Monday Bookish Happenings: The Love Of A Good Story

Good morning my fellow readers! How was your weekend? Did you get some reading time in or discover new books? I got about six hours of reading in but was hoping for more but not complaining. My daughter and I spent some nice time together and went to the movies yesterday. I haven’t been in months! It was nice. I am busy trying to catch on reviews I have to get through and last week I posted by first review in a while. You can check it out HERE. Be sure to take a look at the books I am currently reading. There are some great recommendations here. Reviews for these books will come soon. Enjoy your day and happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Moriarty Meets His MatchFor all you Sherlock fans, this book is for you! I am really enjoying the story thus far.

Moriarty Meets His Match (A Professor & Mrs. Moriarty Mystery #1) by Anna Castle

Professor James Moriarty has but one desire left in his shattered life: to prevent the man who ruined him from harming anyone else. Then he meets amber-eyed Angelina Gould and his world turns upside down.

At an exhibition of new inventions, an exploding steam engine kills a man. When Moriarty tries to figure out what happened, he comes up against Sherlock Holmes, sent to investigate by Moriarty’s old enemy. Holmes collects evidence that points at Moriarty, who realizes he must either solve the crime or swing it for it himself. He soon uncovers trouble among the board members of the engine company and its unscrupulous promoter. Moriarty tries to untangle those relationships, but everywhere he turns, he meets the alluring Angelina. She’s playing some game, but what’s her goal? And whose side is she on?

Between them, Holmes and Angelina push Moriarty to his limits — and beyond. He’ll have to lose himself to save his life and win the woman he loves.

Golden HillSo far this story has beautiful writing, lively and interesting characters and their interactions with each other are entertaining but there doesn’t seem to be much of a strong plot unless I’ve missed something. I hope. Not giving up on it because of the style of writing has me intrigued and I need to know how Mr. Smith acquired his fortune! Though I have my suspicions!

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746.

One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money.

Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?

As fast as a heist movie, as stuffed with incident as a whole shelf of conventional fiction, Golden Hill is both a novel about the 18th century, and itself a book cranked back to the novel’s 18th century beginnings, when anything could happen on the page, and usually did, and a hero was not a hero unless he ran the frequent risk of being hanged.

This is Fielding’s Tom Jones recast on Broadway – when Broadway was a tree-lined avenue two hundred yards long, with a fort at one end flying the Union Jack and a common at the other, grazed by cows.

Rich in language and historical perception, yet compulsively readable, Golden Hill has a plot that twists every chapter, and a puzzle at its heart that won’t let go till the last paragraph of the last page.

Set a generation before the American Revolution, it paints an irresistible picture of a New York provokingly different from its later self: but subtly shadowed by the great city to come, and already entirely a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself afresh, fall in love – and find a world of trouble.

The Women in the CastleWhat I am listening too and the first half was good but it’s starting to be a bit cumbersome with all the names and trying to keep the story straight in my head. I should have gotten a printed book for this instead of an audio. But not giving up on it!

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Mask of Duplicity (The Jacobite Chronicles Book 1)What I want to read next. Though I normally avoid romance, this looks interesting and I wam willing to give it a try.

Mask of Duplicity (The Jacobite Chronicles #1) by Julia Brannan

Following the death of their father, Beth’s brother Richard returns from the army to claim his share of the family estate. However, Beth’s hopes of a quiet life are dashed when Richard, dissatisfied with his meagre inheritance and desperate for promotion, decides to force her into a marriage for his military gain. And he will stop at nothing to get his way.

Beth is coerced into a reconciliation with her noble cousins in order to marry well and escape her brutal brother. She is then thrown into the glittering social whirl of Georgian high society and struggles to conform. The effeminate but witty socialite Sir Anthony Peters offers to ease her passage into society and she is soon besieged by suitors eager to get their hands on her considerable dowry. Beth, however, wants love and passion for herself, and to break free from the artificial life she is growing to hate. She finds herself plunged into a world where nothing is as it seems and everyone hides behind a mask. Can she trust the people professing to care for her?

The first in the series about the fascinating lives of beautiful Beth Cunningham, her family and friends during the tempestuous days leading up to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which attempted to overthrow the Hanoverian King George II and restore the Stuarts to the British throne.

Join the rebellion of one woman and her fight for survival in…

The Jacobite Chronicles.

Bookish Happenings: Into the Wilderness

It’s been rather quiet on Layered Pages lately. I do promise to try to pick up the pace again soon. I have had a lot going on as many of you know. I’ve been reading a lot more lately so I have several reviews to draft. This past weekend I picked up, Into The Wilderness by Sara Donati. I am almost half way through it. For those of you who have read it, you will know it is a big novel to digest. I’m enjoying it thus far; the story takes place in one of my favorite periods in American History. Check out the Book blurb below.

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Into The Wilderness by Sara DonatiWeaving a vibrant tapestry of fact and fiction, Into the Wilderness sweeps us into another time and place…and into the heart of a forbidden, incandescent affair between a spinster Englishwoman and an American frontiersman. Here is an epic of romance and history that will captivate readers from the very first page.

When Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, leaves her Aunt Merriweather’s comfortable English estate to join her father and brother in the remote mountain village of Paradise on the edge of the New York wilderness, she does so with a strong will and an unwavering purpose: to teach school.

It is December of 1792 when she arrives in a cold climate unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man different from any she has ever encountered–a white man dressed like a Native American, tall and lean and unsettling in his blunt honesty. He is Nathaniel Bonner, also known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives.

Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village–white, black, and Native American–Elizabeth soon finds herself at odds with local slave owners. Much to her surprise, she clashes with her own father as well. Financially strapped, Judge Middleton has plans for his daughter–betrothal to local doctor Richard Todd. An alliance with Todd could extract her father from ruin but would call into question the ownership of Hidden Wolf, the mountain where Nathaniel, his father, and a small group of Native Americans live and hunt.

As Judge Middleton brings pressure to bear against his daughter, she is faced with a choice between compliance and deception, a flight into the forest, and a desire that will bend her hard will to compromise and transformation. Elizabeth’s ultimate destiny, here in the heart of the wilderness, lies in the odyssey to come: trials of faith and flesh, and passion born amid Nathaniel’s own secrets and divided soul.

Interweaving the fate of the remnants of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.

Cover Crush: From Rome With Love by Jules Wake

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

from-rome-with-loveHarperCollins UK, HarperImpulse

HarperImpulse

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Pub Date 13 Jan 2017

If you can’t stand the heat…

Rome is the city of love and seduction, right? Not if you find yourself staying in a beautiful apartment with your childhood-friend-turned-arch-enemy, Will Ryan…no matter how hot he is!

Romance is the last thing on Lisa’s mind. She’s got more important things to focus on, like hunting down her estranged father. Except when her search falls at the first hurdle, Will doesn’t just help her get back on track, he also shares the romantic sights – and exquisite tastes – of the Eternal City, and Lisa starts to wonder if it’s not just Rome seducing her.

Only, as Lisa and Will dig into the past, neither of them is prepared for the long-buried secrets they reveal. Secrets that will turn both their world’s upside down.

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I spotted, From Rome With Love’s cover on NetGalley. I love it. I like the airy and light feel it gives you. It makes me long for Summer and traveling…Kudos to the design team!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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More Great Cover Crushes!

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

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation 

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

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Book Review: Dead Silence (Stillwater Trilogy #1) by Brenda Novak

dead-silenceThere’s a body buried behind a Mississippi farmhouse

Grace Montgomery knows who it is, and she knows why it happened. She was only thirteen the night it all went wrong. And now, like then, she has no choice but to keep her mouth shut.

Grace left the town of Stillwater thirteen years ago, trying to forget, trying to make good. As an assistant D.A. in Jackson, she’s finally achieved the success that was supposed to change her life. But it hasn’t so she’s come back to confront her own history. Which means returning to the farmhouse now owned by her brother and facing the people of Stillwater, a number of whom suspect the truth.

Widower Kennedy Archer is one of those people. He’s running for mayor and needs to stay as far away from Grace as possible. And yetshe’s an enigma he can’t resist. Even though her enemies are close to finding out what really happened and that could ruin them both.

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me-iiMy thoughts:

I connected with Brenda Novak a few years ago on Facebook and even though I followed her post, I hadn’t read her books. Until recently. Dead Silence is the third book I have read by her and I must say, she writes a heck of a story. Having said that, I am not a romance reader or reviewer. Sometimes I make an allowance. The story has to have more than just romance and the plot has to be solid. I do love a good crime thriller and mystery, so her stories fit that bill nicely. I also have to admire how she is not heavy on the romance but gives you realistic relationship situations.

Dead Silence is the first book in the Stillwater Trilogy and I’m really looking forward to the next book. I think what first appealed to me about this book was the setting. As a southerner myself, I am always on the lookout for stories that take place in the South. The second thing that drew my attention was the premise. A body buried on a farm and the family is trying to forget but how can they when the body is buried on their property and they know why? One of the family members Grace-who was probably affected the most-left years ago to only return and face the secrets her family tried to bury along with the body and a town who is suspicious of what happened. Now that makes for a great story!

When she returned to town, she did not expect to stay long or get find a connection in the most likely of men-Widower Kennedy Archer. I enjoyed their interaction and how they come to grips with their problems and how their relationship develops. I look forward to reading more about them in the next book and will be cheering for them!

Last but not least, I really thought Novak did a great job with the supporting characters and they really enriched the story and I thought the small town feel she gives you was perfectly told.

I rated this book three and a half stars!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Book Review: To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

to-capture-what-we-cannot-seeIn February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France–a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live–one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.

My Thoughts:

As I’m sure most of the people in the world know of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. It has always been a deep fascination for me. I have to admit growing up I questioned why it was built but never really wondered at who built it and the ingenuity that went into it. As I got a bit older, I did think on that and about the people who built the tower. I was delighted when this book came along. During that era, the tower became the largest man-made structure in the world. As it was being constructed, many people doubted it’s success. The tower-of course-proved its grandeur.

In To Capture What We Cannot Keep we meet Émile Nouguier, the engineer and co-designer of the Tower. He meets a Scottish woman Cait-who is a chaperone for two rich, spoiled older young adults. Throughout the story of Emile’s, Cait and her charges become the center focus and how life deals with them. Or rather how they deal with life. We are also introduced to a supporting cast of a collective group of people.

The storyline of the tower being built was genius and the author gives such wonderful insight of the process. Alas, the overall plot dragged for me about almost half way through and I felt the relationship between Cait and Emile was poorly told. I kept wondering when it was going to happen! The Romance that is….I wasn’t convinced of the appeal they had for each other or the love for that matter. The main characters frustrated me, and the story left me just wanting to read about the Tower, Paris, the art world and nothing else.

Having said that, many parts of the story was atmospheric and resonated Paris of that time. The author did a good job getting you into that world and attitudes of the people. There are also some morality issues that play a part in this book and the character’s predicaments were rather interesting.

I rated this book three Stars.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page

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the-worthington-wifeLady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England’s bright, young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancé’s legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.

The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia’s plans as well as Cal’s secrets—proves that passion is ambition’s greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.

My thoughts on the cover and premise:

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I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit I first judge a book by its cover.

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As a rule of mine, I generally do not read romance novels. For various reasons I won’t get into here today. However, this cover and premise caught my eye. I know many people would ask why. There-I’m sure-are many similar romance stories like this one. Or maybe there is something that sets this book apart. When one opens a book, we can only hope that there is…

This story is also a period piece, so that draws me in some and the fact that I like the era. Another thing, I find reading about impulsive marriages interesting. I am always curious to the reasons why we rush into things and I am always on a lookout for something original to analyze. I know that sounds, “Geekish” but there you have it.

My moods about cover art vary at times, so today I like this cover and maybe I will think differently another day. The cover is appealing in the sense of time and place. The woman’s dress is stunning and I love the chair she is sitting on. As I look at the picture of the estate, I think, “I could live there!”

I am taking a serious chance with this book and adding it to my reading list. Let’s see if it draws out that passion, the unconventional American personality, a woman’s bold aspirations of that era and if she withstands Cal’s darkest vendetta.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Check out her latest here.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush: 

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

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**Bookish Happenings**

book-open

Today, I’m sharing a few bookish things that have been going on this week from my fellow book bloggers, indieBRAG and myself at Layered Pages. We are completely drawn into the world of stories and the people who write them. Our passion is to share our love of reading, good reads and our hunt for them. Daily we are exploring social media and various book sites for the next great read. In this post, I will share some posts highlights and events happening this week from the people I mentioned above.

This week at Layered Pages, I have created several posts but I would like to highlight my Wish-List 5: Dublin Murder Squad. Take a look at the post here and be sure to check out my other post this week! Lots of great books mentioned.

Right now I am reading several books. One of them is a buddy read and I wonder if we are ever going to be able to finish it! The book is, To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin. We recently finished buddy reading, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (I have LOTs to say about this book!). I am still reading Lincoln’s Autocrat (The Life of Edwin Stanton) by William Marvel, The Civil War Source Book by Philip Katcher (I’m having issues with some of the content but it’s interesting), Yesternight by Cat Winters (almost done) and recently started, The Good Sisters by Helen Phifer. This latest book I started is for review and I will be through with it this week. I know, it’s a lot of reading material to read at once but I am able to keep up with it and I can’t help myself.

the-good-sisters

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Here is a few of my fellow book bloggers highlights for the week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are so dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs as well.

A Bookaholic Swede’s Post highlight this week: Wish-List October: Most Wanted Mystery Books of 20017

Flashlight Commentary’s Post Highlight this week:  Cover Cliché: Old Hollywood Glamour

A Literary Vacation’s Post Highlight this week: Spotlight on Fill the Sky by Katherine A. Sherbrooke + Giveaway!!

The maiden’s Court’s Post Highlight this week: Wish List 5: Microhistories

2 Kids and Tired Book’s Post Highlight this week: Duty to the Crown…Review

there-is-still-time-indiebrag-event

indieBRAG is holding a month long Halloween event here! The event ends Monday the 31st. Be sure to check out all the great posts by some our B.R.A.G. Honorees, book deals and enter your chance to win a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card!

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Thank you all for visiting Layered Pages today and checking out what is happening with my fellow book bloggers, indieBRAG and I! We greatly appreciate your support and enthusiasm for great reads! Check back next week with all of us for more great bookish happenings!