Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

I remember when this book first came out but for whatever reason it really didn’t catch my eye. Now of course when they started doing the TV show, I saw trailers EVERYWHERE! I then decided to check out what the book was about and was extremely intrigued.

I wanted to read it, but when I was prepared to check it out from the library, someone else did before me! Darn! Now I had to wait 28 days until they returned it.

But then they renewed it, so it was another 28 days.

Finally it was returned and I snatched it up like that. That night I went home and started reading it, and stayed up all night to finish it. I couldn’t put it down!

Pirriwee Public Elementary School is having their Parent’s Trivia Fundraiser Night, the theme being Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley. All parents are supposed to dress as Audrey or Elvis- from any film or point in their lives. When I read that I was like Heck ya, super cool! I would love to go to a party like that. Usually the parties are all the same-parent’s drink, answer trivia games, donate money, etc. But this time someone was murdered.

The police are trying to interview everyone but it is mess with the backbiting, gossip, etc-trying to figure out what really happened.

At the end of chapter one I was hooked, and every chapter had the same feel-I had to keep reading and I had to know who was murdered! Yes not only are you trying to figure out the killer but the murder victim as well.

The story goes back and forth between the police questioning what happened that night and the events from the beginning of the year to all that lead up to that fateful night.

I just had to know what happened, at one point when reading I found myself yelling at the book-“Who died!!! Who was killed?!!!” Moriarty was amazing at the suspense and keeping you going-and having you at a loss at which person was murdered.

So the book takes place in Australia, a fact I had to look up after I was confused with their slang. It actually reminded me of these books I read as a kid that I had the same reaction to, their slang was nothing like what we were saying. In fact the writing styles kind of remind me of this, they were The Year of Secret Assignments and The Murder of Bindy MackenzieI can’t remember who wrote them, it was Jaclyn M…Moriarty. Hey she’s an Australian writer with the same last name, I wonder of they are related (probably not but I’m going to look it up anyway). Oh my gosh, they are sisters! Wow…how funny! (To read more about them click here).

Okay, let’s get back to the review. Sorry for my little rabbit trail off to nowhere.

So all the events start off six months earlier, on the first day of school. Madeline MacKenzie is turning forty today. The day that her youngest daughter is starting school. The day that her ex-husbands’ daughter is starting school, the same school as her youngest daughter.

Madeline is loud, adorable, protective, and sweet. She may be blunt but if you are her friend she will mama bear protect you the same as her own children.

Her ex-husband, Nathan Carlson, left her when their daughter Abigail was just a baby. He refused to see her and send money, leaving Madeline to have to take care of everything, struggling as a single mom. She later met Fred MacKenzie and the two have two kids-Fred and Chloe, Chloe being the one starting school. Fred and Madeline do well, she works in a theater and he is a newspaper reporter. Everything was fine until Nathan came back into her life, remarried to crunchy-granola Bonnie and wanting to be “Dad” to Abigail. That isn’t even the worst part, Abigail loves being with her dad and loves Bonnie’s “green”, yoga lifestyle.

When Madeline is dropping her daughter off she gets involved in a skirmish with another person, yelling at them for almost causing an accident and trips on her brand new heels hurting her ankle. As she sits on the curb, a young mother helps her-Jane.

Jane Chapman is in her mid-twenties. She was going to college when her boyfriend she was mad about dumped her. Heartbroken, she went out with friends and had a one-night stand. She ended up getting pregnant in the encounter and dropped out of school to raise her son, Ziggy. She helps Madeline, who instantly befriends her-seeing in Jane what she went through in her own past, and invites Jane to join her and her friend Celeste for breakfast.

Celeste White is in her 30s, and has two twin boys also starting school. Celeste is breathtakingly beautiful, has an adoring husband, two perfect looking children, is extremely wealthy and has the perfect instagram life. She also immediately becomes Jane’s friend, not knowing why, but finding herself drawn to her.

Events are put into motion when they pick up their kids one girl accuses Ziggy of bullying. Immediately Madeline defends Jane and Ziggy and the grade becomes split between those that back the girl’s mom, Renata, and those that are backing Madeline.

But in this book the surface is not all that it seems. Who is father of Ziggy? Is Celeste’s life really perfect? Is there more to Bonnie than her mother earth mumbo jumbo? And is Ziggy really bullying other children, or is it someone else?

Hmm…

***Spoilers***

I LOVED this book. I just could not stop reading it it was sooooooooo good.

I loved how she dealt with abuse. So often people ask why doesn’t a person leave, and it isn’t as easy as one would think it is. There is a lot of damage being done to their psyche and they start to doubt themselves-I’m not as bad as those women or what about the kids? There is a lot more to it.

And how Jane was with the emotional abuse? After I left my husband and was dealing with the abuse he put on me her description could have been me right down the the high, tight, ponytail.

The only thing I didn’t like was when Abigail wants to sell her virginity in order to raise money/awareness for child prostitution, all the money going to Amnesty-and Celeste pretends to be an old man gifting an amount so large to keep her from actually doing it. I thought would have been more powerful if they had written to Amnesty and they wrote a letter back telling Abigail how stupid she was being. But I know why they did it, as it was a catalyst for the rocking ending.

The end was amazing! I didn’t see it coming. Just fantastic!

For more stand alone mysteries, go to He’s Gone

For more books with abuse themes, go to The Glass Forest

 

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

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The Glass Forest

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson

So I work at the library and I process the incoming books, getting them ready to go out on the shelves. I did this one and was so interested in it, but decided to wait until it came off the New Shelf.

The book starts in 1960 with Angie Glass, but flashes between her, Ruby in 1960, and Silja Glass in 1942-1960. The three stories intertwining.

Angie Glass has grown up Catholic in a large family, never leaving her hometown in Wisconsin. There she met the handsome, older, bartender and painter-Paul Glass. The two begin dating, and then when she is pregnant-get married.

Angie has never met Paul’s family-his mother and father being dead, and his only sibling-older brother Henry, wife Silja, and daughter Ruby-all live in Stonekill, NY.

At the wedding Angie felt a sort of jealousy about Ruby and Paul’s close relationship, but knows it is just because she feels left out. Henry and Silja barely speak to her.

A few months later, their baby Paul Jr., P.J. for short was born and the three have been leaving an idyllic life. That is until Ruby calls and tells them that her mother is gone and her father is dead.

The three fly out to Stonekill and to the amazing, modern, glass house built by Silja. Angie tries to be there for Ruby, but she is a strange bit of a thing that wants to stay mostly by herself. Paul deals with the police, funeral arrangements, etc. Angie spends most of her time in the house.

While cleaning, she starts to wonder at Silja’s “disappearance”, questioning her leaving behind her daughter and items necessary for running away. As she continues to search she discovers that she might not know the man she married.

Silja is a young girl in college, living in a Swedish commune in Brooklyn. She meets handsome Army private, Henry Glass, and falls so deeply in love. They are married, have one night together, and he is gone. He finds some time to come back, but all they do is meet in hotel rooms until he is shipped off to fight in WWII.

Silja gets pregnant and her mom helps her-encouraging her to stay in school and study, just in case Henry doesn’t come back. Ruby is born and Silja studies, while dreaming of when she will be a stay at home mother and wife and three will live all together, more children following.

Henry returns from war having been wounded “down there”. Things should have gotten better but Henry refuses to do anything. No more contact just sleeping in bed next to each other. He also refuses to work, with Silja having to pick up the slack.

This continues in their lives as they move to Stonekill, with Silja having to travel every day to work to provide for them and spend her nights alone as Ruby is usually heading to bed and Henry is off doing his thing. Henry does “projects” sometimes cooking, cleaning, repair work but nothing to help the household.

Instead he abuses her-financially by trying to control all her money, verbally, mentally, constantly being jealous. Silja enjoys her work as it allows her to be free from her husband. She tries to figure out a way to divorce, but Henry won’t let her go and if she tried going to court he would end up with the money and their child. What to do? Did she decide running away was the only answer? Would she leave her daughter to be with that demented man?

Ruby is blonde like her mother but takes after her father in her thin body and dark eyes. She spends a lot of time alone, not having any friends. She sneaks out every night and roams the woods, meeting up with a much older man by the name of Shepherd. Ruby knows more than what she is telling about what happened to her father and mother-but what happened?

Thoughts after reading

I loved it. I couldn’t put it down as I had to turn the page each one to find out what happened next.

I strongly recommend, read it!

Read it today!

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to He’s Gone

For more abusive relationships, go to The Wife Between Us

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

He’s Gone

He’s Gone by Deb Caletti

So I read a book by this author before, Stay, and it was very sad, but compelling and kept me turning every page.

So when I spotted this one, I checked out the back and felt drawn to it, just like her other novel.

So one morning Dani wakes up and finds that her husband Ian is gone. At first she doesn’t think much of it, hoping he went out for coffee or maybe to cool off as they had a disagreement the night before. They went to a work party for Ian, but Dani was a bit too much under the influence and wasn’t up to Ian’s standards.

Ugh! One of those guys!

But everything changed that night when Ian didn’t return. His car stayed parked in the same place all day. None of his clothes or things are missing. No one has seen him. And Dani has no memory of what happened after the party.

They and everyone she knows searches and searches but to no avail, what happened to Ian?

Between the modern day of the disappearance and the searching we also have Dani recounting how they met and how they unraveled.

Dani was married to an abusive man, always getting a fist or a kick-life was unbearable. She wanted out. She wanted to be rescued. And Ian felt the same feelings of being trapped in his marriage that was solely superficial-he made money and his wife spent it all on countless shopping trips and she flirted with everyone.

Ian saved her, and everything was good-until it wasn’t. Ian had a lot more faults than Dani had originally seen. In fact-he turned out to be just as abusive-except emotional and verbal instead of physical. He blamed her for his loss of friends, children, money, stuff in the divorce-taking no blame for something he instigated.

Jordan

The two began fighting more and more-unraveling faster than a ball of yarn.

So now the question is: did Ian leave? Or is he dead?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was compelling and kept you turning page by page to see what happened to Dani and Ian.

It was so sad how Dani left one abusive relationship, only to find herself in another. I think it is a travesty that more people aren’t educated about the many levels of abuse, only thinking it is physical or verbal.

For more disappearances, go to Deadly Intent

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to The Wife Between Us

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Under Suspicion #1) by Mary Higgins Clark

Laurie Moran’s doctor husband was shot in the park while he was out with his son Timmy. After the killer shot him, he told Timmy “I’m coming for your mom next, then you.” All Timmy remembers from of the man was his intense and scary blue eyes.

Five years have gone by and Laurie has raised her son with help from her retired police officer father, Leo Farley. Laurie is a television producer who has had a few bombs recently.

This time she is sure she has a winner, a Unsolved Mysteries like TV show where all the people from the case reenact what happened in cold cases, having them be looked over and maybe solve it-with viewer’s aid.

And she has the perfect case to start them off, the murder of Betsy Bonner Powell, otherwise known as The Graduation Gala Murder. Twenty years ago, four close friends graduated from college and Robert Powell and Besty Bonner Powell decided to throw a huge gala for the four of them-Claire Bonner (Betsy’s daughter and Robert’s step daughter), Nina Craig, Alison Schaefer [Kimball], and Regina Callari.

The morning after the party, Robert went to deliver his wife her early morning coffee, as he did every morning, and found her dead-smothered to death. He, the housekeeper Jane, and all the girls were heavily questioned, being under suspicion for twenty years.

Robert Powell is very ill man, not long for the world, and he agrees to the show and to putting up $250,000-tax free. That added to the TV show’s $50,000 they are paying each woman-every single one will take home $300,000 for just a bit of rehashing-and maybe even clear the suspicions surrounding them.

Hmmm…very tempting

Alex Buckley, famous defensive attorney, especially for the way he questions witness on the stand, will be the host and will question each of the graduates, Jane, Robert Powell, and the family friend George Curtis.

As they all gather everyone wonders and questioned which of them did it?

Claire was very close to her mother, even commuting to Vasser to live at home. Her mother was so beautiful and commanding and she so plain. Did she kill her mother because she resented Robert Powell coming between them or was she jealous of her mother?

Hmm…

Nina’s mother, actress Muriel Craig, was dating Robert Powell. One day they went out to a restaurant Nina saw her friend Claire and her mother Betsy also dining out. When Betsy met Robert that was it, they married not long after. Muriel was furious at this and always blamed her daughter for ruining her chances-did Nina snap and kill her-thinking it might finally shut her mother up?

Alison was from a poor family and a scholarship student who worked hard for everything she got and her scholarship to college. She married four months after the murder to longtime friend Thomas “Rod” Kimball. What could be her motive?

Hmm…

Regina’s dad heavily invested in Robert Powell’s hedge funds, losing everything and committing suicide. Did she get revenge by killing Betsy?

Jane used to work with Betsy when Betsy was a usher at the theater. Her life increased wonderfully after Betsy hired her on, or did it? Did she have a reason to kill her?

Hmm…

Robert Powell-he loved Betsy with all his heart and never remarried. Is he really the grieving widower, or was he the one who killed her?

And George Curtis, helpful family friend-or does something more lie under that facade?

But that is just the surface, each one has a secret-and a deeper motive for killing Betsy.

Hmmm…?

Claire could use the money and she hates Powell with vengeance, that being her only reason to come back. Powell molested her from the time she moved in until she fled after her mother’s murder. Claire had been trying to work up the nerve to tell her mother what was happening when she overheard the two, and discovered her mom knew and allowed it. Was Claire a part of the deal always, the real reason he left Muriel for Betsy? Claire had just found out before the gala, did she snap with anger and smother her mother?

Nina is just an extra and is stuck with her mother after Muriel almost burned her apartment down falling asleep while smoking. Life with her mother has been hell ever since Robert Powell left Muriel as every day she was verbally abused and yelled at for messing that up. She agrees to come to get the money and get rid of her mother-moving her out and as far away as possible. What no one knows is that besides the constant berating of her mother Betsy always rubbed in her face as well-even going as far as writing a slight on the invitation and to her face at the party. Did she finally snap under the pressure and silence her?

Alison’s dreams of becoming a doctor and researcher were dashed when she lost the scholarship that she had worked so hard for and couldn’t afford to pay for graduate school on her own. Rod signed on a great football contract and asked her to marry him, promising to pay for her schooling. However, shortly after they were married Allison lost her dreams again when Rod was injured and lost his contract-the two ending up working in a pharmacy and Rod having to use crutches or a wheelchair. She agrees to come to get the money and go back to school. While all know she lost her dream no one knows that Betsy was the cause. Betsy wanted to join a socialite club and in order to get in she had Robert donate a ton of money to the school and used her influence to give the rich daughter of the socialite the scholarship to seal her entrance into the club. Alison was furious as the girl who won it was lower in grades, had dropped out, could afford to pay her own way, and was not deserving of it at all. Alison also sleepwalks when stressed and angry, could she had found her way into the room that night?

Regina had a horrible divorce where she didn’t come out with much. She is a struggling real estate agent, competing with her wealthy ex for care and attention of her son. With the money-she could provide things for her son herself, and not have to worry about money. But she has a dark secret too. When her father committed suicide he left a note (which she stole to protect her mother) saying that Betsy manipulated him to invest the money. The two had been having and affair, she and Robert knew all along that the investment would fail, and planned this all to take his money and save themselves. Because of that she lost her dear father and home, a loss she felt no stronger than on her graduation. Did she finally snap and get revenge!

From the day that Jane moved into the house she fell head over heels in love with Robert. She also grew to hate Besty and her “queenly” ways. Did she do her in to get a chance at Robert?

George and Betsy had a two-year affair, which at the end of it Betsy threatened to tell his wife all unless he paid her off. George knew that paying her off wouldn’t end it but just begin a constant flow of payments-but he knew if Isabelle found out she would leave him and his life would be over. Did he kill her to protect his wife?

And Robert, how much did he know? How much was he a part of? And did he kill her too?

Meanwhile, Robert’s driver discovers most of the girl’s secrets and starts blackmailing them, and blue eyes resurfaces-hanging close to Laurie and planing on finishing his threat-during the graduation gala filming.

This had an amazing buildup! I was listening to it on CD while driving about and became so caught up in it I had to check the book out to read whodunit.

However, I did wish the deeper secrets were revealed, to all the characters which I wish they, as the “motives” for murder are so weak without them.

But otherwise a real page turner! And I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to The Man Next Door

For more mysteries in retrospect, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more blackmailing, go to The Cereal Murders