On the Horizon – the list (Patricia Forde)

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

the list (Patricia Forde)

Title: the list

Author: Patricia Forde

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

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

ISBN: 9781492647966

Source: NetGalley

This book caught me eye because of the premise and the comparisons to the giver and fahrenheit 451.  I loved the concept.  It takes place in post-apocalyptic America.  Climate change has caused the sea levels to rise.  The community of Ark is one of the last places where humans survive.

This village is controlled in every way by its founder, John Noa.  One of the ways in which the population is controlled is through language.  There are 700 sanctioned words on The List.  Because if ye can’t express a concept then ye can’t act on it, right?  The only people who have access to more words are the leaders and the local Wordsmith (kind of a living dictionary and the keeper of more complex words).  For example, if a person learns a trade, like carpentry, then that person is allowed to learn additional words (like 25 or so) relating specifically to that task.  Use words outside The List too often and face banishment or worse.

The story centers around Letta, the Wordsmith’s apprentice.  The master wordsmith goes off on an errand, leaving Letta in charge.  Circumstances ensue which cause Letta to confront everything she has ever believed to be true.

While the concept was fascinating, the execution did not, to me mind, do it justice.  It was a far cry from the two favorite books it had been compared to.  For one thing, the use of language by Letta just seemed too complex.  The List was hardly used at all in the author’s writing.  Letta’s thoughts involve words like cerulean, pineapple, etc. despite having never seen pictures.  How can you truly understand the words without a real frame of reference – especially with such a limited List to try and explain them.  It would have been more interesting to me if the entire beginning of the novel had been put together only using List and got more complicated as Letta’s understanding of Ark grew more complex.

Also the plot was sort of meandering.  Letta makes extremely stupid mistakes to set up future plot points.  For all of her learning, Letta just seemed helpless, unintelligent, and clueless.  There is a type of insta-love connection between her and the non-Ark boy she helps.  People sneak in and out of her house so easily that the guards are practically non-existent or just that plain dumb.  The flow of the story was just not to me taste.  The characters also seemed poorly developed and rather simplistic.  Overall I would like to see this concept tackled in another way.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!

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

Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Patricia Forde – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the list – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – age of swords (Michael J. Sullivan)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings.  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, age of myth, then ye might want to skip this post and go read the first book.  Worth the read.  If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

age of swords (Michael J. Sullivan)

Title: age of swords

Author: Michael J. Sullivan

Publisher: Del Ray

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

ISBN:     978-1101965368

Source: NetGalley

So I be lucky again!  Arrrr!  Ye see a ways back in time, I won me first ever book from Goodreads Giveways, which happened to be the first book in this series: age of myth.  It was also me first experience reading the works of Mr. Sullivan.  The novel was one of  the best books I read in 2016 and I adored it.  So then when I saw book two on NetGalley I requested it and the publisher said yes!  Arrrr!

The only problem was finding an uninterrupted day where I could lock meself in me cabin with the understanding that anyone who bothered me was going to be run through by me cutlass!  But of course being Captain, I recently had me heart’s desire and read this gem in one sitting.  It be first-rate.

The highlight fer me was how this story continued to portray strong female characters.  While there are side stories in this novel, the main action involved me favorite women from the first novel including, but not limited to, Suri, Persephone, Moya, Brin, Roan, and Arion.  In fact this group is a powerhouse of different strengths and talents who work together and trust each other.  Empowering and awesome.  Many of the men sit back on the sidelines arguing and accomplishing nothing.  Made me laugh.  Of course not all of the male characters are pointless.  We get to see me other male favorites like Raithe and Gifford as well.  There are a quite a few new characters introduced that I know I will enjoy discovering in later books.

The storytelling overall was full of action and the time spent reading whirled right by.  I was completely enthralled for 99.99% of the novel.  I perhaps even shed more than a few salty tears.  There were only a few quirks that made this novel slightly less fun than the first.

One was the point of view chapters of Mawyndule.  He is a hateful, spoiled, annoying brat.  While I understand his existence, his naivete and attitude made me sigh when I had to hear what was inside his head again.  I would love to make him walk the plank and then be eaten by treacherous sharks with the remainder of him sunk to the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker never to be heard from again.

The other minor problem was that a large portion of the book took place in what felt like the mines of Moria with the Balrog.  As I read that famous trilogy every year for 16 years, it took me a little bit to shake the sensation of deja vu.  I decided in me head that it was deliberate homage and got over it.  Besides even though it is an epic fantasy, the characters are me true joy and I loved watching the consequences of their choices whether it be heartbreak or growth.

This is not to say that the plot, politics, world building, magic, and other elements of the story don’t float me boat.  They did.  Plus the ending was delightfully foreshadowy.  I loved this novel and already know I want the other four.  The author suspects we might be able to get our hands on the rest of the series on an accelerated schedule.  Arrrr!

Side note: for an excellent breakdown of the different series by Michael Sullivan and his advice for reading same, check out this page on his website.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Del Ray!

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

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods? The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race With time running out, Persephone leads a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Michael J. Sullivan – Author

To buy the novel go to:

age of myth – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the fifth doll (Charlie N. Holmberg)

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

the fifth doll (Charlie N. Holmberg)

Title: the fifth doll

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Publisher: 47North (47North is the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror imprint of Amazon Publishing, the full-service publishing arm of Amazon)

Publication Date: July 25, 2017 (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781477806104

Source: NetGalley

So as usual the cover drew me in:

 

 

And the premise is quite fun.  A girl accidentally finds a room in a neighbor’s house that contains matryoshka (nesting) dolls.  The catch is that there is one painted to look like every villager.  Why is there a doll painted with her face?  This glimpse leads her to be drawn into the mystery of her neighbor Slava’s world.  He wants her to be the next caretaker of the dolls and their magic.  The catch is that for every one of her dolls that she opens, serious consequences occur that expose her to the truth she doesn’t know how to handle.

I liked the ideas in this book but unfortunately the writing does not do them justice.  The main character, Matrona, is 26 but acts like a very immature twelve year old.  She is more concerned with her worry over not being loved by her betrothed and going through with her arranged marriage then the problems of the village being controlled by Slava.  At the same time, she has a crush on another neighbor from a less prosperous family and waffles about that too.  Her naivete grew tiresome.

All of the characters seemed flat, Matrona included.  I understand magic is involved but everyone seemed like inhuman cardboard cutouts.  I would have liked full fleshed out people.

While the first two consequences of Matrona’s dolls were especially interesting, the plot was confusing overall.  There were periods of intense information dropping, especially in the beginning, and then other parts where nothing happened.  There are entire sections with Matrona wandering around the village waffling over her love life.  Her love interest falls in love with her in just a week.  Part of the action was delayed because there were 3 day gaps between opening the next doll.  The villain didn’t really do anything other than intimidate Matrona and disappears for entire sections of the book so that Matrona can do something to further the plot.

Then Matrona has a vision in Chapter 16 / 73% in and the book had a sharp decline that lasted through the end.  The explanations for the mystery of the dolls and Matrona’s decisions and methods in fighting back were so lackluster.  I was so close to the end at that point that I finished so I could see how the author chose to resolve the issues.  Again interesting concepts but poor execution.

I seem to be in the minority so far with this opinion so take it with a grain of sea salt.  If ye chose to read it, I hope ye like it far better than I.  I just know I won’t be readin’ another book by this author.

So lastly . . .

Thank you 47North!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Charlie N. Holmberg – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the fifth doll – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – no good deed (Kara Connolly)

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

no good deed (Kara Connolly)

Title: no good deed

Author: Kara Connolly

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Delacorte Press

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

ISBN: 9780385743938

Source: NetGalley

 

So mateys, why should ye check out this book?  Because it is a fun romp of a tale about time travel and a female Robin Hood!  Sign me up.  As usual the cover first drew me interest:

Kick-ass girl with bow?  Sign me up.  I also like the target vibe going on.  And I am so glad I read it.  It is light and silly and fun watching Ellie set the Robin Hood myth into action.  I thought she was a great character – spunky and intelligent.

The secondary characters of Sir Henry and Sir James were fun to read about also.  I enjoyed their animosity towards each other.  Another great character was the young boy, Much, who helpfully is related to practically everyone in Nottingham and surrounding environs.  He is also sweet and endearing.  Eleanor of Aquitane also makes an appearance too.

I had a few problems with the book that stemmed from the anachronistic elements of the story that the other characters seemed to just accept.  Ellie being a girl for one.  I suspended disbelief for this one.  Other things like sneakers and passports I had slightly more problems with.  But overall, once I stopped being so critical, I found even this silliness to be enjoyable.

Oh and also I learned an awesome fact from reading this book – where the word sheriff comes from – “shire-reeve”  Further research led me to this fact:  “The Anglo-Saxon word for chief was gerefa, later shortened to reeve. During the next two centuries, groups of hundreds banded together to form a new, higher unit of government called the shire. The shire was the forerunner of the modern county. Each shire had a chief (reeve) as well, and the more powerful official became known as a shire-reeve. The word shire-reeve became the modern English word sheriff – the chief of the county. The sheriff maintained law and order within his own county with the assistance of the citizens.” source

I have to admit that I kept picturing the sheriff in this novel to be Alan Rickman’s version in Robin Hood: Price of Thieves.  Because Alan Rickman makes everything better.  Anyways if ye want a quick paced retelling then give this one a try . . .

Side note:  The author has a fun post showing showing photos and telling stories from her trip to THE Nottingham.  Ye should check it out by clicking here.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House / Delacorte Books!

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

Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Kara Connolly – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

no good deed – 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

On the Horizon – bannerless (Carrie Vaughn)

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

bannerless (Carrie Vaughn)

Title: bannerless

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Publisher: John Joseph Adams / Mariner Books

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

ISBN: 978-0544947306

Source: NetGalley

I had previously read and enjoyed Carrie Vaughn’s young adult sci-fi novel, martians abroad.  When I saw that she had a dystopian murder mystery sci-fi coming out, I was excited to read it.  And it exceeded me expectations.

The story is set “after the fall” in the coastal United States.  The coast has flooded.  Cities have fallen.  The world is slowly rebuilding.  The novel follows Enid, a young Investigator who helps police the towns along the Coastal Road.  That job involves anything from helping people in the aftermath of storms, settling disputes, or in this case, investigating an extremely rare potential murder.

This book totally worked for me based on the strength of the world-building and Enid’s character.  It was a thrilling character study of one person living at the beginnings of a new era.  The people in Enid’s part of the world have been rebuilding through generations in an agrarian society where people live in structured households and must earn the right to bear children.  Going against the norms are frowned upon because no one wants to repeat the mistakes of the past.  When an outcast in another town is found dead, an investigation is requested.  Enid takes the lead on her first major case where the stakes keep getting higher.

Now the murder mystery was a fun background but is not the true point of the story.  This novel is really structured around Enid’s life both past and present.  This involves the fantastic use of flashbacks that help the reader understand some of the reasons Enid chooses to take the steps she does in the solving the crime.  Enid is inherently curious and wants to be helpful.  Because of the fall, society has lost so much knowledge.  While the rest of the people seem to be focused on the future, Enid ponders both the past and the present.  This is a dystopian with an optimistic outlook.  I would love to have Enid on me crew.

I enjoyed the glimpses into why the world fell, the societies that exist outside the coastal road, the seemingly realistic mix of old technologies and new, the strong place of women in society, and above all watching Enid’s journey.  I will certainly be reading more of this author’s work.

 

So lastly . . .

Thank you John Joseph Adams / Mariner Books!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Carrie Vaughn – Author

To buy the novel go to:

bannerless – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

martians abroad (On the Horizon – Young Adult Fantasy)

On the Horizon – lightning in the blood (Marie Brennan)

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

lightning in the blood (Marie Brennan)

Title: lightning in the blood

Author: Marie Brennan

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

Publication Date: April 25, 2017 (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-0765392015

Source: NetGalley

If ye haven’t read the first book in this series,  cold-forged flame, then ye might want to skip this post and go read me review for the first installment.  If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

Now I cannot say enough goodness about the first book.  I reread it in preparation for this second installment and enjoyed it just as much the second time around.  I adore Ree as a character and the world-building so very much.  I cannot believe I had to wait 268 days between the two, however it was worth the wait!

One of the awesome circumstances of the first story is that Ree cannot remember anything about herself, her nature, or even her name.  I am a sucker for that kinda thing.  By the end of story one, ye know her partial name and some of her nature but have way more questions than answers.  As does Ree.

I was so exited to see where she would go next.  It of course did not go anywhere that I expected!  This story takes place several years after the events in the first one.  While this episode has a lot less mystery than the first, I still found it engrossing and enthralling.  In this second installment, Ree meets another archon which sets off another mission fer Ree, answers some of her questions, and of course gives her so many more.  My favorite aspects are following Ree in her journey to reclaim parts of herself and her attempts to figure out what has been lost.  The glimpses ye do get are tantalizing.  It was also extremely nice to see Aadet again.  Oh and this cover is awesome:

Don’t ye want to read about giant black cats?  Ye know ye do.  And that is all I am going to say about this one cause it is short and awesome and ye should discover what happens fer yerself.  I want the third one!

Random fact about book two from the author’s website is this:

And you’ll see the Mayan calendrical system with a minor fictional paint job showing up in Lightning in the Blood because years ago I read about it for fun and wound up incorporating it into a story more or less wholesale, complete with fiddly little details about Year-Bearers.

I need to go off an’ do research bout Mayan calendrical systems now.  Go out and get the first episode if ye haven’t.  Read this one if ye have.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

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

Once, there was a call–a binding–and so, a woman appeared, present in body but absent in knowledge of her past self. Making the ultimate journey of rediscovery was not without its own pitfalls–or rewards–and now Ree, a roaming archon, spirit of legend and time and physically now bound to her current form, has yet to fully uncover her true identity.

Ree has spent her last innumerable seasons on the move–orbiting, in some sense, the lands of her only friend in this world, Aadet, who has become intricately involved in the new post-revolution politics of his people. Swinging back from the forests surrounding Solaike, Ree falls in with another wandering band, some Korenat refugees searching for their own protection on a trade route besieged with the fallout of the recent uprising. The Korenat’s plight might not have stricken Ree so deeply, but they are accompanied by their own archon, who seems to know much more about Ree’s own origins than she ever dared to hope.

Lushly woven against a foreign, and yet familiar, fantastical setting, this is the second epic adventure in Marie Brennan’s novella series with Tor.com. Only such an acclaimed and beloved fantasist could so deftly handle the intricacies of self and society, the struggle between reclaiming one’s own fate and suffering the ravages that time brings to every life.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Marie Brennan – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

lightning in the blood – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List