#SPFBO Review : Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier (Tuyo #1)

Posted On 25 October 2020

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This is my final review for the 10 books I rolled forward for SPFBO.  Following this I will post an update for the past five books at which point I will make cuts and select my next semi-finalists.  On the 28th I hope to announce my finalist.

TuyoTuyo was another very impressive read from this batch.  The writing is really good, there’s a good story and some interesting world building but the two central characters really stole the show for me.

As the story begins we meet Ryo inGara.  Ryo has been left by his war leader as a Tuyo.  Basically, a sacrifice left to appease the enemies and allow the rest of the tribe to make their escape.  I have to say that Ryo has a great voice and I was immediately hooked by his plight.  Within fairly short order we also meet the other MC – Aras, Warlord of the Lau.  Ryo’s fate lies in the hands of this enemy Warlord and, no matter the outcome, he can only hope that he doesn’t shame his family.

In terms of the plot, and I don’t think this is a spoiler at all, Aras decides to keep Ryo as a translator and advisor.  The Lau and the Ugaro lived relatively peacefully alongside each other until recent troubles seemed to have spiked and caused unrest.  The Ugaro live in the Winter lands where cold snaps can be deadly.  The Lau live in the summer countries where the heat can be intense and heat sickness and death is a real possibility. Both these lands sit on opposite sides of a river – I realise this seems a little unlikely but I decided to go with the set up and not question it too deeply and to be honest it didn’t seem unlikely at all as I was reading and this is a fantasy novel after all and one in which magic plays a role.  As the story begins to unfold and Ryo and Aras learn more of each other’s customs it becomes apparent that a third party is actually a bigger risk to the Lau and the Ugaro and in order to survive the two may have to overcome their mutual distrust.

To be honest that last part encapsulates so much of what makes this book a good read. The Ugaro and the Lau are so very different and the author does a really good job of getting across the culture and lifestyles of both.  It’s these very differences of course that cause fear and distrust and this is a winning element of the story – watching the gradual change as both characters learn more about each other’s way of life.

Aras, as it turns out, is able to perform magic, in fact it seems that many of the Lau had minor abilities in this respect, but Aras is much more powerful than even his close friends are aware of.  His magic relates  predominantly to mind control and although I would love to go into this aspect more thoroughly I’m conscious of spoiling the read for others so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say there are some interesting elements that arise as a result of the magic which helps to create some unique situations.

The characters.  Well Ryo and Aras are central to the plot and in fact Ryo narrates the story.  Both are very easy to like.  They both share a strong sense of honour and obligation and both are prepared to learn more in order to overcome their prejudices.  Watching the two in their own environment and then observing them when they’re out of their comfort zones was really interesting. The Lau feel a little more typical fantasy fare, they reminded me a little of the Romans and their legions although I guess you could liken them to any empire with an organised and disciplined army.  There was focus on how their army camps operate and mostly this was easy to imagine.  I really liked the amount of thought that the author gave to the Ugaro and their customs and rituals.  This aspect was really fascinating.  Particularly as the action ramped up and war counsels were organised.  Meeting Ryo’s family was really interesting and I loved all the interactions.

In terms of criticisms.  I have very little to be honest.  I think the point I mentioned above about the different places being so strictly defined is a little unusual at first, I mean, literally, cross a river and find major change.  To be fair, I didn’t really find it an issue but maybe worth a mention.

Overall this was a very enjoyable read.  Friendships and trust where you least expect, overcoming differences and prejudices and really great characters.

I received a copy from the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.


#SPFBO – My Next Steps

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300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.

So, this is slightly new territory for me in that this year I’ve left all my possible books to the final month to read and review and I’ve decided to leave things fairly loose.  To be honest I’d like to read all 10 books before choosing semi-finalists but I’m also conscious that time is moving on and I need to keep on top of things and not leave everything to the last few days.  With that in mind I’m going to provide an update after I’ve completed the first five books, 

And, the following (not listed in any particular order) are the books that I will be reading (slight spoiler alert, in case you’re thinking this seems like a lot to get through I can say I’ve already completed three of these so hopefully my first update will come on swift wings

  1. Tuyo by Rachel Neumeier
  2. Voice of War by Zack Argyle
  3. The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick
  4. The Child of Silence (The Burning Orbit Book 1) by Joseph O. Doran
  5. Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley
  6. Calico Thunder Rides Again by T.A. Hernandez
  7. The Usurper (Brutal Saga #0.50) by James Alderdice
  8. The Hammer Of The Gods: So You Want To Be A Star (The Druid Trilogy #1) by Andrew Marc Rowe
  9. Knightmare Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #1) by Shami Stovall
  10. Incursion by Mitchell Hogan

On a final note – if any of my authors have audio versions available and would like me to check those out then just leave me a comment.

Good luck to everyone.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Just finished reading Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier .  I really enjoyed this book.  It had an interesting take on the whole werewolf myth, it was fast paced with plenty of action and I liked the style of writing.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Okay, well, taking a look at the cover it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a take on werewolves – called black dogs in this story.  I confess I love the cover, it makes me come out all ‘pantomime’ – I want to shout out at the girl on the front ‘he’s behind you!’…

Anyway, moving swiftly on, the three main characters are Natividad, Miguel and Alejandro – two brothers and their sister.  Miguel is a regular human, Alejandro is a black dog and Natividad is a Pure born – whose magic can help to calm the dark shadow of the black dog,  The three of them have recently lost their parents to a vicious pack of black dogs and are on the run from a determined enemy known as Vonhausel.  They’re running straight into other black dog territory – hoping for shelter but risking their lives in the process by encroaching in this way.  And, it’s at this point that the three are discovered by a particularly cold and menacing black dog and taken to the Dimilioc base.

The premise of the story is based heavily on the war between vampires and werewolves – or at least in this book there are werewolves but the main packs are black dogs.  People who are not moon called but are constantly on the edge torn between their human and animal nature.  In this story the vampires have been eliminated during vicious wars that have also split the black dogs into different factions.  The Dimilioc pack are one of the oldest surviving packs.  They enforce pack law on rogue dogs.  Their executioner, Ezekiel, is greatly feared and has not yet met his match.  And it is in this place that the three now find themselves and where the quick and charming tongue of Miguel will be needed in order to keep them alive.  Of course, they do have a much sought after asset – their Pure sister.  Many black dogs hate the Pure and the magic they use to protect humans and to bring calm to the black dog spirit and consequently many of these women have been killed.  The Dimilioc pack have always sworn to protect the Pure – they greatly prize these women for their soothing presence and the way in which they help to maintain the humanity of the pack. The Dimilioc master therefore agrees to let the three stay, with the proviso that Natividad will, eventually, chose one of the pack members.  Decisions, decisions – what’s a girl to do!  Well, staying alive might become the first priority as Vonhausel and his dogs have followed the three and are about to attack!

As I said I really enjoyed this.  I liked the family aspect to the story and the way they all cared for each other so much.  I thought the take on the whole vampire/werewolf myth was interesting and unique.  I own up that I liked Ezekiel quite a bit and especially the fact that the author has succeeded in bringing quite a sizzling chemistry to the page.

In terms of criticisms – I felt like the ages of the three characters was a little young – Nat and her twin brother Miguel being only 15!  It makes the whole idea of this pack of male dogs vying for the attention of this young girl a little off putting although the author pretty quickly succeeds in keeps this from becoming too great a contest.  Admittedly Ezekiel is only a few years older but even so I think I would have preferred it if Natividad had been a little more mature, especially as she has a deadline of her 16th birthday to reach a rather important decision.  Also, there is quite a lot of macho posturing going on which is a bit yawn inducing at times!  It simply becomes a little tiresome when there’s a pack of men flexing their muscles and making decisions willy nilly for the poor little defenceless girl – fortunately Natividad doesn’t let them have all their own way and seems perfectly capable of defying orders on a regular basis.

I did have an issue with one particular aspect which I thought didn’t quite gel but having thought about that I suspect it could be something that provides a further plot line so obviously I won’t elaborate.  For those who don’t like cliffhanger endings – stand easy because this novel does have a fairly self contained conclusion.

Undoubtedly it’s difficult to bring something new to the paranormal reading world but I think the author manages to come up with an interesting concept.  I especially liked the fact that she takes a look back at the old notion of werewolves pitched against vampires while giving the idea a fresh take.  I will definitely read any future tales of the Black Dogs to see where this goes next.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.  The above is my own opinion.