Monday, June 30, 2014

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


The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Published as: The White Queen in August 2009
Publisher: Touchstone



Birth Name: Philippa Gregory
Born: 9 January 1954 in Nairobi, Kenya

Canonical Name: Philippa Gregory
Pseudonyms: None


The White Queen by Philippa Gregory was the sixty-fourth book that I read in 2014. I have had this book on my TBR shelf since January 29, 2010 and it took me four days to read this book. This book is a definite keeper for me.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Philippa Gregory - The White Queen

64. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (2009)
The Cousins' War Series Book 1
Length: 411 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 26 June 2014
Finished: 30 June 2014
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 29 January 2010
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Philippa Gregory is a new author for me.

This first book in a stunning new series - The Cousins' War - chronicles the lives of women set during the Wars of the Roses. Elizabeth Woodville, a common woman who catches the eye of the newly crowned 19-year-old King Edward IV, marries him secretly and so ascends to the throne of England. As a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, Elizabeth fights tenaciously for the success of her family from her exalted position as the White Queen - from the House of York.

Yet, as brother turns on brother in the war for the throne of England, Elizabeth's two sons are caught in the middle - the central figures in a mystery that spans five centuries, and still manages to confound historians. The Princes in the Tower of London, whose ultimate fate after their disappearance in 1483, remains unclear to this day.

This was actually my favorite book of the month. The plot was just intellectually stimulating enough to keep my interest engaged until the very end. This is definitely an A+! book, and while it is the first book that I've read by this particular author it most certainly will not be my last.

A+! - (96-100%)    

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Agatha Christie - The Under Dog and Other Stories

63. The Under Dog and Other Stories by Agatha Christie (1951)
The Hercule Poirot Series Book 28.5
Length: 192 pages
Genre: Short Stories
Started: 24 June 2014
Finished: 26 June 2014
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 short stories and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past. I'm not entirely sure who acquired this book for their TBR pile first, but over the years it has somehow migrated into Mareena's room. I was looking for something to read several nights ago, and I asked her if I could read it.

The synopsis on the back cover of this book declares that the nine short stories contained within are Hercule Poirot's "Nasty Nine". Agatha Christie's sophisticated Belgian sleuth matches wits against nine of the worst criminals in order to solve these most baffling mysteries. A dead heiress on a train, a murdered recluse, and a wealthy playboy slain at a costume ball are only a few of the unfortunate victims of the confounding crimes committed in the pages of Ms. Christie's The Under Dog and Other Stories, a superior collection of short mystery fiction all featuring Hercule Poirot as the investigator.

The reader is invited to accompany Agatha Christie's most famous detective creation on a twisting trail of baffling mystery, shattering violence and delectable deduction as once again Hercule Poirot proves that his magnificent mind is mightier than the swiftest, stealthiest hand of a murderer. Here is Monsieur Poirot at the peak of his powers. Here is Agatha Christie at her spellbinding best.

I thought that this book was vintage Agatha Christie - these were nine of perhaps the most intriguing, most perplexing, yet highly entertaining mysteries that I've read in quite a while. I do enjoy Agatha Christie's writing style, but will say that as with many of her stories, I had trouble concluding "who done it." I give The Under Dog and Other Stories by Agatha Christie an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Luanne Rice - Dream Country

62. Dream Country by Luanne Rice (2001)
Length: 504 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 18 June 2014
Finished: 22 June 2014
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 have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Many years ago, having just gotten out of college, jewelry maker Daisy Tucker had traveled to the wilderness of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming in search of inspiration to fuel her art. What she had found was rancher James Tucker, a man with the wilderness inside him. Their life together was as close to paradise as a family could get - until the day their three-year-old son Jake disappeared without a trace. Her heart broken, her marriage in tatters, Daisy returned to Connecticut with Jake's twin sister, Sage.

It was just a typical argument, one of hundreds that Daisy had had with her teenage daughter, Sage, over the years. However, this particular argument had ended differently, with Sage gone from their Connecticut home in the morning, leaving behind only a brief note: "I have to go." Daisy tried to stay calm; she tried not to overreact; tried to remind herself that this situation was completely different from what had happened thirteen years earlier to Jake. Yes, this was an entirely different situation from a little boy disappearing into the canyons of Wyoming, never to be found. Sage was sixteen years old and resourceful. She would be found.

As Daisy returns to the Tucker ranch to wait and pray for Sage's safe arrival, what she can't know is that Sage has undertaken a dangerous cross-country pilgrimage to find her father. Desperate to find her daughter, Daisy will return to Wyoming, to the place that once took everything she had. She will also learn that you can never close the door on the past, but sometimes, if you step through it, it can lead you home...

I found this book to be quite engrossing - filled with lots of intertwined story lines and endearing characters. At 504 pages, I would classify this book as a modern-day family saga; definite summer reading for anyone who likes to read books about families. I give Dream Country by Luanne Rice an A! and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lois Paxton - The Man Who Died Twice

61. The Man Who Died Twice by Lois Paxton (1968)
Length: 159 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 17 June 2014
Finished: 18 June 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 mysteries and Lois Paxton is a new author for me.

Shortly after her beloved husband is killed in car crash, Charlotte Mason begins to realize that someone is trying to kill her. Since she is unable to go to the police, Charlotte turns to the only two men who she believes can help her: Martin, the taciturn accountant who handled Harry Mason's business affairs, and Philip, the pleasant young man who lives upstairs.

While neither man trusted the other, Charlotte trusted both of them - until something happened that led her to suspect that one of them might be a cold-blooded killer. The question was, which one? And why?

Lois Paxton is actually one of three pseudonyms that Lois Dorothea Low (née Pilkington), wrote under. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1916. She worked briefly in insurance and then became a literary agent. She was also a fairly prolific novelist who wrote for a period of 21 years, from 1962 to 1983. Ms. Paxton is technically classified as a romance novelist; although I prefer to call her a Gothic romance novelist.

According to her bibliography, Lois Dorothea Low began her writing career in 1962 with Isle For a Stranger, written under the pseudonym Dorothy Mackie Low - she wrote a total of seven novels under that particular name; under the pseudonym Lois Paxton, she wrote four books starting in 1968 with The Man Who Died Twice. As Zoë Cass, she wrote three books starting with Island of the Seven Hills in 1974. In 1983, she contributed to the Woman's Weekly Fiction Series Omnibus Vol. 6 No 3, along with fellow authors Juliet Armstrong, Margaret Redfern and Briony Tedgle.

She actually was elected the fifth Chairman of the Romance Novelists' Association from 1969 to 1971; as well as a former Vice President of the organization. She died on 8 November 2002. She was 86 years old.

I must say that I enjoyed reading The Man Who Died Twice by Lois Paxton - actually much more than I expected that I would. I'm certain that the writing style would be considered rather dated these days, but overall, I still liked it. I never actually lived in London, but visited there quite often when I was younger, so many of the places mentioned were familiar to me. I haven't read that many books by Lois Paxton in the past, but I do have at least one more book by this author, hidden away on my bookshelf. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lois Duncan - Who Killed my Daughter?

60. Who Killed my Daughter? by Lois Duncan (1992)
Length: 354 pages
Genre: True Crime
Started: 13 June 2014
Finished: 17 June 2014
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 May 2014
Why do I have it? I like true crime and Lois Duncan is a new author for me.

With a promise to see her family later, eighteen-year-old Kaitlyn Arquette rushed out the door into the balmy midsummer evening. Little did Kaitlyn's mother, Lois Duncan realize that those were the last words she would ever hear her daughter speak. On July 16, 1989, Kaitlyn was shot to death as she drove home from a friend's house along a deserted strip of New Mexico highway. The police concluded that it was a random shooting - even though it showed all the earmarks of a professional hit...

Kaitlyn's brutal murder left her family broken-hearted and grieving, and her mother pondering a thousand unanswered questions. Who would put out a contract on a beautiful young honor student? Was it grief that made Kaitlyn's Vietnamese lover try to take his own life? - Or was it not an attempted suicide at all?

Lois Duncan's search for answers would eventually lead her into the seamy underworld of Vietnamese gangs that stretched across three states. It would lead her to an extraordinary psychic and to a courageous journalist determined to expose the devastating truth. And it would send her on a soul-numbing odyssey into Kaitlyn's shocking double life as she desperately sought justice for the daughter she would always love...even in the face of shattering betrayal and threats to her own life.

Today, Lois Duncan's search for her daughter's killer continues. She will never give up. The best-selling young adult novelist has made finding her daughter's killer her life's mission. After all, a mother's blood vow to her deceased daughter is paramount.

I thought this was a truly heartrending book. I completely sympathized with Ms. Duncan's burning desire to discover the entire devastating truth behind her daughter's still unsolved murder. As an author of young adult suspense novels, Ms. Duncan proves that sometimes the most terrifying and suspenseful events are the ones that actually happen.

Understandably, this was perhaps the most difficult book for Lois Duncan to write, because this is a story that involves herself and her family. Her relentless search for justice for Kaitlyn is a quality for which I admire her greatly. I was certainly aware that Ms. Duncan was an author of young adult novels (Mareena read quite a lot of her novels while she was in high school), but I never realized that her youngest daughter was actually murdered, and that Kaitlyn Arquette's murder was still unsolved to this day.

Despite feeling tremendous sympathy for Lois Duncan and her family for their daughter's murder, I must also admit to feeling slightly angry at Kaitlyn herself. She was eighteen-years-old and got involved in an impossibly dangerous situation - one that ultimately cost her her life. While it is certainly true that young people will do anything for love - and teenagers can and do make mistakes - what Kaitlyn did subsequently endangered her entire family.

This book was certainly well-wriitten, but it was so convoluted that I had trouble sorting out the plot of the murder. I give Who Killed my Daughter? by Lois Duncan an A!

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

Introducing Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash!

I was delighted to learn recently that two books by Michael Phillip Cash have recently won some more awards! Congratulations on such a great achievement, Mr. Cash - it is certainly well-deserved. I have had the pleasure of reading four of Mr. Cash's books, and my daughter Mareena is currently reading his fourth award winner - Schism: The Battle For Darracia. For the next two Fridays, I will be highlighting both of Mr. Cash's award-winning books - and once again, I wish him my heartiest congratulations on a second such wonderful achievement!

I had the pleasure of reading Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash back in July of 2013, and must admit that this is still my favorite book by this author. Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash was a Finalist for the Foreword Review's Book of the Year Award of 2013 in the Horror Category, and also received an Honorable Mention for the Rebecca's Reads Readers Choice Awards of 2013 in the General Fiction Category.

I just recently discovered that Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Thriller Category. The National Association of Book Entrepreneurs - also known as NABE - released their list of Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winners for Spring 2014 in April of this year. Congratulations once again, Mr. Cash - this is such a tremendous achievement!

Meet Michael Phillip Cash

Michael Phillip Cash is an award winning and best selling author of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels. Stillwell: A Haunting on Long IslandThe Hanging Tree, and Schism: The Battle For Darracia have all been named to Foreword Review's Book of the Year Awards. Michael currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.

Connect and Socialize with Michael!


Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash (2013)
Length: 232 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon!

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island Blurb: 

Paul Russo’s wife just died. While trying to get his family’s life back in order, Paul is being tormented by a demon who is holding his wife's spirit hostage on the other side. His fate is intertwined with an old haunted mansion on the north shore of Long Island called Stillwell Manor. Paul must find clues dating back hundreds of years to set his wife's soul free.

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island Book Trailer: 




Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Rite Movie Review

The Rite: Teaser poster Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue and Alice Braga, PG-13, Released on January 28, 2011 in the United States and Canada, and on February 25, 2011 in the United Kingdom.
The Rite: The Making of
a Modern Exorcist 
by Matt Baglio
(hardcover)
The 2011 movie, The Rite, is actually loosely based on journalist Matt Baglio's 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. The book is itself based on real events which were witnessed and recounted by an American priest, Father Gary Thomas - who in 2005, was sent on sabbatical to Rome to become an exorcist-in-training - in order to learn and work daily with veteran exorcists within the clergy.

Fr. Thomas is a priest at the Sacred Heart Parish Church in Saratoga, California, and is also the mandated exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose. He estimates that there are somewhere between 25-50 practicing exorcists in the United States as of February, 2011. Ideally, there should an exorcist attached to every diocese in America - which would mean that the actual number of exorcists should be nearly 200. According to what I learned from watching The Rite, there are currently 14 practicing exorcists in the United States.

Since our DVD player is up and running again, we have accumulated a number of DVDs that we want to watch. Something that we noticed just as we started to watch The Rite, was that Ciarán Hinds, who was also in The Woman in Black, was in this movie as well. He played Father Xavier, a friend of Father Lucas' and Michael Kovak's teacher in the exorcism lecture; who sends him on to receive further instruction with Fr. Trevant. We didn't plan to watch this movie because Ciarán Hinds was in it, but it certainly was an interesting surprise for both of us.

Anyway, we started watching the movie at about 10:30 P.M. on Thursday night - or perhaps it was closer to 10: 45 P. M. In any event, by about 12:30 A. M. or so, the movie was finished and we went directly to bed.

The Rite: The Making of
a Modern Exorcist
by Matt Baglio (paperback)
I haven't actually read The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio, although as soon as we finished watching the movie, Mareena started searching for the book. So far, she hasn't found a copy, but has the title on two of the Wish Lists from the several swapping sites that we belong to. I certainly look forward to reading Mr. Baglio's book some time very soon. As Fr. Thomas says: "The book is all true. There is nothing in that book that is not true."

The Rite was released in January of 2011, and is rated PG-13. It is a horror movie that runs approximately 113 minutes. The film stars Anthony Hopkins (as Father Lucas Trevant), Colin O'Donoghue (as Michael Kovak) and Alice Braga (as Angeline Vargas). This film was directed by Mikael Håfström, and was produced by Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson.

Who Plays Father Lucas Trevant - (The Real Capuchin Father Carmine De Filippis)

Anthony Hopkins is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television; who is also known as a composer and a painter. He was born in Port Talbot, Glamorgan, Wales to parents of half Welsh and half English extraction. His father was a baker, and the young boy much preferred immersing himself in art - such as painting and drawing, or playing the piano - to attending school and doing his schoolwork. In 1949, in order to instill discipline in their son, his parents insisted that he attend Jones' West Monmouth Boys' School in Pontypool, Wales where he remained for five terms. From there, young Phillip Anthony was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.

Anthony Hopkins was influenced and encouraged to become an actor by Richard Burton (who was himself born in Port Talbot) and who Mr. Hopkins briefly met when he was fifteen years old. With an eye toward his future career, Anthony Hopkins enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, from which he graduated in 1957. After serving the mandatory two years conscription in the British Army, (also known as National Service) Mr. Hopkins moved to London, where he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

In 1960, he made his professional stage debut at the Palace Theatre, Swansea in the Swansea Little Theatre's production of Have a Cigarette. After spending several years with repertory theater, he was discovered by Sir Laurence Olivier and invited to join the Royal National Theatre in 1965. He soon became Sir Laurence's understudy, and filled in for him when Sir Laurence was struck with appendicitis during a production of August Strindberg's The Dance of Death.

Despite his success at the National, Mr. Hopkins soon tired of repeating the same roles nightly and yearned to be in films. In 1967, he made his small-screen television debut in the BBC broadcast of Georges Feydeau's play A Flea in Her Ear. Although he continued in theatre (most notably at the National Theatre), Mr. Hopkins gradually moved away from it to become more established as a film and television actor. In 1968, he made his movie debut in A Lion in Winter, playing Richard I along with Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Timothy Dalton.

From that moment on, Mr. Hopkins experienced many successes and his remarkable acting career reached its pinnacle. Considered to be one of the greatest living actors, Mr. Hopkins is well-known for his portrayal of the charming serial-killing sociopath, Hannibal Lecter, in the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs, a role for which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. He reprised his role as Hannibal Lecter for the movie's 2001 sequel Hannibal, and the prequel Red Dragon in 2002. Mr. Hopkins' other notable film credits include: The Mask of Zorro; The Bounty; Meet Joe Black; The Elephant Man; Magic; 84 Charing Cross Road; Bram Stoker's Dracula; Legends of the Fall; Thor; The Remains of the Day; Amistad; Nixon; The World's Fastest Indian; Instinct and Fracture.

Mr. Hopkins has also won many awards and accolades as well. Along with his Academy Award, he has also won three BAFTA Awards (the British counterpart to the Academy Awards), two Emmy Awards and the Cecil B. DeMille Award. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 for his services to the arts; he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003; and was made a fellow of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2008.

Anthony Hopkins has been married a total of three times, first to actress Petronella Barker in 1966 - with whom he has one daughter named Abigail - who is also an actress, a singer/songwriter, and a theatre director. Mr. Hopkins divorced his first wife in 1972.

He went on to marry Jennifer Lynton in 1973, and was married to her for 29 years. He has confessed that his obsession with becoming an American citizen led to the break-up of his second marriage. He is quoted by Britain's The Sun newspaper as saying: "She (Jennifer Lynton) is British through and through, and was annoyed whenever I spoke of my dream to become an American. It was a major factor in our break-up. There is still a love for life in the US that I've never found anywhere else."

He married his third wife - Colombian-born actress and director, Stella Arroyave - in 2003. Stella was originally an antiques dealer when Anthony Hopkins met her, although she has since transitioned into film. Despite being married in a secluded ceremony at his cliff-top mansion in Malibu, Anthony Hopkins paid tribute to his Welsh roots by marrying on St. David's Day (March 1st) which celebrates the patron saint of Wales. At the wedding he wore the country's national flower, a daffodil, in his buttonhole, and the spring flower also decked out the wedding marquee and made up the bridal bouquet.

Anthony Hopkins had moved to the United States once before during the 1970s in order to pursue his film career, but returned to London in the late 1980s. However, he decided to return to the United States following his success in the 1990s. Retaining his British citizenship, he became a naturalized US citizen on April 12, 2000, and celebrated with a 3,000-mile road trip across the country. As of 2007, Anthony Hopkins resides in Los Angeles.

Who Plays Michael Kovak - (The Real Father Gary Thomas)

Colin O'Donoghue is an Irish actor and musician who was born and raised in Drogheda, County Louth. He initially attended Dundalk Grammar School and then The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin; although at age 16, Colin went to Paris for a month to learn French.

He began acting in 2001, in the British television miniseries 'Rebel Heart' - starring James D'Arcy. Colin played Rowe in the first episode of the miniseries. In 2002, Colin played Norman Quested in the television movie 'Home For Christmas' - a role for which he won an Irish Film and Television Award For Best New Talent.

His early career was mainly split between theatre and television work in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 2009, he appeared as Duke Phillip of Bavaria in an episode of season 3 of the Showtime series 'The Tudors'. Colin actually made his Hollywood movie debut alongside Anthony Hopkins in the 2011 movie The Rite. He had made his audition video for The Rite in a friend's home studio in Drogheda and sent it to the United States.

In 2012, Colin O'Donoghue joined the second season of the hit ABC series 'Once Upon a Time' when he was cast as Captain Hook/Killian Jones. His role originally started as a supporting character, until it was announced that Colin would be billed as a series regular beginning in the second half of the second season.

He also plays guitar and sings in a five-piece band from the east coast of Ireland. In 2003, he and a close friend Ronan McQuillan, formed the pop/rock band The Enemies - and they released their self-titled debut album in 2011. In May of 2013, he announced that he was leaving the band due to the filming schedule of 'Once Upon a Time'.

Despite his success outside of Ireland, Colin has no plans to relocate to either Los Angeles or Vancouver, Canada where he is currently shooting 'Once Upon a Time'. He explained, “You don’t know what circumstances are going to come up, so it’s tough to make a decision like that and move somewhere for two or three years. . .Whatever happens, Drogheda will always be my home because it is where my friends and family are.” Colin is married to Helen O'Donoghue, and on August 1, 2013 the couple's son, Evan was born.


Who Plays Angeline Vargas - (The Real Matt Baglio)

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Alice Braga's exposure to the world of acting began at a young age. Both her mother, Ana Braga, and aunt, Sônia Braga, are actresses; and young Alice would often accompany them to film sets. She began her own acting career by appearing in commercials and school plays. Her first commercial was for yogurt when she was eight years old. As a teenager she began pursuing roles in television and movies. She speaks fluent Portuguese, Spanish and English.

In 1998, Alice debuted in the Portuguese-language short Trampolim, and then returned to her schooling. Her big break came in 2002, when she was cast as Angélica in the critically acclaimed film City of God - for which she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize. Alice took some more time off and attended university while appearing in two well-regarded South American films - 2005's Lower City and 2006's Only God Knows - and the popular Brazilian television show 'Carandiru, Outras Historias'.

Alice Braga made her English-language movie debut in 2006, in a starring role alongside Brendan Fraser, Mos Def and Catalina Sandino Moreno in the independent film Journey to the End of Night - which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2007, she was cast in the Will Smith blockbuster I Am Legend. Alice Braga was also cast in the 2009 independent film Crossing Over - alongside Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd; and was in the David Mamet film Redbelt in 2008 as well.

In 2010, Alice starred in the science-fiction films Repo Men and Predators; in 2013, she starred as Frey Santiago in the dystopian science fiction thriller Elysium. She is the sister of the actress and producer, Rita Moraes and the cousin of the director, Daniela Braga. Her nickname is Lili and she is an Aries.

My Review of the Movie Adaptation of Matt Baglio's The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist:

To be perfectly honest, I've never actually read Matt Baglio's book - at least not yet, anyway; although I certainly have my eyes open to see whether I can obtain a copy very soon. According to Fr. Gary Thomas, around whom The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist is loosely based, "The book is all true. There is nothing in that book that is not true."

The Catholic Church does recognize demonic possession as real, and the Vatican does, in fact, offer classes on exorcism at its affiliated Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. As a matter of fact, Fr. Gary Thomas and Matt Baglio met during one such exorcism class. As the only two Americans in attendance in the class, the men quickly became friends.

Fr. Thomas actually did seek out several exorcists to apprentice with during his nine-month sabbatical in Rome; deciding that it was not only important to learn about exorcisms, but to experience them as well. To that end, Fr. Thomas sought out and was subsequently apprenticed with Capuchin Father Carmine De Filippis; the priest on whom Anthony Hopkins' character is based. During their time together, Fr. Thomas witnessed approximately 80 exorcisms.

As with Colin O'Donoghue's character in the movie, Fr. Thomas worked for a time in a funeral home. While attending a funeral as a teenager, Gary was approached by one of the owners and asked if he wanted to work there part time. At the age of 14, he accepted employment and began working odd jobs at the Nauman Lincoln Roos mortuary.

While Fr. Thomas wasn't always a man of the cloth, he has always considered it as a personal calling. After graduating from high school, he went on to study mortuary science in university and worked in the funeral home business until the age of 25 - when he enrolled at St. Patrick's Seminary. Five years years later he became an ordained Catholic priest. Unlike Colin O'Donoghue's character in the movie, Fr. Thomas never experienced a crisis of faith as a seminarian, and he was considerably older than Michael Kovak when he began his training in Rome (in his mid-50s).

According to Fr. Thomas, "A demon doesn't show up. He has to be invited in. The involvement in pagan, satanic, or occult practices are the classical ways." While somewhat less common, it is understood that others can invite them (demons) in without your participation, such as by cursing or having a past family member promise a child to the devil.

Although Fr. Thomas has never witnessed anyone vomit anything unusual during an exorcism - Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist, with more than 70,000 exorcisms to his name, and who was Fr. De Filippis' own mentor - has witnessed possessed people vomit numerous foreign objects: from black nails, to shards of glass and even radio equipment parts. Fr. Carmine De Filippis was present during an exorcism where the possessed woman vomited a live black frog.

I think that the actors were perfectly cast for the roles they played. Anthony Hopkins is renowned for his dedicated preparation for roles. He has stated in interviews, that once he is committed to a project, he will go over his lines as many times as is needed (sometimes upwards of 200) until the lines sound natural to him, so that he can "do it without thinking". This leads to an almost casual style of delivery that belies the amount of groundwork done beforehand.

This was especially evident in The Rite - in the scene where Michael Kovak returns to Fr. Lucas' home, and finds distinct evidence of demonic possession. When Michael asks Fr. Lucas if he's alright, the 'presence' claims that Fr. Lucas isn't in residence. Anthony Hopkins sounds so perfectly reasonable and rational during their subsequent conversation, that the scene is all the more frightening when the demon does eventually show itself.

The actress who played Rosaria - Marta Gastini - was 20 years old when she was cast in The Rite, and I think she was wonderful in the part. She was so innocent-looking, that sometimes I forgot that Rosaria was actually possessed - until she contorted her body or said something particularly vile.

Overall, I would give The Rite a definite A! and I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio as soon as possible.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Michael Phillip Cash - The Flip

59. The Flip by Michael Phillip Cash (2014)
Length: 391 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 11 June 2014
Finished: 12 June 2014
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Michael Phillip Cash and to Red Feather Publishing for sending me a copy of this book to read.  
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 11 June 2014
Why do I have it? I like horror and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Julie and Brad Evans flip houses for a living. They buy each house for a song, clean out the previous occupants' various abandoned items - things that can typically be classified as junk - and then they attempt to sell the houses for a profit. With the economy the way it is, business has been going relatively well for them - not necessarily tremendous, but certainly on a positive upswing. The couple just puts it down to the state of the housing market.

Their latest flip is Hemmings House; situated on Bedlam Street in scenic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. It's too good a deal to pass up, but the house comes with an ominous secret. Apparently, the ghostly previous occupants of this stately Victorian mansion do not wish to be dispossessed; and they're determined to cause any amount of bedlam among the living in order to stay right where they are. Will the Evans' new marriage survive their time spent inside Hemmings House?

It took me only a day and a half to read this book - and I absolutely appreciated that the story flowed along so easily. This is actually the fourth book that I've read by this author, and I must say that Michael Phillip Cash certainly knows how to create the proper atmosphere with his writing. The Flip has all the elements that I generally enjoy reading about - old houses, ominous secrets, ghosts, and a young couple with marriage troubles. Add in my latest interest; house flipping, and I'm hooked from page one. I give this book an A!

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Nancy Thayer - Nell

58. Nell by Nancy Thayer (1985)
Length: 330 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 2 June 2014
Finished: 11 June 2014
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 fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Nell St. John is not happy with the way her life is going - not by a long shot. She was once a glamorous young actress, married to an influential director, Marlow St. John. Together, they were the toast of the town, an A-list couple destined for fame.

But then Marlow's star fades and tensions at home begin to skyrocket. He soon takes up with another woman and abandons Nell, leaving her to pay the bills and raise their two boisterous young children by herself. Even a string of attractive suitors is not the answer to Nell's lack of fulfillment, but then, what is?

When she is offered a job working at a posh clothing boutique on Nantucket, Nell uproots her young family and moves to the island. Soon, her college age ex-stepdaughter Clary, who has her own romantic troubles, moves in with her. Clary and Nell quickly fall in love with island life and its much gentler pace, that they discover while living on Nantucket. Nell also captures the attention of an eccentric man about town.

And in that carefree, romantic summer of tender passion, Nell looks within and discovers so much more about herself than she ever dreamed possible.

This book was a great read for me. A gossipy, engaging beach read; definitely a woman's book if ever I've read one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It certainly wasn't your typical 'fluffy' romantic love story, but filled with multi-dimensional, well-developed characters that I connected with very deeply. I give this book an A+! and am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A+! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Friday, June 6, 2014

Introducing Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash!

I was delighted to learn recently that two books by Michael Phillip Cash have recently won some more awards! Congratulations on such a great achievement, Mr. Cash - it is certainly well-deserved. I have had the pleasure of reading four of Mr. Cash's books, and my daughter Mareena is currently reading his fourth award winner - Schism: The Battle For Darracia. For the next two Fridays, I will be highlighting both of Mr. Cash's award-winning books - and once again, I wish him my heartiest congratulations on such a wonderful achievement!

I had the pleasure of reading Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash back in August of 2013, and have to say, I will never look at cicadas in the same way again. Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash won First Place for the Readers Views Literary Awards of 2013 in the Mystery/Thriller/Horror/Suspense Category, and also received First Place for the Rebecca's Reads Readers Choice Awards of 2013 in the Mystery/Thriller Category.

I have just recently discovered that Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Horror Category. The National Association of Book Entrepreneurs - also known as NABE - released their list of Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winners for Spring 2014 in April of this year. Congratulations once again, Mr. Cash - this is such a tremendous achievement!

Meet Michael Phillip Cash

Michael Phillip Cash is an award winning and best selling author of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels. Stillwell: A Haunting on Long IslandThe Hanging Tree, and Schism: The Battle For Darracia have all been named to Foreword Review's Book of the Year Awards. Michael currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.

Connect and Socialize with Michael!


Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion by Michael Phillip Cash (2013)
Length: 308 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon!

Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion Blurb:

Seth is laid off from work. His wife Lara just found out they are expecting a baby this summer. Seth plans on documenting the entire pregnancy with his brand new digital camcorder.

During an evening home watching television, the news reports that a swarm of cicada (Brood Ten) are expected to overwhelm the entire Northeast. Brood Ten is vicious and ready to invade.


During a sweltering summer night, Brood Ten emerges and wreaks havoc with the electric grid, phone and cell service, wi-fi, food and water supply. Civilization as they know it is gone.

Seth and Lara are thrown back to the stone age in their own home with trillions of cicada trying to deposit their eggs and breed. 

Will Seth grow up and take responsibility for his family? Or will the devastating bugs destroy humanity?


Brood X: A Firsthand Account of the Great Cicada Invasion Book Trailer:


Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Woman in Black Movie Review

The Woman in Black: British theatrical release poster. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer and Liz White, PG-13, Released on February 3, 2012 in the United States and Canada, and on February 10, 2012 in the United Kingdom.
So, back in February of 2013, I read The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill - here is my review of the paperback. Mareena had downloaded this ebook for herself in January of 2012, although she then grabbed the paperback at a Library Book Sale that she and I went to in February of 2013. Mareena let me read this book first, and I started it immediately after we got home from our visit to the Library.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I actually picked it to be my Book of the Month for February. It only took me a day to read the book and I'm thinking of rereading this book sometime very soon.

Back in February of 2013 - actually six days after I finished reading the book, the DVD starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ciarán Hinds arrived in the mail. It has literally taken Mareena and I over a year to finally watch the movie! Our DVD player had somehow burned out, and since we don't watch DVDs all that frequently, we didn't know that we needed a new DVD player until we tried to play this DVD. :)

Mareena received a new television for her birthday, and while I had hoped to get our new DVD player hooked up to be able to watch The Woman in Black on her birthday - everything took just slightly longer than we expected it would. Anyway, we started watching the movie at about 10:30 P.M. on Tuesday night -or perhaps it was closer to 10: 45 P. M. By 1:00 A. M., the movie was over and we went directly to bed.

The Woman in Black was released in February of 2012, and is rated PG-13. It is a horror movie that runs approximately 95 minutes. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe (as Arthur Kipps), Ciarán Hinds (as Sam Daily), Janet McTeer (as Elisabeth Daily) and Liz White (as Jennet Humfrye). This film was directed by James Watkins, and was produced by Richard Jackson, Simon Oakes and Brian Oliver.

Who Plays Arthur Kipps - A Young Lawyer From London?

While he made his acting debut at age 10 in BBC One's 1999 television movie 'David Copperfield', followed by his film debut in 2001's The Tailor of Panama, Daniel Radcliffe rose to prominence playing the title character in the Harry Potter film series. At age 11, he was cast as Harry Potter in the first Harry Potter movie - 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He went on to star in the series over the next ten years until the release of the eighth and final film of the franchise - 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Daniel Radcliffe began to branch out into stage acting in 2007, starring in the London and New York productions of the play Equus, and in 2011's Broadway revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In 2008, he revealed that he suffers from a mild form of Developmental Coordination Disorder - also known as developmental dyspraxia or 'Clumsy Child Syndrome'. This disorder is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood, which can affect the planning of movements and motor skills coordination. This is as result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body. 

For Daniel Radcliffe, his Developmental Coordination Disorder causes such poor motor skills that he sometimes has trouble doing simple activities such as writing or tying his shoelaces. Many sufferers of this disorder have memory problems, typically resulting in difficulty remembering instructions, difficulty organizing one's time and remembering deadlines, increased propensity to lose things or problems carrying out tasks which require remembering several steps in sequence (such as cooking). Whilst most of the general population experience these problems to some extent, they have a much more significant impact on the lives of dyspraxic people.

Despite having poor short-term memories, many sufferers generally have excellent long-term memories. They benefit most from from working in a structured environment, as repeating the same routine minimizes the difficulty with time-management and allows them to commit procedures to long-term memory. Because sufferers sometimes have difficulty moderating the amount of sensory information that their body is constantly sending them, these people are also prone to panic attacks.

Many dyspraxics struggle to distinguish left from right, even as adults, and generally have an extremely poor sense of direction. Moderate to extreme difficulty doing physical tasks is experienced by some dyspraxics, and fatigue is common because so much extra energy is expended while trying to execute physical movements correctly. Some (but not all) dyspraxics suffer from low muscle tone - know as hypotonia - which like Developmental Coordination Disorder, can detrimentally affect balance.


Who Plays Sam Daily - a Local Landowner in the Village of Crythin Gifford?

Born and raised in North Belfast, Ciarán Hinds is the only son in a family of five children. His father was a doctor and his mother was a school teacher and an amateur actress. Ciarán was an Irish dancer in his youth, and was originally enrolled as a law student at Queen's University, Belfast, but was soon persuaded to pursue acting and abandoned his studies at Queen's to enroll at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. 

He began his professional acting career at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre in a 1976 production of Cinderella. While he remained a frequent performer at the Citizens' Theatre during the late 1970s and 1980s, Ciarán continues to act on stage up to the present. He made his feature film debut in John Boorman's 1981 movie Excalibur, and has since built a reputation as a versatile character actor appearing in such high-profile films as Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Munich, There Will be Blood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, The Woman in Black and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. His television roles include Gaius Julius Caesar in the series 'Rome', DCI James Langton in the series 'Above Suspicion', Bud Hammond in the series 'Political Animals' and Mance Rayder in the Emmy Award winning 'Game of Thrones'.

Ciarán Hinds lives in Paris with his long-time partner Hélène Patarot; they met in 1987 while in the cast of Peter Brook's production of The Mahabharata. The couple have a daughter named Aoife, born in 1991. Ciarán is also a close friend of fellow Irish actor Liam Neeson and served as a pallbearer at the funeral of Liam's wife, actress Natasha Richardson in upstate New York on March 22, 2009.

Who Plays Elisabeth Daily - Sam Daily's Wife?

Janet McTeer made her professional stage debut in 1984, and since then has won a Tony Award, an Olivier Award and a Drama Desk Award. In 1986, she was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Newcomer for The Grace of Mary Traverse, although she actually won a Tony Award and an Olivier Award for her role as Nora in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in 1997. She is also a two-time Academy Award nominee.

Janet McTeer has starred on television in the title role of Lynda La Plante's 'The Governor' from 1996 to 1997, has received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers - the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort of King Edward IV - in 'The White Queen' and starred opposite Glenn Close in the final season of the television show 'Damages'.

She made her film debut in 1986's Half Moon Street - based on a book by Paul Theroux called Doctor Slaughter. In 2009, she portrayed Clementine Churchill - the wife of Sir Winston Churchill - in the HBO movie, Into the Storm. This was the role for which she earned an Emmy Award nomination. Further film roles include: Hawks, Wuthering Heights, Carrington, Songcatcher and As You Like It. Janet McTeer also received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the 1999 movie Tumbleweeds and another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Hubert Page in the 2011 movie Albert Nobbs. She was appointed 'Officer of the Order of the British Empire' in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2008 for her Services to Drama.

Who Plays Jennet Humphrey - The Woman in Black?

Elizabeth 'Liz' White is perhaps best known for her role as WPC/WDC Annie Cartwright in the British version of the television series 'Life on Mars' - which was broadcast from 2006-2007. She also appeared in four episodes of the television series 'Teachers' which was broadcast in 2003. Her other prominent television roles include: Jess Mercer in six episodes of the British television series 'The Fixer' in 2008; and Caroline in BBC's 2011 adaptation of Michel Faber's 2002 novel The Crimson Petal and the White.

Liz White has also had increasing success in films; making her film debut in 2004's film short Ten Minute Movie. This was followed up with her appearances in Mike Leigh's 2004 movie Vera Drake and in the 2005 television movie Angell's Hell. She also played Laura in Gerald McMorrow's debut film Franklyn and Alice Kelly in the independent film New Town Killers in 2008. She was featured in the music video for Bush's final single Inflatable - off their fourth studio album, Golden State, which was released in 2001.

My Review of the Movie Adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story:

  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie adaptation of The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill. Something that I never realized was that the 2012 film starring Daniel Radcliffe, was actually a remake of a 1989 television drama adaptation of Susan Hill's novel. Nigel Kneale, who died in 2006, was the screen-writer of the 1989 television movie; and is perhaps best known for his creation of the fictional character Professor Bernard Quatermass - a heroic, intelligent, highly moral British scientist - and a pioneer of the British space programme, heading up the British Experimental Rocket Group. 

Well can I remember gathering round the television with my mother, brother and sister every Saturday night (my father would usually be out) - and the four of us would watch 'Quatermass'. To properly set the mood, my mother would make us all snacks, start a fire in our fireplace, and turn out out all the lights. I was never really all that interested in science fiction television shows as a child, but 'Quatermass' was definitely the exception! 

Anyway, the 2012 version of The Woman in Black was excellent; at least in my opinion. Daniel Radcliffe has certainly shed whatever remnants of Harry Potter that were left. While I noticed that there were some slight differences between the book and the movie, I thought that overall the movie turned out to be a very faithful adaptation of the book. The movie plot ultimately stayed as true to Susan Hill's book as possible, and I now have the strongest desire to reread The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill after seeing the movie. 

As I may have said before, I'm usually very wary of watching any movies that are based on books I've read. I find that so many movies turn out to be very poor adaptations of otherwise terrific books. However, this is not the case with The Woman in Black

Both the book and the movie are equally outstanding; I enjoyed the movie just as much, if not more, than the book. It was thrilling and gripping, and was absolutely worth the year-long wait that Mareena and I went through in order to watch this movie. I whole-heartedly give the movie adaptation of The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill an A+! 

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reading Wrap-up For May 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 May with 936 unread books lying around the house and ended the month with 929 books unread. All the books that I acquired this month came from Bookmooch, an author and Paperback Swap.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Rereads
- The Basement by Bari Wood
- Circle of Three: A Novel by Patricia Gaffney

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Fire on Ice: The Exclusive Inside Story of Tonya Harding by Abby Haight and J. E. Vader and the Staff of The Oregonian 
- Custody: A Novel by Nancy Thayer
- When Satan Wore a Cross: The Shocking True Story of a Killer Priest by Fred Rosen
- Spirit Lost: A Ghost Novel by Nancy Thayer
- Watson's Apology: A Novel by Beryl Bainbridge

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! Not too bad though, I suppose:))
- Fast and Easy Home Decorating: An A to Z Guide to Creating a Beautiful Home With an Minimum of Time and Money by Elizabeth J. Musheno
- Thirteen Moons: A Novel by Charles Frazier
- The Bridge at Chappaquiddick by Jack Olsen
- The Merry-Hearted Boys: Liam Clancy, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem by Ronald L. Leonard
- Who Killed my Daughter? by Lois Duncan

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :)) 
- Deviltry Afoot by Carol Pritt
Home Decorating With Needlecrafts by Linda Lee Lindgren
- Three-Dimensional Needlepoint by Gale Litvak
Needlepoint For Everyone by Mary Picken and Doris White
- Our Game by John Le Carre
- Morning Glory by Lavyrle Spencer
- Random Winds by Belva Plain
- Whispers by Belva Plain
- The Vines of Yarrabee by Dorothy Eden
- Mistress of Falconhurst by Lance Horner
- Family Affairs by Andy Hoffman
- The Guardian by Jeffrey Konvitz

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: 1,857
Grade Range: A+! to A!

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