THIS WEEK’S THREE FEATURED BOOKS, “GLAD TO BE DAD,” BY TIM MYERS, “THE SANGUINIST’S DAUGHTER,” BY SUSAN HUBBARD AND “THE MAN WHO WOULDN’T STAND UP,” BY JACOB M. APPEL, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
When I was working in the newspaper business, my editors always derided the phrase “first annual,” arguing that if something hadn’t been done more than once, it couldn’t qualify for that title.
As of this week, then, Snowflakes in a Blizzard’s “Suggested Summer Reads” will become “annual” in good standing. It will be Year 2.
What I’ve done is pick out 15 books from the 307 we have posted so far and offered them in a list.
Obviously, a good summer read for one person may not be for another. I think of it as books that are not overlong and can be read in chunks to accommodate other summer activities. Collections of short stories are especially good for this.
Still, inclusion on this list does not mean I consider these as the “best” 15 books we offer, or even the best summer reads for anyone but me. It’s just meant to be a starting point.
My suggestion would be to click on our Author page, then scroll down to “Books by Subject.” If you see something that intrigues you, you can remain on that page and click the author’s name to see the complete post.
This week, we’re offering two very different novels — “The Hunger Saint,” by Olivia Kate Cerrone and “Parade of Horribles,” by Rhett DeVane. What they have in common is that each, in its own way, conveys a powerful sense of place.
In “The Hunger Saint,” Olivia transports the reader to the chaos of post-war Italy and the poverty that followed World War II. “Parade of Horribles” is a wonderful, often humorous, depiction of life in a small Florida town, but with a strong social message embedded in its core.
UPCOMING ON “SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD,” JUNE 20-16.
“THE HUNGER SAINT,” BY OLIVIA KATE CERRONE.
THE HUNGER SAINT is a story of hope and survival set in post-WWII Italy. Hailed by Kirkus Reviews as “a well-crafted and affecting literary tale,” this historical novella follows the journey of Ntoni, a twelve-year-old boy forced to labor in Sicily’s sulfur mines to support his family after his father’s untimely death. Faced with life-threatening working conditions, Ntoni must choose between escaping the mines and abandoning his family. Following tradition, his mother has signed him over to many years of hard labor in exchange for a soccorso morto, literally translating to a “dead loan.” This is essentially a system of indentured servitude that exists between the carusi and the miners they will assist in the mines. Ntoni still conspires for his freedom. As a series of unforeseen events soon complicate his plans, Ntoni realizes that all is not what it seems and to trust anyone might prove to be as fatal as being trapped inside of a cave-in. The Hunger Saint draws from years of historical research and was informed by the oral histories of former miners still living in Sicily today.
“PARADE OF HORRIBLES,” BY RHETT DeVANE
Chattahoochee, Florida, a town with a state mental institution on its main drag, seldom slips from its usual relaxed pace. Everyone here knows everybody else, and senior citizen Elvina Houston, head of the little-ole-lady hotline, keeps her nose wedged in the middle. October typically brings three festivals and a break from summer. But this year, the relentless heat and humidity continue and a parade of horribles cranks up for Jake Witherspoon, his best friend Hattie, and her older brother Bobby, one that will affect their intertwined families, friends, and the entire town. Hattie lives three miles out of town on family land with her husband and adopted Chinese daughter Sarah Chuntian. Sarah is thirteen, barreling into the tumultuous teenage years, and Hattie worries about the dangers she and her husband can’t control, especially online.
When Jake receives a series of odd, suggestive text messages, he fears a repeat of the horrible hate crime fifteen years prior, an assault that nearly took his life and left him with a badly maimed leg. Jake’s longtime partner Shug Presley works as a hospice nurse, with long hours and grinding stress. The texts escalate, but Jake doesn’t share his growing sense of dread. Shug tells Jake about an impending visit from his sister Genevieve. A long adversary of Shug and Jake’s homosexual relationship, Shug’s oldest sister had long ago turned the Presley family against him. Instead of offering acceptance, Genevieve reveals plans to enroll Shug in a reprograming camp in Alabama. Jake strives to push down both his anguish for Shug’s sadness and his own mounting anxiety.
The incidents Jake perceives as a replay of his assault are every bit as real as the twisted man who inches into Hattie’s family. How this group of small town folk handles the clash with hate and crime is a tribute to resiliency, friendship, and hope.