SPFBO 2 – First Impressions (Batch 4)

Disclaimer – I am not going to be commenting on any book’s content. I have not read any of the books currently sent to me, not even a page. I am making this about my first impressions of the following things: title, cover art, and blurb. All things that people will consider before they buy a book. So any commentary I make, negative or positive, should not be taken to mean that I think the story itself will be good or bad. And one way or the other, I will give the book a try.

Rise of the Mages, by Brian W Foster

Strange dreams of a beautiful young woman leave journeyman apothecary Alexander “Xan” Conley exhausted. That’s not good since a single mistake could kill a patient. To complicate matters, he’s afraid that finding a way to end the nighttime meetings would mean never seeing the girl again, a horrible thought considering she’s the closest thing to a love life he has.

His existence radically changes when a tenacious catcher bent on capturing and executing Xan forces him and his friends to flee their homes. As Xan quests to rescue his dream girl from the same fate that awaits him, he discovers that the catcher is part of a deadly conspiracy.

Xan’s sole path to safety is to become a mage, thereby embracing forces that nearly destroyed the world during the Wizards War. He must choose between two terrible options—saving the lives of those he loves or risking everyone by ushering in a new age of magic.

Title – Definitely puts me in a fantasy feel, I’ll say that for nothing. Not surprising, though, considering mages are mentioned right from the get-go.

Cover – I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it makes me think of Harry Potter. Maybe it’s just that the character whose hand and wrist we see looks like they’re wearing robes, and magic is involved. I don’t really know. But it really does make me think that this could be one of the redone adult covers for one of the Harry Potter books.

Blurb – There are a lot of unanswered questions that the blurb brings up, and here’s hoping the story addresses them (Why does someone want to capture Xan? Are apothecaries outlawed or something? Can anyone become a mage, or does Xan have that talent and that‘s why someone wants him dead?), because otherwise it just seems kind of chaotic and like things are jumping around. I get that blurbs and synopses have a short space to cram together a teaser and hopefully hook in potential readers, but I feel like there’s some key info missing as to why I should care that Xan’s being hunted down and why he needs to become a mage.

Touch of Iron, by Timandra Whitecastle

Is the Living Blade real or just a legend?

With it… Prince Bashan could win back his kingdom.
Master Telen Diaz can free himself of the burden from his past.
Owen Smith sees a once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain untold knowledge.

…but for Noraya Smith, the Living Blade will bring nothing but suffering and sorrow.

Title – I like it! It unsurprisingly puts me in the mind of faeries, or magic blocked by metal, and it caught my attention before I’d even had the chance to look the book up on Amazon.

Cover – Looks great, very professional, and I can see this being perfectly in place on my bookshelves. Whoever designed this cover deserves praise!

Blurb – It seems like the story will be told from alternating viewpoints, each from someone who wants the Living Blade (whatever exactly that is). Which appeals to me, because multiple converging quests from multiple viewpoints is nearly always fun to read, and I really hope that’s how the story will be told. I’m already curious as to why the Blade would be so different for Noraya, and curiosity is a big thing to draw in potential readers.

Bitter Ashes, by Sara C Roethle

Madeline knew her life was strange, and not just because she could sense the emotions of others. Having people die by your hand on two separate occasions can make a girl question her very existence. Still, she never thought she’d wake up in a world straight out of Norse myth. A world where corpses reanimate all on their own . . . and she’s supposed to be their executioner.

A normal person would run screaming into the night, but there’s something about dark and alluring Alaric that’s giving Madeline pause, and it’s not the fact that he turns a little feline from time to time.

Title – I’m thinking darkness, with a sense of loss.

Cover – I’m thinking gothic supernatural romance.

Blurb – I’m thinking this could be an okay urban fantasy, with some twists that I don’t often see in urban fantasy (though in fairness, I don’t read as much UF as I do straight-up fantasy, so maybe some of these themes are more common than I think). Definitely points for darkness and mystery, though based on the description, this really could go either way when it comes to attracting my attention, since it seems like something I’ll have to be in a very particular mood for.

Demon Frenzy, by Harvey Click

Sometimes going home again is a lot like going to hell.

Searching for her lost brother, Amy Jackson returns to her isolated hometown in the Appalachian Mountains. But Blackwood has changed. Now it’s run by a mysterious drug lord who has something more lethal than guns to protect him. He has demons—more vicious, venomous demons than even Hieronymus Bosch ever dreamed of—and after Amy witnesses an unspeakable atrocity he unleashes all the frenzied furies of hell against her. Soon she is stalked by snakewalkers, herky-jerkies, toadfaces, listeners, harpies, centicreepers, and the sinister crying man, who weeps while he torments his victims.

Title – Sounds like plenty of action and violence, in that sharp and fast way rather than long battles.

Cover – I’ll be honest here: this doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. When I see it, I think that what’s inside will be a graphic novel. Which isn’t a bad thing, but if i bought it thinking I’d get a graphic novel, I’d probably be a bit disappointed when that turned out to not be the case. Seems like the cover might be targeting the wrong crowd. Also, I tend to not find much appealing about boobalicious women showing a whole load of skin in battle situations. Aside from the general impracticalities of it, it usually signals to me that chances are this was meant to be a certain kind of fanservice rather than actually portraying a decent realistic female character. If I came across this randomly, I’d pass it by without a second thought.

Blurb – Sounds like it could creepy, likely with some grotesque imagery to boot. Possibly fun, if I’m in the mood for that sort of thing.

Half Wolf, by Aimee Easterling

Every werewolf knows the meek won’t inherit the earth.

Fen Young is a half-shifter whose inner beast is more mouse than wolf. Home is her castle, the only place she’s ever felt safe.

Enter Hunter Green, an uber-alpha strong enough to stop traffic with a single look. He’s handsome and enticing and seems like just the ticket to broaden Fen’s horizons…until the uber-alpha brushes off his admirer and summarily rejects her from her home pack.

Now treading water in the no-man’s land of outpack territory, Fen must confront a missing pack mate, a tantalizing stranger, and a serial killer targeting half-werewolves. Will she be able to shore up her waning power in time to save her friend…and half-breeds everywhere…before it’s too late?

Title – If this book didn’t have werewolves or wolf shifters or some kind, I’d be very disappointed after a title like that.

Cover – Nicely done, professional-looking, and it fits in very well with many other urban fantasy offerings on the market.

Blurb – Sounds like it’ll be the kind of urban fantasy that has a lot of overlaps with paranormal romance. Which I don’t often find to my taste, but eh, I’m still willing to give them a try if it seems like there might be something to it, so it’s not like I’m utterly opposed to paranormal romance.

The Adventure Tournament, by Nicholas Andrew

With the kingdom of Bolognia under attack by independent forces of random malcontents, it’s time to send out the army to deal with these troublemakers, right? No, first there’s money to be made! Send out the adventurers, those rogues who wander the countryside in search of fame and treasure, and take up all the good seats at the local pubs. Then, organize brackets, stage it for the public’s entertainment, offer a prize and call it The Adventure Tournament.

Remy Fairwyn is a ne’er-do-well academic who really wants to become an adventurer. When he hears of the tournament, he jumps at the opportunity, only to find himself out of the frying pan and in the fire. Add ingredients like corrupt organizations, professional wrestlers, narcoleptic thieves, drama kings and malfunctioning magical minutia, and his venture quickly becomes a recipe for disaster.

As the competition heats up, Remy discovers that the tournament itself could be putting the kingdom in danger, and it’s up to him to uncover the truth before destruction consumes all he holds dear.

Title – It seems lacking, like the author couldn’t really think of a better title and so just went with this.

Cover – I’m of two alternating opinions about this. The first is that this is a book for kids, maybe in the mid-grade range of just a bit younger. The second is that it isn’t, that it’s actually a book intended for older audiences, but then the art really feels out of place and makes me think that the book itself will be cartoony and won’t have a plot that I can really take seriously.

BlurbAdventurer, as a profession, isn’t something that I can really take too seriously in books, unless they’re books inspired by D&D settings. (They get a bit of a pass, because of the source material, but even then…) So the entire premise being about someone not who wants to have adventures but “be an adventurer” makes me think that the story is based on some RP sessions, might be fun with a decent sense of humour, but isn’t really something that I’d turn to when I want to read about a realistic fantasy world.

4 comments on “SPFBO 2 – First Impressions (Batch 4)

  1. Pingback: Publicity stunt(s) - Timandra Whitecastle

  2. Pingback: SPFBO Bibliotropic's First Impressions - Timandra Whitecastle

  3. Pingback: 2016 Year-End Post | Bibliotropic

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