Einstein's Beach House by Jacob M. Appel

Book Review: Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel

My latest read is Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel. It is the first book I read by Appel, who has published several literary works. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of the short story collection.

I looked forward to the read weeks before I even opened the eBook because short story collections are not something I am often asked to review. I loved the title of the collection too. Then, when I started to read it, I found the characters in each story were well penned and rich in detail. I could imagine them in my mind. There were unique characteristics and situations within each story, including a woman who seeks a therapist to help her depressed hedgehog.

Here is what troubled me. After I had read the first few stories, I felt sad. Let me try to explain. The characters were so well explained that I took them into my heart as a reader. Then I felt so sad when many of them were put into debilitating situations without story endings that satisfied the frayed ends of their lives. It was like the ending just came, and they were left on their ledges (even one ledge, literally, of a building, at the end of one of the stories).

Yes, I know that not all stories end well, I get that, and, yes, of course, there are sad plotlines in books. But I like to see resolution or learning by the characters after the book’s climax. That is something I crave as a reader. And the stories in Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel did not provide me those conclusions.

So, I was left with a connection to characters who I felt were left flailing out there in the literary universe without ends to their ropes. Let me make this clear though: it is obvious to me that the writer is very intelligent. To come up with the book’s clever plotlines, you have to be.

In addition, I felt uncomfortable with some of the issues in the book. There was discussion of suicide, for example, that I was not ready to appear in the book. There was no mention of this subject in the author’s written request for a review or in the Amazon book description. I felt off-balance, unsettled and wondered why it didn’t appear anywhere. Or, am I to understand as a reader that those sorts of issues may come up in any book? I had trouble sleeping one night. Again, I took this to be my personal experience and am in no way saying the writer doesn’t know how to write.

Then, a coincidence happened. I read a new blog post by Tricia Drammeh titled “Let’s Talk About Trigger Warnings.” Wow, I mean, what are the chances that I would read this blog post at the same time I was struggling with the book? As Tricia wrote in her post, “I’ve used trigger warnings in the past. I used one with The Fifth Circle because that book deals with sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and mental illness.”

Okay! So, then I knew it felt less alone about having a disturbing reading experience. I had felt bad because I couldn’t finish reading Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel. I avoided it, I didn’t read any books, I watched TV instead. I didn’t want to end up depressed in a new short story in the collection. I read three-quarters of the book. Tricia’s blog post gave me strength at a time when I was really struggling with how to write the book review.

I do want to say there are many 5-star reviews of Einstein’s Beach House on Amazon. Again, I am discussing my personal experience. You may read it and love it. I enjoyed the characters but struggled with the some of the societal issues and the endings of the short stories. I give it 3 out of 5 stars, with the positive points behind the richly developed characters (although they broke my heart).

Read the book for yourself, and then we can compare notes! Find Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel on Amazon.
 
 
©2015 Christy Birmingham

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104 thoughts on “Book Review: Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel

  1. Janni Styles

    A good and honest review, Christy. I appreciate the timeliness of this one because I am for the first time, I believe, posting something on my blog that requires a trigger warning. I think it’s just the right thing to do not just for those who may be triggered into trauma but as a courtesy to those who just don’t want to read anything out of their comfort zone. Thanks for this and for being you. Sweetness is you 🙂

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  2. Emily Rose Lewis

    I’m with you. I am super sensitive to stories; both in books and in movies. I screen my movies like a hawk and own a clearplay filter to filter out specific unwanted content in a movie that I otherwise want to see. I don’t like unhappy endings or non-endings. I think your review was fair for real. I guard my soul and appreciate others giving me a heads up before I open myself up to whatever.

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  3. markbialczak

    Sorry to hear that the subject matter of suicide was sprung on you without warning and unsettled you so, Christy. You bring up a good point, upon seeing Trigger Warnings mentioned elsewhere, how there are some issues that deserve red flags beforehand. Thanks for putting this out in our world. I am glad that you mentioned how well the characters are developed nevertheless.

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  4. mrsmariposa2014

    Sounds interesting but definitely understand trigger warnings. I’d have had them, too. You brought up some excellent points here. Thank you!

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  5. Marissa Bergen

    Yes, its not lost on me that a book has to be well written to have effected you so deeply. Sorry it wasn’t a great experience for you. I am not always a fan of happy endings. Hard to say what i might have thought of this book.

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  6. milfordstreet

    I’m the same way when I am not enjoying a book….i avoid reading. I find it is better to just stop and find something more to myliking. Reading is too important to sacrifice.

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  7. raymond alexander kukkee

    Wow…this is a Brilliant and honest review, Christyb–even though you may not believe so, this is a GREAT review. Total honesty–what disturbed you about the book–without denigrating an intelligent writer….this is such useful information to anyone who may consider picking up this book to read. I say “Well done, Christyb”. “:)

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  8. balroop2013

    Hi Christy,

    I admire one quality of reviewers and that is definitely there in your reviews…be honest and discreet! I am glad you could finish reading this book despite some red flags, that very clearly indicates how much strength you have derived from your past experiences. That is the greatest achievement.
    I usually drop the book unfinished when I start feeling uncomfortable but it is really nice on your part to stand by the commitment. There are all sorts of books, dear friend and all don’t turn out the way we expect them to be. I have read a few, which gave me heartache after I reached the end. Some characters are so endearing that you can connect with them and feel very dismayed if they are wronged.
    Thanks for sharing an excellent review, loved your choice of words.

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Hi Balroop, Actually I didn’t finish the book as I wasn’t able to… but I had to be honest to myself for the reasons explained in my post. I am grateful you found the review to be a good one and please know I value your friendship xx

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  9. melouisef

    I like your review. Sometimes I do not finish books either, In fact more often than not , if I do not like the style, the plot won’t interest me either. I don’t mind the subject of suicide if it is handled well. It does happen. My brother committed suicide and one of my friend’s sons too. Very hard to come to terms with in real life, But it is something you have to understand before you can come to grip with it.So yes a sensitive subject indeed. But then you did read Anna Karenina did you not?

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      I am sorry to hear about your brother. I am all too familiar with suicide, unfortunately, after trying to take my life. So, it was once not a sensitive subject but is now of course more so for me now. I don’t think you knew that as you haven’t read my first poetry book “Pathways to Illumination.” Here is more about me, so you can understand more, in my author profile: http://redmundpro.com/authors/christy-birmingham/

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      1. melouisef

        Thank you and I am sorry Christie, I did not know but I understand very well. I do not read poetry that is why I did not know. Suicide is very sensitive but once you are close to it or close to somebody who did it changes the picture drastically. And I cannot really read sad stories either so I prefer a happy ending. Real life can be so sad that I prefer something more relaxing so to speak. And I have to deal with people who have real life problems which sometimes can be very hard. It should not cause me to lose perspective though. I suggest you do not read Hausfrau so btw. Terribly sad. I wrote about it and other books in my last blog.

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        1. Christy Birmingham Post author

          I appreciate your comment here, Melouise. I know we are still getting to know one another in blogging world and so here we have shared intimate details of our lives. Thank you for your genuine friendship and for the honesty you share with me. I know it’s not an easy subject and I value your words xx

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        2. melouisef

          Sometimes out of the blue you kind of bond and I don’t know if it is the right word with some stranger even if it is on the other side of the world 🙂 xxx

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  10. DotedOn

    I understand how you feel. I can’t read a book or watch a movie if I know it’s a bit sad… Sometimes our hearts are just not ready for that. 🙂

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  11. Tricia Drammeh, Author

    I loved this thoughtful review, Christy. It doesn’t discourage me to read the book, but does give a word of caution to those who are sensitive to certain topics. The book sounds intriguing and very well-written. This review is a good argument in favor of using trigger warnings or detailed content disclosure in the product description. I’m glad I’ve used trigger warnings on a couple of my books, and I won’t hesitate to use them again if I think one of my books needs it.

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  12. lenie5860

    Christy, it sounds like we have the same views on books – we can have our heroes go through bad times as long as those are resolved at the end. It doesn’t even have to be “Wow, am I happy” kind of resolution, but enough that you know they will be able to move forward. Wonderful honest review of a book I won’t read.

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  13. Chris

    Christy,

    I just might give this book a spot on my summer reading list because of your review. Not to be contrary (a clear trigger warning that I’m about to be contrary), but I enjoy when writers don’t tie up all the loose ends of a character’s situation, especially in short stories.

    I feel it gives my mind something to process and cope with, more so than if the writer had tied up everything for me in a neat little package.

    For me, one of the hallmarks of a great piece of writing is when I find the story creeping back into my thoughts after I set it down.

    As a reviewer, you are always doing a great service by being honest with your thoughts on a piece of writing. What you might find as troublesome, just might be a draw for others.

    I think you handled your issues with the book in a fair manner. I can’t wait until I have some down time this summer and to see what what books I actually get to.

    Thanks for spotlighting this one.

    Chris

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Hi Chris, if you do read it this summer, I would be interested to know your take on it. I am glad you found the review fair and honest as that was certainly my intent. Great chatting with you today on books, the number 9, and more 🙂

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  14. macjam47

    Oh Christy, I am sorry you had no warning about the subject matter. Trigger warnings could have prevented you from reading this, or have given you the choice to choose to read it regardless. Under the circumstances, I know it was difficult to write this review, but you did a fabulous job of it. It is a fair and honest review. Big hugs, my sweet friend.

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Exactly, Michelle, it would be all about the choice of whether to read it or not. Like you, I’m sure, I won’t read everything I am asked to review. It is a personal choice. Hugs to you for the sweetness of your comment (and because it is YOU xx)

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  15. Schnauzevoll

    can you next time tell us about a book that maybe focusses on a horribly kitchy love story and so will not be added to my wishlist? this book sounds really interesting and so my list keeps growing and growing everytime i visit your blog *lol*

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  16. Debbie

    This doesn’t sound like a book I could read or enjoy, Christy (but thank you for your honest review!). I need my sleep at night, and disturbing images, storylines, and the like don’t contribute to that! Yes, you really should have been told about the darkness — I’m glad you found comfort in that blog (and I’m sure you commented to that effect!) Get out in the fresh air and sunshine, my friend — find some healing there!

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Yes, you’re quite right Debbie that I found comfort in Tricia’s post. Indeed, I told her so. It was an amazing thing to find her words there when I needed them, without having gone out of my way to look for such communications. I am so happy to see you as you always make me smile. I will be out in sunshine today, taking most of the day offline. Hugs, Debbie, thank you!! xx

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  17. vivachange77

    Dear Christy, I’m sorry you got caught unawares by story issues in the book. (Good point about “trigger warnings”.) Your honesty is clear and your graciousness toward the author is refreshing. I would believe any review I read of yours. Speaking from a reader’s point of view, I do not continue any book that I feel “isn’t me.” I choose to read books that have redemptive qualities, no matter how difficult the issues. ❤

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  18. Kourtney Heintz

    A very well balanced review. I do find that books and shows can really impact me emotionally. I appreciate a heads up about violence, abuse, or unhappy endings. I like to know what I’m getting into before I get into it. 🙂

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  19. reocochran

    I end a lot of full length books, wanting to read more of the character’s stories. I am not so good at anthologies or collections of stories. I am like you, I want to know MORE, Christy! I enjoyed this review and you did an excellent job of presenting it in a fair and honest way. Smiles, Robin

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Thank you for noting that it was a bit of a difficult post to write, Robin. You always add a positive spin in your comments and for that I am so glad. I hope your day is going wonderful!! Smiles back 🙂

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  20. Prajakta

    Nicely done Christy, and yes. Like you said, there is a certain level of investment that happens in those characters. I want to know the stories behind the stories and those tiny insignificant details. As far as the plot goes, I don’t need explicit warnings. I want to be forewarned that there is a dark tone to the story – but don’t need it spelled out. Maybe because like the protagonist, even I want to be caught unaware. I still haven’t decided yet!

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  21. DG MARYOGA

    You always become one with the characters and you feel either joyful or sad …
    Books are like life which is not a bed of roses.I suppose,if you hadn’t felt sad,you would have given at least one more star.You are always fair and honest and this is very much appreciated by your readership.Have a beautiful day Christy Dear 🙂 Warm Spring Hugs to You 🙂 ❤ xxx

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  22. Sue Dreamwalker

    When ever I read a book too I find myself merging deep with the characters too Christy .. And there have also been books I have picked up and started to read that I have put down never to open again, as the contents I found too disturbing..

    If the stories you did read left you feeling as if something bad was about to befall the characters.. You could always try to create a Happier ending in your own mind.. You views are honest ones dear Christy.. and I know all who follow your reviews respect them..

    Love to you my friend.. Hugs Sue xx

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  23. Jane Carroll

    I always enjoy reading your honest reviews, Christy. I know I wouldn’t enjoy reading a book which makes me sad and triggers me, either. In fact, I try to avoid them…I know years ago when I read the Ya Yas…it was the saddest book…made me depressed for weeks…and everyone was talking about how funny it was…I definitely didn’t see that side of it. 🙂

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  24. Ste J

    Perhap Appel didn’t mention of the subject of suicide because the full impact of that would have been somewhat diminished in the text. For me such things can come out of left field for anyone and so that would retain a sense of realism in the book, then again that is just me and I realise that such writings are not palatable for all, so perhaps some sort of mention is important.

    I’m with you on the unresolved issues, from time to time it is pleasant to muse on a character and what may have happened to them but to constantly end without any form of resolution does seem intriguing, I wonder what the author’s thoughts on this are.

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  25. Heartafire

    Hi Christy, thank you so much for the detailed review of this book. I look forward to your opinions and trust them. I think it is a sign of good writing when one finds they are relating deeply to the protagonists in a story, it can be disconcerting as well but without that I don’t think I could hold my focus. I found the comment regarding the “suicide” issue interesting, in that a trigger warning could deplete the reaction of the reader. I often go on my mood when choosing a read, if I am down and likely to be upset by issues I might read light fare, on the whole I am big into the classics, but occasionally read novella or short stories, even biographies. At any rate, hats off to a fabulous revue and relay of your feelings while reading this. I love your texts, Keep up the good work, I am counting on it! A happy weekend to you dear Christy. ❤ 🙂 Holly

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Holly, your comment here is wonderful and I thank you for it. I understand what you are saying about the trigger warnings and how our mood at the time when we are reading can affect how we understand the pages. I am so glad you found value here as indeed I find value in your comment! I hope your week is going well! 🙂 ❤

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      1. Heartafire

        It’s rainy and is supposed to be rainy most of the week, but the flowers can use it. Thank you Christy, I find your book reviews extremely interesting and helpful! Please, keep bringing them. Hugs…<3 🙂

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  26. thewhisperingpen

    Oh, Christy. That’s a tough one. I like books that don’t always end well…the ones that don’t put a bow on top just to make a pretty ending. But, I agree I think there needs to be some sort of resolution.

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  27. irinadim

    “I didn’t want to end up depressed in a new short story in the collection. I read three-quarters of the book. Tricia’s blog post gave me strength at a time when I was really struggling with how to write the book review.”
    A very honest and good review, Christy. You have explained your point of view very clearly. I am like you, I don’t like reading books that depress me.

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  28. Indah Susanti

    Honest review does matter, and you put it really well written review. I agree that every readers have preference and writing could affect readers strongly. Personally I can’t read fiction about certain topics as well as they would make me sad and traumatic 😦

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  29. Pingback: My Article Read (4-29-2015) | My Daily Musing

  30. cav12

    Some books are hard to read whether is the subject matter or the writing style. Your review was one of honesty and integrity, not only for the content of the book but also for the author. A great review, Christy. x

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  31. Dalo 2013

    A very thorough and thoughtful review, these are the best kind Christy because they are real and tell the readers of your review something not just about the book but about you yourself (a reviewer that can be trusted). You mention something that I too really need and want in a book (and actually never thought too much about) and that is resolution. I too like to see resolution.

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      It’s wonderful to read your musings on what I wrote here as I was in a bit of turmoil writing it and choosing words carefully… thank you. Regarding resolution, yes, it’s a mental investment with the characters and nice to have a resolution for sure. I wish you a wonderful weekend!

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  32. reocochran

    You gave it a fair review, some nice credits and details about character development. I think that the author may have wished this to be a shock or surprise, so instead Jacob should have mentioned there was ‘sensitive material’ or ‘serious subject matter included.’ I am one who doesn’t wish to tell the details which may surprise the reader, so I can relate to Jacob on this one item. Not to upset you, but sometimes stories need to unfold… Great job on your upcoming poetry book, I will do what I did for Luanne Castle’s “Doll God” book and fill out a library request to have this put on our Delaware County District Library shelves. I have a crowded one bedroom apartment and try to not promise to add anyone’s books. Thanks for understanding this, hopefully! Smiles, Robin

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      That’s great Robin that you say about the notation of ‘sensitive material’ — that’s a great phrase to use. Thank you for pointing that out. Wow, a library request – oh how wonderful you are to want to do so! I really appreciate that. Wow, you are starting my day off on a joyful foot!! xx

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  33. JL0073

    I enjoyed reading your reviews because it’s good to see a person be open and honest about what a book or a story might mean to them personally. If someone internalizes a work of art then at least you know it had an impact even of that impact was undesired. I don’t tend to internalize what I read and there are very few subjects that would bother me because that’s just how I’m wired but I can appreciate and respect someone who does have a personal reaction to things. It sounds like the author is a good writer and perhaps very imaginitive but that the subject matter wasn’t something you were particularly keen on delving into. That’s understandable and I respect that. I actually hadn’t heard of “trigger warnings” before. So, reading about that is definitely a learning experience for me.

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    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Hi Phil, nice to see you and hope all is well! As for whether the book is a downer, it’s all relative to your perspective as a reader really; a downer for some would not be for others. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one way or the other for another person 🙂

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  34. Heena Rathore P.

    Great review Christy! It’s been quite long since I last visited your blog (real life always comes in the way of blogging… isn’t it!?) Feels great to be back and I’m happy that I read I read your review for this one as I’m sure I received this for review myself. Though I guess it’ll come up on my list after a month or so. But I’m glad that now I know that this is going to be a serious read… Thanks to you.
    I like reading your reviews as you give a very precise idea about what you felt about the book (which is really rare!) Thanks a lot for such an honest review dear… I’ll make it a point to let my reviewers know that this book is emotionally heavy before they pick this one.
    I hope everything’s fine at your end! Hope to catchup with your other posts with time 🙂
    Have a great day dear!!! ❤
    XOXO!!!

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