SPFBO is the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off. It is a competition organised by author Mark Lawrence where he gets a few different fantasy reviewing blogs to have a look at 300 self-published books and vote on a winner. Basically. It is up to its 5th year and has a lot of great stories entered this year. Each one of them has to be either a stand alone or the first of a series. And this year, one of them is The Brightest Light, by me.

So, to go along with this great competition someone has organised a sale. There are 135 (I think) of the 300 books selling at 99c on Amazon at the moment. Go here for the list. Buy a book. I’ve already read a couple and they are well worth 99c.


205 Books: Bangladesh

Ogoodmuslimcoverkay, so those of you who have an alphabetical list of all the countries of the world are probably already writing emails to complain. For everyone else– I have skipped Bahrain. That’s a terrible thing to do, I know. Poor Bahrain. What will they do? Will their economy recover?

I did actually find one book from Bahrain, but I read the first paragraph and there were issues with tense and I just couldn’t imagine myself getting through the who book. So I will be moving on to Bangladesh.

I have chosen The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam. It doesn’t look particularly long, so hopefully I will tell you all about it very soon.

205 Books: Hurricane Hole

hurricane holeWell, that has to be the most boring spy “thriller” I’ve ever read.

Hurricane Hole lots of bits that should add up to a good story. There’s Nazi’s and fast boats and royalty and millionaires and secrets and gunfights and high stakes and beautiful women and… It just all felt very sedate. I just kept waiting for something exciting to happen.

I’m not sure if I’m going to add this to my list of “need to do that country again” but I probably will. It was just very disappointing.

The next country on the list is Bahrain. I’ve had a quick look at what’s available and I may be looking at another challenge to find something. I’ll let you know when I reach a decision.

205 Books: The Bahamas

Okay, so I did say that Azerbaijan was the next country on the list. And, technically it is, but there are no books by Azerbaijanian authors in any of the Moreton Bay Regional libraries or in the Brisbane City Council libraries, in either ebooks or dead tree versions, so bugger them.bahamas.jpeg

And, as you may have guessed, the Bahamas is next. I couldn’t find a lot of options for that either but ended up going with Hurricane Hole, a book by American author John Kerr. It’s a bit of a spy thrillery thing set in the Bahamas during WWII.

I’m not completely happy with once again not finding an actual author from the country, no matter how good the books turns out to be, so I’ve decided to mark this one (and any others on my list where the books I’ve chosen are just set in the target countries) so I can maybe come back to it later and make another effort when I don’t feel so pressed for time.

Anyway, for now, The Bahamas book is Hurricane Hole by Joh Kerr.

205 Books: The Wall

the wallThe Wall by Marlen Haushofer was written by an Austrian woman in 1963, I think.

An unnamed woman goes to stay at a cabin with her cousin and her cousin’s husband but after they head down to the pub for the night a mysterious wall suddenly appears and all the animals outside the wall die an apparently peaceful death. And the woman is stuck inside this wall with a cat, a dog, and a cow.

And for the next year she survives there on her own.

Just about everywhere I looked it had great reviews. It’s been made into a movie and was entered in the Academy Awards. But, seriously, it’s as boring as hell.

There is no attempt to explain the wall. It isn’t a dome, because rain can still get in, but the poison or whatever killed all the animals can’t get in. The woman reasons that it doesn’t go far beneath the ground because a stream still manages to get out.

So this woman lives with her animals. She doesn’t follow the wall all the way around to see how big the inside is (though it seems to cover quite a large area). There are other houses and cabins and whatnot inside, but she doesn’t go to investigate, to see if there is anything she can use. In the one she does eventually visit she finds a couple of blankets but leaves them behind because she won’t need them. Excuse me? What? If I’m stuck in her situation I’ll be taking anything that could conceivably be useful, just in case. (And later in the story she talks about her clothes wearing out. Ummm, if she had some blankets she could make herself some new clothes, maybe.)

In the first summer she moves herself and her animals to that other  house because there is better grazing for the cow (and its calf which comes along mid-story) but, instead of using the very tame cow to carry some of her stuff the seven miles (or something), she makes about six trips over the next few days. Maybe the cow wouldn’t have liked carrying stuff (I know I don’t) but she didn’t even try. And if I had to hear about her cleaning out the cow’s damn bier one more time I  was going to scream.

The story covers about a year and at the very end another person does turn up. (Obviously, she could have found this person a long time ago if she’d made a bit of effort, though obviously the stranger made no effort either.) And this man kills the calf. Then it kills the dog. We don’t know why he does these things. We don’t get the chance to find out because the woman shoots him.

And that’s it.

I read one review that described the book as horror. I don’t know how they came up with that idea. I don’t read a lot of horror, admittedly, but The Wall is not like any horror I’ve heard of. Post-apocalyptic? Yes. If the apocalypse comes doped up on sleeping pills. It’s not deep. It’s not interesting. It’s just plain boring. Thank god it’s over.

The book was also a bit disappointing in that I didn’t really learn anything about Austria which was one of the points of doing this challenge. It mentions that it’s set in Austria a couple of times and mentions the main character being stuck in a cellar during WW2 (written in 1963, remember) but could quite easily have been set in the US or anywhere else. So I may have to avoid sci-fi and fantasy in the future. (Though maybe if the book had been any good I wouldn’t have complained.)

Also, I was going to go with all paper books for my 205 Books but didn’t mind doing the audio-book thing instead and will do it again in the future if I get the opportunity (for the sake of speed if nothing else).

Another one down. Next is Azerbaijan. I’ve been looking for something but it is so far proving a bit difficult to get something from the library. As ever, I’ll let you know when I make a decision.

205 Books: Austria

the wall

Next on my list of 205 Countries is Austria and I have chosen a book called The Wall. It’s a post-apocalyptic thing written in 1963 by Marlen Haushofer. I’ve done something that I wasn’t going to be doing, which is get the book as an audio-book. I did this mainly because, as usual, I was having trouble finding something at the library and then saw this one.

If I allow myself to do audio-books this entire exercise will be over much quicker because I average about 2 of them a week.

I will let you know how this one goes in a couple of days.