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

July 14, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we bring you multiple reviews and Beyond the Book articles that feature women pushing back against the societal strictures that tried to contain them. Samantha Silva's Love and Fury is a sensitive and inspiring work of historical fiction about the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). In our Beyond the Book article, we look at Wollstonecraft's legacy in the almost 225 years following her death.

In The Woman They Could Not Silence, Kate Moore explores the life of Elizabeth Packard, a woman who was forcibly committed to a mental institution by her husband in 1860 because of her "impassioned eloquence." Packard fought for her freedom at trial and won, and she also launched a public awareness campaign about the mistreatment of women and the mentally ill, seeking to protect others from being similarly abused.

Walking on Cowrie Shells, the phenomenal debut short story collection by Nana Nkweti, features a range of female characters, many of whom face challenges related to societal expectations. In our Beyond the Book article, we cover the 1929 Women's War in Nigeria, a series of protests against the oppression of British colonial rule.

We also have two recently opened Book Club discussions on books about strong women breaking through boundaries, so if you have read The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood or Yale Needs Women by Anne Gardiner Perkins, make sure to stop by and join the conversation.

The next issue of The BookBrowse Review will be out in three weeks instead of the usual two, but this issue is larger than most with 20 reviews total, so hopefully you will have plenty to read between now and then. Enjoy!

Your editor,
Davina

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June 23, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

May 31st marked the 100-year anniversary of the race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the date was commemorated by a renewed push toward educating Americans about this devastating event and how its repercussions reverberate through the present day. In this issue, we review historian Scott Ellsworth's The Ground Breaking, a deeply informative and often moving exploration of the aftermath of the massacre and the contemporary search for the remains of the victims a century later.

In a fictionalized account of a historical event, young adult author Stacey Lee's Luck of the Titanic brings to light the little-told story of the Chinese passengers aboard the doomed titular ship. While Lee's characters are her own inventions, our Beyond the Book article explores what little is known about the real Chinese passengers aboard the Titanic.

We also review new releases from two very popular authors, Joan Silber's novel-in-stories Secrets of Happiness, and Andy Weir's space travel odyssey Project Hail Mary. The latter comes with a fun and informative Beyond the Book article on the evolution of the U.S. spacesuit.

Also, make sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a copy of J. Michael Straczynski's new novel, Together We Will Go.

Enjoy!

Your editor,
Davina

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June 09, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we have five-star reviews for the latest novels by two award-winning authors. They feature a common thread of narrators revisiting the past in an attempt to make sense of the present. In Whereabouts, Jhumpa Lahiri depicts a woman shadowed by her own loneliness and memories through an unspecified Italian city. Lahiri wrote the book in Italian and translated it into English, and our Beyond the Book article explores more authors who have written in languages other than their native tongue.

Francisco Goldman's Monkey Boy features a narrator returning to the Boston of his youth, reliving incidents of violence and family turmoil, but also the glow of a formative first love. It's an autobiographical novel, and Goldman and his fictional counterpart in the novel, Francisco Goldberg, share a history as journalists in Latin America. Our Beyond the Book article looks at the Guatemalan Civil War, one of the subjects of the author's reportage.

We also have multiple debut novels that scored five stars from our reviewers. Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a dynamic fictional time capsule from the 1970s about a rock 'n' roll duo, while Eric Nguyen's Things We Lost to the Water is a lyrical family drama about Vietnamese immigrants living in New Orleans in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Plus, don't forget to check out the previews for upcoming releases and the new Wordplay.

Enjoy!

Your editor,
Davina

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May 19, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

Since you subscribe to BookBrowse, it's probably a safe assumption that you have some degree of interest in not just books themselves but also writers and language; and in this issue all three come together with a running theme of books and the craft of writing.

The Plot is the latest slow-burn thriller from Jean Hanff Korelitz, whose novel You Should Have Known was recently adapted by HBO into the miniseries The Undoing starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. The Plot is centered around a writer who steals an idea from one of his MFA students. He is vaunted into literary stardom, but psychologically tormented by someone who knows the truth about the idea's origins. In our Beyond the Book article, we discuss the benefits, or possible lack thereof, of creative writing MFA programs.

Pip Williams' The Dictionary of Lost Words offers readers a fictionalized look at the composition of the Oxford English Dictionary through the eyes of a young woman who develops a fascination with obscure words. In the accompanying Beyond the Book article, we offer a reading list of books about the history of the OED and words that have fallen out of use.

Our review of The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano features a reading list of books about making the choice to become (or not to become) a mother, and our review of The Paris Hours runs with a brief biography of Gertrude Stein, the 20th century American writer well-known for her inventive experimentation with language.

We also have a new Wordplay — always popular with language lovers — plus previews of books publishing between now and our next issue; it's a bumper crop of more than 50 titles because it's a busy time of year and there's three weeks until the first of our two June issues on June 9.

Enjoy!

Your editor,
Davina

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May 05, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

Our reviews in this issue feature several interesting Beyond the Book articles revolving around mythology. In the article accompanying the powerhouse YA debut novel The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, we look at the "monstrous women" of myth and literature who subvert the strictures of patriarchy designating how a woman is supposed to behave. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan's Starling Days is centered around a classical scholar, and our accompanying article highlights the character's interest in "Women Who Survived" the myths in which they appear, such as Odysseus's wife Penelope and Leda, who was seduced (or attacked) by Zeus in the guise of a swan.

In Genesis, Italian author and physicist Guido Tonelli guides readers through the origins of the universe, drawing parallels between the science and stories from Greek and other cultural mythologies. Our Beyond the Book article covers the creation myths Tonelli incorporates into his narrative, from the titular Book of Genesis to the Norse myth of the giant Ymir and his cow companion Audhumla.

We also have a new blog post focusing on the Most Popular Book Club Books of 2020, and a brand new Wordplay. Fans of humorous animal-related idioms may want to check out the answer to the previous puzzle, pigs might fly.

We feature plenty of other reviews and Beyond the Book articles inside, plus previews of upcoming releases and more.

Enjoy!

Your editor,
Davina

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April 21, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we look at two books that offer valuable insight on preserving the environment, with particular focus on protecting endangered or otherwise vulnerable species of plants and animals. In Rescuing the Planet, journalist Tony Hiss explores the movement to protect 50 percent of the land in North America. Traveling throughout the continent, he highlights the work of scientists, activists and ecologists who are working to make this effort a reality.

In Under a White Sky, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Elizabeth Kolbert looks at some of the unorthodox ways scientists are attempting to protect the Earth and preserve species around the world, from electrocuting invasive Asian carp to fortifying coral reefs so they might survive warmer ocean temperatures. In our Beyond the Book article for this review, we discuss how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) might be powerful tools to protect people and animals from the adverse effects of climate change.

We also have reviews for some exciting new fiction releases, like Three O'Clock in the Morning, a novel by Italian author Gianrico Carofiglio about a burgeoning relationship between a father and his teenage son, set against the backdrop of the French city of Marseilles.

In addition to these and many more reviews, this issue contains a new Wordplay and previews of upcoming releases, including books by Jhumpa Lahiri, Joan Silber and Rachel Cusk; plus, the results of our recent survey of book club members to discover their all-time favorite authors to read and discuss, and their favorite book club books of 2020.

Enjoy!

Your editor,
Davina

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April 07, 2021

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we feature reviews of new releases from two very popular award-winning authors. Best known for the Southern Reach trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer's latest, Hummingbird Salamander, is a speculative thriller about a woman plunged into a mystery involving the fate of a suspected ecoterrorist, a taxidermied hummingbird and deforestation in the Pacific Northwest. It's an action-packed blend of genres cleverly orchestrated by an author who's not afraid to experiment.

The new short story collection from Haruki Murakami, First Person Singular, considers the ephemeral nature of memory using some of the author's favorite subjects — music, baseball and women, among others. With his trademark wit and playful touches of magical realism, Murakami guides the reader through complex human emotions, like regret and nostalgia.

We also look at Mary H.K. Choi's third young adult novel, Yolk, which centers around two Korean American sisters living in New York City and contending with issues related to illness, identity and unpredictability. The accompanying Beyond the Book article for this review is a poignant personal reflection on Asian American representation on television.

Make sure to also check out our latest Book Club Q&A with a representative from Darien Public Library in Connecticut.

Enjoy and stay well.

Your editor,
Davina

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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.