Blog Archive

View My Stats
Thursday, July 14, 2022

SPFBO 8: The Third Batch (Michael's Batch)

This is my third year involved in the SPFBO, though my first on this side of things. Like everyone, I have my likes and dislikes. The reality is some genres are going to be a hard sell with me. That said, I will do my best to approach each book with an open mind. I’m happy to be surprised. I am, however, a writer and not a reviewer. I can’t turn that part of my brain off. So…sorry.

Knowing the effort and care writers put into their books, cutting them from the competition is harder than I expected. There is, alas, no easy way to do this. So, prepare to have some bandages rudely torn away.

Please remember that what follows is my opinion and nothing more. Lots of people love books that I hate and hate books that I love. Just because a book isn’t for me doesn’t make it a bad book.



YA Action & Adventure, 364 pages


This was the first book in my batch, and I read it from beginning to end. That’s a rarity. I am brutal for dropping books. I have stacks of paperbacks I’ve purchased and dropped for one reason or another.

Back to the book. The prose was smooth and easy to read. Not overly flowery, it never got in the way of the story. I did notice the word eyes was used a lot. The main character spent quite a bit of time looking at and mentioning the eyes of other characters, particularly the two love-interest males. My e-reader said eyes was used 313 times in what was a fairly short book.

The story side is where the book didn’t work for me. Characters wander from one place to another without much happening and spend a lot of time sitting around talking. At heart, this is a story about a girl with magic powers who (for reasons that didn’t make much sense considering how often she used her magic) didn’t believe she had magic, and who had to choose between two handsome boys with nice eyes.

I found this to be a well-told story that suffered a few pacing issues and didn’t do anything new or surprising.

If you’re a fan of romantic fantasy, you should check it out.



Military Fantasy, 605 pages


When I first dove into the book, I discovered some beautiful prose. Unfortunately, the author pushed it too far for my tastes. Some attempts fell flat while others rendered sentences near meaningless.

The book could use another editing pass with an eye for consistency. There were too many ellipses and em dashes, and the type of em dash changed back and forth between the two standards. Far too many words were italicized for emphasis to the point where it ceased to mean anything. Sometimes I didn’t understand why a word had been italicized.

The formatting of the file was also rough. There were page numbers appearing in the middle of paragraphs and many paragraphs were split mid sentence. I just checked, and the sample on Amazon looks better, so this is a conversion issue.

I know, crazy picky, but that’s what you get.


THE 13TH ZODIAC – L. Krauch

Romantic / Myths & Legends, 407 pages


Running from his past finally catches up to Jase Raion, an ex-member of the Ashen Guard and the Crown Prince of Chall. After settling on the island of Aria, he receives an unexpected contract: The lost princess of Aria was discovered living in the port town of Brighton, on the outskirts of the island Kingdom.

A trip to the markets in Brighton ends abruptly as Liya Fairaway stumbles into Jase. She vanishes in the busy marketplace when Jase realizes who she is, the lost princess of Aria and the bearer of the 13th Zodiac: Eternity. And his target.

Something ancient pulls them together, a bond that neither can deny. Reluctantly at first, Jase joins Liya and the other Zodiac to end the threat of Soren Raion, the King of Chall.

Time is not on their side, and Fate has other plans.


Unfortunately, this book didn’t work for me. I read about 30% before setting it aside.

If you’re a fan of slow-burn fantasy romance stories, check it out.



No categories added on Amazon


This was another DNF. The author failed to establish any kind of recognizable POV, head hopping at random, occasionally pausing the story to describe characters—physically and otherwise—in detail. The book could also use another editing pass.

“The punctuation around dialogue tags was often used incorrectly,” he sat at his desk typing.

Nothing hooked me enough to keep reading past the first couple chapters.

HARD SKIP – Marcus Abshire

Dark Fantasy, 285 pages


A solidly written demonic bounty hunter story, unfortunately, it didn’t click for me. 


Gaslamp / Historical Fantasy, 625 pages


I’d call this Gaslamp fantasy. Not my usual genre, but the story pulled me in. This was the slickest and most interesting of the books in my batch. The prose was polished, the characters well-written, the scenes easily imagined, and there was some fantastic banter, which isn’t easy to pull off well. The dialogue and humour, as befitting the world, was dry and fit perfectly.

Where this story fell apart was in the Point of View. Sometimes it was omniscient (which fit the era the story takes place in), but then it wandered between loose third (where internal thoughts were told) to tight third (internal thoughts in italics so you know exactly what they’re thinking). The book also head-hopped, jumping from the thoughts/POV of one character to another. This is fine in an omniscient story but jarring pretty much anywhere else. Purely personal taste, but for me the book would have been stronger written in one POV style.

Because I did enjoy the story, I passed the book to one of the other FBC judges just in case I was being crazy. Surprisingly, I was not. He too found the head-hopping to be too much.

If you’re a fan of Gaslamp fantasy, well-written characters, and quick banter, grab this book.


In conclusion, while I enjoyed a couple of the books in my batch none of them moved me enough to send them forward as semi-finalists. As I mentioned earlier, all this is purely subjective. You may well love some of these books and I urge you to give any a try that look interesting.







Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE