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: 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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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. 

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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


-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.

-read more-

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.


-read more-

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.

-read more-

Currently reading

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst