This weekend I read my friend Yvonne Ventresca’s GREAT novel PANDEMIC. It is so much fun to read a book where you have been part of the journey and to see it take flight. With that in mind, I truly believe my review is dead-on and not misleading in anyway.
Even though this book came out in May (of course written a few years before that), Yvonne has linked into the current Ebola news of the day. This is a real gift for her, so I hope she takes advantage by contacting radio shows, who I know would like to talk about such a timely topic.
Yvonne has managed to write a dark tale woven around a contemporary coming of age story. The book shows the dark side and the light side of humanity. Lil, the main character, struggles through the death of friends and family, deals was past demons, overcomes grief and sorrow, and helps the community, all while her parents are away and can’t get home.
The book is a great read. The reader don’t want to put the book down. You can tell that Yvonne did her research on pandemics, medicine, medical protocol because she is dead-on about how quickly society could spin out of control if a contagion hits us and sweeps the globe. I never once found myself saying, “really?” and you know how often someone reading as a writer will do that.
There are great page turning chapter endings and very nice similes and metaphors throughout the book. So if you like books with a great mix of dark elements, sadness, sweetness, love, sexual tension, and suspense, then you will enjoy this book. It might be YA, but adults will love it too, just like they did another YA book, THE HUNGER GAMES. I give this a 5 out of 5 stars.
Note: Please read to the bottom.
I thought I would write about another book I read this week, FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park. This book came out two years ago and was on the NY Times Best Seller List. I bought it on my Kindle, back then and just found the time to read it last week. Why did I buy it? I liked the cover, the sample that I read, and the price was right ($3.99).
This is another contemporary book that I really enjoyed. It is about an 18 year old girl from Ohio who arrives in Boston to start her first year of college and realizes the room where she is supposed to live does not exist and there are no rooms left to rent.
The thing that is interesting is that this is another example of a successful self-published book. I took the time to type out what Jessica said at the end of her book because I think it will give you food for thought.
Here is Jessica Park:
Amazon has changed my life, and without them I might not be writing anymore. I’m not a fan of playing by rules, and knowing that I might self-publish through KDP let me write. I got to write FLAT-OUT LOVE with total abandon. I got to write the story that I wanted to – the one I believed in – not the one that I thought legacy publishers would want me to. Deciding to self-publish this book was the smartest thing I’ve done. Now that I’ve signed with Amazon Children’s Publishing, I get to hold on to so many of the benefits that I’ve had, but now with the added support of a dynamic team. ACP not only supports writing outside of the box, they embrace it, and signing over FLAT-OUT LOVE and my next book to such a stupendous team is pure joy. Associate Publisher Tim Ditlow and the entire publishing team at Amazon are outstanding: their belief in me and in my career is deeply humbling, and I am deeply grateful. I have true partners now, and there is no better feeling. Amazon my be a massive company, but I know without a doubt that my team has heart, dedication, and a drive to try new things. They run to unchartered territory, and those are my kind of people.
My agent, Deborah Schneider, has been devoted to this book from the beginning, and she took the repeated this-book-will-never-sell rejections from traditional publishers as hard as I did. When I decided to self-publish, she cheered me on. “Give ’em hell!” she said. And I did. We did. Finally. Deborah, thank you for everything that you have done for me, and most of all thank you for letter me yell, “Congratulations! You’re still my agent!” and not hanging up on me.
Before you rush out and change direction, understand that Jessica did her homework. She had a lot of people help along the way (she talks about them too at the end of the book. She had a professional design her book cover (a very important part of marketing) and she spent the time to polish her manuscript.
Oh, you will find a couple of typos, but I have seen that in books from major publishers. I don’t even know Jessica and I am very proud of her. She has helped everyone who might decide to self-publish by putting out a book that rivals what the major publishers put out because she did not let herself lower the bar and diminish the future of the self-published book. If you decide to go that root, I hope you will work hard to do the same.