Tag Archives: Women’s 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.

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

Blog Tour: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe

   “Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace.  It was time to find a life for myself.  To make something out of nothing.  The end of hope and the beginning of it too.”

 “After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land–a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets.  As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of a family have been shattered.  She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.
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Grace opens a cafe, where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons–the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones–to the women of Macau.  There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family.  But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface.  Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghost to rest and to begin to trust herself.  With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked.  Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.”
The sadness that comes with the loss of a dream- be whatever that dream may have been, can feel almost impossible to overcome for many individuals. When one has nothing else to cling to but the failure of what they most desired or what might have been- they often find themselves in a never-ending almost cyclical battle with depression and the ever present reality of constant reminders of that lost dream or failure. As a woman the idea of being infertile, never having the opportunity to become a biological mother or have a family of own’s own can be the most devastating reality of all. Not only can it be one of deep personal shame ( un-warranted but felt nonetheless) and a sense of unworthiness but also one of a shared nature in that as a female she feels she has not only kept herself from the most natural of experiences but also let her partner down in that aspect as well.
As Grace faces this reality for herself, she seeks distractions from her sorrow within the new city of Macau which she and her Australian husband now call home. But somehow even the excitement of exploring a new and  exotic locale is not even enticement  enough to get Grace out of the bed in the morning…she still needs more. More to invest not only her time but her love in. She needs that one thing into which she can pour her heart and soul into since the reality of motherhood appears to never be an actual possibility. And so she digs deep into her past and a treat that reminds her of a mother whose true story is often hard to determine. It is the delight of the macaron in which Grace immerses herself. A delicate french desert that brings back happy memories of childhood.
Richly detailed and dripping with sensual descriptions of everything from food, to passion and even people. The Color of Tea is a feast of the senses and yet also very deeply personal. It can be wrenching at times and emotionally evocative but still also a light and summery read that never goes too dark. It’s very character driven in nature and yet blurs the lines of also being a travel novel of an not often mentioned place. I found it enchanting and easy to read and surround oneself with. Although I must say the beginning of ever chapter describing a mouth-watering macaron made me hungry at times…wanting to literally taste the delights described within the works. Trader Joe’s frozen macarons may not be exactly what was described but I did pick up a box to enjoy as I read of Grace and her endeavors.
For me personally The Color of Tea came to me not only at a relevant time in my life but also touched me deeply as I shared many of Grace’s feelings of loss. As I am trying desperately  to deal with a devastating blow of my own and a search for an outlet through which to find purpose and the happiness and hope I once had in abundance. After the diagnosis of my son’s autism, I found myself lost. It was as if every dream I had ever had of being a mother had been suddenly stripped from me. Would I ever be able to truly know my child? Would I ever be able to enjoy those small moments most parents take for granted? Would my son every be able to share with me even the most simple things such as his needs, wants or even favorite color? In all this I have searched for an outlet beyond being an advocate for my child. Something to bring me personal joy, to keep my mind from the ever constant what ifs that haunt when things go silent. This novel touched me deeply in that way since I could relate to Grace’s despair and her need for something within her life to fill the void. I myself have filled my void with books and the never-ending search for what else I can do to help my son. In this way the book rings very very true to real life for me. It was a pleasurably read that I believe will attract many readers…those hungry for a good story and those just hungry for one deliciously delicate macaron.
You can follow the Blog Tour for The Color of Tea at TLC Book Tours and check out what others thought of the book. Have you read it ? If so please share your feelings in the comments. Let’s talk books! Haven’t read it yet? Want an opportunity to win your own copy…just enter to below.

TLC Book Tours  Book Giveaway

To enter just comment below and share something with which you have struggled to come to terms with and how you might have channeled your energy and time into an alternative thing or act that gave you peace in some way from the loss you felt. Not want to go that deep…just share your favorite dessert…perhaps even your favorite macaron flavor? Giveaway will end midnight EST August 7, 2012 and is available to a US addresses only. The lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, Contests, New Books

Blog Tour: One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

“I open one eye, the one that isn’t covered with a thick ointment and crusted shut, and call out for my mother, who must have stepped out of the room. I reach for the phone that is sitting on the tray table at the side of my bed and the nerve endings in my bandaged left arm scream in protest at the movement.”

Today I am excited and honored to welcome author Heather Gudenkauf to Stiletto Storytime as she travels the world wide web on her exclusive BookTrib Blog Tour sharing  her latest masterpiece One Breath AwayThe excerpt above is just a tiny taste of what this amazing work has to offer and more can be found throughout her tour with each stop hosting excerpts, exclusive author posts and even a few giveaways. Make sure to follow her tour here. Trust me this is an author you’ll want to meet and a book you won’t want to miss.

As a reader I first fell in love with Heather’s writing when I reviewed her novel These Things Hidden  just last year. I was completely drawn into her style in a way that surprised even me. I usually don’t find myself so taken in by modern day contemporary fiction. But within a few chapters I was hooked and the book was finished within hours because I simply had to know what happened next. As I read I found myself  amazed at her ability to make me not only completely hypnotized by her writing but also left utterly breathless with it’s unseen literary twists and turns.

When approached about hosting her for One Breath Away I jumped at the chance. I just couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for readers with her next book. And I promise she does not disappoint. One Breath Away is a beautifully balanced  collection of characters and their personal experiences during an event that is all too relevant in our time and truly a mother’s worst nightmare. Just imagine your child is at school when a man with a gun enters and changes your life forever. Worst of all…is the lack of information. Who is this man? What does he want? Is your child safe?

In an event surrounded by mystery Gudenkauf takes readers into the world of small town America and it’s worst nightmare. She uses multiple characters and view points to paint a picture that ever so slowly reveals the past, present and future that surrounds this one event and the people involved. The result is storytelling that flows so well it seems effortless and yet every piece of the puzzle is placed thoughtfully just where it goes. Attention to detail is seen within every word.

So without further ado. Welcome Heather to Stiletto Storytime…

 What draws you to write suspenseful women’s fiction? 

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child – yes, I was one of those kids who did a fist pump whenever the teacher assigned a writing project -but as is typical with most writers, I was and am, first and foremost an avid reader. As a child my favorite place in the world was our public library and I spent as much time as possible with my nose in a book. I loved mysteries and plowed my way through all the Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew Mystery books. One of my favorite mystery series growing up was The Boxcar Children which I recently learned was originally published in 1924. I read all the books that were available when I was a child, and again as an adult I read them to my own children with enthusiasm. Who can resist a story about a tight knit set of orphaned siblings, an abandoned boxcar, a dog, and the mystery surrounding a long lost grandfather?

As I got older, I continued to enjoy mystery and suspense novels but my interests expanded to a variety of genres, including books that explored the intricacies of the human heart: Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Elizabeth Berg’s Pull of the Moon, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and so many moreI’ve always admired the way writers could take me away to different places and times through the written word. I knew I wanted to try my hand at writing but didn’t sit down and seriously begin until after I was married and had my children.  But when I did, I remembered all the stories and books I’ve read through the years, remembered how deftly authors could arrange the words on a page to be suspenseful, heart wrenching, or heart-warming – to evoke all varieties of emotion. My hope is to do the same for my readers.  ~Heather Gudenkauf

Thanks for stopping by Stiletto Storytime Heather and on a personal note- thank you very much for the character of Lucy Shelton. It’s so wonderful and sadly rare to see inclusion represented in today’s literature. As a parent of a child with autism, I thank you for remembering there are many children in our schools and each would have their own challenges in handling a situation such as what occurs in One Breath AwayBy including a character like Lucy, you help raise awareness and make people think. That is a magical thing that can truly later on down the road change how a person might perceive or react to children with autism and their parents.

 Readers: Make sure to check out One Breath Away  and Heather Gudenkauf’s other books if her writing is new to you. I have truly enjoyed each one. You can find more information on the author and her work on her website. Happy Reading!

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Filed under Adult Books, Author Interviews & Posts, Blog Tour, 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)

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, New Books

Book Birthday & Giveaway: These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

Happy Book Birthday to These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen.

Three unique young women each stand on the brink of success in life but all carry a secret that threatens to consume them and destroy any chance they may have at the achievement of their most treasured goals including the ability to be open up and forge meaningful friendships with the women around them.

In her newest novel Sarah Pekkanen explores the bonds we create with those truly special women in our lives. The ones who help make and shape who we are and who we will become, those that will catch us when we falter and play leading parts in the moments that define our lives.  These are the women who become our deepest confidantes and true chosen sisters in life.

The ever ambitious Cate seems to have all she could dream of as she ascends to the position of Features Editor at Gloss magazine but a secret from her past threatens to expose what she views as her unworthiness for this highly coveted position. Other complications arise when her boss begins to make advances towards her which not only cause office gossip but also make Cate wonder what got her her position in the first place. Will her past catch up with her or will her constant vigilance to cover her tracks allow her to keep her dream job even at the highest of costs?

Renee is a woman on a mission to not only attain her personal weight goals for her seemingly always resistant body but to also achieve what she views as an acceptable image of a woman in the New York magazine world. As an out of this world motivation she seeks to also ascend to the newly opened position of Beauty Editor at Gloss.  While attractive with a voluptuous figure that many women would covet, Renee feels the undeniable pressure to lose weight and decides no price is too high to achieve her goals and possibly attract the man of her dreams. As the numbers on the scale begin to fall so do Renee’s ability to keep a hold of reality. Who will catch her when she literally falls?

Abby is a girl on the run from her past. Deeply distraught, confused and about to completely collapse from an emotional experience of gigantic proportions, she seeks out her journalist brother Trey whom she has always found comfort with to help make things better. However this time big brother may not be able to offer the solace or compassion Abby needs. Family secrets, a lost love and a deep depression all threaten to tear Abby apart and leave her destitute without a confidante in the world. Can she truly open up to the two women who come to her rescue or will her silence keep her locked in a prison of her own making forever?

As each women battles her own past, present and future, friendship rears it’s inspirational head and bonds are formed that may rescue all if only the women can put down their barriers and trust in one another and the support that surrounds them. Powerful, moving and inspiring These Girls offers a look into the world of true female friendships allowing readers to see the power and love that can be contained within.

Sarah Pekkanen has once again created characters that are not only relatable but real in every sense of the word. These women have faults, secrets and fears that many women may share. These women represent the average reader and allow for an absolutely intimate personal reading experience.  Cate, Renee and Abby all represent a type of woman a reader might be or one they most definitely know.

Fresh, surprising and as always innovative These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen is a novel to be shared with best friends and talked over late into the night. It is a work that can strengthen bonds already formed and encourage women to take that leap of faith and discover the undeniably sacred benefits of true friendship among women. Well though out and beautifully written it is a novel of meaning and encouragement within which each woman can find not only themselves but each other.

 Book Giveaway

In celebration of the release of These Girls Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a giveaway of one copy to one very lucky reader. This giveaway will end midnight EST April 24, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please. Winner will be contacted by e-mail.

Friendship plays such a central role in These Girls. The novel really demonstrates how another person can not only support and be there for you through thick and thin but also maybe even save you at times. To enter simply share what friendship means to you or share a special friendship that you cherish in your life. Was there a time when that one amazing person or group of friends truly changed your life like Cate, Renee and Abby? Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a special friend who is always there, someone who not only is a support system but truly a person who holds a piece of your heart? Someone you feel maybe even makes you a better person when all is said and done.

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

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Tweet or Blog about this “Book Birthday” Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Filed under Adult Books, Book Birthday, Chick Lit, New Books

Guest Post & Giveaway: “Where a Novel Comes From” by Beth Gutcheon

Where a Novel Comes From
By Beth Gutcheon
Author of Gossip

In my experience, a novel accrues, over time and from many sources, with ideas and aspects seeming to light up until enough of them form a cluster that can become a story. I read a lot of biographies and I love volumes of letters because they give you authentic voices, the diction and vocabulary of a period. A major plot line in my novel Leeway Cottage came from one sentence in a book of letters by Sylvia Townsend Warner. Her fiction doesn’t speak to me at all, but her letters are brilliant and wonderfully frank and full of the daily details of a life. At one point the love of Sylvia’s life left her for a younger woman who was more beautiful and far richer than Sylvia. She bore it quietly, in spite of being devastated, because she wanted her lover’s happiness even more than she wanted her own. Eventually, Valentine came back, and Sylvia wrote to a friend this incredibly simple explanation: her rival had all the advantages, except that “I was better at loving, and being loved.”

What a thing to say, what a thing to understand.

I think Gossip started with a biography of Emily Post. I’m a longtime fan of Mrs. Post, a very witty writer and brave, self-reliant and deeply considerate woman. Etiquette books in general paint a vivid picture of changing manners and mores, but Post’s are the most fun. From her 1928 edition one learns that is shocking to allow your butler or footmen to sport facial hair of any kind. Who knows, in this Downton Abby world, when that might come in handy? (As you can infer, I find a lot of research material in second hand bookstores.) Mrs. Post is brisk and confident, but a crusader against snobbery and fussiness, and I thought I might do a character based on her, but instead turned out to use Tuxedo Park, the very grand, very early gated community where she spent much of her childhood and where she is buried. It was the perfect symbol for one of the questions the book raises: what does it mean to be an insider in society? What does it mean to choose to be an outsider? A maverick, if you will? By society, I mean any group that sets the tone for a community, be it the local grange in a farming village, or Mrs. Astor’s Four Hundred.

This is real life, but it is also Edith Wharton territory, of course; so many of her New York plots are turned by the terrible power of social judgments and gossip. But in Wharton’s world, and in Mrs. Post’s, there is a recognized social standard and body of opinion. Our world is very different. The true purpose of manners, according to Emily — I think of her as Emily, since she feels to me like a friend — is to treat others with consideration and kindness and avoid making people uncomfortable. In my mother’s youth, good manners required addressing people formally unless you were truly familiars. When she insisted, though, on calling my friends “Mrs. Todd” or “Mr. West” although she was 35 years older than we and we were wearing blue jeans with our hair down to here, it didn’t seem polite, it just seemed weird, really a protest or rebuke, if not actually to us, then to the world for changing and shifting the ground beneath her feet.

So the deal with manners is not propriety, but kindness. Which reminded me of the “Iago question,” which you hear a lot about if you’re an English major. What is his motive, why is he evil? Does he even know? He does seem to be one of the few characters in literature or life who actually knows that he’s mean. So I re-read Othello, and Othello led me again to the subject of gossip, or rather to the fact that knowledge is power, and words are weapons. I began to think of a modern character who winds up doing something like what Iago does, but in such a way that we understand what she thinks she’s doing when she does it. You almost never meet with pure malice outside of a mental ward, but you certainly all the time meet with people who do casual harm to others while feeling swell about themselves, and that seemed like a proper subject for a novel.

But is that really where this particular novel came from? I think we all wonder why some things lodge in memory when we forget so much else; someone once told me we remember moments when we learned things. Here’s a moment from when I was about seven. The subject of rumor had come up, maybe in life, maybe in a book. My mother told us about the girl who went to confession because she’d said something untrue about somebody else. The priest said that as a penance, she was to go outside, cut open a feather pillow, and empty it on the breeze. Then she was to retrieve all the feathers. I remember my childhood bedroom, blue wallpaper, my sister’s horseshow ribbons on a string above the mantel, the clock on the wall in the shape of a black and white cat with eyes and tail that went back and forth as it ticked, and that story.

Beth Gutcheon, author of Gossipis the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.

For more information please visit her author website and follow the author on Facebook.

  Book Giveaway 

Today at Stiletto Storytime we are not only honored to have author Beth Gutcheon visiting and sharing with us but we also have a copy of Gossip available to one lucky reader. Giveaway ends midnight EST on April 14, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please. Winner will be selected by random number generator and notified by e-mail.

To enter simply comment below and share a memory, person or event that you think might be the starting place for a novel. I loved Beth’s description of her childhood memory about the girl who rips the pillow case and releases the feathers like gossip goes out into the world and can truly never be reversed just as every feather can never be replaced. It’s such a striking image in one’s mind.

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

Like Author Beth Gutcheon on Facebook

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Blog Tour: The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

  “Marissa Rogers never wanted to be an alpha; beta suited her just fine. Taking charge without taking credit had always paid off: vaulting her to senior editor at a glossy magazine; keeping the peace with her critical, weight-obsessed mother; and enjoying the benefits of being best friends with gorgeous, charismatic, absolutely alpha Julia Ferrar.

And then Julia gets hit by a cab. She survives with minor obvious injuries, but brain damage steals her memory and alters her personality, possibly forever. Suddenly, Marissa is thrown into the role of alpha friend. As Julia struggles to regain her memory- dredging up issues Marissa would rather forget, including the fact that Julia asked her to abandon the love of her life ten years ago- Marissa’s own equilibrium is shaken.

With the help of a dozen girls, she reluctantly agrees to coach in an after-school running program. There, Marissa uncovers her inner confidence and finds the courage to reexamine her past and take control of her future.

The Art of Forgetting is a story about the power of friendship, the memories and myths that hold us back, and the delicate balance between forgiving and forgetting.”

Marissa and Julia have been best friends since their high school years and are now tackling NYC on their quest to take over the world. However Marissa seemed to always take a backseat to the glamourous “tiny dancer” Julia. Marissa struggling with insecurities always seems to end up being the “nice one” while Julia charges ahead in life; glamourous, confident and often a bit selfish. But what happens when one of them is changed forever in a horrific accident? Will their friendship survive or will it too change completely in every way? Readers are kept constantly guessing….

What truly happens when your best friend is no longer your best friend? What  if the girl you’ve loved and known most your life is suddenly changed into a completely different person with little memory of your past lives together? She can’t remember the laughs you shared, the trouble you caused or even the promises that you made. A promise so deep it may have cost one of you the love of your life. In this novel where one breathtaking moment changes all emerges the story of a questionable friendship and the knowledge of just how deep love can run.

I really enjoyed reading and thinking about this book. Most of all I think was the ambiguity of the characters and circumstances. Often one was torn over whose side to take and who to root for. A somewhat un-relatable character whose life is changed forever by a tragic accident is hard to despise at times but a character who has sacrificed again and again is also hard to deny. This back and forth made the novel more intriguing to me and offered depth I was not expecting. Toss in a love triangle written so well with characterization of great skill and talent and you have a novel meant to be read slowly and enjoyed deeply. Did I mention the cover of this book is absolutely stunning?

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Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop with Stiletto Storytime. This giveaway hop I decided to do something special and work with one of my favorite authors to help bring you a copy of her latest book that will release in August 2011…a great read just in time for late summer. So who is that author and what book do you have a chance to win for your library? Well…

Wendy DelSol is the author of the fantastic young adult novel Stork and the soon to come sequel Frost which will release on October 11, 2011. Keep a watch for a review of Frost soon to come on Stiletto Storytime! In the meantime the ever busy Wendy is releasing another book The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls and she has been generous enough to offer one Stiletto Storytime reader their very own signed copy! The winner will have a choice of an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) now or a trade copy after publication in August.

Just leave a comment to enter and check back on Saturday, June 25th when I will announce the winner and feature a full review of the book. Giveaway ends midnight EST June 24, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address as well. 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

Be/Become a Follower of Author Wendy DelSol on Twitter

The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls, once a haven for unwed mothers, is now a bed-and-breakfast that houses three generations of women-and their many secrets…

In the early 1960s, Ruby, a spunky unwed teen mother was wooed and won over by the founder of the McCloud Home. Now, forty years later, the historic property has been converted into an inn that Ruby runs with one of her daughters, Jill. When Jill’s fourteen-year-old daughter begins to search for the identity of her father, she sets in motion events that will test the bonds that bind mothers, daughters, and sisters.

Jill unwittingly aids the forces of upheaval when she agrees to host the wake of the town matriarch. As the guests-including the matriarch’s handsome nephew and Jill’s vivacious, irresponsible sister Jocelyn-return to the small town, the convergence of people and memories uncovers rivalries, sparks romance, recalls heartbreak, and reveals a shocking family secret, one that could separate the McCloud women forever or lead them to the renewal of their powerful, enduring connection. “

*And don’t forget…it’s a Giveaway Hop so hop over to all the other great blogs here*

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Review: The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

    “Dear Anna,

What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I’m so sorry…

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle’s suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle—her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family—described a woman who embraced life.

Yet there was so much they didn’t know.

With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle’s friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives—and the life of a desperate stranger—with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.”

It’s a story of friendship, secrets and in some ways an ultimate betrayal but one thing Diane Chamberlain’s latest work is not is predictable. Chamberlain has that unique talent of making you think that you have the whole plot figured out….as if it will flow in predictably good fashion all along and then wham! She gets you but only in a good way. She takes her characters and their lives and makes them more than you could have ever imagined before you turned the page.

Friendships play a large role in this work especially those between women as both friends and relatives. We see the highs and lows of both represented, the inside jokes and the darker moments too. As we get multiple points of views from an all female narrating cast, we are given a glimpse into each character’s head, personality and life. This is where Chamberlain truly excels as a writer. Her character formation is superb. Her characters are real, 3D, lovable and able to be despised at the same time…she also is very talented with writing multi-generational characters. Chamberlain’s voice rings true both as a teenage and a middle aged adult. Her voice as angry teen Grace rings true as an angry teen not a writer trying to sound like an angry teenage girl. A feat not easily done well.

In the end The Midwife’s Confession is an addictive read that will draw you in until the last page has been turned. A calm, structured voice with smoothly written prose, Chamberlain enchants while her characters take center stage. A perfect book for a lazy afternoon or a day at the beach.

Book Giveaway

Thanks to the generosity of Meryl L. Ross Media and Mira Books, one Stiletto Storytime winner will win their very own copy of The Midwife’s Confession. To enter just leave a comment telling if you have ever kept a secret from a close friend/family member or vice versa? Secrets and friendships play such a vital role in this book. No intimate details needed. Just let us know where you stand on secrets between friends/family and when not to share or always share….it will be interesting to see where everyone stands before reading this book.

Giveaway ends midnight EST June 1, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. 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

Be/Become a Follower of Author Diane Chamberlain on Twitter

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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:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower Author Meg Waite Clayton on Twitter

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