Horrifying and beautiful, Summertime is a fictionalised account of one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history.
Florida Keys, 1935. Hurricane Season.
Tens of thousands of black and white men scarred by their experiences of war in Europe return home to find themselves abandoned to destitution by the US government.
The tiny, segregated community of Heron Key is suddenly overwhelmed by broken, disturbed men with new ideas about racial equality and nothing left to lose.
Tensions flare when a black veteran is accused of committing the most heinous crime of all against a white resident’s wife.
And not far off the strongest and most intense hurricane America has ever witnessed is gaining force.
For fans of The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird, this is the story of the greatest tragedy you’ve never heard of.
Summertime is the title of the UK edition of Under a Dark Summer Sky.
I was lucky to win a free copy of Summertime from Holly at Bookaholic Confessions. I have to say that I was thrilled when my copy of Summertime arrived, I hadn’t realised that I’d won a hardback copy! I sensed this would be a good book, and in this I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, not only did I enjoy Summertime, I would say that I loved Summertime.
It is an excellent debut by Vanessa Lafaye and I would highly recommend it.
Summertime is a fictional story based upon the labour day hurricane of 1935. It is set in Heron Key in Florida during the nineteen thirties. In this fictionalised account the storm takes place after the 4th July celebrations. There is an annual beach party in which racial tensions are set to explode, like lit fireworks, but the celebratory fireworks hold back, refusing to light. The habitual fight between white and black is engrained into the very fabric of this society ravaged by a deep and destructive racial divide.
I loved the sense of place, which is conveyed so vividly in the opening paragraph: “The humid air felt like water in the lungs, like drowning.”
The characters – there are so many and yet Vanessa Lafaye details them all in a way that makes them so real, and engaging. There are so many elements to this novel, it touches upon racial tensions, an attempted murder, the far-reaching effects of abuse, even magical spells play a part!
The developing love story between Missy and Henry is so endearing. The reader senses that Henry will do anything to protect Missy, and Missy will wait for Henry forever if needs be. Missy loves the white baby boy that she cares for, and wants only to protect him from harm. Henry arrives back in Heron Key but he is not the same man who left, war has left him in a state in which : “He felt like a ghost, haunting a former life where he didn’t belong any more.” Missy has grown from a child into a strong young woman who will fight against the forces of nature to get what she wants: “She was tired of being blown around like a leaf, with no say in anything that mattered. Anger rose up her spine like a column of molten steel and her back straightened…… By God, I will not fail at this.”
The way in which Vanessa Lafaye transports you to the very eye of the storm, make this in my opinion a must read novel. The two main characters Missy and Henry are without doubt my favourites. Henry is so drawn to Heron Key, even though he knows Heron’s Keys terrible shortcomings. Henry has experienced a sense of freedom in a culture of non-discrimination in his time in the battlefields of France, but is this a country he wants to call home? Vanessa Lafaye uses a rubber band analogy to suggest how drawn he is to Heron Key: “It was like he was attached to the place by a long rubber band that was now stretched to its absolute limit.”
The war veterans are all different, some are good men, some are not, but none of them are welcomed in Heron Key. These hardened men don’t seem so tough when they encounter the force of the hurricane. It is as if the sheer force of the destructive natural elements of the hurricane are so much more fierce and terrifying than the atrocities of war. In a war, I suppose you have a sense of when the battle is over but in a hurricane, no such certainty exists, just when the winds quieten you realise that the hurricane is playing with you, it is deceiving you, readying itself to deliver its final fatal blow.
” There was a collective moan, which quickly rose to an awful, haunt-ing cry. It sent a stab of dread right through Trent’s heart. He knew that noise, had heard it before: it was the sound men make when they realise they are about to die.”
Not only can the winds get you but the rising water can too: “So this is what it feels like to die in a washing machine!”
The aftermath is devastating: “In the quiet left by the wind, he noticed the complete absence of birds. No gulls, no pelicans, no buzzards, even with the carpet of death below him.”
The carnage that the hurricane leaves in its wake is every bit as devastating and shocking as a war zone. The hurricane strips everyone bare of their possessions, their clothes, and ultimately their human dignity. Survival becomes paramount, petty quarrels, and racial hatred are stripped away for that tiny moment in time. Yet, there are always those with hatred in their hearts, who instigate fear and hatred in others, and this is demonstrated so clearly when white people ask the black folks to leave the apparent safety of the shelter when there is not enough room: “Traitorous stars shone within a circle of swirling cloud.”
The epilogue ends with the words, “Time to begin,” suggesting a new life will start, this new life won’t be without its trial and tribulations but it will be filled with a new-found sense of hope.
I tend to get so involved in books. This time I was so deeply affected by Summertime that one night I dreamt that my bed was filled with hurricane winds! I could feel myself being lifted, and buffeted on a bed of sheets, and thrown up and down in the air. Luckily my dream carried me gently up and down as if I was on a trampoline of buffeting air, but sadly in this book, and in real life many people die in hurricanes, white and black alike, the interesting and emotive point that Vanessa Lafaye makes is this: the hurricane doesn’t discriminate. There are so many poignant moments, family members choose death rather than be separated from their loved ones, mothers save their children instead of themselves. Life is such a precious treasure, why waste it by hating other people just because they’re different?
It couldn’t be less than 5 stars.
Holly’s wordpress: https://bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com/
Author Vanessa Lafaye wordpress site: https://vanessalafaye.wordpress.com/
Taken from the authors notes – There are fifteen pages detailing the real hurricane on the Keys History Website and the final page, page fifteen has a link at the bottom of the post to a fascinating video of some of the survivors:
Have you read Summertime? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Reblog of 8 ways Scrivener helps my writing from P.H. Soloman, Archer’s Aim.
When I originally gave Scrivenera whirl earlier this year I didn’t know how the software worked. But I read several articles and posts about how other writers put this writing tool to use. I took my time working through the provided tutorial after which I began using it with increasing regularity.
Over the last few months, I’ve begun using Scrivener for almost all of my writing. I’m so impressed with it’s usefulness, I’ve begun writing about this software to share my ideas. I’m getting lots of mileage out of blogging with it and I’ve begun using it for my newsletter and other email templates.
Here are 8 ways Scrivener boosts my efforts as a writer:
1. I’m better organized from the beginning of projects. Because Scrivener is an organizational tool, I’m able to develop structure from…
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Oh, so sad, Leonard Nimoy, Spock, died. Loved Star Trek. Reblogged via Variety.
Landscape With Gun And Tree Cornelia Parker
This little poetic ditty was inspired by this wonderful sculpture which I had the pleasure of seeing in all its splendour at Juniper Artland, Wilkieston, Scotland. You may remember that I mentioned this wonderful inspiring Artland before in several blog posts, the original being on the 15th of June 2014.
Landscape Gun and Tree
Halt – the daring spring sunshine
In dread symmetry.
© Marjorie Mallon 2015 – aka, Kyrosmagica.
Haiku and Photo, good or bad, are my very own!
Hope you enjoyed my Friday image and Haiku poem.
Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of all material in this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to this blog’s author with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you.
A very helpful post from Hugh Roberts at Forestgarden blog about Protecting your blog.
Hugh Roberts is a true blogging friend. Not only an extremely generous and warm-hearted soul, Hugh is exceptionally clever about the nuts and bolts side of blogging. When I discovered my posts plagiarized by an Aussie web site a few weeks ago, Hugh immediately offered support, a healthy dose of shared outrage, and then some very practical advice.
Loyal readers and I had a number of good conversations after that episode through the comments, emails, and even some phone calls. It heightened our awareness of how vulnerable our work remains when published online. That is when I invited Hugh to write a guest blog for Forest Garden, giving solid technical support to help all of us with things like watermarks,widgets, disclaimers, and copyrights.
Hugh has come through in fine style, and I hope you will enjoy his guest blog post today:
How To Protect Your Blog
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Reblog of Guest Author Etiquette by Chris The Storyreading Ape.
(Today is a post from Chris the Storyreading Ape. Enjoy and check out his site.)
Author Guest Post Etiquette
My thanks to Charles for inviting me to discuss Guest Author Etiquette (although, an APE discussing etiquette does seem a bit odd, however, since there’s no food involved let’s give it a try and see what happens…
First, there is the obvious question from authors with their own blogs all nicely set up to
tout sell their own books…
“WHY should I promote other authors and their books on my blog – I want people to buy and review my book(s)?”
By featuring other authors and their books on your blog, it will bring new visitors and followers to you; and your books (which are probably on display somewhere nearby, e.g., in widgets showing the covers, embedded with the purchase links, on the column beside the article)
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Recently I’ve been attempting to write a bit of poetry. So with this in mind, and the sense that Spring is maybe on its way at long last, I thought I’d find out a bit about the essence of Haiku.
I wondered if I could Haiku, maybe you could too!
Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. It consists of three lines. Line one has 5 syllables, line two has seven syllables, and line three has five syllables. The subject is usually about nature or the seasons. This poetry does not need to rhyme.
Here are examples of the haiku of Matuso Basho , the first great poet of haiku in the 1600s:
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.
what I thought were faces
are plumes of pampas grass.
Haiku of Yosa Buson from the late 1700s.
A summer river being crossed
with sandals in my hands!
Light of the moon
Moves west, flowers’ shadows
In the moonlight,
The color and scent of the wisteria
Seems far away.
Here are three haiku from Kobayashi Issa, a haiku master poet from the late 1700s and early 1800s:
Trusting the Buddha, good and bad,
I bid farewell
To the departing year.
Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.
Natsume Soseki lived from 1867 – 1916. He was a novelist and master of the haiku. Here are a couple of examples of his poems:
Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.
My favourite season is the summer, here are some summer words to get you in the mood for a little Haiku sunshine.
sun, sparkles, leaves, blue, insects, sunflower, breeze, dance, sky, birds, shimmer, trees, grass, butterfly, hot, summer, smile, beach, sand, dream, sea, ice-cream, soft, sunbeams, long days, pollen, bees, ice, picnic, lake, park, cricket, sun-cream, yellow, play, hope.
Quotes and Proverbs
Summertime an’ the livin’ is easy. Ira Gershwin.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net forever. – Jacques Cousteau.
There is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shore line, no matter how many times it is sent away. – Sarah Kay.
Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer. – Jenny Han.
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus.
A life without love is like a year without summer – Proverb.
The winter will ask what we did all summer. – Proverb.
Let’s not neglect the other seasons. They give us a wonderful sense of contrast, Anthony Horowitz said this so succinctly in this wonderful quote:
Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all. – Anthony Horowitz.
sun, dying, sleet, grey, river, twilight, magic, turkey, wind, sleigh, white, sky, robin, sparkle, trres, grass, darker, wolf, winter, coat, falling snow, frozen, dream, village, mountains, hard, beauty, cold, gentle, old, Christmas, crisp, clouds, woods, December, icy winds, sleep, tree, candle, twinkle, ski, fire.
Quotes and Proverbs.
One kind word can warm three winter months – Japanese Proverb.
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. – John Steinbeck.
Winter is in my head, but eternal spring is in my heart – Victor Hugo.
One a lone winter evening, when the frost has wrought the silence. – John Keats.
If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. – Anne Bradstreet.
In the midst of winter I find within me the invisible summer. – Leo Tolstoy.
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. – Edith Sitwell.
april, bee, basket, bunny, baseball, bird, bloom, butterfly, caterpillar, chick, cloud, daffodil, dig, earth, egg, easter, flower, fog, grass, garden, grow, hatch, insect, kite, leaf, lilac, ladybird, March, May, June, nest, picnic, plant, pansy, puddle, rainbow, raincoat, rainy, roots, season, seed, shovel, shower, soil, spring, spring cleaning, sprout, stem, storm, sunshine, thaw, tulip, umbrella, violet, warm, water, weed, wind, worm.
Quotes and Proverbs.
Spring: nature’s way of saying Let’s Party! – Robin Williams.
In the spring at the end of the day you should smell like dirt – Margaret Atwood.
April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. – Edna St. Vincent Millay
The World is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful – E.E. Cummings
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything – William Shakespeare.
Spring is like when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush – Doug Larson
An optimist is the human personification of Spring – Susan J Bissonnette.
No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. Proverb.
acorn, apple, autumnal equinox, bale of hay, bonfire, chestnuts, chilly, cider, cobweb, cool, corn, cornucopia, cranberry, crisp, deciduous, fall, falling leaves, feast, football, Halloween, harvest, harvest moon, hay, hayride, haystack, leaf, leaves, maize, October, melancholy, November, Nuts, Persimmon, Pine cone, Pumpkin, Pumpkin pie, raincoat, rake, reap, Scarecrow, season, September, Sleet, spider, spider’s web, squash, Thanksgiving, Turkey, web.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. – Albert Camus.
Autumn wins you best by this, its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay. – Robert Browning.
Autumn carries more gold within its hand than all the other seasons. – Jim Bishop.
Fiery colours begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. Fall is the artist. – Takayuki Ikkaku.
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Reblogging this from Ronovan Writes. Fancy a Haiku challenge?Interested? Lots of details on this post.
Sunday inspired the words this week, again. I was attempting to write my Sunday Thought late Saturday evening into early Sunday morning and nothing was coming. Rather than force it, I shut everything down and waited. When I woke up the next morning, well actually the same morning, the thought was there. Patience. I had waited rather than force it.
One quick thing. I have noticed in my social network travels that we aren’t following each other on Twitter. I follow everyone I have a Twitter Handle for. Every one, follow our Haiku friends. You have a Twitter but I don’t have it? Just type it in the comments when you paste your link. One way I find Twitter Handles is when I click on your Haiku, I click the Twitter share button and get the handle from there. Your handle doesn’t show there? Click here
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Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive — alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.
The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.
This February I joined in the Booksplosion Readathon, book of the month, These Broken Stars, Starbound#1, moderated by book tuber Jesse (JesseTheReader) on Goodreads.
Major Tarver Merendsen war hero, is stationed on the Icarus, the “Newest, fanciest ship to come out of orbital dock.” Tarver approaches Lilac, a girl who he’s attracted to, but his well-intentioned attentions to Lilac LaRoux are rebuffed, in a very nasty manner. Tarver doesn’t know who Lilac La Roux is, to him she’s just an attractive young woman that he’d like to date. Later Tarver finds out why. Lilac happens to be the spoilt brat daughter of the wealthiest man in the universe. Lilac expects everyone to recognise her, and everyone normally does, no exceptions. Even though Tarver is a war hero, he is not someone who Lilac would socialise with. Her friend Anna warns her: ” Who cares how many medals the major managed to wrangle in the field? He’s still just a teacher’s son.”
When the Icarus suddenly develops problems with its hyperspace engines, Tarver is all too aware of the danger. Even though Lilac treated him appallingly Tarver can’t help but be a soldier hero. He jumps after her to help her escape the riot of panicking crowds. He escorts Lilac to an escape pod.
Tarver expects to sit beside her on that pod whether she likes it or not. Who can deny him this? Stuck up Lilac isn’t too keen on the idea of Tarver frequenting the same pod as her, but Tarver isn’t about to listen to her: “The soldier lifts both eyebrows. Miss LaRoux, there are five seats in that pod, and I mean to use one of them. We may not have five minutes. It seems like something’s pulling the ship out of hyperspace before it’s supposed to.”
Lilac and Tarver crash-land on a deserted planet. Lilac initially seems more concerned with her, “Two thousand Galactics’ worth of shoes,” than with anything else, but it turns out that Lilac isn’t just a pretty, empty headed spoilt brat. She knows a lot of technicalities about “interdimensional travel,” hot-wiring, and electrical circuitry. They soon realise the shocking truth that they are the sole two survivors stuck on this strange planet. Will Tarver and Lilac be able to stand each others company? Will they survive and make it home?
These Broken Stars is a blend of sci-fi, dystopian, paranormal and romance all in one. The book has a lovely cover that just matches the endearing contents inside. I particularly liked the romance in this book, the characters grow and develop so much as the novel progresses. The romance unfolds slowly, and this makes it all the more heart-warming and believable for the reader.
I love the romance!!!!
Lilac changes from a stuck up spoilt brat daddy’s girl, to a young woman who appreciates that life is precious, much more so than her previously prized material possessions. The friendships that she had aboard the Icarus were built on snobbery and hollow values. Those expensive shoes, and dresses may look lovely but are worthless on this planet. She finds out some shocking truths about her dad, reveals a new-found strength of character, and discovers that her father can’t manipulate her any more.
Tarver remains pretty solid throughout, there are no massive surprises with this guy, apart from the fact that this soldier has suffered heartbreak in his family life. This human side adds depth to his character. He isn’t just the perfectly trained soldier equipped to deal with every crisis, he has emotions, and feelings too. I loved how the book allowed us to see the thoughts of both Tarver and Lilac through dual points of view. These Broken Stars relies heavily on these two characters as we spend practically all of our time with them so Tarver and Lilac have to be engaging and interesting to carry this of.
The Icarus reminded me of the Titanic of the Sci-Fi world. The space ship that should never had crashed but did, killing so many people. “But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possess that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?”
Lilac starts seeing ghostly images, hearing whispers, and simple life forms such as a flower, start resurrecting. There is a touch of the paranormal in this novel which adds another element of interest that readers will enjoy.
Throughout the book, and before the start of each chapter there are transcripts of single page interview sessions being conducted with Tarver after his rescue. I found these an interesting way to break up the chapters but at times I felt that they revealed a little too much about the plot.
The emphasis in These Broken Stars is on the developing romance and growing love, understanding and respect that slowly develops between Lilac and Tarver. That suited me! But possibly Sci Fi fans may be a little disappointed at the lack of detail about the space ship Icarus, and the planet that they crash-land on.
It works well as a standalone novel, as the story comes to a very satisfactory conclusion. I am looking forward to reading more in this series.
I would recommend it for readers of Young Adult, Sci Fi, Dystopian, Paranormal, Aliens, Fantasy, and of course Romance.
“Abhorrent though it may seem to you, we are going to have to spend a night together. Brace yourself.”
“And there it is, against all hope, like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. The smallest hint of a smile.”
“For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space. Then it’s gone, the view swallowed by the hyperspace winds streaming past, blue-green auroras wiping the after-images away.
Until all that’s left is us.”
“Where will I sit?” Sit? Why, on this comfortable chaise longue I’ve carried here for you in my pocket, Your Highness, so glad you asked. I clamp my mouth shut, struggling not to say it aloud.”
“I reach for her hand and wind my fingers through hers, turning them so the rain patters down onto her palm. I trace a circle there with my thumb, smoothing the water in her skin. I want to show her there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“You’re you,’ he repeats, his eyes full of grief. ‘You’re the same girl who crashed on this planet with me, who I dragged through forests and over mountains, who climbed through a shipwreck full of bodies to save my life. You’re the same girl I loved, and I love you now.”
Have you read These Broken Stars? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
I’m reblogging this from Christy at Poetic Parfait, as I’m all for compassion and a touch of kindness. #1000Speak. Just found out about this today : 1000 voices speak for compassion, 20th February 2015.
The #1000Speak for Compassion movement is here, February 20, 2015.
I am proud to take part in the #1000Speakmovement for compassion and here is my contribution with this post. I thought about what to write and then got hard on myself, judging whether the concept I came up with would ultimately meet readers’ expectations. Then I thought of this Faulkner quote:
The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. ~William Faulkner
Okay, well, now that’s a little depressing, isn’t it? I mean, if we can never make the idea as perfect in written form as it is in our minds then why bother? Aha, but isn’t is so worth trying to get out to the reader those amazing ideas, to try, to ponder them, to meld them into words? Isn’t that a wonderful challenge to take on?
I think so. If I didn’t…
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