#SPFBO Reviews – next up

As per my blog post last week, I am reviewing the opening excerpt of the fantasy books in my group (Lynn’s Book Blog) who are partaking in Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO competition.

Next up are:

Spark of Defiance: Games of Fire Book 1 by Autumn M Birt


Goblin Fruit (Gobbled book one) by S.E Burr

So, without further ado here are my scores and corresponding reviews: Oh, and don’t forget if you want to read an excerpt or download a book yourself just click on the title next to my score and it will whisk you over to Amazon.

Spark of Defiance 8/10

Ok, first things first. I need to get this off my chest. I have a thing about character names, particularly ones that are tricky to pronounce or are out of the ordinary. Don’t get me wrong I get why unusual names are needed, this is a fantastical world after all, and your bog standard Frank and John just wouldn’t cut it. I’m totally down with that!

The thing is (and this is very personal to me, so hasn’t been reflected in the overall score) I’ve often given up on books when I just can’t seem to get past the name thing. What I mean by that is, I often find myself pondering over whether I’m pronouncing the names correctly rather than getting completely immersed in the story. The only reason I mention this now is to explain why it took me longer to get into this excerpt than it would usually. I found myself distracted by the different names and had to read this excerpt twice to ensure I gave it a fair shot.

That being said, once I’d got used to the various names of the characters, this is a pretty great read. Again, Spark of Defiance has all the hallmarks of a brilliant epic fantasy. I was intrigued enough by the excerpt to want to find out more about the world of Myrrah, it’s inhabitants, and the concept of elemental magic. I wanted to know why some characters appeared to be repressed because of their abilities, why Zhao has returned home to see his sister only to be received coldly, and why her child seemed to be particularly gifted. In chapter two we are introduced to Sinika who is being held prisoner, and by all accounts no longer an elemental.

I got the sense that there was already some history between the characters that I didn’t know about, and I wondered whether this was a follow on series of some sort. When I checked out the other books written by this author I found that I wasn’t far off the mark. The Rise of the Fifth order series appears to set up the world and the characters / politics / history within it and this series, Games of Fire– of which Sparks of Defiance is the first book of- a follow on from that. The author explains that both series can be read as standalones but are a part of the same world and include some of the same characters.

I would go far as to say that I predict the rest of the book will be a pretty impressive read. For now it’s a solid 8/10.

Product Details

Please note the author has changed her cover than previously listed in Lynn’s Book Blog. I think this was a good choice, this cover is a much better representation of the story in my opinion.

Goblin Fruit  7/10

This is a young adult fantasy revolving around two female protagonists Clara and Audrey both of whom have lost a relative to catalepsy caused by taking the ‘goblin fruit’. The excerpt introduces the reader to the two girls, who meet at a medical unit for goblin fruit users. The fruit is a highly addictive drug that can either affect the user immediately, and put them in a catatonic state, or will eventually do so after several uses. Either way, it would appear, if you use goblin fruit you will end up a drooling, mindless mess. Not only that, everyone else is forced to wear gloves so that they do not come into contact with the fruit essence that can seep from a users hands. I love this added little twist, lends a bit of extra danger to the story and prevents the kind of physical contact we take for granted, like holding someone’s hand.

It is, or at least appears to be, a cautionary tale of drug abuse but with a twist. I don’t think they’re called goblin fruit for nothing! I’m assuming the rest of the book will delve into the fantastical world of goblins and, given I am a huge fantasy, young adult book fan, (even though I am WELL past that age group) this book has certainly intrigued me enough to want to see what happens next.

My only gripe, and it is a small one, is the way the author has defined the different protagonists voice. The author moves between Audrey and Clara’s point of view chapter by chapter, and whilst I have no problem with this at all, I was a little thrown that this was denoted by different text, rather than, say, using the character’s name at the beginning of each chapter. It’s not a big thing, and hasn’t affected my score but just a niggle I wanted to point out.

This starts as an easy, well paced young adult read and I give the excerpt a solid 7 /10.

That’s it for this weeks reviews. Up next are:

A Gaze of Flint by Sandy Hyatt-James and The Age of Mages by Ilana Waters.

Until then folks!


#travellingbook is on its travels!

You couldn’t be more surprised than me that I got a response from my #travellingbook experiment. Read my blog post about it HERE.

In fact, I was so surprised that I had a little blub in the middle of a children’s park surrounded by parents and their kids. They must have thought I was a little unhinged, my own kids certainly did!

If the truth be known, I thought that there was no way I would get any response, let alone for the finder to tell me about it, take some beautiful photos and then promise to pass my book on!

For those of you who haven’t already read the #travellingbook blog post, here’s a bit of background information.

On Tuesday 30th May I took a trip to Box Hill in Surrey with my mum and two children. We had a wonderful day roaming around, taking in the views, and *almost* getting lost in the forest.

The previous day I had already left two copies of The Soul Guide in two separate places in London as part of my #travellingbook experiment.

Before we left for Box Hill I went to collect my mum, who lives around the corner. She was with me the previous day when I left two copies of The Soul Guide in London. This time, I didn’t take a copy of The Soul Guide when I went to collect her. The day was a bit overcast and rain was forecast. I thought that it was possible if I left the book in the open it would get ruined and no-one wants to read a soggy book right?

BUT, something told me to go back home and pick up a book up anyway. I could decide once I was at Box Hill whether I would leave it behind or not, weather permitting and all that.

Of course, in the end, I did choose to leave a copy of The Soul Guide behind and I’m so glad that I did because the next morning I was updating my Facebook author page feed and was bowled over at receiving the following photos and comments:

Call it fate, call it serendipity, call it chance. All I know is, this lady, Wendy, appeared to be the perfect person to pick up the book and take it home. So, thank you Wendy for picking The Soul Guide up, for taking these beautiful photos, and for agreeing to pass on my book. I hope it has a long, and well-travelled journey. I will certainly be keeping an interested eye out, and keeping you all updated of course!

Out of the three books that I left this is the only response I’ve had so far. Maybe the other two books ended up in the bin, maybe they were picked up and the person who found them just aren’t into posting on social media (which is fair enough). Maybe the person who found it just isn’t into reading. Maybe both books are still waiting to be found? Maybe they are being read and the finder doesn’t want to post but will pass it on and the next person will? Who knows.

Sometimes all it takes is a crazy idea, a dash of chance, a spot of luck and the hand of fate. Whatever it was, I’m grateful for the response I have received so far, and am looking forward to seeing where The Soul Guide ends up next. #travellingbook #thesoulguideseries