Monthly Wrap Up January

Monthly Wrap Up: January 2020

January seemed to be endless to some of you, but personally I had more good days than bad (according to my handy mood tracker). I definitely had some ups and downs but I also focused my attention on some new things I’m excited about.

Book Reviews

In case you missed any of our reviews in January you can read them by clicking on the title! 🙂 We were a bit low on reviews this month, but I can assure you, we’ve read more than that, we just can’t share our thoughts on them yet. Or in my case, I had two DNFs and a couple of audiobooks I didn’t review. I had an oddly productive reading month behind the scenes.

Cursebreaker by Carol A. Park – 4/5


Jen kicked off the year with the first review for Cursebreaker, the sequel to Banebringer. If you remember, we revealed this kick ass cover back in November.

“I didn’t think this story was quite as smooth as Sweetblade, but that was also a less complicated story, purely focused on Ivanna’s backstory – who the author knows very well as a character and it showed in the confident writing. You see glimpses of that confidence here but there are also moments of that careful writing too, that doesn’t feel as assured as the rest.

I’ll be curious to see how this wraps up in the next book or if it’ll take a couple to gather all the threads.”

Faithless by Graham Austin-King – 4.5/5


I was supposed to read this book last year, but then failed, so it was damn fucking time to get to it. Now I’m ready for the sequel.

Faithless has a lot to offer for those who are looking for a good grimdark fantasy where the events are confined to one or two places – though they are vast places to be fair. Austin-King really has a touch for making you uncomfortable but unable to turn away or put down the book. There is always something you don’t see coming from behind a turn.

Balance of Magic by Jeffrey L. Kohanek – 4/5


Jen read yet another of Jeffrey L. Kohanek‘s books and was enjoying it as usual.

“I can always count on Jeffrey Kohanek’s books for fast paced entertainment and this didn’t disappoint. With lots of twisty behind the scenes plots as the balance of power shifts from one wizard to another, there are quite a few surprises along the way including the appearance of a magic-based dragon! Always good fun.”

The Mage-Born Anthology by Kayleigh Nicol – 3.8/5


Jen read the anthology of Kayleigh Nicol, which ties in nicely with the world of her SPFBO finalist book, Sorcerous Rivalry.

“I almost wished I could have read this anthology before Sorcerous Rivalry just because there was such a bittersweet feel to the whole book, with getting to see their hopes and dreams and knowing the turn their lives take.

Like all anthologies there were stories I liked more than others – surprisingly Veryn’s was a huge winner for me and Kila, whom I loved in the series, was my least favourite.

All in all, this is nice addition to the series if you are looking to round out the sibling’s characters or just need an excuse to revisit the world.


I know we’ve been quiet on this front, but believe me, we are busy reading the finalists. I hope we can give you at least two ratings in February, but I’m currently waiting on my fellow judges to send me some reviews first. Personally I’m halfway done, only 4 and a half books to go!

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!

Tales from the Asylum

Tales from the Asylum is a 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…

We got to the last of the tales submitted by authors participating in SPFBO this year. From February I’ll give you the tales of those Finalists who wanted to play along. After that… well, I’ll open the gates to anyone who’d like to take part 🙂

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Graham Austin-King was born in the south of England and weaned on broken swords and half-forgotten spells. A shortage of these forced him to consume fantasy novels at an ever-increasing rate, turning to computers and tabletop gaming between meals. He experimented with writing at the beginning of an education that meandered through journalism, international relations, and law. To this day he is committed to never allowing those first efforts to reach public eyes.

Read Graham’s tale

Noor Al-Shanti likes to write epic length fantasy and science fiction novels, but hates writing author bios.

Read Noor Al-Shanti’s tale!

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Hûw Steer is an author, historian and sketch comedian from London. He’s previously been published in The Future Fire’s ‘Making Monsters‘ (2018), and the UCL Publisher’s Prize anthologies for 2018 and 2016. This is his first published novel.

Read Hûw’s tale!

Other Bookish Posts

What Do We Plan for 2020?

The usual year starter post where we set goals and then spend the rest of the year failing them. In all seriousness, we have quite a few things coming up, and if you happened to miss, then please check this post out!

Cover Reveal

I had the honour to reveal the cover of War of the God Queen, an epic fantasy from David Hambling whose Harry Stubbs novels I dearly love. A character named after yours truly makes an appearance, so if you are interested what my fictionalised self is up to, I recommend checking it out!

Look at the awesome cover here!

The Questioning

The Questioning is back! I had some free spots open in my schedule, so I brought this feature back after some rest. If you’d like to take part, please let me know! At the moment I’m looking at 2 such posts/month but you can never know when some things come up and I’m suddenly in need of subtitutes…

In January I only had the Author Edition due to unforseen circumstances, but Phil Williams‘ questions were quite entertaining to make up for it 🙂

Read my answers to Phil’s unquestioningly weird questions!

Other Posts

Introducing Budapest

Last year I had a post in hopes that it would start a series titled Introducing Budapest, but of course it led to nothing… And then I had this post rotting half written in my drafts and as I happened to have a bit more free spots in my schedule, I thought why not? So, this month I showed you one of the central places in Budapest: Kossuth Square where history meets with humanity. Here you can find our Parliament and the Museum of Ethnography (well, not anymore, as the museum is under moving, but the building is still pretty) among other buildings.

Take a look at Kossuth Square and take a glimps into Hungarian History!

A Week in My Head

As part of my new habits regarding mental health and generally taking better care of myself, I decided to start a new weekly series on the blog. In these posts I talk about all kind of stuff from my bullet journal to addressing some feelings and thoughts I have faced on that given week. I might not post in every single week – I didn’t do it last week for instance – but I’ll try to keep this up regularly as these posts seem to resonate with people and were quite well received.

I have a dedicated A Week in My Head page, where you can find all of my entries in this online journal of mine!

What I talked about in January:

  • January 5th: Entry 1 – The 1st entry in my new online #mentalhealth journal. This one is mostly an introduction and a show off of my new #bulletjournal.
  • January 12th: Entry 2 – In which I talk about why I’m feeling like an outsider most of the time.
  • January 19th: Entry 3 – In which I focus on all the positive things that happened this week which helped me get through the shit days.
  • January 26th: Entry 4 – In which I talk about some of my personal goals for the year, including moving more, travelling (friends!) and #music! No pandas this time, sorry.

Music Musings

In January, after a long time I finally could attend a concert, and it was my favourite Hungarian band to boot! It was a pretty great show – duh – and I definitely needed to vent some of my frustration out as I had a rough week before that.

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 January. I hope to see you all in February, which happens to be my birthday month 😉