Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, October 8, 2023

The Sunday Salon and... Books That Have Gone to the Birds... or have birds, are about birds, heck if you like birds read this!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the place where Book Bloggers from around the world share their bookish finds with one another in a virtual place called The Sunday Salon. Thank you to Deb at ReaderBuzz for keeping us all together on Sundays and hosting The Sunday Salon now! I also visited with Kim at The Caffeinated Reader, another Sunday gathering place for us bookish people called The Sunday Post and the ladies at Mailbox Monday.

Who knew that such a little blackish bird from 19th century Europe would cause such a stir in the U.S. and be one of the most prolific songbirds of today. I have never considered them songbirds myself. I have always seen large groups of them in various places causing havoc. Most birders I know have always thought of them as pests. They are considered invasive by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They can do a lot of damage to crops, kick birds out of their natural habitats and female Starlings are known to replace their own eggs in other birds nests. BUT, there is another side to these birds. And I've read quite a bit lately to make me take a second look at these fascinating "non-native" birds... 

    Some interesting facts about Starlings...

*All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds set loose
 in New York's Central Park in the early 1890s. The birds were intentionally released by a group who wanted America to have all the birds that Shakespeare ever mentioned.

*Starlings are great vocal mimics: individuals can learn the calls of up to 20 different species. And in the case of Mozart, he found that his Starling actually mimiced one of his movements.

*Starlings turn from spotted and white to glossy and dark each year without shedding their feathers. It's called "wear molt". And actually they're quite beautiful when they molt   and show off their iridescent colors. 

But all of this "research" into Starlings started with a simple book cover... I came across Amanda Linsmeier's book, Starlings, and couldn't take my eyes off it. How gorgeous is that cover?! When I started googling the book, another book popped up. That book was Starling House by Alix E. Harrow. That's a pretty cover, and the book sounded good too. So then I was all in and just googled "Starling" and found Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt, a Naturalist. So, this week's Sunday Salon is all about books with Starlings. Either on the cover or part of the story. And here they are...

 Starlings by Amanda Linsmeier...

 Kit’s dad always said that her grandmother was dead.

 But when Kit’s father dies suddenly, Agatha Starling, his 
 mysterious (and very much alive) mother, invites Kit and her mom   to leave North Dakota and spend the winter holidays at her home.   Agatha lives in a small apartment even though she still owns   massive Starling House, the old family home that’s since been   turned into a museum. When Kit and her mother arrive in   Rosemont, a Stepford-like small town in Wisconsin, for Christmas,   what awaits her isn’t a quaint holiday with her long-lost   grandmother but a horror-filled trip complete with creepy   townsfolk, magical roses, disembodied voices, and even a   mysterious death. When Kit’s mother suddenly disappears under   strange circumstances and her grandmother seems more    preoccupied with an upcoming New Year’s town festival, Kit knows   something is not right. She is forced to rely on herself and her few   new Rosemont friends to figure out what is really going on and what exactly is keeping Rosemont seeming so outwardly perfect. This is an original and fast-paced horror novel with elements of fantasy. While the prose is at times overly embellished and the supporting characters lack significant depth, the deliciously chilling plot advances swiftly toward a conclusion that will leave readers delightfully creeped out and thoroughly content. Main characters are White; Kit is bisexual, and there is some diversity in race and sexual orientation among supporting characters. A foreboding, flower-filled, feminist horror story. 

I absolutely judged this book by its' cover. I think it is gorgeous. Because of that I read more about it and the story seems intriguing to me. I did not expect it to be a horror story either. In my eReader right now! Starlings by Amanda Linsmeier was published this past June 2023 by Delacorte Press.

 Starling House by Alix E. Harrow...
 A grim and gothic tale... about a small town haunted by secrets that   can't stay buried and the sinister house that sits at the crossroads of it   all.

 Eden, Kentucky, is just another dying, bad-luck town, known only for 
 the legend of E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth-century author and i   illustrator who wrote The Underland—and disappeared.

 Before she vanished, Starling House appeared. But everyone agrees 
 that it’s best to let the uncanny house—and its last lonely heir, Arthur   Starling—go to rot. Opal knows better than to mess with haunted 
 houses or brooding men, but an unexpected job offer might be a chance   to get her brother out of Eden. Too quickly, though, Starling House   starts to feel dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

As sinister forces converge on Starling House, Opal and Arthur are going to have to make a dire choice: to dig up the buried secrets of the past and confront their own fears, or let Eden be taken over by literal nightmares.

I really love this cover too. And gothic tales are a old reading favorite. This has gotten a lot of great reviews and Alix E. Harrow is a Hugo award winner. AND, Starling House is actually Reese's Book Club pick for October! I picked up a copy and I'll be reading this soon. Starling House by Alix E. Harrow was just released Oct. 3, 2023 by Tor.


  Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt...

  A bird lover discovers the joys of living with a starling.

 One day, glimpsing a gathering of starlings outside her window,       bird-watcher and naturalist Haupt (The Urban Bestiary:               Encountering the Everyday Wild, 2013, etc.) happened to recall 
 that Mozart kept a pet starling, a choice that seemed to her           extraordinary. Starlings, she reveals, are among the most “reviled”   birds: invasive, aggressive, omnivorous, and destructive. Some call   them “rats with wings” and would happily obliterate the entire s   species. They oust other birds from their nests, voraciously eat food   crops and feed from cattle and swine troughs, and cause $800   million in agricultural damage each year. Orphan starlings are   killed if brought to animal shelters, which is how Haupt happened t   to raise one herself. Weaving together cheerful memoir, natural   history, and biography, the author celebrates her “insatiably social” pet starling, Carmen; investigates Mozart’s experience with his avian “companion, distraction, consolation, and muse”; and offers intriguing details about starling behavior. Mozart discovered his starling in a bird shop in Vienna, when it apparently was able to sing a motif from one of his concertos. Fascinated by this bit of lore, Haupt has discovered that starlings, rare among birds, are able to mimic sounds. Carmen, for example, has a repertoire of 15 phrases, including “Hi, honey,” and “C’mere, honey!” Haupt is completely entranced by her feathered friend, allowing her to fly freely around the house, perch on her shoulder or in her hair, and scamper across her fingers as she writes at the computer, making changes to documents and emails that Haupt thinks is evidence of her intelligence. Of course, the bird poses some problems: she swallows things that could kill her (a rubber band, a garbanzo bean), and she poops constantly, everywhere. Like all birds that fly a lot, starlings need to eliminate waste that can weigh them down. Haupt provides visitors with “poop shirts.”

Linguists, audiologists, ornithologists, music historians, and Mozart’s many biographers contribute to this lively investigation of a small wild bird.

This book really piqued my interest. When it popped up in a search for "Starling", I didn't expect a story-like naturalists book about Mozart, his love of his startling intertwined with a story of Lyanda Lynn Haupt's pet starling. Not to mention some history of the starling thrown in. Who knew having pet starlings were a thing? Who knew about Mozart and his pet starling? I'm hoping that this book is in the same vein as Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, which was about her friendship with an Octopus named Athena. (I loved that book and if you haven't read it you should! It is so fascinating and really made me fall in love with Octopuses (yes, it's octopus-es) Here's a link to my review back in 2016). However the book turns out, I just bought a copy to read. Look for my review sometime in the future. Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt was published by Little, Brown Spark in 2018.

What's Your Favorite Book with a Bird in it?

Weekly Update...

Monday, Oct. 2nd... Mailbox Monday about 3 books great sounding books I received advanced copies of from publishers last week. 

Tuesday, Oct. 3rd... Release Day Review of The Twelve Months of Christmas by Sheila Roberts. A heartfelt and heartwarming story perfect for the Holiday season! 

Wednesday, Oct. 4th... It was Banned Books Week this week! I always read a banned book for Banned Books Week and this year I chose to read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Click the link to check out about Banned Books Week and Nineteen Minutes. 

Friday, Oct. 6th... First Lines Friday was from a book that is a strange combo of Mexican Horror films and Nazi's. 

Saturday, Oct. 7th... I wrap up Banned Books Week with 2 books I found that show the reasons for diversity and the need for all books to be available to all people.

That wrap's it up for this week! Hope you found something interesting here today! And share what interesting books and bookish things you're reading and doing this week!

Happy reading... Suzanne


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I have seventy-four books on my Birds shelf at Goodreads, and almost all of them are either adult nonfiction or picture books. My favorite is There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems, a picture book. My two favorite adult bird books are The Thing with Feathers and What It's Like to Be a Bird. I am pretty sure I'd enjoy Mozart's Starling, so I'm adding that one to my list.

Thanks for sharing starlings with us this week. Great post!

Joy Weese Moll said...

I was into birding enough at one point to know that I was supposed to detest starlings. But, secretly, I always thought that they were pretty birds. It sounds like they make great pets.

Greg said...

That is really interesting to know! I love stuff like that, little historical bits you'd never have imagined! And Starling House does have an awesome cover. An author I've been wanting to try as well. :)

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