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The Review
BookBrowse Highlights
April 10, 2014
In This Issue

Editor's Choice
First Impressions
Publishing Soon

Now Discussing
Book Club Infographic

Vietnamese Legends
Meet the Reviewers
Say No to Plot Spoilers!
Q&A: Anthony Marra
Movies Based on Books
Book News

Books Set in France

Why Do We Say?




I think this is our most packed newsletter ever - rich with books and book related topics to explore!

We have reviews of four recently published books our members have been reading for our "First Impressions" program; and in a new occasional feature we invite you to meet our professional reviewers and find out what they've been reading and reviewing recently.

We go "beyond the book" to explore Vietnamese legends, find out what movies based on books are opening soon, and tell you why reviewers should just say no to plot spoilers!

In our book club section you can join us to discuss books - there's three discussions open now and two opening soon - so please mark your calendars to join us for these. In addition, don't miss our infographic, "Book Clubs by The Numbers" stuffed with interesting nuggets to share with your book club. 

All this and much more awaits you!

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New & Notable  

Editor's Choice

Gemini by Carol Cassella

Hardcover (March 04, 2014), 352 pages.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
ISBN 9781451627930

BookBrowse Rating: 5/5
Critics' Consensus:  4.6/5

How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes overly involved with, then inexorably linked to, her comatose patient, an unidentified hit-and-run accident victim? Good enough to make a reviewer (ok, me) forget about a deadline to review another book for a different editor. Yup. That other book - a not-bad one to boot - had to take a backseat because I was just that engrossed in Dr. Charlotte Reese's story. What's it got that's so great? Whew. What doesn't it have?
First there is the structure. The bare bones of a ... continued

Read the full review, backstory and an excerpt

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

More Editor's Choice features
Although visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free, full access to our reviews, previews, backstories and more is for members only. But you will always find four free Editor's Choice reviews and backstories on our homepage.

First Impressions: Members Recommend

Each month we give away books to US resident members to read and review (or discuss). Members who choose to take part receive a free book (including free shipping) about every three months. Here are their opinions on four recently published books:

The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato

 Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
 Publication Date: Apr 2014
 Historical Fiction, 416 pages

 Number of reader reviews: 22
 Readers' consensus: 4.4/5.0

Members Say
"A beautifully written love story with great depth. The main character, Feyra, is so well written and attractive that readers will find her hard to forget even after the last page. There is such quality to the details about Venice, Constantinople and the 14th Century." - Peggy K. (Long Beach, CA)

"The novel employs its author's exhaustive research in the areas of sixteenth century medical practice, middle eastern architecture, western European and Islamic religious beliefs, herbalism, and naval warfare... Intrigued? As the angel says, 'Come and see.'" - Barbara G. (Lisle, IL)

"Books like The Venetian Bargain are making historical fiction one of my favorite genres. This was the first book of Marina Fiorato's that I've read, and after finishing it I bought two of her other books and added one to our book club reading list. " - Sally H. (Geneva, OH)

"It is dramatic, romantic, chilling and thrilling. Well-written and a great deal of fun." - Barbara E. (Rockville, MD)

More about this book | Read all the reviews | Buy at Amazon


 In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa

 Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
 Publication Date: Apr 2014
 Novel, 320 pages

 Number of reader reviews: 17
 Readers' consensus: 3.6/5.0

Members Say
"Aleppo native Khaled Khalifa first published the searing, prescient novel In Praise of Hatred in 2006 to great acclaim in much of the Arab world although it was promptly banned in Syria. The recent English translation should be a welcome addition to book club and individual readers, particularly for those who embraced the works of Afghan author Hussein Hosseini. ...It is a powerful book to read and share." - Linda H. (Glasgow, KY)

"I finished this book with a much greater understanding of the long term and radical effects of oppression, no matter what form it takes." - Darlene C. (Woodstock, IL)

"There is much to learn here about the inner workings of family life, culture, customs and the intricate ways women navigate in a culture that outwardly relegates them to second-class citizens." - Barbara G. (Lisle, IL)

"The coming of age behind the walls of an extended family and behind the veil of Islamic culture is a story worth reading. " - Linda W. (Summit, NJ)

More about this book |  Read all the reviews |  Buy at Amazon

Mimi Malloy, At Last! by Julia MacDonnell

 Publisher: Picador
 Publication Date: Apr 2014
 Novel, 288 pages

 Number of reader reviews: 25
 Readers' consensus: 4.5/5.0

Members Say
"We read Coming of Age books but this is the opposite. This book is the Autumn of Age... It is a book for mothers and daughters." - Sally G. (Saint Johns, FL)

"Always looking for characters who make me laugh , I have enjoyed Mimi Malloy at Last!, featuring a senior citizen who craves her independence... I was uplifted by Mimi's spirit... A good novel for women of all ages." - Cecile G. (Mansfield, TX)

"Heartwarming - both wise and humorous. ... There are lessons about the power of forgiveness, love, memory and aging. You will be charmed at the end and won't want to say goodbye to Mimi. I loved it!" - Jan T. (Leona Valley, CA)

"I feared this book would fall into the sappiness category, but was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. There was a pleasant mixture of drama, romance and mystery that made me eager to keep reading. I shall be recommending it to my book club." - Jennifer B. (Oviedo, FL)

 I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

 Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
 Publication Date: Apr 2014
 Historical Fiction, 390 pages

 Number of reader reviews: 22
 Readers' consensus: 4.2/5.0

Members Say
"I Am Livia is one of the most enticing and satisfying first novels I've read. It kept me up most of the night and I postponed doing anything else this morning until I finished it.  I'm planning to make this my next book club selection - it will definitely make for a lively discussion!" - Nancy H. (Foster City, CA)

"I really enjoyed this historical fiction. It was well researched and well-written and provided a very interesting woman's view of life and politics in Ancient Rome. It is a good rebuttal to the portrayal of Livia in I, Claudius." - Barbara E. (Rockville, MD)

"Most books have some faults that one can point out in a review and still credit the book as being enjoyable. However, in my opinion, there were no faults to critique in this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it all ... This book espouses the many qualities that are timeless and the difficult choices we all must make. There is political intrigue, scandal, love, honor, trust, forgiveness and the yearning for independence and equality that women of all times and ages have in common. Very well done!" - Angela S. (Hartland, MI)

More about this book |  Read all the reviews |  Buy at Amazon

Publishing Soon 

Each month BookBrowse previews 80-100 notable books publishing next month. here is a particularly interesting title from these upcoming books.

The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Debut Novel, 320 pages

In 1860, Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur evolutionary scientist, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the remote Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies - mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries. He has a more personal motive, too; family legend states that Alexander is descended from seal men. As he struggles to be the good pastor he was called to be, his maid Moira faces the terrible eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will irrevocably change the course of both their lives, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone...

"Gifford has an ability to bring depth to her characters, whether they live in the 19th century or the 20th, and this helps hold together her sweeping tale." - Publishers Weekly

"Stretching seamlessly back and forth through time, layers upon layers of secrets are slowly and effectively peeled away in this evocative debut." - Booklist 

More about this book | Read all the reviews | Buy at Amazon


More Books Publishing Soon  


More New & Notable 


Book Clubs & Discussions  

The BookBrowse Book Club

Please Join Us to Discuss:     


Book Jacket
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Published Mar 2014 
320 pages

For fans of Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith, and Daniel Woodrell comes a gripping, suspenseful novel about two mysterious disappearances a generation apart.

More about this book  | Join the discussion

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Published Feb 2014
400 pages

A brilliant debut novel that brings to life an abandoned hospital where a tough-minded doctor decides to harbor a hunted young girl, with powerful consequences.


More about this book  | Join the discussion

Discussions Opening Soon

Discussion opens 15 Apr
About this book
Discussion opens 22 Apr
About this book

Also Recommended for Book Clubs

More in our book clubs section including:
This Week's Top 10, Reading Guides by Theme and Advice

Book Clubs by The Numbers

Have you ever wondered how many women are in book clubs, how many books they read and what they read? Here are answers to these and many other book club questions!

See the full infographic in our blog



Beyond The Book

Vietnamese Legends

Every time we review a book we also explore a topic related to the book. Here is a recent "beyond the book" backstory for The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith.

As evidenced in The Frangipani Hotel, Vietnam abounds with mythology and ghost stories. In the country's creation myth, Dragon Lord Lac Long Quan and his fairy wife, Au Co, hatched their 100 children from eggs, giving rise to Vietnam's 100 family surnames. Lac Long Quan had an undersea palace at the southern coast, but Au Co and 50 children stayed in the northern mountains, thus peopling the country's two distinct terrains. In Kupersmith's story "Red Veil," Sister Emmanuel recounts this legend before embarking on her personal history: "I will start at the very beginning-the beginning we all were taught as children. Thousands of years ago, a dragon prince and a fairy spirit fell in love..." Thus Vietnam's primal story paves the way for all the magical tales to come .... continued

by Rebecca Foster

Read this backstory in full, plus an excerpt & BookBrowse's review

More backstories linked from "Editor's Choice" 
Only members have access to all our reviews and backstories but you will always find 4 free on our homepage.


Meet the Reviewers

This is the first in a new, occasional, feature to highlight our wonderful reviewers! Here are brief profiles of the two reviewers responsible for this issue's Editor's Choice and Beyond the Book features.

Donna Chavez, a member of the National Book Critics Circle, also reviews books for Publishers Weekly and the American Library Association's Booklist. She is a freelance writer with numerous publishing credits, including the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times, and is a writing coach.
Donna's most recent review is Gemini  - the Editor's Choice feature in this issue. She is also the author of the blog post immediately below - "Just Say No to Plot Spoilers!"  

More reviews by Donna 

An American transplant to Reading, England, Rebecca Foster is a former library assistant and full-time freelance writer, focusing on book reviewing. In addition to reviewing for BookBrowse, she writes for Bookkaholic magazine, volunteers for Greenbelt Festival's literature program, and reviews books for a myriad of print and online publications.
Rebecca's most recent review is The Frangipani Hotel; her backstory to the book is our "Beyond the Book" feature in this issue.

More reviews by Rebecca  

Blog: Just Say No to Plot Spoilers!

The other day I learned that an author I like has a new book coming out. Of course I was interested and planned to pre-order the book. I also wanted to read any pre-publication reviews to see what the pros think about it, whether they feel it lives up to the author's previous high bar. I also wanted to learn a bit more about the story - but not too much. continued...

Read this blog post 


All blog posts 

Author Interview

Anthony Marra answers questions about The Constellation of Vital Phenomena, set in war-torn Chechnya and the reason he rewrote this, his first novel, four times.

Blog: Movies Based on Books April - June

If you're wondering what movies based on books will release between April - June 2014, you're in the right place! Check them out below including Every Secret Thing based on the book by Laura Lippman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, based on the book by Cressida Cowell, and the much anticipated film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Read this blog post 


All blog posts 


Apr 08 2014  World Book Night U.S. has released an interactive map that lists givers by zip code as well as official stores and libraries. (more)

Apr 08 2014  UK publisher Pan Macmillan has acquired three new novels by Ken Follett, including a sequel to The Pillars of the Earth. (more)

Apr 06 2014  Peter Matthiessen, well-known US writer and environmentalist, died at the age of 86 of leukemia. His notable works include The Snow Leopard, Shadow Country and At Play in the Fields of the Lord. (more)

Apr 04 2014  Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 87, is in hospital in Mexico City for an unspecified infection, and related dehydration. Mexico's Secretary of Health indicated in a statement that "once he's completed his course of antibiotics his discharge from the hospital will be evaluated." (more)

Apr 03 2014  A new touchscreen 400-book library kiosk has debuted at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis, Calif. According to Jonathan Waltmire, the library spokesperson, this is the first library kiosk of its kind to debut in a U.S. mall....

Apr 02 2014  Karen Joy Fowler won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for her novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves...(more)

Mar 31 2014  The Northern California Independent Bookseller's Association plans to host the first ever California Bookstore Day on May 3, 2014 - a Saturday. The event's promo copy reads: "93 bookstores. 13 exclusive books & art pieces. 1 day only. Join the party." ...(more)

Mar 31 2014  Three movies are planned for the adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, one of Harry Potter's Hogwarts textbooks. Rowling wrote the 42 page book in 2001 for the UK charity Comic Relief. Sales from this book and its companion Quidditch Through the Ages have already ...(more)

Mar 26 2014  Hodder & Stoughton, a division of Hachette, has offered approximately £12.6 million (about US$21 million) to purchase Quercus Publishing, the U.K. independent publisher that launched in the USA in Fall 2013...(more)

Mar 21 2014  How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers' Guide to Toilet Etiquette has won the 36th annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.




Themed Reading

Books Set in France

Whatever your interests you can find the books that are just right for you by browsing and cross-referencing our recommended reading lists by genre, time period, setting and wide variety of themes - including Books set in France:

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of "civilized society." In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not survival, lies with the other

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes's new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart.

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo - a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero.

If you liked...
Try these...

The Earth Hums in B Flat

The Snow Child

The Twistrose Key
If you liked...
Try these...
Anthropology of an
American Girl

Skippy Dies

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

The Collective



Free & Fun


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Answer to the last Wordplay: M T Cut O"

Why Do We Say?

"It's not my cup of tea"

Find out the origins of this well-known expression, and many others!



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BookBrowse is an online magazine for discerning readers - including reviews, previews, "behind the book" backstories, author interviews, reading guides, and much more.

We believe that exceptional books do more than just engage us with compelling stories, they offer us windows into the lives of others or a mirror to reflect on our own life - so that when we turn that last page we know something about the world or ourselves we did not before. BookBrowse seeks out such gems from first time authors and established writers, both fiction and nonfiction. Then we provide our visitors with all the information they need to decide which are just right for them.

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.