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Feed of the ten most recent reader reviews recommended by Bookbrowse.
Updated: 9 min 57 sec ago

Reader Review: "Sing, Unburied, Sing"

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 06:00
by Nadja (California): I love Jesmyn Ward, so I grabbed this off the ARC shelf at work as soon as I saw it! She writes in a way that sucks you into the world of the characters, and manages to evoke pity even for the most unlikeable people by giving us a way to connect with their human experience. You will think about these people and their lives and how so many are set up to fail from the very beginning. This one will definitely punch you in the gut but it's worth it. I won't even try to describe what happens because I'm too afraid to accidentally provide spoilers. Highly recommend!

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Reader Review: "If the Creek Don't Rise"

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 06:00
by jill (NJ): Tucked in to the Appalachian Mountains, the people of Baines Creek live a hard luck, hard scrabble life. Tied together by tradition, misfortune, and a distrust of outsiders they make their way by whatever means necessary. A product of that environment, without formal education, a family support system and self-esteem, Sadie Blue does what many girls in her situation are prone to. Sadie falls for the first smooth talking man that looks her way and jumps from a bad situation to a horrible one. An outsider, with a story of her own to tell, befriends Sadie and gives her the strength to do what needs to be done. With help with some of the creek's residents, some strange and some downright otherworldly Sadie begins to climb out of the situation she's found herself in. The area and its inhabitants and so well written and deeply explored that you can almost visualize them. I could not put this book down and its inhabitants have stayed with me in the days afterward.

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Reader Review: "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things"

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 06:00
by Michelle (Omaha, Nebraska): Alright, yes this was a tough read at times. Nothing about this book is black and white, there is just too much that matters and influence why things happen the way they do. I might have been on the fence about how I felt about this book if the author left the reader with questions as to what it was really about and left parts of the story to be filled based on a reader's interpretation. But she didn't... this story was about true love, no question. Sometimes love and life doesn't fall into a perfect little fairytale that can make everyone happy; they fall into something that is filled with such deep cracks to begin with the odds are great it won't survive. This is that story. This book pushed me out of my comfort zone, was very well written, and will stay with me for a long time ~

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Reader Review: "Cutting For Stone"

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 06:00
by Becky H (Chicago): Although long (perhaps a bit too long), this tale of brothers holds your attention. When an Italian nun, woefully unprepared for a mission in Africa, turns up at a medical mission in Ethiopia, she is welcomed because of her skill with patients and her ability to serve as nurse to a highly skilled but disconnected surgeon. After she gives birth unexpectedly to twin boys, the story switches to the boys, raised at the mission, and the "family" at the mission that raises them to adulthood. World War II and the civil war that later divides Ethiopia into political factions serve as the background for this fascinating tale of medicine, natives, doctors, politicians and family. Secrets and intrigue abound and are satisfyingly brought to a conclusion as the two boys search for their birth father and fulfilling lives in the midst of great love and great upheaval. 5 of 5 stars

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Reader Review: "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things"

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 06:00
by Rebecca (Western USA): I haven't stayed up late to finish a book in a long time, but that is exactly what I did for ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS. I had to know what the outcome would be for this novel's young female protagonist in a book which tells a story with unique American characters, and some gritty, tense moments. The problematic, substance-abuse situations sounded real, and at the end of the book when I read some background on the author, I understood why this book was believable. This book is not a make believe world where everyone is wealthy and gorgeous; it is real, taking the reader down back roads that we all know exist. People with money might be able to pay for prescriptions for opiod drugs and have "acceptable" substance abuse problems that our society feels free to talk about and have television ads about, up to and including opiod-induced constipation with clean cut, hardworking citizens endorsing the drug remedies. This book is not that clean, suburban world. I know that some readers might be put off by some of the rough, intimate scenes and a few of the words used to describe it, but this book is realistic. Without the gritty aspect, it would be like reading a history book of Europe in WWII and having Hitler's regime described as "Since Hitler did not want to be friends with Jewish people, he asked them to move out of his country." I will not forget reading about the character named Waverly.

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Reader Review: "Miss Jane"

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:00
by AnnieP (South Carolina): A very unusual book! An interesting treatment of a problem a woman and her family has to deal with from her birth and through her entire life. Even though it is the cause of her way of life, it's handled reasonably without great and gory detail. The characters are alive and real, and although there are some "raw" scenes, it's part of Miss Jane's life, and well-presented. Even though it's not for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, enough to get a couple of Watson's other stories as well.

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Reader Review: "Being Mortal"

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 06:00
by Peggy (Morton Grove, Illinois): This book adds greatly to the conversation of aging, death, and quality of life issues. It goes further than most by flipping the discussion on its head by not defining a "good death" but rather the a "good life". One should always strive to define for themselves what they want to do-- not allowing the medical establishment to try to prolong life as long as it can. Autonomy, dignity, and personal choice can only be decided by the individual. Sometimes families lovingly get in the way of the dying.

My only criticism is that Dr Gawande's sharing of many anecdotal stories became somewhat redundant. His account of his fathers' death, however, was very moving! The book needed tighter editing in my opinion. Overall, I highly recommend. His list of source material is extensive and provides further investigation for those interested.

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Reader Review: "Castle of Water"

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 06:00
by lani: What looked like an ordinary novel of 2 castaways on a deserted island in French Polynesia turned out to be anything but. Barry Bleecker, a frustrated artist and former Wall Street financier has left NYC to follow the path of Gauguin and derive inspiration. Sophie Ducel, newly married, is flying with her new husband to visit the land of Jacques Brel for her honeymoon. However, their prop plane crashes way off course with no flight plan filed and thus begins the most amazing adventure. Part of the story is told from above as if a reporter was elucidating their life ; the other part is direct conversation between the participants. But oh the prose, oh the lessons learned of struggle, cooperation and love elevate this from a simple story to something divine. Poignant and thoughtful it elucidates the real meaning of home.

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Reader Review: "News of the World"

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 06:00
by S Hofsommer (Minnesota): Having lived in West Texas, studied Texas history and taught literature set in this country, I found the book a joy to read. Those who are familiar with the film "The Searchers" know about Indians capturing white settlers' children and bringing them up as their own. My book club members knew little about the history of this time or the setting, so we had a lively discussion. I strongly recommend a book with a good plot set in an accurately portrayed setting.

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Reader Review: "Being Mortal"

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 06:00
by Gloria: Atul Gawande's "Being Mortal" actually made me feel better about growing older and, eventually, frailer. Just knowing that there are people like him that are trying to make longer lives better lives gives me great comfort. This book should be in every home. And now I want to read his other books, too.

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Reader Review: "A Gentleman in Moscow"

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 06:00
by Cloggie Downunder (Thirroul): "Some might wonder that the two men should consider themselves to be old friends having only known each other for four years; but the tenure of friendships has never been governed by the passage of time. These two would have felt like old friends had they met just hours before. To some degree, this was because they were kindred spirits – finding ample evidence of common ground and cause for laughter in the midst of effortless conversation; but it was also almost certainly a matter of upbringing. Raised in grand homes in cosmopolitan cities, educated in the liberal arts, graced with idle hors, and exposed to the finest things, though the Count and the American had been born ten years and four thousand miles apart, they had more in common with each other than they had with the majority of their countrymen."

A Gentleman in Moscow is the second novel by American author, Amor Towles. At the age of thirty-two, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov finds himself under house arrest in Moscow's Hotel Metropol. It's 1922, and the Bolsheviks are in charge; as an aristocrat, Count Rostov becomes a Former Person. Rostov has been occupying a suite on the third floor; now he leaves behind for "The People" all that he cannot fit into a tiny attic room three floors up. A good friend states, much later "Who would have imagined, when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia."

Towles drops his readers into Rostov's life every few years, bringing them up to date on significant events and people. If his detention is meant to be a punishment, Rostov is determined to make the best of it, and does so, despite some shaky times and one suicidal moment. Already well respected before his confinement, within a few years Count Rostov's role goes significantly beyond that of an involuntary guest held in great affection. For loved and respected he indeed is, by guests and all bar one member of the Metropol's staff.

This is not an action-packed page-turner, although there is a good dose of intrigue, some romance, plenty of humour and a rather exciting climax. This is a novel that meanders along at a gentle pace. Towles is a skilful storyteller: even seemingly unimportant details woven into the narrative prove their significance if the reader is patient. As well as exploring the philosophies of friendship and of politics, his setting facilitates a suitably nasty and vindictive petty bureaucrat, and a very fine example of communist equality policy at its silliest.

This is a novel with love and loyalty, compassion and quite a lot of wisdom, all wrapped is beautiful prose: "For if a room that exists under the governance, authority, and intent of others seems smaller than it is, then a room that exists in secret can, regardless of its dimensions, seem as vast as one cares to imagine". David Nicholls describes Towles's first novel as "terrific"; his fans might think this one is too. Simply wonderful!

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Reader Review: "Who Is Rich?"

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 06:00
by Lola425: Read this if you like male protagonists who have literally nothing to complain about but complain anyway. Rich is miserable because he makes bad choices, generally originating from between his legs instead of his ears. In trying to prove himself he proves nothing.

Klam is funny and he creates a world that is so self-involved and self-reverential and ridiculous that it is believable and recognizable. The characters are well-written and yet I felt zero empathy for Rich.

I like to read books where characters are struggling with who they are. I enjoy existential crisis. So even if I didn't like Rich, I did like the book.

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Reader Review: "Less"

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 06:00
by Lola425 (Ridgewood, NJ): Put this on your must read. I read this on vacation a week after turning fifty so I was ripe for Arthur Less' experiences, but on every page there is something to love. This is a book about the pull of nostalgia, of looking back, because the thought of moving forward is too painful or scary. This is a book about love and what makes a love affair, a marriage, a friendship a success (longevity? intensity?). It is a book about looking at who you are and deciding if you like who that person is and if you don't do you have it in you to become your best self? And it's a book where you make fictional friend and wish desperately for him to figure it out.

I loved Arthur from page one and soaked a sleeve of my sweatshirt with tears of sadness and frustration and joy and beauty. I also laughed. Which is how life goes, both tragedy and comedy, and hopefully we all end up like Arthur, with just enough of both.

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Reader Review: "Our Souls at Night"

Sat, 08/26/2017 - 06:00
by Judith Bates: This is a short book, only 179 pages, and it is Kent Haruf's last book before he passed away and, of course, it takes place in Holt, Colorado. I think this is the best of his books,, although they are all good! It is a story about two senior people who have been "sort of friend" for many years. She knew his wife, but they were not close friends. Both his wife and her husband have passed away. This is a story that will make you happy and sad! It is undoubtedly one of the best stories I have ever read! It is a story about two people who "find" each other; there is happiness and sadness! Read it you will like it! It is the perfect story!

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Reader Review: "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness"

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 06:00
by Cloggie Downunder (Thirroul): "Their wounds were too old and too new, too different, and perhaps too deep, for healing. But for a fleeting moment, they were able to pool them like accumulated gambling debts and share the pain equally, without naming injuries or asking which was whose. For a fleeting moment they were able to repudiate the world they lived in and call forth another one, just as real."

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is the second novel by Booker Prize winning author, Arundhati Roy. The story begins with Aftab, whose confusion about what he was found relief at the Khwabgah, among other hijra. He became Anjum, and eventually she ran the Jannat Guest House (in its highly unusual location), a refuge for the quirky, the oppressed, the different.

Integral to the tale is S. Tilottama, real and adopted daughter of Maryam Ipe. Tilo's story, and that of the three men who love her, is told not only by her, but by Dr Azad Bhartiya (fasting Free Indian), Biplab Desgupta (her ex-Intelligence Bureau landlord), and Musa Yeswi (elusive militant). Filling out the quirky cast are a paraven calling himself Saddam Hussain, Zainab the Bandicoot, Naga the journalist, a singing teacher, and an abandoned baby, to name just a few.

How all their lives intersect and how these lives are impacted upon by Government and policy, and in particular, the Kashmiri freedom struggles, is told using vignettes, anecdotes, loosely connected short stories, moral tales, memos, disjointed scraps, accounts that take detours and meander off on tangents. As with Rushdie, Seth and Mistry, this novel has that unmistakeable, essential Indian quality, in characters, in dialogue, in plot.

But here, moreso than in The God of Small Things, the fact that this is a novel by Arundhati Roy the social activist, is very much in evidence (as readers of her non-fiction works will attest) and thus includes illustrations of the many issues against which she rails. Some reviewers describe this novel as "preachy"; the causes are worthy, but readers may feel that is it is only a shade off being exactly that, and perhaps be forgiven for wishing that it was more novel, less moral tale.

Some of Roy's descriptive prose, as with in The God of Small Things, is staggeringly beautiful, poetic and profound: "They understood of course that it was a dirge for a fallen empire whose international borders had shrunk to a grimy ghetto circumscribed by the ruined walls of an old city. And yes, they realised that it was also a rueful comment on Mulaqat Ali's own straitened circumstances. What escaped them was that the couplet was a sly snack, a perfidious samosa, a warning wrapped in mourning, being offered with faux humility by an erudite man who had absolute faith in his listeners' ignorance of Udru, a language which, like most of those who spoke it, was gradually being ghettoized."

However, the vague and veiled references to certain personages, events and ideas which are, perhaps, obvious to those familiar with Indian current affairs, will go straight over the heads of other readers, the message will be lost or less than clear. There is humour, heartache, despair and hope, there is much cruelty but also abundant kindness, making it a moving and powerful read.

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Reader Review: "Birdsong"

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 06:00
by mike speake: Quite simply the best book that I have ever read. A feast of intense story-line, history, love, horror, emotion, description, frailty. I read it ten years ago and am now re-reading it. I just cannot put it down.

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Reader Review: "Beartown"

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 06:00
by Cloggie Downunder (Thirroul): The Scandal (also titled Beartown) is the fourth full-length novel by Swedish blogger, columnist and author, Fredrik Backman. It is translated from Swedish by Neil Smith. As remote as this place in the forest is, and barely surviving economic downturns, closures and redundancies, Beartown has one thing going for it: the Beartown Ice Hockey Club Juniors. While the A Team is pretty well hopeless, the Juniors have a star who might just get them to the Final in the big city. And that would bring the attention of sponsors and investors and governing bodies. A kick start for the town would be most welcome, as even those Beartown residents who don't like ice hockey will acknowledge.

But in the hubris of an interim win, someone steps beyond the bounds of the decency that could be expected, and that whole promising future is thrown into jeopardy.

Backman's opening sentence tantalises the reader: "Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's head and pulled the trigger." The mystery of who and how and why is gradually revealed, and involves some twists and a red herring or two, as well as a good dose of philosophising, quite a lot of social commentary and much ice hockey.

Backman is very skilled at the short vignette that describes his minor characters, and also certain important incidents in the lives of major characters. None of his characters is one-dimensional: all have flaws and most have a conscience; some disappoint and some surprise; many keep secrets and some act out of guilt or the hope to protect their loved ones from hurt.

In this tale, Backman touches on several topical themes: the behaviour of sporting team members off the field; peer pressure and bullying; "blame the victim" mentality; loyalty and responsibility; the tacit acceptance of the violence inherent in contact sport; and the sense of entitlement that often affects the privileged. Yes, there is a lot of Ice Hockey in this story, but it could actually be centred around any team sport in a remote town to the same effect. There is a very slow build-up to the climax, which may be frustrating for some readers, but patience is rewarded. Backman presents moral and ethical dilemmas in a realistic fashion, but is his formula wearing just a little thin? This is a very good read, but not a brilliant one.

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Reader Review: "The Nightingale"

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 06:00
by K.McBride (Louisiana): I used to teach high school English, so I have read more than my share of novels. I used to read them and make AR tests so the kids would have books to read that they liked. I preferred mysteries but could not help but read a novel with so many star reviews. I reluctantly bought it and for the next two days I cried, laughed, hoped, hurt, etc. It affected me profoundly. I cannot recommend this novel enough. Even if it is not your usual genre, read the sample and you will be hooked.

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Reader Review: "Redemption Road"

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 06:00
by Becky H (Chicago): WOW. John Hart really knows how to write an engrossing, heart pounding, well plotted mystery…… and he can do it with a minimum of sex, blood and vulgar language. A disgraced cop, a damaged cop, a terrified girl and a bereft child all come together in this tale of violence and corruption. Greed and power fuel the bad guys. You will have to read the book to discover what motivates the good guys. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Who, or what, is redeemed? 5 of 5 stars

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Reader Review: "News of the World"

Sun, 07/30/2017 - 06:00
by Gloria (Pa.): The first time I read "News of the World," I breezed through it because I couldn't wait to find out how the story ended. The second time I read it (which was immediately after the first), I slowed down to savor the details I had missed the first time and to luxuriate in Paulette Jiles' lush language. It's that good.

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