Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Layered Page's Current Reads

There are moments when I read more than one book at a time. I can’t help myself and my moods have been all over the place lately with differnt genres. Luckly, I can keep up with all of the stories in my head without getting confused. Okay, Okay I’ll tell you a little secret. I take notes as well. Shh…don’t tell. Plus, I have a big project I have been asked to work on in the new year and I need to clear some of my reading shelf. This project will take up almost half a year worth of reading. More to come later about that.

So let’s get started! Below are the books I’m reading and what I have to say about each book thus far. Enjoy!

I have been dying to get my hands on one of Libbie Hawkers books. When this came available through NetGalley, I jumped on it. I’ve read the first few pages so far and I am intrigued with the premise. Review coming soon.

When Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity?

Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?

The Beautiful Daughters has been completely conflicted. My thoughts are torn with this story, actually. I’m reviewing this one for NetGalley, so you will see more of my thoughts soon when I post the review.

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

I’m almost through with, 'In the Shadow of the Storm' by Anna Belfrage. I am on the last few pages. What an adventure! I’m reserving the rest of my thoughts for my written review which will come in the near future.

Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Lord Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Lord Roger thinks she is. So when Lord Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be. 

England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other. 
Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and Lord Roger, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods. 

Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped? 
Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Lord Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can. 

'In the Shadow of the Storm' is the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

Hysterical Love by Lorraine Wilke is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree and the author kindly sent me a copy because of the support I have been giving her on Layered Pages. She is a delight to work with and I’ve been wanting to read her stories for a while now. Being from the South and reading a story where the setting takes place in California is new to me and thus far I am enjoying the experience. Lorraine certainly does not hold back with her prose and style. One can tell she enjoys her craft in character building.

Dan McDowell, a thirty-three-year-old portrait photographer happily set to marry his beloved Jane, is stunned when a slip of the tongue about an “ex-girlfriend overlap” of years earlier throws their pending marriage into doubt and him onto the street. Or at least into the second bedroom of their next-door neighbor, Bob, where Dan is sure it won't be long. It's long. 

His sister, Lucy, further confuses matters with her “soul mate theory” and its suggestion that Jane might not be his... soul mate, that is. But the tipping point comes when his father is struck ill, sparking a chain of events in which Dan discovers a story written by this man he doesn’t readily understand, but who, it seems, has long harbored an unrequited love from decades earlier. 

Incapable of fixing his own romantic dilemma, Dan becomes fixated on finding this woman of his father’s dreams and sets off for Oakland, California, on a mission fraught with detours and semi-hilarious peril. Along the way he meets the beautiful Fiona, herbalist and flower child, who assists in his quest while quietly and erotically shaking up his world. When, against all odds, he finds the elusive woman from the past, the ultimate discovery of how she truly fit into his father's life leaves him staggered, as does the reality of what’s been stirred up with Fiona. But it’s when he returns home to yet another set of unexpected truths that he’s shaken to the core, ultimately forced to face who he is and just whom he might be able to love.

Lorraine Devon Wilke, author of the acclaimed debut novel, After The Sucker Punch, brings her deft mix of humor and drama to a whip-smart narrative told from the point of view of its male protagonist. Hysterical Love explores themes of family, commitment, balancing creativity, facing adulthood, and digging deep to understand the beating heart of true love.

Perfidtas is the sequel to Inceptio by Alison Morton. Her stories have been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Her alternate history series is unlike anything I have read before. I’m totally digging its uniqueness and the world she has created. Be sure to check out this series. I recommend starting with the first book. The stories build on each other.

Present day, alternate reality. Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’état thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country. 

Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…

Often times I switch to modern day thrillers to mix things up a bit. It also helps me keep things in perspective when it comes to my own writing. I am an avid reader of Historical Fiction but writing an alternate history story that takes place in the modern day and reveals a 16th Century past. It’s pretty cool. I’m having a lot of fun with it. 

A body in a rundown Opera House.
Simmering resentment in a small Virginia coastal town.
A missing manuscript.
A dark family secret.

Former piano prodigy turned FBI agent Scott Drayco is suffering nightmares from his last case as a private consultant. To add insult to injury, he's bequeathed an unwanted and rundown Opera House in Cape Unity, a down-on-its-luck seaside village where vacation homes were once a playground for the rich. His hopes for a quick sale are dashed when a new client with dreams of his own redemption is murdered in the Opera House, the letter “G” mockingly carved into his chest. Slowly, inevitably, Drayco is pulled into a tangled web of jealousy and betrayal that reaches across the Atlantic into some of the darkest days of human history. But will he be able to untangle the web before the tensions in Cape Unity explode into more violence and he becomes the next victim?

Okay, so as a general rule I do not do Vampire Stories (usually) but this captured my attention some time ago and I’ve been too curious about it to stay away. What do I think of it so far? Well, you’ll just have to wait. I want to surprise you.

Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest brother of King Charles II is a handsome man with sound principles. When the twenty-year-old prince contracts smallpox in 1660, however, his life takes a decidedly sinister turn. Obsessed with Henry from afar, Contessa Griselda di Cuorenero - one of the Devil's concubines - turns him into a vampire and plunges him into the world of night. But Henry soon discovers that not all horrors are of the paranormal kind... In the unnaturally close village of Coffin's Bishop, Henry encounters a severely abused young woman - Susanna Edmonds - a woman who has suffered under humans more monstrous than vampires. Could love save them from the evil they have known? And at what cost? Henry must choose between his humanity and his monstrous, insatiable desire for human blood. From the author of "His Last Mistress," The Stuart Vampire is a dark gothic tale in the vein of The Monk.

The Historian is one I have read before (more than once) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it still. I’m reading it with a different eye this time around. Alas, it’s a dense read with articulate prose and I am absorbing this lush story in small lavish dosages.

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history.

Book descriptions from goodreads.

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Stephanie M. Hopkins

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