#SPFBO 2018 – all wrapped up

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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 **

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#SPFBO The Gods of Men (The Gods of Men #1) by Barbara Kloss

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TheGodsofMenThe Gods of Men is the seventh finalist I’ve read as part of the SPFBO and brings to us a story of two people, with very different backgrounds, thrown together by need and both with secrets about their true identity.

The story begins with an introduction to a young girl, Imari, as she waits to perform a musical number for guests at an event, unfortunately, the performance is a little more powerful than anticipated.  It seems that Imari is capable of wielding magic and her lack of control or knowledge proves fatal and she is forced to flee.

We then jump forward ten years.  Imari lives under the alias Sable and works as a healer in a harsh place appropriately named the Wilds.  She takes risks to help others in some desperate attempt to redeem herself but it seems that she is drawing the wrong sort of attention and her life is about to once again take a dramatic turn forcing her to flee her home for the second time.

Jeric is a prince, second in line to the Corinthian throne, he has become a ruthless killing machine in the war against magic.  He is known as the Wolf and has killed many in his pursuit to seemingly wipe out a race of people.  His latest mission however sends him into the Wilds in search of a healer for his sick father.  I don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers by saying the healer in question is Sable and the two are forced into an unlikely coupling as events come to a dramatic head and Sable is forced to flee the Wilds with Jeric (or Jos as he is known for much of the novel) her only protection.

Now, obviously a large part of this story focuses on Sable and Jos and clearly this takes a romantic turn, but, I have to say that this is a budding romance that is very well done.  There is no insta love here I’m pleased to say and the interactions between the two feels frayed by the tension they have through the need for secrecy and the dislike and distrust the two have for each other which is countered by the simple desire they feel creating an enjoyable chemistry on page.  I guess the obvious comparison here is Romeo and Juliet.  Sable and Jos are two characters that couldn’t be further apart and would in fact be likely to despise each other if their identities were immediately known.  As it is, their time running from danger allows them time to see things differently and to break down their own fierce prejudices.  In fact it gave me Pride and Prejudice vibes in that respect – although to be clear – this isn’t like that particular book in any other respect than the breaking down of barriers and the eventual seeing of things from another’s pov.

In terms of the world building.  I thought this was quite well done in terms of coming through easily during the read as opposed to huge info dumps – but, I felt I would have liked a little more information.  I wouldn’t say that I felt I had a firm grip of the whys and wherefores about the place itself or a really solid picture in my mind of the different people, their religions and the history between them although that could be down to me not taking things on board or missing things.

The characters.  Primarily we focus on the central pairing but there are others, namely the villains of the piece.  Jos’s brother for example who is cruel and manipulative, he uses his younger brother quite ruthlessly and is something of a nasty piece and it’s very easy to dislike him.  There are a number of other dark characters with their own motivations but I’m going to leave readers to discover them along the way – although I would give a quick mention to the Shades -which are a particularly nasty type of critter living outside the villages.  Very violent and poisonous and only prevented from creating havoc by magical wards placed around the outer boundaries that stop their entry.

Gods of Men is a book that I enjoyed but with a few reservations.  Firstly, I was a little bit disappointed that the initial story jumped forward so quickly. I would have liked to know something more of Imari’s time before she progressed to a healer known as Sable – but that’s only a small quibble really and not a deal breaker at all.  Jeric was a character that I struggled with a little bit to be honest.  I didn’t dislike him in some respects and obviously he has a story of his own that is gradually revealed but I struggled with a couple of things.  Firstly, he’s almost invincible, an excellent tracker and fighter by all accounts and yet I didn’t really feel that his abilities were convincing.  It felt a little like I was being told he was ‘brilliant’ rather than it coming across on the page.  And then there’s his own hatred of a race of people that he seems determined to eliminate single handedly.  Now, there is a reasoning behind this that will be revealed as the story progresses but I just found it difficult to reconcile ever really liking him when I couldn’t help think of all the people he had killed so ruthlessly.  Now, in some respects this conflict makes him a really good character to read about and also gives his character the chance for a very good story arc but I think he needed more internal conflict and regret to make that really plausible.

To be honest, I think Gods of Men is a very good start to series and definitely one I would recommend.  I did have some issues with it but nothing that would prevent me from continuing with the series as I think there’s still a lot left to explore.

I would rate this book 7.5 out of 10 for the purposes of the competition which equates to just over 3.5 out of 5 on Goodreads.

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 5th May 2019

This week has gone a little bit pear shaped!  I’ve been very busy and in fact before the weekend had done very little reading.  I managed to complete Gods of Men early in the week and then virtually did no further reading until this weekend.  I have managed to read another book but it was off plan – although still a review book so it’s all good really.  So, I’ve read two books this week and here’s my week in review:

My books:

  1. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  2. The Furies by Katie Lowe

Next week’s reads:

  1. Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  2. Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
  3. A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

Upcoming reviews

  1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  2. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
  3. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  4. The Furies by Katie Lowe

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

#SPFBO – Finalists No.6 and No.7

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Today I’m highlighting the sixth and seventh 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 are here and here.  My reviews for Sowing and Aching God will follow very soon.  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 next two finalists will be:

RuthlessMagicRuthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1) by Megan Crewe

In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die… or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages’ Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents’ low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix.

 

TheGodsofMenThe Gods of Men (The Gods of Men #1) by Barbara Kloss

Sable hated the gods. She hated what men did in their name.

Magic is forbidden throughout the Five Provinces; those born with it are hunted and killed. Sable doesn’t know her music holds power over souls—not until, at age nine, she plays her flute before the desert court and accidentally stops her baby sister’s heart, killing her. Horrified by what she’s done and fearing for her life, she flees north, out of Provincial jurisdiction and into the frigid land of exiles and thieves, known as The Wilds. There, Sable lives in hiding, burdened by guilt, and survives as a healer. But now, ten years later, someone—or something—is hunting her.

On the run again, Sable’s best chance for survival is Jos, a lethal man from the Five Provinces, who claims to need her skills as a healer to save his dying father, and she needs the large sum of money he’s offered. There’s something about him Sable doesn’t trust, but she doesn’t have many options. A spirit of the dead is hunting her, summoned by a mysterious necromancer, and it’s getting closer.

Sable soon discovers she’s just the start of the necromancer’s plan to take over the Five Provinces, and she’s the only one with the power to stop it. But harnessing her forbidden power means revealing it to the world, and the dangerous Provincial, Jos, she’s beginning to fall for.

Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, and Victoria Schwab will love this dark and epic fantasy adventure.