Book Review: The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford

The Girl in the GlassThe Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars.

Thank you to Goodreads Firstreads Giveaways! And to Dark Alley/Harper Collins publishers as well as the author Jeffrey Ford for this remarkable book.

Gothic, ghost story, historical fiction. Told in flashbacks that jumped around, but once I got used to the style it made sense (both literally and as a storytelling device).

History – the more things change through the decades, the more they stay the same. Politically timely.

I read this more slowly than I read a lot of books. I enjoyed the story, the world, the language, so much, I didn’t want it to end. I especially didn’t want to leave the historical universe.

Great acknowledgements by the author at the end. Exactly how I like my historical fiction, with references and recommendations for further reading.

Jeffrey Ford is a new favorite author, I will be looking up his previous books and looking forward to future publications.

Read: 5/7-20/2018

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Book Review – The English Agent by Phillip DePoy

The English Agent (Christopher Marlowe Mystery #2)The English Agent by Phillip DePoy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounded up.

#2 in the Christopher Marlowe Mystery series.

From mom.

I would have enjoyed more if I had read the first book in the series prior to this – and if my schedule had allowed more reading in one sitting, instead of the short bursts over a period of 10 days. Starting and stopping, I found it difficult to keep the locations and intrigues straight. Again, if I had read the first book, I believe I would have had a clearer understanding.

The writing is crisp and evocative. The history, research, and plotting, ingenious.

I need to get a copy of the first book in. the series (and the third) and then read all of them in order. It’s definitely worth another look.

Read: 10/4-14/2017

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Book Review – The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

The Professor and the MadmanThe Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5+ stars.

Brilliantly constructed.

Written by a true philologist. I do not think this subject could have, or should have been written by anyone else.

An apt quote from the book: “Few are the books that can offer so much please to look at, to touch, to skim, to read” (p. 89). This is one of those books.

Perhaps one of the reasons I’m such a fan of Victorian writing, “…any grand new dictionary ought to be itself a democratic product, a book that demonstrated the primacy of individual freedoms, of the notion that one could use words freely, as one liked, without any hard and fast rules of lexical conduct.” It continues:
“Any such dictionary certainly should not be an absolutist, autocratic project, such as the French had in mind. The English, who had raised eccentricity and poor organization to a high art, and placed the scatterbrain on a pedestal, loathed such middle European things as rules, conventions, and dictatorships. They abhorred the idea of diktats – about the language, for Heaven’s sake! – emanating from some secretive body of unaccountable immortals.”

The Victorian era is my favorite in all ways. After reading this book I feel more literate and educated.

The reading suggestions at the end are also particularly noteworthy.

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Book Review – The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman

The Ghost OrchidThe Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars, rounded down.

Gothic ghost story with a parallel Victorian era spiritualist and a modern day story that takes place in the same location. Though I found some of the plot lines predictable, it was interesting watching the characters react to the way things would unfold; and not everything was predictable.

On the cover of my edition is a blurb from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that I believe nails it: “Compelling reading, a classic page-turner for anyone who like to be haunted by a good read.”

Read: 12/13-12/14/17

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Book Review – The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

The Shattered Tree (Bess Crawford, #8)The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

4.5 stars.

#8 in the Bess Crawford series.

Thank you very much to the author, HarperCollins Publishers, and Goodreads giveaways for a complimentary copy of this book.

I’ve been looking forward to reading Charles Todd for some time. Historical fiction from the WWI period has become an interest of mine over the last few years.

This book did not disappoint. A great mystery with interesting characters; I felt present both on the front and on leave in Paris. My only regret is that I didn’t start the series at the beginning, something I hope to do in 2018.

Read: 9/28-10/3/17

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I wish I still lived in Boston 

Lit Crawl Boston – Boston Book Festival
I grew up in the Boston suburbs and graduated from Emerson College when it was still in Back Bay. At 22, I left Massachusetts to spread my wings, moving first to Northern Virginia, then exploring the state New Jersey, eventually settling in Monmouth County (exit 117 😉).

Recently, I’ve felt a strong pull to be back in Boston. Several times during my illness (which started in 2009), different scenarios have been posited for moving back to Massachusetts. The bottom line is I haven’t been well enough to move: all of my doctors are here, and I’ve got a great team – that’s a challenge to put together and it wouldn’t be prudent to start over (especially now that I’m making some progress).

Nevertheless, I still feel the pull of the history and opportunities. I dream of going back, not as an invalid, but ready to make a contribution. My job now is to get well so I can make my dreams a reality. 

2nd Annual Lit Crawl!

  Get ready for a night of literary mayhem and merry making. The 2nd Annual Boston Lit Crawl is Thursday, October 26th from 6:30-9:30pm! This evening of fun is free, and it all takes place along Newbury Street and throughout the Literary District.  

 Check out the schedule and sign up for your favorite activities. 

 P.S. Be sure to add Literary Balderdash, a game show presented by GrubStreet and Brookline Booksmith, to your Lit Crawl itinerary!

Floating in My Mother’s Palm ** Book review 

By Ursula Hegi

Five stars, second in the series. The first book, Stones from the River, is more linear in the telling of a German town WW1 & WW2. This one is a generation later, told an essay format, between the chronigal timeline of the daughter of some of the principal characters from the first book, interspersed with slice of life stories about other characters. It is a beautifully designed tapestry. Coming in under 200 pages, I would have enjoyed twice that much. There are two more books in the series, I’m looking forward to them.

For more information about the book or series, please visit:

The Partly Cloudy Patriot ** Book Review

4.5 stars rounded up. it took me three restarts to get into this book, but I finally got it on that third time and it was completely worth coming back to and reading cover to cover. The timing was a perfect fit, I started it July 5th, sixth months into the Tr*mp administration, and barely put it down until completed July 7th. The essays are intelligent and her breadth of knowledge is impressive – though she acknowledged the advent of Google and internet searches, the way she weaves the information together is all her. I love the stream of consciousness, I write in a similar manner, just without all the travel, facts, or famous connections. Given the current political situation in the United States, I find this book very current and almost mandatory reading. The chapters that relate to the Bush Jr./Gore election and aftermath are a striking parallel to the unfortunate situation we’re now in following the Tr*mp/”uppity” Clinton campaigns of 2016. Those of us who thought this could never happen, hadn’t studied or remembered the not so distant past. (“uppity” refers to a passage about Gore, I forgot to mark the page number.) My one complaint, as a daughter of Lexington (class of ’86) and Concord, how, in a book with Patriot in the title, she could not spend more time discussing and/or visiting these locations. There was a passing reference to Lexington and Concord and an unrelated reference to Patriots Day in the West… she completely overlooked the State holiday of Patriots Day in Massachusetts, complete with revolutionary battle reenactments to the Red Sox home game, and Boston marathon. Perhaps she’s covered all this in another book, but with a theme about Patriotism, this seems a significant omission. Overall, it was definitely worth coming back to it!
Check out this book on Goodreads: The Partly Cloudy Patriot

Before America Got Uncle Sam, It Had to Endure Brother Jonathan – Atlas Obscura ** editorial 

I’m something of a history buff, this is exciting new information to me. It does make me wonder if the puritanical philosopher, Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758), was perhaps the initial inspiration?

Brother Jonathan was a rustic New Englander who was depicted at various times on stage as a peddler, a seaman, and a trader, but always as a sly and cunning figure. He began to show up in political cartoons in newspapers and magazines during the early part of the 19th century as new and cheaper printing methods developed. It was at this point that American cartoonists transformed Brother Jonathan from a figure of derision into one of patriotic pride.”

Just a possibility. 

I guess I should mention I’m descended from him, which, since I’m Buddhist (as is my mom), probably has him rolling over in his grave…