#SPFBO Review : The Child of Silence by Joseph O.Doran (The Burning Orbit Book 1)

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

ChildofsilenceChild of Silence is a remarkable book in so many ways and one that I enjoyed reading.

This is a story told by Aiata dal’Pelferta, daughter of Telorla dal’Pelferta (mpress to Calosoa) and fourth in line to rule the nation.  During childbirth Aiata suffered from a lack of oxygen which left her dependent on others for virtually all her basic everyday requirements.  For the most part she is disregarded, her mother and family believe she has no intelligence or cognisant abilities and she is treated, at best, with disgust and fear or, at worst, ill used and abused by one of her brothers who enjoys tormenting (aka torturing) her when he deigns to notice her at all.  She is frequently neglected and left to sit in discomfort in her room, however, the inattention of others allows her to enjoy the only thing which gives her any respite.  Aiata loves to eavesdrop and the fact that people regard her as passive means she is often overlooked or left in nooks and crannies where she can overhear conversations which are private or scandalous.  

So, as the book starts we get a feel for the world and how things are in the capital city of Chalorne.  The City sits on a mountain with concentric rings progressing downwards.  The higher the tier the more prosperous, affluent or noble, with the palace at the very peak.  The lower rings are inhabited by labourers who primarily suffer abject poverty and hunger.  The levels are connected by a skyway that magically transports people from level to level at superfast speeds.  The Colasoa are believed to be God’s touched and in fact they believe themselves far superior to everyone else.  They have magical ability known as Songthrust which works very similarly to compulsion and allows them control of their servants, army and the rest of the casted population.

There are a number of key characters.  Aiata narrates the story.  As the story begins she can be a little difficult to like.  She’s definitely bought into the whole ‘superiority’ feelings that the Colasoa believe and she can have some not altogether ‘nice’ thoughts on occasion.  But, I cut her some slack, her life is difficult to say the least and as the story progresses Aiata’s character arc is very impressive. Aiata has two brothers and a sister.  Her eldest brother, Bachan, is the only one to treat her with any sort of kindness.  Her other brother and sister, Jeliv and Keia, treat Aiata absolutely atrociously often resorting to outright torture.  On top of this Aiata is cared for by a clerica and eventually she accrues an impressive network of spies within the palace.  She also strikes a friendship with one of the Couriers.  The Couriers are feared and respected.  They wear special armour and helmets that give them, speed and strength plus the ability to read people’s thoughts and emotions.

The plot.  Well, there are quite a number of threads going on here.  The Calosoa are a nation intent on rule.  They wage on war on others, the defeated swell their ranks of servers and their coffers with wealth – although they don’t see fit to distribute this wealth and that feeds into another element of the plot – rebellion.  On top of this there are court politics with lots of jostling between the Empress and her children.  There is also another element to the story that I won’t elaborate on here but is an interesting development.

What I really enjoyed with this book is that the author has come up with a MC who is so very different from what I’m accustomed to.  Aiata has so many hurdles to overcome and really struggles.  And, the way she is written answered my little niggles or queries as the book progressed with a particularly impressive character arc.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, I’m going to be brutally frank here and I will apologise for that upfront, but, this is over long.  Clearly, this is a labour of love and that shines through but at the same time there is just too much detail.  Even to the extent that  during action scenes there will be descriptions of the surroundings, which kind of lessens the momentum and pulls you out of the moment.  To be fair, as I already said, I do understand the desire to include everything and the world building is so rich with such a lot going on that no doubt it’s difficult to be ruthless with the red pen, but, this wordiness almost made me DNF this book and that would have been a real shame.  

In spite of the above though, I still thought this was an impressive read and I would recommend it.  You have to stick with the characters and the slightly bloated introduction to get to the real thrust of the story.

I received a copy courtesy of the author for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.





#SPFBO – My Next Steps

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

So, this is slightly new territory for me in that this year I’ve left all my possible books to the final month to read and review and I’ve decided to leave things fairly loose.  To be honest I’d like to read all 10 books before choosing semi-finalists but I’m also conscious that time is moving on and I need to keep on top of things and not leave everything to the last few days.  With that in mind I’m going to provide an update after I’ve completed the first five books, 

And, the following (not listed in any particular order) are the books that I will be reading (slight spoiler alert, in case you’re thinking this seems like a lot to get through I can say I’ve already completed three of these so hopefully my first update will come on swift wings

  1. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier
  2. Voice of War by Zack Argyle
  3. The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick
  4. The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran
  5. Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley
  6. Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez
  7. The Usurper (Brutal Saga #0.50) by James Alderdice
  8. The Hammer Of The Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe
  9. Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall
  10. Incursion by Mitchell Hogan

On a final note – if any of my authors have audio versions available and would like me to check those out then just leave me a comment.

Good luck to everyone.

#SPFBO : My Fourth Batch of Books : Update

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  You can find my first batch of books here and my update here,,my second batch of books and update here and here and my third batch of books plus update. Today I will be providing feedback on my fourth batch of books.

As with previous years I will read a batch of books each month.  I will read at least 30% (or approx 100 pages) and hopefully will choose one or two books from each batch to roll forward and read fully and review before choosing semi finalists and a finalist.  My book list is chosen randomly and the six books I will be reading this month are outlined below. Below are my thoughts with apologies to those authors whose books have been cut:

Rise of the Forgotten Sun (The Sun and the Raven #1) by Jon Monson 


Rise of The Forgotten Sun gets off to an interesting start. We meet Prince Aydiin who is travelling solo through the desert on a mission that he volunteered for. Aydiin’s uncle has been committing rebellious acts against the Sultan (Aydiin’s father) and Aydiin is hoping to find his uncle and negotiate peace – or at least that’s what he tells his uncle when he finally encounters him. Instead the Prince captures his uncle and plans to execute him immediately. Aydiin’s father however has other ideas and commands the Prince to return the rebel to the capital for trial and this is when things go wrong.

The Prince has come into possession of a strange gold coin that seems to be a map of the stars directing the bearer to a legendary tower in the heart of the Soulless Desert – nobody who enters the Soulless Desert returns but Aydiin isn’t deterred and he persuades his friend Barrick to accompany him on a treasure hunt. Of course this means deferring his trip back to the capital with his prisoner until he returns. – what could possibly go wrong.

Well, the two eventually find the tower, in spite of difficulty along the way and they discover a magical stone that seems to be absorbed (or transferred into Aydiin’s body) upon his touch. Finally, returning to the capital with their prisoner the train they are travelling on is ambushed and Aydiin’s uncle escapes leaving the Prince to face the wrath of the Sultan.

I found this an entertaining read to the point at which I broke off, it certainly has plenty going on and a fairly consistently rigorous pace. There is almost an Arabian Nights feel to the setting with plenty of imaginative elements thrown in such as intelligent and loyal dinosaurs (well one at least so far), gadgets that make me think steampunk and elements such as trains and guns and items of clothing such as Bowler Hats, which make me place this as a maybe 19th century read (could be very wrong with that guess though).

This very much has a fun style adventure feel at the moment although given the chapters I concluded on I think things are set to change dramatically.

In terms of criticisms. There is a lightness about this, a lack of the sort of detail that sometimes I want and notice when it’s not there. Some of the situations Aydiin finds himself in felt too easily resolved and lacked tension or a real sense of threat. But, as I already said, I think this could be a fun, over the top, fast paced adventure that will appeal to others.

Conclusion : Cut

The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran


This is going to be quick. I started The Child of Silence and cannot deny my immediate impressions were not favourable in spite of an interesting premise. The writing felt a little bloated and it was slowing down my reading. But, I also can’t deny that as I continued to my allocated cut off point I was becoming hooked as things started to take off and so I’ve decided to continue with this one and see if it continues to work it’s magic on me.

Conclusion : roll forward

Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley


I have to say that I’m also really enjoying Trial of Thorns at the moment so I’m going to continue reading for now.

Conclusion : roll forward

Emma and the Minotaur (World of Light, #1) by Jon Herrera


Emma and the Minotaur is (I think – but please correct me if I’m wrong) a MG story about a young girl who goes on a quest with a friend to find the truth about people who are going missing.

To the point I finished reading I found this an enjoyable story (with a couple of slight reservations).

Emma is a spirited young girl with an active imagination about magicians and aliens. Her father is a professor and she seems to take after him in terms of intelligence. Emma takes a liking to a sad young boy at school who is always alone and decides early on that she’s going to befriend him. It turns out that the young boy is sad because his father has gone missing. The two decide to embark on a quest that involves a relentless search of the neighbouring forest.

As I mentioned above this is a good, easy to read, well written story that managed to pique my curiosity. Emma can be a little over zealous sometimes but I put that down to her age and intelligence – she is always coming up with ‘plans’ and they’re not always the most appropriate.

In terms of criticisms – the only thing that gave me a few misgivings was that there were a few occasions where Emma’s recklessness made me wonder whether she was setting a good example for younger readers reading her story – I realise that probably sounds a bit odd but, for example, on one occasion she goes into the forest alone at night, even though she’s been told not to do so – simply because it’s a short cut. On another few occasions both Emma and her friend leave the school premises at lunch time. It just made me worry a little. There’s also the usual trope of the missing parents – this seems to be something that I find is heavily relied upon in fiction and it feels a little overused.

On the whole, little issues aside, I thought this was a good adventure story that seems to have a lot of promise.

Conclusion : Cut

Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez


Calico Thunder Rides Again has really impressed me so far. I’ve already read just over half so I won’t be reviewing it at this point.

Conclusion : roll forward

Shifter Shadows by Anthony Stevens


Shifter Shadows is another book that surprised me and I found myself enjoying it to the extent that I read over and above what I originally intended. This is an unusual story. As the book begins we go way back when, following a tribe of native Americans – I will just say that my knowledge here is sketchy so I’m not going to elaborate on what period this may have come from – although early parts of the story show the tribe living in caves and also there is mention of cave drawings. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, it was really interesting seeing the people, their interactions and the way that some of them connected to a spirit animal that allowed them to borrow it’s form and shape shift. These earlier chapters obviously provide the background to the supernatural elements and show how history progressed with settlers, etc.

We then jump forward to a modern day setting and make the acquaintance of a number of different people and their stories as they become aware or awaken – to their own abilities – and these storylines eventually come together.

I’m not going to elaborate on all the characters. We are introduced to quite a few, quite a lot of young people coming into their new abilities and finding the limitations of what they can and can’t do. At the same time there is a background feel that things are escalating somehow, and that these shapeshifters are about to be revealed (although I’m not sure if that is the case or not). At the same time there is a serial killer storyline that demonstrates a couple of things – that there are bad people everywhere and that the shifters ‘police’ their own – otherwise their secret won’t last for long.

In terms of criticisms. Some of the jumps in the story felt a little abrupt. In the earlier parts reading from one chapter to the next the timeline would jump forward many years at a time. Regarding the more modern day storyline, there are a lot of people introduced in fairly short order, I didn’t find this a problem although I sometimes felt that the relationships were a little too quickly formed and the Otherkin (shifters) were maybe a little too trusting in some respects – which felt a little wrong given the secrets they must keep.

Slight criticisms aside, I enjoyed reading this and would like to return to the story after the competition to see how things unfold and write a fuller review.

Conclusion : Cut

#SPFBO Saturday

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Today I’m combining two posts – my Cover Love (3) post that I usually post on Friday and my Saturday Snapshot where I post an excerpt from one of the forthcoming SPFBO books.  Basically I was a little too preoccupied yesterday to do anything so I’m squishing the two together here today so that I don’t lose track of things.

So, firstly, I’m highlighting three covers from amongst my own collection of books this week – take a look and see what you think. In the interests of keeping this post to a reasonable length I’ve not added the descriptions here but I have linked to the Goodreads and Amazon pages so you can check them out quite easily:

Rise of the Forgotten Sun (The Sun and the Raven #1) by Jon Monson


Emma and the Minotaur (World of Light, #1) by Jon Herrera


Burn (Desert Deities, #1) by G. E. Hathaway

Do you have a favourite?


Secondly, my sample today, kindly provided by the author, to shine a light on his SPFBO entry, is The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran – this is a tiny teaser, I’ve also provided the description, links and author information below.  Enjoy:


** Excerpt **


I am called Aiata dal’Pelferta. On the day I entered the world, I sustained massive damage to my brain. In a society where beauty is paramount, I have a weak, poorly-formed body that I can hardly move. Amongst a people where one’s voice grants incredible power, I cannot speak save for random sounds. For most of my life, those who knew me either resented my existence or liked to pretend I did not exist at all.

And worst of all, I was born fourth in line to the throne.


** Ends **


Further details for The Child of Silence:

ChildofsilenceYou’ve never met a hero like this before.

Born severely disabled, Aiata dal’Pelferta has spent her life despised by her own people simply for who she is. Worse still, she is the youngest daughter of the Empress, making her an Imperial embarrassment. Unable to talk, move or let anyone know she is a thinking, feeling person, she spends her days observing – and learning – from those around her.

Everything changes when she finally discovers a way to communicate and is plunged into the dangers of the Imperial court. With the magic of Songthrust, Aiata’s people can force others to their will, however they are ill-prepared for a popular revolt within their own borders – a revolt that Aiata is dragged into. Abused by her family and surrounded by danger, Aiata will learn that her intellect – not her magic – is her greatest asset, as she fights to save her home from the ravages of civil war.

Yet while all eyes are on the war at home, a far greater threat looms in the dark of the night sky.

Author info


Finally, I’ve made very good progress on my first batch of books and my update will follow very soon. Unfortunately this will involve cuts – which is my least favourite part of this first stage of the competition – but it is also a necessary part so I wanted to raise this in advance.