On the Horizon – avengers of the moon (Allen Steele)

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

avengers of the moon (Allen Steele)

Title: avengers of the moon

Author: Allen Steele

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

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

ISBN: 9780765382184

Source: NetGalley

It was the amazing old-fashioned looking cover that initially drew me eye.

Obviously sci-fi.  Retro look.  Had to check it out.  This is the story of a human guy named Curtis who lives on Earth’s moon and was raised by an unlikely trio – a robot, an android, and a disembodied brain in a drone.  Once he is grown, he finally learns the secret of who murdered his parents and sets out to get revenge.

Now the author hearkens back to the day of sci-fi pulp with modern sensibilities.  I have to admit that me knowledge of what constituted pulp was very small and practically non-existent.  What I did know was blatantly stereotypical and not worth mentioning here.  Oh and I didn’t even really understand what this novel was based on.  But the concept was fascinating and I was excited to give it a whirl.

This was fun.  The main draw for me was of course the characters.  Curt, a.k.a. Captain Future, was intelligent, loyal, honorable and a little bumbling.  Ye can’t help but like him.  His guardians were super awesome as well.  The drone holds the brain of a scientist who was friends with Curt’s parents.  He is the father-figure and defacto leader.  The smart-talking android, Otho, and the higher-than-average intelligent robot, Gage, are his friends and some-time teachers.  And then there is the smart cute girl-cop who they meet along the way.  All of them quirky in their own rights and all of them lovely to get to know.  Add in space pets and what more could ye ask for?

The plot was a little predictable but not overly so.  It wasn’t super fast paced but proceeded well.  The first part was seemingly geared to set up the world and characters and the second part to really advance the story.  The ending whizzed by.  I enjoyed the world building and the use of technology.  It was silly and dare I say slightly cheesy but so entertaining.

If this is what pulp is now . . . give me some more please.

Also I loved the author’s afterword where he explained how he was influenced to write the story.  In 1969 he read a work featuring Captain Future that was originally written in 1942.  This led me down the rabbit’s hole into the history of science fiction pulp magazines and the list of the most popular pulp writers of the various decades.  That was also enjoyable.  I didn’t even know there were that many sci-fi magazines around.

Wondering what Captain Future might look like?

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

Netgalley has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Allen Steele – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

avengers of the moon – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Please note all book covers are from Goodreads.

Abandon Ship – the pygmy dragon (Marc Secchia)

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!  I am abandoning more books this year then usual.  Sad.  Perhaps that is because I am trying new things.  In this case, this involved an old love – dragons!  By all rights I should have loved this book.  And I did sort of like it . . . up to a point.

I made it to the 63% mark before calling it quits.  The novel is split into two parts – before dragons and after dragons.  This is the story of a pygmy girl named Pip who is captured from her island and taken to be an exhibit in a zoo.  I absolutely loved the majority of the section in the zoo.  While in the zoo she makes friends with the creatures in her enclosure.  Her friendship with Hunagu was the highlight.  I loved Pip’s tenacity, intelligence, loyalty, and grit.  Her growth was lovely to watch.  She is small but fierce like me!  Arrrrr!

The problem occurs when the dragons enter the story.  I know crazy right?  I adore dragons but from the point of Pip’s leaving the zoo, the story started to go downhill for me.  I believe some of this is due to the structure of the novel.  The zoo is a small world where the scenery doesn’t really change so all of the focus was on the characters and their relationships.  I loved this character-driven section.

When Pip leaves the zoo, it is to enter the wider world.  The focus on character relationships is mostly removed and the story shifts to the overall arcing politics of the world which I simply didn’t care for.

Pip ends up in dragon school and discovers her own nature.  Hunagu disappears from huge parts of the story.  We don’t even get to delve in the nitty-gritty of the school.  It almost felt like it turned into a different book altogether at this point.  While I love dragons, I didn’t love the dragons in this book or the dragon culture.  Ah that’s saying something.  So I stopped there.

Side note: The prologue of this novel was not good at all and felt kinda horrible with cliches of jungle people and Pygmies from Australia in particular.  I should have stopped there maybe but I wanted to see how the dragons were displayed.  Sigh.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Yesterday, a Dragon kidnapped me from my cage in a zoo.

Stolen from her jungle home and sold to a zookeeper, Pip knows only a world behind bars, a world in which a Pygmy warrior and her giant ape friends are a zoo attraction. She dreams of being Human. She dreams of escaping to the world outside her cage.

Then, the Dragon Zardon kidnaps her into a new life. Pip rides Dragonback across the Island-World to her new school – a school inside a volcano. A school where Humans learn to be Dragon Riders. But this is only a foretaste of her magical destiny, for the Dragon Assassins are coming. They have floated an Island across the Rift and their aim is nothing less than the massacre of all Dragons.

Now, the courage of the smallest will be tested to the utmost. For Pip is the Pygmy Dragon, and this is her tale.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Marc Secchia – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the pygmy dragon – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – blacksouls (Nicole Castroman)

Hearty har har me mateys!  Time to hear about a fellow grand and glorious sea dog . . .

blacksouls (Nicole Castroman)

Title: blacksouls

Author: Nicole Castroman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Publication Date: April 11, 2017 (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781481491051

Source: NetGalley

If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, blackhearts, 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 . . .

So I am assuming most of me readers have heard of the fearsome Blackbeard who sailed the waters of the West Indies on the Queen Anne’s Revenge.  The first book sets up the “true” story of how Anne, a half West Indies / half English daughter of a respected merchant and the young Blackbeard (known at the time as Edward Drummond) meet and fall in love.

The second novel continues their story outside of Bristol, England and heads seaward to the Caribbean, mate!  While I loved the first book and it’s forays into Blackbeard’s beginnings and how some of the myths surrounding him started, not much of it involved the sea.  It was more of the story of how Blackbeard ending up having to go to the Caribbean.

This novel begins with Anne on the sea dealing with a dead man and continued to be a non-stop rollickin’ adventure.  I devoured this in one sitting and loved every moment.  From sea battles, to political intrigue, pirate code, treachery, and swashbucklin’, I found this to be the real pirate tale that I be cravin’.  Arrrrr!

Both Anne and Blackbeard continue to be fun characters to follow.  Feisty, spunky Anne be me favorite in particular.  Add in excellent friendships, other pirates, and what life was like in Nassau, and I be hooked.

The author continued her entertaining portrayal of what Blackbeard’s life could have been like and how he turned “pirate” so to speak.  I mean maybe it happened this way . . . who can say.  Me mateys should definitely read this.

Side note: This was the author’s second novel.  Still an excellent taste in choice of subject matter.  Brilliant job.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing!

The author’s website says this about the novel:

Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.

Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Nicole Castroman – Author

To buy this wonderful yarn visit:

blacksouls – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Walk the Plank – the bloodbound (Erin Lindsey)

Ahoy me mateys.  I am sad I actually spent me money on this book.  This book betrayed my enjoyment so it must walk the plank . . . Arrrrgh!

It has been on me list forever and I wanted so badly to read the first novel.  However, local libraries in port didn’t have the first novel (just the second!  Grrrr!).  It seemed to have all the elements of fantasy that I love:  Awesome cover, magic swords, fantastic heroine, a bit of romance, epic battles, etc.  So after hemming and hawing, I gave in and got me a copy.

To be fair, I loved the author’s characters.  The main character was a noble lady named Alix.  She is funny and resourceful and clever.  The scout, Liam was funny and sweet.  The king, Erik, commanding and charming.  Even the side characters like General Green and Kerta were likeable and fun to read about.  I loved how the various banner houses were set up.  I loved how women were respected and held high positions in the kingdom.  I even appreciated how one of the bad dudes was conflicted and yet a little more complicated than I expected.  I didn’t abandon this book because I enjoyed the characters a lot individually.

The problem was in the plot.  A spy that shows up and is just trusted for no reason.  Alix making dumb choices that went against her seeming intelligence.  Other bad dudes who have no real reason for being evil.  Complicated situations that are just fixed with almost no effort.  Magic that almost seems pointless.  And the love triangle from hell.

I liked Alix.  I liked Erik.  I liked Liam.  How this triangle was set up was fine.  It being in the book didn’t even bother me at first.  But as the triangle continued to drag on, the plot surrounding it grew more and more ridiculous.  The resolution was just plain horrible.  Personally, Alix could have ended up with either of them.  That was unusual for me and was due to the author’s characterizations.  The conflict of Alix’s choice seemed realistic enough at times.  However, the major “reveal” in the middle of the novel to how Alix makes her choice is what ruined the book for me.  That and the love story taking center stage.

I wanted more complex politics and battles, a story that didn’t get bogged down because the king broke his leg and was castle bound forever, for the magic to be better explained and used, and for problems not to be solved with a wave of the hand.  I will not be reading the rest of the series but would be willing to give the author’s next one a try if the love stuff could be toned way down and her plots tightened.

Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that it won’t float yer boat.  To see another review of this book by a member of me crew, Lynn, who liked it, visit:

Lynn’s Book Blog

I thought I would go ahead and pass this one to another member of me crew.  If you want to check out the author and see if perhaps ye have a different conclusion drop a comment on me log here.  One lucky scalawag will get a chance to perhaps disagree with me.  Sometime after sunset on the 7th, I will tally up the hopefuls and have the first mate draw a name from me hat.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Erin Lindsey – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the bloodbound – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – the exile waiting (Vonda N. McIntyre)

Ahoy there mateys!  I was first introduced to this author when I read her Nebula award-winning novel, the moon and the sun.  That one is set in the court of Louis XIV and deals with sea monsters.  Awesome.  Read long ago, that novel always made me want to read her other works.

This novel was her first and is a sci-fi published in 1975.  It was rather annoying to get a hold of because it seems to be out of print.  But I persevered and read it.  Despite some silly seeming scientific facts, it certainly was enjoyable and worth the effort.

Side note: Apparently ye can now buy many of her works in e-book form directly from her website!

The story concerns a telepathic girl named Mischa who lives in the last surviving city on Earth.  Being telepathic is not something that makes Mischa’s life easy and being discovered could easily led to her death.  In fact, the author’s take on telepathy in this novel was wonderful.  It can be useful tool but overall is primarily horrible for Mischa.  I am used to the version of telepathy in more recent novels that are seemingly effortless.

The city’s political and social structures were the highlights for me.  Slavery is a big theme in this novel but even the top citizens of the world seem to be stuck in a less than stellar environment.  Mischa of course is the plucky orphan who is trying to escape Earth.  Her goal is to get on a ship to take her and her sick, useless, but beloved brother to a new life.

Plots are failing and Mischa’s options look bleaker than ever.  When a ship lands on Earth during an off season time period and these twin brothers/clones take over the Earth, she might have one last shot at success.

With mutants, magic, clones, underground chases, excellent side characters, and thievery to boot, this novel had a cleverly setup premise and plot.  The execution left a little something to be desired in the middle of the book due to the chase scene that could have been shorter, but I loved the character relationships.  Also there are enough twists in the novel that I wasn’t always sure how it was going to end.

All I know is that I wish there were more novels about Mischa and her subsequent adventures.

Check out a review of this novel from another member of me crew:

Althea @ readingtrance

The blurb tells too much so the tagline has this to say about the novel:

For Mischa, a young telepath, life will change forever when the clone ship arrives at the last city on Earth.”

To visit the author’s website go to:

Vonda N. McIntyre – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the exile waiting – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts – furiously happy (Jenny Lawson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  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.  So today I bring ye:

furiously happy (Jenny Lawson)

Mental illness is not a laughing matter.  Well, unless ye read this book that is.  Ye see mateys, this book has a psychotic raccoon on the cover.  I picked it up because I a) heard it was funny and b) thought it was a young adult book that had something to do with silly raccoons.  No joke.

Well turns out it is a memoir by a woman named Jenny who has a lot of mental illnesses, an actual taxidermied raccoon named Rory who is the featured on the cover of this novel, and many crazy stories to share.

As the author states in her disclaimers at the beginning of the book:

This is a funny book about living with mental illness.  It sounds like a terrible combination, but personally, I’m mentally ill and some of the most hysterical people I know are as well.  So if you don’t like the book then maybe you’re just not crazy enough to enjoy it.  Either way, you win

I must be crazy because I found a lot of the stories to be laugh out loud funny.  I had to read whole sections out loud to the first mate because they were just too good not to share.  And while the situations the author finds herself in are sometimes absurd and seemingly unreal, I still found them extremely human at the same time and relatable.

Feeling unproductive as a grownup?  Check.  Being unable to sleep for long stretches at a time? Check.  Not wanting to be around people – ever?  Check.  Embracing the quirkiness of being who ye are?  Check.

Add in things that wouldn’t occur to me or haven’t happened to me like:

  • dressing up as a koala in Australia while attempting to hold koalas
  • participating in a sleep study that sounds more like a horror movie
  • leaving voicemail messages for yerself at 2:00 in the morning
  • dealing with killer cannibal swans
  • pondering how to survive the zombie apocalypse, the airport, and the zombie apocalypse at the airport (okay I may have done this one)

Seriously I am not funny enough to do the humor in this book justice.  But the humor is not the whole point.  At the root of the book, there is a woman embracing life in spite of all of the difficulties life has thrown at her.  Whether it is her anxiety or depression  or just the day to day struggle to exist, underneath is a love for life and a determination to win through in the end.  To be furiously happy and savor the moments she can.  That is the true joy in the book.  As she says:

Be bizarre. Be weird. Be proud of the uniquely beautiful way that you are broken.

Be furiously happy.

To see another review of this book by a member of me crew, Emma-Louise “Elou” Carroll, visit:

Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

. . . FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jenny Lawson – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

furiously happy – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the sieve (C.A. Caskabel)

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

the sieve (C.A. Caskabel)

Title: the sieve

Author: C.A. Caskabel

Publisher: AuthorBuzz

Publication Date: September 13, 2016 (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781533476784

Source: NetGalley

This was one of those fantasy novels where the cover caught me eye:

Not only was the face on the cover odd but the “Drakon” made me wonder if there were dragons in it.  I have a soft spot for dragons.  The synopsis sounded interesting so I requested it.  Of course by the time I read the book I had forgotten what it was about.  I actually think that contributed to me enjoyment of the story.

The story is of a “hero” Da-Ren who has fled to a monastery asking for redemption for his wife and daughter.  The monks there require that he tell his story in detail and assign a young monk to transcribe the tale.  The author has chosen to split this epic fantasy in four parts.  This novel was part one and deals with Da-Ren’s training in the Sieve.

I enjoyed this setup from the monk’s point of view.  We approach Da-Ren’s story from the end point knowing that he has been labeled the “First Blade of the Devil.”  The monk’s insight into Da-Ren’s character set the tone for the reader learning Da-Ren’s tale.  While most of the story is told from Da-Ren’s point of view, the author does returns to the monk’s viewpoint.  I didn’t always enjoy the interruption.

The Sieve is a coming-of-age trial for children of the tribe.  Da-Ren is an orphan raised in the dregs of society.  It is a warrior based society where both men and woman can have high roles if they earn it.  The spiritual side of the tribe is controlled by women who are witches (though men play a part as well).  I enjoyed that there were some strong female characters.  Da-Ren being an orphan, in this culture meaning his mother has died, is placed outside the usual structures.  He is uneducated, mistreated, and considered worthless to the tribe.

I found Da-Ren to be a compelling character and narrator.  The society was rich with tradition and detail.  The myths in particular were compelling and enriched the narration.  The trial itself was very unusual in its composition.  I found this novel overall to be highly enjoyable and read it in one sitting.  While there were some inconsistancies in the story, I am not sure if they were part of the overall larger picture or just mistakes.  In any case, I thought it was a great introduction to a fun character and worldview and I certainly want to know what’s coming next.

So lastly . . .

Thank you AuthorBuzz!

Netgalley has this to say about the novel:

“I am here to redeem the lives of my wife and daughter. I’ve brought the offering.”

Da-Ren, an infidel barbarian, arrives at the Castlemonastery, his only offering a jar of honey. Baagh, the Cross Sorcerer, follows him there under orders of the Emperor, demanding from the monks to transcribe the warrior’s story.

Book I chronicles Da-Ren’s early years, growing up in a tribe of archer riders and pagan witches, camped north of the Blackvein River. He enters the Sieve, the forty-day initiation trial that determines the fate of every boy and girl. Many of his comrades will fall, the strong will join the warriors, and an elite few will be marked for leadership. Da-Ren learns to endure the elements, to obey the Truths, to keep standing when all hope is lost. He swallows the legends of the Ouna-Ma witches, learns to hate all other tribes, and conquers fear.

And yet there is one trial that will bring him to his knees. The Goddess’s favorite daughter. “Brown-haired, brown-eyed. Brown was the first color of the day.”

The journey begins for the man who will become the First Blade of the Devil.

To visit the author’s website go to:

C.A. Caskabel – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the sieve – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List