November 2017 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: November 2017

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Book Review: Fire Eyes Awakened by R.J. Batla

It’s Book Review Wednesday (even though this post goes live on Thursday), and I’ve got a treat! This book has the classic fantasy flavor (complete with elves and dwarves and other races), but with just a hint Avatar: The Last Airbender or Mortal Kombat thrown in for good measure. One heck of a fun adventure story!

Fire Eyes Awakened

Jayton Baird worked for years to save enough for his powers to be Awakened, becoming a Senturian. Protectors of Terranum from the terrors on the West Side. This power comes with a price – Jayton becomes the most powerful Senturian Awakened in a hundred years. And the most feared.

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With an invasion imminent and a death sentence over his head, Jayton is chosen to fight in a gladiator style tournament to prevent a potent weapon from falling into the hands of an enemy bent on conquest. A team of elite warriors escorts him on the trek fraught with danger.

Can Jayton and his team survive long enough to complete his mission, or will the dark power burning inside consume him?

My Review: 4.5 Stars

I enjoyed the heck out of this book! It was a fun read, and it reminded me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender—complete with element-based powers used exactly like I remember Avatar. But it was done well enough that it didn’t feel like a rip-off or copy.

The characters were well-developed and interesting, and I loved the bits and pieces of the world of Terraunum I got in the story. The narrative style was unusual for fantasy stories, but a lot of fun to read. Don’t go into this expecting philosophical insights or thought-provoking moral quandaries—it’s an action adventure story that will keep you reading from one page to the next.

Here’s a Taste:

Everyone else moved – I just stayed put and breathed deep, gathering my power even more. It was almost like electricity running through my veins, hot and thick in my muscles and bones. The more I readied, the harder it was to contain it all. The energy wanted out. To be used.

“Twenty seconds,” Troup said in our ears. The earth actually started to rumble a little. “Ten seconds.”

Energizing my shield and sword, I felt the others do the same, saw the light from their weapons. I took a deep, steadying breath, and dropped into a fighting stance. “Here we go.”

Heat erupted from my back as Morgan let loose two huge streams of fire, each as big as a house. Orcs and ogres burst from the forest, roaring and shaking their weapons. Ice spears shot in all directions from the Water Senturians, Euless let loose with yellow energy blasts as thick as my leg, Josey and Sonora both sent blasts in various directions, Katy shot energy, and Leona fire. And me – I looked up about two stories into the face of the biggest damned troll I’d ever seen.

Twenty-feet tall, carrying a freaking tree trunk for a club, with warted and marbled, gray skin, blunted features, and no armor on at all, it gorilla-ran toward us.

I guess that was mine. Now trolls were big, but they were dumb. I was talking DUMB in all caps. Which didn’t help much when they slugged your butt over the leftfield bleachers with a tree, but hey, it was an advantage as long as they didn’t get close enough to touch you.

So I grabbed an ogre with my telekinesis and hit the troll with it.

Ogres are the bottom rung on the monster food chain – there was a whole lot of them, but as a singular entity, they didn’t pose much of a threat to a trained Senturian. So hitting a troll with one, well, that pissed a troll right off. And soured his mood to all the other ogres around him. Which he turned to snarl at. Which was when, if one were so inclined, one could hurl his returning sword, which would then impale itself in the soft spot on the back of the troll’s head, their only real weak point, right between the skull plates, and thus dispatch of said monstrosity. There, see how easy it was? Oh, you only had about three seconds to pull the whole thing off though. Forgot to mention that. Good thing I was a badass.

The troll landed with a thud, crushing an ogre in the process. The other monsters didn’t hesitate, simply swarmed around and over the dead troll to get to us.

“Nice, Jay,” Anton said in my ear.

“Jay, we’re gonna need your help!” came a call from Morgan and Royn.

Running around the circle formed by the team, firing energy blasts as I ran, I found them up to their ears in ogres, skints, and werewolves. Skints were like werewolves, only lizards.

Oh, there was a dragon, too.

Like, the big, winged lizard, fire breath, almost-impenetrable-skin type dragon. The ones that were extremely rare, and no one hardly ever saw. This particular monster happened to be black as night, huge wings folded on its back, snarling and thrashing, getting ready to take a bite out of my friends.

“I’m guessing this is mine?” I asked, turning the corner, planting my feet and hurling a boulder at the beast at the same time.

“Cor et Anima!” I said, my sword appearing in my hand. My boulder connected, right on the top of the head of the black reptile, which did about as much good as a wet paper towel.

Marlin, Celeste, and Arp kept up a barrage of ice spears, water jets, and steam blasts, forcing many of the ogres and other creatures to dive for cover. Anton launched attacks as well, which boded well, since he wouldn’t be in attack mode if Gilmer needed help.

The dragon’s attention, thanks to the boulder, swung to me.

What I meant to do? Yes.

Did I underestimate the scary factor? You bet your ass.

Thirty foot black wings snapped open, knocking over ogres and werewolves too slow to get out of the way. Black scales a foot in diameter glistened in the sunlight, powerful legs ending in three-foot-long talons dug into the earth. It turned and screamed at me and my eardrums almost burst. Clapping my hands to my ears, I was frozen in place.

Which was exactly what it was waiting for. A huge stream of fire burst from its open maw past the hundreds of dagger teeth. Dashing to the side, I barely escaped the inferno, but my arm stung. The dragon saw me in my new position, took a deep breath, and fired. Again, I had to dodge, but this time I kept running, bringing its line of fire away from my friends.

“Jay, we need help,” Celeste cried.

“A little busy,” I replied, dodging a fireball, parrying a talon with my sword, and generally trying to stay alive. Someone screamed somewhere – I couldn’t tell who. Not knowing what else to do, I sheathed my sword, brought both hands up at the same time – one with dirt, the other with water. “Here’s mud in your eye!” I said, slamming the mixture into the creature’s face.

Yeah, it roared. And yeah, it was scary. But it bought me time.

“Who screamed?” I said through our communicator, turning and running, though not knowing where.

“Josey,” Sonora said. “She’s been hit with some kind of javelin. I’m holding them off as best I… ugh –”

“Sonora!”

About the Author:

I’m R.J. Batla, author of AGAINST THE BEAST and FIRE EYES AWAKENED, with future books well underway.

I’ve always been fascinated by fantasy novels and the worlds that authors create, and have been an avid fan and reader since I picked up the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid. The process of creating my own has been long, but it has been well worth it! I hope people can enjoy the books as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them.

Fantasy Author, Christian, husband, and father, I enjoy everything outdoors and spend as much time as I can with my family and friends.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073TC2Y8F

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35671211-fire-eyes-awakened

Read Ryan’s thoughts on his website: rjbatla.com

Tweet at him: @RJBatlaAuthor

Connect via Facebook: fb.me/rjbatlaauthor

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The Eight Qualities of Personality Disorders

As many of you know, I’m fascinated by all things neurological, psychological, and emotional. Since my ASD diagnosis a few years ago, I’ve loved studying more about the human brain, mind, and psyche—both what makes us tick like healthy clocks, and what throws off the inner works. This, of course, includes personality disorders.

I found this fascinating article on Psychology Today that lists the eight qualities of personality disorders. These include:

  • Domineering
  • Vindictive
  • Cold
  • Socially avoidant
  • Nonassertive
  • Exploitable
  • Overly nurturant
  • Intrusive

What’s interesting is that most of the personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) feature two or more of these traits. But the specific combination of traits change according to the type of disorder.

People with Paranoid disorders tend to be vindictive or cold.

People with Schizoid disorders tend to combine social avoidance with a sort of coldness. Schizoid individuals are far less likely to try to exploit you than others on this list.

People with Schizotypal disorders tend to combine coldness, vindictiveness, and avoidance. These people are usually to be odd, eccentric, and socially awkward.

People with Antisocial disorders tend to be highly domineering, vindictive, and intrusive, and often can be cold. These are the “extreme of the psychopathic personality”.

People with Borderline disorders tend to be intrusive and vindictive.

People with Histrionic disorders tend to be domineering and intrusive, but NOT socially avoidant or cold.

People with Narcissistic disorders tend to be domineering, intrusive, cold, and vindictive.

People with Avoidant disorders tend to be socially avoidant and cold, but very unlikely to be intrusive or domineering.

People with Dependent disorders tend to be highly intrusive, with almost no risk of domineering personalities. They’re also highly exploitative and vindictive.

People with Obsessive-compulsive disorders can feature any combination of the eight. According to the article, “Individuals who fit the criteria of excessive perfectionism, inflexibility, and restricted expression of emotions may have trouble at work or in relationships. They may also, however, achieve higher status and wealth, as other research has indicated. There’s a trade-off, then, when an individual has such an extreme work ethic that he or she may pay less attention to relationships.”

 

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Book Review: Coilhunter by Dean Wilson

For Book Review Wednesday, I’ve something a bit unusual. It’s a classic Western-style story (complete with runaway mine cart!), but with elements of steampunk thrown in. Definitely a book worth reading if you want to try something new.

Coilhunter

Welcome to the Wild North, a desolate wasteland where criminals go to hide—if they can outlast the drought and the dangers of the desert. Or the dangers of something else.

Meet Nox, the Coilhunter. A mechanic and toymaker by trade, a bounty hunter by circumstance. He isn’t in it for the money. He’s in it for justice, and there’s a lot of justice that needs to be paid.
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Between each kill, he’s looking for someone who has kept out of his crosshairs for quite a while—the person who murdered his wife and children. The trail has long gone cold, but there are changes happening, the kind of changes that uncover footprints and spent bullet casings.

Plagued by nightmares, he’s made himself into a living one, the kind the criminals and conmen fear.

So, welcome, fair folk, to the Wild North. If the land doesn’t get you, the Coilhunter will.

My Review: 5 Stars

I didn’t know what to expect from this novel, as I’m not a huge fan of Westerns. But I LOVED this book from start to finish!

It had the gritty, grim feel of a classic spaghetti Western, but the addition of the steampunk elements made it truly fantastical. It was one of those books that kept me turning the pages—I literally read the entire book in two or three sittings.

Not only was it a lot of fun, but the character of the Coilhunter was very well-developed. I loved his way of speaking (again, classic spaghetti Western mannerisms and expressions), but it was the deeper character elements that made him a character I could truly sympathize with. I can’t wait to dive into Rustkiller, the second part in this series.

Here’s a Taste:

His boots made a rhythmic thud against the floor, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. His boots were the first thing you noticed. Then the eyes travelled up, saw the long, deep blue coat and the holstered pistols, and turned away swiftly again when they spotted the mask and tubes beneath that deep blue hat.

Thud.

The people who recognised him had a dozen different names for him, and all of them were grim. The Coilhunter. The Sandsweeper. The Masked Menance. The people who didn’t recognise him would come up with new names of their own very soon.

Thud.

He kept an even pace, slow and steady, the kind of pace that was at odds with the frantic heartbeats of the onlookers at the inn. One of his arms swung like a pendulum, and it reminded people of the fleeting pace of time. The other arm did not move at all; it stayed at his side, close to his gun.

Thud.

A little mechanical duck waddled along behind him, creaking and squeaking, its wide eyes matching those of the people who dared to look. It was a toy, a kind of wind-up device full of springs and cogs, and yet many knew that it was a dangerous toy.

Thud.

He scoured the room with his eyes, piercing everyone, almost piercing the walls as well. The mask accentuated his stare, as did the black lines around his eyes. The brim of his hat cast a shadow that made the whites of his eyes stand out even more.

The final thud seemed a little louder. He halted, then reached for his coat pocket, and people flinched. He held up a rolled-up poster, and let it unfurl noisily in his hand, revealing the mugshot of a criminal, Old Mad Jack, the ominous word Wanted, and the prize of one hundred coils beneath. Cold, hard coils, traded for the cold, hard dead.

“This man,” he said, his voice muffled by the mask, yet not muffled enough to hide the grit. “Ya seen ‘im?” He prodded the paper with his dust-covered finger, the kind of finger exposed almost constantly to the sand and the sun. The kind of finger that spent a lot of time on a trigger.

Most heads turned away. A few braver souls gave the slightest shake of their heads. There was no one brave enough to talk. The duck shuffled up to the Coilhunter’s foot and gave an ominous little quack.

A puff of dark smoke came from a vent on the left side of the Coilhunter’s mask. No one knew why. On the other side, pipes connected the mask to a cylinder on his back, where he also kept a strapped guitar and a four-barrel shotgun.

“Ya see,” he croaked, “I know this man came this way, and there ain’t no other rum-hole for miles. They say Old Mad Jack’s a drinker, and I say a drinker cannot pass a rum-hole without poppin’ in for a drink.”

The barmaid tensed up at the bar, polishing a dirty glass a little more vigorously than before.

“So,” the Coilhunter continued, “let me repeat this, and let me tell ya that I don’t like repeatin’ things: this man … any o’ you here fine fellows seen ‘im?”

Three men playing cards in the corner exchanged nervous glances. The Coilhunter caught them, and strolled over. The duck stayed where it was in the centre of the room, watching everyone.

“You boys,” the Coilhunter said, gesturing with the chin of his mask to them. “Good game, is it?”

“J-j-just a game o’ Don,” the oldest replied, the cards trembling in his hands.

“You wan’ in?” the youngest asked. The others scolded him with their eyes.

The Coilhunter drew real close, close enough that they could see the cracks in his weathered skin. “I want an answer to my question.” He hammered the poster onto the table, over the cards. Old Mad Jack stared up at them. “Get a real good look-see, and each o’ ya tell me one by one that you ain’t seen him ‘fore I put his ugly mug down on this table.”

The youngest looked like he was about to say something. Only the stares of his companions stopped him. The Coilhunter placed a hand on his shoulder and turned his chair around. The youth held up his cards before him like a shield.

“You look like a smart boy,” the Coilhunter said. “The kind o’ boy with a good memory and a good eye. Maybe a good eye for faces. Maybe a good mouth for speakin’ who those faces are.”

“I might have—” He cut himself short, silenced by the glances of the others.

“Where’s your manners, boy? You’re talkin’ to me. You look at me.” He gestured with his hand towards his own grim eyes. The exhaust in his mask let out another menacing puff of smoke.

The young man looked back, keeping his cards up. They wouldn’t help him.

“I ain’t got all day,” the Coilhunter told him. “You ain’t got all day either.”

“H-h-he’s out b-back.”

The Coilhunter smiled. He knew they could not see it behind his mask, but they could see it in his eyes.

“He ain’t out back,” a voice said from far across the room behind him. As the Coilhunter turned, he saw Old Mad Jack standing behind the bar, rifle in hand. “He’s right here.”

 

About the Author:

Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11.

He is the author of the Children of Telm epic fantasy trilogy, the Great Iron War steampunk series, the Coilhunter Chronicles science-fiction western series, the Hibernian Hollows urban fantasy series, and the Infinite Stars space opera series.

Dean previously worked as a journalist, primarily in the field of technology. He has written for TechEye, Thinq, V3, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer. He is also a USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author.

 

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4OYM2L/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33977027/
Visit Dean’s website: http://www.deanfwilson.com

Connect with him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deanfwilson

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/deanfwilson

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DeanFWilson

 

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How to Deal with Regret

Regret is an emotion we experience as a result of an action we have taken. Specifically, we wish we hadn’t taken that action, as it led to hurt: your own or that of someone else. The action may have cost you emotionally or led to some unintended consequence or punishment. Basically, you did something, and something bad happened to you or someone else as a result.  The feelings of sorrow, guilt, anger, and hurt are your mind’s reaction: regret.

Regret can be a sign that you are an emotionally healthy person (someone who CAN feel bad for their actions—unlike sociopaths, who don’t truly feel bad). However, if regret builds up too much, it can stop you from growing as a person.  Or, it can impact your life in truly detrimental ways.

As an example, I’ll use the character Naylor from At Any Cost, one of the short stories in the Different, Not Damaged collection. Naylor carries around an overwhelming burden of regret as a result of his actions: he abandoned his friends on the night the Hunter of Voramis massacred the Bloody Hand (in Blade of the Destroyer). Even though he fled out of a desire to survive, he labors under the guilt of knowing that his friends died and he is the only one to live—also known as “Survivor’s Guilt“. Because of that guilt, he cannot lead a happy life, and he is willing to sacrifice everything in order to be free of the burden.

Regret can be a burden that follows us around every day, and it can weigh us down so much that it seems we’ll never get out from beneath it. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to deal with regret—according to an article on Psychology Today, it actually comes down to three simple attitude adjustments:

  1. Use it as a chance to learn and grow. Instead of letting the regret weigh you down, use those feelings to help you learn from your mistakes. You did something wrong, so what can you do to ensure you don’t take that same “wrong” action again in the future? Regret is the signal you’re paying attention—now it’s time to take steps to prevent it again instead of wallowing in the mire.
  2. Look at the “what ifs”. What if the small consequence or outcome was really a BIG one? What if more people got hurt? What if the action had led to irreparable damage? By thinking about the what ifs, you’ll realize that the action you regret really isn’t as big as it could have been. That doesn’t absolve you, but it does help you to be grateful that things weren’t as bad as they might have been.
  3. Be realistic about fault. How much of the situation was actually your fault? Sure, you may have taken the first step that led down a bad path, but many of the things that happened had to be out of your control. Understand your part in the regrettable situation, but learn to only accept as much guilt or blame as you are responsible for.

Regret can be a useful emotional catalyst to help you learn from your mistakes, but don’t let it weigh you down so much you are unable to move on!

 

 

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Book Review: Different, Not Damaged

As is my tradition for this Book Review Wednesday, I like to post reviews of MY books the week after they launch. Don’t worry, these aren’t reviews that I wrote—they’re all from people who actually read the book.

Different, Not Damaged

Strength from Weakness

Disability becomes Power

Six stories, one powerful message:
– A voiceless child painting visions of death.
– A killer with a deadly message plagued by a burden of guilt.
– A priestess divinely empowered to absorb others’ pain.
– A soldier fighting for courage in the face of fear.
– A broken warrior-priest on a mission of vengeance.
– A thief desperate to escape the burden of his memories.
Betrayed by mind or body, these people struggle to survive in a grim world that takes no pity on the weak. Yet they will discover that they are simply different, not damaged.

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Reviews:

This is one of those books that leaves you wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this unique book…You could feel the characters feelings, emotions, and most of all… their struggles. You could feel how courageous and brave they all were. After reading through the stories…I ended up focusing on the characters not the disability portrayed. – Stacy Stewart, 5 Stars

At first I found these stories painful to read; at least the first few were. But gradually as I let the stories flow over me, I realised that they were extremely well written; each bringing me, via fantasy, into another way of seeing reality. Each story opening up avenues into worlds I had little experience of. Each story testing me in a way. Testing my ability to accept what was different but not damaged. – R. Wheeler, 4 Stars

Set in his world of Voramis, the author has created an anthology which delves into the lives of people with a range of disabilities. Rather than take the easy route, they are portrayed as tragic heroes, who must deal with the cruel world (and Voramis is a cruel world) and well as the rough hand life has thrown them. There are no happy endings here (well, not in the traditional sense), so don’t read for a feelgood experience. However, if you like you fantasy pitch-dark, with no punches pulled, then check out “Different, Not Damaged.” – Al Burke, 5 Stars

 

Check it out on Amazon

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