Book Review: Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

mr-rochesterA gorgeous, deft literary retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved Jane Eyre–through the eyes of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself.

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My Thoughts:

The Bronte sisters have always been a bit of a fascination to me since my late teens. Charlotte in particular after reading Jane Eyre for the first time so many years ago. There is also the fact that 19th Century Gothic Classics tend to be my forte-if you will. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre evokes those Gothic themes many readers love. One can’t be help be drawn to the gloominess and the elements of the English moors, the troubling events unfolding, or the hauntingly beautiful and mysterious Thornfield Hall. The raw emotions of romance, madness, and tortured feelings brings you even closer to the realization of a person’s soul.

After having read Jane Eyre several times over the years I still wondered about so many things. When Mr. Rochester came along I was hoping some of those things would be answered. Like what was Edward Rochester life like as a child and young adult and how did his upbringing shape him into the man we see in Jane Eyre? I wanted to further explore the relationship between Bertha Mason and Rochester. I firmly believe her story of insanity and wretchedness plays a pivotal role in the outcome of Jane Eyre. Does Shoemaker give the reader a better understanding of those important details in her story, Mr. Rochester? What is it convincing enough?

The story starts with Edward Rochester’s early life at Thornfield Hall. Though it is not expanded on, Edward’s mother died giving birth to him, his father indifferent to him and his brother’s unkindness shows his childhood was lonely and neglected at best. At least that is what I got from the brief telling of it. As he got a little older he was entrusted to the care of Mr. Lincoln for his education until the age of thirteen when his father felt he was old enough to learn more of the world. Mr. John Wilson of Maysbeck then took him under his care and Edward soon discovers the education he was to receive from Wilson was not what he thought. You see, Edwards father had plans for him that was not the tradition route for a second son during the era and his class. From there things did get rather interesting at times but I felt Edwards characterization could have been stronger. I don’t feel you get to really know him and it seems like he is doing more telling of his surroundings and what everyone’s else is doing. As he got older and I read about his relationship with Bertha Mason and Jane Eyre, I felt disjointed with the portrayal Shoemakers gives. His upbringing in this story did not convince me of why he became the man he was in Jane Eyre.

There were a lot of miss opportunities in this story. The scenes and Edward’s interaction with the characters didn’t exactly drive the plot and left me feeling dissatisfied with the overall story.

I am not sure I would readily recommend this story to my fellow enthusiasts of the classics. Having said that, I applauded Shoemakers’ efforts in creating Rochester’s early life and despite my shrewd analysis above I respect the authors’ endeavor.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

*I obtained a copy of this book from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review*

Cover Crush: Friday On My Mind by Nicci French

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

friday-on-my-mindPENGUIN GROUP Penguin

Penguin Books

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 04 Oct 2016

In Nicci’s French’s thrilling fifth book, London psychotherapist Frieda Klein herself becomes the prime suspect in a murder

A bloated corpse turns up in the Thames, throat slashed, and the only clue is a hospital wristband reading Dr. F. Klein. Frieda is taken to see the body and realizes with horror that it is Sandy, her ex-boyfriend. She’s certain that the killer is Dean Reeve—the man who has never stopped haunting her. But the police think he has been dead for years, and Frieda is their number one suspect. With few options, Frieda goes on the run to save herself and try to uncover the truth.

Praise for the Frieda Klein Mystery series:
 
“Fierce, fascinating, and full of insight, Frieda Klein is irresistible.” Val McDermid, bestselling author of Splinter the Silence

“Sophisticated, gripping, addictive. Crime novels that stand head and shoulders above the competition.” Sophie Hannah, bestselling author of Woman with a Secret
 
“Complex psychological suspense at its best.” Booklist (starred review)

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I can so relate to the title and the picture of the woman taking a stroll with I’m sure is her in deep thought about Friday to come…

What dangers could she face? Could Frieda be faced with a crime she did not commit?

Great cover and atmospheric. I’ve added this to my reading pile. Looking forward to it.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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More Great Cover Crushes!

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Latest Cover Crush by Flashlight Commentary HERE 

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Interview with Award Winning Author Liv Hadden

liv-hadden-bragI’d like to welcome Award Winning Author and Debut novelist Liv Hadden to Layered Pages today. Liv has been writing ever since she was a little girl. But, it wasn’t until 5th grade when her teacher said she’d one day write a book that she started taking it seriously. Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. After a brief, yet impactful first night of writing, she dreamt of a shadowy figure, tormented and demonized by their own mind and realized this was the shadow of pain that hurting people everywhere felt. She woke from her dream feeling more energized that she had in months, picked up her computer and began to write. “I felt if ever there was a story inside me and a character worth taking the leap, it was Shame and this story,” says Hadden. “This one in particular is personal in nature, and perhaps the very reason it’s so close to my heart.” Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management. She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas. Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions, like music, body art, dance and photography. “I get chills when I have the great privilege of seeing someone express their authentic selves,” says Hadden. “I believe it gives us a true glimpse into the souls of others.

Thank you for chatting with me today, Liv. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I was doing some reading online about reputable awards for indie novels and indieBRAG was listed in several places. When I visited the site and saw the medallion books, I knew I wanted my novel to show up there!

Tell me a little about In he Mind of Revenge and your inspiration for it.

In the Mind of Revenge is an intimate look into how monsters are born. The narrative follows an assault victim’s destructive journey to revenge, and how thin the line is between retribution and wrongdoing. I got the inspiration while I was dealing with depression in college. I had written a page about how I was feeling right before bed, which turned into a dream about the embodiment of my shame. The main character is named Shame because of that dream.

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What is an example of Shame’s vulnerability?

Shame has a big weak spot for their childhood love, Cassie. Shame’s relentless pursuit of Cassie causes Shame to get into trouble and hurt other people they come to care about along the way.

How are your monsters influenced by their setting?

Shame’s transformation into a monster is a direct result of the bullying they experienced and societal norms that didn’t allow for Shame to be as Shame was. Once Shame is in Baltimore, they’re at the mercy of a city and people they don’t know, which is basically how Shame meets some good friends and enemies.

How would your characters describe you?

I think Shame would find my eternal optimism annoying, but I might get away without too much incident because of my wit; I am always happy to participate in banter. Juice Box would probably say I’m boring since I stay inside all the time and my adventures are very organized, but he would like that I laugh at all his jokes and idiosyncrasies. Anna would consider me a civilian and wouldn’t give me a second glance. Of everyone, I think Emma would like me most. I think she’d say I’m caring, funny, and ambitious.

Who are your influences?

Every story I consume, no matter the medium, influences me. Even just my friends who are great at sharing a story inspire me or get me thinking. If I’m forced to name a few recognizable characters, I’d say Stieg Larson influenced the darkness in this novel; James Patterson influences my work ethic and sense of drama; Maya Angelou keeps me motivated and authentic; J.K. Rowling keeps me dreaming and influences the way I shape my secondary characters.

What is your writing process and how much time during the day do you write?

Well, my process is in the middle of an evolution as I grow as an author. I used to just write as it came, but now I am finding adding a bit more discipline to my process will create stronger plots and more intriguing characters. That is especially true when writing a sequel since I’ve set up all these rules for myself—I need to make sure I follow them for continuity and to maintain the integrity of the story. Basically, I’m creating flexible outlines and getting a feel for the end goal instead of just discovery writing. I have my own web design business, so I don’t write every day. I’d say I write fiction at least 5-8 hours a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on my schedule. But, I create and write content every day for work; even if it’s not a novel, all writing makes you better!

Who designed your book cover?

The designer at Ebook Launch did, and I love it. Would definitely recommend them to other indie authors.

What are you currently working on?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi manuscript called CROSSFADE. Then I’ll be building a detailed outline for the second installment in The Shamed series, which I am getting really excited about!

Where can readers buy your books?

Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Indie Bound, and I am excited to say Audible!

Liv Hadden’s Website

goodreads | facebook | twitter | instagram

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Liv Hadden who is the author of, IN THE MIND OF RENVEGE, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, IN THE MIND OF REVENGE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

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Praise for In the Mind of Revenge

 

“If a cat has nine lives, Shame has 29. Liv Hadden leaves us in the dark as to whether this

character is a girl or a boy. As Shame often muses, why is gender that important? It’s

reflecting on issues like gender that makes In the Mind of Revenge more than just a rather

exciting read.” – Reader’s Favorite

“A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely

complicated.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In the Mind of Revenge tackles hot-button social issues in a way that forces the reader to rethink the

importance of what society deems as normal.” – Self-Publishing Review

“An absorbing crime story…” – Blue Ink Reviews

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Full Book Description:

Mine is a tale of pain, hate, lies, murder, injustice, vengeance, and love unreturned.

It began much like yours; a hopeful innocent born to a world of endless possibilities. But my journey has rarely been paved with opportunities of light. Confronted by those who sought to eclipse what light I had found, the darkness came for me. Wrapped in its intoxicating embrace, I have risen from the dead to reclaim my dignity and the life that was taken from me. I have begun my journey into the mind of revenge. Revenge for me. Revenge for those like me. Those who are shamed.

This is a story for the shamed, by the shamed. The question is, are you ready for it?

In the Mind of Revenge, book one of The Shamed Series, takes a deep look at how monsters are born.

Set in a society that glorifies “normal” and demonizes different, this dark tale takes its readers on an emotionally wild ride of vengeance, murder, pain and desperation. Though the reader is warned by its main character, Shame, not to develop an attachment, the first person narrative combined with Shame’s uninhibited vulnerability makes it nearly impossible not to do so. Raw, vivid, honest, fast-paced and beautifully vulgar, In the Mind of Revenge is sure to have you emotionally twisted from beginning to end.

The Life of Theseus

amalia-carosella-iiI’d like to welcome Amalia Carosella to layered Pages today to talk with me about Theseus. Amalia graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too).

 Who is Theseus?

By the time we meet Theseus in HELEN OF SPARTA, he’s a well-established king and hero of Attica and Athens, a champion of Athena. His days of adventuring and raiding are behind him, and he is focused on maintaining the prosperity of his people, which in the past, he had put at risk – for example, when he made Antiope his wife and brought war with the Amazons to Athens. Naturally when he meets Helen, and she asks him for help, it puts him in conflict with his desire to keep the peace he’s worked so hard and long to build for Athens and Attica, but so does the war Helen warns him is coming if he does not help her…

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Theseus believes in Justice and Honor – he’s known for it. And this is a strength and a weakness for him, because any appeals to him on that front are likely to force his hand. He cannot ignore a call for help, if that person has been wronged. He also loves fiercely. His friends, his children, his wives, his people. All of which can be turned into leverage to manipulate him – though because he is a hero and a king, his power to protect those that he loves prevents all but the strongest threats from becoming problematic. Mostly, this results in a very healthy respect for the gods, who have used his love for his family to humble him repeatedly. But he can be caged by his own sense of honor, too, and manipulated by it – even by his closest friends.

What are his habits?

As a youth, he loved to raid – this was a well-respected and expected hobby for a young man of his stature, along with training in the arts of sword, spear, chariot-driving, and war in general. But perhaps because of his power and position in his later years, his greatest habit is restraint. Theseus knows when to make use of blunt force, and when diplomacy is the stronger tool. He knows, too, when to resort to deception, and who to call upon for help when a task is beyond his personal ability to accomplish. He is a man who knows when to delegate and isn’t afraid of dissenting voices. He’s also generally always happy to help his friends and makes it a point of honor to repay them for their help and service in his own times of need.

theseus
Theseus 

What are the emotional triggers of Theseus and how does he act on them?

As stated above, Theseus loves fiercely. He is most sensitive to matters of betrayal and disloyalty, particularly in his romantic relationships during his later years, after the death of his son, Hippolytus and his wife, Phaedra. As a result of those losses, he is that much more protective of his remaining sons, and because of the role the gods played in the whole affair, he’s also deeply pious, in the hopes that he might prevent the loss of the children and loved ones he has left. He feels, to some degree, that he has been cursed in love – that the gods themselves do not love him, and that this makes him a danger to those he loves.

What do you find most fascinating about him?

Everything. Theseus is a bundle of contradictions – not our standard Bronze Age Hero at all. He protects the weak, including slaves, seems to honor women even as he womanizes, is credited for bringing democracy to Athens as a king, and ultimately causes his own self-destruction by helping his best friend to attempt to steal a goddess for a wife. He makes mistakes, and he repeatedly loses everything – from his father, to his wives, to his son, to his entire kingdom, but he picks himself back up and makes lemonade out of lemons over and over again – until he can’t any longer, anyway. One of the thing I love most though, might be his bromance with Pirithous. Pirithous is SUCH a pirate, he’s a typical Bronze Age raider and so irreverent. In some ways, it makes him a perfect best friend/blood brother to Theseus. Kind of an opposites attract situation. And writing them both together in HELEN OF SPARTA and in TAMER OF HORSES was so much fun!

For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

Amalia on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter here and here.

Theseus: Source- Wikimedia Commons/Wonders of sculpture HERE

A Tribute To Martin Luther King Jr.

Normally my post today would be called, Manic Monday. As we all know Mondays can be pretty manic and generally I look forward to Mondays nonetheless. Today marks an important time in our American History. Its Martin Luther King Jr Day. I wanted to post a tribute and honor to Him. I have always admired and respected King. He is an inspiration to everyone. If you do not know much about him, I highly recommend you look into his life and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. In the United States Public Schools, His speech, “I Have A Dream” is widely known. You may read that powerful and profound speech HERE.

Here is a book he wrote called, “Strength to Love” that I promise you will find life changing.

strenght-to-love-by-dr-king-jr

“If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is Strength to Love.”

So wrote Coretta Scott King. She continued: “I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life. That insight, luminously conveyed in this classic text, here presented in a new and attractive edition, hints at the personal transformation at the root of social justice: ” By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils.”

In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jails and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint today for Christian discipleship as it was then. 

Individual readers, as well as church groups and students will find in this work a challenging yet energizing vision of God and redemptive love.

Bio:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was among the twentieth century’s most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in U.S. history, King also authored several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, and Why We Can’t Wait. His speeches, sermons, and writings are inspirational and timeless. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968

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Many thanks and gratitude, Martin Luther King. Our world still needs and should follow your shining example of strength, vision, love, peace, moral compass and philosophy of life.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

the-girl-on-the-train-by-s-j-boltonEVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My Thoughts:

Psychological thrillers give you a deeper look into the human mind and the actions of people who are tested to their mental limits and the unthinkable lengths they go to. They feel their motivations and actions are justified in some sick, dark twisted way. Much of this is explored in this story.

Rachel is a pitiful, lonely, sad and a heartbroken woman who is dependent on alcohol. As the story builds you see her losing control or what is perceived as her losing control. People who have personal experience with alcoholics know their minds play tricks on them and they are often times delusional, paranoid and display erratic behavior. They lose sense of what is real and what is not.  Their vision of reality is obscured with their brain saturated with alcohol-if you will. The author of this story portrayed this with detailed imagery and clarity. Which perfectly built tension in the most extraordinary way.

With the twist and turns in the plot, you feel yourself being swept up in the dysfunctionality of the character’s inner struggles, outer turmoil and their actions. When you think you have the plot figured out, there is a surprisingly new development -although I did have my suspicions as I began to see a pattern forming. The story does keeps a reader on edge at all times and the need to keep reading to find out what happens next.

I have to admit when I first started reading this story, I was a bit hesitate to finish it. I was afraid the alternating point of views would be too distracting due to the dark complexity of the content but I quickly adapted. I didn’t feel any sort of sympathy towards the characters except for Megan. Although her life was a deeply disturbed one and she was no innocent, you couldn’t help feel sorry for her. She did not deserve her fate.

If I had read this type of story two and a half years ago, I probably would have given it two stars. Not because it wasn’t well written but because of its darkness and utter depressive story-line. I think one has to be in a right set of mind to jump into this one. I was prepared to hate it right away but glad I picked it up when I did and stuck it out and gave the subject matter consideration.

I have rated this book four stars.

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Inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. I read this book last year as a buddy read with a few fellow book reviewers. I needed to write my thoughts about the story but I had put it in the back of my mind. I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to go with it. The months passed and I had forgotten about it. Writing reviews lately has been tough for me. This could be for several reasons. One is my disappointment in the market and two is this year has not been a great start of reading for me.

Last night, I was in my bedroom sorting clothes and thinking of an old friend’s drinking problem and then my mind turns to a train sounding it’s horn we often here outside our neighborhood. How strange to be thinking of those two things back to back and at that time. Then it hit me, I haven’t written my review for The Girl on The Train and I know exactly what I want to write! Ha! Strange isn’t it?

Those life moments and circumstances can give you unlikely inspiration at the oldest times…

Stephanie M. Hopkins

*This story has certainly given many different attitudes towards it and different perspectives. Below is a couple of fellow book bloggers opinions.

A Literary Vacation’s review HERE

2 Kids and Tired Book’s review HERE

 

 

The Mistress of Bedlam is the 9th Robert Young of Newbiggin Mysteries by Stuart S. Laing

I’d like to take this opportunity to congrats Stuart S. Laing on his newly released story of his 9th Robert Young of Newbiggin Mysteries. His stories take you back to another time and draws you into the dark streets of Edinburgh, a city not immune to its murderous intrigues and shady taverns. Stuart tells me this is story is a darker tale than some but not without lighter moments, and even the hope of a happier future for some of those who find themselves caught in snares not of their own making…

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the-mistress-of-bedlam

“Who can judge who is truly mad, when even the doctors are insane?”

Edinburgh

August 1746

Behind the high walls of Edinburgh’s Bethlem Hospital, the mad, the bad and the dangerous are kept safely locked away from the public gaze, unless, of course, the public are prepared to pay for the thrill of viewing these unfortunate, insane souls in the human menagerie they call Bedlam.

For some though, these tours are not thrilling enough, and for a select few there is the possibility to visit long after the public have departed. These men have the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the patients if they have the nerve, and the money, to risk tasting the grimmest of forbidden fruits.

One such private tour ends in blood and terror; a doctor is found murdered and his patient escaped into the filth choked streets of the night.

Robert Young of Newbiggin, private investigator to the wealthy, finds himself being drawn into the mystery to identify the person responsible for the doctor’s death and, in doing so, discovers that there are uglier truths to be unearthed than he could ever have imagined possible.

From the horrific truth behind a young woman, abandoned and alone in a foreign land, to the darkest of family secrets, Robert and Captain Travers of the Town Guard, must venture deep into the closed world of a Georgian asylum, a hospital where casual cruelty and abuse are considered normal, and kindness is frowned upon. Only here, in this man-made hell can they hope to find the killer before they strike again.

Now Available in Amazon Stores:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Twitter: @FifeRover

Character in Motion-Two Sides of a Coin

stuart-laing

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife, Stuart Laing grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie. He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spent most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him. Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history, he always finds himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters. He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.