The Captain’s Log – dread nation (Justina Ireland)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So this book be an alternative history set in the Reconstruction era with young black adult zombie killers.  Cool, right?  And a lot of it takes place in Baltimore which be a port I called home once upon a time.  So I just had to read this one.  And I can say that it is certainly a very fun story.

I genuinely loved the main character, Jane McKeene.  She be me kinda gal.  She is intelligent, gusty, smart-mouthed, a fierce fighter, and just plain fun.  I would totally want her as part of me crew.  Actually I rather liked all the characters in this book and even loved to dislike the bad guys and gals as well.

I am in the minority though when it comes to the plot.  I absolutely adored the set-up of the novel, the introduction of the major characters, the reimaging of the civil war’s ending due to zombie apocalypse, the combat schools, the politics, and the world-building in general.

However, the author chose to make a rather abrupt decision half-way through the book and changed locations.  The focus and pacing shifted.  The action decreased.  I didn’t really care for the new direction the author took it.  But I adored the characters and did need to know how the book ended.  Which also wasn’t to me taste.  The ending was very, very convenient.

That being said because I love the world and the characters that overall I very much enjoyed meself.  I will likely read more of the further adventures of Jane McKeene.  Me quibbles were small and the crew heartily seems to be giving this one 5 stars all around.  So check it out.  Ye might be one of them.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Justina Ireland – Author

To buy the book go to:

dread nation – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Advertisements

On the Horizon – the freeze frame revolution (Peter Watts)

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

the freeze frame revolution (Peter Watts)

Title: the freeze frame revolution

Author: Peter Watts

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

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

ISBN: 978-1616962524

Source: NetGalley

This book was a bit of a stretch for me given that it is more hard sci-fi and physics is not me friend.  At all.  But I have always heard wonderful things about this author and the premise was too awesome not to give it a shot.  And I be very glad I did.

So basically this story is told from the perspective of Sunday Ahzmundin.  She is a human crew member aboard a ship named the Eriophora which is on the mission to create wormhole gates across the universe.  The crew expected their task to end and to be called back to rejoin the rest of humanity.  Except they are still onboard over 60 million years later.  So what is really going on?

AI runs this ship and at the heart of the story is the relationship between Sunday and the AI who they call Chimp.  Ye see the crew is only taken out of stasis when the AI thinks they are necessary to the mission.  This usually is a handful of days at a time every 10,000 years or so.  And of course there is a rotation so only a small handful of anywhere from 1 to 15 get thawed out at a time.  Some of the humans want to revolt against the AI and the mission given the circumstances.  Should Sunday join them?  And if so how can a hostile takeover succeed under the conditions imposed by Chimp?

I absolutely adored this (longer) novella.  I thought the premise, writing, characters, and ship were awesome.  Sunday’s inner conflict was fascinating as was her reasons behind the choices she makes.  I gobbled this up and was completely engrossed.  The only flaw was that the ending happened and I just don’t get it.  Despite multiple readings.  Those couple pages confused the heck out of me.  But I thought that perhaps I just missed some crucial point.  Well perhaps I did.

Side note: Claudia @ goodreads’ review (which is excellent) did explain just a wee bit.  As she says:

First of all, this novella is not meant to be read on its own. Could be regarded as a standalone, but you’ll feel like something is missing. And that’s because it’s part of a series of stories, entitled the Sunflowercycle, which includes three more short ones (so far).*

Publication order is: The Island (2009) – Winner of Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2010, Hotshot (2014), Giants (2014) and The Freeze-Frame Revolution (June 2018).

Now, after reading all, my advice is they are to be read in this order: Hotshot, The Freeze-Frame Revolution, The Island, Giants. It will not answer all your questions, but it will bring some light into this universe and its perpetual travelers . . .

* all three available on the author’[s] site: http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm

So while the crazy ending hurt me brain and made me feel like I was missing something, I loved the story and circumstances enough to go back and read the other stories. I even think I will follow Claudia’s readin’ order. So seriously even if physics intimidates yer noggin’, do give this story a chance. I certainly don’t regret a thing!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Tachyon Publications!

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novella:

She believed in the mission with all her heart.
But that was sixty million years ago.

How do you stage a mutiny when you’re only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your eyes and hears through your ears and relentlessly, honestly, only wants what best for you?

Sunday Ahzmundin is about to find out.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Peter Watts – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the freeze frame revolution – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – marque and reprisal & engaging the enemy (Elizabeth Moon)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This here be a combined review of the second and third books of the Vatta’s War series. While I try to post no spoilers, if ye haven’t read the first book and ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

Well book one could have been a standalone but I am extremely glad it wasn’t!  The second book quickly brings about a major, surprising change for the main character, Ky Vatta, and her family.  It was mind-boggling but brilliant.  It certainly upped the ante.  I loved the crazy mercenary company and how Ky made deals with them.  I loved all the space battles.  It even makes trading goods interesting.

Ky continues to be a delight.  I love watching her get into impossible situations and use her brain and her gusto to solve problems.  These books be action-packed, have no real romance, and be filled with admirable women.   I particularly love Grandma Grace.  She is one tough cookie.

The only minor quibble was the distrust between Ky and her cousin in book three.  It made sense in terms of story telling but it did wear on me a bit.  I think that overall this book, while enjoyable, felt more like a placeholder set-up book.  However, the ending was very satisfying and I am extremely interested in what adventures Ky will get into next.

I have already made plans to get books four and five in me mitts.  Arrr!!!

Side note: Much thanks to me matey, Sarah @ brainfluff, for pointing me in the right direction in terms of the recommended readin’ sequence for these books!

Normally I would put blurbs here but they are too spoilery for me taste.  Arrr!

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elizabeth Moon – Author

To buy the novels please visit:

marque and reprisal – Book 2

engaging the enemy – Book 3

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

trading in danger – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – acadie (Dave Hutchinson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I picked this sci-fi novella up from a local library as soon as I saw it was published by Tor.  I adore their novella line.  Five out of the six novellas nominated for the Hugo this year were published by them.  I have read four of them so far and highly enjoyed them all.

This particular story was published in 2017.  I have heard of Dave Hutchinson and have his work on me ports for plunder list but have not read any of it yet. I have to admit that the author’s name didn’t even register when I saw this.  I saw the sci-fi sticker and the Tor logo and snatched it up.

The premise is that a group of colonists, led by scientist Isabel Potter, fled Earth due to its restrictions on genetic engineering. The problem was that they stole a ship with colonists on it when they left.  Potter and the colonists’ descendants have been trying to eke a life outside of Earth’s influence for generations.  Duke Faraday, a lawyer, has been drawn into the conflict.  Why is Earth still hunting Potter and her gang?  Will they ever give up?  And what is Duke going to do about it?

It was a quick, fun read and I devoured it.  I absolutely loved the whole story, the set-up, the conflict, the ending, the writing style, the plot, and Duke himself.  A fabulous novella that ye should read if ye can.  I will certainly be picking up more work by Dave Hutchinson.  Arrr!

Side note:  For lists of the 2015/2016 novellas released by Tor click below.  I kinda want to read them all!  If any of me crew knows of a definitive list of novellas released after that please let me know!  Me search was fruitless.

Tor.com Publishing 2015/2016 Novella Lineup

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The first humans still hunt their children across the stars. Dave Hutchinson brings far future science fiction on a grand scale in Acadie.

The Colony left Earth to find their utopia–a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore the colonists’ genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries.

Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.

Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?

To visit the author’s wiki page go to:

Dave Hutchinson – Author

To buy the book go to:

acadie – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – warcross (Marie Lu)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I can’t decide if the problem was me or the book.  I borrowed this one from a local library in hardback form and tried multiple times to read it without much success.  So it was returned.  Fast forward and a local library had an audio copy that was available.  I was in the mood for a young adult novel and so thought I would give it another try.

And to be fair, I was highly engrossed in the beginning of the book and especially enjoyed the narration by Nancy Wu.  This was despite the romance that was evident within the first couple of pages.  I shrugged and decided to go with the flow.  I loved the characters and story all the way up through the first warcross match in the book.  And then it began to unravel.

I can’t get into too many specifics without spoilers but three things eventually bogged down the story.  The romance set-up was fine overall and the banter before the couple gets together was okay.  But the declaration of feelings section just felt so juvenile and silly and I quickly wished the romance was out of the book altogether.

Then there be the main character, Emika.  I really did like her a lot but had trouble with how she was “one of the best ever hackers” and yet continued to make novice mistakes that seemingly existed only to move the plot forward.  She also seemed to always be rushing into things with nary a thought.  I don’t mind some impulsiveness but would rather have seen her think her way through problems.

After the first match, the plot began to bore and never brought back the feeling of excitement.  I wanted more warcross matches, more time in the game underworld, more showing instead of telling, more development of the team members, and more use of Emika’s actual skills.  I wanted less of Emika second guessing everything, way less insta-lust/romance, less angst, and less dropped plot points.  The hacking “rules” and lack of game rules in particular left much to be desired. Oh and the plot twist at the end made me grit me teeth in frustration.  It used a trope that needs to walk the plank.

So basically I am not excited for the set-up for book two and think I may be abandoning the series and perhaps this author’s work as well.  This be the second series of hers that I am disinclined to finish.  I think her world-building and characters be very interesting indeed but her plots fail to float me boat.  But I be in the minority of this one so bear that in mind.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu – when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths. For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game – it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When Emika hacks into the game illegally, she’s convinced she’ll be arrested, and is shocked when she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Marie Lu – Author

To buy the book go to:

warcross – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

legend – book 1 (3 Bells – Young Adult Dystopian)

prodigy – book 2 (3 Bells – Young Adult Dystopian)

champion – book 3 (3 Bells – Young Adult Dystopian)

Captain’s Log – stranger in a strange land (Robert A. Heinlein)

Ahoy there mateys!  Get ready for a bit of a rant with spoilers.  Read at yer own peril . . .  This was me first reading of this classic sci-fi work.  I did read some Heinlein back in me youth.  But I seemed to have read only “juveniles” like “the rolling stones” and “have spacesuit – will travel.”  And details of those reads remain extraordinarily fuzzy even if thinking of them brings back feelings of happiness in general.

Sci-Fi aficionados would always express surprise that I had not read this masterwork by this Grandmaster of the genre.  And it has been on the list to read forever.  But I have always been hesitant to read it.  Some common problems with it seem to be its portrayal of women, religion, and smugness.  But then the library had an audiobook version of it, and I decided to give it a go.

I absolutely ADORED the setup and first bits of this book.  I loved our introduction to the Martian.  I loved his simple ways and foreign viewpoints.  I loved his earnestness and vulnerability and own type of innocence.  I found his friend, Jill the nurse, to be a tremendously strong-willed woman.  I loved the escape to Jubal’s house.  I loved hearing “grok” in context.  I was absolutely engrossed and fascinated.  I loved watched Mike listen, absorb, and grow.  So what happened?  Mike the Martian has learned what he needs to at Jubal’s house and decides to leave the Nest and go out into the world.

And my enjoyment of the book began to die.  First, all the interesting political posturing over Mike’s fortune is just swept to the side in a tidy bit of lawyering.  Then the first place Mike decides to visit in his newer grown-up phase is the carnival?  Because sure that makes sense.

So Mike learns the art of the con and Jill becomes a boring archetype whose happiness about her body involves its use to seduce the viewer and to have sex with Mike and others.  I have nothing against the enjoyment of sex and I don’t even have a problem with sex as used in stripping or other things.  My problem is that Jill goes from an intelligent woman who loves her body to a seemingly bubble-headed woman whose only ambition is to follow Mike around in order to be surrounded by his good grace . . . and his perfect manly sex.

So in addition to touring with the carnival, Mike also decides to start a church based on the Fosterite Church portrayed in the book.  Now the Fosterite “church” in the book is actually delightful in its hypocrisy.  Gambling, drinking, sinning . . . it’s all okay as long as ye be gambling on the machines in the Fosterite Church while drinking the church-sponsored brand of beer and donating some of yer ill-gotten wins back to the church, etc.  So Mike wants to change the world with his ideas and philosophies and decides to use a horrible selfish corporation church as basis of the mechanism to do so?  WTF?  What a lame cop-out.  The Martian creates a cult.

And the strong women of the story continue to degrade.  So the woman discover the joys of sex with a willing and thoughtful partner.  Okay that’s fine. But then there is a rape and the response from I-used-to-be-intelligent-but-became-a-moron-the-first-time-I-had-good-sex Jill is “Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it’s partly her fault.”  I almost stopped the book right there.  Perhaps I should have.  Because the Jill from the beginning of the book would not have said such a stupid thing.  But it IS a masterpiece so I continued listening.

And apparently when woman become sexually free they want three things 1) to sleep with ALL the men, 2) to have babies, lots of babies, and 3) all want hetero-sexual non-monogamous relationships.  Gag.  I happen to think there is more to being a woman then being forced to having babies, having no standards when it comes to picking a sexual partner (any man will do?), and I don’t believe that every woman on the planet is straight.  Also the woman in Jubal’s household actually sulk and are passive-aggressive about who gets to have sex with Mike until they figure out a schedule they like.  Alpha male with beta jealousy-ridden females fighting over his time.  Of course that is the dream of any and all American woman. And of course Mike doesn’t notice the in-fighting because he is above that.  Ugh.  Mike impregnates most of them.  Bleh.

And then of course there is the smugness.  Mike’s way is the ONLY way to be and he will be a martyr to the world that will eventually all see the way.  All the people will realize that they want to live in these large sexually-free societies where there are mass orgies, cannibalism, and baby making.  All will learn the true Martian language.  All will believe in Mike’s church.  Any who doesn’t is a prude and a waste that will be weeded out.  All the men are smug and know what’s best.  The women hold “positions of power” but do nothing that Mike hasn’t approved of.  In fact some of the women, like Jill, actually like to have so little individuality that they begin to look like each other and switch places with each other because it doesn’t matter who has the experience.  They can be filled in on the details later.  Oh and they can magic themselves younger and more aesthetically pleasing.  And that is supposed to be freedom for women?

The only idea I could kinda get behind is the lack of emphasis of consumerism culture.  But that’s easy when Mike is so rich that money doesn’t matter and he can perform magic and get what ye want.

I would never ever want to live in the society espoused by Mike the Martian.  I almost wish I had never read this mess of a book.  Sure it might be a forward thinking book for a certain-type of heterosexual male-dominated society.  But it’s a surprisingly backward book for me despite the hippy-free love orgies.  I would say that the criticism of this book is well-founded.  I was going to listen to the moon is a harsh mistress next.  But I am not sure I can stomach it.  And I cannot recommend this book to others.

While researching for this post, I came across this article on the Tor website by Jo Walton who sums up some of the problems that I have with this book in a much more well-written and concise fashion.

I also enjoyed this review by a member of Goodreads named Christy.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.

To visit the author’s society website go to:

Robert A. Heinlein – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

stranger in a strange land – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – obscura (Joe Hart)

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

obscura (Joe Hart)

Title: obscura

Author: Joe Hart

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (Amazon’s fifth publishing imprint for new mystery and thriller debuts)

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

ISBN: 978-1503949898

Source: NetGalley

This was categorized as a thriller, which I don’t normally read.  However the cover and title were fascinating so I went to see what it was about.  Well turns out it has a lot of science fiction elements so I happily got a copy.  And what a thrilling ride this was!

This book follows Dr. Gillian Ryan who studies the brain and a serious new form of dementia.  Her fight against the disease is a personal one because it killed her husband.  And now her daughter has it too.  She needs a cure.  The major problem is that her funding has been cut.  So when NASA offers her unlimited funding in exchange for a 6 month trip to space to help with astronauts suffering similar problems, can she say no?

I found Gillian to be an awesome protagonist that I was continuously rooting for.  She has an addiction problem and at times thinks she is going insane.  And yet she is smart, driven, and savvy.  She will do anything for her daughter.  I was riveted by her journey and didn’t want to put the book down.

The science sections dealing with both the brain and space were fascinating.  The novel was character-driven, filled with tension, and truly atmospheric.  Poor Gillian is continuously put in harrowing and unexpected situations.  Of course nothing goes to plan.  The combination of thriller, horror, slight mystery, and sci-fi made this a wonderful read that I highly recommend.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Thomas & Mercer!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

She’s felt it before…the fear of losing control. And it’s happening again.

In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. After losing her funding, she is given the unique opportunity to expand her research. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis—memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.

Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she’s beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.

Merging thrilling science-fiction adventure with mind-bending psychological suspense, Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart explores both the vast mysteries of outer space and the even darker unknown that lies within ourselves.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Joe Hart – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

obscura – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List