The Best Recent Reader Reviews posted at Bookbrowse

The Best Recent Reader Reviews

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  • This Tender Land
    by William Kent Krueger

    As YA book, this is excellent by techeditor (1/27/23)
    This is the first person account of “the four vagabonds,” told by 12-year-old harmonica-playing, storytelling Odie. It is 1932, in the midst of the Depression, and Odie, his older brother, Albert, their Indian friend, Mose, and six-year-old Emmy are traveling by canoe to what Odie hopes is home in St. Louis. All four are orphans who had been living in unacceptable circumstances at an Indian boarding school in Minnesota with its vicious superintendent. The life they are leaving is based on what really did go on at many Indian boarding schools.

    Yes, the four are trying to escape their present environment, but the three boys are also running from the law. It is mistakenly believed that they have kidnapped Emmy.

    They are paddling their canoe down rivers to their destination, often with no food. Along the way they meet people both good and bad.

    Although Odie is angry with God, one person he meets who becomes his friend is a woman of God who heads religious crusades. She has the gift of being able to see someone's past. As time goes on, she recognizes that Emmy also has a gift, being able to see someone's future and sometimes being able to alter it slightly.

    Of course, they meet others, too, such as a horrible man who forces them at gunpoint to work on his failing farm. They also meet many families living in "Hoovervilles," groups of people living in makeshift tents or shacks, and befriend some of them. The four vagabonds find friends to help them get where they're headed and foes trying to find them.

    Although the depicted treatment of Indians and Indian boarding schools is accurate, I found other parts of this story too hard to believe. And those parts, for me, made this book seem young adultish, not meant to be questioned by an adult. As a YA book, though, this is excellent.



  • An Honest Slice of Life by Anthony C. (1/24/23)
    "In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss" by Amy Bloom tells the story of a couple who, when the husband develops Alzheimer's Disease, seek physician-assisted suicide to end his suffering. With this topic, many people feel strongly enough about the issue to say, "No thanks," but Bloom gives us details that activate your empathy as you know Bloom's anguish.

    Bloom provides a glimpse of the human experience that has a lot in common with regular, old-fashioned grief. You try to soak in the last moments and want your loved one around for selfish reasons, even though they no longer wish to suffer. The more I read the author in pain, the less my politics interfered or mattered.

    Alzheimer's Disease has touched our lives in some form or another. Bloom reads directly from some of the manuals for caregivers to show precisely how different her reality is from those who try to oversimplify for support. For this reason, it baffles me that anyone would find a flaw in the book since, if anything, it made me value my time on this Earth more and reminded me why I would make a different choice in this situation but still understand Amy's plight.

    Your feelings about this will coincide with your initial reaction to the end of "Million Dollar Baby" for reasons that would spoil a 19-year-old movie for some but will paint an all-too-familiar portrait of emotional trauma. Only the heartless would judge. Every decision at the end of the book causes stress, from the mundane to life and death. The scene at the casino shows how tough it is to rein in a patient with dementia when others encourage you to let them live.

    The journey to the end of the book is long and painful, but then again, so is Alzheimer's. The text may not dispel your opinions, but it will show you that no one can or will enter this decision lightly or quickly. The cost eliminates 75 of the world's population anyway. Accept this as one of the most honest writings you will encounter this year.

  • In the Garden of the Righteous
    by Richard Hurowitz

    very highly recommended historical account and tribute by Shetreadssoftly (1/22/23)
    In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust by Richard Hurowitz is a very highly recommended historical account and tribute of ten individuals who risked their lives to save others during the Holocaust. Because they chose to put their personal safety at risk to rescue others during a time of overwhelming danger, their extraordinary actions and deeds were recalled by those they saved and they were all honored as the Righteous Among the Nations at the Yad Vashem complex on Jerusalem’s Mount of Remembrance.

    Many know the stories of Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler who risked their lives to save Jewish people. Hurowitz presents the background and actions of ten lesser known individuals who demonstrated great strength of character, determination, and compassion while doing the right thing when their actions could result in their demise too. The ten righteous people covered include: the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes; Princess Alice of Battenberg in Greece; Gino Bartali, an Italian tour de France winner; the Japanese vice counsel/spy in Kovno, Lithuania Chinue Sugihara; circus ringmaster Adolf Althoff and his wife Maria; Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz a German Foreign minister in Copenhagen and the entire population of Denmark; Polish social worker Irena Sendler; Hiram Bingham IV (Harry), vice counsel at the consulate in Marseille; protestant pastor Andre Trocme in the French village of Le Chambon sur Lignon in the département of Haute-Loire.

    The well-written and researched accounts of these individuals and those who assisted them are all compelling and include their backgrounds, details of their extraordinary actions, and the aftermath of their actions. Hurowitz’s research also reveals the rescuers’ greatly varied motivations and examines the common traits among these individuals that encouraged them to do the right thing. Since the historical accounts are detailed and cover a wide variety of areas across many countries, this is a history that requires careful reading to follow who is where and what is occurring there. In the Garden of the Righteous by Richard Hurowitz is an excellent biography of ten people who are the Righteous Among the Nations.
    Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins via Edelweiss.



  • Brilliant and Fun Read by Roberta (1/20/23)
    If someone had told me that I would fall in love with a book that was about gaming and gamers, I wouldn't have believed them. But this is exactly what happened when I read this book. At the beginning of the book, when Sam sees his friend Sadie and finally gets her attention by yelling "Sadie you died of dysentery" (referring to the old Oregon Trail game), I was hooked. I'm not a gamer, but I did play the Oregon Trail back in the 80s. It was a fabulous game.

    The main characters, Sam and Sadie become friends when Sam is in the hospital recovering from a car accident that left his foot mangled and Sadie is at the hospital with her ill sister. Sam and Sadie play games together and discover that they complement each other. Over time they become partners in developing computer games.

    The book follows Sam and Sadie as partners and friends. There are huge chunks of time where they don't speak to each other. There are storylines with other characters who are important in their lives and these characters too are fascinating.

    I cared deeply for Sam and Sadie and the author does a wonderful job of making them seem like real people, mainly because they are lovable and flawed.

    The book blends reality and gaming together and at times the action takes place inside a game.

    It's just brilliant and funny too. I loved this book.


  • So Different, So Alike by Tracey (1/19/23)
    Fun, well-written, and studded with surprises, The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise will tickle you, encourage you, and keep you turning the pages.
    Twenty-one-year-old Tanner is in a funk after an injury derails her soccer career.
    Eighty-four-year-old Louise is on a mission to correct a past mistake.
    Never have two such different women needed each other so much. But exactly why they need each other creates a book chockful of rich themes.
    The most obvious theme is friendship, especially friendship that can transcend a significant generation gap. Here’s where the book sparkles. Tanner and Louise make assumptions about each other from the get-go. Though the idea of a generation gap is nothing new, this “Mostly True Story” examines why we make snap judgments and how that inhibits good relationships. The women’s cross-country car journey serves as a structure that delivers them from postulations to understanding.
    Mistakes—or perceived mistakes—is another important theme. As readers, we have the objectivity to see clearly, and this causes us to root for the characters who are muddling more through mistaken beliefs than true failures. It's relatable because who of us hasn’t done the same? Who hasn’t lost sleep over worries about how we could have done something differently? How Tanner and Louise handle and think about their regrets is food for thought about how we, the readers, handle our own.
    Author Colleen Oakley also explores what constitutes real intimacy in relationships—whether it’s a friendship or a love interest. Though the main characters of Tanner and Louise are very different, they are the same in many ways, primarily in how they reveal themselves to others. Both are reticent to share too much. Both would prefer to keep their true identities safely concealed. Both want others to accept them for face value instead of revealing vulnerabilities.
    The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise is about understanding and accepting yourself and others and moving on in life. And, as the title reflects, this witty novel will keep you guessing till its satisfying conclusion.



  • Simple yet oh so complex by Margot P (1/10/23)
    I love books like this-deceptively simple, straightforward plot, yet laced with a tremendous amount of dark, psychological elements. Two very smart, yet very bored young girls in post war southern France try to make sense of all the broken lives around them by playing a dangerous game that has life altering consequences. I think this would be an excellent book club choice for groups that enjoy serious discussions. There are so many themes and different ways of interpreting the characters’ actions!

  • The Light We Carry
    by Michelle Obama

    Precious Lessons of Life by Deb (1/10/23)
    Fresh, honest and so relatable. I love the way Michelle speaks intelligently from her heart. The book was interesting with a self help edge. I was engrossed from beginning to end. I highlighted many areas I found profound and worthy of revisiting. Love it!!



  • About author by Ragiv khan (1/5/23)
    From the author of the best-selling and beloved The End of Your Life Book Club - a wonderfully engaging new book: both a celebration of reading in general and an impassioned recommendation of specific books that can help guide us through our daily lives.

    "I've always believed that everything you need to know you can find in a book," writes Will Schwalbe in his introduction to this thought-provoking, heartfelt, and inspiring new book about books.

    In each chapter he makes clear the ways in which a particular book has helped to shape how he leads his own life and the ways in which it might help to shape ours. He talks about what brought him to each book - or vice versa; the people in his life he associates each book with; how each has led him to other books; how each is part of his understanding of himself in the world. And he relates each book to a question of our daily lives, for example: Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener speaks to quitting; 1984 to disconnecting from our electronics; James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room to the power of finding ourselves and connecting with one another; Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea to taking time to recharge; Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird to being sensitive to the surrounding world; The Little Prince to making friends; Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train to trusting.

  • The Mitford Affair
    by Marie Benedict

    Historical Fiction by Susan Roberts (1/1/23)
    The Mitford family was a prominent part of English society in the years between World War I and II. The six sisters were considered the Bright Young Things of their time and they were all outspoken and strong women and were very close. Marie Benedict has written a historical fiction novel about this real family and the scandals that they created as England went to war with Germany.

    Even though there were six sisters, the novel predominately focuses on three of them

    -Diana was a beautiful woman who was married to the heir of the Guinness fortune She gave up her prominent place in society and divorced her husband to have an affair with the charismatic fascist leader who was still married.
    -Unity was the sister who became a Nazi and was rumored to be the mistress of Hitler. She moved to Germany and was enthralled with Hitler and his leadership of Germany. She made no secret of her love of Hitler and his government.
    -Nancy was the most normal of the three sisters and despite the fact that they had been close as children, their closeness waned after Diane and Unity became so political. Nancy was a novelist who often poked fun at her sisters and other important people in society in her books. She had some interest in the fascist movement in England but when the war became imminent, she made a choice to support the English government and helped the government when her two sisters were accused of being spies.

    The author did extensive research into the sisters and the political climate that existed in England between the two world wars. This is a story about family and the love between sisters but more importantly it's about one sister making a choice between her loyalty to her family and her loyalty for her country.



  • Another Part of History We Should Be Aware Of by Karna (12/22/22)
    I am grateful to have received an advance copy of "Cradles of the Reich" in order to participate in a BookBrowse discussion. Jennifer Coburn has done a wonderful job of researching a part of German/Jewish and WWII history. I was not previously aware of most of what I learned from this book, and found myself going down bunny trail after bunny trail looking up the history behind the story. I would encourage everyone to read this and to read the author's notes at the end as well.

    The primary story follows three women in Germany prior to and during WWII who came from three very different points of view. The parents, friends and lovers of these three women all play an important part in peeling away layers of history as well. While the main three characters are fictional, the organizations that they were a part of are not. And many of the people portrayed within the Nazi machine were real as well. This is great historical fiction - it creates a window through which to look into the minds of people that went through this traumatic period of time.

    The primary Nazi focus was Heim Hochland, a Lebensborn home for unwed mothers and also essentially a brothel. Lebensborn was a Nazi program with the stated goal of increasing the number of children born who met the Nazi standards of "racially pure," according to Nazi eugenics. Forced procreation, kidnapping and execution of babies were all carried out with the purpose of creating a pure race.

    As they say, "those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it." (various sources) "Cradles of the Reich" reveals a history that we need to be aware of. You can't make this stuff up, and this is definitely not history that we wish to repeat.



  • In the Time of Our History by Molly Agrimson (12/16/22)
    Susanne Pari paints a poignant, yet resilient, picture of the Jahani family in this novel. Her writing is comprehensive and beautiful, and evokes a tangible understanding of Iranian American life. I had not previously heard of the author before, but I was intrigued by her insightful narration and master storytelling. This book is perfect for readers who are fans of gorgeous prose and/or immigration history.

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