Talking About ‘The Marriage Pact’ with Bibliobeth!

The Marriage Pact: For fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

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.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before starting it?

BETH: A few, yes I did indeed. First of all, it’s on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list for 2018 and I normally trust the novels they pick as being compelling reads so I was looking forward to it on that count. Secondly, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel from bloggers I admire and whose opinions I trust. As a result, I went into it with slightly raised expectations, expecting a fantastic, memorable read. Now I have such mixed feelings I don’t know where to start!

BETH: Did you believe in Jake and Alice’s relationship? Do you think their marriage will last beyond the novel?

CHRISSI: I did actually. You could tell as a reader that they really did love each other. There were moments when I felt like Jake felt more deeply for Alice than vice versa, but in the main part I did believe in them. Alice did have moments of vulnerability which made me realise how she felt. I thought they both wanted the best out of their marriage. Whether joining The Pact was a way to go about it, I don’t know. As for whether it would last beyond the novel? I’m not sure. They went through so much together and perhaps they’d take the best bits out of The Pact to improve on in the future?

CHRISSI: What do you think motivates people to join cults such as The Pact? What motivates Jake and Alice in particular?

BETH: I have no idea! Personally, I would never be tempted to join a group like this especially when we find out further along the novel what they are really like. Jake and Alice however, although they clearly love each other dearly are motivated to join The Pact as it is advertised to them as simply a way of making sure they have a happy marriage and are unlikely to ever get divorced. They are sold completely on this idea and perhaps Alice feels a bit vulnerable, really wanting her marriage to work. Of course, it all seems completely above board and just a lovely thing to be a participant of, as well as making new friends so they don’t hesitate in signing up.

BETH: What were the best/worst parts of this novel for you?

CHRISSI: Ooh what a tricky question. As I mentioned to you when we were reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to rate it. That’s mainly because some of it I thought was bloody brilliant and other parts made my skin crawl. What I liked about this book was that it certainly kept me turning the pages. I’m not so sure it was always in the right way that I wanted to continue. Mainly I was like ‘WTF am I reading?’ but perhaps that was the author’s intention? It certainly got me thinking and reading. I didn’t want to put it down. The worst parts were when really disgusting things happened to a person and Jake enjoyed (?) it!

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too much?

BETH: And so it begins…In a word, yes. At times, I really felt like I had to suspend my disbelief in what was going on to Jake and Alice and this normally wouldn’t bother me in a novel. I love a bit of fantasy, a bit of uncertainty and a thrilling plot that just takes you along for the ride and in some ways, this is exactly what I got. However, at some points I’m afraid to say my eyebrows remained perfectly raised and I just thought erm….really?! I think there’s only so far you can go with pushing the boundaries of what people will believe and if you step over that line, there is a real chance you’re going to lose that reader. Unfortunately by the last third of the book, this was definitely the case with me. Then there were those scenes…… where Alice is chained and being taken away and Jake gets turned on. Then another woman is naked in a jail cell and looks a bit unkempt and has obviously been treated violently, AND HE GETS TURNED ON. I mean, really? Did she have to go all Fifty Shades on us? Quite unnecessary and frankly, a bit warped and creepy. It is a shame because I did really enjoy parts of this novel, it was just these other parts that foxed me a little bit and lowered an otherwise “brilliant” rating.

BETH: Did you find this book thrilling or suspenseful at all?

CHRISSI: For me, thrilling? No. I didn’t think it was a particularly thrilling read because as I mentioned, some parts really didn’t work for me and made me feel uncomfortable in a way that made me want to stop reading. Suspenseful? Totally. I was intrigued and wanted to know what was going to happen next. I really was captivated…just not always in a positive way.

CHRISSI: Are there any rules of The Pact that you think could strengthen a marriage? Are the principles behind the extreme methods sound, or not?

BETH: Apologies for the above rant. I had a few issues! Yes, I think some of the rules were quite good for strengthening a marriage. Things like making sure you go on holiday with each other often to get away from it all. buying a gift no matter how silly every month I think is nice and obviously, prioritising each others feelings and wants and not letting work get in the way to much. However, the extreme methods that The Pact goes to when enforcing these principles are in no way sound and are very frightening. I couldn’t believe that Jake and Alice put up with what they did for so long!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Tricky one. I really think it depends on the subject matter. She can clearly write but I’m not sure the content is my sort of thing!

Would we recommend it?

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: A tentative yes!

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The Girlfriend

The Girlfriend

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about The Girlfriend and goodness knows I love a psychological thriller. I was completely gripped by The Girlfriend right from the start. I knew something messed up was going to go down and I wasn’t disappointed. I am quite shocked that this book is a debut novel because it felt like a book from an incredibly established author. All too often, thrillers are like each other and I didn’t get that vibe with The Girlfriend. 

It centres around Laura, Daniel and Cherry. Laura has a wonderful career, a marriage to a rich husband and a brilliant, intelligent, kind relationship with her son Daniel. Daniel meets Cherry, who is beautiful and smart, but her life has been much tougher than Daniel’s. She certainly hasn’t had the same opportunities that Daniel has had. Cherry wants a life like Laura’s. Cherry is introduced to the family and Laura is immediately unsure of Cherry. She’s protective over her son and thinks there’s something not right about her. After a terrible accident, a lie is told which changes their lives. Who do you trust? Who is in the wrong?

Basically, those last two questions were my thoughts the whole way through reading this gripping thriller. I wanted to know what on earth was going to happen. Talk about unlikeable female characters! This book had them in abundance. This really is a dark, twisted tale. One I kept on turning the pages, eager to find out how far Cherry and Laura would go. Ooh.

Cherry has been brought up in a poor family with not many opportunities. Daniel is completely the opposite. They fall in love quickly, but Laura is not happy. I thought Laura’s relationship with Daniel was quite creepy. I didn’t trust her from the start with her obsessing over her son. Then I wasn’t sure if Cherry’s intentions were true. Daniel really was obsessed over by both ladies in his life.

This is a brilliant debut novel and I’m super excited to see what Michelle Frances writes next. The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is because I felt the ending was a little rushed.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book is a little gem! I devoured it!

The Daughter

The Daughter

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bookouture

Synopsis:

You lost your daughter. You will never forgive yourself. And now someone’s determined to make you pay… 

Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire… but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt. 

To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years. 

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis of this book. I’m very into my thrillers which you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of my blog.

The Daughter starts with something awful happening to Jess’s daughter Beth. Seventeen years later, Jess is trying to move on and make peace with the past and the part she played. However, no-one can get over such a tragic event, especially when there’s guilt there. Jess has moved away and started over with her family. When looking to move into a new home, years later, terrifying things start to happen to Jess which seem to be connected to Beth. Someone seems determined to make Jess pay…

This book immediately gripped me when it started with the incident at school. I’m pretty sure it’s a common fear in parents…a call to say your child has been rushed to hospital. Terrifying. Even as a devoted Auntie, I would be so anxious to take that call. Immediately, the author humanises our main character Jess. I sympathised with her. Beth’s funeral was an incredibly hard moment to read about. It was then I realised that Lucy Dawson had completely captured my attention.

I loved this book because it contained so many secrets and lies. Secrets and lies always catch up eventually and it was a matter of when they were going to catch up with the characters. It’s such a fast paced plot and it’s so easy to just keep turning the pages and reading.

Jess isn’t an easy character to understand at times. She makes some horrific decisions but I could always see why she had made the decisions she did. She wasn’t always likeable, but she was understandable.  Some of the other characters were simply fascinating as well. I loved watching their stories unravel. This really is a fantastic psychological thriller, but one that’ll tug at your heart strings.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This was quite an emotional read! I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller!

13 Minutes

13 Minutes

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about Sarah Pinborough’s books, especially 13 minutes, so when I came across it on a bookshop crawl recently, I knew I had to pick up a copy. It’s quite a dark, edgy YA read. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The story starts with a man whose dog discovers a young girl in icy water. The man sees the girl move and is quick to respond with saving the girl. He starts CPR until the emergency services arrive and take over. Luckily, the girl in question- Natasha- is revived. Natasha died for 13 minutes. She has no memory of how she got in the river or has no recollection of anything that happened on the day of the accident. Everyone is talking about what could have happened. Natasha isn’t sure who to trust.

13 Minutes uses several points of view to tell the story. There’s also text messages, police case notes and psychiatrist’s notes. The characters in this story aren’t particularly likeable. Natasha has a little clique who really are quite mean to others. I didn’t trust Natasha’s friends, but as the story progressed I wasn’t sure that I could trust any of the characters. I do love an unreliable character and there were plenty of them in the story.

I really enjoyed Sarah Pinborough’s writing style. She drip fed the details until we finally had a picture of what happened. It certainly kept me turning the pages, eager to find out why Natasha was in the river and who was involved. I loved the author’s portrayal of the toxic female friendships in the story. This book is incredibly intense and worth picking up if you’re into darker YA fiction!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fabulous, gripping YA read!

The Treatment by C.L Taylor

The Treatment

How did I get it?
NetGalley- many thanks to HQ/Harper Collins

Synopsis:

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

Before it’s too late.

Thoughts:

I have been intending to read C.L Taylor’s books for the longest time. I don’t know why I haven’t yet, but I will soon be rectifying that after reading her fantastic YA debut! I was utterly gripped by The Treatment and finished it within a day.

The Treatment centres around sixteen year old Drew Finch. Her younger brother, Mason, is expelled from school and sent to a residential reform academy in Northumberland. It is from then that the problems really occur. Drew is followed by Doctor Cobey with a message from Mason. Mason tells Drew that he’s worried about the ‘treatment’ that’s going on at the reform academy. He needs her help. After some googling and finding a former resident, Drew needs to get into the school to discover exactly what’s going on for herself before it’s too late.

I thought this book was utterly gripping. Right from the start it had me intrigued and didn’t let go of me until the last page. The story is really easy to read. It has some interesting characters, ones you hate and ones you root for. I loved to hate some of the characters in this story. There really is a great range of well written characters. The pace was fast and short chapters really helped this.

I really enjoy psychology reads and I loved how C.L Taylor used psychology in the story without it becoming too bogged down. It was incredibly clever and engaging.

I’m not the desired age for this book, but I absolutely lapped it up and I’m pretty confident that this book would appeal to adults as well.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I will definitely be reading C.L Taylor’s adult thrillers after thoroughly enjoying this book!

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Girls

Synopsis:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.  And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?

Thoughts:

I’m a massive fan of this genre, which you’ll know if you’ve been around my blog for a while. My sister Beth and I recently read Lisa Jewell’s The Girls and really enjoyed it so I was intrigued to read this one. Especially after Beth raved about it. I found Then She Was Gone to be such a compelling read. I couldn’t put it down and easily could have read it in one sitting if I had the time!

It follows the story of Laurel whose fifteen-year-old daughter disappeared one day. Laurel and the rest of her children were so close to Ellie and her loss affects the whole family. Ten long years later, Laurel finds out that there’s updates on the case. Unfortunately for the family, Ellie’s remains have been found. With some closure, Laurel begins to move forward. She meets a man called Floyd who brings back some joy into her life. Laurel is introduced to his girls and is struck by the similarities between his daughter Poppy and her Ellie. The truth about what happened around the time Ellie was missing comes to light. Laurel isn’t sure whether she should be trusting Floyd but she’s desperate to find out what happened.

As I mentioned, I have read so many thrillers. So many are a bit samey, but I was impressed with Then She Was Gone. It kept me turning the pages. Although I had guessed what had happened to Ellie, I was still compelled to keep reading. Desperate to see if I was right. I also didn’t know exactly how the thing I thought (sorry, no spoilers!) had happened. Therefore guessing the twist didn’t affect my enjoyment. 

I loved the narrative! It’s broken up into different parts, thinking about then and present day times. As a reader, you get to read from the main character’s point of view and I love that. I felt like it gave a really well rounded look at the story.

Lisa Jewell’s writing is exceptional. I am seriously considering checking out the other books that she’s written as I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve read so far. I love getting into the minds of her ‘bad’ characters. It’s fascinating!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book comes highly recommended if you’re a fan of the thriller/mystery genre!

Last Seen Alive

Last Seen Alive

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

The Hero

Libby Hall never really wanted to be noticed. But after she saves the children in her care from a fire, she finds herself headline news. And horrified by the attention. It all reminds her of what happened nine years ago. The last time she saw her best friend alive.

The Swap

Which is why the house swap is such a godsend. Libby and her husband Jamie exchange their flat in Bath for a beautiful, secluded house in Cornwall. It’s a chance to heal their marriage – to stop its secrets tearing them apart.

The Hideaway

But this stylish Cornish home isn’t the getaway they’d hoped for. They make odd, even disturbing, discoveries in the house. It’s so isolated-yet Libby doesn’t feel entirely alone. As if she’s being watched.

Is Libby being paranoid? What is her husband hiding? And. As the secrets and lies come tumbling out, is the past about to catch up with them?

Thoughts:

Beth really enjoyed this book when she read it in August. She told me I had to read it ASAP. I can totally see why she wanted me to read this book as it was such an engaging, gripping read. I could barely put it down! Claire Douglas has a fabulous writing style and I will definitely try to read more from her.

Last Seen Alive tells the story of Libby and Jamie. They haven’t been married long but are having some problems. They need to get away to reconnect with one another. Libby is a teacher and has just experienced something awful at work. She finds a leaflet about a house swap and encourages Jamie to house swap with another couple in Cornwall. She thinks a getaway will help them connect once more and get away from their troubles. Immediately, things start going wrong. Libby doesn’t know if she’s just paranoid or if there’s something more sinister going on.

I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t see where it was going and the twist was so incredibly well crafted. I loved how the story was split into parts and when the twist was revealed it was intrigued to read about what had happened in the past that led Libby to where she was. I didn’t see it coming. Claire Douglas has created such a tense atmosphere in this story. I didn’t feel like I fully trusted any character as I was so suspicious of them all.

I highly recommend picking up this book if you’re into thrillers. It’s not one to miss.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A twisty, tense thriller. I loved it!