Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books For Fans Of Unreliable Narrators.

Any book written could be described as having an 'unreliable narrator' as every character will have their own biases. However, these books I'm picking are really interesting because for varying reasons, it is very difficult to trust their narrators at all! Just a quick note to say that there will be some spoilers in this post so if you don't want things to be ruined, just look at the covers and trust that the narrators are pretty unreliable!

1) 'The Shock Of The Fall' by Nathan Fillion.

I really enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons, mostly because Fillion really seemed to understand mental health and the system surrounding it's treatment. The narrator, Matt, was interesting to read from because he suffered with Schizophrenia, and as he became more unwell and took less medication, the lines between reality and delusion became blurred.

2) 'One Of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus.

There are four main POVs in this book and each are 'unreliable narrators' in their own right. In fact this was one of my favourite reads of this year for just that reason. Each of the four characters are a suspect in a murder case, and each have their own secrets. It means, while reading, you are never really sure if they are telling the truth or not.

3) 'Thin Air' by Michelle Paver.

This was a great ghost story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading in 2016! It's set high in the mountains and the narrator started out as any other man, perfectly reliable. But as he ascended towards the top and he began to face dizzying heights, altitude sickness and freezing temperatures it became more difficult to trust the strange, supernatural happenings that he described. Definitely very spooky and worth a read.

4) 'The Graces' by Laure Eve.

I loved this unreliable narrator because it isn't until the end of the book that you realise she has been one. You never learn 'River's' true name. And you only discover her true motives towards the end of the book. Before that, I thought she was a normal YA heroine looking to solve a mystery, survive high school, find love and make friends. But her manipulative and self-centred thoughts (starkly contrasting with her dialogue with other characters) will strike you as off from the beginning and it's fascinating to read.

5) 'The Girl On The Train' by Paula Hawkins.

This was a really good read, even if it plays on a fairly classic trope. One MC has a very severe drinking problem and due to this, can't remember a lot of her own actions, thoughts and conversations. Seeing as this happens during a murder investigation, it makes for a very tense and confused account of her own actions. Her own life and interests interfere, of course, and it was a great example of narrative at it's most unreliable.

6) 'The One Memory Of Flora Banks' by Emily Barr.

If ever there was an MC who could be called unreliable, then Flora is it. For those that don't know what Anterograde Amnesia is, it means that Flora is unable to make new memories after a specific event that triggered it. The story uses almost constant repetition as Flora makes the same realisations over and over. There are also plenty of twists and turns that make you realise just how unreliable a narrator she is too!

7) 'The Gospel Of Loki' by Joanne M. Harris.

I picked this book because unreliable narrators can occur due to extreme bias too, and Loki's is unprecedented. His entire story is made up of him moping and feeling sorry for himself, and trying to convince the reader that all punishment and blame upon himself was totally unfair. He's the kind of narrator that you love too because he does it all in a really humorous way.

8) 'White Cat' by Holly Black.

At first, this story doesn't seem like the kind of story that will contain an unreliable narrator. There's a lot going on, but it takes a lot to put the pieces together and realise what is actually going on. Cassel is actually under a form of hypnosis and is having his dreams tampered with, meaning that everything he remembers could potentially be false.

9) 'Going Bovine' by Libba Bray.

The narrator of this book is very obviously unreliable, because he is suffering from a particularly severe illness that causes him to constantly experience things that are not real. I can't 100% remember what causes it all - some kind of brain tumour I think - but this book is like one very long drug trip. It's weird for sure, but many people love this book and it's full to the brim of some pretty cool symbolism.

10) 'The Dead House' by Dawn Kurtagich.

This book will mess with your head. The narrator is actually one person split into two personalities, making her the most unreliable of all narrators. Not only that, but it's not clear what's actually causing it all: the doctors believe mental illness, friends are convinced that two souls have attached to each other, there's even talk of demons and ghosts. The ending provides no real answers either. But if you love unreliable narrators, this is a good book for you!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (7th August - 13th August)...

I'll be honest, this week has been pretty quiet for me. I haven't really done all that much. However, there were a few things that I managed! Mostly on Monday, I did a lot of wedding research and planning. Mat and I are really heavily thinking about budget, style, themes and venue right now so I wanted to look at how much things might cost in order to get a realistic savings goal! It really got me excited, that's for sure! I worked a lot more this week (at least...it felt that way) and have been dealing with some pretty severe headaches and hay fever attacks, so not the best week for me health-wise! Nevertheless, it's been a good one and I'm especially excited because while I only read one, I am now the proud owner of a lot more books!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Invictus' by Ryan Graudin: Approved by Netgalley (09/08/17)
- 'It's All In Your Head' by Rae Earl: Approved by Netgalley (09/08/17)
- 'The Witch' by Ronald Hutton: Approved by Netgalley (10/08/17)
- 'I Am Malala' by Malala Yousfazi: Bought on Amazon (12/08/17)
- 'Lies We Tell Ourselves' by Robin Talley: Bought on Amazon (12/08/17)
- 'A Gathering Of Shadows' by V.E. Scwab: Bought on Amazon (12/08/17)

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl; Meredith Russo.

Hooray! Another LGBTQ+ addition to my ever-growing list, which I'm really enjoying adding to. Gender identity is something that I've rarely seen in literature, especially YA! It's so good to read more on the subject, especially from an #ownvoices perspective.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: If I Was Your Girl
AUTHOR: Meredith Russo
PUBLISHER: Usborne Publishing Ltd.
PAGES: 288
GENRE: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT, Romance

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school.

Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she's falling in love with.

Amanda has a secret.

At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.

A book about loving yourself and being loved for who you really are.

What I Liked:
  • The message behind this book was heartwarming and lovely. I'm a big fan of LGBT+ fiction, especially if it's an #ownvoices book. Russo did a great job with this one because all the way through I felt warm and fuzzy and couldn't stop smiling. There's some great moments in this story, especially between Amanda and her friends (great girl gang by the way) and Amanda and Grant. Very cute and guaranteed to melt away most bad moods.
  • Russo did a pretty good job with the characters and their biases. Amanda was a nice MC viewpoint (a little dull perhaps, but kind and likeable) and I really liked Layla, Anna and Chloe too. Bee was very interesting and I liked that Russo didn't go with the 'all LGBT characters are automatically friends and understand each other's pain) route'. Grant was a good romantic interest too, adorable and well-meaning but with his own hypocrisies and ignorance.
What I Disliked:
  • Russo includes a message at the end of the book which explains that in many ways, she played it safe with this story. Amanda is conventionally attractive, has it easy 'fitting in' and spends most of her life knowing her feelings on her own gender. It's a smart move to help the book appeal to more cisgendered readers and get 'educated' but also a little disappointing. I was left feeling as if the characters and plot lacked development in many areas, especially due to skipping forwards in fairly large chunks of time. Backstory could have definitely been expanded upon in a lot of cases.
  • Some of the social interactions in this book seemed a little off for me. Amanda fit in so easily despite being new to the school. In her first day two guys had a crush on her. She also managed to be best friends with the most popular girls in school and the misfit which kind of wouldn't happen in a real life situation. At least, not in that way. I also liked the romantic scenes, but didn't really feel any initial chemistry between Amanda and Grant so was actually pretty surprised when they hooked up.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a good contribution to LGBT+ novels, especially in the YA age range and I was glad to see it making Zoella's book club list! Honestly, I liked it despite my reservations listed above. It doesn't just educate on the trans community, it covers mental health, bullying, sexism and friendship too. It definitely deserves all the attention it received for those reasons, I just wish Russo had been a little more adventurous and given some extra page space for characters like Bee and Grant, and even Anna's home life! Still, it was nice to read a 'happy ending', as not every LGBTQ+ story needs to be horrifying. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (31st July - 6th August)...

Game Of Thrones night continues to dominate my Monday evenings and I have to say, I'm going to be really sad when Season 7 ends. In three weeks time I'm going to be doomed to wait another year for the final season! Something even more exciting happened this week towards the end (Friday to be exact). I (and later Mat) went back to my hometown to visit my parents! We were there for a few days for a couple of reasons. (a) It was my Nan & Grandad's 60th Wedding anniversary and we went to a party to celebrate, and (b) we all went to go and see a couple of Wedding Venues that we had been eyeing up. Both were beautiful (The Orchard and The BarnYard in Kent if you're interested) and we particularly liked the latter of the two. We have decided to look at a couple more before making any really big decisions, but it's really put me in a good mood and made me feel like we're getting somewhere with the planning!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Museum Of Extraordinary Things' by Alice Hoffman: Bought on Amazon (31/07/17)
- 'The Bone Clocks' by David Mitchell: Bought on Amazon (31/07/17)
- 'Graceling' by Kristen Cashore: Bought on Amazon (31/07/17)
- 'The Passage' by Justin Cronin: Bought on Amazon (04/08/17)
- 'After Alice' by Gregory Maguire: Bought on Amazon (04/08/17)
- 'A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms' by George R.R. Martin: Bought On Amazon (05/08/17)
- 'Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind' by Yuval Noah Harari: Bought On Amazon (05/08/17)
- 'The Sun Is Also A Star' by Nicola Yoon: Bought On Amazon (05/08/17)

I Posted...

July Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For August

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Planned Reads For August.

August has me really excited for a number of reasons, despite the rainy weather predicted! A lot of my friends and family are getting married and I have big plans for the coming month, but also I have so many great reads lined up!

'If I Was Your Girl' by Meredith Russo: This is my current read, and one I'm really enjoying at the moment. I'd hoped to finish it last month but alas, time was not on my side. Still, so far this is a really thought-provoking book on the subject of being trans, also covering depression, bullying, mental health and friendship. I've certainly got high hopes for the rest of the book!

'The Sun Is Also A Star' by Nicola Yoon: That's right guys, my first ever Nicola Yoon read! It's a romance which would normally instantly turn me off, but I've heard some really good things about Yoon's writing, and I have to say that 2017 seems to be my year for giving Contemporary YA romance a chance. Now is as good a time as any!

'Not A Drop To Drink' by Mindy McGinnis: When I say this book has been on my TBR forever I almost mean it! It was one of my first adds when I joined Goodreads and the blogging community for the first time, and I literally only got round to buying it just recently. Anyway, I haven't read a good dystopian fiction in ages, and I like that this focuses on natural disasters and droughts as the root of the problem rather than a major Government conspiracy.

'Flame In The Mist' by RenĂ©e Ahdieh: Did I ever tell you guys that I have always wanted to visit Japan? No? It's one of my biggest bucket list items. That's why this book looks right up my street. I love the classic 'girl dresses up as boy' storyline and Mulan is one of my favourite films for that reason. I'm so very pumped to read this historical fantasy and I really hope I love it.

'The Geek Feminist Revolution' by Kameron Hurley: I saw this book while looking for good non-fiction on the subject of fandom and feminism. It looks perfect! The cover really got me, I must admit. But this looks to be a well reviewed collection of essays, and I'm looking forward to getting into more non-fiction books anyway!

'The Outliers' by Kimberly McCreight: I had this book down for last month and I was so excited about it! I think it would be a really great Summer read! So I'm going to give it another go this month. While thrillers aren't usually my scene, I have to applaud the unusual and eye-catching cover (most books of this genre look basically the same to me).

'The Satellite' by Nick Lake: I am really in the mood for some science fiction guys, and a cover involving the moon and an astronaut with the title 'Satellite' emblazoned across it looks about as spacey as it gets. It's been a while since I've read something of this genre (or something due to be released this year), and I'm particularly thankful that I received an ARC of this one! 

'Ivory & Bone' by Julie Eshbaugh: This book screams summer read to me for some reason. Maybe it's because it's set in prehistoric times which makes me think of Neanderthals roaming hot, dry deserts? Anyway, it's a retelling of the classic Pride & Prejudice story with some twists by the looks of it, but I'm more excited about reading a book set in a period of history that was so long ago. Exciting!

Monday, 31 July 2017

July Wrap-Up.

Ok so I didn't manage a fair amount of my actual chosen reads, only four actually but I did sneak in a couple of extras to make up the numbers so I'm still pretty pleased with my status this month! I managed a grand total of six books!

  1. 'The Sleeping Prince' by Melinda Salisbury. I wouldn't say that I've been necessarily avoiding this book. But I was worried about this book because I didn't enjoy the first book as much as I'd hoped and it was either going to restore my faith or put me off forever. There were still a couple of issues with this book, but the change of characters was definitely a good idea. Errin was a badass MC, the romance was a lot more appealing and I liked seeing more of the world. 3.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls' by Francesca Cavallo & Elena Favilli. I purchased this book fairly recently and after flicking through it and finding that the chosen stories really intrigued me, I took some time to sit down and read them all. There's a great mix: women of both past & present who are either great queens or models and tattoo artists from all over the world. I loved that diversity! As they are styled as children's fairy tales, I felt the 'endings' could use more work, but this is a great book for children, especially young girls, to read. 4/5 Stars.
  3. 'Through The Woods' by Emily Carroll. I was gifted this by a close friend of mine and overjoyed to finally be reading it! I've been eyeing up Graphic Novels as a genre to get back into for months now, and this is a good place to start. The short stories were spooky and atmospheric for sure, and the artwork was absolutely gorgeous! I liked the similarities to fairy tales too, but I wish that the endings had not been so vague. They felt very unfinished and for the most part, I didn't 'get it'. 4/5 Stars.
  4. 'The One Memory Of Flora Banks' by Emily Barr. This book has such mixed reactions all over the internet, and I went in a little wary about what I'd find. In the end though, it was mostly 'okay'. The characters were well formulated, I especially liked Paige and Agi because they demonstrated complicated but likeable friendships. Flora's time in Svalbard was probably my favourite portion of the book. I liked the idea behind the book too, but I felt that due to Flora's condition, elements of it were so repetitive almost to the point of boredom. Her conversations with Drake (the sexting in particular) made me feel really uncomfortable too because of her amnesia. It all felt a bit creepy. 3/5 Stars.
  5. 'What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours' by Helen Oyeyemi. More fairy tales? Yay! I've been looking to get into Oyeyemi's work for a while now, this looked like a good opportunity to do so. I was totally captivated by the magic within the pages of this book, and I have to say that I adored the magical realism of it all. I don't normally like that genre, but Oyeyemi handled it masterfully. Despite that, I still left feeling disappointed. Each story had such a great premise, especially as some characters appeared in more than one. Each one, as with previous reads this month, felt 'unfinished' too. I really think I'd like Oyeyemi's full-length novels more, where she'd be given a chance to fully flesh out her endings. 3.5/5 Stars.
  6. 'The Final Empire' by Brandon Sanderson. This is the book I've been waiting for! It was the perfect end to the month! A friend bought it for me such a long time ago, and I felt so bad for putting it off this long. But it was definitely worth the wait, as this felt like the best fantasy book I've read in a long time. Fantastic characterisation, gorgeous world-building, and a good plot that kept me hooked throughout. I even liked the romance aspect because it didn't interfere too much! I can't wait to read more of Sanderson's work as it all looks amazing!
Now it's time to see how I did with my challenges this month!

This month I have read two books for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to eighteen. My reads were:

- The One Memory Of Flora Banks
- What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

This month I have read one books for the 2017 New Releases Challenge, bringing my yearly total so far to eight. My reads were:

- The One Memory Of Flora Banks

This month I have read two books for the LGBTQIA Challenge, bringing my yearly total to eight. My reads were:

- What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

This month I have read two books for the Diverse Reads Challenge, bringing my yearly total to twenty two. My reads were:

- Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls
- The One Memory Of Flora Banks

And here's my update on this quarter's Bookish Bingo card, courtesy of Pretty Deadly Blog!

Over 5 Years Old: Green Rider; Kristen Britain.
Red Cover: Good Bones; Margaret Atwood.
Latinx MC: One Of Us Is Lying; Karen M. McManus.
LGBT+: Release; Patrick Ness.
White Cover: A List Of Cages; Robin Roe.
Blue Cover: Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls; Francesca Cavallo & Elena Favilli.
Name In Title: The One Memory Of Flora Banks; Emily Barr.
Royalty: The Sleeping Prince; Melinda Salisbury.
A Book With A Map: The Final Empire; Brandon Sanderson.
Flowers On The Cover: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours; Helen Oyeyemi.
Award Winner: Through The Woods; Emily Carroll.

Book Review: The Final Empire; Brandon Sanderson.

Finally! My first ever Brandon Sanderson book! It's been a long time coming, and I will be thanking the friend who bought this for me a million times over (as well as apologising profusely for taking so many years to actually read it) because it was so good!

SOURCE: Present
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: The Final Empire
AUTHOR: Brandon Sanderson
SERIES: Mistborn (#1)
PUBLISHER: Orion Publishing Co
PAGES: 647
GENRE: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Dystopian?

RATING: 5/5 Stars

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. 

The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?

What I Liked:
  • The characters were probably my favourite thing about this book, because Sanderson writes them really well. I really wasn't expecting most of the POV to be from a group of con-artists/thieves but I fell in love with their personalities instantly. Kell was a great perspective to read from because even though it's his thoughts, you still aren't sure what he's thinking. Vin was my favourite however as, like the reader, she is discovering everything at the same rate. She was badass and had trust issues, but everything was heartfelt and she was so clever. Other members of the crew I liked too: Breeze, Ham, Sazed and Dockson all captured my hearts. Even Marsh! The interactions between them all were both hilarious and natural too, so great job there!
  • I don't normally advocate too much romance in a book as often it takes away from the main plot and doesn't really appeal to me. But here, I 100% shipped the growing attraction between Elend and Vin. I wanted them to find happiness! I never really expected to encounter something like that, especially between an eccentric, philosophical fop and a street-urchin pretending to be nobility. Their interactions were really well laid-out. Well done to Mr. Sanderson for making me believe in the power of love again!
  • The lore in this book was wonderful. Truly wonderful. Sanderson is clearly a master at his craft, especially when it comes to building a good world! He did it with such ease, but it felt very fresh and original and surprised me in a lot of ways. It struck the perfect balance of being exciting and new, yet comfortingly familiar. I fell in love with this book from page one because of the way this book was written and the amount of work that had clearly gone into envisaging it.
What I Disliked:
  • Coming up with a major dislike for this book was basically impossible. I loved it all! The length was certainly not something I'm used to, as usually I read books under half it's size. That being said, it gave me the right amount of depth without info-dumping and I felt that 650ish pages was really enough considering the amount that happens. 
Overall Conclusion:
This book had it all. A well-written and fresh story, beautiful world-building, interesting and unique characters and a whole dose of charm. It was funny and emotionally engaging, and I don't think I've raved about a book like this in a long time. This is how epic Fantasy should be done! Yes, it's long and some people might not enjoy dedicating so much time to it, but if you're an avid fan of fantasy mixed with a slight sci-fi/dystopian feel then look no further because Sanderson has it covered.