Tag Archives: Book Review

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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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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Number the Stars.

Number the StarsNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somehow I missed Lois Lowry as an author until about a year ago. Now, I am reading many of her books to catch up on what I missed. Number the Stars is another one of her novels I am just encountering.

As a middle-grade book, I found this to be a very tactful way to deal with the issues surrounding Nazi treatment of Jews during WWII. Lowry addresses the issue for young readers without scaring or horrifying them (no easy task when you think about the topic she is covering).

It is a quick read for an adult and probably not something that would interest and/or captivate most an adult reader. However, I highly recommend it as a novel for parents and middle-age child to share and discuss as a gateway to talking to about some of the more horrific episodes of our recent past.

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China Dolls Lisa See’s Newest Book Isn’t Her Best: A Bookymom Review

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really loved Lisa See’s other books so when this came out I was eager to give it a try. Sadly, the book did not meet my expectations.

China Dolls follows the story of three women– one of whom is NOT Chinese– during the depression, through the war and into to the post-war period.

For me, the characters never really gelled. In other Lisa See books, the characters really came alive. They pulsates with individual spirit and emotion. Even when I read Dreams of Pearl and found Pearl to be obnoxious, she seemed like a real person. In China Dolls, the women are just that dolls, rather lifeless characters following a plot without believable emotion.

If you want to avoid spoilers stop reading now!!

They go through so many things– dead husbands and children, love triangles, Japanese interment, out of wedlock children, marrying gay men, murder, jail! It’s more of a soap-opera than a meaningful picture of their lives. So much happens and so much is revealed that your head is spinning from minute to minute. And, all the drama the emotions and experiences of the characters are either over done or incredibly shallow!

See also doesn’t paint the picture of time and place like she has in her previous novels. In her past works, the location and time period are so well created they almost become a character. She allows the read to be immersed in the period. That did not happen here. What was pre-war San Fransisco Chinatown like? What about post war Miami?

All and I all I recommend skipping this book and reading Lisa See’s other much better novels.

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Judy Moody’s Not So Bummer Summer: A Bookymom Review

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (Judy Moody, #10)Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer by Megan McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Judy Moody Book. I don’t always read the same books as my kids nor do I always read the books with my kids. But I did end up reading this one aloud with them over the summer, I am sure you can guess why based on the title.

I must say I much prefer the character of Judy Moody to that nasty little girl, Junie B. Jones. I really can’t stand Junie. Any child who acted the way she did would banned from house forever!

In this book, Judy Moody is left with her aunt Opal for the summer. She plans a summer of adventures that all seem to go sideways. At the sametime, Stink (Judy’s younger brother) is hunting for Bigfoot.

The Bigfoot subplot as well as the crazy aunt add a lot to book and certainly make it entertaining for kids.

As something for kids to read over the summer, this book hits the mark.

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