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

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: