Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

The TroopFrom Goodreads: 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 bioengineered 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.


I’m sorry to say that this novel is just not for me.  Truth be told, I was not ready for the graphic, nauseating images that are released on readers in this one. Nor was I ready for the awful animal abuse described.  This is a very graphic novel, and it made me ill–especially in terms of the worms and the psychotic/sociopathic nature of some of the Troop (Shelley) that is brought to light before everything even begins to go downhill . Things go from bad to worse quickly in this novel, and while it was interesting in the beginning, it ended up making me physically nauseous at times, and turned me into a bit of a hypochondriac as I read. I really enjoyed the concept behind it, but didn’t care for any of the characters–they’re all kind of jerks–and absolutely hated the sections where the lab documented the test subjected on the animals. Wow. Animal abuse is not okay, and I had a really hard time reading a lot of these scenes.

For me, the novel wasn’t a scary read by any means—instead, I found it disturbing and, as I’ve said, overly graphic.  Because of this, I don’t have a set group I’d recommend this novel to.  I enjoyed Lord of the Flies, which is one of the reasons I picked up this novel to begin with (the other was the original cover, but it’s since been changed to this more drab, bloody one), so I can’t say that if you enjoyed The Lord of the Flies, you’ll enjoy this one, but perhaps you will.  Just go into this novel knowing that, while very well written, it deals with graphic blood and gore, animal abuse, and disturbing images. Two stars.

2 stars

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 25, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

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17262236From Goodreads: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.


This novel started off a little slow for me as Wein begins to create the background for her story, allowing readers to connect with Rose and her life prior to her capture. For me, this part really wasn’t interesting… information about piloting, friendships, and betrothals wasn’t what I was expecting and it’s not really my style, but in the end, it was actually vital information to further along the plot near the end, and I’m glad that Wein chose to include it, even though I initially wasn’t interested.

This is a gut wrenching read as we learn of the experiments carried out on the Rabbits (a group of women who created the nickname for themselves due to the experimentation) and their insistence on caring for one another, even to the point of volunteering to die in another Rabbits’ place. Much time is dedicated to the fleshing out of these strong-willed, powerful characters within the novel, and it is their determination that really pushes the story along and allows the reader to finish the novel.  Without their outlook on life and their perseverance, I don’t think I would have been able to complete this novel because the atrocities within are quite difficult to handle, and yet these women bear it in stride.
I teach a Holocaust unit to my students, and we focus on the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel, so we don’t see the entire travesty of the war in what happened to the women and children as it focuses on a male concentration camp.  Thus, I think Rose Under Fire, though extremely sad and difficult to stomach at times, is the perfect novel to show what life in the women’s camps were like. I feel like this is a topic that is not taught enough—all the novels I read in school as a student, and that I now teach, deal with the perspective of a male in a male concentration camp, and I think it is incredibly important that there is a focus on the women and children’s camps as well.  This is a very powerful novel, and I highly suggest it, but beware, it is difficult to read at times. Four stars.

4 stars

Disney Book Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow, September 10, 2013.

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