The Gears of Strange Machine (Ten Cent Tales) – A Review

gears.polished front

Book: The Gears of Strange Machine (Ten Cent Tales ~ Vol. 2)

Author: Marshall J. Stephens

Available: $.99 Kindle Version or $4.99 Paperback on Amazon

Ten cents a story, and a penny off if you buy all ten, is a bargain especially for these delightfully twisted and ingenious tales.  Each is unique so much so that my job as reviewer is made more difficult because I don’t know how to summarize this collection beyond saying that it is eclectic, intriguing and you should buy it right now.   Go on do it!

Not convinced yet, ok.  Let me try again.

Most of the stories in the collection are brief but leave the reader totally satisfied, with the occasional cliff hanger. Some will delight the vampire lovers. Another will tickle the fancy of Steampunk lovers. And yet another will please those who enjoy Warhammer (if you aren’t sure what that is, think about it as Terminator style).  Most of the stories take place in the present or in the near future. And all of them have a sort of Everyman’s appeal to them. In fact the collection is dedicated to “every schlub who’s worked a thankless, dead end job and still did it with tireless commitment.” I think we have all been that person working long hours at place that helps the cogs of the world move in its own way and rather than ignore them this collection celebrates them.

One of the tales, Two Steps Back, is clearly an homage to Neil Gaiman’s work. Gaiman and Stephen King are two of the authors he acknowledges as having given him some of the best encouragement and advice on writing.  I feel the same about those two literary giants.

This collection is perfect for when you want something to read and don’t have a lot of time. Great for the beach, long traffic lights and the moments right before Master Chef.  Farewell to the Emperor is the longest story and has been divided up so that it won’t throw you off the rhythm established in the previous tales.

Stephens’ style is witty, but not snobby. It is down to earth and speaks in the language of those of us who work hard for our living. The key to that is that he speaks to us not down to us or another us.  He knows the secret of great writers knowing which details to give the readers and which ones to allow readers to build in their own imagination. After the first couple of stories you will start to look for the twist and still won’t see it until the end.  Every story added a sparkle to the evil little grin that resides on my face.

So now, go out, buy this collection and let the wicked smirks begin. As for me, I am investing in some of Stephen other works which are also available on Amazon both in digital and paperback forms.

For more information, please visit his website, Marshall Makes Media.

Day 4 of Gratitude: Poetry & Art

Today, I am honored to present the work of Marshall J. Stephens, friend and writer.  I am grateful for both his friendship and the talent with which he weaves his words.  Enjoy friends and readers.


These are the days when we say
We could have done so much more
The lean days, the poor days
The days where all that’s in the soup is stone

These are the days when we wish
We’d made better use of the time
Cared more carefully for our coin
Ate the scraps instead of trashing them

These are the days of no excuses
No forbearance or delay
The check has come due
Your empty wallet was not consulted

These are the days in which
Focus becomes sharp
Needs shout down wants
And subsistence becomes hope enough

These are the days of empty plates
Just patterns, no crumbs
Bedtime stories end in a full belly, now
And you no longer doubt what you can stomach

These are the lean days
To be followed by finer ones
Where children snicker
At how the old folks worry so

Love, we has it

It’s as if I have the quill and you the pot of ink
and together we write a love story on linen sheets.
Nothing revolutionary,
a tale told and retold since the invention of motion,
but worth repeating none the less;

Nothing is cliche while it’s happening to you.

The first act is all frenetic fingers fumbling
and lips wet and busy,
but the second act goes much deeper.

Repetitious, perhaps, in it’s development
but knowing what comes next
does not dull the impact, the impact, the impact
of the events.

The climax arrives in two meanings and for one moment
the world goes on mute;
There is just you and I and the denouement;
Sentences of only smiles, punctuated by giggles and
beads of of well earned sweat.

It’s as if I have the quill and you the pot of ink
and together we write a love story on linen sheets;
a tale I wish to read over
and over
so long as you are there to relive it with me.

If you wish to read more of Marshall’s work please visit his site. Go ahead, you won’t regret it.