Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up: October 2019

October was mostly about catching up, and cram in as many things as possible before I headed to the UK toward the end of the month. I had a great time both in London and Bristol – article coming soon, I promise, unlike the WorldCon one… – and it charged me with energy and good feels. It was awesome to meet old friends and make new ones and I already can’t wait for the next BristolCon.

But until I get myself together, take a look at what we were up to this past month. We are getting near the end of phase 1 in SPFBO and we are done with slush piling so we’ll start announcing our semi-finalists real soon. But we also read some other great books too, and hosted awesome authors.

Book Reviews

In case you missed any of our reviews in October you can read them by clicking on the title! 🙂 It was a much busier reading month, even if I can’t show much for it. But I planned from the beginning to catch up with SPFBO, so most of my reading time went to slush piling. But don’t worry, I still squeezed in some goodies and Jen wasn’t lazy either.

Angel’s Ink by Jocelynn Drake – 3.5/5

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I rarely listen to audiobooks when I didn’t read the book beforhand, because they work better as rereads for me. But since this had been sitting in my Audible library for quite a  while and I had an urban fantasy craving, I decided to give it a go.

“Books with snarky protagonists are my weaknesses and besides I really dug the idea of a magical tattoo shop. Especially one in which there is at least one person with a great music taste – fun fact, when I almost got my first tattoo, I bonded with my artist over my favourite Hungarian band, so that was cool and set the mood early on. The Asylum Tales (I swear this wasn’t an inspiration for my feature) has the potential to be a good series if it gets a bit cleared up and the world itself gets a bit more attention. I blew through the audiobook pretty fast, so I imagine it must be a fast read as well. “

Shadows by R.J. Furness – 2.5/5


I’ve read the first part of a serial as part of a blog tour. I can’t say I had become a fan of the format. But then it might have been the book itself…

“This first part with its prologue and 7 chapters felt like Furness just wanted to rush through the introduction and set things up – somewhat clumsily with a lot more tell than show – for the fun parts in later installments. As I haven’t read further, I don’t know how much world building will be done – but as we are talking about another world, I’m betting a lot. I also hope that some things will be cleared up regarding Sapphire’s real parents, and what exactly happened to them.

Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence – 5/5

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I was extremely lucky to get an early ARC of the final book in the Impossible Times trilogy by Mark Lawrence. This series had been the biggest surprise this year and I couldn’t wait to jump onto the last book. So much so, that I even threw away everything else.

Dispel Illusionbrings a most satisfying ending to the Impossible Times trilogy. The threads are closed seamlessly and there aren’t unanswered questions left. Maybe a few smaller ones, but in general, you can’t have much complains. I had high expectations for Dispel Illusion, and it didn’t disappoint. Just as full of heart, and life lessons as the previous books. I highly recommend the whole trilogy if you’d like to dive into a tale about time travelling, love, friendship, decisions and second chances.”

We Are the Dead by Mike Shackle – 4.75/5

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Mike generously sent a copy to Jen (and then gave one to me too in Bristol), and so she was more than happy to read and review it. Based on her GoodReads update, she had quite a ride with it.

“There were moments in the story where you could see the trail, the event or the thing that had to happen to push or spur that character forward to their path. But then there were also times that the story took a total left, and I was like, What the hell just happened here? When you read a lot, those surprise moments are rare so the fact that there were a few; impressed me.”


We are getting close to reveal of finalist, but in October we focused on getting to the end of slush piling. We had some more mini reviews and eliminated 5 more books. You can follow everything that happens with us on my SPFBO 5 page and you can get to know the team better here!


King of Ash and Bone by Melissa Wright – 4.6/10

This title had been eliminated, and we rated it as follows:

Jen: 6.8/10   Belle: 4/10   Timy: 3/10   Nick: 4/10


When flying monsters break through the veil into her world, Mackenzie Scott has nothing left to lose. Her brother has been taken, her future has vanished, and all that remains is a desperate need for revenge. After discovering the breach the creatures used as a gateway, Mackenzie devises a plan to stop them, whatever the cost.
When she finds an injured stranger in the street, he just might be the key she needs to succeed. What Mackenzie doesn’t know is that this stranger isn’t the helpless boy he appears to be. He’s one of the monsters. And he’s got plans of his own.
Thrown into a dying city in another realm, Mackenzie is powerless to get back. With the gateway closing, time is not on her side. But the stranger is, and if they can escape execution, this girl and her monster might be able to save both their worlds.


We continued slush piling our books and kept writing mini or full reviews. We also said goodbye to 5 books in our group.

So, here is how we fared in the third month of Phase 1:

The Third Round of DNFs by Jen

The Third Reaping

The Third Round of DNFs by Timy

Tales from the Asylum

Tales from the Asylum is a new feature I came up with for SPFBO. I wanted to create a unique opportunity for the authors to show off their story telling skills by taking their characters and putting them in an asylum room to see how they would deal with the situation. A lot can happen in a closed space…

Honestly, I just love this one, and can’t wait to read even more in future. I also won’t confine it to only SPFBO, I plan to keep it as a once a month feaure when the competition ends.

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J.B. Allen has been a fan of dungeons, dragons and all things “fantasy” long before his beheading of Demogorgon at the tender age of eleven and well before it was considered “cool” to be a nerd. He remains an avid fantasy roleplayer to this day, and can still be heard boasting, “I never fudged a dice roll that didn’t need it.” That same affection for swords and sorcery soon fueled a passion for storytelling, mainly about flawed characters in search of redemption, complicated magic, and the darkness of the soul. He reveals, “When writing about the horror of war and mankind’s propensity for violence, I believe it is important to be purposeful, not gratuitous in its detail, and the very recording of it should be brutally honest, haunting, and if possible, beautiful in its delivery.” Allen rules his house with an iron (albeit arthritic) fist and a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. He is the husband of a maiden warrior, and the father of a fair elf queen and a forest gnome, living in the wilds of southeast Michigan. He was a sergeant in U.S. Army, serving as an airborne infantryman and has been a police officer for twenty years as a road patrol officer, SWAT team member, and crisis negotiator, which he credits for helping him to dwell deep within the mind of a warrior. He is yet to win the lottery but has recently been celebrated for his revival of the saying, “Willy Nilly”.

Read J.B. Allen’s tale!

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For almost 30 years, I’ve called the Pacific Northwest home. My writing partners include two cats that distract as much as they encourage the creative juices. One of them masquerades as a fluffy ninja demon. My husband and son put up with my frequent bouts of writing and leave me presents of chocolate to appease the writing muse. I enjoy exploring worlds beyond this one and use myths, legends, and fairy tales as my guide to new stories.

Read Sonya M. Black’s tale!

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I’m a 31-year-old bohemian, British rasta. I have many other labels.

My short stories earned me the nickname, Lady of the Maccabre. I’m covered in tattoos, every colour of the rainbow.

Read Rainbow Maccabre’s tale!

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Robin Lythgoe spent her formative years in a family of seven readers (including herself) with diverse interests. Fantasy, with its wonderful worlds and creatures and magic, firmly captured her heart. Though she’s never trained as a thief or ridden a dragon, she has long harbored an excitement for learning. This has led to several self-taught talents such as writing, research, editing, Photoshop, mapmaking, and website coding. Her yearning to learn also results in lengthy visits at museums and historical sites, where she reads everything in sight, and looks up Even More on her trusty traveling data center. Her husband calls her a ‘brown ajah,’ which is acceptable only if the brown is dark chocolate (because milk chocolate is a color, not a flavor). Today she writes tales about wizards and magic, fantastical places and extraordinary journeys.

Read Robin’s tale!

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Drew Montgomery is an author and graduate of Texas A&M. He currently lives in Houston, TX, where he moonlights at a software company. When not writing, you can often find him reading, playing video games, drinking craft beer, and occasionally watching and complaining about the local sports teams.

Read Drew’s tale!

Author Spotlight

Guest Post

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Benedict Patrick is from a small town in Northern Ireland called Banbridge, but has been living and working in Scotland since he moved there at the age of eighteen. Tragically, that was quite a while ago.

He has been writing for most of his life, and has been reading for pretty much all of it (with help from mum and dad at the beginning). Benedict’s life changed when a substitute primary school teacher read his class part of The Hobbit and later loaned him the book – he fell in love with the fantasy genre and never looked back.

I hosted the reveal of the character art of Zoya from Benedict’s latest book, The Flight of the Darksar Dragon along with an excerpt of the book, which you can read here!

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UK epic fantasy author Ross C. Hughes is the writer of the Convent series, as well as a collection of short stories set in the same world, available for free to anyone who signs up to his mailing list at

Read Ross’ article about Modern Fantasy Trending Away from Fictitious Races!

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Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic Estalia series. He also writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English, two of which are regular best-sellers on Kindle.

Phil lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.

I took part in Phil’s blog tour where he shared little stories from the Ordshaw universe to celebrate the upcoming release of the third book in series, The Violent Fae. Check out The Family, here!

Other Bookish Posts

Cover Reveal

I took part in the cover reveal event of The Infernal Machine, the upcoming new release from Clayton Snyder, which will be out next January by Parliament.

Check out the really cool cover here!

Music Musings

Music Monday

If you missed any of them, give them a listen and read my personal notes/thoughts/ramblings regarding them 🙂

I think that’s it for October. I hope to see you all in November!