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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Revealing Insights

Mommies Behaving Badly
Roz Bailey
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kensington (September 1, 2007)
Rated: 3 stars of 5 Possible

Some signs are hard to ignore... others you don't see until it's too late...and some guide you right where you need to be.

Ruby takes her stolen car as a sign that she and her family need to move away from the hustle and bustle of New York city. At first she finds it difficult to get to know her new neigbors and her husband is constantly away on business. If it wasn't for her new friend Ariel, another transplanted New Yorker, Ruby would be about ready to give it all up. And then life takes an unexpected turn, leaving Ruby and her children in a far-from-familiar place.

By turns witty and insightful, Roz Bailey's novel is chock full of adventure as she copes with first the move from New York, and then with the ups-and-downs of her new life and new-found fame when she publishes her new novel, which her agent is excited about but her old publisher wants nothing to do with.

Never a dull moment passes while reading this story that takes an honest (if at times, all too revealing) look at marriage and family.

Recommended for readers of chick lit ages 16 and up.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Magical Adventure

Don't Hex with Texas
by Shanna Swendson
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 29, 2008)
Rated: 4 stars of 5 possible

Don't Hex with Texas
probably would have gotten a 5 except the first three or four chapters felt forced to me. I don't know if the writing could have taken some revision or if that part of the story just didn't work well. The interest was there, it just seemed too odd somehow to fit with the rest of the book.

The first few pages of Don't Hex with Texas hooked my interest so I couldn't put the book down, despite the awkward feeling of the story I had in those pages and a couple chapters beyond. I was just too swept up in Katie Chandler's adventure to care much about that awkwardness; maybe I wouldn't have had that feeling If I had read the first three books in the series ahead of this.

Coming into the series in the 4th book could put the reader at a disadvantage, but I thought Don't Hex With Texas stands alone well. The characters are well developed, there's enough fantasy to the story to keep it interesting for me, and some romance is thrown in to the mix. In all, Don't Hex With Texas is a blend of madcap comedy and all-around fun that I can recommend to anyone 12 and up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Choose to be a Vampire - or not

Sucks to Be Me
The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe)

by Kimberly Pauley
Hardcover: 294 pages
Publisher: Mirrorstone (August 26, 2008)
Rating: 5 stars of 5 possible

Well, now that the Sucks to Be Me Launch Party is over, and I've had a chance to read the book, I'll have to say, my only regret is that it had to end... Who would have known that a vampire story doesn't have to be scary?

Yes, Sucks to Be Me is a vampire story, but nothing like you've ever read before... so throw all your old notions and pre-conceived ideas about vampires out the window because that's not what you'll find in Kim's new book. What you will find is a barrel of fun... vampire style. Kim started with a list of the myths and legends about vampires, tossed away the obvious ones, and had some fun with the rest. For instance, What if you could choose to be a vampire or not? Do Vampires have a code of ethics?

Mina Hamilton is a typical teen with a best friend and all the usual worries about hot boys, prom night, and keeping secrets. Humans aren't supposed to know about vampires, but Mina has known about her parents for many years, and now she needs to make the choice. The only thing is, she can't tell her best friend about any of the strange things happening... and those things get stranger by the minute.

Mirrorstone has done an awesome job in producing this novel. The cute litte vampire bat on the back cover, the pages of Mina's notes and lists that she writes while she's trying to make her life-changing decision, those Myth versus Truth snippets at the head of each chapter, all add to the appeal of this book, while Mina's sweet voice and personality captivate the reader and make you want to know how it all turns out in the end. Well, you'll just have to read the book.

Recommended for readers age 12 and up who are in search of adventure and a little something different for their reading enjoyment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dramatic, Fast-moving and Deep

Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River
Lyda Phillips
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (August, 2005)
Paperback: 120 pages
Rating: 5 stars of 5 possible

Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River is the story of a troubled girl, Tiffin who attends summer camp. While at camp, Tiffin makes life miserable for all concerned. One camp counselor, El Campbell, realizes that there must be a cause for Tiffin's disruptive behavior and depression. In her attempts to get to the bottom of the trouble, El uncovers the facts about the death of the girl's younger sister, who drowned a year or so earlier. Some of the other girls think Tiffin killed her sister. In reaching out to Tiffin, El discovers some things about herself as well.

By turns captivating and nerve-wracking, Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River addresses some compelling issues. On the one hand, the novel masquerades as a coming of age story about some high school graduates having their first job as camp counselors in the summer before college and dealing with teen issues of sex, drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, it also deals with deeper issues such as suicide, sibling grief, guilt, anger, rejection, abnormal behavior, denial, and bullying, which the author handles in an expert fashion.

In particular, Tiffin's family provoked me since they were in denial of the child's need for serious help, dismissing her behavioral problems as "minor" and rejecting her by placing her in summer camp for six weeks while they went on the campaign trail.

Peace I Ask of Thee, Oh River certainly deals with some very interesting questions. While the reading level is suitable for ages 9 thru 12, the subject matter does handle some mature themes that may not be appropriate for this younger age group. Recommended for ages 15 and up if you like fast-moving, dramatic, thought provoking novels dealing with real issues and depicting real characters that you can care about.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Adventure and Violence

by Harry Harrison
Hardcover: 456 pages
Publisher: Benbella Books
Rated: 4 stars of 5 possible

The classic science fiction trilogy is reprinted together with a short story from the same universe. Deathworld 1 (1960), Deathworld 2 (1964), and Deathworld 3 (1968) represent formulaic science fiction in which the set of main characters battle for their lives on three separate but quite deadly worlds. The object of their adventures is always survival. The obstacles that Jason dinAlt (a gambler and scoundrel) and his friends overcome are different in each story, yet the components of each feel very much the same, only employed in different settings.

My first reading of these novels, when I was a teen, happened at a time when I had only recently discovered science fiction. I read them then because my school library had them all. I found them to be worthwhile entertainment. I chose to read these stories again many years later to see if, as sometimes happens, my opinion of the entertainment value had changed over the years. Now, I find that the first novel is a little better written than the sequels, though if you like this sort of story, you should at least read the sequels once. They're a fun and interesting way to spend an evening or two.

A Deathworld short story, "The Mothballed Spaceship" is included in my copy of this classic Science Fiction omnibus, and I was excited, at first, to discover that there was something new to me. My excitement quickly evaporated as I read through the first page or two of the story; dull and forgettable are the kindest things I can say about the short story, which should never have been published. It feels unfinished, as if "The Mothballed Spaceship" were the seed of a fourth Deathworld novel that was never fully developed - but for good reason. There's really not much about the story that's interesting enough to develop further.

I couldn't help but care for Jason, scoundrel though he may be...he's lovable in his own way, and his girlfriend, Meta, is just awesome...in fact, I'm just a little bit jealous of her capabilities. That said, Deathworld isn't for everyone. There's major violence involved and the fights get bloody at times. Recommended for ages 16 and up if you don't mind some violence in your entertainment, and of course if you like Science Fiction.