Thursday, March 31, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones: 1924 to 2011

I was deeply saddened to learn that Diana Wynne Jones, author of the Chrestomanci books, Howl's Moving Castle, and about a thousand other insanely awesome and profoundly weird children's and YA fantasy novels, died on March 26th. My deepest sympathy goes out to her family, as well as sincere gratitude for the books she shared with the world. They made my childhood (and, indeed, my adulthood) considerably more fun.

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A thorough knowledge of drawing

AustenBlog is giving their readers a heads-up about another Jane Austen-related contest: there's going to be an art competition focused on Stoneleigh Abbey, an English estate that belonged to Austen's relatives for four hundred years and *may* have inspired elements of Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. Aspiring artists have been asked to draw or paint either the house's west wing or its 14th century gatehouse, with the winners' work ending up on a line of postcards to be sold at the house. The contest is free, it closes September 29th, and the winners will be announced on October 10th.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Next up: Hercule Poirot, pre-mustache?

According to Deadline, Disney is planning a new film version of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. This (possibly modern-day?) update would star Jennifer Garner, so they're obviously going for a younger, slinkier version of the character. I'm not quite sure why this reboot is necessary (or which demographic they're aiming for), but no doubt they have their reasons...

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sailor Moon returns!

On March 18th, Kodansha Comics sent out an e-mail announcing the return of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon manga, which originated in Japan in 1992 and became the first successful shôjo manga in the United States. In addition to printing "deluxe" new editions of the series, Kodansha is offering the first American print run of Takeuchi’s two-volume prequel Codename: Sailor V.

I've only seen the (cute, but forgettable) Sailor Moon anime, but this enthusiastic tribute from the blog Adventures of Comic Book Girl has me all excited to pick up the books this fall.

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Getting my hopes up

I was all excited when I ran across this book in the clearance section of Barnes and Noble:

I'm not a big fan of Charity Girl, but I like Lady of Quality, and the cover design is pretty. Plus, the book is in hardcover, something Heyer's various publishers haven't offered since, like, the 1970s. I've been buying the lovely Sourcebooks editions of Heyer's books, but I wouldn't mind picking up a couple of these hardcover editions, too, particularly if the two-books-in-one combo was a pair I loved (the more Heyer the merrier, as far as I'm concerned).

Sadly, when I got home I discovered that this seems to be the only Heyer book Sterling Publishing is offering, and I'm betting it was published specifically for Barnes and Noble's sale section. So if you'd like to own (non-large-print) hardcover editions of Georgette Heyer's books, hitting eBay for the E.P. Dutton versions is still probably your best bet.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Jessica and Elizabeth ride again

This in-depth look at Francine Pascal and her Sweet Valley High books is a fascinating read. (No joke.) My parents never let me read the Sweet Valley books when I was in middle school, and I have little interest in reading the new installment in the series (Sweet Valley Confidential, which comes out tomorrow and features the Wakefield twins in their late twenties), but I still appreciate the Daily Beast's fearless reporting on this relic of my childhood.


Yes, I'm sure the 3-D special effects will make it extra special.

Wow, Matthew Macfadyen has really been working on developing that purring baritone:

The voice is good. The look... not so much. At thirty-six, he's a little young to be letting himself go to this extent, frankly. Seriously: get a haircut, Mr. Darcy.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2 brings the pain

At first I was surprised to hear that they'd made a sequel to last year's excruciating Diary of a Wimpy Kid adaptation, but then I read some reviews that tossed around phrases like "has 'straight to video' written all over it" and explained that the first film was made for a pittance and grossed $75 million. Then this made a lot more sense:

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Read, burn calories, and shop, all at the same time!

I think this is so cool: Washington's King County Library System is offering a series of "Book Cover Walking Tours". The tours turn eight Seattle-adjacent communities into outdoor galleries for book cover art. Each stop features a book cover displayed in a local business as well as a phone number than participants can dial to hear pre-recorded info about the title. The tours run through May.

[Image Source]

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RIP, Dune movie (for now, at least)

Aw... apparently the Dune film reboot is toast. While they dithered over the project for four years, Paramount has finally chosen to let their option expire. The film isn't totally dead (the producers are hanging onto the script and hoping to attract different studios), but things aren't looking good, seeing as the project will cost an estimated $100 million.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Michael Buckley has gone AWOL

The last several times I've checked Amazon for news of the ninth and final Sisters Grimm book, the only thing that's turned up has been a book about Capital Tax Acts. I've managed to remain calm, because books occasionally fail to turn up until shortly before their publication dates, and Michael Buckley has been pretty consistent about publishing in the spring... until now. (The horror!) Amazon's Michael Buckley listing has finally been updated, but with the publication date for Nerds #3: The Cheerleaders of Doom, which isn't out until September. Does that mean we won't see the last Sisters Grimm book until next fall/winter? How am I supposed to WAIT THAT LONG?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Torment, by Lauren Kate

As I turned over the final page of Torment, the second book in Lauren Kate's best-selling Fallen series, my first thought was Aw, man... now I'm totally gonna need to read the third one. Not the world's most enthusiastic recommendation, but a step up from her first book, which I damned with even fainter praise*.

The love triangle established in Fallen is sidelined in Torment. Fallen angels Daniel and Cam have declared a temporary truce in order to protect 17-year-old Luce from the "Outcasts"—fallen angels rejected by both Heaven and Hell. Continuing his hot streak of being infuriatingly patronizing, Daniel stashes Luce in a Northern California high school for children with angelic ancestors, hoping that her fellow students will be distracting enough to keep Luce from falling into the Outcasts' clutches. Naturally, he doesn't share his plan with Luce, who grows increasingly testy as her otherworldly suitor refuses to explain a single damn thing to her.

I found Torment infinitely more fun than Fallen, mostly because Luce is beginning to notice what was obvious from the first book: Daniel is a bossy, condescending creep. (Unfortunately, his actions are occasionally redeemed by an out-of-character moment of stupidity from Luce, but those are few and far between.) I suspect they will end up together—the laws of teen supernatural love triangles are probably too strong for any other outcome—but I'm still excited by Luce's baby steps towards independence. The final chapter of Torment does a solid job of setting things up for the next book in the series, but I don't care so much about all the angel/demon/Outcast stuff. I just want Luce to kick Daniel to the curb until he gets over himself, and I'm gleefully looking forward to seeing it happen.

*I said it was much better than Twilight.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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Odd Thomas on the big screen

BuzzSugar has posted their spring list of Books To Read Before They're Movies. Most of these film adaptations have already been extensively covered here and elsewhere, but I was excited to discover that someone is making a movie version of Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas. Apparently it will star Anton Yelchin (who I thought was charming as the infant version of Chekov in the latest Star Trek movie), so I'm pretty stoked. I've always enjoyed Koontz's storytelling abilities, but I've never been impressed by his actual writing, so I'm hoping I'll enjoy the film adaptation without unfavorably comparing it to its source material.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

A would-be Jane Bond?

According to the Times, former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson has signed a book deal with Penguin to co-write (with mystery author Sarah Lovett) a series of "international suspense" novels. The books will feature a fictional operative named Vanessa Pearson and be based upon Plame Wilson's own experiences, although I'm guessing her heroine's cover won't be blown by a political columnist.

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Imagine a Japanese Nancy Drew paired with a demonic Sherlock Holmes

I was delighted to discover that the deeply weird horror/mystery/comedy anime Neuro has turned up on Hulu. I don't think the manga is available in English and it's not the kind of show that comes with a built-in audience, so I'm not sure what inspired them to pick the series up, but the next time you're stuck at home because of a sick day or whatever, I totally recommend it. (Well, as long as the sick day isn't because you're nauseated. Neuro can get kind of gross.)

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Skipper Barbie, with a bow, in a cage fight...

Well, Katniss Everdeen has been cast. And while Jennifer Lawrence is a lovely young woman and (from what I hear) a very talented actress, and I know Hollywood hair and makeup will go a long way towards making her look like an emaciated teenager... I'm sorry, but if you told me she was 30 years old I would totally believe you. (At least in this outfit.)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sherlock Holmes (as portrayed by Justin Bieber)

Ever since I heard about this project, I've been keeping an eye out for the first book in a new series featuring Sherlock Holmes as a teenager. The Times liked Andrew Lane's Death Cloud, and it's been endorsed by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle... but look at that cover! And check out that title! And couldn't they have chosen a writer whose biggest claim to fame was something other than writing boatloads of Dr. Who spin-offs?

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Knit Your Own Royal Wedding

I don't care about knitting or England's royal family, but Fiona Goble's new how-to book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding is undeniably adorable:

How's that for a wedding souvenir? She even got the princes' perma-flush right!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RASL on the big screen?

According to The Beat, Jeff Smith's trippy sci-fi/noir series RASL is being developed into a feature film. Several things about this idea concern me:
A) The film adaptation of Smith's infinitely more popular series Bone has languished in development limbo for the past several years, which doesn't speak well for his marketability.

B) Smith has only managed to release nine issues of RASL in three years.

C) Plus, none of those nine issues have made much sense, so I have serious doubts about whether or not they could be transformed into a coherent movie.

D) The title... is problematic.
Don't get me wrong: I like RASL, and it's certainly atmospheric and emotionally compelling, but it would require an enormous amount of patience, money, and love to make this sucker into a decent film. Why would Hollywood want to waste that kind of effort when they could be churning out Transformers #17?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A stroke of genius

PopEater is reporting that Bradley Cooper hopes to play Tom Buchanan in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Sadly, the article makes it clear that Luhrmann has never expressed any interest in Cooper playing this role, but I think this would be a brilliant casting choice. I have no idea what he's like in real life, but as an actor Cooper owns that whole "perennial fratboy" vibe.

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Shout-outs via snail mail

According to The Mirror, the U.K.'s Royal Mail recently unveiled their 2011 "Best of British"-themed stamps. The designs include a collection called "Magical Realms", all of which pay tribute to the many famous witches and wizards featured in British literature, including characters created by J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and Terry Pratchett. I think the complete line is pretty ugly... but, hey, it's a nice thought.


Monday, March 14, 2011

So very unnecessary

Remember how creeped out everyone was by that sorta-realistic-looking animation technique they used to film the The Polar Express? Well, they've made an equally disturbing adaptation of Berkeley Breathed's Mars Needs Moms:

...yep. Still creepy.

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Earthquake and Tsunami relief

AnimeNewsNetwork is offering special coverage of the horrific earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday, including information on the status of artists and writers in Japan and suggestions about places to donate relief funds.


Friday, March 11, 2011

39 Clues on a budget

If you've never read the best-selling 39 Clues series, I noticed a "buy one, get the next for half price" deal at my local Barnes and Noble. I don't know if the deals will get better or worse as we get closer to the April 5th release of Vespers Rising (the 11th 39 Clues book), but a series-wide 25% off isn't a bad price (particularly since there only seems to be one Complete Boxed Set left on Amazon).

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just what the world needs...

According to the Associated Press, a 25-room mansion some scholars believe served as a model for one of the homes in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is going to be razed for a subdivision. The 1902 property facing the Long Island Sound will be replaced by five houses priced at $10 million apiece.

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No way, no how

It will be a sub-zero day in hell before I spend $45 on a candle, but these little gems from Assouline Publishing promise to evoke the "atmosphere of your fantasy library, and the pleasure of reading, through the enigmatic scent of paper".

Sadly, my biggest library fantasies involve books that don't smell like 90-year-old chain smokers and don't have pages sealed shut with mystery stains. Clearly, I have no soul.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bone goes upscale

If you really, really, really love Jeff Smith's Bone, you might want to start saving your money now. Three new, full-color, one-volume editions of Bone will be released later this year. There will be a slip-cased version available for $150, a $350 "Collectors' Box Set" that will include pewter Bone figurines and a signed, numbered print, and a super-limited (50 copies only) edition that will feature original art by Smith. It will set you back a cool $1000, but, uh, wow. I totally want one.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

At least Harrison Ford looks like he's having fun

I'm about three months behind the times, but I finally got around to watching the Cowboys and Aliens trailer, and I have to say, I'm pretty stoked about it:

It was originally reported that Robert Downey, Jr. would be playing the Daniel Craig role, but I'm happier with this casting. I think Downey is currently too closely identified with the tongue-in-cheek glibness of his Ironman and Sherlock Holmes characters to do justice to the taciturn sincerity of a Western role—even if it's a Western with aliens in it.

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Stretching the imagination

Uh, okay: apparently, actor Channing Tatum is hoping to co-produce and star in a re-imagining of the Peter Pan story. In Tatum's version, Pan and Captain Hook would be brothers, and the movie will focus on their origins.

...or something. I really don't care. I've never been a big Peter Pan fan (although I liked the 2003 film adaptation), and my only interest in this movie is how they're going to justify having Tatum, who's 30 years old, more than six feet tall, and not exactly renowned for his acting skills, play one of the world's most famous pre-teen characters.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Anne with an E

Thank you, Forever Young Adult. An Anne of Green Gables movie drinking game is exactly what this world needs.

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Eoin Colfer goes after the grown-ups

Behold, it's Eoin Colfer's first standalone novel for adults:

In addition to having great cover art, I notice that the list price for this sucker is only $22.95. I get really irritated when YA/children's authors increase their prices to, say, $28.00 as soon as they enter the general fiction market, so... way to go, Mr. Colfer!

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Thursday, March 03, 2011


My, my: people are apparently all concerned that Lionsgate's upcoming film adaptation of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games has put out a casting call for a pretty, tomboyish, 15-to-20 year old Caucasian actress who looks "underfed but strong".

Um... people are surprised Hollywood is looking to cast a skinny white girl?

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Role-playing Jane Austen

According to AustenBlog, the fine people at Reflexive Entertainment have produced a video game inspired by Jane Austen’s novels called Matches & Matrimony. There is a trial download available for Windows (with a Mac version coming soon), and I'm totally excited to play it. Nothing says "Jane Austen" to me like a hokey, low-budget, mid-90s-style adventure game with some inexplicable anime influences tossed in, you know?

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