Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – jade city (Fonda Lee)

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

jade city (Fonda Lee)

Title: jade city

Author: Fonda Lee

Publisher: Orbit Books

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

ISBN: 978-0316440868

Source: NetGalley

 

Ken Lui recommended this book and when I read the description I just knew I had to read it.  His awesome blurb:

“Stylish and action-packed, full of ambitious families and guilt-ridden loves, Jade City is an epic drama reminiscent of the best classic Hong Kong gangster films but takes place in a fantasy metropolis so gritty and well-imagined that you’ll forget you’re reading a book.”

Me thoughts: awesome ideas.  awesome characters. made it to 50%.  bored.  never forgot I was reading a book.  sigh.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Orbit Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.
Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Fonda Lee – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

jade city – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Abandon Ship – the hundredth queen (Emily R. King)

Sadly me mateys, it is time to abandon ship!  I am so grumpy at this particular title.  Ye see in me head, this was supposed to be like the historical novel the twentieth wife with the added element of magic.  It wasn’t.  I only made it to 217 out of 287.  So close.  I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I should have been warned by the insta-lust or the treatment of women like property or the odd-seeming mixture of Indian and Chinese and other Asian cultures.  Or the non-explicit but present rape scenes involving concubines.  But well there was an author’s note claiming that though the religion was based on Sumerian deities, the book is not claiming to be based on any real place or time frame.  And I kept remembering good reviews for this one.

I wanted a good explanation for Kali’s magic skills and to watch her accomplish something with them.  I didn’t get any of that by page 217 and was so sick of the Emperor’s blatant evil and with the stupid to-the-death fighting tournament of the wives and concubines.  The rules didn’t really make sense.  I wish I had read some of the negative reviews of me crew and not wasted the time.  The only good thing is that I got this one from a local library and so didn’t waste money.  Sigh.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emily R. King – Author

To buy the book go:

the hundredth queen – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – equus (Rhonda Parrish)

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

equus (Rhonda Parrish)

Title: equus

Authors: Rhonda Parrish (Editor), J.G. Formato (Contributor), Diana Hurlburt (Contributor), Tamsin Showbrook (Contributor), Laura VanArendonk Baugh (Contributor), VF LeSann (Contributor), Dan Koboldt (Contributor), J.J. Roth (Contributor) , Susan MacGregor (Contributor), Pat Flewwelling  (Contributor), Angela Rega (Contributor), Michael Leonberger (Contributor), Sandra Wickham (Contributor), Stephanie A. Cain (Contributor), Cat McDonald (Contributor), Andrew Bourelle (Contributor), Chadwick Ginther (Contributor), K.T. Ivanrest (Contributor), Jane Yolen (Contributor), M.L.D. Curelas (Contributor)

Publisher: World Weaver Press

Publication Date: July 18, 2017 (paperback and e-book)

ISBN: 978-0998702209

Source: NetGalley

This was a short story collection that I requested because it was about me first love of ponies before the sea stole me heart.  And it had a story by Jane Yolen.  I was super busy and needed something that I could easily pick up and put down at whim.  So I figured that this would float me boat.  Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time wanting to put this down and never pick it up again.  Out of the 19 stories, I ended up readin’ 7.  Actually I would have thought more given how long readin’ this felt but 7 is what came up when I just counted.  So here be me thoughts on the 7:

“stars, wings, and knitting things” (J.G. Formato)

The first story of this collection was certainly interesting.  I loved the main character, Annie.  She was quirky, funny, and not at all what I expected.  It involves knitting.  I loved her banter and her husband’s responses.  I thought this was a great first story if very unusual.  Can’t explain more than that.

“eel and bloom” (Diana Hurlburt)

This was overall by far me favorite story of the batch.  It was about a young girl named Bea who races limerunners (“native Floridian cousin to the Scottish kelpie” source) at the local racetrack after dark.  These horses have to be kept near water.  They also have to be kept with care because they are carnivorous, nasty, and kill.  Bea’s mother makes a bet with her daughter’s future as a consequence.  The outcome of the night’s race has never been more important.  The ending was perfect.  I would love to read future tales of Eel and Bea.

“a complete mare” (Tasmin Showbrook)

This is a story concerning half-breeds of Gods.  Odin especially.  I didn’t like this story at all.  The story was confusing and the main character, Verity, made some really bizarre and crazy choices.  I did like her transformations but it wasn’t enough to make me care about the characters or the world.  Also the story seemed like a chapter picked out of a larger narrative.

“neither snow, nor rain, nor heat-ray” (M.L.D. Curelas)

This was actually was even more confusing then the previous story as crazy as that seemed to me when reading.  This story takes place in London in 1900 five days after the alien invasion.  The aliens are these weird tripods.  There is a Moreauvian named Fletcher with special powers.  I didn’t understand where these people came from.  I didn’t understand what happened at the end and what was learned.  I did like the main character, Emma and her horse, Beezus.  But mostly I was just confused.  Again it seemed like it was a chapter pulled out of a larger work and it was poorer for it.

“rue the day” (Laura VanArendonk Baugh)

This was an amazing concept, characters, world, and plot at first.  This deals with war bands that fight with unicorns in a medieval like setting.  I adored Galyne and her unicorn Nova.  This was exactly fitting me mood and I was reading with pure delight.  Then came the plot twist and it soured.  It involves a trigger for many people and I was so sad that the author chose to take it there.  I thought good points were made in the circumstances that were presented and I even thought the author handled the conclusions well.  However, I would have preferred a very different direction.  In fact I would love this story to be expanded so I can get more of Galyne and the world.  Mixed feelings on this one but disappointment lingers.

“riders in the sky” (V.F. LeSann)

This story felt like a western wrapped up with ghosts and magic horses.  I loved the world and the main characters of the Rider and her horse, Peregrine.  This was an engaging story but overall seemed like we are missing too much backstory.  The story did have a clear beginning and ending but overall there were just too many unanswered questions.  Highly engaging though.

“a glory of unicorns” (Jane Yolen)

This was the reason I picked up this book and then I read it and was sad.  It’s a very short poem and not really a story at all.  I didn’t hate the poem.  I just wanted something along the lines of “a plague of unicorns” which I reviewed here.

So I loved one, partially liked three, hated two, and thought one was a tease.  Ultimately many of the stories felt incomplete and unsatisfactorily.  I am glad I read it for the parts I liked but when I began reading the next story, I realized I didn’t want to spend more time reading it.  I am not sure I will ever finish it.  For me it was a mixed bag but perhaps ye will like it more.  All I know is that I am glad I picked it up because of the joy that was reading about Eel and Bea.

 

So lastly . . .

Thank you World Weaver Press!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki’s descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

To buy the novel visit:

equus – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandon Ship – Stars are Legion (Kameron Hurley)

It is time to abandon ship, me mateys!  I made it to the 25.7% through the novel before I had to give up.  I believe this author is just not for me.  I previously tried reading her fantasy book, the mirror empire.  In that novel, I found the concepts to be interesting, the world building to be fascinating, and most of the characters to be written well.  Yet somehow the plot failed me.  I am not sure if the plot was just too slow or the descriptions were overdrawn but I abandoned it.  Yet Hurley’s writing was good enough that when I heard she had a new sci-fi novel coming out, I thought I would give it a shot.  I felt the same way about the stars are legion as I did about the fantasy book.

I actually thought the plot was an awesome set-up.  Zan is a character who wakes up not remembering her past but is told she keeps being reanimated to help save the world.  She has failed all the previous times but perhaps this time will be different.  Zan is kick-ass, resourceful, and intelligent.  She finds herself performing tasks like fighting or repairing spacecraft with little effort but no memory of having learned how.  Through the snippets of memory that Zan does begin to retrieve, it is evident that complex politics and plots are unfolding.

Oh and this book is completely women dominated.  In fact, I don’t believe I read a single mention of a male at all.  So that was kinda cool.  But again the plot just failed me.  The writing and characterization were intriguing.  But after yet another description of one of the living ships that Zan visits, I was done.  I wanted more fighting and most of all more of Zan’s discoveries about herself.  I wanted more interpersonal relationships.  But perhaps ye will find this author to yer taste.  Lots of other people seem to as it has a 3.8 Goodreads rating and a 4 star Amazon rating.  I appear to be in the minority again and shall not be reading another book by this author anytime soon.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution.  As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.

Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Kameron Hurley – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the stars are legion – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandon Ship – the pygmy dragon (Marc Secchia)

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!  I am abandoning more books this year then usual.  Sad.  Perhaps that is because I am trying new things.  In this case, this involved an old love – dragons!  By all rights I should have loved this book.  And I did sort of like it . . . up to a point.

I made it to the 63% mark before calling it quits.  The novel is split into two parts – before dragons and after dragons.  This is the story of a pygmy girl named Pip who is captured from her island and taken to be an exhibit in a zoo.  I absolutely loved the majority of the section in the zoo.  While in the zoo she makes friends with the creatures in her enclosure.  Her friendship with Hunagu was the highlight.  I loved Pip’s tenacity, intelligence, loyalty, and grit.  Her growth was lovely to watch.  She is small but fierce like me!  Arrrrr!

The problem occurs when the dragons enter the story.  I know crazy right?  I adore dragons but from the point of Pip’s leaving the zoo, the story started to go downhill for me.  I believe some of this is due to the structure of the novel.  The zoo is a small world where the scenery doesn’t really change so all of the focus was on the characters and their relationships.  I loved this character-driven section.

When Pip leaves the zoo, it is to enter the wider world.  The focus on character relationships is mostly removed and the story shifts to the overall arcing politics of the world which I simply didn’t care for.

Pip ends up in dragon school and discovers her own nature.  Hunagu disappears from huge parts of the story.  We don’t even get to delve in the nitty-gritty of the school.  It almost felt like it turned into a different book altogether at this point.  While I love dragons, I didn’t love the dragons in this book or the dragon culture.  Ah that’s saying something.  So I stopped there.

Side note: The prologue of this novel was not good at all and felt kinda horrible with cliches of jungle people and Pygmies from Australia in particular.  I should have stopped there maybe but I wanted to see how the dragons were displayed.  Sigh.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Yesterday, a Dragon kidnapped me from my cage in a zoo.

Stolen from her jungle home and sold to a zookeeper, Pip knows only a world behind bars, a world in which a Pygmy warrior and her giant ape friends are a zoo attraction. She dreams of being Human. She dreams of escaping to the world outside her cage.

Then, the Dragon Zardon kidnaps her into a new life. Pip rides Dragonback across the Island-World to her new school – a school inside a volcano. A school where Humans learn to be Dragon Riders. But this is only a foretaste of her magical destiny, for the Dragon Assassins are coming. They have floated an Island across the Rift and their aim is nothing less than the massacre of all Dragons.

Now, the courage of the smallest will be tested to the utmost. For Pip is the Pygmy Dragon, and this is her tale.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Marc Secchia – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the pygmy dragon – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandon Ship – we are legion we are bob (Dennis E. Taylor)

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!  This one was recommended by me first mate because he loved it.  Of course he did warn me that there was a 50/50 shot that I wouldn’t like it.

I made it to the 53% mark before calling it quits.  To be fair the beginning of the novel was wonderful.  This is the story of a dude named Bob who signs up for a cryogenics program, dies, and wakes up in the future as an artificial intelligence computer program.

The circumstances that Bob finds himself in, the politics of the world, how Bob deals with it, and the beginning of Bob’s exploration of the universe were delightful.  Bob is a bit of a nerd to put it mildly.  His quirky personality made the beginning of the novel fly by.

The side characters like Bob’s AI digital personal assistant, Guppy and the other “Bobs” are humorous.  There are deeper concepts woven throughout concerning identity, personality, technology, and space exploration.  The mix of cool technology and the silliness of Bob were wonderful.

The problem for me was that eventually, it was less about Bob exploring his new roles in life and more about determining the future.  I got bored.  There are only so many descriptions of new planets, mining, and such that I could take.  It began to feel repetitive.  There began to be gaps in time where we skipped the process of Bob figuring things out and jumped to the problem having being mostly solved.  I get that Bob’s AI is way beyond me brain skills but I just wasn’t absorbed in the story.  So I gave up.  Of course the first mate disagrees with me . . .

From the First Mate:

One of my absolute favorite “cancelled too soon” t.v. series was a show from 1999 called “Now and Again.” The premise of the show was that an ad executive is accidentally killed in the subway, his brain is stolen by the government, and then a scientist puts that brain into an artificial body for use as a spy/assassin/whatever.  What the scientist and the government didn’t count on was that a lazy ad executive’s personality is completely at odds with what they ultimately wanted to do with the artificial body.  And that conflict was really the driving force of the show.  The ad executive wanted to get away and be with his family again, while the scientist and the government wanted him to train and be a machine.

“We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” plays with the same trope (a normalish person is flung into a military science project against his will) but spins it in completely the opposite direction.  Bob is simply too competent a programmer to be bound by the controls that the military has placed on him, and much of the fun of the first half of the book is watching him figure out ways to do what he wants instead of what is expected of him.  And the first half of the book is fantastic.  Dennis E. Taylor covers some quality philosophical ground without dragging the plot to a halt.  We’re given an amazingly depressing in its plausibility backstory of the theocratic government of the future.  Some quality tension in a ticking clock scenario to get Bob in space. There’s even a very compelling discussion of why 3D printers ultimately take the sci-fi place of nanotechnology in this world.  And skiffy references galore.  So many fun references.

While I was reading the first half of the book, I was thinking “this is the most fun I’ve had with a sci-fi book in forever.” I was also pondering, “this is so fun, I wonder if I should recommend this to the Captain.”

Unfortunately, for me, the second half of the book doesn’t quite live up to the first half.  Which is a shame, as the second half of the book is where the “We Are Legion” aspect really takes off.  The conceptual aspect of a multiplicity of Bobs is very interesting and Taylor does a very good job of differentiating the various Bobs.  It’s just, well, the uses to which he puts them were less than interesting to me.  Indeed, one storyline that involves a primitive civilization seems to be little more than a way of keeping one of the Bobs sidelined from the other storylines.  Another gets bogged down in a very realistic bureaucratic negotiation situation that, while well written, didn’t make me smile in the ways that the first half of the book did.  Still enjoyable, just a step down from earlier.

I suppose the major difference between the first and second half of the book is that the second half didn’t feel as though Bob et. al. was staying ahead of anyone.  Sure, they planned and prepared for various scenarios (some which worked out and others which did not), but generally it was all very reactive.  The first half of the book was full of Bob outsmarting controls and limits using skills that the military didn’t expect him to have.  Perhaps that means that the first half is pure nerd fantasy, while the second half is more of a variant on hard sci-fi in space.

In some ways, “We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” feels like it fits in with the work of early Heinlein or Scalzi.  Sci-fi adventurism with some hard sci-fi trappings.  If that’s in your wheelhouse, it’s well worth a look.  Me?  I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel later this year.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off, and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad – very mad.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Dennis E. Taylor – Author

To buy the novel go to:

we are legion (we are bob) – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – gilded cage (Vic James)

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

gilded cage (Vic James)

Title: gilded cage

Author: Vic James

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine / Del Ray

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

ISBN: 9780425284155

Source: NetGalley

This novel sounded awesome.  It is a young adult dystopian with a magical twist.  I thought this novel would float me boat. But I just could not finish it and had to abandon ship at 70%.  Even though I did skip to the end and read the last chapters.  Why ye ask?  Well for a myriad of reasons (in no particular order):

  • The revolution – it just got boring.  This is what killed the book for me.  I thought how the revolution began was rather uninspiring and the “dangerous” actions of the rebels felt lackluster.  Spray painting walls.  Hanging banners.  I mean I know it was only the beginning of the rebellion but I didn’t care about it at all and didn’t even want to read about it anymore.
  • Secondary characters – while I actually liked the main characters of Luke, Abi, and was even okay with Silyen, I had problems with many of the secondary characters being rather blah.  Silyen’s brother Gavar and Jenner were very flat with seemingly little psychology into why they did what they did.  Gavar was boorish and angry.  Jenner was ineffectual and a hand-wringer.  Add in sadistic guards, the hot love interest for Luke called Angel (Ugh!), and the rebels who happen to have super skills and I just felt underwhelmed.
  • That being said, I did love the sibling relationships between Luke, Abi and Daisy.  Also loved the street urchin Renie.  She hit all me soft spots.
  • The parents – well the good news is that parents are present in a young adult novel.  Luke and Abi had loving wonderful parents.  Okay there.  But the bad thing is that after seemingly being involved even tangentially in the beginning, they just disappear from the plot.  Silyen’s parents are present but seemingly to only have the father and mother be two-dimensional power hungry bad guys.
  • Insta-love – Sigh.  Jenner and Abi.  Blech.
  • Politics – the political maneuvering, which normally I love, was just not appealing.  Somehow the problem seemed to be the set-up for how the world functioned.  It just didn’t quite make sense.
  • The magic – cool concepts but again didn’t seem to have a premise that made complete sense.  I will will chalk it up to being a first in a trilogy.  However I did want more of the magic that added to the usual dystopian flavor.
  • I don’t normally read the endings of books I abandon but I guess the good news about the writing is while I didn’t want to have to “live” through it, I did want to know how this one tied up.  That was just more proof that I am done with this series.

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.

If ye want to read another take on this novel of me crew member that loved it check out this review from Beth @ Reading Every Night.

If ye want to read a take on this novel of me crew member who is in the minority with me check out this review from Millie @ Milliebot Reads.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine / Del Ray!

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

NOT ALL ARE FREE   –   NOT ALL ARE EQUAL   –   NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge…

ABI is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, she faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty–but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution…

Abi’s brother LUKE is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, Luke makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts…

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate–or destroy?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Vic James – Author

To buy the novel go to:

gilded cage – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List