Sunday, September 30, 2012

September'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. September's Book of the Month is: 

Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon
Published as: Henry and Clara: A Novel in August 1994
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Birth Name: Thomas Mallon
Born: 2 November 1951 in Glen Cove, New York

Canonical Name: Thomas Mallon
Pseudonyms: None

Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon was the seventy-seventh book that I read in 2012. I had had this book on my TBR bookshelf since October 10, 2007 although I didn't actually read it until September of 2012. It took me three days to read this book and I sent it off to another good home on September 19, 2012.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Banned Books Week - September 30, 2012 to October 6, 2012

Banned Books Week is an annual event that was launched in 1982 celebrating "the freedom to read". Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information, bringing together the entire book community - librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types - in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week marks its 30th anniversary this week, with libraries and bookstores around the nation celebrating "the freedom to read". Banned Books Week will be honored with displays of censored/banned books, read-outs and more, according to the ALA.

Since 1990, the ALA has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges, according to The Charleston Gazette, with the most recently challenged title being Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels written by E. L. James. The 10 most challenged titles of 2011 are:

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r; g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
Reasons for challenge: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
Reasons for challenge: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

3. The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
Reasons for challenge: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

4. My Mom's Having a Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
Reasons for challenge: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons for challenge: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons for challenge: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Reasons for challenge: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

8. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
Reasons for challenge: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons for challenge: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reasons for challenge: offensive language; racism

While I haven't read any of these books, I have read other books that have been censored or banned in other years for certain reasons. Over the following week, I will highlight different posts featuring interesting trivia about Banned Books Week.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Elizabeth Strout - Amy and Isabelle

83. Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout (1998)
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 28 September 2012
Finished: 30 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Elizabeth Strout is a new author for me.

Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, Thomas Robertson. What passes for a while as just a simple high school girl's secret crush, crosses from fantasy into reality when Thomas and Amy begin a secret love affair with each other. When this emotional and physical trespass is discovered, it brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies Isabelle's feelings of shame about her own past.

Mother and daughter - whose relationship was initially extremely close - suffers an almost physical blow, as both Amy and Isabelle retreat into icy silence towards each other. Amid the minor problems faced by many of the citizens in Shirley Falls, Maine, Amy and Isabelle have a more private misery: a seemingly unbridgeable chasm has opened up between them and nothing will ever be the same again.

I thought that this was a wonderful book, a superlative book. The characters were entirely believable and the book was written with incredible feeling and attention to detail. In my opinion, Elizabeth Strout did an excellent job in getting into her characters heads and describing their motivations. I give this book an A+! and have placed two more books by Elizabeth Strout - Abide With Me and Olive Kitteridge on my Wish List.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thomas T. Noguchi, M. D. and Joseph DiMona - Coroner at Large

82. Coroner at Large by Thomas T. Noguchi, M. D. and Joseph DiMona (1985)
The Coroner Series Book 2
Length: 249 pages
Genre: True Crime
Started: 24 September 2012
Finished: 28 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like true crime and have always been curious about the cases mentioned in this book.

In this sequel to Coroner, Thomas T. Noguchi, the former Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner for the County of Los Angeles from 1967 to 1982, delves into some of the history of forensic science as well as a number of the curious or unusual celebrity deaths throughout the years. From the influential Claus von Bulow case to the murder of Dorothy Stratten; from modern-day murder cases to forensic puzzles throughout history, Dr. Noguchi offers his own professional interpretation and expertise in each case.

I have had this book sitting on my downstairs bookshelf for almost five years and have to say that I never even picked it up until Tuesday night. I had brought this book upstairs about a week ago, as I hoped to read it sometime within the next month. I really enjoyed this book and wish I hadn't waited so long to read it. It was really very good and I have put Thomas T. Noguchi's memoir, Coroner, on my Wish List. I give Coroner at Large an A+! and am definitely looking forward to perhaps reading Coroner some time very soon as well.

A+! - (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teresa R. Andrews - Shades of Souls Passed: True Accounts of Ghostly Encounters in Madison County, New York

81. Shades of Souls Passed: True Accounts of Ghostly Encounters in Madison County, New York by Teresa R. Andrews (2010)
Length: 81 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 24 September 2012
Finished: 25 September 2012
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Teresa for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 September 2012
Why do I have it? I like horror and Teresa R. Andrews is a new author for me.

This is a collection of true accounts of ghostly encounters in Madison County, New York. Madison County is located in central New York State - east of Syracuse, north of Binghamton and slightly north of due west from Albany. Whether it is a malevolent poltergeist, a mischievous little girl playing hide and seek, or a gardener simply going about his business, the lost souls that wander through Madison County remain unseen until one day, or night as the case may be, they decide to make themselves known to the living. Whatever the case, you may be sure that when you turn out your light tonight and cuddle into bed, you won't be the only one in your room - even if it looks as if you are alone.

I must say that while I don't consider myself extremely open to the paranormal, I certainly do believe that the paranormal exists. I have even had at least two experiences that I couldn't explain to myself through earthly means. When I was about nine or ten years old, my family and I were living in a town in Manchester known as Pendlebury, about three miles northwest of Salford, England. Pendlebury is perhaps better well-known historically for the Trials of the Pendle Witches - which occurred in 1612, and are among the most famous witch trials in English history.

So, my family and I lived in a centuries-old house that my mother was completely convinced was haunted. I had never really had any paranormal experiences myself in that house until I was ten years old. It was early on a Saturday morning and I was 'sleeping in', but was actually reading in my bed. Everything was quiet in the house and for some reason I looked up at my open bedroom door. A second or so later, a ghostly man just popped his head inside my door! :)

He and I locked surprised glances with each other for about three seconds and then he vanished and I went back to reading my book. He was dressed in 17th-century clothing (although at ten years old, it just registered as old-fashioned clothing to me): wearing a cutaway coat and a monocle, I'm sure that he was fully dressed, however I can't remember what he was wearing in the style of breeches, trousers or whatever it was. I remember my mother constantly questioning me about this apparition when I mentioned that I had seen him sometime later that day.

As I have said already, I don't completely deny the existence of the paranormal and have had one other strange experience that I couldn't explain, happen to me as an adult - the jukebox at my restaurant suddenly turned on by itself. It was closing time and no one else was in the bar area except myself at the time. I have to say that I was totally terrified, and felt that there was a presence there that would harm me if I stayed any longer.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written, and easy reading for me and I must say a big thank you to Teresa for sending me a copy of her book to read. I give this book a big, blazing A+! and would definitely recommend this book to other readers.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stephen King - Full Dark, No Stars

80. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (2010) 
Length: 560 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started: 20 September 2012
Finished: 24 September 2012
Where did it come from? From Price Chopper
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 20 September 2012
Why do I have it? I like short stories and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

'I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger...' so writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up '1922' - the first of five mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. All these stories have the prevailing theme of retribution. For Wilfred James, that stranger is awakened when his wife Arlette proposes selling the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting into motion a gruesome chain of murder and madness.

In 'Big Driver', a cozy mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home from a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge against her attacker so ruthless that it brings her face-to-face with another stranger; the one inside her soul.

'Fair Extension' involves making a deal with the devil. Dave Streeter is dying from cancer when he meets a traveling salesman by the name of George Elvid along a road in Derry, Maine. When George Elvid sells Dave a 'life extension', Dave is 'miraculously' cured from cancer and is provided a rich recompense for a lifetime lived that is full of resentment.

In 'A Good Marriage', while her husband of twenty years is away on one of his many business trips, Darcy Anderson searches for batteries in their garage. Her toe knocks into a box under her husband's worktable, suddenly revealing the horrifying stranger within his soul and utterly shocking Darcy to her core.

In 'Under the Weather', Brad's wife, Ellen isn't feeling too well one morning. So, being the good husband he is, Brad decides to let her sleep while he goes off to work. His only concern is that the people coming to check on the noxious smell that permeates the apartment building where they live will wake up Ellen when she desperately needs her rest.

I caved, I admit it! I was doing so well, reading books that had been on my bookshelf for an incredibly long time - then one trip to my local grocery store causes me to slip off the bookshelf! :) I am so glad I did, though. This book was much longer than the ones that I usually read, but I found it totally engrossing! It reached out and grabbed me from the first sentence, and wouldn't let me go until I turned the last page. I have said before that although I like Stephen King as an author, I am not always entirely sure whether I will enjoy his books all the time. However, this book is definitely a keeper for me and I give it an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sue Miller - The Good Mother

79. The Good Mother by Sue Miller (1986)
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 17 September 2012
Finished: 20 September 2012
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 February 2010
Why do I have it? I like Sue Miller as an author and had read and enjoyed While I Was Gone by the same author.

Recently divorced, Anna Dunlop has two passionate attachments: Molly, her four-year-old daughter, and her lover, Leo, the man who has made her feel beautiful - and sexual - for the first time in a long, long time. Swept away by happiness and passion, Anna feels that she has everything she needs in her life. Almost blind to certain changes around her, Anna will soon find that these shocking changes will threaten her new love, her new "family" and will eventually force her to prove she is a good mother.

I am not entirely sure, but I think that I may have read this book many, many years ago. Some of the scenes in it seemed slightly familiar to me, but I don't think that my having read it before affected my rereading of the book too much - I still couldn't remember the ending of the story! :)  I loved this book and give it top marks, even though I found the sex scenes in the book almost too graphic for me. 

I understand that the book needed to be graphic to make the plot work, however I guess I was just not that used to having such scenes be so descriptive. I found this book to be well written and very engrossing though, and would certainly recommend this book to other readers. I give this book an A+! and look forward to reading more books by Sue Miller in the future.

A+! - (96-100%) 

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, September 17, 2012

Philip Loraine - 13

78. 13 by Philip Loraine (1966)
(Originally Published as: Day of the Arrow) (1964)
Length: 158 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 14 September 2012
Finished: 17 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and Philip Loraine is a new author for me.

James Lindsay has been living in France for five years when his former lover Francoise comes to him for help. Francoise is now married to the wealthy owner of a chateau in the French wine country and is the mother of a young son. Philippe de Faucon, Marquis de Bellac, Francoise's husband, has turned suddenly cold and emotionally distant towards her and Francoise is desperate to find out the reason why Philippe's attitude has changed so drastically.

There are also strange and sinister things happening. It seems that all the male members of the de Faucon family have a centuries-old curse upon their heads. Apparently, all the sons of the lineage have a history of dying young in mysterious and often violent circumstances.

I liked this book; it was pretty good but, again, not my favorite. If I was to be really picky about the book, in my opinion, the story had some slight continuity issues with it and was a little slow going in terms of reading for me. Overall, though, the book was not a bad way to spend three days and I give it an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thomas Mallon - Henry and Clara

77. Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon (1994)
Length: 358 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 10 September 2012
Finished: 13 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Thomas Mallon is a new author for me.

Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris were recently engaged to be married, when they were invited to share the Presidential box with the Lincolns at Ford's Theater on the evening of Good Friday, 1865. Henry Rathbone - the son of the mayor of Albany, Jared L. Rathbone - had joined the Union Army in 1861 and fought in the Civil War, attaining the rank of Major very quickly.

Clara Harris - a wealthy socialite from Albany, New York - was a personal friend of Mary Todd Lincoln and the daughter of Senator Ira Harris of New York. By an unusual familial inter-connection, Clara was actually Henry's stepsister - as her father had married Henry's widowed mother, Pauline.

Henry Rathbone was sitting with Clara, next to the President and Mrs. Lincoln, when John Wilkes Booth entered the box and fatally shot the President. Henry immediately attempted to stop the assassin, but was stabbed in the arm during John Wilkes Booth's escape. Although he eventually recovered from his wound, Henry was mentally never the same.

He and Clara married on July 11, 1867 and had three children together. Their life together started out rather well and when Grover Cleveland became president, Henry was appointed the consul to Germany. His mental state had been precarious ever since he had returned from the Civil War; however, perhaps magnified by being present at the President's assassination, he was prone to fits of profound melancholia, hallucinations and delusions that people were trying to kill him.

Clara was beside herself. As her husband's mental health continued to deteriorate, she attempted to cover for his frequent mental lapses. She totally adored Henry and nourished her dream that with the proper help, he would eventually recover and they could resume their happy lives.

I really did enjoy this book, but I have to say that if I had one problem with the story, it would be that it covered the politics of the times. I found that I couldn't really keep all the characters straight in my mind. I truly felt sorry for Clara, Henry and their children because their lives were so horribly impacted by mental illness. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, September 10, 2012

John Farris - Scare Tactics

76. Scare Tactics by John Farris (1988)
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 6 September 2012
Finished: 10 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like horror and despite having several of his books on my bookshelf, John Farris is a new author for me.

The first short story in this book is called "The Odor of Violets". It is about a struggling author who steals the final manuscript of a best-selling author who has recently died. He publishes the manuscript under his own name, as his 'newest' book and is subsequently haunted by the muse of the author whose work he stole.

The second story, "Horrorshow", is about a small southern town which is being terrorized by a psychotic and sadistic murderer. A psychic is wrongly accused of a teenager's murder and teams up with her ghost to find the real killer and clear his name.

The third story is a novella, originally published in 1964. "The Guardians" is about a governor's son who narrowly escapes death after a series of supposed accidents. The governor's son soon learns that he is the target of his father's many political and personal rivals.

I enjoyed this book, although it was by no means my favorite. I really enjoyed the first two stories, but found that the novella was the weaker story. I found myself compelled to finish the book because I had enjoyed the first two stories and was curious to see how the novella ended. Overall, I give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Donald Delano Wright - To Die is Not Enough: A True Account of Murder and Retribution

75. To Die is Not Enough: A True Account of Murder and Retribution by Donald Delano Wright (1974)
Length: 238 pages
Genre: True Crime
Started: 3 September 2012
Finished: 6 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like true crime and had actually never heard of the Don Anthony White case.

On Christmas Eve, 1959, Don White, a 22-year-old mentally disturbed black man, brutally murdered two people - a white great-grandmother and a black longshoreman. At his trial, his lawyers introduced evidence of an intolerable childhood spent with an unbalanced foster mother and in various institutions, attempting to prove diminished responsibility for his acts. Don White was convicted of one count of First Degree Murder and one count of Second Degree Murder on May 27, 1960, and sentenced to death in Walla Walla Washington. By 1968, his conviction was commuted to life in prison.

Donald Delano Wright first learned of Don White's case as a court reporter for the Seattle Times. Through a series of newspaper articles that eventually resulted in To Die is Not Enough: A True Account of Murder and Retribution, the author became friends with Don White and would visit him consistently in the penitentiary. Donald Delano Wright passed away in November of 2007 at the age of 72.

I enjoyed this book although I thought it was rather dry in parts. It was also very sad and depressing to think about how Don White was so badly mistreated in his childhood. I give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, September 3, 2012

Margaret Trudeau - Beyond Reason

74. Beyond Reason by Margaret Trudeau (1979)
Length: 241 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started: 31 August 2012
Finished: 3 September 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like autobiographies and Margaret Trudeau's life has always interested me.

Margaret Trudeau is not known for living a cautious life. She blazed onto the national stage in 1971 as the ravishing 22-year-old bride of the 51-year-old Canadian Prime Minister. Their unlikely union, which produced three sons, ended in 1977 amid lurid headlines that Pierre Trudeau's erratic wife had gone off to photograph The Rolling Stones. In her 1979 autobiography, she fills in the details of her encounters with The Rolling Stones and other celebrities, her "long tunnel of darkness" experienced during her marriage and her affair with an unnamed man, later identified as senator Edward Kennedy.

I really enjoyed this book; this was the third time that I have read it and I will be keeping it on my bookshelf to read again some time. I give Beyond Reason an A+! and have put Margaret Trudeau's two other books, Consequences and Changing my Mind on my Wish List.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, September 1, 2012

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 665 unread books lying around the house and ended the month with 654 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from friends, Paperback Swap and Bookmooch.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

- Horror House by J. N. Williamson

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
- Unsolved Mysteries...Stranger Than Fiction by Clifford L. Linedecker
- Sea Glass by Anita Shreve  
- The Uncanny by Andrew Klavan
- Dancehall by Bernard F. Conners
- While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
- One Day at a Time by Danielle Steel  
- A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope
- All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
- An American Love Story by Rona Jaffe

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
- The Animal Hour by Andrew Klavan

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan
- The Devil's Hunt by P. C. Doherty
- True Crime by Andrew Klavan
- The Shadow Guest by Hillary Waugh
- Still Waters by Tami Hoag
- Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

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

Books Read: 11
Pages Read: 3,710
Grade Range: A+! to B+!

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