Reviews by Sandi W.

Power Reviewer  Power Reviewer

Note: This page displays reviews using the email address you currently use to login to BookBrowse. If you have changed your email address during the time you have been a member your older reviews will not show. If that is the case, please email us with any older email addresses you have used for BookBrowse, and we will do our best to link these older reviews to your current profile.
Order Reviews by:
The Heart's Invisible Furies: A Novel
by John Boyne
Another Boyne master piece.... (7/26/2017)
I have read a couple of John Boyne books before, so I was prepared for anything. Boyne takes on hard subjects and presents them relentlessly. I am aware that his themes and character development are beyond reproach. This particular book sucked me into its world. I found it to be a work far more subtle and powerful than the ordinary novel.

We followed Cyril Avery for 70 odd years - from the 1940s to 2015. The novel set in Ireland, Amsterdam and New York City covered man's nonacceptance of his fellow man, starting with the pregnancy of the unmarried woman in the 1940s and continuing through to gay bashing in the 1990s.

This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and most of all, it made me think. It read like a 300 page book, not the approximate 600 pages that it really is. Throughout there were strings randomly crisscrossing, and when they started to align, it lead to a very acceptable and well developed conclusion. Another great novel by Boyne.

Thank you Penguin Random House and BookBrowse for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Publication expected August 22, 2017. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
by Fredrik Backman
Not my cup of tea... (6/29/2017)
Let me start by saying I have loved all the other books I have read by Fredrick Backman, because...
I am sure that my review of this book will go against the main stream....however....

Had this been the first book I read by Backman I would have stopped there. I really disliked this book. The absolute only redeeming quality that I felt it had was the cross over of characters from his other books. Luckily I had already read "A Man Called Ove" and "Britt-Marie".
I felt that there was way too much time and too many pages put into the fairy tales. A bit of back story was needed, but I was tired of the non-stop fairly tale descriptions long before Granny died.
I finished this book, but it took all I had to continue to pick it back up. I tried hard not to gladly tossed it aside.
This being his second book I would have thought it to be much better, having enjoyed his first and third books. Too much nonsensical idiotic fantasy descriptions for my liking. I could not even disguise this stuff as magical realism. Definitely not my cup of tea.
When She Woke: A Novel
by Hillary Jordan
Man's inhumanity to man (6/29/2017)
I enjoyed this book with its parallel to the Scarlet Letter. It shows what inhumanities our society is capable of. Altho Hannah would not have been my friend I could empathize with her.The writing made me push for a conclusion. 3.5 stars
The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel
by Elizabeth L. Silver
The difference of a few chapters.... (6/29/2017)
Starting this book I had high expectations - the synopsis was good, the premise was wide open and I was ready for the best. The first quarter of the book was left to details of Noa's life , prior trial and prison. I did feel that this may have lasted a bit longer than was necessary ~~ background is good, but after a while you just want to move on with the story and get to the meat of the book. With that said, I do believe that this is Silver's first novel and all in all this was a minor flaw in an overall good book. The next half of the book dealt with Noa's crime and her imprisonment. This was never in question ~~ she was guilty ~~ and calmly awaiting her execution date. However in the last quarter of the book was when the plot thickened. This is the portion of the story that took me from 3 stars to 4 stars. For a new author I felt that the cause and effect elements and the number of surprises in this last portion were excellent. Things were not as they had appeared and twists just kept coming. Well worth the slow beginning to see it appear much differently as the story ends. This is an author that I will definitely read again.
The Stars Are Fire
by Anita Shreve
Not only surviving but prospering... (6/14/2017)
4.5 stars

Few people can write like Anita Shreve. Once she determines a topic she takes control.
This is the story of a woman not only surviving but prospering.
Due to a fast moving wild fire following a drought in Maine in 1947, many towns and cities were totally wiped out. Grace, pregnant, is alone with her two children to make her way to safety, her husband Gene has left to fight the fires. Nothing is saved. The small family is rescued, none to soon, and given shelter by a loving couple whose home skirted the fire. Gene is missing. Grace takes control and makes decisions that are best for her, her children and her Mother, who also survived. The next year is both heaven and hell for Grace. She goes through the best of times and the worst of times, until once again she is homeless. However her plight is not yet over.
This is a story of courage and sacrifice. It follows the ups and downs of both marriage and life in general; the deepest of valleys and brightest of days, turmoil and peace.
House of Names
by Colm Toibin
Greek Tragedy (6/14/2017)
I tell you this man can take a muddy puddle and make you think it is a fresh spring shower!!
I thought I was done with mythology back in college. I had two literature classes devoted to mythology and thought I had read and reviewed it all. However, with all the authors coming out with up to date revised books on the Bard and mythology I am thoroughly enjoying the stories.
This is not only one of my favorite authors, but it is his rendition of a Greek tragedy. Toibin's writing literally just takes me away.
This is the story of King Agamemnon and his betrayal of his family, as he focuses on the coming war. The death of one daughter, the loss of his son and then the revenge of his wife takes place. His wife having taken in an enemy of the kingdom, to help her plot her revenge, gets her remaining daughter to lie for her and in the name of protection, exiles her son at the hand of her accompanying accomplice. Years go by before the son finds his way home, but not until after the death of his father. The two remaining children must then put the kingdom back to it rights - however they can.
Written beautifully, Toibin carries you through the times and customs of this Greek tragedy as if you were reading a current day novel.
No One Is Coming to Save Us
by Stephanie Powell Watts
No connection... (4/30/2017)
Sorry to say I found no connection to this book. I did not connect with the characters or the story. I saw little to no resemblance to the classic The Great Gatsby. I was however able to make each character's association to this book title. They all had varying problems and were looking for a savior.
I think the author did a good job of making you visualize her characters. You could even see them through their speech, although there were parts of this story that for me just did not make any sense. One conversation between Jay and Sylvia, about Barack Obama, went from him saying he "missed his mother and they weren't making him president" to Sylvia saying, in the very next line, that she "had not changed her phone number. " I saw absolutely no connection there, nor in a couple of other instances where this separation of thought happened.
Other than a basic liking of Jay - aka J J - I did not like any other character. Sylvia was worn out and boring. She did not seem to have a very good grasp at times. She did things that the normal woman her age would never do - however desperate she was. Ava was a spoiled brat, too good for those around her. She had had her share of problems, but gave me the impression she expected others to clear them up for her as she whined about her life's position. Jay seemed to be the only smart one of the bunch, even though he was deceiving himself that what he originally ran from, would wait for him. Most of these characters make a shift towards the end of the book, but for me it was way too late by then.

I will try this author again, in hopes of relating better to a different book. Thank you to Book Browse for the book in exchange for an honest review.
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Dysfunctional... (4/23/2017)
2.5 stars
The story line in this novel was a great idea. It started out with a lot of potential. The authors prose was easy to read and I felt overall her words moved well. The problem stemmed from all the unneeded characters and extras that were thrown into this story. They were very confusing, drug the premise of the story down, parts were just plain boring, hard for any main character follow through, and just way too many characters. Although easy to read, page by page, this book was easy to put down and hard to pick back up.

This is the story of 4 siblings who expected to gain a sizeable inheritance from their deceased father, once the youngest turned 40 years old. However before that happened one of the siblings got into a bad car wreck and their mother, guardian of the inheritance, signed away all the money to keep that child out of litigation. The story tells of each siblings reason for needing the money and how the one who benefited from all the money planned to pay his sibling back.
Slade House
by David Mitchell
Every Nine Years (4/3/2017)
Slade House was built in 1930. It was razed in 1940. But...life went on in Slade House - at least for one night every nine years.

I felt I was confused during the first 50 pages or so of this book. Then it all fell together. However, nothing was as I expected. The words I would use to describe this novel would give the story away, therefore I will list a few of the words used in the story, such as, aperture, orison and lacuna, and you can come to your own conclusions.
Mischling
by Affinity Konar
A Sad and Difficult Story (4/3/2017)
Twist on a WWII theme. This book spoke to the Holocaust in 1944 and the imprisoning of twins, triplets and children with unusual defects into the pet project of Josef Mengele - Mengeles Zoo at Auschwitz. It focuses on one set of twins, Pearl and Sasha. How they survived, their friends, the differing experiments they were subjected to, the medical staff in Auschwitz, their eventual liberation and the events that followed.

The story was told in alternating chapters by Pearl and Sasha. You know going in that this book will be sad, heartbreaking, and at times very hard to read. It was all that and more. Not a lot has been written about Mengeles experiments in fiction form. This book does a good job of telling a sad and difficult story.
Mischling
by Affinity Konar
A Sad and Difficult Story (4/3/2017)
Twist on a WWII theme. This book spoke to the Holocaust in 1944 and the imprisoning of twins, triplets and children with unusual defects into the pet project of Josef Mengele - Mengeles Zoo at Auschwitz. It focuses on one set of twins, Pearl and Sasha. How they survived, their friends, the differing experiments they were subjected to, the medical staff in Auschwitz, their eventual liberation and the events that followed.

The story was told in alternating chapters by Pearl and Sasha. You know going in that this book will be sad, heartbreaking, and at times very hard to read. It was all that and more. Not a lot has been written about Mengeles experiments in fiction form. This book does a good job of telling a sad and difficult story.
A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles
Lifetime Exile (4/3/2017)
Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentenced to life, a life lived in the Hotel Metropol - never to leave its doors. Then taken from his elegant suite and relegated to an attic room to spend his life.

It is through his various friends and acquaintances, Nina, Sophia, Anna, Osip, Mikhail and the staff at the hotel that Sasha survives this exile.

This book is breathtaking. The lyrical prose of this novel lulls you into the early 20th century as you image the sights and sounds of Russia. It flows so smoothly that the words just seem to melt away, leaving you with a contented feeling, a need to continue with this mellow hazy sensibility, eating in paragraph after paragraph and continually seeking more.
The Mothers
by Brit Bennett
Plethora of Human Issues (4/3/2017)
A debut book that hits on a plethora of human issues - teen pregnancy, suicide, and abortion among others. It was the intertwined stories of Aubrey, Nadia, and Luke, three black teens in San Diego, and how the choices they made, the secrets they kept and the regrets they had, shaped their destinies.
At times I felt like this novel was like moving puzzle pieces toward a completion that just never quite fit together. I felt the ending to this story was overly abrupt. This book just did not pull at my heart strings, as I had hoped it would.
With that said, Bennett is a new author and one I will watch and read again, in hopes of benefiting from her continued writing experience.
Girl in Disguise
by Greer Macallister
First Female Pinkerton (4/3/2017)
This novel was inspired by the real life of Kate Warne.
In the style of Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun series or Emily McCabe's I Shall Be Near to You, Greer Macallister does a fine job of making you visualize the first female Pinkerton agent in 1856. Not only Allan Pinkerton, but Chicago has their hands full when it comes to Agent Kate Warne's detective sleuth. Unaccepted initially by her co-workers - all male - Warne is a force to be reckoned with. Through thick and thin she remains stoic, reliable and an excellent operative.
Macallister does an excellent job of research and recreating a factual person. With little known about Kate Warne, the author develops a great historical account of her life and her tenure with the Pinkerton, even though most records pertaining to Warne were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson
Karma (4/3/2017)
This novel grabbed me in the first few pages and I had trouble putting it down. Not only is Joshilyn Jackson an accomplished writer, she is entertaining and imaginative.

Written in first person, Attorney Paula Vauss, aka Kali Jai, leads us down a winding lane of chaos, intermingling sadness, happiness, loss, redemption, love and family transformation along the way. From the days of traveling with her wild eccentric Mother to the lonely days of state placement to the "love 'um and leave 'um" lifestyle she maintains as an adult, we meet the people who hold her interest and influence her along the way. Continually paying off her "debt" to her Mother, Paula suddenly finds herself a sibling. Not once, but twice.

"You know how Karma works", is the final piece of the puzzle her dying Hindu-mythology-loving Mother leaves for her, as it changes her life forever.
Underground Airlines
by Ben Winters
The Day of Difference (4/3/2017)
Victor/Jim/Brother is a contracted, owned bounty hunter, a tracker, by any and all names. He is a black man, forced into hunting black men. This is set in the present day. The catch is that our present day is not as we know it to be. The Civil War never took place, and even though slavery was finally abolished, there are still 4 states in the United States, called the Hard Four, that still condone and practice slavery.

This story relates one such case for Victor, tracking a run away slave, and then the twists begin.

The writing moved along very well as it describes our changed but present day. Under this new framework the characters are believable and the plot viable.

A new author for me, but one I hope to continue to read.

3.5 stars for the story and .5 star for the premise of the novel.
The One-in-a-Million Boy
by Monica Wood
Age is only a number.... (3/15/2017)
A fantastic and heartwarming story about an unlikely friendship between an 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant and a 11-year-old Boy Scout. The bond they share is uniquely special, and will definitely touch your heart.
It really was best not knowing too much of this story beforehand and letting it just unfold as it goes. You are in good hands as Monica Wood delivers a well written story that will make you think about life and those that you share it with. This book is heartbreaking, no doubt about it, but there is beauty too that alleviates the sadness and makes this a book about growth, personal discovery and how we view both ourselves and others.
I laughed and I cried. This book will take you by surprise.
The Underground Railroad: A Novel
by Colson Whitehead
Unconventional slant (3/15/2017)
An escape through the underground railroad. We may have read many novels in relation to this historical event, but none like Colson Whiteheads version.
During this pre-civil war saga, our protagonist Cora is determined to escape her owner and make it north to freedom. This will take more than one attempt and clearing numerous obstacles out of her way. She learns that she is very naive and true freedom is very hard to come by. With the help of both Caesar, a bound slave on the run, and Royal, a free black man, Cora slips the chains of the notorious slave catcher, Ridgeway. Always compared to her mother, the only slave to gain her freedom through escape into the swamp, Cora endures many hardships as she struggles to find freedom. With the help of Whiteheads unconventional underground railroad this story takes a novel twist.
Well researched, smooth writing, both likeable and despicable characters move this story right along. A small turn of magical realism slants this story in a novel way.
Underground Airlines
by Ben Winters
Suspend reality and just read.... (3/15/2017)
Victor/Jim/Brother is a contracted, owned bounty hunter, a tracker, by any and all names. He is a black man, forced into hunting black men. This is set in the present day. The catch is that our present day is not as we know it to be. The Civil War never took place, and even though slavery was finally abolished, there are still 4 states in the United States, called the Hard Four, that still condone and practice slavery.
This story relates one such case for Victor, tracking a run away slave, and then the twists begin.
The writing moved along very well as it describes our changed but present day. Under this new framework the characters are believable and the plot viable.
A new author for me, but one I hope to continue to read.
3.5 stars for the story and .5 star for the premise of the novel.
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson
How Karma Works... (3/15/2017)
This novel grabbed me in the first few pages and I had trouble putting it down. Not only is Joshilyn Jackson an accomplished writer, she is entertaining and imaginative.
Written in first person, Attorney Paula Vauss, aka Kali Jai, leads us down a winding lane of chaos, intermingling sadness, happiness, loss, redemption, love and family transformation along the way. From the days of traveling with her wild eccentric Mother to the lonely days of state placement to the "love 'um and leave 'um" lifestyle she maintains as an adult, we meet the people who hold her interest and influence her along the way. Continually paying off her "debt" to her Mother, Paula suddenly finds herself a sibling. Not once, but twice.
"You know how Karma works", is the final piece of the puzzle her dying Hindu-mythology-loving Mother leaves for her, as it changes her life forever.

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Butterfly Yellow
    Butterfly Yellow
    by Thanhha Lai, Daniel Suarez
    Voted 2019 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    As readers, many of us hope ...
  • Book Jacket: Olive, Again
    Olive, Again
    by Elizabeth Strout
    Voted 2019 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    It's been a big year for literary ...
  • Book Jacket: Solitary
    Solitary
    by Albert Woodfox
    Voted 2019 Best Debut Author Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    According to statistics from ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming
    Becoming
    by Michelle Obama
    Voted 2019 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    BookBrowse hosted a Book Club ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
Evening in Paradise
by Lucia Berlin

"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives on the fringes."—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe

    An inspiring life story that speaks urgently to our troubled times.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Butterfly Yellow

BUTTERFLY YELLOW

Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and the overall highest rated book of the year!

Enter

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

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.