Loretta Stephenson

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Smashwords book reviews by Loretta Stephenson

  • Plantgirl on Aug. 05, 2011

    Plantgirl is one of my favorite short stories by M Pax. One of my favorite paragraphs comes after "The world baffled Ba." I had to read it twice, since it was so surprising yet effective. I also enjoyed the subtle hints of wry humor, and M Pax has a way of writing so I can "see" the story. Plantgirl has a great ending that was warm, quirky and surprising. Made me smile!
  • Semper Audacia on Oct. 02, 2011

    I just finished Semper Audacia... Wow! It's full of intense feelings, drama, terrors and pathos. Relationships that were tender and loving, yet clothed in heartbreak. Courage, duty and devotion, yet also an eery technology that kind of made my skin crawl... on about 3 levels. ;-) It was a high speed ride that kept me from going to bed until I got to the ending, which reached out and grabbed my emotions. This was NOT your typical or predictable space opera tale! M. Pax has a descriptive yet poetic way of writing, even when talking techno-babble and describing crater pocked ugly moons! I was "there"... I could feel it, see it, almost smell it. It feels like she involves all your senses in the story. You don't just read it... you inhale it, hear it, ingest it, live it! Can you tell I LOVED Semper Audacia?! Yep... I highly recommend it.
  • Medieval Muse on July 28, 2012

    Karen Elizabeth Brown has given us a totally interesting story! I love time travel type tales, and this novella whisks you back to medieval times in an unusual way. I could identify with our leading lady. A modern, strong willed, independent and spunky gal who DETESTS having to ask ANY man for "permission" for anything... being plunked down in the middle ages! I enjoyed the humor that situation caused. I also enjoyed "meeting" the people from the castle. The main characters seemed real and believable, from the castle gossip to the timid scullery maid. And of COURSE our leading man. Poor guy had his hands full with this feisty "Lady" who appears out of nowhere! I won't give away the ending, but let's just say it didn't leave me grinding my teeth, like some unresolved stories do! It ended "just right". :-) If you enjoy romantic fantasy, time travel, castles, intrigue, humor, double-crossing women and gossips... well, maybe not those last two. But this was a totally enjoyable novella, just right for a hot summer evening with a tall glass of iced tea.
  • Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge on Aug. 05, 2012

    I always read the reviews before buying a book, and appreciate very much those who write them. So, when I review a book I try to do my best to be honest. And honestly... this was a BLAST to read! I thought the first book in the series (The Backworlds) was a fun read... I was delighted to find this one topped it! Once I started, I didn't want to stop. M. Pax has the ability to create a vivid new universe inside my own imagination. The bio-engineered beings, the worlds, customs, ships, even clothing and food seem so real. It was a fun romp through space and other worlds, with fascinating characters of all "kinds". I'd even venture to call Chocolate a character in THIS story! Danger, betrayal, spies, frizzers, gender-morphing beings, revenge, cruelty, friendship and tenderness... and of course, chocolate. ;-) The story had so many surprise turns I had to buckle my seat belt. I'm not fond of "predictable" books. Can we say Borrriiinnnggg? But NOT THIS ONE! The characters, the pickles they got into, the worlds they were on--and inside of--had me shaking my head at the authors wild imagination. It had me asking "how do they THINK UP of these things??!!" And I thoroughly appreciated the ending. And no... no hints. Yep... loved it. Honestly. Can't wait to read the next one in the series. And the next time I sit down to have my hot tea and chocolate... I think I'll take a long pause and remember what happened in this story!! :-O
  • The Backworlds on Aug. 05, 2012

    I've read several stories by M Pax, and as usual, I wasn't disappointed with The Backworlds. Wow, what a fun and fascinating read! The characters are so varied and colorful yet believable, the otherworldly settings are described in such a way that you "see" them. Even the foul stench of the ale that Craze, the main character, detests seemed to make my nose twitch! What a vivid imagination... and this author has the skill to make ME see it, too. But it wasn't only the authors mastery of creating a believable universe that I enjoyed. The Story itself kept me glued to my Reader even when chores were calling my name. Predictable storylines bore me. But M Pax keeps surprising me with twists and turns I didn't see coming. What a fun romp through the backworlds with these feisty bio-engineered beings from a future time. OUR future, creations from the old "fabled Earth". Can't wait for the next in this series, Stopover At The Backworlds' Edge. Ha ha, in fact I just got it. :-)
  • Galaxy Nomads: Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan on June 17, 2015

    This sci fi story is called Galaxy Nomads, Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan, by Karen Elizabeth Brown. For me, the adventure began right in the title: nomads, out in space, the chronicles of a clan. And Clans can be feisty, sticking up for each other no matter what. So... I expected some action, and I was NOT disappointed. Overall, it's a space adventure from one end of the galaxy to the other. Only, the story spans generations! It's an epic length read, at a little over 95,000 words.Their origins, worlds and a little family history. Why they started traveling the galaxy with #1 Rat-of-a-Bad-Guy on their heels. Naturally they encounter aliens along the way, both friendlies and hostile. Deceit, betrayal, loyalties, loves, plagues and pirates! All the good stuff that goes into a space opera. This generational story is divided into 4 "books" within this one book. Book I, Supernova, starts out with a bang which sets the stage for the need to escape into space, pronto. And from there, the power struggles and adventures continue. It seems conflict and stress bring out ones true nature, and sure enough, the nature of the two main Rat-of-a-Bad-Guys emerges, along with the virtues of our heroes. In my view, the worst Rat-of-a-Bad-Guy was the first one, and he was a doozy. Come to think of it, #2 was not too likeable either, and I did NOT want to read about his past; nope, no excuses... I was perfectly fine detesting him! They say every good story needs a good bad guy, and these 2 filled that job just fine. Anyway, off into the galaxy they plunge, and it was fun to read about the worlds they come across. They were imaginative places and not the same-ole same-ole. My favorite was the planet Patchouli, full of short blue-skinned people. The author did a good job painting word pictures. I would have enjoyed exploring these worlds even longer. I enjoyed all of the main characters, but my favorite side character was a mystic named Hestia, who seemed have a very long lifespan. I would have loved to get to know her better. If I could change one thing about the book: divide it into 4 separate books, and expand on the characters, places and experiences. So many were interesting, colorful and/or quirky characters and had such potential for development, it made you want to know them better. Hint to author: sequels or prequels, diving into these characters lives, following their branch of the family tree further out? hint hint Back to the story. It's told chronologically straight, from the first refugees to escape into space, and then following subsequent generations who are born IN space. I'm not a techie, but to me the medical and science part of this chronicle was believable and smoothly fit right into the story. Not overkill like some stories, where I go cross eyed with excess technology, but written with enough detail and authority that it carried the story and added to it in a credible way. Same with the aliens encountered. Though they weren't too developed, there was enough so that they flowed with the storyline, and some even gave me a chuckle. Speaking of chuckles, the authors sense of humor is on the dry, subtle side; no silly slap stick stuff. More wry to sarcastic and/or tongue in cheek and between the lines humor. I really appreciated that. I enjoyed the casual bantering/bickering dialogue between some of the characters. Especially the second generation "couple", Ryder and Carredyn, who fight like cats and dogs. I KNOW people like that, and it cracked me up. But overall I would say the theme that kept popping up was one of strength and courage from unconditional love and from loyalty; of hope and perseverance against the powerful and corrupt. The author never gets preachy or stuck in never ending philosophical navel watching; instead there are subtle yet interesting points of view that weave in and out seamlessly within the storyline, yet made me take notice and think about them. An added layer of depth, if one takes notice of it. They are short and easy to overlook, but rich little morsels. There were a couple of plot twists I didn't see coming, which made for fun surprises. One was a shocker that had me saying out loud "no way!" But without a doubt my favorite "action" scene was the final showdown in Book IV, Merridian between our hero and the #2 Rat-of-a-Bad-Guy. Because the battle was INternal, not external. It was told in a way that convinced me the author had personal experience facing down her own powerful internal demons, and I could feel the "realness" of it. It was familiar, because I have felt that same struggle. How we have to face our enemy, not run; to believe in ourself; to accept help; to stand firm and discover we have more power at our disposal than we had realized. In the story it was much more colorful, explosive and dramatic than I could tell it here, fitting into the action of the plot naturally, and not like some pedantic life lesson (which is how I'm afraid I made it sound here). In short, it was an exciting battle, and had me rooting for our hero. Bottomline, YES I would recommend this epic story to anyone who enjoys character driven action adventure stories. It's colorful, creative and full of interesting people, with enough mysteries and hints to make me hope for a second book, making the Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan into a series. On that basis, of wanting to read more and hoping for the another installment, I give it 5 stars.