Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: June 2017

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Book Review: Rosinanti by Kevin Kessler

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’m thrilled to bring you the review of a book by a great new author—and a great guy, Kevin Kessler! If you like dragons, wuxia-style martial arts, and elemental magic, you’ll dig this series.

Rosinanti

The Rosinanti Dragons are no more. Since their extinction nearly one thousand years ago these primal powerhouses have fallen into the obscurity of history’s forgotten lore. In that time, humans have come to dominate the world of Terra, peacefully ignorant to one horrifying truth: ancient evil stirs around them, waiting to reclaim its lost world.

For Valentean Burai, animus warrior of the kingdom of Kackritta, the details surrounding humanity’s victory over the Rosinanti are more than just a history lesson. The long-buried mysteries of this archaic conflict may hold the answers that he has so desperately sought regarding his own past.

Rosinanti Audiobook Cover

As the awful truth of the Rosinanti’s supposed demise comes to light, Valentean must stand together with Seraphina, a magically gifted princess, to embark upon a mission to maintain order and light throughout Terra. Only together can these two lifelong friends face down the resurgence of the Rosinanti legacy, and combat the greatest threat their world has ever known.

My Review: 5 Stars

This felt like one of those classic high fantasy novels that were popular around the time of Dragonlance or Icewind Dale, with that same old school feel that brings back so many happy memories. At the same time, it delved into deeper themes like “the dark and light in all of us”. All in all, one heck of a fun read.

I blasted through about 400+ pages in one sitting. The beginning was most enjoyable for me, though I felt it lagged a little as it approached the climax. However, there were a couple of plot twists in the book that totally caught me by surprise—always something I enjoy.

Aside from a couple of “first book mistakes”, it found this to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. Can’t wait to dive into Book 2 and beyond.

Here’s a Taste:

Pain seared through his faded consciousness, reminding him to breathe. He would have fallen to death’s embrace had it not been for the searing grip of agony. Still, however barely, he clung to life. It took considerable effort to open his heavy-lidded eyes, their weight monumental to bear in wake of the thrashing he had endured. Through the haze of blood and dizziness, the boy, barely old enough to call himself a man, took in what remained of his surroundings. What had once been a beautiful crystalline cave now laid in fiery ruin. What had once been an enclosed structure, safeguarding its occupants against the powerful wind and snow that raged across the white landscape, now lay bare before the might of the elements.

The cold did little to cool the angry burns scattered across the boy’s flesh, now beginning to crack, ooze and blacken. A cough ripped its way from his lungs as a slow birth of blood wound red rivulets down his arms and legs. The morbid flow pooled around him, warm and sticky against his skin as it spread along the snow and ice.

The boy stared blankly at the frosted sky, resigned beneath a thickening blanket of falling snow. He turned and saw a tattered man clad in long black robes lying mutually prone to the stinging of the bitter wind. The boy’s eyelids narrowed approvingly. The body showed no signs of life. At least I managed to do something properly before things got out of hand. His ego stirred as he examined the lifeless figure. It inspired the boy to move, but pain ripped through him with renewed intensity and a gurgled howl leaped from his throat. He turned his head slowly to stare at his ruined right arm, now fallen listlessly at his side. He gazed at it with a grimace of dread; it more resembled that of an abused corkscrew than an arm, having snapped grossly at the elbow joint.

Just beyond his outstretched hand laid a girl clad in a blue dress that danced around the contrast of her silent body. While the lifelessness of the first figure filled him with accomplishment, this visage in blue startled his heart. How had he failed her so? The boy desperately tried to extend his ruined arm toward his companion with tears spilling from his eyes, turning blood and grime to mud on his cheeks. His initial flutter of valiance was now gone. How had it come to this?

Then, as if an answer to his silent angst, a low growl filled the air like the rumble of shifting rubble. Tearing his eyes from the girl, he struggled to lift his head, just enough to stare at the vision of death that hovered before him. The creature was inconceivably massive, with every bit of its body, from tip to tail covered in red rock-like scales. A pair of impressive wings extended outward, framing its enormity. Through the glowing miasma of snow, the boy could still see the creature’s most defining feature: a pair of flame-red eyes. These were eyes the boy had known all too well and for far too long, eyes that haunted his waking and unconscious hours alike since childhood. Now here he was, finally faced with them one more time—the last time.

The beast reared back, its head whipping the air. As familiar as it was, the boy still could scarcely believe what he was to face: an actual dragon, the most ancient of enemies, believed to have been extinct since times only known by popular fable.

The crimson monstrosity slowly opened its massive mouth, rows of razor sharp white teeth glinting in luminescence as a red glow began to gather at the back of its throat. Now would come the fire. Now would come the end. He had hoped, should this moment ever come, he would face death bravely; however, the gentle quaking of his intact limbs coupled with sharp frenzied intakes of breath betrayed him. A medley of stark emotions accompanied his growing dread: anger, disbelief, denial. The purveying emotion, however, despite his defiant wish was sheer terror. He gritted his teeth, determined not to allow the fear to continue playing out on his face—those murderous red orbs would not have the satisfaction of consuming his panic. Then, as the fiery glow flared from the dragon’s massive maw, the boy heard his name, spoken so softly he was almost sure his desperate mind had imagined it.

“Val…?”

His head snapped to the side, seeing his companion slowly stir. She was alive after all, and now they were going to die together.

The dragon’s head darted forward, filling the air with stifling humidity before flames would burst forth to burn its victims to ash. Her weak fingers reached for him with agonizing slowness. Their hands crept closer until he could feel the warmth of her skin against the pads of his fingertips. So tantalizingly close. If he could only touch her for one final moment, he could face his death a more complete person. But they were out of time.

In this, his final moment, fear mocked him from the shadows of his mind, as it always had these many years.

Everything dies, Valentean. No flame can burn forever. 

About the Author

Kevin J. Kessler lives in Orlando Florida, where he owns the White Dragon Podcast Network, which puts out weekly podcasts on a variety of topics from Walt Disney World, to movies, television, comic books, video games and more.

A lifelong geek, Kessler can often be found at the many theme parks and local attractions in Orlando. He developed the story for Rosinanti as a sophomore in high school, sixteen years before the book’s release.

Since an early age, Kessler has been an avid reader, often found lost within the magical worlds found within the pages of fantasy novels.

Find the book on Amazon: mybook.to/rosinanti

 

Connect with Kevin on Facebook: facebook.com/kevinjkesslerauthor

Tweet at him: twitter.com/kevinjkessler

Join the Rosinanti Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/rosinanti

 

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Why You Should Be Happy About Disappointment

That sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn’t it? How can you possibly be happy with something that disappoints you?

Well, to answer that question, you have to delve a little deeper into what disappointment really is…

The dictionary defines it as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”  Basically, it means we’re sad/displeased because we didn’t get the thing we hoped/expected would make us happy.

Which leads to the question: what if that wasn’t really the thing that would make us happy?

In my post “The Endless and Exhausting Pursuit of Happiness“, I talked about how we’re often so busy looking for something we believe will make us 100% happy that we fail to enjoy the things that hit the 50% happiness mark. And, when we never find that 100% happy thing, we feel dissatisfied.

How does this connect? Simple: disappointment can help us to evaluate our perceptions of the things that make us happy!

When we’re disappointed about something, it gives you a chance to look at WHY we feel that disappointment. There’s a very real chance the thing we’re disappointed about is something that we believed would make us happy, but in reality it won’t. We’re so fixated on something or someone that we feel that disillusionment when we fail to get it.

Next time you get that feeling, stop to examine what it is you’re disappointed about. Maybe it’s a “future hope” that brings more anxiety than is healthy, and you’ll actually be happier if you live in the present moment. Or it’s something you were 100% certain you wanted, but in reality you’re just as happy without it (once the initial disappointment passes, of course).

Disappointment is a negative feeling, but it can bring about a positive outcome. If you take the time to examine the thing that’s causing the feelings, you can discover just how wrong or right your perceptions, hopes, and expectations are. In the long run, that self-examination will lead to personal growth.

ROGUE 2

Book Review: Rogue by Martyn Halm

I’m happy to once again bring you a book from the Katla Sieltjes series, one of my favorite modern-day series about the bad-ass assassin Katla! I reviewed both Book 1 and Book 2 in the series, and this new one is an amazing continuation in a great series.

Rogue

Freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes runs her business of disguising homicide below the radar of law enforcement, but when her latest target is a judas goat intended to draw her out into the open, the hunter becomes the hunted.

Fooling local law enforcement can be challenging, but hiding from intelligence communities aiming to enlist Katla for their dirty work might prove impossible.

ROGUE 2

With Homeland Security, DEA, and the German BKA joining forces with Dutch Intelligence in an effort to track down Loki Enterprises, not only Katla’s future is threatened, but also the lives of her lover and his friends.

My Review: 5 Stars

I breezed through this book in a couple of days—I just couldn’t put it down! From the first page, the rich descriptions of Amsterdam (and other cities the characters visit) drew me in, and it was a true pleasure to return to the world of Katla, Bram, and the other awesome characters created by the author.

The story was fast-paced, with not a dull moment. I can’t wait until I get to read the next book in the series!

Here’s a Taste:

Unlike his girlfriend, Bram Merleyn seemed unperturbed by the situation. Or maybe it was the VIP lounge instead of an interrogation room. He had taken off his shoes, and sat cross-legged on a leather sofa, hands resting on his knees. Together with the half-smile on his face, the blind man exuded a Zen-like calm, as if he was detained by the police on a regular basis. Polak planted the tripod and switched on the camera while the Chief Inspector sighed and took a seat opposite Merleyn.

“I’m sorry,” Basalt said. “This must be quite a blow for you.”

“This?” Merleyn tilted his head. “You have to be more specific.”

“Your girlfriend being questioned for killing someone.” The Chief Inspector paused, then said, “How long have you known her?”

“Long enough.” Merleyn rolled his head like a boxer. “Long enough to know you’re wrong.”

“You’re sure?”

“Absolutely. Business is war, but she’s only shrewd and ruthless within the confines of a boardroom.”

“Strange. I look at your girlfriend and I see a headstrong young woman. Not the type to cuddle babies or pet puppies, but the cool executive type.”

“With the emphasis on executive, right?” Merleyn gave him a smug smile. “She works in a male-dominated environment, where femininity equals subservience. To command respect she projects a tough image. Apparently convincing enough to fool you.”

“You’re saying her attitude is an affectation? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. I saw her stab a man to death.”

“Stab?” Merleyn leaned forward. “With a knife?”

“Yes.”

Merleyn flashed the Chief Inspector a wry smile. “Quite an achievement for someone who cannot stand the sight of blood.”

“What do you mean?”

“She can’t even look at a rare steak without going woozy.”

“We recorded her every move.” The Chief Inspector’s soft voice grew apologetic. “She killed someone in front of a security camera.”

Merleyn sat up straight again. “Seeing is believing.”

“You don’t believe me?”

“If you have her on tape, what are you talking to me for?”

“Background information.”

“Meaning, she wouldn’t tell you anything.” Merleyn snorted. “Maybe she made the correct assessment and I should follow her lead.”

“You paint a different picture than what I’ve seen so far,” Basalt said. “You sound convincing, but can you prove she’s like you say she is?”

“Prove?” Merleyn titled his head. “You’ve seen her limp?”

“Yes.”

“Did she tell you how she got it?”

Basalt shrugged. “I didn’t ask.”

“Last summer she spent a week in England for business meetings. I wasn’t able to accompany her, I had other commitments.”

“What is it you do?”

“I’m a musician. Anyway, she rented a motorcycle to ride around the countryside. Her way of unwinding. Despite her considerable experience riding motorcycles she ran off the road into a fence and skewered her thigh.” Merleyn paused to let it sink in. “You know what caused that accident? She nearly killed herself swerving to avoid running over a hedgehog. She might not look the type to pet puppies, but appearances might be deceiving.”

The Chief Inspector fell silent. Polak was still translating the last words and the blind man cocked his head. His English was impeccable. “Do I have an audience?”

“A small one,” Polak said. “I’m also with Amsterdam Municipal Police, and translating for a colleague from the United States, Ms. Cohn.”

Laure automatically inclined her head, sighed at her own stupidity, and said, “Hello.”

“What agency are you from, Ms. Cohn?”

“What makes you think I’m from an agency, Mr. Merlin?”

“It’s Merleyn. You’re too far from home for local or state police. What are you? FBI? CIA?”

“Mr. Merleyn,” Basalt interrupted. “You implied that your girlfriend affected a tough attitude.”

“I didn’t imply anything.” Merleyn turned back slowly to the Chief Inspector and spoke in measured tones. “I know she affects a tough attitude and I told you the reasons why to save you confusion on the issue.”

“Could you be wrong about this?”

Merleyn didn’t hesitate. “No.”

“Are you telling me you’re infallible?”

“Can I have some water?” Merleyn held out his hand with the commanding presence of someone used to having his wishes fulfilled. Basalt nodded at Polak, who went to the water fountain in the corner and filled a plastic cup. His free hand touched Merleyn’s wrist before he lowered the cup in the blind man’s grip. Merleyn drank the water and licked his lips. “Thanks.”

“So,” Basalt said. “How do you—”

“How long have we known each other?” Merleyn smiled in the Chief Inspector’s direction with an easy familiarity. “You and me?”

Basalt steepled his fingers. “I don’t think we met before today.”

“Right.” Merleyn put his hands together, as if unconsciously mirroring the Chief Inspector, then pointed at Basalt with his fingertips. “How do I know you are fifty‑plus years old, smoke cigars, don’t pay much attention to trends or fashion, are overweight, Protestant, and recently divorced?”

Basalt moved back imperceptibly, as if Merleyn had pushed him back in his chair.

Merleyn placed his hands on his knees again. “Am I right?”

“Yes. Yes, you are. How did you guess?”

“I didn’t ‘guess’, Chief Inspector. I pay attention.”

“Neat trick.”

“Don’t try to reduce my deduction to a parlour trick. You’re easy to read. You refer to my girlfriend as a ‘young woman’, so you’re obviously twenty or more years older. The cigars wasn’t difficult, nor the trends and fashion bit. The atrocious scent you doused yourself in to mask the smell of your unwashed body can’t have set you back more than a few euro. The floor vibrated as you entered the lounge, you wheezed when you sat and the chair complained under your weight. And like most married Protestants, you used to wear a wedding band on your right hand, long enough to form the indentation I noticed when I shook your hand.”

Basalt folded his arms. “I could’ve been a widower.”

“Doubtful,” Merleyn said. “If your wife had died, you would’ve worn both your wedding bands to honour her.”

“Not my wife,” Basalt said, drawing a chuckle from Polak.

Merleyn didn’t crack a smile. “You’re too bitter to have lost your wife. So she left you.”

“Listen, we’re not here to—”

“You missed the point, Basalt. I don’t care about you. Now, if I know this much about you after,” Merleyn ran his finger over his watch, “seventeen minutes, imagine how much I know about the woman I live with and actually care about. You arrested the wrong person. I’d know if my lover has homicidal tendencies.”

The Chief Inspector held up his hands. “Ms. Sieltjes is being questioned, not arrested.”

“You saw her kill someone and you didn’t arrest her?” Merleyn wrinkled his nose. “You ought to be ashamed, lying to the blind. Your evidence is virtually non‑existent, isn’t it?”

“We have a recording of your girlfriend committing a murder, Merleyn.”

“Something that would hold up in court? That would unmistakably show my lover, a respectable and successful businesswoman, without a criminal record or even a parking ticket to her name, stab someone to death despite having an aversion to blood?”

The silence in the room became oppressive. Merleyn leaned forward and said, “You know what I’d do? I’d swallow my pride and apologise to her before she’ll make you eat your mistake in court.”

About the Author:

Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam with two children, two cats, two rats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention.

Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work, especially when you’re a stickler for verisimilitude. When your protagonist is a seasoned killer, research can take you right up to Nietzsche’s abyss. Luckily, things get easier after the first few killings…

Apart from being an accomplished prevaricator, Martyn already possessed an eclectic variety of skills that qualified him to write the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Skills he shares with his deadly fictional characters…

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GO6VQ8O/

Read Martyn’s thoughts on his blog: http://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/

And his website http://tao-of-violence.weebly.com/

 

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Less Testosterone = More Civilization?

I stumbled across an article yesterday on Psychology Today titled “Did a Drop in Testosterone Civilize Modern Humans?” Basically, the article explains how the physical changes in Homo sapiens (skull and facial feature sizes and shapes) indicate a decrease in testosterone levels.

How is this possible? Studies have proven that impaired testosterone can lead to less “masculine” features among men: less prominent brows, a rounder face, etc. Higher testosterone levels lead to more masculine features, including a longer face and more prominent brows. So, the fact that the Homo sapiens’ skull and facial structure changed could very well be the result of lower testosterone levels.

But the article goes on to link these changes to an increase in civilization. Before Homo sapiens, there was little in the way of tools, language, written language, agriculture, and other early technology. Some pre-historic humans went extinct before Homo sapiens developed these things. If this correlation actually did exist, it could point to some pretty interesting things about the role of testosterone in society.

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for aggression in both men and women. One study found that increasing the levels of testosterone in the male brain led to increased reactivity of the hypothalamus, amygdala, and periaqueductal grey when confronted with angry facial expressions. The result: a higher aggression and threat-processing response. In the same test, MRI imaging revealed that men with lower testosterone levels responded less aggressively to the same stimuli.

We’ve all heard people talking about what would happen if women ruled the world, how there would be less violence and wars. Perhaps there is some truth to that! After all, women tend to have lower testosterone levels, meaning less reaction when confronted with anger or negative emotions that would trigger a threat-response or aggressive reaction in men.

This isn’t a dig against men—after all, I’m definitely fully in the “man” category of my species. But I find it an interesting look at the way our biochemistry could work against us.

As men, we have a natural reaction to respond to hostility with hostility. When we perceive someone or something as a threat, our instinct is to get aggressive and “deal with it”.

Time to stop and realize that it’s just our brains triggering that response! Once we realize that our instinctive reaction is biological instead of something that is actually thought through and analyzed, it may help us take a step back to avoid the hostility or confrontation. We could all afford to dial back the aggression a bit, so understanding the way our brains trigger this reaction gives us the power to say, “No, this is not how I actually feel, so I’m not going to react this way.”

Combat and aggression averted!

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The Origin of Bias and Prejudice

Sadly, it is human nature to be biased or prejudiced against those who are different from us. No matter how “evolved” we think we are, there will always be a subconscious reaction to the things that separate us from those around us and vice versa.

The belief that “opposites attract” is absolutely true. As humans, we are attracted to the new, unique, and novel. Our curiosity is aroused when we encounter something that is different from what we are familiar with. We have to explore it, study it, and find out as much as we can about it. The human brain has an innate desire to broaden our horizons and understandings.

Knowing that, it seems odd that we would feel bias or prejudice toward something that is different or new, right?

Well, it’s all about how our brains process new information. One new piece of information, we can absorb it no problem. Ten to twenty, sure! But when our brains are overloaded with new information, it can be too much all at once for us to handle. This triggers feelings of fear and distress—the primal instinct that protects us from danger.

When we are introduced to someone or something that is “too different” from what we know, it can bring on those feelings of fear and anxiety. The human response is aggression or avoidance of anything that causes those feelings. Thus, we are instinctively biased against the new or different because it makes us afraid.

Prejudice is defined as “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience”, while the definition of bias is “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.”

Notice how prejudice is “not based on reason or actual experience”? It’s just our brains responding to an overwhelming amount of new information that it isn’t equipped to handle. When we see someone of a different color, facial structure, sexual or gender identity, or hair color or hear an idea that is too far outside our normal way of thinking, our innate reaction is fear, disgust, and avoidance or rejection.

Understanding this is the key to overcoming bias and prejudice. Once we realize that bias is OUR fault—the fault of our brains being overloaded, really—it puts things into perspective. It’s on us to help our brain adapt to the new information (however long it takes) so that we can once again experience the wonder and joy of exploring the unknown.

 

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Book Review: Operation Badger by Tabitha Ormiston Smith

Today, I’m glad to bring another book by the wonderful Tabitha Ormiston Smith. I’ve reviewed three of her books in the past (Dance of Chaos, Operation Camilla, and Once Upon a Dragon). Now, I’ve got Operation Badger, her latest “cat mystery”.

Operation Badger

Detective Senior Constable Ben Jackson is handsome, kind, diligent, dedicated and a total mensch. He’s also as thick as two planks.
His girlfriend, Tammy, is clever as anything, but sillier than a wet hen.
And then there is Tom. Tom is a cat.
Follow this unlikely crime-busting trio as they bucket from one disaster to another.

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My Review: 4 Stars

I loved how quintessentially Australian this book was! The latest in the “Operation Tomcat” novels was as quirky and off-the-wall as I was hoping for. It wasn’t quite as funny or utterly over-the-top outrageous as the previous one, but it was still highly entertaining. Short, sweet, and a humorous read overall—just what I was expecting from the book.

I received it in exchange for an honest review, and I always smile when reading Tabitha’s books.

Here’s a Taste:

A wide, happy smile rose to Ben’s face as he stepped out of the bakery, the flat box carefully balanced. It was a new week, he was on afternoons, his favourite shift, the sun was shining and he had on a brand-new suit. He was on his way to work at a job he loved, and later he would go home to the most beautiful woman in the world. Everything in Ben’s life was just about perfect, he reckoned, and so on this perfect day he had detoured to the bakery on his way back from court for a box of fancy doughnuts to treat his mates in the squadroom.

Ben’s shoulders squared and his chin lifted as he stepped onto the wide pavement. Look at all those citizens going about their business. He was their protector, one link in the Thin Blue Line that separated the good people from the Bad Guys. Ever since he could remember, Ben had always wanted to be a policeman; it was his life’s dream come true. He was Living His Dream. Not bad for twenty-seven.

A klaxon shrieked and he almost dropped the box. Hell! It was the bank down the street. Two men ran out and piled into a rusty old vehicle, roaring away in a cloud of smoke. Shit! A robbery! Heart pounding, Ben raced to his car and fumbled to get the key in. The suspect vehicle was turning the corner at the Carrington Street intersection. If he got right after them.…

And then it happened. The keys dropped from his fingers, and as he grabbed for them his hand just grazed them, knocking them away, and as time slowed he seemed to watch in horror for an eternity as they sailed gracefully away towards the kerb.

Towards the stormwater drain.

As Ben launched himself in a flying tackle, right arm extended vainly grasping for his keys, he had an instant in which to reflect that he must look just like Superman flying through the air, and then he was down on his belly in the gutter, trying to suck in air against his winded diaphragm, watching as the keys slid slowly, but inexorably, out of sight.

About the Author:

Tabitha Ormiston-Smith has spent her life in the pursuit of a good laugh. This quest has taken her through financial reporting, Information Technology, the military, commercial recovery and degrees in Computer Science, Philosophy and Law. Still on the hunt, now Tabitha shares her kills with her readers.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Badger-Tomcat-Book-ebook/dp/B071HGP7T5

Read Tabitha’s thoughts on her website: http://tormistonsmith.wix.com/tabitha

Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OrmistonSmith/

Tweet at her: @OrmistonSmith

 

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Guest Post: Top 13 Authentic Sites for Stock Photography

Today, I’ve got a guest post along the vein of a previous post: Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Stock Photography Sites. Someone contacted me with a list of stock photography sites they recommended, and I had to share them with you.

Our guest author, Jacky Chou, has gone over some of the lesser-known stock photography sites and shares his opinion on each:

1. EyeEm

In my experienced opinion, EyeEm is the ultimate stock photography resource for most content creators. I have used a lot, and done a lot of research, and no other site even manages to come close to the effectiveness of EyeEm, in my system of value, anyway. I love looking at the high-resolution, carefully curated, creative images that end up on this site.

2. Gratisography

Gratisography stands alone in second place on my list. It is very good. Not quite the best, but definitely separates itself from the pack in many ways. Why? Well, first of all, the photos themselves are very good. Mostly, I appreciate the way that categories are established and organized. There are straightforward, literal search categories like “People”, but also more evocative ones such as “Whimsical.” Personally, this suits me well.  More photos are always being added, and, as of now, this is already one of the best collections on the web.

3. MMT

Here is the first “niche” site to end up on this list, and one of the only ones. Generally, I judge niche sites quite harshly for their lack of versatility, but MMT manages to do it wisely and well. They seem to focus on two very distinct, different categories of image. Flowers and Nature, and Offices. If you think about it, these two general themes can be used for a wide variety of content. I mean, “office” doesn’t exactly scream “variety” but the amount of content writing that relates to workplace culture is quite significant. Flowers and Nature, on the other hand, has to be one of the most versatile thematic choices somebody can make. MMT aces both of these categories, which gives them an oddly broad appeal. The images themselves are incredibly well selected.

4. StockSnap.io

StockSnap is a great site. Great in quality, but also, great in sheer size. The quantity is substantial here, and leaves nothing to be desired. Even though higher quantity generally means less consistency in regards to high-quality, this website manages the balance quite admirably. In fact, I didn’t notice more “bad” photos here than most other sites, which is impressive, based on the amount that they are constantly adding; and the additions happen on a daily basis.

5. Unsplash

With every 10 days that pass, Unsplash adds another 10 photos to their impressive collection. No, it isn’t as substantial as a collection in size as many others, but the quality is hard to parallel. I really like this website and its impressive collection of images, and find myself on Unsplash on a fairly regular basis, admiring their new additions.

6. Negative Space

Negative Space does all the little things right, and takes care of business in a way that is quite admirable. The images are high-res, clearly chosen with care, and, best of all, completely free of charge. The organization also earns some bonus marks, as searching within the 14 distinct categories makes for user-friendly browsing.

7. Freestocks.org

Freestocks.org is an underrated source of high-quality images. It is not particularly exceptional, but, as the name suggests, it is a quality site for free stock photographs. That’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?

8. Picography

I enjoy the time I spend on Picography. Dave Meier created this site, and is the main contributor, but he has also put together a team of skilled, creative photographers and photo contributors. I highly recommend Picography if you’re looking for high-quality photos for free.

9. Death to Stock

Death to Stock is pretty odd, but it is also quite cool. Death to Stock runs itself as a service. Rather than skimming through a mass catalogue, Death to Stock sends 10 groovy new images to your email inbox on a monthly basis. Based on the name of the site, one could safely assume that Death to Stock is trying to change the game and subvert typical Stock Photography practices… However, as well as their neat photo packs, they offer a premium package that lets you dive into their entire 1500+ catalogue for a small fee. Based on what I’ve seen of their work, I would assume that this is a worthwhile purchase, if you’re willing to pay.

10. Picjumbo

There is nothing wrong with Picjumbo. The photos are good. It is categorized in an efficient, user-friendly way. I use it every now and then and never have a single complaint.

11. New Old Stock

This is an example of a “limited” niche, but I still think it is worth recommending due to the integrity and quality of the images. New Old Stock specializes in old-school, vintage images that give a very Americana, classic vibe. If you’re not into that, look elsewhere. If your content can benefit from that feeling, then head there right away and take it in. I really like these images and it’s a good site.

12. Getrefe

I’m not typically one for gimmicks, but the image collection on Getrefe is impressive even without knowing its major quirk. What’s the quirk? Every image hosted by Getrefe has actually been taken by the camera on a mobile phone.

13. Kaboom Pics

Rounding out my list of 13– last, but just ever so slightly “least” in such elite company: Kaboom Pics. I often use this site, and have no complaints! Great images, solid interface. I have used a few images from here, and I am sure I’ll be returning!

About the Author

jacky-chou__1___1___1_ (1)

Jacky Chou is a digital marketing consultant, founder of Indexsy and Reputations.io, and he is pretty good with a stapler.

 

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