Tag Archive | literary criticism

Best Books of 2016 – aka, I Am A Terrible Person

So firstly, I am ashamed, ASHAMED, of my lack of blogging since my Journey to Employment post – my only excuse being my employment. With how busy my first two months of work have been and keeping up with the PubInterns account, and attempting to have a social life, I just haven’t had the time or inclination to blog as much as I used to. SHAME CHLOE, SHAME.

But I’m making a quick return, and though I can’t promise my blogging will be better in 2017, at least I’m ending 2016 on a high note, with a run down of the best books I read this year (totally my opinion, probably not the mainstream or what everyone else thinks, but whatever, this is my blog, not theirs). Incidentally, I am currently reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and loving it!!!

No particular order, just wonderful books, and I can’t even remember all the books I read this year (there were lots okay) but these are the ones that stood out to me.

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t? 

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all. 

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend. 

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

I loved this book, such a brilliant, humorous read, that made a difficult subject honest and real and entertaining without taking away from the severity of it. Shappi is a fantastic writer and this was definitely a stand out this year – Nina is a great character and I wish she was my friend.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

This is a book that I felt really and truly affected by after I read it. It has stuck with my long after I read it and I am itching to get my hands on Jennifer’s next book, Holding Up the Universe to enjoy her writing again. I wrote a longer but still ‘mini’ review of it here but to repeat the most important thing from that review – this book is not afraid of the hard stuff, of real life and unhappy endings. And that’s what makes it special.

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, Emma O’Donovan is different. She is the special one – beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way. 

Until that night . . . 

Now, she’s an embarrassment. Now, she’s just a slut. Now, she is nothing.

And those pictures – those pictures that everyone has seen – mean she can never forget.

This is the kind of book I just want to throw at people and force them to read it. Again, longer review here but in essence Louise O’Neill teaches a valuable lesson about the blurred lines between consent and rape, victim blaming, and the painful after effects of rape. What’s really quite special is that Emma is not a hugely likeable character but that still is no excuse for what happens to her.

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

Controversially, I actually prefer Fangirl to Rowell’s more celebrated novel, Eleanor and Park. (I’ve done reviews of both here and here, and state why I prefer Fangirl in my E&P review.) I felt really connected to Cath as a character and really enjoyed seeing her different relationships: with Wren, with Reagan, with her parents, and with Levi. How each relationship added personality to Cath and developed her as a person was so great to read and I loved seeing her grow. However, this book is certainly not without its problems.

Every day I am someone else.

I am myself – I know I am myself – but I am also someone else.

It has always been like this.

Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .

Such an interesting idea for a novel, and so well written. For a character whose body is constantly in flux, A manages to have such a complex and solid personality and development. My longer review is here and I have re-read it since then and still love it just as much. I love that it explores loss of identity in quite a bold way by actually having A lose their identity repeatedly.

They were the victims of separate massacres. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press.

When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

Is this cheating if it isn’t out until next year? Whatever, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a proof copy and devoured this novel. It was so well written and so great for a debut, I will encourage everyone to read it if they can next year! A total page-turner that keeps you guessing throughout. Definitely a must-read in 2017.

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

You can see my longer review here and see that I do love Jandy Nelson as a writer and think she is so talented. What is great about I’ll Give You the Sun is that, like Fangirl, it understands that relationships other than romantic ones are so formative in your teenage years, especially ones between siblings. Also the dual narrative is absolutely brilliant – two different characters and two different timelines that manage to complement each other so well.

What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

I love, love, love this book! It’s such a clever idea by Laura Barnett and I wrote a nice long review of it here. It was such a gift to receive it as part of a competition I won, that I had no pre-conceived ideas of it and was allowed to fall in love with the purity of a great story and brilliant writing. This is a love story that goes beyond the norm. It’s one for the ages.

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

It’s no shock that this was on my must-read list this year and that it gained so many good reviews. It is superbly written, compelling and exciting. Clare Mackintosh does a brilliant job of keeping the reader’s attention and focus and the book zags in places where you expect it to zig which I love. I wrote a full review here and still maintain that it was the best thriller since Girl on the Train. 

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

I just finished this last week and am so pleased to write a review of a book with NO ROMANTIC INTERESTS. This book passes the Bechdel test on so many levels and pages which gets all the applause. Caddy reminded me so much of me at 16 though without a Rosie or a Suzanne and it was so easy to see how she could get swept up in the danger of someone a little bit more exciting than her. It was a beautiful representation of life after a trauma, how tragedy affects the victim and damages them even after they are supposedly saved.

In this historic romance, young Elizabeth Bennet strives for love, independence and honesty in the vapid high society of 19th century England.

Shock horror but I hadn’t actually read Pride and Prejudice until this year. But then I found myself addicted to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (which if you haven’t watched you really really need to) and decided it was about time I actually read the most famous novel in the English language. Plus, now that I knew the story from LBD, I would be able to keep track of what was going on and focus more on Austen’s words. And I have to say, I totally understand why it’s so popular and beloved (aside from Colin Firth coming out of a lake sopping wet). It is a great narrative, with the original boss bitch Lizzie Bennet and a brilliant representation of 19th century high society.


So, what were your top books of 2016? Any recommendations?

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Shtum – Jem Lester

I must start this review by thanking the wonderful Sam Eades for sending me a proof of Shtumalong with The Versions of Us by Laura Barnet, which has been added to my expanding ‘To Read’ list, as part of a Secret Santa giveaway.

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I had heard so much about this book: on THE Book Club on Facebook, on Twitter, and in the general book world. Since diving into the book world myself on my unwavering hunt for a job in a publishing house, I have become more eager than ever to read proofs before the book is publishing so that I too can rave about them upon publication. Therefore, I knew I had to get my hands on Shtum, if not to see what all the fuss is about really.

And it’s completely worth the fuss.

Shtum tells the story of Ben and his autistic ten-year-old son Jonah, who are forced to move in with Ben’s father Georg in order to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal. Thus, three generations of Jewells are thrown together and a tale of family, history, identity and crisis unfolds.

I found the novel initially, not so much challenging, but challenging in its simplicity, in that I kept waiting for the bomb to drop and for it to to become the incredible novel I had read about. I did however, enjoy the opening sections for Lester’s writing similarities with Jonathan Tropper. I found his depiction of Ben to be quite similar to Tropper’s Judd from This Is Where I Leave You, though the two characters are on paper rather different. The way Lester plays with family dynamics and the meaning of family – in that family does not necessarily have to be blood – is incredibly reminiscent of Tropper’s writing, and Lester achieves that same casual elegance in his development of character and character relationships as does Tropper.

The wit and humour in Ben and his father Georg in times of hardship is what keeps the novel afloat and really makes up the heart and the emotion of the novel. The way the three generations interact and share their lives is simply charming and effervescent,

However, once the bomb dropped, and the bombs continued to drop, with more and more punches and twists to the tale that strike right at the heart, I realised just how fantastic this book would really be, and how it exceeds Tropper in so many ways. There is an emotional depth and an authentic sentiment to the closing chapters that really makes you root for the Jewells, despite their, at times, negative qualities, such as Ben and Emma’s dissolving relationship and their own individual demons.

The very end of the novel packs a serious emotional punch, that I was not expecting and really shook me as I read it. I don’t wish to spoil it here, but I will say that I felt it was slightly rushed, and though there were hints of it throughout the novel, I would have preferred a different narrative style, perhaps interweaving the close of the story throughout the novel in a dual narrative style.

I have seen much success with this kind of narrative in the past, though at the same time as it is a common narrative move, I can understand why Lester would choose not to write his story as such. But I really do feel that as impactful as the final note of the story is, it would benefit from more attention throughout.

I have no doubt that this will be a huge seller in 2016, and the success of it is truly down to Lester’s incredible ability to write compelling but relatable characters that really tug on your heartstrings, as well as packing a punch at the end of the narrative. I read it in approximately four hours, and have no doubt that with the right amount of hours in a day, you could too.

 

Shtum is published by Orion books on 7th April 2016 and again, all thanks go to Sam Eades for sending me a copy of this much desired first novel. 

Henry V at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Oh boy am I lucky English Literature student??

Of my life, I can confirm few literary loves as true and unwavering. One being Harry Potter and the other, solidly, firmly, Shakespeare. Yes, I confess, I am that hated Literature student that loves Shakespeare and is completely awful about it.

And because of this love, I took a module this semester entitled Shakespeare’s Comedies – no prizes for guessing what that one’s about, taught by some masterful academics of Shakespeare’s world, imported directly from the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, which has links to my university.

As part of our course, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Institute itself to have some talks by academics on Henry V, a Q and A with the cast and then to see the production itself by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The production was filmed, so if anyone does happen upon it, I was sat in row D and may very well have my five minutes of fame there.

The day itself was a wonderful experience, and I tweeted about it with great pride and a little smugness.

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But what I’m really here to discuss is the play Henry V and the production. It was an outstanding performance. I’ve never been lucky enough to see the Royal Shakespeare Company before but this floored me, and confirmed to me why they are the best of the best.

Now it’s debatable whether Henry V can even be considered a comedy – certainly in the First Folio it is a history play – and most likely it was included in our course because of this fantastic opportunity. However, the RSC made the most of its comedic elements from the language barriers between Henry and Catherine, to the accent struggles of the Irishman, Welshman and Scotsman – hang on I think there’s a joke in there somewhere.

It was a fierce and solid production that left me in awe of the magnificence of the company and of Shakespeare’s words. It’s a concept well known that you can’t really understand Shakespeare until you see it performed, read aloud or even on film. His prose and verse can be considered far too difficult to be understood straight off the page, and certainly, seeing it brought to life adds a further dimension and a clarity unable to be absorbed simply from reading.

I would recommend – and have recommended – this production to so many people, especially as the full tetralogy (Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Henry V) is transferring to the Barbican theatre in London following Henry V’s closure in Stratford. However, alas, I believe tickets are selling out fast, so if you’re a Shakespeare lover or indeed a history lover get on it.

For me, I must now move on to something else, something firmly comedic. How about Much Ado About Nothing? 

On The Life of a Final Year English Student

I am feeling incredibly guilty right now. I love this blog so much and love everything that it stands for: the books, the reviews, the theatre, the drama; but unfortunately real life seems to have taken over in the last month and my lovely little blog fell to the wayside.

That’s the reality of being a student in the final year of her degree when instead of having time to write about Me Before You or Elizabeth Is Missing, two posts I was really looking forward to writing, I am instead dedicating my time to reading such works as Gender Trouble by Judith Butler and The Femme Fatale by Virginia Allen. Unfortunately, dissertation reading has taken over my life, especially as I’m doing two, and even though I have a fabulous pile up of books that look at me every night before I go to sleep, I haven’t managed to open any of them.

So my apologies to anyone that does read this blog and my apologies also to myself. I’ve even had a bout of tooth infection last week which put me off reading even The Femme Fatale never mind My Name is Leon.

So as well as taking the opportunity in this post to apologise briefly I thought I’d introduce my dissertations, in case they’re of any interest, and to show you readers what’s taking up my time instead of writing for you.

I’m a Joint Honours English Lit and Hispanic Studies student (Spanish in fancy terms) so I’m writing two 6,000 word essays on two similar but distinct topics (if that makes any sense at all). I think they’re both rather different, but as both are deep interests of mine, I can see where the possible similarities are: namely the discussion of women.

So without any further ado, here are my dissertations:

Spanish Independent Study Module 

Don’t ask why it’s called this, I’m not sure either. But nevertheless, mine will be – or rather is, as it’s already pretty concrete, and even has some parts of it written – a study of gender subversion in two Spanish Civil War films, Belle Epoque (1992) and Libertarias (1996).

Republican Spain was an era of subverting traditional norms and retreating from total social conformity, shown in both an idyllic and bleak light. Belle Époque leans more towards the idyllic side of subversion, in which hierarchies, social norms and gender roles are reversed, whilst possibilities for escapism seem endless. Conversely, Libertarias shows the bleak reality of forced conformity to traditional roles from which women were desperate to escape.

What’s interesting about these two films is that both were directed in the 1990s, whilst set in the early 1930s. A study of this shows the effect hindsight and nostalgia has on cinema and portrayals of gender in film.

My study will focus on unpacking gender theory by Judith Butler and Judith Halberstam, cinematic gaze theory by Laura Mulvey and spatial theory by Edward Said and Michael Foucault, whilst rounding it out with the consideration of nostalgia and contention. This all sounds rather complicated and confusing, but I’m hoping once I get around to writing it, it will all start to make sense. At least to the markers and me!

English Literature Extended Essay

My English Literature focus is on the very new (in English Lit terms), very progressive genre of ‘domestic noir’. This is primarily how the noir crime genre of film, and indeed fiction, places itself within a domestic sphere. For this, my primary texts will be the very well known and very popular Gone Girl and We Need to Talk About Kevin, with minor consideration of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go to Sleep.

With this I intend to consider why this genre is growing in popularity and what makes it distinct as a genre. In doing this I can consider its marketable qualities, the human fascination with crime and most importantly the effect on the reader.

It’s also incredibly important, for me as a female reader and female voice, to make a clear distinction as to why we must call it ‘domestic noir’ rather than ‘chick noir’. This established notion of ‘chick noir’, or ‘chick lit’ or ‘chick crime’ is incredibly damaging to a genre that is equally as important in the literary world as literature written by and for men. There should be no distinction between gendered readers in 2015 and these books are as worthy of being written about academically as novels by male authors.

For this reason, I am hoping that an academic study of the ‘domestic noir’ genre (which in my research has not been done yet) will open doors for the genre and solidify its place in the literary canon. And hopefully gain me some points for originality!


 

So those are my dissertations – congratulations if you made it to the end! Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I will aim to get out more blog posts of the things that this blog is meant to be about, book reviews and the like.

Complimentary cat gif. I don’t even like cats. (Don’t shoot.)

My Week(s) With Penguin

I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks doing work experience (or an unpaid internship, as I like to call it on my CV) with the publicity and marketing team in Penguin General. For anyone who doesn’t know the full history of Penguin Random House and all its divisions, there are three main adult divisions of Penguin: Penguin Press, Michael Joseph and Penguin General.

Penguin General is mainly responsible for literary fiction and non-fiction, with imprints Hamish Hamilton, Fig Tree and Viking, publishing authors such as Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby, Ali Smith and just this year breaking one of the most popular debut novelists Emma Healey (Elizabeth is Missing).

I knew I wanted to work in publishing the moment I stepped into the building at my unpaid internship at Hodder & Stoughton last year and I was surrounded by books, and more importantly, people who loved books as much as I did. Working with Penguin General allowed me to soak up even more information and resources and gain even more experience and skills about the industry I want to be part of and the career I intend to have.

Not only did I walk away with enough books to start my own independent bookstore – although I don’t really want to share any of them, especially not my signed Paul Murray – but I walked away knowing more than ever that I belong in a world of publishing and creativity and idea sharing.

The skills I already had and the skills that I’ve developed amalgamate perfectly for a career in publicity and marketing, where not only do you get to read excellent books, but it’s actually your job to share with the world how amazing your authors and their works are.

The team in Penguin General are some of the friendliest, liveliest and warmest people I’ve ever met, or had the pleasure to work with, and each of them have that personable nature and creative interest that I know is necessary for this specific job. I have to thank everyone in the team for welcoming me so openly, not being afraid to give me lots to do – even if I did come on the week of million mailings – and for answering any questions I had.

For the two weeks I was there, I never felt like the ‘work experience girl’, I always felt like part of the team and that the jobs I was doing really contributed to their work and helping them.

Publishing is a growing industry: growing in size, growing in popularity and growing in the realms of possibilities of just what it can do. I only want to grow and develop alongside it, growing and developing my skills, my passion and my abilities.

So thank you mainly to Steph for setting me up with these amazing two weeks, to Daisy for looking out for me throughout and to everyone at Penguin for only being supportive of my part in your team and my future in publishing. I believe this has been the most important step so far on my ladder towards the career I truly want… I can’t wait to keep climbing.

The Catcher In The Rye

Upon noticing the above novel on my bookshelf last week I decided that at the age of 21 it was about time I read the quintessential young adult novel. Some have even called The Catcher In The Rye the first young adult novel, a genre that has become increasingly popular and significant in recent times and could possibly be called my preferred genre. The beauty of the young adult novel is that it can be an umbrella genre and have so many subsections: young adult fantasy (Harry Potter), young adult dystopia (Hunger Games) and young adult contemporary (realism novels like The Fault in our Stars).

The Catcher in the Rye, then, as the first young adult novel is the precursor and model for such authors such as Stephen Chbosky, John Green and David Levithan. So, as these are some of my favourite authors, it was high time that I read the tale of Holden Caulfield.

What is clear, certainly to me as a literary enthusiast and a literature student, is that this novel cannot just be read at face value and discarded. Salinger’s book is a collection of a series of events pertaining to the protagonist, each which accumulate to add more layers to his character and the development of his personality. There are complex issues in this novel, much more so than a simple tale of a rebellious outsider who flees private school for adventures in New York.

The novel deals with subject matter as delicate as abuse, identity, loss, alienation and the gentle sadness of feeling so alone in the middle of the most alive city in the world.

When I first read The Great Gatsby at age 16, I was initially dismissive. Fitzgerald’s book and Salinger’s novel have their similarities in that at first sight both novels seem to be a recounting of a series of events, wherein the characters are of more interest and significance than the actual events and plot lines in the story. With five years having passed between my reading of The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye, I found myself feeling the same initial disappointment as I read that I could not understand the significance of this novel upon first reading.

However, as it was a novel I was studying at school I then went on to unpack and develop the ideas within The Great Gatsby and pull it apart to analyse the themes and language. Now, five years later, I can do this alone with The Catcher in the Rye, and indeed I believe that this is an integral part of reading. One cannot understand Salinger’s true intentions without delving more deeply into his text.

This is what has struck me the most as a reader of The Catcher in the Rye, the intricacies of the novel, which must be understood in order to understand the novel as a whole. As a reader and a lover of literature, I have often found, since my first initial dismissal of The Great Gatsby that it is necessary to unpack and develop a novel in order to understand its true value.

And I will say this to any reader of a young adult novel: the novel itself is often deeper than you think. This much is certainly true for any of John Green’s work, which as an avid follower of his work and synonymously a literature student, I have mulled over and thought about more deeply.

So yes, I would advocate reading The Catcher in the Rye for anyone and everyone. It’s not a difficult read, with simple sentence structures and easy colloquial language, as it is written in Holden’s 17-year-old voice. But it’s complex as a narrative and demands a deeper thought from the reader. Which was very possibly Salinger’s intention and certainly shows the complexities of being a teenager, making it the definitive young adult novel.

Along with The Great Gatsby and Harry Potter alike, it appears to me to be one of those novels that you just have to read, if only to see what the fuss is about. I figure that if you think about it properly when you’re done, you won’t be disappointed.

Self-Publishing

Facebook Book Clubs are all the rage at the moment. So much so that I decided to join one under the recommendation of my mother. I turned off my notifications and rarely read the reviews but from a (further) recommendation of my mother I decided to buy one of the most popular books on the page and read it. I was not a fan: I found the writing to be poor at times, the ending to be lacklustre and the story itself to be boring and lacking in any real substance.

As I persevered with the book I found myself wondering why it had been so popular on the book club and why so many people had loved it so. I kept my thoughts to myself, read another of the author’s books and enjoyed it more and kept silent on the book club. However, when another reviewer finally admitted to not liking the work and more followers agreed, I felt I could finally voice my criticism, which came in a similar way to that I’ve written above.

Yet, I had forgotten that the author herself was a member of the book club and could see my review. She wasn’t happy, to say the least, and made a comment along the lines of: ‘It’s so hard to hear people completely rubbish and pour hate onto something you’ve worked hard on’.

I felt guilty for my comment and guilty for having my opinion. It wasn’t that I was pouring hate, per se, but I found her writing style to be uncomfortable and disjointed in places and found that perhaps she would be more comfortable in third-person prose rather than first-person as I found another of her books an easier, more enjoyable read. What struck me, though, is that the fault may not necessarily lie with the author but with her editor.

Surely her editor should have read the syntax as I did and suggested better phrasing and writing?

So I relocated the book on Amazon in an effort to find the publisher and to my expectation I discovered it was self-published.

So often this happens with self-publishing, that the editing and writing is just not up to the standard of a well published and promoted novel.

I attempted to read a self-published work once that confused ‘there/their and they’re’ and couldn’t make it past chapter three for its poor, frankly unreadable, editing.

Whilst I understand the notion of self-publishing, I have to wonder if authors and first-time writers think to find more people and study groups to beta their work in the hopes of improving it to get a formal publishing contract. After all, they cannot expect to be anywhere on a bestseller list without concrete editing and publicity. Whilst the original book in question has been successful both on Amazon and my Facebook Book Club, I am not surprised that it has yet to make an appearance on a true book list with clumsy attempts at first-person.

I also believe that such self-publishers turn to book clubs and the like in order to bolster their self-worth. After all, a group of housewives are hardly going to have the same critical opinion as a literary agent or editor. Though I don’t mean to sound condemnatory to such book clubs, which are all fun to a point, I have to suggest that in order to get ahead in an authorial career, one must seek out better editing and beta-ing, and not reviewers that will simply pander to you because you mention you have a sick child or have worked really, really hard.

I stand firm in my opinion of the book in question and self-publishing, and wonder if the author took more notice of the more critical reviews, would she be closer to getting a publishing contract?

I open myself up to self-publishers, ready to read their novels (if readable, unlike the author confused by ‘their/they’re/there’) and give a true critical opinion, in the hope of helping them, not hindering their progression.