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

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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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Layered Pages Top Ten Reads For 2017

Me in Summer time 2017I met my reading goals for 2017 but I must admit I was expecting a better reading calendar than the previous year. For 2017 I have only given two books a five star rating and I am hoping that 2018 will have a better reading forecast. Having said that, there were a few books that I really enjoyed and today I am listing the top ten. What were your top reads for 2017 and how many books did you give a far star rating to? -Stephanie M. Hopkins

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the-life-she-was-givenThe Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman-Five Star Rating

From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets–beginning in the poignant, lurid world of a Depression-era traveling circus and coming full circle in the transformative 1950s.

On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time–and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

The Broken GirlsThe Broken Girls by Simone St. James-Five Star Rating

A breakout suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare.

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

The Woman on the Orient Express IIThe Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabinmate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets.

The Weight of LiesThe Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter- Audiobook

In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

Friend Request IIFriend Request by Laura Marshall

THE #1 INTERNATIONAL KINDLE BESTSELLER A paranoid single mom is forced to confront the unthinkable act she committed as a desperate teenager in this addictive thriller with a social media twist.

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.

A Fine Pair of Shoes and other storiesA Fine Pair of Shoes and other stories by Clare Flynn

A Tapestry of True Tales from Then and Now

This collection of nine short stories comes from award-winning historical fiction author Clare Flynn includes five historical tales – four based on stories from her own family history, and a tragic tale from eighteenth century Sussex.

Clare has also branched out into contemporary fiction with four intriguing stories – modern morality tales, set in England, Paris, the USA and an island in the Indian Ocean.

Beautifully crafted, vividly brought to life on the page these quirky stories give an insight into human nature at its best – and its worst.

these-shallow-gravesThese Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

The Property of Lies (A 1930s_ historical mystery) by Marjorie EcclesThe Property of Lies (Herbert Reardon #2) by Marjorie Eccles

DI Herbert Reardon is drawn into a world of secrets and lies when a body is discovered at a girls’ boarding school.

1930/When a body is discovered on the premises of the newly-established Maxstead Court School for Girls, Detective Inspector Herbert Reardon is called in to investigate. His wife Ellen having just accepted a job as French teacher, Reardon is alarmed to find the school a hotbed of scandalous secrets, suppressed passions, petty jealousies and wanton schoolgirl cruelty. As he pursues his enquiries, it becomes clear that the dead woman was not who – or what – she claimed to be. Who was she really – and why is Reardon convinced that more than one member of staff is not telling him the whole truth?

Then a pupil goes missing – and the case takes a disturbing new twist …

What She KnewWhat She Knew (Jim Clemo #1) by Gilly Macmillan Audiobook

11 hours, 53 minutes

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…

The Tuscan Child_300dpiThe Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

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…

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Bookish Happenings: I’m alive!

Me at orange beach 2017I haven’t read a single line in a book this week nor have I been on social media a whole lot lately. I know, shocker. I have been extremely busy working on new projects that I am looking forward to sharing with you all soon. These two projects will be effective in optimizing authors, readers, artists and photographer’s social media experience. Meanwhile, I hope to get a little reading in this weekend because I have several reviews that are due. Let’s check out what I need to finish reading soon:

 

 

 

Heartbreak HotelHeartbreak Hotel (Alex Delaware #32) by Jonathan Kellerman
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Ballantine Books

At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history.

What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.

When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.

Heartbreak Hotel is classic Delaware and classic Kellerman.

Unraveling OliverUnraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 22nd 2017 by Gallery/Scout Press
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

The Orphan of FlorenceThe Orphan of Florence by Jeanne Kalogridis
Pub Date 03 Oct 2017 by St. Martin’s Press

Giulia has been an orphan all her life. Raised in Florence’s famous Ospedale degli Innocenti, her probing questions and insubordinate behavior made her an unwelcome presence, and at the age of fifteen, she was given an awful choice: become a nun, or be married off to a man she didn’t love. She chose neither, and after refusing an elderly suitor, Guilia escaped onto the streets of Florence.
Now, after spending two years as a successful pickpocket, an old man catches her about to make off with his purse, and rather than having her carted off to prison he offers her a business proposition. The man claims to be a cabalist, a student of Jewish mysticism and ritual magic, who works for the most powerful families in Florence. But his identity is secret—he is known only as “the Magician of Florence”—and he is in need of an assistant. She accepts the job and begins smuggling his talismans throughout the city.

But the talismans are not what they seem, and neither is the Magician. When Giulia’s involvement with him ends with his murder, she’s drawn into a treacherous web of espionage and deceit involving the forces of Rome, Naples, and a man known as Lorenzo the Magnificent. Accused of the Magician’s murder, Giulia is pursued by the handsome policeman Niccolo, Lorenzo’s henchmen, and foreign spies, and in order to survive, she must not only solve the mystery of the mystery of the Magician’s murder, but that of her own past.

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I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Happy reading.
Stephanie M. Hopkins

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DNF: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Girl in SnowGirl in Snow

by Danya Kukafka

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

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My thoughts:

I was excited about starting this book over Labor Day weekend. I wasn’t working and had carefully chosen the books I wanted to read. Girl in Snow was second on my list. When I first started reading this book, I really found the characters interesting except for Lucinda. The story starts off with her being dead but you really don’t connect to her and you don’t feel sympathy-at least I didn’t.

As I got further in the story it started to fizzle and fizzle quick. I got about 20% in and realized this probably won’t be a finish read for me but I rallied on a little longer to see if it got better. Half way through the book, I gave up. When a person writes a thriller and there is nothing thrilling about it…ahem, go back to revisions! I know that sounds really harsh but it needed to be said. Don’t get me wrong, the premise is great and the characterization had potential for a physiological thriller but it missed its mark.

Another thing, I needed more dialogue and action coming from the characters! Showing in is very important in story-telling.

I am not rating this book since I did not finish it.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers through NetGalley. I feel bad for not liking this story but felt necessary to give my honest opinions why I did not finish the book.

Stephanie M. Hopkins