Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, August 9, 2010


First off, thank you everyone for your sympathetic and encouraging comments for my last post. Every so often I just have to moan. At least it was a short one, and now on to bigger and better things-- a book review for The Freak Observer by Blythe Wooston, a brand new release by one of my blogger/twitter friends. Blythe sent me a copy, and I read it in one night. It's a YA genre but as she says,  "It's short on prom dresses and long on theoretical physics and murdered chickens."

It's also short on cliches (there are none, it's fresh and original) and long on brilliant writing! Here's an excerpt where the main character Loa, who's being brought home in a cop car, describes where she lives:

The road curves around the old pasture fence. There is our barn where nothing lives anymore. The house huddles in the dark, smaller than the barn and almost as empty.

Thin grey light escapes the windows of the kitchen and bathroom. I know the trooper is going to that door, the back door, in the middle of the scabbed-on addition to the main house. The real front door faces the creek because the house turns its back on the road. Nothing good ever comes from that direction. That's what the house seems to believe.

This book is sort of like the female version of Catcher in the Rye. Or maybe it would be what Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird might write as a senior in high school, if her best friend had died, and her world had fallen apart, giving her nightmares and PTSD. Can you tell I'm saying "literary classic" here? Because it really is a brilliant little book. I loved the scientific references, and the classroom bits at the beginning of each chapter were ingenious. 

How lovely to read an intelligent YA novel once again. It had been awhile. Like maybe two decades? I wish The Freak Observer could become a huge hit and bring back the thoughtful, well-written, coming of age YA novel that's been missing from the genre for quite some time.

I'm not thrilled by the cover art, but taking off the flyleaf you have a lovely little red hard-cover book with a cool imprinted graphic on the front. A graphic that would have made a much better cover but oh well, you can't have everything. I just hope the very odd cover graphics don't hurt sales, because this is a book that deserves to be bought and read and re read. And please write more, Blythe. I'm a fan.

Go to Blythe's blog for more info on her and her book, and for ordering information.


  1. Karen, thanks for the great review, what a big compliment to be described as like a female 'catcher in the rye', one of my all time favourites.
    Good to hear of an up and coming talent, even my 13 year old girl gets tired of the same old plot lines, they are smarter than we give them credit for.

  2. I have always loved YA books, and still do. This one sounds wonderful. I'm going into her blog right now. Thanks for the excellent review.

  3. All I want to know now is what the cover is like. I will go and check out her blog to find out. It's refreshing to read original words. Especially from a YA author.


  4. Intelligent and without vampires? That is original!

  5. What Scout from to Kill a Mockingbird would have written as a senior and a female version of Catcher in the Rye?!?!

    Wow. I want!!

    Thanks for this amazing review!
    take care

  6. Great review - sounds like an excellent book!

  7. Great, concise review, Karen. I'm glad you included this brilliant quote: "It's short on prom dresses and long on theoretical physics and murdered chickens." Ha ha! sounds quite intriguing.

  8. Enjoyed the review, sounds like a great book. Best of luck to the author.

    Thoughts in Progress

  9. A very nice review. The book sounds interesting. Thanks for telling us about it.

  10. Sounds great, I like YA, I shall go and check out her blog.

  11. It's refreshing to see a YA book without a zombie or vampire. I will definitely check out her blog.

  12. Thanks for the review. I'll check it out.

  13. Great review...definitely worth checking out!

  14. This sounds cool. Thanks for the info, Karen!


  15. Yep, I hear you on the cover art. A bit off-putting. But the story sounds great. Your review makes me want to read it!

  16. Great review Karen. Sounds like an interesting read. Will check it out.

  17. Oh, this sounds like something I'd enjoy. Thanks for the tip, Karen.


  18. You have me super curious now what the cover's like! Sounds like a great read - thanks for the review, Karen.