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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.

Biography and Memoir

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.

Author: Marnie O. Mamminga

This was uplifting to listen to. It was like a mix of "Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages" and "A Christmas Story." It was a nostalgic love letter to the family cabin including funny and poignant anecdotes. The writing was lovely about nature and simplicity and how replenishing the spirit in the outdoors is vital.

Author: Jeffrey Zaslow

For the author to Interview ten women friends regarding a 40-year friendship was an unique idea for a book, so I was curious to read it. Staying in touch for that length of time must have been very difficult for the group; especially since they lived in different states. This is a good story of having lots of fun, being there for friends, keeping secrets and also forgiving each other for hurts inflicted on one another.  

The book shows how women can influence one another to find and meet their goals and to help friends through their sorrow and pain in life. It also shows how family and work have drastically changed throughout the generations. Even when these women were girls in school, kids were at times very mean.  Today it is much worse. People from the Midwest (Iowa) generally have pretty good values.  Therefore, they stay out of trouble and live happier lives. This book shows us how to celebrate and treasure the good times with friends and relatives and give comfort to those who are suffering.  Be a good friend.

Author: Regina Calcaterra

This is the story of two sisters and their siblings, living with a mother you may not believe could actually be a real person.   As a retired Social Worker, I can tell you these situations do in fact exist   The public is often unaware of the neglect and abuse that  goes on in their own communities.  In defense of Social Workers, the laws in Wisconsin would not have prevented more involvment than in the state this case took place in.   What is harder for me to believe, than their case and what happend to them,  is the amazing way the girls were able to overcome their childhood experiences.

If you can read about  some sad and deplorable situations you will be rewarded with a unbelievable outcome given what happened to these girls.  This part of the story, unfortunately, is not  what usually happens in real life.  (  I can also reccommend another memoir  similar to this one  : A Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls)

Author: Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton is one great tv mom. She is now in the show, The Middle and it is hilarious. She wrote this book when she was on the tv show, Everyone Loves Raymond. Patricia writes about her road to fame and the challenges she has being on a hit show and trying to raise 4 boys under the age of 8. She said after a long season she was ready to just let her fake family go for her real one. Each chapter concentrates on a different subject. There is the subjects of survival jobs , all the jobs she worked at while trying to make it in Hollywood. My favorite chapter was the one where she finally was famous enough to be in the tabloids. Her first experience was in the fashion page where it was pointed out that she didn't wear stockings. A very hilarious memoir.

Author: Elizabeth Gitter

Everyone thinks Helen Keller was the first blind/deaf person to learn language. Fifty years before Helen, there was Laura Bridgman. Laura and many members of her family got sick with scarlet fever. Her two older siblings died. Laura not only lost her sight and hearing, she lost her sense of smell and taste. The only sense she had left was touch.

Then we have Doctor Howe. He decides he wants to do a scientific experiment that can prove that blind/deaf people can learn how to communicate. He finds Laura and her parents make the decision to send 7 year old Laura to Dr. Howe's school. Laura is the only blind/deaf person in the School for the Blind.

The book shows the history of how Laura became blind/deaf to the most well known female besides the Queen of England. Dr. Howe would write articles detailing his success with teaching Laura language. Dr. Howe would put Laura on display at conventions to show HIS success. The doctor had other blind/deaf subjects that were failures. One was a women in her late twenties that the doctor realized was too old for his techniques. One little boy, who lost his sight and hearing at 4 was also a failure, but was trained to do minor tasks.

Dr. Howe eventually lost interest in Laura and sent her back to live with her family. Laura became anorexic and the doctor took her back to the school, to live out her life.

Laura Bridgman was bascially forgotton by the world when Helen Keller became famous.

I was so fasinated by the story of Laura Bridgman. What got me interested in Laura's story was the fictional book written by Kimberly Elkins called, ?What Is Visible".

Author: Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun recalls her childhood in Georgia, a place she can't wait to abandon. Her parents tumultous, alcohol-fueled marriage frightens and frustrates her, and when her father dies a slow death from cancer, her family crumbles further. A young teenager at this point, Frances hopes her mother will pull herself together and find a life's purpose, but instead, Frankye, spoiled and restless, sinks further into alcoholism. Entwined with this dysfunction are portrayals of eccentric relatives, stalwart servants, and lost lovers. Mayes recreates a place that she is glad no longer exists but has indelible memories. The landscape and her stories from a past era resonate for readers.

Author: Brandi Glanville

This is the second book by Brandi. She has moved on from when her husband left her for country star Leanne Rimes. She focuses this book on raising her sons, and dating and who to  NOT date. She is looking for a long term love and so far has not found him. She seems to be a good mom and does not bring her young sons into the mix. That is a good thing, since she has dated some not so great men. She can be very detailed at times, so to me if any potential mate reads this, she is history. I did enjoy this book, it shows a way of life I just never knew existed.

Author: Joanna Rakoff

In this memoir, a recent college grad falls easily into a job as an assistant at a Manhattan literary agency that seems frozen in time — no computers or copy machines anywhere — and soon learns that J.D. Salinger ("Jerry") is her boss's client. One of her tasks is to send a form letter to anyone who writes to the famous recluse, stating that he does not wish to read any correspondence from readers. Joanna soon decides to get creative and devises her own responses. She goes home every night to an egotistical, unfaithful boyfriend who is writing a novel, learning to box, and earning a few bucks here and there. Rakoff almost has a way with words, but it's a voice that is not original. The anachronistic Agency is the only interesting character in the book. I came away feeling that the author was milking her Salinger connection to sell this book. Unfortunately, it's not that interesting and she is not that good of a writer. I don't recommend this book; it's not worth your time.

Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey

Although I'm not a regular viewer of Saturday Night Live and I've never seen a full episode of Thirty Rock, I enjoyed this Tina Fey autobiography immensely. There are many laugh out loud passages, and Fey gives some entertaining insights into the world of comedy and show business. She also humorously conveys the challenges of being a working mother and being a woman in a man's business. Fey's chapter about her success playing Sarah Palin is especially funny. Now that I know her background, I'm anxious to actually view her work.