Book Review: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

As the story-line of the past and present are interwoven, McHahon introduces us to Jax, present day, and Ethel Monroe-early 20th Century. Jax receives numerous missed calls from her troubled sister, Lexie, who lives on their grandmother’s estate. Jax soon discovers Lexie has drowned in the pool and when she arrives at the estate, it is apparent that Lexie has been researching the history of their family’s past.. As Jax unravels the mystery of her sister’s drowning, she realizes that maybe she was wrong about a few things…

In the early 20th Century, Ethel Monroe longs for a child. She and her Husband’s efforts to conceive haven’t come to reality-one might say. When her husband takes her on a trip to Vermont, to ease Ethel’s-stress-to a newly built Hotel, they find out that the area claims the natural springs holds a special power. Ethel’s deep longing to have a child because so strong, she succumbs to the temptation of the water’s powers. As the story unfolds, Ethel soon realizes the reality of what you wish for in this life comes with a price…

A good mystery writer needs to know how to build dramatic tension and suspense that flows evenly through their stories. McMahon certainly knows how to balance those elements and more… She shows, brilliantly, how her characters work through complex situations in their lives and has a unique way of drawing the reader in as if they were experiencing the conflicts for themselves. She most certainly holds a special place in the mystery genre.

McMahon’s stories capture the essence of the human spirit. Every single character in,”The Drowning Kind,” are complex and fascinating. She touches on how fragile relationships of family members and other people in your life or past can be and how many things tend to not be what they seem. Even though the hurt we may experience from others, regrets, and broken bonds can be healed. In short, the character development is outstanding!

The eeriness vibe of the story has you on pins and needles at times. You quickly become involed with the plot and begin to imagine all sorts of scenarios that might happen or did happen. Atmospheric, engrossing and a heck of a lot of, “Oh my word!” holding your breath moments. If you like a good mystery and a well-balanced blend of genres, this book is for you! This is a story I would definitely want to re-visit again.

I rated this book five stars and obtained a galley copy from the Publishers through NetGalley.

Stephanie Hopkins

The Dust Settles

House 4

Landscape Art Journal Page

Off Day in The Garden Oasis-Life Lesson

House 1I started working this journal page on August 10th-I believe- and I really didn’t have a set plan on where I wanted it to take me. I knew I wanted to paint abstract flowers in a field. It was a rocky start so I put the pages aside for a bit to get back to center. We all have days like that.

Not every art project starts out the way it was envisioned or they lead us in other directions. This gave me more determination to keep pushing on and learn from this experience. I was not giving up! When I came back to the pages and started painting, I knew there was a story here. House 2

I envisioned a family living on this land at times battling nature’s unpredictability and what their daily lives must be like living on a farm. The struggles, sadness, working the land, traditions they pass down through the generations and joys they face.

 

House 3I decided not to put windows on the lower part of the house nor the back fields or detail to the gazebo. I wanted some quirky feel to it. To open the mind to a story of one’s own imagination. The sky and back fields represent a dust storm settling and draws your attention to the front fields of abstract flowers. This piece has inspired a much larger abstract I want to paint on canvas.

House 5This is the most paint I’ve ever put on book pages before. The paper held up great! I wish you could see these pages in person. I couldn’t quote seem to capture the vibrant colors with my phone camera. All in all, I’m pleased with the pages and this project  turned out to be an eye-opening experience in painting abstract flowers. I’m used to just drawing life-like ones then painting or coloring them. A new art journey begins…

Stephanie Hopkins

 

 

 

Cover Crush: The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley

The HeiressThe Cover: The blue bottle caught my eye at first. I’m really drawn to the color of blue at present. I do like the flowers in the background and the design gives them a feeling of movement. Really cool.

The Story: While I’m particular about my Austen stories-based books, this one looks mighty interesting! I wonder if it will be as good as the last one, I read? Hmm… Anne has always been at the back of my mind. I will be keeping my eye on what readers get out of this one!

-Stephanie Hopkins

About the Book:

As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.

An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart.

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Art In The Making

This past Saturday I shared my first post in the Index Card Art Challenge 2020. I have to say that this effort is a pleasure to be exploring. The challenge is really giving me the opportunity to be more creative and to expand on my techniques and ideas.

The whole weekend was a time of creating, reflecting and just being in the present moment of my art and self. Sunday evening as I looked backed at what I had been working on, I noticed a color theme happening.

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I made three new journal pages in one of my art journals, created and doodled with my painted collage papers, made a jute art and worked on the index card challenge. My desk remained a big mess the entire time!

I was asked what I listen to when I’m crafting. Sometimes I’m listening to a movie or book. Mostly I listen to sounds like rain or the sound of ocean. I discovered this ambiance yesterday and it is my new favorite! Try it out. Here is the link.

All in all, it was a great weekend! -Stephanie Hopkins

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Index Card Art Challenge 2020: Part 1

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“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Last week I saw pictures of index card art on Instagram as I see many amazing ideas on there. I was really intrigued after I saw a lady complete the challenge and all her beautiful cards. I then knew I had to do this challenge. There are several challenge days you can choose and I chose 100 days. I believe that this will really help with my creativity and at the end of the challenge I will have lots of ways to create more art with the cards.

Every week I will post picture of several days worth of card making and I will be sure to include a link to the weeks before post. A few of my designs will be available for purchase in the near future. Have a bless weekend! -Stephanie Hopkins

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Cover Crush: Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Glory RoadThe Cover: Such a beautiful cover! Makes one want to walk down that dirt road amongst the flowers and trees over hanging.

The Story: What a great title and fitting to the cover design. I do love reading southern stories and about generations of people’s lives. I’m not really into heavy romance so I hope this one fits the bill for me as far as my reading taste goes. The story sounds great and I am adding this one to my to-read pile! -Stephanie Hopkins

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Paperback, 368 pages

Published March 19th 2019 by Thomas Nelson

Written in Lauren Denton’s signature Southern style, Glory Road tells the story of three generations of women navigating the uncertain pathways of their hearts during a summer that promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.

At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she’s fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she’s really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who’s known her better than anyone and whom she hasn’t seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions–particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.

As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.

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All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

All the Devils Are HereNot only is this a great cover, the series is fantastic! One of my favorites around. This particular format I’m spotlighting today is on audio and available for request for NetGalley Members. -Stephanie Hopkins

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Narrated by Robert Bathurst

Macmillan Audio

Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 01 Sep 2020

Description

In All the Devils Are Here, the 16th novel by #1 bestselling author Louise Penny finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec investigating a sinister plot in the City of Light.

On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.

It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books

Cherish The Memories

A Adore MemoriesI spent a couple Summers with my Grandparents when I was in my teens. I have fond memories of that time I had with them. They had a vegetable garden out back. My Grandmother and I would pick all sorts of veggies, sit on the back porch snapping green beans, and enjoying the outdoors. Often, we would spend time in her quilting room and I loved exploring all the wonderful textiles and vintage thread spools she had collected over the years. My mom told me that blue was my Grandmother’s favorite color. That would explain all the blue fabrics I have from her. This page has a piece of her fabric from her stash I inherited. The memories came flooding back as I adhered the fabric on the background. Cherish the time you have with your family and hold tight to the good memories. -Stephanie Hopkins

Cover Crush: Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

Girl in the WallsThe Cover: I’m crazy about the color blue! That is what first caught my attention about this cover. I might have design the cover layout itself a little different to give it a more Gothic feel to it. The cover almost looks Cartoonist to me. Having said that, I love the color, as I said above, the wallpaper, arch way and the clock! The cover has actually inspired me to create an art piece using some influence of the layout.

The Story: Great title for a story and it give it a mysterious feel. From the description, we can see that this is a meaningful story with a life lessons. What is the difference between a house and a home.

There is also the creep vibe to the story that would probably interest a lot of readers. Many people have their own stories to tell about their homes and I’m sure would be interested in this one. Having said that, I have not read this book. I will be keeping my eye on it and how it does with it’s audience! -Stephanie Hopkins

 Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

Expected publication: March 4th 2021 by 4th Estate

Girl in the Walls is a story of overcoming grief, of unconventional friendships and learning that we shouldn’t always fear what we don’t understand. It is about understanding the difference between a house and a home and what it means to lose both.

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie is a teenager now, almost a grown-up. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees our of the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his fierce older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists.

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite into their home?

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Illimitable Depth of the Night Sky

A SkyscapeA Weekend of Art

The last couple of days I’ve been working on a new landscape. This landscape painting is part of a much larger piece. I’m loving the movement of colors and I have to say that creating skies are becoming my favorite art form.  Can’t wait to share more! -Stephanie Hopkins

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