ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

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Release Date: July 25, 2017

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion whatsoever.

 

NetGalley Synopsis

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
  
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
           
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
           
And then one of them breaks the rules.
           
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
           
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.”

My Review

Marriage. It’s a chilling subject for me these days. Reaching the age where most of your friends are running off, getting married, having kids is frightening to me. This book did not settle my inner fears in the least. In fact, they increased!

Jeremy and Alice are in their late 30s, successful, and have somewhat good heads on their shoulders. Told through Jeremy’s perspective, he admits in the beginning that the subject of marriage was his idea. Alice, mourning the loss of her father, sparked one of the most important questions any man/woman/etc. could ever ask someone. “Will you marry Me?”

The moment Alice agrees, a chain of events begin starting with their wedding announcement. Alice’s best client in her firm, Finnegan, receives word of the couple’s plans and invites Jeremy and Alice to join him in the secret society known as, “The Pact”. A wooden box arrives on their doorstep with instructions to which they are prohibited to open the box until after their honeymoon. Fast forward, one of Finnegan’s contacts the leaders of “The Pact” and they send a woman by the name of Vivianne to be the couple’s “Host” as she leads Jeremy and Alice into the society.

“The Pact” in it of itself has their own manual the couples need to memorize and live by. If they break the rules, they receive various punishments ranging from silly to severe. And when I say severe, I mean torture, electric shock, unremovable metal braces placed around women’s necks in order to keep them straight, and more. Jeremy and Alice start their journey into this cult, plunging themselves into a world filled with terror and nowhere to run and no way out.

This novel freaked me out in the worst way. If you follow me on Goodreads, read my notes on the book! One moment, I believed Jeremy was falling for the insane punishments “The Pact” was putting his wife through. Then it was as if Alice and Jeremy switched personalities pertaining to the cult! The ending, though, did not live up to the expectations of the novel. It felt rushed and dry, leaving me to wonder what happened to Alice and Jeremy next. As far as I know, this is a standalone novel so I guess we’ll all wonder if they survive……

For a psychological thriller, it’ll keep you on your toes for sure. The writing is solid, but the characters backstories were a bit wonky at times. One moment, you are giving the impression you needed to feel sorry for them while the next you were told they were independent. But, learning from this novel, never accept a wooden box from an Irishman who claims to want the best for your marriage.

 

Rating 7

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

 

 

ARC Reviews: The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah

ARC Reviews: The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from SheSpeaks. This does not affect my review whatsoever.

 

Goodreads Synopsis

“Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.”

 

WWII was a dark time in the world’s history. Masses of lives ended, families torn apart, and evil reared its ugly head to destroy unity and the lives of millions of people around the world. This book takes those events and grabs readers by the hands to take them back in time to the dark events of the past.

It is a tale of two sisters, Vianne and Isabella, set in France at the beginning pressures of the war. They begin enjoying their own lives when they are suddenly turned upside down. Where the women began in the beginning is certainly nowhere compared to where they ended up in the end.

The author brings the reality and rawness which only tragedy, casualties, and constant war can bring from life to the page. It will bring tears to your eyes, as it did my own, and it will leave a scar which no literary medicine will remedy. It’s not just a tale of history, but of growth, perseverance, and struggles. Definitely a recommended historical read, to be sure!

 

Rating 9

 

Happy Reading!

 

~C.C.

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

 

Goodreads Description

How do you live with yourself when you decide who dies?

Ava Parks would have killed for an iPod for her sixteenth birthday. Anything would have been better than coming into her birthright of being a seeker for the Grim Reaper, an arrangement made by her fallen angel ancestor in exchange for his re-admittance to heaven. And she isn’t just any seeker—she finds souls that have the potential for becoming angels and sentences them to death. A year and two souls into her role as a seeker with her conscience overflowing with guilt, Ava comes up with a plan to thwart the system. When it goes awry, she is forced to submit the name of a classmate, Cole Fowler, an ornery, rough around the edges guy who always seems to come to her rescue, whether she likes it or not. Her feelings for Cole prompt her to intervene, and she saves him from death, upsetting the Grim Reaper’s agenda.

While Ava schemes to find a way to save Cole, she learns he has some secrets of his own. She lets him believe he is protecting her, and not the other way around, until a final showdown with the Grim Reaper forces Ava to make choices Cole may never forgive.”

 

Author Jessica Ruddick gives us a different take on the normal Grim Reaper story. Normally, we are led to believe the Grim Reaper works alone, collecting souls of the dead to transport them to heaven or hell. In this version, the Grim Reaper (actually multiple reapers) have seekers searching for specific people to choose for certain tasks.

 

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For Ava, she determines the most innocent of souls for the Grim Reaper to collect in order to create Heaven’s heavenly angel army. Her and her mother come from a long line of seekers who are sent to different locations in order to pick out the innocents for the Grim Reapers. Ava doesn’t wish to continue this heavy burden any longer and is willing to do anything she can in order to back out of her duties. One of which, was an attempt to take her own life only to discover, hah, she can not die! Yeah, this girl along with her mother are practically immortal until Death decides her time is up. Also she has what I like to call a “Crowley” in her life who gives her assignments and is practically the major authority who has the ability to punish her if deemed necessary.

 

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I call him “Crowley” because, well, if you watch the show Supernatural, he practically IS him!

But now Ava runs into a bit of a problem in the new town her and her mother has moved into. A love interest in the form of Cole Fowler saves her life, foiling her suicide attempt and ends up moving to the forefront in our little tale.  I’ll admit, he’s a breath of fresh air compared to the most recent YA male love interest tropes of today. He owns the bad boy air about him but carries his own without being overbearing, whiny, or pushy. He’s the kind of character who does not have to be a love interest but even a brother-like character if need be. Personally, I’d choose him to be the brotherly kind due to the fact he is not the average love interest.

The story brings a pleasant twist to the average Grim Reaper story, adds a new kick to the YA paranormal genre, and gives girls a reliable female protagonist who fights for what she wants instead of merely talking about it. I believe this new series will spark a new brand of followers to the YA community, and I am thrilled I had the honor to read this story. I happily look forward to the second chapter in The Legacy Series.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms!

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

C.H.B. ARC Reviews: “If I Run” By Terri Blackstock

C.H.B. ARC Reviews: “If I Run” By Terri Blackstock

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Available: Amazon/Goodreads/B&N

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley and Zondervan Fiction in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

Goodreads Description

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.”

 

I have not read a Terri Blackstock novel since high school. Even now when I read this novel, it reminded me how insanely talented of a storyteller Blackstock is. Each of her novels are crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to uncover more evidence to solve the mystery she presents us with. This book is no exception. We bounce between the two perspectives. One from Casey Cox and the other from investigator Dylan Roberts.

When Casey Cox discovers her best friend, Brent, dead on his floor. She quickly gathers her resources and goes on the run. Despite not going to the police about what she discovered, she believes the police will immediately pin his murder on herself. But Casey is not stupid. She always finds a way to cover her tracks wherever she goes.

On the other end of the spectrum, Dylan Roberts is hired to track Casey down and take her into custody. He faces his own personal demons during his investigation through his PTSD flashbacks from being overseas. Although he battles these, he continues to attempt to uncover the clues behind Brent’s death and Casey’s disappearance.

This book is not for those who are not interested in Christian Fiction. I understand there are readers who would be bothered by this type of writing; however, I enjoy it. Even if you would not mind it, the mystery is thrilling enough. The ending is swift and leaves you hanging, waiting for the sequel but it could have been written a little better. Other than this, the book is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

 

 

 

 

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: Ill Will By Dan Chaon

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: Ill Will By Dan Chaon

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Release Date: March 7, 2017
Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

Goodreads Description

‘“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.’

My Review

Ok. This book reminds me of another twisted version of another book I recently read by Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. Especially the piece where the main character has a brother who was acused of murder and later exonerated. Only, in Gillian Flynn’s case, the brother was not. Both stories bounce from the 80s to somewhat present date and they also bring in the satanic cult hysteria from back in the 80s as well. Besides that, Dan Choan takes over from there.

I don’t like predictable books, in fact, I despise predictable books. When I read, I want to the author to make me think. To show, not tell. Dan does just that. He gives you these realistic characters in surroundings that reach outside the fictional world and grab you by the hand and will not let go till their mission is complete.

Are there rough spots? Absolutely, but the author rebounds and makes up with his suspenseful turns. Be prepared to open your mind and be taken on a wild ride!

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

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C.B.H. ARC Review: Chasing Eva By Camellia Hart

C.B.H. ARC Review: Chasing Eva By Camellia Hart

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Available: Amazon; Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever**

 

Goodreads Description

“An addictive, suspenseful & sensual story about a man and a woman whose lives are about to get sizzling hot…

After living through her share of disloyal relationships, Evangeline Avery will be damned if she lets another man cheat her. A beautiful and confident woman, Eva is the owner of an interior design firm at the brink of collapse. She swears to bring her company back to its past glory, even if it involves sweet talking the one man who caused this turmoil in the first place – Clive Stanton.

Notorious playboy Clive Stanton is a powerful businessman and a formidable enemy of many. He doesn’t do love, or at least not until he meets her again, fifteen years after he saw her last. Eva, his crush from teenage years, the one that got away, is back in his world and he is determined to do anything to make her his.

Will passion and lust bring them together or conflict and the unforgettable scars from their pasts forever tear them apart?”

 

Eva did not expect to inherit her father’s interior design business. All she wanted to do with her life was be a professional chef and bring smiles to patrons through her food. Instead, her father dies unexpectedly, leaving Eva the business who has gained attention from the FBI. Turns out someone in Eva’s corner is spilling secrets to her competition and may have murdered Eva’s father. With all the attention, the FBI have recruited one of their former top agents, Clive Stanton, to crack the case. Problem is, Clive is one of Eva’s clients and he cannot let her in on the case.

This is the first book in the In the Light of Shadows series and it is quite an opener. The romance is steaming, the thrills are there, the mystery as to who is behind these crimes remains a mystery, and the ending of this book will leave you starving for more Clive and Eva. I’m eager to seek out the next book on it’s OFFICIAL RELEASE DAY on February 14th! I can’t wait to discover not only if Eva is “caught” but especially the identity of the perpetrator is revealed and they are brought down.

 

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Camellia HartCamellia Hart, a techie turned author of romance, lives in San Francisco with her husband, the love of her life. Other than writing her next romance novel, her hobbies include traveling, lazing on a beach with a good read, watching movies with happy endings while gorging on endless buckets of popcorn, red wine, and champagne truffles.

Check out her website here!

You can also check her out these various platforms:

Amazon, Facebook, & Pinterest

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms!

 

Happy “Charmed” Reading!

~C.C.

ARC C.B.H. Reviews: Freeks By Amanda Hocking

ARC C.B.H. Reviews: Freeks By Amanda Hocking

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Title: Freeks
Author: Amanda Hocking
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Available: Amazon; B&N; Goodreads; iBooks

**Disclaimer-I received an ARC Copy courtesy of St. Martin’s & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not have an effect on my review whatsoever.

 

Goodreads Description

“Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.”

I finished this book last night and I’m afraid I was left with a feeling that I wish didn’t linger even now. Amanda Hocking is a talented author and I’ve read her other books. However, this book lacked depth, structure, and too much repetition. The copy I received from NetGalley was an unedited copy but there were problems that extended mere spelling and grammar errors.

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Once the traveling carnival reached Caudry, Louisiana, Mara went off on her own to explore the town. She comes across a party taking place at a mansion-type house along the way and decides to go inside. Firstly, who does that? I get this takes place in the 80s but who enters a town, comes across a random party filled with strangers, then you decide to go inside despite not knowing the people. And secondly, the moment she goes in and falls in insta-love with the host of the party named Gabe.

Ok, Mara and the carnival are only going to be there a week. Throughout this whole week, these two are constantly kissing and putting their hands all over each other. Half the time I kept wondering if they were going to actually explain their backgrounds except for the same bits they continuously tell one another. It grew annoying after the third time Gabe spoke about his family moving to Louisiana and now he couldn’t go to NYU like he wanted too. Mara, on the other hand, kept drowning on and on how she couldn’t tell Gabe she was part of the Carnival because of past ridicule. For being nineteen, these two needed to grow up instead of acting like fifteen year olds.

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I thought this was a YA novel not an adult novel, but fair warning there is a sex scene in the book. It’s a quick page, but if you’re a parent whose kid is about to read this…be warned! I personally don’t have a problem because I’m an adult but normally, this is a “no-no” in YA novels.

Back to the story, the workers at the carnival begin to get attacked late at night. At first, the workers believe the tigers escape then the attacks grow more intense as the week goes on. Each one of the Carnies have a supernatural abilities. The longer they stay in the town, their abilities begin to waver or quit operating properly. The carnival attempt to receive help from the local police to help discover and arrest the attacker, but they disregard every cry for help and in turn try to get the carnival out.

The novel’s pacing is pretty quick but the problem is resolved too quickly for my taste. The explanation behind the attacks comes so fast it’s like, “Wait, what just happened?” I needed more depth to the characters other than what Mara repeatedly said about the backgrounds of the characters. Telling me is one thing, but the characters in question need to show me their wounds, their memories, act like they are the survivors they are instead of sole entertainers.

 

Have you read this novel yet?

What were your thoughts on this book?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10 Book Charms

Happy Reading,

~C.C.