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!
So after reading six of this year’s SPFBO contenders, I found myself considering three of them for my semi-finalist pick. Three extremely different books, which made it difficult to choose one as ‘the best’.
In order of reading, my contenders were:
Bitter Sky by Tim Stretton: This is a classically-written steampunk novel about morality in war, how quickly clear waters muddy and how the common people are used as pawns of the powerful, with a little demonic twist.
Empire’s Daughter by Marian L Thorpe: This low fantasy historical drama about a world where males and females have split into constrictive societal roles considers many complex questions as the two sexes come together to fend off invasion.
Daughter of Flood and Fury by Levi Jacobs: A YA revenge/coming of age story about a magically-gifted young woman driven to investigate and avenge her father’s death against a backdrop of religious dogma, global politics, corruption and, again, rigid expectations of men and women.
I enjoyed all three of these books in different ways, and their varying styles and content made it difficult to pick a ‘favourite’, in the way that asking anyone to name their favourite book with no context is just cruel and unusual.
So, in the end, I tried to just be objective about which one was the best-written book, taking into account the prose, worldbuilding, characters and plot.
And so, I came up with a winner.
My semi-finalist for SPFBO 7 is…
DUH DUH DUH…
Daughter of Flood and Fury by Levi Jacobs.
Congratulations and good luck in the next round to Levi, and I hope people will also check out Bitter Sky and Empire’s Daughter.
EMERGENCY SHIFT by Daniel R. Potter is a book that I was looking to pick up and read before I was assigned it for the SPFBO. I used to date an EMT in real life and she shared some truly fantastically weird stories of her job. Given I've had my fill of private detectives and demon hunters, I was interested in seeing how combining the story of a night shift paramedic with urban fantasy would work out.