Guest Post: No Saber Tooth Tigers Allowed by Samantha Sotto

***First, I want to call attention to my poll in the left sidebar about my best of list at the end of the year.  I’m trying to gauge interest in it.  Please take a moment to weigh in.

I LOVED Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto so much, I just had to have her on the blog!  She was kind enough to stop by my review of her book, which I LOVED (OK, maybe I already said that, but if you don’t believe me, read my review; if you want other opinions, check out the TLC Book Tour stops) and friend me on Facebook, which I can now use to keep track of her latest books!

Today, she’s going to share with you her writing space, well the space she writes in since writing her first book, Before Ever After, in a coffee shop.  Enough from me, let me turn it over to Samantha.

No Saber Tooth Tigers Allowed

The oldest known cave art can be found in the Chauvet cave in France. The most common cave paintings are of large wild animals. One theory behind this theme is that it was meant to magically help increase the number of animals the cavemen hunted. Hmm…now if I could only figure out how I could make that work in writing caves. I’d probably doodle something like this:

I wrote Before Ever After at the same table at Starbucks over the course of a year. Now that I’ve started writing my second book, I’ve switched venues. (This novel is an entirely different beast from my first one. For starters, it has bigger horns – and it knows how to use them. I am presently firmly skewered onto one of them and am unable to budge from chapter twenty-two. But enough about the-novel-that-is-slurping-my-brain-out-with-a-straw. This post is about caves. And magic.)

The cavemen were on to something when they lived in caves. Caves sheltered them from the elements and made them feel safe. Inside them, they didn’t have to worry about being eaten alive or drowning in tar pits.

There are arguably less life-threatening dangers surrounding us today, but one doesn’t need the threat of a horrible death to need sanctuary. Whether it’s a quiet place to put our feet up and inhale cupcakes or a spot to hunker down with the iPad and break our Angry Birds record, we need to stake out a little corner of the Earth for ourselves, even for just a little while. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It simply has to be large enough to stretch our legs and spirits – without leaving any room for guilt. In this magical cave, for a stolen moment, it’s okay to not care about anyone but yourself.

Today, I thought it would be fun to take a field trip to my current cave. It’s perfect for hiding out from large predators, wrestling, er, writing second novels while the kiddos are in school, and exhaling. If that isn’t magical, I don’t know what is.

Thanks, Samantha, for sharing your writing space with us. I just love those shelves and all those great windows.

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

“Eggs and engagements.  Though slightly odd, they were a harmless pairing on most days, even with a greasy pile of bacon on the side.  But today was not like most days, because in less than an hour, they would make Shelley Gallus a twenty-six-year-old widow” (page 3 of ARC)

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto is a debut novel that seemingly asks readers to suspend disbelief as Shelley Gallus discovers that her deceased husband, Max, may not have died three years ago and that he may in fact not ever age.  Oh, and he has a grandson, Paolo, from Italy who is now about 30 years old.  However, Sotto weaves her story with such beautiful prose that readers are immediately captivated and drawn into Shelley’s grief and her shock.  There is no conscious need to suspend disbelief, and readers will not even notice that they are doing it.

“Shelley’s ability to go through the motions wasn’t surprising considering that she had been schooled by the best. Her mom had never quite gotten over the death of her own husband, and Shelley grew up watching her paint on the brightest smile with a berry shade of Revlon lipstick. There had been days when her happiness had seemed so real, so genuine, that Shelley had almost believed it.” (Page 7 of ARC)

Death can leave a terrible emptiness in someone, especially when the person who dies is so ingrained and integral to their lives.  Sotto’s novel is more than a look a grief or the secrets spouses keep from one another; it is a journey through history that takes Shelley and Paolo through several countries and sheds light on Max’s past.  The narration shifts from present to immediate past (about five years ago when Max and Shelley first meet) to the distant past as Max recounts history in France, Austria, Slovenia, and other places.

In a way, Sotto’s prose is like traveling back in time, and while the main characters of Shelley, Max, and Paolo do not figure in those historical tales, readers never forget them or get confused.  The transitions between each time frame are seamless and almost fairytale like.  Shelley blossoms in this story from a young woman running away from the death of her parents (one literal and one figurative) only to assume a lifeless existence in London in advertising.  Her one shining moment is taking a trip through Europe on a whim — where of course she meets Max who teachers her to overcome her fears and take a leap of faith.

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto bends time, and readers will stand on the precipice of each tale holding their breath as more of Max is revealed.  Tortured souls, romance, travel, mystery, and more are wrapped in between these pages.  Sotto has a good grasp of time and its hold on us, how we think about the past, hover over it with a magnifying glass, and torture ourselves with our longings and past errors.  A strong debut from a compelling mind that captures readers’ imaginations from page one.  A treasure to unearth in the waning days of summer that very well could be one of the best reads of the year.

About the Author:

SAMANTHA SOTTO fell in love with Europe’s cobbled streets and damp castles when she moved to the Netherlands as a teenager. Since then, she has spent nights huddled next to her backpack on a beach in Greece, honeymooned in Paris, and attended business meetings in Dusseldorf in the pleasant company of a corporate credit card. Before Ever After was inspired by her experiences living, studying, and traveling in Europe. Samantha lives in the Philippines with her family. This is her first novel.

For more info on Samantha and Before Ever After, check out her website, her blog, her Facebook page, and Twitter.


For the other stops on the blog tour, check out the TLC Book Tours site.



This is my 44th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #134 and Library Loot #5

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon at the right to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is A Sea of Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailboxmeme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto from Shelf Awareness.

2.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax from Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting for review in the fall.

3.  Whiplash by Catherine Coulter, which my husband found in our Sam’s Club cart; I’ll probably give this one to my mom since it’s more her cup of tea.

4. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison from Shelf Awareness.

These are from the library sale, only one for me though:

5. Dubliners by James Joyce

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

7. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

8. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

9. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

11. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Library Loot:

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

12. Toys by James Patterson & Neil McMahon

13.  If I Stay Gayle Forman

14.  Where She Went by Gayle Forman

What did you receive this week?