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countrylife's Country - in books

Fifty States Fiction (or Nonfiction) Challenge

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1countrylife
Edited: Aug 28, 2009, 2:43pm Top

Wonderful suggestions throughout this group! While looking at books to fit in this challenge, I decided to keep a list of my potential choices here. I'm putting no touchstones here in my books-to-be-considered list. My next post shows actual reading progress; finished books will be touchstoned there.

Alabama
............... Singing Hands by Delia Ray (fiction)
............... A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (fiction)
............... Run Away Home by Patricia C. McKissack (fiction)
............... A World Made of Fire by Mark Childress (fiction)
............... The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer (fiction)
............... Out of the Night That Covers Me by Pat Cunningham Devoto (fiction)
............... Island of Saints: A Story of the One Principle That Frees the Human Spirit by Andy Andrews (fiction)
............... All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw by Theodore Rosengarten (non-fiction)
............... Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller (non-fiction)
Alaska
............... Alaska by James Michener (historical fiction)
............... Father of the Iditarod - The Joe Reddington Story by Lew Freedman (non-fiction)
............... The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller (non-fiction)
............... One Man's Wilderness by Sam Keith from the journals and photographs of Richard Proenneke (non-fiction)
............... More Readings From One Man's Wilderness by Richard L. Proenneke (non-fiction)
............... Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness by Robert Specht (non-fiction)
Arizona
............... These is My Words by Nancy Turner (historical fiction)
............... Grand Ambition: A Novel by Lisa Michaels (fiction)
............... Letters from Wupatki by Courtney Reeder Jones (non-fiction)
............... Miss Lulu's Legacy by Stephen Shadegg (non-fiction)
Arkansas
............... Summer of my German soldier by Bette Greene (fiction)
............... On Tall Pine Lake by Dorothy Garlock (fiction)
............... The Queen of October by Shelley Fraser Mickle (fiction)
............... The Branch and the Scaffold by Loren D. Estleman (hanging judge) (historical fiction)
............... The Boys on the Tracks by Mara Leveritt (non-fiction)
............... deep'n as it come: The 1927 Mississippi River Flood by Pete Daniel (non-fiction)
California
............... The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist (historical fiction)
............... Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (historical fiction)
............... The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (fiction)
............... Disaster! The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 by Dan Kurzman (non-fiction)
............... American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California by James N. Gregory (non-fiction)
Colorado
............... The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf (fiction)
............... Plainsong by Kent Haruf (fiction)
............... Centennial by James A. Michener (historical fiction)
............... The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (fiction)
............... The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas (historical fiction)
............... Etta: A Novel by Gerald Kolpan (historical fiction)
............... Art in America: A Novel by Ron McLarty (fiction)
............... Men to Match My Mountains: The Opening of the Far West, 1840-1900 by Irving Stone (non-fiction)
............... Doc Susie by Virginia Cornell (non-fiction)
............... Bent's Fort by David Lavender (non-fiction)
Connecticut
............... The Judges' Cave by Margaret Sidney (historical novel)
............... The Hatbox Letters: A Novel by Beth Powning (Fiction)
............... They Did It with Love by Kate Morgenroth (fiction)
............... The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper (fiction)
............... The Cold Blue Blood: A Berger and Mitry Mystery by David Handler (fiction)
............... Arsenic Under the Elms by Virginia A. McConnell (historical fiction)
............... The Way of Duty: A Woman and Her Family in Revolutionary America by Joy Day Buel (non-fiction)
............... The Stillmeadow Road by Gladys Taber (memoir)
............... The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence… by Suzanne Jurmain (non-fiction)
Delaware
............... The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellani (fiction)
............... True Justice by Robert K. Tanenbaum (fiction)
............... Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life by Joan D. Hedrick (non-fiction)
............... The Brandywine by Henry Seidel Canby (non-fiction)
............... Delaware (Portrait of America) by Kathleen Thompson (non-fiction)
Florida
............... The Story of a Whim by Grace Livingston Hill (fiction)
............... As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid (fiction)
............... Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman (fiction)
............... A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith (historical fiction)
............... Tales of Old Florida by Frank Oppel (non-fiction)
............... The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean (non-fiction)
............... Oranges by John McPhee (non-fiction)
Georgia
............... The Witch's Grave by Phillip DePoy (fiction)
............... The March by E.L. Doctorow (historical fiction)
............... Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War by Jacqueline Jones (non-fiction)
............... Everything She Ever Wanted by Ann Rule (non-fiction)
Hawaii
............... Hawaii by James A. Michener (historical fiction)
............... Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (historical fiction)
............... West of Then: A Mother, a Daughter, and a Journey Past Paradise by Tara Bray Smith (non-fiction)
............... Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz (non-fiction)
Idaho
............... Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (fiction)
............... Blue Heaven by C. J. Box (fiction)
............... The Big Burn by Jeanette Ingold (historical fiction)
............... Fire In the Hole! by Mary Cronk Farrell (historical fiction)
............... Haven by Irene Bennett Brown (historical fiction)
............... Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas (non-fiction)
Illinois
............... home safe by Elizabeth Berg (fiction)
............... The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair by Erik Larson (historical fiction)
............... So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell (fiction)
............... Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (historical fiction)
............... Twenty Years at Hull House by Jane Addams (memoir)
............... The Fair Women: The Story of the Woman's Building... by Jeanne Madeline Weimann (non-fiction)
Indiana
............... Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter (fiction)
............... A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter (fiction)
............... A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (historical fiction)
............... Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel (non-fiction)
............... How Dear to My Heart by Emily Kimbrough (non-fiction)
Iowa
............... The Linden Tree by Eleanor Mathews (fiction)
............... Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (fiction)
............... The Oxford Project by Stephen G. Bloom (non-fiction)
............... In No Time at All by Carl Hamilton (memoir)
............... We have all gone away by Curtis Harnack (memoir)
............... Frontierswomen : The Iowa Experience by Glenda Riley (non-fiction)
Kansas
............... Cloudsplitter: A Novel by Russell Banks (historical fiction)
............... The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty (fiction)
............... The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty (fiction)
............... The Devil's Paintbox by Victoria Mckernan (historical fiction)
............... A Promise for Spring by Kim Vogel Sawyer (fiction)
............... PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country by William Least Heat-Moon (non-fiction)
............... Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him by Pope Brock (non-fiction)
Kentucky
............... The Heart of the Hills by John Fox, Jr. (historical fiction)
............... Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins (historical fiction)
............... Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry (fiction)
............... Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan (non-fiction)
............... The Thread That Runs So True: A Mountain School Teacher Tells His Story by Jesse Stuart (non-fiction)
............... Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt (non-fiction)
............... Creeker: A Woman's Journey by Linda Scott DeRosier (memoir)
............... A Little Better Than Plumb by Mrs. Henry Giles (memoir)
Louisiana
............... Cane River by Lalita Tademy (fiction)
............... Keepsake Crimes (A Scrapbooking Mystery) by Laura Childs (fiction)
............... The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux (fiction)
............... Red River by Lalita Tademy (historical fiction)
............... The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller by John Bailey (non-fiction)
............... The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublette (non-fiction)
Maine
............... Grange House by Sarah Blake (fiction)
............... More Than You Know: A Novel by Beth Gutcheon (fiction)
............... A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (fiction)
............... Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan (fiction)
............... The Maine Woods by Henry David Thoreau (non-fiction)
............... Here If You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup (non-fiction)
............... A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (non-fiction)
............... We took to the woods by Louise Dickinson Rich (memoir)
............... The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw (memoir)
............... Roots in the Rock by Charles Child (memoir)
Maryland
............... Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler (fiction)
............... Mason's Retreat by Christopher Tilghman (fiction)
............... The Sand Castle by Rita Mae Brown (fiction)
............... Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (fiction)
............... Chesapeake by James A. Michener (historical fiction)
............... Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay by William W. Warner (non-fiction)
............... Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland… by Sally M. Walker (non-fiction)
............... My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass (memoir)
Massachusetts
............... Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman (fiction)
............... Wickett's Remedy: A Novel by Myla Goldberg (historical fiction)
............... The Winthrop Woman: A Novel by Anya Seton (historical fiction)
............... The Wayside: Home of Authors by Margaret Mulford Lothrop (memoir)
............... Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick (non-fiction)
............... Dark Tide: the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo (non-fiction)
Michigan
............... The Expeditions by Karl Iagnemma (fiction)
............... Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill (fiction)
............... The Loon Feather by Iola Fuller (fiction)
............... The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow (fiction)
............... Michigan: A History (States and the Nation) by Bruce Catton (non-fiction)
............... A Stronger Kinship: One Town's Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith by Anna-Lisa Cox (non-fiction)
............... The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid by Ken Silverstein (non-fiction)
............... Waiting for the Morning Train: An American Boyhood by Bruce Catton (non-fiction)
............... You Wouldn't Like it Here -- A Guide to the Real Upper Peninsula by Lon L. Emerick (non-fiction)
............... The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Frederick Stonehouse (non-fiction)
Minnesota
............... Letters from the Country by Carol Bly (fiction)
............... The Night Birds by Thomas Maltman (fiction)
............... The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg (fiction)
............... Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by Ole Edvart Rølvaag (fiction)
............... Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (fiction)
............... Early Candlelight by Maud Hart Lovelace (fiction)
............... Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons: A Novel by Lorna Landvik (fiction)
............... Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik (fiction)
............... Night Sins by Tami Hoag (fiction)
............... The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Regiment by Richard Moe (non-fiction)
............... Canoeing with the Cree by Eric Sevareid (non-fiction)
Mississippi
............... The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (fiction)
............... New Mercies by Sandra Dallas (fiction)
............... So Red the Rose by Stark Young (fiction)
............... The War Within: A Novel of the Civil War by Carol Matas (historical fiction)
............... How I Found the Strong by Margaret McMullan (historical fiction)
............... Devil's Backbone: Story of the Natchez Trace by Jonathan Daniels (non-fiction)
............... Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy & Its… by John Philip Colletta (non-fiction)
............... Threading The Generations: A Mississippi Family's Quilt Legacy by Mary Elizabeth Johnson (non-fiction)
Missouri
............... The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton (fiction)
............... The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney (fiction)
............... The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright (fiction)
............... Colonial Ste. Genevieve by Carl J. Ekberg (non-fiction)
............... On Shaky Ground: The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812 by Norma Hayes Bagnall (non-fiction)
............... A Country Year: Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell (non-fiction)
Montana
............... Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (fiction)
............... The Big Sky by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. (fiction)
............... Bad Land: An American Romance by Jonathan Raban (non-fiction)
............... Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness by Pete Fromm (non-fiction)
Nebraska
............... A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich (historical fiction)
............... Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix (historical fiction)
............... The Children's Blizzard (P.S.) by David Laskin (non-fiction)
............... It's Not the End of the Earth, but You Can See It from Here by Roger Welsch (non-fiction)
............... Old Jules by Mari Sandoz (non-fiction)
Nevada
............... Boulder Dam by Zane Grey (fiction)
............... Rabbit Boss by Thomas Sanchez (fiction)
............... Comstock Lode by Louis L'Amour (fiction)
............... The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America by Sally Denton (non-fiction)
............... Mountain City by Gregory Martin (non-fiction)
............... Hoover Dam by Joseph E. Stevens (non-fiction)
............... Fifty Miles From Home: Riding The Long Circle On A Nevada Family Ranch by Linda Dufurrena (non-fiction)
New Hampshire
............... Light on Snow by Anita Shreve (fiction)
............... Look to the Mountain by LeGrand Cannon (fiction)
............... The Sin Eater by Gary D. Schmidt (fiction)
............... A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos (fiction)
............... Here at Eagle Pond by Donald Hall (non-fiction)
New Jersey
............... Dancing in the Dark by Mary Jane Clark (fiction)
............... The Woods by Harlan Coben (fiction)
............... Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer (non-fiction)
............... Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson (non-fiction)
............... Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence by Michael Capuzzo (non-fiction)
New Mexico
............... Blind Descent by Nevada Barr (fiction)
............... The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook (fiction)
............... The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas (fiction)
............... The Staircase by Ann Rinaldi (fiction)
............... The Bonewalker by Kathleen O'Neal Gear (fiction)
............... The Delight Makers by Adolph Francis Alphonse Bandelier (historical fiction)
............... The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos by Peggy Pond Church (non-fiction)
............... Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides (non-fiction)
............... The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out by David Roberts (non-fiction)
New York
............... City of Dreams: A Novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan by Beverly Swerling (fiction)
............... A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (fiction)
............... Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien (historical fiction)
............... The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress by Carol Sheriff (non-fiction)
............... The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky (non-fiction)
North Carolina
............... Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell (fiction)
............... My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams (fiction)
............... On Agate Hill by Lee Smith (historical fiction)
............... Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America by David Stick (non-fiction)
............... Orlean Puckett: The Life of a Mountain Midwife, 1844-1939 by Karen Cecil Smith (non-fiction)
North Dakota
............... Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (fiction)
............... The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (fiction)
............... Nothing to Do But Stay by Carrie Young (non-fiction)
............... What I Think I Did by Larry Woiwode (non-fiction)
Ohio
............... That Dark and Bloody River by Allan W. Eckert (historical fiction)
............... The Frontiersmen by Allan W. Eckert (historical fiction)
............... And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer (fiction)
............... Matters of Chance by Jeanette Haien (fiction)
............... Betty Zane by Zane Grey (historical fiction)
............... The Trees by Conrad Richter (historical fiction)
............... Family by Ian Frazier (non-fiction)
............... The Frontiersmen by Allan W. Eckert (non-fiction)
Oklahoma
............... Pretty Boy Floyd by Larry McMurtry (historical fiction)
............... The Mercy Seat by Rilla Askew (fiction)
............... Wild Harvest: a Novel of Transition Days in Oklahoma by John Oskison (historical fiction)
............... Tucker Knob Mountain by Jay Boggs (memoir)
............... Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz (memoir)
............... The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (non-fiction)
Oregon
............... The Shack by William P. Young (fiction)
............... The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss (fiction)
............... The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Mystical Nature Diary of… by Opal Whiteley (non-fiction)
............... Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds by Chris Chester (non-fiction)
Pennsylvania
............... The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini (fiction)
............... Julie by Catherine Marshall (fiction)
............... Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey by Rachel Simon (fiction)
............... Friends and Enemies in Penn's Woods by William Pencak (non-fiction)
............... Into the American Woods by James H. Merrell (non-fiction)
Rhode Island
............... I, Roger Williams by Mary Lee Settle (historical fiction)
............... The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood (fiction)
............... All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes by Elisha Hunt Rhodes (non-fiction)
............... Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 by R.A. Scotti (non-fiction)
South Carolina
.............. Sweetgrass by Mary Alice Monroe (fiction)
.............. Beach Music by Pat Conroy (fiction)
.............. Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank (fiction)
.............. Last Light over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe (fiction)
.............. The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi (fiction)
.............. Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution... by Ann Rinaldi (Historical fiction)
.............. Just Jane: A Daughter of England Caught in the Struggle… by William Lavender (historical fiction)
.............. Grimke' Sisters from South Carolina… by Gerda Lerner (non-fiction)
.............. A Piece of the Fox's Hide by Katharine Boling (non-fiction)
.............. A Family of Women: The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War by Jane H. Pease (non-fiction)
.............. A Woman Doctor's Civil War: Esther Hill Hawks' Diary Gerald Schwartz (non-fiction)
South Dakota
............... Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers (fiction)
............... The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber (fiction)
............... The Indian Agent by Dan O'Brien (historical fiction)
............... Old Indian legends by Zitkala-Sa (folklore)
............... Lakota Woman by Mary Brave Bird (non-fiction)
............... The Carving of Mount Rushmore by Rex Alan Smith (non-fiction)
............... "I Remember Laura": Laura Ingalls Wilder by Stephen W. Hines (non-fiction)
............... Son of the Morning Star by Evan S. Connell (non-fiction)
Tennessee
............... The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks (historical fiction)
............... Christy by Catherine Marshall (fiction)
............... Hearts of Stone by Kathleen Ernst (fiction)
............... Hallam's War by Elisabeth Payne Rosen (historical fiction)
............... The Raven's Bride by Elizabeth Crook (historical fiction)
............... The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War by Howard Bahr (historical fiction)
............... The Cades Cove Story by A. Randolph Shields (non-fiction)
............... The Jew Store by Stella Suberman (non-fiction)
............... The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever… by Molly Caldwell Crosby (non-fiction)
Texas
............... True Women by Janice Woods Windle (historical fiction)
............... Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (fiction)
............... Track of the cat by Nevada Barr (fiction)
............... The Color of Lightning: A Novel by Paulette Jiles (historical fiction)
............... Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach (non-fiction)
............... Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers by Robert M. Utley (non-fiction)
............... The Liars' Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr (non-fiction)
............... Nine Years Among the Indians by Herman Lehmann (nonfiction)
............... Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle… by H.W. Brands (non-fiction)
............... Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (non-fiction)
Utah
............... The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman (fiction)
............... The Key-Lock Man by Louis L'Amour (fiction)
............... Heartbreaker by Karen Robards (fiction)
............... Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (non-fiction)
............... Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery by Edward Dolnick (non-fiction)
Vermont
............... The Secret History by Donna Tartt (fiction)
............... Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (fiction)
............... In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent (historical fiction)
............... The World Below by Sue Miller (fiction)
............... Reading the Mountains of Homeby John Elder (non-fiction)
............... Vermont Afternoons With Robert Frost by Vrest Orton (non-fiction)
............... Bag Balm and Duct Tape: Tales of a Vermont Doctor by Beach Md Conger (memoir)
Virginia
............... Two Gentlemen of Virginia by George Cary Eggleston (fiction)
............... Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (fiction)
............... Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells (historical fiction)
............... Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser (historical fiction)
............... Defend The Valley: A Shenandoah Family in the Civil War by Margaretta Barton Colt (non-fiction)
............... Five Sisters: The Langhornes of Virginia by James Fox (non-fiction)
............... Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New… by David A. Price (non-fiction)
............... The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company: A Story of George… by Charles Royster (non-fiction)
............... Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder by Jack Mclaughlin (non-fiction)
............... Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma: The American Portraits Series… by Camilla Townsend (non-fiction)
............... Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground by Peter Svenson (non-fiction)
............... Here Lies Virginia: An Archaeologist's View of Colonial Life and History by Ivor Noël Hume (non-fiction)
............... Jamestown, the Buried Truth by William M. Kelso (non-fiction)
............... Land As God Made It: Jamestown And the Birth of America by James P. P. Horn (non-fiction)
............... Williamsburg Before and After: The Rebirth of Virginia's Colonial Capital by George Humphrey Yetter (non-fiction)
............... A window on Williamsburg by Taylor Lewis (non-fiction)
............... Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (non-fiction)
Washington
............... East of the Mountains by David Guterson (fiction)
............... Courting Emma Howe by Margaret Robinson (fiction)
............... Quilt as Desired by Arlene Sachitano (fiction)
............... Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie (fiction)
............... Washington Avalanche, 1910 by Cameron Dokey (historical fiction)
............... Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen (non-fiction)
............... Winter Brothers: A Season at the Edge of America by Ivan Doig (memoir)
............... Footprints in the Ash by John D. Morris (nonfiction)
............... Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography by June Burn (non-fiction)
............... Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto (non-fiction)
West Virginia
............... Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina (historical fiction)
............... Follow the River by James Alexander Thom (historical fiction)
............... The Midwife's Tale by Gretchen Moran Laskas (fiction)
............... Ludie's Life by Cynthia Rylant (fiction)
............... Sins of the 7th Sister by Huston Curtiss (memoir)
............... The Coalwood Way by Homer Hickam (memoir)
Wisconsin
............... Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwartz (fiction)
............... Keeping the House by Ellen Baker (fiction)
............... A reliable wife by Robert Goolrick (fiction)
............... Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders by William R. Drennan (non-fiction)
............... The Poison Widow: A True Story of Sin, Strychnine, and Murder by Linda S. Godfrey (non-fiction)
............... Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry (memoir)
Wyoming
............... The Virginian. A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister (fiction)
............... Angels Fall by Nora Roberts (fiction)
............... The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (fiction)
............... An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg (fiction)
............... Where Rivers Change Direction by Mark Spragg (non-fiction)
............... Rising from the Plains by John McPhee (non-fiction)
............... The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich (memoir)
Washington, D.C.
............... The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos (fiction)
............... Democracy: An American Novel by Henry Adams (fiction)
............... Mary by Janis Cooke Newman (fiction)
............... The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller (fiction)
............... Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington,… by Scott W. Berg (non-fiction)
............... The First Ladies by Margaret Brown Klapthor (non-fiction)
............... The Dawn's Early Light by Walter Lord (non-fiction)
............... On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the…by John Young Cole (non-fiction)
AND:
............... American Places: Encounters with History by William E. Leuchtenburg (non-fiction)

2countrylife
Edited: Apr 22, 2010, 9:42am Top

Tracking my progress toward completing the challenge:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
............... These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (historical fiction)
............... Timeline by Michael Crichton (fiction)
Arkansas
............... On Tall Pine Lake by Dorothy Garlock (fiction)
California
............... Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende (historical fiction)
Colorado
Connecticut
............... The Judges' Cave by Margaret Sidney (historical fiction)
Delaware
Florida
............... Marley & Me by John Grogan (memoir)
Georgia
............... Savannah by Eugenia Price (historical fiction)
............... Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation by John Ehle (non fiction)
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
............... home safe by Elzabeth Berg (fiction)
Indiana
Iowa
............... Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (fiction)
............... Dear Mrs. Lindbergh by Kathleen Hughes (fiction)
Kansas
............... The Unplowed Sky by Jeanne Williams (historical fiction)
Kentucky
............... A Little Better Than Plumb by Henry Giles (memoir)
............... The Heart of the Hills by John Fox, Jr. (historical novel)
............... Shadow of Ashland by Terence M. Green (fiction)
Louisiana
............... Red River by Lalita Tademy (historical fiction)
............... Luke's Passage by Max Davis (fiction)
Maine
............... Windswept by Mary Ellen Chase (fiction)
Maryland
............... Chesapeake by James Michener (historical fiction)
............... Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (fiction)
Massachusetts
............... Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman (fiction)
............... Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (historical fiction)
............... Covenant of Grace by Jane Gilmore Rushing (historical fiction)
............... Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi (historical fiction)
Michigan
Minnesota
............... So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger (fiction)
Mississippi
Missouri
............... Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles (historical fiction)
Montana
............... Death in Yellowstone by Lee H. Whittlesey (non-fiction)
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
............... Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (fiction)
............... The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage (fiction)
............... The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner (fiction)
North Carolina
North Dakota
............... Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (fiction)
Ohio
Oklahoma
............... Tucker Knob Mountain by Jay Boggs (memoir)
Oregon
............... The Shack by William P. Young (fiction)
Pennsylvania
............... The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss (historical fiction)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
............... Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank (fiction)
South Dakota
Tennessee
............... The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks (historical fiction)
Texas
............... True Women by Janice Woods Windle (historical fiction)
............... The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles (historical fiction)
............... Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles (historical fiction)
............... Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist (historical fiction)
Utah
............... Heartbreaker by Karen Robards (fiction)
Vermont
............... In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent (fiction)
............... The Strength of the Hills by Elswyth Thane (memoir)
Virginia
Washington
............... Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (fiction)
West Virginia
Wisconsin
............... Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz (fiction)
............... White Coat Wisdom by Stephen J. Busalacchi (nonfiction)
Wyoming
............... Dream Country by Luanne Rice (contemporary fiction)
Washington, D. C.
............... Mary by Janis Cooke Newman (historical fiction)

3countrylife
Edited: Jul 21, 2009, 2:25pm Top

I've had a lovely time browsing through the books mentioned in these various threads, and others found through tag searches, choosing the books that appeal to me, and building a list of potential reads (in message 1, above). Next - off to the library to see what I can find. My very first reading challenge. This is fun!

4countrylife
Jul 23, 2009, 11:56am Top

Because I happened to be mid-way through Death in Yellowstone when this challenge appeared, I decided to use that as my Montana book.

This challenge was just the impetus I needed to start reviewing my books. I will go back and review the other 5 recent reads which I plugged into this challenge, but this book is now my very first review. Since some of the participants here are adding their resulting reviews into their Fifty States journey threads, I decided to do the same.

5countrylife
Jul 23, 2009, 11:56am Top

Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, by Lee H. Whittlesey

I wish I had read this book before our family vacation in Montana. Though we had no problems during our visit to Yellowstone, I would have exercised even more caution. After reading this book, you know: mis-steps CAN happen.

This book chronicles more than 300 deaths which have occurred at Yellowstone Park. Some stories are short; some only one-line, especially the older ones with little original documentation. Some stories are given more attention by the author, including some which involved the courts, in this way showing the reader that the end result is that the Park visitor takes his own life into his hands when entering Wilderness. The book is broken into two parts. Death by Nature covers death by hot springs, wild animals and plants, lightning, falling rocks and trees, forest fires, drowning, falls and such. The chapters in Death by Man cover fights, suicides, murders, Indian battles, road and air deaths, etc. (He does not include automobile or snowmobile deaths that would “probably add another couple of hundred”.) Appendices include a chronology of the deaths, information about the various cemeteries, and extensive notes on source documents. Each chapter chronicles the deaths involved in that fashion, ending with lessons to be gleaned.

From the introduction: “Why would anyone write a book like this? The obvious answers are these: there are illuminating safety lessons to be learned, there is fascinating history in the stories, and there are legal ramifications for park managers. Certainly the stories are heartwrenching. But they teach us.”

The author has done his job well, researching the events, compiling the stories in a thoughtful manner, and, with the knowledge coming from his past association with the Park, and his personal experience, drawing conclusions and offering safety rules pertinent to each category. (My rating: 4 stars.)

I found most interesting the chapters about lightning (eerie history of lightning in sections of the park, at least 5 fatalities); the hot springs (at least 19 fatalities, over 100 injuries); and the water (more than 100 fatalities), including Yellowstone lake (at least 39 persons having drowned in just that one lake, with 17 unrecovered, leading to the rumor that “Yellowstone Lake never gives up its dead”). On Yellowstone Lake, the forces that combine to cause so many drownings are sudden, violent storms capsizing boats, and the frigid water (45 degrees) which swimmers inevitably succumb to.

As the author concludes, “…while we are loving the Yellowstone wilderness, while we play in it, indeed revel in it, taking it on its own terms and helping to protect it, we foolish mortals must always remember to respect it. For not only can it bite us, but, indeed, it can devour us.”

The tragedy which most unsettled me happened to a family whose children were the same age as some of ours were the summer that we visited Yellowstone, our youngest then being a very active 9 year old. This family was walking along the boardwalk viewing the hot pools, the parents walking in front, followed by their 9 year-old son, with their 15 year old daughter and her friend behind. The father heard him say, “I wonder if this water really is hot?”. The girls saw him turn and run toward the hot spring, and, with his arms over his head, he jumped in. “The last glimpse his mother had of him was seeing his rigid stark-white face, the mark of his pain and apprehension of death, sinking into the boiling water.”

It haunts me yet.

6cbl_tn
Jul 24, 2009, 9:45pm Top

Good review, countrylife! It makes me wonder if there is a similar book for my local National Park (Great Smoky Mountains). Since our local media covers park news, I've always been aware of the types of accidents that occur in the park. I've never really thought about the number of tourists who visit every year who wouldn't have any idea of the potential dangers.

I remember a lot of media coverage years ago about a child who was lost in the Park and was never found. It scared me since I was just a couple of years younger than this boy, and I was careful never to let an adult out of my sight any time we went to the Smokies after that.

7countrylife
Jul 28, 2009, 9:48am Top

cbl_tn/6: I've never been to the Smokies, but keep thinking 'someday'. Your comments make me wonder what it was like for the early settlers. A mother turning around to find her child has wandered off, but unlike now, no search and rescue, no modern roads, or means of transportation, and more Wilderness.

That leads me to remember a book we (when the children were young) found at the library about a young child who was lost in the woods and kept safe by a bear (non-fiction!). I'm just OCD enough that, not being able to remember (or find via Search) its title, I took it to the Name that Book group. A n y w a y . . .

The folks at the Reviews Reviewed group helped me fine-tune my first ever-review, which I edited this morning. While I was on the page for Death in Yellowstone, I checked its recommendations. One thing leading to another, these similar books (but nothing exactly in the same vein) turned up with tags for the Smokies:

Unsolved Disappearances in the Great Smoky Mountains by Juanitta Baldwin
Lost!: A Ranger's Journal of Search and Rescue by Ronald Schmidt
Death, Daring, & Disaster - Search and Rescue in the National Parks by Charles R. "Butch" Farabee Jr. (touchstone not working)

8cbl_tn
Jul 28, 2009, 8:05pm Top

>7 countrylife: Those books look interesting, countrylife! I've added the Baldwin book to my wishlist. I found the table of contents online and saw that one of its chapters is about the boy I mentioned in message 6.

The Smokies must have been a difficult place to live. The children's stones in the cemeteries on the Cades Cove loop road tell a sad story.

The Smoky Mountains are a beautiful place to visit. I hope you get to see them one day!

9countrylife
Aug 9, 2009, 2:59pm Top

Oregon - Review: The Shack by William P. Young.

It was my own fault. I knew I’d be away from home all day, yet had forgotten to throw a fresh book in my bag. So, in a hurry at the store, I just grabbed a book that looked like it might be a decent read. Chosen in haste, “to repent at leisure”, as the saying goes. Well, at least it was a fast read.

Pros: The setting seemed well drawn; I felt as though I walked in Oregon.

Cons: Everything Else.

Starting with a sad premise, some say that this book will help you deal with grief, or bring you closer to God. If you are looking for God, I would recommend Christianity. If you do have a religion, there will be recommended books that would help you deal with grief. This story is nothing but a mishmash of warm-fuzzies and greeting-card platitudes that the author tried to put skin on. There is no substance. The anti-Biblical ramblings bothered me too much to be able to “enjoy” the book.

10thornton37814
Aug 9, 2009, 3:55pm Top

There has been so much hype about that book. I had wondered if I was "missing out" because the descriptions and reviews of the book just didn't grab me. I'm glad I read your comments here because now I know that my initial impressions were correct. It sounds like they are searching for God in al the wrong places. That's how I felt about Eat, Pray, Love that I picked up at an airport when I ran out of books on a trip, and there weren't a lot of books from which to choose.

11RidgewayGirl
Aug 9, 2009, 4:05pm Top

Ah, The Shack. I've been given a copy of this book and have had it sitting around for months, but pulled it off my TBR pile today and set it gently in my pile of books to send to new homes. I feel better already!

12countrylife
Aug 9, 2009, 5:22pm Top

Yeah. Don't waste your time. Wish I hadn't wasted my money!

13countrylife
Aug 9, 2009, 5:24pm Top

Kentucky - Review: A Little Better Than Plumb – Janice Holt Giles and Henry Giles

My father builds log cabins. So, one of my recent gifts to him was an assortment of “old” books with a log cabin theme. When this book arrived in my mailbox, I thought, ah-hmm, it’s ~already~ used, anyway … so I read it before gifting it.

It was a thoroughly captivating little story. Part family history, part story of a house, part local flavor. On LT’s author pages, this book is attributed to Henry Giles, and though they were co-authors, most of the chapters were written by Janice. She has a lovely way of writing; folksy and warm. You finish the book feeling like part of the family.

It has been months since I finished the book, and … no longer have it on hand … so can’t refresh my memory for a more complete review. Bottom line, though, an enjoyable book; I recommend it.

And happy birthday, Papa!

14countrylife
Aug 10, 2009, 4:01pm Top

Texas. Review:

True Women by Janice Woods Windle

This book, being highly recommended in the Texas History group here at LT, became my Texas read for the Fifty States reading challenge. According to the folks in that group, this book came about as Mrs. Windle was putting together a book of family stories and recipes for her new daughter-in-law. In the process, she decided that the stories were too big for that little project and, in the end, they became THIS book. As Texans say, ‘everything is bigger in Texas’. The women in this author’s family certainly did big things. Their stories are so fascinating, that the book was made into a tv movie in 1997.

This book is a chronicle of Texas history, from the after-effects of the Alamo through World War II.

It is a painting of the Texas landscape where the different lady’s stories took place.

It is a genealogy, of sorts. I found myself often referring back to the photographs on the inside covers, which depict the branches of the author’s family tree.

It is, above all, a story of real women, realistically told.

I enjoyed this author’s writing. As a recent transplant to Texas, I intend to find more of her books to help me ‘catch up’ on my new state’s history in an enjoyable way. If you like historical fiction, get immersed in this book! Here’s what you can expect (from the first chapter):

“Vivid stories of the women in my family had been passed down mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter, aunt to niece, and even father to daughter, for six generations: stories about the widows of the Alamo and how Euphemia nearly died in the Runaway Scrape and how her sister Sarah outsmarted the Comanches, stories about the women in my family who lived and loved and died in a river of time reaching back to the Alamo and Sam Houston. They were great epic tales of war and adventure, love and murder, violence and redemption. …

Was Euphemia Texas really there when the Widows of Gonzales found refuge at Peach Creek and when Sam Houston’s rag-tag army routed Santa Anna at San Jacinto? Could she ride and shoot like a man? And how did she manage to survive a life constantly plagued by war and violence, by wild Comanches and dread Republicans? Did my great-grandmother Georgia Lawshe really risk her plantation running the Yankee cotton blockade and did she help her children kill the Yankee officer? Did Aunt Sweet really fire on the advancing Yankee column from the balcony of their home? Was another of my great-grandmothers, Bettie King , really left alone all night as a small girl to protect the bodies of her dead friends from a pack of hungry wolves? And did that wonderful cast of characters really pass through their lives and their homes: Thomas Jefferson, Sam Houston, Santa Anna, Juan Seguin, the Queen of Tuckabatchee, Robert E. Lee, Teddy Roosevelt, the Comanche chief Iron Jacket, General Henry McCullock, Pink Rosebud, Precious Honey Child, and Reverend Andrew Jackson Potter?

So I began my search for the daughters of Euphemia Texas. I revisited their homes and their graves. I pored through boxes of accumulated family documents and photographs brought out from under beds and down from attics. I interviewed surviving relatives, studied letters, diaries, maps, census records, death certificates, deeds, and land grants. I began to piece together an authentic version of the stories I’d heard as a child. In almost every detail, oral tradition and the historical record were identical.”

15sjmccreary
Aug 10, 2009, 4:51pm Top

This sounds like a wonderful book. Did you post this title on the Books of Texas thread?

16countrylife
Aug 11, 2009, 5:11pm Top

Done. Thanks, sjmccreary.

17countrylife
Aug 12, 2009, 10:30am Top

Illinois.
home safe by Elizabeth Berg

This story is set in Oak Park in Chicago, and as far as setting, describes walks in snow, driving slippery roads, etc., but didn't have such a "'sense of place" that you felt yourself there, as some of my previous State reads had.

Review:

Describing their first hours together after meeting the man who would become her husband, “…it had put them on the fast track for being comfortable with each other. As they were, ever after. Always comfortable in a way that Dan described as home safe.”

This story is about Helen Ames, a writer suffering writer’s block after the sudden death of her husband. You get to know the couple, what their retirement dreams had been; their unmarried daughter, also a writer; and Helen’s relationship with her friend Midge. Helen was a very dependent woman; her daughter, very independent. Through day to day small circumstances, then through more difficult, bigger decisions, Helen learns how to cope as a widow. And then how to live, even happily, as a single woman – home safe.

Contemporary fiction is not my favorite genre, so perhaps that’s why I found it slow going to get “into” this book. It gradually grew on me, and I became very interested to see how Helen would deal with her new circumstances. Ms. Berg does have a knack for turning a phrase.

18countrylife
Aug 12, 2009, 11:12am Top

Georgia. Review:

Savannah by Eugenia Price

I’ve just returned from another time (1812-1825) and place (Savannah, Georgia). This trip was taken without pen and paper at hand; it is rare for me to read without taking notes all along the way. But this trip was for the pleasure of the journey itself. I’ve wandered the squares of Savannah, walked along the river paths on plantations, worked on the wharf, and alongside my mistress in the kitchens. This book is brimming with an atmosphere of place and time.

The story centers on the fictional character of Mark Browning, a young man recently orphaned, who moves to Savannah. It weaves his story into the lives of real persons, famous in their time. Ms. Price’s research and love of the area shine through her finished work. It was a lovely, lovely beach read.

19countrylife
Edited: Aug 12, 2009, 12:02pm Top

Washington, D.C.

Mary by Janis Cooke Newman

A fair job with "sense of place". But hated the book.

Review:

Teenage angst applied to Mary Todd Lincoln and wrapped up in flowery phrasings. Though Mrs. Lincoln’s eccentricities are well known, the author writes ludicrous twistings of reasonings behind her actions. She places her characters in pubescent-daydream style contrived situations. Views of the President throughout his wife’s story are painted only in the light of middle school 'social studies', or as an object of sexual fantasies. Masquerading as an intellectual’s historical novel, just because of its title character, it’s nothing more than just another bodice-ripper. “For if Mr. Wood had wished to take me here in Willard’s tearoom, I would have lifted my skirts to render it easier.”

Gag a maggot!

20sjmccreary
Aug 12, 2009, 9:02pm Top

#19 That book does sound pretty awful. Thanks for the heads up.

21RidgewayGirl
Aug 13, 2009, 10:58am Top

Yes, this forum is becoming a good place to find out what not to read as well as adding to the TBR pile! Thank you for performing a selfless act of public service.

22lindapanzo
Aug 13, 2009, 12:57pm Top

#17, it's interesting that you didn't think Home Safe had a great sense of place.

Last month, the Chicago Tribune book reviewer called it the "Great Chicago Novel." I haven't heard such accolades for it anywhere else but I do seem to recall that she said it had a lot of references to Millennium Park, the Eisenhower Expressway, and the Steppenwolf Theatre and other noteworthy Chicago locales.

I've been meaning to read it because, except for my years away at college, I've lived in Chicagoland my whole life and I'm curious to see whether it deserves those accolades.

Most of the books set in Chicago are really out of date.

23countrylife
Aug 13, 2009, 1:30pm Top

lindapanzo/22: Now I'll be curious to read your take on its sense of place. Savannah and True Women took me to Georgia and Texas. While reading those books, I was ~there~; not in the sense of watching a play and seeing Georgia and Texas as the backdrop to the story, but ~real~. While reading home safe, the setting felt to me like a backdrop, as just a location to place the story; the story being about relationship and growth, and the setting being insignificant to the story.

I've never been to Chicago, so maybe I just didn't "get" it. Though, I've never been to the Texas Hill Country or Savannah, either, but those descriptions were very rich as to sense of place. I'm wondering if my perception was stunted because of the genre. I much prefer historical fiction, and have to force myself through contemporary fiction.

I did comment about the sense of place (in home safe) for the purposes of this group, but did not include those comments in my actual review. But you have me very curious now. Anxiously awaiting your reivew!

24lindapanzo
Aug 13, 2009, 1:34pm Top

Thanks countrylife. I went back and re-read that review and she talks a lot about how Chicago has changed and isn't the stockyards kind of city anymore. Maybe we've gotten more like other places and less like ourselves?

It may be awhile til I get to it, sometime in September perhaps, but I really do plan to read it now, for sure.

25countrylife
Aug 13, 2009, 2:42pm Top

Florida.

Marley and Me by John Grogan

Set in Florida, and then in Pennsylvania; both settings have a good sense of place. From the thunderstorms that drive the dog wild in Florida, the neighborhood going seedy, the 'Boca-hontas' set, to the move to Pennsylvania, with the dog's first encounter with snow, and his walks in the hills.

Review:

Having had a “sub-normal” dog in the past, myself, but without any fond memories to accompany the ordeal, I didn’t expect to like this book. Every time I said something about what “that stupid dog” did now, someone would tell me, “oh, you’ve just got to read Marley & Me”. So, finally, I gave in and read the thing. I laughed; I cried; it was a good book. It didn’t redeem “yellow dog”, but it was an enjoyable read.

26sjmccreary
Aug 13, 2009, 8:58pm Top

#25 The movie is pretty good, too. Predictable, but good.

27countrylife
Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 7:24am Top

Georgia. Review:

The Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation by John Ehle

REVIEW:

Cherokees called it The Trail Where We Cried.

One of my forbears was a Cherokee abandoned as a baby along the Trail of Tears. After the Indians had all passed by, the family heard the wailing of an infant who had been left on their wood stack. They took him in and raised him as their own. So this is a subject of interest to me. After reading this book, the conclusion I reached is: my previous ‘knowledge’ was skewed.

In grade school, I ‘learned’ about the mean old white folks’ treatment of Indians. Later, I ‘learned’ about Andrew Jackson’s treatment of Cherokees. Indeed, if you pass your flash light over the picture of the Cherokee Removal, you would see some of each. But, this book illuminates the whole picture.

It is a careful illustration of the life of the Cherokee people, the author picking up the story beginning about 1770. He discusses treaties, the parties involved, what they meant to each group; numerous were the treaties between the various Indian tribes, between the Indians and the whites, and how the government did not keep the spirit of the treaties. The political climate of the time, the players in the government of Georgia and in Washington, some wanting autonomy for the Indians, and others desiring their removal. The rise of the Cherokee nation’s leaders. You hear the stories of their shamans, their battle chiefs, and their later leaders, who actually led them into prosperity.

Not written like a historical novel, with flowing narrative, nor like a strict listing of dry facts, but rather something in between. The author puts flesh on the facts. Exhaustively researched, he weaves the source documents chronologically through his story. With many original letters and speech transcripts inserted into the narrative, it sometimes reads disjointedly, but I don’t know how he could have done this any differently, for the correspondence between the major parties are crucial to the story and its timeline.

My first thought was that the book was misnamed. Pages covering the actual trail of tears were comparatively few. On reflection though, I wondered if the author was inferring that the Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation WAS their Trail of Tears. The documents presented show that the tribe essentially imploded from the results of the actions of one faction of the tribe. And this same faction caused The Trail to become one of tears.

Their two main leaders during the time of the Cherokee Removal were John Ridge and John Ross. Two Cherokees, both, at first, earnestly striving to lead their people in the best way. When it became apparent that the state of Georgia WOULD have them forced out, John Ridge advocated for acquiescence, John Ross for avoidance. When Ross wrangled the removal contract from the government for the enrichment of his own family, mismanaged the job, and insisted on a long land route, rather than the shorter water route, simply to increase his own take, he consigned his own people to hell on the trail.

In the end, it was a history of a people who wanted to believe the hope held out to them by an unscrupulous leader. Through the whole ordeal, they kept following him, because he was one of them. And they never saw how destructive that path was, even as their own society crumbled around them because of it.

**************************************

SUMMARY AND QUOTES:

Both Ross and Ridge had often been to Washington, meeting with Indian Affairs, and with the President, himself. Both worked toward an end which would allow their people to remain. In the end, it became apparent that it was a losing fight. The whites, by sheer number and force of law and military, could not lose. Whenever they came back from Washington, Ridge would urge the people to get ready to leave for the land set aside for them in the west. Ross told them to stay put. During this time that the Cherokees needed national debate, Ross abolished elections. The Cherokees were wedded to the land; they wanted to stay. So, most of them listened to Ross, because they hoped that would be the outcome. Even after the ratification of the treaty of the 23rd of May, 1836, which gave them two years to make ready, Ross still told his people to wait.

Some, though, listened to Ridge. Four to five thousand had already made their own way to the new lands. Then, when the government began its removal program, about a thousand pro-Treaty people were moved, going in three groups. The government provided a fleet of keel boats for their journey. Ridge and his family were among one of the first three groups; their trip, using the government run water route, took 24 days.

Major Ridge’s son John Ridge and friends decided to travel themselves via horseback and carriage; their trip took 49 days. Upon arrival in their new lands, John Ridge said, “I have traveled extensively in that country {the new Cherokee lands} … and every evidence of prosperity and happiness was to be seen among the Cherokees as a people.”

All the way to the last moment, Ross kept his people from preparing. When the actual removal began, soldiers were sent door to door to accompany the Cherokees to the gathering places, telling them to gather up what they wanted to take. “The Indians asked why it had to be decided now, all in an hour. Two years and a month and an hour, the soldiers said.”

Ross, finally seeing that the end was inevitable, went back to Washington, and negotiated the contract for the rest of the removal (about eleven thousand Cherokees still in the east), the contract to be given to the Cherokees, and then he awarded that contract to his brother. “Ross wanted more than twice the budgeted amount to move the remaining Indians and slaves. He wanted $65.88 per head, with eighty days expected on the land route. … The land route would take longer by many weeks, it’s true, but Indians prefer the land.” A negotiator tried to get him to agree to the water route – safer, better and faster. But Ross negotiated a contract that gave him more money if the trip took longer than expected.

“Questions about the advisability of land travel in winter were shunted aside. As to use of the federal boats tied up at the three river ports, they would not be needed. … They refused clothing and blankets and other aids.” The first of the Ross managed groups was to leave about Sep 1, the last about Dec 5.

The Indians learned that Ross was in charge, that the removal was now Indian-led. The general in charge “saw that the attitude of the Indians had improved under their own leadership … Let the Indians take themselves to the West; let them decide how they wanted to go…”

Altogether, there were 16 groups of Cherokees removed from the east, 3 government run, and 13 Ross managed. The book did not give the number of days on the trail for each of the 13 detachments. I would like to have seen an appendix with a table of numbers. Three groups specifically noted in the narrative were 189 days, 5 months 3-1/2 weeks, and 5 months. John Ross chose the water route for his own family.

“The Trail of Tears … was a trail of sickness, with Indian sorcerers as doctors.” One of the contingents was accompanied by a white doctor, who left records of the trip. He tried to do what he could, but found that the Indians preferred to be attended by their own, so could not stop them from courses that led to more deaths.

Regarding the Ross brothers contract – he received $776,394, and was asking for another $86,940, and then for even more, totaling an extra half a million. Finally, in Sep. 1841, “Pres. John Tyler, needing to settle the Cherokee matter, consented to pay to John Ross his claim. He had John Ross’s assurance that any dollars left over after full settlement of {incurred removal related} debt would be paid into the Cherokee treasury. None was left.”

“Lewis Ross {the brother of John Ross} took some of the profits and played a hunch. In the West, the backbreaking work of clearing and constructing and planting would create an excellent market for black slaves. He bought a supply of slaves in Georgia and sent them out there. He sent them by water. He sent five hundred.”

The Cherokee society in the west was peaceful, and well run by the “old settlers”. When Ross’s contingent arrived, “law and order on all counts broke down; even theft became commonplace, theft of slaves and everything else of value. The Cherokee men and women from the East became devourers of their own society.“ Through machinations and duplicity, Ross and his faction took over the government in the western lands, murdered Ridge and his faction, and enacted laws giving amnesty to those involved. “The federal agents informally accused John Ross of complicity in the murders; unable to prove it, they denounced him for refusing as chief to assist in bringing the guilty to trial. He continued to refuse, and worked to protect them. The agents and Washington officials called on him to resign as head of the Cherokee government, but he declined.”

28clue
Aug 15, 2009, 10:11am Top

Thanks for this review, I've had this on the radar for awhile but wasn't sure I'd read it. Now I'll be sure to...I live at the end of the Trail, both the Cherokee and Choctaw nations shared a border with my hometown.

29cbl_tn
Aug 15, 2009, 2:07pm Top

>27 countrylife: I just checked and my library has this book. I'll add this to the list of books I want to check out and read. It sounds like I need to fill in some gaps in my education.

30RidgewayGirl
Aug 15, 2009, 4:56pm Top

Great review!

31countrylife
Aug 18, 2009, 8:40am Top

Arizona. Review:

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

A remarkable book! The author has crafted a wonderful story, inspired by her own family memoirs.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and Ms. Turner is now my favorite author. I give her 5 stars for all the things that matter to me in a story like this: interesting, but believable situations and story line, fascinating characters, everyday folks who yet inspire, believable responses, a real sense of place for setting, excellent writing. Gracious, I even loved the cover that looks like an old diary.

Diary entries are dated July 1881 – June 1901, and cover a young woman’s life in the Arizona territory. During a time when making your home in the west was to sign up for a life of hardship, this story covers a family’s ordeals in a wagon train, in setting up their homestead, their encounters with soldiers, wild animals, Comanches, and other rough characters. Given these elements of a typical western novel, it is yet so much more. It is a story of relationship and growth, coming of age and motherhood, coping and triumphing.

I’ve read other diary type books that start out with a childish vocabulary and build to the grown-up version, which generally read rather contrived. The shift from beginning to end of this diarist’s writing was subtle and felt real. It is an insightful portrayal of the main character, Sarah Prine, tracing her growth from an uneducated teenager to a mature woman, who yearns for learning and has meantime read everything she could get her hands on. From an emotionally immature girl to a woman who finds and accepts love. From fighting against the trials of life, to acceptance of what life hands her.

Highly recommended!

32sjmccreary
Aug 18, 2009, 9:10am Top

#31 great review, I've already got this book on hold at the library but now I'll be chomping at the bit for it to get here!

33RidgewayGirl
Aug 18, 2009, 10:15am Top

I have that book! I'll move it a couple of feet higher up Mt. Toobie.

34countrylife
Aug 18, 2009, 12:03pm Top

Love Mt. Toobie! That's bound to become a new phrase for the landscape in our house, alongside Mt. Paperpile.

35detailmuse
Aug 18, 2009, 1:06pm Top

heehee, I've got tidy bookshelves for Mt TBR, but it's my Mount Magazines that glares at me daily!

36countrylife
Edited: Aug 26, 2009, 9:54am Top

Kentucky.

The Heart of the Hills by John Fox, Jr.

Note to self:

Because I've only begun doing reviews since joining this group, and as this book was read earlier in '09, I need to retrieve it do its review. But, its driving me nutty that some touchstones don't hold and have to be 'fixed' every time I edit my Progress list. So, as reviews are finished, I've been putting the touchstone into my Review post, and removing the link from the Progress list. Though this review has not been done yet, this touchstone is nutting me drive-y! Its outa there!

Notes: Enjoyed the story very much, characters well drawn, sense of history, wonderfully painted sense of place.

Hey, Self: THIS BOOK STILL NEEDS REVIEWED!

eta: sheesh. And after all that, the John Fox, Jr. touchstone didn't take at all. Trying a different one.

37RidgewayGirl
Aug 26, 2009, 9:51am Top

You can't let the touchstones take over your brain. And don't worry about reviews for books you've already read -- unless you want to. We'll be content with the reviews you write for the books you read now. This is supposed to be fun :)

38countrylife
Aug 26, 2009, 10:10am Top

I want to! :-) That HAS been part of the fun for me! (The wonky touchstones - not so much!) Thanks for the grin!

39countrylife
Edited: Aug 27, 2009, 11:25am Top

Tennessee. Review:

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks (historical fiction)

I’m torn.

Were it not for this book, I would still be in ignorance about the history of the Battle of Franklin and of the Carnton cemetery. We owe a debt of gratitude to this author for bringing the story to the greater attention of readers in this country, and for his work in promoting the physical preservation of the Carnton home and cemetery. I very much appreciate his research into that moment in history and its background. That part of his story was captivating. And, too, the historical notes and photographs at the end of the book were fascinating.

The setting, from the little town of Franklin, Tennessee, to the small farms and large plantations thereabouts, and especially the Carnton homeplace, was very realistically rendered. The place and its time, setting-wise, were believable. (For the main story, the history, and setting - 5 stars.)

But the dialog didn’t ring true. In the characters' thoughts and speech, I couldn’t take to the story.

It felt, at times, as if it was written by a psychologist assigning personality types to his different characters and molding their words to fit his sculptures. At other times, as if a non-Christian was trying to channel to the main character words (and actions) foreign to a woman raised (as his history notes show) in a strong Presbyterian worldview. At times, as if a being from the 21st century was trying to make his characters say what he would have liked them to say from his own enlightened viewpoint, rather than what real people in those situations and from that time in history would actually have said. I don’t know any personal details about the author; nor would such details matter. The dialog just felt forced in those directions. (For this – 2 stars)

Overall, I rate this book 3.5/5 and would recommend it to readers interested in the American Civil War.

40RidgewayGirl
Aug 27, 2009, 5:57pm Top

I've been eying that book. Thanks for the review, I'll give it a pass as my biggest annoyance with historical fiction is when the characters seem like modern people just dressed all fancy and talking funny, like they were at a really nice renaissance festival. Or, even worse, when the protagonist, or the good guys, are modern and the bad guys or secondary characters inhabit the mindset of the times.

41countrylife
Sep 1, 2009, 10:10am Top

Wisconsin. Review:

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

‘Enjoyed’ may be the wrong word for this almost dark tale. But the story drew me in and fixed me so firmly among these vivid characters on their lake in Wisconsin that I could not leave until the author released me by providing no further words.

Dispensing with the book description, since it’s on the works page; let me just give you my impression. And I AM impressed. As the story unfolds through the memories of a woman and her niece, it is exquisitely paced. It tantalizes you, knowing, with each revelation, that there is more unremembered or yet unmet, and wondering if she will remember enough, or have courage enough, to share it with you the next time you meet her in the story.

The setting, a lakeside small town, a farming and fishing community; the story takes place from about 1910 through the 1930s. The characters, setting, situations and dialog felt true to its time period. One turn of the story left me thinking, ‘nah, that couldn’t have happened in that way’. But, the characterization, the sense of place in its Wisconsin setting, an interesting mystery and its method and timing of revelation, details which enrich rather than bog – QUITE well done.

***SPOILER ALERT*** The mystery turns on something that in former times would have been considered taboo. Part of the story, then, was about trying to keep that secret, and still live a ‘normal’ life, and watching the after-effects and not knowing what to do about it. Strong women, relying only on their own strength and wits to solve their own problems, with no remorse admitted, but living with consequences.

Recommended. Highly.

42countrylife
Sep 11, 2009, 12:57pm Top

Arkansas. Review:

On Tall Pine Lake by Dorothy Garlock

Lame.

Predictable story line. Stilted writing. Shallow characters. So-so sense of place.

The author had her characters acting and speaking in ways that didn’t fit them or their situations. She didn’t seem to have command of her material: how insurance investigators would act, what a “Baptist minister with a small congregation” would say. She has him speak words that no Baptist minister would ever say while conducting a funeral service for a hardened criminal, “And we commend the eternal soul of {character x} to You, O Lord! Receive him and take him into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

In one passage, she gives graphic descriptions of an unmarried couple’s bedroom actions. It wasn’t the whole book, but it was annoying, and added nothing to the story.

Altogether a waste of time. As a Christian, I can’t recommend it. As a lover of good stories, I can’t recommend it.

43countrylife
Sep 14, 2009, 4:04pm Top

South Carolina. Review:

Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

More, please!

Sullivan’s Island was my first experience with this author. But it certainly shan’t be my last! I am now anxious to read more of her work. And speaking of more, I wish there had been more of this story, too. I wasn’t ready to be done with these characters. (Yay! According to the author’s website; she has a sequel to this book, just out!)

Ms. Frank grew up on the island, so her descriptions are heartfelt and full bodied. The sound of the surf washes through your mind as you read, while wiggling your own toes in the ‘sand’. You can’t help but inhabit her characters, loving and fussing with your siblings, helping each other to bear up under the tyranny of a dysfunctional father and a weak mother, each deriving strength from the one solid presence in the house, Livvie, the housekeeper (now there’s a character I’d like to read more of!). Seeing how the bonds forged in childhood, held steady through time for some of the siblings; how others escaped the island, but realized, in the end, the bonds still held.

Told in the voice of the main character, Susan Hayes, in alternating chapters of the present (1999) and her child/young adult-hood (1963), it is a story of a family of children who ‘come up’, as opposed to being ‘brought up’, on Sullivan Island, South Carolina, in their old family home, named Island Gamble. And the story of the two oldest sisters - Susan, who moved off the island, but lives nearby with her husband and daughter, and Maggie, who inherited the old home place, and is raising her family there. The relationship of the sisters is especially well written, in both their youth and maturity.

Lest you think this nothing but a maudlin tale, it is not. It is a vibrant story. Of choices and the lessons learned from them. Of learning to be the best that you can be, regardless of circumstances, or a difficult start in life. Of joy.

4 stars.

44thornton37814
Sep 14, 2009, 8:22pm Top

One thing about Dorothea Benton Frank's novels: They can be read as stand-alones, but you will occasionally have a character from a previous book make a "guest appearance" in a book. You'll only catch onto that if you've read the previous books in the series. I have enjoyed most of the books in the series. There was one book that I did not think was as strong as some of the others.

45clue
Sep 20, 2009, 12:37am Top

We think alike about The Widow of the South, I too was disappointed in the character development. I met Hicks at the Arkansas Literary Festival and he was so nice and interesting, I wanted to like the book a lot more! His second book has just come out and I'll probably give it a try, hopefully his writing has improved and is not quite as stilted.

46countrylife
Oct 23, 2009, 4:42pm Top

Iowa. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Really enjoyed this book, and forgot that I was reading it with an eye toward place. Or maybe its sense of place didn't just jump out at me, since it all felt like 'home' to me - from small, dying towns and little farms to the Nishnabotna. Overall, I think the story did evoke its times and place, but wasn't overpowering in that sense.

Review:

Much like a warm, cozy visit at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, listening to the older folks reminisce about hard times and good times, gone friends, and family stories. A lovely tracing of home and heart by the main character, an old gentleman, who is reviewing his life choices and leaving wisdom in hand for his young son. Altogether winning; I loved it!

47cbl_tn
Oct 23, 2009, 4:49pm Top

>46 countrylife: I'm planning to read this one for my Iowa selection, probably within the next month. I'm glad to know you liked it!

48thornton37814
Oct 24, 2009, 1:34pm Top

It sounds like a wonderful book!

49countrylife
Nov 6, 2009, 5:04pm Top

Massachusetts. Review:

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

Blackbirds, turnips, sweet peas and red pears. Ten year old boys, and the number 24. Twelve chapters, each telling the story of the family who lived in the Blackbird House during that chapter’s time frame. That concept sounded like it would yield an interesting book.

And at first I was enjoying the stories, historical fiction set on Cape Cod, of fishermen, cranberries, ponds and gardens. But each story was so filled with tragedy of one kind or another, that, although they (all but one), ended with a tiny little thread of hope, it was just too sorrowful a trip through time. Especially the chapters set in more modern times. If tragedy is your thing, you may like this book. I won’t be bothering with this author again.

To be fair, there was one plus for me: having just returned from a vacation in that area, it was pleasant to ‘see’ it again through the nicely drawn setting.

No, two. This phrase: “I read books as though I were eating apples, core and all, starved for those pages, hungry for every word that told me about things I didn’t yet have, but still wanted terribly, wanted until it hurt.”

50countrylife
Edited: Nov 6, 2009, 10:15pm Top

Maryland. Review:

Chesapeake by James Michener.

A sweeping saga, but the broom left too much unswept, with some stories getting smoother and more complete treatment than others. I enjoyed the story lines, though, and would have liked to read more complete versions of them, say in a serial. So much is covered here, it would have been impossible to do justice to every topic in one volume. Still, this novel seems a good introduction to the Chesapeake as a whole, its history and people, and left me wanting to read more about people who make their living from the water.

The book is sectioned into ‘Voyages’ in different time periods, with the chapters titled as shown. (In parentheses, some of the subjects covered in that chapter.)

Voyage One: 1583 – The River (local Indians – Susquehannocks, Nanticokes)
Voyage Two: 1608 – The Island (Captain John Smith, Catholicism)
Voyage Three: 1636 – The Marsh (hunters, ecology)
Voyage Four: 1661 – The Cliff (Quakerism, boatbuilders)
Voyage Five: 1701 – Rosalind’s Revenge (Pirates, plantation owners, Protestantism)
Voyage Six: 1773 – Three Patriots (corruption in church officials, stirrings of rebellion)
Voyage Seven: 1811 – The Duel (British navy, Susquehanna expedition)
Voyage Eight: 1822 – Widow’s Walk (geese, family business, wasted talent)
Voyage Nine: 1832 – The Slave-Breaker (slave issues)
Voyage Ten: 1837 – The Railroad (classes, groups, politics; iron horse & underground railroad)
Voyage Eleven: 1886 – The Watermen (storms, flood, crabs, oysters, water dogs)
Voyage Twelve: 1938 – Ordeal by Fire (ransoming Jews, race riots)
Voyage Thirteen: 1976 – Refuge (Watergate, returning home)
Voyage Fourteen: 1978 (storm, erosion, death)

Overall, a bit dated, but an interesting read. (3 stars)

51countrylife
Edited: Nov 7, 2009, 1:37am Top

Louisiana. Review:

Red River by Lalita Tademy.

A historical novel covering the Colfax Massacre of Easter Sunday 1873 in Louisiana. As this was an incident I’d not heard of before, this was an educational novel for me. In a contested election, with both sides claiming victory, the freed blacks decided to hold the courthouse for the government officials they’d voted for. Members of the White League (precursor to the KKK) joined forces with the democrats to try to force the blacks and their republican officials out of the courthouse. Neither side backed down. The democrats had much superior firepower, and showed no mercy when the skirmish was over, resulting in the deaths of 100 to 150 freed blacks, with little loss of life for the whites involved. It was a horrendous story. While I am grateful to the author for telling it, I didn’t find the story particularly well told. It seemed twice as long as it needed to be, and lagged too often in the narrative. However, the characters (including, apparently, some of the author’s forbears) and the setting of the village of Colfax and surrounding lands were very believably rendered.

Overall a good read. (3 stars)

52sjmccreary
Nov 7, 2009, 10:48am Top

#50 I haven't read a Michener novel in more than 10 years - I should hunt one up, I remember liking him pretty well.

#51 I'm adding Red River to my wishlist. Earlier this year I read The State of Jones, a nonfiction account about Jones County, Mississippi that maintained a unionist loyalty during the civil war. The last section of the book told about some of the conflicts that occured after the war - lots and lots of incidents similar to the one in your book. It was an eye-opener to me. I knew generally that there was a lot of racism and white on black violence and oppression that occured for many decades in the South, but to read about specific incidents really was a shock to me. I think one of my biggest surprises was that, in the first round of elections after the war ended, several black men were put into public office. It was after that, in time for the next election, that many of the whites organized themselves to deny voting access to blacks and republicans. A fascinating topic - now to find some well-written books on the subject!

53countrylife
Nov 7, 2009, 12:53pm Top

When you mentioned The State of Jones, I thought, now where have I heard that before. So I clicked on the link and discovered that I'd already added it to my wishlist based on your review! This part of American history was not covered in the textbooks I learned from as a kid. And, like you, I had just a general knowledge of ongoing racism following the civil war. I'm glad to be living in an age when information can be had so easily. And these kinds of books make the learning so real.

54thornton37814
Nov 10, 2009, 8:54am Top

> 51 Red River was not as well-written as Cane River. It was a definite disappointment to me since I expected it to be the same caliber.

>52 sjmccreary:/53 I grew up in Mississippi so we got those stories in Mississippi History. I haven't purchased The State of Jones yet, but I had thought that if I find a copy in a used bookstore at a reasonable price that I might do so. Interestingly enough, one of my ancestral families who lived in Alabama joined the 1st Alabama Cavalry USA, fighting for the Union. They were part of the "Free State of Winston" area in northwest Alabama.

55sjmccreary
Nov 10, 2009, 10:53am Top

#54 Was that common - pockets of unionism in the south? This is totally new information for me!

#53 I agree, history is much more interesting now than it ever was in school. Of course, on second thought, I'd say the same thing about every other subject, too. ;-)

56thornton37814
Nov 10, 2009, 1:13pm Top

Quite a large chunk of East Tennessee had Union sympathies. It's more common than you might think.

57cbl_tn
Nov 10, 2009, 1:17pm Top

#55 I live in East Tennessee, which had strong Union sympathies in the Civil War.

58countrylife
Nov 12, 2009, 1:42pm Top

New York. Review:

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Surgery to make ‘retards’ smarter.

Animal experiments - namely, Algernon, the mouse on which the surgery finally ‘works’.
Speculation - whilst in the midst of the animal experiments, to try this on humans.
A human subject – the man, Charlie Gordon, born with extremely low IQ.
Timing – to have results of their work ready for a big reveal at an upcoming medical conference.

Mix these ingredients, simmer an adult ‘moron’ who doesn’t understand why people make fun of him, add burning flashbacks of a home in turmoil over a retardant son. Yield - the expected result.

Fiction, with just a shiver of science fiction folded in. The characters were very believable, each true to the natures depicted, from Charlie’s fellow-workers at the bakery, his teacher, his family, to his doctors. Charlie himself was especially well written, showing a very believable progression through the different stages before and after his surgery. However. The story was so - bleak. The setting, NYC, was painted - bleak. The over-used terms, hard and gritty, are apropos here. As I have a nephew who also faces a dependent future, this was an uncomfortable read for me.

Though it was imaginative and well written, I did not like this book.
(2-1/2 stars)

59countrylife
Nov 12, 2009, 2:03pm Top

Massachusetts. Review:

Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund.

What a gift for phrasing this author holds.
“A dart tipped with pleasure and feathered with pain passed through me.”

“How could I … become blind? What trajectory intended for me, determined by me, could include the subtracting of sight from the sense of me?”

“And I thought I would not tell… Though it left me a liar, it left me having placed a higher value on Charlotte’s happiness than on my own clean conscience. But was it not arrogance in me that made me think I knew best in the matter, that my hand at the stopcock had the wisdom to regulate the flow of truth?”

But – that’s it, the one thing I liked – the author’s writing, especially her well-drawn settings of Nantucket and Kentucky. But, four things I disliked:

The story.
From the premise, the story of Captain Ahab’s wife, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book. But once commenced, couldn’t wait for it to finish. It was simply ludicrous to think of one character hopping from catastrophe to disparate catastrophe, over and again, as the author has Mrs. Ahab doing.

Characterization.
Nah. Didn’t buy the thoughts or motivations of a one of ‘em.

Overt research.
Obviously much research went in, for the seepage back out at the reader, throughout the book, was nauseating.

Tirades.
The strident diatribes on every cause du jour throughout history. Pacifism, women’s rights, suffrage, gender equality, abolition, feminism, humanism, etc., etc., etc. Just pick one and wrap a story around it; a story true to its times. Don’t keep hitting us over the head with your holier-than-thou club.

Hated it. With a purple passion.
(1 star)

60thornton37814
Nov 12, 2009, 4:17pm Top

I think I'll skip reading those last two!

61RidgewayGirl
Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 7:32pm Top

Yeah, I've developed an aversion to reading books that preach--even when I agree.

edited because I cannot type a single sentence without including a grammatical error.

62countrylife
Dec 7, 2009, 1:00pm Top

Vermont. Review:

In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent

Three generations of the Pelham family living their lives as if dangling on strings; the puppeteers being Choices Made and Encounters With Evil. Norman Pelham, a wounded Civil War soldier, is nursed back to health by Leah, an escaped slave, whom he later marries and brings back home to his family’s Vermont farm. Choice. Ostracism over their interracial marriage – evil. Years later, yearning to find the mother she left behind, Leah makes a trip to her former home. Choice. The evil from which she’d fled, having festered all those years, confronts her and destroys her soul. Evil. Coming home, her choices have life-long effects on her family. And so it goes.

The book is divided generationally into three parts: Norman’s story in Randolph, Vermont; Jamie’s story in Bethlehem, New Hampshire; Foster’s story in Sweetboro, North Carolina. Each setting might just as well be a film, so realistically are the images written. The author’s writing is one of the strengths of this book. That strength, though, went too far for my own tastes, in the frequency and language of descriptions of sexual situations; that being the only thing I didn’t like about this book. (3-1/2 stars)

63countrylife
Dec 7, 2009, 2:36pm Top

Texas. Review:

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles

Sockless. This author knocked my socks off! Giving fair treatment to both sides of the Indian/Settler conflicts in North Texas during the times right after the Civil War, this story reads like the real-life adventure it is. It covers the conflict between the Plains Indians nomadic life and long history of warring, raiding and killing from their northern homes in Oklahoma south to Mexico vs. the incoming settlers farming and ranching on fixed plots in between. The dilemma of good men in government who would have liked for Indians to be free to pursue their chosen lifestyle if only they would give up their raids and killing of settlers. The frustration of settlers trying to keep their families safe, and of Indians trying not to give up their ways. It tells, too, of what befell their captives; the degradations they faced (tactfully written), how they coped, adapted, and changed.

In the Author’s Note at the end of the book, she tells which characters were real persons. She says also: “The story of Britt’s journey to rescue his wife and children from captivity is beyond doubt, as are the brief accounts of his life afterward. . . . This book is a novel, but it’s backbone – Britt’s story – is true. Britt’s story returned to me repeatedly as I read through north Texas histories over the years, and I often wondered why no one had taken it up. And so I did.” Around this brave man, a former slave, the author has created a fascinating story encompassing the real life events of the Elm Creek raid of 1864. Unlike those authors whose writing says “look at what all I learned while I was working on this story”, Jiles seamlessly knits together her historical research, with excellent story-telling.

I’m going to put my socks back on and find another of her books. (5 stars)

64sjmccreary
Edited: Dec 7, 2009, 6:23pm Top

#63, 64 Two great reviews. I read In The Fall earlier this year, and probably rated it about like you did - but I didn't catch the alternating choices made vs encounters with evil that you did. An interesting idea - I like it. I came away with an awareness that each of these men had his own way of understanding and coping with the fact of the family's mixed race status. Each one was different - one simply accepted it, one denied it and kept it hidden, one confronted it head on but then went on with his life.

I haven't read The Color of Lightning, but did read one of Paulette Jiles' other books - Enemy Women about a confederate woman from SE Missouri taken prisoner by the union and falling in love with her appointed attorney at the prison in St Louis. I can't remember if she claimed that it was also based on a factual situation, but it was well-written and fascinating. I'd recommend it for you and, in turn, will add The Color of Lightning to my wishlist.

edit to add - I already had C of L on my wishlist! Nice to know it is still appealing, but I can't believe it didn't sound familiar.

65countrylife
Dec 7, 2009, 8:57pm Top

Oo-oo! I can read another Paulette Jiles AND take care of my Missouri read at the same time! Thanks for the tip!

I like your take on In the Fall, but couldn't find your review to read its entirety. Could you provide the link?

66sjmccreary
Dec 8, 2009, 8:50am Top

#65 That's because I didn't post the review before. I went back just now and did so, so you ought to be able to see it there. When I finished reading, I rated the book 4 stars - surprising, because now - 6 months later - I don't think it was quite that good. Maybe I was just so relieved at getting it finished - seems like it took a while!

67countrylife
Dec 8, 2009, 11:04am Top

Lovely review! Thank you for posting it!

68countrylife
Edited: Dec 8, 2009, 4:54pm Top

New York.

The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage

eta: The story here is set in the area around Albany, NY; the setting was rendered just ok, with the countryside being shown as picturesque and the city of Albany as a deteriorating trash-heap.

Review:

Why did I ever pick up this book? It started off ok-ish, and just got slimier and slimier as it went along.

1. Infidelity. I can’t see the mother just jumping into bed with the loser in the first place, and certainly not at the local motel every chance she gets, especially during the period of time that her children have been threatened.

2. Pedophilia. Implied incest. Mental issues. (Seems like every other book I’ve read lately deals with someone having mental problems. Dealing with a manic-depressive paranoid-schizophrenic in-law, I’m just not in the mood to keep reading about mental problems in my get-away-from-it-all readings.)

3. Abortion. In the abortion debate, the two sides aren’t monsters and angels. There are people trying to do the right thing as they see it on each side. Painting all of one side as monsters is not realistic.

Three strikes! You’re OUT of my library! (1/2 star)

69thornton37814
Dec 8, 2009, 10:01pm Top

>68 countrylife: I won't be reading that one, countrylife.

70sjmccreary
Dec 9, 2009, 12:00am Top

#67 Thank you for the kind comment.
#68 I will also be finding a different New York book. That one sounds terrible!

71countrylife
Dec 9, 2009, 10:11am Top

California.

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

Note: Almost half of this book is set in San Francisco, with the rest set in Chile, both settings very evocative of their places.

Review:

“Recounted in the voice of a young woman in search of her roots, Portrait in Sepia is a novel about memory and family secrets “, says the jacket copy. I saw it as not so much the telling of a mysterious mystery, but of the lives of a fascinating family. I really enjoyed getting to know these people, so real were they to me, as an onlooker in San Francisco to the life of privilege lived by some of them, and to the life of working hard and giving back of another part of the family; then travelling with them to Chile and witnessing how their lives changed with health issues, and during the time of political unrest; and watching as Aurora grows into her Self, with her camera as her help.

I have not read Daughter of Fortune, which apparently precedes this tale. Although there were allusions to the previous history of several characters, I did not feel as though this story suffered from a lack of more information about them. If it suffered from anything, it would only be the inclusion of more than I’d ever sought to know about Chilean political history. :)

The Epilogue is short, but so poignant. Should you consider it a spoiler (although I don’t believe that to be so in this case), be warned, for I copy half of it here:

‘Memory is fiction. We select the brightest and the darkest, ignoring what we are ashamed of, and so embroider the broad tapestry of our lives. Through photography and the written word I try desperately to conquer the transitory nature of my existence, to trap moments before they evanesce, to untangle the confusion of my past. . . . In the end, the only thing we have in abundance is the memory we have woven. Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses that luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone for telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia.’

Interesting story; well imagined and well told. I enjoyed it. (4 stars)

72countrylife
Dec 9, 2009, 10:51am Top

Kentucky. Review:

Shadow of Ashland by Terence M. Green

Born from the experience of searching for a missing uncle, this tale starts in the same fashion, and then entwines letters half-a-century old, time travel, the despair of 1930’s unemployment, union organizing, caves, baseball, and the hope of familial connections into a book that reads so much better than I’ve managed to make it sound. From a promise made to his dying mother, Leo follows the trail of his uncle from their home in Toronto as he searches for work heading ever south, eventually staying for some time in Ashland, Kentucky. Leo makes a connection with his Uncle Jack as he experiences some of the same things.

Expecting this to be a family memoir book, I was at first a bit disappointed when encountering the time travel component. Though not my preferred cup of tea, I did thoroughly enjoy this particular brew. (4 stars)

73clue
Dec 9, 2009, 2:05pm Top

I've had this on by TBR list since it came out, glad to know that it could qualify as my California book. I read Daughter of Fortune and liked it as much because it was an adventure story featuring a young woman as much as anything else, but it is a good tale!

74RidgewayGirl
Dec 9, 2009, 10:33pm Top

Ack. I have a copy of The Doctor's Wife on my TBR. I may have to rethink this.

75countrylife
Jan 28, 2010, 10:59am Top

Wyoming. Review:

Dream Country by Luanne Rice

I’m not a fan of westerns. And this story is a family drama (contemporary fiction) that just happens to be set on a Wyoming ranch. But that setting was beautifully painted; it was all just enough to let my inner cowgirl enjoy it, without getting all-western-y on me.

The three things around which this story revolves (all revealed in the first chapter, so I don’t think this will be considered spoiler-ish), are the loss of a young child on the ranch, the subsequent divorce of the parents with mother and daughter moving back East, then the teenager running away.

The story was told in a lyrical, rather dream-like, way, with much mingling of the requisite first people spirituality. I didn’t find that over the top, but it was mighty close to the edge for my taste, with many passages like these: “This reminded her of her mother: the studio filled with feathers, bones, rocks, and gold wire. Dream-catchers – netted hoops she had once hung over her infants’ cribs to catch the good dreams floating by – hung from the ceiling. Her mother was the most spiritual person Sage knew, believing in seeking spirits for their dreams, visions, and help. . . .” “…talking to the spirit world through bones and gold.”

Daisy is a jewelry artist from Connecticut, having found her husband-to-be whilst in the west looking for inspiration for her jewelry designs. She weaves Indian myths and family stories into her art; and her heart and fingers are so full of magic, that her customers tell her that love found them while wearing her jewelry. Having found love, herself, she married and stayed in Wyoming, where their twins were born. If you’re still reading, be warned, I’m veering toward spoiler-ness now. Out on the ranch one day with his father, James, and the other cowboys, three year old Jake is lost. The crew scours the area for him for days on end. Daisy is devastated and finally takes their daughter, Sage, to raise her back East. Daisy cannot make herself return to the ranch. James cannot let himself leave the ranch; he is ever searching for evidence of what happened to Jake. Thirteen years later, Sage runs away, heading back to see the father that she hasn’t set eyes on since they moved. Too much would be revealed to say any more about the plot.

The characterization was nicely done: Tucker, James’ father, who is beginning to suffer Alzheimer symptoms. Louisa, his life partner since the death of his wife, enduring dislike from James. James, with his broken heart, and guilt over losing Jake. Daisy, with her shattered dreams, and hope-filled art. Sage, a normal teenager, dreadfully missing her father. The ranch hands, the people encountered during Sage’s trip west, the locals in Wyoming, Daisy’s sister in Connecticut – these were all very believable, not cardboard cutouts.

Even taking into account all the spirit-this and spirit-that, the story, itself, drew me in. It was a satisfying read from beginning to end. Nothing fancy, but well written.

76countrylife
Edited: Feb 3, 2010, 8:52am Top

Missouri. (Thank you, sjmccreary, for recommending this book!)

Review:

Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles knocked my socks off with her Color of Lightning, so I scrambled to find another of her books. Sockless, again! A strong writer, she gives an authentic voice to her characters, and sets them in vividly rendered locations. Her stories are compelling; the historical events true, around which she weaves her words.

In her historical novel, Enemy Women, Jiles shares some actual letters, written, some by northerners, some by southerners. One letter from 1861: “There will be trouble in Missouri until the Secesh are subjugated and made to know that they are not only powerless, but that any attempts to make trouble here will bring upon them certain destruction and this … must not be confined to soldiers and fighting men, but must be extended to non-combatant men and women.”

And so begins a horrible chapter in the history of Missouri. The men of the area were still off fighting in the War Between the States, or acting as gorilla soldiers trying to protect their homes and villages from being ravaged by unscrupulous union soldiers. Women, while feeding their own husbands when they returned from their war duties, were charged as collaborators - enemies of the Union. Homes were burned, menfolk (and often whole families) were killed, or the women and children marched to prisons in St. Louis.

Jiles imagines a family set into this moment in history; her main character a young woman, the oldest sibling, and how she reacts to the circumstances in which she finds herself. A fascinating story, start to finish; well imagined and well told. The characters and story both felt true to the times.

Her sense of place was perfect, too. I lived, for a short time, in the area depicted. I’ve walked in the Current River, sat with my children on its pebbly ‘beaches’ in Van Buren, hiked through parts of the Mark Twain National Forest, climbed around the boulders of Johnson’s Shut-Ins listening to the roar of the water. Her descriptions transplanted me right back there.

Two notes, though: (1) The one thing this book lacked was a map. In ‘Color of Lightning’, I found myself referring back to the maps quite often, and really felt its lack here. Enemy Women was an earlier work; perhaps reprints will include a map. (2) As I began this book, it initially bothered me that the words ‘spoken’ by the characters were not shown in quotes. But I wasn’t bothered long. It was a seamless technique that at least worked for her in this time and place.

A taste (p.12): “So it was in the third year of the Civil War in the Ozark Mountains of southeastern Missouri, when virginia creeper and poison ivy wrapped scarlet, smoky scarves around the throats of trees, and there was hardly anybody left in the country but the women and the children.”

Highly recommended.

77sjmccreary
Feb 3, 2010, 2:17pm Top

#76 I'm so glad you liked it! You might be interested in checking out the comments in the Missouri Readers group from when we read this book - http://www.librarything.com/topic/45642 is the first thread, as it looks like we divided the book into sections.

Excellent review, btw!

78Copperskye
Feb 3, 2010, 11:41pm Top

I have Enemy Women sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I loved your review - thank you! I may need to read it sooner than I had planned.

79countrylife
Edited: Feb 4, 2010, 10:47am Top

Maryland. Review:

Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (contemporary fiction)

I’ve been reading books from my tiny local library. However, they had very little with Maryland settings. Sea Swept was on the shelf, so I took that. And it did have a good sense-of-place for the purposes of the reading challenge.

This was my first Nora Roberts and will be my last. I found that I don’t care for her ‘steamy’ writing. I did like the underlying story involving abused and neglected children and those who step in to help. This book’s focus was on one of the brothers in the family. The following books in the series apparently focus on two of the other brothers and continue the family story. Although I was interested in the story, I’m not going to force myself to endure this kind of writing in order to see its conclusion. I’m done with Nora Roberts. All the sex scenes strewn throughout what otherwise would have been a good story cause me to give this one a personally-didn’t-like-it rating of 2-1/2 stars. If you are not bothered by all the steam that’s not remotely necessary to the plot, you may enjoy this more than I did.

80countrylife
Feb 4, 2010, 11:30am Top

Maine. Review:

Windswept by Mary Ellen Chase (fiction)

Books in process are scattered all over this place. ‘Night stand’ books get finished faster than any others (just ~one~ more chapter before I turn off that light…). This title was my latest ‘car’ book, those I read while waiting for the munchki to emerge from their activities in various places, school, karate, friend’s homes. Over the years, five children’s worth of waitings have yielded a lot of finished books. But I’m afraid that this poor, thick, book suffered from being too long in the car during a dry season of waitings. It was a very long time between start and finish on this one. And nothing about it prompted me to push it into ‘night stand’ status.

This is a multi-generational saga set on the coast of Maine. The setting was drawn with gorgeous sweeps of her pen – beautifully done! The characters were fully and well written. The story - I don’t know if it was dull, or being long drawn out, just seemed so to me. It spoke of familial love, education, religion – Catholicism and Protestantism, war, boating, seasons, cranberry picking, house building, fishing, gardening . . . but it never seemed to go anywhere. I loved Maine and wanted to love this book.

But, I’m afraid it’s getting a mediocre . . . 3 stars.

81thornton37814
Feb 4, 2010, 12:35pm Top

>80 countrylife: It's a shame that it proved to be so mediocre when the setting sounds like it was described so beautifully.

82Copperskye
Feb 4, 2010, 10:34pm Top

Too bad you weren't "swept" away by your last two books. (Sorry but I couldn't resist.)

83countrylife
Feb 5, 2010, 8:42am Top

I thought that was funny myself. Actually, the way my reviewing works is - I happily read during any spare break in duty, taking notes as I go, then stacking up my finished books on the 'need reviewed' shelf. Then, when hubby does his monthly business trip to the home office, I have several days semi-uninterrupted to work on those reviews. The 'easy' ones, I generally churn out first, as in those Swepts.

This month has taken a very sad turn, though. The nephew mentioned above in post 58 has just died; his funeral is tomorrow. His mother is the sweetest, best mommy of any one I've ever known. They were never able to have any other children. But her heart yearns toward children, so they are foster parents for other disabled kids. Their hearts are just breaking, losing their only child. He was six years old.

84Copperskye
Feb 5, 2010, 8:51am Top

Oh, I am so sorry to hear of your nephew's death. The loss of a child is heartbreaking and my sympathies go out to you and his family.

85sjmccreary
Feb 5, 2010, 10:54am Top

Only 6! Symphathies to your entire family - and especially the poor parents.

86cbl_tn
Feb 5, 2010, 5:20pm Top

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Prayers and sympathies to your family.

87thornton37814
Feb 5, 2010, 8:35pm Top

Saddened to hear of your nephew's death. Praying for you and your family.

88countrylife
Feb 12, 2010, 2:51pm Top

Thank you all for the kind words. It was a very touching funeral. The love and the grace of his mother in her care of him for all his young life made an impact on the community. The funeral home was overflowing. His pediatrician even came, though his practice is an hour away. My husband said, "they shouldn't have to make caskets that tiny."

89countrylife
Feb 12, 2010, 2:52pm Top

Wisconsin. Review:

White Coat Wisdom by Stephen J. Busalacchi

To read this book is to get a fascinating peek underneath that white coat at the heart and soul of a doctor. A sentiment expressed throughout the book: “Medicine is not a job. Medicine is a lifestyle and you live it 24 hours a day. You live to serve. … You give back to society in any way that you possibly can. But that’s what makes it fun. I don’t work for a living. I get up every morning and I have fun. Then, I go to bed.” (Dr. Wik, p.50) For a memoir loving, medical topic interested reader like me this was a very hard book to put down. Every doctor highlighted in these pages is a hero of sorts, and each had an interesting story to tell.

I’d barely finished this book when we received word of the death of a young nephew. This tiny six year old, who couldn’t see, hear, speak, walk or even eat; who wore leg braces, glasses, hearing aids and a belly feeding device; who was so often sick and hospitalized – this child had a medical team of heroes, too. Among the people crowded into the room at his funeral, I met his doctor. This gentleman’s practice is in a city an hour away, yet he’d taken time to be there for the family of the young boy he’d been treating for so long. I overheard him tell my nephew’s young mother, “I would like you to pick out a tree, whatever kind you want, that I can buy and have planted in your yard as a memorial to Christopher”. Sometimes heroes come in every-day packages, quietly impacting individual lives.

You can read stories of some of them in this book. There is a breadth of life history in these pages; of doctors who’ve made a difference in the lives of individuals, in societies, in their profession, in the service of their country. A quick internet search shows that doctors comprise about one third of one percent of the U.S. population. The path toward becoming a doctor is a very tough one; it takes a special person to persevere. Those who earn that title of Doctor are worthy of the name. Even among those, there are individuals who stand out among their peers. Mr. Busalacchi introduces us to some of them with his book White Coat Wisdom. The author’s goal “was to personalize the profession by focusing on a few dozen physicians I had come to know through the years who have medical interests that are particularly salient, thereby combining biography with intriguing medical topics. . . . You will have greater appreciation for what it takes to succeed in this profession {or any profession} and what your doctor did to learn his or her craft. But more importantly, you will learn and be entertained by their unique experiences, where human lives are always hanging in the balance.”

Mr. Busalacchi more than succeeds in his goal. In his capacity of medical news reporter with public radio, and in public relations with the state medical society, he’s had decades of interaction with individual physicians, many of whom had stories that he felt needed to be told. Here is one reader who is glad that he acted on that inspiration. Their ‘oral history’ is engaging in every case. Unlike ‘news-magazine’ television shows, where the interviewer’s goal seems to be to phrase questions in order to push their own agenda and to hear their own voice, with the physician guest barely getting a word in edge-wise, Mr. Busalacchi’s interview style is a light touch of questions, and while letting them speak as they will, their very human side emerges. His engagement with his subjects has a very natural cadence.

With his selected physicians, the conversations cover a wide range of medical specialties, public health topics, professional issues, and personal stories of their lives as doctors and of what prompted their interest in medicine. A few examples. On marriage: “We learned that Thanksgiving isn’t the third Thursday in November. It’s whenever we eat the turkey.” On frivolous malpractice suits: “I don’t like the way my anus looks. … There’s a scar there where you took the hemorrhoid off.” One of my favorite chapters was the doctor whose specialty was performing arts and sports medicine. I don’t know why; our family is neither athletic, nor artistic. Though, his parenting solutions were particularly interesting to me.

Another strength of this book – The author knows of what he speaks. He knows these doctors, has associated with them as their professional lives intersected; they all practice in his state of Wisconsin. Very briefly, I was bothered by that fact, but came to believe that this only gave the stories more force. A side effect of reading this book will have you wanting to move to Wisconsin! Descriptions of the medical community there, of their efforts at public health, and of the healthy aspects of that state make it sound awfully inviting.

And even more to like: The author’s intro and postscript were both very thoughtful and well done, while letting the doctors speak for themselves in their own sections. Each section began with a relevant epigraph. The index was nicely done with the physician’s names and topics of interest covered throughout the book. Medical terms which perhaps may not be understood are explained in footnotes.

One quibble. The first doctor profiled happened to come from a family of doctors. I thought that was an unfortunate selection for the first chapter. Only 42% of people who apply to medical school are accepted – the best of the best. It is an extremely difficult process, made easier if you know the game, and more difficult for those who don’t have an inside look at how that game is played before trying to take the field themselves. A reader who is considering or recently entered the process of becoming a physician, and having to pull themselves up to the game by their own boot-straps, may be put off by that first chapter, and so miss the treasures contained book wide. I confess to that impression, being the mother of a boot-strap medical school student, myself.

Of the medical school experience, one of the doctors profiled says: “Physicians are high achieving individuals. I coasted through undergrad. If I tried hard, I did exceptionally well. If I didn’t try hard, I did pretty darn well. I knew medical school would be hard, but… Average has an entirely different meaning.” One of the speakers at my son’s White Coat Ceremony congratulated the incoming class on their acceptance into the profession of medicine. “The toughest hurdle has been overcome – having excelled at all that came before, you are now granted acceptance to medical school. Of course, you are all go-getters. Every one of you is used to being at the top of your class. But, guess what? You can’t ALL be at the top of the class anymore. Not to worry, though, you know what they call the one who graduates at the bottom of the class? . . . ‘Doctor’.”

I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review this book about doctors. It surpassed all my expectations, and I am grateful to the author for providing me a review copy.

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading memoirs, is a health nut, has a physician in their family, or has an interest in medical topics. White Coat Wisdom gets a hale and healthy FIVE stars from me!

90countrylife
Feb 13, 2010, 11:34am Top

Arizona. Review:

Timeline by Michael Crichton (fiction)

Historical fiction with a twist of archaeological excavations, quantum physics and time travel, this was a fast-paced adventure blend of elements. From the modern day labs in Arizona to the archaeological dig in France, the settings were alive to their time and place. I especially enjoyed the renderings of the Dordogne in its present day contrasted with how it was imagined during medieval times. Characters felt true to their times and motivations. The battle scenes (100 years war), though graphic enough, were not overly so. Coming to this book a decade after its publication, the plot is well known enough that I shan't go there. I grabbed this one off the shelf of one of the kiddos to serve as my next 'in the car' read, not expecting to enjoy it much. The bottom line for me was – I really liked it!

91countrylife
Feb 13, 2010, 12:00pm Top

Kansas. Review:

The Unplowed Sky by Jeanne Williams (historical fiction)

This was an interesting story of harvest season in the days of early harvesting machines. Starting in Kansas and traveling with their machines northward, zigzagging across the states, harvesting for hire. Descriptions of Kansas were perfectly rendered. Characterization, many based on real people, was nicely done. (Note to self – remember the cat under the beard.) Also portrayed well was the life of the traveling harvesters as lived on the road, quite different from the stories you read of migrant workers in current times. There was a bit of a love story involved; not really my cup of tea, and that part was kind of lame. But the historical aspects of the harvest season in the 1920’s were fascinating.

92countrylife
Feb 14, 2010, 12:09pm Top

Texas. Review:

Deep in the heart of trouble by Deeanne Gist (fiction)

“My stars and garters!” This was a fun and fluffy little story. A little history about oil wells and bicycles, wrapped up in a romance. A little who-done-it, pertly solved by the lady members of the velocipede club.

The bad-guy is headed to Fort Smith to be tried by “Hanging Judge Isaac Parker”. A distant relative (one-armed!) was the court reporter for Judge Parker, so I enjoy running across the judge in a book now and then.

As to the sense of place, I just happened to drive through Corsicana last weekend, so I know that the author got the setting just right, and it’s a good thing the area is so flat, what with all that bicycling going on.

The main character, Essie Spreckelmeyer, mentions her faith a time or two, though not in a preachy sort of way. But just as a fair warning, know that this book is put out by a Christian publishing house. Don’t let that deter you, though. This is a good, clean, fun little story that any romance reader could enjoy. And I did! (3-1/2 stars)

93sjmccreary
Feb 14, 2010, 2:09pm Top

#91 I've added Unplowed Sky to the wishlist, despite the plot synopses I found sounding just so-so. I've recently become interested in the life and times before the depression, especially in Kansas where my family is from. My grandmother was a farm girl who was a 19-year old bride in 1921. It'll be fun to think of her while reading this book and try to imagine what her life was like.

94countrylife
Feb 23, 2010, 2:10pm Top

sjmccreary - perhaps you'd be more interested in some of the books which the author cited as using for reference. Here are the notes I copied from the book:

(many mentions of relatives with Kansas farm or threshing memories, books helpful: Land of the Post Rock, Natural Kansas, Kansas Bootleggers, This Was Wheat Farming, When I was Harvester, Ill Fares the Land, threshing in the Midwest, Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas, The Grain Harvesters, The American Farm Tractor, The Reaper, Days of Steam and Glory. the memoir always at hand - Pioneer Threshers, Joseph Dale Fry. It is a captivating story, full of humor, about real people and how they lived and worked. (1884-1928), 1924 Kansas, “Dust-Bowl America”

95countrylife
Feb 23, 2010, 2:13pm Top

WASHINGTON.

I resisted this book for a long time, just because ~everyone~ else was reading it. Looking for a book between trips to the library, I swiped this one from my daughter's shelf. SO glad I did!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, historical fiction

REVIEW:
Two Asian children, a Japanese American girl, and a Chinese American boy, ostracized by their white schoolmates during WWII, forge a bond of friendship while working in their grade school’s cafeteria. This is their story - a story about making the best of the situation you find yourself in, when forces beyond your control seem to conspire against your own desires, a story about bonds and loyalties.

The characters were so nicely done: the innocence of the two children, the bullies, the loving parents, the conniving parents, the jazz player, the cafeteria lady, and the Panama Hotel, a character in its own right, “a place between worlds when he was a child, a place between times now that he was a grown man”.

Likewise, to one who hasn’t been there, the setting made me feel like I WAS there. From the international district to the internment camp, it felt as though the author got it ‘right’.

But to me, with this book, it was all about the story. And it is perfectly titled. (I’m so glad Mr. Ford fought for that title!) The sweetness of the storyline, threaded as it was through the bitterness of circumstances and the actions of others - it was just so touching. I loved Henry; "He’d do what he always did, find the sweet among the bitter."

Altogether lovely; I’m so glad I picked up this book. (5 stars)

96thornton37814
Feb 23, 2010, 2:17pm Top

> 95 I really enjoyed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet when I read it.

97cmbohn
Feb 23, 2010, 5:27pm Top

Coming a little late to the thread, but I'm so sorry about the loss of your nephew. It sounds like a beautiful service.

98Copperskye
Feb 24, 2010, 10:16pm Top

Oh - me too - I really enjoyed Hotel on the Corner! Glad you did too.

99sjmccreary
Feb 26, 2010, 12:22am Top

#94 Some of these look pretty good - especially Land of the Post Rock and Kansas Bootleggers. Many of the others aren't available at the library here, and the farm machinery books might look better in hand than online, so I'll reserve judgement on those. Thanks for the list!

100countrylife
Mar 16, 2010, 11:27am Top

Pennsylvania. Review:

Whiskey Rebels by David Liss (historical fiction)

As far as reviewing goes, this book threw me for a loop. My normal routine is to take notes as I read: page number + one word from the phrase that caught my mind, characters, dates, places, etc, then any other thoughts that occur to me as I’m reading. Then I type up my notes, going back to the pages I noted and capturing those phrases. It helps having these before me while I’m thinking through my review, and I often enter some of them into the book’s CK.

So, I started typing up my notes for Whiskey Rebels. Too many pages of just the one-word prompts. I give up! My aging mind is not up to the task on this one. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed this book.

Writing about the Federalist period, using Philadelphia and the untamed frontier west of Pittsburgh as his settings, and weaving people from the pages of our nation’s history into his story, Mr. Liss tells about the events that led up to the Whiskey Rebellion, and about early stock trading, taxation and banking. His two main characters are fictitious: Joan Maycott, experiencing the effects of the whiskey tax on the frontier, and Ethan Saunders, who had been a spy during the revolutionary war, now swept up in these events. The book is written in alternating chapters of first person perspectives from these two characters, using much different ‘voices’. I especially enjoyed Ethan’s wit.

The author’s short ‘Historical Notes’, tucked after the story, were quite helpful. My copy also has a section of discussion questions which look interesting, though I didn’t delve into them much. The sense of place was well done, I thought. At least it seemed as though that’s how the area could have looked in the 18th century. From Philadelphia’s rich drawing rooms and seedy boarding houses to the rude frontier, all felt quite real.

I learned a lot about this period, but came away without any firm conclusions about the main historical figures involved. I lay that up to my dense old brain, not to the author. It does, however, make me want to read more about Hamilton and Jefferson.

Enjoyed and recommended. (4 stars)

101RidgewayGirl
Mar 17, 2010, 7:49pm Top

I read The Whiskey Rebels awhile ago and enjoyed it. There seemed to be many parallels between the banking situation then and now and the story was a rollicking one. I especially liked the descriptions of Pittsburgh as a muddy frontier hell.

102countrylife
Mar 18, 2010, 12:13pm Top

101: My one and only visit to Pittsburgh was the 'Pitts' of vacationdom, so I didn't mind seeing that description applied to it!

103countrylife
Mar 18, 2010, 12:15pm Top

Iowa. Review:

Dear Mrs. Lindbergh by Kathleen Hughes (fiction)

As the cover says, this is a novel about “what gets lost between generations, and what we’ll never know about those who came before us”. When their parents go missing after a Thanksgiving get-together, their two grown children go ‘back home’ to see what to do. Hidden in the attic they find a crate of letters, which turn out to have been written by their mother, addressed to various lady fliers, most of them to Mrs. Lindbergh. The author unfolds the story with each newly read letter, in this way tracing the history of Ruth Sheehan as she meets and weds their father, and continuing throughout the years, all the way to the present. Along with their reading, these fifty-year-old children see remembered family events in new lights.

The setting, rural Iowa near Iowa City, was nicely done. I enjoyed getting a new perspective (from a 1920s airplane) of a familiar landscape. The times felt accurately drawn, especially as regards women’s roles and opportunities. The book begins in 1988 when the elderly couple go missing, although most of the story follows them starting with their young love in the early 1920s.

There are extracts of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s writings as epigraphs to each chapter. Ms. Hughes also includes a bibliography, and notes of how the story came to be. All these touches were appreciated by this reader.

I found the story engaging from start to finish and would recommend it to anyone interested in aviation or family relationships, or to those who enjoy reading good books from new authors.

104countrylife
Mar 19, 2010, 1:22pm Top

Utah. Review:

Heartbreaker by Karen Robards (fiction)

The Uinta mountain range in Utah is descriptively rendered in this story, which at the outset, is about a class of schoolgirls and their mother/chaperons taking a wilderness adventure vacation guided by local outfitters. Boy crazy young teenage girls, athletic outfitters, and mother-daughter relationships make an interesting beginning to the story. Once the action starts, it’s a non-stop thrill ride to the end. The only problem (for me) was that a great deal of that ride was sexual, and apparently required many, many pages of details to tell it. The setting – a 4. The story – 3-1/2. Making me slog through so much slime to get there – 1. Overall, I’m giving it a personally-didn’t-care-for-it 2-1/2 stars. If all the ‘passion’ doesn’t bother you, you may enjoy this little adventure story.

105countrylife
Apr 13, 2010, 10:24pm Top

Louisiana. Review:

Luke's Passage by Max Davis (fiction)

A tough growing up. Luke did something for which he can’t forgive himself. So, he throws away a baseball scholarship and joins the army to get away from his memories. At boot camp, he is befriended by one who’s been through worse and who stays by him through their tour in Vietnam, eventually gaining forgiveness. Read several months ago, my memory is that this was set in the main character’s home of Louisiana, his boot camp in Florida or Alabama, and then Vietnam, the settings were decently rendered. Examining the family dynamics as they change with Luke's big events, the characters were drawn alright, as well. My favorite character was the friend. Details are fuzzy after this amount of time, but the spirit of the story has stayed with me. I wasn’t blown away by the writing, but it is a good story.

106countrylife
Edited: Apr 14, 2010, 12:37pm Top

Another instance where my public school education failed me. I can see where my children may miss things here and there during moves to different school systems, but I was in the same school system from kindergarten to graduation. Yet here was an education about antinomianism, familism/family of love and puritanism.

MASSACHUSETTS. Review:

Covenant of Grace by Jane Gilmore Rushing (historical fiction)

The shores of America were a magnet for those seeking religious freedom. Anne Hutchinson, educated mother of 13 at the beginning of this story, moves with her entire family to Boston, so that she can remain under the teachings of John Cotton, who now makes his home there. So inspiring are his sermons that she soon finds herself talking about them to groups of women in her home. Those groups grow in size; Anne’s expositions grow outside the bounds of what the local puritan leaders consider proper. They accuse her of antinomianism and familism. Anne accuses them of keeping their people tied to a concept of salvation through works. She declares that only John Cotton has gotten it right in speaking about the ‘covenant of grace’. It becomes a battle of words; Anne is brought to trial. Cotton, caught in the middle, eventually joins the John Winthrop faction. Anne and her family are excommunicated and banished.

That’s the story, a matter of historical record. The author did an excellent job of portraying the real persons involved in the antinomian controversy of the 1630s. In this telling, Anne Hutchinson is written as a remarkably sympathetic character. The people, their motivations and reactions felt real, with the exception of one small happening that seemed out of character for Anne. The setting of the Massachusetts Bay Colony also seemed very real, as did their way of living through the various seasons.

There is one portion that was confusing. My notes show that on page 146 John Cotton has become sick and then dies. Later on he is very much a part of the story again. I couldn’t find much online about the author; was her work abandoned before completion and then picked up by someone else later for publication? I didn’t have time to finish typing up the parts I wanted to keep for reference before returning the book to the library. But, I do recall that she had a very good author’s note at the end of the story. And one of the things discussed is events on the timeline of reality and how she had to adapt the timeframes to include everything in the story. Perhaps that John Cotton portion fell through the cracks whilst working that all out.

Of interest, in her author’s note, Ms. Rushing says: “Writers on this subject have occasionally presented Anne Hutchinson as a feminist. I do not see her that way. Although persons concerned with women’s rights may appropriately find in her an inspiration, I have not seen evidence that she gave significant thought or effort to changing the established view of women. The passion of her life was bringing the truth of God as she understood it to men and women equally.”

A historical fiction reader interested in the Massachusetts Bay Colony or puritanism would enjoy this book. I did!

107cbl_tn
Apr 14, 2010, 1:09pm Top

>106 countrylife: That sounds like a great book! Your review makes me want to get hold of it and read it. Unfortunately my library doesn't have it, but I did find another novel about Anne Hutchinson in the library catalog. I've already filled in Massachusetts in this challenge, but I have a religion category in my 1010 Challenge that isn't filled yet. I just may have to put the one I have access to on my reading list for my 1010 Challenge and hope it's as good as this one!

108thornton37814
Apr 14, 2010, 2:11pm Top

It does sound like an interesting book. One of the books I recently read -- maybe The Wordy Shipmates -- had quite a bit about Anne Hutchinson in it.

109countrylife
Apr 15, 2010, 2:09pm Top

I keep plugging any books that I read with a states setting into this challenge, but find myself with some states entered more than once, and others not yet read. Still, I think I'll continue in this vein, but will stop tagging them for the challenge. When I finally read the last state, I'll go back through and pick my strongest winner for each state to wear the challenge tag.

107 - cbl, It would be interesting to read your opinion of a book with another take on Anne. Looking forward to that.

108 - thornton, I had The Wordy Shipmates on my wishlist for awhile, but after reading more reviews about it, decided I probably wouldn't like how this author treated the subject. I would like to read another take on it, though.

110countrylife
Apr 15, 2010, 2:23pm Top

VERMONT (again!). Review:

The Strength of the Hills by Elswyth Thane (memoir)

A city gal, a New York author of historical fiction, decides to use some of her earnings to buy a place in the country for quiet manuscript work and to give her mother room to grow flowers and relax. And so embarks on a learning experience for mind and muscle. With the simple beginning of a garden for food, the seasons also required work for sugar maples, bees, and haying, amidst which reclamation work of the old house and barns must be done. Learning to use the tractor, install electricity, avoid bears and skunks, to learn the what, how and when of each moment’s requirement – all things new to her – the author eventually wrests a home from the hills of Vermont.

Ms. Thane’s descriptions are vivid – of her acres in the hills, her neighbors, and especially of her adopted finch, Che-Wee. Not a spectacular book, but a sweet little read. If you read the CK, don't let the epigraph which contains some Bible verses scare you away; I don't recall even one other reference to religion anywhere in the book. So, this is a 'safe' one regardless of your ideology. You might especially enjoy it if you are a birder.

111countrylife
Apr 15, 2010, 9:57pm Top

NORTH DAKOTA. Review:

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (fiction)

Eleven-year-old Reuben Land shares the story of his family, his little sister Swede, a budding author, his older brother Davy, in trouble with the law, his gentle father, their family friends and people they meet on the road during their search for Davy. The family was already in tough times, but the new circumstances make things worse. Mr. Land believes in miracles, though, and Reuben is coming around to the same conclusion.

This was a delightful and heartwarming read. I found the story compelling, the characterization perfect, and the words, ahh, the words! Like the smiles between two old lovers - sweet and simple, yet reaching so deep. For instance, “…Roxanna’s moment of transfiguration. I like the phrase, which hasn’t been thrown around that much since the High Renaissance, but truly I suppose that moment had been gaining on us, secretly, like a new piece of music played while you sleep. One day you hear it – a strange song, yet one you know by heart.”

Borrowed from the library, this is now on my wishlist’s A-list. I loved it! My Papa is a Mr. Land, well, except for the miracles. … although … now that I think back on it …

112countrylife
Apr 15, 2010, 10:58pm Top

MASSACHUSETTS.

This book had a short passage about Anne Hutchinson; I copied it into the CK, if you want to read it.

Review:

A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi (YA historical fiction)

Between trips to the library, I grabbed this title off a daughter’s shelf. Short, with 'young adult' writing, it was a quick read, but a convincing imagining of a story about the Salem witch trials. The last sentence of the copy on my cover says it well: “She can keep quiet and let the witch-hunt panic continue, or she can “break charity” with the group – and risk having her family named as witches.”

A nicely done YA historical fiction.

113countrylife
Apr 19, 2010, 5:40pm Top

NEW YORK. Review:

The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner (fiction)

This is a sweet treasure of a book. It’s easy to see why it was a runaway best seller back in the day, in an era of Victorian pathos. If you enjoy books about Christian living, you should love this one, with its beautiful writing and realistic characters and setting in a bygone day. This is not historical fiction; its setting seems to be contemporary to the time in which it was written, in the late 19th century.

Ellen Montgomery is a young child living in New York City, with a loving mother and an indifferent father. His wife is the only thing that matters to him, and she is ailing fast. He determines to take her to France for her health and leave the daughter with a half-sister in the country, which decision breaks the hearts of both mother and daughter. Ellen feels as though she’s been thrown out into the wide world, and eventually lands on the stoop of her grim, unmarried relative. Aunt Fortune, who lives with her mother in the country, grudgingly does her duty to her brother.

Ellen finds a friend in the quiet man who manages her aunt’s farm; indeed her innocent longing to please, as she used to have done for her mother, endears her to most everyone she meets. Alice, a young woman who lives on the mountain just a few miles from her aunt, becomes her closest friend and helper. Her happiest hours are spent there in the company of Alice and her family, and here the spiritual growth begun at her mother’s knee is again nourished. Of course, her story, as in real life, has its ups and downs; friends true and false, days happy and sad, character victories and failures, life and death - and life goes on, and we learn or we don’t.

Most of the story is set around Randolph, New York, in a place that encompasses farmland, valleys and mountains. I’ve not been to that area of the state, but after living for a time in upstate New York and skiing the little mountains in the Finger Lakes region, those were the images that came to mind with her descriptions.

Each chapter begins with an epigraph that sets up that section of the story, using selections from Longfellow, Shakespeare, old Scottish ballads, Milton, Burns, Cowper and others, which were a treat in themselves. The book has strange punctuation, with its combinations of commas and dashes.

The prose, though, is beautiful. Here, a picnic with her friends on the mountain: “The moon, meanwhile, rising higher and higher, poured a flood of light through the gap in the woods before them, and stealing among the trees here and there lit up a spot of ground under their deep shadow. The distant picture lay in mazy brightness. All was still, but the ceaseless chirrup of insects, and gentle flapping of leaves; the summer air just touched their cheeks with the lightest breath of a kiss, sweet from distant hay-fields, and nearer pines and hemlocks, and other of nature’s numberless perfume-boxes.”

If you read current Christian fiction authors, for a change of pace, give Elizabeth Wetherell (Susan Warner) a try (or anything by Isabella Alden), and you’ll see why Grace Livingston Hill called her own work (and I’ll add – Janette Oke and those types of writers) as ‘Christian Fiction Light’. Still, because it IS so old-timey, and Christian living IS its theme, it would probably only be enjoyed by those for whom Christianity is a vital part of their life. If that’s you, this charming story will certainly touch your heartstrings.

114cbl_tn
Apr 19, 2010, 7:43pm Top

>113 countrylife: Why haven't I heard of this book before?! It sounds like a good fit for me, and I've added it to my wishlist. Great review!

115countrylife
Apr 19, 2010, 10:05pm Top

cbl_tn: I hope you can find a copy, and then I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I read it months ago, but had such copious notes to type up that I kept putting off my review. Hubby's been out of town for a business meeting, so I've been playing catch-up on my reviews here. While typing up my notes, all those lovely scenes just flooded back again, so fresh it was as if I was reading it anew. This one definitely has staying power. Check out the CK if you'd like to see some more samples of her writing.

116countrylife
Apr 20, 2010, 1:50pm Top

TEXAS. Review:

Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles (historical fiction)

OK, it sounds like a bumper sticker platitude. But: I {heart} Paulette Jiles. This is the third of her books that I’ve picked up, and none have disappointed. She peoples interesting stories into the midst of historical events; the reader gets a fascinating history lesson for mind and heart. Although not my favorite of hers, this is still a great story.

Stormy Weather (cue the song) takes us across the state of Texas during the dust bowl crisis of the 1930s. We learn a lot about oil drilling, match racing and farming and ranching. Perhaps this wasn’t my favorite Jiles because of the topics; I’m not into horses and the oil business makes my eyes glaze over.

Some of her descriptions had me saying, ‘yep, been there’. Having driven the roads between relatives in Oklahoma for years, I’ve watched “The horsehead pumpjacks {working} away untended, nodding and nodding, as if perpetually agreeing with everything…” And at Grandma’s house, “How many times had they hung sheets to sit beside the stove, doubled up naked in a number three washtub…?” (For more of her writing, see the CK.) But, it’s her descriptions of what people did to cope with their situations that make this book.

“Whatever kind of life they had been able to cobble together despite the Depression and the oil fields and their father’s love of good times and gambling was collapsing all around them. . . . They tried to piece their lives together the way people draw maps of remembered places; they get things wrong and out of proportion, they erase and redraw again.”

The family at the center of this story: Jack Stoddard, a father who loves his family but is too fond of a good time, whose pockets empty faster than they fill. Chasing jobs all across Texas, following new oil business; because he was good with horses, he could haul supplies. Dragging his family from shed to tent to shared rickety old houses. Elizabeth Tolliver Stoddard, a mother who tries to make a home with very little to work with. And their girls: Mayme, her heart on her sleeve, but a loyal and eager to help sister, 15; Jeanine, “Daddy’s girl” and the practical one, 13; and Bea, the imaginative “bookish” sister, 6 at the beginning of the story. Each (and everyone else in the story) fully realized; very good characterization.

As always with Paulette Jiles: Highly recommended.

117countrylife
Apr 20, 2010, 11:18pm Top

MINNESOTA. Review:

So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger (historical fiction)

I loved Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, and didn’t see how he could possibly reach that bar. Well, OK, maybe not ~quite~, but then again, he set that bar awfully high with River. Nonetheless, So Brave, Young and Handsome is a GREAT read. To my mind, the story wasn’t ~quite~ as engaging as River, so his beautiful prose didn’t have ~quite~ as much to cling to. Qualifications - only because his first was SO good. But Brave is so much better than the average book that qualifications hardly matter.

Read months ago, the book had to be returned to the library before I finished the notes, so I’m flying by the seat of my skirt here, and trying not to do injustice to a good book.

The narrator is Monte Becket, an author who lives alongside a river (I say that because it matters) with his artist wife, Susannah, and eleven-year-old son, Redstart. They befriend Glendon, an old gentleman who soon becomes like a part of their family. When Glendon decides to leave the area to go find the girl he lost many years ago, Monte goes a-journey with him, to keep him company and to find inspiration for his writing. Adventures abound, involving, for starters, trains, citrus trees, escapes, cinnamon rolls, outlaws, bridges, boat building and Charlie Siringo.

Here is a taste of Enger’s writing, with Monte talking about being a writer:
“ ‘Jack London sets down a thousand a day before breakfast,’ said I. Why do the foolish insist? But I was thinking of the modest dimensions a thousand words actually describe – a tiny essay, a fragment of conversation. ‘How hard can it be?’ concluded your idiot narrator, lifting his glass to the future.”

“She was a refined woman. It was disturbing to imagine her slinging my manuscript, goaded by my weak idioms.”

“I looked at my son, the lover of mysteries. You could never guess what Redstart might say, for his mind was made of stories; he’d gathered all manner of splendid facts about gunpowder and deserts of the world and the anchoring of lighthouses against the furious sea; he knew which members of the James gang had once ridden into our town to knock over a bank and been shot to moist rags for their trouble; and about me he knew some things not even his mother knew, such as the exact number of novels I had abandoned on that porch.”

Looks like I also neglected to jot down its time period. Siringo died in 1928, and he was old in this story, so I’m going out on a limb and saying that the story is set in the 1920s; it covers a lot of territory between Minnesota and California. With elements of a western, friendship, love, forgiveness and humor also come into play. This is so much more than a western, but for starters, I’ll say – if you like westerns, give this a try. Beyond that, though, if you like a good story with great writing, you can’t go wrong with Leif Enger, whether you call it a western or a character study or an adventure story. Bottom line: it’s just a great book.

118countrylife
May 12, 2010, 8:09pm Top

ALABAMA. Review:

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg.

So sugary, it made my teeth ache! Old feller, an orphan from Chicago, advised by his doctor to seek a warmer clime to prolong his otherwise quickly-declining life, is given a brochure for a health resort in Alabama. Calling for information, he is connected to one of the town’s many busybodies, who informs him that the resort closed years ago, but she’ll dig around to find him a place. And so, Oswald T. Campbell becomes a resident of Lost River, Alabama. Enter all the lovable quirky small-town characters, the unresolved conflict with a tribe of Creoles across the river, a small unloved girl and a cardinal. Ms. Flagg painted a location that sounds like it would be a lovely place to visit – a friendly small town on a small river with lush vegetation and wildlife. Gardening, fishing, and birding are all things residents enjoy. I do declare, though, you’ve never SEEN so many happy endings! Well, it’s a Christmas story after all. Just beware – it’s sweeter than a plate full of Christmas fudge. (3 stars)

119countrylife
Edited: May 12, 2010, 9:58pm Top

KENTUCKY. Review:

A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House. (historical fiction)

This is a beautifully written story of love and family, guilt and forgiveness. The prologue and epilogue are written in third person, while the body of the story is narrated by Vine, a Cherokee descended from a group who hid during Removal and remained in their Kentucky mountains. Now the mid-1910s, big-man in town is ousting the Redbud Camp Cherokees without so much as payment for their land, taking over their mountain to build his mansion. Saul is sent to work on clearing the building area, when he meets and falls in love with Vine.

I loved this book. I’m trying to work out why it spoke to me so. It’s not historically significant, or deep, or fancy in any way. It is written in very simple language. “And then I knowed that I was fooling myself. The rains of spring would not wash away what had already been done.” Simple, but with such beauty and clarity. The setting, though we still see it through Vine’s simple words, is just as lovely to my mind as it is to her eyes. You come to know her places and what she thinks of them, as if you are there, too. Her garden, the path between their home and her mother-in-law’s home, the cooling river, her old home-place – the scenery was lovingly painted. The characters were true to their time, their thoughts and motives believable. And so well described that you could see them in your mind and know how they felt. Perhaps it’s the Cherokee in me, or the fact that I spent my youthful summers in a place very similar to the area described, or that I’ve known and loved my share of Esmes. I don’t know why; I just loved it!

Mr. House’s creation has a lot to like. I liked both mothers; I liked the local midwife. Not sure about the violets. Where I’m from, violets bloom in the early spring, and then just a month or two. They wouldn’t be there for the picking on a hot, sultry day. Maybe they grow a different kind in Kentucky; hope so, ‘cause I don’t want to not like anything about this book. But I forgive him if he got that wrong, because everything else felt so right, including speaking a woman’s voice – he even got that right. If you happen on this review, please go check out the CK for quotations from Parchment of Leaves so you can read some snippets from the pen of Silas House. Then I’m sure you’ll want to read his book yourself.

One of my top four reads this year. I loved it! (5 stars)

120cbl_tn
May 12, 2010, 10:07pm Top

Great review! A Parchment of Leaves is now on my wishlist!

121countrylife
May 13, 2010, 4:04pm Top

MAINE. Review:

Tales of the Maine Coast by Noah Brooks (fiction)

This is a book of seven short stories, written by Noah Brooks (1830-1903), a native of Castine, Maine. Reading his stories makes me think that he may have had a mischievous boyhood, for there are boys and their doings as a sidelight to each story. He must have loved his home town, for the descriptions are so picturesque.

The author says, “The setting of these short tales is mainly in and around the ancient town of Castine, Me., thinly disguised under the name of “Fairport.” That town was the birthplace and is the present habitation of the author, who has sketched many of his characters from real life. All of the stories were written as diversions at infrequent intervals during the later years of a busy life with the hope that readers may find in them the same recreation that the writer has, and at the same time gain some notion of the characteristics of the people and the natural scenery of the Maine coast.”

The short stories included in this book are:
Pansy Pegg. About an orphan girl, raised by the locals, rough and sturdy, and thinking herself unlovable, who rejects a suitor.

The Apparition of Jo Murch. During an unsavory career in slave-trafficking, the black sheep of the town, Jotham Murch, was reported to have been hung for piracy in Portsmouth harbor. But here is one who is claiming to be Jo Murch, back to the home-town and chewing the fat about all the good old times.

The Hereditary Barn. “Very gloomy and poverty-stricken did the Joslin place appear to old man Joslin in the winter of 1807, when, an embargo having been declared by the United States Government, a blight fell on every industry of the New England seaboard States.” And the hereditary barn takes its first toll, with the suicide of a despondent farmer, followed by a gloomy family history of more of the same. Until something changes.

The Phantom Sailor. A seaport town, so many boys and men lost at sea. Three mothers, missing their lost sons. A sailor returns home, going straight to each home in turn, each mother thinking this her own returned son.

The Honor of a Family. Extended family living together in the old family home. The oldest daughter’s husband is a pain in every way. Her brother, the only son of the family who hadn’t gone to sea, finally marries, but his wife is unable to conceive. They adopt a youngster from the poor-house. The brother-in-law doesn’t want to lose anything to a usurper, so tries to ‘expose’ him.

The Waif of Nautilus Island. A bad storm, a broken vessel, sailors washed ashore, one bearing an infant, which the family raises as their own.

A Century Ago. A scene from the Revolutionary War from ‘the fort’ at Castine, Maine. I wonder if there is some family history in this one. All the other stories are cloaked, as the author says, in the fictional town of Fairport, but this story says Castine. The family in this story is named Perkins, and Noah Brooks’ mother was a Perkins. When one of the boys asked another character what they fought for. The other says, “Wal ! you’ll hev to ask your ma about that. She wuz a Perkins, and some of her folks fit into the Revolutionary war. There wuz old Captain Joe Perkins; he wuz your gran’ther Perkins’s gran’ther, or great-gran’ther, I don’t justly know which. But it was a great fight, anyway.”

I don’t know that any of these stories were extraordinary, but Mr. Brooks certainly made me fall in love with his neck of the woods with his descriptive scenery. OK, you got me. I was already head-over-heels in love with Maine. But, still I enjoyed the book. (3-1/2 stars)

122countrylife
Jul 20, 2010, 1:51pm Top

My husband lost his job 57 days ago, so I've been busy with resumes and the whole job search thing, and haven't had much time for LT. But while he's away on an interview, I had to sneak on and get an over-due ER review posted.

IOWA. Review:

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover

Midwestern farms will never ‘look’ the same to me again. I don’t say that lightly, for I am a Midwestern gal, grown up on a farm, and chose to raise my own children on an acreage in farmland in order to give them a similar experience. I had an idyllic childhood; many chores, of course – household, garden, field and livestock. But in addition – a gorgeous old Victorian farmhouse filled with family, friends and great food, and shaded by huge old elms whose branches supported many hours of childhood reading.

Never once had it crossed my mind, “what stories have these old walls to tell?” But those old farms have long histories. Michelle Hoover tells some of these events in her debut novel ‘The Quickening’. Told in reminiscences looking back from 1950 to events in their young womanhood, and straddling the years from 1913 to 1939, two neighbors, Enidina Current and Mary Morrow expose their need of and bitterness toward each other over the circumstances in their lives and times and how each one’s actions impacted the other and their families.

I knew nothing of Agriculture Secretary Wallace and his order to kill six million pigs in 1933. But how it ripped apart the lives of small farmers in that day, Ms. Hoover gives us a picture. And many more pictures – of a hardscrabble life of raising your every morsel; of a hard day’s physical work dawn to dark; of neighbors few and far between; of loneliness and misunderstandings; of childbearing and child rearing.

As a mother, ‘quickening’ is a familiar term to me and the date was recorded for each of my children. But how different my time is from what these ladies experienced. For me, medical care is just moments away. For their time and place, quickening did not always end with a baby in their arms. My grandmother was the age of Enidina and Mary and must have faced many of the same things. How I wish I had her here to ask! About birth, though, we did get to talk once. She was horrified that I chose to have some of my babies at home, for she almost died with her first child (my father), bleeding so badly that she soaked completely through the straw of her mattress into the storage boxes below it.

In this story, it seems to me that, while ‘the quickening’ is obviously used in the maternal sense, in another sense (‘to stir up, rouse or stimulate’) it refers to those incidents on which turn the lives of these two ladies. In Mary’s life, it seemed she never felt what should have been her quickenings, or if felt, not nurtured. The author got Mary’s last chapter perfectly. Enidina’s final quickening tore my heart; I had not anticipated that turn of story.

As I pass these old farms now, I imagine the hard work and hard times that their previous owners endured in creating their life from the land. I loved this book. Ms. Hoover has written a moving story, in a vividly painted setting, with heartbreakingly real characters.

Highly, highly recommended.

123Copperskye
Jul 21, 2010, 11:39pm Top

I enjoyed your review of The Quickening. I have it reserved at the library so I'll probably use it for my Iowa book, too.

Sorry to read of your husband's job loss. It can be such a worry. Hope the interview process is going well.

124countrylife
Feb 4, 2011, 1:45pm Top

Six months of job-hunting have finally paid off, so 'YAY!', I have time to come back and play on LibraryThing again!

125countrylife
Feb 4, 2011, 1:47pm Top

NEBRASKA. Review:

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

I enjoyed this book, largely because the setting is Nebraska, a state I called home for many years.
If you've ever driven through Nebraska (it seems that people who say they've been to Nebraska usually mean that they've driven through it - in one side and out the other, driving the interstate on the way to somewhere else), you may remember the middle part, where land is flat and roads are laid out on a mile grid and dotted with farms. That was my home. For fun, we drove to the area where this book is set – as the author says, “southeastern Nebraska is hillier than many people realize” - for weekends of camping with beautiful scenery. Stephanie Kallos described it perfectly.

Nebraska holds pockets of ethnic groups in scattered communities; Czech, German and Swedish towns all were near our neck of the woods. I enjoyed the author's descriptions of Welsh culture, and their singing traditions.

She also got it right describing the University of Nebraska; I have a son who will soon graduate from there, so I've been on campus numerous times. Even her description about “ the granddaddy of all university programs, the one that inhabits the symbolic epicenter of severe storm reporting: the University of Oklahoma” brought smiles of remembrance of our visit to the meteorology center at OU during the time before another son graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

Just listen to me rambling on and on … unemployed for a very long stretch and now uprooted, I guess my heart-strings set to twangin' with this read. Moving on … with apologies ...

So the setting was evocatively descriptive. The characters, too - very real in their personal dimensions and their relationships, especially the grown siblings. I enjoyed the device of the mother's diary, filling in the back-story but lost to the tornado and never read by her family.

I'm not a believer in ghosts, but still smiled my way through the author's 'dead mothers' and 'dead fathers' and their thoughts about the goings-on happening around them.

Sing Them Home is a very emotional book. The pain of watching your own body degenerate with M.S., while wanting your children to remember you whole. Love lost, while substitutes try to fill the hole – food, working out, collecting, searching. Small town life – mediocrity and solace.

And all of it so very well written. (4 stars)

126countrylife
Feb 6, 2011, 11:59am Top

KENTUCKY. Review:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Closing the book for the last time, I was struck by my copy's cover – the snow that set the stage for events to unfold as they did, the darkness ahead, the empty toddler's dress; the cover designer's ethereal creation perfectly captured the book.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter was an interesting book, exploring the devastation caused in the lives of one family by one rash decision, kept secret, and its after-effects. Some of the subjects involved were grief, love, Down Syndrome, adultery, photography, siblings, parents and children, death and secrets.

Dr. Henry was motivated by the memory of his young sister's death due to medical issues; “This was the grief he had carried with him, heavy as a stone in his heart. This was the grief he had tried to spare Norah and Paul, only to create so many others.” “.. when he slid his arms around her again, he was thinking, I love you. I love you so much, and I lied to you. And the distance between them, millimeters only, the space of a breath, opened up and deepened, became a cavern at whose edge he stood.”

The setting was decently done, though not a riveting “sense of place”. Some stretches of plausibility, some inconsistencies, but overall, I enjoyed the story and the writing. (3-1/2 stars)

127EBT1002
Feb 6, 2011, 12:28pm Top

countrylife - your travels around the country are wonderful to read about. Thanks for sharing this journey. I'm just starting a similar one with no particular timeline attached to it and I'm starring your thread for helpful tips on reads for some of the states.
Thanks!
Ellen

128cbl_tn
Feb 6, 2011, 4:18pm Top

I don't have a Nebraska book yet, and Sing Them Home sounds really good. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

129countrylife
Feb 7, 2011, 10:18am Top

ALASKA. Review:

Tisha by Robert Specht

Thoroughly enjoyable memoir of Anne Hobbs (1901-1987), Alaskan schoolteacher, as told to author Robert Specht. He took some liberty with location and age, but if the rest of the account is to be believed, Anne's was a remarkable life.

Hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to teach in Chicken, a remote settlement in Alaska, this young 'white' woman does things her own way and treats all the children the same, white or Indian, which riles up the whites. Remembering her own youth, rejected for being part Cherokee while growing up in Missouri, and then dirt-poor in mining camps in Colorado, her Cherokee grandmother her only ally, Anne stands her ground to give her Indian charges an equal education and chance at life. Further complicating her role in the community, she falls in love with a half-breed.

This is the story of Anne's adventures in Alaska, learning to live with scarcity, dealing with extreme cold and poverty, and with extremes in people, as well – from gruff but kind-hearted 'old-timers' to openly resentful Indian-haters; from those who came to strike-it-rich and desperately want to leave but can't afford it, to those who love the wild country for what it is, the True Alaskans.

Anne, herself, became a True Alaskan, living there most of her life. The last chapter of her book, dated 1975, tells the rest of her story, and I shan't give away the end, but it was fitting to her initial goals and her heart life.

With a stunning sense of place, this is a nicely written story of courage and love. Recommended! (7 out of 10 stars)

130cbl_tn
Feb 7, 2011, 10:22am Top

Tisha has been on my wish list for a while. I'm not a school teacher, nor do I have any school teachers in the family, but I'm always drawn to books about teachers. This one sounds good!

131countrylife
Feb 7, 2011, 12:46pm Top

cbl, I hope you get to read it some day and enjoy it as much as I do. And thank you, too, for my welcome back!

132countrylife
Feb 7, 2011, 12:55pm Top

Thanks for stopping in to my reading list, EBT (127). Brand new to LT, and you've already jumped into some great groups. I'm sure you'll love it here as much as the rest of us! Welcome!

133thornton37814
Feb 7, 2011, 7:21pm Top

Tisha is on my wishlist as well. I was hoping our local library had a copy, but they don't. I'll eventually order it via Interlibrary Loan most likely.

134countrylife
Feb 8, 2011, 10:52am Top

Well, I could send you my copy thornton, but by the time my mother and five sisters are done reading it, it may be a while!

135countrylife
Edited: Mar 5, 2011, 5:55am Top

NEW YORK. Review:

The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby

This story gripped me from the very first words of the prologue: “The silken hair of the three children glows bone white in the moonlight as they paddle the stolen canoe out into the icy waters of Canandaigua Lake.”

Set in Canandaigua, New York, called the Chosen Spot by the Seneca, Ms. Ruby beautifully plants the scenes of her story in words that blossom full-screen in the mind. The landscape of this area of the Finger Lakes comes alive, and with those scenes of nature, the sense of history and significance of its first people with their reverent fusion of life and nature.

(Aside: So taken was I with this author, that I sought out her website (IlieRuby.com). When I clicked “Watch the Trailer”, the images of her story were just as I'd imagined them, so fully had she captured them in word.)

The writing is perfectly suited to the story, with a kind of lyricism that floats through the ages, that conjures images of secrets fluttering amidst the leaves of the trees; a lovely and lovingly written merging of present and past, groundedness and soaring, grief and healing, and painted in brushstrokes of magical realism. Peopled with believable, fully realized, characters and imagery, this is a story both heart-rending and hopeful.

I appreciate the author's participation in LibraryThing's 'Hobnob with Authors' group, and her gift of this book for my review. My heart was engaged with the story and its characters, my soul with the beauty of the setting, and my mind with the captivating writing. I loved this book.

Review (Read January 2011 - 4 stars)

136countrylife
Edited: Mar 5, 2011, 5:56am Top

CALIFORNIA. Review:

Solomon's Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

A poignant story about broken hearts healing. A widow, a wounded police officer, an abandoned child, all find healing under the shade of Solomon’s Oak.

Tenderly and slowly shedding light on the lives of three broken individuals, illuminating their past hurts, thoughts and future hopes, Jo-Ann Mapson has written a beautiful and compassionate love story. The love of mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, pets and owners, people and nature, and friendships, are all knit together into a heart-touching story.

Simply lovely.

Review (Read October 2010 - 4 stars)

137countrylife
Feb 19, 2011, 8:25am Top

MINNESOTA. Review:

Tying the Knot by Susan May Warren

Wearing scars from her past, both physical and emotional, Anne Lundstrom leaves her EMT work in Minneapolis for the safety and security of a small town in northern Minnesota, where she hopes to get hired at the local hospital. Noah Standing Bear (Ojibwa and Swede) is working to open a wilderness challenge summer camp for inner-city kids and must find a camp nurse in order to secure funding.

Rather a beach-read kind of a romance. Predictable. You know who will end up together; you're just along for the ride. And the ride took me through some seedy parts of inner-city Minneapolis, but some beautiful Lake Superior scenery, nicely described. The characters were believable, both their insecurities and their spiritual longings. It felt like Anne continued too angsty too long through the story, but I haven't been through what the character (nor her author) has been through, so perhaps I'm not the best judge of that. I enjoyed the story, and the setting, though probably not enough to seek out another in the series.

Contemporary Christian fiction is a genre I seldom read, so I'm unsure how to rate this. Certainly it is much better than the Grace Livingston Hills (which nostalgia won't allow me to turn loose of). If LT was capable of nuance, I would probably give it a rating of 3.25.

138mariesansone
Feb 20, 2011, 10:47pm Top

I absolutely loved Tisha. I read the book during the 1980s while rafting the
Yukon River in the general vicinity (Eagle to Circle), with a side trip to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. My copy of Tisha is all water-stained and warped, and every time I see it on my bookshelf, it brings back lots of memories from that rainy trip. Another year, I made the bumpy gravel trek to Chicken for a fall camping trip. Tisha is totally authentic.

139countrylife
Feb 22, 2011, 2:36pm Top

marie/138: What fascinating times you've had! I would go back to Alaska in a heartbeat, but I'm afraid I'd take the warm, dry and cozy way, myself, and just read about the cold, frozen, dangerous parts in books! The last time I went to Alaska was with my sister and our elderly parents. Although we saw some wonderful sights and had the best times of our lives, they weren't anything like yours! The closest we got to 'action' was when Raymie Redington (son of Iditarod founder Joe) took my sister on a (wheeled) sled ride behind his dogs. And when a humpback surfaced so close to where I was standing on our little boat, that I could have reached out and touched him (if I hadn't been so startled!).

140countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:08am Top

Still trying to gear back up into LibraryThing mode. Looking around to the various groups for a place to keep a list of all my reads, I settled on the 75 Books Challenge group. As I'm keeping my main reading list there, please forgive repetition as I plug in the books with state settings here.

141countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:11am Top

CALIFORNIA. Review:

The Browns at Mt. Hermon by Isabella Alden

Published in 1908, the setting for this book is the 'new' camp at Mt. Hermon, California. Her description of the locale, set amidst towering redwoods, is beautiful. Surprisingly enough, current photographs on the Mount Hermon website show the natural setting of the camp looking as Pansy described it over 100 years ago.

I've read all but a handful of Pansy's 88 books for adults and young adults, and this is the only one I recall being a comedy. The Browns of the title begin with Mary Brown, who continually meets more Browns as she travels west to this camp at Mount Hermon. Her experiences with her new Brown acquaintances form the comedy, yet at its heart, this, as all of Pansy's books are, is didactic fiction.

It is not one of her best works, still I enjoyed it, though probably because I'm a die-hard Pansy fan. (3 stars)

142countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:12am Top

MARYLAND. Review:

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

A coming of age story, somehow both blunt and sensitive, about one girl's growing up on the Chesapeake.

The back of my book says, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated....” With her grandmother's taunt, Louise knew that she, like the biblical Esau, was the despised elder twin. Caroline, her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved. Perceiving the unjustness of her grandmother, this colors her reactions within all her other relationships, as Louise nurses those perceptions and misperceptions, creating for herself a harder childhood than it needed to have been. In the end, those things she learned in her youth stood her in good stead for her calling in life.

Katherine Paterson does an excellent job of setting, characterization and story. (3-1/2 stars)

143countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:20am Top

WASHINGTON D.C. Review:

An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi

Ann Rinaldi doing what she does so well – historical fiction for young adults. It is the spring of 1865 in Washington D.C., where 14 year old Emily Pigbush has just lost her mother. Now an orphan, her father having died in the civil war, she plans to live with her friend, Annie, and help out with the Surratt family's boardinghouse. When President Lincoln is assassinated and her friend's family comes under suspicion, her only other alternative is to live with her Uncle Valentine, against her mother's expressed wishes. For she had known something shady was going on there.

The American Civil War had made the physicians involved in it even more aware of the deficiencies of their medical education, specifically anatomy and dissection. Even as more people were training to be doctors, there were fewer bodies available for dissection. In the author's note, she details that in Vermont, between 1820 and 1840, there were more than 1600 medical students, needing 400 cadavers. “Only two bodies a year were made available legally. … State legislators had not yet made up laws to deal with supplying bodies for teaching. … Grave robbing became a lucrative activity.”

Emily and her uncle are fictional characters in this story, which also includes appearances by Elizabeth Keckley, John Wilkes Booth, Annie and Johnny Surratt, Dr. Samuel Mudd, General George Armstrong Custer and other people of historical significance. Ms. Rinaldi did a fine job of making her characters believable. The setting was adequately pictured. The story was engaging for a young adult history lesson. She covered the assassination, the city in mourning, and the trials well enough for a YA novel. I thought she gravitated too much to the eery side of the procurement of cadavers, and not enough to the medical advantages once procured. As that seemed to be the point of the book, I thought the story short-changed itself there.

Otherwise, a very good book. (3.2 stars)

144countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:23am Top

INDIANA. Review:

Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter

To see one little corner of the country undisturbed, look in the pages of Freckles. Gene Stratton-Porter has so vividly captured the Limberlost swamp area of Indiana, that you feel as though you've been there. Into that location, she sets Freckles, a 19 year old orphan, with one hand, but strong heart and initiative, who would do anything for the boss-man who shows him kindness and gives him a job. Freckles' adventures made for some happy reading, starting with his fear of the creatures on the land he must guard against timber thieves, his “chickens”, yearning for knowledge, and friendship with the Bird-Lady and the Swamp-Angel. A nice old-fashioned story. I enjoyed it. (3.5 stars)

145countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:26am Top

Another Indiana book by the same author, because they came to hand as I was unpacking a box...

INDIANA. Review:

A Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton-Porter

Kate, youngest daughter of an intractable man and his cowed wife, is expected to stay home to be the family drudge when all the rest of her siblings have flown. Were it necessary, it could be borne, but her father is a wealthy man, tightfisted. Each of the seven sons is given house, stock, and 200 acres of good land at twenty-one; and to each of nine daughters a bolt of muslin and a fairly decent dress when she married. Other sisters have had their chance at teaching, which was something that girls could 'do' in those days (late 19th/early 20th century) to earn their bread until they were married. Kate wants her chance, and takes it herself, in defiance of her father. This precipitates ten years forced absence from home, during which she learns much in the school of hard knocks.

In the town where she will teach, she boards with an unlikeable woman, whose unlikeable son tries to court her. She teaches successfully her first season, then goes to the Chautauqua Teacher's Meetings for more training, where she meets a wealthy businessman from Chicago, who also courts her. Her life takes some unexpected turns along the way, and through it all, she yearns for land.

The setting is, of course, Indiana, described quite nicely as usual. Some of the people were one-dimensional (Father). But the mother and her closest-in-age sister were written well, with the sister's relationship growing with maturity in the way that it did, and Kate's dawning understanding of her mother.

This is a love story, the love of a girl for the land, and the love of man and maiden. Both loves are beautifully fulfilled by the end. I'm a sucker for lilacs, cabbage roses and Chautauqua, and since the flowers and the camp both figured so prominently in it, I especially enjoyed this sweet, old-fashioned tale. (3.2/5)

146countrylife
Edited: Mar 5, 2011, 6:29am Top

PENNSYLVANIA. Review:

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Matilda Cook, 16, finding herself in the middle of the yellow fever epidemic which raged through Philadelphia in the summer of 1793, learns about self-reliance in order to make it through that awful time. The story was well done, showing the horrors of the illness, the devastation of losing so many people, the heroics of the doctors and the members of the Free African Society, the desperation of being without food – no longer having a market there yet prevented from entering any other towns. This is a history lesson with a face.

Chapters are short, and each prefaced with writings from around the time pictured. The early chapters with notes from household management books: From Chapter Six: Directions to the housemaid: Always when you sweep a room, throw a little wet sand all over it, and that will gather up all the flue and dust. -Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery, 1747 Epigraphs in later chapters are excerpts from letters of the period. Chapter Twenty-two: Yesterday the worst day yet. Even those who are not sick have eyes tinged with yellow. More doctors are ill and dying. -Dr. Benjamin Rush, letter, 1793

The author's appendix was especially nice, with succinct sections about topics introduced in the text - Battle of the Doctors, Where are They Buried?, The Amazing Peale Family, Free African Society, Coffeehouses, the French Influence, Famous People Touched by the Fever, and more.

An excellent young adult historical fiction novel. (4 stars)

147countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:32am Top

NEW YORK. Review:

Look to the Hills: The diary of Lozette Moreau, a French Slave Girl by Patricia C. Mckissack

Part of the Dear America series, Look to the Hills: The Diary of Lozette Moreau, a French Slave Girl (New York Colony, 1763) is written at a child's level, but full of the scholarship that author Patricia C. McKissack brings to her work. This story follows Lozette (Zettie), born on a slave ship as her mother dies, to a brief stay at a convent, then being sold as a companion to a young girl in France, where she lives on friendly terms with her mistress, Marie-Louise Boyer (Ree). Ree's oldest brother joins the military and is presumed dead in America, which news precipitates her father's death. Her next brother then squanders the family fortunes and sells everything to stay out of debtor's prison. Ree escapes with Zettie to America.

There is a good history and geography lesson here about Cape Breton Island, the great lakes, the New York wilderness, and Indian relations with the different Europeans. A “Historical Notes” section at the end, shows pictures of maps, slave ships, and the real persons depicted in this story.

A sample: That need to be free is a force that draws people to this land. It goes beyond being French, English, Dutch, Spanish, man, woman, rich, poor, slave, or free. I can feel the energy of that yearning all around me in the colonists, the trappers, the soldiers.

Very nicely done. 3.6 stars

148countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:44am Top

KANSAS. Review:

The Horse and Buggy Doctor by Arthur E. Hertzler

To sum it up, this book might be called an anecdotal history of medicine as practiced in the rural west of the United States from the mid-1800's through 1938. But it is so much more. (And all that I covered in the review.)

Here I'll just say that, writing about his own past as a country doctor in rural Kansas way back when, he does bring it all to life. From the simple homes where he performed kitchen surgery to the hospital he later built. From the roads too muddy for his buggy to the halls of the university where he studied in Berlin. It was all very vivid.

Full of pithy down-home wit, masking a brilliant mind which was recognized in Berlin for what it was, but utilized back in Kansas for the good of his own kind, and mankind - this was a wonderful memoir. (4.6 stars)

149countrylife
Mar 5, 2011, 6:54am Top

ILLINOIS. Review:

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

Capital “L” LOVED it!

This is a tender portrayal of friendship, and a beautiful story. I loved Ms. Gee's characters – Hannah, the Asian cellist in a troubled marriage; Madeline, the widow who opened the local tea-salon; Julia, the mother whose son died 5 years before; Connie, the young industrious laundromat attendant; the men, siblings and children in these ladies' lives – all very believable and very well written, from each character's introduction through the progression of the story, uncovering layers to their personalities. Even the minor players were so fleshed out; I cannot wait for the next book in the series to read more about all of them.

The catalyst which began these particular friendships, and the background story line here, is about an innocuous plate of friendship bread accompanied by a bag of starter, left on a neighborhood doorstep, and the evolution of things in that community begun of that one act. The vignettes of the various Avalonians encountering 'the stuff' for the first time bring a little lightheartedness. The story is entirely believable and well summed up in a newspaper article written by one of the characters, It's a slice of American contemporary history, an edible chain letter that fills people with equal amounts of hope and dread.

I loved the way the author wove together the different threads of her tapestry - baking, music, friendship, and particularly the ladies. I thought Julia was touchingly written.

Of Julia: Some well-meaning person gave her an article about bereaved parents and she made the mistake of reading it. It talked about how, when a child dies, a branch on the family tree is broken. New branches can grow, but they'll never replace the branch that has broken. For Julia, it's not just the branch that has broken. She feels as if the whole tree has been uprooted. And, 5 years after her son's death, meeting his best friend again: “He's bigger...” Julia tries to say, but the words get stuck in her throat.

Of Madeline: ..Madeline never craved youth the way some women did. … She doesn't mind the gray or the wrinkles, not even her failing eyesight. But it's the energy that she misses, the seemingly boundless well that young people take for granted.

Of the symphony: ..this moment, this perfect moment where she can witness 109 people of different ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities, each with their own stories and tragedies and moments of joy, play together in perfect harmony.

I found it endearing, the way she started the book with the 81 year old widower and ended it with his daughter. To me, it seemed as if she was emphasizing the circle, the continuity of life and love and community. Darien Gee (Mia King) is a new author to me, but I am head over heels in love with her writing, and will definitely seek out more of her work.

At the end of the book, she has provided information about Compassionate Friends and other helpful resources. And, of course, friendship bread recipes. Its probably been over a dozen years since I've made Friendship Bread. I think it may be time.

Highly recommended. (5 stars)

150countrylife
Edited: May 5, 2011, 4:51pm Top

Note to self: States that I haven't read at least one book for:

Colorado
Delaware
Hawaii
Idaho
Michigan
Mississippi
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
Ohio
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Virginia
West Virginia

Good grief! I still have 15 states left to go!

151countrylife
Edited: Apr 1, 2011, 10:16am Top

IOWA. Review:

Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by robert James Waller

The man is apparently good at his craft; writes well and all that.

Sample: Down the halls of the administration building he went, admiring the waxed oak floors, inhaling the vapors of incompetent power radiating from the walls and oozing from under darkened doors like smoke from a burning village where truth and beauty had once been found.

The main setting is a fictional college town in Iowa, with background in Custer, South Dakota, and large portions of the story taking place in India. His most descriptive writing was of India, a place I've never been, but could feel myself there in his words. He was thorough with his characters, too, but the only ones I cared for were her father and his mother; all the rest, including the main characters of the middle-aged college professor, and the wife of another professor, rubbed me the wrong way. But he seemed to save his most lavish descriptions for the sex scenes, of which there were plenty. Had I known its substance, I would not have picked up this book; adultery stories aren't my cup of tea. If that isn't something that bothers you, you may enjoy this book for its writing.

For myself, it gets a personally-didn't-care-for-it rating of 2 stars.

152countrylife
Edited: Apr 1, 2011, 10:15am Top

MONTANA. Review:

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

Even when it stands vacant the past is never empty. In The Whistling Season, Paul Milliron returns to his childhood home in the capacity of Montana's Superintendent of Schools, on a hateful errand to shut down the state's one-room schools. Back at his vacant childhood home, the never-empty past of Paul's youth comes to us through the author's pen.

If you are of an age to remember the TV series, The Waltons, you'll understand what I mean when I say that this story played in my head like an episode of The Waltons. With just the merest hint of what is going on in his life in the story's 'now' (late 1950s), framing the story of what happened 'then', when he was about 13 (1910). It was spare living but a full life, lived with his father and brothers, and riding their horses to the one-room schoolhouse, same as the rest of the 'neighbors'. Arrow heads, buffalo bones, Halley's comet, irrigation projects, dryland farming, cooking, language and learning Latin, and dreaming are the stuff of Paul's youth.

Montana was real to me in this book. I may not have been in the saddle (thank you, says the horse), but I felt the dust and the frost. These people were real to me, too, especially the brothers. Their various personalities and temperaments were true to each throughout. Setting, characters and story – everything – was perfect.

Close the book for the last time, close your eyes, and you'll still hear the whistling – the wind, the woman and the swans. It is a harmony in the ears of my heart, the melody of a lost way of life, the song of one-room schoolhouses, of the young folks educated there, and the sturdy pioneers from which they descended.

I loved this book! (5 stars)

153countrylife
Apr 1, 2011, 10:14am Top

OKLAHOMA. Review:

Someone Cry For the Children by Michael Wilkerson

Someone Cry for the Children: The Unsolved Girl Scout Murders of Oklahoma and the Case of Gene Leroy Hart is written by two brothers, formerly in Oklahoma law enforcement and both major players in this case.

On their first night of Girl Scout camp, in the summer of 1977, Lori Farmer (8), Michelle Guse (9), and Doris Milner (10), were brutally murdered. This is the story of many dedicated people seeking justice on their behalf. Although not a true-crime reader, I was able to follow the case as it was presented in the book - the facts of the case, the evidence, the process of eliminating suspects, determination of the likely killer, the manhunt, his capture, the trial and The Aftermath.

Some of the elements which drove the way the case played out were: the rugged tick infested hills of northeastern Oklahoma, a full-blooded Cherokee local-football-star as defendant, bad judgment by one of the good guys, and – believe it or not – medicine men.

If Hart had killed the children, he was standing upon their blood and swearing to God that he had not committed these acts. In the Cherokee religion where God is supreme and reigns over all men, truth is the medium which is found in the Cherokee tobacco. . . . He would use the Old One {the strongest medicine/tobacco} as a vehicle to determine who was telling the truth. Crying Wolf knew that the final determination would be exacting. He knew that either Pete Weaver or Gene Leroy Hart would die.

Although certainly adequate to the telling of the story, this book was not particularly well written, and perhaps had a whiff of self-aggrandizement. None of that bothered me, though, as the case deserved to be told.

Still, I had a couple of quibbles: For instance, I took offense (on the parents' behalf) to one sentence describing a scene in the courtroom where the jury is being shown slides of the crime scene. He says, The parents of the victims sat stoically with only an occasional bobbing of the head or a stare at the floor. They had long since become hardened to what had happened to their children. “Hardened” smacks of insensitivity or misunderstanding; he could have chosen a more appropriate word.

Another part that bothered me was (quoting himself), Buddy, let me tell you the people have forgotten about those kids. … You know, most murders and kidnappings are named after the victim. . . . Hell, in this case they can't even remember the victims' names. I run a little private survey all the time just to show people how they've forgotten about what happened. I ask them if they can name the defendant in this case. 'Of course. Gene Leroy Hart,' pops out immediately. . . . And then I ask them to name even one of the three victims. Usually they can't. And then he publishes a book with the subtitle being the name of the defendant, with no mention of the victims' names anywhere on the jacket.

Nonetheless, the case was covered in depth and fully, from what I could tell. A heartbreaking story to read about. How it all must have affected those working the case, for Afterward, over a dozen of them resigned their positions. (3 stars)

154countrylife
Apr 1, 2011, 10:34am Top

OKLAHOMA. Review:

Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie by roxanne Dunbar Ortiz

Really? Did I really just keep on reading this? All the way to the end?

155countrylife
Apr 1, 2011, 10:35am Top

OKLAHOMA. Review:

Celebrating Oklahoma by Mike Klemme

Nicely done coffee table book, featuring the natural beauty, the people, communities, art, architecture, etc, of the state of Oklahoma. Photographs on each spread are accompanied by short blocks of information, which typeface color locates each photo on the accompanying map.

156thornton37814
Apr 1, 2011, 6:05pm Top

I'm really looking forward to reading The Whistling Season this month! Everyone has been raving about it on so many threads!

157nans
Apr 12, 2011, 10:21am Top

Just realized that I have 16 books left to go too! Like your idea of listing them out, so I'll just head over to my thread and see what States I have left...

158countrylife
May 5, 2011, 4:54pm Top

April reads - with a reminder to myself to get the reviews done:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (North Carolina) 3.6 stars
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (Massachusetts) 3.2 stars
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney (Missouri) 3.5 stars (children's book)

And only knocked off one new state!

159countrylife
Oct 13, 2011, 4:00pm Top

May reads:

Home by Marilynne Robinson (Iowa) - 4.5 stars
Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister (Washington) - 5 stars
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott (Massachusetts) - 3.2 stars

June reads:

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Massachusetts) - 3.7 stars
The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez (Nebraska) - 3.5 stars
A Weekend in September by John Edwad Weems (Texas) - 4 stars
The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright (Virginia) - 2.8
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (North Carolina) - 4
Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg (Alabama) - 2.5
Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott (Washington DC) - 4

160countrylife
Oct 13, 2011, 4:05pm Top

July:

Town in a Blueberry Jam by B.B. Haywood (Maine) - 3.5
Down From Cascom Mountain by Ann Joslin Williams (New Hampshire) - 3
American Beauty by Edna Ferber (Connecticut) - 3.2
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (Montana) - 4
Death by Deep Dish Pie by Sharon Short (Ohio) - 3.2
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Mississippi) - 3.8

August:

Great Son by Edna Ferber (Washington) - 2.8
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say (California) - 4.5
Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch (New York) - 3.4
Town in a Lobster Stew by B. B. Haywood (Maine) - 3
Arsenic and Old Paint by Hailey Lind (California) - 3
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (California) - 4.4

161countrylife
Oct 13, 2011, 4:09pm Top

September:

Little Black Dress by Susan McBride (Missouri) - 3.5
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (New York) - 4.4
Lick Creek by Brad Kessler (West Virginia) - 2.5

162countrylife
Oct 13, 2011, 5:07pm Top

So many states repeated. Can't wait to get to the end and start choosing which ones are my favorites for each state.

Still to go:

Colorado
Delaware
Hawaii
Idaho
Michigan
Nevada
New Jersey
New Mexico
Rhode Island
South Dakota
__
10

163thornton37814
Oct 13, 2011, 6:31pm Top

I only have two. I have one of those in the house now. I was planning to read it next month, but I may get to it this one!

164countrylife
Nov 7, 2011, 11:32am Top

Tennessee:



Bloodroot by Amy Greene

===== My Review: =====
All the neighbors thought the world of Grandmaw and her sisters. They was what you call granny women, and the people of Chickweed Holler relied on them for any kind of help you can think of. Each one of them had different gifts. Myrtle was what I've heard called a water witch. She could find a well on anybody's land with her dowsing rod. … Della was the best one at mixing up cures. She could name any root and herb and flower you pointed at. Another thing she was good for was healing animals. . . . Grandmaw had the best gift of all. She claimed she could send her spirit up out of her body. She said, “. . . It don't matter where this old shell is at. My soul will fly off wherever I want it to be.”

Appalachian women, the matriarchs in this generational saga, are painted as people you would like to know. Their poverty does not define them; their life is rich and their landscape richer. Time and progress march on, and a further generation is bound by its poverty of coin and soul, and complicated by trying to hobble the wild. It's odd how the touch moves in a family. You never can tell who'll turn up with it.

The setting here is wonderously written - Bloodroot Mountain with its woods, meadows, streams, and bloodroot flowers. Characters are realistically portrayed, even through the magical realism.

Enjoyed. (3.7 stars)

165countrylife
Nov 7, 2011, 11:33am Top

Massachusetts:



The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

===== My Review: =====
A series of mysterious disasters, scientific in design, are visited upon Boston in 1868. Although the new institute of learning, with its emphasis on technology, is at first suspected of involvement, eventually more level heads prevail and come to realize that some members of the first graduating class from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been working, themselves, to solve the case.

Don't mistake this as a dry read; it is FAR from it! Yes, the title is “The Technologists”, and sections are titled Civil and Topographical Engineering, Practical Chemistry, Geology and Mining, Mechanical Engineering, Experimental Physics, and Building and Architecture. Having met the characters whose friendship is established earlier in the book, their areas of expertise are put to the test within these sections. The story never flags, each disaster appearing and the science behind it being investigated during their spare time. I found the history of the school and its founder fascinating; also the rivalry between MIT and Harvard. Characters were engaging, both the good guys and bad. Nineteenth century Boston was very real within these pages.

Mr. Pearl says, “the disasters that plague Boston in my novel are my creation; however, each one has a basis in real technologies developed at the time (often at MIT)...” His afterword also tells which characters are based on real students, and how their after stories played out.

Story, characters, and setting - I loved everything about this book! 4.2 stars

166countrylife
Nov 7, 2011, 11:35am Top

Virginia:



The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb

===== My Review: =====
Based on a real-life murder and trial, this book's portrayal of the event, setting and characters, took an odd direction, with locals pitted against journalists in their ideas about what really happened. Still, I enjoyed this book of historical fiction for its atmosphere and interesting story. 3 stars.

167countrylife
Nov 7, 2011, 11:43am Top

California:



Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

===== My Review. =====
Lyman Ward, an older man with health problems is working on a book about his grandparents, reaching 100 years back from his wheelchair in 1970s California, to their lives in Idaho, Mexico, and Colorado.

What interests me in all these papers is not Susan Burling Ward the novelist and illustrator, and not Oliver Ward the engineer, and not the West they spent their lives in. What really interests me is how two such unlike particles clung together, and under what strains, rolling downhill into their future until they reached the angle of repose where I knew them. That’s where the interest is. That's where the meaning will be if I find any.

The book is filled with allusions to engineering concepts from his grandfather's world, and literary and cultural references, for that was the world of his grandmother.

Remember the one {reporter} who wanted to know where you learned to handle so casually a technical term like “angle of repose”. I suppose you replied, “By living with an engineer,” but you were too alert to the figurative possibilities of words not to see the phrase as descriptive of human as well as detrital rest. As you said, it was too good for mere dirt; you tried to apply it to your own wandering and uneasy life. ... I wonder if you ever reached it. There was a time up there in Idaho when everything was wrong; your husband's career, your marriage, your sense of yourself, your confidence, all came unglued together. Did you come down out of that into some restful 30 degree angle and live happily ever after? … We shared this house all the years of my childhood, and a good many summers afterward. Was the quiet I always felt in you really repose?

This was not so much a generational saga, as a tale of two sets of characters juxtaposed within the story - the wheelchair-bound older man, constrained to accept help with his daily needs and his book project, and his grandparents in their pioneering lives.

Mr. Stegner says, “My thanks to J.M. and her sister for the loan of their ancestors. Though I have used many details of their lives and characters, I have not hesitated to warp both personalities and events to fictional needs. This is a novel which utilizes selected facts from their real lives. It is in no sense a family history.”

Every location this couple lived in came alive under Mr. Stegner's pen. Their actions, thoughts and feelings revealed in a suspenseful unveiling chapter by chapter. At 569 pages, it was a long book, but a fascinating story, beautifully told. I loved this author's writing.

168thornton37814
Nov 7, 2011, 6:02pm Top

Cindy -
Glad that you liked The Technologists. It was quite good. Did you have any damage from the earthquake? I was in Kansas City for the weekend, and we felt the "big one" all the way up there.

169countrylife
Jan 18, 2012, 9:48am Top

Books with settings in the states during the last few months of reading:

October:
Bloodroot by Amy Greeene (Tennessee) – 3.7
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl (Masssachusetts) – 4.2
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (Massachusetts) – 4.2
The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb (Virginia) – 3.0
Summer by Edith Wharton (Massachusetts) – 4

November:
Sarah's Ground by Ann Rinaldi (Virginia) – 3.5
The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook (New Mexico) – 4
A Light in the Storm by Karen Hesse (Delaware) – 2.5
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger (Minnesota) – 4
Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas (Colorado) – 3.5

December:
Grass Dancer by Susan Power (North Dakota) – 3
The Butterfly's Daughter, Mary Alice Monroe (Wisconsin) – 3.5
Angels at Christmas by Debbie Macomber (Washington) – 2.5
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley (Connecticut) – 3.5
The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (New York) – 2.5
Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain (North Carolina) – 3.5

Again, a lot of repeated states. States still to go:

Hawaii
Idaho
Michigan
Nevada
New Jersey
Rhode Island
South Dakota
__
7

170countrylife
Apr 3, 2012, 9:41am Top

January:
Oblivion's Altar by David Marion Wilkinson, historical fiction (Georgia) - 5 stars
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel, memoir (Indiana) - 3.3
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen, historical fiction (Indiana) - 3.5
Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, memoir (Wyoming) - 3.7
True Believer by Nicholas Sparks, mystery/romance (North Carolina) - 2.8
Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, romance (Virginia) - 2.3

February:
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott, historical fiction (New York) - 4
Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim, historical fiction (Virginia) - 3.7
Searching for David's Heart by Cherie Bennett, fiction (Wisconsin/Florida) - 2.8
Change of Heart by Fran Shaff, historical fiction (Nebraska) - 1
Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas, historical fiction (Iowa) - 3.3
Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan, historical fiction (Massachusetts) - 3.9
The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber, historical fiction (South Dakota) - 3.5
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, fiction (Massachusetts) - 3.2
River of Earth by James Still, fiction (Kentucky) - 3.7

March:
A Gathering of Days by Joan Blos, historical fiction (New Hampshire) - 4.2
Sergeant York and His People by Sam Cowan, nonfiction (Tennessee) - 3.2
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio, mystery (Washington) - 3.5
Olivia's Touch by Peggy Stoks, historical fiction (Colorado) - 2.5
March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac ( Virginia) - 2.8

Yet six states left:
Hawaii
Idaho
Michigan
Nevada
New Jersey
Rhode Island

171countrylife
Edited: Jul 7, 2012, 9:50am Top

April:
Once on This Island by Gloria Whelan, historical fiction (Michigan) - 3.5
On Little Wings by Regina Sirois, contemporary fiction (Nebraska, Maine) - 3.7
When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek, contemporary fiction (Washington) - 3.3
Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson, memoir (Texas & Mongolia) - 3.6

May:
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, nonfiction (Illinois) - 4.2
As We Are Now by May Sarton, fiction (New Hampshire) - 3
Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott (Massachusetts) - 2.8
A Country Year : Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell (Missouri) - 3.5
Cry Dance by Kirk Mitchell (Nevada) - 3.8

June:
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (Hawaii) - 3.9
Fire and Ice by Dana Stabanow (Alaska) - 3.2
Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons (Georgia) - 3.2
Next to Love by Ellen Feldman (Massachusetts) - 4.2
Between Seasons by Aida Brassington (Pennsylvania) - 2
The Branch and the Scaffold by Loren Estleman (Arkansas) - 3.5
Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry (Vermont) - 5
Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer (Massachusetts) - 3.2
The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice (Rhode Island) - 3.7

Yet two states left:
Idaho
New Jersey

172countrylife
Edited: Oct 14, 2012, 10:52am Top

July:
Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall (Florida) 4.1
Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly, Maureen (Wisconsin) 3.2
Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger (Minnesota) 4
Safe Within by Jean Reynolds Page (North Carolina) 3.8
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt (Maine) 3.5
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai (Alabama) 5
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (North Carolina) 3.3
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (Massachusetts) 3.7

August:
Follow the River by James Alexander Thom (Virginia) 4.7
Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck (Indiana) 3.6
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (Alaska) 2.3
kira-kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Georgia) 3.2
Shadows on the Koyukuk by Sidney Huntington (Alaska) 4.8
Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi, Leo (California) 2.2
Goodnight, John-Boy by Earl Hamner (Virginia) 3
The Letter Writer by Ann Rinaldi (Virginia) 3.5
The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin (Indiana) 3
My Antonia by Willa Cather (Nebraska) 5

September:
You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon (Texas) 3.8
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (California) 3.8
The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden (South Carolina | New Jersey) 3.2
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (Massachusetts) 3.8

Yet two states left:
Idaho
New Jersey

173LovingLit
Oct 21, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Hello,
Looks like you are going great guns on your challenge. I have only just joined so am looking for inspiration, as well as seeing if I have read any of the ones you have noted down for a certain state.
So you really only have two more states to "collect". wow, I have quite a few! Good luck.

174countrylife
Dec 3, 2012, 3:37pm Top

October:
A Simple Christmas by Mike Huckabee (Arkansas) 3
Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (New York) 3.1
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman (West Virginia) 3.7
Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Tennessee) 4.1
sing down the moon by Scott O'Dell (New Mexico) 3.3
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (various - using Oklahoma) 4
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Collier (Connecticut) 3.8
The Prophet by Michael Koryta (Ohio) 4.4
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Washington) 3.6
An Unfinished Season by Ward Just (Illinois) 3.7
Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey (Massachusetts) 3.8
Angel Sister bt Ann H. Gabhart (Kentucky) 2.9
Long Road Turning by Irene Bennett Brown (Kansas) 2.8
Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye (Minnesota) 5
A Stitch in Time by Cathy Marie Hake (Oklahoma) 2.5
Andy Catlett : Early Travels by Wendell Berry (Kentucky) 5

November:
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf (Iowa) 3.3
The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond (California) 3
Why Aren't You Sweet Like Me by Carrie Nyman (Missouri) 2.5
Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida (California) 3.5
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt (New Jersey) 4.4
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Idaho) 3.5

175countrylife
Dec 3, 2012, 4:50pm Top

I'm happy to say that in November, I've completed at least one book for every state. Next - to pick which were my favorite representatives for their states.

176Ameise1
Dec 3, 2012, 5:01pm Top

Congratulations! I'll keep watching your thread. It gives me some ideas what I can read.
I wish you happy reading for the next part. :-)

177cbl_tn
Dec 3, 2012, 6:05pm Top

Congratulations on finishing your U.S. tour!

178AHS-Wolfy
Dec 4, 2012, 4:58am Top

Congrats!

179thornton37814
Dec 4, 2012, 9:05am Top

Congratulations on completing your 50 states challenge!

180countrylife
Dec 4, 2012, 10:00am Top

Thanks! And it only took me three years and three months!

Since I enjoyed this challenge so much, I may take it further and read a book in each of the categories represented below, for each state. In that case, I'd need another 14 states for contemporary, 11 for historical, and 29 if I decide to add non-fiction.

For the basic challenge, however, these are my choices for the best blend of enjoyment factor and representation of its state's setting, at least as chosen from among those books read so far. Asterisks mark books which were my only reads for that state; there's at least one that I'd like to give the heave.

Alabama: A Redbird Christmas, Fannie Flagg (contemporary)
Alaska: Shadows on the Koyukuk, Sidney Huntington (non-fiction)
Arizona: These Is My Words, Nancy Turner (historical)
Arkansas: The Branch and the Scaffold, Loren D. Estleman (historical)
California: Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner (historical)
Colorado: Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas (historical)
Connecticut: American Beauty, Edna Ferber (historical)
Delaware: * Light in the Storm, Karen Hesse (historical)
Florida: Blue Asylum, Kathy Hepinstall (historical)
Georgia: Oblivion's Altar, David Marion Wilkinson (historical)
Hawaii: * Moloka'i, Alan Brennert (historical)
Idaho: Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson (historical)
Illinois: Friendship Bread, Darien Gee (contemporary)
Indiana: A Daughter of the Land, Gene Stratton-Porter (historical)
Iowa: Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (contemporary)
Kansas: Unplowed Sky, Jeanne Williams (historical)
Kentucky: Parchment of Leaves, Silas House (historical)
Louisiana: Red River, Lalita Tademy (historical)
Maine: Windswept, Mary Ellen Chase (historical)
Maryland: Chesapeake, James Michener (historical)
Massachusetts: Postmistress, Sarah Blake
Michigan: * Once on This Island, Gloria Whelan (historical)
Minnesota: Safe From the Sea, Peter Geye (contemporary)
Mississippi: * Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin (contemporary)
Missouri: Enemy Women, Paulette Jiles (historical)
Montana: Whistling Season, Ivan Doig (historical)
Nebraska: My Antonia, Willa Cather (historical)
Nevada: * Cry Dance, Kirk Mitchell (contemporary)
New Hampshire: A Gathering of Days, Joan Blos (historical)
New Jersey: * Open and Shut, David Rosenfelt (contemporary)
New Mexico: The Night Journal, Elizabeth Crook (historical)
New York: The Language of Trees, Ilie Ruby (contemporary)
North Carolina: Safe Within, Jean Reynolds Page (contemporary)
North Dakota: Peace Like a River, Leif Enger (contemporary)
Ohio: Death by Deep Dish Pie, Sharon Short (contemporary)
Oklahoma: Tucker Knob Mountain, Jay Boggs (nonfiction)
Oregon: * The Shack, William P. Young (contemporary)
Pennsylvania: The Whiskey Rebels, David Liss (historical)
Rhode Island: * Edge of Winter, Luanne Rice (contemporary)
South Carolina: Sullivan's Island, Dorothy Benton Frank (contemporary)
South Dakota: * The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, Ann Weisgarber (historical)
Tennessee: The Widow of the South, Robert Hicks (historical)
Texas: Color of Lightning, Paulette Jiles (historical)
Utah: * Heartbreaker, Karen Robards (contemporary)
Vermont: In the Fall, Jeffrey Lent (historical)
Virginia: Follow the River, James Alexander Thom (historical)
Washington: Great Son, Edna Ferber (historical)
West Virginia: Midwife of Hope River, Patricia Harman (historical)
Wisconsin: Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwartz (historical)
Wyoming: Letters of a Woman Homesteader, Elinore Pruitt Stewart (non-fiction)
Washington D.C.: An Acquaintance with Darkness, Ann Rinaldi (historical)

181countrylife
Jun 22, 2013, 10:20am Top

December 2012

First Degree, David Rosenfelt (4.2) legal thriller - New Jersey
Frozen, Mary Casanova (3.1) historical fiction - Minnesota
A Cold Day in Paradise, Steve Hamilton (3.8) contemporary fiction - Michigan
The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe (3.7) memoir - New York
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Book Store, Robin Sloan (4.5) contemporary fiction - California
Moon Over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool (3.5) historical fiction - Kansas

January 2013

Castle, J. Robert Lennon (2) psychological fiction - New York
The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, Darien Gee (3.8) contemporary fiction - Illinois
Two Graves, Douglas Preston (3.7) thriller - New York
Bury the Lead, David Rosenfelt (4) legal thriller - New Jersey
The Diary, Eileen Goudge (3.3) historical fiction - Nebraska
From a Distance, Tamara Alexander (3.9) historical fiction - Colorado

February 2013

Deadly Nightshade, Cynthia Riggs (3.5) cozy mystery - Massachusetts
Iron Branch: A Civil War Tale of a Woman In-Between (3.3) historical fiction - Louisiana
Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O'Nan (3.7) contemporary fiction - Connecticut
The Help, Kathryn Stockett (4) historical fiction - Mississippi
Hens and Chickens, Jennifer Wixson (1.8) contemporary fiction - Maine
Black Duck, Janet Taylor Lisle (3) historical fiction - Rhode Island
Honey in the Horn, H.L. Davis (3.9) historical fiction - Oregon

March 2013

Artifacts, Mary Anna Evans (4.1) mystery - Florida
Through Rushing Water, Catherine Richmond (2.5) historical fiction - Nebraska
The Shape of Mercy, Susan Meissner (3) dual timeline/setting, historical Massachusetts, contemporary California
The Old Buzzard Had it Coming, Donis Casey (3.5) historical fiction - Oklahoma

182countrylife
Jun 22, 2013, 10:31am Top

April 2013

Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt (3.5) historical fiction - Illinois
The Book of Old Houses, Sarah Graves (2.5) mystery - Maine
A Death on the Wolf, G. M. Frazier (2.5) historical fiction - Mississippi
The Great Fire, Jim Murphy (3.5) nonfiction - Illinois
The Cranefly Orchid Murders, Cynthia Riggs (3) mystery - Massachusetts
The Merlot Murders, Ellen Crosby (3) mystery - Virginia
Riversong, Tess Hardwick (2) contemporary romance - Oregon
Bandit's Moon, Sid Fleischman (3), historical fiction - California

May 2013

A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly (4) historical fiction - New York
The Vintage Caper, Peter Mayle (3) mystery - California
The Storm in the Barn, Matt Phelan (2.9) historical fiction - Kansas
Holly, Jude Deveraux (1.9) romance - North Carolina
Miss Fuller, April Bernard (2.5) historical fiction - Massachusetts/New York
Murder on the Rocks, Karen MacInerney (3.5) cozy - Maine
Purgatory Ridge, William Kent Krueger (3.5) mystery - Minnesota
Sudden Death, David Rosenfelt (3.5) legal thriller - New Jersey

183thornton37814
Jun 24, 2013, 7:46pm Top

Congrats on completing your challenge.

184countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:44pm Top

I finished the basic Fifty States Fiction Challenge last year, but couldn’t leave well enough alone. I wanted a historical fiction and a contemporary fiction for each state. Having accomplished that, I’m going to call myself officially finished with this challenge.

Below are my results. I’ve listed each book read for the challenge under its category of historical, contemporary fiction or nonfiction, with my favorite book in each category at the top of each list, going down in order to least favorite in each category. My most favorite book for the state is italicized. The book whose setting best embodies its state is boldened.

185countrylife
Edited: Dec 30, 2015, 3:39pm Top

ALABAMA:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg

Contemporary:
A Redbird Christmas, Fannie Flagg
Relics, Mary Anna Evans

ALASKA:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
Tisha, Robert Specht
Call of the Wild, Jack London

Contemporary:
Fire and Ice, Dana Stabenow

Nonfiction:
Shadows on the Koyukuk, Sidney Huntington

186countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:47pm Top

ARIZONA:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
These Is My Words, Nancy Turner
Timeline, Michael Crichton

Contemporary:
The Blessing Way, Tony Hillerman

ARKANSAS:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
The Branch and the Scaffold, Loren D. Estleman

Contemporary:
On Tall Pine Lake, Dorothy Garlock

Nonfiction:
A Simple Christmas, Mike Huckabee

187countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:48pm Top

CALIFORNIA:
Books read for this state: 18

Historical:
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
Portrait in Sepia, Isabel Allende
The Browns at Mt. Hermon, Isabella Alden
The Pearl, John Steinbeck
Journey to Topaz, Yoshiko Uchida
Bandit’s Moon, Sid Fleischman
In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Cat Winters
Song of the Swallows, Leo Politi

Contemporary:
The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Year of Fog, Michelle Richmond
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
Happiness Sold Separately, Lolly Winston
The Salt God’s Daughter, Ilie Ruby
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Solomon’s Oak, Jo-Ann Mapson
Arsenic and Old Paint, Hailey Lind
The Vintage Caper, Peter Mayle
Wild Goose Chase, Terri Thayer

188countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:49pm Top

COLORADO:
Books read for this state: 6

Historical:
Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas
Whiter Than Snow, Sandra Dallas
From a Distance, Tamera Alexander
Olivia’s Touch, Peggy Stokes

Contemporary:
Angel’s Rest, Emily March

Nonfiction:
The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan

CONNECTICUT:
Books read for this state: 5

Historical:
The Judges’ Cave, Margaret Sidney
American Beauty, Edna Ferber
My Brother Sam is Dead, James Lincoln Collier
Parnassas on Wheels, Christopher Morley

Contemporary:
Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O’Nan

189countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:50pm Top

DELAWARE:
Books read for this state: 2

Historical:
Light in the Storm, Karen Hesse

Contemporary:
A Gentleman’s Game, Tom Coyne

FLORIDA:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Blue Asylum, Kathy Hepinstall

Contemporary:
Artifacts, Mary Anna Evans

Nonfiction:
Marley and Me, John Grogan

190countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:53pm Top

GEORGIA:
Books read for this state: 9

Historical:
Oblivion's Altar, David Marion Wilkinson
Savannah, Eugenia Price
Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns
Kira-Kira, Cynthia Kadohata
Home, Toni Morrison

Contemporary:
Lost Lake, Sarah Addison Allen
Burnt Mountain, Anne Rivers Siddons
Tell Me, Lisa Jackson

Nonfiction:
Trail of Tears, John Ehle

HAWAII:
Books read for this state: 2

Historical:
Moloka'i, Alan Brennert

Contemporary:
Maui Widow Waltz, JoAnn Bassett

191countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:54pm Top

IDAHO:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
West to a Land of Plenty, Jim Murphy

Contemporary:
Blue Heaven, C.J. Box

ILLINOIS:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt
An Unfinished Season, Ward Just

Contemporary:
Friendship Bread, Darien Gee
Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, Darien Gee
Home Safe, Elizabeth Berg

Nonfiction:
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
The Great Fire, Jim Murphy

INDIANA:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
A Daughter of the Land, Gene Stratton-Porter
Freckles, Gene Stratton-Porter
The Sisters, Nancy Jensen
Here Lies the Librarian, Richard Peck

Contemporary:
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips, Stephen Baldwin

Nonfiction:
A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel

192countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:55pm Top

IOWA:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
The Quickening, Michelle Hoover
Dear Mrs. Lindbergh, Kathleen Hughes
Alice’s Tulips, Sandra Dallas

Contemporary:
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
Home, Marilynne Robinson
These Things Hidden, Heather Gudenkauf
Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, Robert James Waller

KANSAS:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan
The Unplowed Sky, Jeanne Williams
Long Road Turning, Irene Bennett
Moon Over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool
The Storm in the Barn, Matt Phelan

Contemporary:
The Virgin of Small Plains, Nancy Pickard

Nonfiction:
The Horse and Buggy Doctor, Arthur E. Hertzler

193countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:58pm Top

KENTUCKY:
Books read for this state: 11

Historical:
Parchment of Leaves, Silas House
Heart of the Hills, John Fox
River of Earth, James Still
Andy Catlett : Early Years, Wendell Berry
The Coal Tattoo, Silas House
Shadow of Ashland, Terence M. Green
Angel Sister, Ann H. Gabhart

Contemporary:
Clay’s Quilt, Silas House
Remembering, Wendell Berry
Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards

Nonfiction:
A Little Better Than Plumb, Janice Holt Giles

LOUISIANA:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Red River, Lalita Tademy
Iron Branch, Kelby Ouchley

Contemporary:
Luke’s Passage, Max Davis

194countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 8:59pm Top

MAINE:
Books read for this state: 14

Historical:
Windswept, Mary Ellen Chase
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Gary D. Schmidt
Tales of the Maine Coast, Noah Brooks

Contemporary:
Sweet Salt Air, Barbara Delinsky
The Summer Guest , Justin Cronin
Rules, Cynthia Lord
Town in a Lobster Stew, B.B. Haywood
Town in a Blueberry Jam, B.B. Haywood
Town in a Wild Moose Chase, B.B. Haywood
On Little Wings, Regina Sirois
Murder on the Rocks, Karen MacInerney
Book of Old Houses, Sarah Graves
Slipknot, Linda Greenlaw
Hens and Chickens, Jennifer Wixson

MARYLAND:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
Chesapeake, James Michener

Contemporary:
Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Paterson
Baltimore Blues, Laura Lippman
Sea Swept, Nora Roberts

195countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:01pm Top

MASSACHUSETS:
Books read for this state: 33

Historical:
Caleb’s Crossing, Geraldine Brooks
Little Maid of Concord Town, Margaret Sidney
Technologists, Matthew Pearl
Postmistress, Sarah Blake
Covenant of Grace, Jane Gilmore Rushing
Still Life with Murder, P.B. Ryan
The Last Dickens, Matthew Pearl
From Boston to Boston : a Story of Hannah and Richard Garrett in old England and new England in 1630, Annie Russell Marble
A Break with Charity, Ann Rinaldi
The Shape of Mercy, Susan Meissner
The Heretic’s Daughter, Kathleen Kent
Blackbird House, Alice Hoffman
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
Summer, Edith Wharton
The Eyes of the Amaryllis, Natalie Babbitt
Miss Fuller, April Bernard
Eight Cousins; Or, The Aunt-Hill, Louisa May Alcott
Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
Ahab’s Wife, Sena Jeter Naslund

Contemporary:
Rules for Old Men Waiting, Peter Pouncey
Next to Love, Ellen Feldman
Beautiful Day, Elin Hilderbrand
Doing Harm, Kelly Parsons
Deadly Nightshade, Cynthia Riggs
Cranefly Orchid Murders, Cynthia Riggs
Cemetery Yew, Cynthia Riggs
Beachcombers, Nancy Thayer
The Probable Future, Alice Hoffman
A Wedding in December, Anita Shreve
Enon, Paul Harding
Cider Brook, Carla Neggers
The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry

Nonfiction:
The Perfect Storm : a True Story of Men Against the Sea, Sebastian Junger

196countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:03pm Top

MICHIGAN:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Once on This Island, Gloria Whelan

Contemporary:
A Cold Day in Paradise, Steve Hamilton
Summer People, Aaron Stander

MINNESOTA:
Books read for this state: 9

Historical:
Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger
So Brave, Young and Handsome, Leif Enger
The Lighthouse Road, Peter Geye
Frozen, Mary Casanova

Contemporary:
Safe from the Sea, Peter Geye
Iron Lake, William Kent Krueger
Boundary Waters, William Kent Krueger
Purgatory Ridge, William Kent Krueger
Tying the Knot, Susan May Warren

197countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:04pm Top

MISSISSIPPI:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
The Help, Kathryn Stockett

Contemporary:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin
A Death on the Wolf, G. M. Frazier
The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty

MISSOURI:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
Enemy Women, Paulette Jiles
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs, Betty G. Birney

Contemporary:
The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh
Little Black Dress, Susan McBride

Nonfiction:
A Country Year : Living the Questions, Sue Hubbell
Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me?, Carrie Nyman

198countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:05pm Top

MONTANA:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
Whistling Season, Ivan Doig
Hattie Big Sky, Kirby Larson

Contemporary:
Winter Range, Claire Davis

Nonfiction:
Death in Yellowstone, Lee Whittlesey

NEBRASKA:
Books read for this state: 8

Historical:
My Antonia, Willa Cather
The Diary, Eileen Goudge
Through Rushing Water, Catherine Richmond
One of Ours, Willa Cather
The Swan Gondola, Timothy Schaffert
The Red Umbrella, Christina Gonzalez
Change of Heart, Fran Shaff

Contemporary:
Sing Them Home, Stephanie Kallos

199countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:09pm Top

NEVADA:
Books read for this state: 2

Historical:
The Shopkeeper, James D. Best

Contemporary:
Cry Dance, Kirk Mitchell

NEW HAMPSHIRE:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
A Gathering of Days, Joan Blos

Contemporary:
As We Are Now, May Sarton
Murder is Binding, Lorna Barrett
Down from Cascom Mountain, Ann Joslin Williams

200countrylife
Edited: Dec 30, 2015, 4:23pm Top

NEW JERSEY:
Books read for this state: 11

Historical:
Legend of the Cape May Diamond, Trinka Hakes Noble
Somewhere in Time, Barbara Bretton

Contemporary:
Open and Shut, David Rosenfelt
First Degree, David Rosenfelt
Bury the Lead, David Rosenfelt
Sudden Death, David Rosenfelt
Play Dead, David Rosenfelt
New Tricks, David Rosenfelt
Dog Tags, David Rosenfelt
One Dog Night, David Rosenfelt
Leader of the Pack, David Rosenfelt

NEW MEXICO:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
The Night Journal, Elizabeth Crook
Sing Down the Moon, Scott O’Dell

Contemporary:
The Secret of Everything, Barbara O’Neal

201countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:13pm Top

NEW YORK:
Books read for this state: 27

Historical:
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker
Shadow Patriots, Lucia St. Clair Robson
A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly
Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
Ashes of Roses, Mary Jane Auch
Wide, Wide World, Elisabeth Wetherell
Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick
Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
Look to the Hills, Patricia C. Mckissack
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley

Contemporary:
In the Bleak Midwinter, Julia Spencer-Fleming
All Mortal Flesh, Julia Spencer-Fleming
The Language of Trees, Ilie Ruby
Think of a Number, John Verdon
Cold and Lonely Place, Sara J. Henry
A Happy Marriage, Rafael Yglesias
Two Graves, Douglas Preston
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
Sima’s Undergarments for Women, Ilana Stanger-Ross
Castle, J. Robert Lennon
Exit Ghost, Philip Roth
The Doctor’s Wife, Elizabeth Brundage

Nonfiction:
The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe
Lady Liberty: A Biography, Doreen Rappaport
Century Girl, Lauren Redniss
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin

Best Wrought Setting: Tie

202countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:14pm Top

NORTH CAROLINA:
Books read for this state: 13

Historical:
Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier
The Night Flyers, Elizabeth McDavid Jones

Contemporary:
The Sweet By and By, Todd Johnson
Safe Within, Jean Reynolds Page
Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen
Sugar Queen, Sarah Addison Allen
Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen
Keeper of the Light, Diane Chamberlain
Distance from the Heart of Things, Ashley Warlick
True Believer, Nicholas Sparks
The Best of Me, Nicholas Sparks
Holly, Jude Deveraux

Nonfiction:
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs

NORTH DAKOTA:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Blizzard’s Wake, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Contemporary:
Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
Grass Dancer, Susan Power

203countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:17pm Top

OHIO:
Books read for this state: 6

Historical:
Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Bountiful Creek, Steven B. Weissman

Contemporary:
The Prophet, Michael Koryta
Death by Deep Dish Pie, Sharon Short
The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown
Vengeance Follows, Scott Lax

OKLAHOMA:
Books read for this state: 9

Historical:
The Old Buzzard Had it Coming, Donis Casey
A Stitch in Time, Cathy Marie Hake

Contemporary:
Feels Like Home, Maggie Shayne
Life is Short but Wide, J. California Cooper

Nonfiction:
Tucker Knob Mountain, Jay Boggs
Someone Cry for the Children, Michael Wilkerson
Celebrating Oklahoma, Mike Klemme
Red Dirt : Growing Up Okie, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
Tent Number Eight, Gloyd McCoy

204countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:17pm Top

OREGON:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
Honey in the Horn, H. L. Davis

Contemporary:
Riversong, Tess Hardwick
Matters of Doubt, Warren C. Easley
The Shack, William P. Young

PENNSYLVANIA:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
The Story of Beautiful Girl, Rachel Simon
The Whiskey Rebels, David Liss
Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson
My Heart is on the Ground, Ann Rinaldi
Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos
Thee, Hannah!, Marguerite De Angeli

Contemporary:
Between Seasons, Aida Brassington

205countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:18pm Top

RHODE ISLAND:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Black Duck, Janet Taylor Lisle

Contemporary:
Edge of Winter, Luanne Rice
The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike

SOUTH CAROLINA:
Books read for this state: 5

Historical:
The March, E.L. Doctorow

Contemporary:
The Time Between, Karen White
Sullivan's Island, Dorothy Benton Frank
The Richest Season, Maryann Mcfadden
Full of Grace, Dorothea Benton Frank

206countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:18pm Top

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Books read for this state: 2

Historical:
The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, Ann Weisgarber

Contemporary:
Twisted Tree, Kent Meyers

TENNESSEE:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
The Widow of the South, Robert Hicks
Bloodroot, Amy Greene

Contemporary:
Don’t Ever Get Old, Daniel Friedman
The Sweet By and By, Sara Evans
The Sisters Montclair, Cathy Holton
Bound to You, Vanessa Holland

Nonfiction:
Sergeant York and His People, Sam K. Cowan

207countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:20pm Top

TEXAS:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
The Color of Lightning, Paulette Jiles
True Women, Janice Woods Windle
Stormy Weather, Paulette Jiles
Deep in the Heart of Trouble, Deeanne Gist

Contemporary:
You Know When the Men are Gone, Siobhan Fallon

Nonfiction:
A Weekend in September, John Edward Weems
The Horse Boy, Rupert Isaacson

UTAH:
Books read for this state: 2

Historical:
Riders of the Purple Sage, Zane Grey

Contemporary:
Heartbreaker, Karen Robards
PS: I didn’t like this book, it was just the better of the two.

208countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:21pm Top

VERMONT:
Books read for this state: 4

Historical:
In the Fall, Jeffrey Lent
Justin Morgan had a Horse, Marguerite Henry

Contemporary:
The World Below, Sue Miller

Nonfiction:
The Strength of the Hills, Elswyth Thane

VIRGINIA:
Books read for this state: 12

Historical:
Follow the River, James Alexander Thom
Midwife of the Blue Ridge, Christine Blevins
Sarah’s Ground, Ann Rinaldi
Letter Writer, Ann Rinaldi
March Toward the Thunder, Joseph Bruchac
Yellow Crocus, Laila Ibrahim
The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, Sharyn McCrumb

Contemporary:
Wednesday Letters, Jason F. Wright
Home to Big Stone Gap, Adriana Trigiani
Like Sweet Potato Pie, Jennifer Rogers Spinola
Merlot Murders, Ellen Crosby

Nonfiction:
The Bedford Boys, Alex Kershaw

209countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:22pm Top

WASHINGTON:
Books read for this state: 16

Historical:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford
The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin
North of Beautiful, Justina Chen
Great Son, Edna Ferber
Songs of Willow Frost, Jamie Ford
Our Only May Amelia, Jennifer L. Holm

Contemporary:
School of Essential Ingredients, Erica Bauermeister
The Lost Art of Mixing, Erica Bauermeister
Joy for Beginners, Erica Bauermeister
Violets of March, Sarah Jio
Where’d You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple
Rainshadow Road, Lisa Kleypas
When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man, Nick Dybek
Angels at Christmas, Debbie Macomber
The Highest Tide, Jim Lynch

Nonfiction:
A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg

WEST VIRGINIA:
Books read for this state: 3

Historical:
Midwife of Hope River, Patricia Harman
Lick Creek, Brad Kessler

Contemporary:
Missing May, Cynthia Rylant

210countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:23pm Top

WISCONSIN:
Books read for this state: 7

Historical:
Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwartz
Seventeenth Summer, Maureen Daly

Contemporary:
The Butterfly’s Daughter, Mary Alice Monroe
Dead Center, David Rosenfelt
Dairy Queen, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Searching for David’s Heart, Cherie Bennettt

Nonfiction:
White Coat Wisdom, Stephen J. Busalacchi

WYOMING:
Books read for this state: 5

Historical:
Bendigo Shafter, Louis L'Amour

Contemporary:
Open Season, C.J. Box
The Haymeadow, Gary Paulsen
Dream Country, Luanne Rice

Nonfiction:
Letters of a Woman Homesteader, Elinore Pruitt Stewart

211countrylife
Dec 1, 2014, 9:25pm Top

WASHINGTON, D.C.:
Books read for this state: 5

Historical:
An Acquaintance with Darkness, Ann Rinaldi
Mary, Janis Cooke Newman

Contemporary:
How Lucky You Are, Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Nonfiction:
Hospital Sketches, Louisa May Alcott
Presidential Pets, Niall Kelly

ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
Hunter’s Stew and Hangtown Fry : What Pioneer America Ate and Why, Lila Perl (nonfiction)
The Leisure Seeker, Michael Zadoorian (Route 66)(contemporary)

Regional:
Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest (nonfiction)
Doc, Mary Doria Russell, (American West)(historical)
One Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus (American West)(historical)

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