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, January 27, 2009

Adventure Awaits

The Thief Queen's Daughter
By Elizabeth Haydon
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Starscape (June 26, 2007)
Reading level: Young Adult

Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

I seem to have an affinity for choosing middle books of a series... but no matter. This second voume from The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme stands alone well. Nothing happening here depends on anything that happened in the first volume and though there are hints at what is to come in the third volume, those hints do not overwhelm the plot or readability of this volume.

The title character is a sassy, smart-mouthed kid, but also a resourceful and loyal friend. One should not trust too much in what she says - her mother has taught this girl some terrible things. Still, I could not help but admire the girl's audacity and downright outrageousness.

The Thief Queen's daughter has everything in it a fantasy afficionado could want. Adventure, drama, suspense, humor and (of course) plenty of fantasy. This book is a quick and easy read that I can recommend to fantasy lovers of all ages from 11 on up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Alternative Realities

The Journal of Curious Letters
(Book One of The 13th Reality Series)
By James Dashner
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (March 3, 2008)
Rated: 4 stars of 5 possible.

The premise of this novel is based on a few "what if" questions that create an interesting scenario. What if, every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created - the life that would have been had you made the other choice? What if these new realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities? Volume one of the new adventure series deals with the selection of the smartest, bravest youngsters who will become the realitants entrusted with this important mission.

I found The Journal of Curious Letters to be both creative and fun. The story was well written and the hardcover presentation is beautiful. Chapter titles and page headings are printed in an expressive and playful font to set the adventuresome mood. The nine black-and-white illustrations by Brian Beaus gracing this first edition are placed at strategic intervals to heighten the reader's interest without distracting him or her from the story.

Throughout the story, potential Realitants are given a letter from the Mysterious M.G. and a series of 12 clues, the answers to which will lead them on the adventure of their lives. Some of the clues weren't too difficult to figure out and I had the answer before I got to the point in the book where the characters had solved those little puzzles. Other clues took more time to solve. Some of the answers were surprising.

In all, I had a wonderful time reading this book and would recommend it to most fantasy readers ages 12 and up, with the caveat that some of the scenes - especially those from later in the story - might be a bit scary for the youngest readers.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Suspenseful and Entrancing

Seven Tears for Apollo
By Phyllis A. Whitney
Hardcover: 305 Pages
Publisher: Appleton-Century Crofts (1963)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

This romantic suspense novel is largely set in the Greek island of Rhodes. The beauty of this country comes through the author's descriptions of the places to which Dorcas, the story's main character, travels. The characters are realistic, the background believable enough that the reader is immediately transported into the story's gripping and suspenseful action. Dorcas is given reason to believe her husband has been killed in a plane crash near the beginning of the story. Not long after, strange things begin happening to her which she attributes to the people with whom her husband had been working.

One thing that might detract from the story for some is that Dorcas is overly impressionable for her age (early 20's) and that she's somewhat of a doormat - easily manipulated. Yet, if she were not that type of character, the rest of the story would not be as realistic or as captivating. While Dorcas does not always make the best choices for her situation, those choices are made somewhat more credible by her character type. If she were the strong, independent type of woman, the hair-brained choices she sometimes makes would not be as believable.

In all, I found Seven Tears for Apollo to be an enjoyable arm-chair voyage to the Island of Rhodes and recommend this book to readers of romantic suspense novels, with the caviat that there are a few scenes (mostly near the end of the novel) with a bit of violence.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Two Wars, One Man

Hallam's War
by Elisabeth Payne Rosen
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Unbridled Books (May 27, 2008)
Rated 5 stars of 5 Possible

At first glance, the reader might think Hallam's War is only another war story; but it very much is not JUST any war story. True, the novel does take place immediately prior to and at the beginning of the Civil War - or the "war between the states" as it was then called. Yet the Civil War quickly takes a back seat to the ethical struggles of Hugh Hallam, who has been forced to make some moral compromises due to being caught up in a maelstrom that leaves him no acceptable choices... so Hallam's War becomes the story of two very different types of war, both of which are fought by one resiliant and resourceful man.

While there is some romance involved, it is low-key, as befits a married couple with three children, one of them in his teens. Of far more prominence is the detail of the Civil War battles and the ethical and moral choices faced by the protagonist. Real historical figures make some brief appearances in this captivating and dramatic novel that grips the reader from the first page and doesn't let go until the last page is finished.

I can highly recommend this well-written and accurately researched novel to all readers of historical fiction from ages 18 and up. Due to some mature themes, readers under age 18 should check with their parents or guardians before reading this splendid novel.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Massive, Complex, but Worthwhile Reading

By Todd McCaffrey
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (November 11, 2008)
Rated: 4 Stars of 5 Possible

Okay, I'll admit it. I am a die-hard Pern fanatic. That being the case, I HAD to buy Dragonheart hot off the press... in fact, I placed my order for this latest volume in the Pern saga about eight months prior to it's release to be certain I didn't miss buying it... that said, I'm not sorry that I bought the book, however, after reading it, I realized I could have waited.

If you are new to Pern, Dragonheart isn't your easiest entry; in fact, I don't recommend that you start with this novel if you've never read any of the Dragonriders of Pern series. Some might find the previous statement a little shocking coming from such a fan as myself; Todd McCaffrey's latest entry in the Saga of Pern is complex. Dragonheart builds on the second interval/third pass story that Todd and his mom began with Dragon's Kin back in 2003. Start there if you're new to Pern then read Todd's first solo Pern novel, Dragonsblood and his other two collaborations with his mom before you get to Dragonheart.

Dragonheart is told from a different point of view than Dragonsblood, but covers much of the same storyline. Readers who have read the previous novel will find some storyline that's familiar and some that's not so familiar in Dragonheart. Todd is laying down the groundwork for several massive novels with this book and providing some backstory that's necessary to understand the future novels he is planning to write.

Yes, Dragonheart can stand alone, however, it is greatly enhanced by reading the novels of the second interval/third pass era of Pern which came before. The prior work provides backstory and lays the groundwork to better understand this massive and complex tale. Recommended to fans of the Dragonriders of Pern saga and to those readers with an affinity for long and complex fantasy or science fiction novels.