The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

I have been meaning to read more books about marriages, as a special challenge to myself. There are so many novels that are about this topic or that have the word “marriage”, “husband”, or “wife” in their title, so I thought it would be interesting to make reading these books a priority on my list, just to compare and contrast all of the different ideas that are out there. This story caught my eye, not only because of its title, but also because of its premise.

31748890Summary (Goodreads): 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 Rating: 2 star

Review: This is another case of a novel that started off in a very interesting way but eventually just kinda let me down. I really really loved the premise of this book. The idea of there being a society that is all about preserving marriages and making them last is really intriguing, and seeing a diabolic side to this club was something I was really looking forward to. However, I didn’t really get everything that I wanted from this book.

First of all, this story is told entirely from Jake’s perspective, which I thought was really interesting since most books I’ve read about marriages are told from the wife’s perspective. I think the author did a really good job of writing in a male voice and I really feel like I got a good understanding of Jake’s character and the way his marriage worked with Alice. Alice and the other characters in the book were a bit lackluster compared to Jake, but I was prepared to forgive that for the sake of this intriguing story.

But the story turned out to be quite boring. It revolves around Jake and Alice being a part of this elite and secret club and they find out soon enough that the club is very serious about its members following their mandates. There’s a lot of punishments involved, but for a large part of the story, we are just told about them and not really given a chance to experience it from the POV of our MC. The story plods along at a slow pace with nothing much happening, except for Jake’s constant worries about how things are going for Alice with The Pact. I was really hoping for there to be a lot more of a sinister air to the story with a lot more action. I was mostly just bored and could not wait to get to the good stuff.

The ending was an interesting twist, I suppose, but it felt just as lackluster as the rest of the story. There was nothing to really enjoy … except for the fact that this book was finally coming to a close.

So, while the writing was good, the pacing of the story was awfully slow and the lack of tension and intrigue made this a very boring novel. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~


My Top Books for 2017

This year, I challenged myself to read 300 books. I am pleased to note that I exceeded this amount by 58 books for a total of 358 novels! I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of my favorite books of the year! So let’s go!

  1. A God in the Shed by J. F. Dubeau. This was hands-down one of my favorite horror stories of the year! There was so much suspense and mystery to the story, and I was genuinely scared out of my wits! Anyone who loves horror would enjoy this novel!
  2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. While this novel may have targeted young adults, I found the story would work for adults as well. With a mesmerizing story of strength and a Russian folklore background, this novel really delivers a punch. It was one of my favorite fantasies of the year!
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This as such a powerful story about race and gun violence! The author took the difficult subject matter and portrayed it in an impactful way. It really made me shift my own views on the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the issues of police brutality and accountability. Especially given the way society is like today, I think this is a very relevant novel that everyone should read.
  4. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig. This novel tugged at my heart strings. It has such a wonderful innocence to it, and it is heartbreaking. Readers cannot help but connect with Ginny Moon and root for her. This is a book that is not easy to dismiss or forget!
  5. The Ghsotwriter by Alessandra Torre. I absolutely loved this mystery/thriller. I loved the premise and the style of the writing. The plot had me hooked and I could not put this book down for a minute! If you are looking for a thriller like no other, then this is one you should definitely check out!
  6. Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction but this was worth it! It broke my heart to read about the poor working conditions that the women in this novel faced and how hard it was for them to get the medical care and fair treatment that they deserved. But their struggle and determination were so inspirational to read about and it made me feel proud to be a woman. This is definitely a novel to read if you want to feel empowered and proud of how far we have come in terms of workplace safety and equality.
  7. Bright Air Black by David Vann. Having never read the story of Medea and Jason and the Argonauts, I thought this was a fantastic read that featured an amazing female character. I was entranced by the story, and by the sheer ruthlessness of Medea. Definitely a novel I will be recommending to people for years to come!
  8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. My first time reading a book by this author and I absolutely loved it! It was funny and engaging and mysterious! It was so hard to put down and I loved the different female characters who got their chance to shine in the story.
  9. Monstress by Marjorie Liu. This was such a wonderful graphic novel! It had beautiful artwork and an amazing story to boot! It’s got steampunk and fantasy and mystery and politics so what’s not to love? If you like graphic novels, then this is one you should definitely be reading!
  10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This was just such a funny and exciting novel to read! It was completely out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I loved the whole video game story line, and I loved all of the references to pop culture, which I myself was not familiar with. It may not have been the most deep story but it was definitely entertaining and well worth the read!

So there you have it! These are the top 10 books of 2017 for me! Of course, there were a lot of other books I loved reading and gave very high ratings for, but these ones really stuck out for me! I can’t wait for the new year and all of the books that it will bring with it! But for now, I hope you all have a happy new year, surrounded by family and friends! See you in 2018!

Happy reading ~

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I’ll be the first to admit that this book is completely out of my comfort zone. I have never read a book about virtual reality. In fact, I’ve never even played a video game. It’s not like I have avoided these things on purpose. Growing up, my parents bought me a lot of books and dolls. But video games were thought to be for boys only. Plus, they were too expensive for an immigrant family to afford at that time. It didn’t help that I didn’t have many friends so I was always out of the loop on what was “in”. When I heard about this book, I thought it was interesting but also very weird. I mean, who would want to write a book about a video game? Clearly, this author. And clearly, this book has done so well that it is being made into a movie. So, in order to finally catch up with the times, I decided to give this novel a shot. Here is my review:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. There’s not a lot of money and not a lot of food. Most of the population is homeless. The only time teenager Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself propelled into popularity. But with his fame comes a great danger: there are some players out there who will stop at nothing to win the ultimate prize – even if it means killing Wade. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

When I say this book was un-put-down-able, I mean it. I sat in my bed, thinking that I would read a few chapters and see how I felt about it. Before I knew it, I had finished the whole book and not taken a single break for anything. It was that entertaining! Even though I wasn’t born in the ’80s and have no experience with video games, I found it really easy to follow along. The author does a great job of explaining everything so you can really enjoy the story and understand all of the little references being made. Of course, if you are familiar with all of the cultural references from the ’80s that are made in this book, then you are probably going to enjoy this more! This is a pretty light-hearted story for all intents and purposes: Wade is a loner who finds an escape through the Oasis and this challenge that was presented by the eccentric creator of the Oasis. The adventures and obstacles were really fun to read about and you really see Wade growing up and developing as a character. I loved all of the other characters, as they each had their own unique part. While some people may have wanted a bit more realism and substance to this novel, I liked it because it didn’t have that. It was just such a good fun read! It had me excited, it had me laughing, it had me amped …. it made me feel like I was a part of this world that the author had created. I definitely had a great experience with this novel, and I’m giving it a 5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This novel is definitely on the lighter side for me. It doesn’t have any death or psychological thrills. I’ve noticed that I mostly go for books with a thrill factor and haven’t really explored my realistic fiction side. Growing up, I used to love teen realistic fiction about “real” problems. This novel seemed quite relevant to my life at this point so I decided to give it a shot!

Hannah Martin has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in multiple cities and has done various random jobs since graduating from college with a degree that she considers pretty much meaningless. When a romance goes awry, Hannah is convinced by her best friend, Gabby, to come back to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her move home, Gabby takes Hannah out for a night on the town to meet up all of their friends – and Hannah’s old flame, Ethan (who she has never really forgotten about). Things hit off and the party goes up until midnight. Gabby asks Hannah if she wants to go back home and Ethan asks her to stay out for a little while longer. Hannah must now make a decision. What she doesn’t realize is that this one choice will change her life forever.

If you’ve ever read one of those novels where to make a choice you have to flip to another page in the book and keep making choices until you reach the end – well, this is that kind of novel. At midnight, the story diverges and tells you what happens in both scenarios. I love the whole concept and it was executed really well. It was so much fun to flip between the two storylines. At the end of the novel, I really don’t know which is the best option – and that’s the best part (in my opinion)! This novel definitely highlights the problem that we all have – being indecisive and worried about what the future holds for us. I can honestly say that this is one of my biggest problems; I obsess over every decision that I make, constantly wondering if it was the “right” one or not. I definitely relate to the character of Hannah and reading this witty and heartfelt novel filled me with a lot of hope for my own future. After all, if Hannah can do it, SO CAN I! If you’re looking for a cool realistic fiction that will make you feel happy inside, please do check this out!

Happy reading ~

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Another Neil Gaiman novel! I’m sure you’re all sick and tired of hearing me gush about him but I really must say that his work is fantastic and definitely worth checking out. Every time I read a book by him, I get something unexpected out of it!

Shadow is a quiet man who is on his last stretch at prison. It’s been three years and now that he is about to be released, all he wants is to be reunited with his wife, Laura. But just days before his release, he discovers that she and his best friend have died in a car accident. Now, he is out in the world with nowhere to go and no one whom he can call his family. So when he meets a stranger with an interesting job offer, he agrees to take it. This decision will take him on a journey that he could never have imagined.

This was definitely a different book than the other novels I’ve read by him. For one, it’s much longer. Also, it is decidedly more adult than his other books. It goes on a much deeper level and really makes you think about the way society is today versus the past. This wasn’t my favourite book by him but it was definitely a good read. At times, the story would wind along and I would wonder where it was going. However, the plot was strong and everything that happened in the story was  important. All in all, it was a really good read and I recommend this to anyone looking for something deep!

Happy reading ~

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

I waited almost a whole two months to read this book. During that time, I heard lots of raving reviews about this novel and this author, making me even more anxious to read it. I was so eager to read it that I started reading it while I was working (I’m so lucky that no one caught me doing that)!

Olav is a fixer. He was terrible at robberies and drug cartel work but people soon found out that he had a penchant for killing people. But it is a lonely life and for a man as simple as Olav, it can make him quite sad. Until the day he meets the woman of his dreams. Who is actually his boss’s wife – and his next target to kill.

This book moved along very quickly but it took me by surprise because of the way it was written. The language was as simple as the main character and this simplicity was what really made this book irresistible for me. I loved the main character; I found it impossible not to love him. The story was so good that I was sad to finish it (it was rather a short read, to be honest). I would recommend this to anyone looking for something unique, refreshing, and short!

Happy reading ~