Monday, September 30, 2013

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: 

 Whispers by Belva Plain
Published as: Whispers in April 1993
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Birth Name: Belva Offenberg
Born: 9 October 1915 in New York City, New York
Died: 12 October 2010 in Short Hills, New Jersey

Canonical Name: Belva Plain
Pseudonyms: None

Whispers by Belva Plain was the ninety-first book that I read in 2013. I have had this book on my TBR shelf since August 28, 2010 and this third reading took me three days to finish. Definitely a keeper for me!

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Heather Gudenkauf - The Weight of Silence: A Novel

92. The Weight of Silence: A Novel by Heather Gudenkauf (2009)
Length: 373 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 26 September 2013
Finished: 28 September 2013
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 20 July 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Heather Gudenkauf is a new author for me.

It happens quietly one August morning. As the sun rises, and dawn's shimmering light inundates the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to every parent's worst nightmare: their little girls have gone missing during the night. 

Calli Clark is a sweet, gentle dreamer of seven who suffers from selective mutism - a condition brought on by a tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has ultimately cost her more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is also seven years old; Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his daughter, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he never even knew existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied together by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets. 

I found that this book was beautifully written, and the plot was convoluted enough to keep me intrigued throughout the story. I give this book an A+! and will certainly be keeping my eyes open for Heather Gudenkauf's next two books: These Things Hidden and One Breath Away. This was such a wonderful debut, that I'm immediately putting both books on my Wish List.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Belva Plain - Whispers

Re-read. Whispers by Belva Plain (1993)
Length: 475 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Originally Read: 1 September 2010
Re-read Finished: 25 September 2013
Where did it come from? Originally from Bookmooch. It was put on my shelf as a book by one of my favorite authors.

I think that I've read this book perhaps three times, so far. The first time was from August 28th, to September 1st, 2010. The second time was from November 8th, to November 16th, 2011. My third reading of this book was from September 22nd, to September 25th, 2013. This book is definitely a keeper for me!

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nancy Thayer - Summer Breeze: A Novel

90. Summer Breeze: A Novel by Nancy Thayer (2012)
Length: 303 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 19 September 2013
Finished: 21 September 2013
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 June 2013
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

In Summer Breeze: A Novel, Nancy Thayer tells the wonderfully moving story of three women who forge a unique bond of lasting friendship during one sun-drenched summer on New England's Dragonfly Lake. Morgan O'Keefe feels trapped in a gilded cage. True, the thirty-year-old mother had agreed to put her science career on hold in order to raise her young son while her husband pursued his high-powered job. But although Morgan loves many things about staying home with her child, she misses the thrill of working with her colleagues in the lab. She's restless and in dire need of a change. 

Fed up with New York City's hectic pace, Natalie Reynolds takes her aunt's offer to move to the Berkshires and house-sit her fabulous lakeside house for a year. Passionate about applying brush to canvas, Natalie is poised to become the artist that she has always longed to be. But life on Dragonfly Lake is never without surprises, and for a novice swimmer like Natalie, the most welcome surprise of all proves to be the arms of a handsome neighbor pulling her up from the water for a gulp of air. 

When her mother breaks her leg, Bella Barnaby quits her job in Austin and returns home to help out with her large, boisterous family. Among her new duties: manning the counter of the family business, Barnaby's Barn, an outdated shop sorely in need of a makeover. While attractive architect Aaron has designs on her, Bella harbors long held secret dreams of her own. 

Summer on Dragonfly Lake is a season ripe for romance, temptation, and self-discovery as the lives of these three women unexpectedly intertwine. Summer Breeze: A Novel illustrates how the best of friends can offer comfort, infuriate, or even - sometimes - open one's eyes to the astonishing possibilities of life lived in a different way.

I absolutely loved this book. I became completely immersed in the story, and it only took me two days to finish reading it. I definitely give this book an A+! 

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dan Wakefield - Returning: A Spiritual Journey

89. Returning: A Spiritual Journey by Dan Wakefield (1988)
Length: 250 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started: 13 September 2013
Finished: 18 September 2013
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 November 2001
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and Dan Wakefield is a new author for me.

Dan Wakefield was a successful writer of novels, non-fiction, and screenplays when he awoke to a private life that was disintegrating around him due to alcohol, depression, and isolation. On a balmy spring morning in Hollywood, a month or so before his forty-eighth birthday, Dan Wakefield woke up literally screaming. His private life had been crumbling for years and alcohol barely numbed the pain.

Those horrifying morning screams drove him back to Boston, his former home, where he changed his entire life. He stopped drinking, started exercising, and discovered, much to his surprise, the power of Christianity. Dan had become an atheist while in college, and did not return to church until 1980 - when he initially heard a Christmas Eve sermon that seemed directed especially at him.

This book is about Dan Wakefield's return to his past life: his boyhood in Indiana, his student years at Columbia University being taught by Mark Van Doren, his bitter disappointment with Freudian psychoanalysis, his sexuality, and his writing career. It is also the story of a spiritual pilgrimage, a courageous and comforting return to faith.

Getting into the flow of the story was slow going for me at first; there were a couple of places during my reading where I thought that the pace was slower than I would have liked, but that could have just been my own experience while reading this book.  Overall, I actually enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I give this book a B+! 

B+! - (89-85%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brooke Leimas - The Summer Visitors

88. The Summer Visitors by Brooke Leimas (1980)
Length: 187 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 11 September 2013
Finished: 13 September 2013
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 15 July 2013
Why do I have it? I like horror and have read and enjoyed The Eighth Day by the same author in the past.

Christian and Leila Chantillie - they had apparently been best friends of her husband Anton's for quite some time before Elizabeth knew him - so when she first learns that the glamorous couple is coming to visit them on Fire Island, New York, Elizabeth Copeland is both slightly surprised, and a little wary about their imminent visit. The Chantillies were coming all the way from France and hadn't seen Anton in four years. Incredibly good-looking, fabulously wealthy, ultra chic, and irresistibly charming to everyone - yet Elizabeth still can't completely dispel her nagging doubts about meeting the Chantilles for the very first time. 

To see them was to be utterly dazzled. To know them was to be infinitely privileged. To be seduced by them was to be damned forever...For their dazzling, seductive beauty concealed such hideous secrets and dark desires, that no one was safe. Least of all, Elizabeth Copeland.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The plot was intriguing, and the horror built in such a way that I was certainly interested to know how the story would end. For me, the story was just the slightest bit anticlimactic, although I would still give this book a definite A!

A! - (90-95%)   
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Introducing Bound by Blood and Brimstone by D. L. Dunaway!

 Meet D. L. Dunaway

D. L. Dunaway is a native of eastern Kentucky and is a single working mom with a Master’s degree in Middle School Counseling from Morehead State University. While working with middle school kids, she fell in love with troubled youth and now works for a local community action agency. Her family is her greatest blessing, her daughter is the love of her life, but writing is her passion.

Connect and Socialize with D. L.!

Bound by Blood and Brimstone by D. L. Dunaway (2013)
Length: 358 pages

Purchase your copy from Amazon!

Bound by Blood and Brimstone Blurb:

Coming of age is never easy, but for Ember Mae Roberts and her twin sister, Lorrie Beth, it may boil down to a matter of life or death. Growing up in the mountains of West Virginia in the 1950's presents unique challenges for any child, but for talented young Ember Mae, it means bearing the burdens of an adult, as she quickly learns her expected role is that of her sister's keeper.

When a schoolyard bully sets his brutal sights on a fragile Lorrie Beth, Ember Mae jumps to her defense. Terror abounds at every turn as the tormenting escalates. What begins as a normal rite of passage for children since the beginning of time ends in a final tragic confrontation that leaves Lorrie Beth shattered. Both sisters make a pact to keep a deadly secret in order to heal, but Lorrie Beth has always been weak. Ember Mae fears she’ll crack under the strain and bring their world crashing down around them. What Ember Mae doesn't realize is that she and Lorrie Beth aren't the only ones keeping a secret. There are other secrets waiting to spill out, secrets so vile that when the full force of their evil is unleashed, it’s anybody’s guess who will survive.

Bound by Blood and Brimstone Excerpt:


I keep thinking if I can make it through one more night, I’ll be okay. If it’s true that going too long without sleep can kill a person, I’d best not be making any plans for my golden years. The hardest part is the roar in my head. Sometimes it even blots out the light, so I have the sense of a night train thundering off its track into a gaping abyss. 

If I get caught with this stash of speed I snuck out of the nurses’ station, I’ll be in a world of trouble, but I’ll risk it to stay awake. It’s the dreams I have to keep at bay. Anything has to be better than the dreams. 

Sharon, my counselor, says I’m going to have to confront them sooner or later if I expect to heal. How convenient it must be to have the distance to say that. She hasn’t heard those pitiful cries or seen the splattered wall. She hasn’t been swallowed up in that whirling vortex of black and red heat or awakened in a clammy sweat, her breath hitching in and out of her lungs in ragged tatters. Maybe if she had, she wouldn’t be so quick with her crappy advice to “face your past.”

Just one of my dreams might make Miss Sharon sing a different tune, but I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Sometimes I like to imagine Reese enduring my dreams, unceasingly, until time’s end. Even such a hell as that couldn’t be called “justice” in his case. Perhaps nothing could.

The dreams and the memories are my existence now, and they haunt me with the tenacity of ghosts tethered to this world, seeking to tie up loose ends before moving on. I’m the only one left who can tell our story and, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I have the need to do that. Maybe, for Lorrie Beth’s sake, the tale has to be told.

I wish I could tell it to Momma, hold both sides of her face between my hands and scream out all the hurt, force her to hear me. I doubt she would listen, even then. I’m certain Daddy would listen, looking me squarely in the eye, holding my hands, stroking the backs of them with his rough thumbs.

It’s funny, in a way, how Daddy would be the only person who’d truly listen, since he’s the one person on the planet who’d least deserve to know this evil. When push comes to shove, I suppose the truth has to be told for me. Maybe then the dreams will let up, and I can decide if enough shards of my life remain to piece Ember Mae Roberts back together. If not, the dark knowledge I hold inside could kill me.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Anita Shreve - Rescue: A Novel

87. Rescue: A Novel by Anita Shreve (2010)
Length: 305 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 7 September 2013
Finished: 10 September 2013
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 22 August 2013
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Peter Webster is a rookie paramedic when he pulls a young woman out of a totaled car - a wreck that should have killed her. It's Peter's first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma - streetwise and tough talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely.

Sheila haunts his thoughts, and despite his misgivings Peter is soon embroiled in an intense love affair - and in Sheila's troubled world. He and Sheila are married and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast.

But can you ever truly save another person? Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. Rowan has been veering dangerously off track, and for the first time in their quiet, orderly life together Peter fears for his daughter's future. His work shows him daily how dangerous the world is; how wrong everything can go within the space of a single second.

All the love a father can give a daughter is suddenly not enough. So, Peter seeks out the only person who may be able to help Rowan, although Sheila's return is sure to unleash all the questions he has been carefully keeping at bay. Questions such as: Why did a mother leave her family? What tore a young family apart? Is there worse damage ahead? How did the marriage of two people so deeply in love unravel? Yes, Sheila's sudden return certainly may be a godsend - or it may be exactly the wrong moment for a lifetime of questions, anger and longing to surface anew.

I'll say it again: I love Anita Shreve as an author! Despite this book being incredibly sad; I thoroughly enjoyed it. I give Rescue: A Novel an A+! - which, as I translated to Mareena, can also be marked as an A+++! This book is a definite keeper for me. 

A+! - (96-100%) 

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Brian Moore - The Doctor's Wife

86. The Doctor's Wife by Brian Moore (1976)
Length: 236 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 4 September 2013
Finished: 7 September 2013
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 5 November 2000
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Brian Moore is a new author for me.

Sheila Redden is a quiet, middle-aged doctor's wife. She is also on her way from war-torn Belfast to the south of France where her husband Kevin will join her in a few days, so that they can relive their honeymoon of fifteen years ago together. But Sheila had not reckoned on meeting Tom Lowry and finding her life totally transformed.

Ten years her junior, Tom Lowry is an American initially introduced to Sheila by an acquaintance of hers. What follows for both Sheila and Tom, is a brief but incredibly passionate affair that leaves Sheila completely devastated - never expecting that the love that she feels for Tom could become so strong in such a short period of time.

I have to say that I wasn't expecting The Doctor's Wife by Brian Moore to be as good as it turned out to be. Not that I was expecting the book to be awful or anything - I actually learned later that it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1976. However, since this was the first book by Brian Moore that I've ever read, I'll admit that my expectations about The Doctor's Wife started off slightly lower than they would have been had this been the second or third book by Brian Moore that I'd read.

Anyway, I certainly give The Doctor's Wife by Brian Moore an A+! This book was hidden away on my downstairs bookshelf for some time, until I discovered it while moving some books upstairs to look through them. I almost wish that I had read this book several years before now - oh well, better late than never, I suppose. :)

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Marcia Willett - The Way we Were: A Novel

85. The Way we Were: A Novel by Marcia Willett (2008)
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 1 September 2013
Finished: 4 September 2013
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 22 August 2013
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Marcia Willett is a new author for me.

It was during a snowstorm in February, 1976 when Tegan - known as Tiggy to her friends - arrived at the remote house on Bodmin Moor. She had lost her partner in a tragic accident and was now alone - and pregnant. Julia, her dearest friend, welcomed her into her warm and chaotic family, and Tiggy slowly started to live again. She awaited the birth of her child, temporarily secure in the supportive love which surrounded her. 

But Tiggy's happiness was destined to be short-lived. Now, nearly thirty years later, when her son is about to become a father himself, the next generation discovers that there are secrets from the past that must be uncovered... 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the characters; the story itself, and the setting as well. I give this book an A! 

A! - (90-95%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Judy Merrill Larsen - All the Numbers: A Novel

84. All the Numbers: A Novel by Judy Merrill Larsen (2006)
Length: 269 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 31 August 2013
Finished: 1 September 2013
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 22 August 2013
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Judy Merrill Larsen is a new author for me.

As a child, Ellen Banks' son Daniel would ask his mother, "How much do you love me?" Ellen would always answer, "I love you all the numbers."

What begins as a beautifully sunny August afternoon on a bucolic lake, suddenly turns tragic when a Jet Ski swerves fatally close to the shore. It's a day Ellen Banks could never have prepared for, a day no mother should ever have to face.

From the moment her son James is killed, Ellen is thrown into a maelstrom of sadness and grief. She now must face the unimaginable prospect of living in a family that has been forever altered while somehow continuing to stay strong for her older son, Daniel. Daniel, who witnessed the fateful accident and blames himself for his younger brother's death.

Ellen's shock and grief soon give way to anger and defiance as lawyers and policemen who once vowed to support her quest for justice succumb to political pressure and back away. Still, Ellen is determined to see the reckless young man pay for his crime and to heal her family's deep wounds. But first she must heal herself.

This was quite a book. Touching and very poignant, the story was an extremely powerful one for me to read. While All the Numbers: A Novel was certainly sad, I enjoyed the book immensely and am eagerly awaiting Judy Merrill Larsen's next book with baited breath. I give this book a blazing A+! 

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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 721 unread books lying around the house and ended the month with 710 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from Amazon, Feed Books, Bookmooch, Netgalley, Mareena also lent me a book of hers, and an author sent me his book to review. Mareena and I also went to a Library Book Sale on the 22nd to celebrate my birthday.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Bloodroot by Amy Greene 
- Mindbend by Robin Cook
A Ship Made of Paper: A Novel by Scott Spencer
- The Red Scream: A Novel of Suspense by Mary Willis Walker 
- Deviltry Afoot by Carol Pritt 
- A Patchwork Planet: A Novel by Anne Tyler
Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash
- The Sky is Falling: A Novel by Sidney Sheldon
- Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons
- Exceptional Acrostics to Keep You Sharp by Charles Preston
- From a Buick 8: A Novel by Stephen King

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- The Right Wrong Number: A Short Story by Barbara Delinsky
- Every Word: Crossings by Amazon Digital Services
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- The Grey Woman and Other Tales by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
- Curious, if True: Strange Tales by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
- Lady Audley's Secret by M. E. Braddon
- The Thing From the Lake by Eleanor M. Ingram
- The Thames Valley Catastrophe by Grant Allen
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens
- The Haunted House by Charles Dickens
- The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
- The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker
- Ice Trap: A Novel of Psychological Suspense by Kitty Sewell
- Horn Pattern by Gretta Hines
- The 228 Legacy by Jennifer J. Chow
- Pray For us Sinners by Peter S. Fischer
- The Paradise Trees by Linda Huber
- Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend
- The Back Road by Rachel Abbott
- Preservation Hall by Scott Spencer
- The Rich Man's Table by Scott Spencer
- The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
- Bound by Blood and Brimstone by D. L. Dunaway 
- Two Sides of a Heartbeat by DeLaine Roberts
- Blue Ribbon Kappa Sudoku Puzzles Magazine: October 2013 by Kappa Press  
- All the Numbers: A Novel by Judy Merrill Larsen
- Black Cross by Greg Isles
- Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin
- Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble
- Don't Tell by Karen Rose
- Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
- The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
- The Hiding Place by David Bell
- House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
- In the Kitchen: A Novel by Monica Ali
- The Loop by Nicholas Evans
- Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
- A New Song by Jan Karon
- One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity by Debbie Macomber
- Rescue: A Novel by Anita Shreve
- Sandcastles by Luanne Rice
- The Sea by John Banville
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- The Summer I Dared: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky
- The Way we Were: A Novel by Marcia Willett
- The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
- Willing by Scott Spencer

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Shock Talk: The Exorcist Files by Bob Larson
- Bloodprint: A Novel of Psychological Suspense by Kitty Sewell
- Nightshade by John Saul
- Mindbend by Robin Cook
- Kitchen Candlecrafting by Ruth Monroe
- Bloodroot by Amy Greene
- Coroner at Large by Thomas T. Noguchi, M. D. and Joseph DiMona
- North From Rome by Helen MacInnes
Island Murders by Wanda Canada
- Mystery of Hunting's End by Mignon G. Eberhart
- Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash
- The Eighth Day by Brooke Leimas
- Exceptional Acrostics to Keep You Sharp by Charles Preston

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: 3,265
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