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Please Join Us

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Timely! Another great one from Catherine McKenzie. I feel like this has CoHo potential in terms of selling.
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Nicole is an overworked and exhausted lawyer who is intrigued when she received an invitation to an exclusive organization for women called Panthera Leo. It couldn't come at a better time as things are falling apart for Nicole at work, where she's in danger of losing her coveted partnership. She and her husband, Dan, are also at risk of being kicked out of their New York apartment. She goes on a Panthera Leo retreat and meets the other women in her Pride, which include successful businesswomen, an actress, and a congresswomen. Once home, the Pride helps Nicole find a new place and regain her footing at work. But soon she realizes everything comes at a price--and Panthera Leo has a dark side.

Well, this was an interesting read for sure. At times, it was uneven and dragged. But when it was exciting, it was a total page-turner and very eventful!! PLEASE JOIN US is filled with twists and surprises; just when you think you have things figured out, it takes a turn and goes off another way. The "then" and "now" timeline makes for a frenetic and dramatic format. While fun and perhaps slightly unbelievable, PLEASE JOIN US is an intriguing (albeit slightly stressful) read. It really touches on how angry and tired women can feel in a society that favors men, especially in the workplace (a few things hit home for sure). If you're ready to suspend a little disbelief and get lost in a wild story, this one is for you.
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Bestselling Author Catherine McKenzie returns with her 13th novel, a dazzling psychological suspense thriller, PLEASE JOIN US —with an exclusive invitation to a secret women's networking group that will change the course of one woman's life.

Nicole Muller once had a brilliant law career. Now at age 39, she and her husband, Dan, will be forced out of their apartment and a warning from her firm's senior partner.

Then she receives a mysterious invitation to join a group, Panthera Leo. All the members are successful women professionals; maybe this might be the thing she needs to get back on track with contacts.

They are a girls club in a boy's world. Her hubby is more concerned this may be a cult. Nicole moves forward and joins the retreat in Colorado.

All seems too good to be true, with great returns until she is asked to do things in return that turns more sinister, like covering up crimes.

Juicy REVENGE for all the women in the good old boy network! From deceit, lies, and cover-ups, a chilling roller coaster ride of women's empowerment in a man's world. They will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Wow! Directly after reading PLEASE JOIN US, I started John Grisham's ARC legal thriller (10/18) The Boys from Biloxi (the good ole' boys and all their dirty nasty deeds), and would love to see these women let loose in the man's world of Deep South in the 1950-1970s! That would be a story.

I love legal thrillers or any books with attorneys, justice, or the legal systems. McKenzie, a former attorney, knows her way around the legal world, and the characters are relatable. A fast-paced thriller of hidden agendas, deceit, dark secrets, and ferocious women who are determined to go after and even take what they feel they deserve.

A twisty ending! If you enjoy it when lines are blurred, shades of gray, morality, power imbalances between men and women in the workplace, justice, and revenge,
this one is for you!

Thanks to #AtriaBooks and #NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Review Posted
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 4 Stars
Pub Date: Aug 23, 2022
Aug 2022 Must-Read Books
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Couldn't get into this. It was interesting in the beginning but the premise just did not hook me and left me bored. I like this author too and her previous work I have always enjoyed but this one I just couldn't get into. The characters were just not doing it for me and neither was the plot.
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4.5 stars! Thank you netgalley and the publisher for my digital arc of PLEASE JOIN US  in exchange for an honest review. This book publishes Tuesday, August 23! 
My first CM book and it won’t be my last! I loved this one and thought it was so clever! Basically the corporate version of a cult, run by women who want to get revenge on men! There is lots of lawyer talk, power struggles, lying, secrets, deceit, and a fakes murder! I was hooked from beginning to end. The end was so satisfying- Nicole (female MC), did such a great job, despite being a pawn in the game, and then the target. I highly recommend this one!
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Please Join Us is an intelligently written book about a group of women ostensibly gathered together to collaborate in an attempt to usurp the "old boy's network".  

When litigator Nicole is invited to join Panthera Leo at an expensive retreat where women come together to do bonding exercises, I totally got "The Hunt" vibes.  Not being a person who could be thrown into the wilderness and survive, I really felt for the characters. I'm pretty sure my jaw was tense as I read about the trials they went through.

As the book progresses, Nicole sees what the group has been trying to teach her - connections and powerful networks are the key to success.  As one of the characters remarks, you like to think you get ahead on your own merits, but really how far can you go before needing connections before being passed over for someone who does? But what is the price for their loyalty? 

I love how McKenzie takes us through Nicole's thought process as she begins to unravel the secrets of Panthera Leo.  Although all of the characters were flawed, I was rooting for Nicole one hundred percent!

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for another great Catherine McKenzie thriller!
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First, let’s talk about what keywords led me to be interested in this book

From the synopsis, I was expecting an easy 5-star thriller. However, that isn’t entirely what I got. The beginning of the book is a pretty straightforward mystery. You know what happens and then have to backtrack to figure out how the women ended up where they are. It was very bingeable and I was entertained, but I also found myself just waiting to get to the “good part” (solving the mystery). Halfway through the book, things start to come together and I was really enjoying it! The pacing was excellent and I was getting what I wanted. However, the ending really lost it for me. As I mentioned, the book is pretty straight forward for 90% and then the last 10% took readers on wayyyyyy too many twists and turns in too short of a time. I was no longer interested and found myself getting confused on what the truth really was because so much happened in a span of a chapter or two. 

Overall, the story was good but I found the synopsis to be a bit misleading. I don’t feel I wasted my time reading but also am not convinced to read any of this author’s backlist. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria books for the free e-arc in exchange for an honest review!
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Atria Books for gifting me a digital ARC of the latest legal thriller by Catherine McKenzie - 4.5 stars rounded up!

Nicole works as an attorney, but has been warned by her boss that she isn't meeting the firm's expectations and her career is on the ropes.  Her home life is difficult too - her and her husband, Dan, live in a wonderful NYC apartment that belonged to Dan's aunt, who promised to let them buy it when she dies.  So when Nicole receives an email inviting her to join an exclusive women's empowerment/networking group, she puts Dan's objections behind her and joins the group, known as Panthera Leo, at a retreat in Colorado.  There she is pushed to confront her fears and become her best self - a new woman in a man's world.  When she returns home, she starts reaping the promised dividends - both her work and home lives improve.  Until the night she is called upon to help one of the other member's do something she could never have dreamed of.

What a quick paced, smart book - I loved it!  This story is told from the past, where we see Nicole's struggles and involvement in the group, and the present, where she is called upon to help another member.  From there, it gets moving quickly and you'll need to buckle up for all the twists and turns.  I really liked the cult-type aspect of this group and exploring how easy it is to control and manipulate people and their actions under the guise of self-improvement.  It's obvious that McKenzie, a former attorney, knows her way around the legal world - obviously a boy's club, which brings up the other theme in this book, #MeToo.  A great read!
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I have to admit that when I requested this ARC, I did it more for the author than realizing the plot. Since receiving it, I have read a good number of recent releases involving cults and secret societies and overall that sub-genre is not working for me. If it really was about a networking group to take down the "good ol' boys club", I probably would have enjoyed it more - but the practices and lengths that Panthera goes to was unbelievable, uninteresting and confusing. Nicole, the main character, an attorney struggling in most aspects of her life, wasn't particularly likable so that didn't help either. With all that said, it was ok- it kept me turning the pages as I did want to see how it played out. If you like cult/secret society type mysteries, you will probably love it. Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Please Join Us will be available on 8/23/22.
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I went into this book excited to reading about woman’s club to rival the “good old boys clubs” but overall this book fell flat.  I would not consider this a thriller but it was a mystery.  While I enjoyed the very beginning and end of the book, I felt that the overall pace of the book was to slow and drawn out.  I didn’t connect with any of the characters and I got to the point that I just want to find out the twist to conclude the book.  I pushed through and found that the few twists that were in the book was predictable, underwhelming, and unbelievable. 

***** Many thanks to Atria, Catherine McKenzie, and NetGalley for the gifted copy as it was provided to me in turn for my honest opinion.

This review will be posted to instagram (thriller_book_sisters) on 8/22/22.
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Nicole Mueller may be a brilliant lawyer but that doesn't seem to be enough for her money-hungry firm.  According to her boss, she isn't living up to expectations, and if she doesn't turn things around soon, she will be looking for employment elsewhere.  So when Nicole gets an  invitation from an exclusive women’s networking group, promising professional success, Nicole jumps at the chance.  She goes to their retreat eager to learn more, and at the end of the retreat, she is fully on=board.  Nicole is officially a member of Panthera Leo.  The women she meet are impressive:  a CEO,  a congresswoman, an actress, and more.  The group’s core philosophy is simple - : they’re a girl’s club in a boy’s club world.  The women do whatever they can to help each other achieve their goals, and you must always do what is asked of you.  In return, you can achieve whatever your heart desires.    Nicole & her husband get leased a beautiful new apartment when they have to move out of their old one, and she lands a couple of large cases that elevate her status in the firm and put her on more secure footing with her boss.  In return the favors she has to grant seem innocuous.... at least at first.  But then she’s called to the congresswoman’s apartment late at night where she’s pressed into helping her cover up a crime.  Can Nicole extricate herself from the group before it’s too late? Or will joining Panthera Leo be the biggest mistake of her life?
I could not put this book down.  It was told in alternating chapters between past (when she first became a member) and present ( when she was called to the congresswoman's apartment.  The stories move forward from there until the two collide.  There are several twists and turns, and one I was really not expecting towards the end that really threw me for a loop.  I loved the whole "stick it to the patriarchy" and women fighting for and taking care of other women theme.    If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller with a strong female protagonist  then this is the perfect book for you.
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I don't think I've ever read anything like this book.

Nicole receives an offer to join a secret women's society that promises to help elevate women in their fields by playing the same games the men play. The group is full of quid pro quos but one night Nicole has to help hide a dead body and now she knows things have gone too far. How will she get out of this mess now?

I flew through this book, not gonna lie. Getting into the minds of powerful women who want to take over the world was so fascinating. The intricacy of the characters and plot was astounding. The way things were fitting together by the end was 🤌🏻

My only big complaint about the novel is that some of the characters fell flat. I knew by the end how everything fit together by during the novel I was wondering wtf the point was whenever some characters were talking.

If you want an interesting, women empowered thriller, go get this book. PLEASE JOIN US is available Tuesday.

Thank you to @netgalley for my free e-copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was awesome! Nicole is a lawyer who is struggling with her job when she's invited to join a women's networking group at a getaway in Colorado in July. She tells her husband, who jokes that she's joining a cult. She laughs it off but feels uneasy, and tells herself to shake it off and show up anyway. She does and ends up bonding with her Pride and joining the group. Things plug along til one night in October her phone goes off at 2 am and it's a member of her Pride who needs help immediately - she had been on a date and her date attacked her and she may have killed him. Her Pride leader is telling her to GO - so go she must - but what is going on?? Nicole is not going to stop until she gets some ANSWERS and we are along for the ride at a breakneck speed and man, what a hell of a ride it is!
I LOVED this book. This is not my first book my McKenzie and it definitely won't be my last. McKenzie knows how to write a good thriller - they grab you by the throat and keep you racing through trying to find out what the hell is going on. I didn't want to put this book down at all and resented the fact that I needed to cook (but I mean, let's be real, I always resent having to cook. So we'll say more than usual). I really hoped that the ending didn't let me down and for once it did not. I was very pleased by it. Definitely a 5 star read and McKenzie has cemented her place in my must read thriller authors list. Brava!
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Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for the novel.  Nicole, a successful lawyer had her life change when her rating is low and will cause her pay to decrease as well.  She joins a group to improve her work status.  Seems easy enough, right?   Well, read the book to find out more.  The pacing was good.  Catherine McKenzie normally writes her books with a great amount of storyline before the novel gets started but I am used to it with her novels so it made it okay to read.   The book was a good read.
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Please Join Us is about a group of successful women who have a secret club to help each other out in the business world.   You have to be invited to join.   Who wouldn't want to get ahead in their jobs?   Who wouldn't want a group of women who are there and have your back no matter what?   But at what cost?!!   Nicole, a struggling lawyer will soon find out!   So many twists in this book, you will love it!
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Billed as a thriller, this is, to me, in a good way, more of a book about female empowerment and about women fighting back against the male-dominated corporate world. Very easy to read, the story flowed along well. A bit of suspension of belief at one point but the main character’s desperation worked to explain it. The plot is interesting and has a good twist near the end. Raises good questions about morality, power imbalances between men and women in the workplace, justice and revenge. I liked the main character and telling the story from her point of view worked well to help the reader understand her perspective and motivations. I am loving the novels about female empowerment that have come out this year!

Thanks to Atria Books and Netgalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie is a fun ride. It’s a different type of cult book, which I’ve been obsessed with lately. I liked Nicole and felt her desperation coming off the pages. I believe that’s why I was so willing to accept that she got sucked into this situation. There were times when I realized everyone was pretty much 3 steps ahead of me and I appreciated the cunning and wit. Fast paced with chapters that never felt too long made Please Join Us very enjoyable.
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Please Join Us
by: Catherine McKenzie
Atria Books
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Pub date: 8/23/22

Thirty-nine-year-old Nicole signs up for a Colorado retreat with other professionals, hoping to boost her career. She becomes a member of a Pride with other women. Things get very twisty after she returns home. Fans of mystery and thriller genre will gravitate to this book, which satisfies with an original plot and lots of suspense.

Thank you to Net Galley and Atria Books for the advance reader's copy and opportunity to provide my unbiased review.
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Based on a woman’s ambition and desire to turn her crumbling career around, Please Join Us finds Nicole Mueller between a rock and a hard place. On the verge of losing the career she dedicated her life to and moving out of the apartment she and her husband loved, Nicole gets a mysterious invitation to a women’s networking group, Panthera Leo, at just the right moment.

The book began with Nicole responding to a murder in a fellow Panthera member’s apartment in the middle of the night and then flipped back and forth to the past when her involvement with the group began.

From the moment that the invite conveniently arrived in her inbox, there were so many red flags and I was a little surprised that Nicole just jumped in and booked a 5-day getaway immediately. Even if she was curious, that seemed highly unlikely when she never even took a day off of work. The least she could’ve done, in my opinion, was to sit on it for a few days.

I loved the premise and could completely see the allure of joining a group like this. It’s disheartening to work so hard for so long only to realize that, at the end of the day, your success and reaching the next level will always depend on others who don’t want you there. Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter how hard you work. This was a great story depicting both sides of female empowerment and ambition. I loved that while the focus was on all female characters, there were so many shades of gray and none of them was all good or all bad.

If you’re looking for a similar read, Please Join Us reminded me a lot of another recent release – I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown which also centers on a cult-like group boasting female empowerment.
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I struggled with this one as it was so slow.  Took until over half way for anything to happen.  Other than that it was a good story.
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