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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: Neil Pasricha

I like this premise--identifying the tiny things that make us so very happy. In these trying times, the success of this book (& accompanying website) show how we are all craving the identification of good things. I think the word awesome is so misused but I use it myself, so who am I kidding? It seems like I gravitate toward the entries about sleeping. There was one about waking up and still realizing you have more time to sleep (I love that). There was one about how good it feels to slip into fresh sheets--oh, yeah! And then there was one about how amazing it is to flip your pillow and have a whole new feeling of relaxation. Oh, yes, the little things--they ARE wonderful. Thanks, Wisconsin Public Radio, for interviewing the author!

Think Twice

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Author: Lisa Scottoline

My first Lisa Scottoline book. It was a good, fast read--simple chapters moving rapidly forward. My fascination with twins was challenged by this book where one twin was very good and one was very evil. The evil one, Alice, is impersonating the good one, Bennie, and of course, there are many plot twists and turns. Bennie actually discovers the evil within herself because she desires to annihilate Alice. Subtly, the book shows that identity theft is not all that hard when you look identical to the victim. At the end, the door is left open for a sequel, I felt.

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Author: Kelly O'Connor McNees

Fascinating! What a great imagination Kelly used to draw a picture of Louisa as a lover to Joseph. There really is a summer in Louisa's life that we don't know much about. Coincidentally, it is the year in which Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was published. Kelly deftly incorporates this little tidbit into the story. I liked how Louisa was fiercely independent and wishing for more options for women. Terrific debut! (& realistic)

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Author: Sara Rath

I enjoyed this book because it was set in Wisconsin and I was familiar with the settings--Madison versus Up North. It was the famous plot line--woman plucked from metropolitan area to obscurity and falls in love with the place and a man. I kept feeling like I was missing pieces--duh! I discovered I was listening to abridged. I hate that mistake! A good read for summer--try the unabridged!

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Author: Elizabeth Strout

Remember that I am a reader who enjoys characters. This book was perfect for me! Olive Kitteridge is a high school math teacher in a small town and a force to be reckoned with. She is married to Henry and they have a son Christopher. This is a book of 13 short stories and in each one we receive a different perspective of Olive. The first story introduces us to Henry--it is a very smart and interesting way to begin the book. You are pulled right in. In an interview with the author in the end pages, Elizabeth Strout indicates that she chose to write the book this way to give the reader a break from Olive. Yes, this makes sense! Olive is that strong a character. I can't say I learned to like Olive but I certainly learned to understand her. And I enjoyed her forthrightness that she exhibited at most times. When she chose not to be forthright I think we learn even more about her and her desire to mature and be a better person? I could see all the characters and how they harbored misconceptions about one another--I think we all do that. And even when we seek the truth about other people do we really ever know their stories or their psychology or how they have become who they are. Fascinating stuff! Great writing!

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Author: Richard Russo

Perfection! Jack Griffin is having a mid-life crisis (A layered topic handled deftly by Russo) that involves reconciling his past and his feelings & impressions of his parents with who he is. He evaluates his parents' marriage and the marriage of his in-laws. He thinks about his dreams that were shared with his wife and how they have changed over his 30 year marriage. He is also witnessing the future through the love life of his daughter and the love lives of her peers. Ultimately, the separation that he has with his wife is warranted and necessary. Russo is so talented at choreographing characters. We do feel that Jack is misunderstood and we struggle along with him as he tries to figure out his way. The Cape as setting and a place for Jack to resolve things is interwoven throughout the book. Terrific read. (I kept being reminded in this book of a story set on Martha's Vineyard--after searching I discovered that I was recalling a lengthy scene from Empire Falls, also by Richard Russo--how wonderfully strange!)

I am Ozzy

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Title: I am Ozzy
Author: Ozzy Osbourne

I am a sucker for learning about famous people. In this book, Ozzy seems just as amazed and repulsed about his own life as we are. I found this way of looking at his life, along with him, somehow endearing. There is something so naive and sweet about this man. Just like any life story, there were incidents that made me laugh out loud (like the Vicar story) and occasions that brought a tear to my eye (when he didn't attend his mom's funeral because he knew it would turn into a media circus). And, of course, there is the plain astonishing.

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Author: Curtis Sittenfeld

This is a novel loosely based on the lives of Laura and George Bush. I found that intriguing but more importantly, the story was excellent. The last part of the book gives insights into what it must be like to live in the White House and how that would effect a marriage. Just because you're President does not mean that your spouse necessarily supports that or is in agreement with you about your politics! I kept wondering about Michelle Obama and how she is handling all of this right now. Curtis is a powerful writer. She is able to create all these points that come up again later in the story--that kept my mind alive and engaged. I don't want to create a spoiler but there is a symbol that is introduced early in the book which comes back up again toward the very end (long after you have forgotten about it). The way that Curtis a storyteller re-introduces it is truly masterful and becomes layered in meaning with this sentence: When I got my _______ back. Great job!

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Author: Joan Kaywell

This book includes Chris Crutcher who was at the Fox Cities Book Festival. This book shows us the power that authors have to change people's lives. We read letters that were written to authors and the authors' responses. These encounters are enlightening and heartwarming. As a librarian, this book is a tool for me because it includes the best Young Adult authors in the U. S. If I use this book as a guide for my reading in the Young Adult genre, I will have exposed myself to some of the most important YA books of our time!

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Author: Kim Edwards

This book contains 14 short stories by Kim Edwards. The stories are about interesting characters who encounter rare scenarios and predicaments. I found the stories to be like short mysteries that I was eager to read and have solved. Elements of magic and mysticism were sometimes introduced. Kim writes in such a way that you "get into the heads" of the characters and they haunt you. After each story was completed I was imagining what was coming next for the characters. The short stories were very much like nuggets that could possibly be stretched into full-fledged novels. Very good readings!