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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.

England

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Title: Motherland
Author: William Nicholson

I rated this book 2 stars.

I'm going to be honest.  I couldn't finish this book.  It took me a few weeks to get a third of the way into the book.  I just didn't want to waste any more time, when there are so many good books out there!

The story takes place during World War II in England.  The author may have accolades for other writing he has done, but this just droned on and on for me.  The minute detail that really was not imperative to the story, maybe for a movie, just seemed to drag.  Sometimes I think the author wrote, just because he likes to read his own writing!  For being as far as I was in the book, the characters don't jump off the page and make me want to like or dislike them, not give me the desire to find out more about them, or even care what happens.

Or could it have been me?  I know when I have better books waiting to be read, maybe I am not as patient with books that just don't grab my attention.  This book didn't capture me and make me want to keep reading, for those who enjoy a leisure read, this may be your book!

But . . . maybe another time . . .

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Author: Sandra Byrd

I absolutely adored this book.  Admittedly, I am a lover of most books about The Tudors, but even so, this one shines.  It's the story of the ill-fated Anne Boleyn as seen through the eyes of her best friend, Meg Wyatt.  Meg is there through thick and thin, and is the one who picks up Anne's body after she is sentenced to death by her husband on a charge of incest with her brother, which is historically accurate as to the reason she was executed.  History now proves she was completely innocent.   Although the book is fiction, it does an admirable job of describing life in the court of Henry VIII, where simply saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could result in a sentence of death by some unspeakably cruel means. 

If you love Tudor England, you'll love this book.  If you like books that speak to female friendships and how much a good friend means to all of us, you will treasure the friend Anne has in Meg at a time when she can trust no one else, including her own family.

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Author: Tessa Harris

Interesting read if you like forensic science, as I do. Hard to believe that this types of questions have being asked for so many years.

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Author: Rachel Joyce

This is a quirky novel about a retired Englishman who sets out on a long walk to visit an old friend and coworker.  Harold has not kept in contact with this woman who writes him a note saying that she is dying.  He comes up with the idea that he needs to walk, practically the length of England, in order to see her and ultimately save her. The novel follows his travels and you can just feel his joy and his discomfort as he meets each challenge along the way. It starts out rather slowly describing the life of Harold and his wife and as the story progresses, you begin to wonder if there is a real point to the story.  There is a twist near the end that is worth the wait.  I liked how the author switches voices/narrators each chapter.  It was a fast enjoyable read.

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Author: J.K. Rowling

I had heard that this book was amazing and that it was awful. I had no idea what to think when I picked it up. First of all, it is NOT a children’s book!! The language and situations are appropriate for adults and not even for teenagers, to my mind. That being said, it is an excellent book. The story line sounds kind of thin – a member of the town council dies suddenly, leaving a “casual vacancy” on the council that must be filled – but it gets filled in by lots of surrounding drama. The strength of this book is the characters. Rowling does an excellent job of making the characters come alive and making you want to care about them, even the least lovable. I strongly recommend this book. A+

Book Features:
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Author: Laurie R. King

Great book, very enjoyable read. Not what I expected, lots of twists and it kept my attention.

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Author: Barbara Claypole White

This story revolves around Tilly, a widow with a young son, Isaac.  Tilly owns a very successful garden nursery business.  She puts her heart and soul into the business and can thereby hide from the world and temporarily not think about her husband's death.  A man comes to her door seeking someone, and willing to pay a huge wage, who will build the garden of his dreams.  Tilly is not a landscaper, and despite the amount of money offered, repeatedly tells him she will not take the job.  He isn't dissuaded, sure that Tilly is the one to create his vision.  The man is James Nealy, a man who suffers greatly from OCD, and has retired young from a successful software development company.  He believes that facing his fears, including creating this garden, will be therapeutic. 

A family emergency sends Tilly and Isaac back to her childhood home in England, where she faces a former love.  However, James shows up again, having followed her to her native home.

Throughout the story, there are many interesting supporting characters.

All in all, a well written book that would be great for a summer read, or for curling up on a cold winter's day.

What really happened to Tara?

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Author: Graham Joyce

A compelling read from the very first chapter. Twenty years after going missing, Tara shows up on her parents' doorstep looking ragged but not a day older than when she left. Where has she been? Tara's brother, her ex-boyfriend, and her psychiatrist each have their own opinion of Tara's bizarre story. Even Tara begins to question herself, and the reader is left to decide for herself wherein lies the truth. Do you believe in fairy tales?

Originally posted in: APL Picks

I am Half-Sick of Shadows

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Author: Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is eleven years old, one of three motherless sisters living in 1950s England. She takes an extreme interest in chemistry--especially poisons--and fortunately is in possession of her Uncle Tar's laboratory where she can make use of the information she discovers. In the first three books she deals with a corpse in the cucumber patch, cruel pranks by her older sisters, and gets involved in mysteries involving old murder investigations, puppet theaters, and gypsies.

The fourth book, the title taken from the poem The Lady of Shalott, takes place just before Christmas. Money has gotten so tight that Flavia's father has rented Buckshaw, their family home, to a film company. Meanwhile, Flavia has reached the age where she is not so sure that Father Christmas is real and has formulated a plan to prove his existence once and for all.

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Author: Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is back! This 11-year-old genius with a penchant for poisons is plunged into a double mystery when a traveling puppet show makes an unscheduled visit. An uncanny resemblance of one of the marionettes to a victim of an unsolved murder causes her to venture to Gibbet Hill and discover events that the local constables have been unable to unravel. The eccentric characters and unwinding of the plot provide an engrossing mystery. The audio version is wonderful, with Jane Entwhistle providing a spot-on voice for Flavia, as she did in the first book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.