The Captain’s Log – the eye of zoltar (Jasper Fforde)

Ahoy there me mateys!  In the past two days I shared me second reflections of the last dragonslayer and the song of the quarkbeast.  So here are me musings about readin’ book three for the first time . . .

the eye of zoltar – Jasper Fforde

Well I can say this novel certainly upped the ante!  In this one Jennifer is sent on a quest in the neighboring Cambrian Empire to look for an artifact that everyone else believes is a legend.  If she doesn’t find it the dragons are doomed.  The Cambrian Empire prides itself on being dangerous and sells adventure packages for adrenaline seekers.  Ye buy packages based on the Fatality Index – the likely number of people in yer party who are going to die.  Arrr!

Scary things in the Cambrian Empire include Tralfamosaur, slugs, a war between railroad companies, and market economics.  But luckily Addie Powell is their awesome tour guide.  Seriously I love her and think she is one of the best parts about the novel.  No major spoilers but this book was a pure whimsical delight.  I want book four!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Mighty Shandar, the most powerful wizard the world has ever seen, returns to the Ununited Kingdoms. Clearly, he didn’t solve the Dragon Problem, and must hand over his fee: eighteen dray-weights of gold.

But the Mighty Shandar doesn’t do refunds, and vows to eliminate the dragons once and for all – unless sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange and her sidekicks from the Kazam house of enchantment can bring him the legendary jewel, The Eye of Zoltar.

The only thing that stands in their way is a perilous journey with a 50% Fatality Index – through the Cambrian Empire to the Leviathan Graveyard, at the top of the deadly Cadir Idris mountain. It’s a quest like never before, and Jennifer soon finds herself fighting not just for her life, but for everything she knows and loves . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jasper Fforde – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the eye of zoltar – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Second Reflections – the song of the quarkbeast (Jasper Fforde)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Yesterday I shared me second reflections of the last dragonslayer and discovered there was a book three in the series that I haven’t read!  So I decided to remedy that.  But of course that meant taking a second look at book two first and giving me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

the song of the quarkbeast – Jasper Fforde

This be a fun second foray into the Ununited Kingdoms.  Magic is on the rise but there be a fight to see who will control it.  And what better way to come up with a winner then a duel!  In this case it is Jennifer and the Kazam agency versus their competition, the iMagic agency.  There is a bridge that needs to be repaired and each has a half of it to fix.  Whoever finishes their part of the bridge first wins?  Easy right?

Well maybe not when yer magicians keep disappearing, a quarkbeast is on the run, and silly politics are getting in the way.  This was filled with more delightful shenanigans, quirky characters, and absolutely silly situations.  I loved to see Jennifer back in action.

While I do think book one is the stronger book, this is still fun if not quite as good.  It is just fluffy fun with no bigger purpose.  But I enjoyed it and want more.  Onto book three!  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Long ago, magic began to fade, and the underemployed magicians of Kazam Mystical Arts Management have been forced to take any work their sixteen-year-old acting manager, Jennifer Strange, can scare up. But things are about to change. Magical power is finally on the rise, and King Snodd IV, of the Ununited Kingdoms knows that he who controls magic controls everything. Only one person stands between Snodd and his plans for a magic-grab–and that’s Jennifer.

Yet even smart and sensible Jennifer would have trouble against these powers-that-be. The king and his cronies will do anything to succeed–including ordering a just-might-be-rigged contest between Kazam and iMagic, Kazam’s only competitor in the magic business. With underhanded shenanigans afoot, how can Kazam possibly win?

Whatever happens, one this is certain: Jennifer Strange will not relinquish the noble powers of magic without a fight.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jasper Fforde – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the song of the quarkbeast – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections – the last dragonslayer (Jasper Fforde)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

the last dragonslayer – Jasper Fforde

I wanted a light read of something I knew I loved so I could just savor part of me weekend.  This was absolutely perfect.  I don’t know when I first discovered this novel as it was certainly way before this current log but I am glad to have revisited this old friend.

This is definitely one to recommend to me crew.  The story involves a young plucky intelligent orphan who helps run Kazam which is an agency of magicians.  Of course she is not supposed to be in charge but her boss disappeared!  She is trying to hold down the fort but of course everything is going wrong.

Now ye think of magic and it sounds awesome.  Well magic has been fading from the land and people hire magicians to do unexciting things like deliver pizza via magic carpet.  The magicians are poor and struggling.  This aspect of the world-building is absolutely awesome.  I love how the magic works (or doesn’t) and how it is used.  In fact the overall world-building is an absolute delight.

The story itself is whimsical and funny and clever and absurd.  Jennifer is an excellent main character who of course is intelligent, honorable, snarky, practical, and awesome.  The other characters are almost as wonderful.  I want a Quarkbeast . . . I think.

It sort of has a similar feel of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles so if ye liked those then pick this up.  Actually if ye haven’t read those books then do yerself a favor and get that series and this one.  Ye won’t regret it.

Side note: Apparently book three has been out since 2015 and I never knew.  I now know what me next two reads are going to be!  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jasper Fforde – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the last dragonslayer – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – a closed and common orbit (Becky Chambers)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I absolutely fell in love with this author’s novel the long way to a small, angry planet.  In fact, readin’ me review after all this time made me heart happy as I recaptured the feel of how great that book truly was.  While this book is the second book in the series, it actually can be read as a stand-alone, though I still recommend readin’ them in order.

Whereas the first book followed multiple people traveling the universe with a purpose, this story follows two individuals in two locations. In alternating chapters, ye explore how one person’s past influenced the present and then explore how the other person chooses to live their future.  The juxtaposition was poignant and absolutely engrossing.  I would actually be sad for a split second to switch perspectives and then become mesmerized once more.  The switching was deftly done and completely enriched this character driven story.  Both Pepper and Sidra have fascinating journeys.

Like in the first book, there are larger themes of friendship, identity, challenging prejudices, education, perseverance, and overcoming the circumstances of yer past to thrive.  This book was almost as good as the first.  So close.  I just wished the ending was different, but I am positive it is personal taste and that others will find it perfect.  So get this book and enjoy!

Side note: book three is coming out this July!  Arrrrr!!!!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers’ beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Becky Chambers – Author

To buy the book go to:

a closed and common orbit – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

the long way to a small, angry planet (Sailing to the Stars – Sci-Fi)

Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the chalk man (C.J. Tudor)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. I received this thriller eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the chalk man (C.J. Tudor)

Title: the chalk man

Author: C.J. Tudor

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-1524760984

Source: NetGalley

The title and cover are what led me to this very engaging thriller.  I enjoyed playing the game of hangman when I was a wee lass.  Trying to guess the word before me person died was always fun.  Plus it (and other games like boggle and scrabble) led to a lifetime love of word games.  So when I saw this cover with the hangman and lovely addition of a noose, I just had to see what it was about.

So the very toned down premise is that a group of children in the 80s hang out looking for adventure.  One of their many activities is leaving chalk messages for each other in code.  That game abruptly ends when chalk messages lead them to a body in the woods.  Thirty years pass and the group has grown up and put the past behind them as best they can.  Until the day that Eddie gets a message in the mail with a figure and a single piece of chalk.  Is it a prank?  Eddie hopes so  . . . but one of the old gang turns up dead.  The past is back in a haunting way and Eddie finds himself tracking down a killer and reanalyzing what he thought he knew about a murder from 30 years ago.

This book was suspenseful and hard to put down.  Lots of me crew are raving about it and it is easy to see why.  It is extremely character driven with superb use of flashbacks.  The plot is complex, yet easy to follow.  Eddie drives the plot forward as most of the story is told from lens of his thoughts and memories.  It is wonderful to see how that one summer in 1986 has far-reaching consequences in unexpected ways – big and small.  The repercussions are both logical and fun while being surprising as well.  That is quite the combination.  And the last page was perfect.

The only minor issue I had was the resolution of one character’s plot line that I thought was truly implausible and made me incredulous.  That scene I could have done without.  But if ye love thrillers then I would certainly get this one.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Crown Publishing!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

C.J. Tudor – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the chalk man – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – the salt line (Holly Goddard Jones)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This book was described as being in the spirit of station eleven but with ticks.  Being as I love me some dystopian fiction I gave this one a shot.

So in this version of Earth, ticks have become a menace that is so bad that most humans live in zones beyond controlled wastelands (the salt line) and walls that keep them sequestered and safe from the natural world.  The difference in this book is that a lot of the outside world is still beautiful.  So there are very rich adventure seekers that pay vast sums of money to go on death-defying adventures to see fall foliage or the mountains etc.  But beware if a tick bites, they only have a very limited time to burn them out of their skin or risk serving as an incubator for tick eggs – usually with fatal results.

The strength of the novel lies in the characterizations and in the overlaying ideas of the adventure-seekers.  Each member of the expedition has interesting reasons for venturing beyond the salt line.  In particular the relationship between Marta and Wes was very much a favourite.  Edie and Violet were two other beloved characters.  I also thought the ticks and their impact on society were well through out and portrayed.

The main problem I had with the book was with the politics of the outer-zone survivors who take the adventurers hostage.  Once the hostages reach the village and are trapped, the books plot went downhill for me.  The outcomes were a little predicable and the politics were rather simplistic.  The pacing slowed down.  I continued to read because of the characters but was overall unsatisfied with the ending.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the read.  I just didn’t think it was amazing.  But the characters and ideas are worth reading this novel and who know ye may love it more than I did.

For a take on this novel by some of me crew check out:

this review by Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum

this review by Lisa @ tenaciousreader

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Holly Goddard Jones – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the salt line – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Shiver me Timbers! An Anniversary!

Ahoy there me mateys!  Guess what day it is?

So to celebrate me 2 year (b)log anniversary, I break it down . . .

2017 Books By the Numbers:

Number of Posts: 150

Books Reviewed: 121

Books that Walked the Plank: 2

Books that Forced an Abandoned Ship: 10

Books Off the Charts: 8

Books with Second Reflections: 4

Authors Profiled in Broadsides: 9

Parley with an Author: 1

Most Books Read by a Single Author: 5 (Jonathan Stroud)

Books by Gender (to the best of me knowledge): F (70/58%) M (49/40%) Non-binary (2/2%)

Books by Genre: Fantasy (34/28.10%) Sci-Fi (43/35.54%) YA (34/28.10%) Thriller (2/1.65%) Historical (2/1.65%) Literary (1/.83%) Non-Fiction (5/4.18%)

ARCS (thank ye kindly NetGalley & Publishers!!): 34/28.10%

Top Five Books Read in 2017:

with some cheatin’ because I’m a pirate!  Arrrrr!

the bear and the nightingale & the girl and the tower (Katherine Arden)

planetfall & after atlas (Emma Newman)

every heart a doorway & down among the sticks and bones (Seanan McGuire)

castle of water (Dane Huckelbridge)

cold-forged flame (Marie Brennan)

Top Five Popular Reviews of 2017:

the sleeping dragon (Joel Rosenberg)

feel me fall (James Morris)

artemis (Andy Weir)

gilded cage (Vic James)

red sister (Mark Lawrence)

Me Top Five Personal Favourite Posts of 2017 (in no particular order):

river of teeth & taste of marrow (Sarah Gailey)

ride a mule (M.H. Boroson)

jade city (Fonda Lee)

three parts dead (Max Gladstone)

the sound of a wild snail eating (Elisabeth Tova Bailey)

Other Random Blog Stats:

First Book Review of 2017: shadowboxer (Tricia Sullivan)

Last Book Review of 2017: spoonbenders (Daryl Gregory)

Most Commented Post of 2017: 21 – the sea of rust (C. Robert Cargill)

Comments: 1,757 and counting

Top 3 Commenters:  the Bookstooge, Sarah @ brainfluff, and danielle @ booksvertigoandtea

Books on me Ports for Plunder List (i.e. TBR to ye Landlubbers): 1063 and counting

Current Crew Members (i.e. Followers to ye Landlubbers): 527 and counting

If ye want to see all the books I’ve read by category visit: this map legend

If ye want to see all the books I’ve read by author visit: this map legend

To read 2016’s anniversary post #1 click here!

So welcome to me crew ye scalawags, seadogs, and fellow explorers!  Let’s drink some grog to another year of sailing, plunderin’, and adventurin’ on the high seas!

Always remember:

Q:  How can you tell a pirate has fallen for modern technology?

A:  It’s the iPatch that gives it away!

Hardy har har!

x The Captain