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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.

Audiobook Review
Author: Jojo Moyes

Wow, what a great book. It's been quite awhile since I've been so into listening. The words used to describe do a great job in putting you in the moment.

Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman

This is a page turning novel which comes to connect two women.   One, Clara who is committed to an asylum against her will by her parents and the second, Izzy a girl who is a ward of the foster care system in the 1990s.   Izzy's foster parents  have an interest in reclaiming items and articles left in the long closed local asylum soon to be demolished.  As we are told early in the story, people committed to the asylum in the early days would bring their belongings when they came, which were promptly stored in the attic never to be retrieved or accessed by the inmates.   A journal found in one of the trunks leads Izzy to seek more information about how Clara came to the institution and why she was not released.  The story provides the shameful history of early treatment of the mentally ill.   The absence of rights for those caught in the system is heartbreaking.  The novel is well written and although it is fiction, the author does not stray far from the truth.

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Author: Mary Kubica

The basic story is a kidnapping of a young woman by a low-life guy.  But is that really what it is?  Each chapter is told from one of the three main characters.  I found myself liking and feeling empathy for all three even the "bad guy".   The author writes in such way that you can feel the cold, the pain, the longing the overwhelming sadness.   Short chapters made it hard to put down, much like a John Grisham novel.  Highly recommend.  There is a twist somewhere in the story.

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Author: Marcus Zusak

This is an excellent book .   The narrator is both unusual and abhorent, to most. The story takes place in Nazi Germany 1939 and progresses from there.   This well written story involves a girl who suffers again and again due to Hitler and his war.  More than once, she looses everything including family, friends as well as material things.  Her only escape is through books and since most people cannot afford food, books are not readily available to her.    She finds a way to read some, as the title reveals, as she takes them from some unusual sources.   Her experences leave her hardened beyond her years.     I highly reccommend this book and the recently released movie, with the same title.

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Author: Emma Straub

 Jim and Franny Post planned their vacation in Spain with friends and family before Jim lost his job for having an affair with a young employee. He's hoping to reconcile with Franny, and she's ready to leave him. Their daughter Sylvia is aware of the marital tension, but their son from Florida is clueless. They stay in a rented house with Franny's best friend and his husband, who is desparate to adopt a baby. The problems of each individual character are explored as they muddle through a vacation no one is truly excited about. A dry humor runs throughout the book, and the characters feel like people we know- our own family members and friends- who are annoying and sometimes cruel, but we love anyway.

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Author: Anand Giridharadas

Days after 9/11, Mark Stroman, a troubled, violent Texan, took revenge by going on a rampage to "kill Arabs." Instead he shot an Indian, a Bangladeshi, and a Packistani, and only one survived. The author follows the lives of the perpetrator and the survivor, focusing on the early lives of both and what led them to that fateful moment in a Dallas convenience store. Although Stroman can be seen as a racist monster for his senseless crimes, it is hard not to feel sympathy after reading about his difficult childhood. His victim, Rais, is left for dead, his American dream turned nightmare, but he survives, and though left with permanent vision loss and physical and emotional scars, he begins to rebuild his life. The book traces Stroman's case as it goes through the courts. He receives a death sentence, and begins corresponding with various people worldwide who oppose capital punishment. It's difficult to tell if Stroman is really reformed or simply trying to save himself, but even Rais is moved by his plight and vows to try and save him. He begins a campaign to aid Stroman, and his ability to forgive is truly remarkable. 

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Author: John McElroy

I am neither a Civil War buff nor a history buff, however, I was very impressed by this true life account of the authors time spend in prision during the war.    I learned, through a genioligy study done by a relitive, that we had a relitive who died in Andersonville.   This peaked my interest in this account.   McElroy was a journalist and he gives an objective account of events, and points out to the reader when he is giving an opinion or quoting the opinion of another, rather than a fact.   The death toll in these prisions was tremendious and the reader will learn why that was the case.   After reading this story, one wonders how the author or any prisioner was able to survive.  I would give this at least a 4 star rating.

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Author: Kimberly McCreight

With a pageant of mostly immature and unreliable adults, this book is about the mystery of the death of Amelia, a student at a trouble-filled and dysfunctional college prep academy. Up until close to her death, Amelia had been a diligent and conscientious student. Her world is turned upside down when she makes the mistake of joining a secret cruel society at her school. She also falls in love with a girl named Dylan who she mistakenly believes is reciprocating her love.

She is having a hard time relating to her mom because her mom is a high-powered lawyer with limited quality time to offer her. Dad is out of the picture. This was a page turner with flashbacks by both Amelia and her mother. (Watch the dates of the entries closely so you can figure out what is going on!) I was welcoming every break in my schedule to sit down and catch up with this book. McCreight really sets up the story cleverly. After I got the whole book finished, I had to return to certain passages which foreshadowed the ending SO WELL but I just did not see any of it coming!! I love when a book can take me for a ride like that and I am blind to what is actually happening. Whew!

Author: Susan Schoenberger

There are two main characters.

The first one is Holly, a young widow trying to makes ends meet. She works in a small town newspaper that is struggling to survive. She is one of the constant volunteers that go in to help Vivian, who has been confined to an iron lung since she was 6 years old, the year she contracted polio.

Vivian is the second main character, who describes in detail her life in an iron lung. The small town rallys around and keep her alive.

This is a very good book, that has a surprise and satisfied ending.

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Author: Maria Semple

I asked a former librarian for a new book to read. She said that this was one she was going to have us read for book club, so I gave it a shot. It's like a book with ADD...it's all over the place. But, a fun, fun read.