Monday, November 30, 2015

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

Lovers All Untrue: A Novel by Norah Lofts 
  Published as: Lovers All Untrue in June 1970
Publisher: Doubleday

Birth Name: Norah Robinson
Born: 27 August 1904 in Shipdham, Norfolk, England
Died: 10 September 1983 in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England

Canonical Name: Norah Lofts
Pseudonyms: Juliet Astley and Peter Curtis

Lovers All Untrue: A Novel by Norah Lofts was the sixty-eighth book that I read in 2015. I have had this book on my TBR shelf since April 7, 2009 and my second reading of this book took me three days to finish. This book is definitely still a keeper for me.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ripley Enterprises, Inc. - Ripley's Believe it or Not!: Ghost Stories and Plays

76. Ripley's Believe it or Not!: Ghost Stories and Plays by Ripley Enterprises, Inc. (1968)
The Ripley's Believe it or Not! Series Book 6
Length: 126 pages 
Genre: Horror 
Started: 28 November 2015
Finished: 29 November 2015
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 November 2015
Why do I have it? I like horror and Ripley's Believe it or Not! is a new series for me.

Each of these spine-chilling tales of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls is absolutely, one hundred percent true. Would you believe that a ghost would leave a map to a fifty-million-dollar silver mine? Is it possible that love could bring a dead woman back to life? Could a skeleton shoot its own murderer? 

Every one of these stories may seem totally beyond belief, yet they actually happened. In a book featuring sixteen eerie stories, nine spooky plays and twenty pages of ghostly cartoons, the eminent American cartoonist and entrepreneur, Robert Ripley's legacy of eccentricity survives. Believe it or Not!

To be perfectly honest, I didn't know that much about Robert Ripley before I read this book. I basically recognized his name and knew that he was a newspaper columnist who specialized in strange and unusual facts. Then, several weeks ago, Mareena and I watched a television documentary about the life of Robert Ripley and the creation of Ripley's Believe it or Not! as a worldwide phenomenon. I asked Mareena to see if she could find any Ripley's Believe it or Not! books and she did; I've received two books already, and two more books are coming soon.

I have to say that this book was thoroughly enjoyable. The ghost stories and plays are all purported to be true and are based on factually historical events. In my opinion, all these stories were absolutely amazing and so interesting.

Actually, none of the stories were tremendously detailed; they were just basically abrievated accounts of odd or inexplicable occurrences. The only section that I had a slight problem with were the plays - only because I didn't really understand how that particular style would properly portray what happened. Overall, I loved reading this book and give it an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, November 27, 2015

Emma Donoghue - Room: A Novel

75. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (2010)
Length: 361 pages 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 
Started: 25 November 2015
Finished: 27 November 2015
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 Emma Donoghue is a new author for me.

Jack is five years old. He loves watching 'SpongeBob Squarepants' and 'Dora the Explorer'. He loves playing 'Simon Says' and singing nursery rhymes with his Ma. He loves the candy and chocolates they sometimes get for Sundaytreat.

Jack loves his Ma. He loves Room. To Jack, Room is his entire world. Jack doesn't really understand why Ma doesn't love Room as much as he does.

Room is where Jack was born; it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, Ma makes sure to shut him safely into the wardrobe, where Jack is meant to sleep when Old Nick visits.

To Jack, Room means home; it means safety. But to Ma, Room means prison. Room is the place where Ma has been held for the past seven years.

Yet, her fierce love for her son has made it possible for her to make a life for him. She has created a life for both of them; inside this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's own desperation - and she knows for certain that Room cannot contain either for much longer.

I must say that I absolutely loved reading this book. Yes, it was an extremely difficult story to read; terrifyingly and heart-breakingly sad, but also remarkably funny in parts. In my opinion, Ms. Donoghue's writing style is absolutely fabulous; so riveting and poignant. This book is a gripping yet hopeful story - a truly fantastic novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, November 26, 2015

May You and Yours All Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

I hope that all my blog readers in the United States have a very happy Thanksgiving! May your Thanksgiving be filled with great food, wonderful friendship and all the family ties that you may wish for. :) So, Mareena and I had turkey au jus, pan fried potatoes and potatoes au gratin; and stew meat. I had brussel sprouts while Mareena had canned pears for dessert. We also had an apple pie for dessert. After that, we may watch a movie or read books for the entire day! :)

May all of you have a wonderfully safe and blessed Thanksgiving. Be sure to find some quiet time for yourselves and count your blessings today when and if you can. I know that I'm incredibly thankful for my continued health and happiness, my daughter's continued health and happiness, that we are both comfortable and love each other as much as we do, and that our family is as well as they are. We are also incredibly thankful for our three kitties - Ruby, Leila and Lollipop.

I also hope that everyone who is away from their families at this time, will know that they are sorely missed, truly loved and deeply appreciated by all! God bless all of you, may you have a very happy and wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christopher Rice - A Density of Souls: A Novel

74. A Density of Souls: A Novel by Christopher Rice (2000)
Length: 307 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 20 November 2015
Finished: 24 November 2015
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 Christopher Rice is a new author for me.

Meredith, Brandon, Stephen and Greg were practically inseparable as children; playing hide and seek and constantly riding their bikes together through the New Orleans woods. The four friends shared an unbreakable bond and an undeniable connection with each other that they all believed would last forever. Such strong friendship should last forever; but teenagers can be fickle.

By the time Meredith, Brandon, Stephen and Greg enter high school, something has changed within the dynamic of their friendship. Suddenly, the four young friends are living drastically different lives; and deep feelings of envy, rage, and secret passions have succeeded in tearing their friendship apart. Soon, two violent deaths irrevocably disrupt the core of what these friends once shared, and they all go their separate ways - certain that they will never see each other ever again.

Five years later, the friends are reunited with each other. And, when one of the mysterious deaths that initially drove them apart is discovered to have actually been murder, secrets once thought to be deeply buried begin to unravel. And the casual cruelties inflicted by thoughtless high school students from the past, suddenly have the potential to develop into acts of brutal violence that threaten to engulf an entire city in the present.

First of all, let me say that I initially thought that this mystery was really quite good. I wanted so much to like this book. I thought the premise was intriguing and I found myself really feeling for the characters and what they were going through. However, by about halfway through the book, I noticed that the story was starting to slide slightly off track for me.

I wasn't quite sure why I felt this way at first, but was finally able to put my finger on the specific reason for these feelings. In my opinion, as a debut novel, this began off as an intriguing mystery and initially had such promise. However, I must say that I found Mr. Rice's writing style to be incredibly detailed and somewhat overwritten at times - some of the overly descriptive passages were hard for me to follow. Overall, I was disappointed to discover that this book was ultimately just not my cup of tea - I had to give it a C!

C! - (70-75%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, November 20, 2015

Meg Waite Clayton - The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel

73. The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton (2008)
The Wednesday Series Book 1
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 16 November 2015
Finished: 20 November 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 20 April 2013
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Meg Waite Clayton is a new author for me.

During the late 1960s, five totally different women find themselves consistently meeting together every Wednesday at a park in Palo Alto, California. Initially defined by what their husbands do, these young homemakers and mothers are all fairly far removed from the Summer of Love. The 'Wednesday Sisters', as the ladies begin to call themselves - Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally and Brett - actually don't seem to have much more in common with each other beyond a shared love of literature and the 'Miss America Pageant'.

Frankie is a timid transplant from Chicago; brutally honest and blunt Linda is a remarkable athlete; Kath is a Kentucky-bred debutante; quiet Ally has a secret that she has been keeping to herself; and quirky, ultra-intelligent Brett always makes sure to wear white gloves with her miniskirts. Yet somehow these five women find a way - over the course of nearly four decades - to redefine the meaning of the word family. By sharing their mutual admiration for the work of such authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Sylvia Plath, and Charles Dickens and watching the 'Miss America Pageant' on television together each year; the ladies form an extraordinarily strong and lasting bond that will sustain all of them through the years.

As the years roll on and their children grow older, the quintet forms a writers' circle to express their hopes and dreams through writing poetry, stories, and, eventually, books. Along the way, this talented sisterhood also experiences history in the making - Vietnam, the race to put a man on the moon, and a women's movement that challenges everything that they have ever thought about themselves. All the while, the ladies support each other through the various personal struggles that they experience in their own lives: the changes to each of them that come from infedelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. The Wednesday Sisters is a humorous and poignant novel; a literary feast for book lovers that earns a place among those popular works that honor the joyful, mysterious, unbreakable bonds between friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In my opinion, the story was very well-written and wonderfully historically detailed; I found that this author worked the various historical events into the story in a realistic and completely believable way. While I appreciated the detailed historical context - and thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because of it - I must say that I actually loved reading the stories of the 'Wednesday Sisters' themselves; their own personal life stories, slightly more than the historical context. I would give this book a definite A+! and am eagerly awaiting the chance to read Ms. Clayton's sequel: The Wednesday Daughters.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Laura Wilson - Telling Lies to Alice

72. Telling Lies to Alice by Laura Wilson (2004)
(Originally Published as: Hello Bunny Alice) (2003)
Length: 305 pages 
Genre: Historical Mystery 
Started: 13 November 2015
Finished: 15 November 2015
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 November 2015
Why do I have it? I like historical mysteries and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

In 1967, nightclub waitress Alice Conway met Lenny Maxted - one half of England's legendary comedic duo, 'Maxted and Flowers' - and fell deeply in love with him. Yet, like so many great comedians before him, Lenny had a troubled side - a dark side which even Alice, soon his fiancĂ©e, could never reach. So it comes as a devastating blow to the entertainment community when it learns that Lenny Maxted committed suicide on an earl's estate. However, no one could possibly be more shattered by Lenny's inexplicable death than Alice herself, who found his body.

Now it's seven years later, and Alice is living quietly on an isolated farm in Oxfordshire, still trying to forget the pain of her past. Traumatized by having been the focus of so many newspaper tabloid-style headlines, and continuously haunted by her vivid nightmares of Lenny's death - Alice's serenity has practically been demolished. When an anonymous newspaper clipping arrives in the mail, everything immediately comes rushing back. Despite spending years in self-imposed isolation, and the beauty of her chosen safe haven, Alice knows that she can't ignore the past for very much longer...

And when an unexpected visitor shows up on her doorstep, and another venomous newspaper article arrives, Alice is certain: The nightmare is somehow beginning all over again. What happens next will take Alice on a terrifying journey into darkness...because someone is telling lies to Alice about what happened one night seven years ago. Someone who knows the full truth about what really happened that terrible night - a monstrous secret that has been kept for seven years; a dark secret that ultimately links a time, a place, and a group of friends and lovers. A secret that will put Alice in mortal danger.

This is actually the third book by Ms. Wilson that I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one as much as I did the other two. In my opinion, this was a very intriguing mystery. The plot was just intricate enough to hold my attention, but not overly complicated. I appreciated that I had absolutely no problem following this story. I give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Norah Lofts - The Golden Fleece

71. The Golden Fleece by Norah Lofts (1943)
(Originally Published as: Michael and All Angels) (1943)
Length: 238 pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 10 November 2015
Finished: 12 November 2015
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 7 November 2015
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

On a particularly chilly morning in the autumn of 1817, Will Oakley - the proprietor of a roadside inn called 'The Fleece' - is just beginning his day. He is a forty-four-year-old widower; the father of two fully-grown daughters - Myrtle and Harriet - who also help their father run the inn. When a coach from Ipswich arrives at 'The Fleece', the Oakley family and their servants have absolutely no idea how much their lives will forever be altered by meeting its passengers. A strange, motley company of individuals is discharged from the Ipswich coach and each person within that group has the potential to irrevocably change the lives of everyone who calls 'The Fleece' their home.

Despite his hospitable position of landlord, Will Oakley is a quiet, secretive man. He is seen by others as being slightly standoffish, but he is actually a man who is more than what he seems; a man with a past that he has kept carefully hidden. Jonathan Smail has recently arrived at 'The Fleece', and is delighted to have become reacquainted with his old friend, Will. He knows all about Will's deepest, darkest secrets actually, and is quite willing to make his good friend any means necessary.

Myrtle is Will's older daughter. She is a beautiful, generous, and bright-spirited soul - pleasant and witty, and hopelessly in love with a man she can never have. Roger Moreton is young, aristocratic and careless. He may love Myrtle, but a simple innkeeper's daughter would never do for a marriage proposal. Roger sought a wealthy wife to pay his debts.

Harriet, Will's younger daughter, is practical and level-headed; so different from her sister, Myrtle. She may not be as vivacious or as winsome as her sister - she is certainly no beauty - yet she is far more courageous than many people would expect.

I have to say that as surprising as it may seem, this is one of the very few novels by Norah Lofts that I haven't read before. In my opinion, it seemed slightly different from her typical writing style, but I couldn't quite pin down why. The story was beautifully written and well-developed, and as with the majority of Ms. Lofts' work, she has completely captured the time period.

Personally, I had a little bit of trouble getting into the story, but once I did, I was completely swept away by Ms. Lofts - as usual. I will certainly be keeping this book to read again; but I give this book a full-fledged A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Laura Lippman - I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel

70. I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel by Laura Lippman (2010)
(Originally Published as: Don't Look Back) (2010)
Length: 373 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 5 November 2015
Finished: 10 November 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 16 August 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and Laura Lippman is a new author for me.

Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life. She is happily married to her successful husband Peter, and the couple have two precocious children - thirteen-year-old Iso and eight-year-old Albie. Yet Eliza's tranquility is suddenly and inexplicably shattered when she receives a letter from the one person from her past she never thought she would hear from again. He is, in fact, the last person she ever expects - or even wants - to hear from: Walter Bowman.

With his simple statement: "There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. Still, I'd know you anywhere." - Walter Bowman has the disturbing ability to turn strong, self-assured thirty-eight-year-old Eliza Benedict, back into a desperate, frightened teenager named Elizabeth Lerner. In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had already killed at least one girl by the time he took Eliza, and she always suspected that he had other victims as well.

Now sitting on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim - a thirteen-year-old girl - Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears. Although Eliza wants absolutely nothing to do with him, she has also never forgotten that Walter was always the most unpredictable when he was ignored. Desperate to shield her children from the undisclosed trauma in her past, she cautiously makes contact with Walter. She's actually always wondered why Walter let her live; perhaps now he'll tell her. And finally reveal the truth about his other victims.

Yet, as Walter continues to press Eliza for more frequent contact and a deeper connection, it quickly becomes evident that he has ulterior motives. He wants Eliza to remember what actually happened to her during that long-ago summer. He is after something far greater than forgiveness. He wants her to save his life.

And Eliza, who has worked so hard for her comfortable, cocooned life, will do absolutely anything to protect maintain her hard-won serenity - even if it means finally facing the events of that horrifying summer and the terrible truth she's kept buried deep inside. I'd Know You Anywhere is an edgy, gripping tale of psychological manipulation that will leave readers breathless. This is a tremendous novel about fear, intimidation and survival from the acclaimed, award-winning author Laura Lippman.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was an incredibly vivid portrayal of the psychological scars that are left behind by a single traumatic experience. Laura Lippman is a new author for me and this is the first of her books that I've ever read, but I will certainly keep her name on top of my wishlist. I give this book a definite A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

P. D. James - Unnatural Causes

69. Unnatural Causes by P. D. James (1967)
The Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries Series Book 3
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 2 November 2015
Finished: 4 November 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 May 2001
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and P. D. James is a new author for me.

Maurice Seton was a distinguished mystery writer living in the tiny town of Suffolk, England. He may have come to prominence through his books, but no murder that he had ever devised for one of his stories could possibly have been as grisly as his own. When his gruesomely mutilated corpse is found in the bottom of a dinghy, drifting just within sight of the lakeshore, ripples of shock and horror spread among the tightly-knit circle of Maurice's bizarre friends.

Scotland Yard Inspector Adam Dalgliesh was supposed to be on vacation, visiting his eccentric Aunt Jane. To be perfectly honest, he is actually looking for some time off; some time away from crime and death. However, it would seem that crime and death never got the message, and Inspector Dalgliesh soon finds himself investigating the murder of Maurice Seton. His primary list of suspects seems to come from the close-knit circle of Maurice's self-described friends; certainly an unusually odd bunch of people, if truth be told.

There is a cynical and cruel drama critic, a voluptuous burlesque showgirl, a dissolute young heir, and a young woman who is absolutely terrified that she may become the killer's next victim. Inspector Dalgliesh and his extraordinary aunt Jane are following a tantalizing trail of sin and scandal. And they must make sure that they are on the right track to discovering a dead man's secrets, because if the sleuths are wrong, this perilous plot is bound to take another twisted and murderous turn...

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The mystery itself wasn't too taxing and I found it easy to follow. I also appreciated that there weren't that many characters in the story; I usually find myself getting confused if there are too many characters to remember.

Anyway, I know that I have several other books by P. D. James on my bookshelf, but I haven't found them yet; they are so well hidden. I will say that this was the first book by Ms. James that I've actually read, although I have started to read one or two in the past. For whatever reason, I was unable to really get into either book and had to set them aside for a while. Although I would happily give this book an A+! Guess I'll be looking out those other two P. D. James books next!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Norah Lofts - Lovers All Untrue: A Novel

68. Lovers All Untrue: A Novel by Norah Lofts (1970)
Length: 252 pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Started: 30 October 2015
Finished: 1 November 2015
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 7 April 2009
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

A carefully detailed portrait of Victorian England serves as the background for this ultimately tragic story of two young women taking their first eager and awkward steps towards adulthood. For the Draper sisters; headstrong Marion and her more docile-natured sister Ellen, living under their father's thumb has reached nearly intolerable levels. Their father is a strict disciplinarian, a controlling, domineering man who seeks only to stifle his daughters youthful exuberance and incipient passions.

From the inevitable conflict that is created by such strong personalities living under the same roof, arises feelings of frustration and bitterness. The struggles of a young woman who is trying to escape an impossible situation by finding love, quickly deteriorate to the point of no return. What should be easy and natural in the life of a young, passionate girl, however, is not, and her circumstances go from bad to worse.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found myself completely swept away by this story. In my opinion, this is typical Norah Lofts fare - a superbly-crafted plot and intriguing story; filled with well-developed and believable characters, and realistically suspenseful gothic atmosphere. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Reading Wrap-up For October 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 October with 1,041 books lying around the house and ended the month with 1,036 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from Paperback Swap.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

- Gad's Hall: A Novel of the Supernatural by Norah Lofts

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- The Amateur Marriage: A Novel by Anne Tyler
- Flowers in the Rain and Other Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher
- End in Tears by Ruth Rendell
- The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- The Brownstone by Ken Eulo
- The Bloodstone by Ken Eulo
- The Deathstone by Ken Eulo

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Heartwood: A Novel by Belva Plain
- Twins: A Novel by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland
- Save the Last Dance For Me by Judi Miller
- Soul/Mate by Rosamond Smith
- Groundswell: A Novel by Katie Lee
- Man, Woman and Child by Erich Segal
- Gad's Hall: A Novel of the Supernatural by Norah Lofts
- Myself, my Enemy by Jean Plaidy
- End in Tears by Ruth Rendell

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

Books Read: 5
Pages Read: 1,481
Grade Range: A+! to A!

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