15. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Classics, History, Rachel, Teen Books

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, read by Rachel, on 01/15/2014

Anne Frank, June 1929 – March 1945 Anneliesse Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. She was the second daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. Anne’s father was a factory worker, who moved his family to Amsterdam in 1933 to escape the Nazi’s. There he opened up a branch of his uncle’s company and Anne and her sister Margot resumed a normal life, attending a Montessori School in Amsterdam.

The Germans attacked the Netherlands in 1940 and took control, issuing anti-Jewish decrees, and forcing the Frank sisters into a Jewish Lyceum instead of their old school. Their father Otto decided to find a place for the family to hide should the time come that the Nazi’s came to take them to a concentration camp. He chose the annex above his offices and found some trustworthy friends among his fellow workers to supply the family with food and news. On July 5, 1942, Margot received a “call up” to serve in the Nazi “work camp.” The next day, the family escaped to the annex, welcoming another family, the van Pels, which consisted of Hermann and Auguste van Pels and their son Peter. Fritz Pfeffer also came to stay with them, causing the count to come to eight people hiding in the annex.

Anne, Margot and Peter continued their studies under the tutelage of Otto, and all of the captives found ways to entertain themselves for the long years they remained hidden. On August 4, 1944, four Dutch Nazis came to arrest the eight, having discovered their hiding place through an informant. Anne’s diary was left behind and found later by one of the family’s friends. The eight were taken to prison in Amsterdam and then deported to Westerbork before being shipped to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, the men were separated from the women and Hermann van Pels was immediately gassed. Fritz Pfeffer died at Neuenganme in 1944.

Anne, Margot and Mrs. van Pels were taken to Bergen-Belson, leaving behind Anne’s mother, Edith, who died at Auschwitz of starvation and exhaustion in 1945. At Bergen-Belson, Anne and Margot contracted typhus and died of the disease in March of 1945. Anne was 15 and Margot was 17. The exact date and the place they were buried is unknown. Otto Frank was the only one of the original group of eight who were hidden in the annex to survive. He was left for dead at Auschwitz when the Russian Army came to liberate the camp. It is due to him that Anne’s diary was published and became the success it is.

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, History, Memoirs, NonFiction, Pamela

I, Toto by Willard Carroll, read by Pamela, on 11/27/2013

I totoDuring the expansion of the Ventura Freeway in Los Angeles, Willard Carroll unearthed a leatherbound scrapbook from a site that was once a pet cemetery. To his amazement, its yellowing pages contained the rags-to-riches story of Terry, the cairn terrier who played Toto in the enduring film The Wizard of Oz. Reprinted here in its entirety, I, Toto traces the canine star’s tragic beginnings, her exhilarating film career, and her happy retirement in Southern California. Best of all, it offers the inside scoop on Toto’s signature role, her costars, and the making of The Wizard of Oz.

There are also some endearing passages about Terry’s (a.k.a. Toto) interaction with Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, and Spencer Tracy.  A book written from a dog’s point of view is not unique, but from this famous dog’s point of view it is unique.

Children and adults alike will like this book.  There are plenty of pictures to entertain the young ones while an adult reads the story.  It’s a very quick read and packed with lots of entertainment about a very special little dog.

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Judy, NonFiction

The Ear in the Heart by Richard DeNent and Dolores Hart, read by Judy , on 11/16/2013

The Ear of the HeartActress Dolores Hart’s journey from Hollywood starlet to taking vows as a nun. The book takes you through the early years of Hollywood and Dolores’ decision to join a cloistered convent. Since I was a fan of Dolores from her films with Elvis Presley and knowing she left Hollywood to become a nun, I found the book quite interesting.  The book does provide a deep insight into her difficulty leaving a glamorous lifestyle, a career she loved, and a marriage engagement to the ultimate decision to join a life of prayer.

For a short time she was at the Carmelite Sister’s House in Jefferson City, Missouri, and was recently featured in an article in the Catholic Missourian.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tracy

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt, read by Tracy, on 11/24/2013

In this memoir, iconic singer Linda Ronstadt weaves together a captivating story of her origins in Tucson, Arizona, and her rise to stardom in the Southern California music scene of the 1960s and ’70s.

Born into a musical family, Linda’s childhood was filled with everything from Hank Williams to Gilbert and Sullivan, Mexican folk music to jazz and opera. Her artistic curiosity blossomed early, and she and her siblings began performing their own music for anyone who would listen. Now, twelve Grammy Awards later, Ronstadt tells the story of her wide-ranging and utterly unique musical journey.

Ronstadt arrived in Los Angeles just as the folk-rock movement was beginning to bloom, setting the stage for the development of country-rock. After the dissolution of her first band, the Stone Poneys, Linda went out on her own and quickly found success. As part of the coterie of like-minded artists who played at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, she helped define the musical style that dominated American music in the 1970s. One of her early back-up bands went on to become the Eagles, and Linda would become the most successful female artist of the decade. She has sold more than 100 million records, won numerous awards, and toured all over the world. Linda has collaborated with legends such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, J.D. Souther, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Bette Midler, and Frank Sinatra, as well as Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog. By the time she retired in 2009, Ronstadt had spent four decades as one of the most popular singers in the world, becoming the first female artist in popular music to release four consecutive platinum albums.

In Simple Dreams, Ronstadt reveals the eclectic and fascinating journey that led to her long-lasting success. And she describes it all in a voice as beautiful as the one that sang “Heart Like a Wheel”—longing, graceful, and authentic.

21. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White, read by Angie, on 11/20/2013

This short book was very entertaining to listen too. Betty White narrates the audiobook herself and is as funny as ever. She talks about a lot of things from her career to her love of pets to the people she has met. All stories are told with humor and the Betty White whit. It does seem a little random the way she jumps from topic to topic, but it is Betty White so all is forgiven.

18. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction, Sarah

Fakebook by Dave Cicerelli, read by Sarah , on 11/16/2013

Ever feel like you life is in a rut?  Wonder what it would be like to quit your job and start hiking across America?  Dave Cicirelli does just that, on his facebook profile.  Only a few people know the truth, he is still employed and has not “travelled” anywhere!  This book is good fun for the facebook addict.  Dave plays on people’s emotions and gets real responses to each of his updates.  Some people applaud him and others cajol and reprimand him.  This experiment to see what would happen if he made everyone believe he had jumped off of the deep end, takes over his life for about 6 months.  He discovers through this process that his previous perception of facebook aka fakebook, may be a little off.

This was a great read complete with fakebook updates and pictures to fill out the story.  It has some strong language at times, but it doesn’t detract from the story.

16. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags: ,

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson, read by Angie, on 11/14/2013

I couldn’t put this book down; I didn’t want to put it down. Leon Leyson captured my attention and held it throughout his entire story. We learn a lot about the Holocaust and what happened during those years, but I haven’t ever really read an autobiography about it. Leon Leyson was just a young boy when Germany invaded Poland. He and his family lived in Krakow and quickly began to feel the effects of the Nazi machine. Because his father had a job, most of his family was protected, but they were never really safe. His father worked for Oskar Schindler at his enamel factor and was one of the first on “the list”. Leon, his mother and his brother David also had their names added to the list. Unfortunately, two of his brothers did not; one fled to the country and one was rounded up during one of the ghetto cleansings. His sister worked for another factory and was protected until the end. Being on Schindler’s list did not necessarily mean full protection however. The family was still subjected to the ghetto and the guards who terrorized it. They were also all sent to concentration camps during the move from Krakow to Brunnlitz. This is a very compelling story of one family’s survival during the atrocities of WWII. Leon didn’t die horribly like so many others during that time. He survived, moved to America and became a teacher. It wasn’t until the release of Schindler’s List that he started to speak about his experiences. Leon Leyson was the youngest person on the list, but he was not the only one. Oskar Schindler’s bravery and dedication to saving his Jews was amazing. Reading this book made me want to learn more about Schindler (beyond what I remember from the movie!).

20. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Tracy

Wild tales : a rock & roll life by Graham Nash, read by Tracy, on 10/08/2013

From Graham Nash–the legendary musician and founding member of the iconic bands Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Hollies–comes a candid and riveting autobiography that belongs on the reading list of every classic rock fan.
Graham Nash’s songs defined a generation and helped shape the history of rock and roll–he’s written over 200 songs, including such classic hits as “Carrie Anne,” “On A Carousel,” “Simple Man,” “Our House,” “Marrakesh Express,” and “Teach Your Children.” From the opening salvos of the British Rock Revolution to the last shudders of Woodstock, he has rocked and rolled wherever music mattered. Now Graham is ready to tell his story: his lower-class childhood in post-war England, his early days in the British Invasion group The Hollies; becoming the lover and muse of Joni Mitchell during the halcyon years, when both produced their most introspective and important work; meeting Stephen Stills and David Crosby and reaching superstardom with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and his enduring career as a solo musician and political activist. Nash has valuable insights into a world and time many think they know from the outside but few have experienced at its epicenter, and equally wonderful anecdotes about the people around him: the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Cass Elliot, Dylan, and other rock luminaries. From London to Laurel Canyon and beyond, “Wild Tales” is a revealing look back at an extraordinary life–with all the highs and the lows; the love, the sex, and the jealousy; the politics; the drugs; the insanity–and the sanity–of a magical era of music.

30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Self Help

The Autistic Brain : Thinking across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek, read by Kira, on 09/28/2013

Temple Grandin does for Autism what Susan Cain did for Introversion.  Grandin shows us the strengths associated with Autistic and Asperger’s syndrome, citing research showing superior ability to focus on details.  She suggests that we quit seeing only the deficits, but acknowledge that some characteristics are actually strengths.  Her attention is limited to high-functioning  end of the spectrum while, the lower end of the spectrum is given short shrift.  She backs up most of her arguments with scientific research (though a few times, she just says “That doesn’t make sense” without showing why).  IntertempleGesting, but not as enjoyable asclaire-danes-and-temple-grandin_original Anibrainmals in Translation.

30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Sports, Tracy

Bloody Confused by Chuck Culpepper, read by Tracy, on 09/29/2013

Chuck Culpepper was a veteran sports journalist edging toward burnout . . . then he went to London and discovered the high-octane, fanatical (and bloody confusing!) world of English soccer.

After covering the American sports scene for fifteen years, Chuck Culpepper suffered from a profound case of Common Sportswriter Malaise. He was fed up with self-righteous proclamations, steroid scandals, and the deluge of in-your-face PR that saturated the NFL, the NBA, and MLB. Then in 2006, he moved to London and discovered a new and baffling world—the renowned Premiership soccer league. Culpepper pledged his loyalty to Portsmouth, a gutsy, small-market team at the bottom of the standings. As he puts it, “It was like childhood, with beer.”

Writing in the vein of perennial bestsellers such as Fever Pitch andAmong the Thugs, Chuck Culpepper brings penetrating insight to the vibrant landscape of English soccer—visiting such storied franchises as Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool . . . and an equally celebrated assortment of pubs. Bloody Confused! will put a smile on the face of any sports fan who has ever questioned what makes us love sports in the first place.

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, NonFiction, Sarah

Unveiling Grace by Lynn K. Wilder, read by Sarah, on 09/27/2013

  This book was fascinating to me.  Lynn Wilder and her husband joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) when they were newly married as a result of a couple of young men knocking at their door to share their testimony.  Lynn is an educator who is world renowned for her special education ideas and work with special needs children.  For 30 years, she raised her children to believe that if they worked hard enough, gave to the temple, and followed their callings with the church, that they would go to heaven.  Mind you, there are different levels of heaven in the Mormon church.  More good works equals a higher ranking in heaven.  Through a series of God-moments, trials, and tribulations, God reveals to Lynn’s son, Micah, that Jesus Christ is the only one to follow; not Joseph Smith’s teachings.  Lynn’s family is thrown into turmoil as they try to figure out the truth.

I had several close Mormon friends when I was growing up and this book opened my eyes to many of the things that go on behind closed doors in that church.  It really held my attention.  I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the Mormon church or evangelical Christians.

 

 

27. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, History, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, read by Kim, on 08/27/2013

It was wonderful to read this book again after so many years.

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic; a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

19. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction

Treasures From the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family by Mirjam Pressler, read by Kim, on 08/15/2013

This is a wonderful book to read because it puts Anne’s diary into context!

The story is one that is envisioned by many: a relative, an old woman who has lived in the same home for a lifetime, passes away, her death prompting the inevitable task of sorting through her effects by her surviving family. But in the attic in this particular house, a treasure trove of historic importance is found. Rarely does this become an actuality, but when Helene Elias died, no one could put a price on what she left behind.

Helene Elias was born Helene Frank, sister to Otto Frank, and therefore aunt to Anne Frank. Ensconced upstairs in the house she inherited from her mother, and eventually passed on to her son, Buddy Elias, Anne’s cousin and childhood playmate, was the documented legacy of the Frank family: a vast collection of photos, letters, drawings, poems, and postcards preserved throughout decades-a cache of over 6,000 documents in all.
Chronicled by Buddy’s wife, Gertrude, and renowned German author Mirjam Pressler, these findings weave an indelible, engaging, and endearing portrait of the family that shaped Anne Frank. They wrote to one another voluminously; recounted summer holidays, and wrote about love and hardships. They reassured one another during the terrible years and waited anxiously for news after the war had ended. Through these letters, they rejoiced in new life, and honored the memories of those they lost.

Anne’s family believed themselves to ordinary members of Germany’s bourgeoisie. That they were wrong is part of history, and we celebrate them here with this extraordinary account.

01. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, NonFiction

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz, read by Madeline, on 07/10/2013

Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood.

But he soon discovered it’s a different world en France.

From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men’s footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David’s story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.

When did he realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien? It might have been when he found himself considering a purchase of men’s dress socks with cartoon characters on them. Or perhaps the time he went to a bank with 135 euros in hand to make a 134-euro payment, was told the bank had no change that day, and thought it was completely normal. Or when he found himself dressing up to take out the garbage because he had come to accept that in Paris appearances and image mean everything.

The more than fifty original recipes, for dishes both savory and sweet, such as Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake, Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows, Chocolate Spice Bread, Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, and Mocha–Crème Fraîche Cake, will have readers running to the kitchen once they stop laughing.

The Sweet Life in Paris is a deliciously funny, offbeat, and irreverent look at the city of lights, cheese, chocolate, and other confections.

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Humor, Memoirs, NonFiction

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson, read by Angie, on 07/28/2013

One of the funniest books I have ever read! There I said it and it is true. I found myself actually laughing out loud during the reading of this book and have now become a huge Jenny Lawson fan. I want to hang out with her and hear more stories about her crazy taxidermist dad, her long-suffering but equally crazy husband Victor and Jenny’s crazy life and thoughts. I hope you are picking up the theme here…crazy! But in a good way.

This book starts with Jenny describing her childhood in Wall, Texas with her supportive mom and animal loving dad. We then move quickly through her school years; because really who wants to relive that! And we end with adulthood, marriage and motherhood. Jenny claims most of this book is true, and she does try to keep the reader informed of the not true parts. There are entertaining and unbelievable moments at every step of her life. From the magical squirrel hand puppet to the machete/vulture attack to the inevitable fascination with taxidermied animals, every moment is rife with crazy, funny incidents that will make you feel like your life is staid and boring in comparison.

Jenny narrates the audiobook herself and I would recommend reading it this way. She is hilarious and give little asides that may or may not be in the printed book. There is even a bonus chapter! As a disclaimer: there is a lot of cussing in this book. So if you don’t like bad words this may not be for you. But, it is really funny, super witty and just plain crazy…so read it!

03. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Graphic Book, NonFiction

Arab in America by Toufic El Rassi, read by Angie, on 07/02/2013

Arab in America is an interesting look at what it is like to be Arab and Muslim in a post-911 America. Toufic El Rassi delves into his personal history and the history of the Middle East to give us a look at what it is like to be discriminated and hated just because of how you look. He not only talks about his personal experiences, but he highlights others who were caught up in the anti-Muslim tide; some innocent, some not so much. As a white, middle class America I really don’t know what it is like to be hated and feared because of my ethnicity or looks. Arabs and Muslims have known for a long time. This book opened my eyes to the different ways we might discriminated against groups of people and it educated me on the difference between Arabs and Muslims and what has been going on in the Middle East. An excellent read and a good source of information into the current and past political climate in regards to Arabs/Muslims.

I received a copy of this book from Toufic El Rassi at ALA 2013. Thank you!

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward by Lisa Niemi, read by Kim, on 04/27/2013

This is the story of Patrick Swayze’s struggle with pancreatic cancer. It is a very moving story by his wife of thirty-four years, Lisa Niemi. I promise that this book will make you laugh AND cry.

24. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi, read by Kim, on 04/23/2013

I have a dear friend who is suffering with pancreatic cancer and so I wanted to read the Swayze’s experience with it even though the end was inevitable. Patrick had a lot of gumption and a lot of fight left him even at the end. It is a beautiful love story and well written story of courage and grit.

04. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim · Tags:

A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou, read by Kim, on 02/03/2013

The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.

Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.

Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.

But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact,A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.

songflungheaven

23. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill, read by Kim, on 01/22/2013

Mrs. Kennedy and MeI greatly enjoyed Mr. Hill’s retelling of the Kennedy White House years because it was from an insider’s point of view. I felt a little uncomfortable at times with his depiction of Jacqueline Kennedy because it almost sounded as if he was half in love with her. If you’ve ever read Paul Burrell’s account of his years with Princess Diana, you’ll know what I’m talking about. One thing that I liked about the book was that he did not dwell morosely on the assassination even though he was a personal witness to this event. Still, from an historical perspective it was fascinating reading especially for anyone who is interested in the Kennedys and this era of history.