Book Review: The Marriage Pact (Michelle Richmond) @michellerichmon @randomhouse

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When newlyweds, Alex and Jake, receive a wedding gift that invites them into an exclusive and mysterious group for married couples, they are flattered.   The goal of The Pact is simple.  Keep marriages happy and intact.  Seduced by the glamorous parties and sense of community, they embrace The Pact.  They are given a manual with all the rules, one being: don’t mention The Pact to anyone.   As Alice and Jake try to adhere by their rules, they realize how much different The Pact is and how dangerous The Pact can be.

I love any book that has a cult vibe, so when I discovered The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond it immediately moved to the top of my TBR pile.  I loved how this one took the domestic suspense genre and gave it a twist.   I was so glad to read something where the conflict lies not between the married but couple, but instead, the married couple against the world.   It really was like married people Fight Club.

Richmond is able to create two incredibly likeable characters in Jake and Alice.  They complement each nicely and were very realistic.  She also was able to create such a well put together and fast paced plot.  I was engaged throughout and was continuously worried about Jake and Alice as they navigated their way through The Pact.   Truly, at times, it became super creepy!   I couldn’t believe the lengths that the members were willing to go.  I read this one as a buddy read with Danielle from The Blonde Likes Books and we were continuously messaging each other with our worries.

I did feel like the ending was a random and kind of out in left field for me, especially in regards to the general tone of the book.

Overall, even with the random ending, I loved this book and would highly recommend it!!

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

This one was a #cjsreads pick for July; keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one!

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Book Review: Watch Me Disappear (Janelle Brown) @janelleb @randomhouse

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 10.19.30 AM.pngI have never read a Janelle Brown book before but I am always eager to try a new author; so, when #cjsreads chose Watch Me Disappear for one of our July titles, I was pumped.

The book opens just about a year after Olive’s mother, Billie, has gone missing during a hiking trip.  Now presumed dead, Olive’s father, Jonathan, is in a legal battle in order to declare Billie dead and Olive is trying to get her life back in order.  However, Olive begins to see her mother.  First thinking it is a hallucination and then wondering if it is a sign, Olive shares her experiences with her father and they both, in their own way, begin to dig into Billie’s life.  While looking for the truth, secrets come to light, leaving both reeling.

My first thought once I finished reading was that this book was not marketed correctly; I didn’t find this one fit into the mystery/thriller genre.  I would have deemed it contemporary fiction.    Going in, I was expecting a fast paced, psychological type thriller and instead, I found this to be more of a slower read.  Even with this, I did feel like it was actually paced quite well.   Brown is able to string her reader along and keep them captivated.  I found myself completely engrossed with the actual plot.

Narrated through alternating perspectives by Jonathan and Olive, Brown weaves a tale of deception and grief.  I was captivated throughout the chapters; especially interested in the chapters highlighting Jonathan’s novel (he is writing a memoir about the time spent with his wife) and his struggle for answers.

The book has a very strong, sort of metaphysical aspect that I thought was really interesting.  Throughout, it remains very unclear whether or not Olive is truly experiencing something more parapsychological or if she is truly working through the grieving process.    I really like the ambiguity of this fact and it propelled me to continue reading.

My one real issue with the text was the characters themselves.  I didn’t feel particularly attached to anyone.  It could have gone either way for me; Billie could have been alive, she could have been dead.  It really made no difference to me.  I wish the author had spent more time developing the character relationships so I could have been more invested.

Another bone I have to pick with this book regards the ending.  I was SO MAD when I read the final pages.  As soon as I finished I sent a caps locked rage filled e-mail off to everyone I knew had read the book.  I was RILED up.

Regardless of my general feelings about the end, I felt like this was a stellar read.   I think that readers who enjoy a family drama or a piece of contemporary fiction will devour this one.  However, if you are looking for a fast paced thrill ride, you would be disappointed.  I gave this one a 3.5/5 stars.

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

Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica had to say about Watch Me Disappear!

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Book Review: Devil’s Call (J. Danielle Dorn) @Inkshares @jdanielledorn

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 2.07.21 PM.pngI am going to open this review by being brutally honest.

When I received this book for our July #cjsreads titles, I almost added it automatically to my DNF pile. I don’t do Westerns and I don’t (usually) read historical fiction, let alone fantastical historical fiction; this book was set in the iconic American frontier on the eve of the Civil War and had to do with witches.   However, I decided to read the first chapter (to say that I tried) and, I must say, shame on me for judging this book!

Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn ended up surprising me!

From the first few pages, I was hooked as I followed Li Lian, a woman in a long line of witches who goes on to avenge her husband’s murder. Dorn brilliantly drew me in with the narrative style (told sort of diary style by our protagonist) and held on to me tight! I found this one incredibly entertaining.

I do think that this title was slightly mismarketed as a horror novel; I didn’t find anything about this one particularly scary. It really was more like occult fiction. Also, do not be thrown off by the Western aspect of this novel, I promise it is not overwhelming or distracting.

Overall, this novel surprised me greatly and that is not easy to do when you read as much as I do! I give this one 3.5/5 stars.

Thanks to the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of Devil’s Call.

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Book Review: The Secrets She Keeps (Michael Robotham) @michaelrobotham @ScribnerBooks

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I was incredibly excited when #cjsreads decided to make The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham a July pick; I had heard nothing but amazing things about this novel.  Now that I have finished reading it for myself, I’d have to agree.  This book is worth all the hype.

Agatha, eight months pregnant, lives her mundane life admiring Meghan, one of the mums she sees out and about.  Meghan has it all: a baby on the way, two other adorable children, a loving husband, a beautiful house and a blog that Agatha reads each night.  Both women, due around the same time, have their own web of dark secrets and when Agatha finally musters enough courage to speak to Meghan, it sets into motion a series of events that cannot be undone.

Told between alternating perspectives between two pregnant women (Agatha and Meghan), Robotham weaves a tale of deception, desperation and desire.

Initially, I felt as if this book was going to read like a thousand others I had read before.  I wasn’t 100% sure where the author was going to go with the story but I knew it had a similar dark vibe from some others I had read recently (for example, like Watching Edie).  However, after the first few chapters, I knew this would be completely different and, needless to say, I was hooked.   Fast paced plot with complex characters had me racing through the chapters.   I, in part, was turning the pages faster and faster because I wanted to see what would happen and the other part of me needed to take frequent breaks because the pages were becoming too intense!

Overall, if you like a psychological thriller that is INTENSE and will keep you turning the pages late into the night, then you will want to read The Secrets She Keeps.  I have read almost 200 books this year and this one is at the top.

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

As mentioned, this one was a #cjsreads pick for July!  So, keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica thought of The Secrets She Keeps.

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Book Review: Bring Her Home (David Bell) @DavidBellNovels ‏@BerkleyPub

 

Bring Her HomeI read a lot of mystery and thriller books (obviously!) so, when I come across one that impresses me, I feel like shouting from the rooftops.   Bring Her Home, by David Bell, was one of those books that made me want to shout.  Fast paced and entertaining, I found myself completely invested to our protagonist and his struggles.

The novel opens with Bill, a widower, facing every father’s worst nightmare.  His fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer is missing (along with her best friend, Haley).  Days later, the girls are found in the park.  Haley is dead on the scene and Summer is badly beaten.   Bill is left begging his daughter to fight for her life but also begins to wonder if he knows his daughter at all.   As Bill searches for the truth, he discovers more than what he thought.

Instead of going for the gusto, Bell opens subtly and slowly draws his reader in.  I felt instantly intrigued.    From the first pages, Bell does a superb job at setting up lots of questions for the reader to continuously ask.  I really loved this; when I read, I love to be active in my thought process trying to figure out the plot and where the author plans on going.

One of the other things I enjoyed was the plethora of twists in the middle of the novel.  Especially since I am completely tired of the big, shocking, one moment twists that so many thrillers have these days.   I felt like this made the story even more eerie and ominous because it felt so real; this truly could have been a story that could happen to anyone.

As for characterization, I felt like Bill was relatable and the story felt very real; I really appreciated that!

I was able to guess pretty early on parts of the resolution of the novel but Bell did bring in some complex details that I would never have guessed that amped up the ending for me.

Overall, I feel like fans of the “feels real” thriller will enjoy this novel; think authors like Mary Kubica.  I absolutely relished in this one.  4/5 stars from me!

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

This one was also a #cjsreads title for July, keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica had to say about this one!

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Book Review: Do Not Become Alarmed (Maile Meloy)

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Do Not Become Alarmed, the newest release by Maile Meloy, follows a family that meets devastation when their children disappear while on a cruise in Central America.   I started this book as a buddy read with Janel from Keeper of Pages; we have been wanting to do a buddy read for a while and, when I won this book from Goodreads and it was coming up in Janel’s TBR pile, it was the perfect opportunity to get it done!

It isn’t often that I discuss a book I absolutely hated on Clues and Reviews but I am disappointed to say that this book left me completely underwhelmed.   This is not to say that others would not enjoy this one, but I was clearly not the correct reader for this one!

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Book Review: Don’t Close Your Eyes (Holly Seddon)

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 7.16.59 PM.pngDon’t Close Your Eyes, the sophomore novel by Holly Seddon, was a book I was very much looking forward to.  Twin sisters, torn apart by a family secret, are driven back together after one is forced to leave her family and the other is struggling to face her past demons.

There were lots of things I loved about this book; it has extremely short chapters moving back and forth between time periods and narrators.  Both twins get their POVs shown and I felt like this type of narration made the text very dynamic.  I was absolutely glued trying to figure out their individual MO’s and where their stories would intertwine.    I really liked the complex characterization in this one; filled with a twisted family dynamic, I loved watching them interact.

However, my major complaint was that I felt this book was mismarketed.  I wouldn’t categorize this as a mystery, psychological suspense or a thriller.  I would say it is contemporary fiction.  Was it well written?  Absolutely.  Did I feel compelled to finish the book?  Absolutely. Was it what I was expecting, or for that matter, anywhere close to what I was expecting?  No.   Aside from one moment in the text, right near the end, I did not find there to be any shocks or twists.

If you are looking for a psychological thriller to leave you breathless, this will not be the one for you.  However, if you enjoy a character driven narrative that is well written and intriguing, then this may be the perfect pick for you.  I, for one, gave this a 2.5/5 stars.

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

#cjsreads read this as one of our first July titles; keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one.

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Book Review: Part of the Silence (Debbie Howells)

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I had never read a novel by Debbie Howells before, so, when #cjsreads decided to add this novel to our June line up, I was excited to dive into the work of an unfamiliar author.   Part of the Silence had a beautiful cover and an intriguing synopsis involving a woman (Evie Sherman), with no recollection of whom she is, left for dead in a field and a daughter that she insists she has; however, there is no evidence of the girl’s existence. As Evie goes deeper into her own mind and her obsession with “a daughter” intensifies, she must figure out whom she can trust and how she can protect the child she knows exists.

In the first few chapters, I was really interested to see who these characters were and how the plot would develop; it opens so vaguely that I was grabbed instantly. Though, as I continued reading, one of the things I struggled with about this novel was the predictability and the actual characterization.

The novel is told through multiple perspectives; for the most part, the plot is described through the eyes of Charlotte (a local woman who knows Evie Sherman) from her high school years. Jack, the police detective on the case, and, finally, a few chapters by Evie, narrates the remaining chapters.   There are also random entries from a diary of a girl named Casey. I did like the multi-perspective narration; I am always a fan of different character views.  However, I didn’t really care about what any of these characters had to say. I found the Evie (sometimes known as Jen) character a little whiney, I found Jack to be randomly placed in the plot and I found Charlotte to be obviously off base.   These characters one-dimensional attitude gave a lot of predictability to the plot and I found myself easily able to figure this one out within the first 50 pages.

For someone who is new to the thriller genre, this would be an entertaining read. However, for someone more familiar with the genre, this one plays out like the same song and dance.

I gave this one a 2/5 stars.

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

As I mentioned, #cjsreads read this title as one of our June titles; keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought about Part of the Silence.

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Book Review: Every Last Lie (Mary Kubica) @MaryKubica

Every Last Lie.pngMary Kubica is one of my auto buy authors; everything she publishes, I read and enjoy so I was thrilled when I discovered she had a novel being published this month!

Known for her psychological thrillers, Every Last Lie, follows the life of Clara Solberg after her world is shattered; her husband, Nick, is killed in a car crash with their daughter in the car. Their daughter remarkably unharmed and the crash ruled an accident, Clara cannot help but question what happened. Tormented by grief and obsessed with Nick’s death, Clara is desperate for the truth. Who could have wanted Nick dead? Why were they after him? Who is the “bad man” that their daughter continuously refers to?

The narrative is divided in true Kubica fashion through multiple viewpoints. Clara, as she desperately hunts for answers and Nick, told through his last months before the crash.  Unlike her previous novels, I felt like this one really delved into the characters and developed them.   I had so many ideas throughout this reading. I continuously was guessing, changing my mind and adding new theories into the mix.  Did Nick have an affair? Was he attacked? Did Clara have anything to do with this? Did he fake his own death? Is this a dream? Is Clara in a psych ward? I was constantly frustrated, and entertained, as Kubica weaved the plot

I think my favourite thing about a Kubica novel is the fact that her narratives are never outlandish or far-fetched. The eeriness surrounding the plots is because they are so simple. They are truly something that could happen to anyone.

This is absolutely not a traditional thriller, this is not a rollercoaster ride with red herrings and doom around every corner, and it will not be for every reader, however, if you like a book that is eerily realistic that will keep you guessing, Every Last Lie is a brilliant choice! I gave it 5/5 stars.

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