Thoughts on: Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine
4 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / August 28, 2011

About: “Dreams of My Russian Summers” by Andreï Makine is a fictional, semi-autobiographical book. The book was originally written in French and has won several awards. 241 pages Publisher: Arcade Publishing ISBN: 155970893X The pub­lisher has made avail­able one (2) copies of “Dreams of My Russian Summers” to be given out– enter at the end of the post. My rating for Dreams of My Russian Summers – 4 Buy & Save on “Dreams of My Russian Summers” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon  | Kin­dle |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “Dreams of My Russian Summers” by Andreï Makine is a beautiful book, a lyrical and relatable story of the author who was born in Russia but spent his summers with his grandmother Charlotte Lemonnier. Charlotte’s stories took a life of their own and ultimately became an integral part of the author as well. The book is as much the story of Charlotte as it is of the author. Born in the early 1900s, she moved to Russia with her father who practiced medicine. Over the years Charlotte went back and forth only to be in France on the even of World War I. She soon returned to…

Thoughts on: Uncle Misha’s Partisans by Yuri Suhl
5 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / August 25, 2011

About: “Uncle Misha’s Partisans” by Yuri Suhl is a fictional book following the adventures of a Ukrainian boy during World War II. The book is meant for young adults (YA) and should be read as such. 211 pages Publisher: Shapolsky Publishers ISBN: 0933503237 My rating for Uncle Misha’s Partisan’s – 5 Thoughts: The book, “Uncle Misha’s Partisans” by Yuri Suhl, first came to my knowledge through a post on The Children’s War blog. What caught my eye was the name of one of the partisans, Yoshke, which is similar to my great-uncles nickname (Yoseph or Yoshko) who was also a partisan during World War II. We only know bits and pieces about my great uncle’s experiences as he never fully relayed them to anyone. He was fond of saying that he was ‘jealous of dogs’ during that time. This award winning book (1973 The Sydney Taylor Book Awards, 1974 National Jewish Book Awards Jewish Book Council) reminded me of the books I used to love as a boy 10-13 or so, which is just about the age this book is recommended for. It is well written, excellent story which doesn’t insult the intelligence of young adults. What I’m surprised is…

Book Review: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion. The pub­lisher has made avail­able one (1) copy of “Russian Winter” to be given out– enter at the end of the post. For more giveaways, please check out the Facebook Book Giveaway Group My rating for Russian Winter: 4 About: “Russian Winter” by Daphne Kalotay(website | Facebook |Reading Group Guide )is a fictional book which follows the complex life of a Russian prima ballerina who defected to the US.  The paperback edition includes discussion questions, a Q&A, a personal essay and recommended reading; Ms. Kalotay website has a dedicated For Book Groups page with tools for discussion and more. 496 pages Publisher: Harper Perennial ISBN: 0061962172 Buy & Save on“Russian Winter” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on: Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK Thoughts: “Russian Winter” by Daphne Kalotay is a complex book that’s difficult to describe.   This is one of those books that you really need to pay attention while reading, reading it quickly will take away from the enjoyment. There are many details about the book which are fascinating, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Bolshoi tryouts, dancing, the life of a ballerina and life in…

Book Review: John Quincy Adams by Paul C. Nagel
4 Stars , Biographies & Memoirs , Non-Fiction / October 18, 2010

I borrowed this book from the local library. I set a goal to read, in order, all of the biographies of the presidents of the United States who have passed away. 466 pages ISBN-10 : 0674479408 Publisher : Harvard University Press Language : English My rating for John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life – 4 About: “John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life” by Paul C. Nagel is a biography of the sixth president of these United States. JQA, as he referred to himself to be distinguished from his prominent father, was a melancholy politician who would have rather been a man of letters, than the lawyer / diplomat / politician he turned out to be. The book is based mostly on JQA’s diary which spanned an amazing seven decades – arguably the “most valuable historical and personal journal kept by any prominent American”. Buy this great book here, even if you won’t read it – it looks great on the shelf*   Thoughts: As the author mentions in the preface, this book is more of a character study of a person thought to be an elitist and out of touch, than a historical biography….

Book Review: The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
3 Stars , Fiction / October 13, 2010

I borrowed this book from the local library. My rating for The Secret Speech – 3 About: “The Secret Speech” by Tom Rob Smith is the fictional follow up to his engrossing debut book “Child 44” (book review) in which we continue follow the tortured life of MGB agent turned homicide detective Leo Demidov. Hey Comrade…you buy “Secret Speech” now Thoughts: Inevitably this book is compared to its brilliant predecessor which recounts the fictional pursuit of a mass murderer, as well as Leo’s realization that working as a government agent, he might not be the “good guy” in the story of life. This book never achieves that urgency and rush which resonated with “Child 44” but I will try to review it on its own merit. What “The Secret Speech” does achieve is broadening the moral scope of the protagonist, questioning his share of the collective guilt of institutionalized oppression against your own people. Much like the Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev’s secret speech (secret because it was supposed to be heard only behind closed doors) which is referred to in the title and drives the plot, the theme of guilt is played out well together with the absurdity of blindly…

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