#SPFBO Half Way Point : Feedback

Posted On 19 September 2019

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So, a little later than planned, here is my ‘halfway through the SPFBO’ feedback post.

I’m on my third batch of books and have read the first chapters (up to 30%) of the first three which takes me exactly to the halfway point.  This is my third batch of books and my feedback on the first three of those books,

To date I’ve now read at least the first 30% of 15 books.

Today I’m going to give my feedback on three more books.  I’m also going to decide which books will be semi-finalists up to this point.

Without further ado here are my thoughts on my next three reads.

Shadowof.jpgFrom the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court by Benedict Patrick

I’ve read just over 31% of From the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court and I’m enjoying it so far so intend to read further so won’t at this point be providing a review.  To be rolled forward.

Author Info:


Living in.jpgLiving in Times of Dragons by John A Pretorius

This is a contemporary story that gets off to a very quick start.  Roger is returning to his homeland of South Africa with his son when things start to go horribly wrong.  Roger has been in a sort of self imposed exile, I’m not totally sure why, and is returning to take part in a court case for which he may be in grave danger.  As it happens the danger is much worse than Roger could ever imagine.  Dragons exist, they live hidden from humans but they’re about to break their secrecy and wreak havoc upon the world and it appears that they’re coming for Roger.

To be totally honest this one didn’t quite work for me, which may be just an ‘it’s me not you’ thing.  There are lots of dragons, some good, some not so good – although at this stage I don’t understand their motivations so I could be wrong about the good and bad ones.

I think my main issue with this was that it got off to a very dramatic start but then slowed down considerably with lots of dialogue and constant questions that didn’t really feel like they moved the plot along.  I also felt like there were quite a number of typos in this which started to feel like they were pulling me out of the story a little.  This one didn’t quite work for me but then I’ve only read the first third of the book.

To be cut.

Author Info:


TheShadow.jpgThe Shadow Watch by S.A Klopfenstein

The Shadow Watch was a good read. Well, it took me a little to get into but then I did become invested and this is a book that I would like to return to if I get the time just to see how it develops

This is a world where magic has been eliminated – or so it is believed.  We begin the story with a young girl being sold by her mother for her own protection.  We then move on to the Oshan Empire where slaves live in wait to see whether they will be selected to go to war.  Terrifying times and Tori and Darien are on the eve of such a selection process and about to be separated.

I enjoyed this but it did take a little time to get into.   As it is, I feel like I was becoming quite invested and interested by my 30% cut off zone.  I would like to return to this but for the purpose of the competition it’s being cut for now.

To be cut.

Author Info:


For the purpose of this feedback I’ve cut two books and decided to continue reading one of them.

At the current point I would say I have one semi -finalist to date and one book still waiting to be completed and reviewed and therefore still in the running to be a semi finalist.  The Lore of Prometheus is my current semi finalist. For the purpose of the competition I am now cutting the other books that I have read apart from the one book that I still intend to read.  I will provide a further update at the end of the month for the other three books from batch 3.

My current semi finalist is the Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King


My book being carried over is From the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court by Benedict Patrick

I have three more books to check out by the end of the month and a further feedback post.

My apologies to all the authors cut so far, I realise this is really tough and my thanks to you all for entering the competition.  Good luck to the remaining authors.

My Process

My 3 covers for the cover competition

Author Interview - Elise Kova

My First Batch of Books

Feedback on My First Batch of Books

My Second Batch of Books

Review: Cry Havoc by Mike Morris

feedback on my Second Batch of Books

Review: Healer's Rune by Chris O'Mara

Review: The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King

My Third Batch of Books


Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Assistant by S.K. Tremayne

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 Assistant by S.K. Tremayne – read the Ice Twins and really loved it so can’t wait to read something else by this author.

TheAssistantShe’s in your house. She controls your life. Now she’s going to destroy it.

A terrifying and timely new psychological thriller, from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ice Twins.

She watches you constantly.
Newly divorced Jo is delighted to move into her best friend’s spare room almost rent-free. The high-tech luxury Camden flat is managed by a meticulous Home Assistant, called Electra, that takes care of the heating, the lights – and sometimes Jo even turns to her for company.

She knows all your secrets.
Until, late one night, Electra says one sentence that rips Jo’s fragile world in two: ‘I know what you did.’ And Jo is horrified. Because in her past she did do something terrible. Something unforgivable.

Now she wants to destroy you.
Only two other people in the whole world know Jo’s secret. And they would never tell anyone. Would they? As a fierce winter brings London to a standstill, Jo begins to understand that the Assistant on the shelf doesn’t just want to control Jo; it wants to destroy her.

Expected Publication : December 2019

TTT – Fictional and not so fictional food

Posted On 17 September 2019

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 is:

Favorite Things to Eat/Drink While Reading Food Inspired by Novels

This is an interesting topic.  It depends on the time of day.  I often find myself reading at lunchtime so that would be whatever I’ve taken for lunch.  Usually nothing very inspiring to be honest.  Instead I’ve changed the topic slightly to books/authors that inspire you to eat or drink certain foods:

Scott Lynch.  His world building is amazing and he thinks of just about everything.  His Gentlemen Bastard books are filled with unusual foods that frankly sound delicious and all manner of interesting alcoholic drinks – for example, a ginger scald.  I’m not sure what it is but I’d give it a whirl.

Joanne Harris – Chocolat – it really doesn’t need any explanation.  Reading this book will make you at the very least long for a cup of chocolate with cream and a dash of fresh chilli.

Jacqueline Carey – another author who excels at world building.  Her Kushiel’s series tends to have a focus on mediterranean style food with olives, goat’s cheese, almonds, fresh bread and honey.  Nom.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books – that banquet hall.  I really don’t need to elaborate.  I’m kind of relieved that Hogwarts isn’t real – I would definitely want to go, muddle or not.

Game of Thrones, GRRM – wine,, give me all the wine.  Everyone seems to spend the entire day drinking wine and yet never suffering for it!

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – Lambas bread – it doesn’t sound particularly delicious to me but any bread that keeps you fulfilled enough to walk across Morder can’t be that bad!  Chuck in the odd poh-tay-toe and you’ve got yourself a nice chip buttie!

The Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris – definitely made me hanker after a cold beer and a burger and fries – or a homemade pecan pie.  Sookie was either serving food or making herself something to eat and it definitely works on your appetite when you’re reading.

Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson series – Mercy stress bakes.  I need a stres baker in my life, all the cookies.  Not that I want someone to have stress, but those cookies did sound good.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley – it’s been a while since reading this book but I still recall that Sunshine worked in a bakery and made frequent mention of cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven.  Yes please.

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding – wine and ice cream.  All the naughtiness and loads of calories.



Weekly Wrap Up 15th September 2019

Posted On 15 September 2019

Filed under Book Reviews

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This week has been a bit quieter in terms of reading.  But, on the doggy front my little dog is all good which is a big relief.  I’ve only read one book this week, I’ve just had too much going on.  I’ve also read the first 30% of two of my SPFBO books and I’m hoping to have an update in the next day or so.

My books:

  1. Bone China by Laura Purcell


Next scheduled reads:

  1. The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang
  2. The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli, Alicia Zaloga
  3. The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenslayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Witch Who Courted Death by Maria Lewis
  4. Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
  5. Ration by Cody T Luff
  6. Bone China by Laura Purcell

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Focus on Vintage Sci Fi Month : “If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”. #VintageSciFi

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading.” Ray Bradbury 

Vintage Sci-Fi Month.jpgVintage sci fi is a month long, none challenge, event that takes place every January to celebrate, read and discuss science fiction.  This event is the creation of Andrea at the Little Red Reviewer who fostered the notion of getting people to read and discuss some of the older books that are already out there.

Science Fiction isn’t my comfort zone to be honest but thanks to this event over the past few years I’ve now read and loved quite a number of sci fi classics that I would otherwise have missed.  The only real criteria is to read and discuss during the month of January and for the books to be published on or before 1979.

If, like me, you need a bit of guidance about what type of book might suit you then you’re going to love today’s post.  Andrea is visiting my blog today to talk about books – and the whole gist of the post is ‘if you like ‘x’ then you might like ‘y’.  Some great advice in this piece – read on and prepare to discover some potential reads for this event in January 2020.

Firstly, hello Andrea.

I’m excited to read on so without further ado let’s get straight to it….

“If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”.

‘I learned a wonderful little trick a few years ago, about giving people book recommendations.  I was on a small panel at a local science fiction convention, and the panelists were book reviewers, book bloggers, book sellers. And we were supposed to be recommending books to the audience. An audience member would say something like “Recommend me a good fantasy book”, and us panelists were supposed to offer titles that we thought the person would like.

Some panelists just responded with their favourite titles.

One of the panelists, she worked at a bookstore (and I wish I remembered her name!), she’d respond to every request for a recommendation with a question of her own, asking something like “tell me what you enjoyed most about the last few books that you read”.  She was trying to tease out if the person was looking for an action story, or a family story, or epic fantasy or first contact or a love triangle or magic or urban fantasy or a long running series or a stand alone, or whatever.

I have no idea what that panelist’s favorite books were, because she never said.  Once she’d had her short back and forth with the audience member, she’d say “well, you’ve let me know that you like such and such, and this other thing, and that you prefer book that have XYZ, and knowing that, I think you’d love such and such author”.  I was in awe.

While the listing below does include many of my favorites, I have done my best to emulate the panelist whose name I never got, the woman who taught me how to make “give me a book recommendation!” about the person who was asking, and not about me.

Here is the Vintage Science Fiction version of “If you liked that, you’ll probably like this”.

If you like Han Solo,  you’ll like C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith stories.  Smith is a pilot and smuggler, who has friends in every port. Always up for an adventure, he does make terrible decisions from time to time, but always with good intentions and usually a trusty blaster (or a friend with a blaster!) is around to help him out.


If you like Lovecraftian weirdness and/or New Weird or any combination thereof, you’re sure to enjoy C.L. Moore’s Black God’s Kiss.  Hard to believe that story was written in the 1930s!


If your favorite scene in The Traitor Baru Cormorant was when the economy gets purposely flooded and crashed, you might enjoy Nova  by Samuel Delany.  If you more enjoyed the conversations on the economics of colonization, A City in the North  by Marta Randall might be exactly what you’re looking for.  And speaking of Delany, if you enjoyed the movie Arrival, you’ll probably enjoy Delany’s Babel-17.

Looking for some fantasy adventure?  You’ll probably get a kick out of Leigh Brackett’s Skaith books, and Andre Norton’s Witch World books.

Do you enjoy having conversations about either a plummeting birth rate, or population out control? For the former, give Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm a read, for the latter track down a copy of The World Inside by Robert Silverberg.

If you loved The Good Place episodes that mentioned The Trolley Problem, you’ll get a kick out of The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin.  Fair warning, reading The Cold Equations will make you want to rewatch season 2 of The Good Place.


Enjoy cozy mysteries, but also kinda like the Cylons from new Battlestar Galactica?  Try The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov. You’ll have to be forgiving of some truly awful characterization, but the book is worth it to see what how people would react to a robot scare.  If you’ve ever said to yourself “why won’t this stupid machine do I what I tell it to do!”,  Asimov’s I Robot short stories are for you.

Oh, you’re a fan of Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora?  Give Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser stories and/or Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books a whirl.

You’ve seen the anime Space Dandy (please, please tell me I didn’t hallucinate that show!) and are looking for something zany, but also more satirical?   What you’re looking for is Stanislaw Lem’s The Star Diaries. 


Hard scifi more your thing?  Hal Clement is your guy, and no matter what you pick up of his, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Oh, you prefer your science fiction with a healthy dose of fantasy and mythology? (mayhaps you enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s American Gods?) Give Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny a try.

Lord of Light.jpg

If you enjoyed the TV show Farscape, and enjoy stories with lots of aliens and very few humans, Larry Niven’s Ringworld might work for you.

You want aliens, but not the friendly fuzzy kind, more like Peter Watts style aliens? Definitely read Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris.

Prefer something more epic, more sprawling, more world shattering?  If you’ve not yet read Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, now is the perfect time to pick it up.

Oh, you meant sprawling, epic Space Opera?  Dune by Frank Herbert.

Space Opera-ish, but shorter and lighter more your thing?  Anything by Cordwainer Smith will scratch that itch.

And if you’d like to cry at the end, try The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlien.


The best way to find a Vintage Sci Fi Book that you’re most likely to enjoy is to start with finding a contemporary book you already enjoy. What do you enjoy about that book?  The characters were great? Or there was lots of adventure? Or the dialog had lots of banter? Or there were space battles and aliens? Or maybe incomprehensible aliens but it’s a fun ride?   Start with something you know you enjoy, and go from there.’





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