A love-fest gone way overboard. But I’m not sorry.

One of the (very few) things that stinks about being a writer is that I feel like it’s wrong to give my honest opinions on books I read.  Maybe because it’s what I do for a living now, and it sort of feels like dogging the competition.  So I just don’t do it.  I don’t review anything.  Good or bad.

I do, however, sometimes read books that I can’t NOT contain my love for.  I get a lot of requests for recommendations from people for books that I’ve loved, and although I don’t like to review books, I still LOVE to read.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read.

Another thing that makes it hard for me to talk/post about books I’ve read is that I don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings by not mentioning their book, especially if they know I’ve read it.  I have a lot of author friends whose books I’ve loved, and some whose books just aren’t really my style.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t great books.  However, to save feelings, I just don’t review at all anymore because I love my friends and I love to read and I don’t even know what I’m trying to say apple hats dammit!!!

But regardless of all the books I’ve loved, and all the books I’ve hated and all the books I’ve felt indifferent about, there are a select few that rip out a little piece of my soul and breathe life into it, then place it right back where it came from.  Books like the amazing Fault in Our Stars, and Easy, or Everyday and a book by Jessica Park that isn’t out yet but I got to read and I just love, love, love it so much.  Which brings me to the whole point of this post.

The Sea of Freaking Tranquility by Katja Millay.  (Okay, freaking isn’t part of the title, but dammit if I can’t type it any other way.)

This book.  Oh my god, this book.  I’m not going to review it.  I’m not going to assign it stars (there wouldn’t be enough, anyway.)  I’m just going to talk about how much I loved it, and attempt to explain why.  I’m breaking all my own rules, but if they’re getting broken, this is the book that I will gladly let break them.

First of all, this book is an Indie book.  What that means is, the authors publish the books themselves (initially) with no help from agents, content editors, copy editors, unicorn editors.  Nothing.  Indie’s write books and throw them out in the world and hope people fall in love with their un-professionally edited characters as much as they do.

Let me just say, if anyone…and I mean ANYONE (editors and author alike) touches a single word in this book or tries to change a character or dialogue or setting or anything at all, I will find them.  I will find them and I will go all nastypants on them.

Moving along.  The story.

I don’t even know what the blurb of this story says.  I was recommended the book by Sarah Augustus Hansen and since Sarah and I have similar tastes in favorites, I read pretty much everything she recommends without blurb checking.  Well, I say I read everything she recommends, but I’ve also been trying to write, so I banned her from recommending anything to me.  Ever.  Until January, at least.

So when I got this message from Sarah that just said, “I know you said no more books until January.  Sea of Tranquility.  That is all.”  –I knew it was a definite, read it right now sort of book.

So that’s what I did.  And when my computer, kindle, iPad and iPhone all died at 5:30 a.m. and halfway through the book, I thought I was going to die.

What’s the book about, you ask?  I can’t even begin to explain it.  But I’ll try.

It’s about a girl who experiences something in her past, then meets a boy and yada yada yada.  Yeah, that’s it.  That’s all I’m giving you.  Because nothing, NOTHING I say about what the book is about or the blurb or the reviews can convince you to read it like Katja’s writing can.

And I can’t tell if it’s her writing style or her characters that I’m in love with more.  I was telling someone earlier that it’s as though she crafts each sentence as if it’s the absolute core of the book.  But how can every single sentence be the core of a book?  Somehow, hers are.  There isn’t a single word that she hasn’t carefully thought out, or that doesn’t belong.  There isn’t a single line of dialogue that is stilted or awkward.  You start reading and you get sucked into a garage covered in sawdust and you never, ever, ever want to leave.  At least I didn’t want to, anyway.

With all that said, I realize there will be people that don’t like this book.  (Although, I can’t imagine it.)  The beauty of loving to read is having a variety right at your fingertips.  If we all liked to read the same thing, then all books would be the same and how boring would that be?   So maybe you won’t like it.  Or maybe you will… but you’ll only just like it instead of love it.  You’ll just like it and shrug and think, “Why the hell did Colleen love this so much? It was okay.”  And you know what?  That’s okay.  If you don’t like it, we’ll just chalk it up to the Jodi Affect.

Maybe while I was reading it, the planets and stars in my world aligned at the right moment for this book and I just really needed it at that particular point in my life.  Maybe if I would have read it on a Tuesday, I wouldn’t have had the same feelings toward it because I hate Tuesdays.  Maybe if my husband would have been up watching sports, rather than sleeping in his bed, the noise from the television would have irritated me and that irritation would have transferred over to my love for this book and it would have just wound up being an ‘okay’ book when I finished it.  Who knows?  I wish I could  pinpoint something in the book that makes me come up with the answer as to why I loved it so much.  Like if I were to open it to page 65 and say, “See there?  They love The Avett Brothers! That’s why I love this book!”

But the book doesn’t even mention The Avett Brothers, or diet pepsi, or Hazel the pig, so I can’t really say why it’s so special to me.  And now I’m ruining this whole blog post by saying a whole bunch of absolutely nothing!  I don’t even know why anyone is still reading this blog post.  If you are, I commend you.  Now go download this book and actually read something worth reading, then come back and tell me what you thought of it.

And just a little side note.  I published my first book ten months ago as indie, so I know how tough it is to get an indie book out there on your own without having a readership built up.  I’ve had an incredibly lucky year, and thanks to you guys, an incredible group of readers.  I thought about doing a giveaway for The Sea of Tranquility, just to get people to share the link to this book so the author can get more sales and hopefully her ranking would increase on Amazon and the book would receive the amount of success it deserves.  But then I decided not to do a giveaway, because I thought it would look like I was just trying to help out a fellow indie author by promoting her book.

That is the LAST thing I want this to seem like.  I am sharing my love for this book as a reader.  Not as an author or a friend (I didn’t even know her before reading the book last week) but simply as a reader who has found “that book.”  That book I can always go to, forever and ever, when I want to feel something good.  So thank you, Katja Millay, for giving me that.


84 responses to “A love-fest gone way overboard. But I’m not sorry.

  1. I downloaded it. Am in the middle of “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore”, but this book is next on my list. :-)

  2. I could not agree more!!! This was one made my top 5 list iefiately. I could not recommend it to enough people. Absolutely awe- inspiring.

  3. I KNOW, right?!!!! I abso-frickin-tutely LOVED this book. And anyone who hasn’t read it yet, just needs to stop whatever they are doing, like now, and read it. AMAZING! [can't have enough big, shouty, caps]

  4. I completely agree with you. This was one of the absolute BEST books that I have ever read. I can’t recommend it enough. You can’t even describe the way that it moves you and the feelings that these characters stir up. I am amazed by all of you ladies that write so beautifully and take us on these journeys that leave us utterly speechless.

  5. Funny…I just reread sea of tranquility yesterday because I loved it so much.
    The only other books I reread this year were your books Colleen. I put all three books in the same category…my favorites.

  6. Just downloaded and hope to get into it tonight after the kids are asleep! Love your recommendations! Keep them coming!

  7. I love this post!! I Just finished this incredible book this weekend. It’s amazing and so worthy of recognition!!!!!

  8. Just bought it! Can’t wait to get started…

    Fault in Our Stars is a must read as well. Such a beautiful story. I’d also recommend Easy! Both are great reads!

  9. I read this book last week. I absolutely loved it! It is one of those stay up all night, get nothing done, become a book zombie kinda books. It is one that will definitely stick with me. It seems my top ten list this year contains almost all Indie authors or previous Indie authors! Which I think is great!

  10. I just picked this one up, not because of your post. It came up in a discussion on GR. You’re so generous in taking the time to post about this one. I’m sure Ms. Katja Millay will love it. I am an indie author and I only review those books I can unequivocally gush over. Your philosophy is a good one. I might have to go incognito myself as an avid reader as my writing time gets sliced and diced. Nicely done! Best, Katherine

  11. Colleen I’ve peed my pants three times since you read my book. If you make me do it again, you’re coming over and doing my laundry. (Really, just so I can meet you, but I’m trying not to be transparent.)

    • Just finished the book and I am in a daze… Colleen thank you for recommending it , and Katja,,, This is an amazing feat of storytelling. I can’t find the words that will even come close to expressing the experience of reading this exceptionally well crafted work. Thank you for being brave enough to put your whole self in writing it and sharing it with us. Absolutely beautiful! I’m smelling a best-seller and a movie….

  12. Colleen, I LOVE all your book recommendations! I’ve just finished Abbi Glines Because of Low and While it Lasts. I downloaded The Sea of Tranquility and will start reading this evening! When can we expect YOUR next book? ;-)

  13. a-freaking-men!!!! The Sea of Tranquility is hands-down one of my all-time favorite books =) It doesn’t hurt that Katja is a little hottie either. I kind of have a girl-crush on her. Though for you Colleen, I’ll share


  14. I just about finished with the book I am reading now. I don’t like not having a new book ready to start right away. I’ve just downloaded it and will start either tonight or tomorrow.

  15. I could not agree with you more!! One of the best books of 2012! In fact, I had to pull over and park my car after a lunch date to finish the book before picking up kids at school…that’s how bad I needed to finish it!!! To quote one of your other amazing books, The Fault In Our Stars, “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book”. The Sea of Tranquility is just that kind of book!!!!

    I also agree with your other pics, loved Easy, TFIOS, haven’t read everyday but loved Flat Out Love by Jessica Park so can’t wait for it! Of course, Slammed and Point of retreat are right up there as well. I have a friend that I send my book recs to and just today I told her to read TFIOS, Slammed & POR!! Not making that up!!

  16. I whole heartedly agree with you. Cannot say enough good things about this book. It has a special place in my heart and I have recommended it to everyone that will listen.

  17. I’m reading this book now! And I think I’m in love :D I love this book so much! My eyes are bloodshot because I can’t put it down! I had to literally force myself to nap an hour because my eyes started to get blurry XD I’m almost done with it, and can’t wait to figure out what will happen!

  18. I have this on my to read list…heard great things about it but haven’t gotten to it yet! Love that you Loved it and will def. have to bump up on the list!!

  19. I just finished reading it last night. It made me laugh. It made me cry. And I became very emotionally invested to the characters, so much so that I wanted to yell/hit/slap/hug them at some point. I don’t want the story to end :( I really hope she’ll write more on the main couple or the other characters because I CANNOT stand the thought of this story ending.

  20. Another good one (tear jerker) is “Butterfly Weeds”! It’s only $ .99 on amazon for kindle! It’s a love story (clean, no smut). I keep trying to pimp this book to everyone cause I loved it so much!

  21. I absolutely felt this book too Colleen. I have told the world about it and I will tell you too. It changed me. More than anyone will ever know. It left me different than when I found it and I will never ever forget this story that Katja weaved. I felt like I was living it. I can not recommend this book enough. Ever. Thankyou for breaking your rule for this. More people need to feel what we felt. Much love to you, Will & Lake. Mwah xoxoxox

  22. Wow, amazing. Especially the ending. I re-read and re-read and re-read the ending and went back to find the earlier references, etc… Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

  23. I feel like I’ve been walking around in circles since I finished TSOT. I’ve tried moving onto other books that have been highly recommended, and nothing is touching my soul like Josh and Nastya did. I feel ruined to never enjoy another book again! (Until Will’s POV of course!)

    I so hope this gets published in paperback so I can get my ‘I need to smell the book’ sister to read it!

  24. I read the book and enjoyed it. I have since passed it on to my 17 year old daughter who is reading it now. My bestfriend introduced me to the world of the indie book. Add that to the list of many reasons why I love her so much. Her first recommendation was “Slammed” and “Point of Retreat”. We absolutely fell in love with the story and characters. My other favorites thus far include, “Easy” and “Flat-out Love”. So many wonderful stories!

  25. I LOVED this book. The fabulous Mollie Harper recommended it and I always listen to Mollie (she lead me to you!) and I am so grateful. It’s an absolutely amazing read. I did just as you did and read until all my resources died and then plugged them in and read some more. I am an official katja fan for life!

  26. I have tried to read it twice now! The first time I couldn’t remember a word I read the next day, the second time I got to 15% and had to stop. WHY can’t I get into this book?

    • It’s definitely a slow build, but I’d give it to at least 40%. If you aren’t engrossed after that, then it may just not be your type of read. And you know what? That’s okay! lol. <3

  27. Dying to read this book!! Hipefully next week!

    By the way, congrats on the Goodreads first round finalist! I voted :)

  28. Downloaded this yesterday, half way through, trying not to finish it too fast, am enjoying the slow burning pace, it’s not the quick read that I’m used to, but I quite like the way that Katjas writing style forces you to pay more attention to what you’re reading, makes the brain work a little harder so you’re drawn deeper into the story (don’t get me wrong I love an easy read as much as the next person but this is on another level). Can’t wait for all the pieces to come together. Prologue was amazing btw, once I read that there was no going back!

  29. This is also one of my favories Colleen!! It also has probably the best ending I have ever read. The last two words..OMG!!! Loved it!! So jealous you read Jessica Parks new book btw!! Flat Out Love was one of my all time favs and I am dying to read her new one!!

  30. I just downloaded this – arghh – I’m a grad student and haven’t read for pleasure since the summer. May have to break down and read this one… I read your books during the summer and LOVED them – I recommend them to all my pals! :)

  31. I read the book a couple weeks ago. She is absolutely, 100% correct. The book is fan-freakin-tastic! It is so, so good. Must read! Must read! It gave me goosebumps. Really great- feeling goosebumps.

  32. I completely agree with you Colleen. This book touched me so deeply, so emotinally …..just exceptional on every level.

  33. It makes me sad that your aren’t recommending books on a regular basis, some of my favs are those that you’ve suggested (and of course, I can’t forget about the 2 you wrote!). Anyways, I have to once again agree with you, TSOT is one of my favorites of the year, maybe in my top 5 of all time, that list is just too hard to commit too!?! Please don’t be shy about your continued suggestions, we won’t tell anybody, we’ll just keep it amongst close friends!!! :-)

  34. I read this book a coue of weeks ago and love it. I hope you continue to share with us every time a book touches you like this. I love your books and would value recommendations from you.

  35. Thanks for the recommendations!
    I also have to say that when you said “Let me just say, if anyone…and I mean ANYONE (editors and author alike) touches a single word in this book or tries to change a character or dialogue or setting or anything at all, I will find them. I will find them and I will go all nastypants on them.” That’s how I feel about the movie rights being optioned for Slammed and PoR.
    I love you and your writing and I really really hope you’re super picky with the movie versions so we don’t lose the story we love so much. I hate seeing books that I loved turning into movies that are terrible :( I believe you’ll do the right thing though! <3

  36. I absolutely loved loved loved The Sea of Tranquility. It was also a friend who recommended it to me and wow! The book is just simply wow! I have also read the other amazing books you mentioned and I couldn’t agree more. Those really are amazing books! :)

  37. I completely agree with you, one of the best books I’ve ever read and I recommend it to anyone who will listen!

  38. I went away with my husband on vacation and the entire first day was dedicated to this book, lunch didn’t even matter to me. I completely underarms you and love this book as well!!!

  39. Colleen, you r so right on this one! OMG so butterflyingly raw, amazing, painful, wonderful….. And like you mentioned, Katja’s well crafted story telling….. I’m just sorry it’s over. Thanks for the rec!

  40. Sea of tranquility is amazing! I couldn’t stop reading til 3am and I don’t do reviews on books but I will recommend this book to everyone like I have with my other favorite books that make you feel so many emotions and a connected to the characters because they are so well written. I enjoyed it so much I read it again

  41. Your post made me so curious about this book! How you are explaining this book is almost identical to how I explain your books to everyone I know! Downloaded and ready to read. This book is jumping to the front of my books-to-read line.

  42. Your post just made me so curious about this book. How you describe this book I how I describe your books to everyone I know! Downloaded and ready to read. The Sea if Tranquility is jumping to the front of my books-to-read line!

  43. Funny that you said this…

    “There isn’t a single word that she hasn’t carefully thought out, or that doesn’t belong. There isn’t a single line of dialogue that is stilted or awkward. You start reading and you get sucked into a garage covered in sawdust and you never, ever, ever want to leave. At least I didn’t want to, anyway.”

    …because it is EXACTLY what I thought about your writing when I first read Slammed! I just bought Sea of Tranquility. Thx for the tip ;)

  44. You are highly entertaining! And I get it, when you just love something so much you cannot help but tell everybody about even if you cannot exactly pinpoint the reasons why. Coincidentally I am already reading this book, I’m only at 38% but already I agree that this is a book that will stay with me forever. I love Katya’s style, the way she just describes emotions it’s just….. wow!

  45. Wow! Wonderful! Powerful! Loved every minute of it. I certainly will look at my garage very differently from now on. Thanks for the recommendation!

  46. I could not agree more. Loved, loved, loved this book and it makes my Top 10 reads of all time list. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I think I highlighted almost the entire book on my Kindle. I’ve reread it a second time and took my time and this author’s craft is devine. She’s magical. This book is awesome and her writing is beautiful. I’ve recommended to many people and they’ve all loved it too. Powerful, wonderful, and beautifully written. I couldn’t stop talking about it…I think I could go on and on and on. You get it though – read it, see for yourself.

  47. Sea of Tranquility is one of my favourite books for the year! I came across it via Maryse’s book blog. And rated it 5 stars! I loved the way the plot unfolded, like the people Nastya met, the reader is slowly introduced to her whilst allowing her to retain her guarded secret. The character focus goes beyond just the two main characters, with each of aquaintenance (friendship almost seems too strong a term in the beginning) revealing another facet, need to her existance. Oh, I could go on and on – but I bet you can guess that this book stands out as a well written book that I adored. Can’t wait to read more of Katja’s work!

  48. I just finished this book. THANK YOU so much for the recommendation!! It was a wonderful read. I am so very sad that it is over. I do hope that there is more. I don’t want to say good bye to the characters. I was so moved reading this story. WOW!

  49. Just finished and it was awesome!! Thanks for the recommendation. My brain is always working when I read and when he told the story of his grandfather’s ‘advice’ and what he saw when he died I immediately remembered her first night in the garage. It was utterly nerve wracking to wait until the last words of the book for confirmation, but when I read them the tears started falling (again). Such a beautiful story.

  50. Just finished Chasing Nikki by Lacey Weatherford (needed lots of tissue)…as soon as I recover I’ll start The Sea of Tranquility. (Is tissue required?)

  51. I went ahead and downloaded this book. I was reading something else but decided to start this one! I loved the book the whole way thru! I couldn’t put it down! My mom also loved it! Thanks for letting us know about this great book!

  52. Pingback: Mailbox Monday #23 « The Reading Date·

  53. I read The Fault in Our Stars and I loved it!!! I have recommeneded to everyone that I know that reads. So far everyone I recommeneded it to also has loved it. I read Easy and loved it as well. I can’t wait to read the other books that you recommended. Keep em coming…….

  54. I am so glad I saw this blog post. I, of course, read the book immediately because Slammed and POR are two of my favorite books, and how could I NOT like something that the person who wrote those two books likes so much? ;-)

    And now Sea of Tranqulity is one of my favorites too. This book touched me so deeply. Let me just say, this book was so freaking incredibly good that it almost makes me want to never write again because I know I’ll never, ever write anything that good. Colleen, thank so much for recommending it!!!

  55. Thank you for recommending such a wonderful, touching book. I fell in love with all the characters in this book, esp. Josh! And you are correct in that Katja sucks you into the story and makes you feel like you are in every corner of the book with them. She truly is a gifted writer and I while at first I was a bit apprehensive about the book, I have to admit that I could not put the book down, no matter how hard I tried! Def one of my fave books–third after Slammed and Point of Retreat!

  56. Thank you so much for recommending this book!!! I loved it! It will be one of my favorites this year for sure :)

  57. As soon as I read this blog I bought the book. So, thank you for not only writing beautiful pieces of art, but for sharing your knowledge with us about other beautiful reads! And for being kind enough to help another author! I laughed a lot and cried too much that my eyes hurt, also because I didn’t go to sleep until I finished this book at 4 in the morning last night. I LOVED THIS BOOK!


  58. I downloaded Sea of Tranquility right after I read your post and have read it three times! WOW! This is the only book I have re-read since your books. I totally agree with you about every sentence feels like the core of the book. I hope that you continue to recommend books that blow you out of the water because every book that you recommend I love. Thank you so much.
    Happy writing.

  59. I love Slammed and Point of Retreat! When I finished reading them, I read them again. Twice within a week! So when I read your “recommendation” to read Sea of Tranquility, I knew I had to read it. I read it in about 8 hours (between feeding my kids, bedtimes, and laundry). There are no words for how much I loved this book! Thank you for sharing! Everyone needs a little Sunshine in their lives! :)

  60. Of course I got to buy it and they pulled it because she got picked up by a publisher! Fabulous news for her, but now it doesn’t come out for months! Booo!

  61. Help me out here. I read this because Colleen recommended it! I thought, “Surely, the lady that writes the greatest books, ever, would know something good, right?!” Perhaps I missed something, I thought the book was “good”. I didn’t think it was “great”. I was in it till the end and I found it took way longer to get to any point than I’d have liked. Once I got to the end where he confesses to her his love, then I was blubbering, but I found myself wishing the book would hurry up and get to the point. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t recommending it to everyone I saw on the street, either! Can someone tell me if I missed something that I should have gotten?!

  62. Colleen,
    Can you recommend any other books?! I find I’m reading about a book every two days…and I’m running out of stuff to read.

  63. Colleen, I read this awhile back, and I agree 100% of what you wrote. This is an amazing story with incredible characters. I was forever changed from this book. I love following your blog posts! I am so happy that I found the Indie world just a few months back!

  64. Pingback: Discovering New Authors – Catherine Bybee – Not Quite Dating » Pamela Kelley·

  65. So I just finished Hopeless (yes, it’s two AM and I have work in the morning) and ALL OF THE FEELINGS are still hitting me, but the first thing I thought to myself was how much your story reminded me of Katja Millay’s (or vice-versa, I just read hers first!) Not in terms of plot or characters or anything, but in terms of impact.

    After reading the Sea of Tranquility, it was hard to feel interested in any other books because the world, characterization, and emotions were so profoundly long-lasting. I think that Hopeless is one of the only other stories to make me feel this way, so immediately after I finished reading (now) I came to your blog to see what you were all about. I was overjoyed to find this post, because The Sea of Tranquility absolutely deserves all the above praise.

    To anyone seeing this post, if you love Hopeless then you should definitely check out The Sea of Tranquility! Thanks Colleen, both for writing one of the most thoughtful and remarkable books I’ve ever read as well as acknowledging the same traits in another.

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