Abandon Ship – last song before night (Ilana C. Myer)

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!

last song before night (Ilana C. Myer)

I just could not finish it. I tried. And tried. And tried again. Failure. I only managed to read 228 pages out of 415. I even liked the main character, Lin, a super lot. Now, this book got many starred reviews. People seemed to love it. Many authors that I enjoy blurbed it – Fran Wilde and A. M. Dellamonica among them. They said it was a wonderful debut set in a world full of music.

I can agree with the full of music part. This book is all about music. Music permeated the sections I managed to read anyway. Perhaps that was the issue. I am sadly not musically inclined myself. Now do not get me wrong, I enjoy a sea shanty or two and do sometimes spend entire evenings enjoying the art of music. But music does not live in my soul like it does for some other scalawags I know. If I had to do without, I would survive and still be hearty. However, I do have some of me crew who removing music from their lives would almost be like turning them over to the gallows. They would rather hang then lose music.

I thought most of the characters were two-dimensional, the world building not strong enough, and the conflict to be rather boring. So maybe this novel is just not for me. But I can count the number of books I have not finished on two hands and am very sad to have added to the list. Had I know people compared the writing style to Patricia McKillip and Guy Gavriel Kay (I have read their novels but not particularly loved them) then I probably would have forgone this novel in the first place. If you read this book and think it is the most wonderful thing ever, I would love to hear about it. But this Captain refuses to go down with this ship.

Amazon has this to say about the novel:

A high fantasy following a young woman’s defiance of her culture as she undertakes a dangerous quest to restore her world’s lost magic in Ilana C. Myer’s Last Song Before Night.

Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings-a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.

On the eve of a great festival, Lin learns that an ancient scourge has returned to the land of Eivar, a pandemic both deadly and unnatural. Its resurgence brings with it the memory of an apocalypse that transformed half a continent. Long ago, magic was everywhere, rising from artistic expression-from song, from verse, from stories. But in Eivar, where poets once wove enchantments from their words and harps, the power was lost. Forbidden experiments in blood divination unleashed the plague that is remembered as the Red Death, killing thousands before it was stopped, and Eivar’s connection to the Otherworld from which all enchantment flowed, broken.

The Red Death’s return can mean only one thing: someone is spilling innocent blood in order to master dark magic. Now poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a challenge much greater: galvanized by Valanir Ocune, greatest Seer of the age, Lin and several others set out to reclaim their legacy and reopen the way to the Otherworld – a quest that will test their deepest desires, imperil their lives, and decide the future.

To visit the author’s website and blog go to:

Ilana C. Myer – Author

To buy this novel visit:

last song before night – Book


The Captain’s Log – need (Joelle Charbonneau)

Ahoy there me mateys!

need (Joelle Charbonneau)

Another port plundered. Arrrr! So this is the first book I have read by this author and will not be my last. In my opinion, this book is basically needful things but with teens, social networking, and the internet. It does not come close to the Stephen King novel. That said it was an enjoyable book and a good introduction, for me at least, to this author’s writing. The novel switches points of view about the various teens in town but overall the voice you hear most is of the heroine Kaylee. Quotes on the back of the hardback cover seem to suggest this is a dystopian novel but it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. It just seemed more like a straight out young adult thriller. Lots of action, some murder, mayhem, etc. Lots of plot twists, many of which were unpredictable.

Now with social media seemingly here to stay there has been a lot of “regular” media attention about the seeming anonymity of the interwebs and how people can use the internet in ways they would never choose to in real life. Think about internet trolls using comments to get a rise. Teens sexting photos to classmates when in real life most of those people would not see those same sexters in underwear ever. The seriousness of suicide due to online commentary. Etc. Examples of the potential misuse show up in the media all the time. I am not saying we should hate the internet. I personally find it to be wonderful. But these are serious issues that pose serious concerns.

This book takes some of those scary ideas along with behaviors actually seen in today’s online usage and asks the question (in the author’s own words) “what would people say if they were anonymous online and thought no one knew it was them . . . and what would they do if they thought they could get things they needed?”

The author’s website says this about the book:

there is a difference between a want and a need. what do you need?

One by one, the teens in Nottawa, Wisconsin join the newest, hottest networking site and answer one question: What do you need? A new iPhone?  Backstage tickets to a concert? In exchange for a seemingly minor task, the NEED site will fulfill your request. Everyone is doing it. So why shouldn’t you?

Kaylee Dunham knows what she needs — a kidney for her sick brother. She doesn’t believe a social networking site can help, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

Or could it?

After making her request, Kaylee starts to realize the price that will have to be paid for her need to be met. The demands the site makes on users in exchange for their desires are escalating and so is the body count. Will Kaylee be able to unravel the mystery of who created the NEED network—and pull the plug before it destroys them all?

To visit the author’s website visit:

Joelle Charbonneau – Author

To buy this novel visit:

need – Book

Dry Dock – silver on the road (Laura Anne Gilman)

Howdy there mateys!

silver on the road (Laura Anne Gilman)

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It is a fantasy western. I loved previous western fantasy books that I read like walk on earth a stranger, wake of vultures, and karen memory. But alas it is not for me. This book does not walk the plank simply because it was well written and had a great main character in Izzy. The concept was fascinating. I just couldn’t get into it and the reading was slow going for me. I had to trudge through it even though the novel is not long at 375 pages. I think overall the magic in the novel was just not explained well enough for me. Izzy’s magic seems to be intuitive but those helping her give cryptic hints and comments. While the magic may have a compelling underlying structure, I did not seem to get a glimpse of how it works at all. The author seems to suggest that Izzy’s magic and purpose have to be learned/earned this way but I was not satisfied by it. With such a great premise, I am saddened by my take on this novel but I have to admit I have no urge to see where the story goes next. That being said other folk seemed to have really liked this one, so I am not saying that readers should skip this one. It’s just this Captain did not enjoy this adventure enough.

The author has this to say about the novel:

East of the Mississippi, in the civilized world, dime store novels and gossips claim that the territory to the west is home to monsters and magic, wild Indians and disreputable whites. They claim that in order to survive, any who live there must make a deal with the Devil.

Some of this is true.

Isobel is a child of the Territory. She grew up in a saloon, trained to serve drinks and fold laundry, to observe the players at the card tables and report back to her boss on what she saw. But when she comes of age, she is given a choice….

“The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard…. Until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word.”

She looked up, away from his hands, and was caught by a gaze the burnt gold of the morning sun.

“I have been lacking a left hand for too long, now. Are you strong enough for that, Isobel nee Távora Lacoyo?”

Isobel chooses power. Chooses risk. Chooses to throw her cards in with the Devil, Master of the Territory.

But the costs of that power are greater than she ever imagined; the things she must do, the person she must become . . . And she needs to learn her new role quickly: pressures from both outside the Territory and within are growing, and the Devil’s Hand has work to do . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Laura Anne Gilman – Author

To buy the book visit:

silver on the road – Book

The Captain’s Log – updraft (Fran Wilde)

Ahoy there me mateys!

updraft (Fran Wilde)

Another book that involves humans flying. Yay! While the pilots of borealis was a sci-fi novel, this one was a fantasy novel. It is also the author’s debut novel. This was super fun. I loved the main character, Kirit and the world that the author created. The people in this world live above the cloud line in tower homes grown out of some kind of bone. People fly to trade, to defend their homes, to hunt, and for a variety of other reasons. The two groups that exist are the “ruling” class of the Singers and the inhabitants of the towers. This book dealt with the politics between the two and had many unexpected twists. The politics are not deep but I enjoyed them. But I loved the world building much better. The details of the wings, how the training happens, how the houses grow, the differences in how the history is kept, the laws, etc. I would love to be able to fly in that world. And Kirit is a strong and awesome heroine who is the bearer of change in the world whether people want it or not. And apparently a sequel is coming in September of 2016. Hooray!

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

A city of living bone rises high above the clouds, its past lost to legend. Danger hides in the wind. Laws have been broken. A great secret must be exposed.

To visit the author’s website and blog go to:

Fran Wilde – Author

To buy this book visit:

updraft – Book

Dry Dock – walk on earth a stranger (Rae Carson)

Howdy there me mateys!  A new category for me readers – westerns with a fantasy or sci-fi twist!  For the first installment . . .

walk on earth a stranger (Rae Carson)

I have conquered yet another port I wanted to plunder. Arrrr! A western with magic. I happen to really love Rae Carson’s writing. I have previously read her other series, Fire and Thorns for my 3 Bells showcase. Prior posts about those books (in reading order) are the girl of fire and thorns (2011); the crown of embers (2012); and the bitter kingdom (2013). Apparently there are short stories set in this world which I should check out sometime. All three books are available in an omnibus edition and the short stories have been gathered in one collection.

In any case, this novel is the first in the new Gold Seer Saga which is currently set up to be a trilogy. Now as a younger human I played Oregon Trail and had a wonderful time hunting bison, running a bare bones wagon train, and trying to avoid dysentery killing off my wagon party. This novel was like getting an inside glimpse of traveling the trail with a strong dose of reality that makes it anything but a game. The trail was hard, people die, and hope for the future is hard to maintain. But hope does remain throughout this novel in the strength of the main character, Lee, the friendships she makes on the trail, and how people can come together to form a bond and work together to achieve their dreams. The characters in this book struggle and change as a consequence of their surroundings.

That being said, even with the dose of reality, there is magic in the novel in the way that Lee can literally sense gold. This trait sets up the plot of the novel and it’s used throughout. Even though Lee can do magic, in some senses the magic is like a curse instead of a blessing. I like the dichotomy of that in the novel.

When I read this book, I failed to know that it was a trilogy so I was confused that the journey was so drawn out. Silly me. I should have guessed by the map. And the structure of the story. And maybe if I would have read the back cover if the novel. I didn’t. However the somewhat cliff hanger ending made me sad and want more. Then I laughed when I found out it was book one of three. I want to read the next book in this series. I loved the character of Lee and her cohort of trail survivors and I must know what happens next.

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? . . .

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rae Carson – Author

To buy this book visit:

walk on earth a stranger – Book

The Captain’s Log – the perks of being a wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

Ahoy there mateys!

the perks of being a wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

I read this book for two related reasons. One – my First Mate wanted us to watch the movie and he said it was one of the best epistolary novels he has ever read. Two – I was checking out other books at a local library and it happened to catch my eye. I thought, what the hey, and picked it up because I usually like reading the book before seeing the movie (besides Chocolat but that is a different story). Maybe I am just old fashioned that way or too much of an old soul.

Whatever the case may be, I am sort of stunned and glad and worn out from reading this seemingly simple story. At its base level, it is a coming of age story about a boy growing up and dealing with life. I am a (sometimes) grownup girl, yet I felt deeply connected to the underlying emotions, thoughts, and the truly lovely voice of this person. It was devastating and sweet. The format of the letters seems to be a simple form but it draws you in without seeming contrived.

The book itself talks about to kill a mockingbird, hamlet, and other works that wring my heart and soul no matter how many times I read them. The back of the book has a blurb comparing this story to the catcher in the rye or a separate peace. But for me it reminded me of flowers for algernon or the bridge to teribithia. Basically I cry . . . a lot . . . and have to recover when I am done. Not this Captain’s normal action when reading most books (I am small but fierce . . . Arrrr!) but what can you do? I have to think that out there are people who would not enjoy this novel. But for me it was a gift.

Amazon has this to say about the novel:

Read the cult-favorite coming of age story that takes a sometimes heartbreaking, often hysterical, and always honest look at high school in all its glory. Now a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a funny, touching, and haunting modern classic.

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

A #1 New York Times best seller for more than a year, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults (2000) and Best Book for Reluctant Readers (2000), and with millions of copies in print, this novel for teen readers (or “wallflowers” of more-advanced age) will make you laugh, cry, and perhaps feel nostalgic for those moments when you, too, tiptoed onto the dance floor of life.

This author does not seem to have an official website so here is his publisher’s page:

Stephen Chbosky – Author – Simon and Schuster

To buy this book from Amazon visit:

the perks of being a wallflower – Book

Sailing to the Stars – saturn run (John Sandford and Ctein)

Ahoy there me mateys!

saturn run (John Sandford and Ctein)

This was one of the ports I wanted to plunder and my oh my how wonderful and amazing it was to explore this part of our solar system. I adored this sci-fi novel. A good old fashioned space yarn. I love the politics, the characters, the science, the suspense, the writing, the ships (Arrrr!), and even the physics. Upon my life! I know I am known in these waters for my hatred of physics . . . but this book did a wonderful job of making the physics accessible to a salty sea dog like myself. Why the novel even ended with an “Author’s Note: The Science Behind the Story.” And it was awesome. I mean actually fun to read. And funny. The authors’ put in a lot of thought behind the novel which they detail in part in that section. My favorite characters were Crow and Sandy (both men) but the novel was populated with a nice combination of strong and intelligent male and female characters. There was only a small amount of romance thrown in which was fun and did add something to the plot and was not for gratuitous sex in space scenes . . . though there was sex happening in space. The only con was that the Americans were mostly the heroes and the Chinese mostly were not. But that was a small issue for me overall and did not stop my enjoyment of the book. I have never read any of Mr. Sandford’s other novels before but he does have a couple of young adult ones. Hmmmm . . .

Mr. Sandford’s website has this to say about the novel:

An extraordinary new thriller of the future from #1 New York Times-bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Sandford and internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado Ctein . . .

The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope — something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins — an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect — and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.


To go to the authors’ websites visit:

John Sanford – Author

Ctein – Author

To buy this novel (and you should) go to:

saturn run – Book