May 13 2013

Manicpixiedreamgirl, by Tom Leveen

In addition to being saddled with a painfully quirky title that lights up my Spellcheck like a Christmas tree, Tom Leveen’s novel Manicpixiedreamgirl features one of my least favorite YA character types: the wishy-washy teenage male. Leveen’s protagonist is high school student Tyler Darcy, a kid blessed with a long-term (by high school standards) relationship, a supportive family, and a loyal circle of friends. Tyler has literary ambitions, and...

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May 13 2013

Weekly Book Giveaway: Manicpixiedreamgirl, by Tom Leveen

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The phrase "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" gives me a rage headache, and I'm equally irritated by unconventional word spacing (WHY?!?), but Tom Leveen's Manicpixiedreamgirl has had solid reviews, so who knows? Maybe my heart will grow two sizes today, and I'll learn to love both the phrase and its lack of Strunk-and-White-approved spacing. (Spoiler: No, I won't.) Either way, Mr. Leveen's book is our current Weekly Book Giveaway selection...

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May 9 2013

A guide to adulthood

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If you're looking for a literary graduation gift, you might want to check out Kelly Williams Brown's Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. I usually give out copies of Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm (my personal Guide to Life), but this Publishers Weekly excerpt from Ms. Williams Brown's book is pretty great...

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May 9 2013

Congratulations, Ms. Tapahonso!

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In a bit of closer-to-home poetry news, the Navajo Nation has just announced its first Poet Laureate: Luci Tapahonso, a poet, college professor, and novelist whose writing often blends English with Diné, the Navajo language...

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May 8 2013

Ugh.

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The first trailer is out for the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game, but any appeal the movie might have held for me is trumped by Card's long history of being a jackass...

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May 7 2013

Poetry in space

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If you have dreams of becoming an intergalactically famous poet, now's your chance: NASA is promoting its upcoming launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN) via its "Going to Mars with MAVEN" project. Mission managers have invited the poetry-writing public to submit haiku written for the occasion...

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May 7 2013

Legal wrangling

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This is a depressing story, so I hope she wins: 87-year-old To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee says that her literary agent Samuel Pinkus (the son-in-law of her long-time agent Eugene Winick) took advantage of her poor health to trick her into signing over the copyright of her book to him...

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May 6 2013

Jane Eyre's Daughter, by Elizabeth Newark

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The front cover of Elizabeth Newark's novel Jane Eyre's Daughter features a blurb announcing that this is “A Superb Tale for Lovers of the Brontë Classic”. That's not a promotional quote from a reviewer, mind you—it came straight from the publishers, who, sadly, are somewhat overstating their case...

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May 6 2013

Weekly Book Giveaway: Jane Eyre's Daughter, by Elizabeth Newark

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The front cover of our current Weekly Book Giveaway pick, Elizabeth Newark's 2008 novel Jane Eyre's Daughter, announces that Newark's book is "A Superb Tale for Lovers of the Bronte Classic". That's usually the kind of thing you should let someone else say, but whatever...

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May 3 2013

Free Comic Book Day reminder (and helpful guide!)

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This Saturday (May 4th) is Free Comic Book Day, and NPR has put together a list of recommended titles. I realize that "free" already makes a lot of stories more appealing, but this is more helpful than it sounds: there are boatloads of comics on offer this year...

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May 2 2013

Adults behaving badly

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I had no idea that anyone wanted to make a modern-day film adaptation of Henry James's grim 1897 novel What Maisie Knew, but apparently someone did, and it should hit theaters tomorrow. I will never understand how movies based on stories like this (depressing, melodramatic, and stocked with hopelessly unappealing characters) get made, and yet no one will give me a Georgette Heyer adaptation...

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May 2 2013

A very serious yawn in the making.

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Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender have just been cast as Lord and Lady Macbeth in an upcoming movie adaptation of Shakespeare's play, according to NME. I've read several glowing...

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May 1 2013

RIP, E. L. Konigsburg.

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We've been meaning to write about children's author E. L. Konigsburg's death for a week now, but we're disorganized. Sorry, Ms. Konigsburg, no disrespect was meant—we will always love you and your glorious 1968 novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which opens with a paragraph that spoke to the very souls of thousands of nerdy, finicky children...

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Apr 30 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson

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In case you were wondering, we didn't actually plan on reviewing two books about twisted relationships between hyper-controlling men and vulnerable young girls this week. This pairing was pure serendipity—creepy serendipity, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

Set in the antebellum South, Jane Nickerson's Strands of Bronze and Gold...

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Apr 30 2013

How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate, by Wendy Moore

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Most of the critical coverage of Wendy Moore's How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate, a stranger-than-fiction account of the life of the 18th century radical Thomas Day, has focused on the biggest scandal of Day's life: his attempt to transform a 12-year-old orphan into his ideal of the perfect woman. This is totally understandable—that element of the story is pretty juicy...

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Apr 29 2013

It's a more successful combination than you'd think.

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All too frequently, the Internet is a cruel and judgmental place that provides an anonymous forum for humans to display their creepiest selves. Thankfully, the Internet is also an unending source of marvelously weird and specific gifts, like these pictures of Disney Princesses re-imagined as sloths...

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Apr 29 2013

Weekly Book Giveaway: Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson

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This week's Book Giveaway title is Jane Nickerson's Bluebeard retelling Strands of Bronze and Gold. We're planning to review Ms. Nickerson's book tomorrow, along with Wendy Moore's historical nonfiction title How To Create the Perfect Wife. Sadly, the two stories have more in common than you'd think...

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Apr 26 2013

Everyone I know is getting this for Christmas

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Earlier this month news came out that—at long, long last—Allie Brosch's Hyperbole and a Half book is finally on the way! I am ridiculously excited. Hyperbole and a Half is an Internet treasure, and I was genuinely sorry to hear about Brosch's struggles with depression...

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Apr 25 2013

Never again, Marvel. I do not forget.

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Marvel's 2011 Thor movie is, bar none, my least favorite superhero movie ever. To be fair, I liked Chris Helmsworth's enjoyably dim portrayal of the title character, Tom Hiddleston's campy take on Loki, and Kat Dennings's sunny performance as Natalie Portman's assistant. Unfortunately, literally every other character sucked...

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Apr 25 2013

Too Lifetime?

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Judy Blume's 1981 novel Tiger Eyes has been made into a movie. The film, directed by Blume's son Lawrence and co-written by the author, is due out June 7th. I've never been a huge Blume fan—most of her best-known books were written before I was born, so the buzz was long over by the time I was old enough to read them, they're too angst-ridden for my taste, and any shock value they might have had was pretty much nil in my house...

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Apr 24 2013

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly

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I avoid books about the French Revolution (angry mob stories freak me out), reading about time travel (the laws of causality!), or plots that hinge on the deaths of children (...this one is self-explanatory, right?). All three are featured in Jennifer Donnelly's YA novel Revolution, so the fact that I not only finished her book, but even found it reasonably entertaining, is a testament to...

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Apr 23 2013

Visual confusion

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Awkward! Beth Reekles's The Kissing Booth and Claire LaZebnik's The Trouble With Flirting feature strikingly similar cover art: the models are posed differently, but it's clearly the same photoshoot. This is why using stock photos can be dangerous, dear readers. These books aren't connected; they're not even from the same publisher...

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Apr 22 2013

There's a sucker born every minute

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Even for Restoration Hardware, which I think of as a veritable temple of ridiculousness, these "Grand Tomes" journals are pretty silly. Inspired by 18th century antique books, these replicas are hand-crafted, which in this case actually means hand-damaged...

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Apr 22 2013

Weekly Book Giveaway: Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly

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Our new Weekly Book Giveaway title is Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution, which we're planning to review tomorrow. If you're panting to learn more about the plot in the meanwhile, here's the official description...

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Apr 19 2013

Bad Taste in Boys and Bad Hair Day, by Carrie Harris

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If someone set out to re-write Scooby Doo as a book series aimed at teenage girls, the result would probably look a lot like Carrie Harris's Kate Grable novels: Bad Taste in Boys and Bad Hair Day. Like Scooby Doo, Harris's stories are cheerful, ridiculous, and teaming with monsters—none of which, of course, turn out to be genuinely supernatural...

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Apr 18 2013

Made for TV?

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Be still my heart: BBC America is apparently planning a miniseries adaptation of Susanna Clarke's 2004 novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, set to air in 2014. Of course, if they really want to do justice to the book...

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Apr 18 2013

Proofread, people.

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According to the Guardian, the Central Bank of Ireland recently issued a silver €10 coin commemorating James Joyce's Ulysses. Unfortunately, in addition to a portrait of the author's face and a short quotation from the book's third chapter, the coin also features an extra word, making the selection a misquote...

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Apr 17 2013

The Kissing Booth, by Beth Reekles

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The background story for Beth Reekles's debut novel The Kissing Booth is impressive. (The novel itself, on the other hand... um, we'll get to that in a minute.) Reekles, who is seventeen, started writing her story two years ago, and eventually self-published it on Wattpad, where it became the site's most-viewed teen fiction title. Random House picked up the British rights last fall, releasing The Kissing Booth as an e-book, and now...

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Apr 16 2013

Poetry in the wild

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Just in time for National Poetry Month, the New York Times has created Times Haiku, a website devoted to "serendipitous poetry" featured on the paper's front page. The paper uses an algorithm that automatically scans text for naturally-occurring haiku. Human editors pick the best options, which are posted daily...

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Apr 16 2013

Reworking Romeo and Juliet. Again.

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Hmm. A new take on Romeo and Juliet, "Adapted for Screen" by Julian Fellowes, and starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth (whom I will always think of as "Unexpectedly Hot Pip" from the Great Expectations adaptation with Scully from The X-Files)? What, exactly, does that "adapted for" credit mean? What did he change? I'm concerned, dear readers...

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