Reading List

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We went to see the Symphony over the July 4th weekend since they do a great show with fireworks at the end. Getting a spot in the shade does require getting there as they open the gates and that is a perfect opportunity to get in some reading. Fiction can be a great escape but the last two books I’ve read both kind of left me down at the end.

The first was an action/adventure type story. Main protagonist is the type of hero I like – someone with some personal demons but always guided to do the right thing. To be honest, the set up required a totally random meeting between him and the damsel in distress. You are reading fiction and it requires some suspension of belief but it just felt way too random – like a one in a million shot they’d both end up in that place at that time.

I’m not a fan of a big body count in books like this. The genre certainly requires some and I can live with that – although I tend to get too attached to the characters so having one I like killed off can be a problem. What is equally disturbing to me is the random ones. Someone in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets killed just so we know the main antagonist is an evil dude and deserves to be offed at the end.

I don’t remember his previous books being like this but this one was. Plus the antagonist was pure evil. Maybe it is because we keep seeing so much real evil in the world that it was hard to have to read about it. Now, you may be wondering why I would choose this genre as an escape when a lot of it can read like a news headline and that’s a good question. Mostly it is just the ending when the hero wins and life is good again.

But this one was a challenge. The villain was almost super naturally evil and the body count was much higher than I wanted. So it left me more uneasy than anything else.

The second one is my guilty pleasure genre – a YA fantasy themed story. I love the worlds they create in those stories because you can try to imagine what life would be like there. That part is the escapism. You read about this fictional place but if the author describes it well enough, then it feels like you are actually there. I know you can just focus on the action sequences but I get as much enjoyment out of the story telling and the little details about life in this various fictional places.

Of course, there is content for the “shippers” who only care about relationships between the main characters. I can live without that but we all read for different reasons.

This is the second book in a series. So one problem is just trying to remember things from the first story that are referenced in the second. Takes a bit for it to start feeling familiar again. I mean the big plot points are easy but some of the characters weren’t that memorable so I can’t quite place them or what happened to them in the first story.

Sometimes, there is this “trilogy pattern” where the first story introduces you to the cast of characters and the good and evil. The first story usually ends on a high note because the good guys (who are usually outnumbered and outgunned by the bad guys) win something. The second story tends to be the darkest and ends with evil looking like it has won and the good guys are at their lowest point. This just sets up the third story for good to win and set all right with the world again.

Yes, I’m a sucker for a happy ending so the second book can be a problem. In this case, the main story is that we have a little band of companions taken from the various countries in this world who are tossed together to save the world from the big bad.

At the end of the book, it looked like our heroes were going to score another victory but the odds turned and suddenly all but our main protagonist were captured by the big evil dude and his evil sidekick. So she’s all alone and has no real idea of where to go and what to do.

I think what bothers me the most about endings like this is the sense of hopelessness and despair because you can get dragged into that. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world so who wants to finish a book and end up feeling sad when you were reading the book to escape from the real world for a bit. I know why they write cliff hangers like this because they want you to rush out and by the third book as soon as it becomes available but I just hate how it makes me feel after finishing it.

So now I’m on the look out for some happy piece of fluff to get my mind off these last two stories.

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