#SPFBO Feedback on the Fifth/Final Batch of Books


I’ve completed my fifth and final batch of books for the SPFBO competition.  I’m almost at the end of Stage 1 and now need to finish those books that I’ve rolled forward and decide on semi-finalists before choosing the title I’ll be taking forward to the second round.  For now, below are the six books that I read in this final batch.  With my apologies to the authors/books cut at this stage I’m going to get straight to my feedback and mini reviews.

So, straight to the feedback:

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The Young Practitioner by E.M Neftelberg

The Young Practitioner brings to us  story of a young orphan girl named Alva.  Alva is a very curious natured young girl who loves to read and to ask questions – which doesn’t always endear her to the other orphans.  She is aware of something within herself that seems akin to magic whereby she is able to influence events in a favourable way – although she has no idea if this is real or not, what it means or even if she’s imagining things.

Recently Alva has noticed that her town is becoming full of strangers who seem intent on a mission but before she has time to learn more the town comes under attack and Alva flees with the aid of a man (a deserter that the soldiers were looking for) before the two set out on a journey together.

The Young Practitioner was a quick enough read and Alva and her companion had already encountered a couple of mini adventures, not all of them favourable, by the time I reached my cut off point.   Unfortunately, and this is no doubt an ‘it’s me not you’ feeling, Alva and her companion hadn’t really grown on me by this point and I was also a little puzzled about the intended audience.  In one respect I think this could work for MG readers, Alva has quite a young voice and certain elements of the story seemed geared towards a younger audience but then there was talk of massacres (although only briefly touched upon).

Author Info:


The Missing Shield by LL Thomsen

‘A forgotten war. A world of nine realms. Old betrayal, broken magic, new perils and a friendship worth dying for – be prepared to immerse yourself in an epic fantasy series, unlike anything you have read so far!’

The Missing Shield certainly has a lot of promise. High fantasy, well written to where I read up to, very character led and I imagine it’s going to be epic – but, to be honest, it didn’t really work for me.  It has a very slow start with plenty of dialogue, alternating chapters and much debate between Guardians that had a very political feel.  I must say that I liked the alternating chapters where a woman is fighting an illegal fight and I was curious to know more about her but, by the time I reached my cut off point, the story hadn’t moved forward enough for me to want to continue.

I certainly wouldn’t discourage anybody from picking this up – it just didn’t work for me within the allocated 30%.

Author Info:


Never Die by Rob J Hayes

I’m not going to be discussing Never Die as I’m rolling it forward and will read and review once completed.

Author Info:

Twitter : RoboftheHayes



Shard & Shield by Laura Vanarendonk Baugh

Shard and Shield gets off to an interesting start.  We meet Ariana and Shianan who are about to undertake a mission involving the retrieval of an ancient artifact.  Ariana is a mage and also the daughter of the most powerful mage in the kingdom although she has passed a recent test that would have seen her initiated.  Shianan is the bastard son of the king but clearly not a favourite.  He has spent his time in the military gradually progressing in rank and managing to evade death.  The two are accompanied on their mission by a young boy, a slave to Ariana and her father – but there is much more to this young boy than at first appears.

Fortunately, the two retrieve the artefact and manage to return safely although they do suffer attack along the way.  This is a story involving a dual world – although I haven’t read far enough forward to speak with any authority about the Ryuvens – although they are generally considered to be winged monsters.

I enjoyed this to be honest, it has a lot of promise and is intriguing.  I suspect that the two worlds involved here are equally full of prejudices and to the part I’d reached (in which Ariana is herself taken hostage by the Ryuvens I imagine that she’s going to discover more about her enemies motives.

A good read to the point I reached.

Author Info;

Twitter : Laura_VAB


Edgehaven by Steven Smith

On the face of it Edgehaven ticks a lot of boxes for me.  It sits in the realm of fantasy and yet has a mystery feel to it with the police being called in to investigate after sightings of a child are reported on a beach, a child who then simply disappears.  This is followed by a young girl’s disappearance from home and coincidentally it appears that she may have last been seen at the beach.

Detective Warnford is called in to help investigate the sightings and presumably, around the time I stopped reading, would also have become involved in the missing child case.

Like I said above, this should work really well for me with the intrigue and mystery and the whole investigative angle but at the point I broke off reading I was unable to really sink into the read for some reason.  It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly why at this point but Edgehaven just didn’t quite work for me.  To be fair, it’s difficult to give a really fair assessment after having read only 30% and it’s possible this is a slow starter but I’m using the same approach for all the books.

Author Info:

Twitter : Dragonsreclaim



Shadows in the Stone by Diane Lynn McGyver 

I have to say I had quite a good time with Shadows in the Stone.  As the story gets underway we’re introduced to a number of characters and events quickly unfold surrounding the birth of a baby girl who after a few years and in the most unusual set of events ends up under the care of a soldier.  Corporal Bronwyn Darrow is the young soldier in question and his new responsibilities see him attract the interest of a beautiful enchantress, who was herself also interested in the young child.  Now, to be fair, I have to say you have to suspend your disbelief for this part of the story because it really does seem a bit unlikely that this young girl would find herself under the care of a single soldier situated in army barracks – simply because he was the first person to appear on the scene when trouble arose – but, if you put that little issue aside this makes for a good read.

There is definitely a romance on the cards, I would say, although I could be wrong as at the point I broke off trouble seemed to be brewing and so it’s quite possible that the two main characters could find themselves separated.

Like I said, I quite enjoyed this and it’s a story that I would definitely think about returning to if I have a chance at the end of the competition.

Author Info :

Twitter : DianeTibert
I shall post again on Saturday to give an uptodate position of where I currently stand in terms of books rolled forward so far.