Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – in the eye of heaven (David Keck)

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

in the eye of heaven (David Keck)

Title: in the eye of heaven

Author: David Keck

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

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

ISBN: 978-1250172525

Source: NetGalley

I really wanted to like this debut fantasy novel.  It was compared to Glen Cook and the adjectives “gritty” and “medieval” were used.  One of me favourite author’s, Tamora Pierce, gave it a four-star review on Goodreads and read it twice.  Hence its appeal.  But this one just did not float me boat.  Instead I had to abandon ship and watch it sink to the watery depths never to be seen again.  I just found the writing style to be dense and confusing.  I would have liked the plot to be more focused.  Also I found the main character, Durand, to be rather flat and not compelling.  I thought I was going to get a character that I didn’t necessarily find admirable but would root for almost despite meself.  Some of me crew members are highly enjoying this one but the little bit that I read was less than stellar.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

NetGalley has this to say about the novel:

In the Eye of Heaven is book one of David Keck’s acclaimed and gritty epic fantasy Eye of Heaven trilogy.

Durand is simply a good squire trying to become a good knight in a harsh and unforgiving world.

After fourteen years of grueling training, Durand’s knighthood and inheritance, the lordship of a small village in his father’s duchy, seemed assured. However, Fate saw otherwise. When the long lost son of the knight of that village unexpectedly returns, Durand must forge his own name and fortune.

Disgraced sons, treacherous dukes, plots of murder, and banished monsters—what begins as a young man’s journey to self-discovery quickly turns into a quest to save the World of Man.

To visit the author’s website go to:

David Keck – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

in the eye of heaven – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Captain’s Log – stranger in a strange land (Robert A. Heinlein)

Ahoy there mateys!  Get ready for a bit of a rant with spoilers.  Read at yer own peril . . .  This was me first reading of this classic sci-fi work.  I did read some Heinlein back in me youth.  But I seemed to have read only “juveniles” like “the rolling stones” and “have spacesuit – will travel.”  And details of those reads remain extraordinarily fuzzy even if thinking of them brings back feelings of happiness in general.

Sci-Fi aficionados would always express surprise that I had not read this masterwork by this Grandmaster of the genre.  And it has been on the list to read forever.  But I have always been hesitant to read it.  Some common problems with it seem to be its portrayal of women, religion, and smugness.  But then the library had an audiobook version of it, and I decided to give it a go.

I absolutely ADORED the setup and first bits of this book.  I loved our introduction to the Martian.  I loved his simple ways and foreign viewpoints.  I loved his earnestness and vulnerability and own type of innocence.  I found his friend, Jill the nurse, to be a tremendously strong-willed woman.  I loved the escape to Jubal’s house.  I loved hearing “grok” in context.  I was absolutely engrossed and fascinated.  I loved watched Mike listen, absorb, and grow.  So what happened?  Mike the Martian has learned what he needs to at Jubal’s house and decides to leave the Nest and go out into the world.

And my enjoyment of the book began to die.  First, all the interesting political posturing over Mike’s fortune is just swept to the side in a tidy bit of lawyering.  Then the first place Mike decides to visit in his newer grown-up phase is the carnival?  Because sure that makes sense.

So Mike learns the art of the con and Jill becomes a boring archetype whose happiness about her body involves its use to seduce the viewer and to have sex with Mike and others.  I have nothing against the enjoyment of sex and I don’t even have a problem with sex as used in stripping or other things.  My problem is that Jill goes from an intelligent woman who loves her body to a seemingly bubble-headed woman whose only ambition is to follow Mike around in order to be surrounded by his good grace . . . and his perfect manly sex.

So in addition to touring with the carnival, Mike also decides to start a church based on the Fosterite Church portrayed in the book.  Now the Fosterite “church” in the book is actually delightful in its hypocrisy.  Gambling, drinking, sinning . . . it’s all okay as long as ye be gambling on the machines in the Fosterite Church while drinking the church-sponsored brand of beer and donating some of yer ill-gotten wins back to the church, etc.  So Mike wants to change the world with his ideas and philosophies and decides to use a horrible selfish corporation church as basis of the mechanism to do so?  WTF?  What a lame cop-out.  The Martian creates a cult.

And the strong women of the story continue to degrade.  So the woman discover the joys of sex with a willing and thoughtful partner.  Okay that’s fine. But then there is a rape and the response from I-used-to-be-intelligent-but-became-a-moron-the-first-time-I-had-good-sex Jill is “Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it’s partly her fault.”  I almost stopped the book right there.  Perhaps I should have.  Because the Jill from the beginning of the book would not have said such a stupid thing.  But it IS a masterpiece so I continued listening.

And apparently when woman become sexually free they want three things 1) to sleep with ALL the men, 2) to have babies, lots of babies, and 3) all want hetero-sexual non-monogamous relationships.  Gag.  I happen to think there is more to being a woman then being forced to having babies, having no standards when it comes to picking a sexual partner (any man will do?), and I don’t believe that every woman on the planet is straight.  Also the woman in Jubal’s household actually sulk and are passive-aggressive about who gets to have sex with Mike until they figure out a schedule they like.  Alpha male with beta jealousy-ridden females fighting over his time.  Of course that is the dream of any and all American woman. And of course Mike doesn’t notice the in-fighting because he is above that.  Ugh.  Mike impregnates most of them.  Bleh.

And then of course there is the smugness.  Mike’s way is the ONLY way to be and he will be a martyr to the world that will eventually all see the way.  All the people will realize that they want to live in these large sexually-free societies where there are mass orgies, cannibalism, and baby making.  All will learn the true Martian language.  All will believe in Mike’s church.  Any who doesn’t is a prude and a waste that will be weeded out.  All the men are smug and know what’s best.  The women hold “positions of power” but do nothing that Mike hasn’t approved of.  In fact some of the women, like Jill, actually like to have so little individuality that they begin to look like each other and switch places with each other because it doesn’t matter who has the experience.  They can be filled in on the details later.  Oh and they can magic themselves younger and more aesthetically pleasing.  And that is supposed to be freedom for women?

The only idea I could kinda get behind is the lack of emphasis of consumerism culture.  But that’s easy when Mike is so rich that money doesn’t matter and he can perform magic and get what ye want.

I would never ever want to live in the society espoused by Mike the Martian.  I almost wish I had never read this mess of a book.  Sure it might be a forward thinking book for a certain-type of heterosexual male-dominated society.  But it’s a surprisingly backward book for me despite the hippy-free love orgies.  I would say that the criticism of this book is well-founded.  I was going to listen to the moon is a harsh mistress next.  But I am not sure I can stomach it.  And I cannot recommend this book to others.

While researching for this post, I came across this article on the Tor website by Jo Walton who sums up some of the problems that I have with this book in a much more well-written and concise fashion.

I also enjoyed this review by a member of Goodreads named Christy.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.

To visit the author’s society website go to:

Robert A. Heinlein – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

stranger in a strange land – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the sleep and the spindle (Neil Gaiman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So a while back I listened to the wonderfully fabulous fortunately, the milk, which I adored.  I immediately added all of Mr. Gaiman’s audiobooks to me list.  I have a wee bit of an obsession (for details click here) and so when I had a short bit of time I decided to listen to this one.

I have to admit that while I thought this was an enjoyable fairy-tale retelling, I am not sure if I would listen to this again.  It does have the beautiful imagery inherent in Gaiman’s works.  I loved the sleeping masses that seemed almost zombie-like in their shuffling rambles.  I loved the idea of everything being covered in spider silk and spiders.  I loved the tangles of vines blocking the castle.  I loved the strong women present within.  The ending was wonderful.  The book just didn’t catapult me into another time and space.  I wasn’t sure if that was just because I was missing out on the illustrations.

I do remember there being a bit of a controversy when this came out due to one of Chris Riddell’s illustrations showing a woman kissing a woman (eek!?!).  Even that kiss is more than it seems when taken in context with the story.

I did look up some of the illustrations online after listening to the story and found them to be compelling.  The “dreaded” kiss one was achingly beautiful.  In fact there is a lovely article in the Guardian in which Chris Riddell gives insight into the images he created for the book.  I recommend this.  So yes while the images were wonderful and magical in their own way, I still wasn’t mesmerized by them.  So while I am glad to have listened to this, I am not sad that I don’t own a copy of me own.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neil Gaiman – Author

To buy the book go to:

the sleeper and the spindle – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

Broadside No. 11

fortunately, the milk (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

The Captain’s Log – zoo city (Lauren Beukes)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This be one of me reads in me May BookBum Club Challenge where the theme be “around the world: a book by an author who is from another country.”  This author be from South Africa.  I was reminded of this book’s existence from me recent look at me NetGalley Rejections – Part Two.  I had requested it back in the day and was denied.  So what better time to read it then for this challenge?

The blurb starts with “Zinzi has a sloth on her back.”  A women who is bonded with a sloth?  Ummm yes!  So this is a fantasy book with a gritty atmosphere, awesome protagonist, and lyrical writing.  It also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel back in 2011.

The magic in this world is weird and awesome.  So basically, if ye commit a crime then ye be bonded with an animal familiar.  If yer animal dies then ye get dragged to the Underworld i.e. hell.  So of course the people who have these animals are at the bottom of the social ladder and be pariahs.  Because obviously if ye have an animal it is proof that ye be bad.  But a positive to yer animal is that ye be granted a magical power.  There is no rhyme or reason to what animal or power a person gets.  Zinzi has a sloth and the ability to find lost things – keys, wallets, people.  It is her ability to find people that causes her so much grief in this story.

Zinzi doesn’t normally do missing person cases because of the complications involved.  But her debt to her ex-drug dealers is skyrocketing, she hates being a part of the 419 scams they give her, and this might be her ticket out of debt and into more freedom.  I have to admit that I adored both Zinzi and her Sloth companion.  Yes Zinzi made mistakes.  But I couldn’t help but root for her anyway.

Zinzi has to find the missing person while dodging murder charges, finding clues, and trying to survive in the slum.  For me the unique world-building and characterizations are what made the novel.  The plot was okay but had some holes, some unanswered questions, some predictable plot twists, and a less-than satisfactory ending.  But I adored Zinzi and the world the author created.  I believe this be a stand-alone but I wouldn’t mind more stories set in this world.  And I do believe I love the author’s writing style enough to give another novel of hers a try.

Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to read this delightful “around the world” novel.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.

Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.

Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Lauren Beukes – Author

To buy the book go to:

zoo city – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

April 2018 – “Short and sweet – read a book that’s under 200 pages!”

Second Reflections – alanna: the first adventure (Tamora Pierce)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

alanna: the first adventure (Tamora Pierce)

Now I had touched upon this novel and the author in me previous log post, Broadside No. 4.  I adore Tamora Pierce and have read over 25 of her books.  I had a hankering for a feel-good favourite and so I listened to this one in audiobook format narrated by actress Trini Alvarado.  I have to admit that when I listened to this, I didn’t recognize the narrator’s name.  But I did enjoy her reading.

I honestly couldn’t say how long it has been since I re-read this book.  Over the years I tended to reread the Immortals series and the Protector of the Small series most often.  And then of course read each new Tortall book as they were published.

So the first thing I realized upon listening was that I had really squashed the details of the books together overall.  I honestly forgot how young Alanna is when the first book starts.  I also forget how much bullying there is and how Alanna chooses to deal with it on her own and not ask for help.  Even though people want to help her.  As a younger reader that made sense to me.  Now I look back and find disgruntlement in how it’s handled.

But ultimately listening to this brought back me sense of love for Alanna and the world that Tamora created.  I like that important issues like puberty and menstruation are discussed in this book.  I love that Alanna is strong, intelligent, determined, and fierce.  I love that girls can be the heroes.  I love magic and nobility and friendship and fun.  So basically I am so glad to have revisited Alanna in her first adventure and will likely listen to the remaining three stories some time soon.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Tamora Pierce – Author

To buy the book go to:

alanna: the first adventure – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

 Broadside No. 4

Off the Charts – dragon teeth (Michael Crichton)

Ahoy there 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.  Here is a very fun historical fiction:

dragon teeth (Michael Crichton)

So I have gushed about me love of this author before in me Broadside No. 7.  I first heard about this particular novel while researching for that post back in October 2016.  This book was discovered by Crichton’s wife in his archives and published post-humously in 2017.  Most readers likely know of Crichton from his dinosaur books.  Well this one has dinosaurs too!  Just not in the way ye might think.

Set in 1876, this novel showcases the real-life rivalry of two fossil hunters in the Wild West.  Yes cutthroat dinosaur hunters.  Their names were Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.  Their rivalry is known as the “Bone Wars.”

The story is told through the eyes of fictional student, William Johnson, who ends up on an expedition because of a bet.  He gets way more than he bargained for when he is immersed in the rivalry of the two scientists.  The hatred of the two men, the backdrop of the Sioux Wars, and William’s personal growth make for a very engaging novel.

Though the history is condensed and partially changed for the purposes of the story, the novel does a fantastic job of having exciting action while also showcasing the changing times.  There are the Native Americans in the horrifying process of losing their land, the “settlers” trying to get ahead and just survive, political machinations of war, new technology, discussions of evolution, etc. mixed in with gunfights and some famous folk.  As always, I love a book that makes me think and then due further research after reading.  I read more about General Custer, the Sioux Wars, the Bone Wars, and two fossil hunters themselves.

If ye love Crichton’s previous works then I suggest ye pick up this western served with a side of paleontology.  I very much enjoyed it.  Arrrr!

Side note: I listened to the audio book and thought Scott Brick did an excellent job!

The author’s website has this to say about the novel (part redacted for spoilers):

Michael Crichton’s recently discovered novel—an adventure set in the Wild West during the golden age of fossil hunting.

The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.

Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Michael Crichton – Author

To buy the novel go to:

dragon teeth – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

Broadside No. 7

Shiver Me Timbers! NetGalley Rejections! Part Two

Ahoy there me mateys!  Me blog turned 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.  When I originally tallied that number was 44 but has since increased to 45.  Well me scalawags, here be Part Two of explorin’ the rejections and seeing what me thoughts be all these days later.  This post be surveying rejections 6 through 10.  Hope ye like it.  If not sod off cause I be enjoying meself . . .

Side note: all book titles link to Goodreads.

  1. a shadow bright and burning (Jessica Cluess) – Well mateys, I know why this book be on me radar.  The tagline was “I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I ?”  Ambivalent female savior of the world?  Awesome looking cover.  Yes?  Unfortunately, looking at the reviews of me crew, it seems to be not well loved.  So, no.  Off the ports for plunder list!
  2. wolf by wolf (Ryan Graudin) – Ummm, another awesome cover and an WWII alternate history with a female protagonist.  Yes, this was a sad rejection.  However in retrospect, it was okay not to be approved.  The duology is complete and I haven’t been in the mood to read this yet.  But it has good reviews from the crew and I still want to read it at some point.
  3. fool’s gold – the dragon lords book 1 (Jon Hollins) – Okay so there be dragons and it was described as “Guardians of the Galaxy planning a heist on Smaug’s gold.”  Obviously I wanted to read this at the time.  But there is only one review from me crew member and she wasn’t thrilled with it.  Plus it is currently a three book series.  I don’t need to start any new series.  Off me list!
  4. zoo city (Lauren Beukes) – I haven’t read this one yet but the blurb says “Zinzi has a Sloth on her back . . .”  Arrrr!!  I think I will be reading this is month as part of The BookBum Club theme. 
  5. the wildings (Nilanjana Roy) – okay so this reminded me of watership down with cats instead of rabbits and is set in India.  This is not a high priority but it is short and still might be fun.  So it stays on me list.

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

3 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 did the pirate not learn to bowl?
A: Because he had a severe hook.

Hardy har har!

x The Captain

Previous Log Entries for this Series

Shiver me Timbers! – NetGalley Rejections – Part One