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Welcome to Books R Us, a recommended reading blog from InfoSoup librarians and users and home to A Year of Listening Dangerously, the 2014 InfoSoup Reading Challenge! Find a great book to read next, add your own reviews, and check out our book related resources such as NoveList and BookLetters.

Author: Lisa Barr

This book was a saga of sorts. We follow the protagonist, Yakov/Julian, from childhood to middle age. He is a passionate painter with the drive to paint flowing through his veins. In attempts to become who he is he moves to New York from Chicago; to Paris from New York; to Germany from Paris. He is in Paris when Hitler is rising to power in Germany. Julian becomes friends with a close knit group of people who include Charlotte, Adrienne, Rene, and Felix (who is German).

Julian is always cast as the mediator or the go-between. He has strong values about painting and art as well as being loyal to friendship and honesty. For these reasons, he ends up embarking on a series of perilous and unfruitful journeys in the name of his friends and art.

It is not until many years later that Julian's methodology, determination and persistence finally pay off to see justice served.

There is surprise after surprise in this book and we learn a lot about the art world before, during, and after World War II. It was fascinating.

I liked how the author had the sins of the characters catch up with them because I think that is very realistic. I also liked how she did not sanitize the cruel acts that people did and she was clear about the myriad of betrayals that happen in a power struggle web of fear and retaliation.

Thanks to Kim Leisgang for recommending this book to me!


Author: Christina Baker Kline

Several copies of this book are circulating in Infosoup since the author made many appearances at the Fox Cities Book Festival in April of this year.

Oh, another piece of American history that I did not know about. Thanks to Christina for this important work of historical fiction. There are two alternating female characters in this book. Niamh is an Irish girl that is on the orphan train. This character is in first person. The other character is a teen named Molly who is living in foster care. Her character is in third person. Niamh, as an elder, and Molly form an unlikely friendship that strengthens both of them. It is wonderful to read about their bond--how they encourage each other and learn from each other!

Some symbols in the book that I liked a lot--the significance of the Claddagh ring to Niamh; the significance of portage to Molly.

This book is the Fox Cities Reads title for 2015.

Author: Paul V. Stutzman

This book is the best book I have read in a couple of years, maybe in my whole life. It is a true story about Paul Stutzman’s 2,176 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail after he loses his wife to breast cancer. This book makes you think about your own life and how you live it. It also makes you question if you really appreciate the people around you. What if some tragedy or big loss would face you, how would your life change and how would you find new meaning in your life?

Hiking through is a book of fears and courage, facing yourself and facing God. What really is important in life many times is not what we thought it was. This book is well written. It really makes you feel that you are making the journey with him, not only reading about it. 

Hiking through makes you laugh and it makes you cry. It gives you hope and the feeling that even when you are alone, you really are not alone. After the journey you can feel what the author Paul V. Stutzman feels, peace and trust. If you don’t believe me, you better read the book yourself! Even better, if you do believe me, hurry up and get the book from the shelf and start enjoying the 2,176 mile captivating hike with Paul and the other interesting people he meets on the way!

Title: Hellhole
Author: Brian Herbert

additional author: Kevin J Anderson

In the core worlds of the Constellation, corrupt nobles scheme and compete for power, and for the chance to be named the heir to the reigning Diadem.  Meanwhile, on the most dangerous and inhospitable planet of the Deep Zone, exiled rebel general Tiber Adolphus is about to make a discovery that will enable him to rise and challenge the power of the Constellation once more.

If you like your space opera full of larger-than-life characters, twisted, sadistic villains, and grand schemes that go horribly, disastrously awry, then you might like to check out this trilogy.  The first book is followed by Hellhole: Awakening and Hellhole: Inferno.

Author: Maria Kondo

When I read this title, I felt “This is something I can use”. This book has all kinds of strategies for downsizing clutter and organizing things in your home. After years of saving things and accumulating stuff, how do you start clearing and organizing? I liked the step by step approach recommended by the author. I am in the process of surrounding myself by things that spark joy and make me happy.

Author: Francine Rivers

In the town of Haven, a baby is born under a bridge. A loving family takes the baby in despite some apprehensions. Growing up with feelings of abandonment and not belonging, the lure of false love and glamour are too much. Hollywood is not all that it seems. Find out how God can work when things seem out of control.

 Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers is the most recent book the author has written. I have read most of her books and enjoyed them all. She is an excellent writer and will keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning. The first book I read of Francine’s was The Scarlet Thread and I’ve been hooked ever since. Check out her books and you just may find a new favorite author.

Author: Shanna Mahin

I enjoyed the main character of this book so much. Jess Dunne is 3rd generation Hollywood. She’s an average woman living in a world of gorgeous people. Her estranged mother was a child actress and all her life she tried to get Jess to want to be in the business. Jess eventually takes a job as an assistant to a famous actress. The line soon starts to blur between being an assistant and being a friend. This is a fast-paced and funny story about the life of the famous people and the not so famous people.

Author: Kate DeGoldi

“I know what I can do on Thursdays!” shouted Perry. “I already know!”

     Perry’s parents are busy people and believe that Perry, an only child and special needs student, needs to be busy each day after school. And so Perry begins her weekly visits to Santa Lucia, an assisted living home for dementia parents, where her gran is a resident.

     A class assignment is to create an ABC book about a specific topic. Perry writes The ACB with Honora Lee with the help of her gran and the residents of Santa Lucia. Although she struggles elsewhere, at Santa Lucia Perry shines.

     While reading this book, I was again reminded of friendships and special relationships that can develop between youth and the elderly. I reminisced about time spent with my grandmother and great grandmother from childhood to adulthood. I was reminded of the school children who visited the assisted living facility my mother lived in and how these visits lifted up the residents.

The ACB with Honora Lee was written for 8-11 year olds, but it is a story for all ages to read, enjoy, and learn from.

Author: Graeme Simsion

Ooh, ooh, ooh, a fabulous follow-up to "The Rosie Project". (& a perfect Valentine's Day read!!) Don and Rosie are starting new lives in New York. They have the challenges of new jobs and new friendships. Add to that a pregnancy and the fun of these two characters ensues. Don gets himself into laugh out loud, unpredictable situations (the park and the birthing class come to mind!). But there are also tough and sad encounters as each of them is navigating this new idea. They both love each other but have communication breakdowns because of how polar opposite their personalities are. And Rosie got pregnant without planning with Don, what was she thinking?! I love that Don's extreme stringent behaviors once again end up being helpful. I adore what they end up calling the baby and why. There is so much joy and gentleness and kindness of spirit in this book. The science is interesting, too. Well done!!

Author: Robyn Carr

I always enjoy books written by Robyn Carr. This one was different in that it was the story of three generations of women struggling with relationships. It was funny. It was serious. I would like to see it on the big or small screen!

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