Barbara Delinsky – Sweet Salt Air: A Novel

36. Sweet Salt Air: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky (2013)
Length: 404 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 13 July 2016
Finished: 18 July 2016
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 11 July 2016
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

On Quinnipeague Island – just off the coast of Maine – hearts open up under the summer stars and secrets float in the sweet salt air. Nicole and Charlotte had once been the best of friends. Spending summers together at Nicole’s island home off the coast of Maine was an idyllic time for both of them, but sometimes memories – no matter how sweet they are – cannot last. Too many years and too many secrets have begun to color the women’s friendship and have succeeded in keeping them apart.

Charlotte is a successful travel writer who spends most of her time on the road. She is single, but is happy living as she does – on the road and out of a suitcase. Nicole is a food blogger who keeps house in Philadelphia; and she has been happily married to her surgeon husband Julian for the past ten years. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she decides to invite Charlotte back for one final summer, to the place where the women had spent so many idyllic summers together – Quinnipeague, Maine.

To Nicole’s mind, this could prove to be the perfect partnership between them. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for engaging people – talking to them and making friends with everyone she meets. Nicole could use her own expertise to interview the locals. So, dearly missing a genuine connection with her former best friend, Charlotte eagerly accepts Nicole’s invitation.

Yet what both women don’t realize is that they are each holding on to secrets that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could possibly destroy her marriage, but it could also help save her husband’s life. For Charlotte, the truth could ultimately cost her Nicole’s friendship, but the revelation could also give her a second chance to find love again. And Charlotte’s second chance for love may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.

First of all, let me say that I genuinely enjoy reading anything by Barbara Delinsky – she certainly can write an intriguing story and creates well-developed, sympathetic characters. Having said that, I must also admit that Ms. Delinsky has a tendency to be a bit of a hit-or-miss author for me. Perhaps I have mentioned this before, but some of her work seems slightly over-written and tremendously – if minutely – detailed.

This particular story was certainly interesting and an enjoyable reading experience for me. However, I would also say that it was slightly longer than I thought that it needed to be to tell the story. In my opinion though, this story was still well worth reading. I would still give this book a definite A!

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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Whitley Strieber – Unholy Fire

34. Unholy Fire by Whitley Strieber (1992)
Length: 327 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 2 July 2016
Finished: 6 July 2016
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
Why do I have it? I like horror and have read and enjoyed The Forbidden Zone by the same author in the past.

Father John Rafferty is a dedicated priest, yet he also struggles mightily against the temptation presented to him by one of his beautiful young parishioners – a seductive young woman whom he regularly counsels. Despite faltering in his faith, he nevertheless takes the tenants of his vocation very seriously, and so Fr. Rafferty ministers to those among his parishioners who desperately need his help. As he continues to counsel this troubled young woman, he has no idea how much his faith will ultimately be tested by his confrontation with true evil.

After he discovers the woman’s horribly mutilated body in front of the altar of his own church, Fr. Rafferty quickly becomes the prime suspect in her murder. However, as the death toll rises, he begins to suspect that someone close to him – someone with a very obvious and deep-seated hatred of the church is targeting his parishioners in their malevolent killing spree. Yet as each murder increases in brutality, Fr. Rafferty slowly begins to realize that he is battling against something truly diabolical.

As homicide detectives Kitty Pearson and Sam Dowd investigate the case, they struggle to reconcile the evidence that they find with the range of potential suspects. Although all the evidence that the detectives uncover seems to point toward a psychotic murderer, their primary suspect appears to be a dedicated, holy man – a man who seems utterly incapable of inflicting such severe brutality. Sometimes, though, such appearances can be deceiving…

First of all, let me say that this type of story always intrigues me. I’m not sure what it is exactly; maybe it’s the supernatural style of the horror, the mysteriousness of the plot, or maybe even the involvement of the Catholic Church, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I’m delighted to say that the story itself held my attention all the way through in an unexpected way. I would definitely give Unholy Fire by Whitley Strieber an A!

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Alice McDermott – Charming Billy: A Novel

33. Charming Billy: A Novel by Alice McDermott (1998)
Length: 243 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 27 June 2016
Finished: 1 July 2016
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 November 2001
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Alice McDermott is a new author for me.

The people who knew and loved Billy Lynch the best have all come to comfort his widow Maeve, and to eulogize a man whom many considered to be one of the last great romantics. From all accounts, the late Billy Lynch was such a wonderful man – a man who was an extraordinarily unique soul. As forty-seven members of his funeral party gather together at a local Bronx bar to reminisce over their memories of the past; each trading their own tales of his legendary humor, immense charm, and deepest, most profound sorrow – Billy Lynch will be remembered most by the people whose lives were touched by his presence.

As the mourners linger on into this extraordinary evening, their voices will eventually blend together to tell Billy’s own tragic story. What is finally revealed to all present is a complex portrait of an enigmatic man; a loyal friend, a beloved husband, a functional alcoholic. While Billy’s loved ones continue to hold Maeve in the highest esteem and admire her strength, there are those among the mourners who cannot remember Billy without also recalling the source of his unfathomable grief and sadness: “There was that girl.” Their various stories weave together to become a gentle homage to all the lives in their close-knit community fractured by grief, shattered by secrets, yet sustained by the simple dream of love.

In a voice that is resonant and full of deep feeling, Alice McDermott tells the tale of Billy Lynch within the complex confines of a tightly knit Irish-American community. Charming Billy is a poignant masterpiece about the unbreakable bonds of desire and memory. Ms. McDermott’s striking novel, is an intricate study of the lies that bind and the weight of familial love, of the way good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide.

I must say that I really enjoyed reading this book. In my opinion, this was a poignant and well-written story; one that I found both intriguing and intricately detailed. Having said that, I will admit that I found the book somewhat confusing with regards to some of the relationships between the characters and the frequent shifts back and forth between the past and the present. I would still give this book an A! and am happy to note that I have three or four more books by this author on my bookshelf.

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Laura Wilson – Telling Lies to Alice

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

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

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

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

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

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Mary Stewart – The Stormy Petrel

16. The Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart (1991)
Length: 176 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 25 February 2015
Finished: 28 February 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 9 April 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

When Rose Fenemore travels to the island of Moila off the west coast of Scotland, she is looking forward to spending a quiet holiday with her brother Crispin in a paradise filled with seabirds and wild flowers. Remote and lonely, the secluded island seems to Rose to be the perfect place to relax and get away from it all. In fact, the isolated cottage she has rented – advertised as an “ivory tower” – promises to be the ideal retreat where Rose can finish writing her novel, and Crispin can commune with nature – walking, fishing and indulging in his passion for photography.

However, things don’t turn out quite so idyllically. Her brother’s arrival is delayed, and the island’s peace is shattered by the arrival of two men, seeking shelter during a violent summer storm. Each man tells a remarkably different story – conflicting narratives that draw Rose into a web of menace and suspicion.

Rose’s discovery of the stormy petrels – the fragile, elusive seabirds that nest ashore but spend the majority of their lives flying just above the waves – comes to symbolize for Rose her confusion about Ewen Mackay, the man known as the island’s prodigal son, as well as the man who calls himself John Parsons – someone whose account of himself Rose has every reason to distrust.

I enjoyed reading this book – it was certainly interesting and a remarkably quick read for me. However, I must say that I didn’t really find the plot all that suspenseful – at least not as suspenseful as some of Ms. Stewart’s other work that I’ve read. Although I wouldn’t say that this book is Ms. Stewart’s absolute best – compared to some of her other books that I’ve read in the past – it still was quite good. I would give The Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart an A!

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

Mary Higgins Clark – Daddy’s Little Girl

14. Reader’s Digest Select Editions, Volume 5: Daddy’s Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark (2002)
The Reader’s Digest Select Editions Series Volume 5: 2002 – (Daddy’s Little Girl/Without Fail/Flight Lessons/Three Weeks in Paris)
Length: 131 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Started: 10 February 2015
Finished: 12 February 2015
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 October 2007
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 Select Editions from time to time.

“Then, from somewhere in the big room, she was sure she heard someone breathing – harsh, heavy, sucking-in breaths that broke off in a kind of giggle.”

“Terrified, she tried to get up, but her knees slid in the blood and she fell forward across Andrea’s chest. Her lips grazed something smooth and cold – Andrea’s gold locket. Then she managed to scramble to her feet, and she turned and began to run.”

Ellie Cavanaugh was seven years old when her older sister Andrea disappeared and was later found murdered near their home in Westchester County, New York. As a matter of fact, it was young Ellie’s tearful testimony that eventually put nineteen-year-old Rob Westerfield, the scion of a prominent family, in jail despite the existence of two other viable suspects. And for the past two decades, Rob Westerfield has stayed behind bars, although he has always proclaimed his innocence of Andrea’s murder.

Twenty-two years later, Rob, who still maintains his innocence, is paroled. Determined to thwart his every attempt to pin the crime on another person, Ellie, now an investigative reporter for an Atlanta newspaper, returns home and starts writing a book that will conclusively prove Rob Westerfield’s guilt – beyond a reasonable doubt. As she delves deeper into her research, however, Ellie begins to uncover some horrifying facts that shed a whole new light on her sister’s brutal murder. And with each new discovery, Ellie creeps closer to finally solving her sister’s murder, and putting herself in a dangerous situation – into a direct confrontation with a desperate killer.

I must say that after I read All Through the Night: A Suspense Story back in April of 2014, I wasn’t all that sure if I wanted to read another book by Mary Higgins Clark for some time. I decided to end my self-imposed hiatus by reading this particular book, though. I’m so glad that I chose to give Ms. Clark a second chance as I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I found it much more intriguing than I expected, and I would give Daddy’s Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark an A!

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight