#SPFBO 2018 – all wrapped up

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SPFBO 2018 has finally come to an end – all the scores and reviews are now published and the final chart with links to the different blog sites and other information can be found here.

Huge congratulations to the winner of the competition – Orconomics by J Zachary Pike (which concluded with an excellent and impressive final score) and the final line up looked like this:

Orconomics 8.65
Gods of Men 8.05
We Ride The Storm 8.05
Sworn to the Night 8.00
Symphony of the Wind 7.40
Aching God 6.90
Ruthless Magic 6.35
Out of Nowhere 5.50
The Anointed 5.10
Sowing 4.55

I would like to give a huge thank you to all the authors who took part.  It’s been a great competition with some amazing books.  Thanks also to Mark Lawrence and all the other bloggers for making this such a memorable year.

Below are the 10 finalists, all together, looking absolutely gorgeous:

and finally, here are my reviews of all the finalists:

  1. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  2. Orconomics by J Zachary Pike
  3. Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas
  4. We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
  5. Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon
  6. The Anointed by Keith Ward
  7. Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe
  8. Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer
  9. Aching God by Mike Shel
  10. Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc

** ‘SPFBO 2018’ signing out **

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#SPFBO Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc

outofnowhereOut of Nowhere is the first finalist that I’ve read for the SPFBO competition.  All my books are randomly chosen and I will be shining the spotlight on my second book shortly.  In the meantime here are my thoughts on Out of Nowhere.

Out of Nowhere is urban fantasy.  I enjoy urban fantasy and so I’m always happy to pick up something new and this is a novel that feels very original in it’s approach.

The central character is an immortal called Sean Danet.  Sean has a special healing ability that he puts to good use here by working as a paramedic.  He’s learnt over the years to keep his talent for healing hidden as people are quick to break out the pitchforks and so working in an occupation that allows him early access to the injured before they’ve been diagnosed gives him the chance to correct some of the damage without being discovered.  However, as the story sets off Sean does a patch up job on a patient with an unusual accent that he can’t place and he can’t help having a bad feeling that this stranger knows more about Sean than he’s entirely comfortable with.  From here things start to go wrong for Sean starting with a random attack that takes place on a job, followed it seems by somebody asking questions about Sean, who is he?  Where does he live.  Things finally escalate when Sean’s friends get caught in the crossfire and it becomes apparent that there are two choices: flight or fight.

Sean’s usual instinct and strong sense of self preservation would lead him to pack up and go, start over somewhere new, but this time things have changed.  He likes his job, he has friends now and has just started a very promising relationship.  He decides instead to do some of his own digging.

I would start by saying that I enjoyed this.  It was an easy and in fact quick read.  I liked the attention to detail that the author pays to Sean’s role that brought a level of interest to the story that was unexpected and I thought the writing was impressive.

In terms of the characters.  I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about Sean.  He’s a decent character, don’t get me wrong and having been around for such a long time he’s knowledgeable and competent and when the proverbial starts to hit the fan he feels moved to take action.  I think at this stage Sean and his love interest maybe still feel a little bit flat for me, but, that being said I usually find that the first in an urban fantasy series can leave work still to be covered in future instalments.  Sean has no real memories of his early years.  He’s aware of his own immortality but he doesn’t have much other knowledge and although this is explored later in the novel it only really scratches the surface – which is much as you might normally expect but, at the same time, I think I wanted to be fed a little bit more information about the whys and wherefores.

I really enjoyed the writer’s style which makes this a very easy read indeed.  I think that the only thing I would mention however is that the pacing feels slow, or at least it feels like very little happens in the first half of the book, in fact, strictly speaking I wouldn’t say that the plot here is the strong point.  It revolves around Sean finding out why this stranger is seeking him and trying to stay alive in the process.  The second half is a different kettle of fish with much more action taking place and Sean stepping up to the plate and showing his mettle.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I would have liked more information but I chalk this up to being the first instalment and the author wanting to pace the way in which he delivers his story.  I thought there were definite areas where the story felt like it was becoming a bit testosterone fueled but then, again, the banter and such didn’t feel out of place.  I think my main issue would be that very little happens during the first half and in fact that’s a testament to the strength of writing that this wasn’t more of an issue for me during the read.  I also had some questions in terms of how the ‘bad guys’ went about looking for Sean – I just couldn’t help wondering, as they knew where he worked, why not simply follow him when he finishes one of his shifts – it felt a little bit convoluted to be asking around and harassing others about Sean when they could have gone right to the source but, maybe I missed something in that respect.  And, I felt like the conclusion felt a little bit rushed and too easily tied up and I didn’t completely buy into the resolution.  It didn’t spoil the end, don’t get me wrong, but I think I wanted something more dramatic – but, that being said, this is an ending that definitely leaves potential for more yet to come.

Overall I think the author makes a great start here and leaves the potential to really build on the characters and their pasts.

If I was rating this on Goodreads I would give it 3.5 of 5 stars or for the purpose of the competition 7 out of 10.

 

#SPFBO 2018: The Finals

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You may have noticed if you visit this blog that the first stage of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off concluded at the end of 2018.  Three hundred books have been narrowed down to ten finalists.  One each selected by the ten judges/team of judges taking part.  You can check out my finalist here.  And here is my post that also outlined the final nine and the runners up.

So, firstly feast your eyes on these lovelies: all the finalists in one beautiful display:

Check out this link to find out more about the competition and the scoreboard.

I’ve randomly chosen the order of my books and the first book I will be reading is: Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.  I’ve put the description below for information:

outofnowhereAn urban fantasy, pacy, funny and compelling to the last page…

Healer Sean Danet is immortal—a fact he has cloaked for centuries, behind army lines and now a paramedic’s uniform. Having forgotten most of his distant past, he has finally found peace—and love.

But there are some things you cannot escape, however much distance you put behind you.

When Sean heals the wrong man, he uncovers a lethal enemy who holds all the cards. And this time he can’t run. It’s time to stand and fight, for himself, for his friends, for the woman he loves. It’s time, finally, for Sean to face his past—and choose a future.

A story of love, of battle—and of facing your true self when there’s nowhere left to hide.