A run-down of what I’m reading

So, life happens and I’ve had a full plate lately.  I’m up to my eyeballs in after school enrichment registrations and helping out with other things at Grace’s school.  I’ve had lots of family time over the last few weeks, which I’ve treasured.  But between keeping my house clean, my people fed, and stressing out about things that are currently beyond my control, my blogging has suffered as has my sleep.  I’ve managed to squeeze in reading, but that is about all the extracurricular activity that I’ve had time for.  Though I may be tired, I’m grateful for this busy season in my life.  It means that I am surrounded by people and activities that I love!

With that, I am going to do something a little different today to catch up.  I am going to do a quick rundown of the last few books I’ve read.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider has been sitting at the top of my review list for the longest, so I will start with it first.  I downloaded this one from the library.  I LOVE being able to download books from the library directly to my Kindle.  If I come across a few that are available now while I’m browsing, I usually download them instantly.

Extraordinary Means is a YA novel about two teenagers who fall for each other under strange circumstances.  Lane and Sadie are sent away to a sanatorium for students with tuberculosis.  Latham House is a former boarding school, turned hospital that acts as a means to quarantine young TB patients during an epidemic outbreak.  Comparisons of Extraordinary Means to The Fault in Our Stars aren’t without merit, but to me it fell a little short of TFIOS greatness.  I gave this one 3/5 stars on Goodreads, but would probably make it 3.5 if I could.  It is an interesting story, with some predictable circumstances, but worthy of a good discussion.

Up next on my Kindle was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertallianother great library download!  Being that it was only recently released last spring, I really didn’t know what to expect from this book.  At first, I didn’t love the tone of this book.  It was brooding and kind of angry.  I’m not sure if it was the book that changed or if it was me.  As I continued reading, it grew on me and I ended up really loving this book for its boldness.  Simon is a gay high school student, forced out of the closet against his will.  And though his dignity has been stripped away, Simon manages to carry on with grace.  This is a sweet teenage love story that gives me hope for our younger generations and it is very worthy of 4/5 stars.

I pulled Donna Tartt’s A Secret History off my bookshelf next.  I have a stack of used books that I purchased over the summer that I’ve barely delved into.  Must stop reading Kindle books!  But in all seriousness, I picked A Secret History as my next read because there was so much buzz about it on my Instagram feed.  People were raving about it and calling it a favorite!

This book was hefty, weighing in at 628 pages.  Having devoured The Goldfinch earlier in the summer, I was sure I was in for a treat with A Secret History.  Boy, was I wrong.  Set in the late 80’s at a small private college that strives to be Ivy League, A Secret History is about a group of pretentious students who study Greek and only Greek.  They are an elite group of six who happen to have the rare and unusual privilege of being educated privately by an eccentric old professor.  When the group stumbles into some trouble and one of the odd men out threatens to reveal their transgressions, the rest take measures into their own hands.  For me, where this book differed from The Goldfinch was in its characters’ likability.   I’ve said it before, I just can’t enjoy a book with unlikable characters and this book was rife with them.  This book has all the feels of a classic, but I’m not sure it will ever live up to that distinction.  I give this one 2/5 stars, leaning towards a 2.5.

 

And just this morning, I finished up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, another highly anticipated YA library download that I had on hold.  It was hugely disappointing to me and what’s more is I have all the other Rainbow Rowell books on hold at the library, as well!  I’m still holding out hope for Eleanor & Parkbut may have to abandon the others.

Fangirl is the story of Cath, a socially awkward freshman fumbling through her first year of college, while also dealing with some fairly serious family issues.  Cath writes young adult fan fiction, based on the fictitious Simon Snow series, to a huge internet following.  Simon Snow is a play on the Harry Potter series, but a poor imitation at best.  Excerpts from Simon Snow and Cath’s fan fiction are sprinkled throughout the pages of Fangirl.  I found myself skipping over these sections entirely because they were so poorly written.  I wanted to cheer for Cath, but again, I didn’t find her to be all that likable of a character.  She doesn’t make it easy to like her, even the other characters in the book have a difficult time befriending her.  My overall feeling of this book was one of disappointment.  It was just not a compelling read, nor was it very well written.  I give this book a solid 2/5 stars, with better expectations for Eleanor & Park.  

So, what have you been reading lately?  Anything good?  Because it sure looks like I could use some decent recommendations!  I think I’m going to have to pull something highly anticipated off my bookshelf to make up for these last two snoozers.

Classics on my TBR

Last week, I shared with you a list of classics that I feel are worthy of rereading, some of them again and again.  This week, I’d like to share some of the classics on my to-read list.

TBR Classics on Worn Out Pages

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has been on my TBR for a LONG time!  I’m pretty sure I even have it on my Kindle, having purchased it when it was on a great discount.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident.” —Amazon

 

I remember friends reading A Prayer for Owen Meany in high school.  Because we got to choose many of the classics we read, this one was never made it into my hands, instead I probably opted for memoirs like The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice, and others that brooding teenagers enjoy.  

“Published in 1989, it tells the story of John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany growing up together in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950s and 1960s. According to John’s narration, Owen is a remarkable boy in many ways; he believes himself to be God’s instrument and sets out to fulfill the fate he has prophesied for himself.” —Wikipedia

 

Flowers for Algernon is another book that I remember friends reading and really enjoying.  So you could say that I’ve been wanting to read this book since high school.  

“The eponymous Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told by a series of progress reports written by Charlie Gordon, the first human test subject for the surgery, and it touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.” —Wikipedia

Though I’ve seen the movie many, many years ago, I’ve not actually read Gone With the Wind.  Though I’m not typically drawn to historical fiction, I always seem to enjoy reading it when I do.  This is a hefty book, weighing in at 960 pages, and most likely the reason I’ve yet to pick it up.  

“This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.” —Amazon

 

Watership Down has only recently popped up on my radar.  I think what intrigues me the most about this book is that it is about rabbits!  How an adult novel about rabbits becomes a classic just baffles me, so I’m eager to read it to see why it earns such accolades.  

“Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.” —Amazon

 

I remember my grandmother having a few James Herriot novels around her house when I was a child.  They were large and intimidating to me as a young reader.  This is perhaps that is the reason I never went on to read them in school.  But being an animal lover, I’ve always known that I would enjoy All Creatures Great and Small.  

“For over forty years, generations of readers have thrilled to Herriot’s marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike with his keen, loving eye.” —Amazon

Have you read any of these books?  What classics do you have on your to-read list?  Let me know on Facebook or in the comments below.

Revisiting classics

In high school and college, I was required to read a great deal of classic literature.  Much of it I disliked, and if I’m honest, I probably did my best to skim just enough that I could fudge on essays and tests.  A few that come to begrudgingly come to mind are The Old Man and the Sea and The Red Badge of Courage.  But there were also a few that stuck with me as an adult and that I think are worthy of revisiting again…

Classics to Revisit by Worn Out Pages

The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald had seen a resurgence in popularity since the movie was released in 2013.  But as much as I adore Leonardo DiCaprio, I couldn’t bring myself to watch this entire movie.  I found it dull and uninteresting, the complete opposite of how I felt when I first read the book in high school.  I was taken in by the glitz and glamour of the high society parties and the romance between Jay and Daisy.  I read this again as an adult and was entertained, though I think it lost a little of the luster I had for it as a young and naive high schooler.

 

You know, I couldn’t even tell you when I read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for the first time.  It may have been my senior year in college when I was student teaching, but I suspect I read it way back in high school, too.  This is a book that I’ve read a few times, and even used while teaching.  Regardless, this band of greasers exemplifies the value of brotherhood and friendship during times of adversity and loss.  This would be a great book to pick up again as our children near their teenage years.  The movie wasn’t too bad either.

 

A Separate Peace by John Knowles is another great story about friendship.  Phineas and Gene are friends away at boarding school during World War II.  A tragic turn of events forces the characters to delve deep into matters of the heart among these friends.  This book has been sitting on my bookcase for several years now, just waiting for me to reread it!

I will admit that I read 1984 by George Orwell as an adult, and not at all in high school or college.  I don’t think it was really on my radar until I began reading dystopian fiction.  If you enjoy that genre, then you must really pick up 1984, for it is one of the original dystopian novels.  Once you read it, you will look back on other modern young adult tales and realize that many of them have been modeled after this book.  Today dystopian fiction novels are a dime a dozen.  While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, you simply must read the originals to appreciate how groundbreaking these books were at the time.

If you are a fan of historical romance novels, then Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is a classic that should be on your to read list.  It is a timeless love story that spans generations.  I read Wuthering Heights in college, fully expecting to suffer through it.  Instead, I found myself caught up in Catherine and Heathcliff’s dark and haunting relationship.  Set against the moors of England, this tale of unrequited love and revenge is one that will stay with you long after you stop reading.

If I were to forced to choose just one, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee would probably be considered my absolute favorite book.  I read this book as a freshman in high school and again as an adult.  I could read this book again and again and never tire of it.  I have so much love for this book and respect for Harper Lee as the author that I really didn’t want to even consider reading Go Set a Watchman because of the controversy surrounding the publisher’s acquisition of the book.  I did end up receiving it for it for my birthday but have yet to read it.  When I do, I know to proceed with caution and to read it as a novel completely separate from To Kill a Mockingbird.  I would hate for anything to tarnish the adoration that I have for this book.

What are your favorite classics that are worth rereading?  I have another list of classics on my to read list that I hope to share with you soon!

The Thief Lord Book Review

A few weeks ago, I took a load of books in to sell at Half-Price Books.  Surprisingly, I bought nothing for myself, but ended up with a great stack of books for Grace for only $12 and change.

Half-price book haul

I have my eye on a few of these books, but decided to start with Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord.  The city of Venice creates an enchanting backdrop for this delightful middle grade reader, which features a gang of orphaned misfit children.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run.  Their mother recently passed away and their aunt is only interested in adopting the adorable and angelic Bo, who is just five years old.  Fearing that he will never see his brother again, twelve year old Prosper takes Bo and they flee to the enchanting city of Venice.  The two boys are rescued from the streets by another group of children who live in an abandoned movie theater.  The group of misfit children is taken care of by their leader 13 year old Scippio.  Scippio calls himself the Thief Lord and claims to steal from the city’s richest residents.

Prosper and Bo’s aunt hires private investigator Victor Getz to find the runaways.  Unaware of the lengths the children would go to to protect each other, Victor reluctantly agrees to take on the case.

Once Victor is on the case, the children’s already unstable lives are turned upside down.  The children feel a strong sense of betrayal when the Thief Lord’s true identity is discovered.  With a payout too good to be true, the children agree to take on one last heist.  

The Thief Lord is a book that is filled with mystery and adventure!  It is reminiscent of a Peter Pan tale, except in this story the hero wants nothing more than to grow up.  In the end, it is two adults who find themselves the unlikely heroes to the Thief Lord and his band of misfit orphans.

More great middle reader books from Cornelia Funke:

Friday Favorites 9/11/2015

Hello again and thanks for joining me today for Friday Favorites!  I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend and a short week to follow!  We spent our Labor Day as a family enjoying a hot, but exciting day at the ballpark watching the Tin Caps win their last  baseball game of the regular season.

Grace at the ballpark

Yesterday, I went into Grace’s school and helped out in the library for a few hours, as I do every Thursday.  I grabbed some lunch afterwards and headed over to the hospital to donate blood.  It’s not something I like to talk about.  I have donated twice in the last three months.  I’d like to say that it was for some admirable cause or that I am donating out of the goodness of my heart, but I was ordered to do it by my doctor to help reduce my iron levels.  That being said, I should be doing it out of the goodness of my heart.  We all should if we are able.  There is such a vital need for blood and platelet donations.  Donating blood takes less than an hour of your time, with the actual collection process being less than 15 minutes.  You can go to the American Red Cross website to learn more about donating in your area.

It wasn’t something that I thought about too much until I received an email after my first donation.  My blood was used to save a person’s life in a nearby town in Ohio.  That was impactful.  It doesn’t matter whose life it was; what mattered is that my blood was available to make that happen.  Now, I will warn you, the Red Cross provides follow up and reminder phone calls on a regular basis.  Screening your calls only adds you back into the calling rotation.  This was a nuisance to me so I’ve asked to be taken off the calling list and yesterday the nurse removed my phone number from my profile so that will no longer receive reminder calls.  As long as I am able, I will continue to give blood.  I’ll get off my soap box now, but I urge you to donate if you are healthy enough to do so.  We should all be fortunate enough to have blood available should we or a family member need it.

I am a blood donor

Links to love:

A Harry Potter themed bar themed bar is opening in Toronto and it looks spectacular!

Today is 9/11.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears looking through Facebook posts about the tragic events that cast a shadow over our dear country 14 years ago today.  Bretagne’s Best Day is a video about the last known living search and rescue dog from 9/11.  She is 16 years old and very much a hero!

And finally, a few books about 9/11.  I haven’t read any of them, so I can’t personally recommend any of them.  However, there looks to be some very intriguing stories here.  A quick check of Goodreads has me thinking that these books are probably being judged a little harshly due to their subject matter.  Check them out for yourself and see if there is anything you want to add to your TBR list.

What I’m reading this week:

I just finished the YA novel Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider.  Look for a review coming soon!  Now I am smack dab in the middle of Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  I don’t usually read back to back young adult books, but both of these were library downloads.  When I download from the library, I always try to blow through them as quickly as possible for fear that I won’t get through them before they expire!  And be sure to click on over to my latest book review about The Rosie Project!    What have you been reading lately?

What I’m watching:

Doug and I have been watching the new series Narcos on Netflix.  It follows two DEA agents in Columbia during Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror.  I really like it, but it isn’t one for multi-tasking.  Because much of it is subtitled, you really have to pay attention to what’s going on.  It is a fascinating series.  Have you seen anything good lately?

Each year, it seems like we watch less and less TV.  But I always enjoy taking a sneak peek at the new fall lineup.  Here’s the ultimate guide to the new fall shows.    I like to view it on one page rather than in the slideshow.  Anything new catch your eye?  I’m looking forward to The Muppets and will set the DVR so that we can all watch together as a family!

I think that’s a wrap for this week!  Thanks for joining me here, friends!

 

Introducing young readers to non-fiction

Non-fiction books are a wonderful way for children to explore the world around them.  They can travel through time to visit ancient Egypt or just across the globe to see how the Chinese celebrate their New Year.  Non-fiction books can help promote a love of learning by tapping into a child’s interests.  Does your child love dolphins?  Why not use that interest as an opportunity to learn more about his or her favorite animal?  The amount of knowledge we can gain from reading non-fiction books is infinite!  But you may be wondering how to introduce your child to this genre.  Fortunately, there are a few great book series available that have made it easy for us as parents.  These highly engaging series will have your child reaching for a new non-fiction book each time he or she visits the library!

Introducing Young Readers to Non-fiction by Worn Out Pages

Non-fiction books for Early Readers

Step Into Reading books have long been a staple in teaching children how to read.  This series organizes its books into five easy steps to help parents and teachers choose the right books for their new readers:

Step 1: Ready to read

Step 2: Reading with help

Step 3: Reading on your own

Step 4: Reading paragraphs

Step 5: Ready for chapters

This series offers non-fiction books for even the youngest children who are ready to read.  Step 1 and Step 2 books are 32 pages in length and feature simple words and rhyming phrases, as well as picture clues to help children understand the text.  Steps 3 through 5 advance as you would expect as the children’s reading ability grows.  Each of the books in Steps 3 through 5 are 48 pages in length and present the facts as a story.  This series features biographies, animals, science, sports, and some of your child’s favorite characters from popular shows such as Wild Kratts and Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.  Parents and teachers can use the convenient “Book Finder” feature on the Step Into Reading website to find just the right book for each child’s reading level.  With new books being added all the time, you are sure to find something of interest to even your youngest readers.

Buy Step Into Reading books here.

National Geographic Kids offers non-fiction books and atlases in high interest subject areas such as animals and nature, biographies, culture, sports and adventure, and science and space.  These eye-catching books feature brightly colored and interesting photographs that are sure to fascinate even your most discriminating young readers.  I’ve seen some of the smaller books at The Dollar Tree and in the Dollar Spot at Target, making them a bargain for parents or teachers.  Some, but not all, of the National Geographic Kids books are leveled.

Buy National Geographic Kids books here.

Non-fiction chapter books

If you have a young reader who is new to chapter books, then I’m sure they have already discovered the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.  But did you also know that there are non-fiction companion guides to go along with many of these books?   The Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series is an excellent way for children to expand on their new knowledge that they gain from the regular books, which are typically of the historical fiction genre.  I was introduced to these books when my daughter purchased the Titanic bundle from her Scholastic Book Fair.  In the bundle was book #17 Tonight on the Titanic and the Fact Tracker non-fiction companion book Titanic.  My daughter read Tonight on the Titanic and was fascinated by the story.  She was eager to learn more about the Titanic, so having the Fact Tracker companion book to go along with it was incredible!  As a first grader, it was amazing to me how much of an interest she had in something that happened over 100 years ago!  What a genius idea to create a completely separate non-fiction book so that children can continue to learn long after the story is over.

Buy Magic Tree House Fact Tracker books here.

The Who Was books have become an incredibly popular non-fiction series.  What started out as a biography series for kids has morphed into a fantastic selection of non-fiction books about not only people, but places and events, as well.  The Who Was part of the series features biographies about famous people past and present.  The What Was part of the series features a detailed account of a notable historical events.   Where Is is the newest part of the series that highlights well-known landmarks.  This is a large series that is growing all the time, which is a good thing because your child will never be lacking a entertaining non-fiction chapter book with these around.  These books are a quick read for middle grade readers, but provide pertinent information in an age appropriate manner.  They are a super way to introduce your children to non-fiction books!

Buy Who Was Books here.

Do you know of a great non-fiction series that you’d like to share?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

*This posts contains affiliate links.

The Rosie Project Book Review

I may be a little late to this party, but I just have to share how much I loved The Rosie Project!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Many of you may know that I was a special education teacher before I was a mom, so I almost always enjoy reading books, whether fiction or non-fiction, about people with special with special needs.  The Rosie Project is about Don Tillman, a highly intelligent genetics professor who also happens to be quite socially inept.  Don’t worry, that isn’t an insult.  Don is quite aware of his own social incompetencies and his rigidity to schedules.  Even after researching and giving a presentation on Asperger’s Syndrome, Don still doesn’t seem to quite connect the dots.

Don has just a few close friends, and even fewer girlfriend prospects.  Knowing that his personality quirks affects his dating life, Don decides to embark on The Wife Project.  He creates a formal survey which he will give to all potential candidates to determine if they meet his extremely high standards.  If they pass, which very few do, then they can be considered for wife material.

In the midst of wife hunting, Don is introduced to Rosie who proceeds to turn his neat and orderly life upside down.  Because of her many eccentricities, Don quickly excludes Rosie from The Wife Project.  Yet he is drawn to Rosie and goes to great lengths to help her with a major life project of her own.

I really adored this book.  It was a quick, light-hearted read.  They say opposites attract and in Rosie and Don’s case, this seems to be true.  You will find yourself chuckling out loud to this sweet rom-com.  And rumor has it that Jennifer Lawrence will star as Rosie in an upcoming movie production of the Rosie Project.

If you loved the Rosie Project, check out the sequel:

A Walk in the Woods: Book to Movie Review

I love seeing some of my favorite books turned into movies.  Most of the time, the movie doesn’t do the book justice, but it’s still fun to relive a good book on the big screen.  Today, I took the afternoon to see the newly released movie A Walk in the Woods.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods was written by Bill Bryson and originally published in 1999.  It is author Bill Bryson’s own account of his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his screwball friend Stephen Katz.  Together, they set out to discover the 2,100 miles of wilderness that lay spread across mountains from Georgia to Maine.  Having little to no experience in hiking, their adventure turns into one of hilarity and mishap.  The movie captures this well.

Robert Redford stars as Bryson, with Nick Nolte teaming up as his sidekick Katz.  This was the most striking difference that I noticed between the book and the movie.  In the book, Bryson is an out of shape middle-aged guy nearing his fifties.  He has a wife and high school age children at home.  In the movie, however, both Bryson and Katz are well past retirement age, obvious as Redford is 79 and Nolte just 5 years his junior.  This trek was daunting enough for Katz and Bryson in their earlier years.  I would expect it to be nearly impossible for someone nearing their 80’s.

That one major difference aside, I felt that the movie did an excellent job paying tribute to the book.  I chuckled through the movie and was glad that it wasn’t all raunchy slapstick like most comedies aim for today.  That isn’t to say that it is a family movie.  Just as in the book, Katz is crude and offensive, managing to slip the f-word into every other sentence.  I imagine it wasn’t too much of a stretch for Nick Nolte.  He played the character well!

Comedic actress Kristen Schaal plays Mary Ellen, the obnoxious and often aggravating female hiker that tags along with Bryson and Katz for several days on their journey north.  Sadly, she played only a short role on screen.

I really enjoyed this movie.  It isn’t deep or meaningful, but if you are looking for that then I would recommend reading the book.  A Walk in the Woods explores the iconic history of the Appalachian Trail, as well as the harebrained adventures of two lifelong friends.  Go read the book, then have a good laugh at Redford and Nolte as they bring it to life on the big screen.

The Dinner Book Review

This is a book that I never thought I would read, let alone review.  When I first learned about The Dinner by Herman Koch, I was intrigued.  It sounded like a great plot, until I heard reviews.  It was being compared to Gone Girl.  I knew that was where they lost me.  I had no interest in reading another book like Gone Girl (my apologies to those who liked it) and have avoided reading any of Gillian Flynn’s other novels because of it.  But yesterday, when I was scouring our library’s digital catalog for something to listen to while cooking and doing laundry, this book came across my radar.  For some reason, I wondered if listening to the book might be better than actually reading it.  In my head, I justified it as multi-tasking.  I had nothing to lose.  If I didn’t enjoy it, at least I hadn’t wasted time sitting and doing nothing other than reading.  In fact, I got quite a lot done around the house while listening to it over the last two days.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

As readers, we are invited to join a family dinner among two brothers and their spouses in a swanky upscale restaurant in Amsterdam.  The majority of the book takes place around the table, with plenty of flashbacks to bolster the plot.  Narrator Paul tells the story of his son Michel and his brother’s son, who together have committed a horrific crime.  The two families meet to discuss how the incident should be handled.  

The audio version of The Dinner is narrated by Clive Mantle.  Mantle delivers this reading so brilliantly that, at first, I thought the book to be satire.  As I was listening, I actually thought to myself, “No wonder people don’t like it!  They aren’t getting the satire.  They aren’t reading into the sarcasm that seems to drip from the narrator’s voice when you hear it as an audiobook.”   But as the story wore on, I realized that it was not satire at all.  What I was hearing was complete contempt.  

I had a wide range of emotions while listening to this book.  At first, thinking it was satire, I found it to be a bit humorous.  Paul is poking fun at the expensive restaurant chosen by his brother Serge, who is a shoo-in to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands.  I quickly realize that he dislikes his brother and my attitude towards his brother is begrudging.  As we learn of the sons’ crime, I come to empathize with the parents, wondering what I would do if I were to find myself in a similar situation.  However, as Paul continues to create a backstory, my distaste for him as a person grows.  I find myself completely unsurprised that his son could commit such a horrific act.  And now, thinking back on the story, I find myself wondering if Serge wasn’t quite as terrible as I had made him out to be.  I’ve not read many books that have played with my emotions quite like this one.

The Dinner was a great book to listen to on audio.  I’m glad I chose this format because I would have crawled through it at a much slower pace had I been reading it.  This book has been classified as a psychological thriller.  I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I would say that it was dark.  It was dark in a way that you knew there would be no happy ending, similar to an Edgar Allan Poe story.  Yet, I was eager to know how it would end.  With all of its delicious twists and horrifying turns, the ending is one that may not surprise you.  But I can assure you, it will be a dinner unlike any you would ever want to attend.

Big Little Lies: A Book Review

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is without a doubt one of my favorite books of the summer!  Madeline, Celeste, and Jane are an unlikely trio of friends and who are about to face a considerable turning point in each of their lives.  While battling their own inner demons, they are waging war of another kind on snarky kindergarten moms.

Big Little Lies

It is the first day of kindergarten at the public school in the charming little seaside town of Pirriwee near Sydney, Australia.  Madeline and Celeste have been good friends for quite some time.  When Madeline takes a fall in her fancy new high heels on her way to school, Jane comes to her rescue and becomes Madeline’s personal hero.  When Jane’s son is accused of assaulting another child on the first day of kindergarten, it is Madeline and Celeste who come to her rescue.  The three, despite their many differences become close friends who would do anything to protect their children.

Celeste is a mother of twin boys and is wealthy beyond belief and carrying around a dark secret.  Madeline is a middle-class suburban mom of three who is trying her best to maintain a blended family.  And Jane, who can’t seem to stay in one place for long, is a very young, very shy single mother of an only child who has a secret of her own.

The story leads up to the school’s annual trivia night.  Throughout the book, we are given snippets of investigative interviews which leads us to believe that a major turn of events will take place on trivia night.   When the big night finally arrives, each of these three women discover that the truth can, indeed, set you free.

I loved the friendship that these three ladies shared.  Liane Moriarty develops the most genuine characters that are so incredibly relatable.  I found myself wanting to be friends with these ladies.  If you are looking for a fun book with plenty of plot twists, then Big Little Lies is sure to please!

More great books by Liane Moriarty