Big Little Lies

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at the bestseller Big Little Lies by Australian author Liane Moriarty. This book has recently been released by HBO as a series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley. So, should you read the book, dive into the series, or avoid the whole thing altogether?

The book centers around the events of a school trivia night-where somebody in the seaside town of Monterey, California, is murdered. After this is set up in chapter one, the reader is taken through the events of the preceding six months leading to the incident, and it is up to the reader to work out who has died, why, and who killed them.

Each chapter alternates its viewpoint between three different women: socialite and extrovert Madeline; new resident and single mother Jane; and wealthy ex-lawyer Celeste. All three have children beginning their first year in the local kindergarten, and the story revolves around the first six months of the school year.

This novel focuses on themes of motherhood, family and female friendship, as well as some much darker themes that will go unmentioned here, as this review is spoiler free. I would say its demographic is firmly set in the women of childbearing age category. Particularly, if you have children at school age, you will perhaps relate to the setting of politics in the schoolyard. This book delves into the trials and tribulations of social etiquette, challenges and lighter moments that occur amongst parents of small children.

Liane Moriarty is very talented at hooking her audience. Certainly at the end of the first two chapters I was drawn into the intrigue of the “whodunnit” and was eager to turn the page for more. However Moriarty’s real talent is writing without clichés. Her characters are relatable, human and their life experiences seem drawn from reality, not written for dramatic impact. She is subtle in her writing, able to alternate between dark themes, but then surprise you with relatable humour with ease. I found I was really going for each of the women in this novel, and wanting them to overcome their respective challenges.

In terms of negatives, I was able to pick ahead of time the major plot twist. This is very unusual, I’ve never been able to pre-empt the twist before! However, the ending, including who it was that was killed, was a surprise to me, and Moriarty did a fantastic job at wrapping up her story. The final countdown towards the last few chapters went quickly and the prose was rapid, articulate and exciting. The ending felt complete and satisfying.

Overall, I would recommend this book as an engaging read from start to finish, particularly if you are a stay-at- home mum or dad that can relate to the school yard scene. It is intriguing, pulls you into the mystery, and will keep you guessing. The book explores some important themes around family and friendship. It is suitable for an adult audience only and would translate well to television.

Have you read the book or seen the TV series? What did you think? Please share your thoughts below!

Happy Reading and thanks for joining us at TBBC!

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The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murukami

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we return to one of my favourite authors, Japanese writer Haruki Murukami. We will be looking at his collection of short stories, originally released in 1993, titled The Elephant Vanishes.

The Elephant Vanishes is a medium sized volume of 17 short stories, each one unique and bizarre, where realism meets with elements of fantasy, science fiction and dream-like qualities. Each story will take you to an alternate version of reality where things are very much as you expect, but always with a twist of the unnatural.

Amongst the stories included are Barn Burning, where a man at a party makes an odd confession to his passion for starting barn fires; The Last Lawn of the Afternoon, where a casual gardener mows his last lawn before retirement from the business; and TV people, where a young man, relaxing on his couch, is confronted with little people walking out of his television. My personal favourite was Sleep, a tale where a married woman discovers one day that she no longer needs to sleep, and is given the freedom to live a second life at night. This is something I’ve often thought about (“Imagine what I could do with all that time!”) so I was intrigued by the concept, and the ending to this one had a big impact.

If you are yet to read Murukami, and he is on your list, then I recommend starting with one of his novels and leaving The Elephant Vanishes for afterwards. Whilst I enjoyed the short stories immensely, I think Murukami is much stronger as a novelist, as his stories require space and go along at a meandering pace that is much better suited to a longer style.

If you are a fan of Murukami, then of course this is worth a read. You will recognize subtle references and characters that link with some of his novels. You will, however, probably be left with wanting more, as the stories tend to fly by!

For those who love short stories, I also recommend picking up this volume. You will easily read the whole thing in the space of a day or two, and his short stories have gained international recognition, one of which was printed in The New Yorker.

Have you read The Elephant Vanishes? Which story did you enjoy? Please leave a comment below!

 

Happy Reading and thank you for joining us at TBBC!

Witches Abroad

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at the 12th book of the 41 long Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. This book is called Witches Abroad and features the three main characters previously introduced in Wyrd Sisters: the boisterous, fun loving Nanny Ogg, the stern and scary Granny Weatherwax and the wimpish amateur Magrat.

This novel sees our loveable trio step outside their comfort zone and go travelling to foreign places after Magrat is unexpectedly given the task of being a Fairy Godmother. It is her job, with her companions in tow, to seek out the young Princess who is to be her charge, and ensure that a magical wedding is prevented.

Terry Pratchett’s work always contains an element of satire, and this time, as you may guess, this book centers around the ideas of storytelling, happy endings and fairy tales. Terry takes the conventions and turns them upside down, all with his trademark humour, quips, plays on words, and funny asides.

The three main characters feel like friends, and accompanying them on their journey to fairytale lands is full of such adventures as winning their way out of being bankrupted by card sharks, putting a big bad wolf out of its misery, trying a voodoo witches gumbo (and befriending her zombie boyfriend) and tasting banana daiquiris whilst flying around on broomstick.

This book, along with all the others of the Discworld series is recommended for people of all ages and genders. It’s fun and light- hearted fantasy with loveable characters and a quick pace.

You will have a great time!

Happy Reading and thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be taking a look at the new Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (Parts One and Two).

This is the eighth story of the Harry Potter series, set nineteen years after the 7th story. Harry is a 37 year old man, and himself, Ron and Hermione are all parents now. This story includes what the adults are currently up to, but mainly centers around their children, particularly Albus, Harry’s youngest son, and his best friend Scorpius.

I had a lot of reservations before reading this story. Firstly, it’s been years since a Harry Potter tale: what if it’s not as good? What if this story tramples on my childhood by being terrible on it’s own, or worse, interferes with my warm memories of reading it as a kid? As for many people, there hasn’t been a book released since that has captured that same excitement as the Harry Potter releases did growing up. I didn’t want anything to spoil that.

Secondly, it’s a play. In fact, it’s a stage show that goes for five hours apparently. What if I don’t like the play format, and that makes it tricky to read? Will this just leave me wanting a novel, and feel disappointed that it’s a play instead?

Many concerns- so many that I nearly didn’t buy the book. However my husband talked me into it.

I really needn’t have worried at all.

The story is wonderful. It is filled with all the magic (literally and figuratively!) that made the books so succesful. All of your favourite locations and people are included here. The Hogwarts Express and Hogwarts itself, as well as, through some flashbacks/memories and other devices, the characters we all love- Dumbledore, Hagrid and some of the other teachers. It contains all the people and places you’d love to see come to life on the stage.

The story isn’t afraid to step ahead into new territory either. Albus and Scorpius are new characters that are flawed but immensely likeable too. They prove that a Harry Potter story without Harry Potter can work just as well. Their scenes feel strong on their own, you aren’t reading and waiting for Harry, Ron and Hermione to show up again.

The play centers around themes of Father and Son, and the challenges of parenthood. It deals with grief and acceptance, and our desire to change the past. There is a wonderful balance of humour and heartfelt moments.

As for the problem of it reading as a play, not a novel, it’s really a non-issue. The stage directions are minimal, and only serve to add to the visualization in your mind. They are not lengthy, therefore the story doesn’t drag. After you get used to reading it as a play, you soon get into the groove and are able to read through it as smoothly and quickly as you would a novel- not that you’d want the experience to go fast!

Having said that, you will read through it quicker than a novel. It took me all up about eight hours to read it from cover to cover.

This play was written by Jack Thorne, based on an original story idea by himself, J.K Rowling and John Tiffany. It reads as though it was written by J.K Rowling herself, which is of course important to the whole experience. It also leaves hope that if JK Rowling doesn’t want to write any more stories herself, she could continue to allow others to expend the universe utilizing her ideas, and that can be successful.

J.K Rowling has said that this is the last Harry Potter story. I strongly believe that it won’t be the last story altogether- it feels like just the beginning for Albus and Scorpius. Bring it on!

Having said all of this, if you by luck are living in the UK and have the opportunity to see the stage show in the near future, definitely boycott the book and wait for the show, as I’m sure seeing it live would be spectacular. For the rest of us, we’ll have to patiently use our imagination!

I will say that I haven’t read any other reviews of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Whether or not anyone else enjoyed it is completely unknown to me, but personally, this play has gotten me right back into Harry Potter mode- I’m reading them all again from the start and am loving the experience!

Thank you for joining us,

Let us know your thoughts down below!

Happy Reading Bosses 🙂

The Girl on the Train

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Hope you have all been keeping well! I’ve been living under a rock apparently, as I’m sure I’m one of the last to read the suspenseful hit of 2015, the global bestseller and soon to be movie (starring Emily Blunt). This is the review for The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

If you too have been living in a dark, isolated place over the past year, let’s see if this thriller interests you…

The Girl on the Train is divided by chapters that are told in first person view from a variety of characters. The central character is Rachel, an overweight alcoholic in her late 20s whose life has gone from perfect to disaster in the past five years. She had it all- a great job, a loving husband, health and happiness. We’re catching her at her lowest point, after she’s lost it all.

On her daily train trips (whilst sneaking booze from her handbag), she always takes note of a particular house she passes, which has what appears to be a loving couple within. Often the lady of the house, Megan, is sitting outside. Rachel imagines what life is like for the couple, creates a little backstory in her mind as to what their lives are like.

When Megan is reported missing, Rachel decides to investigate.

The back cover of the novel has a quote from The Times review which states: “My vote for unreliable narrator of the year.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Rachel is unreliable for a lot of reasons- her constant consumption of alcohol has made her memory poor and untrustworthy, she’s desperately lonely, and she’s often overstepping personal boundaries because of this. She is somewhat, for want of a better term, mentally unstable. However, her situation could have happened to anyone- and she’s sympathetic and relatable because of this. Despite her faults, as a reader you feel compassion towards her, you want her to solve the case, and you want her to start rebuilding her life. You want all of this, but you can’t shake the idea that Rachel is also a suspect in this suspenseful tale.

This novel maintains its suspense as it unravels the story slowly, keeping you reading to unlock more clues as to the circumstances of Megan’s disappearance. The switch between chapters from different viewpoints keeps it lively and interesting. Particularly good are the chapters from Megan’s viewpoint, who is a well developed character with, of course,many secrets that need unveiling.

A weakness of this novel is that some of the character chapters are stronger than others. As just mentioned, the chapters from Megan are particularly good. Others, such as the chapters that focus on Anna, one of Megan’s neighbours, feel thin, and the character is less fleshed out and I felt, too superficial. Anna’s viewpoint often doesn’t reveal enough new information and was repetitive of other characters viewpoints. However, this is only a minor flaw in the context of the novel as a whole.

This book is absolutely perfect for reading whilst travelling, especially if it’s on a train! It will have you looking out the window, thinking over the mystery, and will have you pondering about the lives of strangers you pass. It is an easy read, and the chapters are short, great for filling in small gaps in your free time. I did pick whodunnit, but only a chapter or two before it was revealed.

It’s not one of the greatest novels of all time, but it’s a great suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until a satisfactory conclusion. I recommend suspense lovers give it a read if you haven’t already.

Thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

Please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

 

Happy Reading 🙂

Purity

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

 

This week, to celebrate the return from hiatus, we’re doing a book a day for five days (this is Day 2!). Today we’ll take a look at Jonathan Franzen’s novel, Purity.

 

This is the first book I’ve read by the modern American novelist and I was very impressed by the scope of this book. At the start of the drama is a woman named Pip Tyler, an individual who’s struggling with life due to a large University debt; a less than ideal living situation squatting with some housemates, a job she doesn’t enjoy and a friction filled relationship with her mother. There are certainly relatable moments for just about anyone in the opening chapter, however the novel rapidly expands and opens out to cover a large range of characters, and a broad array of themes.

 

This is as much a political thriller as it is a personal drama. The political side comes into play through the character of Andreas Wolfe, a Julian Assange type figure who was raised in Germany and is now leaking anything and everything political he can find on the internet. When Pip is hired by this man she is pulled into a world of journalism, of secrets, of information and intrigue.

 

Before this novel my knowledge of Berlin’s history was somewhat limited but through the character of Andreas, Franzen does an excellent job at painting a picture of what it was like to grow up in a very politically and socially unstable time. Also, Andreas’ character is very interesting psychologically, and if you enjoy your characters complex and working out why people think the way they do, you will find him incredibly fascinating.

 

On a smaller scale, this book is also about relationships, between parents and children, between husbands and wives, and between friends. It’s about what pulls people together and drives them apart. The book is written in third person viewpoint, but the chapters alternate focus between the characters, so each main character gets a chapter of their own. Franzen does an incredible job at putting together a story that includes the relatable, everyday relationship issues that we can all relate to, as well as tell a tale that’s big enough to cover themes about freedom, the right to information and….

 

Murder.

 

Yes, somebody gets killed but you’ll get no spoilers here!

 

All in all, this is an interesting book with a broad scope: personal drama, intrigue, politics, the information age, love, reunion, family and death all mix together to create a great story by Franzen.

 

Thank you for joining us on The Boss Book Club!

 

Please stop by tomorrow for a review of Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moby Dick

Hello Everyone!

Thanks for joining us today at The Boss Book Club!

The Boss Book Club has been in hiatus over the past few months, but a lot of reading has been done in that time. To celebrate the return, over the next five days will be five book reviews- to catch up on what we’ve missed!

Today, the classic American novel Moby Dick.

I’ve attempted to read Moby Dick approximately 4 times over the past five years, each time giving up after the first 50 pages, overwhelmed by the old-style language or the sheer size of the thing. This time I persisted and pushed on, and I’m very grateful I did.

If you’re yet to read the classic but have been tempted to, it’s certainly worth your time. Written by Herman Melville in 1851, the story gives you an immersive look at the life of a whaleman in the 1800s, where great ships would head out to find and slaughter the sperm whale in order to collect and harvest the oil- which was predominantly used to light lamps across the country.

The story is told in first person narrative by Ishmael, a somewhat experienced seaman (don’t you giggle) but a first time whaler. This book shows you the perils and dangers of whaling from his point of view, as well as captures the sense of excitement and comradery that goes along with voyages that could last years.

The other central character is that of Ahab, the ship’s captain, a psychologically tormented man, whose motives in the voyage are entirely centred around the capture of one particular whale- the legendary Moby Dick.

There are many reasons why this book has been given its rightful status as a classic. For me, it shows me everything there is to know about what the whaling life was like. Herman explains everything about the experience in amazing detail, from what the ships were like, to the customs and traditions shipmen had, to the type of equipment they used- even how they would rig and cut the whale. It shows me a life I would never have known about- being a landlubber myself. It does, however, go into lengthy details of what a whale looks like, which I’m sure in its time would have been wonderfully informative, but can be a little dry in the reading now.

The other thoroughly enjoyable element of this book is Ahab, the dark, brooding Captain, and the book explores many religious, philosophical and psychological themes regarding his and Ishmael’s journey as characters.

Many schools and Universities over the years have included this book on the read list as the book is rich in religious and social metaphors and analogies. It reflects the development of America and man’s relationship with himself and God. You can read as much or as little into this novel as you like and I’m sure repeat readings would offer something new each time.

On a final note, if like me you struggle somewhat to get through classic novels, I have a good tip. Each time you start a reading session, start with one chapter of a classic, followed by whatever other novel you like. I found this helped me focus on the chapter I was reading, and after you’re half way through you’ll find it much easier to plough through and finish it!

 

Happy Reading everyone, see you tomorrow for a review of Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

 

 

 

Hogfather

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be reviewing the last book of four in the Death collection of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series.

Hogfather is a delightful book that I recommend reading at Christmas time. The story centers around Hogswatch, the Discworld’s version of Christmas, where a jolly man in red visits the towns and delivers presents, sausages and assorted meats to the people, with his sleigh of wild, slobbering hogs. What happens though when the Hogfather goes mysteriously missing?

It is a fun adventure that brings together many of the characters from the three previous Death books. There is Death himself of course and his granddaughter Susan, who are both trying in their own way to restore order to the universe; there are our bumbling, wise but somewhat- lacking- common sense wizards, an assortment of new Gods that keep popping up out of nowhere, and a creepy introduction to some members of the assassin’s guild. Other mystical characters including the Tooth Fairy, Boogey-man and Jack Frost get featured as well.

As in his other books, Pratchett does an excellent job at parody and humour. In this book Christmas itself is pulled apart and rearranged in Pratchett’s imaginative image. Also, there is a hilarious interpretation of the computer that is created by the wizards.

The scope of this story is big, and there is a diverse array of subplots, characters and little stories that interweave beautifully to come together at the end. It is an epic tale that celebrates the joy of Christmas, in a weird but wonderful way.

 

This book would be wonderful to curl up with and read in the week leading up to Christmas.

 

Happy Reading and thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

 

 

The 65- Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Hello Everyone and Welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

I hope you’re having a wonderful day. We’ve got a total change of pace today in the form of an excellent children’s book by Australian author Andy Griffiths and his best friend, illustrator Terry Denton! If you’re looking for a gift for anyone in the 8-12 year age group, or are a big kid yourself, then this may be the book for you!

This book  features Andy and Terry themselves as the main characters of the storey (get it, haha! Sorry.)

In this book they add thirteen storeys to their ever-expanding treehouse, and this time they’ve added: a pet grooming salon, a room of exploding eyeballs, a lollipop shop, a time machine, a birthday room and an ant farm.

Did I mention a time machine? Well this time machine (which is unfortunately concealed in a wheelie bin) leads to a tale of time travelling adventure. Together with their new friend Safety Inspector Bubblewrap the trio go to the prehistoric era to find out how the dinosaurs became extinct, visit some cavemen, escape mummies in Egypt, and enter a chariot race in Ancient Rome. They also travel into the future and see what is in store for humanity (warning: it involves angry crabs!)

This adventure packed book contains an average of 2- 10 lines of writing per page. The rest of the page is filled with Terry Denton’s cartoon scribbles. They are drawn in what looks like simple black pen, cartoon squiggles fill and surround the pages in a similar style to which kids doodle on their notepads or sketchbooks. These cartoons add a great sense of fun to the story and you’ll spend time poring over the detail in each cartoon, and reading all the miniature speech bubbles!

The Andy Griffiths website cites the books as being ideal for reluctant readers and this is certainly so. If your child isn’t interested in reading traditionally, or has a short attention span, then the cartoons help to break up the challenge.

The 65 Storey Treehouse is the latest book in a series by the duo. Others include: The 13- Storey Treehouse, The 26- Storey Treehouse, The 39- Storey Treehouse and The 52- Storey Treehouse. They add 13- Storeys for every book! You certainly don’t have to have read the others to enjoy this one.

I thoroughly recommend this book as a gift to read with a child, or for them to enjoy on their own. Cartoons, time travel, and the occasional gross exploding eyeball. And dinosaurs! What more could you want?

 

Happy Reading Bosses, and thanks for joining us!

 

Know of any other great children’s books? Let us know in the comments below!

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

It’s time for a seatime adventure!

 

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Boss Book Club!

 

Today we will be reviewing the classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea!

 

Seeing as this is a classic, here is just a little bit of the history and background in order to appreciate this book properly! Firstly, it is written by Frenchman Jules Verne, who lived from 1828 to 1905, and whose other numerous novels most notably include Around the World in 80 days and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Twenty thousand leagues under the sea was originally published over a two year period as a serial, so readers originally received the tale in installments between 1869 and 1870, with an illustrated version released a year later.

That’s all the basics, so let’s get down to the story.

The story is told in first person perspective by a doctor, Mr M. Annorax after he, his servant Conseil and a friend (a harpooner named Ned) are taken hostage on board a mysterious submarine called The Nautilus. In charge of the vessel is Captain Nemo, a mysterious character with an unknown motive and past.

This book is labelled one of the great adventure novels of all time, and with good reason. If you are a lover of the sea or of exploration then you will be delighted with this book. The book reads as one long, extroadinary adventure of the sights, sounds and occurings of underwater exploration that spans “twenty thousand leagues” or over six months underneath the ocean. Jules Verne uses the character of Annorax, who is a specialist in marine biology, to great effect to provide detailed explanations of the flora and fauna of the underwater world.

These detailed explanations of the various species of fish, crustaceans, seaweed and coral would have certainly captured the imaginations of readers at the time, however I found these detailed listings both a blessing and a curse as I read. At times they would stretch to almost a page long, and if I recognized what he was describing, they helped paint a beautiful scene of what the crew were observing. However, a lot of the time, the names of the various fish were unrecognizable, and unless you went through the effort of looking up every single one, it made for tiresome reading, slowed down the pace of the story, and left me wanting to skim over some of these sections.

This book is classified as a science fiction novel, which surprised me initially, until I found out that Verne’s explanations of the mechanical workings of the The Nautilus were way ahead of their time, and that submarines were only primitive when he wrote this novel. Verne goes into great detail as to how The Nautilus operates, which may be of interest to those who have an eye for technical details in their stories. However, if you have no interest in the mechanics behind submarine operation, these parts may drag for you as well.

Ultimately though, this book provides a unique and special experience for the reader as it is the ultimate underwater adventure story. In today’s world we can fly to any country, board any train, plain, tram, cart or donkey to do it. We can explore mountains, and desserts, and now they’re even talking about commercial trips to the moon in our near future! However, most of us cannot say we’ve ever been in a submarine, or have experienced what it’s like to explore the whole world, landscapes and life that’s at the bottom of the ocean. You will be hard pressed to find a novel that gives you that experience, and that’s why this book remains one of the best of all time.

Another reason this book is great is because it contains one of the most interesting classic literary characters: Captain Nemo. The tension and relationship between Nemo and Annorax runs as almost a second plotline, second only to the exploration of the sea. Is Nemo friend or foe? Villainous loner or solitary genius? Finding out the secret of Nemo will keep you interested from beginning to end.

I will be honest and say it was a bit of a hard slog to read at times, mainly because of the density of the language and the lengthy descriptions, however once I had completed it I was very glad that I had. This book remains the classic underwater adventure, and opens you to a whole world that many of us would not otherwise experience. Jules Verne is the ultimate storyteller of life under the sea.

 

Thank you for reading, see you next time on The Boss Book Club!

 

Did you enjoy 20000 Leagues Under the Sea? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!