Book Review: Big Little Lies by

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Review:

I read Liane Moriarty’s book, The Husband’s Secret, which I absolutely loved and listed as one of my Best Books of 2013.  I purchased Big Little Lies last year, but only recently was able to read it.  That is the benefit of not having so many scheduled book tours!

It reminded me of a modern time Agatha Christie murder mystery, with the dissection of the events dispersed throughout the book, and different people interjecting what they saw and know.  I love that from the very beginning, the reader knows there is a murder, there is some bullying going on, and there are lots of secrets, however the pieces of the puzzle don’t come together until the very end!

As in Liane’s last book, she is able to seamlessly and flawlessly weave different stories, characters who at times seem to only 1 thing in common, and bring them all back together in the end.  In the beginning of the novel, most of the story revolves around bullying occurring at school.  Oh, how I can relate!  I am the mom of 3 children, one being in kindergarten (age 5), right now!  So, I can understand the dynamics, school structure, peer relationships, and school politics that a parent and child has to experience.  There are also many different kinds of moms: the single mom, the active mom, the rich mom that is very quiet and flawless, the divorced mom, the step-mom, and the list continues.  Each of them have two things in common: they love their child and their child attends the same school.

While there is a huge issue of bullying in the school and trying to figure out what is going on with that, Liane raises a huge issue: do children act out what they have learned or do they act out simply because that’s in their nature?  She also shows how intelligent children are (regardless of age), how in tune they are to what is happening around them, and how they act out what they don’t always understand but feel (rage).

While there is a murder and an investigation, Liane also shows the dynamics between step families, the importance of having good relationships with ex-spouses for the sake of their children, the importance of having a support group, the need for therapy when it’s necessary, and most of all-that not all battered women live in the ghetto and are uneducated and in a dead end relationship.

Domestic violence awareness is such an important topic for me, as I have worked with families impacted by abuse-especially the children who do hide, keep secrets, clean the blood soaked floors, and learn unhealthy ways to be in a relationship.  If there is anything I hope anyone walks away with: aside from this being a brilliantly written book, is that as culture-we need to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, have lost their voice, and/or don’t know what to do.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please contact the number below.

 

Click on this image for more information!

 

supreme cupcake rating 6

First to Read: The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

Title:  The Look of Love

Author:  Sarah Jio

Published by: Penguin/Plume Books on November 25th, 2014

Pages: 320

Genres:  Women’s fiction, Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Format:  ARC

Synopsis:

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

My Review:

No lie.  I read this book in ONE day!  Perhaps it’s because I have been sick and am confined to my chair, but a bigger part of the reason is because I just couldn’t stop reading!  I absolutely love this book.  It’s charming, very magical, and the story moves along rather nicely.  The book doesn’t dive too deep into issues, but gives a nice overview of each character so that the reader can connect with each one.

Now, I need to add this bit of disclosure:  If you or anyone you know is experiencing headaches, black-outs, fuzzy views, etc…see your doctor and follow protocol!  This is just a story!! It’s not real.

Jane sees fuzzies, gets headaches, and experiences head pain.  Against her neurologist’s orders, she decides to heed the advice given to her by a woman, who also “the gift”, and has passed it on to her.  Jane has never experienced love, and in order for her to find love, she must first identify 6 different types of love and identify the couple’s matching those descriptions.  She has been given 1 year to do this task or risk never experiencing true love.

Jane is the shop owner of a local florist and loves the language of flowers.  Each flower has a meaning and sees how flowers communicate emotion to others.  Her shop assistant, Lo, has her own love challenge, as do some of Jane’s other friends and acquaintances.  Jane begins to see her gift as a powerful tool, rather than a nuisance, and sees how people love differently.  From broken marriages, broken promises, and heartache, Jane sees the power of love and how love is experienced differently.

It’s a charming book, moves rather quickly despite the many characters introduced, and will have you guessing what happens to each couple.  The only issue I have is that the book cover doesn’t fit the storyline.  I imagine Jane looking different, or perhaps it’s Elodia (the first person to have been given the gift of seeing love).  Either way, it’s a great book and will be a wonderful gift idea for the holidays!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thank you to First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book.  No forms of compensation were given.

TLC Book Tour: Us by David Nicholls

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)

Synopsis:

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

My Review:

I was drawn into this book immediately. Within the first few pages, Connie tells Douglas that she feels the marriage has run its course and wants a divorce.  Bam!!  Twenty years of marriage thrown away, or so it seems from Douglas’ point of view.  Douglas goes back in time to describe how he first met Connie, what his life is like, and what he hopes to accomplish while he and his family trek across Europe. Connie wants to have this last trip as a family, to experience “firsts” with Albie and have him have the trip of his life.  Douglas wants to use this time to save his marriage and draw closer to Albie.  However, this trip has plans of its own, which helps both of them to discover important truths along the way and helps bring them closer as a family.

Douglas shares about his biochemist life and the work he does…even about a fruit fly.  The fruit fly has an interesting lifespan and purpose, which is analogous to the relationship between Douglas and Connie.  It’s interesting that when the fruit fly’s life cycle ends, it is replaced with another fruit fly.  Yet, Douglas never sees the correlation between his marriage and that of the fruit fly.  Prior to Connie’s shocking statement about wanting to move on because their relationship has run its course, Douglas never anticipates that this can happen to his own marriage, like that of the fruit fly’s lifespan.  Douglas is traditional and predictable within his marriage:  he goes to work, provides for the family, is dependable, is trustworthy, and expects to grown old and die together (he and his wife).

Connie has focused her attention on their son, Albie, through the course of their marriage.  Prior to the marriage, Connie was unpredictable and has found herself in a rut.  She has given her all to the marriage, but wants more now that Albie is graduating and moving on, too.  She wants to discover herself again, embark on adventures, and experience life in a way she feels the marriage hasn’t allowed her to.

As they all go on this trip, Connie and Douglas have different goals for this trip.  Douglas wants to save his marriage and grow closer to Albie.  Connie wants to have one last hurrah with them and give Albie a fun trip.  Connie and Douglas both gain better perspectives on themselves, their relationship, and their father/mother role with Albie.  Douglas also sees that despite marriage or divorce, the terms themselves aren’t what defines their relationships; it is their own ability to move themselves and truly seek satisfying relationships with one another and being present.  They also realize that whatever the outcome, they will forever be tied together and be a family, despite any titles they have (husband/wife, mother/father/son, etc).

This is a sad tale, while there are moments of joy sprinkled throughout.  It’s a book that many will enjoy because of the in depth look into marriage and of a couple who really are different, yet balance each other in ways they don’t even realize.  It’s a book that will challenge reader’s own views on marriage and divorce and bring greater appreciation to living in the moment, while always planning ahead.

This is a great book for book club discussions!  Overall, an excellent book!

excellent cupcake 5

 

*This book was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

31f16-tlc-logo-resized

About David Nicholls

David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Find out more about David at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

David’s Tour Stops

Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader

Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, October 13th: BookNAround

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue

Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris

Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter

Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book

Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks

Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic

Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora

Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey

Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings

Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Saturday, November 15th: BoundbyWords

Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days

Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies

Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo

Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs

Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, November 26th: missris

TBD: Reading in Black & White

TBD: …the bookworm…

SheReads

She Reads Fall Book Tour: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

My Review:

Wow.  This book has it all: family dysfunction, family secrets, marital affairs, sibling rivalry, suicide, survivor’s guilt, divorce, and shame.  The Bird family all experience the majority of their heartbreak in their family home.  After the death of the Bird’s matriarch, the family comes together to clean out their home.  Along with it, many family memories come up to the surface and the Bird family members have to address everything they buried underneath all their pain and shame.

It is interesting that the family is named “Bird”, the matriarch’s favorite holiday is Easter, and the biggest tragedy actually happens on Easter.  The Bird family all do their best to escape the family nest, but to embrace their future, every one of them has to visit their past.  Sadly, their past isn’t all Easter eggs wrapped in color foil.  The items in the house (as the mom was a hoarder), are signs of the sadness that was hidden underneath each item.  Lorelei (Bird’s matriarch) states that the items all represent a specific time and place with a memory that she wants to remember long past a picture can provide.

Meg is the oldest daughter, followed by Beth, and their twin brothers: Rory and Rhys.  Lorelei is a mom with her own obsessive compulsive tendencies, stemmed from a childhood of sexual abuse.  The patriarch (Colin) is rather aloof and quiet, doing what he needs to so that he can pacify Lorelei.  Vicky is the neighbor, who is married with 2 daughters.  Each one has their issues, leading up to the family tragedy, with evidence that shows the family was already cracking long before that event.

There are so many layers to this story, with so many rabbit trails that Lisa Jewell takes readers through.  With amazing writing techniques, Lisa Jewell manages to bring each different story and show their relevance and importance to the overall storyline.  I would love to talk about Bethan (Beth) and her black outs, because there is so much she saw and really holds the largest piece to the puzzle after her mom dies.  I think there are some family secrets of incest and the abuse Beth sees and experiences, passes on to the relationship she has with someone in the family.  There are so many layers to this story, and is a book that will become a book club favorite!  It’s a long book, but every single page is worth it.

supreme cupcake rating 6

A huge thanks to She Reads for selecting one fantastic book for us to read!  No forms of compensation were given.   

I would like to thank Lisa Jewell and the publisher,  Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster) for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

To read more reviews of all the She Reads selection for the Books of Fall, click here

TLC Book Tours: This Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

This Dark Road to Mercy

• Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 23, 2014)

After their mother unexpectedly dies, twelve-year-old Easter Quillby and her six-year-old sister, Ruby, aren’t expecting to see their errant father, Wade, ever again. But the ex–minor league baseball player who’s been gone for years has suddenly appeared at their foster home to steal them away in the middle of the night.

Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, begins looking for them, and quickly turns up unsettling information linking their father to a multimillion-dollar robbery. But Brady isn’t the only hunter on the trail. Robert Pruitt, a mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated in alternating voices that are at once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a soulful story about the emotional pull of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

My Review:

This book is gut wrenching, difficult to read, somber, but oh, so good!  I immediately was drawn into the world of Easter and her sister, Ruby.  Interesting names, given to them by their pill-addicted mother, which was perhaps one of the most endearing things she did for them: name them.  Due to tragic circumstances, Easter and Ruby live at a foster home with other children.  Their foster mother is working with their grandparents to help transition them to Alaska, where they will be able to live with family….family they don’t know.  Easter is 12 years old, but very wise beyond her years.  She is coming into her own, with school boy crushes, but also has the reality of dealing with homelessness, not fitting in, trying to be a surrogate mom to her baby sister, and still be a kid herself.  Wade is their biological father, who had aspirations to be a professional baseball player, and signs away his parental rights.  However, on the run and wanting to be with his daughters, Wade takes them and their journey begins.

This is a tough story to read because it is rather dark, however don’t let that sway you.  This is a fantastic story that really sheds light on the love between sisters, fitting in, starting over, and trying to change despite the past trying to define someone.  It was heartbreaking at times, but there are moments of hope and definitely mercy!  From the moment I opened the book, I was in Easter and Ruby’s world.  Easter is the heroine of the story, because she is so resilient, gives hope, and in many ways represents the many children in foster care, who simply want to fit in and be loved.  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4

About Wiley CashWiley Cash

Wiley Cash is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home. A native of North Carolina, he has held residency positions at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Find out more about Wiley on his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wiley’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 21st: Mom’s Small Victories

Tuesday, October 21st: Tutu’s Two Cents

Wednesday, October 22nd: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 23rd: Fourth Street Review

Friday, October 24th: Lit and Life

Tuesday, October 28th: The Steadfast Reader

Wednesday, October 29th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, October 30th: A Bookworm’s World

Friday, October 31st: My Book Retreat

Monday, November 3rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, November 4th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Thursday, November 5th: Books in the Burbs

Friday, November 6th: The Year in Books

TLC Book Tours: Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Click on cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

I read Christina Baker Kline’s book, Orphan Train, and enjoyed it very much! It was a historical fiction book, so I was truly intrigued about this book. It’s not a historical fiction book, which is quite hard for authors to do (jumping from genre to another) and succeed.  However, Christina Baker Kline is certainly the exception and her writing skills are spot on with this great book!

I read this book in about 1.5 days.  Christina’s writing draws you in immediately.  It’s not a book you have to wait to really get invested in…it starts from page 1.  I remember reading the first 10 pages and a friend asked what I was reading.  I told her and she asked how it was.  I told her, “It’s fantastic!! There is so much happening, that I can’t put it down!”.  She asked what page I was on…I was on page 10.  Just 10 pages.  We laughed as she said I was really giving this book huge accolades when I hadn’t read that much.  However, in those 10 pages, so much happens that it felt like I had read 3 chapters, at least.  Why? Because it takes that long to be introduced to the characters, build up the plot, then create a twist.  This book did that mid-way through the chapter!  It just goes to show how quickly the pace of the book moves, with the readers getting to know the 4 main characters and the challenges they face as they each have to look at their marriage, their friendships, and their future.

I always tell people that if an author can get me to dislike a character, they are a fantastic author.  It’s easy to create a character to sympathize with, but it’s quite challenging to create one that brings out so much emotion and disgust.  That is how I felt about Charlie.  He is the person that I felt this story truly revolved around, because he demanded it.  It was about how he felt in the marriage, what kind of attention (if any) he wanted to give to his children and wife, his relationship with his college friends, even about how the accident his wife was in, was going to affect him.  In the end, I wasn’t too happy with how it ended for him, but I have a feeling that if the pages continues, Charlie will find himself in a different situation.

Allison is the wife that many will resonate with, feel compassion towards, even be angry with…after all, she was in a devastating accident that has life long consequences.  Allison is also the friend of Claire, who in many ways lives vicariously through her friends, as she romps around and ventures into the world of writing.  Ben is the supportive husband, successful, and devoted to his wife:  Claire.  While there is a lot that goes in the book, there is much not written, which will leave many wondering about the future of these 4 friends.  I hope Christina Baker Kline considers writing a sequel because I would love to love to know what happens!

Christina Baker Kline is brilliant, as she tackles some huge issues that couples face, even if the circumstances are different.  Every couple at one point or another has to decide how to make their marriage better, career choices and how to manage their household.  Sadly, some couples have to deal with issues of infidelity, trust, respect, and boundaries.  Each of these issues are tackled in this fantastic book, that will make fro a great book club discussion, and be a favorite for many! excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided through the publisher and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

 

 

Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

 

Christina’s Tour Stops

Bird in Hand

Thursday, October 16th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, October 21st: Kritters Ramblings

Thursday, October 23th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, October 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, October 29th: BoundbyWords

Thursday, October 30th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Monday, November 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

 

 

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

Click on cover for synopsis.

My Review:

The book reminds me of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg, all mixed together. Except, the main dish is Amen pie, which sounds pretty scrumptious.  The story centers around Sis, caretaker to her grandma, nephew, and sister.  Her sister has her own demons to contend with, all while raising her son, preparing for a wedding, and dealing with flashbacks to being a pregnant teen mom.  Jim, her brother, is back from Vietnam with his own PTSD and wooden leg to contend with.  Lastly, there is Beulah, caretaker and confident to Sweet Mama (Sis’s grandma).  With a wedding to prepare for, overseeing a restaurant that is the beacon of hope for a small town community, and preparing for Camille, a grade 5 hurricane, this book has all the great ingredients to a great book! Add in a dead body in the backyard, and you also have a little mystery to deal with.

The book kept my attention, had a lot of events going on, and the characters were quite interesting.  The book kept at smooth pace, and even though there was a lot happening in the story, the author does a great job of introducing different characters and connecting them in a way that keeps the storyline moving along without becoming stagnant.  I did feel the story was a bit rushed at the end, but it still ended in a great way!  While the story ends, there is much to be left to the imagination!  Nothing is truly solved, but the story ends with a great measure of hope!  Hope for new beginnings, for love, and for a family to stay together despite circumstances that can easily tear them apart.

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publishers and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.