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review 2018-11-20 14:37
Domestic noir, dark humour, and a fantastic new voice
My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

Thanks to NetGalley and to Atlantic Books (Doubleday) for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

The title of this book hooked me. The fact that it was set in Lagos, Nigeria, made it more attractive. I could not resist the cover. And then I started reading and got hit by this first paragraph:

“Ayoola summons me with these words —Korede, I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again.”

Told in the first person by Korede, the book narrates her story and that of her “complex” relationship with her younger sister, Ayoola, beautiful, graceful, a successful designer, beloved of social media, irresistible to men, the favourite of everybody… She’s almost perfect. But, there is a big but, which you will have guessed from the title. She is a serial killer.

This is a short and very funny book, although it requires a certain kind of sense of humour on the part of the reader. You need to be able to appreciate sarcasm and dark humour (very dark) to find it funny, but if you do, this is a fresh voice and a different take on what has become an extremely popular genre recently, domestic noir. I kept thinking about the many novels I had read where I had commented on the setting of the book and how well the author had captured it. There are no lengthy descriptions in this novel, but it manages to capture the beat and the rhythm of Lagos (a place where I’ve never been, I must admit) and makes us appreciate what life must be like for the protagonists. Because, although Ayoola is a murderer, life goes on, and Korede has to keep working as a nurse, she is still in love (or so she thinks) with one of the doctors at the hospital, their mother still suffers from her headaches, Ayoola wants to carry on posting on Snapchat, the patient in coma Korede confides in needs to be looked after, the police need to be seen to be doing something, and there are more men keen on spending time with beautiful Ayoola…

I found Korede understandable, although I doubt that we are meant to empathise with her full-heartedly. At some points, she seems to be a victim, trapped in a situation she has no control over. At others, we realise that we only have her own opinion of her sister’s behaviour, and she has enabled the murderous activities of her sibling, in a strange symbiotic relationship where neither one of them can imagine life without the other. We learn of their traumatic past, and we can’t help but wonder what would we do faced with such a situation? If your sister was a psychopath (not a real psychiatric diagnosis, but I’m sure she’d score quite high in the psychopathy scale if her sister’s description is accurate) who kept getting into trouble, always blaming it on others, would you believe her and support her? Would you help her hide her crimes? Is blood stronger than everything else?

I loved the setting, the wonderful little scenes (like when Tade, the attractive doctor, sings and the whole city stops to listen, or when the police take away Korede’s car to submit it to forensic testing and then make her pay to return it to her, all dirty and in disarray), the voice of the narrator and her approach to things (very matter-of-fact, fully acknowledging her weaknesses, her less-than-endearing personality, sometimes lacking in insight  but also caring and reflective at times), and the ending as well. I also enjoyed the writing style. Short chapters, peppered with Yoruba terms, vivid and engaging, it flows well and it makes it feel even briefer than it is.

If you enjoy books with a strong sense of morality and providing deep lessons, this novel is not for you. Good and bad are not black and white in this novel, and there is an undercurrent of flippancy about the subject that might appeal to fans of Dexter more than to those who love conventional thrillers or mysteries. But if you want to discover a fresh new voice, love black humour, and are looking for an unusual setting, give it a go. I challenge you to check a sample and see…

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text 2018-10-29 11:00
Blog Tour with Excerpt! Miss Management (The Anderson Family #2) Traci Highland!

 

 

Title: MISS MANAGEMENT
Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy

 

 

BOOK BLURB:

 

Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she's lost her job, any hope for references, and she's going to run out of money.... fast.

 

Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.  

 

Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.

 

Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.  

 

Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.

 

 

Add to your shelves at –

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40726714-miss-management

 

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/books/miss-management-anderson-family-series-book-2-by-traci-highland

 

 

 

Miss Management is the 2nd book in the Anderson Family Series –

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B07FD5NZZV/ref=dp_st_1717866840

 

 

0 Miss Camp
1 Miss Behave
2 Miss Management

 

 


AVAILABLE in print or ebook at –

 

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Miss-Management-Anderson-Family-Book-ebook/dp/B07F66C6QH/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

 

 

Aunt Elise’s house, a tidy little Victorian painted white with blue shutters and a red door, looks like a gingerbread house about to collapse. Sure, it’s clean or whatever. But it’s old and sinking on one side. She invited me for lunch after I got back from the bank yesterday, and after a night spent drinking beer and trolling through online job postings, and then spending the morning drinking coffee and trolling through more job listings, the invitation to drive on out into the Berkshires and have an excuse to see the sun is actually kind of nice. The Berkshires is about as far as I can drive at any given time, given, well, anyway. It’s nice to get out.

 

I knock and Elise opens the door. “What the hell is that in the driveway? I didn’t recognize it.”

 

“It’s my Prius, Elise. I’ve been driving it for four years now.”

 

“What happened to the pick-up truck? I thought you liked to drive pick-ups.”

 

“I crashed that pick-up, Aunt Elise.” She furrows her brow. “It was on the news, remember? I sort of accidentally ran over a mailbox. And some hedges. And an arbor.”

 

“Oh yes, the mistress’, right? Now I remember.”

 

“One of the mistresses.” My husband of the time had many. But I had been friends with Shawna. “I hit some black ice.”

 

She harrumphs.

 

The police also harrumphed when I told them about the black ice, as I recall.

“I always hoped you were a lesbian, you know. With that truck.”

 

“Not all lesbians have trucks.”

 

“No, but the fun ones do. Have you met Sharon and Hazel down the block? Lovely couple. Hazel drives a truck and—“

 

“Can I come in? It’s starting to rain.”

 

She pulls the door back further and ushers me inside. The house is a tea-party nightmare. Shelves filled with teapots and chubby figurines pucker up at the flowered wallpaper in the hallway. The rug of the adjacent living room is the color of cotton candy and I swear my stomach growls every time I see it.

 

I brush the plaques of inspirational sayings out of the way as I hang up my coat on the coat rack.

 

She stomps like a thin Godzilla back to the kitchen, causing the house to shudder and clink in alarm. “You’re in luck, I just made some chicken salad.”

 

“Sounds great.” I follow her into the kitchen and sit at the table with a sigh.

 

“I have a job for you.”

 

“Is that door still crooked? I thought for sure that tightening the hinges would do the trick.”

 

“No, I mean a real job.” Elise places a colorful bowl down in the middle of the table and glares. Sealing her lips with some sort of judgmental superglue, she waits.

 

Oh, right. The hands. I go over to the sink and wash my hands. She’s got this thing about germs. Betty and I used to mess with her when we came over, going over to the sink and putting our hands together so that she would wash one of my hands and I would wash one of hers and then we’d wait to see if Elise would notice that we each still had one dirty hand.

 

She did.

 

Always.

 

As twins, Betty and I were convinced that we were supposed to be born with some kind of twin-specific super-power, but really the only thing we were consistently good at was making our baby sister Piper laugh so hard that milk would shoot out of her nose.

 

That was another trick that Aunt Elise didn’t find to be particularly endearing.

After I dry my hands and grab the loaf of bread out of the breadbox, I say, “All right, so what kind of job are we talking about? And please don’t mention the one in the woodchuck town.”

 

“What do you have against woodchucks?”

 

“Sweet Romany Halls! I don’t have anything against woodchucks, I don’t can’t

work in a town that worships vermin, that’s all.”

 

“Fine. But please don’t take Romany’s name in vain.”

 

Romany Halls is a professional wrestler that Aunt Elise has a crush on. One night when I was over doing some repair work for her I heard her swearing at the television set. And I mean full-on swearing. Aunt Elise never swears, at least not that I’ve ever heard. As I walked into the guest bedroom to make sure she was okay, I realized that she not only was watching television in her guest bedroom, which was odd, but that the walls of the bedroom were covered in posters of one very muscled wrestler wearing not-so-many articles of clothing. It was like an homage to all that was masculine and spandexy.

 

Whenever it’s just the two of us, I feel obligated to tease her about her crush and her shrine to the glory that is Romany Halls. Me? I don’t so much dig the guys with eye makeup thing. But Elise, well, Elise seemed to like them big, oiled up, and wearing nothing more than colorful underwear.

 

“So this job?” I grab a spoon and scoop out the chicken salad.

 

“It’s for a friend of mine, actually. Very nice. Her name is Eve and she needs help with Mansfield.”

 

“Mansfield? That’s quite a name. What happen, did he have a stroke? Car accident? Cancer?”

 

“I don’t know. But she has put out several ads in the paper and everyone who shows up to check on Mansfield apparently refuses to treat him.”

 

“Refuses to treat him? That’s horrible. Why doesn’t she take him to a clinic? If he’s rehabbing, a facility is probably better equipped than her house.”

 

“She says that he can’t travel to a clinic. He must be in pretty bad shape.”

 

“Have you ever met him?”

 

“No, I know Eve from college. She comes down sometimes, and I’ve met her grandson a few times. Lovely boy. But I haven’t met Mansfield.”

 

“Is she nearby? Can I pop over there today and see what’s going on?” I really need a job.

 

“She’s up in Vermont. But last time I spoke with her on the phone she mentioned that she has a guest cottage you can stay in when you come. I guess she has a lot of land.”

 

“Wait—you already told her I would go?”

 

“Of course you’ll go.”

 

“You know that time you asked me to tell you when you were overstepping some boundaries? Consider them overstepped.”

 

She takes a bite of her sandwich, her eyes demanding from over the top of her bread.

 

I chew my bite of sandwich, taking time in savoring the flavors of Aunt Elise’s chicken salad, just to make her sweat for a bit. I close my eyes, exaggerating the chew.

 

When I open them again her eyes are no less stern as she wipes the side of her mouth with a hot pink napkin.

 

Damn. She’s not sweating this at all, is she? Not even a little bit.
“Fine. I’ll go. This is a paid job, right?”

 

“Good. And yes, of course, provided you don’t walk away like those others.”

 

“Speech pathologists don’t usually make house-calls. I’d imagine that the other folks just tried to convince your friend to take Mansfield to a proper rehab facility.”

“Try not to be so judgmental before you even get there.”

 

“I’m not being judgmental.” Maybe a little. “He should be where he can get the best care, and that’s not always at home.”

 

“Eve and I went to Smith together, Mags. I’ve known her for years and years. Trust me, if she’s determined that the best place for him to be is at home with her, then she’s right. Period.”

 

“When did you tell Eve I’d be there?”

 

“Tomorrow. It’s going to be a great job for you. You’ll see.”

 

Tomorrow. Of course.

 

 


Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University. She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams. Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

 

 

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

 

Website - http://www.tracihighland.com/

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/TraciHighland

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TraciHighland/

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/traci-highland

 

 


HOSTED BY

 

 

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/

 

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review 2018-10-27 18:25
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)

 

I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.

 

Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.

 

Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.

 

I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.

 

If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).

 

Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.

 

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text 2018-10-25 20:34
Reading progress update: I've read 505 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen Mandelbaum

I get the "pointing him away form the carnal to the spiritual" thing, but Beatrice's rant over Dante looking toward other women after her death sounded downright bitchy to me (it's been 10 years woman!).

 

I found Inferno a lot more engaging than Purgatory on the whole, but the symmetry between the two is interesting, as is the fact that the punishments are not that much lighter in corresponding sins and circles, but for the hope.

 

What I am wondering, given the correspondence where repentance makes the difference between up or down, is whether not even repentance can wash fraud and betrayal in this cosmology.

 

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text 2018-10-25 11:00
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