Reviews

Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story of nine very different people attending a luxury health retreat that turns a bit sinister is often quite funny but the narrative isn’t as taut as the only other novel of Moriarty’s I’ve read so far – Big Little Lies. There was, for me, a lack of urgency in learning all of the secrets of all of the characters through at least the first half of the book. Instead, the time is spent introducing the characters – usually through the eyes of the other characters- and lulling the reader and Tranquillium’s guests into a false sense of security. Romance writer Frances Welty is the heart, soul, and wit of the book. It was Frances and her unique world view that kept the book entertaining enough to keep me reading when I didn’t particularly care about finding out what would come later. I often wished, especially early on in the novel, that the Frances chapters weren’t interrupted in favor of other points of view. By the end of Nine Perfect Strangers, though, I had come to care for at least most of the guests.

Nine Perfect Strangers can, at times, be a slow read, getting mired down in details but it is a fun read.  However, it doesn’t come close to being as well-written and thrilling as Big Little Lies so, if you haven’t already, I absolutely recommend reading that one.

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For the Love of Books, Year in Review

Shelly’s Year in Books | 2017

It’s that time again!  Time to review my reading for 2017.  All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for me – bookwise at least – with far fewer low points than high points.  I won’t dwell on any low points as I didn’t read anything so unbearable that I felt compelled to give it only one star or even a generous two.  So I’ll mention some of the high points.  I read so many great books this year that I’m finding it very difficult to narrow it down to just one favorite.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • My first exposure to Liane Moriarty could not have gone better.  Big Little Lies is both impulsively entertaining and thought-provoking.  I can’t wait to read more of her work.
  • The first book in Amy Stewart’s wonderful Kopp Sisters series, Girl Waits with Gun was my top read of 2016 and the third book in the series, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, which came out this fall, did not disappoint.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is not in the running for top-read since this was my second reading of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster series, but it was still a high point in my 2017 reading.  It’s always nice to visit an old friend.
  • Not only did I enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life but so did many others as it was one of the finalists for Goodreads.com’s books of the year.
  • BBXX: Baby Blues:  The First Two Decades became a welcome addition to my collection of comics anthology.  Not only did I laugh out loud at Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott’s hilarious comic strips but I learned quite a bit about the behind-the-scenes of comic strip creation.
  • Abbi Waxman’s debut novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings was one of the most hilarious and heartfelt novels I’d read in a long time.  I loved it so much that I told all my reader friends that they had to read it.  I don’t often do that.
  • Kelly Harms’s The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is The Garden of Small Beginnings main competition for top-read this year.  They each had a wonderful sense of humor, a whole lot of heart, and lovable characters.

In the end, though, I think I’ll give the honor of top-read to The Garden of Small Beginnings simply because I want to spread the word about this delightful novel about a widow raising to precious and precocious little girls even further.  Waxman’s second novel is coming out in 2018 and I hope that I’ll be sharing another wonderful review for her in the coming year.

For a comprehensive look back at all 50 of the books I read in 2017, click here:

Check out My 2017 Year in Books on Goodreads!  And I wish you all happy reading in 2018.  Happy New Year!

Source: Shelly’s Year in Books | Goodreads

Mystery, Reviews, Woman's Fiction

Review: Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Big Little Lies is brilliantly written. Liane Moriarty certainly knows how to use a red herring. Though I did figure out a few of the book’s major twists, I was left guessing and second-guessing and third-guessing the main mystery of the novel. Even after it was revealed I didn’t believe it. It happened so suddenly and I was certain it was another of Moriarty’s diversions.
Not only is Big Little Lies a well-written novel with a razor-sharp sense of humor and utterly real (this is so unfortunate in many cases) characters; it is also an important novel. Moriarty tackles themes of bullying, domestic violence, marriage and parenthood, complicated structures, and friendship in a way that is so entertaining that the issues somehow seem to sink it more deeply. Big Little Lies not only makes you think about these issues but lets you think about them from different angles. Are we all capable of violence given the right circumstances? Why are some people able to control that urge better than others? When does the violence start? Why?
I’m not just thinking about all of these questions thanks to Big Little Lies. This book has changed the way I view the world. Every song on the radio suddenly sounds like a potentially abusive relationship. “If I tell you I love you, will you come back?” (I’m paraphrasing here) Why did she leave in the first place?
One of my favorite things about the novel was the little snippets of the interviews with the parents/witnesses throughout the story. Not only did they provide smoke screens, they deftly demonstrated how perceptions can be skewed and half-heard conversations can cause big problems. It was like the most ridiculous game of telephone ever. The adults were so much worse than the children.

If you enjoy Big Little Lies, you may also enjoy Joshilyn Jackson’s Gods in Alabama or Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

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