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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).



  • So well researched and written! by Carolea (7/7/24)
    If you are currently receiving any kind of government benefit, such as Social Security or Medicare, then the novel "Becoming Madam Secretary" by Stephanie Dray is an absolute must-read. This captivating work of historical fiction provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of Frances Perkins, who made history as the first female cabinet member under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. Dray's meticulously researched and vividly written narrative takes readers on a journey through Perkins' remarkable career, chronicling her rise from a passionate social reformer to a trailblazing figure who helped shape some of the most significant New Deal programs that laid the foundations for the modern American social safety net.

    Despite the book's impressive length, it is structured in a highly accessible way, with short, fast-paced chapters that flow seamlessly in chronological order, making it an effortless and immensely satisfying read for lovers of historical fiction. As you delve into Perkins' story, you'll be struck by the depth of her intellect, the strength of her convictions, and the profound impact she had on shaping the social welfare policies that continue to benefit millions of Americans to this day. Ultimately, "Becoming Madam Secretary" is a powerful and enlightening novel that reminds us of the critical role that visionary leaders can play in driving positive social change, and the importance of learning from the lessons of history. Whether you're already familiar with Perkins' legacy or discovering it for the first time, this book is sure to leave a lasting impression and inspire a deeper appreciation for the trailblazers who paved the way before us.



  • Extraordinary. Brilliant. Masterful. Exceptional. I Adored This Book! by Cathryn Conroy (7/7/24)
    Extraordinary. Brilliant. Masterful. Exceptional. Yes, I adored this book. It has to be THE most imaginative novel I have ever read.

    The genius of the book is in the structure. Beginning in the 1600s in Puritan New England and extending for almost four centuries, the novel's stories are focused on the occupants of a little yellow house built deep in the north woods country of Western Massachusetts, first as a one room cottage and eventually expanded into four distinct sections. The house stays as the cast of characters living in it changes. Taken together, the tales offer a slice of American, as well as natural, history told in a way you've never read before.
       
    Written by Daniel Mason, the book begins with two disgraced Puritan newlyweds fleeing into the forest, running as fast as they can from their outraged village. Chased by the elders, the young lovers manage to escape. The one-room yellow cottage is constructed. The years pass and others come to the house. Two women who are threatened by English soldiers, murder the men, one of whom had been eating an apple just before his untimely and violent death. An apple seed in his intestine eventually develops into a sapling and then a tree with apples that are the most sweet and delicious anyone has ever had. The property becomes an apple orchard. And so the story continues with each subsequent family living in the house. Their unlikely tales are filled with love, passion, heartbreak, betrayal, violence…and otherworldly spirits.

    And the point of it all is clearly explained in the last chapter when a character named Nora thinks to herself: "…she has found that the only way to understand the world other than a tale of loss is to see it as a tale of change."

    The narrative is quite creative, including whole sections that are told through letters, poetry, musical ballads, journal entries, a true-crime detective story, an exposition on the (almost X-rated) sex life of beetles, and medical case notes. The fact that it works and remains a compelling read from start to finish—and doesn't disintegrate into a hodgepodge of confusion for the hapless reader—speaks volumes about Daniel Mason's writing abilities.

    The ingenious plotting, the mesmerizing storytelling, and the sometimes bizarre but always fascinating cast of characters make this a novel for the ages. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's magical!

    My only question is this: Why did it not win the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker, and the National Book Award? Because it really is a novel of that caliber.

  • The 1619 Project
    by Nikole Hannah-Jones

    A Case for Raparation - Or Not by Carmel B (7/6/24)
    Enlightening, shocking and profound. Jones rivets the reader’s attention to her "New Origin Story" and sheds light on America's darkest hours, her early struggles for independence and the shameful hypocrisy of her politicians and citizens relative to the enslaved. Furthermore, readers are forced to face America’s slow, lumbering march toward equality for all, while carrying its burdens of prejudice and blindness. This tome will undoubtedly become a powerful educational tool in the arsenal of black / white history and culture where readers can broaden their knowledge and understanding of enslavement beyond what they have gleaned from Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and even George Floyd. The poems and prose at the beginning of the chapters are heart wrenching and poignant, and the essays that follow seem to be well-researched and factual. The lingering question is not whether reparation is warranted, but whether it is possible. Kudos to the New York Times for recognizing the importance and potential impact of this exceptional collaborative enterprise, its creator and contributors.



  • Wonderful Historical Read by Jill (6/28/24)
    A wonderful historical fiction read of Martha Ballard, a midwife with a strong moral compass. Taking place in Maine, in the 18th century. In 1789 a dead man is found in the Kennebec River and Martha is called to examine the body. Martha finds herself investigating the death of, Joshua Burgess, who is believed to have raped the pastor’s wife with another of the town’s respected gentlemen. And so, begins this story of Martha Ballard.

    This is a multilayered story and flips from past to present. I throughly enjoyed every minute reading this. There is a main theme thread throughout of gender oppression and familial loyalty. There is a Puritanical culture of shame that dehumanizes and humiliates the book’s female characters. The river and its power is associated with death, danger and of life in general in the town of Hallowell.

    Martha’s qualities of — her resilience, courage and savviness are depicted in Lawhon’s storytelling. Martha holds herself and her family in high-esteem.

    “I consider them my babies. I am not their mother, of course, but they are mine, and I can still feel the weight of grief hanging heavy in those birthing rooms.”

    This is my first read from Ariel Lawhon, but I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

  • The Night the River Wept
    by Lo Patrick

    very highly recommended small town Southern murder mystery by She Treads Softly (6/25/24)
    The Night the River Wept by Lo Patrick is a very highly recommended small town Southern murder mystery with a very unlikely investigator.

    Arlene, 24, is married to her high school sweetheart, Tommy, and longs to be a mother. The two live in Faber, a small town in Georgia, where Tommy, is in commercial real estate, but does well enough that he is often called a real estate tycoon in town. Tommy loves Arlene and wants the best for her but he also has a drinking problem. After a miscarriage she needs to find a way to keep busy so she applies for a job at the police station and is offered a part time position bagging evidence. Since the job only takes about 20 minutes of work a day, Arlene begins to read the old case files.

    One case in particular, the murder of three young brothers on Deck River, an area populated by those with little hope, captures her attention. The murder was followed by the suicide of the main suspect, Mitchell Wright. Arlene gets permission to look into the case and soon believes she could solve the case. Tommy is getting on her nerves with his drinking anyway and the cold case becomes an obsession. She sets out to discover the truth with help from Allaina, who was on the police force at that time, and Ronna, the police department's receptionist.

    I really enjoyed The Night the River Wept and I realize I'm a bit of an outlier in how much I enjoyed it. It is a beautifully written novel and captures both a unique, charming Southern setting as the characters deal with personal struggles,loss, growth and redemption while uncovering the truth. The narrative unfolds through the point-of-view of Arlene, diary entries written by Mitchell's sister, and the murderer. Arlene is the main, dominant voice.

    I appreciated the humorous dialog and observations throughout the novel. The bulk of the novel is full of grim insightful and poignant moments in the narrative, but interspersed are gems that left me laughing several times while reading. Patrick captured the dialect of her characters in the dialogue and I could hear them talking as I read. And the stories... like the daughter who left the lineman she was married to, which disappointed her mother because she is a Glen Campbell fan.

    Arlene is certainly a flawed character, but, bless her heart, I like her. She's young and she's blaming herself for her miscarriage. Her dream of being a mother has been shattered and seems unobtainable. Arlene is insecure and searching for an adult role model/friend. It is funny and a bit heartbreaking when she attaches herself to Ronna, a woman who has her own issues, and closely follows her behavior in an attempt to be an adult. This includes bringing leftover meatloaf for lunch. She's also dealing with a husband who's frequently drunk by noon. Looking into the cold case gives her a purpose and confidence in herself.

    The novel is populated with unique, memorable characters. Arlene is earnest in her role as detective as she looks into the cold case. The investigation into the murder mystery is serious. The small town never really dug deep and tried to truly solve the case. People kept secrets.Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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The 1619 Project
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