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review 2019-03-29 16:49
Dark comedy about ‘adulting’ - the banality of office work and modern life are very real in this one, so watch out!
The New Me - Halle Butler

Millie is thirty years old and spends her days going to a thankless temp job at a designer furniture showroom, watching episodes of Forensic Files on her laptop, and fantasizing about what her new life would actually look like if she actually pulled herself together. She has a friend who is shallow and doesn’t really listen to her, an ex she thinks about too much, and all sorts of ideas for what her life will be like if the temp job becomes permanent. 

 

‘The New Me’ is a perfect satiric send-up of all those little insecurities that have glimmered in the minds of many of us, and its glaring honesty is on every single page, and it’s also pretty funny. While the book is not an actual ‘stream of consciousness,’ it’s written in a way that demonstrates the way that Millie’s thoughts run from one to another, the way that one anxiety leads to another; this is the absolute genius of this short book, and it reads like the mind of a person trying to figure her crap out (and generally not managing to do so). Not everyone will jive will this style of writing though.

The situations Millie finds herself in, like standing in the break room at work, or being at a party, and dissecting what’s going on, it’s all written so well, and it’s startling and frustrating and even maddening. There are also times when she’s completely oblivious to what is going on around her and she has high hopes for her future; at one point she’s completely got her head in the clouds and gets it all wrong. 

 

The banality of office work and modern life feature prominently and author Halle Butler paints a pretty depressing picture of it, and she does it so well it’s frightening. Fortunately for Millie, to balance out the uncertainty of work and the emptiness of a false friendship with Sarah, she has loving parents (the scenes with them are lovely) and they are very much her anchors.

 

In the past, back in my twenties in between freelance film gigs, I did some temp and call center work of my own; this book very much brought back some miserable memories of that time for me. No wonder Millie does so much drinking

This is such a clever little book, honest if depressing, funny although somewhat cautionary (shred the paper when you’re asked to). Definitely a dark comedy.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36342706-the-new-me
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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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review 2017-05-07 23:08
Toni FGMAMTC's Reviews > Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut

This book is a crazy, seeming to head in all different directions. It covers a lot of social issues and much is about free will. It kind of makes fun of everything and is pretty 'out there' a lot. The way it is highlights how ridiculous things are in real life.

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review 2016-09-26 16:16
Book Review and Link to Free Sample - No Idea by Si Page

Free Sample

 

A free sample is currently available on Kindle Scout for anyone who is interested. If you like it, please can I ask you to consider voting for this author to get a publishing contract with Amazon. It's really easy, just click the blue 'Nominate me' button and log into your Amazon account. With only 5 days left, I'd love to help him achieve his dream. Cheers folks :-)

 

 

My Review

 

I loved this book!

 

No Idea is a mystery romance, which is both thought provoking and emotional in places. With a great mix of characters, humour, adventure and an interesting twister of a plot, I think this would make a great TV mystery drama series.

 

This book takes the reader on a journey, as Rob Wise (or should that be not-so-wise, seeing as he seems to have no idea about a lot of things in his life), experiences transition and self-improvement on a personal, professional and spiritual level. Covering as far back as Rob’s childhood, there is a hint of coming-of-age to this storyline, although the main focus is on Rob’s life as an adult.

 

The reader enters Rob’s life when it has pretty much hit rock bottom. The way he was living with his housemates made me think of a cross between Trainspotting and Spike (the bloke in pants) in Notting Hill. Rob has SAD, which is a form of depression and has lost all motivation. He has no idea what he is about to face and how much his life is about to change.

 

This story keeps you guessing throughout. Initially, I had no idea where the story was going to take me, but then things started to take shape, and I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then something would be thrown in to the mix which left me with no idea where the story was going all over again. I think the title, No Idea is great, as it not only reflects Rob’s life, but also the reader’s experience of the story and nothing being quite as it seems.

 

If you fancy a book that has you giggling, gasping and guessing, then this is probably the book for you.

 

I would like to thank the author for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Author Links

 

Author Website

 

Goodreads

 

Amazon UK

 

Eager to read more by this author while you wait for No Idea to be published?

Check out my 5 star review of Missing Gretyl on Goodreads

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review 2016-02-16 03:51
Perfect Days
Perfect Days: A Novel - Raphael Montes
ISBN: 9781594206405
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: 2/16/2016
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 3 Stars 

A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

PERFECT DAYS, a satirical/comical psychological thriller by Brazilian novelist and lawyer, Raphael Montes –a dark and creepy game cat and mouse. Which one will win? Will the tables be turned?

SHOCK FACTOR HIGH! The subjective measure of the psychological "impact" of any given event.

"There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness. "–Friedrich Nietzsche

Teo (Theodoro) is a medical student. He wants to be a pathologist. He is comfortable with the dead and the corpse, Gertrude. Teo is not intimidated. The anatomy lab is his domain. He likes the smell of formaldehyde, the instruments in his gloved hands, and he likes having Gertrude on the table. He enjoys her company.

His imagination knows no bounds. They had grown closer over the course of the semester. He respected her. She had died of extraordinary causes. Gertrude perhaps would have taught him how to live. He felt like avenging Gertrude.

He wasn’t a murderer nor a monster, even though he felt like one. He did not like anyone. He just lived. Teo lives with his paraplegic mother, Patricia and her dog in Rio. The wheelchair was part of their everyday life. His mom wants him to attend a BBQ and he says he is a vegetarian.

He attends, and meets Clarice. Well dressed, not exactly beautiful, exotic perhaps. She is studying art at university and interested in screenwriting. She is working on a screenplay called Perfect Days, a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. Amanda, Priscilla, and Carol.

You guessed it “Teo becomes obsessed.” Stalking. She rejects him. She tells him he is not her type. They can be friends. She does not want him to bother her, call her, follow her, or buy her presents.

With a sociopath —they do not take rejection well. So he takes matters in his own hands, hits her, and puts her in a suitcase and off they go. Drugs, kidnaps, and holds her captive. Two pink Samsonite suitcases. He now is a criminal. He just wanted the best for her. It was not pre-meditated, of course.

What if she did not forgive him? He saw her as a diamond in the rough. After all, he was a man of many qualities. Well-educated, with a future. He would be a good father, and a good husband. He is delusional.

He would travel with Clarice to Teresopolis and slowly win her over. Let the games begin. He will stop at nothing to get his girl, and remove anyone who gets in the way. After all, there was something magical about what they were doing; packing bags, following an itinerary laid out in a screenplay.

They were probing fiction and building a new reality, their own reality. Teo is determined to win in the end--and he, may just pull it off-like a rock star.

Twisted, wacky, psycho, crazy, creepy, and chilling. Readers will be reminded of Caroline Kepnes' You and Hidden Bodiescharacter, Joe Goldberg (in more ways than one). In fact, Clarice would be a good match for Joe. If you like dark and witty, in the theme of Norman Bates and Patricia Highsmith —you will delight in Montes' bizarre creation.
Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Perfect-Days/cmoa/569038af0cf2a5b1e923cc8e
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