Sunday, May 31, 2015

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:

Fortune's Hand by Belva Plain
  Published as: Fortune's Hand in May 1999
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

Fortune's Hand by Belva Plain was the thirty-first book that I read in 2015. I have had this book on my TBR shelf since January 24, 2015 and it took me three days to reread. This book is definitely a keeper for me. 

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Robert B. Parker - Stardust

36. Stardust by Robert B. Parker (1990)
The Spenser Mysteries Series Book 17
Length: 289 pages 
Genre: Contemporary Mystery 
Started: 27 May 2015
Finished: 30 May 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 14 August 2001
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Tough-talking private investigator Spenser, and his loyal sidekick Hawk are back in action again, and this just may prove to be their toughest case yet. When the Hollywood-based television series 'Fifty Minutes' begins shooting locally, Spenser's love Susan - a psychologist who is acting as consultant to the television film crew - persuades Spenser and Hawk to guard the star of the show, Jill Joyce. Spenser can immediately smell the trouble brewing.

As soon as he meets Jill Joyce, he knows that trouble is bound to be just around the corner. Jill Joyce is stunningly beautiful; one gorgeously sexy bombshell. Yet, on closer inspection Spenser freely admits that she is, to put it charitably, one screamingly hot mess to deal with. She is arrogant, spoiled and neurotic - and absolutely convinced that someone is stalking her.

Spenser really doesn't know what to believe. Jill's abject fear that someone wants her dead may just be a sign that she is out of her mind - a woman who desperately needs to spend some quality time in drug rehab; or she could be one thousand percent right, and someone is actually out to get her. Even though privately, Spenser can hardly blame the potential assassin for their feelings - he and Susan recognize the woman's very real fear hidden behind the celebrity's mask.

In Spenser's opinion, Ms. Joyce's reckless off-camera behavior epitomizes the term 'Drama Queen'. Her antics seem to be at the very height of extravagant depravity; yet as the detective investigates the threatening letters and phone calls received by the troubled starlet, he becomes increasingly convinced that she has some very valid reasons to fear for her life. Someone is definitely not a fan of Jill Joyce; and Spenser is soon drawn into a deadly and nightmarish mystery that gives new meaning to the term 'stage fright'.

Actually, I know that I have read this book before; I just can't remember exactly when that might have been. The story seemed vaguely familiar to me, although I couldn't have told anyone anything about the mystery. Robert B. Parker was really quite the author; and I've always enjoyed his work. I love his easy writing style and gritty characterizations.

I find his plots very intriguing yet still highly readable - and not so convoluted that I can't follow the mystery or understand the solution. There is also a fine thread of dark comedy running through each mystery that seems entirely appropriate to the situation and to each character's personality, as well. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to reading more from this series. I would give Stardust by Robert B. Parker an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marabel Morgan - Total Joy

35. Total Joy by Marabel Morgan (1976)
Length: 208 pages 
Genre: Non-Fiction 
Started: 22 May 2015
Finished: 27 May 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 July 2001
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and Marabel Morgan is a new author for me.

When she was in third grade, Marabel Morgan's parents went through a divorce. By the time she was an adult, Marabel was looking forward to her own marriage and she felt determined that divorce would never happen to herself or her husband. After all, Charlie was her best friend and they loved each other dearly. Sure, there were certain tiny details - things that could be made better about Charlie - but as his wife, Marabel felt confident that she was up for such a challenge. It was a personal project that she entitled: 'Project: Change Charlie'.

Approximately two years into her marriage, Marabel discovered that her "moonlight and roses had turned to daylight and dishes." She and Charlie weren't necessarily awful to each other - they were still unfailingly polite - it was just that the romance was no longer there; the sparkle was beginning to fade. Marabel Morgan was perplexed. Everything she had done to change her husband didn't appear to have worked, and the tension in their marriage seemed to be getting progressively worse.

So it was that Marabel's quest for marriage survival began in earnest. Since trying to change Charlie wasn't working out, she decided that she needed to change her tactics. It was time for Marabel to start a brand new project: 'Project: Change Marabel'.

When I first started reading this book I hadn't heard of Marabel Morgan, although, since I've finished it I've learned that in the 1970's Ms. Morgan was the spearhead of a hugely successful movement known as 'The Total Woman'. While I've never ascribed to this particular movement, myself, I suppose I can understand how it might become popular with some women. I have also noticed that among certain women - particularly Christians - it seems that there has been a recent resurgence in Ms. Morgan's ideas of a 'Submissive Marriage' - if watching 'The Learning Channel' can be any guide for me.

In my opinion, while this book was extremely outdated for being written in 1976, the idea of living your life and dealing with your marriage according to Biblical ideals is certainly appealing. I can also understand how the women of today hear the term 'Submissive Marriage', and their hackles immediately raise. To be perfectly honest, even the hair on my own neck stood up a little and took notice. However, if the practice works well for the women who decide to implement it, then I have no problem with that. Overall, I would give this book a B+!

B+! - (85-89%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Puzzle Time is Here Again!

Hello everyone! I hope that you're all just fine this morning - I certainly am! :) Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on how I'm doing so far. Since I finished The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby on Friday, May 20th, I immediately chose another non-fiction book to read. Since I last posted about my puzzle-related activities, I've read four of the nine books I moved upstairs with me. I'm just a tiny way into the fifth and so far, it's pretty good.

I've posted at least two books to all the swapping websites that we belong to without reading them, and of the four books I read, three of them have been posted since I've read them. I'm also occasionally doing a variety of puzzles - mostly Sudoku, crosswords and word jumbles from the newspaper.

Currently, I'm reading Total Joy by Marabel Morgan. I started reading this book on Friday, May 22nd, and had originally acquired it in July of 2001 from a Library Book Sale that Mareena and I went to at that time. For a book written in 1976, I'm finding it to be rather good, if slightly dated.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, May 22, 2015

Jean-Dominique Bauby - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

34. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby (1997)
Length: 132 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started: 20 May 2015
Finished: 22 May 2015
Where did it come from? This book was a birthday gift given to my husband by someone who was a frequent visitor to the restaurant.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 7 November 1999
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and Jean-Dominique Bauby is a new author for me.

In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby was living a relatively successful life. He was forty-three-years-old; a doting father to two young children with a rewarding career. As the editor-in-chief for the French magazine, Elle, he was a man who was highly regarded by his colleagues. He was someone who was deeply loved and held in the highest esteem for his sharp wit, his indomitable sense of style, and his impassioned approach to life.

However, by the end of the year in 1995, Jean-Dominique had suffered a major health crisis that effectively knocked his world off its axis. He became the victim of an extremely rare kind of stroke to the brain stem. After twenty days spent in a coma, Jean-Dominique eventually awoke inside of a body that had essentially stopped working: only his left eye functioned properly, allowing him to see, and, by blinking, to clearly impart to others that his mind remained unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to communicate with others; relearning the ability to express himself in the richest detail, using a unique form of the alphabet.

It was by blinking to select letters one by one as this special alphabet was slowly recited to him, over and over again, that Jean-Dominique learned to communicate again with those around him. In the same unique way, he was eventually able to compose this extraordinary book. Again and again he returns to an "inexhaustible reservoir of sensations," thus managing to keep in touch with himself and the life around him.

At times wistful, mischievous, angry and witty, Jean-Dominique bears witness to his inherent determination to live life as fully within his mind as he had once been able to in his body. He explains the joy, and the deep sadness, he feels at seeing his children; at hearing his aged father's voice on the phone. In magical sequences, he imagines traveling to other places and times; of lying next to the woman he loves. Fed only intravenously, he imagines preparing and tasting the full flavor of delectable dishes.

Jean-Dominique Bauby died two days after the French publication of his book. Yet The Diving Bell and the Butterfly remains as a poignant testimony to a lifetime well-lived - a lasting testament to life itself. Already being greeted with extraordinary acclaim - this is the astonishing, profoundly moving memoir of a man afflicted by locked-in syndrome, a state of almost total paralysis that leaves the victim, in the author's own words, "like a mind in a jar."

Given the serious topic of this book, Mr. Bauby writes his story without a hint of self-indulgence. I was expecting that there might be a certain amount of bitterness, anger, or depression for his situation that Mr. Bauby was feeling - a sense of sorrow for the way his life turned out. Instead, I found it to be a remarkably poignant and courageous memoir, still surprisingly hopeful even in the face of such a devastating illness.

While Mr. Bauby had such incredible difficulty in creating this book, not an ounce of that struggle to communicate is found in his writing. There was an easiness to his writing style that I really appreciated. I give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Eileen Goudge - Domestic Affairs: A Novel

33. Domestic Affairs: A Novel by Eileen Goudge (2008)
Length: 437 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 15 May 2015
Finished: 19 May 2015
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 4 August 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and I have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Domestic Affairs: A Novel is an intimate story of friendship lost and regained, old loves rekindled, and a baptism by fire which eventually leads three remarkable women to one very special redemption.

As children, Abigail and Lila were the best of friends. That was until betrayal fractured their friendship - seemingly forever - and Abigail was forced to leave the only home that she'd ever known. It all begins when Abigail's mother - the housekeeper for Lila's wealthy family - is summarily banished, effectively tearing Abigail away from Lila and casting her out of the place she once considered home.

Now, twenty-five years later, the girls' lives have each changed in ways they never would have expected when they were children. Abigail is now a self-made success story: a prolific author of cookbooks and television personality. Lila herself married well, and for the past decades she has lived the glittering life of a Park Avenue socialite. However, everything changes in the blink of an eye.

When Lila suffers a tragic reversal of fortune, she turns for help to her childhood friend. Penniless and all but unemployable, Lila approaches Abigail for a potential job. Abigail readily agrees and employs her old friend: as her housekeeper.

Yet revenge doesn't taste quite as sweet as Abigail once imagined. Lila's reentry into her life brings with it a host of unexpected complications and unanswered questions: Will Abigail be reunited with Lila's twin brother, Vaughn, her girlhood first love? Will a grief-stricken mother, Concepción - whose daughter perished in the fire that consumed Abigail's factory - succeed in crossing the border to track Abigail down and confront her about her daughter's death? Will Lila ever find love again after discovering that her husband took his own life?

In this sweeping and emotionally-gripping tale, Abigail, Lila, and Concepción are thrown together and forced to unite to save one well as themselves. Along the way they discover that the forces that have torn their lives apart have also shaped them in ways they never could have imagined...

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book; in my opinion, the story was intriguing and fast-paced, and the drama never waned. I was drawn into the story right away, and really connected with the characters and their various issues. While this book was definitely interesting reading for me, I still found the story to be just the slightest bit too long.

It may have been as a result of my short attention span, but I felt that the story could have been just as interesting if the story was about fifty pages shorter than it was. Overall, I would still give this book an A! 

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, May 15, 2015

Agatha Christie - Third Girl

32. Third Girl by Agatha Christie (1966)
The Hercule Poirot Series Book 35
Length: 264 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 11 May 2015
Finished: 15 May 2015
Where did it come from? From Barnes and Noble
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 23 January 2008
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

From the moment he meets her, the young girl strikes Hercule Poirot as peculiar. In fact, everything about her - from her tousled appearance to her perplexed stare - seems too strange; downright abnormal to him. Yet it's her vague confession to a murder she's not even entirely sure she committed that really throws the little Belgian detective for a loop. In all his years, Monsieur Poirot has never encountered such an unusual child.

The mystery becomes even darker and more complicated when he finds out that the odd little duck has suddenly flown the proverbial coop. What's more: No one knows where she may have gone, nor does anyone seem to care that she's missing. So, the question is: Just what's her secret? No one's talking. But Monsieur Poirot suspects that the answer is going to be a killer...

Over the past several years, I've actually read a total of eight of Agatha Christie's books - this is the fourth book that I have read in her Hercule Poirot Series. In my opinion, this was certainly an enjoyable read for me, but still incredibly intricate and confusing in parts. This perhaps wasn't Agatha Christie's best book in my opinion, but in typical Agatha Christie style; I was completely in the dark when it came to revealing the 'who-done-it' moment in the story. Overall, I would give this book a B+!

B+! - (85-89%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

It's my Sixth Blogiversary!

Thank You Images

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

I checked on an anniversary website and found out that the traditional gifts to celebrate six years together is to give your partner any type of candy. The more modern gift is to give your partner iron. The sixth anniversary gemstone is amethyst or turquoise, the anniversary color is white, and the flower that you usually give your partner on your sixth anniversary together is the Calla Lily which can represent magnificent beauty, transition, pure love and growth.

The Calla Lily (also known as the Arum Lily) is a beautiful and remarkably distinctive flower, yet oddly enough, it isn't actually a lily. Calla Lilies come in a variety of different colors such as shades of green, white, pink, purple, yellow and orange. It is also considered to be highly poisonous. The flower itself is actually a member of the Araceae family and is native to Southern Africa - primarily Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique - although some species have also been cultivated to grow in cooler climates such as the British Isles and the northwestern United States. 

The Calla Lily has also been naturalized in other countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Madeira and Australia - and is classified as a toxic weed and a pest in Western Australia. The flower means different things to different people, and has some underlying meanings in different cultures. The flower's true meaning is beauty, however, it is also a very popular flower usually seen at funerals or other events commemorating death.

The flower was often used in the paintings of Diego Rivera and Georgia O'Keeffe. It also is the national flower of the island nation of Saint Helena - Britain's second-oldest remaining overseas territory - where the flower grows profusely. Since 1926 - the Calla Lily has been an important symbol of Irish republicanism and nationalism - and is used to commemorate the fallen of the Easter Rising of 1916 and onwards.

I just started reading Third Girl by Agatha Christie on 11 May 2015.

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller, born on 15 September 1890) was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She also wrote six romances under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott, although she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name. Most of her crime novels featured the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Parker Pyne, Harley Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. The novel which launched Agatha Christie's writing career was The Mysterious Affair at Styles - which featured Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and was published in 1920.

Agatha was born into a wealthy upper middle-class family in Torquay, Devon - the youngest of three children - born to Clara Boehmer Miller, a Belfast-born Englishwoman and her husband Frederick Alvah Miller, an American stockbroker. Agatha Christie always claimed that her childhood was "very happy", although being home schooled, she spent much of her childhood alone and separate from other children. However, she was surrounded from an early age by a series of strong and independent women, and she also spent quite a lot of time with her pets, whom she adored. When Agatha Christie was eleven years old, her father - who was often ill - died after suffering a series of heart attacks.

According to Agatha - the death of her father at the age of 55 - marked the end of her childhood. In 1902, soon after his death, she was sent away to a girls' school in Torquay, but found it extremely difficult adjusting to the disciplined atmosphere. In 1905, Agatha was sent to Paris where she completed her education. She returned to England in 1910 and discovered that her mother was ill.

They decided to spend more time together in the warmer climate of Cairo, which at that time was a popular tourist destination for wealthy Britons. For the next three months, Clara and Agatha stayed at the Gezirah Palace Hotel - where, chaperoned by her mother - Agatha attended many social functions in search of a husband. Although she also visited many Egyptian monuments, she didn't exhibit any of the particularly great interest in archeology and Egyptology that became so prominent in her later years. Upon returning to England, Agatha continued her search for a husband, entering into short-lived relationships with four men and an engagement with another.

She met her first husband, Archibald Christie, at a dance held at Ugbrooke, Devon - about twelve miles from Torquay. The couple quickly fell in love and married on the afternoon of Christmas Eve in 1914, while Archie was home on leave. Agatha herself got involved in the war effort, joining the 'Voluntary Aid Detachment' (VAD) in 1914; she attended to wounded soldiers in a hospital in Torquay as an unpaid VAD nurse - responsible for assisting the doctors and maintaining the soldiers' morale. She worked in that capacity from October of 1914 to December of 1916; qualifying as an apothecary's assistant in 1917 and earning a living of £16 until the end of her service in 1918.

After a period of marital discord between them - which culminated in Agatha's mysterious ten-day disappearance and a high-profile search for her in December of 1926 - the Christies divorced in 1928. Agatha retained custody of the couple's only daughter Rosalind and the Christie name for her writing. Agatha married her second husband - Sir Max Mallowan - in 1930. The couple had met during an archeological dig and had a loving, happy marriage until Agatha's death from natural causes in January of 1976.

To honor her many literary achievements, Agatha Christie was appointed a Commander of the British Empire during the 1956 New Year's Honours; she was promoted to Dame in 1971. Her husband had been knighted for his work in archeology in 1968, and owing to his knighthood, from that time she could be styled as Lady Mallowan. The couple was actually one of the very few married couples where both partners were honored in their own right.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, May 11, 2015

Belva Plain - Fortune's Hand

Reread. Fortune's Hand by Belva Plain (1999)
Length: 421 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Originally Read: 26 January 2012
Reread Finished: 11 May 2015
Where did it come from? Originally from Bookmooch, then from my "keeper" shelf.

Belva Plain is one of my favorite authors, but Fortune's Hand was one of the very few books of hers that I hadn't read at the time that I acquired it. Mareena actually got the book as a 'just because' gift for me from Bookmooch in January of 2012. I received the book through the mail on January 24th and immediately started reading it.

It actually took me two days to read this book when I read it for the first time - from January 24th to January 26th, 2012. My reread took place over three days in May of 2015 - from May 8th to May 11th, 2015. It was a reread for me from approximately two and a half years ago, and I will definitely keep this book to read it again sometime soon.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall' Movie Review

'Wolf Hall': From left, Damian Lewis, Mark Rylance and Claire Foy (as Anne Boleyn) star in this six-part adaptation of two of Hilary Mantel's novels: Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. 'Wolf Hall' airs on PBS' 'Masterpiece', Sunday nights at 10 PM, Eastern and Pacific times; 9 PM, Central Time.
So, since I've already written a post back in April of 2015 about the books of Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell Trilogy - two of which were the basis for PBS' six-part television adaptation of 'Wolf Hall', airing on 'Masterpiece' from Sunday, April 5, 2015 to Sunday, May 10, 2015 - I decided that this post would be strictly about the actors who starred in the three main roles, and the production of the program, itself.

Every Sunday night at 10 PM, Eastern and Pacific times - from April 5th to May 10th, 2015 - PBS' 'Masterpiece' aired a six-part television adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Bestsellers: Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies; published in 2009 and 2012, respectively. 'Wolf Hall' starred Mark Rylance (as Thomas Cromwell), Damian Lewis (as Henry VIII) and Claire Foy (as Anne Boleyn). The television miniseries was produced by Mark Pybus and co-produced by Sonia Friedman.

Who Plays Thomas Cromwell - The Earl of Essex and King Henry VIII's Chief Minister?

The son of two English teachers, Mark Rylance was born David Mark Rylance Waters in January of 1960. Although, he was born in Ashford, Kent, England, Mark Rylance was raised partly in the United States - his parents moved to America when he was two years old. The family lived for a time in Connecticut and Wisconsin - where his father taught English at Connecticut's Choate School and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, respectively.

Widely regarded as the greatest stage actor of his generation, Mark Rylance has enjoyed an esteemed career on stage and on screen. He has previously played the role of Anne Boleyn's father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, in 2008's The Other Boleyn Girl. He is the winner of two Olivier Awards and three Tony Awards, as well as a BAFTA for his role in The Government Inspector. Rylance is actually his paternal grandfather's middle name.

Who Plays Henry VIII - King of England and the Second Monarch of the Tudor Dynasty?

Born in St. John's Wood, London in February of 1971, Damian Watcyn Lewis has three siblings. He is the son of Charlotte Mary (née Bowater), from an upper-class background, and J. Watcyn Lewis, a city broker whose own parents were Welsh. He was raised with his brothers Gareth and William, and his sister Amanda, until the age of eight. In 1979, Damian was sent to Ashdown House boarding school, then was educated at Eton College.

At the age of sixteen, Damian decided he wanted to become an actor, and so he formed his own theater company. From 1990 to 1993, he studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and among his teachers there was Royal Shakespeare Company stalwart Colin McCormack. He studied alongside Daniel Craig and Joseph Feinnes and graduated in 1993. He started acting on the stage, particularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

There he was seen by director Stephen Spielberg, who subsequently cast him as Richard Winters in the HBO/BBC miniseries 'Band of Brothers' in 2001, a role which earned Damian a Golden Globe nomination, among other awards. His castmates from the miniseries were initially skeptical that he could play the role of an American military officer convincingly. It turned out that Damian's American accent was so flawless, that some of the cast and crew didn't believe that he was actually British.

He often portrays American military officials, even though he is British. He also frequently plays characters who are mentally unstable or violent. He has competed twice in the Northern Rock All Star Cup, a golf tournament that pits celebrities from Europe against those of America. Damian faced off against such celebrities as Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper.

He plays the guitar, the piano and the keyboard. Since July 4, 2007, Damian has been married to the actress Helen McCrory and they have two children together - a daughter named Manon, and a son named Gulliver. Damian was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to drama.

Who Plays Anne Boleyn - Marquess of Pembroke and Queen Consort of England, the Second Wife of King Henry VIII?

Claire Foy was born in Stockport, England in April of 1984. She grew up in Manchester and Leeds, the youngest of three children. Her family later moved to Longwick, Buckinghamshire for her father's job as a salesman for the Rank Xerox Company. Her parents divorced when she was eight years old.

She attended a girls' grammar school - Aylesbury High School - from the age of twelve. She then went on to study drama and screen classes at Liverpool John Moores University, and graduated from the Oxford School of Drama in 2007. She moved to Peckham, a district of southeast London, to share a house with "five friends from drama school." 

Claire Foy began her acting career in 2008, and is best known for her role as Amy - the title role in BBC One's production of 'Little Dorrit'. She was also in the made-for-television movie Going Postal - the third such adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels - which premiered in 2010. She has also played Anna in the 2011 medieval fantasy film Season of the Witch, alongside Nicolas Cage; and Dawn in the 2011 drama film Wreckers, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch. Claire has also played the role of Kate Balfour in NBC's shortlived television series 'Crossbones' in 2014.

She married the actor Stephen Campbell Moore in December of 2014. She was actually two months pregnant when she finished filming 'Wolf Hall', and gave birth to her first child - a girl - in March of 2015. She returned to work six months after the birth of her daughter to begin filming The Crown.

My Review of the Movie Adaptation of Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall':

Despite not having read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel before we watched this miniseries, I must say that I really enjoyed watching this adaptation very much. I actually have always liked anything about the life and times of King Henry VIII and this made-for-television movie was no different. This was a six-part miniseries - from Sunday, April 5th, to Sunday, May 10th - that aired on PBS' 'Masterpiece' every Sunday night at 10 PM, Eastern and Pacific times, 9 PM, Central Time.

I think that the actors who were cast were absolutely amazing in their various roles. Mark Rylance made Thomas Cromwell seem so much more sympathetic than the history books portray him. In this television adaptation, Thomas Cromwell is portrayed as a man placed in an almost impossible situation.

He is the King's Chief Minister tasked to do something that he doesn't really believe in or agree with. His dilemma is 'Complain, and risk falling out of King Henry VII's favor, or do as he is told, and risk Anne Boleyn's understandable ire.' Not to mention having the Queen's actual death on his conscience.

I'm also amazed at myself. I'm amazed that despite being so interested in history, it never even crossed my mind to wonder if Thomas Cromwell had a family. I mean I knew that he was married and had children, but I just didn't realize how fatherly Thomas Cromwell was; how warm-hearted he seemed.

If I had one particular problem with this adaptation, it may be that sometimes I couldn't really tell who was who in a scene. Even if they were historically important characters, the question would occasionally cross my mind: "Now, who is this supposed to be again?" Overall though, I would give this movie adaptation an A!

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Anita Gustafson - Lost...and Never Found

30. Lost...and Never Found by Anita Gustafson (1985)
Length: 137 pages
Genre: True Crime
Started: 6 May 2015
Finished: 7 May 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 5 April 2001
Why do I have it? I like true crime and Anita Gustafson is a new author for me.

This book is a collection of ten true crime stories about people from all over the United States of America who all have one thing in common. Each person disappeared without a trace, and was never seen again. The cases range from 1854 to 1982 and involve every kind of disappearance: from a farmer out working in his fields to a wealthy young socialite walking down the street.

These cases have stymied and frustrated hundreds of detectives, reporters and families - because these are stories without definite answers. A plethora of theories have cropped up over the years, but still no one can offer satisfactory explanations as to how a thirteen-year-old newspaper carrier, or an eccentric historian, or a highly-respected judge can just disappear and never be seen again. But we can, and perhaps always will wonder. And in ten unbelievable tales, we can find out who these people were, before they vanished - without a trace.

I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a relatively quick read for me and the cases included in the book were unusual enough to hold my attention completely. Most of the stories were totally new to me, although I think two or three of them are considered famous for remaining unsolved mysteries for as long as they have. I've always had a fascination with the unexpected and unexplained and this book is no exception. I give it an A+! and will certainly keep my eyes open for more from this author to read in the future.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Danielle Steel - Secrets

29. Secrets by Danielle Steel (1985)
Length: 442 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 2 May 2015 
Finished: 5 May 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 11 September 2001
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Secrets by Danielle Steel is the behind the scenes story of a one-of-a-kind prime time television series. This story features all the drama that surrounds the creation and development of a major hit television series. Now America's number-one best-selling novelist, Danielle Steel, takes her readers from the intimacies and intricacies of family relationships, into the glittering heart of the nation's most glamorous industry: television.

When Melvin Wechsler first conceived the idea of a television show like 'Manhattan', he was a man already known to have the Midas touch when it came to the entertainment industry. Tempered by tragedy, seasoned by success, a man like Mel Wechsler was known to be a star-maker when it came to producing seriously ground-breaking television. In his casting of 'Manhattan', Hollywood's own 'King Midas' will assemble a truly dazzling cast.

For Sabina Quarles, 'Manhattan' becomes the springboard that propels her from respected actress to Hollywood superstar and gives her the money to protect her well-guarded secret. For the ravishingly beautiful Jane Adams, 'Manhattan' will be her chance for escape from a brutal marriage and the secret she's kept for years. For Zach Taylor, Hollywood's sexiest leading man, 'Manhattan' will represent a great personal opportunity. Zach is the paragon of professionalism, the epitome of the charming eligible bachelor - yet beyond his smooth good looks, his easygoing manner, and even with the charming warmth of Hollywood royalty - the man still remains an enigma.

For the young ingenue Gabrielle Smith, 'Manhattan' will represent the role of a lifetime - a stunning dream come true - if no one discovers who she really is. And for Bill Warwick, 'Manhattan' will ultimately become his lifeline. Plucked from the ranks of struggling actors, and propelled to national heartthrob status seemingly overnight, Bill's role in the show will become the key to a completely new life. Yet no one knows that he lied about one specific issue in his background; and when his secret is finally revealed, not only will Bill's future hang in the balance, but the success of the entire series may be jeopardized when he is forced to publicly confront the consequences of his little white lie.

'Manhattan' - it promises to be the hottest television series seen in years. The stars may share their secrets with millions, yet offstage they are just ordinary people with hopes and dreams; lives and loves. People who are every bit as real as the characters they play on television. And as the viewers watch the drama unfold on the small screen, they may never truly understand that the actors are the ones sharing their passion and pain in the performance of their lives.

In my opinion, this book was typical Danielle Steel fare. The story was very good and I must say downright addictive reading for me. Despite Danielle Steel's tendency toward a verbose writing style and her somewhat soap operatic storytelling, I still found Secrets to be immensely entertaining. I would give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Anita Shreve - The Weight of Water

Reread. The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve (1997)
Length: 263 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Originally Read: 6 August 2009
Reread Finished: 2 May 2015
Where did it come from? Originally from a Library Book Sale, then from my "keeper" shelf.

I first acquired this book during a Library Book Sale that Mareena and I went to in August of 2009. I read it for the first time in August of 2009. It actually only took me a day to read - from August 5th, to August 6th, 2009.

My reread took place in May of 2015. Actually it took me three days to read in total - from April 30th, to May 2nd, 2015. I'll certainly be reading this book at least one more time some time in the future.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, May 1, 2015

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 1,044 unread books lying around the house and ended the month with 1,037 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from Bookmooch.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

- Bed and Breakfast by Lois Battle
- Saving Face and Other Stories by Norah Lofts

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- The Road Taken: A Novel by Rona Jaffe
- Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
- Ghost Moon/The Empty Chair/Hawke's Cove/The Color of Hope by Karen Robards, Jeffery Deaver, Susan Wilson and Susan Madison
- Angell, Pearl and Little God by Winston Graham
Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- The Sleeping Partner by Winston Graham
- The Grove of Eagles by Winston Graham

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Future Shock by Alvin Toffler
- Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon
The Sky is Falling: A Novel by Sidney Sheldon
- Reader's Digest Condensed Books - Best Sellers 1989: The Negotiator/Gracie: A Love Story by Frederick Forsyth and George Burns
- Low Country by Anne Rivers Siddons
- Addison House by Clare McNally
- Remembered Laughter: The Life of Noel Coward by Cole Lesley

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

Books Read: 7
Pages Read: 2,397
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