I've been a book worm for pretty much my whole life. I've read many types of books over the course of my life, but currently the sorts of books I enjoy the most are fantasy and science-fiction. I particularly like it if these genre's are mixed with comedy like the style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. I definitely can enjoy more serious fantasy and science-fiction though. I also enjoy vampire books, but not quite as much as I did when I was younger.

This blog is mainly for my book reviews, but I also post quotes and other random book related things. If you'd like to know more about the books I've read and am planning to read, I'm a member at several different book sites, and links to my profiles are listed under My Pages.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review of Backwards by Rob Grant

Backwards by Rob Grant is the forth book based on the British science fiction comedy show Red Dwarf. The crew of Red Dwarf gets stranded in an alternate dimension on an alternate version of Earth where time runs in the opposite direction. Many years pass before they are able to escape this dimension and when they finally do, Red Dwarf isn't where they left it. With the limited supplies aboard their transport vessel, they must search for Red Dwarf in order to survive. This book was a fun quick read and left me wanting more. Unfortunately as of right now there are no more Red Dwarf books.

This book is an alternate sequel to Better Than Life so it picks up where that book left off and takes place parallel to Last Human. You'll definitely want to read Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life before reading this book, but it doesn't matter if you read it before or after reading Last Human. I think this book resembles the events of the show more closely than Last Human does. It was also the funnier of the two books so I enjoyed it more. I'd say that Last Human is still worth reading though even if it wasn't quite as good as this book. To anyone looking to both watch the show and read the books, I recommend watching the entire show before starting on the books because the differences between the two will be less confusing that way.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"We cannot choose what we are, yet what are we, but the sum of our choices?"

~Rob Grant, Backwards

A Few Tips For Independent Authors

This is really more of a post about my pet peeves regarding independent authors on various book sites, but I figure it's probably helpful for authors to know what readers don't want to see when they are promoting their books.

Joining a number of social book sites is a good way to promote your books, especially if you join discussion groups. Before promoting your books in a discussion group though, take some time to look around the group to determine what the group's policy on advertising is. Some groups don't allow advertising at all. If this is the case, please respect this policy and don't promote your books here as it will be considered spam. Many groups do allow advertising, but only allow it in a specific section of the group. Please respect this and don't post advertisements outside of the designated section or it will be considered spam. If you've looked around and a group doesn't have any policies against advertising and doesn't have a designated advertisement section, then feel free to promote your books in the main group section.

Don't promote your books too often. Even if you stick to groups that allow advertising and only promote your books in the designated areas of the groups, promoting your books too often still looks like spam. Also try to get involved in the group discussions. This doesn't bother me much, but some people aren't very receptive to authors who join groups for the sole purpose of promoting their books.

If you are having a sale or a free giveaway for your books that only lasts a few days or less, please give advanced notice before the sale/free giveaway starts. Many people don't have time to check the book groups for new messages everyday and some rely on daily or weekly email digests to keep up with the group activity. So unless your intention is to only get your books out to a limited number of people, I'd recommend giving at least a week's notice before a limited time sale or giveaway.

Make your ebooks available in as many formats as possible. A number of times I've seen authors offering copies of their ebooks only in pdf format. I know there are plenty of people out there that like pdfs for whatever reason, but for many people, including myself, it's the last choice of ebook format we'd want. There are many reading devices that either can't open pdfs or are difficult and awkward to read pdfs on. If you make readers go out of their way to read your books, they will be less likely to want to read them at all. Epub and mobi are two of the most widely used ebook formats right now and it would be good to provide your ebooks in those formats at the very least and branch out into other formats if possible. While epub and mobi formats can easily be converted back and forth, it would be preferable to provide your ebooks in both formats for those that lack the knowledge to do conversions.

Don't use unsuspecting readers as beta readers. Take the time to revise and edit your work before publishing and/or giving away free copies for reviews. If you want someone to beta read your work, then find a specific writing group for that, but don't pass off your books as finished and then use reader reviews and feedback to go back and put out a second revised edition of your books. This is unethical regardless of whether someone actually paid for your books or received free copies. If you want to look for beta readers in discussion groups, then make sure you are clear about your intentions.

Don't get bent out of shape if someone gives you constructive criticism. If you lash out at someone it only makes you look bad and readers are less inclined to read books from authors that act like asses. Whether someone is giving constructive feedback on your book, the book's cover, or your marketing practices there are only three acceptable responses. You can thank the person for their feedback, you can calmly explain why you chose to do things the way you did, or you can choose not to respond at all. Picking one or both of the first two options will make you look like an open minded gracious author. Picking the third option might not give the best impression, but it's certainly better than lashing out in anger.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review of Last Human by Doug Naylor

Last Human by Doug Naylor is the third book based on the British science fiction comedy show Red Dwarf. The crew of Red Dwarf accidentally end up in an alternate dimension and they find an alternate copy of their transport ship Starbug with all the crew dead inside except for Lister. They set out on a quest to find what's become of the alternate Lister, but when they find him, he turns out to be a lot more different from Lister than they had imagined. I would say that overall this book wasn't quite as funny as the first two, but it still had parts that really made me laugh and it was full of exciting adventure, so was a pretty good read overall. I think it's definitely worth reading if you enjoyed the first two books.

This book picks up right where Better Than Life left off, so you should definitely read it and Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers before reading this book. There are bits and pieces from the show in this book, but the storyline itself is very different. It's not necessarily a bad thing though. It's pretty cool to read storylines that were never in the show. I'd just recommend not starting this book(or the others before it) until you finish watching the show to avoid confusion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review of Better Than Life by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor

Better Than Life by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor is the second book based on the British science fiction comedy show Red Dwarf. The crew of Red Dwarf's journey to return to Earth gets interrupted when they find themselves trapped inside of an addictive virtual reality game and they must find a way to escape before their real world bodies die. This proves to be no easy task though since they can't leave unless they want to, and even after reaching that state they face many additional obstacles preventing their escape. This book was pretty funny and I enjoyed reading it just as much as the first book. Like with the ending of the first book, it didn't exactly end on a cliffhanger, but it did make me want to read the third book right away.

This book picks up right where the first one left off, so you really do need to read Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers before reading this book. There are differences between the show and the books, so if you plan on watching the show as well, I'd recommend watching all of the seasons before starting on the books as going back and forth can get confusing.
"Don't trust Time. Time will always get you in the end."

~Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, Better Than Life

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor

Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor is a novel based on the British sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf. Dave Lister, a lowly technician on the mining spaceship Red Dwarf, gets put into stasis as a punishment for smuggling a cat on board. When he emerges from stasis he finds that a nuclear accident wiped out the rest of the crew and it is now three million years in the future. The only other survivors are a feline-humanoid life form that evolved from his cat, and his bunk mate who died but was revived as a hologram. Tensions are high as they do their best to survive and navigate the various obstacles they must face as they try to make their way back to earth.

This was a quick but fun read. The ending wasn't exactly a cliffhanger, but it did make me want to read the next book right away. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or anyone that just enjoys British humor. Though I did enjoy the book a lot, I thought the show was funnier. I think this is mostly due to the fact that sometimes humor translates better in an audio-visual format than the written word and for this reason I also found The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio plays to be funnier than the books. I don't think it's necessary to watch the show before you read the books, but it's more fun that way because it's easier to imagine the character's voices and what they look like. The book does give some background story to the show, but it's different in a lot of ways. Some events happen in a different order than they do in the show and many plot details are different. If you do decide to watch the show before reading the book, I'd recommend watching the entire series before starting the book. I started reading the book after I'd only watched most of the second season and then started going back and forth between the show and the book. I started to find this rather confusing due to the differences between the show and the book and it became harder to keep the storylines of each one straight in my mind. I'm hooked now though and I definitely couldn't wait to finish watching the entire series before starting the next book.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review of Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle

Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle is an episodic type book about events in the lives of the Austin family. The book starts off with them being informed of the death of a close family friend and then shortly afterward they take in a little girl who was orphaned due to the same accident that killed their friend. The child turns out to be a difficult spoiled brat and it takes the family a long time to adjust to her living with them. Each chapter tells of different random events in the lives of this family until the future of the orphan can be decided. For the most part I found this book to be rather dull and I was glad that it was a fairly short read so it didn't take me too long to get through it.  I probably would have rated this book as two stars, but there were some parts of the book that were really quite funny and made me laugh, so I gave it an extra star for that. I doubt I'll be reading it again though. I still plan to read the other books in this series because there are some character's that overlap with the author's Time Quintet series which I love, and I recall reading other books in this series as a child and enjoying them much more than I did this book. I probably wouldn't recommend this book unless you are a big fan of the author or a completionist as far as series go.

I also have some additional thoughts on this book. I found a lot of similarities between the family in this book and the family in the author's other book, A Wrinkle in Time. Both families have four children and multiple pets and they both live in similar types of houses. They both live in small towns and both live in the same part of the country. The main character in both books is the eldest daughter and both of them are rather plain looking and insecure about their appearance. I also noticed at least three character names that were used in both books, though there were some variations in two of the names. I'm not saying that all of this is a bad thing necessarily, but it did give me the impression that the author had some creative difficulties. I can overlook most of the similarities, but I found the name thing a bit annoying and feel it shouldn't have been too difficult for the author to come up with more original character names.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review of Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett is the story of a dimwitted novice priest of the god Om, named Brutha, with an eidetic memory who becomes a prophet rather against his will. Unfortunately when Brutha meets his god, Om happens to be trapped in the form of a tortoise and is almost powerless. It's up to Brutha to help Om figure out why this happened and to help restore his god to his former glory. In the process Brutha learns the truth about his religion and that much of what he had been taught was false.

This is a very funny religious satire. It made me grin a lot and at times even laugh aloud. I'd definitely recommend this book to Discworld fans as well as anyone who enjoys British humor, provided you aren't sensitive about the subject matter.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you."

~Terry Pratchett, Small Gods