Book Review | Schadenfreude, A Love Story by Rebecca Schuman

schadenfreude coverAs a memoir, Schadenfreude, A Love Story introduces the reader to Rebecca Schuman and many years of her life experiences. After meeting her high school boyfriend, join Rebecca in Münster as she lives the roll of misfit with a well-off host family. Then, travel along to Prague where she courts a dirty traveler from the train station. Enjoy her love of Kafka as time goes on, and then return with her for a stay in Berlin. After leaving the cool neighborhood and loft life, return to the States to suffer through her MA, PhD and seemingly never-ending job search.

Reading this book was more entertaining than I had expected it to be. I admit to laughing aloud several times, meaning the author’s humor and sarcasm were well-received. The book may not have fit together as well as I would have liked, with certain chapters being much more inviting than others. Shorter chapters with more frequent breaks would have made it easier to progress through this text. Recommended for those who’ve studied abroad in Germany and have a strong connection to academia. Check it out from a library near youI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.


Book Review | Fräulein M. by Caroline Woods

Fräulein M coverStep into 1920’s Berlin to see protagonist sisters Grete and Berni growing up in an orphanage. Fräulein M. shares their story as one sister moves into a Jewish owned flat to work at bars and the other becomes involved in work for the reich. Interwoven chapters allow the novel to include a storyline in 1970’s South Carolina where a young lady is hoping to learn about her mother’s sealed war-time experience. Do not be fooled by the cover image, this book is not about sex.

In this well-written historical fiction piece, Woods presents the lives of multiple characters successfully by focusing on how their actions affect each other. The novel flowed well despite the changing character focus. Berni’s transgender best friend was tastefully incorporated, adding value to the text. Chapters were of appropriate lengths, which allowed for pauses during the reading. This book would appeal to fans of historical fiction or women’s fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Fräulein M., you may be interested in The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky (2017). 

Book Review | Decompression : a novel by Juli Zeh

An unusual but enjoyable read, book cover decompression by juli zehDecompression takes place on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. The story’s four main characters are two couples, Sven and Antje and Theo and Jola. Sven and Antje live on the island and run a diving school. They left Germany when Sven finished law school and tired of the lifestyle, wanted something simpler and more free spirited. Theo and Jola are tourists visiting from Germany paying a hefty sum for two weeks of Sven’s full attention. Jola is an attractive TV actress hoping to land a motion picture role and Theo is an aging writer with his debut novel more than a decade behind him. Shenanigans between Theo and Jola get in the way as Sven teaches them to dive in the Atlantic. The story gets interesting as a questionable relationship arrises between Sven and Jola and foreshadowing tells of something horrible to come.

As you can probably tell from the book’s blurb, this novel is by no means a happy read. Author Juli Zeh does, however, draw the reader in right at the beginning and keep his interest right until the end. Sven is the main narrator, but sections of Jola’s diary are woven into the text in a manner that prompts the reader to question which account of events is true. Amazon says this book is a psychological thriller, and it sure has a few thrilling moments, but overall it seems to be more of a slice of life story, allowing the reader to step into shoes very different from his normal worn slippers. If you appreciate dysfunctional, or at least abnormal, relationships, this would be a good read. Another blogger aptly compares it to Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Check out the English translation of this German novel at a library near you or look for the ebook.