The Captain’s Log – etiquette & espionage (Gail Carrigar)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was an audiobook that I picked up because I was looking for a fluffy fun read and the cover, title, and the small part of the blurb that I read sounded appealing.  The story involves a finishing school where girls learn the traditional arts like dance and how to curtsy and the not so usual arts of espionage like poison, knives, and seduction.

The cover looks like this:

Therefore I was surprised to find out that the main character was only 14 and that this was YA.  I had assumed from the cover that the protagonist would be at least 16 but more like 17 going on 18.  She does NOT look 14 in the cover.  Apparently the author has another series called the Parasol Protectorate that stars an older spinster which is what I mistakenly thought I was reading.  This book was part of the Finishing School series marketed more for the younger set.  Should have perhaps read the blurb in full.

That being said, I got mostly what I wanted.  I did like the protagonist, Sophronia.  She is a bit of a special snowflake but I was won over by her in the end.  The plot is fluffy and makes little sense at times but I did enjoy it.  I chuckled at many parts which was nice.  And I loved the pet “mechanimal” and its part in the story.  The other students were fun but didn’t get nearly enough page time.  I also would have liked more descriptions of the espionage training, especially in the use of the fan.

Light on plot and characterization but full of fun and silliness, I do think I would read the next in the series.  I also am tempted by the other more adult series though I hear it is more of a romance.  If the crew has any opinions on these series then please chime in!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Gail Carriger – Author

To buy the book go to:

etiquette & espionage – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List


The Captain’s Log – skulduggery pleasant (Derek Landy)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I don’t know where I first found out about this one.  But I do know that it has a kick-ass cover:

With that cover I had to see what it was about.  So this involves a detective named Skulduggery Pleasant who just happens to be a walking, talking skeleton who can do magic.  Through a series of truly quirky circumstances that I won’t spoil, he meets 12-year-old Stephanie who inadvertently becomes involved in a mystery and then refuses to go back into her ordinary life.  Curiosity wins.  The banter between the two and the humor in this story overall made this a quick and fun read.  The downsides were that Stephanie didn’t do very much, her parents are clueless, and the mystery was not the focus of the plot.  I wanted it to be a skeleton and girl solving weird cases.  Instead it is the two of them fighting the evil ancient enemy to save the world.  That said it was very enjoyable and I liked the magical world the author has set up.  I think I might read more in the series but there are 10 books in it which makes me wary.  But every now and again this might be just the type of light fluffy fun read I am looking for.

Side note: I truly loved the illustrations by Tom Percival!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

Over his dead body.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Derek Landy – Author

To buy the book go to:

skulduggery pleasant – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – akata witch (Nnedi Okorafor)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I was mesmerized by books one and two of the Binti series but couldn’t get a hold of the third book quickly.  I then spotted this book instead.  I thought it was a novella.  Nope!  Check out the beautiful cover:

While the Binti series is sci-fi, this one is young adult fantasy.  It had a completely different feel from the author’s other works and I loved it.

The story centers around 12 year old Sunny.  She was born in the US but currently lives in Nigeria with her family.  Not only does Sunny’s Americanism set her apart but so does her albinism.  Yet Sunny tries her best to be a normal kid and to do well in school.  She is bullied and one day is attacked by a popular female classmate.  Only one person tries to come to her aid, a boy named Orlu.  As she and Orlu become friends, Sunny soon discovers that she may have the magical powers of the Leopard People.  How did she get these powers?  And how is she supposed to help stop a killer?

I loved the magical system of this book.  I loved that magic had very dangerous side effects and rules.  I loved that Sunny still has to stay in “regular” school in addition to her magical training.  I loved her friendships.  I loved that her family was present in the book even if there were problems.  I loved the rich tapestry of world building involved with the Leopard People.  I wanted to go into the magical bookstore!

This book was another that led me to read more about the history of the Leopard People, Igbo people, and Efik people.  I loved this post about the Efik, particularly the section about the written language mentioned in the book.  I will certainly be reading the next book in the series once I get ahold of it.  Arrr!

Side note:  Lots of people seem to be calling this series the African Harry Potter.  Personally I think it trivializes a book that completely stands on its own.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Nnedi Okorafor – Author

To buy the book go to:

akata witch – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

binti – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

home – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – the phantom tollbooth (Norton Juster)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have noticed this evocative cover . . .


. . . time and time again since I was a young’un’.  But for reasons that escape me now, I never did pick it up.  But I have always had intentions to read it.  Well then two of me crew in rather quick succession wrote their thoughts about it and solidified me desire to read it.  And so I have.

For such a short book, it took me a rather long time to read because I had to savor it in delightful little bits.  This novel truly deserves the designation of a classic.  The story is silly and seemingly simple but oh what delightful use of language.  I loved the evocative illustrations by Jules Feiffer and how even the type on the page helps to tell the story.  It is the kind of book with clever layers that make it a lovely read for people of all ages.

A favourite quote:

“Do all those words mean the same thing?” gasped Milo. “Of course.” “Certainly.” “Precisely.” “Exactly.” “Yes,” they replied in order. “Well, then,” said Milo, not understanding why each one said the same thing in a slightly different way, “wouldn’t it be simpler to use just one? It would certainly make more sense.” “Nonsense.” “Ridiculous.” “Fantastic.” “Absurd.” “Bosh,” they chorused again, and continued. “We’re not interested in making sense; it’s not our job,” scolded the first. “Besides,” explained the second, “one word is as good as another—so why not use them all?”

I would like to visit the Doldrums where sleeping is a priority.  Wouldn’t ye want items on yer schedule like this:

“From 2:00 to 2:30 we take our early afternoon nap. “From 2:30 to 3:30 we put off for tomorrow what we could have done today. “From 3:30 to 4:00 we take our early late afternoon nap.

The language is literally delicious.  I wish I could have had a phantom tollbooth as a child!

Check out me two crew members effusive reviews that finally got me to read this one:

bookstooge @ bookstooge’s reviews on the road – who celebrated the 50th anniversary edition

the orangutan librarian – who revisited the Lands Beyond and discusses her thoughts about the trip

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Hailed as “a classic. . . . humorous, full of warmth and real invention” (The New Yorker), this beloved story -first published more than fifty years ago- introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond.

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .

To visit the author’s wiki page go to:

Norton Juster – Author

To buy the book go to:

the phantom tollbooth – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – crenshaw (Katherine Applegate)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was an audiobook that I picked up for two reasons: 1) the author previously won the Newbery Medal and 2) it has a giant cat on the cover.

The cat was supposed to be both invisible and magic.  I had assumed that the story would be lighthearted and that the cat and little boy would get into all kinds of adventures.  This book had a way more serious tone.  It was about a struggling boy named Jackson.  His mom lost her job and his dad has MS.  They are poor and about to lose their home . . . again.  His parents continue to treat every situation with an upbeat attitude.  Jackson knows the problem is serious and doesn’t know how to make his parents tell him the truth about their circumstances.

Like how Harvey the rabbit is a sign of alcoholism, Crenshaw is a sign of troubled times.  One of the more interesting points of this book is that Crenshaw doesn’t magically fix things.  He is more of a sounding board and a solid presence in Jackson’s life.  A friend.  Only, in the beginning, Jackson thinks he is going insane because why should he be seeing a giant talking cat that he thought was an imaginary friend he left back in kindergarten.

I enjoyed the fact that Jackson is going through self-discovery and that the cat doesn’t magically fix the parents’ situation.  The cat is a background personality for the most part and much of his involvement is through flashbacks.  I loved that Jackson had loving parents who did want the best for their children.  I loved silly Crenshaw.  This was a wonderful story, dealing with the effects of poverty, friendship, family, and resilience.  I will certainly be reading more of Katherine Applegate’s work.

Side note:  The narrator, Kirby Heyborne, did a wonderful job!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Katherine Applegate – Author

To buy the book go to:

crenshaw – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – fortunately, the milk (Neil Gaiman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So the last experiment of me listenin’ to an audiobook while doin’ mundane tasks worked.  But could the results be repeated?  I decided to test the experience a second time.  The twist this time?  To listen to a book I had never read before ::GASP!!::.  But what to pick . . .

Well scrolling through me list of choices, I realized that ’twas no choice at all.  Neil Gaiman’s shiny title stood out.  I have a wee bit of an obsession (for details click here) and so I gleefully began the tale.  When suddenly . . .

I realized that Mr. Neil Gaiman hisself was narratin’.  The intensity of the experience escalated.  I had no inkling until that exact moment that he was goin’ to read me his own story.  Blimey!

The story.  The narration.  The experience.  Absolutely perfect.  Hearin’ about a dad’s trip to the store to get milk has never been so fun.  In fact one of me crew actually dared to ask what me satisfied smirking grin be about.  I just continued to grin like a cheshire cat.  Heave Ho and get yerself a copy!

Side note:  I will certainly give a gander to this story again.  I am slightly curious about both the English and American illustrations.  But I likely will just listen to it again.  So perfect.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

“I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: t h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”

“Hullo,” I said to myself. “That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened.”

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neil Gaiman – Author

To buy the book go to:

fortunately, the milk – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

Broadside No. 11

The Captain’s Log – silver in the blood (Jessica Day George)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This author came to me attention with her book the princess of the midnight ball which is a twelve dancing princesses retelling.  No, I haven’t read it yet.  I was looking for something light to read as me last several books have been rather heavy.  The dancing princesses book wasn’t available but this one was.  It had also been on me list as it had a cool cover:

So I scooped it up and had a gander.  The book ended up being a silly okayish read that did give me some enjoyment.

The story involves two girls from New York that are sent on a trip to meet their mothers’ family back in Romania.  These cousins get more than they bargained for.  Secrets are being kept and the family is being evasive.  What is the family hiding and what does that have to do with them?

So some cool things in this book:

  • It takes place in the 1890s.  I love historical fantasy fiction.
  • The format is letters, diary entries, and perspectives from the girls themselves.
  • It has shape-shifters.  Which I figured from the cover.
  • The two cousins have an awesome relationship.  I love how supportive they are of each other.
  • The girls both have very different personalities but due to circumstances in the book their roles are reversed at one point and that was excellent fun.
  • The majority of the book takes place in Romania.  I don’t know many books that are.  (One other.  That’s all I could come up with.)
  • Lou has an awesome power.  I loved how it was used.
  • It was a quick read.

The not as fun:

  • The plot is kinda plodding in a lot of places.  It took forever for the girls to find out about the family.  I would have liked that reveal to be way earlier in the book.  And of course when yer reader guessed fairly early on what was going on, it makes the two girl’s lack of intelligence in that regard tedious and annoying.
  • The girls’ powers could have been used WAY more in terms of plot.
  • while the book is set in Romania, I would have liked the country to feel more integral to the plot.  Yes there are myths and history facts that are used in good ways in the story but not enough.
  • The villain was extremely two dimensional and irked me in his rational.  Which basically came down to “because he wanted it.”
  • The love interests were too numerous and too boringly shallow.
  • I wanted more action and adventure and girls kicking butt.  I wanted the girls to show more initiative.

While this book didn’t thrill me, it was a good way to spend some of the evening.  Me crew still highly recommends her dragon books and I still want to read the fairytale so I will certainly give this author another shot.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jessica Day George – Author

To buy the book go to:

silver in the blood – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List