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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Girl, A Garden and A Secret

The Girl in the Garden
Kamala Nair
Grand Central Publishing (2011),
Paperback ARC, 320 pages
Rated 5 Stars of 5 Possible

The Girl in the Garden is a tale of, well, a girl and a garden... and a secret. Of course that brings to mind The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in its entirety in 1911. But this girl and this garden are different; as is the story. This is definitely not a re-telling of the classic tale, but a new story by a debut author brave enough to handle family issues such as abuse and divorce.

Ms Nair uses the story-within-a-story method of telling this tale. The bulk of the story is a remembrance of one summer spent in India when the narrator was about ten years old. That portion of the story is also a manuscript that the protagonist leaves for her betrothed. The author has an engaging style all her own that keeps the reader deeply engrossed in the story and turning page after page, eager to devour this compelling tale. I quite often say of horror tales that I favor the ones that keep me up all night... well, The Girl in the Garden is no horror tale, but it did keep me up all night... and it was a night well-spent, too.

I received an advance review copy of The Girl in the Garden from another reviewer. This review is uncompensated and also unexpected by the author and publisher, neither of whom had any knowledge that this book would pass through my possession. I found this book just too good to keep to myself, so I'm passing it on to someone else... This review is being posted on Dragon Views, Amazon.com, LibraryThing and YABooks Central.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sneaky, Subtle and Deceptive

Duma Key
by Stephen King
Scribner (2008),
Hardcover, 592 pages
Rated 5 stars of 5 possible

Edgar Freemantle, a construction contractor in Minneapolis, suffers major injuries in a freak accident. By the time he recovers from the majority of his injuries, and most of the resulting confusion has passed, his wife has left him. Shortly after his release from the hospital, Edgar decides to start his life over again. Since his injuries have resulted in the inability to resume his former career, Edgar decides to re-establish his connection to the artist within. He moves to Florida, and an island called Duma Key.

In a frenzy of creation, Edgar paints enough pictures to put on a one artist exhibit in a near-by town. Edgar's pencil sketches and paintings seem benign, but are they? Duma Key isn't just any horror novel. It's sneaky, subtle, and deceptive... The horror creeps up on you like a thief in the night; it reaches out and grabs you before you even realize it's there. Duma Key is a page-turner; once it grabs you it does not let go.

A must read for Stephen King's fans, Duma Key would also be ideal for the horror enthusiast who has never read a Stephen King book. In fact, Duma Key is probably Mr. King's most brilliant and horrifying novel to date*.  I recommend that everyone read this with the lights on... no, not just your reading lamp... you need every light in the house turned on for this one.  Even then, Duma Key will keep you up all night.

This uncompensated review has been published on LibraryThing, Amazon.com and Dragon Views.

*Note: This review was written in 2008, shortly after I read this book, which I purchased "hot off the press".  Subsequent books by this author have been published, but are not considered here, as they did not exist - except possibly in the author's mind - when this review was originally written.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Medieval Scotland - At War

A Kingdom's Cost
J. R. Tomlin
J. R. Tomlin, 2011
Kindle Edition
Print length, 262 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible.

A Kingdom's Cost takes place in medieval Scotland as the Scottish attempt to take back their land and their homes from the British invader, Edward Longshanks. 

This novel could be enjoyed not only by those who love historical fiction, but also by those just looking for something good to read.  Indeed, one can find action, adventure, romance, suspense and many other story elements along with well-developed characters and a page-turning, gotta-know-what-happens-next tale that keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

As with any tale that takes place during a turbulent period in history, this one has plenty of violence, so may not be suitable for everyone. My Kindle version of A Kingdom's Cost was received free from author in exchange for review.  This review has been posted at various sites, including but not limited to LibraryThing,Amazon.com and my blog, Dragon Views.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Post - Halloween Books to Unleash Your Inner Kid

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb cover
Today's post is by MJ Ware, Author of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb.  Thanks, MJ for helping promote my blog. Lady D.

Even before publishing Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb (SZJMB), I wrote a lot of horror stories. However, since I write almost exclusively for kids and teens my stories aren't anything like your traditional, terrifying, horror stories. They're more blood and snot than blood and guts. With that in mind, I've compiled a list of great books to wake up your inner child, or maybe your inner young adult, this Halloween season.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – I'm starting off with this one because, as a YA book it will appeal to more adults, plus it has zombies! Mary lives in the woods as part of a community surrounded by a fence that (usually) keeps the undead out. This one is really more of a romance novel with zombies. Still, it has great imagery which really makes it spooky.

The Witches by Roald Dahl – This book is definitely a kid's book, but it's so well written, anyone who loves books will enjoy it. And, compared to most of Dahl's other books, it’s pretty dark; in fact it's one of the 100 most banned children's books on account of the violence.

Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury – It doesn't get any more Halloween than this. It's a great story about a gang of guys (and one girl) who run into a haunted house while trick-or-treating. After you finish the book, check out the Emmy award winning cartoon version:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Gaiman is a master of scary books and Coraline is one of his best. Even if you've seen the movie, don't skip the book. It's a quick read at 35k (and it's one of those books that's hard to put down). Once you're finished, you might want to check out Gaiman's more adult themed The Grave Yard Book.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – Okay, Bradbury is one of my favorite authors, so he's allowed two books on the list. Something Wicked This Way Comes, is much darker than The Halloween Tree, having deeper and more serious themes. It was published as an adult book, but really, it's a coming of age story that resonates with young and old alike.

Welcome to Horrorland by R.L. Stine – What list of scary books would be complete without something from the Goosebumps series? Obviously, this one's light reading and only for readers who enjoy kidlit. With its fast action and short chapters it's also a great choice for that reluctant reader in your life.

About the author:

M.J.A. Ware, known as M.J. to his friends, lives in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains with his wife and two daughters. He wrote Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb because he felt there was a need for a zombie book with a broader appeal than just hard-core horror fans. A book that would not only appeal to both adults and teens, but would be teen safe.

When not writing about aliens, monsters and ghosts, he runs a company where he designs award winning video arcades. He’s currently polishing his latest novel, Girls Bite, a paranormal vampire story told from a guy's perspective.

Find SZJMB at: Amazon (print and ebook) Barnes & Noble  SmashWords  Apple

Win a Free ebook copy SZJMB. Enter by 10/31. Winner chosen at random and will be announced on or around 11/1.

Note from Lady D: If you like guest posts, comment here on the blog. I'll try to arrange more such posts according to the feedback I receive from you readers. Commenting is welcome and, at the moment, unmoderated.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Continuing Saga

An Echo in the Bone
By Diana Gabaldon
Bantam (2010),
Mass Market Paperback, 1232 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 Possible

An Echo in the Bone continues the saga of Claire and Jamie Fraser, beginning where A Breath of Snow and Ashes leaves off.  While this volume came in a couple hundred pages shorter than the previous two volumes, it is nevertheless excruciatingly long. An Echo in the Bone is neither the best of the series, nor the worst.  My favorites by far are the earliest three volumes... but I like this one better than the previous two.

The highly detailed plot and the vast number of fully developed characters in this series make the novels challenging to read, yet enjoyable for those who don't demand total accuracy in the historical content of a novel. Even though I have been reading this series from the beginning, I still find most of the transitions between centuries disconcerting... but I noticed that the letters from Claire and Jamie to their daughter often make a good trasition back to the present day.  I just wish the transitions getting back to the 18th century were as clear and focused.

If you have picked up this book without reading at least a few of the preceeding six volumes, it's probably not a great place to start. Read the series beginning with Outlander first, aka Cross Stitch in the UK. I recommend not skipping volumes in this series because there are places in each that refer back to key events in the other novels.  The references to earlier events do not fully repeat the previous material, so you could miss something if you try to skip sections of the saga.

Recommended to fans of the series, who have read all the previous volumes before cracking open the covers of this one.  This unsolicited and uncompensated review has been published on Dragon Views, Amazon.com, LibraryThing and any other site deemed appropriate by the reviewer.

Book 1: Outlander  5 stars
Book 2: Dragonfly in Amber  5 stars
Book 3: Voyager  5 stars
Book 4: Drums of Autumn  4 stars
Book 5: The Fiery Cross  4 stars
Book 6: A Breath of Snow and Ashes  4 stars

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

Remote Control
Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Imajin Books (2010),
Kindle Edition
Rated 5 Stars of 5 Possible

What if you pushed the button on your TV remote control, and it transported you right into the scene you were watching on TV?  Might the results be something out of your finest dreams or your worst nightmare? Remote Control is the dark, suspenseful, and somewhat comic look at a TV addict's dream come true, or his nightmare realized. Read this little novella and find out what happens...

Only two characters are fully developed, but that's all this story needs to hook you into turning the pages and reading on into the night. Cheryl Kay Tardif has done an excellent job on this well-written and quirky, yet addicting little story. Once I got started, I couldn't lay it aside; I just had to know what happens next, and I'm sure you will, too.

Recommended to readers who love a story that hooks you on the first sentence and keeps you hooked all the way to the end. This unsolicited and uncompensated review has been posted on Dragon Views, Amazon.com and LibraryThing as well as other sites deemed appropriate by the reviewer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Steampunk Worth Reading

The Burning Sky
By Joseph Robert Lewis
Joseph Robert Lewis (2011),
Kindle Edition
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

The Burning Sky is a gripping, thrilling story, full of action and adventure, as well as interesting and well-developed characters. The characters' actions are consistently realistic within the rules of their world, which is not the same as ours. Thus, actions that make sense in their world would not necessarily make sense in ours... yet the envelope of suspension of disbelief isn't broken. In fact, it's not even stretched much.  As part 1 of a trilogy, The Burning Sky involves the reader in the lives of the characters and embeds their world into the reader's soul so that, laying aside the book when it's finished leaves the reader feeling as if he/she is missing out on something.

For adult readers of fantasy who like stories with substance to them, The Halcyon series books are good candidates to bring on to your Kindle or other e-reader. for now, the books are not available in printed formats, which is my only regret.  The time reading the series was well-spent and has provided excellent entertainment.

Recommended to all adult readers of steampunk who don't shy away from the inevitable violence of a frontier world.  This review, for which I have not received any financial compensation, has been posted on Dragon Views, Amazon.com and LibraryThing.