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Big Little Lies

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.
 BigLittleLies
My Review..........5 stars!
This is one of those books that you just can't put down until you find out what's going to happen! On the surface this book is about the parents (mostly the moms) at an elementary school. It has all the typical social hierarchy, mean moms, and finger pointing that go on all the time in these communities. But it is so much more than that! It's also about what goes on behind closed doors of these families, interspersed with a murder that you not only want to figure out the "who done it", but also the "who is it"? Oh, and there is a huge twist at the end to complete the package! This is one of those books that felt way shorter to me than the over 400 pages that it contains because you just kept turning pages to find out what was going to happen next.
This is my third book by this author (What Alice Forgot and The Husband's Secret being the others), and while I enjoyed the other two, this one is by far my favorite! Such a fun read, don't miss it 🙂

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The House We Grew Up In

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

My review..............5 stars
TheHouseWeGrewUpInWhat a great read!! I was first intrigued by this book when I read that one of the central issues was hoarding. I have to admit a fascination with that tv show about hoarders, so I went into the book to fuel that. What I got was SO much more! From watching the television show, it's always very clear that something happens in the people's lives to trigger the hoarding of stuff. It's also true in this case, although Lorelei always had the tendency to collect things well before the extenuating circumstances. All of the characters in this book have issues to deal with, it's without a doubt a dysfunctional family. And yet, they all fit together, and you can see throughout the book why each is the way that they are. This book is written by an English writer who I have not read before, but I'm certain to check out some of her previous works. Her writing style was great, and I got a kick out of some of the names for commonplace items, my favorite being people carrier (ie car). There wasn't really anything I would change about this book, I loved it from beginning to end!
Definitely worth the read, and you'll thank me when it makes you want to clean up all your clutter after you're done 🙂

The Stories We Tell

 
Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is back witha powerful novel about the stories we tell and the people we trust.Eve and Cooper Morrison are Savannah’s power couple. They’re on every artistic board and deeply involved in the community. She owns and operates a letterpress studio specializing in the handmade; he runs a digital magazine featuring all things southern gentlemen. The perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new, Eve and Cooper are the beautiful people. The lucky ones. And they have the wealth and name that comes from being part of an old Georgia family. But things may not be as good as they seem. Eve’s sister, Willa, is staying with the family until she gets "back on her feet." Their daughter, Gwen, is all adolescent rebellion. And Cooper thinks Eve works too much. Still, the Morrison marriage is strong. After twenty-one years together, Eve and Cooper know each other. They count on each other. They know what to expect. But when Cooper and Willa are involved in a car accident, the questions surrounding the event bring the family close to breaking point. Sifting between the stories—what Cooper says, what Willa remembers, what the evidence indicates—Eve has to find out what really happened. And what she’s going to do about it.A riveting story about the power of truth, The Stories we Tell will open your eyes and rearrange your heart.

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My Review...........3 stars
I liked this book overall. It was an engaging read, and I thought it flowed well. The author's use of words and phrases was pleasing, and I thought she did a decent job of moving the story along. I didn't really get invested in any of the characters, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the read. Then I got to the end, and it was ruined. It was just too rushed....almost like she got tired of writing the story, or her deadline was approaching, so she just summed everything up in the most predictable way ever! I don't mind the happily ever after ending to books, but this one didn't have anything slowly leading up to that end, it just happened in about 20 pages. The biggest beef I had was the resolution with the 17 year old daughter. Speaking from experience with teenagers, it just wasn't realistic for things to change so quickly.
I attended a book event with this author, and many of the readers there spoke about how much they enjoyed her books, especially And Then I Found You. I ended up purchasing that book, and will definitely give another of her books a go. If it were not for feeling unfulfilled by the ending, I would have probably rated this 3.5 stars.

Small Blessings

From debut novelist Martha Woodroof comes an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.
SmallBlessingsThen, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train.  His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.

My review..........3.5 stars
Overall,I liked this book, but it was divided into two sections, and my feelings about the book were divided along with them. I thought part one (about a third of the book) was a bit slow moving. The writing was very well done, and the characters well developed, but something was just a bit ho-hum for me. The second part of the book picked up considerably. Once we got into the story of Henry, and all the other people of the town, I was hooked. This book does have a rather predictable ending, but the way it gets to that end is all sorts of happy reading! At the end of the book, I found myself wanting to get a followup to find out how all of the characters were doing 🙂 It was an excellent character study of some ordinary people, all of whom had some sadness in their life that they were working through.
I got the chance to hear Martha promote this book at my local bookstore. While she has written many articles for many publications over the years (NPR, NY Times, Washington Post), this is her first novel. The publishing of this book is a dream come true for her, and she spoke about never giving up on a life goal!
This is well worth a read, especially after the first 100 pages.

This past Sunday evening, I had the pleasure to attend an evening with Jan Karon at my local Indie bookstore (Quail Ridge Books & Music). IMG_0117

Jan's newest novel Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good was recently released. It's been 5 years since we've had a Father Tim novel, and 10 years since we've been back in the loveable town of Mitford. For those who follow the series (10 books total), there have been two Father Tim books where he has traveled outside of Mitford, but he is back in this latest novel! It was fun to hear Jan talk about how many letters she received from people wanting the story to be back in Mitford.....she definitely listens to her readers, that was very evident at this event. Truly a delightful sprite of a thing (I look like the Jolly Green.....er.....purple Giant in my pic next to her), she was lovely, and very humbled by all of her success. She talked a lot about some of her favorite characters, two of whom she had to "let go of" when they died in the novels (Uncle Billy and Sadie).  She revealed that there is another Mitford novel in the works, which will hopefully be released next fall.

I have not had the chance to read the new novel yet, but stay tuned for my review soon.

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A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

 

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon; the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell. But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Fredrik Backman's novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

 

AManCalledOve

My Review........5 stars!!!!

I adored this book! Being a fan of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, as soon as I saw that this was recommended to readers of that book, as well as a 5 star review from one of my fellow book bloggers, I knew that I had to read this. I am SO glad that I did!

Ove really was a curmudgeon, but I just knew that he had a heart under his gruff exterior, and loved how it was gradually brought out as the novel progressed. Parts of his personality remind me of a lot of older men in my Dad's generation. His relationship with his wife Sonja was so lovely, and drives much of the story forward.

I laughed, I cried (more than once), and I wish I could read this all over again! Definitely a must read!

 

The Girls of August

Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.
TheGirlsofAugust
My review........2 stars
The good thing I have to say about this book is that it was a quick read. And the beach house they stay at sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, it paled for me in just about every other way.
The story was so predictable, I felt like I had read it all before! The women were shallow, and never really developed in the story. They all had some secret that they brought to the beach weekend, very predictable to guess as the story progresses. I really didn't find myself liking any of them. I felt that the description of the house was better written than the women.
Overall a disappointment for me. I think there are lots of chick lit books out there to read, this is not one to bother with unless you want a quick read about a beautiful beach house 🙂

Elizabeth Is Missing

by Emma Healey

In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth's mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud's rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey's disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?


My Review.......4 stars

This was a wonderful read! My heart was breaking for the main character Maud, who is in the later stages of dementia. The author did a wonderful job of giving us a sense of what it's like to live in this world. I also loved the supporting characters of Maud's daughter Helen, and her granddaughter Katie. The struggles they went through in dealing with Maud to help her maintain some sense of dignity, while keeping her safe, were very well written. The parallel story of Maud's sister Sukey, who also went missing years before, kept the story moving back and forth in time, but it was not confusing to follow.

The only reason that I gave this 4 stars instead of 5, would have to be the ending. I just didn't feel like it summed things up sufficiently for me. Since this was written from the perspective of Maud, I realize that it was the only way it could have ended, what with her confusion taking over her mind. I still wish I could have followed some of the other characters just a bit farther, to see how things ended for them. I guess that's what happens when you get so invested in these characters, which is of course, the sign of a good writer 🙂

Definitely worth a read!

 

Hi there, and welcome!

I'm Donna, and I've decided to delve into the blogging (specifically book blogging) world. I've been reading so many great blogs by readers, and it's given me a great selection of new books to read (to say nothing of the amount my "to be read" pile has grown!). I thought I would like to start reviewing the books I've read, to hopefully help others discover if a book sounds like a good fit for them. While I occasionally go outside of my normal style, I mostly read literary fiction, and chick lit books. I will also add any fun articles I find relating to the book world.

So if that is of interest to you, by all means keep coming back to check out what's new on "D" bookshelf 🙂