John Scritchfield spends his days caring for his four children and his nights wearing costumes and pretending to hit people with blunt weaponry. There is very little money it. He holds an MFA in Acting, which he puts to use as the Creative Director for the Calvin Theatre Company at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he also teachesIn his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife, children, and two cats (Jasnah and Vin). Oh, he's also the Booknest co-Admin.

SPFBO8 - Update 12, May

Greeting Gentle Reader,

I come to you today with an update concerning the eighth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and Booknest's role in it. Fear not for we have again returned! We have, however, adjusted our process. Typically, we have had five or six reviewers review our first crop of thirty, completing and posting a review for all entrants while allowing for one DNF. Each reviewer would then submit a semi-finalist for the site's owner to read and then select our finalist. For the most part, this structure remains unchanged. We currently have a panel of five reviewers for the first phase: Admins John & Janelle as well reviewers Rai, Al, and Max with 1 more potential reviewer to be determined. Each of these reviewers will receive five or six titles (depending on how many reviewers we have) and they will select their favorite amongst the bunch. However, and this is the big change from previous years, they will only be obligated to post a review for their semi-finalist. For all of their other titles, we are asking reviewers to post a summary and micro-review in a single blog post. This doesn't prevent them from reviewing every one of the books, but it removes the obligation to do so.

I know that is a big change and a bit of a bummer, but there is some good news.

We will be instituting our own in-house version of the Senlin Safety Net. Meaning: any reviewer who has multiple books they believe are worthy of semi-finalist consideration can submit them to a fellow reviewer who might not resonate with their titles.

Our phase 2 (1b?) will continue as it always has: Petros will read the semi-finalists and submit our finalist to the other blogs for consideration.

Our phase 2 reviewers, Sue, Jordan, and Andrew will then review the other nine entrants as they always have.

I hope this clarifies how Booknest will participate in this year's SPFBO, and we look forward to seeing who submits this year!



A Chorus of Dragons continues in Jenn Lyons’ most recent entry The House of Always. For those of you just joining us on Kiran’s journey from street urchin to Hell Warrior, I would recommend you stop here for here there be spoilers…and a zombie kraken. So, that’s fun.

Whereas other books in the series have been a collection of narrations from one to three characters, The House of Always feels much more like an ensemble piece as Kihrin and Vol Karoth struggle against each other’s ideologies by weaponizing the memories of the group. The final product makes for Lyons’ most difficult to follow and yet most compelling and richly rewarding installment since The Ruin of Kings.

Readers of the series will know that at the conclusion of A Memory of Souls, our protagonist Kirhin valiantly sacrificed himself in an attempt to reunite with Vol Karoth in order to halt the demon’s attempt at destroying and consuming all of reality. Well, this book begins by having nearly all of the principal characters from the series in a losing battle with a kraken. To prevent their total destruction, they travel to a house outside of time where they hope to regroup. Unfortunately, the house becomes entangled with Vol Karoth’s prison and time becomes a more flexible than it should. To make matters worse, everyone in the house is forced to experience each other’s memories…which drives the majority of the story’s conflict. Secrets are uncovered. Betrayals are discovered. And the end expertly sets up what I anticipate will be a compelling finale this year when The Discord of Gods hits the shelves.

If you haven’t yet read The Ruin of Kings, I don’t know what you’re waiting on. There is still time to get in on one of the most complex and compelling ongoing fantasy series. All the better, you won’t have to wait for the series to be finished. Lyons promised a book per year and has followed through on that promise. The final book in the series will be with us this April from Tor. Better to get a jump on the series now to avoid looking like a poser when it inevitably gets adapted. Fingers crossed?

I love overpowered characters. It’s a preference Booknest’s founder Petros and I both share. And let me tell you, Domaren the Godknight is…just that…overpowered. I know, I know with a super chill name like God knight you would think the guy would be a real pushover…but no. He is a powerhouse. He and his other Godknights use their power, gifted to them by the Creators, to quell rebellions, squash tyrants, and to try to guide foolish mortals while following the Creators’ orders. Unfortunately, pretty early in the narrative, this connection between Godknight and Creator is severed.

So, what does a Godknight do without their God?

This book is jam packed with powerful magics, monsters, colorful characters, and epic battles. Despite the immense power wielded by the main character, there is a weighty feeling of responsibility which feels like a character in and of itself. While I didn’t find myself fearing for Domaren, I was always keenly aware of the mortality of those he protects. His concerns became my concerns, and if that isn’t a wonderful way to relate to Superman, I don’t know what is.

Jeramy Goble does an incredible job making his readers feel the Godknights’ responsibilities and the internal struggle of conscience versus calling. In the end, it doesn’t matter who your boss is, what matters is who you have sworn to protect.

In what I expected to be a book about paladins swinging big ass swords and fighting dragons, Eulogy for the Dawn turned out to be a book about paladins swinging big ass swords and fighting dragons and so much more. Eulogy for the Dawn is a story with as much heart as it has magic, swords, and battles. Fun, intelligent, and heartfelt. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

And that Felix Ortiz/Shawn T. King cover art is spectacular (big shock). It’s my favorite combination going right now. They’re the best.

This is another book I would love to have a physical copy of. I’m not certain I can afford a big old hardcover edition right now, but in the future I’m thinking I’ll grab one. You should do so too! At the very least, grab a digital copy and settle in. Eulogy for the Dawn is fast paced and compelling. My favorite from this competition so far, and my semi-finalist pick.