"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I know I have confessed my love and admiration for Jodi Picoult before but seriously, she is my pen-wielding hero. Sage's journey into her grandmother's past and the resulting examination of her own present had me completely ensconced for the duration. I could not put this down. I stayed up half the night and read at every available moment until the final page. WWII is one of the most widely written about times in our history. Rightfully so, of course. It's hard to imagine another event that had such a dramatic impact on so many lives around the world. Picoult flexes her literary prowess by taking a story that's been told hundreds of thousands of times and presenting it in a way that pierces the reader's heart anew. Reading The Storyteller made me feel as though I was being introduced to the horrors of the Holocaust for the first time. Is there anything better in this entire world than a novel that has you crying and cheering and hoping and holding your breath? If there is, I cannot call it to mind just now... Thank you, Jodi Picoult, for the gift you've given me in the form of The Storyteller.

You will find an official plot summary at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/779919764.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

City of Lost Dreams, the sequel to City of Dark Magic, surprised me by surpassing its predecessor on every level. I wish I had a 3.5 star option! The first book left me divided, feeling let down by some aspects and really loving the potential existing in others. Ambivalence is resolved in this second installment! The potential in City of Dark Magic is fully delivered in City of Lost Dreams. The heroine is more capable, easier to love. You get to know lovable Nico much better and get a sense for what he faces in his peculiarly long, long life. And Max...there's a character a girl can have a book crush on ;0). Flyte creates the character depth in this one that is missing in the first one, allowing the reader to emotionally invest in the fate of the characters in a way that wasn't possible in City of Dark Magic.  Though not entirely removed, the bizarre sex scenes that were so disruptive in City of Dark Magic were less abundant in City of Lost Dreams. Add in the exciting and unexpectedly twisty ending and you have a winner in City of Lost Dreams!

One of the things I love about reading across all genres of fiction is the opportunity to pick up something of value in what appears to be the unlikeliest place. I wasn't disappointed when I found the "life lesson" I'm always on the lookout for anytime I have a book in hand. This particular gem, delivered from the mouth of Pollina, young musical genius in need of a miracle, reminds City of Lost Dreams heroine of what's really important when she says, "Don't put such stock in this physical body. [...] Passion, in all its forms, that's what endures." Well said and an excellent reminder. I wasn't sure I would follow the work of Magnus Flyte after City of Dark Magic but coming off a City of Lost Dreams high, I can be counted among the many, many fans.

You will find a plot summary at: 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I really LOVED this book. I have been known to say that I don't enjoy Stephen King. It's true. I know; how could I make such a blanket statement in so stoic a manner? Somehow, even though I don't enjoy Stephen King (wink, wink), I managed to devour The Stand. Three times. I explained this away with some lame excuse like, "There's an exception to every rule!" I think I now know the truth of it. I don't enjoy gory horror novels. But this kind of horror, The Stand kind of horror, or the Under the Dome kind of horror-now that, I can get into. And did. For over 30 heart-stopping hours. I was totally into it. So I'm revising my bizarre tendency to write off Stephen King (no pun intended). I will no longer claim that I don't enjoy Stephen King because I do enjoy some Stephen King very much. This is one of them. 
Under the Dome, in a very The Stand kind of way, weaves an apocalyptic drama that tests every strength and flaw in the character of each of the characters. While in the throes of my fresh-out-of-the-closet Stephen King adoration I had a reader's revelation-Stephen King brilliantly shows readers everything about his characters, without emotion. You know the good and the bad of all the players involved. The information is delivered in a matter-of-fact tone that forces no emotional ties, but somehow creates them anyway. The flat-lined unemotional delivery adds horror to the horror and before you know it, it's 3:00 in the morning and you haven't eaten or drank water or taken a bathroom break in 7 hours. And who cares, where is that guy with the gun/generator/dog/girl?!?

You will find an official plot summary at:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6320534-under-the-dome?from_search=true

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Dang it... This series reminded me of a crossover vehicle. It wasn't quite The Hunger Games but it was parked on the same side of the lot as The Hunger Games. A similar look and feel without the blood curdling suspense. A little more thought provoking from a societal point of view but not nearly as heart-stoppingly intense. This final installment feels like a cop out. I think Veronica Roth could have come up with a much better ending had she not relied on the out-of-the-manual ending she chose. Some of my reader friends warned me that I would be disappointed. I resisted those dire predictions, refusing to believe Roth would let me down now, but alas.... 

You will find an official plot summary at: 

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

I am having a difficult time deciding if this was a two or three-star read for me. As a matter of fact, at last count I had changed the star rating on this review four times. Ugh. All elements for an engaging read are present and accounted for. Mystery, intrigue, romance, a dashing prince, a brainy beauty, alchemy, magic, drugs. Really. It is ALL here. But… (the ubiquitous "but") I found it incredibly difficult to keep things straight. One moment I felt I was enmeshed in a clever Young Adult novel (which this book never claims to be), the next I was hopelessly mired in plot complications I could not untangle and bizarre and disturbing sex scenes that had me checking the front cover to make sure I hadn't mindlessly picked up the wrong book right in the middle. Two days later I'm still not sure I've figured out what the premise was or how it was resolved. I read another review by a gentleman who felt the sex in the novel distracted from the story rather than added anything to the experience. I have to agree with him. The promiscuity of the musically inclined heroine really adds NOTHING to the story line. Shock factor? Maybe. That was the two-star part. 

Now for the three-star part- I loved the Beethoven stuff. I always love entertaining thoughts of famous historical figures going about their daily lives. Talking with friends, making bad jokes, eating too much. When Flyte's characters walk through time and visit the energy of characters' past I couldn't get enough. So I will try the next book in this series, conveniently released today,  and see where it takes me :0). 

You will find an official plot summary at: 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Trail of the Spellmans (Spellmans, #5) by Lisa Lutz

I love the Spellmans... They make me laugh out loud. Frequently. The humorous tone of these books makes the tender moments even more so, a result of their surprise appearance when I'm least expecting it. Is there any emotional response more satisfying than laughing through watery eyes? I don't think so :0). The only regret I have about this series is that there isn't a sixth one yet.

You will find an official plot line description at:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cross Roads by Wm. Paul Young

When I saw that the author of The Shack had produced another book I stopped what I was doing and downloaded it immediately. William Paul Young doesn't create characters with a level of humanness that makes them completely relatable. For the most part, his characters are pretty two-dimensional. He doesn't string together story lines and weave plots that have you gripping the edge of your seat and ringing up the book club girls to send them running to the internet to buy their own copy. What he does do is present incredible tales of faith. Tales of healing, and love, and spirituality. Tales of healing faith and loving spirituality. Cross Roads, like The Shack, prompted me to dig up all the spiritual beliefs I have or have had and reexamine them. Young makes me think about aspects of my character that I have pushed aside or not considered. 

The first 25% of the book was very difficult for me to get into but after the rough start I was hooked. There is a chapter in Cross Roads in which Young personifies ego, and all the other wonderful characteristics ego brings with it, that stopped me in my tracks. The characters he creates to represent those elements of human behavior are spot on and he had me dwelling on those things about myself for hours. 

Young's books are like toolboxes for me. I don't buy into everything he says. Some of it fits now, some of it might fit later, and still other elements may never fit my system of spiritual beliefs, but so many pieces of his perspective give me tools to riddle through my own life mysteries and I love that. The fact that his writing makes me think about the parts of me that I would like to improve, and that he even occasionally gives me a new way to tackle the work-in-progress that I am, will keep me rereading his work and waiting for anything new he may bless his readership with. 

You will find an official plot line description at:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Black Box (Harry Bosch, #18) by Michael Connelly

Good ol' Harry... I always love to revisit a character I've followed from their debut. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to read a Harry Bosch story that didn't include him fighting some inter-departmental battle to keep his job. Maybe there has been several like that and I'm just overlooking them right now. I really enjoy this series and I won't stop reading them but it does get a little repetitive-his constant fight to keep his job. I mean how many people can really hate a person that much to try and get him fired all the time? My mind kept wandering during the crime solving bits; I couldn't seem to get into the mystery deep enough to stay there. I did snap right to when the story circled back to Harry's daughter. I like her character and I'm curious to see where Connelly is going with her. Harry's getting up there; will Maddie be taking his place as Connelly's leading detective? 

You will find an official plot line description at:

A Window Across the River by Brian Morton

I am having a difficult time finding anything redeeming about this book. The characters were all pitiable with nothing to endear them, all  sad examples of unfulfilled adults. It was really a depressing read! I was particularly unimpressed by the main female character. She's immature and selfish, despite the few samples of caring thrown in. Ultimately there isn't anyone to care about in the novel. The cats I guess. I hope the cats make out all right in the end. 

There was one quote that stuck with me despite all else, delivered by Isaac: "When it's your party, you have no rights." Ha! In the throes of wedding planning myself, I had to ruefully agree with that sentiment. As backwards as it seems, in many ways that's actually true! 

You will find an official plot line description at: