September 27, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Why You Lie? Why You Make Me Lie? Top Five Saturday- ON A SATURDAY!

Top Five Saturday On A Saturday? That makes me much more reliable than these narrators- but probably less entertaining! Top Five Books With Unreliable Narrators-- and when they make you the unreliable reader...
This Saturday Top Five series is by Amanda at Devouring Books for readers started back in October and I kind of lost motivation for making it every week. But it’s back! This is a series of books that I want to read that all have a common theme. Previously on the blog I have focused on witches, werewolves, thrillers, faeries, fairy tale retellings and high fantasy. I am going to try and bring this series back for every Saturday. 

The Saturday Top Five Schedule for January

1/4/20 — Funny Books

1/11/20 — Books Over 5 years old I was very very sick….

1/18/20 — Unreliable Narrators

1/25/10 — Books by Favorite Authors- Welp. You know where this is going!


  • Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people


 Saturday Top Five Books With Unreliable Narrators Or That Make Us The Unreliable Readers

Yes. You read that right. Four Unreliable Narrators and one author so deviously delicious, she decided to create a whole new narrative I dubbed the unreliable reader. I will explain the latter last. Why? Because I can. You will wait. Fair enough you could skip ahead. But why kill my fun. Because you can. Go ahead. Kill my fun. But if you ever cared about  me, at all? You won’t. Lord knows I get very little of it to begin with. 

I am a sucker for the unreliable narrator. I suppose some have gotten sick of it at this point. And maybe if that is the only genre or narration you read, I can get why you would. However, I don’t read it the genre that it shows up in solely and even when I read those genres, I still don’t see it often. So, I still eat it up and, yes, rarely see it coming. If it isn’t done as well as it can be then plot holes can give it away. That doesn’t change the fact that I enjoy it. Just doesn’t make it the spine curling mother of mess that it can be.

1) The Book That Started It All: Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

OK. Let’s get this out of the way. You do your thing.

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Now I’m going to do my thing.

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And now I’m going to break you down.


1) I didn’t know of, seen the movie or read Gone Girl. To be quite honest I have no idea who or what put Girl on the Train in my hand except it was hardback so it had just come out? I hadn’t read any fiction speak of in like pffffffffffffffft,  but I ate it up in like a day. I did end up watching Gone Girl, which was quite disturbing, but didn’t ever read the book.  The movie for Girl on the Train, on the other hand was boring as hell. But maybe those who read Gone Girl hated that movie. So that’s how this started. 

Ironically, when I did start reading fiction heavy again (some three 2.5-3 years later- yeah there weren’t any real fiction reads to speak of outside of picture books, comic books, graphic novels and guided reading books), it never dawned on me to go back to that type of read. I just hit the YA Fiction bandwagon and took off until the Summer Fling. But I couldn’t be happier the likes of Turn of the Key, The Chain and another book coming later came along and shoved me back into adult psychological thrillers.

2) Her Mother’s Daughter by Daniela Petrova


Her Mother's Daughter

Be still my beating heart. Her Mother’s Daughter features not one but three unreliable narrators. My biggest concern going into this novel was that it would be a train wreck. BUT NO! Petrova writes a brilliant story that never loses focus and never strays off course. It is thrilling and suspenseful. My review is linked above. Be sure you will be hooked until the very, last word.  


3) The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Guinevere Deception Review 

I am putting two YA Novels on this list. The first one (review linked above). Now it is really my opinion that either of these choices feature unreliable narrators. However, when you have a main character that really isn’t sure who she is then what would you call it? It is rare (Tiffany Jackson has done the unreliable narrator in spectacular ways) I’ve seen anything like it in YA and I LOVE what Kiersten White does with it because DUH- Kiersten White. Guinevere is an essential fixture in the tales of Sir Arthur… so to take her and make her such an X factor was well…

4) Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sims

Another judgement call on my part but oh alllll the unreliable narrators EVERYWHERE. It isn’t really their fault that they don’t know what’s going on. And maybe I’m smudging the definition a bit. Because it is that the narrator and the reader don’t know the narrator has been manipulated, tricked or in someway doesn’t remember something correctly. 

Scavenge The Stars Review

However, I will still argue that at times that is the case in Scavenge the Stars (review linked above). Yes at times the reader knows that the character is about to step in a hornets nest because they are acting on faulty information so they are just unreliable unto themselves. But at times we don’t even realize what they don’t know. So, it goes both ways. 

That is what makes Scavenge the Stars such a bang up mess of a wicked read!! All the psychological action (Copyrighted Novellives 2019). Yes. I just did that XD.

4) Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Here it is. Kimberly Belle– above I coined the term psychological action. Due to torturing myself over the review of Dear Wife over the summer (review and interview with Kimberly Belle is linked above), I coined my first phrase ever. See I knew I was a sucker for the unreliable narrator but I also knew two very distinct things about Dear Wife.

dear wife

  1. It was a phenomenal book that almost caused me to break my nose (see linked review).
  2. It was not an unreliable narrator.

I rewrote that review a 1/2 doze ways till the morning I was supposed to post it, until it finally dawned on me- it wasn’t that the narrator was unreliable. It was that Belle wrote a structure that caused us (the readers) to be completely unreliable. We couldn’t trust ourselves. Not because we were confused or nothing made sense or anything like that, at all. The book was just that good. The set-up was just that brilliant. The narrators, how the plot lines started and came together? It was incredible. And you think you know. And then you think you know again. You don’t know. 

What you realize, is that the narrators make you unreliable. They know exactly what is going on but damn it to hell if they are going to risk their endgame to let you in on the secret. You are on your own and it is a fantastic ride.

A Note In Closing

PS. I want to throw in here that in some very twisted ways Tiffany Jackson who I talk about non-stop has done incredible but nuanced work around the unreliable narrator in Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming. I didn’t include it in the list because Monday’s Not Coming is structured in a way that also seriously does time lines in a brutal manner that has to be read to be experienced. Allegedly – well is Allegedly and there are multiple unreliable narrators and truthfully I hate talking too much about that book even more than this sentence because ….

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Well read ALL HER BOOKS…. that is why my post about Ms. Jackson is Favorited on the front of my blog and will be for…

Well, I suppose until Grown comes out until September. 


WOW! It is Saturday- MORNING, EVEN (well in Colorado). This is an accomplishment as I still adjust to the move and everything! I hope everyone is having a beautiful and wonderful kickoff to their weekend! What are your favorite unreliable narrators- or do you hate the structure all together?  Let’s talk! Now that I have caught up on my hopping I want to catch up on all the wonderful comments on my corner of the world through Monday!




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