Abandoned : The Troop

Abandoned: The Troop by Nick Cutter

I should start this by saying I don’t read a lot of horror. But, being October, I wanted a spooky read. The Troop has some good buzz, and I thought I’d give it a try. I got to page 94.

If creepy is your thing, this book is for you.

It all starts on a small, deserted island off of Prince Edward Island. A Scoutmaster (and doctor) and 5 teenaged boys are camping out, dropped off by a boat that will return for them at the end of the weekend.

And then the stranger arrives. In the middle of the night. Via a stolen boat. He’s obviously sickly – emaciated is an apt description – and Scoutmaster Tim does his best to help the stranger while also protecting the boys. And then there’s an encounter with a snake ball, and a worm-like parasite, and cue me scratching myself everywhere like someone in withdrawal and getting questioning looks in the waiting room I was reading in.

The book jacket describes it at 28 Days Later meets Lord of the Flies, so if those are your thing, perhaps the book is for you.

Alas, I have the heebie jeebies and the only way I can get rid of them is by abandoning the book.

For those wondering, yes, I’m still itchy.

Thriller Double Shot

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

This looks like a fancy backdrop, but it's totally my couch

This looks like a fancy backdrop, but it’s totally my couch

Cancel your plans. You have reading to do.


Busy single mom and lawyer (or is it lawyer and single mom?) Kate is rushing to pick up her freshly suspended daughter Amelia from her private school. When she arrives, it turns out the suspension isn’t a big deal, since Amelia is dead after jumping off the roof. Finally coming to grips with her loss, she receives an anonymous text: Amelia didn’t jump. Kate throws herself into investigating what happened to Amelia on that roof, and what happened in the months before her death. The book incorporates texts and ugh Facebook posts to tell the story, which is a nice way to advance the plot. It also illustrates how happy I am to not be a 15 year old girl today.


An alternate title could be Red Herring. Or, Here’s the Solution…Kidding!

Marcus Goldman spends far too long talking about being a writer, getting rich, losing his drive and getting writer’s block. Things get interesting when he talks about his mentor, Harry Quebert. And then the body of a missing 15 year old Nola is found on Harry’s property. Did I mention that she’d been missing for 33 years, and that Nola and Harry had an affair when he was in his 30s? Obviously, Harry is arrested, and Marcus sets out to investigate and prove Harry’s innocence. Predictably, the folks of the sleepy small town are not happy about this, and are all too happy to blame Harry for the crime. While investigating, Marcus is roped into writing a book about the murder. Each chapter, we’re treated to a writing lesson that Harry gave Marcus in the past that ties in with his investigation and book.

I didn’t set out to do a double review, but the more I thought about it, the more the similarities between the two books are striking. Both books are haunted by a dead 15 year old girl. Each has someone trying to piece together the last few months of their lives. Ditto for sex scandals of varying degrees. And don’t get me started on the secrets and lies. Both require a slightly higher than usual suspension of disbelief. Both are worthy reads, and I whole heartedly recommend both.

If I had to choose a winner, I think Quebert has the edge of Ameila. It’s almost twice as long, and I finished it quicker than Amelia. While Quebert is bursting with red herrings, I didn’t mind. My least favourite part of the book was the beginning. Truth be told, I was thisclose to abandoning it. Thankfully, I stuck with it.

Nit picky questions/observations about the books to be read after you’ve read them (ie Spoilers):

Being neither a single mother nor a lawyer, I may be wrong, but would Kate’s career really have advanced that far? Wouldn’t it be difficult to rise so far, so fast, especially as a young single mom? Considering that she seemed to be doing better than her contemporary from law school, I call a little shenanigans on that.

How could she be so wrong about Amelia’s paternity? Especially with the whole genetic disease factor.

Did anything happen to Zadie’s mom? Harassment charges?

The true identity of Ben: seriously?

Who knew lawyers were so potent and so stupid with birth control?

Could there be any more incorrect solutions to Quebert? This guy did it! No, actually it was that guy! Wait a minute…that guy! Yeesh.


Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer

Fantastic book, unfortunate cover

Fantastic book, unfortunate cover

It’s 2048, and Dr. Sarah Halifax and her husband Don are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. They’ve had a good life together, and are enjoying their twilight years save for the aches and pains.

Their quiet existence changes when the second radio transmission from aliens is received. You see, 38 years ago Sarah decoded the first transmission and people are now counting on her to decode the second one. But, she’s 87 years old. She doesn’t have a lot of time left.

Enter the supremely wealthy man who offers her a rollback, a rejuvenation process that erases the ravages of time, and brings your entire body back to the age of 25 or so. Think plastic surgery on steroids.

Sarah refuses to have the rollback unless Don does as well.

And then things get interesting.

The description on the back cover of the book contains a lot of spoilers that I’m not going to give you. My co-worker recommended it (and told me half the story in the process) with the preface “I don’t normally read science fiction but…”

And yes, it is a science fiction story. They’re trying to decode a message from aliens. But at its heart, Rollback is a very human relationship story. And I couldn’t put it down.

I like that the book takes place in the future and there are futuristic elements, such as robot caregivers and virtual flowers. But the future still feels familiar, with people taking the subway and reading greeting cards (albeit, ecards that are printed by the robot caregiver.)

I had the pleasure of seeing Robert J. Sawyer at a library conference. While his talk was criminally early in the morning, it was interesting, and he’s a compelling speaker. I plan on adding more of his books to my never-ending shelf of shame (aka my To Be Read pile.)

Abandoned: Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood

Abandoned: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

It hurts me to do this. But damned if I can make myself read this right now.

To be fair to the book, it doesn’t present itself as a light hearted read. It’s about college student Toru, and his complicated relationship with Naoko. She’s complicated, he’s kind of complicated, and they’re both not really dealing with the fact that Toru’s best friend and Naoko’s former boy friend committed suicide a few years prior to their relationship.

I started reading this because I’m dying to read his recent-ish book, 1Q84, and I read somewhere that starting with Wood would be a good idea. Perhaps it is. But not now. It’s summer!

On the plus side, I finally get beach reads! It’s summer. I want to be enthralled, I want to be captivated, I want to whip through the pages, desperate for the conclusion. I’ll come back for you, Norwegian Wood, when the weather turns cold and books are meant to be serious. (Note to Future Self: you’re on page 180.) But for now, you are relegated to the Abandoned pile.

Anyone else change their reading material based on the season?


Because I Don’t Have A Million Dollars

…and if I did, I wouldn’t have to eat Kraft Dinner. But I’d probably eat more. With Dijon ketchup. Mmm.

All joking aside, my Canadian friends, due to upcoming legislation that really won’t reduce the amount of spam you get, and will cause trouble for legit newsletters/businesses/etc., I’d like to point out that there’s an Unsubscribe button at the bottom of each and every email you get from me.

If you no longer want to receive random emails with no set schedule about the books I’m reading/loving/hating/abandoning, please hit Unsubscribe. No hard feelings.