Flashes of Death and Darkness by Eli Taff, Jr. has a publication launch date of 19 February 2019, but I received an advance copy from the author because I liked and reviewed some of his earlier writing. Taff writes short flash fiction and claims that each story is exactly 500 words. Despite the temptation to count each word, I will bypass the challenge and just read the stories as I open another beer. The ten stories in this collection are one-beer read. There is an introduction (of exactly 500 words) and an afterword (of 50 words) but the additional reading should not spark another visit to the fridge. With such short stories, my comments will be one or two sentences as initial takeaway impressions. No spoilers. No pontification. Few Puns. Lots of Flash (as in lightning quick impressions).
Dragonfly Dreams by Jennifer J. Chow will be an eye-opening opportunity in cultural education for Western readers new to Asian culture or the hybrid culture that grows as immigrants deal with their new adopted culture. Our main character is Topaz. Her job as a narrator is limited by the fact that she dies on Page One while giving birth. During a brief period of ascent just after dying, Topaz is offered a choice between two paths to follow. She has no idea of what to do until the appearance of Sage who lets her know that one path leads to an end and the other path leads to a beginning. The path on the right will allow her to be with her family temporarily but she must choose how long. Topaz wants to see her daughter grow up and decides ten years, a decade, will be fine.
Demon King by Erik Henry Vick should be a favorite for readers in the horror and fantasy genres. Vick created so many demons they would not fit into one category. There were traditional demons, “biblical, with leathery wings, horns, fangs, and whatever” (p.63). “Others had black, rotting skin that hung from them like clothing three sizes too big. Those he called “undead” demons.” (p. 63). And then there were the demons that didn’t fit into the two categories. They were just weird. Teleports don’t count as demons. All the above information is in Chapter Two which takes place in 2007. Books don’t generally start with Chapter Two. Chapter One takes place in 1979 when several children had near experiences with demons. It was a time when Toby disappeared. Close friend Benny went to find him at an abandoned, some considered haunted house. Adults became involved when Benny told his dad, the town manager, where he had been. Then police became involved in a search for Bobby, a super psycho (later to be known as O. G.) was discovered and the journey began.
Cruel Works of Nature by Amor Gemma is billed as a collection of 11 illustrated horror novellas. This is from Haunted House Publishing, an enterprise associated with Tobias Wade. His recommendations have always assured me a good read in the horror genre. The illustrations show up in Kindle as a series of attractive drawings that precede each chapter. This is a concern for me because Kindle books with illustrations are not always compatible with all devices. This collection worked, and the illustrations were a nice touch.
The Second Sherlock Holmes: The Rise of Thunder by John Pirillo is probably a type of steampunk novel although in this case technology does not go into the past. Figures such as Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler come to the present, meet the technology of today plus futuristic technology from a possible alternate reality, and another battle for world domination either takes place or will take place without the intervention and help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Sticky Fingers: 36 Twisted Short Stories by JT Lawrence is presented as The Complete Box Set Collection because the set contains Volumes One, Two, and Three of volumes titled Sticky Fingers. For some strange reason, I started reading the series with Volume two, followed that with Volume Three, and never got around to reading Volume One. This review will look at the stories in Volume One. I reviewed Volume Two here https://ron877.com/2018/07/23/stories-that-stick-to-the-mind/ and Volume Three here https://ron877.com/2018/07/25/dark-humor-and-mirrors/. The one story that I felt not up to the usual great writing in Volume One, Grey Magic, does not stop me from giving this volume, as was with the other two, five Amazon stars.
Persistence of Frost: A Study in Magic by Chris Kim is a very short story full of surprises and improbable…
Terry Boyle walked into a hardware store, met Renee Patrick, the partial owner and full-time operator of Hardware California, to buy five fire escape ladders for his home. According to the overly cautious, extremely conservative, and always well-organized Terry; you could never have too much safety equipment. If we believe that opposites attract, Terry was the perfect match for Renee; a spur-of-the-moment woman, a sex addict, and a woman dedicated to a life of instant gratification. Terry was very aware of his marital status; he would not succumb to the overt sexual invitations Renee signaled. Renee was very aware of Terry’s marital status, wasn’t bothered by it at all, and looked on Terry’s resistance as a challenge worth overcoming. No other man had ever resisted her, and married men were better conquests because they went home. Tools used should be put back in their place after use.
In forty-three pages, authors Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan in A Face in the Crowd complete a review of the life of Dean Evers. As with many reviews, there will be a final assessment. As with many reviews, the examination will be detailed and presented part by part. Dean did not even ask for the review; it began on its own.
Dean was an old man living alone in Florida, an unintended headquarters for old men living alone. This was somewhat amazing since the life expectancy of women is longer than that of women. Where is the headquarters of old women living alone? I digress. Dean had a friend, Kaz, and they got together occasionally for golf but more often their communication was by phone. Kaz and Dean had been friends since high school, had run together in either a pack or a gang. These days, in his later and last years, Dean’s friend was either a television or an occasional paperback novel. The television went together better with the beers that he liked to consume during a baseball game. A guy could get so engrossed in a paperback the beer would get warm. Television was better. The only thing annoying about the televised games were the people waving to get the attention of cameras. They took his attention away from the game.