Greetings From Layered Pages

Hello Fellow Readers and Artists,

I hope this letter finds you well and you’ve had a lovely and productive week. My hours have been filled with writing, reading, studying, new art projects and reflection. I have many exciting posts to share with you all in the coming weeks and months.

I did complete my index card art challenge a few days ago. However, I am not featuring them this week after all. Next week I will be sharing the remaining cards I created with a picture(s) of the entire collection (100 cards) as well.

If you haven’t already, please, take the time to read at my posts from earlier on this week. I want to wish you all a lovely and blessed weekend.

I leave you with a quote from Charles Dickens.

“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”    

Regards,

Stephanie Hopkins

Forming Positive Reading Habits

Many of you might have noticed that I have been posting on social media lately about my reading goals and how to achieve them. As well as discussing a little about wanting a better system to organize my notes on the books I read. In a nut shell, I’m wanting to create better reading habits. Let’s get into this…

Creating habits can be daunting and a struggle in many ways. I believe it varies from person to person. Some say it takes 30 to 60 days to form a habit. Of course, in order to change or create a habit, one must discern their thought process and implement self-discipline. Also, that entails getting rid of bad habits. Psychology plays a central role in this.  

I’ve looked at my reading habits-or lack of-in a number of ways. A hundred books in a year or a book per week for a hundred weeks appeals to me but is it doable with my schedule? Let’s back up a moment. I used to easily read eight physical books a month, or sometimes a book in two days. Those days have been long gone for a while now.

Keep in mind that I’m not considering a number for reading for the sake of how many books I can read in a short period of time. To me that defeats the purpose of reading overall and there is no value in that. I’m wanting to challenge myself because I miss the reading habits I once had and I’ve noticed a vast difference-in several areas in my life- from the lack of…

I will admit I was having a burn-out phase, it lasted longer than I thought it would, but it wasn’t for the lack of interest in reading in itself. The reasons are personal and I know many would understand that.

I decided before I chose a challenge to work with, I needed to form better reading habits and to enhance my knowledge on certain themes of story-telling in the genres I typically don’t read. I have done so and it is working. What am I doing for form my new reading habits? Below is what I’m practicing at the moment to create new habits that is sustainable.

  1. Read a few pages in the morning.
  2. Read at lunch time.
  3. Read a bit after dinner.
  4. Settle for the evening an hour or so before bedtime and read.
  5. On weekends I do this plus add in more reading time during the day. Especially on Sundays’.
  6. Forming the habit to take a book with me whenever I go! You would be surprised how many more pages you can sneak in during the week just by doing that.
  7. Taking better notes.

Is this working? Yes! I am pleasantly surprised with how this new schedule has made a positive impact on my outlook of daily reading.

Now let’s get into what I’ve decided my new reading challenge will be. I’m going to work towards completing a books per week. I do read a couple or more books at a time. If I complete more than a book per week, that will be great! However, I’m not going to stress about it. Completing a book per week in my current state is doable and a challenge that won’t be overwhelming.

The next posts related to this topic will be about why reading is important, my note taking process and how I want to organize my thoughts in a Bullet journal for 2021. Other topics include, how to become a better book reviewer. (Not going to deny it, my writing has been lazy in several areas and it is time to change that.) As I discuss these topics, I will include others that relates to confidence building, tips about finding the right book and other pertinent subjects that you might find useful.

My expectation is to encourage meaningful reading habits to everyone. Or if you are not a reader, to consider becoming one. I attest that you will enrich your life in many ways you would have never thought possible.

Stephanie Hopkins

Book Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Description

The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:
They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

My thoughts:

First, I must mention that I chose this story for two reasons. The story takes place in Sweden. Perfect setting for a story such as this. How do I know? I’ve never visited the country but I have studied enough about it to know. The other reason is that I am obsessed with old abandoned towns, cemeteries, mills and homes. That is the history lover in me, one might say. Or that fact that I am always curious about how even ordinary people lived and the traces they leave behind. Having said that, everyone has a story to tell. No one is ordinary in my opinion.

This book had me hooked in the beginning stages of the story. The author set the stage with the creep vibe as soon as Alice and her crew were approaching the village. The center of the town alone…wow.

I love the period the author chose for the village people to have disappeared. Not only that but this story brilliantly highlights close knit communities, and how people are easily led.

I highly recommend reading this book and discovering-for yourself-the mysteries surrounding this hauntingly atmospheric read.

I rated this book five stars!

Stephanie Hopkins

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

A Christmas Carol Murder (A Dickens of a Crime) by Heather Redmond

Book Spotlight: This story sounds fascinating! I love a good mystery. Love the cover! Keeping a sharp eye on this one. -Stephanie Hopkins

The latest novel from Heather Redmond’s acclaimed mystery series finds young Charles Dickens suspecting a miser of pushing his partner out a window, but his fiancée Kate Hogarth takes a more charitable view of the old man’s innocence . . .
 
London, December 1835: Charles and Kate are out with friends and family for a chilly night of caroling and good cheer. But their blood truly runs cold when their singing is interrupted by a body plummeting from an upper window of a house. They soon learn the dead man at their feet, his neck strangely wrapped in chains, is Jacob Harley, the business partner of the resident of the house, an unpleasant codger who owns a counting house, one Emmanuel Screws.
 
Ever the journalist, Charles dedicates himself to discovering who’s behind the diabolical defenestration. But before he can investigate further, Harley’s corpse is stolen. Following that, Charles is visited in his quarters by what appears to be Harley’s ghost—or is it merely Charles’s overwrought imagination? He continues to suspect Emmanuel, the same penurious penny pincher who denied his father a loan years ago, but Kate insists the old man is too weak to heave a body out a window. Their mutual affection and admiration can accommodate a difference of opinion, but matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of an infant orphan. Charles must find the child a home while solving a murder, to ensure that the next one in chains is the guilty party . . .

Two in One Talk About Books

Today I’m doing a two in one post about titles that stand out to me and a cover crush. I know. Usual for Layered Pages but fun! When browsing books to choose to read, one can’t help but be drawn in by unique books titles. There are times I feel that the title alone is what draws my interest and want to discover its meaning. Strong titles are important to the story as are the cover designs.

Several of these books could easily be my cover crush choice but I need to pick just one for today. Hmm… I’m going to go with, “The Venice Sketchbook” by Rhys Bowen. I love the blend of colors and the romantic feel to the landscape. The title immediately caught my attention because of the mention of a sketchbook. That word alone draws in intrigue, stories, imagery, a window to the owner’s mind and secrets captured on paper. I obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley and I can’t wait to dive into the story!

About the book:

The Venice Sketchbook

Lake Union Publishing

Pub Date 13 Apr 2021

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.

Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper…Venice. Caroline’s quest: to scatter Juliet “Lettie” Browning’s ashes in the city she loved and to unlock the mysteries stored away for more than sixty years.

It’s 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it’s a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it’s poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they’re forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever.

Key by key, Lettie’s life of impossible love, loss, and courage unfolds. It’s one that Caroline can now make right again as her own journey of self-discovery begins.

*********

Other titles that stand-out and in the coming weeks I will be talking a bit about why I’m interested in them. Each title is linked to Amazon.

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

A Betting Woman (A Novel of Madame Moustache)

by Jenni L. Walsh

The Straits of Treachery by Richard Hopton

Be sure to follow and check out more of my art at my Instagram!

before the second sleep cover crush

Stephanie Hopkins

Images may be subjected to copyright. In order to use art images or any content on Layered Pages platform, please ask permission from Stephanie Hopkins

Index Card Challenge: Part 14

The Index Card Art Challenge 2020 is going by so fast! Today, I’m sharing part 14 of this challenge which entails days 88-95. This challenge is just about completed!

Most of the materials I am using for these cards are my painted collage papers I make on a regular basis. I’m also using magazine clippings and images from old books for collage. As well as Tim Holtz and other artists ephemera you can purchase online or at craft stores.  Many of these cards will be used for my 2021 Journals. Others I want to either frame for make another art piece out of them using the collage method.

The images with three cards (Day 92) was a special series I painted inspired on a morning stroll from the previous day. I had taken lots of photos of landscapes, beautiful shrubbery and wanted to use colors I saw depicting our walk. The colors are so vibrant! Really pleased how they turned out and they have given me inspiration for other art pieces. They would look fantastic in frames!

There are several challenge days you can choose for this challenge and I chose 100 days. Check out Part 13 post in this challenge HERE, where I include more details of this art adventure.

Be sure to follow and check out more of my art at my Instagram!

Stephanie Hopkins

Images may be subjected to copyright. In order to use art images or any content on Layered Pages platform, please ask permission from Stephanie Hopkins

Art in Motion

This post is the first in a series that will explore confidence in your art, expectations, encouragement and finding your style in creating your own master piece.  Today I’m discussing about when you get stuck on a piece and you’re not sure how break down that barrier.

Don’t force the process. If you’re not feeling it, take a step back and examine what you’ve created thus far. Or come back to your piece at a later time. You’ll be amazed when stepping back builds your self confidence in what you are creating. People tend to give up too easily and throw out their art piece and give up. Don’t fall into that trap.

When you come back to it, put aside expectations and enjoy the journey of each layer you add to your art. Be in the present of mind and never doubt the outcome. You’ll learn and grow with each piece of art you create. -Stephanie Hopkins

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