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: 84, Charing Cross Road

TITLE: 84, Charing Cross Road
AUTHOR/EDITOR: Helene Hanff
FORMAT: Paperback
COPYRIGHT: 1970
THIS EDITION: 1990

Another find on the library date, 84, Charing Cross Road, is nothing but a series of letters that follow an aloof writer/reader and a bookstore from 1949 to 1969.

Basically, these start with her writing from NYC to London, a request with a little bookstore to find a book she’s craving because she saw their ad in a magazine and their “antiquarian” expertise is something she equates with money.

What follows is quite charming – a $5/book cap on prices, which inflates to about $50 today, that seems quaint even though it wasn’t, a friendship that includes powdered and fresh eggs and nylons when they couldn’t get them because of post-war rationing, and a friendship that continued in letters for decades, ending only in her main friend/contact’s death.

I love that the letters were all kept to the point that this book could happen.  We don’t have this kind of society anymore.  We don’t have quaint bookshops that will operate under the honor system and mail a book across the ocean and send a bill.  We have e-Commerce sites and anonymous people and warehouses and not shoppes.  Credit cards and anonymity.

This book made my heart sing and it made me happy for a time that I wish I could have been a part of.

Life today is easier, but it isn’t better.

I’m giving this a 5 out of 5.  Beautiful in its simplicity.  (Also, they’ve made it into a movie, if you’re so inclined.)

Book Review – 1602 by Neil Gaiman

Title: Marvel 1602

Author:  Neil Gaiman

Artwork: Andy Kubert & Reinhard Schweizer

Format: Graphic novel/comic collection

Published:  2004

1602 is a collection of 8 parts that operate under a very interesting premise – what if all the Marvel characters start their stories 500 years too soon? – written by the incredible Neil Himself Gaiman.   The story starts with a girl on a boat – 14-year-old Virginia Dare and her protective Indian guide on her way back to England to ask Queen Elisabeth for more money for the Roanoke colony.  At the same time, King James and the Inquisition are both trying to get all the freaks killed.

After that, there is *a lot* that goes on, and honestly, I think that it loses a little something if you’re not really into the comics.  For instance, Hawkeye makes an appearance as an apprentice… named Peter.  And if you weren’t really into Hawkeye or you missed the one offhanded comment that made you go… Oh, wait a minute!… you’d probably miss it.

So, truth be told, I missed most of them.  I mean, Thor was pretty easy, since he came down as, um, Thor.  But was that other one Arachne, Spider Woman or Black Widow?  And if it was Black Widow, who was the other one that I *thought* was Black Widow?  I’m pretty sure those are the X-Men, but I couldn’t name all of them, and even my Ultimate Marvel Character Guide isn’t helping with some of these.  Others aren’t so hard to come up with – Doom, Strange and Banner are called Doom, Strange and Banner, for instance.

Since this is a graphic novel/set of comics, let’s talk about the artwork for a minute.  The artists used a combination of techniques that made the art title pages (there are eight, one for each of the original parts) look like old wood carvings, and really gave the collection a feel of old 17th century artwork.  But some of the illustrations came out a bit odd.  For instance, Queen Elisabeth looks a bit like a groupie for Insane Clown Possee in a couple of them.  And because of the techniques, we lose a lot of the details that we expect in a graphic setting.  Not going to lie, it’s the only reason I read these – for the artwork that accompanies.

So although I give the story a four, I have to give the overall a three out of five.   If you’re into Marvel, don’t miss it, but otherwise, you’ll miss a lot.

 

 

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