New Book Release: The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

Many congrats to Rhys Bowen’s book publication of, “The Venice Sketchbook!”

About the Book:

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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“Juliet “Lettie” Browning, an English woman, is a woman of strength and courage. The life she experienced and saw during her stay in Venice were during uncertain times. Her will to behave uprightly puts her in many dangers but her resilience is an example to us all…read more of my review at this post link.” -Stephanie Hopkins

Art in Motion: Beauty of the Butterfly

Paper Crafting by Stephanie Hopkins

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. -Maya Angelou  

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Mini Junk Journal: Part I

How to make pretty journals made out of trash and leftovers.

Welcome to Layered Page and thank you to those who follow my blog. Today is part one of my mini junk journal series where you will discover ways to use recycled materials to make pretty journals without breaking the bank. It is possible to make pretty journals with junk!

I love taking things you would normally throw out and use them for my crafting projects. It is a fun, creative, rewarding and a cheap way to craft. Junk Journals are books made through found objects, and recycled materials. In this five part series, I will be showing various ways I use those materials in my mini journals.

This past Easter we did a lot of baking and I had the opportunity to grab a Pure Vanilla Extract box to up-cycle. Hooray! In the slideshow below, you will see my process of making the journal. I used to newspaper from a packaged I received in the mail. I love when painting companies wrap the paints you order in newspaper or shipping package. Never throw those out. You can use them for all sorts of crafts and art making.

I cut the taps off and used cheap glue to add the newspaper to the outside and inside cover. Often times I use Dollar Tree glue for these projects. No need to use expensive art craft. Then I covered it with a thin layer of paint. You can use paint, white gesso, coffee to stain your cover, markers, crayons and etc…Or just use scrap paper collage. A create source for that is from your junk mail. Recycled fabric is another great material to use for covers. Do what feels right to you. Next, I grabbed some of my leftovers paints AKA painted papers and used that to start making my signatures.The paper with words on it, is from an outdated Webster Dictionary that was headed to the dumpster. Be sure to know the size of the journal to determine the size of your pages. I usually go a little smaller on the pages. Again, do what feels right to you. Some crafters like their pages to stick out. Mix it up and have fun with it. Once I have them organized in the order I want them in my journal, I’m ready to attach them to the spin. I used leftover black cotton thread this time. If you do not have a paper piercing kit, you can use a sharp sewing needle to poke the whole in the spin and to attach the pages.

When attaching the pages, I like to start in the inside middle (see pictures). Don’t feel stressed if you don’t get it perfect. It is a junk journal after all. I like mine to look a bit sloppy. Gives it the homemade look it is suppose to have. The more you practice the better you will get at this step. One the signatures secured, I cover the outside spin with recycled paper or fabric. Then I finish decorating my cover. For ephemera AKA embellishments, I use my leftover scraps/chipboard from this project. The chipboard are the tabs I cut off from the Pure Vanilla Extract box.

This project took me just under an hour to complete. If you are looking for more crafting ideas for your kids, this is it. Please supervise the project due to using scissors and a needle. Another great idea for signatures is to use your children’s school pages or drawings. As a parent, I know those things pile up fast and often times we feel we have no choice to let go of some of them.Why not use bits of them for your journals?

I hope you enjoyed this first part of my new series and if you have any questions about my process, please do not hesitate to ask below in the comment area.

Stephanie Hopkins

New Book Release: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Congrats to Jennifer McMahon’s book publication of, “The Drowning Kind!”

About the book:

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us

“A good mystery writer needs to know how to build dramatic tension and suspense that flows evenly through their stories. McMahon certainly knows how to balance those elements and more… She shows, brilliantly, how her characters work through complex situations in their lives and has a unique way of drawing the reader in as if they were experiencing the conflicts for themselves. She most certainly holds a special place in the mystery genre.” You can read more of my review at this post link. -Stephanie Hopkins

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

Art in Motion: Little Things

Paper Crafting by Stephanie Hopkins

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! I upload new pictures of my art on weekly basis now in my gallery. My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.Have a wonderful weekend! -Stephanie Hopkins

Book Review: The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker

Published February 16th 2021 by Level Best Books

About the book: Set during the darkest days of the American Revolution, The Turncoat’s Widow tells the fictional story of General Washington’s most reluctant spy, a young widow who races times and traitors in New York City and Morristown circa 1780 to uncover a plot that threatens the new nation’s future. With elements of romance and suspense, this historical mystery also explores themes of resilience, loss, and the courage needed to leave the past behind.

My thoughts:

The American Revolutionary era is one of my favorite periods to read about. I have been hard pressed lately to find good and unique fictional stories about the subject. When I first saw The Turncoat’s Widow’s book cover and read the description, I knew I found solid gold.

Becker brilliantly captures the mindsets of people’s opinions about the war and what was happening around them. She takes us on a journey to a prison war ship, espionage, mingling with notable historical figures, blended with romance and friendships developing in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Becker is a compelling story writer and she deftly places her readers at the edge of their seat with this adventurous read.

I was impressed with how impeccably the story flowed and the author’s attention to historical detail. I’m trusting we will get to read more of these fascinating character’s adventures? I certainly hope so.

An outstanding debut novel!

Stephanie Hopkins  

I obtained a copy from the Publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

March: Book Round-Up

Stephanie Hopkins

Well, in my Books Aplenty: March Reading Forecast post, I discussed ten books I selected to read in March. I was I am hoping to read ten books if other projects didn’t get in the way. Umm…other projects got in the way. In the back of my mind, I knew this would happen. Around March is when I tend to feverishly get the crafting bug! There is so much to be inspired by the spring season. Yup, I got my art on. However, I did read six books and that is pretty darn good considering how much time I spent on art.  

Despite not reading all the books I had projected, I’m quite pleased that I’m still reading an average of one to two books per week. That is the point. To read and keep reading. Also, it really helped me be less indecisive in which book to chose next. There really is something to say about being organized and making a list. -Stephanie Hopkins

Number of pages read in March: 1,998

Lots of book reviews coming up soon! How many books did you read for March? Do share!

Here are the titles I’ve read for March and the review post dates:

A New York Secret (Daughters of New York Book 1) by Ella Carey – -My book review HERE

The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker – Book review on April 1st

Finding Napoleon by Margaret Rodenbery -Book review on April 5th

The Family Plot by Megan Collins – Book review on August 12th

The Silent Girl by Kelly Heard- Book review on April 9th

The Necklace by Matt Witten – Book review on September 6th

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Art in Motion: Home Life

Original Art by Stephanie Hopkins

“Go find your joy. Whatever that is, go find your joy. Are you going to have a good day or are you going to have a great day? Because it’s completely up to you.” – Sandra Bullock

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Cover Crush: A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Paperback, 432 pages

Published March 16th 2021 by Bethany House Publishers

About the cover: I love everything about this cover. Okay, maybe expect for you can’t see the woman’s face. Anyhow, this cover alone makes me want to read this book. The background, the fan, and the dress…swoon.     

About the book: I wanted to read this book before I even read the book description! That said, the premise sounds wonderful! Check it out. -Stephanie Hopkins

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.