Thursday, May 31, 2012

May'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. May's Book of the Month is: 

   The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published as: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel in July 2008
Publisher: The Dial Press

Birth Name: Mary Ann Fiery
Born: 13 December 1934 in Martinsburg, West Virginia
Died: 16 February 2008 in San Anselmo, California

Canonical Name: Mary Ann Shaffer
Pseudonyms: None

Birth Name: Annie Barrows
Born: 1962 in San Diego, California

Canonical Name: Annie Barrows
Pseudonyms: None

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was the thirty-ninth book that I read in 2012. I had had this book on my TBR bookshelf since March 3, 2012 although I didn't actually read it until May of 2012. It took me three days to read this book and I sent it off to another good home on May 29, 2012.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vincent Bugliosi and William Stadiem - Lullaby and Good Night

44. Lullaby and Good Night by Vincent Bugliosi and William Stadiem (1987)
Length: 405 pages
Genre: True Crime
Started: 23 May 2012
Finished: 29 May 2012
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 26 April 2012
Why do I have it? I like true crime and had read Helter Skelter many, many years ago.

Loosely based around the life and times of Vivian Gordon - the convicted prostitute who tried to fight the corruption of Tammany Hall and lost - Lullaby and Good Night introduces us to Emily Stanton - a beautiful 17-year-old chorus girl who meets up-and-coming Tammany businessman, Warren Matthews. Vivacious Emily is ultimately swept off her feet and into marriage to Warren, but the marriage eventually turns sour as Warren forbids Emily's return to the stage. He violently squelches her attempts to disobey and she leaves him. Warren immediately has Emily jailed for prostitution, thus gaining custody of their daughter and grounds for a divorce in one fell swoop.

After serving time, her reputation in ruins, Emily becomes a hostess at a raucous, glittering speakeasy; a high-priced call girl who "dated" many of the men who ran New York. The case which she built against Tammany Hall backfires when Warren is murdered and she is set up to take the fall. In a murder trial that rocks New York, Emily finds a platform to reveal her inside knowledge of corruption.

As I said before, I had read Helter Skelter many, many years ago and disliked it. In my opinion, Helter Skelter was incredibly long and detailed. Because of this, I was slightly wary of reading another Vincent Bugliosi book. I was extremely surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this book. I give this book an A+! I perhaps wouldn't recommend every book by Vincent Bugliosi, however I do recommend Lullaby and Good Night and I have high hopes for another Vincent Bugliosi book which I have on my bookshelf, And the Sea Will Tell.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marie Buchanan - Anima

43. Anima by Marie Buchanan (1972)
Length: 223 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 20 May 2012
Finished: 22 May 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 April 2009
Why do I have it? I like horror and Marie Buchanan is a new author for me.

To all appearances. The Mintons seemed to be an ordinary family living in the English countryside. There was the maiden aunt Olive and her cousins Edward and Megan. Nothing of significance happened to any of them - until the Blanchards moved into Greenshards - the house next door. Greenshards had originally been in Olive's family for years. and now the enigmatic Giles and his strangely lovely wife Fenella lived there.

Perhaps it was the house. Perhaps it was the attraction which Olive felt for Giles Blanchard. Whatever it was, Olive suddenly became aware of a second self; a presence who spoke through her, as her, revealing Olive's deepest desires and most private thoughts to others. This presence was now inhabiting Olive's body, planning horrifying and downright destructive deeds.

I have never read any of Marie Buchanan's books before, but I found this book to be suitably frightening for me to start off with. I give this book an A+! and I'm hoping to read some of Ms. Buchanan's earlier books soon. Unfortunately, my copy of Anima fell apart during my reading of it, so I am not sure whether I'll be ever be able to read it again; maybe in a couple of years or so I will get myself a newer copy and reread it.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Audrey Niffenegger - Her Fearful Symmetry

42. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (2009)
Length: 406 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 16 May 2012
Finished: 20 May 2012
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 29 February 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction with a bit of a supernatural flavor to it and Audrey Niffenegger is a new author for me.

Upon Elspeth Noblin's death from cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her American twin neices, Julia and Valentina. The girls had never actually met their English aunt, only knew of her as their mother's twin sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers - with seemingly little or no interest in going to college, finding jobs, or anything outside of their cozy suburban Chicago home, and with an abnormally intense attachment to each other. The girls move into Elspeth's flat - which borders London's Highgate Cemetery - under the understanding that they must live in the apartment for one year before they can sell it, and their parents cannot enter the apartment.

As the twins embark on this new, adventurous chapter in their lives, they come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Majike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover; a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including - perhaps - their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

I was somewhat undecided about whether or not I wanted to read this book. I generally love horror and books that have a tinge of the supernatural about them; however, I also have discovered this about myself: I just can't concentrate in order to read extremely long books. By this I mean, books of about 400 pages onwards, are somewhat daunting for me to begin. This book was unusual from the beginning: I wouldn't classify it as strictly horror - it's too gentle for that - perhaps Contemporary Paranormal Mystery, if there even is a particular genre called that? :)

I did find that the book was rather lengthy but overall I enjoyed it and give it a strong A! For those of you who've read Ms. Niffenegger's debut novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, and enjoyed that book, you might enjoy this as well as it was her second book written six years later. I started reading Ms. Niffenegger's work with Her Fearful Symmetry and am just curious: should I backtrack and read The Time Traveler's Wife some time? Or am I fine having read this book and enjoying it as I have?

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sally Jessy Raphael and Pam Proctor - Sally: Unconventional Success

41. Sally: Unconventional Success by Sally Jessy Raphael and Pam Proctor (1990)
Length: 237 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started: 15 May 2012
Finished: 16 May 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 April 2009
Why do I have it? I like autobiographies and have always been curious about Sally Jessy Raphael's life

Sally Jessy Raphael has been in show business for over 40 years. In this autobiography, she chronicles her unique rise to fame. With her characteristically quirky sense of humour, she recalls the sometimes crazy, sometimes funny and oftentimes poignant events that have accompanied her on her rocky road to success.

I truly did enjoy this book, however I found that sometimes Ms. Raphael's attempts at humour didn't quite come off - at least for me. It was still a very interesting read and I learned quite a lot about her life that I didn't know before. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

John Christopher - The White Voyage

40. The White Voyage by John Christopher (1960)
Length: 212 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 12 May 2012
Finished: 15 May 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 April 2009
Why do I have it? I was intrigued by the plot and John Christopher is a new author for me.

From the very beginning of their voyage, the portents are ominous when the Kreya sets sail from Dublin to Copenhagan: bad weather, discontent among the crew, suspicion and secrecy amongst the passengers. Then, during an horrific storm, in midst of humongous swells, disaster strikes: a smashed rudder that cannot be repaired, followed by a mutiny.
The passengers and ship's officers who are left, are completely at the mercy of the mighty ocean, drifting helplessly, driven inexorably north by wind and waves towards the most terrible ordeal of all.

I have had this book for about three years, sitting on my shelf; alternately being shifted in and out of my field of vision. I don't know why I just didn't just sit down one day and read it straight out. Maybe it was a sense that I just really wasn't in the mood to read this book at certain times. However, I finally took the plunge and read it. I'm so glad that I did! It was heart-stopping for me in places and I found myself alternately booing and cheering the characters actions. I whole-heartedly give this book an A+! and was saddened to learn that Mr. Youd (John Christopher is just one of his many pseudonyms) passed away recently from cancer. He was probably better well-known for his science fiction, however he did write quite a number of books in a variety of genres.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's my Third Blogiversary!

Thank You Images

Hello everyone! I hope that you are all having a wonderful day for yourselves! :) Yes, today is my Third Blogiversary! Whoo Hoo. Party time! :)

I checked on an anniversary website and found out that the traditional gift to celebrate three years together is to give your partner anything Leather. The more modern gifts to give your partner are Crystal or Glass. The third anniversary gemstone is pearl or jade, the anniversary color is white or jade green and the flower that you usually give your partner on your third anniversary together is Fuchsia which stands for taste.

There are currently almost 110 recognized species of Fuchsia. The vast majority are native to South America, but there are a few species found further north to Central America, Mexico, New Zealand and Tahiti. The first species of Fuchsia was discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 1703 by French Minim monk and botanist Charles Plumier (1646-1704) who named the new genus after the renowned German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566).

I just started reading The White Voyage by John Christopher on 12 May 2012.

Sam Youd (born 16 April 1922) was a British author known professionally as Christopher Samuel Youd, although he is perhaps best known for his science fiction writings under the pseudonym John Christopher. Samuel Youd adopted the name Christopher Samuel Youd for his professional writings, leading to the widespread but mistaken belief that that was his birth name. Throughout his life he was known simply as Sam to his friends and acquaintances.

Serving in World War II in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1941 to 1946, Sam was awarded a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation, which made it possible for him to pursue a writing career, beginning with 1949's The Winter Swan which he wrote under the name Christopher Youd. He wrote science fiction short stories as John Christopher from 1951, finding his first major success as an author with his second novel, The Death of Grass published in 1956. (the book was published the following year in the United States under the title No Blade of Grass.) In 1966, still writing under the name John Christopher, he began writing science fiction for adolescents - writing The Tripods trilogy from 1967-1968, two young adult science fiction novels - The Lotus Caves in 1969 and The Guardians in 1970 - as well as the Sword of the Spirits trilogy, which he wrote from 1971-1972.

All of these young adult books were well received, particularly The Guardians - which won the annual Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1971 - also known as the Guardian Award - conferred by The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom. The German-language translation of The Guardians, won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth Literature Prize) in 1976. Samuel Youd continued to use the pseudonym John Christopher for the majority of his writing, including all of his science fiction work.

He did occasionally write under variations of his own name, as well as under the pseudonyms Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, William Vine, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols, and Anthony Rye. He died in Bath, England, on 3 February 2012 of complications from bladder cancer.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

39. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
Length: 294 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 8 May 2012
Finished: 11 May 2012
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 March 2012
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows are new authors for me.

January 1946: London is slowly emerging from the deep shadows of World War II and writer Juliet Ashton is in search of the subject of her next book. Who could know that she would find it in a letter written to her by a man whom she's never met. This gentleman, a native of the Island of Guernsey, came across her name written inside a book written by Charles Lamb.

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of the man and his friends - all members of a secret society - The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society - formed out of a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island. Each member brings something to this intrepid circle of firm, fast friends that develops. From pig farmers to phrenologists, they are literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books and the impact that the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, Juliet eventually sets sail to see Guernsey for herself. What she discovers there will change her life forever.

I must say that I found this to be a truly captivating book, myself, and was drawn to the characters' plight and heroism. I really couldn't put this book down and found myself hoping against hope that each character would come through their trials and tribulations safe and sound on the other side. This book really highlighted for me how Guernsey and the rest of the Channel Islands survived and, yes, even thrived amidst such terrible deprivatation and hardship. I would give this book an A+! Ms. Shaffer and her niece, Ms. Barrows have created, in my opinion, a truly memorable book.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ruth Rendell - A Sight For Sore Eyes

38. A Sight For Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell (1998)
Length: 327 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 4 May 2012
Finished: 8 May 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 April 2009
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and Ruth Rendell is a new author for me.

Teddy was born into poverty and has risen from those humble beginnings to become an extremely talented craftsman determined to banish ugliness from his life. Harriet is a beautiful, bored trophy wife who employs a series of repairmen and handymen to satisfy her sexual desires. Francine is a college student who witnessed her mother’s murder and now must free herself from the manipulative clutches of her father’s second wife. Connected by strands of pure chance, their lives intersecting in the strangest of ways, these three people will eventually come together at a beautiful, ivy-covered cottage with a least one dead body buried in the basement.

I really do enjoy Ruth Rendell as an author. I don’t actually know how many of her books I’ve read, but I generally enjoy her writing and plot style. I give this book an A+!

A+! -(96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dayna Dunbar - The Saints and Sinners of Okay County: A Novel

37. The Saints and Sinners of Okay County: A Novel by Dayna Dunbar (2003)
The Aletta Honor Series Book 1
Length: 511 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 2 May 2012
Finished: 4 May 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 April 2009
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Dayna Dunbar is a new author for me.

It is the summer of 1976, and it seems that the entire state of Oklahoma is celebrating America's bicentennial. Meanwhile, in the tiny town of Okay, Aletta Honor is just barely struggling to get through each day. She hasn't seen her husband, Jimmy in weeks, she is pregnant with her fourth child and she can just imagine where her hound dog of a husband has parked his red-white-and-blue van - probably in front of the nearest gin mill or outside the home of the closest, warmest, most feminine form he can find who isn't her.

Flat broke and desperate for some cash, Aletta decides to set up a food stand on the front lawn during the Okay Czech Festival. However, when a woman touches her hand in sympathy, Aletta becomes truly unsettled. She never touches anyone outside of her family; if she does, she is overwhelmed by visions of their lives and futures. This "gift" has been part of her life since she was a little girl, and she has always been seriously spooked by it. Aletta sees that the woman will die in a tragic accident and warns her to be careful. When the woman returns the next day to thank Aletta for saving her life, Aletta sees a way out of her current situation.

Throwing caution to the wind, expecting that the townspeople will probably believe her to be crazy, Aletta sets up a sign in the front yard advertizing her psychic gifts. But doing readings for people opens a door that Aletta thought she had locked years ago. As the memories of a terrible event come flooding back, Aletta begins to realize that she must face the demons of her past if she and her children are to have any hope of a prosperous future.

This is the first time that I've actually read this book. Mareena found it for me; stowed away on my bookshelf and almost forgotten. I had bought it from my local library's book sale in 2009 and had for some reason never read it. What a shame for me! I had almost missed reading a sweet little gem of a book that I give an A+! I have set it back on my bookshelf and look forward to reading it again sometime soon.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Barbara Delinsky - Looking For Peyton Place

36. Looking For Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky (2005)
Length: 358 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 27 April 2012
Finished: 2 May 2012
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 26 April 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Barbara Delinsky is a very good author in my opinion.

For Annie Barnes, going back to her hometown of Middle River, New Hampshire, meant facing truths long buried in the past; some of which she had buried herself. But it is a journey that she knows she must make, if she is ever to put to rest, once and for all, her misgivings about her mother's recent death.

To the outsider, Middle River is a picture-perfect New Hampshire town. But not to Annie Barnes. She grew up there and knows all its secrets; as did her idol Grace Metalious - author of the shocking novel Peyton Place, which laid bare a small town's sexual secrets for all to see. Although Grace had actually lived in a nearby town, the residents of Middle River had always believed that she had used them and their little town as the inspiration for her revolutionary novel. Some even insisted that Annie's own grandmother served as the model for Grace's most scandalous character. With those rumors and whispers about Peyton Place haunting her childhood, Annie found herself identifying so closely with Grace that she picked up everything and moved out of Middle River in order to start a whole new life for herself in Washington, D. C.

It's a good life too. Annie Barnes is now a bestselling author, reaching that level on the strength of only three novels. It has given Annie a confidence that she never believed she had growing up in Middle River, New Hampshire. Her attitude has the townspeople on edge when they learn she has come back into town for a rather lengthy visit. Everyone; including Annie's two sisters, believes that she has come back specifically to write about them.

Although she is amused by the discomfort that her return causes the town, Annie has no intention of writing a novel about the town or its people. It is her mother's death - under suspicious circumstances - that has drawn Annie back. Soon her probing investigations begin to make people nervous, and when she discovers evidence of harmful pollutants emanating from the local paper mill - she finds herself at odds with almost all the townspeople. She is amazed at how unfazed they, as well as members of her own family are by the possiblity that toxins are seeping through the town. Because the mill is the town's only employer, they are frightened of what could happen if Annie digs any deeper. That fear ultimately turns ugly. But Annie is on a mission; and with the legacy of Grace Metalious to guide her, she will come face-to-face with the decades of secrets and lies that Middle River hides. Annie will eventually find the strength to help heal the wounded town, as well as her own wounded family.

I did enjoy this book; it was very well-written and quite lyrical in places; however, I thought that it focused a bit too much on Grace Metalious and the writing of Peyton Place, so that it was slightly rushed towards the end. I give this book a B+!

B+! - (89-85%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reading Wrap-up for April 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 April with 632 unread books lying around the house and ended the month with 623 books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from Bookmooch. 

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

- Survivor by Christina Crawford
True Crime by Andrew Klavan
- A Song For the Asking by Steve Gannon

Changes to the TBR pile 

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons
- Common Ground by Helen Stancey
- Dead Run by Erica Spindler
- Endless Night by Agatha Christie
- Only You by Cynthia Victor
- Crooked House by Agatha Christie

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- Emma Hamilton by Norah Lofts
- Redeye by Richard Aellen
- Lullaby and Good Night by Vincent Bugliosi and William Stadiem
- Looking For Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- The Haunting of Sara Lessingham by Margaret James
- Thinner by Stephen King
- Contents Under Pressure by Edna Buchanan
- Common Ground by Helen Stancey
- The Case of Lucy Bending by Lawrence Sanders
- Critical Judgment by Michael Palmer
- Thin Air by Robert B. Parker
- Charmed Life by Bernard Taylor
- Six Great Modern Plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw and Sean O'Casey

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

Books Read: 9
Pages Read: 3,124
Grade Range: A+! to B!

So, there you go! The reading month that was April. 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