11 December 2015

Fear the Sky, by Stephen Moss (Audio Review)


I downloaded this on a complete whim and I'm so glad I did. I've been Netflix-binging all nine seasons of The X-Files in anticipation of their six-episode return to Fox in January, so sci-fi stories featuring aliens is sort of my thing right now.

Fear the Sky was awesome. Just AWESOME.

Earth is a prized commodity to the universe. It is one that in a very short period of time, millions of members of another race, an alien race, will come to take Earth from humans and use it for what they want. Without even wanting to take the opportunity to generate dialogue with humans, the plan is to come, take and destroy.

Before this happens, alien reconnaissance is planned. With agents disguised as human, who supersede all human intelligence and technology, they infiltrate and learn and report back on potential challenges and plan the eventual destruction of all humans.

When one man identifies an anomaly on a visual report of space, the partnership developed within a small but high-level group of people within the United States covering all areas from the military to the government begins, one that must be kept secret even from the President. After all, who would really believe that aliens were going to come to earth, or even that some were already here?

As this small team of devoted and dedicated patriots to the human race begin to investigate, plan, and ultimately defend, Fear the Sky becomes a powerhouse of a sci-fi story that I could not stop listening to. I wanted more - I wanted all of the trilogy released at once.

It is a story a little heavier on the science and technical side than I'm used to, but it was a phenomenal story that I need more of. My only wish was that the word "ignominious" was used less. That's it.

The reader was R.C. Bray, and we all know and love his work anyway. The link to the sample audio is here.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this from Audible.com via my monthly membership fee.

About the Author (from Goodreads)
Stephen Moss was born in England, but spent time as a child in wildly diverse places, including several years in Brazil, Belgium, and Malaysia.

He eventually settled in New York, but still travels avidly, something he uses as inspiration and input to his writing. Stephen is a fan of Hard SF by masters such as Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton and Orson Scott Card and the many fantastic writers creating masterpieces every year. 

His first series, The Fear Saga, combines his passion for Hard Science Fiction with his passion for travel. The three-part series takes place across the globe, from London to Brussels, Africa to Antarctica, the Hindu Kush mountains to the back streets of Tel Aviv. The few places in the books which Stephen hasn't been to in person he researches avidly, wanting to put his characters into the reality of their surroundings, and knowing that the settings for a story are as important as the individuals you then paint into them.

Visit the author:

About the Narrator
R.C. Bray is awesome and has narrated several books, but my favorite will always be The Martian.

Visit the narrator:



UPDATE [01/15/16]: An earlier version of this review incorrectly identified a different narrator for the work. This has been corrected - and my apologies for the error!


07 November 2015

Sometimes it's better to not read a single review of a book, or any synopsis of it before you decide to dive in. Sometimes, when you see flurries of excitement of a book on Twitter and Instagram, you should just pick it up immediately. And then when an old college buddy recommends the audio, you just go ahead and stop procrastinating.

Here's one thing that I feel is fairly consistent with every review I've seen since I finished the book: you can't really give anything away. It wouldn't be fair to write about one piece, one thing that makes this story so very, very unique from all the other ones that have come out. You don't want to spoil it one bit. Instead, you have to just say that it's about a little girl named Melanie who is very, very smart and she goes to school every single day and loves to learn about the world and her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau. And then you throw in the part that there is also a man in the military who picks Melanie up from her cell every morning, who very meticulously straps her into a chair, following a process so specific as to keep him far from her, who then takes her to a classroom filled with other children similarly held down in their chairs. You should probably also add that there is a very ambitious doctor, a completely disturbing sociopath who evaluates them, one by one.

And then you just have to write that the story is engaging, absolutely perfect for those who like extremely smart and uniquely driven characters, who enjoy twists that are unexpected and who fancy a tale of a young girl who is smarter than your smartest human out there.

This is an adventure told by an author with an imagination who has taken our current culture of a dystopian society and placed an excellent spin to it, and is voiced through narration in the audiobook by Finty Williams, who is just powerful and PERFECT for every role. From Melanie to Miss Justineau to Gallagher to the Sergeant, this audio is one of my favorites this year, no doubt about it.

Click here to listen to a sample from Audible.com.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this book through my membership with Audible.com

About the Author 
M.R. Carey is an author of comics, novels, and films, according to Wikipedia. I couldn't track down a website for him, but it seems he's fairly active on Twitter.

Visit him:


03 November 2015

Pure, by Julianna Baggott (Audio Review)


I was completely surprised by this thoughtful and unique post-apocalyptic tale of young teenagers in the world since a massive explosion happened, an explosion so impacting and devastating that the world and people living in it would forever be changed. The new normal has become one in which bodies fused to metal or wood, or even other people or animals, has now been born.

In the nine years since the Detonations, Pressia and her grandfather struggle to live and make a life. One of Pressia's hands fused with the doll she was holding when the blasts occurred and now the doll's head has become one with her fist. Her grandfather fused with a metal fan which is now in his throat. In this new world they live in, everyone around them has had their bodies blended to something, or has been left with scars incredibly severe. No one is without blemish, unless you live in the Dome.

The Dome is hidden, filled with those who were unscathed and untouched by the blasts, protected on the very day the Detonations happened. They are known almost as a myth of an all-knowing entity, overseeing those who live outside the Dome, and who one day will come back and help those who were hurt. One day this will happen, but it's unknown when. For these nine years, the inhabitants of the Dome, also known as the Pures, have never ventured outside, and those who are fused or scarred beyond recognition, don't know the Dome's location.

Partridge is considered one of the Pures, a body perfectly clean and free of scars and marks, or fusions to objects. He is surrounded by people like him, and he does not know what awaits him outside of the Dome, but he is prepared to search for his mother. His decision to leave the Dome is unheard of and when he escapes and enters into a world where his pure and untouched face and body are so easily noticed, Pressia is the one who helps him. Along with Bradwell (fused to a bird) and El Capitan (fused with his brother), the journey begins. With unsettling and startling characters who at first might be unexpected, their disfigurements became a part of the landscape of this new world, "normalizing" it and making it unique and part of each character's personality. What a beautiful array of characters with so many incredible characteristic advantages and contributions to the adventure, and this story will stay with me for a while. I'm excited that this is a trilogy, so I'll be downloading the second installment soon.

The narrators were phenomenal. I should have realized this was going to be a homerun audiobook when I saw the list: Khristine Hvam, Joshua Swanson, Kevin T. Collins, and Casey Holloway. Khristine Hvam is the narrator for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, and she was awesome, so Pure is in extremely good company with this team. Click here to listen to an audio sample.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this book through my Audible.com membership.

About the Author (from her website)
Ah, there's a lot going on with this author! Such cool stuff. For her complete bio, visit her at the following sites:

08 October 2015

I'll write a more formal overview on October 12th, but I wanted, nay, NEEDED to, check in very quickly to let you all know that The Quick by Lauren Owen is so completely engaging that I'm trying to sneak time in as often as I can to read this gorgeously written story. It is PERFECT for a spooky season. I'm only about 120 pages in, but I'm catching up. The secrets, the overall storyline, the disturbing reality of what's happening - it's right up there with some of my favorite books.

If you enjoy stories told in an epistolary or journal/letter-like format, this one would fit right in there, especially the section I'm currently in. Delightful, disturbing. These are the words I must use to describe it. Cannot. Get. Enough.

02 October 2015

A few years ago, I read Wool Omnibus and immediately proclaimed it to be the best book I had read all year. The best. I still stand by that when I look at the list now. And thank you, Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, for first posting about it!

And now I finally, FINALLY picked up books 2 and 3 and am kicking myself that I didn't read these in quick succession. Allow me to give you a brief review by saying you're missing out on all things incredible if you don't dive into this unique world.

I'm going to cheat a little bit and use a few lines of my review of the first installment to start:
I couldn't believe how sucked in I was. Each character was so thoroughly developed and the action so intense that I happily read the entire book on my iPhone. That means about 1200+ pages (screens?) that I flew through, desperate to know what happened next. It is one of the BEST books I have ever read in my LIFETIME, and is my absolute favorite book of the year. This, when released in print next year by Simon and Schuster, will be picked up on the day of release and will rest nicely on my bookshelf next to Stephen King's The Stand, Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, and other favorites that I always want to have at my fingertips. As many of you know, science fiction is not one I'm that used to, so I can easily assure you that if your reading preferences include political corruption, mystery, thrillers, suspense, love, and more, I highly recommend that you step outside of your boundaries and do a dual risk of reading a self-published tale and one that just happens to be labeled as science fiction. The bottom line? I LOVED THIS BOOK.

Where Wool describes a suspenseful period in the world of silos set underground, Shift goes back to the start and outlines how the silos were first envisioned, drafted, built, and ultimately inhabited. Donald, a young congressman with a friendship with a high-ranking senator results in Donald being called on to use his architectural skills and draft a "what if" scenario - if humans had to live underground, how would they do it? What would they live in? Donald, trusting and sensitive, could never have imagined that his ideas would be built, and once they are, that they would ever be used. The reason why is never fully explained to him. Why should it? This senator, so much like a father-figure, is his guide.

Shift encompasses three "shifts," work conducted by the same group over a period of many years, made possible by a simple pill created to erase the past and make mindless the workers to monitor and manage a world very different than what they ever previously lived in. While Shift was sometimes more tedious than Wool, it was a crucial puzzle piece in the overall series and can't be skipped. I would urge you, however, to not take years in-between books the way I did. It's worth it to go back to back.

And then Dust. Ahh. This beautiful installment captures the magic that was Wool and more so. It returns back to characters from Wool and places them in situations to engage with the characters from Shift, and it is awesome. Dust is what I remember Wool to be, and I keep shaking my head when I remind myself that these are self-published books (although Simon & Schuster did convince the author to release Wool in print, which brought a larger fandom). There is no big-five publisher responsible for editing any of it. This is the author, enveloping himself in such a unique world and delivering a knock-out punch to those who feel a self-published book is just not as good as one you'd pick up at the store. This entire series begs to differ with that argument, and wins. He isn't limited by the publishing world to release his books at a certain pace, and after a series of teams edit away the core of it. He writes how he wants to write and releases it whenever he wants to. He has complete control over it and for fans like me? It works because I can keep diving into these worlds whenever I want.

Hugh Howey's work is incredible. It makes no difference if you're a sci-fi or fantasy fan. His robust repertoire are stories that deal with regular people in unique worlds and situations. It's just right for someone who isn't used to these genres. Take a chance. Get his work. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Publisher of Shift: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: 1/28/13

Publisher of Dust: CreateSpace
Release Date: 8/17/13

FTC Disclosure: I purchased and downloaded this story directly to my iPhone.


About the Author
Hugh Howey is the bestselling author of the self-published phenomenon that is the Wool series. He is also the author of the Molly Fyde series and a host of others that can be found by clicking here. He is currently on the trip of his life by sailing the boat of his dreams, which he plans to be on for at least the next decade. And he's writing. Thank goodness.

Hugh Howey is extremely active with his fans and on social media (and with sailing the world, I'd really like it if he got on Periscope, too!), so here are the links where you can visit the author:

28 September 2015

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (RIP Challenge) X


For this year's tenth anniversary, Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings has asked the fabulous Estella Society to host the ever-creepy RIP Challenge. And even though I'm way behind the times to inform you, I'll add one more drop in the vast and ginormous book blogger bucket about this always fun and eye-opening celebration of all things autumn and spooky and to the things that make us jump when we know THEY'RE RIGHT BEHIND US.
First off - thanks to Carl for creating this incredible annual event that he's diligently and so professionally hosted for nine years. You're awesome, we love ya!
I'm late to the party. As per usual. However, here are the details that I'll be participating in (for full details, click here):

Pick a book, film, short story, television show, etc., that falls into one of the categories below:

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.
  • Which Challenge Level Did I Pick? I'm going in low with my goals because heck, I can't even participate in my own challenges! So I'm selecting Peril the Third, which is reading at least one book. (I haven't picked a book yet. Give me a recommendation? Please?)
  • Am I Watching Anything Creepy? I've been Netflix-binging on The X-Files in preparation for their six-episode return on Fox in January, so I've selected Peril on the Screen.
  • What About a Readalong?? Yes! RIP X Readalong: When I read the description of this book being compared to The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (which I ran a readalong for five years or something ago - with pictures!), I thought I needed to get on it and with a quickness... it's entitled The Quick by Lauren Owen (again, I'm late to the party as the dates are 9/18 through 10/18, so I'll try and catch up, maybe...)
  • Where do I Post My Reviews? All posts/reviews should be added to this link here - make sure to visit other bloggers to comment on their reviews, that's how the fun is had, my friends
  • Where Are the Full Details? Click here to visit the Estella Society's welcome post.
So here's all the beautiful artwork by artist Abigail Larson:







30 August 2015

The Martian, by Andy Weir (Audio Review)



My  Instagram post about The Martian audiobook is:
If you listened to The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray and you didn't like it, WE CAN NO LONGER BE FRIENDS.
 I really should just leave it at that.

Fine, so here's more. Mark Watney is the only member of a crew who survived a devastating dust storm on Mars after being the first man to walk on the red planet. His commander and the rest of the crew "confirmed" he had died and without risking more lives to secure his body and bring him back, they make the heart-wrenching decision to leave him. The only problem is that Watney did survive, and somehow he's got to figure out how to stay alive until rescue comes. And in the meantime, he should probably figure out how to communicate with them also so that they know he actually did make it through the dust storm. When I write "meantime," I should clarify that I'm speaking in days.... as in hundreds of days. Somehow, in those hundreds of days, Mark Watney has to keep his air supply going, feed himself, keep his electronics up to par, maintain his humor, and generally just NOT DIE.

Through intelligence, training, dedication, and absolute extreme humor, Mark Watney is one of the most engaging characters to get to know. With his journal and video logs, combined with life on earth responses and characters who ranged from the tight-assed (but completely understandable) PR specialist and the brilliant but relaxed research scientists, the audiobook version was a winner in every way. While there were more than enough moments that had me cracking up, the successful balance of scenes that made me hold my breath wondering if Watney would make it out of this one continued and I refused every excuse to take a break from listening. I'm sure this has been written already somewhere by someone much smarter than me, but this was Apollo 13 on Mars, and DAMN IT WAS AWESOME.

It's going to be a movie and Matt Damon will play Mark Watney. I think he's a PERFECT choice, along with the rest of the cast. I just hope and pray they stay true to the book's humor and sincerity.

The story is fantastic, R.C. Bray as the audiobook narrator is incredible, and the author rocked it. Matt Damon, there's a lot riding on your shoulders, my man. I'm pulling for you.

As I mentioned earlier, if you read The Martian or listened to the audiobook, and didn't like it, we really, really have to reconsider our friendship. #truthhurts

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this audiobook via my Audible.com membership.

About the Author (from his website)
ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.










12 August 2015


"Because survival is insufficient."

So proclaims the tattoo on Kirsten Raymonde's arm, as she works with The Traveling Symphony, more than ten years after almost 99% of the world succumbed to a deady flu outbreak. Traveling with her fellow actors and musicians to ensure that the arts never die, Kirsten becomes one of the key figures to the description of life after.

Kirsten Raymonde once performed on stage with a famous actor from Hollywood, Arthur Leander, when she was a child. Her most vivid memory of life before is the night he died onstage of a massive heart attack. Jeevan, once a member of the paparazzi and now an EMT, rushes onstage to try to bring Arthur back to life, and Clark, an old friend of Arthur's, is the one who calls Miranda to tell her the news. Miranda, a high-powered executive in the shipping world and one of Arthur's ex-wives, is on the other side of the world, successful in both her career and in her ongoing hobby of drawing and writing her graphic novel Doctor Eleven, full of imagination and adventure in an otherworld known as the "Undersea." That very same night, a deadly flu outbreak quickly tore through civilization, frightening viewers watching the news and eventually killing nearly everyone on earth.Within a few weeks, the once beautiful life of civilization and law and order was over. 

Alternating between the years after devastation and the years before, Emily St. John Mandel's delicately detailed design of life is incredibly vivid. Focused on a few key characters, the descriptions of the flu, the desolation following it, and how survivors crafted solutions to maintain life is brilliant. And my favorite character, Miranda, and her ongoing project of Doctor Eleven, was fantastic. I am thrilled to hear that the author is working on bringing Doctor Eleven truly into the graphic novel arena. I'll certainly be first in line to check that out.

Post-apocalyptic fiction for die-hard fans can be very specific, and for me, Station Eleven was divinely sad, thoughtful, and has easily secured its place on my own personal "Best Books Read in 2015."

Kirsten Potter, the narrator, fit perfectly. Her voice smoothly fit into each of the characters well and I enjoyed listening to her tell me the story. I don't believe I've listened to her before. That can always be a little scary, trusting a voice you've never listened to before tell you a story, but Potter was exceptional. I'll look for more from her again.

We are all connected, whether by a tiny thread or stronger, but somehow, the link is undeniable. And in Station Eleven, the characters are tied together so delicately that it is incredible how Emily St. John Mandel has delightfully woven them through into an incredible adventure of lives lived after everything we've ever always trusted and believed would never change has now broken down.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this audiobook through my membership from Audible.com

About the Author (from her website)
Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. A previous novel, The Singer's Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She lives in New York City with her husband. 

Visit the author:

About the Narrator
Kirsten Potter rocked this audio. Here is a complete list of everything on Audible.com that she has performed. I'm sure that you won't be disappointed. Click here to listen to a sample from Audible.com

19 July 2015

Pirate Hunters, by Robert Kurson


Before I started this blog many moons ago, I fell in love with Shadow Divers, the bestselling book by Robert Kurson. Never once would I have thought that a non-fiction tale of deep sea divers would hold me spellbound, but before I knew it, the story of these divers who discovered a German U-boat submarine sunk off the coast of New Jersey had me along for the ride and imagining the adventure. I've never scuba dived once in my life as I've always been fearful of dark water and sharks, but something about this book knocked me off course completely and reminded me that I come from a family who thrives and lives off the water in a variety of ways. Not only was my husband in the Coast Guard and is a certified diver, but my father was also in the Coast Guard and my sister graduated from the Naval Academy. Even my husband's family runs a boat chartering business in Boston. My husband and I live in Florida, and the world of diving is right around my corner. I've still not tried it, though. I've been on a boat several times, but never once wanted to dive deep under the surface; fear has kept me away, but with a family so used to the water, perhaps I need to rethink this. No excuses.

On one of the hottest days of the year in Neptune Beach, Florida, I passed by one of my favorite indie bookstores, The Bookmark. I already have more than enough books to be read, but what book lover can resist "just one more?" Not this one. In I went and the display for Pirate Hunters drew me in with the title alone. When I realized who the author was, there certainly wasn't any question on what I was going to do: I had to buy it and begin it immediately. After all, the author himself was going to be at that same store in just a week.

Pirate Hunters tells the story of two men who, on the eve of their start to find a sunken Spanish galleon off the coast of the Dominican Republic, divert their mission to help another treasure hunter locate the pirate ship known as the Golden Fleece, which was operated by a captain whose story alone was enough to convince them to look. The fact that only one other pirate ship from the Golden Age of Piracy (1650s to 1720s) has ever been officially identified and confirmed just made it even more desirable, and the quest these two men take on is, I assure you, every bit as captivating and thrilling as Shadow Divers. The adventures of John Chatterton (one of the main divers and featured in Shadow Divers) and John Mattera, a once mob man turned police officer turned exclusive celebrity bodyguard, absolutely delivered and it brought to mind the reality that fiction can never be as thrilling as real life. Robert Kurson's skillful and perfectly paced retelling of each moment in the adventure to secure a treasure more important than gold or silver was as clear and distinct as any major motion picture. Better, even.

Both Chatterton and Mattera each have their own stories to contribute, becoming characters of hotheadedness and commitment (Chatterton) and dogged determination and research (Mattera) to continue pursuing the location of the Golden Fleece, even in the face of skeptical partners and lazy treasure hunters/claim robbers. Leading the way and working hard by researching in archives and libraries around the world was the only way they could uncover the secrets behind a pirate captain and his crew relentlessly battling the Royal Navy, and the reason why this one man, Captain Joseph Bannister, a seemingly honest man, would leave a life of security as a legitimate merchant ship captain, and decide to become an elusive pirate. It was incredible. I could just picture what life in the Golden Age of Piracy was like in the Caribbean. Standing strong and determined, one man making the decision from the bow of his ship, to steal it and to then pursue a life that could only get him hanged, if ever he was caught. (Pulled into this adventure tale, I wasted no time to head to the Jacksonville Public Library to pick up a copy of The Buccaneers of America, by Alexandre Exquemelin, a Frenchman who rode with the pirates for a period of time, even sailing with the infamous Henry Morgan. This book was mentioned often in Pirate Hunters, and I had to have my reading material lined up after finishing Pirate Hunters.)

Whether it's Captain Bannister's story, or the fierce and determined diving and researching from Chatterton and Mattera, there is no doubt that the book will keep you intensely dedicated to finding out what happens next. Through the investigation of sailor's logs and accounts of battles, Kurson parses through it all to leave you with the amazing and sheer bravado of a man fighting the Royal Navy to keep his stolen ship and save his head. Captain Joseph Bannister was a renegade, a man who threw a lifetime of rules and obedience to the wind and rushed onward into a world of piracy. Whatever made him choose this new life might be forever covered by the clear waters off of the Dominican Republic, but the ship itself is there, and these are really the only two guys who deserve to find it. And only a writer like Robert Kurson can tell it.

I loved this book. Can you tell? And now I need to put scuba diving back on the list of things I can't be afraid to do anymore.

Side note: Robert Kurson is an engaging and vivid speaker and is quite the storyteller. My husband and I went to dinner afterwards and couldn't stop talking about him. And also making plans to go on our own adventure.


The author, Robert Kurson, speaking at The Bookmark
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Release Date: 06/16/15
Pages: 262

About the Author (from his website)
Robert Kurson is an American author, best known for his 2004 bestselling book, Shadow Divers, the true story of two Americans who discover a World War II German U-boat sunk 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. Kurson began his career as an attorney, graduating from Harvard Law School, and practicing real estate law. Kurson’s professional writing career began at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a sports agate clerk and soon gained a full-time features writing job. In 2000, Esquire published “My Favorite Teacher,” his first magazine story, which became a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He moved from the Sun-Times to Chicago magazine, then to Esquire, where he won a National Magazine Award and was a contributing editor for years. His stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He lives in Chicago.

Visit the author:

09 July 2015

Misery, by Stephen King (Audio Review)




Cockadoodie, dirty bird!

As per usual, my dirty bird self is so bad at challenges over the past couple of years, so while this readalong was for June only, I finished Stephen King's Misery almost two weeks later. But, no matter, I had a blast listening to Lindsay Crouse rock Paul Sheldon's voice, but most especially, Annie's smooth, yet gruff voice. Crouse's narration was *breath* SO VIVID *breath* 

Paul Sheldon, famous novelist of the Misery Chastain historical romance series is on his way to deliver his final novel in the series to his publisher. With his only copy by his side, he gets into a car accident on the snow-covered roads of Colorado, and wakes up to a brute of a woman who seems to be taking care of him, but he can't quite understand why he's not in a hospital. From there, it is a psychotic display of Annie's roller-coaster of emotions and goals, and Paul is the object of her madness. Whether she has filled him with drugs, or forced him to drink dirty water, the most important objective she has is to make sure he rewrites that Misery Chastain novel - and torture is a method she most certainly will employ to protect her favorite character.

Stephen King at one of his finest and best. No doubt about it. Annie Wilkes is truly disturbed and twisted, and as Paul Sheldon's number one fan, she is devoted beyond measure, but not without conditions to suit her. And while Paul may have his own writing demons to contend with, nothing can equal the wrath of Annie when she's angry, and it is frightening. More frightening than the opening pages of The Stand at times, and more horrifying and gore-filled than scenes from Pet Sematary, Stephen King delivers once again. In every sense of the word it is scarier than anything else he's ever written because this story doesn't deal with ghosts or the dead coming back to life - this is scarier because it's one person, a real person, gone completely mad.

One of my favorite Stephen King stories by far. And the narrator? Perfection. She made this story come to life. *breath* SO VIVID *breath*

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

Publisher: Penguin Audio
Release Date: 01/29/09
Audio Time: 12 hours, 11 minutes
Narrator: Lindsay Crouse



And thanks to Care's Online Book Club for hosting! Click here to see the review roundup from other participants! 

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty novels, including The StandThe Dark TowerItThe Shining, oh...what more can be written that one doesn't already know? So here you go, click here to visit this cool author's official website. Crouse

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:

01 April 2015

Bag of Bones, by Stephen King (Audio Review)


I usually don't like listening to an author narrate their own work. In my opinion, they are too close to it and someone else is better able to bring the story to life in a way that the author never could. Or, sometimes authors don't have the right voice for audio, and the story ends up being something I just don't like listening to. Even if the reviews of a Stephen King-narrated book are over the moon about it, I still pick something else; I'll be honest that I was never fair about this assumption.

But recently I listened to On Writing and Stephen King surprised me with how honest his voice was, carrying his work to my ears in a way I wasn't expecting. It held my attention and I enjoyed the time I spent listening. So when I realized I downloaded Bag of Bones, I wasn't as apprehensive as I thought I would be.

This story seemed so close and personal (it's also mentioned frequently in On Writing, mostly because it was written/published at the same time). This is a true ghost story from Stephen King and there are elements that will linger with you and just might make you look a few times over your shoulder late at night. Writer Mike Noonan loses his wife suddenly and in his resulting sense of loss, he uncovers she was working on something much more mysterious than his best-selling novels. When he dives into her unfinished investigation, Mike is drawn into something quite unforgivable and disturbing, and, as only good husband-wife teams go, he has to finish what she started. A generational secret is exposed in a quiet town through a web of characters that are never boring and the life of a child is at stake. Readers sometimes complain with some of Stephen King's longer novels that, "it really could have been shorter," or, "too much!" But with this one, it met the mark on every level for me and wasn't too long, too short, or too wordy. It was a story that needed to be told, something that would be worth your time. Typical King has you walking through a story that is full of characters with essential and wild back stories that are all connected, and Bag of Bones is no different. It's a wild ride of creepiness, villains of the most disturbing kind, racism, music, and the noble urge to do something incredibly right after such a tragic wrong. This is good stuff. Stephen King knocks it out of the park and I will never worry about grabbing an author-narrated book again if it's him.

Did you know Pierce Brosnan starred in a two part mini-series? It's on Netflix. I'll have to watch that soon.

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

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: 05/23/00
Audio Time: 21 hours, 21 minutes
Narrator: Stephen King

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty novels, including The StandThe Dark TowerItThe Shining, oh...what more can be written that one doesn't already know? So here you go, click here to visit this cool author's official website.

06 March 2015

Pet Sematary Readalong - #gangstercats



March 1st through April 15, this is what's goin' down. Here are the details:

24 February 2015

A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin


I'm still reeling from the events that happened in the third book of The Song of Ice and Fire series.

Book four just keeps getting better. In this part of the story, the author chose to focus on a select group of characters instead of several who concluded book three with such a bang (Tyrion, Stannis, etc.) and broke them out into the next book, A Dance with Dragons. I've heard that fans weren't happy with that, and I can understand why. If I had to wait eleven years between when I last read about Jon Snow, Tyrion and Daenarys, I would be ticked, too. This is the reason why I prefer waiting for a series to end before I even think of picking it up. I have no patience.

I'm lying. I'm still impatient, but I wrote the preceding paragraph because it makes me feel better. I wasn't part of the group tearing my hair apart waiting to hear what happened next because I just didn't really understand this whole fantasy genre and how incredible it was. But I would have been! Oh, how I would have been part of the fan base for this series, waiting in long lines on release dates but, alas, I just didn't run in the same reading circles as I do today. Thank goodness for all of you bubbling with excitement when the HBO series premiered, which made me pick up the first book. I still can't believe what happened to Ned Stark. I was pretty close to throwing my book across the room. I think I did.

A Feast for Crows continues after all seven kings find some sort of temporary "cease fire" (to use our modern terms) by mostly focusing on the strong Brienne of Tarth, Sansa Stark (now known as Littlefinger's bastard daughter, Alayne), Sam Tarly, Jamie Lannister, and his completely delusional sister, Cersei,the Queen Regent. Every scheme implemented, either behind closed doors or on the field of battle, resulted in some sort of leftovers for the "crows" to pick apart, to flay into their own hopeful sense of power, which inevitably provided yet one more game to put in place.

I cannot wait to see where all the schemes end up and I loved every step along the way. And once again, I am completely dumbfounded by George R.R. Martin's incredible talent, to carry this story out for almost two decades in publishing. Granted, some sections might have been a little tedious, but those are few and far between, and I was again madly in love with this sweeping medieval fantasy tale, and the meddling and evil residents of the land. While the events in book 3 were much more shocking than the concluding moments of this book, I'm still rushing to the bookstore to get A Dance with Dragons.

So now I can pick up the most recent book, finish it, and then stamp my foot in anger along with everyone else until the final book is released in a bajillion years.

Publisher: Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House
Release Date: 2005
Pages: 976

Review of Book 1: A Game of Thrones
Review of Book 2: A Clash of Kings
Review of Book 3: A Storm of Swords

About the Author
George R.R. Martin is the author of eleven novels, seven novellas, two novellettes, one children's book,and a score of other writing and editing accomplishments. He was also the writer for seven episodes of the Twilight Zone and fifteen episodes of Beauty and the Beast, including three episodes of the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones. There's so much about this author, I don't have enough space to write it all, so I'll just ask that you:

Click here to visit the author on his website.
Click here to visit the author on his blog.



29 January 2015

On Writing, by Stephen King (Audio Review)


Clearly this is a Stephen King month of books for me. With Mr. Mercedes a couple of weeks ago, On Writing now, and Bag of Bones queued up on my iPhone for my daily drive to the Mayo Clinic to receive radiation targeted at that son-of-a-bitch breast cancer's random floating cell, I'm assured that the reading slump I experienced a while ago is barely visible in the rearview mirror.

On Writing makes me nervous to write this review, though. It also makes me want to go back through anything I've ever put together and EDIT. I've learned a lot listening to King narrate his book, and the most important thing is to not write a lot of crap. Meaning, don't say in ten words what you can say in half of that. Cut it down. (Fans of The Stand or It might raise an eyebrow on that, but you can't tell me that those bajillion pages aren't filled with the greatest characters and story ever and that each word is worth it.) The fluffy extras on a first draft more than likely just amount to a lot of nonsense. Write the story and stick with the first word that comes to mind, don't run to the thesaurus to find a "smarter" word. And for the love of God, stay away from the adverbs! (She cried mightily. Just kidding.)

Part memoir, part writing guide, On Writing is a concise overview of all the things that make Stephen King tick when it comes to the craft and the success that the rest of us drool over. With over four decades of brilliant character creations, (Back story, dammit! Give it back story!) memorable tales, and a legacy that will never die, Uncle Stevie doesn't let us down yet again on what many might think could have been the driest topic he could have written about. But whether it's how he started out in the trade, his ongoing love affair with his wife of forty-some years, advice on an agent, or the accident that came close to ending his career and his life, King keeps the reader/listener thoroughly engaged and many times completely fascinated. And the one fact that cements King's place in the history books? He's not a horror writer at all, he's just a writer, and a damn good one at that.

This is one of *the* books to keep on a writer's shelf; I'll at least keep it on mine. Regular referencing and notations will likely be the thing to do if you have this. And the one piece of advice that sticks with me? Don't let others read your work as you're writing it. It makes no sense to let them see those five pages you think are world-altering. What if they don't like it? Holy hell. Whether or not they praise or criticize, it's really never healthy for others to take a peek. That slight derailment could mess you up. Close the door. Let your words come. No distractions.

Don't despair when you learn King is the narrator, as so many other authors may have been unsuccessful with voicing their own stories. I've always shied away from author-narrated audiobooks, too, but of course it makes sense that King would do it here. And he does a phenomenal job voicing his own work. He was at the right tempo and tone, and I found it thoroughly agreeable. (Because of this, I was convinced that Bag of Bones would not be ruined by an author's voice; so far, so good, too.)

And the absolute most important thing other than to read a lot? WRITE. Write a hell of a lot and always with that damn door closed.

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

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: 10/4/00
Audio Time: 8 hours, 5 minutes
Narrator: Stephen King

About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty novels, including The Stand, The Dark Tower, It, The Shining, oh...what more can be written that one doesn't already know? So here you go, click here to visit this cool author's official website.

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