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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.

southern fiction

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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.

Bloodroot

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Title: Bloodroot
Author: Amy Greene

Poignant and profound. This fictional account of families on and around Bloodroot Mountain in Appalachia shows how our forebearers run deep within us and sometimes we are bound to repeat history. The characters are so well written--they are clearly flawed and wonderful at the same time. How we sometimes recognize evil and goodness within humanity as magical is also explored. I read this book very quickly because it had me captured--I had to know the outcomes! Messages of truth interwoven with excellent writing left me happy!

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Author: Lesley Kagen

The third I've read by Lesley Kagen. This is filled with so many characters (and some of them similar) that it takes a while to catch on. The protagonists are twin girls--Shenandoah and Woody. Shenandoah is taking care of Woody since she has gone mute due to a trauma. Both girls are trying to sort out the death of their murder and the cruelness of their father. Even though the subject matter is tough, Kagen again manages to bring a lighthearted attitude to the topic by creating an atmosphere where the girls are on an adventure. Kagen's language play in this book is that the girls have a secret twin language--that is very cool. In this book I very much enjoyed the southern rural setting and the intertwining of race relations.

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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: Pam Durban

There is a love story here. I just lingered and lingered over this because the story and writing were both so good. Annie moves back in with her mother, Louise, after both her husband and her father die. So we have two women coping with being widows and the truth emerges about both men, their families, their interests, their beings. Annie moves forward by falling in love with Legree and moving back out of her childhood home. Louise moves forward by finding God. Ultimately, the book is about the fact that nothing is ever as it really seems, forgiveness is key, and everyone has faults and weaknesses. I liked Annie a lot. I could tell she was going to be okay. (A cosmetic thing: I DID NOT like the weight of this book--too bad it wasn't published in an easier to manage book.)

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Author: Silas House

Oh, what a sweet poetic love story. This was a joy to read. The dialogue was sparse but the story kept moving. You wanted to know what was going to happen to this Cherokee woman who married this white man at the turn of the last century. They go through several trials and make it through as a couple. Loved it!

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Author: Pat Conroy

Pat still has it. He can write the most descriptive sentences. By the end of this book, you definitely will want to visit Charleston and experience it! This book is about the circles of life. The main character describes his place in the world, particularly within his family and within his circle of friends. The friends experience growing up during and through the difficult times of integration, the AIDS epidemic, and Hurricane Hugo--just to mention a few. Interwoven is an interesting study of the Catholic Church. If you are a Pat Conroy fan you will note the similarity of this book to his others--how the main characters are always seeking, pondering, and coming to grips with life.

Deep Dish

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Title: Deep Dish
Author: Mary Kay Andrews

This book was predictable--you knew the ending pretty quickly. But it was fun to see how the author was going to get there. The characters were one note, but likable just the same. Great beach/summer read. And the bonus is that there are marvelous recipes in the appendix.