Author: Melanie Dugan

+Blog Book Tour+ Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Posted Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 by jorielov , , 5 Comments

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Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Published By: UpStart Press (), 15 May, 2014
Official Publisher Sites: Press on Etsy | Blog | Founder  
Official Author Websites Site | Facebook | GoodReads
Available Formats: Softcover & Ebook
Page Count: 191

Converse on Twitter via: #BeeSummers

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Bee Summers” virtual book tour through TLC  Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Melanie Dugan, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

This particular book spoke to me when I first signed up to participate on the blog tour, there was something about the premise of the story and the way in which the story ‘sounded’ to me off the page; inspired my interest in reading the book. There are times when books whisper a thought of interest inside me, and those are the books I am always striving to discover because they tend to unlock a new way of story-telling and/or they create an individual experience of story craft that is not quite like other books you might pick up. I like delving outside my regular reading adventures, always seeking to not only expand my literary horizons, but to enjoy the bliss of discovery of new authors I might not have had the pleasure of knowing otherwise. Bee Summers is the kind of story that settles into your heart and your whet with anxious anticipation to read once the book is alighted in your hands!

I am always so happily curious about how a book will arrive in the Post, as oft-times I receive books for review direct from publishers, but evenso, there are sometimes a surprise of two in store for me! When I opened the book parcel for Bee Summers, a lovely little postcard featuring the cover art and the synopsis on the reverse side smiled up at me as I discovered it inside the novel itself! On the reverse side, a lovely handwritten note from the author graced the open space which reminded me of a postcard! I did not want to have the ink bleed or smudge whilst reading the novel, which is why I used one of the lovely double-sided bookmarks Ms. Astie sent me with her novels French Twist & French Toast! I never expect little extras with the books I receive, but oh! How my heart is filt with joy when I find something the author has tucked into the book! I appreciate their words enscribed on the postcard / notecards as much as words inked directly onto the books themselves! Little pieces of whispered joy ahead of reading their stories!

I must confess, part of my interest in Bee Summers lies within the fact beekeeping is included as part of the story’s arc! I have been an appreciator of bees for quite a long while, but when their fate and ours as a whole became entwined to the other, I daresay, I rally behind anyone who will have the kind grace to place a shining light on their culture and their significance of worth. The bees need us more than ever, and I am thankful to find their essence is still being included in fiction in a positive way.

Book Synopsis:

The spring she is eleven years old, Melissa Singer’s mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer her father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

Author Biography:

Melanie DuganMelanie Dugan is the author of Dead Beautiful (“the writing is gorgeous,” A Soul Unsung), Revising Romance, and Sometime Daughter.

Born in San Francisco, Dugan has lived in Boston, Toronto, and London, England, and has worked in almost every part of the book world: in libraries and bookstores, as a book reviewer; she was Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, where she also served as managing editor of Poetry Canada Review and Quarry Magazine. She has worked in journalism, as a freelancer, and as visual arts columnist. Dugan studied at the University of Toronto Writers Workshop and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has a post-graduate degree in Creative Writing from Humber College. She has done numerous public readings.

Her short stories have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her partner and their two sons.

 

The voice of Melissa Singer reminds me of Calpurnia Tate:

As I opened the first page into Chapter One, I was acutely aware of the voice of Melissa Singer reminding me of one of my most earnestly beloved re-reads this year, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate! A novel I discovered through my local library and had in effect read whilst I had a journal off-line yet never had the chance to properly stitch my thoughts together after reading its mirth of gentle wisdom. As soon as you step inside the first paragraph of Bee Summers you know in your heart your settling in for a gentle whisper of a story which is going to tug at your heart-strings and be as gentle as sitting on a gliding swing on a Southern front porch whilst the fireflies dance in front of your eyes. I loved seeing the grace of acknowledging the intimate details of her surroundings through the eyes of an innocent young girl who still could see the beauty in the ordinary and how the ordinary can be quite extraordinary.

I also felt a kinship of her intuitiveness stemming out of the character of Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie. Although mind you, dear hearts, I have only seen the motion picture and am bent on reading the lovely hardback copy I have at some point in the future! It was simply one of those things where the film dropped ahead of my ability to read the novel, but within the motion picture I found a setting, a towne, and a unconventional family that all of us can appreciate wanting to curate in our own lives. The film had a heart pulse all of its own, and whose essence I am sure mirrored the story within the novel.

My review of Bee Summers:

It is not often that a story starts off by placing you full center on the plight of little house guests who are growing in numbers each day they visit the central lead character! The bees in the kitchen had me wondering about the larger scope of the story gently unfolding in front of my heart. Dugan has the grace of acknowledging how you can be a caretaker of a species but also how you have to take care of yourself if the species you are looking after starts to take up residence in a place that is not conducive to communal living. She does not shy away from showing how even those who protect bees sometimes have to make choices where you have to divide the territory between the bees and their beekeepers.

The eccentrically loveable Aunt Hetty is quite the charming character who not only entered Melissa’s life at a crucial moment of her eleventh summer, but she helped changed the direction of the family’s life. I appreciated seeing how the care and concern of a widow the father knew, strengthened the father’s resolve to relocate to the small towne she lived in. A towne that gave his daughter Melissa a new freedom of living outside of a city and the joy of exploring the bliss of childhood outside the confines of a city block. Aunt Hetty has the classic house which is overflowing in life spilt into corners, nooks, and crannies to where stepping through her house is a bit of a labyrinth of a maze! The amassed collection of items were not only a wonderment to Melissa but to the reader who reads the story! Such a diverse collection of knickknacks and odd objects!

On the fringes of understanding her world is about to change Lissy (Melissa’s pet name by her father), decides to embrace the changes a bit at a time, and take her father up on his suggestion of an adventure. Travel as he takes the bees on their pollination runs and study on the road instead of finishing out the school year at home. In her own quiet way, Lissy is fusing together the pieces of what is and what is not yet said aloud to her. She is growing in her awareness of the world outside the sphere of her childhood, as much as she is not yet ready to accept the reality of where her Mom has walked off too. The story yields to her sense of direction and of her ability to adapt to how life evolves as she greets each day anew.

Once out on the road, Lissy’s world starts to expand in new ways, as she starts to meet the customers her father is hired to help with his bees. My favourite of all the stops was actually her first encounter at Earl’s house. He had this beautiful laid back manner about him which made you feel warm and comfortable in his presence. His house was on the modest side, but his farm meant the world to him, which you could tell from the passages where Lissy and her father spent helping him about the place. They encountered a lonely husband longing for his wife to return from being away on the second leg, and by the time they reached the farm for Opal and Les, Lissy was starting to realise just how different each family in the world could be. Her first impression of Opal was of a woman who was trying a bit too hard to be friends, but as time eased throughout the week of her stay it is what she observed that changed her opinion about her. I liked how each transition on the road trip provided keen insights into the ways of the world as much as the juxtaposition of how Lissy was raised by her parents. She was starting to put the pieces together on how she viewed life and the world around her; which is why the trip was having such an effect on her thought processes.

By the time I reached Chapter 12, my heart’s emotional keel was eclipsed as the truth of the distances which had spread between Lissy and her father came to startling reality of truth. As the tears slipped through my eyes, I realised that the jutting punch of the story is held within the in-between hours of the character’s lives. Those little moments where as they are lived feel indifferent to the whole of what they mean to the person who is living them, yet when reflected upon later are full of warmth and remembrance. The little moments of each of our lives are what gives our tapestry its glistening edge. The foundation of every family is communication and within Lissy’s years of maturing youth, the fragmented hours where her ability to communicate with her father broke down the wall of love which used to encase them with a fierce grip of strength.

Her mother’s absence in her life and the years of silent questionings therein, left a chasm of indifference and swelling anguish intermixed with anger towards her father’s lack of explanations. Her choice was to mirror her mother’s, exiting her father’s life as easily and as seamlessly as her mother had many years before her to the brink that she quite literally managed to erase him out of her mind and heart. And, like real life’s counterpart to the story, by the time Lissy is a married wife and mother herself, learnt all to late how ill-comforting it is to realise the mistakes you’ve made in the past cannot be easily mended in the future. Regrets fuse together, and lost hours stack against the timeclock of your life. It is only how you can choose to accept the path you’ve walked and the lessons you’ve learnt along the corridor of your life, that can truly set you free. Allowing you to let go of your past ghosts and step into the light of the morning with a sense of renewal for where you’ve been.

The bees | secondary characters:

One of the pure delights of the novel are the bees themselves, as they take on the role as secondary characters and in some places, nearly felt as a narrator as to precognitively alert the reader of where the story might head next. I like the subtle inclusions of their hive’s presence, as much as their bee attributes being quite stellar in showcasing their bee qualities of personality! I enjoyed learning a bit about their flying patterns, walking statures of dance, and how in effect, the bees take to their keepers as much as their keepers enjoy watching over their bees! They were a delightful inclusion, and perhaps a bit of a metaphoric undertone to the key bits of the story as well. Bees by nature align and live by a certain code of curious ambiguity as for as much as we know about their culture within the hive and their interactions with the natural environment, there is a larger number of unknowns. Perhaps in this way, the bees were as much as a viewing of transitions in the seasons of life that are not readily explained nor understood could occupy the backdrop of a young girl whose growing-up realising her mother left her without the blessing of an explanation.

I liked how the sequences with the bees were as innocent and lovely as the observations of Lissy inside the narrative of her younger years. Each of them were a bit in tune with the innocent side of life, as the bees went about their duties as pollinators to encourage the growth of the fruit and veg that needed their assistance. Likewise, Lissy looked out at her road adventure with a fresh pair of eyes ready to embrace what came her way with a joyful heart, if a tender one full of concern for her mother.

Ms. Dugan’s gift for story-telling within notes of grace:

In the back of the novel, there is a stamp of acknowledgement from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, as the author received Creative Writing Grant from the Ontario Arts Council and a Work in Progress Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Two grants I had not known about previously, and felt were given to a writer who deserved the recognition of what the awarding of them could gain her writing. I have heard of writing grants previously, but as far as I’m aware of, I have not yet read a writer who used them to finish a novel I’ve read. How wonderful there are creative ways to pursue one’s love of writing and of setting one’s stories free to fly into the world, where readers like I feel not only blessed but honoured to have made their acquaintance!

She gave the father a wicked sense of logic in the story, such as resolving the issue of a ‘suitcase’ for their impromptu adventure on the road by using brown paper bags! I had a good chucklement on this scene, because it showed how the father wanted to solve the issue at hand but not show his uncertainty in how to go about it. She etched into Bee Summers an honest impression of how a father deals with the sudden exit of a wife and how he must choose how to face the reality of being a single father without a net of protection to see them both through to the next tomorrow. She guides the reader through the motions of their lives with such a flickerment of subtle acknowledgements of seasons and life moments, that by the time you alight in a harder hitting moment of clarity, the emotional conviction hits you front and center, and you feel appreciative that you were being guided by a steady hand and keen observer of the way in which an emotional drama can be told with a deft eye for grace.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThis Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

Bee Summers
by Melanie Dugan
Source: Direct from Author

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by Upstart Press

on 15th May, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 191

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comVirtual Road Map of “Bee Summers” Blog Tour:

Monday, May 19th: Review @ Sara’s Organized Chaos

Tuesday, May 20th: Review @ BookNAround

Thursday, May 22nd: Review @ Book Dilettante

Friday, May 23rd: Review @ Open Book Society

Tuesday, May 27th: Review @ A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, May 28th: Review @ Literally Jen

Monday, June 2nd: Review @ Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, June 3rd: Review @ Forever Obsession

Wednesday, June 4th: Review @ Karen’s Korner Blog

Tuesday, June 10th: Review @ Bibliotica

Monday, June 16th: The Most Happy Reader

Tuesday, June 17th: Review @ Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 18th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, June 25th: She’s God Books On Her Mind

Thursday, June 26th: The Road to Here

TBD: Karen’s Korner

TBD: Giraffe Days

Please visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

{SOURCES: Book cover for “Bee Summers”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, and Book Synopsis  were provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Apiculture, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Coming-Of Age, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Honeybees, Indie Art, Indie Author, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Small Towne Fiction, Sudden Absence of Parent, The Natural World, The Sixties, TLC Book Tours