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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.

New York City

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Author: Joanna Rakoff

In this memoir, a recent college grad falls easily into a job as an assistant at a Manhattan literary agency that seems frozen in time — no computers or copy machines anywhere — and soon learns that J.D. Salinger ("Jerry") is her boss's client. One of her tasks is to send a form letter to anyone who writes to the famous recluse, stating that he does not wish to read any correspondence from readers. Joanna soon decides to get creative and devises her own responses. She goes home every night to an egotistical, unfaithful boyfriend who is writing a novel, learning to box, and earning a few bucks here and there. Rakoff almost has a way with words, but it's a voice that is not original. The anachronistic Agency is the only interesting character in the book. I came away feeling that the author was milking her Salinger connection to sell this book. Unfortunately, it's not that interesting and she is not that good of a writer. I don't recommend this book; it's not worth your time.

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Author: Stephanie Lehmann

Not only the story line, but the history was so rich in this book. The author clearly did her homework.  I gave this book 4 stars.

Amanda Rosenloom owns a business, Astor Vintage Place, in which she purchases vintage clothing to resell in her shop.  In one of her purchases she finds a journal of a young woman, Olive, sewn into a muff.  Amanda begins to read the journal and soon becomes immersed in her story.

Told in alternating chapters between Amanda, circa 2007, and Olive, circa 1908, in the City of New York, the book flows evenly between them. Interspersed in the book were photos of New York City for the time period of the early 1900's.

I have not been to New York City, so at times I thought it was difficult to follow the journeys of the women on their walking tours, making turns on streets, that I had no clue the of the significance of describing such minutiae. But I did enjoy the description of the buildings, both interior and exterior. Done so well, that I could envision the inside of the hotels, boarding houses, and the small apartment of Amanda.

In keeping with the time period of Olive, the manner of speech, words specific with that era, and the general consensus of the people's thinking, the author remained true to the character in her writing. It was like taking a step back in time and reading an actual book written in 1908.

I thought the ending was rather abrupt, and would have liked the author to tie it up a bit. There were some unanswered questions. But as in real life, sometimes there are no answers.

I would recommend this book to others.

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Title: Firehouse
Author: David Halberstam

The true stories of the Fire Fighters of Engine 40, Ladder 35 who responded to the Twin Towers on 9/11 and the tales of their serving friends and family.

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Author: Meg Howrey

Kate Crane is a ballerina in a New York company but has seemingly always been upstaged by her younger sister, Meg. But, now, Meg is back home in Grand Rapids for a “medical issue”. As Kate’s story unfolds, we learn about the world of ballet, but also about the complicated relationship between sisters. I also listened to this book on audio, which I very much enjoyed. A

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Author: Bronwen Hruska

I finished this book in two days - it’s really good. This is the story of an upper class New York school and it’s need for boys to fit in so badly that they convince parents and doctors to overmedicate these kids with stimulants. The plot is strong and engaging. The characters are well-drawn. The book drew me in and kept me interested until the end. A

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Strings Attached

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Author: Judy Blundell

It is the 1950s and seventeen year old Kit Corrigan has not had an easy life. She is part of a set of triplets that were raised by their poor, Irish, immigrant father in Providence, RI. The triplets (aka The Corrigan Three) lost their mother during their birth. Kit has always had big dreams of being a performer on Broadway and after the break up of her rocky relationship with boyfriend Billy, Kit heads out to New York City with stars in her eyes. Meanwhile, Billy and Kit's brother, Jamie, enlist in the Army together and are preparing to ship off to Korea.

Kit has to lie about her age to work and finds herself struggling to make it as a dancer in a third rate show that's way off-Broadway. She is living with a fellow dancer and her mother - sleeping on their sofa -- and things are not going well for Kit. Then, someone from her past reappears and seemingly has the answers to all of Kit's problems.

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The Other Half

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Author: Tom Buk-Swienty

Danish-born, Jacob Riis, was an investigative reporter who was considered to be the inventor of modern photo journalism. He emigrated to New York City, experienced dire poverty, worked closely with Theodore Roosevelt who was serving as New York City?s Police Commissioner, exposed the horrible conditions in the tenement slums of the City, and made a name for himself. Written in the narrative non-fiction style, this is an engrossing read. (Character, Setting)

North River

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Author: Pete Hamill

I think Pete Hamill is one of the extraordinary storytellers of our time! I listened to this book and the reader, Henry Strozier, was excellent. I like how the author can take daily routines and daily objects and describe them in a way that makes them alive and interesting. I fell in love with the main character, Dr. Delaney, who has a heart of gold in his practice as a doctor during the Depression. In his personal life, he has a missing wife, Molly, and a daughter, Grace, who has abandoned her young son, Carlito, to him. He is also under the stress of working in a neighborhood that is the battleground for two warring groups of gangsters. Because he attends to the medical needs of both gangs, he is suspicious to the opposing gangs and is also threatened by them. He has a secretary ,Monique, at the doctor's office and hires a nanny, Rose, to assist with caring for Carlito. The story completes itself by having the mysteries of Molly and Grace resolved and also a peaceful solution is made with the gangs. But it is Dr. Delaney's personal growth Read more»