Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Troop by Nick Cutter

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*No Major Spoilers*

*This Novel Is NOT for the Squeamish*

Once a year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story and a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—stumbles upon their campsite, Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. An inexplicable horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival that will pit the troop against the elements, the infected…and one another.

I found this novel on a book list (if it’s not the library it’s email newsletters). I thought the author sounded familiar, and I found out he also wrote The Deep which I reviewed previously. Read my review of “The Deep”. I had written a not-so-good review, so with that in mind, I decided to give Mr. Cutter another chance.

I’m going to state upfront if you are squeamish or have Entomophobia (the fear of bugs); another phobia this novel addresses is Vermiphobia (The fear of parasitic worms) I would be hesitant to read this novel. I do not have these phobias and at times I found myself grossed out at how detailed the boys’ struggles escalate throughout this novel.

“How could you hide from a murderer who lives under your skin?” – The Troop

The Troop reminded me of a ramped up rendition of Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Lord of the Flies follows a group of young boys that were shipwrecked on a deserted island. The parallels are there, but it’s pulled off nicely.

I found this to be more enjoyable than Mr. Cutter’s previous book The Deep. The characters were likable and relatable. I found the ending to not be too far out in the leftfield. Sometimes horror writers *cough* Stephen King *cough* tend to take things too far with the crazy and bizarre for my liking. This ending was surprising and ended on a somewhat positive note.

Overall, I thought The Troop was a good and creepy read. If you are into untraditional horror, or what something different to read then this novel is for you!

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Arsenal: Full Metal Superhero (Full Metal Superhero #1) by Jefferey H. Haskell

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*No Major Spoilers*

Amelia Lockheart can’t walk, but she can fly. As the armored superhero-Arsenal, she has the power of a small army at her disposal. Fourteen years ago her parents disappeared after a horrific wreck which left her wheelchair bound. With thieves salivating to steal her armor, and supervillains trying to kill her, Amelia must learn to trust her new team if she wants to survive long enough to learn the truth.

This novel caught my attention because of the cover, the series name, and the concept. With the Marvel and DC movies battling it out at the theatres, one might hesitate to go into a superhero series without drawing connections to previously established characters. However, I felt that this would have been unique enough to be entertaining on its own two feet.

I felt like Amelia was amazing in the facts that she doesn’t let others tell her what to do just because she’s a handicapped woman. She is brilliant in what she can build and create with just enough imagination and determination.

At first, her thoughts about what really happened to her parents sounded like a coping mechanism. When something tragic happens, you naturally want to blame it on someone or something. Blaming her parents’ disappearance in the company they worked for is logical and reasonable.

As you go through the battles and struggles with Amelia and her new friends you find that there is something more going on than meets the eye. Is someone trying to set them up to fail? Who is really after Amelia’s armor? These questions and more are what drives this story and the over-arching plot forward.

I couldn’t help myself but draw connections between this novel and Marvel superheroes. It never took anything away from the novel, but it was kind of fun to be like “oh this guy sounds like Doctor Strange”. Or “This sounds like a combination of Captain America and The Hulk”. I found that instead of being direct rip-offs, they were their own unique identity.

The final battle shows how determined and how brilliant Amelia truly is and how her cool head and thinking under pressure is more valuable to the team overall. She is able to do just as much when she is Arsenal, and when she’s just Amelia.

I know this was meant to be an adult novel, but for some reason, I couldn’t get the thought of this being a Young Adult novel out of my head. Something about how Amelia is portrayed had me thinking she was a teenager instead of being in her early 20s.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it was a breath of fresh air to have some new superheroes to read about. I felt like this novel is appropriate for everyone of all ages to enjoy. If you like underdog stories and superheroes, then this book is for you!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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*No Spoilers*

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

I know I’ve stated in the past that I don’t read what’s popular and trending. However, I think the hype about the Netflix Original Birdbox has died down enough to where I feel comfortable finally getting around to seeing what all the hype is about.

I found the premise to be intriguing, most of us heavily rely on our sense of sight to function day to day. When you have a threat to take that ability away, you suddenly are forced to learn how to hone your other senses that aren’t as heavily relied on.

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This novel caused my fiancé and me to have a discussion of the premise. Something that normally doesn’t happen much when I’m talking to him about the books I read. I’m really thrilled that this actually gave us something to sink our teeth into.

I liked most of the main group of survivors. I felt like each one was a real person who made their decisions whether it was for the better or the worst of the group’s survival. Just like other apocalyptic novels, you have several people who each have their own motivations and goals.

I wouldn’t say that I found the ending to be predictable per se. Without spoiling the ending, I’ll say that it was a pleasant surprise that I hadn’t guessed the ending completely. The ending was nice and sweet, I felt like the journey for the trio was wrapped up nicely.

Overall, this novel was well worth the wait, I enjoyed the theme and tension of the unknown. This book is just the right length to get a grasp on what’s at stake without having much fluff. I’m glad to finally have read this novel.

I would highly recommend this novel for those who loved the Netflix adaptation of Birdbox. If you love a good mystery, and some horror definitely please check this novel out.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Atlantis Code (Thomas Lourds #1) by Charles Brokaw

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*No Spoilers*

A thrill-seeking Harvard linguistics professor and an ultrasecret branch of the Catholic Church go head-to-head in a race to uncover the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis. The ruins of the technologically-advanced, eerily-enigmatic ancient civilization promise their discoverer fame, fortune, and power… but hold earth-shattering secrets about the origin of man.

While world-famous linguist and archaeologist, Thomas Lourds, is shooting a film that dramatizes his flamboyant life and scientific achievements, satellites spot impossibly ancient ruins along the Spanish coast. Lourds knows exactly what it means: the Lost Continent of Atlantis has been found. The race is on, and Lourds’ challengers will do anything to get there first.

Whoever controls the Lost Continent will control the world.

The mystery of the Lost City of Atlantis has fascinated the human race ever since Plato wrote about its wonders and glory was spread throughout the world. With questions like, ‘how did Atlantis sink?’ and ‘was it really as wonderful as the stories made it out to be?’ anyone would be willing to put their life and career on the line for the fame of finding this lost city.

This book is in the vein of The Da Vinci Code a treasure hunt, secret societies, and mysteries that fascinated society since their beginning. I am not familiar with The Da Vinci Code series, however, I feel that The Atlantis Code was a nice introduction into the world of treasure hunting and solving ancient mysteries.

I would say if you’re sensitive to novels that discuss religion in an untraditional way, I would say to either to be wary of this novel or take the warning and enjoy it for what it is: a fictional treasure hunt.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the “love triangle” between Lourds and his two female companions. I felt like the TV hostess was just used for tension and plot advancement.

I found the ending was cinematic, and I actually felt like everyone’s lives were at stake. The plot threads were neat and nicely wrapped up. Even though the story had a complete and fulfilling ending, I would be interested in going on another adventure with the professor and his friends again soon.

I would recommend this novel for lovers of ancient mysteries and treasure hunting. The Atlantis Code is a perfect story for those who are intrigued by the Atlantis legend and who want an exciting adventure across the world.

Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

My Latest Netflix Binge: Rilakkuma and Kaoru

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If you are looking for a relaxed, adorable anime look no further! Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a Japanese animation about two adorable stuffed bears and a little baby bird.

The official summary goes like this:

Her life might be a little mundane, but Kaoru gets to go home to Rilakkuma, her endearingly lazy roommate who happens to be a fuzzy toy bear. -Netfix

I know it’s not much to go on, but trust me you will be getting all the cute feelings from how the characters interact with each other. I’m not familiar with the famous Japanese pop icon Rilakkuma, so I called him “Big Brown Bear” and the other bear “Vanilla Bear”.

From Wikipedia:

Rilakkuma’s name is a combination of リラックス rirakkusu, a Japanese transliteration of the English word “relax”, and クマ(熊)kuma, the Japanese word for “bear”. He is a soft, toy-like bear whose interests are mostly limited to sleeping and eating, although these traits are portrayed positively, with fans and consumers encouraged to, at least sometimes, emulate Rilakkuma as sort of cure or treatment for stress.

Now enough backstory and explaining. Let’s get into what I liked, and what I didn’t like about Rilakkuma and Kaoru!

I loved all of the characters, the bears, Kaoru, and even the neighbor kid who brings a child-like perspective to the bears’ lives. There’s funny moments, heartwarming ones, and there’s at least one episode everyone can relate with.

My favorite episode is the Rainy Season. It’s Typhoon season in Tokyo, and even though Kaoru has a difficult trip to her little office job, it’s not as crazy as what’s going on in the bears’ apartment! Hilarity ensues and it’s a good reminder on not to do too much lazing about.

Another thing I loved about the show is how each episode ends with an inspirational quote. They’re always positive, and I found it was a nice way to end an episode. It was kind of like a “what did we learn today?” kind of ending.

There really wasn’t anything major I had an issue with, mostly just nitpicks and minor things that don’t affect my overall feeling for the show.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this anime, it held my attention, and it gave me a good laugh and heartwarming feelings. I hope Netflix will invest in a second season! I will be looking forward to a new adventure with these loveable characters.