Sailing to the Stars – empress of a thousand skies (Rhoda Belleza)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While this book was partly enjoyable, I am not sure that I would read the next in the series.  For starters, the blurb basically misleads the reader . . .

The story is supposed to be about a girl named Rhee who is the last survivor of her imperial bloodline.  She wants revenge for the death of her family and a fight to get the throne.  A soldier, Aly, is falsely accused of killing Rhee and must fight to get out the truth in order to save himself and perhaps avert a war.

It says that “Rhee and Aly are thrown together” to save the world.  Ummm they see each other across the room once in this novel.  That’s it.  I kept waiting for their paths to cross.  Perhaps in the next novel.

Well basically Rhee is a super annoying protagonist.  Her method of getting revenge is subpar.  For supposedly being a badass, she basically jumps into everything with no thought and stumbles from one place to another.  She doesn’t have a real plan.  Her take on revenge is juvenile and she seems to have no inkling of how to be an empress or desire to be one.  She does not even appear to be willing to fight for herself.  She expects everyone to help her.

Aly on the other hand was the highlight of this novel.  He has the second POV.  I loved many of his chapters.  The fact that he has a robot buddy didn’t hurt.  He uses his brain, meets cool people on his travels, and doesn’t whine.  I wish the whole book was about him and his friend Kara.  Rhee could disappear and I think the story would improve.  He might be worth reading the second book for . . .

The plot itself had some extremely predictable points.  In addition, time jumps between chapters and POV with no real explanation of logistics.  The number of pods the characters steal without being caught (or even chased) sort of belied a feasible reality.  In fact the world-building and planets seemed rather lackluster.  As did the tech.  Though there was an exceptionally cool ship made of organic matter that I loved.  The book needed more fun details like that.

Again, I didn’t hate it.  I just did not think the world or tech or characters were anything new or stunning.  I think if ye never read a space opera yarn then this may be a book to lure readers into the genre.  But for me it was just an okay trip.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

To visit the author’s publisher’s website go to:

Rhoda Belleza – Author

To buy this novel to go:

empress of a thousand skies – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Broadside No. 12 – Kate Elliot

Ahoy there me mateys!  Welcome to the twelfth broadside – the Kate Elliott edition.  She has written over 25 novels.  I have read 12 of them – 3 complete series and two partial series that are still being written.  I loved all of these novels though I have me favorites.

Please note: All book descriptions are taken directly from the author’s website and the book title links lead to Goodreads.

Jaran series

This is the series that made me fall in love with the author.  I got it from a library back in the day.  The item that struck me most in this novel was how strong the main character, Tess Soerensen, was.  This was back when finding strong female protagonists in sci-fi wasn’t the easiest.  The world building was exquisite.  Even though it is a sci-fi, the Jaran culture is seemingly primitive in nature.  I love this exploration of the various cultures.  And all of the novels in this series are available in an e-omnibus format.  So win!

The series blurb by the author:

The Novels of the Jaran (1: Jaran, 2: An Earthly Crown, 3: His Conquering Sword, 4: The Law of Becoming) are science fiction with elements of planetary romance and space opera blended into my long time interest in anthropology and the study of how empires rise, sustain themselves, and fall. I flippantly call the first book Jane Austen meets Genghis Khan, in a society that is not a matriarchy but in which women have real authority, both public and private, within their specific spheres of influence. The later books become deeply involved with conquest, politics, and family dynamics both in the less technological cultures of the planet Rhui and in a larger systems-spanning empire in space. Some readers have complained that the first volume is too much like a romance. Hmmm. But don’t worry, there are major battles as well. Hope that helps.

So next was the crossroads series which begins with:

spirit gate

This is hands down me favorite series.  It revolves around the story of Mai and Captain Anji but is so much more.  The main thing that I adore is the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles.  Add in magical guardian spirits, awesome world building, epic scope, and political intrigue and I was hooked.  The story is told from multiple points of view and I love the characters.  The plot is awesome and the books don’t always go where ye might want them to.  Which is why some readers have issues with this one.  But I loved every turn and thought the ending was perfect.

The book blurb:

For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians’ power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.
A haunting tale of people swept up by the chaos of war, this is superlative fantasy adventure, rich in texture, filled with color and excitement, masterfully crafted by a brilliantly gifted storyteller.”
Then there is the spiritwalker trilogy of which the first book is:

cold magic

This is me least favorite series but not by much.  This is told in first person and Cat makes for a lovely main character.  I loved the world building as usual and thought the first book was amazing.  It’s a alternate history retelling with magic and science.  It has a strong female friendship.  I adore Cat’s relationship with Rory.  He is awesome.  I even love the lawyers!  A wasn’t a fan of the Wild Hunt aspects overall which is why me enjoyment of the later two books was not as high.

The author’s series blurb:

My most recently completed series is the Spiritwalker Trilogy (1: COLD MAGIC, 2: COLD FIRE, 3: COLD STEEL). It is the first novel sequence I wrote in first person, and if you like the distinctive voice of the narrator, Cat Barahal, then it’s likely you’ll enjoy the book. Cat is loyal and impulsive and rash and stubborn and has a tendency to leap before she looks. This is definitely my funniest series, due largely to Cat’s unique way of telling her story and her colorful and often sardonic observations of other people.

I love writing interplay between characters and this trilogy definitely contains some of my best bantering exchanges. It’s a story with female friendship at the center (and what I’m told is a memorable love interest), as well as a fantasia of a gaslamp-era alternate history whose ramifications I’m rather proud of. I call the setting Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk fantasy adventure, with Phoenician spies, revolution, and lawyer dinosaurs. It starts a little slow as I set up the world but on the other hand I suspect “starting a little slow” is typical of my work on the whole.

And then there are the series that are works in progress like:

court of fives

This is Kate Elliott’s first young adult series.  I have read the first one and I loved it.  Strong female characters.  A tournament called The Fives.  Awesome.  I haven’t got around to the second yet even though it is out.  The conclusion is out in July 2017.

The author’s series blurb:

My next newest book is also my debut YA fantasy, COURT OF FIVES: In a world of magic and peril, four sisters try to make a difficult transition to adulthood in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege. Fierce, determined Jes wants nothing more than to make her mark in the most popular game in the country, but disaster is about to strike her family, one that will bring her into stunning contact with her long-buried heritage.

I call this this “Little Women meet American Ninja Warrior in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt” while the publisher has pitched it as “Little Women meets Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games.” It’s fast-paced (it has to be, because it’s YA) and my most streamlined world building without, I hope, losing any of the depth and complexity I try to convey. As a woman who started participating in athletics as a girl, I wanted to write a love letter to female athletes and their competitiveness and drive, and I have adored the idea of competitive obstacle courses long before American Ninja Warrior or Tough Mudders and Spartan Runs came on the scene. This trilogy is my way of tossing my love for epic fantasy, sports, and girls in central roles all into one swirling story of intrigue, action, and a touch of romance.

the black wolves

To quote me own review of the first book of the series:

This wonderful novel is set in the Hundred. It is a new trilogy that begins twenty-two years after where her previous Crossroads series ended. If you have not read the Crossroads series first, then I suggest you do because it sets up the political wrangling and world-building that then sets the stage for this novel. The series is damn good besides.

So that be me introduction to Kate Elliott.  If ye haven’t read any of her novels I would suggest ye hoist those sails and get moving!

Don’t know where to start?  Check out the author’s “Where Should I Start With Your Novels?

To visit her website go to:

Kate Elliott – Author

To see a complete list of all books she has written visit:

Kate Elliott – Books

To add this author or her novels to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

If ye want to see me other author broadsides:

Garth Nix – No. 1

Sharon Shinn – No. 2

John Scalzi – No. 3

Tamora Pierce – No. 4

Brandon Sanderson – No. 5

Robin McKinley – No. 6

Michael Crichton – No. 7

Mercedes Lackey – No. 8

Dean Kootnz – No. 9

Justine Larbalestier – No. 10

Neil Gaiman – No. 11

Broadside No. 12 – an author advertisement

Hear ye hear ye me mateys!  I announce an additional broadside to me Captain’s log.  What is a broadside ye ask?  Traditionally:

  1. A broadside is the side of a ship, the battery of cannon on one side of a warship; or their coordinated fire in naval warfare. From the 16th century until the early decades of the steamship, vessels had rows of guns set in each side of the hull. Firing all guns on one side of the ship became known as a “broadside“. source
  2. A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Historically, broadsides were posters, announcing events or proclamations, or simply advertisements. source

What does this mean for me mateys?  Well tomorrow I will publish the twelfth edition of me broadside that will highlight a specific favorite author and their work.  Who ye ask?  It’s a surprise . . .

The Captain’s Log – rider’s revenge (Alessandra Clarke)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Older members of me crew may remember that before I gave me heart to the sea, I had an obsession with horses.  I read a myriad of pony books and so every now and again me soft spot for these types of stories leads me back to the equine world.  When I discovered this young adult novel involving a strong female rider I gave it a shot.  Plus this cover:

Pretty no?  Unfortunately while there be enjoyment in reading this novel, there be some many flaws as well.  Let’s look on the bright side first . . .

  • Horses.  The main horse in this novel was Fallion.  He is a special breed called an Amalanee.  Loyal, loving, speedy, strong, and special.  What’s not to like?  And he may or may not have special powers.
  • Strong female protagonist.  K’Irsa is a member of a nomadic tribe of horse loving people.  She can ride and shoot with the best of them.  She is loyal to her family and has morals.  I always like that.
  • Wonderful parent.  K’Irsa’s father is an encouraging, loving parent.  He loves his daughter even though she doesn’t not fit in the traditional tribal roles.  He facilitates her independence and pushes her to succeed.
  • Lodie.  This woman was a fun side character.  I enjoyed her very much and wish the book would have been her story instead.  Snarky, intelligent, and determined.  Yup.
  • Revenge.  I rather enjoyed the ramifications of getting revenge in this story.  Not the plot of the revenge itself but some of the ideas about what the consequences of fighting for revenge can be and what it can do to the person out to get it.
  • Moon and Sun stones.  I enjoyed the magic of these items.  But sadly they didn’t really play a huge enough part in the novel.

The not so good . . .

  • Horses.  Yes I know I picked the book for the ponies.  There were just not enough of them in the book.  Basically the horses only matter in the beginning of the story and the very end.  I wished that Fallion was central to the entire story.  Also I did not buy the story of how K’Irsa got him.
  • The female protagonist.  She may be strong and intelligent but she doesn’t always use her brain.  She can be impulsive.  K’Irsa likes to whine about how hard her life is despite her special treatment.  She is also rather naive about the world and the darker side of human nature.  Her internal monologue became rather wearisome.  She is a bit too much of a special snowflake.
  • The love story.  Ugh.  I rather hated it.  The two lovers first meet in a dream and are instant soul mates.  Sigh.  Of course when they meet, the cliches abound.  I did like the idea that the perfect dream lovers have major issues in real life but the plot twists concerning their relationship were just annoying and rather disheartening.  Obviously K’Irsa’s lover cannot be perfect if he can treat her like he does.  And she just sighs, justifies, and forgives him.  Because he can change!  No thanks.
  • The setting.  Basically there be the desert horse tribe and the city folk.  The city folk are evil and ignorant and commerce driven.  Okay fine.  But what was not fine in me world was that the city and politics seemed to be based on every cliche of Muslim society but worse.  The women are veiled, are property, and have no rights.  The Daliph’s harem, I mean Doranas, literally have their fingers encased in finger traps, wear metal corsets so they can’t really move, and have servants that have to feed, bathe, do everything for them.  They cannot eat or even shit without a man helping them.  And it’s considered a privilege.
  • The plot.  Ugh I am sorry but writing the last paragraph just made me more grumpy about the book as I wrote those thoughts out.  And if the setting bothered me, the plot was horrendous .  The strong female protagonist pretty much makes no major choices of her own.  Even the Gods give her directions at the beginning.  She actually tries to do the training to be a regular Dorana.  The justification is revenge.  The actuality is that most of the book finds her trapped in a room letting everyone dictate her life and thinking that it can be justified or okay in any circumstance.  I have to admit that I don’t like reliving the details of this.

So basically even though I got the next book in the series, I am not sure if I am going to read it . . . despite the cool ponies.  It is a novel that I seem to dislike more and more with reflection.  Some cool concepts.  Just not me type of execution.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

K’lrsa is a Rider for the White Horse Tribe who sets out to avenge the brutal murder of her father but finds herself in a society very different from the one she’s known. She also finds that revenge isn’t near as simple as she thought it would be and that she’ll have to choose between killing the man she thinks is responsible and being with the man she loves.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Alessandra Clarke – Author

To buy the novel go to:

rider’s revenge – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts – run (Blake Crouch)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Me introduction to this author was the novel dark matter, which I highly enjoyed.  So when a local library had a copy of this standalone thriller, I snagged it.

While this novel was fast and fun it also felt rather average.  The plot of the novel is that normal American citizens are going crazy and homicidal.  One family, the Colcloughs, are determined to stay together and survive.  So they run.  I mean, I know that is the title, but basically they run the entire book.

The novel started off with an interesting prologue and then a lovely set-up.  Then of course the author messed with me expectations in a good way with some loverly plot twists.  And kept it up for about half the book.  Then the pace slowed down and became less interesting.  How many improbable situations can this family survive?  Apparently all of them.

The main characters Jack and Dee were both kinda stupid in the beginning in terms of their takes on life and each other.  Both did improve in the book which was nice.  The kids, Cole and Naomi, were portrayed rather well except that they were mostly used as narrative device to kept the parents focused.  I mean the kids slept through so much action it seemed absurd.  I wanted the whole family to contribute to the quest for survival.  I know Cole was seven but there have to be useful seven year olds.  I like to think that I was helpful at that end and not only a hindrance.

And the description for why the Americans went crazy was kinda lame.  However there was a twist at the end that I rather liked.  Overall it was a good reading experience and I am willing to read another Crouch book.  I just think this one was okay.

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

Picture this: A landscape of American genocide…

5 days ago
A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…
Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected.
A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike.
A mass of school shootings.
Prison riots of unprecedented brutality.
Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state.

4 days ago
The murders increased ten-fold…

3 days ago
The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…

2 days ago
The killers began to mobilize…

Yesterday
All the power went out…

Tonight
They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours.

Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more.

You only have time to….

R U N

To visit the author’s website go to:

Blake Crouch – Author

To buy the book go to:

run – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the weaver (Emmi Itaranta)

Ahoy there me mateys!  After I read this Finnish author’s debut novel, memory of water, I knew I had to read her next book when it came out.  And while I enjoyed her first novel more, there was a lot to be enjoyed in this one as well.

The world building in this novel was wonderful.  The story takes place on an island where everything is deeply regimented.  One of the main rules is that dreaming is not allowed.  It is treated like the plague and if discovered to be a Dreamer then the person is thrown into House of the Tainted never to be seen again.

There are other Houses like the House of Words and the House of Webs.  Our main character, Eliana, lives in the House of Webs and weaves.  She has secrets, among them being able to read and also being a dreamer.  She tries to stay invisible and safe in her structured world.  Then one day she discovers an injured girl, Valeria, who happens to have Eliana’s name tattooed on her palm.  Eliana can’t help but be drawn into the mystery.  As Eliana begins to become closer to Valeria, will she give up her safety and worldview to solve the puzzle?

The relationship between Valeria and Eliana is one of the highlights of the book for me.  Their connection is slow burning but wonderful and kept me avidly reading.  While not the focus of the book, their relationship drives the story.  It was sweet and endearing.  I also enjoyed the loving relationship between Eliana and her brother Janos.  There is also a kick ass healer whom I adored too.

The details in this novel were as stunning at the ones in the author’s first novel.  The circumstances and explanations of the tattoos were fun.  The glimpses into the other Houses felt realistic and left me wanting to know more about the purposes of them all.  I adored how the island would flood.  Those descriptions were so vivid and stark.  This author’s writing feels magical.

While I loved the world the author created, I did have some issues with the dreaming aspects of the novel.  The dreaming is very fantastical and even though there is an explanation for why dreaming is dangerous, I didn’t really love it.  The ending of the novel in particular seemed extremely odd.  I wouldn’t say that I hated it.  It just left me sort of confused.

Despite that I did find this novel thought-provoking and am glad I read it.  I will be reading whatever this author produces next.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Eliana is a model citizen of the island, a weaver in the prestigious House of Webs. She also harbors a dangerous secret—she can dream, an ability forbidden by the island’s elusive council of elders. No one talks about the dreamers, the undesirables ostracized from society.

But the web of protection Eliana has woven around herself begins to unravel when a young girl is found lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the stones outside the house. Robbed of speech by her attackers, the only clue to her identity is one word tattooed in invisible ink across her palm: Eliana. Why does this mysterious girl bear her name? What links her to the weaver—and how can she hold Eliana’s fate in her hand?

As Eliana finds herself growing closer to this injured girl she is bound to in ways she doesn’t understand, the enchanting lies of the island begin to crumble, revealing a deep and ancient corruption. Joining a band of brave rebels determined to expose the island’s dark secrets, Eliana becomes a target of ruthless forces determined to destroy her. To save herself and those she loves, she must call on the power within her she thought was her greatest weakness: her dreams.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emmi Itaranta – Author

To buy this novel to go:

the weaver – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

memory of water (The Captain’s Log – Fantasy)

The Captain’s Log – scythe (Neal Shusterman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This cover and its title drew me in:

Isn’t that gorgeous?  So of course I had to know what it was about.  Turns out that Earth, with the help of a super computer, has no natural death, hunger, disease, war, etc.  But because the population still needs to be controlled, there are human scythes whose job it is to choose who will die.- within certain rules and parameters of course.

The story concerns Citra and Rowan, two teens, who are chosen to be trained as apprentice scythes.  Neither of them wants the job but both say yes for assorted reasons.  The catch is that only one of them will be chosen to advance as a scythe.  But each apprentice has to decide if they truly want the job as well as try to pass the appropriate tests..

The world and characters that the author set up were extremely interesting.  I liked the various scythes and how each chooses to approach the work.  I love the weird super computer.  I enjoyed both Citra and Rowan’s stories.  I thought the introduction to both of those characters as well as to their master scythe were especially well done and engaging.  There are a lot of lovely details that made this version of Earth come alive for me.

The flaw in the reading was in the plot.  The first half flew by and then the story seemed to stagnate.  The middle was kinda boring and there were some plot twists that I did not like at all.  But I kept reading because I loved the overall world set-up and wanted to know how it ended.  And I highly enjoyed how the author chose to conclude this first book.  I am not sure what will happen in the second book but I do believe I will read it.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neal Shusterman – Author

To buy the book go to:

scythe – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List