May 28 2013

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, by Galen Beckett

Galen Beckett's 2008 novel The Magicians and Mrs. Quent features a plot cobbled together from the works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Henry James, bound together by a hefty dose of classic fantasy. The end result falls short of Susanna Clarke's thematically similar Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but is readable enough in its own right...

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May 28 2013

Weekly Book Giveaway: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, by Galen Beckett

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We have approximately ten million reviews to get through this week, so we're starting with this one, which we're also offering as our Weekly Book Giveaway Pick: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, by Galen Beckett. We'll post a full review this afternoon, but my first impression is that it seems like a C-grade version of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell...

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May 23 2013

This will terrify small children.

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Northlake Public Library near Chicago is hoping to spruce up its interior with this charming (and nine feet tall) objet d'art: a massive Incredible Hulk statue. They're using crowd-sourcing to fund the project, as well as raising money for additional graphic novels and a "creation station"...

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May 23 2013

Cash for fanfiction?

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HOLY CATS: Amazon is launching a licensing and publishing program for fanfiction! According to Publishers Weekly, Amazon has already set up licensing agreements with various popular properties...

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May 22 2013

Hee. (Also, gross.)

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Tréy Sager’s ebook Fires of Siberia is apparently a real—and mind-blowing—thing*: an "old-fashioned bodice ripper romance" inspired by the life of Tea Party leader and Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Here's the official plot summary...

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May 21 2013

Starstruck, by Rachel Shukert

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Rachel Shukert's Starstruck steals most of its plot from Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, but Shukert's YA novel is a vast improvement on Susann's dour melodrama, transforming a silly and overwrought story into something smart, ambitious, and utterly engrossing...

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May 21 2013

Unexpected best-sellers

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According to THR, Scandinavian production companies Zentropa and Nordisk Film are working together on a film version of Frans G. Bengtsson's 1941 novel The Long Ships. I was surprised there was much of a demand for a cinematic adaptation of 1940s adventure story set in 10th century Sweden (particularly one with such a pulp fiction-y cover)...

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May 20 2013

Weekly Book Giveaway: Starstruck, by Rachel Shukert

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This week's Book Giveaway title is Rachel Shukert's Starstruck, which we'll be reviewing tomorrow. Shukert's book features promotional quotes from Anna Godbersen and Jillian Larkin, both of whom are known for their YA series sent in the 1920s, so I'm assuming Starstruck is set in a similar time period. (Although that's clearly Veronica Lake hair, which is totally 1940s, but maybe the artist was aiming for...

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May 16 2013

Is it three-dimensional, though?

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I have no use for this utterly awesome mobile based on the art work of Belgian children's author and illustrator Tom Schamp, but I want one. (Maybe hanging mobiles above adults' beds will become a hot design trend...?) I also want more of Schamp's books to be translated into English...

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May 16 2013

Vampy!

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Speaking of upcoming literature-to-TV transformations, NBC has unveiled the trailer for their take on Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. As far as I can tell, this show will be a 10-episode miniseries that is still set in Victorian London, but reworks the original plot...

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May 15 2013

Summer Rental, by Mary Kay Andrews

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Mary Kay Andrews's 2011 novel Summer Rental sticks to the formula that has served her so well in the past: loads of female bonding, a love story, a woman-in-peril subplot, and a healthy dash of angst. Lifelong friends Ellis, Dorie, and Julia have made plans to spend a month together in a North Carolina beach rental, hoping for a break from their respective personal and career problems. Maryn Shackleford is a total stranger, but...

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May 14 2013

More John Christopher

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According to Publishers Weekly, the late science fiction author John Christopher is having his backlist digitized and several of his older books republished, including his famous Tripods trilogy from the late sixties...

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May 14 2013

More prime-time fairytales

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ABC is pinning their hopes on more fairytale action: they've ordered a spin-off of their popular series Once Upon a Time based on Alice in Wonderland, creatively titled Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Here's the cast list and official synopsis...

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May 13 2013

Manicpixiedreamgirl, by Tom Leveen

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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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