SPFBO 5 Read, Review, Repeat Results: No 2

Hello, lovelies!

We’re ending this contest rapid fire here, so here are the fates of my next five books, including the announcement of my second semi-finalist!

A few quick housekeeping things (repeated from my previous post):

  • I know I mentioned I wanted to do mini reviews for books I didn’t finish entirely and full reviews for books that I did read to completion, but unfortunately, I will only have time to do mini reviews. Every book is still getting a review, it’s just laid out differently than I had planned initially in June. Thanks for the understanding in this change!
  • Also, please remember, now that I’m narrowing down to personal favorites, that these are personal opinions, as are all book reviews! What one person dislikes, another may love. Also, I read all of these books a little differently than when I read purely for pleasure, in that I am, essentially, judging them all against one another and narrowing it down to a single favorite between them all. So, with that in mind, some of these books I stopped reading earlier than I might have if I was just reading for fun and not a contest, simply because I already loved another book more and needed to move on and continue reading to meet deadline. I know that can seem harsh, but just wanted to offer a little transparency of my process!

Now, let’s get to it!

The Fallen

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Title: Fid’s Crusade
: David H. Reiss
Published: June 2018
Amount Read: 180 of 605 pages (30%)
Rating: 3 out of 5 gems
Blurb: Rage, grief and guilt have fueled Doctor Fid’s endless quest to punish the unworthy and he has left a long trail of blood and misery in his wake. For more than two decades, the sight of the villain’s powered armor has struck fear into the hearts of hero and civilian alike! But when a personal tragedy motivates Doctor Fid to investigate a crime, he uncovers a plot so heinous that even he is taken aback.

Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must race against time if he is to have any hope of confronting the approaching threat. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.

In the end, it may take a villain to save the world from those entrusted with the world’s protection.

Oh, this one had so much potential for me as a reader, but unfortunately, I think it ultimately ended up not being for me.

I thought this was some of the strongest writing quality I read in the contest and the beginning in particular was ridiculously gut-wrenching with a particular scene that captivated me immediately. And even though I’m not much of a reader of superhero stories, the twist of this one was really intriguing and made me want to continue reading, especially with how natural the writing was!

But, though the writing is really strong and I actually liked the blending of flashbacks and current day time jump storytelling, I just felt like it…wasn’t going anywhere, plot wise? And the scientific jargon, while completely making sense for Fid, made it hard for me to connect as a reader, when what I connected to, was his brother’s death, that was hardly brought up after the gut-wrenching beginning.

3 stars

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Title: Petra
: Cheri Lasota
Published: April 2019
Amount Read: 129 of 385 (33%)
Rating: 3 out of 5 gems
Blurb: I am the Prima Vita, the only true immortal.

But the darker the gift, the higher the blood price—and I have paid it all.

At the moment of my making, at the turn of the first millennium amid the glories and horrors of Ancient Rome, two men died with me. Both reborn in my immortal blood, one became my lover and the other my enemy. I promised the unspeakable to save Lucius from Clarius.

The bargain, once struck, was simple: die with Clarius once a year to keep Lucius safe for an eternity.

I continued reading this one after the initial cutting round because the writing was pretty solid and I was curious what exactly was going to happen next. Unfortunately, I was more confused than captivated, which is why I ended up not finishing this one.

While I did enjoy this twist on vampire lore, I’m not sure I’m a fan of being told what happens and then experiencing a massive time jump from a year in the narrative where we are filled in by their current selves about their past selves, answering the mystery that I thought would have been the core of the book. What’s the purpose of reading, after that mystery is taken away?

Also, with so much death and being reborn so quickly in succession, it’s hard to feel any real…investment towards these characters? Any risk? That, plus how I thought their escape, their revenge and figuring out their immortality was going to be core conflict of the story– yet that ended up being resolved by 30% in–made this story confusing and hard to follow, albeit finely written.

3 stars

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Title: The God King’s Legacy
: Richard Nell
Published: June 2018
Amount Read: 100%
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 gems
Blurb: God-king Marsun, the ‘Demon King’, has ruled for centuries. But nothing lasts forever.

Once just an illiterate tribal chief, Marsun trapped an ancient evil within his mighty soul, united scattered tribes in peace and prosperity, then retreated from the world. But his sacrifice is all but forgotten. Technology marches on; new ambitious powers rise; unhappy lords plot rebellion; and from every corner of civilization, savage enemies gather. The God King’s legacy has just begun…

From the author of Kings of Paradise comes two tales in a world of knights and demons, muskets and cannon fire. Flintlock fantasy mixed with the grit of Game of Thrones.

1) Rebellion of the Black Militia
Johann Planck, bastard and scribe of the god-king’s tower, is yanked from his peaceful life of academia, and ordered to capture an immortal creature of darkness. If the knight he’s accompanying doesn’t kill him, or the demon ‘Sazeal’, fresh rebellion just might.

2) Devil of the 22nd
A crumbling empire. An abandoned army. Kurt Val Clause is an ordinary soldier trying to keep it all together because no one else has the balls. Now he has one chance to win a glorious future, die in agony, or lose his soul. He just might do all three.

This one was almost a semi-finalist for me, as it was well written and I thought it did flintlock fantasy really well! It also read smooth and quick, so it was easy to bang out this novel in a day or two. I also really enjoyed the fact that the scribe had a more focused role (at least to start out) in the first half, giving off some Jeff Salyards vibes. I really enjoyed the first story, despite the fact that the ending felt really jarring and sort of the sudden.

I think my issue was with the second half of the book or the second story. I really couldn’t connect with Kurt Val Clause at all and it took a while for me to realize that this second half wasn’t going to truly continue the story of Johann Planck at all, which I was disappointed for. Though I thought the ending was really interesting and liked how the author chose to end it!

Ultimately, while I felt like this had some semi-finalist potential, I ended up enjoying some books in my batch just a little bit more, which is why I cut it here.

3.5 stars

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Title: Errant Gods
: Erik Henry Vick
Published: October 2017
Amount Read: 302 of 720 pages (41%)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 gems
Blurb: Hank Jensen is cursed with a broken body. Once he was New York’s most dedicated criminal profiler, but the demonic Bristol Butchers crushed his career and left him disabled and hopeless. As he struggles to make sense of his new life, the cannibalistic immortals have returned with a new target: Hank’s family…

Thrown into a breakneck race to rescue his loved ones, Hank has no choice but to enter an unrecognizable world of Norse gods. With lingering injuries and crippling doubts, he must overcome a land of dragons and shapechangers to defeat pure evil. Can a mere mortal outwit the gods to save his family, or will his quest end in fire and ash?

Despite not finishing this novel, I really enjoyed some aspects of it. The beginning really captured my interest and, even though I had a few minor issues with the writing and was a little bit confused, I couldn’t let myself cut it initially, in the first culling, because I had to know what was going on next. And I really liked the direction that it headed! And I thought the back and forth between future and past and the way it was written was really well done.

Ultimately, I think we did end up spending a little too much time covering the lore and catching the readers up, so to speak, to the present day, so the urgency of the actual main conflict felt a little lost and out of focus. Although I think it’s really interesting and I got really invested in the mystery aspect of it, that pacing is off. I thought this had a LOT of promise, but I ended up stopping after I knew this wouldn’t be my finalist. I may return to this series another day, because I definitely have continued to think about it and am curious about how it ends.

3.5 stars


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Title: Shadow’s Hand
: Noelle Nichols
Published: June 2018
Amount Read: 100%
Rating: TC
Blurb: False warriors destroyed their homes. Now two heroes must delve into ancient magic to save their realm from destruction.

Kilo lives and dies by the truth of the Shadow’s Creed. So when brutal raiders raze his village, the leader is honor-bound to put aside his fighting staff and help his people rebuild. After discovering the attackers were impersonating Shadow warriors and have befouled his beloved code with blood, he’s torn between duty and vengeance.

Shenrae’s childhood burned in the fire that claimed her parents’ souls. Knowing the assailants will attack again, she swallows her self-doubt to focus on her grueling Shadow warrior training. But when she realizes the immoral enemies are tapping into a deadly primeval powers, she’s not sure even the best among her brethren are safe.

Now both face the biggest challenge of their lives: Shenrae must unlock her inner strength and Kilo could risk forsaking his code. And their only hope may be to embrace the very power that is out to kill them.

Can Kilo and Shenrae find a way to uphold their honor and defeat the dark forces?

Congrats to my second (of three!) semi-finalists, Shadow’s Hand by Noelle Nichols! I won’t reveal too much now about my thoughts of this book (saving that for the announcement of my finalist next week), but it’s safe to say that this one resonated with me!

Tomorrow, I’ll reveal the fates of my remaining five books, before I review my three semi-finalists and announce my finalist next Monday, the 25th!

Read on!post signature

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