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Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

Reader Review: "Havana"

Sat, 04/22/2017 - 06:00
by CarolP (Tuscaloosa, Alabama): "Havana" is a nicely written introduction to this great city and its history and current culture. I have traveled there twice and regret this book was not available during my preparatory reading. A very accurate description of the area, devoid of romantic prose or political bias, my only regret was the lack of any mention of the ever prevalent signs of Santeria; is it a widespread religious practice, representative of the culture, or simply more of a touristic anomaly? The many wonderful novels about life in Cuba, before, during, and after the Revolution, may paint more emotional pictures, but a person wishing to grasp quickly a solid, factual summary of this city in current times will find this a fast and useful read.

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Reader Review: "Lincoln in the Bardo"

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 06:00
by Lorri S (New Jersey): Just brilliant. I was skeptical at first because the structure of the novel is so unconventional (in the best way), but I believe the narrative carries you until you catch up and then you are just swept up. I was sobbing by the end. I will recommend it to everyone who will listen to me. George Saunders captures the hopefulness of life even in the face of its fragility and the inevitability of death. Saunders does not romanticize this, some of the characters are repellent but in a very human way. The narrative elicits some kind of primal empathy. For me, life changing.

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Reader Review: "The Opposite of Everyone"

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 06:00
by Linda Zagon (Melville,NY 11747): I would like to thank BookBrowse for a copy of "The Opposite of Everyone" by Joshilyn Jackson. The author writes about family, betrayal, trust,traditions.love and growth.The story centers around a character ,Paula Vauss a successful divorce attorney, and her journey to discover her relationship with her mother, family, and boyfriend. Paula's roots start with a dysfunctional young mother,Kai, who tells stories using Hindu as well as southern tradition. Kai makes many wrong choices, and goes to jail leaving Paula to grow up in a foster system. The children and the foster system contribute to Paula's poor self esteem. Paula feels guilty that she is separated from her mother, and believes that she betrayed her. This starts a pattern when Paula is constantly trying to make amends with Kai. As a successful attorney Paula sends money to Kai, to try to make amends, and mend their relationship. Paula has no address for her mother,just a post office box, and at one point Kai sends the money back with a cryptic note. The story starts off very slowly, but picks up and there are different twists and surprises. Many of the characters in this novel and Paula's life are broken and dysfunctional. I do like Paula and feel that she does show courage and growth. In my opinion this novel has many layers , and is very deep. I would recommend "The Opposite of Everyone", but please keep in mind it is a heavy read.

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Reader Review: "A Gentleman in Moscow"

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 06:00
by Alice: One of the best books I've ever read! Savor each chapter.

Short ones lead us into more serious chapters which lengthen with the depth of the story and the times.

We are confined to the Hotel just as is the Count and I marveled at his patience, joy of living, and philosophical insights during the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia. From a grand suite of rooms to a tiny attic with him we meet many interesting characters.

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Reader Review: "Victoria"

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 06:00
by BeckyH (Chicago): This book covers only Victoria's early life and first few years of her long reign. Goodwin is a writer of historical fiction that borders on "women's fiction." She has a tendency to emphasis the more salacious and gossip laden events in the life of the person written about. That said the book is interesting and well researched. The life of a young girl manipulated by those around her and surrounded by great wealth and all its accouterments is discussed in great detail. Victoria is saved by the one scrupulous man in her life: Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister. Early Victorian English society, and the lives of the not-so-privileged, is covered well. (The book gives much more detail than the TV series and gives a more accurate portrayal of Victorian England. ) 4 of 5 stars

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Reader Review: "The Opposite of Everyone"

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 06:00
by takngmytime (Illinois): This novel grabbed me in the first few pages and I had trouble putting it down. Not only is Joshilyn Jackson an accomplished writer, she is entertaining and imaginative.

Written in first person, Attorney Paula Vauss, aka Kali Jai, leads us down a winding lane of chaos, intermingling sadness, happiness, loss, redemption, love and family transformation along the way. From the days of traveling with her wild eccentric Mother to the lonely days of state placement to the "love 'um and leave 'um" lifestyle she maintains as an adult, we meet the people who hold her interest and influence her along the way. Continually paying off her "debt" to her Mother, Paula suddenly finds herself a sibling. Not once, but twice.

"You know how Karma works", is the final piece of the puzzle her dying Hindu-mythology-loving Mother leaves for her, as it changes her life forever.

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Reader Review: "The Atomic Weight of Love"

Mon, 03/27/2017 - 06:00
by CharleneDS: I was surprised how much I loved this book. I was sorry when it ended because I felt very connected to Meridian. I thought this was a very honest portrayal of a woman's life - especially for that time period. I lived through much of it myself and could totally identify with what she was going through. I'm passing this book along to friends with my highest recommendation.

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Reader Review: "The Atomic Weight of Love"

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 06:00
by PiperUp: This one snuck up on me! I didn't realize how emotionally invested I was until I had tears in my eyes while reading the last chapter. Each chapter is titled after a group of specific birds, "An Exaltation of Larks", "A Murder of Crows", etc. with a description of the type of bird & usually an example of the phrase being used in literature or the symbolism of the bird in mythology. It's an extremely clever device that foreshadows what will occur in each chapter & provides additional context information related to both the plot line & ornithology. And...let's not forget the crows! I enjoyed reading about Meridian's studies of a murder of crows over the course of the years. Her studies are another clever plot device that enhanced the book. They're extremely social animals with a high level of intellect including extremely impressive memory & communication skills. I have both a fascination & a tiny fear of crows so I found Meridian's studies of crows to be quite captivating.

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Reader Review: "The Atomic Weight of Love"

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 06:00
by Julie F. (Michigan): I enjoyed this book. While the characters in the story are a bit one-dimensional, the relationships and interactions make the story come alive. Meri's naïveté, particularle after 20 years of marriage, doesn't match her intelligence. Yet the story reflects that all of us make choices, and often our choices have unexpected and far-reaching consequences.

I also enjoyed the science and history reflected throughout the book. While fictional, it is an educational and accurate portrayal. I highly recommend this book for women's book clubs, as it will foster a lively and thoughtful discussion about the choices we all have made. The book is not appropriate for high school groups, due the several more graphic passage.

The book is now on my "recommended" list!

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Reader Review: "The Opposite of Everyone"

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 06:00
by Sandi W. (Illinois): This novel grabbed me in the first few pages and I had trouble putting it down. Not only is Joshilyn Jackson an accomplished writer, she is entertaining and imaginative. Written in first person, Attorney Paula Vauss, aka Kali Jai, leads us down a winding lane of chaos, intermingling sadness, happiness, loss, redemption, love and family transformation along the way. From the days of traveling with her wild eccentric Mother to the lonely days of state placement to the "love 'um and leave 'um" lifestyle she maintains as an adult, we meet the people who hold her interest and influence her along the way. Continually paying off her "debt" to her Mother, Paula suddenly finds herself a sibling. Not once, but twice. "You know how Karma works", is the final piece of the puzzle her dying Hindu-mythology-loving Mother leaves for her, as it changes her life forever.

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Reader Review: "Finding Fish"

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 06:00
by Gram: As a former treatment foster parent, I can testify to the validity of the experiences "Fish" had in his foster homes. There are great foster homes and there are no so great foster homes. I have seen them all. Of the approximately 17 teens I fostered, all of them had been abused by their parent(s) and all of them were still searching for the approval of their parents. The foster sons who have stayed in touch with me are all reunited with their families in spite of extreme neglect and or abuse. Some of them are what I call a success in that they have jobs they enjoy and they are good employees who show up on time and don't abuse sick days. One young man in particular had come to me from our state youth correctional facility and now is a dad with a successful dog training business and a teacher of martial arts. I learned something about myself from each one of my foster sons and I would do it all over again.

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Reader Review: "Idaho"

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 06:00
by dpfaef (Inland Northwest): When you read a book about murder especially a horrific murder you expect a resolution, an explanation, something to ease the pain. In Idaho Emily Ruskovich gives you none of that.

Ann knows when she married Wade that he has early on-set dementia and that his first wife murdered one of their children. The beauty of the story is not about the murder, but how Ann goes about bringing closure to an act that was so brutal. We don't often get a glimpse of the aftermath of a tragedy, it goes against our sensibilities not to know what happened but the author is more concerned with how life continues after such a tragedy. The book spans a thirty year period, moving from present to past, back and forth from character to character each giving us just a bit of insight always moving forward never back.

Idaho is beautifully written book but, challenging as it does not move in the direction you expect, it will move you from comfort zone.

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Reader Review: "The Bees"

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 06:00
by OGPLibrarian (Georgia, New Jersey, Montana, Wyoming, New Hampshire): While the elite class and the middle class battle, the lowliest and least respected rise to leadership. A "foreign" untouchable sanitation worker preservers to become a respected leader bringing change from the least expected sect.

I read a print version while listening and had to keep pausing the audible version while annotating my print copy. Some lovely language throughout. Lots of interesting tidbits for gardeners and want-to-be bee keepers or regular folk wanting to provide habitat for pollinators.

Provocative take on some social concepts and behaviors... I think this would make an interesting book group choice paired with Animal Farm, Handmaid's Tale or even The Giver trilogy

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Reader Review: "This Is How It Always Is"

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 06:00
by Linda Zagon (Melville,NY): WOW!! Kudos to Laurie Frankel, author or "This is How it Always Is". The genre of this book is Fiction, but in the author's notes she courageously writes that the motivation comes from her living with a family member with the same issues.

Rosie and Penn have five children. Rosie is a Physician and Penn is a writer, and tells the children made up fairy tales. The baby of the family Claude is different. Claude loves to wear dresses, play with dolls, wears jewelry, Barrettes in his hair,and approaches life differently than his brothers.Claude is happiest when can do this.Rosie and Penn want to see their children happy. Claude draws himself with long hair and dresses.At first his parents feel that all children go through phases.

This is a controversial topic that ?is spoken about currently, but I feel that many of these issues just have always existed but never were addressed as openly. Children(and adults) can be devastatingly cruel, be bullies, and do not accept whatever the "norm" should be. It is not often that we speak of transgender children, sometimes as young as three.

Laurie Frankel gives me much to think about. Should answers be black and white, yes or no? Does a person have to make up their mind if they feel they are a girl/boy? Is it so simple? Should society force families to keep a "secret" if their feelings don't conform to what is supposedly expected?

I love the way that Laurie Frankel writes about family, love, support and acceptance I also feel that the hardest job in life is to be a parent. Of course, we want to see our children happy, but can we admit that we have certain expectations that might be or not be in our children's best interest?

I highly recommend this intriguing novel. It is so very different and unique, and Laurie Frankel's descriptions are amazing!

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Reader Review: "The Narrow Road to the Deep North"

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 06:00
by Cloggie Downunder (Thirroul): "There was around him an exhausted emptiness, an impenetrable void cloaked this most famously collegial man, as if he already lived in another place – forever unravelling and refurling a limitless dream or an unceasing nightmare, it was hard to know – from which he would never escape. He was a lighthouse whose light could not be relit"

The Narrow Road to The Deep North is the sixth novel by award-winning Australian author, Richard Flanagan. Despite his humble beginnings in a remote Tasmanian village filled with "verandah-browed wooden cottages", Dorrigo Evans is clever enough to get scholarships for high school and university. He leaves the locale where he used to "smell the damp bark and drying leaves and watch clans of green and red musk lorikeets chortling far above. He would drink in the birdsong of the wrens and the honeyeaters, the whipcrack call of the jo-wittys…"

By 1940, he is a promising young surgeon, engaged to Ella Lansbury, a girl from the right sort of family, when he joins the army. Stationed near Adelaide while awaiting dispatch overseas, Dorrigo's chance encounter with his Uncle Keith's young second wife, Any Mulvaney, results in a liaison he could neither have anticipated nor resisted.

A few years on, Dorrigo Evans is a Prisoner of War, in command of a thousand men charged with building the Burma Railway, where cruelty and death were unwelcome, but commonplace: "They had smoked to keep the dead out of their nostrils, they had joked to keep the dead from preying on their minds, they had eaten to remind themselves they were alive…"

Dorrigo is constantly wracked with feelings of inadequacy, but "He could do this, he told himself… He had no belief he could do it, but others believed he could do it. And if he believed in them believing in him, maybe he could hold onto himself"

The survivors return home to a life that feels alien: "He didn't fit with his own life anymore, his own life was breaking down, and all that did fit – his job, his family – seemed to be coming apart". Dorrigo goes through the motions, marries, has three children and "Occasionally, he felt something within him angry and defiant, but he was weary in a way he had never known, and it seemed far easier to allow his life to be arranged by a much broader general will than by his own individual, irrational and no doubt misplaced terrors"

A celebrated surgeon and a war hero, Dorrigo despises the society of which he is part: "He did not believe in virtue. Virtue was vanity dressed up and waiting for applause". From those who have been there, he sometimes hears words of wisdom: "Adversity brings out the best in us, the podgy War Graves Commission officer sitting next to him had said… It's the everyday living that does us in"

Using multiple narrators, Flanagan examines the well-known cruelty of the Japanese captors from both sides. He also exposes the staggeringly selfish attitudes of POW officers, the sometimes secretive, sometimes selfish and sometimes extraordinarily generous behaviour of enlisted men, and also the postwar politics of punishment. With descriptive prose that is exquisite, it is no wonder that this novel is a winner of several awards and a nominee for many more. Profoundly moving.

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Reader Review: "If I Was Your Girl"

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 06:00
by Nanette S. (Indiana): A good storyline for all ages. No matter how/why you may believe life should be lived, this story will show one author's take about a "different" lifestyle than the "norm". It is not a preachy book about how the rights or wrongs about life, especially in high school, should be/ not be lived by any individual, nor about how one should react to any individual and their lifestyle choice, it is simply a story about a girl, and how she must handle her choices made during her high school years and beyond. It does not delve too heavily about medical operations, or about the way of life in the early years, or about the relationships created in a new high school. This story just is. It would really have a multitude of subject matter for any book club.

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Reader Review: "A Piece of the World"

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 06:00
by Cindy B: A Piece of this World is inspired by Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World. I am a fan of both Andrew and N.C. Wyeth's paintings and was therefore very eager to read this book. While I love the painting Christina's World and have seen it on display a number of times at MoMA, I never realized that Wyeth based the painting on someone he knew.

The story goes back and forth through time slowly imagining Christina's sad story and how Andrew Wyeth came to know and paint her. Christina spent her entire life living in her family's dilapidated farm house in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. As a young child, she developed a debilitating disease that was never diagnosed but slowly robbed her of the ability to walk and use her limbs effectively. While she was quite intelligent, her father made her leave school after eighth grade and tend to household items. She never fully got over having to abandon her education. Between the school issue, her illness, and an unhappy romance, Christina developed into a complicated and sometimes bitter woman making choices that demonstrated her acrimony. I found it hard to like her but enjoyed learning her story.

Wyeth met Christina one summer when his family was visiting Maine. They went on to develop a relationship that lasted many years. Andrew Wyeth brought out a more sympathetic side of Christina, which he immortalized in his painting. The portions of the story where Wyeth appears and interacts with both Christina and her brother Al were my favorites.

Christina Baker Kline writes a character driven novel that brings Christina's World vividly to life. Thanks to BookBrowse and William Morrow for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Reader Review: "Moonglow"

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 06:00
by Jocelyn (Michigan): 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.

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Reader Review: "The Ghost of the Mary Celeste"

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 06:00
by lisa lewis: 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"!

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Reader Review: "The Universe Within"

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 06:00
by Ailsa: 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!

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