As I tried to decide how to handle the multiple bird sightings in the books, I chuckled to myself that I could compile a “life list.” And then I stopped chuckling and realized that was actually ideal. Birding life lists are often broken down by geographic regions such as state. The table below can be […]

I’ve decided – I’m reading my way across the United States. Three to five books set in each state of the US – especially books where the setting becomes another character, and those which deal with some aspect of the people, geography, or history of the state.

Oof. This is not my cup of tea… or shot of whisky. There’s a reason I don’t read horror books. I’m not exactly squeamish, but I don’t really enjoy an excess of violence. That said, I’d rather read a book like this than watch the movie of it. Did it have a great sense of […]

Wow! If you want a good look at race relations in the 1930s, this is your book. It takes place in the Sabine River bottoms–which occupy several hundred miles along the border between Louisiana and Texas, south of Shreveport to just north of the Gulf of Mexico. Somewhere I read that the Sabine also marks […]

I’ve never been a fan of horror. But I have enjoyed several of Stephen King’s forays outside the genre. This is one I’ll add to that list. King says he got the idea and started writing it in the early days of his career but quickly realized he didn’t have the time or the skills […]

Texas. The Lone Star State. The Alamo. Oil. Guns. Football. Border politics. Where do we start? My husband and I drove with my sister-in-law from California to the east coast along the southern route late one fall sometime in the early to mid-’00s. On that trip we drove across Interstate 20, through Abilene, Dallas, and […]

This book is a wonderful look at the Trail of Tears! It’s told in little vignettes from multiple points of view, and it follows one group of Cherokee from the moment the soldiers show up at their small village to remove them. We hear most often from Maritole, but we also get little snippets from […]

I’m not sure what happened with this one. It was a great one for setting–Frazier gives us some fabulous descriptions of North Carolina. And it’s not just the area around Cold Mountain itself–Inman walks away from the hospital where he is recovering, across much of the state. But I lost interest in the story pretty […]

This was an accidental choice, but it’s turned out to be a fairly happy accident. Which is a bit of a coincidence, as the book was accidentally announced as a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Despite the error having been made internally, Myracle had to withdraw from the contest. […]

OOF! When I first tried this one, I just could not get into it. So I put it aside, figuring I’d find something else for North Carolina’s cities… and struck out on that front. So I went back to Redemption Road, and… well, it wasn’t quite as bad as before… but it wasn’t great. I’m […]

Well, I’m pretty mixed on this one. The writing was wonderful–descriptive, lush, full of emotions. I loved what Siddons did with the “abyss”–the ways in which we disguise our true selves, even from those we love the most. The way that Kate’s father reinvented himself–and his daughter–as true Southern aristocrats was masterfully written. But the […]

This one is a wonderful book for our challenge–the saltwater coastal marsh where Kya lives is a vibrant vital part of her life, and an integral part of the story. The marsh birds are present not just in their calls, but in their individual feathers and characteristics–some of them incredibly detailed: the crest feathers of […]