I’ve Never Done a Book Review but Omigosh I’ve Got To

Taking a little detour from the normal today, but I can’t help it. Here’s why.

Because I read a book. Nothing earth-shattering there. If you read this blog at all, you know that I read. I read a lot. I read books and books and more books all year long, rarely spending more than twenty-four hours without one in my hand. I also write them. I write them and I write them and I write them. So pretty much every hour of every day, I’ve got some kind of book stuck in my head. Either mine or someone else’s. Books make me happy. Books make me sad. Books make me think. I especially adore books that make me do all three at the same time.

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m telling you this. Again. Maybe you’re wondering this, or maybe not. But I’ll explain it anyway.

I’ve never, and I mean never, read a book that made me feel absolutely everything I could possibly feel—scrubbed raw and wrung out and cried out and twisted in knots and weary with relief—in the simple confines of 400 pages. Ever. Until now.

Seriously, toss out an emotion, and reading this book made me feel it. Sadness. Loneliness. Frustration. Happiness. Hunger. Despair. Isolation. Hopelessness. Giddiness. Joy. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Bitterness. Acceptance. Hope. Love. Relief. I could keep going, but you get the point.

Let me start by saying that I don’t know Katja Millay—never met her before, have no idea what she looks like, have no vested interest in the outcome of her career. I followed her on Twitter this week and noticed about four-hundred other people were, too, so it seems that not a lot of other people know her either. By this time next
year, I have a feeling that will completely change.

Because her book. Her. Book.

The Sea of Tranquility is an indie-published novel, which means the author wrote it, edited it, and uploaded it without the help of professionals in the publishing industry. Trust me, this lady did everything right. From what I’ve read about her experience (because I look this stuff up, because I like to know other people’s publishing journeys to see if I’m normal or really, really weird—jury’s still out), the author wrote it with pens and crayons on whatever scraps of paper she could find, pieced it all together, and then self-published it about six weeks ago. It’s a fabulous book. It’s the rare kind of book that makes an author like me cringe at my cute little attempt at writing and wonder why I even try. Why I didn’t think of all those incredible metaphors. Why I can’t structure every single sentence so beautifully. So perfectly. So flawlessly that they all have a point and eventually all come together. Why I can’t make such a powerful imagery out of a jar of pennies. Why I even bother to try when there is so much better out there. And this is definitely one of the “so much betters.”

Apparently publishers agree. From what I read yesterday, the author just signed a big deal with Simon and Schuster. In six weeks time. In every scenario I know of, that just doesn’t happen. I’m not surprised.

For those of you who need a plot: It’s about a boy with issues and a girl with issues. And that’s all I’m giving you. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out anything else. But don’t cheat. Don’t be like me with almost everything else I read and flip to the end to find out what happens. Because you’ll ruin it for yourself. You’ll ruin it, and you won’t be able to get it back. You won’t be able to get it back, and you’ll wish you could. So don’t make that mistake. It about killed me not to flip, but I made it. I made it. And it was worth it.

Now, a disclaimer, because a disclaimer might be necessary for some of you. I write books. I write what are considered to be Christian books, mainly because of the relatively clean content. This book is not a Christian book. You might need to know that, because if you read it you might wonder “Why in the world would she recommend a book with all these bad words?” Here’s the best explanation I can give. I read nearly everything. I try to find the redeeming qualities in all kinds of fiction. And even though I’m not a fan of f-bombs and I don’t really say them and I especially hate them in movies, for this book, it really didn’t matter. Because for this book, for some reason I can’t even explain, I really didn’t care. Because this book didn’t need me to find the redeeming. The Sea of Tranquility redeemed itself in a hundred different ways and didn’t need my permission for any of it.

The other reason? Because Katja Millay can write. And she can write well. So well that I wish I could be a pen on her paper, just to see how she does it.

And to me, that’s the whole point of reading in the first place. To wish for something. To feel something. To be moved by something. To be transported by something. To laugh about something. To cry about something. To think about something. And for me…even though I finished the book last night…I’m still doing all those things when I think about this story today. Probably will be for awhile.

It’s. That. Good.

Happy Thursday!


(P.S. Some of you might read it, and some of you might not like it. Though I can’t imagine this happening, it still might, and I know that. So if it does, please don’t shoot the messenger. I hate pain almost as much as I loved this book.)

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Kandra

    I love to read also (not write.. I’d totally suck at that!). Off to go download her book 🙂

  2. Katja Millay


    You have no idea how much this touched me. Thank you, truly.


  3. Amy Matayo


    Now I know what you look like! 🙂

    I seriously cannot believe how well you write. Thanks for putting such a great book out there. Truly incredible.

  4. Fred LeBaron

    Awesome review/reaction, Amy, thanks! Isn’t it just an experience reading this! I hope more people find it through your beautiful blog!

  5. Amy Matayo

    I hope so, too, Fred! Awesome experience–would love to start it all over again, but I’m making myself wait awhile. Not easy. 🙂 And thank you for your nice comment!

  6. Unknown

    Great review. Couldn’t agree more! (Full disclosure: I’m the editor at S&S, that acquired the book. I consider myself VERY lucky to get to work with Katja!)

  7. Amy Matayo

    So nice to hear from you on here! My blog traffic has blown up because of this particular post and I have no idea why, but hopefully that means a few more people will read the book now. Great job acquiring it and her! Can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!

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