The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

summerthatmeltedeverythingThe Summer That Melted Everything
By Tiffany McDaniel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN: 9781250131676
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction

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Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984:
the year a heatwave scorched the small town of Breathed, Ohio.
The year he became friends with the devil.

When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed, Ohio, nobody quite expected that he would turn up. They especially didn’t expect him to turn up a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy.

Fielding, the son of Autopsy, finds the boy outside the courthouse and brings him home, and he is welcomed into the Bliss family. The Blisses believe the boy, who calls himself Sal, is a runaway from a nearby farm town. Then, as a series of strange incidents implicate Sal — and riled by the feverish heatwave baking the town from the inside out — there are some around town who start to believe that maybe Sal is exactly who he claims to be.

But whether he’s a traumatised child or the devil incarnate, Sal is certainly one strange fruit: he talks in riddles, his uncanny knowledge and understanding reaches far outside the realm of a normal child — and ultimately his eerily affecting stories of Heaven, Hell, and earth will mesmerise and enflame the entire town.

Devastatingly beautiful, The Summer That Melted Everything is a captivating story about community, redemption, and the dark places where evil really lies.


My Thoughts

It seems appropriate to be reviewing a book titled The Summer That Melted Everything as I sit here drenched in our living room watching the thermostat slowly crawl towards 90. My only complaint would be the obvious fact that it is way too hot and that I postponed reading this book for way too long. I did have the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany. You can check that out here.

Read the synopsis and then read the book. I am not going to spend my time dissecting and recapping the plot (because I am recommending this to all) but rather explaining to you why this unexpected gem spoke to my most inner core not only as a reader but as someone who grew up in the surrounding area of which this story unfolds.

“A foolish mistake, it is, to expect the best, because sometimes, sometimes, it is the flower’s turn to own the name.”

It is hard to narrow down the success of The Summer The Melted Everything to one specific attribute, but if I were challenged to do so, I would give credit to its endearing and quirky cast of characters. Told from 13 yr old Fielding Bliss’s perspective, we are introduced to an ensemble that ranges from a young boy Sal who claims to be the devil to eccentric, often close-minded citizens of the town. I soon discovered a solid affection for Fielding and each in their own personal way. They are flawed, facing internal struggles and present a range of moral questions and dilemmas. They also feel viable and familiar. I found that it was easy to attach characteristics of each to my own acquaintances and family.

“This was what law and order looked like in Breathed. A house with a termite problem that made the gray boards like stewed wood.”

The setting of Breathed is based upon the area in which I grew up, Southern Ohio. And being a product of the 80s, I found myself immediately immersed into a world and summer that I knew. Every page offered recognizable aspects ranging from surroundings and dialogue to the behavior and mannerisms of the town folk.  The author spent her childhood summer’s in Southeastern Ohio and it is evidenced by her knowledge and presentation of each. The result is an enveloping and almost tangible experience that whisked me back to my own summer days.

McDaniel delivers her story with a prose that is lyrical and jarring at the same time. Carrying the reader through a triumphantly emotional tale that evokes an incredible range of feelings and questions. The entire process is highly impactful and heart-wrenching yet unfolds with tremendous ease due to her seamless pacing and narration.

“All love leads to cannibalism. I know that now. Sooner or later, our hearts will devour, if not the object of our affections, our very selves.”

The Summer That Melted Everything is an incredible exploration of humanity’s ugliness presented in perhaps the most stunning fashion I have ever encountered. Tiffany McDaniel addresses themes that include racism, a failing legal system, homophobia, the aids epidemic and religion in a poetic and nostalgic manner. With an authentic voice, she hands the reader the necessary elements of the familiar, quickly establishing a successfully strong message that speaks resolutely to the heart of good versus evil and the battle against intolerance.

TW: Includes themes and content that address racism, homophobia, violence, suicide and intolerance.

*I was gifted a copy of this book from the author. The above review is my own, honest and unbiased opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs beautifully with an iced cold sweetened black tea and twist of lemon.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

36039814The Queen of Sorrow (The Queens of Renthia #3)
By Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Harper Voyager
ISBN: 9780062413383
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy

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The battle between vicious spirits and strong-willed queens that started in the award-winning The Queen of Blood and continued in the powerful The Reluctant Queen comes to a stunning conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the final volume of Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy.

Queen Daleina has yearned to bring peace and prosperity to her beloved forest home—a hope that seemed doomed when neighboring forces invaded Aratay. Now, with the powerful Queen Naelin ruling by her side, Daleina believes that her dream of ushering in a new era can be realized, even in a land plagued by malevolent nature spirits who thirst for the end of human life.

And then Naelin’s children are kidnapped by spirits.

Nothing is more important to her than her family, and Naelin would rather watch the world burn than see her children harmed. Blaming the defeated Queen Merecot of Semo for the kidnapping, Naelin is ready to start a war—and has the power to do it.

But Merecot has grander plans than a bloody battle with her southern neighbors. Taking the children is merely one step in a plot to change the future of all Renthia, either by ending the threat of spirits once and for all . . . or plunging the world into chaos.


My Thoughts

The Queens of Renthia is one of the top fantasy series that I am quick to recommend when fans of the genre are looking for something new. How I encounter so many that have yet to explore Durst’s world of elemental spirits and venturesome queens is beyond me.  This is a recipe that has continued to work beautifully. The Queen of Sorrow proves just that.

The skinny..

Picking up after The Reluctant Queen, we find Naelin now learning to adapt to her new role on the throne aside Queen Daleina in Aratay. Having stopped Queen’s Merecot’s invasion, the two work to restore peace and prosperity to the land. But when Queen Naelin’s children are abducted by vicious spirits, it soon becomes apparent that Merecot still has a plan up her sleeve. Willing to risk everything for the sake of her own, Naelin’s retaliation could mean war. Will Aratay find themselves pitted against Semo’s ruler in a deadly battle or will Merecot’s plans to forever alter Renthia succeed for good or bad?

“I am not just a woodswoman. I am a woman of the woods. I am the queen.”

What I appreciated..

  • This series continues to evolve in the most phenomenal ways. With each new resolution, we uncover new complications and plots among the thrones.
  • Sarah Beth Durst’s writing remains consistent, meeting expectations and broadening them with each encounter.
  • Dynamic character relationships and growth that offer complexity and internal struggles that drive the story equally alongside the plot.
  • Conflicts that incorporate moral values and a solid sense of the responsibility and challenges that come with leadership and control.
  • World building that is immersive and lush. Each story expands Renthia and invites the reader to explore.
  • A magic system that implements nature and spirits intelligently and feels complete.
  • A fulfilling conclusion that shows the author understands her readers.

“My feet won’t touch the forest floor until it has stories to tell me. I am not done with the trees yet.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • There were a few characters that could have been developed further such as Bayn and his backstory.
  • Queen Daleina seemed to fall to the wayside at times which in part made sense, but was slightly disappointing since this was the completion of a trilogy.
  • It’s over. Can I count that? I am counting that.

The Queen of Sorrow was a beautiful conclusion to a solid fantasy series that is hard to say goodbye to. The author has created a world and magic system that coexist and are interdependent in the best of ways. Character growth is rewarding and each new addition welcomed. I will be anticipating Sarah Beth Durst’s future works and continue to recommend this series with ease.

*I would like to thank Harper Voyager and Edelweiss for this advanced copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs well with a nice earthy Pu-erh blend.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A McKillip

34330548The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
By Patricia A McKillip
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: Tachyon Publications
Pages: 240
Genre: Fantasy

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Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit—and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is one of the true classics of fantasy literature.


My Thoughts

As a fan of the fantasy genre, Patricia A McKillip and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld have both been on my radar for a few years. I cannot honestly say why it has taken me this long to explore them. But better late than never, or as they say, all good things come in time. 

The skinny..

Sybil is an enchantress who lives a life of solitude in the forest among her enchanted beasts. When she is left to care for and raise a male child, she is exposed to the world of men, politics, love, loneliness, and deceit. She finds herself questioning her own power and needs. I am refraining from further explanation here, as I cannot recommend exploring this one enough.

“You can weave your life so long — only so long, and then a thing in the world out of your control will tug at one vital thread and leave you patternless and subdued.”

What I appreciated..

  • An almost dreamlike prose that is beyond comparison to others. McKillip’s writing is sophisticated and immersive.
  • A slow burn examination and study of character and man represented through one woman’s maternal instincts and isolated life.
  • World building that engages the senses and solicits further exploration while refraining from the trivial and frivolous.
  • The author’s refusal to hand everything directly to the reader or rush what is best left to savor at a steady pace.
  • Brilliantly displayed themes of love, grief and personal growth.
  • The beautiful reminder that fantasy can be ever present without the need for heavy elements of action. Sometimes the adventure comes from within.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • Aside from the fact that those who do not appreciate a more leisurely pace may struggle, I really found no flaw in this.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a pristine example of why the genre is so timeless. Powerful themes, elegant narration and stunning storytelling meld beautifully into an experience worthy of more praise than one can give in a simple review.

*I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs wonderfully with a white jasmine tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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