Friday, March 24, 2017

The Opium-Eater by David Morrell

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: October 21, 2016

Thomas De Quincey--the central character of Morrell's acclaimed Victorian mysteries, Murder as a Fine Art and Inspector of the Dead--was one of the most notorious and brilliant literary personalities of the 1800s. His infamous Confessions of an English Opium-Eater made history as the first book about drug dependency. He invented the word "subconscious" and anticipated Freud's psychoanalytic theories by more than a half century. His blood-soaked essays and stories influenced Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes. But at the core of his literary success lies a terrible tragedy. In this special-edition novella, based on real-life events, Morrell shares De Quincey's story of a horrific snowstorm in which a mother and father died and their six children were trapped in the mountains of England's Lake District. Even more gripping is what happened after. This is the true tale of how Thomas De Quincey became the Opium-Eater, brought to life by award-winning storyteller David Morrell.

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David Morrell's Thomas De Quincey series is one of my favorites. Murder as a Fine Art and Inspector of the Dead blew me away, but I didn't realize the series included a novella until I went looking for book three, Ruler of the Night. I'm not sure how I missed the publication of The Opium-Eater, but I couldn't resist snagging a copy for my personal library.

At only sixty-seven pages, the piece is hardly intimidating, but the content itself is nothing short of brilliant. Those new to the series get a taste of the style and tone of the larger volumes, while established fans get to satisfy their curiosity by learning what makes Thomas De Quincey tick. 

Dark and emotional, The Opium-Eater packs a powerful punch and fleshes out Morrell's enigmatic antihero. Complete with photos, the volume also gives singular insight to the world De Quincey knew and memories he couldn't escape. 

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“There’s no such thing as forgetting, but perhaps I can force wretched memories into submission if I confront them.”
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Boy of My Heart by Marie Leighton

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Open Library
Read: August 10, 2016

A mother's remembrances of the son she lost in WWI. Published anonymously, Boy of My Heart was penned by prolific romance novelist Marie Connor Leighton after the death of her son Roland Leighton, the British poet and soldier portrayed in Vera Brittan's best seller Testament of Youth.

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Roland Leighton
My taste in movies mirrors my taste in literature so it should come as no surprise that when I manage to catch a film, it's inevitably a period piece. In this case, the film was Testament of Youth and since I couldn't get my hands on a copy of Vera Brittain's memoir, I settled for Boy of My Heart by Marie Leighton.

Written after the death of Leighton's beloved son, the book is an intensely sentimental tribute that can only be described as over-the-top. The style and tone are in keeping with the trends of the day, but to modern eyes the verbiage is excessively flowery and overdone. I understand the emotion behind it, but I personally had trouble staying engaged in the text.

I wouldn't say the book much genuine detail about Roland, but it does offer interesting insight to his mother and the grief experienced by a generation of parents who watched the war take their children before their time.

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"But is he wholly mine? Is there there somebody else who wants him even though he is hardly more than a boy? There floats before my eyes the vision of a girl: a small, delicate-faced creature with amethystine eyes, who is dreaming dreams that have got him for their centre. What a forcing power for sex this war has been, and is!"
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Cover Crush: Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Heather Webb & Hazel Gaynor

We all know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in today's increasingly competitive market, a memorable jacket can make or break sales.

I am not a professional, but I am a consumer and much as I loath admitting it, jacket design is one of the first things I notice when browsing the shelves at Goodreads and Amazon. My love of cover art is what inspired Cover Crush, a weekly post dedicated to those prints that have captured my attention and/or piqued my interest. Enjoy!

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I'm a sucker for jackets with a vintage feel which is awesome because I'm a die hard World War fiction fan. The red accents pack a punch against the sepia tones of the backdrop and the end result is nothing short of eyecatching. 

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Did this week's cover catch your eye? Do you have an opinion you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

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Heather at The Maiden's Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired


Wishlist Reads: March 2017

Like many readers, my TBR grows faster than it shrinks. I find a subject that interests me and titles start piling up one right after the other. With so many bookmarked, I thought it'd be fun to sort through and feature five titles a month here at Flashlight Commentary. 

This month's theme was inspired by the movie Parkland which I decided to rent after reading Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon by Larry Tye. The movie is based on Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi which I'm trying to track down as we speak, but the events of November 22, 1963 are on my mind and I figured it make a interesting if intense topic for this month's wishlist. 

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During the reading of her mother’s will, Sheila Baker discovers that she has inherited everything her parents ever possessed, including their secrets. A mysterious safe deposit box key leads her to the answers to one of history’s greatest conspiracies: who killed John F. Kennedy? Not only does she have the missing film, revealing her mother as the infamous babushka lady, but she has proof that there was more than one shooter.

On the run from people who would stop at nothing to keep secrets buried, Shelia turns to billionaire sleuth Jason Hammond for help. Having lost his own family in a tragic plane crash, Jason knows a thing or two about running from the past. With a target on their backs, can Jason uncover the truth in time, or will this shooter finally make their mark?






O! Jackie explores the private life of Jackie Kennedy, her heartbreaking struggles, difficult relationships, and deep desire to end JFK's wandering ways. As a faithful wife devoted to an unfaithful husband, Jackie knew humiliation well. Living in the public eye intensified her disgrace. Through the years, Jack Kennedy's lustful escapades grew in carelessness and frquency. When his trysts with Marilyn Monroe threaten to become public, Jackie must decide how far she'll go to save the presidency and her marriage.






In "one of the most deliciously high-concept thrillers imaginable" (The New Yorker) a young JFK travels to Europe on a secret mission for President Roosevelt

It’s the spring of 1939, and the prospect of war in Europe looms large. The United States has no intelligence service. In Washington, D.C., President Franklin Roosevelt may run for an unprecedented third term and needs someone he can trust to find out what the Nazis are up to. His choice: John F. Kennedy.

It’s a surprising selection. At twenty-two, Jack Kennedy is the attractive but unpromising second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt’s ambassador to Britain (and occasional political adversary). But when Jack decides to travel through Europe to gather research for his Harvard senior thesis, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to use him as his personal spy. The president’s goal: to stop the flow of German money that has been flooding the United States to buy the 1940 election—an election that Adolf Hitler intends Roosevelt lose.

In a deft mosaic of fact and fiction, Francine Mathews has written a gripping espionage tale that explores what might have happened when a young Jack Kennedy is let loose in Europe as the world careens toward war. A potent combination of history and storytelling, Jack 1939 is a sexy, entertaining read.




On November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit that was his favorite. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon where a young seamstress, an Irish immigrant named Kate, worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits. 

While the two never met, Kate knew every tuck and pleat needed to create the illusion of the First Lady's perfection. When the pink suit became emblematic, Kate's already fragile world--divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her insular neighborhood--threatened to rip apart.

Moving from the back rooms of Chez Ninon to the steps of Air Force One, The Pink Suit is an enchanting, unforgettable novel about hope and heartbreak, and what became of the American Dream.




Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.


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INTERESTED IN MORE WISHLISTS?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Heather at The Maiden's Court