Curiosities of the Deep – ride a mule (M.H. Boroson)

Ahoy there mateys!  For those new to me crew, this be a category for those novels whose stories of acquisition be strange and unusual – like the time someone commandeered me 12 pages!  There be a tale to tell on how I got me grubby mitts on this one . . .

Ye see this short story is not available to just any scalawag with a hankerin’.  It is given to only those few who belong to a secret society of book lovers.  And how does one join this society and get to add this treasure to their tally of booty?  Well sit back me hearty (and grab that grog), for this tale twists and turns, and let me tell ye . . .

So a long while back, at nearly the start of keeping this here log, a curious thing happened.  Ye see I be always on the lookout fer treasure as all Captains be.  So every time I be back in port, I follow hints and whispers to find the shady places, full of shady characters, wherein the clues and possibilities for plunder might be found.

In one such adventure, after evading local authorities, brandishing me cutlass at the cur who thought I could be followed, and stopping by the local inn for some rum, I ended up in . . . a local bookstore.  Egads!  What hints there be of riches and exciting locales all ripe fer plunderin’.  Being the smart Captain that I be, I quickly took notice of interesting ports for plunder.  Number 9 on said list be this gem:

the girl with the ghost eyes (M.H. Boroson)

And what a lovely one this is.  This author’s debut novel is a historical fiction fantasy set in Chinatown of San Francisco in 1898.  It is expertly written, in my opinion, and full of surprises – including the ending.  Quite frankly, I adored it.  The author hinted that more of the glorious tales of Li-lin might exist.  So through every storm, every port, every glass of grog, I kept me eye out and me ears to the wind to catch a glimpse of me elusive prey . . .

And then behold, a wink here and a nudge there lead me to Goodreads, an oft frequented haunt, wherein a connection was made with Raquel who be an interestin’ lass who seems to love both cats and books.  With those interests, she be a source I could trust, a rare find indeed.  So with her set of coordinates, I set sail for me next part of the adventure.

And what did I find there but a message in a bottle from the master manipulator himself . . . the author, M.H. Boroson!  The salty cad.  The trickster led me from the source that started this search, the girl with the ghost eyes, to a map written in his own log, wherein if ye are lucky ye might find his master plans.  Now as members of me crew, I will share the secret of how to find the story story.  Spread the word to other members of the crew.

What!  Ye lazy scurvy dogs!  Too full of grog and victuals and the pleasures of port to move.  Arrrrrgh!  Fine.  For those of ye who cannot read so good, like One-Eyed Jack . . .

That M.H. Boroson (good name for a ship rather!) is crafty and wants more folk to read his debut novel.  So like any good sailor, he knows ye need the best bait.  So basically, if ye read his debut novel and post a review (for the good or evil) on his book’s Amazon’s log page, then he will send ye the delight that is the short story.

Now me being the crafty sort, I had already posted me review of the novel.  But I sent him a scroll and we came to an accord.  His return scroll stated:

Ahoy, Captain! Attacht be a copy o’ RIDE A MULE. Yer review be appreciated, arr!

So as part of the Code and in terms with the accord, here be the conclusion to this awesome adventure . . .

If it wasn’t made clear before, this Captain adored this short story.  It immediately took me back to the world of Li-lin and Chinatown.  I could read a million more brief snippets of her adventures while waiting on M.H. Boroson to finish the next novel so I can challenge him to a friendly duel and commandeer it.  While only 21 pages long, the story contains elements of the world-building that made the novel so wonderful.  Favorite characters like Mr. Yanqiu and Mr. Pu make an appearance.  It was short and sweet and left me wanting more.   If ye love Daoism, kung fu, monsters, magic, love, and Chinese folklore then ye should read this.

Now get out there and read me matey’s debut novel and join the secret society that loved it and gets to read this short story.  Savvy?

Amazon has this to say about the girl with the ghost eyes:

It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes–the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father — and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

To visit the author’s website go to:

M.H. Boroson – Author

To buy his first novel visit:

the girl with the ghost eyes – Book

To add the short story treasure to yer Goodreads list visit:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Me Previous Curiosities of the Deep:

Patrick, Den – the boy with the porcelain blade – Part One (Fantasy)

Patrick, Den – the boy with the porcelain blade – Part Two (Fantasy)

Parr, M.J.R. – kings of the wilderness – the 700th arc book one (Sci-Fi)

Auxier, Jonathan – the night gardener (Young Adult Fantasy)

On the Horizon – the bone witch (Rin Chupeco)

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

the bone witch (Rin Chupeco)

Title: the bone witch

Author: Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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

ISBN: 978-1492635826

Source: NetGalley

This novel be pure magic.  I read it in one sitting and fell in love with the author’s writing and the world she created.  The main character, Tea, learns that she is a bone witch when she instinctively raises her brother from the dead in her grief.  Because of the rarity of her powers and the fact that bone witches be hated and feared, Tea leaves her family to train and learn to control her powers.

The novel is told from two perspectives – Tea in the past and a bard in the present.  I loved the juxtaposition of witnessing Tea’s thoughts about training and the bard’s views of what she looks like to an “outsider” in her full strength and poise.

This novel is slow paced but filled with glorious details.  It was the details that made the world and story come vividly to life.  Things like the descriptions of magic woven into clothing, the elaborate training of the witches (known as asha). the different ethnicities of people, or even types food, made me feel that the author was describing a real place.  Or at least a place well known to her.

Add in fantastical creatures called the daeva and I was mesmerized.  What are daeva?  Well according to the author’s website they are “Deadly creatures that roam the land . . . To defeat these beasts, one must find and rip their bezoar from their bodies – although such an action is only a temporary respite, as they are capable of resurrection.”  They are all different shapes and sizes.  How Tea deals with these monsters is at the heart of the story and one of the main reasons I loved it.

This book was a lovely set-up.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the series when it comes out and while impatiently waiting, I will try and get me grubby mitts on her debut novel, the girl from the well.

Side note: the author’s about me page is awesome!  In fact, I rather enjoyed pursuing the whole site.  Check it out.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rin Chupeco – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the bone witch – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Keep a Weathered Eye Out for Sourcebook Fire’s Other Offerings Like:

labyrinth lost (Zoraida Cordova)

Sailing to the Stars – empress of a thousand skies (Rhoda Belleza)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While this book was partly enjoyable, I am not sure that I would read the next in the series.  For starters, the blurb basically misleads the reader . . .

The story is supposed to be about a girl named Rhee who is the last survivor of her imperial bloodline.  She wants revenge for the death of her family and a fight to get the throne.  A soldier, Aly, is falsely accused of killing Rhee and must fight to get out the truth in order to save himself and perhaps avert a war.

It says that “Rhee and Aly are thrown together” to save the world.  Ummm they see each other across the room once in this novel.  That’s it.  I kept waiting for their paths to cross.  Perhaps in the next novel.

Well basically Rhee is a super annoying protagonist.  Her method of getting revenge is subpar.  For supposedly being a badass, she basically jumps into everything with no thought and stumbles from one place to another.  She doesn’t have a real plan.  Her take on revenge is juvenile and she seems to have no inkling of how to be an empress or desire to be one.  She does not even appear to be willing to fight for herself.  She expects everyone to help her.

Aly on the other hand was the highlight of this novel.  He has the second POV.  I loved many of his chapters.  The fact that he has a robot buddy didn’t hurt.  He uses his brain, meets cool people on his travels, and doesn’t whine.  I wish the whole book was about him and his friend Kara.  Rhee could disappear and I think the story would improve.  He might be worth reading the second book for . . .

The plot itself had some extremely predictable points.  In addition, time jumps between chapters and POV with no real explanation of logistics.  The number of pods the characters steal without being caught (or even chased) sort of belied a feasible reality.  In fact the world-building and planets seemed rather lackluster.  As did the tech.  Though there was an exceptionally cool ship made of organic matter that I loved.  The book needed more fun details like that.

Again, I didn’t hate it.  I just did not think the world or tech or characters were anything new or stunning.  I think if ye never read a space opera yarn then this may be a book to lure readers into the genre.  But for me it was just an okay trip.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

To visit the author’s publisher’s website go to:

Rhoda Belleza – Author

To buy this novel to go:

empress of a thousand skies – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – rider’s revenge (Alessandra Clarke)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Older members of me crew may remember that before I gave me heart to the sea, I had an obsession with horses.  I read a myriad of pony books and so every now and again me soft spot for these types of stories leads me back to the equine world.  When I discovered this young adult novel involving a strong female rider I gave it a shot.  Plus this cover:

Pretty no?  Unfortunately while there be enjoyment in reading this novel, there be some many flaws as well.  Let’s look on the bright side first . . .

  • Horses.  The main horse in this novel was Fallion.  He is a special breed called an Amalanee.  Loyal, loving, speedy, strong, and special.  What’s not to like?  And he may or may not have special powers.
  • Strong female protagonist.  K’Irsa is a member of a nomadic tribe of horse loving people.  She can ride and shoot with the best of them.  She is loyal to her family and has morals.  I always like that.
  • Wonderful parent.  K’Irsa’s father is an encouraging, loving parent.  He loves his daughter even though she doesn’t not fit in the traditional tribal roles.  He facilitates her independence and pushes her to succeed.
  • Lodie.  This woman was a fun side character.  I enjoyed her very much and wish the book would have been her story instead.  Snarky, intelligent, and determined.  Yup.
  • Revenge.  I rather enjoyed the ramifications of getting revenge in this story.  Not the plot of the revenge itself but some of the ideas about what the consequences of fighting for revenge can be and what it can do to the person out to get it.
  • Moon and Sun stones.  I enjoyed the magic of these items.  But sadly they didn’t really play a huge enough part in the novel.

The not so good . . .

  • Horses.  Yes I know I picked the book for the ponies.  There were just not enough of them in the book.  Basically the horses only matter in the beginning of the story and the very end.  I wished that Fallion was central to the entire story.  Also I did not buy the story of how K’Irsa got him.
  • The female protagonist.  She may be strong and intelligent but she doesn’t always use her brain.  She can be impulsive.  K’Irsa likes to whine about how hard her life is despite her special treatment.  She is also rather naive about the world and the darker side of human nature.  Her internal monologue became rather wearisome.  She is a bit too much of a special snowflake.
  • The love story.  Ugh.  I rather hated it.  The two lovers first meet in a dream and are instant soul mates.  Sigh.  Of course when they meet, the cliches abound.  I did like the idea that the perfect dream lovers have major issues in real life but the plot twists concerning their relationship were just annoying and rather disheartening.  Obviously K’Irsa’s lover cannot be perfect if he can treat her like he does.  And she just sighs, justifies, and forgives him.  Because he can change!  No thanks.
  • The setting.  Basically there be the desert horse tribe and the city folk.  The city folk are evil and ignorant and commerce driven.  Okay fine.  But what was not fine in me world was that the city and politics seemed to be based on every cliche of Muslim society but worse.  The women are veiled, are property, and have no rights.  The Daliph’s harem, I mean Doranas, literally have their fingers encased in finger traps, wear metal corsets so they can’t really move, and have servants that have to feed, bathe, do everything for them.  They cannot eat or even shit without a man helping them.  And it’s considered a privilege.
  • The plot.  Ugh I am sorry but writing the last paragraph just made me more grumpy about the book as I wrote those thoughts out.  And if the setting bothered me, the plot was horrendous .  The strong female protagonist pretty much makes no major choices of her own.  Even the Gods give her directions at the beginning.  She actually tries to do the training to be a regular Dorana.  The justification is revenge.  The actuality is that most of the book finds her trapped in a room letting everyone dictate her life and thinking that it can be justified or okay in any circumstance.  I have to admit that I don’t like reliving the details of this.

So basically even though I got the next book in the series, I am not sure if I am going to read it . . . despite the cool ponies.  It is a novel that I seem to dislike more and more with reflection.  Some cool concepts.  Just not me type of execution.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

K’lrsa is a Rider for the White Horse Tribe who sets out to avenge the brutal murder of her father but finds herself in a society very different from the one she’s known. She also finds that revenge isn’t near as simple as she thought it would be and that she’ll have to choose between killing the man she thinks is responsible and being with the man she loves.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Alessandra Clarke – Author

To buy the novel go to:

rider’s revenge – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – scythe (Neal Shusterman)

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

Abandoned Ship On the Horizon – gilded cage (Vic James)

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

gilded cage (Vic James)

Title: gilded cage

Author: Vic James

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine / Del Ray

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

ISBN: 9780425284155

Source: NetGalley

This novel sounded awesome.  It is a young adult dystopian with a magical twist.  I thought this novel would float me boat. But I just could not finish it and had to abandon ship at 70%.  Even though I did skip to the end and read the last chapters.  Why ye ask?  Well for a myriad of reasons (in no particular order):

  • The revolution – it just got boring.  This is what killed the book for me.  I thought how the revolution began was rather uninspiring and the “dangerous” actions of the rebels felt lackluster.  Spray painting walls.  Hanging banners.  I mean I know it was only the beginning of the rebellion but I didn’t care about it at all and didn’t even want to read about it anymore.
  • Secondary characters – while I actually liked the main characters of Luke, Abi, and was even okay with Silyen, I had problems with many of the secondary characters being rather blah.  Silyen’s brother Gavar and Jenner were very flat with seemingly little psychology into why they did what they did.  Gavar was boorish and angry.  Jenner was ineffectual and a hand-wringer.  Add in sadistic guards, the hot love interest for Luke called Angel (Ugh!), and the rebels who happen to have super skills and I just felt underwhelmed.
  • That being said, I did love the sibling relationships between Luke, Abi and Daisy.  Also loved the street urchin Renie.  She hit all me soft spots.
  • The parents – well the good news is that parents are present in a young adult novel.  Luke and Abi had loving wonderful parents.  Okay there.  But the bad thing is that after seemingly being involved even tangentially in the beginning, they just disappear from the plot.  Silyen’s parents are present but seemingly to only have the father and mother be two-dimensional power hungry bad guys.
  • Insta-love – Sigh.  Jenner and Abi.  Blech.
  • Politics – the political maneuvering, which normally I love, was just not appealing.  Somehow the problem seemed to be the set-up for how the world functioned.  It just didn’t quite make sense.
  • The magic – cool concepts but again didn’t seem to have a premise that made complete sense.  I will will chalk it up to being a first in a trilogy.  However I did want more of the magic that added to the usual dystopian flavor.
  • I don’t normally read the endings of books I abandon but I guess the good news about the writing is while I didn’t want to have to “live” through it, I did want to know how this one tied up.  That was just more proof that I am done with this series.

With so many books on the horizon, I just gave up.  I want me reading to make time seem to disappear, not to accentuate every second passing.  I am sad, but I couldn’t fight the tide.

If ye want to read another take on this novel of me crew member that loved it check out this review from Beth @ Reading Every Night.

If ye want to read a take on this novel of me crew member who is in the minority with me check out this review from Millie @ Milliebot Reads.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine / Del Ray!

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

NOT ALL ARE FREE   –   NOT ALL ARE EQUAL   –   NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge…

ABI is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, she faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty–but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution…

Abi’s brother LUKE is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, Luke makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts…

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate–or destroy?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Vic James – Author

To buy the novel go to:

gilded cage – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – martians abroad (Carrie Vaughn)

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