Book Review: Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter

Every Single Secret II

Pub Date 01 May 2018

Emotionally guarded Daphne Amos always believed she’d found a kindred spirit in her fiancé, Heath. Both very private people, they’ve kept their pasts hidden from the world, and each other, until Heath’s escalating nightmares begin to put an undeniable strain on their relationship. Determined to give their impending marriage the best chance of succeeding, Heath insists that Daphne join him on a seven-day retreat with Dr. Matthew Cerny, a psychologist celebrated for getting to the root of repressed memories. Daphne reluctantly agrees—even though the past is the last place she wants to go.

The retreat’s isolated and forbidding location increases her unease, as do the doctor’s rules: they must relinquish their keys and phones, they’ll be monitored at all hours by hidden cameras, and they’re never to socialize with the other guests.

One sleepless night, Daphne decides to leave her room…and only then does she realize that the institute is not at all what it seems—and that whatever’s crying out from Heath’s past isn’t meant to be heard. It’s meant to be silenced.

My Thoughts:

I love reading psychological thrillers and I admire writers who pen them because to really get in the mind of a sociopath or psychopath, one has to explore the dark side and in this particular case, it’s beyond creepy! Doing so is not always easy and coming up with a premise for these stories, you want to have quite the imagination to keep your readers hooked. Carpenter’s stories do this for me, and she out did herself with Every Single Secret. There is also the fact that this story is set in my state which makes it all the more intriguing.

This story has so many surprises and unexpected twist and turns that keeps you in suspense throughout the book.  Carpenter is great at setting the stage for a gothic southern story and she does it with such flare that I am always curious as to what she will write next. Her characters are so complex and at times you feel like you might not want to get too deep into their minds…I say this in a good way. She also has you question the characters actions and motives throughout the story and I find this thoroughly engaging.

When I first saw the book cover and title, I knew I had to get my hands on this story quickly! I had wondered about the cover and how it related to the story and when I got to that part, I was stunned! It’s a whopper and intensely chilling and had me a bit freaked out!

There are monsters all around us…

I rated this book four stars.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Book Review: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Grief CottageGrief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury USA

General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 06 Jun 2017

After his mother’s death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she’d moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.

The islanders call it “Grief Cottage,” because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty-years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.

Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that–an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.

My thoughts:

The story has strong characters and the protagonist, Marcus, is an old soul or how old was he really telling this story? I was never quite sure and at times I felt like there was too much telling rather than showing. He doesn’t have childhood friends really and he relates to adults more than children his own age. His Aunt Charlotte-who takes him in after his mother dies- is quite an odd bird and values her privacy in extreme ways.

While the premise is an interesting one, I found it hard to get into and it took me sometime to finish the book. When I finally got to the ending it just seemed to end abruptly and I was dissatisfied, as I was hoping there would be a strong climax to the story. How is this a thriller ghost story? I didn’t come away with that feeling at all. The conflicts seemed muted to me.

On a positive note, much of the story is atmospheric and the setting is quite good.

I am sad to report I gave this book two stars.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley for my honest opinion.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

April in Paris, 1921: A Kiki Button Mystery by Tessa Lunney

I am really looking forward to reading and reviewing this book. I hope to get to the story next week, though I won’t post a review until closer to the publish date. I love reading stories set in the early 1900’s. Check out what the book is about below. -Stephanie M. Hopkins

April in Paris, 1921April in Paris, 1921

A Kiki Button Mystery

by Tessa Lunney

Pegasus Books

Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 03 Jul 2018

About the Book:

Kiki Button—war veteran, party girl, detective, and spy—finds that she can’t outrun her past exploits, even in the glittering world of Jazz Age Paris.

Paris in 1921 is the city of freedom, where hatless and footloose Kiki Button can drink champagne and dance until dawn. She works as a gossip columnist, partying with the rich and famous, the bohemian and strange, using every moment to create a new woman from the ashes of her war-worn self.

While on the modelling dais, Picasso gives her a job: to find his wife’s portrait, which has gone mysteriously missing. That same night, her spymaster from the war contacts her—she has to find a double agent or face jail. Through parties, whisky, and seductive informants, Kiki uses her knowledge of Paris from the Great War to connect the clues.

Set over the course of one springtime week, April in Paris, 1921 is a mystery that combines artistic gossip with interwar political history through witty banter, steamy scenes, and fast action.

About the Author: Tessa Lunney is an emerging talent on the Australian literary scene who has recently won a number of their major short fiction awards. She has had her fiction, poetry, and reviews published in Southerly, Mascara, and Contrapasso, among others, as well as Best Australian Poems 2014.

 

Book Highlight: Lady in Red by Sheila Tate

Lady in RedLady in Red

An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan

by Sheila Tate

Crown Publishing

Biographies & Memoirs

Pub Date 10 Apr 2018

Description

Lady in Red is the long-awaited collection of behind-the-scenes stories and iconic images of one of the most influential First Lady in modern history — Nancy Reagan. Lovingly compiled by long-time close confidante and aide, Sheila Tate, the book provides a rare and much-anticipated look into the personal life of the president’s wife, from her daily routines and travels as First Lady to her friendships and deep influence in the Reagan White House.

Lady in Red depicts a nuanced portrait of this graceful yet strong woman who felt it was her mission to restore a sense of grandeur, mystique, and excitement to the presidency, showcasing the various roles that Mrs. Reagan played during her years in the White House, that of Wife, Mother, Protector, Host, Diplomat, and Advisor, among others.

The book also features twenty-four pages of gorgeous color photographs, including “Nancy’s Album,” a collection of Mrs. Reagan’s favorite photographs, which she entrusted to Sheila to share with the world after she and her beloved Ronnie had passed.

To complete the portrait, Lady in Red includes interviews with the friends and politicians who knew Mrs. Reagan best: President George H. W. Bush, Chris Wallace, James Baker, Ed Meese, Maureen Dowd, and Marlin Fitzwater share their most cherished memories of the First Lady.

My thoughts:

Nancy Reagan and her role as first lady has always been an interest to me so I was thrilled when I saw this book available on NetGalley. I’ll enjoy reading this book and posting my review in April!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

What’s New On Layered Pages Bookshelf-Galley Reviews

The Secret Life of Mrs. LondonThe Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Lake Union Publishing

Pub Date 30 Jan 2018

Description

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

The Dead HouseThe Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan

Skyhorse Publishing

Arcade Publishing

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 01 May 2018

Description

Sometimes the past endures—and sometimes it never lets go.

This best-selling debut by an award-winning writer is both an eerie contemporary ghost story and a dread-inducing psychological thriller. Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out an Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go.

Ireland is a country haunted by its past. In Billy O’Callaghan’s hands, its terrible beauty becomes a force of inescapable horror that reaches far back in time, before the Famine, before Christianity, to a pagan place where nature and superstition are bound in an endless knot.

Mind of a KillerMind of a Killer by Beaufort, Simon

A Victorian mystery

Severn House

Pub Date 01 Apr 2018

Description

Newspaper reporter Alec Lonsdale discovers that a series of seemingly random murders may be connected in this absorbing historical mystery.

London, 1882. Alec Lonsdale, a young reporter on the Pall Mall Gazette, is working on a story about a fatal house fire. But the post-mortem on the victim produces shocking results: Patrick Donovan’s death was no accident. But why would someone murder a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain?

When a second body is discovered, its throat cut, and then a third, Lonsdale and his spirited female colleague, Hulda Friederichs, begin to uncover evidence of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest echelons of Victorian society.

Book Review: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

The Tuscan Child_300dpiThe Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

February 20th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…

My review:

Without a doubt I enjoyed this story, the setting and period the story is written in. There were several parts to the story I liked and what I thought could have been fleshed out a bit more. Though I could easily see a sequel to this book. Hugo and Joanna are the two main characters in the story. Hugo is Joanna’s father and was a RAF pilot in World War II whose plane crashed in Italy near a small town where the majority of the story takes place. He meets an Italian woman name Sofia who helps him hide and brings him food. As they form a bond, events happen and both of their lives would never be the same and secrets would be long hidden. Hugo is also the Heir to an estate in England and when he returns to his country he finds his whole life has changed in ways he did not expect.

His daughter Joanna has been estranged from her father for quite some time and when her father dies, she returns to bury her father. Soon she discovers secrets about her father and then begins her journey to find out more about him and his past. Her discovery takes her to Italy near where her father’s plane crashed and she meets extraordinary people and learns things are not what she expected.

This story has a dual time-line and I enjoyed the back in forth somewhat. I have to admit, at first, I wasn’t impressed with Hugo but he finally grew on me. I really enjoyed reading about Joanna and her time with Paola-a woman whose house she stayed at in Italy. Like most Italian women-I’m sure-Paola loves to cook amazing dishes and my mouth was literally watering while reading about the food!

I highly recommend when finishing this story that you read the authors note in the back. I found that to be interesting and educational. I rated this story four stars!

I received an ARC from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Please be sure to read my interview with the author HERE.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Layered Pages 2018 Reading Goals

Me in Summer time 2017This year I plan on having a better year of reading and cranking out book reviews. I got a little behind last year because of my crazy schedule. Devoting time for reading is important and that is one of my main focus this year. I do have reviews to write up and post from last year as well. Lots to do and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it! Check out these titles below. I will also be adding to this list as the year continues but this list is my MUST read list for 2018. -Stephanie M. Hopkins

The Girl in the Glass TowerThe Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle

Arbella Stuart is trapped behind the towering glass windows of Hardwick Hall. Kept cloistered from a world that is full of dangers for someone with royal blood. Half the country wish to see her on the throne and many others for her death, which would leave the way clear for her cousin James, the Scottish King

Arbella longs to be free from her cold-hearted grandmother; to love who she wants, to wear a man’s trousers and ride her beloved horse, Dorcas. But if she ever wishes to break free she must learn to navigate the treacherous game of power, or end up dead.

 

THE ALICE NETWORKThe Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Saint MaggieSaint Maggie (Saint Maggie #1) by Janet R. Stafford

*I plan on reading the entire series this year!

Maggie Blaine, a widow with two teenage daughters, runs a rooming house smack dab on the town square. In 1860 this makes her a social outcast. Boarding houses are only semi-respectable and hers has a collection of eclectic boarders – a failed aging writer, an undertaker’s apprentice, a struggling young lawyer, and an old Irishman. In addition, she has a friendship with Emily and Nate, an African-American couple with whom she shares her home and chores. It is a good thing the town doesn’t know that Maggie, along with Nate, Emily, and Eli Smith (the free-thinking editor of the weekly newspaper) are involved in the Underground Railroad. When she is asked to house handsome, gifted Jeremiah Madison, the new Methodist minister, Maggie hopes that he will both revive the little church she attends and provide her boarding house with a bit of badly-needed respectability. But Jeremiah comes with some dark secrets that challenge Maggie’s resolve to love and respect all people. As the town’s people reel from a series of shocking events, the compassionate, faithful Maggie searches for truth and struggles to forgive and love. (Based on a historical event.)

The Unexpected DaughterThe Unexpected Daughter by Sheryl Parbhoo

Three people’s lives intersect in a tumultuous yet redeeming way that none of them could have ever predicted. Jenny is a young professional from the South with an upbringing she wants to forget. She meets Roshan, an Indian immigrant who has moved to the United States with his mother, Esha, to escape family ghosts. With strong cultural tradition, Esha has devoted her entire life to her only child, both for his own good and for her personal protection from a painful past. Roshan understands his role as his mother’s refuge, and from an early age, he commits himself to caring for her. But when Jenny and Roshan embark on a forbidden, intercultural relationship, all three get tangled into an inseparable web—betrayal, violence, and shame—leaving them forced to make choices about love and family they never wanted to make while finding peace where they never expected to look.

The ImmigrantThe Immigrant by Alfred Woollacott

A historical saga that covers a winter of 1650/1651 journey of John Law, a young Scotsman captured by the English Lord Cromwell’s forces in seventeenth century Scotland during “The Battle of Dunbar”. He survives a death march to Durham, England and is eventually sent to Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant, arriving aboard the ship “Unity” that was carrying around 150 prisoners of war from different Scottish clans. Now an outcast, and in the sanctuary of the new colony, John starts over as an immigrant in a Puritan theocracy. He is first indentured to the Saugus Iron Works and then to Concord as a public shepherd in West Concord (now Acton). The young man faces obstacles often beyond his control, and his only ally is his faith. After his indenture is served he struggles a near lifetime to obtain title to his promised land. From start to finish “The Immigrant” is an intoxicating journey that follows the travails of John, his faith in God, his good wife and growing family.

#NetGalley Reviews:

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd

The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger by Lucy Banks

Murder in Bloomsbury by D. M. Quincy

Murder in July by Barbara Hambly

Vanished by Karen E. Olson

Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

A Mortal Likeness (A Victorian Mystery) by Laura Joh Rowland

A Crime in the Familyby Sacha Batthyany

A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Mathews

 ** Be sure to check out my friend Lisl’s 2018 Requiem, Reviews and Year of the TBR HERE

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