So here's the flip side of our "Best of 2006" list on the main site--the top ten things we're looking forward to in 2007. We're happy to report that there's a ton of stuff coming out over the next year that makes our palms sweat, starting with...
1. The last Gregor the Overlander book. Suzanne Collins' hugely entertaining series was my favorite literary discovery of 2006, and I am really looking forward to the last book. Every book in this series has been an improvement on the book before, so my hopes (and expectations) are sky-high.
2. The million Wordcandy film adaptations coming out. Hollywood is making movies of everything from The Golden Compass to Blood and Chocolate, so we're hoping at least one of them will be halfway watchable.
3. Lisa Kleypas's first non-historical romance. Kleypas is our favorite historical romance novelist, so we're pretty stoked about her upcoming modern novel Sugar Daddy (despite the title, which... ew.)
4. Not one but two Jennifer Crusie collaborations! Sure, her collaborations are only half as good as her independent novels, but if she's writing two of them that should equal one full Crusie novel, right?
5. Jane Austen TV miniseries! Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. Austen looks good on TV...
6. ...but if historical romances don't float your boat, there's the Nora Roberts TV adaptations. Sure, they look terrible, but I'm pretty sure Meg has already programmed her TiVo.
7. A new Kelley Armstrong novel, as well as another installment in her current series. Ms. Armstrong is one of the best writers currently producing girly horror/fantasy, and anything new from her is something to look forward to. Exit Strategy comes out on July 1st, and it looks like it's going to feature some hot mafia action.
8. A new Susan Juby book--one that doesn't star Alice MacLeod! (That's a tough concept to wrap my head around, but I'm trying.) Another Kind of Cowboy is coming out in the fall.
9. Further installments in some of our favorite series. We're particularly excited about new books in the Sisters Grimm, Sammy Keyes, and Holly Black's fantasy series.
10. And, last but not least, the last Harry Potter book. Rowling's series holds a unique place in our cultural landscape, and we're hoping that young Harry is retired in the highest possible style.
Viz Media is releasing the first volume of Vampire Knight, Matsuri Hino's beautiful, profoundly silly shojo manga about a high school that caters to both human and vampire students. (Seriously--what are the vampires studying? Most of them have been teenagers for decades! I hate to break it to you, but if they haven't learned calculus by now, they're not gonna.) This manga will be out on Tuesday, but you can read an online preview here.
The Leaky Cauldron is reporting that there's a possible Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release date of July 31, 2007. This information is based on a date provided by Baker and Taylor, a company that provides materials to public and school libraries, so we're hoping it's a fairly accurate source.
Sorry about the scarcity of postage around here. We're located in the Northwest, so first our power was out, and then our server is in Taiwan, so the recent earthquake there screwed things up even further. But everything seems to be back in order, so hopefully a flood of posts will be forthcoming, starting with my Christmas Gift Certificate Round-up:
1. Ida B, by Katherine Hannigan: 70% sweet, 30% sad kids' book about a fourth grade girl whose wonderful, imaginative life is thrown into a tailspin by her mother's illness.
2. The Wallflower, Volume 10, by Tomoko Hayakawa: The most recent installment in my favorite manga series, featuring my favorite self-contained story (the one with the kotatsu).
3. Missing You, by Meg Cabot: the last story in my beloved 1-800-Where-R-You series! Finally, finally we learn what Rob did to get probation....
4. Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell: My mom gave me this, along with a Julia Child cookbook. While there is, like, no chance of me trying to prepare chicken livers in aspic or whatever, I'm really looking forward to reading Powell's book.
5. The Twelve Terrors of Christmas, by John Updike, illustrated by Edward Gorey: No Christmas is complete with out a little Gorey goodness.
6. Billionaires Prefer Blondes, by Suzanne Enoch: I've been wanting this book for a while--Enoch's stuff is always fun--but I was too lazy to either request a review copy or go out and get one. The cover is unbelievably tacky, but it was a very entertaining, silly read.
Last night, after countless hours of gifts, desserts, and relatives, it was time for Nathan, Meg, and me to meet up for our annual Christmas movie outing. This year we decided to see Eragon. We knew it looked terrible, but our Christmas movie is never chosen for its intellectual weight, and after two days of non-stop family members, a little D&D-style stupidity sounded perfect. Dragons? Swordfighting? Right up our alley!
Sadly, we probably would have been better off renting Reign of Fire--at least that had Christian Bale in it. Eragon seemed to consist mainly of this (admittedly, very, very pretty) boy riding along on horse- or dragonback, set to inspirational music. Then there was a big battle scene at the end, which was cut so choppily that I couldn't tell what was going on, featuring a bad guy whose look seemed to have been lifted wholesale from the Subspecies movies. I'm not saying that I won't see the other movies in the series--hey, a girl's got to see something on Christmas, and that boy is cute as a freaking button--but this was a hot mess.
I was very excited to see this, though:
There's going to be a movie based on Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate! Sure, it's by the producers of Underworld, and it stars a soap opera actress with perfect nails, and they obviously totally screwed up the story... but still! Neat!
And if you'd like to find out for yourself, you could go to Rowling's site, find the hidden game, PLAY the hidden game, and figure it out with nothing but your own mighty brain... or you could just scroll down.
Book Seven's Title will be Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows (unless Rowling is having a little Solstice Fool's Day Joke on us, which I suppose is possible). My initial reaction is a big "meh", but maybe it'll work out better than I expect--I've heard of Arthurian hallows, or the Thirteen Treasures of Britain, so maybe that's what she's referring to?
While poking around my local Borders last night, I found this:
When are they going to let this book fade into richly-deserved obscurity? Look, I'm not trying to be mean, but Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars just doesn't DESERVE a soundtrack, or to be printed in hardback, or to have a comic book tie-in. It wasn't terrible, but The Looking Glass Wars is the kind of book that would be better off as a movie (or maybe a manga). It needs some some super-exciting special effects thrown in to distract you from all the cartoonish characterization.
She appears to be serving as her own spokesmodel, too. If you visit her website, you can see pictures of her posing in what appears to be a very pretty prom dress, with equally high-school appropriate hair flowing out behind her.
The lovely city of Seattle has once again been ranked as the #1 most literate city in America. Apparently, this ranking is decided by newspaper circulation, the number of bookstores and libraries, educational attainment, and "Internet resources" (whatever that means). I don't think we can get too snooty about this assessment, though. It rains here, like, six months a year. What else are we supposed to do?
There's an article in the Guardian about the creepy-yet-absorbing digital novel Inanimate Alice. If you've got access to a computer with decent speed, Inanimate Alice is well worth a visit--it's like a disturbing, interactive Nick Bantock book.
Behold: our latest and greatest gift suggestions, just in time for you to have to pay expedited shipping charges! (And last year's suggestions are still pretty awesome, if you're looking for even more ideas.)
Scour your local Goodwill or Value Village store for vintage romance, sci-fi, and mystery titles. You can buy a hefty stack of them for under five dollars, and they don't even need wrapping--just tie them up with some colorful ribbon and let their glorious covers speak for themselves.
For friends who love DIY projects, pair a book like Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle with a gift certificate from your local craft store. Then they can make this great puffball rug that we're lusting after (and give it to you).
Bookcloseouts.com is a phenomenal source for massively discounted Wordcandy titles: paperbacks for two to three dollars, hardbacks for five to seven. It's not the world's most user-friendly site, but their prices make a little hunting well worth it.
American Georgette Heyer fans take note: order RIGHT NOW, and you can probably get a copy of Georgette Heyer's Regency World shipped to your house before the holidays. This title is only available in England, so you'll need to pay extra for shipping, but it would make a wonderful present for any Heyer devotees on your list. ($25 or so, depending on the exchange rate.)
Penguin Graphic Classics is a gorgeous line of novels featuring covers drawn by modern artists. If you're looking to scare the crap out of somebody, we recommend their edition of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. If not, try this beautiful copy of Voltaire's Candide.
We love this Cheshire Cat mug. Add hot water, and the cat fades away until only his grin is visible.
When all else fails, you can always give chocolate. We can personally vouch for the deliciousness of Moonstruck Chocolates. Their book-shaped box of truffles would make a lovely present for any chocolate-loving bibliophile. Doesn't everybody have a few of those to shop for? ($39)
You know, I didn't realize that romance novel readers didn't belong on the Metro when I was in DC a few months ago. I never would have guessed, either--those massive posters of the guy from Smallville smiling with his mouth hanging open didn't shriek "bastion of intellectualism" to me.
...then you NEED to go to Yule Ball 2006, featuring musical acts Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, The Remus Lupins, and more!
But if you can't make it to the Yule Ball, then head on over to Harry and the Potters MySpace page, where you can hear a few of their songs, including "Saving Ginny Weasley" and "The Human Hosepipe" (about Cho Chang). It's not quite the same, but it's better than nothing.
Today, dear readers, is the day we honor Amanda McKittrick Ros, the Irish novelist and poet that some have called "the worst writer ever". That seems a little harsh (have they read Catherine Coulter? What about Newt Gingrich's novel? Valley of the Dolls?) but there's no denying that Mrs. Ros was a unique talent. She was fond of using large, flowery, alliterative adjectives--so many large, flowery, alliterative adjectives, in fact, that her meaning was frequently totally obscured. Behold the first sentence of her greatest work, Delina Delany:
Have you ever visited that portion of Erin's plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?
I don't think that Strunk and White would have approved. But her stuff just gets better! Her poetry is equally immortal--here's the first verse of "Visiting Westminster Abbey":
Holy Moses! Have a look! Flesh decayed in every nook! Some rare bits of brain lie here, Mortal loads of beef and beer, Some of whom are turned to dust, Every one bids lost to lust; Royal flesh so tinged with 'blue' Undergoes the same as you.
The glory of that first line leaves me speechless. Sadly, all of Mrs. Ros's books are now out of print, but if you'd like to learn more about her (and I'm sure you do!), be sure to visit The Oasis of Futurity, Alfred Armstrong's tribute to the author's life and works.
[Note: the image above is of Irene Iddesleigh, the eponymous heroine of one of Mrs. Ros's novels, taken from Mr. Armstrong's site. I've never read Irene Iddesleigh, but I get the sense that this is the heroine's pose throughout most of the book--her flowerlike face buried in her delicate hands, her elegant shoulders trembling with her sobs. Doesn't it look like fun?]
The page for the Lifetime TV movie adaptations of four of Nora Roberts's novels is up. While it's encouraging that Ms. Roberts is excited about these productions, my hopes are not high, seeing as:
A) two of the four books featured are damn near unreadable--Blue Smoke and Carolina Moon. Why does Roberts get such a thrill out of lingering in the mind of a serial killer? If I wanted to read a Thomas Harris novel, I'd read a Thomas Harris novel. (Okay, I totally wouldn't: I'd get my head checked, as I would have clearly lost my mind. But you understand what I'm saying.)
B) even the descriptions featured on the page are totally cheesy-looking ("...the gals know this forced family reunion isn't going to be smooth sailing, but they don't expect to go head to head with someone out to sabotage them..."). Gals? Smooth sailing? Gals?!
C) the one of the books that I really liked (Angel's Fall) features Heather Locklear as the main character, a lonely, traumatized woman in her mid-twenties. Don't get me wrong: Locklear is a total babe and a fine actress, but she's not who I would have cast as a broken young woman terrified that she's losing her grip on reality.
Regardless of my feelings, the first of these movies is due to air on January 29, 2007.
This last Saturday's broadcast of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on ABC Family included several sneak peeks of the upcoming Order of the Phoenix movie. In case (like me) you don't regularly TiVo that channel, our friends at HPANA have recorded all the little snippets and put them together on YouTube. Enjoy!
It's the book world's answer to Netflix: for a nominal fee, Booksfree.com (misnomer: it's cheap, not free) will send you any of their 88,000+ paperbacks and audiobooks, along with a self-addressed, prepaid return envelope. Booksfree.com customers never need to worry about another human being seeing them buying a book that looks like this one--->
On the other hand, while the Booksfree.com website says that the company has been satisfying thousands of customers since 2000, I'm a little dubious about a site that has a header marked "Paperbacks Books".
Check out the cover art for the paperback edition of Annette Curtis Klause's Freaks: Alive on the Inside:
Isn't it beautiful? I'm pretty sure that's the same artist that does Bill Willingham's Fables series. The hardback cover was perfectly competent (see below--doesn't it look like a computer game?) but this artwork seems like a better fit for Klause's creepy, fantastic story.
Unfortunately, you can't count on publishers to actually follow through on cover art. We might end up seeing something completely different on the shelves when the book is released next summer.
The Oxford University Press is offering the full 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary for a mere $895!!! Anyone who's ever used the OED at their university library knows what a marvelous thing it is, and this is the biggest markdown I've ever seen--over 40% off of the regular price. This special offer only lasts through January 2007, so save your Christmas money!
I really don't want to have to try to translate Yotsuba&! volume five myself. My two semesters of college Japanese didn't exactly leave me fluent (although they did leave me speaking my equally bad Spanish with a Japanese accent, according to my mother). Still, if my only other option is not reading the story at all, then I guess it's time to break out my handy Japanese/English dictionary and get to work.
But don't think I'll be forgetting this any time soon, ADV Manga, because I WON'T.
Anyway, that's the cover, minus the title and volume number. Isn't it cute?