THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#4): The Perfect Nanny / Into the Water


The Perfect NannyThe Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Ugh, from the very beginning, this book was chilling. Unsettling. It’s not a typical thriller, more character-driven, maybe a character study of sorts. None of the characters were likable, but they were fascinating.

A young Parisian couple, Myriam and Paul, hire Louise as a nanny for their two small children. With a good reference from her previous employer, and being somewhat desperate to find childcare, they quickly welcome Louise into their lives. Oh, dear. Louise seems perfect on the outside, but she has hidden issues, which are slowly reveled as the story progresses.

While reading this book, I felt like I was watching the characters from a distance rather than being a part of the story. I wonder if it’s because this is the English translation from French, or was that the intent. The writing was good…just had a distant feel. The ending, well, I wanted more. Too many questions unanswered.


Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I lost patience with INTO THE WATER early on. By page 32, I counted seven different POVs. Confusing! A few more POVs were added after that. Basically the story was about a place called “The Drowning Pool” where several women died, beginning in the 1600s. The latest death is a woman who was writing a book about this seemingly cursed place. Sounded promising, but turned out to be dull. Needed more suspense. I was looking forward to this book, but in the end it was just meh.


“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.” – Angela Carter

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#3): And Then There Were None / Empty Mansions (Audiobook) / Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops


And Then There Were NoneAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two things I can’t believe: (1) That it’s taken me sooo long to read this book (being that I’m a big mystery fan), and (2) that I’ve been able to avoid spoilers given how popular this book is (and has been for the past 75+ years)! It’s an amazing, complicated, intricate, puzzling mystery, and I enjoyed it very much.


Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American FortuneEmpty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

EMPTY MANSIONS is my first audiobook of 2018. (The plan is to dedicate most of my audiobook listening to nonfiction this year. We’ll see how it goes!) Abandoned places are fascinating to me. While the mansions in this book weren’t abandoned entirely (there were caretakers on-site), the eccentric owner – Huguette Clark – hadn’t lived in them or seen them in decades. In fact, she spent her last 20 years living unnecessarily in hospital rooms, until her death in 2011 at age 104.

The first part of the book was all about Huguette’s father, W. A. Clark, who amassed a great fortune in copper mines and railroads during the late 1800s. Mr. Clark had quite an exciting life, going from a humble Pennsylvania farm boy to an extremely wealthy industrialist with a passion for art and the finest things money could buy. When he died in 1925, his fortune was split equally between Huguette and her four older half-siblings.

The rest of the book focused on Huguette and the ways she spent her inheritance. She was an unusual person, private to a fault, and very generous to people and causes close to her heart. She seemed happiest when she was hidden away from the world, among her art and her dollhouses.

As she got older, I think there were some who took advantage of her generosity. She gave away millions and millions, but was she manipulated by those few who were close to her? Conflicting wills written close together bring her mental state into question.

EMPTY MANSIONS is a well-researched blend of American History, biography, and family drama. The audiobook was performed by Kimberly Farr, and she did a fantastic job keeping me engaged in Huguette’s story. It also contained snippets of phone conversations between Huguette and her cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the co-authors of this book.

Overall, I enjoyed EMPTY MANSIONS, though given how insanely private Huguette Clark was during her life, I think she would cringe knowing this book is out there.


Weird Things Customers Say in BookshopsWeird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Customer: If I came to work here, would I get a discount at the liquor store next door?” (Ah, sure.)
• • •
Customer: Do you have any books by Jane Eyre?” (If only!)
• • •
I had a very brief career as a bookseller just after college, so reading this book was a fun reminder of some of the weird things customers say. 🙂 A funny, quick read. I borrowed this book from the library, though I should have bought it from a bookstore!


“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#2): The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Audiobook) / Don’t Let Go / The Night Mark


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book. It turned out to be so much more than I was expecting. THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO tells the amazing, wild, and often heartbreaking life story of the title character. Beginning in the 1950s when she arrived in Hollywood, the book covers Evelyn Hugo’s rise to fame as an A-list actress, and her many loves and losses along the way. She chooses a young journalist named Monique Grant to write her biography, and Monique is perplexed as to why Evelyn wants to spill her long-guarded secrets to her. What, if any, is their connection? I listened to the audiobook which was a wonderful experience and quite emotional too. I’m sure the neighbors wondered why I was sobbing as I was mowing the lawn. Definitely one of my favorite books of 2017.


Don't Let GoDon’t Let Go by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Second book by Harlan Coben I’ve read, and second book by Harlan Coben I’ve really enjoyed! In DON’T LET GO, Detective Nap Dumas finally gets a lead in the disappearance case of his high school girlfriend — well, it’s his own case as no one else is looking. Maura went missing 15 years ago on the same night his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were killed, supposedly hit by a train. Nap’s always wondered if there was more to the story, and of course, if Maura’s disappearance was somehow related. Now a clue from a crime scene in another town sets his investigation in motion again. DON’T LET GO is page-turning suspense with a complex mystery and relatable characters. I especially loved Nap’s sarcastic wit.


The Night MarkThe Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. THE NIGHT MARK is a unique time-travel romance set on the gorgeous coast of South Carolina. In present day, Faye Barlow feels lost, still grieving the death of her husband four years prior. During her latest photography job, she discovers an abandoned lighthouse at a place called Bride Island. She feels an inexplicable connection to the lighthouse, and in a strange twist of fate, she’s sent back to 1921 where the keeper is very much alive and very familiar. I thought the writing was beautiful, and the descriptions of the lighthouse and island were magical. While I loved the premise, ultimately I had a hard time connecting with Faye and feeling the chemistry in her new time-travel relationship. Their set up was a bit too odd for me. The character who stood out to me most was the priest — honestly I’d love to read his life story.


“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” ― Vera Nazarian