Book Review: Smash and Grab by Joe Albanese

Wick was a normal young man, passing his days at a part-time job and wasting his nights with friends and booze. That was until someone smashed a brick to the side of his head and knocked Wick’s life upside down. The culprit, Kenny, a young man in a dire situation, has only one goal: to get the job done, no matter who gets in his way.
On opposite sides, Wick and Kenny, along with their shared circle of friends, low-lifes, drug dealers, an ex-flame, a cop battling his own demons, and each other, will find out just how similar their situations are, and if only one of them can make it out alive.




My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Smash and Grab is a short story about Wick, a young man who used to sell drugs and has gotten himself into some trouble with a dealer but he’s trying to take care of his problems and clean up his act. His good friend, Dustin, is only interested in going to parties and making sure that he has enough drugs for everyone to have a good time. Wick’s acquaintance, Kenny, is in the same dire circumstances with the drug dealer so they are trying to work together to scrape up the money to pay him back. 

Their plans don’t work out as they expected and things quickly come to a head. Even though this story is short, it has some suspense and I found myself connecting with Wick and wanting things to work out for him. If you want a satisfying quick read, Smash and Grab is a good choice.



About the Author

Joe Albanese is a writer from South Jersey. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry can be found in publications across the U.S. and in ten other countries. Joe is the author of Smash and GrabCainaCandy Apple Red, For the Blood is the Life, and a poetry collection, Cocktails with a Dead Man.

Twitter: @JoeAlba88

Book Review: The Passion of Jazz and Other Short Stories by Nicholas Bridgman

This collection of short stories by Nicholas Bridgman delves into finding beauty and love in unexpected places. It begins by following two young classical music proteges who discover their passion for jazz and for each other at a summer music academy, and who meet fifteen years later and have to face the potential relationship they lost. In “No One There to Listen,” a family vacation to the Grand Canyon goes horribly wrong, with the family members unable to express their love for each other until it is too late. In “Grandfather’s Gift,” a man has to lose everything to discover the love behind a gift his grandfather sent him from beyond the grave. In “Lost in the Woods,” two American study abroad students in England have a harrowing time lost in a wood on their way home from Dublin, creating an unlikely bond between them. Finally, in “Sleep,” a man with schizophrenia traverses the forensic mental health system and finds that sleeping his time away serves as a strangely beautiful coping skill.




My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

These short stories are well written quick reads that are each quite different. My least favorite was the title story, “The Passion of Jazz,” about two musicians who find love while studying music for a few weeks but they both move on and meet years later when they’re both married. 

My favorite story was “No One There to Listen.” The poor kids know that their dad doesn’t listen and sadly he learns the importance of listening a little too late. I liked the other three stories as well.

If you don’t have time for a full-length novel, this could be a good alternative.



About the Author

Nicholas holds a B.A. in Rhetoric from U.C. Berkeley.  He has written numerous essays for the major, as well as for scientific research for his Ecology degree.  After graduating, he took up writing fiction, and he has written over 50 short stories and a novel.

Short Story Review: The Invisible Girl by Christine Amsden


When Amanda Lee accidentally frees an imprisoned imp, the creature rewards her with “her heart’s desire” — which apparently involves setting loose a dangerous flu that makes sorcerers’ powers misfire. Now stuck in her invisible form, Amanda seeks help from the town healer and her former lover, Juliana Scot. But Juliana is still angry with Amanda for cursing her bald during the family feud six years ago. 


My Review

I like Christine Amsden’s world of Cassie Scot and her family and friends. I’ve read all of the books and I enjoyed this free short story about Cassie’s sister Juliana Scot and her former love turned enemy, Amanda Lee. It’s a quick and short read but adds just a little more to this world. If you’re a Cassie Scot fan you can sign up for Christine Amsden’s newsletter and you can get free short stories like these. 


About the Author

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, which scars the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she’s a mom and freelance editor.

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Book Review: 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis

No time for fiction? Think again! 
Many people love fiction but don’t have the time to take up a weighty novel. Why not try some microfiction short stories instead? 

These bite-sized, slice-of-life short stories are crafted with only one hundred words, so they go by in a flash. Perfect for time-challenged fiction lovers, these humorous yet thought-provoking stories can be read when you’re waiting in line, riding the bus, or whenever you need a short mental break. 

Go on. Try some flash fiction. Grab your copy of 100 Tiny Tales today

Free through January 22nd.



My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

What a fun book to read! I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to come up with a story in exactly 100 words but to do it 100 times! That’s amazing. Not only that, but these quick stories are each a surprise. Some are cute, some are sad, some are funny, many are thought-provoking. You never know what you’re going to get.

I read these in one sitting but they would be good quick reads for when you’re waiting for a short period of time…anywhere. Although I don’t read in the bathroom, I know many people do, and this would make a great bathroom book. It would also be a good book for anyone who doesn’t feel like they have time to read a full-length novel.



About the Author

K. Kris Loomis is an eclectic author who writes both fiction and nonfiction books. She is the author of the novel, The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane, as well as the short story collection, The Monster in the Closet and Other Stories. Kris has also written several books about yoga and meditation and a humorous travelogue about the time she, her husband and their handicapped cat moved to South America called Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador!

When Kris isn’t at her standing desk writing, you will find her playing chess, folding an origami crane, or practicing a Beethoven sonata on the piano. She lives in Rock Hill, SC with her husband and two cats.

Short Story Review: The Naked Eye by Angela Kay

At an Aspen ski resort, vacation plans are drastically changed when the body of Lauren Crusher is found in her room. With the ongoing blizzard, everyone is shut in, including the killer.

Since backup is unable to come to Lieutenant Davis’s aid, he must utilize his deducting skills to get to the bottom of the mystery.





My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

The Naked Eye is a short story but it has all of the elements of a good murder mystery. It opens with the body of a girl found in a locked room at a ski resort. With a blizzard raging outside, it’s obvious that if her death wasn’t an accident, then one of the people in the cabin is a murderer…and no one can go anywhere any time soon!

There are many characters in this story, all of the people stranded in the cabin, but it’s pretty easy to keep them all straight. Lt. Davis is the main character. He’s the dad of one of the vacationers and is only staying there because of the weather. Little did he know he was going to try to find a murderer. He has to comb through all of the evidence on his own, and it seems that something new comes up at every turn.

Many secrets are revealed during Lt. Davis’s investigation but would any of them be cause for murder? A great read with a good twist at the end.



About the Author

Equipped with a professional writing degree from Augusta State University, Angela Kay is a southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people. 

Angela Kay was one of 23 across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act entitled “Digging Deeper.” Because of this, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta at the Horizon Theater Company. 

She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her crazy calico, Maggie.

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Short Story Review: Origins by S.M. Boyce

A Ghostly Paranormal Horror Short Story

Mel has a curse: she can see what’s invisible to most humans. We call them ghosts and demons. She calls them living nightmares.

When she was five, she had her own ghost. A good ghost. She swore to never leave his side, but over time, he scared her. She pushed him away. She broke her promise.

Now well into her twenties, Mel meets her old ghost again. And this time, he’s brought the darkness with him to prove his point…

…you don’t break a promise with a ghost.

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play



My Review

I chose to read this short story after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This story is very short but still packs a punch. Mel promised her ghost when she was young that she’d always be his friend, but she broke her promise. Now she’s in her twenties and he has decided that he doesn’t want to be ignored any longer. Her good ghost isn’t so good anymore…

I’ve always liked S.M. Boyce’s writing and that’s still the case in Origins which gives a little background to her horror novel Ari. I haven’t read Ari yet but I’m going to have to find time to read it. I enjoy a well written horror story!



About the Author

When S. M. Boyce graduated with a degree in creative writing, she realized that made her well-qualified for serving French fries. It would take years of writing hundreds of thousands of words of all kinds before she became the fantasy and horror novelist she is today.

Boyce specializes in action-packed stories that weave in fantasy, mystery, and heroines with a knack for mischief. All romantic leads are based loosely on her husband, who proves that soulmates are real.

She has a deep love for ghosts, magic, and spooky things. If you’ve already finished her books, check out her blog or twitter feed for a dash of adventure.

Connect Online
Blog | Novels | YouTube | Amazon | Goodreads

Short Story Review: The Forest Painter by Diane Mae Robinson

A magical fantasy short story by the author of the multi-award-winning The Pen Pieyu Adventures series.

The changing of the seasons has arrived when a young fairy is unwillingly thrown into the role of The Forest Painter. Aura never learned the art of forest painting. Now, she must paint the forest with autumn colors before the frost queen’s arrival or Majestic Forest will be lost forever to the frost queen’s icy touch.

Join Aura in this fantasy tale as she tries to save the autumn.

Available on Amazon.



My Review

I chose to read this short story after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I have read several books by Diane Mae Robinson and enjoy her writing so when this short story was available for free a while back, I downloaded it and then kind of forgot about it. I found it again today and read it in just a few minutes since it’s only 12 pages long, but it was a few minutes well spent.

Aura is the new Forest Painter but she thought she had all the time in the world to learn her craft so now she’s in a frenzy trying to get the forest painted for autumn before the frost queen shows up. When Aura realizes she’s out of time, she asks for Boreal’s help just in time.

The Forest Painter is beautifully written and it’s easy to imagine the Magic Forest and Aura and Boreal’s forest painting. It also teaches about a couple of the seasons, procrastination, and asking for help when needed. It’s definitely a great story for children and adults who like fantasy to read when they have a few minutes.



About the Author

Diane Mae Robinson is a multi-award winning children’s fantasy author and non-fiction author with fourteen international book awards and one provincial award for The Pen Pieyu Adventures series and, her latest release, The Dragon Grammar Book. 

The author lives in central Alberta, Canada. She enjoys riding her horses, playing with her dogs, visual arts, visiting Maui often and, of course, writing. Diane is also an artist, art teacher, writing instructor, children’s book editor, and an international short story competition judge.

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“Find your wings and Fly.” DMRobinson

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