Book Review, Books

Big Little Lies – Book Review

I became a fan of Liane Moriarty when I read My Husband’s Secret (read my review here). She has a gift of writing complex stories with multitude of characters and effortlessly merging all small stories in the end that makes you wonder how could you not see it coming. Her books overwhelm me in the beginning – there are too many characters, too many details about them and a lot going on. I found myself struggle with it in The Husbands Secret but later realized its okay, it’ll all fall in place as I read further. Big Little Lies overwhelmed me all the same, especially with the story going in flashback and people’s comments going in the present after the ‘incident’. It took me a while to even know what the ‘incident’ was.

With her impeccable way of story telling and her complex but well carved characters Liane Moriarty has created a fantastic suspense thriller. She keeps you guessing right from the beginning – what’s the incident everyone is referring to, who was it, was it just one or were there more, who did it and how. Within a few pages she takes the reader from the innocent, almost boring musings of Mrs Ponder to a roller coaster ride through the lives of parents of Pirriwee Public School. Within a few chapters the unsuspecting group of parents become individuals with compelling personalities. And the best part is that each passing chapter unfolds a new motive making you uncertain of who could be the victim(s).

Like her previous books, Big Little Lies is a women dominated plot. It’s the story of women who are competitive, women who are insecure about losing their teenage daughter to the ex-husband, single mothers who are struggling to find a footing in a new place, women who want to protect their children, women who are dealing with an emotional trauma, women who are going through domestic abuse but justify it one or the other, women who bitch about one another and women who support each other, women who are willing to sell their virginity for women they would never meet, women who are willing to lie under oath for women they hate, women who are willing to kill for women they are not even friends with!! Oh calamity!!! 

The book moves at a slick pace and there is a big build up to the grand finale – the school trivia night. The book consumed me with its intricate plot and crazy anticipation of what happened at the fateful night. I couldn’t put it down, even when I did the book stayed on my mind. I found myself holding my breath at some places. When I finished reading Big little Lies it felt as if I just got off an emotional roller coaster. 

Liane Moriarty has again touched upon 2 very sensitive topics in the book – bullying and domestic abuse. (She did it earlier with infertility in What Alice Forgot). It’s commendable how she could weave such serious  subjects in the story and yet keep it fun.

Like I mentioned in my earlier review, Liane Moriarty has original stories but her characters resemble each other more than they should. This was the reason I gave a long gap between What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies. I still feel the overlap between her characters in the two books but having read the previous book some time ago I don’t remember the details too well to really draw parallels. 

The book scores full marks on entertainment. It’s an intense enthralling read and I enjoyed every minute reading it. One of the best murder mysteries I have read lately! 

Bedtime, Parenting

15 ways to ask your kids about school 

Starting school is a big milestone for a child as well as the parents. It’s the beginning of your child having a life independent of home and family. Most parents look forward to this big step and almost all parents are anxious to know what their little ones do at school. Parents religiously ask the child what he learnt at school only to receive vague replies, if anything at all. 

What I have learnt over the last couple of years since darling daughter started school is that children get bored answering the same “What did you do at school today?” everyday. If we want detailed answers from them we need to get creative with our questions.

Here are some tips and questions to get your child talking about school and more:

  1. Make it a point to know the names of other kids, all teachers and nannies in your child’s class/school van. With random names ask questions like Did your friend XYZ come to school today? What color was Miss ABC wearing today? 
  2. Did you have fun at school today? When the child answers usually it’ll be accompanied by what made the day fun and vice versa. If not, you can ask what made the day fun.
  3. Did you play any new games at school?
  4. Kids are usually very excited about birthdays. You can ask if any of their friends are having birthdays in the next few days. 
  5. Who did you sit with today? Did you enjoy sitting with this friend?
  6. Did you learn anything new from a friend today?
  7. Did you learn anything new at school today?
  8. Did you learn a new word today?
  9. Did anyone get a timeout at school today? Why did they get timeout?
  10. What was the best part of your day at school today?
  11. Did anything make you sad at school today?
  12. Did you help someone at school today?
  13. Did someone at school helped you today?
  14. What did you play most with today?
  15. What was the best thing your teacher did today?

These work well if asked at bedtime as well since many kids are usually chatty just before they sleep. Don’t go about asking all the above questions in one day, pick a few randomly and play it by the ear. 

Do leave us a note on the tactics you use to get your kids talking. 

-A

Kitchen and food, Recipes

Grilled Paneer

Who doesn’t love Paneer! The creamy crumbly texture of cottage cheese goes well with a variety of flavors and is a treat for the taste buds. Here is a very delicious recipe which is surprisingly easy yet high on taste.

Ingredients :

250 gms Paneer (Cottage cheese)

2 tbsp chopped green cilantro

2 tablespoon Srirancha sauce (a kind of Chinese hot sauce. If you don’t have it use a mixture of chilly flakes and vinegar)

1 tablespoon white Vinegar

1 tablespoon Soy sauce 

2 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion (or regular onion if spring onion is not available)

Salt to taste 

Few drops of oil to brush the pan with 

Method:

1. Cut cottage cheese in medium sized pieces of about 1/2 inch thickness 

2. Add all other ingredients and mix well 

3. Marinate the Paneer pieces in the marinating mixture for about 15 minutes 

4. Heat a shallow pan (I used indian cast iron tawa) and brush it with a little oil

5. Once the pan is hot put the Paneer pieces on it and cook until it’s nicely cooked and crispy from one side

6. Flip the pieces and cook the other side too. On a hot pan it’ll take about 8-10 minutes to cook both sides. 

Your yummy starter/side dish is ready. Serve it with green cilantro dip (Green Chutney) and onion rings. 

Enjoy!!

-A