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: 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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Book Review: The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

The Secret Daughter of the Tsar - Jennifer Laam

Book: The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

 

Author: Jennifer Laam

 

Genre: Historical Fiction/Russian History

 

Summary: In her riveting debut, Jennifer Laam seamlessly braids together the stories of three women: Veronica, Lena, and Charlotte. Veronica, an aspiring historian living in present-day Los Angeles, meets a mysterious man who may be heir to the Russian throne. As she sets about investigating the legitimacy of his claim through a winding path of romance and deception, the ghosts of her own past begin to haunt her. Lena, a servant in the imperial court of 1902, is approached by the desperate Empress Alexandria. After conceiving four daughters, the empress is determined to sire a son and believes Lena can help her. Once elevated to the Romanovs' treacherous inner circle, Lena finds herself under the watchful eye of the meddling Dowager Empress Marie. Charlotte, a former ballerina living in World War II-era occupied Paris, receives a surprise visit from a German officer. Determined to protect her son from the Nazis, Charlotte escapes the city, but not before learning that the officer's interest in her stems from his long-standing obsession with the fate of the Russian monarchy. As Veronica's passion intensifies, and her search for the true heir to the throne takes a dangerous turn, readers learn just how these three vastly different women are connected. The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is thrilling from its first intense moments until its final, unexpected conclusion. -St. Martin's Griffin, 2013

 

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Book Review: Entwined

Entwined - Heather Dixon

Book: Entwined

 

Author: Heather Dixon 

 

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Fairy-tale Retelling/Family

 

Summary: Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her - beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing - it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.- Greenwillow Books, 2011.

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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

 

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Book Review: Atonement

Atonement - Ian McEwan

Book: Atonement

 

Author: Ian McEwan

 

Genre: Fiction/Family/Love/World War II/Forgiveness

 

Summary: Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness combines all the satisfaction of a superb narrative with the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose. On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses the flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century. -Anchor Books, 2001.

 

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Book Review: Shadows on the Nile

Shadows on the Nile - Kate Furnivall

Book: Shadows on the Nile

 

Author: Kate Furnivall

 

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/20th Century Britain/Egypt/Family Stories

 

Summary: 1912, London, Jessie Kenton hears her young brother, Georgie, scream in the middle of the night and wakes up the next morning to find him gone. Her parents never speak of him again. 1932. Twenty years later, Jessie is haunted by the same nightmare. Her other brother, Timothy, has inexplicably vanished from her parents’ home. Wracked by guilt because of her failure to ever find Georgie, and convinced that the two events must be related, she sets out on a quest to find Timothy. She plunges into a mysterious world of seances and mystics, nebulous clues and Egyptian artifacts. With the help of a dashing and impoverished aristocrat, Sir Montague Chamford, Jessie follows the trail into the alien, swirling sands of the Egyptian desert. Amid the ancient intrigue and blistering heat, a powerful romance sparks between Jessie and Monty. But they must first confront the demons of Jessie’s past - and reveal the dark secrets that threaten not only Timothy’s life but theirs as well. -Penguin, 2013.

 

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Book Review: Blackmoore

Blackmoore - Julianne Donaldson

Book: Blackmoore

 

Author: Julianne Donaldson

 

Genre: Historical Romance

 

Summary: Kate Worthington knows she can never marry the man she loves, so she plans to travel to India instead - if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured - and rejected - three proposals. Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore, determined to fulfill her end of the bargain. There she enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. In the wild, windswept countryside near the coast of northern England, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free? Set in the 1820s, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the captivating story of a young woman struggling to learn to follow her heart. - Shadow Mountain, 2013.

 

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Currently reading

The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman