Alice reviews Escape to Pirate Island by Niamh Murphy

Escape to Pirate Island cover showing a woman in a flowing red dress looking over the ocean at a pirate ship

This book! I want to take this book, parcel it into treasure map wrapping paper, and post it back in time to my fifteen year old self. Not that it’s a book for teenagers specifically, but it’s the book I craved so deeply back then. I loved it, it really did, and I hope you do too.

The story follows two daring ladies and their friends, the daring, smart smuggler Cat Meadows, and the brave, proud Lily Exquemlin, as they flee the day they lost everything and peg all their hopes on a ship and the hope of treasure. With pirates, betrayal, marooning, and swinging from the high ropes, this book is thrilling. You, my friend, are on the edge of an adventure.

It’s is a well-written tale, with an engaging and distinct cast of characters which all manage to come across and individual, self motivated people, with clear personalities. Perhaps the bad guys are little too bad guy without reason, but it wasn’t something I even noticed when I was reading as my heart was in my mouth all the way through for Cat, Lily, and their friends.

Sadly, despite being a pirate story, there is no apparent racial diversity in the book, and the only disabled character in the book gets killed off nice and quickly to put the main character down the path she needs to for this story to work. This is always frustrating with pirate stories, as pirates came from all corners of the world, and with sea surgeons hacking of every other limb to stop gangrene, there were plenty of seafarers who weren’t as able bodied as the cast of this story.

I grew up on the British coast and this story made me heartsick for the sea, for the promise of freedom that the horizon seems to promise, and why else would you be reading a pirate book? The romance was sweet and standard for a YA, which I feel is where the story tone sits best, but be aware it does have one ‘Mature’ scene. The story celebrates loyalty, yet understands loyalty.

Honestly? Read this story. It’s fun, well paced, well written, you lose all track of the real world when reading it… it’s a wonderful little book. I recommend it for anyone who is fed up of the mundane and wants a swashbuckling adventure alongside a cast of real people whom you’ll feel you know well.

Rachel reviews Taming the Wolff by Del Robertson

tamingthewolff

In this debut novel by Del Robertson, Taming The Wolff is a story of piracy, adventure, and love. Kris Wolff is a female pirate captain of The Wolfsbane who hides her true gender from most of her crew. She is aloof and reveals little about her past. She abducts a duchess and her two daughters for ransom. Alexis DeVale, one of the daughters, had been bound for an arranged marriage and now is captive on The Wolfsbane. She, like most others, believes Captain Wolff to be male. Kris protects her hostages from prying eyes, and though she and Alexis butt heads at first, an attraction between them is undeniable. Alexis soon discovers Kris’s secret, and wrestles with the idea of loving another woman. Meanwhile, The Wolfsbane is pursued relentlessly by naval officer Captain Jackson, who will stoop to torture and murder to obtain Kris. And during all this, Kris and Alexis must decide if they can have a future together.

Taming The Wolff gives readers insight to how being gay would be perceived in 1703, the year this book takes place. While Kris sees no problem with loving another woman, Alexis does. She was brought up in her family, society, and her church to think homosexuality was a sin. As a result, she has a hard time trying to reconcile her love for Kris. But that was a real factor back then; and still is today.

The characters of Kris and Alexis were complicated. I liked both women, but sometimes I found myself angry with them. I will not spoil the plot, but at one point, Alexis makes a sudden decision that to me seemed tacked in to the story. The explanation she gives for her action was rather unsatisfying, and I was thinking there had to be some better reason than what she was saying. When that turned out to not be the case, I was disappointed with the unexpected shift in the storyline. Also, Kris and Alexis had their arguments, like every couple. But some of the arguments seemed forced and interrupted the plot a bit. But maybe the purpose was to show how the two women were dealing with coming from two vastly different worlds and beliefs.

Those issues aside, the book had some good battle sequences and love scenes. Robertson accurately depicted the dangerous life of a pirate. There were many tense moments that had me wondering what would happen next. There were also enough twists and unexpected events to keep me reading on.

Taming The Wolff is a good book for those looking for adventure and surprises. Though not my absolute favorite, it can still be interesting and suspenseful.