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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Spotlight: Intriguing Titles in SPFBO Part I (by Mihir Wanchoo)


With the fifth edition of SPFBO starting today. We thought it would be fun to highlight a few titles among the 300 books that caught our eyes. However once we started noting down the title names, we quickly realized that a few wouldn't cover it at all. Quite a lot of books caught our attention and so we decided to split our post into two.

The books we showcase within this post have caught our eye due to their blurbs, their covers, as well as potential subject matter. A few we have read, reviewed and hence are on this list.

We would like to state that this list is in no way an indicator of our choices going forward in the contest. But simply details titles that we WOULD like to read. Some are from our lot and hence we look forward to them with eagerness.

So without further ado, here's part I of the noteworthy titles (in random order):

Ghosts of the Sea Moon (Saga of the Outer Islands #1) by A.F. Stewart 


Official Blurb:In the Outer Islands, gods and magic rule the ocean.

Under the command of Captain Rafe Morrow, the crew of the Celestial Jewel ferry souls to the After World and defend the seas from monsters. Rafe has dedicated his life to protecting the lost, but the tides have shifted and times have changed.

His sister, the Goddess of the Moon, is on a rampage and her creatures are terrorizing the islands. The survival of the living and dead hinge on the courage and cunning of a beleaguered captain and his motley crew of men and ghosts.

What he doesn’t know is that her threat is part of a larger game. That an ancient, black-winged malevolence is using them all as pawns…


The Kishi (Tales from Esowon #1) by Antoine Bandele


Official Blurb: A pacifist monk. A threatening darkness. An innocent village hanging in the balance.

Hoping to escape his dark past, Amana travels to the great village of Bajok in search of redemption. The day he arrives, a young woman is slain and the locals point their fingers at the new arrival. Amana must overcome the village's trepidation. A demon is on the loose and he fears more will die. The solution is obvious—a swift and brutal counterattack.

But his vow of peace is the last virtue that remains in his tattered soul. Is his personal peace more valuable than the lives of the innocent, or will Amana be swallowed by the darkness that has hounded him his entire life?


The God-King’s Legacy by Richard Nell


Official 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, then retreated from the world. But his sacrifice is all but forgotten by those he now rules. 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.


Women of Wasps and War by Madeleine D'Este


Official Blurb: Women of Wasps and War is a grim, gripping tale of power and politics, and the heart-breaking struggle between love and honour.

Agata, the Duchess of Ambrovna, was never meant to take the throne. In a land where men rule, her sole purpose was to smile and curtsy.

However, when war left her land leaderless, the Fatherhood religion begrudgingly allowed a first; a woman to rule. Now the war is over the men have returned more arrogant and cruel than ever, and the Duchess is shoved back into a life of needlework and silence. But with her new thirst for justice, Agata is reluctant to allow her country to return to its old ways.

Without her position of power, Agata and her circle of women look to the taboo wisdom of the Wasp Women for answers. But this ancient knowledge comes with consequences, and with death and treachery on the horizon, Agata must decide whether it is worth the risk.


The Silk Mind by Pete Alex Harris


Official Blurb: Ashlin Smith is dissatisfied with his pointless job as supervisor of the Royal Badger Survey.He wants nothing more than to quit and go back to being a blacksmith like the rest of his family wanted.However, due to politics, and an inexplicable plot set in motion decades earlier, his job is about to become a lot more interesting, and not in a good way.A giant badger, murderous cultists, abominations and dinner guests straight from the fairy tales, and a frighteningly clever and stubborn empress soon stand in the way of Ashlin's desire to return to a quiet life.


Eyrie (Gryphon Insurrection #1) by K. Vale Nagle


Official Blurb: Zeph is the craftiest gryphon in his pride. Living in the untamed wilds, he hunts in the shadow of the massive sky-cities of the opinici, evolved gryphon cousins. His taste for parrots leads him to a murder scene and a blood-stained notebook—a notebook the opinici will do anything to get back before he unravels the mystery at the heart of the eyrie.

Kia is a serious opinicus scholar with no time for gryphons, but when her best friend goes missing and only a strange notebook holds a clue of his whereabouts, she’ll even team up with an uncivilized parrot hunter to get him back.

When the peace that has held for so long is shattered, they’ll find themselves mixed up with curious songbird scholars, legendary cranes, murderous owl gryphons, mad scientists, and the cunning peafowl who rules them all. Will Zeph make the sacrifices necessary to protect the life he’s always known, or will both their worlds crumble to ash?


The Not-So-Grim Reaper by Sergio C. Pereira


Official Blurb: Because death should be a laughing matter!

Already down on his luck, Claudio Chillwell has a day that goes from bad to worse - he dies on his way to a job interview. A chatty grim reaper named Gee feels horrible about the embarrassing way that Claudio slipped off this mortal coil and decides to give him a second chance at living.

However, the Dead Council frowns upon necromancy, and there are consequences for those who contravene the rules. Gee ends up on the run and seeks sanctuary at Claudio's home. The suits are having none of it, though, and track down Gee and his new human friends, promising to torment them with hellhounds, soap operas, and bad haircuts.

Will Claudio and Gee survive the bureaucracy and live to tell the tale?


Errant Gods (Blood of the Isir #1) by Erik Henry Vick


Official Blurb: What would you do to save the ones you love? KILL A GOD?

Hank Jensen knows what he must do. If he gives in to his disability—his curse—he will never see his wife or son again. Not alive.

In perpetual pain, enervated and exhausted, his time for accepting the limits of his illness is over. He must follow the trail left by the twisted serial killers through the cave where the pair stored their victims and across a shimmering portal into the mythical worlds of the Norse Sagas.


A White Horizon (Stars and a Wind #1) by Barbara Gaskell Denvil 


Official Blurb: In the cold frozen north, the smell of magic was in the air. A fugitive princess. An assassin in pursuit. Can she outrun a curse she never cast?

Norway, 804. Viking princess Skarga hides her insecurities behind a cover of strength. And after the young girl’s cruel father puts a price on her head for false claims of black magic, she’ll need all the might she can muster. Fleeing the family fortress with her adopted child by her side, she vows to survive the brutal winter.

With a notorious assassin on her heels, one wrong step could spell their doom. For the hunter who chases her is more than he seems… and in the frozen tundra evil takes many forms. Can Skarga uncover the frightening truth before she and Egil meet the bloody end of a sword?

A White Horizon is the first book in the epic Stars and a Wind Norse fantasy trilogy. If you like determined heroines, rugged wilderness, and heart-wrenching twists, in a world where magic is hidden, then you’ll love Barbara Gaskell Denvil’s original adventure.


Husk (Plague Demon Chronicles #1) by D.P. Prior 


Official Blurb: A powerful husk crosses the mountains, leaving a trail of the dead in its wake. When efforts to track the killer end in disaster, the task falls to a man not expected to succeed: Jebediah Skayne, Lothario, hustler, hunter of demons. They call them ‘husks’, the demons that cross the Farfall Mountains, leaving a trail of blood in their wake. No incursion goes unmet; otherwise the cancer would spread until the whole world was consumed by nightmares.

That’s why the Maresmen were formed—trackers and warriors charged with holding back the tide. Each of them is different, uniquely suited to the task in hand, but one thing they hold in common: they are half-breeds, part human, part husk; and they are bound by an inviolable rule: Hunt the husks, or be hunted themselves. Jebediah Skayne has been hunting husks his entire adult life, but there’s something different about the trail leading to the fishing town of Portis on the shores of the Chalice Sea: no spoor, no footprints; nothing save the unmistakable feeling of wrongness.

Finding a husk in Portis would be near impossible for someone who didn’t have the sixth sense, but the instant Jeb arrives, all trace of the incursion vanishes. Forced to rely on more mundane methods of investigation, he starts to uncover a town rife with corruption, where a man will kill you for looking at a woman the wrong way; a town that’s seen its share of incursions from the land of nightmares before.

As events start to slip from his control, he realizes the husk he's come to kill is one step ahead of the game, and it holds a secret that will shake his world to the core.


Dissident (Forbidden Things #1) by Nikki McCormack 


Official Blurb: Ascard power can strengthen, heal, and create. It also has great potential to destroy. Indigo’s country restricts the use of ascard, so she must channel her ability into the healing arts or risk severe punishment. An orphan from a disgraced family, trapped by her father’s treason, she is struggling to find her place in society.

Then a mysterious stranger from a neighboring country asks for her help escaping his prison so he can bring an end to his emperor's oppressive rule. His devotion to his cause and the passion behind his cool arrogance move her. She decides to use her power in forbidden ways to help him at the risk of being branded a traitor like her father.


Dragon Destiny (Dragshi Chronicles #1) by Helen B. Henderson


Official Blurb:Lord Branin of the dragshi, is more than just a man, but two beings—one a dragon, the other a human. The pair share one body in space in time and are able to change forms with the other at will. From the time Branin's twinned soul, Llewlyn, awoke, Branin knew the freedom of flight. However, being a shifter comes with a price. Branin and Llewlyn are the only two of their kind who have not found their intended mates, despite millennia of waiting... and searching. The red-haired firebrand, Broch of Ky'Port plans to fill that position in Branin's life—with or without his cooperation.

For eons, he fears he would never find a woman with her own dragon soul partner—until one day another's mind touched his.


The Ukinhan Wilds (Warder #1) by Eldon Thompson 


Official Blurb:Assassin. Rogue. Demon’s bane. Dragon-slayer. Kylac Kronus has been called many names, and earned every one of them. Months shy of his seventeenth spring, he is already the deadliest man alive. Nothing—be it man or beast—has been able to prove otherwise.

Uncomfortable with his newfound fame following the War of the Demon Queen, Kylac seeks fresh adventure overseas, recruited by a band of outlanders under royal commission to escort a kidnapped princess back to her father, King Kendarrion, ruler of the Sundered Isle. They warn him that, to do so, he will brave tempest seas full of raging leviathans while seeking to evade those responsible for the princess’s abduction—including a terrifying mutant left over from the days of the Mage Wars.

Kylac readily agrees.

But when the mutant proves as cunning as it is savage, the perilous voyage gives way to an even deadlier trek across a poisoned wilderness once home to the ancient Gorrethrehn—“Breeders”—a sect of magi known for their foul creation practices. Stalked by bestial denizens, treacherous companions, and horrors that his blades cannot touch, Kylac finds himself embattled as never before. For the mutant is relentless in its hunt, the island’s terrors do not rest, and not even the deadliest man alive can hope to emerge unscathed.


The Golden Unseen by L.W. Fells


Official Blurb: Northmen—who know no loyalty beyond that of kin—are about to invade the imperial City of Caldesia, the home of the Alminster family.

Thrift, the younger of two sons, sails for an academy he has always planned to attend. An intriguing girl and a sinister mercenary accompany him on the voyage. Soon the cruel and arbitrary way of the sea takes a psychic toll. And when Thrift winds up stranded in a lawless city, he must decide whether to relinquish his dream of attending the academy.

Thrift’s twin sister, Josefina, sets out to cross an enchanted forest. A determined and inquisitive girl, she struggles as a chasm opens between her and her mother and as she is confronted with a new side of a childhood adversary. Navigating the onset of adulthood, she encounters a bewitching sylvan people who harbor a grievance toward civilization.

The older brother of the twins, Michel, vows to stay in Caldesia to fight the Northmen. A conservative knight who favors restoration, Michel is vexed by differences he has with his childhood friend Joe, a mariner and fledgling revolutionary, who sees the imperial order as unjust. The center may not hold, it seems, as localism asserts itself along the periphery of the Empire and the old aristocratic order trembles. Wrenched away from one another and from the world that they knew, the siblings come of age as an ancient enmity is rekindled.


Shadowless by Randall McNally 


Official Blurb: What if the gods themselves wanted you dead?

A young boy lies on a beach on a warm summer's day. While trying to block the sun from his eyes Arpherius makes a shocking discovery; he has no shadow. Confused and bewildered he asks his uncle why he is shadowless. What he learns is a terrifying secret that will change his life forever.

Set in the Northern Realms, Shadowless is a fantasy novel about individuals born without a shadow. Spawned by the malevolent deities of this world these children of the gods are persecuted at every turn. Hunted by the high priests who carry out the wishes of their gods, hunted by the Shadow Watchers; armed soldiers who are assigned to each temple, and hunted by the gods themselves.

Part-mortal and part-god, the Shadowless live for centuries and face a battle for survival, constantly on the run or hiding in far-flung corners of the Northern Realms. Soon their lives and fates become intertwined, expedited by the mysterious monk Amrodan. Driven by a series of visions Amrodan travels through the Northern Realms, seeking out the Shadowless and trying to enlist their help to take a stand and fight back against the gods.


Over a God's Dead Body by Joel Spriggs  


Official Blurb: Three gods walk onto a college campus looking for a dead body. A bad joke, a bad day, or both? Loki hates being bound to Seth, the most micromanaging of all the Egyptian Gods. But when their quest to regain Seth's crown leads to a boring midwest town where nothing happens, Loki discovers a family he never wanted to admit may exist.

Esmy is singularly frustrated by the lack of pockets in women's clothing and being stuck in a rut with fixing the same crappy WiFi issues day in and day out. But when it turns out her great-grandfather is Loki, that ignites her life like a powder-keg. Leading her to discover her own college campus's mysterious depths, involving voodoo priestesses, sasquatches, vampires, Canadians who hate girl scout cookies and the magical ability to have a pocket bigger than a closet.

In a high-stakes game of maneuvering, Loki's freedom and Esmy's survival come down to a fight over a God's dead body.


The Blade Within (Raike #1) by Jackson Lear


Official Blurb: Someone kidnapped the wrong girl.

Twelve hours ago Raike didn’t even know she existed. Nor would he have cared. That was until the only clue to her kidnapping lay in a cryptic note foretelling her death - a note Raike has seen once before. Now he’s prepared to lose everything to get her back.

Standing in his way is an alliance of two mercenary companies, a city watch who cares more about stopping Raike than finding the missing girl, and an imperial general who had little to fear – until Raike came along.

A gripping fantasy thriller that will keep your heart racing until the very end.


The Map Maker of Morgenfeld by Sean Monaghan


Official Blurb: Cole Palmer lives an idyllic, quiet life in a small village, trying to put his life together after Liddy disappeared. He sketches and does odd jobs for neighbors, and misses her. A murder in distant, sprawling Morgenfeld changes everything. And not for the better. The chaotic world of the vast kingdom-building shoves Cole into unimaginable situations. Cole just wants to go home. If he can survive. The perfect journey for readers who love the fantastic worlds of Mervyn Peake and Michael Moorcock.


Guns of Liberty by Jamie Mauchline


Official Blurb: "First rule of piracy: be in the wrong place at the right time."

Guns of Liberty is an age of sail fantasy where Airships rule the skies, Pirates stalk the misty main, and Occultists dabble in profane magics left behind by dispossessed gods. Join Rachel Masters, Inquisitor of the Liberty Empire, as she sets sail to discover the source of ancient magic artifact that could bring war to the empire, and secure it before it can fall into the wrong hands. But she's not the only one looking for the artifact... and when the elusive pirate captain Genevieve Jones kidnaps a duchess, Rachel might have just met her match. If she's going to rescue the duchess, secure the artifact, and save the empire she'll need to put aside her prejudices and find unlikely allies...


The Knight with Two Swords by Edward M. Erdelac


Official Blurb: Before Arthur, There was Uther.
Before Lancelot, There was Balin The Savage.
Before the Holy Grail could be found...it had to be lost.

Balin grows up revering the memory of his father, a storied knight of the High King Uther's time. He is held back from following in his footsteps by his mother, a priestess of the old religion whose capitol is the Isle of Avalon. When she is burned at the stake as a witch by fanatics, Balin blames the corrupting influence of Avalon and sets himself against all that is pagan.

A new high king arises; Arthur, whose rule must unite pagan and Christian alike. Sir Balin, now known as The Savage for his ferocity in battle, answers the king's call for champions, but in his heart, questions the presence of the shadowy wizard Merlin beside the throne. When a vengeful enchantress comes to Camelot bearing a cursed sword that will make Balin the greatest knight in all Albion, but doom him to slay his beloved king, Balin sets out on a long quest that will veer between God and glory, love and madness, justice and revenge, and change the land forever.


Song of a Dead Star by Zamil Akhtar


Official Blurb: When Kav sleeps, a firefly whispers in his ear that his wife is not dead. But to find her he has to kill the three Magi that protect the land of Eden. The same Magi destroyed Kav's hometown four years ago to crush a rebellion, and he hasn't seen his wife since.

As Kav plots to kill the Magi, a flying armada bent on conquest and destruction invades Eden. Only the Magi and their ability to turn sunshine into magical energy can stop them. Granted the same power by the firefly, Kav must either kill the Magi to reunite with his wife, or let go of his longing for the sake of Eden and its people.


Pursuit of Shadows by JA Andrews 


Official Blurb: Killien, the unyielding clan chief who’s becoming increasingly volatile.
Sora, the suspicious ranger who sees more than she should.
A swarm of frost goblins that devour with tooth and claw.

The list of people and things that could get Will killed keeps growing.

While Alaric is in Queensland, searching for Kordan’s Wellstone, Keeper Will is over the mountains in the hostile Roven Sweep, searching for his missing sister.

After catching a glimpse of a woman who could be her in a Keeper-hating Roven clan. Will convinces Killien to let him travel north with them to their summer homes.

Under the relentless suspicions of Sora, a tenuous friendship grows between Will and Killien, who talks of building peace among the hostile Roven.

Except Will’s thin disguise as a storyteller is crumbling quickly and Sora may already know who he is.

The more Will gets to know Killien, the more troubling things he learns. Killien’s hatred for Keepers runs deep, and for all his talk of peace, the man’s greatest wish is to control a vicious army.

And a dragon.

But Will doesn’t know that the chief has taken more from him than just his sister.

And Killien controls enough power to gain everything he wants.


The Thorning Ceremony by Andrew Einspruch


Official Blurb: A slightly OCD princess. Her ambitious twin sister.

And the worst rite of passage in the history of all the realms.

Princess Eloise Hydra Gumball III is on track to become the Future Ruler and Heir to the Western Lands and All That Really Matters. That is, if she can survive the grueling training of the demanding Thorning Master, stave off her sister’s desires to take on the role, and get through the horrific Thorning Ceremony.

The Thorning Ceremony is a humorous story set in a unique fantasy world that features weak magic, equality between species, way töö mänÿ ümläüts. It's a funny and witty standalone prequel novel to the Western Lands and All That Really Matters series. If you like quirky, clever characters, lively dialog, and a fun Discworld-ish fantasy setting, then you'll love this book from Andrew Einspruch.


Necromantica by Keith Blenman


Official Blurb: Storm the castle. Raise the dead. Bring the world to its knees.

Best. Date night. EVER.

In this heart-stopping, dark fantasy, two thieves charge through an epic battle between monsters and men. One, a necromancer, a sorceress who uses black magic to manipulate the dead. The other, a rogue assassin and skilled swordsman. Enemies to both armies, allied only to each other, they face doom at every moment on a suicide mission to steal from a holy king.


Hound of The Mountain (Lawless Ink Book 1) by Stephan Morse


Official Blurb: The weight of the world shouldn’t rest on a 17-year-old’s shoulders, but that’s what it feels like for Chase Craig. With his daddy’s last breath, he was given a goal: save Momma from The Mountain.

Escaping this monstrous shadow will take money, lots of it, and Chase’s best option is to join The Rangers—an elite group who hunt dangerous ink-touched beasts that spawn from The Mountain’s depths. Only one person will be chosen out of the several dozen who apply, and if he doesn’t get a magic tattoo before the Trials, he’ll be out of the running.


Cloak of the Two Winds (The Glimnodd Cycle Book 1) by Jack Massa 


Official Blurb: Pirates, sorcerers, and witches battle for an ancient magical treasure

To the Iruk people of the South Polar Sea, the crew of a hunting boat is sacred—a band of men and women warriors bound by oath and a group soul. But when Lonn leads his crew away from the hunt to pursue his dream of a treasure ship, they find more than an easy bit of piracy.

The ship belongs to the witch Amlina, and after the Iruks carry off her possessions, they are robbed in turn. Worse, one of their band is also taken—Glyssa, the woman Lonn loves.

To rescue her, the Iruks must join forces with Amlina on a perilous voyage far from the seas they know. To Lonn and his mates, nothing matters but saving Glyssa. But Amlina knows much more is at stake. Among her possessions is an object of ancient power. In the wrong hands, the Cloak of the Two Winds can unravel the age-old magic that keeps the world from chaos.


The Empress of Timbra (Hidden Histories, #1) by Karen Healey & Robyn Fleming


Official Blurb: My father's eyes were steady on my face as I blew out the last bubbles of my breath. I pressed my knife into his hand but he could not make his fingers close around the hilt. I screamed for help with my first lungful of air, and dove again with my second. I was too late.

Fourteen-year-old Taver didn't know he was a nobleman's bastard until his real father died. Eleven-year-old Elaku has always known she was the bastard daughter of the same nobleman. When the two siblings meet in the Empress of Timbra's palace, they become fast friends.

Around them, intrigue and rumour swirl. Not everybody is happy with the rule of the Empress of Timbra. Some have plans for Taver and Elaku. And when treachery and war threaten their home, Taver and Elaku must rely on their magic, their wits, and each other to have any chance of preventing disaster.

Broken Crossroads (Knights of the Shadows #1) by Patrick LeClerc 


Official Blurb: The city of Laimrig, once a mighty hub of commerce and a seat of power sinks into corruption and decay. Slavers, crime lords and corrupt officials hold sway while the ruling nobility wallow in decadence. War rages beyond the borders, while within rebellion simmers and sinister plots unfold.

Trilisean is an acrobat turned burglar. Conn is a jaded former mercenary. Against the background of deadly blades, subtle schemes, glittering treasures, dark sorceries and fell servants of forgotten gods, fate has thrown them together.

Fate has a sense of humor.


The Skald's Black Verse (Dreadbound Ode #1) by Jordan Loyal Short


Official Blurb:A last ditch rebellion. A powerful curse. An omen of disaster. Dark, epic, fun – a new world full of wonder, dread, and gallons of blood!

When a sinister creature murders one of the conquerors’ soldiers, Brohr’s violent reputation makes him the prime suspect. Haunted by a rage-filled ghost, Brohr’s disturbing possessions quickly become the reason for all of his troubles…and the only way he can survive.

With a grandfather bent on dragging him into a failed rebellion, and a deadly comet hurtling toward his embattled world, Brohr sets off on a quest to save his people and uncover the secrets of his own past!


Yesterday's Demons by Michael Ripplinger 


Official Blurb: When he was a boy, Siv McCaig came face-to-face with a monster. After a childhood lived in fear, he encountered it again.

Siv just wants to work his trade as a blacksmith, play cards at the saloon, and watch the stars. But he'll never be at peace without answers. What was the monster that burned down his house? Where did it come from? And will it ever come back again?

His search becomes a battle for his planet's survival. Only two things might keep all of Verde from falling to the horrors of Siv's nightmares, but they've been lost for two hundred years: technology and magic.


Ayana: The Journey by Geetha Krishnan


Official Blurb: Captured by an evil that has been stalking her since her previous birth, Sita's only hope of rescue lay in her husband's love and tenacity. But neither Rama or she is aware of their true purposes or of the destiny that is in store for them

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (reviewed by Will Byrnes)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: When the end is near will you know it? Will signs appear to show it? And what sort of end will it be? Ice or fire? Conflagration? Land consumed by an angry sea? And what if there’s uncertainty? What if this is not the result of that, but just the way things are, under no one’s control to cause or prevent? And if there is no control, what is the role of those who speak on behalf of an unseen power? Do they suffer from confusion, perhaps delusion? Can we take them at their word? What if they insist we go along with their intrusion, even though we’ve reached a very different conclusion? Lines are drawn when the mad demand our subjugation. What sort of god could allow such things and still insist on adoration?

Wenling (Wen) will be eight years old in a few days. She and her two daddies, Eric and Andrew, are away from it all, up from Cambridge, at a cabin in northern New Hampshire, near the Canadian border.

"Her dads chose this place because there would be no Wi-fi or cell reception so they could unplug and it would be just the three of them hanging out, swimming, talking, playing cards or board games without any digital distractions."

Peace and quiet, no nearby neighbors, plenty of grasshoppers. Wen is outside collecting some in a jar, to study. She is even giving them names, and making sure to pick smaller ones that will not damage themselves on the jagged edges of the air holes she’s poked in the metal lid. Out of nowhere a very large man appears, Leonard. He might be taller than anyone she has ever met, and he’s as wide as a couple of tree trunks pushed together. He is soft spoken and seems kind, even helps her collect some specimens. But Leonard is (like the Blues Brothers) on a mission from god. He has three other people with him.

"Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen, but they have to. Tell them they have to. We are not here to hurt you. We need your help to save the world. Please."

Well, in that case, sure, come on in…or not. Wen, alarmed, runs to tell her dads. The four insist on entering. The dads are determined to keep them out, and the siege is on.


An apocalypse is coming and these four are both heralds and, potentially, agents of prevention. Were the voices they all heard some common mental illness, an alien intrusion, or truly a sign from you-know-who? That the world seems to be going to hell quickly in a dramatically large handbasket lends them some credence, but what they are asking is unthinkable.

Tremblay has written detective novels, scores of short stories and a few horror books, all while keeping his day job, schoolteacher. Perhaps because of having to deal with adolescents at work and at home, he is fond of horror story tropes. In A Head Full of Ghosts he became one with the demonic possession tale. For a later work, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, he considered what sort of things would most terrify him personally. And the winner was missing child, every parent’s nightmare. This time he took on another favorite source of terror. ‘How would I do a home invasion novel I’d like to read?’ I guarantee you have not read one like this one before.

The intent doesn’t matter much if you do not care about those in the home being invaded. No problem. Wen is edible, and her daddies are a very human couple, with affection and edges reasonably distributed. Details of their lives make you care for them more and more. And you will have cause for concern, as they are facing very real, very existential immediate peril.

There are plenty of elements in common with the usual home invasion horrors. Wondering if your invaders are nuts, fearing for your life and the lives of your loved ones, trying to figure out ways to get the better of the baddies. What is different is that the home invaders do not seem to be evil people, despite the most definitely evil-looking scythe-like weaponry they tote. (When the going gets seriously tough, the seriously tough get going to FourHorsemenOutfitters.com, your goto provider for your end-times needs. Tribulation-free ordering guaranteed) Leonard, the leader, seems particularly reasonable, a gentle giant, nice even. They might be insane, but what if they are not? There are reasons offered to consider the latter possibility. The other three are definitely equipped with good sides too, but a bit less manifestly than their leader.

Any fine meal is composed of a range of ingredients. Here we have the terror of the invaded, the unexpected facets of the invaders and a big, overarching scare. Is it real or not? But there are other items spicing up this read. There is consideration of faith, religion, and how far one will go in service of one’s beliefs. It is tough not to see the four horsemen imagery in the four invaders, but there are other, more subtle spices at play. A motif of sevens permeates. There are sundry references to other novels that offer some food for thought. Tim O’Brien’s In The Lake of the Woods is one. There are others. Do we believe what we see or see what we believe?

CONCLUSION: This book will keep you guessing. Is this the end of the world? Or maybe just a potential end for some. Tremblay offers an explanation, but can we accept it? The ambiguity provides a constant tension from the first encounter to the last page. There may not be a mysterious voice telling you to get your hands on this one as soon as you can, and read it as quickly as possible. But whether you hear one or not, this will be one of the best reads of the summer and you do not really know how much time you have left.

Note: Four Horsemen of the apocalypse picture courtesy of ZDnet.com. This review originally was posted by Will on Goodreads.

Tuesday, June 25, 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.

Monday, June 24, 2019

River Of Thieves by Clayton Snyder (reviewed by Justine Bergman)


Official Author Website
Order River of Thieves over HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Clayton began reading the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Madeline L'Engle, and others, at an early age. It ignited a love of the odd, the darkly funny, and the magical in him that never left. Over the past few years, he's published several short stories with various magazines, and three novels with small presses. When he's not telling stories, he works as a systems administrator for a game retailer. In his off time, he games, he cooks, and he attempts to play guitar. He currently lives in North Dakota with his wife, two dogs, and a cat that insists it's the other way around.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Cursed thief Cord relies on his partner, Nenn, to recover his body, stash the money, and convince the authorities that there are no leads left to follow. They spend their days hitting low-tier lenders and banks, but after a botched robbery, Cord begins to think they need something bigger, something that will set them up for life.

When that thing happens to be a heist no one else in the kingdom has the stones to pull off, he gathers a group of rogues with a particular set of talents—Nenn, handy with a knife and a cool head; Rek, cat-fancier and strongman; and Lux, undead wizard.

Together, they converge on the city of Midian to steal the heart of a saint and punish a tyrant. What comes out of the carnage is so much more—a conflict between gods that could decide the fate of every thief in the worlds.

FORMAT/INFO: River of Thieves is 322 pages divided over three parts and 33 numbered and titled chapters. The book is currently available in e-book and paperback format, as well as on Kindle Unlimited. It was self-published by the author on April 16, 2019. Cover design by the author, Clayton Snyder.

CLASSIFICATION: Comic fantasy

ANALYSIS:
We were the worst kind of people. For the best reasons. We understood that, even if no one else did.
After a robbery gone horribly wrong, Cord, a cursed thief, broadens his horizons and plans to execute the heist of a lifetime. With fellow thief and knife connoisseur Nenn in tow, the two build their ragtag crew to target the heart of the kingdom - Midian, the seat of tyrant King Mane Anaxos. As treachery, horrifying creatures of nightmare, and opposition bar their path at every turn, the gang must depend on skill - intellectual, martial, and magical - to deliver them an endless summer and keep them free from the clutches of evil despotism.

I've had the pleasure of beta reading this book and have witnessed something great only evolve and grow in scope and grandeur, becoming even more amazing, with each iteration. On its surface, this story is a wild and insane ride, peppered with plenty of "wtf?" moments, violent, wince-inducing action, and crude humor, but beneath all the layers, this is a tale of fighting for what you believe in, of how inaction is just as detrimental and damning as the actual crime, and how people need not share blood in order to be family. While dark and serious themes are tackled within, the pages are literally oozing with an unapologetic, sarcastic, and refreshing humor I've rarely encountered in books I've read over the years. And if I'm being completely honest, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard reading a story in my life...ever. River of Thieves is highly imaginative, wildly hilarious, and so very weird - in the best way possible.

It's impossible to begin discussing River of Thieves without giving Cord & Co. the attention they deserve, as Cord, Nenn, Rek, and Lux complete one of the most dynamic and charming "ragtag group of rogues" I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Collectively, they're a group of charismatic, intelligent (debatable), debaucherous, sweary, and stabby thieves with tons of heart, willing to do whatever needs to be done in order to instill and protect the free will they believe all are entitled to. However, they have no regard for collateral damage, and more often than not, disaster and death of immeasurable proportion follow in their wake. While each contributes to the group in their own distinct way, they have more in common than they would like to believe, leading to some pretty impressive and witty banter, bickering, and artistic insults - as with any family, of course. As for secondary characters, I...I just can't...you'll have to pick up the book to meet them yourself (Tug's my favorite, by the way).

Ever since I cracked open Snyder's Child of Nod, I've been a fan of his flowing and poetic prose, and he never ceases to impress. The use of metaphors and skillfully executed comparative language vividly paints this story in a such a way I didn't think possible, being both impactful and exceedingly amusing. The narrative itself is told through the eyes of Nenn, giving it a strong voice, projecting a firsthand account of the action, and perfectly immersing you in the many misadventures they face along their journeys. She's a sassy and sarcastic badass, and the tone of the tale reflects this. In addition to the main storyline, crafted myths are injected to add depth and history in interesting and entertaining ways - the tale of the goblin king is quite possibly the most beautifully written little yarn I've ever read.
He did not weep though the ground doubled and trebled before him and the carmine drops on his blade blurred to the point of blossoming into petals.
The story itself is broken up into three parts, each their own little adventure, but tied together throughout. Whether we're celebrating St. Cruciatus Day in the flooded streets of Midian, hiding away in a little hamlet under the boot of religious oppression, ascending the dominating onyx tower in the bustling center of Orlecht, or just sailing our way downriver, there's no shortage of interesting settings, strange enemies, or trouble to encounter. Although part one is the largest of the three and mainly focuses on events in one city, parts two and three are definitely a build-up for a grander story to (hopefully!) be addressed in future Cord & Co. books.

River of Thieves is one of the most entertaining reads I've read this year, and I cannot express enough how much I've fallen in love with these amazing characters. To me, this is a bit of a deranged retelling of Robin Hood - punish the rich…and also everyone else - done in such an exceptional way, using ridiculous(ly funny) pop culture references, pitch black humor, and unwavering emotion. I had so much fun reading this and am really looking forward to spending more time with the gang in the future. This book has a little bit of something for everyone, so you should definitely pick it up and give it a try. I highly recommend.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ioth, City Of Lights by D. P. Woolliscroft (reviewed by Justin Bergman)


Official Author Website
Pre-order Ioth, City of Lights over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Kingshold

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Born in Derby in England, on the day before mid-summers day, David Peter Woolliscroft was very nearly magical. If only his dear old mum could have held on for another day. But magic called out to him over the years, with a many a book being devoured for its arcane properties. David studied Accounting at Cardiff University where numbers weaved their own kind of magic and he has since been a successful business leader in the intervening twenty years.

Adventures have been had. More books devoured and then one day, he had read enough where the ideas he had kept bottled up needed a release valve. And thus, rising out of the self doubt like a phoenix at a clicky keyboard, a writer was born. The Wildfire Cycle is David's debut series.

He is married to his wife Haneen and has a daughter Liberty, who all live with their mini golden-doodle Rosie in Princeton NJ. David is one of the few crabs to escape the crab pot.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Be careful what you strive for.

The people won and now Mareth is Lord Protector of Edland. But winning an election is a lot different than governing a country, especially when the empire of Pyrfew is expanding into the Sapphire Sea. In the interests of peace, Mareth must dispatch Alana to Ioth, city of a thousand lights, to convince the ruling merchants to turn their back on the empire. Neenahwi, armed with the knowledge revealed to her in her coming of age ceremony, desperately wants to determine Pyrfew's plans and to take the fight to the emperor. But Llewdon, ancient elven emperor of Pyrfew, has had decades to develop his schemes and his agents are embedded in the least expected places. Everything seems to revolve around the disappearance of Jyuth's master a millennia ago.

Will the heroes of Kingshold be able to survive fire belching ships, strange slimes, sinister doppelgängers, demon dogs, greedy merchants and past vices to lead Edland to safety?

Following on from Kingshold and Tales of Kingshold, read the much anticipated next chapter in the Wildfire Cycle, compared to Michael J. Sullivan, Brett Sanderson and Daniel Abraham.

FORMAT/INFO: Ioth, City of Lights is 531 pages divided over 45 numbered and titled chapters across three parts, and an epilogue, and is the second full-length entry in The Wildfire Cycle series. The book is currently available for pre-order in e-book format, and will also be available in paperback format on its publication day. It is scheduled to be self-published by the author on June 20, 2019. Cover art and design by Jeff Brown.

CLASSIFICATION: Epic fantasy, Political fantasy

ANALYSIS:
"Today was to be a day for them to stand in the wind and take the storm's fury."
Several months after the election, the victors are beginning to settle into their roles in the realm's new regime, however, unrest still remains in the city of Kingshold, while promises made have yet to be delivered upon. Across the Sapphire Sea, the real threat is taking root in Ioth, as Pyrfew soldiers flood the streets and waterways, their intentions unknown. In an attempt to gather information, as well as broker peace, the Lord Protector sends a trusted team to deliberate and compromise with the political and spiritual leaders of the City of Lights, hoping to prevent this potential danger from spreading. Secrets unravel, battles are fought, and unlikely heroes emerge, but is it enough to thwart the designs of an ancient Emperor?

Ioth, City of Lights is the second full-length installment in Woolliscroft's The Wildfire Cycle series, and it takes everything we've come to know and love from Kingshold and expands upon it in ways I didn't think possible. While book one mainly focuses on events that affect one city, this book stretches its fingers across the Sapphire Sea, into neighboring Redpool and Ioth, with flashes of insight into the Pyrfew societal structure, as well. Presented with nail-biting action and utterly heartbreaking loss, we witness the true might of the enemy at last. Much like its predecessor, Ioth tackles the plagues of unbalanced power and corruption, but on a much broader scale, affecting larger societies, and in more profound ways. It focuses on the issues faced when not allowing all tiers of the populace a voice, and how the arrogance and greed of those at the top can only lead to one possible outcome: devastation and ruin.

Another recurring theme throughout is the refusal to adhere to blind, and oftentimes misplaced, faith. Rather than following the flock, sometimes it is best to step back and question the destination, as it's possible the thing you're so intent on following may be straying far from its true intended path. And finally, it builds upon the bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie, and the difficult choices made in the name of the greater good.

The story is broken up into three parts, each generally taking place in a different part of The Jeweled Continent. While part one, set in Redpool, acts as a precursor of what's to come, and part two, set in Kingshold, allows us to further investigate the courtly intrigue post election, part three transports us to the City of Lights, a Venetian-inspired metropolitan of winding streets, canals laden with vessels, and whitewashed buildings. As with Kingshold, Ioth is so finely crafted, down to the most minute detail. Each district named for the things they are known for producing or putting on display, such as the Brass Isle or the Isle of Flowers. The Sanctum of Arloth; five shards reaching towards the heavens, one tipped in fiery gold - the Finger of Arloth. The ramshackle and dangerously soaring towers and promenades of The Ladders, home to the misfortuned poor. The striking columns and seemingly impossible ceilings of the Palazzo Confluens, seat of the ruling Assembly. Villas and storefronts and market stalls at every turn. The more we wander around the city, the more grand it becomes, and although led by several corrupt officials, I wish I could've kept exploring all the nooks and crannies to find what else Ioth has to offer.
"Why don't you go and find a book and a quiet place to read?"
Ioth is also a story that highlights the metamorphoses of several of the key characters we've been previously acquainted with. A bard becoming ruler, once only caring for himself, and now fighting for the safety of all his constituents. A maid promoted to Ambassador, unsure in her abilities, but more capable than anyone could've ever imagined. The adopted daughter of the founder of Edland, now one of the nation's most formidable mages with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Mercenaries and assassins hired for legitimate stately purposes. In addition, many new characters that we've met in Tales of Kingshold make their first appearances in the precarious game being played by the world's most influential super powers.

Character dynamics play a crucial role in the development of all, and for fear of spoiling, I'll let you discover this on your own. We finally get a glimpse of the true threat as Ioth streets are surging with the green and gold of Pyrfew soldiers, and the appearance of the Bird Man, gigantic eagle in tow, and his jester-like accomplices. We get but a taste, but are definitely left with a lasting impression.

It's impossible to discuss this book without mentioning the insanely intense and enthralling action encountered throughout. Fire-breathing ships, arcane and chemically induced magics, invisible towers guarded by mysterious, murderous goop, it has it all. Skirmishes are described in such vivid detail, you feel as though you're right alongside Motega, Trypp, and Florian, dodging bolts and attempting to keep your footing on blood-slicked ground, or fighting back-to-back with Alana as assassins appear over balconies railings. Our heroes seem incapable of catching a break, and they're met with conflict around each and every corner, whether head-on by city guardsmen, or sinister troubles from within the shadows. And during each, you're on the edge of your seat, hoping to see your beloved favorites emerge unscathed.

Ioth, City of Lights is a wildly emotional and compelling ride, and Woolliscroft's best yet. The foreshadowing throughout the book hints at something monumental, but let me tell you, it's so much more than I expected, leaving me utterly slack-jawed at the final page. As we travel across The Jeweled Continent, my commitment to and adoration of The Wildfire Cycle continues to grow exponentially, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. I must point out that if you haven't read Tales of Kingshold before giving this one a try, you're doing yourself an extreme disservice, so get on that! For those of you that have yet to begin this incredible series, now is the perfect time to dive right in, and for those who are patiently awaiting Ioth, prepare yourselves for one thrilling adventure! I highly recommend.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Recursion by Blake Crouch (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Blake Crouch Website
Order “RecursionHERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Pines" by Blake Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Eerie” by Blake and Jordan Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Run” by Blake Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of “Serial Killers Uncut” by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Wayward" by Blake Crouch

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Blake Crouch was born in Statesville, North Carolina and graduated in 2000 with degrees in English and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina. He has written four previous novels and a host of short stories. Two of his stories have been optioned for film adaptation. Blake currently lives in Durango, Colorado with his wife.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

FORMAT/INFO: Recursion is 336 pages long divided over five book sections with an epilogue. Narration is in the third-person via Barry Sutton and Helena Smith.

June 11, 2019 marked the Hardcover and e-book publication of Recursion via Crown Publishing.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Blake Crouch is an author whose career has exploded after he explored self-publishing. With Run, he re-established himself as a writer that wasn’t afraid of labels. Since he went from strength to strength and has also been picked up by publishers once again. Dark Matter was the dark hit of 2016 and it has paved the way for Recursion. Almost everyone has heard of the amazing Netflix deal that occurred even before the release of this book. After reading it, I can see why Netflix is keen on it. With such a book, I’ve to discuss the main plot and so there will be mild spoilers.

The main plot deals with something titled False Memory Syndrome, this is a mental disorder wherein people develop strong memories of lives they have never lived. Often driving people crazy, no one know what is causing it or even how to stop it. We have our two main characters Barry Sutton, a NYPD cop and neuroscientist Helena Smith whose lives get entwined with this phenomena. They both have to try to figure out why things are happening the way they are and what is truly causing it.

Blake Crouch has done something spectacular, I don’t mean just writing a great story. Yes he’s done that but what he’s truly done is write a love story within sci-fi trappings. Yes that’s the truth, that’s how Blake Crouch intends to conquer another genre. He’s already made it clear with Dark Matter that he’s the logical successor to Michael Crichton’s SF-thriller throne. He’s also writes better characters than the great Michael Crichton but now it seems he’s set his sights on Nicholas Sparks’ lofty heights.

It’s safe to say that this is the beginning of the end for Nicholas Sparks’ reign if this story is any indication. We don’t realize it until the very last third of the story but this, I repeat is a love story. Blake Crouch has always had a way with his characters and its not different in this book. We learn all about Barry and Helena. Both of them are defined by the tragedies in their lives but they strive on and we truly learn what drives them. I loved to read what Blake Crouch had planned for both of them and it’s truly unpredictable. In this regards, it’s hard to match his characters amidst any of his contemporaries in the SF thriller field. Be it agent Ethan Burke from the Wayward Pines trilogy, or Jack Colclough from RUN. His characters always have complex reasons for doing the things they do. With Recursion, Blake Crouch continues this trend with both Helena and Barry but also Marcus Slade and many others whom give the plot a very strong flavor.

 The author really strives to showcase the mental strain that can befall a person who cannot trust their own memory. The False Memory Syndrome really does a number on individuals and I enjoyed reading about the way that the human mind tries to comprehend memories (both false and true). The plot certainly takes a lot of mental gymnastics and the author strings it along wonderfully.

The plot of this book is a strong crossover between Inception and Edge Of Tomorrow, why do I say so, you can RAFO. But the main plot deals the survival of the whole of humanity and it is one hell of a ride. The story picks up from the opening pages as we are swept along in a turbulent ride as the readers find more and more about False Memory Syndrome and how it began.

The last few chapters are so breakneck that it will be hard for the readers to put down the book. Wanting to know how it all ends and the ending confirms what I said all along. This is a love story pure and simple.

CONCLUSION: Recursion is one of those rare Sci-Fi thrillers that begins as something and then takes a wild turn to metamorphosize into something grander. This book is definitely one that will have you zooming through the pages but remember it is a story to be savored. Blake Crouch is on an incredible roll, already overtaking Michael Crichton and Nicholas Sparks, I can only wonder whom he’ll dethrone next.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Worldwide Giveaway: Thieves Of Fate by Tracy Townsend


Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Nine
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Fall
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Tracy Townsend

Tracy Townsend wowed us with her debut The Nine last year (it was our joint #1 pick for the top 10 debuts in 2017) and with the sequel The Fall, she continues to blow our minds. As stated in our reviews, we love her characters, the worldbuilding and the overall plot, hence we are honored to host this contest wherein FBC along with Tracy Townsend are giving away a set of The Nine & The Fall to one lucky winner!!!

To enter, please send an email to fbcgiveaway@gmail.com with your Name, Mailing Address, and the subject: Thieves Of Fate. Giveaway will end 12:01 pm 29th June 2019 and is open to participants WORLDWIDE!

Thank you for entering and Good Luck!

GIVEAWAY RULES:
1) Open To Anyone WORLDWIDE
2) Only One Entry Per Household (Multiple Entries Will Be Disqualified)
3) Must Enter Valid Email Address, Mailing Address + Name
4) No Purchase Necessary
5) Giveaway will end 12:01 pm 29th June 2019
6) Winners Will Be Randomly Selected and Notified By Email
7) Personal Information Will Only Be Used In Mailing Out the Books To The Winner


NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Combat Codes” by Alexander Darwin!!!


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Click Here To Order “TSairō’s Claw” by Virginia McClain!!!
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Click Here To Order “The Company Of Birds” by Nerine Dorman!!!
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Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
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Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
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