#SPFBO Spotlight : the fourth set of books. Update
This is my fourth 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. The update post for my third set of books is here and today I’m giving an update on the 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. Unless I read the book fully I’m only giving brief comments on each book so apologies if these seem a little abrupt but basically I’m just trying to give a very brief view of why I’ve not taken that book forward.
In her home village, Aivee is worse than nobody. If her secret identity as a half-demon leaks out, she’s dead. But in the capital city she will reinvent herself as a dancer. She’ll be wealthy, and adored by thousands. Nobody will be able to hurt her.
Nori knows how cruel the city can be. She’s lost her mother to its plagues, and lately her younger sister has joined the ranks of its disappeared. But she’s not giving up. The ruling classes think they can treat people worse than beasts and strip them of their human rights. Powerful factions want to keep the epidemic of missing people a secret. Well, they can eat her blades.
Nori joins a group of vigilantes fighting for answers, and voices in her head urge her to recruit Aivee to the cause. These vigilantes are bumbling amateurs, as likely to get themselves killed as to save anyone. But Nori is changing, going mad, lusting for battle and remembering centuries-old conflicts. She will whip them into shape, or die trying.
Bloodthirsty gangs, inhuman mages, and dragon gods have it in for the people of Kaddon city.
Yes, Nori is mad. But she’s not nearly even.
I have mixed feelings on this one. I think the start was a little hit and miss for me and I was thinking that this one wouldn’t work out. It has picked up though as the focus has moved to the City. I think at the moment I’ll put this one down as I might potentially return to read a little further.
On the planet of Avadonya, handsome yet brutal shapeshifters called the Beasts raid a small Bormian village, kidnapping young females. A young Beast named Romi wins the youngest captive Pavra in a challenge and takes her as his prize to save her from the hands of the other Beasts. As the years pass and Pavra transitions into womanhood, she and Romi fall in love and thus ensues their romance.
Meanwhile, twins Gael and Gion head a group of young Bormians to rescue their younger sister Pavra and the other females taken on that fatal night two years ago. Will the eleven young Bormians be able to battle these shapeshifting Beasts, who outnumber them, and are just as deadly in their beastly incarnation? Not to mention the other dangers they must face along the way, even before they reach the Beasts’ lair.
Action, adventure, romance, and surprises are in store for this band of brave heroes as they encounter fairies, ogres, gigantic creatures, more shapeshifters and other friends and foe on their courageous rescue mission.
I’m just going to be totally honest and say this isn’t really for me – I can see how this might appeal to some people with this whole idea of men/beasts living in the jungle – and let’s face it they’re all portrayed as gorgeous specimens of manly hunkyness. And there are certain elements of this that are really quite intriguing – the fae elements, the idea that the band of would be rescuers who set off to search for the kidnapped women are now on a quest to find a ‘wise woman’ type of character – these elements of the story were easy to read and could in themselves have turned into a good quest type story but for me I think the man/beast idea could do with more development. I just can’t figure out what the story is trying to be and the whole neanderthal man beating his chest and kidnapping women from their homes – it doesn’t work for me I’m afraid.
– In the darkest corners of your mind, they hunt –
Norman Adams’ life changes in an instant when he experiences his first lucid dream. The watershed moment reveals an alternate world of consciousness which compels the young man to explore the boundaries of reality.
He meets an eccentric librarian, Stephen Breagal, whose interest in the topic seems to know no limits and they strike up an unlikely friendship.
Soon however, the dream turns into a nightmare when Norman is involved in an accident sending him into a coma. Under the apprenticeship of Breagal, loyal but sceptical friend Victor James volunteers to use the librarian’s pioneering techniques to enter Norman’s dream state and finds the horror trapping him there.
The race is on to rescue their friend as together they search the deepest, darkest recesses of the mind – a place where nightmares are born.
This is definitely an intriguing concept that I was looking forward to reading. On the whole I found the chapters I read quite interesting and if this wasn’t an elimination scenario I probably would have read further to see how this one would develop, but, as it is, and having read over 20% of the story, I think this is quite a slow burner and I found my attention was not always completely focused.
Bronze Magic, a fantasy novel of 484 pages, is the first in a series that track the woodfolk legend of Tarkyn, Guardian of the Forest. It is written in an easy flowing style that makes it accessible to both teenagers and adults. The major protagonist, although powerful, spends much of his time trying not to intimidate people, while memorable characters battle with issues of trust, cultural differences and respect against a background of magic and action:
In Eskuzor, land of sorcerers, Prince Tarkyn, tempestuous and strong in magic, is forced to flee from his brother the king, leaving a trail of death and destruction behind him.
After days on the run, he wanders into the woodlands in the company of an old wizard, only to find himself unable to leave. Even worse, Tarkyn is horrified to discover that he is the unwelcome, bitterly resented liege lord of an elusive people whose oath to him has been spellbound to the welfare of their forest. The prince, moved by his unwilling liegefolk’s plight, modifies his expectations. On the other hand, one woodman, Waterstone, puts aside his own prejudices to offer Tarkyn his friendship, persevering in the face of the prince’s mistrust.
Bounty hunters are tracking Tarkyn. Wolves and sorcerers are hunting the woodfolk.
Battling the woodfolk’s resentment, Tarkyn holds true to his duty as their liege lord to fight with them against wizard-driven storm, captivity and exposure of their existence to the world beyond the forest. As Tarkyn works side by side with his liegefolk, he not only develops friendships and acceptance but also gains new powers which transform him, in the eyes of the woodfolk, into a figure of their legends, the guardian of the forest.
Despite this, their mutual trust is fragile and when Tarkyn discovers that his liegefolk have been concealing the existence of woodfolk not sworn to him, he is driven to extreme lengths to repair the schism in woodfolk society that his presence has caused, so that they can stand united against the greatest threat in their history.
I think this book has a lot of potential but it suffers from over wordiness which slows down the pace. From the chapters I read I would say that the main character needs more development as he feels a bit one dimensional at the moment and his feelings don’t really come across. I also think the dialogue needs to be a bit more snappy as it comes across a little bit ‘staged’.
Roguish Never is on a quest to lift a curse on his blood and to learn his true name; but upon joining a group of treasure-hunters he soon finds himself unearthing world-altering secrets that have long lain dormant within the mysterious Amber Isle.
I enjoyed this one, I had a few niggles and I would have liked a longer story – this feels a little like the first step of a journey but definitely one I would like to continue reading. In fairness to the author I’m not sure at this stage I would put this forward to the next round as it’s only a fairly short story but I did enjoy it.
From the fourth round The Amber Isle was my favourite read.