Manic Monday and Weekend Mystery

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As we all know Mondays can be pretty manic and generally I look forward to Mondays nonetheless. This past weekend, Georgia had its first snow of the year-more like snow turned to ice-and left many trapped indoors for an entire two days. I’m not complaining though, it was a great time to catch up on shows, movies, format blog posts, drink lots of tea and talk with friends via social media about books. Alas, no reading for me. I know. I’m shocked myself. Let me explain why. Book reviewers can often go through a reading funk. Having so many books to get through and often times feeling like you are reading much of the same stuff, one can get frustrated. Well, that is me at the moment. Okay, I have to admit it’s been increasingly getting to a boiling point with me and so far the books I have selected and read this year has not been a good beginning for the new year. I have three books to write a review for that I was less than satisfied with. My main complaint with these stories is that there is no depth to the characters and not enough back ground information to really get to know them. One must get to know the character in order to sympathize and relate to them. Furthermore, the plots were weak and contrived.

With that said, I even wish agents and publishers would accept more stories with male protagonists. I’m also tired of seeing stereotypical characters. More so in the male roles. Another thing that concerns me is that the market to think that women just want to read about other women and their issues. It’s time for some changes. Yes, I said it and feel relieved to finally express my feelings about this. Agents and publishers, if you are reading this, I hope you take this into consideration. When a female author pitches a story to you with a male protagonist, please accept it! I can confirm I am not alone with this. Many of my fellow book bloggers and friends are right there with me.

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Having feeling this way and wanting to find something to get out of my reading funk; I then asked my friends, co-bloggers and author friends for some mystery titles with male protagonist. I posted this request on my Facebook wall. In the HNS Facebook Group and on twitter. The recommendations came flooding in and what great conversations it made! Soon I will be sharing those titles with you. I am currently arranging them in a file and formatting the post. I might do a series of them. Be sure to be on the lookout for that! I am really hoping this will get me out of my reading funk. We will see. Ha!

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Today I have lots of blogging things to do! I have a ton of interview questions to get out, answering emails, book promoting, draft two book reviews and turn them in. This doesn’t include all my other responsibilities that I have today…Whew! Here is hoping to a productive day! I know many of you can relate! More on my thoughts as a reader coming in the near future. Stay tuned.

Have a wonderful bookish week and be sure to come back every day this week to Layered Pages for some great posts!

Take a look and follow these amazing book bloggers! They do a tremendous job in supporting authors and books.

Flashlight Commentary

The Maiden’s Court

A Bookaholic Swede

A Literary Vacation

Let Them Read Books

2 Kids and Tired Books

Celticlady’s Reviews

A Bookish Affair

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages! Hop on ever to check out my post on a readers’s voice over at my BlogSpot

Stephanie M. Hopkins

One Reader’s Voice Out Loud

Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Cover Crush: The Den of Iniquity by Anabelle Bryant

 

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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.

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Pub Date 11 Jan 2017/ HQ Digital

Welcome to the most notorious address in London…

Beneath the airs and graces of the Ton lies The Underworld – London’s most scandalous gambling hall.

The only thing darker and more debauched that the hall itself? The proprietor, Max Sinclair. As mysterious as the corners of the city he stalks, Max has vowed to take revenge against the men who murdered his mother. And The Underworld attracts London’s darkest characters – the perfect partners in crime.

But when Lady Vivienne Beaumont enters The Underworld, Max’s life becomes more dangerous than he ever thought possible.

Enter a world of lust, lawlessness and obsession with The Den of Iniquity, the first in Anabelle Bryant’s Bastards of London series.

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I obtained an eARC (Advance Readers Copy) of The Den of Iniquity through NetGalley. The cover is the first thing about this book that caught my attention. I really like the font of the title and the title itself. The woman’s red dress really makes it pop. The colors and the overall layout is nicely done. Looking forward to reading the story soon!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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More Great Cover Crushes!

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Be sure to check out her current cover crush 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 -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

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Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Book Review: A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

a-twist-in-time-iiFormer FBI agent Kendra Donovan’s attempts to return to the twenty-first century have failed, leaving her stuck at Aldridge Castle in 1815. And her problems have just begun: in London, the Duke of Aldridge’s nephew Alec—Kendra’s confidante and lover—has come under suspicion for murdering his former mistress, Lady Dover, who was found viciously stabbed with a stiletto, her face carved up in a bizarre and brutal way.

Lady Dover had plenty of secrets, and her past wasn’t quite what she’d made it out to be. Nor is it entirely in the past—which becomes frighteningly clear when a crime lord emerges from London’s seamy underbelly to threaten Alec. Joining forces with Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly, Kendra must navigate the treacherous nineteenth century while she picks through the strands of Lady Dover’s life.

As the noose tightens around Alec’s neck, Kendra will do anything to save him, including following every twist and turn through London’s glittering ballrooms, where deception is the norm—and any attempt to uncover the truth will get someone killed.

My Thoughts:

I am really fascinated in time-travel stories. Alas, often times they do not appeal to me. However, McElwain’s Kendra Donavan’s time travel is convincing and vivid. In A Murder in Time, FBI Agent Kendra has a disastrous raid where many members of her team is murdered and she uncovers a mole in the agency. She flees from the assassin and is pulled back in time…to the early nineteenth century. Then things from there get really interesting….

I was so delighted when the second book, A Twist in Time was available for reviewers to pick up. I was anxiously waiting to read about Kendra and the supporting characters again. What a wonderful cast of mixed characters.  I love the central story-line and how the characters face the challenges together in solving the crime. There are also class distinctions in the story and I found that story-line intertwined intriguingly and blends perfectly with the main plot.

In England during that time there was no real police force in place. Only a loose network of constables, magistrates, sheriffs, bailiffs, bow street runners and watchmen. Then there was the class system-as I mentioned above-that made questioning peers and their servants about on-going investigations and murder difficult. People seemed to be appalled that a peer could commit such a heinous act. That is brilliantly told in this story.

I believe the plot came together nicely and there was strong character development. Which is vital in storytelling. The profanity is lesser in this book than the first and I was appreciative of that fact.

I do recommend reading the first book before diving into this one. I rated this book four stars and I do hope there will be another Kendra Donavon story.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Be sure to read my review of A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

My interview with the author, Julie McElwain about A Murder in Time

Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Layered Pages Top Reads: 2016

I was a bit conflicted how I was going to compile this list. Should I just post about five star ratings or post about my top books for three to five star ratings? I read a little over ninety books in 2016. Today I thought I would share my top five star ratings and four star ratings. This does not include the non-fictions books I’ve read. That is for another post. This list is in no particular order except for Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris. Best book I read for 2016. If you would like to know my thoughts on each book, please click on the title and it will take you to my review. Last year was another great year of wonderful reads and I am looking forward to what is to come for 2017! Enjoy!

Five Star Rating:

good-time-coming-iiGood Time Coming by C.S. Harris

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins

SAWBONES by Melissa Lenhardt

The Secret Life of Winnie Cox: Slavery, Forbidden Love and Tragedy by Sharon Maas

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard -Review still to come

Four Star Rating:

in-the-shadowsIn the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-Review still to come

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

time-of-fog-and-fire-cook-coverTime of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

Hold My Heart by Esther M. Soto

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and please be sure to come back tomorrow!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Weekend Shenanigans & Manic Monday

me-iiAs we all know Mondays can be pretty manic and generally I look forward to Monday’s nonetheless. This weekend was mighty interesting…not just because it was a start of a new year but because of seeing some people’s thoughts on 2016 and seeing authors speaking out against a person and how they feel his book should be censored or what they consider his speech “hate”. I have very strong feelings about censoring books and what people call “hate speech” because they don’t agree with you. That word is misused and abused often.

Anyhow, I’ve got some interesting and thought-provoking articles I’ve written coming to Layered Pages soon. The premise pertains to American History and what many call, The American Civil War. I’ve also come up with some new ideas about other posts. They involve our constitutional rights and freedoms-such as reading and writing what one strongly believes in and whether it should be censored or not by government or anyone for that matter. This is something I feel very passionate about because my love of books and the freedoms we have today can easily be taken from us and we know it happens. It is a reality in many countries.

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By limiting or denying freedom of speech and expression, we take away a lot of potential. We take away thoughts and ideas before they even have the opportunity to hatch. We build a world around negatives – you can’t say, think, or do this or that. -Jill McCorkle

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Now that I have gotten that off my chest, let’s talk books!

I sort-of lost my reading mojo this weekend by reading two books back to back that were not good in my opinion. I am really hoping to get back into the swing of things this week. Meanwhile, I want to share with you a few books I recently acquired on NetGalley to review: Here is hoping to better reads!

the-night-markThe Night Mark

From Tiffany Reisz, the international bestselling storyteller behind The Bourbon Thief and The Original Sinners series, comes an enthralling new novel about a woman swept away by the tides who awakens to find herself in 1921, reunited with the husband she’s been mourning for four years. Fans of Kate Morton and Diana Gabaldon will fall in love with the mystery, romance and beauty of an isolated South Carolina lighthouse, where a power greater than love works its magic.

hunter-of-sherwood-hoodHunter of Sherwood: Hood

It’s Guy of Gisburne’s final stand against a killer and fraud: Robin Hood.

The vendetta with Robin Hood has cost too much: blood shed, lives lost, friendships severed. Guy of Gisburne, knight and agent of the crown, has had enough, and wishes to enjoy a little quiet on his own land. But Hood grows ever more troublesome, and if the barons of the North will not convince Guy to resume the hunt – nor even the rightful King Richard, returned from long imprisonment – then perhaps the simple plea of a missing daughter’s father, and a promise to restore a good man’s name, will.

Hood has gathered an army: the insidious Friar Took, the giant John Lyttel, the cutthroat Scarlet Will, the brilliant and unhinged Alan O’Doyle, among others. Guy will need an army of his own: the redoubtable de Rosseley, the deadly Lady Mélisande, the resourceful Asif ibn Salah, even Guy’s former enemy, the ferocious Tancred… and his old friend and squire, Galfrid.

The stage is set: Sherwood, long a home to both men. The final confrontation begins…

the-girls-next-doorThe Girls Next Door

One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.
Six months after the stabbing of sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’s life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

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If you are looking for great books that have been vetted, check out indieBRAG. It is their mission is to discover talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction across a wide range of genres; however, they selectively consider non-fiction books as well.
https://www.bragmedallion.com/

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Be sure to check out and follow these amazing book bloggers! They do a tremendous job in supporting authors and books.

Flashlight Commentary

The Maiden’s Court

A Bookaholic Swede

A Literary Vacation

Let Them Read Books

2 Kids and Tired Books

Celticlady’s Reviews

Reading the Past

A Bookish Affair

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and please be sure to come back tomorrow!

Stephanie M. Hopkins