Book Review: The Au Pair

Title: The Au Pair

Author: Emma Rous

Format: Netgalley Advance Readers’ Copy Ebook

Published: 2019

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read The Au Pair before its release on January 8, 2019 in exchange for an honest, impartial review.

Wow.  What a crazy, wild ride I just went on.  There was so much going on in the last part of the book I am still in shock.  Currently I am suffering from a book hangover, I’m sad this book is over and I just cannot pick myself up and move on just yet.

The premise of the story is about a wealthy family who lives in their grandmother’s home; The Summerbourne House.  This family is about to uncover a web of secrets that they aren’t sure they can handle.  When the “Summerborn Summerbourne” twins were born, there was a lot of mystery surrounding it.  To top it all off the mother killed herself on the day her twins were born.  Only picture from the day of their birth can be found and the mother is only holding one child; which one and why was only one in the photo?

Before any questions can be answered, the family is faced with another tragedy as their father suddenly and unexpectedly passes (albeit 25 years later).  Seraphine, one of the twins, takes it upon herself to find answers about the day of her birth by seeking out the only person who could have them, the au pair who was there that day taking care of her older brother.

I did not see how this story was being played out.  We have an older brother and a set of twins and the author does a fantastic job at weaving the stories of the children in and out.  One cannot possibly guess what is going to happen with them until the very end of the book.  I could hardly put this book down.  So.  Much.  Happens.  At.  The.  End.

I usually am a fast reader but at the end of this book I had to slow down to keep up with what was happening.  It all comes to the surface at once.  You have to brace yourself, take deep breaths, and prepare yourself for what Seraphine will finally uncover.  Have no fear when it comes to the end, The Au Pair treats us with a fitting ending and an even more appropriate epilogue.  YES!

This is a must read, 5 star book.  It flips from the au pair telling her story in 1992 to Seraphine telling her story in the present day.  The puzzle starts to be put together, but, there are still key pieces missing until the very end which always makes for a great psychological read.  This definitely keeps you guessing and your brain will explode when the truth comes to light at the end of the book.  Wow.  I am just elated that we found out what really happened on the day the twins were born and what came of the truth being set free 25 years later.  Don’t miss out on this read!  Tune in next week when I review an advance copy of The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America by Tommy Tomlinson!

 

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Book Review: The Productivity Project

Title: The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy

Author: Chris Bailey

Format: Hardcover

Published: 2017

It’s almost time for New Year’s resolutions. I make the same resolution every year: to not make any resolutions. Am I successful or not? Someone ask Schrödinger, because I have no idea. Normal people, however, make New Year’s resolutions, so let’s talk about a book that will help you make some good ones and maybe even stick to them: Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project. Bailey did something I find fascinating: he took an entire year off after college to study and write about productivity. He tried all sorts of productivity hacks and life changes, from meditating 8 hours a day to getting up at 5:30 AM for several months. In The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy, he shares the methods that worked along with a few of his misadventures along the way.

I’m a bit of a productivity nerd, and I’ve read quite a few books on time management, personal development, and other techniques to squeeze more meaningful activity out of a 24-hour day–and The Productivity Project is the best book I’ve read on the topic in years and the second-best one ever (after David Allen’s classic Getting Things Done). The Productivity Project is chock-full of great ideas on a variety of topics: setting priorities (this one alone may revolutionize how you plan your days), reclaiming your attention, delegating tasks, meditating to increase focus, changing how you consume food and caffeine to ensure you have energy when you need it most, how to schedule different kinds of tasks based on your level of energy and focus, and much more. Even better: Bailey writes with lots of humor and no judgment. This is a book you’ll read for fun. Yes, really.

As someone who works full-time at a demanding job while caring for a family and writing a novel, I need every productivity hack I can find. Based on the last three months of trying some of Bailey’s recommendations, I can tell you that they work. You’ll still only have 24 hours in your day, but The Productivity Project can help you find ways to make the most of them while staying healthy and sane. That sounds like a good foundation for a happier and more productive new year. 5 stars.

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl

Title: An Anonymous Girl

Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Format: Netgalley Advance Copy Ebook

Published: 2019

 

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this advance copy in exchange for my honest review!  This book officially comes out on January 8, 2019, pre-order it today!

As soon as I heard Hendricks and Pekkanen were penning another novel I could not wait to get my hands on it.  The Wife Between Us blew me away (by the way, go get that book NOW if you haven’t read it) and I could not wait to see what else could come out of their 2 minds.  I was not let down.

The story is about a young woman who ends up in a research study to make some extra money.  The research is all about morals and ethics and is put together by a professor at a local, well known university, who should probably have her own morals and ethics checked out.

This psychological thriller is told by Jessica, the young woman, and Dr. Shields, the professor.  They alternate chapters so it gives us a unique perspective and keeps up guessing throughout the novel.  Just when you think this is going to be a predictable read, it’s not.  There are not many twists and turns but enough to keep you interested.  As we get further in to the book the characters grow and show us sides to them you just cannot predict to see.  The book really picks up in the second half after the stage has been fully set.

I will say I was a little let down with the ending.  I expected it to end with some big bang and it just fell flat for me.  It felt rushed at the end and it just, ended.  I did not get the closure I would have liked; however, it does let you know what happens with the relationship Jessica and Dr. Shields have.  I would have like just a little bit more at the end to satisfy myself.

I am giving this book 4 stars.  It keeps you going and guessing.  I did think I had the book figured out before I got to the halfway point.  That’s where the book really picks up and has left you with enough little pieces you have to read to see how they all fit together.  I will say, Greer and Pekkanen sure do have some twisted minds!  I hope they collaborate yet again, these ladies know how to throw you for a loop!  Tune in next week for my review of my advance copy of The Au Pair by Emma Rous!

 

 

 

Book Review: The Christmas Wish

Title: The Christmas Wish

Author: Tilly Tennant

Format: Kindle

Published: 2018

 

DROP EVERYTHING!  STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING!  Go and read this book now!  *Disclaimer: not for people who hate heartwarming, funny, feel good holiday romance novels.  This has become my FAVORITE holiday read ever; to the point where I may even re-read this!  (I know that’s a shock, I NEVER re-read my books!)

The story starts out with Esme who decides to break it off for good with her boyfriend and goes to her grandmother’s house for some solace.  She has neglected her friends and family while she was dating her tool of a boyfriend and has an estranged relationship with her parents.  Her grandmother is the only person she knows that will take her in with no questions asked.

They bond and her grandmother is hell bent on her repairing her relationship with her parents.  Shortly before Christmas, she passes away.  Esme discovers her grandmother bought a paid for a trip to Lapland, a place in Iceland she has always wanted to go but her husband would never take her.  As Esme goes through her grandmother’s belongings she discovers tickets to Lapland that her grandfather had bought but passed away before he could take his wife.  Esme is torn at what to do with the trip and, as any down and out woman does, goes back to her tool of a boyfriend.

She tries to convince her boyfriend to go on the trip with her but all he wants her to do is to get the money back for it and spend it on something else.  Esme decides to be bold, sneaks out of the house while her boyfriend is at work, and does what her grandmother would have wanted her to do; she goes on the trip by herself.

She meets up with 3 other solo travelers; Zach, Hortense, and Brian.  Hortense and Brian end up hooking up and that leaves Zach and Esme, as friends.  Esme starts to grow fond of Zach but he is keeping his guard up high and she cannot figure out why.  Don’t even get me started on his mood swings, they’re intense.  As she takes this trip, she starts to realize there is more to life than she will ever see with her boyfriend and she needs to start living her life.

I cannot say anything else without giving key parts of the book away so, go read it!  The detail in this book around Lapland just painted a vivid picture in my mind.  I know how a very high desire to visit Lapland in person and one day visit these places Tennant describes in this book.  The attention to detail is unreal and really makes this book stand out.  I truly felt like I was everywhere described in this book.

This is a 5-star book.  Yes, 5 stars!  I wanted to be in Lapland.  I was rooting so hard for all of the characters in this book.  They all faced some difficult things in their lives and all were able to see past those times.  This made my heart smile, and my face, and even made me tear up a little and laugh out loud.  The penmanship Tennant has is just stellar and remarkable.  This truly goes beyond your typical holiday novel and is a genuine, solid read.  Does it involve romance?  Yes, but, this book offers so much more than that!  Tune in next week for advance copy review of An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

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Book Review: Restoring Christmas

Title: Restoring Christmas

Author: Kate Kasch

Format: Kindle through Voracious Readers Only

Published: 2018

 

Thank you to Voracious Readers Only for letting me get my hands on this lovely holiday read!  I enjoyed every single minute of this book and I’m looking at you Hallmark to turn this in to a movie next year!  Fair warning right now, if you don’t like the typical Hallmark Christmas movies then pass over this review because you won’t like this book.  If you’re a sucker for a predictable holiday romance, this book is for you.

The story starts out innocent enough, we meet two sisters, Gretchen, an aspiring photographer who works at a bar, and Adrienne, a workaholic at Morgan Lynch.  They both have not spoken to each other and years and when they both receive a red letter at their door steps, they realize they have to.

Their parents died 4 years ago, right before Christmas, in a car accident.  The tragedy did not sit well with the girls and Adrienne took off, leaving her world behind as she knew it.  She moved to New York City and began a new life.  Gretchen also moved to New York City, trying to make a life for herself, always hoping to make it big.  They both never let the house go and as it turns out, never paid taxes on the house in a year and it was going to be sold unless they came up with $25,000 by the end of the year.

They go back to their hometown in Connecticut and see the disarray the house has become.  They get the idea to decorate their home back up for the holidays and try to win the grand prize of $25,000 and keep the house.  Being back in their hometown, Adrienne re-encounters her ex-boyfriend, whom she just up and left without saying goodbye to 4 years ago.  He ends up coming to her rescue with a friend to help them get the house back into tip top shape.

The girls start to get help from the community and realize what an impact their parents had.  They feel guilty for ever parting ways and start to mend their relationship.  We also get to see a relationship bloom with Gretchen and Adrienne’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend.  Will sparks fly between Adrienne and her ex?  Mind you, she has a current boyfriend.

Without ruining too much (and again, this book IS predictable) I was a little disappointed in the end.  I was rooting for Adrienne and I did not feel I got enough out of it for her.  Gretchen hit the jackpot, which, good for her, she’s struggled for a few years, but, ugh, I was just hoping for more for Adrienne!

This is a 4-star book from me, provided again, you love the super cheesy holiday books.  It is a heartwarming story to see 2 estranged sisters come back together for a good ause.  Their parents would be so proud.  If you’re looking for a feel good story with a touch of romance, this book is for you, read it now!  Tune in next week for yet another holiday book review of The Christmas Wish by Tilly Tennant.

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Book Review: Christmas Glitter

Title: Christmas Glitter

Author: Ann B. Harrison

Format: Kindle

Published: 2017

 

In July, my mother got me addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies.  I decided this holiday season I would read some cheesy, Hallmarky novels and enjoy myself.  What I learned is that it is impossible for me to read a holiday romance novel in more than 1 sitting, it just doesn’t work.  I end up staying up until the book is finished, which is ok with me!

Let’s get one thing straight, yes, this book is absolutely predictable, just like every single Christmas Hallmark movie ever made.  The story is just plain adorable and had me sucked in.  This is also part of a series so guess what I’ll be reading in my near future!

This is the story about the super hunky soccer player, Adam, who moves back to his hometown to help his parents while his father recovers a heart attack and a woman, Dakota, who owns a fancy upscale, unique jewelry business.  Dakota recently suffered an injury in a car accident and can no longer craft how she used to and came to this small town to try and reinvent herself, while swearing off men.

Adam and Dakota meet when she goes to pick up the keys to her rental home.  Adam is stepping in for his father with his real estate business and instantly there is a connection.  They continue to bond over trying to save a dance hall in the town and Dakota steps up and leads fundraising efforts.

Dakota and Adam are doing everything they can to remain friends.  Dakota has to remind herself that he’s going to be leaving soon and going back to the world of soccer, so she is trying not to get too attached.  Everyone around them can see they are perfect together, so why do they keep denying it?

There are some grammatical errors in this book that make you stop and re-read what you just read to try and make sense of it.  Aside from that, this book is for you if you love and adore Christmas Hallmark movies.  In fact, Hallmark, this book needs to be made into a movie STAT!

This is a 4-star book from me, provided you love the super cheesy holiday romance.  If you are not into that at all, just skip over this book or pass it along to your Hallmark loving friend!  It is such a cute, sweet story and now I need to read the other books in this series to see what happens with the others in the story!  Tune in next week for yet another holiday book review of Restoring Christmas by Kate Kasch.

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Book Review – The Christmas Cat

Book Title: THE CHRISTMAS CAT
Author: MELODY CARLSON
Format: HARDCOVER
Published: 2014

Note: This is a mainstream/chick lit/Christmas/novella/thing so there’s a good chance I can’t review this well without spoilers of some sort.

 

The Christmas Cat is a story about a guy, Garrison Brown, who has found himself back in the states without a job after his missionary stint ended.  It’s almost Christmas, and he gets a phone call – about the only thing that can make his life worse.  His beloved grandmother has died, and he’s the only one left to go through her estate.  He heads to Vancouver where he finds out that she’s leaving multiple cats, which he’s allergic to, and has to rehome under really specific circumstances: somebody who *owns* a home in the neighborhood and has been there several years, several checkup visits required, etc.

One of the first people he meets, he takes a fancy to, except she doesn’t meet Granny’s criteria for a cat, and he ends up upsetting her because of it.  She acts like a total bitch when he tells her she can’t have one.  A lot of the book deals with that repeatedly.

He also reconnects with the neighbor, his grandmother’s best friend, and ends up putting her grandson to work on the house while he gets it ready to sell and he makes friends with a lot of the neighbors, because you know, he’s homing half a dozen cats.

This book was a ridiculously fast read.  I started it on the plane from Nashville to Cleveland, which is an hour flight, and was almost done with it when I landed.  The book is entirely predictable and in some ways clichee or trite.  And repetitive.  Like we know right away that he got a disease from a third world country and he talks about it a lot.  “If I hadn’t gotten sick…”  “They won’t let me back because I got sick…”  “…forgot my pills and got sick…” etc.

Also, of course it’s a cat book, and he’s allergic to cats.  And he loves her, but, oh, no, he can’t.  Etc.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing per sey.  I mean, I don’t ever go “OOOOH, Christmas Novella!!!”  and expect that I won’t have the book figured out before the end of the first page.  So if you just want a gushy feel good story that makes you warm like a cup of hot cocoa [Note: I apologise for writing that.  I even gagged when I did…], then this is totally your story.

The stuff that did make me mad, though…  She wanted a cat and he had a will that said he couldn’t let her have one.  So she treated him like crap for a while.  Like who does that?  Also, one of the cats sort of gets passively abused, which REALLY FUCKING PISSED ME OFF.  Like this is supposed to be a feel good story about a guy and his gramma’s cats, and I have to deal with the fact that you’re abusing a fucking cat in the middle of it.  (The people took the cat because there was a rumor of money and then they let it walk outside and disappear.)

But, even with its predictability, I was okay with it, again because I expected such a thing going in.  And I was willing to give it a good rating until the end.  The book just kinda stopped.  Like, sure we can totally assume the outcome of the group home he kept talking about all book, but would it have killed the author to finish the gift wrapping that she’d started for most of the last chapter?  It’s a Christmas book, I wanted it neat with a bow.  I mean, give us a cheesy Christmas newsletter as an epilogue or something.  ANYTHING.

So…  I mean, it’s predictable but since you expect that, it’s okay.  I’m totally taking off a point for the ending though.  3/5

 

So three out of five stars for this one.

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