Next Up On The Reading Agenda

Here are two books I am planning on reading next. I can’t wait! Both of these books are by authors I adore and find their stories gripping. Aren’t the covers great?! -Stephanie M. Hopkins

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until the day i die by emily carpenterUntil the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Pub Date 12 Mar 2019

Description

From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

the lost girls of paris by pam jenoffThe Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Pub Date 29 Jan 2019

1946, Manhattan

Description

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Cover Crush:Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan

Cover Crush banner

I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

Girls on the LineGirls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan

Lake Union Publishing

Pub Date 06 Nov 2018

Description

“A moving tale of female solidarity and courage.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

December 1917. As World War I rages in Europe, twenty-four-year-old Ruby Wagner, the jewel in a prominent Philadelphia family, prepares for her upcoming wedding to a society scion. Like her life so far, it’s all been carefully arranged. But when her beloved older brother is killed in combat, Ruby follows her heart and answers the Army Signal Corps’ call for women operators to help overseas.

As one of the trailblazing “Hello Girls” deployed to war-torn France, Ruby must find her place in the military strata, fight for authority and respect among the Allied soldiers, and work to secure a victory for the cause. But balancing service to country is complicated further by a burgeoning relationship with army medic Andrew Carrigan.

What begins as a friendship forged on the front lines soon blossoms into something more, forcing Ruby to choose between the conventions of a well-ordered life back home, and the risk of an unknown future.

My Thoughts:

Wow! This cover alone makes me want to read the book. Then when I read the description, I downloaded the book immediately from NetGalley to review. Lately I have been mostly listening to audio books because of my schedule and so forth but I’m slowing getting back into reading print books. Hooray!

I love reading stories that take place during this era and the cover really gives you the vibe of the story. One can tell this will be a wonderful story. Well, not because of the cover per say but because the author is a great story-teller.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great cover crushes from my fellow book bloggers: 

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

 

Book Spotlight: The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan

The Summer ListThe Summer List by Amy Mason Doan

HARLEQUIN – Graydon House Books (U.S. & Canada)

Graydon House

General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

Pub Date 26 Jun 2018

I received this book on NetGalley and really looking forward to reading it soon. The premise is a but different from what I normally read, so that is good.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Description:

In the tradition of Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters, The Summer List is a tender yet tantalizing novel about two friends, the summer night they fell apart, and the scavenger hunt that reunites them decades later—until the clues expose a breathtaking secret that just might shatter them once and for all.

Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake.

But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart…

Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood.

 

Book Review: The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The House on Foster HillThe House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Bethany House Publishers

Christian, Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 21 Nov 2017

Outstanding Debut Novel from an Author to Watch

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

My thoughts:

I was thrilled when I received this book through NetGalley and I must admit I took much longer to get to it than I originally wanted to. The first half of the book was great but and overall there were aspects of the story I really liked but felt there were too many things happening and the plot lost direction a bit in my opinion. I love the idea of the house holding painful memories and Kaine racing to unravel the mystery of the house and what went on there…

I think this story could have been stronger and less things going on but I will say the setting is atmospheric and there is great character development.

I rated this book three stars.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley from the publishers.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Friday Musings

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This week has been a tough week all around with work and personal life and I haven’t had a whole lot of time for my Presidential Reading Challenge. Which of course is bothering me but I shall rally on and pick it up back this weekend. Having said that, I have made progress in an audio book I have been listening too-The Last Mrs. Parish and an ARC by St, Martin Press called, “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen.

I’m 54% done with Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen: This is a really good story! I’ve always wondered how the Union Army would be able to recruit ex-slaves-right after the civil war- to become Buffalo Soldiers knowing what they were going to do to the Indians. Or did they really have a clear picture in the beginning? It really had always baffled me. This story goes into that a little from what I’ve read so far and now I understand what the Union Army could have told the soldiers to make them fight the Indians. I’m kind-of dreading reading about what is going to happen once they get out west-already knowing its history. I shall prevail!

I’m almost done listening to The Last Mrs. Parish and boy oh boy there is a HUGE twist in the story. Not only that but the characters are disturbing to say the least! Wow! Good story though, really good. One of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while, I must say.

Have a wonderful weekend and see you on Monday!

Cheers!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

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

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.