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Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout: A review

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Whenever I see that Elizabeth Strout has a new book out, I jump right on it, because she is one of my favorite writers. Moreover, Lucy Barton is one of my all-time favorite characters. So when I saw that Strout had written a new "Lucy" book, my joy was complete. Lucy by the Sea did not disappoint.  The time frame of this novel encompasses the early part of the Covid pandemic. In the beginning, Lucy is living in New York and like many is pretty much blissfully unaware of what is about to hit. Her ex-husband and current friend, William, is a bit more clued into what's coming. He, after all, has a background in science and he can see trouble is coming. He persuades Lucy to go with him to a small town in Maine where there are few people and where he thinks they may be safe.  Lucy, meantime, is beset not only with her own personal concerns but with those of her two adult daughters as well. During her lockdown with William, she has plenty of time to worry about her daughters a

Poetry Sunday: September Midnight by Sara Teasdale

September seems to have been quite a popular topic for poets through the years. I googled "September poetry" and got a plethora of choices in reply. I decided to feature this one from 1914 by Sara Teasdale mostly because I liked its description of the "passionless chant of insects" that is, indeed, ceaseless and insistent at this time of year. The birds are mostly quiet now, many of them molting, and while they concentrate on growing new feathers, they tend to prefer to be as inconspicuous as possible. But the insects take up the slack and provide their own unique music - the music of late September, by which time we are all a little "tired with summer." September Midnight by Sara Teasdale  Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer, Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing, Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects, Ceaseless, insistent. The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples, The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding

This week in birds - #519

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : At certain times of the year, Common Grackles are prominent in my yard, but just now I seldom see them here. This one is a rarity who appears to be in the middle of his molt. His beak is open in response to the heat which still lingers in the upper 90 degrees Fahrenheit every day. *~*~*~* Pakistan has been suffering from floods that have killed more than 1500 people in that country. A study of the floods has linked them to climate change. *~*~*~* Poor nations are asking the United Nations to consider a global tax to pay for human-caused climate-led loss and damage.  *~*~*~* In this country, California is still suffering a punishing drought and has instituted rules regarding water usage, but it seems that some ranchers are ignoring those rules .  *~*~*~* Smoke from wildfires in the West has the potential to reverse much of the progress that has been made in recent years toward cleaner air. *~*~*~* How many ants would

Hilary Mantel

This morning, I opened the online news sites that I visit every day and learned that Hilary Mantel had died. It came as a shock, as a blow to the heart and to the mind that learned to love her writing, especially her Thomas Cromwell trilogy.  I looked back at my reviews of those books and discovered that I had never posted the review of the first one on the blog, so here it is for those who may be interested: *~*~*~* January 13, 2010 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel  "The fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes: a counter pushed across a table, a pen stroke that alters the force of a phrase, a woman's sigh as she passes and leaves on the air a trail of orange flower or rose water; her hand pulling close the bed curtain, the discreet sigh of flesh against flesh..."    ( Excerpt from "Wolf Hall" describing a meeting between Cromwell and the Fren

Effigies by Mary Anna Evans: A review

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Here's another archaeological mystery from Mary Anna Evans featuring archaeologist Faye Longchamp and her Native American friend and associate Joe Wolf Mantooth. This one takes place in Mississippi in Neshoba County where the great Nanih Waiya mound is located. Choctaw tradition says that this is the mound from which their nation and people sprang.  Faye and her team hope to excavate a nearby mound but the farmer who owns the property refuses to give his permission. Not only does he refuse to allow excavation, but he also takes a bulldozer and attempts to level the mound.  Faye and her associates as well as the local Choctaw people rush to defend the mound and the farmer's neighbors line up with him to press his rights as the property's owner. A standoff ensues and the young sheriff of the county is caught in the middle. Things then take an even more serious - and deadly - turn. That night the farmer is found murdered. His throat had been sliced by a stone blade. Was his at

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves: A review

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A visit with Vera Stanhope is always one of my favorite reading destinations. I actually had this visit almost two weeks ago and forgot to do a review. Let's see if I can remember what happened. On beautiful and windswept Holy Island, five friends have been meeting annually for fifty years to commemorate and celebrate their first meeting as teenagers when they were students at Kimmerston Grammar. They had become a strongly bonded group and those bonds have held for all the years since through triumphs and tragedies. The main tragedy that has forever marked the group was the death of one of their members, Isobel Hall, who, years earlier, had been lost to the rising tide across the causeway leading to the island. The surviving members are Philip Robson, who is a priest; Ken Hampton, an ex-teacher now afflicted with dementia and cared for by his devoted wife, Louise; Annie Laidler who is part owner of an enterprise called Bread and Olives; and Rick Kelsall who is a former celebrity jo

The Lost Gospel by Joe Edd Morris: A review and a special note

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  This book, as you might gather from the title, involves something called the "Q gospel," the original lost sayings of Jesus. It is set in modern-day Israel and in the Israel of the years following Jesus' death. It follows the adventures of archaeologist Christopher Jordan and ancient manuscript expert Kathryn Ferguson as they attempt to transport two recently discovered jars that are believed to contain early Christian documents and get them into the custody of experts who know how to handle them.   The jars had been discovered by an American fundamentalist student who was working on a dig in the area and that student, when we meet them, is acting as a driver for Kathryn and Christopher. The ownership of the jars, if their existence were known, would be in dispute between the Israeli and Palestinian antiquity authorities, one more possible escalation of the ongoing percolating resentment in the region. The student/driver is hardly a dispassionate observer of events; rat