Friday, September 28, 2007


If you're going to be in the D.C. area tomorrow, be sure to check out the seventh annual National Book Festival. It's free and open to the public, and will feature such Wordcandy-approved authors as M.T. Anderson, Diane Ackerman, Holly Black, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Gail Carson Levine. The whole thing promises to be a very good time, and Wordcandy staff member Megan will be there! So if you see a confused-looking brunette wandering around clutching a press pass like a talisman, just gently point her in the direction of Terry Pratchett, okay?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stay gold

The New York Times is currently featuring an essay about S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders, which is enjoying its fortieth anniversary this year.

While Hinton's West-Side-Story-esque melodrama has always seemed a little cheeseball to me, I admire her achievement: Hinton started writing The Outsiders when she was a mere fifteen-year-old whippersnapper, but it went on to become the best-selling young-adult novel of all time. (Even better, it holds the #43 spot on the American Library Association's 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books* list!)

*Which makes for fascinating reading, all by itself. Did you know that A Wrinkle in Time has been challenged more times than such classics as Curses, Hexes, and Spells, The New Joy of Gay Sex, and Howard Stern's "manifesto", the elegantly titled Private Parts? Terrifying, isn't it?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Odds and ends

Please note that if you missed out on the season premiere of Gossip Girl last week, don’t worry: iTunes has the pilot episode available for free download. is featuring a list of strange and little-known author factoids. Most of them are pretty unsavory, but (on the up side) most of them aren't Wordcandy-approved authors.

And, last but not least, we have another awesome bookshelf to add to our fantasy bookshelf collection. We love the funky cut-out shape and the purple interior.

It's unclear how much this costs, where you can buy it, or what you'd do with the strangely-shaped cut-out bits (maybe store wine?) but it sure is pretty.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Manga releases galore

I’ve been having some irritating manga experiences lately, so I'm happy to see that there will be volumes of all three of my favorite mangas coming out in the next few weeks:

1. Volume 13 of The Wallflower—This series is silly, repetitive, and seriously lacking in meaningful character development... but I love it anyway. The Wallflower might be gleefully ridiculous, but every volume thus far has been more than funny enough to justify its cover price.

2. Volume 13 of Tramps Like UsTramps Like Us is just as funny and strange as The Wallflower, but in a completely different way. This delicate, surreal romance is drawing to a close, and I'm really going to miss it—on the other hand, the complete series will be the perfect "gateway manga" for all of my non-manga-reading friends! (Your fate is at hand, guys.)

3. Volume 5 of Yotsuba&!—Everyone should read Yotsuba&!. There should be Yotsuba&! volumes in every school classroom and public library, the upcoming volume five release should be celebrated with a national bank holiday, and it's possible that Kiyohiko Azuma should be canonized. If I read nothing else in all of October, this release alone would make the month worthwhile.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Sequel news

We've had about a zillion search string hits this month from people looking for information on the sequel to Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy. So here's a compilation of what (little) we know:

1. The sequel will be called Frostbite.

2. It's due out on April 3rd, 2008, and will be followed by at least one more book.

3. It's going to feature a skiing trip, further romantic complications for Rose, and a roving band of evil Strigoi.

We are indebted to Ms. Mead for the plot tidbits (many thanks!). But if you're one of her many new fans, did you know she has another urban fantasy series? It looks like it's intended for adult readers, but if you fit that category, why not while away some of the time between now and next April by reading Succubus Blues?

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Friday, September 21, 2007

History Lesson for Girls

Aurelie Sheehan writes with delicate, lyrical precision, her characters are memorable and three-dimensional, her sense of time and place imbues every page... and if she’d shown the tiniest bit of self-restraint, her book History Lesson for Girls could have been great.

The year is 1975, and thirteen-year-old Alison Glass has just moved to Weston, Connecticut, with her bohemian parents, her horse, Jazz, and the socially crippling back brace she has to wear for her scoliosis. Alison tumbles into an intense friendship with popular, fierce Kate Hamilton, daughter of the town’s richest New Age guru. Bonding over their shared love of horses, Kate and Alison’s friendship carries them through some very difficult times—but, in the end, their relationship isn’t strong enough to save them both.

History Lesson for Girls is a virtual parade of melodrama. There’s child abuse, drug abuse, date rape, failing marriages, school bullying, murdered animals, and suicidal kids. There are tragedies large and small: Kate's abusive, drug-addled father shoots her horse, and our heroine spends the night of the school dance watching Hawaii Five-O with her dad. No tearjerker stone is left unturned—and after a while, the relentless suffering gets more than a little ludicrous. Sure, these were the reckless, crazy seventies, but did everything have to go wrong for these kids? Did Sheehan have some kind of master list of childhood trauma she was checking off?

I have read (and loved) other depressing-but-beautifully-written coming of age stories set in the seventies, but Sheehan’s book won’t be finding a place of honor on my bookshelf next to The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin Family books. Ms. Sheehan is a gifted writer, but her book would have really benefited from an adaptation of Coco Chanel’s famous advice about accessories: take out one tragedy before leaving the house.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

East Coast does O.C.

Have you been feeling the lack of crazy fashion, spoiled teens, social outcasts, trendy music, underage drinking, awkwardly flirtatious "banter", and brooding underdogs? Well, buck up, 'cause it's finally time for the CW's series premiere of "Gossip Girl".

I TiVoed the first episode, and I think I'll keep watching the show. It didn't immediately grab me as the great new show that I have to see, but I think it's worth watching a few more episodes. The show seems to be holding true to the general storyline of the first book* (although I expect that will change as the series progresses), which I found entertaining enough.

So, if you like mediocre teen series, and your Wednesday isn't already rich with entertainment options, this is probably worth at least one trial viewing.

*Feel free to contradict me if I'm wrong about this. It's been a long while since I read these suckers.



We’ve run across a few great librarian-oriented websites during our years at Wordcandy, but we’ve never seen anything quite like Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes’s Internet comic strip Unshelved. This site is totally worth a visit—the daily strip has a laid-back, Office Space-esque sense of humor, and the site’s Sunday strips are a solid resource for Wordcandy-friendly book recommendations.

Librarian Gene Ambaum and cartoonist Bill Barnes created Unshelved in late 2001. Unshelved follows the adventures of a sarcastic public librarian named Dewey, who, along with his fellow librarians, deals with a wide (and bizarre) range of library patrons, including Ned, who celebrates his freedom of expression through nudity, and a guy who uses bacon strips for bookmarks.

Since 2006, Unshelved’s Sunday color strips have been devoted to book recommendations, and they’ve promoted some truly excellent titles: Gregor the Overlander, Ptolemy’s Gate, Heir Apparent, The Thief. The Sunday strips do show some major genre blind spots, however—while the Unshelved Book Club has reviewed a few mainstream comics and avant-garde teen dramas, there’s no love for manga like Yotsuba&! or Tramps Like Us, excellent, adult-oriented romances by people like Georgette Heyer, or the straightforward teen romances of Jennifer Echols or Meg Cabot. (Actually, fellow high-impact librarian Nancy Pearl left Meg Cabot out of her Book Crush collection, too, which leaves us wondering: is there some kind of Cabot/librarian feud we’re unaware of?)

Note: In addition to reading the strip, you can also check out Unshelved for the thrilling saga of the "Pimp My Bookcart" competition—a contest to discover who can make the most gloriously lurid bookcart in all the land!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nora returns!

Well, autumn is rollin' in, so it must be time for another Nora Roberts trilogy. Her upcoming novel Blood Brothers is due out on November 27th. Here's the publisher's description:

In the small village of Hawkins Hollow, three best friends who share the same birthday sneak off into the woods for a sleepover the evening before turning 10. But a night of pre-pubescent celebration turns into a night of horror as their blood brother oath unleashes a three-hundred year curse.

Twenty-one years later, Cal Hawkins and his friends have seen their town plagued by a week of unexplainable evil events two more times - every seven years. With the clock winding down on the third set of seven years, someone else has taken an interest in the town's folklore. Quinn is a well known scholar of local legends, and despite Cal's protests, insists on delving in the mystery. But when the first signs of evil appear months early, it's not only the town Cal tries to protect, but also his heart.

Ooooh, are there killer clowns in it?


Monday, September 17, 2007

I covet...

We've blogged before about Penguin's Graphics Classics reprints, but their recent edition of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers is so awesome that it's worthy of its own post:

Dumas's story is pretty cartoonish anyway, so it's a great fit with this cover art.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Beauty soothes (my sinuses)

I have a brutal head cold today, so, rather than posting the book review that I promised on our newsletter (trust me, nobody wants to see me edit things while under the influence of cold medicine), I'm just going to settle for posting three of the book covers that have been consistently catching my eye recently:

This one (from Marina Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian) speaks to my Josef Lada-loving Czech heritage:

This one (a novel written by a series of authors, including Wordcandy favorites Nick Hornby and Eoin Colfer) is even cooler in person:

And this one is just plain awesome. I have no idea how good the book is, but I love the cover art and title:

With that, I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wear 'em with pride.

Check out this cute Madeline shirt, available for a paltry (okay, not really) $24.50:

Aside: This has no literary significance, and I don't think I'd actually wear it, but I also really like their "Viva La Betty" shirt.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007)

We were very sorry to hear that Madeleine L'Engle, author of the mind-bogglingly awesome children's classic A Wrinkle in Time, died last Thursday. Ms. L'Engle lived to a ripe old eighty-eight, and is survived by two daughters, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by 26 publishers before the wise editors at Farrar, Straus & Giroux accepted it. It went on to win the John Newbery Medal for 1963 and is now in its 69th printing. It's one of the most banned books in the United States, usually due to religious objections--ridiculous, as Ms. L'Engle was a woman of strong and openly professed faith.

I hope Ms. L'Engle was well enough a few months ago to admire the beautiful new reprints of A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels. She was a wonderful author, and will be missed.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who knows?

We're always looking for new and different ways to store books here at Wordcandy, and this Invisible Shelf seems like an interesting possibility. Visually, I love it, and I can see how it would be a great way to store some of my more colorful books. (Plus, I have high ceilings, which I think it would really suit.) I have a few reservations--wouldn't it damage the lowest book?--but for a mere $14.50, I'm thinking I might test it out with a few of my old Laurell K. Hamilton titles.

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Monday, September 10, 2007


In 2001, journalist Andromeda Romano-Lax began researching a nonfiction account of the life of the Spanish cellist Pablo Casals. While Casals's history was fascinating, as Romano-Lax did further research she discovered that there was another story—actually, several other stories—she wanted to tell. Eventually, her Casals biography transformed into a novel: The Spanish Bow, an account of the life of a fictional cellist named Feliu Delargo.

Cello prodigy Feliu Delargo’s gift takes him from the small Catalan village of his early childhood to a life spent playing for the most famous politicians, artists, and musicians of early-twentieth-century Europe. Over the years, Feliu forms a rocky friendship with the brilliant, manipulative pianist Justo Al-Cerraz, and their relationship is further complicated when they meet Aviva Henze-Pergolesi, a young violinist with a tragic past. The trio’s fluctuating fortunes take them all over pre-World War II Europe, encountering historical figures ranging from Edward Eager to Hitler to the King and Queen of Spain.

Ambitious historical novels rarely make for easy reading, and large sections of The Spanish Bow are pretty grueling. Romano-Lax saves her novel by writing with a clear, journalistic style, exhibiting flashes of dry humor, and creating a small but crucial distance between her characters and her audience—Feliu, Al-Cerraz, and Aviva never quite gel as real people, but (considering their adventures) that's something of a relief. After all, plenty of people want to read about the history-shaping people, times, and places Ms. Romano-Lax features in The Spanish Bow, but fewer of us want to actually lose sleep over the fate of a trio of fictional musicians.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Angst-free, Part II

Karen Hawkins has written another story in her MacLean Family series--this one's called To Scotland, With Love, and it's about a thousand times better than her previous effort. Like How To Abduct a Highland Lord, To Scotland, With Love is light on the agonized dramatics (the hero and heroine are life-long friends), but unlike How To Abduct a Highland Lord, this book is smart enough to replace the missing angst with an alternate plot thread.

When Lord Gregor MacLean learns his childhood friend, Venetia Oglivie, has been abducted by a fortune hunter, he promptly goes in search of her. Venetia is the only sensible member of her family, but she has a soft spot for people in need, and he's (justifiably) worried that she'll be a little too understanding about her kidnapper's point of view. Unfortunately for Gregor, his family is under a curse: when they loose their tempers, the weather goes out of control--and when he discovers that Venetia isn't particularly grateful for his high-handed rescue, the entire group finds themselves stranded in a remote inn by a freak snowstorm.

It's tough to swallow that these characters have been completely unaware of one another's attractiveness for twenty-nine years, but the book is entertaining enough justify a little suspension of disbelief. To Scotland, With Love has all of How To Abduct a Highland Lord's strengths (likeable characters, a plausible friendship between hero and heroine) and none of its weaknesses--this time around, the conflict between Venetia's misguided but good-hearted attempts to help people and Gregor's selfish nature create enough drama to propel the plot. Ms. Hawkins is a fun writer, and this book is well worth your hard-earned $6.99.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


I've been wondering: how do Korean Internet novels work, exactly? I was totally unfamiliar with this term until a few years ago, but then I started watching K-dramas, and they're all about the internet novels. The heroine of Full House wrote internet novels, and Wikipedia tells me that My Name is Kim Sam Soon and The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (two of my favorites) were both based on internet novels. But what are they? Do people pay to read them by chapter? Can you buy print copies? Are any available in English?

My mind, it is inquiring. If you have any answers, please drop me a line.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lucky, lucky English people.

The Sadler's Wells Theatre in Islington is staging a ballet adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones's novel Black Maria*. Here's their official description:
Thirteen year old Mig’s family head to Cranbury-on-Sea to visit ancient Aunt Maria, but as life deteriorates into domestic chores and crushingly dull tea parties they begin to suspect things are not what they seem, and to realise that Aunt Maria is not to be crossed... Who is the mysterious ghost buried in the mound, why are there wolves in the local woods, and what is the secret of the magic green box? As Aunt Maria wields her powers Mig alone must save her family...

Choreographer Susie Crow and composer Tom Armstrong join with award winning film maker Zara Waldeback and visual effects wizard Georgie Pinn to present Black Maria, adapted from the novel by internationally acclaimed writer Diana Wynne Jones. Dance, music and film come together in powerful storytelling, brought to life by an exciting team of professional dancers. Funny, scary and moving, Black Maria offers ideal family entertainment for half term week." [Source]

Doesn't that sound awesome? (And, y'know, unfair. I already missed the Georgette Heyer play, and now this!)

*U.S. title: Aunt Maria


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Additional! imagines Harry Potter's future, and it's not a pretty sight.

At least the cover art is cool

Seeing Redd, the sequel to Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, is out in bookstores now. While I was impressed by Mr. Beddor's original concept for this series (it doesn't pay to get too picky about Alice in Wonderland re-tellings, because there aren't many of them), I was less enthusiastic about the finished product. As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, The Looking Glass Wars was okay, but it wasn't interesting enough to merit a hardcover re-release, soundtrack, and comic book spin-off.

However, publishers don't offer re-releases/comic books/soundtracks if there isn't money in it, which means that at least a few of our readers must be all a-flutter over the release of Seeing Redd. If you happen to be one of them, here's the official description:

Alyss of Wonderland's rule has only just begun and already those who prefer chaos to peace are threatening to destroy everything worth imagining. Trailed by newly appointed Royal Bodyguard Homburg Molly, Alyss is doing her best to keep pace with the non-stop demands of being Queen while attempting to evade Molly for a few private moments with Dodge. Alyss's life is already a challenging mix of duty, love and imagining when a series of phantom sightings set fire to an urban myth of her imperial viciousness's return and have everyone...Seeing Redd.

Ugh. Sounds like an unholy hybrid of Alice in Wonderland and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Looks kinda like an open grave, doesn't it?

Behold, it's Swedish artist Malin Lundmark’s "Library Bathtub":

I don't know about you guys, but I'm having some trouble picturing myself relaxing against that huge slab thing.


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