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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

SPFBO 2019: An Introduction, What To Expect & Top 3 Cover Finalists (by Mihir Wanchoo)


After last year’s amazing experience of judging SPFBO as a group, for the fifth edition, we have increased our numbers to match the edition So this year we have all four judges returning and we are joined by our newest blog member Justine. Here’s a bit of information on all of us:

About Cindy H: By day, Cindy works as a freelance writer where she writes product descriptions for companies and articles/websites for doctors and other members in the healthcare industry. By night, she is a bookworm who loves to read almost anything, but can usually be found with a fantasy or sci-fi novel. Cindy has been able to share her love of fantasy and sci-fi through FBC where she has been a regular contributor since 2008.

When she isn't reading, which is unusual, she can be found drawing, creating cards to send as happy mail, and writing for fun! Cindy can be found on Goodreads.

About David Stewart: David was living as a mild-mannered librarian when one day he stumbled into a radioactive vat full of books and video games and was instantly transformed into Nerd Man. His powers include not being qualified (or interested) in having anything to do with the realities of life, and so he spends his time reading and writing and gaming, with occasional breaks for work and family. D.C. named his daughter Coraline, proof that he has very little respect for normal society and is completely immersed in fantasy. His favorite authors include Grandfather Tolkien, Uncle Steve (Erikson), and that weird cousin with the crazy hair, Neil. He also loves trees and bears.

David Stewart can be found over here on Goodreads.

About Lukasz: Lukasz Przywoski is an avid fiction reader from Poland. As a reviewer, he tries to be critical and thoroughly analyze books that he reads. As a result, he rarely gives 5 stars ratings - he reserves them to books that feel special. Apart from being keen on reading and inhabiting imaginary worlds, his biggest passion is the science of movement and movement in multiple forms. Life without sport and books wouldn't be worth living.

While fantasy is his favourite genre, he tends to read pretty broadly and is always eager to try new things. Favourite authors: Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher, Mark Lawrence, Craig Schaefer, Seth Skorkowsky, Matt Suddain and many others.. He's also active on r/fantasy as barb4ry1. he can be found on Goodreads as well.

About Justine Bergman: When Justine isn’t making websites, she’s ravenously consuming as many dark fantasy stories as humanly possible, and can usually be found with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. As someone who discovered her love for reading later in life, she reads abundant amounts of fantasy and science fiction, in hopes of preventing her to-be-read pile from crushing her to death. She's a gamer that works for a video game company, and she spends far too much time in Tamriel. Justine lives in New Jersey with her lovely husband and their three gorgeous pups.

Her favorite authors include Joe Abercrombie, Michael R. Fletcher, R.J. Barker, Katherine Arden, and Michael J. Sullivan. She can be found over on Goodreads here.

About Mihir Wanchoo: Born and raised in Mumbai, India. Mihir is an avid book collector and longtime reader of fantasy, thrillers and Indian mythology with additional interests in historical fiction and urban fantasy.

Favorite writers include John Connolly, David Gemmell, Rachel Aaron, Rob J. Hayes, Mark Lawrence, Craig Schaefer, Richard Nell, James Clemens and a few others.

With additional interests in cricket and football (the actual kind). Mihir lives in the Pacific North West and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books. Mihir can be contacted directly at Goodreads HERE.


As always Mark Lawrence has our eternal gratitude for commitment towards running this contest and being the patron saint for self-published authors everywhere. All ten judges have had their lots allotted to them and these are the titles from which the FBC finalist will most likely arise:

Ben Meeks - Petrified
Andrew Butcher - Fear the Wolf
John Bierce - Into the Labyrinth
Christian Corbitt - Exhumations
Casey White - Silvertongue
Phil Williams - The City Screams
Linn Tesli - The Fox and the Hunter
A.C Spahn - Enchantress Undercover
E.M Markoff - The Deadbringer
Geetha Krishnan - Ayana
William C Tracy - Journey to the Top of the Nether
Randall McNally - Shadowless
Shanna Bosarge - Devian
Levi Jacobs - Beggar's Rebellion
J.A Andrews - Pursuit of Shadows
K.B Benson - The Harvest
Kelly Marsden - The Shadow Rises
H.G Chambers - Windwalker
G.S Scott - Cleansed
Allison Pang - Magpie's Song
Andrew Hall - Children of Shadows
L.K Evans - Grayden
Nancy E Dunne - Wanderer
Justin Bloch - The Stolen Karma of Nathaniel Valentine
Carol Ann King - A Keeper's Destiny
Jon Ray - Gorp: Goblin Janitor
Andrew Hiller - A Halo of Mushrooms
Eldon Thompson - The Ukinhan Wilds
D.K Holmberg - The Dark Ability
Hailey Griffiths - Starheart

Following on from last year, Fantasy Book Critic will be following a similar pattern. We will dividing all the titles among of us five. We aim to read and review as many titles as we can. So what does this mean?

Similar to last year, each one of us will be talking about our group and reviewing titles from each person’s lot However we will not be just sticking to our delineated groups and will be reading titles from each other’s selections. This way we can be sure about selecting 6-7 semifinalists which will be strongest of the lot in terms of story/plot, characterization & writing style (IOHO).

We will try to post our thoughts on each book but that might not always be possible. We will ideally go through batches of 6 books and announce one or two semi-finalist each time. However that might not always be possible as we might not like any book in a particular batch.

All of these semi-finalists will be getting proper reviews and we will be offering each author an interview to go along with the review. Authors please understand the main reason why we are not able to offer reviews to all of our 30 books as FBC is a passion project outside of our professional and personal lives.

We strive to make sure that our reviews truly reflect how we feel about the books that we read and enjoy. Please don’t feel slighted if your book isn’t selected. It doesn’t mean that it was a crappy book but simply that it didn’t match our tastes and hence it wasn’t put forward. The books that we love might not always be the ones that you like and vice versa. Keep in mind that we will do our best to select the book that we feel is the best of our lot (irrespective of the sub-genre it inhabits within fantasy) .

From the last couple of times, I’ve also learnt that we aren’t the quickest in terms of finishing through our lot so authors please feel to email us at fantasybookcriticblog(at)gmail (dot)com or message us on Facebook or Twitter asking for updates or any other queries. I promise we are very friendly and will do our best to reply back promptly. If you just want to say hello or have other ideas, we welcome them too :)

We are also posting our top 3 covers among all the wonderful ones in our group. For determining the top 3, we rated all our books with a max score of 50 (10 from each judge) and it’s our great pleasure to present our top 3:



1) Shadowless by Randall McNally - Art by Mon Macairap, design and formatting by Streetlight Graphics
2) Beggar’s Promise by Levi Jacobs - Cover art & design by Mateusz Michalski
3) The Fox And The Hunter by Linn Tesli - Cover design by Linn Tesli

NOTE: SPFBO graphics courtesy of Justine Bergman.

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