Saturday, May 23, 2020

Zombieland

MOVIE TITLE: Zombieland
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
YEAR: 2009
GENRE: Zombie Apocalypse Comedy
RATING: R for violence and language
GRADE: Pass

As of the year I’m writing this review, which is 2020, the Corona Virus is sweeping the world and killing everyone it comes in contact with. This disease is bringing out the worst in humanity whether it’s violent rage (a la the Michigan anti-lockdown protestors) or deceptive behavior (a la Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen). If this mess keeps up, our world could very well come to an end. Wouldn’t you like a nice fun-filled movie to distract you from it all? That’s where Zombieland comes into play. I don’t want to say this movie was a prophecy back in 2009…but yeah, it was totally a prophecy. Granted, we haven’t gone full-zombie just yet, but the other ramifications have come to fruition thus far. Economic collapse, swindlers, incompetent leadership, and a bunch of cowboys playing with their shotguns. Yep. I’m sure this movie was just a coincidence at the time it was made.

If you think creating believable characters is hard to do within a silly comedy, just take a look at who we’ve got in this particular movie. Columbus wants to find a sense of family whether his biological one still exists or not. Tallahassee wants to munch on Twinkies because he appreciates the little things in life. And he just wants to kill zombies left and right. Cutthroat sisters Wichita and Little Rock want to steal as many resources as they can so that they can party it up at an amusement park in California. What do you notice from all of these character descriptions? They’re motivations. They have something that they’re willing to kill zombies for. Therefore, this is a character-driven zombie story. Didn’t think that was possible, did you? Notice how they’re not scrambling to save the entire world from the zombie apocalypse. They just want to cling onto a sense of normalcy no matter how small or temporary that may be. Isn’t that what we’re doing now with the Corona Virus: looking for something to comfort us? Totally not a prophecy.

I have one tiny little critique for this movie. Why would Columbus continue to trust Wichita and Little Rock after they’ve betrayed him and Tallahassee over and over again? They’re grifters. Deception is all they’re known for. Do they stop grifting by the end of the movie? Who knows? That’s not just me refusing to give spoilers; I actually want to know the answer to that. I guess this could all go back to Columbus wanting a sense of family in his life, so he keeps hoping and praying that the sisters change their ways just for him. Then again, Wichita was a femme fatale and part of that moniker is being seductive, either through attractiveness or just playing mind games. Columbus always wanted to brush a woman’s hair behind her ears. If that’s the case, then this whole movie is just him thinking below his belt. Wichita could burn down an orphanage and Columbus would still want to give her infinite chances. Yes, this is a comedy movie. Yes, Columbus is a dorky college kid. But…come on.

You want clever dialogue from every character involved? You want bloody action and excitement? You want a lesson on how to make believable characters? Ask and you shall receive it all in the form of Zombieland. You’ll get more than a few chuckles here and there. You’ll get a few life lessons that may come in handy as the age of Corona Virus progresses onward. You’ll love Woody Harrelson’s performance as the gun-toting cowboy Tallahassee. You’ll love Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as the spineless dork Columbus. Try not to think too hard about Columbus trusting people a little too easily, especially if they’re overly attractive. This was an enjoyable movie for me and for that reason I’m giving it four out of five stars.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Scotty's Got a Gun

VERSE 1
All the talent in the world couldn’t save his sorry ass
When his sanity and dreams shattered like church glass
Beautiful colors scattered across the wooden floor
Heart of gold tainted and rotten to its frozen core
All the needles and bottles couldn’t erase his pain
All the nights of incest drove him bat shit insane
Calling it love doesn’t change the simple fact
That Scotty’s revolver is about to click-clack

CHORUS
Scotty’s got a gun! X4

VERSE 2
There’re only two choices for the rapist in his bed
Shoot a bullet in her chest or a bullet in her head
Give her one last chance to confess her mortal sins
But she says a prayer like God will actually let her in

CHORUS
Scotty’s got a gun! X4

VERSE 3
No one ever believed a word of Scotty’s story
Except for the parts that were intentionally gory
Matricide is the buzzword that makes the paper
To give that bold headline some extra spicy flavor
A villain to a world that never gave a goddamn
If it didn’t happen young, it would’ve happened as a man
There’s no such thing as a happily ever after
When the whole universe needs some laughter

EXTENDED CHORUS
Scotty’s got one left in the chamber
Scotty’s got some residual anger
Scotty’s got some scorpion venom
Which one of you fuckers wants to go to heaven?!
Scotty’s got a gun! X4

Don't Be a People Pleaser

***DON’T BE A PEOPLE PLEASER***

Yesterday evening, I had to republish four of my books to accommodate for the fact that I removed copyrighted lyrics from them. Even little insignificant snippets of lyrics are enough to violate copyright laws and get an author into hot water. I personally think it’s a bit ridiculous for a music corporation to sue an author for millions of dollars over one line of text, but it is what it is and I had to play by the rules. Copyrighted lyrics have now been eradicated from my entire catalogue. But that’s not why we’re gathered here today, my dearly beloveds, no, no, no, no, no. We’re here to talk about what else was in those books that could be potentially damaging, not in a legal way, but in a social way.

My very first collection of poetry, Confessions of a Schizophrenic Savage, has an Eric Clapton parody called “Retarded Tonight”. I wrote it through the perspective of people who see me as a cartoon character and nothing more. And when you’re a cartoon character, everything about you is hammed up to the extreme. While my poem wasn’t meant to be an attack on mentally disabled people, I can understand if people see it that way and get angry afterwards.

In my second book of poetry, Necrograph, there’s a parody song called “Texas”. On the surface it seems like stereotyping and mockery, but I only wanted to call out people who are so far on the fringe that they become parodies of themselves. Not everyone from Texas acts that way. Not everyone from any other geographic location acts that way either. Pantera is from Texas. Nothing More is from Texas. My favorite indie authors, Christina McMullen, K.L. Cottrell, and Markie Madden, are also from Texas. Quite frankly, I could have changed the name to Fringe Toast and it wouldn’t generate as much controversy. But at the same time, I empathize with people who would be upset by this song.

I’m sure there are other examples in my books of stories and poems I should apologize for. That’s what you have to remember as you go through life as an author: if you unintentionally hurt people, apologize profusely and make peace. It’s a classy move that’s good for all parties. But at the same time, you don’t want to change so much of your approach to creativity that you lose your individuality. I considered removing some of my more offensive material from my books, but if I did that, I’d have no books. Art is subjective. One man’s trash is the next man’s treasure. If you please one person, another gets upset. Bottom line: you can be a warmhearted public figure, but you can’t please everyone. If you try, your work will become so bland that the whole world will hate it.

And that’s why we’re gathered here today, my dearly beloveds. It’s a cautionary tale not to be a people pleaser. Yes, the criticism you receive will hurt badly at times, but the love you receive from others is also valid. The negativity bias and low self-esteem is why some authors become people pleasers. Peace is comfortable. Agreeability is also comfortable. But being TOO comfortable in your own bubble doesn’t allow for personal growth or a courageous reputation. Sometimes you have to be just a little bit offensive in order to get noticed. You don’t have to go full Milo Yiannopoulos, and really, you shouldn’t even consider it, but just be controversial enough that you have a message.

Think of all of your favorite musicians, artists, and writers and how they too dared to be offensive in the face of adversity. What if Marilyn Manson was a people pleaser? What if Roger Waters cared too much what his brutal teachers thought of him? What if George Carlin toned himself down and never got in hot water with the FCC? That would make for a pretty bland world, wouldn’t you agree? Everybody would be wearing the same putty-faced masks Roger Waters introduced in the movie Pink Floyd the Wall. Nobody would laugh at George Carlin. Nobody would have the courage to be themselves if Marilyn Manson didn’t have the courage to be himself.

At the same time, you don’t want to be like a pizza cutter: all edge and no point. Roger Waters, George Carlin, and Marilyn Manson at least had a profound message in their performances. If you write a book with nothing but racial slurs and R-word implications throughout, you probably deserve the wrath of the online mob. Have a purpose. Have something to say even if it’s not the most profound message in the galaxy. Yes, you can write strictly for fun, but if you’re being offensive just for the sake of being offensive and you have nothing to back yourself up, then enjoy your one and two-star reviews, my friend.

Going back to my point about how “Texas” was about fringe people, you also don’t want to be on the fringe when it comes to the people-pleasing/edgy-jerkwad spectrum. A nice, healthy middle ground is what you should look for. If you can’t find it or it’s obvious that you’re not trying to look for it, your audience will notice. They noticed it with books like “Trigger Warning” by William Johnstone. They noticed it with that Dr. Pepper 10 commercial where they say, “It’s not for women.” While it is true that art ages poorly sometimes, it shouldn’t take such a short or instantaneous amount of time to do so.

Be yourself no matter what they say. Some people will like it, some people won’t. In the end, it’s up to you which battles are worth fighting and which ones aren’t. Know when to open fire and know when to lay down your arms with your hands in the sky. It takes practice to do this, but with a little wisdom and a little input from those you love, you can do it. I know you can. Let’s be artists together! I’m Garrison Kelly! Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight!


***LOST WITHOUT YOU***

I’ve talked about this story idea on Face Book and a little bit on Twitter, but not everywhere else. Because I’ve fallen in love with the fan fiction genre after writing “A Little Bit Off” and “No Country For Old Farts”, I want to keep the spirit alive with a story called “Lost Without You”. It’s a Super Street Fighter II based fan fiction and it’ll feature a lesbian romance between Chun Li and Cammy. No, it won’t resemble something you’d see on Porn Hub. The romance will be written in a classy way with three-dimensional character work. I may be offensive sometimes, but I’m not THAT offensive, especially when I know the implications of what could go wrong if I whiff this story. Wish me luck!


***BEAUTIFUL MONSTER***

After a month-long vacation from my editing job, I’ve finally tightened the prose for chapters 14 and 15. It was an easy edit, but not all chapters will be like that, so I tread slowly to make sure I don’t overwhelm myself. Next on the chopping block is chapter 16, where Windham rents a hotel room in Morgan Town and eats hallucinogenic leaves, prompting a conversation between himself and his leonine deity Mageta. Windham may be a misguided zealot sometimes, but Mageta will always provide him with good points. I do so love good conversation even if it’s with a hallucination.


***QUOTE OF THE DAY***

“I’m not a prophet. I was off by 490 years.”

-Mike Judge talking about “Idiocracy”-


***POST-SCRIPT***

Mike Judge is definitely not a people pleaser and he carved out a nice, long, healthy career for himself. I don’t agree with every single one of his views, but I agree that Idiocracy was a fucking awesome movie. Funny as hell!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Zombie Sex

VERSE 1
We need to talk about aliens and lizard men
I don’t even believe nor will I try to pretend
We need to talk about your conspiracy theories
And how you should save them for stories and queries
You can play with my brain like a lump of clay
Just kidding, little lady, there ain’t no fucking way
You believe in the strange, but not a witch’s hex
It was all supposed to lead up to zombie sex
Come here, baby
Zombie sex

VERSE 2
We need to talk about guns and the ammo inside them
And how you wear a big ass trench coat to hide them
Who exactly are you defending your white ass from?
If you need some gas money, I can loan you some
You can spray paint my brains all over the sidewalk
Just kidding, sweetheart, put away the body chalk
You can shoot like a cowboy sheriff named Tex
But I won’t give into your calls for zombie sex
Come here, lovely
Zombie sex

VERSE 3
We need to talk about the k-pop you blast from your speakers
And the trippy techno beats you play for the tweekers
And the hip-hop bass shattering my bedroom windows
If you explode my brain, that would make you a widow
Burn me a copy of what you’ll put on the loop
Just kidding, baby cakes, I like heavy metal groups
You can blow my eardrums on records and tape decks
I won’t change my tastes for a night of zombie sex
Come here, angel
Zombie sex

FINAL VERSE
I march to the beat of my own two bass drums
I won’t conform to you, do you think I’m dumb?
A real lady wouldn’t ask her man to change
Even if it means the love is far out of range
I don’t have the body of an incubus seducer
I just have the mind of a creative producer
When you take that away, what will you take next?
An hour of my time for vanilla zombie sex?
No way, baby
No zombie sex this time
No way, sweetheart
No tradeoff for my mind

Sunday, May 3, 2020

No Country For Old Farts


Dr. Wily finally had Mega Man right where he wanted him. The mad scientist had to admit his foe had serious mechanical balls for scaling his skull tower to the tippy-top. All the metal dragons that breathed fire on him. All the construction helmet gizmos that frustrated the hell out of him with their cheap tactics.

And yes, all of Dr. Wily’s maverick hunters had another shot at their blue-suited rival, whether it was Elec Man zapping him into next week, Bomb Man blasting everything to pieces, or Guts Man throwing hunks of metal at Mega Man with the ease of snowballs. Even after all of that, Mega Man was rocking and rolling with his arm cannon charged up and aimed directly at Dr. Wily’s massive robotic horse.

The mad scientist’s poofy white hair and lab coat blew backwards in the breeze created by his fired missiles. Mega Man blasted nearly all of them out of the sky except for one that exploded right up his “iron diaper wearing ass”. Dr. Wily pulled a few levers and had the horse breathe more flames onto Mega Man. And then more missiles were fired. And then electrical bolts shot out of the horse’s eyes.

Mega Man’s wires and pieces were jutting out of his wrecked body, especially his now crippled legs which wouldn’t take him to safety anymore. He laid there in a pile of metal and mechanical shit waiting to be squashed by the robotic horse’s hooves. Dr. Wily’s eyes beamed with deranged excitement. He smiled the creepiest pedophile smile he could. He rubbed his hands together as he prepped to deal the final blow to his lifelong rival. And then…

“Wily…Wily…WILY!”

That final cadence awakened him right as he was ready to stomp on the last remaining pieces of Mega Man’s battered body. Only he didn’t achieve victory. The only violent mess he caused was in his bed, puke covering his moustache, beard, and what passed for clean white sheets in this hellhole of an elderly prison. Dr. Wily gazed around with puffy red eyes and knew full well he had woken up into another nightmare. He was no longer the vile, cunning mad scientist that the world had grown to fear. His robotic warriors had since been blasted into scrap metal…and he had since been committed to a retirement home to live out the rest of his miserable existence, complete with a thin body and a sensitive stomach.

Dr. Wily’s stomach was the only sensitive part about living in this white-walled shithole. The overweight nurse with a pugnacious mug, crossed arms, and thinning blond hair could be described with any word but sensitive. Nurse Cassie North stood over his bed with a disgusted scowl on her face and fists balled so tightly they could snap anybody’s neck. The broken down mad scientist could do nothing in her presence but cower under the puke-laden blankets.

Cassie ripped off the sheets and revealed a trembling eighty year old in striped red pajamas underneath. She leaned in and growled, “What did I tell you about making my job harder than it has to be?” No response, just more shaking from Dr. Wily. She continued, “You think I enjoy cleaning up your disgusting puke? You think that makes me happy? I could be at home right now with my kids. I could just leave your ass here to die and feed you nothing at all. Is that what you want?” Still no response. She grabbed his arm with skin-purpling tightness and rolled up his sleeve, holding a hypodermic needle with the other hand.

“No! Leave me alone! You can’t do this to me!” quivered Dr. Wily as he squirmed in a vain attempt to get away.

“HOLD STILL, GODDAMN IT!” He did. “Your days of being a terrorist douche bag are over, old man. This ain’t no country for old farts. I don’t have time for your precious little pipe dreams. You’re not a doctor. You’re a broken down piece of amphibian shit! Now stay still while I jab this motherfucker in your arm. Don’t make me force it in you this time.”

Cassie and Dr. Wily had different ideas of what constituted force. He screamed for a bit once the needle was jabbed in his arm, but then relaxed in his messy bed drooling and teary-eyed.

“There we go. Nice and comfy. Maybe this time you’ll have dreams about making my life a little easier here at this dump of a nursing home. God, I can’t wait to retire. You little piece of shit.” Cassie stomped out of the room and left Dr. Wily to drain his eyes and saliva glands even further, numb state and all.

This was how things were going to end for Dr. Wily. He was a broken shell of his former self. He went from creating the most threatening robotic warriors the world had ever seen to wallowing in his own biological sludge. Never again would he have a shot at defeating Mega Man and achieving world domination. Never again would he be feared as the iron-fisted badass he once was. If he would have led a clean life free of violence and terror, would he still end up in this crappy nursing home? Would he still be subjected to the same white walls, the same boring schedule, the same dementia, and the same sloppy food that reminded him too much of what he was laying in currently?

A loud bang interrupted his glazed-over thoughts and widened his droopy eyes. “Could it be?” he asked nobody in particular. “Are they here?...No…nobody’s coming for me. Why would they? Just kill me already…Just let me die peacefully…”

“That’s not an option, Master Wily,” said a tough feminine voice. This voice wasn’t as husky or brutal as Cassie North’s was. It at least had some tenderness to it. Was it another nasty-tempered nurse? Was it someone finally coming to put him out of his misery? No. Dr. Wily opened his eyes and saw the voice came from his own creation, Stardust Woman. There she stood; six feet of metallic beauty, complete with an arm cannon, star-shaped armor, and the most lovely red eyes a robot could possibly have.

Standing next to Stardust Woman was another creation of Dr. Wily: Slaughter Man. Judging from his navy blue Viking armor, massive spiked hammer, and bulky body, it must have been him who created the loud thrashing noise. The walls were definitely cracked and shattered enough. Why weren’t the other patients screaming in horror? Were they so out of it that they couldn’t feel fear anymore, just like Dr. Wily himself?

Slaughter Man held his hammer high in the air and proudly declared, “We’re here to break you out of here, Master! We still have a chance at defeating that squirmy little bastard Mega Man!”

“…I’m sorry…” wheezed Dr. Wily. “I can’t make it anymore. I don’t want to fight Mega Man again. I’m aching all over. I’m tired as hell. Can you just do me a favor and smash me over the head with your hammer? I don’t want to live anymore.”

Stardust Woman scowled at Dr. Wily and folded her arms, just like Cassie did earlier, but with more concern in her posture and voice. “What happened to you, Master? This isn’t the Dr. Wily who built us with his own genius. You’re going to give up just like that? We’re practically gifting you an exit from this place. You can at least live out the rest of your days in your laboratory. Anything is better than this dump.”

“…You’re…you’re not even real…neither are you, Slaughter Man…I’m dreaming again…If Cassie catches me dreaming again…she’ll beat me…”

Slaughter Man pointed his hammer at his broken master and shouted, “Who gives a shit what that fat whore thinks?! Give me five minutes alone with her and I’ll smash her body all over the goddamn floor! You’re worth a hundred of her, Master Wily!”

“…No, I’m not…I’m worthless…I’m going to die anyways…I could never beat Mega Man before…and I can’t do it now…Please…just leave me here to die…Don’t drag this out any further than it has to be dragged out…”

As Slaughter Man growled and seethed in the background, Stardust Woman sauntered over to Dr. Wily and held his frail, bony hand in hers. Not even that would restart the old man’s heart, but hopefully her words would. “Let me tell you something about Cassie North and the rest of these sycophantic nurses and orderlies. They’re tough when it comes to dealing with fragile old people, but once they come face to face with a couple of your creations, all the courage is gone. Cassie North will sing a different tune once she sees what we’ve got for her.”

Just when Dr. Wily formed the tiniest smile, when the smallest glimmer of hope shined in his damp eyes, a meaty hand grabbed Stardust Woman by the skull and slammed it against Slaughter Man’s oversized head, dizzying both robots. Cassie put both of them in headlocks and held them there while she berated Dr. Wily some more.

“What did I tell you about your silly fantasies, old man? They don’t mean shit here. Your robots are just glorified tin cans. And you? You’re mediocre at best and a shit stain at worst. You terrorized the planet and failed. I’ll be damned if you fuck with my vacation!” She slammed Stardust Woman and Slaughter Man’s heads together again…and again…and again…each time drawing scratchy shrieks from their now former master. Once they were dizzy enough, Cassie heaved Slaughter Man’s hammer like it was nothing and smashed his heavy chest in with repeated blows. Stardust Woman fired off lasers from her cannon, but was obviously too disoriented to aim correctly. Cassie jerked her cannon arm behind her back and fired lasers up her ass, dismantling her with a war scream.

Dr. Wily cried one more time as he watched the last of his creations get easily wrecked by an ordinary woman. Maybe there was some truth in her painful rhetoric. Maybe he was deserving of the insults. Maybe dying was the only answer after all. Cassie seemed to agree as she breathed heavily and marched over to the foot of the bed after discarding the robots’ bodies like the junk they ended up being.

“I am tired of your horseshit, Doctor, and I use that title loosely. You need to know when to give up. You need to conform just like every other sad sap in this nursing home. If not, I could just kill you and write you off as natural causes. I’m sure the head doctor wouldn’t mind, the REAL doctor, by the way. Face it, Wily: you can’t win. You never could. Your imagination is shit, just like whatever’s in your pajama pants.”

Dr. Wily gazed his sore eyeballs at the needle in Cassie’s belt. Surely, that would be enough to put him down and end this madness once and for all. He had nothing left to lose. His soul was gone. His robots were trash. His mind was deteriorating with images of Cassie North mocking him with her angry tone. It was his time to go and let Mega Man escape with yet another victory.

“If it’s my time to go…and I can’t take my creations with me…I’ll find something else to take to the grave…” Wily snorted and sniffed.

“And what would that be?”

“…Your dead ass!” Using his last bit of elderly strength, Dr. Wily pulled the needle from Cassie’s belt and stabbed her in the throat with it, pressing down on the plunger afterwards. Cassie sang a different tune, alright. Her eyes bulged with the horror of her own mortality. Her mouth bled buckets. Her husky grizzly bear voice was nonexistent. Her thick legs could no longer hold her even thicker body.

Once she dropped to the linoleum ground, Dr. Wily’s mind went from empty to insane as he looked into her dying eyes. This wasn’t dementia overriding his “mediocre” creativity. This was a full on stream of rage. He got out of bed and kneeled beside her, pulling the needle out with savage force. He stabbed her in the throat again. And in the eyes. And in the face. He stabbed her over and over again until she was unrecognizable. No longer was he the silly scientist who always lost. He finally did something with his life worth commending: ridding the world of someone who was more villainous than he was.

He kept stabbing and stabbing as other orderlies rushed to save their fallen friend. They pulled him off of her and he just went limp with a smile on his face. Slaughter Man and Stardust Woman were never there to begin with, hence why the white walls were still whole. As Dr. Wily was no doubt being dragged to his death, it didn’t bother him that his work was incomplete. There were more orderlies and nurses here that deserved a brutal stabbing. All Dr. Wily could do was send a message to everybody here: the real villains weren’t the mad scientists and kooky robots. They were the humans who pretended to be more than pond scum. Dr. Wily was okay with that.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Whoppers


You like to jerk it off to The Human Centipede
Shake your ass to Green Day’s “Know Your Enemy”
Give lap dances at your local retirement home
Knickknack, paddywack, eat your doggie’s bone
What’s the matter? You don’t like being defamed?
Don’t like shouldering someone else’s blame?
I heard that before, in fact, a million times over
Welcome to the world and its New World Odor
For every double whopper you’ve got about me
I’ve got a thousand more on you, bless creativity
You burglarize houses with a Darth Vader mask
“Use the force” and those who can’t even ask
But your light saber is the size of a toothpick
When it’s time to get it on, you’re fucking useless
You made a donation to the Humane Society
But it was criminal restitution for being rapey
You had to sell your collection of celebrity condoms
To make up for the debt and cut your own losses
Let’s upgrade that double whopper to a size triple
You get your cereal’s milk from your grandma’s nipple
Let’s go quadruple on your heart attack whopper
Or is this where you finally call the crime stoppers?
I wish I had that option when you lied about me
Freedom of speech has never been completely free
Maybe I’ll get you a ball gag for Christmas this year
Stick it in your mouth until the truth is loud and clear
I’ll get you some handcuffs for a stocking stuffer
No access to your keyboard, you’re grounded by mother
I know this all sounds a little creepy and kinky
But it keeps your bullshit from getting too stinky

Saturday, April 25, 2020

"Kind of Like Life" by Christina McMullen


BOOK TITLE: Kind of Like Life
AUTHOR: Christina McMullen
YEAR: 2014
GENRE: Fiction
SUBGENRE: Psychological Fantasy
GRADE: Extra Credit

When you put The Matrix and fantasy elements in a milkshake blender and mix them together, you get a delicious treat from Christina McMullen called “Kind of Like Life”. You start the book thinking it’s going to be a utopian love story. Everything that can go right for Renee Ward does go right. And then the world around her is revealed to be a lie. The reality of it all is horrifying as hell. Can she wake up from her nightmare long enough to make things right in the real world? That’s a question you’ll be asking yourself throughout your entire reading adventure. You don’t know what the solution to these problems will be, so nothing is predictable. Hell, you’re not even sure if a happy ending was meant to exist. I love surprises and I love plot twists. Christina McMullen delivers on both of those fronts, which is part of the reason her book is getting five out of five stars.

Another reason why she gets that grade is because the entire book is a celebration of creativity and imagination, a break from the ordinary. Genres can bend at the drop of a hat. One minute you’re in a lush faerie forest full of magic, phoenixes and wonder. Another minute you’re in a Wild West desert being chased by a sheriff and his posse. And then you’re flying through space unleashing pew-pew lasers upon other spaceships that want to gun you down and watch you burn. You know how people say that imagination has no limits? Neither does this book. Crossing genres is creative in and of itself, but telling a cohesive story with compelling characters to keep it from being shallow? That takes a lot of skill and Christina McMullen has that in spades.

Speaking of compelling characters, how can you not like the chemistry between Renee Ward and the man who rescues her from the cracking utopia, Blake Carter. They start off being suspicious of each other and sometimes annoyed at their presences. But the more they learn about each other, the closer they become. Blake’s past of being abused by his parents isn’t just an empty attempt to make him appear sympathetic. It’s a trust builder and it ties into the story in a way that sensitively deals with such a traumatic topic. The descriptions of the abuse he went through and how his parents got away with it Scot free are heartbreaking to read about. I came within a hair of shedding some tears for this scene. Renee Ward doesn’t necessarily have to heal Blake through her relationship with him, but she does understand his pain and she does handle his trauma in a delicate way. Does he want to talk about it? Does he want to avoid the subject? Renee is there for him either way. These two characters don’t complete each other; they complement each other. That’s the stuff healthy relationships are built on. We need more of this in fiction today.

This book has an uncanny ability to play with your brain like silly putty as you try to piece together the puzzle of the plot or wrestle with your emotions through all of the heartache. I like being surprised. I like having my darkest emotions triggered. I also like having my lighthearted emotions triggered as well. There’s something for everyone in this novel. You want a thriller? You’ve got one. You want fantasy? It’s all yours. You want a psychological rollercoaster? Have at it. As I’ve said before, “Kind of Like Life” deserves a five out of five star rating for being everything I wanted it to be and more. I know full well that anybody else who picks up this book will have the same glowing opinion. Christina McMullen is awesome like that. It makes me look forward to reading other novels in her catalog as well.