Friday, May 30, 2008

Julia Quinn picks up the pace

Speaking of Ms. Quinn...

I am not a huge Julia Quinn fan--her books are pleasant, but rarely memorable--but I found myself unusually interested in the secondary couple in her just-released The Lost Duke of Wyndham. Their problems seemed far more compelling than those of the main couple (who fall in love at first sight), and I was sorry to think that I'd have to wait for Julia Quinn's usual full-year-between-books schedule to hear what happened next. But Ms. Quinn has surprised me: according to her homepage, she wrote both couples' stories concurrently, and the second book in this series, Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, will be out on September 30th. She is offering a plot summary on her website.

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Avon Books gets time out of purgatory

Avon Books has launched a charity called Love Gives Back. According to their website, "Love Gives Back [is] a new program where you'll get Sneak Peeks into upcoming releases and be able to read Avon books for free online. And best of all, we'll be donating books to charity organizations each month based on how much you read."

This month's free title is the first book in Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Family series, The Duke and I, and their "Sneak Peek" features the first 20% of Ms. Quinn's current title, The Lost Duke of Wyndham. Click here to read it--but we're getting to this story a little late, so you'll have to finish the book by tomorrow, because I think they switch books on June 1st.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Excited about that 800-word-long Harry Potter prequel?

For those of you just turning on your computers, J.K. Rowling has written an 800-word mini-prequel to her Harry Potter series that will be auctioned off for a charity benefiting Dyslexia Action. If you're eager to learn more, click here...
or here...
or here...
or here...
for more info.

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We’ll have YA fantasy coming out of our ears.

I’m still waiting to see what Megan Whalen Turner will publish next (where did that woman go?), but several other A-list fantasy writers are marching towards their next publication:

1. Robin McKinley’s upcoming book doesn’t have an official summary out yet, but there is cover art. After a couple of modern-day fantasy novels (and several years off), it looks like she’s returning to her historical roots. Chalice is due out on September 18.

2. Eoin Colfer’s new Artemis Fowl book, Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, is due out July 15th.

3. Jonathan Stroud has a new book coming out called The Heroes of the Valley. It's due in early 2009, and they've already released the following teaser:
Listen then, and I'll tell you again of the Battle of the Rock. But none of your usual wriggling, or I'll stop before I've begun... Halli loves the old stories from when the valley was a wild and dangerous place-when the twelve legendary heroes, led by his ancestor Svein, stood together to defeat the ancient enemy, the bloodthirsty Trows. Halli longs for adventure but it seems these days the most dangerous thing in the valley is boredom. He tries to liven things up by taunting his siblings and playing practical jokes. But when one of his jokes goes too far reawakening an old blood feud, Halli finds himself on a hero's quest after all. Along the way he meets a ruthless thief, a murderous rival, and a girl who may just be as fearless as he is. Halli may be about to make his own last stand and discover the truth about the legends, about his family, and about himself... Jonathan Stroud has created an epic saga with a funny, unique spin, and an unforgettable anti-hero.

4. We’re now seeing both the cover art and publisher’s description for Suzanne Collins’s October 1st release The Hunger Games:
“Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.”

Of course, the upcoming fantasy release I’m most excited about is the new Diana Wynne Jones title, and I am STOKED to see that it’s almost here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Check it out:

Wow! I've never read Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember*, but Bill Murray? Tim Robbins? Martin Landau? Those are some big names for a kid movie--not that ths particular preview seems all that kid-friendly (at least, not little-kid-friendly).

*A situation that must be rectified immediately.



While wandering through my local bookstore last night, I came across the new line of Puffin Classics re-releases. Each of the titles featured below costs $4.99, and includes an introduction by a well-known children's writer*, an author profile, a questions-and-answers set, and illustrations.

Are they not beautiful? This is the best-looking classics set I've seen in years--plus, these paperbacks are only slightly more expensive than Dover Thrift editions (which usually run between $2.50 and $3.50), and they're a major upgrade in terms of cover art and bonus materials.

*Including Eoin Colfer, Diana Wynne Jones, Jonathan Stroud, Brian Jacques, etc...

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I think we're reading these titles a little differently.

Check out this blog post on about the sexism faced by female fantasy authors. I have no doubt female writers encounter considerable sexism*, but I'm not sure I agree with such statements as "[a] subtle mechanism is operating here, clanking into gear to restore the dominant man-worshipping default mode while reserving a few token high-priestess places for the ladies", nor do I think such an inflammatory article will do anything but preach to the converted. (Seriously, she describes the Lord of the Rings books as the story of a "club of white men [fleeing] a big burning vagina". I'm fully prepared to complain about how boring these books are, but I'm just not sold on the "Big Bad as a Flaming Ladypart" concept.)

*And female-oriented genres face even more sexism, but has this author ever written a passionate defence of romance novels? Has Harvard ever asked a romance novelist to deliver their commencement address? Where's the outcry about THAT?
[Via Read Roger]

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: 10th Anniversary Edition

Scholastic has announced an upcoming 10th Anniversary edition of J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The re-release will cost $30.00, feature new artwork by Mary Grandpré, and include "exclusive bonus material from J.K. Rowling". The book is due out on September 23, 2008.

For a sneak peek at the new (and questionably improved) artwork, click here.
[Via The Leaky Cauldron]


Friday, May 23, 2008

No, thank you.

I see that Jenny Downham's novel Before I Die has been shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction award. We were offered a copy of this novel for review several months ago and I politely declined it--I have zero interest in reading a story about a sixteen-year-old girl "racing to achieve her dreams before she dies of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia", no matter how many glowing reviews it received. However, I realize that many people do not require a happy ending from their entertainment (zillions of people went to see Titanic, didn't they?), so if this is the kind of thing you enjoy, keep an eye out for it at your local bookshop.

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Yearly top ten lists already?

I have no problem with the books featured on Booklist Online's list of the Top 10 SF/Fantasy for Youth: 2008 titles, but that title is misleading--it isn't really a list of this year's top sci-fi/fantasy titles, it's a list of the best YA sci-fi/fantasy titles published within the last twelve months. (In their defense, "Top 10 SF/Fantasy for Youth Published Between May of 2007 and May of 2008" is a little clunky...)


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Skip Beat! to be made into a T-drama?

I'm hearing rumors that Yoshiko Nakamura's deliciously funny revenge manga Skip Beat! is going to be made into a Taiwanese drama starring Ariel Lin. Frankly, my hopes are not high.

Not everything about this idea is terrible. Ariel Lin is an appealing actress (although she's a solid decade older than the character she would be playing), and most of the T-dramas I've seen have stuck very closely to their source material. Unfortunately, I don't think this story will work as a live-action production.

The heroine of Skip Beat! is a sweet, gentle girl named Kyoko, who is totally devoted to her childhood friend Sho. When Sho decides to run away from home and become a singer, Kyoko goes with him, taking on several part-time jobs to support them. Kyoko comes home early one day and overhears Sho telling his manager that Kyoko is nothing but a servant to him, and (now that he's a success) he plans to send her back to their old home. Enraged, Kyoko swears vengeance and buries her nice-girl persona forever, deciding to become a star in her own right...

Most of the humor in this series comes from Kyoko's innappropriate, over-the-top reactions to her new world. It's full of the kind of sequences that are funny in a single manga panel, but will be very difficult to recreate in a live-action. Here's Kyoko's reaction to overhearing Sho's real opinion of her (that evil-looking thing in the trunk is one of Kyoko's inner demons):

And this is a couple of pages later, once all of Kyoko's inner demons have emerged and she's busily killing off her selflessness and love for Sho (represented by those sweet little fairy-things she's squishing):

Hmm. It would probably work as an anime, and it MIGHT work if they play it totally straight in a live-action, but I suspect we'll be in for a lot of cheap-looking comedic fantasy sequences and sitcom-style over-acting.

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Lynne Rossetto Kasper guest-blogging for Powell's

Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of NPR's The Splendid Table and co-author (with producer Sally Swift) of the awesome new cookbook The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Show, is this week's guest blogger for Click here to read this James Beard Award winner's posts on food, writing, and travel.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lisa Kleypas to spice up the fall book season...

...with not one but two(!!!) new historicals, and it looks like A Wallflower Christmas will be coming out in HARDCOVER:

(I'd be even more excited about this if the book didn't cost $16.99, which tells me that it's probably a novella, not a full-length novel.) Click here for sneak peeks of both titles.

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Books I don't care about are going to be made into movies I won't see

According to this, they're going to make a movie out of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series (big when I was in sixth grade), according to this they're making another Nicholas Sparks adaptation (ugh!), and according to this they're making a movie out of Oscar Wilde's massively creepy horror novel The Picture of Dorian Gray starring Ben Barnes, the dude currently playing Prince Caspian in the new Narnia movie. (He looked really pretty in the previews--almost pretty enough for me to want to see the movie--but in this pic he looks like a disturbingly toothy cross between a romance novel cover model and Ryan Seacrest. I'm hoping it's just a bad photo. They wouldn't hire a non-beautiful person to play Dorian Gray, right?)

AUSTEN CONTEST NOTE: We still haven't heard back from PearltheQueen, so if that's you, please check your e-mail!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ABC Family (hearts) Meg Cabot

According to the News page of Meg Cabot's website, ABC Family has optioned her standalone novel Jinx as a TV movie and her Heather Wells mysteries as a series. Cabot's novels have already inspired two terrible films and one mediocre TV series, but I suppose those royalty checks (or whatever it is writers get) must be tough to turn down.

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Gossip Girl: Season One on DVD is reporting that the release date for the DVD version of the (semi-)hit show Gossip Girl is August 19th. The DVD (which retails for an eyebrow-raising $59.98, although Amazon is offering it at a considerable discount) will offer four hours' worth of extras, including unaired scenes, a gag reel, and a free download of the original Gossip Girl book read by Christina Ricci. Here's the cover art:

I'm not a fan of the books and I haven't seen more than a few minutes of the TV series (although I am a devoted reader of the show's TelevisionWithoutPity recaps), so my only reaction to this was: That red coat looks totally eighties, and not in a good way, followed by Is Christina Ricci really that hard up for cash?


Monday, May 19, 2008

A new book from a late author

I saw this at a Seattle bookstore over the weekend:

The Joys of Love is a previously unpublished coming-of-age story written by Madeleine L'Engle in the 1940s. The book includes an introduction by the author's granddaughter, who suggests that the novel's protagonist is "close to an autobiographical portrait of L'Engle herself as a young woman".

Here's the plot summary (taken from the publisher's website):
"During the summer of 1946, twenty-year-old Elizabeth is doing what she has dreamed of since she was a little girl: working in the theatre. Elizabeth is passionate about her work and determined to learn all she can at the summer theatre company on the sea where she is an apprentice actress. She’s never felt so alive. And soon she finds another passion: Kurt Canitz, the dashing young director of the company, and the first man Elizabeth’s ever kissed who has really meant something to her. Then Elizabeth’s perfect summer is profoundly shaken when Kurt turns out not to be the kind of man she thought he was."
While she's best known for her Wrinkle in Time series, L'Engle could actually write a mean melodrama, and she was exploring some eyebrow-raising YA issues long before Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret came out in 1970.


Scanlations for the people

As many of you know, we host scanlated versions of two Korean manhwa series on the main site: Banhonsa: The Spirit Returner and Absolute Witch, both by Kim Tae Yeon and both scanlated by the group #Korean-Manhwa. We've been bad about keeping things current, but the scanlations page is now fully up-to-date! Readers will find a new chapter of Absolute Witch and three new chapters of Banhonsa. (We even fixed the missing chapters in Banhonsa Vol. 1, for all you princessy types who actually care about reading things from the beginning.)

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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Quotable Austen

We got a ton of responses to our recent Jane Austen Giveaway, and were pleased to see selections from each of Austen's six novels. All of the submissions were great, so we thought we'd share a few of our favorites:

"Oh! I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other."
- Emma

"Mrs Jennings was a widow with ample jointure. She had only two daughters, both of whom she had lived to see respectably married, and she had now therefore nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world."
- Sense and Sensibility

"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope."
- Persuasion

"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"
- Pride and Prejudice

"A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of."
- Mansfield Park

"Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself, and unfixed as were her general notions of what men ought to be, she could not entirely repress a doubt, while she bore with the effusions of his endless conceit, of his being altogether completely agreeable. It was a bold surmise, for he was Isabella’s brother; and she had been assured by James that his manners would recommend him to all her sex; but in spite of this, the extreme weariness of his company, which crept over her before they had been out an hour, and which continued unceasingly to increase till they stopped in Pulteney Street again, induced her, in some small degree, to resist such high authority, and to distrust his powers of giving universal pleasure."
- Northanger Abbey

Was the woman not awesome?


Death Note promotion

I just got the following notice from VIZ Media:

"San Francisco, CA, May 15, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced that it will partner with music and pop culture retailer Hot Topic Inc. to promote the upcoming North American film debut of the live-action film, DEATH NOTE, which is based on the popular animated and manga (graphic novel) properties that have swept North America by storm. As part of the special promotion, customers who purchase a DEATH NOTE t-shirt or DVD in select Hot Topic stores will receive a free ticket to attend the film event, while supplies last. More information on the premiere of DEATH NOTE is available at"
Here's the shirt:

I'd go for the DVD, as the t-shirt is definitely not my style. On the other hand, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would wear it with pride, and I'm always a fan of the two-for-one idea. Maybe you could keep the ticket for yourself, and give the shirt as a present to an anime- or manga-loving friend?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's manga awards season!

The results of the 32nd Kodansha Awards are out, and they've selected some really great-looking stuff this year. (The Kodansha Awards have made plenty of solid picks in the past: both Tramps Like Us and Nodame Cantabile are previous Kodansha winners.) I've read scanlations of the first few chapters of this year's very cute shojo pick, Kimi no Todoke, but I'm totally unfamiliar with their general manga choice, Moyashimon--a situation that must be rectified immediately.

According to Wikipedia, Moyashimon is the story of Tadayasu Sawaki, a first-year agricultural university student with the bizarre ability to communicate with micro-organisms. In addition to the story's cast of nutjob human characters, readers also get to know Tadayasu's micro-organism buddies, including Aspergillus oryzae, the main micro-organism character (a fungus used in the production of soy sauce and miso), and Lactobacillus homohiochi, the "bad guy" of the series (a fructivoran that makes sake go bad).

Doesn't that sound awesome? And, just to make things even cooler, look how cute all the micro-organisms are:

Neither Kimi no Todoke nor Moyashimon are currently licensed in the U.S., but you can read scanlated versions of both series via IRC, and you can watch the Moyashimon anime online.

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Jane Austen Continuation Giveaway

To those of you who entered our Jane Austen Continuation Giveaway:

The contest is now over. E-mails to the winners will go out this afternoon, and we'd like to extend our sincere thanks to both the fine people at Sourcebooks and everyone who entered--both the surveys and the Austen quotes will go to good use!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vampire Knight: the anime

I'm currently watching two K-dramas (I'm marching through Dal Ja's Spring--which is utterly fantastic, by the way--while I wait for subs for the next episodes of The Last Scandal of My Life), but I take an occasional break to catch another episode of Vampire Knight:

The anime version isn't as pretty as the manga (problematic, as I've long felt that prettiness was the biggest thing the manga has going for it), but at least I know the story will be solidly wrapped up in 26 enjoyably soapy episodes. The series started in Japan in April, and subbed versions of episodes 1 - 6 are currently available through CrunchyRoll.

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Easy-bake evolution

The New York Times is currently featuring an article about a publishing boom in the children's cookbook genre. According to the author, the market for books aimed at youthful cooks is increasingly customized by age (teach your toddler to make lettuce wraps, etc.), and will soon include several books from celebrity chefs.

I love the idea of child-oriented cookbooks, but I have to wonder if parents will be willing to let their children experiment in the kitchen as food prices go up and the desire to eat organic, locally-grown food increases. It's one thing to let your kid burn some toast, but it's quite another to watch them experiment with a six-dollar cube of organic butter....

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Venus Capriccio

According to this article, the four-volume-long shojo manga Venus Capriccio has been licensed by CMX. I've really enjoyed the scanlated chapters of this romantic comedy series*, so I was chagrined to see CMX describe the project as "unscheduled". (Frequently, "unscheduled" means the story will languish in licensing purgatory for months--sometimes years--before showing up in bookstores. I'm already emotionally attached to half-a-dozen apparently defunct series; I'm not up for another.) I always encourage people to buy licensed manga... but if CMX really sits on their hands, I can't help but hope the current scanlators continue it.

*The piano-student romance storyline is cute, if a little tired, and author Mai Nishikata's artwork is gorgeously clean and sharp.


Cheap'n'easy literary cred

Offering a hipster take on the "books by the foot" concept, Urban Outfitters is currently selling an assortment of 20th century classic novels, all obviously chosen for their awesome vintage cover art. If you've always dreamt of having a well-stocked bookshelf, but don't actually, like, read, this is the perfect solution: for well under $200, you can own copies of everything from Go Ask Alice and The Neverending Story to Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Picture books for baby techies

Slate is currently featuring a slideshow about the frequently out-of-date portrayal of technology in kids' books.

The slideshow introduced me to Sylvia van Ommen's Jellybeans, which kicks off with the two main characters arranging (via text) to meet in the park for jellybeans, cocoa, and deep philosophical discussion:

Doesn't it look cute? I'm a little grossed out by the jellybeans/cocoa combo (that would definitely be an either/or choice for me), but the texting and deep philosophical conversation sound perfectly wholesome.


Hollywood matchmaking

There's been action on the Bronte movie adaptation front: according to Variety, Natalie Portman will NOT be playing the heroine in the upcoming Wuthering Heights movie, and according to BuzzSugar, Ellen Page WILL be playing Jane Eyre.

To which I reply: meh.

I have always found Natalie Portman to be an irritatingly over-hyped actress, but I've always found Wuthering Heights to be an irritatingly over-hyped book, so they seemed like a great fit. (It's not like I was planning to actually watch the movie... I just appreciated the symmetry of actor and subject.) I'm more attached to Jane Eyre, and am therefore concerned about the Page casting. I've never actually watched one of her movies*, but one wonders how an American hipster darling is going to handle period clothes and a British accent.

*I remember seeing the Juno trailer and wondering who decided the world needed a knocked-up teen girl version of Seth Cohen. Wasn't the original one overplayed enough?

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Friday, May 09, 2008


I was recently poking through the website, and I ran across this:

This framed print of an 1894 illustration featuring Mr. Collins proposing to Elizabeth Bennet (from Austen's Pride and Prejudice) costs $199.99. Now, I love me some Austen memorabilia, but the idea of spending two hundred dollars for this particular print makes me a little dizzy. Setting aside the price (which is very difficult for me to do), I can't imagine where I would put it--I like kitsch, but what room in my house is crying out to be graced by an image of Mr. Collins...?

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Mother's Day gifts for the procrastinator (Part II)

Sadly, some of us don't have $50 to spend on our mothers (even if said mothers are worth every penny). If you're shopping for Mom on a limited budget, we suggest hitting up your local Goodwill or Salvation Army for some delicious genre fiction. (Tip: Try to find paperbacks that don't smell like 1,000-year-old cigarettes.) You can usually find a solid stack of mystery or romance titles--you want at least five--for under $10. Tie the books up with some pretty ribbon* and give your mother the gift of a few afternoons' worth of mindless entertainment.

*This present works as-is, but if you're aiming for the coveted "She's the good child" position, we recommend combining it with a batch of cupcakes.

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Mother's Day Gifts for the procrastinator (Part I)

Many of us woke up this morning, glanced at our calendars, and realized: Sweet Georgia peaches, Mother's Day is this weekend. (Seriously, how did it sneak up on us like this?) So if you're in the market for a last-minute present, we're here to help.

For mothers who live far away, may we suggest a short-term membership to a Netflix-style book rental website? Sites like offer 3-month memberships for under $50. And while that isn't the world's cheapest Mother's Day option, it has one great advantage: it's an online purchase, so you don't have to ship it, which means your mother will never know that you bought it for her at the last minute!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Out and about

If you're going to be in the Portland, OR area this evening, supernatural romance/horror writers Richelle Mead and Caitlin Kittredge are going to be at the Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (the new Beaverton location) at 7:00 PM.

Powell's events calendar gives the following introduction to the authors:
"In Frostbite, the second volume in Richelle Mead's bestselling young adult Vampire Academy series, it's winter break at St. Vladimir's, and Rose is feeling anything but festive. With the deadly Strigoi closing in, Rose must learn that heroism rarely comes without a price. Welcome to Nocturne City, the town in Caitlin Kittredge's Night Life where werewolves, black magicians, and witches prowl the streets at night. Among them is Luna Wilder, a tough-as-nails police officer whose job is to keep the peace. As an Insoli werewolf, Luna travels without a pack and must rely on instinct alone."
I've never read a Kittredge novel (the story sounds fun, but was she forced to name her werewolf heroine "Luna Wilder"?), but Ms. Mead's books are a very good time!

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May Book Giveaway!

Thanks to the very generous people at Sourcebooks, Inc., five Wordcandy readers have a chance to win a copy of a Jane Austen continuation:

Good luck, dear readers. The contest ends next Wednesday, so get those responses in soon.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Behold: A low-budget vampire version of the Gossip Girl cast!

Holy moly. Are they serious?

What am I saying? This is the movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight: of course they're serious! And just because I find those poses hilarious, it doesn't mean the rest of the YA-reading-world won't find 'em 100% awesome. After all, nothing says "brooding Gothic hero" like a scowl and a set of beautifully waxed man-brows, right?

Note: I'm going to stop talking about film adaptations any day now, promise. This multiple posts a day thing is going to my head...

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret gets even more visual

According to this, Brian Selznick's graphic novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret is going to be made into a movie:

"The adaptation is being ushered into production by GK Films, whose last project was The Departed. They've recruited in-demand screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Sweeney Todd) to write the screenplay. And the film will be directed by Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots), trying to make an Andrew Adamson-like break into live-action, having mastered CGI animation. The plan is to start filming this fall, presumably with an eye toward getting the movie out by Christmas of next year." [Source]
I just realized I haven't seen a single one of the films mentioned in the above excerpt, so none of those references mean anything to me, but the author of the original post called it "'Hugo Cabret' Getting A-List Adaptation", so I'm assuming they're all big names, and therefore the final product is sure to be magnificent.

...okay, it might not be magnificent, but at least it's guaranteed to have a really, really big budget.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Picture shows

A literary movie adaptation I definitely will not be seeing*:

A literary movie adaptation I definitely will see:

Dude, Hellboy versus Lucius Malfoy's evil alien cousin?! I can hardly wait!

*Although the suspenseful guitar music is quite compelling...


House of Many Ways

Behold, the cover art for the upcoming Diana Wynne Jones release:

Thank you, fine people at HarperCollins Children's Publishing! I see they're selling it as a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle (even though Ms. Jones's website says Howl will only be making a guest appearance), but I don't care: any Diana Wynne Jones book is cause for serious and prolonged celebration. It's due out on June 10th.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson's novel The Stone Gods opens with the following lines:

"This new world weighs a yatto-gram.

But everything is trial size; tread-on-me tiny or blurred-out-of-focus huge. There are leaves that have grown as big as cities, and there are birds that nest in cockleshells. On the white sand there are long-toed clawprints deep as nightmares, and there are rock pools in hand-hollows finned by invisible fish.

Trees like skyscrapers, and housing as many. Grass the height of hedges, nuts the swell of pumpkins. Sardines that would take two men to land them. Eggs, pale-blue-shelled, each the weight of a breaking universe."
The above is a fair sample of Winterson's writing--The Stone Gods is one of the most lyrical science fiction novels I've ever read. If you're that one person in a thousand who has read and appreciated both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Milton's Paradise Lost, this is totally the book for you.

Unfortunately, Winterson's emphasis on style limits her ability to tell a satisfying story. The novel consists of three interlinked story arcs, all of which feel prematurely cut-off: a love affair between a woman and a robot on a dying planet, the tale of a sailor on Captain Cook’s Easter Island, and a group of people (namesakes of earlier characters) living in a post-apocalyptic world. The Stone Gods fearlessly explores concepts like love, human identity, and our seeming compulsion to destroy the Earth--heavy stuff to cover, particularly considering the book is a mere 206 pages long. Winterson doesn't handle all of her subject matter with equal grace, but you have to admire both the beauty of her writing and the jaw-dropping scope of her ambition.

Maximum Ride goes manga-esque

The Free Comic Book Day offering from the up-and-coming group Yen Press was a sneak preview of their manga-style adaptation of James Patterson's Maximum Ride series. I've been excited about this series for months. Patterson is a much better storyteller than he is a technical writer, so I thought a comic book version of his story would be ideal: he'd come up with the ideas, and somebody less irritating would interpret them!

Unfortunately, this new version has its own issues: the storytelling is just as streamlined and fun as I'd hoped it would be, but the character designs range from "minor letdown" to "outright creepy". The evil "Erasers" all look like Wolverine from the X-Men (seriously, Marvel could sue) and I originally thought Fang was a girl. But the biggest problem I had was the character design for eleven-year-old Nudge, who was portrayed with some serious (and amply displayed) cleavage. I took an informal poll--well, I showed the comic to the three people I've talked to today and asked them to guess the character's age--and their average guess was sixteen. I realize that we're talking about a series aimed largely at young male readers, but did they have to make a preteen so physically mature? Does it serve any plot purpose? Frankly, the whole thing gave me the heebie-jeebies.

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Wordcandy Bookshelf: the sequel

As readers of our newsletter know, starting today we will be increasing the number of daily posts on the blog. We're continuing to post Monday through Friday, but upping our post count from one post per day to two or three will give us the opportunity to complain about even more movie adaptations, while still getting our normal work done! So please check back with us later in the day, because we have a book review and some Free Comic Book Day-related whining we still need to address....


Friday, May 02, 2008

In a word: awesome

Behold, a video of a cartoon cat named Nibbles reading aloud the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice:

I didn't realize it, but I've waited my whole life to watch this.
[Via AustenBlog]


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Absolute Boyfriend: the drama version

I am not a fan of Yuu Watase's work (a friend made me watch all 8,000 episodes* of Fushigi Yugi in high school, and I've never fully recovered), but she's certainly enormously popular. Her series Absolute Boyfriend is being serialized by VIZ Media in its Shojo Beat manga anthology, and has now been made into a live-action j-drama. If you're a fan of "dramedy" romances featuring improbable love triangles (in this case, between a man, a woman, and the woman's perfect android boyfriend), you'll find this series has a lot to offer. Absolute Boyfriend can be watched via

*This might be a slight exaggeration... but it certainly felt like 8,000 episodes.

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