Saturday, June 11, 2011

TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER: GUEST REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED 
TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER
BY TOM McNEAL

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn't look back.

Twenty years later, Judith's marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand is what may be the phone number for the man who believed she meant it when she said she loved him. If she called, what would he say?

TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER is the epic love story of a woman trying to remember, and the man who could not even begin to forget.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tom McNeal was born in Santa Ana, California, where his father and grandfather raised oranges. He spent part of every summer at the Nebraska farm where his mother was born and raised, and after earning a BA in English at UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing at UC Irvine, he taught school in the town that was the inspiration for his first novel, Goodnight, Nebraska. Tom has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and his short stories have been widely anthologized. To find out more about Tom McNeal and his writing and life, visit his website HERE.

GUEST REVIEW -TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER:
...Reviewed by Steve Capell
The protagonist Judith is a forty four year old woman who is married to Malcolm. Judith has this belief that Malcolm is having an affair and she absolutely is obsessed with finding out with whom. Through flashbacks the reader finds out that twenty seven years ago Judith fell in love with a carpenter named Willy Blunt. Willy was Judith’s first love; however, things in her life caused the two of them to drift away. Judith now finds herself confronted by husband who she believes is cheating and by memories of Willy. She now wonders if she could maybe find Willy and if she does find her first love once again  … then what?

I will say up front that I am not huge fan of novels that use flashbacks. The main reason is that I have read so many novels where the author brought me into the story and captured my attention and then threw in a flashback without any transition or warning. The results are like driving fifty-five miles an hour into a brick wall. This novel is full of flashbacks; however, McNeal handled the flashbacks in a brilliant effective way that allowed me to keep focus on the present life of Judith and also her life as growing up as child and maturing as an adult. The way that this author transitioned to a flashback was only after a strong scene and right at a climax. This writing style allowed the story to flow and kept me interested, intrigued, and craving for more.

McNeal beautifully paints the Nebraska landscape and eloquently develops the characters with all their human flaws. I felt I was “the fly on the wall” scene after scene as this novel unfolded and gave life to this epic love story. The novel is four hundred plus pages long – every page brilliantly written. The ending has a real twist that I didn’t see coming.  I am giving this novel a 4 rating out of 5.

Here are a couple of writing examples that are absolutely brilliant from this novel.

“You know what marriage is like? Judith said nothing – these questions had become as stifling to her as knock knock jokes – but her mother went on anyway. It’s like picking the place you’re going to live for the next fifty years by using a wall map, a blindfold, and what you really, truly, deeply believe is your lucky dart.” Page 21

“I think of a cover of a book as a door to another world … but other times I think of it as an escape hatch from this one.” Page 52

Who should read this novel?

Readers who love to read love stories will find this novel as a must read. If you like to read novels that have good character development you will fall in love with this novel. Finally, if you ever wanted to be “the fly on wall” – this novel will give you a home with no fly swatters in the house.

Thanks to Steve Capell for another wonderful Guest Review.  
Steve is married to his lovely wife for 36 years now and they have grown children but their time is now spent with their two Chihuahuas. Steve's most recent review for BOOKIN' WITH BINGO prior to this one was for VACLAV AND LENA in case you missed it. Steve's first Guest Review for me was A TIME FOR PATRIOTS and you can go THERE to read more about that book and also about this good friend and wonderful reviewer!  
Thank you SO MUCH, Steve! 

GIVEAWAY
THANKS TO ANNA AND THE GOOD
FOLKS AT LITTLE, BROWN AT HACHETTE
BOOK GROUP, I HAVE TWO COPIES OF THIS
WONDERFUL NOVEL TO GIVE AWAY
 
--U.S. AND CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU READ AND HEARD ABOVE ABOUT TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER AND DON'T FORGET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING WHEN YOU VISIT AUTHOR TOM McNEAL'S WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, COMMENT ON EACH WAY SEPARATELY.

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, JUNE 24

114 comments:

heavenisabookstore said...

What a great review of the book. I really enjoyed the way it was written including the characters and the flashback information. I have felt the same way about this. Sounds like a nice book. I am hoping for a happy ending.
heavenisabookstore@gmail.com

debbie said...

I would like to see if she actually does call her first love. I would like to read the book.
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Margie said...

Enjoyed the review! I like the book author's description of a book cover. Thanks for the giveaway and please count me in.
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dogwood said...

Great review. Sounds like a book I'd I could fall into... trusting your judgement on the flashbacks.

dogwoodland at suddenlink dot net

dogwood said...

I was surprised on his website at how varied his work is.


dogwoodlane at suddenlink dot net

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lag123 said...

Awesome review Steve! I have heard of this book but now I definitely want to read it. I think everyone has a What if? I do love endings with a twist too.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

His father and grandfather raised oranges.

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Carol N Wong said...

Great review, especially about flashbacks. It takes an expert to handle them well in a book. Good to know that the flashbacks weren't jarring in this book. I would like to read this book based on the recommendation of good characer development.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

On the website,(there is a tiny link above the upper right hand corner of the picture.

I looked at the frequently asked questions.
Asked what was the inspiratuon for his book,
'Dark Water', he said the Fallbrook fires. Fallbrook is a small town north of San Diego. Apparently, he and his family live there.

My manager when I was working was also living in the area. She and her husband were told to evacuate but she was worried about her 13 newfoundland dogs. They don't take dogs in the shelter. At the office, we were hoping and praying that she would be alright.

Finally she called and said that the fires had passed her by. Now I want to read his book 'Dark Water'.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

Note: I goofed! His wife wrote 'Dark Water" instead of him. It is on my wish list now.

My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:

http://t.co/5wg41XF Giveaway of 'To Be Sung Under Water'.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

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traveler said...

I enjoyed this wonderful review. I know this book would be memorable. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

His grandfather and father grew oranges. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

mamabunny13 said...

I like the review and I'm glad you mentioned the flashbacks are not not to follow.
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

tweet http://twitter.com/#!/mamabunny13/status/79588370166185984
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mamabunny13 said...

Something I found on his website that is interesting to me is his father and grandfather raised oranges in Santa Ana, California.
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Pamela Keener said...

Thanks for the lovely review. I have always wanted to be a fly on the wall for interesting conversations.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via Google Reader
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Linda Kish said...

I enjoyed Steve's take on the book. I especially enjoyed the outtake of the 'You know what marriage is like?' part. That makes sense. No wonder my marriages never worked...I am lousy at darts.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am an Email subscriber

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Linda Kish said...

I think it's cool that Tom and his wife write together.

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petite said...

Steve's review was wonderful and I do enjoy love stories which are unique as this one most definitely is. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

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petite said...

I enjoyed learning about the author from his website. rojosho(at)hotmail (dot)com

Tore said...

I am a follower and email subscriber. I love reading about romance.Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

rubynreba said...

The book looks like a wonderful love story - I want to know if she does call him! Nice review.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

Their website was neat. I like the fact that they write together and have written different types of books.
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Pat L. said...

I loved the review and cannot wait to read this book.

I love stories of old loves from long ago.

patoct at yahoo dot com

Pat L. said...

Was surprised to see how different his types of works are.

patoct at yahoo dot com

bison61 said...

sounds great I'd love to be the fly on wall

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

holdenj said...

Great guest review Steve! I certainly want to pick up this book now, I wasn't sure what it was all about.
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holdenj said...

Tom has gotten some great reviews from some big names in the book biz! But what I like most was the graphic of the tree with his and his wife's name in a heart on it!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) said...

I enjoy books that use the "What if.." prenmise. You know, what if I ended up with my first love? And I like finding out if it's too late. I am all about the drama.

Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

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g.g. said...

Wonderful review. I enjoy books with flashbacks so think I'd really like this one.

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Amy said...

This sounds like an enthralling, beautiful book with the themes that make a great read: stunning, vividly described places, realistic, flawed characters who resemble identifiable human beings and questions about the most fundamental issues of the human condition, love and whom do we love and when do we know it and marriage, who we marry and why and finally can we do it all over agin if we discover we've made a mistake.

Thank you for this great giveaway!
Aimala127(at)gmai(dot)com

Amy said...

What I found most interesting about McNeal's website is that Tom shares it with his wife, Laura, who's also a writer and they include some great photos on the bio page. I also liked the article snippets on the news page which I went in search of. I most enjoyed the NY Times article about Tom McNeal at home in Fallbrook.

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Jolee said...

Love the Nebraska setting.... joleehamlin [at] comcast [dot] net

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Love the art on his site and the great review from the NYT. joleehamlin [at] comcast [dot] net

~Enamored Soul~ said...

Dear Karen,

Thank you SO much for your amazing reviews & giveaways. I am so sorry for being MIA for a little while now - I apologize.

That being said, "To Be Sung Underwater" sounds like an amazing book. How many of us have, at some point in time, wondered..."what if"...and this book seems to be the kind of book that would effectively deal with such an issue. I'd love to find out exactly what did Willy say, if/when he picked up Judith's call! :)

Thank you for this amazing giveaway opportunity! :D

~Hira~
GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

~Enamored Soul~ said...

First of all, I absolutely LOVE the cover. There is something so serene & peaceful about it-and I love that it's the first thing that appears on the website! :) Also, I love the drawings/animation on the website - although rudimentary in nature, there's something so very endearing about them! :D

Also, I find it so interesting that a farm in Nebraska that Tom & Laura McNeal visit often, has now become the background, or the source of inspiration for the setting of their novels! :D

~Hira~
GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

~Enamored Soul~ said...

I tweeted the giveaway:

http://twitter.com/#!/inluvwithbookz/status/83622015675797505

~Hira~
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Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

~Enamored Soul~ said...

I'm a GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~

~Hira~
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I'm a Twitter Follower: @inluvwithbookz

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

I'm a confirmed Email Subscriber.

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