#SPFBO Cover Competition


If you’re familiar with this blog you’ll be aware that for the past three years I’ve taken part in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) created by Mark Lawrence (check out the details here).  Basically the SPFBO is a competition for self published authors.  Each year 300 books are submitted, 10 judges are awarded 30 books each, each judge submits one book to the final stage and finally one book, with the highest rating wins the competition.  As the contest begins we have a cover competition.  Below are the 30 covers for my books (list of titles and authors can be found here). I will be choosing 3 covers from the titles below to submit for the contest.  I already have 3 in mind and will post my choices on Friday – but, I want to give the authors a chance to check my list and ensure I have the most uptodate covers.

So, here they are – and there are some lovelies to feast your eyes on:

HighBarrensrebel's bladellightdawningThe Sangrook Sagathe lostsentinelcursedwishesHeart of the DestroyerSolace LostA Wizard's ForgeunderordshawsavageswordsForsaken KingdomSanctuary's FiendSorcerers' IsleHow to go to Hell in 10,000 Easy Stepscross fireShadow of a SlaveArgenterrapurplehazeclockworld


songsofsworn to theAnempiredeadmarshplumstonecovers_Dark_Oak_Jacob_Sannox_004-3victorboonedarkofwinterParagonTheBastardFF


#SPFBO 2018 – My book list

Posted On 2 July 2018

Filed under #SPFBO, Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 17 responses


I recently posted (here) about the next Self Published Fantasy Blog Off that’s due to start in August this year and said I would update my blog with the list of books I’ll be checking out.  Below is the list of books and authors I’ve been assigned.

I will be posting all my book covers very soon and choosing my three favourite covers for this year’s competition.  Note to authors.  I will be taking the covers from Goodreads so if there is a more uptodate version that you want me to check out then please let me know.

Here’s my list of book and authors – an exciting looking list which I can’t wait to get started on:

  1. Phil Parker – The Bastard from Fairyland
  2. K.D Wloch – Paragon
  3. Christopher Percy – Dark of Winter
  4. David Joel Stevenson – Victor Boone Will Save Us
  5. Jacob Sannox – Dark Oak
  6. Melika Dannese Lux – Deadmarsh Fay
  7. Tim Marquitz – An Empire of Tears
  8. Craig Schaefer – Sworn to the Night
  9. J.C Kang – Songs of Insurrection
  10. D.P Woolliscroft – Kingshold
  11. Ben Myatt – Clockworld
  12. Andrew Einspruch – The Purple Haze
  13. Donna Maree Hanson – Argenterra
  14. Saffron Bryant – Shadow of a Slave
  15. Andrea Domanski – Crossfire
  16. Douglas Todd – How to go to Hell in 10,000 Easy Steps
  17. D.P Prior – Sorcerers’ Isle
  18. Andrew Lynch – Sanctuary’s Fiend
  19.  J.R Rasmussen – Forsaken Kingdom
  20. Viel Nast – Savage Swords
  21. Phil Williams – Under Ordshaw
  22. A.M Justice – A Wizard’s Forge
  23. Mike Sliter – Solace Lost
  24. Kent Corlain – Heart of the Destroyer
  25. Marcy Kennedy – Cursed Wishes
  26. Suzanne Rogerson – The Lost Sentinel
  27. Steve Thomas – The Sangrook Saga
  28. Ty Arthur – Light Dawning
  29.  Frost Kay – Rebel’s Blade
  30. Alice Sabo – High Barrens

Are you familiar with any of these??


#SPFBO 2018 – coming soon!

Posted On 25 June 2018

Filed under #SPFBO, Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 13 responses

blackThe Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, brainchild of Mark Lawrence, will soon commence it’s fourth year.  In just under 48 hours 300 entries were received from self published authors and the doors are now closed.  If you want to read more about the competition find a link here to Mark Lawrence’s blog and some helpful information about the aims of the competition.  If you click on this link you will be able to see all the books submitted this year.  The books I’ve been allocated are listed there and I’m really excited to take a closer look at them all.

To all the authors taking part I’d like to say a big thank you – there wouldn’t be a contest without you and I wish you all the best of luck.  I hope you enjoy the competition, make a whole heap of friends and get the most from the experience.  I truly appreciate you putting your books out there for scrutiny and also realise how nerve wracking that can be.

The only advice I would give is to interact as much as possible and have a presence in the competition.  Use the facebook page, follow the #SPFBO twitter feed, chat, discuss and ruminate.

For my part, I will be shining a light on my books as often as possible.  If any authors would like to pay me a visit to either take part in interviews or submit written articles about their own piece of work or any other topic of choice – one and all are welcome.  I’m sure other aspiring authors would greatly appreciate any tidbits you can throw their way.

Finally, in the much repeated words of the Highlander :


My list of books and authors will be posted shortly.

My twitter feed is : @LynnsBooks

My email: lynnsbooks64@gmail.com – if you email me and I haven’t responded then please try again, unfortunately my emails can be a bit busy sometimes and it’s easy to overlook something – don’t be shy.




Tiger Lily (Tiger Lily #1) by K. Bird Lincoln #SPFBO

Posted On 21 April 2018

Filed under #SPFBO, Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 12 responses

Tiger Lily inspired mixed reactions in me.  It has so many elements that I love.  I was especially looking forward to reading a story set in ancient Japan and in that respect this story doesn’t disappoint at all.  The writing is beautiful, really really lovely and very easy to read.  And yet, for some reason, and I can barely put my finger on it I didn’t find myself loving this as much as I expected which is a real shame.

The story is told by Lily.  Born in the year of the Tiger, Lily is the outcast, the ugly duckling of the piece and something of a tomboy.  She’s always striking off into the woods to try and find some extra food to supplement the tiny amount that her family has to survive on.  These were very harsh times and life was certainly cheap.  Lily lives in a small and poor village and although her family have a little more kudos because of their father’s position as cook to the noble family their lives are still hard.  The year of the Tiger is not one you want to be born in as a female and although Lily tries hard and loves her family the year of her birth will always cast a dark shadow over everything she does.

Basically, one day, whilst Lily is yet again in the forest, in spite of her father’s express wishes for her to not go there, she stumbles upon trouble.  The Daimyo’s son, Ashikaga, has been wounded by the Pretender Emperor’s men and Lily saves his life by calling on the spirits.  The Emperor has forbidden the worship of Jindo Gods with Buddhism being the practiced religion.  Lily’s mother, before she disappeared, taught her the songs that attract the spirits and Lily still sings these when she’s alone in the woods.  However, in saving Ashikaga’s life her secret has been revealed placing her in a vulnerable position.  If exposed she will be executed.

The conflict in the story revolves around religion.  The Pretend Emperor believes in the old ways and prays to the spirits.  The spirits are in everything, in the rocks, the mountains, the trees and the rivers but the songs of worship are largely forgotten.  Lily’s ability to sing to the spirits could become a turning point in the war between the old religion and the new and both sides would seek to use her gifts for their own ends.

My favourite aspect of this story is the writing.  The prose is a real treat to read and the descriptions are just wonderful.  I loved reading about the place, how people lived and how everything worked.  It just really felt like the time and the era came to life on the page and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect.  I liked Lily – at first – she started to wear me down a little as the story progressed, but more of that to follow and there is a love story thrown into the mix.  Now, I freely admit that I’m not a lover of romance however if it’s not the main focus of the story I think it can play an important part and I would say that’s the case with Tiger Lily.   Without wanting to give too much away Lily and the noble born Ashikaga develop feelings for each other and whilst that might feel a little predictable there is an element of surprise to the relationship that I didn’t foresee.

So, why didn’t this quite work for me.  I think firstly Lily started to annoy me.  I understand that in this setting she’s a peasant, she has no place conversing with nobility and I could completely understand the fear and awe that she was swamped with when faced with certain situations.  I also understand the arrogance of the nobility, the privileged lives they led and the way that they lacked feelings or empathy for their lowly subjects.  But, as the story develops, as Lily and Ashikaga develop their own feelings I wanted something more.  I wanted Lily’s Tiger nature to burst out, it felt like she was more akin to a kitten than a tiger – yes, I appreciate that her life has been hard but although she starts out as something of a rebel, a tomboy and not particularly interested in gaining the good thoughts of the others from the village I felt that her own personality waned as the story progressed.  Put simply, although Lily saved Ashikaga’s life, and in spite of her being able to call the spirits I felt like her character became weaker and her actions more questionable as the narrative unfolded.

Tiger Lily is a relatively short story (I think under 300 pages) and it did feel like a quick read but at the same time this meant that the other characters felt a bit flat and the ending felt a bit rushed and a tad disappointing.

I certainly wouldn’t discourage others from reading this book.  I think the writing is really impressive.  For me, the plot felt it needed some more thought and the characters needed to be more fleshed out, particularly Lily who seemed to become a shadow of herself the more involved she became.  I understand that this is the first book in a series and I would read more, just to see if Lily really embraces her tiger nature and to see if a real spark ignites between her and Ashikaga.

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy of Tiger Lily.

I rated this 6 out of 10 which equates to 3 out of 5 on Goodreads.



Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension #1) by Andrew Rowe #SPFBO


sufficiently advancedSufficiently Advanced Magic is the fourth book I read from the nine finalists of the #SPFBO.  I enjoyed this, with a few reservations, and would definitely be interested in reading more in the Arcane Ascension series.

The book gets off to a good start opening as Corin Cadence is about to enter the Serpent Spire for his attunement trial.  Corin has been anxiously awaiting his trial.  Five years ago his brother entered the tower and never came out again.  Corin wants to find out why.

Survivors of the trials, and yes, they are the real deal with some of the participants meeting an unfortunate end, receive an attunement mark that basically bestows magical powers on the bearer of the mark.    Corin is hoping to reach the top of the tower to earn a boon from the goddess and find out what happened to his brother.  The tower itself is like a labyrinth of puzzles and traps.  Things shift unaccountably, walkways trigger deathly contraptions and taking the easy route is not really a good idea.

Now, it’s not spoilery to say that Corin survives the trials (otherwise this would be a fairly short story).  He receives an attunement although it’s not the one his ambitious family were hoping for.  This is a family that’s all about power and they were hoping that Corin would receive a mark befitting their status.  His survival of the tower is barely given a second thought when he returns home with an inadequate mark and one that means he will spend his life as an Enchanter.  I have to say for the record that coming up with creative ways of making simple things into weapons or protective items appeals to me much more than rushing headlong into battle and I found Corin’s attunement fascinating.

From here Corin goes to school.  Yes, this does seem a very well used trope but it’s a good one and no exception here.  I like magic schools and this one has plenty to keep the reader entertained.  On top of Corin’s learning, trying to improve his magical ability and gain friends there’s also an underlying story involving a message that Corin was given whilst in the tower.  I won’t elaborate further but not everything is as it first appears.

So, to the goodies first.

Magical schooling.  It’s a well used trope because it’s well loved.  I always enjoy this sort of setting and SAM is no exception.  Don’t be fooled into thinking this is aimed at a younger audience due to the school setting though because I don’t think that’s the case.

The writing is good, the dialogue is entertaining, the magical system has been thoroughly thought out.  Corin is a great character who you can’t help but like.  He’s not the usual ‘chosen one’ – something I breathed a real sigh of relief about.  He’s bookish and a bit awkward and he has some little quirks or oddities that just endear him to you.  Plus, he makes mistakes.  Who doesn’t make mistakes?  This makes him a lot more relatable and that plus his desire to improve just came across very strongly.  Put simply, he isn’t the best, he knows it, but he’s willing to do everything he can to improve.

There is no shortage of action whether it’s in the school or outside, there are plenty of fight scenes and a whole bunch of different critters and monsters are thrown into the mix which make for great entertainment.

I really enjoyed watching Corin’s struggles to make friends. He’s been out of the school scene since his brother’s disappearance.  His parents took him out of school to tutor him privately and make sure he was at his best before entering the tower.  Corin’s father is greatly disappointed in Corin.  His first son carried all his hopes and aspirations and Corin is a weaker and more bookish version who can just about avoid stabbing himself when armed with a sword.  Well, actually, that’s not entirely true.  Corin is, in fairness, quite adept at looking after himself but his father will never acknowledge it.

In terms of my niggles.

It feels a little like a book of two halves.  The first half loses a lot of pace due to all the explanation about the magic involved.  It feels like there’s a lot of information to relay and it becomes a bit much and also a little repetitive in parts.  It definitely slowed the read down quite a bit for me and although the second half picks up momentum it took a while to get to that point where I couldn’t put the book down.

The idea of Corin being on a quest to find his brother lost some of its urgency.  In fact I didn’t really buy into the quest to be honest.  It got lost in the background a little bit when Corin went to school and I never really felt any emotion from Corin in terms of his brother.

There was an element of predictability about some of the final twists.  This was due to the actions of some of the characters that just didn’t sit right for me when I read them.  This wasn’t a massive concern but there were just a couple of times when it brought me up short but obviously I’m not going to elaborate as that will lead to spoilers.

Overall, this is a very good read.  I thought the ending was excellent and a great set up for the next instalment.  It suffered a little in terms of predictability and pacing but it makes a very good start to series.

I’ve rated this a 7, which equates to 3.5 on Goodreads.

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



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