blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Bookseller’s Secret – Michelle Gable

From New York Times bestselling author Michelle Gable comes a dual-narrative set at the famed Heywood Hill Bookshop in London about a struggling American writer on the hunt for a rumored lost manuscript written by the iconic Nancy Mitford—bookseller, spy, author, and aristocrat—during World War II.

“Gable’s witty narrative effortlessly moves between two time periods and is enriched with cameos by historical figures and authentic, memorable characters. Historical fiction fans will be riveted from the first page.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

In 1942, London, Nancy Mitford is worried about more than air raids and German spies. Still recovering from a devastating loss, the once sparkling Bright Young Thing is estranged from her husband, her allowance has been cut, and she’s given up her writing career. On top of this, her five beautiful but infamous sisters continue making headlines with their controversial politics. Eager for distraction and desperate for income, Nancy jumps at the chance to manage the Heywood Hill bookshop while the owner is away at war. Between the shop’s brisk business and the literary salons she hosts for her eccentric friends, Nancy’s life seems on the upswing. But when a mysterious French officer insists that she has a story to tell, Nancy must decide if picking up the pen again and revealing all is worth the price she might be forced to pay. Eighty years later, Heywood Hill is abuzz with the hunt for a lost wartime manuscript written by Nancy Mitford. For one woman desperately in need of a change, the search will reveal not only a new side to Nancy, but an even more surprising link between the past and present…

MICHELLE GABLE is the New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, I’ll See You in Paris, The Book of Summer, and The Summer I Met Jack. She attended The College of William & Mary, where she majored in accounting, and spent twenty years working in finance before becoming a full-time writer. She grew up in San Diego and lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband and two daughters. Find her at michellegable.com or on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, @MGableWriter.

My thoughts: like many I’m endlessly fascinated by the Mitford sisters, I’ve read several biographies, a collection of their letters, Nancy’s novels, a section of Debo’s memoirs (written when she was Duchess of Devonshire) and the Mitford Mysteries series (which features each sister solving crimes and is a bit silly). They’re just intriguing, even the fascist ones. They lived through an incredibly complex period of modern history and were very involved with many of the major figures of the day. So I jumped at the chance to be on the blog tour for this book, which features Nancy in wartime London.

It also has a modern day plot featuring a novelist going through a bit of a slump, like Nancy in the 1940s, Katie. She’s an American who arrives in London to stay with her best friend, and finds herself drawn into intrigue at the sane bookshop Nancy once worked in. She’s also a huge Mitford nerd and can’t resist trying to find a supposedly lost manuscript.

I really enjoyed the dual narratives, both Nancy and Katie are delightful characters, clever and interesting women in search of a story. Nancy will eventually find it in the form of the classic The Pursuit of Love, but will Katie also locate a new book and find love?

And then there’s Clive, who’s eight, madly in love with Katie, I want a whole book about him and all the trouble he gets into, £100 an hour IT support and all. I think he might be my favourite character.

I got a bit fed up with Simon for all he’s part of what drives Katie forward, teasing her with tiny parts of his family story, breadcrumbs when he could just be more upfront. It just seemed a bit mean. But I suppose if he did just give Katie everything he knew, there’d be no story!

This was tremendously enjoyable, fun, witty and entertaining, much like Nancy’s novels. A real pleasure to read. The characters come to life on the page, you’re right there with Nancy and her friends, camped out in the bookshop with nowhere else to go.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Hapless Husband & His Curious Wife – Helen E. Field

A hilarious modern day social comedy.

Follow the madcap lives of the sassy Brooke and her anxious husband Dean, as they navigate the chaos caused by their double lives: secrets, syndicates and stress… money, madness and McDonald’s… political incorrectness, punters and posh people… betting, blood pressure and ballet… haves, have nots and horseracing…diversity, dilemmas and days out…gender, gyms and gentility. TRIGGER WARNING: If you are easily offended, ‘woke’ or work in human resources you may be traumatised by this author’s irreverent sense of humour.

Essex girl Brooke secretly works for Lady Townsend, who’s attempting to transform her into a lady, by offering her an eye-opening education. She exposes Brooke to some mind-boggling experiences and a class of people a million miles away from her own, resulting in some seriously funny social faux pas along the way. Brooke’s outlook changes as she takes advantage of these opportunities to better herself, with often comic results! Meanwhile her husband Dean is clueless as to why his normally ditsy wife appears to be acting so weird.

Meanwhile, Dean has been set a challenge by his boss. He’s been tasked with making their workforce the most diverse in the industry, but Dean’s unorthodox approach to recruiting, reveals that he struggles with the very concept of what he considers a ‘woke’ request. In addition, he’s still keeping his mystery shopping side hustle a secret from his demanding wife, ensuring he gets some ‘me time’ away from her and their boisterous toddler Paige.

The farcical situations they find themselves in as a result of their lies, cause off the scale stress for them both. How much longer can they withstand the deceit? Will Brooke’s transformation make her long-suffering husband feel left behind? Or will it improve all their lives? It’s that or even more chaos…

The story pokes fun at a myriad of people and institutions and is a wonderfully eclectic mix of Gavin & Stacey, Pygmalion and Legally Blonde!

Helen Field is a business woman, writer, publisher of greetings cards, funny poet, speaker, traveller and author of The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub.

She was born and brought up in Waltham Abbey in Essex and currently lives in a small village in North West Essex, so it would be fair to say she has earned her “Essex girl” badge!

Helen has had a varied and interesting career in retail and hospitality in UK, Europe and USA, including setting up and running her own restaurant. She runs her own training consultancy to the hospitality industry. One element of her business has been designing and implementing mystery shopper programmes all over the UK for some of the most well-known organisations. With inside knowledge of the industry and armed with thousands of funny mystery shopping incidents, she was inspired to write her debut novel, The Mystery Shopper & The Hot Tub.

Helen has recently spent time combining work and writing with travelling with her husband, including four months in Europe in a 20 year old campervan, a completely wild four-month ride round India by train and a month in an isolated log cabin in Finland. 

She rides a motorbike and has three talented and amazing grown up children.

P.s. She doesn’t have a hot tub… yet!

My thoughts: I felt sorry for Brooke, she’s clearly very clever and all she wants is to expand her horizons and see what else there is beyond the Essex girl stereotypes her husband is so keen on her sticking to.

Her friendship with Lady Townsend is opening her eyes and allowing her to learn new things, like Latin, and experience a whole other world. But her controlling husband doesn’t want her to work, have her own bank account and expects her to respond to his every message immediately.

Meanwhile he’s busy acting like an idiot at work, recruiting people for one characteristic, like their ethnicity, instead of hiring the best people for the job, all to win a stupid award. I can’t believe none of his recruits have told him off, although Chloe’s mum just might! He’s also being ridiculous with his secret shopper gig, keeping it from Brooke and tying himself in knots to carry out the assignments.

They both need to sit down and have a long, long conversation about things. There’s no way all this secrecy and silliness can be sustainable. And they need to stop shoving lollipops in their daughter’s mouth or her teeth will rot as she grows them!

Bits of this were very funny, bits made me slightly uncomfortable. I know a Brooke or two and the occasionally Pygmalion-esque moments (the horse racing straight out of My Fair Lady) made me cringe for her. Being working class isn’t a crime or the worst thing ever – being a snob is definitely less appealing. She just wants to educate herself and be more independent and take an interest, there’s no harm in that.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: You’ll be the Death of Me – Karen McManus

From the author of One of Us Is Lying comes a brand new addictive thriller.

Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close – best friends back in middle school.
Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time’s sake they skip school together – one last time.
But when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him – right into a murder scene.
They all have a connection to the victim. And they’re ALL hiding something.
When their day of freedom turns deadly, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .
It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder, perfect for fans of One Of Us Is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder. This explosive new thriller is impossible to put down.

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Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of young adult thriller/mystery novels, including One of Us Is Lying, One of Us Is Next, Two Can Keep a Secret, and The Cousins. You’ll Be the Death of Me will be her next novel, publishing December 2021. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels. For more information, visit www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter and Instagram.

My thoughts: I am a massive fan of Karen McManus’ writing, her books are cracking, so I was really excited to read this one. Skipping school for the first time, three teens find themselves embroiled in murder, drug dealing and a series of burglaries. It’s up to them to solve the case and find the killer, before they become victims too. It’s also laced with Karen’s trademark dry dark humour and lessons about friendship and honesty. I’ve actually read it twice, having enjoyed it so much, I wanted more!

This feels very cinematic at times, I think it’s the Ferris Bueller vibes, I could definitely see it on Netflix next year. I highly recommend this one.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Sounds Like Love – Laura Ford

SoundsofLove copy

Welcome to the book tour for Sounds Like Love, a clean contemporary YA romance by Laura Ford!

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Sounds Like Love

Publication Date: July 29th, 2021

Genre: YA/ Romance/ Clean YA

Wendy is a bright spark who wants to find love and travel the world, but she questions how her dreams can become a reality as her world changes around her.

When Wendy arrives at her beloved grandmother’s house to collect a box of keepsakes, she picks up more than she bargained for – a green-eyed tabby cat with amazing qualities. This is just the start of a high-speed adventure, leading Wendy towards bright new horizons… if only she’ll give the cat a chance…

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Excerpt

As Wendy got up, something at the window caught her eye again. It was the cat – looking sad as she gazed in through the window. Her coat was beginning to get wet as light rain started to fall outside. Wendy felt a change inside of her. Suddenly she wasn’t thinking about how she felt anymore; she was wondering how the cat was feeling – she felt compassion for the cat. All through her childhood she had disliked cats because her parents had paraded them in front of her and it had made her feel second best. But now, this cat was looking for a friend. How could Wendy hope for people to understand her when she wasn’t trying to understand this cat?

“Empathy,” Wendy said out loud to herself. “That’s what the world needs. More empathy.”

Wendy walked towards the window and the cat looked up at her longingly. Her brown tabby coat was beginning to look almost black as the rain soaked it through, and her green eyes shone through the dim light, as though alight from within. She looked into Wendy’s eyes and Wendy looked back at her, really looked at her now, and saw the cat’s delicate face looking back, hoping to make friends. She noticed, for the first time, the cat’s white whiskers, her little pink nose, and the green collar that Grandma had given her.

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About the Author

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Laura Ford writes novels, short stories and poems across a wide range of human and animal experience. As Laura is an avid cat lover, a number of special felines tend to find their way into Laura’s stories as well.

Laura graduated with an honours degree in British law while also writing fiction in parallel. Now based in California with her husband and two beguiling Siamese cats, Laura most enjoys using her imagination and memories to paint vivid stories. An avid traveler and seeker, Laura is always exploring new concepts for more stories to come.

Sounds Like Love | Instagram | Facebook

SoundsofLove copy

Book Tour Schedule

November 29th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Spotlight) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

@bookscoffeehappiness – https://www.instagram.com/bookscoffeehappiness/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Spotlight) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@bookloverleah (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/bookloverleah/

November 30th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

December 1st

@louturnspages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Read & Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/

December 2nd

Rambling Mads (*Review Out of Tour) http://ramblingmads.com

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

December 3rd

@my_books_and_coffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/my_books_and_coffee/

Eyerolling Dem-God Blog (Spotlight) https://eyerollingdemigod.blogspot.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

*Reviewing out of tour – Really wanted to read it but couldn’t for this week!

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Blog Tour: Chicago May – Harry Duffin

Fleeing an abusive father in Ireland, peasant-girl, May Sharpe chases her dream of a new glamorous life.

    Arriving penniless in 1919’s America, beautiful May is charmed by successful con-man, Eddie. With her new lover’s guidance, teenage May becomes the city’s ‘Queen of Crooks’.

    Joe, a tenacious local cop, has fallen for the beautiful, feisty May and is determined to save her from herself. In the midst of her glitzy life, he urges May to make a decision; a decision which would threaten, not only her new-found fame and fortune, but, her young life…

    Inspired by a true story.

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I am an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s EASTENDERS, and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for CORONATION STREET. I was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. I was co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘THE TRIBE’, which ran for five series.

I have written two novels, CHICAGO MAY and BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS [an intro to the TV series THE TRIBE].

CHICAGO MAY is the first book of a two-part series.


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My thoughts: this was interesting, a slice of historical fiction inspired by a true story, set during the early 20th century. May is an Irish girl, running away from her abusive father and she heads to New York, full of hope.

Unfortunately she falls in with ‘Society’ Eddie, a small time crook and his gang. He soon has her robbing men and shoplifting. But there’s an honest soul, Joe Perski, looking out for her. He’s a cop, but he doesn’t really want May to go to prison, he’s after bigger fish – Eddie. If May helps him perhaps they can both be free.

May, like so many other impressionable young women falls for Eddie’s flash, but he has a very dark side and once she sees it, things have to change. She’s very brave in how she goes about getting things sorted, she puts her life on the line and she’s lucky she’s so clever, it could all go wrong at any moment, but she’s planned for that.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: King of Battle & Blood – Scarlett St Clair

Danger. Darkness. Insatiable romance. Get ready for your new obsession.

Their union is his revenge. Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day to be her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. But her assassination attempt is thwarted, and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. Except it isn’t the court she fears most―it’s Adrian. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king―fierce, savage, merciless―chose her as consort. . . The answer will shatter her world.

Scarlett St Clair is the author of the Hades x Persephone saga, the Hades saga, King of Battle and Blood, and When Stars Come Out. A former librarian, she also has a master’s degree in Library Science and Information Studies and a Bachelors in English Writing. She is obsessed with Greek Mythology, murder mysteries, and the afterlife. You can find pictures of her adorable dog Adelaide on her Instagram (@authorscarlettstclair) and updates about her books at http://www.authorscarlettstclair.

My thoughts: Isolde agrees to marry the vampire king Adrian to save her father’s kingdom, a sort of Beauty & the Beast with royalty, she doesn’t intend on falling heavily in lust and then in love with him. But she does. The sex is quite graphic, and a reminder that not all fantasy is YA. As well as that, there’s an evil witch hellbent on destroying everything, monsters keep attacking people and even Isolde’s dear old dad can’t be trusted.

Isolde realises that she can only rely on a handful of people, and most of them drink blood. But she is loyal and fierce, a warrior before a queen. She will fight and she will get answers to what is happening in Revekka. The things she learns change everything. There’s lots of fighting and blood everywhere, nothing ever seems peaceful in the vampire kingdom, some of your enemies are your own council, and it’s getting worse. The undead seem to live at a faster, more frenetic pace and few mortals can keep up. Can Isolde hold the kingdom together and help Adrian deal with the evil in his past that’s determined to destroy it?

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: A Friend Like Philby – Mark Wakely

AFriendLikeFilby copy

Welcome to the book tour for A Friend Like Filby by Mark Wakely. Read on for more details!

A FRIEND LIKE FILBY front cover (2)

A Friend Like Filby

Expected Publication Date: December 6th, 2021

Genre: YA/ Young Adult/ YA Contemporary/ Time Travel

George has been fascinated with the idea of time travel ever since the unexpected death of his mother when he was ten, and hopes someday to find a friend like Filby, the forever loyal friend of the time traveler in the 1960 movie The Time Machine. George’s two closest high school friends, Dave and Nancy (nickname Onion), struggle at times to understand his odd obsession as they deal with issues of their own both in and out of school. The story takes place during the three friends’ tumultuous senior year from beginning to end, with a major realization in store for George on graduation day.

“Mark Wakely weaves an unusual tale with characters that are both emotionally and psychologically rich…The story is told from George’s perspective and in a first person narrative voice that is as clear as it is compelling. The prose is beautiful and evocative at times and I enjoyed the author’s peculiar turn of phrase, the humor, and his knack for vivid descriptions…It is a delightful read.”  – Readers’ Favorite

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Author

Mark Wakely has held a lifelong interest in all things science-related, dating back to high school when he won the Bausch & Lomb science award in high school. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and is a college administrator at prestigious Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois. He lives in a nearby town with his wife and three children, and is an avid reader and amateur astronomer.

Mark Wakely

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Blog Tour: Don’t Speak – A.J. Park

A MURDER. 

A SUSPECT. 

AN IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE.

What do you do when the one person you thought you could trust might just be the killer you’ve been hunting…?

DS Amelie Davis is utterly devoted to her husband, Edward. Having suffered in silence through years of abuse at the hands of her father, she thought she would never trust another man. Then Edward came along and proved her wrong.

But in the middle of the night, Amelie receives a phone call from an unknown number. The voice at the other end asks: Do you really think you know your husband?

Struggling to separate her past trauma from a case at work in which a series of teenage girls have been found murdered, and watching her husband’s every move with increasing paranoia, Amelie grapples with the fear that her husband is not the man she thought she knew at all. In fact, he might just be the man she’s been hunting…

But what do you do when the man you love might be a killer? Turn him in? Or help him hide…

 After studying Spanish at university, A.J. Park trained as an English teacher and actor. He has edited magazines, and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools across England. He was also a competitive fencer for seven years. His debut novel, The First Lie, was published in 2019. 

My thoughts: terrible murders of young teenage girls, social media, trust, and love all entangle in this clever and complex crime thriller. Amelie keeps losing chunks of time, she’s been told by a strange caller not to trust her husband, and her paranoia is having a terrible effect on her work.

As more young women are found raped and murdered, Amelie realises she has to make an impossible choice and does something really bad, though not as bad as what her husband is up to. If you can’t trust the person you married, who can you?

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Cold Killer – Ross Greenwood

It’s hard to live when you think you deserve to die…
When a tired old inmate is found dead in his cell, the prison is obligated to investigate and so DI Barton attends. The men he interviews have been convicted of some of the worst things a human being can do, but it appears likely that the death was due to natural causes.
When the house of the dead man is burgled and that crime is followed by a suspicious fire, Barton desperately needs to speak to his widow, but she’s nowhere to be found.
In the space of twenty-four hours, everyone he wants to talk to has vanished. Then he receives some post which makes him believe he could be the next to disappear.
Barton’s investigation goes full circle, through a series of brutal murders, back to the prison, and all signs are pointing to the fact that he’s made a terrible mistake.
There’s a violent killer on the loose, who wants everyone to learn that some people deserve to die.
DI Barton is back as Ross Greenwood continues with his bestselling series, perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin.
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Ross Greenwood is the bestselling author of eight crime thrillers. Before becoming a
full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.

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My thoughts: this was clever, dark and twisty, I was honestly not sure who our unreliable narrator was at all, I thought it was one man but maybe it was another?

I go to Peterborough a fair bit across the year as my husband plays para-ice hockey there, but thankfully I’ve never stumbled across any terrible things like in this book, I don’t think I’d feel the same about it if I did, the cathedral’s nice if you’re over that way, Katherine of Aragon is buried there.

Back to the book – as well as hunting down a revenge killer, DI Barton is dealing with his mum’s increasing dementia, slowly losing her bit by bit. It’s a horrible disease and awful for the family to go through. He’s overtired and stressed, but chugs down the coffee and McDonald’s breakfast muffins in a bit to keep going. The killer might be murdering terrible people – but no one is above the law.

It’s all very well done, and kept me guessing, especially as a crucial witness is absent for pretty much the entire time and I kept wondering where they were, but it’s all worth it in this compelling and cold as ice book.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Pacific – Trevor J Houser

A FAST-PACED STORY OF ADVENTURE, FATHERHOOD AND DISCOVERY

“Very heartfelt and amazing story, loved it.” –Gus Van Sant

“If you are a father, or know one, Trevor Houser’s Pacific, is a wild, quixotic ride that will challenge your understanding of what it is to be a parent.” 

–Larry Colton, author of Southern League and Counting Coup

Would you be willing to kidnap your child and take them halfway across the globe for a chance at saving his life when everyone else has given up? When it means you may lose everything regardless of the outcome? Pacific by Trevor J. Houser (November 23, 2021, Unsolicited Press) discovers what a desperate father is willing to do to save his son…even if it means braving deadly storms at home and on the run.

On a remote Puget Sound Island, police chief Bell navigates his job and marriage in the wake of his son’s near-death brain surgery. When his wife no longer wants to tempt the fates of experimental medicine, he takes matters into his own hands. With the help of his spaced-out fisherman friend, Bell kidnaps his boy and sets sail for Guatemala in search of the mysterious Dr. Haas. On the way, they’ll brave the seventh biggest storm, befriend two behemoth fly-fishing Nords, and try to outrun the ex-Navy captain hired by his wife to find them.

With mesmerizing descriptions of the Pacific Northwest, Central America, and the miles in between, Houser captures the heartbreak and hope of a desperate parent, while still maintaining a sense of dark humor and playful language that turns the mundane into something mythic. For fans of Denis Johnson, Richard Brautigan and Jenny Offill, Pacific reminds us that there’s magic, beauty and hope in the world, if we’re just willing to go and look for it.

Trevor J. Houser is an advertising copywriter living with his family in Seattle, WA. He studied creative writing under Thomas Beller at Columbia University. His stories have been published in dozens of literary journals, including Zyzzyva, Story Quarterly, and The Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review. He’s been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He also received special mention in Best American Fantasy Vol. 2. You can find the author on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and at www.houserfiction.com. Pacific is his debut novel.

Author Q & A

Question: This is your debut novel. How did writing a full-length piece differ from the short stories and other pieces you have published?

Trevor J. Houser: Although this is my first published novel most novelists have a closetful of novels they’ve already written that didn’t make it for one reason or another. For me the biggest difference in writing a novel is maintaining the energy of that initial idea. To maintain the consistency of that voice, of that style over the course of many months.

Q: Family and fatherhood is a major theme throughout Pacific. Did your own family life inspire your writing for this book?

TJH: I have a son who was diagnosed with a rare brain disease. After years of navigating all the unknowns and not really writing there was suddenly some light at the end of the tunnel with his prognosis and soon after I found myself writing this book. Pacific is somewhat based on the experiences we’ve been through with our son, but a lot of it is the made-up fantasy of a parent who wishes they could do something more just than talk to a million doctors and not sleep at night. Even though the way in which Chief Bell shows his love for his son might be considered unconventional, it demonstrates how fathers are just as capable as mothers in the depths of their feelings and devotion.

Q: How did the Pacific Northwest influence your story?

TJH: I grew up in Oregon, but afer leaving for college I lived for years in places like New York, San Francisco and Argentina. When I returned to the Pacific Northwest with my family a few years ago I think I forgot just how exotic and rich this place is. It took being away for so long to appreciate the strange beauty of it, which is what I hoped this book would be: strange and beautiful.

Q: Fans of which authors/books do you think would enjoy Pacific and why?

TJH: Hopefully fans of authors such as Kate Jennings and Jenny Offill will like it because of their sentence level precision in telling stories of hope and heartbreak. Donald Barthelme and Richard Brautigan for their playfulness with language and form, and their sense of humor. Denis Johnson for his melancholy strangeness. All my favorite writers tend to elevate the everyday through their language to make the mundane transcendent. To make regular life almost mythic. It’s something I try to accomplish on a sentence level and keep building it so that courses through the entire narrative

Q: What’s next for you and Pacific?

TJH: My second novel is coming out in 2023. It’s about a math hobbyist, who believes he’s discovered a theorem that might predict when and where the next mass shooting takes place.

Excerpt- Chapter One



I have a family. In the gray island-mists north of Seattle I have them. We bought a house in a place called Wolf Island with big Asian maples overlooking Padilla Bay. That first spring I drank wine on the porch and felt so proud. Sunlight through the mist and mossy trees. Feeling like life made sense. Do you know that feeling?
Except now we have a child who might die.
No one is sure. So many children die. But this is our child, so it’s different.
He has a rare brain disease. Like so rare if you say it in most hospitals they look at you with eyes that are kind but vacant, like a trout’s eyes as you lower it back into a cold spring stream.
Now I sit on street corners. I sit there and look at mountains or apartment buildings between me and the mountains. I sit there and look at cars and houses and lawnmowers with icicles on them.
Once we spoke to the doctors and they laughed. We all tried to laugh. We all tried to make it like it was something we could control. It was something humans had power over like the stock market or electronica. It was something that didn’t make you want to go back in time to when the world was saturated and beautiful and untouched.
That was a different person. That was a person putting a little blue sweater on this boy. He hated hats. He hated putting on shoes. He hated so many things.
Now we go to the doctor and laugh.
He looks at nurses and makes jokes and runs up and down the halls and they laugh. Bells. Stars. Planets go by. He is underneath all of that and he shows God what it means. God probably looks down. God looks down, I’m sure. God watches him and his rare diseased brain that is so rare and diseased his pediatrician had never heard of it.
One afternoon, I cried over the sink while eating an avocado.
It was an old avocado that I ate still in its cling wrap as more clouds formed above our small, lumpy yard. I was eating the avocado and looking out at our yard, the mysterious lumps, the sky, the trees. I just sort of smooshed half the avocado into my mouth, thinking of my son. His brain has blood vessels that are too large. His small heart. His small heart is so small.
I could become important. I could drive a speedboat over an iceberg with the Dave Matthews Band playing on the prow and nothing would change. I could become a Navy Seal, the best ever, and his brain would still have too much blood inside it. Those vessels would become enlarged.
His eyes would widen as we watch some muted game show on the TV that’s bolted to the wall surrounded by other children facing the possibility of death. His brain would expand. Or it already has.
On Sundays, we play Captain America.
He has the pajamas with the stars and stripes. He runs so fast and jumps nearly over the bed. He runs and jumps on the bed and makes this noise that isn’t a scream but has the same energy of a scream.
He makes noise.
He jumps and laughs.