POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

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Book Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Author: Joanne Harris
Title: The Gospel of Loki
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Saga (Simon and Schuster)
Number of Pages: 315
Narrator: Loki
Quality Rating: 84.5

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

What’s It About?

Loki is born in Chaos, a murky underworld lacking form and substance. Curious about Asgard, the world of the gods above, he wanders from his home and runs into the Allfather–Odin. Forming a pack with the Allfather, Loki agrees to use his dark magic and cleverness for Odin’s cause in exchange for a home among the gods.

The other gods are not so taken with Loki. And, when Loki gets himself into a pinch from a bargain he makes with a contractor, the gods wish to put him to death. Thus begins a series of exploits Loki pulls off to cunningly get himself back into the good graces of the gods.

Eventually, Loki realizes that he’s never going to be truly accepted among the gods. So, instead, he sets out to destroy them. One by one, he begins to seek out weaknesses to exploit in the gods–playing them against one another to his own end. Nevertheless, as he becomes increasingly entangled in the world of the gods, he wonders whether his mischief is only going to end in his own demise.

Should You Read It?

If you are a fan of Norse mythology, you’ll love this book. The tales of Loki incorporate many well-known legends–amending them slightly with cynical and capricious slants. If you enjoy the kind of story where the archetypal villain is cast as the victim, you’ll also enjoy this story. The narrative is written in a sarcastic and whimsical manner, so if you enjoy that sort of tone, you’ll be intrigued by Loki’s account. If these criteria sound appealing to you, you may want to give this book a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Independent, Kirkus Reviews, SFF World

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Joanne Harris: Runelight (2011), The French Maket (2005), Chocolat (1999), many others

Book Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Author: Kimberly McCreight
Title: Where They Found Her
Genre: Literary; Suspense
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 336
Narrator: Molly Sanderson
Quality Rating: 84.2

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

What’s It About?

Molly Sanderson is a new reporter for a small newspaper in Ridgedale–a university town in which her husband has gotten a job as an English Professor. As she seeks recovery from a recent mental breakdown, she wants to make the best of the job in order to become a better mother again for her young daughter. When a lead reporter takes a few days’ leave for minor operation, she receives the opportunity to cover a major story. There’s just one problem: the story involves an investigation into the discovery of an infant’s dead body–and Molly’s recent bout of depression had stemmed from the miscarriage of her second child.

As Molly investigates the story, despite her misgivings, she stumbles across a large cast of characters from a police chief, an overbearing mother, and the “town whore” to a university president, a campus security guard, and a school teacher–all who may or may not be connected to the baby. As she digs further into the case, she discovers a dark history buried for decades by some of Ridgedale’s most long-term and well-respected residents. As the truth slowly begins to come to light, Molly herself is drawn into the story in unexpected and heartbreaking ways.

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of psychological mystery that climatically brings a slew of disconnected characters together in a web of dark secrets, you’ll love this book. The story is heavily character-driven, with the inclusion of perspectives from several other characters in addition to Molly’s first person account. But the mystery surrounding the identity of the baby and its parents also gives the story a suspenseful momentum that readers of authors such as Gillian Flynn would enjoy. Essentially, if you love a mystery built around the secrets of rich, fleshed-out characters, you may want to give this story a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Books on the Table, Jen’s Book Thoughts

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Kimberly McCreight: Reconstructing Amelia (2013)

Book Review: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

Author: Jo Nesbo
Title: Blood on Snow
Genre: Suspense
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Knopf (Random House)
Number of Pages: 224
Narrator: Olav
Quality Rating: 68.34

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

What’s It About?

Olav is a “fixer.” He works on commission for a wealthy man who gives him assignments that he carries out with precision. Olav has no family and no connections. He is a ghost…and that’s what makes him the perfect contract killer.

Despite killing people for a living, Olav has somewhat of a soft spot. He expresses pity toward some and indifference toward others. When his boss offers him a large sum of money to kill his adulterous wife, he at first thinks it’s going to be just like any other job.

While preparing for the execution, Olav watches his boss’s wife and is drawn to her. Then, he discovers they her “lover” is more of an oppressor. The man is raping her. She keeps quiet, he assumes, because he has information on her that she doesn’t want her husband to know. Instead of killing the boss’s wife, Olav decides to kill the man exploiting her.

When Olav tells his boss about what he did, he discovers the man isn’t just any man. He is someone important. Suddenly, Olav and his boss’s wife find themselves on the run. As he eludes people who are trying to kill him and falls in love with the woman whose life he’s spared, Olav must use all of his cunning to survive while he gets to the bottom of a conspiracy he’s been drawn into.

Should You Read It?

I haven’t read other books by Jo Nesbo, but I’ve heard this one is quite different. The narrator is somewhat of a mentally disturbed and semi-psychotic individual. He is driven by an ambivalence toward human life that manifests itself in many philosophical musings throughout the development of the story. The tone reminded me a lot of Normal, with the crazy narrator being a contract killer rather than a serial killer. While there is much introspection, there are also several interesting plot twists. So, if you enjoy a good thriller with somewhat of a philosophical bent, you might appreciate this story.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with NPR

Book Reviews: Boston GlobeThe Guardian, Paste Magazine

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Jo Nesbo: The Son (2014), Phantom (2011), The Leopard (2009), The Snowman (2007)

Book Review: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Author: Claire Fuller
Title: Our Endless Numbered Days
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Tin House (Bloomsbury)
Number of Pages: 382
Narrator: Peggy
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: A, Excellent; of the first 48 reviews, the average reader rating was 96.67%.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

What’s It About?

Peggy is an eight year old girl whose mother has gone off to work in Germany. After witnessing an argument he has on the telephone, she is abruptly taken from her home out into the wilderness to live alone with her temperamental father. After a torrential storm occurs shortly after their arrival at an abandoned cottage in the woods, Peggy’s father informs her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. The two of them are the only ones alive and, just over the hill across the forest, the world melts away into nothingness.

Peggy’s father teaches her to take care of herself in the wild, at times coming to the brink of starvation. To alleviate his anxiety and boredom, Peggy’s father comes up with endless projects–from creating a makeshift piano for Peggy to rebuilding the cottage they’ve come to call home.

Over time, Peggy’s father slowly loses his mind. To escape his violent and mercurial outbursts, Peggy begins to venture off into the woods by herself. Soon, she meets another man who has been living in the forest. As she develops a relationship with this mystery man, he becomes a refuge from her father. As she grows into her late teens, Peggy’s father reaches his wit’s end–leading to a dramatic showdown between Peggy, her father, and her new secret lover.

Should You Read It?

If you like a good psychological mystery, you’ll love this story. Told through the lens of a child, the author captures the world–not as it is–but as it is seen through damaged eyes. The narrative and tone leave the reader wondering what’s real and what’s imagined–all the way up to the dramatic and cathartic conclusion. If you enjoy a good survival story, you’ll probably like this book as well–as it is set in an isolated wilderness. While the writing style creates a strong sense of mystery and movement, the themes are darkly and deeply literary. So, whether your tastes tend more toward the high brow or the nitty gritty, this story will likely appeal to you if enjoy a good tale of mystery and madness.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Socratic Salon, The Chicago Tribune

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Claire Fuller: Our Endless Numbered Days is Claire Fuller’s debut novel.

Book Review: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

Author: Krassi Zourkova
Title: Wildalone
Genre: Fantasy; Paranormal; Romance
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Thea Slavin
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 43 reviews, the average reader rating was 83.26%.

Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

What’s It About?

Thea Slavin is a musical prodigy who has come from her home in Bulgaria to study at Princeton University in America. Soon after she arrives, she develops a relationship with a man who seems helplessly attracted to her. She is drawn to him as well, but she knows that he is harboring a secret that could tear them apart.

Years ago, Thea’s older sister had been a student at Princeton. She had mysteriously died, and her body had been stolen–and never recovered. As Thea researches the circumstances of her sister’s death and disappearance, she discovers that her sister may have been involved in the secret practices of a Dionysian cult.

Within the family history of the Slavins is a legend about wildalones–mythological women who imprison men to their wills. As Thea finds out more about her sister and this strange yet irresistible new man to whom she is drawn, she begins to believe the myths may hold more truth than superstition. The question is–will she be able to handle the truth about her lost sister and her new lover when it is finally revealed to her?

Should You Read It?

The comparisons on the cover jacket to The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and Twilight are fitting. The story is like The Secret History in that it’s heavily couched in Greek mythology–particularly that involving sex and debauchery. It’s like Jane Eyre in that Thea’s lover does have a “secret wife” of sorts “hidden in the attic.” Finally, it’s like the Twilight saga not only in that it involves a supernatural love triangle but also in that it consists of the erotically tense interplay between a dominant male and a submissive, albeit stubborn, female. Although the plot would certainly fall under the umbrella of a paranormal romance, the poetic nature of the writing style could qualify the book as a literary work. References to the supernatural are subtle–laced with mystery and ambiguity. The erotic intensity, however, fills the pages from start to finish. So, if you enjoy paranormal romance but also are drawn to something a little more high brow, I’d definitely recommend Wildalone.

Links and References

Author Information: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Dark Matter Zine, Urban Fantasy Magazine

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Krassi Zourkova: Wildalone is Krassi Zourkova’s debut novel.

Book Review: The First Bad Man by Miranda July

Author: Miranda July
Title: The First Bad Man
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Scribner (Simon and Schuster)
Number of Pages: 288
Narrator: Cheryl Glickman
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: D, Bad; of the first 116 reviews, the average reader rating was 67.24%.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

What’s It About?

Cheryl Glickman works at a non-profit in which she trains women in self-defense. She is withdrawn and experiences life in her own fantasy world rather than interacting with people in real life. When her bosses request she take their twenty year old daughter in as a houseguest, her world is thrown off kilter.

Cheryl’s new houseguest is ungrateful, rude, and sometimes downright abusive. To avoid confrontation, Cheryl loses herself in deep sexual fantasies and obscure beliefs about reincarnation.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy books that revolve around the surreal, you may enjoy this story. It’s a little like Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf without the philosophical coherence. The narrative consists primarily of Cheryl’s explicit and sometimes disturbing sexual fantasies–so much so that it’s difficult to tell what is actually happening and what is simply going on inside the narrator’s head. Although it’s obscure, there is also a good bit of subtext on feminism. So, if this sounds interesting to you, I would give it a shot. If you’re sensitive to graphic sexual material, I would avoid it.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Wikipedia, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Washington Post, New York Times, The Guardian

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Miranda July: The First Bad Man is Miranda July’s first novel, though she has written a collection of short stories called No One Belongs Here More Than You (2005), and she is an acclaimed artist and filmmaker.

Book Review: Making Nice by Matt Sumell

Author: Matt Sumell
Title: Making Nice
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt (Holtzbrinck)
Number of Pages: 240
Narrator: Alby
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: D+, Bad; of the first 48 reviews, the average reader rating was 69.17%.

Making Nice by Matt Sumell

What’s It About?

Alby is a crass and aggressive 30 year old man from a dysfunctional family. When his mother dies of cancer, he begins to reminisce on various instances in his life. He talks of fights he gets into with his siblings, conversations with his drunken father, and his awkward encounters with strangers.

Within each episode Alby recounts, the reader gets a sense of how complex Alby is–at once brutally honest and psychologically disturbed. Despite his vulgarity and inexplicable rage, a subtle undercurrent running through his narrative suggests he wants to do better–to “make nice” with those around him.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the sort of novel that consists more or less exclusively of the discursive ramblings of a mentally disturbed narrator, this book is for you. Think The Catcher in the Rye with a lot more F-words and crude sexual references. (Needless to say, if you’re sensitive to vulgar language, this is not for you). All of that being said, the tone of the novel–despite its graphic content–is surprisingly light and witty. The narrator’s non-sensical observations are laced with sarcasm that is quite comedic in all of its randomness.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with NPR

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Irish Times

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Matt Sumell: Making Nice is Matt Sumell’s debut novel.

Book Review: Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

Author: Lili Anolik
Title: Dark Rooms
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 329
Narrator: Grace Baker
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B-, Very Good; of the first 32 reviews, the average reader rating was 81.25%.

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

What’s It About?

Grace Baker is an ordinary, middle-class teenage girl living in Hartford, Connecticut. Just as she is about to graduate high school and move on to a prestigious liberal arts college, her younger sister Nica is murdered. When the murder goes unsolved, Grace decides to put off college and stay in Hartford to seek out her sister’s killer.

As she works through her list of potential suspects, she is forced to deal with the fall out from Nica’s death. Her father has become listless and spends most of his days sulking. Her mother has left her father and moved away to be by herself. On top of her parents’ issues, Grace realizes that she is pregnant–and she honestly doesn’t remember having slept with anyone recently.

Working with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Grace begins to investigate her sister’s circle of close friends. The more leads Grace gets on her sister’s murder, the more she realizes that her family isn’t exactly what it seems. Her sister, it turns out, had secrets that Grace knew nothing about. And the revelation of these secrets ultimately lead Grace to discovering the mystery behind Nica’s death.

Should You Read It?

This book has been rightly compared to the writings of Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn, as well as to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The story–with its cast of sex-crazed, counter-cultural characters–can be described as a psychological soap opera. As the plot develops, the mystery builds around tangled relationships and sexual secrets. While it is a murder mystery, the intrigue has less to do with the murder than it does with the web of secrets leading up to it. If you’re into that sort of thing, I would definitely give this book a read.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Vanity Fair Interview

Book Reviews: LA Review, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, BookPage

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Lili Anolik: Dark Rooms is Lili Anolik’s debut novel. However, she is an accomplished popular journalist and currently works for Vanity Fair.