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.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bardic Adventures

G. R. Grove
Lulu.com (2007)
Pdf Format, 252 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Storyteller is a series of interlinked short story/chapters set in 6th century Britain, each of which forms but a small part of the larger tale. This novel is the first of a trilogy featuring young Gwernin, a fine story teller with dreams of becoming a bard. Some of the chapters are the tales Gwernin tells, others describe what happens to him on his travels as he learns and improves his craft. Storyteller is historical fiction, yet it also has elements of magic and adventure which appeal to fantasy readers.

Since each shorter tale interlocks with those that come before and after, they create a complex, inter-woven story within the story format which keeps the reader turning pages. It's not a "light and fluffy" read, but Storyteller is well worth the time spent reading. Thanks to the appendices at the back of the book, understanding the Welsh words incorporated into the story was not a difficult task, even one who happens to be ungifted in languages.

Watching Storyteller slowly unfold as the chapters fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle is a pleasurable experience that's not to be missed.

Recommended to readers of historical fiction and also to those who like a bit of fantasy in their reading. This review is based on the pdf document given to me free by the author, and has been simultaneously posted on Dragon views, LibraryThing and Amazon.com

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Long Road to Publication

The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist
By John McNally
University of Iowa Press (2010)
Paperback, 272 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist is a handbook full of practical and - at times - humorous advice on how to get paid for your creative writing efforts. This book contains not only the how to get your novel published, it also contains information regarding the ways you should not present your work, and yourself, to publishers and agents. The alternate ways to be paid for your writing experience if you're not quite finished with that great American novel, as well as how to find the job that will buy you the writing time you're looking for are discussed in this easy to read, fast-paced book.

The self-publication avenue is also explored, along with the reasons that such a choice is not right for every book or every writer. Pros and cons of placing your novel with a major pubisher, a independent small press, a university press or a print-on-demand type publisher as well as the amount of control the author has with each type of publisher are discussed. Last but not least, the author provides advice on promoting your book once you have a contract and after publication.

Mr. McNally wrote this book as if giving advice to a friend, so much of his personality comes through in the succinct and well-written chapters. Each topic naturally leads to the next in smooth transitional steps, making this guide a pleasure to read and an asset that belongs on the reference shelves of all aspiring creative writers. Once again, the addenda at the end of the book prove to be as interesting as the main portion of this excellent guide. Authors notes, recommended reading lists and a short bibliography at the end of the book contain material to further explore the concepts discussed in this book.

The Creative Writer's Survival Guide was provided to me by the author free in exchange for this review. Recommended for writers and wanna-be writers looking for advice on selling the products of their hard work. Look for it in your favorite book store. This review was simultaneously published on Dragon Views and LibraryThing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Exploring The Rainforest

Dragon Keeper: Volume One of the Rain Wilds Chronicles
and Volume 10 in the Realm of the Elderlings series
By Robin Hobb
Eos (2010),
Hardcover, 496 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Dragonkeeper is both the first book of a new series and the tenth of a massive previous series by this talented author. Both series are set in the same world. Dragonkeeper is set in a rainforest type area and tells the story of dragons who didn't properly develop, so the beasts need help from humans to survive. Meanwhile, the councils at Bingtown, Cassarick, and Trehaug want the dragons moved farther away from the human settlements, so they hire some young people who have few or no ties to civilization to escort the dragons up river toward a legendary city of the Elderlings, known as Kelsingra. Nobody knows exactly where Kelsingra is, but the dragons have their memories and say they will know Kelsingra when they see it.

The author takes many pages to get the characters ready for their journey, which makes for a slow start to this interesting novel. Given the terrain and the hardships of a low technology world, the preparation time is probably realistic, if a little less interesting than the larger portion of the book. Dragon Keeper is loaded with a cast of interesting and well-developed characters of all kinds. Some surprising plot twists add interest and keep the reader turning the pages until the cliff-hanger ending is reached, leaving some questions unanswered and several obvious paths to the beginning of book two of this exciting new series.

Recommended for fantasy fans ages 14 and up.  This review has been simultaneously published on Dragon Views and LibraryThing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Intriguing Mystery

Sworn to Silence
By Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books (2009)
Paperback, 336 pages, ARC
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Linda Castillo has created a new heroine and a great new series with Sworn to Silence. Police chief Kate Burkholder thinks she knows who has been killing women in and around the Amish community of Painters Mill, Ohio... but is she correct? And will Kate break her vow of silence?  Sworn to Silence is about much more than a serial killer run amuck. Suspense, bigotry, red herrings, self-doubt, and even a little romance are blended together in the correct proportions to create a set of interesting, well-developed, and believable characters, and a page-turning novel that you shouldn't miss.

The author's style is easily readable, with no major flaws. The novel paints a picture of the Amish culture which lends authenticity to the story, and lifts this novel out of the ordinary fictional state into a world that, for all intents and purposes, can be viewed as real. Sworn to Silence is a nicely paced thriller that leads the reader through the myriad of clues to the stunning conclusion.

Recommended to mystery and thriller readers ages 17 and up who can handle the violence portrayed in this suspenseful novel. This review has been simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragonviews, and Library Thing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Approach to Management Education

Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed
Authors: Jeremy Short, Talya Bauer, Dave Ketchen
Illustrator: Len Simon
Flat World Knowledge, Inc. (2009)
Paperback, 194 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

This book is an intriguing new format for a business management classes that might help attract the interest of some students who otherwise would not be paying attention in class - the same type of person depicted in the graphic novel.  The protagonist, Atlas Black, is the perfect example of what not to do in order to graduate from college. He does not pay attention, does not study, can't even be dependable enough to show up on time for class. On top of that, Atlas Black is unemployed and can't seem to keep a job long enough to pay his rent and other bills from month to month. Perhaps Atlas Black is supposed to be humorous, but his problems are realistic enough that they are no laughing matter, and, at least for me, the humor falls flat. This type of character gains no respect or even sympathy from me as most of his problems are of his own making.

That said, the business concepts covered in this graphic novel text are interesting, and covered differently than the texts I used during my own business management classes not so long ago. I loved reading about the relevant examples used to explain the topics discussed; however, the main thing I like about this book is the affordability and various formats in which it is made available. The authors and publisher have given their attention to the fact that people learn differently. The graphic novel is a highly visual format. The graphic format tends to slow me down while reading. For some students this slowing of pace can be good, as important information is less likely to be missed when reading slower. Each page covers lots of information, incorporating the story of the protagonist as he makes his way through his last business class before graduation with the business management concepts.  The availablity of the book in audio format will be a boon to those students who learn better from traditional lecture-type classes.

Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed would be a great text to use for those condensed classes, which try to cover a variety of topics in a limited amount of time. As supplimental material for a class using another book as the main text, the availability of individual chapters of the Atlas Black text books would be a boon to instructors, providing additional material for study and discussion at very affordable prices. The splitting of the text into modules A and B helps keep the book light and portable for students, as well as contributing to the affordability, since the student need purchase only the part of the book required for their specific class. Kudos to the publisher of this fine text book for recognizing the financial burden of college students and doing something to help. For easy review, each chapter closes with a synopsis of the concepts covered in that chapter and a quick overview of the next chapter.

A black-and-white paperback desk copy of Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review. This review was simultaneously posted on Amazon.com, Dragonviews and LibraryThing.