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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I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall

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I am thrilled to be sharing Kate Alice Marshall’s new release I Am Still Alive today. This is a heartwrenching tale of strength, survival and one young girl’s determination to overcome the odds stacked against her, and it captivated me from the very first page.

The Book

I am still Alive coverI Am Still Alive
By Kate Alice Marshall
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780425290989
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

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Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.

Jess is stranded in the woods. She has few supplies and only her dog for company. Her survival skills are limited, and she has disabilities that make physical labor a challenge. And winter is on its way. How did she get here?

Alternating between the past and the present, this tightly-paced novel tells the story of a girl who survived a car crash that killed her mother, then was pulled from foster care and sent to live with her estranged survivalist father in the remote Canadian wilderness. Jess was just beginning to get to know her dad when a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving their cabin burned to the ground and Jess’s father dead. Now, Jess must fight with everything she has to forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. But she will survive. She has to survive. Because she wants revenge.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository


My Thoughts

Every now in then, I love to deviate from my normal reading habits and explore something different. I knew immediately upon reading the synopsis for I Am Still Alive that this was the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. And it proved to be a solid reminder of why it pays to explore books!

I A Still Alive_Aesthetic.pngPhotos above are not owned by me and were obtained via Pinterest.

This is Jess’s story. She has had her life turned upside down and finds herself dealing with the loss of her mother and an injury that has left her with very limited use of one leg and disfigured after a terrible car accident. When she is sent to live with her off the grid and estranged father in a remote part of the Canadian wilderness, her life spirals further out of control as men from his shady past come to collect a debt he cannot pay. As Jess remains hidden in the nearby woods, he is shot and killed while her only remaining home is burned to the ground. Now, alone and stranded with no means to seek help, she must fight for her very existence. But Jess wants more than survival, she wants revenge.

Kate Alice Marshall’s delivers an outstanding tale in the form of a brilliant protagonist. Jess presents as very pragmatic and relatable, establishing an effortless connection with the reader that only strengthens as the story unfolds. Each decision, response, setback, and accomplishment feel viable, convincingly exposing the reader to Jess’s solitary trials. I never found myself doubting or questioning her feelings or actions, I simply felt for her and with her.

The plot unfolds at a consistent pace that makes for a fast read. We are shown what is happening instead of being spoonfed unnecessary details and the result is an immersive experience that draws the reader in and feels complete. If I were to mention any possible issues with I Am Still Alive, it would be that I had anticipated more of a revenge-oriented tale based on the blurb. However, I was not disappointed as Jess proved to be an unexpected heroine who evolved beautifully. I was with her each step of the way. And therein lies the true reward of this survival tale.

I Am Still Alive manages to deliver on multiple fronts with an unlikely protagonist and a successful survival story. Offering a unique before and after narrative and quick pace, it proves that strength truly comes from within and is not to be limited to physical abilities.

TW: Grief, loss, disabilities, violence and some graphic scenes with animals.

tea cup
This is another book I paired with an earthier blend. I enjoyed it with a Pu-erh tea that had a hint of cocoa.


KateMarshallPhoto About The Author

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She works in the gaming industry as a writer and designer, most recently focusing on educational games for kids of all ages. She spends her winters cheerfully avoiding the rain, and during the summer ventures out to kayak and camp along Puget Sound. As Kate Marshall, her short fiction has appeared in venues such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Crossed Genres.


I would like to thank Penguin and Viking Books for my copy and allowing me to participate in the tour today. The above review is my own honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy Reading,

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Sunday Sum~ Up

Sunday Sum_Up (1)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer that I am linking my Sunday Sum-Ups with. Stop by and say hello!

This past week has been mostly quiet. Work was work and the house was mainly mine as the nonhubs has been in Florida, my son Ohio and my daughter had work. I did receive my scan results back and was not cleared for activity. So I am to remain on restrictions until the neurosurgeon can see me. I am frustrated with the lack of activity and climbing walls (also internally nervous but trying to play it cool), but remaining optimistic that the surgeon will have better news. In the meantime, I am just reading more! But I would be lying if I did not admit how sick I am of lying in this house 😉

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I did actually finish my newsletter on time and it did go out today. If you are interested in signing up, you can do so here or via the link on the sidebar. I currently include highlights and blog updates with a monthly blogger and tea featured. But I am working to expand the content. So please feel free to drop a line in the comments or via the contact form if you have a request or suggestions!


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What I Am Reading This Week

ramona blueRamona Blue
By Julie Murphy

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Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.


Other Happenings

This was another week of reviews as I continue to “try” to catch up. I am laughing as I type this because I think we all know that “trying to catch up” is my perpetual state of existence. But I am very excited about some upcoming reads and sharing them with you.

“I am reading six books at once, the only way of reading; since, as you will agree, one book is only a single unaccompanied note, and to get the full sound, one needs ten others at the same time.” 
~Virginia Woolf

I am a multi-reader! Do you read more than one book at a time? I can often be caught with 3 or more books open and lying around. What’s on your nightstand this week?

Let’s Chat,

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