Captain’s Log – spoonbenders (Daryl Gregory)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was the absolute perfect read for the last book of 2017.  I was first introduced to this author with his book afterparty.  That book was a sci-fi dealing with illicit drug use which I found to be fun, thought-provoking, and twisty.  Those same adjectives could also be used to describe this one.  This book kinda reminded me of a prayer for owen meany, only a lot less sad.

This book follows the Telemachus family who have paranormal abilities.  The family is zany and endearing.  Seriously I would write more but I have been beaten to the punch by me crew who frankly explains this one better than I ever could.

So check out this review by Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum for an excellent take on this novel!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Daryl Gregory – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

spoonbenders – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

afterparty (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

Advertisements

Off the Charts – gulp (Mary Roach)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  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.  So today I bring ye:

gulp: adventures on the alimentary canal (Mary Roach)

This book was so fascinating that I sat across from the first mate reading fact after fact out-loud to him, prompting discussions – interesting, varied, and oh so disgusting.  Seriously ye will not be able to shut yer gob about these odd facts to those in yer proximity.  Historical facts about enemas, Elvis, pet food, fecal matter, and saliva (seriously saliva is awesome) abound.  Parts of it are funny, gross, but funny.  I have always loved this author’s work ever since I read her book about cadavers called stiff.  She takes subject matter that gives folks the heebie-jeebies (fecal transplants anyone?) and writes compelling, engaging, and thought-provoking commentary about her explorations of the subject.  Other topics she has studied include spooks, the science of sex, and mars.  I haven’t read her Mars one yet or the one about the science of war but they are on the list.  If ye haven’t read her work I suggest ye give it a go.  Taboo topics have never been so eloquently and matter-of-factly written about.  I love her.  Arrrrr!

 

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside.

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour of our insides. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions inspired by our insides are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find names for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? We meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks—or has the courage—to ask. And we go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a bacteria transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal.

Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Mary Roach – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

gulp – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Shiver me Timbers!

Ahoy there me mateys!  So as many of me crew of scalawags, seadogs, and fellow explorers knows today is Xmas (in the part of the world I am in anyways).  Now as I am a Scroogey-Grinch whose only joy in this holiday is pillaging christmas baked goods, I thought I would share one of me more favorite anti-xmas shanties.  Listen to it at yer own peril!  And enjoy:

For those that celebrate the holiday, I hope yer holiday is all ye want it to be.  For the rest of us . . . a regular day on the high seas!

Always remember:

Q:  What did the Pirate Santa say?

A:  Row row row!

Hardy har har!

x The Captain

On the Horizon – into the drowning deep (Mira Grant)

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

into the drowning deep (Mira Grant)

Title: into the drowning deep

Author: Mira Grant

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication Date: Available Now!! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-0316379403

Source: NetGalley

 

Well ye landlubbers, this is how the mermaids of the deep truly be.  Not some beautiful singing maiden longing to be on land but menacing fierce fighting and killin’ machines that will rip yer face off and guzzle yer flesh.  Arrrrr!  Nasty creatures they be.  Much thanks to Mira Grant fer giving up a better understanding of the denizens of the deep sea.

Mehaps it just be me but this took awhile to be engaging.  Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the science of it right fine.  I enjoyed the characters in it.  It just took too much time to get into the nitty-gritty of the beasts and action.  I didn’t get hooked onto the story until 63% and it only really gripped me until 85%.  Plus I did not really enjoy the ending.  But me mateys were chatterin’ in excitement about this one and plus I adore the author’s other work so I was determined to finish this.

I am glad I did.  I loved the reality behind the mermaid myths.  I loved the biology of the mermaids.  I thought the killin’ be awesome though I don’t fancy fighting one of these beasties meself anytime soon.  Many of the ideas in this novel float me boat.  Sadly the execution just didn’t thrill me.

But I wouldn’t hesitate to give this one a go if ye be interested.  As says some of me crew:

Lashaan @ bookidote – “this story does wonders in torturing my soul and scarring me from ever trying out deep sea exploration”

Kate @ forwinternights – “There are lots of surprises and shocks. And so much blood. I spent a fair amount of time while reading this novel shuddering. I love that!”

Chelsea @ thesuspenseisthrillingme – “her fiction has so many scientific “facts” to enhance the credibility of the story I almost forget this is fiction and not a documentary on the Discovery Channel.”

So lastly . . .

Thank you Orbit Books!

Side note: And with that I be finished with the last of the 2017 Netgalley eArcs!  Arrrr!  Onto the 2018 bunch!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) – Author

To buy the novel go to:

into the drowning deep – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

every heart a doorway – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

down among the sticks and bones – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

The Captain’s Log – river of teeth & taste of marrow (Sarah Gailey)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So apparently there was a meat shortage in the United States in 1910, so this dude Robert F. Broussard introduced what was known as the “Hippo Bill” or H.R. 23261 to Congress.  In it, he proposed to import hippos from Africa and let them loose in Louisiana!  These hippos would eat the hyacinth that polluted the swamps and in turn be eaten by the American meat-loving people.  Anyone fancy a hippo steak?

Now obviously this did not happen.  At least I never saw hippos running around during my time in the South.  But the great thing is that this author took the idea of hippos in Louisiana and wrote two novellas in a alternate American timeline of the 1890s about what could have been.  And what could have been is this:

Yes me hearties, cowboys riding hippos!  Or hoppers as they are known.  The first novella follows hopper Winslow Remington Houndstooth as he goes on adventures with fellow mercenary hippo wrangers while on his river horse, Ruby.  I don’t want to get into the plot because this is one ye must enjoy for yerself.  How much did I love it?  I finished and immediately paid for and read the sequel.  I want more!!!  So instead of spoiling the plot, I will give ye five fun interestin’ hippo facts:

  1. the word hippopotamus is from the 1560s, from Latin, from Greek hippopotamos river horse, from hippos horse + potamos river (source)
  2. “A group of hippos in known as a ‘herd’, ‘pod’, ‘dale’ or ‘bloat’” (source) or school or sieges (source).  I love bloat.  Hardy har har!
  3. Hippos cannot float or swim! (source).  They walk on the river bottom.
  4. The “average female [hippo] weighs around 3,000 lbs. (1,400 kilograms) while males weigh 3,500 to 9,920 lbs. (1,600 to 4,500 kg).” (source)
  5. The Library of Congress has an awesome site where ye can read actual articles from the newspapers from 1910 about the “Hippo Bill.”  I had to do a happy hippo dance!  No I am sadly not joking.

Hippos are awesome.  These novella’s are awesome.  I suggest ye get them now.  Or if ye can wait a little bit, both novellas will be published in a single volume called “American Hippo” in May of 2018.  I am glad I didn’t wait.

Side note: The author’s Foreword recommended reading more about hippo ranching in Jon Mooallem’s article “American Hippopotamus” in the Atavist Magazine.  I gladly did.  I included the link for ye lazy scoundrels.

Goodreads has this to say about the first novella:

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Sarah Gailey – Author

To buy the novellas go to:

river of teeth – Book

taste of marrow – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the trauma cleaner (Sarah Krasnostein)

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 non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the trauma cleaner (Sarah Krasnostein)

Title: the trauma cleaner: one woman’s extraordinary life in the business of death, decay, and disaster

Author: Sarah Krasnostein

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: April 10, 2018 (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-1250101204

Source: NetGalley

 

I discovered this book looking into St. Martin’s Press’ releases because I previously read castle of water which was one of me favourite reads of 2017.  One of me odd jobs back in the day was helping a company who organized houses.  They needed more people to help with a specific hoarder’s house and I needed extra funds so I signed up.  To say it was an eye-opening experience into that specific mental illness in an understatement.  So what in the world must trauma cleaning be like?  I honestly expected this book to have a lighter tone to it like stiff does about the business of dead bodies.  I somehow thought it would be funny yet respectful.  While the book was extremely respectful and had funny moments, it turned out to be a heart-wrenching tale of one woman, Sandra’s, amazing journey to survive and thrive in life.

If ye expect this book is going to be about the “trauma” as seemingly indicated in the title, ye might be mistaken.  The book does look into “living clients,” the hoarder aspect of the job in particular, using extremely vivid imagery about smells, trash, and the difficulties of getting people to let go of clutter.  It does not deal as greatly with the aspects of the job like industrial clean up or murder scenes.  Perhaps that it is to help the reader because the author’s turn of phrase, while sometimes lyrical, is so stark and effective at times.  But ultimately there is plenty of trauma in dealing with Sandra’s life story.  It is seemingly more harsh then cleaning murder scenes.  It seems crazy to say that but that’s what it felt like to this reader.

Ye see Sandra’s life started out rough and it seems like a miracle that she not only survived but became the thoughtful wonderful person found in the pages of this biography.  She was born a male in Australia, abandoned as an infant, and then adopted by a Catholic family.  This family was no picnic.  The father was an abusive alcoholic.  The family eventually had more blood-related children after adopting Sandra, which, in combination with the belief that their son might be homosexual, led to a life of hell.  Ugh.  I won’t get into the rest of the details here.  Makes me stomach clench just to think of it.  As the blurb states, before she was a trauma cleaner, “Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife.”  She was one of the first patients to have gender reassignment surgery in the 1980s.

It was the portrayal of life as a non-conforming society individual that I found as compelling as I did heart-breaking.  While Sandra’s life seems to have had love and joy in it, there also seemed to be a pervading sense of  self-doubt, denial, and pain.  It is the pain that lingered throughout the tale and made it a hard read.  I have amazing respect for the journey and am grateful to have read this book.  I highly recommend it but only wish that I had felt more joy in how Sandra’s life ultimately has turned out in the end.

So lastly . . .

Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

Side note: there are some very interesting articles out there in relation to this novel.  Some recommendations:

STC Services – Sandra’s business website

the Guardian

the Herald Sun

Daily Mail – be forewarned that the headline is a little lurid and the article tells a lot of the plot of the book but it has the photos talked about but not found in me copy of the book

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

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Sarah Krasnostein – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the trauma cleaner – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – autonomous (Annalee Newitz)

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

autonomous (Annalee Newitz)

Title: autonomous

Author: Annalee Newitz

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

Publication Date: Available Now!! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-0765392077

Source: NetGalley

Well me mateys, while this be an interesting read, it certainly wasn’t what I was expectin’. I somehow expected it to be much better.  It started out with a brilliant quoting of “the last Saskatchewan pirate” which be a shanty that all me crew should know and love.

Side note: if ye haven’t heard it then take a break and click on the link in the title above and give it a gander.  Then come back and finish reading this log post.  That be an order!

 

The first main character we meet is the awesome pirate, Jack.  Ye see Jack is a reverse pharmacological engineer who takes lifesaving drugs from the major tech companies and recreates them in order to give them to the poor.  A pharma pirate Robin Hood.  Yup I was on-board immediately.  Jack sells other black-market “non-necessary” drugs as her side gig to make the money fer her larger calling.  Only she just released a reversed batch of drug called Zacuity to get said funds and unfortunately it be havin’ unintended consequences.  Like death.  Which goes against Jack’s ideals and desires.  Can she make it right or will the pharma companies catch up with her and run her through first?

So yes great beginning.  The central theme of the book seems to be that money in this version of the world does not make ye free and that everyone is either a literal slave to society or intellectually so.  The world building was well done and realistic.  The patent law in this book was a lovely concept.  Everything belongs to someone else (usually a corporation) and so how money and information flows can be a mess.  It isn’t overbearingly done.  I’m just a nerd.

In addition to Jack there be robots and indentured humans and scientists etc.  This is where I found most of me enjoyment of the book.  I loved Paladin who is one of the military bots sent by the pharma to get Jack and to help quell any information about their drug having adverse consequences.  Frankly Paladin was the reason this book was worth reading.  Paladin is a recently made bot whose has the most growth in the novel.  I very much enjoyed the perspective of this bot in terms of inter-robot interaction, trying to figure out how humans work, and personal exploration of how programming affected thought.  Me other favourite character happened to also be a bot raised by human scientists.

Unfortunately I found most of the humans to less multi-dimensional.  Jack has so much promise and then makes extremely odd unintelligent choices while on the run.  The human side-kick to Paladin has a sexual urge for the robot and the subplot got tiring.  Also the pacing was uneven and several times made me want to stop reading.  And the ending was abrupt and extremely unsatisfying.  I am not unhappy that I read this but it ended up being just okay.  Awesome ideas but not enough payout.  I am not saying don’t read this book.  I just think there are better robot related books out there.  Check out a recent read, sea of rust, for example.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Annalee Newitz – Author

To buy the novel go to:

autonomous – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List