Thursday, July 30, 2015

Challenging reads

Lately this beta-reading thing get's overwhelming and challenging. I just love it. I love giving feedback, I love to have this "immediate" contact with authors. But really, I haven't got time anymore to do anyhing else.

There was this job - it actually became a job! - of editing a first part of a trilogy. And you know what? He asked me to be his "developmental editor" for the next two parts. Amazing!

Then there is this young student who can't afford to pay for beta-reading, explaining her situation on goodreads. I have to fill out a questionnaire after each chapter. That's not easy, because the questions are always the same. But I'm a nice person and I'll do my best chapter after chapter.

But definitely the best thing this week was Michael's (my first and so far only guest) new not-yet-named novel. There wasn't much to correct - but there was so much to think about. And yes, I was thinking about it while at work, dreaming about it in bed, guessing where he would go with this story, deciphering the message more and more. And he's got a lot to say - about the world, about love and about God. Indeed this book put me at a place where I was constantly asking myself: Do I agree? Is that what I believe? What is off here? Is this the whole truth or is something crucial missing? I was "testing the spirits" (1. John 4:1). And I didn't expect it at all. The book doesn't start like this. Michael has an amazing ability to put all those things into one story, a sci-fi romance!

Reading is always an experience. This one was special!

But as I'm not only a beta-reader but also a reviewer I had promised to deliver a review for Housebroken within a reasonable time frame.

My review on goodreads
This was a different experience. Having read some very good reviews I started with great expectations. And, indeed, it drew me in immediately with Bergh's very good writing style and some strange events and this atmosphere that makes you feel that there's something very wrong.
Not just something. Everything is wrong here. Two strangers are intruding an already broken, very wealthy familiy, supposedly to observe their routine for one week. Things get evil very quickly, cruel, brutal, excruciating. And nobody knows why. There seems to be no reason and the one given in the end isn't very convincing.
The well-developed main characters aren't likeable. The kidnappers aren't the worst. If you've got a son like Adam, you don't need enemies.
It is hard to get through all this very detailed tortures and I was glad to reach the end.
But if you like horror caused by human beings, this is your book.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

From beta reading to editing

Lately I've been quite busy with beta-reading and reading for reviews. It's amazing how different people use language, how they diversify the syntax - or don't, how sometimes dialogues seem to be taken from real life and other times they are so constrained and forced.

The beta reading I mentioned, the one that is still continuing, led to copy-editing. This week he wants to send the first three chapters to a publisher.

I still can't understand how it's possible that I do this job in English. I really enjoy it, but I'm full of doubts. How can I ever make suggestions about grammar or syntax to a native speaker? How dare I?

Sure enough, I can locate where it should be "it's" instead of "its" or when the author jumps randomly through the tenses. But my vocabulary is limited, when I write, I'm never sure that I get it right.

I just can't read anything without noticing mistakes. And, to find them in published books is disturbing, especially when the acknowledgements mention the fantastic proofreader. I know I can do better. So, why not?

Some authors really seem to appreciate my corrections and suggestions, my thoughts about the story line, the characters or specific scenes. What a boost for my ego!
Am I helping the authors or myself? Ideally both.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A stirring thriller

To be a member of NetGalley sometimes is a great gift. I have the advantage to read great literature before everybody else does.

Before joining NetGalley I never was up to date with books. I didn't bother to check the bestseller lists, always looking for free books or waiting for the more economic hardcover or finding something second hand.

My review on goodreads

This week I was really lucky to receive the ARC of A Blossom of Brigth Light, a really extraordinary book.

It took me in immediately and kept me reading all night until 3 am and followed me into my dreams.
On the surface it is a crime mystery with a likeable and smart detective and his altruistic girlfriend.

But there's more to it. This book and the characters have depth.
It hurts to know that this fiction isn't as fictive as we would like it to be. These things happen: couples who don't talk about the things that really matter, politicians who overlook crimes and do favors in order to get elected, main purpose public opinion, illegal immigrants who endure all sorts of abuse out of fear, men who consciencelessly use girls like objects:

For about 24 hours I lived in Lake Holly, NY, among those Latinos, suffering with Adele, Vega and most of all with Luna, a 15-year-old girl in danger.