RRS Roundup: Dryads and Burial Mounds

This week’s Read it! Review it! Share it! involves an urban fantasy coming of age tale laden with Native American lore. An enjoyable (if not flawless) performance. (I’ve been watching too many olympic competitions.)

The Dryad’s Kiss (2nd Ed) (The Chronicles of the Mighty Finn)

The Dryad's KissI’ve gone and read another young adult book! It just keeps happening against my will. But The Dryad’s Kiss has a hint of that Stand By Me/Super 8 retro feel that drew me in (despite an opening dream sequence!). In truth the first couple of chapters left me wanting to skim read.

But when Finn embarked on a morally questionable unearthing of a haunted burial mound with his father and uncle, the text found its voice and came alive. Finn’s voice-cracking, wobbly-kneed youth becomes endearing as he wrestles with everything from common sexual attraction to mystical revelation.

Overall I think Vankirk and his protagonist the Mighty Finn recover from a few missed cues early in the routine in order to stick the landing. Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Reality War 2

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’m addressing the first noteworthy sequel to find its way onto the Green Porch. And it’s a grand adventure.

The Reality War Book2: The City of Destruction

Reality War 2I’ve also reviewed the first book in this series and highly recommend reading it before the second. Rather than being separate entities, they are parts of the same whole. That being said, The City of Destruction is as toothsome as it is brainsome. It is a mind-altering twisty tale not without a devastatingly-human element.

Two opposing forces, intelligent races, duel across time and space to win a war that dictates whether they ever even existed. History will remember only the winner, but does that make them righteous? or merely victorious?

In a story where some sacrifices last forever and others never happened (or sometimes both at once) the main players develop complex motives and even more complex complexes in a manner that kept me thinking about the repercussions of human relationship.

I love time travel when it’s done right. The City of Destruction was just that, sporting a host of character-testing contradictions that beg readers to inspect their deepest selves. If right and wrong were irrelevant would I abandon my humanity to do what had to be done to save it? Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Moses in Space

On this week’s Read it! Review it! Share it! I’ve got a unique little sci-fi retelling of the story of Moses from the Biblical book of Exodus. So let’s get to it!

The Worker Prince

The Worker PrinceIt’s not that often that a science fiction story bordering on space opera comes along that everyone will enjoy reading. That’s what Schmidt accomplishes with the Worker Prince. Revolving around a recent graduate prince who leaves home for his first assignment only to discover his slave-class origins, the story mirrors that of the Biblical Moses in many aspects.

While the main protagonist, Davi Rhii, does not spend 40 years in the dessert, he does wrestle with identity issues and the status quo of an empire built on the back of slave labor. The conflict that ensues is the classic story of one against the many. The result is watching an individual discover his unique place, and this is something most of us long for in our own lives.

Schmidt finds a nice balance between moralizing and adventure in his tale that I thought suited anyone between the ages of 13 and dead.

That being said, it didn’t hit the sweet spot for me. I prefer a little more grime and grit in my space opera. Rhii is a champion and hero more along the lines of Luke Skywalker (without all the whining) and less like Han Solo. But the prose is elegant and well-paced.

If you enjoy young adult literature, coming of age tales, and/or science fiction adventure then you’ll enjoy The Worker Prince. Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Serial Steam

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’m taking us back into the world of steampunk. But this ain’t your daughter’s steamy McSteampunk. This is genuine anachronistic steampunk.

Spring-heeled Jack and the President’s Ring (The Magnetron Chronicles)

Spring-Heeled Jack on Amazon

First I have to clarify. This is a steampunk serial adventure, but it is not the The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. This one is by D.L. Mackenzie. Part of a planned 5 novelette serial, this second installment picks up with the solving of the mysterious death of Dr. Hogalum by Phineas Magnetron and the rest of the Hogalum Society (Think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with the emphasis on gentlemen).

Truly anachronistic, witty and fun these stories embrace a vocabulary-stretching voice that reflects the Victorian era while sneaking in a bit of the post-modern sense of humor. With a Sherlock Holmes sort of intellect Magnetron endeavors to unwrap the mystery of his deceased mentor all the while coming up against Compost, his arch-enemy.

The supporting cast of gentleman are noteworthy as well. Despite the number of characters, Mackenzie manages to keep them set apart with unique names and backgrounds. There is not a tremendous amount of character development to slow down the story, but each of the gentlemen stands in a position to be called upon to carry a storyline when needed. (A nifty feat for a serial).

While there is a smaller story arc that comes to resolution within this serial, it feels like a minor note in the overall arc. This frustrated me somewhat, but I suppose that is the point of a serial. (Think TV mini-series in print.) At around 100 pages I recommend you Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Wonderful Horribles

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’ve whipped up a look at the short story. To be specific, a collection of them dealing with mortality and eternity!

Paths to Divinity

paths to divinityPaths to Divinity is not a helter-skelter collection of short stories (rather popular these days), but rather a reviving of a hibernating medium. Some stories require such diverse voice and point of view as to strain against the classic story arc of the novel. Yet they are still stories deserving to be told and which we yearn to hear.

Thus enters Paths to Divinity, a story of nothing less than the veil between worlds. With each of the shorts in this collection Dicristofano toys with a different human perception of ultimate reality. With startling vividness Dicristofano delves into one world view after another, leading the reader down disturbingly provocative and terrifying bunny trails only to yank her from the threshold at the moment of transition and toss her back into the darkness yet again.

Fresh and cunning, Paths to Divinity leaves nary a stone unturned. A few of my favorites involved a tennis playing Grim Reaper, an evolving relationship between the Angel Uriel and the original serpent, and a terrifying twist of the demonic.

Amidst a sea of vampires and perky, pre-teen-on-angel romance, Paths to Divinity offers a hardy meal of venison and mead for the mind. Each course of the feast provides a new complexity of flavor begging the reader to either thrill or shiver under the implications. What does this life hold? What of the next? What of the in-between? And how will I respond when the moment finds me?

Horrible and beautiful at the same time, my only contention with the work is that more than once it kept me up at night. So what are you waiting for? Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Mule Tamer-er

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! we’re gonna’ reload a western I recently blabbered on about right here on the Green Porch. So saddle up! Again.

The Mule Tamer II, Chica’s Ride

Mule Tamer IIIn the first Mule Tamer adventure Arvel Walsh meets the wild Chica (who becomes his wife). The sequel focuses on Chica as the title indicates (says Captain Obvious). In the time since the first story she has had a daughter and become quite the civilized and domesticated mother (even to the approval of her mother-in-law).

But in tried-and-true western fashion, Mule Tamer II opens with a train heist at the hands of the despicable Sombrero del Oro. Chica’s daughter is taken out from under her and her abuelita. In response she goes old-school in a brutally splendorific manner.

Combining nice amounts of family saga and action, this is a great Western story at a time when Westerns are just beginning to crawl back into the mainstream awareness. If you like kick-butt heroines you certainly won’t be disappointed.

The main negative for me was a difficult to navigate point of view jumble in the opening chapter in which the author jumped from intimate POV’s without even so much as a paragraph break. While I appreciated the attempt to grasp an overall picture of the train and its occupants, I desperately wanted a double return (or something) between each jump. But the madness subsided quickly, and the action drew me back in. Read it! Review it! Share it!

RRS Roundup: Free Books on Writing

This week on Read it! Review it! Share it! I’m going all practical! I’m still a crazy rebel indie-style something wicked bad. But everyone needs a couple of free resources for juicing their creative endeavors every now and then. So have at ‘em.

Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Smashwords Guides)

Secrets to Ebook Publishing SuccessThis is the latest by Mark Coker. If you just woke up from a pre-ebook coma then I should tell you that Coker is pretty much the founder of the indie ebook publishing revolution (if any one person could be dubbed this). He is behind Smashwords.com where you can also go and get Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success for free.

This book goes well beyond Smashwords to include all the basics you need to know and be reminded of as an indie author trying to spread the word on your genius far and wide. Readily digestible and full of best practices, this is a must reference to have on hand. And it’s free! (*0.99 at Kindle store) Read it! Review it! Share it!

Write Good or Die

Write Good or DieThis free writing advice book takes the approach that all writing advise sucks. Well, sorta. Rather the editor, Scott Nicholson, acknowledges that there are so many individual approaches to being a successful/career writer today that no single writer’s advice can be completely applicable to any other writer.

So, Nicholson put together a diverse lineup of career writers from all sorts of backgrounds to each share their best stuff. The result is a worthy, inspirational read for the sort of indie writer willing to think outside the box and push the limits in order to succeed. Write Good or Die! Read it! Review it! Share it!