My quest to read more self-published books is mostly demonstrating to me that there is often no difference in quality between them and traditionally published books. In fact, in certain genres, it is much easier to find more ambitious or unusual books, of equal literary quality, in self-publishing.

I am tempted to say that this middle-grade book is more ambitious than most, but recently middle-grade seems to be getting more ambitious, while YA, overall, is getting less so.

It's divided into three timelines, which bleed into each other from fairly early on. In modern times, American Meredith is sent away from her beloved pregnant Lipizzan horse and her mother, who is recovering from cancer, to accompany her archaelogist aunt on a dig in Egypt. In ancient Egypt, Meritre, a singer in the temple of Amon, worries about her pregnant mother and the pharoah's daughter, who is sick with a mysterious plague. And in a cyberpunk future that has cured most diseases, Meru pursues her missing mother into a secret quarantine zone.

This novel reminded me of a childhood favorite, Mary Stolz's Cat in the Mirror, which also contrasted dual timelines, of the same soul reincarnated in ancient Egypt and modern New York. Tarr's book is more complex and ambitious. The three timelines are not merely compared and contrasted and paralleled, but directly affect each other.

The book starts a little slow, probably due to having to set up three plot lines rather than one, but becomes quite a page-turner by about the one-third mark. The themes are grief, times changing and times staying the same, the inevitability of death, and the equal inevitability of life going on: reincarnation, and birth, and life itself.

Satisfying and complex. I especially liked the pets of the three girls: a horse, a cat, and a half-insubstantial alien creature.

Note: The author is a friend, so I'm probably not that objective.

Living in Threes

From: [identity profile] megfuzzle.livejournal.com


Unfortunately, I must have read a lot of the cliche "omg, needed an editor!!!" Self published work. Normally the plot is okay, it's just full of weak areas that I feel an editor would have tightened up.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I often feel that way about books in general, is the thing. See my reply to dichroic below.

From: [identity profile] dichroic.livejournal.com


I've read some self-published books that *badly* needed an editor - but then, I'm read some publishing-house books that are no better. I've also read indie books that are impeccably edited; I'd love to know whether some of those authors are just really good at self-editing, have friends who do it well, or are paying professional editors. I suspect some of all three.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I feel the same way. A lot of traditionally published books appear to have never been edited at all. Or, if they were, I shudder to think what sort of shape they were in before.


From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com


I have recently discovered Judith Tarr and am enjoying her books, so maybe I will check this one out!

From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com


Good to know!

My frend told me the whole last year she had stopped watching TV or movies b/c too many of them had 'dying of cancer' as a sub and/or main plot.

From: [identity profile] lorataprose.livejournal.com


I think my problem is I stepped into the middle of this bizarre circle-jerk of self-pubbed YA authors who all just gave each other 5 stars and got really shirty at anyone who didn't. I read one and the first was a solid 4, maybe, then the next one a horrifyingly awful maybe-2, and the last rounding out at a solid 3. I hesitated for aaaaaaaaages before writing a review, and when I did, I found myself miraculously unfriended by several of them. So. Ha. That made me back the heck away for a while ...

But yeah, any time someone talks about the glut of terrible self-pubbed books I invite them to walk through a bookstore and just pick up a book at random. Chances are? You just picked up something terrible.

The one thing is that I've read some amazing stuff by online friends who will never get it traditionally published because it's not ~marketable, even though I know sooo many people who would enjoy it? So it's a weird kind of dichotomy.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I too have run afoul of a strange cabal of YA authors, though I suspect not the same one. Scary cliques are everywhere!

The ideas of what is marketable seem to be getting more and more narrow. I can see why this book was deemed unmarketable, though I'm not sure that judgment was correct. But I'm reading a book now (Ankaret Wells' The Maker's Mark, adult science fiction) which was self-pubbed because she couldn't get an agent, and I find that utterly inexplicable.

It's extremely well-written and delightful space opera, absolutely in line with books which are published except for having an unusually good prose style. The only thing I can think is that maybe it was considered too fun - that is, not grimdark enough - and not male-centric enough. Or else space opera is now one of the "out" genres.

From: [identity profile] erikagillian.livejournal.com


Looks like she's got a couple of deleted scenes on her website, for when you're done :) The url may be spoilery, can't tell.

For others, the kindle version is only $1.99

From: [identity profile] erikagillian.livejournal.com


Sorry, was trying to be clever :) Your description made me want to read it so I selected the title and author, copied, opened a new tab, pasted imto a search box. And found it for $1.99, which was all Ii could afford so wonderful serendipity.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


Dang, I commented on Goodreads but in general I like commenting here, for the conversation. Just, I was glad you reminded me of Cat in the Mirror, and your review, combined with Sherwoods discussion, have persuaded me I'd like to read this.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


Thinking about the remarks upstream. I have read very little self-published fiction, but the stuff I've read has been excellent quality (the stuff by [livejournal.com profile] cinda_cite is what I'm thinking of, mainly), and the reason it's been self-published has *clearly* been because it's niche and hard to market.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Tell me about her books.

The thing I was thinking is that the definition of "niche" seems to be getting broader and broader. See my comment above about Ankaret Wells' The Maker's Mark.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


The three I've read have characters interacting in a small town in Maine--it's what the publishing world would call lit-fic (a look at these characters lives, conflicts, decisions), but with spiritual/religious overtones in places (so maybe not your cup of tea), and also with looks at Maine history.

(now going up to rea d the remark about The Maker's Mark.

From: [identity profile] thecityofdis.livejournal.com


This sounds awesome. I have a massive TBR pile that means I sadly won't get to new things for a bit, but I'm definitely adding this to the list.

I really only venture into reading self-pub when it's by my friends/people I know/people vouched for by people I know, just because I don't have a lot of time otherwise (see: massive TBR pile). But this rec is sufficient for me.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I'm definitely having better luck finding books I like by poking around self-pubs than by poking around dystopias!

From: [identity profile] thecityofdis.livejournal.com


In a dystopian future, would you be stuck in a library full of nothing but YA dystopias?

From: [identity profile] thecityofdis.livejournal.com


Let us light a candle for the deceased space operas. :( Gone before their time.
.

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