Off the Charts – the cat encyclopedia for kids (Joann Mattern)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this middle grade non-fiction eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the cat encyclopedia for kids (Joann Mattern)

Title: the cat encyclopedia for kids

Author: Joann Mattern

Publisher: Capstone

Publication Date: March 1, 2018 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1623709372

Source: NetGalley

Who doesn’t love cats?  Arrrr!  I saw this and couldn’t help but be drawn to a book with cat facts.  They claim it be geared for 9 – 12 year olds.  Bah!  There be no age too high to stop learnin’.  So I read this book in me bunk with me three ship cats at me side.  Puurrrrfect!

I have to admit that I be torn on this book.  On the one had it had lots of stunning cat photos and some awesome facts.  I loved the blue “fun fact” boxes in particular.  It focuses on 12 of the most popular breeds in the United States.  The major problem was the writing style.  I thought a lot of the sections sounded too similar – in particular the long lists of the various color points and the caring for your cat sections.  I thought perhaps those facts would have been better as single sections for all cat breeds with check box charts showcasing the differences.  Perhaps the color points would have been better off shown with more photo examples rather than just written descriptions.  That said, I highly enjoyed all the new information I did learn.

Fun cat facts I learned (a sampling):

  • A group of cats hanging around together is called a clowder.
  • Cats generally sleep 13 to 14 hours a day.  I wish I could!
  • The Persian cat was the most popular cat in America from the 1970s until 2014.
  • The oldest living domestic cat was Creme-Puff from Austin, Texas.  She lived to be 38!

So ultimately I think this is a decent overall read that beginning and older cat lovers can enjoy.

Side note: have ye ever seen an Egyptian cat mummy?  I have!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Capstone Books!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Joann Mattern – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the cat encyclopedia for kids – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Shiver me Timbers! Guess what today is . . .

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!  Avast me beauties!  Grab yer grog, yer wenches, yer parrots an’ yerselfs an’ celebrate with yer Captain.  From the lowliest bilge rat to the scurviest dog in the crow’s nest, indulge yer inner pirate.  It’s a day where even ye landlubbers can develop sea legs and participate in the gloriousness that be the high seas.

In honor of the fine day here be some shanties to help prepare to wet yer whistle:

A traditional version:

A silly version:

A more modern pirate remix version:

So wave yer Jolly Roger an’ spend those pieces of eight ye scalawags, seadogs, and fellow explorers.  Always remember:

Q: What did the ocean say to the pirate?

A: Nothing, it just waved.

x The Captain

Parley with an Author – Jim Morris

Ahoy there me mateys!  Yesterday I reviewed feel me fall and enjoyed it.  So what better way to celebrate then giving ye scallywags a better introduction to the newest member of me crew, Matey Morris.  Arrrr!  So without further ado . . .

  • How did ye find this Captain and what made ye choose to send a parley communiqué?

I found you through Goodreads, and I figure that’s the place to find readers/reviewers/bloggers who might be interested. So I approached. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of The Captain, but I’ve found that The Captain is a seaworthy person!

  • When did ye start scrawlin’ yarns?

I’ve been writing (mostly bad) stories since elementary school. But it was never an activity where I thought: gee, someone can do this? I remember seeing Ray Bradbury’s picture on the back cover of a book, holding his cat. And he looked so happy in that photo. That’s probably the first inkling where it clicked that people actually did this for a living. (Of course, growing up in Illinois in the 70s, becoming a writer was like saying you wanted to join the circus.) It’s always been my North Star, even if I’ve sometimes gotten a bit lost along the way.

  • How long did it take ye to write this yarn?

Writing itself is the easiest part of the whole process. And the most fun. The hardest part is coming up with an idea that a) seems unique, at least to me, and isn’t a rehash of every other book out there; b) an idea that won’t run out of steam and c) is an idea that can sustain the amount of time necessary to write, re-write, and re-write again. It’s so easy to fall in love with an idea, and 2 months later, find you’re not interested anymore. So, I spend a lot of time on the front end, pulling an idea like taffy, before I ever set a word on paper. The writing then happens quite quickly, probably because the unconscious has had a lot of time to simply let it bake. All in all, I spent over a year working on Feel Me Fall.

  • What was the hardest part of writing this yarn?

Akin to finding the right idea, the hardest part is sometimes spending time in the headspace of whatever I’m writing. (I worked on a YA horror, and while I’m happy with the outcome – to be published soon – I won’t do a horror again because it’s just not a headspace I want to spend that much time in!) It’s hard to “be there” with the characters with all their faults, trying to survive. I’d love to write a comedy – it seems like it would be a blast to write. Unfortunately, I’m not really a comedy writer.

  • What did ye enjoy most about writing this yarn?

I can’t really differentiate between this yarn, versus another. They are always a puzzle, with their own problems and challenges. No matter how much I write, no story is ever easy. And I don’t think they should be. If they were, it would mean I was repeating myself, telling the same basic story over. And I don’t want to do that. What I like about writing itself is finding that solution. There’s something great about feeling as if you are using the gifts that you have. I can’t play basketball. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I can’t do many, many things. But I find when I write, that I’m tapping into My Thing. And that’s a wonderful feeling.

  • Why did ye choose to sail the self-publishin’ route?

Two of my other books were published by Amazon’s crowd-sourcing imprint Kindle Press, and they’ve been very helpful with promotion. I actually tried a campaign with Feel Me Fall, but it wasn’t selected. My theory is that they had a plane-crash novel already. But I could be wrong. So, it’s not as if I purposely chose the self-pubbed route. It’s much harder to promote. But I felt the book was strong enough that I didn’t want it sitting on my hard-drive. Self-pubbing has been an experiment and learning curve for me. So far, I’ve enjoyed it. I think the key with any type of writing (and this is easier said than done) is to remove the expectation from it, and that means all of it – the idea of good reviews, money, attention. Of course, I’m not a robot, so my Zen attitude gets a lot of practice rubbing against the real world!

  • Are ye a full-time writer? If not, what be yer job that pays the bills?

I was a full-time TV writer several years ago. I had a writing partner, but we broke up, and it kind of killed any momentum I had. So I turned to books. But unless you’re Stephen King, or a number of “name” authors, writing books doesn’t pay the bills. In fact, after the cost of copyediting, cover and paid promosmany writers lose money on their books! It’s like an insane hobby. So, as a day job, I’ve worked freelance doing editing, research, and UX writing, and a variety of other jobs to keep me afloat.

  • What be your ambitions for yer writin’ career and plans for the future?

I’d love, of course, to be a full-time writer, making a living. Maybe that would be through books alone, or maybe a book-to-film option, or maybe going back to TV writing. Either way, I like writing stories. Can someone pay me to learn how to surf?

  • Do ye have any favorite words in the English language?

Can’t say that I do. And if I did, they are probably swear words that I need to nix from my vocabulary.

  • Do ye have any hated words in the English language?

I am not a fan of the use of “asshat.” For some reason, it just bugs me when people use that word. I can’t even rationally tell you why. Maybe it’s because I simply don’t like the person who used the word when I heard it for the first time.

  • Name yer top five favorite authors.

Ray Bradbury is a favorite, as I read him when I was younger, and his writing was like poetry on a page. Stephen King when I was younger too – his storytelling is simply excellent. Erik Larson – his nonfiction reads like fiction, and I always feel like I’m learning something. I can’t say I have other favorites. There are too many books on my TBR list! I’m sure there are a bunch of favorites in there.

  • Name yer top three recent favorite reads.

I read a wide variety of genres, but most recently: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, The Lost City of Z by David Grann, and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.

  • What are yer other hobbies outside of writin’?

Writing can be lonely, and sedentary. You kind of sit. In front of a screen. And I sit in front of a screen for my day job. So I’ve been doing more active hobbies, like swimming, or paddleboarding in Marina Del Rey. There’s something about getting outside, feeling the sun on my skin, and hearing the sound of water. It’s become my therapy. Of course, I still read, and sometimes I cook. But I think I’m happiest outdoors, which is a surprise, because I grew up being pretty much the most inactive person ever. (That’s how getting older is sometimes a fun surprise. I’m like, I can’t believe I’m doing this. This is so unlike the old Jim. And it tickles me that we can still evolve and surprise ourselves. The glory days are not always behind us!)

  • Who is yer most favorite pirate? (outside of this Captain of course!)

    I grew up before there were any “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, so the only pirates I knew of, were you know, the bad ones. Like Bluebeard. Or Blackbeard. Maybe both? I can’t call him a favorite – I mean, really, he was a pirate in every sense of the word and did bad things – but I remember thinking: that guy was scary. I trust The Captain would do battle with Bluebeard and The Captain would come out victorious.

  • What is yer favorite memory involving the sea?

I live in Southern California, though I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. And while there were tiny lakes, there is nothing like the Pacific Ocean. I try to drive up to Malibu and stick my feet in the sand, or linger among the waves. There are some gorgeous beaches, very clean, and the horizon stretches, and I can imagine The Captain and your boat sailing over those swells. I do it as often as I can. This past summer, it was almost every weekend. Mind you: it’s open to the public, and it’s my way of living like the 1%. There is something, too: I grew up wanting to be part of Hollywood, and to move here. I watched 80s movies of kids playing at these same beaches. And once again, it tickles me that I’m here. My career certainly didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I live in an area I love, and I made it happen. I did that. Me. Not that people held me back, but like I mentioned: in the 70s, the idea of moving to Hollywood was not, let’s say, encouraged. But you can make your dreams come true. They might not turn out exactly the way you imagine, but they come close enough.

  • Have ye ever gone off the edge of the map? And if so, what happened?

I have gone off the edge of the map, in a figurative sense. On one hand, in a good, way, I say: using the imagination is going off the map, and while writing can be a brutal career, writing itself is a wonderful meditation, an active meditation. I could say even a spiritual endeavor. And I love going off the map. In a bad way, I did get over a prolonged illness recently that took me to the edge of the map. But I think the extremes sometimes gives you more compassion, more depth. I don’t want to promote suffering, but if you suffer, then it forces you to…I hate to use the word “grow,” but it does open your eyes to what’s important to you.

So much thanks to Matey Morris for the glorious scroll exchanges, the chance to review his book, and this parley.  I am glad he came back from the edge of the map, that he takes time to enjoy the Pacific Ocean (Arrrr!), and above all that he continues to write and do what he loves.

Thus ends our parley an’ this adventure.  I be sad that this adventure be over.  But a new adventure can’t start until the last one ends.  I do encourage the crew to take a journey to read this fun novel and share ye tales of the experience with yer Captain . . .

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

To visit the author’s website go to:

James Morris – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

feel me fall – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Parley with An Author Log Entries:

Matey M.J.R. Parr

On the Horizon – feel me fall (James Morris)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult thriller eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

feel me fall (Jame Morris)

Title: feel me fall

Author: James Morris

Publisher: Inkspot Imaginarium

Publication Date: Available Now! (paperback/e-book)

ASIN: B071KR8F63

Source: the author!

 

I found out about this novel from a member of me hearty crew.  I had recently finished castle of water about plane crash survivors on a deserted island, and I loved it.  So when I read Liz’s review and praise about a YA novel where a plane crashes in the Amazon and there is a sole survivor I added it to me list.  Imagine me surprise when the author read me comment and offered me a copy.  Arrrrr!

I am so very glad he did.  This book was a thrilling look into the story of the sole survivor, Emily.  Now the book begins with Emily in a hospital bed.  So ye know that she makes it.  Her story is partially told through the use of her journal.  At first I thought this juxtaposition between the present and tales of Emily’s past would spoil the sense of suspense.  Little did I know that instead these slips back and forth in time added to the drama.

The survivors of the crash (all six of them teens of course!) have history between them.  And not all of it is good.  Their lives back home have direct consequences on how they treat each other in the jungle and the choices they make towards their ultimate survival.  Whether we were dealing with Emily’s thoughts about “normal” school life, the chaos in the jungle, or with Emily’s present thoughts, each part was engaging.  Somehow each switch felt perfect in the moment.

I loved reading about the relationships between all the characters.  I loved that I would change me thoughts back and forth about their behavior as I read.  I would love Emily one moment and want to strangle her in the next.  The relationship between Emily and her best friend Viv was of particular interest.  The suspense was wonderful, the pace was quick, and the plot twists super fun.  Even the cliche aspects that I normally dislike (student/teacher romantic relationship – ugh) somehow were turned into plot points that became fascinating.  And that ending!  Divine.

I truly enjoyed this novel and think its a great read.  I recommend it to any of me crew.

Side note: Come back tomorrow for a parley with the author!!

If ye want other viewpoints from me crew check out these reviews:

Liz @ covertocover (who introduced me to this novel!)

Marie @ drizzle&hurricanebooks

So lastly . . .

Thank you Matey Morris!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

To visit the author’s website go to:

James Morris – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

feel me fall – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – soft apocalypse (Will McIntosh)

Ahoy there me mateys!  When I last read a book by this author, I was reminded that I had never read his debut novel.  In fact, it was the only one I hadn’t read.  That oversight had to be remedied.  Apparently this novel was a finalist for both the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel.  So I finally snatched up a copy and loved it!

At the start of the novel, the United States is in the midst of an extreme economic depression with unemployment hovering at 40%.  To put this in perspective the highest period of unemployment to date in the U.S. was 25% in 1933.

At the start, the protagonist, Jasper, is an out of work, homeless sociologist who is traveling with his “tribe.”  The tribe is a random collection of folks who are helping each other out while waiting for society to improve.  And for Jasper and certain members of his tribe, life does seem to get better in small increments.  But what happens when the apocalypse doesn’t arrive in one large explosion but rather in small seemingly incremental changes?

Well ye get this delight of a book.  It takes place over 10 years.  We follow Jasper and through his eyes watch the world slowly crumble.  Bad things happen.  People adapt.  Jasper’s life improves.  More bad things happen.  Jasper’s life gets worse. There is action in this book but it is a slow burn of overall destruction.

While watching the consequences of the world slowly imploding, ye get to see Jasper’s relationships and personality evolve and his ideas on love and survival change.  This book takes place mostly in and around the environs of Savannah.  The author certainly seemed extremely familiar with the area.  I adored the format, the writing, the characters, and well, everything.

As usual if ye haven’t read anything by the author, I suggest ye hoist those sails and get moving!

Side note:  While researching fer this blog, I discovered that Mr. McIntosh had a book come out in June and has another coming out in October!  Arrrrr!!!  I must get me hands on the booty!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Will McIntosh – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

soft apocalypse – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

burning midnight (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

hitchers (Dead Men Tell No Tales)

faller (On the Horizon – Sci-Fi eArc)

On the Horizon – nyxia (Scott Reintgen)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

nyxia (Scott Reintgen)

Title: nyxia

Author: Scott Reintgen

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-0399556791

Source: NetGalley

Arrrrrr mateys this book be amazing!  It has been compared to maze runner and illuminae.  While I read both and enjoyed them, this one blows the competition out of the water.  The characters are diverse, the plot is enthralling, the pace is blazing, the tension is fierce, and the story drew its hooks in me and wouldn’t let go.

Ten poor kids from all over Earth have been recruited by a corporation called Babel to travel to a distant planet to help mine a substance called nyxia.  In doing so, they immediately benefit their families back home.  There is one catch – they have to compete on the journey to earn the spots to be part of the final mission.  Only 8 out of 10 will proceed.

The story is told from the perspective of Emmett.  He is an awesome protagonist who is determined to win but finds himself questioning the other players, the terms of the competition, and his own thoughts and motivations.  Even though we see the world through Emmett’s eyes, we still manage to learn plenty of the other characters and their motivations as well.  I particularly loved Bilal and Kaya.

The substance nyxia is crazy.  I loved how it was used in space life and in the trials.  There are also the hints of potential uses in the future.  It kinda creeps me out and fascinates me all at the same time.

This novel takes some of the tropes of the dystopian sci-fi young adult novels and turns them upside down.  Also this has one of the best endings of a book one in a trilogy that I have read in a very long time.  I cannot wait to get me hands on book two.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Crown Books for Young Readers!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Scott Reintgen – Author

To buy the novel go to:

nyxia – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – my lady jane (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This young adult novel caught me eye because many many crew members wouldn’t stop talking about how funny it was.  I was informed it was a young adult historical fiction that veers off from the historical and into the hysterical.

In these rough seas of the past couple months, I felt I could use some laughter so I picked up a copy.  And I did mostly enjoy it.  Jane of course is the highlight with her book obsession, sassy wits, and intelligence.  It was worth reading this book just so I could get to know this version of Lady Jane Grey.  Also I loved King Edward VI and Gifford.  The relationships of these three characters were sweet and charming.  However even the secondary characters were fun and integral to the plot which is always nice to see.

The first part of the novel mostly takes the correct history and then twists it.  Adds magic. Woohoo!  This part was my favorite.  In fact I loved the whole section up until Jane’s marriage.  Then the book lagged for me until it was time for the group to storm and retake the castle.  It’s not to say that I hated the middle of the book but it was slow and there was a lot of waiting around and wandering in the woods (a bit of a pet peeve).

I don’t think I loved the book enough to read any more of this series but it certainly was a quick, light, and entertaining read.  I am impressed at how smooth the storytelling and character voices were even though three authors worked on this book.  But don’t just listen to me take on the novel . . .

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Lola @ hitormissbooks

Wren @ wrensreads

Jillian @ rantandraveaboutbooks

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

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.

To visit the authors’ websites go to:

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows – Authors

To buy the book go to:

my lady jane – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List