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Thursday, June 2, 2022

Spotlight: SPFBO 8 (2022) Intriguing Titles Part II


Continuing from yesterday, here is part II of the SPFBO 2022 Intriguing Titles (in random order). We would like to reiterate that these lists (both parts) are in no way an indicator of our choices (& other judges’ choices) going forward in the contest. However, these simply lists titles that we (at FBC) are INTRIGUED by and WOULD like to read (time & fate permitting).

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: A thousand years ago the Heart of the World was shattered, its fragments scattered across the lands.
In the chaos that followed, martial orders arose to gather the shards, for it was found that great powers were granted when these pieces were bonded to the flesh of the chosen. These are the Sharded Few, warriors imbued with the divine energies that once coursed through the Heart, driven to absorb enough fragments to claim godhood.
Deryn has known nothing in his life except suffering. Orphaned at the edge of the realms, indentured to a cruel slaver, he has little hope of escaping his circumstances. But elsewhere, ancient powers are stirring, new alliances threaten the peace of the old order, and against all odds, Deryn will find himself a player in a game unlike anything he could have imagined. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: For Roy Mackey -- a recovering addict who makes his living as an unlicensed PI and occasional muscle for hire -- tracking down a dead writer's final manuscript should be a walk in the park. Too bad his client is a phony, the dead writer is a thief, and shadowy men are watching his every move. All clues lead to a canceled pulp-adventure comic, The Midnight Jury, and its mousy, reclusive author. Lucy Langenkamp is living a quiet life as an art restorer in Las Vegas; when Roy helps her escape from a crew of armed kidnappers, she's as baffled as he is.

Then one of her own characters, a flamethrower-wielding "human exterminator," steps out of the pages of her comic book and into the real world. He's intent on hunting her down, and he isn't alone. The pulp villains spawned from Lucy's childhood imagination are coming to life, searching for their long-lost author. Her most sinister creation, the Illustrated Duke, has a dark plan in motion.

This is a job for Lucy's two-fisted vigilante, the Midnight Jury. But the Jury is missing. To save the day, Lucy and Roy must descend into a noir-drenched nightmare city on a rescue mission. The walls between fiction and reality are shattered, there's wild magic in the air, and it's up to two unlikely heroes to risk it all and save the day. 

Sometimes Respect Has To Be Earned The Hard Way.
The end of an arduous apprenticeship is close at hand, and Kayden Jayta unexpectedly learns that being the favoured apprentice of a living legend is not conducive to gaining the respect she deserves. With little time left to change perceptions, simmering resentment persuades her that drastic action is required to redress the slights of her detractors. Measures that may jeopardise her induction into the Order, and endanger her life.
An overheard conversation presents Kayden with both the means and justification to pursue her objective. The key to attaining the respect she craves lies beyond the borders of the Nine Kingdoms. But the window of opportunity is small; the danger she must face, great; and the price of failure, greater still. Undeterred, she will allow nothing and no one to hinder her from the path she must walk.
The one-woman mission to a foreign land will test Kayden's abilities like never before. If she is to succeed in her dangerous manhunt, she must overcome enemies new and old before facing an adversary she maybe ill-equipped to defeat. And little does she suspect that her reckless endeavour will have unintended consequences, forcing the legendary Fay Annis to confront her infamous past.
But the trials and tribulations that lie ahead must surely be worth the risk, for only unprecedented action will permit the headstrong apprentice to step out of her master's shadow.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: In three days, Jyosh will slay the God Emperor, or die trying.

But first he must train his lightblade skills. While asleep.

Each hour of sleep equals a day in a lucid dream, plenty of time to master the essential lightblade techniques and hopefully get skilled enough to defeat the monster who enslaved him and beheaded his parents and sister.

When Jyosh awakens to learn that the God Emperor has surrendered to an even crueler foe, a mysterious lightblade master who can summon divine dragons to burn whole cities, he’ll face a trial by fire against forces far more frightening than he could ever dream.

That is, if he’s not still in one. But first he must train his lightblade skills. While asleep.
Each hour of sleep equals a day in a lucid dream, plenty of time to master the essential lightblade techniques and hopefully get skilled enough to defeat the monster who enslaved him and beheaded his parents and sister.
When Jyosh awakens to learn that the God Emperor has surrendered to an even crueler foe, a mysterious lightblade master who can summon divine dragons to burn whole cities, he’ll face a trial by fire against forces far more frightening than he could ever dream.
That is, if he’s not still in one.
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The law failed him. The demon won’t.
Charlie Haynes is an ageing ex-detective, working unsolved cases. Obsessed with cleanliness and order, Charlie is a loner who trades on his experience of grisly crimes, and struggles to maintain a relationship with his adult daughter.
When three teenagers are murdered in a public cemetery, the ritualistic killings show similarities to one of Charlie’s old investigations: a savage serial killer who targeted the members of a notorious Traveller family, the Boswells.
Charlie is called in to speak to the one surviving witness, whose terrifying testimony confirms his fear: the Caravan Cannibal is back, roused by the reappearance of an ancient dagger that has haunted Charlie throughout his career.
As Charlie realises he has a personal connection to the killer, he must confront his own demons to protect the last remaining Boswells, Ciara, and her young daughter, Addy, and free an innocent from the grip of an insatiable evil.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Diana, the Roman Goddess of the hunt, lives alone on the far edge of the Roman Empire. When an old friend arrives looking for help, Diana finds herself thrust back into her old life, and old problems.

With innocent lives caught in the crossfire, Diana realizes that the only way to ensure the safety of her friends and loved ones is to do what she does best: hunt her enemies down.
With innocent lives caught in the crossfire, Diana realizes that the only way to ensure the safety of her friends and loved ones is to do what she does best: hunt her enemies down.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Ever since he was a kid, all Balt Vana wanted was to be a world-renowned Jekua Summoner like his grandmother, battling other Summoners in front of audiences of thousands. But from where he stands now, living up to the Vana name feels impossible.
When his best friend Alani, an initiate at the local Church, is sent on a pilgrimage to find her path in life and the god she will follow, Balt sees the perfect opportunity to launch his career by escorting her across the archipelago and its purple seas. The islands are filled with monsters to imprint and Summoners to battle, with every victory bringing him one step closer to his dream.
It will take more than just his family name to reach the same heights as his grandmother, but Balt won't stop until he does.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: After a supernatural and unforeseen calamity shatters the tentative alliance of the five realms, the Deseran Dominion has returned to take back their homeland and restore their oppressive regime.
As the Dominion readies their troops for invasion, the fate of the entire world rests in the hands of a fugitive scientist, a powerful pacifist, and an unseasoned prince with little to guide them but their own ideals. With the freedom of a kingdom at risk, each must find their place in a world torn asunder.
The Seventh Cadence is a sweeping high fantasy epic of war, found family, and reckoning with fate.
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Cedain is destined to collapse.
Across a world rife with blood, betrayal, and brutality, five people wade through unexpected tragedies.
An egotistical student, a fleeing refugee, a nomadic warrior, a fallen noble, and a criminal in hiding navigate the sinister dealings of politicians, two sudden wars, and nefarious lies that surface at Ashmount—a university dedicated to teaching the five branches of magic.
Survival means adapting or dying.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: As far as Harriette Cooke is concerned, a little lie or two never hurt anyone.

A down-on-her-luck scribe and the sole provider for her family, she struggles to get by in a city that turns a blind eye to the poor. Her finances are squeezed to the breaking point when she stumbles across the impossible on the side of the road: a chest full of gold coins.

The fortune could completely change Harriette's life. The problem? It's a lost provincial tax payment meant for the King. Throughout the city, the search is on for the missing money, and everyone is closing in on Harriette.

On one side is the lord of the city, Count Gainsbury, and the cruel City Watch at his disposal. On the other side is the Cobbler's Guild, a band of ruthless cutthroats led by a madwoman who will stop at nothing to claim her prize. And complicating things is the arrival of Royal Inquisitor Samara Adia, an investigator sent straight from the King to put his affairs in order with the help of her infamous bodyguard, the Misfit of Kantor.

Trapped in a web of deceit, all clues lead to Harriette and her friends. If they want to get out of the city alive—and rich—they have only their wits to rely on...and perhaps a little lie or two.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Gadriel, the fallen angel of petty temptations, has a bit of a gambling debt. Fortunately, her angelic bookie is happy to let her pay off her debts by doing what she does best: All Gadriel has to do is tempt miserably sinless mortal Holly Harker to do a few nice things for herself.

What should be a cakewalk of a job soon runs into several roadblocks, however, as Miss Harker politely refuses every attempt at temptation from Gadriel the woman, Gadriel the man, and Gadriel the adorable fluffy kitten. When even chocolate fails to move Gadriel’s target, the ex-guardian angel begins to suspect she’s been conned. But Gadriel still remembers her previous job… and where petty temptations fail, small miracles might yet prevail.

Olivia Atwater explores love, grief, and the very last bit of chocolate in this sweet modern fantasy, full of wit and heart.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: When the saints fail, the sinners step up.
Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.
Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.
To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.
For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: After crashing her dogsled into the frozen river, Ts'ellbah fears something is wrong, something deeper than the inexplicable new scar over her heart. She feels like a stranger in her own skin and struggles to remember her closest friends and family. At first, her clan is relieved that she survived the accident. But on a night when red spirit lights stain the sky like blood, Ts'ellbah suffers her first violent seizure and sees a vision in which a revered elder encounters a mythical monster and dies.
When her announcement of the elder's death proves correct, many people are convinced something evil possessed her in the dark river. They believe she killed the old man and want to cast her out. Before they do, Ts'ellbah must persuade her people that their ancient enemies have indeed returned, that they are looking for something, and they'll destroy the entire clan to find it.
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB:  “My name is Stahl. I kill people. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed, either.”

Strapped in a chair, compelled to tell his tale to unknown tormentors, Stahl recounts his life in the Mire, a filth-choked slum shivering in the shadow of an ancient necropolis where the dead hunger for living flesh. He tells how secrets led to blackmail and death, how vengeance led to guilt and paranoia, and how an unholy bargain taught him that it is your enemies, not your friends, who define your life.

But in a slum where everyone lies, what kind of truth can be expected from a killer?
Strapped in a chair, compelled to tell his tale to unknown tormentors, Stahl recounts his life in the Mire, a filth-choked slum shivering in the shadow of an ancient necropolis where the dead hunger for living flesh. He tells how secrets led to blackmail and death, how vengeance led to guilt and paranoia, and how an unholy bargain taught him that it is your enemies, not your friends, who define your life.

But in a slum where everyone lies, what kind of truth can be expected from a killer?
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Sometimes adventure knocks. Other times, it kicks the door in.

"Dearest Alexandria and Ozymandias, If you are reading this, I have perished. My demise likely involved some manner of spiked pit or curiously fanged beast, so it’s doubtful I suffered long. Do not try to find me—the path is too perilous, and I am lost to the mortal plane."

When Alex and Ozzie read their grandfather’s latest “death” letter, they barely blink. Dying six times in two years has to be a record, even for an explorer as incompetent as Sir Quidby Forsythe III.
Faster than you can say “kidnapped by a giant, glowing lizard,” the Forsythe twins are dragged into a world of ancient prophecies, sarcastic swords of legend, mutant slime beasts, and a growing awareness their grandfather might be the greatest explorer in history.
With Skhaar the Annihilator hot on their trail, Ozzie and Alex must solve the mystery of Sir Quidby’s disappearance before they become the final victims of the Forsythe Curse.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: A custody hearing, an explosion, a boy on the run.
Benjamin does not know what awaits him, but he knows what he leaves behind: a burned mansion, a dead guardian and the police who think he did it.
If he stays to prove his innocence, he will not last the night. The blast summoned the unseen world. They seek the one using forbidden magic, and not to give him praise.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: A legendary gunslinger returns, bringing his mythic revolvers and a host of eldritch magic back to the Wild West.
Carter Quinn might be Tarnation’s premiere scoundrel, charlatan, and snake oil salesman, but at least each of his overpriced promises of false hope comes with a good story pegged to it. All the man claiming to be Lucas Linden offers with his lies is a brief dance at the end of a short rope.
After studying the art of the scam for decades, Quinn knows a fraud when he sees one. Sure, the legendary gunslinger’s revolvers weigh down the stranger’s belt and he’s got the folk hero’s signature smile stretched across his face, but the real Lucas Linden disappeared thirty years ago. For him to come back after so long without a single wrinkle or gray hair, he’d need a hell of a lot more than a healthy diet—he’d need the kind of magic that only exists in stories more outlandish than those of Lucas Linden himself.
The fake Lucas Linden seems harmless at first, but when he appoints himself sheriff and claims to have discovered enough gold to reanimate the dried-up mining town, the simple townsfolk fall for the con hook, line, and sinker. They feed off the fervor of the lawless, godless hangings, growing more manic by the day, and it falls on Quinn and his soft-headed sidekick, Ron Chesterfield, to stop the grinning ghost before his festering evil consumes Tarnation and spreads its black tendrils to the rest of the world.

No Land For Heroes (Legends & Legacies #1) by Cal Black 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Mildred Berry is down to her last four bullets…

In a wild west where the only things more dangerous than outlaws are dragons, Deputy Berry is struggling to protect her town and keep her family fed. As a last resort, she robs a train for ammunition only to find that the cargo she needs so badly was owned by war hero Frederic Rousseau.

The same Frederic Rousseau whom she served during the Amelior Civil War. The same Frederic Rousseau she’s been hiding from for the last five years.

Millie knows a secret that could ruin Rousseau’s life, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her from telling the truth. With her violent past bearing down on the life she’s built for herself, Millie has to decide how far she’ll be willing to go to keep her town safe. 

The Talon's Fury (The War Gryphon Saga Book 1) by Robert H. Fleming 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Glory Favors the Bold.
Martius dreams of one day joining the legendary legions of the Belgadan Empire. He seeks to enlist as only a simple foot soldier, but the twists of war have another path for him. As he's thrown into the army's air cavalry and becomes a member of the infamous gryphon riders, the empire's fearsome enemies mass on its borders.
Martius's one chance at glory is here. With the help of veteran generals and his bond with a war gryphon, can Martius find his place in the legion and claim greatness? Or will the barbarians charging towards the gates of the empire overrun and destroy all he holds dear?

The Banner of the Broken Orc (The Call of the Darkness Saga, #1) by Aiden L. Turner 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: When the Dark Lord rises blood will flow!
Prince of men, lord of light, and champion of the weak, Jacob’s immense physical strength is matched only by his great kindness. Until an animal rage awakens, and he is born anew. Reborn like a warrior of old. A hero with skill unparalleled and a god-given power.
He surrounds himself with loyal warriors, violent men with scarred faces and bloodied swords. When his true love is held prisoner by his sadistic uncle, nothing will stop his vengeance. He wades through the blood of friend and foe alike. He will murder men. He will slay orcs, goblins, and monsters far more horrific. But at the end, will he have the strength of heart to resist? Or will his actions bind him to the Darkness?

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Set in a city reminiscent of the merchant republics of Renaissance Italy, is the cut-throat tale of Augustus' rise to power. The city is controlled by great houses of immense wealth, with Augustus being a prominent member of the Castellian house.
As he comes of age, he is sent on his first expedition to new unknown shores, to earn personal fame and fortune. But he returns to ruin. His house is in disorder. With his father now dead, he is thrust into the intrigue of Venocia. He must protect himself and his new bride from assassins that seem to lurk in every dark alleyway, using his only weapon, his cold and brilliant mind. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Sometimes the reward justifies the risk.
For Sylene, the life of a bounty hunter is both perilous and exciting, providing an opportunity to travel and encounter all manner of folk.
However, when an offer too good to pass up takes her to a desert town far from civilization, outside the rule of law, she realizes things are not quite what they appear, and the situation is far worse than what she was told.
If Sylene wants to not only survive, but also complete the job, she has to rely on both old and new friends and navigate a town where just about everyone has a bounty on their head.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Kindy Sharro is used to hiding. As a Nocturan, her bat wings, claws, and night vision place her under constant threat of hunters, who cruelly slaughter her kind for sport.
But everything changes the day of the invasion. The Dorish Empire drafts the Nocturans it once persecuted to help defend against a godlike foe. Kindy enters the war, but she has an ulterior motive: Use the war to destroy her arch enemy, Charris Pouden, before he gains enough power to destroy her first.
Meanwhile, Lasía Mae'olo, an elite wolf-accompanied warrior, plots rebellion against the Dorish Empire. When she is drafted to fight for her enemies, she must find a way to subvert the war for her own purposes.
But suspicion and distrust haunts her every move. This war has many sides—and she's not sure which side she's on anymore.
The bonds of friendship will be tested. Alliances will be questioned. In a story of political intrigue, ethics of war, and young love, one question must be answered: Which side will you join?

The Witch Hunter (Battle Brothers Book 1) by Casey Hollingshead 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB:  “Everyone assumes you’re some sort of monster, Richter. The man who kills crones and slays ladies. A hunter of the helpless you are and yet, when the time comes, they find they must hire you anyway. That they both offer you crowns and do not stab you in the back requires of them an enormous sense of charity and constraint alike. It is in these trepidations and suspicions that our commerce finds common ground. You the witch hunter, myself the mercenary.”
Hated. Distrusted. Needed. Richter von Dagentear, a witch hunter known in legend as the Wight, traverses a realm falling headfirst into war. To survive, he will have to betray his profession’s purpose and undertake a task that goes against everything he believes in. All that stands in his way are backstabbing nobles, cruel sellswords, terrible beasts, and a mysterious traveler from another world.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Derwa is the last of the Natéan Watch, pledged to protect the town of Deep's End from the dangers of an ancient forest on its borders. Derwa is dedicated, coarse and tough, but worrying signs are all around.
When a strange young man walks out of the Deepwood, his naivety (and lack of clothing) are the least of her worries. Ginka trees are flowering at night, goblins are massing, and someone has cut the feet off Old Lindon’s land-wyrms.
The doom of Deep’s End is coming, and Derwa is the only one who can stop it.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Every secret has its price. When a seller of secrets is caught in a deadly conspiracy, she’ll discover how high a price she’s willing to pay to uncover the truth…

Among the unsavory streets of Oedija, Airene and her unorthodox companions scrape a living as Finches, exposing lies and scandals for a scant profit.

When Oedija’s monarch dies suspiciously, Airene sees her chance to earn more than the next meal. Though her quest might prove fruitless, she risks everything to learn the story behind his death in the hopes of making her fame and fortune.

But the ruler’s death is just the first piece of the puzzle. Magic, long forbidden, reemerges in  the face of revolution. War looms on the horizon. Ancient spirits awaken, hungry after their long slumber.

And the secrets Airene reveals threaten to consume their world...

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Welcome to Hazelhearth: our picturesque city is nestled in a tranquil corner of the empire. Fitness lovers enjoy vigorous nature walks in the surrounding forest (don’t forget your sword!) Foodies savor rich, robust walnut-based cuisine. Or visit the gnome quarter for a walk on the wild side! Local mines and orchards beckon with plentiful employment opportunities, while workers sleep safe knowing that stout city walls keep mythic monsters at bay. A select few may even be chosen for exciting quest opportunities.
The onslaught of subterranean hordes? Oh, that’s happening miles away. And the elves have it completely under control.
Inquire today at the Hazelhearth board of tourism, employment, and heroics!
How could Sam and Lee say no? Lee is bored to tears as a telegrapher. His only excitement in life is the revolutionary new board game he’s creating. And of course constant disruptions at work by Sam, whose high voltage experiments wreak havoc with nearby electric systems. These two best buddies… colleagues... acquaintances are ready to escape from 19th century America into a more exciting world!



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