Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Walk in the Woods Film Opens in September

There is something warm and woodsy and deeply filmic about Bill Bryson’s 1997 book A Walk in the Woods, a memoir of his own long walk along the Appalachian Trail.

January Magazine interviewed Bryson when the book first came out, prefacing our interview with an introduction:
The book is about his adventures along the Appalachian Trail, the mammoth American wilderness trail that runs over 2000 miles and through 14 eastern states. It's the longest continuous footpath in the world and snakes through some of the most renowned landscapes in the United States: the Smokey Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, the Great North Woods of Maine and the Berkshires. The Appalachian Trail is no one's idea of a walk in the woods: there are bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants... it's more than a stroll in the park.
A feature film based on the book opens in September. Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman and Kristen Schaal star.

See the full piece here. January Magazine’s 1997 interview with Bryson is here.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Third Times the Charm for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

Back in 2003, the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s steampiunkish comic series, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, made for a notably awful film starring Sean Connery. Then it was developed as an unsuccessful Fox television series in 2013. But Tracking-Board is optimistic that a third comic reboot will see Fox getting lucky:
Perhaps, the third times a charm for THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. After a lackluster feature film in 2003, and a failed attempt to kick of f a TV series in 2013, 20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment have decided to go back to the source, planning to reboot a potential franchise based on Alan Moore’s comic book series.
The critically and commercially successful comic book series follows Mina Murray, who is recruited by Campion Bond to assemble a league of other extraordinary individuals to protect the interests of the Empire. Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll and Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man team up with Murray to form an off-color group of outcasts that use their powers and skills to save the world from destruction. The award-winning series ran fifteen issues and two graphic novels. 
See the full piece here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Non-Fiction: Fully Charged by Tom Rath

Tom Rath creates self-help books aimed at the Ted Talk generation. Millions of people have read -- and apparently benefited from -- Rath’s nine books to date including Eat Move Sleep, How Full Is Your Bucket and Strengths Based Leadership.

Newly out, Are You Fully Charged? (Silicon Guild) challenges you “to stop pursuing happiness and start creating meaning instead, lead you to rethink your daily interactions with the people who matter most, and show you how to put your own health first in order to be your best every day.” Rath sums up the premise early on:
When you are fully charged, you get more done. You have better interactions. Your mind is sharp, and your body is strong. On days when you are fully charged, you experience high levels of engagement and well-being. This charge carries forward, creating an upward cycle for those you care about.
Rath says that he and his team “reviewed countless articles and academic studies, and interviewed some of the world’s leading scientists. We identified more  than 2,600 ideas for improving daily experience.” As they worked through these various items, they discovered that “three key conditions differentiate days when you have a full charge from typical days.”

The three key conditions are as follows:

• Meaning: doing something that benefits another person
• Interactions: creating far more positive than negative moments
• Enrgy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health

Are You Fully Charged i filled with the positive forward moving energy that is Rath’s trademark. No matter what you do with the information in the book, you can’t help but feeling engaged and energized while reading. There’s a reason he’s sold so many books. This is well thought out, positive stuff. ◊

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Mr. Holmes Hit With Law Suit

Mr. Holmes, a film directed by Bill Condon and starring Ian McKellen and based on a book by Mitch Cullin has been hit with a lawsuit. From Entertainment Weekly:

The plot has thickened for Mr. Holmes, the upcoming film based on the later life of the world’s most famous detective, and not in a good way. The estate of Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle is suing Miramax, Roadside Attractions, director Bill Condon, author Mitch Cullin, and Penguin Random House for copyright infringement.
The film, starring Ian McKellen in the titular role, is focused on Sherlock Holmes’ later years as a retired man contemplating his life while getting involved in an unsolved mystery.
In the legal documents obtained by EW, it is stated that the first 50 of Conan Doyle’s short stories and novels are in the public domain, but the last 10 are still protected by copyright in the United States. Those stories are the ones that “develop the details of Holmes’ fictional retirement and change and develop the character of Holmes himself.” That’s a problem because the estate is asserting that Cullin’s book A Slight Trick of the Mind, which the film Mr. Holmes is based on, is based on these copyrighted stories.
The film is set for a July 17th release. Read the full story is here.


Homer’s Odyssey to Get Hunger Games Treatment

Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus  (1891) 
by John William Waterhouse
It’s no secret that epic book-based franchises like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games did really, really well on the large screen. It’s no wonder that filmmakers continue looking for book-based series of movies that will slot in as simply and do as well as these earlier films. Enter Lionsgate’s adaptation of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. From Collider:
This year, Lionsgate finds itself in the same position that Warner Bros. was in a few years back. Its golden goose franchise—The Hunger Games—is coming to an end, and the studio is trying to find ways to bolster up its slate. Given that Catching Fire and Mockingjay – Part 1 were the #1 and #2 movies, respectively, of 2013 and 2014, it’s certainly gonna hurt not to have that kind of revenue coming in next year. But the studio is doing all it can to get some new franchises going, and fresh off this morning’s news that Now You See Me 3 is already in development comes word that the studio’s upcoming adaptation of The Odyssey will span a number of films.
Read the full piece here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

This Just In… Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras

Sixteen-year-old Iris Moody has a problem controlling her temper -- but then, she has a lot to be angry about. Dead mother. Workaholic father. Dumped by her boyfriend. Failing English.

When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities but with the law.

In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. Iris believes she is nothing like Roman, the three-legged pit bull who is struggling to overcome his own dark past, not to mention the other humans in the program. But when Roman's life is on the line, Iris learns that counting on the help of others may be the only way to save him.

With sparkling prose and delightful humor, Jennifer Caloyeras’s novel beautifully portrays the human-animal bond.

You can order Strays here. Visit author Jennifer Caloyeras on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


“All About the Bass” Parody Celebrates Books

A video created for a bookstore in the hamlet of Chilliwack, British Columbia has gone viral, including a push from Ellen Dengeres’ EllenNation.

A parody of “All About the Bass” by Megan Trainor, “All About the Books (No Kindle)” celebrates the written word. According to The Chilliwack Times, the video isn’t the first the production team has made for The Book Man, but it’s the first music video.
[Producer Emily] Hamel-Brisson said she was looking at what other book stores around North America do “that is really funky.” 
“We want The Book Man to not just be a book store but a place where people think of as cool and fresh and interesting,” she said. “It’s just something to promote the store and to get people who are creative out there doing something.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Falling in Love With Books All Over Again

An elegant Tokyo bookstore helps readers fall back in love with the written word. From Medium:
… I was more than a little surprised when I recently entered the flagship Tokyo store of a multimedia chain called Tsutaya, and saw throngs of people eagerly crowding the magazine section. The store, in the Daikanyama district, felt like a testament to the continued power and relevance of the written word — a place where browsing, reading, and buying books and magazines was a popular and pleasurable experience.
It’s not just that Tsutaya feels more upscale than other bookstores. It’s that it celebrates words and books, and the people who read and write them, in a thoughtful, seductive, and ultra-contemporary way. 
Don’t get me wrong: This is a business, not a cultural institution. It sells books from 7:00 am till 2:00 am every day of the week, closing only to clean and restock. And it’s always packed. This first location has proved such a hit that another site has already opened in the Kanagawa area outside Tokyo, with a third outpost soon to debut in nearby Futakotamagawa district.
Read the full piece here.


Children’s Books: The Form That Evil Takes

There is no evil like that found in children’s books. Unrelenting, unapologetic, unrestrained and pure, the baddies in kid’s books don’t need any excuses and don’t seek to apologize. As a clan, they tend to be bad to the bone. In The Guardian, author William Sutcliffe notes that:
When writing for adults, every character, however malevolent, has to have a nuanced motivation behind the choices they make. Only when writing for children can you give full rein to pure, unadulterated wickedness. Children’s literature is filled with preposterously nasty people who are motivated by greed, sadism, vengeance and hatred.
Here is Sutcliff’s Top Ten list of ways to be bad in books for kids:
1. Kidnap
2. Hating Children
3. Killing the protagonist
4. Eating the Protagonist
5. Skinning the protagonists
6. Anarchism
7. Disliking Christmas
8. Sending children to bed with no dinner
9. Dictatorial tendencies
10. Being Spoilt
Clearly all of these require explanation. The full piece is here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Trailer You’ve Been Waiting For: True Detective

Waiting for a preview glimpse of True Detective season two? Wait no more.

We’ve previously written about the new season here and here.


Monday, May 11, 2015

The Downside of Electronic Books

The amorphous nature of e-books is causing consumers some concern. This according to Michael Kozlowski, Editor-in-Chief of Good e-Reader. Complicated e-book licensing issues and the tenuous nature of some providers make faith in the format difficult to maintain.
It is my belief that consumers are losing confidence in e-books because so many stores are closing and taking their purchases with them. In other cases they are sick of all the Apple anti-trust and Amazon vs the world drama. Others are pissed they can’t loan out e-books to friends or find themselves locked into one specific ecosystem and can’t transfer their purchases to other phones they buy, due to DRM.
Major publishers are also reporting diminished sales when it comes to e-books. In a recent financial earnings report Simon & Schuster stated that e-book sales only increased by one percentage point in the last three months, while HarperCollins said sales were  down 3%.
In the last few years I have gravitated away from exclusively buying e-books and am buying print again. Apparently, I am not alone.  Nielsen BookScan, which tracks what readers are buying, found the number of paper books sold went up 2.4% last year.
You can see the full piece here.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

True Detective Debuts June 21st

The much anticipated second season of True Detective will begin airing Sunday June 21st at 9 pm.

In the first of eight episodes, a bizarre murder brings together three law-enforcement officers and a career criminal. Each of them must navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California.

Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch star. Written by series creator Nic Pizzolatto, the first two episodes were directed by Justin Lin.


This Just In… Orphan in America Author: Nanette L. Avery

Orphan in America follows three generations across vast distances and through the impact of a dark and unfamiliar episode of America’s past; the Orphan Train. 

Set in the 1800s, Orphan in America extends far beyond the genre of historical fiction. This odyssey begins with Alex, an innocent young boy, living in the slums of New York. Like thousands of other children who were transported from overcrowded cities on the Eastern Seaboard during the mid-1800s, Alex is removed from a life of poverty, put on the Orphan Train, and sent to start a new life in America’s heartland. But despite the best intentions of a project meant to improve children’s lives, Alex’s world is forever changed as he is snatched away from his loving yet impoverished parents. 

Alex is quick to see the advantages of adapting to the ways of the rugged pioneers of Missouri -- at least on the outside. But soon his life is intertwined with the tale of Will and Libby Piccard’s flight from rural England and their relationship with the powerful Cambridge family of Baltimore. 

Murder, intrigue, and misfortune collide, unraveling the relentless efforts by Alex’s father to reunite his family and the young boy caught up in a scheme of deception. Avery’s expressive language and fully realized staging enrich this literary work with an authenticity that brings the saga to life. 

You can order Orphan in America here. Visit author Nanette L. Avery on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Friday, May 08, 2015

This Just In… Autumn Quotes by Caroline Clemens

A Poetry collection displayed with care for the seasons of our lives. 

From our beginnings in Summer Love we follow ideas to the Spring Spirit in all of us. Maturity and wisdom blend for an adventure into Autumn Quotes, which then, finally, we arrive at Winter’s Fin. 

The tulip tree or Japanese Maple on the cover represents to me that burst of life some of us are lucky enough to be gifted, and in so doing we are ignited with endless energy for our pursuits. I often wondered why the tulip tree was my favorite spring blossom and now I know why.

You can order Autumn Quotes: Poetry For The Seasons of Our Lives here. Visit author Caroline Clemens on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Books for Kids Up, Celeb Memoirs Down

A recent article in The Guardian reports that, in the UK, there has been a “decline in biography and cookbook sales, while children’s literature in print” has risen by 10 per cent.

As the piece points out, there was a time when publishers knew all they had to do was sign up a big name and get the book out by Christmas. Recent data indicates those days are gone.

Overall in the UK, non-fiction was down, but books for kids were up across all categories:
Sales of children’s books in print were up 10% to £328m, defying expectations that under-18s would abandon paper books for screen reading.
Children’s fiction provided the industry’s biggest-selling book, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The love story narrated by a 16-year-old cancer patient was turned into a Hollywood film and sold 900,000 paperbacks in 2014 – outselling the latest offerings from Lee Child, Kate Atkinson and Donna Tartt.
The full piece is here.


This Just In… Into the Vines by Kim Troike

Into the Vines is a novel of discovery, personal triumph and heroism. 

French Bleu, a vintage-jazz nightclub in Paris offers a reprieve to its inhabitants from death, illness and captivity. Olivier is a pilot who rescues stranded and desperate souls from famine and war torn areas of Africa, while Daniela, a young nurse, seeks that which is amiss in her own life. Brie, a strong woman, must find a destiny which awaits her own ambition. She celebrates a milestone birthday after encountering an illness, bringing grace and experience in her search for something more. Daniela dreamed. “I want to be as confident as Brie on a sunny day in Savannah in the summertime.” 

From the vineyard cooking school in the garden-like Loire Valley, where these three lives meet, to the streets of Paris, where fate brings blessings from angst and longing, Into the Vines revels in realism. 

You can order Into the Vines here. Visit author Kim Troike on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Thursday, May 07, 2015

Zeitgest Essential in Storytelling

She is, of course, aiming her comments at screenplays, but “storytelling guru” Bobette Buster has advice for anyone trying to tell a story in a compelling, meaningful way. In a piece for SSN called “How to Ignite Audience Word-of-Mouth Through Story, No Matter the Genre,” Buster writes:
Zeitgest is an essential component in storytelling. Zeitgeist is often translated as “spirit of the age.” But I read that Einstein once translated it as, really meaning “ the rotten nerve of the age.” (I prefer that definition.) We all feel the “rotten nerve of the age” – but most of us are too afraid to name it, or can’t yet find the word for what’s unsettling us. So, we turn to facts.
And, Buster says, genre has no bearing on these facts:
Stories work from zeitgeist word-of-mouth – the storyteller dares to speak the truth of our times in dangerous new ways. Genre does not matter. Only broadcasting the unspoken truth in an audacious way counts -- to the audience. 
Buster is taking part in the SSN Storyteller lecture series, “Deconstructing the Masters,” starting June 2. Click here for tickets and to learn more. She is the author of How to Tell Your Story So the World Listens (Do Book Company) and we all want to know about that.


This Just In… The Grace of Crows by Tracy Shawn

The Grace of Crows is an award-winning novel about how an anxiety-ridden woman finds happiness in the most unexpected way.

Tormented with irrational fear, Saylor Crawmore tries every cure: from self-help books and therapy to medication. Nothing has worked and she’s desperate for an answer. 

Along with Saylor’s anxiety, she must navigate the ongoing drama between the troubled generations of her family. Her aging mother’s narcissism, her teenage children’s compulsions, and her husband’s need to pretend everything is okay, all compound her debilitating fears. 

When Saylor discovers her childhood friend Billy, homeless and ignored since his teens, her world begins to shift. The encounter sparks Saylor’s journey to gain insight into her strange fears and helps her to forge the power to overcome them. 

You can order The Grace of Crows here. Visit author Tracy Shawn on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Alice Notley Wins $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

Alice Notley has been awarded the 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Established in 1986, the prize recognizes the outstanding lifetime achievement of a living U.S. poet. At $100,000, it is also one of the nation’s largest literary prizes.

The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation who is also the publisher of Poetry magazine. The award will be presented, along with the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, at a ceremony at the Poetry Foundation on Monday, June 8. The winner of the award for poetry criticism will be announced later this month.

Born in 1945, Alice Notley is recognized as one of America’s greatest living poets. From her Poetry Foundation bio:
She has long written in narrative and epic and genre-bending modes to discover new ways to explore the nature of the self and the social and cultural importance of disobedience. The artist Rudy Burckhardt once wrote that Notley may be “our present-day Homer.” 


News Corp. Head Gives Go Set a Watchman the Nod

The Telegraph reported it, but we’re not sure it’s news:
Robert Thomson, the head of News Corp., which owns Go Set a Watchman publisher HarperCollins, expects the novel to take the world by storm.
Maybe not the most unbiased reader that could be found?

It is probably bigger news that Barnes & Noble is planning a special event around Harper Lee’s debut novel, set for May 14. From The Wall Street Journal (another News Corp. vehicle, BTW):
… Barnes & Noble … said it will host a discussion of Ms. Lee’s debut novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” on May 14th at all of its 649 consumer stores nationwide. The novel, originally published in 1960, has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, according to HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp.

“Go Set a Watchman” is set in the 1950s during a period of civil rights unrest in Alabama and features Scout, a key character in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as an adult. “Go Set a Watchman” ranked No. 8 on Barnes & Noble’s best-seller list Wednesday morning.

HarperCollins earlier said it will print 2 million copies of the new novel, depending on orders. Barnes & Noble apparently wants to make sure it gets its fair share of sales. In addition to the book discussion on May 14, the book retailer is hosting a related movie discussion at all its stores on June 18, followed by a read-a-thon of Ms. Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel on July 13.
January Magazine has previously written about Go Set a Watchman here and here and here.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Romance Novelists as Literary Rock Stars

Love Between the Covers, a new film by Laurie Kahn (Tupperware!, A Midwife’s Tale), shows the romance writing industry to be “one of the last meritocracies left on the planet.”

In the current issue, Macleans magazine takes a close look at Kahn’s documentary, which is debuting right now at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto.
Romance writers may get little respect from the literary world, but they are, without a doubt, its rock stars. “We don’t really care what the establishment thinks, because we’re paying off our houses,” says Bates. “Readers vote with their wallets. I think the big-publisher business models will have to become more author-friendly if they want to retain their authors.” 
Or perhaps they’ll have to embrace diversity. The notion that steampunk, for example, wouldn’t sell, or would be too difficult to market, is a sensibility at odds with other forms of popular entertainment—from television to Hollywood movies—where many producers have realized that diverse ideas and new voices do well in the mainstream. Because publishers sell books to retailers, as opposed to readers themselves, they have an often confused perception of what readers want and who reads what.
The full piece is here. You can view a trailer below.

Chinese Reading Up, But Digital Wins Out

A survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication has shown that while the amount of time Chinese spent on reading books, newspapers and magazines all increased in 2014, digital media have overtaken traditional books as the most read media in China.
The survey, conducted from September, polled the reading habits of about 35,500 adults in 29 provincial divisions. From
The survey … revealed that 51.8 percent of the respondents read on their mobile phones while 49.4 percent on ordinary computer and 5.3 percent on e-reader such as a Kindle. 
Tablet computers were first listed this year and 9.9 percent of those surveyed used them.
Digital reading has picked up quickly. In 2008, only about 24.5 percent of respondents read digitally. About 22.3 percent of Chinese adults read e-books in 2014, up from 19.2 percent in previous year.
Each person read 3.22 e-books on average, up from 2.48 in 2013, while 4.56 books were read per capita in 2014, slightly down from 4.77 in 2013.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Crime Fiction: The Lady from Zagreb
by Philip Kerr

The 10th entry in Philip Kerr’s impressive Bernie Gunther historical crime series, The Lady from Zagreb (Putnam) finds the former Berlin homicide detective as one of many people who have come to serve Nazi masters during World War II, and who constantly strive to walk the narrow (and dangerous) path between following outrageous orders and maintaining some vestige of personal integrity. In his new outing Gunther does both. In the process, he alternates between solving more than one murder … and adding to the death toll himself when it proves necessary.

This tale begins in 1956, on the French Riviera, but initially has Gunther recalling the events of an earlier time -- the mid-1940s -- and his brief but intense relationship with a devastatingly beautiful Croatian actress named Dalia Dresner. The story soon returns abruptly to Berlin during that same era, just after the infamous Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich’s security chief in Bohemia and Moravia, was mortally wounded by Czech patriots, an act that incited horrific reprisals by the Nazis.

In the midst of this turmoil the Germans, of all people, have arranged an international crime conference, and its organizer, General Arthur Nebe, has tapped Gunther to be the keynote speaker. He’s been ordered to give a talk on a well-known case in which he ran to earth a notorious strangler. Gunther does not miss the irony of focusing on a lone killer’s actions in the face of the much more significant atrocities being perpetrated at that very moment by Nazi commanders. Adding to this macabre piece of theater, the conference is taking place at Wannsee, the very Berlin suburb where senior Nazi officials had earlier met to determine the fate of Germany’s -- and indeed, Europe’s -- Jewish population.

During the conference Gunther is introduced to Paul Meyer-Schwertenbach, a Swiss policeman and crime writer who takes a professional interest in Gunther’s work. Kerr’s protagonist is drawn reluctantly into playing host to the officer and his assistant during their visit. But when an elderly lawyer is murdered nearby, Gunther begins to wonder if those two might have been involved.

Meanwhile, Joseph Goebbels, the Reich’s Minister of Truth and Propaganda, has become besotted with motion-picture actress Dahlia Dresner. She’d been a star with German film production company UFA, but has since gone to live in Zürich, Switzerland. Goebbels wants her to make a film for him. The problem is, Dahlia isn’t interested. Goebbels dispatches Gunther to Switzerland with carte blanche to persuade her otherwise, but fearing that the headstrong ex-cop might, like so many before him, fail to return, Goebbels arranges for a hostage to remain behind as an incentive.

Complicating the plot further, Nazi General Walter Schellenberg “asks” (a word that has a special connotation in Adolf Hitler’s Germany) Gunther to pick up a brand-new Mercedes-Benz roadster from the factory and drive it to Zürich, a gift for Meyer-Schwertenbach. It seems that, despite their famous neutrality, the Swiss are involved with the Germans in some sort of arrangement, and Gunther figures the roadster is meant to sweeten the deal.

Before The Lady from Zagreb reaches its conclusion, Gunther will find himself in some very strange company, searching Yugoslavia for a Catholic priest, or maybe a Slavic war criminal -- he’s not sure which -- who’s trying to convince shadowy interrogators that he’s not a high-ranking Nazi officer, while he endeavors to avoid the Swiss police. It will require all of Gunther’s wits to survive, let along succeed in his several missions.

This yarn eventually returns to the Riviera in 1956, where Gunther will be reunited with someone from the events of the ’40s, before it reaches an end that fits perfectly with the jaded plot line and leaves the reader wanting more.

Left: Novelist Philip Kerr, photographed by Ali Karim

As we’ve come to expect from Philip Kerr, his latest book, though nominally a work of fiction, is based solidly and uncompromisingly on fact. The major characters are all drawn from the events of the day, and run the gamut from Germans to Swiss to Slavs to Americans, though in some cases the names have been changed. As a result, the reader is left with a clear idea of how things worked and who shaped them during the yarn’s time frame. And in a bonus at the end, Kerr describes the post-war fate of many of the real-life figures in this story.

Peppered with dark humor and dialogue fueled by its protagonist’s insolence, The Lady from Zagreb will have readers wondering constantly just how far Bernie Gunther can -- or will -- go before he crosses the line and prompts his Nazi bosses to get rid of him. Kerr has done the nigh-impossible: given readers an admirable figure who is more than a little flawed, and set his actions against a background of the brutalities of the Third Reich and all the other horrors of war. It is a superb example of “Nazi noir,” the narrative and dialogue echoing the glib, cynical interplay we have come to admire in the great period noir classics of the silver screen. With seeming effortlessness, Kerr weaves together a complex tale that moves from the corridors of the Nazi hierarchy, where everything is black or white, to the morally ambiguous arena occupied by generally ordinary folk on the fringes of power, people who are trying desperately to stay alive. The real trick is figuring out who belongs in which camp. As Bernie Gunther says,
Evil doesn’t come wearing evening dress and speaking with a foreign accent. It doesn’t have a scar on its face and a sinister smile. It rarely if ever owns a castle with a laboratory in the attic, and it doesn’t have joined-up eyebrows and gap teeth. The fact is, it’s easy to recognize an evil man when you see him: he looks just like you or me.
The Lady from Zagreb is, hands down, the best thing I’ve read for many months -- if not longer. ◊

Jim Napier is a crime-fiction reviewer based in Quebec. His book reviews and author interviews have appeared in several Canadian papers as well as on such websites as Spinetingler Magazine, The Rap Sheet, Shots, Crime Time, Reviewing the Evidence and Napier also has an award-winning crime-fiction site, Deadly Diversions.

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Invisible Man Reboot Set for Production

H.G. Wells’ classic The Invisible Man is getting ready to go into production at Sony, reports Tracking Board, with Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick set to produce.

The original novel, published in 1897, followed the character of Griffin and his descent into madness upon becoming invisible as the result of a scientific experiment. Griffin becomes corrupted by his new power, and uses it to cause anarchy. The studio is developing a new spin that will make the Invisible Man the villain of the film, with the audience following the hero that is tasked to hunt him down. 
This new project is, of course, not the first film version of The Invisible Man:
The iconic character was first brought to life by Claude Rains in the 1933 Universal horror film of the same title directed by James Whale. The character has since become an iconic “monster” for the studio, spawning multiple sequels, including The Return of The Invisible Man starring Vincent Price in 1940. The Sony project is unrelated to Universal’s shared monster universe, which is currently developing a separate project featuring the character. The concept of the novel has been the inspiration for numerous thrillers, including Hollow Man, which starred Kevin Bacon. Other projects include 1992’s Memoirs of the Invisible Man, which starred Chevy Chase and the Invisible Man Syfy series that aired between 2000 and 2002. 
Read the Tracking Board piece here. Cinemablend adds their two bits here.


Reese Witherspoon Will Narrate Harper Lee Novel

Actress Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde, Water For Elephants) will set her hand to narration for the first time for the audiobook edition of Harper Lee’s hotly anticipated second novel, Go Set a Watchman.

In a statement, Witherspoon said she is looking forward to the challenge. “As a Southerner, it is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired my childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch.”

Witherspoon was born in New Orleans and partly raised in Nashville. Her roles have included Southern characters, including roles in Sweet Home Alabama and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line.

January Magazine has previously written about Go Set a Watchman here and here.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Fiction: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

True charm and genuine innovation mark the debut novel of Pushcart Prize-winning author, Cynthia Swanson.

In Sliding Doors style, The Bookseller (Harper) tells the twinned stories of two women in the early 1960s. In 1962 Denver, 38-year-old Kitty Miller lives an austere life. By day she runs a bookshop with her best friend. By night the unmarried bookseller mostly hangs out with her cat and reads.

In 1963 Denver, Katharyn Andersson is the wife of Lars, the man of her dreams. Their life is perfect and looks exactly like the life Kitty once dreamed of for herself. The catch? Katharyn’s life only exists in Kitty’s dreams.

And Kitty has dreamed a beautiful, seductive place. The more time she spends there, the more the lines between fantasy and reality begin to fade.

Swanson writes beautifully, compellingly and we want to stick with Kitty to find out where this all will end. Sadly, that ending doesn’t deliver the surprise one might have hoped, for this reader anyway. That doesn’t stop me from recommending The Bookseller, and highly. I anticipate that Swanson’s debut will be one of my reading highlights for 2015.

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This Just In… Repeat Offender: Sin City’s Most Prolific Criminal and the Cop Who Caught Him by Bradley Nickell

Millions in stolen property, revolting sex crimes and murder-for-hire were all in the mix for a Las Vegas police detective as he toiled to take Sin City’s most prolific criminal off the streets for good. 

Las Vegas Police Detective Bradley Nickell delivers the inside scoop on the investigation of the most prolific repeat offender Las Vegas has ever known. 

Daimon Monroe looked like an average guy raising a family with his diffident schoolteacher girlfriend. But just below the surface, he was an accomplished thief with an uncontrollable lust for excess. His criminal mind had no bounds -- he was capable of anything given the proper circumstances. 

You can order Repeat Offender here. Visit author Bradley Nickell on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jaws Overtime

Jaws the movie turns 40 this year. Don’t expect that to happen without at least a little bit of hullabaloo. And it starts here. A new video essay series begins their journey with “An Absurdly In-Depth Study Of the Beach Scene In Jaws.

With that set-up, you wouldn’t necessarily think it worth watching, but this is stellar stuff. From Film School Rejects:
“Spielberg at his most Hitchcockian.”
That’s how the team behind The Discarded Image (a new video essay series focused on cinema) describes the beach scene in Jaws where Brody watches a ton of potential beach-loving victims, helpless to save a little boy who’s ripped apart by the shark. I can’t disagree. Mostly because Alfred Hitchcock also loved bad hats.
The video does a striking and thorough job explaining how Steven Spielberg tortures the viewer by forcing them to identify with a powerless figure caught in the middle of a violently chaotic moment. It’s about framing, camera direction and dramatic irony. It’s also about color coordination, foreground imagery and the culmination of earlier character decisions. It’s also about a dozen other things that allow us to marvel at Spielberg’s genius and allow aspiring filmmakers to shudder at the sheer level of detail that goes into making something this powerful.
Film School Rejects sets up and then shares this first episode of a new video essay series called The Discarded Image here. Want to see the beach sequence without commentary? That’s here.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Orson Welles’ Lost Last Film: The Hemingway Connection

Orson Welles’ final film, The Other Side of the Wind, was never finished and no one knows with certainty what it was meant to be about. John Huston once asked Welles and got a cryptic answer. “It’s a film about a bastard director…” Welles answered Huston. “It’s about us, John. It’s a film about us.”

The May issue of Vanity Fair publishes a piece adapted from Josh Karp’s new book, Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind (St. Martin’s Press). It’s a book to look for, all about the making and non-making of a film whose title couldn’t even be explained. According to Karp, Rich Little, who was also in the cast, asked Welles about the title:
“Orson,” Little asked, “what does The Other Side of the Wind mean?” 
Looking down over his reading glasses, Welles, in his rich baritone, said, “I haven’t the foggiest.”
Though the film came to be about the film industry, it was initially going to be loosely based on novelist Ernest Hemingway:
The initial inspiration for The Other Side of the Wind can be traced back to an event that took place more than 30 years before Graver walked into Schwab’s that summer day and found Orson in the pages of Variety. 
Orson Welles in 1937.
It was May 1937 and Welles entered a Manhattan recording studio to narrate a Spanish Civil War documentary whose script had been written by Ernest Hemingway—who happened to be in the sound booth when Orson arrived.
Only 22, Orson was not yet the Orson Welles, but he was on his way as a talented voice actor earning $1,000 a week during the Depression and a Broadway wunderkind who’d had the audacity to stage an all-black Macbeth.
Looking at Hemingway’s script, Welles suggested a few changes, as he recalled to a reporter decades later. Wouldn’t it be better, for instance, to eliminate the line “Here are the faces of men who are close to death,” and simply let those faces speak for themselves?
Hemingway was outraged that anyone would dare tamper with his words and went after Orson, implying that the actor was “some kind of faggot.” Welles responded by hitting Hemingway the best way he knew how. If Papa wanted a faggot, Orson would give him one.
“Mr. Hemingway, how strong you are!” Welles said, camping it up with a swishy lisp. “How big you are!”
Grabbing a chair, Hemingway attacked Orson, who picked up a chair of his own, sparking a cinematic brawl between two of the great creative geniuses of the 20th century, who duked it out while images of war flickered on a screen behind them.
Eventually, however, the pair realized the insanity of their fight and soon slumped to the floor laughing, cracked open a bottle of whiskey, and drank their way into friendship.
Twenty years after this encounter, Welles would work on a screenplay about a hyper-manly, middle-aged, American novelist living in Spain who has lost his creative powers and become obsessed with a young bullfighter in whom he sees the promise of youth and perhaps something more. Meanwhile, a Greek chorus of sycophantic biographers, worshipful grad students, and literary critics trailed the writer, reminding him of his own greatness.
Sometime after Hemingway killed himself, on July 2, 1961, Welles changed the locus of the film to Hollywood and turned the novelist into a sadistic man’s-man filmmaker who may also be a closeted homosexual. He decided that all of the action would take place on a single day—July 2—which became his main character’s birthday and the last day of his life.
There is so much more to this stellar piece: so many other anecdotes, angles and stories. It can all be found in the May issue of Vanity Fair, and here. Look for the book later this month and -- maybe! -- we’ll finally get to see the film within the year.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

New True Detective: Official Tease

And here it comes: a brand new season of the much ballyhooed True Detective will debut on HBO Sunday, June 21st. Here's the first official tease.

A bizarre murder brings together three law-enforcement officers and a career criminal, each of whom must navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California.

Colin Farrell is Ray Velcoro, a compromised detective in the all-industrial City of Vinci, LA County.

Vince Vaughn plays Frank Semyon, a criminal and entrepreneur in danger of losing his life’s work, while his wife and closest ally (Kelly Reilly), struggles with his choices and her own.

Rachel McAdams is Ani Bezzerides, a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective often at odds with the system she serves, while Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh, a war veteran and motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol who discovers a crime scene which triggers an investigation involving three law enforcement groups, multiple criminal collusions, and billions of dollars.

True Detective is written and created by Nic Pizzolatto. The first two of this season’s eight episodes will be directed by Justin Lin.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Interview: Ona Russell author of Rule of Capture

In Ona Russell’s latest novel, Rule of Capture, we are in Los Angeles in 1928.

One of the victims of a Ponzi scheme, Ohio probate officer Sarah Kaufman is in the city to attend the trial of the perpetrators, in particular of the “friend” who convinced her to invest. Sarah is eager for justice and committed to seeing the trial through. But when a Mexican woman she barely knows winds up dead, Sarah’s plans are thrown upside-down. She finds herself in a nightmarish trial by fire, one that takes her from the glamour of Hollywood to the Tijuana frontier, tests her deepest beliefs and leads her to discover not only a killer, but a part of Los Angeles built on a terrible secret.

The full interview is here.


This Just In… The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True

Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… 

Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband’s latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he’s nine-months sober from sex with grad students. 

Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. 

Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. 

Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. 

Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. 

Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others.

As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands' addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.

You can order The Wednesday Group here. Visit author Sylvia True on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Salman Rushdie’s Ratings of Other Authors Goes Viral

From the “It happened on the Internet so it must matter a lot” department, Salman Rushdie’s social media gaff in rating fellow authors has gone viral. The author of The Satanic Verses is getting a lot of criticism right now for rating books on Goodreads. From The Independent:
The outspoken writer gave Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis only one star, and Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mocking Bird – thought by many to be one of the greatest novels of all time – just three stars.
When fellow readers challenged his judgement, Rushdie declined to justify his ratings and blamed ignorance of social media for his indiscretion. “I’m so clumsy in this new world of social media sometimes. I thought these rankings were a private thing designed to tell the site what sort of book to recommend to me, or not recommend. Turns out they are public. Stupid me. Well, I don’t like the work of Kingsley Amis, there it is. I don’t have to explain or justify. It’s allowed,” he wrote.
The full piece is here. January Magazine’s 2002 interview with Rushdie is here.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Fiction: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

If Kazuo Ishiguro is to be believed, he is way past his prime. In a London Telegraph article last autumn, he was quoted as saying he thinks novelists peak in their late 30s and early 40s. “It’s rather like footballers,” he said. “Although novelists peak three or four years after footballers.”

One wonders why, if he really thinks this is so, he would, at 60, publish the novel that seems likely to be remembered as his most ambitious to date.

The Buried Giant (Knopf) is so outside what we understood to be Ishiguro’s oeuvre, it’s been easy for some fans to shake their heads in wonder, while others wring their hands in consternation and still others (an apparent minority) feel this is the best thing Ishiguro has produced.

And me? I’m on the fence a little bit. To be honest, I found aspects of The Buried Giant, Ishiguro’s crack at Arthurian England, to be a bit of a slog. But weeks after reading, aspects and images hang with me. The very best fiction does that, doesn’t it? (That’s what I tell myself.) You don’t always “get” it while you’re reading, but months and years later pieces/passages/images hang with you, having perhaps somehow impregnated themselves in your mind. I suspect that will be the case with The Buried Giant, a book that somehow seems better with the last page turned than it did while reading.

So what’s the hold up? In the first place, it’s very different than the Ishiguro we know and love. Light years, in its own way, from Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day, for which he won the Booker (when he was just 35. Big surprise). And this is not a condemnation, but it has been ten years since his last novel was published. We’ve been waiting a long time. Now… this?

And yet, in some ways, this astonishing work of fantasy truly is Ishiguro’s most audacious -- and ambitious -- novel to date. He has created a classic fantasy journey that brims with messages and memos for our own times.

The Buried Giant is a tapestry: carefully woven, beautifully wrought. One can barely imagine a 35-year-old writer wrapping his mind around it. But the mature Ishiguro has given us one for the ages. Don’t plan on a fast read. This is one you’ll be chewing on for a while.

January Magazine’s 2000 interview with the author is here. ◊

Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.


This Just In… Conjure Woman’s Cat by Malcolm R. Campbell

Lena, a shamanistic cat, and her conjure woman Eulalie live in a small town near the Apalachicola River in Florida’s lightly populated Liberty County, where longleaf pines own the world. In Eulalie’s time, women of color look after white children in the homes of white families and are respected, even loved, but distrusted and kept separated as a group. A palpable gloss, sweeter than the state’s prized tupelo honey, holds their worlds firmly apart. When that gloss fails, the Klan restores its own brand of order. 

When some white boys rape and murder a black girl named Mattie near the sawmill, the police have no suspects and don’t intend to find any. Eulalie, who sees conjure as a way of helping the good Lord work His will, intends to set things right by “laying tricks.” 

But Eulalie has secrets of her own, and it’s hard not to look back on her own life and ponder how the decisions she made while drinking and singing at the local juke were, perhaps, the beginning of Mattie’s ending. 

You can order Conjure Woman’s Cat here. Read more about Malcolm R. Campbell on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sharpen Your Crayons

A lot of people have told Johanna Basford that they secretly colored when their kids were asleep. That’s probably the reason Basford, a Scottish illustrator, is currently killing it on Amazon with two titles. Both Secret Garden and the recently released Enchanted Forest (both from Laurence King Publishing) are, you guessed it, coloring books. And, at time of writing, they are one and two on Amazon, respectively.

Basford’s drawings are intricate and beautiful… and were given a bit of a push through social media. From The Guardian:
Basford’s intricately drawn pictures of flora and fauna in Secret Garden have sold 1.4m copies worldwide to date, with the newly released follow-up Enchanted Forest selling just under 226,000 copies already. They have drawn fans from Zooey Deschanel, who shared a link about the book with her Facebook followers, to the South Korean pop star Kim Ki-Bum, who posted an image on Instagram for his 1.6 million followers.
“It’s been crazy. The last few weeks since Enchanted Forest came out have been utter madness, but fantastic madness,” said Eleanor Blatherwick, head of sales and marketing at the books’ publisher, small British press Laurence King. “We knew the books would be beautiful but we didn’t realise it would be such a phenomenal success.”
But the real secret to Basford’s success is very same one you hear from most mega-sucessful authors: the author created the book that she wanted to see.
The illustrator, who lives in Aberdeenshire, has been astonished at the reaction since she released Secret Garden in 2013. “I had a kids’ book commissioned and I told them I would like to do one for grown-ups. It really wasn’t a trend then. I drew up the first story and they thought, ‘Let’s go for it’. I was thinking simply that people like me would like to do it. My intention was just to make a book I would like to have. So it’s been a real surprise, to see the category bloom.”
You can see The Guardian piece here.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

McDermid: Politics in Crime Fiction? Mysteries Left, Thrillers Right

Mystery novels lean to the left. Thrillers lean to the right. That’s what crime fiction superstar Val McDermid wrote in a piece for the Guardian a few days ago. McDermind writes:
As my compatriot Ian Rankin pointed out, the current preoccupations of the crime novel, the roman noir, the krimi lean to the left. It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.
The thriller, on the other hand, tends towards the conservative, probably because the threat implicit in the thriller is the world turned upside down, the idea of being stripped of what matters to you. And as Bob Dylan reminds us, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
Do these thoughts hold water? Well, it should be pointed out that McDermid started putting these ideas together while in France where, she says, they take their crime fiction pretty seriously.
I was asked questions about geopolitics, and the function of fear. I found myself saying things like “escaping the hegemony of the metropolis” in relation to British crime writing in the 1980s. 
What they are also deeply interested in is the place of politics in literature. Over the weekend, there were local elections in France, and a thin murmur of unease ran through many of the off-stage conversations with my French friends and colleagues. They were anxious about the renaissance of the right, of the return of Nicolas Sarkozy, the failure of the left and the creeping rise of the Front National.
McDermid’s most recent novel is The Skeleton Road, published last September. Upcoming this year is Splinter the Silence, the ninth book in McDermid’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, it will be out in December.

The full piece is thoughtful, unsurprisingly articulate and here.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Cookbooks: The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Susan O'Brien

While I’m as forward thinking as the next guy, it seems to me there is just too much going on in The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook (Da Capo/Lifelong). If I’m very honest (and I know I will likely get rocks thrown at me for saying this) I don’t even really believe that it’s possible that as many people are gluten intolerant as say they are. No matter what the cost, it seems, these days people seem to be determined to be special, in this way if not that one.

That said if you happen to be part of that small minority who does, in fact, have a gluten sensitivity and you are also a vegetarian. Who has a family. Then Susan O’Brien’s latest is for you. 

By the way, this is not O’Brien’s first gluten-free, vegetarian rodeo. She is also the author of Gluten Free, Sugar Free Cooking, The Gluten Free Vegan and Gluten Free Vegan Comfort Food, so clearly this is a topic she knows better than most.

This expertise shows in the book, as well. Nothing here seems like just making do. From Eggplant Lasagna to Hearty Sandwich Bread and Strawberry Coconut Pudding, O’Brien’s book is filled with recipes that are “safe and nutritious for everyone at the table.”

O’Brien’s own focus is on vegan foods, and The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Family Cookbook definitely leans that way. However, there are several vegetarian recipes, though even some of those include instructions for doing them up vegan.

With her down to Earth style and back to basics leanings, O’Brien has created a book that is refreshingly normal. Is this where vegan goes mainstream? We might not be quite there yet but, at the same time, it’s beginning to feel quite close. ◊

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This Just In… LIARS, INC. by Paula Stokes

A dark and twisted psychological tale that will keep readers guessing, perfect for fans of I Hunt Killers and Gone Girl.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money. So with the help of his friend Preston and his girlfriend, Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something, and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about it. But then Preston never comes home. And the evidence starts to pile up -- terrifying clues that lead to Preston’s body.

Terrifying clues that point to Max as the killer….

You can order LIARS, INC. here. Read more about the book on the web here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Question of Copyright

What is copyright? How does licensing on the web work? How can you make it work for you?

These are some of the questions asked and answered on a new web site called Copyright Aware. It was developed by the BBC to help people how to understand some of basic facts about copyright:
Copyright is your tool. Do you know how to use it? 
Many of us create copyright all the time, mostly without even knowing it, and use other people’s copyright every day.  Whether it's taking a photo on your phone or uploading a video to your vlog, you have created copyright. Copyright describes both the creative work you have made and the law that protects that work.  
You can use this site to explore more about your rights and the rights of others, plus details of where to find out more.  
Because the site was created by the BBC, the content and resources here relates specifically to UK copyright. But even those not in the United Kingdom will find much of interest here. A great starting off point on a conversation that’s being had around the world.

You can find “Copyright Aware” here.

This Just In… The Never-Ending Swell: A Liam Sol Mystery by Timothy Burgess

It’s the summer of 1967 and all Liam Sol wants is to ride the perfect wave and to sleep with the prettiest girls. But when his father’s murdered body is found washed ashore, his carefree life comes crashing down on him. 

A prime suspect mysteriously dies in police custody and Liam leaves behind his life as a surfer and launches his own investigation into his father’s death -- against the warnings of the police and his family. But the killings have only just begun, and Liam soon finds himself being hunted by both the killer and the police, who suspect he is a cold-blooded murderer. Liam’s pursuit to find his father’s killer will lead him to a violent showdown and a shocking discovery. One that will shake Liam’s faith to its core.

From the pure waters of the Pacific Ocean to the dark depths of the human soul, The Never-Ending Swell is a pulse pounding mystery.

You can order The Never-Ending Swell here. Learn more about author Timothy Burgess here. ◊

This Just In...
 is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Bruce Willis to Star in Stage Version of Stephen King’s “Misery”

It’s always fun when a high powered screen name heads to Broadway. But this production? This sounds golden all the way through. From The Hollywood Reporter:
[Bruce] Willis will make his Broadway debut opposite stage veteran Elizabeth Marvel (Other Desert Cities, House of Cards) in the play written by two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman (The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), who also wrote the screenplay for the 1990 Rob Reiner film that starred Kathy Bates in her Oscar-winning turn as Annie Wilkes.
Willis will play the housebound romance novelist Paul Sheldon, who becomes a prisoner of his unhinged "Number One Fan" Wilkes (Marvel) after she rescues him from a car accident and learns that he plans to kill off her favorite fictional character.
Will Frears (Omnium Gatherum) has signed on to direct the play, which is scheduled for a limited run in the fall at a theater to be announced.
Misery will be produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures' Mark Kaufman and Castle Rock Entertainment's Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer. Raymond Wu also is producing.
The play is scheduled for a limited run this fall. You want tickets? You’ll be able to order them from the play’s web site here.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Harper Lee’s New Cover Revealed

People magazine today revealed the cover of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman. It is the author’s second novel, the first since the publication of her debut, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1960. From People:

Publisher HarperCollins, planning for a hit, will print two million copies for the book's July 14 publication date, a spokeswoman tells PEOPLE. 

HarperCollins president Michael Morrison says the book jacket was meant to evoke Mockingbird's now-iconic look: "It draws on the style of the decade the book was written." 

You can see the full piece here. We’ve previously written about Go Set a Watchman here and here.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

App Sweeps Questionable Words in Books Away

Bad language in books got you down? There’s an app for that. From the Clean  Reader web site:
Clean Reader prevents swear words in books from being displayed on your screen. You decide how clean your books should appear and Clean Reader does the rest.
A Harry Potter-style broom icon is engaged to clean the crap (sorry) right out of the e-book you are reading. It leaves behind nothing beyond a little gap and some dots where the offending letters were previously located. And how clean is clean?
The “Clean” setting only blocks major swear words from display. This includes all uses of the F-word we could find. The “Cleaner” setting blocks everything that “Clean” blocks plus more. “Squeaky Clean” is the most restrictive setting and will block the most profanity from a book including some hurtful racial terms. 
Aside from the fact that all of this stuff is pretty subjective (What is “hurtful”? What is “profanity”? What is “clean”?) how can anyone think that altering the text of a book in this way is a good thing? One of the things I do is write novels. When I choose a word, I do so for a reason. I’ve chosen it for the way it fits in with the other words on the page. How it enhances the meaning of those other words and how it sounds in the mind when you read it. Are you offended by my word choice? Maybe sometimes. But it’s a bit world. And there are a lot of books in it. Go read one of those.

On their blog, the Clean Reader folks have a snappy (if poorly composed) reply for that:
When I get a salad at a restaurant and the chef thinks the salad is best served with blue cheese on it, I will spend a significant amount of time trying to find and remove every piece of blue cheese. Then I’m able to enjoy the salad. In the restaurant world the chef is the artist. He has spent his entire professional life trying to create masterful pieces of art to be served on a dish or in a bowl. Is the chef offended when I don’t eat the blue cheese? Perhaps. Do I care? Nope. I payed [sic] good money for the food and if I want to consume only part of it then I have that right. Everyone else at the table can consume their food however they want. Me removing the blue cheese from my salad doesn’t impact anyone else at the table. 
Okay, right, it doesn’t. But at a time when hundreds of thousands of books are published every year, why not choose a different book? (Or a salad that doesn’t have blue cheese, for that matter.)

But if you insist on ordering that salad you don’t like, you might as well have an app to “fix” it. And, essentially, Clean Reader makes it possible for you take my carefully wrought prose and pull the stuffing out of it if you desire. Is it even legal? Clean Reader says so:
We’ve discussed this with several lawyers and they have all agreed that Clean Reader does not violate copyright law because it doesn’t make changes to the file containing the book.  All Clean Reader does is change the way the content is displayed on the screen.  The user has the option of turning off the profanity filtering tool if desired.  No changes are made to the original book the user downloads when they buy a book.
And yet, reading it that way can alter every aspect of the intent of the work. And, as The Huffington Post says:
It’s also worth pausing, however, to note that ebooks have once again shifted the balance. No longer does an author necessarily have the option of signing off on altered editions -- at least if the alteration is merely a filter applied to the original book. Once we had to wait until books left copyright -- long after they'd become fixtures in literary and cultural history -- before we could play freely with their stories. Now, we can read a book that came out yesterday in a form as heavily edited as the recently sanitized edition of the classic Huck Finn.
Perhaps this is all meaningless. After all, the changes aren’t “real.” But it’s worth wondering what this newly unstable sense of reality means for readers.
The Clean Reader app is free. Downloading sweepable books, however, is not.