Broadside No. 17 – an author advertisement

Hear ye hear ye me mateys!  I announce an additional broadside to me Captain’s log.  What is a broadside ye ask?  Traditionally:

  1. A broadside is the side of a ship, the battery of cannon on one side of a warship; or their coordinated fire in naval warfare. From the 16th century until the early decades of the steamship, vessels had rows of guns set in each side of the hull. Firing all guns on one side of the ship became known as a “broadside“. source
  2. A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements. source

What does this mean for me mateys?  Well tomorrow I will publish the seventeenth edition of me broadside that will highlight a specific favorite author and their work.  Who ye ask?  It’s a surprise . . .

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Here Be Dragons On the Horizon – golden age and other stories (Naomi Novik)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

golden age and other stories (Naomi Novik)

Title: golden age and other stories

Author: Naomi Novik

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (hardback)

ISBN: 978-1596068292

Source: NetGalley

Ah the beautiful cover with both dragons and ships lured me in.  Arrrr!  The author, Naomi Novik, hooked me and had me super excited to read this collection of stories revisiting the dragon, Temeraire and his world.  This collection did not disappoint.  It contains 6 stories and 26 drabbles.  What is a drabble?  I’ll get to that . . .

“Volly’s Cow”

This is a very short story about Temeraire trying to obtain the vote of Volly.  I am not quite clear on the whole voting plotline as I have yet to finish the whole Temeraire series but of course I like silly Volly and the story did entertain.

“Planting Season”

This story showcases John Wampanoag, an enterprising dragon trader.  Apparently he shows up later in the Temeraire books.  All I know is that this story was one of the highlights for me.  This is a colonial-era story with John’s navigation of both Native American and European factions.  Short yet sweet.

“Dawn of Battle”

This story involves Jane Roland before the Battle of the Nile and the destruction of L’Orient.  Jane is a young captain trying to exert her influence on her male crew.  I adored her relationship with Excidium.  It is amazing that this story took place before the action of the battle and yet was exciting in its own right.

“Golden Age”

This fabulous story is a re-imaging of how Temeraire and Laurence meet.  Temeraire, called Celeste in this incarnation, is washed up on the shore of a seemingly deserted island.  The first part of the story is told from Celeste’s point of view about how he develops and what occurs on this island.  The second half is from Laurence’s point of view.  From battles at sea to fights with kraken to the burgeoning friendship of man and dragon, this one was a pure delight.

“Succession”

A lovely story that takes place in China and tells the story of Temeraire’s inception and the start to how his egg ends up meeting Laurence.  I loved the viewpoint of Qian and her viewpoint of the Chinese politics.  It shows such a different dragon culture from the European fighting forces centered one.

“Dragons and Decorum”

A Pride and Prejudice retelling with Elizabeth Bennett as a Captain with her own dragon.  Amazing.  ‘Nuff said.

“Drabbles”

Apparently a drabble according to the author is “a story of 100 words – and while there are many debates on how strictly this limit should be observed, for purposes of this collection I have kept to the exact number.”  The collection contains 26 of them.  These snippets were very interesting and well written but overall just left me wanting them to be longer.  Perhaps these will be turned into longer stories in the future.  Mulan with dragons anyone?  Yes please.

While I enjoyed this collection immensely, there was one flaw of the kindle edition – the artwork.  It was black and white which I did not mind for the historical feel of it.  But each image was so small and several were missing altogether.  I wish the art could have been enlarged when clicking on it so I could have seen the full details.  I am assuming that the hardback will have no such problems of course.  So if ye like dragons in general and Temeraire specifically, then pick this collection up!

Side note: the author’s website has larger versions of the artwork on it!  Hooray!  Reading by Amy Thompson is me favorite with Dragons in a Winter Clearing by Stephanie Mendoza being a close second.  Okay but the cover art by Sandara Tang is awesome.  That much wonderful dragon art . . . can’t complain.  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

Subterranean Press’ website has this to say about the novel:

Naomi Novik ended her acclaimed, beloved nine-volume Temeraire series last year with a stunning finale, League of Dragons. Fans missing their favorite series can now rejoice: Novik returns with an original Temeraire collection as unique as the world she has created, with each tale inspired by an accompanying piece of fan art. The Temeraire novels provide a window into an alternate nineteenth century populated with Novik’s own richly human and unforgettably draconic characters as they adventure alongside well-known historical figures. That tradition continues here. Readers will delight at appearances by fan-favorite characters from the series and historical figures like the famed explorer Matteo Ricci. In “Planting Season,” Novik shows us an early glimpse of American dragon John Wampanoag at Boston Harbor. “Golden Age” finds a dragon who believes he remembers being called Celeste hatch from a shipwreck-tossed crate onto an island where he meets others of his kind. But other famous fictional characters are to be discovered here as well. Readers will certainly recognize a certain Miss Bennet (here Captain Bennet) and her suitor, Mr. Darcy, in “Dragons and Decorum.”Filled with the inventive world-building, rich detail, sparkling wit, and deep emotion that readers have come to expect from Novik’s work, Golden Age and Other Stories is a treasure at home on any Temeraire-lover’s bookshelf.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Naomi Novik – Author

To buy the novel go to:

golden age and other stories – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Walk the Plank On the Horizon – mask of shadows (Linsey Miller)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

mask of shadows (Linsey Miller)

Title: mask of shadows

Author: Linsey Miller

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: TODAY! (Hardcover/E-Book)

ISBN: 978-1492647492

Source: NetGalley

So this novel is about a young gender-fluid adult in a competition to become a court assassin for the purposes of revenge.  Should have been a perfect catch but ended up being such a disappointment that I hereby decree that this book must walk the plank!  Be forewarned dark opinions abide below . . .

Now this book is getting comparisons to Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo.  Now as I thought that throne of glass was an atrocity of storytelling only worth existing so I could read Liam @ heyashers!, snarky read-along, I was hoping it would fall on the Bardugo side of the spectrum.  I can definitively say that it did not.

It certainly is a better version of throne of glass.  I mean the assassins at least compete and the clothes and romance are not the sole focus of the main character.  Sal is assured of her skills and does use her brain occasionally which is nice.  But overall she is not a compelling character.  She seems to have no other major thoughts except for revenge and comes across as rather flat.  Also for someone with no major education except street smarts, her lack of real struggling to learn and adapt to the court world and political society seem unrealistic at best.

The politics and world building also fall rather flat.  I know that there is a young-ish queen struggling to keep her kingdom going but all the interesting political wrangling seemed to have occurred before the novel takes place.  As does the magic.  Magic has been banished from the land and the hints we get of it seemed tantalizing but nothing is truly explained.  The info-dumping that does occur just leaves more questions.  There is no real explanation of how the court functions, how any of the laws work, etc.  The world structure seemed superfluous.  I was hoping for more than that.

I wanted to abandon this book many many times because it was so not what I wanted.  I kept reading for three reasons:

  1. Sal is gender-fluid.  This is the first young adult book I have read with a gender-fluid character.  I tend to see gender-fluidity dealt with a bit more in adult sci-fi.  I wanted to see how this was incorporated for the main character throughout.  I am not gender-fluid so I am not sure if this portrayal works for someone who is (and would LOVE to get that viewpoint) but overall I found this element lacking.  I was glad to have Sal be gender-fluid.  Inclusion of diverse elements is always wonderful.  But with the exception of a couple of secondary characters, Sal spends most of the time being afraid of who she is.  I would have liked to see more personal growth from Sal and those around them on this issue rather than just discussing how their outfit determined the pronoun used.  Of course that may come in the next book . . .
  2. I rather enjoyed the secondary characters of Sal’s love interest and also Sal’s assistant.  In fact I wanted the story to switch from Sal’s perspective to theirs.  I knew it wasn’t going to but I was happy every time I got to spend time with either of those secondary characters.
  3. It was obvious who was going to win the competition, but I wanted to see what the set-up for the next novel was going to be.  While there were twists in the story, (mostly because the assassin competition rules made no sense) I kept hoping that the cliche setting and flat characters were going to redeem themselves somewhere.  I wanted a powerful ending.  It didn’t happen for me.

So basically I will not be reading any further books in this series.  The inclusion of diverse characters and me enjoyment of the secondary characters means that I may give the author’s future series/works a chance.  But this one did not float me boat.

Check out this review from me crew member Bentley @ BookBastion which explains many of the problems that I have with this novel better then I can.  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emeral, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

Sal is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Linsey Miller – Author

To buy the novel go to:

mask of shadows – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the princess in the opal mask (Jenny Lundquist)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have no idea where I first heard about this book but it sounded like a prince and pauper type story so it went onto the ports fer plunder list.  I love those types of fairy tales and was excited to pick this one up.  It turned out to be a fun romp that I read in one night.

There are two girls who eventually do switch places.  The highlight of this book for me was Elara.  She is feisty and determined.  I particularly liked the way in which she interacted with her foster family in the beginning of the novel.  The other girl, Princess Wilha, had her best moments in the second half of the book but overall seemed bland in comparison to Elara.

While this book was fast-paced, it does have lesser elements.  Two in particular were the romances and the plot problems.  The romances were mostly surface and not really developed in depth.  I liked the guys involved.  I just wish they didn’t feel so two dimensional.  The plot was also clumsy.  The reason for the princess wearing the mask seemed farfetched.  A lot of the events seemed disjointed.  So many improbable things just fall into place.  Both main characters make odd choices that just seem to move the plot along.  I would have liked a little more depth to the characters’ motivations.  I also wish there had been more about the relationship between the two girls.  Though I did not expect that ending at all which was fun.

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed it enough to read the sequel.

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

One Legend Determines the Fate of Two Lives   In the faraway village of Tulan, sixteen-year-old Elara has spent her entire life as a servant, trying to track down her real name. The name she was given before being orphaned. Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Galandria, Princess Wilhamina does not know why her father, the king, makes her wear a mask. Or why she is forbidden to ever show her face.

When a new peace treaty between Galandria and Kyrenica is threatened, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face. Told in alternating perspectives, this intricate fairytale pulls both girls toward secrets that have been locked away behind castle doors, while the fate of two opposing kingdoms rests squarely on their untrained shoulders.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jenny Lundquist – Author

To buy the book go to:

the princess in the opal mask – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the tiger’s watch (Julia Ember)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the tiger’s watch (Julia Ember)

Title: the tiger’s watch

Author: Julia Ember

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Publication Date: TODAY!!!! (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1635334852

Source: NetGalley

 

Well, yet again, an interesting cover led me to take a look at this book.  Gender-fluid protagonist who is bonded with a giant golden tiger?  Yes, please.  This book certainly was a quick read at 180 pages.  I read it in one evening.  It was an enjoyable read for me but not a fantastic one.

The pros:

  • Gender-fluid protagonist.  Hooray for diversity!  Also Tashi is accepted by society and their friends.  If only our world could be this way for everyone.
  • The protagonist is conflicted.  Tashi does cry and get confused and make uninformed decisions.  I like that the main character has emotions.
  • Tashi didn’t just magically become a kick-ass warrior in a second because suddenly there is war.
  • Tashi’s spy training is laughable in a good way because their society has been at peace for so long that Tashi thought those studies weren’t extremely important.
  • I loved the best friend Pharo.  He is stubborn and rash and lovable and caring.
  • Bonds with animals.  Awesome of course.  I loved all the unique animals that humans could bond with.  I also enjoyed the consequences for possessing the animal bond.  Not all fun and games but no spoilers here!

The cons:

  • The protagonist is whiny.  I don’t mind that Tashi cries sometimes or is scared.  I did mind that they kept wanting someone else to save them.  And yet they would rush into danger at the drop of a hat at other moments.
  • An eventual love-triangle thing.  It wasn’t instantaneous and there is a love-side and a lust-side.  But why!  So unnecessary.
  • The politics and world-building are not really handled well.  Cool concepts but not enough explanation.  Plus Tashi becomes both a spy and a trusted companion in a really pathetic way.
  • The plot is confusing.  What plot there is seems to be driven by the love-triangle.  Tashi’s lust gets in the way of rational thought.  And plot points occur because they are not thinking.  For example, the perspective on the lust-interest is a ‘He tortures people!  He is so dreamy!’ kinda thing.  Ugh.
  • The ending!  It was very abrupt and the protagonist makes a really dumb choice.  Going from one extreme to another with no real thought.  It is kinda explained but is a rather flimsy excuse for me taste.

I would have liked Tashi to use intelligence and wits to overcome their fear and uncertainty.  I would have loved Tashi to have become an awesome spy.  I would have loved for Tashi to make choices based on others instead of their own simple yet conflicted feelings and desires.  That said I did enjoy many parts of this book.  I just wanted more.  The next novel apparently is from the different perspective of Pharo.  It may be interesting to see the world from another perspective  We shall see . . .

So lastly . . .

Thank you Harmony Ink Press!

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

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as an inhabiter, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But when the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi sees a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander – a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying reveals that everything the inhabiter’s academy taught was a lie, Tashi faces a choice: save their country or the boy they’ve started to love? But while Tashi grapples with the decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabiter’s bond to their animal is for life – when Katala dies, so will Tashi.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Julia Ember – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the tiger’s watch – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – agent to the stars (John Scalzi)

Ahoy there mateys!  Members of me crew may remember that I have a love for John Scalzi as he was featured in Broadside No. 5, tidings from the crew fer the dispatcher, and on the horizon fer the miniatures.  As I work me way through all things Scalzi, I realized I had never read his first written novel.

His author’s note talks about how this book became published and states:

“It began in 1997 as my “practice novel” – that is to say, the novel I wrote to see if I could write a novel . . . I had no intention of ever selling it or ever really doing anything with it.”

Luckily for me he did eventually publish it.  After one particularly rough day at sea, I decided that I needed a pick-me-up.  So I picked up this novel (hardy har har!)  It turned out to be the right choice fer me mood.  Fer a “practice” novel, it was pretty darn good.

The novel concerns humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial lifeforms.  The aliens come to Earth looking to make friends.  The only problem is that they are funny looking and smell real bad.  The aliens are certainly not yer stereotypical little green men.  So what better person to contact than a Hollywood agent to help spin their introduction to our world?  Eventually the agency hands the task to junior agent Thomas Stein who has just had the best day in his career.  It is his last best day for quite some time . . .

This first novel certainly contains Scalzi’s brand of zany humor, dialogue, and characters.  While I like the main character’s ingenuity and caring, I also like the secondary characters.  As usual there are strong and powerful women.  Hooray!  The is certainly nothing earth-shattering about this one but it is super enjoyable and while silly still has moments that make ye think.

I don’t suggest this as the first Scalzi book to be picked up by newcomers but fer those already established Scalzi fans, I certain recommend going back to this beginning.

Side note: I like the fun cover design!

The blurb on the back has this to say about the book:

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Scalzi – Author

To buy the novel go to:

agent to the stars – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – white cat (Holly Black)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This young adult novel caught me eye because it is written by Holly Black and has a cat on the cover (and in the title!):

I have only previously read two books by Holly Black: 1) the coldest girl in coldtown and 2) zombies vs. unicorns.  The coldest girl in coldtown is a young adult vampire book.  The zombie book is an anthology of short stories that argues about whether zombies or unicorns are better.  I loved both of them and had been meaning to pick up another of her books for ages.  So when I read the blurb for this one, I knew this would be the next Holly Black book I would try.  I was not disappointed.

This novel is the story of Cassel who comes from a family of curseworkers but can’t perform curses himself.  It takes place in our world with the addition of magic.  Only magic is against the law.  Thus Cassel’s family are a bunch of con-artists.  For example, his mother can manipulate emotions.  Mom is serving time in jail, his one brother is studying law and working on his mother’s appeal, and his other brother works for the mob.

Cassel is living a life in a boarding school with “normal” people.  He feels he is an outsider in both worlds.  Plus there is the catch that Cassel murdered his best friend three years ago but doesn’t remember doing so or why.  His family covered it up of course.  All Cassel wants is to fit in somewhere but his life begins to unravel even further when he begins to sleepwalk and has dreams featuring a white cat . . .

This book was very engaging and completely plot-twisting.  I only guessed a couple of minor points.  As Cassel learns the truth about his family’s exploits, he begins to come up with a plan to con the con-men.  Following Cassel’s investigation was the highlight for me because I had no idea where the story was going.  Cassel’s con of the mob was very silly but delightfully so.

A close second were the characterizations.  Cassel self-proclaims that he is “not a good person.”  He loves to con folk and there is the question of the murder.  However as we follow Cassel’s journey, we begin to see that he is very much an unreliable narrator despite himself.  It is wonderful.  Add in secondary characters like the friends that Cassel makes along the way.  There are actually girl and guy friends where there is NO romance.  The romance that is in the book is not the main point and only enriches the story.  I also loved reading about Cassel’s ridiculous family members.  The grandfather in particular is awesome.  His brothers and mom not so much.  But I do understand in some fashion why Cassel makes the choices he does.

The ending was a cliff-hanging doozy of a plot twist.  Normally such things aggravate me.  Not this time.  It seemed perfectly in line with all the other crazy plot twists and turns.  Certainly makes me want to read the rest of the series.  Ye might want to check it out.

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Alienor @ star-crossedbookblog

Cait @ paperfury

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

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Holly Black – Author

To buy the book go to:

white cat – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List