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).


  • (04/16/14): I totally loved this book.. It takes place in a small bookstore in an out of the way town. It is a little bit of everything, love story, family saga. The characters come alive and the story is such a sweet story. I recommend this book to every one who loves books or just wants a good book to settle down with.


  • (04/09/14): When I started reading Gemini, I was confused as to what the two women had in common. As I read and realized what it was, I was totally drawn into the book and didn't want to put it down. It was fun trying to figure out what was going to happen, especially when I found out I was right a few times. The different subjects that were brought into play were fascinating, and I think it would make a great book for book club discussions. I'm sure there would be a lot of debate going on, which is the best part of our reading groups!


  • (04/09/14): Pardonable Lies is the third book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, uses her unique skills to tease from a thirteen-year-old girl the circumstances of her “uncle’s” death. Avril Jarvis is the prime suspect, but Maisie doubts her guilt, and sends Billy Beale to Avril’s hometown of Taunton to do some investigating. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Compton asks aisie to take on a case for a friend, Sir Cecil Lawton, QC. Maisie’s brief is to confirm that Cecil’s son, Ralph, died in a plane crash in France during the Great War, some 13 years ago. A reunion with her college friend, Priscilla Partridge (nee Evernden) sees Maisie also agreeing to establish the fate of her eldest brother, Peter, ostensibly another Great War casualty. After some initial research into Ralph Lawton’s background in England, Maisie reluctantly travels to France, the scene of her own wartime traumas. Her mentor, Maurice Blanche, insists on accompanying her, a move Maisie finds rather unsettling; she is unsettled, too, by several incidents which lead her to believe her life is in danger. Once again, the narration proceeds at a deliberate pace to cement a plot with several twists. While some details soon become obvious, there are a few intriguing surprises in store for the reader. Maisie’s trust in Maurice is compromised; she is involved in accidents in her beloved MG; poisoned chocolates, missing War Office records, a popular politician, secret passages, a gay men’s club, psychics and a secret diary all feature. As always, Winspear creates a 1930’s world that feels authentic, including rumblings about Nazi Germany. She continues to fill out the background of her regular characters in this enthralling historical mystery.


  • (04/07/14): 3.5 The thread connecting all these stories is that of the immigrant, hence unamericans. They take place in different times and places. Ordinary people often caught up in matters beyond their control, how tenuous are the connections between people and how they react to these changed circumstances. All looking for clues, their own road maps for the future. These stories are extremely well written, some seem to be so fully contained they seemed much longer than they appear, fully realized stories. I for some reason, found myself drawn to the story, "Minor Heroes, even though it was rather sad, based on a personal tragedy, I identified with Oren. Though really all the stories are very good and this is definitely a writer to watch.


  • (04/16/14): I totally loved this book.. It takes place in a small bookstore in an out of the way town. It is a little bit of everything, love story, family saga. The characters come alive and the story is such a sweet story. I recommend this book to every one who loves books or just wants a good book to settle down with.


  • (03/26/14): Ghostwritten is the first novel by British author, David Mitchell. Told by nine different narrators, with a plot spanning centuries and continents, this is an amazing debut novel. The narrators are a member of a doomsday cult who releases poison gas in a subway in Tokyo, and details his retreat to Okinawa and a small nearby island, Kume-jima; a jazz aficionado who works as a sales clerk in a Tokyo music store; a lawyer in a financial institution in Hong Kong who has been moving large sums of money from a certain account; a woman who owns a Tea Shack on China's Holy Mountain and speaks to a tree; a non-corporeal sentient entity which is searching for who or what it is; a gallery attendant in Petersburg who is involved in an art theft scam; a ghostwriter/drummer living in London who saves a woman from being run over by a taxi; an Irish nuclear physicist who quits her job when she finds her research is being used for military purposes; and a late night radio talkback DJ who finds himself fielding calls from an intriguing caller referring to himself as the zookeeper. Mitchell weaves together these nine narrations into a cohesive whole with vague or occasionally direct references to a myriad of common themes, characters, objects, or words (including, but not limited to, albino conger eels, camphor trees, an earth-bound comet, Kilmagoon whiskey, jazz music, cleaning toilets and artificial intelligence) in each narration. His characters muse on, ponder and articulate on various themes: love/lust; chance/fate; brainwashing; propaganda; one's own place in the world; why we are who we are; principles; and the character of London Underground Lines; There is humour, irony, intrigue, and a plentiful helping of tongue-in-cheek comments. And when Mo Muntervary tells Father Wally “Phenomena are interconnected regardless of distance, in a holistic ocean more voodoo than Newton”, she could be describing Mitchell’s own love affair with connections: fans of Mitchell's work will also recognise certain characters and concepts from his other novels, in particular, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green and number9dream. This is a brilliant debut novel.


  • (03/20/14): "At the kitchen table she examined the glass of ice. Each cube was rounded by room temperature, dissolving in its own remains, and belatedly she understood that this was how a loved one disappeared. Despite the shock of walking into an empty flat, the absence isn’t immediate, more a fade from the present tense you shared, a melting into the past, not an erasure but a conversion in form, from presence to memory, from solid to liquid, and the person you once touched now runs over your skin, now in sheets down your back, and you may bathe, may sink, may drown in the memory, but your fingers cannot hold it." A story of three dissimilar people coping to survive in a war infested land. A story not only about war but a story intersecting three characters together through various connections. The trials facing each is the foundation for this poignant story. Marra crafted an irresistible and sensitive debut novel. A multitude of different perspectives given by the differing three protagonists. With the varying voices and viewpoints this allows the reader multiple points to consider long after the novel's cover has been gently closed. Sonja competent physician, professional. She is overworked and exhausted, her hard exterior is taking a beating. Akhmed a physician but rather be painting. Facing any situation thrown his way with strength and poise. With his artistic ability Akhmed reworks the faces of the 'disappeared' to be recovered by family. Haava an eight year girl suffering the loss of her mother, witnessing her father be taken away forcefully by soldiers and now she is residing in a hospital seeing the carnage of war daily. Other secondary characters are involved in the narrative introducing multiple facets of war affecting people - kidnapping, smuggling and more. Marra does a wonderful job covering a quantity of issues without the narrative being overdone or scattered. Marra has left quite an impression, unbelievable this was a debut effort. His elegant and lyrically rhythmic prose immediately captured my attention. Wonderfully executed from beginning to end. A memorable novel in numerous ways. A novel unmistakably worth reading.


  • (03/15/14): I read The Martian quite awhile ago, as a free Kindle book, and I was simultaneously riveted and blown away by this book. The story is so unique, the POV is really readable, the science is "interesting" and the whole package is definitely worth your time. I would recommend this to anyone who likes Jack McDevitt (Moonfall, The Alex Benedict books, etc). The Martian will make you laugh, cry and be incredulous all in one read. I loved it.


  • (03/09/14): This story was captivating from the start. Beginning with character development, story line, scene settings, plot & human interaction were undeniably cause for "I can't put this down". I read it first in 2006 then again last month & loved it both times. I am a fan, but this really set the bar so high others may try and match, but few will succeed. The end was a hoot & totally unexpected. I LOVED it and will give it 100 kudo's to Ms. Roberts for sharing it with me. Can I give it more than 5 rating? It deserves a 15 on that scale.


  • (03/20/14): "At the kitchen table she examined the glass of ice. Each cube was rounded by room temperature, dissolving in its own remains, and belatedly she understood that this was how a loved one disappeared. Despite the shock of walking into an empty flat, the absence isn’t immediate, more a fade from the present tense you shared, a melting into the past, not an erasure but a conversion in form, from presence to memory, from solid to liquid, and the person you once touched now runs over your skin, now in sheets down your back, and you may bathe, may sink, may drown in the memory, but your fingers cannot hold it." A story of three dissimilar people coping to survive in a war infested land. A story not only about war but a story intersecting three characters together through various connections. The trials facing each is the foundation for this poignant story. Marra crafted an irresistible and sensitive debut novel. A multitude of different perspectives given by the differing three protagonists. With the varying voices and viewpoints this allows the reader multiple points to consider long after the novel's cover has been gently closed. Sonja competent physician, professional. She is overworked and exhausted, her hard exterior is taking a beating. Akhmed a physician but rather be painting. Facing any situation thrown his way with strength and poise. With his artistic ability Akhmed reworks the faces of the 'disappeared' to be recovered by family. Haava an eight year girl suffering the loss of her mother, witnessing her father be taken away forcefully by soldiers and now she is residing in a hospital seeing the carnage of war daily. Other secondary characters are involved in the narrative introducing multiple facets of war affecting people - kidnapping, smuggling and more. Marra does a wonderful job covering a quantity of issues without the narrative being overdone or scattered. Marra has left quite an impression, unbelievable this was a debut effort. His elegant and lyrically rhythmic prose immediately captured my attention. Wonderfully executed from beginning to end. A memorable novel in numerous ways. A novel unmistakably worth reading.


  • (02/25/14): An Unnecessary Woman is the fourth novel by Jordanian-born Lebanese author, Rabih Alameddine. Aaliya Sobhi is an elderly divorced woman living alone in an apartment in Beirut. For fifty years, she has translated novels into Arabic, usually starting a new book on the first of January, and packing the finished work away, sealed in a crate, never to be opened again. She is about to select her next book from her lifetime’s collection, when certain events threaten to change her whole way of living. Throughout her narration of current events, Aaliya regularly digresses to describe her past, her childhood, her marriage, her family, her neighbours (“The three witches have been having syrupy coffee together every morning for almost thirty years.”) and her one good friend, Hannah, (“We were two solitudes benefiting from a grace that was continuously reinvigorated in each other’s presence, two solitudes who nourished each other”) against the background of war-torn Beirut, and all her observations are illustrated with quotes from her favourite books. Aaliya’s voice, often self-deprecating, occasionally scathingly critical and full of underlying humour, is strong and clear. This novel is filled with gorgeous prose, much of it marvellously descriptive: “Disappointment hid in the tiny furrows of his forehead, fury in the corners of his mouth.” and “In my morning veins, blood has slowed to the speed of molasses.” Sentiments like “No nostalgia is felt as keenly as nostalgia for things that never existed.” are skilfully illuminated. Alameddine touches on translation and translators (of course), on seeking causality, on the language and style of the Quran and on what influences our memories. This novel is a feast for lovers of literature, even more so for readers who have read the many works mentioned. Alameddine’s love of Beirut and her people is apparent: “Beirut and its denizens are famously and infamously unpredictable. Every day is an adventure. This unsteadiness makes us feel a shudder of excitement, of danger, as well as a deadweight of frustration. The spine tingles momentarily and the heart sinks.” and “A slight breath of air makes the stagnant motes waver; a handful of sunlight kindles them golden and luminous. Apollo, ever the alchemist, still sails his chariot in the skies of Beirut, wielding a philosopher’s stone. Into gold I transmute the air.” Also: “No trace of the psychological scars those battles caused can be found on any Beiruti, however. We suppress trauma so very well. We postpone the unbreathable darkness that weighs us down.” This beautiful novel has a wonderfully uplifting ending.

  • The Race Underground
    Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway
    by Doug Most

    (02/19/14): I have always been interested in history and will read almost anything, but it takes a talented author to really catch my interest like Mr. Most has with this book. Not living in an area where the subway is an option, I never really thought much about its development. This is much more than an account of the progress of mass transportation. It is the story of the people involved, from the inventors to the backers to the workers. The people are what really bring it to life and make it so enjoyable.


  • (03/20/14): "At the kitchen table she examined the glass of ice. Each cube was rounded by room temperature, dissolving in its own remains, and belatedly she understood that this was how a loved one disappeared. Despite the shock of walking into an empty flat, the absence isn’t immediate, more a fade from the present tense you shared, a melting into the past, not an erasure but a conversion in form, from presence to memory, from solid to liquid, and the person you once touched now runs over your skin, now in sheets down your back, and you may bathe, may sink, may drown in the memory, but your fingers cannot hold it." A story of three dissimilar people coping to survive in a war infested land. A story not only about war but a story intersecting three characters together through various connections. The trials facing each is the foundation for this poignant story. Marra crafted an irresistible and sensitive debut novel. A multitude of different perspectives given by the differing three protagonists. With the varying voices and viewpoints this allows the reader multiple points to consider long after the novel's cover has been gently closed. Sonja competent physician, professional. She is overworked and exhausted, her hard exterior is taking a beating. Akhmed a physician but rather be painting. Facing any situation thrown his way with strength and poise. With his artistic ability Akhmed reworks the faces of the 'disappeared' to be recovered by family. Haava an eight year girl suffering the loss of her mother, witnessing her father be taken away forcefully by soldiers and now she is residing in a hospital seeing the carnage of war daily. Other secondary characters are involved in the narrative introducing multiple facets of war affecting people - kidnapping, smuggling and more. Marra does a wonderful job covering a quantity of issues without the narrative being overdone or scattered. Marra has left quite an impression, unbelievable this was a debut effort. His elegant and lyrically rhythmic prose immediately captured my attention. Wonderfully executed from beginning to end. A memorable novel in numerous ways. A novel unmistakably worth reading.


  • (02/06/14): Kidd’s retelling of the Grimke sisters and their fight for equality for women and the abolition of slavery is told with sympathy and fact. Although much of the story is fiction, Kidd manages to remain true to the real life story of Sarah and Angelina Grimke in the days and decades before the Civil War. A number of “big names” appear in the sisters’ ongoing struggle to be heard in a male dominated South and respected in a male dominated North. The tale loses some momentum in the middle, possibly because the sisters’ actual lives also stalled in their middle years. The addition of the totally fictional characters of Charlotte and Hetty carry the story well, giving the slave side of Southern life. The horrors of slavery are graphically depicted. I can recommend this book without reservation for anyone interested in Southern life, abolition, women’s rights, and the life style and treatment of women in antebellum Charleston, South Carolina. Also interesting is the role of the church (in many permutations) in the condoning of slavery and the treatment of women. 5 of 5 stars


  • (01/24/14): I love reading about World War II because there are so many interesting aspects to this war and so many new things to learn. I knew Paris was hotbed of rumors just prior to the war but had no knowledge of the Germans who actually lived in the city. This book takes place in Paris just prior to the start of World War II. Although fiction, Mr Furst has done excellent research about Paris life in those days. I love how the action of the book continues to build till the very end. The author also doesn't waste words but simply tells a compelling story. This is a quick read with a very satisfying ending. I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks to Random House for the free book ( I won it in a contest)....I never would have picked up an Alan Furst novel and now I will be going back and reading all his prior books. His writing is truly enjoyable.


  • (01/18/14): The Book Thief is the fifth novel by Australian author, Markus Zusak. The setting is Nazi Germany just before the start of World War Two, through to 1943, and the story is narrated by Death. Death was decidedly overworked during the war, but he informs the reader that he saw young Liesel Meminger three times in those years before he finally took her much later. Liesel comes to 33 Himmel Strasse in Molchen to foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann, having just lost her younger brother, Werner to Death’s grasp. Cranky Rosa keeps the family fed with her washing and ironing service while kind Hans paints when it is needed, plays the accordion and teaches Liesel to read, all on the background of deprivation, anxiety and fear that is wartime Germany. The anxiety level rises when Max Vandenburg, a Jew, comes to hide in the basement. But the presence of this unassuming man also helps to expand Liesel’s experience of reading and of life. With her best friend, Rudy Steiner, Liesel embarks on a career of thievery, starting with apples but graduating, eventually, to books from the Mayor’s library, although her first books are acquired in quite a different manner. This much-awarded, best-selling novel looks at war from a different perspective: the effects it has on ordinary people trying to lead ordinary lives in an ordinary town. While the Fuhrer and Mein Kampf play integral parts, illustrating the use of words for evil, the emphasis is on the struggle of the common man (and woman) to do the right thing in a dangerous environment. Zusak’s characters have depth and appeal (even cranky Rosa): the banter between them often lifts the tension from serious moments with some quite black humour. Zusak is skilful with his imagery and wordplay: “He was teenage tall and had a long neck. Pimples gathered in peer groups on his face.” and “She imagined the sound of a police siren throwing itself forward and reeling itself in. Collecting itself.” are just two examples. The illustrations by Trudy White are a charming enhancement to the text. This novel has brutality, but it also has beauty. The narration style may take a little getting used to, but the reader who perseveres is rewarded with a wonderful experience. Very moving.


  • (01/10/14): The other reviews here have said it all. I want to also recommend the audio version of the book. I listened to a Hatchett Audio recording, 2013, read by Morven Christie. Her beautiful voice brought Agnes and her story to life in a way that few audio book readers have done, in my experience. Her pronunciation of the difficult Icelandic names and words sounded perfect to my ear. Highly recommended.

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