Saturday, 25 January 2014

Chatting with Helen

Here is my friend Helen.  One of the biggest lover of reading (apart from me) that I know, although I haven't got her into indies yet as she doesn't own a Kindle!!

If you could live in the age and setting of a book, which book, and why?

This is tough, but I think I would have to say that The Darling Buds of May would be my choice. Ma and Pa Larkin live a thoroughly carefree life, if slightly illegal on the tax evasion front. It is perpetual summer in their glorious English landscape. 

Does it annoy you the book finishes well before 100% because the author mentions their other works at the back of the novel. Do you mind if the author includes a synopsis or even an excerpt?

No, I don’t mind at all. In fact I quite like seeing what other ideas the author has up their sleeves. 

Are you put off if you see a book is part of a series? Or does that entice you, knowing that if you like it there are more books to enjoy?

Nope, I love a good series. I have started a lot of series and I want to finish them, but of course this does mean that I may not read other authors, so I try hard not to get caught in a trap of only reading a couple of series and limiting the breadth of authors I read. I am reading all the Agatha Christie stories in order of publication, which has been an interesting exercise in seeing how social norms change. One series that I haven’t started yet, but would like to read is the Culture series by Iain M Banks. These are Sci-Fi books that he wrote, and I love his other writing, which he published as Iain Banks, so I think I would probably enjoy them.

Do you read the Look Inside before purchasing? Always? Sometimes, depending on the reviews? Never?

I always do, with both physical and online purchases. I can normally tell within the first page or so if something is going to grab me or not.

Do you read for hours at a time, or in short bursts, or a mixture of the two?

I can easily sit for hours and read if I am not interrupted. I used to commute to work on the train and always read then. Now I drive so don’t have that option. I do read for a couple of hours every evening before bed. There is something very decadent about lying under the duvet, all snug and warm with a good book.

If I know I only have a few shorter periods of time to read then I choose short stories as you can get a nice literary hit quickly. David Gaffney’s Sawn Off Tales are wonderful flash fiction, perfectly formed short stories in just a few words. I also like Chekov for his wonderful observation of the human condition.

How important are reviews of a book to you? Would they influence your choice to buy it?

Reviews do influence me, but I only take note of the reviewers I trust. These can be professional reviewers, bloggers, or friends. There are a few bloggers out there who have almost the same reading tastes as me, and so their recommendation means a lot.

Do you think you remain unbiased when reviewing books by people you know or interact with on the internet?

I try although I don’t know many authors. I do find it hard when an author I have always enjoyed produces a complete turkey of a book. It is very disappointing and can put me off reading any more of them.

How do you feel about leaving negative reviews?

I have a rule that I only review books I have enjoyed on Fennell Books. In the side bar you will see books I am currently reading, if you see it there, but then never hear of it again on the blog, you will know I didn’t like it!

Are you more lenient with regards mistakes if you know a book is self published, or do you believe the authors should have hired an editor to make sure it's the best it can be?

I hate mistakes, they ruin the flow of my reading and so I can get very annoyed. Is it me, or does there seem to be a higher number of mistakes in professionally edited books now?

If something an author did upset or bothered you, would it stop you reading more of their work, even if you've read their stuff before and enjoyed it? 

I have stopped reading one particularly famous author because of some comments he made which utterly disgusted me. It is a shame as his writing is outstanding, but now when I read his work, I have his rather unpleasant views ringing in my ears.

Helen's opinions can be found at

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