November 2016 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: November 2016 (Page 2 of 2)

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Book Review: Sanyare The Last Descendant by Megan Haskell

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday, and I’ve got something with a dark fantasy flavor. It’s actually a book I read about a month ago and am only now getting around to reviewing. (Sorry, Megan!)

Sanyare: The Last Descendant (Book 1)

A woman torn between honor and survival…

Raised in a realm where humans are no better than slaves, Rie Lhethannien has struggled for decades to earn a meager post in the High Court messenger service. Even training as an elite fighter isn’t enough to earn the respect she craves. Scorned by the high elves who rely on her loyalty, Rie’s closest allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side.

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When she’s attacked on a routine delivery by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s martial prowess keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of an unmerciful king, Rie must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. With surprising help from a bastard prince and an ambitious blood sidhe, Rie searches for the truth behind the attack. The secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.

My Review: 4 Stars

If I had to describe this book as anything, I’d say it’s “Good, bordering on great”.

From the opening scene, I was intrigued by the character, the world, and everything going on. I LOVED the pixies that hang around Rie—a great use of humor in a mostly dark book.

Rie was a strong, competent character overall, skilled enough to be believable and neither a Mary Sue nor an overly emotional character. There were a few slip-ups with her character and personality traits (her insecurities were an unusual choice, and they came across too strongly for her personality), but overall she was very well-written.

The sequence of events felt a bit odd. At first it felt like a spy book, then it felt more like Drizzt’s return to the Underdark, then it seemed like a book about a new recruit joining a mercenary/military group. I’d have to say it changed the overall tone of the story a bit too much.

But all in all, it was a great read, and I can’t wait to pick up the second book in the series.

Here’s a Taste:

“Before we go in, I should probably warn you, The Crossroads is more than geography.  It’s a meeting place for all fae, an equal opportunity establishment.”

“Meaning?”

“It gets a bit rowdy.”  Braegan grinned, a teasing light in his eyes.  “Try not to piss anyone off, okay?”

Pushing her forward with his arm, Braegan ushered her through the heavy wood gates.  A pea gravel path led the way into a natural bowl amphitheater filled with fae of every description.  The pixies dashed ahead into the crowd while Rie struggled to gather her bearings.  She had never seen so many different creatures gathered in one place.  The noise and smells crowded into her brain, clamoring for attention.

Groups of dark elves, mostly women, sprawled on the grassy hills surrounding the center courtyard, lounging on blankets and looking bored.  Two trolls wearing nothing but leather leggings drank beer out of gallon jugs and pounded their fists on a flat rock while shouting profanities at one another.  One of them burped as Rie passed by, the stench of sour milk sending her stomach into her throat.  A half dozen leprechauns huddled together on the next small rise, smoking long pipes that reeked of something that wasn’t tobacco.

The crowd grew thicker and angrier the closer she got to the center.  Braegan seemed to have no trouble navigating his way through the crush of people, but Rie clutched his arm like a lifeline while trying to watch everyone and everything around her.  Nearing the bowl of the amphitheater, Rie caught sight of the horde’s focus.  Two men fought inside a dirt ring with fists and magic.

“Fight night!”  Braegan’s eyes were wide with excitement, his teeth bared in a gleeful snarl. “And the Commander’s fighting Cendir.  That explains the crowd.”

On the left, a dark elf with mocha skin and uncharacteristic strawberry red highlights in his white hair pulled his arm back and threw a fireball the size of a small goblin at his opponent.  The crowd gasped, watching the dark elf with the more typical black skin and silvery hair face down the flame.  A fraction of a second before impact, the fireball spread out in a wide shield, forcing the dark elf to dodge to the right.   The fire-thrower charged after his creation, but the dark elf was ready, blocking several punches and landing a few of his own.  The crowd cheered every hit.

As they walked around the edge of the ring, Braegan continued his animated explanation.  “The fire elf is Prince Daenor, Commander of the Shadow Guard, and the dark elf is Cendir, the Queen’s brother and Daenor’s technical second in command.  They don’t get along too well.”

“Why not?”

“Prince Daenor fought and defeated Cendir in a fight just like this one about twenty years ago, taking over as Commander.  Cendir’s been trying to take it back ever since.”

Rie pursed her lips, considering.  In the High Court, leadership positions were chosen by the king, usually granted to his toadies. She wondered if this system wasn’t a little more fair, even if it still didn’t seem to grant power to the people that truly deserved it.

Rie couldn’t take her eyes off the mocha-skinned elf.  Wearing only black trousers, the man was a master at hand-to-hand combat.  Wiry muscles glinted in the blue wisp-light, his abs bunched and contracted as he lunged into a whirling series of kicks aimed at the silver-haired elf’s head.

“Why fight here?” Rie asked.

“Entertainment.  Once a month, give or take, the Shadow Guard holds a fight night here at the Crossroads.  Fighters interested in joining use it as an audition, and there are hierarchy fights for those already under contract.  They used to do it at guard headquarters, but as it turns out, people like to watch, and the crowds got too big to fit into their practice arena, especially on nights when Daenor has a match.”

Catching the prince’s leg, Cendir threw him to the ground.  The fire-thrower rolled, coming up to his feet near the barrier as Rie and Braegan walked by.  He caught her gaze and held it for a moment, just long enough for Rie’s heartbeat to race and for Cendir to land a kick to Daenor’s head.  Rebounding off the barrier, the prince flicked a small missile at Cendir, who dodged to the side and out of the way. The two came together in a vicious tangle of limbs until the prince pushed Cendir into the opposite edge of the arena.

Rie couldn’t take her eyes off the fight.  Even injured, with blood slicking down his face, the fire-thrower moved with grace and speed that could only be honed by centuries of practice.  His technique was perfect, his speed and agility superior to anything she’d seen before.  His body flowed from one form to another, incorporating multiple fighting styles with precision.  Overwhelmed, the silver-haired elf finally fell to the ground. He breathed, but would require a powerful healer.

Tearing her attention away from the arena, Rie followed Braegan to a covered patio that housed a massive stacked stone bar, serving customers of every description.  Six bartenders of different races — including a troll and two leprechauns, who carried stools to reach the bottles and serve customers — served the guests who pushed and shoved against each other in an attempt to get a drink.  Accent lighting under the shelves and along the edge of the bar provided a soft glow that illuminated the area without damaging the customer’s night vision.

Keeping Rie tucked into his side, Braegan squeezed into an empty space near the troll.  At Braegan’s wave, the troll nodded, finished unloading the tray of drinks and food, and lumbered over.

“What’ll ye be having?”

About the Author:

Legend has it I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! Sanyare: The Last Descendant is my first published novel, but the sequel, Sanyare: The Heir Apparent, is set to release on September 21, 2016. I am also the Program Director of O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors, located in Orange County, CA.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sanyare-Last-Descendant-Universe-Book-ebook/dp/B00ROBHMFY/

Visit her website: www.meganhaskell.com!

Connect on Facebook: www.facebook.com/meganhaskellauthor

Tweet at Megan: www.twitter.com/meganphaskell

Connect on Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/109428672595505357182/+MeganhaskellAuthor/posts
 

 

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What’s Beneath Your Mask?

If you were to judge me by my writing alone, you would perceive me as a fairly dark, grim person. After all, the stories I tell are well in the realm of dark and grimdark fantasy.

But that’s not me at all. In fact, I’m actually quite a cheerful, optimistic person. I like to see the good in human nature, and I give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to joke that when I’m writing characters like the Hunter, I think “What would I do in this instance?” and make him do the exact opposite.

As an author, I have to wear a mask to tell the stories I want to tell. I slip into this mask of grittiness and darkness, and the stories flow out onto the page. But when I’m done writing, I take off the mask and return to the life of a normal, everyday person.

A friend told me: “I have mild panics and panic attacks all the time…my mind is always on, even to the degree of obsessing over one word or statement for weeks. When I was a kid, I was called highly strung. I had a stress induced stomach ulcer as a young teen. It’s part of the reason I love drama and writing so much. When I pull on that “mask” I don’t have to be me and I don’t have to stress about what to say, they words are already laid out ready to speak–or the characters are there able to be funneled through.”

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All of us wear a mask of some sort. The masks aren’t intended to hide who we truly are, but they are a way for us to connect with the world in a way we aren’t able to in real life. By slipping on these masks, we can see through fresh eyes, and it gives us a glimpse into what is totally “normal” for someone else.

Our mask allows us to present a certain face to the world—the face we want others to see. For some of us, it’s the face of a cool, calm, and confident person when really we’re wrestling with insecurities every second of the day. For others, it’s a face of intelligence even though we feel insufficient in many areas. For many, it’s a face of strength when we want nothing more than to curl up into a ball and hide.

So what’s under your mask? We can all see the face you show to the world, but what’s underneath? The real you is someone worth showing as well!

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Book Review: The Hunted Tribe by Roma Grey

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’ve got an unusual one for you today! This is an intriguing mix of dinosaurs and Native American lore with a Young Adult twist. Pretty solid read, all things considered…

The Hunted Tribe

The War has Begun… Deep in the North American forests lurks an animal spirit known as the Grishla. The Grishla is so ancient it pre-dates the human race by several million years, and it is so powerful and reclusive only very insightful witches know of its existence.

Five hundred years ago, the Dwanake tribe possessed such witches. Drunk on their own power and arrogance, these witches attempted to enslave the Grishla. Enraged, the creature began hunting and killing the Dwanake.

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Desperate, the tribal elders ordered experiments on the Dwanake children to create the ultimate witch to defend their people.

Sixteen-year-old Sean Wolf is that witch.

But Sean is so powerful that he cannot control his own magic. Will he be able to defeat the Grishla or will he destroy himself and everyone that he loves?

My Review: 4.5 Stars

An implacable terror. An ancient curse. A young teenager is the world’s only hope.

Sean is an angry teenaged boy with a terrible power locked within him. Elizabeth is a desperate grandmother who wants to ensure the survival of not just her family, but her entire tribe. When they are faced with a monster that has hunted their tribe for centuries, the two must bring together the secrets of witchcraft and modern ingenuity to defeat the unstoppable evil.

The Hunted Tribe weaves together Native American and Druidic lore with a deft hand, mixing the two in a tale that will grip you until the very end. Blood sacrifices, creatures of nightmare, and animal spirits–hang onto your hat for a heart-stopping tale of horror that will have you questioning everything you believe to be true.

Here’s a Taste:

The unseen creature in the woods stared unwaveringly at the three boys, the sound of its heavy breathing rose hauntingly out of the fog.
I’ve got to get them out of here, Sean thought. I’ve got to get them moving, or we’re all dead!

A strong wind kicked up ash from the fire, and Sean felt his eyes sting. Blinking hard, he saw the fire was growing substantially dimmer by the moment. Eventually, he realized something else was happening a well. A dark shadow moved across the campground, turning everything gray. Searching for the source of the growing gloom, Sean looked up. Overhead, dark clouds were passing across the large orange moon, blotting out their main source of light. He glanced to the fire once more—only a few red embers shimmered in the dark.

“The fire is almost gone,” said Sean, reaching the end of the log. He reached down and picked up Jimmy’s bag. “We need to leave. We need to leave now!”

“No, no, it’s fine,” said Bear, although Sean noted his voice was growing nervous as well. “He’s more scared of us than we are of him.”

Sean seriously doubted that.

He looked back up into the sky. The clouds had now completely blocked out the moon. Checking the status of the fire yet again, he watched as the last ember turned dark. Slowly, with deep apprehension, Sean’s gaze returned to the creature. Its red eyes seemed to be glowing even more brightly now.

“Hey, guys,” came Tom’s voice. “Jimmy doesn’t know about the bear. He’s in the woods. He’s going to come out any second, and he doesn’t know!”

“It’s ok. We’re between the coyote and Jimmy,” said Bear, stressing the word coyote. “We have his full attention. Besides, one coyote isn’t going to attack us. We’re too big.”

“I’m telling you guys, that is not a coyote!” insisted Tom. Sean heard Tom taking a few steps back. “He’s too big!”

“You’re nuts, he’s not…” Said Bear, but abruptly cut himself off.

The eyes moved. Not toward them, but up and up as if the creature were standing on its hind legs. The eyes finally stopped moving when they reached a height of about seven feet. In the fog and darkness, Sean could faintly make out a dark impression of a body, a black shadow nearly hidden within the gray shade of the trees.

He figured maybe Bear would say something like, “Ok, it’s a bear, but he’ll still keep his distance.” Only Bear, Tom, and Sean never got a chance to say anything. Suddenly the creature let out an impossibly loud, high-pitched shriek that continued to build and build until it ended in a horrific roar. The sound was beyond loud, beyond terrifying, and Sean clamped his hands over his ears as the penetrating roar drowned out all reasonable thought.

Sean recognized the cry. He had heard it once before in his dream with Srinam. Any hope that he possessed that this was an ordinary animal had now died. They were, beyond any doubt, staring into the eyes of the Grishla.

“RUN!!!” yelled Sean, pivoting on his right foot and taking off at full speed into the woods. He prayed the other two would follow his lead, but feared Bear and Tom would hold their ground. He knew in his heart, if they hesitated, they would be dead and nothing Sean could do would save them.

About the Author:

Roma Gray began writing at the age of 8 and wrote her first novel when she was 13. Her two published books are “Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon” (short story collection) and “The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War” (novel).

Her favorite holiday of the year is Halloween. This is why she writes what she refers to as ‘Trick-or-Treat Thrillers’, stories with a Halloween feel about them.

She lives in Oregon with her two cats, dog and parrot.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hunted-Tribe-Book-Declaration-War/dp/1530508088/

Visit her website: http://trickortreatthrillers.com

Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005601256861

 

 

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