Kevin A. Lyons
A friend once told Kevin A. Lyons that he has a “writer’s biography.”
He was born in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, in New York City. His family moved to New Jersey while he was still an infant, and he grew up in the suburbs near Revolutionary War battlefields, the Great Swamp, and the Pine Barrens. He was never a very diligent student, but he did manage to graduate with a degree in Geology from Rutgers University.
While at Rutgers his summer job was as a security escort in the South Bronx. This was in the 1970’s, during the “Fort Apache” era -- in fact, the 41st Precinct was in his territory.
After graduation he worked on oil wells as a mud logger, mostly in remote locations. He spent one winter working on oil wells on the North Slope of Alaska, and the next winter on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In between, he worked on conventional wells in California, Texas and Louisiana. The last well he worked on was the test well in Georges Banks, off the coast of New England.
He returned to New Jersey and found a job with the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game, and Shellfisheries (as it was known at the time). He began work in the Bureau of Law Enforcement, doing office work and radio dispatching. He then transferred to the Bureau of Wildlife Management and worked outdoors maintaining Wildlife Management Areas. While with Wildlife Management he was called to assist with two forest fires. He spent his last few months there driving a pickup truck and retrieving roadkill deer from highways in four counties.
Next, Lyons bought a suit and moved to New England to work for the telephone company. When the Bell System broke up he went with AT&T, and moved back to New Jersey. He rose through regional and national technical support positions, and ultimately became a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs.
He left Bell Labs to become a stay-at-home dad. He also volunteered at a local therapeutic riding center for several years.
Kevin A. Lyons sold his first story, The Star Creature, to Unearth Magazine in 1979. His second sale, Billy Wolfe’s Riding Spirit, was reprinted in the anthology The Year’s Best Horror Stories, Series VIII (1980, DAW Books, edited by Karl Edward Wagner).
Green, Green, Blue
by Kevin A. Lyons
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Published: February 26, 2015
A young father, his six-year-old son, and the problem of communication -- complicated by autism. (This short story was first published in Something to Take on the Trip: A Charity Anthology (Something To Read Book 3), in 2014.)
The Poet and the Crock
by Kevin A. Lyons
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
A poet of questionable talent meets a leprechaun of dubious character in an out of the way field. Unpleasant truths are revealed. Difficult concessions are made. Profits and losses are balanced. And, hopefully, everyone smiles at the end.
by Kevin A. Lyons
Emmy was a happy four year old girl.But she was lonely, sometimes, growing up on an isolated farm. Most days there was no else around, except for mom and dad. And, sometimes, a hiker on the trail across the field. Fortunately, she had Jack, her dog, a huge black and tan Rottweiler. He was the best friend a little girl could ever have. Jack would never let anything happen to Emmy. No matter what.
The First Galactic Princess – A Bedtime Story
by Kevin A. Lyons
(3.50 from 4 reviews)
The first galactic princess is a little girl growing up in a wonderful place. She faces an ordinary problem with the help of a friend and the support of an understanding father. There are no spaceships, ancient prophecies or threatening aliens. There is, however, a hover car -- kids need to dream about hover cars!
Billy Wolfe's Riding Spirit
by Kevin A. Lyons
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Published: July 16, 2012
Under the full moon a motorcycle races west along the Interstate. The police can't catch it, and it disappears before it reaches the toll bridge. Narrated by the guy who drives the road-killed deer pick-up truck for Fish and Game. Originally published in 1979, in Easyriders magazine, and reprinted in The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series VIII, in 1980.
The Star Creature
by Kevin A. Lyons
(4.71 from 14 reviews)
A story of the first encounter between two intelligent species, with an assumption that "intelligence" is just one of many attributes that may be just as important.
Today this would be called Flash Fiction. In 1979 it was a "short-short" story. It was first published in the Winter, 1979, issue of Unearth Magazine (Volume 2, Number 4).
on July 11, 2012
This is a very good story that works on every level. The historic personalities stay in character in this "alternate history" story, the "historic" setting is accurate, and the conclusion is logical and believable.
It's easy to see why this story has been included in both mystery and science fiction anthologies.
Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
on July 11, 2012
I'll admit it -- I still have the hardcover of Who Censored Roger Rabbit. Money was tight for me back then and remember thinking long and hard before buying it. I never regretted it. In fact, I was disappointed by the movie.
The book is much more "noir" than the movie, but still basically good fun.
Very highly recommended.
Murder On The Mind
on July 16, 2012
I was a bit apprehensive about this book. I don't normally enjoy "mysteries" that involve someone with psychic abilities -- unrestricted psychic talent would mean the book should be over in a couple of pages, so the author usually has to construct elaborate "rules" and "limitations" for the psychic power. Too often they feel artificial and rigid.
This book is much better than that. The hero, a bit of a loser to begin with, acquires his psychic talent in a way that makes its power -- AND limitations -- very believable.
It helps (a lot) that the story is well constructed and beautifully written. The streets, neighborhoods, and characters all seem believable and this writer uses words well.
There are some minor formatting problems with the version I read (epub, I don't know if they're universal) but they weren't serious enough to frustrate me.
Dead In Red
on July 22, 2012
I bought this book largely on the strength of Murder on the Mind, the first book in the series. This is the second book in the series. I liked this book as well, but you really do have to read the first book first.
This book's plot is a bit more complex than the first book's -- and, of course, doesn't have to spend nearly as much time introducing the characters or providing background details. Also, Jeff, the main character, seems a lot more sure of himself and familiar with how his unique talent works.
My only complaint comes at the end, when Jeff finally knows with certainly who the murderer is -- it seemed to me that he was suddenly certain, but I missed the specific detail that clinched it for him. But, I suppose I might be to blame for that.
on July 23, 2012
I can say this is a very good story without worrying too much about defending my opinion -- it won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2001. The story is set in the very near future and has the appropriate home and office automation trappings, but the science behind this story's "science fiction" is sociology. The ending was consistent with the characters and situation, but still not quite what I was expecting.
Stars: The Anthology
on Aug. 05, 2012
First off, I'm a bit of a purist, but some of these stories are heavily weighted towards Fantasy, not Science Fiction. Not a problem for me -- I like well-written Fantasy -- but don't be surprised by Fantasy story lines in amongst the aliens.
Also, the table of contents doesn't work on either my reader (a Jetbook Lite) or Calibre (on my computer) -- it just shows the beginning, mid-point, and end of the book. This is an inconvenience in such a large anthology of short stories.
On the other hand, the stories are very good, very original, and pretty affordable in a collection of this size. The basic premise is that each story is inspired by one of Janis Ian's songs. All of the stories identify the song that inspired it, and most of the stories take that inspiration as a jumping-off point, turning into something completely new.
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
on Aug. 26, 2012
This is my first "urban fantasy/paranormal romance." It was interesting -- I'll probably be reading more.
The first third of this book had a "cozy mystery" feel to it. Jolie and Rand had a very "Stephanie Plum/Ranger" vibe going on. The second third was more weighted toward romance, and the final third was more "damsel in distress." The characters were three-dimensional and the story was very well told. Most importantly, the author can write -- I didn't find myself stumbling over awkward phrases or grammar mistakes.
At times, however, it seemed like the characters made illogical decisions that really only seemed to further the plot. Especially at the end of the book, which seemed a bit abrupt.
Anyway, highly recommended.
Worlds Enough...and Time
on Dec. 16, 2012
This single volume includes both "Worlds Enough ... and Time" and "Watching the Music Dance." I didn't make the connection right away, but these same two stories are available with "Watching the Music Dance" as the lead story. In reading the descriptions of the stories before making my purchase I didn't catch that. I passed up "Watching ..." since the description didn't appeal to me as much.
I like the idea of getting a story free story, but I'd be concerned that someone might inadvertently buy both packages and wind up with duplicates. Also, a person interested in "Watching ..." might not look here for a review.
Anyway, back to the review. I really liked "Worlds Enough ... and Time." It has a very Ray Bradbury-esque feel to it -- he even gets name-checked. The characters are all believable, especially the aging "counter-cultural" grandmother, and they all behave in logical ways. The writing is smooth and carries the story right along. Even the setting comes across realistically, and drives the events of the story. The four stars go to this story.
Just as I thought, I did not like "Watching the Music Dance" quite as much. This is not due to any problem with the story itself -- it's just that I'm a former stay-at-home dad, and I currently volunteer with an organization that works with the handicapped, so I'm especially sensitive to the subject of child abuse -- even very abstract, science fictional, child abuse. The story itself is very well written, and if you're interested in it you shouldn't let me slow you down
Ownership is Fatal
on Feb. 06, 2013
A very nice, very short story! There's some good imagery here, nice description, and good attention to detail.
My only (mild) complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt. I'd like to hear the narrator express what the ending *means* to her.
But this story is a very promising beginning. I look forward to more.
Deadly Gamble: A Girl and Her Dog Cozy Mystery
on March 23, 2013
A good, well written, light mystery. It's a fun and easy read -- and there are times when that's just what I need! Charlie -- short for Charlotte -- is a partner in a private investigator business with her brother. He's the P.I. and she's the accountant -- at least, that's the way it's supposed to be. But while her brother's away she gets caught up in a simple job that quickly becomes more complicated and sinister.
I'd like to know more about Charlie. For instance, I don't think her business, essentially a one-man P.I. business, really needs a full time accountant. Does she do any forensic accounting? But I guess (hope?) that's what the rest of the series is for.
Recommended for fans of light or "cozy" mysteries.
Still Life Without You
on March 27, 2013
I've read this story a couple of times, and I like it. It consists of a sequence of mysteries, each building on the previous one, and all related to an underlying family tragedy.
The Flint Lord
on April 26, 2013
This is the second volume in "The Pagans" trilogy, after The Stone Arrow. If possible, I'd recommend reading The Stone Arrow first -- the stories stand alone, but the first novel serves as a good introduction to the British neolithic civilization and the settlements in the area.
I'm not an authority on the subject, but the story rang true for me. It is a novel of casual violence, but the author doesn't dwell on the details. There are no real "heroes" in this story.
The first novel in the series, The Stone Arrow, is very much Tagart's story. Tagart is present in The Flint Lord, but his character seemed more superficial to me, and less complex.
I liked The Stone Arrow a little better, but I still recommend this book.
(I got The Stone Arrow at Barnes & Noble, so I can't review it here.)
9 Tales of Henghis Hapthorn
on Aug. 19, 2013
These stories are set in the very distant future. Earth has colonized thousands of worlds, but most of these stories are set on "Old Earth." The protagonist, Henghis Hapthorn, is described as a "freelance discriminator" -- basically, a private investigator. He will not knowingly provide services that could result in criminal activity, but he's a bit flexible on that detail. He's on reasonably good terms with the police -- called the Bureau of Scrutiny -- but not exactly friendly terms.
Hapthorn is assisted by his integrator -- an artificial intelligence that combines the functions of personal computer, cell phone, digital assistant, etc. Integrators are made to order and nearly all citizens have one, assembled to order with customized blends of intelligence, curiosity, etc. By definition, they don't change or evolve -- but the stories suggest that they can. Hapthorn also has a "colleague" who inhabits a universe of different dimensions, that he calls a "demon."
Finally, Hapthorn is living in the "penultimate age" of humanity. The universe is poised to shift from a rational universe of logic and science to a universe based on the principles of magic.
The writing is reminiscent of Jack Vance in both style and setting, but it seems very natural -- not forced.
Basically, I really enjoyed these stories.
Lesson One - a short story
on Dec. 07, 2013
This is a well written story with an imaginative and original premise. I don't think I've read anything quite like it before. It really seemed to me that it should have been included in a Fantasy genre -- I would have found it sooner.
Death by Chocolate
on Dec. 15, 2013
This is a wonderful "cozy" mystery. The setting is a library in a mid-sized city. I worked in a library, long ago, and the various departments (and personalities) all seemed very familiar to me. There were several believable misdirections in solving the murder. The conclusion, when I got there, was very believable. I enjoyed going along for the ride.
I'd welcome another story in this setting and with these characters.
Two Birds (A Short Mystery)
on Dec. 23, 2013
A very good, short murder mystery. The story is short and direct. The few characters are well developed. The ending is completely logical, and still a surprise.
The Weight of Gold
on Dec. 24, 2013
A good short story set in Alexandria under Roman rule. Heron, or Hero, was an actual historical figure -- a Greek mathematician and inventor. This story fits his reputation well.
The story is subtle, and not entirely satisfying if you're looking for the good to be rewarded and the evil to be punished -- but it is probably a better representation of reality in Roman society.
I enjoyed it.
Murder by the Old Maine Stream
on Feb. 18, 2014
This is an excellent "cozy" mystery. The characters are believable, and there's good chemistry between Nora and Nick. I found some of the situations a little "over the top" but that's not unusual (or necessarily bad) for this genre. The mystery plays out well and logically, without being obvious. And it does have some funny moments.
Recommended for fans of light, or cozy, mysteries.
The Mystery of the Dead Squirrels
on Feb. 20, 2014
A very good short story with an original premise. The characters and motivations are pretty logical and believable, with a couple of unexpected twists. A good read for a free afternoon.
The Eye of Mammut
on March 16, 2014
I really liked this story. I have some qualms about the culture that the author has depicted, but the story itself is consistent, and believable, within that culture. The mystery does move forward very quickly and without many misdirections -- I had it figured out from the start -- but that shouldn't be a surprise for a story as short as this.
Mercedes Drew the collection
on July 07, 2014
A collection of short, light mystery stories. Like most "cozy" mysteries, these have a "romance" aspect, but it's less feminine than the typical "cozy" mystery.
Mercedes Drew is the female protagonist -- the male protagonist, Desmond Flowers, plays at least an equal part. Drew is a motorcycle messenger, driving her father's hand-me-down 1969 Triumph Bonneville (a classic bike, although the Norton Commando was my favorite British motorcycle of the time). Flowers is a detective with the local police. They meet in the first story and hit it off -- even though each is not so sure about the other. They do tend to get on each others' nerves throughout the book.
There are 9 stories in this collection, and each story usually has two mysteries. The stories are imaginative and well told. The "mysteries" hang together well and are clearly resolved by the end (well, one left me not quite so sure, but that might have been me). The characters are believable and interesting.
The stories frequently mention vans. Some of the bad guys drive vans, some good guys drive vans, sometimes there are just vans around to provide local color. As far as I remember, every single van was white! I've since checked this out, and it turns out that "white vans" really are popular with tradesmen, small businesses, etc. Learn something new every day!
The stories do need some attention to formatting. One scene abruptly moves into another without a break -- putting a blank line in between two different scenes would make it easier to follow the action.
Still, the stories were very good. I read them straight through and I recommend them.
Eating It Too
on July 08, 2014
A conventional story, but very well told.
on July 08, 2014
A good "alternate history" story, with well developed characters, good motivation, and a believable outcome.
Smile for the Camera
on July 17, 2014
This novel is a follow up to the Mercedes Drew short story collections. There are some differences, besides it being a novel. The biggest difference is what I perceived to be a "darker" tone to the story, involving the fate of an abducted girl. But the main characters are familiar and consistent, and there are still some situations that had me smiling.
The novel stands alone, but I'd still suggest reading the short stories first. They provide a thorough introduction to the characters and work environments.
on July 28, 2014
I'm glad I found this book, even though I don't usually read "Contemporary Fantasy" ... and I rarely read "long" books.
The "Contemporary Fantasy" aspect was very well handled. The Fantasy world was well constructed with some familiar reference points, and the characters were believable and consistent.
As far as the length goes -- I usually read short stories up to novels of about 65,000 words. Books that go much longer than that require a commitment in time that I'm reluctant to give, especially to an author I'm not familiar with. But this worked out very well. The writing was smooth and the plot was interesting. The story could probably have been tightened up a little -- it does meander a bit, especially in the beginning -- but the author manages to keep it interesting.
The story is set in Australia. The forests settings were familiar and reminded me of the forests in my area, but references to Eucalyptus reinforces the location.
This is the first book in a series, so there are some open-ended plotlines, but the main story reaches a pretty satisfying conclusion -- the book doesn't end with a cliffhanger.
I recommend it!
Riders of the Three-Toed Horse
on Sep. 15, 2014
This is a good short story. I'd describe it as mostly science fiction with some fantasy elements. The setting in particular is very interesting and original. Generally I like my SF to be "pure" SF, but I'm interested in seeing where the author goes with this idea.
In terms of the writing, there are a few places where it could probably be tightened up, but it flows easily and fits what I imagined to be the narrator's style.
It's been a while, but maybe another story will come along -- I hope. I do like seeing Geologists in stories.
On a Red Station, Drifting
on Sep. 16, 2014
This is a very good, very complicated story of culture, family, status, and duty. I really liked it.
The setting is an interstellar empire modeled on, or descended from, ancient Vietnamese culture. Some of the nobles in the outlying regions are in rebellion, seizing planetary systems and executing anyone who opposes them. The young, inexperienced emperor is pulling his forces back, abandoning the outer worlds. Meanwhile, all citizens of rank are equipped with implants containing the personalities of ancestors who advise them. Other personalities include the artificial intelligence that runs the station but is suffering a crisis and may collapse, and a visiting specialist who hopes to assist in "healing" the AI.
A young female administrator flees her world just before it falls. She seeks shelter in a large space station, a permanent habitat, run by a distant cousin. Their ranks and conflicting positions in a time of war are a source of stress in a very rigidly defined society, a local crisis on the station, and the greater threat that faces the empire.
Classic White Sheet - A Halloween Story
on Oct. 26, 2014
This is a wonderful Halloween-themed ghost story.
It's a horror story, and there is an aspect of tragedy and gruesome violence, but it occurs "off screen" and not in the course of the narration, so that isn't its focus.
I like the story and the theme, but mostly I really like the conclusion. It's not about terror, revenge, retribution -- it could have been, but it wouldn't have been nearly as good a story to my mind. It ends on a note of "redemption," for want of a better word. (If I can think of that better word I'll come back and edit this review.)
I recommend it -- for Halloween, or almost any other time.
on Oct. 27, 2014
I gave up. It's a shame -- I liked the plot, I liked the characters, and I liked the setting. But I gave up after about one hundred pages.
Bottom line: This book desperately (desperately!) needs an editor. The word "new" appeared where the author clearly meant "knew," "as thought" instead of "as though," etc., etc. Extra quotation marks appear where they don't belong, and some are missing where they do belong, making it impossible to tell the narration from the dialog. Commas are missing from complicated scenes, etc., etc. Errors like these appear every few paragraphs.
With a little editing this could easily be a 4 or 5 star book, but it's just too much work for me to try to plow through this one when there are other books waiting for me.
I hope the book gets the attention it deserves -- I'd love to come back and read it. But for now, I've started something else.
on Nov. 19, 2014
This is the second book in the Narun trilogy, and you really do have to read the first book, Dryad, first. The first book introduces the main characters, defines the "Fantasy ecosystem," and sets up the storyline (well, storylines) for the second book.
The two storylines in this book involve a quest, or journey of discovery for some of the characters, while others are caught up in a government investigation into events that are especially suspicious since they partly involve the human world but are motivated from the hidden world of the Narun.
As the story unfolds it reveals that the plots are much larger, darker, and dangerous than anyone knew -- or could have predicted. By the end of the book we know much more about this fantasy ecosystem and its inhabitants, but the story doesn't really conclude -- it sets up the action for the third volume. This is another reason to read the first story first -- if you like it, you'll be happy to sign up for the rest of the journey.
Like the first book, this is a lot longer than most books I read. The characters are well-defined and their personalities are believable. The fantasy world is well thought out and consistent -- major points are always foreshadowed and there are no sudden, unexpected miracles. The landscape, especially for the quest, is interesting.
And, like the first book, I think the writing could have been "tightened up" a bit, especially in the first half. But it's a good story, well told. I enjoyed reading it, and I recommend the series -- at least, the two books that I've read so far.
Just make sure you read the first book, Dryad, first!
on Nov. 24, 2014
This is the concluding volume in the Narun trilogy. It's the longest in the series, but I didn't feel that it needed to be "tightened up."
This books sets up the final conflict among the various peoples of the Narun. The book does a great job of filling in the last details of the races and setting up the conflict. When war comes the action is handled deftly and without confusion -- showing, in some cases, the "fog of war" without becoming foggy itself. The war itself has aspects that range from the Battle of the Bulge to the Trojan War.
Since the war is for the world, and humans are part of that world, humans are involved -- even though they cannot see or hear the Narun. This was my only (mild) concern. It seemed to me that the way that the humans were involved was a bit too easy. Not quite a caricature, but a bit two dimensional -- especially given the richly detailed development of the Narun.
Anyway, I enjoyed this trilogy very much and recommend it. But the volumes really must be read in order.
on Dec. 18, 2014
An interesting story that seems to set the scene for the series. In a time and setting where it has become cheaper to abandon an orbital station and build a new one there are vacant stations available to be claimed by potential "homesteaders." This is the story of one such station being claimed by a small group of friends.
The story is a quick, fun read. I'm glad I found it.
Naughty and Nice
on Dec. 29, 2014
I'm not a big fan of Zombie Apocalypse stories, but Dan Chambeaux (now known as Dan Shamble to his friends) is different. Something happened in New Orleans, and now ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other "unnaturals" walk the streets. Dan is a private investigator, and a zombie. This brings advantages and disadvantages.
Like the others I've read, this Dan Shamble story is well written, well formatted, and just plain fun.
Road Kill: Dan Shamble Zombie PI Mini 2
on Dec. 30, 2014
Another fun read in the "Dan Shambles, Zombie PI" series. This probably shouldn't be your first introduction to the series, since you'll probably want some background on "who's who" and what's happening. If you like the other stories in the series, you'll like this one.
Be aware that about half of this ebook consists of promos for other stories by this author and the publisher. Not, that that is a bad thing -- just don't be surprised.
His Robot Girlfriend
on Jan. 02, 2015
The idea of realistic -- even beautiful -- humanoid robots opens up some big questions. The biggest question, of course, is how long would it take for the human race to go extinct as men (and women) turn to robots instead of each other.
But this story doesn't really address the big problems, and that's fine with me. It does have some very adult scenes, but that's not the main theme. It also has some funny scenes, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. It's a quick, light read, and it's a very good one, at that.
I enjoyed it and I'd be happy to recommend it to someone looking for a light-hearted adult "fairy tale" for the technological age.
His Robot Girlfriend: Charity
on Jan. 18, 2015
Fourth in the "Robot Girlfriend/Wife" books. The first three books feature the same core characters and form a sequence -- this book shares the robot underpinnings but no characters from the first three books appear. You could read this book as a stand-alone, but the other three will give you a better understanding of the development of the robots and the history of the Daffodil company.
There is a mystery in the background: It's well-handled and I didn't see the resolution coming. The main storyline evolves into a "bigger idea" than the previous books. Like the others, this definitely includes some Adult themes and scenes.
I recommend it!
on March 07, 2015
A nice short story with an interesting plot and realistic characters and good imagery. The protagonist finds it difficult to settle down for more than about a year at a time, and her latest urge to wander brings her back to her old home. The story held my interest throughout and the ending was satisfying.
Cats and Crime, A Panzer And The P.I. Mystery Collection
on March 07, 2015
As "cat-assisted detective" stories, these are good, light mysteries and quick reads. The two stories that feature Matt Stockley are a bit more serious, but also light, quick reads.
A good collection to have if you have some time to kill.
The Watchmaker (A Novelette)
on March 08, 2015
I love time travel stories -- especially stories that try to cheat fate or flirt with paradox problems. This storyline is very original, the characters are believable and well-developed, and the "rules" for time travel are clear and logical.
There is a romance aspect that was well handled and plays a critical part in the storyline.
I believe the city of Lowell qualifies as a character in this story. If you don't know Lowell don't worry -- it's well described. If you do know Lowell, that's a bonus.
And, finally, this ebook is beautifully formatted!
I recommend it!
Under the Hill
on March 09, 2015
A very good ghost story. It all seems so normal at first and then, subtly, things change. There's a bit of eeriness but definitely no horror. As is common in this genre, many of the characters seem to be pretty casual about accepting the existence of a ghost.
Under the Hill is very well written and I'm glad I found it. Be aware, though, that this story amounts to about half of the ebook -- the other half consists of a preview for another book by the author. Nothing wrong with that, but keep it in mind when you plan your time.
on March 09, 2015
A fun romance involving a unique twist on leprechaun lore. The characters are believable and sympathetic, and the writing is well done. I enjoyed it.
on March 14, 2015
Martia Rosenthal had a nice job with a good future at her father's company -- until her co-worker and boyfriend dumped her, stole a batch of corporate secrets, and left for Europe. Now, she just wants to start over, on her own, far away, and maybe "help people." She decides to go to a frontier settlement in the "Quasiverse." Her father is devastated, but still manages to get her what seems to be a safe job in the local government -- a "quiet post."
This is not "Nuts & Bolts" Science Fiction. The laws of physics and logic don't apply in the Quasiverse. It's more like a mix of the wild west, Oz, and Alice's Wonderland.
The characters are (mostly) likeable and the adventures are fun. Most of the loose ends are tied up (pretty cleverly) by the end. Some parts of the story are a bit risqué, but never seriously.
I enjoyed this book.
Short Story Strands: Halloween 2012 Edition
on March 24, 2015
A large collection of very, very short stories -- I'd call them "flash fiction" -- that is a real mixed bag. Some of these are very good, and some are not. Many have a sense of humor, but some are pretty bleak. Some are ghost stories and some are science fiction.
This is a good collection to take with you when you're going to spend time in a waiting room. And if one story leaves you flat, move on to the next.
Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom (Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Series #1)
on March 25, 2015
I really enjoyed this book!
The story revolves around a woman in her 30s who is a retired Demon Hunter. She seems to have been an active "Hunter" in her teens and early 20s -- which immediately reminded me of television's Buffy. Now she has a teen-aged daughter from a previous marriage (that husband, who was also a Hunter, is deceased) and a toddler with her current husband. She's a busy, stay-at-home mom.
The Catholic Church is part of the story, but I didn't feel it as a "religious" presence. It was more like the way the church appeared in the movie Hellboy.
The story is very well written, the likeable characters are likeable and the despicable characters are despicable. The plot is solid. I figured out some aspects of the story early on, and I fell for some of the red herrings.
I've already started the next story in the series.
Seagull Summer: A Novella
on May 16, 2015
First, this story is set in the beach resort community of Cape May, NJ. If you're familiar with the area you'll have some fun recognizing the area, but you don't have to know the town to enjoy the story. For instance, you'd probably be able to figure out that Beach Avenue runs right along the beach.
There are some broad similarities to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds -- and the Daphne du Maurier story that the movie was very loosely based on -- but this story goes off in a different direction. There are clues that the birds might be part of something more sinister than nature gone bad. By the end there are real questions about government conspiracies that might, or might not, have gone wrong.
I enjoyed the story. If you have the right sort of sense of humor, it might even make a good "beach read!"
Polly!: a comic novel of hope and blasphemy
on May 19, 2015
This book is irreverent. Some people would certainly find it offensive, but I enjoyed it.
The first half of the book reminded me very much of an updated screwball comedy from 1930s Hollywood. By the end the focus had shifted and it came across almost as an alternate philosophy, which slowed it down a bit (in my humble opinion, at least). But it was still a lot of fun.
The Complete Richard Dick Mysteries
on May 31, 2015
Richard (please, call him "Dick") Dick is a private detective (yes, a "private dick") who deals with a unique customer base -- ghosts, vampires, that sort of clientele. The stories are clever, with one bordering on inspirational. The wordplay caused me to groan audibly more than once. They were a lot of fun.
Stage Door: A Cue to a Kill (A Theatrical Cozy Mystery Short Read)
on June 01, 2015
This is a very nice "cozy" mystery novelette. The action takes place in a small community theater, and the author is obviously knowledgeable and comfortable with the setting. The characters are well-drawn and the "mystery" is logical and skillfully handled. In keeping with the "cozy" aspect, there are perils and threats but not too much blood and no gore. The writing flows nicely. This would be a good read for a rainy afternoon -- as it was for me.
Be aware, though, that this is apparently the third story in a series. That fact is revealed in an afterword. At the time I bought it it was the author's only story on Smashwords. There are a couple of references in the story to earlier events and the development of a personal relationship, but they are well integrated into the story and didn't pose a problem (for me, at least). But, now I have to go looking for those other stories.
Hanged to Death: A Museum Mystery
on June 06, 2015
A nice, short read. No big surprises, but I liked the setting and characters.
There are a few editing and formatting issues that could be addressed.
Tweet the Police
on June 07, 2015
This ebook has been in my "To Be Read" list for some time, along with another title by Ellis Drake. Of the two, I liked this one better. It's good, uncomplicated story with well-drawn characters in an interesting setting. The writing is smooth, and I didn't notice any editing or formatting problems.
The ending did seem to be a bit abrupt, but I enjoyed the story.
We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert
on June 23, 2015
A conventional story, but well told, with believable characters in recognizable settings. A good, quick read with a dark but very funny undercurrent. I enjoyed it.
Death in the Time of Ice (A People of the Wind Mystery)
on June 23, 2015
A good mystery in an unusual setting with unique characters.
A small tribe of Neandertals is barely surviving in a harsh environment. The large game animals they depend on for food are growing scarce and the ice sheets of their old legends seem to be returning. At the worst possible time their wise leader dies -- apparently murdered.
The murder story played out well, with plenty of suspects and motives. The environment is very well drawn and well researched. The conclusion, when it was reached, seemed logical but a bit abrupt. I give four stars for the story.
I will admit that I had some trouble with some of the underlying assumptions of the story. The geographic setting, cultural development, and even personal capabilities of the Neandertal tribes in this story are all pretty far leaps from what modern science can support. If you can accept this environment, you'll enjoy the story.
Morning Tea Near Mitchelton
on June 29, 2015
A nice collection of eight very short stories or very long vignettes. They rely heavy on imagination, and maybe not so much on realism. Coincidence plays a very large role in most of these stories, but they're well written and I was happy to go along for the ride.
These are recommended for coffee (or tea?) breaks, but I'd also suggest carrying them along the next time you're going to be in a waiting room, killing time until you can see the doctor, dentist, mechanic, etc.
The Opposite of Memory: A Collection of Short Fiction
on July 09, 2015
This is a nice collection of short science fiction stories. Several center around memory manipulation; others are based in a hellish, hyper-commercial near future; and a few take place in a more "conventional" SF environment of robots and aliens. They were all very original, and they were all very good.
Welcome to Wespirtech: A Collection of Short Fiction
on July 11, 2015
Wespirtech stands for the "Western Spiral Arm Planetary Institute of Technology," which seems to be a research institution that is involved in everything from pure science to commercial, product-oriented research. It reminded me a lot of the old Bell Labs. Most of these stories don't actually take place at Wespirtech -- one really doesn't even center on humans -- but it's there, in the background.
These stories were well written and very imaginative. I'm looking forward to reading the next collection.
Beyond Wespirtech: A Collection of Short Fiction
on July 22, 2015
Another collection of very original, imaginative short stories. There are some themes and ideas in these stories that I've never encountered before. They're also written by someone who writes very well!
(I do question the science behind rekindling a sun, but I still enjoyed the story!)
Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend
on Aug. 12, 2015
More a vignette than an actual story, but a good short read nonetheless.
The boyfriend, Joshua, is a bit of a loner. He's an underachiever who works at a fast food joint -- and not a top of the line one at that. Not much of a spoiler, but he's a bit of an alien, himself.
I enjoyed it.
Marley Was Dead: A Christmas Carol Mystery
on Aug. 18, 2015
A very original story, well told. The mystery was very creative and, honestly, a lot of fun. I'm not an expert on "Dickensian" London, but it all rang true to me. I read this in a summer heat wave, but I'll probably re-read it as the holidays approach.
The only drawback is that it could really use a pass through the hands of a good editor. There are some little errors that are just enough to pull the reader (me, anyway) out of the story -- an occasional mismatched quotation mark, a character whose name gets spelled two different ways at different times in the book, that sort of thing.
Still, I enjoyed it!
on Aug. 26, 2015
A cute little story. The plot is familiar, but with an original spin.
But it could use some polishing. This really reads more like a draft than a finished story.
Stories From The Pumpkin Woods
on Aug. 27, 2015
These are two related stories in a setting that seems to combine elements of colonial New England, the Wild West, and the Brothers Grimm. The characters are well developed and the stories are very original.
Battle of Wits
on Sep. 02, 2015
An excellent short story told from both points of view. The plot flows logically as each person, detective and suspect, pursues their strategy and tactics through the interview. While the story does touch, very gently, on adult themes, it's not at all graphic -- I worry that potential readers might miss this story due to the "Adult" designation. Better to be cautious, I guess, but don't let the tag scare you off.
on Sep. 04, 2015
A very good, well thought out, and effective ghost story. Two stories of loss are intertwined and, eventually, resolved in a logical manner. The characters are believable and sympathetic. The setting adds to the story. A good read for a rainy afternoon.
on Oct. 06, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. The storyline was original, the characters were well-developed, and the ending was both logical and still a surprise.
Some of the plot elements nearly go over the top, but that's not unusual in a "cozy mystery."
This is a good, quick read. It's not the kind of literature that will change the world, but it was a welcome diversion from reality for me.
I enjoyed it!
on Oct. 06, 2015
Two short "stories" (really, more vignettes) involving characters from the Sedona O'Hala series of cozy mysteries. They are both very quick reads. They aren't prequels -- they don't really introduce the characters -- so I'd recommend them for "completists" who are already familiar with the stories.
Merit Badge Murder
on Nov. 05, 2015
This is a fun, well written "Cozy" mystery. The characters were well realized and the setting was believable. I do have some issues with the way the CIA gets involved, but it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story.
Many of the situations seemed "over the top" but that's not unusual (or necessarily unwelcome) in a cozy mystery. If you're looking for a fact-based CIA thriller, this may not be the book you're looking for. But it did make for a good read for a few afternoons.
The Celtic Riddle
on Nov. 09, 2015
A very traditional mystery, set in Ireland.
An old man dies. He leaves a reasonable inheritance to a few old friends and his estranged family, and also some clues to a treasure. The first clues lead to more clues, and these clues must still be deciphered. And along the way some of the heirs (and treasure hunters) meet untimely demises.
Very well written!
The Xibalba Murders
on Nov. 21, 2015
A good mystery in an exotic location. The characters were well developed, the location was accurately portrayed (as far as I could tell) and the action was logical and well plotted. There were several likely suspects and a couple of unlikely ones. I did have my eye on the culprit early on, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the action as it played out.
The Summer Dress
on Dec. 21, 2015
A very good, very short story. The setting and main character are familiar and comfortable. The ending is a very effective surprise. I enjoyed it and recommend it!
on Dec. 21, 2015
A very good short story. And, I suspect, a very realistic one. The crime at the center of the story is at the low end of the legal food chain, and doesn't matter much to anyone involved except for the rookie prosecutor who has been assigned to it. There is, however, a bit of symbolic vindication at the end.
The pace of the story is slow and deliberate, and the overall feel is "procedural" rather than "thriller."
The Tolham Castle Mysteries
on Jan. 11, 2016
A nice collection of four short stories in an interesting setting with likeable main characters. The stories are mysteries in the sense that there are puzzles to solve, but there are no violent confrontations or serious threats. There is a cryptic will, locked doors with missing keys, hidden rooms, and old inscriptions.
The writing is fresh and the stories are told with enthusiasm. The fun is reading along as the puzzles unfold. I enjoyed them.
on Feb. 07, 2016
A nice collection of short -- sometimes very short -- stories. They touch on some universal concepts, and motivations. There's a bit of steampunk, some fantasy, and some glimpses of everyday, modern life. This is a good collection to have handy for spare moments!
Waiter, There's a Clue in My Soup! Five Short Mysteries
on Feb. 12, 2016
A good collection of short mysteries with unusual settings (such as the Wild West) and approaches ("how dunnit" and "why dunnit" as opposed to just "who dunnit").
They also neatly fit my need for short pieces to read while sitting in waiting rooms for doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc.
on Feb. 15, 2016
A good story in two distinct parts. The first part is the set-up and the second part is the punchline -- this isn't a funny story, but I think the analogy fits. My only regret is that I think more ground could have been covered in the first part of the story, reducing the amount that needed to be covered in the second.
Nevertheless, I liked it!
Repairing the Sky, Tales of Myth and Magic from Old China
on Feb. 25, 2016
I enjoy reading myths and legends of various cultures. I'm most familiar with Greek, Roman, and Irish myths and legends, so this was an obvious buy for me.
I haven't read the originals -- obviously! -- but I liked these stories. They read like myths, not like stories: for instance, there isn't a lot of dialog.
The only drawback is that there are several typographical errors -- mostly dropped or missing words. The meanings were still clear, but you should be aware.
Year of the Mountain Lion
on March 23, 2016
An intelligent, competent young woman was exiled into a harsh wilderness because her people thought she was cursed and brought them bad luck. They expected her to die but she didn't, and their luck hasn't improved, so now they want to find her and bring her back. She doesn't trust them, and doesn't intend to be "brought back" by anyone.
The characters are believable and well-realized. The environment struck me as a harsh, somewhat nightmarish version of the American Southwest.
I liked this story. I think it would also appeal to a "Young Adult" audience.
on March 26, 2016
I had Tracking Magic with me in my ereader on what turned out to be a busy day that consisted mostly of "hurry up and wait" chores. It turned out to be a good choice!
It's a short collection of stories about a (human) PI who operates in a world of magic and supernatural beings. Apparently, after the world returned to the gold standard for monetary systems magic was able to return.
The stories are well-written and while magic figures into the mysteries, the solutions rely on real-world logic and insight. There was some humor, but also poignancy and loss -- not unexpected in stories about mysteries and ghosts. By now it has been a long while, but I really wouldn't mind reading another Max Killian story.
I really liked these stories and would recommend them without hesitation to anyone!
on March 31, 2016
This is a very, very short story or vignette. It features an imaginative use of time travel and an intriguing time paradox. I liked it -- and it won't take much time for you to see if you do.
Tea and an Art Thief
on April 27, 2016
This is more of a vignette than a full story, and it is more focused on the characters than plot or action. The setting appears to be the late 19th century, which does lend it a bit of a steampunk ambience, but there really isn't any tech to the story.
It's a good, enjoyable, quick read.
Barnaby's Shorts (Volume One)
on May 02, 2016
I'm going to give this book 5 stars. There were a couple of stories that might have gotten "only" 4 stars on their own, but they're outnumbered. All of these stories involve odd situations, unique characters, and an ending that takes a bit of a twist. And sometimes that twist runs right out through left field and into the Twilight Zone. A great way to pass some time!
on June 23, 2016
I really like seeing work from new writers! A little rough in spots, but these are some interesting and original stories. In some cases the connections to Neil Gaiman's stories were obvious, in others subtle. I was also interested in the author's notes that followed each story.
The collection is a bit uneven but all of the stories had their strengths. I enjoyed them all, but my favorites were probably Penny for your Thoughts, The Moments that Haunt Us, and American Turtles.
I hope to see more from these authors!
Six Impossible Things
on June 26, 2016
I loved every story in this collection! The characters are well written and the plots are perfectly "logical" even within a fantasy framework.
The Avid Angler - The Hot Dog Detective (A Denver Detective Cozy Mystery)
on July 03, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters are believable, and the storyline is interesting. The setting is well described and familiar. The resolution to the mystery is believable.
I'll be reading more books in this series!
Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish (A Free Short Story)
on Sep. 05, 2016
This short story seems to be mostly a vehicle to introduce Inspector Zhang, but it's well written and the characters are well developed. It's set in Singapore, which is a strictly regulated society, but Inspector Zhang appears to be willing to go "off script" while making his investigation -- much to the chagrin of his assistant.
I enjoyed it.
on Sep. 28, 2016
There really isn't any mystery for the reader to solve, so I'd say this falls into the "crime thriller" sub-genre -- and it's very effective at that. It's well-written, the character of the Chief of Police is well realized, and the story holds together well right up to a believable ending.
Bear in mind that this is a short story. Even shorter than the word count indicates since it includes a short preview to The Tuxedoed Man.
The Tommy Two Shoes Mysteries: From Mountains to More
on Oct. 17, 2016
A collection of very good short mysteries with an offbeat twist. Some of the stories are very light and others more serious. The style usually comes across as Joe Friday style "just the facts" -- even with the frequent visits from a modestly helpful ghost.
The Tuxedoed Man
on Oct. 20, 2016
I liked just about everything in this book. In addition to its classification as a "Mystery" I would also categorize it as a "Police Procedural." It's set in a town in Manitoba, Canada, on the prairie. The characters are fully realized, the plot is logical, and the storyline really drew me in.
As a bonus, the ebook is well formatted and well edited. I'm looking forward to reading more!
The World and Thorinn
on Oct. 24, 2016
The World and Thorinn was assembled from a few stories that appeared in Galaxy magazine in 1968 -- in fact, I read the first one there. A mix of far-future science fiction and a little fantasy it's a fun ride through multiple worlds -- or multiple aspects of the same world.
The writing is well done, as you would expect from Damon Knight. The concept has been used in science fiction before, but this story is a pretty original take on it. The ending is logical, but not what I expected.
So, I read the first part of the story in Galaxy, the full story when it came out in paperback, and now the ebook -- which I expect to keep and read again, some time.
The Rozar Park Mystery
on Nov. 13, 2016
This is a very good story with an unusual setting and several strong characters. It's told in the first person by a US Marshall in central Georgia. The Marshall has a friend whose background is a bit unclear -- he is obviously very familiar with investigations and probably has a background in law enforcement, but the nature of his background isn't fully explained.
There is a minor problem with punctuation involving the use of quotation marks, but I didn't take a star off.
I plan to read more in this series.
Justice Is Served: an Edward Red Mage short mystery
on Dec. 29, 2016
A good, quick read. The "mystery" isn't too deep, but there are some misdirections and complications to keep the story interesting.
News from Dead Mule Swamp
on Feb. 18, 2017
I really enjoyed this "cozy mystery." It's well-written, the characters are believable, the action is logical, and the setting is interesting. The chain of events leads to a logical, but not obvious, conclusion.
The Pluck of O'Reilly
on Feb. 20, 2017
A fun story -- well written, very logical, and very funny! Well worth a spot in anyone's library.
That Damn Moon
on April 15, 2017
A quick story with a twist ending that I did not see coming. I like that!
The Thief's Tale (1.6)
on April 15, 2017
A greedy con artist thinks of almost all the angles in a town with no shortage of "worthy victims." And then something else arises and seeks its own victims. There weren't any real surprises here, but the story moves logically and relentlessly to its conclusion.
The Same Mistake Twice: A Diana Andrews Mystery
on May 09, 2017
This short novel is a pretty straight forward mystery. There are "Who done it" and "Who was it" questions to be answered but not too many twists or dead ends. The characters were believable and having a prostitute as the protagonist was interesting. It was a pretty quick read, and I enjoyed it.
Liavek 1: City of Luck
on May 20, 2017
Five stories in an interesting setting with an almost scientific version of magic. The authors are all accomplished, but they have different perspectives. I really like four of the five stories. There was nothing wrong with the fifth story, it just didn't really "grab" me. That still makes for an excellent collection. I'm interested in reading more stories in the series.
Jolie Gentil Mysteries - Books Five to Seven
on Oct. 23, 2017
I really enjoy the Jolie Gentil mysteries. They're well written, in an interesting setting, have engaging characters, and good story lines.
The stories themselves stand independently, but the characters and their relationships do evolve, so I'd recommend reading them in order.
Dragon Time and Other Stories
on Jan. 11, 2018
A collection of four excellent fantasy stories! All of the stories are well written and very good, but the first and fourth are really excellent.
The collection takes its title from the first story in the collection: Dragon Time. The story was based on a novel concept and is well executed. I would liked to have seen just a little more time spent on the conclusion, but I still loved it. (Note: While all of the stories in this book are fantasy, this is the only one with dragons.)
The fourth story, Princes and Priscilla, was a bit melancholy, but perfectly logical. This is the one that will remain with me the longest. Probably.
Mars: A Traveler's Guide
on March 05, 2018
A very dry, wry piece of humor. A good read when you need to keep things in perspective.
The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing But The Tooth
on May 20, 2019
A fun piece, well written. A good way to fill the time in a waiting room, and iit's pretty funny.
It is definitely not, however, a reference book! Mastodons were not dinosaurs!
I still recommend iit!
Tom Meets the Devil
on May 21, 2019
A well-written, original take on a traditional storyline. A quick read for one of those times that you find yourself in a waiting room.