A gripping war tale with a romance as a lagniappe.



From the Fighting France series , Vol. 2

This second installment of a historical fiction series focuses on the hard-fought Battle of Belvedere, in which the Free French African forces distinguish themselves—especially the ambulance drivers, all women.

It is late January 1944 during World War II. Italy has surrendered but the Germans have occupied that country. The Allies are marching up the peninsula, determined to take Rome. The Germans have dug in at the so-called Gustav Line, halfway between Naples and Rome. The Americans, British, and French are determined to break that all but impregnable line. The battle rages for two weeks until there is a temporary stalemate after hundreds of French soldiers are killed or wounded. The weather is horrible: cold and rainy, with the roads becoming sluices of mud. And everywhere there are mines. The battle involves valor writ large. A subplot explores the passionate affair between Sous-Lt. Madeleine Sauveterre, the officer in charge of the ambulances, and Lt. Jean-Paul Morane, a company commander. Some of these characters, like those French lovers, are fictional, but other figures and most of the events, such as the attack on the Gustav Line, are all too true. Myers is a keen student of history (this is Book 2 of the author’s Fighting France Series). The battle, which takes up most of the work, is described in wrenching, gory detail. Most of all, Myers makes readers feel the sheer fatigue. One battalion has been without food, water, or sleep for nearly 24 hours. But when told to attack yet again, the soldiers obey without question. Another strong theme concerns women proving themselves, showing that they can be as tough as the men, even standing up to a chauvinistic officer, who backs down. The women, many of them quite young, are a brave bunch. They are also sassy and not shy with the available soldiers. Life is a heightened proposition when death is always just a few inches away. Readers know that the battle will be resumed in the spring when perhaps there will not be so much mud. These are indefatigable people. Myers is clearly awed by them, and readers will be too.

A gripping war tale with a romance as a lagniappe. (maps, bibliography)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-68-188887-1

Page Count: 367

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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