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#TuesdayBookBlog MOUNTAIN CLIMBING WITH DINOSAURS by Doug Goodman (@DougGoodman1). Anything is improved by adding a dinosaur, or more!

Hi all:

Here I bring you a book that’s not one of my usual, but I needed something to keep my mind entertained…

Mountain Climbing With Dinosaurs by Doug Goodman

Rise up. Take the next handhold. Stretch your fingers as far as they can go. Hundreds of feet above the ground, don’t look down. Keep climbing. There are dinosaurs nearby, hiding in the cracks and holes of this ugly mountain wall. New Profanity Peak, they call it. These nightmarish creatures may remind you of the mass shooting you survived and your dead friends, but don’t stop moving. Keep pushing upward. Rise up. Memorialize your fallen friends. When the big wall reduces to smooth glass, dig deep. When it shows you an impossible overhang, find a way around it, but hurry. Dimorphodons are called the Wolves of the Sky for a reason. Climb faster. Claw your way out of that deep dark pit in your soul, the one that knows the truth about the mass shooting. Don’t slip. Don’t fall. Don’t. Look. Down. And rise up.

https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Climbing-Dinosaurs-Doug-Goodman-ebook/dp/B085KYM3NJ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mountain-Climbing-Dinosaurs-Doug-Goodman-ebook/dp/B085KYM3NJ/

https://www.amazon.es/Mountain-Climbing-Dinosaurs-Doug-Goodman-ebook/dp/B085KYM3NJ/

Author Doug Goodman

About the author:

Hi! My name is Doug Goodman. I live in Houston but I was raised in Lubbock, Texas. I’m an animal writer. It doesn’t matter if the animals I write about are zombie-hunting dogs, dinosaurs, or giant kaiju monsters, I’m interested in that area where animals and humans intersect. I’m especially curious about the mind meld that happens with working animals. This is my point of view for examining human nature, and why I enjoy writing these books so much.

My website (dgoodman1.wordpress.com) says I’m a writer and an explorer. My wife and I are “often” travelers. Thanks to my work, I sometimes get the opportunity to visit extraordinary people in out-of-the-way places. In recent years I’ve explored parts of the Navajo Nation, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and I did a mesmerizing 20-state roadtrip with my supportive family. I’ve been to all but four states in the United States.

I live with two awesome kids (though one is having her own adventures in college), one amazing wife, and two white German Shepherds. Thank you for stopping by, and please check out one of my books. (They are all available from Amazon as paperbacks and e-books.) Since mid-2019, I’ve been donating twenty percent of my proceeds to charity. If you want to see where I donate, I update my donations via my blog.

https://www.amazon.com/Doug-Goodman/e/B00IHF1I8S/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is my first book by Goodman, and it was a ride on the wild side.  I suspect it won’t be the last of his books I read, either.

OK, from the title you probably guessed that the book is about mountain climbing. Check! It also has dinosaurs. Check! I chose the book because I thought that, in the current situation (Coronavirus, I’m talking about you again), I needed something that would grab my attention and  keep it away from what has become a reality that feels like a badly written dystopian novel. And yes, it did that, for sure, but it also did much more than that. I know very little about mountain climbing, and I’ve only attempted to climb a climbing wall once in my life (climbing wasn’t a problem, but I didn’t like the ropes and wasn’t good at handling them, in case you wonder), but I’m always intrigued by mountaineering adventures, and well, dinosaurs. I couldn’t resist the combination. But the back story of the climb was fascinating in its own right. The description only refers to it in passing, but the two twins who are the main protagonists of the story (Travis and Brady), are doing it for a very good reason. They have been climbers since they were children, recently survived a school shooting, and are doing the climb in remembrance of their dead schoolmates. Thirteen of their friends died in the shooting, and they’ve decided to climb thirteen mountains and leave a memorial on top of each one of the mountains, one of each of their friends. The book manages to touch on survivor’s guilt, and also on the feelings of those indirectly involved in the shootings, relatives of victims and perpetrators, while at the same time keeping the focus on the climbing and the dinosaurs (and these are not the friendly kind, believe me). It keeps a good balance between pure adventures and more serious topics, and although at times the most technical aspects of the mountain climbing got lost to me, that didn’t impede my enjoyment of the story. I don’t want to go into the plot too much, because although some of it you can probably imagine, there are subtler aspects that are best left for readers to discover.

I have talked about some of the themes of the book. The dinosaurs, that I guess will be one of the main attractions of the book, are not the best-known and most familiar to the general public, and the creatures, that in this story have been brought back to life by Big Pharma, seem well –researched (although I’m no authority on dinosaurs). Not being an expert in mountain climbing, as I said, I cannot judge how accurate the techniques and equipment mentioned are, but they rang true to me, and I again think the research has paid off. The book also deals in themes that I was more familiar with, like the psychological aftermath of a school shooting, and it does so with a fine touch and sensitivity. Although the writing style is completely different, it reminded me of Hunter Shea’s Creature. That also made me think that although the dinosaurs are “real” within the book, they could also be read as symbolising what the twins are going through, and so could some of the other strange events that happen within the novel (and I’ll keep my peace about that as well).

This is not a book with many characters, and most of the action is narrated in the first person by one of the twin climbers, Travis, so we get a very direct perspective on what is going on, and an insight into how he sees events, and also how he remembers the things that happened, and his understanding of his brothers’ actions and feelings. We also get some short inserts where the cameraman interviews relatives and friends of the twins, to help him create the documentary of the climb. These characters are not part of the action, but those fragments offer us a different and larger perspective into the twins, and also into their background and their previous stories. The two twins are the main characters, although the filmmaker and the photographer also play a small part in the main action. But there are other characters that also pertain in the story, because their memory is very much alive, and those are some of the other victims of the shooting, and though we don’t get to know them all individually, we feel them there every step of the climb. The dinosaurs are also characters, and we get enough information about them to get a good sense of their different outlooks and characteristics. I wouldn’t want any of them as pets, believe me!

The writing style is direct, and easy to follow (apart from the use of specific mountain climbing terminology at times), and there is enough description of the mountain, the climbing techniques, and the dinosaurs to allow readers to get a clear picture in their minds (yes, it would make a great movie, if the special effects were done well). There are some instances of telling rather than showing, necessary to provide the information general readers would need to understand the action and the behaviour of the dinosaurs, but they do not interfere with the flow of the story. As I said, most of the novel is written in the first-person, and I know some readers don’t like it, but I thought it suited it well. Some scenes are quite violent and graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend it to squeamish readers. As I always say, I’d recommend future readers to check a sample of the novel and see if they think the style suits their taste.

The ending is suitable to the genre of the book —I don’t think anybody would expect a conventional happy ending—, but I thought it worked well, considering the story and the events. And yes, the epilogue was very fitting. A quick word of warning. The story only occupies 90% of the e-book, and it’s followed by a teaser from another book, although I confess I wouldn’t mind reading Demon Flyer at all.

A solid read, with its scary moments (it did remind me of Jaws at times), and a deeper and more meaningful story than most readers would expect from the title. It demonstrates that any book can be improved by the introduction of a dinosaur or a few.  Recommended to lovers of mountain climbing, dinosaurs, and to readers looking for creature horror with a bit of backstory and depth.

I’d suggest to the writer and publishers the inclusion of a list of mountain climbing terminology, with links, and also a list of the dinosaurs and their characteristics, as that would avoid distractions and enrich the reading experience.

Thanks to Rosie and her amazing team, thanks to the author, and thanks to you for reading. Remember to keep safe and always, keep positive and smile!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog HIGHWAY TWENTY by Michael J Moore (@MichaelJMoore20) #RBRT Creature horror with a nostalgic feel

Hi all:

I bring you a horror novel that made me think of many movies and series I’ve loved over the years.

Cover of Highway Twenty by Michael J Moore
Highway Twenty by Michael J Moore

Highway Twenty by Michael J Moore

An engineer from out of town disappears. Then Conor Mitchell’s girlfriend. Then his parents. The townspeople of Sedrow Woolley, Washington are vanishing at a horrifying rate. But they come back. They all come back days later, and they’re different.  Hungry.  Insectile.  Creatures posing as humans.

Because Conor knows the truth, and because the entire police force has already been changed, and because there’s nowhere to run from an evil that only wants to spread, his sole option is to fight. But they have no intention of letting him leave town.

https://www.amazon.com/Highway-Twenty-Michael-J-Moore/dp/1948318806/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highway-Twenty-Michael-J-Moore/dp/1948318806/
https://www.amazon.es/Highway-Twenty-Michael-J-Moore/dp/1948318806/

Author Michael J. Moore

About the author:

I have worked as a personal trainer for many years. I live in Washington State. My spare time is spent searching the darkest corners of my mind for whatever horrors, oddities, or fascinations may have found their way in, begging expression in my unique literary voice.

Also, I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and impressed by the influence it has on people and the decisions they make in life. I love engaging with the projects I work on, diving headfirst into the research, investigation, and production of stories I feel are worth writing about. I am a curious and proactive Author.

My other published book is the bestselling, young adult novel, After the Change (MKM Bridge Press) which has been adopted as curriculum at the University of Washington.  My work has received an Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, has appeared in Blood Moon Rising Magazine, The Horrorzine Magazine, Schlock Magazine, Terror House Magazine, Siren’s Call Magazine,  Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine, The Electric Press and this year is set to appear in Terror Tales Magazine, Horror Tree – Trembling with Fear, and various anthologies.

Links:
https://michaeljmoorewriti.wixsite.com/website
https://www.facebook.com/michaeljmoorewriting
https://twitter.com/MichaelJMoore20
https://instagram.com/michaeljmoorewriting
https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-moore-28b800178/

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-J-Moore/e/B07N8CS23D/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is the first book by this author I’ve read (no, he is not “the” Michael Moore we have all heard about), and I was attracted by the description and the genre. It reminded me of TV series and movies I’d enjoyed, and it delivered on its promise.

I think the description shares enough information for most readers to get a good sense of what the story is about. I guess readers of horror would classify it as “creature” horror, and as I read it, quite a number of titles, mostly of movies and TV series, came to my mind: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, V, Slither, Star Trek’s The Borg, The Blob, and a novella I read a while back that I thoroughly enjoyed, Broken Shells. Although I love horror, the more I read in this genre, the more I realise I haven’t read yet, and I must admit not having read many in this subgenre, so I am not sure what its usual fans would think, or how original they would find it. As I said, for me it brought to mind some aspects of many movies and TV series I had watched, and it grabbed my attention and kept me reading. Is it scary? It’s creepy, and rather than making one jump or scream, imagining what it would be like to fall victim to these creatures is the stuff of nightmares and it will keep playing in one’s mind.

This book is pretty action driven, with short scenes that keep the story moving, and although like many stories about alien invasion they can be read in a variety of ways, and they seem to pick up on underlying fears (issues of identity, what is true and what is not, what makes us what we are, illnesses and epidemics, the end of the world…), the book does not delve too deep into any of those and it never makes openly acknowledges such connections, or veers into conspiracy theory terrain. It is just what it is, and that’s pretty refreshing.

Although the book follows a number of characters, the two main characters are Conor Mitchell —a man in his early twenties, who loves his car, enjoys his job as a mechanic, has a sort of girlfriend, some family issues, and does not appear to be hero material—, and Percly, the town’s homeless man, who sleeps in a disused train and does not bother anybody. The figure of the reluctant hero is a common trope in literature, and particularly prominent in American Literature, and these two are prime examples of it. They are thrown into a critical situation, and by a fluke of fate, both of them seem to be in a better position than most to fight the creatures. We learn more about them both as the story progresses, and they are fairly likeable, although, as I said, not standard heroes. We get snippets of other characters during the story, but due to the nature of the story, we don’t get a chance to learn much about them, and other than because many of them end up being victims of the events, we hardly have time to feel attached or even sorry for them.

The story is narrated in the third person, from alternating points of view. In fact, this is what most made me think of movies and TV series in this genre when I was reading this novel, because suddenly there would be a chapter where a new character would be introduced, and we would follow them for a while, learning how they feel about things, and perhaps thinking they would become a major player in the story, only for the rug to be pulled from under our feet. Yes, nobody is safe, and like in movies where a murderer picks at characters and kills them one by one, here although some of the characters keep “returning”, and we even peep into the minds of the creatures, we are not allowed to get comfortable in our seats. Readers need to be attentive, as the changes in point of view, although clearly marked, can be quite sudden. Ah, and I must admit the prologue is fantastic. For all the advice on writing books against including a prologue, Moore here clearly demonstrates that when used well, they can drag readers into the story, kicking and screaming, and keep them firmly hooked.

I’ve mentioned the short scenes and the cinematic style of writing. There are no long descriptions, and although there is plenty of creepy moments, and some explicit content, in my opinion the author plays more with the psychological aspects of fear, the fact that we don’t know who anybody is and what is real and what is not, and he is excellent at making readers share in the confusion of the main characters, and in their uncertainty about what to do next. Run, fight, hide? Although there is the odd moment of reflection, that allows readers to catch their breath a bit and also helps fill in some background details about the characters, mostly the book moves at a fast pace, and it will keep lovers of the genre turning the pages.

The ending is particularly interesting. I enjoyed it, and it ends with a bang, as it should, but there is also an epilogue that puts things into perspective, and it works in two ways: on the one hand, it fills in the gaps for readers who prefer a closed ending with everything settled; on the other, it qualifies the ending of the story, putting an ambiguous twist on it. (And yes, I liked the epilogue as well).

All in all, this is an action book, with fairly solid characters who although are not by-the-book heroes are easy to warm to, with a somewhat disorienting and peculiar style of narration that enhances the effect of the story on the reader. I’d recommend it to those who love creature horror, and to people not too squeamish, who enjoy B-series movies, and who love to be kept on their toes. An author to watch.

Thanks to Rosie and all the members of her group, thanks to the author for this novel full of fun and chills, thanks to all of you for reading, writing, commenting, liking, sharing, and never forget to keep smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE RESURRECTIONISTS (THE SALEM HAWLEY SERIES BOOK 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks (@MikeH5856). Creature/cosmic horror, a great protagonist, and a fascinating historical setting #horror

Hi all:

I bring you an impressive horror novella by an author I already reviewed a while back. I know some of you dislike horror but…

The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series Book 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks
The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series Book 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks

The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series Book 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks

Having won his emancipation after fighting on the side of the colonies during the American Revolution, Salem Hawley is a free man. Only a handful of years after the end of British rule, Hawley finds himself drawn into a new war unlike anything he has ever seen.

New York City is on the cusp of a new revolution as the science of medicine advances, but procuring bodies for study is still illegal. Bands of resurrectionists are stealing corpses from New York cemeteries, and women of the night are disappearing from the streets, only to meet grisly ends elsewhere.

After a friend’s family is robbed from their graves, Hawley is compelled to fight back against the wave of exhumations plaguing the Black cemetery. Little does he know, the theft of bodies is key to far darker arts being performed by the resurrectionists. If successful, the work of these occultists could spell the end of the fledgling American Experiment… and the world itself.

The Resurrectionists, the first book in the Salem Hawley series, is a novella of historical cosmic horror from the author of Broken Shells and Mass Hysteria

https://www.amazon.com/Resurrectionists-Salem-Hawley-Book-ebook/dp/B07S3RWLKN/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Resurrectionists-Salem-Hawley-Book-ebook/dp/B07S3RWLKN/

https://www.amazon.es/Resurrectionists-Salem-Hawley-Book-ebook/dp/B07S3RWLKN/

Author Michael Patrick Hicks

About the author:

MICHAEL PATRICK HICKS is the author of a number of speculative fiction titles. His debut novel, Convergence, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. His most recent work is the horror novel, Mass Hysteria.

He has written for the Audiobook Reviewer and Graphic Novel Reporter websites, in addition to working as a freelance journalist and news photographer.

In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

To stay up to date on his latest releases, join his newsletter, memFeed: http://bit.ly/1H8slIg

Website: http://www.michaelpatrickhicks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authormichaelpatrickhicks

Twitter: @MikeH5856

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Patrick-Hicks/e/B00ILI4XLK/

My review:

Wow! I read and reviewed another novella by Michael Patrick Hicks not so long ago (or at least it remains very fresh in my mind, you can check my review here), and I’d read great reviews for this novella as well, so I knew it would be good. In this novella, like in the previous one, the author manages to pack great (and pretty scary) action scenes, to create characters we care for, and to bring depth into the proceedings, with a great deal of sharp social commentary, all in a small number of pages.

This novella also combines elements from a large number of genres, and it does it well. Yes, it is horror (and “cosmic” horror fits it well) but that’s only the beginning. We have historical fiction (the 1788 Doctor’s riot, which took place in New York as a result of the actions of a number of medical students and their professors, known as Ressurrectionists [hence the title), who robbed graves to get bodies for study and experimentation, disproportionately those of African-Americans, was the inspiration for the whole series, as the author explains in the back matter); elements of gothic horror (fans of Frankenstein should check this novella out); some of the experiments brought to mind steam-punk, there are monsters and creatures (Lovecraftians will definitely have a field day); a grimoire written in an ancient  language with fragments of translations that brings the occult into the story (and yes, secret societies as well)… All this in the historical background of the years following the American War of Independence, characters traumatised by what they had lived through, and an African-American protagonist, Salem Hawley, who has to deal with the added trauma of past slavery on top of everything else.

The story is narrated in the third person, mostly from Hawley’s point-of-view, although we also get to see things from the perspective of some of the less savoury characters (not that anybody is whiter than snow here, and that ambiguity makes them all the more real), and it is a page turner, with set action pieces and scenes difficult to forget. The rhythm of the language helps ramp up the tension and the frenzy of some of the most memorable battle scenes (we have memories of real battles and also battles against… oh, you’ll have to read it to see), which will be very satisfying to readers who love creature/monster horror. There are also some metaphysical and contemplative moments, but those do not slow down the action, providing only a brief breather and helping us connect with the characters and motivations at a deeper level.

I guess it’s evident from what I’ve said, but just in case, I must warn readers that there is plenty of violence, extreme violence, gore, and scary scenes (especially for people how are afraid of monsters and strange creatures), but the monsters aren’t the only scary beings in the story (there is a scene centred on one of the students —the cruellest one, based on a real historical character— that made my skin crawl, and I think it’s unlikely to leave anybody feeling indifferent). Also, this is the first novella in a series, and although the particular episode of the riot reaches a conclusion, there are things we don’t know, mysteries to be solved, and intrigue aplenty as the novella ends (oh, and there’s a female character I’m very intrigued by), so people who like a neat conclusion with all the loose end tied, won’t find it here.

I have also mentioned the author’s note at the end of the book, explaining where the idea for the series came from, offering insights and links into some of the research he used, and also accounting for the historical liberties he took with some of the facts (I must confess I had wondered about that, and, as a doctor, there were scenes that stretched the suspension of disbelief. Fans of historical fiction might take issue with the factual inaccuracies if they are sticklers for details. Perhaps a brief warning at the beginning of the book might put them at ease, because I think that moving the note to the beginning could detract from the element of surprise and enjoyment). I was fascinated by this historical episode (I was more familiar with the body snatchers exploits in the UK), and I’ll be sure to read more about it.

A thrilling story, well-written, packed with action, creature and cosmic horror, a great protagonist and a fascinating historical background. I can’t wait for part 2!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novella that I freely chose to review.

Thanks to NetGalley and the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling!

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