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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Want to Read a True Story? | Book Recommendations

Hello! This Monday kicks off our next AYearAThon theme, and we will be reading Non-Fiction/Biographies! I have read quite a few novels from this genre that I really enjoyed, and wanted to share some of my favourites with you today. If you don't know what you want to read next week, check out my recommendations.

Night by Elie Wiesel
     Goodreads: click here

Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944-1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father-child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his recently teenage caregiver. 

Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
     Goodreads: click here

Seriously…I’m Kidding is a look at Ellen’s life through her humour. In her own words, Ellen says, “I’ve experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share…I think you’ll find I’ve left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no run unvacuumed, no ivories untickled.” 

Hidden Girl by Shyima Hall
     Goodreads: click here
     My review: click here

Shyima Hall was born in Egypt on September 20, 1989, the seventh child of desperately poor parents. When she was eight, her parents sold her into slavery. Shyima then moved two hours away to Egypt’s capitol city of Cairo to live with a wealthy family and serve them eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. When she was ten, her captors moved to Orange County, California, and smuggled Shyima with them. Two years later, an anonymous call from a neighbour brought about the end of Shyima’s servitude - but her journey to true freedom was far from over.

Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up by Grace Helbig
     Goodreads: click here

Face it - being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life…but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that’s perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult.

Infused with her trademark saucy, sweet, and funny voice, Grace’s Guide is a tongue-in-cheek handbook for millennials, encompassing everything a young or new (regular or old) adult needs to know, from surviving a breakup or recovering from a hangover. Beautifully illustrated and full-colour, Grace’s Guide features interactive elements and exclusive stories from Grace’s own misadventures - like losing her virginity solely because her date took her to a Macaroni Grill - and many other hilarious lessons she learned the hard way.

Damaged by Cathy Glass
     Goodreads: click here

Although Jodie is only eight years old, she is violent, aggressive, and has already been through numerous foster families. Her last hope is Cathy Glass. At the Social Services office, Cathy (an experienced foster carer) is pressured into taking Jodie as a new placement. Jodie’s challenging behaviour has seen off five carers in four months. Despite her reservations, Cathy deciders to accept Jodie to protect her from being placed in an institution. Jodie arrives, and her first act is to soil herself, and then wipe it on her face, grinning wickedly. Jodie meets Cathy’s teenage children, and greets them with a sharp kick to the shins. That night, Cathy finds Jodie covered in blood, having cut her own wrist, and smeared the blood over her face. Cathy promises that she will stand by Jodie no matter what - her love for the abandoned Jodie is unbreakable. 

A Work in Progress by Connor Franta
     Goodreads: click here

In this intimate memoir of life beyond the camera, Connor Franta shares the lessons he has learned on his journey from small-town boy to Internet sensation so far.

Here, Connor offers a look at his Midwestern upbringing as one of four children in the home and one of five in the classroom; his struggles with identity, body image, and sexuality in his teen years; and his decision to finally pursue his creative and artistic passions in his early twenties, setting up his thrilling career as a YouTube personality, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and tastemaker.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
     Goodreads: click here

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck-impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart
     Goodreads: click here
     My review: click here

Rosalie Lightning is Eisner-nominated cartoonist Tom Hart’s beautiful and touching graphic memoir about the untimely death of his young daughter, Rosalie. His heart-breaking and emotional illustrations strike readers to the core, and take them along his family’s journey through loss. Hart uses the graphic form to articulate his and his wife’s on-going search for meaning in the aftermath of Rosalie’s death, exploring themes of grief, hopelessness, rebirth, and eventually finding hope again.

What are some of your favourite non-fiction novels? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lumberjanes Graphic Novel Review

Lumberjanes: Volume One and Volume Two
Written by Noelle Stevenson

Volume One (#1-4)
Number of pages: 128

Average Rating: 3.91/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Published April 7th 2015
Read in July 2016

Volume Two (#5-8)
Number of pages: 112

Average Rating: 4.22/5 stars
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Published October 13th 2015
Read in July 2016

Summary according to Goodreads

At Miss Qjunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together. And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! 

My Thoughts

I went into this graphic novel series completely blind, just randomly selecting it off of my library shelves. I was very pleasantly surprised, with the pacing, illustrations, and characters. Each character has a very distinct voice, and adds something different to the story. 

One of my favourite things about this series is its focus on young women, and how they figure everything out for themselves. There is elements of empowerment, friendship, and supernatural to add a twist! Going into the second compilation, there is a lot more mythical elements that I was not a fan of, and instead was left thinking “where did that come from? What is going on?”

My only issue with the first novel was that the plot did not make a lot of sense to me. For the first few pages I could not help but wonder if I had picked up a sequel by accident, but then I realized you are just thrown straight into the story. Going into the second novel I had a lot more issues, the biggest being the pacing and mythology randomly thrown in. I found it unfortunate that this sequel was not as strong as the first volume, but there is nothing that happened in this that makes me want to continue. It was not what I was expecting from the series at all, and will not be reading any more from it. 

This is shelved under young adult, but, to me, it feels much more like a middle-grade read. The language is very light and can be silly at times, but if you go into it with the right mind set, I think you will really enjoy it! I read it very easily and think it is a great way to catch up on your TBR, but is not something that I want to continue. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Summer That Melted Everything Review

The Summer That Melted Everything 

Written by Tiffany McDaniel
Number of pages: 320

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Published: July 26, 2016
Read in July 2016

Summary according to Goodreads

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

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome the self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever. 

My Thoughts

I received a copy of this novel for review, but that does not affect my opinion. 

This novel took me longer to read because I had been so busy with my retail job. All I wanted was to tuck into a blanket and spend the day reading this novel. Even though it tells the story of the summer the devil came to visit Breathed, I feel this would be best read in the colder seasons because it is an older, heavier style of reading. This was so different from anything I have ever read before, in both the plot and the writing. It did take me a little while to settle into the story and adjust to the writing style, but this is not a genre that I read very often. I do believe that you have to be in a certain mood to read this novel, or it will not affect you as it should. 

There were so many emotional layers to this novel, bringing each character to new levels of growth. We learn why Fielding's mother is afraid of the rain, something that may seem a trivial fear, and my favourite was learning about Sal and his past experiences. One of the quotes that he said early in the novel really spoke to me; "Even a devils heart isn't just for beating." 

When I first read the premise of the novel I had expected something horror based, or even plot heavy. Instead I found this novel to fit almost into a contemporary genre, driven by the characters, an everyday town coming to face their own demons. Imagine yourself walking home from the grocery store, when you find a young man who claims to be the devil. From that day on this boy brings to life concerns you did not know you had, and completely opens up the community's eyes - both positively and negatively. This novel carries so many themes, but come together so seamlessly and beautifully. The author manages to bring race, spirituality, family, homophobia, and self-love all together in 300 pages.

Something that I did not care for in this novel was that it was narrated by an older Fielding, so we see both past (when Sal first arrived) and present (aging and alone) events. I understand the significance between this connection, since we are seeing how the trauma Fielding suffered affects his daily life years later. I would have rather seen the story take place day to day with an epilogue showing the effects, or even being narrated in third person. 

After writing this review I have come to realize that I enjoyed this novel much more than I had originally thought. I have updated my rating from three and a half stars, up to a four because I enjoyed more things than I disliked. This novel spoke to me deeper than I realized, and it was not until I had read another novel that I realized its impact. Overall, I think this was a great story that made me think very seriously. These characters were so wise, and really made me think about life. I am really hoping that this author will continue writing, because she has such an incredible writing style, and master way of storytelling. If you are interested in adult fiction, I recommend you checking this one out after it is released tomorrow!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Most Anticipated Releases - End of 2016

There have been some great novels released so far in the year, with many more still to come! I asked on Twitter if you wanted to see a "Most Anticipated" post, and I got great feedback! So today I went through my wishlist, and gathered the Top 10 that I am most looking forward to!

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
     Expected release: July 19th
     Goodreads: click here

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: work on a luxury cruise with only a handful on cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo's stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, fray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for - and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo's desperate attempts to covert that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
     Expected release: July 26th
     Goodreads: click here

Salem, Massachusetts is a site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mater, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the centre of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross
     Expected release: August 2nd
     Goodreads: click here

New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable...and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
     Expected release: August 2nd
     Goodreads: click here

Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up. She graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant and has a total soft spot for Lily; and the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn't hurt. Lily can't get him out of her head, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his no dating rule, she can't help but wonder what made him that way in the first place. 

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan, her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her proctor. When Atlas suddenly reappears everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly
     Expected release: August 30th
     Goodreads: click here

Ash and Pia's move from Brooklyn to the bucolic hills of Vermont was supposed to be a fresh start - a picturesque farmhouse, mindful lifestyle, maybe even children. But just three months in, news breaks of a devastating superstorm expected in the coming months. Fear of the impending disaster divides their tight-knit rural town and exposes the chasms in Ash and Pia's marriage. Ash seeks common ground with those who believe in working together for the common good. Pia teams up with "preppers" who want to go off the grind and war with the rest of the locals over whom to trust and how to protect themselves. Where Isole had once been a town of old farm families, yuppie transplants and beloved rednecks, they divide into paranoid preppers, religious fanatics and government tools.

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
     Expected release: August 30th
     Goodreads: click here

Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friends and next door neighbour, Kyle. It's a distraction. It's pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn't know what to do. 

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can't quite figure out what he did wrong.

When They Fade by Jeyn Roberts
     Expected release: September 13th
     Goodreads: click here

Tatum is the only person at school who knew the truth about the affair her best friend, Claudette, has been having with Mr. Paracini, their married teacher. And at the same time, confiding in an adult seemed like the right thing to do. But now, everyone in town has turned against Tatum, painting her as a liar and a rat. As the bullying from her classmates escalates, it seems that nowhere is safe for her anymore.

Molly, a hitchhiker, was brutally murdered in the early 1970s, but there is no afterlife for her. Instead, she has found herself marooned with a crowd of other people who have also died tragically. Molly is able to fade back to earth for a few fleeting moments, and when she fades, she finds herself hitchhiking once again, and telling the unsuspecting drivers things about their future that only she can see.

One foggy night, Tatum sneaks out for a drive. The teenage hitchhiker she picks up doesn't talk much, until she suddenly turns to Tatum and says: "You're going to die. It will hurt and you'll be alone. And no one will help you." And then she disappears. As the two girl's stories converge, Tatum and Molly will discover that they must first figure out how to help the other in order to save themselves.

The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
     Expected release: October 11th
     Goodreads: click here

Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine's bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life when Zero next arrives. 

But Zero's return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine's perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love - maternal, romantic, and platonic - impact a young woman's struggle with mental illness.

Beast by Brie Spangler
     Expected release: October 11th
     Goodreads: click here

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairer than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn't look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg - and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy - until he meets Jaime. She's funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She's also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jaime's humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn't know about Jaime, something she shared with the group the day he wasn't listening. Something that shouldn't change a thing. She is who she's always been - an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
     Expected release: October 18th
     Goodreads: click here

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna's social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed. 

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault. 

What books are you excited for this year? Let me know!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wanted Wednesday - July 20, 2016

Happy Wednesday!

Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano

Average Rating: 3.39/5 stars
Published: August 25, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Horror

Summary according to Goodreads

When Paige moves from LA to Idaho with her mom and little brother after her parents' high-profile divorce, she expects to completely hate her new life, and the small town doesn't disappoint. Worse yet, the drafty old mansion they've rented is infested with flies, spiders, and other pests Paige doesn't want to think about. 

She chalks it up to her rural surroundings, but it's harder to ignore the strange things happening around the house, from one can of ravioli becoming a dozen, to unreadable words appearing on the walls. Soon Paige's little brother begins roaming the house at all hours of the night, and there's something not right about the downstairs neighbour, who knows a lot more than he's letting on.

Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier. The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Da Vinci Code Review

The Da Vinci Code

Written by Dan Brown
Number of pages: 456

Average Rating: 3.76/5 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Published on March 18th, 2003
Read in June 2016

Summary according to Goodreads

An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries...unveiled at last. 

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci - clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion - a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci - and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle - while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move - the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever. 

My Thoughts

This is a book I have wanted to buy and read for quite some time, but never got around to it. Recently I spotted one of my coworkers reading it, and told him how I've been interested in this series - turns out this was not his first time reading it. He offered to lend me his beautiful illustrated edition, and I could not resist! Seeing as this was a series I had been wanting to get into, coming across an edition with pictures was an amazing opportunity. 

This is the second novel in the Robert Langdon series, however I went into without reading the first and did not have any problems. There were a few references at the beginning of the novel to events that I imagine happened in Angels and Demons, but nothing significant enough to leave me lost and confused.

This plot was captivating from the very beginning, which surprised me since this novel was very outside of my comfort zone. Categorized as an adult historical fiction with elements of suspense and adventure, this novel was unlike anything I have ever read. I was constantly kept on my toes, because you are solving this mystery along with Robert Langdon. The reader does not have many advantages while reading this novel since even while seeing from different perspectives you do not know how each character will be related to the conclusion. 

Speaking of the conclusion, there were hardly any twists that I had seen coming. The reveal of "The Teacher" I had been wrong about, how Sophie's story was going to end, and where Robert was going to go with his career. Overall I was wrong about everything in the end, but that made it so much better to read!

Although I was very connected to the plot and the characters, I would have to say that having the illustrations throughout the novel improved my reading experience. I do not have a lot of experience with religious history, so I found it very helpful to find images of symbols and places they were describing. Looking at the photographs of paintings and landmarks, made me want to travel so desperately I could not help but feel as though I was walking through the streets of Paris with Robert Langdon. 

I have not decided if I will watch the film adaptation right away, because I haven't heard too much about it. I will likely watch it soon before continuing on with the series. Have you seen the movie? What did you think? If you are interested in this series I cannot say if I would recommend reading them one by one, but I would recommend reading one of them! I am quite looking forward to reading more from this series, and this author, in the near future. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Author Interview: Tiffany McDaniel

"The heat came with the devil."

Today I am very excited to be sharing with you an interview that I had the pleasure of doing with Tiffany McDaniel, debut author of The Summer That Melted Everything. I was sent a digital copy of this novel for review, which will be posted next Monday. Enjoy!

Sometimes ideas can come out of nowhere, where did you first find the inspiration for this novel?

I always start writing a new novel with two things: the title and the first line. The Summer that Melted Everything’s title came about because it was one of those Ohio summers that I just felt like I was melting. I always say what inspires me through the course of writing a novel are the characters themselves. To me, my characters are very real and I’m merely the vessel through which they pass to get into our world. So the characters inspire me to do right by them. To tell their story and their truth to the best of my abilities. 

What, or who, inspires you to write? When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child outside of any external influence or direction. I had an innate desire to put down what was in my head.  As a child I was driven by that internal gear, and as I got older I realized I was writing a story. So nothing inspires me to write. I’m driven to do so by the elements that make me.  I always knew I wanted story and the creation of it in my life. But I didn’t know writing was a career to be had until I was much older in middle school. The guidance counselor had come into our class to talk to us about our futures. She was asking what we wanted to be. I was a child of parents who had jobs, and very hard jobs at that. Jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money. So I thought that’s what I would have to do with my life. When the guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to be. I didn’t know. She then asked me what I like to do. I said I loved to write. And she said I would be a writer then. That was the first moment I realized writing was an actual career. Before I thought it was just something people did outside of their regular jobs. So realizing I could have writing as a career, was like being told I could pocket all the stars in the night sky and have light with me forever.    

Your writing is so beautifully detailed, I have to ask: did you create this setting yourself or is it based on something you have seen?

The setting in the novel is in the fictional town of Breathed, Ohio, which is a town based after my time spent in southern Ohio on the hilly acreage my father was left by his parents.  Having spent my childhood summers down home was like being one of the lizards crawling the screen door, one of the bullfrogs by the creek edge, one of the tall blades of grass in the field. That southern culture and beauty really has shaped me as a writer. It has been the fuel to the explosion that is my craft. 

Fielding is a very special character to the novel, and leads us through many journeys. He learns a lot from Sal in his youth, but seems to struggle throughout adulthood. What makes him special to you?

Fielding is indeed very special. There’s a burden and a guilt that he carries that I wish he would set down, but I also respect him for that very carrying. He has pushed his own happiness and the chance for it off to the side, while at the same time allowing himself to be ferried back to the past, if only out of respect to those he’s lost. Fielding is raw emotion and exposed heart. How can someone like that not be special?

As an aspiring author, I understand the passion that goes behind each of your works. Writing brings to life all of these small ideas you have in your head, but it is not an easy journey. What I want to know is, what is an aspect of the writing process that you struggle with?

Writing for me is the easy part. The hard part is getting published. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. Literary fiction, the genre I write, is especially hard to get publishers to take a chance on because it could be a financial risk.  Literary fiction isn’t as lucrative to invest in as commercial fiction, so a lot of it gets pushed to the side and rejected. Knowing you’re an aspiring author, to you I say never give up. The journey to publication can be heartbreaking and really painful emotionally, and sometimes you may feel like you just want to stop, but please don’t. You owe it to yourself to go after your dream and not turn your back on it. 

Without spoiling anything for potential readers, what was your favourite scene in the novel? Whether it was favourite to write, read, or experience!

I have several favorite scenes, but one of them is the one where Fielding Bliss meets Sal for the first time. Sal is the character who comes to answer the invitation in the newspaper inviting the devil to town. Seeing Fielding and Sal meet for the first time, is on the surface just a meeting of two boys. But really it’s the beginning of everything. 

What has been the most exciting thing for you, throughout the entire process of working with St. Martins Press?

I got the offer from St. Martin’s when I was twenty-nine, and am thirty-one years old now about to see my book on the shelf July 26th. So it does take a very long time even after you get that contract with a publishing house and sometimes the excitement wanes when it comes to the business side of being an author. Especially when all you want is to hold your book in your hand. So I’d say the most exciting thing is yet to come. When I can actually hold The Summer that Melted Everything in my hand and know that eleven years of trying to get published, added to two years of being in the process of getting published, is the culmination of thirteen years. It will be amazing to have the fruit of that labor.

I would love to learn more about the person behind the novel! What do you like to do when you are not writing? Are you a big reader? What is your favourite movie? Are you into travelling?

I am a big reader.  As a kid I went to bed with a stack of books my mother would read to me.  Through adolescence I was hooked on R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street as I was very much a kid into the ghouls and monsters among us.  That hasn’t changed.  Some of my favorite movies reflect this.  Stanley Kurbick’s The ShiningMiseryBeetlejuiceLittle Shop of Horrors.  When I’m not writing I do watch these movies and more.  I love film.  I also love art.  I paint in all mediums from oil to watercolors.  I use pastels and charcoal, really anything that allows me to create image.  I love to garden and dream about my own greenhouse one day.  I like the idea of traveling more than the experience of packing and the acts that go along with getting to a place and back again.  But I love the idea of traveling to the ancient ruins, and even to archeological sites.  I’m very much into digging into the dirt, hoping to find some dinosaur bone or arrowhead or pot from some other time and some other land. 

I know this may seem premature since it's still early for your first novel, but do you have any plans for another?

I absolutely do.  I have eight completed novels and am working on my ninth.  Like I said publishing moves at a snail’s pace, and I’m just waiting for publishing to catch up to me.  The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is When Lions Stood as Men.  It’s a story about a Jewish brother and sister who flee Nazi Germany and end up in my land of Ohio.  While here they create their own camp of judgment, punishing themselves for surviving and in that realizing it wasn’t just Hitler they needed to survive, but it’s each other as well. 

Do you have anything you would like to say to anyone reading this interview?

That you, readers, have all the power.  It’s not the agents or the editors or the publishing houses as a whole that determine a writer’s career.  It’s the readers.  Without readers buying books, there are no novelists to be had.  Readers give meaning to an author’s words.  So if you like a book, tell everyone you know.  Be that book’s champion because if you do, you’re being a champion for the author herself.  My only hope is that readers like what I’ve written.  That they can count on me to deliver a story that is worth both their time and their hard-earned money.  Nothing would make me happier than to know a reader has finished one of my books with the pleasure of having read it.  That’s what I strive for as an author.  To be someone’s favorite author, as so many authors have been mine.   

If people would like to follow you on social networks, how can they find you?

I’m not on social media, but they can jump on to my website at

Readers can also connect with me directly through my website.  That connection to readers is very important to me.  As I’ve said, they’re the ones who determine an author’s entire career.  How can I not give them some of my time, when they’ve given me some of their time reading my book?

I would like to give Tiffany a huge thank you, both for letting me read her debut novel, and taking the time to answer my questions! I am extremely interested in other's writing processes and experiences, so these are so much fun for me to do! Make sure you check out her website, and her novel being released on July 26th!