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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: Sheila Connolly

I think of Ireland as the "old country" and apparently so does Maura Donovan.  She is visiting Ireland at the last request of her grandmother.  Maura's planned short stay was extended when she takes a job at a pub and becomes involved with the locals.  This short easy read brings a great sense of Ireland and the way of life for the local people.  Interesting characters abound and interesting problems in Maura's life are solved.  This is a first novel in the new "County Cork" series.  Another Cozy mystery that will hold your interest.

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Title: The Dinner
Author: Herman Koch

(translated)

This is a well crafted and disturbing book. Of course, when a book is written in first person the reader is caught up in that person's thoughts and you become an ally as you read his reactions to the people and situations around him. In this case, the protagonist is Paul and the story begins as he and his wife Claire go out to dinner with Serge and Babette (after leaving their teenage son, Michel, at home). From the beginning, we understand that this dinner is going to be a difficult one because the meeting is fraught with so much stress and anxiety. The book is divided into the courses of the meal and as each course is presented new information is revealed. Basically, something has happened with the adolescent children, of both couples, that needs to be "addressed". Two thirds of the way through the book, flashbacks come closer together and we piece together a new image of Paul. We begin to question whether or not Paul and Claire should have reproduced. Paul's derogatory descriptions of both Serge and Babette start to ring false and, indeed, they (Serge & Babette) begin to appear to have an integrity that we did not at first grasp. This integrity is not part of Paul, Claire and Michel's collective or individual plans so they summarily "take care of business". It is shocking and haunting and violent and a book that you will be dying to talk to someone else about who has read it!

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Author: Maggie O'Farrell

This fast read leaves you with lots of food for thought. It has several mysteries running simultaneously. During parts of the book, the author uses a very interesting writing style in which she injects fragments of thought and/or action from the perspectives of different characters which also cover different periods in time. Don't let this put you off! Just keep reading and it will all come together!

Esme is the main character who is institutionalized for over sixty years. (She has been disrespected in a series of ways. First and foremost is that the administration in the asylum will not call her by the name that she goes by, Esme.) The psychiatric unit is closing down and a great niece named Iris finds out about Esme. She never knew about her great aunt before! Iris goes to meet Esme and feels responsible for her future. Iris feels connected to Esme on some level that she doesn't understand. She knows they are related but it goes deeper than that.

Esme and Iris have had a series of dysfunctional experiences and they intersect at the end over a horrifying realization.

I was especially put off by how men treated women in this book. Also, how the women were not familiar with their own sexuality. When you are done reading you are left wondering, was Esme sane or insane?

Good one!!!

(For some reason reminded me of THE DINNER, by Herman Koch.)

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Author: Willie Robertson

Willie and Korie from Duck Dynasty join together to relive their story on how Duck Dynasty got where it is today.  The book includes some favorite family recipes.  Each chapter has readings from both Willie and Korie's take on their lives.  It's interesting to learn how this famous family got to this point...lots of unexpected!

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Author: William Kent Krueger

An extremely well written book. I couldn't help but wonder if some of the events were autobiographical. I have not read such a moving book in a very long time.  I gave this book 5 stars.

Told by 13 year old Frank Drum, a coming of age story, that takes place in New Bremen, Minnesota in 1961.  After his father, Nathan, returned from the war, his career path changed, and he became a pastor.  His livelihood returned them to the hometown of Frank's mother.  It is a story of death, lies, secrets, and murder.  It is the summer that Frank went from a young boy, to a young man.  A summer that altered his life forever.

The author told a story that drew you in, and kept you from not wanting to put the book down. There were many sad moments throughout the book, and I kept a box of tissues near, but at the same time, uplifting. When Frank's father spoke at a funeral in the middle of the book, I was so moved, that I could hardly read through my tears. That chapter alone was exemplary. There were a couple, what you thought were predictable events, done in such a way that kept you turning the pages to find out if it really was going to happen. And then there were things that happened, that totally blew me away.

Long ago, I decided to quit purchasing books because I just had too many on my shelves, so I began to check them out from the library instead. This is a book I am going to purchase, to put on my shelf, because one reading isn't going to be enough. Rarely, if ever, do I read a book over, but this book is so exceptional, that I will be reading it again.

The only thing ~ is that I wish the author would have used a few more commas or reworded some of the sentences! Many times I had to reread the sentence because it didn't make sense! After while I became more accustomed to the author's style, but I still had that quizzical crease between my brow and had to read the sentence again in order for it to make sense. (And I can add the punctuation when I purchase my own copy!)

I loved this book, and will be recommending it to others.

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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.

Sweet Mercy

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Author: Ann Tatlock

This book is told from the viewpoint of Eve, who, at the start of the book, is telling her grandson about the memories she has of Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge, which was owned by her uncle.  She has gone back there to retrieve a wooden box which is very special to her as it holds some small items that carry nostalgic and precious meaning for her.  The Lodge is set to be torn down and her grandson takes her to find the box she left behind.  Eve lived there for some time in 1931 after her father lost his job at Ford Motor Company.    The country is in the midst of the Great Depression, and prohibition is in force.  Her uncle offers Eve's family room and board in exchange for help with the place, which is bustling despite the Depression.  Eve loves living there, until she learns some secrets that ruin her idyllic view of her uncle and her family.

Prohibition plays a huge part in this story, as does Jones, her cousin who happens to be albino.  She didn't know of Jones' existence as he was kept hidden away, but she doesn't see him as "different" and helps him to be more at ease with people.  Also playing a role is Link, a man who presents himself as a hobo looking for food.  Her uncle always feeds those who need it, and he feeds Link as he does many of the men who live down the road in a shantytown.  Most lost their jobs and are trying to find work to support their families left behind.

I loved this book and hated to see it end.  It vividly describes the Lodge, the dances held in the pavillion, the innocence lost, the cool swims in the river.  It's a great summer read.

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Author: Barbara O'Neal

Ramona Gallagher never expected to have a teenage girl staying with her after her own daughter rushes to be with her recently injured military husband.  Katie is thirteen and has lived a difficult life-both of herparents are soldiers and her mom came back from the war with a drug dependency she just can't shake, which led to a divorce and several stints in rehab.  Katie is afraid to rely on anyone until Ramona opens her heart and her home to the troubled teenager.  Ramona knows a lot about trust issues-she was pregnant at fifteen and felt lost in the world, until her aunt Poppy introduced her to the magic of baking.  While neither Katie or Ramona was prepared for what life has thrown at them, they somehow manage to come together in a wonderful story about love, loss, growing up, and the magic recipe we all have inside of our kitchens-and inside of ourselves.

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Author: Maeve Binchy

I have enjoyed Maeve Binchy's books for years and was glad to see a new one published.  This is typical Binchy storytelling.  She richly develops the story and characters.  If you aren't familiar with the author she is lives in Ireland and her stories take place around the Ireland countryside.  She discribes the landscape so well you could picture yourself there.  Most of her characters have their human flaws but are loveable.  Her stories usually involve families, cousins, or in-law's lives as they intertwine together.  Close friends, room-mates, or co-workers lives as one characters actions create a cause and effect reaction with one another.  She develops the storyline and it flows along and you want to keep reading to find out what will happen next.  Her books are clean written without curse words or explicit sex or violence.  Another good Mave Binchy read and her last as she passed away shortly after she finished this novel n July, 2012.