May Blog – SPFBO8 Begins!

Greetings readers, authors and fellow bloggers!

Well, it has been a hell of a two weeks for me. I have a new position at work, which is demanding physically and mentally but it does come with a job satisfaction my other role lacked. It makes it worthwhile. Life has been a little chaotic and very busy this month, which is why I haven’t released any book reviews and this blog is rather late.

Image courtesy of Mark Lawrence’s blog

So exciting news first, before I go into the books I have read this month. I am very proud to represent Before We Go Blog judging team in #SPFBO8 this year. For those who don’t know, SPFBO is the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off. Created by author Mark Lawrence in 2015, SPFBO has done so much for self-published fantasy, which has become increasingly popular and terrific in quality and content. Mark’s mission statement on his blog says it best:

The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.

Needless to say my TBR is filled with a huge amount of self published fantasy books, many who are former semi-finalists and finalists from previous years of SPFBO. Some authors have even found publishing contracts through the exposure the competition gives them, which is fantastic. It really can make a difference for these incredibly talented and hard working authors.

I am so excited to be part of the Before We Go Blog team with the fantastic Beth Tabler leading the way as our captain. Beth has been so supportive and kind to invite me on to the blog and my reviews are shared through the website as well as here. You should definitely go and check Before We Go Blog out. There are a whole host of amazing reviewers and bloggers on there, some of which I have the pleasure of working with on SPFBO8. Also go and check out the blogs awesome SPFBO8 page and the books we will be reading and reviewing over the coming months –

Another reason why I haven’t released any reviews lately is I have been struggling with my mental health recently and having a troubling bout of imposter syndrome. My confidence in my writing has been low of late and I have fought with myself about whether I should carry on, whether I am good enough to blog or review books. Having depression can play some horrible tricks on the mind and sometimes its like facing a barrage of criticism from everyone, except its my own voice, my own head criticising me. I voiced my worries on Twitter and as usual the book community offered so much support and kind words that really helped lift me out of my depressive thoughts. Once again, I am so, SO grateful for this community that is such an inclusive, kind-hearted bunch of people. Thank you all!

Okay, now lets talk some books!

May’s marvellous reads

Three book covers for Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio, Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero and Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

I finished Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio earlier this month and this has turned out to be the most captivating science fiction novel I have read in recent years. My review for this will follow, but, in short, I bloody loved this book. At 600 pages it had perfect pacing, not a single glimpse of sagging. And the prose? Some of the most beautiful, poetic and philosophical prose I have read in a very long time. Ruocchio writes from the main character, Hadrian’s, perspective and his voice is strong throughout. I can not wait to read the second book.

Next I read and finished Burn Red Skies last week. Written by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero, this we a SPFBO7 finalist and there is a reason why. You can feel the enthusiasm and love for this world through every word on the page. Kerstin clearly had a ball writing this fantastic story. An in depth review will follow on Wednesday, but when you have airships, dragons, an imaginative magic system and characters that leap of the page, you can’t go wrong. Loved it!

Lastly I am currently reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Set in the 1920’s, the Jazz Age, a young girl called Casiopea inadvertently releases the Mayan God of death and sends her on a harrowing, life-changing journey across Mexico. I am only 15% in, but Silvia’s authorial voice is clearly defined. Drawing upon Mexican folklore and a text book knowledge of the places and lands, Silvia has captivated me with this story. Casiopea is a delightful character brimming with unseen confidence and snark. I have a feeling this will be a magical tail. I hope to finish it next week and will release my review soon after.

After that, I will be deep in my SPFBO reading with plenty of books to get through. Whilst I will be tweeting and teasing about the books I am reading, all reviews for those books will be through Before We Go blog during the competition. I will be publishing those reviews on my website at a later date or if the book is knocked out.

A book podcast is coming….

Now for my second piece of exciting news! As an extension of this blog I am launching a brand new podcast on the We Made This network, called Turn of a Page. It will be a 10 part, fortnightly series which takes a look at books; its readers, authors, bloggers and the wider book culture. Each episode I will have a guest on, they could be a blogger, a booktuber, an author, an editor etc, and we talk about their favourite books, how they got into book blogging/tubbing, or a particular authors writing process, what self publishing entails, hints and tips for reviewing books and general conversation of book culture.

I already have my first three guests confirmed and more exciting folks lined up. I am deep in development and production begins in a couple of weeks time. I am incredibly excited about this and hope it also gives authors, bloggers and booktubers added exposure.

Logo and first guest will be announced very soon, so watch this space people!

In other podcast news, Make It So: A Star Trek Picard podcast wrapped up with the final episode on May 6th. In what has been, for the most part, a fun season of Star Trek, I was hugely let down by the finale, which I thought was one of the weakest episodes. Rushed, awful pacing, and truncated storytelling let this episode down and I don’t think I have even been more frustrated or angry on a podcast before. You can listen to that here. We will be recording a season overview episode soon and I will let you know when that is released.

And that’s all for now folks. Thank you for reading, thank you for your support I truly appreciate it. I will keep you updated on my SPFBO progress (As much as I can reveal anyway, ‘eyes only’ and all that) and also give you more news on Turn of a Page during the week.

Until then keep reading and revel in the destruction of your TBR.

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