I finally got around to watching Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's movie MirrorMask last night, and it was pretty good! I put off watching it for ages because (and I'm sorry to say it, but it's true) those guys can be unbelievably pretentious, and I don't like too much high-minded-ness fouling up my cinematic entertainment*.
Sure, it was arty and murky and full of circus performers and clunky symbolism. Also, certain aspects of the plot were very similar to Diana Wynne Jones's novel Charmed Life, which also features a selfish girl using a mirror to steal the life of one of her doppelgangers in a parallel world. But, all in all, it was a lot of fun--entertaining and gorgeous to look at.
*Which is why my favorite movie is, and will always be, Army of Darkness.
Then we suggest that you check out some of these Wordcandy-approved manga titles. Unlike a lot of the manga we recommend, all of these stories are still in their infancy, English-language publication-wise, so you won't need to shell out a ton of cash to get caught up on the storylines.
Full disclosure: the scanlation group that I work for, Korean-Manhwa, used to scanlate Bird Kiss, so I have a pre-established soft spot for it. Now that Tokyopop has picked it up, even those of you who aren't IRC-savvy can read this goofily charming ugly-duckling story.
This book is pretty silly, but it's tough not to like. The heroine, Kyoko, sacrificed everything to make her boyfriend's dream of becoming an idol star a reality, but as soon as he became famous he dumped her. Kyoko is left broken-hearted--but (unlike most manga heroines) she's not interested in winning him back. She's out for revenge, and she's decided that the best way to get it is by becoming a megastar herself. Now, if only she had any talent....
If Skip-Beat is silly, then Vampire Knight is dumber than a box of hair. Not that it matters--this series has absolutely no need to worry its pretty head about things like realistic plots or decent characterization. Sure, there are a bunch of hot vampires and some love-triangle action and lots of cool guns and stuff, but 98% of this title's appeal comes from its gorgeous artwork.
The book covers and descriptions of the final two books in Nora Roberts's Circle Trilogy are up. Dance of the Gods is due out October 3rd, and Valley of Silence is due out October 31st. The descriptions below are culled from the Publishers Weekly review and the publisher's remarks, respectively:
"...The relationship between the bigheaded, anachronistic Larkin and the hot-tempered, thoroughly modern lone-wolf Blair gives the proceedings a satisfying emotional core, especially rewarding when their anger turns finally to lust. Fulfilling their destiny, the six warriors enter the stone circle to travel backward in time to Geall for the fateful battle with Lilith."
"...Moira finds herself playing the roles of warrior and royal, as she follows the tradition of her people and prepares to take the crown before leading them into battle. And if that isn't enough, she finds her thoughts turning to Cian more often than not. So what's a chaste and intelligent young woman to do when given less than a month with the man she loves, who's not a man, but a vampire? And how will the people of Geall fare against an army of blood-thirsty vampires who have had centuries to prepare?"
So, the first stills from the upcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie have been released, and I am pleased to announce that the windblown Monkees shag appears to be a thing of the past:
And here's our first peek at Dolores Umbridge! Umbridge was, in my opinion, a far scarier villain than Voldemort will ever be, and this outfit ups the fear factor considerably. She's like an evil, mumsy version of Jackie O:
I love the movie Labyrinth. You'd have to be nuts not to, in my opinion. A) It has David Bowie in it, playing a role that would have destroyed the career of any other man, B) it has inspired loads of excellent fanfic, and C) Ludo! Those freaky hands! The chickens!
I doubt that mere words can convey my excitement here, people, because it turns out that Tokyopop has just released a manga-style sequel. Behold:
Well, according to this, J. K. Rowling is only half-finished with the final Harry Potter novel, which means that our dream* of one day being famous enough to merit an advance reader copy of a Potter book isn't quite dead yet!
*We don't actually dream this. Nobody's that famous. I bet Rowling's publicists would turn down an ARC request from the Pope.
Excerpt from: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl Why you should buy a copy of your very own: It's just as nasty as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but even weirder! In this scene... Our young hero is traveling upwards in the great glass elevator at a tremendous rate of speed, accompanied by four grandparents, two parents, and Mr. Wonka. Three of the grandparents (Grandma Josephine, Grandma Georgina, and Grandpa George) aren't sold on this newfangled mode of travel.
"'What in the world keeps this thing up in the air?' croaked Grandma Josephine.
'Skyhooks', said Mr. Wonka.
'You amaze me', said Grandma Josephine.
'Dear lady', said Mr. Wonka, 'you are new to the scene. When you have been with us a little longer, nothing will amaze you.'
'These skyhooks', said Grandma Josephine. 'I assume one end is hooked into this contraption we're riding in. Right?'
'Right', said Mr. Wonka.
'What's the other end hooked into?' said Grandma Josephine.
'Every day', said Mr. Wonka, 'I get deafer and deafer. Remind me, please, to call up my ear doctor the moment we get back.'
'Charlie', said Grandma Josephine. 'I don't think I trust this gentleman very much.'
'Nor do I', said Grandma Georgina. 'He footles around.'"
Well, I am finally back from my month-long moving/starting school-related absence. I am all moved in (thanks to Julia & Nathan), and I have survived my first two weeks at college. Sadly, the more time I spend struggling through Statistics homework, the more I wonder how smart it was to decide to go back for that second degree....
Over the course of my move, I realized just how many books I own... actually, it turned out there were a few books I didn't realize that I still had. Kind of embarrassing, really. So I went looking for some kind of system that would allow me to keep track of what books I still own, and which ones have been carted off to the used bookstore. Enter Delicious Library.
This program allows you to use your webcam to scan the barcode of your favorite books, movies, music & games. It then uses that number to pull information from Amazon.com. You end up with all the information that you would have pulled up if you had searched for the title on the web, from the release date to a brief description--even a tab with similar titles you might like.
Additionally, there's a tab that allows you to enter all your information on the book. You can give it your own review, or rating, mark if you have read it, if it is a signed copy and even put in where the book is located in your home. Plus, it links with your address book, so as you lend items you can keep track of who has them.
This application is only for Mac users, but if you've got a Mac and you love to organize, then it might be a great product for you!
Much to my delight, I hear that Aardman Studios (the people who made Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run) will be making a film adaptation of Philip Pullman's The Scarecrow and his Servant. I've been mistaken before, sadly--I thought that the Miyazaki adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle would be brilliant, but it turned out to be merely good--but my hopes are high for this collaboration.
For those of you that like to get your Christmas shopping done early, we encourage you to start investigating the clearance sections of online booksellers. It takes a little searching, but you can get some great books at really low prices. A quick survey of the BarnesandNoble.comSale Annex turned up a hardcover copy of The Charles Addams Mother Goose for a mere $7.98 (Addams was a famous New Yorker cartoonist and the creator of The Addams Family), hardcover versions of Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy for less than six dollars apiece, and, in the "three books for $9.99" section, paperbacks by Neal Stephenson, Allen Kurzweil, and Meg Cabot.
I've heard some surprisingly positive stuff about the new "Young James Bond" series by Charlie Higson. Still, I can't imagine how these books would work--James Bond novels are all about the sex, guns, and gambling, with some manly brooding thrown in. So how does that translate to kiddie lit? Are there preteen vixens hanging around? Are his fellow boarding school inmates shooting each other with guns pinched from their fathers' shooting racks? Are there fourteen-year-old kingpins running games of Three-card Monte? I'm almost tempted to buy a copy and find out... but not quite.
The Harry Potter Lexicon, the go-to website for all true Harry Potter geeks, now features a Timeline of the Wizarding World. The timeline features hundreds of events in Wizarding history, ranging from obscure snippets--"1107 AD: Guthrie Lochrin of Scotland writes of the discomfort of riding broomsticks"--to more pertinent facts--Harry's birthday is July 31st. The timeline (actually, the entire site) is a conscientious fanfic writer's dream, and a testament to both Rowling's imagination and the amazing dedication of the fans that run the site.
Jennifer Crusie has an all-new novella coming out on October 31st. It's called Hot Toy, and it's part of the collection Santa, Baby (which will also feature novellas by Lori Foster and Carly Phillips). New stuff by Crusie is always exciting, and this will be her first release since early 2004 that wasn't either A) co-written with someone else, which does not result in her finest work, or B) an expensive re-release of one of her older books.
Also, according to her blog, Ms. Crusie has no fewer than three other projects in the works: another collaboration (...meh) with Bob Mayer, a new collaboration with authors Anne Stuart and Eileen Dreyer, and her solo effort, an Agatha Christie tribute called You Again.
Aintitcoolnews posted an article this morning about MGM's desire to make a film version of The Hobbit, to be directed by Peter Jackson. Unfortunately, Jackson says that no one has spoken to him about this project (which I find tough to believe, frankly), so we'll have to wait and see. The article mentions some distribution rights issues that would have to be resolved before the movie could be made, and points out that Jackson's schedule is filling up fast, so I wouldn't hold your breath, Tolkien fans.
P.S. Note that this cover art is done by the fantastically awesome Peter Sis.
Along with the doll featured below, all true Jane Austen geeks are going to want to rush out and buy The Jane Austen Cookbook, by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye. Written by a food historian and an Austen scholar, The Jane Austen Cookbook features discussion of Austen's novels and letters as well as recipes, many of which have been adapted to the modern kitchen (including, apparently, a recipe for "Wine-Roasted Gammon and Pigeon Pie").
Ray Bradbury's classic short story "The Homecoming" was first published in Mademoiselle in 1946, and it's been a Halloween treat for readers ever since. HarperCollins has just released a beautiful new edition, illustrated by longtime Neil Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean, as part of its "Wonderfully Illustrated Short Pieces" (WISP) series, which attempts to "[introduce] classic short stories to a new generation of readers with award-wining illustrators and unique collectible packaging". I don't believe in "collectible packaging" (that usually means "the kind of book you're not actually allowed to read), but this would certainly make a gorgeous Halloween present for somebody.
Why does Dover do this? I mean, they've released all kinds of gorgeous stuff--this week, they're putting out a beautiful book of Kay Neilsen's fairy tale illustrations. Doesn't a cover like this one (What's up with that red face, anyway? Has that princess been drinking?) hurt their artistic sensibilities?
I'm happy to announce that Shojo Beat has picked up Kiyoko Arai's very funny manga Beauty Pop, and the first volume is due out on September 5th. Here's the official description:
"Although a truly gifted hairstylist, Kiri Koshiba has no interest in using her talent to pursue fame and fortune, unlike the three popular boys in the "Scissors Project" at school. They give showy makeovers to handpicked girls, determined to become the best makeover team in Japan. As much as Kiri tries to shy away from the Scissors Project spotlight, she finds herself responding to beauty's call...
Kiri's friend Kanako gives a present to one of the members of the Scissors Project. Her act of kindness is interpreted as a bribe to get a makeover, and they reject her out of hand for being too ugly. Kiri decides to help Kanako and give the boys a lesson in what true beauty is."
Uh, I'm not too sure about the whole "responding to beauty's call" business. I like our description better--think of the story as a hairstyling version of Robin Hood.
Hey, all. Be sure to swing by Jennifer Colt's website and check out the sneak peek of the latest book in her McAfee twins detective series, The Vampire of Venice Beach. These books are funny, smart, and cute as all-git-out. (Plus, I'm finally getting around to appreciating the cover art. I thought the first book just blended into the chick-lit shelves at Target, but the color schemes for the sequels have been much more eye-catching. And this series deserves eye-catching, damn it.) The sneak peek is available here.
P.S. Jennifer Colt is also running a contest on her website (details here) to win a signed copy of The Vampire of Venice Beach and a baseball cap.