Thursday, March 31, 2016

Conversations With Myself (& Hopefully You): Unreliable Narrators

So if you read my Monday Musts from a few weeks ago, you saw me post about the following segment on NPR regarding unreliable narrators, comparing books written by women and the 'girl' in the title phenomenon of recent thrillers/mysteries.  This segment was also inspired by this really interesting article by Megan Abbott.  I've been thinking about this a lot since I heard this segment so listen to it and read Megan's article then we can discuss:

Unreliable Narrators: YAY or NAY?

There is nothing I dislike more than a book becoming super popular and then every book that may be even tangentially similar being compared to that book.  First, it was Twilight, and when that was an international phenomenon, there was a drove of YA fantasy love triangles written and released, all of which were touted as the next Twilight.  And then it was Fifty Shades of Gray, and I'm sure we all remember all sorts of erotica being published once that book took off, and every single book was described as the next Fifty Shades of Gray.  And now it seems like every book that comes out is either the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train -- there are countless books being described as the next of either or both of these and/or gratuitously using "girl" in the title.  To me, it seems like this phenomenon is more likely to occur when a book written by a woman enjoys enormous success.  I'm not sure why this is but this post is about something common to both Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and which truly seems to be the latest "trend" in books: unreliable narrators that are women, in books written by women, usually of the mystery/thriller genre.

First, let's talk about what it means to be an unreliable narrator.  Wikipedia defines an "unreliable narrator" as:

[A] narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised.  The term was coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction.  While unreliable narrators are almost by definition first-person narrators, arguments have been made for the existence of unreliable second- and third-person narrators, especially within the context of film and television.
Sometimes the narrator's unreliability is made immediately evident. For instance, a story may open with the narrator making a plainly false or delusional claim or admitting to being severely mentally ill, or the story itself may have a frame in which the narrator appears as a character, with clues to the character's unreliability. A more dramatic use of the device delays the revelation until near the story's end. This twist ending forces readers to reconsider their point of view and experience of the story. In some cases the narrator's unreliability is never fully revealed but only hinted at, leaving readers to wonder how much the narrator should be trusted and how the story should be interpreted.
As you can gather in the two articles above, the unreliable female narrator is far from a new concept so why is it now so popular?  I personally love thrillers and and mysteries, and I'm not even sure I can pinpoint a book that I consider the gold standard, but the unreliable narrator is commonly used in this genre.  That being said, I haven't loved a lot of thrillers lately and I think it's because so many of them are suffering from trying to be either the next The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl in their poor usage of an unreliable narrator.  I didn't even like The Girl on the Train but I read it because it was touted as the next big thing and an amazing thriller.  I was actually bored while reading it although I don't generally mind unreliable narrators -- it kind of depends on why they are unreliable for me, which may seem a bit judgmental.  For instance, in The Girl on the Train, the narrator is unreliable because she is usually intoxicated.  That made me a little less interested in her story and her inability to remember what happened because she was always drinking until she blacked out.  This reason for unreliability didn't work for me.  In contrast, in a book like Swerve by Vicki Pettersson, the narrator Kristine was unreliable because she was hiding something about her past.  This worked for me because these secrets were revealed as the novel progressed and Kristine was a fighter versus passive in trying to uncover the mystery despite the fact that we aren't sure what she's hiding about herself for most of the novel.  

There are obviously a lot of differences in all these books being released lately that employee an unreliable female narrator but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't buy into the gimmick that every new thriller released right now is the next, best thing simply because it's written by a woman and is told by an unreliable female narrator.  I have tried countless of these next "girl" thrillers: Try Not To Breathe (suffers from the same unreliable narrator reason as The Girl on a Train - DNF), She's Not There (unreliable narrator hiding her past but mostly because she was in an accident and doesn't remember), The Girl in the Maze (unreliable female narrator that suffers from mental illness but a lot of confusion about what was real) and The Passenger (another unreliable narrator hiding from her past but not very thrilling) and none worked for me, for different reasons.  I need something more in my thriller than the ubiquitous use of unreliable female narrator and that is being thrilled.  If the unreliable narrator gets me there, I'm happy to be along for the ride but let's not call every book that comes out this summer the next anything -- I want a book to stand on its own.

As always, this is just my opinion.  What do you think, do you like unreliable narrators?  How do you feel about every single mystery and/or thriller that comes out being compared to either or both The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl?  What's your favorite thriller?


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright

From Goodreads:
When 30-year-old Anna Ramsey learns that a meth-addicted looter has dug up what might be the funerary mask of Montezuma, she books the next flight to Oaxaca. Determined to redeem her father, a discredited art collector, and to one-up her unfaithful fiancĂ©, a museum curator, Anna hurls herself headlong into Mexico’s underground art world. But others are chasing the treasure as well: the shape-shifting drug lord no one can really describe; the enigmatic American expat, who keeps his art collection locked in a chapel; the former museum director who traffics stolen works, and his housekeeper—deeply religious, a gay woman in a culture of machismo, dependent on a patron she loathes; the painter Salvador on his motorcycle, complex, sensual—but with secrets of his own. 

Anna soon realizes that everyone is masked—some literally, others metaphorically. Indeed, Dancing with the Tiger is a splendid reminder that throughout human history, cultures have revered masks: whether in the theater or in war, for religious purposes, or to conceal identity, masks are as universal as our desire to transform ourselves, to change. Anna, without an ounce of self-pity despite traumatic losses, stands out as a heroine for our times as, traveling alone, she finds the courage to show her true face. 
This one sounds completely unique but also well done and interesting.  Dancing With the Tiger is scheduled to be released on July 12, 2016, and I can't wait to read it!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Review: Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires #12) by Chloe Neill

Blurb from Goodreads:
As the Chicagoland Vampires series continues, Merit and Ethan find themselves in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, where winning may require the ultimate sacrifice...

A vampire’s grudges don’t stay dead long...

Merit is one of Chicago's most skilled vampire warriors; these days, she doesn't scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won't give up until he owns the Windy City.

With his last plan thwarted, he's more determined than ever to watch Cadogan burn. Ethan has put the House's vampires on high alert, but their enemy will stop at nothing, including pitting vampire against vampire...

In this deadly game of cat-and-mouse, the stakes are life or death—and winning might mean sacrificing everything....
My Review:
I can't believe that there is only one book left.  I will say that around books 8-9, I was a bit ready to give up on this series.  Nereyda convinced me to keep going and I'm so glad I did because books 10, 11 and 12 (this one) have reminded me why I love this series.  I can remember reading book #1 in this series for the first time and I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.  It was agony to wait a year for the next book to come out.  It's crazy to think that this entire series really takes place over only the span of one year because so much happens.  Merit has grown so much and the world for supernaturals, especially in Chicago, has changed so much.  All of that being said, Midnight Marked does not disappoint -- Merit is as kick-ass as ever, MEthan is better than ever, Mallory has come into her own as a sorceress and there is plenty of suspense, intrigue, fighting and other supes in the mix.  Regarding the ending, I will just say: !!!!!!!!!!!

Midnight Marked came out earlier this month on March 1, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I just love this series!  I will be very sad when it's over but I am still after that MEthan HEA!
"I love you, Ethan, and I love this city.  And however much I fought, I love this goddamn House.  It's part of me, and I'm part of it.  I'm not going to stand here and watch a man tear down everything that you've build.  I'm not.  And if that means I have to chase another man who threatens this House, or apologize to you more than I like, so be it.  I don't want that, but I can live with it.  Because I can't live without you."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday Musts: The Study of Seduction, RIP Phife Dawg & Favorite Bookish Posts

Monday Musts is a weekly event, started and hosted by Jessica @ Lovin' Los Libros, which asks you to highlight your must read, must listen and must see!

The Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

From Goodreads:
A marriage of convenience ignites into a passionate love affair in the hotly anticipated second novel in New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s addictive Sinful Suitors series!

When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the whip-smart, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife ... if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Too bad he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.

Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for. When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?
ICYMINick let me guest post on her new romance blog and review The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries.  I definitely recommend this one to historical romance fans and I really could not be more grateful to Nick for letting me guest post!!


A Tribe Called Quest - Common Ground (Get It Goin' On)
Gone way too soon, RIP Phife Dawg 

This space is dedicated to my favorite book blog posts every week since I don't do weekly recaps (I don't have the patience) and there are always posts that I LOVE!
What are your Monday Musts??

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht

Blurb from Goodreads:
In the heat of a stifling summer in her sixteenth year, Livy Marko spends her days in the rust-belt town of Lomath, Pennsylvania, babysitting, hanging out with her best friend, Nelson, and waiting for a bigger life to begin. These simple routines are disrupted when the electricity is cut off and the bridges are closed by a horde of police and FBI agents. A fugitive from the Republic of Georgia, on the run from an extradition order, has taken refuge in nearby hills and no one is able to leave or enter Lomath until he is found.As the police fail to find the wanted man and hours stretch into days, the town of Lomath begins to buckle under the strain. Like Russian dolls, each hostage seems to be harboring a captive of their own. Even Livy’s parents may have something to conceal, and Livy must learn that the source of danger is not always what it appears. Rosalie Knecht’s wise and suspenseful debut evokes the classics while conjuring the contemporary paranoia of the post-terrorist age. Relief Map doesn’t loosen its grip until the consequences of this catastrophic summer, and the ways in which a quiet girl’s fate can be rerouted and forever changed, are made fully apparent.
My Review:
I just finished this book as I write this review and don't even know what to say.  The whole time I was reading this, I felt tense and uneasy just like the characters in the book.  To that end, the book was a total success.  But I feel like I am missing something with the plot or the meaning behind the story.  This book could just be a story for the story's sake -- the feeling of being a teenager, making bad decisions and sometimes without a reason but I feel like there must be something else, something more.  I am honestly left with more questions than answers at the conclusion of this and I still feel uneasy.  The idea of being trapped never sounds good and, yet, Livy made things infinitely worse for herself.  The problem is, we don't get much of a sense of Livy before so I don't even know if her actions were out of character or weren't . . . I will say I think this one will stay with me for a while, if only because I still need answers!!

I'm not even sure what genre to put this one in -- there is some mystery, it is as close to YA literary fiction as I've read and, yet, I don't even know if this should be considered YA.  I liked it but I don't know how to recommend it -- if you want to read a well written book and feel tense and confused, this may be for you.  Relief Map is scheduled to be released next Tuesday, March 29, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
She stood on packed earth; the grass grew knee-high beside the bare patch, and each blade of it, each angled stem and puff of seed, was perfectly still.  She began to hear her own blood hissing in her ears.  She looked at the edge of the woods, the field going over the hill, the stand of walnut trees around the bedrock at the top, and none of it scratched out any sound to match the seething in her veins.  Her aliveness was monumental and the world was faint and distant and dark.  
She had been like that for most of her adolescence, vivid to herself with the world muted and blurred around her.  Now the world was thunderous.  She pulled up a blade of grass and chewed on the end of it.  The world was loud and close, and her heart and lungs and brain were a tinny afterthought.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway: The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell

ISBN: 9781492604471
Release date: April 5, 2016
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

About the Book:
When it comes to love, never say never 
When Nancy discovers the expensive jewelry her husband’s been buying isn’t for her, she decamps from the Scottish countryside to her best friend Carmen’s posh Chelsea town house to sort things out. Nancy finds herself in a surprising new world, where rock stars are nicer than you thought, social workers are not necessarily to be trusted, and the filthy rich are folks with problems just like you. Everybody falls in love with the wrong people, and the path to true love twists and turns before you discover who you really want.
Buy THE ONE YOU REALLY WANT by Jill  Mansell:
 Amazon | B&N | BAM | IndieBound

With over 9 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

Connect with Jill Mansell:
 Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Paper Princess (Royal #1) by Erin Watt

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Paper Princess (Royal #1) by Erin Watt

From Goodreads:
From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.  
Erin Watt is the pseudonym for two of my all time favorite NA authors: Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy!  So you can imagine my delight at hearing they were teaming up for one, which sounds amazing!  Paper Princess is scheduled to be released on April 4, 2016, and I can't wait to read it!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Mini Reviews: Little Beach Street Bakery series by Jenny Colgan

Blurb from Goodreads:
Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop. And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread.

But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes.... And people start to hear about it. Sometimes, bread really is life...and Polly is about to reclaim hers.
My Review:
This was a cute read -- I loved the setting and the new beginning aspect of it.  Polly was very likable and I rooted for her to find herself and do well throughout the book.  And, of course, the baking!  The turn this takes definitely isn't predictable and I liked that the focus was as much on Polly as it was on her romantic life.  This was very British (I lived in England for two years) and I would definitely recommend to fans of  Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde (my favorite of these)!!
Polly didn't know how long the kiss lasted.  She didn't know where she was or what she was doing, only that he whole body jumped as if she'd been given an electric shock as soon as their lips met; that instantly, without even thinking about it, she was responding to him., her whole being concentrated on their mouths and their hands and her desperate, sudden urge to press herself to him, to be close to him, to be under his shirt and against his skin, burying her fact in his chest and breathing in the heady sweet scent of him.  She felt greedy, abandoned, completely oblivious to the other people there.

Blurb from Goodreads:
Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn't be happier. Because Polly is in love: she's in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she's in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she's in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there's something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that's floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend's fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he'd left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?
The second book in this series or, really, the sequel to the first book (I do not believe there will be any more) wasn't as successful as the first one.  I don't generally post DNF reviews but I am posting this one because of the dichotomy between the first and second books.  The overarching thing I can say about book #2 is that there was no point -- the author should have stopped at book #1.  It wasn't as if book #1 ended with a cliffhanger -- it had an ending that was solid and the story should have stopped then.  What really bothered me was the constant everything falling apart at once -- it seemed like unreasonable and unnecessary conflict rather than the organic and unique conflict of the first book in which I wanted things to work out.  In this book, I didn't care.  This sequel, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, comes out in the U.S. today, March 22, 2016.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Musts: Back to You by Priscilla Glenn, Elle King & Favorite Posts of the Week

Monday Musts is a weekly event, started and hosted by Jessica @ Lovin' Los Libros, which asks you to highlight your must read, must listen and must see!

Back To You by Priscilla Glenn

From Goodreads:
When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?
This is one of those books that reminds of why I love self published books, especially those from a few years ago!  This is one of the best second chance romances that I've ever read, highly recommended!


My current favorite song while running - Elle King - Ex's and Oh's!


This space is dedicated to my favorite book blog posts every week since I don't do weekly recaps (I don't have the patience) and there are always posts that I LOVE!
What are your Monday Musts??

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hamiltag !

I was tagged by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight to do this and I'm so excited!  This tag was created by Maureen!

 The Room Where It Happens

(A Book World You Would Put Yourself Into)

So you may think I'm crazy for this one but how could I not choose my favorite book of all time?  This gets back to my boarding school love and that there is something about the academic setting of this book that I want!!

 The Schuyler Sisters

(An Underrated Female Character)

With so much focus on the "Boys" in this series, I really think that Blue is so underrated.  And, you know I can't wait for the last book next month -- I am terrified/excited.

My Shot

(A Character That Goes After What They Want and Doesn’t Let Anything Stop Them)

Heck yes I am stealing Jessica's answer for this one because Leah is the answer to this question. I don't even want to know about a world where someone is more determined than Leah, hahaha!


(The Most Heartbreaking End To A Relationship You’ve Ever Read)

So I completely agree that this is spoilery beyond belief but I couldn't pick anything else for this one.

You'll Be Back 

(Sassiest Villain) 

Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but of course!

The Reynolds Pamphlet

(A Twist You Didn't See Coming)



(A Series You Marathoned)

And I can't go on -- Book 5 was not bueno but I liked 1-4 and marathoned them.


(Favorite Book with Multiple POVs)

Stay Alive

(A Character You Wish Was Still Alive)

This is a preemptive #SaveGansey, ok?

It's Quiet Uptown

(A Book That Made You Ugly Cry)

I'm really not a cryer while reading but I shed a few tears with this one.

One Last Time

(The Best Series Ender)

I cannot express the perfection of this series enough, seriously.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

(A Book/Series You Feel Like Will Be Remembered Throughout History)

The social commentary, the beautiful writing, Simon and Meg !!

Who are you going to tag?!

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