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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dystopian World

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 23, 2003)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Farenheit 451 is a dystopian novel depicting a world in which firemen don't put out fires, they start them... to burn books.

Written over 50 years ago, some claim that this science fiction classic doesn't hold up well today... but I have to disagree with statements like that. In fact, I can't help but think that the readers who say this classic isn't as good today as it was when written must somehow have held unrealistic views of how good the book really is. As for myself, I held no unrealistic expectations that it would be anything more than the slightly better than average I always thought it was.

So, what still resonates for me in this book? Not just the general apathy of the citizens to politics and the distant war, but also their fear of the idea that people can disagree with each other and yet still hold valid opinions makes Farenheit 451 a favorite for me.  The people in Farenheit 451 seem to think that having an idea that's different than everyone else's is evil - as evil as reading and possibly believing what the books say; yet in the real world, it's the differences of opinion that make life interesting.

Unfortunately Bradbury was dead on with that prophetic vision of the future. The real world does look much like the world of Farenheit 451 in the apathy of the people toward politics and the distant war, also in the people's willingness to ban certain books because they disagree with or are afraid of the ideas contained within...

As for his women... well, those he depicted in the novel were not (I think) meant to represent EVERY woman... Unfortunately, I've known one or two like Montag's wife, and more than a few like Clarisse, so who's to say that he got it entirely wrong.  I like Clarisse a bit better than Mrs. Montag... quite a bit better... even though she comes across to me as somewhat of an airhead. These two aren't the only women in the book, but they are the most prominent ones... Unfortunately, Mrs. Montag's friends are much like her; shrewish and nasty, not someone with whom I would want to associate. I'm glad that not everyone is like those women. Even the dreamers like Clarisse get tiresome after awhile.

Still, more than 50 years after first publication, Farenheit 451 is worth reading and retains it's place in my personal library and in my heart. Recommended to science fiction readers age 15 and up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Creeping Horrors

Duma Key: A Novel
by Stephen King
Hardcover: 609 pages
Publisher: Scribner (January 1, 2008)
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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Demons Rule The Night

The Warded Man
By Peter V. Brett
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (March 10, 2009)
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

The Warded Man starts off as three separate but inter-related tales which take place in a land where demons rule the night.  Being outside after the sun goes down isn't wise or safe. There are many breeds of demon ranging from dog-sized to man-sized and larger, any one of which is powerful enough to kill a human. The demons don't travel alone, but like wolves and other animals, they hunt in packs.  While defensive magical symbols (known as wards) can be used to keep the demons from attacking, magic isn't the entire answer to the demon problem.

Mr. Brett's concept is enticing and his prose well written, his characters appealing.  I was hooked on page one and didn't want to put this book down until it was finished.  I became a part of this world while I was reading about how the characters survive, the primitive society in which they live, and, all too often, die prematurely. Simple things like infections, caused by close contact with sharp demon claws, are deadly because few know the herbs with which to treat such injuries.

The three tales entertwine even more closely near the end of this non-stop adventure. The low level of technology available to the general population and the even lower instance of literacy in this world are intriguing and bring another level of interest to this not-to-be-missed debut novel. I eagerly await the next novel in this brand new fantasy series, which I recommend to all readers of fantasy age 14 and up.

Note: The author has been collecting review links on his website. Among others, he links back to my review of The Warded Man here: http://www.petervbrett.com/news/#reviews

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Explore The Ancient Myths

A Short History of Myth
by Karen Armstrong
Paperback: 159 pages
Publisher: Canongate (2005)
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

A Short History of Myth is a greatly shortened and yet still precise history of how and why mythology was created and preserved for future generations. The volume is condensed into about 150 pages of highly readable text and 9 pages of references which amount to over 100 sources consulted by the author in preparing this volume. Enough information is given about the sources used that the reader can track down these references for him/her self if interested enough to follow up on the infomation presented in this volume.

Reading about the origins of mythology is a refreshing aside from my usual reading material without being too technical to understand and without being dry and boring as so many texts on the subject can be. I was intrigued with the mythological changes over the millennia and amazed at how similar some myths are to others and yet how differently they were presented to later generations.

For readers interested in mythology, this slim volume provides a wealth of information between its covers. A specialized volume like this one won't appeal to every reader, yet readers interested in the subject matter will enjoy it. Highly recommended as a starting point for those who are just getting interested in mythology and for those readers already interested in the subject who haven't read every book on the market.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Action Packed

Beat the Reaper: A Novel
by Josh Bazell
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (January 7, 2009)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at the worst hospital in town. He has a talent for medicine, a shift from hell, and a past he would prefer to keep hidden. Nicholas LoBrutto, Dr. Brown's new patient, has three months to live, and a very strange idea; that the good doctor is a hitman for the mob!

The story is non-stop action from the start, and a page turner that I found hard to put aside. One thing I found that detered some of my enjoyment of this novel was the foul language used by Dr. Brown and some of the other characters in the book, but I dismissed that as part of the characterization because the rest of the book is so interesting. There is a brief scene featuring nudity and consensual sex, and, throughout the book, also a certain amount of violence, which I figure goes with the territory in any story about a mob hitman.

The author's narrative style, alternating chapters point of view between doctor and mob hitman, is captivating; the story is very fast paced. Even after accounting for the language, sexual content, and violence, I can still rate this book a 4 star novel and recommend it to adults over 18 who aren't sensitive to things which some may find objectionable.