The Best Recent Reader Reviews posted at Bookbrowse

The Best Recent Reader Reviews

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  • (02/16/17): One of the best writers around today is Michael Chabon. I really enjoyed "Wonder Boys" and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", so when I heard about "Moonglow" I was very excited. "Moonglow" is written as a memoir, with Chabon telling the story of his grandfather's last days during which he told Chabon much about his life (which he had not previously shared.) Chabon's grandather (who is not named) lived a very interesting life, which included serving in World War II. His wife (Chabon's grandmother) fled Europe after the war with her daughter in tow. Throughout their marriage they dealt with many difficult things. It is hard to describe more than that without giving away the plot. Suffice it to say, the book is very well written and very interesting. If you like Chabon's other books you'll like this one. You'll also like it if you like historical fiction, especially set from World War II on, or if you like books with lots of characters.


  • (02/09/17): I LOVE the author's "old style" of descriptive yet insightful and intelligent story telling. This book is not one you can breeze through immediately, you have to take your time and savor each chapter. I have now become enamored of ghost ships and their legends in history. The characters of the book come alive, and I am transported back into a time when there was no "electronic" instant media, but to a time when everything was organic, lived, and more soulful. I can't wait to read more of the author's publications. I love historical novels and this is a "must read"!

  • The Universe Within
    Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People
    by Neil Shubin

    (02/06/17): I often find myself wondering about what is out there in the world, beyond what our mere human form can reach. How did everything come to be? Why does the universe function the way it does? Is there any connection between the human body and the universe we were drawn from? If any of these questions have ever floated through your head...this is the book for you. The works that Neil Shubin covers range from the rotation of the planets to how the mammal brain perceives time to firsthand accounts of his archeology digs and how his discoveries relate to other planets in and past our solar system. I found this book a bit difficult to get into at first, but once I was a few pages in, I was captured by Shubin's tales and explanations. Some passages are written with such learned vocabulary that I had to reread them, but once I could comprehend the message, I was in awe. Not only in awe of the subjects but also of how Shubin is able to explain and put a new twist on how things connect in our world. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with an itch of curiosity about the universe, the earth, and people. It is an eye-opening read!


  • (02/02/17): To say Ove was set in his ways would be a gross understatement. But Ove’s wife loved him and he loved her. Life was good until tragedy struck – twice. Now Ove is alone and wishes to kill himself, but life intervenes in the guise of neighbors, friends, enemies and Ove himself. Strong characters, a sure sense of time and place and a plot that meanders to a well thought out conclusion combine to make a tale well worth reading. Book groups will find plenty to talk about – lonely people, compromise of principle, suicide, anger, family, friendship, neighborliness, and Ove’s signature statement – “What is right is right” always – maybe. 5 of 5 stars


  • (01/28/17): “There was nothing remarkable about the Whitshanks. None of them was famous. None of them could claim exceptional intelligence. And in looks, they were no more than average…. But like most families, they imagined they were special. They took great pride, for instance, in their fix-it skills… all of them were convinced that they had better taste than the rest of the world…disappointments seemed to escape the family’s notice, though. That was another of their quirks: they had a talent for pretending that everything was fine” A Spool of Blue Thread is the twentieth adult novel by award-winning American author, Anne Tyler. The Whitshank House on Bouton Rd, lovingly, carefully and painstakingly built by Junior Whitshank for Mr. Ernest Brill, was eventually home to Junior, Linnie Mae and their children, Merrick and Redcliffe. Later, Red and Abby brought up their four, Amanda, Jeannie, Denny and Stem, within its walls. It was built for a family and stood the test of time. And here is where the family gathers when Red and Abby begin to cope less well than they always did. The issue of how to manage ageing parents is something common to most families; after their first solution fails, another is decided upon, but frictions arise between siblings when the (sort of) black sheep turns up to help. Old jealousies and frustrations surface, and in the course of events, certain secrets are revealed. Tyler has a singular talent for taking ordinary people doing ordinary things and keeping the reader enthralled and endeared. Her pace is sedate, her descriptive prose, gorgeous, her dialogue, realistic. The narrative is split into four parts: the first tells, from multiple perspectives, of present day events in the Whitshank family, with plenty of references to the immediate (and less immediate) past; the second is from Abby’s viewpoint, and details the day she fell in love with Red; the third gives Junior’s point of view of events surrounding his early encounters with Linnie Mae and the start of their family life; the last, again from several perspectives, describes the present-day leave-taking from the Bouton Rd house. Another novel that is characteristically Anne Tyler: funny, moving, thought-provoking and, again, quite brilliant.


  • (01/23/17): Julian Barnes' novel The Sense of an Ending is an intriguing,well written reflection by a man exploring his past relationship with a school chum and an ex girlfriend. "I’m not very interested in my schooldays, and don’t feel any nostalgia for them. But school is where is all began, so I need to return briefly to a few incidents that have grown into anecdotes, to some approximate memories which time has deformed into certainty. If I can’t be sure of the actual events any more, I can at least be true to the impressions those facts left. That's the best I can manage." Tony Webster and his two best mates meet up one day with a new student, Adrian Finn. Adrian is immediately recognized as brighter, more philosophical than most, and no one is surprised when he wins acceptance to Cambridge. Tony, capable enough, goes to Bristol and eventually graduates to a humdrum life of art administration, a failed marriage and a fleeting relationship with his daughter, Susie. But his peaceful retirement is interrupted when he receives a letter from an old girlfriend's mother. In her will she left him money and Adrian's, diary; the problem is that the old girlfriend, Veronica, who ditched Tony long ago in favor of Adrian, will not give it to him. Thus starts the emails and meetings between the two which provide for the building tension in the novel. I will welcome reading more from this Booker Prize winning author. Good passages: "Does character develop over time? In novels, of course it does; otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a story. But in life? I sometimes wonder. Our attitudes and opinions change, we develop new habits and eccentricities; but that’s something different, more like decoration. Perhaps character resembles intelligence, except that character peaks a little later: between twenty and thirty, say. And after that, we’re just stuck with what we’ve got. We’re on our own. If so, that would explain a lot of lives, wouldn’t it? And also-- if this isn’t too grand a word--our tragedy." "How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but--mainly--to ourselves." "We could start perhaps with the seemingly simple question. What is History? Any thoughts, Webster? 'History is the lies of the victors,' I replied a little too quickly.' Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated...'


  • (02/02/17): To say Ove was set in his ways would be a gross understatement. But Ove’s wife loved him and he loved her. Life was good until tragedy struck – twice. Now Ove is alone and wishes to kill himself, but life intervenes in the guise of neighbors, friends, enemies and Ove himself. Strong characters, a sure sense of time and place and a plot that meanders to a well thought out conclusion combine to make a tale well worth reading. Book groups will find plenty to talk about – lonely people, compromise of principle, suicide, anger, family, friendship, neighborliness, and Ove’s signature statement – “What is right is right” always – maybe. 5 of 5 stars


  • (01/28/17): This book did contain an interesting story; however, it was exhausting to read Paul's ramblings and run-on sentences that seemed to continue for days. Many times I realized I was seeing words but thinking of anything else. I did not enjoy reading the book, but the story will stay with me.


  • (02/04/17): Lillian is a delightful, insightful octogenarian who walks her hometown (New York City) on New Year's Eve and encounters the good, the bad and the ugly with the opened mind that only a person of much life experience can do. The author's use of adroit similes and other literary devices is right on. Loved Lillian. Loved the book.


  • (01/15/17): Lovely, Dark and Deep was an amazing read. Every book I had read I would finish and put down but two years later I still find myself coming back to it and reading it more and more. Amy McNamara did a fabulous job in description and portrayal of emotions and events. I was so drawn in to the story I could count off all the events that happened down to the little ones in order. Hands down my favourite book, so far nothing else has come to match it.


  • (01/14/17): If you love history, you have to read this book. If you think this historical era is not your cup of tea, also try this novel. We meet a young lady who is not stucked up. We meet a lady with a heart of courage and fortitude. The author, Daisy Goodwin,writes this story as you have discovered a new best friend. The author makes you feel you are with Queen Victoria when she takes her carriage rides. When she has to choose with love, you would want to be with her and help her though. Again, this author really connects you with the Queen. The book also has a character named Lord Melbourne. As the Queen calls him Lord M for her heart has fallen. Despite the age differences and despite his past, it is through Lord Melbourne that he teaches the Queen. He teaches by being direct. He taught her not only the policies of being a queen, but lessons that life give us. He also shows her respect. Do not forget the historical era this book is in. A queen as a women was rare. There was only one queen before her. His teachings helped her be a better queen. This book is historical fiction, with romance, and suspense. This writer takes these three subjects and interwoven into one of the best historical fiction novels. This is a book that you will always remember.


  • (01/07/17): An #1 Indie Next Pick, this beautifully layered novel features Paula Vauss (aka Kali Jali) who spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited mother, Kai. Her mother was a Georgia storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with southern tales to reinvent their family’s history. Soon the mother-daughter bond is fractured landing her mother in prison and Paula into foster care system. As the story begins Paula is now a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. Even though she hasn’t seen her mother in fifteen years, she does continue her obligation by sending her monthly support monies until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter containing words about a final journey, death, and a new beginning when we met again. Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and deep in her heart. With the help of an ex-lover and her newly discovered younger brother, she now has to figure out how the other missing family pieces are put back together. I am a huge fan of Southern writers such as Jackson. In this book she delivers another one of her quirky, Southern-based, character-driven novels that combines writing with a vivid and imaginative storyline. This novel is an intense look at broken people and how they heal themselves and each other through forgiveness, love, and the power of “stories.” “The Opposite of Everyone” has been a bright spot in my last few months of leisure reading. Jackson hits both this reader’s emotional nerve and the funny bone by using evocative language and creating memorable characters to carry her story.


  • (01/06/17): I am a big fan of fairy tales and folklore in the vein of the Brothers Grimm. This tale has been told over the centuries with variations from country to country. But this current retelling, which is based in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1920's, tugged at me because I grew up in Alaska. The author captures the era and landscape vividly, and the story of the childless couple who create a snow child from a snowman feels fresh and new. Mabel and Jack's tale of longing and love will whisk you away to a beautiful, barren, faraway place and leave you pondering the power of our mind's capacity to fill the voids in our lives. Perfect for curling up next to the fire on a cold winters day and reading in one sitting.


  • (01/03/17): The plaudits for this book are fully deserved. It is a great read and every bit as thrilling as the critics say. I read this book not long after it came out in hardback and thoroughly enjoyed it. I decided to read Gillian Flynn's earlier books it was so good. I recommend this book strongly


  • (01/02/17): Great plot, well written story. Other than sleeping at night, I couldn't put my copy down until I had reached the end. I'm puzzled that the translator didn't check his German translation. For example,in Chapter 7, p87 in my copy, "Spater, spater" should have "a Umlaut", or at least be written as spaeter.. Rainbow is Regenbogen, not Regenborn. Unless there is some kind of old-German, used in Russia. No need to post this review, as I just wanted to make a comment on Andrew Bromfield's German translation. He has done a fantastic job of translating Russian to English.


  • (12/22/16): A fiction book that reads like a nonfiction, very unusual, almost like a self help book for people living in loving relationships. I learned more about my marriage from this book than about the main characters. My best read in 2016.


  • (01/07/17): An #1 Indie Next Pick, this beautifully layered novel features Paula Vauss (aka Kali Jali) who spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited mother, Kai. Her mother was a Georgia storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with southern tales to reinvent their family’s history. Soon the mother-daughter bond is fractured landing her mother in prison and Paula into foster care system. As the story begins Paula is now a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. Even though she hasn’t seen her mother in fifteen years, she does continue her obligation by sending her monthly support monies until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter containing words about a final journey, death, and a new beginning when we met again. Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and deep in her heart. With the help of an ex-lover and her newly discovered younger brother, she now has to figure out how the other missing family pieces are put back together. I am a huge fan of Southern writers such as Jackson. In this book she delivers another one of her quirky, Southern-based, character-driven novels that combines writing with a vivid and imaginative storyline. This novel is an intense look at broken people and how they heal themselves and each other through forgiveness, love, and the power of “stories.” “The Opposite of Everyone” has been a bright spot in my last few months of leisure reading. Jackson hits both this reader’s emotional nerve and the funny bone by using evocative language and creating memorable characters to carry her story.

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