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: Long Shadows: The Farewell to JFK

Long Shadows The Farewell to JFK - Jim Leeke

Book: Long Shadows - The Farewell to JFK

 

Author: Jim Leeke

 

Genre: Non Fiction/History/American Funerals

 

Summary: Our nation has seldom known a time so terrible and sad as November 1963, when young President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was slain, mourned, and buried. Author Jim Leeke returns us to those four grey and cold days, the shock of a young president fallen, the strength of his black-draped widow, the mourning of the world's leaders gathered silently on an Arlington cemetery hillside as the world watched. Long Shadows, The Farewell to JFK recounts the hour-by-hour drama as experienced by those in the armed services who planned the ceremonies, bore the casket, fashioned the eternal flame, and carried John Kennedy to his grave. Especially, this is the story of the 3rd US Infantry, the "Old Guard," whose members toiled under unimaginable pressure, with little to guide them, and the eyes of a nation upon them. It was a time when everything stopped, and long shadows fell across the nation. -Attic Window Publishing, 2008.

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Book Review: Killer Look

Killer Look - Linda Fairstein

Book: Killer Look

 

Author: Linda Fairstein

 

Genre: Mystery/Police Serial/Drama

 

Summary: New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, well known for its glamour and style. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the runway, where American haute couture continually astounds with its creativity, daring, and innovation in the name of beauty. Yet high fashion means high stakes, as Alex Cooper quickly discovers when businessman and designer Wolf Savage is found dead in an apparent suicide, mere days before the biggest show of his career. When the man's daughter insists Savage's death was murder, the case becomes more than a media sensation: It is a race to find a killer in a world created entirely out of fantasy and illusion. With her own job at the DA's office in jeopardy, and the temptation to self-medicate her PTSD with alcohol almost too strong to resist, Alex is not anyone's first choice for help. But she is determined to uncover the grime - and the possible homicide - beneath the glitz. Along with detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, Alex must penetrate the twisted roots and mixed motives among the high-profile players in the Garment District. The investigation takes the trio from the missing money in Wolf Savage's international fashion house to his own recovery from addiction; from the role of Louisiana voodoo in his life to his excessive womanizing; and to the family secrets he kept so well-hidden, even from those closest to him - just as things are about to get deadly on the catwalk. With Killer Look, Linda Fairstein proves once again why she is the "queen of intelligent suspense." -Dutton, 2016

 

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Book Review: The Black-Eyed Blonde

The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel - Benjamin Black

Book: The Black-Eyed Blonde

 

Author: Benjamin Black

 

Genre: Hard-Boiled Detective/Gangster/Noir/Police Novel

 

Summary: "It was one of those Tuesday afternoons in summer when you wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the air of something that knows it's being watched. Cars trickled past in the street below the dusty window of my office, and a few of the good folks of our fair city ambled along the sidewalk, men in hats, mostly, going nowhere." So begins The Black-Eyed Blonde, a new novel featuring Philip Marlowe - yes, that Philip Marlowe. Channeling Raymond Chandler, Benjamin Black has brought Marlowe back to life for a new adventure on the mean streets of Bay City, California. It is the early 1950s, Marlowe is as restless and lonely as ever, and business is a little slow. Then a new client is shown in: young, beautiful, and expensively dressed, she wants Marlowe to find her former lover, a man named Nico Peterson. Marlowe sets off on his search, but almost immediately discovers that Peterson's disappearance is merely the first in a series of bewildering events. Soon he is tangling with one of Bay City's richest families and developing a singular appreciation for how far they will go to protect their fortune. Only Benjamin Black, a modern master of the genre, could write a new Philip Marlowe novel that has all of the panache and charm of the originals while delivering a story that is as sharp and fresh as today's best crime fiction. -Henry Holt, 2014.

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Book Review: The Widow's House

The Widow's House: A Novel - Carol Goodman

Book: The Widow's House

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Mystery

 

Summary: When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River Valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation - of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career. They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. But it's been years, now, since his first novel, and the advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer him inspiration. But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night and see strange figures in the fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she discovers that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is - this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate - it seems to be after Clare next . . . - William Morrow, 2017.

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Book Review: A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup

Book: A is for Arsenic, The Poisons of Agatha Christie

 

Author: Kathryn Harkup

 

Genre: Non-Fiction/Chemistry/Murder/True Crime/Mystery

 

Summary: Agatha Christie reveled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random - the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts? Christie's extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime. -Bloomsbury Sigma, 2015.

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Book Review: Hollow City

Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

Book: Hollow City

 

Author: Ransom Riggs

 

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

 

Summary: The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom. Hollow City draws readers into a richly imagined world of telepathy and time loops, of sideshows and shape-shifters - a world populated with adult "peculiars," murderous wights, and a bizarre menagerie of uncanny animals. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience. -Quirk Books, 2014.

 

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Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

Book: The Thirteenth Tale

 

Author: Diane Setterfield

 

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

 

Summary: Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author's tale of gothic strangeness - featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves. -Washington Square Press, 2006.

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Book Review: The Poisoner's Handbook

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York - Deborah Blum

Book: The Poisoner's Handbook - Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

 

Author: Deborah Blum

 

Genre: Non-Fiction/True Crime/History/Chemistry

 

Summary: A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early-twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner's office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice. -Penguin, 2010.

 

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Book Review: A Thorn Among the Lilies

A Thorn Among the Lilies (An Alvin, Alabama Novel) - Michael Hiebert

Book: A Thorn Among The Lilies

 

Author: Michael Hiebert

 

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

 

Summary: Detective Leah Teal is privy to most of the secrets in her hometown of Alvin, but there are always surprises to be had. Like the day she agrees to take her daughter, Caroline, to see a psychic for a reading. The psychic hones in on Leah instead, hinting at a string of gruesome killings and insisting that she intervene to prevent more deaths. When you go looking for trouble, you never know how much you'll find. Sure enough, the psychic's scant clues lead Leah to a cold case from six years ago, when a young woman was found shot to death, her eyelids sewn shut. As Leah digs deeper into old files, a second unsolved case surfaces with the same grisly pattern. While her shrewd young son, Abe, observes from the sidelines, Leah races to prevent another horrific murder, unaware of just how deep the roots of evil can go. Taut, suspenseful, and rich in Southern atmosphere, A Thorn Among The Lilies is a mesmerizing novel of loss and vengeance, and the lengths some will go to out of loyalty and love. -Kensington Books, 2015.

 

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Book Review: My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier

Book: My Cousin Rachel

 

Author: Daphne du Maurier

 

Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

 

Summary: One of the world's greatest storytellers, Daphne du Maurier spins a dark gothic tale of passion and unswerving love that turns to suspicion and fear. Rachel, a woman of exquisite beauty, descends on the great Cornwall estate of Philip Ashley. Despite his aroused suspicions, she soon enchants him. In this tale of good and evil, Philip must decide whether the glorious Rachel, the recent mysterious widow of his beloved cousin, is out to destroy him or is the innocent victim of devious men with a tremendous longing to be loved. His fate and his future lie in the answer to this deadly question. -Sourcebooks, 1951.

 

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Book Review: Hawthorn

Hawthorn - Carol Goodman

Book: Hawthorn

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

 

Summary: All Avaline Hall wants is to enjoy her senior year at Blythewood Academy, the boarding school where she's been trained to defend humankind from forces of dark magic. But when Ava is shown a glimpse into the future in the enchanted Blythe Wood, she discovers that the evil Judicus van Drood is rallying nations into a war that seems destined to destroy both the human and faerie worlds. Only Ava and her allies have a chance at stopping van Drood, but how many must die in the process? And how can Ava and the boy she loves be together when everything around them is falling apart? -Viking, 2015.

 

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Book Review: The Black Key

The Black Key - Amy Orr-Ewing

Book: The Black Key

 

Author: Amy Ewing

 

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Fantasy/Dystopian/Romance

 

Summary: For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived a life of servitude, controlled and manipulated by the royalty of the Jewel. But now, the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power and knock down the walls dividing each circle. And while Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it - for her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return, to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City. In this thrilling conclusion to Amy Ewing's epic trilogy, Violet's loyalty to her family is pitted against her dedication to overthrowing a destructive and terrifying regime. This is an explosively compelling story that readers won't be able to put down. -HarperTeen, 2016.

 

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Book Review: The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger - Agatha Christie

Book: The Moving Finger

 

Author: Agatha Christie

 

Genre: Mystery/Fiction

 

Summary: Lymstock is a town with more than its share of shameful secrets - a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only a minor stir. But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note says "I can't go on," but Miss Marple questions the coroner's verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure of anyone - as secrets stop being shameful and start becoming deadly. -William Morrow, 2011 (Originally published in 1942).

 

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Book Review: The Winner's Kiss

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy) - Marie Rutkoski

Book: The Winner's Kiss

 

Author: Marie Rutkoski

 

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance

 

Summary: War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn't forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people - and certainly more than she did for him. At least, that's what he thinks. In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they've done to her. But no one gets what they want just by wishing. As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win? -Farrar Straus Giroux Books, 2016.

 

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Book Review: The Winner's Crime

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy) - Marie Rutkoski

Book: The Winner's Crime

 

Author: Marie Rutkoski

 

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

 

Summary: A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them. - Farrar Straus Giroux Books, 2015.

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Book Review: As You Wish - Inconceivable Tales from The Making of The Princess Bride

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride - Rob Reiner, Joe Layden, Cary Elwes

Book: As You Wish - Inconceivable Tales from The Making of The Princess Bride

 

Author: Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

 

Genre: Nonfiction/Film Memoir

 

Summary: From celebrated actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the family favorite and cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner. In As You Wish, Elwes has created an enchanting experience for new and old fans of The Princess Bride, complete with plenty of set secrets and backstage stories. -Touchstone, 2014.

 

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Currently reading

Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi