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review 2017-04-20 16:40
The Ruins - Scott Smith

It'd been a while since I read a book that horrified, sickened, and amazed me in equal measure; The Ruins did all those things with ease. I was shocked at just how much I loved this novel. I did not expect it to totally blow me away. The characters are mostly unlikable and infuriating, and I must admit I had trouble reading about them at first, but that's the point — being trapped in the jungle and fighting for one's life brings out the very worst in a person.


This is a brutal, agonizing read. There are no chapter breaks, and because of that it feels like a knife slice to the jugular. Scott Smith is unwavering in his quest to horrify the reader; you can almost imagine the maniacal grin he wore as he doled out pain and suffering to his unsuspecting creations.


I'm going to keep this one short and sweet: I really loved The Ruins. In fact, it's probably in my top five horror novels — it's that damn good. It pushes every button, as good horror should. I can't wait to check out this author's debut novel, A Simple Plan.


This was a buddy read with my friend Sadie. I had the time of my life. :)

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review 2017-01-15 00:00
The Ruins of Gorlan
The Ruins of Gorlan - John Flanagan Enjoyable book, glad I read it.
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review 2016-07-04 20:29
Eye of the Apocalypse by Dylan James Quarles
The Ruins of Mars: Eye of the Apocalypse (The Ruins of Mars Trilogy Book 3) - Dylan James Quarles

Book 3 picks up right where Book 2,Waking Titan, left off. The AI brothers Remus and Romulus are still in the Martian construct (kind of like being trapped in the Matrix). Earth is recovering from the Pulse that killed so many.  Harrison Assad and crew are still trying to puzzle out the Martian ruins.

This was quite the ending to the trilogy! This book is nearly twice as long as the previous book, and I’m glad as there was plenty of ground to cover. The crew find a device and those that touch the device have meaningful yet strange reactions to it. Harrison, as the crew’s archaeologist, has a deep fascination with the ruins and the device, focusing on them even though there are more pressing concerns. His friend Ralph Marshall does his best to bring his friend out of his funk (a fellow crew member died in Book 2), but with the Pulse having caused so much damage back on Earth, it’s hard to be cheery about anything.

Captain Tatyana Vodevski probably has the hardest job in this book. Circumstances will arise that require her to consider mutiny against her supervisors back on Earth. She will lose more of her crew and one will go mad. She will have to undertake dangerous missions herself, but also allow her crew to undertake some as well. I definitely wouldn’t want to be Tatyana in this book, even tho she is a bad ass.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubba’s character arc for the entire series is one of the most fascinating. She’s not a total good guy but neither is she a total bad guy. She’s complex and that makes her very interesting. In Book 2 she made some choices that I totally disagreed with, so I was all set to have her be a big villain in Book 3. She surprised me!

Back on Earth, the politics continue to play out despite the world wide event created by the Pulse. One of the lead guys who put together the Mars mission finds out about a secret plot to send a manned spacecraft to take over the Mars station and the ruins. He finds a secret way to left Captain Vodevski know about it and then she has to make some hard decisions about how to handle it. Killbots! Freaking killbots folks! Like the team on Mars doesn’t have enough to deal with! We lose a few more crew members, some unexpectedly, and the group continues to splinter even more.

Then we have the AIs Remus, Romulus, and Braun trapped in the Martian construct, which is replaying out millions of years of history for them. Through these chapters, we learn how Martian society arose and about the alien Travelers that appeared. A religious cult arose to worship the Travelers and eventually became the governing body of Martian society. The AI brothers also learn how Martian society fell.

While I found those chapters interesting, I was worried that the story would take too much of turn towards magic or something spiritual that couldn’t be explained. I’ve really enjoyed the science base for much of this trilogy and a little of the unknown goes a long way. For the most part, now that I know the ending, I feel the author kept things grounded and that while there are some things beyond human knowledge at play here, most of the unexplained could be broken down by science eventually.

The end comes to a crescendo as three main points have to be resolved to not only save the Mars mission but also Earth. The last quarter of the book was difficult to put down (someone has to eat at some point!) and I felt the ending was quite satisfying. Remus, Romulus, and Braun are all trapped in the Construct and the big ship that brought the crew to Mars can’t make it home without an AI. There’s also a lone killbot on the surface of Mars that the ground crew have to deal with. Finally, all of humanity is concerned that there will be yet another Pulse that will wipe out what remains of Earth’s human society. It was quite the thing to see how the author brought it all together. Definitely a worthy trilogy!

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review 2016-06-26 19:08
In the Ruins by Kate Elliott
In the Ruins - Kate Elliott

This is an okay installment, better than the one before. But it’s only the first half of the final book, which was split in two due to length (a counterintuitive choice; seven is such a prominent number in the mythology of the series that I had a hard time believing this wasn’t the plan all along). As such, it’s incomplete, ending without a climax or the close of any plot arcs. And the structure is strange; we spend a good bit of time with Liath and Sanglant in the first 2/3 of the book, only for them to disappear without fanfare from the final third. Meanwhile Alain pops up only a couple of times.

This book begins just after the cataclysm, and the post-apocalyptic atmosphere is an interesting change (though I am skeptical about the world’s being so suddenly depopulated). It’s as if the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs hit instead during the early Middle Ages. Meanwhile, toward the end of the book we get an Ashioi POV, as they seem poised to play a larger role in the next book – while I’m not sold on that plotline yet, their portrayal all along seems to have been a clever bit of misdirection. Up to this point I’d thought of them as elves, in large part because they were seen as almost mythological beings, but now they clearly seem to be Aztecs, not elvish at all.

For the most part though, this series has gone on too long for me (please keep in mind that I have little patience for long series). The machinations of Hugh and Antonia have just gotten old; once a villain has been thwarted before, continuing to watch them pursue the same goal through new strategies loses its luster for me. Meanwhile, the couple of developments that did start to excite me were quickly diffused.

Constance’s proposal to challenge Sabella was an exciting moment . . . followed up by Sabella’s army retreating the moment Alain stares down a couple of scouts. And then Sanglant’s being forced to choose between Liath and the crown could have been a huge plot development, but then . . . he isn't.

(spoiler show)

And our heroes don’t have a whole lot to do, which draws attention to the wrong things, like Liath’s wildly fluctuating social skills – one minute her cluelessness seems explicable only by reference to the autism spectrum, the next she comes up with some astute solution – and scenes of “political maneuvering.” I always hate these in fantasy, because they just boil down to the author comparing the imperturbability of everyone present. In fairness, this is in no way unique to Elliott, who has fewer such scenes than most epic fantasy authors whose books include power struggles among the nobility.

Overall, a decent read, but a seven-book series is too long to hold my interest, even when the major conflicts change from book to book. I’m ready for it to be over.

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review 2016-05-07 00:00
The Ruins
The Ruins - Scott B. Smith,Patrick Wilso... The Ruins - Scott B. Smith,Patrick Wilson This is one of the books set aside for the Horror Aficionados May reads. Up until now I had heard that this book was fantastic, scary, and thought provoking. Remind me to never trust people again when they mention a book is scary, my idea of scary is apparently different. This book had a lot of gross situations that tried my stomach, but that was about it.

So, this tale begins in Mexico (Yucatan peninsula). We have four Americans who are on vacation before they go off and start school. There is Eric and his girlfriend Stacy and Jeff and his girlfriend Amy. The reason why I wrote it that way was the simple fact that Stacy and Amy may as well be named Frick and Frack for as much attention as Mr. Smith pays attention to them over the course of this book. This book was primarily about the issue between the boys in this book. We all know that girls are stupid.

The foursome befriends a German tourist named Mathias and some Greeks, one specifically named Pablo. Mathias is trying to find his brother Heinrich who has run off to find the love of his life (he says) that is off to do an archaeological dig. And this is how I know I am a terrible person. If I am on vacation, and one of my friends says, "hey, let's go with this guy we just met to go find his brother." I would lower my sunglasses down, look my friend right in the eye, and ask them had they lost their damn mind. Bah.

The group of now 6 decides this is something smart they should do and off they go with a poorly drawn map to find Heinrich. After Amy is warned by their driver (I think it was Amy, honestly I can't even remember, and I refuse to go back and re-listen) about this being a bad place, the group goes forward. Coming across a Mayan village, the group finds a hidden path and chooses to take that. And that's where things go from bad to worse for the group.

I am not going to spoil what happens to the group or what they find except to say that I had a hard time believing it and maybe it would have been set up better if Mr. Smith had set up a prologue or something describing the "bad" thing and how the hell the "bad" thing was even able to do what it did because it made no damn sense at all. I am going to keep saying "bad" thing because why not be repetitive in this review, the entire book was repetitive to the point it almost made me bang my head to knock myself unconscious.

I am not even going to get into the characters because they all as one had no depth. They were six faceless characters who kept making dumb decision after dumb decision. Being trapped and you decide to just sit in the sun and get drunk on tequila? You also take some of your water to wash the pee off your foot because some splasehd on you when you went to the bathroom? I mean good grief.

Seriously, this was one of the worst books I have ever listened to. I think it was a combination of poor writing and the lack of life in Patrick Wilson's voice. Let us not speak of his horrible attempts at an accent for Mathias and when he voiced Amy or Stacy. It was terrible. There was no inflection in the man's voice at all. He might as well have been reading the Sunday papers out loud to a blank wall.

The setting of the Yucatan peninsula wasn't very well used. We just had a lot of Mayans who were sitting around and did not speak English or Spanish, but could hold guns/bows and arrows, etc. Riddle me this. If you know a place is dangerous, wouldn't you put up something besides some fronds to keep people out? Wouldn't you go around and ask someone who does speak English/Spanish to put up a Danger stay out sign? I mean the driver who took the group there spoke English and apparently knew what was going on in the area, so what the holy hell was going on there? I mean I guess the Mayans were in on it? Or not, who knows, this book doesn't do a great job of world building so there is a lot of guessing going on.

The ending was anti-climatic. It wasn't shocking, wasn't surprising in the least, and then I rolled my eyes at what looks to be same shit, different day, with another group. So do I recommend this?

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