SPFBO 9 (2023) Interesting Titles Spotlight Part II


from yesterday
, here is part II of the SPFBO 9 (2023) Intresting
Titles (in random order). We would like to reiterate that both these lists are
in no way an indicator of our choices (& other judges’ choices) going
forward in the contest. These simply lists titles that we (at FBC) are INTRIGUED
by and WOULD like to read (time & fate permitting).


Book Blurb:
  Sergei is
determined to put his broken family back together, no matter the danger.

Not-rats and bugs hiding in his walls, listening to his conversations? He can
live with that. The shadowy government organization trying to dig encoded
information out of his nightmares? He’ll play along to learn what they know
about his mother.

If he has to destroy his college career, his love life, and the best friendship
he’s ever had—with his roommate Cam—he’ll do that, too, if that’s what it
takes. He’s the only one who believes his mother is still alive.

Nobody else needs to get hurt if he doesn’t tell them what he’s doing.

But however hard Sergei tries to keep his double life a secret, Cam still shows
up to save him whenever he’s in trouble, like Cam has some kind of magical
sixth sense—a sense that keeps them bonded together no matter what. And when
Sergei finally breaks through his dreams into a world where monsters lurk and
reality changes on a whim…where having magic carries a death sentence…the
stakes of this game could be far higher than Sergei wants to pay. Now it’s not
just his life on the line—he’s dragged people he cares about into danger with

He thought he could risk himself alone. But will his single-minded mission to
find his mother be worth the price everyone he loves has to pay?

Book Blurb:
The world ended—twice. Once at humanity’s
hand and a second time at God’s, according to legend. Only Esther, the Eternal
One, saw it all happen. Chosen by the Messiah to redeem humanity, she heads a
holy sisterhood that rules Cathedral, the Last City. Except Cathedral isn’t the
last city, and the source of the Revenant Sisterhood’s supernatural power is
far from holy.

It’s the year 2500, give or take. The passage of time has
become as blurry as the gray wastes that cover most of North America. No moon
or stars light the night, and demonic hordes smash against the last outposts of

Two reborn nations vie for humanity’s future. In the
west, Cathedral unleashes its God-engines—ancient walking war machines—in a
final bid to cleanse the earth. In the east, the struggling city-state of
Bastion turns to the last living AI for salvation. Between them, a tribe of
technological scavengers known as the Union unwittingly holds the balance of

Hell is on the horizon. Who will survive?

Book Blurb:
Yuu wants nothing more than to forget the
mistakes of her past. The Gods have other plans.

Once a renowned strategist and general, five years ago Yuu made a mistake that
cost her everything. Now she is on the run, royal bounty hunters snapping at
her heels. But what if there was a way to get back what she lost, a way to
bring back a murdered prince?

Every century, the gods hold a contest to choose who will rule from the
Heavenly Jade Throne. Each god chooses a mortal champion, and the fate of all
existence hangs in the balance. On a battlefield full of heroes, warriors,
assassins, and thieves can Yuu survive long enough to learn the rules of the
game, let alone master it?

Book Blurb:
Sam Adams, sixteen-year-old wizard, has zero
interest in saving the world—but staying out of the line of fire isn’t an
option for wizards.

When a new designer drug hits the streets, giving ordinary
humans magical powers and leaving a trail of bodies in its wake, it threatens
to turn his city of Williamsport’s long-simmering conflict between the haves
and the have-nots into a full-scale war.

The only one with the skills to protect the city, Sam finds
himself thrust into a conspiracy far darker and more dangerous than he ever
imagined, with tentacles stretching into the criminal underworld and the
wealthy elite—and into the spirit world. Fighting for his life, surrounded by
enemies, Sam has to dig deeper than ever before to keep Williamsport from going
up in flames.
But even magic has its limits.

Book Blurb:
“Secrets, secrets are so fun. Secrets, secrets –
cut my tongue.”

In a land where magick is heresy and ancient forces manipulate human whims,
secrets will tear a fragile peace asunder. Four people stand at the heart of
this burgeoning war.

An unproven prince who married a woman forbidden to him.

A sickly boy with a connection to an eldritch beast.

An outcast knight who hides the infidelity of her liege lady.

And a traitorous duke caught between the contradictions of his ideals.

Two will die. Two will rise. And the Age of Terkir will march toward its end.

Book Blurb:  
is a luxury Rahelu can’t afford. Her family sold everything, left their
ancestral home, and became destitute foreigners for the sake of her resonance
skills. Now she can manipulate emotional echoes to discern truth from lies,
conjure the past, and even foretell the future.

But an act of petty revenge by her rival destroys her chance
at joining one of the great Houses. Desperate to prove her family’s sacrifices
were not in vain, Rahelu calls upon the most dangerous magic of all—altering

A slight twist of fate is enough to restore her way
forward…with deadly consequences she never bargained for. The Houses make a
pawn of her in their bitter struggle for control of the Dominion. A shadowy
cult grows ever closer to completing an ancient ritual.

And Rahelu discovers that fulfilling her oath to her family
might come at the cost of her mother’s life.

The First
Rule: The Blind Age by Steven William Hannah

Book Blurb:
Venalia is going to die.

When the newly ordained Priestess of the Mind’s Eye returns
home to bury her mentor, she meets the seer, Temple. In his dreams of the near
future, Temple sees her go to certain death facing a horror from the world
below, a choir of the dead whose song enslaves the living.

Venalia’s failure to protect the village is foretold, the
village that has shunned her since childhood – but Venalia is sworn to an oath,
bound by the first rule of the Priesthood to stand her ground against even the
most hopeless of odds. Beset by corrupt leadership and an ungrateful flock,
Venalia must decide what her life is really worth.

Perhaps it is better to die for something than to live for

Book Blurb:
When gods refuse to die, it’s humans that suffer.

Safely hidden deep within the endless fields of his late wife’s people, Kalen’s
only dream is to live the rest of his days in peace. He paid for his dream in
blood, but neither his sword nor service are demanded any longer.

Chaos erupts when his daughter, Sascha, is called by Kalen’s old master. Father
and daughter have no choice but to leave the home they’ve created for the land
of Kalen’s birth.

But the sins of the past cast long shadows. After years of a tenuous peace,
gods and humans alike resume their quest for dominance. Kalen and Sascha find
themselves in the midst of a struggle that will reshape the boundaries of their

The warrior who wants nothing but peace will be forced to draw his sword once
again. Will it be enough to protect his daughter from the whims of the gods?

Book Blurb:
Life used to be good. I had money. I had fame. I
had respect. The same thrill during work every day. A different woman in my bed
every night. Best fighter to hire for dangerous jobs. Most famous thief in the
Nineteen Kingdoms. Half the world sought my services when they needed the
impossible done. The other half wanted to sleep with me.

Then one day this strange guy showed up with his even stranger pet, the latter
a bit of a gift horse by all accounts, and turned it all upside down. They
claimed to have come to save my life, and while they were at it, I got them to
help out with the most important quest of my existence: finding the Supreme Key
of the Dragon. Needless to say, none of it turned out quite how I expected. But
we had fun, even if it was hell sometimes. In the end, what we found was worth
it all.

My name is Conor Drew, the Gods destined me for great things.

But I turned them down.

Book Blurb:
What were the Great Old Ones like before they were

In the shadow of cosmic horrors, newly-birthed entity Zogrusz must come to
understand his true nature, learn how to wield his dreadful powers, and search
for meaning in the mad spaces between the stars. Hopefully, he’ll make some
friends along the way.

Also, there’s a cat.


Book Blurb:
George Stephens is a lousy medical student.
Lacking the social and financial resources to succeed in Edinburgh’s elite
medical school, his dream of becoming a physician appears over before it began.

Then George comes to the attention of two famous professors,
William Cullen and Joseph Black. Medical students are dying mysteriously – the
professors suspect a disgraced former student is to blame – and they need
George’s help uncovering the truth. Believing the partnership will bolster his
academic standing, George agrees.

Their investigation pulls them into the murkiest, most
dangerous corners of Enlightenment Edinburgh. The professors are secret
wielders of fire magic, but their foes are courting even darker forces. With
violence threatening to erupt, and George struggling to navigate this confusing
city, getting justice for the dead will be harder than he imagined.

Book Blurb:
This Child is not the chosen one. She is a demon
to be destroyed.

Born of magic, Nerana is labeled a demon and forced into hiding by the Order of
Saro. Living with a curse that binds her to their leader, Nerana seeks to free
herself from their hold and soon learns that the path to redemption may prove
more fatal than the Order itself.

But for Nerana, this is more than a quest for survival… It’s a promise of

Born of magic, Nerana is labeled a demon and forced into hiding by the Order of
Saro. Living with a curse that binds her to their leader, Nerana seeks to free
herself from their hold and soon learns that the path to redemption may prove
more fatal than the Order itself.

But for Nerana, this is more than a quest for survival… It’s a promise of


of Muscovy by Brien Feathers

Book Blurb:
Marina is the daughter of Tsar Alexander the
Cruel, the most powerful warlock. She’s also a princess of the Court of White
Rose. The only problem is that she’s mundane—she has no magic.

On her sixteenth birthday Marina fled from her father’s
tsardom to the revolutionist side of Muscovy, and five years later she’s doing
all right, working as a seamstress in the United Workers’ Factory. Despite the
political police, the never-ending witch hunt, and her best friend living as an
orange cat, she’s happy. She gets along with her cottage mates and is even
seeing a guy… until the city blows up, she’s implied in the sabotage, her guy
turns out to be an enemy, her friends are murdered, and an alchemist maniac
hunts her down for a blood vendetta.

With the Red Army and the Alchemist Federation on her heels,
Marina runs back to the Court of White Rose, but when death follows her home
she must uncover a prophecy, reconcile with the warlock, and stop an oncoming
war. It’s a tall order for a seamstress.

Book Blurb:
Any adventurer worth their sword knows about
Ambrose Beake. The proud, quiet half-elf sells the best, and only, potions in
the city—until a handsome new shopkeeper named Eli opens another potion shop
across the street, throwing Ambrose’s peace and ledgers far off balance.

Within weeks, they’re locked in a war of price tags and
products—Ambrose’s expertise against Eli’s effortless charm. Toil leads to
trouble, the safety gloves come off, and right as their rivalry reaches a
boiling point…

The mayor commissions them to brew a potion together. The task
is as complex as it is lucrative, pushing both men to the limits of their
abilities and patience. Yet as the fires burn and cauldrons bubble…they find a different
sort of chemistry brewing.

Book Blurb:
I am the daughter of the king, and he is the fae
monster my father sent me to kill.

For years, the people of my kingdom have whispered tales of
the monstrous Minotaur in the depths of an underground maze. Every night, he
enters my dreams. His golden eyes capture mine. His horns caress my spine. And
I always wake drenched in fear.

He’s waiting for me, I know. But when I venture into the
darkness, I find that the monster is in fact a handsome man, cursed by the fae
gods to roam the maze. Trapped in the labyrinth with him, I start feeling
something that I know I should not—a strange desire wells up within me.

My heart is torn between my loyalty to my kingdom and the man
whose loneliness echoes my own.
As we attempt to escape the treacherous maze, secrets that
were meant to remain hidden in its depths beg to be revealed, and with them comes
a love so forbidden yet so powerful that it could forever change my life.

Book Blurb:
On the run from a cursed king and his army of
assassins, priest Niels Bosch seeks sanctuary in rural Briscona. What he gets
is a barrage of intimate and unsettling questions from his new cantor, Beldenka
Nadinov. Questions he can’t risk answering.

Accompanied by his friend and bodyguard Mikhandor, and Bel’s
protector Leks, the pair set out to challenge the mad king. But Bel has a dark
secret of her own – a secret that could endanger the entire mission.

When Niels unearths the chilling truth and realises there’s
much more at stake than just his life, it’s too late to turn back. He must lift
the curse and end Night’s reign forever.


Book Blurb:
Ser Edward, an experienced sailor, embarks on
perhaps the most daring expedition of the Kingdom of Esenworth so far. His
mission is to try to earn the blessing of the Reverend Sven, who is none other
than his love’s father, probably the most influential man in the realm. But on
his journey beset by fierce storms, he and his men encounter something that
could shake to the core not only their faith, but their very concept of the
world as well. Meanwhile, far from the oceans, his love, Emma, is trying to
disentangle herself from the spider’s web of intrigue and scheming, into which
she is being drawn ever deeper by Erick the new king.

And the dark clouds just keep gathering above – ancient beasts, stranger than
ever, appear at sea, on land and even in the skies more and more frequently.
They roar with a metallic screech, their eyes glow with an unnatural light,
their skin hard and rigid as armor.

Can order be upheld in this age blind to divine prophecy, in the largest
kingdom of the North, where the monarch’s mind is coming undone just like reality

Book Blurb: It has been a thousand
years since the last Seed abandoned their duty. The mists are closing in.
Finally, the Morning Bell tolls. A new Seed is born, but is it too late?

The rot eats away at mortals. The Witnesses pray so that they
may not turn into one of the forgotten. And the constricting mists infect the
lands with fear.

But there is more to this tale than just the Elders and their
Seeds. Four mortals will have a part to play in Minethria’s fate. A farmer girl
with only love in her eyes. A warrior born to the life of a refugee. A highborn
stuck between the realm of gods and men. And a woman running into front lines
and away from home.

Will the cycle finally be completed? Or will the mist swallow

Book Blurb:
When the gods shaped the continent into five
kingdoms to be ruled by their progeny, they did not account for the greed of
men. When they created the Order from their god-blessed followers to mediate
between realms, they neglected to plan against the hoarding of power. War
between the royalists and the godly was inevitable.

Five centuries later, the borders between kingdoms are impenetrable. No
branded-born Marked can cross them without burning to ash, except the Order’s
Stewards. But a damaging new war has been prophesied, one that haunts the
Order, one that will come to pass if Carved traitors roam free and
brandless-born Flawed are left alive.

It starts with one girl that survives the impossible. Kaianne, the Carved. It
takes shape through one prince with ambition. Andreiyes, the Marked. It hinges
on one grieving man who is ready to give up hope. Rau, the Steward. Three
people bound by fate – whether they like it or not.


Book Blurb:
Bastard. Killer. Husband. Father. His wife cold in
the ground, and two young boys to feed, Wil Cutter turns to what he knows:
Violence. But a bounty is never just a bounty, and blood is never spilled in
drops. Forced to ever more violent acts, he’ll have to ask himself: Is Hell too
far to ride?


Book Blurb:
Foster kid Jack Swift remembers everything—even
the horrible things he’d like to forget. To keep his guilt-ridden memories from
haunting him, he buries himself in any book he can find, dreaming of his
ultimate escape..

But fate has another escape in mind.

At 3:33 am on his fourteenth birthday, Jack is kidnapped by a
monstrous talking rhinoceros and whisked away to another sphere of existence:
the land of Keymark. Though this world is filled with pixies, monsters,
pirates, samurai, and mythical wonders, it is without healing magic—a magic
stolen by an evil, immortal prince hell-bent on domination.

Jack’s kidnappers ask the impossible of him: use his knowledge to save a
life…or become trapped in this dangerous world with no chance of rescue.

Book Blurb:
Princess Amikharlia wants one thing in life:
control of her own fate.

On the eve of her wedding, Amika flees her homeland, seeking the truth behind
the mysterious magical abilities she’d kept hidden since childhood.

Taking up the life of a demon huntress, Amika uncovers a madman’s prophecy that
would have her revive an ancient goddess—and destroy the world in the process.

Will Amika become a pawn in another man’s game or continue her fight against
destiny’s shackles?

As a dark and dangerous power begins to rise, she must make her choice soon. But is laying the world to waste truly the way to save it?

of the Beast by E C Greaves

Book Blurb:
When her sleepy village is raided by the Vulkari,
the fearsome warrior women of the Ancient Wilds, only Zyntael Fairwinter is

Claimed as a daughter by their infamous matriarch, Zyntael is
trained to hunt, to fight, and to kill—all for a purpose, which remains ever
out of her grasp.

In the company of their unruly young, she might find
sisterhood. In their unique customs and beliefs, she might find beauty. And in
the violence of their raids, she might even find glory.
But it is the reason for her capture that Zyntael truly seeks.
It is a truth that must be earned from the very Spirits of the dead; a future
paid for in the blood of those Zyntael once called her own. It is a purpose
that promises the liberation of not just she, but of all the Ancient Wilds,
from an evil far greater than any marauding warrior women.

Warrior or no, however, the Vulkari are not like other women. The Vulkari are
monsters. And sometimes, only the truly monstrous have what it takes to save
the world.


Book Blurb:
Destined to fail, Rossi is only a half witch. Her
coven, her mom, even her troll were constantly trying to make up for lack of
magic, but Rossi knows. And she’s over being a burden, but unsure how to fix

On a stormy night, a bolt of lightning makes the choice for
her, while at the same time, sending a pulse out into the magical world. Within
hours, strangers start showing up in her small mountain county by the

An annoying, but somewhat swoony warlock with plenty of his
own secrets.

An unusual unicorn who had delusions of grandeur.

A monster that uses tricks of the mind to trap its prey.

And more witches than Rossi could possibly count.

All of them interested in only one thing. Rossi.

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