Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Review: "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

You know those books that keep you up reading late into the night? For me, Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies was one of those books. Initially, I was a bit thrown off by the structure of the story; moving back in time and counting down to the big event that the entire story builds toward with inserts of police interview narrative taking place after the big event. In the beginning, I read the police interview snippets and only hoped to remember everyone's name to see if the information became relevant. I soon found that those interview snippets reinforced one of the main themes in the book: the power of gossip and biased observations.

Once I got used to the structure, I was quickly swept up into the lives of the three main perspective characters. There is Madeline, a force of a woman and mother, who toes the line between being headstrong and being a bully. Bullying is another theme in this story, and Moriarty makes it clear that it is not a behavior contained to childhood playgrounds, but a behavior that can follow people into their adult lives with horrific psychological effects. Madeline is an aging, re-married divorcee struggling with the fact that her ex-husband and his perfect yoga Barbie doll of a wife have moved to the same town and their children all attend the same school. I found Madeline to be an acquired taste as she is rather rash in her decision making and much more likely to follow emotional impetus than take a rational approach.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Book Review: "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman

Have you ever started reading a book that doesn't initially grab you, but somewhere in the rising action you find yourself surprisingly entranced? That's how my reading of M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans began; a bit slow and uncertain. This was a book I bought when it first made a splash in the literary scene, but I didn't actually sit down to read it until a few years later.

This story crept up on me with its stunning sense of isolation introduced through the character of Tom Sherbourne. Tom has returned to Australia after fighting in WWII. I am an admitted fan of all things WWII, especially the exploration of psychological trauma. Tom is haunted by the war, and in an attempt to heal from the experience he accepts a posting at a lighthouse on Janus Rock. Janus is a rocky island completely cut off from civilization. Stedman's use of setting serves as reinforcement of Tom's internal state, but brilliantly Janus also evolves along with the characters. Janus becomes a private sanctuary for Tom and his young, free-spirited wife Isabel who comes to live with him after they are married. The two become the Adam and Eve of Janus, explorers that re-map the island in a way only they can understand; they are hopeful and in love and Janus is the cradle of their happiness.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Jon Snow Dilemma

If you are anything like me, a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) books as well as HBO's phenomenal adaptation, Game of Thrones (GOT) then you are probably wondering whether Jon Snow stands any chance of being resurrected from the dead.

Book readers have been blogging about this on the internet for years. The end of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, left much to the imagination. In the book, Jon is a warg, as are most of the other Stark children. The prologue of Dragons focuses on the character Varamyr Sixskins, a powerful warg beyond the wall who was able to prolong his life after his human form was killed by warging into the consciousness of several different animals. So when the book ends, and Jon snow is stabbed by his brothers and lays bleeding out, he calls for Ghost. So there are a lot of fan theories based on evidence in ASOIAF that believe Jon survived the stabbing by warging into Ghost. 

The adaptation has not shown any of the Stark children as wargs except for Bran. I understand this from a show running point of view, as this ability distinguishes Bran and enhances his importance in the eyes of the viewers. However, I still waited up until the screen went to black for Jon to whisper Ghost's name, I thought maybe that would be the moment to reveal that he can also warg. It didn't happen. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn

If you liked Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, then odds are you will also enjoy Dark Places. The story follows the mystery of the Day Family Murders in 1985, and the surviving daughter Libby Day's conviction that her older brother Ben was responsible for the satanic laced deaths of her mother and two sisters. The very structure of Dark Places is something I appreciate in terms of unfolding a mystery. Libby Day is the novel's present day first person point of view character. Libby is depressed, unmotivated, emotionally unstable, and a whole host of other unflattering characteristics including kleptomania, and yet her voice is impossible to resist. As the only first person character, the reader gets inside of Libby's mind and her unapologetic perspective of the world which is viewed through the tragic lens of the murder of her family when she was just a child. Perhaps having survived the murder of her mother and two sisters, her subsequent mutilation, and providing the damning testimony that helped pin the crime on her brother, is the reason Libby is so easy to forgive as a narrator.

As the story moves forward, the character perspectives move between Patty Day (Libby's mother) and Ben Day (Libby's brother) on the day of the murder back in 1985. Flynn really shines here as she masterfully designs a story that doesn't reveal it's central truth behind the mystery of who committed the murders until the reader has traveled with Patty and Ben through the day and their dark truths. The back story keeps the reader guessing at every turn as to who was responsible for the ghastly murders and who else may have been involved.