Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: July 2017

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Book Review: Thief of the Night Guild by Andy Peloquin

As is my tradition with each new book launch, I like to share some of the reviews posted for the book. These reviews aren’t written by me (that would be cheating!), but they’re written by independent, third-party, unbiased reviewers.

Thief of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 2)

“I am Ilanna, Journeyman of House Hawk. I do the impossible.”

A cunning thief of unrivaled ingenuity, Ilanna is determined to secure her freedom. Nothing will prevent her escape from the Night Guild’s callous cruelty, not even the most powerful man in Praamis, Duke Phonnis.

Thief of the Night Guild Cover

Commanding a crew of pickpockets, bounty hunters, poisoners, and assassins, Ilanna schemes to disgrace the Duke. She must survive blackmail, a bloodthirsty rival syndicate, and enemies within her own House to claim her spoils: vengeance for the deaths of her friends and gold to buy independence.

But all Ilanna’s skill may not suffice to protect the one person who matters most: her son.

Reviews:

5 Stars: “Peloquin shifts gears with this book. While the last one was more biopic, following GiRL from the age of seven until her early twenties as she has her ups and downs dealing with her rival, the brutal Sabot, this book is a heist thriller through and through. And with all the grimdark fantasy elements Peloquin is so skilled at balancing.

Thief of the Night Guild is a riveting read, keeping you following the intricacies of Ilanna plan as she has to overcome new obstacles, deal with dubious allies, and race against the clock to get everything ready for her window. Because if she doesn’t, more than she will pay the price.” – RJ Reviews on Amazon

4 Stars: “If you thought the little one was a bada$$ before you have NOT seen anything yet. This author says he wanted to show that women can be strong and powerful and resourceful and he surely does. Wonderful read, imagery that puts you in the midst of all the action.” – Teri on Amazon

5 Stars: “Rarely have I come across a book, a series, written so eloquently, full of passion, joy, trauma, adventure, determination, and a will to succeed above anything else. What does one write after reading such perfection? Thief of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves #2) is a perfect rendition of the exact manner in which one should write a fantasy novel.” – Tiffany Landers Have You Heard on Goodreads

5 Stars: “OMG. My head is still spinning. This book is totally unpredictable and had me on a rollercoaster of emotions.” – Lesia Connelly Vargas on Goodreads

 

I’m thrilled by the positive reception so far, and I can’t WAIT until the 2 and 3-star reviews come rolling in so I can learn how I can make the next book (Queen of the Night Guild) even better!

Find Thief of the Night Guild on Amazon

 

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Thief of the Night Guild is LIVE!

And it’s officially HERE!!!!

As usual, forgive the overuse of exclamation points, but I get excited on Book Launch Day.

This one is particularly special because this story deals with some pretty deep, delicate issues. If you read everything that happened to Ilanna in Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1), you know that she suffered some pretty deep emotional, psychological, and physical wounds. Thief of the Night Guild showcases how she’s living with them, and what she does to heal from them one day at a time.

Thief of the Night Guild Cover

“I am Ilanna, Journeyman of House Hawk. I do the impossible.”

A cunning thief of unrivaled ingenuity, Ilanna is determined to secure her freedom. Nothing will prevent her escape from the Night Guild’s callous cruelty, not even the most powerful man in Praamis, Duke Phonnis.

Commanding a crew of pickpockets, bounty hunters, poisoners, and assassins, Ilanna schemes to disgrace the Duke. She must survive blackmail, a bloodthirsty rival syndicate, and enemies within her own House to claim her spoils: vengeance for the deaths of her friends and gold to buy independence.

But all Ilanna’s skill may not suffice to protect the one person who matters most: her son.

Get it Now on Amazon

Action, adventure, betrayal, murder, loss, sorrow, death, intrigue, mystery, and more–this is the thrilling dark fantasy adventure you will not want to miss!

 

I’ll be doing a LIVE reading from Thief of the Night Guild at the Dominion Rising Launch Party.

I’ll also be talking about the book and its themes in tonight’s special episode of The Fantasy Fiends Podcast Ep 010: Toxic Relationships. We’ll also have a special 6-person reenactment of one of the best scenes from the book. Join in on the fun!

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Is Religion a “Safety Net”?

It’s an odd question, but one that’s been in my head for a few years thanks to this picture:

Funny, right? However, if you stop to think about it, it’s actually a bit chilling.

A 17th century philosopher named Blaise Pascal came up with “Pascal’s Wager” in which he approached religion from the standpoint of odds and outcomes:

  • If I believe in God and there is no God, I lose nothing.
  • If I don’t believe in God and there is a God, I suffer eternal damnation.

Logically speaking, everyone would believe in God just to avoid hellfire and suffering, right? Religion is a good “safety net”. We’re hedging our bets against what actually happens after we die, even if we have NO idea what happens or even if anything happens.

But is that actually a good reason to believe? Is that even true belief? Heck, from that standpoint, is there one belief that’s “safer” than others? Is Islam safer than Buddhism, or is Protestantism a better choice than Orthodoxy? Approaching it from this angle, you’re looking at a “numbers game” rather than true faith.

I wish I could have some simple, reductionist answer to this question. However, given that it’s stumped philosophers and theologians for centuries, I’m okay not having “the answer”.

Instead, I’m going to use an example that has stuck with me for decades, courtesy of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.

At the end of the series, one of the minor characters is in “Heaven”, but he’s freaking out because he served Tash, the antithesis of the God-esque Aslan. This is what happens:

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.”

“But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?”

“The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.”

That little scene blew my teenaged mind in a way no Bible verse or religious text ever had. It gave me the simple answer that I still hold onto today:

  • Good deeds are to the credit of the positive force in the universe, by whatever name you call Him/Her
  • Bad deeds are to the credit of the negative force in the universe, by whatever name you call Him/Her

Actions = consequences, good or bad. The deity/spiritual entity you’re doing them for is far less important than the fact that you’re doing them. I believe that is the “safety net” that will serve you best in the afterlife or next life. The name you use is far less important!

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Time to Get Rid of Shame!

Shame, like ALL negative emotions, have a place in life. Or at least had a place in our primitive societies.

Shame is defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Looking at human society from the perspective of a “pack”, shame lets us know when we’re doing something wrong so we “stay in line” to avoid being rejected by the pack. In the wild, solitude means vulnerability. Staying in a pack is the key to survival.

But now, in our modern society, shame is a negative emotion that may be doing more harm than good. We are no longer part of a pack, but we are a society made up of individuals, each with their own unique quirks and characteristics. We’re not dependent on the alphas for food and survival, but we’re able to live in our own little “pack of one”. The feelings that kept our primitive ancestors alive may no longer be necessary.

Shame stops us from doing things that could damage important social relationships, thus preventing our devaluation. But if it becomes the strongest feeling in our lives, it can stop you from doing things that could lead to healthy social relationships.

Think about it: how many people attended comic book conventions when it was seen as “dorky” or “geeky”? I’ve had so many people tell me, “Oh, I remember when San Diego Comic Con was just 1,000 people.” Now, you get numbers in the hundreds of thousands attending a single event, coming from around the world. What was once a potentially “shameful” activity is now accepted as the norm.

Shame is no longer needed to survive, so it’s time to get rid of it. We need to stop being ashamed of the things we like, love, want, need, and feel. Shame will distort our perspective on things, tell us it’s “wrong” or “bad”. Really, shame is a form of anxiety—our worries that something we do will make you undesirable or devalued.

Say no to shame! Don’t let that anxiety stop you from doing something if it makes you happy, or to be who you want to be. Understand that shame is an instinctive reaction intended to keep you alive, but don’t let it control you. Knowledge is power, so know your shame and take power over it.

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Book Review: Amaskan’s Blood by Raven Oak

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got a treat: an award-winning novel by the amazing Raven Oak. This book had some fascinating themes, some of which we covered in our Fantasy Fiends Podcast Episode #003: What is Family, Really? This is a book I’m very certain you will enjoy!

Amaskan’s Blood

Her name was Adelei.

She was a master in her field, one of the feared Order of Amaska. Those who were a danger to the Little Dozen Kingdoms wound up dead by her hand. The Order sends her deep into the Kingdom of Alexander, away from her home in Sadai, and into the hands of the Order’s enemy.

The job is nothing short of a suicide mission, one serving no king, no god, and certainly not Justice. With no holy order to protect her, she tumbles dagger-first into the Boahim Senate’s political schemes and finds that magic is very much alive and well in the Little Dozen Kingdoms.final_front

While fighting to unravel the betrayal surrounding the royal family of Alexander, she finds her entire past is a lie, right down to those she called family. They say the truth depends on which side of the sword one stands, but they never said what to do when all the swords are pointing at you.

Amidst her enemies, in a land from the darkest reaches of her past, she must decide if she is to be more than another brainwashed puppet. No matter her choice, she must fight to do what is just and right to save the people of the Little Dozen.

My Review: 5 Stars

A very well-crafted story, one that explored some very emotionally intense and intricate issues. From the first page, I was drawn to the story of Adelei and her journey from the only home she’s ever known (that of an assassin) to the city and country that should actually BE her home. A fascinating look at the truth of what makes someone family—blood, loyalty, love, emotional ties, duty, respect, and more.

There were parts that I had a hard time reading (slowed down a bit), but once I got through them, I enjoyed the story immensely. Highly recommended!

Here’s a Taste:

The sleeping woman in his arms shifted, her heel connecting with his shin. The jagged scar to the right of her eye bunched together with worry lines. One of her hands flitted to the scar tissue along her throat, and she whimpered in rhythm to the twitching of the facial muscles around her eyes.

“Shhhhh,” King Leon murmured, running his thumb down her jawline. Through the deep blue bed curtains, tiny hints of light streamed in from one of four windows which left most of the room dark in the early dawn.

Even with the lack of light, the scar running parallel to her jaw stood out in contrast to the others along her body. The puffy and angry line stretched the full width of her neck, from ear to ear. Ten years together, and still she never spoke of it, never talked of the wound that walked in and out of her nightmares.

She thought she’d kept her past from him, but a few paid informants gained a king whatever information he wished. That and the fact that she talked in her sleep. A smile lifted the corners of his thin lips as he stared at the woman wrapped beneath the heavy winter blankets.

His thumb froze at the shift in her breathing, and he peered down to find blue eyes staring up at him. Instead of their usual humor, the deep, blue pools were haunted by shadows, and the smile fell from his lips. “What is it, Ida? What’s bothering you so? Was it something in Sadai?”

“I begged you not to send me.” The scar across her throat jumped when she spoke, and her voice resembled gravel.

“Since when has my sepier been afraid of anything?” The former captain of the royal guard didn’t answer as another tear slid down a cheek more gaunt than it had been a few months before. “Ida, love, I know you hate Sadai, but we all must make sacrifices for duty.”

Her body stilled while long pale fingers gripped the bed sheets. “You know nothin’.”

Leon didn’t know what shocked him more, that she was angry with him or that she was afraid.

“‘Twas a mistake to return to Sadai,” she whispered.

“I sent a woman I trust into that country, a tenacious spy who feared nothing, and she’s returned to me broken. I was going to wait until the sun rose before asking for your report, but considering your tears, I have to ask. What happened? What brought you back early and afraid?”

Ida rose from the bed, her bare feet picking their way across clothing strewn haphazardly on the floor from a few hours before when she’d returned.

The look on her face had led him to ask no questions, but as she stood in the sprinkling of sunlight the morning brought, dread seeped into Leon’s bones. Her fifty years did little to mar her body, but a decade of leading battles had left scars aplenty across her frame, and Leon frowned to see a fresh mark across her thigh, its scab already sloughing off and healing.

“I’ve failed you, Your Majesty.”

“Were you not successful then in finding the location of the Order of Amaska?”

Her lips trembled. “I—I was successful, Your Majesty.”

King Leon sucked air through clenched teeth much too fast, and the ever-present congestion in his lungs leapt forth. Another coughing spasm whipped through him.

Stars danced before his eyes, and Ida’s footsteps sounded nearby. Shortly after, she pressed the mug into his waiting hands. Some of the medicine sloshed out of the cup before it found his lips, and several swallows later, the spasm passed, leaving hope in its wake. “Where is the Order located?”

“Sire, there’s more—”

“Where are they?”

“They’re near the coast, near the town of Haif—”

He was two feet out of bed and halfway to the door before he remembered the need for clothing, and despite his bruised lungs, he quickly dug through his clothes chest. Leon seized the first clothes his fingers touched: an old pair of breeches a touch too loose at the waist, and an undershirt that bore a hole from a moth.

He didn’t care what he looked like. After thirteen years, he had finally found the men who had massacred his family. His giddy footsteps carried him across the room where he rang for a page. When the boy appeared, Leon said, ”I need Captain Fenton brought to my sitting room immediately.”

When the door shut behind the young page, Leon haphazardly dug through a box of letters. “Once Michael arrives, you’ll tell us both about their location. We have plans to make.”

“There’s more, and you must hear it alone.”

When he faced her again, she knelt on the stone floor, and her shoulder length hair spilled limply across her face. “What more is there? After thirteen years, I finally have the location of the bastards. Today is a good day, Ida. Today I will have my revenge.”

“Will ya march across Sadai’s borders to take it?”

“If necessary.”

“You’d bring the wrath of the Boahim Senate down upon us? Would you rip this land apart again for ‘nother pointless war?”

King Leon took her hands into his own as he knelt down beside her. “I thought you would understand this. Those bastards killed my wife. My daughter. What else would you have me do? The Boahim Senate has done nothing to stop the Amaskans. If they won’t seek justice, then I will.”

About the Author

Award-winning and bestselling speculative fiction author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood (2016 Ozma Fantasy Award Winner and Epic Awards Finalist)Class-M Exileand the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays (Foreword Reviews 2016 Book of the Year Finalist). Raven spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet.

When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on with tabletop games, indulging in cartography, or staring at the ocean. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amaskans-Blood-Boahim-Series-Volume/dp/0990815706

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32722359-amaskan-s-blood
Visit Raven’s website: www.ravenoak.net
Tweet at her: http://twitter.com/raven_oak

Connect on Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorroak

And Google+: https://www.google.com/+RavenOak

 

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The Misshaping Effects of Childhood Trauma

Our childhood is often called “the formative years”, and for very good reason! As hundreds of studies have proven, the things we see, learn, and encounter during our childhood years often stick with us for the rest of our lives. And, the traumas we experience will play a significant role in the formation of our identities as adults.

Psychology Today posted an interesting article describing ways that developmental trauma can affect adult identities. For example:

People who say “I never really had a childhood” are often missing pieces of their childhood because their brains suppressed traumatic memories. They’ll often have vivid memories, but their recollections of their childhood will often be disjointed or lacking context.

People who tend to self-destructive relationships are often repeating the trauma they experienced in their relationship with an important figure (key caregivers) in their lives. Unconsciously, they are repeating that relationship over and over.

People who say “I’ve always felt a part of myself was missing” may have dissociated themselves from a traumatic memory or experience in order to cope with it. They may also rely heavily on one aspect of their persona, leaving other aspects underdeveloped or even ignored.

People who avoid relationships are often those who have experienced trauma involving intimate relationships during their developmental years. They isolate themselves as a method of protection from further pain.

People who say “I don’t really have strong feelings about things” often come from families where strong emotions weren’t important or didn’t belong. Emotional numbing doesn’t actually mean people don’t feel emotions; they simply don’t know how to process, predict, or manage them.

People who avoid thinking or talking about themselves are often trying to avoid recalling negative memories from their developmental years. Any reminder could bring those memories bubbling up, which is why they prefer to avoid it.

Fascinating, isn’t it? So many of us have these attitudes or perceptions, so it’s interesting to examine them critically and find out WHY we think and act this way.

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