The Latest Reading Agenda

me III

Hi, everyone!

Its been a while since I last blogged on Layered Pages. I wanted to share with you some of the upcoming books I will be reading. I’ve already started, The Space Between. I’m reading this one for review through NetGalley. I’m behind as usual on my reviews. Hoping to knock them out by reading at least one or two of them a month. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot but I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. My next blog post will be about books a dear friend gave me and I am really excited about them and can’t wait to share. This year I am focusing on expanding on the topics/themes I don’t usually read about. Much love to you all. -Stephanie Hopkins

The Space Between IThe Space Between by Dete Meserve -NetGalley Review

The truth isn’t what it seems in this stirring novel of suspense.

After presenting a major scientific breakthrough to a rapt audience across the country, renowned astronomer Sarah Mayfield returns home to a disturbing discovery. Her husband, Ben, a Los Angeles restaurateur, has disappeared, leaving behind an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. The only answers their son, Zack, can offer are the last words his father said to him: keep the doors locked and set the alarm.

Sarah’s marriage was more troubled than anyone suspected, but now she is afraid that her husband’s recent past could be darker than she dares to admit. Suspecting that nothing about Ben’s vanishing is what it seems, Sarah must delve into the space between old memories, newfound fears, and misleading clues to piece together the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and find what she hopes in her heart is the truth.

The Lies We ToldThe Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The highly acclaimed author of Watching Edie returns with a new novel of dark psychological suspense that explores how those closest to us have the most to hide…

When Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, disappears, everyone believes that he’s left her, but Clara thinks she knows the truth. Recent evidence suggests that Luke had a stalker, and Clara worries that he’s been kidnapped. Then Luke’s older sister, Emily, who vanished twenty years ago, suddenly reappears.

Emily wants to help Clara with her search for Luke, but she refuses to talk about what happened–even though it nearly destroyed her family when she vanished. And the deeper Clara digs into Luke’s mysterious disappearance, the more convinced she is that the two incidents are connected.

Forgotten Bones by Vivian BarzForgotten Bones by Vivian Barz

An unlikely pair teams up to investigate a brutal murder in a haunting thriller that walks the line between reality and impossibility.

When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started.

Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in.

Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?

The Soul’s Code by James HillmanThe Soul’s Code by James Hillman

Plato and the Greeks called it “daimon,” the Romans “genius,” the Christians “guardian angel.” Today we use the terms heart, spirit, and soul. To James Hillman, the acknowledged intellectual source for Thomas Moore’s bestselling sensation Care of the Soul, it is the central and guiding force of his utterly compelling “acorn theory” in which each life is formed by a unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak’s destiny is written in the tiny acorn.

In this new look at age-old themes, Hillman provides a radical, frequently amusing, and highly accessible path to realization through an extensive array of examples. He urges his readers to discover the “blueprints” particular to their own individual lives, certain that there is more to life than can be explained by genetics or environment. As he says, “We need a fresh way of looking at the importance of our lives.”

What The Soul’s Code offers is an inspirational, positive approach to life, a way of seeing, and a way of recovering what has been lost of our intrinsic selves.

 

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The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Another St, Martin Press book I got approved to review through Netgalley from St. Martin Press! Goodness! I didn’t think I would be sent a copy…I am so behind on reviews. Its been tough focusing on reading lately but I am determined to get back on track. I started reading this one last night and although for me it didn’t start off with a bang, I’m curious about the story so far… -Stephanie M. Hopkins 

The Long CallPub Date 03 Sep 2019  

Description

From Ann Cleeves—bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—comes the first in a gripping new series.

“Ann Cleeves is one of my favorite mystery writers.”—Louise Penny

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.

 

Update: Daring Greatly

Me IIThe other day ago I posted a blog post about Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown and I shared that most of my self-help studies and inspirational living comes from the Bible. I continued to write, “That doesn’t mean that I dismiss what others have to say about how we live, human conditions, shame, courage and understanding of oneself. What I like most about Browns work is she gives us all something to connect too.” The statement I made has weighed on my mind ever since in several ways. One being that I am a Christian and the Bible-especially in Galatians-warns us against human works. Though Brown isn’t preaching the Gospel in her message, I couldn’t help but pause after I posted my blog post. I feel I spoke unwisely and in a secular manner. I still believe she is a good motivator speaker and has studied human conditions in-depth. I do not know her religious or spiritual views so I can not judge her in that context-if you will. 


Dr. Brené Brown gives us a lot of great advice and she argues that “Vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.” She would be right but I would like to take it a step further and say that as Christians, we should put our trust in God to help us in all ways, study His word daily and pray. God gives us the tools to better ourselves in our daily walk with Him.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Daring Greatly

I discovered Dr. Brené Brown on Netflix. As much as I love to read, I was surprised I had not heard of her work or motivational speeches before. Though I must confess most of my self-help studies and inspirational living comes from the Bible but that doesn’t mean that I dismiss what others have to say about how we live, human conditions, shame, courage, understanding of oneself and the understanding of others. What I like most about Browns work is she gives us all something to connect too. I would be surprised to hear if there was anyone out there who could not relate to her message. I would like to encourage you all to read her book and watch her talk-The Call to Courage-on Netflix.

I’ve been studying Roosevelt’s life of late and was pleasantly surprised when she quoted him. Brown went up another notch in my good opinion of her.

-Stephanie M Hopkins

Daring GreatlyAbout Daring Greatly:

Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.

Signs Of A Book Addict

When you have a Barnes & Noble Gift Card and you are browsing the B&N shelves trying to remember if you already have that book in your home library…. Yeah, that’s me. Or you have so many books in your NetGalley shelf, you can’t remember if you’ve reviewed the book. These are all signs of a book addict I must confess.

I decided to take a chance on three books I wasn’t sure I already had. They are down below and I’m really looking forward to reading them!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Whispering in FrenchWhispering in French by Sophia Nash

Published August 1st 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Home is the last place Kate expected to find herself…

As a child, Kate Hamilton was packed off each summer to her grandfather’s ivy-covered villa in southern France. That ancestral home, named Marthe Marie, is now crumbling, and it falls to Kate—regarded as the most responsible and practical member of her family—to return to the rugged, beautiful seaside region to confront her grandfather’s debts and convince him to sell.

Kate makes her living as a psychologist and life coach, but her own life is in as much disarray as Marthe Marie. Her marriage has ended, and she’s convinced that she has failed her teen aged daughter, Lily, in unforgivable ways. While delving into colorful family history and the consequences of her own choices, Kate reluctantly agrees to provide coaching to Major Edward Soames, a British military officer suffering with post-traumatic stress. Breaking through his shell, and dealing with idiosyncratic locals intent on viewing her as an Americanized outsider, will give Kate new insight into who—and where—she wants to be. The answers will prove as surprising as the secrets that reside in the centuries-old villa.

Witty and sophisticated, rich in history and culture, Sophia Nash’s novel vividly evokes both its idyllic French setting and the universal themes of self-forgiveness and rebuilding in a story as touching as it is wise.

All Is Not ForgottenAll is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Published July 18th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

A Piece of the WorldA Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Published February 21st 2017 by William Morrow

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Q&A With Plexus Ambassador Haley Morrison

This year on Layered Pages I decide to expand on the mediums I discuss and feature. Health and fitness are a big part of my life and I am thrilled to be talking with Haley Morrison about her health journey as an Ambassador for Plexus.

Hi, Haley! Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. Please tell me a little about yourself and how you heard about Plexus.

Haley MorrisonHi Stephanie! Thank you so much for your time and interest in finding out more about my story! First off, my name is Haley Morrison and I live in Dallas Georgia. I’m 33 years old, married to be best friend and high school sweetheart, and we have four beautiful children! I heard about Plexus from my cousin Allison, who is an Ambassador with Plexus. She had been taking the products for 3 years and I silently watched her journey on social media. I finally decided to give the products a shot for myself a year and a half ago.

Using Plexus how did it change your health?

Before Plexus, I suffered from debilitating headaches 3-4 times a week which kept me in the bed or on the couch for hours. I also suffered with sleep issues, fatigue, mood swings, high blood pressure, and much more. After a week taking the products, I noticed that I hadn’t had one headache and I was sleeping like a baby each night! In the year and a half that I have been on the products I have noticed more natural energy, all the baby weight is gone, sleep issues are completely gone, headaches are gone, monthly cramping is nonexistent, my skin and hair is healthier, my digestive system is very regular, I have come off my blood pressure medications, I have no more brain fog, and I’m just a happier mama and wife!

When did you decide to become an Ambassador for Plexus and how has your journey been so far?

I became an Ambassador in June of 2017 after watching my cousin for a year. I was very skeptical for that year but after seeing her results and studying the ingredients and company history, I was convinced that Plexus was legit. My only regret was not joining sooner! My journey so far has been absolutely incredible. Outside of my health results, I have gained so many genuine friends who support and build me up. My confidence and self-esteem have risen from the ashes (they were pretty nonexistent due to a previous marriage). I also feel like I have a purpose now. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a stay at mom and wife. My family is my life! I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was meant for more! Helping others feel and look healthy again has definitely become a passion and I wake up every morning looking forward to this little side gig of mine! I have high goals set and I have no doubt in my mind that I will reach them!

How does Plexus stand apart from other health products?

I get asked this question a lot and I LOVE answering it! I 100% believe that there is no comparable company out there. Plexus products stand apart because of quality. The integrity of the ingredients is never compromised to suit the company’s financial agenda. Our mission is to support true health from the inside out with products that are always high quality, safe, and effective. The business opportunity is also like no other! Network marketing companies have gotten a bad rap over the years but I fully believe Plexus can change everyone’s minds! They pour into us so much and their love for their Ambassadors is such a blessing! When you choose to start sharing, you choose your own pace. There are no requirements, no inventory to keep, to parties to host, no obligation at all! It truly is YOUR business. YOUR way.

What is your favorite Plexus Product and what does it do?

Haley Morrison IIOh goodness that is a hard question! I love each and every product for different reasons! If I had to choose, though, I would have to say Slim- our infamous “Pink Drink”! It was originally created for diabetics and is known for its amazing ability to help keep blood sugar, cholesterol, and lipids at healthy levels. Balancing blood sugar helps heart health, helps balance hormones, improves sleep, restores energy levels, reduces inflammation, and reduces sugar cravings! Slim is NOT a diet. Its NOT a meal replacement. It’s NOT a fad. It’s NOT an energy drink. It’s simply a tool to help balance your body in a natural way.

Will you please share a testimony from one of your clients and how the Plexus Products changed their life?

I absolutely love sharing testimonies! Here is one from Lesa MacGregor:

“It started with my seeing posts about the “Pink Drink”. Like most, I was skeptical about a supplement that got the kind of rave reviews from so many. I figured I would research Plexus just to see what the craze was all about. The testimonies blew me away. Fast forward almost 2 years. My cousin kept saying,” If you’ve tried everything else and it’s not working, why not try Plexus? And besides, there is a 60-day money back guarantee. OK. I admit that definitely got my attention. I have suffered with GERD most of my adult life. In 1996 I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus. I’ve had an endoscopy every 2 years since, to monitor the condition. So, I made the decision to try the supplements. At first the detox symptoms made me give up much too soon. You see I was one of those people who wanted instant results. I believe we have become accustomed to that these days. However, my cousin was very concerned about my condition and encouraged me to continue with the products. Is been 2 years that I have been in them and I kick myself for the 2 years I wasted contemplating. As of my most recent upper endoscopy, no Barrett’s Esophagus is present. I also suffered from migraines at least 4 to 5 times a month that would zap me for days. Not another since Plexus. My husband saw how well they worked for me and started taking them as well. His blood-work had never looked so good and his BP improved so much that he is off one of his meds. I am positive he will eventually be off both. The weight loss we both encountered was just a bonus. As grandparents we were ecstatic with the incredible increase in our energy levels. I’ve learned that gut health and most importantly the right supplements make all the difference in your health. We are Plexus people for the duration.”

What is the different products Plexus Sells?

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Plexus has a product line that has something to fit everyone’s health needs. For weight loss we offer: Slim, Hunger Control Slim, Chocolate and Vanilla Whey Replacement called Lean, Mocha Vegetarian Meal Replacement Lean, MetaBurn, Block, Accelerator, and Boost. For Nutrition: BioCleanse, ProBio5 Probiotics, Vitalbiome Probiotics, XFactor Plus multivitamin, XFactor Kids Multi’Probiotic in 1, MegaX Plant based Omegas, Ease capsules, Nerve, and Edge. For personal/skin care: Joyome Day and Overnight Serum, Body Cream, Ease Cream, and the Breast Chek Kit.

How can potential customers learn more about Plexus?

I would be more than happy to arrange a call or message via social media to answer any questions that anyone may have! To view the products and what they have to offer, you can visit my site HERE

I can also be found on Facebook

I can also be found on Instagram at @mamasharkof4

Email: haleymorrison.plexus@gmail.com

 

Characters in Motion: Naamah Carter

Today I am talking with Alfred Woollacott III about his character, “Naamah Carter.” Alfred retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So, he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus, with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

Alfred, why did you choose to write about Naamah?

Naamah_Carter_Young

Naamah continues the planned trilogy, albeit chronologically out of order since her story had to be told. She and her four-greats grandfather John Law the first novel’s protagonist faced similar challenges. Both held shunned Christian beliefs, were forced from their homeland, endured tragic losses, and persevered against prejudice and hostility. In “The Believers in the Crucible Nauvoo” Naamah symbolized the pioneering women of the early LDS church, just as John Law exemplified the Scottish Prisoners of Wars struggles in the Puritan Theocracy of Colonial America. Carol Cornwell Madsen’s book “In Their Own Words” enriched my knowledge about Nauvoo’s women, a story that had to be told.

Delving further, I found some of Joseph Smith’s discourses not dissimilar to my Episcopalian beliefs and broadened my Christian foundation. However, the plural wives principle was an anathema that I had dismissed as justification to institutionalize man’s polygamous tendencies. Yet I continued wondering about Naamah’s perspective. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” provided further insight. Each relationship was unique and multi-faceted as was Naamah’s with Brigham.

What is the mood or tone Naamah portrays and how does this affect the story?

Naamah is a strong, resilient woman of deep faith. She is six-years-old when we first meet her placing flowers on her father’s gravesite in remembrance of his birthday. Her unique name honors her aunt, Naamah Kendall Jenkins, who had died three weeks before her birth. Early in life, Naamah connected to family residing in heaven. Her mother’s death several years later tightened those heavenly bonds. In a larger sense, the Calvinist doctrine of the First Awakening had formed her Christian beliefs and had grown stale. Something was lacking. Joseph Smith’s teachings offered refreshment and a romanticized view of principles she held dear. The Second Awakening gave an offer of hope, salvation, and glory to those who had believed their lives were pre-determined to be ‘sinners in the hand of an angry God. Many still clung to past and persecuted those who followed the teachings of these ‘false prophets’.

What are Naamah’s role in her family and some emotions triggered by it?

Naamah lost her father early and her mother several years later. Being the eldest of three sisters, she assumed a surrogate mother role for her ‘baby sister’ Susan, protecting her from the acid-tongued, narrow-minded, middle sister Betsey. Susan’s relationship with Naamah changed as she matured while Naamah’s did not. Her baby Susan still needed care; she had to stay in Peterborough and not leave with the Saints for Nauvoo. Eventually, she realized that Susan had become her crutch, which caused her to doubt the depth of her faith.

Soon after arriving in Nauvoo, she marries, only to lose her husband a few months later. A month later her beloved Aunt Susan dies and compounds her sense of loss. Now virtually alone and feeling isolated, she longed to return to Peterborough. Her emotions overwhelmed and paralyzed her until two Sisters rekindled her belief in eternal life giving her a path out of her nadir.

What is one of her beliefs as a Christian and how does this affect her life?

Naamah believed in eternal life, and Joseph’s teachings enhanced her understanding of it. He prophesized that we reside in heaven like Jesus did until we are sent to the earthly kingdom. While there, those who believed in Joseph’s prophecy and lived the gospel daily will return to the heavenly kingdom.

Naamah accepted that God spoke through the prophets and came to believe that Joseph was his latest. She dreamed to hear directly from Joseph. She first witnessed Joseph through Brigham as he preached to the faithful in Peterborough. After Joseph’s death, she rationalized that the closest she would come to him while on earth was through Brigham. In Nauvoo, She worked daily with Brigham at the temple doing the Lord’s work. She is torn when he proposed marriage to her. She had been sealed for eternity to another who awaited her in heaven. Brigham was married, and becoming his plural wife ran violated what she held sacred. Yet, through marriage, she would be closer to him, and thus, to God.

How is she influenced by her setting?

A tight-knit Peterborough began unraveling as Joseph Smith obtained a following. Erstwhile friends and family turned from Naamah and her rapidly-growing community of Saints. Many Saints left for Nauvoo while Naamah dawdled. But as Peterborough’s animosity increased, she left, too. Tenfold larger than Peterborough and unified in a belief, Naamah saw Nauvoo as Joseph Smith had promised — God’s earthly kingdom, But over time, Nauvoo grew more hostile and threatening than Peterborough ever had been.

Did she ever have doubts about Joseph Smith’s testaments? 

As her beloved Aunt Susan oft said, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the garden of Gethsemane.” Family ridiculed her, former friends turned from her, the death of loved ones caused her to grieve, hostile surroundings threatened her peace, and the offer of a plural marriage challenged a sacred belief. With each, doubts arose that she eventually overcame when she realized God would be with her . . . always.

Please talk about the courage and strength of Naamah and possibly the isolation?

On her wedding day, Naamah felt as though she was atop an alabaster column that extended to the heavens. As the newlyweds neared Nauvoo’s temple, she said, “Once the temple is completed, we must have our marriage endowed in it.” To which her husband replied, “Once it’s completed, we’ll leave Nauvoo.” “Leave Nauvoo?” She said. “I’ve just arrived here. Why? Why?”

Chip, chip, and cracks appeared in the alabaster. Chip, chip; increasing enmity surrounded Nauvoo, her husband died, and Aunt Susan died, and within months of her marriage, Naamah lay amid the rubble of alabaster. She wallowed in her nadir until uplifted by doing the Lord’s work alongside Brigham made her realize again that God would be with her always.

What are some similarities that a modern-day woman would have with Naamah?

Naamah with sisters wives editted

Naamah with Sisters Wives

Naamah’s challenges were not dissimilar to those women have faced for eternity. But she had fewer options than today’s women. A couple of centuries ago, it was more a ‘Man’s world’ than today. As such, we are less aware of the women’s perspective than we are now. Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” would have been near impossible to publish in the 1800s. Roles are less defined by gender than before, giving women more options and more reasons to question.  Of course, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the Garden of Gethsemane.”, and questions will eventually be answered.

Where can readers buy your book?

Alfred with book resized to 300

Available at Amazon, my website, or directly from me at mv4al@aol.com.

Interview with Alfred about his books HERE