Blight Marked by Josh Erikson

Blight Marked sets the bar one step higher yet and though the story concludes nicely, it also sets up the next installment to be something we can look forward to. Blight Marked is a fast, witty and emotional roller-coaster ride and I can't wait to see what the next stop will bring. 

The Mage-Born Anthology by Kayleigh Nicol

I almost wished I could have read this anthology before Sorcerous Rivalry just because there was such a bittersweet feel to the whole book, with getting to see their hopes and dreams and knowing the turn their lives take. All in all, this is nice addition to the series if you are looking to round out the sibling’s characters or just need an excuse to revisit the world.

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. 

What do we plan for 2020?

Oh hey, we are putting this post out in a more timely fashion than last year! Do we deserve an applaud, or what?

Last year we more or less failed at our plans, but we also had a lot of things come up we absolutely didn't anticipate. Such as getting to be a judging blog for SPFBO, me starting a part-time freelance business, going to Dublin for WorldCon among other things. But our enthusiasm is still strong, and we are here again to set up some reachable goals so we could watch how much we actually achive (or not) in this year ahead.

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 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.

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.

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.

Angel’s Ink by Jocelynn Drake

Despite my complaints, I still enjoyed Angel's Ink. Books with snarky protagonists are my weaknesses and besides I really dug the idea of a magical tattoo shop. Especially one in which there is at least one person with a great music taste - fun fact, when I almost got my first tattoo, I bonded with my artist over my favourite Hungarian band, so that was cool and set the mood early on. The Asylum Tales (I swear this wasn't an inspiration for my feature) has the potential to be a good series if it gets a bit cleared up and the world itself gets a bit more attention.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Even though I didn't fell in love as much with The Ten Thousand Doors, I still recommend it for those who are looking for a heartwarming story about love, about never giving up and taking your life into your own hands. Harrow's debut novel is absolutely worths the attention and I'm pretty sure she'll be opening many Doors in the literary world in the coming years.

Eye of Obscurance by Jeffrey L. Kohanek

Jeffrey L. Kohanek has a knack for giving them fun personalities and lots of humorous interactions with one another. This is popcorn so it’s light on some of the rounding out of the characters - we do see clear motivations but occasionally there is a leap to get us from point a to b in the story, that’s ok too because this is unapologetically fun and isn’t trying to be anything else.

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

Limited Wish, the second book of the Impossible Times trilogy is just as fast paced, intriguing and full of heart as the first book was. Maybe even more so. Maybe some twists didn't sit as well and was a bit predictable at places, but I'm just really nitpicking here. I would have jumped right at book 3 if I could, but alas, I have to wait - impatiently - for it to be released.

Grimdark Magazine #19 by Adrian Collins

After a well deserved break - Adrian, chief editor of Grimdark Magazine (GDM) got married, congrats once again! - the Nineteenth issue was released with a strong line of contributors. You can read a short stories from Joe Abercrombie, Trudi Canavan, Alan Baxter, Michael R. Fletcher and Lee Murray, an interview with Geoff Brown and Syama Pedersen, two book reviews of The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht and Blood of an Exile by Brian Naslund, plus an article from T. R. Nepper.

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