Robertson Davies Reading Weekend

“One of the things that puzzles me is that so few people want to look at life as a totality and to recognize that death is no more extraordinary than birth. When they say it’s the end of everything they don’t seem to recognize that we came from somewhere and it would be very, very strange indeed to suppose that we’re not going somewhere.” — from Conversations with Robertson Davies

It’s here! August 28, 1913 was the birth date of Canadian author Robertson Davies, so I’ve designated this weekend to celebrate his many wonderful works.

If you’ve read and posted about any of them, please leave a comment here, or otherwise notify me, and I’ll do a wrap-up on Tuesday. My own post about The Cunning Man will be published on Sunday.

See you in the reading nook!

Enchanted English is launched!

Dear friends of ECBR, as I wrote last week I’m starting a new venture called Enchanted English where I can offer language lessons and literary services.

To drum up some interest from English learners, I wrote a little booklet called HOW TO READ A BOOK and learn English (or any other language). I did some Facebook posting and within 24 hours more than 100 people all over the world were interested — an encouraging start!

If you’d like a copy, click on this link  to sign up for my email list. You’ll get a welcome email with links to PDF, EPUB, and MOBI versions.

You can unsubscribe at any time, but if you stay connected, I’ll be sending out news, updates, special offers, discussion questions, and language tips and resources from time to time.

You might also want to visit the Enchanted English Facebook Page.

I would love some feedback on the book, so please be sure to let me know what you think.

Happy reading!

ECBR: The Next Chapter

We have arrived at the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of  The Emerald City Book Review — which came into the world on January 1, 2014. It seems a good time to take stock, look at how far I’ve come, and think about next steps.

The past six and a half years have been a time of great change and crisis for me, a real process of learning to “read” — in the larger sense of trying to decipher experiences and put them into a meaningful context. I could not imagine having gone through all that without the support of a reading community, a group of people to whom this meaning-making activity matters. And working on this blog, with all the connections I found thereby, provided that for me in abundance.

I have learned so much about myself, about the world, about marvelous books, and about wonderful humans around the globe who are holding their candles in the darkness, expressing their individuality in manifold ways — with joy and frustration and courage and humor and outrage and compassion and grief and love. I am more grateful for this than I can ever say.

There is no way I would want to lose those connections, and so I definitely want to stay a part of this blogging world. But at the moment I’m trying to run two blogs, and it’s too much. So, with the feeling that this particular journey has brought me to its intended destination, I have decided to bring it to a close, and move all my blogging activity over to Entering the Enchanted Castle, as of January 1, 2021.

I will definitely still be doing plenty of “book blog” things, like reviews, discussion posts, projects and challenges, and monthly wrap-ups, because I love them and because I think the bookish community is the best. But I’ll also include some personal posts, share some of my writing, and sometimes talk about some other interests (as I’ve already been doing  on the other blog).

I also plan  to launch a new venture, Enchanted English  — a place where I can offer language lessons and literary services online. I have tons of ideas that I’m working on, and I hope you don’t mind if I share them with you when they are ready.

In the meantime, don’t worry; this blog is not going away any time soon. I’ll still be here as usual till the end of the year. But after that, if you haven’t already, I hope you will follow me at I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Blog break, and Elizabeth Goudge Day

Dearest blog reading friends, as I’ve indicated in a few recent posts life is a bit much for me at the moment. I’m finding it takes way too much energy to even think about writing reviews or other posts, and so I need to take a break until I get my blogging impulse back. I’m not going to make any predictions about how long this will take, but at least a few weeks if not more.

I am all right, but a ton of unfinished emotional business is crashing in and I have to sort it out. I will get it sorted, I’m sure, and will hopefully be back to this beloved hobby at some point, not to mention some semblance of normal life. In the meantime it makes a difference to me to know that you are out there, living your own most valuable lives, and holding in common our love of the word.

Also in the meantime, I’m pleased to say that Elizabeth Goudge Day will be happening again this year on April 24, hosted by Howling Frog Books and Jorie Loves a Story! I think going to pick up Gentian Hill, which has been on my TBR shelf for a while — it sounds like a lovely historical romance, just what I need at the moment. Do check out Jean and Jorie’s blogs for more info.

Until we read again…

Would you like to contribute a post for Witch Week?

Now that I’m back from Switzerland (will post pictures soon), it’s time to think about Witch Week! This is my fourth annual celebration of fantasy books and authors (actual witches need not be involved). According to the book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, this magical week starts on Halloween and runs until Guy Fawkes Day. What better time to look at our favorite magical books?

This year’s theme is Dreams of Arthur, focusing on literature that draws on the Arthurian legend (whether in a fantasy or historical-fiction mode). Guest posts have always been an important part of Witch Week, and this year I thought for a change I’d send out an open call for anyone who might like to contribute. Some of the topics I’ve thought of include:

  • The Leader – Arthur as an archetype of the good leader who brings his people into a brief but brilliant golden age is one reason why this legend has such a powerful hold on our imaginations. How does this image resonate with us today? How does it play out through various retellings?
  • The Wizard – Merlin is a fascinating figure who has been envisioned in many different ways. Was he truly magical, or simply a good manipulator? What was his motivation in bringing Arthur to the throne?
  • The Women – The women of the Arthurian legend represent multiple faces of the feminine. What do they tell us about our own experience and our own power?
  • The Knights – The circle of knights around Arthur also venture down many paths, leading to trials as well as triumphs. What can we learn from these adventures?
  • The Enemy – Mordred, the ill-begotten son who brought down the glory of Camelot, is the inevitable worm in the apple. How does he fill a necessary role? In some re-imaginings, he is made a sympathetic character — does this feel satisfying?

If you are inspired to write about one of these topics, or any variation thereof, please send me a description of your idea (lory at emeraldcitybookreview dot com) by August 15, and I will get back to you with details. More than one proposal per topic may be accepted; the more participants the better, as far as I’m concerned! And if you want to go in a completely different direction, that’s fine too.

I hope I will hear from some new voices by putting out this call, but if nobody comes forward, I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers once more. Looking forward … and I hope you are too.

Reading New England readalong announcement

Reading New England Mayflower

Reading New England

As my year-long Reading New England challenge draws to a close, I’d like to finish with a book we can all read together. After mulling over the many unread books on my list, I decided on Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, a nonfiction account of the first sixty years of the Plymouth colony, which ended with the bloody conflict known as King Philip’s War.

Reading New England Mayflower

I chose this title because I’ve never read Philbrick and wanted to sample some of this acclaimed New England writer’s work, and also because I was interested in learning more about a period of history that has been so endlessly replayed in our national consciousness — in school, it felt like we started history class over every year with the Pilgrims — without being truly understood. I’m particularly hoping that Philbrick will bring some new perspectives to the displacement of Native Americans, which tends to be glossed over in our American celebrations of liberty and thanksgiving. It should form an important complement to some other books I’ve read about the New England roots of slavery.

I’m happy to announce that this readalong will be in conjunction with the Nonfiction Book Club hosted each month by Katie of Doing Dewey. During December, we will be posting discussion questions that can be taken up in the comments or in your own posts.

Our discussion questions will be posted as follows:

Dec 11th – Part I and II Discussion Questions

Dec 22nd – Part III and IV Discussion Questions


Thanks so much to Katie for being willing to co-host with me! If you enjoy the readalong, do visit her blog each month for more wonderful nonfiction reading opportunities. During this month in particular, she’s coordinating Nonfiction November for even more celebration and sharing.

So get your copy ready and join us next month. I’m looking forward to some great discussion.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I’m back! It’s been great to take a couple of weeks off but now I’m happy to return to the blog. Here’s what I’ve been up to…


Just finished:

League of Dragons by Naomi Novik

The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding

Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart


Almost done:

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson



Swim That Rock by John Rocco and Jay Primiano


What’s on your shelf right now? Let me know in the comments, or join the linkup at The Book Date.

Elizabeth Goudge Day is coming!

EGButton2016_edited-1This is just a quick note to remind everyone that in one month, I’m planning to celebrate Elizabeth Goudge’s birthday on April 24. That means that I’ll be reading and posting about one of her books, and I hope that you will consider doing the same.

If you haven’t yet encountered this wonderful author, take a look at previous posts from the blog to see if she might be to your taste. There’s also a book list and links to last year’s Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week here.

Thanks to Hendrickson Publishers, I’ll also be offering a giveaway. The winner gets to pick one of their new Goudge reissues — of which the latest is The White Witch. Details to come!

Will you participate? What are you planning to read? I have The Rosemary Tree, Gentian Hill, and Towers in the Mist on my shelf, but I’m not sure which I’ll pick up yet. If you have a favorite to recommend, please let me know.