Monday, May 17, 2021


I have another dystopian book for you today. I plan on branching out to other genres soon, but this one was too good to pass up.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Everyone gets the Mark. It gives all the benefits of citizenship. Yet if getting the Mark is such a good thing, then why does it feel so wrong? 

Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.  

The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It’s almost Logan Langly’s 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago . . . and never came back. 

When Logan and his friends discover the truth behind the Mark, will they ever be able to go back to being normal teenagers? Find out in the first book of this exciting series that is Left Behind meets Matched for middle-grade readers.

What I liked:

  1. World building: The key to a good dystopian, fantasy, or sci novel is the world building. And for me, the backstory of why the world is the way it is has to make logical sense. (Don’t get me started on the dystopians where they banish stupid people!) Angler did a great job with including some fun elements (houses are built in stories since land is too expensive), while having logical reasons for why the world worked as it did.   
  2. Sympathetic Main Characters: I thought both Logan, with his anxiety and missing sister, and Erin, with her interest in spying and longing to get her family back together, were well-drawn and realistic. Having completely different ways of looking at the world added to the tension. 
  3. A dystopian that’s really a mystery. If I were to categorize this book, I’d put it more firmly in the category of mystery, but with a dystopian setting. I liked discovering along with Logan and Erin what was really happening to those who took the mark, who the Dust were, and what happened to Logan’s sister. 
  4.  A main character you can look up to: I read a book with a similar plot line where the main character didn’t rise to the challenge when faced with a difficult choice. But this book was different. By the end of the book, Logan wasn’t satisfied to hide and stay safe. He was willing to risk his life to find out the truth about his sister—and that’s the kind of hero I love. 
  5. An ending that gave closure, even though it’s a start of a series. It’s frustrating when the first book of a series ends on a cliffhanger that doesn’t tie up any lose ends. This book had a clear climax and resolution, but left a few open threads for the next book, which I’m reading right now.

Minor Quibbles: This book is multiple point of view. While I felt like that worked most of the time with Erin and Logan, when other characters’ POVs were included, it got a little muddy for me. But this was a small thing.

 Book trailer:

About the author (from the author's website):

Who is Evan Angler?

Evan Angler is safe, for now. He lives without the Mark, evading DOME and writing in the shadows of Beacon.

As a kid he was quiet and well-behaved, having grown up in a town not unlike Spokie, where he enjoyed music, drawing, hover-dodge, astrophysics, hiking, virtual reality . . .

None of that matters now.

Evan Angler is the author of the Swipe Series. But if anyone asks, you know nothing about it, and you didn't hear anything from him. Don't make eye contact if you see him. Don't call his name out loud. He's in enough trouble already.

And so are you, if you've read his books.


                                                Evan Angler  


Don’t you just love that bio?

What books have you loved lately?    

 If you'd like to read more middle grade reviews or join in the MMGM fun, go to Greg Pattridge's Always in the Middle blog. 


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

ISWG: The Surprising Effect of Your Own Words


I still remember the first time  my writing affected someone else. My aunt died of leukemia when I was in junior high, and I wrote a very thinly veiled short story about someone dying from cancer. I gave it to my best friend, and she cried.

As clich├ęd as that is, that was one of the first sparks that made me what to be a writer. Not that I wanted to make people cry, but I wanted my writing to affect people.

Over the years, I’ve often gauged my writing skill by people’s reactions. There was the time I attempted to create heroine with a very big character arc. Well, she was unlikable and her character arc paltry, and I’m thankful for the critique partners who told me so—to my surprise.

There have been many other times that people’s reactions stopped me short and made me rethink my story or my characters.

I’m not sure if this is a sign of growth, but I’m finding that the longer I write, the less I am surprised by people’s reactions. Of course, most of my audience is other writers, but I’m finding more and more when I write a funny scene, other people do laugh. Except for my teenage friend, I don’t know anyone else who cried.

I will keep working on this—trying to make what emotion I want to evoke on the page actually come across to the reader.

That is the hardest task of writing, but the most satisfying.

Has your writing affected other people in surprising ways?

Insecure Writer's Support Group:

 Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back. 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG. Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 
Remember, the question is optional!

May 5 question - Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?