The book reviews that really matter

write-a-reviewWhen your hot-off-the-press book is released into the world there’s a trembly period of time when you obsess over how its audience is going to receive it. There’s a lot to be learned by reading the professional reviews but when someone from your targeted audience writes and tells you that your book touched them in some way… well, that’s all that really matters. After receiving the following review I knew that the time spent writing and editing this book was worth it. It was also a reminder to go back to my old practise of reviewing the books I love.

Oh Shelley Shelley Shelley!

I barely know what to say besides thank you for writing Dancing in the Rain. Wow.  I have JUST finished your book. I laughed, I shrieked, and I most definitely bawled my eyes out. You wrote such a beautiful, emotional, truthful, heart wrenchingly wonderful follow up (to Dancing Naked.) I could not have ask for anything more.
I will be honest, there were parts that were incredibly emotional for me to read. So much of my own life’s experiences could connect with this story. I found myself looking back over my own life and my adoption and how that got me to where I am. And who I am. So many of the questions Brenna had for Kia, I too once had about my own “other” life. I could honestly talk about this for hours. I am just so happy and thankful for this book. I think it has really hit a spot for me and I know I will hold it dear forever.

I just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about your wonderful book with you. Thank you, Shelley.  (shared with permission)

And thank you, Christy Brain!

Thinking Like a Teenager

Gotcha! wpMy books are written for a teenage audience, so when teenagers review them I really pay attention to what they have to say. Did I get the ‘voice’ right? The following quote is from a recent teen review of my novel Gotcha! Phew! It seems I nailed it. I suspect that it was because I was living with three teens while I wrote the book that I was able to think like a teen, and not someone “decades older”, which, of course. I am. Now that my own teens are young adults, I may have to adopt a teen in order to stay current!

“I found the characters in the novel to be quite believable. In the past, I’ve read books aimed towards teenagers, where the characters personalities and actions were inconceivable. In those cases, it was obvious that the authors had not been teenagers for many, many decades. They are written such that it makes it seem as if the author is an outsider looking in. On the other hand, Shelley Hrdlitschka writes with such brilliant pose it’s as if she’s a teenager herself. She understands the highschool dynamic very well. She knows that friendships don’t last forever and that people whom you once had an alliance with, can turn their back on you in a heartbeat, both scenarios reflected in this novel.” Read the entire review here:!Gotcha-Thorough-Novel-Review/cmbz/556a56260cf298b2d3f31483

Weaving Fact With Fiction

Prodigal Summer I’m always inspired by the way Barbara Kingsolver weaves scientific facts into her novels without bogging down the story. A less skilled writer would risk sounding heavy-handed or preachy but she does it masterfully. When I finish reading one of her books I always feel I’ve learned something without having had to slog through a science journal. It probably helps that we share some of the same passions, but still…

The environment and all its creatures are featured in Kingsolver’s novel Prodigal Summer which I’m currently reading. This conversation between a woman and a child explains, very simply, the devastation of clear-cutting a forest.

“You could cut down all these trees and make a pile of money.”
“I could,” Lusa said. “Then I’d have a pile of money and no trees.”
“So? Who needs trees?”
“About nineteen million bugs, for starters. They live in the leaves, under the bark, everywhere. Just close your eyes and point, and you’re pointing at a bug.”
“So? Who needs nineteen million bugs?”
“Nineteen thousand birds that eat them.”
“So? Who needs birds?”
“I do. You do…… not to mention, the rain would run straight down the mountain and take all the topsoil off my fields. The creek would be pure mud. This place would be a dead place.”
Crys shrugged. “Trees grow back.”
“That’s what you think. This forest took hundreds of years to get like this.”
“Like what?”
“Just how it is, a whole complicated thing with parts that all need each other, like a living body. It’s not just trees; it’s different kinds of trees, all different sizes, in the right proportions. Every animal needs its own special plant to live on. And certain plants will only grow next to certain other kinds, did you know that?” Continue reading