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

Happy Book Birthday, BITE SOMEBODY!


Today is the day. My first novel, Bite Somebody, is now available for purchase on Amazon, at World Weaver Press, and all over really in paperback and eBook formats.

I currently float in a strange state of half-reality. No, I’m not on my third rum punch. It just feels so surreal. All my life, I’ve dreamt of having a book published, and today, it has happened. I know I’m supposed to be doing social media blasts and promotion, but I feel quite content just sitting here, smiling, and staring out my office window.

There are many people to thank for this accomplishment, but I won’t list them here, because they’re all in the Bite Somebody acknowledgments. I will say (again and again), I never could have done this alone.

Bite Somebody is a book of ridiculous joy, so to everyone who’s ever had a fat day, a sad day, or a maybe-I-don’t-want-to-live-anymore day … Remember to find the funny, because even when blood hunters are after your boyfriend, there’s still Bob Marley. There’s still the ocean. There is still love.

About Bite Somebody:

“Do you want to be perfect?”

That’s what Danny asked Celia the night he turned her into a vampire. Three months have passed since, and immortality didn’t transform her into the glamorous, sexy vamp she was expecting, but left her awkward, lonely, and working at a Florida gas station. On top of that, she’s a giant screw-up of an immortal, because the only blood she consumes is from illegally obtained hospital blood bags.

What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just … bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. His scent creeps through her kitchen wall and makes her nose tingle, but insecure Celia can’t bring herself to meet the guy face-to-face.

When she finally gets a look at Ian’s cyclist physique, curly black hair, and sun-kissed skin, other parts of Celia tingle, as well. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation? His kisses certainly have a way of making her fangs throb.

Just when Celia starts to believe Ian may be the fairy tale ending she always wanted, her jerk of a creator returns to town, which spells nothing but trouble for everyone involved.

Buy your copy today:
Amazon (paperback)
Amazon (eBook)
World Weaver Press