Saturday, August 6, 2022

Book Review: In The Dark We Forget

Two in one day, who 'dis? I know, I've finished a few books kind of all at the same time so I'm getting them out to you before I forget all about them. (I'm absolutely guilty of that and it's terrible!)

In the Dark We Forget - Sandra S.G. Wong

A jolting psychological suspense novel from an up-and-coming Chinese-Canadian crime writer about missing parents, a winning lottery ticket and the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive.

Some things are better left forgotten . . .

When a woman wakes up with amnesia beside a mountain highway, confused and alone, she fights to regain her identity, only to learn that her parents have disappeared—not long after her mother bought a winning $47 million lottery ticket.

As her memories painfully resurface and the police uncover details of her parents’ mysterious disappearance, Cleo Li finds herself under increasing suspicion. Even with the unwavering support of her brother, she can’t quite reconcile her fears with reality or keep the harrowing nightmares at bay.

As Cleo delves deeper for the truth, she cannot escape the nagging sense that maybe the person she should be afraid herself.

With jolting revelations and taut ambiguity, In the Dark We Forget vividly examines the complexities of family—and the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive.

What interested me in this book originally was the concept of a main character having amnesia and trying so hard to get back any kind of memory back. As someone who actually has short term (and some long term) memory loss, the feeling of not being able to remember key events in your life is really unsettling. It's creepy and actually kind of scary. You have to trust what other people say, and the information they give you, and it could be completely wrong. The vulnerability in that is scary. 

In this book, we have Cleo, who literally wakes up in the middle of a gravel road and she knows she's been teh victim of something violent. Where she is, how she got there, why, but also who she is all information she does not know and she is tasked with figuring that out. It turns out she isn't the kind of person to rely on others, but being a Chinese-Canadian woman, in the middle of nowhere Canada makes her an outsider of sorts. She quickly finds commonality with an officer of sorts who agrees to help her out. Of course though, how easily would you believe someone who can't tell you where they are or how they got here, but oh yeah, has no idea who they are? I think any of us would have a healthy amount of doubt.  

Once we start unraveling this crazy ball, we start getting small pieces of the story at a time. We meet Cleo's brother and sister in law (both of which you never really get a good feeling from), you find out Cleo's parents won some crazy lottery, and as the story goes on more and more starts coming out all of my original theories were being tossed out one by one. 

I will say, I was starting to figure it out, and I felt like the author kind of pooped out. I was really expecting a more major bang at the end. It is a debut thriller from Sandra S. G. Wong and I was hooked on this one so I will absolutely read the next book she gives us. Can we also get excited about a Canada based novel? I feel like I've read books from lots of other countries but I truly can't think of one set in Canada. I also love the diversity of the characters but also like the inclusion of how that diversity would affect how authorities would treat them. 

Overall? I really liked this one and I'm really looking forward to the next book from Sandra S.G. Wong. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review!  

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Book Review: The Craigslist Incident

I am trying to really catch up on reviews, but I also have some fun family things to post about soon, so I've got lots to do. The rest of our summer looks pretty lame, but I'm trying to squeeze one or two more fun things into this last month. Stay tuned!

The Craigslist Incident - Jason Fisk

In The Craigslist Incident, Edna Barrett takes an advertisement out on Craigslist: I’m an 18-year-old female and I want to take a hit out on myself. Joe Dolsen, a 20-year-old who has suffered from periodic blackouts his whole life, answers the ad. What would bring two people to such ominous points at such young ages, and will they actually go through with it?
OK, wow. This book was actually an emotional gut punch that I wasn't at all expecting. I knew going in these two characters have heavy backstories, but I thought it would get lighter and almost a happily ever after, you know? Turns out that isn't it at all. Edna and Joe each have their own awful backstories so you find yourself rooting for them because surely it can't get worse, right? 

Well, turns out it actually can. The book features mental health struggles, and completely dysfunctional families, and you know it has to be bad if an 18 year old young woman takes an ad out to have a hitman end her life. I mean... think about that. Enter a 20 year old guy, definitely not in a great place himself, decides that yup- he can totally do this job. The story sounds completely bananas at this point but it gets even more bizarre and I found myself just so sad, and upset for each of them, and I just kept hoping somehow this would all turn around for everyone. 

As a mom, this story broke my heart. As someone who struggles with mental health myself, and I've battled thoughts of suicide at different points in my life, I could relate and understand the feels Edna had. I will say for a book that doesn't even come in at 250 pages, there was so much packed in, but done very well. 

There are some triggers which readers need to know about, and those include abuse and rape, and obviously suicide. Interestingly though, there are two endings for this book. I actually have only read one other book like that before, but this one is almost like a choose-your-own-ending book from our childhood. I felt like that really enhanced the book for me, even though I already really liked this one. I definitely want to read more from Jason Fisk, I'm already anxiously awaiting the next book. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour! If you're looking for something a little offbeat, a little different, I definitely think this is one you should be looking at. 

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Monday, August 1, 2022

Book Review: First Bride to Fall

We had a pretty great weekend doing a staycation (kind of) with friends instead of a our usual road trip. I'll share more about that later, also Lucy's birthday. She's six now and I'm in my feels. 

First Bride to Fall - Ginny Baird

Nell Delaney will do almost anything for her parents and her two sisters. But enter a marriage of convenience to save the family’s coffee shop? Too far. So Nell and her sisters strike a deal: whoever hasn’t found love in thirty days has to step up to take one for the team. The good news? Nell knows the perfect guy to fall in love with. The bad news? She’s going to have to pretend she likes the outdoors…a lot.

Adventure guide Grant Williams knows immediately that Nell is not exactly Little Miss Outdoorsy. She’s a walking natural disaster—an amazingly adorable disaster. And whoa, their chemistry is unbelievable. Everything between them is so perfect, he’s not even a little bit shocked when he starts thinking of forever…

Right up until he catches the town gossiping about the Delaney sisters’ bargain and realizes she’s just using him to win a bet. Unfortunately, his family’s unreliable reputation means he can’t just dump one of the town’s sweethearts. No, she needs to dump him. If she’s going to pretend to be the perfect doting bride, well, he’ll just pretend to be the worst bachelor on the market.

Let the games begin…
I have a love hate relationship with the fake relationship trope, but this one was a fun read. Instead of a fake romance between people who don't like each other to start, this is one where Nell, our main character, has had a crush on Grant for quite awhile, so this isn't really a hardship for her. Bonus points are that it's the start of a new series, which I'm excited for, but also if you're looking for a clean romance, this is a good pick. Think Hallmark movie, so it isn't realistic so much, but it's sweet and fun. I did enjoy the humor throughout, I always appreciate a romance with some humor, especially when I'm in the mood for a palate cleanser, so to speak.  

My only issue was it's another book with miscommunication at the core. I feel like that theme has been beaten to death and I always enjoy a book with characters who communicate. Let's normalize that, you know? Overall though, I really enjoyed this one, it was exactly what I needed after a series of thrillers. It's light and fun, the absolute definition of a rom-com! It's my first read from Ginny Baird, but it definitely won't be my last, I really enjoyed her writing style. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review! 
This post contains affiliate links.