It’s Monday! What are you reading? #2

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s that time again, folks! Even if you don’t participate regularly or don’t intend to, feel free to talk about what books you’re reading in the comments.

I took a trip to Half-Price Books over the weekend and found Cherie Priest’s sci-fi novel Boneshaker. The girl at the register couldn’t stop raving over it, so here’s hoping it lives up to the hype.

What I’ve been reading

I finished and reviewed a book for Kirkus Indie (I can’t reveal the name of it because of confidentiality reasons, unfortunately), and that’s about it. This week has been crazy busy, and I’m way too addicted to my new iPad Mini. I need to settle down with a book this evening. :)

The numbers are in. How many books did you read in 2012? I read 46 total, surpassing my goal of 40. Some of them were for Kirkus, but 30 are viewable on my Goodreads page. In 2011, I read 16 fewer books. This year, I’m aiming for 55. Are you setting a goal?

What I’m reading now

The Jazz CageOh, yeah — The Jazz Cage by Ray Chen Smith! I almost forgot I had started that!

The story is a historical twist on the Civil War and Roaring Twenties, so while it’s not exactly the type of book I usually go for, it’s good so far. I still have a long way to go, though.

This is Smith’s second but first commercial book, and you can visit his website here.

What I plan to read next

Death and the PenguinUntil I receive another Kirkus book for review, and once I finish The Jazz Cage, I’ll be moving on to Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (my first pick for the Eclectic Reader challenge’s translated fiction requirement) and The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling for my book club meeting in February.

What are your reading plans? What books have you discovered lately? Any good recommendations — or words of caution? ;)

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #1

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday, folks! I’ve decided to join the weekly reading meme over at Book Journey. Even if you don’t participate regularly or don’t intend to, feel free to tell us about your recent activity in the comments.

Today’s New Year’s Eve, so I hope everybody has plans to drink and party (drinking and reading is also acceptable). :) Have fun and stay safe out there.

What I’ve been reading

The Underwater Welder smallMy sister got me The Underwater Welder for Christmas, which I’ve been excited to read. Jeff Lemire is an amazing writer and artist. I’ll have my review posted in a couple hours (11 a.m. EST) at this link.

I also finally got around to reading Where the Dead Fear to Tread by M.R. Gott (review here). The author asked me to read it awhile ago (sorry!), but I just kept putting it on the backburner. I’m making it my goal to complete a few outstanding requests before I move on to other books.

January 12 is my next book club date, so I’ll be bringing along Zombie Blondes by Brian James. You can expect my review to go up then.

What I’m reading now

I’m about to start a book for Kirkus Indie (my lips are sealed on that one), and I’m hoping to continue reading The Jazz Cage by Ray Chen Smith — another one of those books I agreed to review for my blog but have been procrastinating on. Whoops! Sorry. :( I’ll do better! I’m making it my priority right now.

So far, though, so good.

What I plan to read next

The Casual Vacancy smallI’m really excited to start reading The Casual Vacancy, my book club selection for February. Whooo! By the way, is that book expensive or what? I have all of J.K. Rowling’s major books in hardcover, so I wanted this one to complete my collection. But holy cow — $35? I picked mine up for $24, but still, that’s ridiculous. Good thing I had a gift card.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is also calling to me, so I’ll probably begin that soon, too.

What are your reading plans? What books have you discovered lately? Any good recommendations — or words of caution? ;)

The Casual Vacancy migrates to the small screen

J. K. Rowling

I still need to read J. K. Rowling’s new adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, but here’s some good news for those of you who are hopefully awaiting a follow-up of some kind.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced today that it’s turning the book into a TV series, and Rowling will be working “closely” on the project. Huffington Post is already nominating actors for the character roles.

Rowling told U.S.A. Today that she didn’t consider The Casual Vacancy “a very filmable book,” saying, “I think it’s a very novelly novel in that a lot of what goes on happens internally. You need to understand what’s going on inside people’s heads. So even though a lot happens in the novel, part of the appeal of it for me is that so much of it happens in people’s interior life, and film isn’t necessarily the best medium to portray that.”

Television would certainly allot the characters more individual screen time. What do you think? A show could potentially attract a completely different audience than the people who religiously read Harry Potter — a market that The Casual Vacancy seemed to have trouble reaching due to Rowling’s 180-turn in genre.

[Photo credit: Debra Hurford Brown]

Fifty Shades of Grey is bad news for the bedroom — and cars, apparently

Fifty ShadesIf your nose is in a book these days, there’s a good chance it’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which has sold 32 million copies in the U.S. Either that, or you’re reading Twilight, which inspired E. L. James’ novel and its sequels.

We can talk bedroom dos and don’ts until the handcuffs come off, but what about cars?

Yeah, my reaction exactly: What in the name of sparkly vampires and bondage does Fifty Shades have to do with automobiles?

According to Haynes Publishing, which largely prints sought-after car manuals, just about everything. The firm is complaining that retailers are rejecting its books in favor of hotter titles.

“There is little doubt that…retail purchasing budgets were tight and that much of those available budgets went towards the phenomenally successful Fifty Shades series,” the company said in a statement, as reported on The Telegraph.

“Our books, in the most part, appeal to automobile and motorcycle enthusiasts. They are probably oriented to a male audience, and I am not sure that Fifty Shades is the kind of thing they would enjoy, but that phenomenon is impacting general publishing budget,” said Haynes’s chief executive officer, Eric Oakley.

“Many bookshops have spent so much money on these titles that their resources [for buying other books] has been stretched to the limit.”

I’m not sure I can sympathize — especially when Haynes is acting like it deserves special treatment. If the company is correct, than wouldn’t sales of fellow competing books be suffering, as well? Popular is popular — there’s not much anyone can do about that. Haynes’s statement sounds like old-fashioned whining to me.

Of course, it isn’t fair that one series of books can hog the spotlight, but the reality is, that fame won’t forever. The true battle is remaining relevant and interesting despite the constant surge of new and flashy competition. Just look at J. K. Rowling’s just-released The Casual Vacancy, which sold 375,000 copies in its first six days — an underwhelming number when you consider the predictions: more than 2.6 million on day one, which would exceed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That didn’t exactly happen, but The Casual Vacancy still bumped Fifty Shades of Grey from the top spot on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list, which it held for 21 weeks.

But then again, maybe Haynes has a right to complain. Its sales have fallen 9 percent recently, which could be a result of popular contenders…or maybe they’re just convenient scapegoats.

What do you think?

From J. K. Rowling’s imagination comes Wonderbook: Book of Spells

Whew.

I. Am. Exhausted.

I’m all typed out.

I’ve been so busy helping to cover E3 (that’s the Electronic Entertainment Expo going on this week) for GameZone that I haven’t had time for much else. But I wanted to share some sort of update.

One of the announcements made at the show was for Wonderbook: Book of Spells — a new video game/interactive book coming for PlayStation 3 that incorporates augmented reality technology, PlayStation Move products, and most interestingly, the stories of J. K. Rowling.

The Book of Spells referred to in the title is written by fictional character Miranda Goshawk of the Harry Potter novels.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook,” said Rowling. “I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other.”

It looks perfect for kids, and that’s obviously the market they’re targeting with the ad/trailer. But it’s also certain to intrigue any fan of the author.

What do you think? Is this something you’d check out, even if you don’t normally venture into video game territory? Wonderbook will cost $40 and come packaged with the aforementioned book and game disc.

Rowling is currently penning her next full-length work, The Casual Vacancy, marketed for adults and projected to release this fall, as early as September.

Rowling reveals a few details about her upcoming adult novel

Moving from children’s books to adult books is a huge leap, but J.K. Rowling is fearlessly approaching the divide. And good for her—actors aren’t the only ones who can get pigeon-holed by doing too much of the same thing.

Her new book will be here before we know it, too—as early as September 27. She’s been busy.

The author’s new publishing partner, Little, Brown & Co, announced a few details about the book on Thursday. The Casual Vacancy will unfold in an English town called Pagford, opening with the surprising death of a well-liked man.

The adult title will be sold as a traditional hardback, e-book, and an unabridged audio download or CD. An official description is below:

The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

Rowling also relaunched her website today.

Harry Potter e-books are out today!

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is finally available for digital download. The first three e-books cost $7.99, while the last four will run you $9.99 each. I imagine the price difference lends extra incentive to buying the The Complete Harry Potter Collection version (if each e-book sold for only $7.99, all seven books would be $55.93, just a couple dollars shy of the actual cost of $57.54). As the math works out, you’ll save about 10%.

The books are DRM-free but sport special digital watermarks “that relate to the book, to the purchaser and the purchase time. This allows us to track and respond to possible copyright misuse.” French, Italian, German, and Spanish editions are on the way. You can find the books on Pottermore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and they can also be sent to Sony Reader and Google Play accounts via Pottermore. Learn more here. A full list of compatible devices is also available.

What do you think? I already own all the Harry Potter books in print, but it sure would be nice not to have to stack my shelves with such a honking collection.

J.K. Rowling trades stories about children in wizards’ hats for a more adult read

As one chapter closes, another begins.

That’s currently the reality for J.K. Rowling, only she has seven full-length novels and three supplemental books to her name—and many, many chapters.

With Harry Potter put to bed (and Pottermore open for its loyal fans)*, the forty-six-year-old British author is now concentrating on fresh material. Whatever it is, it’s not for kids. Rowling recently finalized a deal with Little, Brown to publish an adult book, confirming her departure from Bloomsbury in the UK and Scholastic in the U.S.

“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series … The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life.”

According to GalleyCat, David Shelley of Little, Brown Book Group will edit and publish for UK readers, while Little, Brown and Company executive vice president Michael Pietsch will handle publication in the United States.

With Rowling’s proven success with series books, we could be looking at another expanded story, much like the seven-part Harry Potter, which spanned ten years. By now, many of her massive following of readers have entered adulthood. She’ll be writing for them as much as she will a new audience. Rowling hinted on Twitter that the book could release as early as this year.

Do you think the change in publisher is a smart move? Would adults be interested in a multiple-book series from Rowling, or should the author focus on solo novels?

*If you’re wondering, Pottermore will start selling Harry Potter e-books through its website sometime this year, delayed from last fall.

PS: For those of you who like HP and cool bookmarks …

… check out these awesome creations by bethydesigns, PaintedByRenee, and Bogies.