Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday Fun Fact


Did you know that bestselling author, Darcie Chan was one of indieBRAG’s earliest B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees? She is now a main-stream publishing author with Random House.

Darcie's website


Twitter: @DarcieChan


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Book Highlight!



B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

When the body of Maggie McFarland, an 86-year old widow, is found among the rubble of the once-famous, landmark Artemis Hotel, leveled by fire nearly seventy years ago, residents of Roscoe are shocked. However, it is not the location where Maggie is found, but rather the manner of her demise that has everyone puzzled. For it isn't a heart attack that has felled her; nor has she suffered a stroke, or taken a fatal fall from a porch. Her life has not ended so uneventfully. Maggie has been killed by a bullet to the heart, fired from a pistol at close range. Who would possibly want to kill this kind, gentle woman, known throughout the area as one of the best trout fly tiers within a hundred miles of the famed Beaverkill River? That is the mystery that confronts Matt Davis in Broken Promises, one of the most baffling cases of his career.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Calling All Readers!


Thank you to readers who have submitted applications to indieBRAG- we are so glad to have you join us!
We still need more readers so be sure to tell your friends!

Genres provided: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult, Children and Non-Fiction.

We will provide the ebooks for free and you will be a part of a global reading group attempting to shine a light on worthy self-publishing books.


Thank you!
Stephanie M. Hopkins


indieBRAG Team Member

Monday, December 21, 2015

Books by Nancy Bilyeau

Check out one of my all-time favorite trilogies by Nancy Bilyeau. She is one of my favorite writers of the Tudor Era. I highly recommend!



Tudor fiction like no other. Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story set in Tudor England melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.



It was a time of fear. It was a time of prophecy. It was a time for one woman to show a courage she never knew she had...

Winner of the Best Historical Mystery Award from the RT Reviews, 'The Chalice' is a thriller told from the point of view of a young woman caught in the crosswinds of time: She has pledged to become a Dominican nun in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who has ruthlessly smashed his country's allegiance to Rome. By 1538, the bloody power struggles between crown and cross threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last. The life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies. As she struggles to forge a life for herself in a country that rejects her faith, she must also decide if her future should be shared with a man--and if so, which of the two men who love her should be chosen. 




The next page-turner in the award-winning Joanna Stafford series takes place in the heart of the Tudor court, as the gutsy former novice risks everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.

After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed forever—collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII’s quest to overthrow the Catholic Church—Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King’s attention.

Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King, and fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. Her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.

Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King’s mistress. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naïve Catherine from becoming the King’s next wife and, possibly, victim.

Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts, tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna Stafford must finally choose.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

2016 Historical Novel Society Indie Award Announcement


I have the great pleasure to announce that I have been honored of being the short-list judge for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award alongside Steve Donoghue HNS US Indie Review Editor and author Janis Pegrum Smith - and the Finalist judges: James Aitcheson (author and historian) and Anna Belfrage author and 2015 Indie Award Winner.

Here's the full longlist - the nine selected shortlist titles will be announced here on 1st January.


I am in good company!


Stephanie M. Hopkins 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Is In A Name?

When reading a story, I am always wondering how the writers came up with the name for their characters. Now, historical fiction, I get. Except maybe for the fictional characters thrown in. Does the writer look on the internet, billboards, name their characters after friends, favorite actor, family or foe? Or do the names just pop in their heads? I wonder if some writers come up with the name from the personalities of their characters. That would be cool. Or do they take an on-line survey? As you can see, there are endless ways to come up with names…

Whatever the reason, this is just one of the many thoughts on my mind in the world of a writer and reader.

For myself, I write alternate history, so I use names of Historical figures.  Okay, okay, I use names that have always appealed to me or of names of people I’ve come across growing up as well. Names of girls I wish my mother named me or who I despised. Names of boys I disliked with a passion or had a crush on. Hey, at least I can admit this out loud in a VERY public way.  

Do you often wonder how writers come up with names?

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Book Highlight!




Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories: A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets. An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire. An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished. A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue. A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls. A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried. Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each other’s' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

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.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out my wordpress for author interviews and much more!


Stephanie M. Hopkins