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An Anthology from the Padded Room

Not every story culminates in the expected rainbows, sunshine, and a fairytale ending. Instead, there are instances where the conclusion takes an unexpected turn, leaving the reader wondering about the fate of the characters. Crafting an anthology of short stories that evoke a sense of melancholy is a challenging feat, but one that Eli Pope has successfully accomplished.

An Anthology from the Padded Room by Eli Pope is a compilation of short stories that range from poignant to downright peculiar. Each story has a distinct length, yet each one packs a powerful punch by the end. Pope has created compelling tales, from inexplicable happenings surrounding a silo on a farm to insects fighting back. Every narrative draws readers into the characters’ aspirations, fears, and nightmares. Of particular interest is a second-person point-of-view story that portrays a woman seeking vengeance against her abusive partner. The reader internalizes the protagonist’s emotions as she contemplates taking extreme measures. My favorite story in the collection is titled The Firefly Wars. The initial two chapters may seem disjointed but gradually become intertwined as the story progresses. It is a tale of retaliation and the uncertainty of which of God’s creatures possess souls. The meandering prose in some of the stories effectively immerses the reader in the characters’ bizarre encounters.

An Anthology from the Padded Room is a gripping collection of short horror stories that venture into psychological fiction. Every story in this anthology fits perfectly with that theme and adds to the intrigue. I recommend this collection to anyone who likes their novels a little weird and supernatural.

Pages: 206 | ASIN : B0BXHTWCT3

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Some Good Writ

Some Good Writ: Christmas, Cancer, Dad, Wine, Sex and Jeff is a poignant anthology of poems that intimately chronicles the salient moments in Jeffrey Bailey’s life. Through his verse, Bailey explores the importance of embracing freedom and acting with resolve as he underscores the fragility and value of life. The collection thoughtfully delves into themes of suffering, the quest for equilibrium between labor and reward, and the danger of losing sight of life’s ephemeral nature amidst work demands. Bailey candidly recounts his familial circumstances, unafraid to bare his flaws, vulnerabilities, and most trying experiences. Consequently, his poetry offers an unvarnished yet deeply resonant portrayal of the adversity he has faced.

Employing an exquisite poetic style, Bailey accentuates the necessity of exertion and the acceptance of life’s inescapable tribulations. His words resonate profoundly as he acknowledges that life often unfolds in unexpected ways. Embracing this reality can be challenging, but it is essential for personal growth and perseverance. By drawing upon his encounters, Bailey’s objective lens bolsters his ideas’ potency. One particularly moving subject Bailey addresses is the harrowing impact of a loved one’s battle with cancer. He poignantly conveys the heartache and helplessness accompanying this plight, articulating his anguish with striking clarity and emotional depth. Throughout the anthology, Bailey masterfully weaves his intricate narrative.

Bailey’s poetry in Some Good Writ: Christmas, Cancer, Dad, Wine, Sex and Jeff is compelling and evocative; at times, its allegorical nature allows readers to create their own interpretation. The collection will particularly resonate with those who have endured profound experiences, regardless of differing circumstances, as well as readers seeking to ruminate on family, love, and self-discovery. I commend Bailey’s courage in sharing his personal journey and highly recommend this work to seasoned poetry enthusiasts eager to contemplate themes of life, death, and the human experience.

Pages: 95 | ASIN : B0BRGKWGYJ

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Sit Down And Have A Beer Again 

Sit Down and Have A Beer Again by Greg Wyss is an unfiltered publication of poems, short stories, narratives, and dream sequences portraying the life of individuals in the 1960s and 1970s. This collection is raw, realistic, and undoctored, showing life as it was through the eyes and emotions of the narrators for each piece. This anthology portrays the life and soul of creative America and the world through descriptions, honesty, and unabridged thoughts.

Broken up into three parts, this anthology contains the original works printed in various magazines and publications. Part 1 is reprinting the works published in Sit Down and Have A Beer from 1977. Parts 2 and 3 are works that Greg Wyss collected as a means of sharing life for what it was through the eyes of individuals who wrote each poem, story, dream, and narrative. Some are sad, while some are happy. Others shed light on vulnerability, mental illness, the journey to self-discovery, and struggles people battle. Many of these pieces were written to express creativity and inspire the nation’s heart during the particular time frame in which they were orchestrated. 

The works showcased in this anthology come from many small press magazines and publishers in the late 1960s and 1970s. This was a way for the average person to have an outlet to express themselves and have their voice heard. These years were a unique time in American history, and the poetry and writing presented to share with readers a snapshot of life in this era.

I found some of the poems depressing at times, and at other times they were eye-opening. This publication brings to light topics and situations that people during the era struggled with. I would recommend this book as a way of viewing life through the eyes of others and receiving some inspiration in the creative world of poetry. Due to the poetic nature and content, I found this read interesting. This anthology can be a great source of wisdom and encouragement for those in hardship. I believe this work has something for everyone because humanity’s raw nature is at its heart.

Pages: 160 | ASIN : B0B4S8657Z

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Tales From Another Dimension

Tales from Another Dimension, by Robbie Sheerin, is a collection of ten science fiction short stories. Inspired by classic science fiction, Robbie Sheerin brings us the fantastic and the frightening with these ten stories, whether it’s on Earth, in space, or on another world.

I enjoyed this collection of short stories. For the most part, what connects these stories is the science fiction genre. Two stories follow the same characters: “Part 1: The Last of Your Kind” and “Part 2: The First of your Kind.” And this two-part story gives us a unique take on how Earth became inhabited by humans.

I had a little harder time getting into some of the stories than others. “Dangers of Atmospheric Entry” was one such story. It’s not that it was poorly written (none of the stories are); I just had a harder time suspending my disbelief in this story. While others, like “The future you imagine, Doctor, is not the future of the future,” I was able to buy into completely. I suppose it came down to the fact that some of the stories seemed more plausible than others, as if some could be real or come true.

With this said, I did enjoy all the stories. And since Robbie Sheerin was inspired by classic science fiction, it felt only natural (to me, at least) that HG Wells was included in one of the stories. I truly liked these stories and wouldn’t mind reading more from Robbie Sheerin, even something that’s longer, like an actual novel.

Tales from Another Dimension, by Robbie Sheerin, brings us great science fiction stories. Even with the stories being short, it’s obvious that each one has a well-developed world that helps ground the reader in the story and great characters that we can get behind, and even cheer for.

Pages: 152 | ASIN : B09MDQ5VH7

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Life Between Moments

Life Between Moments, by Phil Rosen, is a collection of captivating short fiction stories with New York City at the center of it all. The stories come from the inspiration the author got while living in the big apple and watching people. Each story is a small snippet of what the author observed, heard, and even lived through. Each short story contains a different theme and character, making this a pleasantly unpredictable read. Because it would be difficult to find one thing they have in common to connect their stories, the author has provided a short read to tell their experience.

Rosen’s short stories immerse the reader in the middle of the characters’ lives without describing or explaining who they are. I enjoyed this because it adds a bit of mystery to the characters, and it made me want to know more about them. The author also leaves the short story’s ending vague, allowing readers to create their own conclusion and make their own assumptions as to what happened. Some of the stories had an ending that shocked me or had a twist that I did not expect, which showcases the authors brilliant writing style. I appreciated each story’s development, especially since the author did not always get the full story when people watching, so he took what he observed, added more context, and made his own story. Rosen creatively eases the reader into drama-filled stories that are both dreams and reality.

Life Between Moments by Phil Rosen is an unpredictable and entertaining book of short stories that will keep readers intrigued until the end. I recommend this collection to anyone looking for captivating short stories that can be easily read throughout your busy day.

Pages: 141 | ASIN : B0B8YCQPS6

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Stumbling Through Adulthood

In Stumbling Through Adulthood, author John Sheirer delivers a collection of intricately linked short stories which are connected, some more loosely than others, by their central theme. This theme is summed up by the title. As stumbling implies that progress is being made, albeit slowly and not without its setbacks, the stories feature numerous instances of relatable mishaps and mistakes as the characters progress through adulthood. Take one character, for example, who ends up locked out of their home, or another who manages to consume an entire donut in one go. Sheirer’s characters appear throughout the collection from different perspectives and at different stages of their lives, as we see snapshots of them doing their best to stumble through adulthood.

Sheirer writes engagingly, making even the most mundane or trivial moments entertaining. This, combined with the relatability of many of the challenges the characters face and the sprinkling of subtle humor throughout, ensures that you will remain hooked. Underneath this humor, Sheirer addresses some severe and somber themes such as race, politics, and mental health. These topics are handled in a thought-provoking manner that ensures you’ll never be left entirely without hope.

However, the most important theme addressed in Stumbling Through Adulthood is revealed through the construction of the collection itself. Jumping between various characters in a short space of time would appear to invite comparisons between them. Still, ultimately Sheirer’s writing rejects this idea as every character and story, despite being suspended in a web of relationships with the others, are still stand-alone stories. Instead, every short story is a perfectly compact moment of a character’s life who is doing their best and who we will revisit as we smile or worry along with them as they stumble through their own personal adulthood.

Stumbling Through Adulthood is an intriguing collection of short stories that will appeal to adults in all stages of life. These stories are brought together by the common thread of just getting through life as an adult. With humor and realism giving the stories character and energy, they will stay with readers long after they are done with the book.

Pages: 233 | ASIN : B0996BQ6ZN

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The Cool and Warmth of Hearts

Dating back to the inception of the written word, there has been no shortage of lines put to paper on the subject of love. Whether it’s romantic, unrequited, soul-crushing, or life sustaining, writers and poets have explored the emotion endlessly in an attempt to capture its nature and explain why it moves us as much as it does. In The Cool and Warmth of Hearts, poet J.A. Santana adds his own unique voice to the conversation in a collection that covers many kinds of love experienced within a lifetime. 

One of the most interesting things about the subject of love is that there is no shortage of writing on the subject. Santana pays homage to those great voices that came before him by invoking the names in classic literature most closely associated with romance, both the writers and the characters. As he weaves his way through all the stages of love, Santana’s narrative tells a distinct story, putting to words thoughts and feelings anyone with any life experience has had. We travel along with the narrator as he navigates all the highs and lows to be found in love, even dwelling a short while on life itself and the rapturous feeling associated with simply being. 

Santana’s poems follow a mostly uniform style and tone, often employing a rhyming scheme that makes them read as lyrical and rhythmic. I felt at times the use of rhyme seemed forced in certain spots, however, it still works well, flowing in a way that makes them read smoothly. One of the highlights of this collection is the inclusion of multiple versions of the same poem, which happens several times throughout. It’s a unique glimpse into the creative process and one that should be especially of interest to fellow writers who understand all too well how difficult it can be to choose the “perfect” word or phrase. By the time Santana rounds out his collection with a poem appropriately titled “Twilight,” he has touched every stage of love and loving with intense imagery and emotion.

The Cool and Warmth of Hearts explores and describes love in ways that are almost other-worldly at times but always authentic in its expression, leaving the reader thinking about the poems long after putting the book down.

Pages: 123 | ASIN : B09QXSTRXQ

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Pulling Teeth and Other Stories

Grimdark fiction with a paranormal focus can settle like oil underwater when blended with action and gunplay, but Pulling Teeth and Other Stories by Jessa Forest has a balanced blend. Each corner of stark weird or science fiction here is softened by the wolves. Sterile laboratory prison landscapes are brightened somehow with childlike wonder. Bounding through these forests untethered, we find stories of the bond between father and daughter, master and apprentice, trust and honor.

As a collection of novellas and short stories, Pulling Teeth is the beginning of a series about a young hybrid werewolf, Regina Slaughter. Maintaining a similar tone and following in chronological order, each story hits extremes of tension, horror, and the unknown with ease and alacrity.

Regina’s tragic upbringing to the age of nine and the fate of her family unfolds as we follow her from being an imprisoned test subject to her freedom after being taken in by another faction, more of her kind, mercenary werewolves. Considering this is a world where werewolves, magic, parallel dimensions, and vampires exist, in the relatively small space these stories provide, we also delve into friendships, family, loss, and lunacy which is no small feat for a world with such complexity.

Regina was test subject 33 at the HADES facility. After two years of their attempts to control the powers of werewolves with torture and restraint, her rescue comes in a bloody and unexpected ally. Atlas, a werewolf mercenary from a nearby stronghold, becomes her protector and unlikely substitute for her father, who was taken away too soon. Her new pack leader, Thane, who dresses in the hides of mysterious creatures formed into a plague mask, is cold and strict. But, when he unexpectedly takes the feral Regina under his wing, her animal strength and desire to serve her new pack with honor seem to have finally found a place. There are many factions at war or with tenuous alliances in the world that Jessa Forest has created. The world can seem quite complex.

Luckily, we have an introductory short story, Welcome to HADES, that outlines the differences between the organization’s different departments that hunt werewolves, vampires, mages, and other Void creatures in the form of an employee manual. The stories of these animals’ hunters and the hunted unfold in three novellas and two short stories mainly from the werewolf point-of-view. Regina’s Guide to Monster Hunting, later on in the book, serves as a bookend to the first chapter and creatively adds to the readers’ arsenal. Many of our questions are answered as we read on, exploring the world between these two chapters.

The characters of Regina, Thane, and Atlas are broadened expertly in the titular short story, Pulling Teeth. It is somewhat visceral; it reminds us that Regina is the scrappy orphan we envision as a budding werewolf warrior or typical young teen. However, the unexpected change of pace with Demon Tooth reveals that the humans here are largely oblivious to the dark world at their doorstep. Werewolves, understandably, stay within the shadows hiding in the darker recesses of humanity. Inevitably they will cross with this story of bored suburban human teens taunting forces they barely understand, but that Regina knows all too well.

Although we get to know a lot about her past captivity, abuse, and perhaps stunted personality, Regina sometimes comes across as a lot younger than she is. This could also speak to her animalistic and simplistic nature, which may naturally read as a younger girl than 11 years old. This is the only fault in the dialogue or how others treat her; at times, a child is a trusted member of the team. Her attitude vacillating from studious apprentice and bratty teen reads as unstable at times. Ultimately, it is refreshing to see some of the childlike phrases from Regina and see the world through her eyes guide our reactions to those around her to a certain extent.

As with much science fiction or weird tales, it takes a little getting used to the typology, the taxonomy, and jargon. One tactic Forest uses is likening Regina’s situations into contemporary, classic horror, and science fiction films. Without being a casual name-drop, this helps ground readers into the world through Regina’s eyes because she’s watched many films that fans of this literature are likely to have seen.

If anything, we want to find out more about Regina. Although we’ve had a great insight into her past, her future is a mystery. From the human threat to the Void itself, there is peril in our imaginations. The more we understand how she fits within this world, the more we want to see her adapt. As this is the beginning of a series, fans of this first set of stories will eagerly expect the next installment.

Our world of mythology and science blends here as naturally as fur and fang. Definitely a great fit for fans of a strong character storyline, the politics of warring factions, and following guns for hire. And, of course, those who love a new take on monster stories, specifically werewolves and origin stories for all that is dark, occult, and macabre.

Pulling Teeth and Other Stories is a riveting combination of grimdark, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. This collection of short stories will take readers on an unforgettable journey.

Pages: 266 | ASIN : B08M12631P

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