#SPFBO : My Fifth/Final 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 updates for batch 1, batch 2, batch 3 and Batch 4 by clicking on the  links:

As with previous years I will read a batch of books each month.  I will read at least 30% (or 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. 

This batch of books made for good reading and some very difficult choices.  Unfortunately I can’t carry all the books forward so as ever there will be cuts with my sincere apologies to those authors.   

Long Stories

Long Stories: Early Immortals and the Birth of Death by) by Evan Witmer 

This is an unusual story primarily focusing on Death.  Basically, God created Death to kill the Immortals.  Primarily these immortals are made up of vampires, but there are also witches, and others that are swelling the numbers of long lived bodies down on Earth. Death teleports round the world finding his next victims and eliminating them swiftly before burying the bodies. 

Eventually, all the immortals bar one have been eliminated.  Lucy.  Lucy is a very strange case, over 100 years old but she is still a child and Death finds it impossible to kill her.

Unfortunately this one didn’t quite work out for me.  I struggled to get a feel for the characters or understand where the story was going.  To the point I read up to it felt like a series of anecdotes that jumped back and forth in time relating Death’s encounters. There’s a tongue in cheek tone and a very surreal feel and I’m surprised that this didn’t work out for me given all the fantasy elements but I was unable to connect with it.

Conclusion : Cut



Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier

I’m not reviewing Tuyo at the moment as I’ve decided to carry this one forward.

Conclusion: roll forward



Voice of War by Zack Argyle

I’m also not reviewing Voice of War as I want to read further.

Conclusion : roll forward



The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

Again, no review at this point as I would like to continue reading.

Conclusion : roll forward


War Bringer

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges

I must say that I enjoyed reading War Bringer to the point I read up to.  This is a world inhabited by creatures known as the Tangata.  The Tangata seem intent on destroying mankind, they are strong, fast and feral and they are gathering their forces to launch what feels like a final attack.

The story has three clear threads.  Romaine is a warrior.  His homeland has been invaded and destroyed by the Tangata.  We first meet Romaine whilst he’s on a foray into the wild.  He and his captain and party follow Tangata tracks into the wild where they manage to survive an attack and rescue a woman who is alone in the wild.    Erika is an Archivist for the Queen.  She believes that ancient artefacts are the key to defeating the Tangata and seeks these artefacts out.  Whilst on such a mission Erika finds what appears to be a map that provides the location of other ancient sites.  She also finds a magic gauntlet although it’s unclear what the gauntlet can actually do at this point.  Finally, Lukys.  He’s a new recruit, sent to the frontier.  After surviving a brutal Tangata attack he has decided that his best hope is to seek help from Romaine.

I thought this had a good pace and the three storylines worked very well in taking the story forward.  I enjoyed the style and I’m definitely curious about the history and would like to know more about the Tangata.

In terms of criticism.  The only thing that occurred to me was that considering how deadly the Tangata were Romaine seemed to deal with them remarkably well – which kind of belied the threat a little for me.

Overall I would like to read this one at a later date and review more fully.

Conclusion : cut 




Exile was another enjoyable read.  It has a slightly generic feel with a mediaeval backdrop, castles, nobles and an old school swords and sorcery feel. 

The MC, Aron, is a sell sword.  He gets into bother as the story sets off when he kills a man and is taken prisoner by the local Earl.  The Earl of Nandor’s son has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by their enemy.  Aron has unwittingly killed the Earl’s champion and so finds himself pressed into service as part of a rescue party.

I didn’t have any trouble getting into this story but I had a couple of issues.  Firstly, I was puzzled by the Earl – he sends another noble on the mission to lead the party, but this same noble is hoping to marry one of the Earl’s daughters and basically, if the Earl’s son and heir fails to return, said marriage will result in this noble becoming the next Earl.  This seems like a real conflict to me, surely this man would be more than happy for the mission to fail and if the Earl can’t see this himself then I don’t understand why not.

Also, there are a number of romantic threads so far – which I don’t have a problem with as such – other than it seems that the Earl’s wife and both his daughters are making a play for Aron and it felt a little over the top.  It also gave me misgivings about Aron as he seemed just to go with the flow making out with whoever/whenever.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, I enjoyed the writing and was actually starting to like Aron at the point I concluded reading but it didn’t stand above the other books from this batch that I’ve decided to roll forward.

Conclusion : cut



Mid-Lich Crisis by Steve Thomas 

This was another enjoyable book.  I dual read and listened to this one as I had a copy of both versions and I must say that the audio version is very well done.

I’m not reviewing at this point as I would like to conclude the book and review fully but at this stage I won’t be rolling this forward in terms of the competition simply because this batch has some very strong contenders.

Conclusion : cut


My thanks to all the authors who have taken part. I’ve had some very good books in my lot and will be providing an update tomorrow about the rest of my process going forward.


#SPFBO : My Fifth/Final Batch of Books

Posted On 26 September 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 14 responses

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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 1, batch 2, batch 3 and Batch 4 by clicking on the  links:

As with previous years I will read a batch of books each month.  I will read at least 30% (or 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.  This month I will  have 7 books to check out (as I carried MidLich Crisis over in order to wait for the audio copy to become available).  I’m hoping to complete all of these fairly swiftly and provide an update asap (in fact I’ve already started reading in order to get a little ahead.  Expect my next update fairly quickly, maybe in another week or so if things go according to plan.

Long Stories

Long Stories: Early Immortals and the Birth of Death by) by Evan Witmer 

Immortals have infested the Earth, using dark magic to stay alive eternally. God creates an assassin, Death, to teleport around the world and kill them off one by one. All goes according to plan till Death meets Lucy, an adorable little girl that’s over a century old. Unable to cut her to bits, Death finds another way…

Author Info

Twitter : @FictionOdd


Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier

Raised a warrior in the harsh winter country, Ryo inGara has always been willing to die for his family and his tribe. When war erupts against the summer country, the prospect of death in battle seems imminent. But when his warleader leaves Ryo as a sacrifice — a tuyo — to die at the hands of their enemies, he faces a fate he never imagined.

Ryo’s captor, a lord of the summer country, may be an enemy . . . but far worse enemies are moving, with the current war nothing but the opening moves in a hidden game Ryo barely glimpses, a game in which all his people may be merely pawns. Suddenly Ryo finds his convictions overturned and his loyalties uncertain. Should he support the man who holds him prisoner, the only man who may be able to defeat their greater enemy? And even if he does, can he persuade his people to do the same?

Author Info

Website : http://www.rachelneumeier.com/


Voice of War by Zack Argyle

Chrys Valerian is a threadweaver, a high general, and soon-to-be father. But to the people of Alchea, he is the Apogee—the man who won the war.

When a stranger’s prophecy foretells danger to Chrys’ child, he must do everything in his power to protect his family—even if the most dangerous enemy is the voice in his own head.

To the west, a sheltered girl seeks to find her place in the world.

To the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.

Together, they will change the world—whether they intend to or not.

Author Info

Twitter : SFFAuthor

Website : https://www.zackargyle.com/blog


The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

Impossible world. Impossible dragon. Impossible adventure.

Lost with her ship and crew in an unfamiliar land, Min’s first command could be her last.

Nothing here behaves the way it should:

The magic that powers her skyship has been drained, rendering it immobile.

The sky is an endless twilight, lit by the luminous fish that swim in it.

Off starboard, there’s also the country-sized dragon that is looking particularly hungry.

It will take all of Min’s training and experience to get her people safely back home, but as the truth about the Darkstar Dimension begins to be revealed, Min will have to prove to her crew – and to herself – that she is still the best person for the job.

Author Info

Twitter : benedictpaddy

Website : http://www.benedictpatrick.com

War Bringer

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artefacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not the only thing waiting beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Author Info

Twitter : aarondhodges

Website : http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz/


Exile by Martin Owton

Aron of Darien, raised in exile after his homeland is conquered by a treacherous warlord, makes his way in the world on the strength of his wits and skill with a sword. Both are sorely tested when he is impressed into the service of the Earl of Nandor to rescue his heir from captivity in the fortress of Sarazan. The rescue goes awry. Aron and his companions are betrayed and must flee for their lives. Pursued by steel and magic, they find new friends and old enemies on the road that leads, after many turns, to the city of the High King. There Aron must face his father’s murderer before risking everything in a fight to the death with the deadliest swordsman in the kingdom

Author Info

Website : http://www.martinowton.com

Mid-Lich Crisis by Steve Thomas – I posted information about this book in Batch 2 which you can check out by clicking on the link.

That’s it for this month.  Good luck to all the authors.

#SPFBO5 My fifth/final batch of books

Posted On 29 October 2019

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 17 responses


November is the fifth and final month of stage 1 of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.  I’ve started my November books a little earlier than planned in order to try and press on in selecting my semi finalists.  As with last year I have divided my 30 books into five batches of six books (selected using a random sequence generator).  Each month I will highlight that month’s selection at the start of the month, providing details about the books and the authors.  As the month progresses I hope to have a clear favourite out of each batch – although things don’t always go to plan of course – I will provide mini reviews for each book and hopefully a full review for each book that I read fully or choose to be a semi finalist.  The aim being to then choose a finalist from those semi finalists.

I’d like to wish everyone the best of luck and I hope you all enjoy the competition.

Without further ado here are my six books for November:


The YoungP.jpgThe Young Practitioner by E.M Neftelberg

Alva only knows of the outside world through books, and none can tell her of the mysterious power she has within herself: the power to change reality. When soldiers from a faraway land march on her town in pursuit of a deserter, she flees the chaos and finds him, a man whose only desire is to reunite with his long lost family. This meeting sparks a journey into a world where magic hides in plain sight, its use granted only to a handful of girls and women called Practitioners. Can Alva find her place in mundane society as a curious little girl or in the unusual as a young Practitioner? Or is there no place left for her to call home?

Author Info:


Achangeofrules.jpgThe 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!


Here begins the Veil Keepers Quest – the beginning of an end; a journey and a quest to restore the Veils that protect the world of Dallancea from the mad creatures who style themselves ‘Gods’.

Already chaos has claimed a foothold, nothing is as it were. Magic lies broken and twisted: useless; monsters walk the realms; and worst of all… the sacred twins and the ancient artefact needed to protect the future, are nowhere to be found.

Seems that Dallancea needs heroes; seems that destiny must call upon an unlikely group of people, but will they listen? As these things are wont to do, it begins with a bad day. Could it be time to break the rules?

Author Info:


NeverDie.jpgNever Die by Rob J Hayes

Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war.

Author Info:

Twitter : RoboftheHayes



Shard & Shield by Laura Vanarendonk Baugh

He can save her life—if he sacrifices himself and those he swore to protect.

King’s bastard Shianan Becknam buries himself in his military career to avoid the family that never wanted him and the dangers of drawing political attention. When the artifact intended to end an interdimensional war is damaged, the mage Ariana is trapped on the other side of the rift with her servant—only the cheery young boy is really one of the monstrous enemy, disguised as a human. Shianan is desperate to rescue Ariana, one of his few friends, but to do so requires committing treason and betraying his duty, leaving his people open to attack.

State mage Ariana struggles to survive as a prisoner of war in a world of deadly magic and unfamiliar customs. Her only ally is her former servant, now a renowned warrior caught up in political machinations. To survive, he’ll have to once again take up the fight against Ariana’s world.

As their people’s wasted armies prepare for fresh battle that will devastate both sides, bastard, mage, and monster must set aside prejudices and rivalries to find an end to centuries of conflict, before they die as traitors.

Author Info;

Twitter : Laura_VAB


Edgehaven.jpgEdgehaven by Steven Smith

Known for its beauty and serenity, this peaceful little seaside town is a hidden paradise on the west coast of the British Isles. Glorious mountains kissed the edges of the sea and encapsulated nearly five kilometres of beach. The town built on an incline up into the mountains, was Edgehaven.
All is not so appealing though! Multiple sightings begin to surface regarding a child on the beach late at night. When there’s no trace of a body and no reports of anyone missing, suspicions begin to arise. Detective Peter Warnford is sent to investigate the mystery behind the sightings, though it soon becomes apparent that the events are more than just a missing child.

Author Info:

Twitter : Dragonsreclaim


Shadows.jpgShadows in the Stone by Diane Lynn McGyver 

Things aren’t always what they seem to be in a small town in the Land of Ath-o’Lea. Magic creeps in the shadows, waiting to pounce…

Corporal Bronwyn Darrow vows he’ll never fall victim to love again after the woman he adored betrays him. He directs his energies to rising in the ranks of Aruam Castle, aspiring to one day command as captain of the guards. Although he treasures his home and family, he is blinded both by his desire to succeed and a mysterious magic lurking in the shadows of the ancient castle.

Alaura of Niamh, a half-breed enchantress with a deadly past, takes refuge in Bronwyn’s hometown. When the two meet, the spell which binds them is stronger than their fears of falling in love. As Alaura’s secrets threaten to separate them forever, outside forces attempt to shatter the security of Aruam Castle and eliminate Bronwyn. When an orphan weaves their lives together, they embark on a journey destined to either destroy or deliver them to the passion living in their hearts.

Author Info :

Twitter : DianeTibert




#SPFBO My fifth batch of books


I’m getting to the last books now.  Below is my fifth round of books listed below in the order I’m going to check them out – five books a month for six months.  The aim is to choose one book out of each of the six batches and then from those 6 potentials choose one to submit for the final stage.

Without further ado here are my books this month:

faeriefruitFaerie Fruit – by Charlotte E English

When the centuries-barren orchards of Berrie-on-the-Wyn suddenly bear fruit, it is clear that something strange is afoot — and something fey, for this is no ordinary harvest. To partake of the fruits of Faerie is to be changed for good, but not necessarily for the better.

From whence come the golden apples, the moonlit silver pears? Who is the motley piper who walks the streets of Berrie, drawing forth magic and mayhem with his music? And how can half of the town vanish into thin air?

There may be chaos aplenty in Berrie, but all that’s needed to set things straight is a touch of the right light — and maybe just the right pair of Boots…




Spark of Defiance (Games of Fire #1) by Autumn M. Birt

Six months after a tragic war, the world of Myrrah has found peace. But many of the heroes have not. Wandering to avoid memories of lost friends and past actions, Zhao reluctantly returns home to fulfill a promise to his sister. And to proclaim to the elders of his people that their treatment of Air Elementals is wrong. His homecoming is met with hostility but not for the reason he expects. It is far worse. To protect his gifted niece from a life of hardship and subjugation like the one he endured, Zhao must rescue his sister. Even if she doesn’t wish it. Quickly caught once again in events greater than he can handle alone, Zhao struggles to prevent a personal conflict from erupting into a larger battle. But friends are distant, and more than a few are wrestling with new problems of their own. Welcome BACK to the world of Myrrah full of elemental magic and epic fantasy adventure! A new trilogy begins in Games of Fire with book 1, Spark of Defiance.


feylandThe Dark Realm (Feyland #1) by Anthea Sharp

What if a high-tech computer game was a gateway to the dangerous Realm of Faerie?

When a game…

Feyland is the most immersive computer game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn’t suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch — or that she’ll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries.

Turns real…

Tam Linn is the perfect hero — in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he’s the only one who can help her.

Winning is everything…

Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen… before it’s too late.



The Rogue King (The Rogue King Saga, #1) by Aldrea Alien

Outside is dangerous.

Such is the warning Koral has heard for twelve years. Born a product of genetic manipulation, he knows little else of the
world beyond the steel walls of his home.

When fate gives him the choice between certain death and the unknown, there’s no question in what he must choose. But he’s about to find out the sands he must brave are full of more than mere monsters.

Providing the desert doesn’t kill him first.

This is a world ruled by instinct, where innocence is drowned in blood. Here, men are offered up to the great Serpent God, Lorric, only to emerge as the most feared killers on the planet: The Rogues.

With the god’s sights set on turning Koral into a legend, he must sacrifice himself to survive and be reborn as… The Rogue King.

everwinterEverwinter (The Wrath of the Northmen #1) by Elizabeth Baxter

The powers of old and new are on a collision course in the land of Thanderley. Ancient gods have broken free of their imprisonment and cursed the lands with a terrible winter, a scourge that is sweeping science and the new ways from the earth. In the city of Ral Tora, Bramwell, a young engineer, battles to save his home from the encroaching ice. But there will be no exceptions. The gods will reclaim what was theirs and destroy any who oppose them.

Once more, the balances are tipped. Magic and science cannot exist in harmony, yet Bramwell must master both to save everything he loves from destruction.

Everwinter is the first novel of the fantasy series, The Wrath of the Northmen.