The Captain’s Log – scythe (Neal Shusterman)

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

Ahoy there me mateys!  This cover and its title drew me in:

Isn’t that gorgeous?  So of course I had to know what it was about.  Turns out that Earth, with the help of a super computer, has no natural death, hunger, disease, war, etc.  But because the population still needs to be controlled, there are human scythes whose job it is to choose who will die.- within certain rules and parameters of course.

The story concerns Citra and Rowan, two teens, who are chosen to be trained as apprentice scythes.  Neither of them wants the job but both say yes for assorted reasons.  The catch is that only one of them will be chosen to advance as a scythe.  But each apprentice has to decide if they truly want the job as well as try to pass the appropriate tests..

The world and characters that the author set up were extremely interesting.  I liked the various scythes and how each chooses to approach the work.  I love the weird super computer.  I enjoyed both Citra and Rowan’s stories.  I thought the introduction to both of those characters as well as to their master scythe were especially well done and engaging.  There are a lot of lovely details that made this version of Earth come alive for me.

The flaw in the reading was in the plot.  The first half flew by and then the story seemed to stagnate.  The middle was kinda boring and there were some plot twists that I did not like at all.  But I kept reading because I loved the overall world set-up and wanted to know how it ended.  And I highly enjoyed how the author chose to conclude this first book.  I am not sure what will happen in the second book but I do believe I will read it.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neal Shusterman – Author

To buy the book go to:

scythe – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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

sinking ship

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)

pier

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

martians abroad (Carrie Vaughn)

Title: martians abroad

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

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

ISBN: 978-0765382207

Source: NetGalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillan-Tor/Forge!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Carrie Vaughn – Author

To buy the novel go to:

martians abroad – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Curiosities of the Deep – the night gardener (Jonathan Auxier)

davy jones locker

Well me mateys, here be another Curiosity of the Deep for your perusal.  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!  This be the start of another adventure.

the night gardener (Jonathan Auxier)

Ye see mateys, this Captain is always hankering for new places and stories and booty to haul.  Now, one day while plotting me next adventure, I came across a tale of splendor by Inge @ the belgian reviewer.  She shared the secrets of the Little Free Libraries hidden around the world and even provided a map that marked the treasure!

Now, I had heard rumors of these chests of delight and had occasionally glimpsed some from afar.  But here I was with time on me hands and trapped in port.  So what better time to go on a treasure hunt?  But beware and follow the Code . . .

So with me first mate and me trusty spyglass, we set off into the interior for a look-see.  The goal was to visit two likely spots.  Now one of the main rules of the Code is that ye can take whatever booty ye like from the chest but have to replace it with an similar offering.  Or later return the spoils ye took from that spot.  If ye do somethin’ different ye might find yerself visitin’ ole Davy Jones. Finding the X that marks the spot twice can be difficult especially if ye be away sailin’ the high seas.  So I tend to bring an offering.  I only had two with me that day.

The first found treasure chest was small, tucked away, and rather difficult to find.  The journey involved lots of wanderin’ in circles and peerin’ through the brush.  But I be determined to check it out.  The haul was tiny but fun.  Just enough to whet the appetite for more adventure!  So from the first chest, I took a super tiny tome about the history women of the air and exchanged me first offering.  But I was off to look for more booty!

After two duels with locals, more circle wandering, a stop at a local tavern for some grog, and such, we found our way to the second treasure chest.  And oh what glorious baubles awaited!  The first mate stood watch while me eyes roamed for the perfect fit and that is when I saw this:

The picture does not do it justice.  The cover was literally gleaming in the light and oh so shiny.  I picked it up and just knew it was the one for me!  I left me second offering with glee and made me way back to me ship.  The haul was a success.  But oh to explore the new acquisition . . .

It was wonderful.  This is a young adult novel that tells a Victorian style ghost story.  Two siblings, Molly and Kip, go to work in a sinister mansion and barely get out with their lives.  I loved the siblings, the storytelling, the monster, and the morals.  I loved the growth of all of the characters in the novel, especially Kip.  I loved the horse, Galileo.  I thought  the ending was particularly fantastic because of how the people worked together.  It was mesmerizing.  I don’t want to give much more away than that because frankly the beauty is in the writing and the details both of which I cannot explain adequately and want the reader to experience for themselves.

To sum up . . . read this book!  I am absolutely thrilled that me adventures brought me to this previously unknown and beautiful gem.

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

The Night Gardener is a Victorian ghost story about two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jonathan Auxier – Author

To buy the book go to:

the night gardener – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Abandon Ship – the lost property office (James R. Hannibal)

Giant_octopus_attacks_ship

Sadly me mateys, it is time to abandon ship!

the lost property office (James R. Hannibal)

Ye see, I got this one from a local library. which of course has deadlines.  Despite the short length and the adequate time before the return date, I read a little over half of the novel before the book was due.  Now normally that would make me one grumpy Captain.  I just shrugged and put the book on hold again.  Should have been a sign.  Then I got the novel a second time and started readin’ again only to bail out.

This book started out strong.  The story concerns Jack Buckles who is in London with his family because his father has died . . . or has he?  Turns out Jack is the 13th Buckles and thus a tracker in a secret society who has secret abilities.

I adore the setting and the premise of the story.  It deals with the real life mystery of the Great Fire of London in 1666 whose cause remains unknown to this day.  There is a nice blending of historical people and places.  There were some nods to Sherlock and Watson.  I loved the magic properties of “sparking.”  The ideas of the second secret London Tube system were particularly lovely.  I so wanted it to exist.  It made me miss living in London with a fierce ache.

Then why abandon it?  Small things that added up.  Basically Jack spends over half the book bumbling around clueless and being dragged around by Gwen, a girl who has grown up in the secret society.  Gwen has answers to many of Jack’s questions.  However, there is so much action, that most of the time ye find out the answer after something has happened in a “info-dump” dialogue format while they are running to their next action setting.  It started to bug me.

Other small details: Sadie, Jack’s sister, is around in the beginning to help set-up the story then conveniently “gets locked up” early on and Jack just leaves her there.  The villain was introduced early on and seemed rather two dimensional.  The sheer number of buildings, towers, and streets that the characters visit for what seems like moments before dashing away again.

It just didn’t float me boat.  I know it is a series and so perhaps the info-dumps will lessen and the plot will thicken but I will not be perusing the rest.  I am in the minority on this one it seems so feel free to disagree with me and point me towards yer opposing reviews!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.

But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.

Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?

To visit the author’s website go to:

James R. Hannibal – Author

To buy the book go:

the lost property office – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the thirteenth princess (Diane Zahler)

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

Ahoy there me mateys!  I am a fan of fairytale retellings and so when I saw the title and this cover:

I was intrigued.  It is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses and I love that story.  The highlights of this story were the main character, Zita and her friend Breckin, the stableboy.  I liked how a 13th princess was added to the story and how she had to save the day.  With the help of her friends of course.

The plot does meander a bit and I knew the evil character practically at once so that hampered me enjoyment a little.  However Zita is lively and smart and loving.  The 12 princesses are basically interchangeable and hard to tell apart.  But getting more of the story from the perspective of the working characters of the kingdom like the Cook, soldiers, and such was a nice twist.  I also liked the juxtaposition of Zita the servant and Zita the princess.

Altogether this book is worth a read but I do not believe I would add it to me favorites shelf to be reread.

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

The Thirteenth Princess is the story of Zita, the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita’s father banished her to the servants’ quarters, where she must work in the kitchen and can only communicate with her royal sisters insecret. Then, after Zita’s twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes.

With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot—and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Diane Zahler – Author

To buy the book go to:

the thirteenth princess – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – if you could be mine (Sara Farizan)

Animal - Sea mammal - Whale - Whale ship logging book 07-583x1000

Ahoy there me mateys!  As a reader I tend to have me favorite genres and authors.  However I also like to experience new cultures and ideas.  That is one of the best things about having this Log – I get recommendations on novels from readers all over the world.

One of me more favorite things going around the blogosphere is the call to read more diverse books.  This particular novel was called to me attention by Aimal @ bookshelves and paperbacks in one of her diversity spotlight thursday posts.  It deals with a female/female relationship in the Middle East.  I sadly know little about that part of the world outside of some few non-fiction books I have read.  I do believe in the rights of LGBTQ persons and so the look into a culture dealing with a rather unspoken issue intrigued me.  I picked up a copy.

The story is set in Tehran,  The main protagonist, Sahar, has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since she was six and has always wanted to marry her.  This story is told from her point of view.  Nasrin, does love Sahar but is conflicted about going against her parents and society’s expectations.  Their love could spell death for both of them if they are found out.  Then, Nasrin’s parents arrange a marriage for her.  How is Sahar going to handle this and what can she do to stop it?

Sahar’s perspective is heart-wrenching.  If possible, I like to write me reviews immediately after finishing a book so that I can capture me thoughts clearly.  But this novel had me pondering for hours about me feelings of the culture, religion, and interpersonal relationships of the characters.  Also how do ye write a review of a novel about a culture that you know so little about and have only this one author’s work on a serious issue to form an opinion?  Well here goes . . .

Ultimately this book seems to this Captain to be a realistic portrayal of young forbidden love in a very conservative society.  In particular, I found the transgender issues to be eye-opening.  I had no idea that the culture and religion in Iran allowed for transgendered people to undergo sex-reassignment surgery.  Of course, just because it is allowed that does not make the choices or consequences easy.  The book was very clear on that.

In terms of characters, I loved Sahar.  She is intelligent, loyal, and loving.  She literally seems willing to go through any lengths for her love.  I was not as enthralled with Nasrin.  Though her love for Sahar did seem genuine, she also seemed like a spoiled rotten brat pretty much throughout the entire novel.  I did try to empathize with how enormously hard it would be for her to go against society and her parents and face negative consequences.  But alas, I felt that Sahar always deserved better.

Why?  Because in this story young teens’ love can somehow always seem to be the end all be all of life.  Sahar seems to be the one willing to give up everything for love.  Nasrin takes a more traditional and in some ways more realistic approach.

Do I wish with all my heart that Sahar and Nasrin could have had their choice to be together fulfilled?  That they lived in a society where being together could have been a viable choice?  That they could somehow live happily ever after.  Yes.  Very much yes.

But from a different perspective, Nasrin wanted children.  I don’t know about alternative means of having children in Tehran but would it even be possible if she and Sahar had stayed together?  Would Sahar grow to be fed up with Nasrin’s selfishness?  Would an everyday relationship grown to be a strain without the “forbidden aspects” of their relationship adding spice?  I am not saying that first love is lesser or that their relationship seemed false.  It definitely seemed real in this novel.  But life does force unwanted paths sometimes.  The ending of the novel seemed to suggest that life would somehow work out for the both of them but perhaps not ever in the manner in which they first wanted.  At least I hope so . . .

So I found this novel to be compelling, thought-provoking, and certainly worth everyone reading.  I will continue to foray into diverse books.  It may not make me a better person but the perspectives are certainly not my own and they different cause me to challenge my own understandings and for that I am grateful . . .

Want to find out more about this author?

Check out The Hub’s diverse books spotlight on Sara Farizan.

Want another good blogger who promotes diverse books?

Check out Naz @ read diverse books

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

To visit the author’s page on her publisher’s website go to:

Sara Farizan – Author

To buy the book go to:

if you could be mine – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List