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

Roadhouse Rendezvous

Roadhouse Rendezvous ISBN: 9781515162094 Creative Space Independent Publishing, First printing 2015. Copyright and written by Hal Savage,

The author has put together ten rather unusual stories, two labeled as novellas. The first, entitled “The Woman across the Hall” is one of misinterpretation of body language while most of the others deal with some form of mystery, crime and/or detection with also a missing persons, a sick practical joke tale and one of revenge.

Discussion: From this reader’s point of view the collection is unique in that the stories are rather unusual with some dark turns that lead to somewhat unexpected endings. The 4th, 5th and 10th are perhaps the best detective stories and the 9th is as labeled “One Dumb Stunt”, but to reiterate, all terminate unusually and several strain credibility to a degree.

4* A collection of unusual stories.

Island Terror



Island Terror, copyright, assumed published, and written by Jo Carey.

Dr. Gina Talbot is a herpetologist working in San Diego at one of the few positions available in the world studying the carnivorous Komodo Dragons. She and fellow worker Chris, like every person in the profession, has applied for and again been turned down in their annual request for advanced study of these reptiles in their native habitat. However, she learns about a former Navy Seal who reportedly had encountered a number of them on a small, apparently uncharted atoll relatively close to Hawaii. She is able to contact the man, Cooper, discovers that it not only is true, but that he had lost his entire compliment of men in the encounter. Because their existence was not believed, Cooper was retired as suffering from PTSD. She is intrigued with the thought of finding such a group of these reptiles and he would love to be able to verify that his report was true. So, with money left to her by a relative, she initiates a small investigative expedition. The story continues as the expedition gets under way, arrives at the small atoll after experiencing a horrific storm, encounters the Dragons with terrifying results, encounter a betrayal and finally evolves at a climax followed by a pertinent epilogue.

Discussion: This is a short, ‘quick’ read that has some difficulty getting to the basic plot. At first the reader is introduced to a protagonist whose ‘love life’ is non-existent until several prospects appear once the expedition begins to evolve. About half of the tale is preparatory to the actual major event, but once begun, it moves at a good pace. So, if one is looking for a tale that fills a few free hours and ultimately provides some suspense, you might enjoy this somewhat unusual tale.

3* Unusual tale to fill a few hours of free time.

The Golden Book of World’s Greatest Mysteries

The Golden Book of World’s Greatest Mysteries ISBN: 9788075832634, Musaicum Books in e-book by multiple authors.

This book, sub-titled 60+ Whodunit Tales & Detective Stories is a compilation of stories by the “World’s Greatest Authors” and is referred to as “The Ultimate Anthology”. Among the authors included are Edgar Allen Poe, A Conan Doyle, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Mark Twain and others perhaps lesser known to American readers such as Guy de Maupassant, Théopile Gautier, Helena Balavatsky and some lesser known stories of among other authors, Jack London and Anton Chekhov. The book is divided into five sections. The first is “Detective Stories” starting with Poe’s better known ‘The Purloined Letter’. The second is “Suspense Stories” with the opening tale ‘The Birth Mark’ by Hawthorne. The third, “Ghost Stories” with the first ‘Thrawn Janet’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. The fourth, “Paranormal Psychic Stories” opening with ‘When the World was Young’ by Jack London. The fifth, “Humorous Mystery Stories” is the shortest with nine selections leading off with ‘The Secret of Goresthorpe Grange’ by A. Conan Doyle followed by Mark Twain, de Maupassant, Théopile Gautier and others.

Discussion: This is a most interesting group of stories for several reasons. First, they all are interesting, occasionally for an unusual reason. Second, they all are well written. Third, many offer a selection or more from an author lesser known to many American readers and/or a tale from a well-known writer that most readers probably just have not read because it seems a little removed from the books for which the author is most well recognized. The writing style and verbalization frequently are dated, but somehow lends charm to the presentation. William Melmoth and Julian Hawthorne are the translators and have done well with their contributions.

Summary: A group of short stories that allow the busy person to ‘take a break’ from his/her abundant activities when needed and indulge in an enjoyable few minutes of reading.

5* Enjoyable book especially for the individual who is stressed for time.

The Acorn Stories

The Acorn Stories, an e-book written and copyright by Duane Simolke. (If the title or content of this book seem vaguely familiar to the prospective reader, the book reportedly was first published as an e-book by White Knight Publishing in 1998, in paperback by iUniverse in 1999 with a second edition in paper and hardcover and “This Kindle version with only minor revisions” was published in 2007.)

The book presents the reader with a parade of vignette-like tales from the lives of dwellers in and near the fictional town of Acorn, Texas, USA, POP: 21,000. These slices depict the lives of this West Texas town’s ‘owning’ families, and some ‘other’ individuals all set forth in 15 chapters, with the last somewhat melting the divergent characters into a somewhat dysfunctional/functional whole. The dialogue is credible, as are the characters as the action swings from an opening about two who never can reach a level of compatibility, another as he ruminates about his parental problems while swimming laps in a pool, and then goes on to describe the problems faced by a deaf, gay teacher for special children who now is teaching English in this small ‘backwoods’ town, a couple of black citizens, an advanced Alzheimer sufferer, a despicable mayor, his wife, a young woman with prominent Attention Deficit Disorder, and more.

Discussion: The author has provided a group of characters to populate this little western town who either are native born and wishing to escape or are persons wishing to escape from the world. Some are pathetic, some humorous, some irritating, some are easier to equate with than others, and all are somewhat unusual as their often self-generated problems and actions are set forth. The author demonstrates a healthy understanding of human nature.

4* Empathetic presentation of an unusual group of small-town residents.

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse ISBN: 9781491791844 iUniverse, an e-book written and copyright by Peter Quinones.

This is a collection of several short stories, a discussion of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and ruminant discussions on several authors’ books and/or movies. The first two stories, The Fizz Notorio and Rumor People, relate tales of a somewhat nondescript, mismatched man and woman with a relationship that begins nowhere and ends in similar fashion. The third ‘Burn Series’, is another unusual tale of a serious minded woman, her lush but beautiful sister and the two wealthy ‘boys’ she drunkenly brings back to the apartment of her sister whom she is visiting. It also begins from nowhere and ends similarly These three have elements of humor and appear to be provided to present the author’s desire to project underlying thoughts that he sets forth in later discussions in the book. In ‘The Exousia’, fourth of the short stories, characters named Elisabetta De La Real, businessman Hayzahoona and similar are involved in an ironically described police investigation of an unsolvable murder. The fifth, Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (I) presents a large number of unrelated, often inane and crude remarks. Chap 6, Notes on Macbeth – posthumously left behind by an undistinguished scholar quotes: “The grandmaster of Shakespeareans, Spurgeon – a mean, cruel and petty man (reviewer’s?) very out of his depth” and there follows a most interesting discussion/comments on the play’s acts and scenes one by one. The author then provides pros and cons on Polanski’s film production of Macbeth, Casson’s 1978 Royal Shakespeare Company’s theater-in-the-round production, Jack Gold’s interpretation for BBC Shakespeare series in the 1980’s, Rupert Gold’s 2009 film and sneaks in some comments on Kenneth Branagh’s 1988 production of Twelfth Night for the Thames Shakespeare Collection. These are followed by a statement and comments of why he believes the Bard’s comedies are much stronger than his tragedies before returning to the often referred to as endless discussion of Macbeth’s witches before returning to the Polanski production and still other comparisons. Chapter 7 Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (II) Self-indulgent metafiction with notes, starts the reader with a story about Monica who has work completed for her PhD in film studies with only the dissertation left, which concerns Sam Peckinpah. She in anorexic, vomits after each meal and is not particularly noteworthy as described before she departs while calling back to her house mate that Nogs Berga, nicknamed “petite conical breasts” after a ‘hilarious remark’ he had made in a gathering, is arriving. This is followed by discussion of various aspects of some well-known and little known movies and delivers pros and cons of what the directors were attempting and whether they did or did not project these ideas, generally speaking. Included are words about the importance of visual images, both as presented and what they might conjure up, AND the need to understand what the author and filmmaker is attempting to say. Included are words with respect to Irwin Shaw’s 1969 Rich Man, Poor Man, another of Ross Macdonald’s Wycherley woman (1961) and more

This is an unusual book with a strange range of subjects. Short stories in which the author presumably has provided hidden thoughts (that regrettably escape this reader) for the reader to ponder are included along with discussions about authors and filmmakers that are quite knowledgeable and interesting. Most prominent are those with respect to Shakespearean plays – these latter particularly enjoyed for this reviewer who many years ago studied the Bard under a former student of George Lyman Kittredge, the celebrated Harvard Shakespearean professor, who along with the above mentioned Caroline Spurgeon, no doubt were the Elizabethan’s most notable scholars.

Conclusion: A somewhat weird collection that provides quite knowledgeable serious discussions along with short stories that some readers may find somewhat distasteful, but containing components of humor along with purported hidden elements that should offer interesting speculation for a certain strata of readers.

3*    5 to 2* range actually, depending, upon reader’s level of interest, as described.