“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty

Big_Little_Lies_Cover

Pirriwee Public is a beautiful little beachside primary school where children are taught that ‘sharing is caring.’ So how has the annual School Trivia Night ended in full-blown riot? Sirens are wailing. People are screaming. The principal is mortified.

And one parent is dead.

Was it a murder, a tragic accident or just good parents gone bad? As the parents at Pirriwee Public are about to discover, sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, school-yard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

-excerpt taken from http://lianemoriarty.com.au/Book/big-little-lies-us/

Review:

I like to stay relevant on this blog and read what is popular, so I moved this book to the top of my TBR list after hearing a lot of hype about it, and I am so happy that I did.

“Big Little Lies” is what I would describe as a lighthearted whodunnit that also manages to cover some real issues, such as domestic and sexual abuse.  It does so in a way that I think could be helpful, showing the mindset of the abused and what must be done to overcome and get out of those types of situations.

The story is told from multiple POV’s.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different lady, most of whom have children that attend the same school.  We find out in the first chapter that there has been a murder that occurred on the night of an annual school trivia night.  Every chapter is leading up to the night of the murder, and dropping hints about who the victim and the murderer are.  We don’t know either as we go through the book, and the author does a good job IMO of keeping you guessing – my ideas changed many times throughout the book.

Also, in each chapter she adds short excerpts of police interviews (the POV’s of these range widely, and oftentimes aren’t main characters) from the night of the murder that show the speculation of attenders of the trivia night, and also the way the characters are viewed by the society they live in, i.e. lots of gossip ensues.

I give this book 5 out of 5 lollipops {had to, look at the cover 🙂 }.  The whole concept is quite genius and I couldn’t help but think about how complicated this book must have been to write.  It went down easy, and when I wasn’t reading I was thinking about it.  I enjoyed the short chapters – as a mom of four, I like having readily available stopping points in a book for when my kids inevitably interrupt my reading time.  The only critique I have is that there are SO many characters in this book, I sometimes had a hard time keeping them straight.  I have a hard time even calling that a critique however, because part of the way through I had it figured out.  Liane does a good job of really painting a picture of who each character is, all of which are completely individual from each other, so if anybody can handle a large cast in a story, it’s her.

Extremely enjoyable read – I highly recommend!

 

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“The Chemist” by Stephenie Meyer

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She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

-excerpt taken from http://stepheniemeyer.com/project/the-chemist/

Review:

I was beyond excited when I found out that Stephenie Meyer was coming out with something new.  I am a huge fan, as stated in a previous post, and was hungry for more of her work.

Stephenie Meyer is a big fan of the Bourne series and even dedicated the book to “Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross.”  She mentions seeing “The Bourne Legacy” nine times in theaters in her infographic that she released.  It also mentions that she was on the set of the “Breaking Dawn” movies when the idea for this book was originally conceived.

The main character is a girl who has had many names, but we know as “Alex.”  She moves from place to place, always looking over her shoulder, and setting up chemical booby traps as she sleeps to keep herself safe.  She is a brilliant chemist who was formerly used by the government to torture information out of people using her own sinister concoctions, that not only cause extreme pain, but have never failed her in getting the information she needs.

Tired of looking over her shoulder, and offered a way out, Alex takes one final job.  She is told her target has weapons that could possibly kill hundreds of thousands of people.  When given information about the accused, Daniel seems like a decent guy; a teacher; a volleyball coach, but Alex knows this is all a front.  She is able to find him, sedate him, and eventually torture him through the use of her injectables.  When his thought-to-be-dead twin brother, Kevin, comes crashing into the building to save him, she soon finds out that the man she is torturing has been set up.

Kevin works for the CIA and had faked his own death.  Daniel is very surprised to see him because of this.  They soon find out that the real reason Alex had been asked to do this job was to draw Kevin out of hiding, and, with any lucky, one or both of them would be killed, eliminating problems for their respective agencies.

After a struggle between them, they are able to figure all of this out, and by Daniel’s suggestion, they band together to try to stay alive; a tactic the agencies won’t expect.  They go into hiding, all the time having to watch their backs.  Alex is surprised when she develops feelings for Daniel, and by default he becomes a liability for her that she has to try to keep safe.

I give this book 4 out of 5 strips of bacon (Yes, you heard me – bacon.  This is my book review blog, and I don’t have to rate in stars if I don’t feel like it.  I’m a way bigger fan of bacon than stars anyway.)  This is not my typical genre.  But I still thought it was very enjoyable, and Stephenie Meyer is great at making you care about characters that make questionable life choices (i.e. drink human blood or torture people using chemicals).  I found myself rooting for Alex and Daniel’s relationship.  I’m not an animal book/movie person, but Kevin’s use of trained dogs to keep them safe was more entertaining than I would have guessed.  I kind of want a highly trained dog now, though I would only use mine to bring me treats, and give my children rides on its back.

The only criticism I really have is that it was probably a tad too long and detailed (over 500 pages), but I know that is Stephenie Meyer’s style and you really can’t knock her for that.  Overall, an enjoyable read!

 

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

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Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

-excerpt taken from paulahawkinsbooks.com

Review:

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this compelling.  If my life wasn’t so busy I would have had this book finished in a day or two, but because of my schedule it took me four days (still very fast for me).  You know a book has got you hooked when you wake up early for church on Sunday so you can get a little reading in before you have to get in the shower.

This story is told mainly from the perspective of Rachel, who rides the train every day and becomes interested in a couple (whom she’s nicknamed “Jason and Jess”) she can see from the window who seemingly have the perfect life, similar to a life she used to have.  We learn fairly quickly that Rachel is a drunk.  She has been fired from her job for her drinking, and only rides the train every day to make her roommate think she is still employed.  She one day witnesses “Jess” kissing a man who is not her husband.  Rachel takes this betrayal personally having gone through infidelity in her own past relationship.  When she spies her very own “Jess” on the cover of a news article stating that she is missing she thinks she may be the only one who knows about the woman’s lover and should come forward with what she knows.

“Jason and Jess” (whose real names end up being Scott and Megan) happen to live on the same street that she used to live on herself with her ex-husband, Tom, and now the mistress he left her for, Anna.  Her interest in the couple she sees from the train oftentimes has her bumping into her ex, his new wife, and their baby more than she already had been (and had been told not to).  This does not go over well with her ex’s new wife, Anna, who wants Rachel out of their lives.

Rachel begins contacting Scott to try to help and integrates herself into the investigation.  She had been blackout drunk the night that Megan went missing and she can only remember bits and pieces of what happened and desperately tries to remember and piece together the puzzle so she can hopefully help figure out what really happened to Megan.

The book is written originally from Rachel’s POV, but then changes between Megan’s and also Anna’s POV’s as well.  The dates are off-set as well, so as you are reading you are finding out what is happening from how Rachel is seeing it as well as what was really going on from the inside with Megan’s side of the story, until you build-up to the end where the pieces finally come together.

I was pleased with how the book was set up.  I am noticing a trend with a few books recently where first person POV’s change frequently.  It can be confusing but in a way you are able to get more info because you are seeing multiple sides of the same story.  This book, unlike others I’ve read that are set up with the changing POV, states at the beginning of each section whose POV you are going to be reading – I really like that because I don’t have to spend any time trying to figure out who is “talking” and can just enjoy the subject matter.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.  It is not very often that I read a book that I can’t put down.  I really didn’t want this one to end, and I don’t often feel that way.  In a way I feel relief at the end of some books just because it will be nice to take a break from a particular subject and move onto something new, but not with this one!  I’m wishing I had a sequel to look forward to.  I would definitely recommend this book if you are a fan of mysteries, thrillers, and adult fiction.