Back with a vengeance, sorta. Here are three recent reads for the month of December. I actually read them in November, but holiday pie and leftovers don’t eat themselves, so I recovered from my sugar and carb overload refusing to leave the couch to type out reviews. Please enjoy and if you find any of my reviews interesting, buy the damn book and give it a read. Help a fellow author out by reading and reviewing or simply pick up an indie book and read for the enjoyment of it all. Listed below are the reviews and any information such as links to both Amazon and Goodreads where applicable. Enjoy!
Dead World by K. Z. Howell
Fast fantasy read, potential reality.
In Dead World by K. Z. Howell, a fast thrill ride of fantasy meets a possible threat from reality in the form of a biological attack that forces the world to take notice. In this non-stop page-turner, secrets become truths, and the very survival of the human race hangs in the balance setting the stage for possible future installments.
Howell delivers bringing the escalating fear and panic right from the start and is unrelenting as he brings his readers on a trip amid a growing catastrophe that consumes all with its influence. Readers will no doubt find the nod to disaster films and books even before Howell switches gears with detailed page after page blending chaos with care, military and civilian life, freedom and death. Managing to juggle multiple characters forced into precarious positions, Howell covers the doomsday prepper survivalist vibe brilliantly within a rapidly dissolving societal structure that includes interesting friends, past haunts, future problems, and devilish foes. Amid the devastation, Howell peppers his writing with enough backstory to allow readers to feel for those struggling to live, hoping for salvation, and fighting forces to figure it all out while never letting up with his starting pace.
One-part apocalyptic disaster movie, and one-part survival guide about living in the aftermath of a global crisis, Howell brings the action and what ifs, the possibilities, and the secrets working in the shadows. While there are some editing errors throughout that some readers may feel detract from being completely pulled into Howell’s nitty gritty thrill-ride, and some of the character journeys could have included a little more fleshing out/give and take, Dead World is begging for a film adaptation and worth the read.
Lonely Hearts: A Short Story by Patricia Correll
Coming in around 30 pages, Lonely Hearts: A Short Story by Patricia Correll hooks right from the start and delivers in this wickedly simple love story. A cat and mouse story for the ages, Correll brilliantly showcases the working minds of two random strangers looking for love in all the wrong places and shines a light on the dark crevices not normally shown in one’s quest for romance.
With details and imagery aplenty, Correll expertly guides her readers on a twisted tale that offers little snippets of information as to her real intentions from the beginning before eventually flipping the lid open on her creation and letting it run wild toward its exhilarating climax. Taking place in a rustic setting this horror/mystery reads and feels like an episode of Tales from the Crypt mixed with hints of War of the Roses if said movie had been set way back when on a farm and it doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Sinister and sexy, complex and deceptively easy-going, Lonely Hearts is a win/win. Swipe right on this read, it does not disappoint.
Spiritless but actually not by Kyle Mitchell
Set adrift in a sea of nihilism.
In Spiritless but actually not, Kyle Mitchell proves his writing does have merit even if some of the work within becomes muddled in its broad attempt to paint a larger picture and keep readers on track to its main purpose. Collecting several singular stories as chapters, Spiritless isn’t without its slivers of pure genius and bright lights shone on brutal truths but individual impacts that can tie everything together are lost amongst the Pollock-like tapestry at play here as too many different directions vie for supremacy. It comes off as if some ideas were flawlessly delivered to readers while others were a mishmash of jotted-down sentences, clever wordplay, broken dialogue, and wayward thoughts that kept the greater appeal and understanding elusive and cloudy when pinning down exactly what it wanted to be detracting from wide range appeal of the entire work versus only a few chapters.
What Mitchell does do well, however, is showcase the human experience from the nihilistic viewpoint that was evident in more than one chapter as it ebbed and flowed from clarity to confusion and back again. It is within this philosophical approach that the broken, the damaged, the intrusive thoughts kept at bay, and the trauma of life entangled around every step of those within his work are displayed via the good, the bad, and the indifferent. When it worked, it did so brilliantly. Added chapter art helped to invoke specific feelings as did the inevitable gut-wrenching introspection for many of Mitchell’s protagonists.
Desperation, self-destruction, and loneliness all walk hand in hand with friends, enemies, lovers, strangers, and those left behind with each chapter story but there are times when Spiritless’s desire to be something deeper and more insightful loses its impact for artistic editing choices, flourishes of absurdity, garishness, and drive to mess with readers’ heads in its mostly bleak and unapologetic delivering of material.
While not for everyone, Mitchell does deliver the goods with his aim of delivering a collection of stories featuring people with varied perceptions of the world around them. Reading like a fever dream meets a bad acid trip, Spiritless makes sense one minute and becomes a bumpy slurry of perversion and jumbled stuttering the very next. There are highs, and there are lows, but the experience may very well be worth the price of admission.