FEATURE – Catch Us When We Fall by Juliette Fay

Equal parts dramatic, romantic and uplifting, Catch Us When We Fall (available Sept. 21, 2021) is ultimately a story about forgiveness and hope. Cass and Scott have a difficult history – Cass is the longtime girlfriend of Scott’s late brother, Ben. Cass and Ben spent the better part of a decade under the influence, while Scott worked to build a career as a professional baseball player. Is the plot a little predictable? Sure. But maybe reliable is the better word here. While this wasn’t personally a favorite for me, a lot of readers of contemporary fiction really love it, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a heartwarming story about complicated (but lovable!) characters. A big thank you to Get Red PR for the free book!

SYNOPSIS: On her own since the age of eighteen, Cass Macklin dated brilliant, troubled Ben McGreavy, convinced he was the smartest person she’d ever known. They partied their way through their twenties, slowly descending into a bleak world of binge-drinking and broken promises, inebriated for most of a decade. Now Ben is dead, and Cass is broke, homeless, scared…and pregnant.

Determined to have a healthy pregnancy and raise Ben’s baby, Cass has to find a way to stop drinking and build a stable life for herself and her child. But with no money, skills, or sober friends or family, the task seems insurmountable. At wit’s end, Cass turns to the only person with the means to help her: Ben’s brother Scott, third basemen for the Boston Red Sox, a man with a temper and problems of his own.

The two make a deal that neither one of them is sure they can live up to. As Cass struggles to take control of her life and to ask for help when she needs it, Scott begins to realize there’s a life for him beyond the baseball diamond.

REVIEW – The Secret Stealers by Jane Healey

2021 is turning out to be “the year where I read a ton of historical fiction” – luckily, each book in the genre i’ve read so far has been pretty decent. The Secret Stealers is no exception. When Anna Cavanaugh takes a job working for family friend Major General William Donovan (WWII buffs probably recognize this name – yes, he was real, and yes, he was kind of a badass. For those of you who aren’t familiar with WWII-era US history, i’ll give you this: founding father of the CIA).

Anna quickly becomes close with other women in the organization, and the bits and pieces we get of their friendship are some of my favorite parts of the book. Anna and a few of her friends are eventually sent overseas (to different countries) and she becomes a spy in France (very interesting, VERY dangerous).

In terms of historical fiction, this is a little bit lighter. Yes, there are some incredibly sad parts, and Healey doesn’t shy away from the horrors and aftermath of war, but compared to other books in the genre i’ve read, it’s a bit tame (this isn’t a criticism, I would highly recommend this book to readers who are wanting to dip their toe in the WWII fiction world, or those who are a bit more sensitive when it comes to the tougher topics).

Thank you Get Red PR for the finished copy of The Secret Stealers!

REVIEW – The Last Tiara by MJ Rose

I’m always excited to put a historical fiction novel onto my tbr, especially if it deals with an era or region that i’m not really familiar with. The Last Tiara is told in dual timelines – Isobelle is living in 1940s NYC and looking for answers after her mother’s death one year prior. She finds a tiara (minus the jewels) hidden in the wall of her mother’s bedroom and works to uncover the history of piece. We also get Sofiya’s perspective from Russia in 1915 – she begins working as a nurse and through a series of events (and after a period of years) ends up fleeing Bolshevik Russia.

This is my second MJ Rose book and she does a great job of setting up strong, independent female characters. If you’re a historical fiction fan, you’ll want to add this to your tbr!

Thank you Get Red PR for the NetGalley ARC.

REVIEW – Lie, Lie Again by Stacy Wise

Lie, Lie Again is a popcorn-y contemporary novel (don’t call this a thriller!) about three women all in varying stages of life.

We follow a (very) young wife and mother of two, a teacher in her mid-20s dealing with some very uncomfortable feelings about her friend’s husband, and a 30-something professional with a lot of secrets. In fact, all three women have secrets that they want to hide. Some are more sinister than others.

This went in a direction that I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but the ride was fun.

Thank you Get Red PR for the ARC!

REVIEW – Under A Gilded Moon by Joy Jordan-Lake

When Kerry MacGregor has no choice but to leave NYC and head home to the Blue Ridge Mountains to care for her dying father, she gets wrapped up in the world of high society, the completion of the Biltmore Estate and a murder mystery.

You can tell that Jordan-Lake has a great love for the Blue Ridge Mountains – some of my favorite parts of the book were the descriptions of the setting and scenery. I did feel that some of the characters and potential storylines weren’t explored enough, but that did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. The story is interesting, the setting is lovely and there are a lot of memorable characters (some delightful and others absolutely despicable).

There is a murder mystery in the background of this book, but this is very much historical fiction that covers a few months in the life of our main character – I would not classify the book as a “mystery” even though that is one major element.

Under A Gilded Moon was a nice little escape for a few days – I felt transported to the Blue Ridge Mountains and i’m definitely going to make it a point to visit the Biltmore someday.

Content warnings: racism, brief mentions of domestic violence, alcoholism, death of a parent, attempted assault, suicide

Thank you Get Red PR for the finished copy!

REVIEW – The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The First to Lie is a twisty thrill-ride of a book! We’re introduced to two primary characters, Nora and Ellie. One is a glamorous pharmacy rep with a hidden past, and the other is a reporter for a new news station in Boston who seems to be alone in the world. They both have their secrets and things quickly unfold through each chapter. Throw in a pushy, nosy neighbor turned coworker, quick and impactful flashback chapters and a corporate coverup that has an unending ripple effect, and you have a recipe for a thriller that’s sure to delight readers and keep them guessing.

There are twists here that I called early on, and some that I never saw coming. Ryan’s writing is easy and smooth, and her short, punchy chapters kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime!

Content warning: infertility/fertility treatments, forced miscarriage/abortion

Thank you Forge Reads and Get Red PR for sending me an advanced copy of The First to Lie!

REVIEW – Black Fatigue by Mary-Frances Winters

{Available September 15, 2020} Black Fatigue is anti-racism 101 in the absolute best way. It’s the perfect guide for those who are just starting to pick up anti-racism resources, and a great refresher for those who have already done some reading. Mary-Frances Winters outlines the physiological and psychological effects that racism has on Black people, and the struggles that come with dealing with racist attitudes and policies every day.

One thing I really appreciated about this book is how Winters explains how different intersectional identities have varying impacts on the fatigue people face. For instance, a straight Black woman has different privileges than an LGBTQ+ Black woman.

Winters also focuses on her own personal experiences and how things throughout her life have contributed to her Black fatigue. Her first experience with racism/Black fatigue was in Kindergarten (something that rings true for many).

I loved that Winters offered up other books to read and resources to check out throughout the book – she provides a lot of solutions and action items for readers. She also defines a lot of key terms that are relevant to anti-racism education. Black Fatigue would be a great book to reference over and over throughout the span of one’s anti-racism journey.

Thank you Get Red PR for providing me with a digital copy of Black Fatigue.

REVIEW – Cartier`s Hope by M.J. Rose

{Available January 28, 2020}

“Hope, darling Vera, is the fire that keeps propelling us forward.”

How refreshing to read historical fiction that’s not set during WWII! Rose sets a great scene and transports the reader to 1910 New York.

The story isn’t so much about the Hope diamond as it is about our main character, Vera, and her desire to avenge her father’s death. Even so, the diamond is an intriguing “character.” The real life lore surrounding it makes the story that much more interesting.

“I didn’t want to sit by the sidelines and do what was expected.”

Vera lives somewhat of a double life – as Vera Garland, she’s a member of high society. She attends opulent parties and doesn’t have to lift a finger. But as Vee Swann, she lives among the masses – she goes undercover in factories and tenements, all for the sake of a good story that might improve living conditions for some of the city’s poor and underprivileged. The chapters about the struggles of female reporters were some of my favorites – they were well done, and brutal, and honest. Unfortunately, the hardships they faced are mirrored in our society even today.

WARNING: Vera deals with some sexual abuse in this book (it’s not “violent” or graphic, but it’s a very disturbing concept).

“To live a full life, you need a full heart.”

The romance of the book was a bit underdeveloped in my opinion, but keep in mind I’m not really a romance reader to begin with.

I think a lot of readers will enjoy this one – it’s light historical fiction. It tackles some important issues and topics without diving too deep. It’s serious without being heavy.

Thank you Get Red PR and Atria for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – Little Sister: A Memoir by Patricia Walsh Chadwick

“Happiness is finding peace, joy and inspiration in the array of things one does in life. It is also moving on from what cannot be undone.”

Little Sister is vivid, heartbreaking and, ultimately, joyful.

Patricia Walsh Chadwick does an incredible job of illustrating how intelligent, kind people can get sucked into a cult (especially a cult tied to religion). It seemed like a noble idea at first – but then, bit by bit, freedoms were taken away. Identity was stripped from adults and children alike. Families were separated. The brothers and sisters in the community suffered physical and psychological abuse. The leaders of the community were manipulative hypocrites; it was frustrating and sickening to read about the ways they abused the members of the community (especially the children) in the name of God. (It has some Handmaids Tale vibes for sure.)

And yet, Chadwick’s story is one of resilience and triumph. Of the strength of a family’s love for one another. And ultimately the love of a community despite (or maybe because of) their shared trauma.

If you love memoirs, you have to get your hands on this book.

Thank you to Get Red PR for providing me with a free copy of this book.