SPFBO 5 Read, Review, Repeat Results: No 3

Hello, lovelies!

We’ve reached the end (almost)! Only five fates left unknown, before we’ve reach my final 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 and opinions! 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: The Dragons of Esternes
: Steven Turnbull
Published: April 2019
Amount Read: 110 of 1018 pages (12%)
Rating: 3 out of 5 gems
Blurb: What value is freedom when you can’t even ride a dragon? The Complete Story…

As the life of a slave goes, Kantees doesn’t have it too bad. Being responsible for a racing dragon means her existence is more than just drudgery and fear, even if her life is at the whim of her masters and their rules.

But when her dragon wakes her in the middle of the night Kantees is forced to make a life-or-death decision that breaks her masters’ rules and means her own life is forfeit.

Escaping on the back of dragons, with a hodgepodge of unwelcome associates, she attempts to right a wrong that can never be fixed. Until, ultimately, she must put her own life on the line to keep the freedom she has stolen for herself.

The Dragons of Esternes Epic fantasy series in one volume.

This is another that had a lot of promise for me, but it fell unfortunately only because I already fell in love with some other books more, so I had to cut it and move on to reading other books for the contest. However, I think I might pick it back up one day, because it definitely interested me quite a bit and I am curious to see what happened to Kantees! She has a fight and fire within her that I like, though her constant back-and-forth deliberation on her part did get a little tiresome, after a while. I also think the author needs to trust his readers a little more (I get that she is a slave. Why remind us so much?) and I think it was simply the fact that this one is written at a slower pace that had me not falling completely in love with it yet. But I do hope to return to it, one day!

3 stars

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Title: The Martyr’s Blade
: Joel Manners
Published: February 2016
Amount Read: 100 of 598 (16%)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 gems
Blurb: When a series of gruesome rituals are discovered in the icy hinterlands of Albyn, three of the realm’s most storied guardians are sent to track down and bring those responsible to justice.

Lord Bradon, veteran commander and warrior, driven by his unabating love for a woman forever beyond his reach. Sir Killock, a Templar knight more at home in the endless wilderness than in any castle or court. The paragon Danielle d’Lavandou, heir to the Martyr’s Blade, a legendary weapon guarded by her ancestors for generations.

What they uncover is far more than simple murder: a terrifying threat to all the realms of mankind, thought sealed away so long ago that it now exists only as legend.

The fate of her friends, and of the entire kingdom, rests in Danielle’s hands. Will she be able to wield the Martyr’s Blade when it is most needed, and what sacrifice will it demand, this time?

As crown and temple clash over control of the Blade, Danielle must decide if she will sacrifice life, friendship, and even love, to defy the coming darkness.

A tale of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice, The Martyr’s Blade has earned critical praise for its epic story of enduring characters and the stunning world in which they live.

I think this was another case of it’s me and not the book, because although I was curious enough to keep reading after the initial phase, I just struggled to connect with this book and I’m not 100% sure why?

It had an interesting set-up in the prologue, but the tone felt a little off, with the joking and laughter amidst a horror renewed and come to plague them again. It was a weird contrast that I just couldn’t shake, which made it hard for me to pin down what this book was trying to be. I just struggled to connect with this story, as the tone continued to just feel off from how the characters acted, sometimes and, since I read this one later in the contest and had already read what ended up being my finalist, I knew it was time to part ways.

2.5 stars

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Title: Afterlife
: Matt Moss
Published: April 2019
Amount Read: 148 of 353 pages (41%)
Rating: 3 out of 5 gems
Blurb: In the year 2042, the first fully immersive virtual reality MMORPG goes live, giving players the ability to build another life in a world of limitless possibilities. This is the story of one man’s journey.

Down on his luck and with his back against a wall, John Crussel would do anything to provide for his family. Even rob a bank out of desperation. But when he hears of how he can make money in a virtual reality video game called Alterlife, he walks away from the robbery and decides to give it a shot.

Couldn’t be harder than robbing a bank, could it?

John’s world is about to change as he finds that Alterlife is easier than it seems. But being a hotshot new guy that seems to have all the luck draws the attention of some dangerous people in Alterlife – ones that want what he has and are willing to do anything for it.

Through a series of unfortunate events, John becomes the first to contract a deadly virus. Now he only has ten days to live. He soon finds himself tied to a sinister plot and realizes that his misfortune may not be a coincidence.

The virus was designed to kill players outside of the game. And John was targeted to be the carrier.

All John Crussel wanted was to make some easy money.

He thought Alterlife was just a game…

This was another close one for me, although I decided to stop reading close to the halfway mark. I loved the premise (and I would play Afterlife in a heartbeat) and the writing was very solid. Very easy to read and made the pages just fly by.

However, I struggled to connect with John and felt that he was being…overly stupid, in the choices he was making in the game? A few of them didn’t make sense to me, especially with how he’s doing all of this to make money fast, so that just irritated me a little bit (though, I may have been coming at this too personally, given my own family’s current financial situation). I also would have liked more introspection and more of a glimpse of how his playing and hiding Afterlife was affecting his relationships at home, rather than only focusing on the game.

All-in-all, I think this is a quality read that, unfortunately, didn’t ensnare me quite enough to want to continue reading, but it came close.

3 stars

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Title: Terrestrial Magic 
: Marina Ermakova
Published: January 2019
Amount Read: 142 of 569 pages (25%)
Rating: 3 out of 5 gems
Blurb: Most sensible people avoid fire-breathing carnivores that prey on humans. But Jordan has built a career out of studying such legendary animals, creatures thought mythological until their reemergence in the world three decades ago. She and researchers like her believe that knowledge is the key to reclaiming the land they’d lost back then, when humanity retreated into designated safety zones.

But when the humans moved out, the legends moved in. They were the descendants of mythical heroes, inheriting the powers of their ancestors, and they weren’t afraid of the monsters. Jordan never expected to run into a legend, but when a field expedition turns into a trap for her team, she realizes that one deliberately tried to kill her. It’s a diplomatic nightmare the Roman authorities might happily sweep under the rug. But if Jordan doesn’t figure out who attacked her and why, they could try again. Yet even if she does solve the mystery, what could one stubborn scientist possibly do to stop a powerful legend?

This was another one that was a close call for me! I really enjoyed what I read (the first fourth of the book, roughly) and thought the writing and the voice were on point, 110%. When I read it during the initial reads, I didn’t even take any notes, I was so absorbed! But as I continued, I noticed that it took us almost a fourth of the entire novel to get through one scene and I found myself starting to lose interest, despite the writing quality. I think it may be a series I return to, one day, but for now, it’s another unfortunate case of cut by comparison.

3 stars


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Title: Fortune’s Fool
: Angela Boord
Published: June 2019
Amount Read: 100%
Rating: TC
Blurb: A secret affair. A disfiguring punishment. A burning need for revenge.

Kyrra d’Aliente has a bad reputation and an arm made of metal.

Cast out of the safe and luxurious world of silk to which she was born, played as a pawn in a game of feuding Houses, Kyrra navigates a dangerous world of mercenaries, spies, and smugglers while disguising herself as a man.

War destroyed her family and the man she loved.

Vengeance is within her grasp.

But is she willing to pay its price?

Congrats to my third and final semi-finalist, Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord! 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 this one captivated me!

There you have it! 27 books cut and three remaining. Who do you think will take my finalist spot? Check back here on Monday, November 25th to find out the answer!

Read on!post signature

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