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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.

Fantasy

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Title: Valhalla
Author: Robert Mrazek

Vikings, Norse mythology and world domination come together in this suspenseful novel.  This first novel in a new series was fast paced.  The characters were compelling and interesting.  But the storyline really intrigued me -- Archaelogy under the Greenland icecap. The twists and turns on Vikings, secret religions, and conspiracies that the author led us through were great.  I couldn't figure out the end and was surprised at the conclusion.  It should be interesting to see what these characters will be up to in the next book of the series.

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Author: Janet Chapman

The 6th in the Spellbound Falls series The Highlander Next Door was a surprise to me.  I expected more involvement from previous characters.

Birch is a strong willed women who runs a women's shelter and is not afraid to do whatever it takes to protect the women who live there. She presents a tough-as-nails exterior, but has fears and longings like all women.  Her neighbor Niall MacKeage, a 12th century time traveler, is the new police chief in town.  I would have liked to learn more about Niall's history in Scotland.  Bits and pieace were thrown out, but it just left me wanting to know more.   There is also a new god, Telos,  that Chapman is toying with.  He steps in when he wants to and uses the excuse of not interefering with free will to help or not help at his whim. 

Remember the words of wisdom "you must embrace the entire journey to truly appreciate the destination".  Though not my favorite Spellbound Falls book The Highlander Next Door  does entice me to visit the destination of Spellbound Falls.  Enjoy a light and fast read.

“must embrace the entire journey to truly appreciate the destination” - See more at: http://www.scandaliciousbookreviews.com/2014/08/26/review-the-highlander-next-door-by-janet-chapman/#sthash.EWPxNPpx.dpuf
“must embrace the entire journey to truly appreciate the destination” - See more at: http://www.scandaliciousbookreviews.com/2014/08/26/review-the-highlander-next-door-by-janet-chapman/#sthash.EWPxNPpx.dpuf
“must embrace the entire journey to truly appreciate the destination” - See more at: http://www.scandaliciousbookreviews.com/2014/08/26/review-the-highlander-next-door-by-janet-chapman/#sthash.EWPxNPpx.dpuf
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Author: Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is one of my favorite writers. She rarly disappoints me.  Though I haven't read all of her work, the majority has a place on my bookshelves.  Shadow Spell, though similar to some of her previous work, brings the classic battle between good and evil into our lives through a small location in Ireland.  From friendship to lovers, this love story brings out the best in Connor and forces Meara to re-evaluate her past and what her friendships mean to her. Through the six major characters you see the strong friendships and committment they have developed.  A quick read, I enjoyed the bits of Ireland that float throughout the book.  Love, Romance, Falconry, Witches, and Ireland, what more could you ask for.

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Author: George R. R. Martin

The second in the Song of Ice and Fire series, or Game of Thrones for those who watch the T.V. Series, A Clash of Kings details the civil war started by the death of King of Robert Baratheon in Book 1.  King Joeffry Baratheon took over his fathers seat in King's Landing, Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Daenrys Targaryen, and Balon Greyjoy all declare themselves King of their Kingdoms, and are fighting to be the next leader of the Seven Kingdoms.  All feel that they have equal right to the throne, for one reason or another.  Each chapter is written from the viewpoint of a different character, which can sometimes be confusing and admittedly, this book took me longer to complete than usual, however, I enjoyed the book and never wanted to give up on it.  This series is a must for the sci-fi/fantasy genre fans.

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Author: Robin Sloan

BRILLIANT!! I loved, loved, loved this book!! The two worlds of reading collide--the world of a sleepy, dusty old bookstore which has a puzzle encoded within its walls and the modern world of Google and e.readers. This author deftly crafts a story where both worlds hold potential and value. I am a geek for both worlds and I just delight in how the main character, Clay, is one, too! Woven into the story are subtle comments on everything book related: from book burning to audiobooks. And the overriding question of how we achieve balance within so many choices. There is a quest in the book and the characters are cleverly drawn and presented to us to be a part of the quest. The question of what is immortality, really, and how and when it is a good thing, is lingering below the surface. Every thing is tied up neatly @ the end, even down to what the bookstore is eventually converted into. The ending, however, is sheer perfection. You can just hear the tinkle of the bell and all of us bibiliophiles have experienced this moment, so many times! It is always magical, having the right book fall into your hands @ the precise moment in which you need it. Well, this book was certainly that for me. I have been hungry for a hopeful book like this. (Serendipitously, I was reading non-fiction "Dot Complicated" on the very same weekend!)

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Author: Kourtney Heintz

I rated this book 1 star.

I must admit, the title grabbed me (as I am a Wisconsinite) and the synopsis sounded good. Little did I know what I was in for!

I could deal with the fact that this was "paranormal" ~ to a point. Some of it was just a little to out there for me. But even then, that wouldn't have been so bad. Oh my goodness. I did not need a simile for every feeling, action, or whatever else was going on. Too many words, too descriptive, and the story just seemed to drag on forever. The relationship with Kai and Oliver was a little too over the top too. Were they adults or middle school kids? After while it got old. I should have read the short story at the end of the book!

There were the occasional one liners thrown in, which made me chuckle. I liked the humor, and it did break the monotony.

I think this book could have been so much better with a lot of editing and the characters not acting so juvenile.

Premise was good, just not the execution . . .

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Author: Kazunori Aihara

I rated this book 5 stars.  Not because I loved it, but because my grandson did!

The book reminded me of the "Where's Waldo?" books that were so popular back in the '90's.  The large book is filled with little creatures that you have to find.  It is a very "busy" book, but it was fun to try and find the little critters!  (And I must confess, the 5 year old was much speedier than his Gramma!)  The colors are bright so as to capture a child's attention immediately.  It was also an excellent opportunity to find some of the subtle differences in the almost look-alike creatures.  Some of the names were tongue twisters, but it was fun trying to pronounce the words, to get the letters to meld together congruently.

If your child or grandchild loves Pokemon, then this would be a delightful book to read together.

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Title: Fuse
Author: Julianna Baggott

Fuse is the second novel in Julianna Baggott's Pure trilogy, and it left me eagerly anticipating the final installment in the saga. 

At first, Fuse didn't capture me the way Pure did--it suffered a bit from the tendency authors have in sequels of providing a little too much back story for someone who just finished the first book (and, conversely, probably not quite enough for someone who has not read the first book).  But after a little exposition, Baggott draws her readers into the dystopan world of those fighting outside the Dome for survival and for beauty. 

In Fuse, Baggott delves much deeper into one character who was peripheral to Pure: Lyda.  She goes through transformations that have incredible feminist implications and brings up issues that are painfully relevant for teenage girls.  The other characters remain strong and well developed, and the story moves with rapid energy. 

 

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Author: James Patterson

At first, I was uncertain if I would like this book as it occurred in Berlin.  But I did.  It kept my interest throughout the book. I  have enjoyed almost all the murder mystery books written byJames Patterson. This one involved Mattie Engel, an agent, who was looking for her ex-boyfriend, Chris, who was also an agent in the same organization.  It included the German secret police, a sadstic communist agent, an orphanage where Chris had been raised, and th agency Mattie and Chris were part of.  It occurred in the now, with references to the past 1980's before the Berlin Wall came down.  A sadistic man was killing the adults, that had been  kids in the orphanage, where awful lthings were done to the parents and kids. He was killing them so he couldn't be identified for the criminal activities he had done and continued doing.  Eventually, Chris's body and the bodies/skeletons of numerous individuals were found.  They were also able to save one in a slaughter  house before the monster could kill anyone else.   I didn't expect  the ending when It seemed the monster wanted to say he was sorry for what he did.
 

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Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott

Pure, the first novel in Julianna Baggott's distopan triliogy, is one of the most beautiful yet horrific novels I have read in a long time.  The world she crafts drew me in, and I found myself caring so deeply for the characters, whose bodies bear the scars of detonations that made their pasts literally adhere to their body (for example, the main character Pressia's hand fused to a doll she held as a child).

The novel is a fast-moving story of struggle between two groups--those inside and outside of the Dome.  The ones inside the Dome are unmarked "Pures."  For those outside the Dome, turning 16 means a person has to turn him/herself in to either join the militia or (if too damaged and weak) to become a live target for the soldiers.  At first, Pure seems like it will tell Pressia's story of survival when she decides not to turn herself in, but it quickly turns into a larger story of struggle, resilience, and ultimately a beauty that doesn't deny the scars but rather comes from these markings.