Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Book Reviews (Page 1 of 16)

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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

Connect with her on Facebook 

And Twitter

See her photos on Instagram

Goodreads

 

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Book Review: Child of the Night Guild

For Book Review Wednesday, I’m going to do something different: I’m going to share reviews of the book I just launched yesterday (Jan 17th). I’ve gathered the reviews from various people, and they are as honest as I could ask for.

Child of the Night Guild

“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.

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The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.

What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?

Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Scott Lynch, and Brent Weeks will love Queen of Thieves…

The Reviews:

It’s not for me to give out any spoilers to lessen the impact for other lucky readers, who will encounter it for the first time, but suffice it to say that it is packed with gritty, fast-moving action and you will be on the edge of your seat. Peloquin particularly excels at action sequences, and treads the fine line between tame and too graphic with as sure a foot as Ilanna on the high beam. Scenes of brutal violence get the point across without disgusting the reader, and I don’t know when I have seen this kind of thing better handled. The characters are believable and engaging, and the plot well constructed. A well-deserved five stars for an author who has given us his best work to date. — T. Ormiston-smith

This is a raw and brutal story but I loved it each step of the way. There is so much detail that goes into this world. I loved all aspects of the Guild and the different jobs they learn. It’s so easy to get drawn into the story that I had a hard time putting the book down. I just had the see what happened to Ilanna next. And the ending, not what I expected but left me eagerly waiting for book two. — JBronder Book Reviews

This read is not for the weak of heart.  I’ve got to tell you, it was time I retired for the evening and the last hour of the read is upon me. I lay in bed for one hour, trying to figure out how this story would end.  I really tried to sleep, but crawled out of bed at 12:45 a.m., wrapped myself in a blanket and finished the book!  I just had to do it.  I couldn’t sleep otherwise, and then I still had a time of it, since this book does not have a happy ever after ending—propelling me to the sequel. You are forewarned.  If you like this kind of read, then it is right up your alley. Scared shitless, I was.  The whole setting is so fantastic, the characters so mesmerizing, that is, those left living, I cannot walk away. – Eileen Dandashi

Andy Peloquin has taken fantasy to a new level. You hear the words, magnetic, non-stop and gut-clenching often, but every one of these words applies in full force to this unforgettable tale of one small girl who beat the odds, and never let anyone break her soul. CHILD OF THE NIGHT GUILD maybe Andy Peloquin’s finest work yet! It takes bold writing to bring life to a bold story of survival and this author has succeeded and then some! No matter what genre you read, this one should be on your MUST READ lists! – Tome Tender

Here’s a Taste:

We’ve been at this for hours! When will he let us rest? Mind numb from hunger and fatigue, Viola placed one weary foot in front of the other. Blood dripped from cuts in her hands, arms, and forehead.

Master Velvet refused to let up. “Your past is gone, your families forgotten. You have no names, no identities. You are nothing more than a number until it is deemed fit to give you a name.”

The children called out as one, “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Everything you are, everything you will be, you owe to the Night Guild. We are your masters, your creators, your gods.” The tirade had repeated for endless hours, but Master Velvet never seemed to have enough.

“Yes, Master Velvet!”

Master Velvet’s voice cracked like a carter’s whip. “Disobedience will be punished harshly. Obedience will be rewarded well. Learn this and you will flourish in the Night Guild.”

Viola’s legs wobbled, her shoulders ached, and her arms shook from exertion. “Yes, Master Velvet!”

“Forget everything you know. Forget life outside this room. You eat, sleep, and shit at my command.”

“Yes, Master Velvet!” Viola’s voice cracked from thirst and fatigue. She wanted to lie down, to close her eyes, to sleep.

Master Velvet snarled in her ear. “You live and die at the pleasure of the Night Guild. You belong to the Guild mind, body, and soul. What are you?”

“We are tyros, Master Velvet.”

He crouched beside her. “And what are tyros?”

“Lower than dirt, Master Velvet!”

A satisfied smile spread across his face. “Empty your buckets and set them on the floor beside the barrels. Double speed, my drudges.”

Viola tried to move faster, but her feet refused. By the time she reached the barrel at the far end of the room, only one other child remained. The boy, barely taller than her, had yet to empty his bucket. He strained to lift his heavy load. His hands trembled uncontrollably—a permanent condition that made even eating and drinking difficult. Water splashed down his tunic, turning the dirt to mud.

Emptying her pail, Viola dropped to the sodden ground with a half-sob, half-groan of relief.

“Get up, tyros!” Master Velvet would not let them rest.

Tears of exhaustion and frustration streaming, she climbed to her feet. Though her back protested, she forced herself straight when Master Velvet approached.

Stand tall, no matter what. Mama’s words echoed in her thoughts. I’m trying, Mama, but I’m so tired!

“Chow time, my drudges. You’ll find that table over there loaded with delights to fill your little bellies. Eat. You have done well.”

Someone had piled the table high with fruits, sweetmeats, and treats. She’d been too exhausted to notice. The scent of fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, and pastries wafted toward her. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation.

Master Velvet placed a hand on her shoulder. “Not you, Seven. You were the first to fail, so an example must be made.”

“B-But…” Viola couldn’t put up more than a weak protest.

“Off with you, Seven. To your bunk and reflect on your weakness.” His dark eyes held no kindness. “Pray to the Watcher for strength to survive.”

“Y-Yes, Master Velvet.” She turned away to hide her tears.

“Perhaps you’ll try harder tomorrow, Seven.” He spoke without a trace of compassion or pity in his voice. “If you want to have any hope of survival here in the Night Guild, this will be the last time you fail.”

Hunger gnawed at Viola’s belly, but it could not outweigh the bone-deep weariness. She forced herself not to look at the other children, to block out the sounds of their eating. Feet leaden, she turned to the tunnel that led to their sleeping quarters.

Tears flowed in earnest once she reached the darkness of the passage. Sobs of anger, desperation, and frustration washed over her, shaking her body like a leaf in a whirlwind.

Slamming the door shut behind her, she threw herself onto her bunk and buried her head in the thin pillow. She didn’t care that her clothes were soaking wet or that she hadn’t had any water to drink for hours. She wouldn’t allow any of the others to see her cry.

Bright Lady, hear me and protect me in my hour of need. Her parched throat refused to form the words.

The prayer had comforted her in the past, but now it felt empty. The hunger, exhaustion, and thirst remained. Minutes ticked by in silence. Nothing happened.

She balled her fists and swallowed the ache in her belly. Down here, she was all alone. The Bright Lady can’t hear me.

Why would she? The goddess of healing hadn’t heard when she’d prayed for Mama and baby Rose. The gods were far away, if they cared at all. Mama was gone and Papa had left her here. In this place, she was the only one she could count on. She had to be strong, just as she had been after Mama died.

I will get through another day. Just one more.

Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Night-Guild-Queen-Thieves-ebook/dp/B01N1TC3VW/

 

 

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Book Review: Highlords of Phaer by Brock Deskins

It’s Book Review Wednesday, the day I get to talk about the latest book I’ve read and enjoyed. I think you’ll love the new one: a fantasy novel with just a hint of steampunk thrown in for good measure.

Highlords of Phaer

Born a slave, descended of kings, Jareen Velarius just wants to provide the best life he can for his family, but Eidolan is a realm that challenges even the most stalwart of souls.  Caught between his masters (the highborn and sorcerer Highlords) and those brave or foolish enough to strike against them, Jareen struggles to reconcile his role as a dutiful slave and a man who desires to be free, to return his people to a life lost more than a millennia ago.

Auberon Victore, sorcerer, alchemist, son of Overlord Alexis Victore, and Jareen’s master, creates an alchemic compound he is certain will change the world, he just does not know how. Only Jareen sees it for the weapon that could break the sorcerers’ iron grasp. It will change the world, but not in the way his master desires.

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Across the Tempest Sea, a mighty storm has raged for a thousand years, keeping a terrible, long-forgotten enemy at bay. An enemy whose cruelty knows no bounds, only the perpetual storm and their fear of the sorcerer Highlords keeps the necrophages from returning to Eidolan and cloaking the empire in death and darkness. But the tempest is waning, and the dissidents’ freedom may well come at the cost of their total destruction.

My Review: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for an honest review, and I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much as I did. I found myself pleasantly surprised.

The main character (Jareen) starts out without much depth to him, but with just enough hint of something simmering beneath his servile façade. When his world comes crumbling down around him, his response is to strike back—a sentiment I found believable and deepened the character greatly.

The world was rich, well-described, and drew me in. I found myself turning the pages without hesitation, as I wanted to find out what came next. The antagonist was a well-written character, and the story overall was clever, with great plot twists and turns.

It did feel a bit “all over the place” at times, and there were a few parts that lagged—I had to force myself to keep reading, rather than being drawn into the story. However, overall a VERY good book, one I’d highly recommend to any fantasy reader.

Here’s a Taste:

Jareen pulled an arrow straightener from his pocket, giving testament to how frequently Auberon ordered such corrective action. The device was a simple wooden slat the length of a man’s hand and two fingers in width. A hole was bored through each end, the larger one to best accommodate the digits of a man, the smaller for most women—or a child—as the case may be. It was the most effective and humane way Jareen had found to complete the gruesome task.

He held out his palm, gripped the fearful woman’s shaking hand when she laid it in his, and threaded her finger into the apparatus. Jareen caught the woman’s attention and held her gaze with his eyes.

“What is your name?” he asked.

Her frightened countenance broke into a wan smile and she released a nervous giggle. “Grace. Grace Parkin, and I must be going mad to be laughing now.”

Jareen smiled at her, an effect lost behind his mask. “Sometimes the irony in such an absurd situation is so great that, when all other emotion has been exhausted, there is simply nothing more fitting left to do. It is something I have experienced many times, and I do not yet consider myself mad.”

Jareen flexed his wrist and snapped the first bone in her little finger between the joints. Grace’s eyes flashed wide as she cried out. Her knees buckled but she managed to stay upright with the help of Jareen’s supporting hands.

He leaned close and whispered in her ear as he looped the arrow straightener onto her ring finger. “I am going to bend the finger with the knuckle. I need you to act out just as you did a moment ago. Auberon has spies throughout the palace and he rewards those who report violations of his will. Do you understand?”

Grace swallowed and nodded.

Using his body to block Grace’s hand from the prying eyes of the other servants, he rotated it ninety degrees and mimicked the fracturing motion, but this time, allowing the finger to move naturally with the joint.

Grace wailed a bit louder and dropped even heavier than before, her performance not entirely an act as every movement shot pain through her broken finger. Jareen kept her from falling and helped her stand back up.

“Masterfully done.” He tore several strips from a towel and began bandaging Grace’s two fingers together, using the arrow straightener as a splint. “Never forget that both fingers are broken and act accordingly.”

Grace bobbed her head. “I will. Thank you, sah.”

“I am not a sah. I am a slave just as you are.” Tying off the wrapping, he held up his injured arm. “You can begin practicing by bandaging my wound.”

Grace washed out the cut and wrapped it in the remaining strips of linen Jareen had torn. She was grateful for his making extra as she was unsure if she could have managed on her own. She tied off the bandage and stroked his hand before releasing his arm. Jareen was a married man, but he was not immune to the sensual touch of such a young and attractive woman.

“Do your best to stay out of Sah Auberon’s sight. He has likely already forgotten about you, but it is best to avoid his attention whenever possible.”

“Thank you again for your kindness.”

Jareen chuckled. “What a world we live in where breaking just a single bone is considered a kindness.”

About the Author:

Brock Deskins was born in a small town located in rural Oregon. At age twenty, he joined the army and served as an M1A1 tank crewman, dental specialist, and computer analyst. While in the military, he became an accomplished traveler, husband, and father of three wonderful children. His military career completed, attended college to brush up on his skills as a computer analyst and gain new skills as a writer. Brock received his degree in computer networking and is now devoting his full time and limited attention span to writing.

Find the book on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/highlordsofphaer

Independent Author Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/brock-deskins.html

Read his thoughts on his website: http://brockdeskins.com

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

Tweet at him: @brockdeskins

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Short Stories by Joshua Robertson

Today, instead of one book for you to read, I’ve got two short stories. They’re both written by Joshua Robertson, the author of Anaerfell. The stories are set in the dark fantasy world he’s created, and they flesh out other details of the world and novels he’s written.

When Blood Falls

Defending against the demons of the Deep has long given Tyr Og’s brethren purpose. When Tyr’s mother is robbed from him during childhood, he loses his will to live. Now, filled with rage and regret, Tyr hungers for a worthy death to bring an end to the futility of his life. In a short tale of blood and self-loathing, Tyr seeks the most honorable path to finally join his mother in the afterlife.

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The Name of Death

Drada Koehn is a fearless, formidable fighter ensnared in a presaged war against the northern humans. When the Speaker foretells their victory upon discovery of the name of death, she sets out to unravel the mysterious prophecy. Now, bound by duty and honor, Drada faces untold horrors with her companions, searching for what may never be found. In a story of unexpected twists, she soon finds that her resolve to see the quest done will be the fortune or doom of her people.

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My Review: 4 Stars

I found both of these short stories highly compelling and fascinating, pulling me into the world. The descriptions were vivid, the scene painted beautifully dark, the action scenes gripping, and the stories well-rounded. They were the kind of short stories I enjoy reading: they introduce a character, give him/her an objective, and reach a clear ending.

On the downside, the dialogue felt a bit stiff and stilted. The stories also relied heavily on a reader understanding the world built in his novels, so as someone who hasn’t read them, I felt a bit lost sometimes.

Still, if you enjoy a good action-filled short story set in a dark fantasy world, these are worth the read!

Here’s a Taste:

When Blood Falls

Vaghor did not budge. He pushed his tangled, red hair from his eyes. “Your mother is dead, and your father is a madman. We all know it. Why can you not accept it?”

“What of your father, Vaghor Fhar?” Tyr rolled the name off his tongue venomously. His voice carried further than he intended. “Your entire family is nothing but a legacy of half-wits and drunkards. Best hold your tongue unless you welcome death.”

He noticed the other sentries shuffle backward as he bellowed.

Tyr felt Gharkis close the distance from behind him with a single step. The man attempted to pull Tyr’s attention from Vaghor’s glaring gaze. “Where is your sister, Tyr? She had gone with you, did she not?”

“I bet she is dead, too,” Vaghor flared his nostrils, his eyes darkened with hate.

Tyr’s chest tightened. His deep voice rattled from his lips. “She is dead. Killed by a bear.” Gharkis grated from behind him with a sense of sympathy. His footsteps crunched against the ground as he moved away.

“Let him be,” Gharkis said.

Vaghor puffed his chest, inching closer. “Mother killed by a Witiko. Sister killed by a bear.” Vaghor cocked his chin, and clicked his tongue. “Where is the bear? We need food and resources.”

Tyr explained with a single word. “Taken.”

“Taken?” Vaghor echoed.

“Vaghor,” Gharkis warned.

“No,” Vaghor pressed. His breath was hot against Tyr’s frozen cheek. “We should expect better from Tyr Og, the son of an Elder.”

Tyr’s muscles instinctively flexed, causing his injured arm to throb from shoulder to wrist. “Bah! You haven’t been outside of Almdalir for three months. Try to provide before demanding from those who keep your belly filled.”

Vaghor growled, balling his fists. Gharkis reached past Tyr to calm the giant, only to have his hand swatted away by Vaghor. The Ispolini sneered. “Are you wishing to join your sister and mother?”

“I welcome it!” Tyr’s left hand clamped onto the jugular of Vaghor seconds before his fist connected with the giant’s nose and upper lip. Bones crunched. Blood gushed.

It was not enough.

 

The Name of Death

Seigfeld dipped his head. “I found Farthr chained in a hollow in that cave, captured and meant to be eaten by the Witiko scum. He had watched handfuls of his own—and humans—slaughtered at the hands of the demons.”

Drada felt her heart twist, the smoke of the fire burning her nostrils. “Your sister?”

Seigfeld turned his eyes from her. “Forever lost. Farthr agreed to help find her, unsure if he had witnessed her death among the many humans. We searched for a while, but the tunnels beneath the mountain ran long and deep in more directions than the two of us could have ever traveled in a single lifetime.”

Wrylyc looked over his shoulder, scrunching his hooked nose. “I don’t understand how Farthr disapproves of this story.”

“He is shamed to have been captured,” Drada said matter-of-factly, “and you stole from him an honorable death. He would have died with his brethren in that cave had you not come along.”

“He would have been eaten alive,” Seigfeld protested.

“Ah,” Wrylyc grinned, “but the Svet have eaten the living, even their own battle-fallen, since their creation.”

Drada recoiled, catching bile in her throat. She filled the space with words. “So, he is bound to you now because you saved him from an unsavory death?”

Seigfeld dipped his head in acknowledgement.

“Absurd,” she replied. “A life of servitude is far worse than a glorified death. He should have sought more Witiko in the caves to kill.”

“Oh, we killed many more in the search of my sister—”

“I hear little mourning for her in your breath,” Drada challenged, folding her arms.

Seigfeld continued, “…but many paths were so thick with the demons, we were forced to retreat.”

“Retreat?” Drada scoffed. “I know few who would be so eager to tell a story of defeat.”

Seigfeld’s gaze darkened from across the fire. “You do not know the horrors—”

“No. I do not. Because Uvil do not know fear.”

The clipping of Farthr’s hooves against the ground drew their attention. Towering over them, crossbow in hand, he stared at Drada with a haunting gaze, the darkness looming behind his massive breadth. His words fell on her like a curse. “You will.”

About the Author:

Joshua Robertson was born in Kingman, Kansas on May 23, 1984. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology. His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.

Find the stories on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/When-Blood-Falls-Joshua-Robertson-ebook/dp/B01MQZTIS4/

https://www.amazon.com/Name-Death-Joshua-Robertson-ebook/dp/B01N2XQYPY/

Read his thoughts on his website: http://www.robertsonwrites.com/

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

Follow his on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJoshuaRobertson/

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Book Review: Hometaker by Dean Wilson

Today, for Book Review Wednesday, I have a book I’ve been looking forward to: the FINAL book in The Great Iron War series by Dean Wilson. I’ve read the books since the beginning, and I’m thrilled to have closure to the story of Jacob, Whistler, Rommond, and all the others.

Hometaker

The Resistance races against time to complete the missile-launcher known as the Hometaker, capable of opening a gateway to the land the Regime came from, and exposing the Iron Emperor for all the evils he has done.

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Everything rests on the secrecy of the mission, but from day one tongues are wagging. The atmosphere is like dynamite. An overheard word could light the fuse. With no time left on the clock, General Rommond is forced to make an audacious plan: finish the construction of the Hometaker on the move, driving straight towards the enemy, who have assembled in unimaginable force.

The Great Iron War is coming to an end. It’s all or nothing—their world or ours.

My Review: 4 Stars

What I loved about this story: The circle is closed!

After years of reading these great books, I was happy to finally reach the end and receive that satisfying conclusion to the story. It did the rest of the series justice and closed the story in a way that I felt good about. Not necessarily a “happy  ending”, but the fitting ending the series deserved.

I LOVED the various plot twists and turns in this book. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I’d have to say “I didn’t see that coming!” They totally caught me by surprise, and I found they made for a much more realistic plot.

What I didn’t love: I felt the book was a bit more “rushed” than the previous ones. There were parts that felt downright choppy and “first draft” than Dean’s usual writing style.

But all in all, it was a satisfying ending to a book series I’ve enjoyed from the very beginning. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

Here’s a Taste:

And so the fire came.

The first jet of flame reached out over thirty metres. There was no one in its path, but it fulfilled its aim: sending fear before them even faster. The light illuminated the black armour and black masks. Even the coverings of the eyes were dark. These troops did not really need to see. They were here to burn everything.

Rommond’s men split apart, spreading out as he gestured for them to take cover. They hid behind the upturned landships, but only those at the front of the battlefield. They could not retreat any further or they would leave the carrier exposed. If that was set alight, the aim of it all was lost.

Rommond used a rifle from one of his fallen comrades to make his first shot. It only had a single bullet left, with most already wasted on the mines, but it was enough. There were a lot of fallen rifles littered around the sand, and not enough hands to use them. The bullet struck one of the closest fire-flingers straight in the forehead. He halted suddenly, then toppled forward, still clutching his flamethrower. His mate instinctively unleashed a jet of flame before him, but was still out of range to hit the general.

Then the other Resistance fighters unleashed a spray of bullets into the oncoming force, killing several of them, making them look a little less daunting than they did before.

And then the gas came.

The first came in a barrel, launched from a modified artillery gun parked far back with the troop carriers, which formed a black wall across the horizon. The barrel burst open in the midst of the Resistance soldiers, swiftly unleashing a green cloud of vapour, which spread out in all directions, thick and blinding. They were now the vermin-killers, here to weed out the rats.

Rommond yanked open the escape hatch of the upturned landship he hid behind and crawled inside. On its side, it was difficult to get his bearings, but this was not the first time he was in a vehicle like this. He quickly rummaged through the debris, pushing the bodies of the driver and gunner out of the way. He was certain that there was a gas mask in there somewhere, but he could not find it. He could barely see anything. If it was not the night, which entered with him, it was the dark of the interior itself. Everything was charred from the explosion that knocked the vehicle over, even the faces of its unmoving occupants. Even the gas mask that he eventually put his fingers on. Much of it was burned clean through.

He clambered swiftly back outside, where the green cloud was expanding, and the black-masked horde was approaching. He could no longer see his companions, but he could hear periodic gunfire, along with the screams and shouts of someone, punctured by his vomiting. If he was lucky, he would vomit blood. It would be over quicker then. Yet it would never be over quick enough.

Rommond dived out into the clear air, dodging a wall of flame that spat out from a nearby gun, and charged towards another fallen landship. That one was less damaged than the previous, but it was a lot more out in the open, in the eyeline of the fire-flingers, and not long before it was in their jet-line as well. He pulled at the escape hatch door, but it would not budge. It was buckled slightly on one side. Brute force alone would not do it, and yet he had to try. He could already feel the good air fleeing from the battlefield, not just from his frantic tussle. He could already see the sky darkening, not just from the encroaching night.

He felt a sudden heat and only narrowly missed the lashing tongue of flame that came at him. It singed the whiskers of his moustache and left little embers in the rim of his cap. As he span away, he unleashed his pistol, firing two shots. It was more than he needed, he knew, but he was caught off guard. That would get you killed. Yet, having no bullets left would do it too.

The fire-flinger crashed to the ground, almost falling into his own flame. It was then that Rommond thought to grab the gas mask from the corpse. It remained just a thought, however, because another approached behind him, and another, both alive and breathing fire.

Rommond barely had time to pull the trigger before a stream of fire whisked by him as he ran. He was forced to dive into the toxic cloud, gasping one last puff of fresh air before he disappeared inside. From there, laying with his back on the ground, he could barely make out the shapes of people and objects outside. He had to hope they were as blinded by their goggles as he was by the stinging vapour. He also had to hope they did not stray too far, because he was going on guesswork now to fire his remaining bullets.

The first clearly hit, because he heard the squelch of flesh, and the squeal of the man it entered. The second struck metal, and the third seemed to make no noise at all. Who knew what it hit further afield. The fourth—there was no fourth, he realised, as the revolver clicked idly. He was out. He knew his pistol was out too. That one he had kept track of. There were cartridges and bullet boxes in the landships. He even recalled feeling one as he searched for the gas mask, but never thought to grab it in the frenzy.

And now his breath was out too.

He gasped, feeling the first needle-points of the gas prick away at his lungs. He coughed, then tried to disguise the cough, knowing it would lead the fire-flingers to him. He covered his mouth and nose with the edge of his coat and tried not to suck in any more of the noxious fumes, but his lungs chugged along like little pumps and pistons on autopilot. If he took a breath, he would soon die. Yet if he did not breathe, he would die even swifter.

Better to burn than go like this, he thought.

So he rolled back out into the open, where he was greeted with a breath of fire.

About the Author:

Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11, when he began his first (unpublished) novel, entitled The Power Source. He won a TAP Educational Award from Trinity College Dublin for an early draft of The Call of Agon (then called Protos Mythos) in 2001.

He is the author of the Children of Telm epic fantasy trilogy and the Great Iron War steampunk series.

Dean also works as a journalist, primarily in the field of technology. He has written for TechEye, Thinq, V3, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hometaker-Steampunk-Dystopian-Action-Adventure-ebook/dp/B01N6CF5VT/

Read his thoughts on his website: http://www.deanfwilson.com

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

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

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

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