A New Year Of Layered Pages

Me2019 was an interesting year to say the least and I took a much-needed break from book reviewing among other things…I am slowly getting back in book reviewing but on a different scale altogether. I read 25 books in 2019 and hope to read the same amount for 2020! I have amazing mix media projects coming up for the year and I look forward to revealing them as the new year continues.

Today I want to share three highlight books I read in 2019.

Where the Crawdads SingHow long can you protect your heart?

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

***

I Was Anastasia

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918
Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.


Germany, February 17, 1920

A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

***

The Turn of the Key

Page-turning psychological thriller

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace, The Turn of the Key is a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

***

I am continuing to sell fashion on Poshmark and I’m working on additions to my business as well. Can’t wait to share more.

Follow my closet @artsycouture42 and use my code: ARTSYCOUTURE42 to get a free $10 credit when signing up for Poshmark! www.poshmark.

Happy New Year!

Stephanie

 

Magical Moments And Bookish Things

MeI hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday! I don’t know about y’all but I think my family consumed more calories in a day than we do in an entire week! Ha! Such at beautiful day yesterday with the Fam and just being at peace…

Sewing kitCheck out the sewing tools in the picture I was gifted! I am forever grateful for my family. The secret project I am working on was revealed to my daughter and she loves it! I won’t reveal it to y’all until its completed. Hoping that will be by the end of January.

On the book front, I’m one book away from being at my reading goal for the year. I’m so excited! I don’t read as many books in a year as I use too but twenty-five novels’ is nothing to sneeze at! I want to read fifty in the upcoming year but not sure that is doable with my new schedule. I’m not going to stress about it really. I’m just a planner when it come to books. It’s the hunt you see…if I don’t plan a little, I get swamped with trying to figure out which book I want to read next then it gets way too stressful! I guess that is good though because that means writers are still casting beautiful stories. Ok, I am sounding all over the place with this. Anyhow, the New Year of reading, hunting for new stories, and blogging about them will be thrilling!

No One's HomeThis week I finished up No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley. There are highlights of the story I liked and a few moments where I wasn’t feeling it. However, it is a good story and one of the things I was fascinated with was about the Shakers. I actually would have liked to seen the history of that fleshed out more in the story. It certainly is a spooky story for sure.

Many blessing to you and yours and see you tomorrow!

Stephanie

Saturday Sunday: Book Collage & Lost Love

Book Art Nancys book

Author Nancy Bilyeau sent me a galley copy of her novella, The Ghost of Madison Avenue and the cover inspired me to create a mix media digital collage for the cover. I started reading the story Thursday night and I was so engrossed in the story, I read late into the night. What a perfect time to read this hauntingly good story.

My background choice for the collage comes from my own picture of a denim rag rug I sewed this week. The textures are digital stars and I felt they added a mysterious feel to the cover. Be sure to get your copy of this fabulous story on Amazon! My review coming soon! -Stephanie Hopkins

A Christmas Novella in Old New York

In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to New York City’s Morgan Library in December 1912, when two very different people haunted by lost love come together in an unexpected way.

Helen O’Neill, part of a tight-knit Irish-American family in the Bronx, is only too happy to report to work at the spectacular private library built on Madison Avenue by millionaire financier J. P. Morgan. The head librarian, the brilliant and beautiful Belle da Costa Greene, had hired Helen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after she witnessed Helen’s unusual talent with handling artifacts.

About Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the historical thrillers “The Blue” and “Dreamland” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry.” She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada.

In “The Blue,” Nancy drew on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied History at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to “Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley

In light of Friday the 13th last week, I selected this story (audible book) and I haven’t read from D.M. Pulley before. Hmm…my thoughts vary of the tale I’m absorbing. – Stephanie

No One's HomeFor fans of The Haunting of Hill House comes a dark tale of a mansion haunted by a legacy of tragedy and a family trapped by lies.

Margot and Myron Spielman move to a new town, looking for a fresh start and an escape from the long shadow of their past. But soon after they buy Rawlingswood, a foreclosed mansion rumored to be haunted, they realize they’re in for more of the same…or worse.

After a renovation fraught with injuries and setbacks, the Spielmans move in to the century-old house, and their problems quickly escalate. The home’s beautiful facade begins to crumble around them when their teenage son uncovers disturbing details of Rawlingswood’s history—a history of murder, betrayal, and financial ruin. The Spielmans’ own shameful secrets and lies become harder to hide as someone or something inside the house watches their every move.

As tensions build between the family members, the home’s dark history threatens to repeat itself. Margot and Myron must confront their own ghosts and Rawlingswood’s buried past before the house becomes their undoing.

Cover Crush: Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredricks

Cover Crush banner

Y’all I just had to bring back the Cover Crush Series because I am a sucker for cover art! I am not a book cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover. This latest one just really popped out to me due to the colors and the Lady’s dress and hat I believe.  

Death of an American BeautySt. Martin’s Press/Pub Date 14 Apr 2020

 

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated by Erin at Historical Fiction Reader .

Other book bloggers who participated in the great cover crushes series. 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

Beach Vibes & A Story

meI hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday! We spent ours in Kure Beach, North Carolina. What a wonderful time with the Family and spending time on the beach and hanging out in Wilmington for a couple hours with my mother and sister. I took a lot of great pictures and will be sharing them in the coming days.

 

 

Beach scene

 

To the right is one I took on November 30th. Even though I am a Florida Native, I adore the North Carolina Coast and hope to live there one day. For now I’ll visit as much as possible. With the beautiful scenery of the ocean and the coastal towns, I have been inspired for new art projects I want to start soon. The art pieces will be a blend of vintage and abstracts themes. 

 

Rebecca Muddiman - No Place Like Home_coverI didn’t get as much reading in as I thought I might but I was a bit distracted. Here is one I listened too and I’m not sure I will write a review for it. However, I did rate the story three stars. Below is the book description:

“What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home.The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.”

On the quilting front, I decided that the quilt size I chose isn’t quite big enough for what I’m wanting so I decided to make the quilt larger. I’m really thrilled about this project because I am using my Grandmother’s quilting scraps for the patches on the denim squares.

Have a beautiful Tuesday and be sure to check back more more updates!

Stephanie

 

Signs Of A Book Addict

When you have a Barnes & Noble Gift Card and you are browsing the B&N shelves trying to remember if you already have that book in your home library…. Yeah, that’s me. Or you have so many books in your NetGalley shelf, you can’t remember if you’ve reviewed the book. These are all signs of a book addict I must confess.

I decided to take a chance on three books I wasn’t sure I already had. They are down below and I’m really looking forward to reading them!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Whispering in FrenchWhispering in French by Sophia Nash

Published August 1st 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Home is the last place Kate expected to find herself…

As a child, Kate Hamilton was packed off each summer to her grandfather’s ivy-covered villa in southern France. That ancestral home, named Marthe Marie, is now crumbling, and it falls to Kate—regarded as the most responsible and practical member of her family—to return to the rugged, beautiful seaside region to confront her grandfather’s debts and convince him to sell.

Kate makes her living as a psychologist and life coach, but her own life is in as much disarray as Marthe Marie. Her marriage has ended, and she’s convinced that she has failed her teen aged daughter, Lily, in unforgivable ways. While delving into colorful family history and the consequences of her own choices, Kate reluctantly agrees to provide coaching to Major Edward Soames, a British military officer suffering with post-traumatic stress. Breaking through his shell, and dealing with idiosyncratic locals intent on viewing her as an Americanized outsider, will give Kate new insight into who—and where—she wants to be. The answers will prove as surprising as the secrets that reside in the centuries-old villa.

Witty and sophisticated, rich in history and culture, Sophia Nash’s novel vividly evokes both its idyllic French setting and the universal themes of self-forgiveness and rebuilding in a story as touching as it is wise.

All Is Not ForgottenAll is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Published July 18th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

A Piece of the WorldA Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Published February 21st 2017 by William Morrow

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Next Up On The Reading Agenda

Here are two books I am planning on reading next. I can’t wait! Both of these books are by authors I adore and find their stories gripping. Aren’t the covers great?! -Stephanie M. Hopkins

**********

until the day i die by emily carpenterUntil the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Pub Date 12 Mar 2019

Description

From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

the lost girls of paris by pam jenoffThe Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Pub Date 29 Jan 2019

1946, Manhattan

Description

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Nutritional Science and Reading

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Recently I have made a big change in my lifestyle of eating. I’ve always considered myself as someone who has eaten fairly healthy but I struggled with how I felt physically and mentally. I’ve had a lot of surgeries and physical problems since I was two months old. First beginning with a heart defect and the list goes on…

For people with chronic health issues, you know that waking up everyday you don’t know how you are going to feel. It is a daunting way of life. If it weren’t for my strong will, I think I would be in worse shape. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I felt totally hopeless. However, I am no longer having days where feel like that. I’m not giving up and I am getting stronger. What is helping me? First, research, and learning all I can about the Whole Foods Plant Based Diet.

One of my illnesses is a Digestion Disease and I have to be careful what I eat not knowing how it is going to impact me on a daily basis. Its like taking a gamble of what to eat. The Whole Foods Plant Based Diet has opened a whole new world for me and believe me, I’ve tried a ton of different diets. On this diet you do not eat meat, dairy, or processed foods. People have asked me all sorts of questions about this diet and wonder how this can be healthy without the meat or dairy. This year on Layered Pages, I will be answering those questions but first, I recommend you read The China Study and watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix. I will begin today by saying that I no longer have cravings for processed sugar, meats or dairy. Matter of fact, every time I see meat, I cringe knowing what it was doing to my health and digestive system.  If you have any questions about the Whole Foods Plant Based Diet, please feel free to ask me and I will do my best to answer your questions or direct you to the right source.

Now onto my other books I am reading. I finished, Long Road To Mercy by David Baldacci! There was thing I liked about the story and things that made me roll my eyes. Ha! I might discuss this more later on.

I’m still reading The Blue by Nancy Bileau and I’m enjoying the story so much I am savoring it. I will be working on a project about this book with the author and I look forward to sharing more of that with you soon.

I’m also listening to an audible book, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. So far, I haven’t really been immersed into the story but I’m not giving up. I do find some of the situations fascinating however.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and productive New Year! Until next time….

Stephanie M. Hopkins

The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health

The updated and expanded edition of the bestseller that changed millions of lives

The science is clear. The results are unmistakable.

You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet.

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

In 2005, Colin and his son Tom, now a physician, shared those findings with the world in The China Study, hailed as one of the most important books about diet and health ever written.

Featuring brand new content, this heavily expanded edition of Colin and Tom’s groundbreaking book includes the latest undeniable evidence of the power of a plant-based diet, plus updated information about the changing medical system and how patients stand to benefit from a surging interest in plant-based nutrition.

The China Study – Updated and Expanded Edition presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation. The basic message is clear. The key to a long, healthy life lies in three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

“A lush debut; Owens delivers her mystery wrapped in gorgeous, lyrical prose.” (Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight)

How long can you protect your heart?

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gailman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane II

I was hesitating to download this audio book because I read Neverwhere years ago for a book club read and it was too disturbing and dark for my taste to finish. Having said that, in no way am I saying Gailman is not a good writer. He is s superb story teller and his imagination is really something else.

Have you ever heard Him speak? I can listen to Him talk all day long. Anyhow, I came across The Ocean At The End of The Lane last night and decided to take a chance. Wow, am I glad I did! I was literally drawn in from the first few lines. That really says a lot about the story. At first, I was thinking maybe because it was His voice that is so mesmerizing…. but I think it’s everything about the story, the characters and the way He is weaving the tale. This is one story I am going to be sad when I get to the end of it.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

About the book:

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gailman

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.