#SPFBO End of Month Update

Posted On 1 December 2018

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blackThe fourth month of the SPFBO has come to an end which means I now only have six more books to consider.  As with the previous months I chose a further six books at random to check during the course of November with the intention of reading at least 30% of each one.  As the month got underway I posted about the books chosen and you can find out more information about them and their authors here and here.  The aim of today’s post is to provide an update on my reading progress and also to decide which book/s have been chosen to stay in the contest after the fourth month.  I really don’t like this part of the competition, I don’t like cutting books and I feel bad for the authors of the books that are being cut but this is a competition and I only have one space.  So, these are my thoughts this month with deepest apologies to all the authors whose books have been cut to date, I can’t deny that these were really difficult decisions and there’s obviously an element on occasion of ‘it’s not you it’s me’.  I’ve provided ratings for the books, but these are based on the first third of the book and therefore could be subject to change.

For this particular batch of books I’m rolling one book forward.

The next 5 books that I will be cutting are as follows with a short review of my thoughts on each:

Clockworld1. Clockworld by Ben Myatt

I must say that I found Clockworld very easy to read and it is definitely a book that I will read fully and review.  As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Mouse, a tunnel runner, as he undertakes a job deep within the underbelly of the City.  Life is tough for Mouse but he has a good reputation and is a hardy and likable character.  Far above, in the higher echelons of the City is Princess Aldreia, not a lover of court politics the Princess is treated with little respect by most of the nobles and courtiers and prefers to escape the trials of Court even if it is to take part in lessons about the history of the city.  These two characters will eventually cross paths.  Of course, at the point at which I read up to the two have barely met.  What I do know is that things are taking place,  Whisperings and conspiracies, all centred around the Clock and the religion it inspires.  I enjoyed Clockworld with its steampunk feel and two young protagonists who appear to be on the brink of becoming it’s saviours.

I would rate this book a strong 3.5 to the point at which I stopped reading.

thebastardfromThe Bastard from Fairyland by Phil Parker

Another book that I fully intend to return to.  Robin is one of the fae, betrayed and banished from the fae realm he now lives amongst humans, in what appears to be an almost post apocalyptic style world – where rising sea levels have caused devastation.  He keeps himself remote – the humans dislike him and obviously he can’t return to his own kind – but, it seems some of his own kind are about to come looking for him, or more to the point the information he has regarding the whereabouts of a couple of would-be knights.  I liked what I read up to with the split between the fae and the human world.  I’m definitely intrigued to read more but with the 30% cut off in mind the story hadn’t developed quite enough to take it to the next stage.  It’s a conundrum because at the end of the day I don’t want to penalise an author for having a good set up and paying attention to the world building, or even for taking the time to develop the characters, but, I do have a cut off point and so whilst this book was really starting to take off it’s going to be one I return to to complete at a later date.

I would rate this as 3.5 of 5 stars to the point at which I stopped reading.

Sorcerers'IsleSorcerers’ Isle by DP Prior

Sorcerer’s Isle is dark fantasy.  It’s bleak and a bit brutal so bear that in mind.  The story is taken forward by two MCs.  The first is Snaith Harrow.  Snaith hopes to prove himself in the warrior trials and marry the girl he loves.  Tey Moonshine is the young woman who has caught Snaith’s heart.  Tey is a troubled young woman.  Brought up in an abusive home she seems not only to hear voices from within but has also carved sigils into virtually all her skin at the insistence of these voices.  It seems that Snaith and Tey’s paths are fated to intertwine although at the point I read up to I’m not sure exactly how (by which I mean, they’ve already met but Tey is about to be sent away).  Following a terrible accident at the trials both were injured and the clan sorcerer, Theurig takes an interest in the magical abilites of both – if magic is to be believed that is.  I think the writing here is good and it definitely pulled me along, the pacing is a little slow and so I can’t really say too much more in terms of plot up to the point I read.  My main problem is that this does feel rather bleak and on top of that, at the moment, I’m not really endeared to either character although they could work their magic if I read further.

I would rate this as a 3 out of 5 at the point at which I stopped reading.

VictorVictor Boone Will Save Us by David Joel Stevenson

I have to say from the outset that this is a book that made me laugh.  It’s a bit of a tongue in cheek take on the super hero trope.  Victor Boone is the superhero that never was.  Basically, the real superhero is Robby Willis but Robby is so shy that he can’t stand any sort of attention.  In a strange twist, in which Robby actually saves someone but Victor takes the credit, a partnership is formed in which Robby uses his abilities to help save people but Victor takes the credit and is the on-screen presence – that is until he’s murdered and someone discovers Robby’s secret.  So many tropes being poked fun at – I really did enjoy what I read and I would like to know what happens next for Robby.  At the point I read up to I wouldn’t say that the plot had sufficiently advanced to take this book forward but even now writing this review I’m smiling.  Yes, I would continue to read this just to see what happens next.

3.5 of 5 stars to the point I read up to.

SangrookThe Sangrook Saga by Steve Thomas 

As it says in the summary the Sangrooks ruled half the world until their defeat.  At least it was believed they were defeated when in actual fact that wasn’t the case.  Some of the Sangrooks remained alive.  The start of the story brings to us two brothers, one twisted and brought old before his time with the use of dark magic.  The other brother seems to conspire against his brother.  The older, more wasted brother is reckless, he kills and tortures with abandon, collecting any descendants of the Sangrook family to try and take their power by binding their souls to his.  The Sangrook Saga is only a fairly short book – I think just over 200 pages and I understand it’s divided into a number of stories about the Sangrooks through the ages.  It’s not a book that would ultimately work for me, it errs more on the side of horror, at least the chapters I read, but, the writing is good and I admit that I’m intrigued as to where the story will go – although secretly I suspect it may remain on the bleak side – almost like a cautionary tale.  If you fancy a quick read, a number of shortish stories, connected through family and history, a bit grim and brutal and bloody then this could work better for you than it does for me.

I would rate this as a 3 out of 5 to the point at which I finished reading.

The book I am rolling forward is:

Under Ordshaw by Phil Williams

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#SPFBO End of Month Update

Posted On 2 November 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
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blackThe third month of the SPFBO has come to an end which means that I’m now over half way through my books.  As with the first and second month I chose a further six books at random to check during the course of October with the intention of reading at least 30% of each one.  As the month got underway I posted about the books chosen and you can find out more information about them and their authors here and here.  The aim of today’s post is to provide an update on my reading progress and also to decide which books have been chosen to stay in the contest after the second month.  I really don’t like this part of the competition, I don’t like cutting books and I feel so bad for the authors of the books that are being cut but this is a competition and I only have one space.  So, these are my thoughts this month with deepest apologies to all the authors whose books have been cut to date, I can’t deny that these were really difficult decisions.  I’ve provided ratings for the books, but these are based on the first third of the book and therefore could be subject to change.

For this particular batch of books I’m rolling two books forward.

The next 4 books that I will be cutting are as follows with a short review of my thoughts on each:

a wizard's forgeA Wizard’s Forge (The Woern Saga, #1) by A.M. Justice

I made a good start on this and I have to admit I’m intrigued with what I’ve read so far (about 35%).  The writing is good and very easy to get along with.  The main protagonist is Victoria.  After succeeding in her goal to become a scholar, travelling from village to village sharing wisdom, Victoria is unfortunately abducted, along with a number of other villagers and sold into slavery.  Her new owner/master is manipulative and obsessive.  His aim is to completely possess Victoria, body and soul and as the story progresses she is undoubtedly falling under his sway.  I’m not really going to share too much more of the plot at this point but just discuss my thoughts so far.  I did enjoy this and it’s a book I’d like to return to, complete and review when the first stage of the SPFBO is out of the way.  As it is and up to the point that I read up to the only real issues I would note are that this seems very ambitious at the point I broke off, by which I mean there is a lot going on and plenty of ground to cover, as a result we seem to have jumps forward in time – which isn’t something I have a problem with as a rule but it felt here like the jumps left me feeling not quite as invested in Victoria as a I felt I should be somehow.  Of course, I’m only just over a third into the book so there’s plenty of time for things to develop but at just slightly over my cut off point I wanted to feel a little more attached. I would rate this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

llightdawningLight Dawning by Ty Arthur

Light Dawning is a very dark story, or so it seems from what I’ve read so far.  The story takes place in Cestia, once renowned for its opportunities it has been occupied by enemy forces who took over the city approximately three years ago.  There is a rebellion movement although it’s chances of success seem slim.  The occupying forces are brutal indeed and think nothing of slaughtering and raping those citizens who have managed to stay alive so far.  Most of the survivors believe there is little hope and I’m inclined to agree with them.  The main characters I read of up to the 32% mark were Myrr, who was, at the time of introduction, hiding in a safehouse from the knighthood, there is more to Myrr than originally meets the eye.  Erret is a missionary who seems to be using the occupation and the rebellion to stir up more trouble – all in the name of encouraging more converts to join his flock. Casterley who, in spite of his family being terrorised and broken apart by the enemy believes the rebellion can make a difference.  At this point all the characters come across in shades of grey – neither fully bad or fully good, which is something I do like.  I think my main issues with Light Dawning is that it really does come across in the first third of the book as maybe too bleak or dark for me.  There are dark forces at play, something demonic maybe – although I don’t have a clear take on that at the moment.  I think with the casual way in which the ruling forces kill and slaughter it feels like pretty soon there won’t be a city left to rule – and maybe that’s not something that concerns them, they’re looking for something in the city after all.  I guess I’m puzzled why they’re leaving people alive in the first place because they have very little regard for the remaining population.  This could work well for others, it just felt a little to grim for my tastes, more a case of ‘this is me not you’. I would rate this 3 out of 5 stars.

darkof

Dark of Winter by Christopher Percy

Dark of Winter is another of the stories that definitely intrigued me and I think I will have to read more because I’m incredibly curious.  I think I got off on the wrong foot with this one and didn’t find myself really enamoured at the start of the read but that changed with the introduction of the village and people of Sumner.  This is such an unusual race of people.  They seem to have suffered in the past and most of the villages have some kind of deformity, I’m not entirely sure why at this point.  Other villages stay away from them completely.  What I found pulled me into the story was the introduction of a character named Hidden.  At the start of the story Hidden has encountered a monster outside the village which he captures and returns with (I would point out if you’re thinking of picking this up that there is a particularly gruesome scene at this point).  This definitely portends evil and the approach of darkness.  At the same time, the village is unaware of the fact that a contingent of soldiers is marching through the wilds with the intent of wiping them out.  Things certainly seem bleak for Sumner.  Alongside this, a young girl has gone missing from the village and in the freezing conditions is unlikely to survive long, are these all just coincidental or is something bigger at play?  Search parties are dispatched to try and find her before it’s too late.  What I liked about this – as I said, the village and it’s occupants are quite fascinating, the talk of monsters and the dark is intriguing and a village where the dead can talk and give you advice is definitely something to take notice of.  Hidden also seems like a character that I’d like to get to know better. So, I got off to a slow start with this one but it had started to win me over.  This is a book that I would like to return to and review fully.  I would rate this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

How to go to Hell in 10,000 Easy StepsHow to go to Hell in 10,000 Easy Steps by Douglas Todd 

This book is very different indeed and actually quite compelling for that reason.  It’s one of those stories where everything becomes very unusual very quick.  The main character, Valerie, is fed up of life and has decided she wants to trade her soul for a better life – after all, she won’t need a soul once she’s dead will she?  Unfortunately, Hell is having a few problems of it’s own at the moment which makes this trade off a tad unlikely – actually, Hell stopped trying to tempt souls with offers of fame and fortune a while ago, it seems they have plenty of people on the way down into the inferno of their own volition and don’t need to make such deals – of course Valerie wasn’t aware of that fact before she made her attempt and like it or not she’s garnered some unwanted attention, especially as she’s now had a brief stint in hell and didn’t like it. This is such an unusual book and another of my batch that I will definitely return to.  In terms of criticisms so far.  I wasn’t convinced by Valerie’s desire to trade her soul – that part of the story felt too rushed, I didn’t really feel her despair and it took a while to warm up to her.  She’s quite a singular character and not one that I immediately liked.  On top of that there is definitely oddity here and at least one part of the read that felt almost uncomfortable to read.  But, I would like to read more, I can usually handle oddity quite well and I’d like to see how this concludes.  I would rate this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The two books I am rolling forward are: