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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Down A Rabbit Hole I Go

A Novel/History/Art

The last few days has been really interesting and sometimes I think I bite off more than I can chew when it comes to history the details. Thank goodness I take notes and file them away for reference! Let’s begin with this past weekend. One of the books I’m currently reading is, “Temple” by Matthew Reilly and there are a lot of interesting history involved.

Now let’s skip forward to Monday. My particular interest in American History is the 19th Century though often times more than not, it takes me further back. I started to think about the colonies and how they formed. William Penn came to mind for some reason. Those thoughts were a bit scattered and I posted about it on Facebook. I’m conflicted on a few of the content about him and have quite a few questions. Penn was an interesting man and I’m hoping to discover more to have with you all in a future post.

Tuesday as I was thinking about the book, “Temple,” later on that day a YouTube Video came up on my feed titled, “America Unearthed: Ancient Mayans Secrets in Georgia.”Now isn’t that interesting! I watched half of the documentary and hoping to finish the rest soon I highly recommend looking at the video and into the history.

Abstract EditedYesterday I spent the day with work, reading, organizing my craft area-it’s gets messy real fast-and cleaning out some stuff in the basement. I’m been on a cleaning frenzy of late and it has been a real eye opener on fast things get piled up! I hope you all are having a good week and I want to share one more thing before I go. Recently I made an abstract with acrylic paint and I pinned it to a velvet board and placed it in a wood shadow box. It looks great in the shadow box but was unable to get a decent picture of it without the reflection from the glass.

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.)

Cover Crush: The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli

The Cover: Hands down this is a fantastic cover in my opinion. Is it the dress, or sketched house and tree? Or maybe the colors used? The woman sitting in front of a window reading and you can actually see her face? Or the fact the title is named after Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House? All of the above! 

The Story: There are three time-lines to this story. Not sure how I feel about that. Hmm….I will have to think on this. Having said that, the premise sounds really intriguing and it’s set in one of my favorite periods in history. Plus, I love reading about writers. As for the romantic intonations or themes -if you will-I’m wondering just how much of that is weaved into the story.

Stephanie Hopkins

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The Orchid HouseThe Orchard House

by Heidi Chiavaroli

Hardcover, 432 pages

Expected publication: February 9th 2021 by Tyndale House Publishers

Concord, Massachusetts

 

2001

Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865

While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019

After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

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Cover Crush: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the StarsThe background and the image of the pocket watch grabbed my attention. I love textures and the depth it gives the cover.  The premise looks pretty intense and with themes that hit close to home during this time but its important to read about history, humanity and survival.

-Stephanie Hopkins

The Pull of the Stars

by Emma Donoghue

Little, Brown and Company

Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction

Pub Date 21 Jul 2020

Description

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. A small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and ROOM

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders — Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In the Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

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To Practice Any Art

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So, do it.” — Kurt Vonnegut

I hope you all have a wonderful, creative and relaxing weekend. Today I’m sharing a few pages from my journal that I recently created. I am still doing my Art 30-Day Challenge and can’t wait to share the final pages when the time comes. Please be sure to check out yesterday’s post here and I want to inspire those who have not read a story in a while, to find a book you might enjoy and read. I’m hoping to start The King’s General on Saturday. I’ll be listening to this particular story on audible.

As we know, there are so many wonderful benefits of reading and one of those is finding creativity. Often times. I’ve been inspired to create fun journal pages from stories I’ve read/listened and love. -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.)

 

 

 

Book Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen SocietyFrom a young age, I have always been fascinated with Jane Austen and her stories. Not knowing the full history of the period in which she lived in at the time, I was at first, drawn to the characters relationships with their families, friends and town  people. Then as I got older, I became more aware of the romantic interests, social aspect and the education and roles of women of that time. That is when I realized how important stories like Austen’s are to society.

Like Austen, my Father was a minister, He’s retired now but the connection on that score and her satirical writing reminds me so much of my own experiences in witnessing all sorts of interesting people growing up in churches and our local communities.

I’ve read all Austen’s published stories multiple times and read many re-telling’s of her books, and have seen all sorts of different types of film adaptations. Not one of those has captured my attention like The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. The author touches on an interesting area about Austen’s life and in such a way, I felt as if the author had read my mind on a few things I thought about growing up. Especially about Austen’s relationship with her sister Cassandra and why maybe she burned many of Jane’s letters…

Jenner’s story brings together people who are different in occupation, and life circumstances but they share a common love of Jane Austen herself and her work. Their passion and goal are to preserve both Jane Austen’s final home and her legacy. What they find in their search touches on a little what I mentioned above- though that is all I will say about that.

Much like you will find in Austen’s stories, The Jane Austen Society explores human conditions of the heart, love interests, community and enduring friendships.  I felt such an intense connection with the many of the characters in the story, as if they were close friends and family. This story is heartfelt and deeply enduring so much so that I came away with not wanting the story to end and a longing to sit around a fire and have a long conversation with these noble people and the author who told their story.

When you finish reading The Jane Austen Society, be sure to read the Author notes at the end!

I’ve rated this book five stars!

Stephanie Hopkins

Layered Pages

I was given a galley copy through NetGalley by the publishers for an honest review.

Another relevant post I write about The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner HERE

More About The Book: 

The Jane Austen Society
by Natalie Jenner
St. Martin’s Press
General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
Pub Date 26 May 2020

Description

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

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

Cover Crush: The Seamstress by Allison Pittman

Cover Crush The Seamstress

The premise sounds intriguing, great title and I love the cover design! Adding this book to my to-read list -Stephanie Hopkins 

A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.

France, 1788
It is the best of times . . .

On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon’s sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.

It is the worst of times . . .

Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.

It is the story that has never been told.

In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.

 

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Cover Crush: The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Key to EverythingI love vintage images and this one is really atmosphereic. I like reading period pieces and this one looks good even though it has a sad tone to it in the description. The genre is romance and I normally don’t read those kind-of stories, but I will be keeping my eye on this one. -Stephanie Hopkins

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Revell

Romance

Pub Date 02 Jun 2020

Description

Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents’ devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams, Lisa Wallace.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle all the way to Key West, Florida. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined–namely, the key to his unknowable father, a reunion with Lisa, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

Through poignant prose and characters so real you’ll be sure you know them, Valerie Fraser Luesse transports you to the storied Atlantic coast for a unique coming-of-age story you won’t soon forget.

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Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

MigrationsI’m currently reading two books right now but this story took front and center in the first page. I spent the better part of the evening-yesterday- reading it and it was a struggle to put it down to sleep. I’m half way through and it’s all I can think about. This story has ceased hold of my heart. It’s the story for the ages and a story that I want to shout from the roof tops about how extraordinary and evoking it is. I can’t remember the last time I have been transported and completely immersed in the characters lives. It’s as if the character’s hopes, dreams, longing, plight is your own. This is the story and the writing I have been waiting for! -Stephanie Hopkins
 
Pub Date 04 Aug 2020
Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.
 
As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that she is full of dark secrets: night terrors, an unsent pile of letters, and an obsession with pursuing the terns at any cost. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.

Cover Crush: Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

Louisiana Lucky by Julie PennellWhat is not to love about this cover? Images of cupcakes! Yes please! Love everything about this cover. The premise sounds interesting and I love the title. -Stephanie Hopkins 

Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

Atria Books

Pub Date 04 Aug 2020

Description

From the critically acclaimed author of The Young Wives Club, a “heartwarming story about friendship, heartache, and self-discovery” (Karen White, New York Times bestselling author), comes a charming novel reminiscent of the works of Mary Alice Monroe and Kristy Woodson Harvey, about three sisters who win a huge lottery prize and learn what it truly means to be lucky.

Lexi, Callie, and Hanna Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they had the money.

For Lexi, it means the perfect wedding; for Callie, it means having the courage to go after her career dreams; and for Hanna, it means buying a house that isn’t falling apart and sending her bullied son to private school. When the incredible happens and the Breaux sisters hit it big—$204 million dollars big—all their dreams come true. Or so they think. Because it’s actually not a cliché—money isn’t the answer to everything, and it often comes with problems of its own.

Heartfelt, engaging, and featuring characters you’ll root for from the first moment you meet them, Louisiana Lucky is a satisfying page-turner from a rising star in women’s fiction.

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