THIS WEEK’S FEATURED BOOKS, “SHRAPNEL,” BY MARIE MANILLA, “SCORCHED EARTH, ALIEN WONDERS,” BY DELILAH JEAN WILLIAMS AND “THE UN-FAMILAR,” BY LYNNE HINKEY, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.
HAPPY JULY 4th!
This blog is one of a small, select group of other blogs on the Internet — 152 million, at last count. Among those, it must be assumed, are thousands that deal with the art and business of writing in some form.
Given all that, it is essential for any blog — writing or otherwise — to declare and secure its own niche.
So what’s ours? Actually, we have several, and one of them is on display this week.
These days, book marketing is all about the new. Like debris in a swift-flowing river, just-published books are quickly swept along in front of the world’s readers, only to vanish in a matter of months — or even weeks — in favor of even newer books.
Moreover, the new technology has allowed serious authors today to be quite prolific, many churning out two or three books a year. That means they must constantly turn their efforts to promoting their latest, at the expense of what they’ve previously produced.
At some point, I realized that Snowflakes in a Blizzard was an ideal vehicle for resurrecting books that are still relevant and readable, yet have already been pushed aside by the tide. This week will feature two that I think are worth your attention — Diane Lefer’s “California Transit” (2007) and “The Gullwing Odyssey,” by Antonio Simon Jr.(2013).
This doesn’t mean I’m not still looking for — and am enthusiastic about — current releases. But let’s not forget our old friends, either.
At the bottom of this post, as promised, are a dozen more books from the Snowflakes collection that I thought might be congenial fellow travelers on a vacation trip.
Note: This list is not a “best of” collection, but stems only from a gut feeling on my part that these books would be ideal for the purpose.
UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JULY 5-11
“CALIFORNIA TRANSIT,” BY DIANE LEFER
Southern California is a place of sunshine-noir unease in these stories and novellas. This isn’t the Los Angeles of movie stars and gangbangers but rather immigrants in detention facilities, a zoo employee running off with an antelope’s head, a young widow investing in a sex doll factory, people on a surreal search for new homes due to gentrification, and a traumatized New York transplant who rides buses all day and cannot avert the violence building inside her. Oh, and some of it is funny.
“THE GULLWING ODYSSEY,” BY ANTONIO SIMON JR.
Marco’s life as a messenger isn’t great, but the work is easy and he gets retirement pay in thirty years. Little does he know his life teeters on the cusp of change.
When an unusual assignment sends him overseas, he finds himself stranded in foreign lands. With no way home and no hope of making his delivery, he sees sour prospects for attaining his modest retirement dreams, much less getting out of the whole mess alive. Even that wouldn’t be so bad if he weren’t constantly outrunning pirates, embroiled in international intrigue, and attacked by a hummingbird with an appetite for human brains – that’s just the start of his misadventures.
But lurking in the wings is a much greater threat than getting sacked from his job. The fate of an entire civilization may well rest upon his scrawny shoulders. In spite of himself and quite by accident, Marco may yet become the hero he strives not to be.
FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY
This month, we will re-visit “Heart, Soul and Rock n’ Roll,” by Janet Stafford; “Discernment,” by Lacy Sereduk; “Shari’s Shot,” by James Ross, “Patchwork Man,” by Debrah Martin, “The End of Men,” by C.B. Murphy, and “The Big Wheel,” by Scott Archer Jones.
A DOZEN MORE BOOKS TO PACK IN YOUR SUMMER SUITCASE:
“STEELE SECRETS,” BY ANDI CUMBO-FLOYD
When Mary Steele mysteriously finds herself in an old cemetery down the road from her house in a tiny mountain town, she’s not concerned. She’s not even frightened when a ghost named Moses approaches her, or when she has a standoff with a bulldozer. But when her inquiries into the history of the cemetery and the people buried there begin to draw out the worst in the members of her community, Mary begins to be afraid. Will she be able to recover history while keeping the people she loves safe?
“TANGO,” BY CAMILLE CUSAMANO.
Tango is a travel memoir, the story of a woman who loved, lost, got mad, and decided to dance. She went to Buenos Aires intending to stay three months and stayed for nearly four years. The book traces her fall from grace, hero’s journey, and ultimate transformation.
“FILL THE STADIUM,” BY KM DAUGHTERS.
Nikki Lambert’s husband purposely stalls his truck in the path of the midnight freight on the same day her eldest son, Jack, is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Injured NFL quarterback, Ramsey Delaney is benched from his starting position leaving him ample time for more hands-on involvement in The Good Sports Club, a community center he established where Nikki’s sons, Jack and Rocky are enrolled. Jack’s deteriorating motor skills concern Ram’s employees who bar Jack from attending the club without Ram’s knowledge. Nikki wants nothing but normalcy for Jack and she heatedly confronts Ram for depriving her son of a beloved activity. Ram immediately reinstates Jack forging the fateful bond between Nikki and her boys’ number-one sports hero. Ram is instantly attracted to Nikki. He wants to win her heart more than he’s ever wanted to win a game. But after her husband’s terrible abandonment will Nikki trust Ram’s motives and open her heart to love again?
“REJECTION,” BY MARK DAVIS.
Perno Morris is desperate. After years of rejection letters and returned manuscripts, decades of frustration, disappointment and stacks of rejection letters, he decides to take matters into his own hands. After seeing super literary agent Susan McCarthy on a national talk show, where she mentioned her vacation home, and that she has a six year old daughter, Perno decides to kidnap her little girl to get his book published. Dressed as a catholic priest, Perno takes little Christine McCarthy from a McDonald’s restaurant when her babysitter went to the restroom. He is videotaped from an ATM machine camera across the street, but can only be identified as a man of clergy. The camera’s view of his car is blocked by a delivery truck, and images are not recorded. He holds her hostage in the basement of his farm house miles from town.
“THE FESTIVAL OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS,” BY MATT DOJNY.
What exactly is the “Festival of Taang Lôke Kwaam Banterng Sumitchanani“? It’s a 24-hour water balloon blitzkrieg, a ruthless talent competition, and an earth-scorching, take-no-prisoners bacchanalia. It’s the one day of the year when everyone has a shot at finding true love–even a rapacious, over-sexed turtle god. It’s a celebration of hobos and heartbreak, Lionel Richie impersonators and banana-brandy-flavored rice wine. It’s The Festival of Earthly Delights.
Boyd Darrow is a young American living in Puchai, a tiny Southeast Asian country that tourist brochures refer to as “The Kingdom of Winks.” In a series of letters written to a mysterious recipient, Boyd tells of the delights, humiliations and brain-bending misadventures he experiences while adjusting to life in the small college town of Mai Mor. He and his somewhat less-than-faithful girlfriend, Ulla, were hoping to start their lives over in Puchai, but Puchai has an agenda all its own.
“ADIRONDACK GOLD,” BY PERSIS GRANGER.
Hollis Ingraham, a young Adirondack boy of the 1890s is forced by his widowed mother’s poverty to go to live on the farm of grandparents he hardly knows, and who, he senses, do not like his mother. He strives to earn the approval of his seemingly angry grandfather by mastering chores on the farm, and, in the process, learns more about his deceased father and the cause of his grandfather’s bitterness.
“BIG IN JAPAN,” BY JENNIFER GRIFFITH.
Buck Cooper is a big, fat nobody at his statistician job in Dallas. The six-foot-six blond guy isn’t sure when he became socially invisible—probably about the time he passed the three hundred pound mark. But when his parents shanghai him to Tokyo for a business trip, he finds himself thrust into a whole new world—where his size still defines him but suddenly isn’t the liability it’s always been. Now, it could be his greatest asset—because this zero is about to become a sumo hero.
“CLOSE,” BY ERIKA RASKIN.
Close is a novel of family and suspense. Wry single-mom Kik Marcheson is dancing as hard as she can — teaching at the university, struggling with the family’s finances (which may soon include having to return the long-gone advance for her unfinished second novel), and coping with her increasingly challenging daughters.
Doone, the oldest, is swimming in the deep end of adolescence; Casey, the middle child-slash-good girl, is slowly coming undone and little Tess, the quirky kindergartner, has somewhat alarmingly introduced an invisible playmate into the family constellation.
When Doone’s activities can no longer be ignored, a TV therapist offers a hand. Caving to Casey, Kik sets aside serious misgivings and agrees to let the family participate.
And then things go from bad to terrifying.
“INDIVISIBLE,” BY RANDI SACHS.
The story of twin brothers, who at the age of 22 are orphaned and have no other family. Aaron has just graduated college, David has Down Syndrome. They now have to start their adult lives together, without the help from their parents or older sister.:
HOMETOWN HEARTACHE,” BY M.J. SCHILLER
Nash is trying to make a name for himself in the art world…
But when he meets a realtor to buy a gallery, he is stunned to find Chloe sitting at the table with the man. He has never stopped thinking about her since she disappeared from his life without a trace. Is it too late to win back her love?
“NOT ANOTHER SUPERHERO,” BY TARA LYNN THOMPSON
Samantha Addison remembers the mugger. And his gun. How he pointed it at her head. When he pulled the trigger. She remembers everything, except how she survived.
But it’s only Monday. She’s embarking on a week of near misses and a mystery growing with each attempt on her life.
Why would anyone want to kill the editor of a puff piece magazine? How could she be a threat to anyone? Will the attacks stop? Or will one finally succeed?
Through all the hair-raising events, a man in a black hood keeps saving the day before vanishing without telling her anything. Including his name.
Who is this guy? What is his connection to these events
“SWIMMING WITH MAYA,” BY ELEANOR VINCENT.
Swimming with Maya demonstrates the remarkable process of healing after the traumatic death of a loved one. Eleanor Vincent raised her two daughters, Maya and Meghan, virtually as a single-parent. Maya, the eldest, was a high-spirited and gifted young woman. As a teenager, Maya was energetic and independent – and often butted heads with her mother. But Eleanor and Maya were always close and connected, like best friends or sisters, but always also mother and daughter. Then at age 19, Maya mounts a horse bareback as a dare and, in a crushing cantilever fall, is left in a coma from which she will never recover. Eleanor’s life is turned upside down as she struggles to make the painful decision about Maya’s fate. Ultimately Eleanor chooses to donate Maya’s organs. Years later, in one of the most poignant moments you will ever read about, Eleanor has the opportunity to hear her daughter’s heart beat in the chest of the heart recipient. Along the way, Eleanor re-examines her relationship with her daughter, as well as the experiences that shaped Eleanor as a woman and as a mother to Maya. An inspirational/motivational true story recommended for anyone who has experienced tragedy, who is grappling with traumatic experiences of the past, or who wants to better understand the strength and healing power of the human spirit.