Hello fellow book lovers! Phase One of SPFBO has positively flown by! How has it been five months already? New this year for The Critiquing Chemist and her Bookish Boffin (Jennie) has been our collaboration with Lynn’s Books, which has been a blast discussing our current reads and our favorites throughout.
With today kicking off the last week of SPFBO7’s Phase One, we are excited to announce our team’s semifinalists! First, some housekeeping notes before we do the big reveals. After the five semifinalists are announced today, the rest of the week will have full spoiler-filled reviews posted throughout in no particular order. Once all of the reviews are posted, we will reveal our finalist.
We are excited to share our favorite reads! Thank you again to all of the authors from our batch for sharing your literary worlds with us. At the end of this post you can find a list and links to the reviews for all of the book reviews from our batch. Without further ado, scroll down for our top five semifinalists in random order:
Check out Lynn’s Semifinalist reveal here.
Team LB=TC2’s Semifinalists
Ten Thousand Stitches by Olivia Atwater
Euphemia (Effie) Reeves, a maid, is not pleased with how things are being run at Hartfield. The staff are overworked and expected to adapt to the latest trends, all while remaining invisible. This has left tensions running high for all members of the house. To compensate, she recites nursery rhymes and finds peace in embroidering. After one particularly horrible day preparing for yet another ball hosted by the household, Effie’s spirit is broken after being shunned by her one true love. She knows that her position makes it nearly impossible for her to end up with someone of Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke’s stature, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less. While stepping outside to compose herself, she meets Lord Blackthorn, an elf. If the stories her mother told her about the Fair Folk have any truth to them, Effie knows that she must be very careful in her interactions with him. Fascinated by English virtue and moved by Effie’s plight, Lord Blackthorn insists on helping her to win Mr. Benedict’s heart. A deal is struck giving Effie one hundred days to complete the task. Effie quickly realizes that just because there’s magic involved doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy (or helpful)…
Out of the Dust by Joe Coates
In the olden days, people were connected to the land such that both were able to prosper through elemental magic known as the Empathy. Now, discord and greed are the only things flourishing, as even weak ties to the Empathy are rare and the Aska Isles are slowly dying. THe rains won’t come, making it even harder for those in the Southern Isles to survive the rampant abuse brought on by those in power in the Northern Isles. The disparity between these two areas is what drives outlaws, like the Shaws, to retaliate. Those in the Shaw gang are known for raiding the King’s cattle and attacking those in the King’s employ. Following one last job, Viggo Shaw intends to hand the reins over to his siblings, Ylva and Destin, and settle down with his expectant love, Erika. Fate has other plans, however, when an old rival, Marquis Cormac Latrell, resurfaces, seeking information on the location of an individual he believes is the key to harnessing the Empathy. The problem? The person he’s looking for is Erika’s sister. How far will Viggo go to stop Latrell and protect those he cares about most? What if those are two different things?
Check out Lynn’s review here.
Subversive by Colleen Cowley
At the age of thirteen, boys take a test to determine their magical potential, where the few who pass go on to become Wizards, a group with complete control in all areas of the government. Not only are the many being governed by the whims of the few, but women face even greater discrimination since they don’t show proficiency as magic users. Opposing such treatment, Beatrix Harper fights for equal rights for all as a member of the Women’s League for the Prohibition of Magic. Within the organization, however, there are differing opinions on the best way to achieve their goals, making the upcoming conference and election that much more important. Raised by Beatrix after the loss of their parents, Lydia’s dream is to be the national president of the Women’s League. Given the threat some of Lydia’s bold ideas pose to magiocracy, it’s hard to discern Wizard Peter Blackwell’s intentions when he returns home to become the town’s new Omnimancer (i.e., the town’s magical helper) and hires (ahem, strongarms) Beatrix to be his assistant. Considering how many mishaps keep cropping up for the Women’s League, it’s clear that someone is trying to foil their plans, but who?…
Hall of Bones by Tim Hardie
In Northern Valistria, Laskar is controlled by seven clans, a place where each decision is strategically made for the power it provides and conflicts are resolved on the battlefield. This story focuses on the second son to a clan chief in a family of warriors, during a time of change and upheaval for his clan. Rothgar embodies a stereotypical second son who is oblivious to the larger world around him as he has tunnel vision to his own desires and ambitions. His older brother, Jorik, fills the role of the heir perfectly, even achieving the warrior build that Rothgar lacks. Along with their sister Nuna, the close-knit family must respond to various challenges to their father’s throne throughout this tale, with sacrifices being made to fulfill their duties. One challenge soon rises above all others as the neighboring Vorund Clan makes unexpected and bloody raids far into the Reavesburg Clan territories, with rumored use of black magics. Will Rothgar and his family not only be able to keep their throne, but also their lives?
The Throne of Ice and Ashby J.D.L. Rosell
As the youngest child of Oakharrow’s clan chief, scholarly Bjorn struggles to find a place among his warrior brothers. His only sister, Aelthena constantly pushes against the limits society has placed on her ambition because of her gender. These two siblings are equally unhappy with their lot in life until a tragedy forces them to assume unexpected roles. In the aftermath of the destruction, still reeling from shock and grief, Althena and Bjorn struggle to identify friend from foe as an unknown enemy plots in the shadows. To maintain their family’s grasp on power, Bjorn finds himself pulled into a dangerous quest and Aelthena is granted her wildest wishes. Will they both find their way in time to realize their dreams, all while saving their family’s hold on the throne?
Check out Lynn’s review here.
- Berserker (Apocosmos #1) by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
- Deathborn by CE Page
- Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
- Stranded by Rosalind Tate
- One of Us by ML Roberts
- Stone Magus (Hidden Gems Saga #1) by Stephanie C Marks
- Book of Secrets (Merged Series #1) by Claudia Blood
- Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale
- Carrion by Alyson Tait
- Iarraindorn by Phil Dickens
- Rising Shadows (The Pillar of Creation, #1) by Phillip Blackwater
- By the Pact by Joanna Maciejewska
- Little White Hands by Mark Cushen
- Lycoris in Moonlight by Kova Killian
- Face of Glass by Damon L. Wakes
- The End of the Line by David Nelson
- Ghost Line by M.A. Poole
- Hunters by Jon Ford
- The Crown of Death by David Schratz
- Blades Falling Softly by Sarah Lin
- Orphan’s Rite by M. Warren Askins
- Squire George & The Dragon by Adam Digger Stolz
- As Fierce as Steel by Christopher Walsh
- The Darkness That Slept by Keegan and Tristen Kozinski
- Children by Bjørn Larssen
[…] Here’s the link to the Critiquing Chemist’s post. […]
[…] finished judging my first ever Self Published Fantasy Blog Off in May and am deep into Phase 2 of my second time judging, this time teamed up with Lynn’s […]