Tag Archives: TLC Book Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo

“On the surface, Lunch with Buddha is a story about family.  Otto Ringling and his sister Cecelia could not be more different.   He’s just turned 50, an editor of food books at a prestigious New York publishing house, a man with a nice home in the suburbs, children he adores, and a sense of himself as being a mainstream, upper-middle-class American.  Cecelia is the last thing from mainstream.  For two decades she’s made a living reading palms and performing past-life regressions.  She believes firmly in our ability to communicate with those who have passed on.
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It will turn out, though, that they have more in common than just their North Dakota roots.
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In Lunch with Buddha, when Otto faces what might be the greatest of life’s difficulties, it is Cecelia who knows how to help him.   As she did years earlier in this book’s predecessor, Breakfast with Buddha, she arranges for her brother to travel with Volya Rinpoche, a famous spiritual teacher — who now also happens to be her husband.”

Sometimes a book comes along just when you need it….just what the Doctor ordered as they say. This book turned out to be one such for me. As Otto Ringling searches for meaning after his beloved wife’s death along a spiritual journey he couldn’t have possibly predicted….so have I searched for meaning since my son’s descent into autism. It’s in our very nature to try to find meaning when things happen in our lives that impact us in ways we don’t understand or cannot make sense of. Especially those events that devastate us to the very core of our beings. Some find meaning in religion…others in philosophy or even simple ideas like fate. Otto finds his in the most unlikely of places as he makes a life changing journey with his serene his brother-in-law in a beat up old pick up truck. Within the pages of this book I found more of a spiritual search that perhaps I myself truly needed…not really specific to any religion in my personal opinion but more of a look into the divine in general. It’s both simple and magical at the same time. While I have not read the first novel Breakfast with Buddha, I did not find myself at a loss. This book stands very firmly on it’s own. However I will be reading the first novel as soon as I get a chance. I also look forward to the other works of Roland Merullo in the future.

The thing I have to say that I enjoyed most was how comfortable the writing was, even the book itself just felt peaceful. It’s almost like a warm second skin to slip into during a storm. The writing is straight-forward, not flashy or overly deep and yet it still reaches you in places that only truth can. It was the perfect book for a certain time in my life and I think it would resonate with many on multiple levels.

TLC Book Tours  Book Giveaway

I’m happy to be able to share a copy of this book with one lucky reader at Stiletto Storytime. To enter just comment below and share how you reach a place of peace in hard times. It may be through religion, meditation, a favorite quote?  Giveaway will end midnight EST December, 19 2012 and is available to a US/CAN addresses only. The lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

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

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

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

“A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Christian maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live. Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore.”

I Am Forbidden is a journey through the lives of four generations of a Samtar family, a religious sect known for its extreme insularity and un-ending desire for privacy. Personally I have never encountered their existence in fictional literature quite like what Anouk Markovits has created. Her unique view of their world shines through every page as she draws on even the most minute of details from both her childhood and young adulthood growing up within the sect and her thorough research, which is apparent throughout the novel.  She truly brings you into a community that most individuals will probably never know exists and especially never be able to experience.

The novel spans decades and yet it has a never ceasing elegant flow to it’s travel through time as she explores each generation and their lives including both their joys and sorrows including their most trying times and horrific experiences. While often heartbreaking the novel is a testament to the never-ending ebb and flow of life even among those individuals who have in many ways withdrawn from modern society for their sacred religious beliefs.

As I read in many ways it reminded me of a past read Hidden Wives by Claire Avery which introduced readers to the world of a modern day Utah polygamist community.  If you like one you may want to check out the other. Both offer fantastic insights into world’s that exist almost invisibly around us although with very unique voices and different writing styles.

TLC Book Giveaway

Ready to delve into a past and culture that is most probably completely new to you? Thanks to the folks at TLC Book Tours Stiletto Storytime is excited to  to be able to give a copy of I Am Forbidden to one reader. Giveaway ends at midnight EST on  June 23, 2012. US/Canada address only please. The winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. To enter just comment below. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

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

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

     ” THE GARDEN INTRIGUE is the latest novel in the nationally bestselling Pink Carnation series byRITA Award winner Lauren Willig. In this ninth installment, long-time readers and newcomers alike will be delighted to meet a character sure to become a fan favorite—a poet whose fervent ardor leads him to declare his feelings for the Pink Carnation in atrociously overwrought verse.

Lovable modern day grad student Eloise Kelly is back and on the trail of the Pink Carnation when she discovers a wretched poem among the papers of a code book. Poetry penned by the notorious fop Augustus Whittlesby for Jane Wooliston (aka the Pink Carnation)—Eloise can’t help but wonder; can anyone really be that bad of a poet? Or is something else hiding behind his putridly saccharine words? Back in 1804, New York born Paris socialite Emma Morris Delgardie doesn’t think so. She’s too busy sipping champagne to notice Whittlesby’s strange interest in a top-secret device Napoleon has commissioned. Unfortunately for Emma, she’s the poet’s entrée into the emperor’s inner circle. Fortunately for Augustus, this plucky American heroine could turn out to be his true muse.”

The Garden Intrigue is the ninth book in the Pink Carnation Series and I have to admit I have been kind of lax since about the third or fourth book so going into it I was a little nervous that I would be lost. That was not the case. This installment has no problem standing on it’s own for a reader who has read a few books in the series or one who has no introduction whatsoever to the series. Either way I think it would prove to be an enjoyable read.

The main characters within the book remain the same as we continue to follow the modern day love story of Colin and Eloise which is probably my favorite part of the series in all honesty. Within the historical side of the story we meet a former character in the poet Augustus but he is supplied with a new love interest in the American Emma. I found both time periods and relationships to be interesting and addicting. Best of all is Willig’s rendering of the historical time period since she is such a spectacular researcher and exacting historical fiction author. Love, espionage, mystery and danger combine as always to create a great storyline within this series. Add in the bad poetry of Augustus for humor and you have the perfect recipe for a great read.  I for one am looking forward to going back and re-reading the books that I have missed after finishing this book.

My only real problem with The Garden Intrigue lies within the cover choice. I find it looks a little too much like a romance novel. It’s shelf appeal is greatly diminished for that reason in my opinion for many potential readers and I fear many  may overlook it based on cover alone. Most of the former books in the series had a much different cover that I thought served them well. You can compare covers here if you’d like and tell me if you agree.

 Book Giveaway

Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a giveaway as part of this TLC Book Blog Tour Stop for The Garden Intrigue and a copy of the book will soon belong to one very lucky reader. Giveaway ends midnight EST March 31, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please for this giveaway.

To enter to win a copy simply comment below and share your favorite book series. It can be historical fiction or not…whichever series you get really excited about each time a new installment is released.

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

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Blog Tour: Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

 “That rare coming-of-age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting, Irma Voth follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption.

Nineteen-year-old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico. She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican ne’er-do-well she barely knows, although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother. With a husband who proves elusive and often absent, a punishing father, and a faith in God damaged beyond repair, Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation. When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised, Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set. But her father, intractable and domineering, is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers. His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom.”

The thing that kept running through my mind the entire time I was reading Irma Voth was that the book was very much like an eclectic independent film…not unlike the one being filmed in the book. This is not a book that flows along conventionally..it darts and veers, never giving any clue as to where the reader will travel next. The beginning of the book feels minimalistic as the reader searches for their bearings in a story where very little is explained. As the story progresses…and as Irma progresses the reader receives more and more detail and plot. However the storyline is always somewhat scattered and searching.

I can think of a number of people that would adore the vagueness this book often emitted, unfortunately I am not one of them. The story just never really came together for me and Irma never really grew into herself in the way that I wished. I see this book being one that a reader will either love or hate…much like many of those eclectic independent films that I mentioned. I guess sometimes you just get it or sometimes you don’t.

But don’t take my word for it….Make sure to check out the other stops on the Irma Voth Blog Tour here.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

“Shelley Gallus’ happy ending abruptly ended three years ago when her husband Max died. She has settled into life as a widow, braving Sunday mornings alone with a cup of Jasmine tea and a poor imitation of Max’s famous baked eggs and cheese, until her fragile recovery is shattered one morning when the doorbell rings. On her doorstep she finds handsome young Paolo, who bears not only an uncanny resemblance to her late husband but some unbelievable news: Max is alive!

Shelley would be overjoyed by the words she has been longing for if not for two small details. First, Max was blown to bits by a Madrid subway bomb. And second, Paolo claims to be her 32-year-old husband’s 32-year-old grandson. Still, the single spark of hope that she could be reunited with the love of her life is all Shelley needs to launch her across the globe with Paolo in search of Max.

During their journey, Shelley is preoccupied with memories of “The Slight Detour,” the budget European tour package where she met and fell in love with her tour guide husband. Reality descends as Shelley begins to realize that Max’s vivid stories of bloody Parisian rebellions, medieval Austrian monasteries, and doomed Venetian cities may not have been stories at all.

Shelley had always believed her marriage was the stuff of fairy tales. But when fantasy collides hard with reality, and she and Paolo come closer to discovering the truth about Max, Shelley faces an agonizing leap of faith before she can have her happily ever after.”

Combine part modern tragedy with two parts historical fiction and a healthy dose of realistic fantasy and you have Samantha Sotto’s ambitious debut novel Before Ever After. It’s a work of gradual advancement starting in what seems like an all to real modern day setting but taking its readers on a supernatural ride through the centuries. In the beginning I had some troube truly getting into the book, for some reason it went slowly for me. I almost put it down on multiple occasions to be perfectly honest.  However once I got into the “meat” of the novel so to say…I was hooked. Samanatha Sotto has a natural talent that is nearly impossible to deny was she weaves her tale of Max, Shelley and Paolo throughout time. She also has a meticulous eye for detail and well done research when it comes to the more historical aspects of her writing.

Sotto has created a book of both magical and realistic proportions that once truly began is perfectly paced and realized. It’s a detective trail in many ways following along the path and clues left behind by Max as he has traveled through years and lives over the centuries. What Shelley once considered stories may very well be first hand accounts and the honest truth.  As both Shelley and Paolo follow along the path the realize the man they both loved so very much was an individual so beyond their imagining but perhaps still the man of their dreams. But what will what they learn of him do to their present and their past memories?

In the end Samantha Sotto’s debut work will leave you wanting more and also craving the “Baked Eggs and Cheese” she so often mentions. When we lose a loved one it can be funny what we cling to…Sotto knows this and many other things about the human heart that come shining through in Before Ever After. This is a book of many mysteries, revelations and surprises…one which I don’t wish to spoil for readers because I believe they will enjoy it so themselves.

Book Giveaway

One lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Before Ever After. Giveaway ends midnight EST August 9, 2011. US/Canada addresses only please. The winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply comment below.

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

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Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter (Leave Name)

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Continue reading

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon

     “When he was the NYPD’s top homicide investigator, Dave Gurney was never comfortable with the label the press gave him: super detective. He was simply a man who, when faced with a puzzle, wanted to know. He was called to the investigative hunt by the presumptuous arrogance of murderers – by their smug belief that they could kill without leaving a trace. There was always a trace, Gurney believed.

Except what if one day there wasn’t?

Dave Gurney, a few months past the Mellery case that pulled him out of retirement and then nearly killed him, is trying once again to adjust to his country house’s bucolic rhythms when he receives a call about a case so seductively bewildering that the thought of not looking into it seems unimaginable—even if his beloved wife, Madeleine, would rather he do anything but.

The facts of what has occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated, her head apparently severed by a machete. Though police investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed the young woman in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother—a chilly high-society beauty—is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre.

Underneath it all may exist one of the darkest criminal schemes imaginable. And as Gurney begins deciphering its grotesque outlines, some of his most cherished assumptions about himself are challenged, causing him to stare into an abyss so deep that it threatens to swallow not just him but Madeleine, too.

Desperate to protect Madeleine and bring an end to the madness, Gurney ultimately discovers that the killer has left a trace after all. Unfortunately, the revelation may come too late to save his own life.”

I think it’s a rare case when the sequel to a book simply blows the first book in a series away but that is just what John Verdon’s newest book in the “Dave Gurney” series has done for me. While I genuinely enjoyed the first book in the series Think of a Number, this next volume is on a whole new level. There is a sophistication to the writing, a depth of detail and plot that simply seem to excel above the first book which was an international bestseller itself. Verdon seems to always keep one step ahead of his readers…keeping us guessing…on the edge of our seats…everything a thriller should do. I myself am not usually a reader of thrillers so for me to enjoy one this much is praise indeed.

I am glad Verdon chose to continue Think of a Number and it’s main protagonist into a series. Dave Gurney is a worthy character and within this second chapter in his life we really get to know more of the man including the amazing way his mind works. Just the intricate details of how he connects things is fascinating in itself for me as a reader. Also there is no doubt John Verdon will have most of his readers hooked from the very first page of this novel as he draws you into the bizarre and somewhat disturbing mind of a killer. The nature of the crime that draws in Dave Gurney is also what will draw in readers and keep them reading through the first few chapters.We simply need to know what happened….and isn’t that the gist of a great book?

Want to check out the first book in the “Dave Gurney” series? Check out my review of Think of a Number here. Also make sure to follow the TLC Book Blog Tour for Shut Your Eyes Tight here.

Book Giveaway

One lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Shut Your Eyes Tight. Giveaway ends midnight EST August 5, 2011. US/Canada addresses only please. The winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply comment below answering this question:

What is your favorite thriller novel or author and why? 

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

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Like Author John Verdon on Facebook (Leave Name)

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

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Blog Tour: Before Versailles by Karleen Koen

 Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

“After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.”

There is something about historical fiction that has always been magical to me. It literally can take you not just to another place but another time. That being said I think it’s also one of the hardest genres to perfect. Not only must one contend with the ambitious quest of writing a good story but the writer must also mix in writing with characters well-known to many including persnickety “experts” and at the same time be aware of the tiniest historical accuracies/inaccuracies like the color of a dress or the exact size of a carriage. When done well historical fiction can be educational and enchanting…when not it can be a downright disaster of historical proportions that will eventually be used as a coaster by many a reader.

Karleen Koen in my opinion is an author who does historical fiction well…quite well in fact. For those who enjoyed Through a Glass Darkly, her latest work will be a pleasure. Exquisitely detailed and rich in factual material the book takes us into the life and times of Louis XIV from multiple character point of views. While lush in it’s detailing and scope the book still manages to not become too weighty and readers will find it a pleasurable read. In case of of character mix-ups, Koen has provided a short list in the front of the book. I always enjoy supplemental materials like this in historical fiction. We are all human and sometimes we might need a little note taking to fully enjoy a book that goes deep into historical depth. In short Before Versailles is a wonderful trip down the road of French history and storytelling at the same time.

Make sure to follow the Before Versailles Blog Tour here at TLC Book Tours.

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Blog Tour: The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton

 

“Meg Waite Clayton’s national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters was a word-of-mouth sensation and book club favorite. Now the beloved author is back with a page-turning novel that explores the secrets we keep, even from those closest to us, and celebrates the enduring power of friendship.

Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.

But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells retreat to a summer house on the Chesapeake Bay, where they find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever.

Once again, Meg Waite Clayton writes inspiringly about the complex circumstances facing women and the heartfelt friendships that hold them together. Insightful and affecting, The Four Ms. Bradwells is also a captivating tale of how far people will go to protect the ones they love.”

I have to say I have been wanting to read this book since the very first moment I saw the cover. It’s simplicity and elegance caught my eye immediately. The shelf appeal is undeniable. However once I began to engage in the story…the elegance and importance of the writing won me over much more than the design of a book cover ever could.

Unlike many readers I have to admit I have not read the much loved The Wednesday Sisters but I will be doing so very soon. Meg Waite Clayton seems to have a talent for writing about women- not just as individuals but as humans in all the roles we portray in our lives. The role of wife, mother, daughter, friend, revolutionary, victim, advocate and even the professional role in whatever career path we choose. I loved that the women were portrayed as strong individuals and yet their flaws, victimization or mistakes in life were still explored showing we all have secrets…we all have a past. But that past does not define who we are. Who we are is inexplicably tied to these roles and experiences and yet we are also separate selves who exist independently. This author “gets” that and even more amazing she can portray it in a way that will leave readers spellbound and thinking about her work long after the last page has been read.

I loved the unraveling of the story of these women, their friendships, the way they supported one another, the way they represented a group and yet also were portrayed as individuals. The Four Ms. Bradwells is a book so well thought out it can almost be hard to cover all the thought provoking themes held within its pages. As the story is told in flashback and modern day, we get a taste of history and the hard road of feminism that so many women have fought before us. All in all a great read for the women in your life and a very thought provoking journey. It may not be for every reader but those looking for a deeper meaning and strongly knit tale will be touched by this book.

Remember to check out all the other great reviewers for this fantastic TLC Book Tour.

Book Giveaway

I have to say I am so pleased to be able to share this book with one of my readers. I have one copy of The Four Ms. Bradwells to give away and I am so excited to be able to pass on such an extraordinary reading experience.

Giveaway ends midnight EST April 20, 2011. US and Canada address only please. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. The winner will receive the book sometime in May once the Book Tour is over. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply leave a comment below letting my know what role friendships played in your life….especially those of women if you are female or leave me a suggestion of another great read about the power of friendship.

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

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

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Blog Tour: Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_2fs3g1vxvP8/TDZ9qbe4cgI/AAAAAAAABr4/qjwHVg-oIbw/s1600/Jackie+Lee+Miles+Cold+Rock+river.jpg

I am extremely excited to be hosting author Jackie Lee Miles and her wonderful book Cold Rock River on Stiletto Storytime today.  Some books give you that warm and fuzzy feeling throughout, never a worry or a bother  about what might happen to your beloved character friends as they find their way through the story and ultimately to their happily ever after. However the real stories are those that reflect the truth of life and life often is not warm and fuzzy. I am most intrigued by stories that show how we don’t always get what we want in life and tragedy so often befalls those that deserve it the least. Cold Rock River is a tale such as that. It’s a tale of life.

Description from Publisher:

In 1963 rural Georgia, with the Vietnam War cranking up, pregnant seventeen-year-old Adie Jenkins discovers the diary of pregnant seventeen-year-old Tempe Jordan, a slave girl, begun as the Civil War was winding down. Adie is haunted by the memory of her dead sister; Tempe is overcome with grief over the sale of her three children sired by her master. Adie–married to Buck, her baby’s skirt-chasing father–is unprepared for marriage and motherhood. She spends her days with new baby Grace. Buck spends his with the conniving vamp Imelda Jane.

Adie welcomes the friendship of midwife Willa Mae Satterfield. Having grown close to her after Grace’s birth, she confides that her baby sister, Annie, survived choking on a jelly bean only to drown in Cold Rock River a few months later. Willa Mae says, “My two little chillins George and Calvin drowns in that river too.” What she won’t say is who and why.

Adie takes refuge in Tempe’s journal. It tells an amazing tale: When “the freedom” comes, Tempe sets out to find her children but never finds them, and she settles in Macon, Georgia, where she meets Tom Barber, a former slave from a Savannah plantation. They marry and have a daughter nicknamed Heart, and though she’s “a bit slow in the head,” they adore her. Tom is good to Tempe, and she remains by his side, ever faithful, until she discovers something she can’t live with–a truth so devastating she vows never to speak of it again.

Adie continues to pore over Tempe’s diary, which seems to raise more questions than it answers. After Tom is killed in a drunken brawl, Tempe takes Heart to north Georgia, settling on a small patch of land and taking up midwifery to support them both. Eventually she marries an elderly neighbor and gives birth to two more children, Georgia and Calvin. Adie is filled with questions. Could Willa Mae be Heart? Could the children in the diary have been hers? How–and why–did they drown? And is it possible that the man who owns the house in which she lives is Willa Mae’s grandson?”

As Cold Rock River comes to its surprising, shocking ending, questions of family, race, love, loss, and longing are loosed from the mysterious secrets that have been kept for too long–and the depth of the mysterious connection between two women united by place and separated by race and a hundred years is revealed.”

Cold Rock River is the story of two girls traveling the path to adulthood in tough times. One woman living in modern day, and another a slave during the years before and after the Civil War, this book follows them through tragedy, determination and sometimes blessedly salvation as well. It is a book rich in Southern charm but true to the harsh realities of life. As a reader I found Cold Rock River to be an enjoyable book that I did not want to end. As a writer I found it to be a brave book in that it always stays true to the story, even at the risk of plunging it’s readers into some of life’s most horrific events. As I have begun writing I have started to look at writing with a different eye and to greater appreciate the art of the written word. Jackie Lee Miles as a writer is not without her struggles and I am honored she has written about that today. So without further ado please welcome Jackie to Stiletto Storytime:

https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=55156dd8b4&view=att&th=129a803b6f01c6a4&attid=0.2&disp=inline&zwWRITING STRUGGLES

Writing Struggles are something every author deals with. That really hits home with me when I finish one novel and have to start another.

I just finished two novels. The first one will be released January 2011 by Sourcebooks: ALL THAT’S TRUE. It follows Andrea St. James (Andi for short), during the first Desert Storm war, who discovers her father is having an affair with her best friend’s step-mother. Sourcebooks calls it “an authentic coming-of-age tale with a terrific takeaway.”

The second novel, HEART, has yet to be sold. It was inspired by an actual CBS news program where a man received his daughter’s heart. The tagline of the book is: After a fatal accident sixteen-year-old Lorelei Goodroe follows the lives of five people who receive her organs, including that of her father who receives her heart.

Okay, two books down, a new one to go. But what to write? After several days of contemplating, I get an idea when a character comes to me, a twelve-year-old girl who has a problem. (I tend to write in young voices—I can’t seem to help myself.) The protagonist’s voice is very strong. I hear her words in my head:

“When I was very little my mother told me stories about why my father wasn’t with us. First she said he was away in the war going on in Asia, Vietnam. Then she said he was healing from the wounds in his head that made him forget us. Later she said he was on assignment for the secret service.”

I used those lines for my opening of SUMMER RIDGE and wrote a tagline: Twelve-year-old Mary Alice Munford struggles with the knowledge that her mother plans to marry her father, a man who abandoned them before she was born.

On to the novel and that’s where the real struggle begins. What to write? What will this girl’s problems be? What will stand in her way? What can you say that will keep your reader riveted for three hundred pages? That’s a tall order, but that’s what books ask of us. And your reader expects some good answers.

Early on, Mary Alice states that her household is not a happy one:

There’s me, my mother, Granny Ruth and Aunt Josie, whose husband, my Uncle Earnest, fell under a combine when I was five so I never got to know him good. The day he died, I climbed on Aunt Josie’s lap and wouldn’t leave even when it was time to go to bed. Mama tried to pick me up.

“You been sitting there all day, sweet thing.”

“Leave me lone, Mama,” I said. “I’m helping Aunt Josie cry.”

I loved this protagonist immediately and started to write, regardless of the struggle.

I’m now two hundred pages into the manuscript. Mary Alice is at a fair with her father, who she still calls Hank, seeing as she can’t think of him as a real Daddy. He has picked up a gal from the local café, Wanda Lou, and the two of them are off having a very good time on their own. Mary Alice is busy pitching pennies and is not doing too well when a man comes up next to her and says, “What are you shootin’ for little miss?”

Mary Alice says he is acting like he really cares. She shows him the two little dogs she has won and points to the large one hanging down from the rafters with a big red bow around its neck.

“If I get one more, I can trade it for that big one,” she explains.

“That’ll be right nice,” he says and hands her another quarter. “Give her another try.”

She takes the three pennies the attendant hands her and tries again, but one by one the pennies bounce off the plates.  The man who gave her the quarter takes hold of her elbow and says, “They got a booth across the way. They use bowls instead of plates. It’s easy to win. Come on, I’ll show you.”

Mary Alice eagerly follows the man who says she can win.  He takes her behind all of the tents that are set up in back of the booths. Eventually, he spins around and says, “Sorry girlie, I can’t quite remember where that booth is.”

That’s when he grabs her. Mary Alice heart sinks. She realizes now it was not a good idea to follow him, but it’s too late. He already has his arm around her neck.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m still struggling and still writing. Always we authors hope it will be worth the effort. Stay tuned!

-Jackie Lee Miles

Thanks Jackie! And as a special treat Sourcebooks has allowed me to giveaway copies of Cold Rock River to two readers of Stiletto Storytime. To enter please leave a comment below telling what your favorite “Southern Lit” book is or if you’ve never read one…why are interested in Cold Rock River? Please also leave your email address so I can get in touch with the winner. US and Canada addresses only please. Winner will be chosen by random generator and you need not be a follower of Stiletto Storytime to win. However you can tweet about the giveaway for an extra entry -simply leave the link for verification. Giveaway ends midnight July 30, 2010. Good luck to all! This is a fantastic read not to be missed!

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Filed under Adult Books, Author Interviews & Posts, Blog Tour, Southern Literature

Blog Tour: The King’s Mistress by Emma Campion

One of my favorite genres is historical fiction although of late I have had little opportunity to read it. This is one of the reasons I was so excited to be apart of TLC’s Blog Tour for Emma Campion’s The King’s Mistress. Another reason was that that Alice Perrers as a subject or “character” is not one that I have much knowledge of. This meant a fresh and exciting look at a historical work that proved not only to be methodically researched, elegantly written but also truly personal in it’s search for who Alice was as a woman, mother, wife, widow and mistress.

History paints a cruel picture of Alice of Perrers. A woman who scrupulously attached herself to King Edward III and was even accused of using occult measures to do so. She was charged with abusing her favor with the King to promote those closest to her and gain monetary wealth for herself. She was said to maliciously wear the deceased Queen Phillipa’s jewels and believed to have always been aiming for a station in life much higher than that for which she was born. But what if she was not this woman? What is she was simply a pawn, a commoner woman who owed allegiance to her King and had no choice but to obey? What if she in the end craved only a quiet life with her children and a strong gentle husband by her side? What if the history we have been taught once again is wrong? History is not kind to women…this we know but it is even more critical of those we consider to have “fallen”.

It is on this premise that Emma Campion (the world’s foremost scholar on Alice Perrers) has basedhttp://emmacampion.com/images/jpg/portrait_color_Emma_Campion_20100121.jpg her novel. In it she shows how Alice’s life was taken from her at an early age with betrothal, betrayal and ultimately a true love that led her to be viewed as something she was not. What Campion has done is made Alice not only a historical character of the middle ages but a real woman. Her writing is wonderfully woven into a tale that keeps the reader enthralled and emotionally invested in Alice and her future. However it is Campion’s knowledge of the Middle Ages, Alice Perrers and the world that surrounded her that shines through. Campion is not only a writer but a scholar and it is evident throughout the work. The detail of fabrics and the art of dress, English estates and the court of King Edward III are astounding and truly transport the reader to that world. The King’s Mistress is a book not to be missed especially for lovers of historical fiction that enjoy well researched works that still flow as fiction into a story that can sweep readers away. In my opinion I see Campion on the level of Margaret George (my personal favorite writer of historical fiction) due to her depth and perception of the time in which she writes. For me this is the ultimate compliment for an author of historical fiction. That being said…don’t miss The King’s Mistress or any future writings of Campion herself.

Thanks to TLC Tours for the opportunity to read and review The King’s Mistress. It was indeed a pleasure.

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, historical fiction, margaret george, New Books