Cover Crush: Painting the Light by Sally Cabot Gunning

About the Cover:

About the book:

Book Description

William Morrow and Custom House

William Morrow

General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction

Pub Date 01 Jun 2021

From the critically acclaimed author of Monticello and The Widow’s War comes a vividly rendered historical novel of love, loss, and reinvention, set on Martha’s Vineyard at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Martha’s Vineyard, 1898. In her first life, Ida Russell had been a painter. Five years ago, she had confidently walked the halls of Boston’s renowned Museum School, enrolling in art courses that were once deemed “unthinkable” for women to take, and showing a budding talent for watercolors.

But no more. Ida Russell is now Ida Pease, resident of a seaside farm on Vineyard Haven, and wife to Ezra, a once-charming man who has become an inattentive and altogether unreliable husband. Ezra runs a salvage company in town with his business partner Mose Barstow, but he much prefers their nightly card games at the local pub to his work in their Boston office, not to mention filling haystacks and tending sheep on the farm at home—duties that have fallen to Ida and their part-time farmhand Lem. Ida, meanwhile, has left her love for painting behind.

It comes as no surprise to Ida when Ezra is hours late for a Thanksgiving dinner, only to leave abruptly for another supposedly urgent business trip to Boston. But then something truly unthinkable happens: a storm strikes, and the Portland sinks. Ezra and Mose are presumed dead.

In the wake of this shocking tragedy, Ida must settle the affairs of Ezra’s estate, a task that brings her to a familiar face from her past—Henry Barstow, Mose’s brother and executor. As she joins Henry in sifting through the remnants of her husband’s life and work, Ida must learn to separate truth from lies and what matters from what doesn’t.

Painting the Light is an arresting portrait of a woman, and a considered meditation on loss and love.

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before the second sleep cover crush

Stephanie Hopkins

Layered Pages Top 2020 Reads

Favorite Books Read in 2020

Last year my Goodreads challenge was to read twenty fiction books. I surpassed that goal and read thirty. However, I read more than thirty books. Beyond that was research books for my writing project and other research projects. I did not count those on goodreads because I’m continually referring to them.

The fiction books below are my top favorite reads, though not in a particular order. This year’s reading goal is much bigger. I will be talking about that more a little later on. What were your favorite 202 reads? -Stephanie Hopkins

Top Favorites

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Be sure to check these titles out on Goodreads and Amazon!

Favorite Covers:

Here are my favorite covers out of the bunch. Which covers do you like?

Cover Crush: The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schabowski

About the Cover: This cover is definitely and eye catcher! Love the landscape and colors.

About the book: There are a lot of books out there about Word War II. Though a bit burned out on them, I find this one interesting. It looks to be character driven. Keeping an eye on this one! -Stephanie

Book Description:

Bookouture

Historical Fiction

Pub Date 20 Jan 2021

An unforgettable novel of human kindness, inspired by an incredible true story.

Snow falls and a woman prepares for a funeral she has long expected, yet hoped would never come. As she pats her hair and straightens her skirt, she tells herself this isn’t the first time she’s lost someone. Lifting a delicate, battered wristwatch from a little box on her dresser, she presses it to her cheek. Suddenly, she’s lost in memory…

January 1945. Dachau, Germany. As the train rattles through the bright, snowy Bavarian countryside, the still beauty outside the window hides the terrible scenes inside the train, where men and women are packed together, cold and terrified. Jewish watchmaker Isaac Schüller can’t understand how he came to be here, and is certain he won’t be leaving alive.

When the prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp, Isaac is unexpectedly pulled from the crowd and installed in the nearby household of Senior Officer Becher and his young, pretty, spoiled wife. With his talent for watchmaking, Isaac can be of use to Becher, but he knows his life is only worth something here as long as Becher needs his skills.

Anna Reznick waits table and washes linens for the Bechers, who dine and socialise and carry on as if they don’t constantly have death all around them. When she meets Isaac she knows she’s found a true friend, and maybe more. But Dachau is a dangerous place where you can never take love for granted, and when Isaac discovers a heartbreaking secret hidden in the depths of Becher’s workshop, it will put Anna and Issac in terrible danger…

A gorgeously emotional and tear-jerking read set during World War Two. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzWe Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.

Be sure to follow and check out more of my art at my Instagram!

before the second sleep cover crush

Stephanie Hopkins

Two in One Talk About Books

Today I’m doing a two in one post about titles that stand out to me and a cover crush. I know. Usual for Layered Pages but fun! When browsing books to choose to read, one can’t help but be drawn in by unique books titles. There are times I feel that the title alone is what draws my interest and want to discover its meaning. Strong titles are important to the story as are the cover designs.

Several of these books could easily be my cover crush choice but I need to pick just one for today. Hmm… I’m going to go with, “The Venice Sketchbook” by Rhys Bowen. I love the blend of colors and the romantic feel to the landscape. The title immediately caught my attention because of the mention of a sketchbook. That word alone draws in intrigue, stories, imagery, a window to the owner’s mind and secrets captured on paper. I obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley and I can’t wait to dive into the story!

About the book:

The Venice Sketchbook

Lake Union Publishing

Pub Date 13 Apr 2021

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.

Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper…Venice. Caroline’s quest: to scatter Juliet “Lettie” Browning’s ashes in the city she loved and to unlock the mysteries stored away for more than sixty years.

It’s 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it’s a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it’s poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they’re forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever.

Key by key, Lettie’s life of impossible love, loss, and courage unfolds. It’s one that Caroline can now make right again as her own journey of self-discovery begins.

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Other titles that stand-out and in the coming weeks I will be talking a bit about why I’m interested in them. Each title is linked to Amazon.

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

A Betting Woman (A Novel of Madame Moustache)

by Jenni L. Walsh

The Straits of Treachery by Richard Hopton

Be sure to follow and check out more of my art at my Instagram!

before the second sleep cover crush

Stephanie Hopkins

Images may be subjected to copyright. In order to use art images or any content on Layered Pages platform, please ask permission from Stephanie Hopkins

Cover Crush: Little Deadly Secrets by Pamela Crane

The Cover: I like the blend of the different shades of pinks and the way the flower is positioned on the cover gives a dramatic feel. One may ask, “How did the flower come to be laid out that way and why?” Interesting color choices for such a premise! Maybe that is the point…

The Story: Everyone holds secrets. Some secrets are more serious than others. In this story it looks like the unimaginable secret between even the best of friendships. Sounds like a good thriller to me! -Stephanie Hopkins

About the Book:

Little Deadly Secrets by Pamela Crane

Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 18th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks
From USA Today bestselling author Pamela Crane comes an addictively readable domestic suspense novel…

Mackenzie, Robin, and Lily have been inseparable forever, sharing life’s ups and downs and growing even closer as the years have gone by. They know everything about each other. Or so they believe.

Nothing could come between these three best friends . . .

Except for a betrayal.

Nothing could turn them against each other . . .

Except for a terrible past mistake.

Nothing could tear them apart . . .

Except for murder.

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Cover Crush: The Social Graces by Renee Rosen

The Social GracesPaperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: April 20th 2021 by Berkley

The Cover: I love the background image, colors and the ladys’ hats! This cover definitely gives you the glamorous upper crust feel to it.

The Story: You know how I said above, “This cover definitely gives you the glamorous upper crust feel to it?” While we go see the gilded age as glamorous and such, more times than not, it wasn’t.  Not to put a damper on things here. Let’s get back to the story.

I’ve said this many times before that I love stories taken place during the Gilded Age and Especially New York!

I’m highly interested in this story on several scores and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! -Stephanie Hopkins

About the Book:

The author of Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Mrs. Vanderbilt and Mrs. Astor’s notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

In the glittering world of Manhattan’s upper crust, where wives turn a blind eye to husbands’ infidelities, and women have few rights and even less independence, society is everything. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America’s richest families. But what good is money when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.

Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is a gripping novel about two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake.

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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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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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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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Cover Crush: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Mexican GothicThe Cover: The vibrant colors caught my attention at first. That is a fantastic first impression to the cover. The background, the way the Lady is holding the flowers…this book just bumped up at the top of my wish-list.

The Story: First let’s start with the title. Wow. Wow. I love it. The Gothic Period in History is one of my favorites and the title alone gives meaning to what the story could be about. Does that make sense? Or an atmospheric setting-if you will.

The description of the story sounds engrossing!  A frantic letter-I love letters, Mexican countryside, mysterious doom, an Englishman, chic gowns, madness, high class society, and dark secrets? Yes please!

Stephanie Hopkins

About the Book:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published June 30th 2020 by Del Rey

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

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