Devil’s Ballast: YA historical fiction review

42285280. sy475 Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
– Thanks Text 🖤
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ANNE Bonny was eighteen when she ran away from her
violent husband, James, into the arms of pirate captain
Calico Jack Rackham. Now she’s ensconced aboard Jack’s
ship Ranger, passing as a cabin boy, and playing her
ruthless part in a crew that is raining down mayhem and
murder on the ships of the Caribbean.

But James Bonny is willing to pay to get his ‘property’
back. And pirate-hunter Captain Barnet is happy to take
his money.

The Ranger’s a fast ship: Anne might just be able
to outrun Barnet. But can she outrun the consequences
of her relationship with Calico Jack?

Action-packed yet nuanced, culturally relevant and
sharp as a cutlass, this new novel by the remarkable
Meg Caddy brings to life one of history’s most fascinating

I was over the moon when this book landed in my PO Box and I was itching to get into it immediately. But alas life got in the way and it took me longer to get to her read than I would have liked.

Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy is a fictionalised historical YA tale based on the life of female pirate Anne Bonny, that came out on the 7th of may. The story opens with:
“I counted fifteen dead men working the deck of the Kingston.
Well, they weren’t dead yet, but the day was young and I had a full belt of shot.”
Of yeah, that got me excited for a rip roaring story of pirate-y murder and mayhem.

The book is set at the start of Bonny’s pirating career, when she first runs off to sea and subsequently meets Read (Mary Read, another notoriously famous female pirate from yesteryear). The friendship between Bonny and Read was the shining highlight of the book for me and I would love to read a sequel that follows the two creating pirate-y mayhem together.

Anne Bonny is somewhat considered a historical bisexual figure, so I was a little disappointment when her only sexual love interested was a man. I got over it when a friendship started to develop between Bonny and Read. I felt it was their confiding in each other and the mutual respect and friendship that grew, to be what really picked up the pace of the story and had me racing through the pages until the end.

There is no way to historically prove that Bonny was bisexual, where as her relationship with Calico Jack is documented – so you can’t blame Caddy for using him as her love interest – but personally I would like to have seen those bisexual rumours/suspicions explored, even if only a little.

Both in real life and in this book Anne Bonny and Mary Read partook in cross-dressing: Bonny to hide the fact she was a woman and Read to hide the body he’d been born with. With Read being transgender and the kinship between him and Bonny, ultimately I feel like I did get a queer fix with this book. So yay for that.

I think the authors note at the end of the book sums it up. “…it should be noted that almost every account of her life, including this one, is filled with sensationalism, mysteries, inconsistencies, rumour and outright lies. I think she’d like it that way.” I think both Bonny and Read would like it that way 🙂

“Nothing like a stiff drink after a good murder”, Read murmured.
“Just so.” Darling pulled up a chair. “What are we going to do with the bodies?”
“Harbour after dark.”
“A time-honoured tradition,” he agreed.

Conclusion: If you are a lover of pirate filled tales and strong leading female characters, then this is the book for you. If you were hoping to see a bisexual icon taring up the seas taking up a variation of lovers along the way, then this won’t hit the spot. But it’s still a damn good read that I enjoyed. I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel – so I think that in it’s self says enough.

Devil’s Ballast and Meg Caddy links: Goodreads | Text Publishing | Booktopia | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Bookdepository 

Thanks for visiting 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Never Again: Paranormal Review

36543599Never Again by Lily Luchesi
Genre: blended fiction; paranormal-historical-horror (MA15+)
Publication: December 2nd 2017
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Source: Review copy from Author
Thank You Lily
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My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

In this standalone spin-off of the Paranormal Detectives Series, we discover the true horrors during Hitler’s reign.

In World War Two, not all monsters were human.

Male siren Sean Wireman was ostracized from his small village in Israel in the sixteenth century, forced to wander the world until he settled in America in the 1920’s. Since he doesn’t age like a normal person, he was fit to fight in World War Two, to defend the heritage he spent his whole life running from.

Seventy years later, after he has lived a whole other life since Hitler was defeated, from attending law school to becoming a bona fide rock star, the monsters the Nazis released upon the Jews in concentration camps have returned, and he is the only one who can destroy them.

But can he save his people once again, or will this fight take a deadly toll?

I finished reading Never Again and pondered the book producing powerhouse that is Lily Luchesi. I think Never Again is my favourite book of hers to date and i’ve read quite a few since coming across her looking for reviewers for Stake-Out (PDS#1) in a goodreads request group. It feels like forever but when I looked it up it was actually early 2015. Damn Girl, you have bled out a phenomenal amount of words in the last three years. I’ve enjoyed Lily’s writing from the beginning, but it feels as if she’s found her rhythm, her knack and she’s grown confident and is owning her style now.

Lily has really outdone herself this time with Never Again. The writing is strong and confident, the story compelling, a blend of paranormal and real world historical events.

There is swearing. There are some extremely deplorable and violent bad guys (obviously as a large chunk of the book features war). As well as post-traumatic stress disorder being explored in detail. But there is also love and hope to balance out the hate and despair.

The story’s sole protagonist is Sean, a 526-year-old male siren who originated in Israel. Thanks to his slowed siren aging process for the most part of the story he only looks like he’s aged between 20 to 40.

526 years – does he have a story to tell? You bet he does. His life story. 526 years, experiencing ancient Israel, the Ottoman Empire, the Tudors, the Nazis and modern rock and roll. Sean is, despite his species and the fact he regularly refers to himself as an asshole, a good guy and a war hero.

So yes this is a Paranormal Detectives Series Spin-off and if you’ve read any of the PSD books you’ll recognise a fair few characters and locations. But if you haven’t that’s okay, this this is a stand alone and a great way to get a feel for Lily’s writing style.

Lily’s Links: Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Mini Reviews: a Summer Anthology + My Lady Jane + Fangirl

28817799Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev GrossmanNina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Jennifer E. Smith

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love. Goodreads View. 
My Thoughts: Of course I found some stories more enjoyable than others, but that is to be expected in an anthology. Over all this book has a good mix of contemporary and paranormal stories, with a pleasantly diverse range of characters.
I would have to say that my favorite story was A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith and on it’s merit (and that fact that I didn’t dislike any of the stories) that I’m giving the anthology a FIVE STAR rating as a whole – yes it was that frigging adorable (and also the majority of the stories ranked high with me).

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo – 4/5 Stars. The End of Love by Nina LaCour – 4/5 Stars. Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – 2/5 Stars. Sick Pleasure for A and U by Francesca Lia Block – 2/5 Stars. In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – 4/5 Stars. Souvenirs by Tim Federle – 3/5 Stars. Inertia by Veronica Roth – 5/5 Stars. Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron – 3/5 Stars. Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – 5/5 Stars. Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – 3/5 Stars. A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – 5/5 Stars. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – 3/5 Stars.


My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England. Goodreads View. 

My Thoughts: This was a super fun romp, rewriting a much more enjoyable life story for some rather famous historic figures e.g. Edward VI of England and Lady Jane Grey. I’ve watched documentaries on Henry VIII of England, Edwards father, so I knew who he was, but I actually had to look up Lady Jane Grey. And yes I much prefer the life Hand, Ashton and Meadows have written for her.
I loved the whole the “Verities” verses “Edians” thing, filling the void for the ever present religious drama that’s always in the background of historic stories. Having the Edians (shapeshifters) added a comic element to this romantic romp that really made the story shine for me. FOUR I really liked it STARS.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? Goodreads View.

My Thoughts: Oh how cute this was! Falling in love with Levi was a lovely distraction 😛 I was absorbed by Cath’s world and got to take a break from my life for a day. Reading this was like getting a soul warming hug. FOUR I really liked it STARS. Nawww book hugs!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.


My Thoughts:

Almost demonic!! Their love is demonic, especially on Heathcliff’s side.

At times the book is filled with pointless ramblings and unlovable characters, but still you find you are compelled to read it till the end.

This is the second time I’ve read Wuthering Heights. The first time was when I was fifteen and now again at twenty seven. I’m glad I’ve read it a second time, I definitely appreciated it more and sometime down the track, perhaps in another twelve years, I’ll read it again.

While I was reading it I hated Heathcliff and Catherine but when all was said and done and I was reflecting to write this review I found myself growing fonder of them. I guess it would be wrong to hate them because their behaviour when it was there surroundings that made them behave so, BUT I really don’t want to excuse their disgusting behaviour.

This is definitely not a knight in shining armour love story or a light and happy one. Maybe because it’s not fairy tale it’s more true to real life? Because love can hurt and families can be horrid to one another. The real world sucks so I like my books to create an escape to a better place.

For me to fall in love with a book, I have to fall in love with the characters or at least like them.

I loved Elizabeth & Jane Bennet (oh and that divine Mr Darcy) so I Loved Pride & Prejudice.

I’ve got a thing for that power house Jack Reacher and hence enjoy Mr Child’s Reacher series.

Hell I even fell in love with Bella Swan, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black.

But what does Ms Bronte give us;

Heathcliff – Manic Evil Psychopath. He really is the main character for the most part. We find out all about his long twisted love affair and his sick fancy to destroy the happiness of everyone around him. I mean come on, the sick bastard gets Catherine’s coffin opened up eighteen years after her death just to look at her What The F#*k! Who does that? A crazy psychopath called Heathcliff driven by a demonic love, that’s who!!

Catherine (the 1st) – Well she isn’t much better than Heathcliff. She’s given everything under the sun and still carries on like a little bitch.

Edgar Linton – A bland stupid but sweet man

Hindley Earnshaw – Weak drunken waste of a man

Mr Lockwood – Nosy busybody, who the story could do without completely. He really is pointless! Just let Nelly tell the story without him at all. The dude moves into a new area and then sets about harassing his maid to give him all the gossip on his landlord and the Wuthering Heights residents. Yeah and that’s the whole premise for the retelling of the story.

Joseph – (I dislike this character the most) Mean spirited long winded god fearing douche bag without a heart.

Isabella Linton – Stupid stupid girl

Linton Heathcliff – Scared sickly traitorous whingeing wretch

The only characters to deserve compassion are: Nelly ‘Ellen’ Dean, Catherine (the 2nd) and Hareton Earnshaw – thank goodness they get a happy ending.

Now I’m being very harsh, I did actually enjoying reading this story and once it was over and I was reflecting on it, I decided I did in fact LIKE the book and yes one day I would read it again LOL.

So yes I did enjoy it, but I really can’t pin point why! I can bitch about the things that irked me. I can understand Cathy and Heathcliff, but I can’t love them. It’s nice to end with Nelly, Hearton and Cathy coming together. The last three or four chapters about them make reading the book worthwhile, at least that is how I felt after I immediately finished reading it. But still I’m drawn back to thinking about Heathcliff and Cathy. I will admit if I wasn’t for all the dark, hatred and mistreatment throughout the story the ending wouldn’t have been so light, happy and wished for.

I think this book will always sit uneasily with me. I can’t decide if its 2 stars (it was ok) 3 stars (I liked it) or 4 stars (I really liked it) – It’s definitely not 1 star hate it or 5 star Love it, so at least I can narrow it down LOL. But I did like it so I’ll just go with 3 stars and leave it at that.

WOW I think I ramble on a bit too much here :-I my apologies people.