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

July 17, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, Kate Quinn's The Briar Club, a mystery centered on a murder at a boardinghouse in 1950s Washington, D.C., brings the McCarthy era to life through a striking cast of complex women. Our accompanying Beyond the Book article covers the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the film A League of Their Own.

A different major American city features in Yasmin Zaher's The Coin, the bizarre story of a Palestinian woman pursuing glamour, control, and cleanliness in contemporary New York. Michael Deagler's Early Sobrieties gives readers a vivid summer tour of Philadelphia through the eyes of Dennis Monk, a young man from suburban Bucks County who has finally gotten sober. In Akira Otani's The Night of Baba Yaga, two women with starkly different pasts team up to go on the run from the yakuza in 1970s Tokyo. Hari Kunzru's Blue Ruin alternates between upstate New York during pandemic lockdown and London of the late 20th century while following the life trajectories of a group of artists. The Anthropologists by Aysegül Savas is set in an unnamed city that forms a backdrop for the quiet reflections of narrator and documentary filmmaker Asya. Henry Wise's Holy City refers with its title to Richmond, Virginia, where deputy sheriff Will Seems spent the last ten years, but takes place in the rural Southside region where he is faced with solving a crime intertwined with his own past. Chuck Tingle's Bury Your Gays satirizes modern Hollywood and skewers the use of AI in the entertainment industry.

Another novel commenting on the dangers of AI is Toward Eternity, the debut of Korean-to-English translator Anton Hur, which considers the ties between language and humanity through artificial beings. And for those who long to escape the constraints of the city and technological strife, Olivia Laing's The Garden Against Time is a lush, wild adventure of a book exploring how private and public interests have been bound up in the creation and maintenance of gardens.

Besides these, we bring you many other reviews and articles, a piece on how authors have responded to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the latest book news, a fresh Wordplay, and much more.

Thank you for subscribing to BookBrowse!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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June 19, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we celebrate Juneteenth with several Beyond the Book articles highlighting aspects of Black American history. Our review of Nicola Yoon's One of Our Kind, a social horror story set in a Black utopian suburb, is accompanied by a piece about plans for real-world Black utopian societies. With We Refuse, Kellie Carter Jackson's account of the use of force in Black resistance to white supremacy, we focus on desegregation activist Daisy Bates. In addition to these books by Black authors, Stephen Puleo's The Great Abolitionist, about anti-slavery advocate Charles Sumner, examines the Sarah Roberts case, in which Boston school segregation was challenged by one of the country's first Black attorneys a century before Brown v. Board of Education.

We also include an exclusive interview with Carvell Wallace, who writes about Blackness, queerness, faith, beauty, Mister Rogers, and much more in his memoir-in-essays Another Word for Love.

Like Wallace's book, Sarah Perry's novel Enlightenment explores sexuality and spirituality, in this case through two friends belonging to the same church who both experience feelings that conflict with their religion. Another character-based work of fiction, Mood Swings by Frankie Barnet, envisions an apocalyptic society where animals have turned on humans. Ananda Lima's Craft delivers on a different intense premise with a short story collection revolving around a narrator who has been inspired to write for the devil. And Briony Cameron's bracing The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye fictionalizes the adventures of a Haitian woman pirate who may have lived in the 17th century.

We invite you to check out these reviews and articles along with many others, 4 Banned LGBTQ+ Books to Read During Pride Month, a new Wordplay, a giveaway of Joanna Pearson's debut thriller Bright and Tender Dark, and much more.

Thank you for being a BookBrowse member!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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June 05, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we review Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris, a powerful tale of siblings reuniting to save their family home from developers after their father's death. The novel is the subject of an ongoing book club discussion, and our accompanying Beyond the Book article looks at discriminatory land policies faced by generations of Black farmers in America.

R.O. Kwon's exhilarating Exhibit follows Jin, a photographer undergoing a crisis as she begins an extramarital affair with a ballerina and struggles with her art. In Allen Bratton's Henry Henry, another story involving the weight of social expectations (and a modern-day queer retelling of Shakespeare's Henriad), Hal is set to inherit his father's title of Duke of Lancaster but is not at all prepared. Alina Grabowski's Women and Children First ponders the why of a teenage girl's death in a coastal Massachusetts town through multiple perspectives, while Stuart Turton's The Last Murder at the End of the World brings the mystery genre to a post-apocalyptic society.

For those craving reading lighter in heft and price but not substance, we bring you some exciting paperback originals: Uche Okonkwo's story collection A Kind of Madness, where characters in contemporary Nigeria navigate absurd interpersonal situations; Samantha Mills' The Wings Upon Her Back, a fantasy novel about a dedicated warrior's reexamination of her beliefs; and K-Ming Chang's Cecilia, a provocative novella detailing a young woman's erotic obsession with her childhood friend.

Meanwhile, in a reassuring take on faith and love, seasoned novelist Anne Lamott brings wisdom to the page in her essay collection Somehow.

Explore additional articles and reviews, book club recommendations, our list of 19th Century Historical Fiction, and more.

Thank you for being a BookBrowse subscriber!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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May 15, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we review Colm Tóibín's Long Island, the long-awaited sequel to Brooklyn that catches up with Eilis Lacey two decades later, following her on a trip from New York back to Enniscorthy, Ireland. The Alternatives by Caoilinn Hughes also features a return to an Irish locale, telling the story of three sisters reuniting to find the fourth, a Galway geologist who has gone missing in the countryside.

Real Americans by Rachel Khong is a layered multigenerational story about a Chinese scientist escaping the Cultural Revolution to do research in America, as well as the lives of her daughter and grandson. Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung delves further back in Chinese history with its tale of a mother and three daughters who flee to Taiwan due to the Communist victory of the late 1940s.

While some voyages are made for specific purposes, others can be meandering and ongoing. In Douglas Westerbeke's A Short Walk Through a Wide World, a young girl must stay on the move to keep a magical illness at bay. Miranda July's All Fours focuses on a middle-aged woman who attempts to brave a cross-country road trip solo, only to be derailed by an affair that changes her forever. Nell Irvin Painter's essay collection I Just Keep Talking reflects a historian and artist's lifelong journey of scholarship and thought about Black American experience, travel abroad and many other subjects.

Accompanying these reviews are several Beyond the Book articles that expand on the people and motivations behind the work, addressing Chung's inspirations for her novel, librarians who have turned to writing, like Westerbeke, July's previous books and films, and the strange fictions surrounding Sojourner Truth, a figure of interest for Painter.

We also bring you coverage of other recently released books, along with a brief history of the Pulitzer Prize, a Wordplay, a giveaway of Danielle Steel's latest historical novel Only the Brave and much more.

Thank you for subscribing to BookBrowse!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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May 01, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we review the latest novel from Xochitl Gonzalez, Anita de Monte Laughs Last, which brings rollicking energy and insightful social critique to the story of two Latina women navigating racism and sexism in the spheres of art and academia. Our accompanying Beyond the Book article focuses on the real-life artist Ana Mendieta, on whom the character Anita de Monte is based.

Seasoned history writer Erik Larson is back with The Demon of Unrest, a suspenseful and informative telling of the tense months leading up to the American Civil War. The recent poetry collection from Hala Alyan, The Moon That Turns You Back, tackles experiences of violence from a contemporary Palestinian American and Arab diaspora perspective, covering themes of displacement, occupation and loss. Another book of poems with wide-reaching relevance today is J. Drew Lanham's Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves, a series of reflections on nature that connect to the reality of ongoing everyday brutality that Black Americans face. Along with these engaging and accessible collections, we bring you reading lists of literature by Palestinian American women and books exploring the age-old relationship between humans and birds.

Those wanting to get lost in a captivating novel of multigenerational history this spring or summer need look no further than Jo Piazza's The Sicilian Inheritance, the story of a woman seeking to solve a family mystery in gorgeous present-day Sicily. Ferdia Lennon's Glorious Exploits follows inhabitants of ancient Sicily whose dialogue is rendered curiously (but perhaps fittingly) in modern Irish vernacular. We also review two unique young adult tales of love: K. Ancrum's Icarus, a queer romance set in the world of art thievery, and Judy I. Lin's Song of the Six Realms, a take on Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca that unfolds in a fantasy universe inspired by Chinese mythology.

You can enjoy these and other reviews and articles, along with The Most Popular Book Club Historical Fiction of 2023, previews of upcoming titles, the latest book news, a fresh Wordplay and much more.

Thanks for being a BookBrowse member!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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April 17, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

Percival Everett, a quietly prolific writer of noteworthy novels over the past four decades, may have gained a new audience from the recent Oscar-nominated film American Fiction, based on his 2003 book Erasure. His latest work, James, reimagines Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the perspective of Huck's companion Jim. Our accompanying Beyond the Book article covers similar retellings of other classic tales, such as Albert Camus' The Stranger and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

A main theme of Everett's novel is language, as it shows Jim and other enslaved people of Twain's time using strategic code switching to protect themselves. Linguist Anne Curzan explores related topics in Says Who?, which looks at how power dynamics have historically affected what is considered "standard" English, and strives for a flexible, inclusive and fun approach to grammar. Those interested in social aspects of history may also love bestselling author Leigh Bardugo's scintillating latest, The Familiar, which follows Luzia, a servant with a magical secret, during the tumultuous time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Meanwhile, Hampton Sides' The Wide Wide Sea and Jessica J. Lee's Dispersals both tackle past journeys with aplomb — the last voyage of Captain James Cook and the movements of various plants across land and sea, respectively.

And readers craving the cream of contemporary literary fiction will find much to savor in Rachel Lyon's Fruit of the Dead, a thoroughly modern retelling of the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

We invite you to enjoy these and many other reviews and articles, The Most Popular Book Club Books of 2023 according to our subscribers, previews of upcoming titles, a new Wordplay and much more.

Thank you for being a BookBrowse member. We appreciate your support!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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April 03, 2024

Dear BookBrowsers,

In this issue, we bring you Change, the autofictional novel from Édouard Louis, translated from the French by John Lambert, that continues from his bestselling debut The End of Eddy. In this new work, Eddy attempts to transcend his childhood of poverty and homophobic abuse via social ascent, and our accompanying Beyond the Book article considers how Louis has been influenced in his writing by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu.

Another fresh release from a well-loved author is Amor Towles' story collection Table for Two, including the 1930s Los Angeles-set novella "Eve in Hollywood," which gives his fans an abundance of material to enjoy along with the new TV series A Gentleman in Moscow. History also unfolds in the Billie Holiday biography Bitter Crop, Paul Alexander's evocative account of Lady Day's last year, and in Stephanie Dray's novel Becoming Madam Secretary, following the life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and the first woman to serve as a United States cabinet member. Carys Davies' Clear sets a story of intimate connection between two men against the backdrop of Scotland's Highland Clearances in the 19th century.

Under This Red Rock by Mindy McGinnis is a unique young adult thriller featuring a teenage girl who experiences auditory hallucinations and must unravel the mystery around the death of a beloved coworker. The Last Bloodcarver by Vanessa Le, another exciting YA offering, combines steampunk aesthetics with inspiration from Vietnamese culture to craft the fantastical story of a young woman with the power to change human biology through magic.

You can read these reviews and articles along with many others, author interviews, book club recommendations, a new Wordplay and more.

Thanks for being a BookBrowse member!

Davina & Nick
Founder & Publisher

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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.