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 

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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

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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)

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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 

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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)

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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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