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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reference Service Q & A

The Book of Answers:
The New York Public Library
Telephone Reference Service's
Most Unusual and Entertaining Questions

By Barbara Berliner
Fireside (1992)
Paperback, 311 pages
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Well, the subtitle says it all, folks. This book is a compilation of unusual questions and the entertaining answers as researched by The New York Public Library's Telephone Reference Service.  Questions on topics such as American History, Crime and Criminals, The English Language, Geography and more are included in this book and grouped according to topic. The book is fully indexed so the topics can be quickly located for the curious or for a springboard into deeper reserach.

This book would be tedious reading if one attempted to read each page in order as with a novel, but as a point of curiosity, it appeals to trivia buffs, young or old, who wish to look up answers to questions that plague the mind. I found this book to be an entertaining aside from my usual non-fiction reading, but not something I need to keep or read again.

Recommended for trivia buffs and the curious with the caviat that I spotted a typographical error or two while reading some of the questions so don't depend on this as a reference if you need authoritative answers.  This review has been simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragon Views and LibraryThing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Arranged Marriage

The River Between
Jacquelyn Cook
Bell Bridge Books (1985)
Paperback, 166 pages
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

The River Between is a historical fiction novel set in the pre-civil war south. It is also a light, fluffy, formulaic romance with a slightly over-used plot, and a few problems. I like the historical aspect and the setting; however, these lead to problem #1. There was not enough history and description to make for a really nice setting. The historical information becomes a backdrop in this situation; not entirely bad, but it does not add much to the story.

Eighteen-year-old Lily Edwards is likeable, as are several other characters in the story, but she is far too docile, which leads to the story having less action and therefore less appeal; which becomes problem #2. There is no clear villain in the story. The conflict between Lily and her parents does not stand out enough to move the story along quickly; problem #3. Resolution for problems two and three would be to provide more action and more conflict, and perhaps a bit of drama.  These would have made the story much more appealing.

Problem #4.  Lily's strong Christian faith seems to be off-putting to some reviewers who were probably, like myself, attracted to the historical aspects of the story. This is a lot for such a short novel, especially since the last half comes on stronger than the first half; perhaps moderating the preachiness would have been helpful.

Despite these problems, however, The River Between does raise a few points that would be good for discussion in a reading group or classroom situation.  Arranged marriage vs. marriage for love; the concepts of social equality (and the assumption that some are more socially equal than others); the attitudes of Lily's parents, especially the mother; and Lily's own statement of realization that she cannot be both her mother's baby and an adult at the same time. I was glad to see that Lily's mother finally realized that's what she was expecting Lily to do, yet I would liked to have seen this be more of a conflict.

Given the above, and recognizing that The River Between is but one third of a trilogy, I'd say this book would appeal mostly to those readers who like the light and fluffy romances. Readers looking for something with historical content should probably pass this by in favor of something longer and more detailed.  The River Between is a sweet, likeable story but just doesn't constitute the detailed historical novel that many readers appreciate.

The River Between was provided to me free by the publisher in PDF galley format for review. This review was simultaneously published on LibraryThing, and Dragon Views.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Historical, but Obscure

Flesh and Grass
Libby Cone
Available In various e-book formats,
Published by the author
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible.

Flesh and Grass is loosely based on an ill-fated Dutch colony in late 17th century Deleware. The tale is told from the perspective of a young blind man. I like this perspective and I like that the story is told as if it had been written in a journal. The old-fashioned spelling and sentence structure give an authentic feel to the story as well. Despite the good premise and unusual subject matter, this story has a few problems... thus my three star rating of a potentially five star subject.

The capitalization in unexpected places makes for awkward reading. Even if this inconsistent capitalization would have been authentic late 17th century style, the capitalization of the words should be consistent with today's English.

The mostly unexplained useage of Dutch words makes the story a bit difficult to comprehend in places for someone who only speaks and reads English - or for that matter, any language other than Dutch. Footnotes or, even better, a dedicated glossary at the end would add value to the book and provide the needed explanations without interruption of the story.

The blind protagonist gives the author a tricky plot device. Since the young man telling the story can't see, the author cannot use visual data in most of the story... but many blind persons have their other senses compensate by becoming more intense. The author uses smells to provide some of the detail, but taste, touch and hearing could be used to help bring more detail into the story.

One other thing that I didn't quite notice until the end... I was so wrapped up in the story that most of the dates went by without me taking notice, but at the end, the final chapter is dated about six years before the previous chapter.  I'm not certain why the dates aren't all chronological. For me, reading the events in chronological order makes more sense.

In all, the story is intriguing and I was rather hoping for a longer tale... perhaps 200 pages. I'll recommend this as a good story, but only to those who don't mind dealing with the problems. This review has been simultaneously posted on Amazon.com, Dragon Views and LibraryThing. I received a 96 page PDF format document free from the author in exchange for this review.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mysterious, Romantic, Suspenseful

Once in a Blue Moon
Leanna Ellis
B&H Books (2010)
Paperback, 320 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Bryn Seymour was just nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the day that Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Four decades later, Bryn seeks closure in the matter of her mom's passing while gathering information to write a story about the 40th anniversary of that historic moon walk.

This blend of mystery and romantic suspense isn't quite as fluffy and mindless as most romances, but the mystery isn't all that mysterious either, once Bryn opens up her self-imposed block of those childhood memories. Howard, the old man full conspiracy theories and paranoia is almost comic relief in the midst of the suspense-filled story of Bryn's investigation of the circumstances surrounding her mother's death.

I enjoyed the men-in-black ride because it's different than most of the novels I've been reading lately, even though it stretches the suspension of disbelief just a little. There's enough romance to satisfy most readers of straight romance and enough plot to keep this novel from being too fluffy and mindless. Recommended for romance readers who like a little substance to their reading.

This book was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review, which was previously published on LibraryThing and has been simultaneously published on Amazon.com and Dragon Views.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins (2002)
Hardcover, 176 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

The story of Coraline takes place in a house that has been divided up into flats as they are called in the UK. Here in the United States, we might call them apartments or condominiums. Anyhow, Coraline lives in one such unit with her parents, who both work. Being the intrepid explorer-type, Coraline meets all of her neighbors and explores her home... One day, she finds a door, but it won't open. Being curious, Coraline asks her mother about the door...

The big, old house where Coraline and her parents live strikes me as being a good place to set up a haunted house on Halloween... and the story is just about that scary. Enough to give the reader a creepy feeling, but not so creepy as if something is going to reach out and grab you.  Well, okay, the author does reach out and grab your attention with his story about Coraline and the things behind a door that only she can open and pass through.

Recommended for kids age 7 and up who don't scare easily and who think a haunted house is cool, not creepy. This review has been simultaneously posted on Amazon.com, Dragonviews, and LibraryThing.