Friday Face Off : The Hood #wyrdandwonder

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

 The Hood

May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder so for the FFO themes I’m choosing fantasy books.  This is my last FFO that links to the Wyrd and Wonder event – I cannot believe we’re almost into the month of June.  I’ll be writing a wrap up post shortly for what books I read this month.

W&W

I was looking forward to this week.  I read quite a few fantasy books and hoods are quite often used on covers.  I could do a medley but I already did a medley last week so instead I’ve chosen a very recent read and in fact the winner of the most recent Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson is a very good book that I heartily recommend, and, unusually (for self published books) it has three covers to choose from  all with hoods.  Feast your eyes on these:

My favourite this week:

TLW2

Do you have a favourite?

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next week – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

2021

June

4th – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

11th – A cover that annoyed you and why

18th – Out of Perspective, or make you feel a bit dizzy

25th – Upside down, back to front or topsy turvy

July

2nd – A book with a landscape you’d like to visit

9th – A Wicked Grin

16th – Books with ‘book’ in the title

23rd – A Black Hole – could be in the universe or going deep into the ground

30th – Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one

August

6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller

October

1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

#SPFBO Review (9): The Lost War (Eidyn #1) by Justin Lee Anderson

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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.  Stage 1 is now complete and the finalists can be found here. My previous book reviews can be found here, here, here, hereherehere, here and here. Today I am reviewing my final finalist.

The Lost War by Justin Les Anderson is the finalist put forward by the Booknest and you can find their review here.

LostWarSo, I’m going to start this review in a remarkably blunt fashion by saying it’s my favourite of the finalists. Although, I will say, that as I was reading this one, even though it was good, and although I knew something was coming, it felt a little generic. Okay, you need to stay with me here. Yes, this feels like a typical medieval world, things feel familiar, but at the same time things feel wrong, and, when you reach the conclusion you will know why. Now, I’m not the kind of reader who thinks it’s okay to redeem a story by giving readers a remarkable ending, but what we have here is something different – or more than that – this is a book that gives little hints along the way, a trail of breadcrumbs that leaves you with an overall feeling of disquiet.  It’s  not a book that you’ll second guess, at least I don’t imagine so, but it will be a book that will eventually take you by complete surprise.

So, this is a book that doesn’t let up,  It starts by introducing a few characters in a dilemma and from there the pace is pretty relentless. Aranok is a draoidh, he wields magic.  He travels with his bodyguard Allandria, a skilled archer and he is the kings envoy.  War has been waged, lands have been ravaged and although the enemy has been defeated the threat is far from over.  Aranok,and his companions, are sent on a mission, one in which they don’t entirely trust each other even though they face many foes together.

Okay, I will say, that for a large part of this tale there is a sense of familiarity. We have a typical fantasy setting, characters that feel comfortable and a certain amount of conflict.  The characters we initially meet head off with a mission and before we know it encounter problems.  They’re beset with demons and other foes and every way they turn lies danger.  Like me, you may begin to wonder why anybody would ever travel abroad with so many threats in store and it certainly felt like winning the war hadn’t really achieved a favourable outcome or easy place in which to live. I enjoyed the strong sense of feeling at home with this book.  It felt comfortable to read and easy to get on with.  The pacing is excellent and there was a constant sense of movement coupled with an ever growing sense of unease.

I think it might be best not to discuss the plot too much. There is a mission, there is an overriding compulsion to ignore the mission, and there is much danger along the way.

In terms of the characters, well, I can’t deny I was pretty much on board with them all. I liked them in exactly the way the author intended. There are a few characters involved in the story and you might not initially warm up to them all but they all have their roles to play and I confess that I formed attachments to them all.  Which is quite impressive really. Plus, given the ending I’m looking forward to reading more about them in the next instalment.

The setting feels familiar.  A land that has seen war.  The country is still ravaged.  On top of that plague and other unmentionables still threaten the people. There are demons and undead out in the wilds, not to mention bandits and something else that seems even worse.

To be honest, I don’t want to say too much about this one for fear of giving away spoilers.   This is a book that will make you feel you know what’s going on.  Like me, you may imagine you can guess the eventual reveal, and there certainly are hints along the way, but I never second guessed the actual reveal.

In terms of criticisms.  There is a little bit of build up – but not enough to really be a problem.  I think my biggest issue became the draoidhs.  It starts to feel like there are too many possibilities for their particular talents – like there are literally no boundaries which makes it feel like any situation could be rescued.

This probably feels slightly vague in some respects but I’m trying to keep things under wraps.

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

My rating 8.5

#SPFBO : Stage 1 Complete

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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 and my finalist announcement can be found here.

So, the first stage of the competition is now complete, 10 finalists have been chosen, the finalist page over at Mark Lawrence’s blog can be found here but for quick reference below are all the finalists with links to Goodreads:

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Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw

LastMemoria

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The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

TheCombatCodes

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The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson

LostWar

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Black Stone Heart by Michael R Fletcher

BlackStoneHeart

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Darkness Forged by Matt Larkin

Darkness Forged

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Voice of War by Zack Argyle

Voiceof

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The Fall of Erlon by Robert H Fleming

FallofErlon

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A Wind From the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree

AWind

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Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire

Shadow

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Nether Light by Shaun Paul Stevens

NetherLight

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Congratulations to all the finalists and good luck in Stage 2 😀