(Review) A Bookshop in Berlin by Francoise Frenkel

Publisher and Publication Date: Atria Books. December 3, 2019.
Genre: Memoir. Autobiography. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary ebook copy from NetGalley and Atria Books, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust.
Rating: Excellent.


Author Info:
Françoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, she opened the first French-language bookshop in Berlin with her husband. Frenkel’s bookshop miraculously survived Kristallnacht, when hundreds of synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed. But in the summer of 1939, with war looming, Frenkel fled to Paris. She sought refuge across occupied France for the next several years until finally, on her third attempt, escaping across the border to Switzerland, where she wrote a memoir documenting her refugee experience. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No Place to Lay One’s Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.

In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her.

My Thoughts:

A Bookshop in Berlin is an amazing story for several reasons.

  • The book was first published in the French language in 1945. The Swiss publishing company closed a long time ago. The book was found (by chance) and republished in 2015.
  • A Bookshop in Berlin shows Europe in the years before World War I, to the midway point of World War II. This gave me a panoramic history lesson: politically, geographically, anti-Semitism, rise of Nazism, and the elite book culture.
  • Through Frenkel’s eyes, I see the escalating tension and hostility against the Jews. The restrictions enacted. The looting and burning of buildings. The roundups of the Jews. The fear of who to trust and who not to trust.
  • Frenkel’s grit and determination to escape.
  • The ordinary people who were extraordinary in their courage to help strangers.
  • The great love Frankel carried all her life for books, and for the fond memories of the bookshop she once owned.
  • Frankel shared her thoughts and feelings behind her actions.

Francoise Frenkel was a wonderful writer. I became absorbed in her story from the start. It’s a shame this is the only known book she wrote.

In some of the book the word “we” is used. Who is the “we”? Is it her husband? This is an interesting and mysterious point. She was married, but nothing is mentioned in the book about him. So many unanswered questions just from this unmentioned point. It’s possible they had a falling out and separated. It’s possible that it’s too painful to mention him in her story. Both are plausible.


(Review) Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family by Kathy McKeon

Jackie's Girl

Publisher and Publication Date: Gallery Books. 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 320
Source: Borrowed copy from granddaughter.
Rating: Good.
Audience: Readers with an interest in the Kennedy family, 1960s, and Irish immigrant.




In 1964, Kathy McKeon was a young woman of nineteen when she began working as a personal assistant for Jackie Kennedy. Kathy had not lived in the United States long. She was from a small village in Ireland. Jackie lived at 1040 Fifth Avenue in New York City. During the summer, Jackie and her children went to Cape Cod. McKeon worked for Jackie 13 years.

My Thoughts:
This is the first book I’ve borrowed from the bookshelf of my sixteen year old granddaughter. She’s an avid reader. We have similar tastes in books.
Jackie’s Girl is the first book I’ve read about the Kennedy’s. However, Jackie’s Girl is not a bio on the Kennedy’s, they are secondary characters in the book. Jackie’s Girl is the story of Kathy McKeon. It’s a coming of age story that is unique, because Kathy worked for Jackie Kennedy. Kathy’s perspective of Jackie is also unique. Kathy was not an American. She’s new to the American way of life in the mid 1960s. She’s new to living in a large metropolitan city.

My Thoughts:
Several things I liked about the book:
♦A unique perspective.
♦Written in a light-hearted manner.
♦Not an expose on the Kennedy family.
♦A solid introduction piece on the Kennedy’s.
♦Gave me an idea of what Jackie’s life was like.
♦A fresh look at Jackie’s personality.
♦A view of the relationship between Jackie and Aristotle Onassis.

What I didn’t like or wish had been added:
♦I still am not clear on what Kathy’s duties were for Jackie. From what I read, Kathy was to make sure Jackie didn’t run out of perfume and bath oil, and she was to entertain the children. Surely she had more to do?
♦Nothing is in-depth. Another words all the descriptions, thoughts, and perspective is minimal. I do not want to read a gossip book, but I do want to read a book that gives a strong and clear picture of the people and events.
♦The book left me wanting more, so much more.






(Review) High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins

High Achiever
Publisher and Publication Date: Harmony. June 18, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 371.
Source: Self-purchase. Kindle edition.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: Readers who are curious about the lifestyle of a drug addict. Fans of Juggling the Jenkins/Tiffany Jenkins.


For info on Tiffany Jenkins-Goodreads
Juggling the Jenkins
Tiffany Jenkins Live Tour (info)

Tiffany Jenkins has a large following through Facebook (over 3 million) and her blog. She’s been able to create a large audience of fans through her blog and book.

High Achiever begins with Jenkins being processed in jail. Later in the story all the steps that led up to the arrest and jail time is described. She was in jail 120 days and spent several months in a rehab treatment center. The last couple of chapters is life post recovery. Jenkins is the narrator, and this means she shares the thoughts behind the events. The tone of the story is light-hearted and sarcastic.

My Thoughts:
I’m glad Jenkins has been clean and sober for several years. I’m glad she has found a voice and platform to help others. I’m glad she has a successful business. But for me this book didn’t work. For some readers, they will like the light-hearted and sarcastic telling of the story. I don’t. It made it difficult for me to become invested in the story. I only felt a deep sadness.
I’m married to a man who at one time sold and used illegal drugs. I’m connected to other family members and friends who’ve lived this lifestyle. I don’t have positive memories of any of that.
What Jenkins helped me understand is the level of depravation a person will go to in order to get drugs. Things they’d never do before will now be done. The warped mind, because of drugs, doesn’t think logically or morally. The only need is to get high. In addition, people in Jenkins life used her need for drugs against her. All those in the drug abuser’s life are circling around each other (reminds me of vultures) each of them wanting something from the other.
It’s amazing Jenkins has told her painful story. I consider her brave. But the story still didn’t work for me.
I’ve read several reviews about the book, mainly on Goodreads. There have been reviewers who don’t understand the choices she made. Her brain was on drugs. How could she make solid, logical, moral choices?
What I’d like to know more about or what I wish the book had stated.
♦How did she become involved in drugs?
♦What was her childhood like?
♦What kind of relationship did she have with her parents?
♦When did her mother die and were they close?
♦I’d like to read more information about the treatment itself in a rehab center.


(Review) Understanding Antidepressants by Wallace B. Mendelson M.D.

Understanding Antidepressants

Publisher and Publication Date: Independent published. March 2, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Psychology. Depression. Antidepressants.
Pages: 123.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Readers who want a better understanding of antidepressants.

The ebook is free through Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon page for info in Wallace B. Mendelson M.D.

Dr. Mendelson is currently in the clinical practice of psychiatry. He was formerly Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Pharmacology, and director of the Sleep Research Laboratory, at the University of Chicago. Dr. Mendelson earned an MD degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed a residency in psychiatry there as well. He has held professorships at Ohio State University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was Chief of the Section on Sleep Studies at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, and Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Mendelson is a past president of the Sleep Research Society. Among his honors is the William C. Dement Academic Achievement Award from the American Sleep Disorders Association/American Academy of Sleep Medicine as well as a Special Award in Sleep and Psychiatry from the National Sleep Foundation, and he is a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Mendelson has authored four books and numerous peer-reviewed papers on various aspects of sleep research and psychiatry. His website, describing his interests, a blog devoted to literature, as well as a downloadable curriculum vitae, can be found at: www.zhibit.org/WallaceMendelson.

Wallace B. Mendelson M.D.

“About 16 million Americans experience a major depression each year, and at any given time about one in ten adults is taking antidepressants. There are many different ones, in what can seem like a bewildering variety. In this book, Dr. Mendelson makes sense of the many treatments for depression, and shows that understanding how antidepressants work can help in making better decisions.”

My Thoughts:
Recently, I reviewed a previous book written by Mendelson, Understanding Medicines for Anxiety. Both books have been eye-opening in understanding how these types of medications work. In understanding how a medication works that a patient has been prescribed, it makes the patient and family feel knowledgeable about what is happening; as well as a bit in control about the aspect of knowing what the medication will do and how it will be done. So often a physician will write a prescription and the patient will take the medication not knowing what happens after the pill is swallowed. I’m a person who wants to know!

•”How Drugs Work”
•”If Things Aren’t Getting Better”
•”Other Depressive Disorders”

Further reasons I love this book:
♦Explains how antidepressants are handled by the brain itself.
♦Other types of mood disorders are explained. Bi-polar is addressed in several areas of the book.
♦List of commonly used drugs for depression and dosages.
♦A history of antidepressants.
♦Types of antidepressant medications are explained, and their interactions with other medications, side effects, and overdose.
♦24 illustrations are included. This includes graphs and photographs.

(Review) Understanding Medicines For Anxiety by Wallace B. Mendelson MD

Understanding Medications for Anxiety
Publisher and Publication Date: Independent published. June 24, 2019.
Genre: Psychology. Anxiety. Medications.
Pages: 120.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author, Wallace B. Mendelson, MD., but was not required to leave a favorable review.
Audience: Readers who want to understand medications used for anxiety and depression.
Rating: Excellent.

The Kindle copy is free in the Kindle Unlimited program.


If you take medication for anxiety or depression. If you have a loved one who takes medication for anxiety or depression. I recommend this book to you!

Dr. Mendelson has a page on Amazon. He is a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Chicago.

Understanding Medicines For Anxiety is a brief educational study of anxiety and the medications used to treat it. In this book, Mendelson explains: the definition of anxiety, the list of medications, how the compounds work, adverse reactions, history of anxiety medicines, and other treatments used. The last chapter helps a person with anxiety decide a course of action. This includes questions to ask, how to create a plan, and goals.

My Thoughts:
Reasons why I gave Understanding Medicines For Anxiety an excellent review.
•A quick read that explains in terms that are understandable.
•The list of medications are given, how they work, and adverse reactions they may have.
•Medications used for one thing, but doctors have learned they treat something else. For example: Quetiapine is a antipsychotic drug that can also be used for anxiety or to help a person sleep.
•An explanation of the different types of anxiety disorders.
•Bold print in an easy to read type font size. I believe it is 12 point.
•Clinical studies are explained for medications.
•Medical marijuana and CBD use for anxiety. How they work, what studies show, and side effects.
•This book addresses anxiety, but depression is often included.
•20 black and white, and color illustrations are used.
•How the drug compound works in the brain.
•The history of drugs used for anxiety in the 19th and 20th centuries, and how they began to be abused.

Understanding Medicines For Anxiety is an excellent tool for a person who has anxiety or has a loved one with anxiety.