Category Archives: Classic Literature

It’s Another Happy Birthday Dearest Jane!


Happy Birthday to Jane Austen!

I am always reminded as I trim my tree with one special ornament flown in all the way from Bath, England ….It’s that time of year again. Once again it is time to celebrate the birth of my favorite and undoubtedly one of the most influential and talented authors in all of history: Ms. Jane Austen herself. I always love talking about Jane especially with other Janeites who love her just as much as I do…mostly because she seems to cross all barriers and holds such a dear place in my own heart. She is beloved around the world and even non-readers know her name and work through various forms of media that now make her even more immortal. She continues to inspire and create for one simple reason: she is truly timeless. Her work is such an exquisite study of human nature that it can fit in  any time period or place in history in which one might try and place it. Beyond that she continues to inspire writers today in amazingly large numbers whether their work be connected to her characters, herself or her memory. To help commemorate Ms. Austen’s birthday here at Stiletto Storytime I have invited two of my favorite Austen loving authors to share what Jane has meant to them personally. So fellow Janeites enjoy and do light a candle tonight in celebration while your peruse your favorite Austen masterpiece, giggle along with Bridget Jones or dream of Colin Firth….in any case have a fabulous Austen evening!

Happy birthday, dear Jane!  I wish I could give you a gift, for you’ve given me so many over the years, from six of the best novels a girl could ever ask for, to one of the best pieces of writing advice a girl could ever wish for:  

“Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on,” you counseled your niece a long time ago.  I hope you don’t mind that I took your words to heart, too.  They helped steer my Mother-Daughter Book Club series, which I set in my old hometown of Concord, Massachusetts — a village of which you would have heartily approved.  I had such fun writing those stories that I’m diving in all over again with a new book set in another village, the fictional town of Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire.

So thank you, Jane, for blazing a trail for so many of us who have followed you, pen in hand.  We may never measure up to your inimitable genius, but we’ll nevertheless delight in every step of the way.

Respectfully yours,
Heather Vogel Frederick

What Jane Austen Means To Me…

Hmmm…tough question.  What Jane Austen means to me is almost indefinable, perhaps because she is so many things that I simply can’t consolidate.  She is wit, silliness, and romance—lovely, memorable romance—and certainly, she is comfort.  Her own novels bring back a simpler time, even with all the rules and restrictions.  And the fictions written by all of her fans offer another connection to that charming setting that was never truly imaginary: The World of Jane Austen.  She has infused her novels with such substance that they feel real and relevant even centuries later.  That is magic—she is magic, perhaps that’s the best way to describe what she means to me.  Jane has a sparkle that I hope will never dim in the eyes of the world’s readers.

Happy Birthday Jane!  No candles necessary—you’re glowing! ~Alyssa Goodnight

Jane Austen Birthday Celebration Giveaway

What would a birthday be without gifts? And thanks to these two truly fabulous ladies two lucky Stiletto Storytime winners will walk away with a little Austen themed literary goodness to help celebrate the occasion. One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pies & Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick and another lucky winner will receive a copy Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight.

To enter please share below what Jane Austen has meant to you. When did she first come into your world? How did she make her entrance….do you think she’ll ever leave? 

Giveaway will end on December 23, 2012 at midnight EST. This giveaway is open to US/CAN addresses only please. Winners will be chosen by random number generator and notified by e-mail.

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

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


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature, Events, Heather Vogel Frederick, Jane Austen

Jane Austen Giveaway Hop featuring Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight

Welcome to Stiletto Storytime’s Jane Austen Giveaway Hop stop. So glad to have so many of my dear Janeites swinging by to try and score some great Jane inspired goodies. I am especially excited to be able to offer one lucky winner a Jane Austen inspired novel that is yet to be published. Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight will not be officially published until January 29, 2013 but you can win an ARC now and be one of the first to enjoy this modern day romp into Jane culture. Many of you will remember Alyssa’s novel Austentatious. You can check out my review for that work here. And read below about her latest endeavor into Jane Austen inspired fiction….

Steamy, funky, and thoroughly modern, Austin, Texas isn’t much like the gardened country estates of Jane Austen’s work. But there might be a few similarities in its inhabitants…
Cate Kendall is no stranger to daydreams of brooding men and fancy parties–after all, she teaches one of her beloved Jane Austen novels in her English classes every year. But as for romance or adventure in her own life, the highlight of most weeks is Scrabble with her cute coworker, Ethan, and he draws the line at witty banter. But Cate is ready for a change. When she finds a mysterious journal that seems to have a link to the soul of the great Jane Austen herself, she knows it’s her chance. And she grabs on with both hands…
Before she knows it, Cate has invented an alter ego with an attitude, attended some seriously chic soirees, and gotten tangled up with a delicious mystery man. And she’s uncovered enough unexpected secrets about Ethan that her Scrabble partner has taken to brooding looks and unfathomable silences. It’s a positively Austenite predicament, and Cate is sure she’ll land in hot water and heartbreak–but maybe not with Jane herself to guide her…”

Sounds great right? I know you can’t wait to read it just as much as myself. In fact I will be digging into my ARC soon and posting a review here at Stiletto Storytime in the future. In the meantime let’s get to the giveaway…I’m going to make it as simply as possible for all my Janeites. Simply share your favorite Jane Austen quote. It can be from one of her novels, her personal letters…etc. Just share a moment of Jane that has stuck with you until this day. That comment below will automatically enter you into the giveaway. After all what better way to celebrate dear Jane than to share her immortal words? I can’t wait to see what everyone chooses and hopefully hear some new to me quotes as well. So think…dig deep and try to be as original as possible. I will share my own favorite when I announce the lucky winner.

 Winner will be chosen by and notified by e-mail address. Giveaway ends midnight EST on October 24th 2012. Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Good Luck to all and Happy Reading! And of course make sure to check 0ut all the blogs in the fabulous The Jane Austen Giveaway Hop. One to make sure you stop by is author Alyssa Goodnight’s Blog where she is giving away a copy of Austentatious.

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 Author Alyssa Goodnight on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about the Jane Austen Giveaway Hop Stop at Stiletto Storytime (Please leave link in comments)


Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, Classic Literature, Jane Austen, New Books

My Week in Reading

Wow! What a week/month in reading this is turning out to be! It’s the week before we head out to the beach for vacation. This year we rented a house on Tybee Island for a week so I can’t wait to make my vacation reading list (you know those books I have been wanting to read forever but reviewing commitments or life just kept getting in the way). Can’t wait to pack my books and head out for some relaxation in the sun and water. We’ll be on the beach and have a pool so I can’t wait for my beach reading in the sand and my floating in the pool reading as well. Vacation reading is right up there with my very favorite types of reading. Probably a nice tie between vacation reading and holiday reading if I had to choose. What’s your favorite kind of reading? I will make sure to share my vacation books in a post closer to our departure. In the meantime….

This week/month I am also participating in two great reading events. First off the Summer Wrap -Up Read-a-thon hosted by Jennifer at Some Like It Paranormal and Jude at In Between which takes place from August 4th-12th which means it will even last a day into vacation. Right now I am working on finishing up Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver for this reading event. This event also has tons of mini-challenges and giveaways on offer and a Twitter following at #SWUR. Feel free to join….even though the event has begun you can still sign up here and try to finish up some of that TBR pile. I will be keeping track of my progress here on this post along with my participation in challenges.

Summer Wrap-Up Read-a-thon Progress

Books Completed: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James

Pages Completed: 889

Mini-Challenges Completed: 4

The other great reading event going on right now is a month long reading challenge that is dear to my pure Janeite heart. It’s Austen in August: A Reading Event which you can learn more about and sign up for here. It’s being hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this one since I love any excuse to sit back and re-read Jane Austen. I am going to start this event out by reading my new Penguin Classics fabric covered copy of Persuasion that I won awhile back from Austenprose. It’s such a lovely book…I simply can’t wait. You can follow this event on Twitter with #AustenInAugustRBR . I will be keeping track of my progress in this event on this post as well.

Austen in August Progress

Currently Reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Books Completed: 0

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Filed under Adult Books, Challenges, Classic Literature, Contests, Events, Jane Austen, Reading Challenge

Review: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

   Sixteen-year-old Emma Townsend feels as if she doesn’t quite fit in anywhere within her own life. A scholarship student at the exclusive Lockwood Prep, Emma is used to feeling out of place among the other wealthy and somewhat materialistic students. In fact she mostly seems to only find solace within the pages of a book.  Without many friends she has become accustomed to being alone in many ways but it still hurts at times especially when she feels surrounded by individuals who just don’t understand her. Even at home she maintains a somewhat strained relationship with her father and stepmother as she still grieves for the loss of her mother at a very young age.

On the love front Emma remains solitary as well since her main romantic relationships consist of unquenchable crushes on both her much older English teacher and a once inseparable childhood friend. In the case of her childhood companion, Gray Newman was the little boy with which she spent countless hours of play but now he is an undeniably handsome teen who happens to be insanely popular. Both these characteristics seem to now make Gray exist completely in another world from a quiet bookish wallflower like Emma. In fact it seems both her loves are achingly unreachable much like the famous character of Mr. Rochester within her mother’s favorite book  Jane Eyre.

Since escape into books has at times become Emma’s only relief she finds comfort in reading a novel so close to her mother’s heart. However nothing could ever prepare her for what happens after a freak accident when she actually becomes part of the story. While innocently reading Jane Eyre the classic tale becomes all too real when Emma finds herself lost within the story as the main character of Jane.  Is Emma Jane or is Jane Emma? It’s almost too confusing to decipher as many of the actual people and events in Emma’s real life become one with what was once simply a book.

As contemporary young adult fiction and a literary masterpiece combine A Breath of Eyre becomes a work full of connections and twists and turns that will keep readers glued to its pages.  Emma’s life at Lockwood Prep and her beloved Jane Eyre intercept to create a dream-like and yet remarkably real world in which to get completely lost. Amazingly within this weaving together of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved tome and the life of a modern day teenager, Mont has managed to also create characters that transcend to take on dual roles within both settings creating a well-blended piece of fiction that is exceptionally unique within the arena of young adult literature.

A Breath of Eyre truly stands out as a seamless combination of Emma’s every day life and the fantasy world that is fiction from another time. In short A Breath of Eyre truly becomes a breath of fresh air for readers looking for that special touch that makes a book stand out among the pack.

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont will be released on March 27, 2012.


Filed under Classic Literature, New Books, Young Adult Books

Reading Challenge: My Life in Newbery

Children’s literature is really important to me not only as a children’s librarian but also as a reader and a parent. There is something about the books that we read as children that shape the readers we become later in life. They can often sometimes even depict or affect whether we will become readers at all. The John Newbery medal is an award given by the American Library Association to an author for their contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. It is named for John Newbery, an 18th century English publisher of juvenile books.

 I recently saw a friend and former library colleague at Learning to Play the Bassoon create a sort of reading challenge by looking up the Newbery winners at certain points in her life and I wanted to take it and make it my own by doing something similar. Below I have created a list of books that have won the Newbery Medal during my lifetime. I thought it would be fun to read each of these books this year. I really don’t read as much children’s literature as I should anymore now that I am at home with Little Man and this seems like a fun way to incorporate some into my current reading.

I would love for others to undertake this challenge with me or even just commit to reading one Newbery winner this year such as the book that won for the year you were born. You can easily look the winning and honor books for each year here. Just for the fun of it….I would love for everyone to share what book won the year you were born and whether or not you have read it?

My Life in Newbery

The year I was born: 1981

Newbery Medal Winner: Jacob Have I Loved  by Katherine Paterson

The year I started kindergarten: 1986

Newbery Medal Winner: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

The year I turned 10: 1991

Newbery Medal Winner: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

The year I started high school: 1996

Newbery Medal Winner: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The year I graduated from high school: 2000

Newbery Medal Winner: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The year I graduated from college: 2005

Newbery Medal Winner: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

The year I received my Master’s Degree: 2006

Newbery Medal Winner: Criss Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins

The year Little Man was born: 2009

Newbery Medal Winner: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This year’s Winner for 2012

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos


Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Classic Literature, Middle Grade, Reading Challenge

Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

   Gemma Hardy is no doubt the modern day Jane Eyre of our time. Orphaned at a young age and brought from her native land of Iceland to be taken in by her Uncle and his own small but prosperous family, Gemma grew up in a relatively loving environment until the untimely death of said Uncle. Upon his demise Gemma’s life became one of unhappiness and abuse at the hands of a jealous Aunt and cruel cousins.

 Eventually the young girl was tossed away to a boarding school where she was all but a servant, still the ever resilient child showed herself to be composed of more than many ever believed her to be. Surviving the desperate conditions of Claypoole School and the death of a dear friend, Gemma perseveres to attain her education and seek employment beyond the walls of the institution once she has become of age.

 Enter this novel’s tragic hero and possible tragic flaw: Mr. Sinclair who just happens to be the guardian of a young girl named Nell in need of a governess.

 Sound familiar? It should. Touted as the contemporary Jane Eyre of our time, Margot Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy has been promoted in such as way as to create enormously large literary shoes that claim to have been filled before the first pages were even lightly turned by the majority of everyday readers.

 However all is not as well written, as it may seem or as it has been advertised.

 The modern day Mr. Rochester’s secret lacks power much as the romance between him and Gemma lacks spark and magnetism. While one of the hallmarks of Jane Eyre is a detached sense of emotion, it also a raging sense of passion that ignites between her and her lover that make the novel what it is and is celebrated for being. That bond makes the novel and unfortunately is missing in this newest interpretation. In this department the relationship and interactions between Gemma and Mr. Sinclair pale in comparison and ultimately fall devastatingly short.

 Nevertheless the experience of losing all hope of love and affection at such a young age only to grow up and possibly find it in the most unlikely of places; is a great one. It also makes for a great story no matter the time in which it is written. Gemma’s ongoing search for love and family among the wilds of Iceland lend nicely to taking on some originality beyond the barest of modernizations. The story of Gemma Hardy is one with small caches of originality mixed with an undeniable blue print of one of the most celebrated pieces of literature ever written. It also is a testament to the writer’s talent for inspiration and re-invention. Incidentally it is also impossible to put down.

 In the end the book while it cannot be said to be anything less than a reasonably well written piece of literature it also manages to more than anything shine a light on Charlotte Bronte’s true masterpiece as not only the gem that it is but also as a work of inspiration for writers of today and the future.


Filed under Adult Books, Classic Literature, Literature Resources, New Books

Jane’s Birthday Soiree: A Gift For Miss. Austen

     My dear friends…it is only right that today we celebrate the birth of one loved by so very many. Today is the birthday of Miss. Jane Austen and what better idea than to throw her a birthday soiree of sorts. I do hope you will join us. The lovely Maria of My Jane Austen Book Club and Katherine of November’s Autumn are hosting this most charming of events. There are blogs to be visited (listed below) and austenesque giveaways to enter at every one.

However before I get to the prize portion of this post, I do want to give dear Jane a gift. Out of all the wonders I thought to give her…a new freshly trimmed bonnet, an exquisite dress-dare I say a barouche? No..none felt just right. And so if I could I would give Jane just the perfect gift. It would be that of more time and perhaps more quill and ink so she could create more stories for us all to enjoy.

Austen Inspired Giveaway

One very lucky soiree attendee will win their own Austen inspired party favor. The fetching Lucinda Brant has been kind enough to provide a signed hardcover copy of her novel Noble Satyr: A Georgian Historical Romance. Look for a review of this rollicking romance in later days on Stiletto Storytime. I dare say Jane would approve.

Giveaway ends midnight EST December 23, 2011. This giveaway is open internationally so all are welcome to enter. Winner will be chosen by and notified by e-mail address or Twitter. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply comment below and share any memory of Jane that you can think of. It can be of one of her works or even an interest in one of her works if you are a newbie. Also don’t forget to visit the other blogs participating in this wonderful event and check out their giveaways as well.

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

Be/Become a Follower/Subscriber of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter (Please leave name in comments)

Be/Become a Follower of Author Lucinda Brant on Twitter (Please leave name in comments)

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

  1. Austenprose
  2.  SemiTrue Stories
  3.  First Draft
  4.  Regency Skethes
  5.  Brant Flakes
  6.  Mesmered’s Blog
  7.  The Heroine’s Bookshelf
  8.  vvb32 reads
  9.  The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown
  10.  ReginaJeffers’s Blog
  11.  Alyssa Goodnight   
  12.  Jane Austen in Vermont
  13.  Jane Started It!
  14.  Choc Lit Authors’ Corner
  15.  Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  16.  The Jane Austen Film Club 
  17.  El Salón de Té de Jane
  18.  Kaitlin Saunders
  19.  One Literature Nut
  20.  Patrice Sarath
  21.  Jane Austen Brasil
  22.  Jane Austen Sequels 
  23.  Stiletto Storytime
  24.  Jennifer W. Becton
  25.  Urban Girl Takes Vermont
  26.  Pemberley Variations 
  27.  AustenAuthors
  28.  November’s Autumn
  29.  My Jane Austen Book Club
  30. O! Beauty Unattempted
  31. Sharon Lathan


Filed under Blog Tour, Classic Literature, Contests, historical fiction, Jane Austen

The Classics Circuit: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

In 1947 John Steinbeck published a novella titled The Pearl. The story itself was based on a Mexican folk-tale but the telling was pure Steinbeck. The story is set on the coast among a small town with a group of indigenous people who live near the sea. Kino is one of the Indian men. He and his family survive from what they can obtain from the sea, they live in small brush huts and sell pearls to make money to survive. Kino has a wife Juana and an infant son named Coyotito.

As the story begins Coyotito is stung by a scorpion. Desperate Juana insists that the child be taken to the Doctor, an odd request to make for an Indian since the Doctor will probably not treat the child. The Doctor as expected turns the family away without even seeing the baby once he finds they have no money to pay him.  Kino and Juana then head to the ocean to find a pearl with which to pay the doctor. As Kino dives he finds a large, beautiful pearl. A pearl that will be forever be known as “the pearl of the world” by his people for all time to come.

This pearl is the basis for the entire story and while I do not want to give away anything I will say the story itself is not one of happiness. Then again this is a work by Steinbeck and “feel good” stories were not necessarily his forte. The Pearl in the end is a warning…to the poor to stay in their station. To poor people- to be content with what life has given them and to remain within their class structure and most importantly to all- to not tempt fate.

Deeply descriptive and minutely detailed The Pearl is a story that feels as if it has been passed down for hundreds of years. A cautionary tale told by the fire. Steinbeck manages to share the folk-tale while also making it clearly his own. For lovers of Steinbeck it is not to be missed. For the average reader it is a tale of sorrow but beautifully written.


Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, Classic Literature

Classics Challenge 2011: Half-Way Mark

It’s so hard to believe that half of our time has already gone by. However I must say I have been really happy with the turn out for this event (which has been my first sponsored challenge). We’ve had a great number of reviews posted for the number of participants. And we’ve also given away some great prizes since anyone in the Classics Challenge gets automatic and extra entries in my regular giveaways. However for the next six months expect to see a few prizes given away to just Classics Challenge participants. Perhaps some mini-challenges to come. Below are some basic stats including my personal progress. I would love to hear how everyone is doing…meeting their goals…planning to read? Comment and Share.

Participants: 35

Reviews: 30

Top Reviewers

Jaycie @ Project Read  Jessica’s Musings, Pages of Julia’s Blog

Most Reviewed Books

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Personal Progress of Stiletto Storytime

1.) The Histories by Herodotus (Re-Read)

2.) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Re-Read)

3.) An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (Re-Read)

4.) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (Re-Read)

5.) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Re-Read)

6.) Christy by Catherine Marshall (Re-Read)

Remember there is still always time to join if you haven’t already.

We would love to have you along for the journey!

Leave a comment

Filed under Classic Literature, Contests, Events, Reading Fun

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

(From Wednesday, May 25th to Tuesday May 31st)

Get ready for the chance to win an uniquely classic prize during this Giveaway Hop at Stiletto Storytime!  Many followers of Stiletto Storytime and #ArmchairBEA participants recently learned of The Storybook Kit Company and their amazing products including:

 Alice’s Pawfect Tea-Party

A delightful book filled with fun: featuring an annotated read-a-long, a CD of accompanying music,”eat me” goodies, a “drink me” vial, a chocolate faced watch and delicious sugar cookie hats for the White Rabbit of course. Oh, and there is yummy tea too.  This company’s fresh idea takes classic children’s stories and brings them alive through interactive play, music and actual refreshments as children enjoy their very own “themed” tea party. This would be a perfect activity to enrich and play away the hours this summer.

Storybook Kits Giveaway

Thanks to the generosity of the Storybook Tea Kit Company: two luck Stiletto Storytime winners will receive their very own Alice ‘s Pawfect Tea-Party Kit -magical and imaginative. It truly will be beyond your expectations.

And don’t worry the company has many more titles being developed includingThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz, A Princess Collection, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

To enter:  Just share a favorite childhood book you would love to see adapted into interactive play in some way below in a comment below to entered to win.

 Please only US/Can shipping addresses only as these packages do contain perishable items.Giveaway ends midnight EST Friday, May 31st. Winners will be chosen by and notfied by e-mail on June 1st. Also an announcement will be made in the comments section of the winning participants.

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

Join The Classics Challenge of 2011 (Old +5) (New +3)

And check out my other current giveaways along with  all the other giveaways on the hop here for the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop .


Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Programming, Classic Literature, Contests, Events, New Books