Well, here it is. The last round of mini reviews for the SPFBO 2017. Thanks to everyone who stuck with me throughout health drama, and surgeries, and all this life that keeps happening.
Now, we only have about five or six weeks of this phase of the contest and I really, really want to try something different. Usually I just list all of my round finalists and then I decide which one I like the most and say that it’s the winner. This time, I want to write full book reviews for each of the finalists, and then when I’m done with those reviews, tell all of you fine people which one was the overall winner.
This will take time, and it’s also requiring me to re-read each of the finalist books. I’ve already started, and unless life happens, I should be able to get it done. While I realize that everyone wants to know who the overall winner is, I also think that a big part of this contest is the publicity that authors get from it, and one of the ways that all of these finalists can win, and get the most out of their semi-finalist position, is if I give them as much publicity as I can. Therefore, I’m going to be throwing up full sized book reviews of each of the semi-finalists. I’ll try to plow through them as quickly as possible, but expect a few weeks before you learn who my overall winner is.
And, now on to this final group of SPFBO contestants.
Ginny O – The Lone Prospect
Buy the book
This book is action-packed, and rather gritty. If you want to read a book that starts with a bang (kind of literally), then this might be your bag. This book is about a motorcycle club with a supernatural bend. Things aren’t all what they seem, and soon Gideon and his crew find themselves in a situation that is more than any of them expected, with far-reaching implications. I really enjoyed Ginny’s relentless storytelling ability here. She doesn’t pull any punches and really pounded the plot down my throat. That sounds bad, but I love a book that is what it is with no apologies. It’s fast paced, and easy to sink into. If I have some complaints, it’s regarding editing. There were some oddly worded sentence, some of the pacing was off, and some of the grammar made my eyes twitch. Other than that, this was a surprising book that packed a punch.
Marie Andreas – The Glass Gargoyle
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The Glass Gargoyle is one of those really fun books that you want to read on a rainy afternoon where you need a vacation from yourself. Seriously, just curl up with a mug of tea, and sit back and put yourself on pause. This book doesn’t require a lot of thought. It’s easy to sit back and just enjoy the book for what it is. It’s an adventure, and a sort of love letter to fantasy. The plot is pretty fast-paced, and some of the book falls into tropey territory, but that’s okay. The characters are lovingly crafted, and the world is created with some good details. The book is a lot of fun. Could it have used better editing? Yes. Some parts of the plot felt a little long-winded to me, and could have been cut down while others could have been expanded upon. Some of the grammar and sentences were awkward. There were some leaps of logic that left me puzzled. Despite that, this book was a lot of fun, and recommended for those times when you just need to sit back and enjoy something.
Award: Most Passion and Heart
Gemma Perfect – The Kingmaker
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This is one of those books that will either work for you or it won’t. On the one hand, readers are introduced to this dark world where a young girl knows she’s about to die basically for the greater good. This interests me. I enjoy darker themes, and people who are willing to explore the emotional turmoil that often comes with them. On the other hand, I just had a really, really hard time believing any of it. The main character, the one fated for her death is so very placid, but she’s got this will to survive, and that juxtaposition is basically the factor that the plot hangs on and I just didn’t buy it. She was too placid to have such a will to survive. The story is told through various points of view, varying from first to third person and it felt really disjointed. There were grammatical errors and oddly phrased sentences which didn’t help matters, and the dialogue in some parts was unbelievably presented. Now, it might seem like I’m poo-pooing this book, and I guess I kind of am, but I did really enjoy the premise. I loved the setup, and I think the idea has merit. I just think it needs more editing to bring all the different parts of the idea together into a more cohesive whole.
The Ghost Magnet – James Beach
I got this file as a .doc, and this has happened to me once before. I never notice it until I’m right on it. The email I got said the book was to be published around July 1, but after spending way too much time looking all over the internet, I can’t find it anywhere. Therefore, I’m going to use my judge’s power to say a little something about the book but not rate it. As far as I can see, this contest should be for published books (published, being the second word of the contest title), but since I didn’t notice this document right away, it’s my bad and the author deserves to have something said.
That being said, I am not perfect and I do make mistakes. If this book does exist in a published form somewhere, I’ll link to it’s page, add a cover, slap on a rating and etc. In it’s .doc incarnation, I will say something about it and then move on.
The Ghost Magnet takes place in St. Petersburg. It’s a gritty setting and some wham-bam writing that instantly pulled me in. I loved the style of prose, and the fact that the author seems to know how to pace things and how to pull readers in. It’s quickly apparent that the author knows how to work the atmosphere, and lead readers to certain conclusions while other things are actually happening. It’s short and sweet with very little dallying around. The editing looks good, by and large, and while I do think some parts went on a little long while I would have liked a few more details and a little elaboration in other parts, it’s a solid effort.
Elena Bryce – Guardian of the Grail
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It takes a lot (a whole lot) for me to want to read anything involving vampires these days. However, this one might be worth your time if you’re into this type of thing. I really enjoyed Bryce’s unique spin on mythology and her ability to take some tropes, and solidly turn them into her own thing. Hats of for that. There’s some Arthurian mythology, Christian mythology, a twist on vampire lore, and all of that is in 220+ pages. If it isn’t obvious from the cover, this book does involve romance, and the romantic element is pretty obvious as soon as it is introduced. Some of the dialogue is stilted, and if I really had to say anything negative about the book, it’s the fact that this book is going to be fighting against a tide of people who are sick of vampires, and it’s going to have a hard time due to that. That’s not the author’s fault in the least, but it’s market saturation and the way things go. Regardless, this is short and sweet, a nice romance and happily-ever-after for those of you looking into that sort of thing, and I really enjoyed the author’s ability to take tropes and mythology and weave them into a fun story in her own way.
Award: Best Spin on Tropes and Mythology
Kit Abbey – All The Things You Have To Burn
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The idea of this book is wonderful. I also really liked the cover art. However, the editing was…. It really made it hard for me to read the book or enjoy it. There were a lot of typos, a lot of grammar errors, and some aspects of the plot that could have done with chopping and streamlining. I can see that there is a gem here, but I had a hell of a time taking off my editing hat and just reading the story. I hate saying that, and I feel like a real jerk for doing so, but there it is. This book is written with passion. The idea is fantastic, and there’s plenty of love here, but I had a really hard time seeing the forest for the trees. Basically this is a case of great idea, execution needs work.
Award: Great Idea
Guys, this last chunk of books had a lot for me to love. Lots of great books and passion here, but I am going to harken back unto the rules I made when this SPFBO contest started where I said that if a group had more than one worthy finalist, I’d let them both be finalists, however if a group does not have a book that I feel stacks up, they will not have a finalist.
Ultimately, I fall into that second part of the rule here. Great books, all worth reading and checking out, but fundamentally I feel like they don’t hold up to quality I look for in round finalists.