Jan 20, 2009

The Sinner's Guide to Confession by Phyllis Schieber

Nikki Leigh contacted me about hosting Phyllis Schieber and her novel, The Sinner's Guide to Confession, and I was pleased to do so. Stay tuned for information about how you can win your own copy of The Sinner's Guide to Confession.

The novel is follows longtime friends Kaye and Barbara, who are now in their fifties. Kaye and Barbara soon make friends with Ellen, who is several years younger, but their friendship solidifies and becomes close-knit. The three women are inseparable, but each nurtures a secret.

The alternating narrators for the chapters keeps the reader guessing as to when the friends will break down all of the walls between them and share their deepest secrets. From a romance novelist hiding her alternate career as an erotica writer to a married woman having a long-term, passionate affair. Readers will appreciate the perspective Justine, Barbara's daughter, provides to Kaye and Barbara's relationship. The friendship between these women is long standing and much of the story focuses on their relationships with one another as well as their relationships with the men in their lives. The novel may be considered an older woman's chicklit book, but it has more substance.

Of the three women, Ellen's story was the most heart-wrenching and deeply moving. Readers learn early on about Ellen's secret, but as her chapters unfold, the devastation of one decision she makes early on in her life has significant impact on how her life unfolds. Ellen's decision establishes her reactions and interactions with others, her husband, and her friends. It's amazing how a decision not completely in her control molded her into the woman readers see in the beginning pages of this novel. Ellen is afraid of making decisions, hides behind the confidence brought by her false eyelashes, and holds deep grudges against her parents.

The intricate relationships between these characters are intense, and the relationships with each family member provides a realistic glimpse into the dynamics of family. Each member plays a specific role in how the family operates, and these women are central to those families.

About the Author Phyllis Schieber:

The first great irony of my life was that I was born in a Catholic hospital. My parents, survivors of the Holocaust, had settled in the South Bronx among other new immigrants. In the mid-fifties, my family moved to Washington Heights. The area offered scenic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, as well as access to Fort Tryon Park and the mysteries of the Cloisters. I graduated from George Washington High School. I graduated from high school at sixteen, went on to Bronx Community College, transferred to and graduated from Herbert H. Lehman College with a B.A. in English and a New York State license to teach English. I earned my M.A. in Literature from New York University and later my M.S. as a developmental specialist from Yeshiva University. I have worked as a high school English teacher and as a learning disabilities specialist. My first novel , Strictly Personal, for young adults, was published by Fawcett-Juniper. Willing Spirits was published by William Morrow. My most recent novel, The Sinner's Guide to Confession, was released by Berkley Putnam. In March 2009, Berkley Putnam will issue the first paperback publication of Willing Spirits.

Giveaway Details:

Win A Free Book from Phyllis Schieber - Its very easy to be entered in a drawing for a FREE book by Phyllis Schieber.

Post comments on any blogs during the virtual tour and you will have a chance to win a book from Phyllis.

One random person will win - but we are also asking visitors to share a secret and one secret will also win a free book. As a bonus the blog owner that hosted the winning comments will also win a book.

Share some interesting stories and questions with Phyllis Schieber during her tour - and have a chance to win a book.

Schieber's Virtual Tour Stops

Reading Guide for Sinner's Guide to Confession

***Also stop by Tomorrow, Jan. 21, for my interview with Phyllis Schieber***


Phyllis Schieber said...

I enjoyed your review of THE SINNER'S GUIDE TO CONFESSION, especially your comment that while it might be considered "chick lit" for older women (I still can't think of myself as an "older woman" though I suppose I am!), the story has more substance. I am consistently surprised by the chick lit concept, but I guess it is a label that resonates with readers. Is it because of the sex?
Regardless, I am delighted that your review focused more on the intricacies of the relationships between the women, the men in their lives, their children, and the drama that is synonymous with family.
I appreciate your thoughtful observations about the characters and their conflicts--both internal and external.

Serena said...


Not a problem. I think the fact that books about women looking for men or having issues with men are considered ChickLit. Your novel has more substance. I love the relationships between the women, their children, and their husbands/lovers.

There is a great deal going on in the book. I'm glad you liked the review.

I'm sure you will have a bunch of other positive reviews. I can't wait to see readers' responses to this review and the interview tomorrow.

Phyllis Schieber said...

Thanks for defining "ChickLit" for me! I had no idea. And thanks for reinforcing that there is much more going on in this book than the on-going battle of the sexes!
I'll look forward to the readers' responses and hope they are all as positive and constructive as your comments.

Serena said...

I don't really like the plain vanilla ChickLit at all. I like the ones with more substance...like your novel and Off the Menu by Christine Son.

Phyllis Schieber said...

I'm writing down the title immediately!

ddurance said...

Ooh, I do love secrets! Let's see...what can I share that won't leave me so embarrassed that I could never show my cyber face again? LOL
Okay, I'm basically a wife and mother, pretty normal, practically a soccer mom, except the kids don't actually play soccer. LOL
I feel like I'm a closet goth, a weird freaky girl who loves black, vampires and the monster under the bed.
Shhh! Don't tell anyone.


Phyllis Schieber said...

I love your description of yourself, Deidre: "closet goth." That's perfect! I promise not to tell anyone. Thanks for sharing!

Serena said...

Deidre: Fantastic secret. I am a closet goth as well...shhh

Phyllis Schieber said...

I had to laugh out loud! Maybe there is a little "closet goth" in all of us!

Serena said...

Perhaps there is. I hope you enjoy Off the Menu. I loved that book.

Phyllis Schieber said...

I'll let you know!

Anna said...

My tour date is at the end of the month, so I'll be starting the book soon. It sounds like a great read, and I can't wait. Your review makes me wish I'd brought the book with me for the afternoon commute. :)

Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Well darn it anna...get on it! LOL

Literary Feline said...

This does sound good, Serena. I will have to add it to my wish list. It also sounds like something my mother-in-law would really like. I can start making my Mother's Day gift list early this year. :-)

Let's see . . . A secret about myself. This is a really silly one. I can't think of anything life altering at the moment that I haven't shared with someone. Sometimes I knowingly wear different unmatched socks under my boots. I have a couple of pair where I'm missing the mates and so I interchange them, even though they are different colors. I figure no one will notice. ;-)

naida said...

great review serena! this does sound like a good book.

Phyllis Schieber said...

Hi, Anna, I'm sorry you didn't have a copy for your commute. A good read always makes a trip faster,and I hope SINNER'S is a good read!

Phyllis Schieber said...

Oh, Literary Feline, how do you know I love cats. My baby girl is 14, and we adore her. She rules the house, and she rules us. And I love the idea of the book as a gift for your mother-in-law, but I hope you will read the book as well and share your thoughts. As for your secret, well, you really know how to take a chance!
Thank you for sharing.

Phyllis Schieber said...

Hi, Naida. . . now I'll be like Serena and tell you to hurry up and get the book and read it! Thanks, Serena for the great review and your enthusiastic support!

Dar said...

Great review Serena. I've seen this one about a bit. Another for my wishlist. lol.

Serena said...

Dar: Have I made the wishlist grow again! LOL Don't forget to check out my interview with Phyllis.

Phyllis Schieber said...

How nice, Dar, thaat I can be part of such an easy wish! And many thanks to Serena for encouraging such a wish with her insightful review and interesting questions.

Becca said...

This is my favorite kind of novel, and since I fit the demographic perfectly, I'm very keen to read it!

As for secrets - will a secret desire do? I've always harbored a secret wish to be a race car driver ;) zoom zoom!

Serena said...

Becca: I have a friend who I think would make a great race car driver...lol Great secret desire.

Phyllis Schieber said...

A race car driver! I don't know if that qualifies as a secret, but it's a cool fantasy! As for demographics, well, I love that you're "keen" to read the book based on that, so let me know what you think of the women in SINNER'S. Thanks!

S. Krishna said...

This book sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!