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Archives of "The BookBrowse Review": Reviews, previews, back-stories, news

February 21, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we bring you new fiction from internationally beloved author Muriel Barbery. One Hour of Fervor, translated by Alison Anderson, tells the poignant, quietly descriptive story of a Japanese art dealer separated from his daughter as she grows up halfway around the world with her French mother.

Derek B. Miller's The Curse of Pietro Houdini, another beautifully written novel focused on visual art, follows a fictional heist in World War II-era Italy.

Rebecca Boyle's Our Moon examines humans' relationship with that celestial body both faraway and familiar, and our paired Beyond the Book article explores artists' depictions of the moon.

We also review Diane Oliver's posthumous debut Neighbors and Other Stories. Comprised of writings completed before the author died tragically in 1966 at the age of 22, it offers a fresh perspective on the end of the Jim Crow era. Our accompanying article recommends other story collections centering Black American life.

Enjoy these and plenty of other articles and reviews, along with a list of 2024 debut authors to keep an eye on, a giveaway of Brandi Wells' office thriller The Cleaner and much more.

Thanks for supporting BookBrowse as a member!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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February 07, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we review a handful of books that focus on mysterious and awe-inspiring phenomena. Shubnum Khan's The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is the captivating story of a house in South Africa haunted by a djinn from the 1930s to contemporary times. An accompanying Beyond the Book article touches on the role of the djinn in Islamic folk culture. Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Karr Roberts follows four generations of women with supernatural powers descended from Ishmael, the protagonist of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Transient and Strange, a collection of essays by science journalist Nell Greenfieldboyce, combines personal experiences with a sense of wonder for the natural world.

We also cover stories that question the authority of long-standing institutions. Paul Lynch's dystopian tale Prophet Song imagines Ireland collapsing into a totalitarian state. Suzie Miller's Prima Facie, the novel based on the award-winning play of the same name, looks at how victims of sexual assault are re-victimized by legal systems. Daniel Lefferts' literary thriller Ways and Means, which follows a college student on the run after something goes wrong at his unusually high-paying job, considers the price of accruing wealth.

You can explore these along with many other articles and reviews, as well as the latest book news, recommendations for book clubs, previews of upcoming releases, a new Wordplay and more.

Thank you for being a BookBrowse member.

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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January 24, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we bring you Marie-Helene Bertino's Beautyland, the strange, funny and sad story of a girl named Adina growing up in Philadelphia who not only feels alienated from others but believes she is an actual alien from outer space sent to Earth to observe human behavior. Our accompanying Beyond the Book article explores a human creation that Adina finds deeply affecting: the album Glassworks by Philip Glass.

We also review other unusual, imaginative takes on the coming-of-age plot. Poet Kaveh Akbar's debut novel Martyr! follows Cyrus Shams, a disillusioned young man living in an Indiana college town, searching for meaning in the face of family members' seemingly meaningless deaths. Happy by Celina Baljeet Basra presents Happy Singh Soni, a boy who leaves his family's cabbage farm in India to pursue his dream of being a famous actor in Europe. Chikodili Emelumadu's Dazzling, a Nigerian boarding school drama, tells the tale of two teenage girls as they encounter otherworldly forces.

Plus, we cover Louise Kennedy's short story collection The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac, which focuses on women in contemporary Ireland, John Clinch's The General and Julia, a work of historical fiction imagining the last days of President Ulysses S. Grant, and many other books.

You can enjoy these reviews and articles, along with book club recommendations, previews of February releases, a new Wordplay and more.

Thanks for being a BookBrowse member.

Davina


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January 10, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this, our first issue of the year, we review the latest insightful offering from National Book Award winner and Pulitzer finalist Alice McDermott, Absolution, written from the perspective of American military wives living in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Sandra Newman's Julia, another work of fiction that taps into an unexplored point of view with captivating results, and the subject of a recent BookBrowse book club discussion, features as its main character the female love interest of protagonist Winston in George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984.

We also cover a couple of novels built around murder mystery plots in non-traditional ways that showcase complicated, messy characters and significant social issues. In Danielle Arceneaux's not-quite-cozy debut Glory Be, Glory is an ill-tempered but sympathetic older woman who winds up investigating a crime; our accompanying Beyond the Book article focuses on the Red Hat Society, a worldwide organization committed to helping women of all ages find fulfillment and joy. Lindsay Hunter's Hot Springs Drive is a compelling drama of two families that details the intricate before and after of a murder and the societal pressures affecting suburban mothers; in the attached article, we look at the origins and continuation of the American diet industry and how it has impacted girls and women in particular.

This issue includes plenty of additional reviews and articles to kick off your January reading, previews of upcoming releases, a new Wordplay and much more.

Thanks for supporting BookBrowse by being a member. We look forward to bringing you the best new releases of 2024!

Davina Morgan-Witts
BookBrowse Publisher

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December 06, 2023

Dear BookBrowsers,

Welcome to our last issue of 2023, where we bring you the Top 20 Books of the Year as selected by our subscribers, along with our Award Winners across four categories. Among the featured Top 20 are two books we've reviewed especially for this issue due to a high number of write-in votes for both: Matthew Desmond's Poverty, by America, a brilliant and compassionate dissection of systemic inequality in the United States, and Shelley Read's Go as a River, a compelling story set in a Colorado peach orchard that follows a woman navigating adulthood from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Our Top Debut award this year goes to In Memoriam by Alice Winn, the poignant tale of a romance between two young British men set amid the horrors of World War I.

The winner of the Top Fiction award is Abraham Verghese's captivating The Covenant of Water, which unfolds alongside multiple generations of a family living in South India as they suffer from a strange affliction.

Our subscribers' pick for Top Nonfiction is David Grann's The Wager, an extraordinary account of the mutiny, fight for survival and eventual trial following the 18th-century wreck of a British warship, the HMS Wager.

And the winner of our Top YA award is Jacqueline Woodson's Remember Us, an evocative coming-of-age story set in Bushwick, New York, during a period of the 1970s when the neighborhood was plagued by relentless housefires.

The remainder of the Top 20 features impactful books by established authors, including Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward, The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng and The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride. A notable debut making the list is Wendy Chin-Tanner's work of historical fiction King of the Armadillos, which focuses on Chinese American teenager Victor Chin as he receives treatment for Hansen's disease (leprosy) in a federal institute in 1950s Louisiana. Chin-Tanner's novel is just one of many books reviewed by our First Impressions readers this year, all of which you can browse in this issue.

Plus, unwind and test your literary knowledge with two quizzes: Our annual Big Holiday Wordplay, now a beloved tradition for 22 years; and a new quiz to see if you can match the Best of Year books to their opening lines!

Thank you for supporting BookBrowse as a member, and thank you to everyone who voted for the Top 20 this year!

Davina Morgan-Witts
BookBrowse Publisher

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November 15, 2023

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we bring you some riveting fiction debuts loaded with suspense to fill the long winter days ahead. Ritu Mukerji's historical mystery Murder by Degrees follows Lydia Weston, a 19th-century Philadelphia physician who fights to prove her capabilities as a doctor while investigating the death of a patient. Raul Palma's supernatural thriller A Haunting in Hialeah Gardens tells the story of Hugo Contreras, a Bolivian immigrant in Florida who helps people being haunted by ghosts for a living and must assist the man whose collection firm is harassing him over a debt. Emily Critchley's One Puzzling Afternoon focuses on Edie Green, a woman struggling with dementia who is determined to solve the case of her friend's disappearance from their small English village more than 60 years ago.

Those looking for something lighter and more futuristic can check out our coverage of A City on Mars by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, an irreverent but informative illustrated guide to what human colonization of space would involve. In an accompanying Beyond the Book article, we consider novels that offer a fictionalized depiction of life on Mars.

We also review North Woods, Daniel Mason's centuries-spanning story of a single patch of land in Western Massachusetts, in conjunction with our recent book club discussion. And we look at David Bowles' own historical epic The Prince and the Coyote, a work of young adult fiction about the life of the crown prince Acolmiztli in pre-Columbian Mexico.

We invite you to explore our many other reviews and articles, a new Wordplay, our list of the best novels for book clubs in 2024 and much more.

Thank you for being a BookBrowse member.

Davina Morgan-Witts
BookBrowse Publisher

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November 01, 2023

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we review The House of Doors, in which Booker-listed author Tan Twan Eng evocatively imagines early-20th-century Penang, Malaysia and the time spent there by two real-life historical figures: English novelist W. Somerset Maugham and Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen.

Several other new works of fiction from acclaimed writers also paint a vivid sense of place. Tananarive Due's The Reformatory is a horrific tale of a reform school in the Jim Crow South with a supernatural twist. Jacqueline Woodson's latest young adult novel, Remember Us, places a resonant coming-of-age story in the historically fire-ravaged neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. (These titles are based on true events that we explore further in Beyond the Book articles on the use of DNA to identify remains at the Dozier School for Boys and the fires that devastated New York City in the 1970s.) A new fiction collection from Jhumpa Lahiri, Roman Stories, offers an intriguing glance into modern Rome and its people. And Kij Johnson's The Privilege of the Happy Ending takes the reader through a series of fanciful locations and introduces a wide cast of unexpected characters, including talking animals and inhabitants of the realm of dreams.

Plus, we review Mustafa Suleyman's nonfiction book The Coming Wave, a deeply informative and clear-eyed look at the spread of AI technology and its implications for the future.

You can enjoy many other reviews and articles in this issue, along with a selection of the best author interviews of 2023, a new Wordplay and much more.

Thanks for being a BookBrowse member.

Davina Morgan-Witts
BookBrowse Publisher

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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.