Blog Tour: The Marriage Pact (Michelle Richmond) @michellerichmon @MichaelJBooks

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 9.36.36 PMEarlier this year, my friends at Penguin Random House UK approached me to take part in an experiential blog tour; they said they wanted to do something with a bit of a twist and I was sold! I am always up for trying some new content on Clues and Reviews. So, when I found out that the tour had to do with the psychological thriller, The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond, I was thrilled. I read this creepy, cult thriller last year and I really loved it (if you missed it, you can check out my review for that one HERE).

The rules of the experiment were simple: I was to take part in the marriage “contract” featured in The Marriage Pact; the one that wreaks havoc on the lives of the protagonists as they go deeper and deeper into this strange marriage cult.  Since I am a newlywed, I figured, why the heck not? Might as well stretch my marriage wings.   So, for two weeks, I lived by the rules and tracked whether or not it impacted my relationship and then reflected on whether or not I would be willing to sign a contract like this one in real life. I did not let my husband know I was partaking in this experiment until the second week since I didn’t think he would really get what I was even talking about. When I finally told him, I was right.

The rules I followed were as such:

1)      Always answer when your partner calls

2)      Exchange at least two thoughtful gifts every month

3)      Cook your partner dinner twice a week

4)      Unfollow your ex on social media

5)      Never spend more than two nights apart

6)      Tell your partner all your passwords

7)      Only wear clothes your partner deems attractive or appropriate.

8)      Enable the ‘find my phone’ feature so your partner always knows where you are

9)      Have no secrets from each other (and confess any old ones!)

10)   Don’t even think about trying to escape…

Care to see how my challenge turned out? Keep reading to see my experience following the contract from The Marriage Pact!

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Netgalley Update: Part 1- February Releases

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 5.43.21 PMFor me, January is the month where I flounder like a fish out water as I desperately try to organize my life.  January seemed to last an absolute lifetime and I did indeed spend it aimlessly wandering, trying to get myself back on track.  Yikes…

But, now that February is here, I am ready to make myself accountable and figure out Mount TBR!

One of my main goals for February is to try and get my Netgalley stack under control.  I feel like I request all these books in moments of weakness (aka after reading all my favourite book blogs and developing serious FOMO) and then BAM all are approved at exactly the same time.  OOPS!

So, here are all the books I currently have on my Netgalley shelf releasing in February.  Are any of these books that you have read?  Anything catch your eye?  Anything on your TBR shelf that we can buddy read?!

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Library Loves: My Most Recent Library Haul

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 7.15.36 AMOne thought that I find myself thinking often is “I never have anything to read”

I am clearly delusional.

I have stacks upon stacks of unread books pretty much everywhere in my home but, much to the dismay of my husband, I still make my (pretty much daily) trek to the library to pick up my holds.  I just don’t want to miss out on anything! Oops!

Last week, I went to the library to find that THIRTEEN of my holds had all come in at the same time.  Oops again.

Check out what I picked up at the library and please help me make my decision.  Do I need to read all of these?  Anything I can shelf for later?  Anything you really enjoyed?  Anything you hated?

Help a girl out!

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Book Review: Into the Black Nowhere (Meg Gardiner) @DuttonBooks @MegGardiner1

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 6.39.04 PM.pngLast year, I was completely obsessed with Unsub, the start of a new series by Meg Gardiner that featured FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix. Heart pounding, dark and visceral, Unsub had me holding on to the edge of my seat and screaming for more. So, of course, I was extremely excited when I found out that the second book in the series, Into the Black Nowhere, would be publishing in January 2018!

Now, without giving away any plot points or information (because I absolutely consider Unsub to be a MUST READ), Unsub left off with quite a few open-ended questions and with a bit of a cliffhanger ending so I was desperate to read the next book. WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN??! I NEEDED ANSWERS! I dove into the book and, I am going to say, Into the Black Nowhere left me feeling a little bit disappointed.

It was absolutely not the writing style; Gardiner’s prose is just as smart and fast paced as I have come to know and love. The book was brilliantly written and filled with witty, smart banter between police, excellent character development and a game of cat and mouse between protagonist and antagonist that kept me turning the pages.

This novel doesn’t really touch on any of the questions I had from the first novel; skimming over the issue, the characters jump right into a new case and move quickly away from the events from the first novel. While I understand that this is an excellent tactic for a sophomore novel in a series (it keeps the readership going and pushes the issues into further novels), I really was looking forward to having some answers!!

Also, notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy, inspires this novel’s antagonist. I am not sure whether or not it was because I knew much more about Ted Bundy than I knew about the Zodiac killer (which is the antagonist that inspired Unsub), but I felt like I wasn’t surprised by anything he did. I knew his MO and I knew the general direction the story would take (I knew he would likely escape police custody, I knew he would likely attack a sorority).

Regardless of this, I really did love the novel for its entertainment value and I will be anxiously awaiting the third novel!

4/5 stars.

Thanks to the author, the publisher for a copy of Into the Black Nowhere; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Jessica and Chandra obviously loved this one too!  Keep reading to read their reviews of Meg Gardiner’s Into the Black Nowhere.

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Book Review: The Hazel Wood (Melissa Albert) @Flatironbooks @mimi_albert

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 6.49.17 PM.pngWhile I don’t read much YA, there is something that I am a complete sucker for- fairy tales.  I love everything about them: the love stories, the wicked villains and the magical realism.  So, when #cjsreads discussed adding The Hazel Wood, the fantasy, twisted fairy tale novel by Melissa Albert, to our January choices, I knew I needed this book in my life.

The novel follows Alice, a seventeen-year girl who is no stranger to life on the road, and her mother Ella.  When Alice’s grandmother, a famous novelist and author of the cult classic book of dark fairy tales (The Hinterland), passes away, Alice is drawn to the Hazel Wood (her grandmother’s reclusive home) in search of her mother.   To retrieve her mother, Alice enlists the help of Hinterland super fan Ellery Finch to navigate this cruel, supernatural world that Alice’s grandmother created.

Now, like I said The Hazel Wood is much different from what I normally am drawn to but I was really intrigued by the synopsis.  I loved the concept and the characters.   By the time I was finished the first chapter I was completely hooked.  I sucked into this strange, dark world and, during the first half of the book, I found myself desperate to navigate this story.   Almost like an allegorical quest story, I rooted for Alice.   I felt like Albert’s prose was beautiful; there is no doubt that this novel is well written.

One feature of the novel I enjoyed the most was how dark it was.   The bits and pieces of the fairy tale stories that were revealed had me so intrigued.  I wish there was a companion piece to this novel where I could read every story from The Hinterland!  I would love that: hint, hint Melissa Albert!

I don’t want to give anything away, but I did find that I got a little bit lost during the second half of the novel.  It sort of start blending genre lines and moving more into a sci-fi, fantasy, magical type of text that I struggled to navigate.  However, I did feel like this ended in an interesting twist, which I appreciated.

Overall, an intriguing, dark story that will start a discussion!  If you want a novel that will push you out of your comfort zone, pick up The Hazel Wood, you will not regret reading this phenomenally written story.

Thanks to the publisher,  the author and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

#cjsreads read this as one of our January picks.  Want to see what Chandra and Jessica thought?  Keep reading to find out!

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Blog Blitz: Past Echoes (Graham Smith) @BLOODHOUNDBOOK @GRAHAMSMITH1972

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 9.09.12 AM.pngAfter reading the previous novels in the Jake Boulder series by Graham Smith (Watching the Bodies and Kindred Killers), I was thrilled to be able to read the third book, Past Echoes, as part of the blog tour for Bloodhound Books! Both of the previous novels were fast-paced, suspenseful, action-packed and led by brooding protagonist, Jake Boulder.   Used to his drunken shenanigans and sarcastic banter, I was pleased that this novel showed us the softer, more personal side of Jake Boulder as he collides with a dead woman’s secret, his estranged father and a professional assassin.

So, first thing is first, I highly recommend reading the other two novels in the series before diving into this one. Not only are they fantastic bits of literature, but the storyline in this one directly ties into plot points from the first novels. I think it would be a little hard to follow without having that background knowledge.

I won’t go too much into the plot but there is one thing that I have said before, and I’ll say it again. I find Graham Smith’s writing to be unique like the work of Karin Slaughter. His prose is completely purposeful and done with taste; all of his graphic scenes add so much to the tone and nature of the text without being overdone or offensive.  I found this to be true in Past Echoes, from shootouts to car chases, Smith lays down the action without it feeling distracting.

Overall, I found this instalment in the Jake Boulder series to be a little less action packed the prior two but I did appreciate the softer side of Boulder (mind you, he is no spring chick but more like a shark with half of it’s teeth removed- still a little bit scary but not as vicious!)

If you have not picked up this series yet, I would highly recommend adding it to your TBR pile. It does not disappoint!

Thanks to Bloodhound Books and the author, Graham Smith, for a copy of this novel.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review!

Be sure to visit the other stops on the Past Echoes Blog Blitz!

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Book Review: Keep Her Safe (K.A Tucker) @kathleenatucker @SimonSchusterCA

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Ever since I read my first KA Tucker novel (which happened to be the psychological suspense He Will Be My Ruin), I have been obsessed with her writing style.  Her addictive prose, realistic characters and storylines always have me on the edge of my seat and completely entertained.   So, I was thrilled when Keep Her Safe, her newest publication came out last week!

The perfect blend of romantic suspense and fast paced thriller, Keep Her Safe follows Noah Marshall, son of a police chief whose life is rocked when his mother passes away leaving him with the skeletons in her closet and a job to do.  Meanwhile, Gracie is busy trying to survive and care for her drug-addicted mother and the ghost of her father.  As their paths cross, they realize they are trying to solve a common puzzle and soon, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department.

Now, don’t be deterred by the romantic suspense aspect of this novel.  It is not overbearing or cringe worthy cheesy, instead, Tucker is able to combine gritty, police procedural components with a few “feel good” elements of a romance to create more of JD Robb or Karen Rose type vibe.  And, if I am being completely truthful, I was more drawn into the budding romance of our protagonists than that of the actual case.  Tucker did a brilliant job at developing such complex and damaged characters; I was desperate for them to succeed.

As the novel develops, Tucker delivers a plethora of twists and turns and I found myself glued to my seat.  There were several moments that were unexpected for me, including the resolution. The final twist at the end came completely out of left field!

Described as Making a Murderer meets ScandalKeep Her Safe packs just the right amount of punch!  I feel like crime fiction fans and fans of the new adult genre (think Colleen Hoover) will really enjoy this novel, I know I did!

Thanks to the author, the publisher and Netgalley; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review

Chandra and Jessica gave this one a read as well; want to check out what they thought about Keep Her Safe? Keep reading to find out!

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