The Color Blue & New Projects

Blue Books

Lately I have been on the color blue. Not sure why but I like it and there are really great shades of blue to use in art or in other mediums. Art along with books and photography are passions of mine and over the last three years I have been wanting to focus in expanding these mediums.

As many of you know, I am busy working on starting up two new businesses and one will be starting soon and the other-Novel Expressions-will be starting in January 2018. Flashlight Commentary and I will be co-owners of Novel Expressions and we have come up with a new concept of blog tours for Historical Fiction. As a Historical Fiction lover, I am thrilled to be coming up with a new concept for this endeavor. We are in the process of building the site and more updates of the project will come soon.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and thank you for visiting Layered Pages!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

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Art & Bookish Things

Me outside October 2017

Good morning or what’s left of it! I hope everyone had a great Monday. I was able to get a few things done yesterday and over the weekend I got some reading time in and an art project almost completed. I’m already outlining or planning-if you will- the next art project I’ve had in my mind for a while. I’ve always been fascinated with trees and drawing them. There is a tree on a farm that my daughter and I pass quite often right outside our neighborhood that has always drawn me in. The tree is a pine and the branches are uniquely curved and it gives a haunting look to the observer. I am going to do my best to capture its essence in the new art project. As for the other art projects I have been working on, you shall see those soon.

On September 17 I posted an excerpt review of Origin by Dan Brown. That was my first time writing that kind-of review for a book. Now I am currently listening to the whole novel on Audible. I can’t wait to share my final thoughts of the story to you all soon. Be on the lookout for it!

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

OriginOrigin (Robert Langdon #5) by Dan Brown

Published October 3rd 2017 by Doubleday Books

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

 

A Weekend of Reading & Art

Fall reading display 2017

I am having a lot of fun with my Fall time displays this year. This is the first year I have really been proactive in sharing them with you all. I am hoping to do this on an ongoing basis as part as my blogging journey. One must explore their creativity and recording these mediums will heighten the cherish memories even more. This weekend I will be finishing a couple of art projects and I want to get some reading time in. Please feel free to share what you will be doing this weekend!

I hope you all have a lovely, creative weekend! See you on Monday!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: Oil and Marble (A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo) by Stephanie Storey

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.

Oil and Marble A Novel of Leonardo and MichelangeloOil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo by Stephanie Storey

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published March 1st 2016 by Arcade Publishing

Legendary geniuses clash in both art and life in this “tremendously entertaining” novel of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo (The New York Times).

For a few years at the very beginning of the sixteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome fifty-year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Working against an impossible deadline, he begins his feverish carving.

Meanwhile, Leonardo’s life is falling apart: he loses the hoped-for David commission; he can’t seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market—a merchant’s wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse.

Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo’s genius. Both will become immortal through their art.

Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry and “a rewarding read for art aficionados and fans of historical fiction” (Booklist). Here, Stephanie Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, bringing to life the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters with extraordinary empathy.

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My thoughts on the cover, title and premise:

I came across this book on Amazon and as an art history lover, I became intrigue with its cover. I recognized the style and hue immediately. How in the world have I not come across this book already, I ask myself? I love everything about the cover, title and premise. I look forward to reading the story to find out if it is as good as it looks.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Her latest cover crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede-Coming soon

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books-Coming soon

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation-Coming soon

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum-Coming soon

Stay calm and support book bloggers

 

Social Stratification in the Arts

by Mitchell James Kaplan

We want to believe in the tired cliché, La Boheme, the noble artist-as-rebel rejecting the vanity of status and the pecking order. This is of course a romantic notion – the artist as conscience, free of society’s hangups, liberated through self-expression. Its roots extend deeper than the romantic period, back to the medieval monastery – the ultimate opt-out for aristocrats who yearned for a more authentic life.

In reality, the society of artists is not different than any other society. Speaking only of literary society, which I know better than the others: there is an upper class of Nobel, Pulitzer, and Man Booker Prize winners. There’s an upper-middle class of best-selling authors. There’s a middle class that, like the middle class in the rest of society, has been dramatically shrinking through the last decades. In the publishing industry, this stratum is called the “mid-list.” And there’s the lower class of self-published authors – “lower-class,” that is, in the eyes of some conventionally published authors.

Authors can occasionally climb up this totem pole, but it isn’t easy. A parvenu has a hard time gaining acceptance in old-money circles. And then there are the nobles déchus, those whose Nobel prizes are growing dusty. They’re no longer earning, but they retain their pedigree. Perhaps the bottle speaks to them more, these days, than the Muse. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter what they write, anyway. No matter what they scribble, the critics will line up in praise. Their place on the totem pole is fixed.

Clearly, there are two status symbols that determine where an author fits in this social system, prizes and money. These markers serve two primary purposes: they determine the pecking order within the society of artists (who gets to express contempt for whom, and who gets to envy whom) and they help steer readers toward “books of quality.”

But what, exactly, is a book of quality? I’ll give you a hint. Study Literature at the college of your choosing. Get a PhD, even. You’ll get to read of lot of great books. But no one will be able to tell you why they’re great. On the day when you receive your degree, you still won’t be able to answer that most basic of questions any better than people who never finished college – or never even started – people like Maya Angelou, Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, and William Shakespeare.

Don’t get me wrong. Within the context of any culture, at a given moment, there may well be something like a consensus. Books that reflect the world-view of the educated class are going to win the prizes. Everyone likes a mirror, after all. At least, everyone who considers herself or himself to be beautiful. And books that express the yearnings and fears of the merchant and professional classes will earn their authors substantial material rewards. But none of this has anything to do with quality. Some of my favorite living authors have been the recipients of major prizes. Some are best-sellers. Some are unknown.

Quality is not measured in dollars or prizes. Quality is measured in the taste buds. You know it when you bite into it. And the good news is, there are still authors who care about quality more than status. But, as in every age, they are few and far between. And you may not find them where you would expect to find them. Sometimes, browsing in a used book store, I’ll pull out a tome that no one has seen in decades, start reading, and think, Wow, I never heard of this author. This is great. Maybe no one else ever heard of that author, either. Maybe no one ever will.

I think of Felix Mendelsohn, and how he revived the reputation of Johann Sebastian Bach. What would have happened to Bach, had Mendelsohn not come along? But then, Bach wrote for God, not for man. Maybe, just maybe, wherever he is – in the ground, in heaven – Bach doesn’t really care.

About Author:

Mitchell Kaplan Streawberry fields

Mitchell James Kaplan, a graduate of Yale University, is the author of the prize-winning novel, “By Fire, By Water.” He is currently putting the final touches on his second novel, “Same Stars, Different Constellations,” which is set in Brittania, Rome, and Judea in the first century.

By Fire, By WaterAbout By Fire, By Water:

Paperback: 284 pages

Published May 18, 2010

Recipient of the Independent Publishers Award for Historical Fiction (Gold Medal), the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Historical Fiction (Bronze Medal), and an honorable mention in the category of General Fiction for the Eric Hoffer Award.

Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands.  But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.

Available on Amazon HERE