#SPFBO 2018 – all wrapped up


SPFBO 2018 has finally come to an end – all the scores and reviews are now published and the final chart with links to the different blog sites and other information can be found here.

Huge congratulations to the winner of the competition – Orconomics by J Zachary Pike (which concluded with an excellent and impressive final score) and the final line up looked like this:

Orconomics 8.65
Gods of Men 8.05
We Ride The Storm 8.05
Sworn to the Night 8.00
Symphony of the Wind 7.40
Aching God 6.90
Ruthless Magic 6.35
Out of Nowhere 5.50
The Anointed 5.10
Sowing 4.55

I would like to give a huge thank you to all the authors who took part.  It’s been a great competition with some amazing books.  Thanks also to Mark Lawrence and all the other bloggers for making this such a memorable year.

Below are the 10 finalists, all together, looking absolutely gorgeous:

and finally, here are my reviews of all the finalists:

  1. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  2. Orconomics by J Zachary Pike
  3. Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas
  4. We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
  5. Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon
  6. The Anointed by Keith Ward
  7. Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe
  8. Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer
  9. Aching God by Mike Shel
  10. Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc

** ‘SPFBO 2018’ signing out **


Sowing (The Purification Era #1) by Angie Grigaliunas


SowingSowing is the fourth finalist I’ve read as part of the SPFBO.  This is a low fantasy story, with a dystopian feel that felt like it was aimed at a YA audience – although there are certain elements of this story that don’t quite fit into that category (mention of rape, torture, etc).  To be honest, I had high hopes for this one but it didn’t quite work out for me and that could be a combination of the fact that I’m not really the intended audience and I also tend to read less dystopian fiction these days not to mention that I can be a bit of a stickler for the details.

The book revolves around two sisters and their struggles.  The city in which they live is ruled by the Hulcondans.  The Hulcondans fought off a massive threat to all humans many years ago and now rule this city (and others) with an iron fist.  Unfortunately, a force that started out as the saviour of the people, protecting them and saving them in their hour of need, has since dramatically changed.  The Hulcondans have become the oppressors of the people, they mercilessly stamp out any signs of dissent and on top of that take terrible liberties.  Rebellion is brewing, starting with the posting of subversive material around the city.  On the face of it this sounds like something I would love but I think the focus of the story was perhaps just too narrow for me to really get on board.

The two sisters are Ariliah and her older sister Rabreah.  Ariliah is very trusting of the system in place to maintain law and order.  She believes in the way of life and is basically a very obedient young woman who does her best to stay within the parameters dictated to her.  Her sister Rabreah feels quite differently.  Past events left her reputation in ruins and she longs to join the rebellion movement.  Again, this sounds good, on the face of it although it did leave me puzzled as to why Ariliah was so ready to believe in a system of power that had wronged her own sister, who she loves dearly, so very badly.

I think what I really struggled with here is the world building and character building.  I liked the concepts but for me a lot of the story seemed to revolve around the two young women and the male interest that had caught their eye and vice versa.  I realise that’s probably a really simplistic way of describing things but to be honest I really didn’t have any true vision in my own mind of what was going on.  I struggled to visualise the world and the City, why things were run the way they were, who the enemy really was or to know anything of the rebellion movement, in fact I found it difficult to come to grips with who was good or bad other than being told.  For example, at this point in time could I really say that the rebellion leader is any better than the leader of the Hulcondans?  Okay, this may be a little bit unfair because there were a couple of executions that were carried out by the Hulcondans – as little more than a display of their power.   But, that being said, the leader of the rebellion, who is clearly turning into the love focus for the older sister, has some very dubious methods himself.  On top of this, how does the place run, why are there so many soldiers that they can take time to wander nonchalantly round the city whenever the urge takes them.  Who decides the work allocation.  Why does the girl’s mother treat Ariliah so dreadfully??

To be honest, I’m not really keen on writing negative reviews.  I think this book will work for some people and not others.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t get more on board with this one but I do wish the author all the best with this series and would also like to thank her for the copy for review.

In terms of scoring I would give this 4.5 out of 10.




#SPFBO – Finalists No.4 and No.5


Today I’m highlighting the fourth and fifth books that I will be reading for the SPFBO Competition (more details here).  The first finalist I read was Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc and my review can be found here .  (My reviews for Symphony of the Wind and The Anointed will follow in the next week or so).  The purpose of this post is to shine a spotlight on the finalists and give readers a chance to see what they’re all about.  As already mentioned all my books are randomly selected and my 4th and 5th finalists will be:

Aching God (Iconoclasts #1) by Mike Shel

Aching God“Closer, mortal. You are here, finally, to feed the Aching God…”

The days of adventure are passed for Auric Manteo. Retired to the countryside with his scars and riches, he no longer delves into forbidden ruins seeking dark wisdom and treasure. That is, until old nightmares begin plaguing his sleep, heralding an urgent summons back to that old life.

To save his only daughter, Auric must return to the place of his greatest trauma: the haunted Barrowlands. With only a few inexperienced companions and an old soldier, he must confront the dangers of the ancient and wicked Djao civilization. Auric has survived fell beasts, insidious traps, and deadly hazards before. But can he contend with the malice of a bloodthirsty living god?

First book in the Iconoclasts trilogy, Aching God is the debut novel of RPG adventure designer Mike Shel. He is working on book 2, Sin Eater. The first two chapters of Sin Eater are included at the end of Aching God.


Sowing (The Purification Era #1) by Angie Grigaliunas

Sowing.jpgThey can take your house, your daughter, whatever they want.

For Ariliah, life under the militarized Hulcondans is one of order and safety. Despite the soldiers’ ruthless policies, she trusts their judgment. They alone provide protection from the enemies lurking beyond the city wall.

For her older sister, Rabreah, every glance from a Hulcondan is a threat. Though even a whisper against them is treason worthy of death, Rabreah is determined to end their tyranny. Joining an underground resistance is her only hope – until she realizes she doesn’t know the people she’s aligned herself with at all. Unsure who to trust but unable to back out, she must work alongside the attractive yet infuriating rebel leader who reminds her far too much of the soldiers she hates.

But with subversive posters appearing throughout the city and people dying on the blade of an unknown assailant, the sisters’ world begins to crumble.

And as the line between friend and enemy blurs, both girls must face the truth: everything is about to change.