Saturday, February 6, 2016

Layered Pages News

This week on my main website, I talked about how authors need to support book bloggers and I think you will find it mighty interesting. Please stop by and take a look and if you like what I have to say, please show your support in sharing the post.

There are several other great posts on there as well this week. Next week I won’t be doing a lot of blogging so be sure to stay tuned for further posts in the near future.

Other places you will find me: @Layeredpages on Twitter and Facebook.

Many Thanks,

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis

In a world torn apart by economic collapse, Natalie and her husband Richard establish an island of relative safety on a communal farm. Death—by starvation, raiders, and sickness—stalks them daily, and their survival hinges on working together for the common good. But in a lawless land with no shortage of suffering, good is a malleable concept.

As the constant grind of survival and the frictions of farm politics expose the rifts in Natalie and Richard’s marriage, Natalie finds herself seeking refuge in the company of Richard’s twin, Daniel, a solitary man with little interest in politics.

In the face of ongoing external threats and simmering internal divisions, Natalie, Richard, and Daniel must each map the boundaries of their own loyalties and morality. In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation is a story of adventure, politics, and love in a brave new world where the rules have both changed, and stayed the same.

My thoughts:

I generally do not read apocalyptic stories. In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation captured my attention immediately. I’m pretty sure it was the cover art and then as I read the book description, I was fascinated with the concept of establishing life on a communal farm.

What makes this book believable is the economic collapse that happens in this story. It is all to real that food, gas and water could be sparse and lawlessness of nations could take place.

The story starts a bit slow but you could feel the tension growing. The shifting conflicts between the scenes was overwhelming at times but gave a clear picture of the hardships the people endured and their struggle for survival. Their inner strengths and even the smallest choices they made could have the biggest impact on their lives and everyone around them.

Natalie and Richard’s relationship was interesting to read about. They are married and opened their farm to establish a safe haven-if you will.

Richard is a politician, a typical one at that. Before the doom he would scoff at Natalie’s predictions and felt she worries too much. Well, when her predictions become reality, he takes the opportunity to take advantage of the situation and for the most part, for his own power and gain. He drips in total narcissism.

Natalie is pragmatic and has an admirable inner strength and Richard knows this and needs these qualities for a partner. I really liked the characterization of these two the most. Though at times I wanted to throttle both of them. For different reasons-of course.  I think you will be interested in how their relationship turns out.

The author did a splendid job on in the exploration of humanity under these dire and abnormal conflicts. She shows us consequences and reactions the characters make in an extreme environment. Nicely done and I look forward to more stories by this author.

I have rated this book four stars.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You may also find this review at my WordPress, my main website.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

It's All In A Day Of Reading

Check out my new galley reads because, you know, it's not like I have enough to read already! But I can't help myself

Pub Date: March 17, 2016

It's 1956 and fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent has never left the Cornish fishing village of St Steele or ventured far beyond the walls of the boarding house run by her erratic mother. But when the London press pack descends to report on a series of gruesome murders of young women, Betty's world changes. In particular, she is transfixed by mysterious and aloof reporter, Mr. Gallagher.

As the death toll rises, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Betty and Gallagher. But as their bond deepens, they find themselves entangled with the murders and each is forced to make a devastating choice, one that will shape their own lives - and the life of an innocent man - forever.

What if everything you knew was a lie… This house has a past that won’t stay hidden, and it is time for the dead to speak.

Pub Date: Feb 18, 2016

Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.

For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out.

Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried.

From the bestselling author of The Lost Child don’t miss The Silent Girls

An unforgettable and addictive story, perfect for fans of Lesley Thomson, Diane Chamberlain and Tracy Buchanan.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

In the spring of 1939, the drums of war beat throughout Europe, but nowhere more ferociously than in Berlin. The film studio where Clara Vine works is churning out movies, but each day that she stays in Germany is more dangerous than the last. Spying on the private life of the Third Reich, passing secrets to contacts in British intelligence, falling into a passionate affair—any of these risky moves could get Clara shot. So she is wholly shaken when someone close to her is murdered instead. The victim is Lottie Franke, an aspiring costume designer and student at the prestigious Faith and Beauty finishing school that trains young women to become the wives of the Nazi elite. While the press considers Lottie's death in the Grunewald forest the act of a lone madman, Clara uncovers deeper threads, tangled lines that seem to reach into the darkest depths of the Reich—and to a precious discovery that Hitler and his ruthless cohorts would kill for.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Wulfsuna by E.S. Moxon

E.S Moxon, kindly sent me her book, Wolfsuna, along with a beautifully written letter. Which I will cherish always. She is such a lovely and caring lady. I look forward to reading her book and going back to AD433! One can do that when one reads!


Torn apart when Rome abandoned Bryton, the Wulfsuna are a disparate tribe. Twenty years on, two long ships sail for the east fens to honour their Warrior-Lord's dream and reunite with lost kin. Soon after landing however, a murderous betrayal divides loyalties, some craving revenge and others indignant on pursuing their Lord's dream. Blood and brotherhood are tested to their deadly limits.

The discovery of a young Seer adds to the turmoil. Expelled from her village after foretelling of an attack by blue painted savages, the Wulfsuna are equally wary of the one they call 'Nix'. None fear her more than Lord Wulfgar, who refuses to believe an ancient saga bearing his name, is weaving the Seer's destiny into his own. But a treacherous rival threatens their fate and Wulfgar must accept the Seer's magic may be all that can save them.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Recap of Great Reading 1/25-1/28

Another busy week at Layered Pages! As you know by now, not only do I post at this location, I post at WordPress as well. As always, I would be delighted if you stopped by there and took a look.

As you can see, lots of great posts and exciting mentions of people and books!

Have a great weekend!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Conversation with Author Stuart S. Laing

I’d like to welcome Stuart S. Laing to talk with me about his latest, “Writing in Progress.” Stuart is one of my favourite people and he is one heck of a writer. We met on social media a few years ago and he has also been a tremendous help in my own writing and the advice he has been giving me over the years has been priceless.

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie. He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spent most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him. Despite the vast panorama of Scotland's history, he always finds himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters. He would urge all visitors to Scotland's ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.

Stuart, I am so delighted to hear your latest WIP is going well. Can you tell us a little about some of the dangers your readers can expect in this story?

Thank you Stephanie. Congratulations to you on the new look for Layered Pages. You really doing a tremendous job. Sites such as yours are absolutely vital for all indie-authors if they wish to reach a wider audience, and I truly appreciate all the help you have given me over the last couple of years. You are the best!
Now, as for the book…

A band of Tinkers (Scottish Gypsies) have set up camp on the shores of the Nor’loch, Edinburgh’s famous Princes Street Gardens these days but then an open body of water which served as the city’s northern defence.

These people are seeking only to eke out a simple living by selling their wares, tin-smithing, knick-knacks, odds and ends etcetera to the townsfolk. Among their number is a beautiful young woman, Libby Oliver, who all agree is the finest musician anyone has ever heard. Her fiddle playing could have a dying man jump up from his deathbed and start jigging!

Unfortunately for Libby, she is being used as a pawn to defraud a woman, who she wishes with all her heart to call a friend. She is being forced, through threats and violence, by a vicious brute who is determined to exploit her friendship with Alice Galbraith for his own ends.

He knows something about Libby which could destroy her life if he was to reveal it. Not a nice man!

Meanwhile a shadowy group of city gentlemen are plotting this man’s demise as he holds a dark secret over them relating to a secret they share from their youth. They are stirring up ignorant prejudices against the Tinkers to create an atmosphere of hatred and distrust that will allow them to cause mayhem.

Are there any murders or untimely deaths?

There will be at least one murder, the victim is someone few folks will shed many tears over though! However, his death is going to place poor Libby in the spotlight as the most likely suspect for the death.

This is the point that Robert Young of Newbiggin would swing into action to unmask the true murderer and save her from the noose. Unfortunately, he is confined to bed with inflammation of the lungs and can do nothing to help.

It falls to his wife Euphemia, aided and abetted by Alice Galbraith, to do the investigating using their own contacts (servants, gossips and friends) from the ranks of the upper class. They are convinced of Libby’s innocence but don’t know the girl has dark secrets of her own which she has to keep from them. She may not be the simple Tinker’s Daughter she portrays!

Are there any tea houses in your story, or just pubs?

There are a couple of coffee-houses which feature. Bunty’s is a regular haunt for morning meetings between Euphemia and her friends, while Mr. Mackenzie’s coffee-house on the Lawnmarket is just a couple of doors from her bookshop. It is a useful place to send Robert and Euphemia’s adopted daughter, Effie, to, whenever they have something private to discuss.

Bunty is famous for her tea, coffee and cakes. I’d actually go there myself for elevenses if I could travel back in time.

Robert is more likely to be found in an alehouse or tavern. He will tell you that this is purely work-related though, as it were he is likely to find his informants! Euphemia isn’t certain that is the only reason, and neither am I.

What is a typical day for your main character?

For Robert it depends on whether he has been engaged to solve a crime and clear the name of someone able to pay his fee. When on an investigation his day consists of searching for clues and information using his contacts and own nose to follow a lead. At other times he has to turn his attention to his real work, as his father would describe it, which is helping to run that man’s business empire of mills, mines and textile manufactories centred on the family home of Newbiggin in East Lothian.

For Euphemia, when she is not being driven to distraction by Robert being a typical man with a sniffle, whining for endless cups of tea and sympathy, she is busy looking after two small children under the age of five with Effie’s assistance. Planning literacy lessons for the women and girls of Kitty’s house of gentlemanly pursuits (gambling and ladies of negotiable affection) which she fell into by accident. These lessons take place every Sunday afternoon after church. She loves teaching these women and girls to read and write and led to her close friendship with Alice Galbraith.

How do you keep all your conflicts straight? Which is a lot!

Plotting! Lots of plotting! I work to a basic skeleton which the story is built upon. Having so many regular characters helps enormously as I can trust them to simply be themselves most of the time. Having said that, they will still insist on surprising me by doing something out of the blue and then give me just a shrug when I say “what was that?”

The other help is knowing where the story is going before I write the first word. I know who the victim will be, who the killer will be, and, just as importantly, I know what will be happening in the background with several minor plots which can roll along for one book or, as in the case of Estelle Cannonby and her estranged mother, several.

How much time have you spent working on this story so far?

I have written just a whisker over 50k words so far with this story in 9 separate bouts of writing. Each is normally 5 or 6 hours of doing nothing but write. No TV, no internet, no saying “I’ll just take five minutes to research this” (that always turns into a couple of hours of looking at videos of cats or puppies on facebook!)

The only distraction I allow myself is background music which has to fit the mood of the book. With this one it is a soundtrack of ‘New-Folk’ music that really sets the tone in my head for the words to flow. Artists such as Birdy, Gabrielle Aplin, London Grammar. Beautiful voices, haunting music and lyrics that just warm your soul.

Oh, and endless cups of tea and coffee!

Have you designed your book cover yet?

I have a rough version worked out which may, or may not, be the finished article. I usually design the book cover using a specific scene from the book so that when people read it they can go, ‘oh, that is what the cover is!’

As a wee teaser, this cover may feature the Tinker’s camp in flames!

For those who have not read your mystery series yet, what can you tell them about it?

Set on the old cobblestones of Edinburgh in 1745 and onwards, they feature Robert Young. Son of a rich industrialist, he has discovered a talent for solving mysteries and having the bravery to venture down into the murky underbelly of the city where few others of his class would even dream of going. He has created an eclectic mixture of informants, friends and allies from these dank streets who can, usually, be relied on to delve even deeper into the mire than even he is daft enough to go himself!

Just as important a figure is his wife, Euphemia. She is the bedrock that all he does is built on. She is the calm head who can be relied upon to give sound advice and who isn’t afraid, when it is needed, to step in herself and lend a hand to solve a crime.
As Robert himself ponders, ‘what would it be like to have an obedient wife? Probably dull!’

Alongside the mysteries are tales of everyday life for the great and good, and also the equally important lives of the poor and downtrodden who demand equal billing!
Add to that the ups and downs of married life for Robert and Euphemia and I hope the reader will find themselves transported back to the rich, reeking, mess of a city where 70,000 people live cheek by jowl in a town squeezed within its ancient walls.

Where can readers purchase your stories?

Readers in the US can find the Robert Young of Newbiggin mysteries here in both ebook and paperback

In the UK, please visit

Finally, may I, just once more, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do, not only for me, but for the countless other authors you have encouraged and supported over the years. Without your help we would struggle to reach as many new readers.

Thank you, Stuart for such a wonderful chat about your latest book and a bit about what you write. It is always an honour and delight to be able to chat with my favourite writers and support their endeavours.

You may check out another interview I have had with Stuart here

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Rage To Live by Joseph Krygier

Over at my WordPress, I had an interview with B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree Author Joseph Krygier back in August of 2014. His book begins with an introduction to the historical nature of the Holocaust and Genocide. A powerful read and he gives a wonderful interview about his story here

Stephanie M. Hopkins 
indieBRAG Team Member 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Announcing the indieBRAG: Colors of Spring Blog Hop!

indieBRAG is coordinating Colors of Spring Blog Hop for our B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees who write children’s book. This event begins on March 14th-23rd and offers creative and fun Spring post ideas for the authors to choose from. For more information about this event, contact Stephanie at

Please respond ASAP. Spots are limited and will fill us fast. We look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you!