17 June 2015

The Troop, by Nick Cutter (Audio Review)

I just finished Nick Cutter's The Troop and... and... I...

Without a doubt, this is probably the most stomach-churning, disturbing, and yet totally fascinating story I've read in a while. Even more so because each tough scene was spoken by the very creepy and capable Corey Brill, who was a new-to-me narrator.

Scoutmaster Tim takes five boys every year to a Canadian island to practice survival and wilderness skills, and each time Max, Newt, Shelley, Ephraim and Kent continue their friendship and build memories to last a lifetime. They didn't realize that on this very boat ride to the island, it would be the last one they would all take. Someone, or maybe something, else will be on the island that will change all of their lives.

Told in alternating time periods when the boys first arrived on the island with interviews and articles taken and written after the events on Falstaff Island, The Troop is a horror-filled tale of total and systemic destruction of life, sanity and friendships. When a skinny yet terrifyingly hungry man arrives on the secluded island, Scoutmaster Tim does his best to help the stranger, using his medical skills to treat his unusual patient. He doesn't realize that he's unleashed a disease, a contagious sickness so debilitating that it quickly reduces a person to one very simple, primal urge. Unbeknownst to them, this quiet and thin newcomer carried a man-made weapon that could destroy them all.

This is Lord of the Flies on crack, the even more disturbing and disgusting version. Even Stephen King blurbed, "The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn't put it down. This is old-school horror at its best. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it's a perfect gift for a winter night." And he's right. This was horror, through and through, and like the cliched "can't look away from the accident" feeling, I could not stop hitting the play button on my iPhone every chance I got, even though the majority of the story made me cringe and cock my head to try to half-hear some of the truly tough scenes of simplistic annihilation of this sickness. In a lot of ways, this also reminded me of The Ruins, by Scott Smith, particularly one scene that I still remember and which also immediately jumped into my mind when Ephraim was left alone with Shelley, the psychopathic of the group. My heart hurt for them all. (Well, all of them except Shelley.)

This was my first time listening to Corey Brill and it won't be my last. While it took me about twenty minutes or so to get used to the staccato like rhythm of his cadenced narration in some parts, I got used to it and thoroughly enjoyed the story told in his voice. I'll likely pick up The Deep in audio soon to carry on with the horror.

FTC Disclosure: I purchased this audiobook through my Audible.com membership. Click here to listen to the sample.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: 02/25/14
Audio Time: 11 hours, 2 minutes
Narrator: Corey Brill

About the Author
Nick Cutter is the pseudonym of an acclaimed Canadian novelist who has been compared to Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk.

Visit the author:
About the Narrator
Corey Brill is a theatre, television and film actor living in Los Angeles. He's got so much to his background that I'd suggest you visit him:

27 May 2015

Recap of Day One at BEA

(Please forgive any font changes, formatting, and alignment inconsistencies and/or errors as I am posting from my phone.)

My dogs are barkin'.

As per usual, BEA and NYC are conspiring to beat up my feet. It probably doesn't help that every time I think I brought comfortable shoes with me, it ends up being a poor choice. Might be because I've never tested them in an extreme volume of continuous steps over an eight hour time period. I can't imagine the total number of steps I took today. Which, when I think about it, now makes me feel less guilty for making that "quick stop" at some place called The Donut Pub tonight. #noregrets
(Me on the left, Entomology of a Bookworm on the right)

Anywho, the highlight of the day (which started at 3:30 am to catch a flight), was finally meeting bloggers I've followed for years, Entomology of a Bookworm and S. Krishna's Books. Finally! And they are just as wonderful in person as they are in social media land. Meeting new-to-me blogger Books, the Universe, and Everything was also an absolute treat!

(Entomology of a Bookworm on the left, Books, the Universe, and Everything on the right)

I attended a few sessions at the Book Blogger Conference which were extremely informative, and while I might not have been the desired audience for the topics discussed, a new blogger starting to navigate the sometimes scary blogosphere world and safely dealing with social media more than likely walked away with pages of notes.
Moderator: Brittany Kaback
Panelists: Sarah Moon (ClearEyesFullShelves.com), Kat O'Keefe (Katytastic.com), Sarah Pitre (ForeverYoungAdult.com)

Moderator: Nina Amir
Panelists: Maura Sweeney (Podcaster, New Vision Entertainment), Kate Rados (Crown Publishing at Penguin Random House), Kate Tilton (Kate Tilton's Author Services)

Note to self for next year: Bring a blanket/snuggie/parka to deal with the freezing cold temperature in the Javits Center and bring an oil can to quiet the squeaky door hinges. I felt bad for the panelists who had to deal with the loud grinding of metal on metal every time someone came in or out of the rooms.

After the sessions and a walk-through of the main floor (Rachel from Europa Editions was a blast), I had to call it a day. Took a cab to the hotel and checked in and let me tell you, the Chelsea Pines Inn is adorable. The entire hotel is an homage to Old Hollywood and all the posters and ads are vintage and authentic. Check out one of the movie posters in my room:

The staff was extremely helpful and I took them up on their dinner recommendation for Cuban food at Copellia's, followed by an hour walk around Chelsea Market. 

All right. That's all I can give after four hours of sleep last night. See you tomorrow.

A quick iPhone post to let you know that I'm here at the Javits Center in New York for BEA, and it's still as ginormous as it was the first time I attended four years ago. Holy sheesh.

Today's schedule included a 3:55 am wake up for a 6 am flight to JFK, followed by an almost two-hour taxi ride to Javits (traffic !&$@!). 

The two sessions I was able to attend this morning gave extremely helpful guidance for the newbie bloggers in the audience. 

Who else is here? Tweet me @coffeebookchick

27 April 2015

Oh, Mad Men. I binge-watched every season and loved watching your amazing characters (even some of the truly vile ones) and now I'm sad the show's coming to a close. I have no idea what to replace the show with when it ends. Ah, the decor and fashion of the 1960s! Joan, you are awesome! Peggy! What a badass! And, dammit, Don, I tried an Old Fashioned drink because of you and now I get ticked off when bars don't muddle it just the right way. And who knew I would be curious about what the characters would be reading? But I did. I perked up every single time a character had a book in their hands.

Fair warning. I'm not particularly exceptional or truly committed with reading challenges. I join them and then I falter halfway throughout, and I have a hard time posting my updates. But, I couldn't resist putting something together (and something that has an extended timeline with no pressures) when I saw that the New York Public Library had developed a handy list documenting the books by episode and by characters, and even posted oodles of reading tidbits to further satiate your vintage needs. Thank you, NYPL! Here's the full list here and what I'll be referencing; more lists are linked below. I also created a separate site that you guys can all add your links to also, which minimizes the need for me to administratively manage posts, etc. In other words, I'm a little busy (lazy) so I don't want that to stop your eagerness.

For me: It all started when sad and cold-hearted Betty Draper was reading Mary McCarthy's The Group and something about it made me Google it on a whim. Suddenly, I cared a little bit more for her character, and *gasp* actually felt a little bad for her. When once I wrote her off as someone without much substance and who was probably there to facilitate more storylines for Don, I started to actually feel for her. I began to wish Betty had taken her chance to be even more independent when her marriage with Don failed. Why get back into another marriage with Henry and not fulfill your dreams? As Betty mentioned in one episode to Henry: "I'm not stupid, you know! I speak Italian!" Oh, Betty. Did you read The Group and dream of what life might have been had you chosen a different path after college? (And, honestly. Why didn't they ever develop the Betty Draper character a little more? She was always so unhappy, but the character never grew, unlike others on the show.)

Here's my copy of The Group and the description from Goodreads:

Mary McCarthy's most celebrated novel portrays the lives of eight Vassar graduates, known simply to their classmates as "the group." An eclectic mix of personalities and upbringings, they meet a week after graduation to watch Kay Strong, the first of the group, be married. After the ceremony, the women begin their adult lives--traveling to Europe, tackling the world of nursing and publishing, and finding love and heartbreak in the streets of New York City. Through the years, some of the friends grow apart and some become more entangled in each other's affairs, but all vow not to become like their mothers and fathers. It is only when one of them passes away that they all come back together again to mourn the loss of a friend, a confidante, and most importantly, a member of the group. 
Written with the trenchant, sardonic edge that can be attributed only to Mary McCarthy, The Group is a dazzlingly outspoken novel, as well as a captivating look at the social history of America between two world wars.
The Mad Men Reading Challenge details:
  1. ENJOY.
  2. Sign up below. If you write an announcement post, link it up.
  3. Pick books from the NYPL list here and here and here.
  4. Read the book or listen to the audiobook.
  5. Write a review.
  6. Add the graphic from this post to your write-up.
  7. Every time you review a book from the list, add it to the Linky on the designated site: http://themadmenreadingchallenge.blogspot.com/
  8. If you select books that weren't read on the Mad Men show, but were published (or were popular) during 1960 - 1968, just make a note of it in your post.
  9. Feel free to post about a movie or television show from that time period - the intent of this challenge is to celebrate the time and to say good-by to Mad Men.
  10. ENJOY!
Sign up here:

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