The Best Recent Reader Reviews posted at Bookbrowse

The Best Recent Reader Reviews

To write your own review, find the book you want to review and click "Reader Review". You can only post reviews of books that are listed on BookBrowse (approximately 14,000 at the time of writing).


  • (10/16/20): After reading A Piece Of The World, Christina Baker Kline did not disappoint with her research on the Australian Aborigines, the penal colony and the way the British in the 1800’s felt about the Aborigines, albeit , negatively. Actually they thought that they were a nuisance. My thoughts go to the indigenous people world over who were exploited and raped of their culture and ethnicity. I have always wanted to know more about Australia’ penal colony and it was quite an enlightening read I experienced in The Exile.This episode in 19th century Australia and Britain exposes the plight of three women whose lives are bound together aboard “ The Medea” to Van Diemens Land, the penal colony. I enjoyed reading about the bond built by these women , their stories, hardships, and challenges. Stories are everywhere : from the Native American Indians in the United States who were slaughtered and trampled on, the Africans brought to American shores, the Burmese of Myanmar- change the names and the stories are the same of being colonized and left to fend alone. I loved this book because it made me want to to read more atrocities suffered under British rule. This was an unapologetic reveal about the past and how history cannot be forgotten.


  • (10/14/20): For such a young writer, Karen Russell has shown imagination and a freshness of writing that separates her from her peers. Since receiving her MFA in fiction from Columbia, Russell received the “5 Under 35” award in 2009 from the National Book Foundation, was named on The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list, and was a Pulitzer Prize fiction finalist for her novel Swamplandia!, alongside David Foster Wallace and Denis Johnson. Her newest book, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, is a book of short stories set in a variety of locales that was published by Knopf in February. Full disclosure: Swamplandia! was not my favorite. The novel’s characters and plot had Russell’s distinctive magical realism, but the fantasy became tedious at a point, stretching the reader too far, which does not happen at all in her shorter works. Russell really shines in her short stories. In the stories, her lyrical imagination is showcased in beautiful ways that let you lose yourself in the words. No matter how inventive the story, it surprisingly easy to suspend disbelief because of Russell’s craft in these short spaces. In the title story, two vampires who have been together for hundreds of years suddenly face a problem when one of them develops a fear of flying. The relationship between the two vampires and the way they interact in the world is intricately described, with lines like “…You small mortals don’t realize the power of your stories.” A disturbing piece entitled “Reeling for the Empire” weaves the story of women transformed into silkworms and held captive in a factory, who discover personal agency and the power of their relationships in their attempts to transform and free themselves. As the main character Kitsune says, “…In truth there is no model for what will happen to us next. We’ll have to wait and learn what we’ve become when we get out.” Perhaps the most haunting tale in Russell’s collection is “The New Veterans,” a story about a tattooed war veteran visiting a massage therapist. As the two work together, the therapist begins to realize the tattoos come to life on the Vet’s body, and are malleable under her hands. Questions of healing, hurt, memory and honor are all explored in this love story of a different sort. The approaches of these eight stories are so different from each other and have such lives of their own that this is a book that almost defies description, in the best way possible. Who else could tell a story about a massage therapist working on a war veteran whose tattoos come alive and change the lives of those involved, or make your heart hurt for a vampire? The way Russell can manipulate fantastical images and make them almost mundane is a gift, and one that makes you carry the characters around in your head, long after you’ve turned the last page.


  • (10/09/20): I like historical fiction in general, but I really liked this story. Add mystery on top of historical fiction and that made it all the better. This was based on a true story, and even some names and places are actual, while others were changed for privacy reasons and the story was filled in where no actual fact could be found. It is 1829 in Iceland. A woman is sent to be housed with a family, that doesn't want her, while she waits her execution. She is to be executed for murdering her previous master. Her crime and trial is based on the stories of others. While working as free labor for this host family she is visited multiple times by a young priest and it is through his visits that her side of the story is told. You know going in that Agnes dies. She is the last person to be beheaded in Iceland. But it is her story that captivates. How she got into the position to be charged with killing two men, how she survived the loneliness and cruel treatment of her host family, and how she withstood her trip to the gallows. The writing is impeccable and transfers you to that North Iceland homestead Agnes has been assigned to. You feel her loneliness. You empathize with the family forced to harbor a criminal. You await the execution right along with Agnes, as you finally hear her side of the story. It is very easy to lose yourself in this harrowing story, as you feel the pending doom and commiserate with Agnes.


  • (10/09/20): We all know that our past helps to dictate our future. We can run from our past, turn our backs on people and places from the past, disavow our past in many ways, but still it remains. Everyday of our life stays with us, including the past. Two girls, twins, take separate and very different paths in life. African American, but very light skinned, one remains black and one chooses to be white. One twin was defiant, one recessive and shy. How different their lives become. We spend time getting to know these twins as children, how they were raised. Then after they separate, we follow the lives of each adult, comparing and contrasting. This pattern also tracks the offspring, each of their daughters. Both so very different. Until one daughter seeks the truth and finds her cousin. I found this book to be even better than I expected. Having read Bennett before, I knew how strong her writing was, how well she developed characters and how intricate her plot can get. I think this book is ever better than her debut book, The Mothers. However... similar to her first book, I was disappointed in the ending of this story. If Bennett has a flaw in her writing ability, it is book endings. As with her first book the ending of this book just seemed to fall off, fall flat. It does not leave you wanting more, it leaves you with a loss, a feeling of non completion. The ride through the story was great, nice and smooth, entertaining and comfortable, then it came to a screeching halt, lost in a fog, wavering disbelief, no idea of what path to follow. In hopes that her story endings will improve, I will not hesitate to pick up another Bennett book. The ride is worth the dubious ending.


  • (10/08/20): 3.5 stars. This book started out strong for me. I’m familiar with Mt. Pleasant South Carolina where the characters live, which made it easy to visualize. The book club read a lot of books that I have read. So it brought back memories of books I read in the 1990s. And I love a book about books. But the author lost me when one of the women mentioned in a chapter early on in the book that Gazpacho is an Italian soup. It’s actually Spanish. Was the author trying to show that these women were uneducated? Or was it an author mistake? Then there was a scene in a bank where the bank president actually recommended that Patricia and James Harris deposit cash under $10,000 so it’s not reported to the government. As a banker myself that is not something a bank person would ever suggest it’s actually called structuring which could impose penalties to the employee and the bank. However it was never mentioned that this bank person knew this and was basically a crook himself, which I could have been on board with. The banker was never mentioned again. Nitpicking here? Maybe. But these little inaccuracies were enough to make me take a step back and reevaluate the book. Though the scary scenes where definitely scary and bloody at times, it did keep my interest. I did find myself turning the pages to find out what happened next. If you are looking for a scary read for Halloween with vampires stick with Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. But if you are looking for quirky fun I recommend this book.


  • (10/07/20): This book! Alam has managed to write a perfect COVID-era book that is not about COVID, but the desire to keep what we love safe in times of terrible uncertainty and coming away with no good answers. Harrowing is the word I keep coming back to. Couldn't put it down. Recommended for fans of St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. Forget DeLillo's upcoming novel, this is the book you want to read.


  • (10/12/20): This book is set in a labyrinth-like palace made up of statue-filled halls and an ocean that moves in and out of rooms in shifting tides. Piranesi lives there alone, with periodic appearances by a mysterious Other, and catalogues the rooms, statues, and tides in a meticulous system of notebooks. Both Piranesi and the Other are in search of a lost form of Knowledge, and as a reader, we are also in the position of trying to figure out exactly what's going on in this dreamy, hypnotic world. Very different from her first book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanne Clarke has created a beautiful, disorienting tale.


  • (09/27/20): We lived in France for 5 years and visited Épernay and the champagne region as often as we could. The author captured the passion and even the smell of this incredible region. The bravery and strength of the Resistance came to life through this book. I especially loved the way the author connected the past to the present through the characters. The surprise twist at the end of the book was the perfect finale.


  • (09/24/20): Domestic abuse remains a topic of discussion so horrendous and difficult to comprehend that the why or what of circumstances never explains the outcome. It is a tribute to Natasha's mother that she expressed her love and support for her daughter while living in fear daily. Although together they sought and received help in shelters, the mental health status of their pursuer never was questioned or restraint exhibited. Because this man was 'troubled' the whole family suffered and paid the price. The mother and daughter, loving, intelligent, trying to lead a comfortable happy life were always in the shadow of an unfathomable tragedy. What a loss for Natasha. What a brilliant recovery to achieve harmony in your life.


  • (09/22/20): This was a great read! The main character was a strong personality, demonstrating the ability to overcome anything - the rejection from a mother whose supposed to be the greatest example of love and the death of a father who tried. There were a few too many characters that I had to remember, making the book quite lengthy but I was determined to get to the end because of the story’s richness!

  • All the Devils Are Here
    Chief Inspector Gamache #16
    by Louise Penny

    (10/01/20): I eagerly await each Louise Penny book because her characters are fascinating, the settings are rich in description and enthralled the senses, and the plots are fast paced, twisting, and enthralling. This new book All the Devil’s are Here is one of the best in the Armand Gamache series. The book centers around family with love, misunderstandings, secrets, and bravery all mixed in in good measure. Great read, I just wish it was longer. (But then, I always do!)


  • (09/14/20): In a corrupt society where the poor are lumped in the with garbage surrounding them, a boy tries to channel detective skills he learned from TV to solve the random disappearances around him, aided by two school friends. Reading this novel was a delight from start to finish, and it was hard to put it down throughout. The setting and the characters jumped off the pages, making some of the gut wrenching scenes even more powerful. Mix in some humor and the infectious enthusiasm of youth, and you have a great story that I'll think about long after the last page.


  • (10/09/20): We all know that our past helps to dictate our future. We can run from our past, turn our backs on people and places from the past, disavow our past in many ways, but still it remains. Everyday of our life stays with us, including the past. Two girls, twins, take separate and very different paths in life. African American, but very light skinned, one remains black and one chooses to be white. One twin was defiant, one recessive and shy. How different their lives become. We spend time getting to know these twins as children, how they were raised. Then after they separate, we follow the lives of each adult, comparing and contrasting. This pattern also tracks the offspring, each of their daughters. Both so very different. Until one daughter seeks the truth and finds her cousin. I found this book to be even better than I expected. Having read Bennett before, I knew how strong her writing was, how well she developed characters and how intricate her plot can get. I think this book is ever better than her debut book, The Mothers. However... similar to her first book, I was disappointed in the ending of this story. If Bennett has a flaw in her writing ability, it is book endings. As with her first book the ending of this book just seemed to fall off, fall flat. It does not leave you wanting more, it leaves you with a loss, a feeling of non completion. The ride through the story was great, nice and smooth, entertaining and comfortable, then it came to a screeching halt, lost in a fog, wavering disbelief, no idea of what path to follow. In hopes that her story endings will improve, I will not hesitate to pick up another Bennett book. The ride is worth the dubious ending.


  • (09/11/20): And yes I am old enough to have seen Dr. Zhivago on the big screen. And read the book. And lived through the cold war spirit of the times. And the Russian regimes. So the book had an identifying interest to me. Her approach to the events and characters is very well done. I did think the book could have been about 2/3 the length. I found myself saying “okay i got this concept, let’s move on.” And I did giggle at how often the typists could afford to eat out at a restaurant. I recommend you at least see the movie before reading this book. It is a timeless piece, just like Sound of Music or Gone with the Wind.

  • The Black Count
    Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
    by Tom Reiss

    (09/09/20): 1790s France was a renaissance of social justice. Though largely forgotten today, 18th century France pioneered the world's first civil right's movement. And at the helm, Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Reiss tells us, stood a figure resplendent in stature, dwarfing Napoleon's own domineering presence and troubling his ambitions, France's pride and heart of the republican cause, the mixed race Haitian born General Alex Dumas. Tim Reiss plunges us into the unfathomable exploits of a black general successfully erased from popular history at the behest of Napoleon Bonapart, whose own rise attracted the sponsorship of the reigning sugar and slave trades that made France a world power. Tim Reiss's Pulitzer Prize winning "The Black Count" beautifully captures the obsession of a son to write a beloved father back into the remembrance of a once adulating public. Reiss's seemingly effortless writing style thrusts us into not only the adventure of this dynamic figure, but also of Reiss's own detective work, which is a story in of itself. Riveting, heartwrenching, improbable, Reiss does for us what Alexander Dumas could not. If you have ever loved The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers-- indeed any of the great author's work--then The Black Count is a must for your personal Dumas canon.


  • (09/09/20): This is a fascinating story – mystery, romance, history – engrossing on many levels. At times, the story is difficult to follow, due to various first-person voices which have no identification. The author presents here a depiction of one of humanity's major flaws, mistreatment of “the other,” which is Native Americans in this instance. Lynching of a group of Indian men for the deaths of a white settler family is the starting point. The sequelae are woven into the novel in a masterful fashion, with surprises to the very end. Not exactly a page-turner, but gripping in its own way. I would read it again. Recommended.


  • (09/08/20): Finding Dorothy is a quick, informative read. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of Letts' parallels, though the hasty feel of the writing style prevented me from developing any real emotional attachment to any of the characters. I was surprised by the frequent appearance of inconsistencies--it reads like an early draft-- and there were times I wondered what kind of audience Letts intended to target. Despite the wobbly and summarizy-feel of the project, and the weaving in and out of a mature to young-adult sound, the subject matter is a winner. In focusing on Maud Baum, Letts has chosen a fascinating, unique perspective on the backstory of Oz, making it a worthwhile, if not an entirely seductive, read.


  • (10/01/20): Maggie O'Farrell is such a talented stylist and it shines through like the sun in the writing of this book. I loved what she did with the character of Shakespeare's wife, Agnes. I loved how she keeps Shakespeare offside to give room for Agnes to tell her story. I also love the way O'Farrell portrays grief in her writing. Unlike anyone else. It is a beautiful, creative, memorable piece of writing.


  • (08/11/20): A literary mystery inspired by the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The author has once again intertwined characters having been swept up by Jonathan Alkaitis and his investment firm or the periphery of his actions. We also come across a message having been scrawled on a 5 star hotel window meant to scare one of the guests. The mystery here is which one and why. We are also having to deal with ghosts being seen on occasion by a couple of the characters. All of these scenarios come together to end the story and the relationships between the characters. This one kept me turning pages I finished the book in one day. I really enjoy reading Emily St. John Mandel and will definitely be reading her earlier novels.

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: White Too Long
    White Too Long
    by Robert P. Jones
    Religious scholar Robert P. Jones doesn't pull any punches in his latest book, White Too Long: The ...
  • Book Jacket: Caste
    Caste
    by Isabel Wilkerson
    In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ...
  • Book Jacket: The Deepest South of All
    The Deepest South of All
    by Richard Grant
    Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex...
  • Book Jacket: Piranesi
    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke
    Our First Impressions readers were delighted with this speculative novel by Susanna Clarke, her ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Where the Light Enters
by Sara Donati

An enthralling epic about two trailblazing female doctors in 19th century New York.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Agent Sonya

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre tells the true story behind the Cold War's most intrepid female spy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I M B T Give T T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.