Shiver me Timbers! A Sad Day . . .

It is with a very heavy heart that I announce the flag will be flying at half mast today.  Only a short while ago, I introduced y’all to the newest members of me crew.  This morning after a gallant and courageous fight, we lost our lovely Junius Brutus i.e. “J.B.”, swab.  Though she be but little she be fierce.

While “Admiral” Hezekiah is the brash and crazy challenger who barrels into everything, J.B. was the quieter calculating one of the two.  It was she who always was the first to explore a new situation.  It was she who cunningly got herself in and out of scrapes.  She took a while to warm up to ye but was loyal and stalwart if ye earned her trust.  Above all she was always purring.

What the First Mate and I learned today was that J.B. was more amazing then we even knew.  She apparently had a spinal condition since birth that she didn’t let stop her.  As she was growing the pain became worse.  And yet she never complained.  It just finally became too much and caused her to fall out of the rigging without warning which further damaged the vertebra in her back.  She couldn’t use her back legs any longer.

Even then she be me fierce and determined fuzzy mate.  She did not want to give up.  Even in all that pain, she purred every moment that we had left with her.  Hezekiah was there by his sister’s side with encouragement and kisses for as long as he could be.  Me little kitten with the big heart had to let go of this world fer a bigger adventure where we couldn’t follow.

We were with her until the end.  She put her head on the First Mate’s head to comfort him and I held her until she let go.  She purred until the last second.  Ye see we may have only known J.B. for 69 days but that time was truly a treasure.  Nothing in the world would make me give up the time I had with her even though the hole in me heart be a grave one.

I know that time will cause me heart to scar and that I will survive but I wish more than anything that I could hear her purr forever.  Ye will be mightly missed J.B.  We will continue to look after yer crazy brother, Hezekiah as ye would have wished.  We will try our best.  We will love ye always.  So raise yer grog towards this beloved crew member.  I just know that I will always be looking to hear her purr in the wind . . .

Junius Brutus i.e. “J.B.”, swab

In honor of J.B., one last smile

Always remember:

Q: Who is the pirate’s favorite cat?

A: Gaaarrrrrrfield!

Hardy har har!!

x The Captain

The Captain’s Log – the outsiders (S.E. Hinton)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Me nephew recommended this one to me.  It happens to be one of his summer vacation reads.  He said it was both very good and short. This amounts to a very high recommendation from him.  So I thought I would give it a shot even though I didn’t know what it was about.  I thought it was a sci-fi judging just by the title.  Nope.  It’s a young adult coming of age story.

I have to say that overall I thought this was highly compelling.  It involves Ponyboy (yes, really) who belongs to a gang of “greasers.”  He is being raised by his older brothers.  His gang fights with the Socs (pronounced SOSH-es) who are the rich boys from the other side of town.  The thing is, Ponyboy is only fourteen, rather intelligent, and sensitive.  As the fighting ratchets up, there are some serious consequences that cause Ponyboy to mature and change his view on life.

This book gave me the feel of catcher in the rye or a separate peace even though the circumstances and writing of the three are very different.  Perhaps it is because they were written around the same decade.  Of those three, I do prefer a separate piece.  That said, the outsiders has some truly memorable characters and some very heartwarming relationships.  It grabbed me attention and didn’t let go until the final page.

I found Ponyboy to be a loving, thoughtful, and rather insightful person.  Even though he hangs out with “hoods,” he isn’t quite one of them.  He watches sunsets, reads books, and doesn’t mind being a loner most of the time.  I particularly loved his relationship with Johnny.  It was sweet and sorrowful.  Actually Johnny was a mascot for the whole gang in a good way.  Though Johnny’s life was particularly hard, his friends cherished him despite their hard exteriors.  This allowed for the reader to see the gang’s softer side.

While the plot is engaging, it is Ponyboy’s commentary and viewpoints that are the foundation of the enjoyment of the book.  I can see why it is considered a classic and I be grateful to me nephew for recommending this one.  So I pass along the recommendation to me crew . . .

Side note:  I did not know that this novel was written by a sixteen year old girl back in 1967.  She received the contract for the book on graduation day.  Cool, huh?  Also I have never seen the movie though it has quite the cast.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

To visit the author’s website go to:

S.E. Hinton – Author

To buy the book go to:

the outsiders – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – age of swords (Michael J. Sullivan)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings.  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, age of myth, 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 . . .

age of swords (Michael J. Sullivan)

Title: age of swords

Author: Michael J. Sullivan

Publisher: Del Ray

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

ISBN:     978-1101965368

Source: NetGalley

So I be lucky again!  Arrrr!  Ye see a ways back in time, I won me first ever book from Goodreads Giveways, which happened to be the first book in this series: age of myth.  It was also me first experience reading the works of Mr. Sullivan.  The novel was one of  the best books I read in 2016 and I adored it.  So then when I saw book two on NetGalley I requested it and the publisher said yes!  Arrrr!

The only problem was finding an uninterrupted day where I could lock meself in me cabin with the understanding that anyone who bothered me was going to be run through by me cutlass!  But of course being Captain, I recently had me heart’s desire and read this gem in one sitting.  It be first-rate.

The highlight fer me was how this story continued to portray strong female characters.  While there are side stories in this novel, the main action involved me favorite women from the first novel including, but not limited to, Suri, Persephone, Moya, Brin, Roan, and Arion.  In fact this group is a powerhouse of different strengths and talents who work together and trust each other.  Empowering and awesome.  Many of the men sit back on the sidelines arguing and accomplishing nothing.  Made me laugh.  Of course not all of the male characters are pointless.  We get to see me other male favorites like Raithe and Gifford as well.  There are a quite a few new characters introduced that I know I will enjoy discovering in later books.

The storytelling overall was full of action and the time spent reading whirled right by.  I was completely enthralled for 99.99% of the novel.  I perhaps even shed more than a few salty tears.  There were only a few quirks that made this novel slightly less fun than the first.

One was the point of view chapters of Mawyndule.  He is a hateful, spoiled, annoying brat.  While I understand his existence, his naivete and attitude made me sigh when I had to hear what was inside his head again.  I would love to make him walk the plank and then be eaten by treacherous sharks with the remainder of him sunk to the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker never to be heard from again.

The other minor problem was that a large portion of the book took place in what felt like the mines of Moria with the Balrog.  As I read that famous trilogy every year for 16 years, it took me a little bit to shake the sensation of deja vu.  I decided in me head that it was deliberate homage and got over it.  Besides even though it is an epic fantasy, the characters are me true joy and I loved watching the consequences of their choices whether it be heartbreak or growth.

This is not to say that the plot, politics, world building, magic, and other elements of the story don’t float me boat.  They did.  Plus the ending was delightfully foreshadowy.  I loved this novel and already know I want the other four.  The author suspects we might be able to get our hands on the rest of the series on an accelerated schedule.  Arrrr!

Side note: for an excellent breakdown of the different series by Michael Sullivan and his advice for reading same, check out this page on his website.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Del Ray!

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

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods? The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race With time running out, Persephone leads a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Michael J. Sullivan – Author

To buy the novel go to:

age of myth – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the fifth doll (Charlie N. Holmberg)

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

the fifth doll (Charlie N. Holmberg)

Title: the fifth doll

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Publisher: 47North (47North is the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror imprint of Amazon Publishing, the full-service publishing arm of Amazon)

Publication Date: July 25, 2017 (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781477806104

Source: NetGalley

So as usual the cover drew me in:

 

 

And the premise is quite fun.  A girl accidentally finds a room in a neighbor’s house that contains matryoshka (nesting) dolls.  The catch is that there is one painted to look like every villager.  Why is there a doll painted with her face?  This glimpse leads her to be drawn into the mystery of her neighbor Slava’s world.  He wants her to be the next caretaker of the dolls and their magic.  The catch is that for every one of her dolls that she opens, serious consequences occur that expose her to the truth she doesn’t know how to handle.

I liked the ideas in this book but unfortunately the writing does not do them justice.  The main character, Matrona, is 26 but acts like a very immature twelve year old.  She is more concerned with her worry over not being loved by her betrothed and going through with her arranged marriage then the problems of the village being controlled by Slava.  At the same time, she has a crush on another neighbor from a less prosperous family and waffles about that too.  Her naivete grew tiresome.

All of the characters seemed flat, Matrona included.  I understand magic is involved but everyone seemed like inhuman cardboard cutouts.  I would have liked full fleshed out people.

While the first two consequences of Matrona’s dolls were especially interesting, the plot was confusing overall.  There were periods of intense information dropping, especially in the beginning, and then other parts where nothing happened.  There are entire sections with Matrona wandering around the village waffling over her love life.  Her love interest falls in love with her in just a week.  Part of the action was delayed because there were 3 day gaps between opening the next doll.  The villain didn’t really do anything other than intimidate Matrona and disappears for entire sections of the book so that Matrona can do something to further the plot.

Then Matrona has a vision in Chapter 16 / 73% in and the book had a sharp decline that lasted through the end.  The explanations for the mystery of the dolls and Matrona’s decisions and methods in fighting back were so lackluster.  I was so close to the end at that point that I finished so I could see how the author chose to resolve the issues.  Again interesting concepts but poor execution.

I seem to be in the minority so far with this opinion so take it with a grain of sea salt.  If ye chose to read it, I hope ye like it far better than I.  I just know I won’t be readin’ another book by this author.

So lastly . . .

Thank you 47North!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Charlie N. Holmberg – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the fifth doll – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections – a little princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that in this here new(ish) year and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

a little princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

This was an old favorite from back when I was a wee youngster.  I am not completely sure which edition I first read but I do remember that it had the illustrations by Tasha Tudor from the 1960s (as did the secret garden).  The copy I eventually purchased had her illustrations as well:

 

I made the mistake of lending me copy many many long years back to a young lass so she could experience the magic.  And then never got it back!  I could only hope she couldn’t part with it because she loved it so.  Then earlier this year at a Friends of the Library sale, I found an excellent pristine copy and swooped it up with glee.

Then came the day to revisit this old companion.  Ye see I had not read this book since me copy was commandeered and I was looking forward to seeing if I loved it as much as me memory suggested.  The answer is an astoundingly yes!  Arrr!!

I still adore this book.  The reading had the wonderful nostalgia of rediscovering details of the story as well as the perspective of seeing Sara’s journey through me eyes of an older jaded salty dog.  I found Sara to be just as I remembered – compassionate, intelligent, and imaginative.  I still loved the secondary characters of Becky and Ermengarde.  I adored the lady who sold hot buns.  The riches to rags story still appeals heartily.  I loved Sara’s treatment of everyone in spite of her circumstances.  She is polite, hardworking, and caring.

The part I found odd was the portrayal of the role of the adults in Sara’s life.  So many people see Sara as a starving ragamuffin and yet don’t help her.  Underclass poor children are depicted as savages as though it’s their own faults that they have no money or education.  So many people outside of Ms. Minchin’s school see and comment on poor Sara’s state and yet she is not helped throughout most of the book except by a small compassionate child.  Now granted there would be no story if the adults helped her.  But it is odd that these children were left to rot.  Of course the author had her own riches to rags story growing up so I can only assume that it influences this work.

But despite the larger thoughts of child poverty, I still felt the magic of Sara’s story and gobbled up this book.  I only hope that I don’t wait so long for a re-read the next time.

Side note: I have fond memories of the 1996 movie though I haven’t seen it in forever.  And the Broadway musical sucks.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Sara Crewe’s young but doting father sends her to a London boarding school when she is seven. On her eleventh birthday her life of luxury comes to an abrupt end when she receives news that her father has died, shortly after losing his entire fortune. The school-mistress turns Sara into a servant to pay off her debts, and though Sara uses the entire force of her imagination and her good heart to remember who she is and keep starvation from the door, her life is desperate. Until the past returns in a very unexpected manner…

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Frances Hodgson Burnett – Author

To buy the novel visit:

a little princess – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – no good deed (Kara Connolly)

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

no good deed (Kara Connolly)

Title: no good deed

Author: Kara Connolly

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Delacorte Press

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

ISBN: 9780385743938

Source: NetGalley

 

So mateys, why should ye check out this book?  Because it is a fun romp of a tale about time travel and a female Robin Hood!  Sign me up.  As usual the cover first drew me interest:

Kick-ass girl with bow?  Sign me up.  I also like the target vibe going on.  And I am so glad I read it.  It is light and silly and fun watching Ellie set the Robin Hood myth into action.  I thought she was a great character – spunky and intelligent.

The secondary characters of Sir Henry and Sir James were fun to read about also.  I enjoyed their animosity towards each other.  Another great character was the young boy, Much, who helpfully is related to practically everyone in Nottingham and surrounding environs.  He is also sweet and endearing.  Eleanor of Aquitane also makes an appearance too.

I had a few problems with the book that stemmed from the anachronistic elements of the story that the other characters seemed to just accept.  Ellie being a girl for one.  I suspended disbelief for this one.  Other things like sneakers and passports I had slightly more problems with.  But overall, once I stopped being so critical, I found even this silliness to be enjoyable.

Oh and also I learned an awesome fact from reading this book – where the word sheriff comes from – “shire-reeve”  Further research led me to this fact:  “The Anglo-Saxon word for chief was gerefa, later shortened to reeve. During the next two centuries, groups of hundreds banded together to form a new, higher unit of government called the shire. The shire was the forerunner of the modern county. Each shire had a chief (reeve) as well, and the more powerful official became known as a shire-reeve. The word shire-reeve became the modern English word sheriff – the chief of the county. The sheriff maintained law and order within his own county with the assistance of the citizens.” source

I have to admit that I kept picturing the sheriff in this novel to be Alan Rickman’s version in Robin Hood: Price of Thieves.  Because Alan Rickman makes everything better.  Anyways if ye want a quick paced retelling then give this one a try . . .

Side note:  The author has a fun post showing showing photos and telling stories from her trip to THE Nottingham.  Ye should check it out by clicking here.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House / Delacorte Books!

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

Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Kara Connolly – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

no good deed – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – equus (Rhonda Parrish)

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

equus (Rhonda Parrish)

Title: equus

Authors: Rhonda Parrish (Editor), J.G. Formato (Contributor), Diana Hurlburt (Contributor), Tamsin Showbrook (Contributor), Laura VanArendonk Baugh (Contributor), VF LeSann (Contributor), Dan Koboldt (Contributor), J.J. Roth (Contributor) , Susan MacGregor (Contributor), Pat Flewwelling  (Contributor), Angela Rega (Contributor), Michael Leonberger (Contributor), Sandra Wickham (Contributor), Stephanie A. Cain (Contributor), Cat McDonald (Contributor), Andrew Bourelle (Contributor), Chadwick Ginther (Contributor), K.T. Ivanrest (Contributor), Jane Yolen (Contributor), M.L.D. Curelas (Contributor)

Publisher: World Weaver Press

Publication Date: July 18, 2017 (paperback and e-book)

ISBN: 978-0998702209

Source: NetGalley

This was a short story collection that I requested because it was about me first love of ponies before the sea stole me heart.  And it had a story by Jane Yolen.  I was super busy and needed something that I could easily pick up and put down at whim.  So I figured that this would float me boat.  Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time wanting to put this down and never pick it up again.  Out of the 19 stories, I ended up readin’ 7.  Actually I would have thought more given how long readin’ this felt but 7 is what came up when I just counted.  So here be me thoughts on the 7:

“stars, wings, and knitting things” (J.G. Formato)

The first story of this collection was certainly interesting.  I loved the main character, Annie.  She was quirky, funny, and not at all what I expected.  It involves knitting.  I loved her banter and her husband’s responses.  I thought this was a great first story if very unusual.  Can’t explain more than that.

“eel and bloom” (Diana Hurlburt)

This was overall by far me favorite story of the batch.  It was about a young girl named Bea who races limerunners (“native Floridian cousin to the Scottish kelpie” source) at the local racetrack after dark.  These horses have to be kept near water.  They also have to be kept with care because they are carnivorous, nasty, and kill.  Bea’s mother makes a bet with her daughter’s future as a consequence.  The outcome of the night’s race has never been more important.  The ending was perfect.  I would love to read future tales of Eel and Bea.

“a complete mare” (Tasmin Showbrook)

This is a story concerning half-breeds of Gods.  Odin especially.  I didn’t like this story at all.  The story was confusing and the main character, Verity, made some really bizarre and crazy choices.  I did like her transformations but it wasn’t enough to make me care about the characters or the world.  Also the story seemed like a chapter picked out of a larger narrative.

“neither snow, nor rain, nor heat-ray” (M.L.D. Curelas)

This was actually was even more confusing then the previous story as crazy as that seemed to me when reading.  This story takes place in London in 1900 five days after the alien invasion.  The aliens are these weird tripods.  There is a Moreauvian named Fletcher with special powers.  I didn’t understand where these people came from.  I didn’t understand what happened at the end and what was learned.  I did like the main character, Emma and her horse, Beezus.  But mostly I was just confused.  Again it seemed like it was a chapter pulled out of a larger work and it was poorer for it.

“rue the day” (Laura VanArendonk Baugh)

This was an amazing concept, characters, world, and plot at first.  This deals with war bands that fight with unicorns in a medieval like setting.  I adored Galyne and her unicorn Nova.  This was exactly fitting me mood and I was reading with pure delight.  Then came the plot twist and it soured.  It involves a trigger for many people and I was so sad that the author chose to take it there.  I thought good points were made in the circumstances that were presented and I even thought the author handled the conclusions well.  However, I would have preferred a very different direction.  In fact I would love this story to be expanded so I can get more of Galyne and the world.  Mixed feelings on this one but disappointment lingers.

“riders in the sky” (V.F. LeSann)

This story felt like a western wrapped up with ghosts and magic horses.  I loved the world and the main characters of the Rider and her horse, Peregrine.  This was an engaging story but overall seemed like we are missing too much backstory.  The story did have a clear beginning and ending but overall there were just too many unanswered questions.  Highly engaging though.

“a glory of unicorns” (Jane Yolen)

This was the reason I picked up this book and then I read it and was sad.  It’s a very short poem and not really a story at all.  I didn’t hate the poem.  I just wanted something along the lines of “a plague of unicorns” which I reviewed here.

So I loved one, partially liked three, hated two, and thought one was a tease.  Ultimately many of the stories felt incomplete and unsatisfactorily.  I am glad I read it for the parts I liked but when I began reading the next story, I realized I didn’t want to spend more time reading it.  I am not sure I will ever finish it.  For me it was a mixed bag but perhaps ye will like it more.  All I know is that I am glad I picked it up because of the joy that was reading about Eel and Bea.

 

So lastly . . .

Thank you World Weaver Press!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

There’s always something magical about horses, isn’t there? Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through these pages span the fantasy spectrum. In one story a woman knits her way up to the stars and in another Loki’s descendant grapples with bizarre transformations while fighting for their life. A woman races on a unique horse to save herself from servitude, while a man rides a chariot through the stars to reclaim his self-worth. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom.

To buy the novel visit:

equus – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List