Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up: December 2019

It’s hard to believe it’s already the last day of 2019. It sure was a roller-coaster ride. I usually write up the Monthly Wrap Up posts in the first days of the new month, but it seemed appropiate to say goodybe to the year with the last such post. I won’t do a big end in a review kinda thing, because I’ll do a huge post on the blog anniversary in March and I don’t want to repeat myself.

I tried to take things easier this month, so we didnt’t have as much content, and I was supposed to have a 2 weeks break, but apparently, I can’t stop blogging *shrug*. I hope you all had a nice holiday last week and got all the presents you wanted!

Let’s see what we’ve been up to amidst the Christmas crazyness:

Book Reviews

In case you missed any of our reviews in December you can read them by clicking on the title! 🙂 We mostly caught up with reviews and tried to close things down.

The Bone Ships by RJ Barker – 4.5/5

the bone ships

I was super late with reading and reviewing this book as I got an ARC copy back in the summer… But it was totally worth the wait because it was hands down my favourite audiobook this year!

The Bone Ships is the nautical fantasy I didn’t know I needed in my life. I loved the characters who weren’t just “good” or “bad”, I loved the different creatures that made this world so vivid and mysterious, I loved how Jude Owusu made me feel and react to his reading. If you are looking for a character-driven fantasy, which is not filled with fighting scenes but focuses more on exploring human nature, then look no further. I’m pretty sure the Tide Child and the arakeesian would be grateful for the company of another adventurer.”

The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards – 4.75/5

the last sun

Recently I’ve been seeing The Last Sun all over the place on Twitter, and apprently Jen jumped on the bandwagon as well. I guess at one point I’ll have to check it out myself, but until then, check out Jen’s review!

“While everything important to this book is tied up, there are lots of hints to draw a person back to the next book to see how the mysteries surrounding Rune and company play out. But honestly, I’m not needing much in the way of enticements to come back, consider me firmly on the bandwagon.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich – 4/5

rivers of london

Back in November I found myself with an unexpected free week to read whatever I wanted, so I went and picked up my copy of Rivers of London I got back in Dublin. I heard many good things about this series, and it’s definitely one I’ll come back to.

“Overall I did enjoy Rivers of London. It had some really good ideas and the mystery kept me guessing until the endgame, but the characters fell a bit flat for me. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in the series, but Rivers of London being the first book, it definitely set the base for a great series. I can see why many people seem to love it, and though we need to work on each other a bit more, I believe we’ll get there in the end.”

Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen – 4/5

beneath cruel fathoms

This book had been one of our SPFBO semi-finalists, and I shared my thoughts on the first 25% of the book back then. Anela was kind enough to send me a paperback copy and since it was sitting on my desk I found myself reading it on the evenings to wind down. I decided to write a full review but only on GR.

“There were some nice twists in the plot, and though the story arc was concluded nicely, it still left some things open for the next book in the series. Which I can’t wait to read, by the way.

Even though books with romance is not something I would pick up usually, I’m glad Beneath Cruel Fathoms found its way to me. The romance was well written and there were enough other things to keep the story going. It also dealt with serious topics such as woman’s place in society and how Isaura deals with the fact that she can’t live up to the expectations and how that affects her relationships. On the other side is Leonel who is being shunned by his own family and tries to live up to their expectations but keeps failing.”

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock – 4.5/5

where oblivion lives

This is also one of those books I’ve seen a lot around this year and I finally jumped on the bandwagon. I mean it’s historical fiction with angels, demons and music!! How could I not read it??

“Even though it took me a while to really get into Where Oblivion Lives due to it having many layers and me being new to the world, by the end I was totally invested. I really liked the mystery, how the different plotlines came together and the cleverly placed hints and historical references. For which I need to praise T. Frohock’s writing! That and the way she transformed the music into literary form.

If you are looking for an intriguing historical fiction with LGBTQ characters and music in the spotlight, look no further. I’m pretty sure the Los Nefilim series will be up your alley.”


Though Phase 1 ended in November, we still had some reviews from Jen to share. These were books she liked enough to read to the end and write full reviews. I added all of our thoughts to each review.

If you missed anything during Phase 1, you can check out everything that happend with us on my SPFBO 5 Phase 1 page and you can get to know the team better here! If you’d like to follow our progress in the Finals, then my SPFBO 5 Finals page is for you!


Hound of the Mountain by Stephan Morse – 4.8/10

This book had been one of our contestants, and we rated it as follows:

Jen: 6.8/10   Belle: 2/10   Timy: 5/10   Nick: 5.5/10


The weight of the world shouldn’t rest on a 17-year-old’s shoulders, but that’s what it feels like for Chase Craig. With his daddy’s last breath, he was given a goal: save Momma from The Mountain.

Escaping this monstrous shadow will take money, lots of it, and Chase’s best option is to join The Rangers—an elite group who hunt dangerous ink-touched beasts that spawn from The Mountain’s depths. Only one person will be chosen out of the several dozen who apply, and if he doesn’t get a magic tattoo before the Trials, he’ll be out of the running.

The 19th Bladesman by S.J. Hartland – 5.8/10

This book had been one of our contestants, and we rated it as follows:

Jen: 4.5/10   Belle: 6/10   Timy: 5.5/10   Nick: 7/10


His duty is to die young, but fate has something far more lethal in mind

If Kaell breaks, the kingdom breaks with him. And prophecy says the 19th Bladesman will break …

The Bonded Warrior …

Kill. Die young. That’s what a swordsman bonded to the ancient gods does. Without expecting praise from the man who trained him to survive this centuries-old, malignant war against the inhuman followers of an invincible lord. But Kaell wants more. More of Val Arques’ attention, his approval. Just more.

The fire dancer …

Ice lord, spy, Heath never loses a fire dance. Yet he longs to know that thrill of danger down his spine as he kills for his god, to fight a warrior who might, just might be better than him.

The broken …

Val Arques is a bladesman of formidable power entrusted not only with Kaell’s life but with the truth that will destroy him. Banished to a grim outpost of this doomed kingdom of sorcery, poetry and treachery, he cannot afford to care about the young warrior. For love means loss. And Val Arques has a shameful secret …

A kingdom on the edge of chaos …

As a vengeful god escapes his ancient prison and Kaell is drawn into his web of deception, even Val Arques can’t protect him from the dark prophecy awaiting him. Because you can’t flee fate unless you’re willing to do the unthinkable.

Duty and love collide in this powerful epic fantasy about shattering loss, betrayal and the price of power.

Belief’s Horizon by I.W. Ferguson – 6.6/10

This book had been one of our contestants, and we rated it as follows:

Jen: 6.7/10   Belle: 6.5/10   Timy: 7/10   Nick: 6/10

beliefs horizon

Treachery at home. Otherwordly visitors. What else lies beyond belief’s horizon?

Happen Fell lives on an isolated farm deep in the rainy woods on the magical planet Grith. It’s past time for him to go to the annual trade fair to begin his rites of passage, but one untimely trouble after another keeps him from exploring further than his home and the tiny school he attends with his cousin.And one person seems to lurk behind every trouble: Osgar.

Once Happen finally leaves on his journey, he fears his father’s loyal employee will turn up any moment. But when a stranger claims that Grith could be facing a threat from beyond the stars, Happen’s coming-of-age journey becomes much more treacherous—and mysterious.

That looming threat is the Lightfeeder Menace, and it could destroy everything. Almost no one on Grith—Happen included—believes it could be real. But what they don’t believe might kill them.

Belief’s Horizon is the first book in The Lightfeeder Menace series, introducing the world of Grith, where every river deep enough has its naiad, and every sea worth its salt has its dragon

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.

r.m. garino 1

R.M. Garino has been writing for most of his life. Since childhood, he has been fascinated with what The Story is, how it functions, its hidden depths, and the different masks it wears.

He is known for writing crisp, character driven fiction that reads like viewing a film. His world creation is vast and far reaching, yet his prose is organic and devoid of informational dumps. The characters are real, believable, and inspire both affection and compassion in the reader.

Garino has a Master’s in Literature and lives in the mountains of the east coast with his wife, three children, and all the characters still waiting their turn to speak. He is an avid brewer of beer and strong coffee, a voracious reader, an aficionado of fine cigars and single malt scotch, and is not nearly as obsessed with video games as his wife believes him to be.

How now, folks. I’m R.M. Garino, the author of the Chaos of Souls Series. Ever wish you could bring your D&D characters to life? Well, that’s exactly what we did. Although the overarching story of angels and demons is much older, our two main characters were fleshed out from a D&D game my wife and I played with friends ages ago. They’re introduced, along with their misfit squads, in The Gates of Golorath, and their adventures continue throughout the series. We’ve also released a standalone series, the Chaos of Souls Novellas, which capture separate side stories that enrich the main series. Requiem’s Reach is the first volume, and we continue from there. If you’re looking for a thoughtful, somewhat irreverent fantasy that puts the stories and character first, then come on over and give us a read.

Read R.M. Garino’s tale

l.l. thomsen 1

Armed with a love of fantasy, a slightly geeky mindset, and an unleashed wild muse, L. L. began the new journey into writing relatively late in life but was inspired by her long-repressed urges to write ‘something’ and once she began, she has never looked back.

“I regret I took so long to find my ‘calling’. The truth is that when you have an idea it just has to be set free,” she says, adding, “My somewhat unorthodox approach to style and flow has been a way for me to test my personal, individual voice. It’s a fluid thing, however. In the future, it might alter to match the shape of new projects.”

Linda currently lives in the UK, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two kids, one cat and one dog. As with her writing, she approaches life with a nod to the saying: ‘fear nothing, respect everything’. She enjoys horse riding, sci-fi movies, travelling, reading fantasy (but not exclusively), Pilates, and is oddly fascinated by swords.

Her first published fantasy novel, ‘A Change of Rules‘, kick-starts the 11 ‘episodes’ of The Missing Shield – a new adult high fantasy series, with a touch of mystery, intrigue, romance and darkness.

The Missing Shield‘ is the forerunner to ‘The Veil Keepers Quest‘ series.

Read L. L. Thomsen’ tale!

jon auerbach author photo jon auerbach 1

Jon Auerbach’s love of fantasy began at the tender age of six, when his parents bought him the classic 1977 animated version of The Hobbit. Jon hopes to pass on his stories to the next generation, including his kids, who have their own copy of The Hobbit that they lovingly call “the Bilbo book.”

Read Jon Auerbach’ tale!

Advent Book Calendar 2019

The end of the year is traditionally all about lists and reflections of the past year. As in 2018, we did things a bit differently and revealed our top 10 reads one day at a time during the month. We also had shout outs to books which didn’t make to the top 10 but we still loved for one reason or another. As a finishing touch we decided to gift our favourite bloggers who were great support to us during the year! All that being said, you can check out the full list on this page, complete with links to reviews and Amazon (I’m using universal links, so those links should bring you to your local Amazon site).

Find out which books we loved in 2019!

Other Bookish Posts

Cover Reveal

I had the honour to reveal the cover of Harpyness is Only Skin Deep, the debut portal fantasy book D.H. Willison.

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 December. I hope to see you all in 2020! Have a Happy New Year everyone!