We Read Penn, Jordan, and Elliott

Every Wednesday, I take a look at what my family and I have been reading over the past week.

This week, I read very little, aside from my students’ stories and poems. This has been incredibly stressful, because I preach that writers must read a lot and write a lot, and I haven’t been doing much of either. Sure, I’ve been teaching a lot, and that’s sort of an excuse, but it doesn’t sit well with me.

The only book I’ve even managed to pick at is Pentecost by J.F. Penn, a thriller that’s trying really hard to… well, it’s trying really hard at everything. Sometimes it succeeds—the plot grabs you and doesn’t let go—but sometimes it doesn’t. The exposition is heavy with info dumps and there was a P.O.V. shift put in just so that we could get an idea of what the protagonist looked like.

I discovered Penn via the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast, where she’s a commonly mentioned name to watch. And, while I can understand why her plots might be attracting tons of readers—as well as the Lara Croftesque covers—there’s a lot of room for improvement in this, the first indie published book I’ve read in a good, long while.


Stephanie finished The Path of Daggers and started in on Jordan’s follow-up to that tome, Winter’s Heart.


Kaylee, with a little bit of encouragement from her loving parents, zoned in on one book for her school-required evening reading. She picked Jessie: Crush Crazy, and even though I wish she’d picked something else, I am glad that she is focusing on finishing a book rather than bouncing between a bunch and never finishing anything.


Melody isn’t really reading yet, but she continues to impress me with how she’ll look through stuff as a ritual at bedtime. There’s usually a good half dozen books to clear off her bed after she falls asleep. See here for a cute example.


As for what we read at bedtime, I honestly lost track. Stephanie’s been reading the girls chapters of Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle by David Elliott (a former teacher of mine from the Lesley MFA program). We’ve tried it with them a number of times over the years without much traction, but it seems to be going over better this time around. I also read a slew of Disney tie-ins and Seuss books to them, as per usual.


Have tips on what we should read next? Email us at hq@clarkwoods.com