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Friday, June 4, 2021

Spotlight: SPFBO 2021 Intriguing Titles Part II

 



Continuing on from yesterday, here’s part II of the SPFBO 2021 Intriguing Titles (in random order). We would like to reiterate that these lists (both parts) are in no way an indicator of our choices going forward in the contest. However, these simply lists titles that we WOULD like to read.


Red Sky Blues (Grey Days Book 1) by Matthew Davis

Official Blurb: Evil books. Ancient powers. Zombie pigs?

Thomas Grey, occult scholar and reclusive mage, is having a terrible day. Down on his luck and facing a looming electrical bill, he is hired by the supernatural overlord of his hometown to track down a magical book of colossal cosmic evil: The Libro Nihil. The hunt leads Thomas on an adventure across the sleepy cow town of Hanford steeped with mystery, magic, and an absurd amount of mayhem.

Aided by his crotchety, spell-slinging mentor as well as his friend and sometimes bodyguard, Thomas finds himself embroiled in a bizarre and terrifying conspiracy to awaken a sleeping evil that promises to push his magical prowess and threshold for pain to their limits.

It looks like a bad, bad day to have gotten out of bed. But a guy’s got to get paid.


Along the Razor's Edge (The War Eternal Book 1) by Rob J. Hayes

Official Blurb: An empire in flames. A prisoner of war. An unbreakable will to escape.

At just fifteen Eskara Helsene was forced to fight in the greatest war mankind has ever known. She lost.


There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as wild and dangerous as her. The Pit. A prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Betrayed by her best friend, Eska finds herself stripped of her magic, surrounded by thieves and murderers. And there are far worse things that call the deep darkness their home.

In order to survive she will need to make new allies, play the inmates against each other, and survive the darkness long enough to find a way out.

Her enemies will soon learn Eskara is not so easily broken.

 

Seven Ways to Kill a King by Melissa Wright

Official Blurb: She was born a princess. They made her an assassin.

Myrina of Stormskeep was dead. Everyone knew the princess had been slain when the murderous lords of the Storm Queen’s Realm stole her mother’s throne to crown themselves kings.

But far away in Smithsport hides a dark-haired girl known as Bean. Each night when the last flame is snuffed inside the Blackwater Inn and her need for secrecy devoured by the darkness, Princess Myrina plots the death of seven kings.

One will seem an accident.
Two a coincidence.
By three, they will know.

But vengeance rarely goes according to plan. The worst of the kings holds her sister--rightful queen and heir to the realm--captive. If Lettie isn’t freed before she comes into her magic, the kings will hold her power as well.

Myrina can let nothing stop her, even the boy from her past who ignites feelings she long ago buried. With the help of her loyal bloodsworn Cass, the shadow princess will have her revenge.

 

Dark Sea’s End by Richard Nell

Official Blurb: Feared pirate and scoundrel ‘Lucky’ Chang has a dirty secret: he loves his crew, and would die to protect them. As he’s dragged from prison to face the dark sea and a dangerous new world, he just might have to.

Zaya, warrior and skald from the land of ash, knows she has a destiny. Having left her homeland with only a knife and a dream of adventure, she finds herself captured by pirates. To discover her fate, and become a hero from the book of legends, she must first survive the sea.

With a monstrous pilot as guide, and an ex-assassin as captain, Chang, Zaya, and the crew of the mighty Prince sail into uncharted waters. There they may find new lands and wealth, as well as glory beyond their dreams, or nothing but their doom.

 

By the Pact (Pacts Arcane and Otherwise Book 1) by Joanna Maciejewska

Official Blurb: High mages lied: Veranesh, the demon who destroyed the continent is still alive. And it's up to their former student to expose the truth—even if it means another Cataclysm.

When Kamira, a once high mage student turned arcanist, discovers an imprisoned demon in underground ruins, she is forced into a pact that grants her powerful magic, but also ties her to the very demon that once devastated the continent… and Veranesh wants his freedom.

With one friend by her side, Veelk, a mage killer bound on protecting her, Kamira will have to outwit the archmages, other demons, and possibly her own demonic benefactor to survive. Her chances are slim, but with Veelk’s ever-present sarcastic repartee, Kamira might just pull through.

Plots and schemes, power and means—sometimes the price for victory is choosing which friend will die, but when you only have one friend, the choice is… easy?

 

The Shadows Of Dust by Alec Hutson

Official Blurb: The Streams bind together the vast reaches of the stellar tributary, plied by brave streamsurfers and their telepathic starbeasts. Some of these adventurers are heroes. Some are rogues. And some just want to return from the void with their bodies and minds unbroken . . .

Kerin thon Talisien is the heir to a legendary name. When he was a young boy, his grandfather swooped down from the stars and rescued him from the slums of his homeworld. But with the death of the infamous old streamsurfer, Kerin and his crew have fallen on hard times, exiled from the Starfarers Guild and forced to take on risky contracts in the shadowy margins of the stellar tributary. A strange encounter in a glimmer den offers a chance at redemption and glory . . . but the stakes are high, with the fate of the Known potentially hanging in the balance.

 

Blood Bounty (Charmslinger Book 1) by Liza Street

Official Blurb: Gracie Boswell's got a charmed bullet, a brand new posse, and a pack of outlaw vampires to kill.

The tiny town of Penance has a big vampire problem—and charmslinger Gracie Boswell aims to be the solution. A whole nest of vampires makes for a mighty fine bounty, though, and Gracie is far from the only charmslinger angling for the job. When a charming local layabout and an old competitor elbow their way into Gracie's posse, she's forced to at least pretend to play nice...but trust is scarce in the west, and smart bounty hunters always sleep with one eye open.

But Gracie doesn't have much time to watch her fellow bounty hunters—Penance's vampire nest is bigger and more organized than anyone suspected, and there's at least one traitor in the town's midst. Soon, Gracie finds herself in the unenviable position of leaning on her posse...and at least one of them isn't what he claims to be.

 

A Handful Of Souls (The Split Sea) by Stephen Rice

Official Blurb: Mud, gold and lies. That’s all you get in Branera. You’ll find no better expert on these things than Lily Kale-Tollworth. Yet she has no clue of the events already in motion around her.

WEEKS AGO, a murderer with a bleeding grin was released from the Mountain Head. Lily doesn’t know this pale-skinned giant has been writing to her. She doesn’t even know he’s coming to find her. But as her father, Husker Tollworth feels like it’s his right.

DAYS AGO, a tax patrol was slaughtered. Lily doesn’t know her brother’s corpse was pulled from a ditch, stolen by a man who can raise the dead. Lark Kale-Tollworth will follow this bizarre scholar to the Southlands. He will forget how many times he’s died.

HOURS AGO, an informant showed Lily’s stepfather an incriminating note. Branera has taxed its villages too hard. An uprising is massing in the Northlands – and they have a noose with Josef Kale’s name on it.

At this very moment, Josef is frantically packing their coach, while Lily is drinking whisky in a brothel. She’s met the arrogant idiot who will be their guide south. She doesn’t know he has a hollow soul, filled with thousands of spirits. She doesn’t know his mouth is filled with as many lies.

But if there are three things Lily’s good at, it’s mud, gold and lies.

 

Shadows of Ivory (The Godforged Chronicles Book 1) by T L Greylock  (Author), Bryce O'Conner

Official Blurb: I burned cities and drowned mountains. I pulled stars from the night sky and scorched the world with their flames. I am the Fisher King, and the grave does not bind me.

An academic with a taste for adventure, Eska de Caraval has means and influence, wit and charm... and a knack for acquiring artifacts that may not be hers to claim.

But when Eska comes into possession of a strange disc of rune-carved bronze, she finds herself abruptly hunted by all manner of adversaries: an assassin in the shadows, a monster in the deep, a bitter rival burning with vengeance.

From sword and fang and flame Eska must defend herself, struggling all the while to unravel the mysteries of a dangerous artifact. An artifact so powerful, a dead tyrant will rise again to wield it.

 

The Broken Heart of Arelium (War of the Twelve Book 1) by Alex Robins

Official Blurb: Some Things Must Never Be Forgotten.

Over 400 years ago, twelve great warriors united the beleaguered armies of men and scoured the war-torn lands of evil, pushing the enemy back into the underground pits and caverns from whence they came. To ensure their legacy, each of the Twelve founded fortress monasteries to impart their unique knowledge of war and politics to a select few, the Knights of the Twelve.

But now the last of the Twelve have long since passed from history to legend and the Knights, their numbers dwindling, are harbouring a dark and terrible secret that must be protected at all costs.

Merad Reed has spent half his life guarding a great crater known as the Pit, yearning for some escape from the bleak monotony. Then the arrival of Aldarin, one of the few remaining Knights of the Twelve, sets off a chain of cataclysmic events that will change Reed forever.

To the north, Jelaïa del Arelium, heiress to the richest of the nine Baronies, must learn to navigate the swirling political currents of her father’s court if she hopes one day to take his place. But the flickering flames of ambition hide the shadow of an even greater threat.

And deep within the earth, something is stirring.

 

A Game for Gods (The Godgame, Book 1) by Keith Deininger

Official Blurb: A war is brewing, the Godgame has begun...

Some say the world of Meridian is in its last age of existence. The Flood is coming, an event that will wipe the planet clean of corruption. But for humanity, there are more immediate troubles. A war is brewing between the decadent and industrial City of Talos and the rural territory of Nova.

When twelve-year-old Ash Alexander is recruited by the Novan militia, his life—and the life of each member of his family—is thrown into chaos, into a war far deadlier than anyone could have predicted.

While Ash’s sanity is tested against the horrors of war; a woman seeks to uncover the mysteries of the School of the Unseen in her lifelong quest to travel the world; a man will do anything to cure his wife of a horrible sickness; and the chief adviser to the ruler of Talos will align himself with grotesque and otherworldly beings in order to achieve his ambitions.

The Godgame has begun.

 

Red Harvest Moon (The Wandering Knife Book 1) by Miles Hurt

Official Blurb: The tables for the harvest feast are set. And the ghuls of Urizan are coming, uninvited.

Led by the colossus Krond, the flesh-eating ghuls are ready to blaze and burn across the lands of Soren. The village of Puttle lies in their path, where they will bring fire and death.

The Black Feather is an outlaw, an outcast, a Wandering Knife. But he is the only hope the villagers have in this dark hour. Bandit turned protector, the Black Feather is hired by the villagers to take up his sword against the marauders.

Krond seeks the Black Feather. The ghuls are hungry. And the harvest moon will shine red.

 

Last Sword in the West by Ryan Kirk

Official Blurb: Never bring a gun to a sword fight

Years after the conclusion of a civil war, Tomas wanders the endless grasslands of the frontier, still searching for an elusive peace. He dreams of finding a quiet place, far beyond the ever-expanding reach of civilization, where he can sheath his sword for good.

But he can't look the other way when he passes through a town caught in a duel between two powerful organizations. The graveyard outside of town is full, and innocents hide in their homes, hoping to survive the coming battle.


Before long, Tomas is caught within the web of the escalating conflict, a lone swordsman standing against two violent forces that seek to control the town and the unnatural power it contains. He quickly appears destined to join countless others in their unmarked graves.

But Tomas has a secret, too. And it would be a mistake to underestimate him.

His war isn't over yet.

 

Quantum Cultivation: A Xianxia / Cyberpunk Standalone Novel by Jace Kang

Official Blurb: Like all Purebred with their menial jobs, Ken ekes out a living sweeping the floors of Kyoto Peacekeeping Central. His kind serve as a benchmark for XHumans to measure how far they’ve progressed, and a reminder of what homo sapiens once was.

His life changes when eight-hundred-year-old Ryu crosses over from the World of Rivers and Lakes, looking for a lost temple; and Aya, a beautiful hacker whose Sensory Interface perceives the EtherCloud as Feudal Japan, learns that XHumans aren’t as perfect as they thought.

They’ve edited out the genes which allow for Cultivation. That will give Ken a chance to surpass them.

And maybe use mythical martial skills to save the world from an oppressive government, spirit beasts, and alien invaders.

 

NACL: Eye of the Storm by Allegra Pescatore & E. Sands

Official Blurb: Lani should never have trusted any plan that started with the words, "So, I have an idea, but first you need a drink."

When a crazy Precog handed Lani the coordinates to a stretch of ocean just off the Salt Spire, she should have thrown them overboard. Going there would be a horrible idea. Lani, though, was a pro at making bad decisions.

A not-so-chance encounter with escaped salt slave Adavera launches them on a path to forsake all that they know and dare to take on the cruel Corporation that controls every grain of salt on their planet. With the help of old friends, new friends, and people they are pretty sure might be enemies, Adavera and Lani travel outside the protective reef that keeps the worst of the Storms off the Islands and venture into a world of piracy, astonishing powers, and unexpected love.

The odds might be against them, but with a little planning and a lot of brass, this team of misfits intends to do the impossible. They have very little in common, except for two things: 

They all want to blow the Crystal Corporation into oblivion... 

And are willing to sacrifice anything to see it done.

 

Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion Book 1) by Krystle Matar

Official Blurb: Follow the law and you’ll stay safe. But what if the law is wrong?

Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack. Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions.

Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her? Why was he the only one who cared?


Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?

 

Beneath a Brass Sky by Eli Steele

Official Blurb: Ulfric Halehorn is a sellsword that believes in the sanctity of the contract. He’s also rekindled an old grudge, incited a riot, and landed himself in jail on enough counts to see himself hung twice. In the midst of this, he somehow managed to win a lucrative contract to transport a mysterious crate across the Brasslands to Kush.

He’d be better off if he hadn’t.

Days into the journey, Ulfric learns that the job is more than it seems, and that he carries with him the spark that may touch off a revolution that could burn across a city, and perhaps an entire region. Knowing this, Ulfric sees a chance to atone for breaking another contract nearly a decade ago — one that cost another city its freedom and its people their lives; an act that still haunts him to this day.

But the Brasslands is a vast land, filled with fugitives, and wild beasts, and nameless things that lurk in the low dark. In those wastes also rides another — one charged with snuffing out the same revolution that Ulfric aims to set afire. And as these rivals drive towards their opposing goals, a storm of steel and blood is building on a bleak horizon.

 

College of Shadows (Cambridge Gothic Book 1) by Mark Wells

Official Blurb: Cambridge is home to the brightest minds… and the deadliest monsters. Can Nick and Annabel banish the beast before freshman year becomes their last?

Newly arrived Nick feels out of place at university. The hallowed halls of Cambridge seem impossibly huge and far beyond the mining town of his youth. But Nick has much more than fitting in to fear when he's attacked by a creature straight out of his worst nightmares…

Emotionally scarred by the sudden death of her parents, Annabel buries her feelings deep in her studies. But when her new friends nearly fall prey to a monstrous beast that shouldn't exist, she's terrified that her bad luck could bring their demise.

As Nick and Annabel plan to trap the creature, they stumble upon a long-held Cambridge secret. And the otherworldly truth is less pass-fail than do-or-die.

 

Wolfeater by Anthony Mitchell

Official Blurb: Found as a child by the war-hungry tribe of the Grey Crow, Radok has forged himself a legend as the mighty Wolfeater; a warrior feared by all. Yet even legends can die, and when he finds himself inflicted with a fatal disease, Radok sets out on a quest to face his gods and ask them the one question only gods can answer: what was the meaning of it all?

With him goes Nyana, the blind eight-year-old girl long held in his care, who has her own question for the gods: what next?

They are hunted by friends and enemies alike, some desperate to preserve the natural balance of things, others hungry for revenge. Against them are set a pack of savage cannibals, a blood-thirsty monster, and the servant of a raging god.

But if the pair can do the impossible, if they can touch the Blackstone, it could change the destiny of their people… and with it, the fate of the world.

 

Old Cold Cannibal by Todd Maternowski

Official Blurb: 1849. Two men —professional con artists on the run— cross the dangerous deserts and plains of Texas and New Mexico, on a quest to find and slay a Dragon that has laid waste to the countryside.

 

The Dividing: The Adamic Trilogy Book 1 by Devin Downing

Official Blurb: Adamic is the language of the Gods. When spoken, it has the power to create worlds, to raise the dead, to make man as God. Fortunately, no one has spoken it in thousands of years. The only remnants are the written spells.

The people of Cavernum depend on these spells. They’re etched into the city walls, fending off the feeders—deadly creatures with a thirst for human blood. They kill and consume any caught beyond the walls. Yet for the lower class, Cavernum isn’t much safer. Children starve, and illness runs rampant. In an effort to maintain order, all children turning 18 are subject to The Dividing—a city-wide competition for the highest paying guilds. Those who aren’t accepted are sent to the fields, condemned to a life of slave-labor.

Princess Roselyn Malik has trained her entire life for The Dividing. She’s guaranteed a spot in the royal orchestra, but equalist rebels threaten her throne. To secure her crown, Rose must acquire the power and prestige associated with the guard. Only guardsmen have access to the amulets—powerful weapons that grant dominion over the elements.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Matt will do anything to help his terminally-ill adoptive mother. For now, that means poaching to pay the bills. Until one day, Matt is attacked by a feeder and plunged into the world of Cavernum. There too, Matt is drawn to the guard, in search of a magic strong enough to save his mother.

But danger lurks beyond the walls, and Cavernum won’t be safe for long.

 

THE TRYPHON ODYSSEY (The Voyage Book 1) by S.D. Howarth

Official Blurb: The world of Sanctuary is not a kind place. Many races have fled there across the ages. Fewer still have survived and flourished—or survived. Humankind is the most recent to seek refuge, and the most cataclysmic. Since their arrival within the city-state of Atlantis, the embassies and tribes of man have formed new nations across several continents. Their misuse of magic in a prior age turned the seas acidic and drove their ancient Gods mad. The great contradiction of the current age is that it is only with magic that sailing ships like warship Tryphon criss-cross the oceans to protect trade routes.

Navigator Edouard Van Reiver departs from shipboard routine and petty politics when he stops Tryphon against age-old superstitions to rescue two survivors, inviting aboard blood, fire and death. Sunjammer Gabriel Dagmar squanders his precocious talents through daily tedium to hide from the more terrifying depths of magic.
Lady Carla's escort mission is in tatters, and needing rescue from the acidic sea is the least of several concerns. Coxswain Grimm will need every one of his decades of experience to keep the Tryphon men alive, the officers on course, and quell the threat within spilling over.

No good deed goes unpunished. Events require they assume new roles to fight an unknown assailant, as their anti-pirate patrol mission veers into the unknown. They will need skill, luck, or a hint that the Gods of Sanctuary still exist to rebalance the scales of a power play that could tear asunder the fragile balance the World of Sanctuary teeters upon. Can they hold the line and do their duty, or fail and doom their Spires Kingdom?

 

Demons, Ink by Clayton Snyder

Official Blurb: Jack Nyx is down on his luck. Demons bound to his flesh, his ex's soul in a jar, and on his last dime, he takes the one job he shouldn’t.

But a quick buck never comes easy, and Jack is in the deep end of the fecal pool. Desperate, he enlists the help of street witch, Ivy Sosye.

In over their heads, trapped between the demons they know and the devil they don't, the last thing Jack needs is to fall for his best friend.

Hunted, cursed, and in love is no way to go through life. Then again, it's better than dead.

 

The Gifts of Pandora (Tapestry of Fate Book 1) by Matt Larkin

Official Blurb: The winding road of fate unfolds …

In the last days of the Silver Age, the tyrant god Zeus takes whatever and whomever he wants with impunity. He has already torn Pandora from one home and now he threatens to destroy another. When he turns his wrath upon Atlantis, Pandora flees with the Titan Prometheus.

Despite her bitterness, Pandora finds a friendship she never imagined possible. But Zeus is not done with Prometheus, and what Pandora will face next will make all she has endured pale in comparison.

But Pandora has considerable gifts of her own, not least her cunning mind. When Zeus binds Prometheus, Pandora swears to turn all those gifts toward bringing Zeus down and saving her one true companion.

 

In the Jaded Grove by Anela Deen

Official Blurb: Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.

Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.

With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.


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