Big Little Lies

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My guilty pleasure read recently was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Based in Australia, Moriarty has a gift for women’s fiction.  I first discovered this author when I read, The Perfect Husband.  In many of her books Moriarty explores those the relationships we hold dear.  She opens the closed doors behind which our most private moments are hidden. Moriarty’s books allow us to experience both the humor and tragedy of her characters while helping us have more empathy and compassion in our own relationships.

In Big Little Lies we visit a lovely coastal town where most of the people who live there are well off, and the mothers of the Perouee Preschool have plenty of time to focus on getting the best schooling for their little ones even if it means excluding those mothers and children they feel are inferior.  The story focuses on three mothers: beautiful and feisty Madeline whose wit and temper make her a formidable opponent when the ‘blond bobs’ begin to harass her new friend Jane and her small son Ziggy.  Jane is the youngest of the mothers at the preschool. She is a loner struggling with her own self-worth and is surprised when she is taken under Madeline’s wing.  Finally there is Madeline’s best friend Celeste, with breathtakingly stunning good looks, a handsome, successful husband and the mother of two identical twin sons. Celeste holds a secret so terrible she would rather die than admit it, even to Madeline.

Big Little Lies steps apart from a ‘typical’ chick lit book by also being, at its’ heart, a mystery.  As the story opens we find that a shocking death has occurred: murder or accident? It’s anyone’s guess. Nothing is revealed until the conclusion: you won’t know exactly what happened, who was involved, or even who died.  Each chapter begins with a Greek chorus of sorts:  various witnesses, interviewed by the police, gossiping their way through the book.  The book was fun to read, and gives us a peek into mob mentality in its worst form. And yes, it happened in a preschool.

I loved Big Little Lies and look forward to the HBO special coming out in 2017.  Nicole Kidman optioned this book and will star as Madeline, along with Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley.

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4 daisy rating

Reviewed by Leigh

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Codependent No More

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I will never stop reading this book. Codependent No More reminds me to nurture the person I am and not feel guilty about that. To take care of myself. To remember I cannot control others no matter how much I may think I know what’s best for them.

I know. It’s ridiculous. I sound like I’m nuts. But sometimes my family makes me nuts.  Codependent No More – How to Stop Controlling Others And Start Caring For Yourself was originally written from the prospective of a former alcoholic married to an alcoholic.  Melody Beattie is very frank about her background and knows where of she speaks.

However, this book for any one who is in a relationship that seems out of control. Is your teen acting out or your adult child abusing drugs? Are you are overeating, overexercising, overspending while you seethe and obsess about ways to solve the problem or what advice you want to give?   Is your spouse taking advantage of your good nature and you are doing all you can to keep the peace while inside you feel resentful and used?

It’s natural for us to want to help. The problem is sometimes things have to run their course. Sometimes we really Can. Not. Help. Still we feel compelled to try. And nothing happens. Or the person we tried to help doesn’t appreciate us. Or they don’t want our help. We feel frustrated. Angry. Hurt. Victimized.

Being codependent isn’t always about alcoholics, drug users, or someone living an extreme lifestyle, though it can be, and if that is your life then this book is for you.  But it is also about people-pleasers like me, who care too much when it is actually ourselves for whom we should be caring.

Read Melody’s book. She will make you feel good about yourself, help you embrace the strong wonderful person you are, and in the long run, help you develop healthy relationships with all your loved ones.

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

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Melody Beattie

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The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side

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I listen to audiobooks all the time, in my car and when I walk.  Usually it’s an exciting suspense or interesting non-fiction.  This week it was The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie, and as an audiobook I heard via my phone, the old tale was fresh and new all over again, with Miss Marple coming alive as never before.

As the story opens Miss Marple has advanced in years and her little town of Saint Mary Mead has grown to include a ‘development’, a collection of new homes just outside of town; increasing the size and population of what was once a sweet rural town. Miss Marple, at 86, is more housebound than in previous novels but she still has her friends, neighbors, and relatives from whom to glean information.

With the help of Mrs. Gantry, who once owned Gossington Hall and now the scene of an unexpected death, and her nephew the police inspector, Mrs. Marple uses her wit and wiles to discover  what really happened the day a local woman, Heather Babcock, is killed while visiting the Hall for a benefit. Was it an accident? Or was it … murder?

The book’s title The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side references a poem by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalot, which is boldly recited by  Miss Marple several times in the novel, foreshadowing the killing as well as presenting a clue to motive.

“The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
       The Lady of Shalott.”

Because it’s written by Agatha Christie this book is chock full of interesting characters with hidden agendas, and definitely worth the read.  Folks who steer clear of Christie thinking her books can’t compare to more contemporary mysteries will be pleasantly surprised: it’s more modern than you might think.  And please enjoy Miss Marple. I did.  Her wit and wisdom warmed me the way I would if I had been visiting my grandmother.  Miss Marple is determinedly independent, politely outspoken, and altogether lovely.

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mirror_Crack%27d_from_Side_to_Side

 

 

 

Hotwire: A Maggie O’Dell Novel

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I’d been in a dry spell, with nothing good to read, when a coworker recommended Alex Kava.   The novel I chose to read by Kava was Hotwire : A Maggie O’Dell Novel.

Maggie O’Dell is a FBI agent, who as the story opens, has been asked to speak at a conference on her specialty: forensics. But when she arrives in rural Nebraska, Maggie receives a call from her boss telling her to put the conference on hold a day to help  local law enforcement.  In many small midwestern towns cows often outnumber the people living there. This makes it difficult for these towns to afford their own forensic departments, so they must rely on state and federal  resources for assistance. That said, Maggie finds it odd to be called on to investigate a cow mutilation.  Even more unusual is the fact the carcass is completely drained of blood, with one eye missing and the poor animal’s legs raised towards the sky.

What is thought to be a government cover-up by the cattle ranchers, and part alien invasion by more creative residents, has Maggie stumped. And when local teenagers begin to die under mysterious circumstances Maggie decides to stay on to further her investigation, conference or no.  Later, when the body of yet another teen is found she is so puzzled  Maggie feels the need for a break.  Running down a secluded country road Maggie turns to see an old truck pulling to a stop at the top a hill. It guns its’ motor. Within seconds Maggie is run down, electrocuted, and kidnapped.

Meanwhile, across the country a strange outbreak occurs in Norfolk, VA and moves through several schools, making elementary students violently ill.  Maggie’s boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt races the clock to discover just what is making the children sick, and hopefully discover an antidote.

How the author links these seemingly random events makes Hotwire an exciting read. Maggie O’Dell is a resourceful character with lots of experience from which to draw and being independent as well means she doesn’t depend on her boyfriend to rescue her from the kidnappers.

I enjoyed Hotwire.  It was a fun, fast-paced novel, with enough science and real life scenarios to keep me guessing.  While the epilogue didn’t pull all the events together as well as I would have liked, I was still satisfied with the results.  I plan to read another Maggie O’Dell novel, just to see what happens next!

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

leigh-21

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Alex Kava

 

The END of Heart Disease

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Hello Dear Readers,

You know by now that reading books on cooking and nutrition is one of my passions and reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books is a must.  I own a copy of one of his first works on the Nutritarian plan, Eat to Live – The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss.  Basically Dr. Fuhrman advocates eating a primarily vegan diet with minor servings of animal products (if you must): beans, greens, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, small grain servings, nuts and seeds.

“Nutritional excellence, which involves eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and beans, does not have to exclude all animal products, but it has to be very rich in high-nutrient plant foods (which should make up well over 80 % of your calorie intake.) No more than 10 % of your total calories should come from animal foods.”

Dr. Fuhrman’s plan is very strict and to be honest, it’s difficult for me to follow. I use it as more of a guide to eating a healthier diet.  In the last few years, with all the new books being published I had strayed away from Eat to Live.  For example, I recently I told you about The Stash Plan  But Dr. Fuhrman’s new book, The End of Heart Disease – The Eat to LIve Plan To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has inspired me again.

This book is written to prevent and heal heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. Dr. Fuhrman believes 90 % of heart disease related deaths are preventable simply by taking care of yourself. Eating a diet based on plants and vegetables with a strong emphasis on nuts and seeds can make all the difference.

If you have one take away from this: eat a daily serving of walnuts, hemp, chia, or flax seeds. Walnuts, in particular, have the ability to increase your life span, reduce cardiovascular deaths, remove cholesterol from the body, lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, prevent aging in the brain cells and enhance brain viability.  Amazing right? What pill can do all that?

This book is not an easy read for the lay person; it took me some time, and I continue to refer back to it for the little tips like the one I just gave you on walnuts, but it’s worth the effort. Dr. Fuhrman includes plenty of recipes, as well as a special plan for those sick with heart disease or who are very over weight and need immediate help to begin healing.  The End of Heart Disease includes the latest scientific research to support Dr. Fuhrman’s belief that you can not only prevent, but actually heal and reverse heart disease.  He can’t do it for you, but he can show you how.

 

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Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

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