short story

Review of ‘If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place’

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Ella Boudreaux is great at nagging, but she doesn’t consider that a negative trait. She considers herself, in fact, the best at what she does. After all, what would her husband, Charlie, do or be if she didn’t nag him like she does. Of course, one has to ask, what it has gotten her?

If You’d Listened to Me in the First Place by Barbara Venkataraman is a hilarious short piece told from Ella’s point of view about how she met her husband. Has Ella’s nagging helped her to achieve her life’s goals? I’m not telling. You’ll have to read this short piece to find out for yourself.

My main complaint is that it ended far too quickly. I was just getting interested in Ella and her quirks when it ended.

I got this story free in exchange for an unbiased review. I have to say, it’s not too bad at all.

I give it three stars.

Review of ‘Savage Echoes’

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Detective Nicki Savage receives an anonymous 911 call, with the caller claiming responsibility for a missing college student. Savage is immediately on the case, but she needs the help of Duncan Reed, an artist with a photographic memory. The problem is, he’s also trying to force her to deal with her commitment issues.

Savage Echoes by R. T. Wolfe is a short story—too short, really—that ended just as my enjoyment was reaching its peak. Punchy dialogue and memorable characters deserving of a much broader stage. This is a quick, but enjoyable read.

I received a free copy of this story in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Seven For Suicide’

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Sarah Spellman, a Denver police detective, is jerked away from a date to investigate an apparent suicide in a student’s apartment. A look at the invitation to the party at which the victim supposedly took his own life shocks her: ‘Act out your own suicide,’ but as she looks more deeply into the case, she discovers that there’s more than appears on the surface.

I received a free copy of Renee Pawlish’s short story, Seven For Suicide, in exchange for my review. An offering in Pawlish’s Sarah Spillman Mystery Series, in just a few words, the reader is treated to a bit of brilliant detective work, scintillating dialogue, and a story ending that will shock you. When is a suicide not a suicide? Read Seven For Suicide and find out.

This is a story that’s quick to read, but will leave you wanting to read more of this author’s work. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Desolation: Stories’

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Ken Broskey’s Desolation Stories is a fantastic collection of horror, fantasy, and science fiction short stories, each a bit further out than the one before. The 19 stories in this collection are definitely not for the faint of heart or those with sensitive dispositions, for they contain graphic violence and profanity.

Broskey is a master of the short form of fiction, starting each story on an eerie note, building to a crescendo, and bringing the reader down for a bumpy landing. This is a collection of stories that lovers of the various genres will appreciate. Spot-on dialogue, believable characters, and credible environments that seem as real as the world we think we inhabit today.

Don’t miss this book. Five stars for a master craftsman.

Review of ‘Till Death Do Us Part’

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When Jim Preston married his wife, Kinley, it was the best day of his life, but then, Kinley became terminally ill. Till Death Do Us Part is a short book (too short even to be called a novelette) by Massimo Marino that will leave you in tears. In a few words, Marino gives us a profound look at love and devotion. It’s a short book, so I won’t write a review that’s longer than the work being reviewed, I’ll just say – READ IT!

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Mine’

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Mine by Regina Puckett is a short story about a woman, Alle, who is asked out by a coworker, James. She’s anxious to date him, but floored when she finds out his aim is to take her to an abandoned mental hospital to look for ghosts. In the space of a few pages, the author manages to cram a ton of chills and fear as Alle finds herself alone in the dark with a strange presence that she can’t see, but can feel. When she finally makes her way out, she discovers James dead, and after she calls the police, finds herself under arrest, not only as a suspect in his death, but the eleven other members of the ghost-hunting expedition as well.

Puckett manages to keep the suspense level high throughout, and offers up a twist ending that will catch you totally by surprise. My only complaint about this book is that it has a few too many typos and grammatical errors—not enough to cause me to stop reading, but a bit distracting, bringing down what could be a short story worthy of Edgar Allen Poe.

Reluctantly, because I’d really like to rate it higher, I’m giving it three stars.

Best Fan Fiction Award – Love Shots Contest: ‘Elementary, My Dear’

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My short story, Elementary, My Dear won the Best Fan Fiction Award in round 4 of the Love Shots contest on Wattpad. The story is included in a volume called Cryptic Tales of Love and can be read at

Review of ‘Sacred Striptease’

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Sacred Striptease takes us through an evening in the life of Lexie (Miss Electra), a stripper who works in a club frequented by mainly working class men stopping for a little entertainment before going home to their families. Told in the first person, the story shows the mental process of a woman who views what she does as art, not for titillation, but for entertainment. Lexie has a strong artistic connection and affection for the men who enjoy watching her perform, but is distressed by the presence of the Creep, a man who views her (in her view) not as a performer, but as a target for exploitation.

A profound treatment of subjects such as self-image, rape, and exploitation, this is a good short read that will entertain as much as Miss Electra’s artistic gyrations do. My only complaint is that the reader is never told why a former ballet dancer such as Lexie (not her real name we’re told) turned to stripping, and while the Creep is introduced and we’re led to believe he exerts a strong influence on Lexie (creating, we believe, a sense of fear and dread in her), he just disappears in the end with no real resolution to the tension, other than a slight surprise at the end, which I will not reveal so those who read the story can discover it for themselves.

Except for these two small weaknesses (in my personal opinion, I must stress), it’s a profoundly entertaining story. I give it four stars.

Unintended Consequences

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The Djinn, Shabaz, sat in front of the cave entrance, playing a song on his flute made of whalebone. The song was sad – oh so very sad. But then, Shabaz was sad, so what other song would one expect him to play.

A social creature by nature, Shabaz had been self-exiled in the Dismal Mountains for a long time – cut off from other creatures, especially the humans, who were so droll and funny. He had doomed himself to live the life of a hermit for all eternity. And, eternity is a long time for a creature like Shabaz who can never die unless someone wishes it for him; and with no one around to make three wishes that was extremely unlikely to happen.

Now, you’re probably asking why a creature so fond of companionship would chose to transport himself away from contact with others. The tale of that fateful decision is brief, simple, and yet – tragic. Shabaz, a supernatural creature; superior in every way to all other creatures – or so he told himself and anyone else who would listen – had made a mistake. Not just a simple mistake either. He had made the worst mistake a djinn could make. He’d fallen in love with a mortal.

That mortal was Kali. Kali was not a princess. Nor was she the daughter of a rich merchant. Kali was an orphan. A serving girl in the palace of Sultan Origami. Not the most beautiful of the sultan’s serving wenches, she had never come to his notice. Shabaz had been in the sultan’s employ for a fortnight, while that portly worthy mentally wrestled with his third and final wish for Shabaz to grant, when Shabaz’s eyes fell upon the shy wraith of a girl lurking in the shadowy corner of the palace. A being who had lived more years than he could remember, he’d never noticed the human women before. Now, though, he could not tear his eyes away from this small figure. He drank in every detail. Her slender, oval face, the color of rich tea filled with milk and honey; long, lustrous black hair that hung down to the small of her back; the gentle curve of her waist; her dark eyes, like two inky pools into which he felt he would fall and drown. He could not take his eyes off her.

At first, Sultan Origami did not notice. But, Shabaz could not hide his distraction forever.

“What ails thee, djinn?” the sultan demanded.

“It is naught, sire,” Shabaz replied. “I fear I have a touch of indigestion.”

Shabaz felt a twinge at the base of his skull. It was forbidden for a djinn to lie, but if the sultan knew what was truly on his mind, it would not go well for the young serving maid who was the object of Shabaz’s attention.

“How can that be, djinn? I thought creatures such as thee had no need of sustenance.”

“Ah, your majesty,” Shabaz said. “Perhaps it is a headache, for I did not sleep well last night.”

“But, djinn,” the sultan said. “It is said that those of your kind do not sleep, nor are you prey to the ails that befall we mere mortals. What truly troubles thee, djinn?”

Now, Shabaz was in a pickle. His existence revolved around the number three in more ways than one. Not only was he required to grant three wishes to whomever rubbed the lantern to set him free, but if he transgressed the djinn code three times, he would be exiled into the Place of Darkness to loiter forever in a realm lacking sight, smell, or sound – the djinn version of hell. The only thing in that place, other than the djinn condemned to linger there, was the Hound of Darkness – a creature that made no sound, but who lurked near the condemned, and breathed its fiery breath upon their skin constantly. Shabaz shivered at the thought.

But, the sultan had asked him a question. He must answer, but he could not answer. What was he to do? Shabaz had never fallen in love before, but the moment he layed his eyes upon Kali, he was smitten; his heart beat faster, his palms became sweaty, and his mouth was as dry as the great desert. Now, he knew the meaning of the word ‘lovesick,’ for he felt as if he would shrivel up and be blown away by the next breeze. The sultan, though, was jealous of his possessions, and Kali, like the other serving wenches, was such. If he knew that Shabaz has set his eyes upon her, he would destroy her rather than allow such a thing. That, Shabaz could not allow. At the same time, he could not tell the fat monarch a lie – that third lie would cause Shabaz to vanish in a puff of smoke, to be immediately transported to – he couldn’t even think of the name without shivers running up and down his spine.

What to do, oh what to do? For all his powers, Shabaz had never been a great thinker. But then, he’d never really had to think before. He was a grantor of wishes, and the mortals he had encountered in his long existence hadn’t been the brightest bulbs in the onion patch – so, he’d never been tested overmuch. A bag of gold here, a harem of beautiful girls there – nothing he couldn’t handle with a simple snap of his fingers. The biggest challenge had been pushing the often dimwitted types who would rub a rusty lantern out of curiosity in the first place to get on with making the three wishes so that Shabaz could go about enjoying his respite from the confines of his lantern. Each time he was freed, and granted the three wishes, he was given a year of freedom in the mortal world – a year he took full advantage of. Rather than answer the sultan, he snapped his fingers, transporting himself to the mountain.

Now, he wondered what would come next.

Review of ‘The Memory Lights’

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Mary – Mad Molly – is afraid of the street lights, but she can’t remember why. Working as part of Colin Raynor’s gang of cut purses and pickpockets, she wanders London’s streets. She walks in a perpetual daze – trying to remember. When Colin is hired to break another felon, Matthew Magnuson, out of jail, events are set in motion that penetrate deeply into Mary’s fogged consciousness, dredging up vague memories that could be dangerous – dangerous to her and those around her.

In The Memory Lights, K.M. Weiland takes us on a scenic tour through a tortured mind. A gripping story that is hard to classify, Lights has elements of mystery, thriller, horror, and psycho-drama all effectively intertwined into a fast-moving narrative that was fun to read. A short book, it really qualifies as a novelette – although some people dislike the use of this diminutive word – or even a bound short story. Whatever, it’s just about the right length for the story being told.

I received a free review copy of this work, but it’s worth the investment of a purchase. Even though I reviewed an electronic copy, it’s the type I believe more effectively read in paper copy, so that the crinkling of pages being turned can add to the overall tingling effect of the story.

I gave it three stars because of some typos very early that, while they don’t take away from the effectiveness of the story necessarily, are distracting because of their obviousness.

Review: “12 Months of A Soviet Childhood: Short Stories: by Julia Gousseva

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Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! (Photo credit: Rinoninha)

In Twelve Months of a Soviet Childhood: Short Stories, Julia Gousseva has written twelve captivating tales that capture a slice of life in the now-defunct Soviet Union. She begins with winter, the dreariest, yet the most colorful month in Moscow, with its New Year’s parties and colorful New Year trees. She then takes us, month by month, on a journey that she calls fictional, but must be in large part autobiographical. We see things through the eyes of a child, unvarnished and without adult filtering.

A captivating collection of tales, as I said; but, the book has some near-fatal flaws. First, the sans serif text is a bit on the difficult side to read. But, the ragged and inconsistent indentation of paragraphs is by far the most distracting. This is a potentially great collection of short fiction that could reach that greatness with a bit of judicious editing.

I’d love to give it four or five stars, but alas, the formatting flaws drop it down to really two and a half.

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