April Book Reviews, News, & Offers
This past month, my YA Contemporary novel, Starvation, received an Independent Press Award (IPA), making it officially an award-winning novel. If you haven't gotten your copy yet, subscribe to my newsletter for $3 off a signed paperback!
I'm also working on two projects that will be exclusive for subscribers-- a list of my favorite YA novels by category for readers (especially mental health novels), and a list of cost-effective or free book marketing/review ideas for authors (including what worked, and what failed, when launching Starvation).
I read and reviewed two books last month, Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn (young adult contemporary) and Innate: A Chance Dawson Story by Eric Carter (middle grade, urban fantasy/sci fi).
Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn
Wow. This was a book I didn’t know I needed to read until I did.
I was swept up by the beginning with beautiful imagery and compelling characters, could barely put the book down until I finished it, and have been left thinking about it well afterward. As a Midwesterner raised in the Christian church, I feel strongly that Hahn’s tackling of purity culture, hypocrisy, and sin in light of the 21st century is not only refreshing but also long overdue in young adult literature.
I know if I had read this at a younger age, I would have had to endure less shame, stigma, and guilt. More importantly, I may have been able to avoid toxic relationships, both romantic and platonic, that thrived in this environment of secrecy and self-blame.
On a less thematic level, the characters felt whole and unique, the plot was both intriguing and realistic, and the descriptions were oftentimes poetic. As a writer myself, I often have trouble getting sucked into a story (as I find myself analyzing it) but I was completely immersed in this book.
The only thing I would have wanted different is a personal stylistic preference— I didn’t love the dialogue as much as the rest of the book.
All-in-all, this is a book that anyone raised in a Christian environment needs to read, especially if they are female-identifying. Hahn is a talented writer and has brought to life realistic characters and important themes in a way that will stick with you long after the book is over.
Innate: A Chance Dawson Story by Eric Carter
All-in-all, I love the disability representation (epilepsy) and its role as a kind of superpower. I think kiddos could benefit from reading this, especially if they have, or know someone who has, epilepsy. Also, Chance is not afraid to express his emotions which is a great concept to encourage in young readers.
I had a hard time choosing what to rate this, because it reminds me a lot of my first novel, InSomnus, with realistic scifi/fantasy, a government that may or may not be trustworthy, and family playing an important role. I also don't read as much middle grade as young adult or adult fiction.
I'm giving it 4/5 stars because I wish the plot were slightly different, which would have elevated the writing to an even higher level. Namely, I wanted Chance to have another layer of goal(s) that felt more tangible and in-his-control, beyond trying to save his brother. There were a lot of unknowns and his goal felt too big. As such, I didn't feel immediate tension (ie he even decides not to go to the tree house for a few days). I think this would have also characterized him further and allowed for more immediate and tense action. That being said, as a debut novel, its clear that Carter is a talented author with a bright future in writing.
Ownvoices stories are incredibly important (ie the author shares an identity with the protagonist). This is especially true for males with nervous system/mental health ailments, who are less represented in literature. Further, having male protagonists in MG and YA is important to encourage reading in male-identifying readers.
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