When I say you don't notice the writing style, what do I mean. The narrative flows, with no unnecessary words, and the reader is given just enough information to be able to pull the story, atmosphere, and undercurrents of the plot together in their imagination. Too much information, and it just slows the pace, and you feel like you're being spoon fed and treated like an idiot. But too little information, and the reader is just confused and lost. Those of us who commonly read books by big name authors often take this for granted, but its actually a subtle art to get it right.
As part of my research into the self-publishing market I've down-loaded some free e-books from authors who are getting towards the top of the charts in their genres. Most of these have been professionally edited. In my first foray into reading one of these its noticeable that the flow of narrative, and particularly the subtlety of the narrative, is often a little off. So often I find myself screaming (in my head - it'd be a little embarrassing on the bus!) "I got it already! I don't need you to beat me round the head with a mallet for me to get it." (or a mullet, as Alex likes to say). "There's also regular 'clunky' dialogue, with characters saying things which, if you read them out loud, just don't sound natural.
Now, don't get me wrong. The author has done a great job in pulling together a story into a full length, coherent novel, which has an interesting, well-paced plot. There's no spelling mistakes, and the grammar's good. But unfortunately that's not quite enough to make it a great book, and to make me want to come back and read more from this author.
Its highlighted to me what a tough job it is to create a great book, and how I take for granted the skill and art of my favourite authors. It also helps me to understand the level that we need to aspire to, and hopefully starting to understand that will help me when I'm giving my feedback to Alex on the first drafts of her novel.