Friday, July 13, 2012

{Book Tour} The Sundered by Ruthanne Reid--Guest Post, Review and {Give@way}

Hi, Michelle! I'm honored to be asked to join you here at the spookily lovely Castle Macabre. You asked me about how I fell into the science-fiction genre, and what authors I enjoy there. Well, that's a little bit complicated.

I have always loved the combination of technology and supernatural powers. When I played, I put light sabers into Middle Earth, tossed crossbows into Star Trek, and used magic spells against Ridley Scott's aliens. For the longest time, I was stuck with the old and odd books my parents had (it took a while for urban fantasy/magical realism to come to rural Pennsylvania), and so all I could do was mix things up a little. Beowulf dealt with vampires. Dr. Who visited Narnia. Shere Khan (I had a Jungle Book thing for a while. Don't judge me) fought alongside Dinobots without batting an eye.

When I had access to real bookstores (a momentous occasion), I devoured Madeleine L'Engle, Anne McCaffrey, and anything to do with Anne Rice's Lestat. I discovered Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett, H. P. Lovecraft and Poppy Z. Brite. I read Clive Barker and Stephen King, P. N. Elrod, and Terry Brooks. Spider Robinson and Fred Saberhagen? Why not? And when I found mainstream urban fantasy, I thought I'd died and gone to literary heaven. Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, and Jim Butcher all gave me hints of what I craved: magic in the ordinary, science and mystery and the real world colliding to create such wonderful, terrible things.

But I didn't try to write it.

Though I searched, devoured, read and re-read anything that combined the modern or post-modern world with magic (Lilith Saintcrow, Sarah Rees Brennan, Suzanne Collins, the list goes on forever), I had somehow gotten stuck in my head the idea that only epic fantasy – a la Tolkien or Robert Jordan – was what I was "supposed" to create. 

It just didn't work. The stories would fizzle, characters refuse to play my tune, and I had to learn the painful but necessary act of discarding entire manuscripts. David Eddings said, wisely, that a writer must churn out at least a million words (which are then tossed) before he/she is even ready to begin. I think I hit a million before I finished high school.

My asymmetrical reading continued. Charlaine Harris, Alexander Lloyd, Max Brooks, Dean Koontz, Orson Scott Card – I wasn't particular, as long as the writing was awesome. I was thoroughly enjoying a heady combination of Patrick Rothfuss and Jay Lake when my own personal light bulb clicked on.

I loved Star Wars because it seamlessly combined magic and science. There was no conflict between them. The world-building actually needed them both, and while the technology was all very cool, the Force added an element of wonder and mystery that kept the story from ever feeling cold or impersonal.

Are the powers the Sundered Ones use magic? Science? A combination of both? Harry, the human protagonist, doesn't know, and he doesn't even think to ask. The Sundered do weird things; that's the way his world works, and those dangerous, ignorant assumptions help lead to the story's climax.
So the simple answer: what inspired me to write in this genre? All the writers I love to read, and they're from all over. As long as the story is seamless, and the elements of the weird, wide world make a glorious whole, I'll read it. And I'll write it. And I'll love it all the way.

May the Force be with you.

My thoughts on The Sundered:
I wasn't sure what to expect when I decided to join the tour for this book.  Before I read the synopsis, I had visions of a horror strewn blood bath.  That was before I looked up the meaning of sundered.  (sunder--to separate; part; divide; sever)  As I began reading, the name made sense.  The Sundered Ones in the story are separate from the humans in physical appearance and in power.  And as the author stated in her guest post, Harry doesn't really know what their powers human really does.  And not knowing what you're truly dealing with is dangerous.

It would be difficult to go into too much detail about the story because that would give far too much away so I'm going to focus on what I did like.  I enjoyed the easy, laid back flow of the characters and their dialogue.  There was no stiffness that I have found in other SciFi books I've read.  Harry is a riot with his internal monologue.  I love when he calls the professor at the Academy a douche (in his head). That's not the only funny thing he says or thinks.  Harry is just a riot.  His interaction with the Sundered One he claims, Aakesh, is priceless.

Which brings me to the claiming of the Sundered Ones.  It seems the humans can "claim" them.  To me, it almost seems like slavery.  It was never more evident than when Harry is reciting a rhyme they learned to keep track of the tiers of Sundered Ones.  It goes like this:

Fifth-tier's strong and lifts big blocks, 
not too bright but strong as ox.
Fourth-tier's fine with clever fingers, 
painting, sculptures, make good singers.
Third-tier's quiet, good for play, 
safe for children every day.
Second-tier's wild, feral, free, 
eats everyone, but works for me.
Claim the rest with little work, 
but they die soon, so best not shirk.

Aakesh's reaction to this is to say to Harry, "You do not see how degrading it is?"  It's obvious that the Sundered Ones do have negative feelings about their place in society, if you can call it that.  There really isn't much society in this book because the world has become so surrounded by the black water.  Land is few and far between and the cites are brown and dirty.  The dystopian elements kept reminding me of that Kevin Costner movie that everyone hated, "Waterworld" (I actually liked it).  But it is excellent world building.  I could really see in my mind's eye what the author was describing.  The black water reminded me of that bog area in Lord of the Rings, I can't remember if it was in The Two Towers or The Return of the King.  You know the one with all the dead people in it and it tries to drag Frodo down into it.  Creepy.  

I am really impressed that this is Reid's first novel.  She really knows how to tell a story.  I recommend The Sundered to anyone who enjoys the speculative fiction genre.

About the book:
Harry Iskinder knows the rules.

Don’t touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there’s no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile.

With extinction on the horizon and a world lost to deadly flood, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artifact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet.

But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows. Powerful Sundered Ones willingly bow to him just to get near it. Ambitious enemies pursue him, sure that the Hope is a weapon. Friends turn their backs, afraid Harry will choose wrong.

And Harry has a choice to make. The time for sharing the Earth is done. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while, but the Sundered are wiped out.

He never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.

"Do not assume we are as your tiered system would have you believe," he murmurs. "We are broken, not stupid. You can fracture and heal. We cannot. We are the Sundered."

That freaks me out, the way he says that, and I don't even know what he's saying. Like a child, I press his buttons to make him stop. "So I guess we're just superior, huh?"

That look says I just sat on his last nerve.

I keep pushing. "We heal. You don't. Your words. I'm just being logical here."

"You heal because you are less," he hisses. "Your little breaks and scrapes are nothing more than bruises and paper cuts! You are not superior. You are less. You are unaided, individual, and only have the power to heal from that which is pathetic!"

We both go still.

Aakesh's gaze burns into mine, his hair stirring in a non-existent breeze. I don't know what he means, and I don't move. Not yet. We're balanced on a knife's edge, and whatever's below us is something very bad.

"He is nice," says Gorish suddenly. "Nice, not mean. He doesn't know, doesn't understand." He presses even harder against my belly.

We stare at him instead. The knife's-edge moment passes, and I'm so tired I'm only relieved.

About the author:Ruthanne Reid was raised in the woods, but fortunately, her isolation was offset by regular visits to New York City. She pursued music for years before realizing she wanted to tell stories rather than sing them.

Ruthanne writes in and around Seattle, owns dust-covered degrees in music and religion, and is generally considered dangerous around household electronics. Her favorite authors tend to be dramatic (J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss), but she doesn’t see this as a bad thing. She belongs to a husband, a housemate, and a cat, respectively.

The Sundered is her first novel.

Visit her on:

The author will be awarding a $5 Amazon GC to one random commenter at every stop and a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour.   Be sure to comment on all the stops for a better chance at winning! You can do so by checking out the tour schedule of stops HERE or by clicking the button below.  Good luck! 

Reading challenges.....


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

{Book Spotlight} The Grim by Raynetta J. Stocks

A gripping tale of both thrills and depth, The Grim follows Jaycee Baynes, single mother and convicted murderer, through her tumultuous stay at an in-patient psych ward. Unable to remember the horrendous events that incarcerated her, she is haunted daily by the presence of her bullet-riddled ex-lover, without whose help, she will undoubtedly never be freed. Having repressed all memory of what she’s done, Jaycee must find a way to manage her illness and confront her past–before it consumes her first.

About the author:
Raynetta Stocks was born in Washington D.C. in August 1981. She excelled early at reading and writing, passions that endured and thrived into adulthood. She honed her skills entering literary contests and writing plays and prose for various extracurricular groups in both high school and college.

Having written since childhood, Raynetta has composed hundreds of works in a multitude of genres to include children’s books, adolescent fiction, short stories, and social essays. Her first work,Barely Breathing, a collection of prose and letters written under the pseudonym Micah Michele and comprised with fellow author J. Mahogany, was published in June 2005. While the work was a tentative first effort, Raynetta continued to persevere as a writer, strengthening her skills by working with talented and knowledgeable mentors.

Now on the brink of the release of her second published work, and first solo effort, she is optimistic and excited about the future prospects in her career. The Grim, a gritty and empowering novel about a young woman’s struggle with PTSD, is the spring board by which Raynetta continues reaching for the stars.

She now resides in Maryland with her family.

You can visit Raynetta’s website at

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