Monthly Wrap Up July

Monthly Wrap Up: July 2020

July, thankfully was a much calmer/quieter month, although this might be because I pretty much kept to myself. I had some ups and downs in my mood and had a lot of things to think about. And I was also busy with the blog, Storytellers on Tour and SPFBO. I promise I’ll stop fiddling with the blog design one day… But I quite like the new header images, so… *shrug*

That being said, it’s time for a Monthly Wrap Up, let’s see what we were up to in July!

Book Reviews

In case you missed any of our reviews in July you can read them by clicking on the title! 🙂 We had a lot of reviews this month, so it was easy to miss one or two.

The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson – 3.5/5

The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson

I’ve been hearing a lot about The Lost War and Jen before me already loved and reviewed it, so when I got my hands on an audio copy, I said hell with it and decided to listen to it. I had some mixed feelings, but it’s definitely worth your time.

“Although my review has been a bit on the critical side, I believe the Eidyn series has a lot of potential to become a great one. The Lost War, although an ambitious novel, fell a bit short on the execution. Felt like Anderson wanted to cram in a bit too much than it was required. Despite a rocky start, the mystery masterfully woven into the plot eventually got me hooked and then kept me glued to the pages. The Lost War is an intriguing blend of adventure, mystery and mindfuckery.”

I, Exile by David M. Samuels – 4/5

I, Exile by David M. Samuels

Jen read and reviewed I, Exile, which is also one of this year’s SPFBO entries.

“The plot had enough interesting world building add-ons, and a little character growth arc, to keep it feeling fresh and exciting, even if we do recognize the heart of the story or at least if you have seen every mummy movie made 247 times like I have, you will.

Fast paced, lots of atmosphere and cool magic (phylacteries, got to love it) sprinkle that with lots of fun fights with creepy creature monsters – always my favourite when it comes to action adventure type stories, it’s worth checking out.”

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham – 4.5/5

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

These days I’m trying to mix in some other genres into my reading to avoid burning out on fantasy. Lucky for me Talking as Fast as I Can was on sale and I’ve been interested reading it for a while now, so I jumped on the opportunity.

Talking as Fast as I Can is an intriguing read if you’d like to get a glimpse into the life of an actress whose career is not about scandal and fame. It’s not as funny as the blurb lets you believe, but I couldn’t help thinking how perfect of a choice Lauren was to play Lorelai. They sure have a similar voice. I think what’s the most endearing about Lauren is that despite being a successful actress, she remained a down to earth kind of person. She kept working and doing what she loves best. And that shines through every page along with her personality.”

Stormblood by Jeremy Szal – 3.5/5

Stormblood by Jeremy Szal

Arina joined to the staff in June, and her book review for the Asylum was Jeremy Szal‘s debut SFF novel, Stormblood.

“If you’re in for high-caliber military action, a developed tech world brimming with spacefaring cultures, and a raw portrayal of the fallouts of war and addiction, Stormblood is the book to satisfy all your hungers.

And at the end of it all lies the whisper of a greater threat prowling its way through the galaxy, ravenous for the vulnerable remains of Compass…”

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington – 3.5/5

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I laid eyes on the cover and I was lucky enough to get an ARC. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations but it definitely was an enjoyable read. One which made me write a long rambling review…

Nydia Hetherington‘s A Girl Made of Air is a thought provoking debut, one that’s hard to put in a box or even describe. It needs a specific frame of mind to really enjoy and appreciate the complexity of the characters and the beauty of the writing. It definitely won’t be for everyone and that’s fine. I still urge you to give it a go if you like circus settings and a story about walking on a tight rope. Sometimes literally.”

The Living End by Craig Schaefer – 4.5/5

The Living End by Craig Schaefer

It took me 3 years to read the third book in the Daniel Faust series and hopefully I won’t wait another 3 to read the next one, because damn, I love this series.

The Living End lives up to its predecessors, and then takes things to a higher level. The break neck pace, the characters, the stakes are going to drive your adrenaline level up and make you want more. The Daniel Faust series gets better by each book and I’m so here for the rest. It’s a must read for any UF lover out there. Beware, it’s highly addictive!”



The First Reaping – 5 cuts and 1 semi-finalist!

I July we finally broke the silence and had our first update thanks to Jen. From here on we’ll regular updates/reviews in about every 2 weeks. I’m happy to report that all 5 of us are nearly done with our batches of 6 books and we’ll soon start reading our semi-finalists! We won’t review them until everyone is done with reading.

Our first semi-finalist curtesy of Jen is none other than The Dragon’s Banker by Scott Warren!

The Dragon's Banker by Scott Warren

Finance: The lifeblood of any country’s beating heart and the life’s work of Sailor Kelstern — Merchant Banker. While wizards brood in their towers and great warriors charge into battle Sailor is more interested in the price of ore, herbs, and alchemicals carried by the trade ships.

But when a spell of bad fortune and bitter rivalry leaves him scrambling to turn a profit on little more than winds and whispers, one such whisper catches Sailor’s ear— a dragon has been seen in the west.

Sailor soon finds that the dragons are very real, and not at all what he expected. And they practice a very different sort of economy — one of subterfuge and fire.

With bonus novelette: Forego Quest

What if you were the hero of every song, story, and legend?
What if you didn’t want to be?
Find out in this hilarious fantasy short. 

Party with the Stars

Have you ever wondered what might happen if you could throw a party of your choice and not only could you invite your MC(s) but other literary figures as well? In this feature, Party with the Stars, I ask you to imagine exactly that scenario and some more.

Invitation - Ela Bambust

After spending two years too many living in GA, USA, Ela Bambust moved back to her home country of Belgium. With a deep love of classical fantasy, comedy and horror, she now writes fiction in those genres aimed (but not exclusively) at trans and LGBTQIA+ people, when she isn’t bothering her cat or assembling toy robots.

Invitation - Eric Sparks

Here are the basics. My name is Eric Sparks, and I’m a writer living in the Memphis, TN area. During business hours, I serve as a marketing media manager where I wear many hats (Tech Writer, Ad Design, Web Design, and more). Whenever I can escape that world, you can normally find me working on my Fantasy and Science Fiction works. I am the author of The Tales of Lugon, which is the project I spend most of my time writing.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English, emphasis in Literature from Union University in Jackson, TN. While I loved my time at Union (and will be the first to say that most of my professors were great and appreciated good writing in any form), I quickly discovered my passion for literature centered around the craft of storytelling, not arguing for specific interpretations or psychoanalyzing an author from his works. I still kept English as my major; I had planned on teaching high school English. In that role, I could encourage students to dive into the texts and understand the personal growth that could be achieved through seeing the different perspectives of the various characters without contributing to the elitism that seems to be running rampant in post-secondary academia. My career path changed, but not my love of reading, writing, and the benefits they bring to people. My approach to Creative Writing, and why I did not select classes that focused on it, is best described by William Faulkner: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Invitation - T K P Sternberg

Tobias Krister Per Sternberg is a Swede who lives in Berlin, studied in London and has spent the last decade and a half working as a visual artist. He is an avid fan of fantasy, history and good storytelling in general. Sternberg speaks English with his wife, Swedish with his daughter and German or English with friends and colleagues. Born in 1973, he is of the generation who discovered tabletop role-playing games in their early teens, at the same time as they got their first simple computers. Those games became the point of entry both to Fantasy and to creativity.

Invitation - E. L. Aldryc

Ellan is a foreigner. Hailing from the distant lands of Central Europe, she landed in the UK a decade ago to become the world’s next literary superstar. This mission is, as many others, still in progress. She writes fantasy in a variety of worlds ranging from hi-tech to roman-dragon-steampunk extravaganza (2021). Unlike most good writers, she has a university degree in Creative Writing, and usually doesn’t publicize it. Why? Because in her second year, a teacher marked down her work as ‘commercial drivel’, while praising a student who wrote a short poem on a greasy pizza box instead. Since then, she’s sworn to never write a poem on a pizza box. Instead, she creates beautiful poetry in the shape of worlds and people whose destiny is yours to explore.

Author Spotlight
Luke Tarzian

This coming fall, Luke Tarzian will release his third book, titled A Symphony of Dreams. Teamed up with Justine and Nick we not only showed off the awesome cover but also gave you an excerpt. I don’t guarantee it will make the waiting easier though.

Cover Reveal

Organized by Storytellers On Tour, we brought to you the brand new cover of the soon re-released The Skald’s Black Verse by Jordan Loyal Short. Which soon will be followed by a book tour as well!

Other Bookish Posts

To Be Continued…

10 weeks, 5 authors, 1 story. In To Be Continued… I asked 5 authors (self-published and traditionally published alike) to write a story together based on my prompts, without knowing about each other. They each had 2 weeks to write their part before I forwarded it to the next person to continue. Each part is somewhere between 500 – 1500 words long.

After The New Sound and The Butcher Queen I wanted to give this feature another go. I really love working on this, but sometimes things not go as smoothly as I’d like. The Enchanted Forest brought a lot of frustration and though a few weeks later than intendede, but at the end of July we finally had Part 1 up!

Timy Takács

Part 1 by Timy Takács (I’m not an author per se, but it’s my feature and I wanted to play, so shut up): Are you brave enough to enter The Enchanted Forest? Do you have what it takes to make your dreams come true? Gordon definitely will try and now you can join him on his journey!

Storytellers On Tour

Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire

Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire

We gave you one of this year’s SPFBO entrants, Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire. Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with reviews, interviews and excerpts along my bad puns regarding the title (I’ve no regrets…). *ahem*

Voice of War by Zack Argyle

Voice of War by Zack Argyle

We also gave you one of this year’s SPFBO entrants, Voice of War by Zack Argyle. Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with reviews, interviews and excerpts.

A Hero’s Downfall by Tony Johnson

A Hero's Downfall by Tony Johnson

We gave you one of this year’s SPFBO entrants, A Hero’s Downfall by Tony Johnson. Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with reviews, interviews and excerpts. 

Music Musings

Music Monday

You might have noticed that I had fewer Music Monday posts in July. I think I got a bit bored of this feature and it started to become a chore to pick songs and even though I tried to make a challenge out of it fo myself, I just didn’t really feel it. So, I decided that I’ll make this feature rest for a while. I’m sure it’ll be back one day, but not sure when yet. That being said, if you missed any of the ones I did manage to post, give them a listen and read my personal notes/thoughts/ramblings regarding them 🙂

I think that’s it for July. I hope to see you all in August!