Friday, July 29, 2011

Comics on the horizon

Yesterday, Publishers Weekly posted a helpful round-up of the kids' comics announcements released at this year's Comic-Con, including info on upcoming titles from Smile's Raina Telgemeier, the Amulet series' Kazu Kibuishi, and Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman. (Note: The article's second-to-last paragraph is all about graphic novel tie-ins for various products, so if you don't care about a book series based on Lego’s Ninjago toy figures, feel free to skip it.)

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

National treasure

AWESOME: I skipped over to AustenBlog to see what happened with the partial manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons that was auctioned off earlier this month. I was delighted to see that it was sold for a whopping £993,250 ($1.6 million USD) to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. More importantly, the manuscript will be available to the public as early as this autumn, as it is expected to be a star attraction at the forthcoming "Treasures of the Bodleian" exhibition.

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At least it's a catchier title

The trailer's out for The Ides of March, the latest film from writer/director/star George Clooney. The movie is an adaptation of Beau Willimon's 2008 play Farragut North, which is loosely based on the 2004 Democratic primary campaign of Howard Dean. Behold:

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fairytale pop art

I was going to write a blog post about Anne Rice's upcoming werewolf book, but like I said: I totally don't care about Anne Rice. So let's look at these Disney Underground prints inspired by the various Disney fairytale adaptations instead, even though I don't really have anything meaningful to say about them, other than

A) Pretty!
B) Also crazy expensive!

All are available at Acme Archives Direct.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

AMC's zombies return

If you've got a strong stomach and 4+ minutes to spare, the trailer's out for the second season of The Walking Dead, AMC's television adaptation of Robert Kirkman's comic book series:

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Interview with the Vampire goes graphic

Yen Press and Anne Rice are planning a single-volume graphic novel adaptation of Rice's 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire, due out in fall 2012. Rather to my surprise, I really like this first image (even though there's no chance I'll actually read the book—I'm not a Rice fan). I'm assuming that's supposed to be Claudia, and who better to embrace the whole Gothic Lolita vibe?

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Snow White smackdown

Early character shots are out from the two upcoming Snow White movie adaptations. You have the Snow White: Joan of Arc version:


And Snow White: Original Flavor:


Pick your poison.

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Five students recently set a world record after reading aloud from the complete works of historian and former Dominican President Juan Bosch for more than 300 straight hours. Their goal was to raise awareness about books in the Dominican Republic, and they hoped to encourage business owners to donate to local libraries. Unfortunately, less than 40% of primary schools in the Dominic Republic have a library, (and many of those that do are stocked with out-of-date materials), so here's hoping their efforts are recognized.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

I've been burned by these things before, you see.

Trailer's out for Martin Scorsese's Hugo, based on Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Behold:

Eh. It's pretty, but I have my doubts.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Takes all kinds

As we have frequently mentioned, we here at Wordcandy do not enjoy stories that feature suffering animals. That includes allegorical animals, which is why we've never been big fans of Art Spiegelman's Maus. Other people, however, do like Maus, which explains this:

We especially object to animals-in-pain stories that cost $35.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Texas Gothic, by Rosemary Clement-Moore

The title of Rosemary Clement-Moore's new novel Texas Gothic is misleading: there are no gloomy mansions or dark family secrets, and Clement-Moore's heroines have never been fragile*. It would have been far more accurate to call the book Supernaturally-Gifted Nancy Drew and the Case of the McCulloch Ranch Ghost... but we can accept—grudgingly—that doesn't really roll off the tongue.

When Amy Goodnight agrees to spend her last summer before college house-sitting at her Aunt Hyacinth's herb farm, she doesn't expect everything to be normal. Life is never normal for the Goodnights, a family of witches and psychics, but Amy has a lot of practice at keeping other people from noticing her quirkier relatives—like her older sister Phin, a science major who's spending the summer at the herb farm measuring the physical aspects of paranormal phenomena. Unfortunately, there are two things distracting Amy from her self-appointed role as the family's protector: her cranky (but hot) neighbor Ben McCulloch, and the Mad Monk of McCulloch Ranch, a legendary ghost who seems all-too-interested in the Goodnight sisters.

It's tough to pick our favorite aspect of this novel. Amy and Ben's prickly romance, Phin's endearing weirdness, and the organically-incorporated magical elements were all great, but we particularly enjoyed the book's many tongue-in-cheek tributes to Nancy Drew:
Emery cut in impatiently, “For crying out loud. Who do you think you are? Nancy Drew?”

“Hey,” I snapped, because no one sniped at my sister but me, and Mark echoed with a stern “Chill, dude.”

Phin was unperturbed. “Those books were highly unrealistic. Do you have any idea how much brain damage a person would have if she were hit on the head and drugged with chloroform that often?”
We have no reason to suppose there will be a sequel to Texas Gothic, much less an effort to turn the Goodnight family's adventures into a Nancy Drew-style series, but we totally enjoyed this supernaturally-tinged take on the girl sleuth genre, and—once again—were left eagerly anticipating Ms. Clement-Moore's next book.

*To be fair, the book is set in Texas.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WAG literary taste

Aw: Sales of Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill A Mockingbird rose by 123% in the UK after David and Victoria Beckham named their new baby "Harper" in honor of the book, said to be Victoria's favorite.

Of course, Victoria made an infamous comment in 2005 that she'd never actually read a book (although she had written one), so I'm glad to hear that either A) she was joking*, or B) she's picked up a novel or two in the intervening years.

*Or her comment was mistranslated, or taken out of context, or something. But it couldn't really be true... right?

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For whom the bell tolls

Well, Borders is officially toast: the troubled bookseller has confirmed it will liquidate its assets. If everything goes as planned, going-out-of-business sales will begin this Friday and continue until the end of September.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

We will all be happier if this is an image-free post.

These Reborn Harry Potter Babies are the most horrifying things I have ever seen. I'd like to think the dolls are some kind of belated April Fool's Day joke... but whenever I click the link to read more, I just find myself staring, hypnotized, at their creepy little faces.

[via io9]

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After avoiding it for some time, I finally watched the trailer for the upcoming Planet of the Apes prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (For those of you wondering what the literary connection is here, the original Apes movie was based on the 1963 sci-fi novel La Planète des Singes, by Pierre Boulle, the same dude who wrote The Bridge over the River Kwai.) Behold:

It's good to see that Tom "Draco Malfoy" Felton has really branched out from playing a blonde, arrogant swine, isn't it?

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Kiss of Death, by Lauren Henderson

Kiss of Death is the fourth and final book in Lauren Henderson's Scarlett Wakefield mystery series, after Kiss Me Kill Me, Kisses and Lies, and Kiss in the Dark. While the first few books focused on the bizarre death of Scarlet's first crush, Dan McAndrew, the sequels have expanded in both scope and location. When she travels to Edinburgh for a school trip, Scarlett becomes the target of a series of dangerous pranks. Unfortunately, Scarlett's suspect list keeps expanding: the friends she abandoned at her former school, Dan's surviving twin Callum McAndrew, and even her normally straightforward friend Taylor, who seems to get weirder with every attack.

Apart from a couple of painfully obvious subplots, the vast majority of Kiss of Death feels like a worthy final installment for this entertaining series. The attacks on Scarlett (which range from a drugged water bottle to a shove down a smoke-filled stairwell) don't inspire much excitement individually, but they add up to a convincingly creepy atmosphere. Better yet, this is one of the few girl-in-peril novels with a "happily ever after" ending that actually feels plausible. Scarlett is understandably freaked out by her situation, but she never feels irreparably traumatized. By Kiss of Death's final chapter, all of the books' loose ends have been tied up, teen angst has dropped to non-toxic levels, and Scarlett's dream of a normal life seems both doable and totally well-deserved.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

I do like the flying lobster spaceship, though.

Trailer's up for Disney's John Carver. Behold:

Okay, that looks totally cheesy, but this is based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame) book. Cheesy is to be expected.

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Abandon, by Meg Cabot

I was thrilled when I heard that Meg Cabot was once again tossing her hat into the supernatural romance ring. After all, her The Mediator and 1-800-Where-R-You? series are some of my all-time favorite YA titles, so my hopes for her new book Abandon were very, very high.

Abandon, the first book in a projected trilogy, is a modern retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth. It's been two years since 17-year-old Pierce Oliviera had a near-death experience in her backyard pool, but her life has never been the same. She's been kicked out of her former school, her mother has moved them to Florida's Isla Huesos, and John, the hot, broody guy she met in the afterlife—the same guy who, disturbingly, seemed to be in charge—keeps turning up in unexpected places and yelling at her.

Long-time fans of Cabot's books will recognize elements of this story. John is the quintessential Cabot love interest: devoted, bossy, and (way) older than the heroine. Dreamy, scatterbrained Pierce initially seems like more of a pushover than Cabot's previous heroines, but her easy-going nature hides a stubborn streak that prevents John from overwhelming her. Cabot has explored the overprotective guy/independent girl romantic dynamic before, but she takes it much, much further in this book—John is convinced the only way to protect Pierce is to imprison her in his Underworld bachelor pad forever, and Pierce is (understandably) voting no. I have no idea how Cabot plans to transform her hero from what can only be described as a creepy stalker extraordinaire into the kind of guy a modern girl would actually date, but I look forward to finding out.

However! A word of warning! I really recommend waiting to read Abandon until the final two books in the series have been released. One of the most appealing things about Cabot's earlier series was the way she balanced the slow development of her romantic storylines with the immediate gratification of solving each installment's central mystery. Abandon, on the other hand, is 90% romantic tension and only 10% everything else, so while one or two plot points were tied up in this book, the majority were left unresolved. This means I'm in for a long, frustrating wait until the next book—2012's Underworld—hits bookstore shelves.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Spaghetti Detectives, by Andreas Steinhöfel

If we gave out awards for Most Misleading Cover Art, today would go down as the day Josh Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin passed the torch: Andreas Steinhöfel's novel The Spaghetti Detectives might look like a PBS cartoon aimed at pre-schoolers, but it reads like a junior version of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Originally written in German and translated by Chantal Wright, The Spaghetti Detectives is told via the meandering narration of Rico Doretti, a boy with an unspecified learning disability that severely limits his ability to focus. While investigating the origins of a stray spaghetti noodle found outside his apartment, Rico meets a paranoid child genius named Oscar. The boys couldn't be more different, but they form an instant, oddball connection—and when Oscar becomes the latest victim of a notorious child kidnapper, Rico is determined to find his new friend.

The Spaghetti Detectives is endearingly weird, atmospheric, and frequently very funny, but that cheery cover and wholesome tagline (“They've got to use their noodles!”) is a total bait-and-switch. While children will probably find this story less disturbing than this adult reviewer, this is still a novel that boasts passages like the following:
"Mr. 2000 has been keeping everybody in Berlin on the edge of their seats for three months. On television they said he was probably the most cunning child kidnapper of all time. Some people call him the ALDI kidnapper, after the cut-price supermarket, because his ransoms are so low. He lures little boys and girls into his car and drives off with them, and afterward he writes their parents a letter:


Up until now none of the parents have told the police until after they had paid up and their child popped up safe. But everybody in Berlin is waiting for the day when some little Claudia or Alexander doesn't come home in one piece because their parents have messed up. Maybe some people would be secretly happy that their child had been kidnapped and wouldn't cough up a penny. Or they might be really poor and only have fifty euros to their name. If you only gave Mr. 2000 fifty euros, it's likely that the only piece left of your child would be a hand. It would be less noticeable. And a giant box for everything-minus-the-hand would cost fifty euros in postage all by itself."
See what I mean? That cover is doing this well-written, original mystery no favors: middle readers (and older kids) will be turned off by the cartoonish artwork, and little kids will be stuck reading a book they're too young to appreciate.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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Back, and more painful than ever

If you've spent the past few years yearning for another book in Louise Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, you're in luck (sort of): Rennison has recently kicked off a new series starring Georgia's cousin, Tallulah Casey. Tallulah's misadventures commence in the just-released Withering Tights. Behold:

Kind of a great cover, I must admit... but I'll be skipping this nonetheless. I didn't have the stomach for the Georgia Nicolson books, which felt like a cross between Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ and a particularly painful teen romantic comedy. I'm just not brave enough to face that much excruciatingly British teen-girl humor.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places is the final book in Carrie Ryan's nihilistic girls-vs.-zombies trilogy, following The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves. I enjoyed the first story in this series, and while I was slightly less impressed by the sequel, I was still sufficiently invested to embark on this book with an open mind—maybe even a little optimism.

The protagonist of The Dark and Hollow Places is Annah, the long-lost twin sister of Gabry, the heroine of The Dead-Tossed Waves. Annah is a survivor, even in this grim world of zombies and religious fanatics, but the horrors she has experienced have left her physically and mentally scarred. When she is reunited with her sister and meets Catcher, a boy with an inexplicable immunity to the zombie virus, Annah experiences a brief flash of hope... but she soon discovers that any emotional bond will be used against her.

Ryan's world has always been a dark one, but The Dark and Hollow Places really ups the horror ante. This book is so overwhelmingly grim it frequently crosses the line into unintentional humor. The plot is stuffed to bursting with attempted rape scenes, betrayals, and death, death, and more death. Nearly every named character—apart from the four primary ones—dies, always horribly. People are torn apart, fall off buildings, and die in zombie cage fights. (Seriously. Zombie cage fights.)

Despite all the over-the-top horror, the novel might have kept my interest if Ryan had moved the final quarter of her book in a fresh direction—offering some hope of a cure for the zombie infestation, or at least a more concrete plan for her protagonists' future. Instead, the book kept the festival of gore rolling until the final pages, when things took an abrupt turn towards relative optimism. Unfortunately, by this point my emotional investment in Ryan's characters had been exhausted, and it was going to take a lot more than an upbeat final scene to revive it.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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Tintin for the 21st century?

I will never, ever, ever stop finding motion-capture stuff creepy, but I'll probably see this anyhow:

It helps that it's based on a cartoon, so the characters aren't supposed to look super-realistic. I can't believe how comforting I find all those ridiculous noses...

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

The joys of legalese

For those of you interested in the nine(!) Wizard of Oz-related film projects currently in development, there's an interesting Hollywood Reporter article about Warner Bros.'s recent legal victory granting them copyright protection for "all visual depictions" of the characters portrayed in their 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

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I'm so happy this is a real thing:

Yes. Snow White, perhaps the most famous poisoning victim in all of fairyland, is hawking the very food that led to her downfall. Way to go, Disney!

[Via io9]

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Been there

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Keri Russell has signed on to star in the upcoming film adaptation of Shannon Hale's novel Austenland. The movie will be directed by Jerusha Hess (best known for co-writing Napoleon Dynamite with her husband Jared Hess) and produced by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.

Setting aside the truly ghastly-sounding premise, Hale, Meyer, and Hess are prominent members of the Mormon Church, making me wonder what impact (if any) their faith will have on this project. Didn't someone already make a critically panned Latter-day Saints-themed movie about Pride and Prejudice?

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sound advice

Aw, my beloved Cold Comfort Farm got a shout-out in Laura Miller's Salon article about Invisible Libraries, collections of books that only exist within works of fiction. (Books like the guidebook The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which lives inside Douglas Adams's novel of the same name.) Like Ms. Miller, I've always yearned to read the imaginary philosophical tracts written by the (equally imaginary) Abbé Fausse-Maigre, a French cleric whose wise words guide the heroine through her various trials in Cold Comfort Farm. Author Stella Gibbons only features a few direct quotes from the Abbé, but they're clearly words to live by:
"Never arrive at a house at a quarter past three. It is a dreadful hour; too early for tea and too late for luncheon..."

"Condole with the Ugly Duckling's mother. She has fathomed the pit of amazement."
And my favorite:
"Never confront an enemy at the end of a journey, unless it happens to be his journey."


Travel to faraway places...

I want these (particularly the Hogwarts one):

Maybe not to the extent of selling a kidney, but seriously close.

[Via io9]

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