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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.

women

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Author: Maggie O'Farrell

This fast read leaves you with lots of food for thought. It has several mysteries running simultaneously. During parts of the book, the author uses a very interesting writing style in which she injects fragments of thought and/or action from the perspectives of different characters which also cover different periods in time. Don't let this put you off! Just keep reading and it will all come together!

Esme is the main character who is institutionalized for over sixty years. (She has been disrespected in a series of ways. First and foremost is that the administration in the asylum will not call her by the name that she goes by, Esme.) The psychiatric unit is closing down and a great niece named Iris finds out about Esme. She never knew about her great aunt before! Iris goes to meet Esme and feels responsible for her future. Iris feels connected to Esme on some level that she doesn't understand. She knows they are related but it goes deeper than that.

Esme and Iris have had a series of dysfunctional experiences and they intersect at the end over a horrifying realization.

I was especially put off by how men treated women in this book. Also, how the women were not familiar with their own sexuality. When you are done reading you are left wondering, was Esme sane or insane?

Good one!!!

(For some reason reminded me of THE DINNER, by Herman Koch.)

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Author: Julie Kibler

Isabelle and Dorrie are unlikely friends.Dorrie is Isabelle's hairdresser but she is only in her thirties and Isabelle is 89. Also, Isabelle is Caucasian and Dorrie is African-American. When Isabelle suddenly needs help she requests that Dorrie drive her from Texas to Ohio for a funeral. Whose funeral? Why Dorrie? All is revealed through the conversations and incidents that are shared in their car journey together. This a lovely tale of friendship and changes in the times. Dorrie is a gift to Isabelle and Isabelle is a gift to Dorrie. The ending is poignant and wonderful--LOVED IT! I am recommending this to my patrons who loved THE HELP.

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Author: Rachel Held Evans

The popular blogger has written another book, this one a documentation of her year of trying to live according to “biblical womanhood”. First, this book is not a theology book. If you want an in-depth discussion of the various issues about women in the Bible, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Second, Evans tries to take an even hand toward the issues she chooses to tackle, but her bias towards a more “liberal” position is evident. That’s OK, but you need to know that it’s there. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. Evans chooses 12 different attitudes that women are to embody to explore each month. Within that month, she delves into more practical things. We get to laugh at her attempts to sew and make challah as well as scratch our heads about the ancient Israelite rules regarding menstruating women. When she gets serious about interpreting scripture, she is charitable towards those with whom she disagrees. Overall, a very good book. A

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Author: Susan Vreeland

This novel was amazing. Susan takes the true story of Mr. Tiffany's glass and designer Clara Driscoll and embellishes it into a mesmerizing tale of a difficult and prolific relationship. Louis Tiffany and Clara Driscoll are products of their time and circumstances. They both love nature and they both appreciate beauty and art. They are both perfectionists and enjoy design and crafting. They are employer and employee and sometimes collaborators. How Clara achieves credit and attention in her own right is amazing. Mr. Tiffany, suffering from depression and malaise, is hard to read. His whims are unpredictable and his ego his huge (yet he is always in the shadow of his father, Charles Tiffany who began the jewelry industry). Louis has had wealth all his life so he can be capricious in his hobbies. The people working with and for Clara are from a different class where they are struggling for labor rights. And Clara is constantly deemed "less" because she is a woman. Susan takes the time, too, to really explain the creative process behind the Tiffany lamps and the Tiffany windows. I just adore learning about muses!

Originally posted in: APL Picks

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Author: Khaled Hosseini

I just read this book for the second time -- this time for book club -- and I loved it even more than before! I think this time (because I knew it ended in a good way), I was able to focus a little more on individual character's actions and motivations. This book is heart-wrenching; it will make you cringe and it may make you cry ---- but the courage and strength displayed by both Mariam and Laila is truly inspiring and makes me feel very blessed to have been born in the US.

Pen Pals

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Title: Pen Pals
Author: Olivia Goldsmith

I have been a huge Olivia Goldsmith fan since 'First Wives Club'. This book was well written with strong characters. Jennifer is imprisoned because of a corporate crime that she did participate in. However, she was also set up as the fall gal. Through her time in prison she begins to learn respect for the other prisoners and realizes that conditions need to be improved in the prison. Using her financial savvy and her connections in the outside world she is able to turn the prison around. The prison warden is going through a midlife crisis and by teaming up with Jennifer they make positive change. Also, Goldsmith loves the exacting of revenge so there is a fair share of that, too, on the people(male) who set Jennifer up. There is one helpful, sensitive male--thank goodness--for relief. This book contains many subplots. But what I really liked was how many details I learned about actual prison life. Wow, it is an extremely difficult place to spend time emotionally. (I feel compelled to do something about prison reform myself after reading this book even though it was fiction.) I liked the title's play on words! I had no idea that the book was going to be about prison.

Author: Nancy Wall

Ms. Wall recalls how she fell in love and married a Syrian man, moved to the Middle East, gave birth to a son and daughter, then fled for safety to the United States with her two children. You won't be able to put this book down due to the heart-breaking suspense.

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Author: Cheryl Jarvis

I adored this quick read about thirteen women who purchase a diamond necklace together and treat it as a timeshare. We each come from a different experience and our feelings about materialism & wealth & sharing & communal property differ. Friendship supersedes all that and that becomes the greatest lesson of all for these women. They can be friends despite different belief systems and motivations and even political affiliations! Yippee!! The strength is in our friends!

Princess

Author: Jean Sasson

A memoir in the sense that Sultana (a code name) is the Princess who told her story. It was written and published by someone else to protect the Princess and her children.

Sultana is member of the Saudi royal family, so she is privileged compared to most women living in Saudi Arabia—but as with any other woman, she has no right to go anywhere without a man to escort her, she can be killed by her male family members for small infractions, she can’t vote or control her own life. This description of the world behind the veil is interesting but sometimes shocking. The contrast between the riches—multiple palaces (rich men usually have 4 wives, each with their own richly furnished main palace plus vacation palaces), unlimited money to spend on clothing and jewels, and how the servants and lower classes live is immense.

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Good Things

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Author: Mia King

This is a good title for a Young Adult or an Adult. This was a good book. It was a fast read and I liked how the protagonist overcame so many hurdles because of her creativity, openness to new ideas, and general positive attitude. I like how the author incorporates a reverence for nature in her books. And I am a sucker for a good love story and a happy ending...