To be clear, this is just announcing the first 15 books, not the giveaway itself. That will happen when I hit 100.
Originally, I was going to offer all 100 books in the giveaway, and give out 50 copies. But, that sounded kind of overwhelming for both people in the giveaway, and for myself. If I were to include even a 2 sentence pitch for each book, the post would still be fucking enormous. So, I decided to give away 1 bloggers worth of books instead, for a total 30 books, and 50 copies given away. This has some downsides though, because it’s been killer trying to decide which ones to give away.
Out of the 50 books I read so far, I really really enjoyed 34 of them. I spent days whittling this list down to 15, there were 4 that were particularly agonizing to cut from the list, and I may do something else with them later. Shout out to Empire of the Dead, Souls of Astraeus, and Valley of Embers, and Exercise of Vital Powers – gutted me I couldn’t include them. 🙁
Since I had so many that I liked enough to give away, I tried to pick a diverse grouping from across as many genres as I could, there should be something for everyone by the time I’m done.
If your book didn’t get on the list it definitely doesn’t mean I didn’t like your book!
For the sake of transparency, I’ll be honest and say that some of these that made the list are from authors I know, but some authors I know I had to cut, unfortunately. Unlike the official spfbo rules, I didn’t limit myself to unknown authors. The next list of 15 will be all brand new authors to me since I’ve already read the works by authors I’m semi-familiar with.
EDIT: Well, Fuck. I really, REALLY wanted to include the covers, but it’s just messing up my formatting something bad. After 2 hours of trying to fix it I give up, it’ll look right on PC and terrible on mobile, or vise versa.
- Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe – I’m picking this one because it’s so much fun. I have a deep love for defined magic systems, and the more complex and detailed the better so long as it stays consistent. For a LitRPG mixed with epic fantasy I really enjoyed the main character, sometimes in litrpg the characters are lacking and the plot is more intense – but this book is equal plot and character. I think the struggles the mc goes through with ocd and social disorder really makes that character stand out as a protagonist. I’ve read this book twice and also listened to the audiobook which is simply fantastic, narrated by Nick Podehl. If you like audiobooks I’d highly suggest giving that one a shot. I’m not surprised at all this received a semi final nod. amazon link
- Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron – This was my first book where dragons were able to take human form, and although it’s not the first book to do that, the way it was done was so much fun. The story follows a reject dragon who’s trying to prove himself worthy of living, his mother finds him disgusting due to his lack of draconic instincts and is contemplating eating him. Mages, spirits, spells, urban fantasy with amazing side characters, I had a blast with this book. NDFL also has an amazing audiobook narrated by Vikas Adam, his Bethesda and Bob absolutely crack me up, had me loving the audiobook from the first chapter. amazon link
- A Star Reckoners Lot by Darrell Drake – This book has such a unique setting and magic system it really stood apart for me. The characters were also very endearing, characters suffering from depression are always an interesting read for me, and I wish there were more of them in fantasy. An emotional roller coaster of a book that can make you laugh and also make you extremely sad, it had a little bit of everything. I was excited to see when this one got the semi final nomination. amazon link
- Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J Hayes – This book blew me away, it’s gritty, it’s real, it has pirates and monsters. The characters in this story were so engaging, the world was so well built that it was a truly stunning read. It was one of the best edited books of the bunch that I’ve read so far, it was clean and polished. I absolutely recommend this for anyone who wants a gritty darker tale of pirates trying to save their society from being purged out by countries that are sick of their pirate bullshit. This is an extremely strong contender that’s currently a semi finalist. amazon link
- Where The Waters Turn Black by Benedict Patrick – Strong cover game, Benedict! This book won the cover contest and man is the cover just gorgeous. This is a book that takes fantasy back to its roots in folk tale, myth and legend. I absolutely loved this charming story with a unique setting among islands in an Atoll. The main character was endearing, I cared about her and her journey – and I am always a sucker for an animal companion. I loved this book, like it’s predecessor, there are interlude short stories that give the world greater depth by explaining some of the lore of the world. It’s just so fresh and different I couldn’t not include it. amazon link
- Jaeths Eye by KS Villoso – One of the more complex books I’ve read, it was a tale with characters that were easy to relate to and brought out your emotions, both good and bad – sometimes it’s fun to get frustrated with characters. Cough, Enosh. Much of fantasy is based around the heroes, or the royalty and leaders of nations – but this book is about the common person, and I love that in fantasy. It’s super complex and you don’t know where the story is going until about halfway through, but if you stick around you’re in for a treat. Incredibly detailed world building full of monsters and mystery. amazon link
- Heart of Stone by Ben Galley – I am a huge military fantasy fan, I will read anything with the tag military fantasy. I can also read hack and slash fluff and have a great time. But, what makes this story special is that it’s so much more than just military fantasy, or action fluff. The main character is a golem and has been enslaved to masters for 400 years, he’s tired, he’s depressed, he’s suicidal and his journey is touching and amazing. This book brought out genuine emotions, it may be because I’ve suffered severe depression myself, but this book hit me in all the feels. The side characters were well developed, the world was well developed, and the story was well told. This book ticked all of my boxes and more. amazon link
- The Half Killed by Quenby Olson – I’m not usually a fan of Victorian settings, so when I read a Victorian stylized book and enjoy it, I note it. This book was so beautifully written, one of the more prosey books with super immersive writing the world felt real and tangible. The main character is a medium of sorts living in London during an unprecedented, and ill-omened heat wave that’s crushing the people. There are people dying and many stay indoors during the day because of the unbearable heat. It was a unique story told in the second person that just swept me right into the narrative. amazon link
- Devils Night Dawning by Damien Black – This book has an incredibly detailed world, the most detailed world building of any of the books I’ve read, not just in spfbo. This book will be for people who love details, incredible description, in depth world building, in depth lore, and great characters. One of the better written books it felt professional and polished. This story follows a TON of characters, and it’s set in a world where demons are real and exorcisms are a common occurrence. A Friar and his Acolyte have to try and stop an evil mage from opening the gates of hell. This one received a hard to earn 5 star review from Kitty G, and is a semi finalist. amazon link
- Faithless by Graham Austin-King – A very unique religion based on the forge and blacksmithing, this is a two POV book that follows a young man who’s been dropped off at a slave mine because the family needs money, and an acolyte in the temple of the Forge Father. The slave mine rests under the temple and provides ore and supplies for the priests above. There are twists and turns, and you don’t know which characters are safe – poor decisions have serious consequences and not all of the side characters make it. Gritty, dark, real and full of surprises I absolutely loved this one. This is another very strong contender that’s currently a semi finalist. amazon link
- Winters Reach by Craig Schaefer – I always take note when a book without a lot of ‘action’ catches my attention – because it means the character and the plotline have my full attention. I really enjoyed the complex back stabbing in this book, and the characters were very well developed. It’s a world where underground crime can have serious consequences – you never know when the Owl will come and make you vomit cockroaches until you choke to death. This one is yet another semi finalist! The competition is legit this year. amazon link
- The White Tower by Michael Wisehart – The complexity of this book was mind numbing, there were 19 povs. That may be too many for some, but since I already knew the POV’s being introduced later on it wasn’t jarring for me. The world was super complex, the characters were well developed and I was connected with them. The White Tower is trying to kidnap and force magic wielders into working for them, if they won’t, they are tortured to death. Magic wielders are considered evil, and there’s a band of wielders supporting an underground railroad of sorts trying to thwart the White Towers soldiers. amazon link
- A Threat of Shadows by J. A. Andrews – I really liked the concept behind the magic system in this book. Peoples souls can be trapped in Reservoir gems creating a glowing red jewel, as the persons body/life force fades, shadows and black swirls start forming in the gem. When the gem goes black, it means the person has died. A man has accidentally trapped his wife’s soul in a gem trying to save her from a snake bite, he’s slowing watching it fade to black and he has to fix her before it’s too late. This one has gotten the semi finalist nomination by Fantasy Book Review, well deserved. amazon link
- Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer – There was a twist to this end of the world kind of story, sort of turning the trope on its head, and I really liked that. Very well developed characters, interesting plot line, and clean writing made for a very nice book. The dynamic between the two brothers in this book was one of my more favored sibling stories of all the ones I’ve read so far, and there have been a bunch. This is another semi finalist from Kitty G’s grouping. amazon link
- Path of Man by Matt Moss – As much as I enjoy a sprawling epic that’s 650 pages with an intense amount of POVs, I need breaks from those kinds of books. A tightly plotted shorter book that still has depth to it is a great palate cleanser. You get to see two sides of a war in this book, there’s religion and politics, and multiple well developed characters. It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen a magic system centered around magic stones, giving people who wield them powers. amazon link