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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.

Short Stories

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Author: Rajesh Parameswaran

After having this title on my wish list for several months, I was very excited when book made its way into my hands. This collection is a wonderfully fresh look at short stories with an Indian flair. Centering around love in many different forms these stories put a great twist on the traditional story. The first story, which is one of my favorites, it about a tiger who thinks he has fallen in love with his keeper. Who better for a tiger to love than the one who they can depend on to bring them food and attention on schedule every day? On this fateful day that the tiger realizes his deep affection for his keeper, things begin to go awry as the daily meals arrive much too late for the tiger. Starved and agitated when the keeper finally arrives, the tiger's attempts to demonstrate how fond of the keeper he is take a gory turn as the tiger's natural instincts take over. The mauling of the keeper is only the awful start to where the day goes bad as the tiger runs around the zoo trying to find someone to help his poor injured love. The most interesting thing about this story is that it is told from the tiger's view point. As a charming and alarming story, this is a great example of what to expect from this book; something just a little bit unusual and unique.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Short Cuts

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Title: Short Cuts
Author: Raymond Carver

Short Cuts is a short story collection by the late Raymond Carver. Carver has a unique gift for efficiency, where other authors layer on florid language to create detailed scenes Carver takes a minimalist approach. This approach still manages to weave a complex tapestry to serve as the convincing backdrop for the complicated characters that call Carver’s imagination home. Though he does not develop his characters in narrative, his characters are complicated and very human, displaying both beauty and warts with an almost clinical detachment. Still, his flawed creations are easy to identify with even when you find yourself detesting their behavior. Be warned: Carver’s focus is on the human condition and not all that happens in life is pleasant; you won’t find a happy ending here, but you will find survivors.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Zombies vs. Unicorns

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Author: Holly Black

The question on everyone's mind these days: Which is better, Zombies or Unicorns? This unique short story collection pits the walking dead against magic glitter in a grudge match unlike any other. Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, this collection features some of the best teen authors writing today, including Libba Bray, Garth Nix, and Cassandra Clare.

While some stories stand alone, others give readers a great introduction to a regular series. "The Care and Feeding of your Baby Killer Unicorn" introduces readers to Diana Peterfreund's Killer Unicorn series, while Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea" brings us back to the Forest of Hands and Teeth. My two favorites of the collection are by Scott Westerfeld and Meg Cabot.

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Author: Michael Ashley

We do love to apply nicknames to things, even decades. The Swinging Sixties, The Gay Nineties and of course, the Roaring Twenties. A decade of excitement, energy, eccentricity, fun and freedom—a completed release after the horrors of the Great War, and total abandon for the terrors yet to come.

Because, as we know, it wasn’t all fun. The 20’s was a time of great hardship in Britain – the Jarrow March, The General Strike. In America there was prohibition and the rise of gangsterism.

In this anthology the Editor wanted to encapsulate those extremes, stories showed the fun of the 20’s, but also the hard violent and vicious underbelly. The “newness” at the time was also shown in with the rise of movies and motor cars.

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Author: Laurie Notaro

Notaro has a gift for taking a random occurrence and expanding on it in a very funny way and with a unique perspective. She usually targets herself but her family and friends are fair targets. One hilarious incident was her reaction to the number of women so comfortable with nudity in gym locker rooms. I saw her during the book festival and she's just like her books, the way she talks is the way she writes. Very entertaining read. Most of her books are non-fiction but she has published several fiction books.

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Author: Elizabeth Strout

Remember that I am a reader who enjoys characters. This book was perfect for me! Olive Kitteridge is a high school math teacher in a small town and a force to be reckoned with. She is married to Henry and they have a son Christopher. This is a book of 13 short stories and in each one we receive a different perspective of Olive. The first story introduces us to Henry--it is a very smart and interesting way to begin the book. You are pulled right in. In an interview with the author in the end pages, Elizabeth Strout indicates that she chose to write the book this way to give the reader a break from Olive. Yes, this makes sense! Olive is that strong a character. I can't say I learned to like Olive but I certainly learned to understand her. And I enjoyed her forthrightness that she exhibited at most times. When she chose not to be forthright I think we learn even more about her and her desire to mature and be a better person? I could see all the characters and how they harbored misconceptions about one another--I think we all do that. And even when we seek the truth about other people do we really ever know their stories or their psychology or how they have become who they are. Fascinating stuff! Great writing!

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Author: Kim Edwards

Kim Edwards brings us fourteen delightful short stories in this collection. Common themes in her work include: giving birth, dreams, growing old (the years going by so quickly), and elements (water, fire, minerals, plants). Her stories weave a sense of melancholy with a moral much like a fairy tale made for grownups.

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Author: Kim Edwards

This book contains 14 short stories by Kim Edwards. The stories are about interesting characters who encounter rare scenarios and predicaments. I found the stories to be like short mysteries that I was eager to read and have solved. Elements of magic and mysticism were sometimes introduced. Kim writes in such a way that you "get into the heads" of the characters and they haunt you. After each story was completed I was imagining what was coming next for the characters. The short stories were very much like nuggets that could possibly be stretched into full-fledged novels. Very good readings!

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Author: James Herriot

These stories are simply the sweetest and heart wrenching stories ever. Herriot has such a passion for the people in his village and surroundings. He is able to describe their relationship with their pets so well. He is not afraid to make you laugh and cry and he includes himself as a "victim." Simply charming.

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Author: Michael Resnick

This is a collection of alternative history short stories. In one of the stories, Theodore Roosevelt is sent to England by President Grover Cleveland to assist investigators in the hunt for Jack the Ripper. The actual 'vampire' story in this collection is called, The Roosevelt Dispatches. Roosevelt is in Cuba leading his Rough Riders on a campaign. They encounter a creature that is impervious to bullets and it ingests the blood of its prey.