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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.


Author: Lisa Barr

This book was a saga of sorts. We follow the protagonist, Yakov/Julian, from childhood to middle age. He is a passionate painter with the drive to paint flowing through his veins. In attempts to become who he is he moves to New York from Chicago; to Paris from New York; to Germany from Paris. He is in Paris when Hitler is rising to power in Germany. Julian becomes friends with a close knit group of people who include Charlotte, Adrienne, Rene, and Felix (who is German).

Julian is always cast as the mediator or the go-between. He has strong values about painting and art as well as being loyal to friendship and honesty. For these reasons, he ends up embarking on a series of perilous and unfruitful journeys in the name of his friends and art.

It is not until many years later that Julian's methodology, determination and persistence finally pay off to see justice served.

There is surprise after surprise in this book and we learn a lot about the art world before, during, and after World War II. It was fascinating.

I liked how the author had the sins of the characters catch up with them because I think that is very realistic. I also liked how she did not sanitize the cruel acts that people did and she was clear about the myriad of betrayals that happen in a power struggle web of fear and retaliation.

Thanks to Kim Leisgang for recommending this book to me!

Author: Cathy Marie Buchanan

This book is set in 19th century Paris, and is told from the viewpoints of two sisters, Marie and Antoinette.  After losing their father, they are left with an alcoholic mother and another sister, who doesn't play a huge role in the book.

Antoinette is employed as an extra at a ballet company, and her two sisters secure posts as dancers as a way to make a little money so they can have food and housing.  The book speaks to the abuse some of these dancers took, doled out by rich men who visited the ballet and offered them large amounts of money for their "services", money which they sorely needed as most were poor to begin with and poorly paid.

Also entering in the story is the famous artist Degas, who uses one of the sisters as a model.

Although the book sounds interesting, I found myself fast forwarding through parts as it does become very repetetive.  It's not a bad book by any means, and it's worth a look at, but while it grabbed my interest initially, it quickly lost it.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Chuck Close: Life

Author: Christopher Finch

Chuck Close is a photo realist painter best known for his over-sized "mug shot" style of portraiture. He was born in Monroe, Washington in 1940. His father died when he was eleven years old and this had a profound effect on his life. He Studied at the University of Washington (BA) in Seattle and Yale University (MFA.) and he traveled to Europe on a Fulbright grant. Ironically, he suffered from dyslexia and prosopagnosia (inability to recognize familiar faces) yet was able to excel. He practiced "process" oriented art. One of his favorite sayings is "An artist's style is what he happens to be doing when he is discovered." Close suffered a stroke in December 1988 which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was able to overcome this disabling condition and return to his painting.

Author: Kim Edwards

I loved this book! Lucy is a career woman who has been living in Japan. She finds her way back to her childhood home where she has a lot of unfinished work about who she is. She needs to deal with her father's death of long ago, she needs to sort out a romance from her teen years but most importantly, she discovers that in her family tree she has a connection to feminists at the turn of the 20th century. Unearthing this information gives her the resolve to move forward with who she is. This book is great on all levels: the plot, the writing, the characters,and the setting. It is always a challenge to come out with a book after your debut was wildly successful. Congratulations to Kim who did it!

Visions in Poetry

Author: Alfred Noyes

“The Highwayman”, one of the English-speaking world’s most popular poems, has been recorded in song (Loreena McKennitt's The Highwayman and Fleetwood Mac's 1988 video of the song Everywhere), story (Deborah Ballou's The Highwayman: A Novel Inspired by Alfred Noyes' Poem) and in film (the 1951 full-length of the same name).

This incarnation transfers the poem from 18th century England to an Art Deco version of New York City. King George’s men become FBI agents and the Highwayman rides a motorcycle embellished with a horse design. Bess, the landlord's daughter, is held hostage by the federal agents, but manages to warn her lover before he is caught in the trap.

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