book review

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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book review, Children's Fiction, murder, Young Adult Fiction, youth fiction

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

This Flavia de Luce novel was a bit different from the rest – and it was because of that I found it difficult to get through. The previous three books were fun and exciting – even if it involved solving a murder. But this one, was dark and somber, mostly because it was centered on Harriet coming home. Harriet, who had been missing for ten years, had been found, long-since frozen on a Himalayan mountainside and the sudden realization that her mother was dead forever sent Flavia into an emotional tail spin of epic proportions. Her father, who had always been morose, and her spiteful sisters were also plunged even further into the depths of despair.  This isn’t to say the book wasn’t excellent – it was – the subject of Harriet’s death and subsequent burial were unexpected and depressing.

 

The book did end on a positive note so that was good. The murder was caught and unfortunately killed in their escape (in a particularly spectacular way, only a teensy bit gruesome.) If you have trouble thinking about interacting with corpses, you may want to skip the part where Flavia opens her mother’s coffin and gives Harriet a kiss.  At first I was troubled by Flavia’s plan to resurrect her mother from the dead with a chemical injection of thiamine and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), but then I remembered when you’re eleven, you believe anything is possible, and, especially because, “It was a brilliant idea, and because it was scientific, it simply could not fail.”

 

Rating  4 daisy rating

 

Debby 2Reviewer: Debby

 

book review, family, Memoir, mental illness, Nonfiction Review, psychology, self-help

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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book review, Children's Fiction, Picture Book, youth fiction

Boo-La-La Witch Spa

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Boo-La-La Witch Spa

 

Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
Dial Books for Young Readers

 

From the book jacket: “All tuckered out from trick-or-treating? Feeling drained after a seriously strong spell? Come on in to our Fab-BOO Witch Spa! We’ll get the SPOOK back in your step in no time. Relax with a cup of bat-whisker tea and some Candy Corn Flan, and then try our Broom Bristle Facial or a Scalp Rub done by spiders. Our spa treatments are sure to make any young spell-caster feel refreshed, rejuvenated, an positively revolting. Stop in today!”

 

This picture book shows how witches relax after a hard day of witching! A tired young witch and her equally tired black cat arrive at a spa for a little pampering. They are greeted by a gnome and then chooses which treatment to enjoy. They chose such luxuries as a Scarab Skin Scrub, and Eye of Newt Wrap and a nap in a pool of snail drool (yuk!). How about a sauna of hot dragon break and a steam in a sea monster’s lair! The witch and cat have lots of treatments that are wonderful to them but gross to an average human or cat! A the end of the day, the witch has her hair and nails done, picks up a few things in the gift shop and heads home ready for more witchery!

 

Love the illustrations – each two-page spread are richly detailed and on many you have to look close in order not to miss anything. The story is written in clever rhymes with medium-large print. It’s a cute and fun book for early readers to read on their own or to read to the younger ones.

 

Rating: 3 daises

 

Reviewer: Debby Debby 2

 

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book review

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