Balance of Magic by Jeffrey L. Kohanek

I can always count on Jeffrey Kohanek’s books for fast paced entertainment and this didn’t disappoint. With lots of twisty behind the scenes plots as the balance of power shifts from one wizard to another, there are quite a few surprises along the way including the appearance of a magic-based dragon! Always good fun.

Faithless by Graham Austin-King

Faithless has a lot to offer for those who are looking for a good grimdark fantasy where the events are confined to one or two places - though they are vast places to be fair. Austin-King really has a touch for making you uncomfortable but unable to turn away or put down the book. There is always something you don't see coming from behind a turn. 

Cursebreaker by Carol A. Park

All in all, this is a good entry into the series with lots of interesting turns to the plot and some good character growth, maybe not a huge step in relationship growth for the two of them, but there is one and that’s a good sign.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Overall I did enjoy Rivers of London. It had some really good ideas and the mystery kept me guessing until the endgame, but the characters fell a bit flat for me. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in the series, but Rivers of London being the first book, it definitely set the base for a great series. I can see why many people seem to love it, and though we need to work on each other a bit more, I believe we'll get there in the end. 

The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards

While everything important to this book is tied up, there are lots of hints to draw a person back to the next book to see how the mysteries surrounding Rune and company play out. But honestly, I’m not needing much in the way of enticements to come back, consider me firmly on the bandwagon.

The Bone Ships by RJ Barker

The Bone Ships is the nautical fantasy I didn't know I needed in my life. I loved the characters who weren't just "good" or "bad", I loved the different creatures that made this world so vivid and mysterious, I loved how Jude Owusu made me feel and react to his reading. If you are looking for a character-driven fantasy, which is not filled with fighting scenes but focuses more on exploring human nature, then look no further. I'm pretty sure the Tide Child and the arakeesian would be grateful for the company of another adventurer.

Pilgrim’s Storm Brooding by Damien Black

Pilgrim's Storm Brooding lives up to its precedessors and then takes things up on another level. We have all of our old friends back, but of course there are some new characters you might find interesting. I'm seriously awed what a vast world Black built within these pages which are rich with history, myths, and life. A truly epic fantasy story. 

Carved from Stone and Dream by T. Frohock

It’s the details that impress me, the weaving together of events and placement of bread crumbs, small thoughtful comments that get followed through with later, or hit us with horror when the understanding dawns. The yellow scarf that tells us everything about Rafael’s personality while doing dual duty as a scene setter. The hints about Sam that later make my heart pound through my chest when I realize just who it is that our boy is getting ready to meet. And especially the follow-through on Martinez, who could have easily been a throwaway character, but served to show us the impact and repercussions of a tough decision. These are the things that raise a story up to the next level for me but coupled with everything else, just made this a stellar read.

We Are The Dead by Mike Shackle

There were moments in the story where you could see the trail, the event or the thing that had to happen to push or spur that character forward to their path. But then there were also times that the story took a total left, and I was like, What the hell just happened here? When you read a lot, those surprise moments are rare so the fact that there were a few; impressed me.

Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence

Dispel Illusion brings a most satisfying ending to the Impossible Times trilogy. The threads are closed seamlessly and there aren't unanswered questions left. Maybe a few smaller ones, but in general, you can't have much complains. I had high expectations for Dispel Illusion, and it didn't disappoint. Just as full of heart, and life lessons as the previous books. I highly recommend the whole trilogy if you'd like to dive into a tale about time travelling, love, friendship, decisions and second chances.

Shadows by R.J. Furness

As you might have gathered at this point, Shadows wasn't really a book that I could enjoy. It has the potential to be intersting, but it just falls flat at the execution. I did like the fox creature though, that was cool. I'm pretty sure as she discovers her talents and the world she'll learn a lot more about these creatures, the magic and most of all herself. She'll need it.

SPFBO: King of Ash and Bone by Melissa Wright

We've read and reviewed this book for SPFBO5. Please keep in mind these are personal thoughts only. We will update this post as the judges read along and add their opinions. This book has already been eliminated from the competition, but one of us liked it enough to write a full review.

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