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review 2020-02-17 12:02
Creature horror with a nostalgic feel
Highway Twenty - Michael J. Moore

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, 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.

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text 2019-03-10 12:44
Do You Follow Bookish Instagrams? (Bookstagram)

This is my Instagram. Leighas_Life <----- click here!

 

I would be happy if anyone wanted to follow me. I post mostly bookish photos and those being vintage, 90s and earlier. An eclectic mix. I don't believe in an age range for books. I will read anything. Horror, romance, fantasy, science fiction, poetry, middle grade, YA, children, "easy" books, hard books, adult books, manga, even picture books, you name it.

 

There are some more modern books, too and random non-book photos now and again. 99% books bought used for $1! I have a large collection I've been collecting since I was a kid, so even though I post every day that does not mean we go out and buy books every day! haha

 

Examples of content:

 

 

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text 2019-02-27 18:04
Two FREE month trial of Scribd!

Honestly, Scribd is the best. It has audiobooks, ebooks and more for one low monthly price of $8.99, but of course if you sign up through my link, you can try it for FREE for two months. It would mean a lot if you gave it a try.

 

Scribd has everything, from bestsellers, to old and new books and just a large collection in general. Just at a glance, I can see that they do have some new releases as well. I went to one of my  "want to read" list on Goodreads and found a bunch of those books on Scribd! It's pretty amazing.

 

https://www.scribd.com/gt/4zt6yx 

 

I recently enjoyed: 

Highly creepy novella, disturbing, but also sad and heartbreaking for several reasons. A trigger warning kind of book.

suicide attempt, mentions rape, baby death, talks about abortion...etc.

(spoiler show)

 

I've also enjoyed several R L Stine books through Scribd, some Karin Slaughter, VC Andrews & much more!

 

I am looking forward to listening to:

 

Mr Rogers & LeVar Burton!? (He's the guy from Reading Rainbow...two things from my childhood coming together.)

 

 

**Signing up through my link doesn't give me $, but it does help toward my subscription fee.**

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photo 2019-02-12 10:43
Guy moves in, everyone wants to date him. Murders start happening. Who dun it?

My current read for The R L Stine Challenge Group I'm in on Goodreads. It started as a year long Fear Street group buddy read, but we're on our second year and opened up to any book by R L Stine! We've got our books picked for the rest of the year; mostly still Fear Street (there is a lot to go through!) The group is in the Horror Aficionados group in the buddy reads section if you're interested in joining!
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The New Boy - [1994]
He stole their hearts…Does he want their lives, too?

What a hunk! When handsome, mysterious Ross Gabriel comes to Shadyside High, all the girls want to date him…even the ones who already have boyfriends! Janie, Eve and Faith go so far as to make a bet…which one of them will he go out with first?

But then the murders begin, and it starts to look like dating Ross means flirting with a gruesome and untimely death. Will Janie’s dream date with Ross turn out to be the night of her life? Or the night of her death?

Source: www.goodreads.com/topic/show/19132611-r-l-stine-challenge?page=1
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text 2019-02-10 18:40
Letting Books Go!
As part of uncluttering my mind, I want to unclutter my space, Marie Kondo style. Her method is called the KonMari Method. It is where you look at something and ask if it sparks joy. Joy = you keep it. No feeling/no joy = you thank it and pass it along.
 
Bookish people (mostly on Twitter) are coming at Marie Kondo because of a misquote and a joke someone made with her picture saying "Ideally, keep fewer than 30 books." She actually said, “I now keep my collection of books to about thirty volumes at any one time.” That is what she likes for herself!
 
I did the KonMarie method today with the help of my husband and took a hard look at my growing book collection. I come to a decision to cull over half my collection, if not more. Not because Marie Kondo told me to, but because I know that I am never going to read half these books. I've had them for years without touching them, some I didn't like, some I DNF'd, and some I doubt I will ever reread. My husband did the same with his books.
 
We went through 10ish boxes and ended up culling 7 boxes worth!
 
We made a new rule that the only physical books we are going to buy used are the things we are actively collecting and no more buying random books, with the exception of being 80s & 90s (and earlier) books, though I will be pickier. (Rare books, hard to find and libraries will not have them.)
 
I got rid of a bunch of books that I can easily get at the library if I decide I want to read them later on. We are already picky about the new books we buy because we can't buy full price books often. We still have a lot more books to go through! haha
 
I'm not getting rid of every unread book or everything I've read and may not read again. I'm keeping things that have true sentimental value and nostalgic stuff because I LOVE going back to my younger self and rereading nostalgic books. That sparks joy!
 
Some series I am actively collecting are: (For the curious)
 
 
The Babysitter's Club
Goosebumps
Fear Street
Other R L Stine books
Animorphs
Sweet Valley High
The Alice books (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)
Buffy, Angel, Charmed books
Nancy Drew
The Hardy Boys
Boxcar Children
Several cheesy teen horror authors (Christopher Pike, Joan Lowery Nixon...etc)
Cheesy teen horror novels in general from the 80s/90s era
The type of books you would find in Paperbacks From Hell and Paperback Crush (so 70s,80s,90s horror and children/teenage stuff.)
 
There are more but those are the things I think are most recognized. It seems like a lot, but it is a very slow growing collection and I end up getting the books from $1 to $3 at the Half Price Book Store.
 
No matter how old I get, I still read and enjoy the above books. The nostalgic factor might be one of the reasons, but so what! Some would consider some of these books badly written nowadays, but it is like I can turn off a switch and overlook cheesy storylines, plot holes and "bad writing" Most of the books above would probably be considered "guilty pleasure" books for adults to read, but I don't use that word.
 
They are comfort reads.
(spoiler show)
 
 
Do you unhaul books easily or is it like pulling teeth? That is how it is for me, even if I didn't like the book that much. I know it is boarding on hoarding tendencies because it shouldn't be so hard to donate a book you hated, or a book you know you'll never read.
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