On the Horizon – the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)

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

the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)

Title: the tea master and the detective

Author: Aliette de Bodard

Publisher: Subterranean Press

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

ISBN: 978-1596068643

Source: NetGalley

The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

  1. I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;
  2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
  3. One of the characters is a mindship . . .

This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship.  It was previously a military ship who physically survived an ambush and massacre but since retired from active duty and is suffering PTSD and struggling to make ends meet.  One of the things the ship does to make money is brew special blends of tea.  These teas are made to suit the drinker’s specific goals and body chemistry.  One day a woman named Long Chau comes in and requests a serenity blend to focus her mind.  The ship takes the needed money and finds itself not only involved in a crime investigation but also having to face deep space where the ship swore it would never enter again.

Apparently this book is part of a series of books and stories set in the Universe of Xuya.  I had never read anything set in Xuya before.  I found the world-building and characterizations to be fascinating.  I absolutely loved the neurotic, damaged The Shadow’s Child and the story told from the ship’s perspective.  I didn’t really care much about the crime story itself but was more focused on how the ship was dealing with a situation it didn’t care for.  Long Chau is a purposefully unlikeable character who is trying to do the right thing.

Ultimately while I really enjoyed the story, I think I would like a longer work with more detailing of how the society functions and how the mindships work.  But this character-driven piece was a good introduction to a new world that I hope to visit more often.  Besides who doesn’t love mindships?  Arrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Aliette de Bodard – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the tea master and the detective – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Here be Dragons – the tea dragon society (Katie O’Neill)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So along with me love of the sea, I also have a fierce love of dragons.  This be graphic novel.  I never read a graphic novel before as I am not a visual person and wasn’t sure if the medium would work for me.  But the cute cover and subject matter kept luring me back to looking at this one.  Then I read this post by milliebot @ milliebotreads.  She does an awesome series where she does, in fact, judge books by their cover and showcases some of the stunning books that she owns.  I was convinced that I had to read it.

And I have to say that the artwork in this book is absolutely fabulous.  I loved the world that the author has created.  Tea dragons are adorable and I kinda want one.  Look at how cute they are:

from the author’s website

The artwork alone was worth reading this for me.  The only downside is that I thought the story that went with it was odd.  There didn’t seem to be an actual through-line.  The tea dragons were adorable but didn’t really do anything.  The main character, Greta, was charming and kind and I liked her.  The themes of friendship and hard work were also lovely.  I was able to understand what was happening in the book as the visuals were clear.  There was just no plot or exploration of character.  It seemed to be more of vignettes with no exploration or answers.  So I treated it like an art book and just enjoyed the visuals in the way that I enjoy perusing art museums.

I am not sure if this is usual for graphic novels or is just a side-effect of this particular one having begun its life as a webcomic.  I don’t mind me books having pictures but I have to say that I prefer me stories to be told in words.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Katie O’Neill – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

the tea dragon society – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – nothing but sky (Amy Trueblood)

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

nothing but sky (Amy Trueblood)

Title: nothing but sky

Author: Amy Trueblood

Publisher: Flux

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

ISBN: 978-1635830163

Source: NetGalley

The beautiful cover led me to looking into this one.  It is about a female barnstormer in the roaring twenties.  What is a barnstormer ye ask?  Well a barnstorming act is basically a flying circus.  The pilots do aerial tricks and sell airplane rides.  Some of these acts had wing-walkers, like Lillian Boyer, who would do car-to-plane transfers, walk on the wings while the plane was in flight, and do parachute jumps.  Tricks like this:

source

This story tells the fictional account of a wing-walker named Grace.  Orphaned as a child, she grew up with her bachelor pilot uncle.  Under duress, she became his wing-walker at the age of 13.  Now 18, Grace has plans for her team to make it to the World Aviation Expo in Chicago and from there earn a contract to work in Hollywood.  But competition is fierce and one team owner in particular seems determined to poach her or otherwise ruin her shot at Chicago.  Can Grace’s dream come true?

This book was a lovely look into a slice of American history.  It was a quick read that I read in one sitting.  While I had heard of barnstorming before, I didn’t know that much about it.  Grace was feisty, hard-working, determined, stubborn, loyal, and sometimes had a wicked temper.  I was immersed in Grace’s story and the details of the planes and aerobatics.  I have to admit that I was surprised by a couple of the plot twists.  Though I don’t prefer romance, it was handled well.

The author seems to have done a stellar job at research.  Better yet this book led me to further reading on figures who appear in the book like, Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman and Native-American descendant to earn a pilot license.  I love when historical fiction makes me interested enough to do factual research.  I recommend this one if any of the above sounds interesting.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Flux!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Amy Trueblood – Author

To buy the novel go to:

nothing but sky – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – trading in danger (Elizabeth Moon)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have been wanting to read a book by this author forever and was going to start with the novel, cold welcome.  I heard about the book from the review by Sarah @ brainfluff and immediately added it to the list.  Where it sat.  It sat there long enough for Sarah to review the second book in the series.  By luck or coincidence, I had just picked up cold welcome to read when I saw Sarah’s review of book two which ended with “This is recommended for fans of science fiction thrillers – though ideally, you should first read the Vatta’s War series and Cold Welcome.”  I hadn’t realized there was another series and I trust Matey Sarah.  So I immediately put cold welcome on the back burner and got ahold of this one instead.

I absolutely loved it.  I sat and read avidly and completed the book in one session.  The novel started out with a bang.  The protagonist, Vatta, is expelled for military school but doesn’t know why.  How cool is that?  Sent home in disgrace, her wealthy family gives her a pity mission.  She has to Captain a cargo ship to a port where she will deliver the cargo and then sell the ship for scrap.  Her crew are all older and it is supposed to be a milk mission to let time pass and Vatta’s disgrace fade out of the media spotlight.  But Vatta has other ideas which of course don’t go according to plan.

Vatta was a fantastic protagonist – intelligent, clever, calm-under-pressure, and resourceful.  But she does make mistakes and has fears and concerns.  I loved watching her grow during the course of the book.  I thought the other crew members were excellent characters too if mostly in the background.  The plot was excellent and fun.  This was a perfect read in a perfect moment.  I will certainly be reading more of this series.  Arrr!

Side note: I thought this was the first book I had ever read by the author.  But apparently she also wrote the Paksenarrion series.  I read omnibus, the deed of paksenarrion, back in the day.  Sadly, me only memories of these books were that I liked them.  Nothing more in me noggin’ about it.  Sigh.

Amazon has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elizabeth Moon – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

trading in danger – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Shiver Me Timbers! NetGalley Rejections!

Ahoy there me mateys!  Me blog be over two years old as of January 2018.   It originally took several months for me to learn about NetGalley and then attempt to use it. In fact, my first review was submitted to NetGalley on April 3, 2016.  Weirdly, I didn’t post a review of that book on me blog at the time.  Now, of course, I am a NetGalley junkie and am continuously perusing the loot and raising a celebratory glass whenever I get approved.  It hasn’t gotten old.  But even this pirate Captain has been declined at times.  While recently trying to plan me eArc readin’, I was curious about how often I had been rejected so of course a tally was needed.  Turns out that number be currently at 44.  Well me scalawags, I feel the need to explore the rejections and see what me thoughts be all these days later.  Due to the number, I believe this will be split into several log posts.  Hope ye like it.  If not sod off cause I be enjoying meself . . .

Side note: all book titles link to Goodreads.

  1. a green and ancient light (Frederic S. Durbin) – Well mateys, me first rejection be a surprise.  I didn’t remember this book at all.  Apparently it is set in a world similar to ours with a parallel WWII.  There is a man who knows the real story of Cinderella’s slipper.  Goodreads describes it as a “gorgeous fantasy in the spirit of Pan’s Labyrinth and John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things.”  Ummm yes.  I adored John Connolly’s book and the sound of the blurb.  Plus look at the lovely cover.  This book never even made it to the ports for plunder list!  That has been remedied and this book be back on the radar.  Now I just have to get me a copy!
  2. roses and rot (Kat Howard) – I do remember this title.  This book keep going on and off the ports for plunder list.  It has great reviews from me crew so I kept adding it.  But it is about the fae so I kept taking it off.  I was obsessed with books set in Ireland involving the fae for awhile and then I burned out.  Plus the fae seem to all be super gorgeous and rather empty-headed these days.  So I have not read it and currently do not plan to.  That said, another book by this author called an unkindness of magicians be on me list.  I don’t know if it should stay there.  Any thoughts from the crew?
  3. like a boss (Adam Rakunas) – This is the second book in a series.   I bought this one after the NetGalley rejection.  I shared me second reflections of book one, windswept, after reading it again.  I loved it!  This book was a disappointment and I had to abandon ship.  The whole sad story can be found here.  
  4. company town (Madeline Ashby) – I haven’t read this one yet but I still very much like the sound of it – murder mysteries, bio-engineered enhancements, possible other timelines.  Plus it has a beautiful cover.  I tried to get a copy of this novel because I had read vN and iD, the first two books in her Machine Dynasty series.  I very much enjoyed those books but unfortunately read them back in the days before the blog so I have no reviews of them.  Hopefully I will get around to this one.  Plus there is a book three in the Machine Dynasty series that I have now added to the ports for plunder list.  Arrrr!  
  5. the stars at oktober bend (Glenda Millard) – So this sounds like a contemporary YA based on the blurb.  The main character, Alice, has had a traumatic head injury and has problems speaking.  She writes poems to express herself and leaves them randomly about town.  The blurb says “When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars.”  Pretty sure that’s the image that captured me fancy.  Too bad that it sounds like a contemporary romance.  I don’t really do those so it will remain unread.

So out of the five rejections in this set we have:

1 read and subsequently abandoned, 2 still on the ports for plunder list, and 2 ports quarantined and never to be visited again.

Keep a weathered-eye out for more rejections and always remember:

Q: Why don’t pirates shower before they walk the plank?
A: Because they’ll just wash up on shore later.

Hardy har har!

x The Captain

The Captain’s Log – the forever war (Joe Haldeman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This piqued me interest because of the title and then the blurb sounded awesome.  I had never heard of the author or the book.  I brought it home and of course the First Mate had not only heard of it but had read both it and another book in the series.  Apparently, yet again, I somehow missed one of the most important sci-fi works ever written.  This novel won the following awards:

Hugo Award for Best Novel (1976), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1975), Locus Award for Best Novel (1976), Ditmar Award for Best International Long Fiction (1976)

Also it is a sci-fi novel in response to the Vietnam War.  As Goodreads states:

Based in part on the author’s experiences in Vietnam, The Forever War is regarded as one of the greatest military science fiction novels ever written, capturing the alienation that servicemen and women experience even now upon returning home from battle. It shines a light not only on the culture of the 1970s in which it was written, but also on our potential future.

Well then.  So, of course, I had to read it and I have to say that I thought this book was amazing!  While the book’s Vietnam references are there, I overall felt that this book was timeless.  It didn’t feel aged or dated.  I thought it was absorbing and fascinating.

The plot follows Mandella as he fights in an interplanetary war.  The issue is that due to the logistics of space travel, Mandella’s battles can last several years while back on Earth decades or centuries pass.  The war is the one constant but every time Mandella’s on leave, he has to confront the social and economic changes that have been occurring back home.  And goodness do things change.

The main message seems to be that war is begun from stupidity and greed as a means to control the populace.  War is pointless and never has good consequences.  A message I can certainly get behind.  If ye haven’t read this one then I highly recommend it.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

This is the first part of the “Forever War” series, however it can be read as a standalone . . .

The Earth’s leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand—despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through military ranks. Pvt. Mandella is willing to do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But “home” may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Joe Haldeman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the forever war – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – torn (Rowenna Miller)

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

torn (Rowenna Miller)

Title: torn

Author: Rowenna Miller

Publisher: Orbit Books

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

ISBN: 9780316478628

Source: NetGalley

Upon reading the synopsis, I thought this novel would float me boat. But I just could not finish it and had to abandon ship at 80%.  Why ye ask?  Well for a myriad of reasons:

  • Sophie – She is the main character and at first I really liked her.  She was hard-working, dedicated, driven, intelligent, and fun.  But basically she is a character who waffles forever, makes the wrong choices every time, is extremely selfish, and doesn’t use her brain.  People DIE because of her stupidity and yet even that doesn’t help her decide.  By doing nothing (but lying) she creates a situation that could have been solved in the very beginning just by turning the bad man into the police.  I kept waiting for her to fix her own mistakes and instead (at 80%) she FINALLY  makes a decision and then runs to a man to whine and ask for help.  That was the point where I had to stop reading.  Ugh.
  • The Magic – Sophie is a seamstress who sews magic into clothing with her stiches.  This aspect of the novel was awesome.  It just really didn’t get used to its potential.  I wanted to see more of the magic in action, not just hear about some of the small things it could do as an aside.
  • The Love Story – Sigh.  Insta-lust turned into love in a couple of weeks.  She is a commoner.  He is a noble.  Star-crossed lovers that ye be supposed to cheer for.  But I didn’t really.
  • The Love Interest – Okay so despite disliking the insta-lust, I did like a couple of things about Sophie’s man.  He is a botanist and a violinist.  He has an eye for artistry.  He is strong and intelligent.  But oh so naïve.  The “commoners live like this?” and “well yes we are so rich but we have responsibilities that are given to us by birth and oh it’s so hard” kinda crap.  Sophie of course opens his eyes to the common folk problems while he wines, dines, and seduces her with his charm and riches.
  • The Brother – Sophie’s brother is frankly an ass.  Everything she does is because her brother always gets his way and she loves him.  Is civil war worth saving yer selfish idealistic stupid brother.  Ummm apparently yes.  And then the plot twist happens and Sophie sees the truth!  Well it was apparent to this pirate Captain from the beginning.
  • The Bad Guy – He seemingly wants to bring down society in flames because of revenge.  But his sister was spurned!  Her reputation was ruined!  So isn’t it justice?  No it’s because he doesn’t feel important enough and no one realizes his superiority and intelligent.  Bah!
  • The Hired Help – I actually loved the girls working in the shop with Sophie.  But in her selfishness she really treats them like crap and they deserved better.  I wanted to see more of the good aspects of the friendships that were hinted at the beginning of the novel.
  • The Pacing – It took forever to get into the story and was rather repetitive.  We had to hear about brother’s beautiful writing, the anger of the populace, how nobles are evil, and the taverns meetings a bit too much.  Poor = grumpy.  Nobles = evil.  Sophie needs nobles and money to survive.  Seriously for something that simplistic, the author pointed it out an awful lot.  There was no real build up or action.  Most of that happened off the page.  Instead we get Sophie waffling and visiting the rich people artists’ salon.

I kept reading because I wanted to see how Sophie used her magic to solve the problem.  When she ran to lover-boy for help I got grumpy.  When he agreed to help her without any commentary about her mistakes or stupidity because he loved her so, I had to stop.  With so many books on the horizon, I just gave up.  I want me reading to make time seem to disappear, not to accentuate every second passing.  I am sad, but I couldn’t fight the tide.

I wish this one would have focused on the magic and had Sophie be a strong woman and not an idiot.  I loved the sewing magic!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Orbit!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rowenna Miller – Author

To buy the novel go to:

torn – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List