Monthly Archives: April 2012

J.K. Rowling’s New Book Called The Casual Vacancy to be Released Sept. 27th

Contributed by Alex Rabinowitz

BREAKING: JK Rowling’s New Book Called ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ To Be Released Sept 27th | HuffPost Books »

Plus details!

In the novel, the unexpected death of Barry Fairweather leaves Pagford, the small town he lived in, in shock. Pagford appears to be a peaceful, serene town, but underneath that, it is a town at war. Fairweather’s death leaves an empty seat on the parish council, and this causes the biggest fight Pagford has ever seen.

Alex Rabinowitz is the founding editor of PopCultureBrain.com. His writing has appeared on GQ.com, The Huffington Post, and Time Warner Cable. He owns a lot of T shirts.

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Lauren Conrad Debuts New Trilogy

Yet another trilogy is upon us. No, it won’t be as great and mesmerizing as The Hunger Games. Nor will it be as adult and erotic as Fifty Shades of Grey. Nonetheless it will likely sell well because of its author: Lauren Conrad.

As previously reported, Conrad — of Laguna Beach and The Hills fame — was set to publish her second young adult trilogy, entitled The Fame Game. According to this article by Entertainment Weekly, the first book is now out in stores.

The Fame Game, like Conrad’s previous L.A. Candy series, tells the story of four girls trying to make it in Los Angeles and Hollywood. It’s a spinoff to her L.A. Candy series, which achieved bestseller status. This trilogy will follow the character Madison Parker — a Heidi Montag-like character.

Though I’m sure the trilogy will sell well, I doubt it will do as well as L.A. Candy. When Conrad published L.A. Candy, she had just completed her run on The Hills. At the time, the public was much more in tune with Conrad. The storylines from the MTV reality show were still fresh in people’s minds. Now — not so much. Not to mention, it’s a spinoff, which means if you haven’t read L.A. Candy, you probably have little interest in reading The Fame Game. So what do you think? Will the trashy book sell well like most trashy books do? Or is the whole “Lauren Conrad: Author” status a thing of the past?

Get The Fame Game in hardcover now for just $12.91.

Or get it on your Kindle for just $9.99.

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Review: Memoirs of Normalcy

We all need help every once in a while. When a self-help book was sent to me by a dear friend and former co-worker of mine, I decided I’d get over what people would think of me when they saw me reading a self-help book and give it a try. But Joleene DesRosiers Moody’s Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary is a breath of fresh air for those who are hesitant to admit they have a problem.

Memoirs of Normalcy not only encourages you to change your thoughts, let go, and overcome your fears. It also tells the author’s story — a story about struggles with addiction, changing careers, finding love, and exploring yourself. At times it seems like DesRosiers Moody has dealt with it all. We can all find a little piece to relate to — in a good way! Reading about her decision to leave the television news business and enter the world of motivational speaking seems foreign to most of us — albeit a little crazy. But she did it. She learned from it. And now she passes along her words of wisdom to us.

It’s not your typical self-help book that tells you what to do. It’s a self-help combined with a memoir. By sharing her personal experiences, we understand with specific examples why and how all this advice works. For instance, DesRosiers Moody talks about her post-TV news job search. She was down; she had just about given up when all of a sudden she got not one, but a number of offers. She uses this example to explain why there’s no such thing as instant gratification, but that our time will come as long as we understand the importance of patience and positive thinking.

The first half of the book focuses on advice. The second half walks us through her two-week journey to a meditation camp a few years back. Without being hokey, she describes the ways in which it changed her life, making it easy for us to understand just how much meditation can travel to the depths of your soul.

Is DesRosiers Moody spiritual? Of course. Can that sometimes be annoying? For some people, probably yes. But what you have to understand when you pick up the book is that when you’ve been down as low as this author — and most of us probably have at one point or another — there’s nowhere left to go but to a space of spirituality and self-reflection.

DesRosiers Moody’s personal story is encouraging enough to push any reader to make a change and stay positive.

Get Memoirs of Normalcy in paperback now for just $12.47.

Or get it on your Kindle for just $3.99!

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Just in Time for Titanic 3D, an E-Book Short About Costa Concordia

On the heels of Titanic 3D‘s opening weekend, a new e-book about the modern-day Titanic is now available. Fatal Voyage, the Wrecking of the Costa Concordia, a Kindle Single — or e-book short — about the accident that happened with the ill-fated Italian cruise ship earlier this year, was recently published.

According to this article by The Huffington Post’s Gadling, journalist John Hooper quickly wrote the e-book. Hooper is the Rome-based reporter for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. The e-book short includes first-person accounts from passengers and details about the Italians’ embarrassment over the ship’s Captain. That, allegedly, is a part of the story that was left out by American reports of the incident. It also includes a detailed account of the mistakes the Captain made once the ship went into crisis mode.

Though Gadling blogger Chris Gray Faust explains that the e-book has its fair share of errors…

The rush to publish does highlight the e-book’s faults. Hooper’s e-book, which reads more like a long-form magazine article, came out on Feb. 15, just a little over a month from the Jan. 13 sinking. As a reader, I wanted even more details from the survivors than Hooper collected. Every passenger who lived through that night has a chilling tale to tell, and while the examples that Hooper picked were jaw-dropping, I had more questions than answers when I finished the book.

…It still seems like a worthy read, particularly if you’ve ever cruised, plan on cruising, or are just plain shocked that something as severe as this accident could still happen in the modern-day world.

Get the e-book short now for just $1.99 on your Kindle.

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Pottermore: A Partisan Review

Contributed by Harrison Cole

As a self-proclaimed Potterphiliac, I was delighted to be granted access to the Beta version of Pottermore before its opening to the general public. For those who haven’t heard, Pottermore is an interactive website that provides fans with a new way to experience the world of Harry Potter. Users navigate the story of The Boy Who Lived by clicking through picturesque snapshots from each chapter of the series while interacting with fellow fans. The site is scattered with snippets of information, including exclusive content relating to the many characters and places within the wizarding world crafted by J.K. Rowling.

To my surprise, after first logging on I was frustrated with the interface of the site.  Users must begin with Chapter One of The Philosopher’s Stone and move through each of the seven books in chronological order. Within each chapter, content-unlocking discoveries must be made in order to advance. This might be a result of my computer and gaming ineptitude, but I would prefer to read the site at my leisure without spending ten minutes clicking around each page to locate hidden items. Although interesting to the Potter fanatic, the pages within Pottermore provide an excessive amount of detail. This site is not for the casual fan; I doubt there are many itching to peruse the 4,596 words devoted to the types of wood used in wandmaking.

The material unique to Pottermore includes Rowling’s inspiration for certain aspects of the story, and “Ghost Plots” or scenes and events that did not make the final cut of the published novels. The site also adds a personal touch for the fan, providing the opportunity to purchase a wand of their own and don the Sorting Hat to join one of the four houses of Hogwarts.  Pottermore is somewhat reminiscent of a role-playing video game; once sorted, users can earn points for their house by brewing potions, or test their wandwork by challenging others to duel. This competitive aspect should lure users with waning attention spans. Those that are expecting more of a Potter encyclopedia with freely accessible information should keep their expectations low.

Like I mentioned above, I love Harry Potter and as a result will probably end up reading Pottermore cover-to-cover, or whatever the internet equivalent of that may be…even the aforementioned section on wandmaking. But completing the Pottermore journey is a laborious task, and I surmise most people would prefer to enjoy the series without the excruciating additional detail. If I had any sense, I would broaden my horizons by moving on to a new book, but alas, I do not.

Harrison is a human male and a Certified Public Accountant in the state of New York. He lives in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with his collection of Harry Potter novels and memorabilia. You can follow him on Twitter @HarrisonsHuff, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Review: The Eclipse of Mrs. Moon

Recap: The Eclipse of Mrs. Moon is a captivating story that mirrors abuse and love. Linda is 9 years old when her mother, Carole, packs up their things in the middle of the night and flees their Philadelphia home with her abusive husband, Orton. With Linda in tow, Carole goes to Elm City. While Carole spends the next few days binge drinking, yelling, and trying to set up her tarot card reading business, Linda is befriended by Mrs. Moon, an antique store owner, who lives across the street from her new home.

As time goes on, Mrs. Moon not only gives Linda a paying job at her store, she also feeds and clothes her, plays with her, and teaches her how to love. Though she doesn’t meet Carole for months, it becomes evident to Mrs. Moon that Carole is an emotionally abusive and careless mother. Mrs. Moon becomes a new mother figure for Linda, and when Orton returns from Philadelphia, it’s Mrs. Moon who’s there to protect Linda.

Analysis: The Eclipse of Mrs. Moon is just that — an eclipse. Mrs. Moon overshadows Carole as a parent to Linda. She becomes and more important and more loving figure in the little girl’s life. She introduces Linda to the world outside her broken, unhealthy home — a world with kind friends, gifts for no reason, and love.

It’s a beautiful story, but also one that ends rather abruptly. There is partial closure, and when you feel as though the book is ready to move in a new direction, it simply ends. I had the pleasure of emailing with the author, Virginia Galfo, who told me “I ended it that way because the messiness of life is almost never tied up neatly in a bow.

Aside from the obvious parallels between Mrs. Moon and Carole, the book also does a good job of displaying two forms of abuse. Orton is the physical abuser. Linda’s mother is abusive emotionally and verbally. Galfo explains:

All abuse is chilling, and Carole, in her pretty skirts and high heels, was just as bad as Orton – only she was Linda’s mother – and mothers are supposed to protect their children, and not use them as bargaining chips for their own advantage. 

Galfo also explained why Mrs. Moon was so inclined to help, love, and save Linda.

She takes pity on the little girl for two reasons: she sees that Linda is a shining soul, an innocent, and wants to take her into her heart, and then as she sees the abuse Linda deals with on a daily basis, becomes indignant at the injustice that is dealt to Linda at almost every turn with her mother.

The only small problem is Linda tells the story, but phrases like “At the time I didn’t realize…” imply that it was written as a memoir by an adult Linda. Unfortunately we never get any glimpse at how Linda ended up or what compelled her to write this memoir. We are not outwardly told it’s a memoir; it is inferred, and that’s never quite sewn up.

MVP: Mrs. Moon, obviously. She’s a complex character, who continues to reveal new parts of her personality throughout the novel. But she does it for love and out of the goodness of her heart. We should all be so lucky to have a Mrs. Moon in our lives.

Get The Eclipse of Mrs. Moon for your Kindle for only $4.99.

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Lost Bronte Story Published 170 Years Later

In terms of great literary classics, a number of authors come to mind. But some of the most famous of all just so happen to be sisters: the Bronte sisters. Charlotte (Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights), and Anne (Agnes Grey) have made their marks on literature for all time. But what if a new Bronte story were published? Well, that’s exactly what happened.

In February, a Bronte expert discovered in a Brussels museum a short story written by Charlotte Bronte in 1842. According to this article by The Huffington Post, the story is written in French was a homework assignment for the then-teenager. Titled L’Ingratitud, it tells the story of:

“a thoughtless young rat who escapes his father’s protective care in search of adventure in the countryside and comes to a sorry end. The tale contrasts the solemn paternal devotion of the father with the reckless abandon of his “ingrate” offspring.” — Charlotte Bronte

And now it’s been published by the London Review of Books in both French and English. Nothing like finding an author’s short story 170 years after it was written.

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Apple, Other Publishers Face E-Book Pricing Lawsuit

As the popularity and success of the e-book industry continues to grow, so do the prices of the books, according to a number of readers and more importantly, the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to this article by The Huffington Post, Apple and a number of other top publishers are facing a possible lawsuit regarding collusion, for allegedly raising e-book prices. In addition to Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group and Macmillan also faces possible charges.

U.S. and European officials allege Apple and the others raised prices as a means to block rivals like Amazon from being able to offer cheaper books. The “agency model” that was in adopted in 2010 gives publishers the right to set their own e-book prices, giving Apple 30% of the cut. This model eliminated the “wholesale model,” which gave retailers the ability to set their own e-book prices.

And in addition to the new possible Apple is already under fire, dealing with a class-action lawsuit filed by consumers with similar allegations.

I personally haven’t noticed raised e-book prices, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some illegal collusion was going on behind the scenes. What do you guys think? Have you notices a price increase for e-books?

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