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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.

Survival

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Author: Jon Krakauer

Every once in a while, I like a real, true adventure story.  Into Thin Air is exactly that- a story of survival in the highest place on earth- Mt. Everest.  I had no former knowledge of mountain climbing or the troubles with traveling to higher altitudes.  It was all fascinating to me.  I will admit that there are so many names (many of them foreign) and locations and climbing terms that I often had trouble knowing exactly what was going on.  That did not stop me from reading and enjoying the book, though!  The book is written by one of the climbers of an expedition that went up Everest in 1996.  His job was to go as a writer and document the many aspects of climbing this mountain 5.5 miles into the sky.  Climbing Everest is very dangerous and this expedition became not just a quest to the top, but a quest to survive.  I don't want to add any spoilers, so I will leave it at that.  If you like true stories of adventure this would be a great pick. 

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Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves

I rated this book 5 stars.  I am not a fan of chick-lit, but I was drawn to this book.  It definitely is not your typical chick-lit, romance, fall in love happily every after.

Anna Emerson, an English teacher, is on summer break, and decides to take a "summer job".  Tutoring soon to be seventeen T.J. Callahan, who is remission from cancer, it seems to be a dream job.  Her work will take her to one of twelve hundred paradise islands of Maldive in the Indian Ocean.  Only her dream job crashes, literally, when their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, and they crash in the shark infested waters.  Their survival, after drifting to an uninhabited island, is dependent on working together for the basic necessities of life.  As the hopes of being rescued diminishes, and the weeks turning into months, Anna fights an internal battle.

I was inspired by this book to research the Maldive Islands, and it truly is a paradise.

I enjoyed this book. The characters and the story line was believable. It was a page turner, and I was anxious to finish to see how things turned out. I thought this was going to be a light read, but the unusual story had an unexpected depth to it that I enjoyed. A deviation from "the norm", and offered some out of the box thinking.

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Author: Maryann Macdonald

A book worthy of 10 stars.  An exceptional work.

This is a work of fiction, based on the real life of Odette Meyers. Facts are taken from Odette's autobiography, Doors to Madame Marie, and from the author's visits to the the places of Odette's childhood.

Odette is a Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II.  Her mother, in order to save her life, sneaks her into the French countryside, where young Odette must pose at a Christian.

I absolutely loved this book. Written in a lyrical prose that draws you in immediately. From the perspective of Odette, an 8 year old Jewish girl, it is poignant portrait of how things were for Jewish children in Paris. I can't begin to imagine what it was like, but the author, with her words, paints us a visual picture not only into the countryside, but into the heart and mind of a child in the throes of a horrific war, not fully understood by Odette, but knowing she has to keep "secrets".

This is a book that young children can read and comprehend, making sure that there is adult time to talk about the issues after the book is read. Abandonment is real to children, and Odette talks about it in this book, and addresses it with her child mind.

Even though this is may be a touchy subject for children to deal with, it is addressed in a sensitive and positive manner by the author with a message of hope.

I highly recommend this book.

Lily's Daughter

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Author: Susan Gerstein

This is a gripping story of Gerstein's childhood during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, of huddling in a coal basement with the neighbors while bombs dropped overhead, and not know what was going to happen next.  Throughout all the horror, there are also tales of heroism, including a tenant who ran to the front to find a doctor for a seriously ill Susan, who nearly succumed to pneumonia, and would have, if not for the bravery of that man.  Written from the viewpoint of young Susan, who was born in 1940, the book is hard to put down.  It's one thing to read the story in a history book, it's quite another to feel what Susan felt as she huddled in that coal basement for months, waiting to die, and knowing that her grandparents were probably already dead, despite the adults trying to soothe her worries.  I highly recommend this book.  It's a treasure.

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Author: Immacul'ee Ilibagiza

This is a riveting account of one woman's struggle to to survive during an horrific time in the history of Rwanda. She portrays the inhumanity that friends and neighbors can inflict upon their fellow countrymen because of the rhetoric their leaders inundate them with. The reader gets a new meaning of the word prejudice and how it is perpetuated on members of the same race to obtain a goal of extermination to achieve a particular goal. The reader will see how the author uses her faith to endure and overcome the horrors and challenges that she faces every day. An overall excellent account of the genocide in Rwanda and how she was able to survive and overcome an absolute no win situation. A must read to understand mans inhumanity to fellow men and the role faith can play in survival.

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Author: Tracey Garvis Graves

I loved this book.  Anna and T.J.'s plane crashes on an island and they are assumed to be dead.  The thirty-year-old teacher and six-teen year-old boy must fight for their survival.  They battle storms, thirst, sharks, hungar, sickness and slowly fall in love.  Anna tries to keep her relationship with T.J. professional but after many months of being stuck on the island she finds herself with a man and not a boy anymore the two of them find that they need each other to survive.  The story is just as good after they are rescued and must try to fit  back into the real world.

Book Features:

Survival

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Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Lily Owens is a survivor, pure and simple.  A tragic accident takes away her mother at a very young age, and she has born the brunt of blame for her death, even though she was only 4 at the time.  Left with a hugely abusive father, Lily's only love was given to her by their housekeeper, Rosalee,  an African American  who truly cares for the child and tries as hard as possible to protect her from her father.  He greatly enjoys physically abusing her, making her kneel for hours on grits, which leaves her knees bruised and painful.  Set in the 1960's, the book follows the Civil Rights Movement and Rosalee's struggle for equality.  Lily walks into town with Rosalee after President Johnson gives her the right to vote, and they are met with 3 white and supremely prejudiced men who make sure that Rosalee will never make it to the registration center.  When she lands in jail for spitting on their shoes, it is Lily who finds a way to get her out and in the process get away from her father.  The title is derived from Lily's attraction to bees, which swarm her bedroom at night.  Her father never believes this happens, and when she insists, she is whipped.

The book is an engaging tale of love, loss, abuse, survival, and civil rights.  You will fall in love with Lily and Rosalee, for whom skin has no color.

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Author: Richard Logan

This is the true story of the life of Tere Duperrault Fassbender and her survival at sea for four days after her family was killed on a ship in the ocean in 1961.  I was particularly interested in the book because Tere now lives in my small town and spent a large portion of her life in the nearby Green Bay area.  Their were many references to Northeast Wisconsin so that made it a little more interesting for me.  What this little girl went through was horrific, but the book had a way of watering it down some so it didn't seem gorry or gross.  I like how the author explained the story from many different angles- first seeing what happened to the man who killed her family and then to Tere's perspective and life.  It didn't just stop at her childhood- it goes on to the present to explain how this has effected her still today.  It is an inspirational book because we can catch a glimpse on how she overcame such difficult hardships in her life. 

Delightful!

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Author: Alexander McCall Smith

I am in love with the character of Mma Ramotswe who runs the detective agency in Botswana in this series. She is smart, compassionate, ambitious, and thorough in her investigations. Her cases are very interesting, too. I like how we learn about Africa and African customs and lifestyle through the story. But also, we see how all human nature embodies the same motivations and contentments. Very good. Can't wait to read another.

(the made for HBO shows are outstanding)

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Author: Ricard D. Logan

Tere Duperrault was an 11-year-old on a rented sailboat off the coast of Florida when tragedy struck. Julian Harvey, the Captain of the ship, murdered her father, mother, sister, and brother. Tere managed to escape on a small cork raft and was adrift for four days before being rescued. Julian Harvey was a narcissistic sociopath who collected insurance more than once. The book recounts the lives of the Dupperault family, Tere’s harrowing ordeal, the investigation into the murder, and Harvey’s mindset. With the help of her co-author, a renowned psychological and survival expert, Tere took a truth serum, and recounts this harrowing story of tragedy and inspiration. Engrossing read.