Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book Review: Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesAuthor: Liane Moriarty
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Berkley

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.

“Reading a novel was like returning to a once-beloved holiday destination.” 

“It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.”

“Champagne is never a mistake.”

“Nothing and nobody could aggravate you the way your child could aggravate you.”

“The only woman who deserved a philandering husband was a philandering wife.”

I was inspired to read this book after watching the first few episodes of the show on HBO. I had to stop because I had a strong urge to unravel the mystery on my own time instead of waiting for the show to end. So, I headed out to the bookstore and started reading. It took me no time at all to get through the 400+ pages that make up this book. This book has something for everyone. Essentially it follows the politics between a number of Kindergarten moms, which sounds crazy I know, but the story is very pleasing and the murder mystery is what will ultimately reel you in – YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO PUT IT DOWN UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! I love all three of the “main moms” that the story follows: Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. The story is told from each of their perspectives, so you get an intense look into the secrets of their lives.

The deeper you dive into this book, the more powerful the writing and story line becomes. You will rack your mind trying to guess who has been murdered and who is to blame, but I promise you will never guess. The writing is fast-paced and makes 4oo+ pages feel like a breeze. I fell in love with both Madeline and Jane right away. Celeste took me some time to get used to just because of what she puts up with in her marriage, but I won’t spoil that for you. The children are also a key point in the story and really make it extra edgy because they are involved in a little drama of their own. I am now anxious to see if HBO lives up to the book, but I can tell you they probably won’t. This is a great book that really does deal with some complexion themes and issues, while still being highly entertaining and even comical at times.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book Review: Reign of Shadows

Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows, #1)Author: Sophie Jordan
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Reign of Shadows # 1

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

“The world was a merciless place. Hard and cruel. Except when you found someone to trust and love. Life, however fleeting, possessed meaning then.” 

“Life is full of regrets. They’ll cripple you if you let them.” 

“She was . . . is beautiful. Like her mother. Like you.” He touched me then, pressing one finger directly over my heart. “You have it in here.” He coughed violently, his hand dropping away from me. “It’s a beauty that nothing can take away. Not this world or its monsters.” 

A Rapunzel retelling based in a world with little to no sunlight?! I had to find out more about this book that promised to be full of fantasy, romance, and a kick butt main character. The book is only 292 pages and I ended up finishing pretty quickly. The story was easy to fly through and even easier once I developed a strong connection to the two main character. Sophie Jordan builds the main character, Fowler and Luna, slowly as she unveils the mysterious world they are living in. Luna becomes loveable a lot sooner than Fowler, but pretty soon his good traits shine through as well. They are both resilient and have had to learn to adapt to a world that is nothing if not harsh and cruel. They develop a strong bond and are forced to work together if they are ever going to outrun the dwellers.

Luna is a phenomenal main character. Readers learn something pretty pivotal about her within the first few chapters and it entirely changes the way you read the book and the way you think about her character. Fowler is rough around the edges and somewhat disliked by all at first, but readers soon get to see inside her back story and know why he has such a hard outer shell. The world was completely fascinating to me and I have already ordered the next book in the series because this one leaves off on a huge cliffhanger. I have to know what is going to happen! I have read a lot of mixed reviews about this book, but I must say that I am not one for a whole lot of action and adventure, but the journey that Luna and Fowler have started on is thrilling and intoxicating. Yay for my first Sophie Jordan novel!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Book Review: Caraval

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Series: Caraval # 1

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . . 

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

“Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or performance. It's the closest you'll ever find yourself magic in this world.” 

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don't lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”

“Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game.” 

“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”

“He tasted like midnight and wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue. Colors that made her feel safe and guarded.”

The month of February left me in one of the biggest reading slumps I have seen in a while. I knew that I was going to have to find a really great book to bring me out of it. This book was all that I needed to bring me out of this slump. I was completely swept away in this world, in the game, and by the loveable and some not so loveable characters. The circus-like/magical world that is Caraval left me reminiscing back to my first days reading Harry Potter when I was fascinated by a world so different from my own. One of the best parts of the book were the letters that we exchanged between our main characters; it brought such a magical, nostalgic feeling to the journey. I was so impressed with this story. I actually hugged the book after I finished reading it because the story was so endearing and will forever be one of my favorites.

The best part of this story was that when you are about one-third to a half of the way in you have so many questions that you will be dying to know the answers to. You will start to try and figure things out, but you will probably, like me, get to the end and have very different things happening that what you first expected. There are so many fascinating characters that you will meet along the way; Scarlett was my favorite and I must say that I only admired her more by the end of the story. She felt like a very real person with flaws and dreams and expectations. I loved everything about this book and was so shocked by the very last pages. I am beyond thrilled to see where the story goes from here!