Discovery and Expression

A Mixed MEdia Circus Image PageOver the weekend I created several pages in my Mixed Media Journal and I discovered a couple things about myself in the journey. For this page I used a magazine clipping that my dear friend Lisl sent me and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

This week I will be sharing three of the pages I made and a couple bookish things.

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I highly recommend expressing your feelings through art journaling or just writing your thoughts down. Sometimes I have a lot to write about and other times I just create a page to just be in the moment and not think too much about things going on in life. The medium is truly therapeutic and so calming. You don’t need a lot of materials and toy can use what you have on hand.  -Stephanie Hopkins

(Images may be subjected to copyright. All book reviews, interviews, guest posts, art work, photos and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.)

Layered Pages Book Art And Current Read

dreamland book artI’m having such a fabulous time reading Bilyeau’s latest stories. Not only that but creating art based off her book covers. There is definitely a blue theme going on with her last three books!

I took photos of my own art and created layers for the background to give it a dream like quality for the creation of the DREAMLAND Banner. My next art project for the cover layout will having slow stitching involved.

I’m currently reading DREAMLAND and loving the story! I’m hooked on a story whenever there is a circus and bookstore involved. Y’all, Bilyeau is one of my favorite writers and she is so engaging online. I highly recommend her stories and following her on social media.

By the way…her e-book, “Ghost of Madison Avenue” is currently 99 cents on Amazon! That is a steal!

-Stephanie Hopkins

Dreamland by Nancy BilyeauDREAMLAND by Nancy Bilyeau

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to the luxurious Oriental Hotel a mile from Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of nearby Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

Relevant Links: 

Read about The Secrets of J.P. Morgan’s Private Library

The Morgan Library & Museum 

Nancy Bilyeau’s Amazon Page 

Saturday Sunday Book Review

Book Review: The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

The Life She Was GivenOn a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time–and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

My thoughts:

If I remember correctly in the last few years I have read a total-including this one-three book that include a circus setting. These stories capture my attention for many reasons. Especially when the story takes place during the depression era in the early 20th Century. The Life She Was Given has a uniqueness to the story unlike the others I have read before it. It should be obvious what it is by reading the book description.

Normally, when I read stories this good, I devour it in a couple of days but I decided to savory this one. During the 1930’s and into the 40’s, the circus struggled to stay open due to the depression. Often times they had to make tough choices and this story shows some of that.  Often times they were cruel, heartbreaking and unnecessary decisions. I have to say that ignorance plays a big part in the decisions. Another theme in this story was the “freak Show,” and how these extraordinary people were treated. There are several other themes to this story that moved me and really portrays how cruel life can be. We all have many things to learn from this story and I highly recommend people read this book.

Wiseman’s ardent portrayal of an era, subject and setting, sets the stage for an unforgettable read.

I have rated this book five stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Stay calm and support book bloggers

Cover Crush: The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

the-life-she-was-givenPaperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Kensington (July 25, 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1617734497

ISBN-13: 978-1617734496

On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time—and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

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 books and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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I love reading stories that involved a traveling circus in the Depression-era and stories in that take place in the 1950’s. Circus theme stories have always fascinated me. I think it’s because you find such complex characters and realities of life unlike your own. But are they really so unlike after all?

Then you have family secrets, tragedy, hope and joy. An extraordinary mix of emotions displayed. These are stories that impact us, change us and open our hearts to other people’s struggles in life. We can learn so much from these stories.

I believe it was the circus tent that first drew my attention to this book. Then it was the little girl in the yellow dress. So atmospheric! The title really is intriguing and makes you want to read about this girl’s life she was given.

I am really looking forward to reading this story. I have pre-ordered my copy!

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 -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!