Pre-order Signed Starvation Paperbacks

I am able to order books though my publisher at cost. Normally these books are used for conferences, book signings, etc. All of which will not happen during the pandemic.

I am still ordering copies, though, and could make 5-10x the amount per book without Amazon/bookstores taking their cut. So one book sold would make the same as 5-10 elsewhere. The problem is if I order too many, I will be the one paying for the publishing costs and they will sit unread in a closet.

So if you’d like a copy, consider ordering through me (and you’ll get it signed!).I’ll keep track of orders through this form:…/1FAIpQLSd1K8eUg2X…/viewform…Thanks!

To Finish or to DNF

I used to read every book all the way through. (Great Expectations would have been my great exception, had it not been required for high school English.)

Once I started to put down books that I wasn’t loving (the term DNF- “did not finish”), I wish I had started way sooner. Life is too short to waste time reading books you do not like! Some reviewers/bloggers rate books they DNF. I have in the past but now only rate those I complete. This stems from my belief that the role of reviewers is to guide readers more so than bashing writers. I will often write a “review” that I DNF’d and why, but don’t think I can give an accurate star rating. Many times endings are the best parts and add layers of meaning and depth.

Here are two recent reads I decided to DNF and why.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez

I was disappointed because I wanted to love this– full of Spanish, mental health, YA, and more. The pacing was slow for me and I couldn’t make myself like/root for the protagonist. These tend to be reasons why I stop reading– not enough tension or not liking the characters.

The Fix

The Fix by Natasha Sinel

This was another book I was looking forward to reading to with mental health themes. And another book with an immediately unlikable protagonist (ie the book starts with her emotionally cheating on her boyfriend). At the beginning, her acquaintance (they only met twice!) is in the psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. She tries to visit him and feels like she could have helped/prevented it/etc (again– they only met twice!). While (other reviewers have revealed) she does have a personal connection to his story, this sort of post-tragedy self-importance/savior-complex from someone outside the survivors’ life irritates me (in fiction and in real life).

Starvation- Reviews and Raffle

My novel, Starvations, releases November 17th, 2020! If you’d like a free advanced copy in exchange for a review, you can get one on Netgalley.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

I’m also excited to announce that I have teamed up with ANAD (the national association for anorexia nervosa and related disorders) to fundraise for eating disorder awareness, support groups, referrals to resources, hotlines, and more. Check out the raffle here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I already have had a number of great reviews, mostly 5 stars (!) Those to-date are below. More will be added to Goodreads until the novel is available on Amazon.

5/5 stars. “I started and finished this book in two days! It’s compelling, thoughtfully and well-written, and accurately portrays an individual’s life with an eating disorder. As someone who has been in and out of treatment for anorexia numerous times, I’m often hesitant to read such things (and certainly wouldn’t consider it for “pleasure”!). Fennig’s writing is done in a way that doesn’t at all “mock” the struggles that individuals facing mental illness experience, and I genuinely appreciated the story.
It definitely contains content that could likely be triggering for those struggling with mental health, so keep that in mind before you decide to read it or recommend it to another individual. Aside from that, however, I would absolutely encourage everyone to read this book.”

5/5 stars. “Starvation was an incredible read. This book offers a thoughtful and unique portrayal of EDs and ED recovery, without being fetishizing or romanticizing illness. The author’s background in psychology and research definitely comes through in the content of the book and her perspective makes this book an even more engaging read. I highly recommend this book for its engaging narrative and skillful handling of a topic that is so often exploited for the sake of shock value. It is rare to see a topic like EDs written about in such a conscious way that gives the reader insight into the people around them who might be struggling.”

“5/5 stars.
Mental health books are rare, but not as rare as one that conveys the experience well. Even more, I’ve only heard of one or two others that explore male eating disorders (ie The Art of Starving, which is part fantasy). I love how much tension is in this book. The alternating past/present chapters keep the story captivating and show the parallels between the stages of illness in a way other books cannot. The humor beautifully offsets the harsh reality of Wes’ life. The characters are well-rounded and easy to root for despite their flaws. I especially loved Colin and his comedic relief. The writing was beautiful– concise and descriptive while still transporting the reader into the scene. Without going into detail, I loved the ending. It stayed away from many cliches– finding a great balance between positivity and realism.”

“5/5 stars. In “Starvation”, Molly Fennig does an amazing job at protraying anorexia/mental health honestly. There is no preaching in this story, only a message that everyone is responsible for their own actions and everyone deserves to be happy in their own skin. I really enjoyed how this story unfolded by switching back and forth between timelines. Although I don’t usually like this style of storytelling, it worked perfectly for this story and really added to it. Thank you to Netgalley; the publisher; and to Molly Fennig herself for giving me the chance to read this one. I believe telling stories about mental health is one of the few ways to normalize treatment – and Fennig does a great job of that in this book!”

5/5 stars. “It is rare I find a book that I find as hard to put down as Starvation was. Fennig’s unique style of writing made me want to keep going at the end of every chapter. Although a very serious topic, Fennig’s use of comedic relief makes the book lighter, keeping me engaged the entire time. I would highly recommend this book if you are interested how eating disorders can affect people’s thoughts and decision making. This book truly opened my eyes to how eating disorders are more than what meets the eye.”

4/5 stars. “… It’s important to have more stories about boys having eating disorders, to know that boys use lesser eating too, to get in control, to deal with major events like Wes had to when Jason died or whatever reason they have to starve themselves. I liked the title of the book which has a double meaning, you need to find out yourself. Sometimes I had tears in my eyes… Overall it’s an important story, we need more stories like this.”

4/5 stars. “After I finished the book I was left with a jumble of emotions, I can’t help but feel for the lead character… The contrast between the two timelines, especially at the beginning of the story, offered a unique perspective into the mind of Wes. You see how he got to that place, and how hard is to come back out. I love to read books that deal with mental health issues, because nothing can give you more empathy, or understanding, than being in the head of someone who lives it.”

Review of Obsessed

Obsessed by Allison Britz
Obsessed: A Memoir of My Life with OCD by Allison Britz

The premise:

A brave teen recounts her debilitating struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder—and brings readers through every painful step as she finds her way to the other side—in this powerful and inspiring memoir.
Until sophomore year of high school, fifteen-year-old Allison Britz lived a comfortable life in an idyllic town. She was a dedicated student with tons of extracurricular activities, friends, and loving parents at home.

But after awakening from a vivid nightmare in which she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she was convinced the dream had been a warning. Allison believed that she must do something to stop the cancer in her dream from becoming a reality.

It started with avoiding sidewalk cracks and quickly grew to counting steps as loudly as possible. Over the following weeks, her brain listed more dangers and fixes. She had to avoid hair dryers, calculators, cell phones, computers, anything green, bananas, oatmeal, and most of her own clothing.

Unable to act “normal,” the once-popular Allison became an outcast. Her parents questioned her behavior, leading to explosive fights. When notebook paper, pencils, and most schoolbooks were declared dangerous to her health, her GPA imploded, along with her plans for the future.

Finally, she allowed herself to ask for help and was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This brave memoir tracks Allison’s descent and ultimately hopeful climb out of the depths.

My thoughts: 5/5 stars. Wow. This book reads like fiction in the best way. I loved the writing style. Personally, I didn’t think it was slow and the disorder continually escalating was both realistic and important for tension. The descriptions were impressively vivid. As an avid mental-health-book reader and writer, and budding psychologist, this book ticked all the boxes.

In college a professor of mine studied scrupulosity– or religious OCD– something I have rarely heard about in academia, nonetheless in fiction or popular media. This includes the “voice of God” and OCD manifesting like an eating disorder (eating less to appease God in some way), such as Allison experienced.

Few mental health books are able to convey the loneliness of psychopathology while still conveying the idea that there are other people around, wanting to help. The tensions were realistic– between the social awkwardness and the internal anxiety, friends/family desire to help and lack of understanding, Allison wanting help and not wanting anyone to know. While it would seem obvious that this realism would come out of a memoir, other from-lived-experience type books (such as Turtles All The Way Down, in my opinion) do not get there.

This book also makes an effort to point out the variance in OCD presentation, especially that it isn’t just about cleanliness/contamination or organization. It also doesn’t end when Allison gets to therapy the first time nor end on an unrealistically happy note as some mental health fiction does.

Review of The Scam List

The Scam List by Kurt Dinan

The premise: Meet the best teen con artist team around. Boone McReedy: high school conman, smooth-talking charmer, and the idiot who just got scammed out of $15,000 of his mom’s money.

Darby West: ass-kicker, straight-shooter, and Boone’s ex-girlfriend.

Now they must team up to save their parents’ businesses, one con at a time. That is, if they don’t kill each other first. Of course they’re only going to scam people who deserve it.

That’s a promise. Would they lie to you?

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My thoughts: Overall 4.5/5 stars. This book was great! If you’re looking for a light-hearted story, full of humor, but not devoid of theme, this one’s for you. The plot kept my attention, without being saturated with tension. It remained unpredictable in a satisfying way— the twists are clever and appropriate, such that they make sense without being obvious.

On the heavier side, the themes include parental abandonment and defining morality. The writing itself was tight. There was enough description to immerse the reader, but not enough to hinder the pace. Similarly, the characterization was wonderfully balanced. Darby, and her anti-misogynistic agenda, (especially from a male author) were both hilarious and welcome. A strong female character who is actually strong and capable? Love it. Even better was her small/young martial arts student who could take down guys much bigger than she was (and had no reservations doing so).

Despite the great characterization and plot, with characters growing throughout the story without changing who they are fundamentally, I still wanted more. Namely, I wished more of Boone’s changes (and perhaps more change to occur in general) came from an intrinsic desire, rather than pressure from those around him.

While I highly recommend this book, I give it a 4.5 instead of a 5. Beyond the aforementioned character growth issue, I also know it’s not going to be a favorite of mine. Some of this is likely personal taste. I like characters who are empathetic and want to be the best version of themselves. Some of it is also the fact that while I was entertained while reading, the characters and plot haven’t stayed with me beyond the ending. The themes were great, but there wasn’t a profoundly different take on them, nor anything else to keep me thinking. Which is great if that’s what you like in books!

Review of Tales of Nash

Tales of Nash by Ann Worthington

Overall, this was a solid book. 4/5 stars.

The premise:

Triumph or tragedy? For seventeen-year-old Nash, the summer was both.

At first, leaving his friends in Portland to live in the woods seemed like a horrible idea. Who lives without television, video games, and the internet? But, with patience and guidance from his grandfather, the beauty of nature casts its spell, and Nash flourishes like the garden under his care. 

But when Nash is arrested and accused of murder, he is paralyzed by fear and doubt. Did he make the biggest mistake of his life? He must decide whether to tell the truth about what happened, or say nothing and let a jury decide.

Tales of Nash is a story about the fragile bonds of family, the tragedy of loss, and the triumph of hope.

My thoughts: I love the then/now alternating chapters. (Huh, almost like in my upcoming book). It helps add to the tension by creating uncertainty and conflict, while helping reveal the character development. Similarly, I loved the short chapters and the quick pace. I love that, unlike many mental health books, there is no love/romance that Cures the Protagonist. The dialogue, which I normally would not have loved (lacked tags and actions, and instead consisted just of the spoken words) somehow worked really well. This is a testament to the author, as hard as it is to do.

The portrayal of mental illness, especially substance abuse, was artfully done. We see many of the tenets of such issues in the book. These included the familial links, the cycles of unsupportive parenting, and denial of problems by those affected. The triggers– including friends who also use, boredom, coping with emotional issues, etc– were both accurate and felt realistic. Like those who fall into addiction, there was no one moment where Nash “became addicted” but rather a series of intensifying decisions that start with innocent curiosity.

Similarly, the exploration of PTSD, including the nightmares, withdrawal, and occasional flashbacks, was realistic without being overdone. Similarly, the issues of addiction and PTSD feel important to the story, but were not the only drivers of plot and characterization. This leaves the reader with round, dynamic characters that we can root for even while they make mistakes.

There was also the exploration of other issues, which I won’t go into in order to not spoil the ending, that have been controversial recently. I appreciated this as well.

I didn’t give this 5 stars, as well done as the book is, because I thought it was solid, but not The Best Ever. Things I wish were different:

  1. The title. I love the cover but the title doesn’t do the book justice
  2. More resolution. I’m all for an open ending, but it felt a little incomplete. Mostly, I would have liked a hint that Nash was going to make better friends, actually study for the GRE, and have a new goal besides just staying sober. I didn’t need to see this play out but even an ending scene where he runs into someone and starts up a conversation, or opens the GRE documents and starts on them, or starts looking up schools, would have gone a long way.
  3. Indeed, I think part of what made this book not quite a 5 is that there is plenty of conflict and tension, but I wish I knew more of what Nash actively wanted, besides Not going to jail and Not being addicted. What does he like to do? What dreams/goals does he have now?

All in all, a solid read with great depictions of PTSD and addiction.

Review of We Were Restless Things

We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu

I received an ARC on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


From debut author Cole Nagamatsu comes an atmospheric contemporary fantasy about three teens coming of age in the wake of a mysterious death.

Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles away from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a strange accident, and in the months since, his friends and family have struggled to make sense of it. But Link’s close friend Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find. And what’s more, someone claiming to be Link has been contacting her, warning Noemi to stay out of the forest.

As these secrets become too heavy for Noemi to shoulder on her own, she turns to Jonas, her new housemate, and Amberlyn, Link’s younger sister. All three are trying to find their place—and together, they start to unravel the truth: about themselves, about the world, and about what happened to Link.

Unfolding over a year and told through multiple POVs and a dream journal, We Were Restless Things explores the ways society shapes our reality, how we can learn to love ourselves and others, and the incredible power of our own desires.

My thoughts: I was drawn to this book by the beautiful cover and the blurb. Drowning on dry land? The CSI/Criminal Minds fan in me was intrigued. Coming-of-age in the wake of a death? Sounds like the kind of post-traumatic growth/mental health representation I live for. Indeed, the beginning was great.

Nagamatsu is an incredibly talented writer, especially in terms of imagery and description. The metaphors were fresh and lush, the scenes lively. Indeed without this, I doubt I would have finished the book.

The representation of an asexual character was refreshing, although I’ll go into what I wish was different about it later.

Other than that, the more I read, the more let-down I felt. I wanted to give this a good rating, especially since the author is a debut, but I couldn’t in good conscience give it more than a 2/5 stars.

What I wish was different: To start, the names were unique, in the bad pulls-me-out-of-the-story because I’m trying to pronounce them/understand them way. (i.e. Cesca, from Francesca, so probably pronounced Chesca. Noemi, girl Lyle, Gaetan, the last name Lake, despite the Lake being a big metaphor).

The imagery really was beautiful, but after a while made the story drag. Part of that was the dependence of the book on the imagery, with little plot/tension/characterization driving the story. The dialogue was just mediocre. There was nothing I really needed to keep reading to find out (its apparent very early on the lake is some fantastical thing, so what more is there to learn?). Similarly, I didn’t understand why I should care about any of the characters. Jonas was the closest I came to feeling for someone, but Link, for example, or even Noemi, I honestly didn’t care much about them. Part of that is they don’t seem to have concrete, tangible goals they are trying to accomplish.

I loved that the story took place in Minnesota, since I am from there as well. Shivery, MN was a great place name (its cold all the time here) but Galaxie was another too-on-the-nose metaphor/name.

Speaking of the asexual representation, while I appreciated it, and thought it was refreshing in the midst of a romance plot, some of the language used made me cringe. Over time, I understood it, but at the beginning it felt like the problematic trope of kissing/etc-despite-not-liking-it and not saying anything/saying no, as a reinforcement of women not stating, and sticking to, their boundaries.

As for the dream sequences, these felt unnecessary and aggressively literary. A former creative writing teacher of mine used to say that all parts/sentences should “do work” i.e. characterize, push the plot forward, or reveal themes. From the description it feels like these are supposed to be thematic, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how or why. Similarly, what’s the point, thematically, of the book? I can maybe see the argument for “learning to love ourselves”, but how is this any different than any other book? And for the power of our desires? How does this appear? Also what desires? Part of what this book was lacking were concrete goals/desires for the characters to achieve besides the nebulous “find out about the lake”.

All in all, the author is, no doubt, incredibly talented, especially with imagery. I wish I enjoyed this book more, and perhaps would have if it stopped at about 1/4 of the way through.

Release of The Kings 100

The King's 100 by [Karin Biggs]

Karin Biggs’ The Kings 100, which I previously reviewed here, is now available on Amazon! You can find the book here.

The book already has 8 reviews (all 4 and 5 stars!) and yesterday was the #1 release for Teen/YA Romantic Mysteries.

An overview of my thoughts:

4/5 stars. A great debut book. The characterization was masterfully done and made it easy to root for the characters. The world building felt obvious, but worked. With the ending, there was enough closure to be satisfied, but enough left unresolved that the ending 1) was thought-provoking and 2) feels like the world continues on beyond the story, as it should. Additionally, the plot was predictable enough that it both made sense and was satisfying, while also having enough novelties to be unique.

All in all, if you’re a fan of The Selection or a non-tragic Romeo and Juliet, check this out!

Review of Hunger Point

Hunger Point by Jillian Medoff

The premise.

“My parents may love me, but I also know they view me as a houseguest who is turning a weekend stay into an all-expense-paid, lifelong residency, and who (to their horror) constantly forgets to flush the toilet and shut off the lights.”

Twenty-six-year-old Frannie Hunter has just moved back home. Bright, wry, blunt, and irreverent, she invites you to witness her family’s unraveling. Her Harvard-bound sister is anorexic, her mother is having an affair, her father is obsessed with the Food Network, and her grandfather wants to plan her wedding (even though she has no fiancé, let alone a steady boyfriend).

By turns wickedly funny and heartbreakingly bittersweet, Hunger Point chronicles Frannie’s triumph over her own self-destructive tendencies, and offers a powerful exploration of the complex relationships that bind together a contemporary American family. You will never forget Frannie, a “sultry, suburban Holden Caulfield,” whom critics have called “the most fully realized character to come along in years,” (Paper) nor will you forget Hunger Point, an utterly original novel that stuns with its amazing insights and dazzles with its fresh, distinctive voice.

Overall 2/5 stars. DNF. I tried really hard to finish this book. Unlike many, I had to force myself to keep reading, but ultimately decided not to finish it. According to other reviews, this was a good decision– apparently there is some redemption at the end, but not enough to make it worth it.

Overall, the characters had little to recommend them. Frannie is self-centered and self-pitying. Her lack of drive and follow-through, which later we can attest to depression, coupled with no redeeming qualities, makes it impossible to root for her. The mother is arguably more self-centered. As a mother she is absent at best and borderline emotionally abusive at worst. She is having an affair, both with another man and her unending supply of painkillers. The father is passive and unhelpful. The sister, Shelly, who suffers from anorexia, is the most likable character, but since the book is through Frannie’s point of view, we don’t get to understand or appreciate her as much as I would have liked. While a dysfunctional family is unfortunately common in mental health issues, having no positive qualities in these characters worsens the stigma and is an ultimately unfair depiction of some of these issues.

On the other hand, there is a lot Medoff does well in educating about mental illness. The therapist was realistic in her comments and suggestions. Likewise the descriptions of Shelly in the hospitak felt authentic, making it clear that Medoff had done her due diligence in research. I appreciated the attempt at an eating disorder book from the family member’s point of view, especially exploring other member’s issues, but I wish the execution lived up to the promise. The crossover from dieting culture growing up to the eating disorder as an adult in Shelly, but not Frannie, was a good representation of risk and protective factors (ie not every family member will have it). Similarly, the family’s inability to grasp the severity, and essence, of Shelly’s disorder is unfortunately realistic.

Plot was another area that held promise but made it harder to stay engaged. Some of the initial conflicts– Frannie’s search for a job and love, and Shelly’s battle with an eating disorder– lost steam as the book progressed. Part of this was not liking the characters. Another part was Frannie’s own apathy towards her goals and her lack of influence over Shelly’s progress.

One saving grace of this book is that the writing is relatively well done. Medoff is clearly talented and managed to keep me reading longer than others might have, thanks to her great prose.

All in all, the premise held a lot of promise, but the book falls flat in multiple areas, especially likable characters and an engaging plot.

Review of A Danger to Herself and Others

A Danger to Herself and Others
A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Trigger warnings: self-harm, eating disorders, psychosis.

Overall 3/5 stars. This book was okay. Not bad, but not great. In terms of being mental health fiction, there’s a lot that this book tries to do (and does) well, but also areas where it falls short.

What it gets right: There is an emphasis on de-stigmatizing mental health (comparing it to a broken bone, emphasizing that it doesn’t mean she’s a bad person, etc). The first-person narration helps us feel the confusion and the inability to discern reality from illusion. Additionally, the author tries to promote the idea that people with mental illness are more likely to hurt themselves than others. Having a protagonist with psychosis is not common (most mental health books tackle anxiety and depression) and this helps psychosis feel less nebulous.

What I wish was different: The description of eating disorders, as an ED researcher, made me cringe. “Bulimia” is not the same as purging/vomiting and “anorexia” is not the same as restricting. You can have bulimia and restrict what you eat (very common) and/or anorexia and vomit (purge subtype)– the main difference is body weight, not the ways you keep your weight down.

Additionally, there are plot holes. Hannah’s very toxic relationship with her parents is not addressed. Especially with the doctor knowing this, she would not have let Hannah leave without family therapy and/or at least addressing it in individual therapy. I would have liked for there to be more tension/higher stakes overall– or something that made me want to keep reading more than I did. The inpatient care representation wasn’t accurate in ways that were frustrating– I’ve never heard of an inpatient center that uses books or bathing as “rewards”, nor any that prohibit outside books. This is especially true since lack of self care is a hallmark symptom of schizophrenia, and not something treatment facilities would promote. There was no group therapy (most inpatient centers have this) or any kind of other therapeutic activities like exercise or yoga.

I’m not sure I liked Hannah. In terms of making a compelling, not-likable protagonist, I think the author does a good job. However, in portraying psychosis, this further perpetuates the idea that those with mental illness aren’t likable (not the author’s intent, I’m fairly sure, but it comes across that way). Similarly, while Hannah says she’s more likely to hurt herself than others, this doesn’t feel genuine in her actions (the number of times she has hurt friends, potentially in deadly ways, vs Hannah’s one outbreak where she hurts her arm).

Overall, I think this book means well, and tackles really important themes. The unreliable narrator is well-executed. However, in terms of the mental health aspect, there are unrealistic, and sometimes untrue, aspects that take away from the story.