Today, dear readers, is a good day for this country. No matter who wins the next presidential election, we're going to be looking at something different than the traditional "two old white guys" power duo, and I'm pretty excited about the prospect. So excited, in fact, that I'm taking the rest of the day off to re-read the book that has always inspired in me a tremendous sense of patriotism:
You know, I want to like Gossip Girl, but whenever I've caught even a few minutes of it online or channel-flipping at my parents' house, the acting always looks really, really bad. I mean, the actors are super-pretty, but the lion's share of them range from "painfully awkward" to "just straight-up terrible".
Still, I do love me some guilty-pleasure TV, so I'm wondering: do you eventually get so caught up in the story that you don't notice the acting? Should I rent the DVD and give it a shot?
I'm nervous, though--I don't think I'll ever get caught up in any story sufficiently to ignore acting like this:
SPOILER WARNING: The video below contains scenes from Season 2 of Gossip Girl.
That dude (Lord Marcus?) has the funniest English accent I think I've ever heard.
We have the cover art and official synopsis of Holly Black's upcoming graphic novel Kin, the first book in her The Good Neighbors series:
"Rue Silver's mother has disappeared... and her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her. But it's not as straightforward as that. Because Rue is a faerie, like her mother was. And her father didn't kill her mother-instead, he broke a promise to Rue's faerie king grandfather, which caused Rue's mother to be flung back to the faerie world. Now Rue must go to save her-and must also defeat a dark faerie that threatens our very mortal world."
Awesome news, guys: formerly-defunct network The WB has revived itself as TheWB.com, and they're showing free, full episodes of Joss Whedon's Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The site's slower than molasses (at least on my computer), and you need Abobe Flash Player 9 to get any of the videos to work, but I'm still choosing to regard this announcement as a personal gift from the heavens.
P.S. They're also showing the entire first (and best) season of my beloved Veronica Mars. Not much of a Wordcandy connection to this series (although I'm told Rob Thomas did write a couple of YA books...), but I'm stoked nonetheless.
Yes, dear readers, Hollywood would like to make a movie (a romantic comedy, no less!) out of Mireille Guiliano's diet-advice hit French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret to Eating for Pleasure.
My mind boggles. I mean, what will this movie be about? Watching size-2 Hillary Swank drink a lot of water, go for long walks, and toss back chocolate, cheese, and wine... but in moderation? Because from what I hear, that's what Guiliano's advice boils down to: don't eat much, and excercise more.
Barnes and Noble currently has this 6-DVD set on sale for $35.99--not a bad price, considering the quality, entertainment value, and overwhelming wholesomeness of this collection, which includes readings of Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Chrysanthemum, Pete's a Pizza, and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day, as well as several minor works by the featured authors.
That long-awaited Hobbit adaptation starts looking up!
According to Variety, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens (the people who brought us the recent film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy) have officially signed on to collaborate on The Hobbit and its sequel, both of which will be directed by Guillermo del Toro. Production is tentatively set to begin in late 2009, with the film releases planned for 2011 and 2012.
I think this is great news--del Toro can be a tremendously entertaining director, but with Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens's involvement, he'll have to get over his distressing tendency to turn all of his films in loving tributes to his own previous work.
According to this article in the Daily Mail, broadcasters will be showing a brand-spanking-new adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles (you know, the book about the hard-working, pious girl who is raped by her employer and abandoned by her husband and eventually executed) as "as a tonic to the gloomy economic outlook".
Note to self: Never take a tonic for anything from a Daily Mail staff member.
Seriously, does Stephenson want his readers to die of old age before finishing this thing? This book is 928 pages long! There is absolutely no chance I'm going to be taking the time to look up any stupid made-up words. If I can't understand it from the context, I'm pretty sure I can live with not knowing.
I had no idea they were making a movie of this (and I see they've done a lovely job of translating Louise Rennison's excruciating sense of humor to the big screen), so this trailer came as an exciting Friday-morning surprise:
Remember my earlier post about fanfic authors gone mad? Well, that's how I feel about ITV's upcoming film Lost in Austen:
Yeah, the heroine looks cute, and if it was a book I wasn't so close to, I might not mind the concept. (Lost in Wuthering Heights would be great, actually. The modern-day heroine could just nip back in time and slap everybody around a little.) But... this? I feel funny about this.
GYAH! According to Meg Cabot's (usually totally awesome, but in this case quite depressing) blog, Kristen Bell, star of my beloved Veronica Mars, has agreed to play Lizzie Nichols, the main character in Cabot's profoundly silly Queen of Babble series!
Why, Kristen Bell? Haven't you read these books? Couldn't you star as one of Cabot's other heroines? (Seriously, they're all better than Lizzie Nichols.)
The literary powers-that-be have made one of those bizarre commercials for our current Featured Book, Lisa McMann's highly entertaining YA fantasy Wake. Behold:
I don't have a television, so I'm totally out of the loop on these mini-movies. When did this trend start? Do they actually air on TV? (Frankly, they don't look big-budget enough for TV, but maybe I'm wrong...)
Note: And in other Wake-related news, Ms. McMann very kindly sent us an e-mail, letting us know that the sequel (2009's Fade) will be a solid 40 pages longer than Wake, thereby eliminating my major objection to the book.
I'm hearing that the anime adaptation of the popular manga Gakuen Alice has been licensed here in the U.S. I enjoyed this half-cute, half-creepy 26-episode series about a spunky 10-year-old who follows her genius best friend to a school for children with bizarre gifts, and I'm sure the fine people at Right Stuf/Nozomi Entertainment will find it very profitable (even if that "Right Stuf" spelling does give me a headache).
Gakuen Alice will be released as a DVD box set with Japanese audio and English-language subtitles in 2009.
AnimeNewsNetwork.com is reporting that Nodame Cantabile (one of my favorite series) is going on hiatus until October, as series creator Tomoko Ninomiya is going on maternity leave. However, the fine people at the Nodame livejournal community The S Orchestra read the announcement a little differently: according to several posters, Ms. Ninomiya will be writing Nodame until the October issue, and then may take a break after that.
I'm hoping the livejournal camp is correct. Obviously, I want Ms. Ninomiya to have a safe, comfortable pregnancy and delivery... but that last chapter was a cruel, cruel cliffhanger, and I really don't want to wait until November to find out what happens next!
The heroine of Malena Lott’s novel Dating da Vinci is a 36-year-old linguist named Ramona Elise. The widowed mother of two young boys, Ramona is still mourning her husband, who died two years earlier. She can’t seem to get past her grief—until she meets Leonardo da Vinci, a gorgeous, 25-year-old Italian immigrant who joins her English class. Leonardo needs her help (language lessons, friendship, a place to stay), and their unexpected relationship allows Ramona to let go of some of her pain.
At first glance, Dating da Vinci looks like yet another story about an unhappy woman rediscovering happiness after an affair with a younger man (picture, if you will, a Texas-based hybrid of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Under the Tuscan Sun). Happily, Lott takes her story in several surprising directions: she throws some serious curveballs in her wise-in-the-ways-of-love Italian stereotype, and Ramona, in a refreshing plot twist, discovers that some of her carefully nursed unhappiness was the product of her own insecurities. We may have seen similar plot set-ups before, but that doesn’t detract from Dating da Vinci’s charm—it’s thoughtful, heartfelt, and undeniably engaging, and we look forward to seeing more of Ms. Lott’s work.
Note: Dating da Vinci will be released on November 01, 2008.
Alan Horn, the President and COO of Warner Bros. Pictures, announced yesterday that the company has pushed back the release date of the film adaptaion of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to July 17, 2009. (The original release date for the sixth installment of the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise November 2008.) According to Horn:
"[Like] every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers' strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films--changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. We agreed the best strategy was to move 'Half-Blood Prince' to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer."
Read: they'll make more money if it's the middle of summer, and their core audience is hot, bored, and torturing their parents.
Christopher from the blog comics212 has posted a discouraging response to a Publishers Weeklyinterview with Tokyopop marketing director Marco Pavia. Christopher seems unconvinced by Pavia's claims (that Tokyopop has not issued an official cancellation list, and that many of the titles rumored to be cancelled will be published eventually), and has made a list of every title originally scheduled as a Fall 2008 Tokyopop release that will not be released this fall, and and two--two!--#Korean-manhwa titles are on it: the first volume of Ciel and I Wish volume three.
This really brings up all of my mixed feelings about scanlation--I mean, I already knew that I Wish was on the chopping block, but the Ciel cancellation is news. #K-M is a responsible group, and we'd stop scanlating in a heartbeat if we knew a series was going to be made available by a real publisher. However, it's tough to hear that a series we've worked hard on, and introduced to many readers, is now stuck in publishing limbo....
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels is the fifth book in Jasper Fforde’s comedic fantasy series about the adventures of literary detective Thursday Next. As the story opens, Thursday is attempting to juggle her career as an Acme Carpets saleswoman and undercover SpecOps investigator, convince her teenage son Friday to take up his predestined role as head of the time-traveling ChronoGuard, and do a little black-market cheese trading on the side. Unfortunately, Thursday’s carefully-laid plans are failing on all fronts: Friday would rather sleep in than save the world, England’s Stupidity Surplus is reaching dangerously high levels, and somebody is remaking classic works of literature into brain-numbing reality TV—starting with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
If you like logical, structured novels with tidy resolutions and clearly delineated plots, this is not the book for you. The pleasures of the Thursday Next series come from Fforde’s deliciously goofy mash-up of cheap jokes (the man loves puns), time travel, alternate universes, and literary satire. Ordinarily, I would urge readers to read the previous books in a series before starting on the most recent one, that’s not the case here: very little of this series makes sense, but it’s all tremendous fun, so go ahead and read it in whatever order tickles your fancy.
Variety has an article up about a forthcoming TV pilot based on the John Updike novel The Witches of Eastwick. I already knew about the 1980s movie adaptation, but I didn't realize that this will be the third attempt to turn the book into a television show*. I'm not an Updike fan, so I've never read The Witches of Eastwick, but I'd bet a crisp $5 bill they went for the "Desperate Housewives... but evil!" sales pitch.
"Mr. Darcy just isn't Flip Allison's style. She prefers novels with hot sex on the bathroom sink to the mannerly, high-tension longing of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. That is, until she pays a visit to Madame K, who promises a therapeutic massage with an opportunity to "Imagine Yourself in Your Favorite Book." Somehow, on the way to a sizzling sink-top session with a Venetian Adonis, Flip lands right in the middle of Regency England -- and dangerously close to handsome Mr. Darcy. So close, in fact, that she discovers a side of him even Jane Austen couldn't have imagined.
Waking from her massage, Flip is on top of the world and ready for her upcoming book club -- that is, until she notices a new scene in which Darcy and spunky heroine Lizzy Bennet are arguing over...Flip Allison? Her rapturous liaison with Darcy has had disastrous consequences for Austen's characters -- not to mention millions of Pride and Prejudice fans! Flip has twenty-four hours to put the story back on course, and Magnus Knightley, a sexy but imperious scholar whose brooding good looks and infuriating arrogance are decidedly Darcy-like, is the only one who can help. The only problem is, Flip can't keep her hands off him, either...."
I'd think this was a joke ("When fanfic authors attack!"), but I saw it at the bookstore last night.
I was planning to write a review of the unabridged audiobook edition of Noel Streatfeild's novel Ballet Shoes this afternoon, but I see that there's actually even more Ballet Shoes-related news worth sharing, so I'll keep it short: the audiobook edition, which is read by actress Elizabeth Sastre, is really nicely done. I'd forgotten how appealing Ballet Shoes is. It's more sophisticated than The Boxcar Children, or even A Little Princess, but it offers similar charms: a tidy, streamlined storyline, and a strong emphasis on money-earning and self-sufficiency. Any kid who likes stories about children working and achieving some financial independence is sure to enjoy it--it doesn't even matter that British money makes absolutely no sense.
Anyway, if you're not into the audiobook thing, Screenvision is planning a limited-engagement showing of the recent TV adaptation of Ballet Shoes on August 26th. According to the list of selected theaters, those of us who live in the Northwest appear to be out of luck, but the rest of the country can buy their tickets now.
I finally got around to reading Eoin Colfer's latest Artemis Fowl book, Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox. It was just as solidly entertaining as the previous books in the series, but it ventures into some eyebrow-raising new territory...
Yes, dear readers, little Artemis is all grown up, and Colfer went ahead and tossed all those Holly/Artemis 'shippers a bone: there's kissing in this book! Frankly, I can't believe he went there--I mean, what about their differences? (Of age, height, species... and the list goes on.) Was the pressure to hook up his male/female leads just too great for Colfer to withstand? I can hardly wait for the next book to come out so I can find out.
P.S. And what happened to Artemis's fellow underage genius, Minerva Paradizo? Did they mention her and I missed it?
The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) has posted the second story from their collection of Annual General Meeting Publication fanfics, and it's an Emma story called "In Defense of Mrs. Elton", by Diana Birchall. I haven't read any of Ms. Birchall's published Austen continuations (she's written more than one, but I was not impressed by the plot summaries of Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma), but I do commend her for being the author of Mrs. Elton in America: The Compleat Mrs. Elton. Sure, the plot sounds ridiculous, and the cover art features a woman dressed in clothes that are about eighty years off, but I can't help but grin at the idea of Mrs. Elton in the Wild West.
I can't believe that I'm only NOW learning that there's going to be a sequel to the anime adaptation of Tomoko Ninomiya's Nodame Cantabile, covering her "Paris" story arc. I love this series (the live action was pretty good too, and God knows the actor who played Chiaki was super smokin' hot, but I generally prefer over-the-top characterization in anime form), so this is awesome news.
But if any of you are are Nodame newbies, here's a glimpse of one of my favorite scenes. The dialogue is in Japanese, but all you really need to know is that Nodame is the girl in the mongoose suit, and Chiaki is the stunned-looking guy in the audience. She's a gifted but very, very strange pianist, and he's an equally gifted but massively uptight conductor-in-training:
In an interesting advertising move, there was a six-page-long preview of Brad Meltzer's upcoming novel The Book of Lies in my Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight comic (issue #17). I'm not sure this combo was a dream fit, subject-wise, but it does reflect an exciting trend: advertisers are beginning to realize that comic book readers read other stuff than Star Wars adaptations*--and some of them might even be female.
*Admittedly, there was an add for Star Wars figurines on the back cover... but it's a start, okay?
I'm not a huge fan of David Leviathan's books--they're well-written, but his plot conclusions are weak--and Michael Cera always seems to be just playing himself. (Luckily, I quite like Michael Cera, so this isn't the turnoff it might be with another actor.) But, as movie romances go, this looks fairly non-cringe-inducing, so maybe I'll enjoy it....
I've spent most of today curled up with Amy Dacyczyn's The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle*. I was too young to be aware of Ms. Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette when it was first published in newsletter form (1990 to 1996), but a recent online rec introduced me to this compilation version: 900-odd pages' worth of money-saving tips from people who stretch a dollar 'til it screams for mercy. I haven't found all (or even half) of the tips useful, but reading about economy is the first step to actually practicing it, right**?
*And, yes, I checked it out from the library.
**Apart from my addiction(s) to junk food, comic books, and expensive cups of tea, I'm actually a big fan of the whole frugality movement.
(I can't believe this comic strip exists... and, having seen proof that it exists, I can't believe how depressing it is.)
In February of 2008, Dan Walsh started trotting out a unique webcomic--Garfield Minus Garfield, a reworking of Jim Davis's Garfield strips that systematically excises Garfield from the storyline. The resulting strips, featuring Jon Arbuckle, Odie, Nermal, etc., "create a new, even lonelier atmosphere for Jon Arbuckle... Jon’s observations seem to teeter between existential crisis and deep despair" (according to a hopefully tongue-in-cheek review in the New York Times).
Now, thanks to Davis's Paws, Inc. and Ballantine Books, readers will be able to enjoy Garfield Minus Garfield in full-color book format. The book will feature both the original and altered strips, as well as an introduction by Walsh, and will come out in October.
Viz Media has licensed Honey Hunt, the latest series from Miki Aihara, author of the enormously popular Hot Gimmick. The heroine of Honey Hunt is a quiet, shy teenager named Yura, whose mother is one of Japan’s best-known actresses, and whose father is an equally famous musician. Yura’s life falls apart when her parents split up (and neither parent wants to take responsibility for her), and she catches her beautiful, vain mother having sex with the young man next door—who happens to be Yura’s own first love. Determined to get revenge by destroying her mother’s idealized public image, Yura decides to become an actress herself... and (surprise!) her newfound career involves meeting lots of gorgeous young men.
Now, I'm not gonna lie—I own every volume of Hot Gimmick, but it's not something I'm proud of. Aihara has a knack for writing insanely readable, soap opera-y shojo, but her sexual politics are straight out of the worst series romance novels of the sixties. (In the ickiest moment of Hot Gimmick, the verbally abusive, manipulative "hero" slaps the infuriatingly passive heroine, Hatsumi, for perceived infidelity.) There hasn't been any physical abuse in the Honey Hunt chapters I've read thus far, but Yura does have a lot of Hatsumi's passivity, and that makes me nervous.
Actually, the only story of Aihara's that hasn't made me feel guilty for reading it was Tokyo Boys and Girls. It wasn't great, but bits of it were pretty funny, and I don't think there was any slapping. Unfortunately, the artwork is straight-up atrocious.
Sheila Weller's Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation is an unusual but highly satisfying end-of-summer read. The book is an ambitious attempt at a collective biography, focusing on King, Mitchell, and Simon's personal stories, as well as the generation of American women who came of age in the 1960s.
Despite surface similiarities of age, race, and gender, Weller's subjects are distinct: Carly Simon was born into New York high society, Carol King is a product of middle-class suburbia, and Joni Mitchell's grandparents were Canadian famers. Weller's writing style is uneven (she uses italics like they're going out of style, and nearly every source is described as one of the subjects' "best friends"), but she wrings every drop of soap-opera-worthy drama from these women's histories, exploring their family lives, romantic troubles, and professional highs and lows. The final result is juicy enough to read like a novel—a smarter, sexier, infinitely more entertaining version of Valley of the Dolls, featuring heroines with astounding talent—and yet analytical enough to take its place next to other well-written, solidly researched, nonfiction accounts of the sexual revolution.
The fine, fine people at Paramount have announced that they're making a video game version of Clueless, the greatest film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma ever made. (Actually, it might be the most creative film adaptation ever made of any of Austen's works, come to think of it.)
See, this is the kind of game I would totally line up for, but something tells me Target isn't going to stay open until midnight so I can buy my copy the split second it comes out.
Grimm, the latest literature-inspired release from video game creator American McGee, offers players a twisted take on on some of the western world's best-known fairytales, including Cinderella, Puss and Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood. Players can choose the "light" setting for their virtual world (think flowers and butterflies) or the "dark" setting (heavier on the morgues and vermin):
Looks fun, although even the darker version looks closer to a Powerpuff Girls episode than the original source material. The game is broken into 24 standalone 30-minute-long "episodes", each one focusing on a different story. New episodes will come out weekly.