On the Horizon – select (Marit Weisenberg)

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

select (Marit Weisenberg)

Title: select

Author: Marit Weisenberg

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

Publication Date: October 3, 2017 (hardcover/e-book)

ISBN: 9781580898065

Source: NetGalley

This was a book I stumbled across that had a fascinating premise and I was excited to have me wish granted.  A group of biologically different humans lives in Austin, TX.  Julia, is one of these “select” people but has always had trouble fitting in.  Forced to keep a low profile and told to hide her gifts, she makes a mistake and finds herself forced to go to ::gasp:: a public high school with “normal” humans.  What will she do?

Apparently she will have insta-lust and waffle a lot.  Now this was a fast read and only took a couple of hours.  I did finish it, which was good.  But seriously for a group of special people trying to hide their gifts, they seem to go out of their way to flaunt themselves.  The leader (Julia’s dad) is a billionaire investor.  The whole group lives in mansions, wears designer clothes, and drives expensive cars.  I have known teens who drive BMWs and such.  They do NOT blend.

The other kids in the “select” group are daredevils and troublemakers and yet none of them have ever been caught or truly punished.  Mommy and Daddy just get the lawyers to bail them out.  So the premise that Julia blows their cover and has to be punished seemed unbelievable.  And Julia being forced to go to public school for punishment did not lead to anything other than fodder for the insta-love relationship.  Julia skates through school with no real consequences for anything really.  Though she learns to control her powers by using them in stupid ways.  Bland.

The relationship itself was kinda creepy and self-serving, especially in the beginning.  Julia and John have instant chemistry but her method of learning about him is to read his mind without permission and then use that knowledge to encourage him.  Just because she is bored.  I would rather they had a better relationship than one built on lies and some flashes of exposed leg.  Oh add in some non-appealing pseudo love triangle junk and shake not stir.

Even the powers of Julia and the “select” left something to be desired.  Instead of rooting for them, all of the people in her family group felt like a cult.  The powers, like telekinesis or enhanced stamina, were barely used at all and when they were, it felt more like whiny magic people throwing temper tantrums.  If that is what it meant to be one of the “select” then I will gladly pass.

I would have loved for this to have been a deeper look into different branches of human evolution living alongside each other.  I would have loved the “select” to have used their intelligence and powers for something other than money and solitude.  I would have loved for all of the characters to have more depth.  I would have loved for Julia’s golden cage to have actually been appealing so that she had a better reason for her inner conflict.

Overall the premise did not live up to its promise.  Sigh.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Charlesbridge Teen!

Side note: Some mateys disagree with me.  Check out this review by the leisure diaries!

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

To visit the author’s Facebook page go to:

Marit Weisenberg – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

select – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – missing (Kelley Armstrong)

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

missing (Kelley Armstrong)

Title: missing

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House Children’s Crown Books for Young Readers

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

ISBN:     978-0399550324

Source:  NetGalley

So me mateys, I continue with me Kelley Armstrong obsession and this be her latest offering.  It is not me favorite of her novels (as I prefer her fantasy or adult thrillers) but this was a quick and fun read.

The story follows Winter Crane who lives in a small poverty stricken town in Kentucky.  Like most young residents of the town, she has one hope – to graduate high school and escape to the big city.  Just like her big sister  and best friend did.  Except Winter can’t seem to get a hold of either of them.

Due to an abusive home life, she tends to take care of herself.  Think hunting and trapping and shack in the woods.  One day in the woods, Winter rescues a young guy in trouble who happens to be looking for Winter’s best friend – the same friend that Winter has been unable to reach.  In trying to figure out the whereabouts of her missing friend, Winter begins to think that not everyone in town made it to the big city.  Can she solve the mystery before anyone else goes missing?

One of the “problems” I had with the novel was the setting.  In me vagabond nature, I once lived in a small, one street town in Kentucky.  The author does try to address the stereotypes and challenge them.  However, there were inclusions of many small town stereotypes like an idiot pointless sheriff, using food stamps as currency, moonshine stills, and old mountain folk with no running water or electricity.  I couldn’t tell if some of these facts were trying to be based in reality or just plot points to forward the story.

Two less then stellar impressions were of some of the twists towards the end of the novel.  I kinda felt like I was reading a V.C. Andrews melodrama in parts.  And I wasn’t a huge fan of those books even back in the day.  Also the way Winter puts another person’s wishes about reconciliation with her abuser ahead of her own preferences made me cringe.

But these issues were very minor for me overall concerning me enjoyment.  I still found the author’s writing, characters, and story to be engaging.  I read this book in one quick session.  While I don’t think this will ever be a re-read for me, it was certainly entertaining if taken with a grain of salt.  I very much look forward to Kelley Armstrong’s next novel.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House/Crown Books!

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

Winter Crane has exactly one thing to look forward to in Reeve’s End: leaving it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the forest. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found a boy–a stranger–left for dead.

But now he’s gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left Reeve’s End at all? What if they’re all missing?

To visit the author’s website and blog go to:

Kelley Armstrong – Author

To buy the novel visit:

missing – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

sea of shadows- book one (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

empires of the night -book two (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

forest of ruin – book three (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

the masked truth (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Thriller)

city of the lost – book one (Off the Charts – Thriller/Crime Novel)

a darkness absolute – book two (On the Horizon & Off the Charts – Thriller/Crime Novel)

On the Horizon – avengers of the moon (Allen Steele)

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

avengers of the moon (Allen Steele)

Title: avengers of the moon

Author: Allen Steele

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

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

ISBN: 9780765382184

Source: NetGalley

It was the amazing old-fashioned looking cover that initially drew me eye.

Obviously sci-fi.  Retro look.  Had to check it out.  This is the story of a human guy named Curtis who lives on Earth’s moon and was raised by an unlikely trio – a robot, an android, and a disembodied brain in a drone.  Once he is grown, he finally learns the secret of who murdered his parents and sets out to get revenge.

Now the author hearkens back to the day of sci-fi pulp with modern sensibilities.  I have to admit that me knowledge of what constituted pulp was very small and practically non-existent.  What I did know was blatantly stereotypical and not worth mentioning here.  Oh and I didn’t even really understand what this novel was based on.  But the concept was fascinating and I was excited to give it a whirl.

This was fun.  The main draw for me was of course the characters.  Curt, a.k.a. Captain Future, was intelligent, loyal, honorable and a little bumbling.  Ye can’t help but like him.  His guardians were super awesome as well.  The drone holds the brain of a scientist who was friends with Curt’s parents.  He is the father-figure and defacto leader.  The smart-talking android, Otho, and the higher-than-average intelligent robot, Gage, are his friends and some-time teachers.  And then there is the smart cute girl-cop who they meet along the way.  All of them quirky in their own rights and all of them lovely to get to know.  Add in space pets and what more could ye ask for?

The plot was a little predictable but not overly so.  It wasn’t super fast paced but proceeded well.  The first part was seemingly geared to set up the world and characters and the second part to really advance the story.  The ending whizzed by.  I enjoyed the world building and the use of technology.  It was silly and dare I say slightly cheesy but so entertaining.

If this is what pulp is now . . . give me some more please.

Also I loved the author’s afterword where he explained how he was influenced to write the story.  In 1969 he read a work featuring Captain Future that was originally written in 1942.  This led me down the rabbit’s hole into the history of science fiction pulp magazines and the list of the most popular pulp writers of the various decades.  That was also enjoyable.  I didn’t even know there were that many sci-fi magazines around.

Wondering what Captain Future might look like?

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

Netgalley has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Allen Steele – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

avengers of the moon – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Please note all book covers are from Goodreads.

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

On the Horizon – blacksouls (Nicole Castroman)

Hearty har har me mateys!  Time to hear about a fellow grand and glorious sea dog . . .

blacksouls (Nicole Castroman)

Title: blacksouls

Author: Nicole Castroman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Publication Date: April 11, 2017 (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781481491051

Source: NetGalley

If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, blackhearts, 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 . . .

So I am assuming most of me readers have heard of the fearsome Blackbeard who sailed the waters of the West Indies on the Queen Anne’s Revenge.  The first book sets up the “true” story of how Anne, a half West Indies / half English daughter of a respected merchant and the young Blackbeard (known at the time as Edward Drummond) meet and fall in love.

The second novel continues their story outside of Bristol, England and heads seaward to the Caribbean, mate!  While I loved the first book and it’s forays into Blackbeard’s beginnings and how some of the myths surrounding him started, not much of it involved the sea.  It was more of the story of how Blackbeard ending up having to go to the Caribbean.

This novel begins with Anne on the sea dealing with a dead man and continued to be a non-stop rollickin’ adventure.  I devoured this in one sitting and loved every moment.  From sea battles, to political intrigue, pirate code, treachery, and swashbucklin’, I found this to be the real pirate tale that I be cravin’.  Arrrrr!

Both Anne and Blackbeard continue to be fun characters to follow.  Feisty, spunky Anne be me favorite in particular.  Add in excellent friendships, other pirates, and what life was like in Nassau, and I be hooked.

The author continued her entertaining portrayal of what Blackbeard’s life could have been like and how he turned “pirate” so to speak.  I mean maybe it happened this way . . . who can say.  Me mateys should definitely read this.

Side note: This was the author’s second novel.  Still an excellent taste in choice of subject matter.  Brilliant job.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing!

The author’s website says this about the novel:

Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.

Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Nicole Castroman – Author

To buy this wonderful yarn visit:

blacksouls – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the sieve (C.A. Caskabel)

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

the sieve (C.A. Caskabel)

Title: the sieve

Author: C.A. Caskabel

Publisher: AuthorBuzz

Publication Date: September 13, 2016 (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781533476784

Source: NetGalley

This was one of those fantasy novels where the cover caught me eye:

Not only was the face on the cover odd but the “Drakon” made me wonder if there were dragons in it.  I have a soft spot for dragons.  The synopsis sounded interesting so I requested it.  Of course by the time I read the book I had forgotten what it was about.  I actually think that contributed to me enjoyment of the story.

The story is of a “hero” Da-Ren who has fled to a monastery asking for redemption for his wife and daughter.  The monks there require that he tell his story in detail and assign a young monk to transcribe the tale.  The author has chosen to split this epic fantasy in four parts.  This novel was part one and deals with Da-Ren’s training in the Sieve.

I enjoyed this setup from the monk’s point of view.  We approach Da-Ren’s story from the end point knowing that he has been labeled the “First Blade of the Devil.”  The monk’s insight into Da-Ren’s character set the tone for the reader learning Da-Ren’s tale.  While most of the story is told from Da-Ren’s point of view, the author does returns to the monk’s viewpoint.  I didn’t always enjoy the interruption.

The Sieve is a coming-of-age trial for children of the tribe.  Da-Ren is an orphan raised in the dregs of society.  It is a warrior based society where both men and woman can have high roles if they earn it.  The spiritual side of the tribe is controlled by women who are witches (though men play a part as well).  I enjoyed that there were some strong female characters.  Da-Ren being an orphan, in this culture meaning his mother has died, is placed outside the usual structures.  He is uneducated, mistreated, and considered worthless to the tribe.

I found Da-Ren to be a compelling character and narrator.  The society was rich with tradition and detail.  The myths in particular were compelling and enriched the narration.  The trial itself was very unusual in its composition.  I found this novel overall to be highly enjoyable and read it in one sitting.  While there were some inconsistancies in the story, I am not sure if they were part of the overall larger picture or just mistakes.  In any case, I thought it was a great introduction to a fun character and worldview and I certainly want to know what’s coming next.

So lastly . . .

Thank you AuthorBuzz!

Netgalley has this to say about the novel:

“I am here to redeem the lives of my wife and daughter. I’ve brought the offering.”

Da-Ren, an infidel barbarian, arrives at the Castlemonastery, his only offering a jar of honey. Baagh, the Cross Sorcerer, follows him there under orders of the Emperor, demanding from the monks to transcribe the warrior’s story.

Book I chronicles Da-Ren’s early years, growing up in a tribe of archer riders and pagan witches, camped north of the Blackvein River. He enters the Sieve, the forty-day initiation trial that determines the fate of every boy and girl. Many of his comrades will fall, the strong will join the warriors, and an elite few will be marked for leadership. Da-Ren learns to endure the elements, to obey the Truths, to keep standing when all hope is lost. He swallows the legends of the Ouna-Ma witches, learns to hate all other tribes, and conquers fear.

And yet there is one trial that will bring him to his knees. The Goddess’s favorite daughter. “Brown-haired, brown-eyed. Brown was the first color of the day.”

The journey begins for the man who will become the First Blade of the Devil.

To visit the author’s website go to:

C.A. Caskabel – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the sieve – 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