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 – False Witness by Karin Slaughter

“If Callie could stay in this quiet moment, big sister by her side, for the rest of her life, then she would be happy. But that wasn’t how life worked.”

Karin Slaughter continues to remind me why she’s my favorite author. Time and time again I am blown away by her ability to weave an intriguing, emotional, gut-punch of a plot. The first Karin Slaughter book I read was one of her standalones, so i’m always excited when she releases a new one. I think they’re a great introduction to her writing for anyone looking to give her books a try.

False Witness is about two sisters with a long-buried secret. It provides an honest, heartbreaking look at addiction, abuse and sexual assault. It’s full of the twists and “OMG” moments you expect from a Karin Slaughter book. I won’t give too much away because it’s worth diving in headfirst, without taking too close of a look (avoid detailed reviews!)

This book does make mention of the pandemic, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. It’s merely part of the story, instead of being a major focus. My recommendation? Definitely read the Author’s Note to get a glimpse into her thought process while writing the book.

As far as content warnings? I won’t list them all here, but please know that if you are a sensitive reader, this probably isn’t the book for you.

Thank you Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the free book!

REVIEW – The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Okay, I officially want to dive into Kate Quinn’s backlist. The Rose Code was an incredibly immersive, emotional, charming piece of historical fiction. Focusing on the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, The Rose Code features three main characters – Osla, Mab and Beth – who have incredibly different personalities but become fast friends.

Throughout the course of the war, we follow the three women as they endure long shifts, battle sexist attitudes, fall in (and out) of love, and experience unimaginable loss.

The book bounces between two timelines – WWII (beginning in 1940 and moving along at an even pace) and post-war 1947, mere days before the wedding of Princess (now Queen!) Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Quinn is an incredible storyteller – I felt like I was transported into 1940s England, sitting in the room watching these amazing women work on breaking codes that ultimately could save the lives of hundreds (or thousands). The way Quinn weaves together fiction with real-life “characters” and events is remarkable, and you can tell she has done her research. The Rose Code will entertain you but it will also educate you.

Thank you to Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the finished copy!

REVIEW – The Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis

What a fun little read! The Forever Girl has a great balance of lighthearted, funny moments and heavier, heartfelt, emotional moments.

Maze, Walker, Heather and Cat are siblings of the heart. Cat’s parents fostered Maze, Walker and Heather a number of years ago. Their time together as kids was short-lived due to an unimaginable tragedy, but they have stayed in touch over the years. With Cat’s wedding weekend approaching, she takes the opportunity to force everyone back together to see if they can rekindle the strong bond they once had.

Although the events of this book are somewhat predictable (let’s say “reliable” – it’s a much more positive way of putting it!) it’s still a good read. There’s also a small amount of steam in this story that I wasn’t expecting!

Thank you Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the free book!

REVIEW – The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

When Bert Monte receives a mysterious letter in the mail (it’s gilded and it’s in Italian) she quickly learns she has inherited a noble title and a castle in the Alps overlooking a small village. Sounds like a grown-up Princess Diaries, right? Not exactly…

This book starts off strong. There’s an ominous vibe right from the beginning – even Bert mentions a sense of impending doom and considers throwing the letter away. But, she doesn’t. And we get to learn the secrets of the Montebianco family.

At first it’s like a dream come true – a whirlwind trip to Italy on a private jet, a stay in an opulent hotel, instant wealth, prestige. But, something’s not right. If you’re a thriller reader (and if you read the synopsis of this book) you probably have some theories in mind, even as you read this review. I mean, we’ve all read books about rich families with deep dark secrets, literal skeletons in their closets, you know the drill. Trust me when I tell you – with The Ancestor, you DO NOT KNOW THE DRILL. You couldn’t POSSIBLY even begin to imagine what you’ll uncover throughout the course of this book.

I’m not going to even begin to explain what happens here, because I think going in as blind as possible will just make the reading experience better. I can tell you this: the castle has major Beauty and the Beast vibes. The story of the Montebianco family is dark. There are some horrific parts, some incredibly gruesome parts, and some deeply sad moments. There’s a paranormal element here. You might be able to piece some things together near the beginning (I did – somewhat). But then you’ll end up down a path you didn’t expect.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It gets weird (especially in the last quarter of the story). The first half was a real slam dunk for me, and the last bit…wasn’t so much. My overall feelings about this book are positive – I read it in the course of a day, partly because the writing flowed so easily and partly because I just had to find out what was going to happen next.

REVIEW – Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

Elevator Pitch is a solid suspenseful story about elevator rides gone wrong in NYC. Barclay does a great job of setting the scene and making you feel safe until, suddenly, you’re not.

The story is fast paced and, honestly, a little fun. The premise is horrifying but the execution is very reminiscent of a good summer blockbuster.

I’ve never been afraid of elevators, but I might opt to take the stairs from now on.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me with a copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

This book is good. The characters are well-developed, their struggles are realistic and the setting is lovely. It’s a great summer read.

I really enjoyed Lu’s chapters the most, and I thought her friendship with Anthony was sweet and relatable.

The story wasn’t incredibly exciting, but I don’t think it needed to be. When I was about a quarter of the way in I was waiting for something to “kick in” but then I realized it’s simply a book about people and is 100% character driven.

The Islanders is a light, easy read, either for people who gravitate toward these types of books, or for readers like me who need a palate cleanser between thrillers/mysteries.

I received an ARC of this book from William Morrow as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

REVIEW – Not Bad People by Brandy Scott

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!

Not Bad People starts off with an interesting premise – three friends release paper lanterns filled with resolutions on New Year’s Eve. The next day, we learn there was a plane crash nearby and one of our characters is convinced that the lanterns were the cause.

I thought this would be a fast-paced suspense/thriller that focused primarily on the crash and the aftermath (maybe a trial? A more in-depth investigation?) but it’s really about these three friends (Aimee, Melinda and Lou), their lives and how their friendship unravels over the course of a few weeks. It leans heavily into the Women’s Fiction genre (not a negative, just an observation).

The friendship falls apart so fast I found it difficult to believe that they were even good friends to begin with (maybe their friendship is a matter of proximity rather than choice). When dealing with Aimee’s mental issues, Lou and Melinda seemed annoyed rather than worried about their friend.

I also thought the author was setting us up for some sort of confrontation with Peter’s stepson, Cameron. There were also some loose ends regarding Cameron and Aimee’s son, Byron.

The book was a bit longer than it needed to be – at more than 550 pages, I feel there were some storylines or repetitive parts that could be cut out.

The writing is good – this is a debut from Brandy Scott and I think it’s promising. I would be interested in reading another book from her if she continues to write.

Thank you William Morrow for providing me with an ARC of this book.