Remember that post about the death of costumed dramas on the BBC? Well, apparently the BBC didn't mean it, because it has been CONFIRMED that they will be producing a FOUR-HOUR-LONG adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, due on British TV screens this fall!
Now if they'd only do decent movie versions of Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey, I could cherry-pick my way to a complete set of high-quality Austen film adaptations!
Amanda Seyfried is going to star in an upcoming adaptation of Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance...
Jamie Bell will play the lead in Tintin and Daniel Craig will play Red Rackham...
...and they are NOT (near as I can tell) making a movie version of Douglas Copland's Girlfriend in a Coma. There is a movie coming out with the same name, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with either the book or the Smiths song.
And speaking of delicious Dracula-related stuff, what is this?
According to the product description:
The Black Doll, a little-known and never-produced screenplay by the very well-known and often-published artist and writer Edward Gorey (1925-2000), dishes up a rambunctious romp of a plot, featuring vile villains, wicked women, sinister socialites, and a horrified heroine. It's the stuff of many a silent melodrama, but imbued with classic Gorey convolutions. Written before 1973 and originally published with illustrations in Scenario magazine in 1998, The Black Doll has been missing from most Gorey libraries until now.
And Patricia Wrede has a new book coming out, too! It's called Thirteenth Child, and it looks awesome--it's supposed to be a re-imagining of the settling of the American West, but with magic and stuff. The book doesn't come out until April, but in the meanwhile we can feast our eyes on the cover:
Dan Simmons (who is God's gift to sci-fi/fantasy fans, seriously) is taking on Charles Dickens:
Here's the publisher's synopsis:
On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.
Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?
According to the Arts Beat blog at the Times, Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, the main trade magazine for the book industry, has been laid off, along with an additional 7% of the staff. The layoffs are being described as a "restructuring", but it's pretty clear that this is further evidence of the way the publishing industry is suffering in the current economy.
Depressing. We wish everyone affected by this shake-up the best of luck with their future endeavors....
According to an article in The Guardian, the BBC is sidelining its production of lavish costume dramas in favor of "a grittier look at the period and a new focus on other historical eras". (They titled the article "The Death of the Bonnet", which made me snicker.) Anyway, the BBC is replacing said costume dramas with more series like The 39 Steps, which aired in December, and the currently-airing The Diary of Anne Frank.
Ooooh, and later this year we'll get to see Desperate Romantics, a "colourful and rude gang drama" set among the "alleys, galleries and flesh houses" of 19th century London, based on a still-unpublished nonfiction title of the same name by Franny Moyle.
I'm hearing good things about An Education, one of the movies that premiered at Sundance. It's a coming-of-age story set in the 1960s, and it has quite the literary cred: it was based on a memoir by Lynn Barber, the screenplay was written by Wordcandy favorite Nick Hornby, and it stars Carey Mulligan, who had minor parts in the recent adaptations of both Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice.
A Japanese-speaking poster on the LiveJournal community The S Orchestra has posted a notice regarding Nodame Cantabile creator Tomoko Ninomiya's health: it appears she's been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, which explains why she's been slow to return to work.
I don't know anything about carpal tunnel, but it seemed weird that it would become an issue after Ms. Ninomiya has taken several months off from drawing, due to her maternity leave. However, I looked it up, and apparently carpal tunnel is frequently associated with pregnancy. Who knew?
I've finally gotten around to reading the first few volumes of Miyuki Kobayashi and Natsumi Ando's manga Kitchen Princess, winner of the Kodansha Manga Award for children's manga in 2006.
Kitchen Princess is the story of Najika Kazami, the orphaned daughter of two world-class pastry chefs. Najika has a nearly magical sense of taste and smell, and her culinary skills earn her a place at Seika Academy, an escalator school in Tokyo. While Najika's biggest dream is to follow in her parents' footsteps, she also hopes to find her "Flan Prince"--a boy who saved her from drowning when she was a child, and comforted her with a cup of flan and a spoon with the Seika Academy logo on it.
While a lot of Kitchen Princess feels familiar (there's a love triangle, and several pastry competition scenes), the author tosses in some serious curve balls, including a bulimia storyline and the death of a central character. The story's combination of shojo-style angst and shonen-style competition, combined with these unexpected plot twists, elevates Kitchen Princess from mediocrity--not that Najika isn't a likable enough figure in her own right, but I've read plenty of manga about a fish out of water with a remarkable gift.
Today's my birthday, and I feel like the universe is totally celebrating it. All kinds of Julia-approved stuff seems to be coming out this week--a brand-spanking-new president, confirmed(!!!) news of a Veronica Mars movie, new albums from A.C. Newman and Andrew Bird, the third volume of Black Jack, even another Underworld movie! It's like a perfect storm of my favorite stuff! And now this:
Yes, dear readers, what you see before you is the cover of a new monthly Japanese magazine of manga-style Harlequin romances. The first issue, released today, is 56 pages long, features four standalone stories, and looks hilariously, deliciously ridiculous.
Seriously, wouldn't you take it as a birthday present from Fate?
Publishers have plenty of (unsolicited, but cute!) advice for Barack Obama, too:
McSweeney's has published Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama. This title, which was recently featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is a collection of letters written by students at 826 nonprofit writing and tutoring centers from around the country. Their issues of concern include "the economy, education, war, global warming, race relations in America and immigration... snow cones, puppies, microwavable burritos, dinosaur projects, multiplication and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, reportedly haunting a White House bedroom".
Both of today's featured titles sound awesome--I only hope the Obamas have time to read 'em.
Check out Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady. This book of poetry, advice, and letters to the brand-spanking-new First Lady (compiled by two education specialists, Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram) was recently featured on NPR's All Things Considered.
Behold! A new (to me, at least) Edward Gorey-illustrated book: the cheerfully inappropriate-looking 1965 faux etiquette guide The Recently Deflowered Girl: The Right Thing To Say on Every Dubious Occasion:
The people at fashion house Nina Ricci are suing whoever's in charge of that Twilight-themed perfume, 'cause apparently the apple-shaped bottle is a total rip-off of one of their own designs--this one, in fact:
Award-winning cookbook writer Mark Bittman, author of the bestselling books How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, is going to be visiting Powell's Books in Portland tonight, chatting about his new release Food Matters, a book described as "a plan for responsible eating that's as good for the planet as it is for your weight and your health".
If any of our readers attend, could you please ask Mr. Bittman why they didn't feature any middle-aged ladies/hot young guy combos on that stupid show?
In an extremely classy move, Meg Cabot is celebrating the release of her last Princess Diaries book (Forever Princess) with an online benefit auction for the New York Library's Young Adult Programs. The auction lasts from January 1st to 31st and consists of numerous tiaras, designed by celebrities, designers, and authors--everybody from Julie Andrews to Marc Brown to Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. Behold a small sampling of the possibilities:
While a discouraging number of C-grade Gossip Girl rip-offs cross our desks here at Wordcandy HQ, once in a while we encounter a story about rich teenagers behaving badly that stands out from the pack.
Such was the case with Lauren Henderson’s Kiss Me Kill Me, a smart, entertaining mystery/Mean Girls hybrid featuring 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield, the newest student at an exclusive English boarding school. Unlike the rest of her peers, Scarlett isn’t freaking out over dating or clothes or college admissions. Instead, she’s desperately hoping no one will discover her darkest secret: that the last (and only) boy she kissed suffocated in her arms, the apparent victim of a freak allergy attack. Scarlett still doesn’t understand what happened, but she’s determined to find out.
As the first book in a series, Kiss Me Kill Me leaves a distressing number of loose ends at the end of the novel. This is usually the kind of thing that drives us nuts, but we actually discovered this series at the perfect time (for once). The sequel, entitled Kisses and Lies, is due out this week, and we’re happy to assure our readers that it ends things on a very satisfying note. We’ll be featuring our review of Kisses and Lies on the main site later in the week, so please swing over there to check it out when it’s posted!
We got an e-mail from Sourcebooks yesterday, letting us know the cover art for Georgette Heyer's The Unfinished Clue featured in our 2009 Preview is actually out of date. They've chosen new cover art, and while I liked the old cover quite a bit, I think this image is more eye-catching:
It doesn't have anything to do with the story, from what I remember, but it looks great! Seriously, I can't wait for these releases—The Unfinished Clue is due out on March 1st.
Stephen J. Cannell fans take note: in honor of Mr. Cannell's new book On the Grind, his website is running a contest with some truly excellent prizes, including a Garmin Nuvi 760 GPS, autographed copies of On The Grind, and a Sony Reader.
Bestselling YA author Sarah Mlynowski is kicking off the publicity for her latest book in the Magic in Manhattan series (the just-released Parties and Potions) with a virtual book party. The event will be held at There.com this evening, from seven to eight PM, Eastern Time. Fans who attend—visit? chat? whatever—will have a chance to win virtual gifts, display avatars and costumes, and chat with the author.
I really enjoyed Black Magic Woman, the first book in Justin Gustainis’s Morris and Chastain Investigations series. I liked his just-released sequel, Evil Ways, too... but with considerably more reservations.
After a brief (yet awesome!) opening sequence set during the looting of the Iraqi National Museum, Evil Ways returns to the primary characters of Black Magic Woman: supernatural investigator Quincey Morris, witch Libby Chastain, and FBI agent Dale Fenton. Morris, Chastain, and Fenton—along with Fenton’s new partner, Special Agent Colleen O’Donnell—are attempting to use their unique combination of skills to solve a series of gruesome murders. Their separate investigations lead them to an ailing billionaire, his mysterious and powerful employee, and a terrifying ritual planned for Walpurgis Night.
There is a lot of violence in this book—and not, unfortunately, the fun, gory, monster-bashing kind. Most of the brutality in Evil Ways is endured by the book’s female characters, and a disturbing amount of it is sexual in nature. This, combined with the book’s lopsided character development (we don’t discover much about Quincey, the ostensible main character, but we sure do learn a lot about the various female characters’ sexual pasts), made me feel like I simply wasn’t part of the novel's target demographic. It was an unwelcoming sensation, and one I hope the author adjusts in future books. Remember, girls like monster books, too, Mr. Gustainis! But, uh, maybe without stomach-churning scenes like the one you stuck in chapter 20...
...which isn't to say I'm giving up on this series. Gustainis’s writing is smart, fast-paced and incredibly readable, and the sneak peak included at the end of Evil Ways has already whet my appetite for his next installment (Sympathy For the Devil). However, I am hoping the next book features a more careful balance of male and female suffering, because I suspect the biggest thing I will take away from Evil Ways is the memory of the dread chapter 20—and while I’m sure that scene added something to this series’ overall storyline, I don’t think that was the impression the author was aiming for.
Last week we talked about our favorite book-related things of 2008; this week we’re listing the stuff we’re most looking forward to in 2009:
Georgette Heyer's mysteries: Starting in March, we’ll be getting beautiful new reprints of Heyer’s mystery novels, thanks to the fine people at Sourcebooks. In a perfect world, these re-releases would be followed up by the BBC announcing their plans to adapt Heyer's novels for television… but we’ll take what we can get.
The Where The Wild Things Are movie: We're still a little stunned this movie is even getting made, and we have no idea how we’ll feel about it once we’ve heard more about the plot, but it sure looks pretty.
Boys Before Flowers, the K-drama adaptation of Hana Yori Dango: We’re already two episodes in, and it’s just as ridiculous (and ridiculously fun) as we’d hoped!
The American release of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea: There’s no exact release date yet, but we can expect to see Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Hayao Miyazaki's lovely-looking adaptation of The Little Mermaid, before the year is out.
Nodame starting up again: We don’t begrudge Nodame Cantabile creator Tomoko Ninomiya her maternity leave, but we’re really looking forward to her returning to work. We’re just not built for such hardcore cliffhanger action.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer cartoon: This project has been dead in the water for years, but it’s been showing some faint signs of life recently. Will 2009 be the year the animated adventures of the BtVS crew finally appear on our TV sets?
Follow-up books: Suzanne Collins’s 12, Lisa McMann’s Fade, Kelley Armstrong’s The Awakening, David Anthony Durham’s The Other Lands, Rosemary Clement-Moore’s Highway To Hell... 2009 is giving us a bumper crop of hotly anticipated sequels.
The Eoin Colfer-penned addition to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series: Douglas Adams, alas, has left us—but we have a lot of faith in Mr. Colfer’s ability to write a great installment for this iconic series.
The Telegraph is reporting that the oil painting of Colin Firth-as-Mr. Darcy (the one Elizabeth stares up at in fourth episode of the 1995 miniseries's version of Pemberley) is going up for auction on January 21st, accompanied by a signed and dated letter by Firth. Proceeds will be split between Oxfam and the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group, and the painting is expected to raise between five and six thousand pounds.
Now, I'm all for Austen-inspired kitsch, but that painting is, like, four feet by three and a half. That's a lot of wall space to devote to a curiosity--even a Mr. Darcy-related curiosity.
I was reading a post on AustenBlog about an upcoming Marvel Illustrated adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (not sure how I feel about that), and decided to check out their current offerings, which include comic book adaptations of such classics as The Illiad, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Wizard of Oz.
Still far from convinced, but at least that Wizard of Oz artwork looks pretty great...
Apparently: Well, Disney seems confident enough in the appeal of Jules Verne's classic characters to fast-track the development of a new movie, despite these uncertain economic times. The studio has hired McG to direct a "family film" version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, and they're hoping to make the film this year.
Powell's Books is currently featuring the paperback book Sukie Iron-Ons in their New Favorites section, which means you can pick it up for 30% off of the cover price of $12.95. Sukie is a British design studio known for producing adorable silk-screened papers and textiles, and this book includes thirty sheets' worth of their vintage-style fabric iron-ons.
I asked, and whatever kind, generous, hardworking people are working on this series totally delivered! (I'd refer to the subbing group by name, but I'm not sure who they are yet.) The earliest fan-made subtitles for Boys Before Flowers are already available via sites like MySoju.
Enjoy, everybody! And, as always, please support this series by buying a licensed version if/when it becomes available in your area.
Dramabeans has posted her recaps of the first and second episodes of Boys Before Flowers (the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango), and her opinion seems generally positive--the show has its fair share of problems, but she still sounds pretty excited about it.
Myriad Pictures and comic book publisher Studio 407 are joining forces to produce a feature film version of the indie comic book miniseries The Night Projectionist. The story takes place on Halloween Eve in the town of Crosstown Falls, where a bunch of unlucky film-goers are enjoying an all-night Dracula-themed film festival. Unfortunately for them, the projectionist is (shocker!) a vampire, and he's planning on celebrating his holiday with a locked-down theater's worth of yummy human munchies....
I have no idea when the movie will be out (but smart money's on October 30th), but the first issue of "The Night Projectionist" miniseries will hit shelves in February, and you can view an 8-page-long preview here.
Admittedly, it says it's "a delicious lavender and freesia scented perfume", but I have my doubts. I'd find out, but it costs a whopping forty-eight dollars, which seems like a lot for a scent aimed at gullible thirteen-year-olds.
2008 was, in many ways, a serious bummer for the book world. A lot of industry jobs were lost, some great authors died, and the projections for 2009 are not encouraging. But some good stuff happened, too—stuff we've compiled in our annual list of our favorite book releases and literature-related events of 2008:
Great cookbooks: 2008 gave us some top-notch cookbooks, including The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper and The America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book.
Excellent anime adaptations: We loved the anime versions of Nodame Cantabile: Paris Hen, Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro, and the still-running Skip Beat!.
The ending of Tramps Like Us: The final volume of this outstanding josei manga gave readers exactly what they were hoping for: a dreamy, quirky, utterly romantic happily-ever-after.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: Joss Whedon has a bad habit of ending his series with a knife in his audience's back. (I've always wondered if he's a fan of tragic operas, which also rely heavily on the obvious-but-effective drama created by killing off their most vulnerable characters.) Still, about, oh, 35 minutes of the 43-minute-long Internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was awesome, and there's no denying that’s a pretty solid ratio.
Several awesome sequels: ...including Ysabeau S. Wilce's Flora's Dare and Catherine Jinks's Genius Squad, both of which managed to feel like complete stories, even as they built on earlier books and hinted at future installments.
The joys of 100% legal manhwa: Yen Press kicked into gear in 2008, making all of the Korean manhwa titles dropped by the now-defunct group ICE Kunion available again. It took the better part of three whole years, but I finally got my hands on the second volume of Park So-Hee's Goong!
Puffin Classics: In a year where very few things were both awesome and budget-friendly, the 2008 re-issues of the Puffin Classics paperback editions featured lovely cover art, introductions by big-name authors, and a dirt-cheap $4.99 cover price.
Sense and Sensibility: I was convinced this adaptation would suck (in my defense, ITV's 2007 adaptations of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park were very disheartening), but the BBC did an excellent job of adapting Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.
Exciting new series: ...including David Anthony Durham's Acacia, Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, and Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning. I have no idea how I'll feel about later installments in these series (I'm particularly worried about Collins's next installment—it's going to take me a very long time to forgive or forget that last Underland Chronicles book), but at least they kicked off with a bang.
A surfeit of Wordcandy-worthy nonfiction: We usually review novels, but 2008 saw the Wordcandy staff receiving more than our fair share of entertaining, thought-provoking nonfiction. Standouts included Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson's Where Does the Money Go? and Komomo and Naoyuki Ogino's A Geisha’s Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice. We doubt we would have encountered these titles in the normal course of bookstore-browsing, so we were grateful to the publishers and PR agents who sent them to us, and happy to have a chance to share them with our readers!