The Captain’s Log – octopus pirate (Jane Yates)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Okay with a title like that how could I not be intrigued?  Would this novella finally settle the grand debate once for all: octopi or octopuses?  And what exactly does an octopus pirate look like?  The author’s website shows this possibility:

I was intrigued. The story is set in the Victorian era wherein the pregnant wife of a ship’s captain is washed overboard.  Miraculously, the baby survives and is washed to the shore of a Scottish island.  An elderly solitary nun named Mary discovers him and vows that he is a gift from God for her to raise.  She loves young Coco despite his so-called deformities and they form a strong bond.

The set-up to the story and the early years detailing Coco’s life on the island were the highlights of the story for me.  Now don’t get me wrong, Coco goes adventuring and joins the circus and starts to learn to become a pirate.  Arrrr!  But the simplicity of Coco’s early years were me favorite part of the book.  The relationship between Mary and Coco was heartening even fer this salty Captain.

Once Coco is forced to leave the island, we add in a larger cast of characters.  Ye see the circus actually does have some magical talent.  Whether it is a mermaid, a teleporter, or even Coco with his own burgeoning magical discoveries, life gets a little more complicated.  Plots are hatched to travel back in time to fight as pirates.  Plots are hatched to harm Coco.

The plot and motivations fer the whys and hows are very light.  However awesome and fun Coco is, he is not really in charge of his destiny in this installment and luck seems to direct his path.  Though the next book seems set-up for him to begin to truly stand on his own and I do believe I shall partake of that adventure.

And the octopus of the title?  Coco’s special relationship with octopuses needs to be read about and not spoiled.  So if ye like octopi then nab a copy and tell me what ye think . . .

In case ye need further proof of the awesomeness of an octopus:

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Octopus Pirate is a time travelling steampunk tale set in the Victorian period. It’s the story of a foundling who discovers he has unusual talents . . . As a baby, the hero of this book is washed up on an island off the Scottish mainland. An eccentric former nun called Mary, who lives there alone with her cats, brings him up and names him after her favorite character, Pinocchio . . .

The teenage Coco joins a circus where he makes friends with Eric, an electronic magician who has an act where he makes a robot teleport across the tent.  Coco, narrowly escaping plots against him, flees to Cornwall with Eric.

Here they raise funds to build a replica pirate ship, which is also an airship so they can travel back in time to fight real pirates.
The crew consists of Victorian men who want to fight without any repercussions. It’s a ‘Fight Club’, but with a twist or twenty.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jane Yates – Author

To buy the book go to:

octopus pirate – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – frogkisser! (Garth Nix)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So I have a wee bit of an obsession with Garth Nix and his wonderful stories.  I love him so much that he was the featured author in me first broadside.  I have read 25 of his novels.  So when I heard he was writing this fairy tale I had to have it.  Plus awesome cover:

In his “Acknowledgments” of this novel, Mr. Nix claims inspiration from “the works of Lloyd Alexander, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, and T.H. White.”  I don’t know Nicholas Stuart Gray’s work (must remedy) but I can certainly see nods to all of the other authors he listed in the story.

The story centers around Anya who is the youngest princess of the kingdom of Trallonia.  One of her sister’s suitors is transformed into a frog by their evil sorcerer step-stepfather.  In order to stop the tears and hysterics, Anya promises to turn him back into a human.  This inadvertently becomes way more complicated than originally planned thus leading Anya off on a Quest!

The subversive nature of the story is what I loved about it.  Favorites include the use of the magic carpet, Gerald the Heralds, otters transformed into people, how the army is formed, having step-stepparents, snow white, etc.  I very much enjoyed Anya as a character.  And the frogs were just delightful.

The only downside to this novel for me was the pacing.  It is a very episodic story where the heroine gets a lot of help from people she just happens to meet along the way.  Makes more sense after reading the acknowledgements but I would have preferred Anya to show a lot more initiative.  Of course Anya doesn’t really show initiative in the beginning and is a very reluctant hero who grows into her role.  But unlike many of me other Nix reads, this didn’t zing.

I am okay with that lack of zing.  This was a solid story with a lot of fun ideas and characters.  Mr. Nix continues to remain an auto-buy author.  And apparently he has a new novel coming out in October this year.  Arrrr!!!

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

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land-and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Garth Nix – Author

To buy the book go to:

frogkisser! – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – fever 1793 (Laurie Halse Anderson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Did ye know that in 1793 in Philadelphia there was a yellow fever epidemic?  Or that said epidemic killed 10 percent of the city’s population in 3 months?  Or that there was a Free African Society that helped citizens of Philadelphia in the epidemic regardless of race or class.  Or that the first hot air balloon launched in the United States happened in Philadelphia in 1793?

Yup, history can be fascinating and sad and sometimes even unknown when it has happened practically in yer own backyard.  The author apparently began this book in 1993 after coming across an article in her local newspaper that discussed the epidemic that had happened two centuries before.

This young adult historical fiction tells the story of 14 year old Mattie whose family owns a coffee shop in the city.  Ye follow her story as the yellow fever epidemic unfolds.  She is a typical teenage girl with big dreams and fancies who finds herself growing up fast as the city life unravels around her with every passing day of the fever.  I thought Mattie was a great character and that this book brought the idea of epidemic to life.

The history of Philadelphia is one that I know very little about and it was fascinating to take this look into one of the city’s worse experiences.  I found the details in the story to be engrossing.  I didn’t know that coffee houses were a thing.  Also that there were warring factions of French and American doctors regarding treatment.

Looking through Mattie’s eyes helped bring this period in history to life in a way that reminds me of why I love historical fiction.  And of course as always I love doing further research upon finishing.  The appendix of this novel is full of interesting facts.  If ye like young adult historical fiction, quick reads, and an interesting time period, give this one a gander.

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

It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight—the fight to stay alive.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Laurie Halse Anderson – Author

To buy the book go to:

fever 1793 – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the wild robot (Peter Brown)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I was looking to read something short that fit me current mood and this book was found in the hold.  This is listed as a middle-grade but bah!  I don’t put age limits on things.

This is about a robot whose crate gets washed overboard from a cargo ship and she ends up on a deserted island.  Except the island isn’t actually deserted.  It is filled with local wildlife.  So the robot, Roz, has to to discover how to survive on the island, her purpose, and perhaps how she got there.

Though this book had a slow start, I soon grew to love Roz.  By the end of the story, I knew that I wanted to read the further adventures of this adorable robot.  I just loved the idea of a robot going “wild” and making friends with all of the animals.  Though the robot has some limitations due to programing, this does not stop her quest for growth and communication and companionship.  A quick and lovely read.  And the author’s illustrations were fun and perfect for the book.  Check it out.

If ye be like me (Arrrr!) and love the stories behind the stories then check out the author’s inspiration and ideas for the wild robot like this example of an early sketch for Roz (from the author’s website):

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

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings?

Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….

To visit the author’s website go to:

Peter Brown – Author & Illustrator

To buy the book go to:

the wild robot -Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the ship beyond time (Heidi Heilig)

Ahoy there me mateys!  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, the girl from everywhere, 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 . . .

The first novel in this duology was one of me favorite reads of 2016.  I was so excited to get me mitts on the sequel.  And sadly this was just an okay read for me.  For about 3/4 of the novel I was engaged and happy.  I loved getting back into Nix’s world.  Reading the author’s new blend of myths and storytelling was a joy.  I went on several journeys into the interwebs while reading the book to get the historical facts to enrich the remainder of me reading of the novel.  Check out Donald Crowhurst and Ker-Ys for example. These forays into history lessons did not throw me out of the story but rather increased me excitement and awe at the author’s wit and devious mind.  Her ability to explain why the myths diverge in our time were especially well done.

In addition, I loved the villain in this story.  He is seemingly complex and as he is based on a real person this was awesome.  I continue to love the crew and got more glimpses of Rotgut and Bee.  I fact I would love Bee to have her own book frankly.  It was interesting to get some point-of-view chapters from Kash.

So what then was the problem?  The last quarter just felt disjointed.  The parent/daughter relationship seems worse than ever after the hopeful ending of book one.  I know Slate has issues but he was annoying in this book.  Also Blake became highly frustrating and his motivation seemed almost a caricature.  Nix lost most of her spunk and wallows about the situation.  She is so filled with angst about how to deal both with the villain and her love life.  The story was too bogged down by angst.  I feel that Nix should have been a fighter all the way.  Also the ending in particular was so open ended.  The author’s website states this was the conclusion to the story but not much was decided.  I can see lots of possible paths for another book to go in.

I guess frankly, the ending was just not to me taste but I seem to be in the minority.  I wouldn’t mind more books about the further adventures of Nix but would prefer her to be more mature, focused, and clever about how the adventures evolve.

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

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her future lies bright before her—until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves.

Desperate to change her fate, Nix sails her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems. Not even her relationship with Kash: best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire.

Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. At the center of this adventure are extraordinary, complicated, and multicultural characters who leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds. This sequel—and conclusion—to The Girl from Everywhere includes five black-and-white maps of historical and mythical locations.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Heidi Heilig – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the ship beyond time – 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

On the Horizon – missing (Kelley Armstrong)

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

missing (Kelley Armstrong)

Title: missing

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Random House Children’s Crown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (Hardcover/E-book)

ISBN:     978-0399550324

Source:  NetGalley

So me mateys, I continue with me Kelley Armstrong obsession and this be her latest offering.  It is not me favorite of her novels (as I prefer her fantasy or adult thrillers) but this was a quick and fun read.

The story follows Winter Crane who lives in a small poverty stricken town in Kentucky.  Like most young residents of the town, she has one hope – to graduate high school and escape to the big city.  Just like her big sister  and best friend did.  Except Winter can’t seem to get a hold of either of them.

Due to an abusive home life, she tends to take care of herself.  Think hunting and trapping and shack in the woods.  One day in the woods, Winter rescues a young guy in trouble who happens to be looking for Winter’s best friend – the same friend that Winter has been unable to reach.  In trying to figure out the whereabouts of her missing friend, Winter begins to think that not everyone in town made it to the big city.  Can she solve the mystery before anyone else goes missing?

One of the “problems” I had with the novel was the setting.  In me vagabond nature, I once lived in a small, one street town in Kentucky.  The author does try to address the stereotypes and challenge them.  However, there were inclusions of many small town stereotypes like an idiot pointless sheriff, using food stamps as currency, moonshine stills, and old mountain folk with no running water or electricity.  I couldn’t tell if some of these facts were trying to be based in reality or just plot points to forward the story.

Two less then stellar impressions were of some of the twists towards the end of the novel.  I kinda felt like I was reading a V.C. Andrews melodrama in parts.  And I wasn’t a huge fan of those books even back in the day.  Also the way Winter puts another person’s wishes about reconciliation with her abuser ahead of her own preferences made me cringe.

But these issues were very minor for me overall concerning me enjoyment.  I still found the author’s writing, characters, and story to be engaging.  I read this book in one quick session.  While I don’t think this will ever be a re-read for me, it was certainly entertaining if taken with a grain of salt.  I very much look forward to Kelley Armstrong’s next novel.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House/Crown Books!

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

Winter Crane has exactly one thing to look forward to in Reeve’s End: leaving it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the forest. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found a boy–a stranger–left for dead.

But now he’s gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left Reeve’s End at all? What if they’re all missing?

To visit the author’s website and blog go to:

Kelley Armstrong – Author

To buy the novel visit:

missing – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

sea of shadows- book one (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

empires of the night -book two (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

forest of ruin – book three (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

the masked truth (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Thriller)

city of the lost – book one (Off the Charts – Thriller/Crime Novel)

a darkness absolute – book two (On the Horizon & Off the Charts – Thriller/Crime Novel)