One for the Die Hard Philip K. Dick Readers

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Allow to begin by saying I love Philip K. Dick as an author. He is responsible for some really thought-provoking works of literary art. He is the author of some true sci-fi classics such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and even some of his lesser known short stories are wonderful. Now before you attack me for only pointing out his famous works, I have read a number of his lesser known stories…

Dick, however, is also a very prolific writer. He seems to have a pretty good number of both AMAZINGLY OUT OF THIS WORLD creations and so-so stories. For me, The Man in the High Castle is one of his more mediocre works.

I first took up The Man in the High Castle because of the upcoming Amazon series based on the work. I loved the pilot, as did many other people across the internet world.

The book does offer the typical otherworldlyness of Dick’s novels. And, he plays on his themes about the nature of reality. In some ways, his themes are more accessible because he grapples with the idea using the backdrop of post-WWII America. Although the Axis Powers have won the war, Dick is not transporting readers to another planet or even to thousands of years in the future. Perhaps that is what falls short for me. I never felt truly captive to the alternate universes Dick creates in many of his stories.

I still love Philip K. Dick and his a Grand-Daddy in Sci-Fi literature. But for me, the book was not on par with some of his other great works.

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Secondhand Souls (Grim Reaper, #2)Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

I went through a phase where I was a big Christopher Moore fan. He certainly has a certain reverent style that lends itself to guilty humor. At this point, I lost track of how many of his books I’ve read. Although, I haven’t read one in years.

I briefly flirted with reading his Merchant of Venice to be right but couldn’t finish it.

But when it came to Second Handsouls, I decided to give it the old college try. I very much enjoyed the first Grim Reaper book which Christopher Moore wrote almost 10 years ago. That was my first experience with Mr. Moore’s writing style and I did quite enjoy it.

Second Handsouls is a sequel that picks up where the previous Grim Reaper book left off. Much like the first book this one is full of silly one liners and ironic comments on the state of modern American affairs. There’s nothing overly political and most of it makes fun of cultural norms.

All and all it’s a typical Christopher Moore book and if you like the style you like the book. I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m getting older but I didn’t enjoy this novel quite as much as I enjoyed some of the previous ones. Perhaps my taste or raunchy humor is ebbing with my years.

I did sincerely enjoyed the cameo stories Mr. Moore crafted of the trapped souls’ lives. I wish the book had more of them. From the baseball player to the vet all the stories were interesting and entertaining. I’d love to see a collection of life stories from the trapped souls.

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Worst Class Field Trip Ever…. A Bookymom Review

The Worst Class Trip EverThe Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Worst Class Field Trip EVER is a middle grade novel about a group of pre-teens from Miami who head off to Washington, DC. From the get go, the kids run in trouble and become entangled with men they believe are terrorists.

I was hoping for a laugh a minute story from humorist Dave Barry. Sadly, the book did not meet my expectations.

I will say the ending of the book when the main character saves the president is just about laugh out loud funny!

My kids (6 and 9) liked the book and I could hear the occasional chuckle coming from the backseat as we listened to the audiobook.

But, at the end of the day, it is not going down in the middle grade book hall of fame.

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Wool: A Booky Mom Review

Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1)Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wool is another dystopian book chronicling the life of the people left behind. In this case, the ‘survivors’ live in an rather sophisticated underground silo. While I love this genre, it is often difficult for authors to standout in the crowd. Surprisingly, I think Hugh Howey manages to achieve this.

The series begins by following the community’s sheriff as he prepares to be expelled from the silo. Individuals who do not conform to the community rules are sent out into a toxic wilderness and forced to clean a lense that offers the only view of the outside world.

Events take off from there and readers are treated to an interesting take about what it means to be a survivor. Exactly who are they surviving for and why?

I enjoyed the story and found the writing and pace of the novel to be adequate. Howey does a solid job of creating another world in a space that still allows readers relate. I also enjoyed the authors use of suspense as the story unfolds.

All and all, I would recommend this book to readers of the apocalyptic genre.

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Freud’s Mistress: A Fun work of FICTION

Freud's MistressFreud’s Mistress by Karen Mack
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Freud’s Mistress is novel about Minna Bernays’ relationship with her brother-in-law, Sigmund Freud. Readers follow Minna as she struggles to find her place in a world where she does not fit.

Minna is an intellectual woman in an age when the role of most women is to bare children and keep an orderly house. She travels from job to job as a governess or lady’s companion to the wealthy households. But, she is unsatisfied with her role and longs for something more. As a result, she represses her feelings of incompleteness with gin and cigarettes.

Finally, after losing employment yet again, Minna ends up with nowhere to turn and she takes up residence with her sister’s family helping with the children.

While there is evidence that Minna did in fact live with the Freuds for decades, it is unclear whether she and Sigmund ever actually had an affair. I know some reviewers think this is an issue. For me, it is not. This is a work of fiction and should not be taken as history. Certainly, Freud was obsessed with sex and it very well might have happened.

What keep me reading the book was the character of Minna. I found her struggle to find a role in society a more interesting story than her relationship with Freud. Additionally, the interplay between the sisters as the book goes on is clever. Does Martha (Minna’s sister) know what happened?

All in all the book was well executed and a light, entertaining read. However, readers should not confuse this for history.

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Appleblossum the Possum: A Book for the WHOLE family

Appleblossom the PossumAppleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am constantly forcing my kids to listen to audio books as we drive around town or take care trips. I refuse to give in to TV’s and video games in the backseat. I just won’t do it!

However finding books that both kids (a 6 yr old girl and 9 year old boy) and I ALL like can be a challenge. Applebloosom Possum is DEFINITELY a cool all three of us enjoyed.

The story is about a group of young possums and their experience e of growing up. There are several comic elements that adults will appreciate. For example, the possums are trained in acting, ie playing possum. They quote Shakespeare and one of the siblings is named Amlet.

There are very funny parts about the different kinds of monsters the possums encounter…I don’t want to give it away.

Additionally, the audio version is read by Dustin Hoffman and he does a great job bringing the story and characters to life.

I certainly recommend this book as a fun family read.

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Thunderstruck

ThunderstruckThunderstruck by Erik Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thunderstruck is the story of wireless telegraphy placed on the backdrop of a famous English murder. It is a well written book and does a good job of explaining how Marconi developed the wireless.

I was struck buy the fact that Marconi was more of a tinkerer than a cold hard scientist. It is fascinating how many stories of scientific discovery involve novices. In this case, Marconi struggled against the establishment but used his sense of business and marketing to come out on top.

The book culminates with killer attempting to escape to the US and a ship captain using the wireless to help Scotland Yard arrest him. Evidently, this dramatic story helped propel wireless telegraphy forward.

I have read almost all of Larson’s books and I’d put this one smack in the middle. My favorite remains Devil in the White City, followed by Lusitania and then Thunderstuck and finally In the Garden of Beasts. It is not that I disliked Thunderstuck, it’s simply that the other two are better in my opinion.

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