Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Find in catalogThis novel takes place in Communist China and describes life during and after the Cultural revolution. It follows a family of musicians and story tellers during a time when books and music were closely scrutinized along with all cultural traditions and values. Fathers and mothers were told what their jobs would be and where they would work and live, sometimes separating family members by miles for years. A time when being an intellectual, talented or elite was dangerous. The party dictated your life and sought to dictate your thoughts. I believe the author did a very good job of creating characters going through these historical and turbulent times, making history more personal.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Find in cataloAngels and Demons takes place in Rome, Italy, and the Vatican City. This book was written before his better known Da Vinci Code, and it too is a page turner. Along with the action, there is some thoughtful discussion about Science vs Religion, including some ideas that knowedge of science can lead us to a belief in God through the appreciation of His creation. All that aside, the professor of symbology is racing against the clock and a murderer to solve the puzzles presented and save peoples lives. Best of all, this paperback book was on the Friends of the Library take and return shelf, which meant I didn’t have to check it out and could read it and return it when it suited my schedule. Happy Summer Reading!

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Find in catalogBritt-Marie Was Here was a fun read. It takes place in present-day England. The main character, Britt-Marie, is 63 years old and sets out to find a job after being a homemaker for most of her adult life. She is a bit of an odd, yet appealing, character. As the narrative draws the reader into her world you can’t help but be hopeful, for Britt-Marie in her small and peculiar ways is making a difference. At first it is by making the world around her a cleaner place. Later she improves the lives of the people in the small, economically depressed town in which she finds her job. I found this book on the lucky day rack and I recommend you place a hold on the on-line system if you can’t find a copy on the shelf. It will be worth your wait. Enjoy!

Hornblower and the Atropos by C. S. Forester

Find in catalogI picked up this book on one of the “Read and Return” racks at the Eugene Public Library. It is #4 in the Hornblower saga. Horatio is now a captain and is given the Atropos, a lively frigate to command. Horatio lives up to his reputation as a swashbuckler and saves the day more than once with his intelligence and daring yet calculated decisions. He is ever observant of those around him and his situation and more than a little self-critical, making him quite human and an appealing character. He is one of those who becomes a hero because the choice is to either try to succeed or suffer the consequences of in-action. A good adventure and escape to another place and time. Happy reading!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Find in catalog“All the Light We Cannot See” is a very thoughtfully written book. It takes place before, during and after World War II. The main protagonists are a blind french girl and a German boy. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, which in this case makes the difficult scenes of the war-time period easier to bear. It tells the experiences of these two separate lives and the brief time when their lives intersect. There is beauty and grace but also the grimness of the war period. Though the book is thick, it is not a long read as much of the prose is dialogue, and the chapters switch from the girl’s story line to the boy’s. I hope you will pick up this book at the library and enjoy reading it.

The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett

Find in catalogI enjoyed reading the Maltese Falcon which the library gave to patrons for free! I was in a remote area and the power went out so I was reading it by candle light. I had seen the movie years ago and that night while reading, I heard the voices of the actors of the movie while I read. I left the book at the retreat and the next person to read the book was my aunt who had not read an entire book for years. She enjoyed the story line and savored reading it. Maybe she will get back into reading books! We both are grateful to our library for generously providing this book to us.

The Tigress of Forli, by Elizabeth Lev

Find in catalogI am learning about Renaissance Italy and discovered a great book: the Tigress of Forli. This is not a historical fiction, but a well written history of Catherine Riario, Sforza, Di’ Medici. What a fascinating character living in very interesting times! She was a brave woman who knew her own mind. She had armor built and fought along side her soldiers to defend her castle! Just my kind of gal. If you are a student of Italian history or interested in the life of women in the Renaissance era, I recommend this book.

The Executor’s Guide, by Mary Randolph

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Dealing with a loved one’s estate is never easy. Mary Randolph of Nolo Press has written “The Executor’s Guide” which provides clear explanations about how to proceed. While it is not a fun read, it is very helpful to have guidance. Whether or not you choose to get the assistance of a lawyer, it is empowering to understand the process. The appendix provides information on state rules and references websites with helpful documents and more information. Even if you are not dealing with a loved one’s estate, I recommend this book as you write your own will. You can make choices while you are still living to save your loved ones worry and work in the future when they act as your executor.

In Other Words, by Jhumpa Lahiri

Find in catalog If you are a passionate student of Italian Language as I am, you will enjoy reading “In Other Words”. It is a dual language book, written in Italian on the left side and English on the right. In this book she shares her desire to immerse herself in the Italian language. She achieves her dream by moving her family to live in Rome. While this is not Lahiri’s best literary work, it is a treat for students of the Italian language who share her passion for the language to share in her journey.

Italian Ways by Tim Parks

Italian WaysWhile this book is not as engaging as his “Italian Neighbors”, it does offer interesting perspective on Italian life and culture through it’s railways. I’ve always enjoyed train travel, and so reading about the people he meets on the trains in Italy is enjoyable. Unfortunately his writing makes train travel in Italy seem less pleasant than I had imagined it might be. He points out changes to historic railway stations making them more like shopping malls. This is not a novel, but more a collection of essays and observations made during his frequent travels by train. I enjoyed it but would only recommend it to someone keenly interested in present day Italian culture.

Reviewed by Marcia