I've never read Michael Morpurgo's novel War Horse (I don't like wartime tearjerkers or sad animal stories, and this sucker manages to be both), and I am now 100% certain I won't be seeing the movie version, either:
Doom, gloom, and cute animals in pain? Noooo, thank you.
I can't believe I'm so stoked about a video game novelization (particularly for a game I've never played), but this one—written by internationally successful author Miyuki Miyabe—just looks so cool. (The cover art is the same as the Japanese and European versions of ICO; American gamers, sadly, got stuck with this.) The book was originally written in 2004, but VIZ is releasing it here in the States on August 11th.
Helen Fielding is one of those authors who clearly made enough money to never work again, so I guess it's understandable that she hasn't published anything since 2009's Ox-tales, a collection of short stories in aid of Oxfam. But I still miss her writing, which is why I was so pleased to run across this article about Renee Zellweger. According to E!Online, not only has Fielding been busily tweeting as Bridget, Mark Darcy, and Daniel Cleaver, but a third Bridget Jones book (and movie) is finally in the works.
After the better part of a year, Lisa Kleypas is back: she's offering a sneak peek of her upcoming contemporary romance Rainshadow Road (not out until January, sadly), as well as an August re-release of her post-Civil War historical novel Love Come to Me.
Well, this makes me slightly more inclined to see it: Emma Stone has apparently been offered the lead role in the upcoming film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Admittedly, this only raises the odds from "No Chance in Hell" to "Maybe I'll Rent It", but that's still a big step up. I like Stone a lot more than either Natalie Portman or Scarlett Johansson.)
We here at Wordcandy always enjoy a good re-imagined bookcover, but we get a thrill out of fresh takes on classic movie posters, too... particularly when the films in question are based on familiar books! So we were totally excited to read Flavorwire's post about LWL70, an exhibition of re-worked 1970s film posters. (The posters are on display in a London art gallery, but they're offering reasonably-priced prints online.) Check these suckers out:
The first episode of ABC Family's The Nine Lives of Chloe King (based on the YA novel by Celia Thompson) is now available on Hulu. Here's the trailer, which looks entertaining enough, if a little cheeseball:
My mother was absolutely fascinated by the Bernie Madoff scandal, but she's determined to wait until she is 100% certain she's found the most informative and in-depth book about his situation before she shells out any cash for it. I doubt this will be the book in question, but less insanely finicky readers may be interested: Stephanie Madoff-Mack (daughter-in-law of Bernie and widow of Bernie's son Mark) has sold a memoir to Penguin for release this December. The publisher promises this as-yet-untitled book will be the "first genuine inside account...of one of the great public scandals and private tragedies of our time".
I didn't have the stomach to enjoy this book (the thought of the main character's undead wife slowly decomposing body still makes me queasy, and I read the book almost ten years ago), but Neil Gaiman's less delicate fans will be pleased to hear that Tom Hanks is looking to produce an open-ended TV series for HBO based on Gaimain's novel American Gods. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it's slated for six seasons, each of which will consist of 10 to 12 hour-long episodes, with a hefty budget ($35 to 40 million per season) and a projected start date of 2013.
The London Evening Standard recently posted a depressing article about the fact that one in five London-area parents are either illiterate or only "functionally literate" (meaning they read at the level of an eleven-year-old).
While reading this article was a total bummer, I was even more appalled by the racism of many of the comments, including the (possibly, hopefully joking?) person who felt that "any adult over the age of 18 in England should be subject to a literacy test and deported to Australia should they be found lacking".
One more summer reading list and we're done. Here's the Horn Book magazine's list of recommended books for children. Their choices range from picture books to YA novels, and they've convinced me to pick up a copy of Adam Rex's Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story when it comes out in paperback on July 26th. Because really, who could resist a title and cover like this one?
The trailer for the upcoming Taiwanese drama take on the Japanese manga Skip Beat is out:
Uh... well, everyone looks pretty (particularly Korean actor Choi Siwon–that man is amazingly good-looking), but I'm always a little weirded out by T-dramas. They frequently stick too close to their source material, even when said material doesn't really suit a live-action format, and I don't understand the whole "hiring Korean actors and then dubbing them" thing. Why not stick with actors who already speak the language fluently? I understand that they want to appeal to an international audience, but don't viewers find the dubbing distracting?
If you're one of the many conflicted fans of both independent booksellers and e-readers, this is your weekend. Unbridled Books has partnered with the American Booksellers Association to promote the IndieCommerce program, and they're planning to offer e-versions of 25 of their titles for a mere 25 cents apiece on June 9, 10, and 11. This is a great opportunity to support your local independent bookshop and stock up your Kindle/iPad/whatever, so don't miss out.
How did I miss this? There's a graphic novel adaptation of Jonathan Stroud's The Amulet of Samarkand, one of my favorite YA novels ever, and the cover art is (once again) terrible. Seriously, I'm not sure who has it out for this series, but I cannot believe what bad luck Stroud has had with cover art: these books consistently look low-budget, amateurish, and downright ugly, and this one, sadly, might be the worst yet.
Needless to say, we will not be reading the sequel to Precious.
And speaking of summer reading, NPR has been putting together a number of genre-specific recommended reading lists, including crime fiction, cookbooks, and historical novels. Their selections are frequently too gloomy for our tastes, but they've recommended a few books we're excited about, too: Manuel Munoz's What You See in the Dark (which we would buy based on the cover alone), 101Cookbooks.com blogger Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day, Dorothy Wickenden's Nothing Daunted, a nonfiction account of her grandmother's adventures as a pioneer schoolteacher, and Ben Mezrich's Sex on the Moon, which will also be turning up on our list of recommended Father's Day Gifts... if we get around to making one in time.
Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul has announced that there is no female writer whom he considers his equal. He specifically dismisses Jane Austen's claim to literary fame, saying he "couldn't possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world".
Yes, Jane Austen—a woman who once wrote "Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she was expected, owing to a fright. I suppose that she happened unawares to look at her husband..." in a letter to her sister—was a master of sentiment, wasn't she?
The fine people at St. Martin's Griffin continue to trot out reprints of Jennifer Crusie's earlier work. Their latest offerings are freshly re-covered editions of 2001's Fast Women and 2002's Faking It—both of which make for awesome summer reading, although I have some concerns about their updated packaging.
Fast Women is one of my all-time favorite romance novels, not least because it boasts two of the most entertaining "wronged woman seeks vengeance" scenes ever. (One involves an implied lesbian fling; the other involves the wanton destruction of fourteen "Best Ohio Insurance Agent" awards. Both are delightful.) It's the story of Nell Dystart, a 42-year-old woman who has recently lost her job, her marriage, and her self-confidence. Nell has spent the past year sleep-walking through life, but when she's hired as the receptionist for a straight-out-of-film-noir private investigator's office, things take a turn for the better... or at least the more exciting.
Faking It features several of the characters from Crusie's Welcome to Temptation. There's Davy Dempsey, a former con man, and Clea Lewis, a professional trophy wife whose husbands tend to die young. Davy is trying to go legit, but that's before he meets Tilda Goodnight, a painter with a long list of buried (well, stored in the basement, actually) secrets. Tilda and Davy have no reason to trust each other, but they join forces regardless, determined to right a very long, very strange, and very funny list of wrongs.
These titles will probably be labeled as romances, although the strong mystery storyline in Fast Women expands its potential audience beyond romance readers. Faking It is more overtly romantic, but it has plenty of crossover appeal as well—in addition to the numerous criminals featured in the story, there's forged artwork, a family history of fraud, and at least one potential hit man. Both books are perfect escapist reading: as wickedly amusing as they are smart and sexy.
However, while I am totally in favor of keeping Crusie's books on store shelves, I am less enthusiastic about the cover art featured on these particular editions. As standalone images, the covers are eye-catching and fun, but they don't really fit the books. The vintage car featured in Fast Women is a 1977 Porsche Carrera, not a... whatever that car is, and the furniture in Faking It is hand-painted wood, not a purple armchair that looks suspiciously like the one from Blue's Clues. If the cover artist* wanted to include plot elements from the books, she might have been better to go for something generic (like a typewriter for Fast Women, or an empty frame for Faking It), rather than aiming for details and getting 'em wrong.
*Mollie Smith, whom I believe is Cruise's daughter. Although I'd like to note that Crusie was clearly involved in the cover art decisions, and I have to give Ms. Smith full props for her "Nuts" Crazy For You cover, which I so wish the publisher had used.