The Captain’s Log – mechanica (Betsy Cornwell)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This book is a retelling of Cinderella where the main character is mechanically inclined.  There are magicical fae elements, steampunk elements, and classic fairytale elements.  Overall I thought this was a very entertaining read with more positives than negatives.

Our Cinderella is this version is Mechanica.  She is intelligent, hardworking, a voracious reader, and has big dreams for the future.  In particular I loved how the combination of magic and machinery is used to clean the house and deal with the demands of the evil stepmother and the “Steps.”  I also adored the tiny mechanical horse named Jules and the other mechanical creatures that are her friends.  The world-building was fun and the twisting of classical fairytale elements was lovely.

The introduction to the world through the middle of the novel were the best parts.  For me, the problems began when the love interest was introduced.  I mean of course he is the prince and the blurb makes it clear that the ending is not a fairytale romance.  But the setup for the story and Mechanica’s discovery of the workshop and inventions were the fun parts.  Mechanica’s conflict over her love interest and the “resolution” of her relationship problems were kinda irksome.  It was a rather odd version of a love triangle.  I didn’t hate the ending; I just wanted Mechanica’s relationships with her friends to have gone in a different direction.

That said I am glad I read it and I do believe at some point I will read the sequel if it arrives in a local library at whatever port I find meself in.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Betsy Cornwell – Author

To buy the book go to:

mechanica – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

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The Captain’s Log – iron shoes (J. Kathleen Cheney)

Ahoy there me mateys! It’s been the kinda times where me readin’ has to be done in fits and spurts.  So I decided to read this collection of stories in me spare moments.  First this cover caught me eye:

Then the blurb drew me in hook, line, and sinker.  For those new to me crew, before the sea called me name, I loved horses and horse stories.  Still have a soft spot in me salty heart fer ’em.  Not only do these stories have horses but they also have magic, legendary creatures, historical settings, and feisty female characters.  They all take place in and around Saratoga Springs in New York at the turn of the 20th century. The stories are interconnected and should, in me mind, be read in the order presented in this collection.  Plus the first story was Nebula Award Finalist in 2010 fer Best Novella.  Starts with a bang.

The first story was me favorite of the three.   Imogen lives at Hawk’s Folly Farm which she has inherited from her husband. She is in danger of losing the property unless her horse can win the Stakes.  Imogen has always had someone telling her how to behave and what to do.  And forcing her to hide her magic.  Things unravel when she gets upset.  She has a lot to be worried about.  This is a coming-of-age story with some romance thrown in.  I loved Imogen getting stronger within herself.  Also the secondary characters are fun.  I am not a huge romance fan but I have to say that this one made me happy and it was silly and amusing.  Also the use of pucas in this story rocked.  Don’t know what a puca is?  Just be surprised and enjoy.

The second story is a placeholder story that sets up the circumstances for the last one but it is still entertaining.  The third story has a new character named Lourdes, and I loved her too.  She is strong willed and principled and very different from Imogen.  Overall I found this collection to be the perfect read for the time that I had and me mood and inclination.  If ye like ponies, magic, romance, and quite a bit of fluff then ye might want to give this one a try.

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

Iron Shoes

Imogen Hawkes is running out of time. She must come up with enough money to prevent the bank from foreclosing on her farm. All her hopes are pinned on her horse winning the Special Stakes.

But things keep going wrong, and it’s soon clear someone is determined to stop her. As race day draws closer, Imogen finds unexpected sources of help…including the new stallion she’s purchased from Boston, who’s not at all what he seems.

Despite a life spent avoiding it, Imogen learns that magic may be her best ally….

Snow Comes to Hawk’s Folly:
Imogen has the life she’s always wanted. Her farm is thriving, as is her family. But a guest comes to the farm, bringing trouble in his wake. When Imogen’s son disappears, how far will she go to get him back? Is it magic? Or something more mundane? In her family, the mundane is rarely to blame…

Snowfall:
Lourdes Medina has left everything she knows. Following a vision in a dream, she’s gone north to Saratoga Springs to buy back the mare her brother sold out from under her. But the horse’s new owner, Finn, makes her an interesting offer in return for the horse. Against her better judgment, Lourdes becomes entangled in his family’s problems…and it seems she’s unwittingly gained an enemy, a woman who will go to any length to get the husband she wants.

To visit the author’s website go to:

J. Kathleen Cheney – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

iron shoes: three tales from hawk’s folly farm -Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – red sister (Mark Lawrence)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I continue me streak of awesome readin’.  While I was not granted an eArc, the library granted me a copy right at the perfect mood moment (Arrrr!).  However I get me treasure is okay by me.

Previously I had read some of the broken empire trilogy and wanted to read more of Mr. Lawrence’s work.  Then I found out he had written a book about an assassin nun.  Sign me up!

When we first meet our main character, Nona, she is eight years old and about to hang for a murder,  which she committed.  Abbess Glass, a nun from the Sisters of Sweet Mercy, intervenes and offers her a chance to survive if she trains at the convent.  What did Glass see in this girl to save her?

Nona is a fantastic character and no ordinary eight year old.  At times she seems almost a wise little adult and then something will happen that makes her seem very young indeed.  I loved her for her intelligence, her loyalty, her viewpoint of the world, and above all her ideas of friendship.  She certainly drives the novel but most of the secondary characters were wonderful as well.  Particular favorites included Hessa, Abbess Glass, Sister Apple and Arabella.

The book is fascinating.  As the author says on Goodreads, “almost all of the book happens within a 400 yard circle” at the convent where Nona is in school.  However there are a series of flashbacks where ye are granted glimpses of Nona’s background and how she ended up being condemned to the noose.  This book has prophecy, politics, magic, an awesome non-traditional school system, etc.  Yet the book scrambles the ideas around and I couldn’t help being foiled again and again in my figgerins about where the plot was going.  All I do know fer sure if that I want the next book!

Need more proof?  Check out these opinions from me crew:

this review by james @ youandibooks

this review by mogsy @ thebibliosanctum or

this review by drew @ thetattooedbookgeek

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Mark Lawrence – Author

To buy the book go to:

red sister -Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the wild robot (Peter Brown)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I was looking to read something short that fit me current mood and this book was found in the hold.  This is listed as a middle-grade but bah!  I don’t put age limits on things.

This is about a robot whose crate gets washed overboard from a cargo ship and she ends up on a deserted island.  Except the island isn’t actually deserted.  It is filled with local wildlife.  So the robot, Roz, has to to discover how to survive on the island, her purpose, and perhaps how she got there.

Though this book had a slow start, I soon grew to love Roz.  By the end of the story, I knew that I wanted to read the further adventures of this adorable robot.  I just loved the idea of a robot going “wild” and making friends with all of the animals.  Though the robot has some limitations due to programing, this does not stop her quest for growth and communication and companionship.  A quick and lovely read.  And the author’s illustrations were fun and perfect for the book.  Check it out.

If ye be like me (Arrrr!) and love the stories behind the stories then check out the author’s inspiration and ideas for the wild robot like this example of an early sketch for Roz (from the author’s website):

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

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings?

Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….

To visit the author’s website go to:

Peter Brown – Author & Illustrator

To buy the book go to:

the wild robot -Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – something from the nightside (Simon R. Green)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I was looking to read something short that fit me current mood and this book was found in the hold.  Now urban fantasy is not me go to genre but I had previously read some of the author’s Hawk and Fisher novels and enjoyed them so I gave this a shot.

At 230 pages and a couple of hours worth of reading, I found this to be a fun read.  It centers around John Taylor, a private eye, who is hired to find a rich woman’s missing daughter.  He is an expert on finding lost things.  However this time there are two problems 1) the rich woman wants to come with him and 2) it means going back to Nightside, a place he has avoided for over five years.

What is Nightside ye ask?  Well it is a square mile in the middle of London that may or may not be part of our world.  It is always 3:00 a.m. and nighttime.  Monsters and myths abound.  Death is always present.  Some people call it Hell.  John grew up there.

It certainly is an odd little book.  I enjoyed the introduction to John Taylor even if it was obvious in reading it that it is the first book in a series.  Nightside had great atmosphere.  I particularly liked the pub, Strangefellows.  I also adored the character of Suzie Shooter.  There were some creepy elements dealing with insects and haunted houses.  Neither of which were like what I expected.  The only downside was that for a short book, the pacing felt a little slow and there was a lot of talking and not quite enough showing.  But it fit me mood and I am glad I read it.  I don’t however feel the need to read the other 11 books in the series!  Ye may love them all.

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

John Taylor is not a private detective per se, but he has a knack for finding lost things. That’s why he’s been hired to descend into the Nightside, an otherworldly realm in the center of London where fantasy and reality share renting space and the sun never shines.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Simon R. Green – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

something from the nightside -Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the vagrant (Peter Newman)

Ahoy there me mateys!

I have to say that while this was an interesting read, it was definitely unusual.  To give you an idea – the main characters are a mute, a baby, and a goat.  Aye mateys.  Ye read that right.  And if that weren’t enough, there also be a magical sword with an eyeball.  Cool, huh?

The story involves a world where there has been a breach and the demons are getting in and trying to take over.  Wherever the demons go, corruption ensues. I loved the weird half-breeds and other unsavories that demon taint makes.  In fact most of the demon related details were awesome.

The chapters alternate between the present where we follow the mute, i.e. the Vagrant, on his quest to take the magic sword to the Shining City and then chapters that go back eight years in the past to how the present came to be.  And of course converge nicely.

I actually loved both the Vagrant and the goat.  I mean, the goat was actually one of the highlights of the novel.  Baby was different but not to me taste overall.  I liked the idea of the baby more as a prop then as a character.

Having a character that was mute was actually fascinating.  I thought the author did an excellent job making the Vagrant communicate.  Of course, the Vagrant does run into lots of talking folk along the way and picks up some for a time along his travels.  Also this is not the type of book where ye get to see into the main characters thoughts.  So everything ye learn is basically through dialogue and action.  Works astonishingly well.

So why didn’t I love it?  Well, I think overall it was the very last leg of the journey into the Shining City that seemed lackluster as well as the City itself.  It fit the story and the characters.  It just didn’t thrill me.  I think that overall I would have preferred this to be a standalone and not a trilogy.  While I will not be reading any more of the series, this was a good read and I am glad I read it.  Especially because of the goat.

Check out another of me crew, Brad’s, review here.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Peter Newman – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the vagrant – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the weaver (Emmi Itaranta)

Ahoy there me mateys!  After I read this Finnish author’s debut novel, memory of water, I knew I had to read her next book when it came out.  And while I enjoyed her first novel more, there was a lot to be enjoyed in this one as well.

The world building in this novel was wonderful.  The story takes place on an island where everything is deeply regimented.  One of the main rules is that dreaming is not allowed.  It is treated like the plague and if discovered to be a Dreamer then the person is thrown into House of the Tainted never to be seen again.

There are other Houses like the House of Words and the House of Webs.  Our main character, Eliana, lives in the House of Webs and weaves.  She has secrets, among them being able to read and also being a dreamer.  She tries to stay invisible and safe in her structured world.  Then one day she discovers an injured girl, Valeria, who happens to have Eliana’s name tattooed on her palm.  Eliana can’t help but be drawn into the mystery.  As Eliana begins to become closer to Valeria, will she give up her safety and worldview to solve the puzzle?

The relationship between Valeria and Eliana is one of the highlights of the book for me.  Their connection is slow burning but wonderful and kept me avidly reading.  While not the focus of the book, their relationship drives the story.  It was sweet and endearing.  I also enjoyed the loving relationship between Eliana and her brother Janos.  There is also a kick ass healer whom I adored too.

The details in this novel were as stunning at the ones in the author’s first novel.  The circumstances and explanations of the tattoos were fun.  The glimpses into the other Houses felt realistic and left me wanting to know more about the purposes of them all.  I adored how the island would flood.  Those descriptions were so vivid and stark.  This author’s writing feels magical.

While I loved the world the author created, I did have some issues with the dreaming aspects of the novel.  The dreaming is very fantastical and even though there is an explanation for why dreaming is dangerous, I didn’t really love it.  The ending of the novel in particular seemed extremely odd.  I wouldn’t say that I hated it.  It just left me sort of confused.

Despite that I did find this novel thought-provoking and am glad I read it.  I will be reading whatever this author produces next.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society.

But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and how can she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand?

As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island’s dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emmi Itaranta – Author

To buy this novel to go:

the weaver – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

memory of water (The Captain’s Log – Fantasy)