Gritty Tales

Gritty Tales ISBN: 9781732544109 an anthology assumed published, copyright and written by Tyler M. Mathis.

The author states that this book contains “13 stories of Crime, Mayhem and Terror”. A forward, although purported to be brief, contains adequate length to provide an overview of the contents with a few directions on suggested approach. He also defines “Gritty tale” as “a story of harsh and uncompromising realism” and lists three definitions of gritty – “courageous, course and abrasive and characters driven by their very basest motives” – as applicable to his content. He also admonishes that “vulgar language, graphic content and unhappy endings” are abundant. He also advises that 6 of the stories previously have been published and all are “straight-up crime, horror of supernatural bent, and most are cross-genre works.” Each individual tale is initiated by its own brief forward providing a hint of what the reader will discover in the following prose.

Discussion: The collection of stories offered are replete with characters who are losers, contain sick minds and/or are basically evil or are in an evil position as a result of one or another factor. Each story is independent of the others and can be randomly selected to read, except for 4 designated as closely related and to be read as such. Thus, the volume provides an excellent read for the busy person who finds only short spaces of time for such activity. The book perhaps is a more fitting read for those who enjoy stories on the dark side.

4* for readers who enjoy dark tales often involving course characters and language

Dogs of War

Dogs of War, A novella. Amazon Kindle Edition, Copyright 2011 and written by Bradley Convissar.

Gary Lettner and Caroline, his wife of six months discover and purchase a home in a nice suburban area and in true dog-lover fashion he decides to visit a small animal shelter to get a dog. Not exactly in a manner favored by Caroline, he obtains Molly, a close to mentally beaten-down eight-year-old Dachshund. For little explained reasons other than a purported incompatibility, they divorce and he and Molly settle into an enjoyable routine until one night Molly awakens him in the middle of the night with incessant barking and a desire to be let out into the garden. From this point, the story become a tale of ghostly dogs and their insistence upon gaining Molly’s aid, with Gary in attendance, to attempt to right vicious wrongs they, and others, had suffered at the hands of cruel developers of dogs to be used in illicit dog fighting.

Discussion: The author has presented a tale describing in some detail the inhuman atrocities a certain breed of individuals will inflict upon animals to satisfy their sick minds. It is a short book that may be classified in the ghost/horror genre with a revenge theme that dog lovers no doubt will love. The pace is good, the rather detailed plot moves well so the reader feels compelled to continue to its termination. As an aside, as once owner of dachshunds, the breed is subject to the infirmities listed, but Gary’s treatment of Molly seems a little overdone especially in light of some of her described activities. But then, when one reads a ghost story, it is necessary to pretty much ignore any pragmatic thoughts.

4* Short, easy read ghost story with unusual protagonists.

Plagued

Plagued, Book One, a post-apocalyptical e-book copyright and written by Garrison Scott and introducing the series’ protagonist.

Skyler Campbell is a normal, attractive teenager living in Great Neck, Long Island. In school she is fully engaged in her school’s activities, including being a cheer leader. The football team has just won an important game and she is about to celebrate with her friends when her grandfather tells her it is important that he speak with her. She says she will see them later but after their talk she begins a home schooling program dictated by the fact that a monstrous asteroid is headed for earth and scheduled to strike within five years if the atomic war heads dispatched cannot stop it. Her grandfather, a former member of the Army’s specially trained Delta Force, wants her to learn to survive under any possibly evolving conditions. Thus begins her home schooling specifically designed to reach this objective. The asteroid strikes earth with cataclysmic effects. She and her grandfather manage to survive because not only had he trained her completely, but had a home with one of the deep survival shelters that had been constructed by a number of people when atomic warfare possibilities first became a viable possibility. The story presents a constant flow of credible occurrences that one might expect following a strike of this nature. There follows equally believable after reactions of earthquakes, flooding and entre into the post- catastrophic world. One, unexpected but also credible occurrence is a brief influx of alien organisms released from within the structure of the asteroid when it strikes that leave a horrible and lasting effect on survivors. Strangely it affects only part of the population but unfortunately Skyler is one of those affected. As they finally are able to emerge from their shelter, they encounter other individuals, some also affected while others who are not and these latter attempt to annihilate all of those who are. The story line follows Skyler as she attempts to survive this devastating situation as she heads west from this most seriously, seemingly center, of the devastating blow.

Discussion: The author has provided a non-stop thrilling tale of the attempts of a now unusually physically compromised young woman who otherwise still is fully equipped to survive as she tries to save others as well as herself in her constantly death-threatened journey. It is a story set forth at such break-neck speed that other than the more pragmatic reader will find difficult to put down. The only caveat offered is for these latter.

5* for other than pragmatists.

Elevator Quest

Elevator Quest ISBN: 9781073215035, EA Strarchilde Co, a horror fantasy by Emmanuel M. Arriaga.

The story opens with a number of people entering the elevator of a building all heading to the 27th floor. Somewhere near the top there is a power failure. The older model elevator is not equipped with brakes, and the car begins to descend. The next floor mentioned is the 11th, followed by the 5th and the ultimate crash at the bottom. All of the occupants seem to survive, leave the car and enter a bizarre world where they find corpses with a plethora of weapons scattered about. Each arms him/her self and they proceed as a group from one chamber to another encountering a series of weird opponents. There are goblins, orcs, robed monks who do not speak, have empty eye sockets and attack with their long poisonous finger nails and mechanized figures. There also are seemingly bodiless flying attackers and even eventually they are attacked by their own mirror images. Fortunately, the weapons they discovered and use not only are magical but sentient as well and can conjure up bolts of lightning, torrential rain and winds and destructive flames and one member has acquired the ability quickly to heal anyone’s occurring wounds. They do lose some members and their journey eventually leads them to an area where two members of the group, Damon and Samil, make a startling declaration and the tale winds to a surprising, although on many levels not unexpected, ending.

Discussion: The author has provided an interesting overall plot that is not revealed until the finale. Leading up to this ending, the action is almost unceasing and mostly of a violent nature. There is little character development and a rather rambling progression of the quite repetitive magical activities.

Summary: A plot reminiscent of appealing divertive material so often provided by today’s electronic equipment, no doubt of interest to persons enjoying these productions. Also those for whom non-stop action is enough. This reader believes judicious editing of several areas would greatly enhance enjoyment.

3* 4* Late revealed interesting plot; readers enjoying non-stop action; 2* for others.

Sorcerers’ Dynasty

Sorcerers’ Dynasty, Star Born Publishing LTD, an e-book written and copyright by Stephen C. Perkins.

Briefly stated, the story follows the path of the single remaining head of a centuries old royal bloodline as he prepares to destroy the world from his hidden laboratory deep in the earth that has an entry from the American western desert and with sub-arctic activating machinery. After its destruction, he tells the few who supposedly are to accompany him that they will move into a virtual Garden of Eden to “thrive forever in a new land without threat of war, famine, death, disease, sickness or plague.” Their needs will be supplied by totally sub-servient trans-human artificial drones. World destruction will have been accomplished by a flood from a previously unknown water source associated with the Arctic Circle. He presently is positioned in his magnificently but somewhat decadently outfitted offices as the all-powerful originator/CEO of Serenity Corporation with power extending into all aspects of life through manufacturing and supply and aided and abetted either by direct or indirect control of all through deceit, treachery and/or threatened betrayal. The entire project further is bolstered by almost complete media control. The main possible deterrents are a brilliant scientist (also existing through the centuries) and a young journalist supported by his chosen significant other who is a newly graduated physician, and an aging Pulitzer recipient. The action is varied and occasionally difficult to follow. Often it is difficult to discern whether the characters are human, trans-human, belong to this world, or perhaps somewhere else as the reader is introduced to large quantities of mechanical, physical and biological sci-fi technology, goodly amounts of necromancy, horror and religious/biblical declarations and expositions. This material also is interwoven with many important, and often controversial, mostly more recent historical situations such as the internment of the Japanese residents during WW II, the Cuban Crisis, the present day media controversy, North Korea, and more. In other words, to use a once standard amusing analogy, ‘everything has been thrown in there except the kitchen sink’.

Discussion: From this reviewer’s viewpoint, little more can be said about this book. Much of the exposition is verbose, yet portions are interesting. One of the seemingly more sinister activities of Serenity Corporation, the disappearance of large numbers of children, ultimately appears to have little to no bearing on the story’s basic plot. The conspiracies and conspirators occasionally are confusing, possibly because of missing words, and amusingly perhaps, for the first time ever within my knowledge has fraternal brotherhood been suggested as a ‘bonding measure’ among members of Phi Beta Kappa or any other literary or scientific society established specifically to be a means of recognition, rather than social gathering.

Conclusion: The author has set forth a lengthy and occasionally difficult to follow sci-fi, horror, conspiracy theory thriller that perhaps somewhat strangely has an acknowledgeable modicum of appeal. A thorough editing by a multidiscipline editor is strongly recommended for enhanced enjoyment.

3* Hesitantly provided.

The Origin of Dracula

The Origin of Dracula ISBN: 9780984026579, Laurel Canyon Press, an e-book written and copyright by Irving Belateche.

The tale is about John Gaines who is challenged by a supernatural power calling himself Dantės to play an intellectual game of discovery with the life of his son as the prize. It is delivered in a note: “If you can find me, tell me my true identity, I will spare your son.” He is given until the child’s birthday, the following Sunday. He figures that the signature had been chosen knowing that Edmond Dantes was the main character in one of the most well-known tales of revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo. He assumes the challenge exists as a result of an incident in his childhood when he had convinced his parents to allow him to camp out overnight with two buddies at a local park. One of the boys seemingly was attacked by some strange individual and somehow was able to push him off a cliff, the body washing away in the river. John already had been traumatized at an early age by the early death of his loving father and this now was followed by the recent murder of his beloved wife. He is a librarian by vocation after having found solace in absorption in books, and with his extensive literary knowledge, decides that this person is the same as the missing person from the childhood encounter and further, that he may well be an immortal such as Dracula. Later developments provide substantiation to his assumption with similarities of names to those of the boys and other factors. Further complications arise when all of these features are interwoven with a long standing vendetta similar the infamous Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, Indian legends dating back to the arrival of the Pilgrims and the Jamestown Colony and activity by members of these colonies. Several additional interesting characters are introduced and play important parts in the rather involved proceedings.

The author appears quite knowledgeable of the ‘classic’ novels, has acquired fascinating details of old legends and has interwoven them rather well. His dissembling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which here incidentally does not include vampire activity, is particularly engaging. Additionally, this is perhaps one of the elements that knowingly or probably unknowingly offers an essential feature of interest by readers for the entire book. He points out that Dracula actually is based on the story of Vlad Tepes, the mid-15th century heir to House of Draculesti and Prince of Wallachia a region of Romania. He became a folk hero of the Romanians in their struggles against the encroaching Ottoman Empire and the story of Vlad the Impaler was of his extreme cruelty that similarly was legendary. The reason for my belief in its position of importance to readers of this work no doubt is unknown to many. A sizeable number of years back the explosion and easy availability of electronic games made their appearance. They were fun and with their gradual development, interest progressed and lasted well beyond a mere ‘fad’. Unfortunately, a simultaneous decline in reading, especially among children and young readers appeared and was so noticeable that educators became seriously worried. They actually initiated well-designed studies to determine ways in which the desire to read could be restored. Numerous leads were followed with some even at marginally disgusting levels. However, one of the most promising was stories following plots involving horror and activity such as indulged in by Vlad Tepes. In fact, the story of Vlad the Impaler was one of the most prominently believed to be most influential by the educators attempting to restore reading – long accepted as the font of all learning.

So to conclude: This novel is verbose, often repetitious and lacking in features appealing to some readers. As such, perhaps it may be of greater interest to younger readers but it also may intrigue many readers unaware of the influence hidden away in their psyche as a result of acquisition through strange channels.

3* But 4* for many because of strange reason described.