Yearly Archives 2019

SFBO 2019 Review: Never Die by Rob J Hayes

Cover art for Never Die by Rob Hayes

Hello friends, it’s almost a new year and that means a whole new crop of SPFBO top 10 finalists have been, well, finalized. I had so much fun reviewing the 10 finalists last year so I thought this year I’d do it again. Again usual disclaimer that I am not affiliated with the contest, and my review will have no bearing on the contest’s outcome.

Never Die is gained its fair share of buzz and popularity earlier this year, partially but not exclusively because it’s the next project by a previous SPFBO winner. The cover also won this year’s SPFBO cover art contest, which goes to show sometimes you can judge a book by its cover (heh, bet you never heard that one before).

The story begins when swordswoman Itami Cho dies in an attempt to save  a city from violent bandits...

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Review: The Burning White by Brent Weeks

Burning White Cover Image

This is it! The big one! The one we’ve all been waiting for!

Anyone who knows me can attest that I have been absolutely in love with Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series since I first learned of its existence in 2016. That summer I devoured the first three volumes the way Kip claimed he devoured pie back in his hometown. I eagerly waited a couple months for The Blood Mirror, and then devoured that one, too. And then I waited what seemed like an interminable number of years for the conclusion.

This is not a dig against Weeks’s writing speed. Three years, in the scheme of time between fantasy epics, isn’t really all that long...

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Bingo Review (Afrofuturism): Binti the Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

Cover art for Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

I admit I’ve been a terrible blogger again ever since I finished reading the SPFBO finalists, but I’m back! And I promise to be more diligent about reviewing the books I’ve read for Reddit Fantasy’s Bingo Challenge.

For the Afrofuturism square, I read the very excellent Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor. I expect this one will be a popular choice for the Bingo challenge — the first Novella won the Nebula and Hugo awards for best Novella in 2015 and 2016, respectively. But I’d heard so many good things about this series, and I was lucky enough to find a signed omnibus at one of the dealer’s tables at comicon, so I was quite excited to dig into the story.

I would probably say it doesn’t count for hard mode (under 1000 Goodreads ratings) because the individual novellas have plenty more ratings ...

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SPFBO Review: Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike

cover of Orconomics by J Zachary Pike

Well, here we are! The very last entry in my series of reviews of the top 10 SPFBO 2018 finalists. I was not affiliated with the contest in any way, but I very much enjoyed reading and reviewing all these excellent books. Alas, now I am done. There will be no more SPFBO finalist reviews after this one. At least not until they announce the finalists of this year’s contest.

Orconomics was the winner of the 2018 SPFBO contest, and I have to say that it was extremely well deserved. I thoroughly enjoyed quite a number of the books I read this year, and I think several of them would have been extremely worthy winners. But among them, Orconomics really does shine.

Orconomics begins with the premise, “what are the actual economic implications of a world where adventuring heroes make a career of tr...

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SPFBO Review: Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer

Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer cover

This is the latest in a continuing series of unofficial reviews for the top ten finalists of the 2018 SPFBO contest. The contest is over and done but I am still working through the finalists and writing reviews. This review be my second-to-last one of this series — only the ultimate winner, Orconomics, left after this one. The current book, however, came in third, and I found it very enjoyable overall.

Admittedly, I was a little bit wary going in to this one. I hate to be person who judges a book by its cover, but I’m afraid in this case I am guilty of judging a book by its cover. That is not to say it’s a bad cover! In fact, it’s an excellent cover, and even placed third in this year’s cover contest...

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SPFBO Review: The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss

The Gods of Men cover image

This is the latest in a series of unofficial, unaffiliated reviews of the top 10 finalists of the 2018 SPFBO contest. The contest is over and the winner declared, and the new contest is already underway, but here I am still plugging away at my reviews. This one came in tied for second with Devin Madsen’s We Ride the Storm (my review of which you can read here). As with We Ride the Storm, I thought this one was an excellent book worthy of acclaim.

The Gods of Men tells the story of two main characters: Imari (aka Sable) and Jeric (aka Jos). Blessed with the ability to use magic in a desert kingdom where magic is strictly forbidden, Imari is horrified when she accidentally kills her younger sister...

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SPFBO Review: Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon

Symphony of the Wind Steven McKinnon cover

This is the latest in a series of reviews for the top ten finalists in the SPFBO contest. I am not affiliated with the contest in any way, which is a good thing, because the contest is long over and I’m still working through the last of my reviews, heh. This current book, Symphony of the Wind, came in fifth place.

Symphony of the Wind takes place in the kingdom of Dalthea, which is struggling to recover from a brutal war. On what came to be known as the amberfire night, the capital city was struck by the magical equivalent of an atomic bomb, causing large-scale loss of life and widespread environmental devastation, including but not limited to cutting off the kingdom’s main water supply...

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SPFBO Review: We Ride the Storm by Devin Madsen

The SPFBO contest is over and done, but I still have quite a number of finalists to read and review. Good thing I wasn’t affiliated with the contest or I’d be quite late! The latest finalist that I read, We Ride the Storm by Devin Madsen, ended up tied for second, which was well deserved in my opinion. I have not yet read the winner — I’ve been reading the finalists in the reverse order of the placements as they stood when, on a whim, I decided to do these reviews — but I would not have been surprised if We Ride the Storm had ended up taking home the grand prize. Storm is an incredibly professional and well-crafted story, worthy of all the praise it has gotten so far.

I suppose I should add the disclaimer that I have interacted with Devin a lot online and think she is an awesome ...

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SPFBO Review: Aching God by Mike Shel

Aching God

This is a continuation of a series of reviews for the top 10 finalists for the 2018 Self Published Fantasy Blog Off. Usual reminder that I am not associated with the contest and my review has no bearing in the contest’s final score.

This book tells the story of Auric Manteo, a retired member of the Syraeic League, a guild of Indiana Jones-style adventure archaeologists in a medieval fantasy setting. Auric struggles with PTSD after his last dungeon crawl went terribly wrong, and only seeks to enjoy a quiet life in the countryside. Unfortunately, he is called back into his old life when he learns that his daughter is in terrible danger.

On the surface this premise sounds a lot like Kings of the Wyld — aging adventurer is pulled out of retirement in order to rescue his daughter, who is...

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SPFBO Review: Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe

This is a post in my continuing series of reviews of the top 10 2018 SPFBO finalists. Disclaimer, as usual, that I am not affiliated with the contest in any way and my review has no bearing on the final results.

Not sure where to start with this one except that I liked it, a lot. I’m a pretty slow reader when it comes to print/e-book. I hardly ever finish a book in a single day like a lot of my book nerd compatriots seem to manage. But this one I devoured in three days, which, for me, is pretty darned fast (By contrast, Out of Nowhere, which was quite fast paced, took me more than a week).

Ruthless Magic is billed as Harry Potter meets the Hunger Games, which I think is an apt description...

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