On the Horizon – the stone in the skull (Elizabeth Bear)

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

the stone in the skull (Elizabeth Bear)

Title: the stone and the skull

Author: Elizabeth Bear

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

Publication Date: TOMORROW!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-0765380135

Source: NetGalley

 

The first and only book I have read up to this point by Elizabeth Bear was karen memory way back in the days before I had a blog.  And I adored it.  So when I heard she was releasing the first book in a new trilogy I just had to have it.  I starting reading this one in me bunk as day was turning to dusk and I didn’t finish it until night was turning into dawn.  No sleep for me!  But it was so worth it.  The book completely and utterly fit me mood in that moment.  I do so love when that happens.

The story starts out with two people in a caravan trying to get to their destination in order to deliver the message of utmost importance entrusted to them.  One is a brass automaton who once was human.  The other is a human called the Dead Man who was a body guard for a ruler who no longer exists.  I adored their friendship.  Later add in an odd priest and many highly unique strong female rulers.  Plus light politics, intrigue and fantastic character relationships.

The beginning was an explosive entry into the world and while the pace slowed a little after that, I was obviously engrossed.  The world building is fantastic, the characters are extremely diverse, and I couldn’t guess many of the plot twists.  The relationships between characters stood out for me and I loved getting further hints into backstories and motivations as I read.  The only small quibble that I had was there were some insta-lust-ish relationships and a sex scene that was rather abrupt and unnecessary.  I didn’t hate it but would have preferred these things to have been removed or handled differently.  That said I would recommend this book to fantasy readers and am keeping details of plot on the down low so readers can make their own journeys into the Lotus Kingdoms.  I certainly will be reading the next book in the trilogy.  I just don’t want to have to wait so long.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elizabeth Bear – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the stone in the skull – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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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!

On the Horizon – 13 minutes (Sarah Pinborough)

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

13 minutes (Sarah Pinborough)

Title: 13 minutes

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: Flatiron Books

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

ISBN: 978-1250123855

Source: NetGalley

I was perusing fer treasure as I do and I came across this.  I previously read poison and charm by this author and truly enjoyed her writing style.  So when I saw she had a young adult thriller me curiosity was piqued.  Luckily I managed to snag a copy.

The book begins with a girl in the process of drowning.  This girl, Hannah, is found by a passerby and is subsequently saved but not before being dead for 13 minutes.  She wakes with amnesia and begins to unravel how she ended up in the river and who wants her dead.  She trusts no one and so enlists the help of her former best friend, Becca, to figure out what happened.

This book kinda reminded me of the movie “Mean Girls” with some murder mystery thrown it.  The chapters in the novel changed perspectives though the majority of it is told through Becca’s point of view.  Add in a sprinkling of text messages and other documents that give the reader clues that add excitement but certainly still kept me guessing.

I found meself enthralled with this book.  I read this in one evening and actually stayed up into the wee hours of the morn readin’ in me bunk because I had to know how it ended.  It was a bit of a roller coaster actually.  I found meself changing me mind about the perpetrator, which girl involved I sympathized with the most, which girl I wanted to stab through with me cutlass, etc.

One of me favorite bits was the tie-in to the crucible because I stage managed the show back in the day and therefore am very familiar with it.  The layering of those themes was lovely.  What made this a slightly less fun story was the last chapter which annoyed me and an “aha” moment that involved a grownup reminiscing.  I was however entertained by the teens perspectives on how useless grown-ups were.  I am very glad I never had friends that nasty or teenage apathy and angst that strong.

In any case, this was a super fun read that was outside of me normal young adult fantasy and sci-fi fare.  I certainly will read more of this author’s work.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Flatiron Books!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Sarah Pinborough – Author

To buy the novel go to:

13 minutes – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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

On the Horizon – the emperor and the maula (Robert Silverberg)

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

the emperor and the maula (Robert Silverberg)

Title: the emperor and the maula

Author: Robert Silverberg

Publisher: Subterranean Press

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

ISBN: 978-1596068452

Source: NetGalley

The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

  1. It is a retelling of the Scheherazade tale with alien conquerors;
  2. It is a Subterranean press book and they do great work; and
  3. It discussed the author Robert Silverberg’s genius and I didn’t know who he was . . .

The fact that it was a sci-fi Scheherazade tale would have been enough in and of itself.  And this book was a wonderful one.  Our Scheherazade, Laylah Walis, is a human from Earth.  Earth has been conquered by an alien race.  She travels to the forbidden city of Haraar which she knows is punishable by death.  Her goal is to meet the emperor.  But for what purpose?

Of course the fun of this tale is that the reader is learning Laylah’s story at the same time that the emperor is.  She certainly is a compelling character and her stories sped along.  The cliffhangers at the end of each night’s tale bothered me as much as the emperor.  I needed to know more!  The only downside is that by the end of the book, I could have listened to many more of Laylah’s stories.  The ending was good but I still need more!

As for the author, I learned from sandy @ fantasyliterature‘s review of this novel several amazing facts.  Apparently Mr. Silverberg is the author of no fewer than “78 sci-fi novels, almost 450 short stories and novellas, around 70 books of nonfiction, and around 185 novels of, um, “adult fiction,” in addition to having edited over 130 anthologies.”  Talk about prolific!  He is currently 82 years old.  Goodreads says that he has won 5 Hugos and 5 Nebulas.  Also he is a 2004 Grand Master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  Sheesh!

I am regretful that I didn’t know about him before but am delighted to have remedied that fact.  If ye be not familiar with this author then mayhaps ye should pick this book up.  I certainly enjoyed the foray.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robert Silverberg – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the emperor and the maula – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections of a Banned Book – the witch of blackbird pond (Elizabeth George Spears)

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 year and thus created this 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 . . .

the witch of blackbird pond – Elizabeth George Spears

This being Banned Books Week and having just finished a historical fiction about witchcraft in England, I thought it be high time to read the beloved favorite. I reread this in one delightful sitting.

This book is a young adult historical fiction about a girl named Katherine, i.e. Kit, who is forced to leave her home in Barbados and move to Connecticut to live with her Aunt and Uncle.  She goes from a care-free rich island lifestyle to a hard-working Puritan one in America.  It is a tale about growing up, change, and family.  And it has witchcraft.  Or better yet it doesn’t.

The two people accused of witchcraft in the book are not witches.  However this book has been banned because of promoting witchcraft and violence.  Huh?  What is shown instead are the consequences of gossiping, fear, and ignorance.  The book dispels the notions of witchcraft using proper proof.  Instead the book promotes hard work, good relationships, and education.  I find the idea of banning this book to be ludicrous.

The book certainly stood up to the passage of time and I found meself happily rediscovering old details that had been clouded over.  Kit is strong, intelligent, and above all changes for the better.  The other characters are equally well drawn and compelling.  I love that Kit is challenged over her ideas of politics, religion, slavery, and class.  It is still fast paced and engrossing.  The love and friendships and bonds formed by Kit and her family and neighbors made me happy.  I also think credit goes to this novel for teaching me to call kittens “tiny balls of fluff.”  I believe that it completely deserved winning the Newbery Medal of Honor.

If ye haven’t read this one then hoist those sails and get moving!

The back of me very old copy of the novel has this to say:

Kit Tyler knew, as she gazed for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home would never be like the shimmering Caribbean islands she left behind.  She was like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world.  And in the stern Puritan community of her relatives, she soon felt caged as well, and lonely.  In the meadows, the only place where she could feel completely free, she meets another lone and mysterious figure, the old woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond.  But when their friendship is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger.  She herself is accused of witchcraft!

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Elizabeth George Spears – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the witch of blackbird pond – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts – the witchfinder’s sister (Beth Underdown)

Ahoy there mateys!  Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.  Here is a very good historical fiction:

the witchfinder’s sister (Beth Underdown)

One standard “non-standard for me” genre is historical fiction.  While I love history by itself, I enjoy historical fiction for the blending of history and getting to feel like the historical characters are real people.  I mean, I know many of the historical characters in historical fiction books were real people, as that is the point.  But I like the idea of knowing what they may have thought about the strange circumstances they found themselves in – especially if it involves women’s perspectives.

This story is told from the perspective of Alice Hopkins.  Tragedy forces Alice to go back to stay with her brother whom she left under less than ideal circumstances.  However, when she goes back she does not find the brother that she remembers.  Matthew Hopkins has gone from a nobody to one of the most important figures in the village.  Why?  Because he is determined to hunt down all the witches.

Matthew Hopkins (link to Wikipedia) is the actual historical personage in this novel.  He is credited with having helped kill over 300 women in the period from 1644 to 1646.  Some believe that is over 60% of all “witches” killed in over three centuries.  And he did that in just over TWO years.  Ugh.  He seems to even have given himself the title of “Witch-Finder General.”  Here is what this horrible man might have looked like:

 

Apparently he also wrote a book called “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647 wherein this was the frontispiece showing witches’ familiars:

Matthew Hopkins’ book was later used in law texts and to help catch witches located in the the United States, including Salem.

While there is no historical record concerning his sisters, Matthew Hopkins likely had two.  I thought telling the story from a sister’s perspective was excellent.  Alice was able to give her perspective on the women she knew who had been accused, life as a woman at the time, and how women actively participated in the accusations and torture of the “witches.”  Even though women were seen as technically inferior and beneath men, their pettiness and gossip could be power in and of itself,  and some of them used it.

I thought Alice’s story was disheartening and compelling.  Every relationship shown was fraught with subtext and peril.  In fact, the histories of all the characters were rich and in depth.  The pace, while slow, was filled with tension and confusion about what was going to happen next.  Even though it seems crazy that witch hunts existed then, I am reminded that they still occur today in some places of the world.

Overall this was a fantastic book that I am glad I read.  I am grateful fer me crew member’s review that brought me to this story.  Check it out at:

crystal @ lostinagoodbook

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

“It has been waiting in the dark, Matthew’s history – our history.  Now I must turn over the stone: that you might see it, wriggling to escape.”

1645. When Alice Hopkins’s husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?

And what choice will Alice make when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Beth Underdown – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the witchfinder’s sister – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List