Book review The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ by Annie Try

This post consists of a book review, details about Annie Try’s other books, her socials and other reviews of The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ.

Book review

I received a paperback copy of The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ by Annie Try from the author (whom I have met a number of times at ACW events) on the understanding I would post an honest review. It has the tagline Some secrets are too risky to stay hidden.

Cover of The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ Some secrets are too risky to stay hidden. Picture of a ballet dancer jumping

The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ is a young adult novel, but adults, especially those involved with looked-after children (LACs) might also find it interesting to read. I am not in the target age-group, but read it from cover to cover the day I received it.

Emma JJ, who is facing significant problems as a teenage LAC, keeps a diary. Having made up her mind to tackle the cause of her flashbacks and panic attacks, she embarks on a journey of discovery – and not just self-discovery – during the summer in which she is waiting for her GCSE exam results.

Her diary entries conclude with to-do lists and charts to help her make decisions – skills she has learned from her social worker.

There is tension in the story as the restrictions around being in care (intended for her protection) threaten to prevent her taking part in activities she enjoys, such as dancing. Secrets from the past are extremely unsettling and have a bearing on the future.

Her friends are well-drawn characters, with their own worries mostly about the usual teenage concerns. Happy celebrations provide light relief from the more intense passages.

This book has the potential to help readers develop empathy and to learn skills to make their own decisions during their teenage years and beyond. While I didn’t identify with Emma, I did care about what happened to her.

There are some loose ends, which could be part of another book.

The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ was published in 2022 by Kevin Mayhew.

Annie Try’s books and socials

Photo of Annie Try
Annie Try

The author, who writes fiction as Annie Try, had experience of working with troubled young people as a clinical psychologist. The plots of her earlier books for adults also reflect this. I have reviewed them previously, having purchased and enjoyed them.

Trying to Fly

Out of Silence

Red Cabbage Blue

Annie Try’s socials are her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Other reviews and a podcast

Georgie Tennant

Emily Owen

Podcast Christian Book Blurb – interview by Matt McChlery

Rev Patrick Coghlan

C.F. Dunn

Ruth Leigh

Wendy H. Jones


A Christmas poem

Soon after I joined one of the Association of Christian Writers’ online genre* groups we were challenged to write something about the Christmas story. I shared one of my Advent poems, which may be heard on Soundcloud. (It is the third one.) The following poem has been published in ACW’s print magazine, Christian Writer. I read it in a concert of carols and readings in December 2021, but this is the first time the text has appeared online. It is the second of two poems on Soundcloud.

The poem is based on Luke 2:1-20

*The genre group is for Christian writers of historical and biblical fiction.

Christmas visitors 
Joseph (with Mary on a donkey) 
Arrived in Bethlehem 
And went to see 
If there was room for them. 
They had arrived too late! 
Cousins and uncles and a great aunt, 
Were quick to state, 
‘Stay here?’ ‘No chance!’ ‘You can’t!’ 
Joseph was downcast and asked, 
‘Is there no nook or cranny?’ 
A kinsman was tasked 
By a kind, friendly granny 
To show them the stable. 
It was warm and dry, 
So they were able 
To shelter. What’s that cry? 
Mary’s baby’s been born. 
Jesus is his name. 
He is lying on stalks of corn; 
Angels tell of his fame. 
Some shepherds came down 
From the fields, leaving sheep. 
They found the babe in the town. 
Was he fast asleep? 
The angels had told them, 
‘The Messiah is here. 
‘Go to Bethlehem. 
‘There is no need to fear!’ 
So they had left their sheep 
And gone to Bethlehem, 
Where the babe from sleep 
Blinked and gazed at them. 
They returned with great joy 
For they knew that they’d seen 
The most wonderful boy – 
A nativity scene! 
© Susan Sanderson 29 September 2021 

Book Review: Popcorn Poetry by Brendan Conboy

I received a digital Advance Review Copy of Popcorn Poetry with no obligation to write a favourable review.

There are seventy five new poems in this book. The first one Popcorn Poetry is an amusing explanation of how Brendan Conboy writes poems. The poems are varied with some telling stories and others giving advice. All are rhyming verses.

One is a nonsense poem.

Brendan Conboy’s book launch poster

Brendan’s Christian faith is reflected in his poetry, which I enjoyed reading. His enthusiasm for life is demonstrated in his poster (above) and in his poetry.

For a chance to read one of his poems inspired by James 2, click here and visit the More than Writers’ blog, where Brendan Conboy wrote about this book. Like me Brendan is a member of the Association of Christian Writers (ACW).

Popcorn Poetry is available as a paperback or a Kindle edition. The poem Popcorn Poetry may be read on the Amazon website. The book was published on 22 August and is being launched online on 13th September.