#SPFBO End of Month Update

Posted On 1 September 2018

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blackThe first month of the SPFBO has come to an end.  I chose six books at random to check out this month with the intention of reading at least 30% of each one.  As the month got underway I posted about the books chosen (here and here).  The aim of today’s post is to provide an update on my reading progress and also to decide which books have been chosen to stay in the contest after the first month.  I can’t deny that this is difficult because I hate having to cut any books and also because all these books seem to have such a lot going for them which made it difficult to cut any  But, it’s the nature of the competition after all so my thoughts are below.  I would also point out that for this batch I’m rolling three books forward as they’ve captured my attention and I want to read more of each – I’m keeping my reading fairly loose at the moment so we’ll see how things progress.

The first three books that I will be cutting are as follows with a short review of my thoughts on each:

SanctuarySanctuary’s Fiend by A Lynch – at just shy of 200 pages I found this an entertaining and quick read and I actually read the entire book.  It’s a YA novel set in a regular high school – except some of the students are anything but normal.  The school is a mixture of regular humans and supernaturals (with the humans being blissfully unaware of the hidden abilities that some of their classmates keep hidden).  The setting is an American town called Sanctuary.  Many supernatural types have set up home in Sanctuary, they all congregate and live in the same part of town and try to avoid mixing too much with the regular humans.  They hide in plain sight basically.  Two things then conspire to turn things upside down a little.  Firstly, a new boy arrives in town who immediately becomes the object of a serious crush by the main protagonist Rel – which brings out something of her vampire nature in a sudden rush of hormones.  On top of that mysterious and gruesome deaths seem to be occurring- it seems like someone or some ‘thing’ is on a rampage.  The two things combined lead to (1) Rel discovering something more of her own nature and (2) her and her friends trying to turn detective to discover who is behind the grisly deaths.  To be honest, this was an entertaining read.  I’m not the target audience obviously but I think others will find appeal here.  I did have a couple of issues that either puzzled or perplexed me or just didn’t sit well.  There was the issue of Rel almost killing somebody – which does raise questions about how these supernaturals can reasonably live amongst humans given their natures.  The way of life here could do with more explanation or thought but, that’s just the pedantic side of me coming out.  Overall, I imagine readers of The Morganville Vampires or House of Night series might enjoy this one.  Of course I’ve only read the first one but there’s plenty of scope for new adventures.  Going forward I think the chemistry between Rel and her boy crush could do with strengthening a little as at the moment I wouldn’t say I really feel the attraction as strongly as the story suggests.  I would probably rate this between 3-3.5 stars of 5.

cursedwishesCursed Wishes by Marcy Kennedy – I liked the premise for Cursed Wishes which basically involves a deal with the fae, which if you read anything about the fae, you’ll know needs to be very carefully worded and can very easily go wrong.  The main characters are Ceana Campbel and Gavran Anderson and as the story begins Gavran, out on a stormy night, comes across the body of a young woman, barely alive (Ceana).  He carries her back to his home where she is looked after and begins to recover her health.  At the back of his mind Gavran has a nagging suspicion that he knows Ceana but he can’t figure out how or why and she certainly seems to be incredibly hostile towards him.  It seems that Gavran and Ceana were once in love but Ceana, cursed by one of the fae, lives her life in misery.  Her former friends and family no longer remember her and everything she attempts to achieve fails miserably whilst those that have moved on have all become successful.  Cursed wishes eh!  I certainly gave this one a good shot and in fact read over the 30% alloted almost reaching half way through the book.  I think my main issue with the read was Ceana.  She just really puzzled me in the way she behaved and her actions didn’t really make sense. She knows what has happened in the past to bring her to her current dilema but, apart from a bunch of dreams, Gavran does not.  For me, it felt like she spoke in riddles and although things did begin to clear up a little I couldn’t help thinking at the stage I read up to that she came across as unreasonable somehow and it made it difficult for me to warm to her.  I think this is a good idea, the writing shows a lot of promise and I like the historic feel of the book, I think the interactions between the two characters however just didn’t ring true for me personally.  I would rate this 3 stars out of 5.

solace lostSolace Lost by Michael Sliter – This is a difficult one to review.  I think this book shows a lot of promise although it isn’t for the faint hearted.  The book is told from varying povs and I felt that they were all actually really well drawn and had easy to distinguish voices.  Fenrir is a bit of a mindless brute.  He’s an enforcer sent to teach lessons to those who fall foul of the ‘house’ for which he works.  If he shows up on your doorstep you’re about to receive a warning in the form of one of your digits being removed.  In fairness to Fenrir he doesn’t particularly enjoy his work but it does speak something of his character that falling on hard times has led him to this point in his life.  The other thing so far about Fenrir is he doesn’t endear himself to the reader.  He’s not particularly good at his work and usually bungles his jobs badly which results in much worse outcomes for his victims usually.  Merigold is a barmaid who seems to have some form of magical ability.  She’s your basic cheerful lass with an over protective father who runs the place.  Unfortunately her storyline takes a rather shocking course so be wary of potential triggers if you pick up this story – warnings here regarding rape and abduction.  Lady Escamilla and her maid Emma Dram are the next pov chapters.  Emma is known to Fenrir.  They were once lovers but unfortunately Emma became one of his victims when the ‘house’ sent Fenrir to remove a finger from her maid to teach Lady Escamilla a lesson.  Unfortunately the job went poorly and Emma ended up with half her hand missing.  The two meet up again when Fenrir is sent to help rescue the Lady from a plot that she has become involved with.  The meeting goes ill as you can imagine.  I read about 32% of Solace Lost and to be fair I think it’s well written, carefully plotted and definitely intriguing.  However, at this stage, and having given it probably close to 200 pages, I think in terms of the competition it’s not grasped me as much as some of the other books from this batch.  It’s quite a slow build and whilst I don’t mind the extra attention to detail it means the book hasn’t really had a full chance to work it’s magic at the stage I’ve reached and the characters have not yet grown on me although I have to say I’m intrigued to see how their stories will unfold.  At my cut off point I would rate this as 3.5 of 5 stars.

The three books I will be rolling forward for the moment are:

  1. An Empire of Tears by Tim Marquitz, currently I’ve read 37% of this as I was quite gripped and hadn’t realised how far in I’d actually reached.
  2. Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch, so far this is proving to be a lot of fun and I’m keen to see how it all works out
  3. Kingshold by D P Wooliscroft – this is very good so far, polished, well written, interesting characters and an intriguing set up.  At 32% in I feel quite invested and want to read more.
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17 Responses to “#SPFBO End of Month Update”

  1. Timy

    Oooh, I liked Kingshold. I hope to see it forward. Looking forward to read your thoughts on that one.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s very enjoyable so far tbh so fingers crossed for more goodness.
      Lynn 😀

      • dpwoolliscroft

        I think I have everything crossed on that score, Lynn. I look like a pretzel!

  2. Carmen

    The three books from the mini-reviews sound just so-so. I look forward to your thoughts on the ones you have advanced so far. It’s a good sign that you are invested in the story when you read beyond the cut off point and you haven’t realized it. 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      To be fair I think the standard this year, so far, is really good. I hate having to cut books but it’s the nature of the competition and yes, I’m looking forward to reading more from the three I’m rolling forward.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    It seems like you made good choices to move forward. This is a fascinating process, I’m so curious to see how it all turns out😊

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Ah, the culling begins. This was the hardest phase, as I recall! Good luck to the contestants moving forward!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It really is the hardest part – I need to toughen up. I always feel so guilty and yet I know I can only take one book forward.
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    I haven’t read any of the three you have picked but my sometimes blog partner read Kingshold and quite enjoyed it.

  6. Nicole Evans

    I’m super intrigued to continue following your updates! Thank you for these posts, it’s really insightful and curious to hear your thoughts. Tbh, even though you cut it, I’m quite intrigued by Solace Lost, so I might have to check that one out at some point. Excited to continue hearing about your choices!

    • @lynnsbooks

      What I read of Solace Lost was very good, I guess that’s the thing though with having a cut off point. At 30% in (which was probably about 200 pages for this particular book) I still felt like I didn’t have a real feel for the plot. But, the writing is very strong and clearly the author is taking time to build up the characters and give them strong back stories.
      Lynn 😀

      • Nicole Evans

        Yes, I totally understand what you mean about not getting a real feel for the plot and needing to cut it out of the running for the contest because of it. But I think it’s definitely one I’d like to try out, at some point, so thank you again for your mini-review of what you read and getting it on my radar!

      • @lynnsbooks

        I hope you love it – let me know how you get on.
        Lynn 😀

  7. #SPFBO4 Interview with Andrew Lynch, author of Sanctuary’s Fiend | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] you may be aware if you’re following the SPFBO competition or my updates I’ve recently cut my first three books (oh, how I hate to cut any books) and unfortunately […]

  8. #SPFBO 2018 : Batch 2, Books 4-6 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] be going forward or eliminated.  The conclusion for my first month’s reading can be found here.  Ultimately, the aim is to choose one book from the thirty I’ve been assigned – that […]

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