Gyah. I've watched and enjoyed a lot of shojo-manga-based anime in the past two years, but very few series have done an even halfway-decent job of replicating their source material. (For every series like Ouran High School Host Club, Nodame Cantabile or Gakuen Alice, which did a nice job with pacing, artwork, and soundtrack, there's a Special A or The Wallflower, both of which, while entertaining, were extremely poorly made.
I'd like to think that the upcoming Skip Beat anime will fall into the first category, but the quality of the artwork in this trailer has me worried:
Hex Appeal, the second book in Linda Wisdom’s new paranormal series featuring witch Jazz Tremaine, is coming out in a few weeks, and Ms. Wisdom and Sourcebooks are celebrating its release in an exciting and creative way:
Give us your best HEX!
A Fan Fiction Contest with Linda Wisdom
Ever wondered why Jazz and Nick argue so much? Have you imagined a hilarious scenario with Irma? And I’m sure you’ve thought up a ton of escapades with Fluff and Puff! Why not write your very own Hex Fan Fiction piece?
Linda Wisdom and Sourcebooks Casablanca are pleased to present an exciting contest—Tell us your own short story starring the characters from 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and the October 1 release, Hex Appeal!
Rules (follow them or we might kick you out of the Witches Academy!)
1. Choose any character you like and give them an original story!
2. 1500 words maximum, sent in a Word Document or in the body of the email
Erotica is ok, but nothing too scary (no bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia; no slander of public people; no black magic; no Wiccan or black magic spells, cursing in the regular sense is okay—we just want to have as much fun as possible!).
3. Send your story to Linda’s publicist, Danielle Jackson, at danielle[dot]jackson[at]sourcebooks[dot]com, no later than 5:00pm CST on October 25, 2008. (All stories submitted will become the property of Sourcebooks, Inc. to avoid copyright complications. Please email Danielle with any questions about this.)
4. The winner, chosen by Linda, will be announced on her Myspace page the morning of Halloween!
So what do you get if you win? 2 runners up with received autographed copies of the first two books in the series, 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and Hex Appeal.
The Grand Prize Winner will also receive the autographed copies, AND the winner’s name will be used as a character in the fourth book in Linda’s Hexy series, out in October 2009!
Awesome idea, huh? Would that more authors (read: Laurell K. Hamilton) learned to appreciate that fanfiction is truly the sincerest form of flattery.
Marlene Perez’s Dead is the New Black is a supernatural mystery/romance aimed at reluctant teen readers*. Her protagonist is Daisy Giordano, the youngest daughter of one of the strangest families in the small town of Nightshade, CA—Daisy’s mother is psychic, her oldest sister can read minds, and her middle sister is telekinetic. Daisy is perfectly normal, but she’s not about to let her lack of superpowers stop her from investigating a series of attacks on local high school girls. Her search may be risky, but it has some unexpected benefits, too: loads of one-on-one time with Ryan Mendez, Daisy's supernova-hot best friend, and an unexpected overture of friendship from the school’s beautiful cheerleading captain... who has inexplicably abandoned her former style for ankhs, all-black ensembles, and a coffin on wheels.
Sadly, the supernatural aspects of Perez’s plot are confusing, and her pacing is downright bizarre. The story’s incoherent mythology is irritating (for example, a character dies, and then comes back to life at the end of the novel—offstage, and without explanation), but I had much bigger problems with lines like this one, which “explains” Daisy’s decision not to share an important clue with Ryan:
“With all the excitement, I hadn’t had any time alone with Ryan to tell him what I had found out about the identity of the dead girl, and the weekend ended without a call from him.”
We’re talking about Daisy witnessing an undead cheerleader doing back flips during a Friday-morning pep rally, so putting off this fact-sharing mission until Monday afternoon seems, uh, insane. (Also, why couldn’t she call him? What is this, 1952?) This book isn’t meant to be taken seriously—but parody is so much funnier when it actually makes sense.
To do it justice, much of Dead is the New Black is tremendous fun. Daisy is a likeable heroine, the romantic aspects of the story are sure to appeal to young readers, and the plot mashes together every Goth cliché in the teen-lit canon: outcasts, cheerleaders, zombies, romance, superpowers, the prom, etc. It doesn’t bear up to close inspection, but if you turn off the critical thinking part of your brain, Perez's novel is a quick, quirky, quip-filled good time.
...Will Smith has signed on to star in a prequel to the blockbuster I Am Legend (which was based on a novel by acclaimed horror/sci-fi writer Richard Matheson). According to Variety, the film will "chronicle the final days of humanity in New York before a man-made virus caused a plague that left Smith’s character the lone survivor among a mutated mob in the city."
Rumors are afloat that Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will join the cast of Steven Spielberg's adaptations of Hergé's The Adventures of TinTin, thereby increasing the project's coolness factor exponentially.
So much more entertaining than the books themselves...
I was thinking of doing a blog post on Twilight-inspired Halloween costumes (and trust me: there's plenty of material out there), but I found myself distracted by the impressive number of awesome Twilight-themed goods available on the 'net:
Seriously—how can such talented and creative people like such a boring series? Where are the crazy t-shirts for Vivian Vande Velde or L.J. Smith?
According to Publishers Weekly, Brisingr, the third volume in Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance Cycle", sold 550,000 copies on its first day. The sales numbers broke records for Random House Children's Books, and more than 2,500 bookstores held midnight release parties for Brisingr on September 20th.
I noticed my local grocery store—obviously unaware that this book was supposed to be a Very Big Deal—had their copies out on the shelf by Friday evening. (They did the same thing with Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn a few weeks ago.) Clearly, if you just can't wait another second to read a best-selling kid novel, check out the book section of your local supermarket. If the book isn't Harry Potter famous, chances are good they'll take the publisher's release date as a suggestion, rather than a hard-and-fast rule, and you might be able to get your greedy little hands on it a few hours early.
According to an article in The New York Times, children's publisher Scholastic Inc. has decided to stop offering chapter books and spinoff products based on the "Bratz" product line at its popular elementary-school book fairs. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, said that Scholastic’s move is the result of their 18-month-long fight to remove titles like “Lil’ Bratz: Catwalk Cuties” from the book club fliers that go home with students and are distributed at book fairs.
I try not to get too worked up over kids' toys, but those Bratz dolls are pretty crazy: I'm totally confused by the combination of that outfit, the mouse, and the USB key necklace. Is that the doll's Internet-surfing outfit? Is it indicative of what girls are *supposed* to be wearing while they work on the computer? Because if so, I am seriously under-dressed.
Boston Globe critic Joanna Weiss posted an article yesterday about the trend towards kinder, gentler fairytales for children, and suggests that important messages are being lost in the translation. As an example, she describes the book that accompanied her 3-year-old daughter's plastic Rapunzel playset:
"[The] tale of a charmed girl named Rapunzel, who spent her days in the tower sewing dresses with a friend. She loved when the witch came to visit and teach songs, including one that made Rapunzel's hair grow longer. But tension arrived: One day, Rapunzel looked out the window and saw a fair in the village nearby. She wanted to go, but the witch was off tending to her garden and couldn't let her out. Fortunately, a prince riding by in his carriage called up to her, "Rapunzel! Why aren't you at the fair?"
I've always loved gory fairytales*, but I would have chosen something other than Rapunzel for this particular article. I mean, what "message" are we losing with a whitewashed Rapunzel--don't get captured as a baby by a wicked witch, because she'll be mean to your future boyfriends? Little Red Riding Hood, now--that had a nice, clear point to it (Be careful in the woods or you're gonna get eaten, kid!) that could easily be wiped out by over-zealous editing.
*In the version I read as a kid, Rapunzel ends up knocked up with twins, and the prince is blinded by thorns when he falls from her tower.
The world is a more glorious place this morning, dear readers, due to Wednesday's announcement that Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer has been given the opportunity to write a sixth book in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy".
Seriously, words cannot express the awesomeness of this news.
The book will feature an original, 100% Colfer-created plot, using Adams's characters*. Colfer will not be writing this book "as Adams" (unlike Sebastian Faulks, who recently wrote a James Bond novel "as Ian Fleming"). The project has been sanctioned by Adams's widow, Jane Belson, and will come out in October of 2009.
AnimeNewsNetwork has an interesting article up about The Masque of the Black Death, the last script co-written by legendary director Akira Kurosawa before his death in 1998. The script is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's 1842 short story about a prince's attempt to escape the plague while holding a masquerade, and will made into an animated film with a planned theatrical release date of 2010.
Note: Doesn't the Gris Grimly book (right) look awesome? What a great fit of author and illustrator.
If you're going to be in New York next week, consider checking out Scholastic's all-day read-a-thon of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on September 23rd. The event is being held in honor of the upcoming 10th anniversary edition of the first HP book, and will take place at Scholastic's headquarters in NYC. Things kick off at 8AM, and are expected to conclude around 7 in the evening. Scholastic's even rounded up some celebrity (well, celebrity-ish) readers, but the bulk of the book will be read by ordinary people.
The readings will happen on a first come, first serve basis, and readers will read perched on the very same throne-like chair that J.K. Rowling sat in when she was at Carnegie Hall. The first 100 readers will get a free copy of the special anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and everyone who participates will get a commemorative souvenir.
Note: Bring a parent if you're under 18—you won't be allowed to read without their permission.
Forget all that dire news from the financial markets. The news that Miley Cyrus is going to be starring in one of Nicholas Sparks's shamelessly manipulative tearjerkers? Yeah, now that's clear proof that the end is nigh.
I'd like to think this news is a joke, but it's the headlining article on Variety right now: Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell has inked a deal to write two new Carrie Bradshaw novels aimed at young adults. The books will be set during Carrie’s high school years and will be published beginning in fall 2010 by HarperCollins Children’s Bray and Bray imprint.
You know what this tells me? That SaTC has a fan base among kids young enough to be reading high-school-age books two years from now, which... wow.
Man, September 30th is going to be an v. expensive day. In addition to must-buy books (for me, anyway) by Lisa Kleypas and Tomoko Hayakawa, perennial Wordcandy favorite Susan Juby has a new book coming out, and it's apparently a detective story. According to the publisher's description, Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery is "[part] comedy, part mystery, and with all of Juby's trademark tongue-in-cheek humor".
Much like the vampires she writes about, Meyer's series just won't die.
Twelve chapters of Stephenie Meyer’s WIP Midnight Sun (a re-telling of Bella and Edward's story from Edward’s POV) were apparently leaked onto the Internet, and Meyer has chosen to post the draft on her website in response, rather than asking her fans to ignore the illegal version. She also announced that the project was on hold indefinitely.
There has been speculation that this event was faked in order to build buzz for the movie, and/or distract the press from talking about the many negative reactions to the final book in the series. I don't buy either one of these theories, frankly. I'd like to, but I'm dismally certain that everyone involved with this movie will laughing all the way to the bank.
Sooner or later they will run out of American book series featuring semi-exotic locales full of filthy-rich PYTs, won't they? We're not going to be forced to watch a show about the crazy antics of wealthy kids in Dayton, OH, right?
In the meanwhile, we can enjoy (or not) the CW’s new show Privileged, based on Zoe Dean’s novel How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls:
The preview is awfully long and clunky, but maybe the show is better. Plus, it airs on Tuesdays at nine (the sacred Buffy timeslot!), and that has to be a good sign, doesn't it?
Well-written but fundamentally bleak, Dirk Wittenborn’s Pharmakon traces the downfall of a unique American family. As the novel opens in the early 1950s, Dr. Will Friedrich, a Yale psychopharmacologist, teams up with another psychiatrist to study a mood-enhancing drug used by a tribe of New Guinea cannibals. When they test the drug on a suicidal freshman, the young man’s depressive tendencies turn violent, altering Will’s life forever.
The excellence of the first several chapters of Pharmakon got my hopes up, but Wittenborn’s obvious ambition to write the Great American Novel eventually gets the better of him. While the opening half of Pharmakon is tremendously absorbing, the story loses much of its momentum in the second section, which lurches through several decades in the lives of Will’s children. The intensity and focus that made the grim subject matter of the earlier part of the novel bearable is lost, and Wittenborn’s once-haunting story crumbles into a sprawling, depressing, and ultimately forgettable family saga.
Have any of you read Abigail Reynolds's Pride and Prejudice "variations"? She appears to have written several, each one featuring an alternate ending for the novel. Her previous stories are available as Sourcebooks e-books, but her most recent effort--Impulse and Initiative: What if Mr. Darcy Didn't Take No for an Answer?--is coming out as a trade paperback.
I have no idea if this will work (and I'm not thrilled about that subtitle, as it makes Mr. Darcy sound like a creep), but I have to give Ms. Reynolds props for her bravery: the world is full to overflowing with Austen-inspired continuations, prequels, and fresh-point-of-view retellings, but very few people have the guts to screw around with her actual plot structures.
Note: I hope the ampersand in the title is darker on the actual bookcover. When I first saw it, I thought the title was "IMPULSE INITIATIVE", which I found off-putting--it makes it sound like an x-rated sci-fi novel, and I'm assuming that wasn't what the author was going for.
Just in case The Hills star Lauren Conrad wasn't overexposed enough already, now she's adding "young adult novelist" to her résumé... and something tells me her books will be just as original and exciting as her line of clothing.
Conrad has signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins to write a series about an average teen who becomes a reality star—a series which, according to E!Online, could potentially be developed as a film or TV project.
According to the ever-delightful Dramabeans, the production for the Korean drama version of Kamio Yoko's manga Boys Over Flowers has been delayed due to "casting and organization" issues, and won't air until sometime next spring.
This news is a bummer (and makes me a little dubious about the chances of series being released at all, frankly--delays are rarely a good sign), but I was cheered up by another post announcing that Yoon Eun-hye and Joo Ji-hoon, stars of the massively popular drama Goong, might be teaming up for another project*.
As regular readers of Wordcandy may have noticed, we took a break from blogging last week. This was due to the unexpected death of Wordcandy staff member Megan’s dad, Dr. Henry Drygas. We’ll go back to our normal posting schedule tomorrow, but first I wanted to write something about Dr. Drygas, who was a great guy—and a huge fan of genre fiction.
Meg and I have been friends since kindergarten, so I knew her dad for a very long time. Dr. Drygas was a man who took his hobbies seriously, devoting vast amounts of time, energy, and money to whatever his ruling interest was at the time. Over the years, his attention shifted from camping to fly-fishing to hybrid cars, but his love for sci-fi/fantasy books was constant. He had an entire shed devoted to his book collection, and could always be counted on for an enthusiastic story recommendation when I was feeling uninspired. We didn’t always see eye to eye on questions of literary merit, but it was pretty cool, growing up, to know an adult who was just as likely as I was to get mega-excited over a new release from David Eddings.
The last time I spoke with Dr. Drygas was two weeks ago. I’d called their house looking for Megan, and he answered, so I told him about the upcoming film adaptation of Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World. (Dr. Drygas was still mourning the fact that Jordan had died without finishing the twelfth and final book in his Wheel of Time series. No mere co-writer, he felt, could do Jordan justice.) This news led to another installment of our ongoing debate about the entertainment value of Tolkien, and then we spent an enjoyable few minutes making fun of Eragon. It was a fun—and insanely geeky—conversation, and I’m really, really sorry it was our last.
So... ‘bye, Dr. Drygas. I’ll miss you. I’m glad you were around for that final Harry Potter book (although I wish it had been more worthy of sticking around for). I’m sorry you won’t see Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of The Hobbit, and that I never had a chance to ask you about the James Blish references in Diana Wynne Jones’s A Sudden Wild Magic. And I really hope that you’ve found Robert Jordan, and gotten all the details of that last book straight from the horse’s mouth.
Has anybody else been following Claudia Dávila's Luz: Girl of the Knowing? It's a weekly webcomic about a 12-year-old city girl, Luz, who's looking for information about sustainable survival for humans (specifically humans in urban centers) in a post-petroleum age:
I really like the way this series portrays a world without abundant oil as a tough but salvageable place. Luz's life is a less convenient than our own, but it isn't some kind of zombie paradise. There are blackouts and prices are high, but Luz and her friends are getting by just fine--which means that young readers can read, enjoy, and learn from the series without any over-anxious parents worrying about post-apocalypse-inspired nightmares.