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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.

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Author: William Landay

I rated this book 3 stars. Andrew Barber is the Assistant District Attorney, but when his 14 year old son is charged with murder, he is put on paid leave.  Andy believes his son is not capable of a heinous crime, and proceeds to defend him ~ at all costs. The concept and story line of this book was very captivating, but for me, it just got too wordy at times, and a lot of legal references were made to cases (that I had no clue were about), and "lawyer talk".  This is something that drives me nuts in books is the use of acronyms but with no explanation of what they are.  I am not completely knowledgable in all things legal and the references made to them, so the author could have at least let the reader know what they stood for!  The author also tended to meander around, and jumped around in the time frame.  It was ok to read, but at times you didn't know if you were in the past or present.  It was only by reading several pages that you figured it out. I thought the plan was fantastic, but the execution could have been more polished for me.

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Author: Doris Gates

I rated this book 1 star.

My granddaughter found this book at a book sale. Originally published in 1943, it was later reprinted in 1968. This looked like a delightful book, so I asked if I could read it. That way, when she was done reading it, we could have a book discussion! How fun!

Books were written entirely different that many years ago, and I took that into consideration.<--break- />

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Author: Stacy Tornio

I rated this book 5 stars.

This is such a GREAT book.  FULL of things to do outdoors.  Some of things I have done with my children when they were younger, and there were a lot of new great ideas.  What adventures you can have!

I thought it was such a fun book with so many ideas, that I shared it with my daughter and her family.  They love being outdoors doing activities.  Mama and Papa are creating new adventures and memories with their three children!

I would highly recommend this book to others.

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Author: Amy Sue Nathan

I rated this book 2 stars.

A car accident ends the life of Richard Glass.  He leaves behind his ex-wife, Evie, and their two children, and his current wife, Nicole, with their new son.  Evie sees a silver lining in this tragedy, that maybe now, Nicole will just go away.  What she didn't count on was not having enough money, and letting Nicole and the baby move in their home, to help with cost.

The author created a believable situation that was certainly unique, and probably not so desirable, but in all likelihood, has happened more often than we think.

I did not care for the main character, Evie. She didn't want to lose her home because she didn't have enough money to make mortgage payments, but didn't really actively pursue trying to better her financial situation, or curb her spending habits. She just waited for the insurance money to fall in her lap. I would tend to think that women who are single parents are more driven than that.

Her "friends" and acquaintances were extremely nosy and interfering. I have a hard time believing that most everyone else (in her community) was so concerned about her living situation that they were always offering unsolicited advise. Evie was always being so judgmental of others too.

I liked the premise of the story, but it left me being irritated with the characters because most of them just didn't seem to have a real grasp on reality. Life is work, not very often a walk in the park on a sunny day, every day.

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Author: Katherine Center

Libby is the mother of two young children who has been widowed after the sudden death of her husband.  Trying to get her life back together after she finds he has left her penniless, she moves in with her mother, who is none too nuturing and makes her life miserable.  She toughs this out for three years until she suddenly gets a letter in the mail from her Aunt Jean (her mom's sister from whom her mom is estranged) inviting them all to come live with her on her goat farm.

Leaving her city life with all its conveniences and heading out to the goat farm is a decision she regrets initially, but it soon becomes a life savior, both for her and her children, who bloom under Jean's patient guidance and the multitude of animals on the farm.  Aunt Jean is a hippie of the best sort.  There are no televisions, and cell phones do not get reception.  Soon, though, the family is immersed in farm chores and in healing themselves.

I loved the book start to finish and hated that it had to end.

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Author: Ann B. Ross

Fans of the Miss Julia series, and even those who have never read a Miss Julia book, will enjoy this a lot.  It's a great story and a cookbook all rolled into one.  Miss Julia, who says she doesn't like to interfere with anyone else's business, does exactly that.  She decides she simply must help Hazel Marie, who has baby twin daughters, and who cannot cook a lick.  While getting all her friends to donate recipes, plus demonstrate how to cook a dish at Hazel Marie's, she manages to create tons of havoc, even though she has a heart of gold and truly wants to help.  Thrown into the mix are Hazel Marie's husband (what is he really up to?), a self-proclaimed Pastor and Hazel's uncle, who moves himself into the already hectic household and treats everyone to his harsh words and criticisms.  I really enjoyed this book and hated to see it end.

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Author: Meg Waite Clayton

A four star book.

I enjoyed this book, and it reminded me of the friendship of women in The Girls From Ames, although this was a work of fiction.  Kath, Frankie, Linda, Ally, & Brett became friends, at a park in Palo Alto, California, in the summer of 1967, where they took their children to play ~ on Wednesday mornings.  The book follows that friendship during a tumultuous period of our history, and how not everyone was involved in "The Summer of Love", but had their own issues going on.

The author did a wonderful job with the characters, and you felt you knew them personally. There were ups and downs with the friendships, and they all learned to share some of the intimacies that make a friendship. At times, among the five women, some of them conflicted, but I admired the tenacity of the women that their friendship was worth more than that bump in the road. The friendship began in the '60s when women were considered "housewives", but through their friendship they helped one another to see that they more than that. They encouraged one another, when oft times society thought that the woman's place was in the home. Period.

There was a certain amount of "feel-good chick-lit", but as a whole it was not too sappy and unrealistic. I thought it started out a little slow, and I almost wanted to stop reading, but I stuck it out, and was glad I did.

I look forward to reading The Wednesday Daughters, a story of the daughters of the Wednesday Sisters.

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Author: Lesley Kagen

This book got one star.

I have read all of Ms Kagen's books, found them to be very engaging and couldn't put them down.

This one? I couldn't wait to put it down because it was so awful.

Annie Bellamy was raised with horses, and now her daughter, Teddy, loves them too.  But Annie isn't sure she wants her daughter to be involved with horses because as a teen-ager, her horse world fell apart.  Annie has serious issues and is afraid history will repeat itself.

I am not a horse person, and don't know the difference between a saddlebred or hunter, and couldn't tell what a mare, nag, or a thoroughbred was! Or was it hag? Was there an explanation and I missed it?

I am sick of whiny, submissive, no backbone, can't make decisions, let people walk all over me, can't speak up for themselves, easily intimidated, don't know how to say no to their children, would rather be a friend to their child than a parent, plaster a smile on your face and say everything is fine when it's not women, that I am seriously taking a break from dysfunctional women books. (Did I miss anything?) I realize that "Annie" had issues, but at some point maybe she should have considered a different counselor if she wasn't getting anything out of it. I mean really? How many times are you going to go down the same path, realize it's not working, but still keep traveling the same road over and over and over . . . Before you think, hmmm, maybe I should change my route? Sometimes it is better to take the road less traveled. And never referring to your daughter, as your daughter, but "my girl"? That only reinforced the point that Annie had an issue being a mother, not being able to step up to the plate and say NO. Annie was more concerned about being the "good" mom to "her girl". Gag me.

I need a book that doesn't depress me, and this one surely did.

(The synopsis said it is based on a true story. I don't want to assume, but I am guessing it may be autobiographical. If so, I truly hope that the story was quite embellished.)

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Author: Amy Franklin-Willis

I would rather have rated this a 4.5, but thought 4 stars was too low. With that being said . . .

Ezekiel "Zeke" Cooper, Clayton, Tennessee, at his 25 year class reunion, ponders his life. How could the the smart boy with a full scholarship to the University of Virginia, end up living like this? Divorced, his ex-wife's wedding the week end before, living in a shack behind his mother's house, and working on the line in an elevator plant? And the drowning death of his twin brother Carter, defining his life? Seeking refuge, he leaves Clayton, on a mission. To end his life. But events change, and he ends up at Cousin Georgia, and husband, Osbourne Lacey's home near Bailey, Virginia.

I thought it was ironic that I should finish it on Mother's Day, as a lot of the book focused on the relationship of Zeke and his mother. Zeke had a lot of issues with his mother, and they were not unfounded. He felt ambivalence towards her, but refused to even speak with her to try to resolve it. His entire adult life was spent shutting her out.

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Author: Maryann Macdonald

A book worthy of 10 stars.  An exceptional work.

This is a work of fiction, based on the real life of Odette Meyers. Facts are taken from Odette's autobiography, Doors to Madame Marie, and from the author's visits to the the places of Odette's childhood.

Odette is a Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II.  Her mother, in order to save her life, sneaks her into the French countryside, where young Odette must pose at a Christian.

I absolutely loved this book. Written in a lyrical prose that draws you in immediately. From the perspective of Odette, an 8 year old Jewish girl, it is poignant portrait of how things were for Jewish children in Paris. I can't begin to imagine what it was like, but the author, with her words, paints us a visual picture not only into the countryside, but into the heart and mind of a child in the throes of a horrific war, not fully understood by Odette, but knowing she has to keep "secrets".

This is a book that young children can read and comprehend, making sure that there is adult time to talk about the issues after the book is read. Abandonment is real to children, and Odette talks about it in this book, and addresses it with her child mind.

Even though this is may be a touchy subject for children to deal with, it is addressed in a sensitive and positive manner by the author with a message of hope.

I highly recommend this book.