Category Reviews

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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 ...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

SPFBO Review: Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc

Continuing my reviews of the top 10 SPFBO 2018 finalists with Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc. Usual disclaimer that I am not affiliated with the contest in any way, and this review has no bearing whatsoever on the final results.

Out of Nowhere is about Sean Danet, a sarcastic tough guy who works as a paramedic in a somewhat seedy Massachusetts town. But Sean has a pretty big secret: one, he’s older than he looks. A lot older. So old that he can’t even remember his childhood, though he does remember such famous figures as Napoleon and Shakespeare. His second secret is that he can heal people supernaturally. He tries to keep both of these things a secret, lest people freak out and he gets run out of town or burnt at the stake...

Read More

SPFBO Review: The Annointed by Keith Ward

In continuing my quest to read all the top ten SPFBO finalists, next on the list was The Annointed by Keith Ward. Usual disclaimer that I am not associated with the contest in any way and my review has no bearing whatsoever on the final results.

Like the previous finalist I reviewed, Sowing, this book had a lot of things I enjoyed about it, tainted somewhat by some things I really didn’t like. Actually, some of my main complaints about The Annointed are similar to my main complaints about Sowing: that is, gratuitous baby murder, and a so-called “good-guy” who is a just plain awful human being.

This book takes place in a world where people learn their lifespans ahead of time, but can increase their lifespans by ritualistically sacrificing and stealing the life force of someone else...

Read More

Bingo Review (Middle Grade): Wishes and Wellingtons by Julie Berry

I have to admit I picked this one up not having high expectations. I’d not really explored much of the Audible Originals program, their program where they let you select one of their exclusive Audible-only audiobooks for free every month. But hey, free is free, and I was intrigued by the cover art. I’m really glad I decided to give this one a listen, though, because it was absolutely delightful. This book only exists as an audiobook, there is no print or e-book version, but narrator Jayne Entwhistle does an excellent job bringing the story to life.

Adventurous Maeve Merritt is constantly getting in trouble at her strict boarding school in Victorian London. She dreams of traveling the world and playing cricket, instead of staying in school pursuing more feminine interests...

Read More

SPFBO Finalist Review: Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas

Hi everyone! Surprise surprise, I’m still alive. I took some time off from book blogging, but with award season fast approaching, I think it’s time I dusted off this old blog and started doing reviews for all these exciting books and seeing what the fuss is about. My current plan is to read and review each of the 10 finalists for Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Blog Off. Full disclaimer, I am not one of the judges for the contest, and I am not affiliated with the contest in any way. I’m just doing this for fun.

The first of the books I read was Sowing by Angie Grigaliunas. So, without further ado, the review.

This one was actually pretty challenging for me to review objectively, because it had many good things about it, and many things I thought were, unfortunately, less good...

Read More

Review: Queen of Crows by Myke Cole

I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. And, in the grand tradition of being the worst book blogger ever, I procrastinated finishing it until, you know, the actual book was already out.

I’m not sure what about this book made it take so long to get through. It’s not a long book by any means. Nor is it a bad book. Certainly, I loved the first book, and eagerly anticipated the sequel. I was thrilled when I was selected to receive an early copy. But something about this book failed to grab me the way the first one did. But more about that later.

Warning: This review contains MAJOR spoilers for the first book, The Armored Saint. If you haven’t read that book and want to, close your browser tab and walk away now


After narrowly defeating a devil with the help of ...

Read More