Book Reviews: What have you been reading lately?

From the Goodreads summary . . . .

THE RUINS by Scott Smith

Hardcover, 319 pages   Adult thriller, horror, survival


Published July 18th 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2006) 

Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine. Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there


It starts a little slow, but picks up after the first 20 pages and begins to build and build on the suspense for the next 80 pages before it kicks into high gear. Smith really fleshes out the story as it moves along, planting seeds of doubt and anxiety all the way. Disturbing and very graphic in parts. 
I expected it to end the way it did - hopeless. Overall a good read. I'm a little disappointed that the Ruins wasn't further explained. However, Smith milks the mysterious nature of the plants to full effect. Telling too much would take away from that. I agree with Horror Aficionado group member Jennifer that the characters weren't that likable, but Smith does a good job of letting us learn what makes them tick. It's easy to empathize with their situation. The root of THE RUINS exposes a damn good survival tale. I certainly don't regret reading this. Looking forward to next month's pick.


TH18656036E FEVER by Megan Abbott
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Little, Brown and Company
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.
The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.
As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.
A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation" (Laura Lippman).

Dark and disturbing. Deals with friendship, alliances/pack mentality, jealousy, possessiveness, and growing sexual awareness among teenage girls in small town. One popular girl goes down with convulsive fits and ends up hospitalized. This starts an epidemic of illness among first her friends and associates and then scores of young women. Drugs, contaminated water supplies, polluted air -- various theories arise as to the cause. Megan Abbott writes believable characters and seems to have a real understanding of the adolescent psyche. This is borderline horror, but not in the traditional sense. Call it a thriller, and enjoy a very satisfying read.


Hardcover, 321 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Harper Collins
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human only a dog could tell it. (less)

A quick read. Unique in that it's written by a dog. Very uplifting with an extremely satisfying ending. Dogs are intuitive and are the best supporters of their masters/owners/companions. About having a dream and not giving up in spite of numerous set-backs. I highly recommend this. 


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