Monday, February 28, 2011

Left by the wayside

The Guardian has posted a great slideshow of their choices for the 10 Best Neglected Literary Classics. I'm a little taken aback by how many of these books are about young women living alone with unpleasant fathers (is that, like, a uniquely English scenario?), but I'll be keeping an eye out for at least three of 'em...

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Admittedly awesome

Filmmaker Danny Boyle has been working on a stage version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and it sounds gimmicky but cool: it will feature relatively big-name stars (Johnny Lee Miller and Atonement's Benedict Cumberbatch), music by the techno duo Underworld, and halfway through the play's run (on March 24th) the two main actors will switch roles.

Plus, for those of us who can't afford to fly out to wherever this sucker is playing, the play will be broadcast live in HD via satellite on 375 screens world-wide on March 17, including on 85 screens in the United States. (Click here to see if it's playing in a theater near you.)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Everybody's doing it

Huh. The Go Fug Yourself ladies have apparently written a young-adult book.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Whoa: posting negative reviews can lead to book critics being sued for criminal libel?!

All we've ever gotten from posting negative reviews is a handful of equally negative author e-mails. (Well, and sometimes authors have trashed us on their blogs.) Hopefully that doesn't change, because we're not exactly making money hand over fist here...

[Via the Read Roger blog]


Friday, February 18, 2011

A "romantic" comedy, sans romance

Another book-to-movie adaptation I will not be watching:

Ugh. I hate books where infidelity is excused because the "other woman" is unpleasant, and this one looks even more irritating than most. Kate Hudson's character might be selfish and vacant, but I hope her cheating boyfriend and spineless friend end up together—not because I want them to be happy, but because two such weak characters totally deserve each other.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A book-to-movie adaptation for the Tea Party crowd

Huh. Apparently, a film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged actually got made:

When I first heard about this project, it was a big-budget production rumored to star Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. That clearly tanked, so the filmmakers settled for casting a bunch of D-grade actors best known for their work on shows like Star Trek and One Tree Hill instead. I'm pretty sure I would find both versions unwatchable, but this one looks so atrocious I'm surprised it wasn't a direct-to-DVD release.

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Going gently into the good night

Well, the death knell has been struck: Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company plans to close about 200 (out of 642) stores over the next few weeks, all of which will be "superstores".

...clearly, not super enough.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Goodbye, Lois Lane.

According to Publishers Weekly's The Beat, Joanne Siegel, widow of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and and the woman who inspired the Lois Lane character, passed away yesterday. Siegel was 93, and spent the past several years involved in a long-running legal battle over the rights to Superman. Joanne and her husband (who died in 1992) are survived by their daughter, Laura Siegel Larson.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

I do like her haircut, though.

I've never been particularly impressed by Emma Watson's acting, but maybe I'm alone in that: she's apparently starring in two buzzed-about YA movie adaptations: Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Catherine Fisher's Icarceron.

I'm far more interested in the latter, which sounds like it should feature lots of special effects and sci-fi-y twists. The former sounds weepy (one strike!), melodramatic (two strikes!), and will co-star the dread Logan Lerman (twenty-seven strikes!), who played the title character in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. (Admittedly, I don't remember his acting in that atrocity being that bad, but I hated the movie so much I don't think I'd be able to stomach watching him in something else.)

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Tween romance... or not?

I ran across this cover art mystery via Read Roger, The Horn Book editor's always-entertaining blog. According to Publishers Weekly, Phoebe Stone's The Romeo and Juliet Code is a "intricate and lyrical novel, set during WWII, [which resembles] The Secret Garden in all the best ways." Check it out:

Their description totally makes me want to read this book, but nothing about that cover suggests Secret Garden, historical novel, or "intricate and lyrical", as far as I'm concerned.


Friday, February 11, 2011

X-men... back in the day

Okay, forget the Captain America stuff. This I'm excited about:

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Thursday, February 10, 2011


My beloved Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon laid off 31 employees (a full 7% of their unionized workforce) on Tuesday. Powell's management released a statement explaining that the layoffs were due to "adverse conditions", which they expect to continue for a number of years.

Man, how depressing...

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Check out the Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator, yet another testament to the total (and sometimes glorious) randomness of the Internet.

The North Korean one's my favorite, but this one's good, too:

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

It's been so long.

Thank goodness: someone's making a movie adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story!

It's been, what, fifteen minutes since the last one? I was beginning to worry the Hollywood PTB had run out of source material.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Trendiness building upon trendiness...

...resulting in this:



Holiday contest

In honor of Valentine's Day, romance novelists Lisa Kleypas and Teresa Medeiros are giving away a wi-fi Kindle and a wi-fi Nook. To enter, make sure you're a member (Fan? Follower? Whatever they call it...) of both authors' Facebook pages by midnight on February 14th.

One winner will receive a Kindle, another will win the Nook, and both will receive e-book copies of the authors' most recent releases: Kleypas's Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor and Medeiros's Goodnight Tweetheart. Click here for details, and good luck!

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Monday, February 07, 2011

The Gallagher Girls series, by Ally Carter

I charged through Ally Carter's YA caper novel Heist Society like a rhinoceros on a mission, so I was hoping her Gallagher Girls series would prove equally absorbing. Unfortunately, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You and its sequel, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, were disappointingly light on plot despite the charms of their "teen girls at spy school" premise. Happily, the series won me over with its third book, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover. It has plot developments oozing out of its ears, making it an excellent pick for reluctant readers and balancing out the flimsiness of the two earlier installments.

The Gallagher Girls books are told from the perspective of Cammie Morgan, a high school student attending the Gallagher Academy, a top-secret boarding school for female spies-in-training. Cammie has spent years studying hand-to-hand combat, foreign languages, and advanced encryption, but her real skill is the ability to fade into a crowd. She's a gifted pavement artist—a spy who specializes in following people in public.

The first book in the series focuses on Cammie's feelings for Josh, a civilian boy with a gift for picking her out of a crowd despite her spy training. One wonders if Carter originally intended to make their relationship an ongoing one, but by book two Josh has been replaced by Zach, a mysterious spy-in-training from the Blackthorne Institute, the male equivalent of the Gallagher Academy. Carter might have been better off condensing the first two books into one. As it is, the romantic drama from the first is a non-starter in the second, and the two books feature embarrassingly similar climax sequences. Combining the stories would have created more personal conflict—which boy should Cammie pursue?—and given that poor, overused plot climax a rest. (Plus, it would have saved me nine bucks. What is up with charging $8.99 for a 288-page paperback, Hyperion?!?) Thankfully, book three finally gets the plot moving. There are new enemies, deepening relationships, and a fun twist ending, making it a huge step forward for the series.

I'll be reviewing the fourth Gallagher Girls book on the main site tomorrow. It features the series' best blend of plot elements and relationship evolution to date, and I really enjoyed reading it. However, if you're unwilling to wade through hundreds of pages of pointless teen angst just to get to the butt-kicking/name-taking bits, skip this series entirely and pick up a copy of Heist Society instead. It's cheaper*, it works as a standalone novel (although Carter is planning a sequel), and it offers a similar blend of romance, suspense, and cheesy-fun action.

*Amazon is currently selling it for a mere $6.80!

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Like a Ken doll on steriods

I don't know why, but I'm totally excited about this, even though I actually found the beefed-up version of Chris Evans a little off-putting. (Hey, those mega-shoulders make his head look tiny.) Behold:

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

The fall of civilization

According to Publishers Weekly, second-quarter earnings at HarperCollins have fallen, although they claim their children's department (which produces titles ranging from the Pretty Little Liars series to Erin Hunter's Warriors books) has done "extremely well"—thanks largely to a Justin Bieber biography and two titles by former MTV reality starlet Lauren Conrad.

What, no Kardashian memoirs?

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Snow White and Jet Li

And speaking of poorly-conceived reworkings of classic plots, Disney is apparently in talks to develop a new live-action version of Snow White. This fresh take on the fairytale would feature seven warriors (one of whom would apparently be played by Jet Li), rather than seven dwarves, and is rumored to star Natalie Portman.

I could get behind the warrior thing, but I just can't stomach Natalie Portman's vacant screen presence. I'd rather see almost any other actress in this role—even Megan Fox. Seriously: anyone else.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Wonder Woman pining in her pajamas?

Here's hoping this description of David E. Kelley's script for his upcoming Wonder Woman TV show is grossly exaggerating things. Or a joke. Or something. Because that just sounds embarrassing.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hopefully he'll wear something pretty...

Award-winning graphic novelist (and Wordcandy favorite) Shaun Tan's movie The Lost Thing has been nominated for an Oscar in the Short Film (Animated) category. Behold:

Our sincerest congratulations, Mr. Tan.


Painful to behold

Whoo boy: Borders is now delaying January's payments to vendors and landlords. Things are not looking good.

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