This was a fun, light read that brought to life a bit of history I was unfamiliar with–the Miss Subway promotional beauty contests that ran from 1941 to 1976. It will probably not go down as the best of our books for New York, but it got us off to a good start. I am […]

I’ve been putting off New York for a while now, but as I finished Hawaii, I decided to come back to the opposite end of the country–and to my roots. I was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York. I have family in the urban areas of upstate–Binghamton, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, […]

This was a last minute addition, and I’m really glad I found it–Casanova does a really nice job with the northern Minnesota setting in her Young Adult novel Frozen. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books from each state, with an emphasis on setting–books where the setting is really tangible, and […]

One of the strengths of this book–at least for me in terms of our reading challenge–is the acknowledged contrast between Chicago and the small town of Cypress, north of Duluth, Minnesota. Several times it’s noted that Cathryn’s infidelity would hardly be noticed in Chicago, but in Cypress she, and even those who associate with her–like […]

Wow! If Run by Ann Patchett was the best pick for (somewhat) contemporary Boston (1990s), then Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks was the clear winner for historical Massachusetts, covering Martha’s Vineyard and Cambridge. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books from each state, with an emphasis on those where the setting […]

Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran (2013) was a really good book; it was well-written and an engaging story. I very much enjoyed it, and I’m glad I read it. However, the setting wasn’t really that important to the story. I’m reading my way across the USA, with a focus on books that really help […]

So Far From God, by Ana Castillo is, on one level, a modern retelling of the story of the Christian saints Faith, Hope, and Charity–the martyred daughters of Sophia–reworked into the American southwest. On the surface it’s a tale of strong women who rise above the men who abandon them or treat them brutally–much as […]

There are no birds in The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages, but there is a lot to like. As a depiction of Los Alamos during the end stage development of the atomic bomb, it does surprisingly well. None of the characters can really talk about the project openly, but there is still the sense […]

One of the things that made The Atomic Weight of Love come alive was Elizabeth J. Church’s use of music, books, movies, advertisements, and television to fully realize the time setting of the novel. In addition to the expected war news tidbits, numerous times Church refers to the release of a book or movie to […]

I was a bit torn in my reaction to the bird aspects of The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church. The author acknowledges that while she is a birder she is more interested in behavior than species identification and that certainly comes through in Meridian’s character as well. There are occasional comments about […]