Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Speaking of cover art...

When Meg and I ran across this in the bookstore the other day, our first thought was: "Is this, like, a joke romance novel*?" Because it really, seriously looks like one of those fake vintage photographs you take when you dress up and stand in front of a sepia-toned backdrop. Behold:

*Note: No, it's just self-published, near as we can tell.


Movin' on up

I'm usually not a fan of $14 paperback reprints (particularly when the original book cost far less), but I really like this cover:

Awesome, huh? I think I would have left off the lipstick mark (it's veering toward overkill, IMO), but otherwise I love it.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

And the price is so very, very right!

If you're a reader of fanfiction (fan-penned stories set in the worlds of various books/movies/TV shows/etc.), you might want to check out the Yuletide Treasure Fic Exchange, a massive fanfiction archive that features anonymous stories set in a variety of worlds. It's a great source for fanfiction from really obscure sources--there are 'fics for books ranging from Fanny Burney's Evelina to Kiyohiko Azuma's Yotsuba&!.

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Huh. It's a Jane Austen rip-off (of Emma, despite this book's title) for the 8-12 set:

I'm not sure how I feel about this. The plot description sounds cute, actually, but it does seem like a naked attempt to hook adult readers into buying the book for their daughters or nieces or whatever... and then just permanently "borrowing" it.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Looks like the dog version of Mr. Ed.

Dude, they're making a movie out of the Marmaduke comic strip. I'd embed a video, but frankly I'm not comfortable sharing that kind of thing with impressionable readers. If you're desperate to see it, click here.

Note: If they make a Ziggy movie, all of Hollywood has officially jumped the shark.

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Books as Art

So, not sure how I feel about this:

It's called Idiom, and it's an installation art piece by Slovak artist Matej Krén. It lives in the Prague Public Library.

Neat? Kinky? Pretentious? All three?

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Monday, December 21, 2009

RIP, Kirkus

Horn Book's Roger Sutton posted a nice preemptive obituary for Kirkus Reviews, the pre-publication book review magazine scheduled to close at the end of the year. Sutton acknowleges Kirkus's reputation for nastiness, but points out that was one of the main reasons the magazine was such fun to read.

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À la carte

If you're the kind of person who wants that Pictorial Webster's Dictionary solely because of all the pretty pictures, you now have the option of going straight for the pictures and skipping all those boring definitions. Behold, it's the "Pictorial Webster's Stamp Set: Flora and Fauna", yours for a mere $10.95:

I have no idea what you'd do with it, but there it is.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Behind (way behind) the times

In a little bit of magazine news, Salon.com's Broadsheet points out that Time magazine's annual "Person of the Year" coverstory hasn't featured a standalone female pick since 1986(!!!). They go on to suggest options ranging from Lady GaGa to Hillary Clinton, but I'm still reeling from the whole "1986" thing.

[Note: For serious, Time: you picked Ted Turner and Jeff Bezos. Why not J.K. Rowling?]

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*sigh* I am so tired of the lady-in-a-long-skirt-fights-evil trend, you guys:

I realize that the book industry is suffering, but taking every mildly successful book formula and copying it into the ground just makes things seem even sadder.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The gift that keeps on giving

It's Wordcandy Goddess Jane Austen's birthday today, dear readers! Let's celebrate with something appropriate, shall we?

Ah... soggy Colin Firth. It's better than cake!

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My wallet is crying already.

Man, I am going to waste so much money at the movie theater this spring, aren't I?

Here's the newest Alice in Wonderland trailer:

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greeks gone wild

But if you prefer your ancient mythology with more earnest expressions and even hokier CGI, Warner Bros. is releasing their remake of Clash of the Titans in March. It looks pretty bad, too... but you can totally expect me there on opening night:

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Percy Jackson's High School Musical

Well, they've released another Percy Jackson and the Olympians trailer:

*sigh* I laughed at the pen line, but otherwise it just looks so hokey. Also, I find myself totally distracted by that kid's emo take on Zac Efron's hair.

And I know I've already complained about this, but why are the actors so old? I seriously want to know (i.e., this isn't just my normal sulkiness over bad casting). Is it because they're combining the whole series into one movie? Because the characters are supposed to age from eleven to sixteen over the course of five books, and if they're making five movies... well, those actors will be thinking seriously about their retirement benefits by the time the series is over.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Well played, Mr. (and Mrs.) King.

In a classy move, Stephen King and wife Tabitha have apparently donated $13,000 (well, $12,999--they worried about the unlucky "13") to allow 150 soldiers from the Maine Army National Guard to travel home by bus from Camp Atterbury in Indiana to Maine for the holidays. The soldiers are due to ship out to Afghanistan in January, so I'm sure this trip home will really mean a lot to them.


Double ugh.

Man, not only are they making a movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it's going to star (and be produced by) Natalie Portman, an actress I have always found hugely overrated*. I don't think I would have seen this movie anyway, but this news officially kills any shot they had at weaseling $9 out of me.

*I don't think she's as irritating as, say, Scarlett Johansson... but when you've said that you've said everything.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Literary gifts for our fellow procrastinators...

It's that time of year again, dear readers: time for us to post our list of Wordcandy-approved holiday gifts! Most of these presents are inexpensive, available online, and (should y'all get your acts in gear) should be deliverable well before December 25th:

1. Sherlock Holmes tickets

I read somewhere that studios are all excited about this movie because it's likely to appeal to all four primary demographics (men over 25, men under 25, women over 25, and women under 25). Give a movie gift certificate, wipe the sweat from your brow, and done.

2. Yotsuba&!

It's been a while, but we're fairly confident that this superb, all-ages-friendly manga is safely back in print. Yotsuba&! is modern equivalent to Calvin and Hobbes, so buy this series for anyone who appreciates awesomeness.

3. Charley Harper coloring book

Well, *I* totally covet this. If you give it to an adult, you might want to include a box of crayons.

4. D-I-Y book clocks

Feeling crafty? (Naturally, we only recommend doing this to books we dislike.)

5. The Bloom County Complete Library: Vol 1

Another item that would have featured heavily on my personal letter to Santa, had I sent one.

6. Baking Bites cookbook

Buy this excellent cookbook through the Baking Bites website for a slightly better price.

7. Cloth-bound Penguin classics

Anthropologie has been selling these elegant editions of assorted classic novels for $20 apiece, making them a good choice for someone who goes for that whole "serious library" look.

8. Pictorial Webster's Dictionary

This glorious picture-dictionary-for-adults features over 1,500 engravings originally found in 19th century editions of Webster's dictionaries.

9. Kindle covers

At $42 apiece, these Kindle Covers are the most expensive items we're featuring this year, but they'd make an awesome gift for any hardcore techies on your list.

10. Book Re-Marks

These bookmarks/8-page mini-notebooks cute, perfect for book-club people, and a mere $2.50. (They'd make great stocking stuffers, too.)

[Links to previous years' lists can be found here and here.]

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday cheer on tap

The fine people at Bookreporter.com have kicked off their second annual "Author Holiday Blogs" feature--a collection of holiday-themed posts by authors ranging from Stephen Coonts to Barbara Delinsky to Lisa Scottoline. They'll be updating this feature through Christmas Day, so check it out if you're in the market for some literary holiday inspiration!

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"Best of" goes graphic

Amazon's posted their nominees for the Best Book Covers of 2009, and while I've got to give a shout-out to Cynthia Rylant's All in a Day, which features lovely artwork by Nikki McClure (one of my neighbors), my heart was won by this sucker:

That could be 'cause of the title, though.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Inappropriate in so many ways...

Little known fact: the story of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, that creepy bit in Fantasia with Mickey Mouse battling the brooms (which terrified me as a child, BTW), is actually based on a poem by Goethe. Yep, the dude responsible for The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel rumored to have inspired more suicides than any other.

So, naturally, Disney has decided to make it into a Nicolas Cage movie:

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Critics at work

Now that December's here, we're beginning to see all the "Best of 2009" lists roll in. Normally I end up sneering at these (hi, Salon!), but there are a couple from sources I trust. I was pretty stoked to see NPR's list of the Best Young Adult Fiction of 2009—naturally, I haven't read any of their selections (I almost never have), but they've picked some fun-looking titles. This doesn't mean that I'm sold on these books as being the best of the year, but I am willing to check 'em out the next time I'm at the bookstore.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Out at Night, by Susan Arnout Smith

Susan Arnout Smith's Out at Night, the second novel to feature San Diego crime-scene tech Grace Descanso, opens with a bit of stomach-churning violence: a middle-aged college professor crawls through a California soy field, desperately trying (and failing) to avoid being shot by a crossbow. When the police discover his murder, they learn that he spent his dying moments leaving the message "Find Grace Descanso" on his answering machine—which means that the Florida vacation Grace and her young daughter are enjoying is over. Grace is recalled to California, where she finds herself neck-deep in a FBI terrorist investigation centering around an agricultural convention.

This dense, atmospheric novel has a lot going for it, including a flawed-but-interesting heroine and a multi-layered plot. Actually, Out at Night has a little too much going for it: several of the zillion or so plot threads get lost in the crowd, and the Big Reveal comes so late in the novel that it falls flat. Smith probably should have held off on a few of Grace's personal issues, seeing as she's carrying around more angst than your average soap opera heroine (she's a recovering alcoholic from a troubled childhood, she spent five years hiding her daughter's existence from the kid's dad, her own father may have faked his death, etc.). These dramas were reasonably interesting, but they definitely strained credulity.

On the other hand, I'd rather an author show an overabundance of imagination than the alternative, so I found myself enjoying Smith's excesses. (Genetically modified foods? Racial DNA profiling? Female fertility scandals? Bring 'em on!) Out at Night might have been improved by a little pruning, but it proves that Smith is a mystery/suspense talent to watch.


Speculation abounds

Katherine White, of the Addison's Disease Self-Help Group, has published an article in the British Medical Journal's Medical Humanities magazine that questions the commonly held belief that Jane Austen died of Addison's, suggesting instead that the author died of "bovine tuberculosis"--a disease once common and probably contracted from drinking unpasteurised milk.

The Times and the Guardian seem to have bought this story; AustenBlog begs leave to doubt.

Note: The Times article failed to impress me with the following lines:
"Ill health and hypochondria were already important themes in her novels, most famously in Pride and Prejudice, where Jane Bennet’s mother makes her daughter ride to Netherfield Hall in the rain for dinner with Mr Bingley. She is subsequently struck down with a life-endangering fever, thus prolonging her stay."
Um. No. There is a fever, but it's far from "life-endangering". (Maybe they're thinking of Sense and Sensibility?) Either way, I wouldn't call Jane's illness "an important theme" in P&P--more a handy plot device.

Also, they spelled the title of the attached image as "Austin", which leads me to wonder WHO EDITS THIS CRAP.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Harsh, man.

A 22-year-old Chicago woman has spent two nights in jail and now faces up to three years in prison after taping less than four minutes of New Moon. The young woman was visiting a Rosemont movie theater to celebrate her sister's birthday, and claims that she was merely taking pictures and short videos of her fellow party-goers (an account backed up by the contents of her camera, by the way). Nonetheless, the theater managers insisted on pressing charges, and the woman has been slapped with a rarely-invoked felony charge designed to prevent audience members from recording new-release movies in order to sell bootleg copies.

Let this be a lesson to you, dear readers: if you absolutely must go see New Moon, make sure there's no photographic evidence of your lapse in taste and judgement.


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Bigger and better things?

Ooooooh... the teaser trailer for the seventh Harry Potter movie is out! I can't find a decent video to embed, but you can watch it here.

I just realized, though: if they're going to call this sucker Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, they're going to need a bigger marquee.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

I have limited wall space, but...

I love Jen Bekman's 20X200. This budget-friendly site sells 8x10 inch limited-edition prints for twenty bucks apiece, and recently added a couple of bibliophile-friendly pieces by artist Jane Mount. Behold:

Those are even good book picks! What more could you ask for?


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Signs of life

And speaking of reprints, I see they're finally reproduced something of Stella Gibbons' other than my beloved Cold Comfort Farm! Thanks to the fine people at Virago Press, the first edition of Nightingale Wood since the '70s comes out in April.

Note: Don't get your hopes up, Cold Comfort fans. Thanks to the generosity of my friend Keith (who lent me his library card with no thought of self), I've had a chance to read Nightingale Wood, and, while amusing, Cold Comfort Farm II: The Equally Awesome Return it isn't.

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Rick Riordan speaks!

Publishers Weekly recently interviewed Rick Riordan about his upcoming book The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid, the first story in a middle-grade fantasy series about two siblings—the descendants of Egyptian magicians—who battle a group of ancient gods suddenly released into the present.

I'm sorry, but this plot description sounds like Riordan simply fused elements of his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series with bits of The 39 Clues (a series that he both outlined and contributed the first book to) and called it a day. Normally, I'd take issue with the idea of a new series that has so many similarities to his previous ones... but I can't help myself: I like both of his earlier storylines so much that I'm looking forward to this book like Christmas morning.

Note: There's a link in the article that confirms Mr. Riordan is planning a sequel to the Percy Jackson books, for those of you who've been fretting over that.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

At even longer last...

After weeks of procrastination, I spent yesterday afternoon updating our Upcoming Books page. It took forever (*sobs*), but I consider myself richly rewarded by the news that the publishing gods have finally answered one of my prayers: they're reprinting L.J. Smith's Night of the Solstice and Heart of Valor! Behold:

They look good, right? Of course, I'm still waiting on Buffalo Brenda, but I'll take what I can get.

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Jumping the gun

Warner Bros. has acquired the movie rights to Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's young adult novel Beautiful Creatures (the first book in a projected five-book-long series), despite the fact that it just came out yesterday.

Worried about letting the next Twilight slip through your fingers, guys?

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

At long last...

Megan Whalen Turner has finally announced another book. It's been three and a half years since the superb The King of Attolia came out (and I thought the series was over, frankly), so this news is both welcome and unexpected. A Conspiracy of Kings is due out in March of next year, and we here at Wordcandy can hardly wait!

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In fact? Ewwwwwwww.

According to the AP Wire, Jonathan Littell's book The Kindly Ones (a prize-winning, best-selling, 900-page-long "epic" narrated by a fictional Nazi officer and originally published in French) has won Britain's Bad Sex in Fiction Prize. The offending passage describes a sex act—brace yourselves, guys—as "a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg".

D'you suppose it sounds better in French? I mean... how could it?

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