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.

 

 

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: “Final Girls” By Riley Sager

C.B.H. ARC Reviews: “Final Girls” By Riley Sager

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Release Date: July 11, 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 review whatsoever.

 

Goodreads Synopsis

“Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.”

 

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Quincy Carpenter picked up the pieces of her life after surviving a massacre at her friend’s party in a cabin in the woods. With the killer dead, she has no need to fear any possible future of him coming back for her. The media follows up with her, giving her the label “Final Girl”, adding her alongside two other young women who survived terrible massacres too. Quincy, though, does not want to live in the spotlight, especially since her mind has blocked her memories of the events of that dark night. The police question her periodically to see if her memories resurface; however, Quincy remains silent in also wondering what truly happened as well.

Now, she has what she thinks is a pleasant, comfortable life, but then Lisa, another massacre survivor, ends up being found mysteriously murdered. The very next day, Quincy finally meets another “Final Girl”, Sam, who at first, seems to only wish to get to know Quincy. The more time Quincy spends time with Sam, the more Sam questions Quincy’s past and her memories of that night. Sam wants Quincy to not to live comfortably in the dark….but why?

Final Girls is a brilliantly crafted thriller for the new age. It takes the question of  “What happens next?” and blows it up to create this world that thrives on digging into these poor girls’ tragic pasts and transforming them into celebrities who merely want to be normal again. Only they cannot be normal ever again nor can they hide from the cameras. These “Final Girls” have secrets and they are about to be exposed, but who will truly be the surviving “Final Girl” in the end?

 

Rating 10

Happy Reading!

~C.C.

 

 

C.B.H. Reviews: “Throne of Glass” By Sarah J. Maas

C.B.H. Reviews: “Throne of Glass” By Sarah J. Maas

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

 

Over the last few years, I kept hearing about this series. I ignored the cries coming from my TBR pile till I happened to come across the first book in the series on my library’s shelf. 

Not going to lie, it took me a couple months to get through it. I was disappointed in all the hype for it because it needed a lot of work. Plus finding out it was supposed to be another retelling of Cinderella made it worse.

Lately, I’ve been witnessing several YA books having tons of hype but no dice when I read them. Many authors today suffer from “All Tell, No Show Syndrome” or A.T.N.S.S. for short. This book is no exception to the sickness, not by a long shot. Throughout the book, we are practically battered over the head with how the “assassin” Celaena Sardothien racked up a large body count and should never be trusted. Did we see evidence of this body count? Hahahahaha, no. Did we see evidence for lack of trust? Again, no.

All I got out of this book was this girl is a huge flirt, a book worm, and is pissed because her parents are dead, she was caught, and the injustice in the world she lives in. We only see a pinch of her abilities at the end of the book, and she doesn’t even prove her assassin status in that! It took me two months, two months to complete this! After being dragged through the mud in the muck, I was left feeling tired, frustrated, and wondering why I even bothered trying to read it. Then there are the men or what I obviously figured out to be the “love interests” of the series, The Captain of the Guard and the Crown Prince.

Want to know what turns me off pretty quick? Creepy guys! Those two watched her as she slept and constantly watched her from afar. It didn’t help she kept winking and practically throwing herself at them. You know, at first, I liked the Prince, but the whole sneaking up and watching her while she slept all the time killed my attraction. Oh, and if she is such a bad assassin…why didn’t she hear them and wake up? A trained assassin should always be on alert! Previous point proven.

I know this series has a huge following; however, I’m siding on the non-fan side. A fellow reader pleaded for me to continue onto the sequel, that it would be much better than the first. As stated in my last post, I’m currently reading the sequel and so far it is better but I’m only in the first few chapters.

What were your thoughts on this book/series?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10 Book Charms

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

Reading Slumps, Inspiration, and Book Haul!

Reading Slumps, Inspiration, and Book Haul!

Hi Everyone, it’s C.C.! Yes, I’m alive! Haha, I know I haven’t been posting much for the last couple months. This past Friday, I slowly began working my way back to what I call my “Scheduling notebook” where I have writing my book review release dates down. Is it just me or did Friday feel like a Monday instead of Friday? Usually, I used to plan on Mondays, but times as we all know, are constantly changing. 

While I’ve been on hiatus from writing except releasing a few posted now and then, I have had some high and low reading slumps. I don’t know how but last month one, I brought home armfuls of books from my library and the next I look at them and realize my original excitement for diving into these disappeared. Then earlier this month (and a few renewals later) I found my way back to them….here is my Library Book Haul!

1. The Forever Song By: Julie Kagawa

2. Vincent Price: a Daughter’s Biography By: Victoria Price

3. Final Fivr Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volumes

4. How To Hang a Witch By: Adriana Mather 

5. First two novels in the Throne of Glass series

6. Dead Girls Society By: Michelle Krys

Plus, two more ARC copies I’m working on at the moment. This week, I’ll be relasing out my Review for Throne of Glass, Dead Girls Society, and The Forever Song.
Have you read any of these books or have any suggestions?

Have you gone through your own Reading Slump? What got you through it?
Let me know in the comments below!
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.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. Reviews: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: Vol. 1-4!

C.B.H. Reviews: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8: Vol. 1-4!

Hey everyone! Long time no see! I ran into a reading slump despite my growing list of ARC’s and To Read List. Decided it was time to take some time off and explore new horizons outside my reading list. During my “hiatus”, I discovered a new love…graphic novels.

Now, originally, I was not a huge comic book reader nor had I indulged in graphic novels. That is, until I remembered one of my all-time favorite fictional heroes stories did not finish after the show ended on the screen. In honor of International Women’s Day, I’m reviewing the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels Volume 1-4!

 

My birthday is next Tuesday and as tradition I try to binge watch as much Buffy the Vampire Slayer for two weeks till it’s my birthday. Why? Buffy was a symbol back when I was a kid. The 90s was a time where girls like myself were beginning to see that we were much more than girls who wore dresses and looked “pretty”. Buffy showed us we could be warriors and save the world. That we did not need a man by our side in order to achieve greatness and achieve greatness. For seven years, she gave us “Something to Sing About”, quite literally in fact. If you haven’t seen the show, allow me to to educate you for a moment….

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Que the Musical Number!

 

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tumblr_o8eihiZWLU1rjzgqyo1_400Back to the novels, the writers try to pick up where Season 8 left off. SPOILER ALERT: They saved the world and moved on. Only in the novels, Buffy and her recruited Slayers are still battling the evil of the world and have their own castle headquarters in Scotland. Dawn, Buffy’s sister, is now a giant. Xander is in commander in chief of the slayers while Buffy is going out on various missions. Willow, well, she’s MIA till almost halfway through the first volume. But when she shows up levitating her way into the chaotic scene, I about lost it, it was awesome. Unknown

I had to laugh in the beginning because if you followed closely with the show Angel, it’s spin-off, they poked at the fact Buffy’s past lovers Angel and Spike searched for her in Rome and were shocked to discover “Buffy” was in love with a demon called The Immortal. The novel reveals Buffy now has decoys…..yeah decoys…..and the fact they were both fooled by a decoy made it even more hilarious.

My final thoughts on the first volume, well, it is a rocky and confusing start. I think they were trying to figure what direction they were going. The continuity issues and plot holes also bothered me. I sort of liked the twists but I had issues with the villains. They introduced a military general as a possible antagonist then he disappears close to the end of the novel not seen since.

Volume 1 – My Rating: 5 out of 10 Book Charms

 

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tumblr_ol0vmuPPRV1t14cteo6_r1_400.gifVolume 2: No Future For You focuses on the the runner-up slayer Faith aka the Unhinged Slayer. Faith has had a long list of issues since her being Chosen including murdering an innocent man and turning evil for a season.

Giles, Buffy’s former Watcher, proposes a deal for Faith. In exchange for her help, he would grant her a passport and a new identity. A chance to start over and be able to move forward without getting arrested and taken back to prison for the murder years ago. Her mission, take out a high-class British slayer who has her eye on killing Buffy and taking charge of the brigade.

I loved watching Faith’s struggle in this one. If you watched the series, you’ve seen her fight between doing what is right and wrong. We see how far she has come in the novels and I like how much she’s grown. I thought due to her connection to the evil slayer that she’d move back to the evil side. However, Faith proves yet again you can’t always predict what she may do.

 Volume 2 – My Rating: 8 out of 10 Book Charms

 

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Volume 3: Wolves at the Gatethis volume is where the series as a whole makes a huge turnaround, in a good way. Oriental vampires infiltrate the base and steal Buffy’s Scythe under the guise of Dracula’s powers. Short version, we see Dracula again! Yes, this Dracula:

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He’s back and it turns out he gave away his secrets after losing to poker. POKER! The Prince of Vampiric Darkness risked his powers getting into the wrong hands and they definitely did. The Oriental Vampires lead Buffy, Dracula, and the rest of the gang to Japan where they rage a full out battle in the middle of Tokyo. My favorite part of the whole volume would be Giant Dawn making her way into downtown Tokyo and going all Godzilla on the evil vamps. Hey, if you are a giant and battling evil, might as well make the most of it.

Volume 3 – My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms

 

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Volume 4: Time of Your Life is trippy. Buffy is dragged through a riff in the universe and pushed into the future where there is only one slayer once again. Fair warning to those who want to read these comics, I recommend reading Joss Whedon’s comic book series Fray before reading this volume due to it featuring that universe in this series. Other than that, this volume takes the stance to continue to foreshadow the possible demise of the slayers in the future.

Volume 4 – My Review: 7 out of 10 Book Charms

 

I’m heading to my library to pick up the next three volumes of this series along with Angel’s graphic novels. Remember, no matter who you are, you have the power to slay your demons within you. Stay strong!

 

Happy Reading and Happy International Women’s Day!

~C.C.