#SPFBO 8 Cover Competition

SPFBO71024_1

If you follow my blog you’ll probably be aware that I take part in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) competition as a judge.   SPFBO 7 finished recently and SPFBO 8 is due to commence after a short break.

What’s SPFBO?  This is a competition for self published authors of fantasy fiction.  It’s the brainchild of Mark Lawrence and it’s mission (other than to boldly go….) is :

‘The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.’

Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list. 

As with SPFBO 7 The Critiquing Chemist and I will be teaming up again.  We had a lot of fun last year discussing our batch of books and can’t wait to start tucking into this year’s entries.  Check out the Critiquing Chemist’s intro and book cover post here.  These two ladies are just amazing and I can’t say enough good things about them and the charm and intelligence that they brought to our team last year, joining up has definitely been one of my better decisions. 

My SPFBO7 wrap up and intro to SPFBO8 will be posted shortly. 

In relation to the Cover Competition. 

Every year, as part of SPFBO, there is a cover competition.  Each of the 10 judges chooses 3 covers from their selection of books and these are then voted on by both the judges and the public.  Go ahead and take a look at all the lovely covers and make sure to vote on your favourites once the link becomes available (keep your eyes peeled here).

Below are the covers from LB=TC2′s batch.  Feast your eyes :

Scarlight

toaA

HellbornKing

The lich

Reign of

The World Breaker

WttSS

TFU

Falhorne

FountainGirl

Fallingthrough

EverAlice

Wherethevalle

Memoriesof

MissPercy's

Cutthroats

Crownkeeper

Theheretic

oneofone

DenofThieves

SerGhostwriter

Between ink

Elusionof

DarkHilarity\Asteriu&

The Hidden Blade

AKing's Radiance

TheAgeofFire

HIGH RES Cover

BloodofCrows


And the three covers chosen by Lynn’s Books and The Critiquing Chemist/Bookish Boffin’s are: 

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

Which covers are your favourites??


The Girl and the Moon (Book of the Ice #3) by Mark Lawrence #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

W&W

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.

Girl and the

My Five Word TL:DR Review : What the f**k just happened

To be honest I’m in two minds writing this review.  One is that you simply have to read all of Lawrence’s books to understand the magnitude of what he achieves in this third instalment of the Book of the Ice series.  There are a number of reveals and little surprises included here that were great to read with the benefit and hindsight of having read Lawrence’s other books.  At the same time I do appreciate that the idea of backtracking through so many books can be off putting for some readers in which case I would say simply pick up the series that most appeals to you and enjoy it for what it is.

If I’m going to be perfectly blunt I’m both dazzled and dazed by this third instalment.  It is without doubt mind blowing but at the same time it makes me feel like I might need a reread.  It makes me think of the film Interstellar (hear me out).  I love that film but I feel no shame whatsoever in admitting that I needed to watch it at least three times before I really felt I’d grasped everything – and when I say ‘everything’, let’s be honest, I probably still missed things.  In a very long winded way what I’m really trying to say is that Lawrence’s creation rewards patience by delivering a stunning work that encompasses multiple genres and a long picture that is cunningly clever.

You may be pleased to know that I’m going to keep this review fairly short(ish) which is not a reflection on the book but an admittance that spoilers could easily and inadvertently be dropped at this stage in the story and I have no desire to deprive readers of surprises along the way.

The story kicks off virtually where book 2 left off and we find Yaz and her companions in danger of losing their heads!  I won’t elaborate on that point but can say that the action and pace is intense from the get-go.  Yaz and her friends are embroiled in a desperate race to save their world and staying alive would also be nice.

We return here to the Corridor and the Convent of Sweet Mercy where novices are trained in the deadly arts and this is where our companions go, for a while, in two separate directions.  I loved this part of the story, the strange conundrum that happens to one party whilst the party that remain behind help us to revisit the Convent once again seeing it through their amazed ‘eyes’.

As with all the books I’ve read by this author his writing is just my catnip.  I love the way he writes and I’m not simply referring to the story or the plot, or even the pacing, the actual style just works for me on a very fundamental level.  It pulls me in easily and keeps me wanting to read more.  Another confession at this point – I did read until the early hours of the morning on one occasion and was so tired that when I picked it up the next day I realised that I’d have to backtrack as my brain had rebelled and although I was, technically speaking, ‘reading’ I wasn’t actually absorbing.  Again, the beauty of good writing that can entrance you so much that you’re hypnotised!

In a nutshell.  This book has so many winning elements.  A thrilling adventure.  A twisted ending.  Characters that you can love (and hate), a jaw dropping conclusion and also one that is packed with emotion and a series that manages to be fantasy and science fiction combined (which shouldn’t be a surprise when you have a former research scientist in control).  What a ride this has been, I’m not sure whether to unbuckle or not.  I feel like this ended on a note of completion but then again when you have multiple possibilities and time travel who knows.

In terms of criticisms.  A slight feeling of build up before the grande finale when it felt like things were being put into place and the pacing slowed a little but it was nice to have a breather.

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Friday Face Off : Kings or other Emperors/rulers

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:

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

So this week I’ve gone for a book from a series that I know I’ve highlighted before – so, why this book, well I don’t think I’ve used just this one book alone because at the time it didn’t have quite as many cover options.  So King of Thorns (The Broken Empire #2) by Mark Lawrence.  And here are some of the covers:

My 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 : Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

2021

September (RIP event)

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

The Girl and the Mountain (Book of the Ice #2) by Mark Lawrence

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Let the long game commence

Girl1Two things I have consistently mentioned in my reviews for books by Mark Lawrence.  Firstly, his style of writing is a joy to read and, secondly, he is masterful when it comes to the long game.

That being said, The Girl and the Stars, although I enjoyed it, was not my favourite of his work, although the prose was delicious and we were introduced to a bunch of new characters struggling to survive.  When I say it wasn’t my favourite, of course, I should point out it was still a 4 star read for me so don’t be distracted by my pointing that out.  Unfortunately Mr Lawrence has found himself up on a high pedestal, it’s a precarious place and all I can say is that with great success comes great expectations.

Now, before I start this review I would mention that this being a second book in series this review will undoubtedly contain unintentional spoilers.  I would also  suggest that if you’re intending to read this you should start with the first book in series as opposed to crashing in, in fact I think it might even be helpful to read Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor series (okay, it’s not essential that you do so but I certainly got a kick out of the conclusion to this one that was definitely served better by being familiar with that series).

Very helpfully the author provides a refresher before the book begins which I really appreciated. The Girl and the Mountain then picks up almost immediately where The Girl and the Stars left off.  Yaz has escaped the Pit of the Missing but is nonetheless in dire straits in fact you could reasonably suggest that a fitting catchphrase for this book (nay the series) might be ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’.  The friends that accompanied her have a much more perilous journey but eventually all the characters find themselves trapped inside the home of the priests, the Black Rock – which undoubtedly, and rightly, has an ominous ring. Now this portion of the book contains plenty to grip readers.  None of which I’m going to describe.  I would advise you to harden your heart because along with some shocking revelations for the characters there is also a little heartbreak along the way.  So, we discover that much of the way of life on the ice is founded on deception and lies, we already discovered some of that in book 1 but the start of TGatM reinforces it further and also reveals a much bigger conspiracy.

Yaz and a number of companions then undertake a perilous journey in search of the ‘fabled’ green land they’ve heard about.  This section of the story really concentrates on the characters.  Well, don’t get me wrong, there is hardship, danger and action but for me this really cements some of the friendships and helps to show the characters in a different light. Yaz is perhaps most in her comfort zone (if you can describe such conditions as comfortable) and even she loses her way a little as their journey progresses.  This journey is hard to say the least.

The story then takes a most extraordinary leap of imagination which even now is making my head spin.  To be honest I really don’t want to give anything away but it’s at times like this that I have an overwhelming desire to work my way back through some of the author’s other series.  Basically there’s a fusion of sci fi and fantasy here that starts to make me look at other things with curious eyes.  Anyway, I can’t speculate about it because I’m going round in circles arguing with myself about what it all means and trying to figure it out. Watch this space – but don’t hold your breath.

And, undeniably I loved the way that this one concluded.  Yes, it is a cliffhanger but it’s the sort of ending that makes me really anxious to pick up the next book.

What worked really well for me was travelling further afield, uncovering deceptions, greater character development and the promise of future reveals.

In terms of criticisms.  I thought that there was a slight slowing down as Yaz and her friends traversed the ice, but it was only a very slight blip before the author threw in the next crisis.  To be fair I enjoyed this section of the story for the character development that it allowed.

Overall I enjoyed this one.  It’s a book that really takes things forward in a very interesting way and I look forward to seeing where the author takes us next.

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

My rating 4.5 stars

 

 

Friday Face Off : Your Current Read

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:

Your current read (if it has covers to compare) or any recent read

Hopefully this week’s theme should be fairly easy (although sometimes with newer books there aren’t always lots of cover to compare).  This week, and the book I’m currently reading, has two covers so this will be a face off.  The book in question is The Girl and the Mountain (Book of the Ice #2) by Mark Lawrence, and here are the two covers:

vs

Girl2

I find it really difficult to choose between these two tbh.  I like both of them for entirely different reasons.  I love the first one with the dark background and the font colour that really pops.  Then the character wrapped up in all those furs against the cold.  The second one is almost completely different in terms of overall feel with a much lighter tone and the character walking towards the rather foreboding mountain (whereas in the first cover she’s walking away from it – I had to take a second or third glance because the mountain in the first isn’t immediately obvious). I have veered between the two covers, and so perhaps my final choice is based more on familiarity but my favourite this week is:

Girl1

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 – A series that you love – highlight all the books in the series

2021

April

30th– A series that you love – highlight all the books in the series

May

Month of Wyrd and Wonder

7th – A Series where the cover changed midway through – which style do you prefer most

14th – The earliest fantasy you recall reading – or the first fantasy book you really loved, maybe the book that kickstarted your love of fantasy

21st – The Top Hat

28th – The Hood

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

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