#SPFBO Spotlight : the third set of books.. Update
This is my third batch of books for the SPFBO. From my second selection of five I still have two books that I need to decide between and will update on that outcome shortly. For details of the SPFBO check here. I chose my first five books to look at during the course of May and my update post for the first five is here. The book that I took forward at that stage was Rebel’s Honor by Gwynn White review here. My update for the second set of five is here. This is my third update post and I’ve now chosen my fourth set of books.
The book choices are being randomly chosen. I’m aiming to read about 20% of each book or five chapters (which I think should be enough to give me a fair idea of whether or not the book could be my potential final choice). Basically, if one of the books is standing out above the other four then that will be the clear choice from that section.
My next set of five are below. I’ve added underneath each a synopsis (taken from Goodreads) and a short synopsis of my thoughts on the content that I’ve read so far.
1. Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson
For Evy Rivera, thunderstorms have always caused her physical pain, but she’s never known why. When a record-setting storm arrives on the same night her father finds ancient ancestral documents, Evy is set aglow with mysterious tiny lightnings she can command.
Even worse, she alerts some people in the universe who’ve been looking for her family for a very long time.
Thrown back into ancient Spain and tasked with killing a Spanish legend, she must train alongside Constantine, a sexy yet obstinate Roman warrior. He teaches her how to wield her lightning as a weapon, through more errors than trials. With a relationship as explosive as their late-night training sessions, Evy and Constantine battle their push-pull relationship while trying to ignore the two-thousand-year difference in their birthdates.
Ilif Rotiart, her quasi-mentor, is appalled at Evy’s skill. He would prefer to train her father and keep Evy on the sidelines—where women belong. Evy has a feeling Ilif is keeping something from them, but she must play nice until she uncovers the truth. And if he’s lying, it will be the worst day of his four-hundred-year life.
Penya Sepadas claims she’s Evy’s rightful trainer, and she has the prophecy to prove it. Penya doesn’t share Ilif’s misogynistic attitude, but she does have her own agenda…and her own secrets.
Evy must sort through the lies and find the truth behind her family’s time-traveling past before the wrong history obliterates the future. She’s spent her whole life fighting for her place. Now, as the first female lightning rider, she’ll dedicate her existence to fighting to save the world.
But will Evy learn to manage her lightning and find the truth before it’s too late?
I liked the idea behind this story involving time travel using lightening as a medium, I thought it was a really unique idea. The thing with time travel books though is that they’re so difficult to pull off once you start delving into the theory. In this particular book the people going back in time have the ability to change the outcomes of event- for the better of course – however that gives me conundrums right away, space time continuum etc! Leaving all that aside though and just delving into the story I thought it got off to a very quick start. I did have a few issues however, I felt that Evy was very quick to accept the things that were happening to her and to her father – in fact the two of them acted remarkably calmly given what they were going through. Perhaps that’s just a family trait or maybe something to do with the ability to time travel overall but I just thought the two of them were a little bit too easy to accept what was going on and this coupled with Evy’s over exuberance at times just sat wrong for me. I was also puzzled about the father changing age – again, that didn’t really sit right for me. Not a bad start to the story overall though.
2. Stolen Guardian by R.A. Meenan
On the southern tip of the Yelar Peninsula, towering over the beach cliffs of the Desi Sea, lies the Defender Academy, the highly advanced military complex of the country of Zedric.
Near the top of the ranks is Izzy Gildspine, Golden Guardian of the Zyearth Defenders. Izzy’s not sure she deserves her title. Her healing powers are strong, though they’re nothing compared to the elemental powers of her partner, Matt Azure. But she can’t let her doubts get in the way of her job. The Defenders hold up the Golden Guardians as legends and she has to make sure she lives up to that expectation.
However, Izzy’s fears come true after a routine flight spirals into an out-of-control crash on a contaminated island campground, crawling with invincible monsters. To make matters worse, she and Matt find a friend and fellow Defender in the woods, half mad after being hounded for days by a foreign invader controlling the strange creatures.
The horror becomes personal when Matt is enslaved by their foe, forcing Izzy to make a terrible choice. Should she follow her heart and save him, or perform her Golden Guardian duty and kill him? The fate of all Zyearth hangs in the balance and she must decide soon before the choice is made for her.
I must admit that I wondered how I would get on with this one but so far have found it very entertaining. I’m not sure it would be my SPFBO book because for me it veers more towards sci fi/military than epic fantasy – however, I’ve read 30% of the book already and, whilst I might have a few niggles here and there, overall I’m just enjoying it and finding it to be an entertaining story so hopefully, time allowing, I might pick this one up again at some point to see how it concludes.
3. All the Saints are Dead by Douglas Milewski
Astrea is no place for a good woman, especially when she’s one of the floating city’s dragon riders. With space at a premium, and the ground full of disintegrating empires and vengeful expatriates, it’s a race to see which will chew her up first – her mother, her city’s corrupt and lethal politics, or her dragon.
Yet Targa grasps for hope wherever she can find it – in her new promotion to group leadership, in the power that it gives her to hire better riders, or the prodigy that she seeks who might just turn the dragon rider project around. Will it be enough to tip the balance, to save her city, her life, or even her soul?
It’s dangerous to be a good woman on Astrea, where all the saints are dead.
I think that All the Saints are Dead could turn into a very intriguing story but as it is and given that I’m only reading the first 20% I don’t feel like it’s really captured my attention enough to continue reading. The writing is good and the story seems to, at least at the moment, centre more on the politics of being a dragon rider and the corruption at the heart of the system involved in choosing new riders. The main character Targa has been promoted as the result of the death of the previous leader – killer by her own dragon – this is apparently something that all riders come to expect. So, a very dangerous job and not an ideal world. I think that this could be a very intriguing story given time but at the moment I confess myself feeling detached from any of the characters.
4. Bride of the Midnight King by Kat Parrish
Bride of the Midnight King is a paranormal romance with a fairy tale twist–Bride of the Midnight King. A vampire version of Cinderella set in a fabulous fairy tale land. A coming-of-age tale based on one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time, Bride of the Midnight King melds the romantic/classic Cinderella story and a richly textured vampire mythology to create something unique.
And the story begins with …once upon a time
The land was called Eindar, and those who lived there called it “home,” but those who lived beyond its borders called it “The Divided Kingdom” because it was a place where humans and vampires shared the land but divided the day’s hours into sunlight and shadow, and there were only a few whose lives were lived in both realms.
Eindar had once been ruled by a royal house of humans, but that era ended when the last human king—Lorant the Third—took a vampire wife and died, leaving the kingdom in her care. Queen Isix abdicated in favor of her son Adraxus, and the sons of his line had occupied the throne of the Shadow Palace ever since.
By custom, the vampire kings choose human consorts to rule by their side. A king chose his consort for any number of reasons, but rarely was love involved. Or so it was until the last consort of King Idrax died, leaving behind a most unusual bequest. Lady Judita’s final gift to the kingdom and the king she’d loved was a complete surprise, and it changed …everything.
Bride of the Midnight King is a novella (30K), the first in a series of stories inspired by the classic fairy tales retold by the Brothers Grimm in which “Cinderella” takes place in a world where vampires and humans coexist.
I read all of Bride of the Midnight King as it was only a short story, a retelling of Cinderella in which the rulers of Eindar are vampires. At the start of the story the current King’s consort passes away leaving a bequest that he chooses his next consort based on heart rather than head and as such she has organised a large ball for all of the ladies of the land to attend. As fairytale retellings go this was an interesting and quick read. I would say that I felt that the first half of the story was more enjoyable than the second half as the story flagged a little for me as it progressed, losing a little of the fairytale ‘style’. I was also puzzled about why the retelling involved vampires – I don’t particularly have a problem with that detail but was just puzzled as to why as the vampire nature of the king and his family didn’t seem to play any particular aspect in the story and for that matter they could just as well have been fae/werewolves or humans. A quick and easy read, I think the narration loses it’s charm a little as the story progresses and I’m not 100% certain about all the storyline choices.
5. As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe
For a thief, getting caught is never a good thing. Getting caught by a wizard is even worse.
“One more job” meant that Crow, a notorious thief, could retire with Tarsha, the woman of his dreams, but “one more job” may just mean his life.
When he sets out to abscond with that last brilliant treasure and seek a life of ease and pleasure with the jewel of his heart, Crow seriously underestimates his mark, the Baron Duzayan. Under threat of death by poison, Crow is coerced into stealing an improbable, mythical prize. To satisfy the wizard’s greed and save the life of his lady love, he must join forces with Tanris, the one man he has spent his entire career avoiding.
But what’s a man to do when stealing that fabled prize could level an empire and seal his fate?
From a dungeon black as night, to the top of a mountain peak shrouded in legend, a man’s got to do what he must.
Until, of course, he can think of a better plan…
As the Crow Flies is the book I intend to fully read and review for this particular batch of books. So far I’m enjoying the story and the writing – that being said I do have certain niggles but I’m keen to see how this one pans out and how the characters develop.