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 Last Romanov

The Last Romanov - Dora Levy Mossanen

Book: The Last Romanov

 

Author: Dora Levy Mossanen

 

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction/Supernatural

 

Summary: She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majesty. Yet, decades later, her time is spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for those murderous events that changed everything? If only she can find the heir, maybe she can put together the broken pieces of her own past - maybe she can hold on to the love she found. Bursting to life with the rich and glorious marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale of second chances and royal blood. - Sourcebooks, 2012.

 

-read more-
SPOILER ALERT!

Book Review: Emerald Green

Emerald Green - Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell

Book: Emerald Green

 

Author: Kerstin Gier

 

Genre: Teen/Sci-Fi/Time traveling/Romance

 

Summary: Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is. She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-Germain, is up to something nefarious, but nobody believes her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along. This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate! - Henry Holt and Company, 2010.

 

-read more-

Book Review: Sapphire Blue

Sapphire Blue (The Ruby Red, #2) - Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell

Book: Sapphire Blue

 

Author: Kerstin Gier

 

Genre: Teen/Sci Fi/Time Travel/Romance

 

Summary: Gwen’s life has been a roller coaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve. When not searching through history for the other time travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean. It’s not easy when a secret society, a dangerous Count, and her own time-traveling partner, Gideon, are determined to keep her from the truth. Especially since Gwen can’t decide whether Gideon really believes she’s a traitor to the Circle or might actually be on her side - and creeping into her heart. -Square Fish, 2010.

 

-read more-

Book Review: Ruby Red

Ruby Red - Kerstin Gier

Book: Ruby Red

 

Author: Kerstin Gier

 

Genre: Teen/Sci Fi/Romance/Time Travel

 

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended - and rather eccentric - family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors’ peculiar history, she’s had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn’t been introduced to “the mysteries,” and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesley. It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past. She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any century…. -Square Fish, 2009.

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Rise

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery - Sarah   Lewis

Book: The Rise

 

Author: Sarah Lewis

 

Genre: Non-Fiction - Creativity/Failure/Innovation

 

Summary: It is one of the most enduring enigmas of the human experience: many of our most iconic, creative endeavors - from Nobel Prize-winning discoveries to entrepreneurial inventions and works in the arts - are not achievements but conversions, corrections after failed attempts. The gift of failure is a riddle. Like the number zero, it will always be both a void and the start of infinite possibility. The Rise - a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit - makes the case that many of our greatest triumphs come from understanding the importance of this mystery. This exquisite biography of an idea is about the improbable foundations of creative human endeavor. The Rise begins with narratives about figures past and present who range from writers to entrepreneurs; Frederick Douglass, Samuel F.B. Morse, and J.K. Rowling, for example, feature alongside choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize-winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders, and psychology professor Angela Duckworth. The Rise explores the inestimable value of often ignored ideas - the power of surrender for fortitude, the criticality of play for innovation, the propulsion of the near win on the road to mastery, and the importance of grit and creative practice. From an uncommonly insightful writer, The Rise is a true masterwork. - Simon & Schuster, 2014.

 

-read more-

Book Review: So Far Away

So Far Away - Meg Mitchell Moore

Book: So Far Away

 

Author: Meg Mitchell Moore

 

Genre: Fiction/Family/Teen/Drama

 

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher wants to escape: from her parents’ ugly divorce and from the vicious cyberbullying of her former best friend. Adrift, confused, she is a girl trying to find her way in a world that seems to either neglect her or despise her. Her salvation arrives in an unlikely form: Bridget O’Connell, an Irish maid working for a wealthy Massachusetts family. The catch? Bridget only lives in the pages of a dusty old diary Natalie unearthed in her mother’s basement. But the life she describes is as troubling- and mysterious - as the one Natalie is trying to navigate herself, almost a century later. I am writing this down because this is my story. There were only ever two other people who knew my secret, and both are gone before me. Who was Bridget, and what became of her? Natalie loses herself in the diary, eager to unlock its secrets, and reluctantly accepts the help of library archivist Kathleen Lynch, a widow with her own painful secret: she’s estranged from her only daughter. Kathleen sees in Natalie traces of the daughter she has lost, and in Bridget, another spirited young woman at risk. What could an Irish immigrant, a domestic servant from the 1920s, teach them both? As the troubles of a very modern world close in around them, and Natalie’s torments at school escalate, Bridget’s faded journal unites the lonely girl and the unhappy widow - and might even change their lives forever. - Hachette, 2012.

 

-read more-

Book Review: Paris, An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart

Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City's Creative Heart - Janelle McCulloch

Book: Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart

 

Author: Janelle McCulloch

 

Genre: Non-Fiction/Travel/Paris

 

Summary: Paris is an inspiring tour through the city’s most charming streets, revealing best-kept secrets and hidden gems at every turn: ateliers overflowing with fabric and notions, lush courtyards, charming cafes, vibrant markets and elegant boutiques. Packed with lavish color photographs that capture the true spirit of the city, this book is a treasure trove for those who love style, design, fashion, food and - of course - Paris! - Chronicle Books, 2011

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Book: The Cuckoo’s Calling

 

Author: Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling

 

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

 

Summary: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to just one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. - Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

 

-read more-

Book Review: Careless People

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby - Sarah Churchwell

Book: Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby

 

Author: Sarah Churchwell

 

Genre: Non-Fiction/Literary Criticism/F.Scott Fitzgerald/Biography

 

Summary: “May one offer in exhibit the year 1922!” exclaimed F. Scott Fitzgerald. “That was the peak of the younger generation, for though the Jazz Age continued, it became less and less an affair of youth.” A hinge point for the carefree American born out of the devastation of the First World War, 1922 was also a year that altered the direction of Fitzgerald’s own life - and the year in which he chose to set his masterwork, The Great Gatsby. The autumn of 1922 found the young novelist at the height of his fame, just twenty-six years old and publishing his fourth book, Tales of the Jazz Age. A spokesman for the nation’s pleasure-hungry youth, Fitzgerald made his home in the glamorous and reckless streets of New York - a city dizzyingly defiant of Prohibition, bursting with the nation’s expanding economy and growing ambitions. Those final incredible months of 1922 were full of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald drinking and partying and quarreling at a frantic pace, all against the backdrop of financial crises, literary milestones, car crashes, and media scandals in the Jazz Age metropolis. That same autumn, a horrific crime engulfed the city and commanded the nation’s attention: a brutal double murder in nearby New Jersey, compounded by a preposterous police investigation and an array of celebrity-hungry suspects. Proclaimed the “crime of the decade”, the Hall-Mills murder case was never definitively resolved and has been almost wholly forgotten today. Yet the enormous impact of this bizarre crime reverberates through The Great Gatsby - a novel that Fitzgerald began planning in the autumn of 1922 and whose plot he ultimately set within that fateful year. Careless People is a unique literary investigation: a thrilling double narrative that reconstructs the farcical inquiry into a gruesome crime, as well as a passionate, scrupulous search for the roots of America’s best-loved novel. Overturning much of the received wisdom of the period, Careless People blends biography and history with lost newspaper accounts, letters, and newly discovered materials. With great wit and insight, acclaimed scholar of American literature Sarah Churchwell constructs a different framework for the novel we know so well, revealing new ways of thinking about the moment and the world that defined Scott Fitzgerald’s most consummate work. Most important, Churchwell offers fresh perspectives on the infamous relationship of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, providing for the first time a detailed account of their life at the end of 1922, when the couple’s legendary existence began to splinter, even as Fitzgerald’s marvelous novel began to emerge. Interweaving the biographical story of the Fitzgeralds with the unfolding investigation into the Hall-Mills case, Careless People is a thrilling combination of literary history and murder mystery, a mesmerizing journey into the dark heart of Jazz Age America. - The Penguin Press, 2013.

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure - William Goldman, Michael Manomivibul

Book: The Princess Bride

 

Author: William Goldman

 

Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Adventure

 

Summary: A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts - The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic. As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini - the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik - the gentle giant; Inigo - the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen - the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate. - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Sonnet Lover

The Sonnet Lover - Carol Goodman

Book: The Sonnet Lover

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Fiction/Travel/Shakespeare/University

 

Summary: Did Shakespeare pen a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholarship, ardently praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty? This tantalizing question is raised in a letter to literature professor Rose Asher. But the letter’s author, Rose’s star pupil, is not telling: a troubled, enigmatic young man, he plunged to his death in front of the college’s entire faculty, an apparent suicide. Determined to find the truth, Rose journeys from New York to Italy, back to the magnificent Tuscan villa where as an undergraduate she first fell in love. La Civetta is a dreamlike place, resplendent with the heady scent of lemon trees and the sunset’s ochre wash across its bricks and cobbles. Once there Rose finds her first love still in residence. Torn between her mission and her rekindled feelings, Rose becomes enmeshed in a treacherous tangle of secrets and scandal. A folio containing what some believe to be one of Shakespeare’s lost sonnets has vanished, and literary immortality awaits whoever finds the manuscript - as do a vast Italian estate and a Hollywood movie deal. Uncertain whom she can trust and where she can turn, Rose races against time and unseen enemies in a bid to find the missing masterpiece. Lush, lyrical, and enthralling, The Sonnet Lover vividly brings to life the Tuscan countryside and the fascinating world of the Renaissance poets. Unmatched in her ability to evoke atmosphere and intrigue, Carol Goodman delivers her most ambitious and satisfying work to date, a seductive novel that skillfully propels its reader headlong to the final suspenseful page. - Ballantine Books, 2007

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Invention of Murder

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime - Judith Flanders

Book: The Invention of Murder

 

Author: Judith Flanders

 

Genre: Nonfiction/Mystery/History of Murder/Victorian England

 

Summary: Murder in the nineteenth century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, with cold-blooded killings transformed into novels, broadsides, ballads, opera, and melodrama - even into puppet shows and performing dog acts. Detective fiction and the new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other - the founders of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens’s Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell. In this meticulously researched and engrossing book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder, both famous and obscure: from Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancee around town by omnibus, to Burke and Hare’s body-snatching business in Edinburgh; from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, to the tragedy of the murdered Marr family in London’s East End. Through these stories of murder - from the brutal to the pathetic - Flanders builds a rich and multifaceted portrait of Victorian society. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad, and the utterly dangerous, The Invention of Murder is both a mesmerizing tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable. - St. Martin’s Press

 

-read more-

Book Review: Garden Princess

Garden Princess - Kristin Kladstrup

Book: Garden Princess

 

Author: Kristin Kladstrup

 

Genre: Children’s Fiction/Fantasy/Royalty/Life Lessons

 

Summary: Princess Adela has always been more than a little unconventional. She would rather work in her garden than find a husband - much to her step-mother’s dismay - and Adela’s version of happily ever after involves traveling the world and collecting rare plant specimens. So when the opportunity arises to attend a garden party thrown by Lady Hortensia, whose beauty is rumored to be rivaled only by the loveliness of her gardens, Adela cannot resist inviting herself, even if it means wearing a too-tight dress and impractical shoes. But the moment Adela sets eyes on Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom - in the middle of October! Not only that, but a talking magpie is stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that magic is involved? Can Adela get to the root of the mystery before it’s too late? - Candlewick Press, 2013.

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Perfume Collector

The Perfume Collector - Kathleen Tessaro

Book: The Perfume Collector

 

Author: Kathleen Tessaro

 

Genre: Fiction/Paris/Perfumer/Inheritance/Two Time Lines

 

Summary: London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her - and perhaps never will. Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey. So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London. But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be. Illuminating the lives and challenging themes of two fascinating women, The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope. - HarperCollins, 2013.

 

-read more-

Book Review: Behind the Scenes at Boston Ballet

Behind the Scenes at Boston Ballet - Christine Temin, Wally Gilbert

Book: Behind the Scenes at Boston Ballet

 

Author: Christine Temin

 

Genre: Non-Fiction/Dance/Ballet

 

Summary: In 1958, a determined suburban dance teacher founded the New England Civic Ballet. Today, that company is known as Boston Ballet - a company that has faced head-on challenges of remaining true to its mission while attracting the audiences and financial support necessary to maintain live performances by these dedicated artists. For centuries, ballet companies have transported audiences beyond the workaday world, one performance at a time. Someone who sees a ballerina perform beautifully in Swan Lake may be impressed, but many who appreciate ballet remain unacquainted with all the logistics of sets, people, and money that must come together for a world-class company to complete a season of performances. Beyond the glare of lights onstage lives a world of physical trainers and fund-raisers, artistic directors and executive boards, and endlessly rehearsing dancers and musicians, all laboring to create memorable performances that inspire, thrill, and entertain. In its relatively short history, Boston Ballet has faced charges of racism; cases of dancer anorexia; a young dancer’s death; and the precipitous, publicly embarrassing departures of one director and one director-elect. The real story, though, lies not in these occasional public incidents but in the daily challenges of preparing and performing a repertory that spans almost two centuries, from La Sylphide (1836) to world premieres created specifically for the company. Boston Ballet’s story highlights the tremendous amount of work and energy applied to each show before the curtain can be raised. In this unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the life of a company, former Boston Globe dance critic Christine Temin and photographer Wally Gilbert present a compelling portrait of Boston Ballet. Their evocative prose and penetrating photography turn the spotlight on all the elements - from toe shoes and costumes to rehearsals and revenue - that come together (or fall apart) in a season. - University Press of Florida, 2009.

 

-read more-

Book Review: The Chaos of Stars

The Chaos of Stars - Kiersten White

Book: The Chaos of Stars

 

Author: Kiersten White

 

Genre: Teen Fiction/Mythology/Romance/Coming of Age

 

Summary: Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up. Of course, when you’re the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that comes with the territory. Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she’s offered the chance to move thousands of miles away, she jumps on it. But as much as Isadora tries to keep her new world and old world apart, she quickly realizes there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. - HarperTeen, 2013.

 

-read more-

Currently reading

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