Dry Dock – conspiracy of ravens (Lila Bowen)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This novel is the second in The Shadow series, which is an awesome western fantasy.  If ye haven’t read the first book, wake of vultures, then ye might want to skip this post, grab yer horses, and ride out to the nearest dry goods store to get yerself a copy.  Worth the read.  If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril.

Well, Lila Bowen has done it again.  This book was a wonderful continuation of the story of Nettie/Rhett.  The first novel ended on a fantastic cliffhanger that made me anxious to get me hooks into the next book.

This novel deals with monsters, the building of the railroad, diverse characters, identity, and, above all, action.  Me thoughts in no particular order:

  • The setting: I continue to love the setting of the book with the Old West and monsters.  The book has such a western feel but with the addition of fantasy elements, historical blending, and a variety of myths, the traditional western is enhanced into something bold and exciting.
  • The main character:  I love that Rhett continues to explore his own nature.  One of the interesting concepts in the series is the use of names as part of identity.  Rhett started out as Nettie in book one and as circumstances change, takes on different names as a consequence of different situations.  Whether called the Shadow, Nat, Rhett, Nettie, etc.,  Rhett continues to understand a name is only part of who ye are and doesn’t have to define who ye are.  For me, watching Rhett grow as a person is really the heart of the story and it is fascinating.
  • The gang:  Rhett’s ragtag bunch of friends continues to amuse.  This book adds Earl, a Irish lad who can transform into a donkey.  The relationship between Earl and Rhett was both endearing and not at the same time.  I think it’s great that traveling companions can support each other and protect each other and yet can bicker at the same time.  Rhett is prickly.  So are the others in his group like Dan.  The distinct personalities of each of the characters is a highlight of the novel.
  • The magic:  The magic of the West continues to fascinate.  Rhett continues to explore his newfound powers with some entertaining side effects especially around eating.  The magic surrounding the railroad and the villain is particularly fun.  I want to spoil it but I won’t.
  • The writing:  I love the author’s writing style.  She deals with such complex topics that make ye think while also not impeding the plot.  In fact, such ideas enrich the diverse characterizations and make the characters seem all too real and yet bigger than life at the same time.  As flawed and downtrodden as the people are, there is also hope, tenacity, strength, and growth in their survival

While trying to write me thoughts in this log, I realized after an hour that I cannot state me beliefs on this novel better than the viewpoint of one of me crew, Drew @ the tattooed book geek, so as yer Captain, I order ye to check out that scoundrel’s review by clicking on the link that be his name.

Side note:  Apparently Lila Bowen is the pen name of Delilah S. Dawson and she has written lots of other things.  Cool huh?

Apparently there are two more books in The Shadow Series to come!  Hooray!!  I can’t wait.

So lastly . . .

Thank you NetGalley and Orbit Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Monsters, magic and the supernatural combine in this sequel to Wake of Vultures, in which a young woman must defeat the evil hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome made a leap — not knowing what she’d become. But now the destiny of the Shadow is calling.

A powerful alchemist is leaving a trail of dead across the prairie. And the Shadow must face the ultimate challenge: side with her friends and the badge on her chest or take off alone on the dangerous mission pulling her inexorably toward the fight of her life.

When it comes to monsters and men, the world isn’t black and white. What good are two wings and a gun when your enemy can command a conspiracy of ravens?

Conspiracy of Ravens continues the exciting journey begun in Wake of Vultures as Nettie Lonesome discovers that she, and the world, are more than what they seem.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Lila Bowen – Author

To buy the book go:

conspiracy of racens – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

This Captain received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley and Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. 


Dry Dock – rebel of the sands (Alwyn Hamilton)

Ahoy there me mateys!

rebel of the sands (Alwyn Hamilton)

This was a cute and fun debut novel.  I kinda want a Buraqi of my own if only they didn’t seem so magnificent running wild and free through the desert.

It was neither a quick read nor a major page turner for me overall.  It didn’t drag either though.  I did adore the main character, Amani, and her gun toting ways.  The relationship between Jin and Amani was enjoyable. The best part of the book for me was how they meet at the gun pit and what happens there, which of course happens at the very beginning of the book.  This book’s plot twist in the middle was completely a surprise though maybe it shouldn’t have been.  But the worldbuilding and overall character development just wasn’t strong enough for me.  I kept comparing it to a thousand nights and it kept coming up short.

That said, I liked the book and am glad I read it.  It was certainly lighter and fluffier than a lot of the other young adult books out there that’s for sure.  It is the first of a trilogy.  At this point, I believe I would read the second one though we shall see if that changes when the next one comes out . . .

Side note: this review is shorter than usual because follower blogger Liam @ heyashers! has a review that sums up my feelings about this book completely.  You can click on it here!

The author’s website says this about the novel:

Sixteen-year-old sharpshooter Amani Al’Hiza never doubted she’d escape the miserable one-horse desert town where she was born. Getting out had always been the plan. But she never figured she’d wind up running for her life—with a boy wanted for treason. When Amani enters a disastrous shooting contest against Jin, a rakish foreigner, she has no idea of his connection to the ongoing war between the ruthless Sultan of Miraji and his exiled son, the Rebel Prince. But soon the pair are fleeing across a desert crawling with vicious bandits, terrifying ghuls, and powerful djinni, and the Sultan’s army is getting closer every day. When Amani and Jin stumble across the ruins of a town destroyed by an unearthly fire, it’s clear the war’s stakes are higher than either of them realized. The Rebel Prince has a secret weapon, and now he wants Amani to join his revolution. All Amani ever wanted was to escape the desert and find adventure—but will the desert let her go?

To visit the author’s webpage visit:

Alwyn Hamilton – Author

To buy the novel go to:

rebel of the sands – Books

Dry Dock – silver on the road (Laura Anne Gilman)

Howdy there mateys!

silver on the road (Laura Anne Gilman)

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It is a fantasy western. I loved previous western fantasy books that I read like walk on earth a stranger, wake of vultures, and karen memory. But alas it is not for me. This book does not walk the plank simply because it was well written and had a great main character in Izzy. The concept was fascinating. I just couldn’t get into it and the reading was slow going for me. I had to trudge through it even though the novel is not long at 375 pages. I think overall the magic in the novel was just not explained well enough for me. Izzy’s magic seems to be intuitive but those helping her give cryptic hints and comments. While the magic may have a compelling underlying structure, I did not seem to get a glimpse of how it works at all. The author seems to suggest that Izzy’s magic and purpose have to be learned/earned this way but I was not satisfied by it. With such a great premise, I am saddened by my take on this novel but I have to admit I have no urge to see where the story goes next. That being said other folk seemed to have really liked this one, so I am not saying that readers should skip this one. It’s just this Captain did not enjoy this adventure enough.

The author has this to say about the novel:

East of the Mississippi, in the civilized world, dime store novels and gossips claim that the territory to the west is home to monsters and magic, wild Indians and disreputable whites. They claim that in order to survive, any who live there must make a deal with the Devil.

Some of this is true.

Isobel is a child of the Territory. She grew up in a saloon, trained to serve drinks and fold laundry, to observe the players at the card tables and report back to her boss on what she saw. But when she comes of age, she is given a choice….

“The right hand gathers and gives, visible to all. But the left hand, Isobel, the manu sinistra? It moves in shadows, unseen, unheard…. Until I deem it time for it to be seen and heard. And when it moves, its work cannot be undone. It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word.”

She looked up, away from his hands, and was caught by a gaze the burnt gold of the morning sun.

“I have been lacking a left hand for too long, now. Are you strong enough for that, Isobel nee Távora Lacoyo?”

Isobel chooses power. Chooses risk. Chooses to throw her cards in with the Devil, Master of the Territory.

But the costs of that power are greater than she ever imagined; the things she must do, the person she must become . . . And she needs to learn her new role quickly: pressures from both outside the Territory and within are growing, and the Devil’s Hand has work to do . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Laura Anne Gilman – Author

To buy the book visit:

silver on the road – Book

Dry Dock – walk on earth a stranger (Rae Carson)

Howdy there me mateys!  A new category for me readers – westerns with a fantasy or sci-fi twist!  For the first installment . . .

walk on earth a stranger (Rae Carson)

I have conquered yet another port I wanted to plunder. Arrrr! A western with magic. I happen to really love Rae Carson’s writing. I have previously read her other series, Fire and Thorns for my 3 Bells showcase. Prior posts about those books (in reading order) are the girl of fire and thorns (2011); the crown of embers (2012); and the bitter kingdom (2013). Apparently there are short stories set in this world which I should check out sometime. All three books are available in an omnibus edition and the short stories have been gathered in one collection.

In any case, this novel is the first in the new Gold Seer Saga which is currently set up to be a trilogy. Now as a younger human I played Oregon Trail and had a wonderful time hunting bison, running a bare bones wagon train, and trying to avoid dysentery killing off my wagon party. This novel was like getting an inside glimpse of traveling the trail with a strong dose of reality that makes it anything but a game. The trail was hard, people die, and hope for the future is hard to maintain. But hope does remain throughout this novel in the strength of the main character, Lee, the friendships she makes on the trail, and how people can come together to form a bond and work together to achieve their dreams. The characters in this book struggle and change as a consequence of their surroundings.

That being said, even with the dose of reality, there is magic in the novel in the way that Lee can literally sense gold. This trait sets up the plot of the novel and it’s used throughout. Even though Lee can do magic, in some senses the magic is like a curse instead of a blessing. I like the dichotomy of that in the novel.

When I read this book, I failed to know that it was a trilogy so I was confused that the journey was so drawn out. Silly me. I should have guessed by the map. And the structure of the story. And maybe if I would have read the back cover if the novel. I didn’t. However the somewhat cliff hanger ending made me sad and want more. Then I laughed when I found out it was book one of three. I want to read the next book in this series. I loved the character of Lee and her cohort of trail survivors and I must know what happens next.

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

A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? . . .

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rae Carson – Author

To buy this book visit:

walk on earth a stranger – Book