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Reader Review: "The House of Broken Angels"

Top Reader Reviews - Sat, 03/17/2018 - 06:00
by michael haughton (jamaica kingston): 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.


Reader Review: "Sometimes I Lie"

Top Reader Reviews - Thu, 03/15/2018 - 06:00
by michael Haughton (jamaica, kingston): 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.


Reader Review: "The Great Alone"

Top Reader Reviews - Tue, 03/13/2018 - 06:00
by lalni: For those of you who have read Hannah's previous novel, do not expect a carbon copy of her work. This new book is, however, a wonderfully atmospheric and poignant look at the Alaska wilderness, PTSD, and fractured families. 13 year old old Lani Allbright is growing up in the 70's in the age of EST, Patty Hearst and Vietnam, where free love is all the rage. When her hippie parents decide to leave and move to land bestowed to them by a Vietnam buddy they hope getting away from the chaos of city life will be healing for the father and for the family as a whole. At first, it feels like this might be the answer to their prayers. With a colorful cast of characters, they plunge into a very rustic way of life yet awed by the majestic beauty of the state. However, the people keep warning them about the winter dangers and the people itself. As time goes on the winter darkness does takes hold but it becomes apparent that the real issue is not Alaska's winters but the darkness within the family. We watch Leni's growing awareness of the weakness within her family and her rising maturity regarding its dangers. Be warned-there is a lot of physical abuse in this book and for those who are sensitive to this issue, it may be a trigger. However, Hannah's beautiful prose portrays the splendor and ruggedness of a world we know too little about. It is easy to see how this world could unfurl difficulty for those running away from something. Note that this has already been optioned for film rights.


Six Spectacular Books Set in East Africa for Book Clubs

Editor's blog - Mon, 03/12/2018 - 11:30
East Africa is home to many countries with many different cultures, people, landscapes, traditions -- and stories. It would be a challenge for half a dozen books to give a balanced representation of a single country, let alone the 14 countries of continental Eastern Africa*, but we hope that these six books set in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe (listed in approximate geographical order, north to south) will give you and your book club a small taste of the region and, perhaps, spark a thirst to learn more.

Reader Review: "The Girls in the Picture"

Top Reader Reviews - Sun, 03/11/2018 - 07:00
by Diane D. (NW NJ): 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.


Reader Review: "Less"

Top Reader Reviews - Thu, 03/08/2018 - 06:00
by RobertaW (Albuquerque): 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.


Beyond the Book: Ireland

Editor's blog - Mon, 02/26/2018 - 17:43

At BookBrowse we seek to help readers deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them. We go beyond the book, providing original articles that look at cultural, historical or contextual aspects of each of our featured titles.

With this in mind, and with Saint Patrick's Day approaching, here we highlight some recent books that explore Ireland and Irish culture, and share each book's corresponding "Beyond the Book" article - for free!


Reader Review: "An American Marriage"

Top Reader Reviews - Sat, 02/24/2018 - 06:00
by Betty Taylor (Macon GA): 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.


Reader Review: "The Wife Between Us"

Top Reader Reviews - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 06:00
by Steph (Charlottesville): I want to avoid as much plot as possible because I don't want to ruin a single thing. There are some fantastic twisty bits to The Wife Between Us that genuinely run you over like a semi truck and I don't want to offer any hints. I did have to go back and reread some portions to try and suss out exactly what was going on. You'll need to use your brain a bit for this one.

Vanessa, ex-wife to Richard, is down on her luck and living in a small apartment with her aunt. Post divorce, she's gone from housewife to retail hell at Saks. She's an addict, alcohol being her drug of choice. I think that was one major thing that bothered me about The Wife Between Us. It's very en vogue these days to use alcohol issues as the perfect foil to create an unreliable narrator. It's been done several times and ways and every time I'm left feeling a little cold.

Nellie, Richard's soon to be new wife, is the anti-Vanessa. She's bright, teaches pre-school and is a genuinely happy and refreshing interval every other chapter. Where Vanessa is dark and brooding, Nellie is light and joyful… until Richard's ex starts to turn up. Or so it seems.

Initially I gave The Wife Between Us three stars. Then I thought about the book for a few days, always a good sign, and bumped it to 3.5. And then I sat down to review it today and thought "what the heck" and put it up to four. The fact that I'm still thinking about it even two weeks later means it has stuck with me, and with as many books as I read that's quite an accomplishment.


Reader Review: "The Great Alone"

Top Reader Reviews - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 06:00
by Susie J (Indiana): I so looked forward to this new book by Kristin Hannah because her previous title was so rewarding and satisfying. Unfortunately, this one is far from that - at least for me. The repetition in this book is unbelievable - how could an editor have allowed this to pass? In addition, many of the events in the book are simply too far-fetched to actually occur under the circumstances. Too much happens in too short a time or space. There are brief segments where the prose literally sings, and once I arrived at that point I took a deep breath and hoped I had passed the worst - only to be disappointed again and again. The publishing house fell far short on this one, I feel. Either that or I am asking myself who really wrote Kristin Hannah's great World War II novel of a short time ago.


Reader Review: "The Great Alone"

Top Reader Reviews - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 06:00
by Veronica: I read this book in one setting. I couldn't put it down. The characters just captured me and kept me enthralled. I visited Alaska in the 70's and the descriptions of the state are right on. Beautiful, but brutal. Just as the characters were beautiful, but brutal. I believe Kristin Hannah did it again.


Reader Review: "Only Child"

Top Reader Reviews - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 06:00
by Carole: 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.


Read, Watch & Discuss! Five great book club books that are now movies

Editor's blog - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 20:09
Of course, we think any season is the right season to read, but winter can be a perfect time to read and watch! What better way to keep busy in these cold, dark months than reading with your book club, watching the movie version and then discussing both? It's always fun to watch characters you know and love come to life on the screen, and book club discussions can be broadened to explore comparisons between the book and movie. If you love books that delve into relationships, Our Souls at Night, and Call Me by Your Name are great choices. If you're interested in broader, social issue focused novels, we recommend Mudbound, Thank You for Your Service and The Colour Bar: The True Story of a Love That Shook an Empire (movie title: ... [More]

Reader Review: "The Women in the Castle"

Top Reader Reviews - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 06:00
by Nancy: '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.


When Fantasy is More Real Than Nonfiction

Editor's blog - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 00:01
Ask me with a gun to my head if I believe in them, all the gods and myths that I write about, and I'd have to say no. Not literally. Not in the daylight, nor in well-lit places, with people about. But I believe in the stories we can tell with them. I believe in the reflections that they show us when they are told. And forget it or ignore it at your peril, it remains true: these stories have power. - Neil Gaiman, from Reflections on Myth It is through fantasy that we have always sought to make sense of the world, not through reason…It is through the fictive projections of our imaginations based on personal experience that we have sought to grasp, explain, alter, and comment on reality. This is again why such staples as the... [More]

Reader Review: "The Women in the Castle"

Top Reader Reviews - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 06:00
by Roberta (Albuquerque): I loved this book. It is the story of three widows whose lives become intertwined during WWII in Germany. They are brought together as a result of the failed resistance plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. Marianne von Lingenfels promises one of the resisters that she will find and protect the other wives. She brings them together and from then on we learn about their joint and individual past and present struggles.

For me this book was deeply personal. My mother was a German war refugee and at so many points in the book I was reminded of her "story". Millions of Germans had similar stories and I was once again reminded of their suffering and the atrocities of war.

I also loved that this story was about and told by women. Their experiences and the ripple effects of war as well as their own actions and decisions makes this narrative even more compelling.

I do have some minor criticisms. The narrative goes back and forth in time and sometimes it is confusing to keep track of what has or has not happened as you read it. (Why are so many authors using this technique these days?) And there is a chapter after the book ends that the author did not include in the main narrative. I think it should have been included.

I highly recommend this book.


Reader Review: "The Walking Dead"

Top Reader Reviews - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 06:00
by Dick Minim (Essex): 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.


A Few Outstanding Women War Correspondents

Editor's blog - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 14:55
Souad Mekhennet is one of many women journalists who have entered dangerous situations to try to inform the world about conditions in a war zone. A few of the most influential and best-known, now deceased, are listed below. [More]

Six Debut Novels for Book Clubs in 2018

Editor's blog - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 20:34
As we settle into 2018, here are six of the best debut novels to read and discuss during the year. If you love books about place and community, Golden Hill, The Big Dry and If the Creek Don't Rise all transport readers to the streets of small towns and big cities and into the hearts of the people who struggle to make their lives there. Secrets are held – and readers' attentions are held too! – in both The Second Mrs. Hockaday and The Mothers. And, finally, readers can't help but root for quirky, clever teenager Ginny Moon even as she resists the loving family that finally wants to bring her home. All of these debuts are sure to spark emotion and conversation and are great bets for your book club! Read on for information on each... [More]

Reader Review: "Ginny Moon"

Top Reader Reviews - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 06:00
by Ellen F: I wasn't prepared to like this book or the main character. I thought it was going to be a very different type of book. The author brings the reader into Ginny's world as the story develops. I could empathize with all of the characters in her life and begin to understand how Ginny has invented ways to cope with the life she has been dealt. I found myself rooting for her dysfunctional mother despite what had gone before because the deep ties of family were apparent. I ended up loving the book and came away wiser having read Ginny's story.