Friday, April 7, 2017

Free eBooks from BookBub

Since last August (Aug 4th 2016) I have been a member of BookBub, which sends me a daily email notification of ebooks that are either on sale or free. The ebooks in question are for sale on Kindle and Kobo, and are usually by authors I have never heard of.

Roughly 66% of the time the notification is about books that are on sale, but the other 33% of the time they are free.

So far I have "purchased" 35 fantasy ebooks this way. All free.

So for people who love reading ebooks you just sign up, choose a category (or categories) you want to be notified about, and then check the daily notifications to see if there is any books you like the looks of. I chose the fantasy category, but I wonder maybe if I should have chosen mystery or science fiction instead. Or all three.

So for now I have lots of books to read.

Which sounds great. It means that at some point in the future I will be able to read those books and test out whether I like those authors - and then post reviews of the books on here.

Eventually.

Whenever I get around to it.

When I am not reading books made out of actual paper that I spent $$ on.

Unfortunately I have not got around to reading any of those 35 ebooks. Mostly because I still have not finished reading "In The Shadow of the Gods" by Rachel Dunne, a paperback book I paid money for.

I purchased "In The Shadow of the Gods" on August 20th while I was on my honeymoon, freshly married and wanting something to read while en route to Montreal and on the way back to Montreal.

When traveling however you tend not to get as much reading done as you might hope. Thus I read half of the book so far and have on rare moments picked up the book and read a few pages or tried to finish a chapter.

Part of the problem might be the characters in the book.

Only one of the characters I actually like, the individual shown on the cover of the book.

The rest of the characters I find annoying. Whiny. Some of them are just plain villains and you are supposed to hate them.

However reading a book that is half about villains comes with an inherent problem. You end up hating half the book. I understand that writers these days like to sometimes tell the story from the perspective of the villains - I have done it myself sometimes - doing it so that half of the book focuses on villains gets rather annoying.

Think of it this way.
  • 25% of the book is focused on heroes.
  • 25% of the book is focused on characters I find annoying and whiny.
  • 50% of the book is focused on villains you are meant to hate.
So after it is all said and done, you end up disliking 75% of the book.

However I have to read all of it because what if I miss something that is important? So I don't have much choice, and ultimately I end up procrastinating about finishing the book. Here it is April and I am still trying to finish a book I started last August.

It isn't like George R. R. Martin's books either, in which he does the same thing. Each chapter in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series focuses on a single character in his grand narrative. If you are smart you can deliberately skip various chapters and end up enjoying the book a lot more - and not miss any important plot changes if you know which chapters to skip.

eg. If you skip many of the chapters about the Iron Islands and Dorne, they really don't matter compared to the larger plots. Those chapters are not particularly entertaining either. They are basically unimportant background story of what is happening in other parts of Westeros.

I also routinely skipped any paragraph during which Martin yaddled on about clothes or food or architecture.

eg. Sansa chapters have a tendency to have regular paragraphs devoted entirely to Martin yaddling on about food, clothes or architecture. Basically filler that makes you realize Martin is getting paid per word.

For "In The Shadow of the Gods" however I cannot skip whole chapters willy nilly however. I have to read the whole d*** thing. And I want to finish reading the book because of the one character who redeems the book.

And maybe the annoying characters will finally grow up, stop being whiny, and do something heroic. Or maybe die. I am okay with either of those options.

I am also annoyed that Rachel Dunne / her publisher decided to not include a map of the world in her book. It says in the corner it is a "Bound Gods Novel". Usually that means it is part of a series of books. Possibly a trilogy. Maybe more, a whole fantasy setting.

And fantasy settings usually have a map (sometimes several) at the front of the book.

Take for example the book "Blood Song" by Anthony Ryan. It is book #1 of the Raven's Shadow book series.

Tower Lord is book #2, and so forth. So right away you know this is a fantasy setting that Ryan plans to use a fair bit.

On the right is the map from "Blood  Song". It is not a terribly complicated fantasy map. It is admittedly a tad plain. But it is a map. So at least it has one.

"Blood Song", since we are on the topic, only focuses on the main character. None of this annoying the reader business with whiny characters or the back stories for villains.

After reading Blood Song, I went out and I purchased the second book Tower Lord. I then gave both books to my mother to read - and I don't give my mother books unless I am confident they are both good and she will like it.

I am not sure what I will do with "In The Shadow of the Gods" when I am finally done reading it. It is doubtful that I will be recommending it to anyone, let alone my mother. It is also unlikely that I will be purchasing any more books by Rachel Dunne.

...

Which brings me back to the topic of BookBub.

Maybe there is something to be said about getting free ebooks written by unknown authors. Both Rachel Dunne and Anthony Ryan were unknown authors when I first purchased their books. Paid money for them too. Mostly for the convenience of having a physical paper book to read.

But buying books by unknown authors is tricky. It is hit and miss whether the author is any good and whether I will like them.

Blood Song is a fantastic book. Very well written. It was addictive to read. Kudos to Anthony Ryan.

In the Shadow of the Gods has thus far has been disappointing and has only one redeeming character. Rachel Dunne should be admonished for bogging the story down with so many annoying characters that readers end up procrastinating about reading it.

In the future I will not be wasting money on unknown authors this way. I will take my chances with BookBub instead, read the ebook first and then once I know whether the author is any good I can go buy a physical paperbook copy.

This way I get the best of both worlds. Free ebooks to try out new authors. Physical paperback books of the authors I really like.

Makes sense, yes?

Yes, yes it does.

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