21. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kim, Women's Fiction (chick lit) · Tags:

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! by Fannie Flagg, read by Kim, on 03/21/2013

I absolutely loved this book! Fannie Flagg knows how to write, she knows what readers want and she delivers! Her characters are so hilarious! Anyone from Missouri reading this book will recognize someone they know in Flagg’s pages!!!! And yet, the author does not shield us from the pain that a person goes through. But she also teaches us how to get through it with a dose of humor, faith, and common sense. I highly recommend it! it is definitely a “feel-good” book!

15. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim · Tags:

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley, read by Kim, on 03/08/2013

I have always wanted to read Roots. It was quite a lengthy book but good reading.

One of the most important books and television series ever to appear, Roots, galvanized the nation, and created an extraordinary political, racial, social and cultural dialogue that hadn’t been seen since the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The book sold over one million copies in the first year, and the miniseries was watched by an astonishing 130 million people. It also won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Roots opened up the minds of Americans of all colors and faiths to one of the darkest and most painful parts of America’s past.

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

Lenin: A New Biography by Dmitri Volkogonov, 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.

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

Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy, 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.

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

The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin by Adam Hochschild, read by Kim, on 02/28/2013

Although some twenty million people died during Stalin’s reign of terror, only with the advent of glasnost did Russians begin to confront their memories of that time. In 1991, Adam Hochschild spent nearly six months in Russia talking to gulag survivors, retired concentration camp guards, and countless others. The result is a riveting evocation of a country still haunted by the ghost of Stalin.

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

Until the Final Hour by Traudl Junge, 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.

20. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kim

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore, read by Kim, on 02/20/2013

stalinStalin the court of the Red Tsar BookFifty years after his death, Stalin remains a figure of powerful and dark fascination. The almost unfathomable scale of his crimes–as many as 20 million Soviets died in his purges and infamous Gulag–has given him the lasting distinction as a personification of evil in the twentieth century. But though the facts of Stalin’s reign are well known, this remarkable biography reveals a Stalin we have never seen before as it illuminates the vast foundation–human, psychological and physical–that supported and encouraged him, the men and women who did his bidding, lived in fear of him and, more often than not, were betrayed by him. In a seamless meshing of exhaustive research, brilliant synthesis and narrative élan, Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the life and lives of Stalin’s court from the time of his acclamation as “leader” in 1929, five years after Lenin’s death, until his own death in 1953 at the age of seventy-three. Through the lens of personality–Stalin’s as well as those of his most notorious henchmen, Molotov, Beria and Yezhov among them–the author sheds new light on the oligarchy that attempted to create a new world by exterminating the old. He gives us the details of their quotidian and monstrous lives: Stalin’s favorites in music, movies, literature (Hemmingway,The Forsyte Saga and The Last of the Mohicans were at the top of his list), food and history (he took Ivan the Terrible as his role model and swore by Lenin’s dictum, “A revolution without firing squads is meaningless”). We see him among his courtiers, his informal but deadly game of power played out at dinners and parties at Black Sea villas and in the apartments of the Kremlin. We see the debauchery, paranoia and cravenness that ruled the lives of Stalin’s inner court, and we see how the dictator played them one against the other in order to hone the awful efficiency of his killing machine. With stunning attention to detail, Montefiore documents the crimes, small and large, of all the members of Stalin’s court. And he traces the intricate and shifting web of their relationships as the relative warmth of Stalin’s rule in the early 1930s gives way to the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the upheaval of World War II (there has never been as acute an account of Stalin’s meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt) and the horrific postwar years when he terrorized his closest associates as unrelentingly as he did the rest of his country. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar gives an unprecedented understanding of Stalin’s dictatorship, and, as well, a Stalin as human and complicated as he is brutal. It is a galvanizing portrait: razor-sharp, sensitive and unforgiving.

11. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Kim, Multicultural Fiction · Tags: ,

Beloved by Toni Morrison, read by Kim, on 02/11/2013

beloved-toni-morrison-paperback-cover-art Beloved

Toni Morrison’s magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel–first published in 1987–brought the unimaginable experience of slavery into the literature of our time and into our comprehension. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked her life in order to wrench herself from a living death; who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved. Sethe works at “beating back the past,” but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly: in her memory; in Denver’s fear of the world outside the house; in the sadness that consumes Baby Suggs; in the arrival of Paul D, a fellow former slave; and, most powerfully, in Beloved, whose childhood belongs to the hideous logic of slavery and who has now come from the “place over there” to claim retribution for what she lost and for what was taken from her. Sethe’s struggle to keep Beloved from gaining possession of her present–and to throw off the long-dark legacy of her past–is at the center of this spellbinding novel. But it also moves beyond its particulars, combining imagination and the vision of legend with the unassailable truths of history. Upon the original publication ofBeloved, John Leonard wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “I can’t imagine American literature without it.” In fact, more than a decade later, it remains a preeminent novel of our time, speaking with timeless clarity and power to our experience as a nation with a past of both abominable and ennobling circumstance.

When I first started reading this book I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did as I got further into it. I love Toni Morrison’s writing style and her characters.

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

01. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kim, Multicultural Fiction · Tags: ,

The Color Purple by Alice Walker, read by Kim, on 01/31/2013

color purpleCelie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

 

I love this book!

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.