I said I wanted to give away more books, and now I am.
There is, however, a difficulty. I find this book hard to make jokes about, and thus hard to review. It is like reviewing To Kill A Mockingbird - I am full of admiration, but it mostly makes me want to wave my hands about and say 'Read it!'
But I do use the comparison to To Kill A Mockingbird advisedly. Now, comparing a new book to a classic is tricky as well. It makes me feel a bit like someone saying 'Well, my book is like Harry Potter meets Twilight meets The Da Vinci Code...'
I feel you can make this comparison, though, if your book is about a wizard who falls in love with a vampire, and then together they solve riddles!
Shadowed Summer is about tragedy and prejudice in a small town, told through the the point of view of someone young enough to make the book light-hearted and fun to read despite the Serious Themes. So you see where I'm going with this To Kill A Mockingbird thing.
So here's how I first read Shadowed Summer. I knew Saundra Mitchell from debut2009 and, as you can see from this interview, she is pretty awesome.
SAUNDRA: So this one time I accidentally buried someone alive, and this other time when we were doing a film about hell hounds-
SARAH: I LIKE YOU. WE SHALL BE FRIENDS.
SAUNDRA: Help help it is like being attacked by a teddy bear with octopus tentacles and crazy eyes help-
SARAH: Yes. They all say that. But they come to like it!
So I was anxious to read her book, but also scared, because sometimes you just do not like books, even when they are written by awesome people. Still, I had the advance reader's copy on my flight back from Hawaii, many months ago now. I leaned back in my seat, kicked off my polka-dot flipflops, and decided to read the first few pages before I peeked out the window for my last glimpse of Hawaii.
Two hours later I closed the book and clutched the shoulder of the girl sitting beside me.
SARAH: What just happened? Where's Hawaii?
RANDOM PASSENGER: We, uh, flew away from it? In a plane?
SARAH: Right, right. Why is it dark outside?
RANDOM PASSENGER: Time passes, and the earth revolves around the sun, so...
SARAH: So far I accept your story. But answer me this, why am I clutching the shreds of what used to be my lei?
RANDOM PASSENGER: You were about half-way through that book, and you made a funny whimpering noise and tore the flowers right off your neck...
SARAH: Right. Did I? Right.
RANDOM PASSENGER: I don't mind telling you, it was all a bit alarming. I feared for my life. Has anyone ever told you that you have crazy-
SARAH: YES THANK YOU THAT WILL BE ALL.
So as you can tell, I liked the book. And I still haven't actually told you what it's about.
Iris and her friend Collette live in a sleepy Southern town and spend their lazy summer days dreaming of how they'll get out of there one day, and performing rituals to speak with the dead.
As you do.
Then they acquire a third member of their dream team, a boy called Ben.
BEN'S MOMMA: You want to be careful with those two!
BEN: But I like them!
BEN'S MOMMA: They only want one thing and that, of course, is to get their hands on your ouija board.
BEN: ... I have come to the decision that I don't mind being used for my ouija board.
Iris also meets another boy called Elijah. Only problem with that is, Elijah's probably dead.
Nobody understands how much of a sucker I am for sensible heroines and strong female friendships in books. I mean, aside from the random girl on the airplane who saw me tear off my lei. She probably knows.
Now the book is out, I have acquired four copies of Shadowed Summer. One is mine. Three are for you guys! So speak up and tell me if you'd like to be entered in the drawing for one. And I shall try to get on those rose petals and celebrities!