Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty by Liane Moriarty

Last month’s book club read, and I completely forgot to do a final wrap-up post about it. My apologies! I thought I’d have more blogging time during the summer but I’m not finding that to be the case – either I need to accept that this is the new reality of time available, and make adjustments to my expectations, or else hope that the school year structure will let me get back into my previous routine. Or maybe some of both?

Anyway, back to Big Little Lies. I LOVED it. Such a satisfying read, and it was a perfect vacation book – compelling and easy to read, but enough depth that I didn’t feel like I was wasting my reading time on pure fluff. There’s some real substance to Moriarty’s stories that provides a lot to think about even as you’re swept along in her storytelling.

The structure was really enjoyable to me – I liked how she opened it with the big event, and then went back to the beginning to let the reader see how it got to that point. I liked the interviews that were interspersed throughout the text – it was fun seeing personalities emerge from those little snippets. I really liked how not only was I trying to figure out who the killer was, but also who the victim was!

A heads-up as well if you liked this one: Moriarty has a new title, Truly Madly Guilty releasing July 26. I am *so* excited about this, and keep going back and forth about pre-ordering the Audible version. Anyone trying it?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Book Details

Title: Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Introducing July’s Book Club Selection: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Cuckoo's CallingJuly’s book for the Facebook book club is The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J. K. Rowling by Robert Galbraith

What It’s About

Description from Goodreads:

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Why Was This Title Selected

I wanted a mystery for the year, and I’ve heard some really great things about this as a series. Plus I’ve been wanting to get to it since the fact that Robert Galbraith was really J. K. Rowling became news, and this was a way to prioritize it.

Anything Else to Know About It?

There are two more books in the series (so far) if you enjoy the first.

Discussion about the book is starting today, but if you’d like to join in the first few questions will be very general, and you’ll have time to catch up by the time we get into anything substantive. It’s available in print, for Kindle, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up in August?

Climbing the Mango TreesClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in IndiaClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey

Why did I select it? I wanted a memoir, and one with a non-US focus. Plus I am a complete fan of food memoirs, so any excuse to read another one of those is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Saving CeeCee HoneycuttSaving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman

Charming and sweet story that was an ideal vacation read. It’s light enough that it fit well with my mood at the beach, but it has just barely enough depth to still be satisfying.

I can’t give it more than 3.5 Stars, no matter how perfect it was as a beach book, because of how it skirts around more meaty issues. Racism, child neglect, insanity, poverty, and death are all briefly addressed, but in a very superficial way. The wrap-it-all-up in a bow ending was enjoyable from an emotional standpoint, but intellectually I can acknowledge how unrealistic it all was.

Highly recommended, or not at all recommended, depending on what sort of book you’re looking for. The writing is lovely, and the occasional bits of humor had me chuckling. I’ll happily try another by Hoffman.

We’ll be reading this for my in-person book club in August, and I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else has to say about it, and finding out how well the feel-good novel works as a discussion vehicle.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Steel Magnolias meets The Help in Beth Hoffman’s New York Times bestselling Southern debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her mother, Camille, the town’s tiara-wearing, lipstick-smeared laughingstock, a woman who is trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen of Georgia. When tragedy strikes, Tootie Caldwell, CeeCee’s long-lost great-aunt, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to Savannah. There, CeeCee is catapulted into a perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity—one that appears to be run entirely by strong, wacky women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons; to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones; to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

A timeless coming of age novel set in the 1960s, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship, and charts the journey of an unforgettable girl who loses one mother, but finds many others in the storybook city of Savannah. As Kristin Hannah, author of Fly Away, says, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut is “packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart.”

Book Details

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel
Author: Beth Hoffman
Category: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Katie Chandler Series Review (Enchanted, Inc)

Shanna Swendson's Katie Chandler seriesWhile Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc series actually includes seven titles, I only read the first five. So, the series review is admittedly incomplete as far as how the series ultimately resolves.

However, glancing at reviews of the final two titles doesn’t indicate that there is anything drastically different between them and the others, so I feel pretty confident with my overall comments.

A strength of the series is in the imaginative twist to often standard fantasy elements. There’s magic, fairies, spells, ogres, wizards, and (perhaps most fun of all) – gargoyles are real, and they don’t always stay in place. They’re all in what is otherwise a standard contemporary setting. Chick lit/light romance swirled together with fantasy – how fun!

I appreciated that the romance aspects never took over the entire story, and things are very tame. If you like more romance in your stories (or at least things to go beyond a few kisses), this may not be the series for you.

These aren’t great literature, but for amusing, nonchallenging reading I liked them enough to burn through five in a month or so. I only quit because I couldn’t get the sixth book quickly, and then was never motivated enough to try again for it.

Do I recommend it? Sure, if it sounds like something you’ll like, it’s entertaining. It’s not something I’d ever reread, or recommend you putting a lot of effort into obtaining. They’re great library books for when you want something really light – think beach reading!

Publisher’s Description of Book 1: Enchanted, Inc:
DON’T MESS WITH HEXES

Katie Chandler had always heard that New York is a weird and wonderful place, but this small-town Texas gal had no idea how weird until she moved there. Everywhere she goes, she sees something worth gawking at and Katie is afraid she’s a little too normal to make a splash in the big city. Working for an ogre of a boss doesn’t help.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, Katie gets a job offer from Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., a company that tricks of the trade to the magic community. For MSI, Katie’s ordinariness is an asset. Lacking any bit of magic, she can easily spot a fake spell, catch hidden clauses in competitor’s contracts, and detect magically disguised intruders. Suddenly, average Katie is very special indeed.

She quickly learns that office politics are even more complicated when your new boss is a real ogre, and you have a crush on the sexy, shy, ultra powerful head of the R&D department, who is so busy fighting an evil competitor threatening to sell black magic on the street that he seems barely to notice Katie. Now it’s up to Katie to pull off the impossible: save the world and–hopefully–live happily ever after.

Series Details

Series Title: Katie Chandler
Author: Shanna Swendson
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
Individual Titles:

  1. Enchanted, Inc.Enchanted, Inc. (Katie Chandler, Book 1) by Shanna Swendson
  2. Once Upon StilettosOnce Upon Stilettos (Katie Chandler, Book 2) by Shanna Swendson
  3. Damsel Under StressDamsel Under Stress (Katie Chandler, Book 3) by Shanna Swendson
  4. Don’t Hex with TexasDon't Hex with Texas (Katie Chandler, Book 4) by Shanna Swendson
  5. Much Ado About MagicMuch Ado About Magic (Enchanted, Inc. Book 5) by Shanna Swendson
  6. No Quest for the WickedNo Quest for the Wicked (Enchanted, Inc. Book 6) by Shanna Swendson
  7. Kiss and SpellKiss and Spell (Enchanted, Inc. Book 7) by Shanna Swendson
  8. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

A Town Like AliceA Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

The sum of this book is greater than its parts: it shouldn’t be a 4-star read for me, considering several weaknesses that would normally drop it to a 3-star rating at best. But my overall feelings for the book remain higher, so 4 stars it is.

The framework is clunky at times – the attorney narrating the story, with more details and insight than seems likely. The second half of the book should have been tedious, with the specifics of starting businesses and developing the town. It could have been a sappy, unbelievable romance. Instead it’s a sweet story of survival, resilience, hard work, devotion, and love.

A heads-up that the language reflects when it was written, and there are some racist and sexist terms used (and attitudes shown). It’s jarring at times, but assuming you can overlook that, I’d recommend the book anyway.

If you do read it, be sure and read the end pages – Shute based Jean’s trek around Malaysia on actual events, although he changed the country. I’m glad he gave those amazing women some attention by using their story as part of his novel.

It’s been available on Kindle for $2.99 for months now, so I’m guessing that’s the regular price. I bought it for myself and think it’s definitely worth grabbing for that great deal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Nevil Shute’s most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. Jean’s travels leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

Book Details

Title: A Town Like Alice
Author: Nevil Shute
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Station Eleven (and a linkup!)

Station ElevenI am a post-apocalyptic wimp. I had to force myself to get through Emily St. John Mandel’s Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and it’s not because the book is poorly written. Her writing is beautiful, and the story compelling. Too compelling for me, as I get anxious when reading about civilization collapsing and find myself wanting to go stockpile food and learn about survival techniques.

I did better with the book once the storyline moved past the immediate the-world-is-imploding moments and it was either clearly before the collapse or after. Something about the time right as it’s happening gets to me. 😉

Fortunately for everyone in the Facebook group who wanted to discuss the book, they didn’t have to wait on me to finish it (I was so late with this one), as there was a guest facilitator. And the discussions were wonderful – lots of interesting perspectives on the book, and post-apocalyptic literature in general.

It’s hard to give a rating to this sort of book. It’s a 5-star read in many ways – the writing, the characters, how thought-provoking it is. And yet because it’s so hard for me to read this genre it feels wrong in some ways for me to give it a 5 star rating. Those are reserved for the books I LOVE, so even though I can acknowledge that it’s a fabulous book, I think I have to only give it 4 stars.

So, go! Read this book, unless you’re a goofball like me who then feels the need to start hoarding all the survival items I can think of. And even then, you might still read it because it is a great book, and I just have issues.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on Empire of the Summer MoonEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne on May 9th – I’m starting it a week later because it’s a slower read (and I need time to finish). There will be a linkup for posts relating to the book on May 31st.


If you’ve written a post about Station Eleven, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Introducing April’s Book Club Selection: Station Eleven

Station ElevenThis month’s book for our Facebook book club is Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel by Emily St. John Mandel.

What It’s About

Excerpt from Goodreads:

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Why Was This Title Selected

It’s gotten some glowing reviews, and I wanted to feature a Science Fiction book this year. This seemed like an accessible one that wasn’t the start of a series.

Anything Else to Know About It?

It was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2014, and won or was nominated for a slew of other awards.

It’s available in print, for Kindle, and on Audible

Discussion about the book is starting soon, but you’ve still got time to track it down and join us as we’ll continue it all month.

What’s Coming Up in May?

Empire of the Summer MoonLooking ahead to next month we’ll be reading and discussing Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne by S. C. Gwynne. It’s available in Print, for Kindle, or on Audible. And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

This is nonfiction, so it may be a slower read than our two recent fiction books – so keep that in mind if you need to start it sooner to be ready for the discussion.

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (with linkup)

The ChosenAll the books for my facebook book club have been new-to-me this year, and I underestimated how nerve-wracking it would be for me. I’m worried that I’ll have picked books that don’t work well for discussion, or are just disappointing reads in general and leave everyone wishing they hadn’t wasted their reading time.

Fortunately, so far I’d say that I’m happy with all of the picks – they’ve been worth reading, at least in a general sense (as in, perhaps not for individual readers with their tastes, but for most situations, I think they’ve been worthwhile).

March’s book, The ChosenThe Chosen by Chaim Potok, has been my favorite so far, and is in many ways the perfect example of why I love book clubs. I don’t know that I’d have ever picked up the book otherwise, and clearly I needed the “push” that the assignment gave me. And what a shame it would have been to miss the book!

The characters are memorable, and some of the passages are still with me, as I think about them and consider what it can mean in my life. Particularly Reuven’s father’s comment about a life worthy of rest, and how that relates to me in my current life season. It’s a quieter book than many of the genre novels I enjoy, but I really appreciated the introspective nature of it and how thought-provoking it was. It’s also always an extra bonus for me when I learn from what I’m reading (one of the reasons I so love nonfiction) and I learned quite a bit about history and the Hasidic culture.

If you’ve never read it, I’d *highly* recommend that you do so. While I haven’t gotten to them yet, I will be reading the sequel, The Promise, as well as My Name is Asher Lev.


If you’ve written a post about The Chosen, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below. And if you like looking at book covers, I featured versions of The Chosen in a recent post.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel April 4th. There will be a linkup for posts relating to that book on April 27th.


Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

RebeccaRebeccaRebecca by Daphne Du Maurier by Daphne Du Maurier

My in-person book club’s March pick, and we picked it to go along with our annual tea party.

Maybe not quite as perfect a book for a tea party as some of our other choices (like The Road from Coorain, or The Secret Keeper), but any book with a British setting still feels appropriate for the tea party. 🙂

I’d read Rebecca years ago – in high school, or perhaps right after I graduated. While I expected that I’d have forgotten most of it, I didn’t find that to be the case, and almost all of the book was familiar. The advantage of that was it let me see how du Maurier structured the book and set up the surprises. The disadvantage was that I wasn’t surprised by any of the reveals, and I didn’t feel compelled to read the last chapter or two when I ran out of time before book club. Yes, that’s right. I didn’t read the very end in my book, and instead went online and found spoilers to confirm that what I thought I remembered is what happened.

Rebecca makes for a good discussion book – there’s a lot to chat about and debate. Where it gets slightly tedious is the nameless main character – constantly calling her “the main character” or “the second Mrs. DeWinter” got tiring, and eventually we started referring to her as nameless. Certainly not a reason to skip discussing the book, but it wasn’t anything I had anticipated.

While I wish I could say that I loved the book, I didn’t. I enjoyed the writing (so beautiful and atmospheric!), and her characterizations include some standouts. However, I was also so annoyed with some of the plotting that it detracted from the overall enjoyment of the book. I do think it works so well as a discussion book though, that I’d still highly recommend it for that purpose. Even if you’re not reading it for a book club, I still think it a worthwhile choice for general cultural literacy. Maybe you’ll be a bigger fan than I was of it, but even if you’re not, some books are worth reading.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .”

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.

Book Details

Title: RebeccaRebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Category: Fiction / Classic
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cooking the Book: ANZAC Biscuits

Introducing March’s Book Club Selection: The Chosen

The ChosenThis month’s book for our Facebook book club is The ChosenThe Chosen by Chaim Potok, by Chaim Potok.

What It’s About

from Goodreads:
It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again….

Why Was This Title Selected

My in-person book club read it long before I was a member, and the raves they gave it had me convinced I needed to read it.

Anything Else to Know About It?

It was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1968, and won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award in 1967.

It’s available in print, for Kindle or on Audible. Last month I said it wasn’t available on Kindle, but apparently it’s newly released in that format – hooray!

Discussion about the book has already started, but it’s a fairly quick book to read, so you’ve still got time to track it down and join us as we’ll continue it all month. And if the timing isn’t right for you to read it now and participate in the discussion, I’d encourage you to read the book at a later time – it’s wonderful.

What’s Coming Up in April?

Station ElevenLooking ahead to next month, we’ll be reading and discussing Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s available in print, for Kindle, and on Audible. See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!