Bookish Happenings: Summer Reading

me-iiMy reading is going a bit slow this week so far. I am still reading books from last week and I did not post a review last week like I said I would. However, I will get through the books I started two weeks ago and get to the ones below next. I am determined to knock out my summer reading list. These three books below I just acquired on NetGalley to read and review for the publishers and I am looking forward to reading them very soon.

Tomorrow I have a cover crush-which I am looking forward to sharing with you all. On Friday I have a guest author visiting Layered Pages and on Saturday I should have a review ready to post and I have an article I have been working on that will be posted as well. Very busy as you can see. I hope you add these books below to your reading pile! Enjoy!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by LISA WINGATE

Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Pub Date 06 Jun 2017

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aitken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

The Property of Lies (A 1930s_ historical mystery) by Marjorie EcclesThe Property of Lies (A 1930s’ historical mystery) by Marjorie Eccles

Severn House

Pub Date 01 Sep 2017

DI Herbert Reardon is drawn into a world of secrets and lies when a body is discovered at a girls’ boarding school. 

1930. When a body is discovered on the premises of the newly-established Maxstead Court School for Girls, Detective Inspector Herbert Reardon is called in to investigate. His wife Ellen having just accepted a job as French teacher, Reardon is alarmed to find the school a hotbed of scandalous secrets, suppressed passions, petty jealousies and wanton schoolgirl cruelty. As he pursues his enquiries, it becomes clear that the dead woman was not who – or what – she claimed to be. Who was she really – and why is Reardon convinced that more than one member of staff is not telling him the whole truth?

Then a pupil goes missing – and the case takes a disturbing new twist …

The Vengeance of MothersThe Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus

St. Martin’s Press

Pub Date 12 Sep 2017

9 March 1876

My name is Meggie Kelly and I take up this pencil with my twin sister, Susie. We have nothing left, less than nothing. The village of our People has been destroyed. Empty of human feeling, half-dead ourselves, all that remains of us intact are hearts turned to stone. We curse the U.S. government, we curse the Army, we curse the savagery of mankind, white and Indian alike. We curse God in his heaven. Do not underestimate the power of a mother’s vengeance…

So begins the journal of Margaret Kelly, a woman who participated in the government’s “Brides for Indians” program in 1873, a program whose conceit was that the way to peace between the United States and the Cheyenne Nation was for One Thousand White Women to be given as brides in exchange for three hundred horses. Mostly fallen women, the brides themselves thought it was simply a chance at freedom. But many fell in love with the Cheyennes spouses and had children with them…and became Cheyenne themselves.

THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS explores what happens to the bonds between wives and husbands, children and mothers, when society sees them as “unspeakable.” Jim Fergus brings to light a time and place and fills it with unforgettable characters who live and breathe with a passion we can relate to even today.

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Interview with Award Winning Author Pete Tarsi

Pete Tarsi

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Pete Tarsi today to talk with me about his young adult book, Flipping the Scaleswrites books that he hopes his daughters will enjoy. Two down, and so far, so good.

Pete graduated from MIT with a degree in Creative Writing and Physics, and he considers himself fortunate that he gets to do both. When he’s not writing, he can be found teaching high school science, directing theatre, or spending time with his three lovely daughters. He grew up in a small town north of Boston and still lives in Massachusetts.

Pete, how did you get into writing Young Adult books?

I’ve been a high school teacher for over twenty years at a school that has a short silent reading period every day. I often ask my students what they’re reading, and some of the stories they like sounded interesting, so I started reading them. I find the plots and themes easier and more fun to relate to because they’re often universal–everyone is a teenager at one point. And I find the characters more compelling because teens aren’t fully formed yet, so they make mistakes, but in good YA fiction, they learn from them. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I’m around teens daily, writing YA books just made sense.

Tell me about your book, Flipping the Scales?

Meredith and Marina’s lives have been flipped upside down.

When the translucent skirt that straight-A-student Meredith finds hidden on the beach gets wet, it transforms her legs into a mermaid tail. Despite the evidence in front of her, she insists that becoming a mythical creature isn’t scientifically possible.

Marina is allowed to experience one day per moon cycle among the humans. After hiding her tail on the beach that morning, she takes her first timid steps on land. When she returns at sunset to find it missing, she is left stranded and alone.

For the first time in her life, Meredith doesn’t have all the answers. As she searches for a way to return to normal before the next full moon, she makes waves among the school of mermaids. Meanwhile, Marina uncovers information about her past, and for the first time in her life, she must stand on her own two feet and take the lead on her own adventure.

As Meredith senses her human side slipping away, a forbidden way to change back entices her. But it comes with a consequence: Marina wouldn’t be able to return to the ocean.

Flipping the Scales BRAG

How did you come to write this story?

I have three daughters, and they’re big fans of mermaids. I’m a fan of fantasy stories, particularly contemporary fantasy that takes place in the real world with one extraordinary element added. In my case, it’s the existence of mermaids who can venture onto land once a month. I thought it would be fun to take these two characters and put them literally out of their element. No one wants to read a story about someone just going through his/her daily life; we want to read what they do when they’re faced with something unexpected. In this case, what could be more unexpected than turning into a mermaid? Or learning that you’re a mermaid who’s stranded on land with your tail?

Is there a message in your story you want your readers to grasp?

Open your mind. Step out of your comfort zone every now and then to experience new things.

Who was your book cover designer?

The absolutely fabulous Tatiana Vila

If someone were to get into writing young adult stories, what advice would you give them?

Make sure you understand teens. I’m fortunate because I’ve been a high school teacher for over twenty years, so I’m quite familiar with how they talk and behave. I also enlist a couple of them–ones that are good, trustworthy students–beta read my books, specifically with the intent of telling me where I have teen-speak and attitudes correct or not. Make sure to have teen characters that are smart and can make mistakes, but don’t treat them the way adults often incorrectly interpret them.

How long did it take to work on your story and publish it?

I wrote the first draft of this story in a month and a half during the summer of 2013, while I was participating in Camp NaNoWriMo that July. After revising it, I spent about a year querying literary agents, trying to go the traditionally published route. Though a few agents replied favorably–giving positive comments about the characters, dialogue, and the mysterious set-up in the first chapter–I was told that stories about mermaids were a tough sell at the time. After that year, I explored self-publishing options, and in November 2014, the book was available.

 What was your writing process for this story?

I had the story’s main idea about a girl and a mermaid switching places for a few years before I started writing. A friend of mine was participating in NaNoWriMo that summer and coerced me to do it with her so we could motivate each other. At the start of that month, all I had was the basic premise; I really wasn’t sure who the characters were or where the story would end, but I started anyway. I figured that if I gave them some basic personality traits that were exactly opposite the situation they’d find themselves in, it would be more interesting. So Meredith (the girl) is scientifically inclined and not one to believe she could become a fantastic creature, and Marina (the mermaid) was timid about visiting land. I was able to write the first few chapters up to and shortly after their switch, but I still wasn’t sure of the ending.

Then one night, about a week or so later, I woke up in the middle of the night with the ending of the book. I spent a few hours plotting all the events that would need to happen to build to that ending. I typically don’t write without knowing my ending, but this book was an exception to help my friend. Once I had it all plotted, the writing was fast and easy.

The book has dual protagonists who are separated most of the time, and their halves of the story are told mostly in alternating chapters. I’d write three or four with one character, then write three or four with the other, and then I assembled the story. After it was done, I let some trusted friends read it to give me revision advice. I still do that now, but my pool of beta readers has expanded to include other indie writers that I’ve since networked with.

What is up next for you?

I published the sequel, Skipping the Scales, in July 2016, and I’m currently working on the final part of the trilogy, Tripping the Scales. Beyond that, I have many projects in various stages of completion.

Where can readers purchase your book?

Paperback and eBook editions can be purchased at

AmazonBarnes & NobleApple iStoreKobo

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Pete Tarsi who is the author of, FLIPPING THE SCALES, 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, FLIPPING THE SCALES, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member

 

 

Cover Crush: Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener

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 stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

Strangers in Budapest IIStrangers in Budapest

November 14th 2017 by Algonquin Books

“From the first pages of Strangers in Budapest, the words ‘You must not tell anyone’ made me feel as if a hand had reached out from the shadows to pull me under, and I was swept away inexorably by this hypnotic plot, these dark scenes, relentless tension. This is a riveting, beautiful book.” —Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

Budapest is a city of secrets, a place where everything is opaque and nothing is as it seems. It is to this enigmatic city that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts from her past; for Will, it is a chance to try his wings as an entrepreneur in Hungary’s newly developing economy.

But only a few months after moving there, they receive a secretive request from friends in the US to check up on an old man who also has recently come to Budapest. When they realize that his sole purpose for coming there is to exact revenge on a man whom he is convinced seduced and then murdered his daughter, Will insists they have nothing to do with him. Annie, however, unable to resist anyone she feels may need her help, soon finds herself enmeshed in the old man’s plan, caught up in a scheme that will end with death.

My thoughts:

I obtained a ARC copies through Netgalley from the Publishers to review this book and I am looking forward to reading the story! This cover, the title and premise really stands out to me. I love the font and colors they used for the layout and the over all format is nicely done and appealing to a readers eye. I believe it really sets the tone for the story.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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

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

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

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Wish-List 5: Early American Literature

me-iiAmerican History and Literature is of great importance to me. Right now I’m in the middle of studying extensively the War Between the States but often times in my research I need to go back further than that. Doing so gives me a greater understanding of the creation of our great nation, how our government works, how they evolved and what was in the minds of our early settlers and founders. In today’s society, there are so many Americans who do not know their history and do not know what it means to be an American. For many reasons- I won’t go into today-but I will say much of the blame goes to the public school system and our government. We have become a nation of political correctness and we are erasing our history. In my opinion that shows weakness and cowardliness on our part and should be stopped. On Facebook I shared a quote that says, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know where it is today.” The rest of the quote-by Woodrow Wilson-say’s, “…nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”

Today’s wish-list is one I am actually putting at the top of my reading pile soon. Some of these works I am familiar with and have read a bit of. Alas, it has been years and I would like to refresh my mind with these readings.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

The Works of Anne BradstreetThe Works of Anne Bradstreet (John Harvard Library) by Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet, the first true poet in the American colonies, wrote at a time and in a place where any literary creation was rare and difficult and that of a woman more unusual still. Born in England and brought up in the household of the Earl of Lincoln where her father, Thomas Dudley, was steward, Anne Bradstreet sailed to Massachusetts Bay in 1630, shortly after her marriage at sixteen to Simon Bradstreet. For the next forty years she lived in the New England wilderness, raising a family of eight, combating sickness and hardship, and writing the verse that made her, as the poet Adrienne Rich says in her Foreword to this edition, “the first non-didactic American poet, the first to give an embodiment to American nature, the first in whom personal intention appears to precede Puritan dogma as an impulse to verse.”

All Anne Bradstreet’s extant poetry and prose is published here with modernized spelling and punctuation. This volume reproduces the second edition of “Several Poems,” brought out in Boston in 1678, as well as the contents of a manuscript first printed in 1857. Adrienne Rich’s Foreword offers a sensitive and illuminating critique of Anne Bradstreet both as a person and as a writer, and the Introduction, scholarly notes, and appendices by Jeannine Hensley make this an authoritative edition.

Adrienne Rich observes, “Intellectual intensity among women gave cause for uneasiness” at this period–a fact borne out by the lines in the Prologue to the early poems: “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue/ Who says my hand a needle better fits.” The broad scope of Anne Bradstreet’s own learning and reading is most evident in the literary and historical allusions of “The Tenth Muse,” the first edition of her poems, published in London in 1650. Her later verse and her prose meditations strike a more personal note, however, and reveal both a passionate religious sense and a depth of feeling for her husband, her children, the fears and disappointments she constantly faced, and the consoling power of nature. Imbued with a Puritan striving to turn all events to the glory of God, these writings bear the mark of a woman of strong spirit, charm, delicacy, and wit: in their intimate and meditative quality Anne Bradstreet is established as a poet of sensibility and permanent stature.

American Colonial WritingAmerican Colonial Writing (Essays) by Mary Rowlandson, William Bradford, John Smith, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Morton, Elena Ortells

This anthology features a selection of works written during the first century of English settlement in the colonies of North America. These texts illustrate the extraordinary depth of colonial writing (chronicles, poetry, captivity narratives, etc.) and help us understand the origins and the future of America and Americans.

The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan: Leadership and Literature in Eighteenth-Century Native America by Samson Occom

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah EquianoThe Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself by Olaudah Equiano, Robert J. Allison (Editor)

Widely admired for its vivid accounts of the slave trade, Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography — the first slave narrative to attract a significant readership — reveals many aspects of the eighteenth-century Western world through the experiences of one individual. The second edition reproduces the original London printing, supervised by Equiano in 1789. Robert J. Allison’s introduction, which places Equiano’s narrative in the context of the Atlantic slave trade, has been revised and updated to reflect the heated controversy surrounding Equiano’s birthplace, as well as the latest scholarship on Atlantic history and the history of slavery. Improved pedagogical features include contemporary illustrations with expanded captions and a map showing Equiano’s travels in greater detail. Helpful footnotes provide guidance throughout the eighteenth-century text, and a chronology and an up-to-date bibliography aid students in their study of this thought-provoking narrative.

Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary RowlandsonNarrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson

In February 1676, during King Philip’s War, the frontier village of Lancaster, Massachusetts, was attacked by a party of Nipmuck Indians and completely destroyed. As relief from Concord approached, the attackers withdrew, taking with them 24 captives, including Mrs. Mary Rowlandson and her three children.

For almost three months the little family was forced to live with their captors and endure exposure to a New England winter.The youngest child, who had been injured during the attack, failed to survive. Eventually ransom was paid and the family released.

Mrs. Rowlandson’s account of her experience was published in 1682. It became a”best-seller” of its day and created a new literary genre, the captivity narrative. Such accounts were in part responsible for the mistrust and hatred of the Indians that plagued the country for centuries. It is also the first publication in English by a woman in the New World.

The Puritan DilemmaThe Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Library of American Biography) by Edmund S. Morgan

Caught between the ideals of God s Law and the practical needs of the people, John Winthrop walked a line few could tread. In every aspect of our society today we see the workings of the tension between individual freedom and the demands of authority. Here is the story of the people that brought this idea to our shores: The Puritans. Edmund Morgan relates the hardships and triumphs of the Puritan movement through this vivid account of its most influential leader, John Winthrop. The titles in the Library of American Biography Series make ideal supplements for American History Survey courses or other courses in American history where figures in history are explored. Paperback, brief, and inexpensive, each interpretive biography in this series focuses on a figure whose actions and ideas significantly influenced the course of American history and national life. In addition, each biography relates the life of its subject to the broader themes and developments of the times.”

Here are the wish lists from a few of my friends this month:

Erin @ Flashlight Commentary

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired-coming soon

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Male Protagonist with Award Winning Author Pam Lecky

Pam Lechy

I’d like to welcome Pam Lecky to Layered Pages today to talk with me about her male protagonist in her award winning book, The Bowes Inheritance.

Pam is an Irish historical fiction author and a member of the Historical Novel Society. She has a particular fascination with all things 19th century, from food and clothes to architecture and social history.

Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was published in July 2015 and has since been receiving excellent reviews. She is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion and was recently named as a ‘Discovered Diamond’ Novel. Last year it was short-listed for the Carousel Aware Prize (CAP) 2016 and long-listed for the HNS 2016 Indie Award. It achieved ‘Honourable Mention’ in the General Fiction Category of the London Book Festival Awards.

What is your male Protagonist name and who is he?

His name is Nicholas Maxwell. He is a landowner in his early thirties and is a highly respected local magistrate. When his neighbour, Jack Campbell dies, he sees it as an opportunity to get back Bowes Farm, which his father lost to Campbell in a game of cards. He is not pleased to discover that Jack has left the property to his niece, Louisa Campbell. He hated Campbell for many reasons but was also convinced he was involved in the recent Fenian activity in the north of England. When Louisa turns up to claim her inheritance he is not very pleased and does his best to chase her back to Ireland.

What are His strengths?

He is an honourable man; intelligent and has a sense of humour. He is protective of his family and does his best for them (even when they don’t want his interference!) When he eventually falls for Louisa he tries to do his best for her.

His faults?

Nicholas is quick to anger and holds a grudge. I like to think Louisa’s influence helps him overcome this as their relationship develops.

What is your personal opinion of him?

 I liked him very much. He was easy to write even though he was quite a complex character. I was greatly inspired by Georgette Heyer’s Max Ravancar from Faro’s Daughter; he starts out arrogant and self-assured only to be brought down several notches by love!

Does he ever do anything that surprises you?

 He was probably more forgiving than I would have been in his situation but I can’t tell you more than that as it would give the plot away!!

Synopsis

The Bowes Inheritance

 Romance and Intrigue in late Victorian England

Dublin 1882: When determined but impoverished Louisa Campbell inherits a large estate in the north of England, from an uncle she didn’t even know existed, it appears to be the answer to her prayers. Her younger sister, Eleanor, is gravely ill, and believing that the country air will benefit her, they decide to take up residence at Bowes Farm, situated on the Cumberland coast.

However, they soon realise that all they have inherited is trouble. Their uncle had managed to alienate almost everyone in the area and worst of all, was suspected of being a Fenian activist. His reputation leaves Louisa and Eleanor battling to gain acceptance in polite society, especially with Nicholas Maxwell, their handsome neighbour and local magistrate. His father was cheated out of the farm during a card game fifteen years before and he is determined to get the property back.

Louisa unearths secrets from their family’s past that threaten their future while the spectre of their mysterious benefactor overshadows everything. When a Fenian bombing campaign comes close to home, Louisa finds herself a chief suspect and must fight to clear her name. She must dig deep to find the courage to solve the mysteries that Bowes Farm holds before their lives are destroyed. And most importantly of all, will she be able to finally trust and love the man who is surely her sworn enemy?

Author Website

 

Cover Crush: The Man In The Lighthouse by Erik Valeur

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 stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

The Man in the LighthouseThe Man in the Lighthouse

Pub Date 14 Mar 2017

All his life, Viggo Larssen has been haunted by the same troubling dream, which he calls the Omen—a vision of a woman beckoning to him from the surface of a churning sea. Now, as he broods over his shipwrecked existence in a remote lighthouse off the outermost coast of Denmark, he is about to be borne backward by the current to a past he thought he had escaped forever.

On the Danish mainland, the widowed mother of the nation’s prime minister mysteriously vanishes from her prestigious nursing home. As the police search for clues, evidence mounts that her disappearance is tied to an unsolved crime from Viggo’s childhood. Told through the eyes of multiple characters from Viggo’s old neighborhood, Erik Valeur’s dark, serpentine mystery is a profound meditation on the persistence of memory, the power of dreams, and the secrets we hide from one another—and ourselves.

My Thoughts:

I don’t read a lot of  Scandinavian Literature but I do watch a lot of Scandinavian shows. So when I spotted this story, I thought this would be something to look into. The cover is certainty has a brooding, dark tone feel about it. It shows how at times, the sea can be unforgiving-if you will. Imagine being shipwrecked upon those rocks. This cover is dramatic and I believe fits the premise. Adding this book to my never ending reading pile!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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

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

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Bookish Happenings: Rambling Wednesday

me-iiThis week has been interesting so far. What I mean by that is, I haven’t really had much time for reading but been collecting books and adding new ones to my reading pile. I know I keep saying I will catch up and post reviews soon. “Yeah, right!” Ha! Yes, I will when I get my brain on straight again. Anyhow, my sister is in town this week so at least I can use that excuse right now. We are having a great time! Going to an Atlanta Braves Game this evening in the new Stadium. It’s always good to see her. We are always up to something. We are even planning a big week long beach for the end of September. The whole family is going this time I think. Although we don’t live in Florida anymore, we are Florida Natives and the beaches are calling us yet again. One day I hope to go back. Until then, we visit, a lot. Okay, enough of my ramblings. You could care less. Let’s get down to book business!

I opened my emails this morning like I do everyday morning and discovered I have been approved for another book to review through NetGalley for Penguin Group Publishing. How is it possible that publishers keep sending me books to review when I’m so behind!  I ask myself this often but hey, I’m not stopping them. Keep it rolling publishers! I will catch up one of these days.

Here is what I got this morning. I am really diggin’ the cover.

The Address IIThe Address

A Novel

by Fiona Davis

PENGUIN GROUP Dutton

Dutton

Pub Date 01 Aug 2017

Historical Fiction

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Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility–no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda–Camden’s biological great-granddaughter–will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages–for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City–and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich–and often tragic–as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden–and the woman who killed him–on its head….

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Looks good, right? It has the whole past and present thing going on. As far as what I’m currently reading at the moment, that is slow going but getting there. Enjoy your Wednesday and happy reading! Stay cool. Oh, I almost forget. I’m reading Tennyson this week. I do often when I’m in one of my poetry moods. Which is happening a lot lately. Check out, But Were I Loved.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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