Facing The Music by Matthew Keville is a Kindle Unlimited novel. It is not listed as a Kindle Single, but it is definitely a short story, one I would call flash fiction.

The entire story is reported as a series of blog posts that appear on the internet from 03 January to 06 January 2016. The crisis, the ultimate conflict, happened just before midnight on New Year’s Eve of 2015. But Melissa doesn’t know what the crisis was. True, the guy she was in bed with was dead. So was everyone else in the buildings and on the streets around her. Television didn’t work. There was no phone service, landline or cell. What she found on the internet was not encouraging. Every religious or scientific site that was accessible published apologies for previously held beliefs and admitted the supremacy of the Heralds of Silence.

Cold, Cold Heart by Karin Slaughter is a Kindle Single and is truly a short story. The story itself is over and done by the 39% mark in the downloaded epub. It is then followed by an excerpt from The Kept Woman advertised to be on sale 20 September 2016. The prolog to that excerpt should guarantee sales. This is one of those times when it is good to take Amazon’s offer of a free sample. But back to the short story Cold, Cold Heart.

Jon (previously John, before the later than mid-life crisis) and Pam had been together and married for a long time. Both were high school teachers; they had little money and had to live on a tightly controlled budget. And Jon controlled the budget very strictly even refusing to give Pam lunch money when she had run out early in the week. He did give her advice; she was to budget more wisely.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee is an inspiring story of courage and bravery as one woman struggles to keep her family together after separation that included varying periods of incarceration for each of the three-member family. It is an incredible (as in hard to believe) story but if a reader wanted to check the authenticity of some of the incidents cited, it could be easily done by examining public media reports. Imagine a Korean woman (Hyeonseo) meeting a western traveler in Laos who voluntarily gives money to Hyeonseo to aid in paying corruption money to get Hyeonseo’s mother and brother out of a Lao prison. There was not an exchange of favors for money and the traveler had no assurances of ever being repaid. The incident happened, the traveler was repaid, and the story was reported by the Australian press.

Keller’s Fedora by Lawrence Block is a Kindle Single stand-alone mystery short story. Published in 2016 it follows Keller (his real name) as he reverts to a long ago profession of hired assassin. He had pretty much retired from that type of work and had settled down with his wife (who knew he was an assassin) and his daughter (who didn’t know). The money he had saved from his assassin jobs allowed him to pursue his current love, stamp collecting.

Glitch is a short story of about 5000 words by Hugh Howey. It might be considered a story on the…

The Last Girl by Joe Hart is a survival story. Zoey is the survivor and if there were ever a series of games called “Extreme Survivor,” she would probably win it. She was born into a world where for some reason the birth rate of females declined to almost zero. I think one in a million qualifies as almost zero. This fact for which no reason can be determined plunges the world into chaos as almost everyone comes to the conclusion that with the inevitable death of humanity there is really no reason to go beyond selfish immediate gratification goals. Gangs form, crime increases exponentially, law and order are reduced to vigilante level and the populace blames governments. So there are outright rebellions along the lines of civil war.

Despair over what? Being Muffled? Not reaching a goal? Having her picture inadvertently taken at a place where she shouldn’t…

This was a book I won in a Library Thing Members Giveaway in return for a review.

The Fading Dusk by Melissa Giorgio is a novel of magic. Irina is a magician’s assistant to Bantheir and she feels very unappreciated. It seems all she does is support and clean-up functions; Bantheir doesn’t really include her in anything. She has picked up some of the magic tricks which, as she tells colleagues, are not really magic; they are illusions. Sometimes Bantheir strikes up friendships with some admiring audience members. When an attractive couple invited him to meet them for dinner, Bantheir did not invite her to accompany him. Instead, he instructed her to return home and to invite no one in with her. She didn’t really invite the two men who broke into the house and almost killed her. She didn’t invite the soldiers who fortuitously arrived to save her. And she hadn’t planned to be taken to prison where she was threatened with charges of being an accomplice to almost six murders, all committed by Bantheir.

I received a copy of Samurai History: A Beginner’s Guide from Vincent in return for a review along with a request to leave a review on Amazon. My first problem was finding an author name. Vincent sounds OK but it seems there might be more to the author name than that. I live in Indonesia where many people claim ownership of only one name, but this did not seem to be the case here. Beyond that, I couldn’t find the book on Amazon. I queried the person who sent me the request. The answer I received was “There is no author mentioned in the Book because it is an outsourced Book. Vincent holds all publishing and book rights to the Book so you can simply use Vincent as the author if you need to.” This makes me feel like I am part of a dark conspiracy to avoid something. So, for anyone else asking for a review of an “outsourced book,” sorry, I don’t do this anymore. On the other hand, I received a link to the book on the Amazon site. I have no idea why I could not access it earlier.

This is an 18-page six-chapter non-fiction book delivered to me in PDF format. Its use of specific dates leads me to believe it is a non-fiction book. The absence of any references is a serious weakness. I don’t even know Vincent’s last name; it is difficult for me to trust him as a historian.

When a book pops up on my screen from author Joyce Carol Oates I download it, always. When it is a collection of short stories, I am even happier. Dear Husband: Stories is a collection of previously published stories, completely portable and fun to read. For me, Oates is unique in the way she presents thought-stopping surprise sentences in the middle of excellently crafted stories. The surprise sentences are like gifts; the stories alone are great. As I usually do with short stories, I will comment on each one.