The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot - Middle Grade books at BEA

Spotlight on BEA books:

With BEA happening this weekend I have to admit that I'm still bummed that I can't make Book Expo America and the Bloggers Con this year...but maybe next year? 

Sooo over the next few days I'll be posting a little bit about a few books that I think look terrific!  

Today let's look at one for the middle grade level readers. I'm a sucker for pirates, especially the very nearly honorable ones, and this book looks to be a hit!  

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot   

by Caroline Carlson
On Sale Date: September 10, 2013
$16.99 US / $18.99 Can. Hardback 

HarperCollins 256 pages 
Juvenile Fiction / Action & Adventure Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7

Info from the publisher: 

Pirates! Magic! Treasure! The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot-a rollicking tween adventure on the High Seas from debut novelist Caroline Carlson.

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes and tie a knot faster than a fleet of naval sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword. But when it comes to piracy, her admiral father and the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates have put their foot down. There are simply no girls allowed.

Girls instead belong at Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, learning how to faint, waltz, and curtsey. But Hilary and her beloved friend, the gargoyle, have no use for such frivolous lessons. To escape a life of petticoats (in Hilary's case) and politeness, Hilary and the gargoyle set out in search of adventure that may or may not involve a map without an "X," a magical treasure that likely doesn't exist, a rogue governess who insists on propriety, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous-and unexpected-villain on the High Seas.

Written with uproarious wit and an inviting storyteller tone, the first book in Caroline Carlson's quirky seafaring series is a piratical tale like no other!

On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Abraham Skorka

Book review:  On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Abraham Skorka

Publisher: Image Books

Hardcover256 pages, $22.00

Published April 19th 2013 by Image (first published November 17th 2010)

Blurb from the publisher:
 New York Times Bestseller!

From the man who became Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio shares his thoughts on religion, reason, and the challenges the world faces in the 21st century with Abraham Skorka, a rabbi and biophysicist.
 For years Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Argentina, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka were tenacious promoters of interreligious dialogues on faith and reason. They both sought to build bridges among Catholicism, Judaism, and the world at large. On Heaven and Earth, originally published in Argentina in 2010, brings together a series of these conversations where both men talked about various theological and worldly issues, including God, fundamentalism, atheism, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization. From these personal and accessible talks comes a first-hand view of the man who would become pope to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world in March 2013.

Publisher's booksite:

          My thoughts:

WHAT AN AMAZING BOOK!  The man who would be Pope in dialogue with an Argentine Rabbi! So what do you think these two guys found to talk about? Everything!  From God to globalization and from the devil to science, we have a beautifully expressed talk between two learned men of God.  After the first few pages, I got the feeling that I was there with them, Jorge and Abraham, listening as these two men exchange thoughts and ideas. They might debate and discuss, sharing ideas and the way they look each look at subjects and situations, but they never marginalize or dismiss the other's opinion. Such respect is rarely seen these days. 

This book is intelligent and brilliant in simple ways, written so that normal people like you and me easily understand. It's no big fat theological encyclical. It's really pretty simple,  and yet it will have you thinking of things in ways you never thought possible. It's a very good read. It comes in bits and spurts, so you can read a bit, put it down and think about it...then pick it up and continue reading.  I learned a lot about what's gone on in Argentina over the past years that I had no clue about, so there's some history and political themes in there too.

I can go on and on about this book, but I think you get the idea that I really loved reading it. It's so interesting to see what Pope Francis said, to see how he works through an idea or belief, and how he shares his thoughts. Truly a deeply spiritual man, but a human 21st Century man as well.  You get to see into the mind of the man, Jorge, and it's very easy to see how he was chosen to be Pope, and why he calls himself Francis. 

I rarely ever give a book 5 out of 5 stars, but that's what this one gets! 5 stars! 

It's a "must read" for everyone, no matter your faith, or belief system, or lack of one, the gentleness and intelligence of these simple men of God, will move you unlike anything else you've read. Well, at least it did that for me.

**This book was provided to me by the publisher through Edelweiss and,  in exchange for an honest review.

Have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day!

While we are enjoying the Memorial Day cook outs and retail sales, let's take some time to thank and remember those who died for us!

*Photo source:  I found this in a google search with no link back or reference. No copy right infringement intended, I just thought it was stunning.  Will happily credit owner or remove on request. Thanks.

RED CELL by Mark Henshaw now in paperback

Spotlight on:  RED CELL by Mark Henshaw

Mark Henshaw's debut thriller is out in paperback now!  I love this book! It's smart, well plotted and the action never stops!

Last year I was fortunate to be able to visit with Mark about RED CELL and you can read my interview with Mark  here on Novel Chatter.

Blurb from the publisher:

Rookie case officer Kyra Stryker is back in Langley after a disastrous assignment has given her a bullet hole in her arm and a chip on her shoulder. She’s placed in the Red Cell, the CIA’s out-of-the-box think tank, working with Jonathan Burke, one of the Agency’s most ingenious analysts—and biggest outcasts.
When the fragile peace between China and Taiwan is violently disrupted and the Chinese are ready to invade, CIA director Kathy Cooke turns to the Red Cell for Intel. Why would the Chinese risk war with America? Their only lead is the top CIA asset in China, code-named Pioneer, and his position has been compromised. With Burke’s tactical help, Stryker embarks on a daring mission: extract Pioneer before he can be arrested. The secrets he holds could mean the difference between peace in the Pacific or another world war. 












** This book was originally provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan


Lian Dolan

Prospect Park Books 

Paperback $15.95
  • 304 pages
  • Formats, paperback, various e-readers

Blurb from the author:

In Elizabeth the First Wife, Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her dull but stable life upended with an out-of-the-blue visit from her ex-husband, A-list action star FX Fahey. While her high-profile family sniffs its disapproval, Elizabeth heads to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to protect FX from public humilia­tion in an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. During her summer in Ashland, Elizabeth adopts a dog, attracts the attention of a handsome political operative, and proves that the immortal Bard knew something about modern relationships. The course of true love never did run smooth…but it is definitely worth the trouble. 

My thoughts:  

I thought Lian Dolan's ELIZABETH THE FIRST WIFE is an interesting, and new take on the  fantastically popular theme of blending modern women's fiction with old school, classic literature. Some don't always work, however in Dolan's newest book, it works! 

Dolan has written a multi-dimensional character in Elizabeth, she's modern, clever and her actions and reactions are spot on for today's young woman.  The inclusion of a wildly popular ex husband, who also happens to be right out of the movies is a smart plot device for Dolan to use. It's cute and different.

The writing is well paced and nicely done, mixing it up by placing some of the action at an actual Shakespearian festival could have been a awkward move, but Dolan cleverly made it work.

ELIZABETH THE FIRST WIFE is a perfect summer beach read, it's a fast read and keeps your attention. Enjoy this one, share it with friends, I can see this being a hugely popular book club read!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

**This book was provided to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal

Book review:  HIS MAJESTY'S HOPE

Susan Elia MacNeal

Publisher: Bantam,  368 pages
Paperback: $15.
Formats: paperback, various e-readers, Audible

Publisher's blurb:

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.
World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war—and of her own past.

My thoughts on this 4 star winner up next!

TIM POWERS nominated for 2013 LOCUS AWARD

Congrats to one of our favorite authors here at Novel Chatter: TIM POWERS!  For his 2013 Locus Award   nomination for HIDE ME AMONG THE GRAVES!!

Click here to go to the LOCUS site for the entire list of nominees.

2013 Locus Awards Finalists

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the top five finalists in each category of the 2013 Locus Awards.

Winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 28-30, 2013.  Connie Willis will MC the awards ceremony and judge the annual Hawaiian shirt contest. 
  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
  • Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Hide Me Among the Graves, Tim Powers (Morrow; Corvus)
  • The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)

LIFE AT THE MARMONT by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten

Book review:  LIFE AT THE MARMONT 

Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten

Publisher: Penguin Books - Reprint edition, April 30, 2013
Paperback: $16.00, 368 pages
Formats: paperback, various e-readers, Audible

From the publisher:
Back in print after two decades, the story of Hollywood’s most exclusive hotel and its star-studded guest list  Raymond Sarlot bought the Chateau Marmont in 1975, but what was originally a business purchase became a love affair as he delved into the hotel’s incredible history. From its perch overlooking the Sunset Strip, the glamorous Marmont reigned for decades as the spot for artists, writers, musicians, and actors of every stripe and remains a home-away-from-home for A-listers like Scarlett Johansson and Johnny Depp. Here, Sarlot and coauthor Fred E. Basten share a wealth of scandalous and intriguing tales about them all, from the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era like Jean Harlow and Grace Kelly to idols of the sixties and seventies like Jim Morrison and John Belushi (who tragically died there in 1982).  Whether your obsession is Hollywood history or celebrity gossip, Life at the Marmont has plenty of gripping, juicy stories to fascinate.

My thoughts: 


OK I admit it, I'm a junkie of the "golden" days of Hollywood. When stars looked like stars and there was a sense of glamour and fantasy. And that's as it should be, they were, after all, selling illusions, pretending to be someone they weren't, living fictional lives that were projected on huge screens in places that used to be called movie "palaces."

So I was destined to lap up every page and every story that authors Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten told.  And just for the record, I've stayed at the Marmont many times, on various floors, in various sized rooms, and once, just once, in a poolside bungalow. I got upgraded for that treat!  And it was swell!  So I know the hallways, the back doors, the infamous lobby and the little cubby that's the front desk.

Now, about this fantastic book! Starting in 1977 then whooshing you back to the beginning in 1926, it's gossipy and dishy and full of details, and that's what you want in any book about Hollywood. This book was first published back in 1987, co-author Basten has included a really great afterward that brings more recent thoughts about the Marmont into the mix.

One of favorite parts is when you find out HOW the dishy gossip was getting into the press, back when the hotel was newer. Word of warning that's still true today, never assume. People are never who they say they are. I was intrigued to read the dish about the late Grace Kelly and her uh... friendliness towards men. That blonde bombshell Jean Harlow had a super protective "stage mom," who was also a Christian Scientist and didn't want her daughter hospitalized for surgery.  

Over the years since it first opened it's doors, film and theater stars, producers, directors, as well as writers and always the incredibly wealthy, which in more recent time included rockers and TV people, were covered in this book. The sad death of Jim Belushi is tastefully covered too. 

This book won't be for everyone, but if you love old Hollywood or want to read about the way people lived and how Hollywood grew, these are the stories for you. LIFE AT THE MARMONT is told through brief bits and snags, tidbits and quick glimpses, but those are enough to tell the story of the castle on the hill, about LIFE AT THE MARMONT.  

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I'll be adding this to my book shelf about Hollywood, you should too!

**This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

FIVE DAYS by Douglas Kennedy


Douglas Kennedy

  • Paperback: 336 pages, $16.00 (book price)
  • Publisher: Atria Books, April 30, 2013
  • Formats: Paperback, various e-readers, audio, CD

Info from the publisher:

Laura works in a small hospital on the Maine coast, scanning and x-raying many a scared patient. In a job where finding nothing is always the best result, she is well versed in the random unfairness of life, a truism that has started to affect her personally. Her husband Dan has become a stranger since losing his job. With a son in college and a daughter set to leave home, she wonders how the upcoming empty nest will affect the disconnected state of her marriage.

Still, Laura jumps at the opportunity to attend a conference in Boston where she meets a man as grey and uninspired as her drab hotel. His name is Richard. He’s a fifty-something salesman, also from Maine, also in Boston for the weekend. When a chance meeting brings them together again, Laura begins to discover a far more complex and thoughtful man behind the flat faÇade. Like herself, Richard ponders his own life and wonders if the time has come to choose desire over obligation.

Five Days is a moving love story that will have readers reflecting about the choices made that so shape all our destinies. Featuring Kennedy’s trademark evocative prose and his brilliant ability to delineate life the way it is truly lived today, it is a novel that speaks directly to the many contradictions of the human heart.

The Edgar® Winners 2013!


Here's just a sampling of a couple of the categories, to read all of the nominees and the winners of this year's Mystery Writers of America's Edgar® Awards go here to THE EDGARS offical award site.

The Edgar® Winners and Nominees    
Winners are indicated in maroon bold text. 

Best Novel
The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam's Sons)
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Group USA - Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)
Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Sunset by Al Lamanda (Gale Cengage Learning - Five Star)
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins Publishers - William Morrow)
All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (Penguin Group USA - Riverhead Books)

Best First Novel
The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay (Random House Publishing- Ballantine)
Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Minotaur Books - Thomas Dunne Books)
Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House Publishing- Bantam Books)
The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)
The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company - Reagan Arthur)
Black Fridays by Michael Sears (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam's Sons)

There's more nominees and winners, so be sure to chere here

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