The Captain’s Log – the coelura (Anne McCaffrey)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I am assuming that most of me crew has heard of Anne McCaffrey.  I read a lot of her work when I was a younger lass.  So when I was perusing some used books that be for sale, I snagged a copy of this short novel.  I had never heard of it and it has a funny looking cat like creature on the cover:

The edition I picked up was published by Tor in 1987.  It is a hardback and part of its appeal were the 50 black and white illustrations by Ned Dameron.

It is an odd little snippet of a story.  Lady Caissa is the body-heir for her father.  Her father helps rule the planet of Demeathorn.  As body-heir, Caissa owes him strict obedience – especially in the matter of producing the next heir.  But when her father proposes his pick of suitor, Caissa is appalled at how inappropriate the choice is and wonders what scheme her father is participating in now.  So she decides to find out.  Will she be a dutiful daughter or will she revolt?

Part of that scheme involves the coelura.  I don’t even know how to describe them.  After reading this book, I still be completely confused as to what one is. They certainly don’t look like the cat creature from the cover.  The illustrations don’t really do them justice.  It was perplexing.

The illustrations, while super fun, were rather odd.  Sometimes they seemed to match an element of the story.  Sometimes I couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to portray.  They were not always placed near the section of the book being described.  In fact, often they were scattered in seemingly random order.

I enjoyed this novel but ended up being mostly confused.  As McCaffrey’s writing is usually crystal clear and rich in detail, this seemed unusual.  But instead of being frustrated, I still very much enjoyed the odd experience and the puzzle of it.  I can’t recommend the story, such as it was, but I am glad I own this particular book and will certainly revisit it in the future.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Lady Caissa, heir to the Ambassador of the Federated Sentient Planets to the world Demeathorn, had grown up knowing that she owed her sire obedience and unconditional loyalty. She was expected to do her duty, even to the extent of entering into a marriage alliance she did not understand with a man she despised. Lady Caissa, beautiful, rich, and well-educated, had never learned the great secret of Demeathorn, although she was about to be caught in its spell.

In the aftermath of disastrous diplomatic negotiations, she fled north toward interdicted territory. A distress signal from deep within the forbidden zone drew her to a rocky island where she would encounter a man alone: intense, handsome, and severely injured in the crash of his antique flyer. Lady Caissa did not know it, but she had just set in motion events which would determine the fate of her family, her planet…and her happiness.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Anne McCaffrey – Author

To buy the book go to:

the coelura – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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The Captain’s Log – sourdough (Robin Sloan)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This story is about sourdough bread, robots, and a quirky girl named Lois.  This book made me long for fresh baked bread to eat while I read.  It is a contemporary with a blend of sci-fi and magical realism and fantasy mixed in very subtlety.  It kinda defies adequate explanation.  The simple version is that a woman named Lois who works as a programmer is given a bread “starter” and learns to bake sourdough thus changing her life forever.  That seems like it could be boring but it is not.  The book feels lighthearted and yet has dense ideas underneath.  It was fast paced and a delight.  I read it in one sitting.  I loved Lois.  I loved the starter.  I loved the book.  Try it.  Just  be prepared for it to make yer belly rumble.

Check out me crew member’s effusive review:

Stephanie @ adventuresofabibliophile – who introduced me to this one!  Thanks matey!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.

Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.

When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robin Sloan – Author

To buy the book go to:

sourdough – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – the salt line (Holly Goddard Jones)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This book was described as being in the spirit of station eleven but with ticks.  Being as I love me some dystopian fiction I gave this one a shot.

So in this version of Earth, ticks have become a menace that is so bad that most humans live in zones beyond controlled wastelands (the salt line) and walls that keep them sequestered and safe from the natural world.  The difference in this book is that a lot of the outside world is still beautiful.  So there are very rich adventure seekers that pay vast sums of money to go on death-defying adventures to see fall foliage or the mountains etc.  But beware if a tick bites, they only have a very limited time to burn them out of their skin or risk serving as an incubator for tick eggs – usually with fatal results.

The strength of the novel lies in the characterizations and in the overlaying ideas of the adventure-seekers.  Each member of the expedition has interesting reasons for venturing beyond the salt line.  In particular the relationship between Marta and Wes was very much a favourite.  Edie and Violet were two other beloved characters.  I also thought the ticks and their impact on society were well through out and portrayed.

The main problem I had with the book was with the politics of the outer-zone survivors who take the adventurers hostage.  Once the hostages reach the village and are trapped, the books plot went downhill for me.  The outcomes were a little predicable and the politics were rather simplistic.  The pacing slowed down.  I continued to read because of the characters but was overall unsatisfied with the ending.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the read.  I just didn’t think it was amazing.  But the characters and ideas are worth reading this novel and who know ye may love it more than I did.

For a take on this novel by some of me crew check out:

this review by Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum

this review by Lisa @ tenaciousreader

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Holly Goddard Jones – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the salt line – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – spoonbenders (Daryl Gregory)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was the absolute perfect read for the last book of 2017.  I was first introduced to this author with his book afterparty.  That book was a sci-fi dealing with illicit drug use which I found to be fun, thought-provoking, and twisty.  Those same adjectives could also be used to describe this one.  This book kinda reminded me of a prayer for owen meany, only a lot less sad.

This book follows the Telemachus family who have paranormal abilities.  The family is zany and endearing.  Seriously I would write more but I have been beaten to the punch by me crew who frankly explains this one better than I ever could.

So check out this review by Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum for an excellent take on this novel!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Daryl Gregory – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

spoonbenders – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

afterparty (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – sea of rust (C. Robert Cargill)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This book has been getting praise from me crew and know I know why. First of all it has the most beautifully evocative cover:

And the story is unusual and compelling.  This is a post-apocalyptic story of what happens when the war between the humans and robots is over and the robots win.  The answer is extremely surprising and fascinating and complicated.

The protagonist, Brittle, is an awesome robot.  She is badass, self-serving, clever, and just plain fun.  She is a scavenger who finds parts that other robots need to survive.  But robot politics are getting in the way of her survival.  Plus there is the other robot that is out to destroy her.

But while it is wonderful to watch the world unfold through Brittle’s eyes and learn the history of the war through Brittle’s memories, it was the world-building that made this one rock.  I adored the types of robots, how they were used, what became of them, what they chose to do with the world when they were in control, etc.  The robot philosophy was interesting.  I also thought it was clever that sometimes Brittle seemed very human in tone and then I would be reminded by another element that she was a robot.  I believe that this was due to the type of model she was.

There aren’t too many details above because I think all of me crew should experience this one for themselves.  Just know that the writing is beautiful and it was time well spent.  I look forward to reading the author’s other work.

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Sarah @ brainfluff – who introduced me to this one!  Thanks matey!

Lynn @ lynn’sbookblog

Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum

Now I normally post the blurb for the book here but I feel that this one gives the whole story away so I am not.

To visit the author’s website go to:

C. Robert Cargill – Author

To buy the book go to:

sea of rust – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – provenance (Ann Leckie)

Ahoy there mateys!  I have been a fan of Ann Leckie ever since I read her debut novel.  And what a doozy that one was.  It still be one of me all-time favourites ever.  In fact, I featured and gushed about this author in me Broadside No. 16 due to provenance coming out.  And now I finally read her newest book.  Hooray!!

I must start by saying that I loved it.  The characters, writing, plot, and world are so well done.  While the story about Ingray was fabulous and plot-twisty and stellar and just plain fun, what I really took from the book was not the story at all but the juxtaposition between the society of the Hwaeans in this book and the Radchaai in her imperial radch trilogy.  This was not me intention but, well, this aspect provided me myriad entertainments.

Ye see this novel is technically a standalone that is set in the same world as the trilogy.  I absolutely love what I would consider companion books that exist in a world but showcase other aspects and cultures of said world – like in me reviews of the Culture books or the Craftworld books.  So this was a mind-puzzle gift that I found fascinating.  If ye haven’t read the first book in the trilogy, ancillary justice, then the next section will likely not make sense to ye.  And I suggest ye read that novel before reading this one because of said paragraphs below.  So while there are no plot spoilers ahead, I will be doing some mild comparisons and random thoughts so if ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

  • I adored that the Radchaai were the protagonists of the trilogy and of course considered themselves the highest-cultured beings of the universe.  And in this book we showcase the Hwaean culture who believes they are superior.  Both cultures spend time pointing out how certain habits of other societies proved they were uncouth.  That being said, both cultures also like to see themselves as being open-minded, which I found to be hysterical.
  • For example there is a Radchaai diplomat in this novel.  Though a very minor character, the diplomat was used perfectly.  The author highlights the hypocrisy of the Radchaai in terms of the person appointed for the diplomatic job and also in the diplomat’s attitude towards her job.  Yet in certain situations the diplomat takes her tasks extremely seriously and is an important component to how the plot progresses and is resolved.  It was awesome!
  • We get to see multiple cultures in all the books.  Geck, Radchaai, Rrrrr, Omken, and others.  So very different and complex and fun.  In particular the use (or non-use) of terms of gender vary by culture and language and the complexities rock!  The mistakes are sometimes very funny and yet somehow also insightful into how gender is dealt with in this day and age.
  • I also adore the different types of justice systems portrayed and the intricacies in how twisted interplanetary law can be.  In Tyr Siilas there is a fine based system.  Hwae seems slightly more like the British judicial system.  Also how all of the cultures deal with the treaty with the Presger is portrayed so well in all of the novels.  Citizenship was never such an interesting conundrum.
  • I loved how the Radchaai have their memorial pins and the Hwae have their vestiges.  I have to admit that I am more partial to a memorial pin.  However the use of the vestiges in this book were central to the story and a hoot besides.  I kinda want the Radchaai pins and the tourist vestiges.
  • Speaking of tourism, Ann Leckie is awesome about writing about tourist places that are normal for the regular population but that I would totally visit.  From bridges in the trilogy to Eswae Parkland in this book, I am fascinating and wish I could visit.  I would sail the stars just to see the ruin glass hills.  If only . . .

Me writing skills are not good enough to get into more particulars and I certainly don’t want to give away spoilers.  But this novel has been lingering in me head and heart and thoughts.  I suggest if ye haven’t read Ann Leckie’s work then ye should witness for yerself the magic of her writing.

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

Following her record-breaking debut trilogy, Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, returns with an enthralling new novel of power, theft, privilege and birthright.

A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Ann Leckie – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

provenance – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – when the floods came (Clare Morrall)

Ahoy there mateys!  This was a random find in a local library that I just had to pick up.  Why?  Because I love post-apocalyptic stories that deal with climate change.  As the title suggests, this one deals with flooding.  The bonus was that it was written by a British writer.  I love to read other countries takes on climate change.

Side note:  This book was referenced as Cli-Fi in an article.  That term cracks me up!

The story centers around Roza Polanski and her family living in an abandoned building in Birmingham.  A virus has devastated the population and flooding has led to the ruination of most population centers.  There is a small government in Brighton.  Having been there, this fact entertained me to no end.  Technology is slowly failing due to lack of maintenance and the number of people is in steady decline due to virus related fertility issues.  The people that do exist are in the later stages of life and there are not many children or teens.

Roza’s parents are one of the few couples to remain fertile and had four children.  Her childhood is a seemingly happy one despite the family’s isolation.  The children are fed, loved, fairly healthy, educated, and safe.  Roza is set to be married soon and life seems to be headed towards a hopeful future.  However, one day a stranger named Aashay appears in their lives.  His presence brings a fresh perspective on the state of the world to the Polanskis and leads them away from their isolation.  But can they trust this stranger in their midst and retain their safety?

The world building was me favorite part of the novel.  I loved the images of riding bikes on abandoned highways, how the flooding cycles through, the family’s resourcefulness and intelligence, and above all the inter-family relationships.  It was wonderful to see a family who was supportive and cared for each other.

The plot was more problematic for me.  Aashay is charming and mysterious and not very forthcoming with his past.  The family is seemingly charmed by him and suspicious of him the whole time.  I got somewhat annoyed by the waffling which, to be fair, is a pet peeve of mine.  There is some suspense in the second half of the novel which was extremely fun but overall the later portion of the book along with the ending was unsatisfying.  Too many unanswered questions.

I was mostly confused by how an intelligent family could waffle so much about Aashay.  Can charm really go that far?  Well apparently the author wrote about that based on her own experiences.  An article from The Independent says “Take Aashay Kent, the novel’s ambiguous male lead and dead-ringer for Epstein’s Lucifer. ‘I became interested in the concept of charm,’ Morrall says, offering as an example one of her daughter’s ex-boyfriends. ‘One in particular was quite an intriguing man we were all charmed by.  Then you realise, bit by bit, there was quite a nasty underside to him. Then he comes bouncing back with a great big grin. The bizarre thing is you know what you see is not the reality, and yet the way this charisma works is you are drawn back into it.’”

Very interesting.  The novel was a solid read even if I had some problems with it.  Ultimately  I am glad I read this book and would read other works by the author.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

A taut, gripping novel set in the future, when the lives of a family existing on the margins of a dramatically changed society are upset by a mysterious stranger.

In a world prone to violent flooding, Britain, ravaged 20 years earlier by a deadly virus, has been largely cut off from the rest of the world. Survivors are few and far between, most of them infertile. Children, the only hope for the future, are a rare commodity.

For 22-year-old Roza Polanski, life with her family in their isolated tower block is relatively comfortable. She’s safe, happy enough. But when a stranger called Aashay Kent arrives, everything changes. At first he’s a welcome addition, his magnetism drawing the Polanskis out of their shells, promising an alternative to a lonely existence. But Roza can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Aashay than he’s letting on. Is there more to life beyond their isolated bubble? Is it true that children are being kidnapped? And what will it cost to find out?

Clare Morrall, author of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Astonishing Splashes of Colour, creates a startling vision of the future in a world not so very far from our own, and a thrilling story of suspense.

To visit the publisher’s author page go to:

Clare Morrall – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

when the floods came – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List