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review 2019-03-03 03:29
The King's Grave -- Buried in history
The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds - Philippa Langley,Michael Jones

Disclosure:  I purchased the Kindle edition of this book at the then-current retail price.  I do not know the authors, nor have I communicated with either of them regarding this book or any other matter.  I am an author of contemporary and historical romance along with various (nefarious) non-fiction.


I was introduced to the mystery of Richard III in the early 1980s, through one of my snail-mail pen-pals Cheryl, who was at that time an active member of the U.S. branch of the Richard III Society.  Though I knew the outlines of the history, I did not know the debate over the last Plantagenet king of England had endured literally for centuries.


My background was superficial, gained through a slim volume that gave brief biographies of all the kings and queens of England and through a skimmed reading of the fourth volume of Thomas B. Costain's history of the Plantagenets. But had you asked me then to tell you all I knew of Richard III, I could only have told you that he was the last Plantagenet, that he died in battle, and his successor Henry Tudor was Henry VIII's father and Elizabeth I's grandfather.


I actually learned more about the mystery of the Princes in the Tower from reading Jan Westcott's The Hepburn, because one of the subplots involved Perkin Warbeck, the imposter who claimed to be the surviving younger son of Edward IV.


Cheryl knew a lot more.  She told me to see if I could find a very rare book by Josephine Tey, titled The Daughter of Time.  Some larger libraries might have it, she suggested, and maybe I could get it on interlibrary loan.


I knew Tey, of course, through Brat Farrar, but I'd never heard of this other book.  As luck -- or fate -- would have it, within days of receiving her letter with that recommendation, I found a paperback copy of Tey's book in a little used bookstore in our little town in Indiana.  I read it immediately, and was just as immediately hooked on the mystery.


I continued to research, to pick up odd little bits here and there.


When word got out in 2010 and 2011 that a serious search for Richard's grave was being undertaken, I began following the news reports.  I was still in occasional contact with Cheryl -- I have since lost touch with her, however -- and she provided me with links to updates through the R3 Society.  And then came the announcement in 2012 confirming the discovery.


I read the news reports and that was enough for the time being.  I'd been warned that Philippa Langley was a bit of a spotlight grabber; her book about the discovery was more about her and less about anything else.  But when a few weeks ago the book showed up on my Amazon "home" page at a reasonable price and at a time when I had a little bit of extra Amazon money, I decided to treat myself.


I've now read it, more or less, and the warnings were justified.


The book covers three main issues: The biography of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester and King of England; Philippa Langley's dream of finding his burial site; and the actual search in the city of Leicester in 2012.


The biography, broken into sections inserted between the various stages of the search, takes up at least 60 percent of the book.  This is great for someone who knows nothing of English history, especially the intricacies of the Wars of the Roses, and the complexities surrounding the legitimacy and/or illegitimacy of various claims to the throne.  But the fact that all of this detailed history broke up the actual search was annoying as hell for someone who actually knew the history.  Even if I didn't know every single detail, I knew enough that I finally ended up skipping the last few sections with a mental, "Yeah, yeah, I know all that, now get back to the digging!"


Langley played up her intuition and the dramatic feeling she had when standing in a certain spot in the car park.  Yes, there was research, and yes, there was scientific evidence, but her emotional reactions seemed overdone.  "Yeah, yeah, you got shivers down your spine, now get back to the digging!"


The digging got short shrift, and that really disappointed me.


Another major disappointment was the actual presentation of the Kindle edition, and I'm not sure whether that's because I was reading on the K4PC app or what.  The maps and diagrams were very small, too small to read easily. 



Many were at 90-degree angles to the page, making them even more difficult to read.  The photos reproduced were nice, but they were way too small and had very little narrative to explain them.



The notes at the end were just a listing of sources, not with any reference to the text.  Maybe most readers don't care, but I did.


I ended up giving it three stars, because the information was good, but it was too little.  If you're really interested, I recommended getting this from the library before you buy.

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text 2019-03-02 23:17
Reading progress update: I've read 70%.
The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds - Philippa Langley,Michael Jones

I already know the history, so I'm skipping that part, and it's the majority of the text.

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text 2019-03-02 21:21
Reading progress update: I've read 35%.
The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III's Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds - Philippa Langley,Michael Jones

I'll let you know when I finish this one.  I'm hooked.

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review 2019-01-31 00:07
The View from Under the Flyover
The View from Flyover Country - Sarah Kendzior

I gave a lot of thought to the rating on this book.  I'm still not happy with three and a half stars, so I may change it.  Or I may not.


Though published in 2016, The View from Flyover Country is a collection of essays written in 2013 and 2014.  There's an update for the original collection at the end, and a 2017 update after that.


I wish the original update had been the introduction to the essays rather than the "Coda."  It would have given them a more contemporary relevance and a coherence with the title.


It's not really the view from flyover country so much as it one individual's take on a variety of national and international crises.  Reading the first few essays, I felt a sense of frustration that Kendzior wasn't either voicing the views of other Midwesterners or explaining them.  Her analyses were good, and the one about unpaid employment hit home personally.


As I wrote at the 82% mark last night, her essay on the Iraq war and the death of truth was very powerful, so powerful that it merited a full book of its own.


The value of the ideas in the essays begged me to put at least four stars on this.  They're well written, certainly, and the ideas need to be given more exposure.


But even in 2016, they were outdated.  I felt the collection was all about the money.  That's not all bad, of course, but it seemed like an easy out, an easy way to make some money off old work.  Had that "Coda" been at the beginning, it would have made a big difference.


Updates on each of the essays would also have made a difference.  If the unpaid employment economy was bad in 2013, what's changed since then?  What other examples could she have come up with?


So I settled on three and a half stars but I'm not happy with it.

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text 2019-01-29 16:57
I AM MORTIFIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Looking-Glass Portrait - Linda Hilton

My ongoing decluttering project -- would you believe I have removed over 16,000 pieces of paper from my house so far, with no end in sight? -- has included some computer file cleaning as well.  I have a horrendous number of duplicates of both text files and photos, from paranoid back-ups as well as revisions of documents where I wanted to keep the originals for whatever reasons. 


Saturday afternoon I decided to tackle some of the text duplicates.  After deleting several dozen back-ups of works in progress, I landed in a folder of revisions and proofreading files.  The first was ominously labeled "AAAA LGP Final to be proofed."  The file's date was 1 December 2016, several months after I had published The Looking-Glass Portrait to Kindle.  A red flag went up.  The fact that the file wasn't in the separate folder for all the LGP versions and cover art and so on was the second warning.


I opened the file and got the third alarm: A note to myself at the beginning of the document ---


"This is the final final final version used for printing the paperbacks. I think it's been proofread but I'm not positive."


The bolded emphasis was included.


I panicked and immediately began reading my own book.  I knew it had been proofed several times.  I knew other readers right here on BL had proofed it and I was pretty sure I had corrected all the errors.  But what if I hadn't????


About 30 pages into the document, I found a typo, and I was certain I had never seen this one before.  What if there were others I had missed?  Was it possible my friends here on BL had missed this one, and had they missed others as well?


I read on and on, fighting against my own familiarity with the book.  I was well past the halfway point before I found the next error.  I didn't remember this one either.  I dutifully marked it on the text and continued, stopping only when it got late and I didn't trust my eyes any more.  Sunday morning I began again, and over the last 150 or so pages I found half a dozen more mistakes. 


None of them rang bells as being the errors I'd corrected prior to publishing, but that was over two years ago.  It was possible I had forgotten.  The only way to check was to go to the existing Kindle file and go through page by page to verify if the errors were still there.


When I had finished the laborious task, I had to face the sad truth: Despite all our combined efforts to make The Looking-Glass Portrait free of typos, we missed --- GASP!!! --- two of them.  Yes, tucked in amongst the ~140,000 words there are still TWO MISTAKES.  All the others, though I had forgotten them since 2016, had in fact been corrected.  But not these two.


One is virtually invisible.  The other is a real word but the wrong word, so it wouldn't have shown up on any spell check.  And it's close enough to the right word that more than likely few readers will notice it anyway; like us, they'll see what's supposed to be there.  At least I hope so.


The problem is that I know it's there.  One real, live error that I missed.  And I'm mortified.



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