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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Steve Umstead's Wrinkled Shorts Are Intense!

Let me tell you, doing a search for 'wrinkled shorts' can bring up a lot of giggle worthy images. 

And don't get me started on the number of times I had to rewrite my title to keep the tongue in cheek humor to a minimum!

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this one... It's time for another short story collection. This one is a collection of 5 short-shorts written by a single author.

image via http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/201090000/201094170.JPG

Wrinkled Shorts is a sci-fi-/horror/suspense collection of short stories written by Steve Umstead.

So what's it about?

A boy helps defend the planet against ruthless alien invaders. * A man ferries cargo to an island and discovers that all of its buildings are gone. * A mysterious, unwanted package shows up at a woman's door. * On their anniversary, a woman gives her love the chance to do something great for humanity via an organization she found through social media. * A college student takes part in a sleep study in order to make some extra cash.

A great smorgasbord of scenarios, right?

Each short is unique, even though the narratives all clearly come from the same beautifully twisted mind. I had no qualms about switching from one genre to the next, lulled into compliance by the author's silver tongue (or should that be pen? Keyboard?).

It's not often that an author can lead you from one story into a vastly different second one without making you pause and take time to examine a whole new world, but Umstead did exactly that.

No breaks needed. 

The intensity of each story propelled me into the next, my mind seeming to transform, accepting each new world with no need for explanation. What I mean is that the environment within each story was exactly right for the scenario within its pages from word one.

Not once did I think,
"Where the heck did that come from?"

Umstead could have created a world in which cotton toasters swam through lava propelled by the currents within hippopotamus venom and I would have believed it... I would've even demanded more.

Interestingly, my favorite story was not the one that I was most interested in reading when I downloaded this title. Incursion (sci-fi), the first of the stories, was the one that originally caught my attention, yet Opt-Out (suspense), the fourth story, was the one that caused my heart to beat wildly, sending shivers down my spine. The impact of that short lasted far beyond the length of time it took to read it.

How long was that?

About thirty minutes. Maybe forty-five. See? I told you I couldn't put it down... my eyes raced across each page as though they were running a marathon. I could. Not. Stop.

Now, this wasn't perfect, of course. I had a vague idea of what the ending of story one would be, so the twist wasn't quite as twisty as I'd like. The third story, likewise, wasn't quite as chilling as I think it could have been.

On the flipside, however, the first story didn't need to wow me with a spectacular twist. It was amazing even without a mind-blowing surprise at the end. And the third story? If you ever watched episodes from Tales From the Darkside, you'll love it unconditionally.

And Opt-Out? My favorite within this collection? Let's just say that it does a very good job of reminding us about the importance of reading the fine print. Always.


Don't forget that.

If you're looking for a good collection of short-shorts to make your lunch break more fulfilling than usual, you'll want this one. A lot. Like, really a lot.

Wrinkled Shorts can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. It's also available on Scribd, which is where I got it.

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