Abandon Ship – like a boss (Adam Rakunas)

It’s time to abandon ship me mateys!  And oh I be highly disappointed.  I just re-read the first book of the series, windswept and gave it me second reflections.  While I still loved that novel, I should have skipped this one completely.  I made it to page 51 of 375.  Two things made me grumpy:  1) the mention of Jackson Pollack (pg. 41) and 2) the bad guy (pg. 50).

Now I have no real hatred of Jackson Pollack, but the mention of him was just so incongruous that I was taken aback and thrown out of the story.  And to be fair the story was fine up until that moment.  Then the premise of Padma’s new problem to solve was introduced on page 51 and it made me furious.  It seemed both unrealistic and a lazy choice.  I had no interest in this storyline at all.  Had I read the blurb for the second book, I would have known and not purchased it.  But I normally don’t read book two synopses because I like being surprised.

Mistake on this one.  Wish it had stayed a standalone.

Normally I post the synopsis of a novel here but as it has spoilers and I hate it, I am not including it . . . read book one but skip this one!

To visit the author’s website go to:

Adam Rakunas – Author

To buy the novel visit:

like a boss – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Second Reflections – windswept (Adam Rakunas)

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

windswept – Adam Rakunas

This be a lovely sci-fi novel that I read back in 2015 after randomly finding a copy in a local library.  It is one of the books that helped bring me attention to the Angry Robot publishing house wherein I joined the Robot Army.  Their books tend to be quirky and to my taste.  In any case, at the time this book was a stand-alone and it can be read as such.  But when I found out there was another book in the series, I was excited to have the chance to re-visit an old port.

And Santee is a great place to spend time if ye like sarcastic bad-ass women, crazy times, and, of course, rum.  The story involves me favorite wench, Padma, who is a union recruiter who deserted the corporate culture of the Big Three to make a better life for herself on a little “mudball” planet.  If she recruits just 33 more people to the union then she can buy her dream business (a rum distillery – Arrrrr!).  When word comes of a breach of 40 people that would help her reach her union quota and her dream, she takes a chance.  Of course nothing goes to plan and all hell breaks loose . . .

The characters are what made the story for me.  Padma be me favorite but there are plenty of strong women in this book – from police officers, pub owners, and tuk-tuk drivers.  While there is very brief mention of sex in this novel, it does NOT have romance as a major element.  There are however strong male and female friendships.  I loved Jilly and Banks.  I loved to dislike Bloomberg.  Several of the bad guys and girls were not as fleshed out but it didn’t really effect me enjoyment.  There are screwball characters and fantastic character interactions that I loved re-reading.

The world building and politics are not extremely complicated but Santee feels solid and believable.  The story was even-paced at the start but ratchets up into a fun mad dash towards the end.  Basically this book is just plain fun.  A quick read, I am glad I chose to revisit this port and look forward to finding out what the gang has been up to in the next installment.

Check out this review by Skjam!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Labor organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she’s supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before she can. She’s only thirty-three short. So when a small-time con artist tells her about forty people ready to tumble down the space elevator to break free from her old bosses, she checks it out — against her better judgment. It turns out, of course, it was all lies . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Adam Rakunas – Author

To buy the novel visit:

windswept – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – select (Marit Weisenberg)

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 . . .

select (Marit Weisenberg)

Title: select

Author: Marit Weisenberg

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

Publication Date: October 3, 2017 (hardcover/e-book)

ISBN: 9781580898065

Source: NetGalley

This was a book I stumbled across that had a fascinating premise and I was excited to have me wish granted.  A group of biologically different humans lives in Austin, TX.  Julia, is one of these “select” people but has always had trouble fitting in.  Forced to keep a low profile and told to hide her gifts, she makes a mistake and finds herself forced to go to ::gasp:: a public high school with “normal” humans.  What will she do?

Apparently she will have insta-lust and waffle a lot.  Now this was a fast read and only took a couple of hours.  I did finish it, which was good.  But seriously for a group of special people trying to hide their gifts, they seem to go out of their way to flaunt themselves.  The leader (Julia’s dad) is a billionaire investor.  The whole group lives in mansions, wears designer clothes, and drives expensive cars.  I have known teens who drive BMWs and such.  They do NOT blend.

The other kids in the “select” group are daredevils and troublemakers and yet none of them have ever been caught or truly punished.  Mommy and Daddy just get the lawyers to bail them out.  So the premise that Julia blows their cover and has to be punished seemed unbelievable.  And Julia being forced to go to public school for punishment did not lead to anything other than fodder for the insta-love relationship.  Julia skates through school with no real consequences for anything really.  Though she learns to control her powers by using them in stupid ways.  Bland.

The relationship itself was kinda creepy and self-serving, especially in the beginning.  Julia and John have instant chemistry but her method of learning about him is to read his mind without permission and then use that knowledge to encourage him.  Just because she is bored.  I would rather they had a better relationship than one built on lies and some flashes of exposed leg.  Oh add in some non-appealing pseudo love triangle junk and shake not stir.

Even the powers of Julia and the “select” left something to be desired.  Instead of rooting for them, all of the people in her family group felt like a cult.  The powers, like telekinesis or enhanced stamina, were barely used at all and when they were, it felt more like whiny magic people throwing temper tantrums.  If that is what it meant to be one of the “select” then I will gladly pass.

I would have loved for this to have been a deeper look into different branches of human evolution living alongside each other.  I would have loved the “select” to have used their intelligence and powers for something other than money and solitude.  I would have loved for all of the characters to have more depth.  I would have loved for Julia’s golden cage to have actually been appealing so that she had a better reason for her inner conflict.

Overall the premise did not live up to its promise.  Sigh.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Charlesbridge Teen!

Side note: Some mateys disagree with me.  Check out this review by the leisure diaries!

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

To visit the author’s Facebook page go to:

Marit Weisenberg – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

select – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – belt three (John Ayliff)

Ahoy there mateys!  This novel is a sci-fi standalone that I saw recommended somewhere long ago.  It features a space pirate (Arrrrr!) so I picked up a copy recently as it fit me mood.

I found this to be a highly enjoyable read. It is set in a time frame where Earth and other planets have been destroyed by unstoppable alien Von Neumann probes called Worldbreakers.  Humans have colonized asteroid belt systems and are struggling to survive.  A Worldbreaker has arrived in belt three and people are trying to get out of the path of destruction.

Gabriel is a miner, fleeing the Worldbreaker with his crew.  He is captured by Keldra, the female pirate, so that he and the crew can be transformed into slaves and sold.  The highlight of the book was the relationship between the two main characters, Gabriel and Keldra.  Initially out to destroy one another, circumstances find their lots tossed together for basic survival.  The two are constantly having a battle of wits.  Gabriel is out to survive at all costs.  Keldra has an ultimate goal and will take down anyone who stands in her way.  There is lots of character growth on both sides which is what I enjoyed the most.

Of course this novel is also action packed with lots of space battles and trickery and plot twists.  I loved the end-of-the world setting.  It felt different to have the humans be facing extinction and yet still struggling against all odds.  They have amazing technology concerning cloning and mind control.  Yet for all the tech, humans seem to have hardly evolved at all.  The technology is also used as a plot device concerning memory and I loved it.

For $2.99 it was a bargain.  A fast read, I heartily recommend it to me crew.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Worldbreakers do not think, do not feel and cannot be stopped.

Captain Gabriel Reinhardt’s latest mining mission has been brought to a halt by the arrival of a Worldbreaker, one of the vast alien machines that destroyed Earth and its solar system long ago. As he and his crew flee they are kidnapped by a pirate to be mind-wiped and sold into slavery, a fate worse than death in this shattered universe.

But Captain Reinhardt is hiding a secret . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Ayliff – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

belt three – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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.

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

Abandon Ship – we are legion we are bob (Dennis E. Taylor)

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!  This one was recommended by me first mate because he loved it.  Of course he did warn me that there was a 50/50 shot that I wouldn’t like it.

I made it to the 53% mark before calling it quits.  To be fair the beginning of the novel was wonderful.  This is the story of a dude named Bob who signs up for a cryogenics program, dies, and wakes up in the future as an artificial intelligence computer program.

The circumstances that Bob finds himself in, the politics of the world, how Bob deals with it, and the beginning of Bob’s exploration of the universe were delightful.  Bob is a bit of a nerd to put it mildly.  His quirky personality made the beginning of the novel fly by.

The side characters like Bob’s AI digital personal assistant, Guppy and the other “Bobs” are humorous.  There are deeper concepts woven throughout concerning identity, personality, technology, and space exploration.  The mix of cool technology and the silliness of Bob were wonderful.

The problem for me was that eventually, it was less about Bob exploring his new roles in life and more about determining the future.  I got bored.  There are only so many descriptions of new planets, mining, and such that I could take.  It began to feel repetitive.  There began to be gaps in time where we skipped the process of Bob figuring things out and jumped to the problem having being mostly solved.  I get that Bob’s AI is way beyond me brain skills but I just wasn’t absorbed in the story.  So I gave up.  Of course the first mate disagrees with me . . .

From the First Mate:

One of my absolute favorite “cancelled too soon” t.v. series was a show from 1999 called “Now and Again.” The premise of the show was that an ad executive is accidentally killed in the subway, his brain is stolen by the government, and then a scientist puts that brain into an artificial body for use as a spy/assassin/whatever.  What the scientist and the government didn’t count on was that a lazy ad executive’s personality is completely at odds with what they ultimately wanted to do with the artificial body.  And that conflict was really the driving force of the show.  The ad executive wanted to get away and be with his family again, while the scientist and the government wanted him to train and be a machine.

“We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” plays with the same trope (a normalish person is flung into a military science project against his will) but spins it in completely the opposite direction.  Bob is simply too competent a programmer to be bound by the controls that the military has placed on him, and much of the fun of the first half of the book is watching him figure out ways to do what he wants instead of what is expected of him.  And the first half of the book is fantastic.  Dennis E. Taylor covers some quality philosophical ground without dragging the plot to a halt.  We’re given an amazingly depressing in its plausibility backstory of the theocratic government of the future.  Some quality tension in a ticking clock scenario to get Bob in space. There’s even a very compelling discussion of why 3D printers ultimately take the sci-fi place of nanotechnology in this world.  And skiffy references galore.  So many fun references.

While I was reading the first half of the book, I was thinking “this is the most fun I’ve had with a sci-fi book in forever.” I was also pondering, “this is so fun, I wonder if I should recommend this to the Captain.”

Unfortunately, for me, the second half of the book doesn’t quite live up to the first half.  Which is a shame, as the second half of the book is where the “We Are Legion” aspect really takes off.  The conceptual aspect of a multiplicity of Bobs is very interesting and Taylor does a very good job of differentiating the various Bobs.  It’s just, well, the uses to which he puts them were less than interesting to me.  Indeed, one storyline that involves a primitive civilization seems to be little more than a way of keeping one of the Bobs sidelined from the other storylines.  Another gets bogged down in a very realistic bureaucratic negotiation situation that, while well written, didn’t make me smile in the ways that the first half of the book did.  Still enjoyable, just a step down from earlier.

I suppose the major difference between the first and second half of the book is that the second half didn’t feel as though Bob et. al. was staying ahead of anyone.  Sure, they planned and prepared for various scenarios (some which worked out and others which did not), but generally it was all very reactive.  The first half of the book was full of Bob outsmarting controls and limits using skills that the military didn’t expect him to have.  Perhaps that means that the first half is pure nerd fantasy, while the second half is more of a variant on hard sci-fi in space.

In some ways, “We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” feels like it fits in with the work of early Heinlein or Scalzi.  Sci-fi adventurism with some hard sci-fi trappings.  If that’s in your wheelhouse, it’s well worth a look.  Me?  I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel later this year.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off, and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad – very mad.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Dennis E. Taylor – Author

To buy the novel go to:

we are legion (we are bob) – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List