#SPFBO 8: Recap

Posted On 8 October 2022

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

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

Today I’m giving a recap of where I’m up to in terms of Phase 1 of the Competition.

SPFBO Introduction

SPFBO Cover Competition

SPFBO Batch 1, Batch 2 and Batch 3

SPFBO Feedback: Batch 1, Batch 2 and Batch 3

I rolled forward five books to read fully and have subsequently read and reviewed them:

The Hidden Blade by Marie M Mullany

Scarlight (Castles of the Eyrie #1) by Evie Marceau

The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce

Between Ink and Shadows (Between Ink and Shadows #1) by Melissa Wright

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

On Monday the Critiquing Chemist and I will simultaneously post our Semi Finalist announcement post by which point only four, possibly five, of our allocated books (30 in total) will remain.  We then need to read each other’s choices before putting our heads together to select a finalist.

Good luck to the remaining authors.

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#SPFBO 8 Third Batch of Books

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

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

Today’s post is all about highlighting my third/final batch of  SPFBO books. This year I’m trying a different process than I’ve used in previous years.  I’ve randomly chosen three batches of books, five per month for the first three months (from the 15 books allocated to Lynnsbooks).  That leaves me two remaining months to read potential semi finalists put forward by myself and the Critiquing Chemist.  I’m intending to read this final batch by the conclusion of which I will have made a decision about which books will be cut and which I will roll forward.  I anticipate that I will probably have 4, 5 or maybe even 6 books (possibly more – who knows) that I will read fully and review before choosing 1 or 2 semi finalists.  As with previous SPFBOs I’ve read at least 30% of all the books I’ve been allocated see my previous post.  So, without further ado let’s take a look at my final five books:

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

MissPercy's

Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.

Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…

Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.

The egg – as eggs are wont to do – decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.”

But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.

***

Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright

Between ink

She’ll win back her freedom, even if she has to steal it.

Nimona Weston has a debt to pay. Her father’s dealings with the dark society known as the Trust cost Nim her freedom. There’s one way out of the contract on her life and that’s to bide her time and pay the tithes. But when the Trust assigns Nim to a task in the king’s own castle, her freedom is not the only thing she’ll risk.

Warrick Spenser has a secret. As king’s seneschal, he should be the last soul in Inara to risk association with dark magic, but long-hidden ties to the Trust are harder to shed than simply cutting the threads. When the Trust sends a thief to his rooms, Warrick thinks he’s finally found a way to be rid of them for good. But Nimona Weston is hiding secrets of her own.

Magical contracts, blood-debt accountants, and a deadly game. A dark and twisty fantasy that pits magic against kings.

***

Testament of an Archangel by Kat Loveland

toaA

What if everything you’ve been told about Lucifer’s and Mankind’s fall from the Garden was wrong? I am Remiel, one of the Archangels whose name didn’t quite make it into modern times and I am choosing this moment to share what none of the others will. My story is about innocence lost, family torn apart and how nothing, even to an angel, is truly ever what it seems.

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The Heretic by Thane Tyler

Theheretic

“Oh gods, I’m some sort of prophet now? I only wanted a drink…”

The Heretic is the story of a man who finds himself in great danger, and can’t quite work out how he got there, although it probably has something to do with alcohol. His mouth gets him in trouble, and before he knows what’s happening he has to flee not just his hometown but his homeland entirely, with an unexpected companion in tow. This book is his story, the story of a journey and an odd friendship.

The Heretic is a work of fantasy, but one with few truly fantastical elements. It is based on real historical cultures, mainly those of Classical-era Europe.

The tone is darkly humorous, and has been described by acclaimed author Terri Nixon as “Python meets Pratchett”.

***

Falhorne: The World is Burning by Tristan Dineen

Falhorne

The Order is no more. The Falhorne, ancient champions of the elder gods, have dwindled to no more than a handful of beleaguered warriors.

The skies are darkening over the land of Vinos and persecution of the maligned Old Believers escalates at the hands of both church and state.

As one of the few surviving defenders of a proud tradition, Tagus is among the last of the Vinosian Falhorne when the pogrom comes. His mentor slain, his comrades slaughtered, and his people enslaved, he must begin a quest that will take him into the darkness of his past and a depth of evil beyond anything that he has ever faced.

***

I can’t wait to tuck in – good luck everyone.

#SPFBO 8 First Batch of Books

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

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

Today’s post is all about highlighting my first five SPFBO books.  I have fifteen books altogether and I’m trying out a different process this year.  I’ve randomly chosen three batches of books, five per month for the first three months.  I most likely won’t start to make cuts until I have a good chunk of my reading underway.  As I previously mentioned I will be giving every book in my batch a fair chance to grab my attention so without further ado let’s take a look at my first five books:

Elusion of Freedom by Kelvin Womack

Elusion

After thousands of years the trapped darkness is breaking free, and once it is, no longer shall we be.

Thought to be long locked away, darkness has escaped it confines, enslaving everything it touches.

The only safe haven is behind the Order’s towering walls, where 17-year-old Vayn and his father have fled. But it’s not the darkness they’re afraid of. After escaping the clutches of Shadow Reapers that ravaged his land, Vayn desires to never live in the free world again, exchanging his liberation for what some would consider a form of slavery.

But when Reapers break inside, murdering his father, Vayn is determined to attain retribution. The Order forbids it, knowing he’ll uncover their secrets.

There is but one way to regain his freedom. Once a year, on the Day of Liberation, one may leave the walls but at great cost. A life.

Vayn must sacrifice someone innocent. If he doesn’t, he’ll never bring his father’s killers to justice or learn the Orders secrets.

Outside awaits the darkness, its creatures perishable only with the aid of a larger-than-life sword. But not even that will help him face the darkness of his own past.

Freedom is both elusive and hard to distinguish. Time is of the essence, and on his quest of vengeance, Vayn must learn that true freedom is more than escape from physical and mental subjugation before the darkness swallows their world into oblivion.

Cutthroats and Traitors by Steven Smith

Cutthroats

Will the Jagged Ghosts stop at nothing to evade capture? Their journey of alcohol induced law breaking may soon come to an end, with naval commander Lieutenant Dainsley being appointed the task of bringing the small pirate crew to justice.

It’s a race against time. If the Jagged Ghosts lose, the noose will await them all.

The Prophecy by RE Davies

Reign of

Elf born, raised by wolves, and talks to dragons…who is this girl? She wants to find out, too, as she abandons the safe confines of her home to discover the truth for herself. Blessed with a magic unlike any before, she discovers a world at war ruled over by monstrous dragons, where the land has been slowly dying beyond that of her cozy little wolf den. The young elf discovers she is known by many names, and some believe her to be the one of prophecy meant to unite the land of Onis. It is no easy task that has been placed on her shoulders. There is no love between the dragons, the elves, the humans, the dwarves, and the drow, so getting them to listen will be quite a challenge. Luckily, the wolf child has an unprecedented team of cohorts to aid and guide her on her quest, but is she ready for such a challenge? Will the great dragon Aeris’s extreme hatred be overcome so that peace can be brought to the land? Or, will the young girl fail in her quest and bring forth an even greater war between the races?

Join this young elf on her epic quest for peace and self-discovery as she battles against monsters, forms unbreakable bonds, and faces the reigning ancient dragons of Onis.

The Hidden Blade by Marie M. Mullany

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The bluron’s wings delivers a stark command of death as the Empire teeters on the edge of a most uncivil war. For the first time in Her long history, a ducal line has failed. The last duke of Etendulat is dead and none of his heirs have undertaken the Trials of Dusang. The wealth of farmlands that lies at the heart of the Blutben penninsula lack a ruler and greedy men circle the bountiful plains.

Into this high stakes game, Louis is sent to end the ambitions of Tybalt du Mamel, Baron of Somfaux, who would reach for the Etendulat Sash. With every step, he uncovers more of a treacherous plot that is poised to strike at the heart of the Empire. Forbidden magic shadows him and ultimately he must make a dire decision : Can he take the life of an innocent for the greater good?

Memories of Blood and Shadow by Aaron S Jones

Memories

Guilt cuts sharper than the deadliest of blades.

Tavar Farwan lives alone past the Undying Sands. One stormy night, he is attacked by two young warriors claiming to vengeance for an ill from ages past. Tavar defends himself, killing one of the intruders and leaving the other to bleed on the floor. Weary and filled with regret, Tavar offers to tell the young man his story: a story of how a nomadic orphan rose to kill a God.

I can’t wait to tuck in – good luck everyone.

#SPFBO 7 Wrap Up and #SPFBO 8 Introduction #WyrdAndWonder

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First a little bit about SPFBO:

What is SPFBO?  This is a competition for self published authors of fantasy fiction.  It’s the brainchild of Mark Lawrence and its mission 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.

Last year’s SPFBO competition was perhaps one of the closest contests so far with the eventual winner being revealed on literally the final day – it really was that close.

The winner was Reign and Ruin, the first instalment in the Mages of the Wheel series by JD Evans and a lovely Eastern inspired story of magic and politics with a delicious slow build romance.

Reign

I highly recommend this and look forward to reading more from the series.

Check out the finalist scoreboard here.  All the reviews are linked and there is literally something for everyone amongst these finalists.  There were also some other great books discovered during the competition and I highly recommend checking out the other judge’s blogs to discover plenty more reads to topple your tbr.

W&W

This year I’m including my wrap up and intro post alongside an event that runs during the month of May known as Wyrd and Wonder – an event that is a celebration of all things fantasy, which to me makes the two a fantastic fantasy fit. Wyrd and Wonder comes to an end on the last day of May and the SPFBO begins it’s journey on the 1st of June.  It’s a perfect fit and although the event is almost complete it’s never too late to join in.  This is the fifth year that the event has run and it’s simply gone from strength to strength. Check out the details here. (IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com)

So, this year I will once again be teaming up with the lovely ladies from The Critiquing Chemist. Last year was a lot of fun and we’re hoping to continue in the same vein.  In previous years I’ve tried to give a brief overview of how I intend to sort through my own batch of books.  This year I’m going to change things a little.  I haven’t fully worked out my process yet but would like to keep things flexible and loose for now.  I will certainly give every book in my batch a fair chance.  I will definitely read at least 30% and more than likely complete most of the books I’ve been allocated.  I will also provide a full review for every book I complete and a shorter synopsis for those that I don’t finish with reasonings of why that particular book might not have worked for me but might well work for others.

As with previous years I would reiterate that 300 entrants to this competition will eventually be whittled down to one winner.  Those are some tough odds right there.  My advice is to come for the competition but to stay for the camaraderie.  Reach out to others.  Make friends. Have fun.

Check out the Critiquing Chemist’s intro and book cover post here.  The cover competition has now finished and the winners can be found here.  Stop and take a look – there are some amazing covers.

Finally, a huge thank you to all the authors for entering your precious book babies into this competition, we all understand what a big step this can be and how difficult to have your work held up for such public scrutiny.  Without you there wouldn’t be a competition.

Authors we salute you!