My SPFBO Reviews


Pilgrim Of The Storm is a story of otherness, lost identity and a journey to find answers. It starts slow, but gets interesting as the world unfolds and character relationships develop. Pilgrim Of The Storm is a rather short book compared to the massive fantasy tomes I have been reading lately, it is just 200 pages but a nice read.

Sidge is the lone bugman, an insectoid humans look down on, adopted and raised by his human master at the Stormblade Temple. The whole story has a melancholy undertone stemming from this theme. Poor Sidge is treated terribly by most people, his race is considered inferior and bestial, he knows nothing of his heritage and bloodline, and he goes on the arduous pilgrimage journey with his semi absent-minded master Izhar. A good part of the book takes place on the road, where Sidge and his master join the pilgrimage caravan headed to the Stronghold. Sidge discovers mysteries and finds more questions as he finds some answers along the way.

The story is overall decent, but has a few rough edges, especially in the beginning chapters. The pilgrimage journey is slow-paced for the most part, nothing much happens except for a few scary moments, the encounter with a troll and Sidge’s spiritual vision. The most interesting character of the whole story is introduced in the earlier part of the journey: Mistress Kaaliya, a street-wise woman who has a big mouth and a colorful personality.

Full review: http://booknest.eu/component/k2/spfbo/780-pilgrimofthestorm

Kindling features interesting main characters and great action scenes, especially in the last quarter of the book. It opens with a great prison sequence which reminded me of the Elder Scrolls games. The main protagonist Zahir left a great first impression on me, as did the realistically depicted inmates. However, after the first chapter it started to fall flat due to the dire need of editing. I can overlook a flaw or two, but they piled up rather quick.

Before I talk about those, I would like to talk about the positive aspects. Zahir and Marietta are definitely interesting and complex enough, also easy to root for. Absalom and Althea, are pretty cool, even though I did not connect with them as well as Zahir and Marietta. The buildings, castles, citadels and dungeons are realistic and interesting with vivid detail. Gore and splatter is well-executed. I am no fan of gore, but it was depicted pretty good without being too repetitive. The cannibalism and savagery of the zombified pit-dwellers is one of the highlights of the book, with the drama and tension aspects neatly woven into the brutal imagery. I found the the action in the last parts of the book quite impressive with the perfect pacing and suspense elements.

Unfortunately there are also quite a few issues. First of all, there is a major Wheel of Time derivative aspect. The order of sorceresses called the Flames sound like the Aes Sedai taken over by the Black Ajah. The symbol of sorcery (flame) is pretty much the same as the Aes Sedai symbol. Men’s magic is tainted and they turn into monsters when their power reaches the pinnacle. The Flames ladies hunt down and kill the men with magic, and they use the ones with rare powers as tools until those men go berserk. This was a tad too much for me to overlook as a reader who values originality above all else.

Full review: http://booknest.eu/component/k2/spfbo/849-kindling


This is a sword and sorcery tale, with a good amount of sword and little sorcery. It has a nice action-packed opening, with our hero the farmboy Benjamin helping his village folk battle a demon attacking their village. Shortly after, a strange group shows up, featuring a stern mage lady, a blademaster, an affable rogue and a noble girl with her maid. One can see the Wheel of Time influence, but it didn’t feel derivative at all. The characters and the general atmosphere were different enough.

Benjamin sets out with this group to help take his adopted sister to the City, where she will go to the mage school.The fighting scenes, action, adventures, political intrigue, journeys, city and market scenes are top notch quality and the book is a solid page turner. One great thing about this story is, the main protagonist is just a simple brewer from some backwater village. He has no special powers, no prophecies, no magic. He is not a chosen one or savior. He listens to his mentors and learns skills with hard work and daily practices. This was quite inspirational stuff, no special powers coming out of thin air, but with disciplined work and dedication. I really liked this about the story.

Ben is likeable enough, but my favorite characters overall were Rhys, the mercenary rogue, and Renfro, the little thief friend of Ben. However, as fun as it was to read, Benjamin Ashwood has quite a few issues.

Full review: http://booknest.eu/component/k2/spfbo/898-benjaminashwood

The White Tower is a big book at a whopping 624 pages, but it is a page turner in enough parts.It is a sprawling epic fantasy tale with a huge character cast and diverse settings. It starts as a typical run of the mill epic fantasy, which I didn’t mind at all cause everything I love about epic fantasy was there. The White Tower features a lot of Point of View characters, but the plots are centered around four of them. These are Ty, the fae-bred youth who seems to be some kind of chosen one, Ayrion the Guardian Protector, the heroic warrior figure, the magic wielding smith Ferrin, and the villain Valtor who is a dark magician hell bent on summoning the long-banished dark lord figure. Ty’s point of view scenes have a whimsical quality; I particularly loved the magic displays and the interesting secondary characters there.

Ferrin’s and Ty’s parts were among my favorites as well as Ayrion’s excursions and rather interesting battle scenes with a bit of a magic twist. The action scenes are impressive and the character perspectives get interesting as you progress through the story. Poor quarter and thieves’ guild parts were excellent. Another positive aspect is the presence of amazing female characters. These being said, the White Tower has several serious issues.

Full review: http://booknest.eu/component/k2/spfbo/942-whitetower

As severely underrated as it is, Pilgrimage to Skara is a highly engaging and entertaining flintlock fantasy tale.

This is the last book in my SPFBO batch, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much since I had two strong books which got high praise from the other folks. After checking its Goodreads profile, my expectations dipped further since it has only one rating, one review, and a cover that is far from attractive.

However, this book grabbed me from page one and I ended up turning the pages at the airport with 4 hours of sleep, during the flights and in whatever free time I could find during my extremely busy work travel schedule. I haven’t been so surprised by an indie book before.

Full review: http://booknest.eu/component/k2/spfbo/959-pilgrimageskara

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Utilizing Google Plus To Promote Your Books and Blogs

Today I am going to share one of my book promo tricks: The Google Plus communities allowing blatant self promotion. I have compiled the following list a few months ago. Those allow promoting your own books and blog links. For authors, it works best if you have a discount deal going on. I have seen significant rank boosts on self pub titles after promoting in those groups. This will not only benefit the indies but tradpub authors, bloggers and reviewers too.

My advice is don’t just copy paste the link and blurb, but write up a short summary info to draw the interest of potential readers, make it sincere and add the link in the end. They will read the official blurb in the preview and when they click the link.

Some of the groups have specific sections for the type of posts (book links, blogs, author infos etc) on the left menu list, make sure to read & respect their rules and post in the appropriate section.

I hope this will help some struggling authors and bloggers out there.

Writers, Authors, Bloggers 35,089 members

Google Plus Book Club 37,003 members

Kindle & eBook Writers And Reviewers 6,895 members

Authors – Blatant Promo 4 Writers, Blogs! 6,829 members

Support-a-Writer 6,085 members

Readers Meet Authors And Bloggers 6,740 members

Promote Your Book! 9,999 members

Love 2 Read 1,542 members

Kindle Ebook Promoter 2,568 members

Indie Authors & Readers 7,233 members

Indie Readers & Writers 10,335 members

Self promotion for Authors 4,457 members

Book Bloggers, Book Worms and Book Reviewers 3,623 members

Books, Blogs & Give-Aways 4,495 members

Writers’ Corner 32,226 members

Books – The Passion for Reading 6,010 members

Book Reviews 10,500 members

Book Club 19,951 members

Book Publicity 3,329 members

Writers of Google+ 7,348 members

Book Reviewers 13,274 members

NOTE: Removed one of the groups since I am informed it no longer allows book promotions and intended for discussions only.

Book Review: Miss Mabel’s School For Girls by Katie Cross

Miss Mabel's School For Girls

Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Network Series
Author Info: http://kcrosswriting.com

I have discovered this book randomly through a Facebook group. The cover was beautifully done (I know, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it really made me curious about the book!) so I went on Amazon and read the free sample -which was very promising- and I ended up buying the book.

The story is set in a witchcraft school for girls, but it’s not a Harry Potter clone at all. Katie Cross has done in depth, extensive research about the Wiccan community and culture, so the story is extremely realistic despite the fairy tale-like atmosphere and the whimsical magic. The strong female characters are quite impressively done, including the antagonist. The main character, Bianca Monroe is a teenage girl who is struggling with a terrible curse cast on her family while she’s dealing with various issues she faces at the school. She is very strong willed and doesn’t accept her fate as it is, so she chooses to fight on while her best friends Camille and Leda support her through many ordeals. I think Camille represents the heart and emotions while Leda represents logic and wisdom here. They are both very likable and realistic. There is an aura of mystery surrounding Leda, I hope I get to learn more about her in the second book.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, so it’s as far away from cliche and predictable as possible. I was quite impressed with the originality, the characters, the intriguing mysteries and plot twists. This is the first self published indie book I have read and I must admit I didn’t expect much in the beginning, but it turned out to be an amazing read. The best part about it is that it’s very inspirational for young people, emphasizing confidence, determination and inner strength while engaging the reader in a great story.

If you like magic, YA fantasy and inspirational stories, this book is definitely for you.

Rating: 4.5/5 Roman Solidus

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