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Summer Reading Reviews

4 stars for A Little Ray of Sunshine by Kristen Higgins

   “I love books set on Cape Cod – I spent many family vacations there as a child. Great characters, just enough intrigue to keep you guessing. Covered many serious subjects.” – Kathy Nyman

4 stars for Lost Connections by Johann Hari

   “There was lots of useful information about mental health, medication, and holistic alternatives. This book was hard to follow with all of the studies mentioned and the topics abruptly changed. There is practical information, however, on how we should tackle this world’s challenges. I liked that community and the importance of it was stressed.” – Emily Brown

4 stars for The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman

   “3rd book in the Thursday Murder Club series. Easy read and enjoyable.” – Mary Smith

5 stars for The Giver by Lois Lowry

   “It was very descriptive. The imagery when Jonas was experiencing feelings, colors, and physical things for the first time was amazing. I also love dystopian books in general.” – Madeline Brown

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Summer Reading Reviews

4 stars for Famous for a Living by Melissa Ferguson

   “This book definitely makes you think about all of the time people actually spend on social media and how it can impact your life in all kinds of ways (and even with those around you).” – Tina Bitler

5 stars for Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

   “This was such an emotional book. It reframes your perspective on how you live and how the choices you make carry over to all those around you. Terese had a choice to become like her parents or break generational trauma. She broke the cycle and made her hurt into something beautiful. Her story was inspiring because her life was a hot mess and she put in the effort to make things better so she could finally have peace.” – Emily Brown

4 stars for The Summer House by Jenny Hale

   “Great summer read!” – Carol Fitzsimmons

4 stars for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

   “Now what I expected, but well written with quite a twist at the end.” – Wendy Geroux

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All Together Now

Our Summer Reading raffle entries have ranked many books read by your friends and neighbors this summer. Soon we’ll be sharing the reviews people wrote on the back of their entries.

5 stars for The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley

5 stars for Unearthed by Alexandra Risen

5 stars for Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

5 stars for Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto

5 stars for Widow ebook by Carla Neggers

5 stars for Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

5 stars for I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

5 stars for The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe

5 stars for Your Brain Needs a Hug by Rae Earl

5 stars for Educated by Tara Westover

5 stars for Earth’s the Right Place for Love by Elizabeth Berg

5 stars for Missing Clarissa audiobook by Ripley Jones

5 stars for Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

5 stars for Happy Place audiobook by Emily Henry

5 stars for The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

5 stars for The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights by Kitty Zeldis

5 stars for Brain Damage ebook by Frieda McFadden

5 stars for Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

5 stars for A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris

5 stars for The Maid’s Diary ebook by Loreth Anne White

5 stars for The Summer House by Keri Beevis

5 stars for A Very Typical Family audiobook by Sierra Godfrey

5 stars for Never Lie ebook by Frieda McFadden

5 stars for Shattered by James Patterson

5 stars for Before They are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

5 stars for Teaching from Rest audiobook by Sarah Mackenzie

5 stars for Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

5 stars for The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

5 stars for Root Cellaring by Mike & Nancy Bubel

5 stars for Northeast Foraging by Leda Meredith

5 stars for I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

5 stars for Hidden Pictures audiobook by Jason Rekulak

5 stars for Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

5 stars for Fox Crossing by Melinda Metz

5 stars for The Apartment by Danielle Steel

5 stars for Divergent audiobook by Veronica Roth

5 stars for Allegiant audiobook by Veronica Roth

5 stars for The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

5 stars for Legacy by Nora Roberts

5 stars for Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

5 stars for Hideaway by Nora Roberts

5 stars for Alien Abnomaly ebook by Amanda Lee

5 stars for The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

5 stars for Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

5 stars for Last Argument of Kings audiobook by Joe Abercrombie

4 ½ stars for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

4 stars for The Silver Hand audiobook by Stephen Lawhead

4 stars for Pax audiobook by Sarah Pennpacker

4 stars for A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

4 stars for The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

4 stars for The Wager by David Grann

4 stars for Sycamore Row by John Grisham

4 stars for The Rising Tide audiobook by Ann Cleeves

4 stars for The Luck Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

4 stars for Summer Love by Nancy Thayer

4 stars for Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer

4 stars for Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer

4 stars for Midnight Confessions by Robyn Carr

4 stars for Luna by Ian McDonald

4 stars for The Fossil Hunter audiobook by Ted Cooper

3 stars for The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt

4 stars for The Last White Knight by Tami Hoag

3 stars for Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light by Helen Ellis

4 stars for Where are the Children Now audiobook by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

4 stars for The Cottages on Silver Beach by Rae Anne Thayne

4 stars for Riverbend Road by Rae Anne Thayne

4 stars for Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr

4 stars for Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka

3 stars for The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

3 stars for Without a Trace audiobook by Danielle Steel

4 stars for Forbidden Fruit by Erica Spindler

3 stars for The Souvenir Museum audiobook by Elizabeth McCracken

4 stars for Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber

3 stars for Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix

4 stars for Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

3 stars for It’s Not Summer without You by Jenny Han

4 stars for The Mother-in-Law audiobook by Sally Hepworth

3 stars for Keeping Chickens in Your Garden by Fred Hams

3 stars for We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

4 ½ stars for The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

3 stars for Lessons in Chemistry audiobook by Bonnie Garmus

4 stars for Home Body by Rupi Kaur

4 stars for Call Me a Cab by Donald Westlake

3 stars for Backyard Farming on an Acre by Angela England

4 stars for The Phantom Tree audiobook by Nicola Cornick

4 stars for Six Feet Deep Dish audiobook by Mindy Quigley

4 stars for Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

3 ½ stars for In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

4 stars for Desert Star audiobook by Michael Connelly

4 stars for The End of Forever by Steve Berry & M. J. Rose

2 stars for Tastes Like Shakkar by Nisha Sharma

3 stars for Dead Collections ebook by Isaac Fellman

4 stars for The Lost Castle audiobook by Kristy Cambron

4 stars for The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith

4 stars for Pie by Sarah Weeks

3 stars for My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson

4 stars for City Under One Roof audiobook by Iris Yamashita

4 stars for Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde

4 stars for The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key

4 stars for Someone Like You ebook by Marie Force

3 stars for Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride by Lorenzo Carcaterra

4 stars for The Forgotten Girls audiobook by Monica Potts

3 stars for A Most Agreeable Murder audiobook by Julia Seales

4 stars for 1776 by David McCullough

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Ukraine & Russia

The eyes of the world are all watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s leaving a number of us yearning to know more about the conflict, the history and politics involved, and the lives caught in the middle.

Each of the titles are linked to our catalog so that you can easily place holds from wherever you are. Simply click on the cover image to jump directly to our library’s catalog.

History of Ukraine

“As Ukraine is embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence, celebrated historian Serhii Plokhy explains that today’s crisis is a case of history repeating itself: the Ukrainian conflict is only the latest in a long history of turmoil over Ukraine’s sovereignty. Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine has been shaped by empires that exploited the nation as a strategic gateway between East and West – from the Romans and Ottomans to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. In The Gates of Europe, Plokhy examines Ukraine’s search for its identity through the lives of major Ukrainian historical figures, from its heroes to its conquerors.

This revised edition includes new material that brings this definitive history up to the present. As Ukraine once again finds itself at the center of global attention, Plokhy brings its history to vivid life as he connects the nation’s past with its present and future.”

-From Amazon.com Go to Goodreads

“In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization – in effect a second Russian revolution – which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.

Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.”

-From amazon.com Go to Goodreads

Download a copy of Ukraine: a Book of Essays by Intellectuals in English by visiting ukraineworld.org This title was recommended in the Book Riot post linked above and features a “collection of texts by contemporary Ukrainian intellectuals: writers, historians, philosophers, political analysts, opinion leaders. The texts have been written for an international audience. The collection combines reflections on Ukraine’s history (or histories, in plural), and analysis of the present, conceptual ideas and life stories. The book presents a multi-faceted image of Ukrainian memory and reality: from the Holodomor to Maidan, from Russian aggression to cultural diversity, from the depth of the past to the complexity of the present.

It contains 16 texts: essays and interviews. The authors of the collection are Serhii Plokhy, Andriy Kurkov, Ola Hnatiuk, Irena Karpa, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Yuri Andrukovych, Larysa Denysenko, Vakhtang Kebuladze, Andriy Portnov, Haska Shyyan, Hanna Shelest, Volodymyr Rafeenko, Volodymyr Yermolenko, Alim Aliev, Leonid Finberg, Andrij Bondar.

It is edited by Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher and writer, UkraineWorld’s editor in chief and director for analytics at Internews Ukraine.”

-From ukraineworld.org

Please note – the version available within the System is not the most up-to-date edition of this title.

“As in many postcommunist states, politices in Ukraine revolves around the issue of national identity. Ukrainian nationalists see themselves as one of the world’s oldest and most civilized peoples, as ‘older brothers’ to the younger Russian culture. Yet Ukraine became independent only in 1991, and Ukrainians often feel like a minority in their own county, where Russian is still the main language heard on the streets of the capital, Kiev. This book is a comprehensive guide to modern Ukraine and to the versions of its past propagated by both Russians and Ukrainians. Andrew Wilson provides the most acute, informed … account available of the Ukrainians and their country

Concentrating on the complex relation between Ukraine and Russia, the book begins with the myth of common origin in the early medieval era, then looks closely at the Ukrainian experience under the tsars and Soviets, the experience of minorities in the country, and the path to independence in 1991. Wilson also considers the history of Ukraine since 1991 and the continuing disputes over identity, culture, and religion. He examines the economic collapse under the first president, Leonid Kravchuk, and the attempts at recovery under his successor, Leonid Kuchma. Wilson explores the conflicts in Ukrainian society between the country’s Eurasian roots and its Western aspirations, as well as the significance of the presidential election of November 1999.”

-From amazon.com Go to Goodreads

“On the morning of April 26, 1986, Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine. Dozens died of radiation poisoning, fallout contaminated half the continent, and thousands fell ill.

In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy draws on new sources to tell the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, and soldiers who heroically extinguished the nuclear inferno. He lays bare the flaws of the Soviet nuclear industry, tracing the disaster to the authoritarian character of the Communist party rule, the regime’s control over scientific information, and its emphasis on economic development over all else.”

-From goodreads.com Go to Goodreads

“April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.”

-From goodreads.com

https://flowermemoriallibrary.org/ashleys-top-picks-current-events/ for all of the above titles plus those on the history of Russia.

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Booktalking Sweet on You

Coffee shops, Christmas, romance… sign me up! The new romance series by Filipino writer Carla de Guzman continues her exploration of her favorite tropes, places, and food. A war is on when the cute baker next door begins offering cheap coffee and continues with pranks and cheap tactics. Will Sari be able to top him and keep everyone in her cafe or will Gabriel win out, but lose his heart?

Nick on Goodreads said Sweet on You “excels at exploring all the family relationships. Sari and her sisters have a lovely bond and their love for each other shines through. Gabriel’s relationship with his family is a little more complicated as there are lies involved, but the nuances were tackled very well. Then, there’s the setting. This isn’t my first book set in the Philippines, but it still felt like such a fresh look into the part of the country. I love how the community was a living and breathing part of Sweet on You. I did feel like the book lost a bit of steam towards the end, but I wouldn’t say it took away from my enjoyment. All in all, Sweet on You was fun, fluffy, and romantic – what more can I ask of a Christmas romance?”

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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Ryland Grace wakes up in a spaceship light years from Earth. The problem is he doesn’t remember who he is or what he’s supposed to do. But whatever it is, it must be important, or he wouldn’t have been sent on this mission with two other astronauts. Unfortunately, neither of them survived the journey, so he is all alone. And he is Earth’s last hope for survival. — Yun on Goodreads

This is a very readable science fiction book and a wonderful introduction, similar to his hit The Martian, for people new to the genre. The science is extremely believable; the time period is only a little in the future; and the interest and conflicts are continuous. It is intriguing while also being easy to grasp. You can stop any time you like having enjoyed a great read… or you can continue to the end with new challenges and hurdles Grace must overcome never more than a chapter away!

Get outside of yourself and into the universe!