Tag Archives: novels

My atheist comedy has been offered a review by a Catholic blogger…is this good?

So, every now and then in the life of a self-published, independent author like myself something interesting happens. It could be getting your first great review, as recently happened to a friend of mine and fellow indie author Rachel Shaw (she’s the writer of a fantasy novel called ‘The Raveller’s Guild’, http://tinyurl.com/kqxnrhu), or it could be going on a podcast and talking to people about your book or maybe starting up your own blog up and finding things to talk about that you hope your audience will enjoy. For me recently it was being offered a review, something that seems to be increasingly difficult to get due to the ever increasing number of indy authors out there, and the not-that-large pool of available reviewers but the interesting part was who the offer came from: a former atheist, now Catholic blogger.

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I should explain. ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ and the sequel ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again!’ are satire novels where religious icons travel to Earth to convince us to stop destroying our world. In the first book the only person who is able to help God is an atheist and in the sequel, Jesus treads God’s well worth path making somewhat of a fool of himself along the way. Now, these clearly make fun of the various religions and of the iconography of Christianity, and I have a lot of fun lampooning what God is, who my version of Jesus is, the role of the Heavenly Bureaucracy and The Committee, a group of angels who are now in control and so on and so forth and you can find an example of the sort of humour that this book contains below.

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But these books are definitely not aimed at a religious audience. Despite that I have always wondered what someone of that persuasion would make of them and so, naturally, lots of questions start swirling around my brain. Do they really want to review my book, a satirical poke in the eye for religion, and if they do how come? I mean, it’s light-hearted fun and I certainly haven’t set out to offend anyone but I’m still left with the question of why would they want to do this? Well, they say that all publicity is good publicity but I was still confronted with the choice of whether I should I do this, do I send a review copy to someone who may, in all likelihood, give me a very bad review indeed. They could always just buy the book but in the end I did send them a free copy.

 

Either way, it draws attention, right, even if the opinion given is not a good one. And if the review is very poor indeed I shall still tweet excerpts from it in the same way that I do with the good reviews that I have received (like the one below). I will simply ensure that the tweet contains the words ‘Catholic blogger’ and then my atheist followers will know that the review may be somewhat biased. If he says that the book is a piece of atheist trash, that’d work for them, right? At least I hope it will. Still, I can’t help wondering whether I have made a mistake in engaging with this person.

 

Now all I can do is wait and see what they make of it and what it is that they say in their review. And wonder, as we indie authors endlessly do, if this is one of the things that helps to pull in the publicity that launches the book to a bigger audience. Here’s hoping, even if takes the outrage of the religious to help move things along. Cheers!

 

‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ now has TWELVE reader reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers including Amazon UK here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z. The sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Finally, follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My review of Alastair Reynolds excellent sci-fi novel ‘Revenger’…

I have been a fan of Alastair Reynolds for a really long time and I would say that he is a strong influence on my science-fiction writing. I first picked up a copy of ‘Revelation Space’, which I absolutely loved, in a charity shop when I was a student at university, tore my way through it, and since then I have eagerly awaited each of his new books. I have my favourites (I’ve always really liked The Prefect) and I felt that one or two haven’t quite maintained the high standard of his best work but I still eagerly await each new release and dread the period immediately after I devour the latest for I know the wait for the next will be long indeed. And I am glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed  his latest, ‘Revenger’.

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Revenger is, in the simplest possible terms, pirates in space. Think Firefly meets Ocean’s Eleven and you’re in the right ball park. These characters live on ships that travel through space using massive sails that allow the vessels to be pushed along by sunlight and visit the worlds where they seek their treasure. In my mind the ships resembled the lightship that Ben and Jake Sisko build in the ‘Explorers’ episode of Deep Space Nine. The crew then attempt to break into these worlds that contain vast, unseen treasures from an age gone by and each member has a different skill set and speciality including someone who can read the ‘augries’ (I hope I spelled that right) which is knowing when a ‘bauble’ will pop open, a crew member who can assess the worth of the treasure and a few others. But the most important is the ‘Bone Reader’ and that’s our protagonist, Fura Ness, someone who literally ‘reads’ a giant skull that she plugs into. All of this works to build the work that Reynolds is creating as does the language of the novel where a man is a ‘cove’ and money is ‘quoins’ all contributes to the world building that Reynolds is undertaking.

Now, I don’t want to say any more about the actual plot, for I would rather you go away and read the book for yourself, but it is safe to say that the title is a good one for this is a story about revenge, legacy and how the choices that the characters take shape the course of their lives. One of the aspects that I like most about this particular tale is how quickly it moves along, not lingering to settle the character’s into their lives, but quickly upending them and forcing them to deal with the events that occur. Oh and, at times, it’s brutal with a particularly gruelling segment about a third of the way through that I did not see coming at all! But this brutality seems fitting, given the life that they lead, and it forces our protagonist to take control of her life and her story and chose the path that she will take. For that is what a good protagonist should do in the opinion of this reviewer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Revenger and would recommend it to any and all fans of quality science-fiction writing. The book also ends well, closing out this origin story, and providing ample room for a sequel should Reynolds choose to write one. I really hope that he does for I would like to see the next adventure of Fura Ness and her sister. He also leaves a nice, juicy mystery hanging (and his reveals are usually very good!) and I hope we get to find out the secrets of this Universe and visit it again. And thus begins the long wait for the next Reynolds story sometime in the not-too distance future. Until then!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reader reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! 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!

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My review of Terry Pratchett’s ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’…

This time I’m reviewing Terry Pratchett’s ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’, his book of collected non-fiction. I have been a fan of Mr. Pratchett’s for as long as I can remember, I read his and Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ in my teens and every Discworld novel since then, along with most of the rest of Pratchett’s output. But before reading this book I hadn’t read much of his non-fiction output and so this collection was a joy to find and devour. I also think that it is fair to say that Pratchett, along with Gaiman, is a huge influence on my work and writings (who isn’t influenced by this pair, though) and reader reviews have even made that comparison more directly than I would ever dare (review here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z), which is lovely! Anyway, onto my review.

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So, ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’ includes all manner of articles Pratchett wrote from the 1970’s to almost current day where he talks about things ranging from what his life as a writer was really like both at home and on the road, to his thoughts on paying taxes or on education, to how much his life changed since he announced that he was suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s. The articles range from the absolutely hilarious to the heartbreakingly poignant and I don’t remember the last time I read or saw anything that made me laugh as much as this book. And it’s non-fiction! But Pratchett knows how to set up and deliver a joke and the speech’s that he gave must surely have been absolute barnstormers. I had to continuously pause when I was reading the book so that I could stop myself from laughing too loudly on the train to work. I think I might even be scaring the other passengers a little! Oh, well.

Pratchett also covered matters that he clearly felt strongly about including the need for regulated assisted suicide in the UK (or assisted death as Pratchett prefers to call it) so as to reduce the suffering of people with terminal illnesses to how poorly funded Alzheimer’s research is compared to things like cancer research. These articles obviously have a different feel that the openly comic ones that the book starts with but they are nevertheless a joy to read.  As with Gaiman’s ‘View from the Cheap Seats’ (review here: http://tinyurl.com/zklvpvp), there’s a strong sense when reading this book of the author talking directly to the reader and that is just wonderful! As a young, self-published author with no agent, publishing house or support network, I am yet to go on a book tour or do a signing but I’m hoping to get to that point someday and Pratchett’s words on what it is like and how to cope with the stresses of said life are invaluable. These articles are also incredibly entertaining too which always helps!

As a fan of his work, I’ve read the vast majority of Pratchett’s output (I still have to read ‘Nation’, his best book according to the author, so I shall definitely have to hunt that out) and this is one of the one’s that I have enjoyed the most. I expected to enjoy it, but not nearly as much as a I did. ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’ is a joy to read from start to finish, through the early articles and letters onto his life as an author to his fight against Alzheimer’s and how much his life changed when he announced he was suffering from the disease. I highly recommend this book to any and all writers out there as well as to fans of his work who simply want more of his writings to read, even if what we all really want is more Discworld novels.  Pratchett has left an incredible legacy and this is one part of said legacy that deserves to be read and enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible. So go out and read it people!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! 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!

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My review of Paul Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism’…

Recently I’ve read and reviewed a short list of non-fiction, mostly politics books from Laurie Penny’s ‘Unspeakable Things’ (http://tinyurl.com/jl5trzc) to Owen Jones’ ‘The Establishment’ (http://tinyurl.com/jo8sekz) and George Monbiot’s ‘Captive State’ (http://tinyurl.com/zevxd7g) as well as a few others. This week I’m reviewing Paul Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism’, a book that is a little different than my other recent reads in that it not only explains how Capitalism got to the point where the author thinks that it will soon collapse, but he also details what might be to come and it is a fascinating read. Onwards to my review!

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In clear and accessible language, Mason talks us through the history of Capitalism and how this economic model, especially the current form of Neo-Liberalism, has driven our world economy to the brink of its own destruction. He explains that this system must inevitably end and that something else take its place. Mason challenges the assumption that Capitalism will always be our economic model, starting from the point that it has not always been so, and moving onward to the changes that are to come. The Postcapitalism model, as seen by Mason, is driven by the rise of information technology, the fall of Labour as the driving force behind value in the production of goods and the desire of information to be free. The internet and the ever increasing connectivity of the next generation is a key part of this coming change and something that, now in place, will be extremely hard to undo. Impossible, I would say.

As someone who has an interest in politics and in the future, I found this a fascinating read and I feel that I can already see much of what Mason addresses becoming reality. Reading this book during the upcoming EU referendum also makes for a fascinating experience. Mason makes the claim that the end of Capitalism and Neo-Liberalism will likely be caused by an outside shock of exactly the sort that the UK leaving the EU might cause. Although that scenario currently seems unlikely, should the UK remain in the EU there is still the possibility that other countries, like Greece , Italy, Spain, may decide that they would prefer not to accept the conditions of remaining and their leaving may be the shock that hastens the end of our current economic model and the move forwards to postcapitalism.

One of the aspects of this coming revolution that fascinates me is that this ongoing change is being driven not by my generation but by the next. I already have an interest in how those younger than me engage with and consume media and, having talked with my younger sister and her friends, it seems that there is a clear difference. I am still stuck buying and owning DVDS, and watching television, though the means by which I access these shows is via the internet. But my sister and her friends don’t own or watch their TV except to have games consoles and internet connections attached to them and all media is consumed through this medium and via streaming services like Netflix. As a result the model for this particular part of their lives has shifted and I only see this change becoming more dramatic. It also changes how her generation access their news, bypassing conventional sources, and pushing them towards different agencies and I find this to be a very interesting thing indeed!

Postcapitalism is a superb book that is accessible and well written and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t recommend it highly enough and if you have any interest in the future, in the end of Capitalism and Neo-liberalism, and in what might replace it in the years to come, then you should read it. I’m glad that I did! Up next time I hope to review either be ‘The Hollowing of Democracy’ or Johann Hari’s ‘Chasing the Scream’. I just have to find the time to actually read them both! Cheers!

 

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save 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!

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Thank you to my followers, retweeters, and most importantly my readers and reviewers!

So, having recently published several entries to my blog where I review either for a non-fiction book or the recent Star Wars movie, I think it’s time for something a little different. This entry is talking about some familiar themes: being an Indie author, the relationship that I have with my followers and readers, but more than anything it is a big thank you! Thank you to those who follow me, to those who retweet me, and especially a HUGE thank you to those who’ve chosen to buy and read my book! And if you’ve written me a review, then you get an even bigger THANK YOU! As an indie author the only means that I currently have to persuade people to read my book is through social media so if you’ve read and reviewed my novel you have my gratitude. I also think it’s time for a little reflection on the past few months…

Right, so, my book was self-published at the beginning of July 2015 and since then I have amassed a following of around 1300 people, most of whom I also follow. I am aware that I could’ve pursued this more quickly and aggressively, as I see other indie authors doing, by following many more accounts but to do so would be somewhat missing the point. I’ve tried to engage with as many of you as I can, though I have doubtlessly not done so with everyone, and I have enjoyed the majority of these interactions. In 7 months I’ve only had to block one account and have in turn been blocked by a small number, some of whom have turned out to be rather unpleasant characters, but at least one of which was down to my own stupidity. And being blocked by fellow atheists is quite a strange thing! There are lessons to be learned in the art of using social media to promote your novel and I feel I have learned them well!

I’ve also talked before about the relationship between Indie authors and their readers, yet every time I have a conversation with one of my followers who is reading my novel and they tell me how much they are enjoying it, I am again struck by how utterly unique this relationship is. Recently one of my followers tweeted me to tell me that they had bought my book and for someone like me that is always a good day indeed! Then, a short while later they again messaged me to inform me that, although they were very busy working, they were trying to find the time to read it when they could. They told me that they were “enjoying it immensely” and that they thought I “really out did myself”. This has happened a couple of times now but the days when I receive a message like this are truly wonderful. I am also eagerly awaiting the message that informs me they have finished the book and what they thought of it…

So, every time this happens, every time someone messages me to say that they have enjoyed my novel I get the feeling that this entire endeavour is worthwhile. I experience a small sense of satisfaction, and I know that, regardless of the number of books I have sold so far, I am glad that I am doing this. Then it happened again with one of my followers messaging me, someone who had previously told me that they thought my blog was “excellent”, to say that they had bought my book. Each time this occurs I am a little bit astonished and incredibly grateful. I am starting to get the feeling that I am getting somewhere, that this process is getting a little easier and that the next sale will be easier than the last. Yet I am not quite sure what has changed or why I feel like this and I shall have to have a think about it! Hopefully this feeling will continue and my sales will also do so!

Finally, I’ll end where I began with a thank you! Thank you to all of you who have followed me and seen my adverts for my book and then retweeted to help me reach a wider audience. To those of you who have taken the chance and actually either bought my book or grabbed it when it has been offered for free get double thanks! I know that doing so is taking a risk on an unknown author and I am immensely grateful to those who have done so! And even more gratitude to those who’ve finished the novel and then messaged me to tell me how much you’ve enjoyed it, and left me such lovely reviews on Amazon and Smashwords (you can find them here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z and http://tinyurl.com/pu46r2b). Your comments keep me going and I know that I owe you guys. You know who you are and you have my gratitude! Indie authors cannot be successful without the support of their fans and so I offer you one final THANK YOU! Now, onwards…

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save 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, self-publishing! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings: my thoughts and a (brief) review of the Shepherds’ Crown.

For my next blog post I’m going to try something new- I’m going to review a book. I think I’ll be doing this more frequently in the coming months, and I plan on reviewing several works by other self-published authors, but I’m going to start with the last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. Now, I’m sure no introduction is needed for Terry Pratchett, the author of this remarkable series, except to say that I am a fan and that you should be too. And if you’re not then you need to go out and read his incredible back catalogue. It is seriously brilliant.

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As I’m also sure most people are aware, Mr. Pratchett died back in March after suffering from Alzheimers disease for many years. And I, like many people out there, was very moved by the news of his death. I learned about his passing through the medium of Twitter, having joined a short time before, and this was a novel experience for me. I saw reactions from many people whom I follow and respect as the news filtered around the network and I was genuinely moved, as were many, by this unfortunate news. I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears that day and, for the first time, I understood a little about what Twitter can do to help spread information and to create a shared experience.

Now, for anyone who’s read my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ or seen any of the excerpts that I post on Twitter, it is not hard to tell that I’m a big fan of Mr. Pratchett’s. I’ve been reading the Discworld novels for a very long time and, like many of his fans, I have read each and every one. The series is not without its ups and downs and some of the novels are, in my opinion, not that good (I’m looking at you, Monstrous Regiment!). But they are the exceptions and not the rule and the quality of the series in its entirety is very impressive. So, without any further ado, here is my (brief) review.

In short, I loved this novel, which I guess is unsurprising. It begins with a dramatic event which I am now going to describe so if you don’t want to know what it is then I suggest you stop reading. Seriously, I’m going to talk about it so don’t keep reading! So, the book begins with the death of Granny Weatherwax, one of the longest standing Discworld characters. Now, I knew this was going to happen because I had it spoiled for me by another review, but it happens so early in the book that it is not really a spoiler to say that it occurs. Her death is told with remarkable grace and care and I was very moved by its handling and by the reactions to her passing from the other characters. It is beautifully written with brilliant character work that is absolutely heartbreaking but then I would have expected nothing less.

Now, I do not wish to spoil the rest of the book so I’m not going to explain much more about the story, merely tease it. What I will say is that we follow Tiffany Aching as she becomes the ‘head witch’, not that witches have leaders as such, and then as she deals with the ups and downs of trying to do far too much. And the glorious Nac Mac Feegles are there causing mayhem as usual. Then Tiffany tangles with the dark elves that featured in her previous books and that is as much as I will say. As expected the book is filled with the typical Pratchett wit and humanity and I enjoyed the story and the themes that it explores including responsibility and how you deal with your enemies. Also unsurprisingly, I thoroughly recommend that you read it. I also can’t help but speculate as to whether Mr. Pratchett was preparing his readers for his impending death with the death of Granny Weatherwax. I don’t know when this book was finished but it was reported that there were other books in preparation when he died so maybe I am wrong. The way the death is handled makes me wonder, and I might be reading too much into it, but that is what occurred to me as I read it.

Now, it was known for some time that Mr. Pratchett was unwell and that this series would not continue forever but it was still heartbreaking to finish the final Discworld novel and to read the words ‘The End’ one last time. And unless someone else is given permission to continue his legacy I suspect that this book really is the last one. Besides his daughter, or maybe Neil Gaiman, I have no idea who else would dare to touch this incredible series and the uproar from fans should it fail to meet expectations, as it surely would, would be considerable. It is likely best left as it is, an incredible series and a remarkable legacy of one of our finest writers. And now I have only one more thing to say: Mr. Pratchett, you will be missed.

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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