Thursday, March 2, 2017

One Reader's Voice Out Loud



Writers need the mindset of writing to tell stories first and foremost. Not go into it with the attitude of a money making venture but for the pure pleasure of story-telling. That is the best gift they can give to their readers. Please keep this in mind when promoting your books via social media. The in your face "buy my book" doesn't appeal to most readers. There are more creative ways in reaching your readership. 


Stephanie M. Hopkins 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Award Winning Book: Across the Mekong River by Elaine Russel

Synopsis


“In a California courtroom, seventeen-year-old Nou Lee reels with what she is about to do. What she must do to survive. She reflects on the splintered path that led to this moment, beginning twelve years ago in 1978, when her Hmong family escaped from Laos after the Communist takeover. The story follows the Lees from a squalid refugee camp in Thailand to a new life in Minnesota and eventually California. Family members struggle to survive in a strange foreign land, haunted by the scars of war and loss of family. Across the Mekong River paints a vivid picture of the Hmong immigrant experience, exploring family love, sacrifice, and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome tragic circumstances.”

Author Website

Author's Twitter: @erussellwrites

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

Hardcover, 464 pages
Expected publication: May 9th 2017 by Grand Central Publishing

A gorgeous, deft literary retelling of Charlotte Bronte's beloved Jane Eyre--through the eyes of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself.

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FINALLY! It’s about time someone wrote a story about Mr. Rochester's side of the story. Sarah Shoemaker has my deepest gratitude for writing this story.  I am delighted to have a eARC (Advance Readers Copy) of this book and I will be sinking my teeth into it shortly. Stay tuned for my commentary of this much anticipated story.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


Friday, January 6, 2017

One Reader's Voice Out Loud


I strongly believe in the importance of listening to what readers have to say and to take in any considerations, concerns or their attitudes toward stories. There are many different elements that make or break a story. Often times it depends on what the reader comes away with it and express.

As a reader I often ponder about what is really important to me in a story. In the beginning of the year I had a chance to answer that question to a stranger in a store-while browsing books-when she asked me what I thought was the most important aspect of a book. I told her, “Strongly drawn characters and how they deal with their challenges is important to the plot and overall themes of the story. If the characters don't draw me in, it’s a bust." Ever since this has been on my mind and yesterday an interesting conversation about what readers want more of or less of came about on Facebook. It was quite enlightening and a big eye opener. I’m not sure it enlightening for some authors involved in the conversations as much as it was for the readers who expressed their wishes or concerns. Most readers want a variety of things and often times are frustrated when those elements are not meant. On occasion we express ourselves via social media and what we desire. It doesn’t always work out for us to do that. That is wrong and a reader’s voice should be heard regardless what the main-stream market says we want or should want...

Having said that, there are times when an author’s hands are tied by their agents or publishers in what they write about. I have talked to many authors about what they wanted to write and from what they told me, I was very interested. Too bad their agents and pubs didn’t see it that way. On this same score, many of my fellow readers’/book bloggers and I would love publishers to accept their female author’s pitches on writing more about male characters. A good friend said and I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her, “We've stripped men of intrigue and depth in an effort to paint women as dynamic, strong, multifaceted individuals.”  And, “The powers that be are convinced that because most readers are women, authors should write books about women and women's issues. Male characters must be sacrificed on the altar of sexist marketing to achieve this aim...” I tend to agree with her and she brings up a valid point. Anyhow, that is for another discussion.

To further add insight of a readers’ voice…As for my fellow book reviewers’/book bloggers, we are a different breed of readers. Many of us are professional readers for companies like, NetGalley. We also have the chance to talk with authors behind the scenes about their writing, interview them and we know the market and how to promote. We are not what you call the “average reader”. We tend to look more at how the story is structured overall and how the characters are portrayed. We are writers’ in our own right and many of us are working on novels as well and dreaming of one day being published. I myself who works in the book industry-not as a author yet- and who has also talked to hundreds of authors and readers know that readers do have something of value to bring to the table.

Our opinions and what we want to see more of or less of in stories should not be dismissed or undermined. The value of a reader’s voice is important and one that should be listened to with respect and consideration.

Stephanie M. Hopkins.
Layered Pages

Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Non-Fiction: American History

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

Book Description: Following his subject from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Joseph Ellis unravels the contradictions of the Jeffersonian character. A marvel of scholarship, a delight to read, and an essential gloss on the Jeffersonian legacy.

Noted: I’ve read a lot about Jefferson but I haven’t’ read this book so I thought I would grab a copy. I am looking forward to seeing how he is portrayed.

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This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust

Book Description: An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause. She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields-from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

Noted: I’m currently deepening my research in what some call the American Civil War and I stumbled on this book on social media. Not sure where but I am hoping this book is worth reading and gives me some more insight of the war.

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A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West by James Donovan

In June of 1876, on a desolate hill above a winding river called "the Little Bighorn," George Armstrong Custer and all 210 men under his direct command were annihilated by almost 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne. The news of this devastating loss caused a public uproar, and those in positions of power promptly began to point fingers in order to avoid responsibility. Custer, who was conveniently dead, took the brunt of the blame.

The truth, however, was far more complex. A TERRIBLE GLORY is the first book to relate the entire story of this endlessly fascinating battle, and the first to call upon all the significant research and findings of the past twenty-five years--which have changed significantly how this controversial event is perceived. Furthermore, it is the first book to bring to light the details of the U.S. Army cover-up--and unravel one of the greatest mysteries in U.S. military history.

Scrupulously researched, A TERRIBLE GLORY will stand as ta landmark work. Brimming with authentic detail and an unforgettable cast of characters--from Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse to Ulysses Grant and Custer himself--this is history with the sweep of a great novel.

Noted: What frustrates me the most about stories of Custer is from what I’ve read, the history has been twisted and there is a lot of myth to it…I do have strong opinions about how the Native Americans were treated by the Federal (Unionist) Government. Shameful doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions…

Though I hear this book portrays Custer as likable civil war hero of the unionist. That said, I am still willing to give this book a try.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Be sure to take a look at my latest fiction book review at my WordPress HERE.

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages II today!



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Two New eARC: So many books...

I am delighted to receive these new eARC (Advance Reader Copies) from the publishers through NetGalley. They both have great covers too.  Check them out!

The Den of Iniquity- Pub Date 11 Jan 2017  

Welcome to the most notorious address in London…
Beneath the airs and graces of the Ton lies The Underworld – London’s most scandalous gambling hall.

The only thing darker and more debauched that the hall itself? The proprietor, Max Sinclair. As mysterious as the corners of the city he stalks, Max has vowed to take revenge against the men who murdered his mother. And The Underworld attracts London’s darkest characters – the perfect partners in crime.

But when Lady Vivienne Beaumont enters The Underworld, Max’s life becomes more dangerous than he ever thought possible.

Enter a world of lust, lawlessness and obsession with The Den of Iniquity, the first in Anabelle Bryant’s Bastards of London series.


The Shadow Land- Pub Date 11 Apr 2017

From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present—and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country.

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi—and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes
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As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Kostova’s new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

Be sure to check out my WeekendShenanigans & Manic Monday and LayeredPages Top Reads: 2016 at my WordPress!

Stephanie M. Hopkins 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Layered Pages Current Reads

Today I finished reading, A Twist in Time by Julie McElain and my review will be coming soon at my WordPress. So be sure to be on the lookout for that. I have lots of interesting things to say about the story.

I’m currently reading two books! 

Roma Amor (Won in a book giveaway)

Riding home from the Danube frontier, Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he passes his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son—Caligula’s closest friend—committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by fighting Rome's enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father calls him home to befriend and steady the erratic Caligula, he has no choice.

Swept into a labyrinth of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal reaching from Palatine mansions to the city’s grimy, teeming streets, Marcus will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

Berlin Calling (ARC for review) - Pub Date 14 Feb 2017 

Germany 1938. While young and old are captivated by the country’s rapid ascent under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, naive Maggie O’Dea, an American studying abroad, finds her own fortunes turning after falling in love with a handsome soldier and landing a job with the Propaganda Ministry. Embodying the infectious spirit of nationalism sweeping the country, her powerful dispatches launch her broadcasting career as a champion of the Fatherland.

But as Germany invades one peaceful neighbor after another and the wheels of World War II are set in motion, Maggie starts opening her eyes to the grim reality of Hitler’s intentions. Torn between her successful career rooted in the allegiance to her adopted land and a growing dread over her role in a tyrant’s ruthless reign, Maggie—supported by a new love—must fight her own war of conscience. Will she survive a conflict threatening the world…and her own life?

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Be sure to check out my Cover Crush this week over at my WordPress HERE and my Wish-List 5: Random Bits of Bookish Delights HERE.

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages II today!

Stephanie M. Hopkins