Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Book Reviews (Page 1 of 17)

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Book Review: Emperor for an Eclipse by Eris Adderly

Today I’m bringing you something a tad different than my usual fare—a fantasy book that’s a bit saucier and dirtier than I’m used to reading. The author is a romance writer branching out into fantasy, and overall she NAILED it with this book.

Emperor for an Eclipse

He was expendable. He was a sacrifice. He was the emperor.

An_Emperor_for_the_Eclipse_Cover_614x960Raothan Ga’ardahn wants to take his own life. Twelve years in exile have a way of beating a man down, and the shameful secrets of his past, no matter how far buried, weigh enough to keep him that way. The last thing standing between him and oblivion is a sign from the gods. That, and a unit of Imperial Guard trooping onto his farm one late summer’s afternoon.

Across the continent, the Taunai heed the warnings of their dead: act to correct an unforeseen fracture in the Pattern of events, or face annihilation. Niquel, their bravest Questioner, accepts the challenge to descend into the dangerous lowlander capital for the good of her people. A journey alone away from her snowy mountain home awaits. Any worry about the strange man in her dreams will have to come later.

When the paths of the two outsiders cross on the steps of the imperial palace at Protreo, the fate of the empire shifts. One the Novamneans call ‘exile’, the other they call ‘witch’. Neither will ever be the same.

My Review: 5 Stars

I found this to be a HIGHLY engaging read, one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read this year.

Make no mistake: I’m not real big on sex/erotica in novels, and this had it in spades. Perhaps a tad too much  focus on the sex and all for my tastes, without as much focus on the story.

But the world is bright, colorful, engaging, and well-described, with vivid details that make it an absolutely enthralling read. The backstories are interesting, and I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to find out more about the antagonists and protagonists. Thankfully, there will be two more books for me to get more details on what’s going on.

If you like fantasy and erotica, this is a book you’ll definitely enjoy!

Here’s a Taste:

Raothan bent back to his task, using the repetitive motions to smother away nagging thoughts and urges. Before long, he was in that still place with only his breathing and the sensations of the moment: the sun on his back, rind and stalk moving under his hands, the scent of warm earth in his nostrils, hoofbeats …

Hoofbeats?

He cocked his head, focusing his attention on the muted thudding. His farm was, if not remote, at least a short ride form the main road. There would be no one with occasion to lead a horse out this way, and damn sure not more than one. Still, his ears didn’t lie. He stood and turned in the direction of the sound.

A sprig of something dark bounced over the rise, growing as it came. Raothan knew that silhouette. The years would not let him forget. A spear point, aimed at the sky from horseback. Another black point joined the first, and then another. A rider’s helm, the pointed ears of a mount. Two, three, ten …?

J’rt Thi’s fucking blood, what’s this now?

He tucked the harvest knife into his belt and dusted his palms together, knocking away the worst of the dirt. The approaching riders—some sort of guard unit, if his impressions served him—came on at a walk: casual, confident, not even bothering to press their mounts into a trot.

They were cutting a straight path in his direction, and his steps took him back to the near edge of the field where it abutted the yard surrounding his house. What was there to do but meet them and learn their business?

Probably some fool new decree being enacted. A tax levy, I’ll wager.

The riders jangled up, bits of tack glinting under the noon light, two columns of five splitting apart and fanning out into a semi-circle before him. An eleventh man, who’d ridden in at their head, stepped his horse forward. Raothan crossed his arms over his chest.

“Look at this one,” he heard one of the riders mutter to a neighbor, “head shaved like he thinks he’s some kind of warrior.”

“The general would shit a sword,” the other agreed on the low assessment of this foreigner standing before them.

The leader swept a hand to the side for silence.

“Are you Ga’ardahn?” he said.

Raothan suspected the man already knew the answer to his own question. How many other Elvigra kissmelon farmers could there be out here?

He laid a finger alongside his nose and then angled it at the man, acknowledging the accuracy of his guess. “It seems I am.”

His eyes skimmed the line of what he now was sure were Imperial Guard. The Emperor’s sigil—a pair of crossed swords beneath a crescent moon—fluttered on blue pennants strung around the shoulders of every horse. Raothan noted the bulk of muscle distributed among the riders, the sharp eyes and taut grips. There were seven men and three women. None of them looked as though they had seen lives of ease. They were not here for a tax levy.

The leader nodded once at Raothan’s confirmation and tugged a folded leaf of parchment from a saddle pocket. He opened it and began to read, his voice carrying and formal.

“Raothan Ga’ardahn, you are hereby summoned to the Imperial Palace at Protreo Novamne Solarius by the order of His Excellency, First Councilor Ptyverias Firsoni. You are to meet with the First Councilor to discuss your forthcoming duty to the Empire. Accommodations will be provided at the pleasure of His Excellency.”

The man looked up from the parchment at him. “Do you come to the palace of your own will, Ga’ardahn, or do we drag you behind one of our horses?”

Raothan stood there, assessing, holding the leader’s dark-eyed gaze. The fact that he felt the need to ask if Raothan would be willing did not bode well at all. He narrowed his eyes.

“Let me see the summons,” he said, taking a step forward and putting out his hand. The leader sneered.

“Can you even read, ‘vigra?”

He kept his hand out and moved to stand beside the horse. Something twinkled in the man’s eye, and he handed the parchment down, amused. The leader shrugged and quirked a smile at his unit, as if to say, “This ought to be entertaining.”

Raothan read the content of the summons with no trouble, backing away several steps as he did. It was all there, just as the man had read it. What it meant was anyone’s guess.

Being an exile wasn’t a crime in Novamne, nor was being an immigrant, rare though the Elvigra were on this side of the mountains. And his “forthcoming duty to the Empire”? He shook his head. Even if they knew what he was …

No. It doesn’t matter what they want, or what they know. No more cities. No more empires.

“And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing, Guardsman?” Raothan met the man with a smile now. He straightened in his saddle and looked down a blunt nose.

“I am Ogdavian, of his Imperial Majesty’s Palace Guard. You may refer to me as ‘Captain’ ”

Raothan’s grin widened.

“Well, Ogdy,” he drawled, lifting the parchment, “you can tell ‘His Excellency First Councilor Firsoni’ ”—here he spat noisily onto the summons—“that he is hereby summoned to bend his prick around backwards and go fuck himself.” At this, he crumpled the parchment into a wad and with a decisive popping gesture of his fingers sent it rolling onto the dirt.

There were noises from several of the guard: a few growls, a chuckle or two, and Ogdavian’s face had gone tight. Raothan gave him a mock salute, turned on his heel, and strolled away, moving back inside his house.

“Somehow I expected no less,” he heard the captain say to his back. Then, to his guard unit: “Take him.”

About the Author:

Eris writes subversive romance for people who hate romance novels. Her award winning stories are the stomping grounds for bada** heroines, untamable alphas, a spectrum of sexuality and a serious disregard for convention. Much like her namesake, Eris likes to make trouble. When she’s not staying up into wee hours writing, Eris also likes to read, baby-talk her cats, exasperate her husband, and obsess about writing some more. Somewhere in the middle, there will be pizza.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Emperor-Eclipse-After-Exile-English-ebook/dp/B06WRPXT3V 

Read Eris’ thoughts on her website: http://erisadderly.com

Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erisadderly

Tweet at her: https://twitter.com/erisadderly

 

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Interview with M.L. Spencer

I had a chance to sit down with the awesome M.L. Spencer and talk a bit about her past, her writing, and everything that makes her an absolutely unique (and quirky) author.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, my name is M.L. Spencer. I grew up in an orange grove in San Bernardino, CA. That orange grove was my first fantasy world. I mapped it, built cities, towns, rivers, waged wars, fortified castles, installed conflicting political systems and differing religious ideologies. It was my first foray into fantasy world building!

And then a bulldozer took it all away to build a freeway.

So I built another world, this time on paper. Decades later, I’m still building worlds; it’s what I do. The only difference is now, it’s usually me who destroys them.

What were you like at school?

I was that person who could speak Elvish, recite every line from Star Wars, and of course no one wanted to sit next to in class. You know the kid I’m talking about.

Were you good at English?

Yup. But I failed typing class because my teacher thought I’d plagiarized a novel blub we were supposed to write and then type. He didn’t believe I wrote it on my own!

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Which writers inspire you?

My favorite authors are Robert Jordan, Frank Herbert, and Stephen King.

So, what have you written?

Right now I’m writing a series called The Rhenwars Saga. The first two books are available on Amazon, Darkstorm and Darkmage. Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for fantasy.

Where can we buy or see them?

https://www.amazon.com/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01MT77SK9 https://www.amazon.com.au/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

What are you working on at the minute?

Right now I’m working on Book Four of The Rhenwars Saga

What genre are your books?

Dark Epic Fantasy

What draws you to this genre?

I like high stakes, turbulent plots, dark heroes, and complex villains.  I also like gritty realism as much as possible.

Why do you write?

I write to bring my characters to life. They exist as real people in my head. They must be freed!

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I had a great idea!  And a great idea is a terrible thing to waste!

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I work full time and write full time. It’s basically a second job. I think I may even spend more time at my “writing job”!

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

I am absolutely obsessive about writing. I’d write every second of every day if I could. As it is I have to come up for air and clean a dish or cook a meal occasionally. It’s hard, though!

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

When I am on a roll, my mantra is, “A chapter a day keeps writer’s block away!”  For me, that’s about 5,000 words a day.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I outline extensively before I ever set pen to paper. I will usually have one plot tangle or two that’s not worked out ahead of time, leaving it up to my muse to bridge those gaps as I go. Sometime this results in writer’s block, but that’s rare. Usually the solution to a problem will strike like lightning at the most unexpected moment—or in my sleep!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The last novel I finished, Book Three of The Rhenwars Saga, was the hardest. It was difficult because I was putting together a lot of characters who had never been together before in the same scenes. There was also a ton of character growth and changes in plot direction—all in a land with no sunlight, which I had to world-build from the ground up. That took every scrap of my biology knowledge! Nothing came easy with that book. Nothing!  It was a struggle every step of the way. But it was worth it —I’m very happy to say that I think it’s my best writing so far!

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Dialogue. I can write dialogue in my sleep. Except for Quin; his dialogue takes me forever to come up with. He’s usually very formal, sardonic, self-deprecating, and insightful—all at the same time!

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on how busy I am with life. Usually six months. Although the original 230K word-manuscript of Darkmage was written in a whirlwind 40 days!

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes. I can plot myself into a corner with the best of them!  Then I usually have to mope around banging my head on the wall until the lightning strike provides clarity.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Read other novels. Listen to music. Research. Seek inspiration in poetry and works of art.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

The Rhenwars Saga is a tale about the conflict between two opposing philosophies of magic and the moral imperatives that drive them. It’s basically about two conflicting moral ideologies.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I hate writing stand-alone novels; I get too attached to my characters and my ideas are usually ginormous. Short stories? Forget it! For me, it’s go big or go home!

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

A little of both. I have an excellent content editor who keeps me humble. I am usually my own copy editor, although I did employ one for Darkstorm.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I try to. I usually fail at this. I can’t stay away from a fresh manuscript!

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

My covers were done by Claudia McKinney and Teresa Yeh at phatpuppyart.com. My 16-year-old daughter and I selected the models for the covers from looking over pics at a modeling agency—what a great time that was! In all fairness, we picked both models because of the personalities they projected, which was far more important to us than their looks.

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How are you publishing this book and why?

Indie!
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

The main advantage to publishing Indie is that I retain my rights. I don’t have to worry about my publisher going out of business and having my rights tied up in litigation for years, a nightmare scenario I’ve heard too much about lately.

What is your favourite book and why?

Right now my favorite book is Patrick Rothfuss’s A Wise Man’s Fear. His lyrical prose his breathtaking.

What is your favourite quote?

Nietzsche: “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”

What is your favourite film and why?

Avatar. Because it’s so unbelievably cool!  An entire world that is its own goddess formed out of an interconnected network that functions like fungal mycelium!  Incredible! And I just love the whole “stranger in a strange land” motif.  It’s always been a favorite of mine.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t. Give. Up. Ever.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Usually poetry or literature. Darkmage is inspired by Nietzsche and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Darkstorm was inspired by the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play MMORPG games, teach biology and raise three children.

What does your family think of your writing?

They think it’s pretty cool unless I don’t come out of the room for five days straight. They usually start missing me when the dishes stack up.

 

Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?  Came really close. Almost got my boyfriend clobbered by a one-armed biker!

Do you drink? Smoke? Gave all that up. Now my main vice is coffe.

What is your biggest fear? That I will lose my memory when I age.

What do you want your tombstone to say? She wrote.

What secret talents do you have?

I am pretty good at music composition. One piece I had a big hand in creating had over 25 million likes on YouTube, last time I checked.

Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

When I was a kid, I used to have a recurring dream of a ghost train that whooshed out of my bedroom closet, chugged down the stairs, and then sped off into the night across the orange groves.  Too much Stephen King for me!

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Book Review: Within Stranger Aeons: Lovecraft’s Mythos in the 21st Century

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I have something a bit different: an anthology of tales of a very Lovecraftian nature. For those who enjoy proper horror, it’s a collection definitely worth reading!

Within Stranger Aeons

There are dimensions beyond that which is known to man. They are realms as vast as space and older than time itself. In these realms are beings beyond light and shadow, beyond good and evil, and there lie harbingers of the end of the human age.

The stars are right.

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This is the epoch of terror & devastation. It is an age which is…Within Stranger Aeons.

Featuring stories and poems by: Michael Fisher, H.P. Lovecraft, Andew Bell, Mord McGhee, Juan J. Gutierrez, Owen Barrass, Kevin Candela, William Henry Tucker, Roy C. Booth, Ashley Dioses, Andrew J. Lucas, Essel Pratt, G. Zimmerman, Brian Barr, Mark Woods, Justin Hunter, Amanda M. Lyons, Dona Fox, Charie D. La Marr

My Review: 4 Stars

More than just short stories–a glimpse into a world where the horrors you dare not think of could very well come true!

As with any collection of short stories, there are some that hit the mark and some that fall short. A few of these are merely interesting tales, while others will send a shiver to the very marrow of your bones.

The first offering, composed by H.P. Lovecraft himself, sets the tone for the book. The brooding Chthonic feel of these stories will have you quaking in your shoes and turning the lights up just a bit brighter. You will never look at rock concerts, empty bathtubs, icy ponds, or the Everglades the same way again. If the authors of these shorts have their way, you will never sleep again…

 

Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G0RD7A6/

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Duel to the Death: Sebastian

I, Andy Peloquin, challenge you, Jessica Wren-Wilson, to a duel to the death! But it is not we who will fight, but our characters…

In the black corner, weighing in at 180 pounds, standing a cool 6 feet tall, the Hunter of Voramis!

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Superhuman reflexes, strength, speed–think Captain America, but stronger
  • Thousands of years of weapons training
  • Body has accelerated healing factor–can survive a sword to the heart (can be killed by drowning, iron weapons, beheading, and suffocation)
  • Cannot be killed by anything but iron
  • Accursed dagger that heals him when he kills
  • No magical abilities whatsoever
  • No hesitation to kill if he perceives opponent as a threat/obstacle to his desires–classic anti-hero

In the blue corner, we have Sebastian, the carrier of Kenos.

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Normal mortal male, but exceptionally strong.
  • Inability to feel pain or fear.
  • Has used water as a means of mass killing before!
  • Not especially adept at weaponry, but can easily disarm any opponent unless he/she has a firearm.
  • Most importantly, he is a carrier of a Kenos (an anti-Essence that can drain any protective Essence). In other words, he may be able to slow down the Hunter’s ability to self-heal. Otherwise, he has no magical abilities.
  • Will kill just because he feels like it. Utter lack of empathy at all.

Two enter the ring, only one can leave alive!

How would Sebastian kill the Hunter? Sebastian will kill Hunter because if Hunter is up to the challenge, the fight will take place on a boat. Sebastian will handcuff a weight to Hunter and throw him overboard–unless Hunter kills him first!

To kill (your character): The Hunter would try to overwhelm him with his inhuman speed, strength, and skill. All he has to do is pierce his skin with Soulhunger, and the dagger will consume his soul. Not even someone with considerable magical abilities can survive Soulhunger’s bite–it was created to kill demons.

Who would win?

The Hunter’s soul-stealing dagger may find it less-than effective against Sebastian: years of being a Kenos carrier has left very little of his soul remaining. However, if he gets hit in a vital organ he will die like any other mortal. The Hunter’s speed and skill makes him a worthy foe.

However, the fact that the fight is taking place on open water (Sebastian’s element) could work against the Hunter. If Sebastian is fast enough to snap the handcuff in place on the Hunter’s wrist, he stands a chance of survival.

Probable Winner: The Hunter of Voramis. Sebastian has only one way to kill the Hunter, while the Hunter has many options (dagger, sword, snapped neck, strangling, etc.). His superior speed, reflexes, and training make him the victor–unless luck is on Sebastian’s side.

Want to find out more about this carrier of Enos who would dare challenge the legendary assassin of Voramis to the death? Click here to read about Sebastian in ICE

 

Who do YOU think would win? Did we get the match-up right? Leave a comment below and let me know…

 

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Book Review: Sun God’s Heir: Return

I know Book Review day is technically supposed to be Wednesday, but I’m the boss of this blog and NO ONE tells me what to do! Heh, actually, I’m participating in a Blog Tour, so I’m pretty much being told that I need to post this today.

For today’s Book Review, I’ve got a double treat: both a book review and a guest post. We’ll start off with the review:

The Sun God’s Heir: Return, Book 1

For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

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The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

My Review: 4 Stars

I’m not a huge historical fiction fan, but I’d have to say I enjoyed this book a lot. I almost felt like I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo, but with reincarnation and “soul mates” instead of vengeance.

First off, the characters are well-developed, with interesting personalities that are realistic and easy to identify with. They felt a bit too “optimistic” and “heroic” for the modern world we live in, but what’s life without escapism? The story held my interest all the way through to the end. The descriptions of everything—setting, background, clothing, sword fights, etc.—were excellent and drew me in. The character of the Maestro (protagonist’s teacher) was particularly interesting.

On the downside, the story is a bit slower than I expected. There are action scenes, but I never felt any heart-pounding terror or the overwhelming emotion at important deaths. The dialogue was a bit too formal, which slowed down the pace of the interactions. I felt the climax was a bit underwhelming considering all the build-up.

But, despite a couple of flaws, the book was overall EXCELLENT. If you like the classics (Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo, etc.), you’ll enjoy this one for sure!

The post below was written by the author (Elliot B. Baker), and I found it a fascinating read!

Invisible Friends

In Quantum Theory, when two electrons ‘know’ each other, they are forever linked. (Remember, I’m just a story teller, not a scientist or mathematician, so the theories I use here are only the vaguest echoes of fact. Of course, in a quantum world, fact is a moving target.)

Back to my electrons. Let’s name them Fred and Ethel. Fred and Ethel met before the big bang. The youth hostel they were staying in was crowded, to say the least. Fred and Ethel had a brief fling and then were flung to the ends of the universe. End of the relationship? Not according to quantum theory.

Love/communication is not determined or diminished by either time or space. (If time or space is real, but we’ll push that to another exploration.) An electron guided experimentally will cause another electron previously paired with it to move in exactly the same way at exactly the same time, distance notwithstanding. So if Fred turns into a diner on Earth, Ethel, who happens to be on Planet 123 in the Andromeda Galaxy, is aware of Fred’s turn and if she’s hungry, makes the exact same turn.

Note: The “hungry” part is my original idea. Any real scientists, if they’ve been able to read this far without popping an antacid, have consciously or subconsciously said, “What!” I’ll come back to this, but let’s move on to romance.

If quantum theory is correct, we ‘know’ each other.  Have known, and will know. I asked my wife Sally Ann to marry me two days after we met. (Sally reminds me that we’d only spent about six hours together.) She said yes, and we have been happily married almost forty years. What? How could you have done that? My standard answer is that I recognized her. What does that mean? As a young man, I wasn’t particularly looking to get married or settle down. I was doing ok. Had a good job, friends, etc. but in a moment, I looked at her and knew that we had been together before. More than one lifetime, and that she would help me and I her to accomplish whatever we were here to do or learn. I acted, and have ever thereafter been glad I did. Ok, enough Cinderella already.

As I related in another post, I don’t spend time worrying about whether reincarnation is true or not. Like any theory that cannot be experimentally proven, as long as the theory provides benefit, as long as it is useful, I employ it. At the beginning of my mental and emotional exploration of this lifetime, (I must have been around nine or ten) I saw an unacceptable inequality. Why could I run and play and another be imprisoned in a wheelchair? What must that individual have done to deserve that? The child was my age and even though I was a creative youngster (I could create trouble with the best of them, as my folks would have agreed), I couldn’t think of anything I could have done that was so heinous as to remove the use of my legs for life.

So I dusted off my “why” (a favorite word for a number of years), and accosted everyone I thought might shed some light. No light was forthcoming. “God’s will,” was the closest I came to anyone’s even being remotely confident of their answer.

I translated that into “you’re not old enough, smart enough, good enough, to know.” Nah, that never worked for me. I was ok with the concept that adults knew more than I, but I didn’t see the world as evil. Still don’t.  That just meant that the adults didn’t know either and that was scary, but still ok. Like most, I pushed the unsolvable problem into the back of my mind until I came into contact with the concept of reincarnation. I must have been about twelve or thirteen. My conceptualization of the physical representation of the questions and answers of the world was kind of like the mail slots behind the desk in an old hotel. Without reincarnation, I ran out of slots. With reincarnation, all of a sudden the mail slots stretched on to infinity.

If we had as many mulligans (do overs) as we wanted, then I could buy, not punishment, but creative teaching opportunities. Of course at twelve, I didn’t see it in that way, but at least the gig wasn’t arbitrary. That I could live with.

Let’s get back to energy. Patience, romance is not done yet. So the universe loves balance, and energy is neither created nor destroyed. It also doesn’t have a problem finding the address of energies both negative and positive to find that balance. Remember, we’re not worrying about time or space. Electrons like company, and they like to dance. As aggregates of electrons and other stuff, so do we. At least the company part. The dancing waits for weddings and the occasional concert. So it seems to me that we may have begun with a group of close friends. Electrons with some kind of glamour that attracted us more than others. Which is not to say that we’re not in contact with all of the others. It’s just that it’s more fun for the purposes of physicality and non-physicality to hang with a smaller group.

How about soul mates. Is there within that group one electron that is closer in its sensibilities to each than any other? I’m just speculating here, but since in this physical world there seems to be more or less two sexes, and given the balance I think the universe is always striving for, it makes sense to me that there is a perfect complement for each of us. Perfect, however, where life is concerned, does not mean final, finished, unchanging. Life is growth, change and I include rocks in my definition of life. Slow doesn’t mean stop.

So in the story I spin for myself, we’re part of a group of folks working, learning, evolving from lifetime to lifetime. Some from within incarnation, some from without, always linked. Even the bad guys in our story may be friends in another, only agreeing in this one to create opportunities for us to experience some particular pain and grow.  Matter is informed energy. That information doesn’t dissipate just because the vehicle gets old and is retired. Entertain the concept that coherent information doesn’t need form at all. Wow, invisible friends. How cool.

In The Sun God’s Heir: Return (Book One), René Gilbert falls in love with one woman only to find he has fallen in love with another. René is an honorable young 17th century Frenchman and will not betray his first love. He cannot understand how it’s possible to love two women with the same depth of feeling and although he refuses to act on his feelings, the conflict continues. Until it doesn’t. What, did you think I was going to tell you how it turns out. J Nah, you have to read it to find that out.

In The Sun God’s Heir: Return, René becomes aware that he has lived before. There are moments where he inhabits previous incarnations for a short space of time deepening his awareness. His greatest pain comes from his failure to protect those he loves. The Sun God’s Heir: Return is a swashbuckling adventure through a brutal period of time, but it is also a journey of awareness, and growth, powered by love,  always requires pain.

About the Author:

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Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida but has spent the last thirty-five years or so living in sunny New Hampshire. With four musicals and one play published and produced throughout the United States, in New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy. Among his many work experiences, Elliott was a practicing hypnotherapist for seven years. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.

Find his book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ivhu4z

Read his thoughts on his Website: http://elliottbaker.com

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

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/ElliottBaker?lang=en

 

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Duel to the Death: Ethan Jacobs

And we’re back with yet ANOTHER duel to the death! This time, it’s with my favorite author from Down Under…

I, Andy Peloquin, challenge you, Michelle Irwin, to a duel to the death! But it is not we who will fight, but our characters…

In the black corner, weighing in at 180 pounds, standing a cool 6 feet tall, the Hunter of Voramis!

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Superhuman reflexes, strength, speed–think Captain America, but stronger
  • Thousands of years of weapons training
  • Body has accelerated healing factor–can survive a sword to the heart (can be killed by drowning, iron weapons, beheading, and suffocation)
  • Cannot be killed by anything but iron
  • Accursed dagger that heals him when he kills
  • No magical abilities whatsoever
  • No hesitation to kill if he perceives opponent as a threat/obstacle to his desires–classic anti-hero

In the blue corner, standing a little over 6′, we have Ethan Jacobs, eldest brother of the Rain’s elite Jacobs clan.

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Tale of the Tape:

  • Serves the Rain, an organization with one primary objective: to rid the world of all non-humans
  • Human strength and speed
  • Has a preternatural ability for tracking
  • Can be ruthless where his family is threatened
  • Trained in defending himself and others against supernatural threats, using all manner of weaponry and whatever he has at hand.
  • His favorite weapon is his revolver; he regards only having his revolver as being “unarmed”, but is just as comfortable with any other weapon, including a katana, iron bar, sword, cross-bow, or flare gun.
  • He’s known for his quick thinking and ability to get the job done.
  • With the lore books and research provided by the backing of the Rain, Eth rarely goes into battle unprepared.

Two enter the ring, only one can leave alive!

How would Ethan kill the Hunter? If Eth was going into the fight knowing the situation, he would have the research behind him to know the weaknesses of the type of creature he was dealing with (and if the weapon was a well-known legend, he would have attempted to research into the weapon the creature carried). His usual cache includes cast iron bullets to dispose of fae, so his gun would be loaded with those. In addition, his bag includes a number of other guns, athames imbibed with magic and protections of various runes, flare guns, rope, cross-bow, and other daggers/swords.

To kill (your character): The Hunter would try to overwhelm him with his inhuman speed, strength, and skill. All he has to do is pierce Ethan’s skin with Soulhunger, and the dagger will consume him soul. Not even someone with considerable magical abilities can survive Soulhunger’s bite–it was created to kill demons.

Who would win?

Without his brother and sister to guard his back, Ethan would use his ranged weapons first (with usually lethal accuracy). He is well versed in taking on creatures with speed and strength well above his own (e.g. wendigos, werewolves, harpies etc).

Ethan would assess the layout of the land and either lay traps or “herd” his prey into the most ideal geographical situation he could and use the environment against his enemy (e.g. toward a lake in an attempt to drown the Hunter) or find a way to use the strengths of the enemy to their own detriment. His goal would be to neutralize any possible threats to a successful hunt as quickly as possible.

But the Hunter is no mere monster to be taken down by a well-placed trap or clever plan. He is a force of nature, wielding Soulhunger to deadly effect. He would use Ethan’s confidence in his ability to turn the trap on him, using his superior speed, agility, and strength to defeat the human.

If Ethan could bring his iron-loaded gun to bear on the Hunter before the Hunter closed the distance, the bullets would bring the Hunter down. But Soulhunger’s kiss would put an end to Ethan as surely as they defeat the demons of Einan.

Winner: It’s anyone’s guess. The Hunter may bring a knife to a gun fight, but he won’t be taken that easily.

Want to find out more about this hunter who would dare challenge the legendary assassin of Voramis to the death? Click here to read about Ethan Jacobs

 

Who do YOU think would win? Did we get the match-up right? Leave a comment below and let me know…

Want to match your character against the Hunter? Click here to enter your protagonist/antagonist in a duel to the death!

 

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The Mutineers by Eryn Mills

For Book Review Wednesday, I have a LOOOOOONG book for you to read. If you’re a fan of more intelligent sci-fi, this is a book you will certainly enjoy…

The Mutineers

Two hundred years in the future, our first major human colony on Mars, the Zephyria Planum Research Station, is suffering. The inhabitants have rapidly dwindling rations and medical supplies, and are prohibited from returning to Earth. A handful of officers can only think of one final, last-ditch effort to get what they need simply to survive, but it requires them to break every sacred oath they ever took.

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Sakharov Station, in orbit between Earth and Mars, find themselves between a rock and a hard place when the World Government collapses, and the more powerful space-faring nations of Earth start grappling for possession of Sakharov Station’s deadly contents the personnel were sent to dispose of.

Can the two outlying bastions of humanity join forces and survive, or will each step bring them closer to their own doom?

My Review: 4 Stars

I have to say that this was a very well-written book. The concept was highly original, the story interesting, and the topic one I enjoyed. However, I had a hard time reading it because it was VERY slow.

The story moved along at a steady pace, but there were no real highs and lows for me to sink my teeth into. It’s the kind of book for a reader who enjoys digging into a book and doesn’t care about fast-paced stories. There is decent tension and action, but it took so long to reach those parts. For the most part, it was a fascinating look at what life would be like on a Mars colony, as well as the politics on Earth that would affect them.

It is definitely a book worth the read, but I’m giving it a 4-star rating because it took me so much effort to get through it.

Here’s a Taste:

The fleshy wall of rushing sand and air poured closer to them. It consumed the northern horizon wildly. In a few minutes it would block their view of the sun and they would be done for. To be caught in a Martian sandstorm even a hundred meters from the habitat could mean their deaths. Mars in a matter of moments could move tons of fine, penetrating dust and gravel from one corner of Zephyria to the other, create new landscapes in passionate, undeclared fury and smother placidly rolling knolls with poetic ease. It frightened Werner that he could hear the beast, and feel it in the gentle rocking of the rover. Enough unfortunates’ lonely bodies were scattered over the planet.

“The computer’s up,” Brijesh declared calmly. “It’s real!” he exclaimed. “A heavy gale and headed for us. Course heading east southeast, about a hundred and fifty kilometers wide!”

“Base is not responding, get in!” Werner dragged the Indian by the sleeve into the back seat of the rover. Werner fought his suit like a decrepit second skin, wrapped shaking knuckles around the rover’s steering wheel and slammed his foot on the accelerator. Five of the wheels spun vainly in the sand, one wheel fortunately found solid rock. The tire caught, they lurched forward so violently Sujay nearly launched from his seat before he grabbed the side of the rover. He struggled with the seat belt and wished they had been given a hopper. The rover could do seventy kilometers an hour on pavement. Only gravel and sand and boulders existed for the overworked machine here.

The vehicle skidded around a rubble mound, spitting up little stones against their faceplates as each wheel scraped for traction. A black spot jutting high on the northern horizon marked the four kilometer long habitat and their salvation. Werner checked the rover’s sensor display. If the black spot was a mirage, it fooled the equipment as well. It wouldn’t be the first time Werner had gotten lost.  Brijesh glanced at Werner. “Are we going the right way?”

“I don’t know!” Werner spat.

“Go faster!” Brijesh insisted.

“I can’t,” Werner groaned as he struggled with the steering wheel. Every time they bounced against a large bump the rover felt as though it would tip over.

The storm drew nearer. In generous, pulsing gulps, the furious sands began to swallow the habitat and its companion mirage.

Werner ripped the wheel to the right, the sand blasted them from the left. He felt the vehicle tip, somehow with a solid crank he managed to return the frantic wheels to the sand. He could no longer see the path to the habitat, but he knew he was close. If he could get to it they could feel their way for some shelter on the leeward side of a buttress, and he knew that was a foolish hope. Brijesh slapped his shoulder and pointed to a bright light piercing the brown air.

“The depot!” Brijesh shouted. Werner concentrated on that single illumination, still half a kilometer away from their deliverance from the surging beast that clawed at their face plates and oxygen packs. He slowed the vehicle down as he knew the terrain grew rockier from blast debris left behind from constructing the base. A knifelike boulder appeared out of the cloud directly in front of them. Werner swerved the rover to the right and found another boulder too near to avoid. The vehicle floundered and toppled onto its left side. Werner felt Brijesh tumble onto him, tearing him from the wheel. He slammed him against the ground. His breath caught for a moment—did his suit rip? Oh God—no, no, he was all right. Brijesh scrambled to his feet and grabbed Werner. “You okay?” he screamed.

“Ja, go! Run!”

Abandoning the rover, Werner followed nimble Brijesh over the rocks and swelling drifts. If they remained still the sand would engulf them in a matter of seconds. They had a better chance on foot now that they could see the habitat’s signal lights. They continued steadily. Werner yelped as the tiny indicator lights on the inside of his helmet flickered. The static electricity caused by the storm began to short out his suit’s electronics. He slammed a hand on his left elbow, hitting the degaussing button. The indicator lights stayed on for a moment, then every electronic device on his suit went dead. The small headlamps on either side of his helmet fell dark. He tried not to breathe so hard, as he had little air left, and he tried to keep Brijesh before him. Werner knew it would be a matter of moments before his air supply ran out. He could not use his headset, for it too had perished with the rest of the electronics.

The rover depot doors were shut. Were they sealed? Brijesh made it to the hatch and pounded a rock against the sturdy metal three times. Something black and flat the size of a dining table flipped away overhead. The habitat’s aging exterior shielding flaked and tore in such winds. They had lost another piece of buffer plating. He scanned the storm for Werner and screamed his name. Werner emerged from the whirling cloud, stumbling and confused. “You’re close, come on!” Brijesh fumbled with the rock to pound on the hatch again, suddenly it parted for him. He jumped after the fumbling Werner, grabbed him by the arm. He dragged Werner inside the door and slapped his hand on the hatch controls. Werner collapsed onto the floor, his eyes wide, his mouth gaping as he suffocated. The hatch screeched closed and the small rover bay gradually pressurized. A steady yellow light rotated overhead until a green one lit. Werner peeled up his helmet’s faceplate and sucked in lungfuls of air. They were alive. They were saved.

About the Author:

Eryn Vyctorya Mills was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Estes Park. A life-long lover of science fiction, she started writing stories as a child and never found a reason to stop. She and her mother own and operate the Enos Mills Cabin Museum, the original homestead cabin of Enos A. Mills, who is widely regarded as “The Father of Rocky Mountain National Park.” She lives in the mountains near Rocky Mountain National Park with her dog.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CQ07E8M
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29473343-the-mutineers
Read Eryn’s thoughts on her website: http://tahosa.wixsite.com/erynvmills

Tweet at her: @erynvmills
Connect on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ErynVyctoryaMills/

 

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Book Review: Peccadillo by Martyn Halm

It’s Book Review Wednesday (my favorite day of the week), and I’m bringing you a book I read MONTHS ago but have only just now gotten around to reviewing. Trust me, it was well worth the wait!

Note: This is Book 2 in the Katla Sieltjes series by Martyn Halm

Peccadillo

Still recuperating from injuries sustained in Reprobate, freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, finds herself at war with the Kau Hong, a gang of ruthless criminals who will stop at nothing to get their hands on Sphinx Shipping.

The potentially lethal situation quickly becomes untenable, when victims fall on both sides, and a Hong Kong sniper arrives to team up with a mute enforcer from the competitive 14K Triad.

Amsterdam might prove too small for Katla to play hide and seek, when her enemies match her skills in search and destroy…

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Peccadillo is the second novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. 

With authentic details and brisk action against the backdrop of the notorious Dutch capital, featuring a devious heroine and a supporting cast of singular characters, Peccadillo gives a rare glimpse into local Dutch culture, Chinese Triads, computer hacking, sniping, clairvoyance, circumventing car alarms, martial arts, the psychology of social engineering, and the brutal efficacy of disciplined violence.

My Review: 5 Stars

When I cracked open the first book, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. I was wrong. Obviously I had to pick up Book 2 to continue the story, and I’m very glad I did.

I’d compare Peccadillo to some of the better Tom Clancy novels I’ve read. It’s a fast-paced, intriguing, and well-crafted story, with all the rich details that make the world come alive. The information presented in the book is clearly heavily researched. The author has taken the time to understand their character’s world (assassin for hire) with all the tricks and gadgets of a modern world.

I wasn’t a fan of the romance angle in Book 1, but it’s grown on me in this book. I actually enjoyed the interactions between Katla and Bram. It deepens the book and makes it more personal.

One of the best books I read in 2016, and I can’t wait to dig into the third book in the series!

Here’s a Taste:

A twinge in his kidneys announced the onset of cold turkey. Chang put down his paperback novel, ordered a bottle of mineral water from the friendly blonde stewardess, and dug the arthritis pills from his carry-on bag. According to the pharmacy label, the pills contained three percent morphine and twenty percent codeine, while the actual amount of morphine was closer to sixty-five percent and the codeine content virtually non-existent. Two would sustain him until he arrived in Amsterdam and put his hands on some high-grade heroin.

The stewardess returned with a bottle of Sourcy and a plastic cup.

Chang swallowed the pills and picked up his novel again, searching the page for the last paragraph he’d read. Bought in a bookshop at Hong Kong Airport, the ‘critically acclaimed blockbuster’ was not half as interesting as the drawing on the cover. After struggling through four more excruciatingly dull and unimaginative pages, he gave up and stuffed the novel in the pouch with the security pamphlet and airsick bag.

Waiting for the morphine pills to do their work, Chang cranked back his seat, his gaze taking in the inflight movie. He didn’t bother donning the headphones. Through half-closed eyes, he watched a silent argument unfold between the main character and the female lead, and wondered if the actors themselves considered their expressions natural and realistic. To Chang the whole frantic cast appeared in dire need of sedatives. The dialogue would most likely be stuffed with snappy one-liners, rapid fire ripostes more irritating than funny.

Despite the ventilation, the cabin air had a stilted quality composed of sour breath, body odour, sweat and that faint fragrance Chang always associated with the low-level panic that imbued cramped spaces filled with too many people. He closed his eyes, ignoring the slumbering ache spreading through his abdomen, and sifted through his memories for pleasant recollections.

A child started bawling behind the tourist class curtain and his mind sent him the soldier, splashing awkwardly through a Cambodian rice paddy towards the safety of the lush forest, holding a bawling infant over his head as a shield against sniper fire. Chang sat in a tree, tracking the soldier in the crosshairs. Near the edge of the paddy, in the shade of the trees, the soldier lowered the child against his chest, exposing his head. The crack of the rifle followed a second after the 7.62mm bullet tore into the soldier’s brow and the back of his head exploded in a cloud of torn brain tissue and skull fragments. Not much blood, like with a neck shot, but a spasmodic twisting of limbs as the soldier fell headlong into the swampy waters, crushing the infant under him. The shot echoed against the green hills while the child drowned under the weight of the dead soldier.

Chang opened his eyes. That one had been counted as one confirmed kill.

About the Author:

Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam with his 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/Peccadillo-Katla-Novel-Amsterdam-Assassin-ebook/dp/B00AOR07BG/

Connect with Martyn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MartynVHalm/

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

Check out his Quora: https://www.quora.com/profile/Martyn-V-Halm

 

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Book Review: The Fell by Lyndsey Harper

Today on Book Review Wednesday, I’m bringing you a book from my own personal favorite genre: dark fantasy. It’s a new release (launched Jan 18th, the day after Child of the Night Guild), and one I’d recommend!

The Fell

After the brutal death of his mentor, Leer Boxwell’s only desire is vengeance. However, his belief that the murderer is the mythical Grimbarror has made him the laughing stock of the Vale. When Leer witnesses the beast steal away the princess in an unexpected attack on the royal city, he volunteers to hunt the creature. Battling self-doubt and ridicule, while struggling to control a mysterious power within that he does not fully understand, Leer must decide whether his convictions are worth the sacrifice the Fell demands.

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My Review: 4 Stars

I found this book a very solid, intriguing piece of art. The story was well-crafted, with a steady pace that kept me reading until the end. It was sufficiently grim and dark for my tastes.

I especially loved the world the author created. The descriptions were vivid and painted a very clear picture in my head—a very important factor in my enjoyment. I experienced the emotions, feelings, thoughts, and sensations of the characters, and the book kept me interested until the end.

It wasn’t perfect though. The dialogue felt stiff, stilted, and unnatural, without a flow. The characters were always hostile and angry, and there were a few important elements left unclear or vague, at least to me.

Also the writer introduced a lot of animal names but gave no descriptions for them. It irked me every time I read one of those names, as I had no idea what she was referring to when she said “Nothin’ but a drink bloated habbersnitch.” Detracted from my enjoyment.

All in all, though, a solid book, one well worth the reading!

Here’s a Taste:

A hush fell over the inn; the fiddle music screeched to an abrupt halt.

Bilby’s eyes narrowed. “What did you say?” he asked.

“I said,” Leer repeated, “I wish to know everything you know about the Grimbarror.”

Callous laughter exploded through the men and few barmaids present, ripples of mockery piercing Leer’s ears.

“You well-washed loon,” Bilby cackled, slapping his knee through his amusement. “You wish to hear fairy tales, is that it?”

Leer’s jaw flexed as he clamped his molars together. “I seek the truth.”

“Hah!” Bilby screeched. “Would you like a cup of warm milk to go with your bedtime story, Boy?”

Leer squeezed his eyes shut briefly, trying to push away the reverberating voices around him. “Are you, or are you not, the Marcus Bilby that Finnigan Lance spoke of?” he demanded. “The one whose life he saved?”

Another wave of eerie silence fell over the inn. Bilby leaned in, gripping the table with white knuckles. “What name did you say?” he asked.

“Finnigan Lance,” Leer enunciated.

“Curse you for speaking that name,” Bilby snarled, spitting on the ground.

“Cheating scoundrel, he was,” a man bellowed from the rear of the crowd.

“Nothin’ but a drink bloated habbersnitch.” another agreed.

“You’d better have good reason for speaking that name in this place, Boy,” Bilby warned, leaning forward.

“He wasn’t a cheat,” Leer snapped. “You peddled furs with him. You worked with him, and he saved your life from insurgents. And I do believe you owe him a favor.”

A murmur trickled through the crowd, sending Bilby into visible panic as his peers reacted to the revelation.

“And what?” Bilby retorted with a scoff. “Lance has come back from the dead to claim it?”

Leer’s jaw flexed. Finnigan’s death was still fresh in his mind; it had not been long since he found his bloodied, mauled corpse. “Nay. You’ll pay your debt to him through answering my questions.”

Bilby’s eyes narrowed. “And just who are you to lay claim to any favors?”

Leer held his gaze. “His son.”

About the Author:

Lyndsey is a brilliant author you’ve likely never heard of, Superwife, and award-winning mother living life in leggings in the expensive and overcrowded state of New Jersey. She is fluent in Spanglish and Sarcasm and enjoys watching Arrow, Supernatural, Psych, and The X-Files repeatedly. You can find her either in the grocery store buying laundry detergent, Tylenol, and cat litter, hovering near her Keurig coffee brewer, or shaking her fist at the heavens in front of her computer. Occasionally, you may spot her on the beach or out shopping (when she actually has money to spare). However, you should avoid approaching her at such times as she is likely enjoying a rare moment of relaxation and can become moody if interrupted. If you decide to engage her during any one of these activities, approach with caution and a sizable cup of Starbucks in hand to avoid any ill effects.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fell-Naetan-Lance-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B01NCHQ1DR/

Connect with her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorlyndseyharper
Tweet at her: @lyndseyiswrite

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5 Questions with Lyndsey Harper

  1. Please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself: Hi! My name is Lyndsey Harper, and I write dark fantasy. I love stories with magic and grit. I’m a wife, a mom, and I work in a theatre when I’m not writing.
  2. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author? I have been writing ever since I can remember. It started with a newsletter I wrote each month for my next-door neighbor about my pet rabbit, and then turned into poetry, fan fiction, songs, and eventually original work. I didn’t always want to write, though, despite my natural inclination toward it. My mother saw my future in writing well before I did. When I was younger, writing wasn’t glamorous enough for me. I thought it would be a boring career choice. Can you imagine, writing as a boring occupation? (LOL) It wasn’t really until high school that I embraced writing fully.
  3. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?S. Lewis is a long-time favorite. I adore his work. I love Dan Brown’s writing style and his pacing. Right now, I’ve got quite a few books started. “Unclaimed” by Laurie Wetzel, “Crimson Bayou” by Alizabeth Lynn, and “The Shadow Revolution” by Clay and Susan Griffith.
  4. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes?  Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters?  Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?) I write the story in order. I can’t skip around and write scenes, then fit them together. My style is very linear in that sense. I’ll re-read what I write and tweak small things, but mainly it’s my habit to write the story in its entirety, then go back and fix it. I treat chapter breaks as different scene breaks in a movie. Sometimes things move around as necessary after the fact, but for the most part, the chapters happen naturally as I’m writing.
  5. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing? I like to draft an outline, or have a bulleted list of important events or concepts I’m trying to get across in the story. They usually fall somewhere between hardly detailed, and fairly detailed, and they almost always change as I write.
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Book Review: The Hunters by Heidi Angell

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday, and today I’m going WAY out of my comfort zone to bring you a story of a sort I NEVER read: vampires. Thankfully, Heidi Angell does a great job of making me actually want to read the story…

The Hunters

What would you do if you found your town had been infested with vampires? For Chris and his brother Lucas, the answer was simple enough: you fight back. Gathering a small band of other people in their town who have been affected by the vampires, they begin a resistance. But after a year of fighting, they have only managed to kill a handful, while the vampire leader has turned five times that many.

Then two enigmatic strangers appear, changing the groups lives even further.

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Fury and Havoc. They call themselves hunters, and want no part in this little band of heroes. Ordering them to lay low, the duo vow to rid their town of vampires. When Fury is injured, Chris aides these strangers, entwining his future with theirs.

Now that the vampires know the hunters are here, and that Chris and his friends have helped them, the group is in more danger than ever before. Lucas is torn between protecting his new family from the vampires, and protecting them from these seemingly inhuman beings who say they are there to help.

After all, what beings could be so powerful as to scare a vampire?

My Review: 4 Stars

Overall, I found this story enjoyable. The characters were good, the conflict gripping enough to keep me turning the pages, and the various plot elements drew me in.

I liked how the vampires were the enemy sort of like how the zombies are the enemy in the Walking Dead. There’s no humanizing of the vampires or changing what they are—they’re simply bloodthirsty monsters trying to kill.

I gave it a four-star rating because I had a hard time reading it. I can’t say I found the story flawed, but I wasn’t compelled to keep turning the pages. A solid book, well worth the read!

Here’s a Taste:

As the door opened a shadow crossed the lamplight. Chris heard the woman gasp. As she slumped forward, Chris got a glimpse of blood-shot eyes and a pale face. Fury’s arm came up in an arc, a blade glinting in her hand. The head of the ambusher rolled over her shoulder, landing right between Chris’s feet. He recoiled in horror, recognizing the face of his newspaper carrier. Fuck, he’d never have thought of him!

He stared numbly and was unable to react as Havoc shoved him aside to grab the woman before she fell. “Move,” Havoc growled. “Move, get back in the car!” He shoved Chris toward the car where Ricky and Bianca were sitting, oblivious to the violence that had just occurred as swiftly and silently as the wind.

Even though he was carrying the woman, Havoc moved fast. Chris heard the sizzle and pop as the vampire’s body began to burn. Only then was it becoming clear to him what had just happened. He jumped in the front seat and could only shake his head to Bianca’s unspoken question. Havoc was already setting the woman down in the back seat.

“Fury? Fury!” Havoc whispered hoarsely. There was no response.

“Is she dead?” Chris asked, turning in the seat. She hadn’t even made a sound. Unbelievable!

“What the hell is going on?” Ricky snapped in confusion.

“Watch out the windows. They may attack again at any moment,” Havoc ordered. Chris was already on it. Every shadow seemed alive, yet when he looked closely it was only his imagination.

“Can’t you heal her like you healed me?” Chris spared a quick glance and realized Havoc was already trying. Two crystals were reflecting an ethereal blue light off the woman’s dark shirt. Chris only spared a glance before he was scanning the parking lot again, but in that glance he had been able to tell that she was badly hurt. There was a gaping hole in her stomach and blood was pouring from it. His preservation instinct kicked into overdrive.

“Havoc, we have got to get outta here. We’re sitting ducks.” Chris started the engine.

Havoc seemed to hesitate, uncertain what to do. “I need to get something.” In that instant, he leaped out of the car and headed back toward the hotel room. Chris watched him in absolute fascination as he seemed to merge with the shadows, slipping in and out of them to get back to the room. Bianca pointed to the room.

“It’s burning,” she whispered. “What happened?”

“Watch the window!” Chris snapped. “She was attacked.”

“Dude, this is seriously stupid!” Ricky mumbled. “What a stupid fucking move. What’s so important that he’s gotta go back in there?” Ricky pointed towards Havoc as he flitted through the burning doorway. Suddenly Ricky whipped around and stared out the window. “Cops’ll be here soon. We gotta move.”

“I don’t give a fuck about the cops. Where are the other vampires?”  Bianca hissed, searching out the window. “God, I wish he’d hurry up.”

Chris opted not to point out that it had only been a matter of minutes since he and the woman… Fury… Havoc had called her Fury… had gotten out of the car in the first place. He couldn’t believe it himself.

“What the fuck happened!” Ricky yelled, pointing at Fury, seeming to have only just now realized that she was badly injured.

“A vamp attacked just as she opened the door. It… it must have stabbed her and then she lopped its head off… Is she alive?”

“Fuck if I can tell,” Ricky murmured. After a beat, he added, “She looks dead to me.”

“We gotta get out of here!” Bianca whispered. She was trembling from head to toe. At that moment Havoc backed out of the door and sprinted back to the car, throwing himself in the back.

“Go!”

“Where?” Chris asked hesitantly.

Havoc looked up. He was clearly lost without the woman’s guidance.

“We’ll go back to our place,” Chris stated.

“Is it safe?” Havoc asked uncertainly.

“Helluva lot safer than sittin’ out here,” Ricky muttered as he cocked his gun.

Chris peeled out of the parking lot and spun gravel as he pulled back onto the highway. Although he considered himself a pretty good wheelman, it took all his focus to maneuver the car at the accelerated speed he was attempting. He jerked a hard left, sending everyone sliding into one another, and was now on dark winding back roads. All his concentration was on the driving, but he tried to catch as much of the conversation around him as he could.

As Chris took a particularly sharp turn, Bianca turned in her seat. Holding onto the headrest of the seat, planting a hand on the dashboard, and bracing her back against the door, she managed to keep from being flung about the car. Looking at the woman in the back seat, her face paled. Chris wondered how bad it was. Unfortunately, he had no time to look.

“Is she gonna be alright?” Bianca asked nervously.

“For now,” Havoc responded tensely.

“Why isn’t she better like Chris got better?” Bianca asked, after quickly repositioning herself from another sharp turn.

Havoc looked at them carefully, a guarded look in his eyes as he seemed to debate his response. He finally shrugged. “The crystals are drained. I cannot heal her any more until I cleanse and recharge them. Her wounds are… more severe than Chris’s wounds were. He was mostly in danger of the virus, but her wounds are mortal.”

“So, she might still die?” Chris managed to ask as he pulled out on a short stretch of straight road.

Havoc nodded solemnly.

“Bianca, call Lucas, fill him in, and tell him to get Doc there,” Chris ordered. He looked back again and saw Havoc leaning over the woman… Fury…. His eyes were closed as he leaned over her and his lips moved silently, fervently. Was he praying? Casting a spell? God only knew. Chris groaned and debated praying, himself. It would be the first time in years… but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead, he fervently whispered “Please don’t let her die,” and hoped that someone answered, even if it wasn’t God. He couldn’t lose two people in one night. Lucas was going to kill him!

About the Author:

Heidi Angell is a bibliophile, lexicomaniac and wordsmith. She is the author of The Hunters Series, The Clear Angel Chronicles, and The Hell School Series. She also created Royal Prince Vince, and Creative Exercises to Inspire.
When she is not reading and writing, she can be found spending quality time with her lovely family camping, hiking, swimming, or watching movies.

 

Find the book on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/270492

 

Read Heidi’s thoughts on her website: www.heidiangell.com

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