The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Book Description:

Published:July 25, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

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.

Review –

Alice and Jake are on top of the world on their wedding day and then receive a strange gift and an invitation to join The Pact, a very private and exclusive organization which supposedly will help them maintain a healthy marriage.

They accept, and realize very shortly The Pact is an abusive,dangerous and maybe murderous cult-like club with no way out. Alice is accused of infractions and taken to a Pact prison facility and sentenced by a Pact judge to wear a neck brace-like contraption for the purpose of focusing more on her marriage and less on her job. Jake tries to seek answers from a woman he knew while in college but she seems afraid to talk to him. Later he is taken to the prison facility, has his head shaved, suffered electric shocks for hours and stripped naked and anchored between two large piece of plexiglass and rolled into the prison cafeteria for all to see. After several days he is allowed to go home.

Alice and Jake discuss how they can get out of the group and things come to a head when Alice is kidnapped and Jake has to travel to Ireland to find and talk to the founder of The Pact. This is does and without giving anything away, he find Alice is okay and then there is the ending.

There was two ways the book could have ended and I would have been alright with either one but I must admit the decision made by the couple surprised me.

Below is a list of a few of the rules provided in the Manual (required reading, in fact members were told to memorize it)

“The Manual,” a huge tome in tiny print containing regulations like those of Unit 3.12, Health and Fitness, which specifies that neither partner may gain more than 10 percent of what they weigh on their wedding day. Other rules require that couples exchange thoughtful gifts monthly, take a trip together once a quarter, always answer a spouse’s telephone call, and never, ever mention The Pact to anyone. Also mandatory is timely attendance at the group’s parties, meetings, and one-on-one sessions. “

Five stars!

The cover does bother me-not sure about the significance of the red tentacle looking thing.

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Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Review –

Another creeper of a book and I loved it FIVE STARS worth!

Sutton is gone but leaves a note saying NOT to try and  find her. She didn’t take ANYTHING with her. NOTHING!

Ethan doesn’t report her missing right away so naturally he’s the first person the police look at. They are both writers and at this point in their careers Sutton is the more prolific and successful. She’s not happy and hasn’t been for a long time. A particular mean book critic is trashing her online, Ethan tricked her into having a baby she didn’t want (he changed out her birth control pills for sugar  pills), her mother (not really her mother) is blackmailing her(we find out this much later),she thinks Ethan may have killed their baby, even though the medical examiner called it as SIDS, and there’s more.

Ethan on the other hand was unfaithful (one time) with Sutton’s best friend. He told her about the infidelity but not who he was with, he has writers block and is jealous of Sutton’s success, and when a body is found burned wearing Sutton’s rings, he is arrested for her murder.

Meanwhile, we learn Sutton has fled to Paris to start a new life, but she can’t get Ethan out of her mind, even when having sex with a man she meets in a cafe. the man seems a bit too friendly, but she throws caution to the wind. Lots of things happen and two American exchange students are killed and the knife is found in Sutton’s (now calling herself Justine) possession. She is arrested by the French police and just when it looked like there was no way out for either of them, a discovery was made as to the possible identity of the true culprit.

There is much much more to story but you need to read it for yourself.  It was a real edge of your seat page turner for me but I didn’t like the what happened at the very end. I thought it to be unnecessary, but still gave it FIVE STARS.

 

 

One Second After (After #1) by William R. Forstchen

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

New York Times best-selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real … a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages … A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.

Months before publication, One Second After has already been cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book already being discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at a weapon and its awesome power to destroy the entire United States, literally within one second. It is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America. In the tradition of On the Beach, Fail Safe, and Testament, this book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future … and our end.

Review –

This book is too scary NOT to read. The whole time I was listening I expected the lights to go out, my computer to shut down and everything to go completely quiet. 

Our country, or any country, for that matter, is not prepared for an EMP strike. We are all too complacent to think it can happen at all, much less to us.

Reading/listening to this book made it very real and it scared me to death.

Everyone should read this book!

Five stars.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 11, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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.

Review –

Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter, then a college student, became the sole survivor of the Pine Cottage Murders, a massacre that claimed five of her friends.

Now a successful baking blogger, living with her public defender boyfriend,Jeff, in a beautiful Manhattan apartment, she likes to think she’s gotten past the trauma — she’s even conveniently forgotten most of that night’s events. Only her wine and Xanax dependency, some light kleptomania, and a complete unwillingness to talk about the murders say otherwise.

But her denial holds no sway with the press, which labels Quincy a “Final Girl” — one of three sole female survivors of headline-grabbing massacres who fascinate the public. When the first of the Final Girls is found dead in her bathtub, the second one shows up in New York, looking for Quincy. Sam is cagey about her history and quick to force intimacy with Quincy. She doesn’t buy the all-is-well front, and seems dead set on releasing Quincy’s demons, including her repressed memories of the murders.

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.

The author keeps the reader guessing as to the WHAT, WHY and WHO with a couple of gigantic twists that you  won’t see coming.  I loved it and gave it five stars!

 

The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) by Dot Hutchison

Book Description:

Published: June 1, 2016

Format: Audio

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

Review –

I can’t really say too much about this book without giving away the “stomach churning”(as used in the blurb) events that occurred in the Garden. It’s kidnapping/imprisonment and sexual abuse taken to a whole new level.

Maya was a strong individual with problems of her own when she came to the Garden and was looked upon by the other “butterflies” as a leader of sorts. As she is questioned by the police, after an explosion in the Garden, we find out just how strong she was.

Five stars!

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Book Description:

Published: March 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

Review –

I both read and listened to this book and found the dual experience very interesting.

I loved this book for several reasons :

  1. The friends were all outcasts and didn’t really let it affect them, especially Lydia.
  2. The sarcastic humor, mainly from Lydia.
  3. The small town setting in the South .
  4. The affection the friends felt for one another, either shown or not.
  5. The thread of enduring friendship that runs throughout the book.
  6. The tear-jerking sadness of losing a friend.
  7. The courage of Dill to finally take steps to change his life.
  8. Lydia and Dill having a relationship and then going to college miles from each other and having the courage to do so.

Are you seeming the pervading theme of the storyline: Courage!   Even Travis, who dies too soon, and caused me to use numerous Kleenex, had the courage to get outside his comfort zone with Amelia.

Though this book is classified as Young Adult I think it needs to be read by everyone.

Five stars!

 

 

 

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Review –

What a roller coaster ride! My head is still spinning from all the twists and turns this book took to relate the journey of three girls who meet their Freshman year at college and became roommates and friends/enemies for the next 20 plus years.

One girl gets way with murder and one girl is later murdered and you don’t find out the killer until THE VERY END.

Loved it. Highly recommend it!

Five stars!!!

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

Book Description:

Published: November 22, 2016

Format: Soft Cover

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review –

In this five-star read  two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long without fear of disease, aging, or accidents.If for some reason they are killed they can be revived in a few days. There is a  governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), and is independent of the Scythedom so scythes rely on ten commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population.

After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty.

The action, violent at times, unfolds slowly, anchored in complex world building and propelled by political happenings behind the scenes . Scythes’ journal entries, which are mandatory, accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual points of view, revealing both personal struggles and problems within the society.  The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and melancholic, brooding but steeped with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. 

Recommended for young adults 14 and up.

Five stars for story and cover!

 

Twist (Dive Bar #2) by Kylie Scott

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Review –

Kylie Scott breathed new life into a plot centered around meeting online and mistaken identity and it had everything to do with Alex and Joe’s respective personalities. Joe is a classic good guy and he was very swoon-worthy. A guy other than Joe likely would not have tried so hard to make things up to Alex after she discovered he was the Eric she’d been emailing all along. While they slowly settle into friendship, it is clear they have a lot to learn from each other.

Whereas Joe says yes to everyone in his life, setting up more than a couple codependent relationships, Alex says no to everyone, functioning more like a hermit. We’re at our healthiest when we’re somewhere between those two extremes. Joe proposes Alex gets out of her comfort zone by saying yes to things and he’ll learn to set boundaries by saying no.

I love the humor the author combines with sexual chemistry/tension and for me it makes the story much more believable and enjoyable.

There are ups and down in their relationship and one twist that I didn’t see coming (I love when that happens) and Alex is hurt badly but it all works out in the end.  Can’t wait for the third installment of the Dive Bar series, Chaser, which comes out in April.

Five stars.

Touch & Go (Tessa Leoni #2) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2013

Format: Audio

This is my family:  Vanished without a trace…

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family.  A perfect life.

This is what I know:  Pain has a flavor…

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer.  The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind.  No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive.  Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

This is what I fear:  The worst is yet to come…

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets.  Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices. Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family?  And how far would such a person be willing to go?

This is the truth:  Love, safety, family…it is all touch and go.

Review –

Five stars.

Fantastic read!

“Ever since Libby Denbe caught her husband, Justin, a handsome and wealthy Boston construction czar, cheating on her, their marriage has been on life support. Their experimental night out turns into a nightmare when they return to find three masked men in their Beacon Hill home terrorizing their 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn. Swiftly overpowered and driven off in the kidnappers’ van, the family can only wonder why they’re being held in an unused prison in northern New Hampshire. At the same time, corporate investigator Tessa Leoni, whose firm had been hired by Denbe Construction to handle security problems, and New Hampshire county cop Wyatt Foster wonder why all three of them were kidnapped when Justin is clearly the one worth the most money—and why long hours pass with no ransom demand. The clues point to an inside job masterminded by one of Denbe Construction’s top brass: chief financial officer Ruth Chan, chief operating officer Anita Bennett, or construction manager Chris Lopez. Alternating, as in Catch Me (2012), between third-person installments of the search for leads in the case and the beleaguered heroine’s first-person accounts of her torment at the hands of the bad guys, Gardner generates such irresistible momentum that most readers will forgive the combination of cool-eyed professional investigation and heavy-breathing domestic soap opera as a family even Libby describes as “three mere clichés” begins to disintegrate still further under the grueling pressure.

Even readers who figure out the ringleader long before Tessa and Wyatt will get behind on their sleep turning pages to make sure they’re right.” from Kirkus Review

I HIGHLY recommend this book!