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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.

Reviews by Elizabeth: (Seymour) Muehl Public Library

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Author: Kurdo Baksi

Thanks, Holly C, for the recommendation. After reading the Millenium Trilogy I was anxious to know about the author. This is a slim book but very interesting. The book is a soul searching on the part of the author who was a good friend of Larsson's. I was intrigued with the fact that when Larsson was writing non-fiction about such difficult subjects as racism and Neo-Nazism, he acted as an introvert. But when he began writing fiction, his personality became extroverted. Also, I loved learning that the publisher named the books in the trilogy as 1) orthodox crime novel with a self-contained mystery 2)police thriller and 3)political thriller. I was unable to distinguish those nuances when I was reading the books. However, these labels are right on! It's too bad that this genius was so poor at taking care of himself.

Bloodroot

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Title: Bloodroot
Author: Amy Greene

Poignant and profound. This fictional account of families on and around Bloodroot Mountain in Appalachia shows how our forebearers run deep within us and sometimes we are bound to repeat history. The characters are so well written--they are clearly flawed and wonderful at the same time. How we sometimes recognize evil and goodness within humanity as magical is also explored. I read this book very quickly because it had me captured--I had to know the outcomes! Messages of truth interwoven with excellent writing left me happy!

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Author: Lesley Kagen

This second book by Leslie Kagen is a treat! It is chock full of characters that surround, Gibby, a young woman who has suffered a brain injury in a car accident. She is trying to get back to being Quite Right or QR through being an investigative reporter. She is a special person who is a sweet good friend identifying situations (positive & negative) around her as best she can. She has trouble with language because of the brain injury and some hilarious interpretations ensue. I loved that this book took a turn toward being a love story. I enjoyed how everything sorted itself out in the end. There is an unlikely heroine which was super. For some reason, Because of Winn-Dixie popped into my head while reading this. Probably because of Gibby's charisma and that she is center stage while everyone around her is working through their stuff much like India in Because of Winn-Dixie. Cool! Gibby is also friends with a girl named Clever and they fancy themselves Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--it is very sweet how they say quotes from the movie.

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Author: Lesley Kagen

The third I've read by Lesley Kagen. This is filled with so many characters (and some of them similar) that it takes a while to catch on. The protagonists are twin girls--Shenandoah and Woody. Shenandoah is taking care of Woody since she has gone mute due to a trauma. Both girls are trying to sort out the death of their murder and the cruelness of their father. Even though the subject matter is tough, Kagen again manages to bring a lighthearted attitude to the topic by creating an atmosphere where the girls are on an adventure. Kagen's language play in this book is that the girls have a secret twin language--that is very cool. In this book I very much enjoyed the southern rural setting and the intertwining of race relations.

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Author: Stieg Larsson

Ooh, a very strong ending to a very strong trilogy. This book was fast paced and had several intriguing plots running simultaneously. Each plot was composed of high drama! Lisbeth in the hospital--is her life still in danger? How will she prepare for her court case? What about her evil half brother who is on the run? And her evil father who is recovering in a hospital room down the hall? Mikael--will he live until his book expose is published? Can he keep his publishing house afloat? How will he help Lisbeth with her case? Can he actually be faithful to any woman?

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Author: Lesley Kagen

Sally O'Malley, the protagonist in this book, is a girl blossoming into young adulthood. She is exuberant and funny and in her innocence is still taking many concepts literally. In the story, both the adults and the kids are being careful and watchful in their neighborhood because there is a serial killer in their midst who is killing girls who are the age of Sally O'Malley. The author sets a tone of summer, lightheartedness and a carefree time (late 50s). Because the author does this, the murderer/molester is not as frightening as he could be. The way that Sally deals with and wonders about adults reminded me a lot of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I loved this book and I loved the resolutions at the end of it.

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Author: Rebecca Skloot

I first heard this story on RadioLab and I was blown away! I am happy to say that the book is excellent--not only for the content which is both amazing and disconcerting--but for the way the book is structured(you can tell that a lot of effort was put into this!) and the author's ability to take the complex scientific subject matter and simplify it. I remember learning about HELA cells in high school when we were learning about DNA and chromosomes. I don't recall if my instructors mentioned that the HE was from Henrietta and the LA was from Lacks. But that small fact has surely made a great impression on me now. To think that the cancerous cells from this woman have been grown again and again, countless times over, and still continue to be, is absolutely mind boggling. (Thus the use of the adjective, immortal.)

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Author: Robert Graysmith

Who knew that there was a stand in for Janet Leigh in the shower scene of Psycho? Amazingly, the author is able to write a whole interesting book about the stand in named Marli. We learn much about Alfred Hitchcock, his filming of Psycho, and actual crimes in California & the US at the time the film was made and released. We also learn that the author has a crush on Marli. The books winds up with a real life crime, in current times, that the author is able to shed some light on because of his long time enamoring of Marli. Very amazing and the perfect book for the "true crime" reader.

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Author: Jennifer Niven

I loved this novel about a very young woman in Appalachia during the time that a highway is being built through the Appalachian mountains. This change is being implemented and accepted (or not) in many ways. Velva Jean falls in love and marries a charismatic preacher boy, Harley Bright, who suffers injuries in a train wreck and whose personality begins to change. He becomes very possessive and suppresses her longings to be and do more. Lucky for Velva, she has a cast of people in her life who encourage her to be herself and recognize her talents. They also encourage her to grab onto her dreams. Some of these people include her brother, Johnny Clay; a Woodcarver who lives high on the mountain; Butch, a blues singer. The predominant ways in which she gains freedom are by learning to drive and making a record(she has a great singing voice). The portrayal of how she goes about being true to herself and rejoicing in where she comes from mirrors the inner struggle that all of us have managed to cope with in one way or another. Very good!

The Help

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Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett

Wow, this book is impeccable! This review is long overdue. I have been telling everyone in my life to read this book and I even bought a copy to be shared around. This is a winner because all 4 of Nancy Pearl's criteria are very strong--the characters, the setting, the plot, the writing. All so excellent. The Help refers to African-American maids in Mississippi in the early 60s. This fictional account, told from several points of view, including the help themselves and their employers just goes to show how layered and nuanced history and making change can be. There is a young white woman, Skeeter, who decides to interview maids and publish their stories without their names attached. This is so dangerous in so many ways. We are gripping our seats to see if Skeeter will get in and out of the African-American neighborhood without getting killed. I was literally clutching my stomach with the fear I had for the maids being caught out. Each character was so wondrously written that I could feel empathy for all of them.

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