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, November 30, 2009

In The Grip of History

Dragonfly in Amber
By Diana Gabaldon
Mass Market Paperback: 960 pages
Publisher: Dell (November 2, 1993)
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Dragonfly in Amber - Book 2 in the Outlander series - begins 20 years after Claire's return to her own century. Claire now feels she must reveal the truth she has concealed for those two decades, her daughter's lifetime. In recounting the story to her daughter and a friend, Claire resumes the tale of her 18th century adventures where the first volume left off. In presenting this second volume, the author has continued the same high-quality writing and vivid storytelling which characterized the first book.

The dramatic and compelling tale culminating immediately prior to the battle of Culloden in 1745-46 is a gripping page-turner that I found difficult to lay aside at the beginning, and near the end, turning those pages and finishing the book took priority over sleep. The historical elements of the Outlander saga thus far lend interest and drama to the tale as well as being intensely researched to bring elements of realism into the saga which prevent its being too incredible for belief.

Highly recommended for adult readers.  This review is published simultaneously on Amazon.com, Dragonviews and LibraryThing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Good Ol' Who-Done-It?

Bone by Bone
By Carol O'Connell
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (December 30, 2008)
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Two brothers take a walk in the woods; only one comes home. Then the father sends Orrin, his only remaining child away to finish school in a place where there are no woods in which to get lost.  For twenty years, the case is treated as a missing persons case, and no progress is made. Then bone, by bone, Josh, the younger brother starts coming home. A few weeks after the father starts finding the bones on his porch, Orrin returns.  He is now a veteran of the United States Army, Central Intelligence division, with many years of criminal investigation under his belt... and, after yet another of his brother's bones is found on the porch, he's suspcious...

When a child dies, the police take a hard look at the parents first.  Did the old man kill Josh? As we eagerly turn the pages to discover what happened to the young teen all those years ago, we discover that the brothers argued with each other on that walk before they parted. Has Orrin returned to the scene of his crime, or did someone else commit the murder?

As the story progresses, nearly everyone in town had reason to dislike Josh and his ever-present camera; anyone could be the murderer...  Carol O'Connell has created a host of interesting characters and written a compelling novel about them, a page-turner that mystery fans and enthusiasts of criminal fiction alike will not easily be able to put aside. I like the way this book was written because the characters are allowed to tell their story their own way. The point of view makes sense in relationship to the character's actions. The transitions make sense and facts don't seem out of place as with some books I've read lately.

Highly recommended.  This review is published simultaneously on Amazon.com, Dragonviews and LibraryThing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who Goes There?

Terminal Freeze
By Lincoln Child
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (February 24, 2009)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

On the surface, Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child resembles "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell writing as Don A. Stuart. Campbell's story of a small team of scientists in the far north who uncover a creature entrapped in the ice thinking the creature has been dead for thousands of years was published in Astounding Magazine back in 1938. Terminal Freeze was published about 7 decades later. In both stories, the scientists are proven wrong - dead wrong.  Inside, the details of Terminal Freeze are far different than "Who Goes There", and perhaps even more exciting.  The initial concept is a good one, good enough that two movies have been made from the older story (one in 1951, and another, which more closely follows the initial story, in 1982,) and a third movie based on that same story is now in production... and yes, Termial Freeze does read as if it was meant to be a movie...

In fact, having seen the two films made from the older story, I couldn't help but see some flashbacks from the 1982 film while reading Terminal Freeze... how the team of scientists in this novel allowed the same mistakes to happen as happened in the other story... only in this case, blame can be laid squarely in the lap of the film crew, who were sent to cover the discovery of this creature buried in the ice... and that's where a lot of the differences come in.

Lincoln Child had to put his own stamp on the story and include his own twists, which, I'll admit were interesting in their way. Terminal Freeze is a page-turner, written for those of us who enjoy thrillers with some science fictional content. It's not too likely I would have bought this book because of it's resemblence to "Who Goes There?" but I am glad I read it...

Recommended for those who like thrillers with some scientific background.  This review has simultaneously been posted on Amazon.com, Dragonviews and LibraryThing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Keeper of Secrets... Translations of an Incident
By Anjuelle Floyd
Publisher: Three Muses Press (2007)
Format: Paperback, 176 pages
Rated:    5 stars of 5 possible

Keeper of Secrets... Translations of an Incident is composed of eight short stories united by strong characters and revolving around one central incident. The stories are each told from a different point of view and reveal how the central incident affects the lives of the witnesses and even of people who were not present during the incident - like the ripples made by a stone as it impacts the water in a still pond.

Anjuelle Floyd is a master storyteller, who weaves the threads of her stories into a finely woven tapestry, rich with meaning. This anthology is captivating from the first sentence to the last. I've always admired writers who can weave their magic tales with an economy of words; no words are wasted here. These short, powerful stories will stay in my mind awhile just as this book will remain part of my permanent collection. I will need to read Keeper of Secrets... Translations of an Incident again - and more slowly - to absorb the full meaning of these stories.

Recommended for readers looking for extraordinary, both entertainment and intellectual stimulation are found within the pages of this excellent collection.   This book would make excellent discussion material for a high school or college literature class.

Keeper of Secrets
was sent to me free from the author in exchange for review.  This review was simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragonviews, and LibraryThing

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cookie Cutter Characters

Dirty Little Angels
By Chris Tusa
Pdf review copy 170 pages
Publisher: Livingston Press (2009)
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Dirty Little Angels
is the story of a dysfunctional family living in the slums of New Orleans. The story is somewhat dark and suspensful at points... While this story is fiction, it is all too accurately reflcted in real life. Financial hardship, adultry, drug usage, psychotic instability and more are depicted front and center in this book. Tragically, none of the characters seems willing to accept responsibility for or try to correct the deficits in their characters.

Aside from being set in the south and the dark tinge to the plot, this novel does not stand comparison with To Kill a Mocking Bird or any contemporary literature of which I'm aware. Other novels have at least some characters that the reader can like and care about, but the characters in Dirty Little Angels are all the same - flawed and black-hearted with few redeeming characteristics that I could find.

Sixteen year-old Hailey Trosclair is no different from the other characters in that she has her own twisted sense of right and wrong. She values her family but is far too willing to cross the faint line between legal and illegal, between sanity and insanity.  A few times, I really wanted to slap her silly; hanging out with the wrong sort of people just about got her what she deserved.  If this story had gone on much longer, I could see everyone caught in the downward spiral of self-destruction.

This review is simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragonviews, and LibraryThing.