Cover Crush: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

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.

Stephanie Hopkins

Book Description:

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.

Cover Crush: Heard It In A Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves

About the Cover: I discovered this book on Instagram and the title and cover drew me in with fascination. There is a song with that title by The Marshall Tucker Band. Highly recommend listening to it. The song has great lyrics and instrumental poetry…

The book cover showcases wonderful imagery. There are many mixed media artists who take faces and create florals above and around the heads and the affect expands on visual attention. I love the choice of colors as well and when a cover and title sparks this much interest, it makes one even more curious about what is inside.

About the Book: I have a feeling if I read this book, I would be in tears throughout the story. Or maybe I’m clinging to that old feeling for way too long and could handle the premise. Despite my mixed emotions, I’m curious about how this story is told and what the author offers in the conclusion. -Stephanie Hopkins

Side Note: I’m moving my cover crush series to Wednesday’s!

Description:

From Tracey Garvis Graves, the bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know comes a love song of a story about starting over and second chances in Heard It in a Love Song.

Love doesn’t always wait until you’re ready.

Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past―her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first―Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness.

Then there’s Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he’s still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more.

Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple―but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?

Cover Crush: A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

A Saffron Everleigh Mystery

Pub Date Jun 7, 2022

About the Cover: This cover is really pleasing to the eye. The vibrant colors of the background, bottle and flowers add that extra spark to the overall layout. Often times, artists describe vibrant art as meaning pure, energetic and radiant. Quite the contrast to this novels premise. Though, I dare say, the most beautiful objects can be deadly.

About the Book: I love a good period mystery and what a great premise for a story! Imagine yourself alongside Saffron Everleigh, working to uncover the murderer and in the throes of intrigue and mystery.

Stephanie Hopkins

Description

London, 1923.  Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.
 
Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list? 

Cover Crush: A Flicker of Light by Katie Powner

About the Cover: I never tire of landscapes and I’m drawn to the calm and peaceful feel to this cover. The soft shades of colors and the girl facing the sun setting over the mountains evokes longing or a sense of renewal, and the landscape depicted gives you a sense of contemplation.

About the Book and Genre: I have read quite a few Christian fiction books since my early childhood and enjoyed a few of them despite my feelings towards the genre. I must confess, it is not my go-to read because more times than not, I find them cheesy, with weak dialogue, unrealistic to the human condition and often times, there is false sense of biblical teaching. Despite my misgivings of the genre, I’m curious about this story and what it has to offer to readers. I will be keeping my eye on this book and at some point, I might even give it a read. – Stephanie Hopkins

Description:

Pub Date 05 Oct 2021 by Bethany House

Christian Fiction

Secrets are like pennies. Everybody’s got one, even the poorest among us.

For generations, the Jensens have raised their families in the small Montana town of Moose Creek, where gossip spreads faster than the wind. Yet some secrets need to be told.

When twenty-one-year-old Bea discovers she’s pregnant on the heels of her husband losing his job, she’s forced to admit she needs help and asks her dad for a place to stay. But past resentments keep her from telling him all that’s going on.

Mitch Jensen is thrilled to have a full house again, though he’s unimpressed with Bea’s decisions: dropping out of college, marrying so young–and to an idealistic city kid, of all things. Mitch hopes to convince Bea to return to the path he’s always envisioned for her, but she’s changed since her mom died. And he refuses to admit how much he’s changed, too, especially now that he might be losing his mother as well.

Grandma June is good at spinning stories, but there’s one she’s never told. Now that her mind is starting to fade, her time to tell it is running out. But if she reveals the truth before her memories are gone forever, the Jensen family will never be the same.

Cover Crush: The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer

About the Cover: Firstly, I have to confess that it wasn’t the cover that directed my attention to this book, but the title. If I were designing the layout, I’m not entirely sure I would have chosen the shade of blue to contrast the Mona Lisa painting. Nonetheless, if you look closely, you will see the cracks in the painting carrying over to the right side of the cover. I thought that was a nice touch and the pealing of the upper left corner and tears in the image represents age.

About the Book: The Mona Lisa is a famous portrait painting by artist Leonardo da Vinci and is, without a doubt, the most talked about painting in history. I remember as a young child learning about the Mona Lisa and the artist. I have to admit, throughout most of my life, shockingly, the painting didn’t leave an impression on me as one would expect. It wasn’t until later in my adulthood that I developed an appreciation for the painting and the history. Maybe, it’s because of its artist and depiction in various forms and media that sparked an interest in me to learn more about its creation.

I’ve added The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer to my book pile and look forward to reading the story. – Stephanie Hopkins

Book Description:

Published August 17th 2021 by Sourcebooks Landmark

August, 1911: The Mona Lisa is stolen by Vincent Peruggia. Exactly what happens in the two years before its recovery is a mystery. Many replicas of the Mona Lisa exist, and more than one historian has wondered if the painting now in the Louvre is a fake, switched in 1911.

Present day: Art professor Luke Perrone digs for the truth behind his most famous ancestor: Peruggia. His search attracts an Interpol detective with something to prove and an unfamiliar but curiously helpful woman. Soon, Luke tumbles deep into the world of art and forgery, a land of obsession and danger.

A gripping novel exploring the 1911 theft and the present underbelly of the art world, The Last Mona Lisa is a suspenseful tale, tapping into our universal fascination with da Vinci’s enigma, why people are driven to possess certain works of art, and our fascination with the authentic and the fake.

Cover Crush: The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

St. Martin’s Press

Mystery & Thrillers | Women’s Fiction

Pub Date 11 Jan 2022

About the cover: The blues and greens of this cover caught my eye. I use these hues often in my art. The position of the wrought iron fence, house, tree and the people walking towards the house, along with the colors, shows mystery and intrigue. Nicely executed.

About the book: I love a good mystery and a historical one at that. This story is a dual time line and takes place in North Carolina in the present and past. Or I should say, the year 2010. Yes please!

Description

A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.

1965

Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.

2010

Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

Cover Crush: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

About the Cover: I love images of country homes and their setting on the edge of woods. I lived in rural North Georgia for nine years with a home on the edge of woods before moving back to the suburbs. I would often sit at the kitchen table that faced the woods and spent a lot of time thinking about the history of the land and the people that lived there before us. This book cover is atmospheric and I like the mirror effect of the image. You can image all sorts of stories the house and trees hold.

About the Book: I like reading a wide range of genres though I am extremely choosy about the horror genre for several reasons but there are a few I will read or give it a try. Maybe I chose this one because it takes place in the country and the story touches on family secrets. Did I mention I love the title of the book?! Definitely an eye catcher.

Stephanie Hopkins  

Book Description:

Hardcover, 530 pages

Published July 20th 2021 by Del Rey Books

A family returns to their hometown—and to the dark past that haunts them still—in this masterpiece of literary horror by the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderers

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there.

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.

And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

Cover Crush: The North Water by Ian McGuire

About the cover: Let me start by saying that I believe whale hunting is horrific and it is extremely hard for me to read novels about the subject. Anyhow, I’m totally feeling the summer vibes with this cover. Yes, the wale is in deep ocean but it still makes be long for the beach! I thought it clever to add the image of the whaling ship on the tail. I love the colors and the dramatic imagery of the ocean.

There is a better image of the book on IG @eatingtheirwords

Thoughts about the story: This looks like a story worth reading and the period the story is set in, is my favorite! I’m guessing it’s focused more on an evil person on board that is confronted? Hmm… I refuse to read any reviews on this book. I want an unbiased opinion. -Stephanie Hopkins

About the Book:

A 19th-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp and highly original tale that grips like a thriller.

Behold the man. Stinking, drunk, brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax is a harpooner on the ‘Volunteer’, a Yorkshire whaling ship that is due to set sail for the rich hunting waters of the Arctic Circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money and no better option than to embark as ship’s medic on this violent, filthy, ill-fated voyage.

In India during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which a man can stoop and imagined he’d find temporary respite on the ‘Volunteer’, but now, trapped in the wooden belly of the ship with Drax, he encounters pure evil and is forced to act. As the true purposes of the expedition become clear, the confrontation between the two men plays out in the freezing darkness of an arctic winter.

Cover Crush: Take What You Can Carry by Gian Sardar

About the Cover: The beautifully stark landscape and the contract of the flowers caught my attention. The shades of colors draw your eyes to the depth of the mountains. I do love the title but I feel the size of the font overwhelms the layout and takes away from the depiction of the mountains in the background.  

Thoughts about the story: I noticed that readers are shelving this book as Historical Fiction. Despite the history of the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict, this particular story does not take place fifty years ago and the genre is generally considered historical when fifty years has passed.

The premise of this story is something I want to explore in-depth. The conflict in Iraqi is prevalent to our time and history. To experience the period in the eyes of an aspiring photographer, Olivia Murray and her Kurdish boyfriend, Delan will be fascinating and gripping to say the least. I’ve added this book to my to-read pile. -Stephanie Hopkins

About the Book: Published May 1st 2021 by Lake Union Publishing

An aspiring photographer follows her dreams and faces her fears in a poignant novel about finding beauty, promise, and love amid the chaos of war-torn Kurdistan.

It’s 1979. Olivia Murray, a secretary at a Los Angeles newspaper, is determined to become a photojournalist and make a difference with her work. When opportunity arrives, she seizes it, accompanying her Kurdish boyfriend, Delan, to northern Iraq for a family wedding, hoping to capture an image that lands her a job in the photo department. More important, though, the trip is a chance to understand Delan’s childhood and bridge the differences of their pasts. Yet when the return home proves less safe than Delan believed, Olivia is confronted with a reality she had not expected, and is awakened to the dangers of a town patrolled by Iraqi military under curfew and constant threat.

But in this world torn apart by war, there are intoxicating sights and scents, Delan’s loving family, innocence not yet compromised, and small acts of kindness that flourish unexpectedly. All of it will be tested when Olivia captures a shattering, tragic moment on film, one that upends all their lives and proves that true bravery begins with an open heart.

Cover Crush: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Resisting the Attention Economy

“What if we spent less time shouting into the void and being washed over with shouting in return-and more time talking in rooms to those for whom our words are intended? If we have only so much attention to give, and only so much time on this earth, we might want to think about reinfusing our attention and our communication with the intention that both deserve.” -Jenny Odell quote

About the Cover: I’m a sucker for florals’ and the colors of the petals are among my favorite. Nothing really extraordinary about the cover, just simply the beauty of a flower arrangement.  

About the Book: Food for thought comes to mind when thinking about the title of this book. That is how much the title alone warrants consideration in what is said between the pages. While the description is short, one can imagine a broader narrative into the subject of productivity and techno-determinism. This theme is usually out of my scope of genres I read regularly, but I am curious about the premise and what arguments the author presents. How to Do Nothing should be a highly educational read. -Stephanie Hopkins

Book Description:

Hardcover, 225 pages

Published April 9th 2019 by Melville House

When the technologies we use every day collapse our experiences into 24/7 availability, platforms for personal branding, and products to be monetized, nothing can be quite so radical as… doing nothing. Here, Jenny Odell sends up a flare from the heart of Silicon Valley, delivering an action plan to resist capitalist narratives of productivity and techno-determinism, and to become more meaningfully connected in the process.

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.