Sam Sarkar's The Vault - issue 2 in stores now!

The second of three issues of Sam Sarkar's THE VAULT is in stores today! 

 HURRY before they're gone!!  

Cover art: ImageComics

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

The Last Letter From Your Lover
By Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman Books, $26.95

Publisher's synopsis:
It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband. 
Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance. 

My thoughts - I just loved this book!  I admit it. I loved it. It's kind of an old fashioned love story.  But not really.  There, how much more confused can I make you? I don't ever want to mislead you all. This is really a modern love story, but it takes place in two time periods.

At first we meet Jennifer in her hospital bed, after a car wreck and she's having to step into a life that's completely foreign to her. Her husband, her house, her friends, her own way of living...are all alien to her. She even has to figure out where she puts her things away, how she folds her lingerie. She doesn't "get" her friends' jokes or what kind of world and life she and her husband shared. And does she really like her life?

And then she finds a letter. A love letter.  Not from her husband, it's from Boot. Boot?

Zip forward to 2003... it's over forty years later and Ellie while searching in the storage area of the newspaper where she works, Ellie discovers these letters, from Boot.

Author Jojo Moyes has written a stunningly beautiful book.  I immediately felt sad for Jennifer. A stranger in her own body and in her own home. And then felt equally sad for Ellie, in her own way, struggling in her own unhappy life.

The Last Letter From Your Lover pretty much sneaked up on me. Just when I wasn't ready, I was lost in the stories of these two women, forty years apart. Moyes so easily writes believable and likable characters of generations so far apart. I was half way through the e-galley and realized I was hooked. I hadn't expected this. I expected a light, chick-litty sort of read.  Moyes fooled me!  No breezy read here.

I don't mean it's a hard read, but it is am important read. I hate the over-used review word "seamless." But...this is seamless writing at its best.

As always, I won't go any deeper into details. That's like seeing inside the treasure chest, before you know there IS a treasure.

Huge congratulations to Jojo Moyes for introducing me to these new friends.

Buy it. Read it. Share it.

4 out of 5 stars.

I was provided with an e-galley by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review, in no way did this affect my opinion.

Books to Movies Monday - The Rum Diary

The long awaited movie adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's THE RUM DIARY finally has a trailer. The movie was filmed over two years ago and for fans of Thompson and Depp, it's been a very long wait.

The film will be released Oct. 28, 2011

The Rum Diary youtube site

Book cover: Simon and Schuster

After The Party by Lisa Jewell

By Lisa Jewell
Atria, $15.00

Publisher's synopsis:
Eleven years ago, Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary fell deeply in love. They thought it would be forever, that they'd found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, and an apartment became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn't quite so simple anymore. But through it all, Jem and Ralph still loved each other. Of course they did.
Now Jem is back at work part-time as a talent agent. Ralph, a successful painter, is struggling to come up with new, hopefully groundbreaking, work for his upcoming show. But the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart And in the chaos of family life, Jem feels like she's losing herself, while Ralph, stuck on the sidelines, feels like he's lost his muse altogether. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted—but maybe it's not too late to recapture happily ever after…

After The Party is Lisa Jewell's follow-up to her 2000 novel Ralph's Party, but don't let that stop you if you haven't read Ralph's Party first.. This is a great read, I didn't know Ralph's Party existed until I did some research about the author before I started to read this book.  After The Party is easily a stand alone read.

While not a pretty subject, or easy to read subject, we watch the eleven year relationship of Ralph and Jem crumble before our eyes. And that's never fun.  Lisa Jewell has beautifully created realistic and believable situations for the long time couple who never managed to make their relationship legal.. I was new to Jewell's writing, but sure enjoyed her telling off the ups and downs of Ralph and Jem as they break apart. But can they find their way back to each other?

This is one of those books that you are immediately drawn into and as messy as the situation is, you want to keep reading. You are vested in this family and I couldn't put it down. It's seamlessly plotted, brilliantly written with fully crafted characters and situations. You want to read about these people.  I don't want to give the story away, but need to say that Jewell's written a gem of book. Puns intended. ;)

A joy to read, a joy to share.

4 out of 5 stars!

Sam Sarkar talks about THE VAULT

SAM SARKAR talks to us about his new comic book series


A couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I'd like to read the first book in Sam Sarkar's newest comic book series "The Vault." And I could also interview Sam.

Well, you bet I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to talk to Sam and to see his new book. I loved his last series "Caliber."  Here's my review of THE VAULT on Novel Chatter

Everyone who follows Johnny Depp's career has heard about his friend Sam Sarkar, who's also a Senior Vice President of Depp's production company, Infinitum Nihil.

In his own right, Sarkar's a very talented writer and has a fabulous vision for films, books and stories. He's also a nice guy.

I sat down for not quite an hour a couple of weeks ago and visited with the very talented Sam Sarkar. Below is our conversation. I've added in some pics and links. We will be discussing "The Vault" after the first of the year. And we know that Depp's Infinitum Nihil has optioned Sarkar's "The Vault" to be made into a film.

We talked about a lot of things that I hope you find interesting and fun, and I hope you buy "The Vault" and enjoy it as much as I do! Issue #2 is out August 31, and issue # 3 is out October 26. The trade paperback is due out in January of 2012. You can get the e-versions of "The Vault" at

 Thanks so much for visiting with me today, I am just so excited about
”The Vault”!

SS: Oh thanks so much! And thanks for talking about “Caliber” a couple of years ago!

You’re welcome! We loved “Caliber”!! I have to ask, when is this going to be a movie?

SS: Well, it’s funny because I haven’t heard anything from Radical lately, but I wanted to focus on “The Vault” before I tried to do anything about “Caliber.” They seem to be focused on other projects which is fine for them, I think it was something I was always more passionate about ultimately. Movies take a lot of patience and passion and if you don’t have it for a particular project, it’s hard to keep it going. But I have the patience and passion for it…“Caliber’s” another one, it’s like “The Vault” – those are things from my childhood, you know I’d always wanted to do. It was funny, at “The Vault” signing, one of the signings I did at the comic book store in L.A., Golden Apple Comics, this guy came up and he had done a drawing, he gave me a drawing from “Caliber” that he did of Whitefeather. He did his own interpretation, it was beautiful! I was really amazed like that, that someone thought about it that much that they would actually recreate the image in their own imagination, it was kind of cool.

 That was really cool!! You had some great news break yesterday (Aug 05). (Depp's production company announced they had optioned "The Vault.")

SS: Yeah, that hit, that was fun. That was a lot of fun.

So that’s (“The Vault” as a film) moving forward then?

SS: Yes, absolutely.

Can you speak about it with me?

SS: A little bit. You know, it’s one of the best parts of working where I work, to work for Johnny and Christi, that I have the ability and opportunity to do these things that I’ve done and not only that, but have them be a part of the company and be something that the company can do well with. And it was a surprise you know. Denis O’Sullivan at Graham’s company was the main champion. I showed it to him a year ago, before the books came out and he loved it. He’s always been a big supporter of the concept over there, but I didn’t expect that automatically Graham and his execs would just take it, they’re very specific about what they want to do with films. Graham sent me a note himself, it was really nice that they embraced it they way they did. I was very excited.

                                                                     Issue # 2 cover

How exciting!! It is so well deserved! When I was contacted by Gianluca Glazer about seeing “The Vault” and speaking with you, I was so thrilled! I’ve read the first issue, reviewed this book for my Depp site, you read my review and so you know I commented that you’ve got lead characters named after the Archangels, you’ve got someone named Jesus, you’ve got Revelation added in. Can you tell me a little but about why you chose those names?

SS: Yeah, it’s going to part of the bigger storyline. At first though, it was a bit of… like a joke, to see how far I could go with those kinds of biblical references before it got kind of silly. But actually when you look at “Alien” it’s the Nostromo, there’s something kind of mystical about the names that they used with it. But I thought it’s fun, let’s see how this works, and actually Revelation is a perfect name for a ship, it’s an oil discovery ship essentially so it actually works for that, it’s not really that crazy. The more interesting one actually is the name of the robot dog.


SS: Macula, and if you run that through a Latin translator it’s a very fun result, a funny result.

So I assume it’s not something ocular…

SS: No, not really, that’s not the meaning I was intending by using it.

You’re gonna make me run that, aren’t you, you’re not going to tell me, LOL. (note, I did look it up and it's a great dog name!)

SS: Absolutely, it’s a little Easter egg in there.. The names are all… have a purpose even though ultimately the idea of names and naming is sort of irrelevant to what’s going on in “The Vault” but still it’s sort of a good touchstone for people thematically.

Why did you name it “The Vault”?

SS: “The Vault” also has a double meaning, the vault is a place of treasure and it’s also a vault of inner chambers, under churches that can contain money or other “stuff”.

While we are on names, you’ve used Michael in “Caliber” and now we have Michael again. Is there a Michael in your family?

SS: No, but I had a very close friend growing up named Michael and it’s more about that angelic connotation. And Michael, the character in the story, is probably the least religious character. I wouldn’t tag him completely as an atheist, but certainly he’s not open to supernatural things.

And that makes him the perfect character because he’s always going to be questioning, and always will be the “show me”, the doubting Thomas…

SS: …he’s the doubting Thomas.

I know you’ve got kids…

SS: yeah…

Are they old enough to read what Daddy’s written, or are they little ones?

SS: No, my daughter reads my stuff…my son looks at the pictures. They’ve come with me to some of the conventions before and actually my daughter this year at San Diego Comic Con out sold all of us in an hour, she stopped people…and she sold like eighteen books in one hour!

I love her, she’s great!

SS: Yeah, she’s amazing!

I’ve heard that the first printing has sold out!

SS: That was another shock, we sold out in a week! For a brand new book…I mean it’s not unusual for a series that people already know to sell out, But for a brand new story that people had never heard of until a month ago was exciting to get that.

I’ve been watching, and you guys are now on Amazon and wondered if y’all were going to e-pub this?

SS: Yeah, it will actually come out on on August 31st.

That reminds me, you’ve got images of tablet computers all through the book…all over it. LOL

SS: OK… a shameless plug, I did a lot the work on “The Vault” on the iPad. I did a lot of the visual research just on the internet, it was so great, you can surf the web, find an image, touch it, save it and send it. So what I would do is I'd find [information] for “The Vault” and “Caliber” as well, they're all full of art history references, like a lot of paintings and sculptures and stuff are put in there. So for “The Vault” especially there’s a lot of design that I would find and send to Garrie Gastonny and Imaginary Friends Studios and then do their own research, but when they’d send sketches back to me, with the iPad, I could actually draw my notes on the sketches with a stylus and move things around or even add an image into their image and email it back. It was an incredible process that probably saved us like at least a month or two overall in work. It really saved a lot of work.

I remember when the fax machine virtually did the same thing, it changed how we worked, how things got done. A few years ago when we all got fax machines in our offices, instead of having to messenger contracts, plans, designs, whatever… over to someone’s office and then wait for them to messenger us back their changes. With the new fax machines, we could send the paperwork back and forth by fax in minutes. So the tablet computer has certainly changed how we work.

SS: You know it’s really amazing, if you think about it, somebody was telling me about their two year old picking one up, but if you think about what it would take if you put someone from the year 1000 in front of a super computer from 1970…the best computer from the world in 1970… they maybe wouldn’t be able to even find the “on” switch. You could take somebody from the Stone Age and put a tablet computer in their hands and they'd figure out what to do with it, probably within an hour. He said the learning curve thing, the adaptation of it as a tool when you put it into the context of like how much easier it is to adopt, even from our own limited technological life span…it’s insane! It’s crazy how easy that thing is to use.

I know, my four year old god daughter is a genius at these things. I learned how to use it by watching her. She has no fear!

SS: That’s right! My daughter got her tablet computer on a Friday and by Sunday she had written a song on it, and I'm like…it’s amazing.

Sam, you mentioned that you could add a picture within a image in creating “The Vault” and that brings me to your work with Garrie. Garrie’s work is brilliant! You're the wordsmith, he’s the artist and you guys kind of flow like one person, one mind. How did you guys find each other?

SS: Well IFS (Imaginary Friends Studios), they sort of hooked up with Dave Elliott (Current Editor-in-Chief at Benaroya Publishing), Barry Levine, those guys and Edmund Shern at San Diego Comic-Con several years back and Garrie was the one, I think, who most responded to the material in “Caliber”, like they sort of decided themselves who was going to do what, you know when you send things to Imaginary they have people who can do almost anything, really any kind of image. You know Stanley “Artgerm” Lau who did the cover for “Caliber” – Stanley’s taken off, he’s huge, Bagus Hutomo who did the cover on “The Vault,” they're all really solid artists in their own right. Dave Elliott has really helped to get them a lot of exposure in the Western comic world. Garrie did this incredible book that actually has some similar themes as “The Vault” that Warren Ellis wrote called “Supergod” which is amazing also if you like “The Vault” you should check out Garrie’s work in “Supergod,” it’s beautiful, the trade paperback will be coming out soon, it’s a five issue series. I'll go back and look at the description for a page of script for a comic, you do lay out a fair amount of detail about what you want to see on the page: it’s three panels, this guy’s on the right side and he’s mad…you put all of that in, but still, you know, it’s in your head and there’s a limit to how much you can get and I'll go back, I'll look at Garrie’s drawing and then I'll look at my description and I'll go…how did he figure all that out from what I said, from what I wrote? It’s the fun part of “Caliber,” and especially “The Vault”. You know it’s literally like having someone who can go in your head and put your dreams on paper, and that’s what it is. It’s a pretty incredible thing to realize a vision like that which you kinda can get in filmmaking but it’s different because it’s a more closed loop in the comic book. As if we all work together, Dave Elliott, my editors and everyone, Dave was the one who basically taught me to write a comic book. And he also taught me in terms of pacing and did a critique of “The Vault” which I agree with, but it’s kind of a necessary evil, which is very story dense at the beginning, and that’s all because I don't want to write the kind of comic that just sort of is lengthy visuals and not much happening. So you know it’s hard to strike a balance when you get into the second issue and then in the third there’s a lot of exposition, as you'll see.

                                                                      2nd issue cover

Anybody who reads a book or sees a movie knows that you've got to get a certain amount of information into the reader’s head early, or you're going to lose them. Oh, that reminds me, will there be a trade paperback for “The Vault”?

SS: Yeah, there'll be a trade paperback towards the new year. Hopefully we'll put in some extra artwork and a few other funs things.

You guys know your audience, this is great news. Let me add, while I have you, that your people are just the best! I've been blessed to have interviewed many authors who are aligned with Mr. Depp and the production company and everyone is just so nice and easy to work with! Your self included! As my Mom liked to say, “there’s not a stinker in the bunch.” Everyone is great.

SS: We are very lucky, I'm knocking on wood. You know, we are very fortunate in the quality and the trust that we've gotten from authors of all kinds, whether it’s novels or comic books, people have put a lot of faith in our commitment. It’s hard, in this day and age it’s really, really tough to get quality literary movies to the screen and you know thankfully Johnny’s a big champion of that kind of stuff or else it wouldn't get done. I mean it wouldn't even be in the system.

Exactly, so as the audience for both the books and the films… we are doubly blessed to have so many caring people on both sides of that fence.

SS: And they know, a lot of them deal with Christi and they know that if they have her watching out for them, they will be taken care of.

I've read as many of your interviews as I could find that are out there, because I wanted to come up with questions that are not duplicates, but some things I just have to ask. I think the Oak Island story and the Sable Island back story with the horses are just fascinating! Can you expand on that for the readers who don't know about these places?

SS: Yeah, absolutely. Oak Island, I grew up with as a kid. And by the way, I never tire of talking about it because it is one of the reasons that I wrote it. So, I hope this drives people to go to Nova Scotia because it’s very beautiful. That area where Oak Island is, is gorgeous! I spent most of my teen aged years there in the summer time. The Flying Dutchman was actually spotted a lot of times off of Oak Island, you know, the ghost ship. SO it’s full of folklore and I used to go there when I was a kid, this treasure pit thing was a big deal, it was the mystery that has confounded people for over two hundred years, very high profile people over time. It began in 1795 with these two teenagers who found this sort of degraded block and tackle hanging from a tree and this indent in sand and they started to dig it up and ten feet down they found an oak platform, they lifted it out, they dug another ten feet and found another one, so they were sure that they were going to find something. But when they got down to, I think thirty feet they couldn't dig anymore, they weren't hitting anything so they closed it all up and they came back seven years later with more tools and finally they got down to like sixty feet, went away for the night, when they came back the whole pit had collapsed and was flooded, and they couldn't figure out what had happened and in subsequent digs they found out there is a channel that is cut sixty feet down (or it may be a natural feature, but most people don't believe that). It runs a thousand feet out to the beach and floods the pit when the tide comes in. So it’s proven to be really difficult to excavate, to get to the bottom, so at another point somebody dug a shaft beside the main shaft to get down. But it’s really deep, it goes down I think, the lowest they've gotten is over two hundred feet. So for a treasure, that’s what made everybody think, OK – if somebody went to these lengths? There’s something really major down here. There’s something really, really major. And so it’s always been theorized, there are a lot of sea caves in that area, that the pit might lead into a natural cave formation under the island. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff, and over the years as it became known as a possible hiding place for the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail. The (Knights) Templar did it, it was a ransom that was supposed to have been paid between England and France but then somebody high jacked the cargo. I mean there’s all kinds of stories and I had always thought as a kid that my take on it was that what if you did get down there and you find something and that you were not supposed to dig up. That was really the beginning of it when I was about sixteen years old.


And Sable Island is like sort of another mythical place because of all of the shipwrecks and that’s pretty easy to imagine, it’s a tiny little piece of sand surrounded by shoals and rocks in the middle of the Atlantic and it’s really on the path as you're coming across from Europe towards Halifax, so it was a real treacherous spot for sailors and shipping in the 1700's and 1800's so it’s just surrounded by shipwrecks. I think it has more shipwrecks than the Bermuda Triangle. It’s just loaded with them. But of course, they get destroyed over time by the ocean, so there’s not much physically left of anything but there are artifacts surrounding the island. So it was just the perfect spot, and the horses are real there too, they're called the Sable Island ponies and they were wrecked there sometime in the 1860's and it’s just kind of a miracle that they survived. There’s just this little spit with grass and not much fresh water, they survived somehow…a very hearty species.


  Sable Island horses

This is sort of the think that Tim Powers says is stuff that’s too cool not to use.

SS: Yeah, and that’s what we tried to do with “Caliber” also, we are always trying to explain the world, you know…why are we here? How did we end up here, what are all of these mysteries, do they add up to something that gives us a clue as to whether we're an accident or we're here on purpose. So whether it’s the pyramids, which I tie into this, I'm just a pyramid fanatic, or the statues on Easter Island, Stonehenge…there a megalithic site on the island of Malta, I mean all over the world, you've got these kinds of things. And your mind just naturally wants to make sense of it all and so you try to tie it together. And so this thing in my mind – this is my version of an explanation for all these sites. The other thing that I was inspired by, and again it started with Nova Scotia, and reading all these things about the Holy Grail search and the Knights Templar led me to some sites in France that are really famous in these stories and these sites are medieval sites and they are also where some of the cave paintings are. So I went into a cave where there’s art from ten thousand, twelve thousand years ago, it was really shocking. It was a serious shock, because if you've seen photos of cave art it’s one thing, but when you're actually in the room where it was done, it really takes your breath away, there’s nothing else like it in the world. Because you suddenly have a sense that whoever did this twelve thousand years ago, not only were they talented, but they basically have the same thought process of mystery that we all do. We realize when we go and see the cave painting that they're not just drawing junk and graffiti, they're drawing very specific images of animals, not necessarily ones that they hunted, actually, it’s not that. They are drawing horses, ibex, buffalo and these weird symbols and stuff and you don't know, you're trying to figure out what they meant by it.

Is this what maybe draws you to mythology in your writing? Your work seems to be based in mythological ideas, and as you said, use of the pyramids and the magic that surrounds them, has this (interest) been with you all of your life?

SS: Yeah, I grew up in a very multi-religious household. My Mom and the Filipino side of my family is very Roman Catholic, so the other side, my Father was from India and he was Hindu so I had a mix of religions. My Godparents are Muslim. It was all doctors and stuff, my Mom’s two best friends were Jewish, so being exposed to all of those platforms, and my Mother really, to her credit, wanted to know everything about other people’s faiths. And so we would look at these things together and she had this book about world mythology and the origins of different religions and she really herself was very interested in the common roots of people’s religion and I think I carry that over in that I do believe that there’s certainly this common ancestry to all of our thinking on religion and I'm not cynical in thinking it’s something that we need or that we're biologically hard-wired to worship. I really do have a great sense that there’s an unfathomable mystery to all of it, that big question mark of why are we here… it doesn't get better than that. It’s a wonderful thing and it’s not obvious even when…I spent a lot of time researching physics and physics isn't any closer to coming up with a hard and fast answer to the birth of the universe than religion is. It might sound better, if you use experimentation to back it up but if you ask and credible physicist the latest, greatest theory from the Stern collider can be undone by another collider that has yet to be built a hundred years from now.

It’s fun to think of all those things and then one of my inspirations for this (“The Vault”) was “2001” and I'd read a lot about how Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke put it together and it’s similar in a way, there’s a lot of exposition up front in “2001” and then nothing in the middle, it’s just all mystery. From a certain point on in the story it’s all mystery, but when you look at the details that went into the movie there was something like forty three consultants in different fields of future technology that weighed in on the movie: Carl Sagan was one, and then the alien life form, all of the things that you see in the film and that are in Arthur C. Clarke’s book have an enormous amount of research, but you don't feel it, it just sort of goes by. And that was the thing that kind of inspired me to tap history and sort of present day and future technology and to sort of try and put it together that way.

It’s brilliant! Is there one question that you are waiting to be asked?

SS: Yeah…is it gonna hurt? LOLOL

Great answer!! LOL You've just been so great about sharing so much! I've been going through my notes and questions and crossing them off as we go along, you've shared just so much!

SS: I'll tell you, the fun thing about “The Vault” is that it’s a story that obviously I thought about for almost thirty years, since I was a kid, so it takes that length of time to gestate an idea, but the fun thing for me actually is I'm hearing from other people, like writers who we're talking to possibly for the other movie side… other people’s theories on what it’s about. And I really think that’s cool because in a way, sure, you can interpret it anyway you want. What it is, where it came from, who they are, what it’s about, you can have your own explanation. I kind of don't want to go too much into detail about things, because as I'm going to expand the story to other places but I kind of like leaving the mystery and seeing what other people will suggest is behind all of this, seeing if I can find a way to keep it mysterious. Keep the question mark, because in a way that is the mystery of faith if you're religious. There actually isn't hard proof, whatever proof there is, there’s always another physical explanation. And I think there’s a good reason for that because if you really have incontrovertible proof of the supernatural then you don't need faith, faith doesn't exist anymore. And I've had some weird miraculous things appear to me in my life, you know, bizarre things…photographs and different things and later found ways that you could explain that this way…but that still hasn't shaken what I believe. And I kind of like that, when you really try and pin something down I think it’s less exciting.

You know, I think you're right, if you're enjoying a good mystery, a book, a movie, whatever, you don't want it to come to an end.

SS: Yeah, that’s right.

Often times the stories that don't have a pat ending, that allow the reader or viewer to figure them out are kind of the most satisfying.

You mentioned that you're going to take this to other places, does that mean that we'll have other series of “The Vault” after this concludes?

SS: Yeah, that’s my intention. I would like to keep going, not just in the present story line but there’s sort of some past stuff. I'll give you one interesting little tidbit that’s in both. It’s actually in “Caliber” a lot, and you'll see it directly in the next issue of “The Vault” - there’s a symbol that I use that’s attributed to an English mathematician and astrologer, witch, magician named John Dee, and John Dee was the original “007” – some people say that he was the inspiration for Prospero for Shakespeare and the claim is that he is the one who summoned the storm that sank the Spanish Armada. He’s a fun character, he’s a really, really fascinating, fun character and so I want to tie a story to him because that symbol…you'll see it in the next issue, is attributed to him. These are the fun little research pieces that I've found over many, many years. There’s another piece that’s attributed to him that’s in the Harvard Rare Manuscripts Library, it is a text called “The Voynich Manuscript” and it’s this bizarre writing that looks like something out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and no one, to this day, has translated the book. It’s an unknown language, they don't think it’s gibberish because it seems to obey the patterns of natural language, but it’s a total mystery and it’s attributed at some point of having been in John Dee’s hands. So I'm going to tie that in, at one point I'd like to do an early prequel story that touches on that.

WOW! That would be cool!

SS: Yeah, that would be very fun!

Well you said that you'd done a lot of research and this sounds like it’s been going on for all of your life.

SS: Yeah, exactly. That’s the fun thing, maybe in a way it’s me trying to make sense of it all.

I think that’s a great idea because that we get to go along for the ride.
So we can look forward to volume two in the next couple of weeks?

SS: It comes out end of August, I'll check with Dave, but I think the next issues comes out at the end of August and then the following one, you may have to wait a little bit longer for, it depends on how quickly it gets done.

                                                                       3rd issue cover

We don't want to hurry the artist!

SS: LOL That’s right. One thing I want to add, in writing it, a fun thing that I discovered was that those two main characters, Michael and Gabriel have a really interesting complexity to them, and that’s again maybe a nice product of here I am in my life, about people’s working relationships and how things can get a little weird. What happened with them is from my love of “The X-Files” and its chemistry, but you don't necessarily see it as a full blown romance, they're partners. As I was writing it, it evolved into something else, I think people who like that sort of undertone… I'm a softie when it comes to the under currents of a good romance, again when you think about “Alien,” “The Abyss” you know they have a really fun central, complex relationship, even in “Alien” the relationship between Ripley and Dallas, you can feel it, there’s a chemistry between the two of them. But they're at odds at a certain point in the show…but there’s definitely chemistry and you have a great sense of loss when Dallas is gone, it’s like a loss for her.

You're right about that. You have great characters and a great story, I honest to God hope his gets made as a movie. Would you be looking at live action or CGI or animation…some or all of that?

SS: It'll be a live action.

That will be so cool! And with that, I think this about ends my questions today, thank you so much for speaking with me and for being to gracious and generous with your time!

SS: And thank you Karen, for all of the work you've done for the books we've had over the years, it’s been great!

I figured you'd be able to give me about ten minuets and we've been talking close to an hour. I know that there are bigger fish out there in the ocean that are wanting to talk to you today. You are a busy kind of guy!

SS: Yeah, LOL, but it’s a good busy! I had the time, and this was fun actually. I did Comic Con and the following weekend I did take some time and went off the grid.

I thank you again, and hopefully we'll speak again further down the road.

SS: Absolutely! We'll be in touch. And your readers can follow us on Facebook.

Thanks again! And congratulations!


Isn't Sam amazing!! And I have to thank the fabulous Gianluca Glazer for making all of this happen!

[QUOTE]Here's a bit about Sam Sarkar:

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sam Sarkar is a 23-year veteran of the entertainment industry. He began his career as an actor and was one of the leads on the long-running, syndicated television series Neon Rider. Following the series, Sam decided to pursue writing and worked for the hit television series Beverly Hills 90210. Stemming from his work on the show, he also co-wrote a television pilot for Spelling Entertainment under the direct guidance of TV legend Aaron Spelling. Deciding then to embark on feature films, Sam took some chances, following a varied path of writing screenplays and working as a sound technician. In 2004, after working on several films with actor Johnny Depp, Sam was asked to help run Depp's production company, Infinitum Nihil, headed by Christi Dembrowski. As Senior VP at the company, he continues to serve the varied needs of Hollywood as an executive, producer and writer.[/QUOTE]

Interview © 2004-2011

As always we ask that you not copy and post elsewhere without my permission.
Please do share the link to this interview!


13 Million Dollar Pop by David Levien

13 Million Dollar Pop 
By David Levien

Publisher's synopsis:
In an Indianapolis underground parking structure, Frank Behr is on an executive protection detail for Bernard “Bernie Cool” Kolodnik, a hard-driving business mogul on the verge of making a move into big-time Indiana politics. Behr is working for an exclusive investigation company, and it’s an uncomfortable fit, both literally and philosophi­cally. The uneasy stability is quickly rocked by a burst of automatic weapons fire as an attempt is made on the promi­nent client, and Behr manages to protect him and repel the attackers. Though Behr is celebrated for his heroism, he can’t help but investigate what happened in that garage—and why the Indianapolis cops seem to be burying the incident.

13 Million Dollar Pop
is the third  of David Levien's Frank Behr series and I was excited to be sent a review copy of M. Levien's newest.  I  knew of him from his screenplay for Rounders,  one of my favorite movies. Not knowing his Frank Behr character I had no preconceived notion of what to expect. But anytime  the reader is lead to believe that a new job will be an easy one, well, there's a whole book full of proof that the hero's in for a bumpy ride.

This time around, Frank and his girlfriend Susan are expecting a baby and Frank's the new hire. I like Frank. Levien's written him as a bit of a hard boiled, old fashioned kind of detective, in the modern world. This is definitely a man's man kinda guy.  Lots of manly men stuff going on.  And that's OK.  Levien writes this kind of character. 13 Million Dollar Pop is gritty and solidly written with just the right amount of dead bodies and clues that go here and there. We never doubt that Behr will solve this one.

That's what makes for a good thriller and a good mystery. Knowing that the lead character will win out in the end. Levien builds strong characters, and a not too complex plot, so it is an enjoyable read without having to take notes to keep up with the story line. I thought the book flowed easily and keeps your interest, there were no slow bits for me. I was easily hooked and found myself trying to figure it out.

I'll go back and read Levien's first two Behr novels, I 'd like to see the changes in the development of the  character that is the Behr of 13 Million Dollar Pop.

4 out of 5 stars

I was provided a review copy by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review, this copy in no way affected my opinion.

Next To Love by Ellen Feldman

Next To Love
By Ellen Feldman
Spiegel & Grau

                       Publishers synopsis:

When their men go off to war, Babe, Millie, and Grace, three childhood friends in Massachusetts,  live on letters, and in dread of telegrams that can bring only bad news.  But as the war drags on, and when  peace breaks out, they experience changes that move them in directions they never dreamed possible.  The women lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places.
>And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which women’s rights, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities and uncertainties.
Yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.
A story of war, loss, and the scars they leave, "Next To Love" depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.

Ellen Feldman has created a wonderful, heartwarming and moving saga of three women we meet at the beginnings of WWII.  Their husbands and soon-to-be husbands will be leaving soon for war, only to leave behind the women they love. This time, it's the stories of those left behind that hold the focus of Next To Love.  Feldman  shares the stories of Millie, Grace and Babe broken into separate chapters, and while that makes it easy to remember whose story we are reading, this method of storytelling also means that it's often too long before we pick up with the other women's stories. 

I enjoyed reading Next To Love, because Feldman brought such likable characters to life.  When a husband dies, or returns wounded, you feel their pain and their struggle to comfort and to be comforted.  Parts of Feldman's descriptive narrative are so true to life that I felt as though I was eavesdropping.

Next to Love moves through the years easily as she takes the veterans and their families into the post war 1950s and the GI Bill and then into the quickly changing world of the 1960.

I hesitate to share much of the plot as that could ruin the story for you, but I truly enjoyed knowing these people and seeing them tackle the day to day struggles of life for them all after a world war.

I only have minor faults, but they don't really matter. This story reminded me a lot of the award winning film, The Best Years of Their Lives, and while Next To Love spans decades rather than months, it's just as real.

4 out of 5 stars. 

This e-galley was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review, it in no way affected my thoughts about this book.  

Books to Movies Monday - One Day

One Day by David Nicholls has been adapted into a film that opens this coming Friday, August 19.

Here's the cast talking about the book and the movie:

Book cover - Vintage
Film Poster - Focus Features

The Help - a review of the film

It's the women and their stories that shine in The Help!  

4 out of 5 stars
In theaters now.

The hardest thing for me to do is to write a review of a film based on a book that I love.  So I won't. I'm stepping away from the book as much as I can and  will speak about the movie. I won't go on and on about the two or three plot pieces that were completely ignored, that would have helped a couple of the crucial scenes actually make sense and would have packed a bigger whallop for the audience. But never mind.

The story opens in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi, where the racial unrest is boiling just somewhere below the surface of the city and through out the country. The murder of Medgar Evers is what sets the movement in motion. The treatment of the maids by their white employers is shocking at best. And sadly director / screenwriter Tate Taylor, in his first film for a major studio is just flat out of his league.

The audience was wild about the movie at the screening I was invited to attend. I enjoyed the film, but on retrospect I have to fault director/screen writer (and friend of the author, Kathryn Stockett) Tate Taylor.  Not all white women in the south were vapid, racist, mean and bad mothers. I felt that Mr. Taylor, in his quest to tell a moving and important story, turned most all of the women in the movie into stereo-typical, over the top caricatures.  And on the flip side of that coin, most all of "the help" were treated almost the same way, in reverse, being all wise, all caring and all too funny. 

The stand out performances in spite of Mr. Taylor are Viola Davis in the role that should be the heart of the film, Aibileen Clark with her constant struggle to educate the babies she looks after to have self confidence and to be colorblind in the world, Sissy Spacek as old Missus Walters, the villian's aging and forgetful mother who is spot on about the world and her daughter Hillie,  and then there's the stellar Octavia Spencer as the abused and mouthy Minnie Jackson.  These people are the reason to see the film.

Our heroine, Skeeter, a struggling journalist, played way too idealistically under Taylor's direction by Emma Stone, who with a degree from Ole Miss, when applying for a job at the Jackson Journal, is offered the Miss Myrna column about house cleaning tips. Which she takes, and then turns to Aibileen, for the answers. Thus the beginning of the story telling. Skeeter being urged  by a NY editor to write about what she cares about. 

Cutting to the chase, the story that is the base of this film, to me, is about the fact that in 1963 ALL WOMEN were trapped. Some by the color, some by being married in a time and place that made wives subordinate to their husbands, but all were trapped because they were women.  And it's the help that comes from the women and that's offered to each other that unites them all reach  across the color line and find strength in themselves.

Despite my concerns, it's an enjoyable movie.  A very enjoyable movie. Do go, take your mammas and your daughters. The young women of today NEED to see what the world was like for women a short forty years ago.

4 out of 5 stars!

Opens: August 10 (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Production companies: Touchstone Pictures and DreamWorks in association with Participant present a Reliance Big Entertainment/Imagenation Abu DabiFZ/1492 Pictures production
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Jessica Chastain, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek, Mike Vogal, Chris Lowell, Cicely Tyson, Aunjanue Ellis
Director/screenwriter: Tate Taylor
Based on the novel by: Kathryn Stockett
Producers: Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green
Executive producers: Jennifer Blum, Mohamed Khalaf  Al-Mazrouel, Nate Berkus, L. Dean Jones Jr., John Norris, Mark Radcliffe, Jeff Skoll, Tate Taylor
Director of photography: Stephen Goldblatt
Production designer: Mark Ricker
Music: Thomas Newman
Costume designer: Sharen Davis
Editor: Hughes Winborne
PG-13 rating, 146 minutes

I was invited to attend a  press screening of the movie by Disney/Dreamworks and that in no affected my opinion. 

The Price of Freedom by A.C. Crispin

Pirates of the Caribbean:
The Price of Freedom
By A.C. Crispin
Disney Editions, $22.95


Twenty-five-year-old Jack Sparrow is a clean-cut merchant seaman pursuing a legitimate career as a first mate for the East India Trading Company. He sometimes thinks back to his boyhood pirating days, but he doesn’t miss Teague’s scrutiny or the constant threat of the noose. Besides, he doesn’t have much choice—he broke the Code when he freed a friend who had been accused of rogue piracy, and he can no longer show his face in Shipwreck Cove.
          When Jack’s ship is attacked by pirates and his captain dies in the altercation, he suddenly finds himself in command. The wily sailor’s skillful negotiations with the pirate captain—who turns out to be a woman from his past—result in a favorable outcome that puts Jack in line for an official promotion. 
          After making port in Africa, Jack is summoned by Cutler Beckett, who makes him captain of a ship called the Wicked Wench. Beckett gives Jack an assignment. He has heard a legend about a magical island named Zerzura whose labyrinthine bowels are said to contain a glorious treasure. Beckett suspects that one of his house slaves, a girl named Ayisha, is from Zerzura. He asks Jack to take her along on his voyage and seduce her into divulging the island’s whereabouts. In payment for his services, Beckett promises Jack a share of the treasure...

I was lucky to have been sent a galley of The Price of Freedom by the nice Disney folks, and then found out that the galley was quite a bit different from the soon-to-be published book. So I waited and purchased a copy of A.C. Crispin's  The Price of Freedom  from, as my book seller didn't have it in stock.  By the way, it STILL doesn't have a copy in stock.  I am reviewing my own copy of the book.

I  was really excited to hear that a "prequel" to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was being written that would give us some of the back story for good old, gotta love him, bless his heart, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow! I really wanted to like this book!   I"m a huge, life long fan of all things Disney and more recently, Capt. Jack and the four movies! As kids, our parents took us to Disneyland every summer, and on one trip, this sign appeared: "Coming soon: Pirates of the Caribbean!" Even as a  kid I was already in love with those Disney pirates!

I put off writing this review because I thought, with some time, that I'd be more fond of it. Maybe I expected something else. The book is twice as long as it needs to be at 672 pages and I felt somewhat confused about what the book was supposed to be.  Adventure? Romance? Fantasy?  Pirate fiction? Historical fiction?  All of the above? Pick several of the above?

I think it's clear to see and appreciate the research and attention to detail that author, A.C. (Ann) Crispin has done. Ms. Crispin has said that she worked on this back story for three years and it shows!  Her geographical situations and attention detail as well as to old world myths and lore are spot on and brilliant. She really followed the POTC "canon." She's simply done a fantastic job of putting the story in its proper and well defined pirate world! She certainly "kept to the pirate code!"

For me, however, I had huge issues with one plot line in particular, the slavery issue.  While historically correct, I didn't feel it added to the back story. I felt that another plot could have given us what we needed to know about Jack, and trimmed the plot by a couple of hundred pages. I found myself skimming pages and skipping long bits of nautical terms repeatedly as it didn't move the story forward.   Maybe I wanted more piratey, scally wag-ish behavior from the young Jack?  I enjoyed what she wrote about Shipwreck Cove and especially enjoyed learning the history of Cutler Beckett and how his life experiences marked him. And of course, that lead to what "mark" Beckett left on Jack Sparrow and how he came to captain the Black Pearl.

All in all, I wanted more in the way of a pirate adventure.  I was a bit uncomfortable with Jack's involvement with two ladies at the same time. I sometimes got the feeling that I was reading a tacky romance novel instead of a pirate adventure.  Other times, just the opposite. Especially when it came to the characters that we know, Teague, Davy Jones and Barbossa most especially!  Those parts of the The Price of Freedom worked well for me. Just not so much with his interaction with the princess Ayisha,  at the same time he was with his main love interest Esmerelda, who reminded me a whole lot of the Angelica love interest from On Stranger Tides. SO much so that I kept waiting to learn that Esmerelda changed her name to Angelica and learned that her father was Blackbeard.

On the whole, it's an enjoyable read, I know a lot of people who enjoyed it!  So I'm giving it a cautious 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

I do thank Disney for sending me the galley, but as I said, in the end, I reviewed the finished novel I purchased for myself.

Cover art:  © Disney

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill

The Butterfly Cabinet
By Bernie McGill
Free Pres Publishers, $22.99

Publisher's synopsis:

The events begin when Maddie McGlade, a former nanny now in her nineties, receives a letter from the last of her charges and realizes that the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for over seventy years: what really happened on the last day in the life of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old only daughter of the big house where Maddie was employed as a young woman. It is to Charlotte's would-be niece, Anna—pregnant with her first—that Maddie will tell her story as she nears the end of her life in a lonely nursing home in Northern Ireland.
The book unfolds in chapters that alternate between Maddie's story and the prison diaries of Charlotte's mother, Harriet, who had been held responsible for her daughter's death. As Maddie confesses the truth to Anna, she unravels the Ormonds' complex family history, and also details her own life, marked by poverty, fear, sacrifice and lies. In stark contrast to Maddie is the misunderstood, haughty and yet surprisingly lyrical voice of Harriet's prison diaries, which Maddie has kept hidden for decades. Motherhood came no more easily to Harriet than did her role as mistress of a far-flung Irish estate. Proud and uncompromising, she is passionate about riding horses and collecting butterflies to store in her prized cabinet. When her only daughter, Charlotte, dies, allegedly as the result of Harriet's punitive actions, the community is quick to condemn her and send her to prison for the killing. Unwilling to stoop to defend herself and too absorbed in her own world of strict rules and repressed desires, she accepts the cruel destiny that is beyond her control even as, paradoxically, it sets her free.


The Butterfly Cabinet is based on real events that took place in Ireland in 1982.  Author Bernie McGill has chosen to tell this story of child abuse and the subsequent death of a four year old child through the nanny many years later and the diaries of the imprisoned mother.  

I think the word "haunting" is often overused by those of us who talk about books we've read, however in  The Butterfly Cabinet, I think it's the perfect word.  The reader is haunted by the words and actions of Harriet, the mother. It's easy to see here that this is one person who should never have been a mother, but yet, had many children and was pregnant when sent to prison.  Harriett struggled with herself and her need to control little Charlotte. Control beyond the usual punishment.   Maddie, the other story teller, was a young maid who also served as a nanny in the home and tells her story as an old woman now in the nursing home that the old family home has become.  

It took me quite a while to become emotionally involved in this book. While I found the writing style engaging and the story itself was something that I was intrigued with, it took a very long time for me to care about any of the characters other than the poor asphyxiated child, Charlotte.   

By the end of this compelling story, I did appreciate the journey, the characters and the manner in which McGill shares the tales of these people. We learn that people struggled with the same emotional problems then, that we struggle with now. 

While I finished The Butterfly Cabinet a few days ago, I am still "haunted" by the wasted lives of so many people. I do recommend The Butterfly Cabinet and encourage you to read it.  Appreciate the author's well structured plot and story lines, and just go on and let the book haunt you. It's worth the effort. 

I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

This review copy was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review and in no way affected my review.

Books to Movies Monday - THE HELP

The movie THE HELP, based on Kathryn Stockett's book, 
opens this Wednesday, August 10.

Book cover: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Film images DreamWorks

Sarkar's THE VAULT to be adapted by GKFilms and Depp's Infinitum Nihil

Sam Sarkar and Garrie Gastonny's new comic book series THE VAULT to be a film  produced by  Graham King's GKFilms and Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil.  Sarkar is an executive at Infinitum Nihil.

I reviewed THE VAULT here on NovelChatter.


The Hugo Movie Companion Book cover just released

Publishers Weekly has just released the amazing cover art for The Hugo Movie Companion by Brian Selzinck, Caldecott Award © winning author of the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the book that started the Hugo craze!  Read the article here.

Cover image:  Scholastic

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

The Wild Rose
By Jennifer Donnelly
Hyperion, $25.99

Publisher's summary:

London, 1914. World War I is looming on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and global explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. In this volatile time, the sweeping, multi-generational saga that spanned The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose continues. With myriad twists and turns, thrilling cliffhangers, fabulous period detail and a large cast of vivd characters (some new, some familiar), The Wild Rose provides an exhilarating and satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy.

Author Jennifer Donnelly beautifully brings her "Rose" trilogy to a lovely and fine ending with The Wild Rose.  Donnelly smartly recaps the history of the saga's characters and stories so that a new reader is not lost, and anyone who read the prior books, The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose are reminded of where we left those characters.  

Again, in this Rose book as in the previous two, Donnelly's attention to period detail paints a vivid picture of the world between 1913 and 1919. I enjoyed the multiple locales and felt as if I were actually there, having traveled back in time. Something I love to do with books! And the reader can't help but see the world changing with the war. 

I liked the inclusion of characters from the first two books but also enjoyed the infusion of new characters to move the story forward. I thought Willa's reactions to her injury were realistic and believable, but I struggled with the relationship between Willa and Seamus.  

I loved this series and think this was a nice ending for the trilogy. It's the stuff I like best, part history and part romance with beautifully drawn characters and a sweeping, multi-generational saga. Perfect!

I say thanks to Donnelly for such a "fitting" ending to her Rose trilogy. 

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

This galley was provided to me by the publisher and in no way affected my review.

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After
By Samantha Sotto
Crown, $23.00

Author's summary:  Three years after her husband Max’s death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max’s long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo’s claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn’t he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max’s stories of bloody Parisian barricades,medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her “happily ever after.” And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

I so loved the idea of this book!  I was hooked before I got it in my hands.  I tore into it, carried it around with me. Everywhere I went, so did Before Ever After. I loved the mystery, I loved the time shifts with the Max stories, I loved the history. I got over the fact that I felt I was reading a travel log.   I even loved the cute homage to Max's baked eggs and cheese. I know, it's quirky, but so am I.

Sotto's first book is written with an engaging story to tell. But there are some things that made me want to pitch the book across the room at times, which I did at the end. We already know that Shelley marries Max. Why so much attention to Shelley wondering about it? I think perhaps Sotto gives the reader too much up front. Perhaps too much exposition at the beginning?  That doesn't change the fact that this story of Max and Shelley and Paolo IS charming and engaging.

But the end wasn't satisfying. While it leaves the readers to work it out for themselves, I didn't like the ending at all. Not to give the ending away, but I have to say that I was so disappointed with such a selfish means to an end. Literally.
While I hated the ending,  however, that said, I still enjoyed most all of the book. It's a fast read, but fairly predictable and it was very enjoyable for me until the end.

I give it 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

This galley was provided for me by the publisher and in no way affected my review.

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