Thursday, October 7, 2021

ARC Review: My Sweet Girl

 



I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

This is the definition of a haunting read.

Paloma was plucked from a Sri Lankan orphanage and taken to America, her new parents promising everything she and the other girls had always dreamed of. But now an adult Paloma is estranged from her supposed saviours, viewed as a disappointment by everyone who knows her, and threatened by the man subletting in her apartment, who has discovered her deepest most devestating secret.

But when that man is found dead by Paloma in her apartment, and then the body and blood disappear by the time the police arrive, Paloma feels the increasingly creeping dread that her past has come back to find her and this time it's not letting go.

What's especially eerie with this unreliable narrator is that sometimes even she isn't sure how unreliable she is. Is she really seeing the terrifying ghost of her childhood? Why doesn't she remember strange actions others swear they saw her do? Is it the drinking or something else? 

Then there are the things we readers know Paloma isn't telling us, in particular the overhanging life changing shattering secret that keeps being mentioned but never told. And I have to admit, when that secret was revealed, I was completely shaken. I never saw it coming, and everything that it meant just ripped everything that had come before out at the foundations. I'm honestly still thinking about those last few chapters and what they meant.

I would definitely recommend this book. It's eerie, it's an unreliable narrator who can't even trust herself, it's a giant secret from the past slowly brought into the light through tense flashbacks. It's a social commentary on what it means to be seen as a "brown person" an "Indian person" by those around you who don't try to know any better, it's seemingly small lies that shock when the truth behind them is finally revealed. It's women's faces in the windows in the pitch black night and the knowledge that maybe that ghost story from your childhood just might be real and looking straight back at you.


Sunday, September 12, 2021

ARC Review: How to Kill Your Best Friend

 


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

In How to Kill Your Best Friend, a group of long-time friends, brought together by a passion for swimming, gathers to memoralize a murdered member of their group, Lissa. Staying at a failing island resort, quickly emptying of all other guests, Georgie and Bron become aware that something else beyond a funeral is going on, and that there might be more deaths before the trip is over.

The tension is high from the very beginning, when a main character shows up dressed the complete opposite of the funeral's requested dress code. Readers learn more about what has happened through the eyes of the deceased's best friend, Georgie, who was not present at the last group reunion, and so has a lot of questions she needs answers to. Georgie and another friend, Bron, take turns as the first person narrator and guide for readers, as they try to stay safe and determine what exactly is occurring and why.

It's a great premise, and there's definitely a lot of suspense. Elliott knows how to write well, that's for sure. But the main big twist just didn't completely work for me personally. It fell a little flat with all the build up that had come before. The second big twist however, which readers don't find out until the very end, was a huge surprise and brilliantly done.



Sunday, August 29, 2021

ARC Review: The Dead and the Dark

 


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Ashley Barton's boyfriend is missing, but she's seeing his ghost everywhere. Logan Ortiz-Woodley's dads are ghost hunters with a highly successful TV show. And Snakebite, Oregon is the small town full of darkness that brings them all together. 

This is a stunningly written, haunting, heartbreaking, hopeful read. Gould creates such a frightening eerie atmosphere hanging over every word, and her characters are so compelling and complex. There are so many different kinds of relationships explored within the story: the hope of the deep developing feelings between Ashley and Logan, the established deep love between Logan's dads, the undying but complicated bond between parents and their children, the ties to childhood friends and the love we so desperately try to make ourselves feel.

I absolutely recommend getting a copy of this book and diving straight in. While it would be a great spooky October read, it's well worth reading right now. I know I couldn't wait.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

ARC Review: Lake Crescent

 


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

In Newfoundland to film the latest episode of their cryptozoological documentary series, Laura is ready for a great shoot, without any distractions getting in the way. But things are already starting to fall off the rails even before the dead body turns up.

Cressie, the giant eel Laura and her team are searching for, is very cool and very fascinating. I loved how Dupuis weaved in quotes from other sources at the beginning of every chapter. I also really enjoyed learning about the science behind how and why a creature could grow to such an unusually enormous size, and the mythology that the townspeople had weaved around supposed sightings and experiences.

This is a slower moving book, which actually worked really well for me here. I kind of just got swept up in the minutiae of the search, and the small town cold weather vibe, and let myself enjoy the ride. When the ending happens and events start happening really fast, the previously slower nature just adds to the punch of the final incidents and reveals.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

ARC Review: For Your Own Good

 


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

I have been really excited about this book since I first heard about it, and it definitely lived up the hype and even surpassed my expectations.

For Your Own Good is set in an elite private school, with lots of hidden secrets (and everyone trying to find out those secrets), mysterious deaths, and complicated characters. Readers get put in the heads of a lot of different people, but each character is distinct and fascinating in their own right.

And the twists! So many twists, so many reveals, and I don't think I saw a single one coming, though every single one made sense looking back and was essential to the plot moving forward.

Every choice in this book felt like Downing made it very deliberately, and it shows. I definitely recommend this book, and absolutely intend to go read Downing's previous work now too.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

ARC Review: Golden Boy

 



I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Golden Boy tells the truly harrowing tale of Thomas Gilbert Jr., who shot and killed his own father. That he committed the crime was not in dispute; however, if he was legally insane when he did it is the source of intense media speculation and endless debates in the courtroom.

That is what Grant expertly explores in this book. Gilbert Jr. was born into an extravagant and privileged life, where he was still receiving an allowance from his parents even in his twenties, and many of his shocking or disturbing behaviors were brushed off as eccentricities. Grant examines if this lifestyle actually did him a grave disservice in covering his paranoia, agressive tendencies, and other signs of deep mental illness.

Did not only society, but the very law itself do Gilbert Jr. a great disservice? Should he have been deemed fit to stand trial? What would life have been like if Gilbert Jr. had been able to be helped before he spiraled downward so completely?

Grant does an especially great job of showing both sides of the issue while still highlighting the stigma surrounding mental illness, and the tendency to sweep things under the rug or completely deny they are happening. Golden Boy is a devestating true crime tale that also manages to be a scathing social commentary.

Friday, July 30, 2021

ARC Review: The Last Nomad

 


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

Shugri Said Salh has spun a powerful true tale of her life growing up in Africa, and her journey that eventually led her to have to flee her homeland.

When Salh was six years old, she was sent as an extra daughter to assist her grandmother. Salh's grandmother was a nomad, among the last to truly live that way of life, before political upheaval and truly threatening practices changed everything Salh had ever known. Salh describes this time of her life, not only that of standing guard over her goats and listening to stories shared at night, but including the difficulties women faced-such as being blamed if a man assaulted them and thus took their virginity in the eyes of the community-and the torturous detail of Salh and her sister going through the rite of female circumcision. 

Salh weaves her truth to take readers with her as her father (a frightening and violent figure) makes a series of choices that bring heartache and danger to bear on the family, as they find themselves refugees at an orphange, then fleeing to whatever town they can find that has not been swallowed by war. Salh shows us how she continued to rise from the ashes, to find a fierceness and a light and a strength within herself, and she makes sure to honor all those who gave her hope along the way.