First Impressions: Embers on the Wind by Lisa Williamson Rosenberg

The majority of us can come to an agreement that first impressions of a book is important to spark the readers attention. Marketing strategy and all… In this, I had the idea of sharing my thoughts on some of the ways I’m wanting to be more diligent in how I choose what stories to read regarding the supernatural. Many times, it can be an unexpected element to a story or vaguely mentioned in the book description. I must confess I fully understand why it can be tricky on how much information to reveal without giving spoilers. That in itself leads to much discussion.

Often times, more times than not, the readers are left having to consider more carefully about the premise before investing money spent and time.

First Impressions of Embers on the Wind.

About the book:

The past and the present converge in this enthralling, serpentine tale of women connected by motherhood, slavery’s legacy, and histories that span centuries.

In 1850 in Massachusetts, Whittaker House stood as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It’s where two freedom seekers, Little Annie and Clementine, hid and perished. Whittaker House still stands, and Little Annie and Clementine still linger, their dreams of freedom unfulfilled.

Now a fashionably distressed vacation rental in the Berkshires, Whittaker House draws seekers of another kind: Black women who only appear to be free. Among them are Dominique, a single mother following her grand-mère’s stories to Whittaker House in search of an ancestor; Michelle, Dominique’s lover, who has journeyed to the Berkshire Mountains to heal her own traumas; and Kaye, Michelle’s sister, a seer whose visions reveal the past and future secrets of the former safehouse―along with her own.

For each of them, true liberation can come only from uncovering their connection to history―and to the spirits awaiting peace and redemption within the walls of Whittaker House.

My Thoughts:

While many aspects of the history told in the description is of great interest to me, there is a detail that I read that has made me pause.

My faith in God tells believers not to follow the abominable practices such as, practice of divination or tell fortunes or interpret omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead and so on… Which compels me to be better at discerning in what I read, should I read it and why or why not. Not knowing enough about one of the author’s character- who is a seer- I’ve decided to refrain from reading this story at present until I know more. Especially because of late when I made a mistake in a purchase of a book that entailed extreme darkness and evil spirits and there was not a conclusion of good triumphing over evil in my view. I was uneasy to say the least.

In the past, I made mistakes in books I accepted to review and wish I hadn’t if I had more information about the content. This is not to disrespect or dismiss the authors ability to write a good story, to say the story is bad or if it should have been written.

Despite my discernment of Embers on the Wind, I still wanted to highlight the book cover and title. The graphics both in design and composition of the floating embers by definition, strikes a chord of malicious intent or, quiet possibly, an accident or some sort of natural disaster. The profile of the female in the background is a wonderful addition. These elements lead one to want to discover more about the content of the story and the likelihood of wanting acquire the book. I certainly wanted to find out more.

Stephanie Hopkins

Disclaimer: I do not support, control or endorse the adds that are showing on my blog.

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Cover Crush: The Well by Stephanie Landsem

About the cover: I’ve examined this cover so much that I’m second guessing myself on if I have shared this one already or not. If so, refreshers are good.

If I were to rate the book cover, I’d give it five stars, maybe more. You can see the woman’s face! Well, her profile but that is a lot better than seeing her back. The landscape is stunning and the colors vibrant and evoking. I love everything about this cover design. Including the title, oh, and the author has a beautiful name. Hint, hint.

About the book: I have mixed feelings about Biblical re-telling’s and Christian fiction in general. Often times they are unrealistic water-downed (no pun intended) and one must always remember that these re-telling’s are fictional that draw from details and facts from the Bible. Or the reader hopes so… If you’re not certain, it’s best to go straight to the source. As I said above, I have mixed feelings about this medium of story- telling, however, as a story enthusiast, person of faith and my love for history, I’m highly interested in this one.

If you are a reader of the Bible, you will know the story of Jacob’s well in the New Testament. If I recall, the passage is in the book of John. The well and where it is situated is a notable and historic site today. The story of Jacob goes all the way back to the Old Testament.

As The Well goes, Landsem takes us to the Samaritan Village and introduces us to a woman and her family who is shunned for their mother’s sins. Then one day, two men arrive to their village, one of them is Jesus. His teachings of faith and belief in God sending His son to save us, service, love, forgiveness, kindness and hope are about Christian life.

Not everything turns out the way we want them to and bad things happen but I firmly believe in redemption and a higher purpose to our strife in life. I look forward to reading this story. – Stephanie Hopkins

Grungy abstract inspired by the landscape in the background of the book cover. -by Stephanie Hopkins

More about the story:

Paperback, 304 pages

Published June 4th 2013 by Howard Books

In the rich tradition of Francine Rivers’s Lineage of Grace series, comes a beautiful retelling of the biblical story of the woman at the well—bringing to life this poignant young woman struggling to survive love and heartbreak.

For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing—the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives—but not for Mara and her family. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.

But Mara and her mother, Nava’s lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious and wealthy young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, with his talk of forgiveness, but his teachings come too late and she is stoned by the villagers for her past sins. Desperate to save her mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus’ help—a journey that brings unexpected love and hope, despite great difficulties.

In The Well, debut novelist Stephanie Landsem brings to life the culture and people of Jesus’ day, skillfully demonstrating how redemption can bring about the life-changing effects of forgiveness and love. 

Be sure to check out my Mixed Media Art Gallery and Instagram to see more of my art journey!

What is Your Purpose in Life?

Art by Stephanie Hopkins

While I have been creating a lot of art this past week, I have had a lot on my mind. Okay, who are we kidding here. I always have a lot on my mind! As I have been crafting, I’ve been thinking about the younger generations and how much hopelessness, pain and anger there is out in the world. And what the younger generations are witnessing and experiencing through these trouble times. Like everyone else, I’ve also witnessed the good, the bad and ugly of technology and main-stream media. I’m not going to mince words here, as a society, we are going in the wrong direction in more ways than one. We have been for a while now. That said, take heart. there is a lot of good in this world.

This year I will be in my mid-forties (yikes) and I have seen a lot, heard a lot, experienced a lot, learned a lot and-heck-still have a lot to learn. No one is perfect. No one is blameless. No one knows everything but what we do with what we’ve learned makes all the difference in the world.

If someone were to ask me what advice I would give to people in the age of technology, propaganda and the cancel culture, my words might surprise them..

I read, write, study and create art every chance I get. Through those mediums alone, I’ve come to understand adversity, life circumstances and etc. This is not even mentioning my own life experiences but I don’t need to go into all that to share my advice to the younger generations.

Ask yourself, what is your purpose? What should it be? How can YOU make it happen? What would others say and would you heed their approval? Do you really need approval from complete strangers (like on-line) or from people that barely know you and who don’t encourage or lift you up? Are you just another sheep among the herd? Are you trapped in a soulless, never-ending cycle of anger, blaming, hopelessness, shouting to the masses, or to anyone, endlessly about things-in truth-you’re not really certain about? Like what you see and hear from the news media, strangers on social media, government, the education system, or your circle of friends you hang with. Or even the neighbor next door. All the while, deep down you’re asking yourself, “Where is this getting me?” Nowhere.

Never be a victim of mindset or traumatized by cultural differences. Don’t cancel history, diverse opinions, beliefs, or encourage lawlessness because you don’t like something or have been told you should cancel them. Stop being offended. Educate yourself every single day, read a lot, have meaningful conversations, don’t talk at people but with people and learn how to think objectively AKA be of open mind. That is when you bring honest and real conversation to the table of productivity and healing. The continual silencing, shouting, slandering, negative drama, disorder and lawlessness leads to disregard for society as a whole, a break down in moral conduct and from sustaining a civil life.

Surround yourself with positive people and be a person of faith. Be of strong mind and, my goodness, sheep not and herd not. Be an individual in life decisions, stop seeking others for validation because you ARE a person with a mind. Use it. If you need advice, or are uncertain about the path you’re considering or have chosen, seek God first then those people whose advice is worth receiving.

Resist propaganda and the echo chamber. It is everywhere and right smack front and center in your sphere. Don’t believe everything you see on social media or the news. Think first-don’t assume something is real- before reacting. Get off your phone, Facebook, main-stream media and Netflix. If you’re on your smartphone, watching shows or on social media longer than you sleep, at school or work in a day, you’re on it way too much! It is slowing down your brain power, attention span and your critical thinking is fading away…You’re becoming an indoctrinated zombie. Who wants to live like that? I know I don’t. It isn’t even living for Pete sake. I know you know what I’m talking about.

Stop looking for a hand-out, pick yourself up and leave idleness behind. Work hard. Never stop learning. Never give up. Be creative. Try something new and often. Be a doer with the right tools. Be evolving. Be kind and generous. Be a good listener. Be a good friend. Even if you don’t agree with a person’s opinion, defend their right to say it. Stop expecting people to make you happy. Serve God and others. Live intentionally with purpose in this life. There will always be bumps in the road, but you can do it because you matter.

Peace, I’m out.

Stephanie Hopkins

Cherish the Moments

A cherish the moments pageThis is an art page from my art journal that I created this past Saturday. I was in a mood for cool colors and a simple layout. Yet it expresses cherishing moments in our everyday lives and brought me to mind of a quote by John Adams.

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

This quote is so fitting to the moment of creating this piece and for my love of reading and journaling.

Also, I took the time to look out the window and enjoyed the beauty of the day that the season of spring brings us. It is a symbol of new beginnings and reflection, in my view. We are seeing trouble times in our world at present and I hope with the social distancing we are experiencing gives us time to take a step back and think on what is important to us and if there is a change we need to make in our lives that going forward will bring that change.

I’m praying for us all and praying for the families and friends of the people we have lost due to the virus. My heart and thoughts go out to you all. Please be safe and God be with you all. -Stephanie Hopkins

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(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.)