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, June 29, 2009

The True Cost of Power

The Fifth Ring
by Mitchell Graham
Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Eos (January 28, 2003)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

A young boy's fencing skill earns him a prize at once beautiful and terrible: a ring which contains the power to enslave a world. To his sorrow, young Mathew Lewin learns the true cost of wearing the awesome ring.

The Fifth Ring is a dark fantasy tale; mostly action with few completely developed characters. Those few characters are of both necessary types - the ones you can care about and the ones you love to hate. The book also contains a couple of nice features; a map of the fantasy world occupying two full pages near the front of the volume and a six page glossary of names and places in the back.  If one reads the glossary first, this creates a foundation for better understanding the story.

Due to the powerful rings in this tale, a comparison with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings briefly crossed my mind; however, this is a far different and much less complicated saga, more suited to the average person than Mr. Tolkien's work.

The well-placed bits of description in this tale don't slow the pace of the action, as can happen when too much descriptive detail is provided. Recommended for readers ages 12 and up who favor action over description and enjoy tales set in fantasy worlds.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gripping Suspense

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye
by C.J. Box
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 6, 2009)
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye is the story of a couple who has adopted a baby girl and waited nearly 9 whole months for the adoption to be final, only to find out that the birth father has not signed off his parental rights. Instead, he chooses to come forward at the last minute to claim his daughter...

The young father's motivation seems sinister, even though he has his own father, a powerful judge, on his side.  The judge's reasons for wanting to claim the baby sound logical and upstanding in one way, but do not ring true in other, more horrifying ways. When the need for legal action becomes apparent, the adopive parents run a race against time to find anything they can use against the judge and his son.

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye is full of suspense, gripping, a page-turner that I could not put down, and there are surprises at every turn of the page. The combination makes this one of the best new novels I've read this year. There is a bit of violence involved, but only where it serves a purpose in the story, not spread throughout the pages in a gratuitous manner.

Recommended for readers age 17 and up who are looking for a suspense/thriller that will keep the reader awake nights.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Invasion From Outer Space

Gray Apocalypse
by James Murdoch
Hardcover: 350 pages
Publisher: Demand Publications (April 1, 2009)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Gray Apocalypse is a science fiction/thriller based on the premise of aliens taking over the earth. Yes, it's been done before; the alien invasion theory is one of the oldest plots in science fiction literature. Yet, there are so many different ways to develop the premise that a different author can easily come up with a new twist on that old plot.

Character development in this book is nicely handled, the pace at which the story progresses is - for the most part - appropriately paced. I found the main characters both interesting and likable right away, but I had some reservations about Michael Kendon when I learned he had a secret Russin name that others were calling him by; thoughts of "double agent" slipped into my mind more than once... yes, I can be the suspicious type sometimes...

So, great literature, it's definitely not... but yes, a fun read and something different than the space opera/humans colonizing other planets thing I've been reading too much of lately.  Despite the somewhat slow start, the suspense and the plot details kept my interest to the end.  Readers looking for hard Science Fiction probably won't be satisfied with this, but for those looking for a well-written suspense thriller, Gray Apocalypse fills the bill nicely.

Great start for a new author; I'll be looking forward to his next book - on which, I hope, he is hard at work.

This review was simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragonviews, and Library Thing. I also reserve the right to republish this review on other sites that I may deem suitable.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Intricate and Touching

Lark and Termite
by Jane Anne Phillips
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Knopf (January 6, 2009)
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

There are times when a book crosses my path that I would not have purchased for myself, but I read the book because it's there in front of me. Most of these are disappointing and a discouraging waste of my time. After all, I should know what I like, should I not? However, sometimes there are surprising exceptions to that rule.  One such exception was a book I received at Christmas in 2007; For One More Day by Mitch Albom haunts me still, though I've only read it the one time. 

Now, Lark and Termite has moved into my mind right beside For One More Day... yes, Lark and Termite haunts me in that same inimitable way.  It is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.  Lark, a girl on the verge of adulthood cares for her younger brother Termite.  As the story unfolds, we see into the hearts and thoughts of the leading characters, even Termite, who, unable to walk, talk or express himself in a normal fashion, nevertheless has ways of making his wants and needs known to those around him, if only they would listen.  Lark listens to her brother.

Lark and Termite is nicely paced and each of the main characters tells a portion of his or her story in turn. While the point of view shifts with each chapter, the transitions are very well done. The kaleidoscopic viewpoint does not jar the senses as could be the case with a book written by a less skilled author.  I could not put it down.  Lark and Termite is a relatively short novel yet has as much or more impact on the reader's senses as longer books do.  Recommended for readers ages 15 and up who may be looking for one of those stories that touch your heart.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Could Be Better

The Silent Man
by Alex Berenson
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (February 10, 2009)
Rated 3 Stars of 5 Possible

The Silent Man is a tale of international espionage and terrorism, which, if properly told, could have been spellbinding. The concept is good, and there's sufficient realism in the telling. However, to me, the story lacked one important thing. Action.  Especially near the middle of the book, everything happens too slowly for words.  The story drags on for at least 100 more pages than needed for an excellent novel. 

While most of the characters are forgettable, I have to say, I do like the main pair; Wells and Exley have the chemistry between them. I liked the touch of romance thrown into the mix - just enough to suport the realism but nowhere near enough to eclipse the drama and suspense of a real thriller.  This author is on the right track, but, in my opinion, not quite there yet...  Some editing and revision could have greatly improved this novel.

Recommended for die-hard espionage fans only... not quite suitable for everyone.  Reader discretion is advised.