Can’t Wait Wednesday : Spirits of Vengeance (A Mortal Techniques novel) by Rob J Hayes

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 : Spirits of Vengeance (A Mortal Techniques novel) by Rob J Hayes.  I’m so excited to read this one.  I have a copy lined up and I was waiting desperately for the cover reveal – just look at it.  What a beauty:

He’ll die as many times as it takes.

The Ipian Empire was once a land that welcomed dragons and spirits alike, but a century of war and bloodshed saw them all but vanish. Now, the lost things are returning and the Onryo have gathered. Five legendary spirits with mysterious powers, bent on freeing an ancient evil that would wreak havoc on humanity.

Haruto swore his soul to the God of Death for the chance to hunt down the vengeful ghost of his wife. Now an onmyoji, he’s tasked by the Imperial Throne to hunt down monsters and malicious spirits. But he knows not all spirits are evil and not all deserve the peace of the sword.

Kira is a student at Heiwa, an academy for children with dangerous techniques. But she has a secret, she’s not like the other students. When the school is attacked, she flees with one of the tutors, determined to hide both from those who would kill her, and those who would use her.

As a plague of spirits sweeps across the land, the Onryo leave a bloody trail for Haruto to follow. But who’s hunting who?

The Mortal Techniques novels are a series of stand-alone stories that can be read entirely independently, set in the award-winning Mortal Techniques universe.

Expected publication : September 2021

So, because I’m super helpful, because I love good cover art, because a thing of beauty is a joy for ever and simply just because I can – here are all three covers, posted here for your edification and delight – be warned, you may want to sit down as glimpsing all three together is simply overwhelming and might knock you off your feet:

#SPFBO 7 : My Third Batch of Books

Posted On 3 August 2021

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SPFBO 7 is now into its third month and today I’m highlighting my next batch of four books.  To date I’ve read and reviewed eight books and my updates for Batch 1 and 2 can be found here and here.  All going to plan I should have only three books left to read, from my allocation of 15, come the end of this month.  

For those of you unfamiliar with SPFBO here and here are two posts that might provide some enlightenment.  Basically, SPFBO is the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, brainchild of Mark Lawrence.  300 hopeful authors submit their word babies.  10 Judges are allocated 30 books each.  Each judge chooses a finalist, the competition narrows to 10 hopeful candidates.  Alas, there can be only one winner so following an intense reading session where all the judges read and score each others finalists a winner finally emerges.  

The main change for myself this year is that I am joining up with the wonderful Critiquing Chemist and her lovely boffin.  We are very excited to start reading our batch (at the moment equally divided between the two blogs).  I love this part of the competition, it’s full of expectations and hope.  As in previous years  I will give a brief introduction to the books and authors that I’m picking up that month together with an update at the end of the month where I may roll some books forwards and cut others.  I know!  It’s a part of the competition that I’m not overly fond of but it is unavoidable.  Personally, I like to think that as the competition begins we already have 300 winners who each took that bold step to throw their hat into the ring and join in.  So, enjoy yourselves, take the opportunity to make friends and become part of the community.  

This month the four books that I will be reading from my third batch are:



Rising Shadows (The Pillar of Creation #1) by Phillip Blackwater

Rising Shadows

As tension rises between the southern and northern nations of the small continent of Exitium in the world of Anteris, the Elves turn to their eastern neighbors, the Humans, for help. They wish to learn the ways of combat, which they are not accustomed to, for they have always wielded a power far greater than forged steel. The Shards of Creation, mystical artifacts of great and virtually infinite power, have always been their prized weapon, but times have changed. They now face the same threat as the Humans: the southern nation known as the Ethula.

Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, will take upon his shoulders this burden. But when a shadow of a past long forgotten threatens what little stability is left in the world, he will have to leave everything behind to stop it. Medregal Tergrast, an Ethulan king, dead for a thousand years, plans his return to the world of the living to gain back his former glory and finally fulfill his destiny by gaining control of the Shards of Creation. But is he really the threat people make him out to be?

In the meantime, in the bowels of the Human Kingdom, the reign of Dana Crystaloak is put into jeopardy when people around her start questioning her decisions. If she falls, war could break out across all lands.

About the Author

If you found your way here, then you must already know I love to write. I am a fan of fiction, mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic (amongst others), and in all its forms, whether it is books, video games, movies, or tv-shows.

The first time I truly realized how much I loved fiction, was through The Lord of the Rings’ movies (like probably a lot of people). Since then, I traveled to so many different worlds: Halo, Mass Effect, Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, Witcher, and Fallout (to only name a few). It made me want to explore my own imagination and see what worlds I could create. This is what led me, among other things, to writing.

What can you expect from my books? I don’t bother myself trying to be a flowery writer, I want my writing to be available to everyone. And what I want above all when people read my books, is for them to have a good time and some fun. This is what truly matters to me.

When I’m not writing, I am: A husband. A father of three cats. Reading, gaming, or watching movies and tv shows. A big hockey fan. And when I’m done with all of that, I’m a big geek and collect a lot of stuff (No, I’m not a hoarder, I swear!).

You can follow my Twitter (@phil_blackwater) or my Instagram (@phil_blackwater), or register to the newsletter on my website, to know when new stories are available.




By the Pact (Pacts Arcane and Otherwise 1) by Joanna Maciejewska


High mages lied: Veranesh, the demon who destroyed the continent is still alive. And it’s up to their former student to expose the truth—even if it means another Cataclysm.

When Kamira, a once high mage student turned arcanist, discovers an imprisoned demon in underground ruins, she is forced into a pact that grants her powerful magic, but also ties her to the very demon that once devastated the continent… and Veranesh wants his freedom.

With one friend by her side, Veelk, a mage killer bound on protecting her, Kamira will have to outwit the archmages, other demons, and possibly her own demonic benefactor to survive. Her chances are slim, but with Veelk’s ever-present sarcastic repartee, Kamira might just pull through.

Plots and schemes, power and means—sometimes the price for victory is choosing which friend will die, but when you only have one friend, the choice is… easy?

JMAbout the Author

Born in Poland, Joanna spent most of her childhood in Poznan, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she lived for over 8 years. In 2016 she moved to the US, where she hopes to finally settle.

She writes speculative fiction, so it goes without saying that she’s a fan of science-fiction and fantasy – mainly books, but also movies, comics and games (both video games and tabletop RPGs).

When she’s not busy writing, reading, or gaming, she enjoys crafts and drawing.



Iarraindorn by Phil Dickens


ON THE NIGHT THAT HE WAS BORN, THE DEVIL CAME TO KILL HIM The son of a farmer in Iron Age Britain, Nuadhu finds himself thrust into a destiny he is ill-prepared for. After his king murders his parents, he and his brother are forced to flee into the Roman Empire under the protection of the archangel Anael. Meanwhile, a plague of the undead is sweeping across Europe from the east, raising their slain enemies as new allies. Their goal is not the conquest of one tribe or nation, but the subjugation of all humanity. Can one warrior-in-exile, hungry for vengeance, build a force to repel this existential threat? The riveting new historical fantasy adventure from the author of FROM THE HILL OF MEGIDDO and the ARMAGEDDON’S OFFSPRING series!

About the Author



Carrion by Alyson Tait


The Rook legacy: duty at all Costs. Regina’s family are the last living members after a long line of magical families. Their heritage is a promise to the world; they can be trusted to keep magic from corrupting power hungry witches — In doing so they keep an unearthly evil from crushing humanity.

When Regina Rook’s mother dies a sudden, violent death, the living coven members come from around the world to attend the funeral, and begin breathing down her neck as next in line to lead. Trying to find a balance between her own goals and her family’s demands, all the while keeping her recent nightmares hidden where she becomes the very thing they fighting.

But when those things become intertwined, can she do anything but watch as the world around her crumbles to ancient horrors?

About the Author:

(I’m a little puzzled with the author info for Carrion.  On Amazon the author shows as Alyson Tate, on Goodreads as Jamie Benson and Alyson Tait, and on the cover Alyson Tait – apologies if I have the wrong author information here).



Good luck to this month’s authors.

#SPFBO : My Second Batch of Books – Update


Today I’m posting an update for my second batch of SPFBO books (which can be found here).  This year I’m teaming up with the lovely ladies from the Critiquing Chemist and we split the batch of books equally – which gives me a little more time this year.

This month I read and reviewed all four books from my second batch and today I’m providing my feedback on which books will be cut or rolled forward.  At this point I’m not making any decisions on semi-finalists as the semi finalists will be decided by both blogs before agreement on a finalist is reached. We will each put forward hopefuls and then take it from there.

I would mention that this is ultimately the most difficult part of the competition for judges and authors.  I don’t find making cuts easy to be honest however it’s the nature of the competition.  There can be only one. I would also like to thank the authors of the books that are highlighted today for taking the decision to throw their hat into the ring.  It can’t be easy and I definitely applaud you for taking this step.

Without further ado here is my feedback from the second batch of books:

Berserker (Apocosmos #1) by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris 


Alex is a game developer though he’d much rather stream RPG classics or spend time with Louie. That’s his  adorable corgi. He also hates people.  Not in a homicidal way but rather in an extremely-antisocial one.Unless you hurt Louie.

In such an instant, Alex is pulled in the Apocosmos, where our whole world is just a blip in a colorful tapestry of million others. A multiverse ruled by a strict system. Where Norse, Greek, and Celtic pantheons clash. Where dwarves craft, dragons hoard, and vampires don’t glitter. A world that is as cruel as epic.

Alex wants none of that though. He just wants to earn an early retirement somewhere in Spain. There’s money to be made in the Apocosmos. Alex will take advantage of the market just like he did in his MMORPG days, in what seems like an error-proof plan. But it’s a zero-sum game and some would do anything to eliminate competition.

My review is here.

In a nutshell, I had fun with Berserker, it was an enjoyable read that I had a few issues with but nothing that really spoiled the read.  If you like litRPG this could be your next read, I would certainly be interested to see what happens in the next instalment.

Conclusion: Cut


Stone Magus (Hidden Gems Saga #1) by Stephanie C. Marks


In life, love, and family, there is always strength in numbers.

Something is off balance between the Windsong Sisters, and for Opal and Ruby, the terrible might of their powers may just lead them to catastrophe—or clarity. As half-elf mages in the service of the Order of Aiuna, the sisters spend their days collecting and preserving anything that magic touches, and as their mission takes them further back into their past, the darkness that awaits them there threatens to destroy everything they hold dear.

Despite the dark smoke rising around them, Opal is finding it hard to ignore the flames flickering between herself and Baerdun. There’s just something about it that makes her feel weak, and not just in the knees. With so much happening around them, it’s becoming much harder to keep her head above water and her heart her own.

After everything they’ve lost—what if they lose themselves as well?

Enter a world where shadows exist within and without, and follow Opal, Ruby, and Baerdun down a path that will either bring them together or force them apart.

My review is here.

In a nutshell, this is fantasy and romance combined.  It has a very unusual and unique concept and was easy to get along with.  I think readers of romance who like a fantasy setting may enjoy this one – warning: it does become a little ‘steamy’ as the storyline progresses.

Conclusion : Cut


Book of Secrets (Merged Series #1) by Claudia Blood 


Joshua Lighthouse never wanted to save the world, but now he has no choice.

Three hundred years ago, the human world and the world of Myth underwent a cataclysmic Merge. Those who survived – both human and Others – formed factions. Joshua led one faction, the Human Protection Agency, which is charged with maintaining the safety of the humans in his city. He secretly protects an artifact more powerful than even he knows…

My review is here.

In a nutshell, urban fantasy that manages to deliver a unique idea in terms of the Merge.  It felt a little rushed in parts that made it difficult to connect to the central characters but for UF lovers this could be the start of an interesting series.

Conclusion : Cut


Dragonbirth byRaina Nightingale


In a world where dragons are considered demons and Dragonriders are hunted and killed as witches…

A devout village-girl, Silmavalien, meets a dragon hatchling and discovers a love she could never have dreamed. At the same time, her world is ripped apart as she discovers the gods she has worshipped and everything she has ever been taught or believed is a monstrous lie. Not knowing what to believe – or even if she can trust her engaged, Noren, with her new secret – she must find a way to care for herself and her dragon, Minth, in a wild and hostile world, a world which only grows stranger as the days pass.

My review is here.

In a nutshell this reads like a coming of age story about a young girl who bonds with a baby dragon and must then leave behind everything and everyone she knows in order to keep them both alive.  The writing didn’t quite work for me with this one and the repetition prevented me from connecting to the characters as much as I would have liked.  There are plenty of dragons though and maybe this is aimed more at a MG audience.

Conclusion : cut


My thanks again to the authors.

I will be posting my third batch of books very soon.

Booking Ahead/Weekly-Monthly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this last year but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Last week:

This week was a bit poop.  My internet is absolutely pants so whilst I’ve managed to post things to the blog this has been achieved by using my mobile data.  Consequently I haven’t been blog hopping because this would just wipe me out.  Hopefully an engineer is paying a visit in the next few days so normal service may be resumed (fingers crossed).  I have posted four reviews this week though so all good on that front, I completed my second batch of SPFBO books and also read Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce.  My buddy reads were a disaster this month (apologies to my lovely blogger buddies – I will do better this month).

Continue with Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley (which unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to pick up this last week) and also pick up Mrs Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott or Paper and Blood by Kevin Hearne.  I will also be posting about my next four SPFBO reads.

  1. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
  2. Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

Books read during July:

  1. Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey
  2. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
  3. The Past is Red by by Catherynne M Valente
  4. The Retreat by Elisabeth de Mariaffi
  5. Come With Me by Ronald Malfi
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks
  7. Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood
  8. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  9. Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale
  10. Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce – rtf

#SPFBO Review : Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale


Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale is the fourth and final book from my Second Batch of books that I’m aiming to read and review this month which will be followed by my update post on Monday.  I have seven books remaining and will post my third batch of books during the forthcoming week.  My reviews so far are linked below and you can find feedback from my first batch of books here and further information on SPFBO here.


As the title suggests, this is a book of dragons.  A young village girl, Silmavalien, finds what she thinks is an unusual stone that eventually hatches into a dragon that bonds with her.  In a world where dragons are thought of as demons the birth of this dragon must be kept secret and the obvious and only course for Silmavalien seems to be to leave her village and family behind and go into hiding with her new companion.

Essentially this book is about Silmavlien’s journey with her dragon and her struggles to keep them both alive along the way.

This one reads almost like a journal with a lot of focus on the everyday essentials of survival whilst keeping a young dragon with a large appetite alive.  To be honest, in some respects there is such a lot of attention paid to these everyday tasks that it makes it difficult to form any real attachments to either the dragon or the young girl and in fact the plot feels a little thin with a lot of repetition.

To be fair to the author she mentions in her foreword that she wrote this story when she was in her early teens and in that respect this is an achievement but, for me, it feels unpolished in its current form and not a book that I would really recommend.

I do love dragons and so I really wanted to love this one but it didn’t quite work out for me.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

Books already reviewed for SPFBO :

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks
  7. Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood
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