About This Blog


This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Mysteries, Could Be Better Integrated

Mystery Time By Jane Hannah tries to be two mysteries in one. The first mystery has to do with murder, and that one catches your attention right off the bat, and does a fairly good job of hanging on until the very end.

The second mystery has to do with a watch currently owned by the female protagonist. The watch is an heirloom left to her by her deceased husband.

As the story progresses, it swings back and forth between the murder chapters and the watch chapters, but most of the transitions aren't as well done as one could expect, hence the loss of one star from my rating. At times, I even questioned the relevance of some parts of the story of this antique watch, until I remembered that it had been stolen early in the novel. Better connection of the chapters that concern the watch to the chapters about the murder investigation could make this novel more interesting.

Recommended to those who like murder mysteries. This review has also been posted on LibraryThing and on Amazon.com.

FTC regulations mandate that I disclose that I received a copy of the novel free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Dystopian World That Seems All Too Possible

The Digital Sea is an intriguing dystopian novel with sufficient plot and character development to hook the reader within a few pages. Those who like science fiction, mystery and/or techno-thrillers will enjoy this novel. The Digital Sea is also the first novel of a trilogy; this becomes very apparent at the end of the novel when the story arc concludes but subtly suggests that soon there will be other events to disrupt the normal life of Zel Aurora and her daughter.

The characters are not all introduced together, but each is featured in his/her own chapter at the beginning which also includes some backstory for each member of the vast cast of this novel. This type of construction makes the story difficult to follow in the beginning, but perseverance is worthwhile. Readers having difficulty with the number and mission(s) of the characters may wish to make a cheat sheet.

While reading this novel, I noted that some of the transitions from one chapter to the next were not as smoothly accomplished as I could have wished. This is particularly true in the beginning, but I also noted a similar effect between the last few chapters. It is less apparent in the middle of the book. The rough transitions did not detract from my over-all enjoyment of the book.

Note for those intending to read the next two novels in this series: Start with The Digial Sea, so that you will have sufficient indoctrination into this world to enjoy the followups.

This review also appears on LibraryThing, and on Amazon.com as well as any other appropriate place I may find to post it.

FTC regulations require the following disclosure: This novel was received free from the author in exchange for this review. Despite the above statement, I want the reader to know the following as well: I chose to read The Digital Sea because I wanted to read it. I was not obligated in any way to accept the author's offer of the free copy. The above review (excluding this paragraph) is worded exactly the same as it would have been worded had I chosen to purchase my copy of this book. Receiving a free copy of the novel has not altered my opinion of the author's work. This review contains my honest opinion of the book, for which I have received no financial compensation.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Social Media - A Word from your Blogger - Lady D.


Nearly every week, I find another invitation to join one or another of the social media sites out there has found its way into my inbox.  Let's settle this here and now.  I have no intention whatsoever of belonging to any of those social media sites. Facebook, Linkedin, Google Plus, and now Twitter... seem to have attracted most everyone involved with writing and/or publishing. Except me. Instead of being attracted to these types of sites, I am repelled by them to the point where I've just about stopped doing anything on the internet in order to avoid having to decline such invitations. 

At least Linkedin allows me to contact the person sending the invitation via email so that I can tactfully decline such invitations. Facebook and Twitter have no such option, that I know of.  I'm not certain of Google Plus, but also not interested enough to find out how that works.

My reasons for declining to join social media sites:

1. Facebook and Google Plus require the use of my real name, which I consider to be a violation of my privacy.  Not sure about Linkedin or Twitter, but suspect the same is true of those sites as well.

2. Facebook won't allow me to have a verified account without my supplying a cell phone number. I tried this in late 2011; with no way to verify my account unless I revealed my cell phone number,  I deleted the Facebook account. I'm not about to reveal that number to ANY website. My cell phone is for communication with friends and family, and for emergencies, it is not for frivolous things such as joining a website. Besides, I trust social media sites (especially Facebook) like I trust my worst enemy - not one bit.


3. My other objection to Twitter is the brevity of the posts.  I couldn't possibly post anything useful within such a short limitation. That limitation makes Twitter even more useless to me than the other sites mentioned in this post.

A Request: 
If you know me, please do NOT invite me to join any social media site. This goes double for you if you do not know me, and triple if I don't even know who you are.  Either way, the answer is unequivocally NO.  I won't change my mind, or even give that type of site a fair trial.  I already belong to enough different sites and blogs that I've no time for or interest in joining another site.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Log Your Practice Sessions for Better Results

The Complete Music Practice Record Book:
A Six-Month Log and Journal for Dedicated Students

by Larry Zafran
Larry Zafran (2011),
Paperback, 108 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

At first glance, one might be intimidated by all the blank spaces in this practice log, yet filling the pages with your information in the vast variety of categories provided by the author can help you to better monitor your own or your child's practice sessions while studying any instrument.

Pros
While this practice log was not originally intended for a beginner, it is widely adaptable and can be used by music students of any age and for any instrument. A small corner of each practice record has been allocated for parents or teachers to initial if this is required. The author has thought of most everything one would like to track and provides spaces for each item in a concise half-page a day format. He has left the date spaces blank, so you can start at any time. If you skip a day or have a poor practice session, there's even a space to indicate why.

Neutral
There are a few categories of information for which space is provided that I will probably not use. Mood(s); Meditation, Breathing, Physical Exercise, etc. aren't the sort of data that I consider to be part of my practice time, while Performance/Rehersal/Recordings are not something in which I am involved at the moment... but which I might use in the far future. However, these few categories currently of no use to me may be useful to others. The book would best be used with a fine point pen or very sharp pencil and neat, small writing.

The author pointed out to me that this book is not spiral bound... which I would definitely have noticed on my own. I doubt that, for such a slim volume, the lack of a spiral binding is going to be a large handicap. Even so, the lack of a spiral binding is something that can be remedied at many local copy shops such as Kinko's.

Cons
The spaces provided to write in aren't very convenient; they feel cramped for someone with large, sloppy handwriting like mine... Each practice log or self-assessment section has been given a medium width bold border that helps visually divide the page, and which some may view as an asset. On the negative side, this same border helps the page feel more cramped, especially to those of us who normally write large. The months have been rounded to 28 days, which, over the course of one year (two of these books) leaves out 29 daily practice sessions, and four personal assessment records - approximately another whole month of practice data; hence the four star rating of a potentially five star product.

Possible Improvements
I'd like this to be a full page for each day, with a bit more space to write for the day, especially in the notes section at the bottom of each daily practice log. The page size need not continue to be 8 X 10 inches; I think 6 X 9 inches would work as well with the single daily practice log per page. I'd like to see the book expanded to handle an entire 52 week year. The weekly assessment sections could remain in place at one after every 7 daily entries; only the monthlies would need to be arranged differently, with one being placed at roughly every 1/12 of the way through the log.

Recommended to all dedicated music students and professionals. This review is based on a full copy of the book provided to me free by the author in exchange for review.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dark Hunter Continues with: The Guardian

Today, I have a treat for you Dark Hunter fans... a short synopsis and the trailer for The Guardian, the newest installment of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series.

About The Guardian:

As a Dream-Hunter, Lydia has been charged with the most sacred and dangerous of missions. She’s to descend into the Nether Realm and find the missing god of dreams before he betrays the secrets that could kill all of them. What she never expects is to be taken prisoner by the Realm’s most vicious guardian.


Seth’s time is running out. If he can’t hand over the entrance to Olympus, his own life and those of his people will be forfeit. No matter the torture, Seth hasn’t been able to break the god in his custody. Then there’s the beautiful Dream-Hunter Lydia: She isn’t just guarding the gates of Olympus—she’s holding back one of the world’s darkest powers. If she fails, an ancient curse will haunt the earth once more and no one will be safe. But evil is always seductive...

And now, the trailer:



SHERRILYN KENNYON LINKS:


Websites:

Official Sanctuary and Sherrilyn Kenyon for more about SHERRILYN KENYON, THE GUARDIAN, and all of her novels.

To sign up and access an exclusive bonus scene from THE GUARDIAN, visit: Heroes and Heartbreakers

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Girl, A Garden and A Secret

The Girl in the Garden
Kamala Nair
Grand Central Publishing (2011),
Paperback ARC, 320 pages
Rated 5 Stars of 5 Possible

The Girl in the Garden is a tale of, well, a girl and a garden... and a secret. Of course that brings to mind The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in its entirety in 1911. But this girl and this garden are different; as is the story. This is definitely not a re-telling of the classic tale, but a new story by a debut author brave enough to handle family issues such as abuse and divorce.

Ms Nair uses the story-within-a-story method of telling this tale. The bulk of the story is a remembrance of one summer spent in India when the narrator was about ten years old. That portion of the story is also a manuscript that the protagonist leaves for her betrothed. The author has an engaging style all her own that keeps the reader deeply engrossed in the story and turning page after page, eager to devour this compelling tale. I quite often say of horror tales that I favor the ones that keep me up all night... well, The Girl in the Garden is no horror tale, but it did keep me up all night... and it was a night well-spent, too.

I received an advance review copy of The Girl in the Garden from another reviewer. This review is uncompensated and also unexpected by the author and publisher, neither of whom had any knowledge that this book would pass through my possession. I found this book just too good to keep to myself, so I'm passing it on to someone else... This review is being posted on Dragon Views, Amazon.com, LibraryThing and YABooks Central.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sneaky, Subtle and Deceptive

Duma Key
by Stephen King
Scribner (2008),
Hardcover, 592 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Edgar Freemantle, a construction contractor in Minneapolis, suffers major injuries in a freak accident. By the time he recovers from the majority of his injuries, and most of the resulting confusion has passed, his wife has left him. Shortly after his release from the hospital, Edgar decides to start his life over again. Since his injuries have resulted in the inability to resume his former career, Edgar decides to re-establish his connection to the artist within. He moves to Florida, and an island called Duma Key.

In a frenzy of creation, Edgar paints enough pictures to put on a one artist exhibit in a near-by town. Edgar's pencil sketches and paintings seem benign, but are they? Duma Key isn't just any horror novel. It's sneaky, subtle, and deceptive... The horror creeps up on you like a thief in the night; it reaches out and grabs you before you even realize it's there. Duma Key is a page-turner; once it grabs you it does not let go.

A must read for Stephen King's fans, Duma Key would also be ideal for the horror enthusiast who has never read a Stephen King book. In fact, Duma Key is probably Mr. King's most brilliant and horrifying novel to date*.  I recommend that everyone read this with the lights on... no, not just your reading lamp... you need every light in the house turned on for this one.  Even then, Duma Key will keep you up all night.

This uncompensated review has been published on LibraryThing, Amazon.com and Dragon Views.

*Note: This review was written in 2008, shortly after I read this book, which I purchased "hot off the press".  Subsequent books by this author have been published, but are not considered here, as they did not exist - except possibly in the author's mind - when this review was originally written.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Medieval Scotland - At War

A Kingdom's Cost
J. R. Tomlin
J. R. Tomlin, 2011
Kindle Edition
Print length, 262 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible.

A Kingdom's Cost takes place in medieval Scotland as the Scottish attempt to take back their land and their homes from the British invader, Edward Longshanks. 

This novel could be enjoyed not only by those who love historical fiction, but also by those just looking for something good to read.  Indeed, one can find action, adventure, romance, suspense and many other story elements along with well-developed characters and a page-turning, gotta-know-what-happens-next tale that keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

As with any tale that takes place during a turbulent period in history, this one has plenty of violence, so may not be suitable for everyone. My Kindle version of A Kingdom's Cost was received free from author in exchange for review.  This review has been posted at various sites, including but not limited to LibraryThing,Amazon.com and my blog, Dragon Views.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Post - Halloween Books to Unleash Your Inner Kid

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb cover
Today's post is by MJ Ware, Author of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb.  Thanks, MJ for helping promote my blog. Lady D.

Even before publishing Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB), I wrote a lot of horror stories. However, since I write almost exclusively for kids and teens my stories aren't anything like your traditional, terrifying, horror stories. They're more blood and snot than blood and guts. With that in mind, I've compiled a list of great books to wake up your inner child, or maybe your inner young adult, this Halloween season.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – I'm starting off with this one because, as a YA book it will appeal to more adults, plus it has zombies! Mary lives in the woods as part of a community surrounded by a fence that (usually) keeps the undead out. This one is really more of a romance novel with zombies. Still, it has great imagery which really makes it spooky.

The Witches by Roald Dahl – This book is definitely a kid's book, but it's so well written, anyone who loves books will enjoy it. And, compared to most of Dahl's other books, it’s pretty dark; in fact it's one of the 100 most banned children's books on account of the violence.

Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury – It doesn't get any more Halloween than this. It's a great story about a gang of guys (and one girl) who run into a haunted house while trick-or-treating. After you finish the book, check out the Emmy award winning cartoon version:



Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Gaiman is a master of scary books and Coraline is one of his best. Even if you've seen the movie, don't skip the book. It's a quick read at 35k (and it's one of those books that's hard to put down). Once you're finished, you might want to check out Gaiman's more adult themed The Grave Yard Book.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – Okay, Bradbury is one of my favorite authors, so he's allowed two books on the list. Something Wicked This Way Comes, is much darker than The Halloween Tree, having deeper and more serious themes. It was published as an adult book, but really, it's a coming of age story that resonates with young and old alike.

Welcome to Horrorland by R.L. Stine – What list of scary books would be complete without something from the Goosebumps series? Obviously, this one's light reading and only for readers who enjoy kidlit. With its fast action and short chapters it's also a great choice for that reluctant reader in your life.

About the author:

M.J.A. Ware, known as M.J. to his friends, lives in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains with his wife and two daughters. He wrote Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb because he felt there was a need for a zombie book with a broader appeal than just hard-core horror fans. A book that would not only appeal to both adults and teens, but would be teen safe.

When not writing about aliens, monsters and ghosts, he runs a company where he designs award winning video arcades. He’s currently polishing his latest novel, Girls Bite, a paranormal vampire story told from a guy's perspective.

Find SZJMB at: Amazon (print and ebook) Barnes & Noble  SmashWords  Apple

Win a Free ebook copy SZJMB. Enter by 10/31. Winner chosen at random and will be announced on or around 11/1.



Note from Lady D: If you like guest posts, comment here on the blog. I'll try to arrange more such posts according to the feedback I receive from you readers. Commenting is welcome and, at the moment, unmoderated.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Continuing Saga

An Echo in the Bone
By Diana Gabaldon
Bantam (2010),
Mass Market Paperback, 1232 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 Possible

An Echo in the Bone continues the saga of Claire and Jamie Fraser, beginning where A Breath of Snow and Ashes leaves off.  While this volume came in a couple hundred pages shorter than the previous two volumes, it is nevertheless excruciatingly long. An Echo in the Bone is neither the best of the series, nor the worst.  My favorites by far are the earliest three volumes... but I like this one better than the previous two.

The highly detailed plot and the vast number of fully developed characters in this series make the novels challenging to read, yet enjoyable for those who don't demand total accuracy in the historical content of a novel. Even though I have been reading this series from the beginning, I still find most of the transitions between centuries disconcerting... but I noticed that the letters from Claire and Jamie to their daughter often make a good trasition back to the present day.  I just wish the transitions getting back to the 18th century were as clear and focused.

If you have picked up this book without reading at least a few of the preceeding six volumes, it's probably not a great place to start. Read the series beginning with Outlander first, aka Cross Stitch in the UK. I recommend not skipping volumes in this series because there are places in each that refer back to key events in the other novels.  The references to earlier events do not fully repeat the previous material, so you could miss something if you try to skip sections of the saga.

Recommended to fans of the series, who have read all the previous volumes before cracking open the covers of this one.  This unsolicited and uncompensated review has been published on Dragon Views, Amazon.com, LibraryThing and any other site deemed appropriate by the reviewer.

Book 1: Outlander  5 stars
Book 2: Dragonfly in Amber  5 stars
Book 3: Voyager  5 stars
Book 4: Drums of Autumn  4 stars
Book 5: The Fiery Cross  4 stars
Book 6: A Breath of Snow and Ashes  4 stars