Big Little Lies HBO TV Series – Review Without Pity

Big Little Lies is an book-to-TV adaptation made for the HBO network which in Australia is exclusive only to Foxtel or Apple iTunes. If you haven’t read the book or watched the TV show, you should probably read this review of the book first.

I would like to start this review by saying that on a whole I enjoyed this TV series. I binge-watched it on my day off work a week ago and I enjoyed it after I got through the first episode where Nicole Kidman has noisy/violent/weird sex with Alexander Skarsgaard. It is also important to note that I enjoy watching Real Housewives of Sydney and I have been known to dabble in an episode of the Kardashians or other such spin offs.

In addition, I think Game of Thrones is boring, so… my recommendation should really come to you with a grain of salt or little-to-zero trust.

Disclaimer aside; I would like to say that the casting was strange.

I can’t really take Reese Witherspoon all that seriously since I’ve seen her bend and snap and act like a giant bimbo in the movie about her chihauha and pink clothes blond hair and law, or whatever it was. Or that one movie where Selma Hyak and her brother Ryan Phillipe got it on. She was cast as Madeline, the most highly strung of the three mothers. In the book Madeline comes across as about as old as Nicole Kidman — a bit of a wise mother-bear who takes Jane under her wing. She is slightly annoying at times, but is overall a very likeable.

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Reese Witherspoon as Madeline made me want to shove a fork in my eye. How’s that for irony!? (C’mon, you have to be able to see what I did there). She was rude, obnoxious, reactive, spoiled, selfish and had absolutely no self-awareness. She played a comical version of the serious Madeline from the book — a little annoying.

Aaaaand Nicole Kidman — choose an accent and stick to it, woman — you’re either pretending to be American or you’re Australian. She plays the role of Celeste. Celeste is painted out to be a young and effortlessly beautiful woman. I’m not saying that Nicole Kidman is not beautiful, because she is… in that same kind of way that Tilda Swinton is. Her husband Perry is played by Alexander Skarsgaard who’s last performance I can remember was in True Blood where I saw his naked arse more times than I’ve seen my own. So, you have two very fair people having very very pasty white, violent, weird, loud, is-she-in-pain-is-she-enjoying-this sex.

Together their scenes caused so much glare that I picked up new radio signals.

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Weird match. Oh, and also, she played a cougar.

Shailene Woodley played Jane and I have nothing snarky to say about that, she was probably a perfect pick.

The guy that played Madeline’s husband was a guy who I have only ever seen playing obnoxious comical characters in Will Ferral movies, so there is that.

The show itself was very good and while it may not have been minute-by-minute accurate to the book, it was still quite enjoyable. Madeline’s daughter Chloe was played by a cute little girl who had a lot of attitude. The character was precocious and I would probably take an instant dislike to her if she existed in real life.

Ziggy, Jane’s daughter was adorable and he played his role very, very well.

The opening credits of the show are weird and comical with all the women dressed up as different versions of Audrey Hepburns — it seemed like it was the opening for a satire show.

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My biggest annoyance was the way it ended. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending was completely rewritten. A revelation occurred that changed the way the truth came out. The way it was written in the book made much, much more sense than the way it played out on the show. I believe if you have watched the show for the first time and aren’t paying complete and utter full attention, you won’t pick up the realisation that registers with one of the characters and for me that was the entire crux of the book.

What I think was the best thing about the entire TV show is actually the sound track. To download/buy/stream, the soundtrack comprises of about 12 mediocre songs, when if you search a couple of articles that last all the songs by order of episode, you can put together a very, very cool sound track.

That’s what I did!

I still recommend this show — but I recommend the book first. I’m not the sort of person that cant disassociate one from the other, but I feel like if you read the book you can get the broader picture of the story but still enjoy them both.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Book Review

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

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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?

The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster-Blake Review

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Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster-Blake is your average enjoyable rom-com chick-lit book for those who aren’t looking too hard to find purpose in a very, very fictional story.

I’m by no means a book snob. Sometimes I want to read the way I watch TV: without having to think too hard.

What I mean by this, is that sometimes I enjoy watching the Kardashians or The Vanderpump rules show – not because the people are likeable or that the story or characters are incredibly thrilling, but because it serves it’s cheap purpose: entertainment.

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Chick-lit books are all similar in storyline and purpose and The Wrong Girl was really no different.

Girl is self-deprecating. Girl has model-looking girlfriends and is considered the odd one out in a circle full of otherwise carbon copies. Girl is quirky, clumsy but apparently also adorable in her awkwardness that is supposed to be the one thing that sets her apart.

Hot, strapping, beautiful species of male turns up and crazily enough has the personality and perfect amount of mature communication skills to boot.

Man sees the beauty in girl and takes on her annoying emotional self-loathe and turns saves the day and turns her in to some strong, independent (lols) take-no-shit woman that because of the way her man builds her up, manages to overcome subplot; this could be kicking away the dead weight friends that make her feel so bad about herself, give up drugs, shopping or other “cute” addiction or even a career advancement.

I pretty much summed up The Wrong Girl in this summary which happens to be the same formula for most chick-lit books. This is written in a characteristically Australian way which sometimes made me cringe and other times made me feel like I was proud of Foster-Blake. It was a cute story that I struggled for a short while to get in to which may have not been due to the writing, but perhaps more to do with personal circumstance.

I liked the characters in The Wrong Girl but couldn’t help but to wonder why her best friend (from the first few chapters) was just long-forgotten after the plot began to unfold. Did the author forget him? Given that they were supposed to be friends for 10 or so years, I was surprised by how quickly the MC gave him the heave-ho. Seemed odd.

This Wrong Girl has been transformed to an Australian TV show that was vastly different to the novel. Given that most books far outweigh the TV/Movie adaptation, I was pretty happy with the TV show. I have to admit I liked it better than the book; perhaps the beautiful hunk that is Jack was played by a stunning indigenous man which doesn’t happen to often on Australian TV.

Overall, I enjoyed the light-hearted book. It wasn’t my favourite read of 2016, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at another book by Zoë Foster-Blake in the future.

View all my reviews

Naked Truth Chocolate Range – Review

Naked Truth Chocolate and confectionary is one of my favourite indulgences.

I discovered the range about two years ago at Coles supermarket and often make the trip to get nothing more than a chocolate bar (or six). I rate this product above Cadbury chocolate, Lindt chocolate and many other of the world famous brands.

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The range is pretty broad with chocolate combinations that can seem like straight up madness.

White chocolate with raspberry and balsamic
Spice chai latte with milk chocolate
Coffee beans and popping candy milk chocolate
Puffed quinoa, almonds and blueberry milk chocolate
Fig, toasted almond and coconut milk chocolate
Espresso kick dark chocolate
Lime chilli dark chocolate
Lemon coconut cream pie white chocolate
Raspberry cheesecake bar
Salted caramel milk chocolate
Jam doughnut milk chocolate
Salted flakes dark chocolate
Goji berry and toasted dark chocolate
Almond butter brownie milk chocolate
Fig and macadamia milk chocolate

Aside from these so-crazy-it-just-might-work chocolate combinations, Naked Truth also make a whole bunch of different lollies that take on their own spin just like the chocolates.

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I’m not really in to sweets like lollies myself, but I have a packet of the salted caramel banana milkshakes — because I’m a total nut for anything that has a salted caramel flavour.

My personal favourites are the salted caramel milk chocolate bar – it is sweet and has the perfect hit of salt. I don’t know about you, but when something is advertised as salted caramel, I want to be able to taste that beautiful complement of flavours. The Naked Truth salted caramel milk chocolate finds that perfect balance between the sweet and savoury. Unfortunately for me, I can’t stop at just one small portion, I have to basically eat the entire bar and then some!

I am also a big fan of the raspberry cheesecake bar and the jam doughnut bar (I actually don’t think this is still for sale, bugger!) and the white chocolate, raspberry balsamic is out of this world.

Also, I figure almonds are a good source of energy and good fats right? Right, so Naked Truth’s range of cocoa dusted scorched almonds are sure to be a huge hit with me when I open them up later on!

 

In terms of chocolate and how much I love the stuff, I would give this product a great recommendation. If you can get to Coles, buy some immediately! 🙂

Check out the website of The Naked Truth to see all of their beautiful products.

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Honest Book Reviews – How honest is too honest?

Honest Book Reviews – how honest is too honest?

I read a book early last year by an author who has a very strong online presence as well as a cult-following. The book was an ill-written memoir where I’d found parts blatantly ripped from other (funnier) comedy memoirs (which had done the subject matter so much more justice). I hated it. And I felt like I needed to let the author know with a very honest review.

There were so many things that I hated about it which was disappointing because if the first chapter had been setting the tone, it would have been an incredibly witty read.

Such was not the case and I kept reading out of train-wreck like curiosity.

When I got to the end of the whole awful thing, I felt like I wanted to run to Goodreads and leave a scathing review that would make all the other cult-following readers raise their eyebrows with great offence. I started tapping away angrily at my keys, pointing out the stupidity of the chapter titles; how they were making a joke of some really awful and serious incidents (no shit, ‘the time your foster dad puts his hands down your pants’ was a title of a chapter.) and diminishing the seriousness of so many things. I wanted to tell the people reviewing this previously who called it ‘brave’ were in the wrong. This book was put together by someone with a blurred view of social boundaries, who tried to put a happy spin on things like drug and relationship abuse. I had so many things to say about this.

But I stopped myself halfway through and backspaced everything with a high level of disappointment at not being able to give my two cents without being a complete asshole.

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Why?

I love to write. I am working on a novel. I have been for months now. I love constructive critisism. I would love to have someone put their hand up to read everything I’ve written thus-far with a magnify glass and tell me exactly what they felt and where they believe I can improve. I would love for someone to agree to go through my story with a fine-tooth comb and tell me where my plot isn’t working or suggest things to enrich it.

What I wouldn’t respond to, is someone reading my book and completely obliterating all the time and hours that I have put in to it to create a story that other people can enjoy. Regardless of how many people respond well, it is only human nature to take the one, harsh, nasty comment to heart and carry that with us and use it to ignite any insecurities that may have shown up in the story sharing process. It would be hurtful and damaging as a writer to not receive constructive feedback.

This is not to say that if someone were to offer me a book for review that appeared to be the literary equivalent to one of those embarrassing American Idol auditions like William Hung, then it would be a different story. Sometimes its okay to tell someone when something isn’t their forte, I don’t believe in harvesting a person’s false sense of talent — but genuinely speaking, it is better in my opinion to encourage to discourage especially when it is a fellow artist.

I’ve been reviewing books for awhile now. I generally find the good in most of them. Sometimes if the dialogue is awful, I will find good in the plot. If the plot is awful, I will touch on how it could have been improved while taking a look at the things that I did like about it. However, what to do when the book is so awful that you barely want to make it through? I’ve come across books where the writer develops the characters better than the plot – the plot falls flat but the characters can redeem it. However, sometimes there is no saving a book – and as a reviewer, I have found it hard to know when it is okay to be honest and how honest can I be, considering that these books are sent to me specifically for an honest (not nasty or hurtful) review?

I suppose at the end of the day we always say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder — the same goes for books, movies and music. What appeals to one may not appeal to another, so maybe all my honest opinions on a particular book cannot or will not reflect what another reader may take away for it? That could be the only explanation why so many people went ga-ga for the book that I’ve mentioned earlier!

I am interested to know what your thoughts are — how authors feel about this and how other book reviewers feel?