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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.

A Book Blog Farewell

In consultation with the primary staff reviewers, we have decided to discontinue the InfoSoup reading blogs. Since 2008, InfoSoup users and staff have posted over 3000 reviews to Books to Hoot About!, the book blog, & Books R Us. It has been a fun ride, but now seems the right time to bring the blogs to an end.

We would like to thank all the users who participated in our reading challenge in 2013 and 2014, all the kids and teens who posted summer library program reviews, and the InfoSoup library staff who gave their time and shared their insight.

We will keep the reviews up for the rest of the year and, relaunch the site in in the new year with more of a focus on booklists and other resources for readers.

Thanks, and happy reading!


Audiobook Review
Title: Peony
Author: Pearl Buck

Another very good book by this author. Slow starter, but it finishes strong.

Audiobook Review
Author: Mary Kubica

This was a good book, but took awhile for me to get into the meat of the story. Had a great twist at the end.

Title: Valhalla
Author: Robert Mrazek

Vikings, Norse mythology and world domination come together in this suspenseful novel.  This first novel in a new series was fast paced.  The characters were compelling and interesting.  But the storyline really intrigued me -- Archaelogy under the Greenland icecap. The twists and turns on Vikings, secret religions, and conspiracies that the author led us through were great.  I couldn't figure out the end and was surprised at the conclusion.  It should be interesting to see what these characters will be up to in the next book of the series.

Author: Donalyn Miller

All reading and language arts teachers will appreciate this book on the importance of giving students reading time and reading choices. Those who've been in education for awhile will find it very similar to Nancy Atwell's reader's workshop approach for the 90s. There may be nothing new here, but for teachers who value reading above all else, this book is an affirmation of what we're doing right.

Title: Cooked
Author: Michael Pollan

Pollan becomes an apprentice barbecuer, chef, baker, brewer, and cheesemaker in this story of his use of fire, water, air, and earth to master the earliest of cooking skills. His adventures with Southern barbecue masters and their recipes for the best barbecue make for the most entertaining part of the book, but the accounts of the time he spends with bakers and fermenters learning their crafts are also fascinating. Readers may never find the time or energy needed to devote to baking bread from scratch (no store-bought yeast here!) or brewing beer, but learning the intricacies of these culinary arts will lead to an appreciation of the skill involved and the ingenuity of our ancestors who discovered these edible wonders. 

Author: Edward Dolnick

Those interested in the history of scientific discovery and the great men competing to prove their theories of the workings of the universe will enjoy this book. It highlights the 17th century, when The Royal Society of London brought many great thinkers together to explore, experiment, and present their findings. As much quackery and hocus pocus as sciene, the society nonetheless promoted men of science who uncovered many mysteries of the universe. In addition to the explanation of such concepts as calculus and the theory of gravity, the author tells lively stories of temperamental scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and his nemesis Wilhelm Von Leibniz, who both claimed to have invented calculus. The unique and often obnoxious personalities of all of the scientists make for entertaining reading. As these scientists struggle to rationalize the contradiction of scientific theories and steadfastly held religious beliefs, the modern world emerges.

Audiobook Review
Author: David Grann

The author, fascinated with Colonel Percy Fawcett, a British explorer obsessed with finding a lost civilization in the Amazon forest, sets off on his own quest to solve the mystery of the explorer who never returned. The book gives a detailed account of Fawcett's life up until his disappearance on his last trip into the Brazilian wild, as well as the stories of other explorers who tried to solve the mystery of what happened to Fawcett, his son, and nephew. Fawcett, until his last journey, seemed invincible, able to survive conditions many others had succumbed to. The exploits of many 19th and early 20th century explorers and their bold attempts to find Eldorado are described as well. Readers interested in exploration and the Amazon region will enjoy this story.

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

I give this one 4 stars!   This is historical fiction following a family of Botonists begining with trade in medicinal herbs.  This business was quite lucerative and the successful not only located the valuable herbs, but then determined how the valuable plants might be grown in a more convienient location, on the property of the trader.  The Whittaker family leaves europe for opportunities in the new world.  They are unconventional and are not bothered by the dictates of  society.   They rather surround themselves with learned individuals of fame and conduct debate at the dinner table.   Growing up in this atmosphere, the main character, Alma Whittaker becomes a precousious child and a famous botonist in her own right.   Her physical characteristics do not draw suiters to her door and she is resigned to this fact of life.  This does not exclude her from love, or sex, but her love life is frought with problems.

  Her story touches on Darwin's discovery of evolution, but was he really the first?  She becomes involved with two very unusual men  After her fathers death, she spends years  in Tahiti.   The story comes full circle when she returns, late in life to find the family her parents left behind in europe.  I found this book to be well written and also had  an unusual and  entertaining story as well as characters.   I reccommend this to adult fans of historical fiction.

Author: Jeffrey Zaslow

For the author to Interview ten women friends regarding a 40-year friendship was an unique idea for a book, so I was curious to read it. Staying in touch for that length of time must have been very difficult for the group; especially since they lived in different states. This is a good story of having lots of fun, being there for friends, keeping secrets and also forgiving each other for hurts inflicted on one another.  

The book shows how women can influence one another to find and meet their goals and to help friends through their sorrow and pain in life. It also shows how family and work have drastically changed throughout the generations. Even when these women were girls in school, kids were at times very mean.  Today it is much worse. People from the Midwest (Iowa) generally have pretty good values.  Therefore, they stay out of trouble and live happier lives. This book shows us how to celebrate and treasure the good times with friends and relatives and give comfort to those who are suffering.  Be a good friend.

Title: White Fire
Author: Douglas Preston

FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast is back in another thrilller from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Pendergast is back to being eccentric, odd, brilliant, still doesn't like rules, but gets results. Our man in the black suit works his magic to find answers to an number of questions. His actions and thoughts take on Sherlock Holmes' attributes. I enjoyed how Sherlock was integrated into this story.  Corrie Swanson, Pendergast's protege, is determined to find information for her thesis.  She has been written as an intelligent girl who does not think through the problem before she acts.  It was irritating at times.  But throughly entertaining.  A great mystery thriller with a few twists.  Enjoy the read.