardiovascular health, including that women are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes, world-renowned cardiovascular specialists Bradley Bale, MD, and Amy Doneen, DNP, have pioneered a lifesaving method to prevent these devastating events—and reverse the disease that causes them.
The BaleDoneen Method transcends the medical silos of cardiology, neurology, endocrinology, and others with a holistic approach designed to protect and optimize the health of the heart, brain, and other vital organs, as well as the blood vessels that supply them. With laser-sharp focus, Bale and Doneen provide the latest research on how your oral health is contributing to the decline of your heart. Captivating and revolutionary, Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain is a unique and comprehensive program to prevent chronic diseases and memory loss in people of all ages regardless of their body type, medical history, or genes. Offering a roadmap to lifelong arterial wellness, it includes:

Precision medical methods to prevent diseases of aging
The best and worst supplements and foods for your heart
Ten lifestyle moves that lower dementia risk by 35 percent
Information about genes that raise cardiovascular risk as much as smoking

The top ten heart attack prevention tips for women

Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain will equip you with the knowledge you need to approach your healthcare as an empowered and informed patient.

This is an excellent book about how a team of medical professionals work to perfect the Bale/Doneen method to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, while also using their knowledge to improve memory and other relevant medical issues.

I loved this book and enjoyed making the YouTube video review for this title:

Many thanks to Little, Brown Spark for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Review - Kamila Knows Best

Title:   Kamila Knows Best
Author:  Farah Heron
Publisher:  Forever
Genre:   Forever
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   368
Date of Publication:   March 8, 2022
My Rating:   5 Stars


Kamila Hussain’s life might not be perfect, but, whew, it’s close. She lives a life of comfort, filled with her elaborate Bollywood movie parties, a dog with more Instagram followers than most reality stars, a job she loves, and an endless array of friends who clearly need her help finding love. In fact, Kamila is so busy with her friends’ love lives, she’s hardly given any thought to her own . . .

Fortunately, Kamila has Rohan Nasser. A longtime friend of the family, he’s hugely successful, with the deliciously lean, firm body of a rock climber. Only lately, Kamila’s “harmless flirting” with Rohan is making her insides do a little bhangra dance.

But between planning the local shelter’s puppy prom, throwing a huge work event, and proving to everyone that she’s got it all figured out, Kamila isn’t letting herself get distracted—until her secret nemesis returns to town with an eye for Rohan. Suddenly, it seems like the more Kamila tries to plan, the more things are starting to unravel—and her perfectly ordered life is about to be turned upside down. 

Bringing couples together is something that Kamila Hussain excels at. However, her own life is in the slow lane. Meanwhile, she will enjoy hosting Bollywood parties, her job and keeping her dog's Instagram account flourishing.

Kamila has been very good friends with Rohan Nasser for years. However, she starts to view him differently. Her changing feelings for Rohan don't come without difficulties.  To see more, please watch my YouTube video review of this engaging read:

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


Farah Heron is a critically acclaimed author of romantic comedies for adults and young adults filled with huge South Asian families, delectable food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two children, and a rabbit named Strawberry. She recently adopted two cats, who are now in charge.

Farah’s debut, The Chai Factor was named one of the summer’s best books by The Globe and Mail, and was praised in Book Riot, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Bustle and more. Her next release, Accidentally Engaged, was listed as a best book of 2021 in Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, NPR, CBC Books, Kobo, and more. Her young adult debut, Tahira in Bloom, was recently released, and was praised as one of the best rom-coms of the year by USA today. 

Review - Wild Life

Title:   Wild Life
Author:  Kenna Roberts
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Genre:   Memoir
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   304
Date of Publication:   November 12, 2019
My Rating:   5 Stars


Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight meets Mean Girls in this funny, insightful fish-out-of-water memoir about a young girl coming of age half in a "baboon camp" in Botswana, half in a ritzy Philadelphia suburb.

Keena Roberts split her adolescence between the wilds of an island camp in Botswana and the even more treacherous halls of an elite Philadelphia private school. In Africa, she slept in a tent, cooked over a campfire, and lived each day alongside the baboon colony her parents were studying. She could wield a spear as easily as a pencil, and it wasn't unusual to be chased by lions or elephants on any given day. But for the months of the year when her family lived in the United States, this brave kid from the bush was cowed by the far more treacherous landscape of the preppy, private school social hierarchy.

Most girls Keena's age didn't spend their days changing truck tires, baking their own bread, or running from elephants as they tried to do their schoolwork. They also didn't carve bird whistles from palm nuts or nearly knock themselves unconscious trying to make homemade palm wine. But Keena's parents were famous primatologists who shuttled her and her sister between Philadelphia and Botswana every six months. Dreamer, reader, and adventurer, she was always far more comfortable avoiding lions and hippopotamuses than she was dealing with spoiled middle-school field hockey players.

In Keena's funny, tender memoir, Wild Life, Africa bleeds into America and vice versa, each culture amplifying the other. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Wild Life is ultimately the story of a daring but sensitive young girl desperately trying to figure out if there's any place where she truly fits in.

Keena Roberts split her time in Kenya, then Botswana, and also Philadelphia as her famous primatologist parents worked on a baboon camp. The wilds had plenty of danger, but when back in the States, Keena had just as much danger - from mean-spirited girls who never made her feel accepted.

For more of my thoughts on this captivating memoir, please see this YouTube video review - 

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


Keena Roberts is the author of Wild Life: Dispatches From a Childhood of Baboons and Button-Downs, a memoir about growing up in a research camp in Botswana and the transition back to the life of an American high school student in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia.

A born adventurer, Keena is drawn to stories featuring strong female protagonists and survival in incredible worlds full of danger, animals, and natural beauty. Her current work in progress is an epic fantasy novel, also set in the Okavango Delta, featuring baboon protagonists based on actual monkeys from the troop she grew up observing with her parents. 

The daughter of two prominent primatologists, she is a graduate of Harvard University and holds two Masters degrees from Johns Hopkins University in international development as well as global disease epidemiology and control. She has worked in the world of global health for more than ten years, mostly in the field of HIV/AIDS, and credits her time in Botswana for developing her interest in this field. 

Subscribe to Keena’s newsletter to receive exclusive insider info about her life and work.

YouTube Review - The Next Thing You Know

Title:   The Next Thing You Know
Author:  Jessica Strawser
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   352
Date of Publication:   March 22, 2022
My Rating:  5 Stars 


A musician facing the untimely end of his career. An end-of-life doula with everything, and nothing, to lose. A Star Is Born meets Me Before You in this powerful novel by the author of A Million Reasons Why.

As an end-of-life doula, Nova Huston’s job—her calling, her purpose, her life—is to help terminally ill people make peace with their impending death. Unlike her business partner, who swears by her system of checklists, free-spirited Nova doesn’t shy away from difficult clients: the ones who are heartbreakingly young, or prickly, or desperate for a caregiver or companion.

When Mason Shaylor shows up at her door, Nova doesn’t recognize him as the indie-favorite singer-songwriter who recently vanished from the public eye. She knows only what he’s told her: That life as he knows it is over. His deteriorating condition makes playing his guitar physically impossible—as far as Mason is concerned, he might as well be dead already.

Except he doesn’t know how to say goodbye.

Helping him is Nova’s biggest challenge yet. She knows she should keep clients at arm’s length. But she and Mason have more in common than anyone could guess… and meeting him might turn out to be the hardest, best thing that’s ever happened to them both.

The Next Thing You Know is an emotional, resonant story about the power of human connection, love when you least expect it, hope against the odds, and what it really takes to live life with no regrets. 


What an utterly emotional and compelling read.

Nova Huston and her partner Kelly are death doulas. Just like a midwife who assists with birth, death doulas assist in the dying process. Their newest client is Mason Shaylor. Nova works with Mason and the pair have a connection neither expected, all while Nova knew that Mason might not be around for very long. They shared an unusual alliance, one that showed just how much they had in common.

This was not an easy read. This book will require a handy box of tissues nearbu because the end result is clear. It is the path to that result that allows readers to understand more about how important Nova and Kelly's jobs are and what pain Mason and his family went through.

Please enjoy this YouTube video review - 


JESSICA STRAWSER is the author of the book club favorites ALMOST MISSED YOU (a B&N Best New Fiction pick), NOT THAT I COULD TELL (a bestselling Book of the Month selection), FORGET YOU KNOW ME (now in paperback), and the 2021 SheReads, E! News & Goodreads "Most Anticipated" title A MILLION REASONS WHY, releasing to a starred Booklist review in March 2021. Her fifth novel, THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, is forthcoming in March 2022 (all from St. Martin's Press). She is Editor-at-Large for Writer’s Digest and a contributing editor for Career Authors, and her work has appeared in The New York Times' Modern Love, Publishers Weekly, and other fine venues. She lives with her husband and two children in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she was named the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

A popular speaker at writing conferences, book clubs, and book festivals nationwide, she is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, Fiction Writers Co-op, and Women's Fiction Writers Association. Connect with her on Twitter @jessicastrawser and Facebook and Instagram @jessicastrawserauthor. Visit to learn more, read some of her work and sign up for her email list to receive occasional updates and hellos. 

BLOG TOUR - The Lying Club


From the acclaimed author of Beautiful Bad comes an explosive new novel of revenge, murder and shocking secrets—where the victims aren’t who you might think. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Lucy Foley, and Liv Constantine.

Three women. Two bodies. One big lie…

A tangled web of lies draws together three women in this explosive thriller of revenge, murder and shocking secrets.

At an elite private school nestled in the Colorado mountains, Natalie, an office assistant, dreams of having a life like the school moms she deals with every day. Women like Brooke—a gorgeous heiress, ferociously loving mother and serial cheater—and Asha, an overprotective mom who suspects her husband of having an affair. Their fates are bound by the handsome assistant athletic director Nicholas, whom Natalie loves, Brooke wants and Asha needs.

But when two bodies are carried out of the school one morning, it seems the tension between mothers and daughters, rival lovers, and the haves and have-nots has shattered the surface of this isolated, affluent town—where people stop at nothing to get what they want.

BUY LINKS: | Harlequin | Barnes & Noble
 Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Title:   The Lying Club
Author:  Annie Ward
Publisher:  Park Row
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   432
Date of Publication:   March 22, 2022
My Rating:   5 Stars

Three women, two of them mothers, find themselves embroiled but unsavory actions at a fancy boarding school.

The haves in this story would be Asha and Brooke. The have-nots would include Natalie, the school secretary. Before I continue, please disregard the title. The women were never in concert with one another and there was no such club.

What we have in this book are parents who want their children to succeed no matter the cost. Asha is worried that her husband Phil is cheating, and is also shocked to discover that she is pregnant. Brooke is gorgeous and glamorous and is also a serial cheater. Then there is Natalie, who works at the school where Asha and Brooke's daughters attend, and she is more than hooked on pills.

The book starts off with at least one dead body. So the mystery is not whether or not someone would be killed, but who the body was, how and why the individual was killed, and whether or not the killer would be identified.

The story shifts from past to present with warp neck speed as everything begins to come together, with the school's coach and trainer Nick right in the thick of things.

This book was incredibly compelling from start to finish. In fact, you have to read to the very end to see how much deception and lies is the underbelly of this book and how so many lives have been affected.

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

Please enjoy the following excerpt:

THE NECKTIE OF her ex was still clasped in her hand when Natalie woke. Her head was pounding, and her mouth tasted bad, like she’d fallen into bed without brushing her teeth. She had a horrible, cloudy feeling that she’d done something regrettable, but in that moment, she couldn’t remember what it was.

She wasn’t at home. Instead, she was upright, a seat belt crossing her chest. In front of her was the windshield of her own car, coated in a sheet of frost, and her I LOVE COLORADO! key chain was dangling from the ignition.

Natalie realized then that she’d blacked out. It had happened before, when she was much younger, and the memory of that awful awakening hit her with an electrifying jolt. After a frantic inspection, she concluded that all her clothes were on and nothing seemed torn or altered. She slipped the tie into her coat pocket.

Yanking the rearview mirror toward her face, she saw that her hazel eyes were huge, the pupils tiny pinpoints, and her mascara was smudged. A chapped crack ran down the bottom of her lower lip, but there were no other bruises or cuts. It didn’t appear that she’d crashed into a building or a tree. There were no sirens.

She rolled down her window, and a thin wall of ice collapsed into the car, dampening her plaid skirt. It was almost dark outside.

Work. She was at work. Across the snowy parking lot, she could see the back door to the east wing of the private school where she was an administrative assistant in the front office.

Pulling on her stocking cap and opening the car door, Natalie noticed footprints, slightly softened by snowfall, leading from her car to the rear exit of the school’s gym. Another set of identical prints returned from the door to the car, but not in a straight line. They zigzagged, and there was a large compression in the snow, just about the size of a small person like her. Gingerly, she lowered one boot into the first of the prints to make sure it was a match. It was. It seemed likely that the body-shaped spot in the snow was an indication that she’d fallen, and a quick pat down of her coat confirmed that it was wet.

Natalie stepped out of her car and squinted into the wind. Her legs felt weak, as if she’d just returned from one of her longer runs.

She retraced her own tracks, leading to the school. The sky was changing color from a grayish stormy dusk to night, and it struck Natalie, who loved art, that the swirling white flurries between her and the stars resembled a monochrome Van Gogh painting. Snow-capped peaks surrounded her on all sides. Down the mountain was the town center. Lights twinkled. Houses, vacation condos, and old-timey shops were piled like Christmas gifts on top of one another alongside a dark and twisting river.

The heavy back door was ajar. When she tugged on it, it groaned, scraped, and opened. Heart pounding, she went in.

During school hours, the sports pavilion would have been filled with the sound of bouncing basketballs, laughter, whistles, and sneakers squeaking on the gym floor. Now, there was distant, droning pop music playing up on the mezzanine, but no one was singing along or dropping weights to the floor with a crash.

Natalie walked with slow, hesitant steps over to the double doors that opened onto the basketball courts.

Normally those doors stood propped open by gray rubber wedges. Now they were closed, but each had a rectangular window. Natalie curled her hand and made a cup for her eyes.

It took a second to see anything at all. The court was dim, aglow only from the small green emergency lights situated over the doors and in the corners of the room. Her eyes were adjusting. Something was there.

She jumped away from the door as if the glass had burned her skin. Her hands flew up to cover her mouth. A scream almost escaped, but she stopped it in her throat with a choking noise.

Not far from the door was what looked like a crumpled pile of clothes and broken body parts, motionless in the middle of a spreading pool of blood.

What the hell did I do?

The security lights in the Falcon Academy parking lot flickered. It was early Monday morning and still dark. A beat-up Pathfinder left tracks in the snow as it swerved into a spot re-served for employees.

Harry Doyle climbed out and used his heel to squelch a cigarette into the ground. He grabbed a battered baseball cap from the dashboard and plopped it on his head, holding down what little was left of his hair. After slamming the driver’s door shut, he looked up at the sky, which was turning pink and orange to the east. An enormous blanket of fluffy white covered the parking lot. Last night had been the first big storm of the season, and some parents would call their kids in sick so they could hit the slopes with their friends.

The sixty-eight-year-old custodian shuffled towards the rear entrance of the sports pavilion. The automatic fluorescents in the back hallway glowed a sickly yellow. He hummed as he plodded down the hall to the boys’ changing room, where he put his lunch and jacket away in his locker before going to the storage closet. Harry grabbed the fiberglass handle of the deluxe wet mop and hauled it, and the bucket, out into the corridor toward the basketball courts. Pushing past the double doors, he activated all nine light switches with a swipe of his hand. The bulky, caged gymnasium overheads burst to life with a buzz.

“What the hell?” he exclaimed, dropping the mop.

The handle clattered against the maple wood planks. “Oh dear God.” The words came out strangled.

Harry scrambled for his phone in a zippered compartment of his slacks.

“Hello?” he managed to say, after dialing 911. He was having trouble breathing. “The Falcon Academy. Off Highway 70. Just west of Blackswift. Oh Jesus. Jesus Mary and Joseph. We need help. There’s a lot of blood.”

Excerpted from The Lying Club by Annie Ward, Copyright © 2022 by Annie Ward. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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Annie Ward is the author of Beautiful Bad. She has a BA in English literature from UCLA and an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starring Adam Scott, was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She has received a Fulbright scholarship and an Escape to Create artist residency. She lives in Kansas with her family.

Social Links:
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Twitter: @_annie_ward
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