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review 2018-06-11 15:24
Over Raging Tides (Lady Pirates, #1) by Jennifer Ellision
Over Raging Tides (Lady Pirates, #1) - Jennifer Ellision

Over Raging Tides is the first book in the Lady Pirates series, and going by this one, I can't wait to continue with this series. Grace has been a pirate since the age of seven, and is now Quartermaster and First Mate of Lady Luck, a pirate ship with an all-female crew. There is rivalry between her and Celia, the other woman who wanted the Quartermaster role. Grace's mother was taken from her when she was younger, by creatures of the sea that aren't friendly! Everyone presumes she is dead, including her love, the Captain of the ship. Things get interesting when Grace rescues two brothers from the Mordgris and brings them on-board. Her life changes and she sees things she never saw before.

 

This story was amazing and gripped me from the very start. The world building is amazing, and rich in history. The characters are well developed, although obviously some are more than others. One of my favourite characters is Sam, and I can't wait to see what she will do next. There were no editing or grammatical errors that disrupted my reading flow, and the pacing was very smooth.

 

One word for you though - cliffhanger! This is the first book in the series so it does end with one almighty cliffhanger that will leave you wanting book two immediately. Unfortunately for me, it's not actually released yet, so I will have to wait oh-so-patiently!

 

For a clean, nautical adventure, with magic, mayhem, and a good dosing of rum, then I can highly recommend this book! Another corker by Jennifer Ellision.

 

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *

 

Merissa

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

 

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2018/04/20/Over-Raging-Tides-Lady-Pirates-1-by-Jennifer-Ellision
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review 2018-05-28 22:49
Book Review of Balanced on the Blade's Edge (Dragon Blood Book 1) by Lindsay Buroker
Balanced on the Blade's Edge - Lindsay Buroker

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives…

 

Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.

 

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in the Dragon Blood series. I loved it!

 

Colonel Ridge Zirkander is a wonderful character. I really liked him. In fact, I have a bit of a book boyfriend crush on him. I love his irreverence and dry wit. It reminds me of the way Richard Dean Anderson portrays Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG1. He is one of the best pilots in the Iskandian army. He is charming, though irreverent, and his flying skills are in great demand, but due to an event that sees him punching a diplomat he has been given new orders and sent to prison mine in the Ice Blade mountains as the new commander. The mine contains crystals that power their dragon fliers - planes that are designed to look like the dragons that once lived millennia ago. When he arrives at the mine, he is confronted by an unusual sight - a woman wearing a summer dress in the middle of winter.

 

Sardelle Terushan is also a wonderful character. I liked her a lot. She is a sorceress and a healer. When her home, where the Referatu lived came under attack, she found refuge in a mage stasis chamber. There she stayed until she woke three hundred years later, when she was found by a couple of miners. Determined to locate her soulblade, Jaxi, but struggling to come to terms with the amount of time that's passed, she finds herself confronted by the challenge of hiding her powers in a world that detests magic users, and her attraction to the new mine commander.

 

This story is a mix of steampunk and fantasy. I started to read and didn't put it down until I finished it. I found myself completely hooked from the first page. I love the world-building the author has done to bring this book to life. I also love Jaxi, Sardelle's soulblade. She is a young sorceress who died due to illness, but before dying, her soul was magically placed within a sword. Soulblades bond with their handlers until their handlers die; guide or assist them when needed, then either bond to a new handler or allow themselves to die when they no longer wish to serve. Jaxi is six hundred years old, but because she died young she has a decidedly teen outlook at times, with sarcasm being one of her tools, as well as an irreverence for a person's privacy. I love her witty banter, some of it had me giggling.

 

Iskandia is at war with Cofahre, a rival nation that is determined to take over Iskandia. The Cofah use dirigible type balloons to fly over the ocean, thus the steampunk feel to the story. The Iskandian pilots fly planes that are shaped like dragons but remind me of the old-fashioned planes from the early 1900s - lightweight - though with a mix of propeller and thrusters which reminds me of the Harrier jets that use something similar sans the propeller. The author has mixed these two to create something unique. As the story progressed, I found myself looking forward to seeing how it all played out.

 

Ridge and Sardelle make a wonderful couple and their chemistry is instantaneous. I love how the author wove their love story together with action filled sections that kept me on the edge of my seat. The magical owl is uber scary! There are a couple of scenes between these two that are a little steamy but not explicit. I must admit that I felt a little sorry for Ridge at times, as he gets two for the price of one in this relationship, but he seems to take things in his stride. I reached the end of the book and immediately went and purchased as many books in the series I could, as well as pre-ordered the next book in the series which was due to be released. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Deathmaker, as soon as I can.

 

Lindsay Buroker is a new author to me. I love her fast paced writing style, and the flow is wonderful too. I haven't read any of her other books before, however, she has found a fan in me. I am looking forward to reading her other book series as soon as I can.

 

Due to scenes of a sexual nature (though not explicit) and some violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love steampunk, paranormal romance, low fantasy and epic fantasy genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-05-04 14:08
Over Raging Tides: Get Ready for a Wave of Lady Pirates
Over Raging Tides (Lady Pirates, #1) - Jennifer Ellision

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Jennifer Ellision for granting me access to a copy of this book. I am truly grateful. It is an honor.

 

Grace Porter is the quartermaster and first mate of the Lady Luck, their ship. Her mother was taken by hideous and dreadful monsters called the Mordgris when she was young. She still believes that her mother is alive but hidden where the Mordgris lives. One day, their ship encounters a shipwreck, only to find not treasure but men, the last thing their crew wants to see. On the brink of being devoured by the Mordgris, Grace finds herself saving a boy and his brother and taking them in, which is against their rules. After this, a chain of events start, not just for Grace but also for the Luck.

 

I like the concept of switching the stereotype of men being the usual pirates. This generation is about change, and being different and unique, standing out. This book just makes the right amount of different because it beats certain stereotypes.

 

The fact that the origin of this concept was from watching a Pirates of the Caribbean movie adds a drop of awesomeness to the mix. Have you seen that cover? Amazing. Pure beauty.

 

Every chapter has something different and it relates to an article of the Lady Luck. The format was cool. I admired the writing style because it is comfortable and easy on the eyes, nothing too hard.

 

For me, I think that it lacks details or descriptions of the pirate world, just a little. I could imagine living the pirate life but something’s missing. As for the characters, most characters are molded great but the supporting could’ve had more “book time.” All of them are different in their own way and I want to be able to learn more about them because they all seem so interesting.

 

Some parts were predictable but some weren't what I expected. I felt bad about is the lack of pages. That ending left me wanting more. More action. More of the pirate-y life. It just screams a sequel. The book could’ve been much better if it was longer. Also... I need more moments of my ship.

 

This book would give you: (lady) pirates, sea monsters, betrayal, a strong-willed heroine, an adorable relationship of a captain and her first mate, crew of lighthearted and fierce lady pirates, a protective love between two brothers, a few moments of betrayal, a budding romance, and perhaps some treasure. If you’re up for all that and for a quick and fast-paced read, this book would be a good pick.

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review 2018-03-22 18:31
Blackbeard: The Birth of America Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton
Blackbeard: The Birth of America - Samuel Marquis

Blackbeard: The Birth of America

Samuel Marquis

Print Length: 544 pages

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing (February 6, 2018)

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B078YMVZ8F

https://www.amazon.com/Blackbeard-Birth-America-Samuel-Marquis-ebook/dp/B078YMVZ8F

 

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

Over the years, I’ve read a number of Samuel Marquis’s historical thrillers. I’ve become a fan who’s happy with pretty much every volume, many of which are set during World War II. Among the many surprises of his new Blackbeard is the time period the story is set in. I’ve never associated Marquis with the early decades of the 18th century or the seas of the Caribbean and the pirates that sailed on them circa 1716-1718.

 

Another major surprise is Marquis’s portrayal of Blackbeard, the privateer turned pirate. I was surprised to see the pirate always referred to as Edward Thatch and not Edward Teach, the surname I always associated with Blackbeard. Well, Google for both names and both names will come up in multiple entries. Whatever handle Marquis gives his character, few readers are likely to anticipate seeing Blackbeard painted in the most heroic portrait possible, at least for the first two/thirds of the book. 

 

Marquis’s Blackbeard tries to avoid violence by only attacking ships that offer little resistance to minimize the carnage his crew might endure.   He’s a giant figure, a charismatic leader able to use eloquence to sway his extremely democratic sea-farers to his point of view. The pirates operate within the rules of the “articles” that give every man an equal vote in important decisions and an equal share in any booty. There is no racism.  We see this most evident in the character of Cesar, a former black slave now devoted to Blackbeard.

 

The pirates’ motives are in part economic, part political, and part a lust for the free life.  At first, pirate captains have charters given to them by royal governors based in the New World to attack Spanish and French ships.  But many dislike British King George from the House of Hanover and would prefer the crowning of James III from the House of Stuart.   For such reasons, Blackbeard’s small but powerful flotilla start attacking British ships in part to rebel against those who are rich and abusive to the common man.   The pirates start describing themselves as “Robin Hoods,” distributing wealth much more fairly than royal charters.

 

Another major character is Steede Bonnet, a Barbados plantation owner who throws it all away to become a pirate for the freedom of a life at sea despite his less than adequate knowledge of sea-going ways. Woven throughout the scenes set in the Caribbean and up the Atlantic coast, we also spend time on land with Alexander Spotswood, the despotic, vindictive and tyrannical lieutenant governor of Virginia. For Spotswood, capturing Blackbeard is a political move calculated to curry favor in England.  Very unpopular with his colony’s citizens, he suppresses any desires brought to him from the Virginia House of Burgesses that might erode his powers. He despises the new term of “Americans” and, in many ways, embodies the complaints the founders of the United States would fight against in just over fifty years.

 

So the “Golden Age of Piracy” is portrayed as the precursor for the American Revolution with Blackbeard and his cohorts the real patriots, at least in their own opinion.    In Marquis’s realm, these salty dogs never lacked for self-righteous self-justification. I suspect it’s my own preconceived notions, but I frequently found it difficult to accept the verisimilitude of these noble scalawags. I am perhaps a modern victim of the propaganda that cast Blackbeard as a vicious criminal in Boston newspapers of the time. I was also put off a bit by Marquis frequently repeating his points over and over which seemed like rather overdoing it. Padding?

 

The book never really builds up a head of steam, at least until the final third where Blackbeard realizes his flotilla has grown too large, that the British admiralty is about to end the age of freebooting piracy, and he makes some turning-point choices very different from what we’ve come to expect from him. Lots of surprises in this fast-moving section of the book.

 Throughout, Marquis’s gifts for description and character development are on full display to take his readers to times and places that, in this case, are captured in ways few of us would expect.    His closing end notes make it clear he sketched out most of this novel drawing from a wide spectrum of resources, many of them of rather recent vintage.

 

So, from page one to his appendices, unless you too are a Blackbeard scholar, Blackbeard: The Birth of America will be a constantly eye-opening series of surprises. You’ll feel certain you’re learning something as the story progresses. Pirates as the original American revolutionaries? Marquis builds a vivid and convincing case that is so.  

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on March 20, 2018:

http://1clickurls.com/IALg5lv

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review 2018-03-08 14:42
Brief biographies of fascinating women, ideal to dip in and be inspired to learn more.
Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood? - Dee Gordon

Thanks to Alex and the whole team at Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Although totally unplanned, I find myself writing this review on the International Women’s Day 2018. One can’t help but wonder about the title of the book, not so much the wicked or misunderstood part (some definitely seem to fall into one of the two categories, while many share characteristics of both, although that depends on the point of view), but the Bad Girls. In my opinion, it makes perfect sense for the argument of the book, as the expression bad woman has a certain meaning and connotations attached to it (very moralistic and misogynistic), while perhaps bad girl allows for a more playful and varied reading. And it has nothing to do with age (the catalogue of historical figures examined by the author includes a large number of women who died quite young, but there are others who lived to ripe old ages as well). It is, ultimately, a matter of self-definition. But I digress.

This book shares a collection of brief biographies (the vast majority are under a couple of pages long), of women, organised in a number of chapters that group women in several categories (although some overlap and the author has to make a choice as to which group a particular figure belongs to). These chapters are: 1) Courtesans and Mistresses; 2) Madams, Prostitutes, and Adulterers; 3) Serial Killers; 4) ‘One-Off’ Killers; 5) Gangsters, Thieves and Con-Artists; 6) The Rebel Collection – Pirates, Witches, Megalomaniacs, Exhibitionists. The book also contains a brief bibliography (I guess otherwise a second volume would have been necessary just to include all the sources), and there are pictures of the women (portraits, photographs, illustrations), and also documents, newspaper cuttings, letters…

Although I was familiar with quite a few of the women featured (in the case of Mata Hari, for example, I had read a book about her not long ago, although in many others I still discovered things I didn’t know) there were also quite a number that I had heard the names of but didn’t know much about, and others that were completely new to me. I have no doubt that most people reading this book will think about other women they would have added to the collection, but I would say all of the women included deserve to be there. This is not a judgment of character though, as that is not what this book is about. The author’s style is engaging and, despite the briefness of the vignettes, she manages to make these women compelling (and horrifying in some cases), and she is at pains to try and paint as balanced a picture as possible, rather than just present them according to the prevalent morality of their time. Reality and legend are sometimes difficult to tell apart, but the author, tries (and at times acknowledges defeat and provides the most interesting versions of a woman’s story available).  

Among the many women in the book, I was particularly intrigued by Jane Digby (1807-1881), a lover of travel and an adventurer who also had a talent for choosing interesting men, Enriqueta Martí (1868-1913), who lived in Barcelona and who, according to recent research might not have been guilty of the horrific crimes she was accused of (I won’t talk about it in detail, but let’s say that, if it was true, she was not called The Vampire of Barcelona for nothing), Princess Caraboo (aka Mary Baker: 1791-1864), who knew how to come up with a good story, or Georgia Tann (1891-1950), that I felt intrigued by when I read that Joan Crawford (who has featured in one of my recent reads) had been one of her clients. But there are many others, and of course, this is a book that will inspire readers to do further research and look into the lives of some of these women (or even write about them).

The women in each chapter are organised in alphabetical order, and that means we jump from historical period to historical period, backward and forward, but there is enough information to allow us to get a sense of how society saw these women and how class, patronage, social status, money… influenced the way they were treated. There are personal comments by the author, but she is non-judgemental and it is impossible to read this book, especially some of the chapters, without thinking about the lot of women, about how times have changed (but not as much as we would like to think, as evidenced by recent developments and campaigns), and about how behaviours that from a modern perspective might show strength of character, intelligence, and independence, at the time could condemn a woman in the eyes of society, ruining her reputation and/or destroying her life.

A book to dip in to learn about social history and the role of women, and also one that will inspire readers to read more about some of these women (and others) that, for better or worse, have left a mark. A great starting point for further research into the topic, and a book that will make us reflect about the role of women then and now.

 

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