The second four classified + 6th classified

* Disclaimer *

Everyone is different and likes and dislikes different things. Reading is no exception. One person’s all-time favorite might seem too bland or too high stakes for another. That said, the opinions of our judges in this contest are just that: opinions. Just because we let go of a book doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It might be your next favorite, who knows?

However, as this is a competition, there can only be one winner. So you need to scroll down to our favorite from our batch of thirty titles. We will let go of the books four or five at a time. These groups are let go in no particular order. So, the books we say goodbye to today are no worse than the books we’ll let go of in the next batch. They are just the first ones we read and which didn’t convince us as a group.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can learn more about the contest Here.

We’re also announcing our first semifinalists! We will continue to announce a semifinalist for each Four or Five to Fall, and then our second and first place winners will receive full reviews at the end of the month!

Today we say goodbye to our second batch of books from the first round of SPFBO#9. There are some intriguing concepts, good writing, and interesting characters in this group of four. Unfortunately, for different reasons, they didn’t stand up to the rest of the competition.

Here are our second four to fall. Read to the end to meet our first semi-finalist!

– – –

The Doctrines of Fire by CL Jarvis

The Doctrines of Fire (cover)Edinburgh, 1779. An academic rivalry turns deadly.

George Stephens is a terrible medical student. Lacking the social and financial resources to succeed at Edinburgh’s prestigious medical school, his dream of becoming a doctor seems to have vanished before it even began.

Then George learns about two famous professors, William Cullen and Joseph Black. Medical students are dying mysteriously – professors suspect a disgraced former student is to blame – and they need George’s help to uncover the truth. Believing that the partnership will strengthen his academic standing, George agrees.

Their investigation takes them into the darkest and most dangerous corners of the Edinburgh Enlightenment. The professors are secret wielders of fire magic, but their enemies court even darker forces. With violence threatening to erupt and George struggling to find his way in this confusing city, getting justice for the dead will be harder than he imagined.

We were initially excited about something that was a little different, with murder and anatomy as the subject, set in the Victorian era! The author certainly did an excellent job of researching Edinburgh’s hospitals, surgeries and medical profession of the time. The senior doctors were also an interesting combination, so it all looked very promising.

Unfortunately for us the prose and pacing didn’t hold up, and too many descriptions made us lose our composure. So even though this has a lot going for it, we had to let it go.

The hand of God by Yuval Kordov

The Hand of God (cover)The world ended, twice. Once at the hands of humanity and a second time at the hands of God, according to legend. Only Esther, the Eternal, saw all this happen. Chosen by the Messiah to redeem humanity, she is the head of a holy sisterhood that governs the Cathedral, the Last City. Except Cathedral isn’t the final city, and the source of the Revenant Sisterhood’s supernatural power is far from sacred.

It’s the year 2500, more or less. The passage of time has become as blurry as the gray expanses that cover much of North America. No moon or star illuminates the night and demonic hordes crash against the last outposts of civilization.

Two reborn nations compete for the future of humanity. To the west, the Cathedral unleashes its divine engines, ancient walking war machines, in a final attempt to purify the land. To the east, the struggling city-state of Bastion turns to the last living AI for rescue. Among them, a tribe of tech scavengers known as the Union unwittingly holds the balance of power.

Hell is on the horizon. Who will survive?

The prose suits this story well, as it feels wild and uneven, and not necessarily in a bad way! The beginning was interesting, as young Esther finds herself confused and alone in a suddenly horrific dystopian world.

Some of our judges read quite a bit, however the different timelines and multiple points of view were not always easy to follow, so some of us felt as confused as the main character. Also, although there are some fantasy aspects, to us it felt more like a science fiction story with a bit of fantasy, than a true fantasy book.

If readers liked it Iron Widow for the huge mech machines, this could be a book for them.

We think this was also entered into the SPSFC, so we wish the author well in that competition!

The ruler of the sunset by EM McConnell

The Ruler of Sunset (cover)There are seven Supplicants destined for the Capital, chosen as children by mysterious Voices, known as the Sovereigns.

Lynn and Willow go to Sunrise, which is dedicated to beginnings and mornings. Fabio and Aidan go to Day, Isobel and Hollie go to Sunset and Yvaine goes to Night.

Will the seven Supplicants be able to overcome the Trials and make their dreams come true? Or are they entering a nightmare?

The opening chapter was really intriguing and created a nice mystery. The main character hears mysterious voices, which soon turn out to be dragons!

The book is definitely simpler, but there are some surprising twists, it holds your hand and is easy to follow.

We really appreciated the portrayal of the (asexual) Ace, even if we had difficulty judging the ages of the characters. From their actions and dialogue, it seemed like we were reading about teenagers, but then it was about marriage and pregnancy, so the characters actually seemed more in their mid-twenties. This felt a little disjointed and made it harder to enjoy the story.

So while it has a lot of promise, sadly we have to let it go.

The principles in tattoos by Becky James

The Principles of Tattoos (cover)Breaking the principles of special forces means one thing. Death.

Thorrn has his life already planned: he becomes the best swordsman in the king’s army and one day becomes Captain. What doesn’t fit into his plans is a small, insignificant girl who claims to be his soulmate, the platonic other half of his spirit.

But when the king demands that he hand over Evyn, Thorrn is faced with a choice: protect Evyn and keep her secret from the magical community that would drain her of the power that resonates within her, or hand her over to save his career and his fortune. his surname. and reputation.

When a powerful wizard moves against the kingdom, Thorrn and Evyn will have to summon all their courage and find allies from unexpected corners, including different worlds and times. Because next to the realms of Oberrot and Earth are the multiverses, and one of them should definitely be able to help.

The beginning of this fantasy portal was intriguing and we especially liked the concept of soul mates, but not the romantic one!

The main male character was quite annoying, but as he was quickly put in his place by his soulmate, he fit the story well. Our judges liked the parts set on Earth more than those set in the secondary world.

We enjoyed the very unique magic system and dream world, but the action scenes felt overly familiar, rushed, and exaggerated.

This is a popular series for a number of independent readers, especially those who like a little spice to their imagination; unfortunately he wasn’t able to capture us enough to advance to the second round.

– – –

An ocean of others by Joshua Scott Edwards

An ocean of others (cover)Remember what is real or your head will be theirs.

Survival is never easy, but it has never been harder for Grim, Liwokin’s latest bounty hunter. He survived the Great Uprising that killed thousands of Liwo, endured the bloody chaos that ruled the city afterward, and avoided the crushing fist of the Agency created to quell the unrest. The rule of law is back, but following the rules doesn’t put food in your belly.

After a job gone wrong, Grim stumbles upon a conspiracy targeting Ulken, the head of the Agency, a man who has done more than anyone to ruin Grim’s life. Struggling to earn honest money, Grim intends to use this information to quickly rise through the ranks of the organization so that an empty purse will never worry him again. He becomes a Finger of the Agency, joining a sardonic ranger, two fugitive brothers, a stone-skinned Skardwarf, and a powerful dark wizard, none of whom know better than Grim what he’s gotten himself into.

Grim’s Hand soon discovers that the Agency’s stealth work is far deadlier than bounty hunting. As he fights to save his home from monsters who were once men, Grim discovers that the conspiracy runs deeper than Ulken and the Agency: what has been unleashed is spreading, and if Grim’s sanity does not prevail, it will consume the minds of the Bright Empire. and beyond.

This is a fast-paced story full of adventure, jokes, monsters, mysteries and magic! It’s on the darker side, not a really dark read, but dark and fun.

Our judges were immediately fascinated by the wild mix of characters, which had enough nuance and backstory to feel real. The sarcasm and jokes were especially fun to read and a highlight of the story! The likely downside is that this story began as a D&D game, so the races and tropes are pretty easy to spot. This didn’t bother us much, but if you’re looking for a very fresh take on the genre, this isn’t it.

This book is full of mysteries, layered upon even more mysteries, as well as secret agencies and societies. This was done very well, so you may be wondering, along with the main character, what the truth is. Are these goals of your employer actually positive and justify what you are doing?

Quote from Giulia:

“I’m not sure I really grasped all the breadcrumbs and information along the way. Not because it was overly complex, but because the flow of the story was so fast and fluid, my brain went into popcorn mode and didn’t pay as much attention as it did to the slow, epic beats. Too carried away by the next monster, fight, or situation to really digest all the little things.

All in all, while it wasn’t perfect, it was a lot of fun and most of the judges got away with it scot-free!

7.69/10 stars

– – –

We thank all the authors for allowing us to read their work! We congratulate you for having the courage to participate in the competition and wish you all much success in the future!

Our judges this year are Adawia Asad, Agatha Lopez, Blake Skelton, GR Matthews, Lana Taylor, Julia Kitvaria Sarene, Kerry Smith, Robert Max Freeman, Yaniv Rosenfeld Cohen, and Jennie Ivins (me). If you would like to know more about us, including our likes and dislikes, you can read about us Here.

Any questions should be directed to Jennie Ivins, via DM (Facebook/Twitter).

Title image by Amaan Ali.

Leave a Comment