Update: atheist podcast appearances and my 5 star review!

For my 25th blog post (has it really been 25 already?) I thought I should turn my attention away from comics, book reviews and other matters and focus on the actual reason that I began this blog: my life as an independent author, and that I should post an update on recent happenings. So, two significant things that can occur in the career of a writer like myself occurred in the past few weeks. The first was that I made several appearances on atheist podcasts to talk about, among other things, my novel. The second  was that I got my first FIVE star review from a reader! Both of these events seem like significant milestones in the career of a self-published, independent author like myself and I’m going to talk a little about each. First, the podcasts!

In the past few weeks I’ve been on three atheist podcasts: Atheist Human’s show, the Ehtheist podcast and Cellar Door Skeptics. I’ve had a blast doing them and you can find the links to each show below. During our conversations we talked about religion, atheism, politics and of course about my novel, and all of the hosts of these shows have been remarkably generous in the amount of time they’ve allocated me to ramble about ‘Only an atheist’. Everyone involved has my thanks and I very much look forward to talking to you all again soon! Thanks guys!

Having appeared on these shows I am also struck by what they are and what they can be. They are outside of conventional media and a way of directly reaching an (admittedly small, but steadily growing) audience of listeners and conveying your message without the bias of the conventional media. OK, so most of the information discussed in these podcasts has been informed by interactions with said media but I am still impressed by the discussions that I have been a part of and how well informed my hosts have been. I have already arranged several more podcast appearances that will hopefully be lined up in the near future and I very much look forward to them. The one downside to this is that most of these shows record in the middle of the night for us here in the UK, but a few hours sleep is a small sacrifice for something so enjoyable.

The second thing that happened in the past few weeks that has truly stunned me is something that every indie author hopes will happen to them: I got a five star review from someone who read and obviously enjoyed my novel! Here it is:

Justin's review 2

Now, clearly I hoped that I would one day get a review like this and each previous review posted for my novel gave it four stars (except for the one person who didn’t like it and gave it three). But I have to say that this felt like a significant moment and I have, unsurprisingly, been enjoying telling people and retweeting this review out as often as I can. I am incredibly grateful to the person who wrote the review (they know who they are ;)) and I am sure that my first five star review will eventually be balanced out with a very negative review (probably from someone with religious tendencies). Little puts the bounce in the step of an indie author, however, than something like this! It was a very special moment and one that I treasure.

So, onwards…There will be more podcast appearances in the coming weeks as well as (hopefully) more positive reviews as there is now a significant number of people who have told me that they have bought my book and are reading it. I hope you guys enjoy my appearances on these shows now and in the future and I can’t wait to hear from all of you who’ve read the novel and reviewed it. Cheers!

 

Atheist Human podcast appearance: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/atheisthuman/2016/03/22/all-atheists-have-a-voice-1

Ehtheist podcast appearance: https://www.spreaker.com/user/ehtheist/live-with-matthew-james

Cellar Door Skeptics appearance: to be released.

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help Godsave the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

OnlyanAtheistFinal

 

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My ‘rambling’ review of ‘Blunders of our Government’…

So, recently I’ve been on a spree of reading and reviewing non-fiction books, often on politics (you can find reviews of ‘Unspeakable Things’, ‘The Establishment’, ‘Captive State’ and ‘Rise of the Political Class’ elsewhere on this blog) and continuing in that vein, this week I am reviewing ‘The Blunders of our Government’ by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. This book is a quite astonishing roundup and exploration of the biggest mistakes that British governments of the past few decades have made including fuck-ups under Thatcher’s, Major’s, Blair’s, Brown’s and even during Cameron’s time, though this book would benefit from an updated version and Cameron’s government is given very little space. This book is written from a non-partisan perspective and, while assigning blame to individuals and the system itself, it steers clear (wisely) of blaming more either the left or right and I think this is a very smart move. Onwards to the review!

Blunders

The book covers many blunders, too many to talk about here, but it starts with probably the biggest screw-up of any UK government: the Poll tax scandal. Clearly this is the big one, the blunder that ended Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister and turned, not only her party against her, but most of the country. The authors then proceed to talk about mis-sold pensions that cost many of our citizens considerable sums of money, our exit from the ERM in the 90’s and ‘Black Wednesday’, the mess that was the Millennium Dome, the tax credit debacle that was instigated by Brown and still continues to this day, the billions spent on non-functional IT systems for the NHS, and many, many more, the combined cost of which is too much to even contemplate. Actually, there are a stunning number of other such mistakes including the London Underground Private-Public Partnership blunder that really should be better understood by the general public yet somehow seem to have remained poorly understood by the public-at-large.

In each and every case, the architects of the mistakes are identified and the blunder discussed at length and it is fascinating to read of the germination and eventual implementation of things that quite clearly were not going to succeed. One of the really interesting aspects of this book is how it explains that our system of government seems to encourage, or at least not discourage, blunders by not having enough checks and balances that would put across an opposing viewpoint. Or would, at the very least, challenge policies that are so clearly set up to fail. The Poll tax works as an example of this, with few Ministers willing to argue against something that so clearly not going to work. Yet none of the parties seem keen to change the system and avoid these catastrophic mistakes. Yet again, short-term self-interest maintains the ridiculously expensive status-quo! And every incredibly expensive mistake, and there are a great many of them, falls to the people to pay for.

One of the truly staggering aspects of all of these blunders, is the size and scale of the screw-ups and the astonishing amount of money that was lost in each and every case. The combined total of only the mistakes listed is an incredible amount of money and there’s little doubt that further blunders, like Osborne’s austerity agenda and Iain Duncan Smith’s failed Universal Credit scheme, will have added to this amount. I don’t even want to contemplate the grand total as to do so would be truly depressing!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s entertaining, while also being informative and shocking and it clearly points to changes that could be made to improve the UK system of government. But I don’t expect anything that to happen, and neither, I think, do the authors of this work. Almost everyone responsible for these mistakes was not punished in any meaningful way. Of course Thatcher took the fall for the Poll tax, but most of the architects of these screw-ups departed before their policies were implemented and many were even promoted! How bloody ridiculous yet until this changes, expect more blunders and more money to be wasted.

If you like non-fiction books and you have any interest in politics (and don’t mind a depressing read!), I would say it is worth your time to hunt out this tome and read it. Add it to the list of excellent non-fiction, politics books that I’ve recently read and reviewed and enjoyed. Cheers!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help Godsave the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

OnlyanAtheistFinal