The Captain’s Log – scythe (Neal Shusterman)

Printed matter - Handwriting - Whaling log book, The Daniel Webster 1850s-635x1000

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

On the Horizon – miniatures (John Scalzi)

miniatures

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

miniatures: the very short fiction of john scalzi (John Scalzi)

Title: miniatures: the very short fiction of john scalzi

Author: John Scalzi

Illustrator: Natalie Metzger

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Publication Date: December 31, 2016 (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781596068124

Source: NetGalley

Okay so it may be no secret to me crew that I am kinda in love with John Scalzi’s novels.  He has been featured on a Broadside, had the dispatcher reviewed by both me and the First Mate, and writes a blog called Whatever, that I follow regularly.  So when the man himself blogged about the release of this short story collection I knew I wanted to read it.  When I was on Netgalley, I happened to see it.  Then the publisher happened to grant it to me for readin’.  Yay!

Since I am very familiar with the Scalzi writing style, I waited for a day that was rather blah and where I needed a pick-me-up.  Cause Scalzi is funny.  So the day came and I settled in me bunk for a treat.  And I got exactly what I wanted.

Out of the 18 pieces, me top 3 standouts . . .

“Alien Animal Encounters” – Perhaps ye have heard of the those segments where people like Jay Leno do segments like “Jay Walking” where random people on the street are asked the Question of the Week.  Well in this story, the question is “What is the most interesting encounter you’ve had with an alien animal species?”  This is the first story of the collection and set the tone nicely.  Favorite animals included the cat (duh!) and the courou.

“Denise Jones, Superbooker” – Set in the form of a transcript, this story is about a booking agent for super heroes.  She answers important questions about super hero secret identities, contracts, and other secrets of the biz.  The bit about Bryan Garcia made me happy.  There is a related story later in the collection called “The State of Super Villainy” that was fun too.

“Your Smart Appliances Talk About You Behind Your Back” – Security systems, fridges, waffle irons . . . if they could speak what would they report about their owners.  ‘Nuff said.

There were a couple of stories that didn’t really float me boat – one about Pluto, one about extortionists, and one about Penelope.  And some that were just plain weird Scalzi – like sentient yogurt.  But overall Scalzi delivers as usual.  Quick and fun.

For another take by me crew member who loved it:

the green onion

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Scalzi – Author

To buy the novel go to:

miniatures – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the last day of captain lincoln (EXO Books)

engraving-of-rocket-ship-blasting-off-a-moon-of-saturn

Ahoy there me mateys!  Many of me crew had been reviewing this one with high praise.  So when the author offered me a review copy for perusal of course I wanted to experience what all the fuss was about.

This be a fairly short story at 133 pages. Yet those pages resonated beyond their size.  The premise is that Captain Lincoln aboard the spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal is scheduled for death upon his 80th birthday – the tradition for everyone who reaches that age aboard the ship.  And today is his last day . . .

Thus the reader follows along to witness what Captain Lincoln experiences that day and how he processes his emotions of his impending end  And by the time ye come to that end, for this reader at least, I was sad to see him go.

And that was the true appeal of this work.  It is short and yet compelling; poignant yet uplifting; it was worth the read.  I found meself fascinated by the concepts of life aboard the ship (Arrrr!) where there is no disease and 80 is still youthful.  As humans make their long way to Earth 2.0, how do they reconcile their past with the possibilities of the future?

This will offer ye glimpses of what humans’ future capacity could be.  The only small gripes for me were the quotes, which while appropriate, were many and sometimes pulled me from the story and the artwork which was not to me taste.  But the story was enjoyable and is one that I can recommend.

To read some of me (many) other crew members reviews check out:

So lastly . . .

Thank ye EXO Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Captain Lincoln’s last day is the hardest day of his life.

An old, onetime Captain of the interstellar spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal, Lincoln always knew that this day would come. For just as birthdays are carefully planned, so are deaths. And although he must reckon with his fate, this is not a somber story. It is a tale of love and sacrifice, told in the context of the most advanced civilization ever to exist—a society that has taken to the stars in an effort to save all that is best in humanity.

Follow Lincoln through his internal struggles, his joy in having lived, and his journey to peace.

The End is just the beginning.

To visit the author’s website go to:

EXO Books – Author

To buy the book go to:

the last day of captain lincoln – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – shipscat collection (Mercedes Lackey)

spacecat3

Ahoy there me mateys!  So after writing me second reflections of hunter, I was in the mood for some more of Mercedes Lackey’s work.  So I decided to buy and read one of her short story collections that I have had me eye on for a long time.  The topic – intelligent cats in space!  Of course, I kinda have a thing for ships and cats and ship cats most of all.  Yup exactly what I was in the mood for.

The collection contains four short stories about human, Dick White, and his friend the telepathic ship cat named Skitty.  I loved that humans had engineered intelligent cats for pest control and partnership and yet they still were cats . . . unpredictable, stubborn, choosy, and lovable.  Spoiled too.

These stories are very fluffy and somewhat predictable but I absolutely adored them all.  As usual Lackey’s world-building and characters are fun.  The only major complaint I have is that I would like a full length novel about the further adventures of Skitty and White.  The stories went by too quickly.  Super short collection but worth me coin.   Arrrrrr!

Side note: Isn’t the space cat picture awesome?  Check out the website where I found it . . .

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

This is a collection of the four “Shipscat” stories: SKitty; A Tail of Two SKittys; SCat; and A Better Mousetrap.

These stories tell the adventures of Dick White, cat handler for the space ship Brightwing, and the cats he is supposed to be handling. Of course, given that he’s working with cats, there is frequently the question of who is “handling” whom.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Mercedes Lackey – Author

To buy the novel visit:

shipscat collection – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

Broadside No. 8

hunter (Second Reflections – Fantasy)

On the Horizon – martians abroad (Carrie Vaughn)

pier

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

martians abroad (Carrie Vaughn)

Title: martians abroad

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

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

ISBN: 978-0765382207

Source: NetGalley

I had heard about this author from me crew and they seemed to love her work.  I am not usually into urban fantasy and werewolves so I had never read her Kitty Norville series.  When I heard she had written a sci-fi young adult, I snagged a copy.

The premise is that twins, Polly and Charles, from Mars are sent to Earth with no warning to get a good education at one of the top academies in the galaxy.  Though the academy may be prestigious, accidents keep happening and the twins must figure out why.  The story is told from Polly’s perspective.

Having Martians go to Earth for education was an awesome premise.  In fact most of the fun in the novel stemmed from Polly’s observations and complaints about Earth.  Her observations and discussions about Mars in particular made the settlement there seem so real and almost made me almost envious of living there.  Though Polly could be somewhat clueless, I nevertheless found her to be an enjoyable character.  I particularly liked her strong ideas concerning friendship and her ability to help others in a crisis.

Her brother Charles was kind of an enigma in his interactions and viewpoints and yet somehow likeable in spite of it.  I thought it was odd that the twins didn’t really interact all that much and that the brother/sister/twin relationship seemed strained at times.  The blurb made it sound like the two worked together but it didn’t pan out in the novel.

There were some flaws in the novel.  There was very little plot.  The main “villain” was rather predictable and I guessed who was behind it all rather early on.  Though the novel takes place in an academic setting, the academics were really not explored in depth.  I didn’t mind that because I like Polly so much but it may bother another reader.  The secondary characters are fun and having distinct personalities but do not seem to do a whole lot.

While the novel did feel fluffy and had seemingly little real depth, I did find it to have some truly fun ideas, be an enjoyable read and it  was a good introduction to this author’s work.  I was actually disappointed to find that it was a standalone.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Polly’s adventures when she is a pilot.  In any case, I am certainly going to read more of the author’s work.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillan-Tor/Forge!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Carrie Vaughn – Author

To buy the novel go to:

martians abroad – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Tidings from the Crew – the dispatcher (John Scalzi)

Animal - Sea mammal - Whale - Whale ship logging book 03-586x1000

Ahoy there mateys!  Though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do recommend books to each other.  Books the first mate introduced to me included xom-b, holes, and the perks of being a wallflower.  He and I both read the following:

the dispatcher (John Scalzi)

We were talking about the book and I enjoyed his viewpoint so I ordered asked him to write a review.  So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew.  Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks.  Hope you enjoy!

From the Captain:

This was me first attempt at an audio book.  While I have no real interest in them, this novella has only been released in audio book format and I wanted to read it.  Having no way to get a hold of it otherwise, the first mate and I listened to this one together.

In terms of the audio book experience, I could do without.  The first mate listens to them frequently.  Now to be fair, I thought that the narration of this story as performed by Zachary Quinto was extremely well done.  Way back in the day I listened to radio plays and enjoyed the medium.  Now, I just feel like listening to a book is too darn slow.  I can read much faster.  The first mate claims that ye can listen to audio books at enhanced speeds so maybe that would help.  And of course the short length of the novella was a bonus.  But overall I want text.

Now the beginning of the novella was extremely well set-up.  I loved the concept that 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back to life and that there are Dispatchers whose job it is to take advantage of this “glitch” for the betterment of society.  I totally enjoyed the main character, a Dispatcher named Tony Valdez and how we were introduced to both him and his work.

But I have to admit that once the set-up is over and we get into the mystery plot of the novella I was not as excited.  I mean it was fun and enjoyable but seemingly predictable in terms of the hows and whys of the who-dun-it.  The world itself was the fascinating part and it was not explored nearly enough.  We get glimpses of a crazy underworld, snippets of how Dispatching affects “normal folks,” and tidbits of the varied uses of Dispatching.

I sorta wish there had been no murder mystery.  Of course there was a scene involving frat boys that made me happy and chuckle.  I don’t believe this is Scalzi’s best work but it was worth me time for what it was.

From the First Mate:

Very interesting premise. Execution was middle of the road.  Like with “Lock In,” Scalzi sets up a society-changing situation and then uses it to tell a more or less mundane noir story.  The noir story is well written and the main character is fun, but the character of the detective is practically worthless (she exists solely to have the main character explain the world she lives in to her).  Basically, the sci-fi elements of the story weren’t central (you could tell the same missing person story set in 1920s Chicago) and are merely whiz-bang moments.

Side Note:  Apparently a print version will be coming out in 2017!

Goodreads has this to say about the book:

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.

It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Scalzi – Author

To buy the novella go to:

the dispatcher – Audio Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandon Ship – metaltown (Kristen Simmons)

shipwreck

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!

metaltown (Kristen Simmons)

Another book I just couldn’t bring meself to finish.  This is a young adult dystopian novel.  The book has a interesting premise of young teens and children fighting against the establishment so that they can have basic rights like a less dangerous workplace, food, and better salaries.  Basically the children are trying to start their own union.  It’s a world reminiscent of the factory settings of the turn of the century where bad things like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire occurred.  Except instead of making clothes, the children are making weapons of war.  Oh and there are interesting diseases because of genetically modified corn.  That was cool.

The world building was fun and the I liked two of the main characters.  Basically this story is told from the perspective of three different children.  Ty (a girl) and Colin (a boy) are best friends who work in the factories.  Lena is the daughter of the rich dude who runs that area of the country.

Ty was tenacious and feisty and fierce.  I loved her.  Colin was overall a decent character.  I didn’t adore him by himself but his relationship with Ty was lovely.  Lena was basically a fluffy headed naive moron.  She meets Colin.  Insta-love kinda happens and then the book derails.

The major problem was that I just become bored.  I felt that the story was too slow and got too involved in the romantic ideas between Lena and Colin.  The beginning of the story and set up was fine.  But the plot was agonizingly slow.  I stopped reading at 52.1% and the major movement of forming the union hadn’t really begun.

Overall the politics of forming the children’s union just seemed too simple and the relationship between Lena and Colin seemed to have taken center stage,  So I gave up.

It is a shame that an interesting premise and some great characters could not save this book for me.

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

Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Kristen Simmons – Author

To buy the book go:

metaltown – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List