The Captain’s Log – the screaming staircase (Jonathan Stroud)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I absolutely loved the author’s Bartimaeus trilogy + 1.  I could gush about these books all day but I am on tight schedule so another day mehaps.  I hadn’t known about this series for some unknown and presumably silly reason so when NetGalley offered me the chance to read the first book I of course said Aye!!  It is listed as a middle-grade but bah!  I don’t put age limits on things.

This was the perfect read for the beginning of Spooktober.  Ghosts!  The story is set in England where several decades ago the Problem began.  Paranormal phenomenon became widespread.  The catch is that only children and young adults can see and deal with the unsavories.  Society has adapted and agencies have sprung up to deal with the problems.

Lucy Carlyle is one such ghost hunter.  She has traveled to London to find work at a new agency.  However her past is getting in the way and so she ends up working for a bottom of the barrel agency run by Lockwood.  It is an agency run by teens with no adult supervision.  Mistakes and chaos abound.  Lockwood & Co. mess up big time and discover an unsolved murder mystery case.  With the firm in peril, the agency gets a chance at redemption with one of the most haunted houses around.  Will they survive?

That was one of the items I liked best – that ye can learn from and improve upon past mistakes.  I also loved the relationships between the three ghost hunters, the wonderful atmospheric writing, the sophisticated world building, and the engrossing storyline.  I had to know what happened next.  While the murder mystery villain was extremely predictable I still had fun watching the case unfold.  And the haunted house was just plain awesome.  I actually got tingles.  I highly recommend this one for readers of any age.

Side note: Apparently the fifth and final book of this series was just released in September!  I think I may try to read the other four this month if I can track them down.  Challenge accepted!  ::brandishes cutlass::  Arrrr!

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Bentley @ bookbastion

Hannah Greendale @ goodreads

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

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again  . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jonathan Stroud – Author

To buy the book go to:

the screaming staircase – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for me honest musings.  Arrrrr!

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The Captain’s Log – every heart a doorway (Seanan McGuire)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This young adult novel caught me eye because many many crew members wouldn’t stop talking about how good it was.  I have been meaning to read a Seanan McGuire book because I loved her Newsflesh trilogy that she wrote under the name Mira Grant.

Plus this novella won all these awards:

So I read this novella and found it to be absolutely stunning.  I have to admit that the style took a wee bit to get used to but then I grew to love the worldbuilding, writing style, diverse characters, and just well everything.  I don’t even know how to adequately explain this one and frankly think it is better to go into this story blind as I did.  I don’t have the words.

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Lauren @ wonderless reviews

Lynn @ lynn’sbookblog

Brad @ goodreads

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Seanan McGuire – Author

To buy the book go to:

every heart a doorway – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – my lady jane (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This young adult novel caught me eye because many many crew members wouldn’t stop talking about how funny it was.  I was informed it was a young adult historical fiction that veers off from the historical and into the hysterical.

In these rough seas of the past couple months, I felt I could use some laughter so I picked up a copy.  And I did mostly enjoy it.  Jane of course is the highlight with her book obsession, sassy wits, and intelligence.  It was worth reading this book just so I could get to know this version of Lady Jane Grey.  Also I loved King Edward VI and Gifford.  The relationships of these three characters were sweet and charming.  However even the secondary characters were fun and integral to the plot which is always nice to see.

The first part of the novel mostly takes the correct history and then twists it.  Adds magic. Woohoo!  This part was my favorite.  In fact I loved the whole section up until Jane’s marriage.  Then the book lagged for me until it was time for the group to storm and retake the castle.  It’s not to say that I hated the middle of the book but it was slow and there was a lot of waiting around and wandering in the woods (a bit of a pet peeve).

I don’t think I loved the book enough to read any more of this series but it certainly was a quick, light, and entertaining read.  I am impressed at how smooth the storytelling and character voices were even though three authors worked on this book.  But don’t just listen to me take on the novel . . .

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Lola @ hitormissbooks

Wren @ wrensreads

Jillian @ rantandraveaboutbooks

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

To visit the authors’ websites go to:

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows – Authors

To buy the book go to:

my lady jane – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the princess in the opal mask (Jenny Lundquist)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have no idea where I first heard about this book but it sounded like a prince and pauper type story so it went onto the ports fer plunder list.  I love those types of fairy tales and was excited to pick this one up.  It turned out to be a fun romp that I read in one night.

There are two girls who eventually do switch places.  The highlight of this book for me was Elara.  She is feisty and determined.  I particularly liked the way in which she interacted with her foster family in the beginning of the novel.  The other girl, Princess Wilha, had her best moments in the second half of the book but overall seemed bland in comparison to Elara.

While this book was fast-paced, it does have lesser elements.  Two in particular were the romances and the plot problems.  The romances were mostly surface and not really developed in depth.  I liked the guys involved.  I just wish they didn’t feel so two dimensional.  The plot was also clumsy.  The reason for the princess wearing the mask seemed farfetched.  A lot of the events seemed disjointed.  So many improbable things just fall into place.  Both main characters make odd choices that just seem to move the plot along.  I would have liked a little more depth to the characters’ motivations.  I also wish there had been more about the relationship between the two girls.  Though I did not expect that ending at all which was fun.

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed it enough to read the sequel.

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

One Legend Determines the Fate of Two Lives   In the faraway village of Tulan, sixteen-year-old Elara has spent her entire life as a servant, trying to track down her real name. The name she was given before being orphaned. Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Galandria, Princess Wilhamina does not know why her father, the king, makes her wear a mask. Or why she is forbidden to ever show her face.

When a new peace treaty between Galandria and Kyrenica is threatened, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face. Told in alternating perspectives, this intricate fairytale pulls both girls toward secrets that have been locked away behind castle doors, while the fate of two opposing kingdoms rests squarely on their untrained shoulders.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jenny Lundquist – Author

To buy the book go to:

the princess in the opal mask – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – white cat (Holly Black)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This young adult novel caught me eye because it is written by Holly Black and has a cat on the cover (and in the title!):

I have only previously read two books by Holly Black: 1) the coldest girl in coldtown and 2) zombies vs. unicorns.  The coldest girl in coldtown is a young adult vampire book.  The zombie book is an anthology of short stories that argues about whether zombies or unicorns are better.  I loved both of them and had been meaning to pick up another of her books for ages.  So when I read the blurb for this one, I knew this would be the next Holly Black book I would try.  I was not disappointed.

This novel is the story of Cassel who comes from a family of curseworkers but can’t perform curses himself.  It takes place in our world with the addition of magic.  Only magic is against the law.  Thus Cassel’s family are a bunch of con-artists.  For example, his mother can manipulate emotions.  Mom is serving time in jail, his one brother is studying law and working on his mother’s appeal, and his other brother works for the mob.

Cassel is living a life in a boarding school with “normal” people.  He feels he is an outsider in both worlds.  Plus there is the catch that Cassel murdered his best friend three years ago but doesn’t remember doing so or why.  His family covered it up of course.  All Cassel wants is to fit in somewhere but his life begins to unravel even further when he begins to sleepwalk and has dreams featuring a white cat . . .

This book was very engaging and completely plot-twisting.  I only guessed a couple of minor points.  As Cassel learns the truth about his family’s exploits, he begins to come up with a plan to con the con-men.  Following Cassel’s investigation was the highlight for me because I had no idea where the story was going.  Cassel’s con of the mob was very silly but delightfully so.

A close second were the characterizations.  Cassel self-proclaims that he is “not a good person.”  He loves to con folk and there is the question of the murder.  However as we follow Cassel’s journey, we begin to see that he is very much an unreliable narrator despite himself.  It is wonderful.  Add in secondary characters like the friends that Cassel makes along the way.  There are actually girl and guy friends where there is NO romance.  The romance that is in the book is not the main point and only enriches the story.  I also loved reading about Cassel’s ridiculous family members.  The grandfather in particular is awesome.  His brothers and mom not so much.  But I do understand in some fashion why Cassel makes the choices he does.

The ending was a cliff-hanging doozy of a plot twist.  Normally such things aggravate me.  Not this time.  It seemed perfectly in line with all the other crazy plot twists and turns.  Certainly makes me want to read the rest of the series.  Ye might want to check it out.

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Alienor @ star-crossedbookblog

Cait @ paperfury

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

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty—he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas—and a plan to con the conmen.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Holly Black – Author

To buy the book go to:

white cat – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – octopus pirate (Jane Yates)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Okay with a title like that how could I not be intrigued?  Would this novella finally settle the grand debate once for all: octopi or octopuses?  And what exactly does an octopus pirate look like?  The author’s website shows this possibility:

I was intrigued. The story is set in the Victorian era wherein the pregnant wife of a ship’s captain is washed overboard.  Miraculously, the baby survives and is washed to the shore of a Scottish island.  An elderly solitary nun named Mary discovers him and vows that he is a gift from God for her to raise.  She loves young Coco despite his so-called deformities and they form a strong bond.

The set-up to the story and the early years detailing Coco’s life on the island were the highlights of the story for me.  Now don’t get me wrong, Coco goes adventuring and joins the circus and starts to learn to become a pirate.  Arrrr!  But the simplicity of Coco’s early years were me favorite part of the book.  The relationship between Mary and Coco was heartening even fer this salty Captain.

Once Coco is forced to leave the island, we add in a larger cast of characters.  Ye see the circus actually does have some magical talent.  Whether it is a mermaid, a teleporter, or even Coco with his own burgeoning magical discoveries, life gets a little more complicated.  Plots are hatched to travel back in time to fight as pirates.  Plots are hatched to harm Coco.

The plot and motivations fer the whys and hows are very light.  However awesome and fun Coco is, he is not really in charge of his destiny in this installment and luck seems to direct his path.  Though the next book seems set-up for him to begin to truly stand on his own and I do believe I shall partake of that adventure.

And the octopus of the title?  Coco’s special relationship with octopuses needs to be read about and not spoiled.  So if ye like octopi then nab a copy and tell me what ye think . . .

In case ye need further proof of the awesomeness of an octopus:

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Octopus Pirate is a time travelling steampunk tale set in the Victorian period. It’s the story of a foundling who discovers he has unusual talents . . . As a baby, the hero of this book is washed up on an island off the Scottish mainland. An eccentric former nun called Mary, who lives there alone with her cats, brings him up and names him after her favorite character, Pinocchio . . .

The teenage Coco joins a circus where he makes friends with Eric, an electronic magician who has an act where he makes a robot teleport across the tent.  Coco, narrowly escaping plots against him, flees to Cornwall with Eric.

Here they raise funds to build a replica pirate ship, which is also an airship so they can travel back in time to fight real pirates.
The crew consists of Victorian men who want to fight without any repercussions. It’s a ‘Fight Club’, but with a twist or twenty.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jane Yates – Author

To buy the book go to:

octopus pirate – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – frogkisser! (Garth Nix)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So I have a wee bit of an obsession with Garth Nix and his wonderful stories.  I love him so much that he was the featured author in me first broadside.  I have read 25 of his novels.  So when I heard he was writing this fairy tale I had to have it.  Plus awesome cover:

In his “Acknowledgments” of this novel, Mr. Nix claims inspiration from “the works of Lloyd Alexander, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, and T.H. White.”  I don’t know Nicholas Stuart Gray’s work (must remedy) but I can certainly see nods to all of the other authors he listed in the story.

The story centers around Anya who is the youngest princess of the kingdom of Trallonia.  One of her sister’s suitors is transformed into a frog by their evil sorcerer step-stepfather.  In order to stop the tears and hysterics, Anya promises to turn him back into a human.  This inadvertently becomes way more complicated than originally planned thus leading Anya off on a Quest!

The subversive nature of the story is what I loved about it.  Favorites include the use of the magic carpet, Gerald the Heralds, otters transformed into people, how the army is formed, having step-stepparents, snow white, etc.  I very much enjoyed Anya as a character.  And the frogs were just delightful.

The only downside to this novel for me was the pacing.  It is a very episodic story where the heroine gets a lot of help from people she just happens to meet along the way.  Makes more sense after reading the acknowledgements but I would have preferred Anya to show a lot more initiative.  Of course Anya doesn’t really show initiative in the beginning and is a very reluctant hero who grows into her role.  But unlike many of me other Nix reads, this didn’t zing.

I am okay with that lack of zing.  This was a solid story with a lot of fun ideas and characters.  Mr. Nix continues to remain an auto-buy author.  And apparently he has a new novel coming out in October this year.  Arrrr!!!

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

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land-and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Garth Nix – Author

To buy the book go to:

frogkisser! – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List