Destiny Gift–Juliana Haygert

DESTINY GIFT by Julana Haygert (NA paranormal romance)

Thirty years in the future, a sinister New York City exists in permanent darkness.

A student at the secured NYU, nineteen-year-old Nadine has visions of Victor Gianni, an imaginary guy she has real feelings for. Afraid of being truly insane, she explains the visions away as simple daydreams, but she can no longer deny them when she bumps into Victor in real life. But this Victor doesn’t know her, and turns her away. After the encounter, Nadine’s visions change to those of eerie fates, gods she’s never heard of, demons with sharp claws they are not too timid to use … and instructions.

To discover if she’s losing her mind, Nadine follows the vague directions—with the real, rude and reluctant Victor—leading to a man who knows it all: Nadine can restore an ancient creed by unveiling the clues on her visions, and bring sunlight and peace to the world again. But that’s only if the demons and the other evil forces behind the darkness don’t stop her first.

Ju 
About the Author:
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.
Excerpt:
I heard a heavy sigh and turned toward it. It was Victor. He was leaving the elevator down the hall and coming toward his grandma’s room. He had seen me and didn’t seem happy about it.

He wore faded jeans, a T-shirt, and a thin jacket. Too casual. I shook my head. The fact that my dream Victor and this real Victor were exactly the same physically, while their clothing styles and posture were the opposite of each other still boggled my mind.

He came to a stop before me. “You again.” There was disdain in his tone. I cringed.

“How are you?” I managed to ask and immediately felt silly. I had planted myself here in this hallway for over an hour waiting for him, and when he finally arrived, I didn’t know what to say. Though I really did want to know how he was. The last time I had seen him in the flesh, he’d been jerking on the floor of the hospital’s garage, in pain. “What was that … ah … before …?”” I trailed off, hoping he would understand what I was referring to.

He shrugged, his sea-green eyes still staring at me with suspicion. “I don’t know. By the way, how do you know my name?”

I twirled a lock of my hair around my index finger as I considered my answer. I wanted to answer him. I wanted to be honest, but he would never believe me.

As if my answer would pop out of the walls, I scanned the hallway.

At the end of the corridor, a nurse left a room and entered another.

“The nurse,” I almost shouted, hoping he wouldn’t notice my sudden lie. I avoided his inquisitive eyes. “I heard a nurse calling you earlier that day.”

His deadpan expression hid his thoughts and didn’t let me know if he was buying it or not.

“What did you do to me last night?” he asked, crossing his arms. God, I hated how his voice and his posture were so guarded and mistrustful. I wasn’t used to it.

“What do you mean?”

“When you touched me, the shock and the pain went away. How did you do that?”

“I don’t know.” This time I wasn’t lying. I really didn’t know. He frowned, clearly still suspicious. “Seriously, I have no idea.”

His shoulders stiffened. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”

My eyes widened as I retreated a few steps, trying to avoid his toxic tone.

Yes, he looked like my Victor—the same voice, the same hair, the same face, the same mouth that had offered me smiles that had rendered me breathless many, many times. I wanted to touch him, to embrace him, to tell him everything was going to be okay. Maybe if I touched him, he would remember me and he would want to touch me too.

I came closer to him, looking deeply into those wary green eyes, my fingers itching to stroke his skin, to feel it smoldering under my caress. But I didn’t. He was like my Victor, but he wasn’t my Victor. The Victor from my visions would never speak to me like this. He would never snap at me. No, no. My Victor loved my company, loved to hear me sing, loved to embrace me and inhale my scent.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, my voice croaking under the heavy pressure inside my chest.

Then, I walked away.
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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