Life choices, ambitions and secrets

 

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I read “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty a while back. It has been made into a TV series recently, I started watching the show and remembered the book.

It starts with a loud thump, so to speak. Someone has been killed at a school trivia night. The interesting and unusual thing is, that we as readers, are kept in the dark as to who has been murdered. When it comes to the suspects, it looks like it may almost be anyone and everyone from the community. There is a lot of tension and we are shown, retrospectively how it has escalated to such an extend that one person ended up dead.

Madeline Martha Mackenzie, a stay at home mum, is a constant presence in the small community, while Renata has a high flying carrier. They children go to the same class. (As soon as I became a mum I realised what a strong divide has arose between the stay at home and the working mums. I belong to the latter group but I believe we are all doing our best and hope to raise happy and healthy kids. Nevertheless I was surprised to have some strong opinions thrown in my face by some of the mums even though I didn’t ask for them and didn’t judge anyone else’s choices. Therefore I would like to take this opportunity and ask all the mums to be understanding and support one another, regardless of their personal views in this matter. Sorry for the digression.)

What makes things worse between the mums in the book is an incident that happens on the first day of school after the summer holidays. A new student, Ziggy is accused of attempting to choke Amabella, who happens to be Renata’s daughter. There are no doubts that the sweet little girl has been hurt by somebody as there are visible marks on her throat but the new kid Ziggy strongly denies the accusations and his mother Jane Chapman, who has recently befriended Madeline, has no reason not to believe him, as Ziggy has been nothing but kind and gentle so far.

Parents are now taking sides, supporting either of the two strong women, Madeline or Renata. Small doubts are entering Jane’s thoughts as she fears that maybe her beloved son has inherited violent behaviour from his father. She is new in town having escaped the last place, where she feared that the child’s father might return and hurt her.

Apart from the drama that’s out in the open all mothers have their own personal issues. Jane is trying to forget the traumatic experience she went through. Renata is feeling guilty that her job takes so much of her time. Madeline struggles to come to terms with the fact that her ex husband can be such a caring father to his new daughter Sky, whom he has with his new young and attractive wife Bonnie, while he failed to do the same for their adolescent daughter Abigail in the past. To make things more difficult for Madeline, Abigail constantly praises Bonnie. Madeline’s second husband Ed is very understanding and sensible about the situation, but even his patience starts to wear off as he is beginning to feel neglected. Celeste, the mom of two twin boys is being abused by he husband and keeps it a secret from everyone.

Another fuse bursts between Renata and Madeline when Renata gets other parents to sign a petition that closes down a school play which Madeline was in charge of. When Madeline’s friends wonder why she is so worked up about a school play, she confesses that as much as she loves being a stay at home mum it is not enough for her, that she misses work. Cleste then admits the same, says that she misses practicing law.

The book is fast paced and keeps the reader interested. I am granting it 4 simple-apple-300px simple-apple-300px simple-apple-300px simple-apple-300pxapples, plums or clouds.


Apple, plums or clouds rating:

simple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300px – one of the best books I read

simple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300px – charmed

simple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300px – good read

simple-apple-300pxsimple-apple-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

simple-apple-300px – don’t waste your time

Don’t give up hope

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In ”Find Me” by J.S. Monroe we see Rosa’s story through her diary which her boyfriend Jar gets to read in a haphazard order. After just a few months of knowing Jar, Rosa commits suicide. He however doesn’t believe that she is dead, says that it was out of character for her, yet everything we have learnt about her so far points to the contrary. He keeps seeing her in the city but his therapist insists that he is experiencing post bereavement hallucinations. Is there another explanation? Perhaps somebody wants to make it look like she was dead. Why? Her recently deceased father worked for the Foreign Office in UK. Could she possibly be a spy?

I felt detached from the main characters. It wasn’t a question of me liking or disliking them, I simply didn’t feel like I got to know them well enough, I wish more foucs was put into drawing them. Since I did’t find the main characters gripping, the book didn’t compel me to keep reading. The first part seemed too long. Yes, there were places were it was more interesting, but I felt like it needed some more editing, maybe even rewriting. The structure was ambitious but a bit confusing. I think it might heve been more believeable if it was written from a perspective of Max, the journalist whom Jar meets and questions about the article he was working on. He was investigating the high rates of suicides in prestigious Universities in UK and the large number of missing bodies of those students. If Max was the leading character, he could have then concentrated on Rosa as the lates subject of his reaserch, maybe meet with Jar to talk about her… Just an idea.

The book is divided into two parts, a new narrator is added in the second part, a malicious character. It gets more interesting when the plot starts to slowly reveal itself. Warning: it also gets darker, there are rather graphic descriptions of cruelty, torture, inhumane and unethical experiments.

Overall, I am afraid the book gets from me two Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px umbrellas, earmuffs or cuff links, as I really thought it was going to be better. The story was there, but in need of rewriting and editing, in my opinion, with more focus on the main characters and shortened for a more gripping and quicker pace. I bought the e-book for under 2 euro.

Umbrellas, earmuffs or cufflinks rating

Umbrella-Closed-300pxUmbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px – one of the best books I read

Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px – charmed

Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px – good read

Umbrella-Closed-300px Umbrella-Closed-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

Umbrella-Closed-300px – don’t waste your time

Belonging

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”The Mill River Rescue’‘ by Darcie Chan is a story set in Mill River town and reaches from the 1940 till the XXI century. It is about the lives of the community, of one member in particular – Mary. When the older times are described the book has a vibe of a periodical novel with horses and a marble mansion. It is a gripping tale where two story plots intertwine, the young years of Marry Hayes with the modern days when she becomes Mary McAllister.

Mary has been raised by her father and was taught to appreciate what she had. They lived modestly and she was used to helping him on the farm. In fact she loved working with horses, far more than interacting with other people. She was a shy and vulnerable girl. Her trustworthiness led her to believe that her future husband was a kind and caring man and not a spoiled rich man he turned out to be. He came from a family of marble owners and there was nothing he couldn’t afford to buy. Marrying into the fortune didn’t change Mary’s good heart and she keeps looking for ways to reach to others in need, but there are obstacles in her way. Something makes her stay inside of the walls of their impressive house and it is not her abusive husband. Her only contact with the outside community is through her friend, Father O’Brien, whom she shares her secrets with.

As in every community there are people who are in its heart and there are outsiders. There are people who contribute, who gladly give a helping hand to their neighbours and others, misguided, angry or vicious, who choose to cause havoc. The first two groups do not necessarily reflect the latter divide. We can see all that in the little town of Mill River. Somebody provides the mysterious gifts and somebody else sets houses on fire.

Mary is an outsider but she is deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the town people. She has always wanted to be a part of the community and she was, in her own peculiar way. Nobody apart from a handful of people really knew her though. She wouldn’t, couldn’t let them. If you are intrigued to find out why, go ahead, it is a good read worth 3 Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px cars, stars or pencils.

Cars, stars or pencils rating

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – one of the best books I read

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – charmed

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – good read

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300pxChrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

Chrisdesign-Beetle-car-300px – don’t waste your time

Wear something green today

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What other book comes to mind on St. Patrick’s Day if not the impressively illustrated Book of Kells? St.Patrick insisted on preserving the scriptures. The Book of Kells contains four Gospels of the Life of Jesus Christ by evangelists: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Regardless of weather or not you are a religious person, the book is a national treasure dating back to the medieval times and worth seeing. It is on exhibition in the Trinity College in Dublin. The Old Library itself is a must see. Have you already been there and were impressed by the book? Go again, they change the pages at display.

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Happy Paddy’s Day!

 

The Language of Music

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Jessica is the main character in the ”The Language of Others’‘ by Clare Morrall. She has been unusual since she was a child. Her parents wondered if she was autistic but one doctor dismissed the idea and they never pursued the subject again, despite their daughter’s struggle to interact with other people. Even as a grown up she sometimes struggles to understand the people around her. Why would people lie, she often wonders until she discovers herself that it can be quite useful at times. She loves music and has been working impressively hard since she was about eight years old, she learns how to play the piano and then the violin. She graduates from a music college with a degree. Her inability to read other people and their intentions leads her to marry a man who might be a musical genius but is inconsiderate, selfish and prone to anger.

The combination of music, the love she feels for her husband Andrew and for their son, gradually drags her out of her own little world, invites her to finally be more adventorous, to get to know the world. However Andrew builds a new wall around her, doesn’t allow her to spread her wings secluding her into a new, confined world of insecurity and fear. Despite his difficult character, she sees him as one of a few people she was able to connect with and cannot believe at first that he wants a divorce. She is left with their son Joel, who as it seems, has inherited some of her awkwardness in the social area.

The reader accompanies Jessica’s venture through her childchood, college times, her marriage and its breakdown. She eventually sees that the separation from her husband gave her freedom and she is finally able to breath and anjoy her space, nearly, her grown up son doesn’t seem to be in much of hurry to fly from the nest. Moreover her husband suddenly decides to contact her directly after all these years.

The author is a qualified musician herself and the descriptions of the music are impressive. They add to the book’s value, I believe. I also enjoyed visiting, through Jessica’s eyes, her large family house where she grew up. Characters in the book were well drawn, including her ex-hippy mother Connie, a bit absentminded and carefree in contrast to her caring and gentle father Roland. Her pretty and outgoing sister Harriet. Their mean and cruel cousins Philip and Colin, and others that she meets later in her life.

I have decided to award this book 4 lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px owls, towels or monkeys.

Owls, towels or monkeys rating

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – one of the best books I read

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – charmed

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – good read

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300pxlemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

lemmling-Cartoon-owl-sitting-on-a-book-300px – don’t waste your time

World Book Day Ireland

 

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In 1995 UNESCO has established a World Book and Copyright Day to pay a tribute to books and their authors and to encourage people, especially children, to read. The official date is the 23rd April but individual countries tend to choose their own day and so Ireland is celebrating the World Book Day Ireland on the 2nd of March this year.

My hometown city Wroclaw was named by UNESCO the World Book Capital of year 2016.

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I remember the long hours spent there in libraries with academic reference books… I am glad I can now read purely for pleasure.

Today I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog. Here is a little screen shot showing all the countries and continents where somehow there were people interested enough in reading my blog 😉

 

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Thank you all very much again and I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

What happened tomorrow

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”Time Present and Time Past” by Deirdre Madden is a book of small volume yet powerful. Reading it was like slicing through a rich multilayered cake. We are invited to see just a piece of Fintan’s and his immediate family’s life, with no particular event starting or ending the story, just a slice of their lives. It was a philosophical insight into time and our relationship with it.

It was a reflection on the past generations, how they influenced us and how close or distant we feel from them, as well as a reflection on how we think about the future. I recall one description that I particularly liked: ”To engage too much with the future, in all its fragility and uncertainty, can make us feel dizzy with unease.” I don’t know about you, but this is exactly how I feel when I concentrate too much on thinking about the future. I personally also did some digging into the past when I was gathering information for my family tree, and I know how fascinating it can be to be able to see how people used to live, especially when they were your relatives. You are acutely aware that whatever happened to them has probably influenced your life in some way. They might have never known you, might have not ever met you or imagined your existence, yet you feel so close to them. You may be looking at their pictures, if you are lucky to have them, and see the resemblance to yourself, your mother or your father.

Fintan experiences moments when he feels detached from his reality. He takes interest in old photographs and through them tries to glimpse into the past. He has discussions with one of his sons, Niall, on whether or not the pictures show a truthful image of the past times. In the background, other members of his family are trying to come to terms with their past. His aunt Beth grieving after her husband’s passing and his sister Marina helping her but herself carrying a heavy secret.

Fintan also thinks about the future, as every parent probably does, he wonders about the choices his adolescent sons are making and what future they are going to make for themselves. The economic times of the early XXI century in Ireland are also shown as having a strong impact in shaping their future lives, as they have had for many other families. All the reflections that you come across while reading about the Buckley family are quite universal. 

Yes, I enjoyed this book and I am gladly awarding it 3 long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300px arrows, sparrows or binoculars. Did I mention I paid 3 euro for it?

Arrows, sparrows or binoculars rating

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxone of the best books I read

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxcharmed

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxgood read

long-arrow-up-right-300pxlong-arrow-up-right-300pxdisappointed, I thought it was going to be better

long-arrow-up-right-300pxdon’t waste your time

Maybe next Friday

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Maggie in “I Still Dream About You” by Fannie Flagg, decides she should end her existence. She doesn’t have anything to look forward to. She is middle aged and single, no children to watch them grow, no possibility of ever having grandchildren. Maggie’s decision to end her life was so matter of fact that it made me frown, it was funny in a black comedy kind of way. Furthermore it was comical to see the everyday things getting in the way of her plan – she promised her friend they would go to the Theater together, so she changes the date on her goodbye letter, postponing her suicide. I am not sure if this was convincing for me though. Maggie claims she has been sad for a while, and it very well might be true, but the sadness did not come through the pages, she seemed far too busy to have time to be sad. More importantly, can such a final decision really be made so emotionlessly?

As a former Miss Alabama, a winner of a beauty contest, that in her state apparently meant a lot, she grew very tired having to live up the expectations of others. What was intriguing is how Maggie became happier and more carefree once she stopped worrying about everyday things. She notices that herself but again is quite indifferent to it, she barely comments ”Oh, well.”.

The book has it strenghts. The descriptions of the Birmingham city in Alabama and the way it has been changing throughout the years, are particularly good. However the story line wasn’t as gripping as I had hoped it would be. It didn’t call to me to keep reading. I felt that I didn’t get to know the protagonist quick enough. I was about half way through the book when it finally, though still slowly, started to reveal events from her life enabling me to understand what might have lead Maggie to her decision. Without getting to know Maggie in time, I wasn’t given a chance to like her enough to care to keep reading, to relate to her in some way.

There is a little story hidden in the book involving previous owners of a house that Maggie, who works as a real estate agent, tries to sell. As much as I enjoyed the mystery about Edwina and her twin brother Edward, I do wonder if perhaps the book wouldn’t be interesting enough witout it.

Overall, I will give the book 3 adam-lowe-blue-kite-300px adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxkites, clouds or ice-cubes but it had to fight for it. So, if you are curious to find out if Maggie’s live will get in the way of her dying plan or if she carries it out, you will have to read the book and see for yourself.

Kites, clouds or ice-cubes rating

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxone of the best books I read

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxcharmed

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxgood read

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxadam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxdisappointed, I thought it was going to be better

adam-lowe-blue-kite-300pxdon’t waste your time