On the Horizon – the hazel wood (Melissa Albert)

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 hazel wood (Melissa Albert)

Title: the hazel wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Publisher: Flatiron Books

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

ISBN: 978-1250147905

Source: NetGalley

This book was a slow-burning, dark, and atmospheric read.  It felt like a Grimm’s fairy-tale mixed with some Alice in Wonderland but was mostly set in our modern world.  For all of the book’s slow pacing, I somehow found meself mesmerized by the mystery of it all.

Alice and her mom are always beset by bad luck and have led a fairly nomadic life.  Alice’s life has been heavily influenced by the tantalizing facts about her grandmother, Althea, even though they have never met.  Ye see a young Althea wrote a famous children’s book of fairy-tales and became a sensation.  Yet the book is hard to get a hold of.  It is a rare collector’s item and is out of print.  Alice has never been allowed to read it.  The one time she tried she only got as far as the table of contents before her mom confiscated the volume.  It was never seen again.  Why are Alice and her mom always on the run?  And what is so special about those stories?

If ye read this novel ye can find out.  Alice is a kinda quirky, if tad unlikable, character and her journey certainly is an interesting one.  Most of the story takes place in a seemingly contemporary tale where the fantasy can be glimpsed in the seams and cracks outside of periphery vision.  Those glimpses are enticing.  Of course the fantasy elements increase as the story progresses and that was super fun.

The only small quibble was the ending felt unsettled.  But it fit the Grimm-like mood and so I was satisfied.  Then, of course, I found out it is part of a series!  I do think it can feel like a standalone though.  I do wonder what adventures Alice will get into next.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Flatiron Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

To visit the author’s twitter go to:

Melissa Albert – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the hazel wood – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Off the Charts and On the Horizon – the stowaway (Laurie Gwen Shapiro)

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 stowaway (Sarah Krasnostein)

Title: the stowaway: a young man’s extraordinary adventure to antarctica

Author: Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: Available Now! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-1476753867

Source: NetGalley

This novel was recommended by stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile.  The title and cover immediately captured me fancy.  Stowaways and a ship!  Arrr!  It takes place in the 1920s which is a bonus.  Also me adventurous ma is currently on a ship heading for Antarctica and penguins and cold!  So it seemed appropriate to read about previous Antarctic explorers.

While I prefer sunnier climes, I have always had a fascination for exploration stories of all kinds be it mountain climbin’, island hoppin’, or south pole ice scramblin’.  As a younger lass I read about Shackleton, Darwin, and Cook’s true life adventures.  National Geographic magazine was a much loved publication.  Equally beloved were the fictional survival stories like White Fang, Robinson Crusoe, and the Count of Monte Cristo.  I continue to love these types of stories like recent reads castle of water and feel me fall (highly recommended).

So I began to read this book about Billy Gawronski who was so obsessed with being a member of Byrd’s crew that he was a stowaway on Byrd’s ships not once but three times!  His tenaciousness and pure grit to make it to Antarctica was endearing and fun.  He wasn’t the only one trying to secure a place on this expedition.  Byrd was a crafty man and had thousands of candidates trying to obtain a non-paying berth on the voyage attempting to make American history.

Overall I found this to be a more a story about the facts surrounding getting to and from Antarctica rather than what happened on Antarctica.  It is a seemingly well-researched book.  Much like in real life, Byrd really is the center of the story with Billy’s portions as the more humanistic filler.  The beginning of the book up until the establishment of Little America is the best part of the book though the story loses steam after that.  In any case I found many of the tangential facts to be fascinating.  Like how President Coolidge had a pancake breakfast with actresses in an attempt to bolster his election campaign.  This book was a quick read that I enjoyed even if I thought it would be more about Billy’s adventures in Antarctica.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Simon & Schuster!

Side note: the author has a marvelous article in the New Yorker about “the Stowaway Craze.”  It even shows a photo of Billy!  What fun!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Laurie Gwen Shapiro – Author

To buy the novel go to:

stowaway – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – the curse of chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I be readin’ a lot of adult sci-fi and YA so far this year and had a hankerin’ for some fantasy.  I was goin’ to read the paladin of souls but discovered just before I was about to read it that it be a book 2 of a series.  So I picked up this book 1 instead.  This was me first foray into this author’s work, and I be hooked.  I can’t believe I missed enjoying her novels before.  I will certainly be readin’ the second book.

This was a slow-burning, delicious world-building, character-driven story.  The main character, Cazaril, is a broken woe-filled man with absolute horrible luck.  He is only in his 30s but seems ancient and weather-worn.  When met, he is on a desperate journey to throw himself on the mercy of his former employer in an attempt to find a job, any job, wherein he may work and try to obtain some measure of peace.

Of course peace is not what he gets.  Instead he is pulled into a horrible situation he wants no part of.  Politics, gods, curses, magic and impossible odds.  Anything else I can say about it would only be a diminishment of how completely awesome it is.  Seriously, ye have to read it.

Check out these other effusive reviews by me crew:

zeezee @ zeezeewithbooks

brad @ goodreads

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Lois McMaster Bujold – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the curse of the chalion – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – thunderhead (Neal Shusterman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, scythe, then ye might want to skip this post and go read the first book. Worth the read. If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril .

First let’s take a look at another beautiful cover:

 

I am absolutely glad I read this novel.  I loved it!  This book is set one year after the events of book one.  Citra is a junior scythe and is trying to settle into that new role.  At the same time, her approach to death is unusual and is causing political waves.  Rowan has chosen to become an vengeful angel of death known as “Lucifer” and attempts to fight the corruption of scythes from the outside.  Much to the chagrin of the organization.  The clash between the new wave scythes and the older guard continues to cause havoc.

I thought this book be way better than the first novel in terms of plot and pacing.  The Thunderhead viewpoints were fun and I adored the addition of Greyson.  In fact he became me favourite character in the book.  And I loved the ending all around.  I won’t give any other details because no spoilers.  But I am eagerly awaiting book three and think that all of me crew should give this series a chance.  Arrrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neal Shusterman – Author

To buy the book go to:

thunderhead – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

scythe – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – sourdough (Robin Sloan)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This story is about sourdough bread, robots, and a quirky girl named Lois.  This book made me long for fresh baked bread to eat while I read.  It is a contemporary with a blend of sci-fi and magical realism and fantasy mixed in very subtlety.  It kinda defies adequate explanation.  The simple version is that a woman named Lois who works as a programmer is given a bread “starter” and learns to bake sourdough thus changing her life forever.  That seems like it could be boring but it is not.  The book feels lighthearted and yet has dense ideas underneath.  It was fast paced and a delight.  I read it in one sitting.  I loved Lois.  I loved the starter.  I loved the book.  Try it.  Just  be prepared for it to make yer belly rumble.

Check out me crew member’s effusive review:

Stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile – who introduced me to this one!  Thanks matey!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.

Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.

When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robin Sloan – Author

To buy the book go to:

sourdough – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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

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