The Marriage Pact: A Novel by Michelle Richmond-a 1/5 Star Review

Jake and Alice are a recently married couple who receive a unique gift from a new friend. This gift was an invitation to The Pact. An exclusive society that values marriage and strives to maintain the sanctity of it. It is not to be discussed with people outside of The Pact and the rules get more outrageous from there. Basically, it’s Stepford Wives meets Fight Club. Obnoxious.

For the record, I only managed to get 18% into the book before crying out “Oh for the LOVE of GOD I DON’T CAAAAAARE”, which may also be considered obnoxious to some.

Each percent was a chapter so I did get 18 chapters in, however, when it is 18 out of 100ish chapters, it’s not that big of a feat. It was told from Jake’s perspective up until that point which made it seem like Jake was obsessed with his wife, Alice. But Alice’s responses tended to be passive in terms of big events. For example, when he proposed, she simply said “Ok”. Another example is when they decided to join The Pact, her response was “why not?”. Because it’s obviously a cult, that’s why not.

Alice is an overworked lawyer and Jake is a therapist, yet their communication seemed to be lacking and a lawyer read the terms and conditions of The Pact and decided to go through with it because “Why not?” just did not seem realistic to me. Furthermore, Jake’s thoughts on things relied on what Alice thought of them. Which caused flat sentences such as “Alice does not like ___” and “Alice likes ____”. It made him seem like a doormat. It reached a breaking point for me when they were at a work social for Alice and there was a co-worker that went up to Jake (allegedly unaware that he was the husband of Alice) and they talked about the bet that went on at the office that she wouldn’t marry ‘the therapist'”. It seemed immature and pointless.

Last rant: I could not stand Vivian. She reminded me of Dolores Umbridge and I am sure she is supposed to be the villain so I am not supposed to like her. However, she was irritating at best.

Clearly, I was not a fan of this book and I would only recommend it to readers who are fans of cults.

However, many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me free access to the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott-a 1/5 Star Review

Devon Knox had an accident as a young child that resulted in the amputation of a few toes on her foot. But that has not stopped her from being the rising star in gymnastics. She trains for hours every day on top of keeping up good grades. She is determined to be in the elite, then on to the Olympics. Her parents are buried in debt but they are taking the risk for the chance of their daughter to be an Olympian. They fear the puberty that could come any day, the high risk that everything could be ruined by one tiny mistake in a routine, and that one small mistake could cause an injury that can’t be bounced back from. But they face it all to make Devon a household name.

But one night, something goes terribly wrong in their small gymnastics community and it is another name that is spoken in every household.

It took me over 2 weeks to read this book because I dreaded picking it back up. The characters lacked depth and I could not establish any kind of connection with any of them. The parents, Eric and Katie, were immature, narcissistic, and oblivious. They consistently ignored their son, Drew, in order to focus on themselves or mostly on their oldest daughter, Devon. Drew, however, was written to not mind being ignored and to be very laid back. He “understood” the attention that had to go to Devon and “never had a problem with it”. Not only did it come across as very unrealistic but it also came across as useless. Devon did not demand attention outside of the gymnastics gym, rather she kept to herself and kept secrets. Devon clearly favored her father and (in somewhat of a juvenile retaliation) her mother, Katie, stuck to Drew. Poor Drew developed Scarlet Fever and still received little attention from his family.  His mother even left him alone in the car and then revealed that it was not the first time she had done that.  She had left him in the car because she had forgotten he was even in there when he was much younger.  They put Devon into a fellow gymnast’s home (read: mansion) so she wouldn’t catch what Drew had.  The fellow gymnast whose mother footed the bill for the renovations to the gymnastics training center. This mother, Gwen, footed the bill after much wining and dining with Devon’s father, Eric, so that his daughter could improve with better equipment. Oh, and Gwen’s daughter, Lacey, could also improve. But no one would ever be as good as Devon!

Not only were the characters a disappointment but the writing was also hard to appreciate, in my opinion. The plot did not flow well, neither did the chapters. There were snippets of paragraphs that seemed to be copied and pasted to piece together a chapter rather than being more fluid. There were even paragraphs that could have been “pasted” together and it would have flowed better. It was jagged and frustrating to read. Furthermore, there was a lot of repetition for minor details that came across as redundant to me. Katie’s ringtone being the same song that Devon has a floor routine to, saying “I love him so much!”, are just two examples. I have heard many great things about Megan Abbott and, as a result, had looked forward to receiving an ARC of this book. I cannot say that I would have that same excitement in the future.

I would not recommend this book. I think I have made that very clear. Furthermore, I would certainly not recommend this book for those who may be sensitive to foul language, violence, tumultuous relationships, murder, manipulation, parental neglect, and sexually suggestive scenarios.

Please note: an advance reader copy of this book was generously provided electronically by the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris-a 4/5 Star Review!

Cass and her husband, Matthew, live in a house far away from many things. Only a couple of neighbors down the road but it is quiet and peaceful. That is, until one stormy night on her way home a woman is stranded on the side of the road. Cass made the decision that she would later regret: she does not help her. The next morning, the woman is found dead.

Riddled with the guilt of not having done anything, and horrified that this could happen in her small and remote neighborhood, Cass gets spooked and lives in fear. When she discovers that the woman was her new friend, Jane, she nearly falls apart. Does the murderer know that it was Cass who passed by?

Let me begin with the end. The end of the book really ties everything together and makes up for the redundant middle of the book. Although many thriller books are compared to Girl On The Train, I will add this one to the list for this very reason. I gave up on Girl On The Train because the middle was so redundant on how she is drunk every day. I later had the book spoiled for me and wished I had carried on. I almost did the same for this book. The middle of The Breakdown becomes cumbersome to read as it does not feel like much of anything is progressing. The daily actions of Cass waking up devastatingly convinced to have early onset dementia like her mother had, taking pills, falling asleep, waking up again to pretend to be normal when her husband comes home, and going to bed again happens so often. However, there are snippets of clues subtly dropped within this chunk of monotony that it is easy to miss them. I would not say that this book is something that I could not put down. For a lot of the book I had a hard time actually picking it back up, but I am glad that I did as the ending makes up for everything.

I would recommend this book for anyone who could endure Girl On The Train. I also recommend this book for readers who enjoy getting in the mindset of the narrator. This reads in first-person narrative and does not jump back and forth between past and present.

For those who may be offended, there are themes of manipulation, stalking, murder, early onset dementia, and overdose.

Please note: An electronic advanced reader copy was generously provided by St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hunted: ALIAS #2 by Lisa Hughey- a 3 Star Review

Maria Torres has had a large part of her life taken away from her.  She was kidnapped and held captive for many years until she finally had the courage and opportunity to escape.  That experience has been haunting her life, making it very difficult to establish relationships and even trust others.

Dwayne Lameko has had a crush on co-worker Maria Torres since she joined the company.  He can charm most women, except for her.  She shuts down when he is near and refuses to tell him anything about herself.  She shocks him when she volunteers to go in on a mission and is even more shocked when he is assigned to be her partner.  Can they get over their awkward boundaries and work together as a team?

I read the first book in the series, Stalked: ALIAS #1 (see review here: Stalked ARC (ALIAS #1) by Lisa Hughey-5/5 Star Review), and I enjoyed the fast pace and high-powered action scenes.  The plot in that book was well developed, as were the characters, and there was a great balance between action and passion.  That being said, this book was a bit of a let down.  I went into Hunted expecting the same level of pace and character development but the story line felt truncated.  It focused more on the awkward romance growing between evasive Maria and alpha Dwayne than the thrill of the mission.  Furthermore, the “plot twist” was predictable.

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be sensitive to violence, sexually explicit scenarios, kidnapping, rape threats, and foul language.

Please note:  an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Charming Predator by Lee Mackenzie-2/5 Star Review

Lee Mackenzie has climbed her way back up from rock bottom.  At the bottom of the pit she was known to those close to her, particularly her husband, as Donna.  This book is the true story of how she met and married her husband, Kenner Jones, despite being countries apart.

Donna had traveled to London and met Kenner at a tourist shop.  Through conversation, Kenner discovers that Donna is in need of a place to stay.  So he offers his mother’s hospitality and Donna takes him up on it.  She endured story after story from Kenner’s mother, Primrose, but took it as worth the money she saved.

Donna had returned to her home country, Canada, and started receiving letters from Kenner.  Kenner had ended up in prison as the victim of a misunderstanding and his mother is in need of financial assistance.  Donna sends money from each paycheck to Primrose and continues to correspond with Kenner.  This is the second step down into the pit of naiveté.

Upon Kenner’s release, Donna goes back to London to visit him.  He proposes.  She accepts and goes back to Canada to save up for their wedding and future.  They marry in Canada and then everything starts to fall apart.   The deception builds as their marriage crumbles.  Donna is caught in a landslide of broken dreams, debt, and torn between her husband and her future.
This is all told in Donna’s point of view and partly in letters from Kenner to Donna.  These letters provide a deeper glance into who Kenner portrayed himself to be.  Without these letters, I do not believe I would have continued to read the book.  I would have just tossed it aside as a bitter tale of a woman scorned.  The other added depth to the book was the inclusion of other people deceived by Kenner.

Although this book is classified as true crime (which is my tv preference) it did not leave me gasping in disbelief.  Rather, it left me putting it down often and picking up another book instead.   It felt like when one goes to get a coffee with an acquaintance or old friend and the cell phone tucked away in a purse or pocket is more tempting than hearing more bitter stories.  It was predictable and the details that were focused on did not add to the story, in my opinion.

I would not recommend this book for anyone offended by deception and miscarriages.  I did not note any foul language, violence, or sexual themes.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Merman’s Kiss (Monsters for Mates #1) by Tamsin Ley-2/5 Star Review

Brianna’s world is over. She lost her baby and her marriage. She puts on weights and walks off a pier into the ocean wanting to end it all. What she did not plan on was entering a whole other world underwater. Merman Zantu finds her and breathes life back into her. Shortly thereafter, they fall into lust and mate. Brianna’s life starts over in a new world with a new mate because when merman mate, they mate for life.

Zantu has a hard time selecting a mate because all mermaids are greedy, manipulative, and leave mermen and their merchildren behind. Having recently witnessed this happen to his brother, he avoids mermaids even more, viewing them as predators. While treasure hunting, he comes across a human who needs rescued and breathes into her allowing her to breathe underwater. Saving her life forever changed his.

I tried to like this book but it was irritating at times. Zantu calls Brianna “my little angelfish” redundantly and the sweeping concept that all mermaids are greedy and malicious did not add to the book. Furthermore, it felt like they were having sex every five pages and then they were telling each other that they love each other after only a brief amount of time. The final redundant part for me was how Zantu kept thinking about how females cannot be trusted because they will leave you. Yet Zantu left Brianna behind on more than one occasion!

It was a novella and easy to read in one sitting. It is difficult to tell if this book was originally written with the intention of shorter length because it felt like a lot was left out. The plot holes seemed to be covered up by more sex scenes. Furthermore, there were big transformations that happened but were not explained how. It just did not feel like it flowed well, in my opinion.

I am adding the second star because there was a lot of detail regarding the marine world. Not only with what it was supposed to physically look like, but how all of the marine creatures interacted.

I would not recommend this book for those who dare bothered by explicit sex scenes, suicide attempts, infidelity, abandonment (particularly maternal abandonment), depression, violence, and coercion.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Foolish Bride by A.S. Fenichel-5/5 Star Review!

Elinor and Michael are engaged. This engagement came from love rather than a business transaction, which is rare in their town. Michael is in the military and takes one last mission before their wedding to secure a title for he and his new bride.

It is this final mission that changes everything.

Michael is injured and is no longer able to bear children. Elinor’s father has just received a higher ranking title and refuses to allow any bad gossip to spread about his daughter. He cowardly dissolves the engagement as Michael is still on bedrest to recover.

Elinor refuses to allow the engagement to be dissolved and fights for their love. But it is Michael that she fights because he has given up on their romance in the hopes that Elinor may marry someone more suitable.

Along comes Preston, a Duke, who seeks Elinor’s hand. Michael fights his jealousy, Elinor fights her conflicting feelings, and the ton is in a gossiping frenzy. Will Elinor choose love or convenience?

I have only read a couple of regency romances that I enjoyed which caused me to hesitate to read this one. I feared it would be too many details about the ton, dresses, and overall scenery rather than focusing on the plot. I was pleased that this was not the case with Foolish Bride. The plot moves so quickly that I read it in one day!

Furthermore, there was strong character development with both Elinor and Michael. Elinor began their courtship acting as the role of “perfect wife” as her mother had raised her to be. The devastation after her engagement was called off caused her to reveal her stronger, unfiltered self. Michael, after being called out by Elinor, realizes that he had been selfish in how he handled the fall out of their engagement as well as how he had treated his own siblings.

Lastly, I was very pleased to find that this book is a part of a series. It read as a standalone and (thankfully) there was not a cliffhanger. My favorite character was Michael’s best friend, Thomas Wheel. I was excited to discover that the next book revolves around him and Elinor’s best friend, Dory. I will be on the hunt for the first book in the series, Tainted Bride, and look forward to the third!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a romantic story about fighting for love. I also recommend this book for readers who enjoy surprises as well as historical fiction.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be put off by explicit sexual scenarios, violence, mild foul language, and kidnapping.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.