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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.

gentle reads

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Author: Lesley Kagen

This second book by Leslie Kagen is a treat! It is chock full of characters that surround, Gibby, a young woman who has suffered a brain injury in a car accident. She is trying to get back to being Quite Right or QR through being an investigative reporter. She is a special person who is a sweet good friend identifying situations (positive & negative) around her as best she can. She has trouble with language because of the brain injury and some hilarious interpretations ensue. I loved that this book took a turn toward being a love story. I enjoyed how everything sorted itself out in the end. There is an unlikely heroine which was super. For some reason, Because of Winn-Dixie popped into my head while reading this. Probably because of Gibby's charisma and that she is center stage while everyone around her is working through their stuff much like India in Because of Winn-Dixie. Cool! Gibby is also friends with a girl named Clever and they fancy themselves Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--it is very sweet how they say quotes from the movie.

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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.

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Author: Fannie Flagg

Standing in the Rainbow is a story of the citizens of Elmwood Springs, Missouri beginning in the 1940?s and spanning five decades. We first meet Dorothy Smith, hostess of the Neighbor Dorothy Show transmitted from her living room. In the following decades we meet many interesting characters that interact with the Smith family. Among them are the Oatman Family Gospel Singers, who somehow survive tons of misadventures to become very successful, Ham Sparks who is very politically ambitious and quite successful despite his choice of wife, a very shy Betty Raye Oatman. Also in town is Tot Whooten who is a walking disaster, the Goodnight Sisters, Ida Jenkins a wanna-be socialite and her daughter Norma and son-in-law Mackey. They all come together to create a slice from life of small town Missouri.

Chili Queen

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Author: Sandra Dallas

I have never read a book by Sandra Dallas, but from what I have reviewed, people either seem to love her style of writing or dislike it. It took awhile to get into the book, but it got more interesting the more I got into it. Addie French owns a brothel called The Chili Queen. On her way back to the Brothel in Nalgitas, Addie meets Emma Roby, a conservative who is on her way to Nalgitas to marry a man she has never met. When Emma's husband does not show up, Addie takes her in. Here we meet Welcome, Addie's headstrong, opinionated housekeeper. We also meet Ned, a 'friend' of Addie's who soon takes a liking to Emma. The plot thickens when Ned and Emma decide to rob a bank in a nearby town. After this, the there are lots of unexpected twists in the story, none of which I expected. Every character turns out to be someone different, with dark secrets.

Past Secrets

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Author: Cathy Kelly

The novel is set in Ireland but the place is incidental to the book. It involves 3 women that live on a street in a small village and how secrets from their past is still influencing their lives today. One woman rebelled as a 17 yr old with a man for a band and has a child by him. To shelter her daughter she invents a father with a wholesome past and lives her life for her daughter. The daughter thinks this is boring and rebels with---a boy in a band. The book is certainly character driven as each woman must confront the secret.

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Author: Ann B. Ross

It is a lighthearted series about a woman of a 'certain' age—mid-sixties as near as I could determine. Her husband suddenly dies and leaves her a rich widow, much to her surprise as he was always penny pinching to her. He also leaves a mistress and son. The stories follow the southern Presbyterians as they have some surprising adventures. The widow takes the mistress and the son into her home, develops feelings for the retired family lawyer, rides a motorcycle, and involves a drunked PI in recovering her stolen jewelry. The dialog moves along and you find yourself laughing at some of the predicaments the genteel woman becomes involved in. The book is a very gentle read as the occasional swear word is quickly censored by Miss Julia. Sex is something she'd rather not talk about and the violence is usually accidental.

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Author: Joan Medlicott

This book is about three women that are all widowed and retired and living in the same boardinghouse in North Carolina. It's a wonderful example of how friendship grows between three very different individuals and how unexpected opportunities leads them on an adventure to move to a small town called Covington. They fix up an old house and discover strengths about themselves that they didn't know they had. They stand up to their families who are concerned that they are "too old" to be moving and they they learn about living in a small community where everyone looks out for each other. This book has some unexpected turns and is humorous as well.

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Author: Bill Richardson

This is a charming little book that centers on twin brothers, Hector and Virgil, 50-something bachelors who run a Bed & Breakfast in a remote island location. Though word-of-mouth, they have attracted a customer base consisting entirely of fellow bibliophiles, and thus reading is a central theme throughout the novel. The book is written as a series of reflections: each chapter is narrated by either Hector, Virgil, or one of their guests, whose stories make up the B&B's unique guest book. Humor and quirky characters are a big part of this book.

Julie and Romeo

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Author: Jeanne Ray

Julie and Romeo had never met, even though they were bitter rivals. Each owns a flower shop, across town from the other but they don't know how the rivalry ever started. Julie, divorced and in her 60s, is ready to fall in love and Romeo, a widower, is the perfect match. Their love story is beautiful and obviously meant to be. Just like Shakespeare's fated couple, their path is riddled with obstacles, namely their own children. The villain on Romeo's side is his aged mother, the only one who knows the truth of the past. She hurls curses, salts the roses, and teaches her whole family to go to war. A delightful story with great characters, beautifully written language, a familliar plot and a blooming setting...and there's a sequal!

London Holiday

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Author: Richard Peck

"Mrs. Smith-Porter stood at the front window of her best bedroom fingering a strand of artificial pearls." The first line of the first chapter leads you to believe that this story is about Mrs. Smith-Porter, who runs a London boarding house. The story begins by telling how she re-invented her life from the poor streets of London to a somber business owner then transitions into the lives of her most recent guests and their obvious need to reinvent their own lives. The three middle aged women, friends since childhood, are described and troubles are hinted at. The vacation begins and the three guests go through their necessary transitions. The story is character based, with multiple problem/resolution plots. The flow of language was uncomfortable and sometimes repetitive. The place, which could have shown the beauty of London, was almost like name dropping. Despite all of this, I did want to finish the story. I wanted to watch Margo overcome her suppression of self, Lesley get a life of her own and Julia begin to look beyond her career. It was worth the effort because the ending gave me the sense of freedom that all three characters needed.

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