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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 2018-11-08 08:42
Paper birds by: sparklingice
Paper birds - sparklingice

A beautifully written fanfic from new author sparklingice, full of feels and angst. Sam and Dean grow up in the care system believing they are brothers, suffering through abuse until finding a permanent home.

Source: archiveofourown.org/works/14954312
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review 2018-11-06 02:54
Rites of Winter (Inheritance #6)
Rites of Winter - Amelia Faulkner

This is the first book in a new "season" and it shows. (I didn't steal that line from Elena! She just got to her review first.) ;)

 

It was nice to pick up more or less where the previous book ended, and to see Laurence and Quentin start to work on some of their issues. Quentin especially is messed up from the events of the previous book, but Laurence has his own hangups he needs to work out too. I really would've liked to see more emphasis made on their emotional and psychological trauma, but that was mostly skimmed over in favor of focusing on their sex life. Which is also important because of what Quentin was forced to remember in the last book, and I don't want to discount that. I'm happy none of that caused a backslide. 

 

But look, I don't like D/s at all and this is getting very close to bordering on that and has been steadily going in that direction for awhile. I also have no idea what's supposed to be so sexy about mesh shirts. To me, they look like an overenthusiastic cat attacked someone's wardrobe. So none of this was working for me, and for it being such an important part of their relationship development it left me cold. Add onto that Laurence wondering when the hell he became so submissive and the theory I've been working with since the end of the second book, and this all gets unfortunately cringe-worthy. I could be totally off with my theory, but there is no way for me to know that at this point. All that combined means their sex scenes are the equivalent of dumping me into the Arctic Ocean.

 

The plot itself is well done and paced, and it was good to see more of Otherworld and see the various ways that fantasy and magic blend together in this world. I did think there was a little too much focus on the action at times, when it would've been nicer to see the emotional tolls some more. I'm not really sure what to make of Basil or Jon at this point, since they're not given much dimension. They're interesting though and I'm looking forward to seeing what they bring to the mix in the future.

 

There were a few missing words in this one, and one chapter's formatting was just wonky - but readable. I also don't remember Laurence being so excessive with the "baby" endearments in past books. I'm not one to quibble over that word like others are, but even I wanted to cast it into the fires of Mt. Doom after the third or fourth chapter.

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quote 2018-11-04 11:09
“I’ve always seen you, angel. From the moment you found me, I’ve seen nothing but you.”
Bared to You - Sylvia Day

~~ Bared To You by Sylvia Day

(Crossfire series, book #1)

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review 2018-10-23 02:37
ARC Review: Adder And Willow (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #6) by Sam Burns
Adder And Willow - Sam Burns

This series just keeps getting better, with every new book the author releases.

Adder And Willow is the 6th book in the series, and the third book of the 2nd trilogy, in which we catch up with Fletcher and Conner, whose relationship is still growing.

Now Conner's mother and step-father are coming to visit, and Fletcher is dreading meeting them. Not because he doesn't want to meet his boyfriend's parents, but because he's a terrible liar, and he knows that he's no good at keeping secrets. And the supernatural parts of himself and Rowan Harbor must be kept secret from outsiders.

Fletcher is also having meetings with Oak, the Dryad, who have been working with Fletcher to continue the training his mother couldn't. It is during one of these meetings that Fletcher finds out something he may have already sort of known, but that might put his future with Conner in danger.

And, as if that isn't enough on his plate, he also stumbles across two strangers in a stranded car, a mother and son, who are intrinsically linked to Rowan Harbor.

I just adore this series. The characters are complex and fully fleshed out, and each one is so different. There is never any confusing one character with another, because they all have different personalities. Fletcher may be one of my favorites, because while he's timid to some extent, and not assertive, he has much more steel in his backbone than he realizes. 

Conner is still growing into his new powers (you'll have to read the previous book to find out about that), and he's going to be tested here.

What also stands out about the characters is how they're all connected - not only because of their supernatural powers, but also because they feel like family, and they treat each other that way. They stick together, they stick up for each other, and they work together for the common good. 

The book is alternately humorous and serious. There is action, there is danger, and there are sweet moments between Fletcher and Conner that really cement their relationship. 

This series cannot be read out of order - each subsequent book builds on its predecessor - however, each book does end in a satisfying way. There are no cliffhangers. 

The writing style of this author really works for me, and I flew through the pages. 

Recommended! 



** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of this review tour, in exchange for an honest review. **

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