Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

Big Little Lies placed #1 on the New York Times best seller list.

big little lies

I have to admit, that I am not the kind of person that takes notice of hype — I think I have mentioned before, I am kind of a hype-avoider as a general rule.

However, Big Little Lies interested me based on the title alone. When I read the blurb, I thought it would be an easy read that would interest me based on the stupidity of school mums– that competitive nature of women who all seem to judge each others choices. As a childless woman in her 30s, I always marvel at how ridiculous and unrealistic that world seems to be (however, I have been assured that it is very, very much a ‘thing’).

Big Little Lies is about the blooming friendship between three women who are lead very different lives but who come together by chance and sheer luck of where their children go to school. Jane is new to town and is mistaken instantly as a nanny by one of the working mothers. Madeline is the comical breath of fresh air — the kind of mother bear who will look out for others and who really takes pride in stopping at nothing to defend those that she aligns herself with. Celeste is portrayed as a trophy wife who is the mother of twin boys with a husband that is enviable to those around her.

The story unfolds after Jane’s son is accused of hurting another child — the ramifications of the accusation and the defence of Jane’s son divide the parents at the school, escalating to an untimely murder.

Each chapter shares a different view of each of the three mother’s lives — unraveling their secrets and lies right up until the death of a parent who is not identified.

The book is written in chapter form with experts of police interviews with all of the mothers and father’s present at the time the death took place. Everyone’s interpretation of the event varies from comical to ridiculous, magnifying the kinds of stereotypes of judgmental mothers that exist in the day-to-day politics of the school Mum0sphere.

loved this book.

I couldn’t get enough of it. It did take me a little while to get through but I was so happy with the ending — it wrapped up nicely without feeling like another ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Imagine my surprise when I realise that there is a Big Little Lies HBO series on Foxtel that has brought this book to life?!

If you want to know how the two compare, brace yourself for my ‘Big Little Lies without pity’ post at the end of the week. It will be part of my book vs movie/tv show blogs once a week (or as often as time allows).

Did you read this book? How did you feel about it?

You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott (Book Review)

Megan Abbott is a Goodreads fan-favourite so I picked up this book on a whim between another book that I’d been struggling with.

Megan Abbott

Devon is a teenaged Olympic Gymnastics hopeful. Her parents are heavily involved with a very tight-knight group of gymnastics community, but no other gymnast is as as talented as prodigy, Devon and Kate and Eric Knox have stopped at nothing to help pave her way to success.

The gymnastics community is rocked when the young, good looking boyfriend of an assistant coach meets a violent and mysterious death and suddenly Kate and Eric Knox are finding out things about each other, their friends and their children that they are shocked to learn.

Honestly, I didn’t even know what this book was about when I started to read – I actually thought it was going to be a young adult novel but I was wrong. It was a beautifully written mystery thriller that was from the perspective of Kate Knox, Devon’s mother. I wasn’t sure that I could keep track of the large circle of characters at first and it did take me some time to figure them all out — most become periphery characters and the main ones become quite clear very quickly.

You Will Know Me was a great little surprise and my introduction to Megan Abbott as an author. I have heard a lot of buzz around her work and have generally tried to keep low expectations when it comes to hype — but I feel like her writing style was fantastic and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. Even if I had all but figured out what was going on before it unraveled, I was still able to enjoy the wrap-up of the mystery.

This is a very short review, but there was really nothing bad that I had to say about it.

I would recommend this book to anyone except for maybe my friend, Belinda because her line of work would just leave her picking at plot holes that might not be obvious to anyone else reading 😉

Let it be known that I have since purchased three other Megan Abbott books.

Twelve – The Things That I Believed At 12.

Twelve Years Old — The Things That I Believed

I saw a twitter tag earlier today and it made me think about how I was at 12 and the things that I believed. I wanted to go through a list of them and I even have excerpts from my diary that have helped me remember exactly some of these colossal misapprehensions.

Here we go:

At twelve years old I believed:

1.That I was emotionally and physically mature enough to have a proper boyfriend. 

LOLZ. What a little moron, I was, dressed in my parachute Nike jacket and my Addidas snap pants with my size 3 (childrens) Nike Air Jordans, that I was so ready for love. So ready, in fact that I kissed about four boys at the end of the year 1995.

I also thought I had a boyfriend on the internet too. The jury is still out on whether or not that was a 52 year old man pretending he was young just to talk sexually suggestive to me.

2. That I was actually going to meet Michael Jackson

Oh wait, so maybe that was something that actually came to fruition that others may have thought I was dumb enough to believe. Surprisingly, I showed enough tenacity, stalking-skills and personal commitment to the cause and made this one happen.

Silly everyone else. 🙂

3. That Hair Mascara, Spice Girls, Sun-in, Slut Straps and Athletic-Wear were all very cool and necessary. 

Let me prepare a visual aid for you:

twelve

This is my best friend and I displaying our very best sports wear. What are slut-straps, I hear you ask? They are those two wispy bits of hair that I’ve strategically pulled out of my ponytail and let hang in my face as if I have bangs. Maybe I even cut them shorter than the rest of my hair. Also, the slut straps were tinged with the remnants of hair mascara.

I think I am a bit older than twelve here, maybe thirteen. Yeah, so boyfriend ready!

4. That my parents would stay together forever

I don’t know why I thought this – this was definitely one of my dumbest assumptions ever. When you are a kid, you don’t really see your parents as people, you see them as nothing but your caregivers. You don’t really take it on board when they are unhappy — but crazily enough, the tension in our house was so thick it could have been hacked through with an axe. That’s pretty much the wording that my friend used to describe it to me later when we became adults.

My parents seemed to get along okay, but the days of that lasting much longer were dwindling. They officially split up in 1998, when I was fourteen.

5. That I would grow up to me a famous author and would have lots of books published

This was my absolute dream. I remember when I was around five years old, I told someone that I wanted to write stories and nothing has ever really changed. I just searched for too many years for something that ‘fit’ me because an idiot convinced me when I was 16, that writing was a glam job, not a realistic job. Now I’m 30 and still chasing that dream and it’s not nearly as easy or as simple as I expected it to be.

6. That what people thought of me mattered

If I could go back in time and speak to myself at twelve, I would explain that high school is shit, and everyone is pointing out your flaws because they are trying so hard to deflect the attention from their own. I would tell me at twelve that the people you go to school with will probably not be in your life as an adult therefore, their opinions, taunts, cruel comments don’t matter at all.

As an adult, I have no contact with any of those dipshits that I went to school with, and I wish that someone had of been able to tell me that.

 

What kinds of stupid shit did you think at twelve? 

Amy Schumer – Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo

Amy Schumer – I wasn’t even sure how I felt about her before I read this book. In truth, my most instant thought association was her appearance on Lena Dunham’s stupid podcast or whatever it is. In that podcast, Lena Dunham talked shit out of her asshole again and made offensive, self-serving comment about an NFL player that didn’t make googly eyes at her and went on to ascribe her own feelings of sexism upon him – when he, an innocent party, had no idea that he’d even done anything wrong.

Anyway, that aside, I felt like Amy Schumer has been a little hypocritical in the past.

That being said, haven’t we all? We’re human, we’ve all got our short-falls, and Amy Schumer is not an exception; so if something she has said in present, conflicts with something she said off-the-cuff a zillion years ago, is it really fair to judge her solely upon that?

No.

So I bought the book from my trusty, fun friends over at K-Mart (Goodness me, I love Kmart). I decided to give it a go.

amy

I was not sorry. 

Amy Schumer opens the book stating that if one is to look for advice, they will not find it stuck inside the pages of her book.

I felt like she was selling herself short dramatically; especially when I read things like this;

“There are a lot of firsts like this in life, little flashpoints here and there when you’re unknowingly becoming a woman. And it’s not the cliched shit, like when you have your first kiss or drive your first care. You become a woman for the first time when you stand up for yourself when they get your order wrong at dinner, or when you realise your parents are full of shit.

You become a woman the first time you get fitted for a bra and realise you’ve been wearing a very wrong size your whole fucking life. You become a woman the first time you fart in front of a boyfriend. The first time a heart breaks. The first time you break someone else’s heart.

Throughout this book, Amy made me both laugh and cry. She talked about her childhood, her lessons in trust, her relationship issues – coming from abuse and breaking the pattern of behaviours that can be too hard to shake.

Amy shared excerpts from her diary with footnotes (and one or two that, I am not shitting you, I laughed so hard I could breathe and had to call my best friend and share it with her so that she could hear me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe) which show that she too, had a dramatic teenage and young-adult life just the same as any other girl reading the book.

Her self-deprecating humour really appeals to me because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how I joke about life too. Her funny-yet-tragically sad chapters about her father’s batter with MS made me cry and also laugh.

Over-all, I feel like on paper she’s incredibly witty, smart and just like me, she is an introvert and basically that makes me like her.

In all seriousness, I judged unfairly. I loved this book and I read it very quickly.

And after this book I watched some stand up, she is brutal — but hilarious. I have a newfound respect for her. I might even go to see her stand up over Christmas! Who knows!

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall-Kelly [REVIEW]

lilac girls

I read a really important book this week: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and I recommend it to anyone who has the will to learn about history and to become engulfed by some purely wonderful reading.

Three girls from three different lifestyles from three different countries cross paths during the rigours of World War II.

From Goodreads:

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten

Review:

I could not put this book down – I read 350 pages of it in one Sunday afternoon sitting (it did help that I have been sick and almost bed-ridden). I am a sucker for a good historical fiction any day of the week, but Martha Hall Kelly smashed this one right out of the park.

This book was written beautifully and from the perspective of all three women throughout important and poignant stages of their lives. As I read this book, I began to realise, without knowing too much, that this story was built on true events and actual people. I began to read some, research some and so on … I was so excited to realise that socialite, Caroline Ferriday was a real person!

I felt so connected to each character and so entranced by each of their stories and felt the heart break of both Caroline and especially Kasia. I had to keep turning the pages to see what would happen next, as well as cross referencing the actual historical version of events.

Martha Hall Kelly wrote the horrors of what the Nazi’s had subjected the Lilac Girls to, how the healthy young body’s were defiled and violated. She added colour and tone to facts and events that took place at Ravensbrück concentration camp as well as the Neuremberg Trials where Herta Oberheuser met her fate for the crimes that she had committed against humanity.

The portrayal of Caroline Ferriday was beautiful and easily imaginable. At first her chapters felt a bit dry, but as her plight began to unravel, I fell in love with her heart – the way she used her social standing for her cause and her unrelenting loyalty to those who were in need. I learned the most about Caroline Ferriday while researching for myself and saw that who she really was, is very accurate to how the author of Lilac Girls portrayed her.

lilac girls

The real Caroline Ferriday with the real Lilac Girls

I feel like this book was so cleverly put together and have an immense respect for the commitment and research that Martha Hall Kelly put in to make this book as beautiful and as brilliant as it is. Not only did I become engrossed in the story, but I also learned things about World War II that I didn’t know without it feeling like an overwhelming block of wordy information.

Over all, this has got to be one of the best books I have ever read. I was so grateful to receive an advanced readers copy from the legends over at Penguin Random House Australia – probably my most favourite book that I’ve received since beginning this blog. I don’t generally give books 5 stars, but I’ve been incredibly lucky to have read what have been two consecutive five star books.

I am going to recommend this book to everyone starting right here! Thank you Martha Hall Kelly for bringing the story of Caroline Ferriday and the Lilac Girls to light — another important story of devastation, bravery and heroism from the past that really needs to have more of a spotlight.

My Secret Life Inside Scientology – Jenna Miscavige Hill

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing EscapeBeyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR THIS IS JUICY AS SHIT.

scientology

…. Actually not really. See what I did there? I totally excited you for a moment and you thought you were going to read something that would shatter everything you know and thought about scientology right here in this review right?

Wrong.

And that’s kind of how I felt about this book. Got me all excited to read things that I didn’t already know about scientology and how exposing this would be– and don’t get me wrong, there were things that I read in this book that made me furious and confused and frustrated — but never shocked.

I feel a little bit bad saying negative things about someone’s biography because you’re basically bitching about their experience. What you’re saying is, “your life experience is boring, make it more interesting!” so I’m not going to do that. This book is not boring by any means, but given the title, I think I expected to be shocked.

The thing is, what we as a collective community already know about Scientology is this;
L Ron Hubbard is a fraud.
Scientology is a giant pyramid scheme whereby the people at the top are the only ones seeing the money.
Celebrities buy in to Scientology because they have entirely way too much money and didn’t spend enough time at school discerning shit from clay.
Tom Cruise is an idiot.
L Ron Hubbard reckons that some Xenu from the planet he made up in one of his books is going to come back and help them all out.
They don’t believe in psychiatry (I know this because Tom Cruise said so, lol).

The rest of it seems far less ridiculous in comparison.

Jenna Miscavige is the neice of Dave Miscavige who had the job of taking over when L Ron Hubbard died. This book is the account of her moving with her family to become a part of the secretive “Sea Org”. Jenna and her brother were split from their parents from a young age and were forced to do manual labor as part of their contribution to the sea org and in most ways become responsible for themselves.

Children were give adult jobs and responsibilities and no real compassion was afforded to them from the higher up members.

This was probably the most alarming part of the book for me — children forced to grow up like little robots without all the things that children require to become well-adjusted adults. Given that Jenna and I are the same age, I was especially angry and frustrated reading how atypical her upbringing was from mine.

The clear and most evident thing from this book is how the church of scientology play divide and conquer among people who are not complying to their every whim and rule. The self esteems of those who didn’t follow the rules were entirely eroded until they had no choice but to ‘recognise’ the error of their own ways.

Given that I have grown up from my late teens and in to my adulthood as a mostly practicing Christian, I find it strange that this church is so secretive. If something is so wonderful and so good, why are the members so unwilling to speak loudly and proudly about the church? I don’t necessarily like get-in-your-face-preaching Christians, but I am not ashamed of my faith nor have I ever been unopen to critisism where it is due.

Jenna Miscavige was an incredibly strong-minded individual who had to be such in order to endure and accept the treatment that she was given within the church. She was equally lucky to meet someone within the confines of the divisive walls of the church who was able to see it for the fraud that it was.

I admired her will and her ability to stand up to those in charge in times of turmoil and solitude.

If you are looking for explosive stories, this probably isn’t the book for it, but if you are looking to read about whole the secretive sea org functions and are interested in learning about the church, then it’s a good read.

I liked it, but I felt at times it was a little tedious — as I said though, this is someone’s experience and it’s not really my right to critique that.

And lastly, can we revisit that scientologists think psychiatry and medicine is not a real thing? And that they know better? That they know that more than what we do when it comes to mental health? (And by we, I mean scientists who dedicate decades to their work on helping those live with mental health illness?)

scientology

Also, Tom Cruise is a dick.

Dane Cobain on Indie Authors & Why it’s a tough gig

indie

Hi, folks!

My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m an indie author, poet and musician from the UK. I’m here today to talk about indie authors, money, and how the two of them rarely come together. The truth is, it’s almost (almost, but not quite!) impossible for an indie author to make any money from their work, and I think that’s a shame.

And the problem isn’t really down to the readers – after all, there are a lot of keen readers out there who are buying, sharing and supporting the work of indie authors. The problem is with the process itself – you see, it’s not easy to release a book. You might think that the hard work ends after you’ve spent a couple of years planning and writing the damn thing, but that’s not true at all.

For a book to be ready to go to market, you need to work with a professional editor to make sure that your manuscript is perfectly polished, and you also need to find a good cover designer to make the book stand out. Both of these require a cash investment, unless you’re lucky and you’re able to cut a deal with someone. But you can’t cut corners and edit your own work – even if you’re an editor yourself. You need that level of objectivity, and you need to get a second pair of eyes to look at it.

Cover designs also cost a little extra because you need to cover the usage rights for the images. And then once that’s done, you have to think about the cost of ISBNs etc., as well as some of the other little bits and bobs that are associated with publishing costs.

And then there are marketing costs – for example, if you send your books out to bloggers, you need to cover the basic cost of the book and then the postage, which all adds up. If you run competitions then you need to worry about the prizes. Even paying for web hosting and a domain name can add up, over time.

Oh, you make a little money back, of course. You earn a percentage back from each sale, and you can sell physical copies at events for a profit. I’d estimate that I make somewhere in the region of £30-50 per month in profit from royalties and sales, but I spend around £50-75 on sales and marketing.

And it’s not just me, either – I’m friends with literally dozens (if not hundreds!) of authors, and I only know one or two who are able to support themselves through their writing alone. Even then, they’re supplementing the income that they make from book sales with freelance writing work and other consultancy services.

The fact is, unless you already have a huge social media following – YouTubers, I’m looking at you – then you’re always going to struggle to sell enough books to make a living from it. And unfortunately, new publishers are starting to focus on marketing potential rather than on the ability of the author when they sign new people to the books (no pun intended).

It’s capitalism in action, and it’s just the way that the world works, but it does make it more difficult for indie authors. As for myself, I work from 9-5:30 at a marketing agency, and work from 6:30 until midnight most evenings, as well as 14-16 hours a day at the weekend, if I’ve got nothing planned.

It’s hard work being an author, and it’s often financially unrewarding. But we don’t write for the money. We write because we’re compelled to write. That’s just how it is.

But it’s okay, because you can do your bit – buy a book from an indie author. The royalties will almost give them enough money to buy half a pint of beer, and you’ll get a book out of it, too!

You can check out Dane’s social media and website by clicking on the following links:

Dane Cobain – Website
@DaneCobain
Facebook Page

 

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review

Audrey

 

Finding AudreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Audrey 14 years-old and suffers some unnamed anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. She wears sunglasses because she can’t bear anybody to see her eyes.

Her mother is bat-shit insane and her Dad couldn’t be less interested in the family if he tried. Her brother is obsessed with video games and her younger brother fills a couple of pages here and there with his cute-and-tantrum-y antics.

This is a book about a girl who is going through the motions of mental health issues and trying hard to beat it. I chose to read it because I have been looking to find fictional novels that can accurately document a person(s) fight with mental health that doesn’t necessarily have to have a happy ending.

This is Sophie Kinsella’s first Young Adult novel and I felt like it was an easy read and I wanted to keep going to see how it would all unfold.

But honestly — I’m surprised with how fast it became a romance novel (but I’m not surprised that it was a romance novel, the blurb pretty much made this clear). Audrey meets Linus, a friend of her older brothers. Linus has a ‘crazy’ grandmother therefore he is able to be compassionate to Audrey’s ‘crazy’ ways.

It moved really fast. Audrey went from having anxiety attacks each time a new person would walk in the door — to pashing Linus in her den, where she spent time in the dark trying to relax. It seemed that she went from not being able at him, to sitting in his lap and going for it in a matter of a few pages.

That to me, kind of cheapened the idea of her mental health issue.

However, what this book did justice was bits and pieces of how people respond to their own mental health. When Audrey started to feel good, she took herself off her medication — something of a vicious cycle for anyone who has had to be medicated for their mental health. Set backs; this is a realistic part of having mental health issues — you feel wonderful and then you don’t. When you’re up, you’re very up and you feel like nothing can bring you down.

Until it does.

All this happened to Audrey which was an accurate depiction of mental health illness

My issue with this book was that while Audrey spent a lot of time in therapy, the only time she made progress with her anxieties was when she realised a boy was interested in her. All of her challenges in stepping back in to the real world were because she felt as though he was her strength. Considering that Audrey is just fourteen and her boyfriend is fifteen, this is unrealistic and irritating — it’s nice to have a romance, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how just that alone forced her in to getting better and just how quickly the slip would be if something were to go wrong.

did love this book and maybe I was overthinking it, but I am a little bit tired of YA novels where the cute boy saves the day. How about an ending where Audrey gets better because Audrey pushes herself rather than finding the strength in someone else to push her?

Audrey was definitely a loveable character and this book was cute and fluffy just like all of the Sophie Kinsella books that I have previously read.

View all my reviews

Book Blog and how I came to be…

I don’t always blog about books. If you go through my previous posts, you’ll see a few things about life, my family and my own internal struggles, but predominantly what you’ll read here are posts and reviews about the books that I’m reading.

If you go back on my blog a little over a year ago, you’ll find the few posts I made with my Mum’s returned cancer in her lungs. You’ll read the posts where I alluded to bad news but didn’t confirm it ’til a few posts later. It’s been a long, hard road over the past few years and more tears than I’ll ever allow anyone know.

You’ll also read my struggles with general anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Some days those issues are triggered harder than others. And generally my OCD symptoms change dependant on what has triggered it.

Quite honestly, there’s not a lot of things that can make me feel normal for a period of time where I can forget the parts of my reality that can sometimes feel overwhelming or upsetting. Sometimes I play play station because it requires all of my undivided attention and other times I binge-watch TV shows until my butt is sore from not moving.

But the one thing that feels calms me in a failsafe way are books. It requires all of my attention to read and I can suck myself in to an alternate world where I am looking inside other people’s worlds, giving me a reprieve from my own.

This is not to take away the fantastic love and support from my family, friends and partner, but sometimes there is only so much that they can do or say to make me feel any better. If anything, the situation is just as helpless for them as it is to me. I hate bothering people with my devastation and my tears, so I focus my energy on all of the books that I enjoy reading, in reviewing them and working on this blog.

As I’ve written on this site earlier: words are so powerful and when I am not reading, I am writing. In the same essence that writing sucks me in to another world, my own fictional writings make me create a world that I wish I could be a part of or one that helps me cope with the world that I am a part of.

Books are important to me especially at this point in my life. Reality is important too, but books have always been an important escapism in my life and since I’ve always loved blogging, book blogging seems to be mutually exclusive.

I hope stories will continue to take me from my reality just enough to forget for a little while, or at least renew my hopes when I feel hopeless.

blog

The Art Of Living Other People’s Lives[..] – Greg Dybec

The Art of Living Other People's Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable MistakesThe Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions & Memorable Mistakes is a book that I didn’t really know anything about when I was granted an ARC via Netgalley.

Greg Dybec is the editor for Elite Daily- a website that I’ve referred to only as clickbait for the past year or so with many of the articles popping up rudely in my Facebook stream.

This book was a really easy and light-hearted read. One thing that struck me and that was Dybec appears to be incredibly passionate and determined which he can probably attribute to such success at a young age. Honestly, it makes me look at my life with disgust and wonder what I’ve been doing for the better half of a decade.

This is a book of anecdotes and memoirs and sometimes a bit of a how-to. Some stories were actually a lot better than others, but given that I am the type of person who can’t concentrate unless she is engaged, so that says something for this book.
Greg comes across as an all-round good guy who loves his family who is driven and who has a great sense of humour. He tells funny stories of trying to save a prostitute in Brazil, being a successful bar fly who had a 100% success rate at picking up girls any night of the week and his obsession with eavesdropping on the people of New York City.

Charmingly honest, Greg shares his thoughts and feelings on charity and a higher power and just how he tries to accumulate just enough good karma to make up for all the bad things he may be guilty of in the future.

If you are looking for an easy-light hearted book, give this one a go.

View all my reviews