Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Few Quickie Reviews

Here's what I've been reading...
about book:  Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith. 

Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.

Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bio-engineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.

“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget.

my thoughts:  OMFG!! This book was so freaking good!  It was dripping with ooey-gooey descriptions that made me cringe in disgust.  Plus, knowing that these kids were left to fend for themselves and that their parents couldn't do anything to help them was heart-breaking.  I found this book to be gripping, suspenseful, and downright fantastic.  I would most definitely recommend this read to fans of horror and sci-fi reads - you will devour this book in one sitting!

about book:  You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn't always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power—and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets.

Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev slaughtered her way to sainthood while Princess Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back.

Princesses Behaving Badly offers true tales of all these princesses and dozens more in a fascinating read that's perfect for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

my thoughts:  What a great read! Filled with loads of historical facts and mythological references, this book provided an interesting take on some of literature's most famous royal characters.  Fun, engaging, and easy to dip in and out of - this book proved to be the perfect bedtime read.  I would recommend this book to fans of historical nonfiction and fairy tales.

about book:  A redemptive and edgy coming-of-age story about a young woman who overcomes a troubled adolescence, only to lose custody of her daughter when her mental health history is used against her.

On the surface, sixteen-year-old Lesley Holloway is just another bright new student at a posh all-girls prep school north of London. Little do her classmates know that she recently ran away from home—where her father had spent years sexually abusing her—and that she now spends her afternoons working in a fish and chip shop and her nights in a dingy hostel. Nor does anyone know that she's secretly cutting herself as a coping mechanism…until the day she goes too far and ends up in the hospital.

Lesley spends the next two years in and out of psychiatric facilities; overcoming her traumatic memories, finding the support of a surrogate family, even falling in love with a fellow patient. Eventually earning her degree, she is a social services success story—until she becomes unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties. Despite the overwhelming odds she has overcome, the same team that saved her as an adolescent will now question whether Lesley is fit to be a mother. And so she embarks upon her biggest battle yet: the fight for her unborn daughter…

my thoughts:  A gripping read that will leave you emotionally exhausted.  This book explores abuse, depression, cutting, and the concept of family.  Beautifully written, this is the story of one woman's journey to overcome a past the continues to haunt her.  I absolutely loved this book - devoured it on a rainy afternoon and immediately passed it along to my sister to read.  I would definitely recommend this story to fans of women's fiction.

about book:  Discover the next generation of intrigue and drama in the real castle that inspired Downton Abbey. In Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey, the current Countess of Carnarvon tells the story of Catherine Wendell, the beautiful and spirited American woman who married Lady Almina’s son, the man who would become the 6th Earl of Carnarvon. The couple presided over Highclere Castle, the grand estate that serves as the setting for the show Downton Abbey following the First World War. Using copious materials—including diaries and scrapbooks—from the castle’s archives, the Countess of Carnarvon brings alive a very modern story in a beautiful and fabled setting, paying particular attention to the staff who provide Highclere Castle with continuity between generations.

my thoughts:  Anything having to do with Downton Abbey or that even mentions Downton Abbey has my immediate attention.  I am obsessed with the show, so when I got the chance to review this book - I jumped at the chance.  Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me.  I knew that it wasn't going to be as glam and dramatic as DA, since its about the real people who lived at Highclere Castle, but I still expected something DA-like.  And I think that was my problem with the book - I expected it to read like a DA episode (talk about unrealistic!). I will concede that the book did provide interesting details about the estate and its inhabitants.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with copies of these books!!


Ti said...

I had mixed feelings about The Troop. I have to write up my review but it reminded me a lot of Bait, in its intensity.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Ti, I know what you mean. On the one hand I really enjoyed the intensity of the boys' situation, but on the other I could do with out the overdose of yucky, slithering details. Gross.

The Relentless Reader said...

Yikes! The Troop sounds crazy/intense. I dig those sorts of books...sometimes. ;)

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Jennifer, you will dig this book for sure! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I'm really interested in reading The Troop! I'm a huge horror movie fan (and I saw The Ruins, which is referenced), but I've only ever read like two horror books. I think I need to remedy this.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Julianne, you will LOVE this book - it is so good!!