Ahoy there me mateys! I received this middle grade eArc from NetGalley in exchange for me honest review . . .
Well me scalawags, I always be ready for a sea yarn and this middle grade is packed with pirates, djinn, shapeshifters, an assassin spy, and other unsavory creatures. The highlight of the book be Cap’n Cinn who robs spices from the rich to give to the poor. Because eatin’ just hardtack be rough. I be hankerin’ for some of Cap’n Cinn’s lemon cake or hot chocolate. I very much enjoyed the idea of a world where spices are controlled by a guild.
In this adventure Young Max’s parents go missing and his search for them brings him into contact with Cap’n Cinn. This pirate is not an old bitter salty dog like me. Cap’n Cinn is trying to save the world and bring deliciousness to the masses. He won me over. Max is very naïve and silly but extremely good hearted. He likes to believe the best of everyone.
I do think the story will please its target audience. For this older reader, I felt there were too many characters, not enough world building, and a rather convoluted plot. But if the younger reader focuses on the pirates, shapeshifters, and Cap’n Cinn then this novel should float their boat. Arrr!
Onto the Parley . . .
- How did ye find this Captain and what made ye choose to send a parley communiqué?
I sailed the troublin’ waters o’ the world wide net, ‘n found a port that was friendly t’ pirates, rogues, ‘n other various ne’er do wells. I was searchin’ fer a ship t’ natter about me greatest loot, me book Max and the Spice Pirates.
- When did ye start scrawlin’ yarns?
In 2007 I quit me job fer some fairer seas, ‘n became a full time writer. I ‘ave written thirteen non-fiction books through traditional publishers. I wake up every mornin’ blessed I can follow me dream o’ bein’ a writer.
- How long did it take ye to write these yarns?
As a sprog, I loved readin’ pirate adventure tales ‘n swore that one day I would write one o’ me owns. I began Max and the Spice Thieves four years ago, ‘n now its ready fer others t’ enjoy.
- What was the hardest part of writing this yarn?
The hardest part o’ writin’ Max ‘n the Spice Thieves was learnin’ all the tricky waters o’ young adult books. I had written the book originally in third person point o’ view, but I had t’ switch t’ first person (Max’s point o’ view).
- What did ye enjoy most about writing this yarn?
I wrote Max and the Spice Thieves fer me son. He was sick in the hospital, ‘n I wanted t’ cheer ‘im up, so I wrote a chapter a day ‘n would read it t’ ‘im at night. Me son be the hero ‘n has magical powers. A year passed ‘n one day me son asked me where his book be, ‘n that he promised his crew hands at school a copy o’ the book. The best part o’ writin’ this book be the look on me son’s face when he saw the finished book in his hand.
- Why did ye choose to sail the self-publishin’ route?
I tried the traditional routes ‘n was most displeased wit’ wha’ I found. Me proud beauty decided t’ start a wee publishin’ durin’ the plague o’ 2020 ‘n she published Max and the Spice Thieves under the imprint Crumblebee Books. This book be me beauty’s maiden voyage ‘n so far it has been smooth waters.
- Are ye a full-time writer? If not, what be yer job that pays the bills?
When I am nah sailin’ the three seas ‘n fightin’ the spice guild or befriendin’ witch queens, I write other scallywags’s yarns. I am a journalist ‘n a ghostwrite fer all manner o’ lads ‘n lasses the world o’er.
- What be your ambitions for yer writin’ career and plans for the future?
Max and the Spice Thieves be the first book in the Secrets of the Twilight Djinn. The second book, Max and the Isle of Sanctus will launch this fall. Originally, I thought ‘twould be a trilogy, but as I finish book two, it has become obvious this will be much longer. I am also writin’ some short tales about me fav’rit pirate, Cap’n Cornelius Cinn.
- Do ye have any favorite words in the English language?
Some o’ me fav’rit words are nah proper fer print. I do like the word “brilliant”, as it can lift someone’s mood. Me mentor ‘n cap’n Pete Ballard, would always end his correspondence ‘n natters wit’ “Be Brilliant.” It always made me feel good ‘n able t’ deal wit’ whatever dark stormy waters might be headed me way.
- Do ye have any hated words in the English language?
I don’t like words meant t’ hurt another scallywag. I don’t like words that demean or marginalize others. I dislike words that are used as weapons.
- Name yer top five favorite authors.
Robert Lewis Stevenson, JRR Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Mercedes Lackey
- Name yer top three recent favorite reads.
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last by Wright Thompson
The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters by Keith Ammann
- What are yer other hobbies outside of writin’?
I play dungeons ‘n dragons wit’ me family ‘n hearties. I garden ‘n ‘ave a vineyard in me backyard. I also like t’ create ‘n paint miniatures.
- Who is yer most favorite pirate? (outside of this Captain of course!)
me fav’rit pirate, Cap’n Cornelius Cinn.
- What is yer favorite memory involving the sea?
I grew up in the Tampa Bay area, an area renowned fer pirates. I ‘ave many fond memories o’ the beach ‘n the sea. The memory that sticks out the most was walkin’ on the beach durin’ a full moon ‘n watchin’ a sea turtle lumber out o’ the surf ‘n lay her eggs.
- Have ye ever gone off the edge of the map? And if so, what happened?
Becomin’ an author was me journey off the map. Afore I was a writer I was a symphony musician ‘n I was a social worker. One day I decided that I wanted belay that all ‘n be an author. I asked me beauty if she would support me dream. She said she would, ‘n gave me thirty days t’ do it, or I’d ‘ave t’ walk the plank. I secured me first book contract, ‘n the rest be history.
So much thanks to Matey John for the glorious scroll exchanges, the chance to review his book, and this parley. Thus ends our parley an’ this adventure. I be sad that this adventure be over. But a new adventure can’t start until the last one ends. I do encourage the crew to take a journey to read the novel and share ye tales of the experience with yer Captain . . .
Goodreads has this to say about the first novel:
When his mother goes missing, Max Daybreaker’s world is turned upside down. Luckily, a crew of Spice Pirates, led by the mysterious Captain Cinn, help Max on his dangerous mission across the three seas.
Along the way, an unlikely alliance aids in his search—a teenage warrior queen, a three-eyed seer, and an assassin spy.
Their journey takes them through treacherous lands while facing shapeshifting bears, an ancient witch, harpies, and the nightmarish Djinn, who will stop at nothing to enslave the world.
With every new challenge, Max unlocks the secrets of his unsettling past. Powers awaken within, forcing him to question everything he knows.
Is Max who he thinks he is? Only time and destiny will tell…
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