Reading Around the World: Russia

Reading Around the World: Russia
Notes from My Captivity by Kathy Parks

Notes from My Captivity
by Kathy Parks

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Series: no
Published: July 10th 2018

Goodreads:

Adrienne Cahill cares about three things: getting into a great college; becoming a revered journalist like her idol, Sydney Declay; and making her late father proud of her.

So when Adrienne is offered the chance to write an article that will get her into her dream school and debunk her foolish stepfather's belief that a legendary family of hermits is living in the Siberian wilderness, there's no question that she's going to fly across the world.

But the Russian terrain is even less forgiving than skeptical Adrienne, and when disaster strikes, none of their extensive preparations seem to matter. Now Adrienne's being held captive by the family she was convinced didn't exist, and her best hope for escape is to act like she cares about them, even if it means wooing the youngest son.


Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan 

Daughters of the Night Sky
by Aimie K. Runyan 

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Series: no
Published: January 1st 2018

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A novel—inspired by the most celebrated regiment in the Red Army—about a woman’s sacrifice, courage, and love in a time of war.

Russia, 1941. Katya Ivanova is a young pilot in a far-flung military academy in the Ural Mountains. From childhood, she’s dreamed of taking to the skies to escape her bleak mountain life. With the Nazis on the march across Europe, she is called on to use her wings to serve her country in its darkest hour. Not even the entreaties of her new husband—a sensitive artist who fears for her safety—can dissuade her from doing her part as a proud daughter of Russia.

After years of arduous training, Katya is assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—one of the only Soviet air units composed entirely of women. The Germans quickly learn to fear nocturnal raids by the daring fliers they call “Night Witches.” But the brutal campaign will exact a bitter toll on Katya and her sisters-in-arms. When the smoke of war clears, nothing will ever be the same—and one of Russia’s most decorated military heroines will face the most agonizing choice of all.


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden

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Series: Winternight Trilogy #1
Published: January 10th 2017 

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind--she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed--this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.


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The Wolf Wilder
by Katherine Rundell

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Series: no
Published: September 10th 2015 

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Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves. 


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy,

Anna Karenina 
by Leo Tolstoy

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Series: no
Published: 1878

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Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel, Anna Kareninaprovides a vast panorama of contemporary life in Russia and of humanity in general. In it Tolstoy uses his intense imaginative insight to create some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature - with tragic consequences. Levin is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author's own views and convictions.

Throughout, Tolstoy points no moral, merely inviting us not to judge but to watch. As Rosemary Edmonds comments, 'He leaves the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope to bring home the meaning of the brooding words following the title, 'Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.


The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia by Orlando Figes

The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
by Orlando Figes

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Series: no
Published: November 13th 2007 

Goodreads:

From the award-winning author of A People's Tragedy and Natasha's Dance, a landmark account of what private life was like for Russians in the worst years of Soviet repression
 
There have been many accounts of the public aspects of Stalin's dictatorship: the arrests and trials, the enslavement and killing in the gulags. No previous book, however, has explored the regime's effect on people's personal lives, what one historian called "the Stalinism that entered into all of us." Now, drawing on a huge collection of newly discovered documents, The Whisperers reveals for the first time the inner world of ordinary Soviet citizens as they struggled to survive amidst the mistrust, fear, compromises, and betrayals that pervaded their existence.

Moving from the Revolution of 1917 to the death of Stalin and beyond, Orlando Figes re-creates the moral maze in which Russians found themselves, where one wrong turn could destroy a family or, perversely, end up saving it. He brings us inside cramped communal apartments, where minor squabbles could lead to fatal denunciations; he examines the Communist faithful, who often rationalized even their own arrest as a case of mistaken identity; and he casts a humanizing light on informers, demonstrating how, in a repressive system, anyone could easily become a collaborator.

A vast panoramic portrait of a society in which everyone spoke in whispers--whether to protect their families and friends, or to inform upon them--The Whisperers is a gripping account of lives lived in impossible times.


Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey 

Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia
by Lisa Dickey 

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Series: no
Published: January 31st 2017

Goodreads:

Lisa Dickey traveled across the whole of Russia three times—in 1995, 2005 and 2015—making friends in eleven different cities, then coming back again and again to see how their lives had changed. Like the acclaimed British documentary series Seven Up!, she traces the ups and downs of ordinary people’s lives, in the process painting a deeply nuanced portrait of modern Russia.

From the caretakers of a lighthouse in Vladivostok, to the Jewish community of Birobidzhan, to a farmer in Buryatia, to a group of gay friends in Novosibirsk, to a wealthy “New Russian” family in Chelyabinsk, to a rap star in Moscow, Dickey profiles a wide cross-section of people in one of the most fascinating, dynamic and important countries on Earth. Along the way, she explores dramatic changes in everything from technology to social norms, drinks copious amounts of vodka, and learns firsthand how the Russians really feel about Vladimir Putin.

Including powerful photographs of people and places over time, and filled with wacky travel stories, unexpected twists, and keen insights, Bears in the Streets offers an unprecedented on-the-ground view of Russia today.


Trial Run
by Dick Francis

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Series: no
Published: 1978)

Goodreads:

Veteran horseman Randall Drew travels to Moscow to help the Russian royal family--but ends up caught in a world of jealousy, sabotage, and murder.


The Siege by Helen Dunmore

The Siege
by Helen Dunmore

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Series: The Siege #1
Published: November 22nd 2002 

Goodreads:

Helen Dunmore's astoundingly beautiful new drama of two intertwined love stories unfolding during the 1941 siege on Leningrad has already been deemed "a pinnacle in fiction, and in the year's fiction too" (The Telegraph) and "a world-class novel" (The Times). At once epic and intimate, The Siege is a modern masterpiece.

Sudden news of a German attack rips the Levin family -- twenty-two-year-old Anna; her young brother, Kolya; and their father, Mikhail -- from their countryside retreat, throwing their world into unimagined turmoil. Soon all of Leningrad is trapped by the besieging German army, but daily life must go on. While Kolya plays with his toy fort, his tiny body grows cruelly thin. While Anna dreams of an artist's life, she forages for food in the ever more desperate city. Likewise, Dunmore's lush, lyrical appreciation of life's comforts -- a fire in the hearth, jam on the tongue -- dwells in The Siege even amid the darkest despair. Before the siege is over, a mysterious ex-actress (Mikhail's onetime lover) and a gentle young doctor come to the Levins' frozen little apartment. Not all of the five will survive, but their struggle and their tragedy will ultimately bear hope for a new beginning. 

Helen Dunmore brilliantly shows us war as seen through the eyes of ordinary people "while bravely extending her range". The Siege is a profoundly moving celebration of love, life, and survival. 


Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan

Angel on the Square
by Gloria Whelan

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Series: St. Petersburg #1
Published: August 21st 2001)

Goodreads:

In the fall of 1914, safe behind palace walls, Katya Ivanova sees St. Petersburg as a magical place.The daughter of a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, Katya spends all her time with the Grand Duchesses; the royal family feels like her own. But outside the palace, a terrible war is sweeping through Europe, and Russia is beginning to crumble under the weight of a growing revolution. Now, as Katya's once-certain future begins to dissolve, she must seek to understand what is happening to her beloved country and, for the first time in her life, take charge of her own destiny.

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Reading Around the World: Mongolia

Reading Around the World- Mongolia.png

Counting down to Mongolia.  Again. I still remember that feeling I had in my stomach the day before I moved there.  It was this weird combination of terror, uncertainty, and exhilaration.  I had downsized my possessions and shipped four boxes ahead of me. It was going to be my first time in Asia, my first time living permanently abroad, and my first time teaching in an international school.  Nine years and four countries later I have picked up a German husband and after a bit of continent hopping am back in Asia.

I haven't been back since I moved to Germany in 2010. It is going to be interesting to see what has and hasn't changed. 


I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson cover

I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade
by Diane Lee Wilson

 

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Series: no
Published: September 8th 1999
Rating: Good, but I wish it was own-voices

“When happiness settles upon you like a butterfly, sit very quiet and remember the colors” 

Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongolia by Ted Lewin cover

Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongolia
by Ted Lewin

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Series: no
Published:  March 1st 2007
Rating: All things Mongolian

 


Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford cover

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
by Jack Weatherford

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Series:
Published:
Rating: No exaggeration

“If you can't swallow your pride, you can't lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.” 

 


Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia by Stephen J. Bodio cover

Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia
by Stephen J. Bodio

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Series: no
Published: December 1st 2003
Rating: Eventually bought a copy for my dad

"Before we departed on horseback, Kazna and the other women grabbed me in embrace, kissing my cheeks in affection. The language barrier hadn’t eliminated our ability to communicate our feelings." 

Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, Robert Uhlig

Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
by Ewan McGregorCharley BoormanRobert Uhlig 

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Series: no
Published: October 1st 2004
Rating: Meh, celebrities.

 

 


Live from Mongolia: From Wall Street Banker to Mongolian News Anchor by Patricia Sexton cover

Live from Mongolia: From Wall Street Banker to Mongolian News Anchor
by Patricia Sexton 

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Series: no
Published: October 21st 2013
Rating: I haven't read this one yet

"Back then, no one had thought she could hack it on a trading floor, and here she was now, a managing director and one of the most powerful women at Credit Suisse. I’d have to work hard to follow in her footsteps. Only thing was, that’s just what I didn’t want to do."

The Khan's Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale by Laurence Yep cover

The Khan's Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale
by Laurence Yep

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Series: no
Published: March 1st 1997

 


Mongolia: Travels in the Untamed Land by Jasper Becker cover

Mongolia: Travels in the Untamed Land
by Jasper Becker

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Series: no
Published: May 21st 1992

 


Mongolia's Nomads: Life on the Steppe by Jack Weatherford (Introduction) and Nina Wegner

Mongolia's Nomads: Life on the Steppe
by Jack Weatherford (Introduction) and Nina Wegner

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Series: no
Published: November 12th 2013
Rating:


Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh cover

Hearing Birds Fly
by Louisa Waugh

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Series: no
Published: January 23rd 2003


 

 

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Read Around the World: Buffalo

Around the World: Buffalo cover

There is a sad sad lack of books written about or set in Buffalo.  Hey, we are cool!


Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler cover

Bittersweet
by Sarah Ockler 

 

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Series: no
Published: January 3rd 2012
Rating: Full review of Bittersweet

“Would 'sorry' have made any difference? Does it ever? It's just a word. One word against a thousand actions.” 

City of Light by Lauren Belfer cover

City of Light
by Lauren Belfer 

 

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Series: no
Published: 1999
Rating: home sweet home

“In those days, Buffalo was flush in an era of extraordinary economic prosperity and civic optimism. The city had become the most important inland port in America because of its pivotal location at the eastern end of the Great Lakes. Indeed, at the turn of our century, Buffalo had taken its place among the great cities of the United States.” 

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates cover

The Falls
by Joyce Carol Oates

 

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Series: no
Published: 2004

“What puzzled me was why I seemed to be so troubled by all these irregularities and exceptions to major rules while others blithely marched ahead.” 

City on the Edge: Buffalo, New York, 1900 - Present by Mark Goldman cover

City on the Edge: Buffalo, New York, 1900 - Present
by Mark Goldman

 

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Series: no
Published: March 20th 2007
Rating: Probably outdated as the last five years have seen some heavy development in Buffalo.  Finally.

"I was becoming increasingly frustrated and disappointed by public officials who, distracted by the lure of big-money, money, "silver-bullet" projects, failed to recognize the incredible power that local people working on small, local projects can have on the life of a community. But despite the shortsighted leadership of local politicians, we have lost neither our faith in ourselves nor our faith in our community. We remain committed to doing the work that we know will heal and renew this city that we love."


High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York by Mark Goldman cover

High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York
by Mark Goldman

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Series: no
Published: 1983)
Rating:


City on the Lake by Mark Goldman cover

City on the Lake
by Mark Goldman

 

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Series: no
Published: June 1st 1990
Rating: Apparently, only one man write about Buffalo

"The 1970s were a difficult time for Buffalo. Everything was unraveling, particularly for those of us who lived here...There was a blizzard too, the worst in history... Struck by a barrage of steady blows, those who could left. By the tens of thousands they moved away, from the streets and neighborhoods, from the city, from the region, now commonly and condescendingly referred to as the "Rust Belt."

Power Failure: Politics, Patronage, and the Economic Future of Buffalo, New York by Diana Dillaway cover

Power Failure: Politics, Patronage, and the Economic Future of Buffalo, New York
by Diana Dillaway

 

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Series: no
Published: April 4th 2006

"Effective leaders bring people together around a common cause or problem, listen to opposing points of view, and seek consensus whenever possible. Leadership takes courage and a willingness to risk change."


Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology by Jody K. Biehl cover

Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology
by Jody K. Biehl

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Series: no
Published: December 1st 2016

"Buffalo’s secret is that it’s secretly great. Not for everyone, of course, and not across racial divides, and sometimes, literally, as many authors point out, not east of Main Street."

Has anyone found any other books?  I had a terrible time filling this list up!

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