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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 Karen: Appleton Public Library

Originally posted in: APL Picks

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

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Author: Louise Murphy

Will we ever truly understand what it was like to be Jewish in World War II? Probably not, but this book adds another perspective. Just like in the fairy tale you remember, two children are abandoned in the woods and if you pay close attention there is even a trail of breadcrumbs. But it isn't because the stepmother doesn't like them. The family is running for their very lives. They must all lose their identities in order to survive. Even their names have to change. There is a cottage in the woods, a mysterious and frightening old woman, and a big oven. It reminds us that mankind is all one family; we do horrible things to one another, and we do kind and caring things for one another. Not until the end did I realize you never know their real names. Sadly, neither do the children. Family, love and hope are present as strong characters. This is not a pretty story, but it is a compelling one.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Before I Go To Sleep

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Author: S. J. Watson

Our memories are what make us who we are. Imagine waking up in the morning and having absolutely no memory of your life. Now imagine doing that every day, for years. This is the situation for Christine, who has a rare form of amnesia. Each day is a blank slate. A first novel from British author S. J. Watson, I found this to be an exciting and haunting story. There are a few terms that give it a British flavor, but it could easily take place anywhere. The main character is someone you care about from page one, as she shares her life, one day at a time. Her doctor suggests she begin to keep a journal to help remember what she learned the day before. Flashes of her past begin to surface that do not seem to fit with her present life. Right along with her, you are drawn into a psychological thriller almost without knowing it. The pace picks up for a whirlwind ride and what seems a positive outcome for all concerned. Or is it? This is a one-sitting book: don't start it late at night!

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Mornings with Barney

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Author: Dick Wolfsie

I know, I know, we all cried when we read or saw Marley and Me. Do you really want to read another book about a man and his dog? I say yes, you do -- this one is different. By now you have figured out that I am a sucker for any animal story. That's likely why I put a hold on this title when I read a review. But I'm glad I did. Do you watch a news show in the morning to see what's going on the world around you? Do you cringe at some of the local interest spots? Do you laugh at those outtakes that show the news personality getting knocked down, or splashed or licked by some kind of critter they don't want to even touch? And do you root for the critter? Then you'll like this book. Barney literally shows up on reporter Dick Wolfsie's front porch one cold winter day and Dick figures he should be safe for a few hours. Before you know it, Barney is, well, not allowed to be unsupervised in the house. So he starts going to work with Dick in the mornings. For the next ten years, Barney works his way into countless news stories, and becomes a mascot of sorts. The actual setting is Indianapolis, but the fun is universal. I've never been owned by a beagle, but apparently if you have, you will relate to this on an even deeper level. A fun quick read guaranteed to leave you with a smile!

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Best of Me

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Title: Best of Me
Author: Nicholas Sparks

Every single one of this author's books has made me cry! Sparks continues his normal style of getting to a place in your life where either you must make a big decision, or you have one forced upon you. The consequences are never quite what you expect. He makes you examine your choice, and makes you think about how your life, or someone else's, would be if circumstances were different. If only you didn't have to choose. If only you could go back and change a choice. If only you could have it both ways. This particular story brings Amanda and Dawson together after many years. Theirs was a pure, first true love. Good girl falls for bad boy. Neither of them have ever forgotten. Was it real? Is it still? True to life, nothing is quite as simple as it appears. After an emotional reunion, their story comes to an end, or does it?

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Map of True Places

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Author: Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry is back with an emotionally resonant novel of tragedy, secrets, identity and love.

Psychotherapist Zee Finch begins her journey when one of her patients, a troubled bipolar housewife named Lilly, leaps off a bridge to her death. The tragedy brings up memories of her mother's suicide, prompting her to go see her father, Finch in Salem. Yes, the Salem of witchcraft fame. She is startled to find Finch's Parkinson’s disease is much more advanced than she'd been led to believe, and that he has kicked his partner, Melville, out of the house. Zee decides to take a leave of absence from her practice to care for Finch, a move that puts a strain on her engagement.

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