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.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Russian Lit or Soap Opera?

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
Copyright 1873-1877
??? pages
Rated 2 stars of 5 possible

In nineteenth century Russia, carrying on an extra-marital love affair wasn't quite the thing to do. The novel follows the trials and tribulations of Anna Karenina as she rejects her passionless marriage in favor of pursuing her doomed love affair, enduring the hypocrasies of society.

Anna Karenina is said to have been Tolstoy's best work. If so, I certainly don't want to waste my time on anything else he wrote... This might have gotten a slightly better rating from me if I could have finished it... but the story is complex and each character seems to have multiple names, making the action - what there is of it - difficult to follow.  Most of the characters are forgettable and some downright unlikable, even though we are supposed to like them. Even though I liked Anna to a certain degree, I still wanted to alternately slap her for her lapses in judgement and support her for putting up with her very much unlikeable husband.

Someone else mentioned that it reads like a soap opera, and I have to agree, it very much does resemble the soaps. When things happen in this story, they happen slowly - almost as if one is watching a motion picture at slow speed. While I usually  enjoy long and complex novels, this book is different.  Anna Karenina is certainly not for everyone.  All I can say in it's favor is, I'm glad I didn't spend money on this novel.  I got mine from Project Gutenberg, hence no length listed.  Wikipedia has links to a couple other versions.  Recommended: If you're not 100% certain you will love this novel, either borrow it from your local library or read one of the versions available online free, otherwise it's not worth the cost.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Conspiracy on the High Seas

The Red Wolf Conspiracy
by Robert V. S. Redick
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (April 28, 2009)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Mr. Redick's debut novel, The Red Wolf Conspiracy, takes place in a fantasy world in which the main mode of travel is by sailing ship, which leads to adventure on the high seas for the story's main characters. This story begins shortly after a terrible war, when a six-hundred-year-old ship sets sail for enemy lands in order to create an enduring peace between the world's two greatest monarchies. When the characters uncover a dark conspiracy surrounding the Red Wolf, a legendary and dangerous artifact, they must face a host of dangerous foe and fight for their very lives while uncovering secrets that could destroy both empires.

While the first half of this novel is fast-paced and well written, I found the middle to be slow and cumbersome, not nearly as well-fashioned as the first part. The ending, though satisfactory and set to merge well with the sequel, failed to make up for the humps, bumps and downright clumsy feel of the middle part of the book, where some elements seemed ill-timed or out of place.  The concept is marvelous, very intriguing, but the middle of the story could benefit from some editing and possibly from another draft to smooth out some of the inconsistencies.

Over all, not bad for a first novel.  I eagerly await the next installment of the series and hope to see some improvement in the flow of the storyline. Recommended to adult fantasy and sea-faring fans who don't mind the violence, which may be disturbing to some readers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Killer Suspense!

by Catherine Coulter
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (June 24, 2008)
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Readers looking for action and suspense might be interested in Tailspin, which begins with a plane crash and the daring rescue of an unconscious man from the burning aircraft, continues with a young woman being stalked by a killer, and takes the reader on the ride of his or her life before the story ends.

Catherine Coulter is probably better known for her romantic suspense novels than for anything else, yet she has come up with a winner in the FBI series. The suspense develops rapidly and though there are some threads of a romance between two of this novel's characters, the romance isn't the main focus of the novel.

Though the story drags a little in a few places and some of the scenes appear a bit contrived, the novel is still worthy of reading; one's suspension of disbelief isn't pushed too far. Something new grabs the reader's interest on almost every page.  Recommended for adult readers looking for a change of pace from general fiction or a long binge of fantasy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Queen's Thief

The Queen of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (April 26, 2000)
Rated 4 Stars of 5 Possible

When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, discovers that his country is at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a Queen, he must steal peace. Eugenides discovers that his greatest triumph - and his greatest loss - comes in capturing something the Queen of Attolia thought she had lost long ago... © 2000, Megan Whalen Turner

This second volume of The Queen's Thief  series inserts its hook in the reader within the first few pages and does not let go until you've reached the end of this amazingly well written tale about the Queen of Attolia and the talented thief who can steal anything he wishes.  The shades of romance entertwined with the non-stop action and page-turning adventure make Mrs. Turner's novel into an unforgettable fantasy for young and old alike.

While many series books become too dependent on the volumes which preceeded them, The Queen of Attolia is either a new adventure for someone who has not read the first volume of the series or a beloved addition to the longer saga. The Queen of Attolia entertwines nicely with the first volume and leaves one expecting more, which, natually, follows in volume 3 of The Queen's Thief  series; yet this stand-alone quality is invaluable for leading readers to an author they may never have tried before as well as allowing the reader to choose whether to read a single adventure or the entire series.

Recommended for readers ages 9 to 99 who don't mind a bit of violence in their fantasy.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Decisions and Discussions

The Brave Apprentice
by P. W. Catanese
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Aladdin (June 21, 2005)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

"Seven at one blow!" That's what they say about the Brave Little Tailor -- he killed seven foes with one blow. But no one can prove it's even true. Besides, that took place a long time ago, and the Brave Little Tailor is now an old man. So what happens when an army of angry trolls invades his kingdom? Excerpt above © 2005 P.W. Catanese.

Find out when you read this further tales adventure. Rather than retelling the old fairy tales, P. W. Catanese has come up with the concept of sequelizing those old favorite stories, writing original stories based on the old concepts, but carrying them to a new generation of fans and introducing readers to new characters.

While the publisher markets this novel for readers between the ages 9 and 12, it is also fun for fantasy readers of any age who would like a quick, easy read without leaving their favorite genre.  As should be expected in a tale of good versus evil, there is some violence which may make this story unsuitable for readers ages 10 and under, depending on the individual reader's maturity level. With that caviat, I recommend parents of the younger readers preview this novel ahead of their children and turn it into a prompt for a great family discussion after everyone has read the book.