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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Book Review – The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk ManThe Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars.

Thank you very much Read it Forward and Crown for an advance readers edition of this book.

The writing is like soft butter. Chapters alternating between past and present are seamless. I couldn’t put it down and read late into the night to finish it.

Brilliant. Ghost story, coming of age, murder mystery, deconstruction of interpersonal relationship (among peers and intergenerational), philosophy…

Book hangover.

I wonder how this would translate onto film?

Read: 12/11/17-12/12/17

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Book review – The Sinner by Tess Gerristen

The Sinner (Rizzoli & Isles, #3)The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars.

#3 in Rizzoli & Isles series.

I first watched the television show and now am reading the books they were (loosely) based on… It’s “alternative reality” Rizzoli & Isles, like a whole season where everyone is just slightly different. Neither is better, just different.

Read: 7/15-7/19/17

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Book Review – Katharine Lee Bates From Sea to Shining Sea by Melinda M. Ponder

Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining SeaKatharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea by Melinda M. Ponder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5+ stars.

It’s taken me a few months to write this review. I need to thank the author and the publisher, Windy City Press, for the complimentary copy and apologize for the delay in writing and posting a review. I’ve had a tremendous book hangover and haven’t been sure I can adequately express how much I loved this book.

This is historical non-fiction written at it’s best and as a bonus for me, about my favorite time periods and about books and authors.

While reading I took some notes, I’ll share them here:
Page 18, Beautifully crafted writing.
Page 24, Densely packed with fascinating facts and information. Not one word out of place.
Page 132, Sweeping history of the times while staying true to the central story of Katharine Lee Bates and her life.
Page 172, In the late 1890’s, Katharine Lee Bates wrote, “America has long realized that she stands pledged … to demonstrate the power of democracy, with its free schools, free ballot, and free religious thought, to elevate mankind.” A 120 years later this sentiment is more important than ever…

Any lover of writing, books, poetry, the history of publishing in America, Victorian era America, western expansion, Civil War reformation, women’s rights, American history, Falmouth and shipping, the founding of Wellesley College and more, will find something in this book.

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