Tag Archives: Glass Girl

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You’re Probably Missing Out On

10 Books You're Probably Missing Out On

Top Ten Books You’re Probably Missing Out On

If you read a lot, just keeping up with your favorite authors can fill your shelves and all your spare reading hours. No matter how hard you try, some amazing books will slip past you without you realizing it. That’s why, for this Top Ten Tuesday, I’ve made this list of ten of my favorite books you’re probably missing out on.

Elsie Mae Has Something to Say by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Honestly, this is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I fell head over heels in love with the story and its characters. It became one of those books I bought multiple copies of so I could give them as Christmas gifts last year. (Apparently this is how I get people I love to read the books I love. It pretty much works.) Seriously, though, if you like Southern fiction and coming-of-age type stories, this is one not to be missed. It’s SO good. You can find my review here.

Traitor’s Masque by Kenley Davidson

This whole series is AMAZING. I’m a huge fan of re-imagined fairy tales, but these are truly something special. I love the character complexity Davidson brings to the stories and the strong heroines each book features. This retelling of Cinderella actually gives its leading girl some action. Rather than being locked in a room waiting for her prince, she’s caught in a web of political intrigue. It’s so good. You can find my review here.

Dreadlands: Wolf Moon by Jaimie Engle

Dreadlands is another of the great books you’re probably missing out on. I love the way this story blends werewolves and Norse mythology. It’s fast-paced but with a sweet romance, and a perfect read for a rainy afternoon. The story is pretty clean, too, so it’s a great book for readers transitioning from middle grade (elementary-aged) books to young adult (middle/high school books). It’s kind of a How to Train Your Dragon meets Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Check out my review for more.

Freedom’s Just Another Word by Caroline Stellings

I’ve read several books by Caroline Stellings, and each one is better than the last. I’m never surprised to learn she’s won an award for writing. Her storytelling is strong and crisp, and her characters seem to pop right off the pages. I knew I would like this book for its references to music– the legendary Janis Joplin even appears in a few scenes– and I was so very right. But in addition to music, it’s rich in its 1970s, gritty Southern setting. I highly recommend it in my review, and I stand by it.

Between Shadows by Kathleen Cook Waldron

I can’t help but have a special place in my heart for this fantastic book. The author and I met on an Alaskan cruise– one of those serendipitous moments where we connected long before I learned she was a writer, and wrote children’s books to boot! Imagine how much more excited I was when I had the chance to read and review this great book. The cover shows the silhouette of the main character, Ari, who’s dealing with his unconventional grandfather’s sudden passing. Ari’s grandfather lived in a remote area and painted his log cabin like a rainbow. The story is about friendships and loss and is spunky and heartwarming. A definite favorite I don’t get to talk enough about.

Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

I feel like Glass Girl is exactly the kind of book I wanted to read in high school. It’s packed with emotion and oozing with cowboy romance. It follows Meg through the aftermath of a school shooting and a cross-country move that takes her to the Wyoming wilds. Meg is so relatable. I love this book. More about it in my review.

Viola Doyle or an Unconventional Gift by Amy Lynn Spitzley

I truly haven’t talked about this book in a long time, but it’s another great hidden gem. In this book, Spitzley keeps us guessing with wild adventures and totally unexpected turns of events. I loved every surprise and the quirky cast of characters in the Victorian-ish setting. So much fun! You’ll find my review here.

Behind These Hands by Linda Vigen Phillips

I feel almost like I’m cheating to include this book, since I only reviewed it a few weeks ago, but I don’t think it’s getting nearly the buzz it deserves. In powerful, moving verse, Phillips shows the heartache of a family in which two young boys are diagnosed with Batten’s Disease. I’d never heard of Batten’s before reading this book, and it hit me hard because of the amazing writing. I definitely identified with Claire as the oldest child and the one under pressure to hold things together. If you’re a fan of novels in verse, you need to read this one. Seriously. And if you’ve never read one, Behind These Hands is a great one to try.

Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen

The story world of this book was so intriguing. It’s kind of Waterworld (the Kevin Costner movie) meets The Giver. I loved the high stakes and creepy dystopian elements. Definitely a good pick for fans of Ally Condie or Scott Westerfeld. My review is here.

Running Lean by Diana Sharples

Okay, I’m sort of cheating again. I really haven’t talked about this book in a long time, and I enjoyed reading it so much. I reviewed Running Lean in 2013, but part of the reason I’m including it is because Diana Sharples has a new book out called Running Strong, which is on my To Be Read list! I love her writing – it’s clean, and the stories are strong. Another great author for younger teen readers.

Add to my list!

What are your favorite books that never get the praise they deserve? Tell me in the comments or leave me a link to your top ten list.

Author Interview with Laura Anderson Kurk, Author of Glass Girl

Several months ago a friend recommended two fantastic novels for my reading and reviewing pleasure: Glass Girl and its sequel Perfect Glass. These novels follow Meg’s journey through the terrible grief of losing a sibling and the discovery of a healing love in the wild, heart-of-gold cowboy Henry. As I read, I devoured not only the marvelous tale but the emotional trek of each character through the sorrows and joys of loss and love. Today, Laura Anderson Kurk answers my burning questions about her creative process, reading recommendations and more!

A story is often inspired by a question. What question inspired you to write Glass Girl and Perfect Glass?

This is a great way to look at story genesis! In 2010, when I first began working on Glass Girl, our country was seeing a rash of school shootings—in middle schools, high schools, and on college campuses. The questions that occupied a lot of my thinking at the time were – What did the siblings of school shooting victims feel like as the surviving child? What did this kind of loss do to their place in the family and the formation of their personhood?

I read an interview of Craig Scott years ago that stuck with me. Craig’s sister, Rachel, was the first victim in the Columbine shooting. Craig, who was in the library at the time the shots began, was in agony because he and Rachel were separated and he didn’t know if she was safe. I saw how the media surrounded the Scott family, but naturally focused the most on Rachel’s parents. I worried about Craig, although the Scott family is tremendous and he had plenty of support. It did make me wonder about survivor guilt in this new, horrible phenomenon of school violence. This was, to some degree, an unprecedented psychological turn that this country faced. Children were dealing with the violent deaths of their friends and siblings in the halls of the places they had felt most safe. Children faced their own post-traumatic stress disorders because they’d had to cower under desks and in bathroom stalls to survive. These were issues faced by families in war torn countries, not here. These were not skills we taught kids; although now, unfortunately, my own children know exactly what to do in the event of gunfire on their campuses. This … I feel this deeply in my bones as a loss we’ve all suffered.

In the sequel, Perfect Glass, I had some clear questions in mind, too – What happens to “perfect” all-American kids when they suddenly face adversity in an international setting? What happens when we are stripped of all the crutches we’d leaned on? How does calamity sharpen and focus us more than anything else? What does loving the “unlovable” look like?

You create the most amazing and realistic characters. Jo Russell, the artist Meg cares for in Perfect Glass really struck a chord with me. What inspired you to include her in the story?

My favorite people on the planet are fine artists. My dearest friend, Mara Schasteen, is a critically-acclaimed painter. Mara’s uncanny ability to see the world clearly has always pulled on me like the moon draws the tides. Jo’s vocabulary and sense of wonder came from Mara and other artists in my life. Her cantankerous nature, though, came from a collection of older people I’ve known and loved through the years.

I wanted Meg to meet someone who was hard to love, but who would offer the greatest reward if her shell could be softened and opened. Meg needed to meet someone who could show what a life deeply lived would look like. Meg and her mom both lived deep, subterranean lives and sometimes couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Jo revealed the forest and taught Meg so much about the power found in letting go and seeing profound connections in redeeming relationships. She was Meg’s perfect glass (or mirror) in the way the Nicaraguan orphans were Henry’s.

 Can you tell us about an author or novel you think deserves a greater spotlight?

One fairly recent YA that stole my breath was John Corey Whaley’s Where Things Come Back. It had great critical success in 2012, winning the Printz Award, but I think it deserves a far larger audience. The protagonist, Cullen, is one of my all-time favorite characters. Whaley has a great sense of what makes a teenager tick and I bow to his genius in that. I just bought Whaley’s second novel, Noggin.

I also really like what Cath Crowley does. She’s writing YA in Australia and I’m a big fan of her spare style. She tries to write about those tender, quiet moments in a girl’s life, and I think more readers of contemporary YA should grab her books. Grafitti Moon is my favorite of hers. A Little Wanting Song is fantastic, as well.

I was surprised, too, about the lackluster sales of Sara Zarr’s latest The Lucy Variations. I loved this book! I love all of Zarr’s but that one was really special. I hated that it sort of got shelved and wasn’t read by a large audience.

Both novels take place in Wyoming, and Perfect Glass adds a small town in Nicaragua as a setting. What made you choose these particular settings for the backdrop of Meg and Henry’s stories?

I first set Glass Girl in Colorado. I realized, as I read through the first draft, that I wanted a place where independence, “toughness,” and self-reliance were even MORE celebrated. I pushed it north into Wyoming and am so glad I did that. I have since grown to love that state for its quirkiness and unique understanding of how to make one’s own way in life. Moving Henry to an orphanage in Nicaragua happened when I heard the very true and heartbreaking story of Programa Amor. This government closure of privately run orphanages really happened, and it affected some dear friends of mine who were directors of a home for children there. They watched as their children were taken from them and then they spent months trying to locate them again. I felt like this was a story that needed telling, and that Henry’s character (which had been so perfect when seen through Meg’s eyes in the first book) needed to taste a bit hardship so we could see what he was made of. Turns out, Henry struggles like the rest of us to overcome failings, but what makes him great is that he sees things through and is loyal to the end. Things didn’t work out like he wanted them to, but he surprised himself with his acceptance of that.

What do you most hope that readers take away from your novel?

I want readers to see that there’s good even in the darkest, most difficult moments of life. That those valleys make the mountaintops more special. I want them to know – really know – that we all struggle with the ugly parts of our lives but that help is all around. I want them to see the beauty in the people who’ve been placed in their lives—even those deemed unlovable by the world. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from those who’ve walked before. Or from those who are marginalized by a shallow society. Always hope. Don’t be afraid of the dark. Speak up when you need help. Make friends everywhere.

What’s next for you? Is there another novel in the works? Do Meg and Henry have another adventure, or are you moving on to something new? Can you tell us a little about it?

I think Meg and Henry are fully launched into their life together. I really hadn’t even planned on writing a sequel to Glass Girl, but I had so many questions about what came next that I became consumed with it myself and before long, I had another book written. As it turned out, Perfect Glass became my favorite of the two books, so I’m awfully glad I stuck with the story.

My next project will be a standalone YA contemporary. I can’t say too much because I’m always afraid I’ll jinx my own creative processes, but it deals with a subculture that hasn’t seen a great deal of discussion in recent years. The tagline is something like – A daughter who believes she’s finer than her origins learns that living on the surface is impossible when the boy who holds her heart is underground. Going back to your first question – in this book, I’m asking myself this—Do “place” and “belonging” shape identity, and who are we if we hate the place and never belonged?

Thanks so much for inviting me to chat! I’m honored that you read and enjoyed my books and I’m grateful for all you do for YA readers!


Laura Anderson Kurk writes unconventional, bittersweet stories for young adults. Her first novel, Glass Girl, is Meg Kavanagh’s story of coming back from the precipice after losing her brother, and it begins the love story of Henry and Meg. Perfect Glass, the sequel to Glass Girl, is an emotional story about the antagonistic effect of long-distance on a relationship, and how Henry and Meg find each other again.

Laura lives in College Station, Texas with her family. For more information about Laura or her books, visit her at laurakurk.com or connect with her on Twitter (@laurakurk).


Get Your Copy of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass

Both Glass Girl and Perfect Glass are available right now on Amazon.com for $2.99. Also check out this free ebook containing sample chapters of several YA novels from great indie authors, including Laura Anderson Kurk.

Favorite Reads from 2013

Out of just over 100 books I had the pleasure of reading last year, here are my top ten favorites:

Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

From my review: “Glass Girl is a beautiful story of a girl who has lost not only her brother but faces the terrible toll grief has taken on her family. Meg’s emotions are vivid and gripping, as are the relationships she has with each of her parents and friends. The rugged Wyoming countryside provides the perfect backdrop for both the tumultuous feel of the emotional story and the golden-hearted cowboy who teaches Meg about courage, compassion and mercy. This is a novel that demands to be finished once it is begun. Tissues are a must.”


City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare

From my review: “In a series opener that’s tough to put down, Clare introduces a hidden world within the familiar landscape of New York City. The story rockets off to a quick start, leaving readers scrambling to turn pages. Snappy dialogue and imaginative creatures spring from nearly every scene. There were a few moments in which characters’ behavior was a little incongruous with the rest of Clare’s descriptions of them, but overall, this is a high-action story of drama and heart worth the time it takes to cross from cover to cover.”


It’s Over by Laura L. Smith

From my review: “Smith carries readers through a rainbow of expertly rendered emotions, from happy holiday celebrations to the deepest of heartache and the purest dawning of hope. Each of the girls has a distinct voice with a different perspective. This is a great series for the reader looking for some fun, lighthearted moments and open to the deeper lessons life has to offer.”



Cinder by Marissa Meyer

From my review: “In an android-saturated futuristic world, Meyer retells the story of the little Cinder girl, her handsome prince, and the magical ball that brought them together. Her version of the story again brings to life familiar roles – the wicked stepmother, stepsisters, a carriage fastened from an unlikely source – and throws new twists into the mix. Cinder’s world is crafted from a complicated social structure in which humans have the technology to save lives of the gravely injured by implanting machinery.”


Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

From my review: “Fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood will recognize Eanrin as the wise and mischievous cat who often kept company with the Princess Una in Heartless, the first novel in the series. Starflower predates Heartless and tells the tale of a much younger and more, often humorously, self-centered Eanrin and adding still more depth and breadth to the already rich and lustrous story world Stengl has created.”



The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill

From my review: “This is a novel that is easy to love, full of the joys and disappointments of high school and teen romance. Morrill writes witty narrative with perky humor and great emotional depth, drawing readers into the very heart of this tale about a girl who feels totally invisible and the boy who truly sees her.”


The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place) by Maryrose Wood

From my review: “Not every governess is willing to take on three children who were raised by wolves. Literally. Now that they’ve been “rescued” from the forest by Lord Ashton, the children must be civilized and educated. Penelope sets herself to the task and achieves often hilarious and endearing results in this first book in a series which has been described as a mash-up of Lemony Snicket and Jane Eyre. The Mysterious Howling is brilliant and fun.”


Divergent by Veronica Roth

From my review: “Roth’s debut novel packs quite a punch, drawing readers into a world in which survival depends on securing one’s place within a group and virtue is everything… Though the early chapters spend a lot of time setting up the story, the pace picks up quite a bit once Beatrice/Tris chooses her faction and the initiation rites begin. From that point on, the reader scarcely has a chance to pause for breath, and may need intervention from friends and family in order to put the book down for things like dinner and sleep.”


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

From my review: “John Green has proved his valor as a writer worthy of tackling the deep emotional and cosmic issues with earlier novels, but this novel may yet be his most incredible work. This novel tackles the big human questions about life, love, and loss, exploring at once what they mean and how one responds to them. All this and yet the story remains poignant and breathtaking and sometimes quite hilarious. And tragic. This is another one to read with tissues handy.”


Review: Perfect Glass by Laura Anderson Kurk

Perfect Glass
Laura Anderson Kurk
Playlist Fiction
Published June 1, 2013

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Perfect Glass

Henry begins his year-long trip to Nicaragua, leaving Meg behind in Chapin to finish her senior year. Henry faces the challenges of assembling a new building for his sister and brother-in-law’s orphan home in a country with limited supplies and deep distrust toward Americans. Meg meanwhile finds herself the center of affection for the new and fascinating Quinn O’Neill and the unlikely companion to a feisty elderly woman wielding a shotgun.

Meg wants desperately to secure admission to the University of Wyoming, so she and Henry can stay together through college and she can pursue a degree through the writing program there. Quinn helps Meg put together a video about the deadliness of texting and driving. She wants to believe his interest is only friendly, but she seems to be the only one who thinks so. Henry’s plans unravel quickly and governmental changes put the ministry he serves at risk of closing completely. While privately he is nearly falling to pieces, he must maintain a brave face for the children in his care. Even when his girlfriend seems to drift dangerously close to cheating on him with Quinn.

My Review

Fans of Kurk’s first novel, GLASS GIRL may find it to be a story difficult to beat. The intensity of Meg’s journey of loss and love in that novel makes it difficult to imagine creating a follow-up that can match, but PERFECT GLASS does just that. Henry continues to be the strong yet gentle man in Meg’s life, but adversity brings his flaws to the surface. Meg returns to salve the wounds of a dynamic older woman, demonstrating the beauty of character that can bloom after suffering. This is a fabulous novel and a worthy read for teens interested in missions overseas or looking for a classy romance.

Content Notes for Perfect Glass

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Sexual Content
Very brief references to a past rape, very limited details.

Spiritual Content
Both Henry and Meg face startling failures. Each falls back to regroup, but must learn that sometimes one’s personal strength isn’t enough, and only dependence on God can suffice. Meg befriends a boy who has many questions and little faith and a woman with deep anger toward God. Both challenge her to justify her faith.

Men surround a boy in Henry’s care and threaten to attack him, until Henry gets involved. Henry witnesses a man slap a teenaged boy on the back of the head and confronts him about it. Brief references to a past murder and rape, very limited details.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links which do not cost anything for you to use but help support this blog.


Review: Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

Glass Girl
Laura Anderson Kurk
Playlist Young Adult Fiction
Published December 5, 2013

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Glass Girl

On a day that began like any other, Meg’s brother Wyatt dies. Suddenly. Violently. Leaving Meg and her parents to creep around the shrapnel and gaping wounds of their grief. In a pitch to create some space for healing, Meg’s dad moves them all from their Pittsburgh home to the wilds of Chapin, Wyoming. In a new home scrubbed of memories, Meg tries to create a new life, one that does not include the story of her brother’s death and the pity which must come as a response. She lands a new part time job and falls in with new friends. When a rugged, handsome cowboy begins to pursue her, Meg puts on her best face, burying her tragic past and her mother’s spiraling depression beneath a determined exterior.

Henry is patient, but he senses something isn’t right and urges Meg to open up to him. But how can a perfect boy from a perfect family understand what Meg and her parents are going through? Meg’s parents’ marriage crumbles around her, but she fights to keep a brave face, biting back the angry words she wants to shout at her mother and keeping even Henry at a distance. Rumors about a relationship between Henry and a blond girl swirl through town, and dark-haired Meg isn’t sure what to think. As she wrestles with her grief and whether to trust Henry, more rumors swirl, and Meg must face her town and her sadness anew as word about Wyatt’s death spreads across Chapin.

My Review

GLASS GIRL is a beautiful story of a girl who has lost not only her brother but faces the terrible toll grief has taken on her family. Meg’s emotions are vivid and gripping, as are the relationships she has with each of her parents and friends. The rugged Wyoming countryside provides the perfect backdrop for both the tumultuous feel of the emotional story and the golden-hearted cowboy who teaches Meg about courage, compassion and mercy. This is a novel that demands to be finished once it is begun. Tissues are a must.

Content Notes for Glass Girl

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Sexual Content
References to teen couples making out. Main characters treat each other with honor and respect, but there’s definitely some high romantic tension.

Spiritual Content
After her brother’s unexpected death, Meg can’t follow a life of faith any longer. She can’t understand how God could exist and allow terrible things to happen. It is less painful to choose to believe He does not exist. Henry’s faith is fervent and rock-solid, though his actions often speak of his values and beliefs much more than his words could.

Meg’s brother Wyatt was violently killed. Meg suffers brief flashbacks to the event, but no gory details are given, though the scenes are intense.

Drug Content
Some teens indulge in alcoholic beverages at a party. Others smoke pot. Main characters do not condone or participate in these behaviors.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.