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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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

Fall Reads: Paperbacks On My Shelf

Fall banner 2017

As a book reviewer it is not often I have time to read books from my personal library. I have made it a goal to read at least five books from my shelf by the end of November. I really hope I met that goal seeing as I have others to get through for review.

I had a lot of fun putting this collection of books together and creating a fall theme presentation for them. I am rather pleased with how it turned out and I feel it gives me a better sense of anticipation to read the books. I look forward to journaling about them soon. Once I get the journal going I will be sure to share with you of how it is coming together.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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The Guineveres IIThe Guineveres by Sarah Domet

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published October 4th 2016 by Flatiron Books

To four girls who have nothing, their friendship is everything: they are each other’s confidants, teachers, and family. The girls are all named Guinevere – Vere, Gwen, Ginny, and Win – and it is the surprise of finding another Guinevere in their midst that first brings them together.

They come to The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration convent by different paths, delivered by their families, each with her own complicated, heartbreaking story that she safeguards. Gwen is all Hollywood glamour and swagger; Ginny is a budding artiste with a sentiment to match; Win’s tough bravado isn’t even skin deep; and Vere is the only one who seems to be a believer, trying to hold onto her faith that her mother will one day return for her. However, the girls are more than the sum of their parts and together they form the all-powerful and confident The Guineveres, bound by the extraordinary coincidence of their names and girded against the indignities of their plain, sequestered lives.

The nuns who raise them teach the Guineveres that faith is about waiting: waiting for the mail, for weekly wash day, for a miracle, or for the day they turn eighteen and are allowed to leave the convent. But the Guineveres grow tired of waiting. And so, when four comatose soldiers from the War looming outside arrive at the convent, the girls realize that these men may hold their ticket out.

In prose shot through with beauty, Sarah Domet weaves together the Guineveres’ past, present, and future, as well as the stories of the female saints they were raised on, to capture the wonder and tumult of girlhood and the magical thinking of young women as they cross over to adulthood.

The Cherry HarvestThe Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

Hardcover, 326 pages

Published June 2nd 2015 by William Morrow

A memorable coming-of-age story and love story, laced with suspense, which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community . . . with dark and unexpected consequences

The war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family well fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, and most of the other local men, are fighting in Europe.

When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit.

But when Thomas befriends one of the prisoners, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate, the implications of Charlotte’s decision become apparent—especially when she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Karl. So busy are they with the prisoners that Charlotte and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with dreams and temptations of her own—including a secret romance with the son of a wealthy, war-profiteering senator. And when their beloved Ben returns home, bitter and injured, bearing an intense hatred of Germans, Charlotte’s secrets threaten to explode their world.

The Secret ChordThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

Hardcover, 302 pages

Published October 6th 2015 by Viking

Peeling away the myth to bring the Old Testament’s King David to life in Second Iron Age Israel, Brooks traces the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage.

The Secret Chord provides new context for some of the best-known episodes of David’s life while also focusing on others, even more remarkable and emotionally intense, that have been neglected.  We see David through the eyes of those who love him or fear him—from the prophet Natan, voice of his conscience, to his wives Mikhal, Avigail, and Batsheva, and finally to Solomon, the late-born son who redeems his Lear-like old age. Brooks has an uncanny ability to hear and transform characters from history, and this beautifully written, unvarnished saga of faith, desire, family, ambition, betrayal, and power will enthrall her many fans.

The Beekeeper's ApprenticeThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #1) by Laurie R. King

Paperback, 341 pages

Published March 26th 2002 by Bantam

Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes’ pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villain enters the picture, their partnership is put to a real test.

A Monstrous Regiment of WomenA Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #2) by Laurie R. King

Paperback, 336 pages

Published 2000 by HarperCollins

Looking for respite in London after a stupefying visit from relatives, Mary encounters a friend from Oxford. The young woman introduces Mary to her current enthusiasm, a strange and enigmatic woman named Margery Childe, who leads something called “The New Temple of God.” It seems to be a charismatic sect involved in the post-World War I suffrage movement, with a feminist slant on Christianity. Mary is curious about the woman, and intrigued. Is the New Temple a front for something more sinister? When a series of murders claims members of the movement’s wealthy young female volunteers and principal contributors, Mary, with Holmes in the background, begins to investigate. Things become more desperate than either of them expected as Mary’s search plunges her into the worst danger she has faced yet.

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Book Review: Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Lost For WordsLoveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

My Thoughts:

I was thrilled to discover this book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I enjoy reading books when they involve bookstores and bookish people. Alas, I must admit in first half of the book, I was frustrated and was ready to ditch the book. However, I rallied on and certain aspects of the story became a bit stronger about almost half way in.

The story is written in Loveday’s POV and she is an interesting character. I must admit at first I wasn’t sure she was going to grow on me but as I read on she came out of her shell-if you will- somewhat and I began to sympathize with her.

Loveday works in a second hand book shop and her boss Archie is quite the character! He seemed to know everyone and has been everywhere. I wanted that to be explored more. There can be a whole other book written about him in my opinion. I felt he was the life of the story.

The story has a subject matter about unhealthy and often times abusive and deadly relationships. There are some areas of this matter where I felt it was weakly portrayed and areas where it was strong. After thinking about it for a while, my only contingent would be that maybe the overall story would have been stronger if there was more background on the people’s life experience as to why their relationships were unhealthy. Another thing that bothered me was the tragedy that Loveday experienced as a child wasn’t satisfactory for the plot.

Having said that, I enjoyed reading this story. The premise is a good one, the ending was heartfelt and I loved the poetry included as part of what helps brings two people together in this story. I will be on the lookout for more stories by this author.

I rated this book three stars.

I obtained a copy of this book from Bonnier Zaffre through NetGalley.

A Shout Out To indieBRAG Readers!

indiebrag sunny banner

I’d like to give a shout out to all our hard working readers at
indieBRAG.

They come from all over the globe and are enthusiastic about their love for books. Many people have asked, “Who are your readers?” Well, we have readers with PHDs, who are book bloggers, book reviewers, editors, teachers, students, designers, business men and women, and much more. We are proud of our team and the hard work they do in discovering the next B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

Coming soon to the indieBRAG Blog I will be talking about what authors should do before submitting their books to indieBRAG and what our readers expect. Stay tuned and be sure to give a shout out to our readers on twitter @IndieBrag or on the indieBRAG Facebook Page. Their voice matters and where would we be without them?

indieBRAG Facebook Page
Would you like you like to be part of our reading team at indieBRAG? To find out more about what we do and how to become a reader, click HERE to sign up!

Layered Pages Top Reads: 2016

I was a bit conflicted how I was going to compile this list. Should I just post about five star ratings or post about my top books for three to five star ratings? I read a little over ninety books in 2016. Today I thought I would share my top five star ratings and four star ratings. This does not include the non-fictions books I’ve read. That is for another post. This list is in no particular order except for Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris. Best book I read for 2016. If you would like to know my thoughts on each book, please click on the title and it will take you to my review. Last year was another great year of wonderful reads and I am looking forward to what is to come for 2017! Enjoy!

Five Star Rating:

good-time-coming-iiGood Time Coming by C.S. Harris

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins

SAWBONES by Melissa Lenhardt

The Secret Life of Winnie Cox: Slavery, Forbidden Love and Tragedy by Sharon Maas

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard -Review still to come

Four Star Rating:

in-the-shadowsIn the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-Review still to come

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

time-of-fog-and-fire-cook-coverTime of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

Hold My Heart by Esther M. Soto

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and please be sure to come back tomorrow!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Manic Monday & Bookish Delights

me-iiAs we all know Mondays can be pretty manic and generally I look forward to Monday’s nonetheless. As many of you know, Friday I mentioned I was still in a reading slump. Well, guess what?! I’m not anymore! This past weekend I was able to finish two books and start on another one. So I am delighted about that! This week be on the lookout for the reviews for those two book here on Layered Pages. Also, Saturday I received in the mail, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen that I had ordered from Amazon. Hooray for more books!

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I would like to mention a few other bookish things that have happen Friday and over the weekend:

  1. On Facebook Friday, I spotted a post called, A Day In The Life and it is hilarious! Check it out HERE.
  2. I always like to hear about writer’s favorite book stores. I spotted 7Writers on Their Favorite Bookstores over at the Historical Novel Society on Facebook. You can check out the post HERE.
  3. I love to see what my fellow book bloggers are up too on their Facebook Pages. Check out A Bookaholics Mad World’s page HERE.
  4. Last but not least, I have been getting some awesome page views on my interview with best-selling author C.S. Harris. If you haven’t read my interview with her, click HERE to see what she has to say!

Thank you for visiting Layered pages today and be sure to come back tomorrow! Happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins