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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Award-winning Debut

The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi
Night Shade Books (2009)
Hardcover, 368 pages
Rated 4 Stars of 5 Possible

The Windup Girl depicts a world in which cloning is not only permitted, but has become common place. The clones are genetically altered so that their movement is not smooth or graceful and this betrays their artificial status. The author has touched upon sensitive issues, such as racial abuse, from our own world in this high-tech science fiction novel.

The novel starts slow, and builds suspense from the beginning, yet remains interesting enough that it's hard to put down... and it gets better as the reader turns the pages. Many of the characters are only superficially developed, and these would have been more interesting if they had been developed more in-depth. The Windup Girl is not a "fluffy" read and requires concentration from the reader to fully understand what's happening. In fact, one almost needs to take notes at a few points because a lot happens in the story.

In the end, I felt I needed to deduct one star for the sometimes lengthy and apparently unnecessary descriptive passages in which little is happening to further the ends of this otherwise interesting tale.

This review, for which I have not received any financial compensation, has been posted on Dragon Views, Amazon.com and LibraryThing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Historical Page-Turner; Grabs You On Page 1

Pursuit of Happiness
By Sheldon Greene
BookSurge Publishing (2010)
Paperback, 474 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Pursuit of Happiness By Sheldon Greene is a well-told revolutionary war tale, and, as the title might lead one to believe, there's romance involved too.  But the most prominent parts of the tale involve the machinations of none other than General George Washington to convince blockade runners to retrieve a desperately needed shipment of French arms from a secret location somewhere in the Caribbean islands, and the completion of that task, at a considerable risk to the particpants.

This tale is well researched as the historical bits fit nicely into place, and the fictional bits seem authentic enough that they could have happened. The author grabs the reader from page one, never letting go until the end. A nicely placed historical note reveals that a few, slight liberties were taken with certain historical events and some of the area's geography. A list of sources are provided afterwards which the historically-interested reader may wish to consult.

Recommended to readers of historical fiction and those who just love to read a book full of action, adventure and thrills... Oh yeah... the romance. For those who don't like much romance in their literature, there's not a lot here, but it does add a bit of interest to the tale at parts that might sag otherwise.

A review copy of Pursuit of Happiness By Sheldon Greene was provided to me free by the author in exchange for this review.  This review has been posted on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and wherever else I may deep appropriate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Action and Adventure on an International Scale

The Wreckage: A Thriller
Michael Robotham
Mulholland Books (2011)
Paperback review copy, 320 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 Possible

The Wreckage involves high-tech bank robbery on an international scale, a vanishing executive and mistaken identity tied together by a suspenseful plotline, which is acted out by a long cast of characters.  Michael Robotham's fans will recognize Joe Loughlin, a psychologist/professor, and retired police detective Vincent Ruiz, both of whom appear here and each of whom have appeared in previous novels.

Multple and seemingly unrelated stories constitute the beginning of this novel, which slowly reveals that what is - at first - thought to be unrelated incidents are actually different aspects of one larger case for Detective Ruiz and the police to solve. With so many plot lines that eventually converge, the story is difficult to follow at the beginning, yet this author skillfully handles the isolated components in a way that makes sense to the reader and turns the novel into one, very difficult to lay aside book designed to keep you turning pages until the end.

Recommended: If you love mystery/thriller type novels, and if you can handle the constant jumping from London to Baghdad, then back again and to other international destinations then this novel just might be for you.  If you're a fan of Michael Robotham's work, this is a don't miss tale.

An advance review copy of The Wreckage by Michael Robotham was provided to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review.  This review has been posted on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and wherever else I may deem appropriate.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Tale of Medieval Scotland

Freedom's Sword
By J.R. Tomlin
J.R. Tomlin, (2011)
Kindle Edition
Print length 242 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Freedom's Sword begins in 1296, during the invasion of King Edward Longshanks of England. Several years pass between the beginning and end of this novel. Action, adventure, romance, and other elements tied together by a suspenseful plotline make Freedom's Sword a page turner that historical fiction lovers won't want to miss.

Story-wise the tale is nearly perfect but could use some judicious editing by the author or someone familiar with Middle English terminology, some of which is used here for effect. I suspect there were a few times that at least one word was used when another word was intended, not to mention a few errors of other grammatical or typographical origins, to the point where this book looks very much like an uncorrected first draft rather than the final finished product.

The expected brutality of this tale was rather prominent, but I don't believe it was overdone.  Such violence and brutality may, however, make the tale unsuitable for some readers.  Recommended for that subset of readers for whom the violence of the period isn't too much, and for whom the numerous typographical and grammatical errors in this book aren't a problem.

This book was provided to me free by the author in exchange for review. This review is being published on Dragon Views, Amazon.com and LibraryThing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Art Instructions For All Levels - Not

Sketching School
By Judy Martin
Quarto Publishing, plc. 1991
Reader's Digest, Association, Inc.
Third printing (January, 1994)
Hardcover, 176 pages
Rated 3 Stars of 5 Possible

To begin with, I must take issue with some of the promotional material which was prepared for this book. Specifically, the back cover states "40 specially designed projects." Inside the book, I've only been able to locate 39 projects. Additionally, there are four sections titled "Focus On" which are focused on four different topics. These "Focus On" sections may be helpful, but, do they, I wonder, constitute the missing project #40? Another statement from the back cover promises "Sketching demonstrations by leading artists." There are, indeed, three demonstrations included, yet none of the three demonstrations goes into as much depth as I would like to have seen.

The back cover also states "For artists of all levels", yet there is very little content here for the inexperienced artist. The promised step-by-step instructions are quite vague rather than specific, and not too detailed. That type of instruction might be okay for intermediate or advanced artists, but I would not recommend it for beginners at all. I'm rating the book as three stars because I think, after seven years of working on my drawing that I might be able to take advantage of some of the techniques included here; but I can't recommend the book to artists at less than an intermediate skill level, and at least a few years of experience. Can we say disappointed?

This review has been posted on Dragon Views, LibraryThing and Amazon.com. and has not been solicited by either the publisher or the author/artist.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Forgettable Historical Fiction

The Blighted Troth: A Historical Novel of New France
By Mirella Sichirollo Patzer
History and Women (2011)
Kindle Edition
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Set early in the 18th century, this historical tale of New France tells of the trials and tribulations a young couple face. They wish to marry each other but their priest refuses, because, unknown to the young couple, the priest has been threatend by a prominent man of higher status whose attention has been fastened to the young bride-to-be. Naturally, the man covets the young woman for himself and sets out to make certain the young couple cannot be married.

The premise was very good - which is what attracted my attention to this book.  The plot is complex, with twists, and turns and a large cast of characters that one almost needs a cheat sheet to follow closely, so marks off for that... The long, involved sequences between the parts with real action also challenged me to keep reading, and also caused me to mark down this book's rating. There were a couple of points near the middle of the book where I almost laid it aside forever.  I kept on, because I wanted to know if the young couple overcame the difficulties, and how they managed to do so.

Large portions of this tale are forgettable, not something that makes the book stand out in my mind for recommendation. Though I normally love historical fiction, this book turned out to be less special than I thought it would be. Not recommended. 

This book was provided to me free by the author in exchange for review.  This review is being published on Dragonviews, Amazon.com and LibraryThing.