RRS Roundup: Noir and Nazis

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’ve got two almost unrelated books for you. I tried to find a theme… but, hey. Sometimes you just gotta read what you read. Moving on…

Bye Bye Bertie

Bye Bye BertieThis is a real, indie gem–proof that the burgeoning independent publishing movement is gifting the world with brilliant novels that would have otherwise never seen the light of day. Bye Bye Bertie is a satirical, modern day detective novel (with a retro Dragnet-era feel) based on a gen-x, Canuck gumshoe who moves to Seattle in order to open a Christian detective agency.

Detective Jo LaFlam is equally interested in his profession and determining the mystic will of God as he is in jelly donuts and getting married. This book is funny. And I’m not just saying that. How could throwing Sergeant Friday into the middle of contemporary Seattle as a Christian detective not be funny? Let me tell you, it is. Mix in a hot, conservative dame with a sister being brainwashed by Druids, and you’ll soon be along for a great ride. Read it! Review it! Share it! (the paperback is cheaper than ebook!)

Treasure Quest of the Third Reich

Treasure Quest of the Third ReichPaul von Hauser is just a low-level criminal lawyer working for the Nazis during the advanced stages of WWII until a trivial interview with a prisoner sets him on a quest for an ancient Jewish fortune in gold. First off, I need to be clear. This is not an Inglorious Bastards sort of adventure romp through a dieselpunk, Nazi Germany. (Which would be the sort of book I normally yap about).

Treasure Quest (despite the name) feels more like a cerebral, piece of historical literary fiction. It is well-researched (from what I can tell) and frolics in revealing the timber and feel of German life amidst the rubble of a bomb-besiged Berlin. Most of the characters are trying to think of life after the war, and how to best navigate their current situation in order to get to that hoped for future. While this book has lots of potential, (along the lines of City of Thieves) I was left feeling schizophrenic about the story. I feel like it has not yet embraced its higher calling (maybe in fear that it won’t be read unless it includes Nazi gold). Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Diesel & Steam Vs. Magic

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! it’s a rumble for the West. Who will win? The forces of industrialization or nature? First off…

Eve of Destruction (The Chronicles of Eve)

Eve of Destruction coverIn this version of the wild west it is the Industrialists versus the Magi. The Magi are losing. Eve is a young Magi in training. But in response to personal tragedy she grits her teeth and pulls herself up by the bootstraps the magi way… magical fireballs of destruction.

Along the way Eve has her childhood friend, Zach, to stabilize her during her periods of wavering doubt. The result is a sweet and believable sort of relationship. Eve of Destruction goes a bit further with its world building than many of the books in its growing genre of the magical, wild west. (Including some nice lingual touches like, “What in the void…”)

While the book might feel a little preachy to some (Goddess good, industry bad), I felt it fit within the developement of the plot and characters and made for a fun escape from our crusty reality. Read it! Review it! Share it!

The Native Star

Native Star coverI always enjoy a novel that starts with the bad guy. I take it as a good sign that evil will be taken seriously. In the case of Native Star, this is exactly what you get. Albeit brief, the prologue introduces you to a post Civil War America rife with spells and warlocks. And the bad guys are sufficiently bad.

Next the story introduces you to Emilly Edwards, a loyal and hardworking woman of the Sierra Nevadas who accidentally takes up magic. While looking for a man to provide for her aging adopted father, she finds much more than she bargained for… and the rest sort of writes itself! More about the magical society than the alternate history, the backdrop of the Native Star is fantastical and complex. Magic wins in this one, hands down. Read it! Review it! Share it! (*the ebook stands at $8! Sort of a tweener. Not cheap, but not too bad. If you like the free sample, dig in.)

RRS Roundup: Road to Amador

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! we are taking a meander into the eery both mainstream and alternative. Fist apocalyptic and then paranormal… spine tingly-dingling!

The Road

The RoadThe name Cormac McCarthy is recognized by many as a master of a new sort of southern gothic, a stark voice of the American rural, blue-collar stiff. What he does is a little different, and he does it in a way that only a really brilliant writer can get away with. This honks some people off. Not me. While I don’t think The Road is his best novel, I really enjoyed it.

The United States as we know it is gone. What made it so is not specifically mentioned. But a man and his son are traveling a road from the northern, colder climate southward toward the coast. Why? The body and mind need something to seize upon for survival. What of human relationship in such a world? What of hope and purpose? This is the emotional guts of this haunting story. Read it! Review it! Share it! ***warning: this ebook is currently $12! Ouch!

Amador Lockdown

Amador LockdownMeet the Paranormal Posse, based in El Paso, Texas. A group of otherwise total opposites come together over their shared fascination with the paranormal. Geeky, yes. Compelling and intricately human, hell yes. Amador  Lockdown accomplishes a nice balance of spooky without making one’s head spin before vomiting. I’m not a horror movie fan. I don’t dig making light of evil stuff. But this novel finds a good human groove early on and sticks with it.

The Amador Hotel in Las Cruces, New Mexico is the focal point. The author, Coral Russell, unfurls the setting via several eye witness accounts before having the main characters actually on location. This is her first well calculated effort at building the suspense in a story that escalates all the way through to the end. Overall, the story mixes a bit of the human, the paranormal and the historical into a enjoyable read. Read it! Review it! Share it! (for only $0.99!)

RRS Roundup: Wild Card Zona

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! we are stepping out into a dystopian Arizona and a fantastical alternate history. Time for imagination to run wild!

The Zona

The ZonaThere has been an environmental disaster. Sea level has risen dramatically. Everything from before is remember as the Broken Times and the survivors of the human race have split between people just wanting to scrape what living they can and those who have born a super-fundamentalist religion, one imposed forcefully and rigorously on everyone.

The Zona is creative and vivid. The language is just the way I like it, overwrought. But within the dystopian waste of a burning hot Arizona the overcooked language works most of the time. The lead character is known as Lead (cheeky, huh?) He starts off as self-righteous and somewhat hard to like, but the setting drags you into the story. And the pacing keeps you reading. A great read for fans of dystopia. Read it! Review it! Share it!

Wild Cards I

Wild Cards IBreaking from my mold, this collection of stories is not published independently. But I couldn’t put off reading the book any longer. History diverges after WWII when an alien life form lands on Earth in attempt to warn us of a strange virus that becomes known as the Wild Card virus. Some people it gifts with super powers, some with monstrous deformities. Thus it creates Aces and Jokers.

Each story within the Wild Card universe is written within the same alternate history, but they can involve new characters or old–written by a variety of authors in a variety of styles. They are all good.

This first volume starts with a dieselpunk-retro-atomic flare that is ridiculously enjoyable. It is classic vinyl sci-fi with a modern attitude. And the details of the alternate history are forked over at such a teasingly slow pace that it is tough to stop reading. My waiting to get this book paid off when the ebook price fell to $2.99! (still there at time of writing). Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Zombie Love

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’m pulling a couple of unique “zombie” apocalypse books off the shelf. One is the gold standard for said apocalypse, the other (dare I say it) a romance! First, the kissy/kissy…run!

Sundered (A Zombie-ish Apocalypse, Book 1)

Sundered coverShannon Mayer takes a risk by combining an apocalyptical story with that of a protagonist longing to become pregnant and raise a family with her husband and love of her life. But two things she doesn’t gamble with at all: 1.) she’s a solid storyteller 2.) she’s an accomplished and talented writer.

In all honesty, I just don’t understand the whole romance thing in books. I’m not sure why. I loved movies like Sleepless in Seattle, et. all. Yet this book has a driving pace and thrilling plot, just enough to help me sort of blah, blah, blah past the romance. (Some of you might do the reverse!)

When a new miracle drug gets fast-tracked to market almost 90% of the global population takes the “one-time” shot before the horrible truth surfaces. Well, you can probably guess what’s coming next. Mayer pulls it off in a highly-entertaining manner. If you love either romance or apocalypse, you’ll enjoy this book. If you like both, what are you waiting for? Read it! Review it! Share it!

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z coverMax Brooks is landmark author within the genre. World War Z is a must read for apocalyptic literature. I call it literature because that’s what it is. This book is not to be confused with the pulpy dime novels or zombie comics (not that they can’t be great as well). This is a zombie classic in the making.

Each chapter is a recorded account of first-hand survivors of World War Z, gathered and published by a narrator charged by a United Nations sort of global agency with recording the bare facts for generations to come. But bare facts isn’t enough to capture the horrifying reality of what man’s hubris did to the planet, so the narrator endeavors to publish this more personal novel outside of his official mission.

Spooky and prophetic, this is a collection of gripping human stories drenched in zombie madness. (*Warning: this non-indie ebook costs $12! Ouch!) Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Space Out, Tune In

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I offer a little bit of outer space, both satirically lighthearted and… not so much. First off:

Gabriel’s Redemption (Evan Gabriel Trilogy)

Gabriel's Redemption CoverMeet Evan Gabriel. He’s your lovable military flunky. Does the right thing, saves his men, gets knifed in the back by political nepotism. You want the truth! You can’t handle the truth! Anyway, in this little gem of a book, Gabriel is reactivated for duty after a dishonorable discharge during the latter half of the 22nd century.

The assignment is to stop a designer drug called Dew from overwhelming the military and the human race at large. The twist is that it comes from off planet, a long way off planet. That should be all you need to get you revved up and ready for reading Gabriel’s Redemption, a well conceived and executed science fiction, military thriller.

The tech is thought out and sprinkled throughout the opening at a smooth pace, as is Gabriel’s character. Overall, Umstead offers us a shining example of why independent authors are here to stay. Oh, and the other two in the trilogy are available as well. Read it! Review it! Share it!

Doodling

Doodling CoverNow let me introduce you to Neville Lansdowne, the protagonist of an unusually fun, satirical little story along the lines of The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you didn’t know, let me tell you. The Little Prince is one of my all-time favorite books (one of my must-read-before-the-age-of-eighteen-or-risk-being-a-screw-up books).

But this little review is about, Doodling, not that other classic. Jonathan Gould doesn’t quite pack the same amount of life wisdom in his short, satirical gem, but he comes close. After Neville lets go of the earth he meets an assortment of individuals who have all done exactly the same thing. Soon it becomes apparent what his new aim in life should be, and the reader will enjoy tagging along to see how it all turns out.

Amusing and insightful for all ages, Doodling shouts for one and all to Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Weird and Western

Howdy, gentle partners. This week’s Read it! Review it! Share it! Goes West with a bit of weird. But first a West that’s just quirky.

The Mule Tamer

The Mule Tamer coverAh, the wilds of Arizona during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Where else would you rather be? The Mule Tamer builds off of a strong and quirky protagonist who is simply fun to read about. The Arizona/Mex flavor of this book strikes a bold note like fresh pico de gallo on a summer day. Alas, at times the prose of this book can be a bit tricky to navigate, bordering on convoluted.

But if you enjoy a good posse every now and then, The Mule Tamer has what you’re looking for. If the first two pages make sense to you (try the ebook free sample first), then sit back and Read it! Review it! Share it!

The Converted

The Converted coverHere’s a new twist on an old genre. The Converted is a Western, no two ways about it. But it’s set on a second world (a world a lot like ours, but not ours–like Gotham or Hogwarts).

A variety of strange peoples, including gray, barbarous mountain men, mix it up in a story that is Western at heart. People have decorated their faces with tats and their horses with genetic alterations, but they still carry six shooters and shotguns.

Overall, it’s an intriguing  book, but the execution gets a little shaky in spots. If you like Westerns and enjoy a little deviation from the norm (like a certain blog writer I know), then Read it! Review it! and Share it!

Guns of Seneca 6

Guns of Seneca 6 CoverThis is a romping fun read. Full disclosure requires I tell you up front, I love a good space western. But who doesn’t? This is a good space western. From the opening sentence the reader knows exactly what sort of book he/she is reading: a rooting-tooting, border-town Western built around a touching father/son relationship.

The only twist is that Seneca 6 is a mining planet orbiting a different sun. The story is well-written and hits all the main targets of the Western genre, including it’s own version of savages. Throw in a bit of a coming of age story, and you’re in for a good read. Of these three, this one was my personal favorite. Read it! Review it! Share it!