I’ve Got My Eye On You

World War II affected every aspect of life worldwide and one couldn’t possibly learn everything there is to know about the war experience. There are so many extraordinary stories out there that Historical Fiction writers have written on the subject.

There are countless stories about women during the war and their involvement.  While I have read a number of those stories, I have to say that I’m a bit burned out on these novels at present. Having said that, I’ve got my eye on, “The Invisible Woman” by Erika Robuck, and hope to discover material I haven’t come across before.

Where is my current interest in the era, you might ask? I’m captivated with the Medieval Strongholds aka Castles in Germany during World War II and the roles they played. Are there any Historical Fiction books that focus on this very topic? If you know of any, please comment below! -Stephanie Hopkins

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The Invisible WomanThe Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck

Berkley Publishing Group

Historical Fiction

Pub Date 09 Feb 2021

Description

“An extraordinary profile of immense courage and daring.”—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Left Cuba

“If you only read one WWII book this year, make it this one.”—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Orphans

In the depths of war, she would defy the odds to help liberate a nation…a gripping historical novel based on the remarkable true story of World War II heroine Virginia Hall, from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl

France, March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn’t like the other young society women back home in Baltimore—she never wanted the debutante ball or silk gloves. Instead, she traded a safe life for adventure in Europe, and when her beloved second home is thrust into the dark days of war, she leaps in headfirst.

Once she’s recruited as an Allied spy, subverting the Nazis becomes her calling. But even the most cunning agent can be bested, and in wartime trusting the wrong person can prove fatal. Virginia is haunted every day by the betrayal that ravaged her first operation, and will do everything in her power to avenge the brave people she lost.

While her future is anything but certain, this time more than ever Virginia knows that failure is not an option. Especially when she discovers what—and whom—she’s truly protecting.

Cover Crush: The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli

The Cover: Hands down this is a fantastic cover in my opinion. Is it the dress, or sketched house and tree? Or maybe the colors used? The woman sitting in front of a window reading and you can actually see her face? Or the fact the title is named after Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House? All of the above! 

The Story: There are three time-lines to this story. Not sure how I feel about that. Hmm….I will have to think on this. Having said that, the premise sounds really intriguing and it’s set in one of my favorite periods in history. Plus, I love reading about writers. As for the romantic intonations or themes -if you will-I’m wondering just how much of that is weaved into the story.

Stephanie Hopkins

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The Orchid HouseThe Orchard House

by Heidi Chiavaroli

Hardcover, 432 pages

Expected publication: February 9th 2021 by Tyndale House Publishers

Concord, Massachusetts

 

2001

Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865

While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019

After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

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Book Spotlight and Other Things

I came across the book below on NetGalley and while there looks like a lot of sad tones to the premise, the themes sound powerful. I wonder if it will live up to its expectations? Hmm…adding it to my reading pile because I’ve enjoyed Hart’s stories in the past!

My 30-day Mixed Media Art Challenge ended a few days ago and I still need to blog about it. Hoping to this coming Monday. This weekend will be busy and I still need to upload some images to my computer. I look forward to sharing the pieces from that challenge! Have a great Thursday! -Stephanie Hopkins

The UnwillingThe Unwilling by John Hart

St. Martin’s Press

General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 02 Feb 2021

Description

Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.

Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison.

Jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women.

But the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after.

Given his violent history, suspicion turns first to Jason; but when the second woman is kidnapped, the police suspect Gibby, too. Determined to prove Jason innocent, Gibby must avoid the cops and dive deep into his brother’s hidden life, a dark world of heroin, guns and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

What he discovers there is a truth more disturbing than he could have imagined: not just the identity of the killer and the reasons for Tyra’s murder, but the forces that shaped his brother in Vietnam, the reason he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison.

This is crime fiction at its most raw, an exploration of family and the past, of prison and war and the indelible marks they leave.

 

Cover Crush: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the StarsThe background and the image of the pocket watch grabbed my attention. I love textures and the depth it gives the cover.  The premise looks pretty intense and with themes that hit close to home during this time but its important to read about history, humanity and survival.

-Stephanie Hopkins

The Pull of the Stars

by Emma Donoghue

Little, Brown and Company

Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction

Pub Date 21 Jul 2020

Description

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and ROOM

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders — Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In the Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

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Book Review: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

MigrationsMy thoughts:

Franny Stone makes her appearance in Greenland to acquire work on the Saghani. Her motivations are to convince the ship’s captain to track the last of the terns and journey with them on their last Migration. More ways then one, these birds are a symbol of her life in many ways. At least that is what I came away with the story.

As the story unfolds, you begin to realize that Franny’s life is displaced, haunted and she must find the answers of her torment and come to grips with secrets bottled up so tightly, even she has forgotten them.

This story has ceased hold of my heart and it is one I think I will always come back to. While there is great sadness in this story, it is extraordinary and evoking with lyrically told sea life, characterization and captures your attention to wildlife that is threated to extinction.

I can’t remember the last time I have been transported and completely immersed in the characters’ lives. It’s as if the character’s hopes, dreams, longing, plight is your own.

Stephanie Hopkins

I obtained an ARC of Migrations from the Publishers through NetGalley for my honest opinion of the story.

Book Description:

Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by Flatiron Books

Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she so loves begins to disappear; Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his salty, eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.

As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that the beguiling scientist in their midst is not who she seems. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of letters to her husband, and dead set on following the terns at any cost, Franny is full of dark secrets. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.

Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is a shatteringly beautiful ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened. But at its heart, it is about the lengths we will go, to the very edges of the world, for the people we love.

 

 

 

The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier

Shamefully I’ve always assumed that Daphne du Maurier was wildly known for her works, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica Inn without really looking into her other stories. Yesterday, I saw someone mention her book, “The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier.” I quickly jumped on Amazon and goodreads to check it out and have added it to my 2020 to-read list. Most likely I will be listening to the audiobook since I have two credits available and I’m saving my pennies for research books. Anyhow, I can’t wait to get started on this novel! If you read the story, please let me know what you thought. -Stephanie Hopkins

The King's GeneralAbout the Book:

Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless – and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As the English Civil war is waged across the country, Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, and Honor remains true to him.

Decades later, an undaunted Sir Richard, now a general serving King Charles I, finds her. Finally they can share their passion in the ruins of her family’s great estate on the storm-tossed Cornish coast-one last time before being torn apart, never to embrace again.

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

MigrationsI’m currently reading two books right now but this story took front and center in the first page. I spent the better part of the evening-yesterday- reading it and it was a struggle to put it down to sleep. I’m half way through and it’s all I can think about. This story has ceased hold of my heart. It’s the story for the ages and a story that I want to shout from the roof tops about how extraordinary and evoking it is. I can’t remember the last time I have been transported and completely immersed in the characters lives. It’s as if the character’s hopes, dreams, longing, plight is your own. This is the story and the writing I have been waiting for! -Stephanie Hopkins
 
Pub Date 04 Aug 2020
Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.
 
As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that she is full of dark secrets: night terrors, an unsent pile of letters, and an obsession with pursuing the terns at any cost. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.

Be Still My Heart: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Early on in the month I was approved of an (ARC) The Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
from St. Martin Press through NetGalley. My first thoughts were, “How glorious the title was, the premise, Jane Austen, the cover, debut novel, new author I haven’t read, memorable characters, new beginnings, and strong literature. Maybe not all in that order but Jane Austen fans get me. I began my journey back into Jane Austen’s world last night and much to my surprise, even at the early stages of the story, I’m completely and madly in love with the what I’ve read, and a few characters thus far. How can this unknown writer- to me- capture my heart so quickly? These days, it is extremely hard to hold my interest in stories.

I can tell that Jenner knows her stuff, as my Grandmother would to say. It’s as if Jenner knows Jane Austen’s mind and heart. As if she has had an engrossing conversation with Austen about her characters motives and emotions. I felt a kinship to the story and two of the characters in the first scene.

Now my evenings can’t come fast enough to lose myself in the world of Jane Austen and the people who live in the town of Austen’s final home and connection the Great House and over a hundred years later after her death. May this story continue to capture my undivided attention. Right now, I have no doubt. -Stephanie

The Jane Austen SocietyThe Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press
General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
Pub Date 26 May 2020

Description

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

 

This Day In History, Handmade Cards & Bookish Delights

Happy Monday! This weekend was busy with art, card making, chatting with friends and much reflection. Today I had planned a “This Day In History” post and had it all planned out how I wanted to talk about the different events that happened. However, looking through history timelines, I was a bit dismayed at all the sadness and wars noted for this day. Yikes! I know many of the events made an impact our how history and its important to discuss but that isn’t were I was wanting to go with the topic. I chose two interesting events for two reasons. The first, is the U.S.A. War Time Mail because during that time and still often today that was an enormous important way of communication due to the lack of technologies we have today. Then I thought about as I was hand making Valentines Cards how much we have lost the communication of mail, putting pen to paper and letter writing.

The Second one I chose was about Elvis Presley. To this day he is still talked about and his music is listened to by many. Elvis and his art plays’ a big part in music history. There are many books about him as well and today I am spotting lighting Careless Love by Peter Gualnick. Full book description below.

1941 – U.S.A. War Time Mail

War Mail

1941: Mail Route was created between Washington D.C., and Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the mail for this route was carried on buses which were built with facilities on board for sorting, handling, and dispatch of mail.

1958 – Elvis Presley

1958: Elvis Presley’s ballad “Don’t” reached #1 on music charts. This was his ninth #1 hit single since he had produced “Heartbreak Hotel”. In all, Elvis had recorded a total of 17 #1 hits.

On another note:

ten valentine cards 2-2020Yesterday, I made several Handmade Vintage theme Valentine’s Cards and have them ready to mail out today! I am thrilled with them and they come from my heart. Each one is personalized and will reflect about the person I’m sending it too and shows a little of my style in crafting. I’m already thinking about 2020 Vintage Christmas Cards!

In light of Valentine’s being on Friday, I’ll be posting my weekly Cover Crush on Thursday at Layered Pages. Friday I will be blogging about Valentine’s Day and you’ll be able to get a better look at the cards. Have a beautiful week, everyone! -Stephanie

Careless Love The Unmaking of Elvis PresleyAbout Careless Love by Peter Guralnick

Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley’s last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick’s masterful two-part biography.

Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick’s two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as “a triumph of biographical art.” This concluding volume recounts the second half of Elvis’ life in rich and previously unimagined detail, and confirms Guralnick’s status as one of the great biographers of our time.

Beginning with Presley’s army service in Germany in 1958 and ending with his death in Memphis in 1977, Careless Love chronicles the unravelling of the dream that once shone so brightly, homing in on the complex playing-out of Elvis’ relationship with his Machiavellian manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It’s a breathtaking revelatory drama that for the first time places the events of a too-often mistold tale in a fresh, believable, and understandable context.

Elvis’ changes during these years form a tragic mystery that Careless Love unlocks for the first time. This is the quintessential American story, encompassing elements of race, class, wealth, sex, music, religion, and personal transformation. Written with grace, sensitivity, and passion, Careless Love is a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture and the nature of success, giving us true insight at last into one of the most misunderstood public figures of our times.

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“No copyright on images infringement is intended” Used for blogging about history purpose only. Image and credit of picture from Harvard Club Washington, DC

If you missed my Saturday Sunday Post on the Mighty Smash Book please check it out HERE

(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts, art work and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.)

Cover Crush: Olive the Lionheart by Brad Ricca

My thoughts on the cover and my overall impression about my first glimpse of the story description: 

Although the cover reminds me a bit of a movie poster (maybe it’s the positioning of the fonts?), I still love it and the colors used. If you read the book description below, even the main character is a, “Redhead.” That one got a smile out of me. Now, it would have been hilarious if the character’s name was, “Auburn.”  As in, “Auburn the Lionheart.” Ha! I’m getting a kick out of this week’s cover crush write up! On a sober note, is there not enough contrast in the layout? Hmm…Or maybe the ladies color of dress and travel trunk does the trick? Or is it her looking off to the distance of a new world unknown to her? See how her upper body is slightly turned with her left arm behind her back? Its as if she is unsure she should continue on, knowing the dangers she obviously will be facing. Regardless, the cover definitely has a dramatic effect going on.

I’m curious as to how the author portrays Olive-since this is based on a true story- and if she will be another predictable heroine I often see in stories or how will the author portray the different cultures mentioned. However, the story does draw on Olive’s own letters and secret diaries so there is that. Will this story truly be real life like or will it be sugar coated so not to offend anyone? If you know the history of Africa during that time or of anytime, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Also, I’m invested in keeping an eye on how this story influences readers. Having said all this, St. Martin Press is one of my favorite publishers because they tend to publish quality stories. The gist of what I’ve read from the description below is that Olive the Lionheart entails jungles, swamps, cities, deserts, letters, secret diaries, cobras, crocodiles, wise native chiefs, a murderous leopard cult, a haunted forest, and even two adorable lion cubs. Whew, that is a lot to digest. Sign me up! -Stephanie

Olive the LionheartOlive the Lionheart

Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman’s Journey to the Heart of Africa

by Brad Ricca

St. Martin’s Press

Biographies & Memoirs

Pub Date 11 Aug 2020

Description

In 1910, Olive MacLeod, a thirty-year-old, redheaded Scottish aristocrat, received word that her fiancé, the famous naturalist Boyd Alexander, was missing in Africa.

So she went to find him.

Olive the Lionheart is the thrilling true story of her astonishing journey. In jungles, swamps, cities, and deserts, Olive and her two companions, the Talbots, come face-to-face with cobras and crocodiles, wise native chiefs, a murderous leopard cult, a haunted forest, and even two adorable lion cubs that she adopts as her own. Making her way in a pair of ill-fitting boots, Olive awakens to the many forces around her, from shadowy colonial powers to an invisible Islamic warlord who may hold the key to Boyd’s disappearance. As these secrets begin to unravel, all of Olive’s assumptions prove wrong and she is forced to confront the darkest, most shocking secret of all: why she really came to Africa in the first place.

Drawing on Olive’s own letters and secret diaries, Olive the Lionheart is a love story that defies all boundaries, set against the backdrop of a beautiful, unconquerable Africa.

This book is avaible for request at NetGalley.

Last week’s Cover Crush

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated by Erin at Historical Fiction Reader 

Other book bloggers who participated in the great cover crushes series. 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts, art work and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.)

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