Monday, March 31, 2014

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


Ashenden: A Novel by Elizabeth Wilhide
Published as: Ashenden in June 2012
Publisher: Penguin




Birth Name: Elizabeth Wilhide
Born: in United States

Canonical Name: Elizabeth Wilhide
Pseudonyms: None

Ashenden: A Novel by Elizabeth Wilhide was the twenty-eighth book that I read in 2014. I have had this book on my TBR shelf since January 1, 2014 and it took me three days to read. This book is a definite keeper for me!

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elizabeth Wilhide - Ashenden: A Novel

28. Ashenden: A Novel by Elizabeth Wilhide (2012)
Length: 339 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 26 March 2014
Finished: 29 March 2014
Where did it come from? From Barnes and Noble
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 January 2014
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Elizabeth Wilhide is a new author for me. Technically, Mareena bought this for herself when we went to Barnes and Noble - although she said she also bought it for me since she knows how much I enjoy reading books about houses.  

When brother and sister Charlie and Ros learn that they have inherited their aunt's palatial English country house, they must decide whether to keep it or sell it. Ashenden has been in their family since the eighteenth century and is steeped in family history. As the siblings survey the effects of time on the estate's architectural treasures, a beguiling narrative spanning two and a half centuries unfolds.

We meet those who built the house, lived in it and loved it, worked in it, and those who would subvert it to their own ends. The walls of Ashenden echo with the lives of the architect who directs the building of the house in 1775; the wealthy and affluent Henderson family in their heyday; the maid who is tempted to solve her problems by stealing a trinket; the Jazz Age speculator who hosts a fabulous treasure hunt; the prisoners held there during World War II; and the young couple who lovingly restore it in the 1950's.

Each chapter is skillfully woven into the others so that the storylines of the upstairs and downstairs characters and their relatives and descendants intertwine to create a richly beautiful tapestry, full of humor, heart, and poignancy.

I absolutely loved this book. It was the type of story that I didn't want to end. I have always loved stories about houses and their histories; and this book was no exception. Elizabeth Wilhide is a new author for me and this is her debut novel, although she has written many, many books on interior design. I give this book an A+!      

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Anne Tyler - A Slipping-Down Life

27. A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler (1969)
Length: 186 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 24 March 2014
Finished: 25 March 2014
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 February 2014
Why do I have it?  I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Evie Decker is 17-years-old - a painfully shy, slightly plump teenager whose mother died in childbirth, and she lives with her father. All in all, Evie's life is terribly lonely - until she hears the voice of 'Drumstrings' Casey on the radio. She is completely captivated and is resolute in her desire to eventually meet him. With her only friend, Violet, she discovers where Drumstrings is singing next and goes to see his show.

It is while she is attending Drumstrings' shows, that Evie truly bursts out of her lonely shell - once and for all - and comes under the intense scrutiny of the one man who at first seemed so intangible to her. In the space of time that it takes Evie to commit a single drastic act, her life is irrevocably changed. And she will never be the same again.

In my opinion, this book was really quite good, and I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting. It was a fast read for me - and while the plot was certainly quirky - I still found that the characters were well-crafted and extremely likable. Overall, I give A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler a definite A! 

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Daphne du Maurier - The Scapegoat: Reader's Digest Condensed Books, Volume 2

26. Reader's Digest Condensed Books, Volume 2: The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier (1957)
The Reader's Digest Condensed Books Series Volume 2: 1957 - (The Scapegoat/The Last Angry Man/The Muses Are Heard/The Fruit Tramp/The Enemy Below)
Length: 148 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 19 March 2014
Finished: 24 March 2014
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 March 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past. I also love to read Reader's Digest Condensed Books from time to time.

"Someone jolted my elbow as I drank and said, 'Je vous demande pardon,' and as I moved to give him space he turned and stared at me and I at him, and I realized, with a strange sense of shock and fear and nausea all combined, that his face and voice were known to me too well.

I was looking at myself."


Totally by chance, two men - one English, one French - meet in a provincial railway station. Their physical resemblance to each other is truly uncanny, and they spend the evening talking and drinking - until at last John, the Englishman, falls into a drunken stupor. When he awakens the next morning, he discovers that his mysterious French companion is gone, having stolen his identity. 

John is completely at a loss, and so, has no other choice but to take the Frenchman's place. He becomes Jean - the master of a chateau, owner of a failing business, head of a large and bitterly fractious family, and keeper of too many secrets. 

Suspenseful and gripping, The Scapegoat tells the story of John's attempts to evade the suspicion of the family, the servants, and the various mistresses of his doppelganger; even as he tries to unravel the frustrating mystery of the enigmatic person who dominates all who live in the chateau.

First of all, let me say right away that this story was very well-written. Daphne du Maurier is nothing if not a captivating author. That being said, in my own opinion, this wasn't necessarily Ms. Du Maurier's best work. I found that the story, while certainly enjoyable, was still rather far-fetched in places. I also found the plot slightly frustrating - although, I would still give The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier a very strong A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Anne Tyler - Earthly Possessions

25. Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler (1977)
Length: 223 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 13 March 2014
Finished: 19 March 2014
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 February 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

At thirty-five years old, Charlotte Emory has always lived a quiet, conventional life in Clarion, Maryland. She lives as simply as possible, but being a pastor's wife, especially when she isn't all that religious herself, is particularly hard on her. Her husband Saul, is a man who truly lives his faith, opening his doors to the downtrodden and those most in need; but for Charlotte, her life has become extremely unhappy.

Seeking to simplify everything, Charlotte decides one day to leave her husband. However, her last trip to the bank turns Charlotte's life in an entirely different direction when the bank is robbed. A restless young man in a nylon jacket takes her hostage - and soon the two are heading to Florida, into an unknown future, and a most unexpected fate.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was a very quick read, and the story gripped me right from the start. It was interesting for me to learn about Charlotte's past, and I truly wanted to know what would happen next. I give Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler a definite A+! and will certainly keep my eyes open for more books by this author.

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Monday, March 17, 2014

Have a Blessed and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

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I hope that everyone; old and new friends, online and offline friends, and family from all over, have a wonderful and much blessed St. Patrick's Day. I am truly honored and blessed to have you all in my life! :)

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Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, March 15, 2014

So, 'Puzzle Mania' Has Struck 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 my week, since I haven't posted a book review in the past couple of days. Since Saturday, March 15th - and a short bout yesterday - I've been doing puzzles! :) Mainly jigsaw puzzles - although I'm alternating between jigsaws, sudoku, and crosswords as well.

I've done at least two jigsaw puzzles that I've had in my collection since last Christmas! Oh, my goodness. ;) Also, Mareena and I got engrossed in watching a movie that just came on television: 'The Conspirator' with Robin Wright and James McAvoy. The movie is about the trial of Mary Surratt - the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. Robin Wright played the role of Mary Surratt and James McAvoy played the role of Fredrick Aiken - her reluctant lawyer who is trying to save her life.

I'm currently reading Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler, and so far it's really good! I started reading this book on Thursday afternoon, March 13th! :)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mary Westmacott - The Rose and the Yew Tree

24. The Rose and the Yew Tree by Mary Westmacott (1947)
Length: 189 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 9 March 2014
Finished: 13 March 2014
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 November 2013
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and haven't read any books by Agatha Christie that she wrote under her pseudonym of Mary Westmacott. This book is actually one of Mareena's, but she let me borrow it since I was looking for something short and quick to read.

Everyone expected that Isabella Charteris - beautiful, aristocratic, and privileged - would marry her cousin Rupert when he returned from the War. After all, theirs would have been a most suitable marriage between the serene heiress of Castle St. Loo and her gallant knight. 

That was until the enigmatic John Gabriel entered Isabella's life. He was a decorated war hero and a vulgar opportunist. That he should appear in her life at all told Isabella everything she needed to know about the final chaos of war. 

For Isabella, the price of love meant abandoning a dream forever. For Gabriel, it would destroy the only chance ambition would ever offer. What drew them together was something deeper than love.

I must say - while I enjoyed reading this book for the most part - there was a certain implausibility to the plot that I couldn't quite understand. Even now, I can't put my finger on exactly what bothers me about the book. Perhaps the mystery was slightly more intricate than I was expecting for such a short book. Anyway, I give The Rose and the Yew Tree by Mary Westmacott a definite A!      

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rona Jaffe - Class Reunion

23. Class Reunion by Rona Jaffe (1979)
Length: 445 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 4 March 2014
Finished: 8 March 2014
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 have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

There are just some friendships and some people you can never forget - even after so many decades. So it was for the Class of 1954 - they went to Radcliffe, and to Harvard in the '50s. It was their golden chance to win everything they ever wanted and to live happily ever after...

There was spirited Annabel; romantic Chris; Emily, the perfectionist and the golden girl, Daphne. These four women's friendships - and the relationships that they have with the men who touch their lives - are intertwined, and shaped by their time spent together in college - when they had such wonderful dreams of becoming wives, mothers, career women and lovers. Over the next three decades, in a journey that is at times hilarious and heartwarming - but also poignant and sentimental, these women's lives are changed by events that no one could have foreseen.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. For me, the plot evoked similar memories from my own college experience and how much I enjoyed it. I give this book an A+! I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for more books by Rona Jaffe to read in the future.

A+! - (96-100%)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Daphne du Maurier - My Cousin Rachel

Reread. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (1951)
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Originally Read: 12 September 2009
Re-read Finished: 3 March 2014
Where did it come from? Originally from Paperback Swap

I first read this book from September 10th, 2009 to September 12th, 2009, and it took me two days to read - my reread of this book happened from March 1st, to March 3rd, 2014. Rereading this book was a like a totally new experience for me and it is a definite keeper for me!

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cahal Dunne - Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma: A Salty Tale of a Young Man's Musical Dreams and Struggles in 1970's Ireland

21. Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma: A Salty Tale of a Young Man's Musical Dreams and Struggles in 1970's Ireland by Cahal Dunne (2012)
Length: 345 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 27 February 2014
Finished: 1 March 2014
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Cahal Dunne for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 27 February 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and since Cahal Dunne is an Irish singer/songwriter whose music I play frequently on 'Proud to be Irish' - when I learned he'd recently written his debut novel, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma: A Salty Tale of a Young Man's Musical Dreams and Struggles in 1970's Ireland follows the hilarious exploits of a young man from Cork City as he struggles to make it big in recessionary Ireland, and amid "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. It is the salty tale of one Billy Golden - from his formative years as a choir director, music teacher, and showband musician, to influential Celtic rocker, Eurovision-acclaimed songwriter, and US-based solo performer since 1983.

Through a series of heartwarming vignettes, Cahal Dunne - himself a very popular Irish singer, musician, and entertainer - imbues the characters of Billy and his bandmates with a certain vibrancy and a charming innocence that radiates from the page. The musicians and their girlfriends, various love affairs and relationships, broken hearts and mended hearts; the highs and lows of a life spent 'on the road' and in show-business, and all the adventures and misadventures that such a vocation may entail - is written about with a humor, poignancy, and realness that only a fellow Irishman passionate about his own chosen career can express.

I have to say that I found this book compulsively readable. I read it in two days and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is certainly a salty tale, no doubt about that, but there is also a thread of seriousness running through the story that I appreciated. The historical aspects of the book are just detailed enough, and don't come across as in any way dull or uninteresting - the excitement and pure delight that comes from reaching for a dream and achieving it, shines through from the very beginning. I give Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma: A Salty Tale of a Young Man's Musical Dreams and Struggles in 1970's Ireland by Cahal Dunne a definite A+! 

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Reading Wrap-up For February 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 February with 860 unread books lying around the house and ended the month with 853 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from Bookmooch and Paperback Swap

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Rereads
- The Miracle at St. Bruno's by Philippa Carr

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
Time is a River: A Novel by Mary Alice Monroe
Lost Souls by Michael Collins
- The Affair: A Novel by Alicia Clifford 
- Love Kills: The Stalking of Diane Newton King by Andy Hoffman
- Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller by Margaret Forster

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- The Beauty of Friendship by Kahlil Gibran 
- The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler
- A Slipping Down Life by Anne Tyler
- Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler
- The Romanov Legacy by Jenni Wiltz
- Evacuated!: Living on Indonesia's Most Active Volcano by Kate Benzin and Rudy Tanjung
- Thin Wire: A Mother's Journey Through Her Daughter's Heroin Addiction by Christine Lewry
- Organize!: The Secrets to a Spotless Life by Ben Night
- Snow Day: A Novella by Dan Maurer
- Night Whispers: A Story of Evil by Emmett Clifford
- Death Benefit: A Lawyer Uncovers a 20-Year Pattern of Seduction, Arson and Murder by David Heilbroner
Put Yer Rosary Beads Away Ma: A Salty Tale of a Young Man's Musical Dreams and Struggles in 1970's Ireland by Cahal Dunne

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :)) 
- Belonging by Nancy Thayer
- Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
- The Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice
- Cruel Sacrifice by Aphrodite Jones
- A Matter of Honour by Jeffrey Archer
- Breach of Duty by J. A. Jance
- Heritage of the River by Muriel Elwood
- Claudine's Daughter by Rosalind Laker
- The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It by David Niven, Ph.D.
- The Right Hand of Evil by John Saul
- Wifey by Judy Blume
- City of Bones by Michael Connelly
Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau
- In the Presence of Enemies by William Jeremiah Coughlin

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: 2,510
Grade Range: A+! to A! 

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