Friday, October 24, 2014

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Three mothers, Jane, Madeline and Celeste, all very different in every way, find themselves forming a friendship because their children are all starting kindergarten at the same time.   During orientation a little girl comes out of the classroom crying with red marks on her neck because another child was choking her.  Asked who hurt her, the little girl points at Ziggy, Jane’s small and meek five year old.  So starts a saga of bullying inside and outside of the classroom engulfing the lives of not just the schoolchildren but their parents as well.

I really enjoyed the way the story was structured.  At the end of most chapters there are brief (a sentence or two) transcript pieces from a number of adults about the murder at the Primary School Trivia Night.  The best part?  You don’t know who died until VERY late in the book.  You may guess, but if you’re like me, you keep changing your mind about who died.  And while I eventually stuck to my guns and picked the correct victim, I was blindsided by who the murderer turned out to be.

Moriarty tackles big problems like bullying and domestic violence in her long, but easy to read novel.  Those that like domestic drama, but do not like Picoult would most likely enough Moriarty because she adds one thing Picoult doesn’t: humor.  Even though Moriarty is tackling some very serious issues, and can write a very good dramatic scene, she infuses humor in a lot of the story making the story flow along.

One Kick by Chelsea Cain


One Kick by Chelsea Cain

Kick Lannigan was abducted as a young girl by a stranger and found six years later, miraculously alive, but not at all well.  Since her rescue she has been working on making a safe life for herself, her dog and her brother.  She has tried numerous therapies but the ones that work best include physical defense mechanisms.  Now 21 she is feeling better about her life but still hates herself for what she did.  Kick knows she is the reason that other kids are being abducted and used like she was.  She didn’t notice enough and she destroyed evidence, so now she notices everything.  To help in a small way she drives for hours looking for cars reported in Amber Alerts hoping to find other missing kids and bring them home. The arrival of a strange man on her doorstep changes Kick’s life; she may finally have an opportunity to do something and assuage some of her guilt.

I’m a fan of Cain’s Gretchen and Archie series so I was interested in her new series.  Her main character is extremely damaged but oh so strong.  I was very glad the author didn’t detail what Kick suffered at the hands of her kidnapper.  We know that Kick was in many movies collected by pedophiles, but thankfully we don’t know much about them.  But what we know is more than enough and the fact that this character wakes up and faces each day seems like an amazing thing.  While disturbing it had a satisfying ending and I would read the next in the series.  And for audiobook fans this one zipped by; worked really well in this format.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove is cranky.  He’s the grumpy old man that lives on your block and patrols the area each morning to make sure everyone is following the rules.  He loathes technology and can’t understand why people today can’t fix things themselves.  He desperately misses his wife and feels life really isn’t worth going through any more.  Then the new neighbors move in and interrupt his sadness by backing their trailer into his mailbox.  And then they keep bothering him, and he keeps helping them because they are obviously hopelessly inept.  Could Ove have found reasons to stay around for a while longer?

I am not a big fan of feel-good books, but every once in a while one will really get to me.  The dark humor of the beginning is bitingly funny and gives way to a blossoming in our understanding of the grump that is Ove.  You will find yourself wanting to talk to that cantankerous curmudgeon you pass on the street to see what his deal is.  Ove is Ove for many reasons, many of which you discover in the pages of this book.

Even though it’s embarrassing to admit I did cry at the end of this book.  It’s got a great poignant, bittersweet and funny (all at the same time) ending that is wonderful.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

 The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has it all.  She runs an extremely successful Tupperware business, has organized her house so everything has, and is in, its place and is married to a loving husband and has wonderful children.  All is perfect in Cecilia’s life until she decides to organize her husband’s things in the attic and comes across a letter addressed to her in the event of his death.  The letter was obviously written ages ago and when he phones from his business trip she jokes with him about it.  He gets very quiet and asks her to destroy it.  After much inner struggle, you know what she does.  Yep, she opens it.  And learns the secret her husband has been keeping from the world.

I can’t really say too much more about the book.  You’ll be able to figure out what the general subject of the secret sooner than Cecilia, but she doesn’t open the letter until about halfway through the book.  The writing really moves, you are caught up in the main and secondary storylines and pulled along.  Fans of Jodi Picoult and Chris Bohjalian will find a lot to like in Moriarty’s book.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King

Believe it or not, this book came out 37 years ago!  I probably read it about twenty years ago so I decided to read it again before reading the sequel Doctor Sleep.

I’m sure everyone knows the story.  A man, Jack, his wife, Wendy, and young son, Danny, become the winter caretakers for a sweeping hotel in the mountains of Colorado appropriately called The Overlook.  Bad things happen. 

If you have only ever seen the movie you should really read the book.  There is so much here that never made it to the screen.  Shining, the ability that Danny possesses is really glossed over in the movie and here you get to understand what Danny can do.  The Overlook is even scarier in print.  And you would never be able to turn your back on a hedge animal ever again!

A perfect creepy haunted house (hotel!) read!

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Mia Dennett, the daughter of a powerful Chicago judge, is kidnapped.  Her kidnapper was hired to hand her off to some thugs and he was concerned that they would kill her.  So instead of handing her over he finds himself taking her to a cabin his family used long ago in the deep woods of Minnesota.  Her mother, Eve, is frantic and her father is stoic, as per usual.  Gabe, the detective assigned to the case and warned not to mess up, grows close to Eve as they try to find her daughter.

The structure of the book is really interesting.  There are three main points of view: Gabe, Eve and Colin (the kidnapper).  Each tells their story as Before (while Mia is gone) and After (Mia returned to her family).  Having the multiple viewpoints and two timelines makes the disjointed storytelling work well to keep the reader off balance.

I listened to this book and I didn’t really like any of the readers.  I stuck with it because of the interesting structure and because no reader was reading for more than ten minutes at a stretch.  There is a zinger of an ending, but I felt it could have come sooner.  This is one I may have enjoyed it more in print format.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

Five victims are brought together by a psychologist specializing in recovery after traumatic events.  Her patients are not your typical victims of violent crime.  Each feels unique and isolated, yet she brings this group together to help one another heal through the similarities in their experiences.  These people have been through a lot, one was kidnapped and mutilated by cannibals, and another had her bones scrimshawed.  (Think about that last one for a bit and try not to shudder.)  But by bringing these singular victims together will the other that has touched them reach out again?

This is a great quick read (less than 200 pages!) to get you in the mood for Halloween.  Spooky and creepy, yet it’s a really interesting dynamic between the characters at group.  Lots of twists and turns and jumps keep you guessing what will happen next.  Very much set in a Lovecraft universe with touches of Cthulhu’s tentacles even though he who must not be named is never actually mentioned.