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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: Jodi Wing

This was a winner! Stacey and James are trying to break into the Hollywood social scene as newlyweds. Stacey was well established in New York City but for James' sake (he has just become the head of a new Hollywood studio) she agrees to move to Hollywood and give it a trial run. They quickly find out that there is a "party of three" from the new studio that are out to sabotage them. The three are at the wedding and start all sorts of havoc and that is only the beginning. The ringleader is Simon who is an ardent follower of Sun Tzu's, THE ART OF WAR. The author deftly peppers this book with quotes from that book and shows how one needs to be on the defense or offense, depending! Every time you think that Simon can sink lower, he does. What is really great about the characters of Stacey and James is that they don't enjoy having to participate in "the war" and they do bring some scruples to bear on the situation. There are many twists and turns in the book and questions about who do you trust after all? I found the intertwining with the actual "ART OF WAR" very intriguing. The book culminates with a great ending which also could be a platform for a follow-up. We will see!

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Author: Rainbow Rowell

This was a delightful book. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. It is a "modern" love story as it involves the electronic communications of e.mail. The protagonist, Lincoln, works at a newspaper where he is "computer security" at night--he is monitoring the internal e.mail of the staff. He finds himself following the conversations between two good friends, Jennifer & Beth. Further, he finds himself falling in love with Beth! It sounds weird, but the characters are so well written that it actually makes sense. I really liked the fact that the protagonist was male and sensitive and we kept seeing things from his point of view. I think that in the tangles of love we don't realize how hurt and confused and fearful males can be, too! Great story with a happy ending! Congratulations to the author on a great debut!

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Author: Liane Moriarty

Not to be confused with "Still Alice" this novel is about Alice who hits her head at the gym and enters a time warp of sorts. When she awakes she thinks it is ten years earlier. As she takes in clues and evidence about her current life she is horrified to find out that she is in proceedings for a divorce and that she has children who she doesn't even recognize. Also, all reactions point to the fact that she has evolved into a quite mean and self-absorbed person. As she looks through the lens of her younger self she can't believe who is counted in her circle of friends and how her values have changed. This book provides a fun way for looking at "second chances". This is an entertaining read and perfect for the beach or a relaxing weekend.

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Author: Tom Franklin

I highly recommend this book. A great thriller but more than that it is a story of redemption and how a community can so easily make the wrong assumptions about someone. I don't want to say much more because it is easy to give away. But the two main characters were friends as boys and their friendship begins to reassemble itself when they are adults after a series of harrowing experiences. Amazing writing and a gripping tale. Thanks, Holly, for the recommendation and I listened to the audio (the reader Kevin Kenerly was phenomenal).

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Author: Martin Eidelberg

If you enjoyed the fictional "Clara and Mr. Tiffany" as much as I did, this makes for a stunning visual accompaniment. In this non-fiction book you will see the photos of Clara and the lamps and the windows and learn so much more about the women of Tiffany studios!

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Author: Susan Vreeland

This novel was amazing. Susan takes the true story of Mr. Tiffany's glass and designer Clara Driscoll and embellishes it into a mesmerizing tale of a difficult and prolific relationship. Louis Tiffany and Clara Driscoll are products of their time and circumstances. They both love nature and they both appreciate beauty and art. They are both perfectionists and enjoy design and crafting. They are employer and employee and sometimes collaborators. How Clara achieves credit and attention in her own right is amazing. Mr. Tiffany, suffering from depression and malaise, is hard to read. His whims are unpredictable and his ego his huge (yet he is always in the shadow of his father, Charles Tiffany who began the jewelry industry). Louis has had wealth all his life so he can be capricious in his hobbies. The people working with and for Clara are from a different class where they are struggling for labor rights. And Clara is constantly deemed "less" because she is a woman. Susan takes the time, too, to really explain the creative process behind the Tiffany lamps and the Tiffany windows. I just adore learning about muses!

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Author: Diane Chamberlain

My first Diane Chamberlain book and it was great! I thought it would be formulaic but happily this book was very complicated and the author has a talent for writing very good description which enhanced the narrative. Two sisters,Rebecca and Maya, are doctors in adulthood, but lost their parents in a shocking crime when they were teens. Rebecca's temperament is to be bold and wild and offer her doctoring services in disaster relief situations. Maya is a pediatrician craving order, balance, and safety. Maya is married to another doctor, Adam, and he is convinced to join Rebecca with relief efforts after a hurricane has hit North Carolina.

Soon after Maya follows. Unfortunately, Maya goes missing for a while and Rebecca and Adam find that they care for each other. Maya is on a tangent of her own that will change her entire life. You will have to read the book to find out what that was! There are really good questions raised in this book about what exactly connotes family, how do we grow within our families, and how do we overcome the hurdles of violence in the many forms in which it may rear itself in our lives? Also, as the title implies, lies won't get you anywhere and are destructive. (I think I could accurately recommend this author to Jodi Picoult fans.)

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Author: Heidi Durrow

I usually DO NOT like a book that is not tied up. This book ends abruptly but it fits in perfectly with the overall story which is in one way senseless and in another way perfectly sensible. Rachel, the protagonist, is the daughter of a white mother and a black father. She is trying to respect both sides of her heritage. But because her mother took a violent action, which could have killed Rachel, it is harder for Rachel to figure out her deceased mother and love her. She is sent to live with her paternal grandmother who has only bad things to say about Rachel's mother so that is hard, too.

There is much sadness and loss of dreams in the book. Yet there is a great amount of hope, too. The chapters are sparse and the author does a fantastic job of creating reasons for people to operate the way that they do. This book also examines how one act of violence can have such a devastating effect on so many people. Thank you for a sensitive and very thought provoking book. I especially enjoyed how many ways the metaphor of "flying" was integrated into the story.

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Author: Kristin Hannah

Thank you to the countless people who recommended this book to me and when I asked why would exhale a very deeply held breath. It was so good! You just have to read it. You know almost immediately that there is something deeply disturbing that has happened to the mother in the book and her two adult daughters are scarred from her inability to love them. Eventually, the three of them journey together to put the pieces of the puzzle together and wow, what an impact it has.

This is yet another perspective on World War II--Oh My Gosh! Such hardship and pure dismissal of life. The author injects this wonderful fairy tale in the book to bring it all together. How true that fiction about trauma can be so much easier to swallow than non-fiction some times! The settings of both the past in Russia and the present on an apple orchard are very well drawn. This book was just great! It once again underscores for me that we have no idea by looking @ people what they are holding on their hearts

What It Is

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Title: What It Is
Author: Lynda Barry

This is a book about prompting your creativity particularly WRITING. It is broken up into four sections plus a last peach page with lists the acknowledgments. SECTION 1: Light royal blue paper up to p. 135 is Lynda reflecting on youth and her relationship with herself. There are dozens of questions posed that you could use to begin a writing exercise. An important point in this section is to PHYSICALLY WRITE and/or physically put yourself IN MOTION for any art (computer has its place) but you must DO. You (on a reread) could open to any page and start writing. SECTION 2: Peach up to p. 173 has four "lessons". You must set aside the time (even suggests a timer) to do these. I am looking forward to trying these out. SECTION 3: Up to p. 188. FREE WRITING KIT! Ideas for gathering WORDS and PICTURES/IMAGES, and questions/prompts which are places to start!

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