Tag Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Blog Tour & Author Guest Post with Ali McNamara of From Notting Hill with Love…Actually

“Scarlett O’Brien, utterly addicted to romantic films, has found her leading man. She’s convinced Sean is Mr Right, but the day-to-day reality of a relationship isn’t quite like the movies. With Sean constantly away on business, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to head to New York for the holiday of a lifetime. From one famous landmark to the next, Scarlett and Oscar make many new friends during their adventure – including sailors in town for Fleet Week, a famous film star, and Jamie & Max, a TV reporter and cameraman. Scarlett finds herself strangely drawn to Jamie, they appear to have much in common: a love of films and Jamie’s search for a parent he never knew. But Scarlett has to ask herself why she is reacting like this to another man when she’s so in love with Sean . . “

I know I am not the only lover of British romantic comedies out there and even more so a lover of the books that these films often issue forth from. For instance take one of my absolute favorite films Bridget Jone’s Diary which of course was based upon the novel of the same name written by the fabulously clever Helen Fielding and stars my own personal vision of Mr. Darcy personified: the Colin Firth. It was from Jane Austen herself that Ms. Fielding found her inspiration in the ultimate classic Pride and Prejudice which just may be perhaps the very first and most beloved romantic comedy of all.

As soon as I saw the title to this book I knew I not only wanted to read it and be a part of the blog tour but I also had to know a little bit more about Ms. McNamara’s inspiration. The two films mentioned in the title are two of the most well known and loved contemporary British romantic comedies of modern times in my opinion..but what lay behind the films for this writer personally and ultimately led to the inspiration to put pen to paper? Well, who better to ask than the author herself….so without further ado:

Where did and do  your literary inspirations usually derive from Ms. McNamara?

Guest Post by Author Ali McNamara

“My inspirations come from all over. I got the idea for From Notting Hill with Love…Actually when I was watching one of the music channels on TV one day.  It was a countdown of the Top 50 best movie songs of all time. I just thought wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could feature as many of those movies as possible in one story, and the idea began to develop from there.

The idea for my second novel Breakfast at Darcy’s came when I was on a touring holiday of Ireland. My husband and myself were parked in our car one day overlooking the island of Great Blasket in County Kerry. We began to talk about how you would go about living on an island such as that, and how easy or difficult it would be. My initial spark of an idea began to turn into a plot for a fully formed novel, when we later went over and visited the island.

 My characters usually come from my own imagination, but my latest book, out in the UK in November, has a couple of characters that are based on real people I met when I was in New York doing research. Luckily they both agreed, and are quite happy about me basing two characters on them, I haven’t had to pretend or try to conceal anything!

 But I’m always thinking and never find myself stuck for inspiration, and even thought I’m currently writing my fourth book at the moment, I currently have ideas for at least 2-3 more books after that!”

~ Ali McNamara

 Thanks so much to the very stylish Ali McNamara for stopping by Stiletto Storytime today and sharing her novel that has just recently hopped over the pond to us lucky Americans. If you enjoy a good romantic comedy…especially one of British origins, then From Notting Hill with Love…Actually is perfect for you. And if we’re lucky soon the sequel From Notting Hill to New York…Actually which releases this November in Britain will also make it’s way over as well. Another of Ali’s books Breakfast at Darcy’s can be gotten through UK means as well if you become hooked…and that’s a very real possibility.

So in the spirit of the celebration of romantic comedies of both the film and literary type…what’s your favorite? Personally I will have to admit to being a “You’ve Got Mail” girl all the way. I watch it all the time and especially when I am feeling under the weather. It’s got everything…a cute, quirky heroine, a bookstore, Jane Austen references and the all important bad guy love interest turned Mr. Right. So which one is your favorite and why? I would love know…more to add to both my reading and viewing list. So enjoy and Happy Reading to All.

3 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, Author Interviews & Posts, Blog Tour, Girly Books, Jane Austen, New Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

    “For fans of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It comes an irresistible novel of a woman losing herself . . . and finding herself again . . . in the middle of her life.

 When Alice Buckle, who has been married to William for nearly twenty years, receives a survey in her e-mail from the Netherfield Center for the Study of Marital Happiness, she is in the doldrums. She loves her husband but they’ve grown distant, she is bored with her job, and her adolescent children need her less now. And she has reached the age at which her mother died. So as she idly begins answering the questions, she finds herself baring her soul in an anonymous survey she never even intended to respond to. As she struggles, she realizes it has been years since anyone asked deep, serious questions of her, and really listened to her answers. Soon her entire life as she knows it is called into question.”

Stiletto Storytime is excited to be a part of the book blog tour for Wife 22 by Melanie GideonWife 22 is a great read for those who like to curl up with a good book that’s not afraid to ask those tough life questions or push the boundaries of what can sometimes be considered “safe” contemporary women’s fiction. While it delves into some serious life issues I still think it would an ideal book for the beach or pool-side. It’s definitely a book I found I could relate to even though I may not be at that age or moment in life that Alice Buckle finds herself.

The very book itself is centered around the main character of a middle aged woman who finds herself deeply questioning her place in life, the choices she has made as time has gone by and the current state of her own happiness. It’s about that point in life that I think a lot of people reach when one might look around and suddenly wonder how you got to where you are. For women in particular I think it can be what happens when you’ve poured every bit your very being into everyday life (marriage, children, career…etc) and then suddenly you look around one day and wonder where “you” went. More specifically for this character it centers around the declining state of her marriage and to some degree the changing relationships with her children as they have grown. Those moments in life can come about in lots of ways but for Alice Buckle it all seems to begin when she proceeds to answer questions put forth by an online anonymous marriage survey.

The survey is really a driving force for this novel. One of my personal favorite aspects of the book is the unique format in which it is written. Alice Buckle finds herself answering questions in this survey and the reader is given the answers to the questions as the book proceeds. Each chapter brings new answers and topics to light. However readers are not the given actual questions themselves until the end. I myself didn’t even realize the survey questions were in the book at all until I finished and discovered them listed in the very back of the book. I’m glad I didn’t look ahead and see them or even know I had the possibility to cheat. Reading the answers and not knowing the questions makes the reader really have to look into each answer and truly think about what Alice is saying and why. It gives a unique twist to the book and made the writing more interesting in my opinion. For me it piqued my interest in a unique way that just would not have been the same if I knew the questions as I was reading.

As a special part of this tour I am going answer one of the questions from the book and also allow you a sneak peek at the author Melanie’s answer as well. Our survey question for this stop on the tour is:

What did you imagine falling in love would be like when you were young?

Melanie’s answer:
Oh my goodness, I was such a dewy-eyed romantic. Romeo and Juliet kind of love. Obsessive love. Not the kind of love that makes for a good marriage. I’m glad I got over that phase.

My Answer:

I was much like Melanie. I was very naive in a lot of ways but I truly believed in that all-consuming, meant for each other love that was so real it could be your everything. Love to me was the most important thing in the world and so I often let that person be my everything.  I’ve been lucky to have had that kind of love in my life and while I treasure it and remember it fondly in many ways….Melanie is right, as you get older you find there are lots of kinds of love and some work better for marriage and the happily ever after than others.

And now back to my review. While I really enjoyed the book there were some facets of the novel that I found a little far fetched including the relationship that Alice embarks upon as she questions her marriage. I don’t want to spoil anything but readers will no doubt understand what relationship I mean shortly after beginning the novel. I also wish Alice’s relationships with her children and the death of her mother were further explored. They kind of lie on the surface of the book- making an impact but never really being brought to light fully.

In the end all in all I found it to be an enjoyable and thought provoking read although some of it’s elements don’t go that deep and could be better developed. To me it was a good book but it had the ingredients to be better if that makes sense. Sometimes you just want more but I think that can be a compliment to the book in and of itself. If it wasn’t well written and you didn’t care about the characters then you wouldn’t want more.

But don’t take my word for it….Want a sneak peek at Wife 22? You can read an excerpt here and make sure to check out the next stop on the blog tour on June 7th at Book Journey. You can also check out debut author Melanie Gideon on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

   Book Giveaway

 I am extremely excited to be able to give two lucky readers here at Stiletto Storytime their very own copies of Wife 22 to enjoy this summer. Giveaway will end midnight EST June 12, 2012 and is available to a US addresses only. The lucky winners will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter just comment below and share one of your favorite summer reads. It can be a new book from this year’s summer reading pile or that old stand-by that you read every summer when vacation time rolls around. I’m looking for those must read books to add to my summer list so let me know the one you can’t live without and you might win a new book to add to your collection.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower of Author Melanie Gideon on Twitter

“Like” Author Melanie Gideon on Facebook

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

28 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, New Books

Review & Giveaway: The Thirteen by Susie Moloney

       “Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing. The streets are clean, people keep their yards really nicely. It’s fairly pet friendly, though barking dogs are not welcomed. The crime rate is practically non-existent, unless you count the odd human sacrifice, dismemberment, animal attack, demon rape and blood atonement. When Paula Wittmore goes home to Haven Woods to care for a suddenly ailing mother, she brings her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She also brings the last chance for twelve of her mother’s closest frenemies, who like to keep their numbers at thirteen. And her daughter, young, innocent, is a worthy gift to the darkness.

A circle of friends will support you through bad times. A circle of witches can drag you through hell.”

If The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby had a literary love child it would result in something almost exactly like The ThirteenDark and yet exceedingly proper the novel has a special kind of allure that pulls readers into it’s twisted world of the pristine suburb of Haven Woods where perfection comes at a price. With unique characters that walk on both the light and the dark side, The Thirteen combines mystery, witchcraft and the always terrifying family relationship dynamic in a perfect blend of horror and normalcy. It’s a creepy work that keeps you reading and guessing long into the night and it might even encourage the use of a night light when you finally do decide to put it down. The perfect book for ladies who like a dash of evil mixed in with their contemporary dramas.

Some women will do anything for their dearest desires to come true and the women of Haven Woods are exceedingly ambitious. So pick up a copy and see just how far they will go to remain The Thirteen.

 Book Giveaway

 Thanks to the terrific folks at William Morrow, Stiletto Storytime has TWO fantastic copies of The Thirteen to give away to lucky readers. This double giveaway will end midnight EST April 25, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please. Winner will be contacted by e-mail.

To enter just comment below and share you favorite recent read. I’d love to know what books are currently sitting snug on your bedside table and which ones are forever in your hands.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower of Author Susie Moloney on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

24 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, New Books

Review: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n70/n352231.jpgThe small town of Southport, North Carolina is as quiet as they come. It’s the perfect place to relax for a weekend or just get away and that’s exactly what newcomer Katie has done. Young and attractive Katie tries not to draw attention to herself. Her new neighbors think her somewhat quiet, a bit withdrawn and always shy.  Often she seems to wither under questioning and even friendly exchanges seem to make her nervous but she’s a hard worker and seems nice enough.  When she lets down her guard Katie is really quite charming. However her guard is rarely down.

What happens when the person you love turns into a monster you fear? When the man who swore to protect you from the world becomes the one you need protection from? When you’re a fresh face in a small town southern hospitality makes it hard to remain a stranger for long and although she tries to avoid others Katie soon finds herself making friends such as her quirky neighbor Jo and perhaps even finding love with a local widower. Alex and his two young children are everything Katie has ever dreamed a marriage and family could be. Recovering from the loss of his wife Carly, Alex is a loyal man with strong values and a heart of gold. Entering their world she finds herself not only falling in love but also truly discovering who she is in a life without fear. But can she ever really breath easy when disaster for everyone near her could be just around the corner?

In a stunning novel about the dark side of love and marriage, Nicholas Sparks brings to life one of his most poignant characters and also one of his most sinister.  Detailing the horrors of domestic violence, Sparks creates a stunning novel full of surprises and edge of the seat suspense. Devotees of Sparks will find this new work a little darker than what they might expect while new readers will instantly be wrapped up in the saga of a woman searching for safety and love. While some think Sparks formulaic, there is no denying his stories after more often than not engrossing and rich with regional detail and emotional connections. Safe Haven is sure to be yet another Sparks’s bestseller but it also shows a darkness that many may find new to his writing. It’s a book that not only entertains but also informs and brings to light an all to real horror.

Check out Nicholas Sparks site to see a video about the release of Safe Haven & why people love his writing.

2 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, New Books, Southern Literature

Review: The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

http://blogs.winnefox.org/campbellsport_inside/good%20daughters%20maynard.jpg

“They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.

Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last of five girls born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife, she yearns to soar beyond the confines of the land that has been her family’s birthright for generations.

Dana Dickerson is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters who waste their lives on failed dreams, she longs for stability and rootedness.

Different in nearly every way, Ruth and Dana share a need to make sense of who they are and to find their places in a world in which neither has ever truly felt she belonged. They also share a love for Dana’s wild and beautiful older brother, Ray, who will leave an indelible mark on both their hearts.

Told in the alternating voices of Ruth and Dana, The Good Daughters follows these “birthday sisters” as they make their way from the 1950s to the present. Master storyteller Joyce Maynard chronicles the unlikely ways the two women’s lives parallel and intersect—from childhood and adolescence to first loves, first sex, marriage, and parenthood; from the deaths of parents to divorce, the loss of home, and the loss of a beloved partner—until past secrets and forgotten memories unexpectedly come to light, forcing them to reevaluate themselves and each other.

Moving from rural New Hampshire to a remote island in British Columbia to the ’70s Boston art-school scene, The Good Daughters is an unforgettable story about the ties of home and family, the devastating force of love, the healing power of forgiveness, and the desire to know who we are.”

Once again I have been entranced by the writing of Joyce Maynard. Awhile back I reviewed Labor Day and many people remarked upon how I found a book with such a stirring plot to be a “comfort book” and I cannot help but say it once again. There is something about the way that Maynard writes that draws me in and lulls me gently into a reading place of comfort and peace. I find myself writing down passage after passage in my book journal…chiding myself that I might as well just write down the whole book itself. Her stories unfold almost of their own accord naturally not as if planned or plotted. They are coaxed knowingly and lovingly along by her prose and I find the gentle rhythms soothing. Her tales are also incredibly well written and orchestrated. It’s as if you think you know where the twist or turn may lead but she still manages to surprise even the veteran reader in some way, shape or form. The Good Daughters is no exception to this rule. It is a must read and for myself one that I will absolutely be reading again. Maynard is becoming one of my go-to authors when I need a guaranteed good read and a “comfort book” as well.

A Few Favorite Passages

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, Contests, New Books

Review: Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund

http://www.literacy-council.org/images/sena-jeter-naslund.jpg

In a vastly different narrative than what readers have come to expect from best selling author Sena Jeter Naslund, Adam & Eve takes readers on an epic journey of extraterrestrial and religious proportions. Lucy Bergmann is a woman in love with her talented and romantic older husband Thom when he is tragically killed just moments before making an announcement that would change the world as we know it.  An announcement that would prove we are in fact not alone in the Universe.  Instead of sharing in this groundbreaking moment in his career as a renowned astrophysicist, Lucy is left a grieving widow with the only the sacred memories of her husband and a single disk drive that Thom placed around her neck for her solace. The disk drive is one of great importance since it contains all the data on his unshared explosive discovery.

Months later when called to the Middle East to participate in a conference in Thom’s honor, Lucy finds herself the chosen protector of a document that could repudiate all the former writings of organized religion itself.  Entrusted with its care, she is now a target for many who want not only this codex but the information she has carried around her neck for months as well. Undertaking a journey of great danger, Lucy finds herself no longer the supportive wife but the keeper of knowledge herself.

Extraterrestrials, religion and violence in the name of God all come together to form Adam & Eve. In a book unlike any other, Sena Jeter Naslund once again proves that she can master narratives of multiple styles and subjects, from futuristic to historical, science fiction to literary; Naslund is a master of contemporary fiction and a modern day treasure as an author of works of such distinction and specialization.  It is hard to think of another author whose works vary so drastically and yet the quality remains of such a level of mastery time and time again.

Above all each of her books invokes beautiful writing, an engaging and almost enchanting narrative and a message for readers. In this way Adam & Eve is no different as Naslund successfully communicates that violence is never the answer, no matter the religion or the message at stake. Violence only creates violence and never can be absolved even by the God in whose name it is so often undertaken.  The work is multi-layered and sometimes hard to follow but for the reader who is willing to take the time and patience it commands, it is worth it all.

Some readers and even fans of the author may find it too much for their Saturday afternoon browsing but true fans will get lost and find themselves re-reading in order to find each gem within its pages.  Research and the occasional re-read aside, this work is worth the challenge and even better for presenting more than your run of the mill story. While the puzzle pieces may be hard to put together at times, they do fit and the reader that does connect them will feel a deep sense of satisfaction and enlightenment at doing so.  Adam & Eve is a commanding text that will educate and enthrall but not to be taken on as light reading since it does require a certain level of reader interaction and thoughtfulness to genuinely appreciate what Naslund has accomplished.

4 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, New Books

Review: My Name is Memory

http://www.annbrashares.com/images/cover-my-name-is-memory.jpg Ann Brashares latest novel My Name is Memory is the perfect melding of historical and contemporary fiction. As the saga of lovers doomed to meet and be torn apart throughout history, it offers both the modern love story mixed with the magical writings of days past.  Brashares proves herself not only a true storyteller but also a gifted writer able to turn research into reality on the page while still keeping readers engaged in present day.  Scanning centuries the work sweeps its readers into a world beyond their own where a lifetime is merely a moment in history.

Daniel is an old soul blessed or cursed with the “memory” depending on how you look at it. In each lifetime he views it differently. He has lived many lives and died many deaths. After each lifetime he retains many things. He remembers his former lives, skills, talents and above all his love for a woman he once wronged. Each life presents the anticipation of finally having his dear “Sophia” in his arms but this can be difficult when the woman you love has no recollection of anything beyond her present human life. Each life she is reborn like most with no recollections of what has come before. She does not know Daniel or who she was in her past.

Another complication to their eternal love story is the malicious revenge sought by a soul that was once Daniel’s brother and has now become a sworn enemy. The gift of  ‘memory” is not always given to the deserving it seems and many use it maliciously for their own selfish gain or to seek revenge throughout time. Life after life Daniel must search for his love but not lead the enemy to her. It is a constant struggle between pure love and sacrifice. But after a multitude of lives will he ever truly be able to love the only woman who has ever mattered? Will the soul he knows as his once brother ever truly give them peace?

My Name is Memory is a unique work that shines with the growth of Brashares as an author; there is elegance and wisdom to her voice that only makes the novel more enchanting and unforgettable. She manages to make present day and the past flow together as though we as the reader also carry our memory through each life.  Stunning and magnificent in its scope and pace, My Name is Memory will attract and amaze the historical and contemporary reader while taking its place in the world of truly well told love stories.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares will be available tomorrow June 1st from Riverhead Books.

6 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, historical fiction, New Books