Tyson Adams’ 2011 Book Awards: The Awesomes

I’ve read a few books this year (+140) and have decided that I needed to talk about my favourites of 2011.  I also thought it fair to award my favourite reads of the year an Awesome.

As you will have noticed, my reviews of books are more about my impressions of the book and talking about how much I liked the book, rather than a recap of the plot, etc. My reasoning behind this is simple, I want to say “read this book” to people rather than fall into my bad habit of spoiling the ending.

My list is based upon what I have read this year, so obviously some great books (Snuff) have missed out due to lack of reading hours in the year. Also my read list does include some books that were published prior to 2011. There were some categories that were sadly under-represented and some that had some very intense competition.

Also, the fact that I finished a book shows that it was worth reading. I have my reading rules that stop me wasting valuable reading time on books I’m not enjoying. This means that any books on my read list are entertaining (well, unless I was particularly disgusted with the crappiness of the book in question).

Awesome of 2011

10 hours of non-stop reading fun, 12 if you count meal and toilet breaks. I could not put this book down, it had me enthralled with Reilly’s fast paced thrills and explosions. This books defines The Awesomes.
Also, I would like to extend my condolences to Matthew and his friends and family on the loss of his wife Natalie.

Awesome Literary Fiction
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Mystery & Thriller
This is one of two heavily over-represented categories in this year’s Awesomes. 
Awesome Crime

Blood Work – Michael Connelly
13 Hours – Deon Meyer (technically I started it in 2011, but only finished it this year)

Awesome Fantasy
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Paranormal Fantasy
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Science Fiction

Peace Army – Steven L Hawk

Awesome Horror

Dead Man Series – Lee Goldberg, Will Rabkin, et al.

Awesome Romance
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Humor
Right What You No – Tyson Adams’ blog
I’m allowed to be self-congratulatory. Plus I didn’t read any funny books this year.
Awesome Nonfiction
This is an oxymoron, so it is invalidated as a category. Having said that I did read several nonfiction books this year, mostly on climate change. I should make mention of On Writing by Steven King, which really had me agreeing with Steven’s insights.
Awesome Graphic Novels & Comics

The Boys – Garth Ennis

This is the second over-represented category on my list. 

Awesome Indie

Awesome Poetry
Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Warning about e-books

I made a startling discovery earlier today that I think everyone needs to be aware of: e-books and dead trees can interbreed!

This isn’t just alarmist rhetoric, this is a real concern.

Despite many pundits claiming that e-books are not real books, this is photographic proof that e-books are becoming real books.

Being a Beta Reader – Peace Army by Steven L Hawk

What I love about the digital age we now live in is that it has suddenly made communities possible again. All those little sullen teenagers who make statements like “life is pain” can now find other people to bother. For readers and writers it means that, like a readers festival, we can gather in corners of the internet and proudly proclaim “I can read and I actually enjoy it!”

This means that now authors can speak to a writer’s group from the comfort of their own couch. Or they can speak to fans directly without having to wait for a book tour or festival. Writer’s can now grab some readers and ask them “Is it good enough?” and they can tell them “Yay!” or “Ow, my brain!”

I have previously mentioned how I stumbled across Steven’s first book here. Well, when I congratulated him on his first book in an email, he suckered me into being a Beta Reader. By suckered I mean he offered me a free copy; by Beta Reader I mean I got to read it before anyone else!

Now normally a traditionally published author would have a team of publishing house people take a large cut of their book sales in order to tell them to rewrite it so that it is a teenage vampire romance novel – because they are hot right now. But in the world of the indie author, or is that the e-book author, no one can afford to end up co-writing with James Paterson. They have to find ways to turn out a quality product with as few costs as possible. Of course some authors aren’t concerned with things like spelling or grammar, and just release a book. True professionals, like Steven, wouldn’t dream of releasing anything but a professional quality book.

Enter the community.

Once again we find ourselves in touch with our peers. Instead of it being because we all live within a day’s horse ride of one another, now it is because the internet has connected us. Authors can help other authors. Fans can be friends with their favourite authors. Sure, you still get the annoying argumentative people who think ignorance is an opinion, but that is why the internet invented pwnage.

Now my experience in being a Beta Reader has been very positive. By the time I had a copy in my Tablet PC it was clear that Steven had done a lot of work on the novel – Peace Army. I actually spotted less typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in his entire novel than in the middle section of the final Harry Potter novel (you know, the part were Harry, Ron and Hermione are wondering around camping for ages and you wonder when something will actually happen, but nothing does). Since Steve was still sending this book to an editor, myself and the other Betas were tasked with trying to spot plot holes, non-sequiturs, and frivolous inclusions of zombies. I really have to commend Steven on a novel that could have been something I was paying for, not reviewing.

This revival of an ancient (pre-2000 AD) practice is not without its problems. Without going into too much depth, I am actually a professional editor and have a few science degrees – some of them are from real universities! So not only have I been asked to rewrite entire articles that consist of the 7 words you can’t say on television, but I’ve made it coherent. So it is likely that I can contribute something of value as a Beta or editor. As a result I think that authors need to still be reliant on doing a good job themselves, finding Beta’s who can give positive criticism of value, and not be in too much of a rush to publish.

Of course I should offer up a few comments on Steven’s book. Peace Army is an interesting follow-up to the novel Peace Warrior. Once again Steven has hearkened back to the science fiction novels of old, while having an interesting take on a future Earth. The last third of the novel flew past and I had to remind myself to make notes as the book came to its finale. Even if Steven released this book right now without further changes and editing I’d not only be buying a copy myself but would recommend it for anyone who loves sci-fi. Keep an eye out for its release.

All just a little bit of history repeating: