My dad is a history buff, and one of his areas of interest is the conflicts between Native Americans and the pioneers and settlers who took over their land. He always takes the side of the Native Americans. One of his heroes is the great Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph, who led the United States […]

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! Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph (2013) was phenomenal for my reading challenge. I’m reading my way across the USA, focusing on books with a strong sense of place that help me “get to know” each state–the landscape, the people, the culture, the history. Haven’s Wake was a perfect choice for Nebraska. That year the […]

John Nichols knows his New Mexico birds. There’s a good list of birds seen in The Milagro Beanfield War, starting with the flock of nesting killdeer that feature in the opening scene of the book with one of the town’s historic figures, Cleofes Apodaca. There are both literal and figurative buzzards (turkey vultures) and zopilotes (black […]

There aren’t very many birds in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, but the ones that are mentioned are more than just background fluff. Around the time Sofi decides to run for la mayor of Tome, it’s mentioned that a gringo has bought some land nearby and is raising peacocks. One of the things […]

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 […]

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 […]

Since one of the main characters – that of Sophie, Colonel Allen Forrester’s wife – is an amateur naturalist and interested in birds in particular, To the Bright Edge of the World is a treasure trove of bird sightings. Moreover, there are a number of birds that play important roles in the story, both recurring […]

The Camp Robber – What a great name! This is one of the first birds that plays an important role in To the Bright Edge of the World, by Eowyn Ivey, and it’s one I hadn’t heard of before – at least not with that particular common name. When I started looking into this bird I […]

I have a confession to make – I’m a birder. I keep a life list of all the birds I’ve seen. When I visit someplace new, my first purchase is usually a local bird book. I get excited about seeing a “lifer” – a bird I’ve never seen before. This hobby started rather haphazardly when […]