Welcome to this month's trio of reviews. I've also got some tips on approaching a literary agent - and how to deal with rejection letters!
Dancing Jax - Robin Jarvis
The House of Fellows has stood forebodingly empty for centuries - longer than anyone in the coastal town of Felixstowe can remember. Until one day a group of kids welcome themselves in, looking for sellable antiquities and other priceless treasures. They find something alright; an innocent looking book of Children's Fairytales which seems to have a strange hold on those who read it. And it's not long before everyone is going insane for a copy. This is a witty, well-developed dark Fantasy novel with an ambience of Horror. It's quite a thick novel but very easy to get through. This is coming from someone who rarely reads anything over 300 pages, and usually less than that. Admittedly the pace of the story is quite leisurely and there were certain times when it dragged, leaving me little choice but to skim over the words. But the diverse set of characters and eerie collection of sinister fairytales made it worthwhile. I will be reading the sequel!
Avril Lavigne's Make Five Wishes Vol 1 - Camilla d'Errico & Joshua Dysart
A while back I saw a video-clip of this manga and, not knowing it was a book-trailer I thought, "This would make an excellent book." Several years later I realised it was a book. Better late than never, huh. I'm afraid I am going to have to recycle a much-used phrase in my manga reviews by saying; the illustrations are really wonderful! They're cute and kind of scruffy, but in a tasteful artsy sort of way. What's more, the entire book is in full colour. It's fairly standard in terms of plot; a teen with lots of (standard) problems makes lots of (standard) mistakes and eventually comes to the (standard) self-realisations. However, there're some elements of fantasy which kept me interested, along with the stark bluntness of the narrative which was at times quite poetic.
The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare - G. K. Chesterton
Undercover policeman Gabriel Syme is assigned to an important mission; infiltrate Europe's Central Anarchist Council and cut their poisonous eccentricities off at the roots before they wreak havoc in the open. However, after establishing himself as a fellow Anarchist, Syme soon realises there's another detective amongst them. And as he is driven deeper into enemy territory he encounters yet more unsettling truths, leaving him baffled and unable to tell ally from enemy. This short story wasn't what I expected it to be. It's a bit of a detective lark and a crazy game of tag, with plenty of social commentary and a parting moral all rolled in one. It reminded me of a grown-up Alice In Wonderland, in all its grotesquely fantastic glory. I would recommend this to anyone to enjoys Classics and Satire (the best combination really). I had a good time reading it.
Very recently I sent a manuscript of my Children's book to a Literary Agent. It was sadly rejected. This is something which a lot of people will fear and find difficult to swallow but it's really not as bad as it seems. Just remember, all authors have had their stories tossed to the curb by agents at some point - even ones that are famous today. And if anyone tells you their story made it to publication in one shot - they probably forgot the bit when they woke up. Haha, I kid (sort of), but you get the point. So if you are about to go through the process of riling up interest in your story, here are a few do's and don'ts to keep in mind.
Do lots of research! The more knowledge you have about Literary Agents and their expectations, the better your pitch will be.
Do read each agent's FAQs and Guidelines before sending them your work. They may have specific requirements.
Do get in touch with Literary Consultants for a professional assessment of your manuscript.
Do send manuscripts to several agents at a time. It's simply faster and more rewarding.
Do write a unique pitch letter to each agent - keep it fresh and personable.
Don't curl up into a ball and cry if your manuscript is rejected.
Don't send a rude letter to the agent under the above circumstances.
Don't start having doubts about your work at any point.
Don't neglect any resources, help and advice the agents may give.
Don't be hasty! Compose your manuscript(s) and pitch letter(s) with time and care to avoid unflattering mistakes.