Book Reviews and Other News

Since starting my preschool in September, I’ve not read a single novel.  Sad, but true.  At least it was until last weekend when I devoured three books. 


By Kody Keplinger

This is a tough book for me to review, as I read it through the eyes of a mom with a fourteen-year-old daughter.  The amount of swearing and sex was disturbing to say the least.  Not that children aren’t faced with this kind of thing in the halls at school, but to me, literature has always been an escape from the nastiness of real life. 

Yet I suppose I should have suspected a bit of hubbub from a book written about the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. 

However, when I put my child advocate hat on, I could appreciate the honesty of the main character and the addictive nature she fights with as she struggles through her parents’ divorce.  Instead of using alcohol to ease the depression and confusion, she turns to sex to numb her from the pain. 

In the end, Ms. Keplinger did a wonderful job of portraying low self-esteem and the fight for self-respect.  The characters were believable and the message was subtle.  Maybe a bit too subtle for my taste, as I picture some kids not quite getting that casual sex is a bad thing since the MC ends up with her bed partner.  Spoiler.  Sorry. 

Definitely worth the read if you can get past the language and into the meat of the story.  Definitely not something I will pass on to my Dear Daughter until she adds a few years to her age—though that’s likely just my over-protectiveness coming out.


By Scott Westerfeld 

These are two books I would let DD read right now.  I tested the first in the series (UGLIES) this past summer and just now had the time to enjoy the last two.  And enjoy, I did.  In fact, I read the page-turning SPECIALS in five hours. 

At the heart of these stories, Mr. Westerfeld addresses human nature and the ability to triumph or succumb to outside pressures based on our inherent personalities.  I know, sounds dry and psychological, but they’re not.  Trust me.

They are action-packed, character-driven adventures set in a dystopian future. 

The thing I loved most about these books was the depth of the characters.  The protags were flawed and the antags had redeeming qualities.  My second favorite thing: the wide range of emotions and desires Mr. Westerfeld captured throughout the series.  This grass-is-always-greener approach led the MC through many thought-provoking scenarios where the fate of others rested in her hands. 

My only complaint—comes from the mother in me—was the cutting in the second book.  This form of pain relief is so prominent amongst youngsters these days and I hated to see it so up-front.  However, the handling of it was honest enough that it worked.

 One thing Mr. Westerfeld does is gets kids.

Now, for the News 

  1. I’m attending the Iowa Region’s SCBWI conference this weekend.  It proves to be amazing, and I am open to any questions you may have.  Please leave a comment or shoot me an email letting me know what you want to know and I’ll try to find the answer during my amazing three days with industry professionals.
  2. I have officially finished my MG novel revision.  Now it needs a once over and it’s ready to send to my agent.  Yay!  This book has been long in the making (six years) and I hope I did it justice with my latest epiphany.  It’s amazing how much we grow as we write, edit, commiserate with peers and polish our prose.  I love it.  The whole process is a journey worth taking, whether publication is the end product or not. 
  3. I have a secret.  A very big secret that will go viral tomorrow, Friday, April 1st.  It’s not an April Fools joke, but rather, a great tool for any writer of any level regardless of genre or age group you write for.

Please, please, please check back here tomorrow for the details.  And once the cat is out of the bag, I urge you to pass along the info to anyone you know, love or respect who ever hopes to someday see their name in print.

So, as a reader, what’s your latest read?  Anything I can download on my Kindle for the quiet evenings in my hotel room this weekend?  I’d love to get your suggestions.

As a writer, what do you most want to know about the writing industry?  Are you currently craft-centered or are you looking for publishing tips that can lead you to your dream agent and subsequent publication?  Does the e-revolution tickle your fancy or is traditional publishing your ideal?

 Inquiring minds want to know!


13 responses to “Book Reviews and Other News

  1. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is on the top of the Read This or DIE! list. Unfortunately I also have a Read This or PERISH! list so I have to find a way to balance the two.

    And I think I know your secret… 🙂 There’ll be two cats out of the bag tomorrow. (Bad joke. My excuse – I can’t help it).

  2. As a reader, just read Matched by Allie Condy and it was FANTASTIC. I believe it will also meet your chastity requirement just fine. 🙂

    As a writer, I’m in a “want to learn anything I can” kind of place. I’m researching the query process AND striving to become a better writer.

    I’m not especially threatened by the idea of e-publishing, though I dearly love print books and would hate to say goodbye to them entirely. Then again, I used to feel that way about music too–not wanting to lose the physical object of a CD–but now I adore the flexibility of digital music files. So I guess in the end, as long as I get the stories, I’ll be all right.

    And finally, you know nobody likes a TEASE! But you are smart in one way–of course I’ll come back tomorrow to find out your news.

    • You’d come back tomorrow anyway! Or at least sometime in the near future.

      I think my secret is perfect for you and can’t wait to find out what you think. I also tend to agree with you on the flexibility that digital files provide us. I love my Kindle for this very reason. Though don’t let that fool you. I do love my print books as well. It’s my one bad habit, but one that is so good for me on so many levels…now the check book? We won’t talk about that!

      Thanks for the book rec. Chastity is not an issue unless DD is going to read it. Then I want pristine white sheets covers! Er, whatever. LOL. Checking out the book now.

      • Yes, and I mentioned the chastity because Matched is YA and I think it would be a good one for your daughter too! 🙂

        I am excited to hear your news!

      • Did you just sign up for AQ? I hope so!

        I checked out Matched and it’s not available on Kindle, so I’ll have to wait until I find a brick and mortar. Sometimes living rural is a bummer.

        Hope spring is in full swing for you. I swear one year I’m going to come visit. Maybe do a writer’s conference and chase plot bunnies through your garden.


  3. I know your secret! It’s the same as my secret! We may have to rename April Fool’s Day, because this will be no joke.

  4. Pingback: Book Reviews and Other News « Words from the Woods | eBook Reviews

  5. Westerfeld is a fabulous writer – I love his work! The Uglies stories are always being read by the older kids in our school!

    I’m SO looking forward to tomorrow!!

  6. I just found your blog through Jemi’s. Hi! I’m almost finished with the “Uglies” series – reading “Extras” now. I can relate to your reluctance to recommend the books because of “cutting.” I may wait to give these to my 12 year old because of that. Westerfeld is awesome and I really enjoyed his “Leviathan” (haven’t read Behemoth yet).

    One of my favorite YA novels has been, “Anna and the French Kiss,” by Stephanie Perkins. Definitely an unputdownable book with terrific voice.

    • Checking out Anna and the French Kiss right now. Sounds great.

      I haven’t read Leviathan yet, though I pick it up and pet the cover every time I walk into the book store. Maybe I’m hoping it will follow me home!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Jemi is pretty awesome.

      Hugs and hope to see you around!

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