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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.

Marriage

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Author: Graeme Simsion

Ooh, ooh, ooh, a fabulous follow-up to "The Rosie Project". (& a perfect Valentine's Day read!!) Don and Rosie are starting new lives in New York. They have the challenges of new jobs and new friendships. Add to that a pregnancy and the fun of these two characters ensues. Don gets himself into laugh out loud, unpredictable situations (the park and the birthing class come to mind!). But there are also tough and sad encounters as each of them is navigating this new idea. They both love each other but have communication breakdowns because of how polar opposite their personalities are. And Rosie got pregnant without planning with Don, what was she thinking?! I love that Don's extreme stringent behaviors once again end up being helpful. I adore what they end up calling the baby and why. There is so much joy and gentleness and kindness of spirit in this book. The science is interesting, too. Well done!!

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Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Beautiful and Damned, F.S. Fitzgerald's second novel, centers on the romantic relationship of Anthony, a soon-to-be wealthy heir, and Gloria, a fashionably beautiful society girl. Their courtship, marriage, and general discontent unfold upon New York City's glamorous high society during the 1920s.

Fitzgerald simultaneously weaves this deeply personal tale into a broader portrait of society.  He paints a deeply troubling picture of the wealthy class' preoccupation with their own immediate pleasure and lackadaisical attitude towards the power over others which they wield. The thoroughly intimate nature of the story perhaps hints at its inspiration being drawn from Fitzgerald's own marriage and dalliance with society's upper crust.

The novel's slow plot occasionally borders monotony as its inevitable spiral slowly unwinds, but the author's gorgeous mastery of the English language make it indomitable. Fitzgerald's literary voice is so unassumingly natural, that even the mundane is elevated to a spiritual pleasure. I recommend this book, especially to those who are newly discovering Fitzgerald and would like a more personal slice than one finds in The Great Gatsby.

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Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Did you ever read the first sentence of a book and know right then and there that this was a 5 stars book? Well that happened with me and FOREVER INTERRUPTED. I felt connected to the characters immediately, I was part of their world from that first sentence and stayed connected through the whole book. This story is a sad/happy story. You know from the back cover that Elsie faces the death of her new husband, Ben, shortly after they are married. You are also told that she is to face her mother in law, who was never informed of her son's relationship with Elsie, let alone their marriage. What unfolds in this story is the stinging truth of loss and grief, so honestly portrayed that it breaks your heart and a love story that is so uplifting, powerful and unforgettable. This story is about loss, finding peace within life's harsh circumstances and loving with your heart each and every moment. This is an amazing debut novel from a writer who knows how to write characters that you are instantly attached to, with compelling and rich story line. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this book and like the front cover says "this is not your average love story". 5 stars!!!! (less)

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Author: S. J. Watson

This book was almost 5 stars.

"As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life."  (From Goodreads.com)

As a psychological thriller, this was extremely well executed. I found I was reading it with a very scrutinizing eye, looking for clues. I had my suspicions, but I have to admit, I was surprised! A few times I wanted to peek ahead to the ending because the suspense was getting to me! (I held my ground, and did not!)

There were a few discrepancies while reading ~ but that's just me ~ but not so much that it took away from the book as a whole. (My children hate watching movies with me! The duct tape remains a constant threat!)

The characters were well developed and I thought the author did an excellent job of how she wanted us to perceive them. I enjoyed how I got drawn in, thinking that one person was being honest, and the other not. Then all the sudden a statement would be made, and it would throw me.

Very good book and highly recommended!

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Author: Ann Hood

4 Stars!

I really enjoyed this book and the writing style of the author.  I thought her characters were well developed and believeable, although I did not care for Claire's husband ~ then again ~ I don't think many women would!  May be good looking on the inside, but not so good on the inside.

Alternating between the early 1900's and 1960, and the lives of Vivien and Claire, their stories are told. Today psychologists/counselors would have a field day with them! So many issues! But in that time period their repressed opinions, feelings, desires (sexual or otherwise) were the norm, their lifestyles were what they were.

It was not until almost the end of the book that the connection between the two women became known. I thought the author pulled it all together very nicely.

I was troubled by the repression of both women, and how difficult lives must have been back then because of it, but it was a man's world ~ his opinion dominated.  But again, it was the norm for that time period.

Thank goodness, as the saying goes, "We've come a long way baby".

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Author: Melanie Benjamin

This book tells the story of Anne Morrow, who became the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh.  The daughter of a diplomat, Anne is sure the handsome, acclaimed "hero" will fall for her much prettier sister when they meet at a diplomatic function.  Much to her surprise, it is she who he seems to be drawn to.  He secretly takes her up in a plane quite early in the morning when the press and photographers, who bother him at every turn, will leave them alone.  They have a very hard time finding the time to be alone as they are stalked by the press, and if they try to hide, the press makes stories up to feed to their readers. 

The book casts an unflattering light on the Charles Lindbergh we have all read about.  He came from a home of tough love, and refused to allow Anne to coddle the children, or even to pick them up if they cried.  His attitude towards his children, including verbally belittling them quite often, was quite cruel; however, we are reminded he was treated the same way.  He left Anne alone much of the time, leaving and not telling her when he'd be back.

When their first son is born, Anne is thrilled, although the child is closer to his nanny, as Anne only sees him a couple of times a day.  His famous kidnapping and murder are touched upon in the book, and it is then we see the human side of both Anne and Charles.

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Author: Jonathan Dee

I didn't find the story all that plausible. A woman who has been out of work for over ten years gets four interviews in one day, and then got hired ~ without any real qualifications for the job ~ then within a couple months is being sought after by the owner of the biggest public relations firm in New York, with offices all over the world, and then a mere month later her services are so outstanding that she is being requested from potential clients overseas? Not likely in the real world.

Oh sorry. Was that a run-on sentence? This book had so many of them, that at times took an entire paragraph (or so it seemed). Sometimes I had to scratch my head, huh?, and try to find the beginning of the sentence to remember what in the heck the point of all the that was. A lot of times, just too many unnecessary words.

I thought the author did a good job on the characters, and I did find their personalities believable, and in fact, found Ben likeable by the end of the book. The daughter, Sara, was totally unlikeable and thought the author did an excellent job in conveying that.

At first I found the book difficult to get into, as I thought it had a slow start. After while the pace picked up, and the story did get more interesting, but still not a very real likelihood in the real world.

I would not recommend this book to others.

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Author: Melanie Benjamin

I'm not often a fan of historical fiction but this one appears to be quite accurate and is so fascinating.  The book is about Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her struggle to cope with his complicated personality.  These two very private individuals were hounded by the press constantly.  It was very helpful to read the author's notes at the end of the book before reading it as she explains why it is fiction.  I also kept a copy of Anne's book Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead next to me because it has photographs and diary entries that go along with it.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a highly intelligent, talented woman who just couldn't be brave enough to stand up to her husband.

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Author: Ka Hancock

A sensitive novel about how it would be to marry a man who is bipolar and how to stick it out with him. The author deftly captures how this man, Mick, would be fighting his ups and downs. How he would be living his life in between bouts of hospitalization. How he would need support from many different avenues. This book is a love story about how Mick finds the love of his life, Lucy, and how they build a marriage. Challenges occur for them. Lucy gets cancer. Lucy also has an accidental pregnancy. How do Mick and Lucy traverse these challenges? You will have to read the book to find out! This book is very well done down to the title itself.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

The Paris Wife: A Novel

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Author: Paula McLain

Hadley Richardson was a Midwestern spinster when she first met Ernest Hemingway, seven years her junior. She was naïve, having been an invalid during most of her childhood and tending her mother through her long final illness. Ernest swept her into the world of flappers, jazz and speakeasies.

Soon they moved to Paris for the atmosphere, the jazz, the nightlife—and a place where Ernest could concentrate on his writing. There they became part of the “Lost Generation”—partying with famous artists and writers such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald.

This evocative novel, based on their letters to each other and told in Hadley’s voice, brings their passionate love story to life. As their differing goals, Ernest’s tremendous talent and his desire for danger are pulling their marriage apart, we still hope they will find a way to keep their life together.