Expected publication: December 7th 2021 by Atria Books
Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.
Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it…he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.
Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.
Pastoral, once a peaceful and reclusive community, with calm order and purpose, becomes sinister and takes “reclusive” to a whole other level. Yes, please! When I came across this book on NetGalley, I had a feeling about it and my thoughts were right on the money.
These days, it is hard to disconnect in more ways than one. Everything is fast-paced and mental illness is on the rise. It is no wonder many people dream about a simpler life. In History of Wild Places, the people seeking this life get more than they are asking for.
One of the main important elements of a story is connecting with the characters. You don’t get that in this story, perhaps because you aren’t given a lot of backstory. That said, there is a reason why and readers will begin to understand that based on the theme of the story.
Ernshaw employs artistic composition in a unique and refreshing way that has you hanging on to every word. Her ability to articulate any situation or surrounding in the story is outstanding. Ernshaw had me hooked with the first line!
As the story unfolded, I began to see clearly how prolonged isolation can be used to manipulate people of the tightknit community and the mind-distorting effects it creates.
I found myself fully immersed in unraveling, along with Theo, Calla and Bee, the dark secrets that keep them locked within the commune.
One aspect I would have liked to have been more developed was the characters’ daily lives and their relationships with each other. It would have made the plot more profound. In regards to the relationships, Bee’s and Levi’s were the only relationship fleshed out. I cannot say much more than that without giving any spoilers.
A great mystery about the disappearance of people, manipulation, a reclusive community brilliantly weaved with atmospheric woods, survival and spooky elements.
I obtained a galley copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.
I must confess that this year I’ve enjoyed listening to books more than I’ve enjoyed reading physical ones. That is not to say that physical books have ceased to be my favorite medium of story-telling. Perhaps, it is because I have been undoubtedly engrossed in my art than ever before and listening seems to be easier while working on art. In fact, I’ve created an incredible number of florals, landscapes and abstract paintings. The journey has and is a worthwhile pursuit of growth and discovery. I digress.
As I said above, I’ve been listening to more books than reading physical ones this year. However, this month was an almost even selection and below are those stories. What books have you read or listened to this month and which ones are your favorite?
Physical Copy: A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.
In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.
But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.
A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.
Physical Copy: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.
Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.
Audio Book: Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder. Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.
A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer
Audio Book: The Unexpected Guestby Agatha Christie
The Unexpected Guest—A foggy night, a lonely country house, and a woman with a gun in her hand quietly surveying the dead body of her husband. It looked like a straightforward case of murder. Or was it? As the ghosts of an old wrong begin to emerge from the past, the case begins to look anything but straightforward.
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
In a manor by the sea, 12 sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there were 12, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last – the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge – and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that her sister’s deaths were no accidents. The girls have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who – or what – are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family – before it claims her next. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.
A big part of my mixed media art adventure is to use all sorts of up-cycled fabrics. I have an endless supply of then and you can get a ton of use out of them. How do you use them in your craft? There are a lot of different ways to use fabrics.
Lately, I have been using my fabric squares and scraps for making journals, notebooks, journal and art tags, artist trading cards, bookmarks, altered playing cards, greeting card making, and collage work. These projects are great for any age, even two-year old’s!
Buying fabrics in retail stores are super expensive and many times the fabrics are only available in yards. Plus, one doesn’t always want to use new materials for these sorts of projects I mentioned above. That is why I have put together different size lots of up-cycled fabric cut offs and scraps bundles for sale at my ebay shop. I will do my best to provide a mix of fabric patterns weekly. All my material is in great shape and I make sure there are no stains, holes, or pilling. I do accept all reasonable offers on the price, so be sure to check out my store weekly!
“History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity.” – Dexter Perkins
Yesterday morning, I posted a page on Instagram I made in my fall journal. The morning air was cool and crisp and the season brings reflections of times past and the people who lived long ago. To ponder their story as what it may have been like. How did they live? What did they witness? We may not always know who they were but the love and opportunity of using their pictures in our journals keeps their existence intact.
Many family’s belongings are lost or discarded and that is sad to say the least. I consider crafters who save these treasures and use them in their journals and their other creations, that give them a new life, memory keepers. By using their images, we are keeping an essence of them alive through their images.
I do not know the lady’s name in the photo I’m using. I can only imagine what her life must have been like. There is a story there.
Today, as I work in another page, I will use another photo and think of the people in the past and wonder what they would think of us today.
Journaling fills one’s soul with gratitude and healing calmness. It’s an appreciation for the old and the newness of life’s journey.
May your Sunday be filled with contentment and peace.
My wish is for you to be encouraged and inspired. God bless.
The products I create and sell are an extension of my love for arts, mixed media, journal making, crafting and books. They are a reflection of my style and how I create.
All products are homemade or gathered and put together by me. The ephemera packs are great for journals, card making, journal cards, bookmarks and other craft projects. If you are not on Instagram and would like to purchase an item you see, please email me at email@example.com and I will reserve your item.
My Instagram LINK or copy and paste @stephsatjourney
You can also find me on ebay where I list almost daily. My shop name on ebay is layeredfinds. I will be adding books and other products soon.
Fabric Pack Information: I’ve got an endless supply of textile material from all sorts of upcycled clothes, scarves, and bedsheets. The materials range from cotton, rayon, polyester, silk, and denim.
I’m working towards each week, adding in new patterns. I can cut fabric swatches up to 12″×12″. Those sizes need to be customized, Contact me for more information about that and if you’re on the lookout for anything in particular.
I use the above mentioned fabrics for my various mixed media projects, including journal covers, pockets, tag making, belly bands, card making, bookmark making, collage work, mixed media art, and blanket making!
Products for Sale this Weekend on Instagram and more to be listed today:
Newly listed products on ebay as of yesterday amd a few more products available
*At this time, I’m only shipping in the United States.
(Images are subjected to copyright. All book reviews, interviews, guest posts, art work, mixed media projects, crafts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie Hopkins.)
A page in my new fall journal I’m currently working in. I’ll show the whole journal once it’s completed. I really enjoyed putting this page together and the bookmark I made for the book. The bookmark is made from an image out of a magazine, scrapbook paper and a piece of left-over fabric.
The journal page is simple with a touch of paper collage, postcard and a authentic 1940s photo of a group of ladies. I’ll add a journal label to the bottom left of the page. The actual page I’m working on is from my 12” x 12” scrap-booking paper stash from the early 2000s and what a great way to use those big sizes of paper! I wonder who those ladies are and what their story is or was.
Journaling fills one’s soul with gratitude and healing calmness. It’s an appreciation for the old and the newness of life’s journey.
Happy crafty Friday!
Stephanie Hopkins Mixed Media Artist/Abstract Painter/Book Maker/Book Blogger
I jumped on the tag train again yesterday and now the sorting begins! There are 72 tags in this batch of goodness. Thrilled with how these turned out. For those of you who don’t know, I sell mini art journal tags on Instagram and other places. They are turning out to be quite popular! I can’t seem to make them fast enough. Love it!
With this batch of tags, there are hand stitching on a couple that will included in each pack. I’ll begin posting them for sale on Instagram at 5:00 pm US Eastern standard time! Stay tune!
I offer a special deal for those of you who buy from me through Instagram.
Deal: Free gifts with each purchase and you’re automatically qualify for an entry of a giveaway I’ll be holding at the end of each month on Instagram. Please Note: I’ll be only keeping items I post each week on IG for one week only before I list them elsewhere and for a slightly different price.
I’ve decided to go ahead and start listing certain products on etsy coming soon. I was hesitating at first with all the fees but I know that is the price for doing business. So, you’ll find items for sale by me on IG, ebay and etsy.
Follow my hashtag on Instagram for my product images at #stephsshopatlayeredfinds You’ll also receive additional points for my giveaway when using this hashtag when posting pictures of items on Instagram you’ve purchased from me.
These mini tags are sturdy and great for arts and craft projects, gift tags, pen pal mail, and journal projects. On the back of each card is room for writing.
My IG: @stephsartjourney or click on direct link HERE
About the Cover: I can’t decide what I like more. The cover or the book title. The thought of an Island of missing trees is unique. I like it! As far as the cover goes, it is not extraordinary but it is cute and I like the colors.
About the Book: I must confess that I haven’t read any books by this author before. I plan on researching her work a bit more extensively and have added this book to my wish-list. I have heard that Reese Witherspoon has selected this book for the November Book Club pick.
Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the roof, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns—a botanist, looking for native species—looking, really, for Defne. The two lovers return to the taverna to take a clipping from the fig tree and smuggle it into their suitcase, bound for London. Years later, the fig tree in the garden is their daughter Ada’s only knowledge of a home she has never visited, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence, and find her place in the world.