The Best Recent Reader Reviews posted at Bookbrowse

The Best Recent Reader Reviews

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  • (08/15/18): I like this book. It is full of imperfect characters whose flaws hold them back from relationships, acceptance, and joy, but, somehow, they learn, grown, and manage to stand up to all that life sends them. I cheered for them all and thoroughly enjoyed their strengths and weaknesses, their prayers and their failings. Imperfection blessed by healing wins the day in this one.


  • (08/07/18): A young woman living in Holland during the Nazi Occupation is forced into smuggling and utilizing the Black Market in order to feed her family and friends. One of her “regulars” asks her to find “the girl in the blue coat” and that is where the mystery begins. Secrets, betrayals, lost friendships, disappearances, dead lovers and danger on all sides makes this a compelling and tense read. Everyday life in an occupied city is made real and horrific. Although billed as Young Adult, this novel will appeal to anyone interested in WWII and the resistance, especially in Holland. 5 of 5 stars


  • (08/02/18): This book was such a surprise! Outside my usual genres of mystery or historical fiction, I was totally captivated, I did not want it to end! I plan to have my book club read it when it is my turn to pick! The warmth of the story and characters are deeply felt.


  • (07/26/18): I read this book for a book club discussion. I found it a little difficult to get into at first but then was caught up in the story. Our lives often seem to be following a plan, but one action, one moment, can change everything not only for the victim of injustice, but also for those around him. I thought the characters were well drawn, even the minor ones, but there were situations in the book that did not seem realistic to me (I am not being specific because of spoilers). I did, however, like the ending. That did seem realistic to me. I already know that some people in my book group did not like the book and others did so I expect an interesting discussion. And that is what book clubs are all about right?


  • (07/22/18): Awesome, captivating book - don't pass it by !! I don't know where to start or what to say except maybe.... it is mind blowing! compelling and exciting! It keeps you going until the end. You are gasping for breath, dizzy, and in so deep you feel like you can't put this book down. This book was twisted, raw and at some points scary, it went back and forth between present day, (Amber in a coma) to a week prior, the build up to Amber being in a coma, and 1992, a series of diaries. The twists and turns this book takes was so entertaining and spooky, I found myself speeding up the reading just to see what happened next! Pages were flying I was dead to the world, It kept me guessing, and thinking and guessing the entire time: gasp! Breathe..... I loved every second! Wow! This has got to be a movie...

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

    (08/04/18): This is a book that will stay with you long after the last page. Did your Dad have a wristwatch with a face that glowed in the dark? Mine did. Did your family have an alarm clock with glow in the dark hands--we had two. I wonder where they are now. I remember my fascination with those hands that had such a pretty green glow when everything else in the house was dark and were such a nice light turquoise in the light of day. I remember my Dad telling me about radium that made them glow and how a few years before I was born it was discovered that the young women who used to paint those hands got sick from the paint. Westclox was still making the clocks and the watches were still available so apparently it was safe now for them to be made. br /I forgot all about those things until I noticed a book called The Radium Girls had just been published and, further, Book Browse, to which I belong, was making it available to read for discussion. I applied and received the copy I just finished. It seems that, though the products were still being made and sold by the hundreds or more, back in the '50's when we owned them and Dad spoke of the findings, there was a lot more to the story of what was happening to those girls.br /The story aroused so many feelings as I read, disbelief at the callousness of the companies and the legal system. Wait, first disbelief at the illnesses that befell the dial painters, then disbelief at the companies and their executives and the lack of legal recourse for the victims. As time went on the disbelief turned to anger and heartbreak and tears of frustration. br /Two places saw the manufacture of dials--Orange, New Jersey and Ottawa, Illinois. Imagine the further disbelief when the girls in Orange won some sort of legal justice, with incredible strings attached and the girls in Ottawa were assured by THEIR employer that what happened there could not occur in Illinois. Yet, fourteen years later, another group of women found themselves in the same legal quagmire. Eventually, a triumph of sorts came and has had an effect on the present legal recourse of workers against employers. br /Still, the reader is left with sorrow, sadness, frustration but an abiding admiration for two groups of women and their spouses, children and other relatives and friends, who, though horribly ill, crippled and living with an unavoidable death sentence , fought, sometimes to their last breath for themselves and those who would follow them to the grave.br /Wait til you read the epilog--the story isn't over yet. And the tale just won't go away as you close the book and put it on a shelf. Just devastating. Especially, since this sort of thing continues--think asbestos, tobacco, opioids. And, I wonder, marijuana?


  • (07/18/18): If you enjoyed Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A PLACE FOR US, I highly recommend AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS. Three misfits set out on a journey across America, a journey of evolution, and are changed forever. Pival Sengupta, a newly widowed Indian woman, has booked a trip to America. Her servants are outraged! A woman just does not do this alone. But Pival is not going to see the sights of America. Instead, she is hoping to find her son whom her husband has told her is dead. After moving to America, Rahi revealed to his father Ram that he was gay and was immediately disowned. Then one night Ram took a call and told Pival it was from their son’s lover in America and that Rahi had died. On her trip to America she wants to see what Rahi had possibly seen in America, perhaps walk where he walked before he died. But did he die? She wonders if her husband lied to her. She has had her doubts since the death was so sudden and there was no body returned to India. She is determined to find out the truth. The characters in this story are each unique and all are engaging. From Mrs. Sengupta who is naïve about so much but determined in her mission, to Mr. Munshi, the hard-working Bangladeshi tour company owner who tries to pass himself off as Indian. The description of him that quickly comes to mind is a “snake oil salesman”. One has to wonder how his business remains open given his naivety. Pival’s guide is Satya who has only been in the US for a year and never outside New York City. He is sweet, extremely naïve, and always ravenously hungry. For reasons of modesty, Pival needs a female companion so Mr. Munshi hires Rebecca, an aspiring actress. This two-week tour being a companion sounds like a working vacation to her so she is thrilled to get the job. As Pival, Rebecca, and Satya make their way across the country they are challenged by their cultural and generational differences. But they begin to evolve in their own self-growth and learn to see the world through someone else’s eyes. They learn to appreciate the qualities the others have to offer. Barriers come down, animosities are forgotten, and true bonds are formed. There is humor, heartbreak, forgiveness, and acceptance. This story isn’t about where they travel but rather the voyage itself.


  • (07/15/18): If you, your parents, your grandparents or people you know are immigrants to this country, this book will touch you on so many levels. The first generation to the country, holding on to the beliefs that make them the people they are, even if they are the "old ways"; their children, being raised on their parents values, while struggling to find their own identity in the country of their birth. There are also the family dynamics of birth order, male child vs. female child, and how culture controls and plays into that. The look into this immigrant's family life is eye-opening and educational. Written with great sensitivity. I can't say enough good things about this book.


  • (07/24/18): Such a fun read although emotional at the same time. It’s written so lightly while touching such a profound subject. It made me laugh and cry.


  • (07/12/18): This was a meaningful and well written book. My heart went out to this family and I was moved by the women who took their food and customs with them wherever they went to make every new residence a home. As a Jew it was difficult to see the animosity and the radicalization against them even though their problems were imposed by Arab nations. This resulted in somewhat of a mental block for me. On the other hand it humanized these people. We live in the thought that Palestinians are brought up on the hatred of Jews. Other than the radicalization of two characters these people were portrayed as normal people who just want to live their lives like everyone else. From that point in the book on, I didn’t concentrate on individual characters. I just read the book looking at the whole picture. I see this book as an important read and also a great book for book clubs to discuss. I will definitely read this book again and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it.


  • (07/25/18): Oh my, incest, moonshine, sharecropping, KKK, lynching, twins (one white, one black), chain gangs and everything else bad about 1920’s Georgia. It is all here along with a meandering timeline, numerous plots and sub-plots and the “N” word. If this sounds exhausting – it is. There is just soooo much going on in this 540 page tome that it is WORK to read it. There is an interesting and valuable story here. The characters include a moonshining sharecropper with a problematic background, a teenaged daughter and a teenaged live-in black “maid.” Juke (the sharecropper/moonshiner) hires a black male farmhand. The farmhand has a relationship with both daughter and maid. Daughter has a relationship with the farm owner’s son that ends badly. Both teens are pregnant. The farmhand is lynched and dragged down the twelve-mile straight roadway to the delight (for a time) of the entire town. The son is accused of the murder and disappears – and that is just the beginning section of the book. The characters are clearly drawn. The time and place are well defined. The situations are believable. But the whole thing is sooo long and the time meanders from before to after and back again with no clear delineation. The final resolutions are clear and satisfying. Dates at the start of each event would be helpful. A little (a lot?) of editing would help. 3 stars for length and confusing timeline


  • (08/02/18): This is a very well written book that flows. It is a letdown after “the Nightingale” as that plot was quite original. I felt the characters and plot in this book were cliche and predictable. Like the story was designed to fit a framework.


  • (06/22/18): "It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and both grow more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” Ondaatje is my favorite author, so a new novel by him is always something I’m on the lookout for. What makes Ondaatje my favorite isn’t always the stories he tells, but how he tells them. In fact, sometimes Ondaatje can be confusing in his story telling, but even when things don’t make perfect sense, his prose is always so exquisite that it doesn’t matter. Goodreads also said about this book “In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire.” Yeah… ‘luminous’ is a very good word for what Ondaatje gives us, and he does succeed in giving it to us every time. Rather than continue to be effusive about how Ondaatje writes (and you know I could go on endlessly), I think I should concentrate on the story, which is told mostly from the narrator’s point of view, that being Nathaniel. I should note that in this book, Ondaatje moves between first and third person, where you get the feeling that Nathaniel is also narrating the third person sections, while at the same time, taking an omnipresent viewpoint. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes any sense, but if you think of it as the ‘imagination’ part noted above from the Goodreads blurb, I think you’ll understand what I mean here. My thinking is that Ondaatje needed the first-person parts to draw the reader in, and make them sympathetic to Nathaniel, but that viewpoint doesn’t allow for the wider picture of things that happened beyond Nathaniel’s own experiences; to include those events, he allows Nathaniel to imagine them from a distance, in both time and through piecing together clues he finds. What this does is give us a very layered story, wherein Ondaatje starts with Nathaniel as a young teenager, and builds on this time in a mostly chronological order. Ondaatje then moves to Nathaniel as a young man, and this is where he introduces the third person/imagination sections of the story. These passages help Nathaniel fill in the blanks of his own life, but more importantly, he also learns more about his mother’s life, and what really happened to her when she disappeared from his life. All the other characters seem to dance on the sidelines of Nathaniel’s life, until their presence is necessary to add something to the story, and only then they can take center stage for a time. I found this fascinating in how it seemed to say that although you might sometimes feel that certain people have no significant impact on your life, in fact, there are no real minor characters, you just don’t always understand their importance at the time. However, I don’t think that was the main point of this book, although for me it was a substantial part. If I had to pinpoint what I think Ondaatje is saying here, I’d say that we must look at the title of the book and attempt to understand its significance. For those who read this book the word “warlight” only appears near the end of the novel when Ondaatje talks about how the British helped barges find their way on the Thames when they transported munitions during the war. What this says to me is that this story is more about Nathanial finding his way, than who or what was helping or hindering him along his path. If that means it is a “coming of age” story, then so be it, and I can’t think of one more beautifully written than this. On the other hand, there was one phrase that Ondaatje used which I think may be even more significant in understanding what this book is about, and that’s the one I used as the title of this review – the consequences of peace. That simple combination of words is so powerful and evocative for me, that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it for a very long time, if only because it is an impeccable example of how amazing a writer Ondaatje proves to be, time and again. That only leaves the question if this book has overtaken “The English Patient” and “The Cat’s Table” as my favorite of Ondaatje’s works, and I must be honest and say no – those two are still my favorites. However, if until now I ranked “Anil’s Ghost” as just below those two, I believe that this book has edged that novel out, but only by a just a whisper.


  • (07/25/18): Oh my, incest, moonshine, sharecropping, KKK, lynching, twins (one white, one black), chain gangs and everything else bad about 1920’s Georgia. It is all here along with a meandering timeline, numerous plots and sub-plots and the “N” word. If this sounds exhausting – it is. There is just soooo much going on in this 540 page tome that it is WORK to read it. There is an interesting and valuable story here. The characters include a moonshining sharecropper with a problematic background, a teenaged daughter and a teenaged live-in black “maid.” Juke (the sharecropper/moonshiner) hires a black male farmhand. The farmhand has a relationship with both daughter and maid. Daughter has a relationship with the farm owner’s son that ends badly. Both teens are pregnant. The farmhand is lynched and dragged down the twelve-mile straight roadway to the delight (for a time) of the entire town. The son is accused of the murder and disappears – and that is just the beginning section of the book. The characters are clearly drawn. The time and place are well defined. The situations are believable. But the whole thing is sooo long and the time meanders from before to after and back again with no clear delineation. The final resolutions are clear and satisfying. Dates at the start of each event would be helpful. A little (a lot?) of editing would help. 3 stars for length and confusing timeline


  • (07/12/18): This was a meaningful and well written book. My heart went out to this family and I was moved by the women who took their food and customs with them wherever they went to make every new residence a home. As a Jew it was difficult to see the animosity and the radicalization against them even though their problems were imposed by Arab nations. This resulted in somewhat of a mental block for me. On the other hand it humanized these people. We live in the thought that Palestinians are brought up on the hatred of Jews. Other than the radicalization of two characters these people were portrayed as normal people who just want to live their lives like everyone else. From that point in the book on, I didn’t concentrate on individual characters. I just read the book looking at the whole picture. I see this book as an important read and also a great book for book clubs to discuss. I will definitely read this book again and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it.


  • (07/25/18): Oh my, incest, moonshine, sharecropping, KKK, lynching, twins (one white, one black), chain gangs and everything else bad about 1920’s Georgia. It is all here along with a meandering timeline, numerous plots and sub-plots and the “N” word. If this sounds exhausting – it is. There is just soooo much going on in this 540 page tome that it is WORK to read it. There is an interesting and valuable story here. The characters include a moonshining sharecropper with a problematic background, a teenaged daughter and a teenaged live-in black “maid.” Juke (the sharecropper/moonshiner) hires a black male farmhand. The farmhand has a relationship with both daughter and maid. Daughter has a relationship with the farm owner’s son that ends badly. Both teens are pregnant. The farmhand is lynched and dragged down the twelve-mile straight roadway to the delight (for a time) of the entire town. The son is accused of the murder and disappears – and that is just the beginning section of the book. The characters are clearly drawn. The time and place are well defined. The situations are believable. But the whole thing is sooo long and the time meanders from before to after and back again with no clear delineation. The final resolutions are clear and satisfying. Dates at the start of each event would be helpful. A little (a lot?) of editing would help. 3 stars for length and confusing timeline


  • (06/20/18): So sick of white trash chronicles. Who cares. These filthy crackers never cared for anyone of color. Why should their hardships be chronicled when they barely acknowledge those who aren't white.

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

    (08/04/18): This is a book that will stay with you long after the last page. Did your Dad have a wristwatch with a face that glowed in the dark? Mine did. Did your family have an alarm clock with glow in the dark hands--we had two. I wonder where they are now. I remember my fascination with those hands that had such a pretty green glow when everything else in the house was dark and were such a nice light turquoise in the light of day. I remember my Dad telling me about radium that made them glow and how a few years before I was born it was discovered that the young women who used to paint those hands got sick from the paint. Westclox was still making the clocks and the watches were still available so apparently it was safe now for them to be made. br /I forgot all about those things until I noticed a book called The Radium Girls had just been published and, further, Book Browse, to which I belong, was making it available to read for discussion. I applied and received the copy I just finished. It seems that, though the products were still being made and sold by the hundreds or more, back in the '50's when we owned them and Dad spoke of the findings, there was a lot more to the story of what was happening to those girls.br /The story aroused so many feelings as I read, disbelief at the callousness of the companies and the legal system. Wait, first disbelief at the illnesses that befell the dial painters, then disbelief at the companies and their executives and the lack of legal recourse for the victims. As time went on the disbelief turned to anger and heartbreak and tears of frustration. br /Two places saw the manufacture of dials--Orange, New Jersey and Ottawa, Illinois. Imagine the further disbelief when the girls in Orange won some sort of legal justice, with incredible strings attached and the girls in Ottawa were assured by THEIR employer that what happened there could not occur in Illinois. Yet, fourteen years later, another group of women found themselves in the same legal quagmire. Eventually, a triumph of sorts came and has had an effect on the present legal recourse of workers against employers. br /Still, the reader is left with sorrow, sadness, frustration but an abiding admiration for two groups of women and their spouses, children and other relatives and friends, who, though horribly ill, crippled and living with an unavoidable death sentence , fought, sometimes to their last breath for themselves and those who would follow them to the grave.br /Wait til you read the epilog--the story isn't over yet. And the tale just won't go away as you close the book and put it on a shelf. Just devastating. Especially, since this sort of thing continues--think asbestos, tobacco, opioids. And, I wonder, marijuana?


  • (06/03/18): A piercing commentary on America seen through Norwegian eyes makes this novel one of the best of the year. I found myself relishing this book, rolling each word over my tongue, tasting it, digesting it and oh so appreciating it. Take one smart ass sheriff and mix it with an erudite logical police officer (Sigrid)from Norway and you have the basis for a story that cannot fail to delight and one that you may want to read over and over. When Sigrid's brother, Marcus who is living in the US, disappears, Sigrid travels to the USA to try and find him and see what is wrong. All of the police force believe that Marcus is responsible for the death of a black female college professor with whom he was having a relationship. However, Sigrid refuses to believe this and uses her scholarly investigative capacities to try and convince the sheriff that there could be other alternatives. I suppose this could be labeled a mystery but it was such a wonderfully drawn and unconventional novel that discusses race relations(at a level I found enamoring), religion, individualism that it is so much more. If you are looking for a novel to make you think, race to get this. I bet you will not be disappointed.


  • (06/02/18): Lots of twists and turns and I'm still taking it in after finishing it. The ending didn't bother me at all, in fact I don't think it's an ending, but perhaps a beginning for another part of their life, if the author chooses to pursue it. If not, you can hardly speculate what's going to happen with a child in their lives, but kind of intriguing to think about. Amy was incredibly brilliant as the villianess, I had to admire her craftiness and cunning, even though she was the ultimate she-devil. The author did a great job with weaving the dynamics of this intertwined relationship . It's a powerful codependent hate/love story to the conniving max. I found myself living vicariously in her antics. Wishing I had known her years ago when I went through a bad relationship, I'm sure she could of gave me some tips. But she's way too extreme in a crazy, psycho, manipulating, cunningly supreme, way. Even her husband had to stand in awe of her abilities and recognize her 'talent' in the most of his most lowest points. She was his crash course in absurdity and the many moods of marital obsession and I think he got it. He became a learned student. Let the games begin ... he's ready.

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Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger.

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