31. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Globish: How the English Language became the World's Language by Robert McCrum, 331 pages, read by Kira, on 07/31/2014

It seems unlikely that a small island conquered repeatedly would provide the world with a global language.  McCrum provides a historical review of how the English language developed, how its fluidity and subversive nature allowed it to flourish and become the lingua franca of the world.  He also details all the colonizing by the Brits. index globishpiespeakers   I wish only one timeline of history had been provided, I got a little confused going through history periods a couple of times, while focusing on other aspects of the language development.

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags: , ,

Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 373 pages, read by Noelle, on 05/16/2014

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

 

15. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle · Tags: , ,

People of the Book: a Novel by Geraldine Brooks, 372 pages, read by Noelle, on 03/03/2014

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity by an acclaimed and beloved author. Called “a tour de force”by the San Francisco Chronicle, this ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century S pain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.

        

 

 

03. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim · Tags:

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, 324 pages, read by Kim, on 05/03/2013

I loved this book. Everyone knows that John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, but I never the story behind the assassination or the plot to kill him. This was a very fast read and I learned so much  more about this event in history than I ever knew before. Bill O’Reilly is correct when he states that every American should know the story of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. This book gets a 4-Star rating from me!

16. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson, 448 pages, read by Kim, on 04/16/2013

The bestselling author of “Devil in the White City” turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A good piece of well-known history from a different perspective.

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.

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.

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

The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin by Adam Hochschild, 304 pages, 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, 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.

30. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Exploring Historic Jefferson City by Gary R. Kremer, 137 pages, read by Janet, on 07/30/2012

I wanted to find out more about the city where i am living and working, and Gary Kremer has covered this very well.  He breaks it into 7 Tours around town (mostly meant for walking, with time and distance covered) and the seven cemeteries.  He mentions items in the past that are now different and why they changed.  He describes the different styles and materials of many buildings and the nationalities and special people who lived there.  Many time special activities that have taken place in an area are also mentioned.  Many items we wouldn’t know about are described, such as the house that had a turntable in the garage so the owner wouldn’t have to back out onto a busy street.  Architects are usually named and large changes that have taken place since the building was erected.  This is an excellent tour of Jefferson City that I would recommend to anyone.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Charles Kuralt's American Moments by Charles Kuralt, 255 pages, read by Janet, on 06/30/2012

We have all enjoyed hearing Charles Kuralt take us on a journey around the country, meeting the American people.  This book visits many people and places briefly around this country and lets us see a bit of its backbone from past history to the present. These are very short glimpses (ninely-second-long broadcasts) of America.  Among the people presented were a Vernonter splitting his winter wood, a Tennessee cotton-candy maker, a cable-car driver in San Francisco, a totem pole carver in Alaska, a mailman on the Magnolia River in Alabama, the caretaker of Grant’s Tomb in New York, a whirligig maker in Maine, a basket weaver in South Carolina, and a lady who repairs treadle sewing machines in Massachusetts.  Some of the places and things viewed were:  the Wisconsin home of Ringling Brothers Circus, the New Jersey U.S. flag-making factory, the home of buffalo wings in Buffalo, New York, a toothpick factory in Maine, the home of the Pony Express in St. Joseph, Missouri, a covered bridge in Oregon, sequoias in California, the small key deer in the Florida Keys, stone gargoyles on New York buildings, stained glass windows begun by Tiffany, and a lightbulb that has been glowing since 1901.  There are many, many more parts of our country’s history moments, some of which are still going on, and some just remembered well – all important in their own way in the life of our country.

21. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , , ,

The Art of the Missouri Capitol: History in Canvas, Bronze, and Stone by Bob Priddy, Jeffrey Ball , 399 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/21/2012

The Art of the Missouri CapitolAfter fire destroyed Missouri’s capitol in 1911, voters approved a bond issue to construct a new statehouse. The tax to pay the bonds produced a one-million-dollar surplus, leaving a vast amount of money to decorate the new building. A special commission of art-minded Missourians employed some of the nation’s leading painters and sculptors to create powerful and often huge pieces of art to adorn Missouri’s most important new structure.

The Art of the Missouri Capitol presents the art in 270 images, many by Lloyd Grotjan, mostly of the building’s many compelling paintings, murals, and sculptures. Priddy, a journalist who has covered the Missouri legislature for more than three decades, and Ball, an art historian, use a wealth of historical materials to connect the grand design of the capitol decorations with accounts of sometimes temperamental artists and meddling politicians. The authors provide historical and artistic context to explain the many surprising, controversial choices the artists made, and they use Missouri history to explain the tales depicted in the artwork, revealing the events—and inaccuracies—that the paintings bring to life.

There were lots of stories and information that I have either forgotten from my school tour days or just never heard since the tour guides have to keep groups of kids interested and moving through the building. Did you know there is accidentally one too many stars on the representation of the Great Seal of Missouri on the capitol floor? There are supposed to be 24 to represent Missouri joining the union as the 24th state but the artist carved one too many. So, if you’ve ever stared at the seal and thought the stars were unbalanced or something was off about it… you are correct.

12. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Chewing Gum, Candy Bars & Beer: The Army Px In World War II by James J. Cooke, 186 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/12/2012

Chewing Gum, Candy Bars & BeerThis book is full of facts about groups supplying American troops with comfort items from the civil war forward of course the main emphasis is WWII.
Private citizens followed troops around from campsite to campsite selling items for whatever prices they wanted to the soldiers during the civil war. Once World War I started the government didn’t want the soldiers to be cheated like they often had been in the past so they started letting only a few approved vendors sell items like chewing gum, candy, beer, ice cream, razors etc., to the troops. The logistics of keeping supplies with the men, often meant things had to be shipped with the military supplies and the army determined it would be easier and better if they were in charge of all moral booster shops or “post exchanges” or PX’s.
The book also talks about day to day life of the troops and of citizens in both the Pacific and European theaters but mainly in Europe where the soldiers and citizens mingled more often. European civilians often thought all Americans were rich because they had luxury items like chocolate when the civilians had been on strict rations for years for basics like floor and milk. Much stricter rations than the U.S. civilians had at the same time.
I thought it was touching that the majority of soldiers stationed in Germany at the end of the war tried to help the German civilians they encountered and the regular German soldiers. They knew that these German citizens had been victims of the Nazis and the government and they felt that giving humanitarian aid to the citizens would also improve relations between the countries later (taken from several soldiers personal letters back home — not official statements.) It is sad that “fresh” soldiers who never saw battle sent in to replace the war-battered troops for “peace keeping” often treated all the Germans the same and regarded all of them as the enemy, whereas the men who had actually been fired upon by German troops forgave the common soldier and knew the civilians should not be blamed

Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are gorgeous. I love his portraits and they are definitely worthy of their illustrator honor awards. I also think this book deserves the Coretta Scott King author award. It is a wonderful summary of African American history boiled down into 100 pages. I love the grandmother narrator who is telling the story of her families journey from slavery through modern times. Sure it is a stretch to believe one family could have experienced every aspect of African American history, but it is still a beautifully told story. And the illustrations go perfectly with the story; I can’t stress enough how wonderful they are. I wish there was more detail to some parts of the history; it does seem like certain segments were very briefly described, but 400 years were covered in a little over 100 pages so Nelson had to be brief. Overall, this is a wonderful book that definitely deserves all the honors and awards it is getting.

15. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: , ,

Weird History: A Twisted Tour of America's Bizarre Past by Randy Fairbanks, Matt Lake , 128 pages, read by Angie, on 02/15/2012

This book is full of weird snippets of history and I loved it. There is a lot of information in this book on ghosts, bizarre people and places, strange happenings, and just weird things that occurred in America’s history; things you aren’t told about in history books. All the segments are pretty brief so if you want more information on a topic you are going to have to find it elsewhere. But this book gives you a good overview on a lot of stuff. It is organized very well with nice concise chapters and very readable text. I think kids will find it fascinating. I know there are several things I want to know more about. I loved finding out that both Reagan and Carter saw UFOs, that there’s a cat haunting the U.S. Capital, and that George Washington was not our first president (he was our 9th)! I’m definitely going to have to read up on that one!

08. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hisarlik by Eric H. Cline, 80 pages, read by Angie, on 02/07/2012

Probably the best part of this book is the overview of the Trojan War in the beginning of the book. It is basically a retelling of the Illiad at a level that children can understand. Sure there are gruesome parts, but that is part of the tale. It isn’t really a children’s story, but this retelling does make it a little more accessible to kids. However, the retelling takes up half of the book and while it is interesting the book is supposed to be about finding Troy.

Most of the rest of the book is about Heinrich Schliemann’s quest to become famous as the person to discover the ruins of Troy and the Trojan War. There is a great deal of space spent on his quest and his questionable archeological methods. The book then goes through other archeologist who have dug at Hisarlik and uncovered more information on the history of Troy. While this information is interesting it is a bit dry in its delivery. There are not nearly enough graphics to keep kids interested in the text. There should be photos and graphics detailing the different levels they discovered on the site. There is one map which is very difficult to read. The book does have a pronunciation guide, timeline, bibliography and source notes, but it is very awkwardly set up. The pronunciation guide is after the introduction for instance and the timeline is very basic. This is a really interesting subject and the book could be used for reports, but I don’t think kids will pick it up for pleasure reading.

23. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy, True Crime · Tags: ,

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson, 463 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/08/2012

ThunderstruckDidn’t completely finish this one. Not sure why it didn’t hold my interest like other books by this author. It may just be me at this time, but I would highly recommend Devil in the White City by this author instead, if you are looking for fascinating history blended with a true crime mystery.

23. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears by Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green, 208 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/05/2012

Cherokee Nation and the Trail of TearsBrief historical coverage of the Cherokee Indians and their forced relocation to Oklahoma from multiple states over a period of years. Also discusses the political climate and views that lead to this horrible action being legal.

20. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Science · Tags: ,

Shipwrecks: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea by Mary M. Cerullo, 64 pages, read by Angie, on 01/14/2012

This book explores two different shipwrecks on the coast of the United States. It is a nice mix of science, exploration, history and adventure. The first shipwreck discussed is the Henrietta Marie a slave trader that sunk off the Florida Keys in 1700 during a hurricane. The information gleaned from the wreck is from a dark period in our history when hundreds of slaves where crammed into the hold of a ship. Shackles and other artifacts from the slave ship are found among the wreckage. The Portland is a completely different ship. It was a large, luxurious paddle wheel ship that just made short trips along the Northeastern Coast. It went down in a Nor’easter. The wrecks are very different. The tropical wreck has been thoroughly explored and artifacts brought to the surface. The wreckage is home to tropical fish, coral, and other tropical sea life. The Portland hasn’t been explored nearly as well; it is in very deep water and covered in fishing nets. The cold water means fewer fish and wildlife cover the wreckage.

Two very different shipwrecks but thorough research and information on each. Very interesting facts and photos. I really enjoyed the sidebars and the photos of the wreckage and artifacts.

20. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags: ,

The Lowdown on Denim by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Clayton Hanmer (Illustrator) , 112 pages, read by Angie, on 01/13/2012

This was a good history of denim and jeans. I liked the quirky narrative of the detention kids; it added a bit of interest throughout the story. The history was very brand specific, but did contain a lot of information. I especially enjoyed the early history. The later stuff didn’t seem as detailed or as interesting.