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, May 26, 2010

Lacks Detail

Still Life
Joy Fielding
Atria (2009),
Hardcover, 384 pages
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Casey Marshall survives a hit and run accident, but she is in a coma... or so the doctors think. In reality, Casey can't see, move or speak, but she can hear everything that goes on around her. What Casey hears is enough to put anyone in shock.

Interesting premise that could have been quite suspenseful, but the author reveals the bad guy way too soon, ruining the best thing this novel had going. Because Casey was bereft of her senses for so long, the author was handicapped in the point of view available since this story is told mainly from Casey's perspective, which leads to a lack of detail in the story. At first, I was going to rate this novel 4 stars, but decided that the revelation of the evil character at the early point and the lack of interesting details would have meant that I was over-rating this novel... so three stars it is. 

Yes, I'll recommend Still Life to those who don't watch too much television... and maybe to the author's rabid fans... but those looking for something REALLY interesting to read need to look elsewhere. Still Life is a pleasant time-waster, but not much more than that.

This review has been simultaneously published on Dragon Views and Library Thing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tightly Woven, Complex Story

The Wizard's Son
By Kathryn L. Ramage
The Wapshott Press (2009)
Paperback, 296 pages
Rated 4 Stars of 5 Possible

Following the posting of my review of Storylandia 1, which the editor of Wapshott press called "fair minded and honest", I received a request to give Wapshott Press another chance. I always intended to do that, but had no idea the opportunity would come so soon. I chose The Wizard's Son because I've long been a fantasy fan, and because it looks so good.

The first attraction of this novel is the lovely cover, with a view of the wizard's castle on the front, done in shades of red and black; absolutely perfect for this novel - but it doesn't stop there. The story synopsis available on the publisher's website set the hook before I ever got my hands on the book. The Wizard's Son is not simple fantasy with a single story arc. Instead it is a complex story that examines several issues in depth through multiple plot lines in the non-linear story. These issues include but are not limited to good versus evil, human nature and self restraint.

This novel does not disappoint, yet there is room for improvement too. While the characters introduced in the early part of the story are nicely developed, those who come along later are a bit flat. For instance, Orlan Lightesblood's wife and daughter are important to him, yet we are not allowed to know them well... Still, we have a tightly woven, well-told story with interesting and believable characters which is well worth the time it takes to read.

Recommended to fantasy fans ages 14 and up. This review has been simultaneously posted on Amazon.com, Dragon Views, Library Thing and YA Books Central.com. The Wizard's Son was provided to me by the publisher free in exchange for this review.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Investigation of Human Nature

The Pearl
By John Steinbeck
Penguin Books (2002)
Trade Paperback, 96 pages
Rated 5 Stars of 5 possible

The Pearl is John Steinbeck's re-telling of an old Mexican folk tale about greed and hope, suspicion and dreams... but mostly hope. It is a simple, tragic tale that illustrates the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth can erase all their problems.

This tightly packed little tale is illuminated by the fine craftsmanship Steinbeck brings to all his writing. Despite its brevity, The Pearl is not a tale to read lightly. There is a lot of food for thought buried in these pages. The Pearl picks up the thread of investigation where the allegorical tale, Of Mice and Men left off... for this book as well as the other, is a study of human nature.

For those interested in deeper study or discussion of The Pearl, a combined discussion guide has been written by The Great Books Foundation. Steinbeck's other two novels covered by the same discussion guide are Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.

Recommended for readers age 16 and up who are interested in reading material that gives your brain something to work on.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Relocation, Vampire Style

Still Sucks to Be Me:
The All-true Confessions of Mina Smith, Teen Vampire

By Kimberly Pauley
Mirrorstone (11 May, 2010),
Hardcover, 384 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible.

Coming soon... and every bit as good as her first book. Kimberly Pauley has done it again... Yes, I can say that because I'm one of the lucky recipients of an advance copy of Still Sucks To Be Me, which arrived in my possession on May 6. Kimberly writes in a fast, easy-breezy style that will charm you and keep you turning the pages to see what happens next.

Still Sucks To Be Me takes up where Kimberly's first book, leaves off, and moves the story of Mina Hamilton Smith and her family forward, with laughter on almost every page.  Kimberly has kept what was good from her first book - those myth and truth snippets at the head of each chapter, plus pages from Mina's notebook, and added some fresh new scenery as Mina and her family relocate, and brought along some new characters and their attendant drama. Most of the action takes place in a small Louisiana town where everyone knows everyone else (and their business). Primarily aimed at the young adult market, Mrs. Pauley's books also appeal to the teens inside the adults we have become.

While you most certainly can read Still Sucks To Be Me alone, why not read both books, for twice the fun? Recommended reading for those looking for something different and fun to read. You won't be sorry!

An advance copy of Still Sucks To Be Me was provided to me free by Kimberly Pauley in exchange for this review, however, long before I was able to get my hands on the advance copy, I pre-ordered the hardcover version because I knew this is one book that belongs in my permanent collection. This review has been simultaneously posted on Amazon.com, Dragon Views, Library Thing and YA Books Central.com

Friday, May 7, 2010

Still Sucks To Be Me Launch Contest - (Now Over)

Oh Coolness! Kimberly Pauley's new book is coming out on May 11 and you can win a copy! That's right, You can win a copy of Still Sucks To Be Me, signed by the author. But that's not all.  Kim has put together prize packages containing both of her fantastic books and other cool stuff. See the details and enter the contest on Kim's author website: http://www.kimberlypauley.com/2010/05/03/still-sucks-to-be-me-launch-including-epic-contest/.  Don't forget to come back here and read my review of Still Sucks To Be Me, which I expect to post on Sunday May 9th... but I'm not going to commit to an exact posting time.

Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe)
By Kimberly Pauley
Mirrorstone (26 Aug 2008) Hardcover, 294 pages
Mirrorstone (11 Aug 2009) Paperback, 304 pages
Mirrorstone (26 Jan 2010) Kindle edition
Rated 5 Stars

"...I'll have to say, my only regret is that it had to end... Who would have known that a vampire story doesn't have to be scary?Yes, Sucks to Be Me is a vampire story, but nothing like you've ever read before... so throw all your old notions and pre-conceived ideas about vampires out the window because that's not what you'll find in Kim's new book. What you will find is a barrel of fun... vampire style." Read the rest of my review of Sucks To Be Me

Still Sucks to Be Me: The All-true Confessions of Mina Smith, Teen Vampire
By Kimberly Pauley
Mirrorstone (11 May, 2010), Hardcover, 384 pages

Coming soon... and every bit as good as her first book. Kimberly Pauley has done it again... and yes, I can say that because I'm one of the lucky recipients of an advance copy, which arrived in my possession on May 6 and which I've almost finished reading already. Kimberly writes in a fast, easy-breezy style that will charm you and keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. Aimed at the young adult market, Mrs. Pauley's books also appeal to the teens inside the adults we've become. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Adventure Here At Your Own Risk

The Wapshott Journal of Fiction
, Issue 1
Wapshott Press
CreateSpace (October, 2009)
Paperback, 86 pages
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Storylandia is a new periodical published on an irregular basis. The first issue contains the following stories by relatively unknown authors, all of which are new to me. The stories in this issue suit each other, since they are all somewhat dark and gloomy, and the cover matches them very well, with its dark, moody feel. In fact, the cover graphic may be the best part of this issue.

"Kittycat Riley’s Last Stand", by Kelly S. Taylor
"Not Quite a Prince", by Kathryn L. Ramage
"More Minimalist Fiction", by Lene Taylor
"Road Kill", by Lee Balan
"Sunday Mornings", by Colleen Wylie
"I, by Chad Denton"
"Practice", by Anne Valente
"Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow", by Kitty Johnson

The first two stories, "Kittycat Riley’s Last Stand", and "Not Quite A Prince", are, I think, the strongest of the stories included here. The first, which qualifies as science fiction, has a twisted but somewhat weak ending. The second piece almost qualifies as dark fantasy... but the wizard in the story seems a bit less than magickal and he disappointed me somewhat. Several of the stories contained in this issue incorporate what might be considered objectionable material, rendering this publication unsuitable for those under the age of 18.

Three of the stories "Road Kill", "More Minimalist Fiction", and "Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow" were previously published elsewhere and due credit is given for that previous publication. I wasn't overly impressed by any of them. More Minimalist Fiction appears to be a short collection of "flash fiction" or what is otherwise known as filler material... very short stories where most of the plot is implied by the actions and dialogue of the characters. I know this stuff is very difficult to write... I've tried more than once myself, so kudos to Lene Taylor for trying, but in my considered opinion, these pieces just aren't strong enough to fill their intended role.  They do show some potential though; especially the longer ones. "Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow" brings up the Bill Clinton - Monica Lewinsky affair of which I heard far more than I wanted while that affair was going on... so truthfully, I didn't do more than skim a bit of this piece... the hook never appeared to me, let alone sunk in.

Four of the shortest pieces, Road Kill, Sunday Mornings, I, and Practice, left me cold. They never "hooked" me as I expect a good short story to do. And being as short as these pieces are, that "hook" needs to be set early; first paragraph or first sentence if possible. If none of these stories were exceptionally bad, neither were any of them exceptionally good.  I rated the collection 3 stars because the biggest fault with all of these stories is that they are distinguished by their averageness.

While I can't honestly recommend this collection of stories, neither will I especially warn readers to stay away from it. Those adventurous souls who are willing to risk being disappointed might want to try reading these stories. There might be appeal in them for someone with different reading tastes than mine.  Storylandia was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review. This review has been simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragon Views and LibraryThing.