Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kathleen Grissom - The Kitchen House: A Novel

24. The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom (2010)
Length: 377 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Started: 6 September 2017
Finished: 14 September 2017
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 June 2015
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Kathleen Grissom is a new author for me.

When a white servant girl violates the rules of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the best and the worst traits of the people she has come to call her family.

In 1791, Lavinia McCarten is almost seven years old when she arrives on the steps of a tabacco plantation in Virginia. Having lost both her parents during the voyage from Ireland, she is subsequently placed with the family of the ship's captain - the Pykes - as an indentured servant. As one of the few white members of the household, Lavinia is raised by Captain Pyke's slaves: Jacob, Mama Mae, Papa George, and the master's illegitimate slave daughter, Belle. Soon, she learns to cook, clean, and serve food with the slaves of the kitchen house; all while being guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In due time, Lavinia is also accepted into the world of the big house, caring for Martha, the master's opium-addicted wife and befriending his impetuous son Marshall - someone who is as dangerous as he is protective. As Lavinia attempts to straddle both worlds of the kitchen and the big house, she begins to realize just how much her skin color will always set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

However, when she is forced to make a choice that she never thought she would have to make; loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. Ultimately, everything that Lavinia holds dear will be threatened. Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Kathleen Grissom's debut novel unfolds into a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deeply buried secrets, and familial bonds.

Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I learned more about slavery than I thought I would. In my opinion, this was a beautifully written but heartbreakingly sad story - poignant and thought-provoking. I would certainly give this book an A+! and will be on the lookout for more from this author in the future.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, September 1, 2017

Reading Wrap-up For August at Moonshine and Rosefire

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Rosefire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog. I originally posted my reviews over at my daughter's blog, Emeraldfire's Bookmark but am now in the process of transferring them all over to my own blog. My daughter makes blogging look like so much fun that I thought that I would try it out for myself! :)

Anyway, I started out August with 1,068 books lying around the house and ended the month with 1,062 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from Bookmooch and Paperback Swap.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

- Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
- All Unquiet Things: A Novel by Anna Jarzab
- Shelter Me: A Novel by Juliette Fay
- Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
- The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- The Affair by C. P. Snow

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- See Jane Die: A Novel by Erica Spindler
- Ascent Into Hell by Andrew M. Greeley

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 6
Pages Read: 2,222
Grade Range: A+! to A!

So, there you go! The reading month that was August. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August's Book of the Month

Hello Everyone! I chose the picture posted above because it reminds me of reading to my daughter Mareena when she was little. Every afternoon until she was about eight or nine years old, we would take one of her books that she wanted to read or that she was reading and we would curl up together on my big bed. 

We would spend an hour or so reading a chapter of her book, and then take a nap together. Her absolutely favorite author at that time was an English author named Enid Blyton. Ahh, nice memories...

My picks for 'Books of the Month' will be decidedly more adult these days, but they will be from almost any genre. August's Book of the Month is: 

Published as: The Girl on the Train in January 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books 

Birth Name: Paula Hawkins
Born: 26 August 1972 in Salisbury, Rhodesia (Harare, Zimbabwe)

Canonical Name: Paula Hawkins
Pseudonyms: Amy Silver

The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins was the twenty-second book that I read in 2017. I have had this book on my TBR shelf since August 24, 2017 and it took me four days to read. This book is a definite keeper for me.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Paula Hawkins - The Girl on the Train: A Novel

22. The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins (2015)
Length: 323 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 26 August 2017
Finished: 30 August 2017
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 August 2017
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and Paula Hawkins is a new author for me.

Rachel Watson follows the same routine every single day without fail. She takes the same commuter train each morning and evening - using the consistency of that routine to numb some of the grief she feels for her recently failed marriage. Each day as she rattles down the tracks to work, she flashes past the cozy stretch of homes in a suburban neighborhood, and stops at the same signal. This routine allows her to slip into a soothing daydream; one that allows her to watch people as they go about their own business during the day.

As she sits in the same seat, gazing out of the window at the landscape before her, what she sees next will ultimately change everything. Rachel enjoys her little episodes of people watching; she actually looks forward to seeing some of the same people every single day. As a matter of fact, each time that she stops at the train signal, Rachel watches the same couple eating breakfast on their deck. Their daily morning routine is one which she truly admires, and she has even begun to feel like she knows them.

Jess and Jason, as she calls them, seem to have an almost picture-perfect life together. Actually, not unlike the life that Rachel herself once had. So the routine continues day after day, until the day that it changes irrevocably. It only takes a minute before the train moves on, but Rachel sees something so shocking that she cannot keep it to herself.

Now that her routine is broken beyond repair, she feels that she must go to the police. But is she as unreliable as they seem to believe? Soon Rachel is deeply entangled; not only in the investigation being conducted by the police but also in the lives of everyone involved. In the long run, has she done more harm than good?

Actually, I absolutely loved this book and am delighted to see that it is this author's debut novel. In my opinion, it was well-written and captured my attention right from the beginning. I must say that I thought that the time sequence was slightly unusual, but I certainly appreciated how the author utilized it. I would give this book an A+! and will definitely be putting Ms. Hawkins' name at the top of my wishlist.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Edwidge Danticat - Brother, I'm Dying

21. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat (2007)
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started: 22 August 2017
Finished: 26 August 2017
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 18 December 2016
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and Edwidge Danticat is a new author for me.

Award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1969. By the age of four, her parents had immigrated to America, leaving Edwidge and her younger brother Andre to be raised by their aunt and uncle. As a result, she quickly came to see them as a second set of parents to both herself and her brother. So, Edwidge stayed in Haiti with her beloved Uncle Joseph and Aunt Denise for the next eight years.

Edwidge was twelve years old when her parents sent for their two children to come join the rest of their family in New York City. Although she was elated to be reunited with her family again, she was also deeply saddened to be leaving Haiti behind. As she slowly began to make a life for herself in a new country, Edwidge struggled to adjust to living so far away from those she loved. Although their hearts and thoughts were never far from those whom they loved, Edwidge and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still living in Haiti as they watched the political situation rapidly deteriorate.

In 2004, tensions reached a boiling point and the Haitian people were swept up in events beyond their control. Life changed drastically for Edwidge as well: on the same sweltering July day that she learned that she was pregnant, she also learned that her father was suffering from end-stage pulmonary fibrosis. As she struggled to process such disparate events - tempering her sense of exhilaration with a certain amount of devastation - Edwidge eventually decided that her family's complex story deserved to be told; as much to commemorate her father's close relationship with his brother, as for the benefit of her relatives still living in Haiti.

I have to say that this is an extraordinary book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and found Ms. Danticat's story to be beautifully written and deeply thought-provoking - filled with a poignancy and bravery that I absolutely admire. I would certainly give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Juliette Fay - Shelter Me: A Novel

20. Shelter Me: A Novel by Juliette Fay (2009)
Length: 432 pages 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 15 August 2017
Finished: 22 August 2017
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 June 2015
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Juliette Fay is a new author for me.

Janie LaMarche has recently lost her husband Rob in a biking accident. In the four months since his death, she has been balanced on the edge of an overwhelmingly emotional crisis - teetering from heartwrenching grief to blazing anger from day to day. However, her mourning is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of a contractor with a building order to add a porch onto her house. Bewildered by his sudden arrival, Janie slowly realizes that the porch was actually meant to be a surprise from her husband - now his final gift to her.

As a reluctant Janie allows the construction to begin, she steadfastly clings to the familiarity of her sorrow - mothering her two small children with a fierce protectiveness, avoiding well-meaning friends and family, and stewing in a rage she can't release. Yet Janie's self-imposed isolation is continuously breached by a motley crew of unlikely interventionists, all determined to break through her steely shell of grief. The cast of loving intermediaries includes: Janie's chatty Aunt Jude, for whom a stiff slug of ipecac solves everything; her over-manicured, tremendously nosy neighbor Shelly, whose home visits are so regular Janie can almost set her watch by them; her muffin-bearing cousin Cormac, who considers baked goods to be downright therapeutic; and even Tug, the contractor with a private grief all his own.

So, as the porch begins to take shape, Janie discovers that the unknown terrain of the future is better charted a day at a time. And that any potential potholes she may encounter along the way are best navigated with the help of others - even those who she never expected to call on, much less learn to love.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Everything about it resonated with me: the story was well-written, the characters were entirely believable, and the plot was very well-developed. I'm going to be putting this author's name right at the top of my wishlist and would certainly give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, August 14, 2017

Anna Jarzab - All Unquiet Things: A Novel

19. All Unquiet Things: A Novel by Anna Jarzab (2010)
Length: 341 pages 
Genre: Contemporary Mystery 
Started: 10 August 2017
Finished: 14 August 2017
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 June 2015
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and Anna Jarzab is a new author for me.

Carly was a sweet girl with a wonderful personality. She was pretty and popular; vivacious and funny. She was as smart as a whip and knew everything about the privileged student body of the Brighton Day School. As much as he still loves her, it's disturbing for Neily to see how much his girlfriend has changed: she has begun running with a much faster crowd, and become extremely self-destructive.

When she suddenly dumps him for a notorious bad boy, Neily is devastated. Bewildered and angered by Carly's strange behavior, he steadfastly doesn't answer the phone whenever she calls. However, what initially seems like a typical teenage reaction to a difficult breakup, becomes tinged with sadness and regret after Carly is murdered. Neily is ultimately wracked with grief and guilt for his own stubbornness.

If he had answered the call she had made before she died, he may have been able to help her. Now, he can't get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind. Desperately hoping to assuage some of the guilt he feels about her death, Neily reluctantly teams up with Carly's cousin Audrey to find her killer. After all, it is the last thing they can do to honor her memory.

Audrey is dealing with her own regrets over her cousin's death. She was the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton's fast crowd in the first place, and she will have to live with the consequences of that decision on her conscience for the rest of her life. Because Audrey is convinced of two things about Carly's death: someone at Brighton is obviously a murderer, and the police have put the wrong person in jail. So, she turns to Neily for help in finding Carly's killer.

As Neily and Audrey begin to investigate their shared history with Carly, her dealings with Brighton's seedier elements come to light. For the amateur sleuths, these are shocking revelations that lead them to wonder if Carly actually knew something that could have gotten her killed. However, figuring out how Carly and her killer fit together into the twisted drama of Brighton's secretive world will force the reluctant allies to face some harsh truths about themselves and the girl they couldn't save.

To be perfectly honest, I found some of the pettiness between the characters to be slightly annoying. Having said that, I still enjoyed reading the book. I would give this book a definite A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight