Tag Archives: Beach Books

Mrs. Poe: Book Review

Mrs. PoeMrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There seems to be subcategory of historical fiction devoted the lives of women related to famous men. As readers, we are meant to see the men through the lens of the women who knew them. Lynn Cullen adds another book to the genre with her book, “Mrs. Poe”.

Cullen’s story is told from the point of view of Edgar Allen Poe’s mistress, Frances Osgood and places her in opposition to Poe’s wife. Mrs. Osgood is a struggling poet with two children and an artist husband who has abandoned her for the moment. Through her connection to literary New York, Osgood meets Mr. Poe and his wife.

A rivalry begins between the two women and drama follows.

While the book is not exceptional, it has a few qualities that make it enjoyable. Cullen lets readers into the world of 1800 century literature and many authors that will appear on high school reading lists are brought through the novel. Osgood and her children are living with the Barletts (as in the famous Barlett’s Quotations).

Additionally, Cullen creates the time and place with subtlety. New York is on the verge of becoming a booming metropolis we now picture. In the novel, characters are fighting for a ‘central park’ because the open space is disappearing.

The book is quick read and fans of the time period or the genre will not be disappointed.

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The Dinner: Summer Reading Anyone?

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Food and family always seem to go together, take Thanksgiving for example. This combination is played out in Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Two brothers meet for a meal to discuss the state of the children as readers are offered a glimpse of a dysfunctional family. (Reading about dysfunctional families seems to be a trend for me this summer!)

I won’t say much more about the plot, it has a few twists and turns. (Although particularly, surprising). I am sure you will want to come to the book with fresh eyes!

Personally, I disliked all the characters, from start to finish. But, I think that may be Koch’s point. The story is told from the point of view of Paul–one of the brothers. He fixates on all kinds of small details over the dinner— the price of the food, the wait staff, his brother, his sister in-law. I get the point, but after awhile I was tired of his obsession with the staff and their over explanation of all the food.

All and all, the book is a quick read and it is certainly worth a bit of summer entertainment. Friends have recommended his other books as well, but I think I might pass on them.

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The Family Fang: Easy Summer Reading…

The Family FangThe Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Family Fang features a family of four. The parents Caleb and Camille engage in a strange type of performance art where they attempt to disrupt the world around them by acting in bizarre and unexpected ways. The “art” is based on how normal people react to their chaotic stirring up of reality. Almost from birth, the parents force the children into being a part of the strange scenes they create. They begin recording the “art” and submitting it for grants and other awards. In the “art” pieces the kids are referred to by A and B.

We join the story once A and B have grown up and both move back home after life’s normal chaos takes over their lives. Shortly after returning home, Caleb and Camille disappear. The police contact A and B because they suspect that Caleb and Camille have been killed. The kids think it’s another performance art piece.

I won’t tell you any more to avoid spoilers. But, as you can already tell the story is about issues of self and parental control.

It is a snappy quick book that thrives on the quirky and absurd. The book entertains and compels the reader forward with the desire to know if they parents are dead or crazy. A fun, light, book read perfect for summer.

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The Second Empress is Second Best

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's CourtThe Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court by Michelle Moran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed a number of Moran’s books and The Second Empress was a tolerable piece of historical fiction. It has taken me a few days to work up to writing a review on the book because I have nothing to say about it— either good or bad.

The Second Empress is the account of Napoleon’s second wife. Most people think of Josephine when they the of the Emperor but he had another wife and a son! The story is not exclusively about his second wife… It is more about his sister compared to his second wife.

Three characters tell the story of The Second Empress. The shifting point of view helps the narrative and Moran is smart not to attempt story telling from Napoleon’s point of view.

From the historical perspective, the book seems rushed… It does address much of Napoleon’s rise or his fall– slight glossing over of Russia and his escape from Elba.

This is a quick read worthy of a snowy weekend or a lazy beach read… Nothing more. But, in that category it’s very solid!

I don’t think it’s Moran’s best work. I preferred her books on Cleopatra’s Daughter and Madame Tussaud. This was a little weak, but in terms of story telling seems on par with The Heretic Queen.

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Welcome Back Bridget!

Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3)Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ha! Ha! Ha! Bridget Jones is back! Please stop reading here if you don’t want to read any SPOILERS!

I enjoyed the original books (although the second one was not as good) and I was bit nervous to catch up with the crazy Ms. Jones turned Mrs. Darcy all these years later.

In book 3, Darcy has passed away and Bridget is now a “geriatric mother” of two young children and SINGLE. Much like the past books we follow Bridget the ups and downs of dating, only this time we see her as a cougar trying to date a man who is 21 years younger than herself.

Fielding stays true to the character and points out the absurd in everyday life without making us feel guilty and with her snappy brand of humor.

Some of the details are just too real– too many plastic toys from Amazon for Xmas and the ubermom at school.

I also love Bridget’s friends (although they play less of a role in this novel than in the previous ones). And, Tom’s Paltrow obsession is too funny!

The only draw back to the book is the very end. I wish Bridget would have kept going on her own instead of finding a new man. It’s too much like the old ending with Darcy. Plus, I think it would be a good message to women that they can go it alone and don’t always have to the quickly wrapped up happy ending.

I also could have done without all the farting and vomit talk, but I’ll over look it!

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Star Wars meets William Shakespeare meets Bookymom!

Star Wars - Darth Vader

Star Wars – Darth Vader (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love, love, love the idea of Star Wars written as a Shakespearian play.

I originally checked the book out of the library. (When you through as many books as we do at The Booky Mom’s house you make a lot of trips to the library!). I started reading the hard copy version to Cinco (2nd grader) and he seemed interested by the idea. (We read a children’s version of mid-summer night’s dream for our mid-summer fairy festival! Fairy Day I, Fairy Day II, Fairy Day III. So he knows who Shakespeare is and he knows the language can sound rather funny). Immediately, Cinco told me he wanted to listen to a dramatized version of the play. We waited until it was available on Audible.com and bought it.

By doing this we missed the drawings in the book, but had the added fun of multiple narrators acting out the parts. It’s a fun concept and it’s an enjoyable listen for a little bit. It’s fun to hear Darth and Han speak in Shakespearian language. The author also does a nice job of using iambic pentameter.

But after about 90 minutes, the novelty of the idea wore-off. The audio version took on a been-there-done-that feeling. Plus with audio, having the stage directions read aloud is distracting, particularly when characters enter and exit frequently!

Finally, the movie is only 2 hours, but the audio story is more than 3. Really? It takes that much more time to tell the same story?

All and all, it’s a silly fun concept and if you love Star Wars or Shakespeare and want to try it out– Go for it. But, I think the book would be better because you get the pictures and you can skim it.

 

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The Dead Walk On (TWD volume 18): A Bookymom Review

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes AfterThe Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 18th installment of The Walking Dead, a graphic novel series that deals with life after zombies. Like so many end-of-the-world books, this one has become less about zombies and more about people. I love that Kirkman has taken these character’s down so many paths. But, I do have to agree with other reviewers that I am suffering from the feeling I’ve been down this road before. Rick has to confront a tyrannical leader. But, this was an awesome volume for Rick’s son Carl. If you enjoy reading about Carl, this one is for you!!!! I feel in some ways this volume is filler and set up for things to come. I only hope what happens is new and not repetitive.

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