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




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Interview with Award Winning Author Helena Schrader

 Today over at my WordPress, I've interviewed award winning author Helena Schrader.



"Slavery is one of the most abhorrent practices known to man. It is equally repellent in the Ancient world, the Middle Ages, pre-Civil War America or today. Regardless of place or period, slaves are first and foremost dehumanized, they are subjected to extreme brutality, contempt, cruelty, overwork, malnutrition, sadism and torture. What struck me as particularly repulsive the context of this book, however, was a passage written by Salah ad-Din’s secretary Imad ad-Din in which he gleefully delights and glorifies in the humiliations to which Christian women and girls captured in Jerusalem were subjected, “bringing a smile to Muslim faces at their lamentations…” -To read more of this interesting context click HERE. A really fascinating read! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Layered Pages: Monday’s Featured Book

With divine beauty comes dangerous power.

Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.

But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. 
Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?



Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

Amalia on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter here and here.

More great book posts at Layered Pages WordPress HERE



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Over at my WordPress this week, I posted my book review of Girl In Disguise by Greer MacAllister. I thought I would share here as well because it’s such a great story and I want to get the word out about it!
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With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate widow mostly trouble and ruin―unless that widow has a knack for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective.

Battling criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the right to tackle some of the agency’s toughest investigations. But is the woman she’s becoming―capable of any and all lies, swapping identities like dresses―the true Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always thought she was?

My Thoughts:

The Pinkerton Agency is widely known for their pursuit of Jesse James, the Dalton Brothers and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. What is not commonly known is the agency hired the first female Detective-Kate Warne- in the U.S. during the mid-1850’s. The founder Allan Pinkerton immigrated to Chicago from Scotland in the early 1840’s and joined the Chicago police department and soon after opened the first Pinkerton Agency. Before reading, Girl in Disguise, I had not known about Kate, so I was delighted when I discovered this book on NetGalley.

Kate Warne is an extraordinary woman-especially someone as independent as she was in the 1800’s. During those times it was unheard of for women to do what was considered a “Man’s job”. Allan Pinkerton was hesitant-if you will-to hire her but in his knowledge of undercover work, he knew that often times it was not easy for males to gain access to the people they were pursuing. With strong intellect and determination, Kate quickly proves herself to be invaluable and gains the trust of Pinkerton

Kate’s talent for gathering information is well displayed in this story and gives you great insight into detective work and I found this highly fascinating to read about. As the story developed further, the Pinkerton Agency flourished and you really get a sense of the character’s will to fight for justice.
The second half of the story focuses on the American Civil War and the agencies role. This is where I learned some new things about the agency I had not realized before. I did find a few scenes disjointed and there is a brief romance that just seem to appear and I was not sure-at first- how that would play out in the story. In the end I believe it worked and really helped Kate’s motivation for the actions she took. I do question Kate’s ability to travel freely on her own while the war was raging and I’m not sure that was believable to me. Nonetheless it did not entirely distract me from enjoying the story.

After finishing the story, I tuned to the author’s notes and I was glad I did. I developed a deeper appreciation for the story from having read it and I highly recommend that readers take the time to do so.

I have rated this story four stars and obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.


Stephanie M. Hopkins

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ruler Of The Night by David Morrell

Tomorrow at my Layered Pages WordPress HERE, I will be posting my review of Ruler of The Night by David Morrell! Don’t miss it!

The notorious Opium-Eater returns in the sensational climax to David Morrell's acclaimed Victorian mystery trilogy.

1855. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day's journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England's first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England's first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

Editorial review:


Ruler of the Night is a riveting blend of fact and fiction which, like master storyteller David Morrell's previous De Quincey novels, "evokes Victorian London with such finesse that you'll hear the hooves clattering on cobblestones, the racket of dustmen, and the shrill calls of vendors" (Entertainment Weekly).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Book Release: Out of Bounds by Val McDermid


Edition Hardcover
ISBN 9780802125743

Internationally bestselling author Val McDermid is one of our finest crime writers, whose gripping, impeccably plotted novels have garnered millions of readers worldwide. In her latest, Out of Bounds, she delivers a riveting cold case novel featuring detective Karen Pirie.

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test reveals a connection to an unsolved murder from twenty-two years before. Finding the answer to the cold case should be straightforward. But it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another mystery that she has no business investigating, a mystery that has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades ago. And again, she finds that nothing is as it seems.

An enthralling, twisty read, Out of Bounds reaffirms Val McDermid’s place as one of the most dependable professionals in the mystery and thriller business.

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 Editorial Reviews: 

“McDermid melds the political thriller with the police procedural for an intense novel that . . . feels both intensely personal and global . . . Karen . . . once again proves herself a formidable character worthy of her own series.”—Associated Press on The Skeleton Road

“McDermid excels in putting the reader at the center of the action . . . A tightly paced mystery . . . My bones tell me we haven’t seen the last of Inspector Pirie—or at least I hope not.” —Janet Napolitano, Los Angeles Times on The Skeleton Road


Friday, December 2, 2016

Kendra Donovan Series by Julie McELWAIN

Back in April, I interviewed author Julie McELWAIN about her debut novel, A Murder in Time. See full interview here and I have been waiting for her sequel, A Twist in Time, to come out. Well, guess what?! I was able to get an ARC of the story and I can’t wait to read and write a review about it. I hoping to this weekend. That remains to be seen. I have a buddy read to finish up and another for review. Next week I HAVE to turn in three full book reviews. Here is to hoping! 



To find out more about her first book, check out my full review of A Murder in Time here.

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The sequel to A Murder in Time.


Pub Date 11 Apr 2017

When Kendra Donovan’s plan to return to the 21st century fails, leaving her stranded in 1815, the Duke of Aldridge believes he knows the reason—she must save his nephew, who has been accused of brutally murdering his ex-mistress.

Former FBI agent Kendra Donovan’s attempts to return to the twenty-first century have failed, leaving her stuck at Aldridge Castle in 1815. And her problems have just begun: in London, the Duke of Aldridge’s nephew Alec—Kendra’s confidante and lover—has come under suspicion for murdering his former mistress, Lady Dover, who was found viciously stabbed with a stiletto, her face carved up in a bizarre and brutal way.

Lady Dover had plenty of secrets, and her past wasn’t quite what she’d made it out to be. Nor is it entirely in the past—which becomes frighteningly clear when a crime lord emerges from London’s seamy underbelly to threaten Alec. Joining forces with Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly, Kendra must navigate the treacherous nineteenth century while she picks through the strands of Lady Dover’s life.

As the noose tightens around Alec’s neck, Kendra will do anything to save him, including following every twist and turn through London’s glittering ballrooms, where deception is the norm—and any attempt to uncover the truth will get someone killed.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Exclusive Author Interview Annoucement

Coming up tomorrow-December 1st- on my Layered Pages WordPress is my interview with best-selling author C.S. Harris! She will be talking to me about her book, Good Time Coming.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Manic Monday & Bookish Delights


Today at Layered PagesWordPress, I am sharing with you David Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas De Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest! Also, I share weekend happenings, thoughts and discovery of a show on Netflix! Be sure to check out my post and support book bloggers! We support you.



Click here for the post at my Layered Pages WordPress! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Bookish Things & Reflections


Today over at my Layered Pages WordPress  I have shared some bookish happenings and some reflections about what has been going on this week during election time. Click on the link here to check out what I have to say. Also, I mention some great posts from my fellow book bloggers! I hope you all join me in supporting book bloggers, authors and great reads!



Now I am going to take a short break and enjoy a quick cup of tea before getting back to work. Enjoy your weekend and thank you for visiting Layered Pages! Many blessings.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .
I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

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Three sentences that grabbed me in the book description not mentioned above:

You do the same thing every day

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

My Thoughts:

How much privacy do you think we really have? With social media-it’s next to none. Imagine opening a newspaper and finding your picture shown big as a day on it with no explanation. There are no words to describe how one would feel. Or is there? Did Clare Mackintish accomplish that goal in, I See You?

I am absolutely fascinated with psychological thrillers. Why? I am curious about the human condition and what makes people tick. What motivates them to commit the acts they do. I do- however- think there is a fine line writers should not cross in this genre. Some things are too dark and disturbing for the average reader to venture to or for anyone for that matter. Clare Mackintosh is one of the few writers who can get into the mind of a psychopath or sociopath-if you will and stay in the boundaries just enough to not leave you feeling physically ill. She gives you the right amount of tension and chill factor to leave you totally creeped out. She has you thinking about just how much information do you put out there and what could happen. The ramifications in this story are mind-boggling and so intense!

I love how she has you thinking throughout the whole story-guessing-who is the perp. Who is the mastermind behind these unnerving and horrible acts? I was quite surprised the end but started to have my suspicions about a little over halfway through. I admired how she ended the story and I wanted more! I would also like to mention I was really intrigued with how the detectives handled the case and their process.

Be sure to check out I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh as well! Fabulous read.
I rated this book four and a half stars!

I received an ARC Copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Book Publishing Information:
Berkley Publishing Group/Berkley/Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 04 Apr 2017

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 *You can find this review and other great posts at my WORDPRESS!


#supportbookbloggers #bookreview #thriller 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Waterstone's Bookstores


B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree Authors-

Here is some info on getting your book into Waterstone's bookstores. If you are attempting to get your book into a bookstore or library, be sure to ask us for a letter from indieBRAG explaining why this award is important for your book. Click on the link here

IndieBRAG Site click here 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Historical Mysteries At Its Best!

The Sin Eater by David Penny has just been awarded the B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree and I am really curios about it. This story looks seriously good! Adding it to my wish-list! For more information about David Penny and his other books click here. Be sure to check out other posts by me at my WordPress here! Happy reading!

Synopsis

Moorish Spain, 1484, and no-one is innocent.

Thomas Berrington, emigre Englishman who has made the doomed city of Garnatah his home, is once again attempting to solve a series of mysterious deaths. Accompanied by his companion, the palace eunuch Jorge, Thomas struggles to discover the truth while those in power seek to distract him. As his investigation continues, his personal life splinters into chaos and he finds the Spanish once more demanding his presence.

As Thomas and Jorge draw closer to their quarry, the killer’s attention turns on them and those they love. The pair must race to unmask the sin eater before the lives of those close to them become forfeit.


The Sin Eater is the follow up to The Red Hill and Breaker of Bones, stunning historical mysteries set in a time and place coloured by intrigue and battle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Calling All Readers!

Are you passionate about reading and discovering new authors? Join a global group of readers at indieBRAG and help us discover talented self-published authors! Find out more information about indieBRAG and how to become a reader by clicking on the link here

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bookish Delights at Layered Pages and indieBRAG!


I've got a TON of bookish delights over at my WordPress! Be sure to check the posts out here 

Also, don't miss the exciting indieBRAG Halloween Event and enter your chance to win an Amazon Gift Card! There is some great guest posts and book deals as well.

indieBRAG Halloween Event here 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Award Winning Book-Midnight Marriage by Lucinda Brant

An Award Winning Book! -A great B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Stand-alone book 2 in the acclaimed Roxton Family Saga, Julian and Deb’s story

1760s England and France. Julian and Deb are hurriedly, and secretly, married off as teenagers. Julian is then banished to the continent. Deb is returned to the nursery, told her midnight marriage was just a bad dream from the effects of laudanum. Nine years later, Julian returns incognito to claim his bride before a debonair rival can seduce her into bigamous wedlock. Can Julian and Deb’s marriage survive such a calculated deception?

Set in the opulent world of the aristocracy and inspired by real events, Lucinda Brant delivers another lavish 18th century experience in her trademark style — heart-wrenching drama with a happily ever after.

“Lucinda Brant’s sweeping family sagas are a perfect reminder of why I fell in love with historical romance” — Cheryl Bolen, New York Times bestselling author

Awards
2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Silver Medalist – audiobook
2013 Readers′ Favorite International Book Award Silver Medalist – ebook
Reviews

“MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE carries on the Roxton series tradition with still another wonderful tale set in the 1700s where life is anything but simple. You will once again be reminded why Lucinda Brant’s books are such a treasure.” — SWurman: 5 STARS, a Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
“Nice twists and turns, dramatic revelations, and some enjoyable chaos make this a book that keeps the reader turning the pages. Highly recommended!” — Fiona Ingram: 5 STARS, Readers’ Favorite

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Only 10-15% of books considered are awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and now the first three books in the Roxton Family Saga have medallions!



LUCINDA BRANT is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Georgian historical romances & mysteries full of wit and adventure. Her award-winning novels have been described as from ‘the Golden Age of romance with a modern voice’, and ‘heart wrenching drama with a happily ever after’.

Lucinda has degrees in History and Political Science from the Australian National University and a post-graduate diploma in Education from Bond University, where she was the recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Lucinda taught History and Geography at an exclusive boarding school for young ladies. She drinks too much coffee and is addicted to Pinterest. Come join her there in her 18th Century world: Pinterest  


Saturday, July 16, 2016

New Book Release!

Karen Aminadra has announced her newest book release, The Suitable Bride! The eighth boo she has published in four years.

The Suitable Bride is book 2 in The Emberton Brothers series and is a clean Regency romance novel.

In the first novel, we followed the story of Richard, the eldest of the three brothers. In this book, we follow Edward the middle one.

Edward is the driven one out of the three. He has spent years working hard at achieving his dream. He’s a politician and dreams of being Prime Minister of Britain one day. He knows the advantages there are to be had in marrying and is eager to find a bride from amongst the set who will help advance his career.

Frances Davenport is the daughter of a lord. She is privileged and has led a life that has had its ups and downs…literally speaking. She’s a little naughty. She doesn’t believe there is one single man out there who can please her as a husband and is resigned to that fact. Until she meets Edward, that is…

THE SUITABLE BRIDE!



Edward Emberton wants to be Prime Minister. He has a passionate vision for the future of England, which includes the abolition of slavery. As the son of a tradesman, his journey to Parliament has been a difficult one, but there is only one thing left to cement this foothold on the steps to Parliament – a suitable bride. She must be of noble birth, reasonable intelligence, mild temperament, and extraordinary beauty.
Frances Davenport is most of those things. And a suitable marriage to Edward isn’t only the answer to her prayers; it’s a way to keep her secrets. Edward is handsome, driven, and better still, enchanted by her beauty. It’s more than a suitable match; it couldn’t be more perfect.

But appearances are often deceiving, and Frances’ beguiling beauty comes with its own set of problems. Edward and Frances are about to discover that there’s more to marriage than suitability because neither is as suitable as they seem…

AMAZON LINK – http://amzn.to/29yA0FP

Author Bio:



Karen is a multi-genre author who writes novels within many different genres; Historical Romance, Historical Crime, and modern Chick-Lit.

She can usually be found sat at the computer either writing a novel, writing down new ideas or on social media chatting!

Her love of reading, writing short stories, and her childhood imaginary world led quite naturally to writing novels. Encouraged to read by her bookworm father and grandmother and by winning a writing competition in just her first year of secondary school, she was spurred on, and she has been writing stories ever since. Her love of mystery and plot twists that she put into that first story continues today.

She has travelled to and lived in many countries, not just in her imagination, and has gained an insight into people’s characters that shines through in her work. Today, with her feet firmly back in the United Kingdom, she travels the world, the universe and in time through her imagination and her novels.

She is now the author of eight novels;

Charlotte – Pride & Prejudice Continues,
Rosings – Pride & Prejudice Continues book 2
Relative Deceit – Death in the Family,
The Uncanny Life of Polly,
It’s a Man’s World – Lettie Jenkins Investigates,
Wickham – Pride & Prejudice Continues book 3,
The Spice Bride – The Emberton Brothers Series book 1.
The Suitable Bride – The Emberton Brothers Series book 2.
In 2012 she received a B.R.A.GMedallion ™ for her debut novel Charlotte – Pride & Prejudice Continues.
In 2013 she was once again honoured with a B.R.A.GMedallion ™ for Rosings – Pride & Prejudice Continues book 2.
In 2016 she received another prized B.R.A.GMedallion™ for Wickham -Pride & Prejudice Continues book 3.
For more information and to download a free book visit  www.karenaminadra.com




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Interview with M.J. Neary

I’d like to welcome, Marina Julia Neary to Layered Pages today. A self-centered, only child of classical musicians, Marina spent her early years in Eastern Europe and came to the US at the age of thirteen. Her literary career revolves around depicting military and social disasters, from the Charge of the Light Brigade, to the Irish Famine, to the Easter Rising in Dublin, to the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl some thirty miles away from her home town. Notorious for her abrasive personality and politically incorrect views that make her a persona non grata in most polite circles, Neary explores human suffering through the prism of dark humor, believing that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

Her debut thriller Wynfield's Kingdom was featured on the cover of the First Edition Magazine in the UK and earned the praise of the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. After writing a series of novels dealing with the Anglo-Irish conflict, she takes a break from the slums of London and the gunpowder-filled streets of Dublin to delve into the picturesque radioactive swamps of her native Belarus. Saved by the Bang: a Nuclear Comedy is a deliciously offensive autobiographical satire featuring sex scandals of Eastern Europe's artistic elite in the face of political upheavals. Her latest Penmore release, The Gate of Dawn is a folkloric tale of conspiracy and revenge set in czarist Lithuania.

Tell me about your premise. 

Saved by the Bang is an autobiographical satire and certainly a change of pace for me. I gained moderate notoriety as an Anglo-Irish historical novelist.  Even though I don't have an Irish or English strain of DNA in me, I have been writing about the Anglo-Irish conflict. My readers have been nagging me to write something autobiographical, so I gave them what they wanted. Don't tell me I didn't warn you! As one of the readers mentioned, this book is "not for the faint of heart".

Describe Gomel, Belarus.

Gomel is a waterfront Central European city founded by at the end of the first millennium AD by Radimich tribes - East Slavic people notorious for their flashy jewelry. Gomel took a beating during WWII - like most of Belarus. Much of the original architecture was obliterated, and the city had to be rebuilt from scratch. Among the surviving landmarks is the Paskevich Palace and a gorgeous Orthodox Church. The city is very green in the summer and very white in the winter. All four seasons are clearly fleshed out.


The city mascot is a bobcat. It's on the city crest! 



 The Paskevich family palace


The river front park


The music academy where the illicit affair develops

A coveted housing development

Gomel also was affected heavily by the Chernobyl disaster.

Most of the events described in the novel take place in Gomel, but some take place in other cities like Minsk (capital of Belarus) Smolensk (Russia), Gurzuf (a resort in the Crimea), Vilnius (capital of Lithuania) and New Canaan, Connecticut.

What is the mood that Maryana conveys and how does this affect the story? 

Throughout the novel, Maryana is portrayed as a victim who does not really behave like one. In a way, she is a magnet for hostility and she derives sick pleasure out of it. Maryana was the name my father wanted to give me, but my mom had a fit. She thought it sounded to quaint and folksy. When you hear "Maryana" you think of an anthropology major who wears a long skirt with tennis shoes and writes a thesis on the matriarchy within pagan Slavic tribes. My mother opted for a more cosmopolitan Marina. When you think of Marina, you see a multilingual interpreter prancing around in patent leather pumps. Maryana conveys the sentiment of self-mockery. I don't know how else to describe it. The girl revels in her suffering and gets inspiration and sick pleasure in it. She is a professional victim. 


How do you/or talk about how you flesh out the moment of greatest sorrow in Maryana? 

Given that the girl is a professional victim, she makes most of every opportunity to be miserable. She's a magnet for antagonism. As a writer, I find that understatement is a powerful tool. I try to avoid hand-writing and wailing and keep the diction matter-of-factly, not sensational or melodramatic. In one of the scenes Maryana gets kicked off the gymnastics team for developing a crush on a female teammate. She gets a hearty beating at the park for her dual transgression: being Jewish and a lesbian.

Describe a humorous scene in your story. 

I realize that not everyone shares my sense of humor, but I believe that humor and tragedy go hand in hand. It has to be obscene, and awkward.  In Saved by the Bang there is a scene where Maryana is her older cousin are on their way to Vilnius to sell their grandmother's famous cranberry-and-vodka marmalade. They are both heavily made up and decked out in finest Polish denim. They get pulled over by the cops, who assume that the two girls are child prostitutes taken to the city. Maryana's alcoholic uncle Alexander spends some time explaining to the law enforcers that the girls are not being sexually exploited, they were just experimenting with cosmetics.





What is the Crimean Sanatoriums? 


Oh, so glad you asked. The Crimean Peninsula was a sought-after vacation site for the Soviet hot-shots. Most people could not afford to travel there and stay on their own dime. If you kissed the right behind, or if you were in a position of influence yourself, you could get a travel voucher - a room at a resort, a beach sticker and a basic meal plan. One of the most enchanting places was Gurzuf, a Tartar village where Asiatic, Slavic and Greek folklore combined. In Gurzuf there was a military sanatorium. It was utilized by military officers. During the 1980s, while the USSR was engaged in a conflict with Afghanistan, there was an influx of wounded soldiers who came there to recover. My main character, Antonia, strikes a brief platonic romance with one of such soldiers. 


Crimean sanatoriums


This is the Goddess of the Night fountain. Thousands of couples have kissed in front of that fountain. It's like Juliet's balcony in Verona. It has the same romantic connotation. 



What are the different emotions you had while writing this story? 

Revenge, revulsion and sick amusement. You have to realize, I have very mixed feelings towards my country of origin and my former compatriots. There is no warm and fuzzy nostalgia. There's a fair amount of anger that I'm still trying to work through. I turn that anger into humor.

Any conspiracies in this story?

There is no conspiracy per se, but there's plenty of corruption. The extent of damage was covered up by the authorities. The deformed children born as result of the radiation leakage were swept under the rug. I wanted to share a few pictures from my home town. I took American and British journalists to expose the full extent of the damage. So as you can see, the tragic and the mundane exist side by side. You have a gorgeous historical park with flower beds, and just a few miles away, inside a clinic, you have children with severe birth defects and radiation-related cancer. I want my readers to see these images.






Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: A Death Along the River Fleet (Lucy Campion Mysteries #4) by Susanna Calkins

Lucy Campion, a ladies’ maid turned printer’s apprentice in 17th-century London, is crossing Holborn Bridge over the vilest portion of the River Fleet one morning when she encounters a distraught young woman, barely able to speak and clad only in a blood-spattered nightdress. The woman has no memory of who she is or what’s happened to her, and the townspeople believe she’s posessed. But Lucy is concerned for the woman’s well-being and takes her to a physician. When, shockingly, the woman is identified as the daughter of a nobleman, Lucy is asked to temporarily give up her bookselling duties to discreetly serve as the woman’s companion while she remains under the physician’s care. As the woman slowly recovers, she begins-with Lucy’s help-to reconstruct the terrible events that led her to Holborn Bridge that morning. But when it becomes clear the woman’s safety might still be at risk, Lucy becomes unwillingly privy to a plot with far-reaching social implications, and she’ll have to decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the young woman in her care.

My thoughts:

A Death Along the River Fleet is the first book I have read by Susanna Calkins and probably the first historical fiction book I have read that takes place soon after the great London fire. The title of the book, the cover and the premise really drew me in. I was completely absorbed in the story from the very beginning.

I’d have to say that Lucy Campion is now one of my favorite female heroines. She is strong, intelligent, wise even. I love her process of thought and her desire to help people. The fact that she works as a printer’s apprentice helps a great deal too! Also, how the people around her respond to her is fascinating. Really strong character development here.

There are solid historical aspects to this story and I was thrilled with the intrigue! How the story unfolded and how the clues were stacking up was brilliant! This is about the best mystery story I have read in a long time. I really can’t say enough great things about this book. I highly recommend it. Now I will be sure to go back and read the other three books that came before this one!
Rated: Five Stars!

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

This review was previously published on my wordpress.


Stephanie M. Hopkins

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I’ve Got My Eye On You!

I have been over the moon about the titles I have been spotting lately. Who am I kidding, I’m always over the moon when it comes to books. One of my greatest frustrations as an avid reader is finding more time in the day to read. I know many of you can relate. So why am I tempting you all with great looking book?! Because I can’t help myself and I am so excited about theses, I had to share!

Here are just a few of the books I have an eye on hundreds! Maybe thousands. But who’s counting? All these titles are available to purchase on Amazon.  I hope you enjoy!

London, 1885. Three years before the Whitechapel killings, London is a city of fog and darkness. A severed head is dredged from the Thames; ten miles away, a woman's body is discovered on Edgeware Road. The famed American detective William Pinkerton is summoned by Scotland Yard to investigate. The dead woman fits the description of a grifter Pinkerton had been pursuing for a long time--someone he believed would lead him to a man he has been hunting since his father's death.
Edward Shade is an industrialist without a past, a fabled con, a thief of other men's futures--he seems a ghost, a man of smoke. The obsessive hunt for him that began in the last days of the Civil War becomes Pinkerton's inheritance. What follows is an epic journey of secrets, deceit, and betrayals. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Shade, the one criminal he cannot outwit.

Steven Price's By Gaslight is a riveting, atmospheric portrait of a man on the brink. Moving from the diamond mines of South Africa to the fog-enshrouded streets of Victorian London, the novel is a journey into a cityscape of grief, trust, and its breaking, where what we share can bind us even against our better selves.

In the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein's enormous shadow. tTis is the story of Einstein's wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.

Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.

After her father dies, March Middleton has to move to London to live with her guardian, Sidney Grice, the country’s most famous private detective.

It is 1882 and London is at its murkiest yet most vibrant, wealthiest yet most poverty-stricken. No sooner does March arrive than a case presents itself: a young woman has been brutally murdered, and her husband is the only suspect. The victim’s mother is convinced of her son-in-law’s innocence, and March is so touched by her pleas she offers to cover Sidney’s fee herself.

The investigations lead the pair to the darkest alleys of the East End: every twist leads Sidney Grice to think his client is guilty; but March is convinced that he is innocent. Around them London reeks with the stench of poverty and gossip, the case threatens to boil over into civil unrest and Sidney Grice finds his reputation is not the only thing in mortal danger.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king--Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers...

Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.









Be sure to check out my wish-list 5 on Layered Pages this month by clicking here

INTERESTED IN MORE WISHLISTS?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Magdalena at It's a Mad Mad World
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Colleen at A Literary Vacation (coming the 27th)
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired (coming the 27th)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Spotlight! Death by Times New Roman by Douglas B. Carlyle




Eighteen Books…Eighteen Towns…Eighteen Murders!

FBI Special Agent Cat Kavanagh is trailing a vicious killer who stabbed each of his victims. It is more than coincidental that every time author Bradley R. Woodbury publishes another best-selling novel, police find a woman dead, always in the same quiet town the author had chosen as the setting for his book.

A decorated former Army Captain, Kavanagh is tough, cunning, and beautiful. Now, she is the bait for Woodbury’s final novel. Will she find the killer before she, too, suffers Death by Times New Roman?



Friday, April 22, 2016

Science Fiction: On my Radar



Recently I have been getting into Science Fiction and I have really enjoyed the genre and what it has to offer. As many of my friends know I am really big on strong character development and a solid plot. In the past sometimes I felt that the science fiction books focused more on the societies and their social implications. Or at least the ones I read did. Which I feel is important but I felt the characters were flat with no depth. It did not make the story real to me. Character development will make or break a story. With those frustrations and feelings, I put the genre aside. Until now. I had a couple of science fiction stories offered to me to take a look at and I was impressed. I won’t mention those titles until later on. I want to really expand my thoughts on those stories before I share.

Meanwhile indiebrag has a quality selection of science fiction that I want to take a look at. Below are three that I have added to my reading pile. I hope you take the time to check these books out and explore what indiebrag has to offer.

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree: Aegis Rising by S.S. Segran

Over a remote northern forest, a small plane carrying five teenage friends’ flies into a freak storm. Struck by lightning, the aircraft crashes and the passengers find themselves cast into a life-changing adventure.

In a hidden valley, a mysterious people gaze at the stormy sky as a glowing object with fiery wings disappears behind a mountain ridge. The astonishing sight reignites an ancient prophecy foretelling the arrival of five chosen ones destined to become bearers of light against a dark storm gathering on humanity’s horizon.

In a distant city, a secretive organization led by a shadowy figure initiates a sequence of cataclysmic events designed to wreak havoc across the planet, beginning with a remote mining site in northern Canada.

As the three worlds collide, unlikely heroes arise. Armed with powers entrusted to them by the ancient prophecy and the resilience of their life-long bond, the five teens take a stand against a malevolent foe.
Author’s non-profit for youth empowerment click here


B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree: Nine Meals by Mike Kilroy

When the sun belched and the power grid failed, it was only nine meals until the end of the world. Billy “Shep” Shepard always thought the apocalypse would come from an asteroid with a funny name, or a super bug, or a nuclear war, or even Yellowstone blowing its top. It came from none of those things. Instead it came from an angry sun in the form of the biggest Coronal Mass Ejection mankind had ever seen – and it slapped the human race back a century. In these grim times, people kill for food, water and weapons. They scratch out a feeble existence after “The Ejection.” But not Shep. His biggest question each day in his underground bunker is “Cheese Ravioli, Beefaroni or SpaghettiOs?” Shep soon discovers that nothing in this new world is guaranteed. He and Antigone, a girl he rescues, are forced to take a perilous journey across an unyielding landscape toward the one place rumored to be unsullied by the disaster. Along the way they must overcome hunger, disease, desperation and death while running from a man who wants nothing more than vengeance.

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree: Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge
by Heidi Skarie

Undercover operative Toemeka Ganti, code-named Star Rider, lives on the edge.

Her latest mission is to overthrow the despot of Jaipar, General Bhandar. His protection comes from sorcerer Samrat Condor, an interplanetary conqueror whose space fleet destroyed Toemeka’s home planet and killed her family years ago. And Condor isn’t about to lose his stranglehold on Jaipar.

Making matters worse, Toemeka must preserve her cover while secretly developing an oscillator, a shield-destroying device wanted by both sides. All this must be accomplished under the watchful eye of her boss, Commander Rochambeau, who is pressuring Toemeka to become his mistress.


Accompanied by her Coalition team and trusted partner Erling Fenian, Toemeka bands with the local underground resistance and Michio Kimes, a handsome spiritual warrior trained to fight sorcery. Together they must battle to free the people of Jaipar and restore its rightful heir to power.

For more great selection of B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Science Fiction click here