We started the Battle of the Books at the Fantastic Reviews Blog as a fun way to try to keep up with the great volume of review copies we were receiving. (For more about why we started the Battle of the Books, click here.
The good news is we've done nine brackets of books so far, eight 2012 brackets and one 2014 bracket, discussing over 140 books. We've had a lot of fun and gotten some great feedback from the authors both here and at Twitter and other social media.
The bad news is we have definitely not kept up with all the review copies flowing in. But we're slowly taking on the mountain of books we've accumulated.
In a valiant (please don't say hopeless) attempt to catch up, we're alternating between brackets of the new books we're receiving and brackets of books from recent years.
Here's the basics for how we work our Battle of the Books. We start with a bracket of sixteen books as contenders. For the first round, our judge / reviewer will read the opening 25 pages of both randomly matched-up books. The winner will be the book they most want to continue reading (not necessarily the better book -- how would they know that after only 25 pages?). Those books that win their first-round battles advance to the second round.
For the second round, our Battle of the Books reviewer reads both books through page 50. Then they choose which of the books they'd rather continue reading. So if a good book starts slow, in this review format, it may face an uphill battle. Books that win their matchups advance to the semifinals.
For the semifinals, The reviewer reads through page 100, then picks which of the two books they'd prefer to continue reading. The winners advance to the finals.
In the finals or championship round, our reviewer will read through page 200 of both books. The winner, the book they most want to read to the end, will be proclaimed our Battle of the Books bracket champion. (For all the rules, click here.)
This bracket, Bracket One of Battle of the 2013 Books, introduces a new reviewer for Battle of the Books, Jackie Sachen Turner. She is no stranger to Fantastic Reviews. Jackie has previously written four book reviews for Fantastic Reviews.
Of the sixteen books, Jackie selected four "seeded" books that she was especially looking forward to reading (marked with asterisks), placed one in each quarter of the bracket, then we filled out the rest of the bracket randomly. Here are your matchups:
First Quarter of Bracket:
Electricity & Other Dreams
(New American Press)
K. D. McEntire
Second Quarter of Bracket
23 Years on Fire
The Best of All Possible Worlds***
The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi
Third Quarter of Bracket:
Fourth Quarter of Bracket:
The Cusanus Game***
The God Tattoo
The Scholar, the Sphinx and the Shades of Nyx
The Doctor and the Dinosaurs
To see the whole bracket, click here.
Some notes on the books in the field:
-- Classifying books before you read them is tricky, but I'd guess this bracket features 5 fantasy books, 2 YA fantasy, 4 science fiction, 2 mainstream speculative fiction, 2 story collections and 1 horror novel.
-- I believe 11 books are by men and 5 by women.
-- It looks like 7 of the books continue an existing series, 2 are the first volume in a new series, and 6 appear to be stand-alone books.
-- 5 books come to us from Tor, 5 from Pyr, and 1 each from Del Rey, Jo Fletcher, Crown, Harlequin MIRA, New American Press, and Knox Robinson.
Good luck to all our contenders! Let the new bracket of book battles begin!