Monthly Archives: September 2012

Barnes & Noble Launches Nook HD

In an effort to bypass Amazon, Barnes and Noble announced this morning it is releasing two new high-definition versions of the company’s popular e-reader, the Nook HD. This comes after Amazon announced earlier this month it would release four new versions of the Kindle, including the Kindle Fire in HD.

According to the Associated Press, the Nook HD will come in two sizes, one with a 7-inch screen for $199 and one with a 9-inch screen, called the Nook HD+ for $269. It will also be lighter and narrower than Amazon’s new Kindles. In order to compete with Amazon, the Nook HD will offer a video purchase and rental service for both movies and TV shows, making it more of a tablet and less of an e-reader.

Barnes & Noble will continue to sell its Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with backlight, but will start phasing out the Nook Tablet and Nook Color.

Experts say there are pros and cons to both the new Nook HD and Kindle HD, as Mae Anderson explains.

On specs alone, the new Nook presents a tough choice for consumers seeking a cheap option to the iPad this holiday, analysts say. The 7-inch Nook HD is slightly lighter and narrower, with a sharper display than the similarly priced 7-inch Kindle Fire.

“If the decision the consumer is making is whether to buy based on hardware, these new Nooks will beat out Amazon,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “But that’s not the decision every consumer is going to make — hardware is only as good as the services the hardware enables.”

So far, Amazon offers more services, McQuivey said, with a bigger app store, and more extensive video library, not to mention Amazon’s vast product offerings and its Amazon Prime free-shipping service.

One thing the new Nook HD has going for it? Some retailers like Walmart and Target have stopped selling Amazon’s Kindle because of the online competition, but Barnes & Noble products will still be available in these stores.

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‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Adapted into Graphic Novel

Imagine re-reading your favorite childhood novel as an adult but doing so in picture form. For instance, imagine Harry Potter as a graphic novel 30 years from now (Wait, actually that’s an amazing idea and someone with talent should start sketching NOW). That’s what illustrator Hope Larson did with her favorite novel growing up, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.

According to Huffington Post, Larson had given up illustration altogether; that is, until she was approached to illustrate her favorite novel as a child and turn it into a graphic novel. That’s exactly what she did. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time is now available as a roughly 400-page graphic novel.

Larson told Huffington Post she had some concerns about putting the novel together.

What if I couldn’t do the book justice? What about the people-the people on the Internet-who throw up their hands and moan about their ruined childhoods whenever anyone adapts anything? Neither of those thoughts was as frightening as the possibility that someone else, someone who didn’t love the book as much as I did, would take the job and make a mess of things. I agreed to do it.

Personally, I think it’s kind of a great idea. What books/classics would you like to see turned into graphic novels — besides my already awesome Harry Potter suggestion?

Get A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel in hardcover for just $11.10.


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More YA Novels Optioned for the Big Screen

It appears that Twilight and The Hunger Games are trendsetters, paving the way for more young adult novels to be made into feature films.

According tothe L.A. Times,a number of other young adult novels are being optioned for films, including hits like Trylle Trilogy and The False Prince. Here’s a look at some of the other novels producers are considering.

Considering I haven’t heard of any of these novels, I doubt they’ll have the success and impact on the big screen that Twilight and The Hunger Games have had. It will also be interesting to see how many of these books actually make it that far — since right now, they’re only being optioned. It’s always fun to see your favorite book translated to film, but are the movie-book-adaptations starting to become a little overkill? What do you guys think?


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Movie vs. Book: The Last Song

Combine a teenage summer romance with a sick parent, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a typical, but engrossing Nicholas Sparks novel. Sadly, the movie doesn’t live up to its literary predecessor.

The Last Song tells the story of a recent high school graduate, Ronnie, who leaves New York City for North Carolina to spend the summer with the father she hasn’t seen since her parents divorced a few years earlier. Her summer of angst quickly turns into one of love, though Ronnie continues to deal with her troubled past — at least in the novel.

In the book version of The Last Song, Ronnie gets framed for shoplifting by a spiteful girl named Blaze. While she spends the majority of her summer falling in love with the perfect, popular and wealthy Will, she also works to clean up her mess, making court appearances and meeting with her lawyer until Blaze finally confesses. Most of this is completely cut from the movie. In the movie version, Blaze does set Ronnie up, and Ronnie gets caught. But in an obvious and lazy case of deus ex machina, Ronnie learns that her dad is friends with the store owner and will take care of it. The problem is never mentioned again throughout the movie. I couldn’t believe that the shoplifting subplot was virtually cut. It was a large part of the book and helps to emphasize Ronnie’s past as she moves toward her future. Not to mention, the movie’s handling of the storyline seemed very abrupt.

Much of the rest of the movie only loosely follows the book. All of the overall outcomes are the same, but many of the details and means to the end are different. Even the end is different; there’s still a happy ending for the two young lovebirds, but the way it’s revealed does not follow the novel.

The rest of the movie worked for the most part. I had a difficult time seeing Miley Cyrus as “Ronnie” and not Miley Cyrus, but her acting chops were decent, and her chemistry with real-life and onscreen boyfriend Liam Hemsworth was undeniable. However, there were times where I found myself thinking I was watching the movie more for the chemistry between the two leads than for the story itself (similar to the way people watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt started dating; they wanted to see “how it all started.”)

Greg Kinnear was moving as Ronnie’s sick father, and I cried at the end, like a chick flick fan should. I have to hand it for Nicholas Sparks for always managing to suck me in, but that doesn’t mean that the movie necessarily lived up to the book.

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Roald Dahl E-Books Now Available

On what would be his 96th birthday, Roald Dahl gave the gifts to us! In honor of his birthday — September 13th — eight of the classic children author’s novels are now available as e-books, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Included in the releases are:

James and the Giant Peach

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Danny, The Champion of the World

George’s Marvelous Medicine

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Twits

Each e-book costs $6.99 — except George, which is $7.99. They’re each available on all e-readers. Just one problem. What about The Witches and Matilda? Those are easily Dahl’s biggest bestsellers, and they’re not included. It’s unclear whether or not more of Dahls’ classics will be released at a later time. What do you think? Oversight or is it all part of Penguin Young Readers’ master plan?


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Author Caught Writing Fake Amazon Reviews

The only thing better than a great writer is one who’s also humble. Crime writer RJ Ellory, apparently, does not fall into this category.

According to, the author was caught writing positive Amazon reviews for his book and negative reviews for his competition’s books under a pseudonym. It was another writer, Jeremy Duns, who discovered the fake reviews, when he realized both “Jelly Bean” and “Nicodemus Jones” repeatedly wrote 5-star reviews for Ellory’s work, while trash-talking novels written by others.

Ellory also slipped up a few times, forgetting which account he was using and signing the reviews “Roger.”

The reviews were taken down after Ellory was caught, but not before other authors, like Duns, snapped screen grabs of the reviews and posted them to Twitter.

Ellory issues an apology statement to The Daily Telegraph, writing:

“The recent reviews – both positive and negative – that have been posted on my Amazon accounts are my responsibility and my responsibility alone.

“I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment that allowed personal opinions to be disseminated in this way and I would like to apologise to my readers and the writing community.”

A spokesperson from the Crime Writers Association said this is happening more frequently — authors tooting their own horns, so to speak, on sites like Amazon and Twitter.

It’s times like this I miss the days without social media.


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Review: The Marriage Plot

Recap: It’s 1982, and three young adults have just graduated from Brown University. They are now entering the “real world.” The Marriage Plot is told in sections split up between these three main characters. It starts on graduation day and then takes us backward through their college experiences, and forward into the year after graduation.

There’s Madeleine, the heroine and Victorian literature enthusiast. She’s beautiful, smart, and moves in with her boyfriend, Leonard, after college. Leonard is a brilliant, handsome guy, studying science under a fellowship at a lab on the Cape. Leonard’s brilliance becomes more and more shadowed, however, by his severe case of manic depression. There’s also Mitchell, Madeleine’s close friend, who has been in love with her for years. Constantly pining for Madeleine, Mitchell sets out on a post-grad journey across Europe and Asia, as he considers attending grad school for religion and tries to define his own religious beliefs.

Analysis: The novel’s title itself, The Marriage Plot, makes it seem like this is a book about love. But this is not a story about love. This is a coming-of-age story. Maybe it was my poor reading, but the whole time I kept wondering “Who will Madeleine end up with?” It wasn’t until the conclusion that I realized a) that’s not the point of the story and b) it’s obvious from the beginning that only one ending makes sense.

This “obvious” ending is clear because of the direct parallels author Jeffrey Eugenides makes between The Marriage Plot and great literary pieces of our time. Throughout the novel, Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell often reference authors like Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, and James Joyce, and their works. The references are heavy in the beginning of the novel, during the characters’ pretentious college years. As they continue to pop up throughout the book, it becomes clear that these classic stories influence Eugenides’ own storytelling.

I am by no means an expert in classic literature, but here are a few examples of what I mean. In Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, the characters do not end up with the ones they love; they often end up quite sad. Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a coming-of-age story about a man who tries to identify his religious beliefs. Knowing how these stories end, it’s possible to predict how The Marriage Plot will end. Eugenides therefore not only mentions these works in his novel, but borrows plotlines directly from them.

If you’re a literature enthusiast, you’ll understand the book well. If you’re not, it’s still worth a read for its realistic tales of college life and the difficult period afterward.

MVP: Mitchell. He’s the nerdy loner you root for throughout the book. Madeleine gets the most attention and pages in the book, but is somehow the least developed character. The story about Mitchell’s religious journey is virtually discarded at the end of the novel, but his overall arc is still the most interesting of all the characters.

Get The Marriage Plot in paperback now for $10.88.

Or get it on your Kindle for $9.99.


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Bestselling ‘No Easy Day’ by Navy SEAL Faces Pentagon Lawsuit

It was an event that garnered so much attention, it’s now being used as a politic punching point in the 2012 Presidential election — the day six Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. When something as monumental as this moment happens, people are bound to write books about it. But when one of the SEALs writes it himself, it’s not easy for the Pentagon to overlook.

According to The New York Times, the Pentagon is considering taking legal action against Matt Bissonnette, the SEAL who penned the now bestselling book No Easy Day under the pseudonym Mark Owen. The Pentagon says Bissonnette breached confidentiality agreements by releasing information about the top-secret attack on and killing of Osama bin Laden without the Pentagon’s permission.

Bissonnette’s lawyer claims the author sought legal advice before publishing the book and that there was no information released in the book that would have breached nondisclosure agreements. His lawyer even goes so far as to say such agreements do not apply to this book, as Elisabeth Bumiller Julie Bosman explain.

The letter also said that the book was not subject to the nondisclosure agreement that the Defense Department said was violated. That agreement applied only to “specially identified Special Access Programs” that did not include the subject matter of the book, Mr. Luskin wrote.

While I’m dying to read the book, I can’t imagine there will be absolutely no legal consequences to having published it. Frankly, I was shocked that one of the SEALs himself made a point of publicly disclosing any information about the mission. I fear it could put the Pentagon and other SEALs in danger, but then again, I don’t know until I read it. What do you guys think?

Get No Easy Day in hardcover for $16.17.

Or get it on your Kindle for $12.99.

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$69 Million E-Book Pricing Settlement Reached

A few months ago, I told you about a possible lawsuit involving a number of publishers who allegedly raised e-book prices illegally. I then reported that three of those publishers had reached a settlement. Well now, we know the details of that settlement.

According to the L.A. Times, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to pay a total of $69 million. The lawsuit was brought about when publishers started setting the prices of e-books, instead of retailers; thus, giving themselves a good portion of the sales. Despite the settlement, they don’t admit they’ve done anything wrong, stating “their actions were merely parallel, unilateral, or justified by market forces and completely legal.”

So how does this affect you? It means that if you bought an e-book anytime between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you’ll get some money back. However, it probably won’t amount to very much, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

Publishers will payconsumers $1.32 for each bestselling title they purchased, 32 cents for books that were less than a year old but not bestsellers, and 25 cents for older e-books. Even devoted readers won’t wind up with much more than the cost of a new e-book or two. Conveniently, refunds will appear in e-book buyers’ online accounts on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers who purchased e-books through Google or Sony’s storefronts will receive a check, and others can opt to. They can also opt not to receive any rebate at all.

I’m thinking I’ll probably get some money back, but based on what Kellogg says, I likely won’t even realize that anything’s been deposited back into my account. What do you guys think? Do you think these publishers have coughed up enough dough? Or not as much as they should have?


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New Bob Woodward Book Coming This Month

In case you haven’t heard enough about the current state of the U.S. economy, journalist Bob Woodward is publishing his 17th book this month, which will focus on America’s economic condition over the last three-and-a-half years.

According to The New York Times, Woodward’s The Price of Politics is due out on September 11th. Simon & Schuster says it is “an intimate, documented examination of how President Obama and the highest profile Republican and Democratic leaders in the United States Congress attempted to restore the American economy and improve the federal government’s fiscal condition over three and one half years.”

Woodward, who’s one-half of the dynamic Woodward and Bernstein Watergate duo, is the associate editor for The Washington Post, which will also run an excerpt from the book.

Will you guys be reading?

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