Sailing in a Sea of Words

Literature Fanatic. Writer. I tend to lean toward mystery and fiction, but I like to change patterns with the occasional YA or non-fiction book. I hope you enjoy my reviews and they inspire you to read the book yourself!

Book Review: Edenbrooke

Edenbrooke - Julianne Donaldson

Book: Edenbrooke

 

Author: Julianne Donaldson

 

Genre: Fiction/Historical Romance

 

Summary: Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry. From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to reign in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke. - Shadow Mountain, 2012.

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Book Review: Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan

Book: Sweet Tooth

 

Author: Ian McEwan

 

Genre: Spy Thriller/Fiction/Romance

 

Summary: Cambridge student Serena Frome's beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England's legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named "Sweet Tooth". Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one. - Anchor Books Random House, 2012.

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Book Review: The Seduction of Water

The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman

Book: The Seduction of Water

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Fairy Tales

 

Summary: Iris Greenfeder, ABD (All But Dissertation), feels the "buts" are taking over her life: all but published, all but a professor, all but married. Yet the sudden impulse to write a story about her mother, Katherine Morrissey, leads to a shot at literary success. The piece recounts an eerie Irish fairy tale her mother used to tell her at bedtime - and nestled inside it is the sad story of her death. It captures the attention of her mother's former literary agent, who is convinced that Katherine wrote one final manuscript before her strange, untimely end in a fire thirty years ago. So Iris goes back to the remote Hotel Equinox in the Catskills, the place where she grew up, to write her mother's biography and search for the missing manuscript - and there she unravels a haunting mystery, one that holds more secrets than she ever expected. . . - Ballantine Books, 2003.

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Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy - Margot Livesey

Book: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

 

Author: Margot Livesey

 

Genre: Romance/Coming of Age Novel

 

Summary: Taken from her native Iceland to Scotland in the early 1950s when her widower father drowns at sea, young Gemma Hardy comes to live with her kindly uncle and his family. But his death leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and she suddenly finds herself an unwelcome guest. Surviving oppressive years as a strict private school, Gemma ultimately finds a job as an au pair to the eight-year-old niece of Mr. Sinclair on the Orkney Islands - and here, at the mysterious and remote Blackbird Hall, Gemma's greatest trial begins. - Harper Perennial, 2012.

 

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Book Review: The Truth of All Things

The Truth of All Things - Kieran Shields

Book: The Truth of All Things

 

Author: Kieran Shields

 

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Occult/Historical

 

Summary: When Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute's murder in Portland, Maine, he's surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He's even more surprised to learn that this death by "sticking" is a traditional method of killing a witch. Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, Lean secretly enlists the help of historian Helen Prescott and criminalist Perceval Grey. Although skeptical of one another's methods, the team pursues the killer's lurid trail through postmortems and opium dens and deep into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England. The closer they come to answers, the more dangerous their hunt becomes. Before the killer closes in on his final victim, they must decipher the secret pattern to these murders - a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials. - Broadway Paperbacks, 2012.

 

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Book Review: The Last Camellia

The Last Camellia - Sarah Jio

Book: The Last Camellia

 

Author: Sarah Jio

 

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical/Mystery

 

Summary: On the eve of the Second World War, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

 

More than a half century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple's shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener's notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate? -Penguin Group, 2013.

 

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Book Review: Hush Now, Don't You Cry

Hush Now, Don't You Cry (Molly Murphy Series #11) - Rhys Bowen

Book: Hush Now, Don't You Cry

 

Author: Rhys Bowen

 

Genre: Historical Mystery/Fiction

 

Summary: Molly Murphy, now Molly Sullivan, and her husband, Daniel, a captain in the New York Police Department, have been invited to spend their honeymoon on the Newport, Rhode Island, estate of Alderman Brian Hannan in the spring of 1904. Molly doesn't entirely trust the offer. Hannan - an ambitious man - has his eye on a Senate seat and intentions of taking Tammany Hall to get it. When Hannan is found dead at the base of the cliffs that overlook the Atlantic, Molly's suspicions are quickly justified, and as much as she wants to keep her promise to Daniel that she won't do any more sleuthing now, there isn't much she can do once the chase is on. Rhys Bowen's brilliant wit and charm are on full display in Hush Now, Don't You Cry, another outstanding addition to her Agatha Award - and Anthony Award-winning historical series. -Minotaur Books, 2012.

 

 

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Book Review: Bel Canto

Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

Book: Bel Canto

 

Author: Ann Patchett

 

Genre: Fiction/Based on Real Events

 

Summary: Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in the honor of the powerful businessman, Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening - until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion. . . and cannot be stopped. - Harper Collins, 2001.

 

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Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

Book: The Woman in Cabin 10

 

Author: Ruth Ware

 

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

 

Summary: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests arrive jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo's stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo hears what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers and crew members remain accounted for - and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo's desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.... With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10 - one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned. - Simon & Schuster, 2016.

 

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Book Review: The Night Villa

The Night Villa - Carol Goodman

Book: The Night Villa

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Fiction/Classic/Mystery/Suspense

 

Summary: The eruption of Italy's Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 buried a city and its people, their treasures and secrets. Centuries later, echoes of this disaster resonate with profound consequences in the life of classics professor Sophie Chase. In the aftermath of a tragic shooting on the University of Texas campus, Sophie seeks sanctuary on the isle of Capri, immersing herself in her latest scholarly project alongside her colleagues, her star pupil, and their benefactor, the compelling yet enigmatic business mogul John Lyros. Beneath the layers of volcanic ash lies the Villa della Notte - the Night Villa - home to first-century nobles, as well as the captivating slave girl at the heart of an ancient controversy. And secreted in a subterranean labyrinth rests a cache of antique documents believed lost to the ages: a prize too tantalizing for Sophie to resist. But suspicion, fear, and danger roam the long-untrodden tunnels and chambers beneath the once sumptuous estate - especially after Sophie sees the face of her former lover in the darkness, leaving her to wonder if she is chasing shadows or succumbing to the siren song of the Night Villa. Whatever shocking events transpired in the face of Vesuvius's fury have led to deeper, darker machinations that inexorably draw Sophie into their vortex, rich in stunning revelations and laden with unseen menace. -Ballantine Books, 2008.

 

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Book Review: Summer Island

Summer Island - Kristin Hannah

Book: Summer Island

 

Author: Kristin Hannah

 

Genre: Fiction/Family/Healing

 

Summary: Years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her marriage, leaving her daughters behind. Now she is a celebrity talk-show host, famous for her stern moral advice. Her daughter Ruby is a struggling comedienne. The two haven't spoken in more than a decade. Then a scandal from Nora's past is exposed, and Ruby is offered a fortune to write a tell-all about her mother. Reluctantly, she returns to the family house on Summer Island, a home filled with frayed memories of joy and heartache. Confronting a past that includes a never-forgotten love, a sick best friend, and a mother who has harbored terrible family secrets, Ruby finally begins to understand the complex ties that bind a mother and daughter - and the healing that comes with forgiveness. - Ballantine Books, 2001.

 

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Book Review: Lake Como

Lake Como - Anita Hughes

Book: Lake Como

 

Author: Anita Hughes

 

Genre: Fiction/Family/Romance

 

Summary: Hallie Elliot has a perfect life. She is an up-and-coming interior designer in one of San Francisco's most sought-after firms and in a relationship with Peter, a brilliant young journalist. But when she stumbles upon Peter and her boss in what seems to be a compromising position, her trust in Peter and their future is shaken. Hallie escapes to Italy's glorious Lake Como to spend time with her half sister, Portia Tesoro, an Italian blue blood dealing with a scandalous estrangement from her cheating husband. Together, they enjoy the charms of Lake Como, and Hallie finds work designing the estate of a reclusive American tech mogul. Just as she is beginning to give in to the attractions of Angus, the estate's handsome, enigmatic caretaker, Hallie uncovers a family secret that upends the truths she's believed about herself and calls into question the new life she's built in Lake Como. - St. Martin's Griffin, 2013

 

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Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna & the French Kiss 1) by Stephanie Perkins (2014) Paperback - Stephanie Perkins

Book: Anna and the French Kiss

 

Author: Stephanie Perkins

 

Genre: Teen/Romance/High School

 

Summary: Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So, she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Etienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken - and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's been waiting for? - Penguin Group, 2010.

 

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Book Review: The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Book: The Language of Flowers

 

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 

Genre: Fiction/Family/Meaning of Love

 

Summary: Acacia for secret love, daffodil for new beginnings, wisteria for welcome, and camellia for my destiny is in your hands. In Victorian times, the language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what's been missing in her life. And when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second change at happiness. - Ballatine Books, 2011.

 

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Book Review: The Tea Rose

The Tea Rose  - Jennifer Donnelly

Book: The Tea Rose

 

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

 

Genre: Fiction/19th Century/Romance

 

Summary: East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

 

But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything - and everyone - she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future. - St. Martin's Griffin, 2002.

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Book Review: Mozart's Last Aria

Mozart's Last Aria - Matt Rees

Book: Mozart's Last Aria

 

Author: Matt Rees

 

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

 

Summary: The news arrives in a letter to his sister, Nannerl, in December 1791. But the message carries more than word of Nannerl's brother's demise. Two months earlier, Mozart confided to his wife that his life was rapidly drawing to a close . . . and that he knew he had been poisoned. In Vienna to pay her final respects, Nannerl soon finds herself ensnared in a web of suspicion and intrigue - as the actions of jealous lovers, sinister creditors, rival composers, and Mozart's Masonic brothers suggest that dark secrets hastened the genius to his grave. As Nannerl digs deeper into the mystery surrounding her brother's passing, Mozart's black fate threatens to overtake her as well. Transporting readers to the salons and concert halls of eighteenth-century Austria, Mozart's Last Aria is a magnificent historical mystery that pulls back the curtain on a world of soaring music, burning passion, and powerful secrets. -Harper Perennial, 2011.

 

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Currently reading

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell