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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blend of Satire and Romance

Pride and Prejudice: The Illustrated Edition
Jane Austen
Sourcebooks Landmark (2010)
Kindle Edition
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice was initially popular, going into a second edition before the first year concluded. However, when her novels went out of print in 1820, Pride and Prejudice remained unavailable for 12 years, as did the other novels written by Miss Austen. In 1832-33, the entire works of Jane Austen came back into print and have remained continuously available in various editions since then.

In the Fall of 2010, the publisher detailed above gave away ebook editions of Jane Austen's works in honor of her birthday.  Having neglected to read any of her work for - well, lets just say a few decades - I decided to see what all the excitement was about, and chose Pride and Prejudice at random and because it is said to have been her most popular novel during her lifetime.

Print length varies by publisher, but is usually between 300 and 450 pages, depending on format (hardcover, trade paperback, mass market, etc.)  Reading through the ebook edition seemed to take forever, appearing to be more like 700 pages. Now, when I'm enjoying myself, I don't mind novels being long... However this story could have used some major editing, as some parts are far too long for what they mean to accomplish. That said, the novel has its good points, too, though they seem to be far between.

The title was well chosen and very apt for this book. The astute reader will have no problems seeing how the title applies to this novel's content. Pride and Prejudice is a study of human nature, as well as being a satire. The interaction between characters was well-done and seemed realistic, if a bit idealistic in some cases. Some readers may be put off by the nineteenth century language used... but one must remember, the English language is a living language. It has changed quite a bit in the 200 years since this book was written.

I found I had to be in the mood for Miss Austen's prose, or I couldn't have gotten through the book.  Pride and Prejudice is one of those books I class as being worth reading - once.  I probably won't read it again.  Recommended to Jane Austen fans and those who like satire, as well as those who like romances. This review has been posed on Dragon Views, Amazon.com, LibraryThing and wherever else this reviewer finds appropriate.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late Series Entry: Best Start at Book 1

No Mercy
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press (2010)
Hardcover, 352 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

No Mercy is paranormal romance, and part of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series.  The main characters are shape shifters and an Amazon warrior/queen who was betrayed by her overly jealous sister thousands of years before. Now, the Amazon is a Dark Hunter, with special powers and immortality.  She's also falling for one of the shape shifters, a bear who has the ability to assume the appearance of being human.

Lately, I've been straying from my normal reading genres, which mostly include science fiction and fantasy, but also lots of historical fiction, which often has some romance included.  I also seem to have acquired an affinity for series books, jumping into the middle of a series without knowing it IS a series until later.  In the case of No Mercy, it's not yet a mid-series book, but closer to the recent end of a very long (20+ volume) series.  Coming into the series at this point puts the reader at something of a disadvantage, in that references to events that occurred earlier in the series are made in No Mercy, but having not read the earlier books, I had no idea what the characters were talking about.

Series connectivity aside, I have to say I did enjoy this book, despite the fact that paranormal romance generally isn't my thing. Sherrilyn Kenyon is a new-to-me author, whom I am glad I ventured to try. For those with at least some familiarity with the Dark Hunter series, No Mercy would stand alone well enough that it would not matter if a few books from the series were skipped. For those completely unfamiliar with the series, as I was, starting with No Mercy probably isn't the greatest idea. Knowing what came before may be helpful.

Recommended to fans of the Dark Hunter series.

A finished hardcover copy of No Mercy was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review. This review appears on Dragon Views, Library Thing, Amazon.com and wherever else deemed appropriate by this reviewer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Patriotic, Christian Fiction

What So Proudly We Hailed
James Howard
CreateSpace (2010),
Paperback, 280 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

What if... there was a nuclear attack on the United States? What So Proudly We Hailed takes that question and runs with it. The title makes this book seem to be a story about the beginning of the United States, but that's not the case.  It is, in part a story of war, but of more modern times; an alternate reality, if you wish. The characters do exhibit patriotic characteristics though.

The scenario seems plausible and the book is well written. Especially in the last half, the narrative tends to get a bit preachy for my tastes, which explains the one star rating drop.  Still, the story is enjoyable.

Recommended for readers age 16 and up who enjoy reading books which promote a Christian viewpoint. The author has put his characters into some controversial situations, which would make for good group discussion material. 

This book was provided to me free by author in exchange for review. This review has been simultaneously posted on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and wherever else I may deem appropriate.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teaser Novella

Gaslight Chronicles
Photographs & Phantoms
Cindy Spencer Pape
Carina Press (2011),
Kindle Edition
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Photographs & Phantoms is a blend of genres featuring historical romance, paranormal, mystery, fantasy and alternate history. Photographer, Amy Deland is haunted by a shadow appearing in some recent portraits... The presence of that shadow ruining the portraits is bad enough, yet each time the shadow appears, the subject of that portrait has died shortly afterward. Amy is determined to get to the bottom of the situation and find an explanation for the phenomenon. Will she succeed?

The book has an intriguing and mysterious premise that enticed me to download the promotional freebie. First off, it's (marginally) historical fiction. Second, the story promises some magic.  Reading further, one discovers that this isn't true history, but an alternate version, which I usually find interesting. I'm glad I didn't know when I downloaded this book that Carina Press is a Harlequin imprint, or I might have skipped it.  I normally find straight romance tales to be too fluffy, plotless, and sticky sweet to suit me, which wasn't the case here, except for the big sex scene near the middle of the book, which I skipped.  Sorry, but I don't find that unadulterated sex moves the story along... this novella would have been better without that scene.  Minus half a star for the uninteresting and unnecessary sex scene.

Over all, I found the mystery to be entertaining and the entire tale to be a page-turner. Still, some scenes later in the book could have been better developed. I was disappointed to find that, although the male lead in this tale is described as being a Sorcerer, very little magic was involved. Most of the magic could be explained by the technology used... so minus one fourth of a star for that lack of development, and minus another quarter-star for the lack of magic...  I'd have loved this book to be a little longer - say about 30,000 words.

Incidentally, for those who haven't read this book, the Kindle edition is still free from Amazon.com.  Sure, it's an advertisement/teaser for the publisher's other books, but one that is very much worth reading  I'm not obligated to review this book, however, writing reviews IS what I do... so why not?  Recommended to adult readers age 18 and up who like something more than straight, sticky-sweet romance.

This review, for which no compensation - financial or otherwise - has been received by the reviewer, appears on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and other sites deemed appropriate by the reviewer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Richly Layered

Heirs of Mars - a tale of sacrifice and revenge on the red planet
Joseph Robert Lewis
Joseph Robert Lewis (2010),
Kindle Edition - Print length 368 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Heirs of Mars, written by author Joseph Robert Lewis, is a tale of life on the planet Mars, both for those born on the red planet, and those who immigrated there from Earth. The novel alternates chapters narrated by six main characters, men and women who represent the various groups who inherit the planet from previous explorers. These six characters each have a unique point of view to relate, and as such, each character adds another layer of interest to the story.

I find multi-focal novels a challenge to read since the point of view changes as the chapters transition from one character to the next. Still, such novels provide more information and more in-depth knowledge for the reader than would be available if the story were told by only one character, as some characters see things and events that many of the other characters do not see and/or know nothing about. Transitions between the multiple viewpoints are well done in this sometimes suspenseful, always fascinating tale of Mars.

Artificial intelligence, cloning, and robotics, are well-depicted in this novel. These heavy science themes do not make the story too complex for the average reader to follow, yet they add another dimension to the atmosphere of the tale.  Over and over again in the literature of Earth, we see the same themes repeated. People fear that which they do not understand. This simple theme has been explored by many authors among many genres and is given a slightly different face here, in the colonist's fear of the newborn clones.

Recommended to readers age 14 and up who love reading science fiction.  While this review is based on the Kindle edition, this ebook is available in various other formats, but, alas, not yet in printed formats (or, at least none that I've been able to locate) and on several different websites.

Heirs of Mars - a tale of sacrifice and revenge on the red planet; was provided to me free by the author in exchange for this review. As always, accepting the novel only obligates me to write a review. No promises were made as to what the content of my review might be.  This review, for which no financial compensation has been received by the reviewer, appears on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and other sites deemed appropriate by the reviewer.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Family Secrets Revealed

The Girl in the Lighthouse
Roxane Tepfer Sanford
Metier Books (2009)
Paperback, 256 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

The Arrington family is hiding a devastating secret. Before long, the secret is uncovered, changing life as young Lillian Arrignton knows it into something vastly different, as well as uncovering a mystery that her parents have long concealed.

The novel is short, intensely gripping and does not turn the reader loose. One is compelled to keep turning pages to find out what happens next. While the first half of the novel extensively develops the main characters (and meny of the supporting characters as well), this part of the story does not move slowly, as happens all too often.

The last half of the novel surprises the reader a bit, dark, ominous and gothic, not what would be expected from the title nor even the first half of the book... Yet the transisiton was well done and barely noticible, as Lillian's life changes during the course of the story.

The Girl in the Lighthouse is the first novel in the Arrington series.  As such, it sets the stage for things to come, but is, in its own way, a complete story as well... One could read just this novel without pursuing the story further, but after meeting Lillian Arrington, the reader might not wish to stop here... I know I don't.

Recommended to fans of mystery and gothic novels, as well as those readers who just like a short, intense novel. A signed, paperback copy of this novel was provided to me free in exchange for this review. As always, accepting the novel only obligates me to write a review. No promises were made as to what the content of my review would be. 

This review has been posted on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com, and wherever else I may deem appropriate.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Advice You Can Use

Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content
By Mark Levy
Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2010)
Paperback, 192 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Accidental Genius is a well-written treasure trove of valuable advice for authors, and for ordinary people. By following Mark Levy's suggestions, you not only improve your writing skills, but you can also learn problem solving techniques. Best of all, you don't need to be an established writer to benefit from this advice. Anyone can use the techniques taught by Mr. Levy, and nearly everyone who tries the techniques will benefit to some extent. 

Mr. Levy provides anecdotes from his personal experience, some of them humorous, all of them valuable examples of what can be accomplished using his techniques to improve both your writing and your life.  If you use these techinques, you might even find that, along the way, you have developed a manuscript for that great American novel residing in the back of your brain.

Author notes (actually more of a bibliography) and a detailed index are among the concluding pages of this book, and, also among the more valuable pages included here. The bibliographical information included in the notes can lead to more resources, while the index will help to quickly locate topics of interest when you don't have the time to read whole chapters, or just want to quickly verify a point or two.

Recommended for readers ages 16 and up who are interested in learning problem solving techniques or improving writing skills. This book was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for review. This review has been simultaneously published on Dragon Views, Amazon.com, LibraryThing and wherever else I may deem appropriate.