I am happy to announce that BookNest is done with the first round of this year's SPFBO. Like last year, our team, consisting of 3 guests (Rob J. Hayes, Dyrk Ashton & Lynn Kempner) and 3 of our very own members (C.T. Phipps, Michael McLendon & Katerina Papasotiriou) read and reviewed all 30 books assigned to us, picking 6 Semi-Finalists in the process. You can see all 30 reviews HERE. The 6 Semi-Finalists are:
Runeforged by Justin DePaoli
Orconomics by Zachary J. Pike
The Stars Were Right by K.M. Alexander
We Ride The Storm by Devin Madson
The Tainted Crown by Meg Cowley
The Curse Recalled by J.E. Merritt
I was then tasked to read those Semi-Finalists and pick the best one among them to represent BookNest.eu in the 2nd round of the SPFBO, as our Finalist. Over the course of the last 4 days, I eliminated 4 of those Semi-Finalists on our FB Group (The Stars Were Right, Runeforged, The Tainted Crown, The Curse Recalled) and now I'm here to let you know which one of the final two (We Ride the Storm, Orconomics) will be our finalist. Without further ado:
In a surprise plot-twist, I've decided that my very own anthology Art of War: Anthology for Charity will represent us on the se... Alright, alright. Here's we go:
We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson is one of the best books I've read this year. With a personal score of 8.5/10, I think it's capable of winning this year's SPFBO (As a comparison, last year's winner finished with a 8.1/10 avg rating). Alas, it has the misfortune to be paired with Orconomics, one of the best books I've read in my life. Therefore, my pick for BookNest's Finalist for this year's SPFBO is Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike, sent forward with a perfect score of 10/10.
I'm utterly perplexed by the fact that none of the Big 5 has acquired the rights to publish Pike's work, but I'm confident that it will be so by the end of this year's contest. Orconomics is not only better than most of the self-published books out there, but better than most of the traditionally published ones as well (Although the difference between Self-Published books and Traditionally Published books has significantly thinned throughout the years, and the way an author gets his book out there is no longer an indication of its quality, if it ever was). Orconomics is well written, fast paced, with great flow and even greater prose, and most importantly, it's a great story to boot. It's full of heart and joy, but also regret and pain. It is, as GRRM would say, how Fantasy ought to be written. I would also say it's unique, but that it isn't. For it is quite similar (and I hope I'm not doing it a disservice here) to one of my favorite fantasy books ever: Kings of the Wyld. As a matter of fact, I was joking with Nicholas Eames the other day, that if he hasn't in fact ghost-wrote Orconomics himself, then surely Zachary Pike ghost-wrote Nick's books instead. I considered including a full review in this post, but then again I wouldn't be able to tell it better than Dyrk Ashton did. If you want to know more about Orconomics, you can read Dyrk's review HERE.
Now, some of you may have noticed that something didn't add up in what I said above. When I mentioned We Ride the Storm, I said that it's capable of winning this year's SPFBO. But how can this be, you'll wonder, if it's been eliminated, with Orconomics being BookNest's Finalist? Simply said, We Ride The Storm can be someone else's Finalist, for I am pushing it through as a Senlin Safety Net Candidate. For those who are not familiar with the term, the Senlin Safety Net is a safe mechanism, for the rare occasion where one of the Judges has more than 1 book in his batch capable of winning the contest. How it works? I simply push it through as a candidate, and if one of the other Judges isn't happy enough with the books in their own batch, can take it up and promote it to the second round of the SPFBO as their Finalist instead. You can learn more about the Senlin Safety Net HERE. So, worry not, fans of We Ride The Storm. All hope is not yet lost. The book can still make it through, as long as one of the other Judges decides it's better than what their own batch has to offer!
Thank you all for joining me here today. Huge congratulations to Zachary Pike, and best of luck to Devin Madson with her second chance! I'm looking forward to the rest nine Finalists in the Second Round of the SPFBO!