Melinda Le Baron
I am a retired technochrat executroid from the SF bay area who transplanted out to the Texas countryside about eight years ago. Unlike the movies, it is lush and green out here on the Oak Prairie (about 30 miles SE of Austin) where I live with my incredible husband, 20 year old son, 3 cats and 1 beautiful gold and black coonhound ( same type as Jed Clampett had in the Beverley Hillbillies). I am a voracious reader who absolutely adores indie authors. I hope to someday soon be an indie author myself. Other than reading, I paint and draw in my art room, garden, play classical piano, am involved in my sons' racing of NASCAR. Trucks and I also cook and barbeque, especially when we have guests over to the house. It is a wonderful way to spend your time, especially when you retire very early like I did. Please don't hesitate to introduce yourself, I'd love to meet you and talk over anything book oriented - I literally have read thousands, so maybe we can find something interesting to talk about, or at least something in common.
This member has not published any books.
Melinda Le Baron's favorite authors on Smashwords
Smashwords book reviews by Melinda Le Baron
- Black Silk
on April 21, 2012
Nice little romance with a very sexy hero who happens to turn into a black panther. How cool is that! You could have you're own Kitty and eat him too (when he's human). Cole is the were panther in the story and he has manners, is honorable, protective, funny, he can cook, is great in bed and is absolutely gorgeous with greeneyes and black hair. He is also ripped with a narural six pack that just goes pop! When Cole and Vic meet it almost seems like love at first sight and this is that story. I really enjoyed it. Those who love paranormal romance will love it too.
- JUNK and other short stories
on April 24, 2012
This is an excellent collection of short stories. The subject matter is extensively varied and yet they all share the same insouciant tenor that makes them highly enjoyable. All share too a surprise ending that turns things on their heads.
Mr. James has done a marvelous job of keeping his writing spare while providing ample characterization, setting and so forth to make these stories come alive; each and every one. There is something here for everyone: whether you like spies, sci-fi, mysteries, off-the-wall, or just a well written short story.
I would recommend this book to all people who read English and appreciate good writing. That has to be a lot of people, and of course, you can't beat the price. It's worth far more, let me tell you. Just go ahead and download it - you won't be sorry!
- The Mating (The original Law of the Lycans story)
on April 25, 2012
This was an excellent paranormal romance. The story centered around a pack of werewolves. Whose Alpha was looking for a mate. The story starts out with our heroine, Elise who has been given away to the Alpha of the pack, Kane, for mating and marriage by her father who is Alpha of the pack on the eastern border of Kane's. It's a political match that both Kane and Elise want to make work, even though Elise thought she was in love with another werewolf named Bryan.
At her new home Elise tries to fit in and they make her feel welcome, but the pack is facing all kinds of problems and everything points to Kane's half brother Dyne. Elise also faces her own challenges with a pack member named Karla, who wants her man and seems to be stirring up trouble. The ending wraps up really nicely. No cliffhangers here, just a few threads left hanging for the next book. I would give it extra half star for that alone if I could.
The characterization was genuine and credible. No WTF moments - everyone stayed in character, and what characters they were. Kane and Elise are smoking hot together. After the bloodbond it just gets hotter. Their individual characters are three dimensional and richly fleshed out. Even the secondary characters in this novel came to life. Individual characteristics being clear and defined. There wasn't one character in this book that was flat - even the garage mechanic had depth and a style all his own.
The pacing on this novel was great - it never let up. From the start at the mating, the pages fly by and the next thing you know, the book is all done. It was truly amazing how you can get so lost in this story.
If you're looking for a hot romance mixed with mysterious action and adventure - you've just found it. If you're just looking for a hot romance - I'd say you just found that too. For those of you who only read human romance, give yourself a treat and read this paranormal one. You'll be happy you did. 4.5/5
- Edward - Interactive
on April 27, 2012
Mike Voyce is a brave man for writing this book - and what a book it is! This is like nothing I've read before. Harnessing the power of the Internet the book is peppered with links that directly apply to the matter at hand, video from the author giving further perspective and period music to set the tone. It is both the story of Mike Voyce and Edward de Stafford who should have been rightfully King of England. Mike starts by having a vision of Edward's death by beheading when he was a child. He is now much later an adult of settled years as another vision takes him. He figures out who these visions are about, and through meditation continues channeling the spirit of Edward starting with the rebellion and beheading of Edward's father, Henry. As Edward runs for his life as a boy of only 7, his life is passionately told by Mike through this book. The parallels to his own life he draws as well and are hard to miss.
This book is so compelling,not only because of the story of Edward, but the story of Mike as well. His experiences which he lays bare for all and sundry are so amazing for you see he's a lawyer, and doubts himself virtually every step of the way. Does he have a great destiny? My feeling is absolutely. - if only he'll take it. Look to mikevoyce.com for more information. This book is highly recommended for anyone with an open mind.
- The Keeping
on April 28, 2012
This is the sequel to The Mating and while I must say that it did have more dramatic tension than the first book, there was also something missing. The two protagonists didn't seem to do much for me as a couple or as individuals either. Ryne, seemed in the first book to be irresistible and yet in this one flip flops around like a fish out of water. There is little manfully displayed in his behavior just macho over protectiveness and lust at least until the ending. This made things tedious.
Why was Melody the girl for him when that could mean the death of his former packmates? Is anybody worth that? If it was really drummed into him since childhood that the Keeping meant everything how could he even start playing games with her? Why not kill her directly? It just isn't credible. And it was so easy to guess that she would somehow turn into a werewolf; how else could they be together?
Maybe it's just me, but Ryne and Melody just left me feeling uninspired. There are two more books in the series: The Finding and Bonded. I hope they are more like Kane and Elise. It made me upset that Ryne could break up their family and kill his half brother because he couldn't keep it in his pants. What a stupid thing to do. Well, I will keep my fingers crossed for the future reading.
- The Book of Deacon
on May 06, 2012
To say that this book was not what I expected from the reviews is an understatemant. Like most epic fantasy, this is a coming of age tale - but that's where it's turned on it's head. Myranda, our heroine is a pacifist who just wants the war to end. She feels the unfortunate loss of humanity on both sides of the war, and if she could figure out any way to speed both sides to peace negotiations, she would do it. But, she is only a girl and an outcast for not fighting on the side of the Northern Alliance. She moves from town to town hiding her true feelings which would brand her a traitor. After slipping up in a village she is given bad directions. These directions don't lead her the nearest town, but into a frozen wasteland. She has to find wood for a fire or she'll surely freeze to death, when she spies a flash of light through the blizzard in the distance. Having no other options, she heads for that light, and what she finds there determines her fate for the rest of the book and beyond.
At this point in the story we reaaly start rolling. Myranda experiences adventures that mystify her and that she is ill prepared for. She gains help from some unlikely places, a half man/half fox, the Undermine, a group fighting against the war, a white wizard who teaches her healing, a baby dragon who latches onto her and becomes her protector, a grey wizard, an Earth wizard, a water wizard, an air wizard, and fire wizard who happens to be another dragon.
Because of what happened in that frozen wasteland, the Elite of the North Alliance have orders to capture her alive. They have alreyady captured everybody that came in contact with her after she left the wasteland. So, what is so bloody important about what she found that the the North Alliance would go to so much trouble over one little girl and the half man/half fox (malthrope) that helped her? The plot twists and turns like a hedge maze as we follow our heroine in her journeys through the North trying to evade capture. And one other thing, all the people in the Northern Alliance don't seem to be quite human. If they're not human, what are they? What do they have to do with a human war? And what is their interest in Myranda? Are they evil?
All these and more will be answered in the final two books of the series - The Battle of Verrill and Convergence. While many questions weren't answered in the first book, the ending was still masterfully done. The characterizations in this book is impressive, going out of its way to present shades of grey to each character, more like real life than othrts - making them leap off the page than most authors. Constantly questioning herself about the right thing to do, Myranda grows throughout the book, the more she finds out about what has happened in the world, as well as being the Mother to a Dragon. By the end of the book she has a purpose that she would give her life for. The other characters such as Deacon and Lain change too through their interactions with Myranda. It is quite a big cast and some are from different races: elves, dwarves, mermaids, malthropes and dragons and yet each has a distinct personality that leaps off the page fully formed.
The pacing in the book is swift - grabbing you from the very beginning and not letting go until the final words. The transitions in the book from characters POV to another are silk smooth, there is no jarring, no stoppong, no confusion. The ending in the book is neither too slow nor too rushed. It answers the earliest questions, but leaves others handing quite open for book 2, which is already out. (So is book 3).
I would whole heartled recommend this book to people who like epic fantasty. I would also recommend it to those who like books on magic - because Lallo's take on magic is a combination of historical accuracy and imagination. I would also recommend this book to people who like to read historical war fantasy. While there are not a lot of battles in the first book, more are coming in the Battle of Verrill. I realy think you'll like this. And last but not least, I recommend this book to students of human nature. When you fight a war for decades there will always be dissenting opinions, disillusioned soldiers, burned out high command. At this point, you're just fighting to fight, not getting the best possible outcome for the people. This book is a thumping good read by any definition. Don't the whinging from other reviews put you off. (PICKY! PICKY! PICKY!) You can't beat the price and I promise your time won't be wasted. Just download it and give it a chance - it's free! I'm on to book two. I can't wait.
- The Great Convergence
on May 07, 2012
In The Great Convergence we start up directly where we left off in the first book, The Book of Deacon. We left Myranda following Lain out of the cave at Entwell hoping to convince him to stop the war because he had been shown to be one of the five Chosen. And the prophesy said that the five Chosen would end the war, but Lain wants nothing to do with it. Myranda has decided that it is her mission in life to get him to take on his responsibility even if it kills her. So she and Myn, her dragon, track him by means of one of his teeth that she knocked out in a fight. And now the the story starts really gets moving.
We have new important characters including the Northern Alliance Generals Bagu, and Epidime. We have the malthrope Ivy, the business partner Desmeres, the mystic Chosen Ether, and the continuing importance of the wizard Deacon. All these characters leap off the page in technicolor, fully realized, life. Not only that, but each character, not just the main one, goes through hard won personal development - growing and maturing into someone substantially different than the original character. Whether through hardship, love, loss, loneliness, or other factors, they all come out the other side changed by their ordeals, stronger people for the experience though some definitely have scars. This is characterization at its' finest.
The pace of the book is break-neck. It leaves little room for breath as you rip the pages by. You are completely engrossed in the story of Myranda, Lain, Ether and Ivy that there is no room for anything else. I read the book in a single afternoon. I didn't even stop for phone calls. The transitions are seamless as the story is fairly linear, hopping from our heroes to the Northern Alliance Generals and back with no confusion.
There is so much exciting in this story that comes about. There are dragoyles, magic battles, near men, poison breath, magic crystals, evil Generals, mutant beasts, mining scams, hide outs, much running and hiding, a lot of hunting, violin playing, mind raping, aerial battles, magical wound healing, magical swords, evil halbards, and possession. The ending comes at a time that is natural to break off the story, but it still surprised me, as I hadn't once looked up from the book since I started it. I was disappointed that it was over, but then I remembered that I already bought book three.
I would whole heatedly recommend this book to anyone who like epic fantasy, magic, historical warfare, or just a thumping good read. Also, all you students of human nature, this one's a gem. Don't miss this or the first one. I'm on to book three! Yahoo!
- The Battle of Verril
on May 09, 2012
What a way to end a series! So much better than Jordan. So much better than virtually everyone. By this time you are so bonded with the characters and their goals that you are straining right along with them to win each and every battle, to kill each and every villain, to attain each goal, to escape each prison, to meet each challenge and to learn each scrap of information that will help them fight the good fight.
Now that the Great Convergence has happened, we have our divinely picked five Chosen. There is Lain the malthrope assassin, who is a master of blades and killing. There is Ether the mystic one, shapeshifter and immortal born of the gods. There is Myranda, wizard master and healer. Myn, a dragon twisted by the D'karon after she died, but healed by Myranda. And last but not least Ivy, great with weapons, with a powerful aura,once a creature of General Dement , artistic prodigy. And then there is Deacon, while he is not Chosen, he should have been. He chooses love for Myranda and duty to the world over home and family to help stop the war and little does he know it, but it is far more than war that needs stopping. He is so helpful with his grey magic that they couldn't have done it without him.
The five Chosen work as a team - melding their skills, battling the five Generals and their nearmen, dragoyles and mutant beasts. At one point, four of the Chosen are betrayed by Lain's business partner Desmeres and locked away separately for torture. To find out what happens read the book, in fact, read all three in order, they are simply a treat for the mind.
Out of all the quest fantasy that I've read over the years this has to rank up in the top five - and believe me, I've read a lot. Not only was the plot original, but it had so many twists and turns you never saw coming - not once. I fell in love with the characters, especially Myranda, Deacon, Myn, Ivy, Caya, Solomon and Calypso. I was fascinated by Desmeres too until he turned traitor.
The characterization in the story is absolutely brilliant; it's like one of your friends relating a real story about real people in their life. The characters are not characters; they are like real people, people you could meet shopping, at the grocery, at the corner drugstore. Nothing is left out, no feeling, no mood, no failing, no idiosyncrasy - nothing. They are as possibly real as you could get in a fictional character, and that'saying a lot.
The pacing in the book is swifter than the others, or maybe it only feels that way because there is so much at stake. You, as always, are sucked in from page one, and like a strong current in river, moved quickly through events, closer and closer towards the Battle of Verril, but that is not the ending by far. Much awaits our heroes after the battle, and none of it is good, in fact it could be world shatteringly catastrophic. And now they have to deal with that after everything else. The transitions in the book were silky smooth - shifting from from one Chosen to another plus Deacon and back again. Because their personalities are so distinct, it makes it childs play to know who is speaking and who you are following. Of course, the main narrator of all three books is Deacon, and even though he wasn't there for many of the events that took place, other Chosen were, and he took down their stories in their own words which he made up into the three books with his magic quill and paper.
I would recommend this whole series to anyone who can read English and appreciate a thumping good read. It's got something in it for everybody, a study of human nature, good versus evil, war, divinely inspired beings, romance, magic, adventure, weird alien science, dragons, strong women, strong men, elves, battles, mutant beasts, highly developed edged weapons and alternate worlds. Just like Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, this deserves the same type of wide readership because of it's quality and genre busting value as one of the premiere thumping good reads that I've had the pleasure to come in contact with. BUY THE SERIES! Do it now! The first one is even free! How can you lose? This is the best deal you'll get in years. Mr. Lallo, I want to thank you for hours of unalloyed reading pleasure of such a degree that I can't remember the last time I read books that were this good. Sir, you are an artist. Good luck to you!
on May 16, 2012
What a beautiful, charming story this is. Part fairytale, part fantasy, exceptionally moving, it is the story of a girl raised by a dragon from the time that she's six years old. At first, a very reluctant dragon. What do dragons know about raising kids anyway? But she has no one else, because her family all died in a fire and there's no other family to speak of. So they are stuck together after the village tries to feed her to the dragon to appease it so that it will stop the draught killing the crops and livestock and soon the people. But the dragon doesn't kill her. The rest of the story is about the relationship of the girl and the dragon. How he raises her to be self sufficient and smart. She teaches the dragon about love and caring for someone else. Unfortunately there is one of the bad guys left over from the Books of Deacon, who continuously plots the deaths of Jade and Halfax - the girl and her dragon. He constantly has something going on to wipe them out, but the girl and the dragon are smart, resourceful and lucky. They kind of grow up together - each learned different things.
The ending to the story is bittersweet, while you know it should happen, it still brings a tear to the eye, but wait it's not over. The last part's the sweet part and that brings a few tears as well. All in all the story was charmingly perfect. I loved Jade and Halfax, her dragon, they were some of the best characters I've seen outside the book of Deacon - now I want a dragon too! I've got room for it in the pasture.
Just in Lallo's other books, his characterization is brilliant; leaping right of the page these folk are truly 3D technicolor marvels of excellence. Even the personality of Halfax the dragon was fully formed and wonderful. There's a scene in they book when he's found armoured men on horseback hunting him. So instead of using his stealth, he knows they expect a ravening beast, so he acts the part. He stomps. He bellows. He breathes fire. He knocks them down. They run away. It was hilarious! He laughs at them as they are scurrying off and says " Don't ever come back to this forest or I will eat you!", or something like that. How good is that? That a dragon gets to play with humans for a while without really hurting them. Only Lallo could think up something like that for a dragon personality. Jade was fabulous too. She learned all kinds of things and became very pragmatic and smart but she always loved Halfax like a father and he loved her right back. Just like Myranda and Myn in the Books of Deacon. Their relationship was special in so many ways.
The pacing of the story was swift which kept you turning the pages of this too short story until it was through. The transitions between character POV was smooth as silk. There were a number of characters that you hopped between, but they were so distinct, and the changes done so well that the story just flowed along without a hitch - just silky smooth. The dialogue in the story is masterful. You can absolutely tell which character it is by hearing them speak. Every character, even secondary and tertiary characters had pronounced ways of speaking. This added to the brilliant characterization already there and made each character that much more credible. I feel like I could be in a dark room and hear one of them speak, and know who it is.
All in all, I would recommend this book to everyone who can read. Read it for yourself, then read it to your children. It's about the love between parent and child. It's about the love between husband and wife. It's about love undying. It's also about the bad people out there who want to put good things to an end, and the things you need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones from them. These are things your kids should know. There are bad people out there. It's not all sunshine and roses, unfortunately. So read them this story, but first read it yourself. If you don't have kids, you should absolutely read it. It is a beautiful story. Buy it for yourself. Think of it as a gift to yourself. Buy the Books of Deacon too and read them first. Lallo has to be the most under-rated author on the market. My prediction is he'll be the next Tolkein in no time. Just you wait and see!
- Bypass Gemini
on May 18, 2012
Shooting out of the darkness, dodging plasma cannons, flying in full stealth mode, blasting with EMP pulses, dumping engine heat as a weapon, flying out of windows, wrestling with security forces, using invisibility devices, making friends with insane engineers, planning with AIs, all this and more happens in this amazing book. It is one exciting, seat-of-the-pants, rollercoaster ride through space and as Joseph Lallo turns his hand to Science Fiction.
Our hero Trevor " Lex " Alexander used to be a race car driver, but he fixed a race by losing, and got caught, and because he's an adrenalin junky and a really good race car driver / ship pilot - he starts a courier service. The object of the courier service is to get a single item from point A to point B without anyone knowing that it happened, especially the authorities or the competition. You can see how this might attract some less than legal types of client. Btw, he also has a side businesses as a Limo driver. You can get there sedately, quickly, or insanely quickly depedant on price.
There's only one slight little problem, Lex took on a courier job for a lady who handed him a briefcase and wanted delivered to a planet six days away- no problem right? Wrong! She turns up dead a few days later, on a shuttle with 26 other people, that VectorCorp killed just to get her. Now they're after Lex. Who is VectorCorp? The biggest company in the galaxy - they own all the trade routes through space (except the middle), and all the communication channels and equipment in the galaxy. If they owned an army, they could crush everybody. And now they want to crush Lex because of what's in that briefcase.
After this, hold on to your hats, it's time to blast off. Once VectorCorp comes after him, all bets are off. First there are plasma cannons, EMP pulses, dives through space junk, full hull integrity breaches, spectacular crashlandings, buses, snippy AIs, insane engineers, new ships, cop ambushes, auto hopping, planet flights, briefcase searchings, mob threatenings, crazy autopilot, fighting with lasers and black holes, old ship made new, brainstorming, planning with the AI, on to the Mother Planet, video dispersal, jumping out a 70 story window, playing with the cops, and home again. It all happens at about Mach 2, as you simply can't read fast enough to keep up with the action ( Evelyn Wood, where are you when I needed you?).
Mr. Joseph Lallo, you've done it again! First it was fantasy, now science fiction. I'm sure you could write anything you put your mind to. What's next? Horror? Paranormal? More Epic Fantasy, please? You are the most under rated writer on the market when you should have fame similar to Tolkein or Frank Herbert. Your writing is so exemplary, it just needs the right cross genre exposure to get you properly appreciated.
The characterization in the book is brilliant as always for Lallo. Even the AI, called Ma, (who I love), has distinctive modes of communicating with Lex and Karter, (the insane engineer), Ma even admits to pretending to be human when Lex admits that he talks to her like one. Karter is a great example of a personality in complete freefall. With no medication, he is borderline on some conditions, full blown on others, the combination makes him more than unstable, it makes him certifiably insane - he has the paper to prove it. Lallo does insane masterfully! The AI has learned how to manipulate him after 30 years. That's good too because he get's homicidally violent without Ma. Even Lallo's secondary characters get royal treatment. Agent Fisk from VectorCorp, is clearly a militaristic hunter, later, we find antique weapons in his office and notches in his desk for the people he has hunted down and killed. It was clear that he was extreme when he survived his DAR crash, and came inside the building, plasma gun in hand. His end was so ironic as to be hilarious! Death by cuteness! Who but Lallo could think that up?
As I've already said, the pace of the book was Mach 2 and beyond, the whole book is one solid piece of dramatic tension which doesn't let up until the last final pages after Lex gets home, and meets his new Landlord's Assistant and Michelle. There don't seem to be any transitions in the book, just one magic carpet ride at Mach 2 with Lex while hoping you both make it out the other side alive. This book is definitely first person POV Lex all the way through - and that's how it should be. The dialogue in the book was masterful as well. Mostly it's between Lex, Ma and Karter. Everyone else is just issuing warnings or threats. Because Ma is on Lex's side and is managing Karter, some of the conversations are pretty funny. Some even include props. You heard that one about the insane engineer, the racer and the AI all walk into a bar... Just joking...
The next book in the series is Unstoppable Prototypes and that's what I'm reading next. I would recommend this book to both sci-fi and fantasy lovers. I would also recommend it to gamers, engineers, and people who are into adventures and mysteries because there's a great one in this book, it just happens in the future. And of course, anyone looking for a thumping good read, look no further - it's right here in front of you! At this price, it's either half a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe or buying the book. I know what I'd do - I already did it!
- Death Ray Butterfly
on May 29, 2012
This short story story has everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. It's like Phillip Marlowe and Fox Maulder had a love child that played at Michael Moorcock's house in the multiverse while riding in H.G. Wells time machine. If that hasn't put a hurt on your brain yet, just stick around for more. The love child of Fox and Phillip is actually our protagonist named Inspector Mole. Getting close to retirement, he works all the weird and inexplicable cold case files for the government. When he's not on an active case, they have him recording his memoirs for posterity, because some of this stuff is too weird to believe.
We open our story by Mole reminiscing about a strange case where a toddler wanted to kill the President in the past, so he and his boss,the General,jump into a land yacht, but its a time machine programmed to intercept the toddler before the deed is done. The General puts Mole up at a beautiful hotel. The next morning he meets the General to plan strategy - it seems the General wants the toddler to succeed because in this reality after the Presidents were gone, the Generals took everything over, and they like it that way. If the President were to survive, who knows what would happen,or if elections would continue - the General can't risk it! So instead of stopping the toddler killer, they must make sure the toddler gets her man. Mole is confused - help a killer? But he's an Inspector! He solves murders, not helps commit them, but if he doesn't do this, he's the one who'll be killed - literally! When they get to the scene, the President is dead, the toddler is gone and they didn't have to anything. The General is happy as they climb back into their land yacht time machine for the trip home. And that's just an appetizer for the main attraction in this story which involves: dead Monarch butterflies, alternate universes, a dude who thinks he's clever, named Arab "Cricket" Jones, murder on a talkshow, some bad a$$ criminals, two "lighters" that send you to the next alternate universe, murder in a forest with that same person watching and screaming from behind a tree, soul possession, twin soul policemen, and a whole lot more.
This story brings up some really fascinating questions. If I kill someone in reality A and we both go to reality B where they're still alive, has there been a murder? What happens to you when you go from reality A to reality B? Are there two of you? Can you coexist? Is one of you dominant, the other submissive? And what about your souls - what happens to them? Can one get trapped inside the body of the dominant one? All these questions and more get answered by this intriguing story.
The characterization in the story follws two main characters: Inspector Mole, our protagonist and Arab "Cricket" Jones, our antagonist, they couldn't be more polar opposites if you stuck them on different ends of the globe. Mole is hard-boiled, tough,enjoys the small things in life, is kind to his associates, goal oriented, believes in justice, hunts down bad guys and put them away. Where Jones is arrogant, smarmy, thinks he's clever, thinks he's smarter than everyone else, loves to manipulate people, kills people, thinks he's a bad a$$. The author did an amazing job of making these two characters, through their actions and their dialogue - literally spring to life in this short story. Though the prose is sparse and the action quick, you feel that you know these two characters - even though you only like one.
The ending of the story is classic. You have to sit and think about it for a few minutes to get all the ramifications. In the end, it's very satisfying. One simple sentence was all it took to make worlds come tumbling down. That's how great short stories should end, with a bang disguised as a whimper.
I would recommend this story to anyone whose looked up into the starry sky and said "I wonder if...". I would also recommend this story to all fans of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as the X Files. Lets throw in fans of crime dramas too. This one's a genre buster, there's no doubt in my mind. You can find it on Smashwords, it's free. You'd be ridiculous not to go and get it. Read it on your computer, your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop if you don't have an an e-reader.
- Questing Beast
on May 29, 2012
This short story was like a mix of high future tech and old Literature. A strange combination that worked quite nicely. It is the story of scientists on an alien planet, doing their final report before colonization. Just as the final pages are being input into the computer, a millepede virus hits and wipes out everything except one peripheral that is fighting the attack. The peripheral's name is Nannybot and it keeps quoting L'Morte d'Arthur by Mallory about killing the Questing Beast. This is when the story kicks into gear. Unlike Don Quixote tilting at windmills, Nannybot wants a real Questing Beast to conquer. By conquering the Beast, Nannybot will get her mind back - and she has the whole report on her. The only group who never turned in a report previously, had been eaten.
1. They will have to create a Questing Beast through gene manipulation
2. They will have to send Nannybot after it and keep their fingers crossed.
3. They will have to hope that this crazy plan works, and Nannybot comes to her senses.
4. They will hopefully be employable sometime in their lifetime if this blows up.
The end of the story is priceless, so much like Mallory - a knight built of shining armor who rides a mechanical brown cow in the future,on a distant planet. What could be better. The juxtaposition of the old and the new was the perfect combination to make this story work. The only thing missing was the Holy Grail. The characterization went into the planet as a character, as well as Nannybot and the Questing Beast. All the humans were secondary or tertiary characters, which makes this story quite unique. You have a peripheral that thinks it's a knight out of literature, riding a mechanical brown cow, wanting to slay the Questing Beast. You have an entire planet, it's flora, it's fauna, it's topology, it's weather, and everything else about it. Then there's the Questing Beast - pulled from memory, she's beautiful and quite deadly, with aspects of multiple animals, and gorgeous rosettes on it's fur. It's supposed to be sterile, but... These three characters are what come to life in this story. There isn't a lot of dialogue except when they find the virus, and when they're deciding about the Questing Beast. What dialogue there is, is great quality. Each person's voice is unique and they handle stress differently. The pace of the story is quick, at page one you're hooked, and then it's over too soon - leaving you wanting more of that brave little Nannybot who thinks it's a knight.
I would recommend this story to anybody who has ever owned a computer, or used one at work. That's just about everybody! This story gives you a new perspective on technology - it's not all cool, or a pain in the a$$, if it could be like Nannybot and fight like the knights of old, that would be outrageous, then it would be cool. I'd buy a peripheral like that any day of the week, and twice on Sundays. Just go to Smashwords and get it for free. If you don't have an e-reader, you can use your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
- Slab City Blues: A Hymn to Gods Long Dead
on July 18, 2012
Anthony Ryan and these novellas are like if you put William Gibson and Neal Stephenson in a dark room with no light and gave them guns with hot loads but no scopes or IR, adding monsters with big fangs and gigantic claws and bulging muscles and told William and Neal - be out in alive in twenty minutes and then shut and locked the door. Imagine Neuromancer with teeth and claws, or Snow Crash with a serious edge, you'd have Anthony Ryan.
This last novella of the three, is at least twice as long as the other two. You can tell by the way the story was developed and how much more you got out of it that this didn't make Ryan sloppy, it just made him use his wonderful talents at a longer story. His style is still wordsmithed, terse and sbrupt - no extra words at all - completely clean.
THE PLOT: Inspector McLeod is on suspension for trying to throw a perp out an airlock in front of witnesses. His partner stopped him, or it would be Murder II. So, he bartends at the bar Madame Choi left him when he feels like it. In walks this gorgeous blonde vampire, who says the word "DeMarco", and "I need your help, contact info is on the back," then she walks off. Later he gets an anonymous message on his Smart (phone, tablet, assistant, everything else you want)that says "listen to the vampire". So he closes the bar down early, and looks at the back of the disc which reads, Dr. Janet Vaughn, Classical Studies, Faculty, Lorenzo University. Now what would a Classics Professor Vampire want with a suspended Demon? But McLeod remembered the DeMarco case. It was gruesome. A rich man, he was kidnapped off the Pipe (mass transit)in the middle of his bodyguards and no one saw him. Later, he turned up in pieces in a 50 gallon drum at his own facility after being put through one of his own machines. It was too gross. There were no suspects after all this time. So he went home and read Janet's notes. She believed this was not an isolated murder but a killing spree, all related to the old gods. This is when things get interesting. Does Janet's theory hold water? Does McLeod believe her? Can he make the Demons believe her too? Can he get his badge and gun back so he can solve the case? Are they missing something? Will more people be killed? Can a Vampire and a Demon find common ground to move ahead and do something meaningful together?
CHARACTERIZATION; The characters in this novella were either victims, families of victims, Demons or Dr. Janet or MEC personnel. Dr. Janet is something of an enigma, sharing nothing of her past, she is bright and cheery, clearly brilliant and can be deadly dangerous as parts of her morph into bits that turn into other things that save McLeod's life at one point in time, though she won't explain it. While the MEC personnel were supposed to be like clones, they were as different as night and day when it came right down to it, and exhibited personality features, quirks, foibles, and psychological traits that showed each one to be an individual. Even the dead victims came to life as their lives were examined by the Inspectors looking for anything that could help them. The perps were the same way as the dead. The Demons were investigating their lives looking for clues to their guilt or innocence, and by doing so, they became full fledged people, in detail. The one character we knew the least about was Dr. Janet, and McLeod's partners, girlfriend named Sam, who did therapy with kids.
PACING: The pacing in this book is just as breakneck as the others. This one grips your lapels and drags you through the pages, so don't kick or scream, you'll just damage yourself, go along with the ride. All 126 pages flew by like they were nothing. The story seemed like it was merely a few pages nothing more. There were no slow spots, no dead spots, not even any slowing down at all, just an e-ticket ride - right through the whole novella. You are riveted to the story, simply riveted, wondering what will happen to McLeod and Janet as well as who will be next and why.
THE ENDING: The ending of the story was a total surprise, I never saw it coming. I would never have guessed it in a month of Sundays. I felt like one of those people in the drawing room gaping at Sherlock as he expounds on how he solved the case, bit by bit. How he put two and two together and got four, when I couldn't even find two to begin with. It was a perfect ending to a pefect story. They went together like Lucy and Ethel, like Theresa of Avila and God, like single malt and ice. It was neither too fast nor too slow. It was perfect, and left room for more Slab City Blues novellas, which I'm assured by Ryan are coming. This is such good news, I could jump for joy, and since I live on a ranch, no one would hear me except the horses.
I would recommend this book to people who like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson with a bit more of an edge. I would also recommend it to people who like police procedurals, murder mysteries, science fiction, and thumping good reads. Anthony Ryan is the real thing. An author who can not only write, but bust genres with one hand tied behind his back. If you removed the spliced and the orbital, and put it in the modern day, it wouldn't have the edge, but it would be a murder mystery / police procedural of the typical sort. You'll be able to find this one at all the usual places. Go buy it right away before somebody finds out just how good Ryan is and gives him a great big contract, than instead of .99 this novella will be $3.99 or more. Good luck Mr. Ryan!
- Slab City Blues: A Song for Madame Choi
on July 18, 2012
Anthony Ryan really does write like he is a cross between Neal Stephenson and William Gibson wrapped together and then put in a dark closet with the lights off, with monsters on the inside. These Slab City Blues novellas, are utterly fantastic.
THE PLOT: This one is about a missing girl, who turned up on the Slab with some bodyguards. McLeod is messaged by an unidentified person on his Smart (a communications device - phone, tablet, assistant, and everything else you could want). The person who sent it was someone who he knew in the war, he is now the biggest criminal kingpin on the Slab, and Inspector McLeod knows it. The Kingpin, thinks of McLeod as a friend, but Mcleod wants to shoot him on sight. McLeod goes to see him, he shows him a picture of the girl on a Smart, and says she is lost, the bodyguards are dead, and McLeod needs to find her. He goes hunting in places where even he doesn't like. The plot twists and turns and in the end, we find that honor is still alive in the most depraved creatures under the right circumstances and that redemption is something that even the evil hope for. This is a tragedy with a moral. We find: lying bar owners, song singers, former rat fighters, drug dealers, massive shoot outs, set ups, heirs, suspensions, human drug factories, hospitalizations, surprise obfuscations, tragedy, a hope for redemption, and finally death.
SETTING: The Slab is no charming place, with a ten to one ratio of people that it was designed to hold, it rains sweat in the scummy areas. There are good areas too, but they have been taken over by Drug Lords and Criminal Kingpins, along with Military Veterans who took over part of the orbital and nobody complained. Mostly, it is a slum, with gene spliced humans that resemble anything imaginable, including tigers, vampires, weres, and other combinations of humans and creatures. In these areas the Slab is not only over crowded, it is dirty, drug riddled and dangerous. Average people won't go into these areas because they'll be killed almost instantly for their valuables and money, not to mention their body parts. There is a hot industry in body reconstruction, and the parts have to come from somewhere, unless they are synthetic, which a lot of them are. But glands, and hormones and such are hard to recreate, so they need fodder for the industry. Some people are just never seen again.
CHARACTERIZATION: Ryan's style is terse, almost abrupt, but in those few words, he can describe exactly what a person is, from the outer shell, to deep down inside. He is amazing that way. So few words, for such a huge pay back. His characters are all three dimensional, with obvious flaws, foibles and quirks. He makes them seem real. He makes them come alive. Even the secondary characters get this treatment. He is a master of understatement, and yet everything vital that needs to be said, gets said. There is all meat on those bones - no fat. I don't know how long it takes to write like that. Does he pare it down in editing? Does he write like that naturally? I have no idea. But the result is the same, a text that has no extra words - not a single one. You couldn't cut it down if you tried without cutting out essential storyline.
DIALOGUE: Inspector McLeod is a Demon (read cop) and so he talks like a cop. Blunt and to the point. his colleagues talk like that too, but with a bit of restraint. The criminals are more wordy, but they each have a style of their own, depending who they are, their background, what crimes they commit, and what they are trying to hide from him. Nobody is verbose in the book. Nobody is verbose on the Slab. It would not make sense if they were. Most are criminals, and they don't want to incriminate themselves. Even the rich people on the Slab (read Drug Lords and Criminal Kingpins), don't talk much, though their speech is much better educated then the average splice on the street, or the Demon on the beat. I think the dialogue was appropriate for the people of the Slab. It is terse, sometimes aggressive, sometimes profane. It is always in the person's best interest, never giving anything away.
THE ENDING: The ending was perfect for the novella, even though it was tragic. There was one scene I'll always remember. Madame Choi is singing a song from her homeland. She is singing beautifully. Everyone has stopped to listen. The girl is in her lap, looking at her with eyes of love, and trying to sing along. Madame Choi is looking back with love in her eyes as well, knowing she is about to make the ultimate sacrifice for this girl, but she just keeps singing beautifully, never letting anything stop her. It was such a poignant picture, as Madame Choi did some horrific things in the war and afterwards as a criminal and bar owner, that this one little scene of innocence and potential redemption was really quite touching. The ending was not only exiting, with it's hail of bullets, and it's bodies flying, but it showed that even the evilest of people could do the right thing under the right circumstances. I'd give Ryan an extra star for the ending, but I'm already topped out.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, police procedurals, science fiction, dark fiction, and tough guy novels. This is the best I've seen since Gibson and Stephenson, and I'll bet that once he gets noticed, Mr. Ryan will be on the gravy train too. Just you wait. I'm putting him on my list of authors to watch in 2012 on my blog http://www.mlbibliophile.blogspot.com. This man's a gem, and so are all his books, so go get them now on http://www.smashwords.com search anthony ryan. They are they only place that has all three novellas and his novel, which is excellent too. Go get them right now, while they are inexpensive (the first two are free). It won't last long, so do it right away!
- Call of the Herald
on March 31, 2013
Compelling drama with characters that you will love. A wonderful start to a great series. A nice mixture of history, worldbuilding, magic, and personal stories all wrapped together to tell one page-turning tale. Very imaginative!
- Dinétah Dragon
on March 31, 2013
I received a copy of this book from the author for an unbiased review. The book is an imaginative tale of a girl who grows up on a Indian reservation, and later goes into the military to find herself in a secret program where they are experimenting on soldiers. This program changes her life forever, and she winds up on a Black Ops team fighting supernatural beings along with others like her, until she is forced into the final battle for the world. The book is definitely Christian, though not too preachy most of the time.
The problem I had with the book, was the main character committed suicide multiple times (though unsuccessfully) at what seemed the drop of a hat, even though it was against her faith, and it seemed that in all other cases, she was portrayed as a strong character. It is later revealed that her Mother also had wrist slashing scars. This treatment of suicide was too trivial for me, which is one of the reasons for the three stars.