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).


  • (04/16/18): Absolutely wonderful family saga. I fell in love with all the characters, the transitions between each one was incredibly well done, no make that flawless. The narrative has an easy, natural flow - simple yet detailed drawing the reader into the family fold. The beauty of the book - it takes an ordinary family dealing with everyday life and the roller coaster life can be. I could not put this book down, I cannot wait to continue the journey. Smiley is one incredible storyteller.


  • (04/08/18): I loved this novel. It is funny, so funny I laughed out loud. It accurately and lovingly reflects how music truly entrances and collects musicians even before they become musicians. It is also brutally honest about musical prodigies, success and failure, dreams and reality. It is unpredictable and weaves a mystery, both past and present in an atmosphere that is ordinary yet chillingly creepy. It is also a coming of age story with characters so fully developed they rise off the page and follow you from room to room, leaving you to wonder of their futures beyond the book. Its mystery takes actions of the past and rolls them into the future almost like the skipping needle on an old record, turning endlessly then bumped into the next track dragging that skidding noise along with it.


  • (04/08/18): This book made it to my "top 5 of 2017" list, and is certainly my favorite type of fiction (although usually this happens more with historical fiction, and less with contemporary fiction - of which this is essentially both), shining a light on real people about whom we know little to nothing about, and Rooney's spotlight was as startlingly bright as it was flattering. To begin with, Rooney's writing style is so sophisticated and charming that you can't help but believe that Lillian was not only a talented writer and poet, but that she must have been even more beguiling than Rooney portrays her. Rooney's use of language is also endearingly witty, and I'm trying to figure out how many words in the thesaurus I'll need to use to describe this book, because it's already starting to run out of appropriate adjectives. As you can see, I'm in love with this book, and that makes it terribly difficult to review without becoming so effusive that my readers get sick of me. So rather than go on and on with piles of compliments that get not only whipped cream but several cherries on top, I'm simply going to say that I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and it deserves more than just a full five stars out of five! (Note to self: where have you been all my reading life, Kathleen Rooney?)


  • (04/05/18): This is a fascinating story - fiction plus history and culture of Korea. Relatable characters, cultural developments, insight into family relationships, conflicts with Japan, hints about the budding of North Korea - it's all here!

  • Educated
    A Memoir
    by Tara Westover

    (03/20/18): At first it might seem abit difficult to read. Impossible to put down. A powerful, powerful book that you shouldn’t miss. I can’t just leave it at that because Tara Westover’s story deserves more than those few words. I don’t often read memoirs, but when I do I want them to be told by extraordinary people who have a meaningful story to tell and that would be faint praise for this book. It sounds odd to say how beautifully written this is because we are not spared of the ugly details of what this family was about, but yet it is beautifully written. I had to remind myself at times that I wasn’t reading a gritty novel, that Tara and her family were real as I got more than just a glimpse of a life that was hard for me to even imagine. A religious fanatic father, hoarding food and guns and bullets and keeping his family off the radar, not filing for birth certificates, not getting medical attention when they needed it, avoiding the government, the feds at all cost , keeping his children out of school, the paranoia, the preparation for the “Days of Abomination” - this is what we find in this place on a mountain in Idaho. There are horrible accidents and he won’t get medical help for his family. Her mother’s healing herbs and tinctures are used to treat the slightest scrape to the most horrible head injury or burns from gasoline to an explosion. If some thing bad happens it because that’s the will of the Lord. Her mother seems at times more sympathetic to her children, but she is complicit by her subservience to her husband. I don’t even know how to describe it other than gut wrenching to see the effects on this family of neglect in the name of religious beliefs and in reality mental illness. It isn’t just her father but the brutality by one of her brother’s which is more than awful and creates rifts between family members, That she was bold enough and somehow found the will to rise above it all while she is torn with the sense of duty, of loyalty to her family, the ingrained beliefs, still loving her family is miraculous. Going to college was the first time she’d been in a classroom, not knowing what the Holocaust was, learning about slavery, the depression, WWII, the civil rights movement. She doesn’t just get a college education but ultimately a PhD from Cambridge, a Harvard fellowship. She struggles for years to discover who she was, who she could be - a scholar, a writer, an independent woman. This is a stunning, awe inspiring story that will haunt the reader long after the book ends. Thank you to Tara Westover for sharing yourself with us. It was well worth the reading late nights.

  • The Radium Girls
    The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
    by Kate Moore

    (03/19/18): The Radium Girls is one of the most emotionally devastating, emotionally uplifting, roller coaster reads I have read in a very long time. I requested this book months ago and it took me forever to finish because there is just so much to take in mentally and emotionally while reading this book that I often had to set it down because I was both amazed and in tears because of what these women went through. Radium for those who don't know is a radioactive chemical that is very deadly to humans but many years ago was thought to have many uses both in home goods, health goods and beauty supplies and thought to be good for you. It was put into baby food, make up and in house hold objects until very quickly it was discovered that everyone who was exposed to it either died or became very ill from it. Radium Girls were the women who handled radium at the factory they worked and painted it on clock faces. I couldn't believe how many times they were assured that everything was fine in a time when they were discovering just how deadly it was and being allowed to handle it despite the fact that they actually glowed from it. The sad poor conditions and dismissal of such severe sickness and after effects they endured just because they were women, the company that denied any wrong doing, and the fight they had to take up to garner any attention broke my heart. Its sad to think so much of this history gets forgotten by so many and how the turn of events that led to us (women) having better treatment in the work place took so much sacrifice on their behalf. I would love to see inspiration for this book be turned into a film, I honestly think it would be an amazing movie. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it yet.


  • (03/17/18): How could a character like man be so touching. It brings tears to my eyes just to realize that sickness is no respect of h. Such a good soul Big Angel. In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel De La Cruz, known affectionately as Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly one hundred, dies herself, leading to a farewell doubleheader. Across one bittersweet weekend in their San Diego neighborhood, the revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of Big Angel and his mother, and recounting the many tales that have passed into family lore, the acts both ordinary and heroic that brought them to a fraught and sublime country and allowed them to flourish in the land they have come to call home. The story of the De La Cruzes is the American story. This indelible portrait of a complex family reminds us of what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. Teeming with brilliance and humor, authentic at every turn, The House of Broken Angels is Luis Alberto Urrea at his best, and it cements his reputation as a storyteller of the first rank.I rate this as 4 out of 5 a very good read.


  • (03/15/18): How could anyone not take notice of such brilliant writing? I find more and more that as I read each chapter my mind was filled with empathy and eagerness for the outcome. I was captivated by the descriptions, such as when Amber Reynolds is trying to separate her dreams from her alleged reality, "I can smell my lost time." How great is that sentence?! Another example where I know the feeling too well is when she describes an uncomfortable atmosphere, "...the air in the room is thick with silence and remorse." This sentence transported me inside that room! I believe the author successfully carries the voice of the unreliable narrator throughout the book. My attention did not wander and I did not have to suspend any belief to be completely wrapped up in the world of Amber Reynolds and the story she is telling us. The ending was satisfying and also left me hoping for another book by Alice Feeney. The ending can stand on its own, yet seems to hint that this story would be continued in a second novel. It is one of my true joys when a book captivates me and I think about it incessantly. I feel fortunate and grateful to BookBrowse for giving us readers the experience of being being able to read a book months before it is published. I am giving this book a rousing round of applause and yelling. Quite detailing on what suppose to be an imaginary write..living a life that makes living a misery.


  • (03/14/18): I don't claim to be an avid book reader and I won't attempt to offer a 'clever critique'. This novel was passed on by a friend, we both lived in Anchorage, Alaska during the 1970's. The Great Alone did an amazing job of depicting the era and bringing the reader close into the lives of the characters. I felt like I was actually there! Also, because I recently experienced complicated grief and mourning, I knew exactly the guilt Leni felt in relation to Matthew. It was a powerful book for me and so well written. Thank you Kristin!


  • (03/11/18): This book kept giving me more surprises as it went on. I hadn't realized that Mary Pickford was the first star of silent pictures, nor that she carried that over into Talkies & was the first in so many things. I did know that she and Douglas Fairbanks were married, but their lives blew me away. The relationship between Mary and her best friend, Frances Marion, surprised me with it's constancy & intensity, because I kept expecting it to fall apart. When it didn't, I was surprised at all the changes in their lives over the years. A lot of the things Mary did disappointed me, because I wasn't expecting them of her. Frances' life was more what I wanted to read; I guess she just felt more like a real person to me. I had to give her a lot of credit for trying to help Mary at the end, since I don't know if I'd have been able to do it. The book was very well written, and I enjoyed reading it, though I wish there had been more at the end.


  • (03/08/18): My favorite thing about this book is that it made me laugh. Arthur Less is about to turn fifty and his longtime partner is going to marry another man. In order to avoid the wedding he decides to accept all the invitations he has been offered and travel around the world. With each stop we learn more and more about his past. The writing is wonderful and the book is witty, poignant and tender.


  • (02/24/18): Tayari Jones does not sugar coat her stories. They are raw, they are real. In her latest book “An American Marriage” her characters deal with the realities of their place in this world. The characters are well developed – all with flaws, all with positive qualities. There were times I wanted to embrace a character and then later I felt like asking the same character “What were you thinking?!!” No one was all good, nor all bad. They were real! I had no idea how I wanted the story to go. I kept changing my mind. And I was never sure how the author would end their story. This is the story of Roy and Celestial Hamilton who met through her best friend Dre. Roy and Celestial married and were deeply in love when after only 18 months of marriage had their world turned upside down. Roy goes to prison for a crime he did not commit. While he is away Celestial turns to Dre for support. Then when he is released he returns to different life. Has his marriage survived? Love, race, trust, loyalty, honesty, family obligations are all explored. This is a heartfelt story, nothing flashy. Ms. Jones wrote in such a way that I could feel the pain the characters felt over the decisions they had to make. No one was going to escape untouched. ‘An American Marriage” is perfect for book clubs. It lends itself to an amazing discussion of the choices made, the consequences, the interactions, race inequality, feminism, family definition. Mistakes are made, loved ones are betrayed, the term family is redefined, and emotions are laid bare. This is real life.


  • (04/12/18): Disappointing. No suspense and the twists were silly. There was no real chemistry between the characters, they felt wooden. The tempo of the plot dragged on, and I realized early on the direction of characters and plot. The ending was flat and safe. The bones of the narrative has been written countless times before, nothing special in this interpretation. Totally not what I was hoping for.


  • (03/14/18): I don't claim to be an avid book reader and I won't attempt to offer a 'clever critique'. This novel was passed on by a friend, we both lived in Anchorage, Alaska during the 1970's. The Great Alone did an amazing job of depicting the era and bringing the reader close into the lives of the characters. I felt like I was actually there! Also, because I recently experienced complicated grief and mourning, I knew exactly the guilt Leni felt in relation to Matthew. It was a powerful book for me and so well written. Thank you Kristin!


  • (02/15/18): Only Child is amazing! Once I started reading it I was unable to put it down. The writing flows and the characters are well-developed .It is intense, heartbreaking and uplifting. While it starts with a school shooting, that is not what it is about. There is so much more to this story. If you read one new book this year, make it this one. And really I rate it a 10.


  • (02/11/18): 'Commander of wives and children" is the title given to Marianne when she makes a promise to her husband and other German conspirators that plan to assassinate Hitler. When their plot fails, the men are executed. Committed to her promise, Marianne finds two other resistance wives, Benita and Ania, and brings them and their children to live in her decaying family castle. This is not just another WWII story as the perspective is of three very different German women with very different experiences of loss, guilt, survival and recovery before, during and decades after the war.


  • (01/26/18): Gerald Seymour sure knows how to cook up a tale but this gooey confection may be over-egged for even the hungriest of his fans, your reviewer included. A suicide bomber arrives in England from Saudi Arabia and the central plot involves the efforts to track him down before he causes carnage, a theme given more urgency by last year's shocking attack in Manchester. Mixed in with this are ingredients including the trial of two old-school cockney villains, complete with the most stupid (and unbelievable) juror ever and the incident-packed last days of an intelligence officer's career. Not Seymour at his best but a tasty treat all the same.

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Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

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