Bookish Happenings & Social Media Mishaps

me-iiIt’s that time again for bookish happenings! Today, I am sharing a few things that have been going on in the world of blogging and at indieBRAG. We are completely drawn into the world of stories and the people who write them. Our passion is to share our love of reading, good reads and our hunt for them. Daily we are exploring social media and various book sites for the next great read.

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This week I was not able to post this post, yesterday. The reason is, I had a marvelous interview with author C.S. Harris on Thursday and so my Cover Crush was posted on Friday. Alas, no time like the present to publish bookish happenings! I few bookish things have been going on this week. I’ve added a few new books to my reading pile and have taken on a few more books to review. Which I need to slow down on that so I can catch up!

 Also, I have been interacting in a few conversations about content on social media. It has been enlightening to say the least. Ha!

For example:

Author Clare Mackintosh asked her followers on Facebook what we like to see authors post about/talk about on social media. My answer. “I am a book blogger and I work in the book industry. I follow and work with a lot of authors. I love it when an author draws themes from their story and post about that. I love the writing quotes and when they support book bloggers. Also, I love the interaction between the author and reader. What I don’t like is when authors post none stop about politics. I’ve seen it get ugly time and time again. One must be careful of that when promoting one’s brand. You can lose a lot of readers that way…”

Now, before you get in a tizzy about authors being citizens and all. I totally get that authors are citizens and have a voice and have the right to express themselves like everyone else. That is great and all, but just know you seriously run the risk of demolishing your “brand” by alienating potential readers and fans-if you’re insulting people for believing differently than you or posting none stop political posts. I don’t recommend doing that. Having said that, I do actually like some political posts-when they are intelligent, insightful and respectful.

Matter of fact, a couple of authors and I on Facebook were discussing talking about the parallels of historical and modern day politics from stories written. Now that was interesting!

I’d like to further add that talking about negative reviews on social media platforms is a bad idea. I don’t recommend it. Here’s why: While some-authors- mention about negative reviews are totally legit. (Meaning, some of the things people say in reviews that have no standing on the story is ridiculous and embarrassing!  I understand why the author would want to vent about it on Facebook to their “friends.”) Just consider you are even then taking a risk in doing so. Now, often times, I do see authors complaining about negative reviews (reviews that make sense) on social media, and it turns into a bully fest and then it carries over into bashing book bloggers/book reviewers in general. NOT cool at all. Here is my advice: Just don’t do it. Period. It does not complement you what-so-ever. On top of that, you run the risk of losing readers or potential book bloggers support and you need us. Just like we need your stories!

Just my two cents.

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Today I want to highlight my interview with C.S. Harris. She has written a story that I feel is the most important works of historical fiction I have read this year thus far. Check out the interview HERE.

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Here is a few of my fellow book blogger’s book highlights for the week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs.

in-a-dark-dark-woodColleen over at A Literary Vacation reviews, In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware HERE.

Magdalena over at, A Bookaholic Swede has a fun cover crush of, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr HERE

Holly over at 2 Kids and Tired Books has a wonderful post called, Пятница Ponderings: He was an example to me HERE.

Heather over at The Maidens Court shares with us her Top 5: Non-Fiction Books Read HERE.

the-alice-networkErin over at Flashlight Commentary reviews a book I’m dying to get my hands on called, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn HERE.

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Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and enjoy your weekend! Happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Manic Monday & Bookish Happenings

me-iiAs we all know Mondays can be pretty manic but nonetheless I was looking forward to it. Why? Because I want to share all my bookish happening for last week and over the weekend! What can be more exciting for a book blogger? Well, besides reading books and discovering new books to read. Every single day!

Today I am combining two post. Last week- due to the Holidays- I did not post Bookish Happenings. However, last week was a great Thanksgiving at indieBRAG with lots of wonderful guest post from our award winning authors. Be sure to check them out here.

In the last week and over the weekend I received several ARC’s from NetGalley and I am so excited about them. Here is the list:

  1. Bardwell’s Folly: A Love Story by Sandra Hutchinson
  2. We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  3. The kaiser’s Last Kiss by Alan Judd
  4. Out of Reach by Elizabeth McGregor
  5. His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James.

For my reading pleasure this week I am hoping to get to, A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain. Julie is one of my favorite new authors and I have had the pleasure chatting with her about her first book last year.

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Here is a few of my fellow book blogger’s book highlights from last week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs. #supportbookbloggers

return-to-taylors-crossing-iiHeather’s interview with award winning author Janie Dempsey Watts at Maiden’s Court, here.

Colleen’s book review of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins at A Literary Vacation, here.

Magdalena’s book review of The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin at A Bookacholic Swede, here.

Erin’s book review of The battle of Seattle by Douglas Bond at Flashlight Commentary, here.

all-i-want-for-christmasHolly’s All I Want for Christmas…Review at 2 Kids and Tired Books, here.

And my feature Layered Pages post from last week, Wish-List 5: A little of This & A little of That, here.

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Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. It is always a treat to be able to talk about books with you all. Be sure to stay tuned all week long for more great posts. Happy reading and God Bless.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Manic Monday: Books & More Books

me-iiAs we all know Mondays can be pretty manic but nonetheless I was looking forward to it. Why? Because I want to share all my bookish happening for the weekend! What can be more exciting for a book blogger? Well, besides reading books and discovering new books to read. Every single day!

This week is the Thanksgiving Holiday and I have so much to share with you all throughout the week. This past weekend, I was a guest at the indieBRAG Blog, sharing my Thanksgiving tradition. I want to encourage you all to read that post.On Saturday I received a new book in the mail from a book giveaway. Yay! The book is, Roma Amor by Sherry Christie. I have not read any books by her before. So I am curious about her stories.

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For my reading pleasure- this past weekend- I read, Dead Silence (Stillwater #1) by Brenda Novak in one day! I devoured it! Great read! I am really looking forward to the next book in this Trilogy. Another book I was reading from and still am is, Ruler of the Night by Davis Morrell. Fantastic read! I am enjoying it very much and I knew I would. Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas De Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant.

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. It is always a treat to be able to talk about books with you all. Be sure to stay tuned all week long for more great posts. Happy reading and God Bless.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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dead-silence

Grace Montgomery knows who it is, and she knows why it happened. She was only thirteen the night it all went wrong. And now, like then, she has no choice but to keep her mouth shut.

Grace left the town of Stillwater thirteen years ago, trying to forget, trying to make good. As an assistant D.A. in Jackson, she’s finally achieved the success that was supposed to change her life. But it hasn’t so she’s come back to confront her own history. Which means returning to the farmhouse now owned by her brother and facing the people of Stillwater, a number of whom suspect the truth.

Widower Kennedy Archer is one of those people. He’s running for mayor and needs to stay as far away from Grace as possible. And yet she’s an enigma he can’t resist. Even though her enemies are close to finding out what really happened and that could ruin them both.

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Tuesday Book Spree: I Got Books On The Mind

me-iiToday, I have a lot of work to do but I will be fitting in a LOT of reading time. I’m getting books to review faster than I can read them! That tends to happen with people who are totally obsessed with stories. We can’t get enough and we can’t say, “no”, very often! A problem most book bloggers don’t mind having even though it can’t get a bit hectic. I will prevail!

Anyhow, three more books have come in to review and I woke up with several request from publishers in my email. Still haven’t decided what to do about the later. I might have to put those on the back burner for now. Then there is my own writing. I must make time in the day for that. There will come a point where I will have to start saying, “no,” more often so I can fit more time in for my own stories. I hate to turn people down but, well-writers- you know how it goes.

Books are a wonderful way to escape, to travel to destinations you can’t in reality, to build imagery in your mind and to live a thousand lives over and over…Good stories give you such a strong sense of place and time. I want to encourage all of my visitors to pick up a book this week and lose yourself into another world. Be sure to check out the books below I have to show you. Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today and happy reading!

By the way…you might be seeing a new book review from me!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

juliets-answer-iiJuliet’s Answer by Glenn Dixon

Pub Date 07 Feb 2017 

Eat, Pray, Love meets The Rosie Project in this fresh, heartwarming memoir by a man who travels to Verona and volunteers to answer letters addressed to Shakespeare’s Juliet, all in an attempt to heal his own heartbreak.

When Glenn Dixon is spurned by love, he packs his bags for Verona, Italy. Once there, he volunteers to answer the thousands of letters that arrive addressed to Juliet—letters sent from lovelorn people all over the world to Juliet’s hometown; people who long to understand the mysteries of the human heart.

Glenn’s journey takes him deep into the charming community of Verona, where he becomes involved in unraveling the truth behind Romeo and Juliet. Did these star-crossed lovers actually exist? Why have they remained at the forefront of hearts and minds for centuries? And what can they teach us about love?

When Glenn returns home to Canada and resumes his duties as an English teacher, he undertakes a lively reading of Romeo and Juliet with his students, engaging them in passions past and present. But in an intriguing reversal of fate and fortune, his students—along with an old friend—instruct the teacher on the true meaning of love, loss, and moving on.

An enthralling tale of modern-day love steeped in the romantic traditions of eras past, this is a memoir that will warm your heart.

death-at-st-vedastDeath at St. Vedast by Mary Lawrence

Pub Date 27 Dec 2016

During the tempestuous reign of Henry VIII, London alchemist Bianca Goddard has seen up close what keeps a man alive—and what can kill him. A good thing, for she will need all her knowledge to keep a friend away from the gallows . . .

Bianca and her husband John are delighted to share in the glad fortune of their friend, Boisvert, the silversmith, who is to wed Odile, the wealthy widow of a goldsmith. But a pall is cast over the upcoming nuptials when the body of a pregnant woman is found beneath the bell tower of St. Vedast, the very church where the betrothed are to be married.

Tragedy strikes again at the couple’s reception, when Odile suddenly drops dead in the middle of the wedding feast. The constable suspects Boisvert poisoned his new bride for her money, but there’s not a trace of poison in her food or wine. Could the two deaths be connected? To prove their friend’s innocence, Bianca will need to employ her knowledge of alchemy—for if she can determine how the bride was killed, she may find the person responsible for her murder—before another victim is added to the death toll . . .

the-magdalen-girls-iiThe Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander

Pub Date 27 Dec 2016

Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.

 

 

**Bookish Happenings**

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It’s that time again for bookish happenings! Today I am sharing a few things that have been going on in the world of blogging and at indieBRAG. We are completely drawn into the world of stories and the people who write them. Our passion is to share our love of reading, good reads and our hunt for them. Daily we are exploring social media and various book sites for the next great read.

This week at Layered Pages I have created several posts but would like to highlight my All in A Day of Reading. In the post I mention and share several ARC’s I have been approved for and I am really looking forward to reading soon. Be sure to check out my other posts for the week! Lots of great books mentioned.

Currently I am reading several books! As usual. Ha! I can’t help myself. I am almost finished reading; I see You by Clare Mackintosh. What a fantastic read! When I think I’ve got it all figured out, there is a new twist! I have posted the book discretion below. I am still buddy reading Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister and hope to start The Typewriter’s Tale by Michiel Heynes this weekend.

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i-see-you-iiKindle Edition, 372 pages

Expected publication: April 4th 2017 by Sphere

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .
I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

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Here is a few of my fellow book bloggers highlights for the week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are so dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs as well.

Let Them Read Books has a marvelous guest post with Annelisa Christensen. Author of, The Popish Midwife here

A Bookaholic Swede has a Cover Crush this week that I am absolutely wild about! I must get my hands on a copy of the book! Check out the post here.

2 Kids and Tired Books shared with us this week a post about books she has forgotten. Check out this great posts here

A Literary Vacation shares with us a spotlight on Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam and a book giveaway! Be sure to check that out here and enter that giveaway!

The Maiden’s Court share with us a wonderful book review of the Mail Order Brides of the West: Evie by Caroline Fyffe here.

Flashlight Commentary shares with us a Cover Cliché: The Painted Veil here. She has some really interesting things to say about this so be sure to check it out!

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Be sure to check out the indieBRAG Home Pages for the latest B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees and please visit the B.R.A.G. blog as well! Lots of great posts from award winning authors!

**Bookish Happenings**

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Today, I’m sharing a few bookish things that have been going on this week from my fellow book bloggers, indieBRAG and myself at Layered Pages. We are completely drawn into the world of stories and the people who write them. Our passion is to share our love of reading, good reads and our hunt for them. Daily we are exploring social media and various book sites for the next great read. In this post, I will share some posts highlights and events happening this week from the people I mentioned above.

This week at Layered Pages, I have created several posts but I would like to highlight my Wish-List 5: Dublin Murder Squad. Take a look at the post here and be sure to check out my other post this week! Lots of great books mentioned.

Right now I am reading several books. One of them is a buddy read and I wonder if we are ever going to be able to finish it! The book is, To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin. We recently finished buddy reading, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (I have LOTs to say about this book!). I am still reading Lincoln’s Autocrat (The Life of Edwin Stanton) by William Marvel, The Civil War Source Book by Philip Katcher (I’m having issues with some of the content but it’s interesting), Yesternight by Cat Winters (almost done) and recently started, The Good Sisters by Helen Phifer. This latest book I started is for review and I will be through with it this week. I know, it’s a lot of reading material to read at once but I am able to keep up with it and I can’t help myself.

the-good-sisters

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Here is a few of my fellow book bloggers highlights for the week! Be sure to check them out. These bloggers are so dedicated to their craft of sharing stories and a big support to the book world. I highly recommend you follow their blogs as well.

A Bookaholic Swede’s Post highlight this week: Wish-List October: Most Wanted Mystery Books of 20017

Flashlight Commentary’s Post Highlight this week:  Cover Cliché: Old Hollywood Glamour

A Literary Vacation’s Post Highlight this week: Spotlight on Fill the Sky by Katherine A. Sherbrooke + Giveaway!!

The maiden’s Court’s Post Highlight this week: Wish List 5: Microhistories

2 Kids and Tired Book’s Post Highlight this week: Duty to the Crown…Review

there-is-still-time-indiebrag-event

indieBRAG is holding a month long Halloween event here! The event ends Monday the 31st. Be sure to check out all the great posts by some our B.R.A.G. Honorees, book deals and enter your chance to win a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card!

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Thank you all for visiting Layered Pages today and checking out what is happening with my fellow book bloggers, indieBRAG and I! We greatly appreciate your support and enthusiasm for great reads! Check back next week with all of us for more great bookish happenings!

Review: The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

the-house-between-tidesFollowing the death of her last living relative, Hetty Deveraux leaves London and her strained relationship behind for Muirlan, her ancestral home in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. She intends to renovate the ruinous house into a hotel, but the shocking discovery of human remains brings her ambitious restoration plans to an abrupt halt before they even begin. Few physical clues are left to identify the body, but one thing is certain: this person did not die a natural death.

Hungry for answers, Hetty discovers that Muirlan was once the refuge of her distant relative Theo Blake, the acclaimed painter and naturalist who brought his new bride, Beatrice, there in 1910. Yet ancient gossip and a handful of leads reveal that their marriage was far from perfect; Beatrice eventually vanished from the island, never to return, and Theo withdrew from society, his paintings becoming increasingly dark and disturbing.

What happened between them has remained a mystery, but as Hetty listens to the locals and studies the masterful paintings produced by Theo during his short-lived marriage, she uncovers secrets that still reverberate through the small island community—and will lead her to the identity of the long-hidden body.

My thoughts:

I love the idea of the Scottish Western Isles as the setting for this story. Imagine a house on a small island and the only way to get out to it is at low tide. Historically the land is reported to have prehistoric structures. Though the House Between the Tides is a modern story that blends with a story in the not too distant past.

Hetty inherits a house that was owned by her relative and painter Theo Bake. When she travels to the area she is immediately drawn into the houses past. This opens up much doubt if it is wise to renovate the house. The house is in ruins and is crumbling. Not only that human remains put a halt to her plans. Then begins the mystery of whose body it is and brings past secrets to life.

I was so intrigued with the premise and title. When I began to read the story, it did not disappoint me. I found the characters’ lives extraordinary and the family connections fascinating. The description of the small community, their surroundings, the Island are beautifully told and so mysterious!

I love these kind of stories and hope to see more like this from the author!

I rated this book four stars and have obtained a copy through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

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ill-take-you-thereNew York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer’s life—Felix Funicello, introduced in Wishin’ and Hopin’—and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it, in this radiant homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women.

I’ll Take You There centers on Felix, a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he’s confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit—and in some cases relive—scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen.

In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. There’s his daughter Aliza, a Gen Y writer for New York Magazine who is trying to align her post-modern feminist beliefs with her lofty career ambitions; his sister, Frances, with whom he once shared a complicated bond of kindness and cruelty; and Verna, a fiery would-be contender for the 1951 Miss Rheingold competition, a beauty contest sponsored by a Brooklyn-based beer manufacturer that became a marketing phenomenon for two decades. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois, who is later joined by the spirits of other celluloid muses.

Against the backdrop of a kaleidoscopic convergence of politics and pop culture, family secrets, and Hollywood iconography, Felix gains an enlightened understanding of the pressures and trials of the women closest to him, and of the feminine ideals and feminist realities that all women, of every era, must face.

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My thoughts about the cover:

I remember reading Wally Lamb’s earlier books years ago. From what I remember they were a bit depressing but deeply felt and moving. I have to admit I didn’t keep up with his work through the years. I don’t know how I came across, I’ll Take You There but glad I did! The cover caught my attention immediately and I am intrigued with the premise. From what the book blurb reads, the cover fits the story perfectly and I look forward to diving into this one soon. The story certainly looks promising! 

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

Current Reads: What is your reading pleasure?

I’ve got several books I’m reading at the moment. This weekend I am reading Time and Regret by M.L. Tod and I’m working my way through a couple of non-fictions for research for my WIP. I am also buddy reading, To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin, with a few of my fellow book bloggers. So far we are enjoying the story! Be sure to read the book descriptions below. They might be of interest to you. What is your current reading pleasure?

Time and regret

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.

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I Had Rather Die

The American Civil War is often regarded as a “low-rape” war, due to gentlemanly “restraint.” Nearly thirty Union soldiers were executed for the crime. As a result, rape is perceived to have been dealt with harshly. On the surface, the numbers reflect the view that rape was indeed far from widespread. In reality, few soldiers received harsh punishment for a crime that was considered a capital offense in the nineteenth century. Through the extensive use of primary sources, Kim Murphy exposes the misrepresentations of the topic of rape during the war. Not only were women raped during times of battle, but those who bravely stepped forward to name their attackers were interrogated in the justice system, often by their assailants. Courts-martial revolved around a woman’s consent and her degree of resistance against a man’s force. Poor and black women frequently had their reputations called into question. For far too long, women’s claims have been dismissed as hearsay and propaganda. Behind the brother-against-brother war lurks the hidden war of brother against sister.

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War Crimes Against Southern Civilians

“Does an astonishing job telling the truth about the wrongdoings of the United States government and its officers.”–Confederate Veteran

The sobering and brutal consequences of the Civil War off the battlefield are revealed in this examination of atrocities committed against civilians. Rationale for the Union’s “hard war” and the political ramifications of such a war set the foundation for Walter Cisco’s enlightening research. Styled the “Black Flag” campaign, the hard line was agreed to by Lincoln in a council with his generals in 1864, when he gave permission to wage unlimited war against civilians, including women and children.

In a series of concise and compelling chapters, Cisco chronicles the “St. Louis Massacre,” where Federal authorities proceeded to impose a reign of terror and dictatorship in Missouri. He tells of the events leading to, and the suffering caused by, the Federal decree that forced twenty thousand Missouri civilians into exile. The arrests of civilians, the suppression of civil liberties, theft, and murder to “restore the Union” in Tennessee are also examined.

Women and children, black and white, were robbed, brutalized, and left homeless in Sherman’s infamous raid through Georgia. Torture and rape were not uncommon. In South Carolina, homes, farms, churches, and whole towns disappeared in flames. Civilians received no mercy at the hands of the Union invaders. Earrings were ripped from bleeding ears, graves were robbed, and towns were pillaged. Wherever Federal troops encountered Southern Blacks, whether free or slave, they were robbed, brutalized, belittled, kidnapped, threatened, tortured, and sometimes raped or killed by their blue-clad “liberators.”

Carefully researched, largely from primary sources, the book includes notes and illustrations. This untold story will interest anyone exploring an alternative perspective on this period in American history.

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To capture what we cannot see

Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young widow and an engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris–a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live–one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.

Review: Arrowood by Laura McHugh

ArrowoodArrowood is the most ornate and beautiful of the grand historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa, where the days are long and humid and communities are small and closed. It has its own secrets and ghostly presence: It’s where Arden’s young twin sisters were abducted nearly twenty years ago—never to be seen again. Now, Arden has inherited Arrowood, and she returns to her childhood home determined to establish what really happened that traumatic summer. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

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My thoughts:

As Arden returns to her ancestor’s home-Arrowood- in Southern Iowa the author describes an imposing second empire style with three stories in a town called, Keokuk that had once seen grandeur in its days. A town that was once was and now is where great houses had/has its own distinctive architecture mark on it. Where lingering pain inflicted on the family long ago and still holds deep, dark secrets.

This story has such a strong sense of time and place. I contribute that to the author’s impeccable description of imagery, the landscape and the emotions she invokes from her characters. Where tragedy and secrets from the past haunt the present.

The tragedy of Arden and her family losing her twin sisters was gut wrenching and Arden needing to find out what really happen to her little sisters and putting to rest some of the heart ache that came afterwards is brilliantly told. What is even more heart breaking is discovering that everything you thought turns out not what you imagined happened to them. How Arden deals with that is extraordinary.

Laura McHugh has really breathed life into her characters and brings her readers a captivating story. One I will never forget and one I would like to revisit again one day. I can’t say enough about this book and how it impacted me emotionally. I highly recommend this story and have rated it five stars.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins