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January 25, 2023
BOTW: all that glitters from With Strings Attached


In the early 20th century the Franco-American Pelletier family arrived in Colorado to join their father/husband at the Moonstone marble quarry.  Daughter Sylvie tells the story of the terrible conditions for the quarrymens' families -- unheated, unplumbed shacks, far from town.  When she finishes school she gets a job as a reporter for the scrappy labor-friendly local newspaper.  The next summer she is hired as the secretary for the quarry-owner's (third) wife.  Sylvie sees first-hand the profligate luxury of the robber barons and is determined to work for justice for the working class.  Her life is complicated by the ...

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January 17, 2023
BOTW: saints and troublemakers from With Strings Attached

 BOTW = Books of the Week -- what I've been reading lately.

"I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and was a doctor, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green....and I mean to be one, too,"  goes the Sunday school hymn

Daneen Akers tells the stories of 37 of these saints in short biographies. Some are well-known (Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Francis of Assisi, Mr. Rogers). Some are lesser-known (suffragist Alice Paul, preacher Anne Hutchinson, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, poet Mary Oliver). Others were new to ...

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January 10, 2023
BOTW: a five-star recommendation from With Strings Attached

Is January 9 too soon to declare a favorite book of the year? Joanna Quinn's sweeping novel will certainly be high on my list for 2023.

Christabel Seagrave, her stepsister Flossie, and her cousin Digby (who is Flossie's stepbrother) grow up at Chilcombe, their family's crumbling manor in the Dorset countryside. The adults (parents, a stepmother, and an uncle/father/stepfather in one, as well as a couple of permanent houseguests) leave them largely to their own devices though the servants (cook, butler, maid, and governess) look out for them.   

 In 1928 when Christabel is 12 a ...

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January 6, 2023
Overdue, part 2: recent reading from With Strings Attached

 (This is the second catch-up book review post.  Look for BOTW to return later this month.)

A librarian friend In Massachusetts said that her library hosted a program with local author Peter Zheutlin talking about the biography and novel he wrote about his adventurous great-grandaunt.  I checked out both and read the novel first.  

"Spin" works two ways in this true-story novel.  Annie Kapchovsky did indeed take a spin around the world on a bicycle. That was back in 1894 and she did it to earn a $5000 prize. That would be enough to support her family (her Talmud scholar ...

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Overdue! Part 1: Newbery winners from With Strings Attached

 Reading is like breathing:  if I cease to do it then I will no longer be alive.  I assure you that I am very much alive and thus I have indeed been reading.  I just haven't been composing blog posts with book reviews.  I *will* get back on track in 2023.

2022 was the Newbery centennial.  To mark that the ALA Retired Members Round Table book club chose Newbery winners as the prompt for our fifth Sunday Zoom meeting, which was October 31.   I chose The Door in the Wall by Marguerite DeAngeli (1950 winner).

 "Always remember to follow ...

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September 18, 2022
BOTW: two beloved villages from With Strings Attached

A while back I decided it was time to revisit Port William, Kentucky, by reading or rereading the several volumes of Wendell Berry's stories I acquired many years ago.*  It was part of a resolve to read what was already on my shelves rather than adding more.

Almost three years after that grand declaration I've finally finished A Place On Earth, Berry's 1993 revision of the 1967 edition.  

 A Place on Earth is set in the spring of 1945, a pivotal time for the larger world and for the small Kentucky community.  Virgil Feltner is missing in ...

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September 1, 2022
BOTW: catching up on August from With Strings Attached

This Books of the Week post should more appropriately be Books of the Month.  I will get back to more frequent book reviews in September.  

It's been a long time since the last Merry Folger mystery and this new entry in the series is most welcome.   The setting is current: November, 2021, when Nantucket brings back its traditional Winter Stroll to usher in the holidays -- with Covid masks on. Merry, now police chief (after her father) deals with two murders. One is a woman photographer living in a ramshackle cottage owned by her long-ex-husband. The woman recently reconnected with ...

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February 15, 2022
Quick Quilt Retreat from Mama Spark's World

I headed out last Thursday with my SIL, to a quilt retreat in Chesaning, MI.  The retreat was at Creative Passions.  We were in the basement of the big green house.  We love retreating there.  Our friend, Cori was not able to join us this year though and we really missed her!  Mary and I spread out our "stuff" and that was nice too.You can see my set up on the right.  Hers on the left and the

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