“Runners & Riders”: Steampunk at it’s Best

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Brass glass! Jordan Elizabeth has once again created an extremely well crafted steampunk romance in her latest addition to her Treasure Chronicles series. Runners & Riders is filled with mystery and intrigue, as well as plenty of steam powered gadgets and inventions that bogle the mind. Elizabeth captures the Victorian tone in every detail, taking readers of all ages on a steam powered journey that won’t soon be forgotten.

There’s an age old battle going on in New Addison City between Runners and Riders. A bored young Juliet Darcy finds herself smack dab in the middle of it all when she falls in with the notorious Runners, a brutal gang of thugs who take what they want, by force if necessary, terrorizing the city. Jonathan Montgomery is the newest young Rider, sworn to bring the Runners down after they murdered his parents when he was a child. Add an ancient mechanical princess who navigates the tunnels beneath the city with an agenda of her own and you have the makings of a great steampunk adventure.

Princess Arlene enlists the help of Juliet, who after being betrayed by the Runners, teams up with Jonathan to bring them down. But the Runners are ruthless, with little regard for anyone who stands in their way of their goals. Jonathan and Juliet risk it all to destroy the Runners and their merciless leader, but to do so, they must stay one step ahead in this deadly game.

Runners & Riders is well structured and full of surprises at every turn. I give it five quills.

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Kaye gives honest book reviews and she does not charge for them. If you have a book you would like reviewed contact Kaye at kayebooth[at]yahoo[dot]com


Chronology is full of surprises

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I’ve just had the pleasure of reviewing a new anthology of short fiction put out by Curiosity Quills Press. When asked if I’d like to review Chronology, I had the impression that it was a steampunk anthology, which is a genre I’m newly discovering. Some of the stories in this collection do have steampunk elements, such as Wind Up Hearts, the steampunk-ish romance that is sure to break readers’ hearts, by Bram Stoker Award finalist, Stan Swanson, or Flight of the Pegasus by Dr. Darin Kennedy. There’s also That Which is Hidden, a haunted steampunk-ish werewolf romance, by Julie Frost. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find the stories in Chronology to be a diverse mixture of speculative fiction.

Some are futuristic, leaning more toward science fiction, such as the apocalyptic Afterparty by Mark Woodring, Limited Liability, a futuristic outer space story by Matthew Graybosch or Gookie Visits Her Moma by G. Miki Hayden, an alternate universe science fiction story about a space bounty hunter whose current bounty takes her back to her home planet. Many others are more in the fantasy realm, such as Draconic King, by award winning author, James Wymore, or Yours Until the Ink Dries, a true faerie tale, as a young outcast girl discovers her true identity in her drawings, by Y.A. author Jordan Elizabeth. And then there are those stories that fall into the mythical realm, such as Strange Flesh, a well-crafted story of mythical creatures by Katie Young, or Wampus Cat, a tale of Appalachian legends come true by international bestselling author Scott Nicholson.

Still, others have a horror element or two, such as The Lair, a story of a cursed treasure hunt in jungle swamps, by best-selling independent author, Tony Healey, or Lava, a spectral love story by New York Times bestselling author, Piers Anthony, or In the Clutches of the Mummy Prince, by B.C. Johnson, which was not very scary. Also I had trouble relating with the main character in Johnson’s story, who wasn’t very likeable. There is also The Comeback, the weirdest zombie romance I’ve ever heard of, told from the zombie’s POV, by techno-thriller and MG fantasy author, Tara Tyler, and Inmate #85298, a chilling death row tale, by author and screenwriter, Andy Rausch.

Of course, there are also those stories that weren’t so easy to classify, including White Chapel, which sheds new light on the story of Jack the Ripper, by author, editor and podcast co-host, Andrew Buckley, or Signs Unseen, the story of a small town race war, by J.P. Moyahan, or Bait and Witch, a troublesome witch story by speculative fiction author, J.P. Sloan. There is also The Bull, by novelist and short story writer, J.R. Rain, which turns a Minotaur into a superhero, and The Unattended Life, a reminder to stop and smell the roses by J.E. Anckorn, and an intriguing airship romance, Above the Clouds, by Richard Roberts.

Yes, it is a big book, about 530 pages, but it is definitely a good read. In addition to the stories mentioned above there are the three I enjoyed the most, which I saved to tell you about in more detail. The following stories stuck out in my mind the most, but not in any particular order.

The Room Below, by novelist Wilbert Stanton is a horror story worthy of Lovecraft, or King. This story about a stay in a mental institution that puts One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to shame. It held my attention and kept me on the edge of my seat, and had a surprising, yet satisfying ending.

The Colorado King, by Nathan Yocum is a story in which survival is the name of the game as a father and daughter travel over post-apocalyptic badlands in search of kin and refuge, bringing with it some very hard lessons. This well-crafted tale grabs readers’ attention and doesn’t let go, yet it leaves readers feeling like there should be more, probably due to the fact that it is an excerpt. I’m guessing that it is from Yocum’s novel, The Zona.

And finally, Innocent Deception, by Matthew Cox is a well-crafted story which has a surprising reveal in its final pages. The daughter of a pharmaceutical company’s CEO is kidnapped and held for ransom, but the plan falls apart when the mother doesn’t want the kid back.

Overall, I give Chronology 3 Quills.          Three Quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read, and she never charges for them. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Treasure Darkly” presents a great genre combo

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Clark Treasure carries within himself a dark treasure, which gives him control over life and death, and allows him to communicate with spirits. The army wants his secret and drives him into a life as a fugitive, in this haunted YA steampunk romance with a western flair, Treasure Darkly, by Jordan Elizabeth. Clark seeks refuge with the man he believes to be his father, a rich man with a lot of pull in Hedlund, the Big Valley of steampunk, hoping to ride on the Treasure name for protection. His true father comes to him as a spirit after the ruse has already been set in motion and sends Clark on a mission to take care of his unfinished business. Amethyst Treasure, the feisty, spoiled sister who’s not, becomes an object of affection when they both learn there’s no blood between them, and by the end of the book they’ve fallen in love, of course.

Elizabeth sets this first book up well to carry the rest of her Treasure Chronicles series, wrapping up the romance, while leaving the main story open ended to carry on another day, or another book or two. My only criticisms lie in the fact that at times, it didn’t feel like the characters actions and reactions were genuine and that Elizabeth detours from the main storyline from about Chapter 33, after Amethyst’s male friend from the city, Joshua, shows up at the ranch unexpectedly. The family choses this exact time to all go on a family outing, making it feel as if we’ve taken an abrupt jog into a subplot involving Amethyst’s brother, Jeremiah, and a brief romance. While this was a neat little tale driven by the urge to reveal character, I had to pause and ask myself why Elizabeth chose to stray so far from the main story with this section that doesn’t seem to move the story forward.

The place in which Elizabeth choses to end this tale feels unfinished, leaving many unanswered questions, but perhaps this was purposefully crafted to carry us into the next book in the series. For me, however, it felt like an abrupt drop off, leaving many loose ends dangling. It felt like there should have been more, maybe just one more chapter to tie everything neatly together before sending readers off to ponder the story in their own minds, which they will, because Treasure Darkly is a story that inspires deeper thought processes. It has an interesting and well thought out premise, that leaves many possibilities open to discovery. I look forward to seeing what future tales will be inspired for this series.

Overall, this is a very entertaining read. I’m a sucker for westerns, even in a steampunk world. Throwing in aspects from the spirit world, Elizabeth certainly added an interesting twist, if at times too convenient, but none-the-less enjoyable. I look forward to reading its sequel and hope to have the opportunity to review it, as well.

Jordan Elizabeth is a steampunk princess well on her way to living out her fairytale dream of being a successful YA author in New York. Her other works include Escape from Witchwood Hollow, Cogling, and Book Two of the Treasure Chronicle series, Born of Treasure. I give Treasure Darkly three quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read, and she never charges for them. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.