If you saw my last post and were like “Yes, very nice, but what is this SPSFC of which you blog?” well I am glad you asked!
The SPSFC is the Self Published Science Fiction Competition and it is a brand new shiny annual competition designed to take around 300 books that are voluntarily submitted, vet them through ten teams of judges, and select one book as the very best of those 300 books!
As with all competitions there are certain criteria for book selections, which may or may not change slightly from year to year. This inaugural year is teaching the hosts and judges a lot! Our current criteria does include (but is not limited to) the book must be self published, over a certain word count, has to be SciFi, and either a standalone or the first in series.
The concept is loosely based upon the popular SPFBO and hopes to bring forth lots of reviews and eyes upon books! For this first round each team of judges (we’ll meet Team Red Stars in an upcoming post soon) starts with around 30 books apiece, and we’ll read 10-20% of each of those books then select ten books for the team to read in full. Once we’ve read those we will pass the top three books on to the greater group of all judges, and so will each of the other teams. Every judge will read all of those thirty and then we’ll winnow them down to a top ten, and then top one. It will be quite the process!
I can say that everyone really is very excited and eager to dive into these books! This will be a lot of reading and a lot of fun. I truly hope you follow along and hopefully you also discover some new to you books that are bright stars in the sky!
And that in a nutshell is this wondrous thing we call the SPSFC!
Hello and welcome to Team Red Stars’ list of books to read for the first ever annual Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC)! I am thrilled and honored to be leading a team of judges for this year’s competition, and we will be meeting each of them in another blog post very soon! However this post is alllll about the BOOKS! You see the SPSFC takes around 300 self published SciFi books, ten teams of judges, divides those books between the teams, and then fierce reading and reviewing battles take place through a few rounds until there is a clear winner! Ok that is a bit of an oversimplification, but the core concepts are there! I’ll post another blog shortly diving into the details of the SPSFC for those interested in a bit more info. So moving along: the Team I am honored to be a part of gets to enjoy reading the following books to kick off our part of the SPSFC! So without further ado please allow us to unveil the 31 books that have been allocated to Team Red Stars: (ok one more “ado” please let me know which cover is your fave!)
Y’all know I love a good Space Opera! The galaxy wide themes, everything living at stake, huge empires colliding, all of it makes for very dramatic stories! However in the midst of those mighty Space Operas it is easy to miss out on all the little side stories that would combine together into the greater tale. That’s what reading The Long Lost War by Jeff Walker brought to my mind!
This brief SciFi story is cinematic in nature! It felt like something that would easily translate to the big screen, and dealt with deep questions while not slowing down the ever moving plot line!
It is a short SciFi story that features clones and warring forces, and one clone who seeks to question everything going on around them. One who needs to know the why of things. Is there a purpose to this war? How long has it been fought? What are the goals? Can it be stopped? Why isn’t anyone else asking these questions?
This story delivers. It pushes you to think and leaves you wondering. Really fun, quick to read, I recommend giving this SciFi a read!
Let me just start out by saying you should read The Wrack by John Bierce! This book is such a unique Fantasy! I’m really happy I had the opportunity to join in on this blog tour featuring this book and thankful to Storytellers On Tour for allowing me to participate! Please click that link to view the tour schedule so that you can see all the great reviews by other reader/reviewers who also took part. Ok ok I know you’re interested in what this book is all about so without further ado I present to you the book blurb:
The Wrack by John Bierce
Published: April 23, 2020
Genre: Epidemiological Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.
As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.
Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.
And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.
I had never heard of Epidemi… that word that I’d have to copy and paste to spell… Fantasy before, and so this was my very first dive into this subgenre! It was FASCINATING! Most Fantasy books focus on characters or a quest, so I started reading this book with that as my loose expectation. I was wrong. The structure of this book is uniquely situated so that each chapter reads like a short story, and those short stories follows the plague! There are characters who reappear as the story develops, but the main driving force of this book is The Wrack itself, and it is neat to see how it develops as the story unfolds! That said there is one chapter in particular that just gripped my heart featuring a beautiful soul of a person who finds themself isolated in the desert. You’ll know it when you read it, and I’ll bet you tear up too just like I did.
For me the ending of a story really matters. I can forgive all kinds of flaws in books if you give me an ending that causes me to stop and say “That is the right ending for this story” and this book delivers on that. With the structure of this story it can be tricky to end a story like this but the author pulls it off masterfully.
Speaking of the author here are some links if you would like to know more about John Bierce:
Now one thing I really enjoy about this book blog tour is that not only am I able to read this excellent book and encourage y’all to read it, I am also able to tell you that you can win a free physical copy of the book! There are five copies being given away free! Details on that are found here.
Seriously I hope you give this book a read! You can find it on GoodReads and on Amazon and I think you will really enjoy it. One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that if you enjoy WorldBuilding (and I do) then I think you’ll really appreciate this book! It is a bright star in the sky worth noticing.
If there is one book I could convince you to read right now it’s this book I’m about to tell you about! As y’all know one of my goals with RedStarReviews is to draw attention to books that are published either independently or via a small publisher with my Star In The Sky reviews. The concept is that there are so many stars shining brightly in the sky and I want to use my platform to point out some that have grabbed my eye and today I have a very bright shining star of a story to share with you!
The Deadbringer by E M Markoff is the first book of The Ellderet Series and it is AMAZING!!! The author is a member of the Bookstagram Community and I somehow missed that she was an author! One day I saw her post about her characters and thought that they sounded cool so I decided to give the first chapter of the book a try. I hoped I’d like it. I didn’t just like it, Reader, I LOVED IT. This book is so damn awesome! It is a Dark Fantasy with elements of Horror within it. The world created by the author is interesting, the characters are so alive they could step off the pages and into your home. The interpersonal conflicts are some of the best I’ve ever encountered in a book in my reading life. This is a book that grabbed ahold of me and refused to let go! Seriously if there is one book this year that I recommend that you give a chance to please let it be this book! E M Markoff has created such an incredible story that I know you’ll love. After you’ve read it please let me know what you think!
Also! Another reviewer of books Nick T Borrelli has constructed a list of his Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Series and it is an excellent list! It’s inspired me to construct my own top ten so right now I’m stuck with 16 possibles and trying to narrow that down so I can share it with you. Hope to have my list for you soon, but please check out Nick’s list while waiting, and please read The Deadbringer!
As y’all know one of my goals is to feature independently published (or small publisher) books that I feel shine brightly in the night sky! I want to bring quality stories to your attention that you might otherwise miss, and I have an excellent one to bring to your attention!
Abigail Rhodes: Seeds by Michelle Allen is one of the more uniquely twisty turny stories that I’ve read! The author’s unique voice shines through as the story draws you in deeper and deeper with each new revelation. The description from Amazon sets the stage well:
The Lamp Light Society believes they own the world. The Organization believes they can control it. In a world where humans, monsters, and even gods are attempting to maintain a fragile balance, an unknown entity has arrived whose agenda may only be chaos. Her name is Abigail Rhodes.
Right from the start you are thrown into this world, but you don’t feel lost! You feel intrigued and curious. Before you know it you’ve read more, and the style has drawn you in while the substance grabs ahold of you! I was very impressed by the story and found that I couldn’t set it down. I had to keep on reading to see where it went, and now I can’t wait to see where the next story the author tells will take us!
This is a bright star that is worth your attention, and a story that will intrigue you! I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it so please give this book a read and let me know what you think!
As y’all know I feature independent or small press authors that I really think shine like a bright star in the sky. I’ve just read one that burns so brightly it’s like a nova! It is in contention to be one of my favorite books this year!
What book is this? It is The Heart Of Stone by Ben Galley! A standalone fantasy that is full of old magic, new characters, and a fresh story!
The Heart Of Stone is the story of Task, a 400+ year old golem who has been created by and enslaved to treacherous warlords who have forced him to unleash devastation on wartorn lands. All the while ignoring or actively trying to destroy the conscience that burns within Task.
But Task isn’t the only amazing POV character! You have a villainous warlord, a treacherous spy, a brave girl, and a cowardly hero! All bring powerful perspectives to an engaging story. Each character compels you to turn the pages so that you can see what happens next.
I tore through this book. I could barely stop reading it to sleep! It kept me up well past bedtime and had me waking up early to sneak in more reading. I love getting to see humanity through the eyes of an ancient being and Ben Galley delivers on that concept.
The Heart Of Stone is a book I think you’ll love and I’m encouraging you to check out this bright star in the reading galaxy. It’s a rewarding read that’ll leave you fulfilled while still wanting more. You can find it for sale here. Let me know what you think about it once you read it! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this awesome story.
When you’re caught in the middle of a contest of wills between ancient Norse deities you sometimes have to shine a little to catch their attention…
Arctic Dawn is the second book of Karissa Laurel’s Norse Chronicles and it is amazing. Absolutely amazing. For our review of the first book Midnight Burning you can look HERE. As for Arctic Dawn: Norse deities battling in modern day North America, ancient myths coming to life, the end of everything is at hand, and in the midst of all of this awesomeness you find the best part of this story: Solina.
Many authors try creating a realistic and believable character. This author succeeds. Solina leaps off the page, defies gods and mortals alike and steals the hearts of the readers. Not only is she a complete character this story is filled to overflowing with complete characters! Why do I make such a point of this? Because it can be so difficult to do and this author achieved it. Also because that truly changes the story and how it unfolds! So often you’ll find that the characters in a story react exactly how the main character needs them to react in order to further the plot, but that’s not how life works! Think about it: If your family is like mine everyone has opinions and goals and plans and they don’t always aline with everyone else’s plans and this creates conflict. Sometimes that conflict is easy (trying to decide what is for dinner) sometimes that conflict is complex (trying to decide what job opportunity is best for you and for the family that counts on you). In too many stories everyone is always in agreement on how to proceed and they don’t hurt each other. That’s not reflective of life, and that real life is what this author captured in her main character and the supporting cast!
On top of that you have an incredible page turner of a story that leaves you anxiously awaiting the next book! This book is puppy approved. Y’all should do yourselves a favor and read this book. I promise you’ll enjoy it! Arctic Dawn is a bright star in the sky and I’m happy to point it out to all my fellow stargazing readers! You can purchase Arctic Dawn HERE.
Children Of The Different by S.C. Flynn is an excellent book! Set in a post apocalyptic Australia this story of twins being thrown into an adventure will draw you in right from the start and hold onto you until (and beyond) the ending.
I was asked by the author to read and review this book prior to its upcoming release on September 10th and to give my honest opinion. Not only was I honored to do so, I was excited to do so once I read the description of the story.
Nineteen years prior to the story a disease known as The Great Madness almost wiped humanity out, leaving few survivors spread out amongst the ruins of civilization. All children born since that day enter a trancelike state known as the Changeland and either emerge with strange new abilities or as dangerous killer Ferals. Our heroes are about to face the Changeland and have their lives forever altered by the dangers they encounter there.
From start to finish Children Of The Different keeps you engaged and turning page after page as you follow the heroes on their adventures. The primary and secondary characters have depth and history to them. The story is well laid out, yet just when you think you’ve figured it all out the author masterfully throws in a good twist to the plot just to keep you guessing and moving along to the resolution at the end of it.
I truly enjoyed this story and I hope to see these characters and this world again in another book soon! The concept of this story is so interesting that I want to read more about this new world. I do strongly recommend Children Of The Different to you, and look forward to hearing what you think of it! It is available for preorder before the 10th or order after the 10th here. Children Of The Different is a bright star in the sky that will light up your imagination. Enjoy!
I can’t think of a better way to return to my Stars In The Sky Indie/Small Publishing House reviews than with a review of Karissa Laurel’s incredible book: Midnight Burning!
Midnight Burning is an excellent story that is extremely well told! The pacing keeps you turning page after page, not wanting to set it down. The characters are so fully realized that you care about them from the start and continue caring after you set down the book. Their conversations and interactions are so perfectly well done and that draws you more deeply into their world!
And what a world!! Set primarily in Alaska this story is a mystery, adventure, urban fantasy, magical, Norse God filled tale! Yes I said Norse Gods! In Alaska! An easy way to get me to want to give a book a try is to set ancient deities within it, but then you have to convince me of the reality of it to keep my interest. Karissa does just that.
On top of all the details above let me add that the lead POV character is excellently realized and a very strong character to see this world through! You are immediately brought into her life and world and see everything through her eyes and heart. This is a book you’ll deeply enjoy and will have a difficult time setting down! I can’t wait for the sequel which is available in July! You can find Midnight Burning here: Midnight Burning
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this bright star in the sky of books! My puppy and I loved it.