Sci-fi Subgenres Explained (with example books!)

Sci-fi Subgenres Explained (with example books!)

I gotta admit getting into any sort of genre fiction can be intimidating. I don’t handle “not understanding things” well. So when I started getting into science fiction, I was more than a little lost and more than a lot frustrated. 

So, being the dork I am, rather than just picking up a book I like the look of and diving in, I turned to research. The first and last refuge of people who are afraid of making mistakes, but that’s probably a whole other blog post. 

Anyway, I started looking into the various sub-genres of sci-fi to try to figure out exactly what I wanted to start reading. Since it’s just sitting there, I figured I may as well share it with the world. Here we are…bookspry’s mini sci-fi subgenres explainer (with example books you pick up and start reading right now!)!

Time Travel

This typically involves a character or group of characters, you guessed it, traveling through time. Usually this is to change events in the past or prevent a catastrophe in the future. You know, the usual. 

Like basically all time travel stories, there is often a focus on the consequences of messing with time and the challenges of navigating different time periods. 

For this one, I’m picking a book that I actually have wanted to read for a long time but just haven’t gotten around to, Replay by Ken Grimwood. It comes highly recommended though, so you can trust me.

Get it here

UK users can go here

Military Science Fiction

Probably one of the more popular genres and probably also the easiest to digest (until you get that one author who can’t seem to describe space or angles or forgets where everyone is supposed to be at any given time and leaves you feeling like an idiot…but maybe that’s another blog post). 

This subgenre typically involves a futuristic military conflict in which advanced technology plays a significant role. Strategy, tactics, and military technology, are all featured prominently, as you’d expect, but the human element of war . 

Because of that last point, for this category I’m going to use “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein.

You love the movie, now read the book! Then, everytime the movie comes up in conversation you can say “yeah, but have you read the book?” and be that guy.

Get it here

UK users can go here


I’m including this one because, if there’s one genre of science fiction that you’ll struggle to explain to your dad, it’s this one.

Characterized by a dystopian, high-tech future in which humanity (and often humans) has been transformed by advanced technology. You’ll get a focus on “hacking”, mega corporate control, and the merging of human and machine. Usually incredibly depressing (at least to me). 

“Neuromancer” by William Gibson is pretty much a must read if you want to get into this.

Get it here. 

UK users can go here

Stay tuned for part two!

How to Start a Book Club that People will Actually want to Join

How to Start a Book Club that People will Actually want to Join

“Rules are important, but no matter what the rules say (or what you read on other blogs) book clubs are about reading and having fun.

You want to start a book club?! Amazing!

I’ve been in quite a few book clubs in my day and am currently organising two different groups (one with my close friends, and one with a group of co-workers) and have learned a few things about how to start up a book club and how to make sure your reading group is successful early on (as well as what NOT to do when starting a book club).

What to expect?

In this article we’ll talk about how to start a book club that people will actually enjoy, including the things you need to keep in mind when starting any kind of reading group or book club, as well as some of the common pitfalls to avoid when organising.

How do you start a book club and how do you make sure your book club is successful?

First things first, while the rules and ideas below will give your book club a good chance at succeeding, no matter what the rules say (or what you read on other blogs) book clubs are foremost about reading and having fun. It’s about what the members want to do and what they enjoy. Don’t take it too seriously. 

Now, that being said, on to the tips!

Pick the friends

This is everything. You can’t have a book club by yourself. Well…you can, but people look at you funny when you get in arguments with yourself at the local library. 

The key here is to start with a core of people that are as reliable as possible. For the first couple of months it’s all about getting into a rhythm. People are busy, life gets in the way and everyone loves leaving things (like reading your book) to the last minute. You need at least one person who is going to read the book and show up to the meeting with you. Try to keep the group smallish at first (think 5-6 people MAX) and make sure there are a couple of people in there who you can trust to show up on book club day!

Pick the books

Now you’ve got your crew, you need something to read. For the first month, I suggest picking a book for the group yourself and just telling people that, that’s what you’ll be reading. If you can get everyone together to pick a book together, fine (or you can handle it through an email thread), but that often leads to delaying the first meeting. Pick your own book to start. People will follow. 

In subsequent meetings, I like to ask people to bring one book recommendation each and then we discuss each book at the end of the meeting and vote (if you do this, remember to leave time for it!). As the organiser, make sure you bring a couple of options yourself just in case some of the other members forget. Like I said, getting your book club going is all about rhythm. You don’t want to have to miss a week while people discuss what book they want.

Pick the location

Where’s the best place to host a book club? There are a lot of potential answers: cafes, libraries, your house, but we all know the real answer.  The bar.  Ideally a place where you can spend some time, is quiet enough that you can hear each other, but also noisy enough to drown out and arguments you might be having about the meaning of the Scrabble game in the Handmaid’s Tale. Bonus points for having your event on an off-night when the drinks are cheaper!

Pick the time

Book ahead. Some people will always bail at the last minute, but you want to give them enough notice so that they don’t have a good excuse. 

If some people can’t make it, it’s up to you if you want to reschedule or not, but be aware, if you reschedule every time one person can’t make it, you’ll never have your book club. Set the date far enough in the future that people don’t have an excuse, then have your event, rain or shine.

Pick the next book

As mentioned before. I’m a big fan of democracy (when it comes to picking new books for my book club). This means fewer complaints (usually) and lets people get a bit more engaged with the new book and maybe get a bit of background before they start reading it.

So set the rules for how the next book will be picked ahead of the meeting and make sure everyone knows what the rules are. I like to “force” people to bring at least one book recommendation and then vote, but I always have a couple of extra book ideas in my back pocket in case people don’t bring anything.

Note: I recommend leaning towards shorter books at first. For the same reasons I keep mentioning, you want to give you book club every chance at success. Shorter books let people make sure they have time to read it and let you get off on the right foot. Build on the momentum of two or three successful meetings and work up to longer books.


There! Now you know how to organize and host a book club! Next in the series, I’ll give you some tips on how to guide conversation during the actual meeting, in case it stalls out (hint: it will).

Remember, at the end of the day, book clubs are pretty low risk. Worst case scenario you read a book. That’s what we call a win-win.

Until next time! 

If you have any questions about this article or want to chat about it, send us an email at

Looking for some inspiration?!

The bookspry team wrote a book of writing prompts and it’s available now! Weird and wacky prompts to bust you out of that rut…or to distract you from your real work.

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© 2021 bookspry. All rights reserved.

What is Kindle Unlimited?

What is Kindle Unlimited?

If you buy books on Amazon, you’ve probably come across ads for Kindle Unlimited (or KU) at some point, but if you haven’t paid much attention until now, it might not be particularly clear what it is or how it works. 

So, what is Kindle Unlimited and how does it work?

What is it?

In a nutshell, Kindle Unlimited (or KU for short) is an Amazon subscription service that lets you use your Kindle to read as many books as you want, for one flat monthly fee. 

Think of it like Netflix for books. Instead of renting movies one at a time, Netflix lets you pay one flat fee to gain access to their library of movies. Kindle Unlimited is the exact same thing, but for books. 

How does it work?

You sign up for the service, then use your Kindle (or Amazon itself) to search for books that are available for download. When you find an available book you want to read, you select it, download it, and start reading! It’s really that easy. The hardest part of using Kindle Unlimited is deciding which book to read. 

What do you need to know?

First things, first, to use KU you need a Kindle or the Kindle App. Unfortunately, the service doesn’t work with any other e-reader. The Kindle app will allow you to read books from Kindle Unlimited on your phone or laptop, but it won’t work with other e-readers. 

Second, the books available change. Again, just like Netflix, the Kindle Unlimited library is constantly in flux. Authors choose whether or not to include their books in the service, which means they can remove books when they want to (Amazon makes authors commit to minimum time periods, but authors can remove their books once that commitment is up).

Third, you can only have ten books downloaded at a time. If you want to download an 11th, you need to swap out one of your ten books already downloaded. This doesn’t tend to be a problem for most people (and you can always go back and re-download books later), but it is one of the limitations of the system. If you’re going to be going somewhere without internet access, you can only pre-download ten books.


Who’s it for?

The obvious answer here is “avid reader”. Anyone who gets through enough ebooks in a month that it would cost more than price of a Kindle Unlimited subscription is the obvious choice. Romance readers, for example, are renowned for the ability to read multiple books a week, which is why Kindle Unlimited is very popular with that crowd. 

But KU is also great for people looking to find new authors or genres. People who use a lot of “industry” or craft books (you know, the types of books you may want to try before you buy).  And now, with magazines and audiobooks available, Kindle Unlimited is quickly becoming a good option for anyone who reads. 

Should you try Kindle Unlimited?

In our opinion? Absolutely, yes. It comes with a free trial for new users, so the risk is absolutely zero (as long as you remember to cancel if you don’t like it). 

With millions of books, in every imaginable category, plus magazines and audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited is really becoming a go-to for book lovers everywhere.

Also…it has all the Harry Potter books.

What to read for Hallowe’en 2020

What to read for Hallowe’en 2020

Halloween Lockdown or Not – What to Read this Spooky Season

Hallowe’en is going to look a little different this year, and I know what you’re asking yourself “Why is he spelling halloween like that!??!”. Well, first of all, that’s how you spell Hallowe’en, but more importantly, let’s focus on the important thing here: Spooky Tales!!!

Hopefully you’re allowed to have a somewhat normal Hallowe’en, but if you aren’t, why not spend some of that extra time getting spooked!  We had a timeless (and I’m sur highly celebrated) Hallowe’en reading list a couple of years ago that still stands up, but we’re here to add to that venerable tradition. 

So…here is bookspry’s Hallowe’en Books to Read (and not).

The Troop by Nick Cutter

Don’t read this book. It’s not spooky or scary or (if we’re being honest) scary at all. I hate to say this about a fellow Canadian, but man, that’s not how they talk in PEI!!! 

I’ll try Nick Cutter again because I like to see a Canadian boy do good, but this is a miss. 

0 out of 5 Booooooksrpys.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Ever been to a Scholastic book fair? I f**king loved this book. I saved up and brought my little pencil and order form to my parents and was like “guys, this book is too spooky, I probably can’t handle it, but I need to know.”. My parents called my bluff. 

Bonus points for getting the original cover with the weird-skull-head-man-smoking-a-pipe-for-some-reason.

4 out of 5 Booooooksrpys.

The Shining by Stephen King

Have some extra time these days? The Shining doesn’t compare to the The Stand’s 800+ pages, but it’s a solid 400 pages of classic spookiness! I can’t possible make a Hallowe’en list without mentioning Stephen King at least once. 

4 out of 5 Booooooksrpys.

Lovecraft Collection

by H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft is not without his controversy, but he’s also not without his incredibly spooky stories. The Colour out of Space is not only on Netflix these days, but is also great because it spells “colour” correctly (and is also a really fun story). 

H.P. Lovecraft is a legit treasure trove of crazy, spooky, fun seasonal stories. Try to go for a cheap book of short stories if you’re just looking to get a taste. Otherwise, feel free to just buy the Cadillac of Lovecraft and call it a day. 

4 out of 5 Booooooksrpys (depending on which one you get)

Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This may or may not have made a previous Hallowe’en Reading List. You’ll have to search to find out if that’s true. But regardless, it deserves to be here

Especially now that it has a follow up on Netflix filled with hidden ghosts and bad accents. Get into the spirit and lean into the fact that Hallowe’en can be both incredibly meaningful and incredibly goofy all at once. 

Looking for something fresh to read?

Check out our reading lists here


Why I Read Romance

Why I Read Romance

My reading choices are no-ones business but my own…but with that being said…

All romance readers have been asked at least once why they read romance. We’ve all had that conversation at some point, with someone. Sometimes it comes from a good place, and sometimes…less so. While my general opinion on stuff like this is “mind your own ****** business”, I think there’s an opportunity to talk about romance and why it’s so important to so many people, despite its reputation as mindless fluff.

Saying “I don’t like romance books” is like saying “I don’t like movies that come out in the summer”. It’s meaningless.

First things first, romance detractors get off your high horse. Romance is the highest grossing genre of books on Earth. People may claim they don’t read it, but I promise you they know and love someone who does!

Second, romance is too broad a genre to talk about on its own. Saying “I don’t like romance books” isn’t like saying “I don’t like action movies” it’s more like saying “I don’t like movies that come out in the summer”. It’s a category so broad and deep that it’s almost impossible to talk about in the macro.

Third, in a world where women and marginalized main characters can be in short supply, romance is a genre where you’re guaranteed to get some (and the main character is guaranteed to get some…but maybe that’s another article!). By default you can’t have a romance without a female or gay lead. There is no other genre that offers that kind of diversity or guarantee. As someone who wants to read about female characters, this is important to me.

Romance is the ONE genre where you’re guaranteed to find women and marginalized populations showing up as main characters.

There can certainly be a comfort in reading romance and it certainly has its conventions (what genre doesn’t?), but even those can subverted if that’s what you’re looking for. Want a funny easy read? We got that. Want some excitement and action? No problem. How about an alien race of super warriors and the women who love them? We got that too. 

We’re a big tent, and we’ve got some of the heaviest hitting authors in the world. It’s time to push back against the romance reader stereotype and let the world know that they’re the ones missing out!

Happy endings, good prevailing over evil, the couple will get together and be in love for the rest of their lives. The entire plot is based around love and it’s going to end happily. In the real world there are no such guarantees. Knowing that no matter which romance book I read is going to offer me that comfort is why I love them. Its predictable, but I crave that, in the same way the good guys are going to save the day at the end of a superhero movie, or no one is going to die a tragic death in the middle of a comedy movie. Every genre has conventions and I really enjoy romance conventions. 

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© 2021 bookspry. All rights reserved.

What the HEA? The Romance Glossary of Terms (Updated)

What the HEA? The Romance Glossary of Terms (Updated)


I’m sorry, couldn’t help myself with that joke. I’ve been waiting for this blog post about romance terms and definitions for ages so that I could make it. 

Why do you need a glossary of romance book terms and definitions? Well, if you’re just starting out reading romance, you’ll find out soon enough. The romance reader and writer community is both huge and incredibly tight-knit. Which means that there are tons and tons of message boards, Facebook groups, etc, that are dedicated to discussing romance books. Once you have that many people together discussing a topic, “jargon” arrives shortly after. 

Jargon may be widely mocked, but, at its core, it lets groups of like-minded people communicate more quickly and concisely, and the romance community is no stranger to its own jargon.

Some romance terms are fairly straightforward, but others make no sense on their own, or are acronyms that would be impossible to figure out without some help. 

So, in order to help you, dear romance reader, we’ve created the definitive Glossary of Romance Terms and Definitions (in mostly alphabetical order).

The Romance Dictionary

Alpha Hero 

A strong, brooding man, he protects those he loves and makes the tough decisions. 



Ultra Alpha. This manly man takes what he wants, no questions asked. As you imagined, he can also be a bit of an….well you get it. 



This stands for Advanced Reader/Review Copy. It’s a free copy of a book (typically unreleased, or newly released) that an author will give you hoping you give them feedback or leave a review on the book (though you are under no obligation to do so). Sometimes these books are early in the editing process, or without a finished cover, but they’re generally complete. There are ARC services you can sign up for who will try to pair your reading tastes with authors looking for readers.


Beta Hero

A hero whose appeal isn’t overly physical. Maybe he’s really smart, or funny, but he’s definitely charming and he’ll melt your heart. He’s pretty much the opposite of an alphahole.


Beta Reader 

Is a person who reads a book even before an ARC reader. Sort of like high level editors, Beta Readers are a way for a writer to check there are no plot holes or typos, and to get feedback on story elements. Beta reading can be a lot of fun as you sometimes get to see some of your recommendations appear in the final version of a book, but it also means reading “unpolished” writing. If you’re interested in being a Beta Reader, there are groups on Goodreads and Facebook, or you can just reach out to your favourite authors and ask if they have a Beta Reader list (most of them do) and ask to get on it!


The Big Misunderstanding 

This is a situation that often arises in romance books (and movies). It’s when the big climax of the book is caused because the romantic leads don’t talk to each other. It’s bad for the characters, but great for us. Instead of a five minute conversation where the leads sit down and talk about things rationally, we get 50 pages of deliciously agonising angst. 

It’s also a good life lesson, always talk to your partner before you assume anything!


Book Boyfriend 

That one character that you love above all others! He’s gorgeous, charming and totally wasted on some fictional heroine. 


Character Arc 

Each character should change and grow over the course of the book (romance or otherwise).

Every superhero movie starts off with the shy young person who has to conquer their fears, learn to accept themselves and save the world. In romance the typical Character Arc starts off with the happy singleton who, over the course of the novel, learns that she/he wasn’t actually all that happy but has just been hiding from the problems in their life. By accepting their own flaws and working to overcome them, our hero and heroine are able to flourish into strong characters who know their own self-worth and find additional happiness within a loving relationship. 

The Character Arc is the path they take to growth.



Did Not Finish. You’ll see “DNF” used a lot on message boards and particularly nasty book reviews. It means the person “did not finish” reading the book in question. Sometimes it’s for completely innocuous reasons (ie. DNF Jaws because I dropped my ereader in the pool and haven’t bought another one), but usually it’s used to mean the reader couldn’t finish the book because they didn’t enjoy it (ie. DNF Alpha Hero Superstar because there were too many typos).



This is a romance story featuring two female romantic leads. Books about women who love women!



Female Main Character. 


Gamma Hero 

A hero who has a mixture of Alpha Hero and Beta Hero characteristics. 



Happily Ever After. Just like the fairy tales of your youth, this is how every romance story should end (in my opinion!). The H/h have battled to be together over the course of the novel and this is the emotional payoff. The sweet reward of unconditional love that makes all the struggles worthwhile.



Hero/heroine, or Him/her, or Hero/hero, or Heroine/heroine. A shorthand way to refer to the main couple in a book.



The switch between POV’s, so you’re swapping whose head you’re “inside”. One chapter from the FMC’s perspective, and then the next chapter will be from the perspective of the MMC.

Heat Level

Heat level is the amount of hanky panky you can expect. This ranges from clean to steamy. Essentially, is there on page sex (not just “fade to black”) and how much of it. 


Happy For Now. The story ended and the H/h are in a relationship, but it’s not perfect. Perhaps the characters didn’t go through enough of an emotional journey for this to be a HEA, perhaps there are still issues to be worked through. However, the difference between an HEA and a HFN can be subtle, nuanced and often determined by whether the reader likes the main characters enough to want them to stay together. 



Kindle Unlimited, a monthly Amazon subscription that gives you access to thousands of e-books for free. Sounds interesting? Link to earlier article



Stories where there are two male romantic leads. Stories about men who love men!



One female lead and two (or more) male leads. 



Main Character. 



Main Male Character


Mary Sue 

A character that is too perfect, good at everything, beautiful etc. In fact, she is so perfect that she’s boring. It’s the flaws that make a good character and she has absolutely none. This is something that’s becoming more of a criticism in mainstream writing. Who wants to spend time with a goody-two-shoes? 


There is also the less common male version, called a Gary Sue


New Adult (NA)

Sometimes abbreviated to NA or called College Romance. Originally, it was a genre that lay in between YA and Adult romance, focusing on new adult experiences in various ways, first job, first time living on their own, college, first adult love, etc. The strict definitions have been stretched over time and a lot of people argue the term New Adult is so overused that it’s become meaningless, but it does technically mean something!


OMYW means the book features an older man with a younger woman.


Over the Top. Although this is an acronym that is used outside the romance world, you definitely need to know it if you’re a romance reader, because we have stories that are definitely…over the top. 



Point of view. Which character you are viewing the story from.


What does PNR mean? Paranormal romance. Shifters, vampires, ghosts, etc. There can be a lot of overlap with Science Fiction Romance (SFR) categories, but PNR really stands on its own.



Review To Come. Often used by ARC readers who are leaving a comment on Amazon but haven’t decided what they want to say yet.



Romance Writers of America association that gives out awards to Romance writers.


Sequel Bait 

You’re just getting to the end of a book. All the plot strands are coming together nicely and you can almost feel that glow of satisfaction that everything came together so nicely. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s a terrible twist of events. There’s no time to fix this massive problem now. The only way you’ll find out how everything is going to be sorted out is if you buy the sequel. UGH.


Science Fiction Romance! Similar to PNR (Paranormal Romance).


When you really want the couple to get together because you think the two of them will have a great relationSHIP. That’s when you ship it. 



The genre we’re talking about here is Romance, but romance is a massive genre and we have to split it up into small sub-genres like Romantic Comedy, Western Romance, Dark Romance.



Book purgatory. A TBR book is on that seemingly endless list we all have, the list of books “To Be Read”.



The type of plot that a novel uses. Common tropes are: second chance, friends to lovers, secret baby.



Too Stupid To Live. Usually the female lead, and sometimes meant as a criticism of the character. This is a person incapable of making a sensible choice and without a modicum of common sense. Luckily the MMC is usually there to rescue her.



That’s What She Said, the perfect response to innuendo.



Not as fun as it sounds. This is when a book is so terrible that you feel the need to throw it against the wall.


Women’s Fic 

Books that would likely otherwise be classified as a romance, except they don’t have a HEA/HFN.


Feel like we missed something, or disagree with some of these definitions? Drop us a line at or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

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© 2021 bookspry. All rights reserved.