Maria Writes Stuff

Womanhood. Motherhood. Autism Awareness. Book Reviews

Book Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Contemparary

Publisher: Reprint; Penguin Publishing Group

Publication date: August 11, 2015

Page #: 512

Star rating: 5 out of 5

Back Cover Copy:

From the author of Nine Perfect StrangersTruly Madly Guilty, and The Husband’s Secret comes the #1 New York Times bestselling novel about the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.”

My Review:

I was interested in reading this book after watching HBO Series. The show had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next, and I wondered if the book would as well. The book did not disappoint at all! Big Little Lies is a well written story about three mothers whose lives intersect through their friendships, school drop off, and each character’s share of their own personal drama with their pasts, children, and love interests/spouses. I really enjoyed the character development, and the really well developed backstories of each character. Each chapter leaves you wanting to know more about each character and how their lives intertwine (in some surprising ways!) with each other.  Big Little Lies is a gripping story filled with suspense, lies, and even murder!

Links to Purchase: Amazon Barnes&Noble Book Depository

Ben Has Things to Say…

Book Review: Living Lies by Natalie Walters

Title: Living Lies

Author: Natalie Walters

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

Publisher: Revell Publishing

Publication date: May 21, 2019

Page #: 336

Star rating: 3 out of 5.

Back Cover Copy:

“At least that’s what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton’s newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she’ll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.”

My Review:

I read through the first 5 chapters of the book, and the story just didn’t hold my interest. I did not find that Lane and Charlie were really relatable characters (to me personally). I think the story was well written, but the characters lacked in their backstory to make them relatable. I didn’t have the urge to know more about them, who they were, how they got to where they are in the story line. I don’t think this was a bad book, just not a book for me.

I received this book from Revell Books for their online book tour. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Links to Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Review: The Refuge by Ann Gabhart

Title: The Refuge

Author: Ann H. Gabhart

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Publisher: Revell Publishing

Publication date: April 30, 2019

Page #: 400

Star rating: 4 out of 5.

Back Cover Copy:

“When Darcie and Walter Goodwin hear of a new cholera epidemic sweeping the area, they join the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be a temporary stay, but Walter is killed in a riverboat accident. With no family and no money, Darcie has little choice but to stay with the Shakers. To complicate matters, she is expecting a baby conceived before she and her husband came to the Shaker village. Marital relationships are considered sinful in this celibate community, putting Darcie in a unique–and lonely–position. Can the arrival of widower Flynn Keller and his headstrong daughter offer Darcie the hope of happiness . . . and family?

Ann H. Gabhart returns to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in this emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family”

My Review:

In The Refuge you are introduced to two characters, Darcie and Flynn. Darcie came to the Shaker Village with her husband Walter to find a safe haven from the Cholera epidemic. When Darcie finds herself pregnant and alone, she’s faced with an uncertain future.

Widower Flynn longs for stability for he and his daughter. Is it possible that these two could find love in a celebite community? I really enjoyed the book, and thought that Ms. Gabhart did a wonderful job in giving the reader a small history lesson about the beliefs of the Shakers and how their community works. The story is intertwined with the history of the Shakers, so you learn something as you find out more about the characters pitfalls and triumphs. I recommend the book, and really enjoyed all the little unexpected surprises in the story.

I received this book from Revell Books for their online book tour. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Links to Purchase: Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Book Review: Beauty and the Beast

Title: Beauty and the Beast

Author: Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve

Genre: Fairytale

Publisher: Harper Design

Publication date: Illistrated Edition, January 2017

Page #: Hardcover, 208 Pages

Link to Purchase:  Amazon Barnes and Noble

I have been a fan of the animated (and now live action) film, so I wanted to read the book too. I can honestly say that this story did not disappoint! The story is beautifully told, and is a great read for anyone who’s a fan of the films. There are similarities to the films, but with some added surprises. The author writes a page turning fairytale with fun details that give enertaining mental immagery. to a version of a tale loved and known the world over. The book design is beautiful and the interactive elements are really charming and fun. If you’re a fan of fairytales…I highly recommend this book!

Star rating: 4 out of 5.

A Stack of Books

These are the books I recieved as Christmas gifts or had bought (I only bought two) just before Christmas. I will list titles and Amazon links below. I’m not sure which one to read next, as I’ve already finished (and loved) Beauty and the Beast. Any recommendations?

From top to Bottom:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass

– By Lewis Caroll

The Haunting of Hill House

-By Shirley Jackson

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 

-By Anne Bronte

Leonardo da Vinci

-By Anne Abraham

The Wizard of Oz

-By Frank Baum


-By Gregory Maguire

Beauty and the Beast

-By Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve

First Day of Homeschool 2018!!

Our first day of homeschooling!

September 4,  2018!

Jack at the library building towers.

Jack’s book picks.

Jack and Marji on the first day of homeschooling!

Addy all worn out on the first day of school.

Putting on a puppet show at the library.

Photos from our first snow! Dec 11, 2017

Updates and a new Amazon Storefront!

The last few months have been just full of busyness!


Jack is improving on his reading comprehension and seems to enjoy reading more. He’s a whiz at math and has made a B or better on all of his math papers.

Ben continues to do wonderfully with ABA Therapy. He’s mastering goals and continues to echo words. His therapists tell us that he enjoys puzzles, and really likes Bristle Blocks.

Marjorri continues to love Kindergarten. She likes going to the library and doing centers in her classroom. She still loves Gymnastics and has gone up in her classes.

Adeline will be three next week! I can’t believe time has gone by so quickly. It seems like just a short time ago that she was an infant in need of swaddling. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss that stage. She was such a cuddly baby.  She’s becoming more independent and enjoys playing with our new puppy Harvey! I’m hoping she’ll be able to start preschool soon.

I created an Amazon Storefront with products that my family (Dogs included) enjoy! I thought it might make shopping a bit easier for some, especially if you have a special needs child that’s hard to buy for! I’ll be adding more items after the holidays too!

Check it out!!!

Maria Writes Stuff Product Recommendations



ABA therapy helped Ben find his voice.

Ben started going to ABA Therapy in early May of this year. I never expected so much progress in such a short amount of time. Ben has started to say words and use partial word sounds to indicate words.

I walked into therapy a little early a few weeks ago to use the restroom. As I came out of the restroom, I saw Ben and this therapist in the waiting area of the lobby. Ben said, “Hi, mama!” My 7 year old son said hi to ME, after about a year of not hearing him talk at all. I cried half of the way home. I STILL can’t believe he’s saying, “Mama!” I ask him to  say, “Mama!” all the time. One of these days I’m betting he’ll roll his eyes, say it and smile at me. But for now, every word he says will bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

I can’t tell you what a challenge it is to raise a child who’s nonverbal. Imagine deciding it’s time for your toddler to be potty trained, but their voice is on mute…So, you don’t get to know when they need to go, when they don’t, if they’re frustrated, happy or bored with the idea of potty training. Potty training was HARD, but we got through it and Ben has no issues now. I think the same thing will be the case for his verbal skills, it’ll eventually be second nature to us all.

ABA Therapy is an incredible asset to our family, it’s changed our lives. It’s changed Ben’s life too, and I think he’s a happier kid because of it. I am proud to say that he’s now going to therapy 30 hours a week, instead of the 15 like before. We have talked to his therapist and changed some goals, and added new ones. He’s taking everything with a really great attitude, and keeps making progress.

July 25,207 – A note came home that said, “Ben repeated me today. He said, “What do you want to do.” That’s SIX words, people! Six in a row…a complete sentence.

July 26, 2017 – Ben’s therapist’s note said: “Ben echoed “Daddy!” – It was also my husband’s 30th birthday. <3

A few other things…

He’s naming objects, like “bed, and “chair”. He’s also asking for breaks from work, which is really improving his mood.


ABA Therapy has helped Ben find his voice, and left me in tears. Happy tears. My son is FINALLY talking!

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