19. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure , 176 pages, read by Angie, on 08/17/2013

Victor, the Wild Boy, of this tale was found roaming the countryside. He was captured and eventually ended up at a home for deaf/mutes. There is no information on whether he could actually hear, but he never learned to talk. He communicated through gestures. This is a fascinating tale. Losure does a great job laying out the details of Victor’s life and speculating on what might have happened. All the information came from the notes of those doctor’s that studied him. The book is short and easy to read. The story is engrossing and really makes you want to learn more about this and other feral children.

07. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Anne Frank: A Hidden Life by Mirjam Pressler, 176 pages, read by Kim, on 08/06/2013

This book was written for teens but is an excellent companion book to the Diary of Anne Frank and you learn more of the personal background of the Frank family and those who helped to hide them. You also learn more of what the Frank sisters, Anne and Margot went through in the seven months of their captivity in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

05. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Anne Frank: The Biography by Melissa Muller, 458 pages, read by Kim, on 08/05/2013

I love learning more about Anne Frank and her family that goes beyond the diary. This is book is an updated version that gives us clues as to who may have betrayed the Frank family although we will never know for sure. It also goes into detail about the fate of Anne, her sister, Margot, and their mother after their arrest and deportation to concentration camps.

23. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Biographies, History, Kim · Tags:

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer, 382 pages, read by Kim, on 07/19/2013

Based on the true story of Irena Sendler, a Holocaust hero, and the Kansas teens who ‘rescued the rescuer’.

I loved this book. Couldn’t put it down!

22. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Pamela

Maria von Trapp: Beyond the Sound of Music by Candice F. Ransom, 112 pages, read by Pamela, on 07/22/2013

von trappAnyone who has seen The Sound of Music knows how Maria von Trapp’s life began–but what happened after the final scene? Discover what Maria’s life was like after fleeing Nazi-occupied Austria for America. With intriguing facts about her life in the nunnery, her romance with Captain von Trapp, their ten children, and their singing careers, this inspiring story reaches beyond The Sound of Music–and reveals the courage and determination of a kind, energetic, and very real woman.

I watch the “Sound of Music” every winter, but did not realize how much of a life Maria von Trapp lived after the movie ended.  A wonderful read for young and old.

12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, 32 pages, read by Angie, on 07/12/2013

This is a wonderful collection of mini-biographies of women who have made history. Cynthia Chin-Lee offers glimpses into the lives of a wide variety of women from different time periods and locations throughout the world. These women made strides in science, literature, politics, society and many other areas. They were pioneers of their times, many risked imprisonment and persecution for their work. All were brave, intelligent and determined. I especially loved the mixed media collages that accompany each bio. They are beautiful!

12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction

Wild Women of the Wild West by Jonah Winter, 40 pages, read by Angie, on 07/12/2013

I was really looking forward to reading this book about the wild women in the Wild West, but was disappointed with the execution of it. The book does profile some truly fascinating women like Carrie Nation and Annie Oakley, but the information given about each is too brief. Winter barely gives each woman a page of text to tell their entire life stories. Some of the information seems very general and random. Winter also seems especially fascinated by the bigger women. There are at least three in this book who were giants…6 feet tall and 180 pounds…yes all three were those dimensions exactly. Really?!?! I think the biggest disappointment was the poor writing. The transitions between sentences were horrible; my English teachers would have covered this book in red ink. Too brief, poorly written and sketchy research. Not a book I would recommend.

06. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Madeline, NonFiction

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 06/29/2013

The tale of a simple act of faith between two young people – one Israeli, one Palestinian – that symbolizes the hope for peace in the Middle East. In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramle, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir Al-Khairi, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in. This act of faith in the face of many years of animosity is the starting point for a true story of a remarkable relationship between two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the regio. In his childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, Bashir sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. As both are swept up in the fates of their people, and Bashir is jailed for his alleged part in a supermarket bombing, the friends do not speak for years. They finally reconcile and convert the house in Ramle into a day-care centre for Arab children of Israel, and a center for dialogue between Arabs and Jews. Now the dialogue they started seems more threatened than ever; the lemon tree died in 1998, and Bashir was jailed again, without charge. The Lemon Tree grew out of a forty-three minute radio documentary that Sandy Tolan produced for Fresh Air. With this book, he pursues the story into the homes and histories of the two families at its center, and up to the present day. Their stories form a personal microcosm of the last seventy years of Israeli-Palestinian history. In a region that seems ever more divided, The Lemon Tree is a reminder of all that is at stake, and of all that is still possible. Sandy Tolanis the author ofMe & Hank:A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-five Years Later. He has written for theNew York Times Magazineand for more than 40 other magazines and newspapers.As cofounder of Homelands Productions, Tolan has produced dozens of radio documentaries for National Public Radio and Public Radio International. His work has won numerous awards, and he was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an I. F. Stone Fellow at the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he directs the school’s Project on International Reporting. A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist   In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramla, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in. This poignant encounter is the starting point for a true story of two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the region. In Bashir’s childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, he sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. Both are swept up in the fates of their people, and and their lives form a personal microcosm of more than half a century of Israeli-Palestinian history. “This truly remarkable book presents a powerful account of Palestinians and Israelis who try to break the seemingly endless chain of hatred and violence.

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, Graphic Book

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky, 192 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/19/2013

If you’ve never heard of the Carter Family, you’re missing a huge part of American music history. Countless acts have professed influence from the timeless melodies crafted by the Carters. This graphic novel seeks to tell their story. It is, by turns, a love story, an all-American rags-to-riches tale, and an homage to traditional music. It’s a great story, but I’m not sure if the graphic novel format is ideal. Granted, it does make for a very accessible introduction to the Carter Family (and even includes a CD, though the CD didn’t have many of the songs most frequently mentioned, which would have been nice), but it feels like it glosses over a lot of details. The artwork is decent, but not outstanding. I suppose the purpose is really to distill what would otherwise be an unwieldy family biography, so in that sense, the graphic format works. Perhaps not for those who already know quite a bit about the Carter Family, but definitely a decent introduction to a new fan.

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Lisa, NonFiction

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan, 362 pages, read by Lisa, on 05/03/2013

The tale of a simple act of faith between two young people – one Israeli, one Palestinian – that symbolizes the hope for peace in the Middle East. In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramle, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir Al-Khairi, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in. This act of faith in the face of many years of animosity is the starting point for a true story of a remarkable relationship between two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the regio. In his childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, Bashir sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. As both are swept up in the fates of their people, and Bashir is jailed for his alleged part in a supermarket bombing, the friends do not speak for years. They finally reconcile and convert the house in Ramle into a day-care centre for Arab children of Israel, and a center for dialogue between Arabs and Jews. Now the dialogue they started seems more threatened than ever; the lemon tree died in 1998, and Bashir was jailed again, without charge. The Lemon Tree grew out of a forty-three minute radio documentary that Sandy Tolan produced for Fresh Air. With this book, he pursues the story into the homes and histories of the two families at its center, and up to the present day. Their stories form a personal microcosm of the last seventy years of Israeli-Palestinian history. In a region that seems ever more divided, The Lemon Tree is a reminder of all that is at stake, and of all that is still possible. Sandy Tolanis the author ofMe & Hank:A Boy and His Hero, Twenty-five Years Later. He has written for theNew York Times Magazineand for more than 40 other magazines and newspapers.As cofounder of Homelands Productions, Tolan has produced dozens of radio documentaries for National Public Radio and Public Radio International. His work has won numerous awards, and he was a 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an I. F. Stone Fellow at the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he directs the school’s Project on International Reporting. A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist   In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramla, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in. This poignant encounter is the starting point for a true story of two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the region. In Bashir’s childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, he sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. Both are swept up in the fates of their people, and and their lives form a personal microcosm of more than half a century of Israeli-Palestinian history. “This truly remarkable book presents a powerful account of Palestinians and Israelis who try to break the seemingly endless chain of hatred and violence.

18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, History, NonFiction

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator), 40 pages, read by Angie, on 05/16/2013

There is just something about WWII stories that really pulls at my heart. I find the people who worked for the underground movements and helped the Jewish people fascinating. There is something about their courage and heroism that really makes you look at your own life and wander what you would have done in a similar situation. Not everyone was strong enough to stand up for what was right, but Irena Sendler was definitely one of those heroes. Her story is similar to others who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, but it is definitely worth knowing. I thought this picture book biography did a good job of showing her courage and dedication to doing what is right. She is a hero from a very dark time in our history and her story deserves to be told.

06. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd, 40 pages, read by Angie, on 05/06/2013

It is amazing how much Ben Franklin did in his long life. I am not sure there is any part of life that he did not explore and conquer. He was an inventor, a scientist, a statesman, a diplomat, an educator, an author and so much more. Many of the things we use in every day life can be attributed to Franklin. Many of the institutions and concepts we rely on were first suggested by Franklin. If there is any man who is responsible for our way of life it might be Franklin. He is an amazing historical figure. This biography does a great job of breaking his life down into its most important eras. I loved all the information and the sidebars the author provided not just about Franklin, but life during his time period.

This book was a Sibert Honor Book and an Orbis Pictus Honor Book in 2013.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Tracy · Tags:

Drinking with Men: A Memoir by Rosie Schaap, 288 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/05/2013

Rosie Schaap’s second home is a neighborhood bar. Or maybe it’s her first home since she spends a lot of time drinking and socializing at bars mostly with men. Each chapter is devoted to a bar she became a regular at. She says she isn’t an alcoholic, just likes to be with other people in a bar where everybody knows your name, as the Cheers song goes. She even got married and tried to settle down but it didn’t last. It’s a very honest and tell all book. I couldn’t imagine drinking the amount she says she drinks and not have an alcohol problem.

19. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, History, Melody, NonFiction · Tags:

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains by Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, and Rebecca Guay, 161 pages, read by Melody, on 03/15/2013

Bad Girls is the perfect foil to the book I just read about women who changed the world.  While Girls who Rocked the World was about scientists, activists, and heroes who made the world a better place, Bad Girls is about women who made their mark in a different way.  There are blood baths, axe slayings, fallen women, and outlaws.   Mata Hari, Typhoid Mary, Catherine the Great, and Salome.  Yolen and her daughter and co-author Stemple debate in asides between the chapters whether the women were really as bad as history paints them or were there other circumstances to consider.  Fun read and who doesn’t love a bad girl?

15. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Lenin: A New Biography by Dmitri Volkogonov, 529 pages, read by Kim, on 03/14/2013

I read this book because I was not very familiar with Lenin except what I knew from history classes. This book only confirmed that he was worse than what I had already known about him. It was very well written by an assistant to Boris Yelstin back in the very early1990’s, not long after the collapse of Soviet Russia and he had special access to the secret soviet archives. It was very interesting to read about Lenin from a contemporary Russian’s perspective.

13. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Melody, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Girls Who Rocked the World by Michelle Roehm McCann and AMelie Welden , 248 pages, read by Melody, on 03/11/2013

Girls Who Rocked the World is a collection of 46 short biographies of women who changed the world.  It is a great mix of famous and less famous women ranging from the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut to actress Natalie Portman.  It is a children’s book so it is light on the scandals and controversies of the rich and complicated lives of some of these women but it is enjoyable quick read for Women’s History Month.

04. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy, 317 pages, read by Kim, on 02/18/2013

Defined in the public eye by her two high-profile marriages, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis faced a personal crossroads on the eve of 1975. Her relationship with Aristotle Onassis was crumbling while his health was rapidly declining. Her children were nearing adulthood, soon to leave her with an empty nest. But 1975 would also be a time of incredible growth and personal renaissance for Jackie, the year in which she reinvented herself and rediscovered talents and passions she had set aside for her roles as wife and mother.

28. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Joyce, NonFiction · Tags:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, 286 pages, read by Joyce, on 02/26/2013

This is an inspiring narrative about William Kamkwamba, an African teenager of Malawi, who used what limited resources were available to build a wind mill.  His efforts overcame crippling adversity of poverty and famine.  Many thought he was crazy, but his dream to bring his small village electricity and running water became reality. “And I try and I made it,”  applauded words William spoke at a conference, where his accomplishments were honored, became the motto for those attending.  This is an inspiring and heartwarming true story.

25. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, History, Melody, NonFiction

Lilterary Rouges by Andrew Shaffer, 297 pages, read by Melody, on 02/23/2013

Literary Rogues is a very entertaining read about the bad boys and a few bad girls of literature.  Nothing new that we didn’t learn in Lit 101; Bryon was a sex fiend, Coleridge was an opium fiend, and suicide is a very real hazard of the writing profession.  While perhaps not groundbreaking , Shaffer, who writes for Maxim and The Huffington Post, has a breezy fast paced writing style very well suited to stories of vice and excess with a healthy dose of genius and madness thrown in.  Good fun light read.

21. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kim · Tags:

Until the Final Hour by Traudl Junge, 245 pages, read by Kim, on 02/18/2013

traudl truldTraudlJungeA firsthand account of life with Hitler from 1942 until his death in the Berlin bunker in 1945, by a young woman who was his last secretary.