Like I mentioned way back when, if feels like, in my SPFBO 5 introductory post, Stage One–for me personally, which I nicknamed my “Taste Tester” stage–was to read the first 50 pages of each of my entries, before making a decision of which books will be cut and which books I’ll go on to read more of, as I narrow it down to my semifinalists and, eventually, my single finalist.
Well, I’ve completed that part of my reading and, as you might have seen teased on Twitter, I’ve had a pretty even split: 15 books caught my interest enough to continue reading and 15 others, unfortunately, I’ve decided to cut. I have a very solid batch this year, with a few books I *knew* were going to capture my attention, while a few others that took me pleasantly by surprise. Some of those who I plan to cut, I might return to and read on my own time, but this is a contest, after all, and there can be only one finalist from me.
So, the way this will work, is every Monday, I’ll post some results: two books I’ve cut and one I’ve decided to keep reading. Mini reviews will feature for the books I’ve cut, while the review for the book I’m going to continue reading will come later. I’ll do this every Monday until all the current fates of my books have been announced–and by the time that happens, I should have started to finish books out of my remaining 15 and can start posting full reviews and cutting those, until we reach the finalist!
Make sense? Fantastic.
So, let’s get started!
Title: Journey Through the Innerverse
Author: Simon Clairvel
Published: December 2018
Amount Read: 50 of 412 pages (12%)
Rating: 1 out of 5 gems
Blurb: Marlow and Star’s slacker lifestyle is interrupted when the loss of a burger-flippin’ job leads to a proposal for adventure: travel the length of the innerverse slower than anyone else in history. Their idiotic journey begins with Marlow’s reluctance, Star’s enthusiasm, and the acquisition of large blue fish-shaped spaceship.
They soon discover that it’s impossible to travel through the inversion of space in which humanity now resides without stumbling upon a ridiculous amount of oddity and intrigue. A druid, a criminal mastermind, and non-idiotic passengers threaten to make their silly little journey have purpose. If they’re not careful, they might stumble upon the answer to the miracle that formed the innerverse itself.
Unfortunately, this book was very much not for me. One, it’s very obviously a science fiction novel. While it may have elements of fantasy later in the novel, you have two people traveling through space on a spaceship as they try and be the slowest to travel across the Innerverse thanks to boredom and one losing their job, so I don’t think there is a lot of question that this is a science fiction novel. Secondly, even if it was still qualified for this contest, in the first page alone, the word “idiot” was used to describe one of the characters four times, while the word “tit” was written four times in a single paragraph. I can handle vulgarity and crude humor and self-depreciation, but it didn’t connect with me in this novel. It just…wasn’t for me.
If you like wonky space stories with crude humor, this may be up your alley and something for you to try! For me, though, it didn’t connect, thus the one out of five gems rating.
Title: The Book in the Bottle
Author: Raymond St. Elmo
Published: July 2016
Amount Read: 50 out of 355 pages (14%)
Rating: 2 out of 5 gems
Blurb: A family finds a mysterious bottle. Within the bottle, a book. Within the book, a story. And within the story is a city built of pieces. In that city is a beggar who became a duke, a rat who becomes a cat, a song that became a promise. Ghosts, assassins, kings and cobblers shift and dance across this city, finding who they are by what story they tell of themselves. And in the very center of the dance, a man stands balanced on a wheel.
This novel had an interesting premise and I was curious to see what this book in the bottle actually was and how it would change the family’s life after they got the book out, but ultimately, this just didn’t execute well for me. I was pretty confused throughout on what was going on. The scenes are fairly short and choppy, which can work in some instances, but here, it felt like there was no flow and the lack of transitions didn’t guide me well to where the novel was meant to go. Time jumped a lot, as well, which confused me, especially with how much time had passed and the family still hadn’t opened the bottle–and the children didn’t even argue about it, in the first chapter, just went to bed like this supposedly phenomenal thing they’d just experienced hadn’t happened. It felt like it shied away from any tension or character development–and we never had any internal monologues or feelings from the characters, to understand these choices.
The tone was spot on, though. It definitely felt like a father reading to his children and telling them stories, which happened frequently in the book itself, so the voice matched well.
It felt like the beginning of a children’s story and might captivated younger audiences or audiences who are reading to their children. But, for me, it lacked direction and depth, and, paired with minor formatting issues throughout, made it a 2 out of 5 gems rating.
To Be Continued
Title: The Queen’s Executioner
Author: Christopher Mitchell
Published: May 2019
Amount Read: TBD
Blurb: The mighty Rahain Republic is the envy of the world. Cracks are appearing. The old order is passing.
In the conquered territories, a renegade Fire Mage is rallying the resistance, threatening the Republic’s hold as she burns her way through the occupying forces.
Leading a destitute horde of hundreds of thousands of refugees are two sisters. Each of them is determined to save their people, and bring them to new home. One stands in the light, a visionary who declared herself Queen.
The other sister is a Dark Mage, whose power to kill is the only thing keeping the migration from anarchy. When she tests her might against the Republic, there can only be a single victor.
The Magelands will never be the same again.
Like I said above, no review for this one yet, but I will say that I thought the writing quality so far to be enjoyable and I’m very curious about this world, from the snippets of worldbuilding that have been dropped so far. So I’ll definitely continue reading this book until I decide it’s not my finalist or finish it!
And there’s my first two cut and first book moving forward (not a semi-finalist yet, mind, but still in the running to become one). Check back on this space next Monday to see the fate of my next three books (which, the order of these reveals is chosen by random number generator).