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: Receiver of Many

Receiver of Many - Rachel Alexander

Book: Receiver of Many


Author: Rachel Alexander


Genre: Fiction/Mythology/Romance


Summary: Persephone's life has been one of leisure among the verdant fields: the maiden of flowers, forever sheltered by her mother, the Harvest Goddess Demeter. Now she is a woman, a goddess in her own right, yearning for freedom - even as the terms of an ancient pact are about to come due. Hades' life has been one of solitude in the somber land of the dead: for millennia he has served as the God of the Underworld, living without attachments, eternally governing the souls of mortals. But he dreams of the young goddess who was promised to be his wife, and knows it is time for the Underworld to have a Queen. When Hades arrives to claim his betrothed, he finds a young goddess eager to unearth her divine potential - and a powerful mother unwilling to let go. Receiver of Many begins an erotic story of passion and possession, duty and desire, and a struggle that threatens both ancient Greece and the Realm of the Dead itself. -Self-published, 2015.

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Book Review: The Dollhouse

The Dollhouse: A Novel - Fiona Davis

Book: The Dollhouse


Author: Fiona Davis


Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery


Summary: When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. More than half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist - not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed. -Penguin, 2016.


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Book Review: Death Wears A Mask

Death Wears a Mask - Ashley Weaver

Book: Death Wears A Mask


Author: Ashley Weaver


Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Historical/Romance


Summary: Following the murderous events of the Brightwell Hotel, Amory Ames is looking forward to a tranquil period of reconnecting with her reformed playboy husband, Milo. She hopes a quiet stay at their London flat will help mend their relationship. However, Amory soon finds herself drawn into another investigation when an old friend of her mother's asks her to look into the disappearance of valuable jewelry snatched at a dinner party. Amory agrees to help lay a trap to catch the culprit at a lavish masked ball. But when one of the illustrious party guests is murdered, she is pulled back into the world of detection, caught up in both a mystery and a set of romantic entanglements where nothing is as it seems. -Minotaur Books, 2015.

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Book Review: The Violets of March

The Violets of March - Sarah Jio

Book: The Violets of March


Author: Sarah Jio


Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Romance/Historical


Summary: In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after. Nearly a decade later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life. -Plume, 2011.

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Book Review: The Sorbonne Affair

The Sorbonne Affair: A Hugo Marston Novel - Mark Pryor

Book: The Sorbonne Affair


Author: Mark Pryor


Genre: Fiction/Mystery


Summary: Someone is spying on American author Helen Hancock. While in Paris to conduct research and teach a small class of writers, she discovers a spy camera hidden in her room at the Sorbonne Hotel. She notifies the US Embassy, and former FBI profiler Hugo Marston is dispatched to investigate. Almost immediately, the stakes are raised from surveillance to murder when the hotel employee who appears to be responsible for bugging Hancock's suite is found dead. The next day, a salacious video clip explodes across the Internet, showing the author in the embrace of one of her writing students - both are naked, and nothing is left to the imagination. As more bodies pile up, the list of suspects narrows; but everyone at the Sorbonne Hotel has something to hide, and no one is being fully honest with Hugo. He teams up with Lieutenant Camille Lerens to solve the case, but a close call on the streets of Paris proves that he could be the killer's next target. -Seventh Street Books, 2017.

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Book Review: Flame in the Mist

Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh

Book: Flame in the Mist


Author: Renee Ahdieh


Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Adventure/Romance


Summary: The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she'd been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath. So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko's convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who've been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace. The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she's within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she's appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love - a love that will force her to question everything she's ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires. - G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2017.

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Book Review: Home by Nightfall

Home by Nightfall: A Charles Lenox Mystery (Charles Lenox Mysteries) - Charles Finch

Book: Home by Nightfall


Author: Charles Finch


Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery


Summary: It's London, 1876, and the whole city is abuzz with the enigmatic disappearance of a famous foreign pianist. Lenox has an eye on the matter - as a partner in a now-thriving detective agency, he's a natural choice to investigate. Just when he's tempted to turn his focus to it entirely, however, his grieving brother asks him to come down to Sussex, and Lenox leaves the metropolis behind for the quieter country life of his boyhood. Or so he thinks. Something strange is afoot in Markethouse: small thefts - books, blankets, animals - and, more alarmingly, a break-in at the house of a local insurance agent. As he and his brother investigate this accumulation of mysteries, Lenox realizes that something very strange and serious indeed may be happening, more than just local mischief. Soon, he's racing to solve two cases at once, one in London and one in the country, before either turns deadly. Blending Charles Finch's trademark wit, elegance, and depth of research, this new mystery, equal parts Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, may be the finest in the series. Minotaur Books, 2015.

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Book Review: The Winter Rose

The Winter Rose - Jennifer Donnelly

Book: The Winter Rose


Author: Jennifer Donnelly


Genre: Fiction/Historical/Romance


Summary: When India Selwyn Jones graduates from the London School of Medicine for Women in 1900, she is advised to set up her practice in a fashionable neighborhood. Instead, the idealistic India chooses to work in the East End, serving the poor. There, India meets Sid Malone, one of London’s most notorious gangsters. Before long, an unpredictable, passionate, and bittersweet affair ensues. -Hachette Books, 2008.

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Book: You Were Here

You Were Here - Gian Sardar

Book: You Were Here


Author: Gian Sardar


Genre: Fiction/Historical/Thriller


Summary: Death, accidental and early, has always been Abby Walters’s preoccupation. She’s thirty-three and eager to settle down with her commitment-shy boyfriend when an old recurring dream returns: a paralyzing nightmare of being buried alive, the taste of dirt in her mouth suffocating and real. But this time the dream reveals a name: Claire Ballantine, a woman from her family’s past. Looking for answers, and to stop the nightmares, Abby returns home to Minnesota for the first time in fourteen years, where she reconnects with her high school crush, Aiden, now a detective on the trail of a violent criminal. When Abby tries on her grandmother’s diamond ring, which she always dreamed would be hers, she discovers a cryptic note hidden beneath the ring box’s velvet lining. What secret was her grandmother hiding? Could this be the key to what’s haunting Abby? In 1948, young Eva Marten can’t believe her luck when she meets William, a handsome businessman who sees that she’s more than her meager farm-town roots. Their passionate love affair is only the beginning - or at least it will be, Eva knows, once he leaves his distant, upper-class wife, Claire. Eva’s love for William and determination to follow her heart sweeps them both off their feet, pushing Eva and Claire to a chilling confrontation. An ill-fated love triangle in the past. A horrifying crime in the present. Mesmerizing twists and a long-buried secret that may finally rise to light. You Were Here weaves together two worlds separated by decades, unveiling just how much lurks beneath the surface of our lives. -Putnam, 2017.

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Book Review: The Tsarina’s Legacy

The Tsarina's Legacy: A Novel - Jennifer Laam

Book: The Tsarina's Legacy


Author: Jennifer Laam


Genre: Fiction/Historical/Political


Summary: Then. . . Since the moment he first saw her on the night she seized the throne, Grigory "Grisha" Potemkin has loved Empress Catherine of Russia. Their love was forged first from passion and then from friendship, as they began a long and prosperous political association. Now older, they face treacherous new threats, both from outside of Russia and from within their intimate circle. Haunted by the horrors of his campaign against the Muslim Turks, Grisha hopes to construct a mosque in the heart of the empire. Unfortunately, Catherine's young new lover, the ambitious and charming Platon Zubov, stands in his way. Grisha determines that to preserve Catherine's legacy, he must save her from Zubov's dangerous influence and win back her heart.


Now. . . When she learns she is the heiress to the Romanov throne, Veronica Herrera's life swiftly turns upside down. Even as she gains a noble legacy, she loses everything she once thought important. Heartbroken and seeking purpose, Veronica agrees to accept a ceremonial position as the new tsarina and to act as an advocate to free a Russian artist sentenced to prison for displaying paintings critical of church and government. For her efforts, she is both celebrated and chastised. As her political role comes under fire, Veronica is forced to decide between the glamorous perks of European royalty and staying true to herself. -St. Martin's Griffin, 2016.

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Book Review: Columbine

Columbine - Dave Cullen

Book: Columbine


Author: Dave Cullen


Genre: Nonfiction/True Crime


Summary: On April 20, 1999, two boys went to their high school with bombs and guns. Their goal was to leave "a lasting impression on the world." The horror they inflicted left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Now in this definitive account, Dave Cullen presents a compelling and utterly human profile of teenage killers. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries. This close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups is an unforgettable cautionary tale for our time. In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, Columbine is a revelatory work destined to be a classic. -Twelve, 2009.

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Book Review: Five Presidents - My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford

Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford - Clint Hill, Lisa McCubbin

Book: Five Presidents - My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford


Author: Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin


Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir/U.S. History


Summary: As he did in the New York Times bestselling books Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November, retired Secret Service agent Clint Hill brings history to life with Five Presidents, a rare and fascinating portrait of the American presidency. Clint Hill delivers a stunning perspective from the eyes of an everyman who saw the most historic moments of the twenty-first century during his seventeen years protecting the most powerful office in the nation. Hill walked alongside Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford, seeing them through a long, tumultuous era: the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard M. Nixon. With a unique insider's perspective and a moving touch, Hill sheds new light on the character and personality of these five presidents, revealing their humanity in the face of grave decisions. -Gallery Books, 2016. 

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Book Review: Four Days in November - The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

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

Book: Four Days in November - The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy


Author: Vincent Bugliosi


Genre: Non-Fiction/U.S History/Assassinations


Summary: Four Days in November is an extraordinarily exciting, precise, and definitive narrative of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, by Lee Harvey Oswald. It is drawn from Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a monumental and historic account of the event and all the conspiracy theories it spawned, by Vincent Bugliosi, legendary prosecutor of Charles Manson and author of Helter Skelter. For general readers, the carefully documented account presented in Four Days is utterly persuasive: Oswald did it and he acted alone. -W.W. Norton, 2007.

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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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Currently reading

The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher