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


Looking back over 2022 and forward to 2023

During 2022 I have continued to blog at least weekly on Sue’s Trifles and weekly on Sue’s words and pictures. Once again I took part in the blogging from A to Z in April challenge and was privileged to have two guest posts on the official A to Z blog – A reverie on 21st April and (with help from J Lenni Dorner) #AtoZChallenge An Alphabet of Blog Tips on 2nd August 2022. My theme for the A to Z 2022 challenge was Christmas, with posts including links to Christmas carols.

I am now a reserve for the Association of Christian Writers’ More than Writers’ blog and have had four posts on it during the year:

Are you thinking of blogging?

Meandering along the writing path

Genealogy then and now

Problems Pantsers avoid

Annmarie Miles interviewed me about my poetry and my faith. The radio interview was aired in a programme on UCB Ireland – The Writer’s Trail and repeated on Sunday 19th June 2022 at 7am BST. It was subsequently available as a podcast.

On 23rd July two of my poems were published in Agape Review Multifaceted Light and Space and Time and on 14th August a 75-word story on Paragraph Planet.

After writing a post about books on nature and climate change, I added a page, Books about Nature and Climate Change, which I am keeping updated with new links.

Many of my posts are reviews of books of my own choice, which I have read and enjoyed. I was also invited to review a few other books including the following four:

Brisbane: A novel by Eugene Vodolazkin translated by Marian Schwartz

Book Review: Popcorn Poetry by Brendan Conboy

Book Review and author interview: The continued times of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh

Book review and author interview: The Wanderer Reborn by Natasha Woodcraft

I have continued to write poetry mainly from prompts issued for an online poetry group affiliated to the Association of Christian Writers. Not many of these poems have appeared online. Some of them are part of a project I have begun, writing poems about our 900-year-old church building. One previously unpublished poem written in 2021 featured in my post: A surprising event

Away from the world of social media I have attended committee meetings, choir practices, church services and done some voluntary work. At home I have enjoyed gardening, knitting and local walks.

My word for the year has been generosity. This follows on from previous words I have tried to focus on in earlier years.

For 2023 I have picked the word Listen. I write in the living room and concentrate on what I can see rather than what I hear. When the news is on the radio, I don’t concentrate on it for long. I need to pay more attention when people are speaking as well. There is also the question of ‘listening’ to what God might be telling me. I believe that God speaks through the Bible, through other people and angels, and sometimes directly as to the prophets. The prophet Isaiah exhorted the people to listen. In Isaiah 48 he was speaking to the people of Israel and Judah, and in Isaiah 49 to people of distant nations.

My regular readers will know that words fascinate me. My three words (20162017 and 2021)  have a progression of shared letters – ReST – TRuST; TrUSt – FocUS. My word for 2022, GenerOSity, and for 2023, LISTen, continue this trend.

My writing and blogging goals include finishing my poetry project and publishing it, taking part in the A to Z challenge again, reading and reviewing more books, including one I have been invited to review and have already read and enjoyed. This is Beneath the Tamarisk Tree by Rob Seabrook, which I’ll be reviewing at the beginning of February. On Sue’s words and pictures I intend to continue with Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge.

Thank you for reading. I am praying a New Year’s blessing on all my readers.

Photo of an orchid with hand-written text New Year Blessings

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