Monday, October 31, 2011

The Magic Tree House gets animated

The full-length trailer is out for the upcoming Japanese anime adaptation of Mary Pope Osborne's mega-popular Magic Tree House books. The film will open in Japan on January 7, 2012, and I suspect it will turn up in American theaters eventually. This series has sold more than 92 million books worldwide, so it seems like it would be well-worth the cost of dubbing... unless, of course, there's already a competing English-language edition in the works*.

*There isn't, as far as I know. But give it time.

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In honor of Halloween...

According to NPR, William Blatty has written a "revised and polished" edition of his novel The Exorcist. In addition to the stylistic updates, the recently-released 40th Anniversary Edition also includes a full chapter of new material.

Note: NPR is also offering a short but intriguing list of horror recs from classic literature, none of which I've read. I think I'll skip the Herman Melville collection (stories about "the hopeless patience of the tortoise who is hunted for its meat" sound a little too horrific for my taste), but I might give the Louisa May Alcott book a shot.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Science fair season is coming up

Thanks to the fine people at io9, I now know that Britain's Royal Society has recently opened up their historical archive of journals to the public, free of charge. The Royal Society has been publishing peer-reviewed scientific literature since 1665, so that's quite a bit of information (around 60,000 scientific papers), including articles written by Ben Franklin, Charles Darwin, and Isaac Newton.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A step in the right direction

According to Scientific American, a Dutch researcher has developed a font designed to decrease the number of errors made by dyslexics while reading. The font emphasizes the differences between certain letters commonly confused by dyslexics ("d" and "b", for example), making it easier for dyslexics to distinguish between them.

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Dressing up

If you've ever dreamed of looking like a disturbed computer hacker with multiple facial piercings (and who hasn't?), start saving now: on December 14th, budget retailer H&M will be releasing a clothing line inspired by the "Lisbeth Salander" character from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Ooh, just in time for Christmas!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's almost Halloween, right?

Slate recently posted an article about the original Pinocchio story, which they claim is considerably creepier than the 1940s Disney version. Now, normally this wouldn't come as much of a surprise, but I've always found even Disney's take on that story to be totally disturbing, so I guess I was a little surprised to learn how much stuff they'd actually left out...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Big book, big price

Baking Bites has posted a largely-positive review of the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, which apparently boasts over 2,000 recipes from the magazine's twenty-year history.

The book costs forty dollars, so I'll be waiting for it to go way, way on sale. (Like, 50% off.) I have a lot of respect for Cook's Magazine, but for forty bucks I'd want the book to come with actual food.


He probably has his reasons.

This weekend's big geek news item was the announcement that Joss Whedon has made a mysterious adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. I'm not sure why Whedon was compelled to film it in secret, and I'm even less sure why he chose the dorky promotional image featured above.

However, I am not the best person to judge. As far as I'm concerned, no one should bother filming Much Ado About Nothing at all. Seriously, I cannot stand that play. Stories about wronged women suffering in silence are one of my least favorite things, so all the Hero-and-Claudio scenes leave me nauseated, and I've always found Benedick and Beatrice's "merry war" take on flirtation insanely irritating. (On the up side, at least they deserve each other...)


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Game of Triumphs, by Laura Powell

15-year-old Cat Harper, the orphaned protagonist of Laura Powell's debut novel The Game of Triumphs, is not your typical wide-eyed fantasy heroine. After witnessing a murder, streetwise, pragmatic Cat becomes an unwilling participant in the Game of Triumphs, an ancient magical contest based on the rules of the Tarot. Success in the Game can win a player fame and fortune, while failure means suffering and loss, but Cat is only a "chancer"—the Game's equivalent of an accidental bystander. With no prizes on offer, Cat has every intention of simply ignoring the weirdness the Game has dragged into her life... until she discovers a horrifying link between the Game and her parents' deaths, twelve years earlier.

The Game of Triumphs kicks off with a bang (Cat is neck-deep in danger well before the end of the first chapter), and the hell-for-leather storytelling pace is maintained throughout. There is an impressive amount of Tarot-related information stuffed into the novel, but the author deftly balances exposition with action. We wish Powell had spent a little more time exploring her characters' pasts, but The Game of Triumphs is only the first installment in a series, so we're hoping the next book will manage to be equally entertaining and a little richer on the character-development front.

On one final note, may we say how pleasant it was to read a fantasy novel about a dangerous game that doesn't feature the majority of participants dying horrible deaths? We understand that The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner were best-sellers, but we have been sent piles of gore-filled YA novels this year. Even stories of pearl-clutching horror are boring when done to excess, so we want to commend Ms. Powell for having the imagination to propose different—but still meaningful—stakes.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.

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The Prince Tudor Theory

I don't know about you, but I have my doubts about a movie that employs (SPOILERS*) murder, deception, bribery, and an incestuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and her illegitimate son, all to explain why there is really no chance Shakespeare might have written Shakespeare's plays. Now, I understand why people question how the son of an illiterate glove-maker could have penned some of the world's best-known works of literature, but I'm a lot more comfortable buying "Shakespeare as Shakespeare" than I am with some of the more hair-raising conspiracy theories surrounding his authorship... including this one.

*At least, potential spoilers, because I haven't actually seen this movie, nor am I likely to.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Impressive... but morally wrong

I'm never thrilled when people take real books and transform them into fake books, and it's even worse when the books in question are actually nice. That said, these Book Charging Docks are kind of snazzy:

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You win some

Publishers Weekly is reporting that Viz Media is moving closer to near-simultaneous English and Japanese manga publication, although English-language readers will be limited to the digital format. Viz is planning to launch Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, a "weekly digital serialized manga anthology", in January of 2012. The digital anthology will eventually replace Shonen Jump (its print-media equivalent), which will be phased out by March.

This news will come as a blow for readers who prefer their manga printed on actual paper, but it should also come as a boon for people who hate waiting, as the turnaround for Japanese-to-English publication will now be a mere two weeks.

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Dude must have a lot of time on his hands

Speaking of classic manga adaptations, AnimeNewsNetwork has announced that the 1982 animated film The Last Unicorn is getting a theatrical re-release in 2012 and 2013, and author Peter S. Beagle is planning to attend every event honoring the film based on his 1968 fantasy novel.

Wow, The Last Unicorn must be a bigger money-maker than I realized. If your local indie movie theater could use a piece of 80s-nostalgia pie, you might want to suggest they book this movie (and Mr. Beagle's presence) early.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

On the brink

According to, there's movement on the live-action Akira movie adaptation front. The movie has been in development for what seems like forever (the original Japanese film, based on the manga of the same name, came out in 1988), but apparently Warner Bros. has promised to announce a final decision this week: either deep-six the project for good or move forward.

I'll believe it when I see it.

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Why, movie gods, why?!?

Ugh: Megan told me that a second Percy Jackson and the Olympians movie was in the works, thanks to healthier-than-expected (or justified) international numbers for the first film, but I was hoping she was wrong. Sadly, she wasn't.

It's not due out until March of 2013... but that's nowhere near enough time for me to get over how indescribably dreadful the first movie was. Give it another decade, guys. Or better yet, just try again, with age-appropriate actors, a sharper director, and a way, way, way better script.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Charlaine Harris gets graphic

GalleyCat informs me that Charlaine Harris has inked a deal with Ace Books to produce a three-volume graphic novel series called Cemetery Girl. The books will be co-written with Christopher Golden and illustrated by Don Kramer, and they're expected to hit shelves in 2013, the same year that will see the final volume of her Southern Vampire series.

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The Thin Man redux

According to THR, writer-director Billy Ray has been hired to write a new adaptation of the classic Dashiell Hammett novel The Thin Man. Johnny Depp (seriously, does that man ever take time off?) is attached to star, and Rob Marshall will direct. This is one project I am unequivocally excited about; I'm pretty sure Depp will do right by Nick Charles.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Glutton for punishment

I thought Thor was, bar none, the worst movie I have seen all year, so I'm wondering if my affection for the first Ironman movie will be enough to make The Avengers bearable.

We'll see when the reviews come out, but I have serious doubts.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hopefully this isn't a major financial blow to the actual comic book creators

According to the LA Times, Barnes and Noble announced last week that it will no longer offer copies of 100 backlist graphic novels from DC Comics in its bookstores, including well-known titles like Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. B&N is upset that DC signed a digital distribution deal with Amazon for the books, making them exclusively available on either Amazon Kindles or other devices (like iPads) with an Amazon Kindle app.

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With bells on

YES! YEEESSSS! At long, long, long last, there is an official release date and title for the ninth book in Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series: on May 8th, 2012, you will find me at my local bookstore the minute it opens, clutching a copy of Sisters Grimm 9: The Council of Mirrors.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

The mind boggles

THERE'S GOING TO BE A RANMA ½ LIVE-ACTION ADAPTATION?!? How—how—did I not hear about this? And how can it possibly work? For those of you unfamiliar with Ranma ½ (you poor things), it's one of the most iconic series in manga history—a ridiculously enjoyable comedy/fantasy/martial arts epic about a boy cursed to turn into a girl when splashed with cold water, his short-tempered fiancé, and their various friends and acquaintances, 99% of whom want to marry and/or fight them. I've loved this story since I first started reading manga in high school, but I have no idea how it will suit a live-action format.


A loss for Georgette Heyer fans

I was saddened to discover that one of the very few Georgette Heyer fansites appears to have shut down. was bare-boned but helpful, providing readers with news, a forum, and numerous links. The site's main page indicates that it might eventually re-open—here's hoping that happens soon, because Ms. Heyer's work is too entertaining to be so poorly celebrated online.


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Alcohol and bedazzled turtles?

The trailer's up for the movie adaptation of The Rum Diary, based on the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name:

Yep. Won't be seeing this one either.

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A bookstore employee's lament

Entertainment Weekly recently posted a photo taken at a former Borders store of an employee's list of grievances:

Bits of it are funny, and there are elements I agree with (mostly the ones about returning used books and leaving kids unattended in the children's section), but mostly this just depressed me. Look, anonymous bookstore employee: I feel for you. I've worked in a big chain bookstore, and I've dealt with obnoxious customers, but people who don't know exactly what they're looking for are the ones who keep brick-and-mortar stores open. They wander in, they ask for help, they poke around for forty-five minutes, they buy cups of coffee and overpriced scones, and they eventually walk out the doors having spent thirty dollars more than they meant to. People who do know what they want shop online, armed with 30% off coupons and free shipping. You should be grateful to all those dithering shoppers with their "quick questions" and required-reading lists—they did their part to keep your store open.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

He's no Raymond Burr, but...

According to Variety, Warner Bros. and Robert Downey Jr. are planning to relaunch the Perry Mason franchise (based on the original series by Erle Stanley Gardner) as a feature film, with Downey Jr. starring in the title role.

I've always been fond of the Perry Mason character, and I sincerely hope the new producers feature the books' original titles, which range from conventionally cheesy (The Case of the Lucky Legs) to delightfully weird (The Case of the Drowning Duck).

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bagels, pizza, and sewer steam

Do kids really need a scratch-and-sniff illustrated guide to New York's aromas, both good and bad? My first thought was "Ew!", but then I remember my elementary school peers' passion for those Garbage Pail Kids cards, and remember that it's not my job to judge.

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Just over $4.50 per page

If money is no object when it comes to books for your coffee table, check out The Impossible Collection of Fashion. This 144-page-long book is priced at a jaw-dropping $650, and features one hundred of the "most iconic" dresses of the 20th century, as chosen by Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

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Monday, October 03, 2011

Rom-com on the lam

The One for the Money trailer is out, and I'll give it a solid "looks better than I thought it would". (Apart from Heigl's Jersey accent, which is straight-up embarrassing.)

Of course, my expectations were very, very low.

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Werewolves on the Titanic!

My e-mail this morning included a promotional note about Claudia Gray's recently-released novel Fateful, which I skimmed with tepid interest. The cover didn't catch my eye, and our "To Be Read" shelf has enough historical YA romances on it to supply a mid-sized bookstore. But as I kept reading, my interest level grew exponentially. According to the plot description, this book features:
A) an Upstairs, Downstairs romance between a long-suffering housemaid and a rich young man with a dark and mysterious past,

B) a setting aboard the RMS Titanic, and

C) werewolves. (Seriously.)
I am going to read this book; I like an author who's not afraid to go big or go home.

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