Mini-Review: The Killer in Me, Margot Harrison (2016)

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017


three out of five stars

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

(Synopsis via Goodreads.)

DNF at 64%.

Honestly, I just found this book underwhelming. Perhaps my boredom was mainly due to the curse of misplaced expectations: I pictured an antihero in the vein of Alex Craft, but what we get is an indecisive, somewhat timid, and blandly average teenage girl. You know, except for the serial killer whose mind she shares when dreaming.

Making matters worse is the introduction of Nina’s childhood friend/teenage drug dealer, Warren. The story is told from their alternating perspectives, even though Warren really doesn’t add much to the narrative. He has even less of a personality than Nina, and there’s absolutely zero chemistry between the two (though I assume they hook up by the end of the book).

He’s also the one who tries to rationalize Nina’s visions, leading to scene after tedious scene of self-doubt. This also gives rise to some weird plot stuff; for example, even though there’s never been any question in Nina’s mind that her connection to Dylan only goes one way, she sets up a series of tests to see if she can trick him into acknowledging her existence. Like, why though? They…don’t prove anything?

Anyway, the book isn’t terrible; I just couldn’t bring myself to care enough about anyone to finish it. I think if you shaved 100 pages off you’d have a much more tense and compelling psychological thriller.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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Mini-Review: A Tale of Two Mommies, Vanita Oelschlager & Mike Blanc (2013)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Family is as Family Does

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book from review through NetGalley.)

If you have a momma and a mommy, who fixes things when they break?

Oh, Mommy has all the tools. There’s nothing she can’t fix or make.

The young and super-adorable protagonist of this picture book lives in a non-traditional family, a same-sex household with two moms. As they play on the beach, his friends ask which of his moms – momma or mommy – help him with various tasks. Just as in a family with one mom and one dad, we come to see that each parent has different strengths and talents: Mommy makes a mean rice and beans, while momma is aces at climbing trees. (But kiddo empties his own pockets, mkay!) Of course, both moms are there when he needs to talk; there’s no shortage of tender loving care in this family.

When I reviewed A Tale of Two Daddies back in April, I hadn’t realized that Oelschlager and Blanc had already written a sequel. Happily, A Tale of Two Mommies shows much greater racial diversity than the original: the MC is a little boy of color, and one of his friends looks to be of Asian descent. (The third member of the trio is a cute little red-headed girl.) The two mommies are presumably white, making this a nice selection for families of interracial adoption, as well as those headed by same-sex couples. It also helps to bust up gender roles, as the moms perform both “masculine” and “feminine” tasks.

Of course, this isn’t to suggest that A Tale of Two Mommies is just for adopted kids or LGBTQ families: children from all backgrounds can benefit from its simple yet compassionate message. Non-traditional families are just like yours, at least in the ways that count most.

As a vegan, I could have done without the panel on fishing, but otherwise I recommend A Tale of Two Mommies wholeheartedly.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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