#SPFBO : Semi-Finalist and Cuts Announcement (2)

Posted On 27 October 2020

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

During the past week I have reviewed the final five of the ten books that I rolled forward.  Today I am announcing the cuts from that batch of five together with the final semi finalists (my first announcement can be found here).  I would say, again, that these cuts have been very difficult because I’ve enjoyed all of the books from both batches and so the decision comes down to really very minor issues.  My apologies to the authors from this next round of cuts and congratulations to the Semi Finalists.

Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall

I enjoyed the Knightmare Arcanist.  It has a lot going for it, plenty of action and a school type setting where students who have bonded with a magical mythical creature come to learn.  Plenty of student bonding and adventure with a central mystery and an ending that promises more. My review is here.

Conclusion : Cut

Knightmare

Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley

This is a book that I was looking forward to very much, I love stories of the fae and this one didn’t disappoint.  The main gist is that the land of the fae is being attacked by a plague, the fae are holding trials to find a champion to meet the problem head on.  The central character has been banished but makes her return to take part in the trials – even though the other participants all want her dead.  I think readers who enjoy reading stories of the fae might like this one.  There is also a slow burn romance that I imagine will progress in the next novel.  My review is here.  Also, please note that we have a new cover:

Conclusion : Cut

Trial of

The Child of Silence by Joseph O.Doran (The Burning Orbit Book 1)

The Child of Silence is an impressive novel with a unique protagonist, some strong world building and a surprise ending.  There’s a lot going on in this one with rebellion and war and then an unexpected element at the conclusion. I enjoyed this although it could benefit from a little sharpening.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Cut

Childof

Voice of War by Zack Argyle (Threadlight #1)

Voice of War is an impressive debut.  The writing gains in confidence as the story progresses and we follow, in the first instance two very different protagonists.  This is a story that captured my attention early and kept me intrigued.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Semi Finalist

Voiceof

Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier (Tuyo #1)

Tuyo is a very well written, character centric novel.  This is a tale of friendship that is found where least expected and a story of enemies joining together to address a greater threat.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Semi Finalist

Tuyo

Guest Post : Jesse Teller #BardsAndScribes tour – The Gunslinger

Today I’m really pleased to be hosting a stop on the #BardsAndScribes tour with Jesse Teller providing a guest post entitled ‘The Gunslinger”.

Here’s a link to Fantasy Faction’s guest post : The Druid.  Also a link for the Grimmedian’s Panda. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts from @FanBooRev@TheFantasyHive@booknest_eu, @EsmeWeatherwax8, and @FantasyBookCrit

Firstly, a little bit of information about Jesse and also what this post is really about (with further info links provided at the bottom of the post):

JesseJesse Teller is mentally disabled. He suffers from PTSD from an abusive childhood. He is bipolar, suffers from daily to hourly hallucinations, and has DID (multiple personality disorder).

He has been a member of the self-published fantasy community for four and a half years now, has published fourteen books, with plans to publish countless more.

Jesse Teller is not a sane man. He has been declared mentally unfit and is a certified madman. This blog series is a glimpse into the way he sees a small handful of his peers and a look into his own mind. 

I confess that this piece really moved me and so I hope you enjoy it too.  

***

The Gunslinger

 The Gunslinger has a mind of maybes. He can walk the world of man with confidence and poise. Can talk to anyone with his down-to-earth personality and his swagger. He is impressive without trying to be and you can’t help but have a fun time when he is around. But as much of an everyman as he might seem, he is also a fellow traveler in the wild and the mystic.

His mind is open to theories and myths that others would dismiss. He sees the possible beast man lurking in the woods. Looks to the heavens for crafts and strange moving lights, and he opens his mind to plots and schemes some might think insane.

The Gunslinger walks alongside Artist stride for stride. But he is a terrible mind to wrestle with, both unbreakable ally and skeptic at once. A role that not many could play. Let’s look at how I found him and the glimpse I saw into his madness. Let’s see what he became to me and how, without him, my rise would have faltered.

I entered a very intense contest created by Mark Lawrence called SPFBO. Okay, that is what we call it. We even try to pronounce it and use it in a sentence. This is not a real word, but indie authors around the world work it into conversation. What this contest is actually called is Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. It was designed by Mark to display talented writers to the world of the traditionally published and the world at large.

SPFBO

300 novels are submitted every year. Ten review blogs are chosen to judge and the books are divided up to them randomly. Every review blog gets 30 books and they are told to narrow that number down however they see fit. This replicates the submission process to agents and publishers, and puts us all in ten slush piles. Only one book can rise from each chosen 30 and only those ten are read by every blog. Three champions rise and the publicity they receive from standing above in Mark’s contest can make a career. So many great writers have come to this contest, a few have gained traditionally published contracts. Even more have been tossed into obscurity.

The system is not flawed but the judges can use any criteria they wish to choose their finalist. As far as I know, no judge has written the names on the wall and thrown a dart, but if they did, it would not be against the rules. They use the same techniques in their selection as any agent or publisher. So if a book comes to them that they are not in the mood to read, they can just toss it. If they choose to read ten percent of every book, then they can do that, too. However they want to rate the book, or shuffle the book, is viable. So a great book always rises, but many great books fall away.

The Gunslinger and I entered one year. The contest is a great way to network with other writers. We all talk, and friendships are kindled. This is the group I found The Alchemist in when I opened interviews to it. This is where I found The Cannibal and The Judge. This land of plenty and none is the place where The Panda and I first met, as he was a big supporter and boon to SPFBO. All my great writer friends have found me through this gate.

I woke deep into the afternoon, shook off my haze, and found a few messages in my box from The Gunslinger. See, he was right up the road from me in a small town in Missouri. He had dropped his book into the pot and, when the socializing began, he found my Facebook page. He saw my Harley Davidson. He saw a few pics of me with a beer and he decided I might be a guy he wanted to know.

We vowed to meet up and I decided to read his book so we might have something to talk about. I picked up Halcyon’s Wake: Faith by The Gunslinger. I read it in one night and wrote a review for it. This is what I wrote:

I have never had this much fun with a book before. Halcyon’s Wake is insane. FaithOK so have you ever been drinking and things get out of hand? You’re telling a story and some guy across from you starts telling a story that one ups yours. So you tell another, even crazier story. Then the same jerk hits you again with a better one. I’m pretty sure that The Gunslinger was having both of those conversations with himself.

Halcyon starts almost reasonable. Asteroid comes screaming toward Earth. Our planet can’t just dodge it, so there is a modest evacuation, and we are on our way. He has a technically sound knowledge of how modern space shuttles work, so you settle into a comfortable stride and you are moving along just fine. Then he hits you.

“Are you going to let me get away with this?” The Gunslinger asks his reader. He gives you a curve ball that has you slowly nodding your head. “Sure,” you say, “Let’s keep going.” A few chapters later he introduces a new idea. It gives you pause. You stop, look around to see if the room is with you or not, because this idea is kind of out there. It takes a leap to follow, but you nod and keep reading.

“Are you gonna let me get away with this?”

Now you are moving downhill. You are at a pretty hefty trot and things are starting to get a little treacherous. You are in unsafe land now. Running too fast. A bit out of breath. You are in this far, so why go back now?

“Double Dog Dare you to follow me here,” he says.

At this point the idea is so intense, so mind blowing that you can’t not go along. You can only nod and keep running. One dare after the next he gives us. “What do you think of this? This OK, are you still comfortable?” The Gunslinger asks.

No, you are not comfortable, things are moving fast now. Ideas are coming that are out of your control. You are moving so fast that you can’t catch your breath. You get more and more concepts thrown at you, more and more outright brilliant, outright crazy ideas. You are starting to realize now that your author might not be all there. You are starting to see that he has no filter. He will take you places that you are not ready for, give you visions that you could never prepare yourself to see. The book is hot now, running out of control and all you can do is hold on with white knuckle, the wind screaming in your ears, your cheeks flapping as he drags you along into the wildest read you have ever had.

There are things in this book that you will not be ready for. Every now and then, you will look at it wondering if the writer is seriously taking you there, wondering if you can suspend disbelief long enough to finish the book.

Do it. Don’t let this one get away. Halcyon is not an experience that you want to go without.

When you are done, go out and buy a bag of Peanut M&M’s. You have earned them.

Yellow

(Keen to know more about The Gunslinger – check out his author page here).

The Gunslinger read that review and went nuts. I am pretty sure that to this day it is the greatest way anyone has ever captured his work. Because when you read Halcyon’s Wake, you realize this guy is just left of center.

He also happens to have one of the most powerful grasps I have ever seen on the written language. He knows story. Knows what works and what doesn’t. And he is an editor. He had edited The Sloth’s book, and The Sloth gave him high praise and used him for the rest of the trilogy.

I stick to a very strict release schedule of every April 15th and October 5th. April 15th to honor the short story Mr. Olsen gave me in fifth grade. And October 5th in honor of Mrs. Hegg’s assignment my freshman year of high school. So when the editor who was working on The Manhunters series went in for heart surgery and had to set my book down, I reached out to The Gunslinger and he scooped up the third book in the series to whittle at it a bit.

He read the first two and delivered a powerful product I was very happy with. I sent it to my second editor, who gave it glowing praise for its cleanliness, then I roped The Gunslinger in for the lot.

He liked my style. Asked why I was not big yet and he agreed to work with me into a future we could not see the end of.

LegendsMy next release was Legends of the Exiles and here we hit a bit of a bump. Well, he had moved to Arizona and was looking at Exiles through the glass of The Manhunters. He said it didn’t fit and he was cutting it pretty deep. Said the dialogue was juvenile and the world did not seem that well-developed. He told me he had worked on it for X number of hours and he was only 23 pages in. He had been into his canteen and found not water there but whiskey, and he is prone to exaggeration when that happens.

My wife flew into action when I got off the phone with him. She emailed and messaged The Gunslinger and breathed fire for a while, and the next day he woke up to his desk smoldering and patted out the flames. He had been told by my wife the dialogue was juvenile because those talking were children. He had been told the world was in fact very detailed and she had told him that if he was not going to blah blah that she would blah blah. She growled at him quite a bit and he stepped into the book with greater respect and a healthy fear of my wife.

He texted me asking me to call him a few days later. He had been working on the book and needed to speak to me. I called and when he answered the phone, he sighed. He did not say hello, howdy or hey ya. But he spoke with a soft, reverent voice and said:

“She did not dance to their rules. Music was not for prancing around in circles with hands up and smiling. It was not about bowing and presenting intention. Dancing was about sweat and exertion. It was about freedom and power. It was a thing for gods and goddesses. The closest men or women ever got to divinity. While all of the others danced in their circles, she spun and slid through the groupings. She flipped her hair and moved her hips. She let the sway of her body and the waving of her arms speak of her power and she loosed her war cry every time the music lifted her to heights unimaginable.”

This is a scene from the book. This is young Rachel Beastscowl on the floor of a hall where her people are set for a feast. In his voice I heard his love of the young girl. In his voice I heard a true believer.

“What do you think?” I said.

“You have me for life. I will edit every book you write from this day forth. I want in. I want it all. I want Perilisc, I want the Mountain. I want to be a part of what you are making. Don’t cut me out. Money, deadlines, we can work all that out. I can be flexible, I am a hard worker. I’m with you. This is mine, too.”

And ever since, he has been.

I have The Gunslinger beside me fighting back all my doubts, fighting back all my flaws as he shoots from the hip and screams wild to the air. With a canteen of whiskey and a love of my world, The Gunslinger fights for my team. He is my editor. He is my scribe.

He is also my friend.

* Ends *

My thanks to Jesse for the opportunity to take part in the Bards and Scribes blog tour.

For more information about Jesse Teller:

Author Bio:

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to understanding the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/PathtoPerilisc/
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/gromitkermit
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jesse.teller/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15269506.Jesse_Teller
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JesseTeller
Website: https://jesseteller.com/
Newsletter sign up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/q1h1k4

#SPFBO Review : Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier (Tuyo #1)

Posted On 25 October 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , , ,

Comments Dropped 3 responses

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This is my final review for the 10 books I rolled forward for SPFBO.  Following this I will post an update for the past five books at which point I will make cuts and select my next semi-finalists.  On the 28th I hope to announce my finalist.

TuyoTuyo was another very impressive read from this batch.  The writing is really good, there’s a good story and some interesting world building but the two central characters really stole the show for me.

As the story begins we meet Ryo inGara.  Ryo has been left by his war leader as a Tuyo.  Basically, a sacrifice left to appease the enemies and allow the rest of the tribe to make their escape.  I have to say that Ryo has a great voice and I was immediately hooked by his plight.  Within fairly short order we also meet the other MC – Aras, Warlord of the Lau.  Ryo’s fate lies in the hands of this enemy Warlord and, no matter the outcome, he can only hope that he doesn’t shame his family.

In terms of the plot, and I don’t think this is a spoiler at all, Aras decides to keep Ryo as a translator and advisor.  The Lau and the Ugaro lived relatively peacefully alongside each other until recent troubles seemed to have spiked and caused unrest.  The Ugaro live in the Winter lands where cold snaps can be deadly.  The Lau live in the summer countries where the heat can be intense and heat sickness and death is a real possibility. Both these lands sit on opposite sides of a river – I realise this seems a little unlikely but I decided to go with the set up and not question it too deeply and to be honest it didn’t seem unlikely at all as I was reading and this is a fantasy novel after all and one in which magic plays a role.  As the story begins to unfold and Ryo and Aras learn more of each other’s customs it becomes apparent that a third party is actually a bigger risk to the Lau and the Ugaro and in order to survive the two may have to overcome their mutual distrust.

To be honest that last part encapsulates so much of what makes this book a good read. The Ugaro and the Lau are so very different and the author does a really good job of getting across the culture and lifestyles of both.  It’s these very differences of course that cause fear and distrust and this is a winning element of the story – watching the gradual change as both characters learn more about each other’s way of life.

Aras, as it turns out, is able to perform magic, in fact it seems that many of the Lau had minor abilities in this respect, but Aras is much more powerful than even his close friends are aware of.  His magic relates  predominantly to mind control and although I would love to go into this aspect more thoroughly I’m conscious of spoiling the read for others so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say there are some interesting elements that arise as a result of the magic which helps to create some unique situations.

The characters.  Well Ryo and Aras are central to the plot and in fact Ryo narrates the story.  Both are very easy to like.  They both share a strong sense of honour and obligation and both are prepared to learn more in order to overcome their prejudices.  Watching the two in their own environment and then observing them when they’re out of their comfort zones was really interesting. The Lau feel a little more typical fantasy fare, they reminded me a little of the Romans and their legions although I guess you could liken them to any empire with an organised and disciplined army.  There was focus on how their army camps operate and mostly this was easy to imagine.  I really liked the amount of thought that the author gave to the Ugaro and their customs and rituals.  This aspect was really fascinating.  Particularly as the action ramped up and war counsels were organised.  Meeting Ryo’s family was really interesting and I loved all the interactions.

In terms of criticisms.  I have very little to be honest.  I think the point I mentioned above about the different places being so strictly defined is a little unusual at first, I mean, literally, cross a river and find major change.  To be fair, I didn’t really find it an issue but maybe worth a mention.

Overall this was a very enjoyable read.  Friendships and trust where you least expect, overcoming differences and prejudices and really great characters.

I received a copy from the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO Review : Voice of War by Zack Argyle (Threadlight #1)

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

VoiceofVoice of War is the debut novel of Zack Argyle and the first book in the Threadlight series.  I enjoyed this and the review is based on the audio version which was also very good.

As the story begins we witness a religious ceremony that gives us information about the world we find ourselves in.  The magic here is known as threadweaving and the colour of a person’s eyes determines their ability to either use magic or not.  Blue or green eyes denotes magic ability, a child with brown eyes has no ability to threadweave.  This isn’t a problem in itself although most parents hope their children will be born with magic capabilities.  Families are allowed only two children, the exception to this is if the third child is born with blue or green eyes.  Those children born with brown eyes to a family that already have two children are given into the priesthood, unfortunately such a religious calling involves a cruel ritual that leaves the child blind, basically because it is believed to be better to see truth than light.

We also meet Chrys Valerian, one of three High Generals who has a fierce reputation.  Chrys is a respected leader but his efforts during the War of the Wastelands changed the outcome and gained him the title of ‘Apogee’ (think Beserker).  Since the war Chrys keeps his inner demon on a short leash even though it constantly demands release inside his head and he’s not entirely sure what this inner beast is really capable of.  The other thing you need to know about Chrys is that his wife is expecting and when a stranger predicts a threat to his unborn child events start to escalate quickly before taking a strange turn.

Chrys is one of three characters that we follow.  Laurel is a young female also with threadweaving abilities.  However, she doesn’t live in the city.  She lives in a village in the wilds that most people believe is a fictional place and her threadweaving is very impressive.  Laurel is becoming a little discontented with village life and the elders that dictate the way of life and this leads her into trouble.  I don’t really want to discuss Laurel or the other character too much because this will probably involve spoilers for certain aspects of the story.

The story gets off to a quick start and the pacing is good.  The main thrust of the plot concerns blood thieves that have been abducting threadweaver children to sell their blood.  Chrys has been tasked with investigating these disappearances although the other two High General’s are unhappy with this situation.  The investigation takes a strange turn which leaves Chrys, his wife and his unborn child in danger.

I really enjoyed this, I had a few little issues here and there but I thought the world building was impressive, the writing became progressively more confident and there was a good build up of tension as things came to a head.

I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed all the characters equally but I did like Chrys and the creepy voice inside his head.  I liked that he struggles with this and doesn’t know whether or not he’s going crazy, I liked the strong focus on family and although the magic system is reminiscent of Sanderson’s Mistborn (with pushing and pulling on threads) I think it stands on it’s own two feet.  Laurel is a little more reckless and impulsive, her decision making can be a little flaky, but, at the same time I recognise that her age plays into this.

I really liked the world created here.  Althea, the city in which Chrys lives is easy to imagine and fairly fantasy typical, we then move to the remote village, hidden within a jungle like setting with dangers aplenty, a few twists and the dramatic finale – which definitely left me wanting to read more.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I had a good time with this so nothing much to discuss here, although I think the third POV was under developed and felt a little rushed.  There was also a slight feeling of things sometimes being easily resolved.

Overall, I had a very good time reading this and will definitely read the next instalment.

I would like to thank the author for a review copy. The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO Review : The Child of Silence by Joseph O.Doran (The Burning Orbit Book 1)

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

ChildofsilenceChild of Silence is a remarkable book in so many ways and one that I enjoyed reading.

This is a story told by Aiata dal’Pelferta, daughter of Telorla dal’Pelferta (mpress to Calosoa) and fourth in line to rule the nation.  During childbirth Aiata suffered from a lack of oxygen which left her dependent on others for virtually all her basic everyday requirements.  For the most part she is disregarded, her mother and family believe she has no intelligence or cognisant abilities and she is treated, at best, with disgust and fear or, at worst, ill used and abused by one of her brothers who enjoys tormenting (aka torturing) her when he deigns to notice her at all.  She is frequently neglected and left to sit in discomfort in her room, however, the inattention of others allows her to enjoy the only thing which gives her any respite.  Aiata loves to eavesdrop and the fact that people regard her as passive means she is often overlooked or left in nooks and crannies where she can overhear conversations which are private or scandalous.  

So, as the book starts we get a feel for the world and how things are in the capital city of Chalorne.  The City sits on a mountain with concentric rings progressing downwards.  The higher the tier the more prosperous, affluent or noble, with the palace at the very peak.  The lower rings are inhabited by labourers who primarily suffer abject poverty and hunger.  The levels are connected by a skyway that magically transports people from level to level at superfast speeds.  The Colasoa are believed to be God’s touched and in fact they believe themselves far superior to everyone else.  They have magical ability known as Songthrust which works very similarly to compulsion and allows them control of their servants, army and the rest of the casted population.

There are a number of key characters.  Aiata narrates the story.  As the story begins she can be a little difficult to like.  She’s definitely bought into the whole ‘superiority’ feelings that the Colasoa believe and she can have some not altogether ‘nice’ thoughts on occasion.  But, I cut her some slack, her life is difficult to say the least and as the story progresses Aiata’s character arc is very impressive. Aiata has two brothers and a sister.  Her eldest brother, Bachan, is the only one to treat her with any sort of kindness.  Her other brother and sister, Jeliv and Keia, treat Aiata absolutely atrociously often resorting to outright torture.  On top of this Aiata is cared for by a clerica and eventually she accrues an impressive network of spies within the palace.  She also strikes a friendship with one of the Couriers.  The Couriers are feared and respected.  They wear special armour and helmets that give them, speed and strength plus the ability to read people’s thoughts and emotions.

The plot.  Well, there are quite a number of threads going on here.  The Calosoa are a nation intent on rule.  They wage on war on others, the defeated swell their ranks of servers and their coffers with wealth – although they don’t see fit to distribute this wealth and that feeds into another element of the plot – rebellion.  On top of this there are court politics with lots of jostling between the Empress and her children.  There is also another element to the story that I won’t elaborate on here but is an interesting development.

What I really enjoyed with this book is that the author has come up with a MC who is so very different from what I’m accustomed to.  Aiata has so many hurdles to overcome and really struggles.  And, the way she is written answered my little niggles or queries as the book progressed with a particularly impressive character arc.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, I’m going to be brutally frank here and I will apologise for that upfront, but, this is over long.  Clearly, this is a labour of love and that shines through but at the same time there is just too much detail.  Even to the extent that  during action scenes there will be descriptions of the surroundings, which kind of lessens the momentum and pulls you out of the moment.  To be fair, as I already said, I do understand the desire to include everything and the world building is so rich with such a lot going on that no doubt it’s difficult to be ruthless with the red pen, but, this wordiness almost made me DNF this book and that would have been a real shame.  

In spite of the above though, I still thought this was an impressive read and I would recommend it.  You have to stick with the characters and the slightly bloated introduction to get to the real thrust of the story.

I received a copy courtesy of the author for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

Friday Face Off : Ripped/torn

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

 Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

Firstly, I’ve been a bit swamped this week so I’m behind with reading and blogging, not to mention blog hopping.  Hopefully, things will be much calmer in the very near future which will give me chance to catch up.

I had a few ideas for this week’s theme so hope everyone didn’t struggle.  I think I was originally thinking of something that look like a torn cover but this week I’ve chosen :Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #1) by R.J. Barker.  Such a great series that I highly recommend and here are the covers:

My favourite this week:

Age2

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

201

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

#SPFBO Review : Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley

Posted On 21 October 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , ,

Comments Dropped 7 responses

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

TrialTrial of Thorns is a story of the fae and the first book in the Wicked Fae series. To be totally frank I had reservations going into this one and can’t deny I was worried that it might be more heavy on the romance than I would like. As it happens I had no need to worry., the romance here is barely touched upon, in fact this is a very slow burn with rising chemistry between two fae who are enemies and the ending leaves things hanging in the balance.

Caelyn, of the Shadow Court, was banished to the human world for killing a fae prince. As the story begins she is given the chance of redemption. To return home to act as Champion for the Shadow Court in the forthcoming Trial of Thorns. By way of background. The land of the fae is suffering from a plague, a blight that is killing the precious children and leaving the land it touches blighted and scorched. The fae queen has revived an old, long forgotten, trial to find a worthy champion to try and overcome this plague. Fae from all the courts will be chosen to take part. Unfortunately for Caelynn, many of those chosen to take part are more interested in seeing her dead and so not only will she need to meet the deathly challenges posed by the trials but also keep her wits when almost everyone wants her dead. The only thing in Caelynn’s favour is the power that she can wield, a power that she keeps hidden and is her only chance of success.

In terms of the plot this is a combination of competition and mystery. The trials involve a number of unknown and deathly challenges. In order to succeed a number of the fae make alliances and although Caelynn seems to stand on her own this isn’t the case for long. Then there’s the mystery of why Caelynn killed a fae prince.

I would say the world building is a little thin and primarily relies upon the reader already having a knowledge of the fae. We don’t see any of their trickery here and in a way, apart from the magic they wield they feel almost human. However, the trials contain magic and some of the resolutions are very entertaining.

The characters. Caelynn is the main character. She has a good deal of self loathing in relation to her past. This is not a character that is happy with herself and that comes through frequently. I wouldn’t say that Caelynn always makes the wisest choices, for example, bringing her human friend into the world of the fae – that was a clear mistake and a little bit selfish in some respects. but, I will cut her some slack with that because it also took a lot of guts to return to a world where almost everyone despised her and so she obviously wanted somebody to be in her corner. Reveln is also a prince, and brother to the future heir that Caelynn murdered. As you may imagine his thoughts where she is concerned are very dark. There are, of course, other characters involved in the trials but I’m not going to mention them all here. There are rivalries and jealousies aplenty but I did think the character arc for both Caelynn and Reveln was good. Both characters feel an inexplicable attraction, which might seem unlikely at first, but just go with it because their are unexpected developments not to mention some secrets revealed. I would just give a shout out to the shadow sprites. I really enjoyed them.

In terms of criticisms. As I mentioned, the fae world feels a little bit skimpy but it wasn’t a real issue. One thing that is inevitable with this is comparisons to books such as The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – and, yes, to an extent there are similarities. This is a trial, the contestants must even win their place before they can enter and the trials can be deadly – however, in spite of certain similarities the Trial of Thorns carves its own path.

To be fair, I did have a few issues here and there and I would suggest they primarily rise around this being YA and my not being the target audience, but, in spite of any issues I felt I can say that I had a good time with this one and had no hesitation picking it up or lacking the desire to return to it.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO Review : Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

KnightmareKnightmare Arcanist is set in a world full of magic and mythical creatures.  It’s a very enjoyable story that gets off to a really good start and in fact it pulled me in  immediately.  We meet Volke, apprentice gravedigger who longs to be an Arcanist.  To become an arcanist one must bond with a magical creature and as the book kicks off we find Volke gate-crashing a phoenix bonding trial hoping to bond with a phoenix himself.  Failing the trial Volke is still determined to follow his ambitions and he and his sister travel to a swamp where a boat carrying magical beasts is believed to have crashed.  The two both eventually succeed in finding and bonding with a magical creature.

From here we travel to a magical school (set on the back of a gigantic turtle) and the real adventures begin.

There are so many aspects that I really enjoyed about this book and I was  gripped almost immediately.  It really does get off to a very quick start.  We’re thrown into the world and there’s no tippy-toeing around.  I also love the whole idea of these young characters bonding with a magical creature that will enable them to wield magic – and of course there’s the magic school element.  Plus, the main mystery.  Let’s not forget the mystery.

The magical creatures are very interesting and Volke’s own bonded creature particularly so.  A Knightmare is a creature of shadow, in fact it can use the shadows in different ways.  It can take the form of a knight and can actually ‘join’ with it’s bonded human to fight.  Unfortunately Volke finds the bonding and use of magic very difficult, in fact painful, much more so than his fellow students.

The world building was also intriguing.  A terrible plague is spreading across the land, magical creatures touched with the plague become dark versions of themselves, insane and unstable and this disease can also affect humans, particularly if they’re bitten by an infected creature.  Arcanists are desperate to find a cure but travelling between islands is rendered dangerous by the number of pirates sailing the seas.

The characters.  There is a good cast, primarily of young adult characters faced with the sorts of dilemmas you would expect.  There is bullying and petty rivalry but also a really good attempt to build up lasting friendships.  Volke and his sister Ilia are joined by Zaxis and Atty, the two young adults who took part in the initial trials and bonded with a phoenix each.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I will point out before saying anything else that this was a very enjoyable book that kept me entertained.  That being said, I probably enjoyed the start of the book more than the conclusion – which is a little unusual in some respects because the conclusion is certainly action packed.  I think I had a slight feeling that the second half needed to pace itself a little more.  I also had a couple of slight irritations here or there which were predominantly as a result of feeling that some things just came too easily.  There’s also this element at the school of teachers not teaching at all – just telling students to do something without any sort of explanation and the mysterious disappearance of adults for large portions of time.  But, saying all this, I recognise that I’m not maybe the target audience here and none of these were real deal breakers.

Overall this is an action packed, dramatic adventure with critters aplenty, intriguing magic, trials, schools, pirates and a central mystery just waiting to be solved and as first books in series go it’s a very solid start indeed.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO : Semi-Finalist and Cuts Announcement

Posted On 19 October 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 6 responses

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

During the past week I have reviewed five of the ten books that I rolled forward.  Today I am announcing the first cuts from that batch of five together with the first semi finalists.  I would say that these cuts have been very difficult because I’ve enjoyed all of the books from both batches and so the decision comes down to really very minor issues.  My apologies to the authors from this next round of cuts and congratulations to the Semi Finalists.

The Usurper (Brutal Saga #0.50) by James Alderdice

I had a good time with the Usurper and really enjoyed the two different timelines.  Other than a couple of minor issues I think this is a series that I would really enjoy and fans of grimdark fantasy with a dash of heroic adventure might enjoy this one.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Cut

Usurper

The Hammer of the Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe

The Hammer of the Gods is a tongue in cheek adventure that pokes a little fun at many well known characters, myths and gods from the fantasy genre.  If you don’t mind a bit of creative cursing and sexual references and a crazy and mixed up tale of two unlikely characters trying to change their way in life then this is a very promising start to series even with a slightly abrupt ending. My review is here.

Conclusion : Cut

TheHammer

Incursion (The Necromancer’s Key #1) by Mitchell Hogan

A tale of epic fantasy, on the face of it a story of good vs evil, scratch the surface and everything isn’t so clear cut of course.  Two characters discover there is more to their magic and in a realm of unrest dark abilities must remain hidden.  This is an impressive piece of writing and promises very good things to come.  I only had minor issues in terms of the level of detail but nothing that spoiled the read.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Cut

Incursion

Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez

Calico Thunder is a really very easy to read tale of a circus.  Set in an era of prohibition and speakeasies the bans here are on magic use not alcohol.  Calico Thunder is a dragon and part of the circus act.  Jake Strickland inherited the circus from his father.  Unfortunately he also inherited some rather huge problems at the same time and his attempts to solve said problems are the main driver of the story.  A very enjoyable read.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Semi-finalist

Calico

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

I had such a good time reading Flight of the Darkstar Dragon.  The imagination and world building are absolutely fascinating.  This is a purple world where a dragon encircles the sun and rifts act as portals to other worlds.  A winning combination of super world building with the promise of many adventures yet to come.  My review is here.

Conclusion : Semi-finalist

Flightof

#SPFBO Review : The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

FlightofThe Flight of the Darkstar Dragon has to have one of the most fascinating settings that I can recall reading for some time.  I had a really good time reading this, it’s incredibly creative and very well written.  The world building aspect almost puts me in mind of Pratchett where the number of possibilities feel infinite and there’s a certain charm about the story that creates a flavour of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland.  Plus, the unique world of the Darkstar Dimension and the number of prospects for exploration that it offers gave me Startrek vibes – simply because Min can, and will, boldly go (although, to be clear, there is no spaceship or space travel here).

As the story sets out we are thrown immediately into a bizarre situation.  The crew of the Melodious Narwhal, a skyship powered by magic, have been thrown to the deck (literally) and are all beginning to awaken from some sort of stupor and are all suffering from collective amnesia.  Min Choi, First Officer onboard, needs to pull herself together quickly and reassert command, especially as the skyship seems to have lost all power and is plummeting out of control.

Now, I’m not really going to elaborate too much on the plot.  I think it’s more important to give an outline of the world here and the characters that we spend time with.  This isn’t to say that the plot isn’t entertaining, because it is, but I think this has a first in series feel with plenty of elements being established which means certain elements feel a little more sketchy.  This isn’t a criticism I hasten to add.  I was totally immersed with this book and found myself really enjoying Min’s story.

So, to the setting  It’s difficult to pin this down and I have no doubt that my thoughts are going to be a mess.  The Darkstar Dimension is a world almost in reverse, or maybe more correctly a world that defies physics.  Everything here has a purple hue, the sun is encircled by a huge hungry dragon, fish can fly and a multitude of rifts can be seen that are constantly in motion.  The dragon I mentioned, due to its mammoth size, is continually hungry and sometimes steals magic from other realities creating rifts (and stranded people).  These rifts are perpetually in motion around the sun and the dragon which allows travel to different places as rifts become close enough to journey to.

There are a number of characters.  Min is the First Officer. She’s only recently graduated and so, although she’s been given command of the skyship she isn’t a captain – and this is a bone of contention with some of the crew who never miss an opportunity to snipe at her.  She seems to be constantly trying to win approval and yet in fairness, if not for her quick thinking, they’d all probably be long since dead.  We have a scholar on board called Abalendu, basically he’s the son of an Admiral in search of a mythical land.  His father gave the posting to Min thinking it would be good experience!  Zoya is a warrior taken on as a bodyguard to Abalendu.  She wears a magical artefact known as a Parasite Glove which gives her great strength and speed but comes at a cost (as the name implies).  Jedda is the Ship’s artificer, constantly relied upon to come up with impossible solutions.  FInally, we meet a new character called Brightest.  Brightest found himself similarly stranded in the Darkstar Dimension but seems to have made a home there.  Well, a mud tower constructed upon the back of a turtlemoth called Stickle.

There is drama, fascinating travel to some really crazy places and a general feel that there is so much more in the pipeline to look forward to.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this is only fairly short and yet there’s a lot to fit in.  I think the setting steals the show in this instalment with the characters and plot playing second fiddle – but, I don’t think that’s a problem because the world building has me not only intrigued but hooked.

I can safely say that I would love to read more of Min’s adventures to infinity and beyond.  Sign me up.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Friday Face Off : “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

Yes, I struggled a little with this one.  I had a couple of books in mind but I know I’ve used them in the past for other themes.  This week I’ve gone with a book that I haven’t read but that fits this week’s prompt very well.  Agatha Christie’s Spider Web.  Here are the covers:

My favourite this week:

SW6

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

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23th October – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

Incursion (The Necromancer’s Key #1) by Mitchell Hogan

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

IncursionIncursion makes a very good start to the Necromancer’s Key series.  The introductory chapters really set the scene.  Queen Talia’s realm is under attack by the Knights of the Order of Eternal Vigilance who believe she is a necromancer and the epitome of evil.  The Queen, on the brink of defeat, tells her Captain, Carred Selenas, to leave and to await her return.  The Queen then uses dark magic to cause a blast strong enough to kill what remains or her army and many of the invading knights, killing herself in the process.

We then jump forward a number of years and make the acquaintance of Anskar who is training to become a knight and is studying hard for the forthcoming trials.  Anskar, is an orphan, raised by the Knights of the Order since he was a baby.  He works hard and looks forward to dedicating his life to the knighthood but as the trials begin he starts to experience certain dilemmas that fill him with doubt and internal conflict.

Meanwhile, Carred Selenas, maintains the rebellion movement planning constant attacks on the Knights and their attempts to wipe out any trace of Queen Talia.  She awaits the Queen’s return but is growing desperate.  Resources and people are in short supply and she begins to despair but rumours of the Queen’s missing daughter keep her hope alive.

Saraya is a Nyandrian woman, one of many rounded up by the Knights in an attempt to capture the dead Queen’s daughter.  By rounding up all the young girls of a certain age they hope to nip rebellion in the bud.  Saraya is also a potential knight in training, however, she has her eye on Anskar and the two of them find it difficult to maintain any thoughts of chastity when they’re around each other.

The world here is pseudo Mediaeval with Knights of a Holy Order fighting against evil.  Although, as the story progresses you begin to understand that good and evil are not always quite so clear cut and there are two sides to any argument.  The magic here is well developed and again leans on dark vs light – also showing that maybe one isn’t better than the other.  Necromancy is of course real, as are other menacing creatures such as corpse eaters and wraiths.

The characters are quite well rounded.  Anskar is desperate to know more about his heritage but receives few answers.  Saraya is angry.  She has much skill and is a confident adept but is bitter about the way her people have been treated since the Knights of the Order took over.  I think Carred is probably my favourite character.  She’s tough and resilient as the same time as desperate and becoming a little short of hope.

In terms of criticisms.  I think there is a slight feeling of bloat here and there, where things feel a little drawn out.  In one respect I really like the level of detail, it adds so much depth, but, there is a point where it also slows things down a little.  There was also one particular scene where Anskar and a number of others rode out on a mission and were attacked.  Don’t get me wrong, this was very well written but at the same time it felt a little like a situation that was there purely to allow Anskar and Saraya to demonstrate their darker magical abilities.

Slight issues aside this is a well written, confident, swords and sorcery style story with a mystery at the core and although it has a slightly generic feel in terms of some elements I think that the inclusion of things such as talking heads and mysterious and hypnotic crows definitely raises the level of intrigue and the twist at the end was quite unexpected.  It will be interesting to see how the series develops.

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy for review.  The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO Review : The Usurper (Brutal Saga #0.50) by James Alderdice

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

The Usurper - Ebook - David J. WestThe Usurper tells the story of Gathelaus, a mercenary who becomes the commander for a troop of renowned sellswords and eventually carves a bloody path to forcefully take the crown.

I had a good time with this book.  On the one hand we have the current storyline – which, after a short prologue takes us back some twenty days earlier to bloody warfare and the forming of a rebellious plan.  This has a grimdark feel to it and follows a linear plot as Gathelaus makes his way across country, demonstrating his strength and battle smarts. The alternate storyline, takes us back to a much younger Gathelaus and tells a series of short, pulp fiction style heroic fantasy adventures of swords and sorcery until, eventually, the two timelines meet.

I think the split timelines worked really well.  On the one hand, we have this series of individual, short stories that help provide a picture of Gathelaus and how his experiences over the years have helped to shape him.  He’s a character that is easy to like in many respects.  I wouldn’t say he’s particularly soft and fluffy, he’s certainly not above a bit of dirty fighting so long as it helps him win the day, but at the same time he does have a strong moral compass that dictates the way he behaves.

In the earlier stories we meet a young Gathelaus as he accompanies his father and brother on a mission to claim land in the frozen North and is brimming with bravado and heroic thoughts.  We then move to 18 years earlier and 12 years earlier, etc, along the way witnessing him deal with troublesome Picts and sorcerers and Gods and other monsters, all delivering a little slice of what made him the man he is today.

Alternately, we jump to the current storyline where the days are slowly counting down revealing the path Gathelaus cut to the throne and the battles and twists along that route.  This storyline has a much grimmer feel to the pulp style hero tales, battles being very bloody after all, and I think the switches in style helped to bring something lighter in between the bouts of battle.  Gathelaus finds himself drawn into a rebellion, the young prince, backed by various nobles (all with their own, usually greed-led, motivations) intend to overthrow the current King – who is something of a tyrant and quite unfit to rule.  Of course, rebellions are usually fought by the underdogs and this is definitely the case here and Gathelaus needs to rely on his cunning ability as much as his sword skills.

In terms of the world building the earlier storyline takes us to many different places.  Gathelaus’ adventures take him through jungles and across deserts and there are many different influences that can be felt along the way before he finds himself immersed in war, surrounded by armies and either thrashing out war strategies in the command tents or plowing into the fray.

The characters.  This is primarily about Gathelaus and to an extent there are no other standout characters although there are certain people along the way who are easy to adopt or enjoy.  Fortunately I liked Gathelaus and so I had no issues with the surrounding characters remaining a bit greyed out although it would have been interesting to have maybe one of two extra characters of note.

Did I have any criticisms.  Well, on the whole, I had a very easy time reading this.  I think the writing is confident and the dialogue was good – although I felt the prologue was perhaps a little weaker than the rest of the story.  I think my only real issue is that the ending felt a little abrupt.  I understand that this is a prequel to a series and so this is understandable in some respects, but, after reading about the MC’s exploits over the years and following his struggles on the battlefield I think I was expecting something more, whereas the epilogue felt a little bit like a slightly clunky introduction to the next book.  But, overall, that wasn’t a deal breaker.

I think that readers who enjoy a good blast of adventure stories mixed in with epic battles and rebellion led by a larger than life Viking-style MC who is easy to like, should check this out.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO Review : The Hammer of the Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

TheHammerThe Hammer of the Gods is a tongue in cheek adventure that pokes a little fun at many well known characters, myths and gods from the fantasy genre.

The author provides a warning to readers before the book begins so that you know exactly what to expect in terms of the raucous nature of some of the content and just to be on the safe side I will reinforce that message here.  This contains plenty of cursing and colourful language and can be rather crude in places.  Perhaps not to everyone’s taste in that respect.  By the same token humour can be difficult to pull off and can be affected by mood but I think the author, in keeping this story reasonably short, manages to maintain the tone consistently and I have to admit that pulling off this type of story is probably a lot more difficult than it at first appears so I have a lot of respect for the author and the effort involved.

I’m not going to elaborate too much on plot for The Hammer of the Gods.  Essentially the two main characters are Gudleik Sigbjornsson and Rosmerta O’Ceallaigh.  Both dream of a better future for themselves and long for something more. There are an abundance of other characters and storylines, so many in fact that I’m not going to recount them here – although I will give a shout out to the Goblins because they stole the show a little for me.  If you’re looking for a traditionally structured story where all the plots and threads eventually weave together then this might not be for you.  This is much more chaotic and perhaps in some ways speaks more to the author enjoying himself and going off into side stories that are not intended to further the plot or lead into anything specific.

The setting.  Well there is mention of King Arthur and an overall mediaeval feel to the world but at the same time it’s not really possible to pin this to anything too specific.  We have Gods from many different pantheons – even those of a tentacled nature (which feel almost Lovecraft-style).  Thor makes an appearance as does Loki and, well, you can barely chuck a stick without coming upon another fantasy character that you’re already familiar with.

The writing style is easy to get along with.  There is no pretension or purple prose although there were a few instances (only minor) where noticeable chunks of information were dropped that felt a little clunky.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I don’t want to give anything away here by way of spoilers so I’m going to be brief.  I think I enjoyed the start of the book more than the ending.  But, I also recognise that’s a personal need in myself as a reader and says more about the way I wanted things to go rather than the way the author had planned. For me, it felt a little rushed and in some ways a bit flat.  Again, I think more works are planned and so this is probably more an introductory piece in the series.  There is a certain busy/chaotic feel to the story which, again, I think I enjoyed more as the book began but then hoped would become a bit clearer as things progressed but again, that’s not really the style here.

Overall, this was a quick read and pretty much achieves what it sets out to do.  It provides a darkly humorous and slightly irreverent tale of adventure with bawdy jokes and creative cursing scattered throughout.

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy for review.  The above is my own opinion.

Top Ten Tuesday : Long book titles

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic :

Long Book Titles

I’m sure there are longer book titles out there but this is what I’ve come up with:

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

I’d Tell You I Loved You But Then I’d Have to Kill You  by Ally Carter

Let Me Tell you About a Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the psychic thief  by Lisa Tuttle

#SPFBO Review : Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

CalicoMy first book is Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez.  This is a book that I was very keen to tuck into.  I thought the cover was great and in actual fact it really does give a good representation of the contents plus I was really looking forward to reading about a circus with fantasy animals.

At just 200 pages this is probably one of the lighter books from my batch but that didn’t have an adverse impact on my enjoyment.  I really enjoyed Calico Thunder and I hope the author plans more escapades from the characters and fantasy beasts.  I would certainly like to read more.

Jake Strickland inherited a circus from his father and whilst this is new territory for him over the course of a few years he’s turned things around, the circus is doing well and for the first time Jake feels at ease. The Circus is holding its own and on a personal note Jake has formed a strong relationship with one of the entertainers (Grace) who manages the fantasy animals (Calico Thunder in particular).  Of course, it never pays to count your chickens (or griffins as the case may be) and Jake is called upon by a mobster boss who is about to call in an old debt and turn Jake’s world on its head.

Calico Thunder is set in an alternate 1920s America. Magic is very real, as are fantasy beasts and other unusual characters (such as Bruno – who is an enchanter for the Circus who can perform all sorts of magic such as contacting people through mirrors).  This gives the whole circus background a really interesting twist that I thoroughly enjoyed.  On top of this, many magic practices have been prohibited and this has led to an increase in crime, speakeasies popping up across the US selling any number of illegal charms and jinxes and driving the rise in criminal syndicates.

There are a number of aspects that I really enjoyed about this book.

I loved the era coupled with the circus setting.  The two worked so naturally together and the easy writing style captures the period remarkably well.  In fact, given the length of this I’m really impressed at the strength of feeling I developed for the show, the characters and the animals.

The plot is good if fairly simple – but I think the simplicity works here as the focus feels more on the characters who really do stand out from the page.  Jake finds himself in a very tricky situation with very little hope of success and the real possibility of losing the circus and characters that he has really come to care for and so the majority of the plot revolves around his desperate attempts to find a solution.

The characters are easy to like.  Jake and Grace work really well together forming a cohesive front in times of need.  Bruno is also really easy to like and lets just be honest – Calico Thunder is something of a show stealer.  And, all these attachments add to an overall sense of despair about how Jake will ever pull the rabbit out of the hat.

In terms of criticisms. Well, usually, when I’m really enjoying a book that feels relatively short, I’m greedy for more.  As it happens, I think the length of this works very well, yes, I would like more, of course I would, but this first instalment works very well in terms of feeling like a first episode and in that respect it gives the reader something else to look forward to.  I think the only real (although again, slight) issue I had was with the final chapters where the risk that Jake and Grace took didn’t feel quite as tense as I would have liked, and maybe a little too easily resolved.  That being said, I still had nerves enough on their behalf wondering whether everything would go smoothly or not.

I was blissfully unaware of the need to have a magic circus in my reading life and so this came as a very happy surprise.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  This has not affected my opinion.

Friday Face Off : Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

So, did everyone find this one easy or not??  I had a couple in mind, of course, the age old problem of only one cover reared its ugly head.  I still had a couple of possibilities but this week I went with a classic.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – which I really love.  Here are the covers:

Lots of hazy, misty mansions, graveyards and gateways.  I’ve gone for a very small selection of the covers here.  In terms of a favourite, difficult to choose this week but I’m going to go with the young man in the top hat:

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Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

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16th October – Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

23th October – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Two-Faced Queen, (The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings #2) by Nick Martell

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Two-Faced Queen,(The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings #2) by Nick Martell.  

TheTwoFacedQueenThe Hollows is gripped in unrest and on the brink of civil war as an insurgency of anarchists rise, and brother and sister vie for the throne in the second novel in the critically hailed Legacy of the Mercenary King series which Brandon Sanderson called “excellent.”

Michael Kingman thought he was going to die by the executioner’s axe, forever labeled as a traitor. Still alive, and under the protection of the Orbis Mercenary company, Michael and his family and friends are deeply involved in the seemingly rival conspiracies that are tearing The Hollows apart. With the death of the King, both the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena are vying for the throne, while the Rebel Emperor is spreading lies amongst the people, and all of them want Michael dead. This is a story of betrayal, murder, and rebellion, and in this direct sequel to the debut novel The Kingdom of Liars, also some hope for justice.

Expected publication : March 2021

The Invisible LIfe of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

InvisbleMy Five word TL:DR Review : A work of pure genius

I have to say I loved this book.  It’s an absolute tour de force.  On the face of it it isn’t a new concept, in fact it takes an old idea and gives it a life of it’s own.  We’ve all read books or watched movies where someone makes a deal with the devil right?  So, what makes this book stand out.  Well, I suppose it’s the nature of this particular deal – the devil is in the detail after all.

The year is 1714 and Adeline LaRue awaits her marriage with feelings of dread.  Addie doesn’t want to marry.  She’s lived in the same small village, Villon-sur-Sarthe, all her life.  She wants to travel, she wants to see Paris.  She doesn’t want to give up her freedom to fit in with others expectations.  Instead, she runs into the forest, calling on the Gods to help her, not realising that the sun has slowly set and that the only deities who answer during the darker hours are not the ones you want to strike bargains with.  But, the deal is done.  In return for her freedom Addie promises to give up her soul when she grows weary of the world.  What she doesn’t realise is her new found freedom is absolute.  Addie cannot make a mark on the world, people forget her as soon as they look away, she cannot be caught on camera or film, she can’t even write her own name.  She is indeed free but at the same time she can make no bonds, she can’t work or earn a living, buy a place to call her own or have a family.  Addie is cursed to go through life alone.

What I really loved about this book.  Well, firstly, the writing.  This book is a joy to read.  It took me probably a week to complete it which feels unusually slow, but that was simply a result of my wanting to savour the words.  This is polished, it’s confident and it’s absolutely beautiful.  On top of this it’s as though you can almost see how the kernel of an idea blossomed into something so lovely.  We all have sayings, we bandy them around more than we realise.  Be careful what you wish for.  The grass is always greener.  Live every day as though it was your last (or in Addie’s case as though it was your first).  Out of sight out of mind.  What if you took one of these and really built upon it, gave it wings and watched it take off.  Clearly, I have absolutely no idea where the original idea came from but I love the idea that such a wonderful story could come from such a simple beginning.

Secondly.  The main character, Addie.  She is just so good to read and it’s just as well because she is the MC and her timeline is split between her humble beginnings and the current day.  The two timelines eventually converge but in the meantime half of this reads like a work of historical fiction.  There are descriptions of clothes and places, all changing as the years pass, none more so than Addie’s home town which she is consistently drawn back to.  Addie witnesses death, the plague, wars, destruction and invention.  She is a witness to so much and although she can’t leave her own mark she finds that she can influence others.  Addie is a muse.  She appears in many paintings, her face usually turned away from the viewer or blurred as though through movement.  She has influenced music and art through the course of her 300 years and in spite of living so long, experiencing many difficulties and enduring loneliness, she manages to hold onto an innocence and childlike delight in the most simple things and it’s this that gives her such a special quality and timeless appeal.

In terms of characters.  There are of course many ‘small parts’ as the story progresses.  People who play a role in Addie’s life but are ultimately doomed to forget her as soon as the sun rises on a new day.

Henry Strauss is a young man who Addie meets in 2014 and who surprises her by remembering her the following day.  The two become involved in a beautiful, but at the same time, almost sad, relationship.  No matter which way you look at it, things are not going to be easy for any number of reasons.

Then we have Luc, the darkness, or the devil – although he certainly doesn’t refer to himself as such.  I’m not going to lie – I really liked this character even though I’m not sure if you’re supposed to like him.  He’s manipulative, powerful, full of menace, trickier than the fae, a fleeting thought, as elusive as shadow.  He wears a form that he knows is pleasing to Addie and every year he appears to ask for her soul – and every year she refuses to give it to him.  This is one of the really amazing ideas.  Addie has lived so long that in a strange twist it turns out she has much more in common with Luc than she ever imagined.  They are both immortal, both without friends, both lonely and as the years pass, they both look forward to their strange encounters and the battle of wills that has become their routine.  Both Addie and Luc enjoy great character growth as the story and their relationship progresses.

The settings.  Well, what can I say.  This is like an ode to travel.  I defy you to read this and not long to visit some of the places described.  New York, Paris, Munich, Venice.  They’re not overly described but they’re evocative nonetheless.  There is theatre, museums, galleries, cafes and secret clubs.  Rooftop bars and underground concerts.  Another wonder of reading. The ability to escape momentarily to fantastic places whether of this world or not – and this book is brilliant in that respect.

Anyway, I think I’ve probably waxed lyrical enough.  If you can’t figure it out for yourselves, then the long and short of it is that I really enjoyed The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 of 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday : Autumn Covers

Posted On 6 October 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic :

Book Covers with Autumn/Fall Covers

Easy this – lots and lots of covers – yay:

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

EmpireMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Will it all work out?

You’ll just have to read it and find out!

Okay, first things first.  Empire of Gold is the third and final instalment in the Daevabad Trilogy.  Let me be absolutely clear, this is not a series where you want to jump in mid series and for sure you cannot read The Empire of Gold without having read the first two instalments.  This series has plenty of lush worldbuilding, lots of history and plenty of well drawn characters.  The inspiration and motivation is palpable and you will miss out on a veritable wealth of goodness if you try to jump on board at this point – well, at best you’ll miss out – at worst you’ll be in a positive world of hurt with absolutely no idea what’s going on.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

So, this isn’t an easy review to write being the final in the series.  I seriously don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’m just going to chuck a few random thoughts and feelings around and let them land where they may.

At the end of book 2 I was quite literally gobsmacked.  You could have knocked me over with a feather with that ending.  I had no idea how this was going to go, in fact I just couldn’t see how the author was going to get out of the hole this one found itself in.  But, I think I can safely say this ending managed to blow me away.

Still in Daevaba Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and Dara are trying to recover from the outcome of No.2.  They’re trying to rally, magic has vanished although certain parties still have power.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (aka Cairo) Ali and Nairi are also trying to regroup.  Both of them are struggling but they mind to find help in an old ally and in fact there is almost a rosy future for them should they choose to take that path.  The choices.  Stay in Cairo, learn how to make a living as an apothecary, enjoy life, become a couple, live happily ever after, or return to Daevabad and live under the tyrant who is now in control and who has made such despicable choices.  Now, let me think?  Peace, happiness and love or death and destruction.  Well, obviously this would be a much shorter book if they took the easy route wouldn’t it?

Characters.  Well, everyone is back in force and then some and I’m pleased to say that the character growth is great.  These are such great characters because they’re not simply good or bad.  Who is after all?  They’ve made mistakes – some of them are very big, huge, bloopers.  But, some of them are trying to work through these and make reparations of sorts.  Some are bitter.  Some are guilty.  You get the picture I’m sure.

World building.  I loved this world.  I love the juxtaposition between the everyday world sitting alongside the magical and mythical Daevabad.  The thing is, both have their pluses, both have their minuses and it gives a new meaning ‘to the grass always being greener’ – because maybe it isn’t.  You cross over from one to the other and still life goes on.  People live, people die, people fight and people love. But, I do love the way this author manages to conjure a sense of place whether you’re in the mundane or the magical.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have anything, I think this maybe could have been a bit drawn out in places, but I can’t say that made me hesitant to continue reading and I love the way that one of these storylines could lead to something quite different if the author chose to go in that direction.

Overall, this was a very satisfying ending.  If pushed I would say that the middle book was probably my favourite (what middle book syndrome?) but this is an ending that I simply couldn’t foresee.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

#SPFBO – My Next Steps

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

So, this is slightly new territory for me in that this year I’ve left all my possible books to the final month to read and review and I’ve decided to leave things fairly loose.  To be honest I’d like to read all 10 books before choosing semi-finalists but I’m also conscious that time is moving on and I need to keep on top of things and not leave everything to the last few days.  With that in mind I’m going to provide an update after I’ve completed the first five books, 

And, the following (not listed in any particular order) are the books that I will be reading (slight spoiler alert, in case you’re thinking this seems like a lot to get through I can say I’ve already completed three of these so hopefully my first update will come on swift wings

  1. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier
  2. Voice of War by Zack Argyle
  3. The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick
  4. The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran
  5. Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley
  6. Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez
  7. The Usurper (Brutal Saga #0.50) by James Alderdice
  8. The Hammer Of The Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe
  9. Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall
  10. Incursion by Mitchell Hogan

On a final note – if any of my authors have audio versions available and would like me to check those out then just leave me a comment.

Good luck to everyone.

#SPFBO : My Fifth/Final Batch of Books – Update

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1, batch 2, batch 3 and Batch 4 by clicking on the  links:

As with previous years I will read a batch of books each month.  I will read at least 30% (or 100 pages) and hopefully will choose one or two books from each batch to roll forward and read fully and review before choosing semi finalists and a finalist. 

This batch of books made for good reading and some very difficult choices.  Unfortunately I can’t carry all the books forward so as ever there will be cuts with my sincere apologies to those authors.   

Long Stories

Long Stories: Early Immortals and the Birth of Death by) by Evan Witmer 

This is an unusual story primarily focusing on Death.  Basically, God created Death to kill the Immortals.  Primarily these immortals are made up of vampires, but there are also witches, and others that are swelling the numbers of long lived bodies down on Earth. Death teleports round the world finding his next victims and eliminating them swiftly before burying the bodies. 

Eventually, all the immortals bar one have been eliminated.  Lucy.  Lucy is a very strange case, over 100 years old but she is still a child and Death finds it impossible to kill her.

Unfortunately this one didn’t quite work out for me.  I struggled to get a feel for the characters or understand where the story was going.  To the point I read up to it felt like a series of anecdotes that jumped back and forth in time relating Death’s encounters. There’s a tongue in cheek tone and a very surreal feel and I’m surprised that this didn’t work out for me given all the fantasy elements but I was unable to connect with it.

Conclusion : Cut

 

Tuyo

Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier

I’m not reviewing Tuyo at the moment as I’ve decided to carry this one forward.

Conclusion: roll forward

 

Voiceof

Voice of War by Zack Argyle

I’m also not reviewing Voice of War as I want to read further.

Conclusion : roll forward

 

Flightof

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

Again, no review at this point as I would like to continue reading.

Conclusion : roll forward

 

War Bringer

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges

I must say that I enjoyed reading War Bringer to the point I read up to.  This is a world inhabited by creatures known as the Tangata.  The Tangata seem intent on destroying mankind, they are strong, fast and feral and they are gathering their forces to launch what feels like a final attack.

The story has three clear threads.  Romaine is a warrior.  His homeland has been invaded and destroyed by the Tangata.  We first meet Romaine whilst he’s on a foray into the wild.  He and his captain and party follow Tangata tracks into the wild where they manage to survive an attack and rescue a woman who is alone in the wild.    Erika is an Archivist for the Queen.  She believes that ancient artefacts are the key to defeating the Tangata and seeks these artefacts out.  Whilst on such a mission Erika finds what appears to be a map that provides the location of other ancient sites.  She also finds a magic gauntlet although it’s unclear what the gauntlet can actually do at this point.  Finally, Lukys.  He’s a new recruit, sent to the frontier.  After surviving a brutal Tangata attack he has decided that his best hope is to seek help from Romaine.

I thought this had a good pace and the three storylines worked very well in taking the story forward.  I enjoyed the style and I’m definitely curious about the history and would like to know more about the Tangata.

In terms of criticism.  The only thing that occurred to me was that considering how deadly the Tangata were Romaine seemed to deal with them remarkably well – which kind of belied the threat a little for me.

Overall I would like to read this one at a later date and review more fully.

Conclusion : cut 

 

Exile

 

Exile was another enjoyable read.  It has a slightly generic feel with a mediaeval backdrop, castles, nobles and an old school swords and sorcery feel. 

The MC, Aron, is a sell sword.  He gets into bother as the story sets off when he kills a man and is taken prisoner by the local Earl.  The Earl of Nandor’s son has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by their enemy.  Aron has unwittingly killed the Earl’s champion and so finds himself pressed into service as part of a rescue party.

I didn’t have any trouble getting into this story but I had a couple of issues.  Firstly, I was puzzled by the Earl – he sends another noble on the mission to lead the party, but this same noble is hoping to marry one of the Earl’s daughters and basically, if the Earl’s son and heir fails to return, said marriage will result in this noble becoming the next Earl.  This seems like a real conflict to me, surely this man would be more than happy for the mission to fail and if the Earl can’t see this himself then I don’t understand why not.

Also, there are a number of romantic threads so far – which I don’t have a problem with as such – other than it seems that the Earl’s wife and both his daughters are making a play for Aron and it felt a little over the top.  It also gave me misgivings about Aron as he seemed just to go with the flow making out with whoever/whenever.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, I enjoyed the writing and was actually starting to like Aron at the point I concluded reading but it didn’t stand above the other books from this batch that I’ve decided to roll forward.

Conclusion : cut

 

midlich

Mid-Lich Crisis by Steve Thomas 

This was another enjoyable book.  I dual read and listened to this one as I had a copy of both versions and I must say that the audio version is very well done.

I’m not reviewing at this point as I would like to conclude the book and review fully but at this stage I won’t be rolling this forward in terms of the competition simply because this batch has some very strong contenders.

Conclusion : cut

 

My thanks to all the authors who have taken part. I’ve had some very good books in my lot and will be providing an update tomorrow about the rest of my process going forward.

#SPFBO 6 – Cover love (11)

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  This year I’m aiming to shine a little bit of focus on some of the books either through posting excerpts to act as teasers for potential readers or through posting some of the covers and highlighting the book that way (not just for my own books but other entries).  The invitation is open to all authors from the competition – if you’d like to post an excerpt then give me a shout in the comments (also, if you’ve contacted me recently and I’ve not responded please give me a(nother) shout, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of my comments have gone straight to Spam or Pending so I may have overlooked something.

As part of the competition there is a cover contest.  The details can be found here.

So, this week’s chosen SPFBO covers are below – I think a couple of these, maybe even all three, are aimed at a younger audience.  The first cover – the guy in the background is a bit creepy for sure but I like the overall effect, I very much like the style of the middle cover, it really draws the eye and I love the quirky font.  The third cover made me smile, I love the huge character with the green hair, well placed tree cover and bird feet.  Do you have a favourite?

Friday Face Off : A Standout Font

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

A Standout Font

I think everyone should be able to find something good for this week’s theme.  I had one specific book in mind for this week’s topic, I might have used this book for a different prompt but I couldn’t resist.  I’m facing off two sets of covers.  This week The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff:

vs

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

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9th October – Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

16th October – Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

23th October – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

Witch by Finbar Hawkins

Posted On 1 October 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 8 responses

WitchMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Beautiful, brutal, tale of revenge

Witch is an unusual story set in a particularly frightening period of history when women and children were taken from their homes and brutalised on the most flimsy of pretexts.  

I will start this review just by mentioning that there will be triggers for some readers amongst these pages, the opening chapters in fact contain the murder of Evey and Dill’s mother and being set in a time of civil war definitely gives this book a feeling of things being on a knife edge, like bloody violence is a real possibility that could erupt with almost any turn of the page.  This isn’t a sweet, or Disney style take on witches so be aware.

As the story begins, as mentioned, Dill and Evey witness (from afar) the murder of their mother at the hands of men accusing her of witchcraft.  The two girls run and hide and their mother makes Evey promise to take her little sister to their aunt for safety’s sake.  Evey is hellbent on revenge, consumed by the need for it in fact and this is the fuel for the majority of the story.

In terms of plot, well this really is as simple as I’ve mentioned above.  This is a tale of one girl’s determination to avenge her dead mother.  Of course there are ups and downs, mistakes and mishaps along the way, usually driven by Evey’s lack of planning or impulsive and often times reckless behaviour.  

The characters.  Evey is an angry young woman.  She’s angry about her mother’s death, she’s angry at her newfound responsibility, she’s angry that her mother seemed to favour Dill to such an extent that she left her scrying stone to Dill instead of her.  There’s a complexity of emotions running amok, anger, jealousy, resentment, sorrow, and this makes Evey a difficult and complex character.  I liked that she could be sometimes annoying, it lends her the cloak of reality.  Dill is the sweet younger sister.  She’s much more measured and self assured.  She has an affinity with animals and seems to be more like her mother than Evey.  We have another character called Anne, daughter to a nobleman Anne carried a lot of sorrow which makes her desire to help Evey a littler easier to understand.  There is perhaps an element of ‘insta-friendship’ going on here but I went with it given the element of sadness that both characters shared.

Without doubt, for me, the winning element of this book is also maybe the element that will put some readers off – the style of writing.  It’s beautiful, lyrical, haunting, atmospheric and simple.  It seems to capture the time and voice of the period and I loved reading it.  It’s also a strange counterbalance to the violence it depicts, it’s as though I was enjoying the author’s style so much that it sometimes belied the events unfolding on the page.  It feels old fashioned and yet accessible.  I think it maybe took me a few pages to get into the style but then I was pretty much swept away and I read the book in one sitting, unable to put it down.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing major.  The fantasy elements only really come into play during the last few chapters, up to that point this could be a historical novel depicting a period where women were persecuted for being strong or resourceful.  I think the plot is very simple, but, again, I didn’t find this a problem as I was enjoying the way in which the story is told more than the drama of what was taking place. 

In conclusion, I enjoyed Witch.  I would say that it was quite different from what I was expecting – and I’m not sure why that is, perhaps the cover (which I love by the way) maybe led me to think this would be a much lighter take on witches when the reality is quite the opposite. A beautifully grim depiction of harsh times and the strength found in friendship and sisterhood.  

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday : Guess the quote?

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic :

Favorite Book Quotes

I’ve gone a little off topic this week, well, I’m using movie quotes instead of book quotes – although some of these may well have been book quotes first.  Also, just to be a big tease I’m not putting the films these quotes are taken from – see how many you’re familiar with (and share the number – not the titles – in the comments):

1.“Oh, it’s quite simple. If you are a friend, you speak the password, and the doors will open.”

2. “Inconceivable”

3. “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys god. Man creates dinosaurs.” / “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.”

4. “No one would have believed, in the middle of the 20th century, that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s.”

5. “Robert Neville looked out over the new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in his pain. … Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.”

6. “They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially ‘colonised’ it. So technically, I colonised Mars.  In your face, Neil Armstrong!”

7. “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!

8. “the children of the night. What sweet music they make.”

9. “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcyle”

10 Do you have a favourite quote that you fall into automatically??

The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Posted On 28 September 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 20 responses

PhlebMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Absolutely Bloody Brilliant, pun intended.

The Phlebotomist is a book that really took me by storm.  To be fair I read a glowing review for this over on Books Bones and Buffy but even so, and even though I requested a review copy, I felt a little hesitant about picking this up.  I think it’s all to do with my reading mood, the way it fluctuates without warning and the current pandemic situation which I cannot deny has greatly affected my emotions and ability to settle down.  Then along comes the Phlebotomist to laugh in the face of all of that and just provide a really damned good bit of respite from the everyday mundane.

Seriously, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one (yes, I read a review but it was very secretive and gave little away – apart from the fact that this is good).  And, to be honest, I’m going to give very little away too, in fact I’m not really going to go overboard on the plot but will look at world and characters instead.

The Phlebotomist is set in a fairly near future (2060s??).  Our worst fears have been recognised and war and nuclear blasts have changed the way we live.  There are grey zones that still suffer from the fallout and people who desperately need blood to help them recover.  Patriot is an organisation that harvests blood – your country needs you!  And, depending on your blood type, your life can be one of relative luxury or incredibly tough with barely enough food to survive.  Areas are divided by blood types with the most affluent areas being inhabited by those with the most sought after blood types.

Enter the scene Willa Wallace.  I love this woman  Willia is the Phlebotomist.  She’s old enough to remember the world pre nuclear blast and she still likes ‘old school’ methods when it comes to a lot of things.  She is responsible for her grandson, her own daughter having passed away, and she works for Patriot as a Reaper – sounds grim eh? (Ha, another pun).  Willa collects blood, but she doesn’t just go through the motions, she’s smart, she likes to read (high five Willa) and she has common sense.  Unwittingly, Willy stumbles into ‘something’ and that’s when things start to go pear shaped.  I won’t elaborate further other than to say this went in a direction I never saw coming and I loved it.

The other characters. Well, we have an ex marine called Lock (short for the Locksmith) who is basically a hacker.  Lock uses old technology to stay under the radar, she has a number of hideouts and her main priority is the group of ragtag children that she’s taken under her wing and cares for.  Everard is a bit of a tough character, he’s not above committing crimes, he might have a tweak of conscience about it but he’s prepared to make hard choices when it comes to keeping the children safe.  The other character is Kathy, I can’t say too much about her because of spoilers but she’s great and I have to say these three females just about made my day.

Long story short I really enjoyed this.  I couldn’t wait to pick it up, it was entertaining, fast paced, high octane, bloody, and violent, in places and emotional.  What a ride.

The writing is really good.  Panatier strikes a perfect blend between those tense moments where you’re holding your breath and then the relief that swiftly follows.  He provides clear information about the world and the way of life.  He provides his cast with very ‘real’ motivations and he manages to provoke heartfelt emotion.  On top of this there is much drama and over the top heist style scenes that give you a real rush – not to mention woohoo moments.

Okay, I enjoyed this.  Maybe you can tell.  It just give me a real boost.

In terms of criticisms.  The only thing I can think of is that some of the tech info felt a little bit less like a conversation and more like a convenient way to quickly deliver all the knowledge in one swift chunk.  It’s not something that bothered me though.

High speed chases through the air, corporate conniving, conspiracy theories, do we really know how the other half lives?  It’s all here. I would read more of this world without hesitation in fact I strongly hope that more is forthcoming and I can only hope this gets optioned for adaptation, it would be great on the big screen.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating : 5 stars

#SPFBO : My Fifth/Final Batch of Books

Posted On 26 September 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 14 responses

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1, batch 2, batch 3 and Batch 4 by clicking on the  links:

As with previous years I will read a batch of books each month.  I will read at least 30% (or 100 pages) and hopefully will choose one or two books from each batch to roll forward and read fully and review before choosing semi finalists and a finalist.  My book list is chosen randomly.  This month I will  have 7 books to check out (as I carried MidLich Crisis over in order to wait for the audio copy to become available).  I’m hoping to complete all of these fairly swiftly and provide an update asap (in fact I’ve already started reading in order to get a little ahead.  Expect my next update fairly quickly, maybe in another week or so if things go according to plan.

Long Stories

Long Stories: Early Immortals and the Birth of Death by) by Evan Witmer 

Immortals have infested the Earth, using dark magic to stay alive eternally. God creates an assassin, Death, to teleport around the world and kill them off one by one. All goes according to plan till Death meets Lucy, an adorable little girl that’s over a century old. Unable to cut her to bits, Death finds another way…

Author Info

Twitter : @FictionOdd

Tuyo

Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier

Raised a warrior in the harsh winter country, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family and his tribe. When war erupts against the summer country, the prospect of death in battle seems imminent. But when his warleader leaves Ryo as a sacrifice — a tuyo — to die at the hands of their enemies, he faces a fate he never imagined.

Ryo’s captor, a lord of the summer country, may be an enemy . . . but far worse enemies are moving, with the current war nothing but the opening moves in a hidden game Ryo barely glimpses, a game in which all his people may be merely pawns. Suddenly Ryo finds his convictions overturned and his loyalties uncertain. Should he support the man who holds him prisoner, the only man who may be able to defeat their greater enemy? And even if he does, can he persuade his people to do the same?

Author Info

Website : http://www.rachelneumeier.com/

Voiceof

Voice of War by Zack Argyle

Chrys Valerian is a threadweaver, a high general, and soon-to-be father. But to the people of Alchea, he is the Apogee—the man who won the war.

When a stranger’s prophecy foretells danger to Chrys’ child, he must do everything in his power to protect his family—even if the most dangerous enemy is the voice in his own head.

To the west, a sheltered girl seeks to find her place in the world.

To the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.

Together, they will change the world—whether they intend to or not.

Author Info

Twitter : SFFAuthor

Website : https://www.zackargyle.com/blog

Flightof

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

Impossible world. Impossible dragon. Impossible adventure.

Lost with her ship and crew in an unfamiliar land, Min’s first command could be her last.

Nothing here behaves the way it should:

The magic that powers her skyship has been drained, rendering it immobile.

The sky is an endless twilight, lit by the luminous fish that swim in it.

Off starboard, there’s also the country-sized dragon that is looking particularly hungry.

It will take all of Min’s training and experience to get her people safely back home, but as the truth about the Darkstar Dimension begins to be revealed, Min will have to prove to her crew – and to herself – that she is still the best person for the job.

Author Info

Twitter : benedictpaddy

Website : http://www.benedictpatrick.com

War Bringer

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artefacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not the only thing waiting beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Author Info

Twitter : aarondhodges

Website : http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz/

Exile

Exile by Martin Owton

Aron of Darien, raised in exile after his homeland is conquered by a treacherous warlord, makes his way in the world on the strength of his wits and skill with a sword. Both are sorely tested when he is impressed into the service of the Earl of Nandor to rescue his heir from captivity in the fortress of Sarazan. The rescue goes awry. Aron and his companions are betrayed and must flee for their lives. Pursued by steel and magic, they find new friends and old enemies on the road that leads, after many turns, to the city of the High King. There Aron must face his father’s murderer before risking everything in a fight to the death with the deadliest swordsman in the kingdom

Author Info

Website : http://www.martinowton.com

Mid-Lich Crisis by Steve Thomas – I posted information about this book in Batch 2 which you can check out by clicking on the link.

That’s it for this month.  Good luck to all the authors.

#SPFBO 6 – Cover love (10)

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  This year I’m aiming to shine a little bit of focus on some of the books either through posting excerpts to act as teasers for potential readers or through posting some of the covers and highlighting the book that way (not just for my own books but other entries).  The invitation is open to all authors from the competition – if you’d like to post an excerpt then give me a shout in the comments (also, if you’ve contacted me recently and I’ve not responded please give me a(nother) shout, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of my comments have gone straight to Spam or Pending so I may have overlooked something.

As part of the competition there is a cover contest.  The details can be found here.

So, this week’s chosen SPFBO covers are below, this week is all about the dragons. Take a look and see if you have a favourite:

Dragonmage

ADreamof

Dragonv

Friday Face Off : A Cover Bursting with Detail

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

A very busy cover full to bursting with detail

I thought this week’s theme was a little easier than last week’s which for some reason I struggled with (minimalist covers) – this week the theme went to the extreme opposite by seeking a busy cover.  I went for a book I read some time ago, the cover from the version I read has all sorts of little details that pick up things from the book.  This week my books is Tempest Rising (Jane True #1)by Nicole Peeler and here are the covers:

The first cover is the one that I had in mind for this week’s theme.  It has all sorts of little details around the outskirts, coffins, critters, strings of lights, serpents.  Then we have the central picture of the main character which also has plenty of detail – right down to the fact that you can see her legs beneath the surface of the water.  This is definitely my favourite:

Tempest1

I think this cover also provides a good idea of the sort of read you’ll be getting into.  Light, fun, supernatural, not too serious.  To be honest, it was a book that I enjoyed at the time so perhaps I should have read more.  

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – A standout font

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

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2nd October – A standout font

9th October – Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

16th October – Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

23th October – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

#SPFBO : My Fourth Batch of Books : Update

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  You can find my first batch of books here and my update here,,my second batch of books and update here and here and my third batch of books plus update. Today I will be providing feedback on my fourth batch of books.

As with previous years I will read a batch of books each month.  I will read at least 30% (or approx 100 pages) and hopefully will choose one or two books from each batch to roll forward and read fully and review before choosing semi finalists and a finalist.  My book list is chosen randomly and the six books I will be reading this month are outlined below. Below are my thoughts with apologies to those authors whose books have been cut:

Rise of the Forgotten Sun (The Sun and the Raven #1) by Jon Monson 

Riseofthe

Rise of The Forgotten Sun gets off to an interesting start. We meet Prince Aydiin who is travelling solo through the desert on a mission that he volunteered for. Aydiin’s uncle has been committing rebellious acts against the Sultan (Aydiin’s father) and Aydiin is hoping to find his uncle and negotiate peace – or at least that’s what he tells his uncle when he finally encounters him. Instead the Prince captures his uncle and plans to execute him immediately. Aydiin’s father however has other ideas and commands the Prince to return the rebel to the capital for trial and this is when things go wrong.

The Prince has come into possession of a strange gold coin that seems to be a map of the stars directing the bearer to a legendary tower in the heart of the Soulless Desert – nobody who enters the Soulless Desert returns but Aydiin isn’t deterred and he persuades his friend Barrick to accompany him on a treasure hunt. Of course this means deferring his trip back to the capital with his prisoner until he returns. – what could possibly go wrong.

Well, the two eventually find the tower, in spite of difficulty along the way and they discover a magical stone that seems to be absorbed (or transferred into Aydiin’s body) upon his touch. Finally, returning to the capital with their prisoner the train they are travelling on is ambushed and Aydiin’s uncle escapes leaving the Prince to face the wrath of the Sultan.

I found this an entertaining read to the point at which I broke off, it certainly has plenty going on and a fairly consistently rigorous pace. There is almost an Arabian Nights feel to the setting with plenty of imaginative elements thrown in such as intelligent and loyal dinosaurs (well one at least so far), gadgets that make me think steampunk and elements such as trains and guns and items of clothing such as Bowler Hats, which make me place this as a maybe 19th century read (could be very wrong with that guess though).

This very much has a fun style adventure feel at the moment although given the chapters I concluded on I think things are set to change dramatically.

In terms of criticisms. There is a lightness about this, a lack of the sort of detail that sometimes I want and notice when it’s not there. Some of the situations Aydiin finds himself in felt too easily resolved and lacked tension or a real sense of threat. But, as I already said, I think this could be a fun, over the top, fast paced adventure that will appeal to others.

Conclusion : Cut

The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran

Childof

This is going to be quick. I started The Child of Silence and cannot deny my immediate impressions were not favourable in spite of an interesting premise. The writing felt a little bloated and it was slowing down my reading. But, I also can’t deny that as I continued to my allocated cut off point I was becoming hooked as things started to take off and so I’ve decided to continue with this one and see if it continues to work it’s magic on me.

Conclusion : roll forward

Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley

Trial

I have to say that I’m also really enjoying Trial of Thorns at the moment so I’m going to continue reading for now.

Conclusion : roll forward

Emma and the Minotaur (World of Light, #1) by Jon Herrera

Emma

Emma and the Minotaur is (I think – but please correct me if I’m wrong) a MG story about a young girl who goes on a quest with a friend to find the truth about people who are going missing.

To the point I finished reading I found this an enjoyable story (with a couple of slight reservations).

Emma is a spirited young girl with an active imagination about magicians and aliens. Her father is a professor and she seems to take after him in terms of intelligence. Emma takes a liking to a sad young boy at school who is always alone and decides early on that she’s going to befriend him. It turns out that the young boy is sad because his father has gone missing. The two decide to embark on a quest that involves a relentless search of the neighbouring forest.

As I mentioned above this is a good, easy to read, well written story that managed to pique my curiosity. Emma can be a little over zealous sometimes but I put that down to her age and intelligence – she is always coming up with ‘plans’ and they’re not always the most appropriate.

In terms of criticisms – the only thing that gave me a few misgivings was that there were a few occasions where Emma’s recklessness made me wonder whether she was setting a good example for younger readers reading her story – I realise that probably sounds a bit odd but, for example, on one occasion she goes into the forest alone at night, even though she’s been told not to do so – simply because it’s a short cut. On another few occasions both Emma and her friend leave the school premises at lunch time. It just made me worry a little. There’s also the usual trope of the missing parents – this seems to be something that I find is heavily relied upon in fiction and it feels a little overused.

On the whole, little issues aside, I thought this was a good adventure story that seems to have a lot of promise.

Conclusion : Cut

Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez

Calico

Calico Thunder Rides Again has really impressed me so far. I’ve already read just over half so I won’t be reviewing it at this point.

Conclusion : roll forward

Shifter Shadows by Anthony Stevens

Shifter

Shifter Shadows is another book that surprised me and I found myself enjoying it to the extent that I read over and above what I originally intended. This is an unusual story. As the book begins we go way back when, following a tribe of native Americans – I will just say that my knowledge here is sketchy so I’m not going to elaborate on what period this may have come from – although early parts of the story show the tribe living in caves and also there is mention of cave drawings. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, it was really interesting seeing the people, their interactions and the way that some of them connected to a spirit animal that allowed them to borrow it’s form and shape shift. These earlier chapters obviously provide the background to the supernatural elements and show how history progressed with settlers, etc.

We then jump forward to a modern day setting and make the acquaintance of a number of different people and their stories as they become aware or awaken – to their own abilities – and these storylines eventually come together.

I’m not going to elaborate on all the characters. We are introduced to quite a few, quite a lot of young people coming into their new abilities and finding the limitations of what they can and can’t do. At the same time there is a background feel that things are escalating somehow, and that these shapeshifters are about to be revealed (although I’m not sure if that is the case or not). At the same time there is a serial killer storyline that demonstrates a couple of things – that there are bad people everywhere and that the shifters ‘police’ their own – otherwise their secret won’t last for long.

In terms of criticisms. Some of the jumps in the story felt a little abrupt. In the earlier parts reading from one chapter to the next the timeline would jump forward many years at a time. Regarding the more modern day storyline, there are a lot of people introduced in fairly short order, I didn’t find this a problem although I sometimes felt that the relationships were a little too quickly formed and the Otherkin (shifters) were maybe a little too trusting in some respects – which felt a little wrong given the secrets they must keep.

Slight criticisms aside, I enjoyed reading this and would like to return to the story after the competition to see how things unfold and write a fuller review.

Conclusion : Cut

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is from an author that I’ve read two books from already and really enjoyed so I’ve been keeping an eye out for what was coming up next : The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor.  Just feast your eyes on this:

TheBurningAn unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

Expected Publication : January/February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday : Books On My Autumn/Fall 2020 TBR

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic :

Books On My Autumn/Fall 2020 TBR 

Fairly straightforward this week, my only problem is having more than 10 books to choose from (good problems to have right?):

 

A Wizard’s Sacrifice by AM Justice

AWizardsVictoria of Ourtown believes two things: that the bright, wandering star in the heavens is an abandoned spacecraft which brought her ancestors to this world and that destiny and the will of gods are nonsense. Vic used to scoff at stories of wizards too, until she acquired their powers. Once a warrior, now a secret wizard, she just wants to live an ordinary life and find a way to atone for the mistakes she’s made.

Ashel of Narath knows that the wandering star is the god who created humanity, but this difference of opinion doesn’t stop him from loving Vic. All that keeps them apart is a thousand miles and a tragic loss.

Lornk Korng needs Vic and Ashel to execute his plans for conquest. The fact both want him dead is but a trifling snag in his schemes. A bigger problem are the world’s indigenous aliens and an ancient enemy whose victory could wipe out humankind.

As plots and counterplots clash across time, Vic and Ashel must choose their allies carefully, or risk losing not only each other but everything they know.

A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

 

Witch by Finbar Hawkins

WitchSet in the 17th century, a breathtaking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us.

After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe.

As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny?

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue be VE Schwab

InvisbleFrance, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.

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Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

magiclessonsIn an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling

 

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

AWitchA young woman in Belle Epoque France is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — botches a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly binds Juliet to the artist through time, damning her to re-live her affair and die tragically young lifetime after lifetime as the star-crossed lovers reincarnate through history.

Luke Varner, the worldly demon tasked with maintaining this badly crafted curse, has been helplessly in love with his charge, in all her reincarnations, since 19th century France. He’s in love with Nora, a silver screen starlet in 1930s Hollywood. He’s in love with Sandra, a struggling musician in 1970s Los Angeles. And he’s in love with Helen, a magazine exec in present-day DC who has the power to “suggest” others do her bidding.

In this life, Helen starts to recall the curse and her tragic previous lives. But this time, she might have the power to break the cycle…

 

The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk

MidnightBeatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

 

The Nesting by CJ Cooke

NestingIt was like something out of a fairytale…

The grieving widower.
The motherless daughters.
A beautiful house in the woods.

Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it’s as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale

But this family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory.

Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don’t make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.

With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.

But protect them from what?

 

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

TheonceandIn 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

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The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides

TheThousanddeaths“I’m hiring you to steal the king’s crown.”

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.

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The Diabolical Bones by Bella Ellis

DiabolicalHaworth Parsonage, February 1846: The Bront� sisters– Anne, Emily, and Charlotte–are busy with their literary pursuits. As they query publishers for their poetry, each sister hopes to write a full-length novel that will thrill the reading public. They’re also hoping for a new case for their fledgling detecting enterprise, Bell Brothers and Company solicitors. On a bitterly cold February evening, their housekeeper Tabby tells them of a grim discovery at Scar Top House, an old farmhouse belonging to the Bradshaw family. A set of bones has been found bricked up in a chimney breast inside the ancient home.

Tabby says it’s bad doings, and dark omens for all of them. The rattled housekeeper gives them a warning, telling the sisters of a chilling rumour attached to the family. The villagers believe that, on the verge of bankruptcy, Clifton Bradshaw sold his soul to the devil in return for great riches. Does this have anything to do with the bones found in the Bradshaw house? The sisters are intrigued by the story and feel compelled to investigate. But Anne, Emily, and Charlotte soon learn that true evil has set a murderous trap and they’ve been lured right into it…

 

The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie

TheTroubleMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Let Them Eat Cake

Okay, that’s only four words and also maybe a strange way to start a review but tbh I think it fits perfectly with the themes in this book (nay, series) – or maybe more apt would be Cromwell’s ‘In the Name of God, go’.

This has to be one of the most appropriately named books that I can think of, at this particular moment in time at least (and funnily enough, looking back at my review of A Little Hatred I said the exact same thing about that book too – has Abercrombie been blessed by the God of Book Naming?

The Trouble With Peace is that people start to realise how dissatisfied they are with the smaller things in life that seemed less important when their lives were threatened by war.  The Trouble With Peace is that it makes heroes dissatisfied with their everyday lives, undertaking mundane tasks that are brushed aside in times of strife, longing for the sword and the blood that follows.  The Trouble With Peace is it makes people feel over confident in their own abilities, strutting around like peacocks, preening their feathers and dreaming of yet more glory (or money).  The Trouble With Peace is people forget just how bloody awful times of war really are and start to look upon such times with fondness and rose tinted glasses.  The (real) Trouble With Peace is that it’s a fleeting notion – wars happen regardless (as history shows us), bodies are hacked savagely, desperate pleas for mercy are cried out amongst the mud, blood and tears and disastrous mistakes are made.

I thoroughly enjoyed this second instalment by Joe Abercrombie.  It builds up a veritable mass of tension.  It’s thick with plots and behind door whisperings, clandestine meetings and murmurs of treason.  Of course, before you get too worried that this is all about political posturing and dastardly machinations, let me reassure you that this doesn’t lack the banter or  battle scenes that this author is renowned for and both are near the knuckle and brutal.

I’m not going to really elaborate on the plot for this one.  I will say that some books in a trilogy suffer from middle book syndrome and act purely as a platform between book 1 and 3 – this is not one of those books.

The characters we became familiar with in the first book in series are here again and this is something that Abercrombie excels at.  I might not love all these characters but I unreservedly love the way they’re written.

Savine dan Glokta is probably one of my favourites.  She is a cold blooded, manipulating so and so – I love her.  Let’s be honest, she develops a slightly more soft and fluffy side here (by which I mean she is still a manipulating so and so, but maybe a touch, a teensy tad bit, more vulnerable).  I did love the relationship that she strikes up (not going to spoil it though, my lips are sealed). It  has the feel of master and pupil to it but regardless I just liked it, it turned me into a mushy crust instead of a crusty crust.

Stour Nightfall. Let’s be honest, here’s a guy who is literally one consonant away from being sour.  This is one nasty pasty – don’t underestimate him.  Ruthless but also maybe a bit blinkered in the nonchalant way he’s drumming up enemies.

Leo dan Brock.  Here’s a character I want to shake.  He’s not a bad guy, really.  He’s downright likable but at the same time by God he’s easily manipulated.  I cannot deny that I like this character and at the same time completely despair of him. Could you be any less diplomatic!!

Rikke.  Another character that I just love to read about – okay, there are parts in this instalment where I was like ‘what?’, ‘NOOOOOOO’.  But, then again, on reflection, perhaps I needed the ‘long eye’ to see my way clear.  Her character arc is brilliant, a joy to read in fact, and probably one of those elements of the series that I should have taken notes – so I could look back and have all the ‘ah hah, I knew it!’ moments during the grand finale even if I knew nothing all along.

Orso.  Another firm favourite.  If anybody is more deserving of sympathy and understanding then I don’t know who it is.  Could he be more misunderstood?  The poor fella seems to get the brunt of everything, I swear that if he said the sea was wet he’d be lambasted and thrown into the stocks..  But, he’s becoming a lot more adept? cynical? – like anyone else I suppose, time and repetition start to make everything seem a little more commonplace and he’s started to get tired of being a small cog in a large machine.

There are obviously more characters but this isn’t a dissertation so I’ll curb my chattiness right here.

Basically, to avoid doubt, yes, I really enjoyed this.  The writing is plain good, the banter and dialogue made me want to laugh and cry, the plot is more mixed up than a bag of sand, the characters inspire love and hate, there isn’t a lot of actual fantasy elements, and in some respects it feels more like a snippet of history where the real magic revolved around basic superstition but, what can I say, this was a very fine read indeed.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Kept From Cages by Phil Williams

Kept From CagesMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Fast Paced, Action Packed Adventure

Kept from Cages is an addictive read that is difficult to put down and at just under 300 pages I almost devoured this ‘monster-style’ : aka in one huge chunk swallowed whole.

Phil Williams is the author of urban fantasy series, Under Ordshaw, in which he creates a world full of strangeness and a City with a dark underbelly containing a warren of underground tunnels fairly teeming with supernatural creatures.  Kept From Cages is set in the same world but expands the boundaries and concepts and gives us something less urban  and more akin to wilderness fantasy (that should definitely be a ‘thing’).

For information Kept from Cages is the first in a duology and can be read without having read the Under Ordshaw series so if you haven’t read that series and feel hopelessly behind you can start here.

As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Reece and his companions.  They’ve clearly taken part in some sort of heist-gone-wrong and are approaching a farmhouse looking for aid.  Unfortunately, this strangely silent farmhouse is the last place likely to provide help or sustenance and in fact is the catalyst for events that see the gang racing across the country, wanted criminals, accused of atrocities they didn’t commit with a small girl in tow.

At the same time we follow a different storyline involving Agent Sean Tasker (who works for a secret agency, think along the lines of Men in Black supernatural style).  Tasker has been sent to a remote village in the Northern hemisphere where everyone has been mysteriously massacred.  The only clue to the killings comes from the lips of a dying man whose final words see Tasker racing across the world to the Congo in search of answers.

So, what did I love about this book. In no particular order.

The pacing – it really is fast and furious.  Strangely enough the author manages to create this crazy atmosphere of chaos with ever spiralling, life threatening events and yet at the same time use some sort of super power to miraculously slow things down at certain points to not only give the reader a breather but also to inject some ‘normality’ and time for character building.  It’s actually very effectively and impressively done.

The world building.  Again, the author doesn’t spend time giving flowery descriptions and yet he manages to capture an excellent sense of place using the minimum words possible.  We travel around quite a bit here, in fact the two alternate storylines take us to different corners of the world before coming together in a really satisfactory way.  I have to say I loved the time we spent in the Deep South – and the whole village on stilts idea was brilliant.

The plot.  It’s a little crazy.  As the story begins I almost felt a little lost.  The two completely different stories, the different agencies, spies and underlying corporate machinations and yet, I found myself gripped by the mystery of the massacred village and in fact the larger mystery at play here and without realising I’d jumped onboard and was held captive – but not against my will.  I became hooked.

The writing is really good.  It’s impressive to take something, that on the face of it feels almost a little ambitious, and yet to achieve a gripping story well told in such a deceptively easy way and in such a relatively short time frame.  There’s no wasted words, which is why this has such a snappy feel and I have to say there’s a good balance between storytelling and dialogue.

The characters.  The author manages to give us a variety of characters. We have the Cutjaw gang.  Reece and his musician companions and Zip – the young girl, with the strange powers, that they ‘rescued’ from the farmhouse.  We also have agent Tasker who teams up with a female assassin and her imaginary friend/conscience.  I can’t deny that the assassin stole the show a little for me.  I love kickass females and Williams excels at creating them (Lettie anyone?).  Anyway, you might expect that in such a short and punchy novel the characters would be a little lacklustre but this isn’t the case.  As I mentioned above the author does manage to capture a few moments where the pace slows down and we get to look a little more closely at the who/what/why of things.  I can’t deny that I would like a little more in terms of the characterisation but, at the same time I know that I’m hooked because by the conclusion I was worried about certain characters – and when you’re worried for the characters because you think they might die – then you know you’ve bought in.

In conclusion, this is a fast paced adventure with a twist in the tale that really surprised me and an ending that leaves me eager for the next instalment.

My rating 4 out of 5

I received a copy from the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

#SPFBO 6 – Cover love (9)

Artboard 1
300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  This year I’m aiming to shine a little bit of focus on some of the books either through posting excerpts to act as teasers for potential readers or through posting some of the covers and highlighting the book that way (not just for my own books but other entries).  The invitation is open to all authors from the competition – if you’d like to post an excerpt then give me a shout in the comments.

As part of the competition there was a cover contest.  The details can be found here.

So, this week’s chosen SPFBO covers are below. I didn’t have a particular theme this week and in fact just went for three covers that are very different in style but work for me personally. Which is your favourite:

Queensof

BlackStone

Nightof

Friday Face Off : Minimalistic, lacking clutter

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Minimalistic, lacking clutter

Yikes I struggled with this theme!  I hope everyone else found it a little easier.  Anyway, I went with the cover of a very well known fantasy series that I think fits this week’s theme well.  A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George RR Martin.  And here are a few of the covers:

The first cover is the one that I owned and is the simplistic style that I had in mind for this week’s theme.  The second to last cover has a similar simple style that I quite like but my favourite this week:

GoT9

I just love the scale of this one (it couldn’t be further away from minimalist though).

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – A very busy cover full to bursting with detail

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

201

25th September – A very busy cover full to bursting with detail

2nd October – A standout font

9th October – Mist/fog – “A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England.”

16th October – Spider web – “Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!

23th October – Ripped/torn – interpret it as you wish

30th October – Forest/jungle – ‘None of the Jungle People like being disturbed.’

6th November – Planets – “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

13th November – Bright – ‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’.

20th November – Words only – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

27th November – Modern sci fi

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

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