Thoughtful Thursday: SPFBO Post #2

Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

It’s time for Round Two of FanLit’s participation in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) in which 300 self-published fantasy authors contributed their work to be reviewed by 10 fantasy review blogs.

Worth a read!

In Round One, we presented six of our assigned books and asked you to guess, based on cover art and blurb, which book we’d like best. Well, we’ve read the books and are impressed that our readers, for the most part, identified the best books without actually reading them. Here is our runner-up and winner:

Runner-up: Bone Dry by Cady Vance is a quick-paced engaging story with likeable characters and competent writing. We didn’t find anything original or surprising about it — it contains the same elements you’d expect in any typical teenage drama — but it’s a solid novel that will appeal to young adults who enjoy paranormal romance.

Winning so far!

Winner of our first round and moving on to compete in our second round (below): The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis is a fairly strong YA fantasy with a smooth pace, some intriguing plot developments, engaging characters (including a strong minority protagonist), and a couple of scenes with some excellent imagery. World-building is a little slim, it becomes formulaic at times, and it definitely needs an editor, but it beats out Bone Dry because it is more ambitions in terms of complexity of character and plot. The Shadow Soul is currently FREE at Amazon. (If you correctly guessed The Shadow Soul on the Round One post, you’ll be entered into the drawing to win the giveaway.)

Okay, so now we’re on to ROUND TWO! Here are the next six books we’ll be reading. As before, we’re asking YOU to choose the book you think will move on to our next round. You can choose one of the books below (all you’ll have to go on, unless you click the link and buy these books, is the cover art and blurb) OR you can choose the winner of our first round, The Shadow Soul. Which book will move on?


The Reaper Realm: Threads of Compassion by K.A. Lentz — You’d never suspect by my elven appearance, but once I was a man, a Celt to be precise. I had a mother, father, and sister to look after. I hunted game in the forest and fought battles in defense of my homeland.

Now, what am I? Who am I? I don’t know anymore. People of this realm call me a monster, a murderer for the things I’ve done. I live hidden in shadow, exiled from a world which fears the very mention of me; a world so different from my own. Why do these vile acts, you may ask? I’ve no choice; my master controls my blade and bears it mercilessly down upon the innocent. She, and others known to us as Reapers, dominate this world with a malevolent hand, cursing lives and ending them on a whim, making wretched those trapped within the Reaper realm.

Today, my master sent me through the barrier which imprisons us all — even our vile Overlords — in this aberrant existence. How’s my passage possible? I’ve no notion. Mayhap the answer lies with the woman I’ve been sent to retrieve. Whatever the reason, it can’t bode well. If these malefic beings ever freed themselves from this realm, nothing would be safe from their bloodthirsty dominion.


A Flight of Marewings by Kristin S. Walker — Marewings: part horse, part demon, all monster. Only the bravest riders dare to catch and tame them, and most die in the attempt. Not the best choice for a young woman who only knows how to run a farm.

But Korinna is running out of options. Her father, the duke of Kyratia City, danced himself to death in a strange madness. He wanted her to marry his warlord, Galenos, and inherit his titles. But the power-hungry Council seized control of the city and left her with nothing. Her father’s ghost haunts her, demanding more.

The duke’s mage warns that the dancing madness is spreading while the usurping Council does nothing. Galenos promises to take the city back by force, but then he won’t need Korinna. She’s not strong enough to fight alongside him — unless she becomes a marewing rider.

One chance to catch a marewing and learn to fly. Or her father’s spirit could haunt her forever.


Estranged by Alex Fedyr — Kalei hates touching. Especially if it is a hug. After all, her mother was killed by one.

Kalei was born and raised in Celan, the first city to have an Estranged problem. It was seventeen years ago when they appeared, and the citizens learned the hard truth: that it only takes a bit of skin-on-skin contact to turn their loved ones into corpses, or Estranged. No one really knows why some people turn and some people die, they just know that anyone touched is gone.

And Kalei wants them to stay gone. But, being a police officer in the city, she witnesses every day the damage done by Estranged. Black nails mark these harbingers of death. Seeking the high they get from every piece of skin they touch, the Estranged crush the lives of Celan’s citizens with alarming ease.

They killed her mother for a high, and now Kalei wants to wipe them out of existence before they can seek another. But she can’t. Only the Wardens are equipped to do so, and she will do anything to be inducted into their ranks.

But will they accept her now that she has turned Estranged?


Tom’s Inheritance by T.J. Green — When Tom accidentally crosses to the Otherworld in search of his missing grandfather, he is dismayed to learn of another reason why he’s been drawn to this mystical land. The Lady of the Lake has a task for him. He must travel to Avalon and wake King Arthur from his enchanted sleep. Tom discovers the ancient stories are real – and so are ancient enemies.

A magical tale of fantasy and fun, for older children and all lovers of Arthurian legend.


Royal Deception by Denae Christine — A Prince who can shift his arms into swords, a tutor who can shift his arms into wings, and a madman who wants to kill them both…

Prince Symon is a living weapon. Literally. Descended from a diminishing line of royal blade shifters, thirteen-year-old Symon can shift his arms into swords. He thinks nothing can harm him until merfolk kill his younger brother.

What can Symon do when faced with things he can’t fight, like nightmares foretelling his death? Or a kingdom on the brink of civil war? Torn between his uncle who persecutes animal shifters and his tutor who is a bird shifter, Symon feels powerless to protect his kingdom, let alone himself. When Symon and his best friend Lana are targeted by Claur, a foreign rebel determined to usurp the throne, magic alone will not save them.

Symon will have to choose whom to trust, and whom to kill.


Dark Horde Rising by Iain Hope — A thousand years have passed since the Elder Kingdoms were lost. Once the Elder races ruled all the northern lands and their knowledge and power were legend. What calamity befell them, none now know.

Centuries on and the north is a land where fell beasts and evil creatures roam unchecked, save in one place, the Wildlands of Darylor. Here mankind has slowly begun to explore and settle where once the Elder ruled, and within those lands, built amidst the ruins of a lost Elder city, lies the College of Magic. Inside, mankind seeks to rediscover the lost magics of old, but in secret one man desires the power to rule all and will stop at nothing to achieve his dream.

Meanwhile, in the city of Shandrilos, in the shadow of the College of Magic, a groups of friends come together. Jon ‘Bear’ Madraig, fighter and mage, and his best friend the roguish swordsman and knight, Darin of Kenarth come to meet old friends and relive past adventures. The master mage, Arkadi Talcost and the beautiful druid, Rebba Korran, seek only to relax and enjoy some time away from the demands of their work and the College. For these friends, this is merely a reunion. However, for Zara Halven, the notorious Whore of Ostia, and for the monk, Garon Vale, the visit to Shandrilos is more; for one it is a chance for redemption and for the other it is a test of faith. Yet for the last of the friends, the visit to Shandrilos is the most important of all. For the huntress, Nat Bero it is a chance for forgiveness… and for revenge.

These friends will be caught up in events that will change their lives forever, for the secret behind the destruction of the Elder is about to come to light…


So, readers, which novel will move on to our next round? Remember that it could be the winner of our first round (The Shadow Soul) or one of these new books. One of the readers who guesses correctly gets a Kindle copy of the book OR a Kindle copy of the overall SPFBO winner OR you can choose a book from our stacks.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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12 comments

  1. Maurice Robinson /

    The Reaper Realm: Threads of Compassion

  2. If we guessed the first round correctly, do we sit out this and the future ones? Or can we still try to guess?

  3. Guessing by the blurb, I think this round is going to be between The Reaper Realm and Dark Horde Rising.

    The Reaper Realm it is! *fingers crossed*

  4. margo /

    I’m thinking Dark Horde Rising, although I don’t like the cover, because photos. I’m also intrigued by A Flight of Merewings, and I do like that cover.
    I didn’t vote in the first round,but apparently I “bought” The Shadow Soul in 2015, so I did vote for it in a sense. Your evaluation keeps it on my TBR!

  5. E. J. Jones /

    I think Estranged could either be really good or really bad, and I know almost nothing about The Shadow Soul … I’ll take a chance on Estranged.

  6. Phil Harris /

    Dark Horde Rising by Iain Hope :-)

  7. Margriet Vollema /
    Dark Horde Rising!
  8. Sandy Giden /

    Dark Horde Rising.

  9. Chloe /

    Dark Horde Rising

  10. The Reaper Realm: Threads of Compassion! The blurb sounds interesting!

  11. THE SHADOW SOUL prevailed in Round Two. Go here for a chance to guess in Round Three!

    http://www.fantasyliterature.com/giveaway/thoughtful-thursday-spfbo-post-3/

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