Book Review

The Summer That Melted Everything: A must-read gothic tragedy

During the summer of 1984 in Breathed, Ohio, Autopsy Bliss invites the devil to town—and the devil actually shows up in the guise of an African American boy named Sal. Sal is befriended by Fielding Bliss, Autopsy’s youngest son and narrator of Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything.

When I picked up this innocent-looking book, I had no idea I was about to be emotionally destroyed and equally gobsmacked by the quality of writing. McDaniel’s prose is like warm maple syrup on a rainy day. Some sentences made me literally ache with their beauty.

summerSo why, oh why, did I one night wake my husband from a sound slumber by sobbing my face off? It’s been a long time since something so beautiful, so poetic, broke me into such little, scorched pieces, like torn paper in the wind. There is horror in the beauty, and although I now consider The Summer That Melted Everything one of my favorite books, I am cautious in my recommendation to others as it requires strength to accept this journey.

Summer is an important book in that it questions faith and how we perceive good versus evil. It’s important as an example of excellent literature. Summer is romantic in a strange, off-putting sort of way, and Sal’s monologues are worthy of a stage play.

And yet, there are scenes (two in particular) I can’t even think about without feeling my heart break all over again. If the writing were shit, these scenes would be simpler to overlook, but since McDaniel is a master of imagery, the emotional moments in Summer resonate with the painful toll of a funeral hymn.

We’re left asking: what power does the devil really have? What does God allow him, and how good is God anyway? Are all the catastrophes in Ohio (and the tragedy of Fielding’s life) really Sal’s fault? Is that what the devil does—his mere presence causes destruction—or is the devil in all of us, just waiting to stop by for a visit? Is Sal even the devil anyway?

I need you to understand: this book is worthy of awards. If this debut is any indication, Tiffany McDaniel’s work will one day be studied in colleges across the country. However, I suggest Summer to you at your own peril. I will keep the book forever on my crowded bookshelf as a sort of idol, but I will never read it again. I can’t go back to Breathed, Ohio, but maybe you can visit if you have the fortitude to realize that sometimes the devil is just other people.

(Buy your copy of The Summer That Melted Everything, out today, HERE. I will be featuring an interview with Tiffany on my blog Thursday!)

Bite Somebody · Sara Dobie Bauer

The BITE SOMEBODY Series Fantasy Movie Cast

BiteSomebody_finalThe BITE SOMEBODY series is full of characters. I don’t mean in the literal sense that there are lots of people running around; I mean characters, like the kind of people you don’t forget, either because they’re that weird or they’re that awesome. Depends on your POV.

Whenever I write, I base my characters on real people, usually actors, because I’d get in too much trouble if I based fictional characters on, say,  crazy relatives or that lady who talks to her cats. I digress …

So who would be in the BITE SOMEBODY series movie? You must be dying to know.


Celia Merkin, played by Felicia Day

Celia

The short story that inspired BITE SOMEBODY was first inspired by the TV show The Guild, starring Felicia Day. Although The Guild is about video game nerds, Celia is an 80s nerd, but the parallel just fit, as did the red hair requirement. True, Felicia isn’t quite as curvy as our Celia, but hey, feed her a bunch of cheeseburgers. I can’t picture anyone else playing the bumbling, newbie vamp who makes BITE SOMEBODY so hilariously awkward.

Ian Hasselback, played by Benedict Cumberbatch

Ian

I’m guilty of basing most of my male leads in some way on this beautiful British man. Of course, Ian isn’t British, but thanks to Doctor Strange, we all know Benedict can do an American accent. Ian is a laid back ex-surfer dude with huge, curly, black hair. The actor who plays him will have to infuse some levity into every situation, even while vomiting. (Ian has a weak stomach.) I’m pretty sure Benedict can pull this off, and having him naked in a bathtub doesn’t sound so bad either.

Imogene, played by Sara Dobie Bauer

Imogene

Me. Yeah, I know, I just cast myself in my fantasy film version of the BITE SOMEBODY series, but hear me out. This is not my fault. It was suggested by a first reader, very early on, that I’d accidentally based Imogene on the way I look and, yeah, okay, on my somewhat snarky and morally flexible behavior. Imogene likes boys. Imogene likes rum punches. Imogene likes combat boots and sparkly high heels, and she says whatever she’s thinking, no matter how inappropriate. If that doesn’t sound like me, then … you haven’t met me.

Lord Nicholas Christopher Cuthbert III, played by Benedict Cumberbatch

Nicholas

I know, I’m ridiculous, but Benedict is my muse, okay? Granted, it’ll be hard for him to play all the romantic male leads in the BITE SOMEBODY series, but the twins in The Parent Trap were obviously both Hayley Mills, so there. Whereas Ian is sweet and soft, Nicholas is snarky and strong. He’s red carpet Benedict with his expensive suits and impeccable grooming.

Dr. Rayna Savage, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones

kinopoisk.ru

Everything about Dr. Savage is perfect, and well, Catherine is perfect. She’s a lifelong girl crush of mine, and she’d look absolutely banging in an expensive business suit with sexy specs. Plus, she has the grace to exude that “Oh-wow-you’re-an-idiot” expression that every snotty therapist requires.

Dean the Human, played by Jensen Ackles

Dean

This one’s dedicated to my gal pal Sam. If Dr. Savage is going to have a boyfriend, why not make him gorgeous? Jensen has the pretty boy good looks and effortless charm a vampire-human relationship deserves.

Danny, played by Colin Farrell

Danny

Another hot guy? Yes. Don’t judge me! I like hot guys! For Celia’s smoldering bad boy maker, who better than this Irish stud muffin? He’s got the dark hair and eyes required to play the part, and he’s also got the attitude. He’ll look fantastic in a pinstripe suit, and we already know Colin can play a vampire thanks to Fright Night. He might actually be a vampire.

Vixen the Stripper, played by Christina Hendricks

Vixen

As Danny’s ditzy paramour, I need an actress who can play angry/crazy while rocking red hair and big boobs. Done. Plus, Christina’s overall lusciousness would really do a number on Celia’s self-esteem.

Amora Savoy, played by Penelope Cruz

Amora Savoy

To play the immortal maker of The Great Lover (Nicholas), you better be hot. Ms. Cruz is definitely hot … and maybe a bit of a bad girl. Amora is A LOT bad, but she looks and sounds super sweet. Whenever I wrote her dialogue, I heard Penelope’s cute voice talking. Plus, the woman really knows how to fill out a formal gown. Meow.

Olivier Winsome, played by Jeremy Irons

Olivier

There is nothing cuddly about this leader of a vampire watchdog organization. He loves bossing people around, especially Nicholas, and he is one ancient, ballsy dude. Ever since I saw Irons in Lolita, I’ve been equally scared and in love with this charming English gent. He seems like the kind of guy who could make you smile right before he stabs you. Warm and cuddly … but not at all? Yep, that’s Olivier.

Heidi, played by Helen Mirren

Heidi

I would partially cast Dame Helen just so my husband could meet her and hopefully get to kiss her. BUT I also love her sense of humor and willingness to act the fool. Celia’s landlady and owner of the Sleeping Gull Apartments is obnoxious, overly tan, and never to be seen without her horrific yellow wig. She drinks margaritas and smokes weed. From what I’ve seen of Helen, I bet she’d get down with some bad beach behavior.


So now you’ve met the cast of the BITE SOMEBODY series fantasy film. Have you ordered your copies yet? Sigh. Now, I just need to get to work on that screenplay …