April: Book Round-Up

This month’s reading was an adventure to say the least. I wasn’t sure how much time I would have for ready considering the amount of time I have been putting in to creating art and other pursuits. I found myself reading at odd times. I’m quite pleased that I read a book a week. After reading The Four Winds, I was going to start on Heart of the Frontier by Brittany Larsen, Jen Geigle Johnson, Jennie Hansen and Carolyn Twede Frankmm but I felt like reading a modern-day story and read Home by Harlan Coben instead. I enjoyed every single book I read this month and excited about May’s reading forecast. -Stephanie Hopkins

Number of pages read in April: 1,570

Here are the titles I’ve read for March and the review post dates:

Home (Myron Bolitar #11) by Harlan Coben

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Emily’s House by Amy Belding Brown

Love Story (The Baxter Family #1) by Karen Kingsbury

Art in Motion: Depth of Nature

Abstract Painting by Stephanie Hopkins

“The beautiful, which is perhaps inseparable from art, is not after all tied to the subject, but to the pictorial representation. In this way and in no other does art overcome the ugly without avoiding it.” – Paul Klee

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Book Review: Finding Napoleon by Margaret Rodenberg

Published April 6th 2021 by She Writes Press

Margaret Rodenberg brings us a story of Emperor Napoleon’s defeat and his exile on the Island of Helena in what is still, consider to this day, one of the most remote Island on earth. Finding Napoleon is about his final years and his plot to escape the Island and rescue his son. While on the Island, trust in the people surrounding him is quite the skill to say the least.

In the beginning, I felt as if the characters were moving parts in a play. Told where to stand, what to say and when to say it. I’m not sure that makes much sense but, in better words, I felt very little for them and that very well may be the point. Napoleon was using them and they were using him. We aren’t meant to have warm and fuzzy feelings for these people. They weren’t exactly pillars of society in terms of being moral and honest people. In my opinion, they were opportunist. As for the people of the Island, Tobyson, Hercules and Betsy were good people and despite Napoleon’s faults, they held him in high regard.

While Napoloen’s love affair with Albine wasn’t particularly “romantic”, I felt the author’s portrayal of their relationship realistic. That said, I still haven’t completely decided how I feel about Albine or her relations with Napoleon for that matter. Afterall, she was a married woman and I don’t say this with naivety. I’m well aware of the culture during that time. Maybe she felt she had to do what she did for survival.

Albine is a complex woman and people considered her a liar and a loose woman. Though many of the very people who said those things about her, were no better. In the end, she made good on a promise to Napoleon and I had to admire her for that. I would like to believe that leaving that Island and her changed circumstances in life, made her a better person in the end.

I feel Rosenberg depicted Napoleon’s ego as how I have always imagined it to be. Napoleon is intelligent and he very well knows it. He is always scheming and, in my opinion, using people for his own purpose and pleasures. He is a master manipulator. Despite his thirst for his own glory or survival-if you will-I found his interest in the world and how things worked intriguing to read about. He is a good listener and you do see a softer side to him in this story but I remain-rightfully so- suspicious of his motives.

I’ve read many novels about Napoleon but very little of his time on St. Helena or the end of his life in-depth such as this one. Nor was I familiar with the fact he began to write a story that was unfinished. That was exciting to learn and it intrigued me enough to read this book and wanting to know the author’s take on the history. I can’t help but wonder what his life would have been life if he had chosen a different path. He could have possibly done so much good with his intellect and charismatic personality.

You are reading two different stories with Finding Napoleon and how Rosenberg beautifully weaves Napoleon’s writing efforts into the time line and expanding on the story, is close to brilliant.

I appreciate the author’s obvious fascination with Napoleon. He is definitely a hot topic for discussion and this fact certainly shows in this book.

I recommend Finding Napoleon to readers who are already familiar with Napoleon’s life before his stay on the Island.

Stephanie Hopkins

I obtained a copy from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

More about the book:

With its delightful adaptation of Napoleon Bonaparte’s real attempt to write a novel, Finding Napoleon offers a fresh take on Europe’s most powerful man after he’s lost everything. A forgotten woman of history–Napoleon’s last love, the audacious Albine de Montholon–narrates their tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal.

After the defeated Emperor Napoleon goes into exile on tiny St. Helena Island in the remote South Atlantic, he and his lover, Albine de Montholon, plot to escape and rescue his young son. Banding together African slaves, British sympathizers, a Jewish merchant, a Corsican rogue, and French followers, they confront British opposition–as well as treachery within their own ranks–with sometimes subtle, sometimes bold, but always desperate action.
When Napoleon and Albine break faith with one another, ambition and Albine’s husband threaten their reconciliation. To succeed, Napoleon must learn whom to trust. To survive, Albine must decide whom to betray.

Two hundred years after Napoleon’s death, this elegant, richly researched novel reveals a relationship history conceals.

Art in Motion: Beauty of the Butterfly

Paper Crafting by Stephanie Hopkins

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. -Maya Angelou  

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Book Review: The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker

Published February 16th 2021 by Level Best Books

About the book: Set during the darkest days of the American Revolution, The Turncoat’s Widow tells the fictional story of General Washington’s most reluctant spy, a young widow who races times and traitors in New York City and Morristown circa 1780 to uncover a plot that threatens the new nation’s future. With elements of romance and suspense, this historical mystery also explores themes of resilience, loss, and the courage needed to leave the past behind.

My thoughts:

The American Revolutionary era is one of my favorite periods to read about. I have been hard pressed lately to find good and unique fictional stories about the subject. When I first saw The Turncoat’s Widow’s book cover and read the description, I knew I found solid gold.

Becker brilliantly captures the mindsets of people’s opinions about the war and what was happening around them. She takes us on a journey to a prison war ship, espionage, mingling with notable historical figures, blended with romance and friendships developing in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Becker is a compelling story writer and she deftly places her readers at the edge of their seat with this adventurous read.

I was impressed with how impeccably the story flowed and the author’s attention to historical detail. I’m trusting we will get to read more of these fascinating character’s adventures? I certainly hope so.

An outstanding debut novel!

Stephanie Hopkins  

I obtained a copy from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

New Book Release: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Congrats to Camilla Sten book publication of, “The Lost Village!”

Published March 23rd 2021 by Minotaur Books

About the book:

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

“First, I must mention that I chose this story for two reasons. The story takes place in Sweden. Perfect setting for a story such as this.” You can read more of my review at this post link. -Stephanie Hopkins

Book Review: A Conventicle of Magpies by L.M.R. by LMR Clarke

(The Bloodskill Duology Book 1)

BooksGoSocial

Sci Fi & Fantasy

Pub Date 06 Jan 2021  

About the Book:

Rook is an unapologetic thief, determined to do anything to ensure her mother and siblings survive the squalid and dangerous streets of Stamchester.

Rook slips, like a shadow, in and out of the homes of the ruling elite, the Avanish, and steals what she needs. She feels no regret, afterall, the Avanish have enslaved her people, the Saosuíasei, and worse, have now determined the Saosuíasei to be disposable and worthy of nothing other than death. 

However, Rook is not the only shadowy figure in Stamchester. And far more deadly one haunts the filthy streets, striking fear into Avanish and Saosuíasei alike. A serial killer who drains every ounce of blood from his victims, and satisfies the elite’s demand for blood to burn in the magical art of Bloodskill and enhance their own natural, and sometimes unnatural, abilities. 

How can Rook outfox the serial killer and raise her people from the ashes left by the Avanish oppression? 

My Thoughts:

Conventicle girls never surrender.” – Rook

I stepped out of my comfort zone picking up this story and glad I did! I recommend starting with the prologue. You get a clear understanding of just how despicable the people in power AKA the rich are to people who are different from them. The prologue is written as letters between Governor Dredchain and Viscount Trass. They viewed these people as animals that needed to be dealt with swiftly. As you read on, you soon discover their plans are much more sinister and you become further absorbed in the story.

I really enjoyed getting to know a few of the characters and their quirky names. For example: Rook, Pit, Crake, Billy Drainer, and Pigeon- to name a few. That said, there are too many characters introduced and not enough information about them to form any lasting connection or impression, me thinks. Which is important, especially, in a story like this one. Though I felt like I began to know Rook pretty good seeing she is a protagonist.

There is also too many things going on in the story that I felt pushed and pulled -a bit- in different directions. Nonetheless, I kept ready on because the premise itself was so fascinating and the writing engaging! A few interesting aspects include the Victorian setting, conflicts between the characters and the bloodskill.

Fans of Neil Gailman and Suzanne Collins will enjoy this story. Not only that, Clarke gives a bird’s eye view of discrimination and the people who stand up to adversity. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!  

Stephanie Hopkins

I obtained a copy from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

February: Book Round-Up

February was an absolute great month for reading. I read eleven books this month! My goal is to read 100 books this year or a minimum of one book a week. Who knows? I might surpass that goal. This is encouraging since I originally set my goal to read a book a week but I knew I could read more than that with the fabulous selection of books that are coming out and what novels I have on my shelf at home.

I am also making a point to read books that I would normally not pick up. I highly recommend getting gout of the comfort zone a bit. A whole new world will open up and you will defiantly expand your critical thinking. 

What books did you read this month and what are you looking forward to in March?

This book was out of my comfort zone a bit: A Conventicle of Magpies by L.M.R. Clarke

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

Re-Read: No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley

Sunflower Sisters (Lilac Girls, #3) by Martha Hall Kelly

Re-Read: That Summer by Lauren Willig

Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman

The Gilded Hour (The Waverly Place #1) by Sara Donati

Another book was out of my comfort zone a bit: The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by Larry Loftis

What a quirky fun read! 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This one took me a while to get through: Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, an Address Book, a Life by Brigitte Benkemoun

January Book Round-Up / Books Aplenty: March Reading Forecast

Books Aplenty: March Reading Forecast

Normally, I do my best not to discuss which books I will or want to strive to read on any particular month because I believe I did that in December and I did not end up reading, The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel. Which irked me to say the least. That said, I’m thrilled with the selection of titles below and wanted to share them with you. Heck, us book bloggers love talking about books and sharing our excitement of what is to come. The year is still young and the reading forecast has been terrific thus far. I’m confident the pace will keep up.

There are thirty-one days in March, and I am hoping to read 10 books if other projects don’t get in the way. You can find all these titles on goodreads, Amazon and at other booksellers. Lets’ take a look at the covers in this slideshow. -Stephanie Hopkins

Projected March Reads

A New York Secret (Daughters of New York Book 1) by Ella Carey

The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker

The Steel Beneath the Silk by Patricia Bracewell

The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel

The Thin Place by C.D. Major

Finding Napoleon by Margaret Rodenbery

The Abduction of Pretty Penny by Leonard Goldberg

The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable

The Family Plot by Megan Collins

The Necklace by Matt Witten