Monthly Archives: March 2013

‘Clarissa Explains It All’ Book Coming Soon

Can Clarissa still explain it all? I guess we’ll find out when a new novel about the quirky 90’s Nickelodeon character Clarissa Darling debuts next fall.

That’s right. According to Entertainment Weekly, Clarissa Explains It All creator Mitchell Kriegman is putting together a new book about the character called Things I Can’t Explain. The book tells the story of a now 23-year-old Clarissa Darling as she enters the real world. She must still deal with her parents and boys, but now a real-life job as a journalist is part of the story, as well as living in her own apartment. (Will that mean no more Sam entering her room through the window??)

Apparently back in 1995, a spinoff show called Clarissa Now had been created, but was never picked up. No word yet if this book will ultimately be turned into another Clarissa TV show or movie. The book is still in its early stages, and is only tentatively planned for fall 2014 publishing date. But I certainly think it has potential.

I still have vivid memories of forcing my father to watch the show with me, no matter how much he protested, and there’s a good chance every girl who grew up in the 90’s will want to read it, regardless of age.


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‘Once Upon a Time’ To Launch Book Series

Once upon a time, in a land very near, a TV series became a cult smash, and the producers decided to create a tie-in book series.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the ABC hit Once Upon a Time will launch a companion book series. The first book is titled Reawakened and tells the story of the first season of the show. It will be told from alternating points-of-view between Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison’s character in the show) in Storeybrook and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) in Fairy Tale Land.

The book will first be released as an e-book on April 27th, and will then be published in paperback.

ABC has done similar book tie-ins before with Castle.

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B&N Closing More Stores, Giving Away Nooks

Disappointing sales and the fall of the bookstore are contributing to the closure of more Barnes and Noble locations. And this week in particular, there are signs that Barnes and Noble is perhaps doing even worse than we thought.

According to this blog post from Melville House Books, sales from this past holiday season absolutely plummeted — an 11% decrease in store sales and a 12.6% decline in Nook sales. Ultimately, hundreds of Barnes and Noble stores closed across the country throughout the holiday season. Most frightening about these closures is that most of them happened in large cities, like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

And yet, it gets worse. According to Huffington Post, this week through March 30th, the chain store is giving away the Nook Simple Touch for free with every purchase of the Nook HD+, reporting that its Nook business saw a steep 26% decline in sales in its holiday quarter.

Apparently, as color tablets rise in popularity, the desire for a Nook Simple Touch (a black-and-white standard e-reader) has diminished.

So what does this all mean for Barnes and Noble? One thing’s for sure. It doesn’t look good.

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Review: The Eye-Dancers

Review: As a 12-year-old boy, there are few things more terrifying than girls and nightmares. Worse yet, nightmares with girls as the main subject. But that’s exactly what three close friends, Ryan, Joe, and Mitchell, ready to relax before having to go back to school in the fall, have in common — the same nightmare, night after night, of a girl who sucks them into her world with her icy blue eyes. After several nights of this, they enlist their smarty-pants (yes, that is a technical term) classmate to watch them sleep and see what may be causing the terrors. Instead, Marc gets sucked in along with them, and this time, the four boys are transported.

They find themselves in an alternate universe in which the dates are current, but everything else has changed. Prices are cheap. Cars appear to be antiques. After doing research at the local library, the boys learn that many of the world’s most historic effects, like World War II, haven’t happened in this world.

But worse yet, they can’t be transported back to their universe until they save the little girl from their dreams, who they learn has been kidnapped in this universe. A life-or-death adventure in an unfamiliar alternate universe — just what every young teenage boy needs.

Analysis: The Eye-Dancers is a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel that sets out with a clear purpose, taking the idea of something we’ve seen a million times before (a coming-of-age story) and putting a twist on it (by setting it in an alt-world). The story accomplishes one of its goals, that is, the sci-fi/fantasy part of the novel. There’s good adventure in the mystery of the ghost girl and her kidnapping. But the coming-of-age part of the novel feels forced at times.

Each boy is given his own problem at home to identify with; Mitchell’s parents are fighting; Marc wants another sibling; Joe’s older brother is the quintessential golden boy; Ryan feels pressured to live up to his reputation at school. Between the four boys, it’s a lot to keep track of. Some characters’ problems have a more gradual development throughout the book that allows them to grow as people. But the others seem to have epiphanies, seemingly out of nowhere, during which they realize that they need to view life differently.

The end of the novel isn’t completely satisfying. The boys get their “happily ever after” moment that the reader wants for them. But the sci-fi part of the story is never fully explained. Neither the characters nor the reader come to understand why the boy were transported to an alternate universe, what this place really is, or how they got there. Was it all a dream? We don’t know — though, there’s something to be said for the author likely choosing an open-ended resolution such as this.

MVP: Mitchell. His character shows the most character development in the novel, and his is done in a logical, gradual way. Of all the boys, Mitchell is the one we come to know best, and the one we come to love.

Get The Eye-Dancers for your Kindle now for $2.99.

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Cuts, Moves, and Downsizing at NYC Libraries

IMG_0050Yet again, another sad story about libraries losing funding — and this time, it’s regarding one of the most well-known libraries worldwide, the New York Public Library.

According to The Screwy Decimal, a blog written by a public librarian from Brooklyn, New York City’s preliminary budget is proposing a 35% cut in library funding, the largest funding cut that NYC libraries have ever faced. The $106.7 million library budget could result in slashing library hours in half, eliminating almost 1500 jobs, and closing more than 60 libraries.

This comes just after news broke that the Brooklyn Public Library (which is included in the New York City Library System) would be selling its two libraries — one in Brooklyn Heights and one in Boerum Hill. According to NYC real estate site The Real Deal, the library in Brooklyn Heights will be sold, with the lower floor remaining a library and the upper floors being converted into apartments. The library in Boerum Hill will be relocated to an as-yet unnamed space, set to open in 2016. It will remain open in its current location until the new space is ready.

With all the moves, cuts, and closures, it’s obvious that libraries aren’t able to offer what they once did simply because of financial restraints. And it’s a shame because with the economy the way it is, and with libraries advancing in a technological capacity, library usage is on the rise. If my library closed or cut hours, I would be devastated. Thoughts?


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Libraries Adjust to Loss of Bookstores

As bookstores continue to flounder, libraries are now making it a point to take advantage of the moment and roll with the times.

According to The New York Times, libraries are realizing that print is coming in second to digital. As a result, libraries are now offering more e-books and technology options (like more space for computers within the library walls). But libraries are also making more of the big bestsellers available, and then selling them for a reduced price when the library starts to carry the books in excess. Karen Ann Cullotta explains.

At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course, librarians acknowledge that when patrons’ passion for the sexy series lacking in literary merit cools in a year or two, the majority of volumes in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy will probably be plucked from the shelves and sold at the Friends of the Library’s used-book sales, alongside other poorly circulated, donated and out-of-date materials.

With less waiting and larger scale sales down the road, libraries are becoming more and more like bookstores. And in a post-recession age when people are willing to do most anything to save a buck, why not? Why pay for a book when there’s a magical little place in your hometown that will allow you to take it home for free?

These are moves that libraries hope will increase foot traffic and users. Do you think they will?

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New Details on New Book from ’50 Shades’ Author

Oh, Fifty Shades of Grey. Your sexy plot sold more books, encouraged more sex, and brought in more money than any other erotic book series in history. But now, its author E L James says she has some “other” stories to tell — and unfortunately, they won’t be nearly as sexy.

According to Huffington Post, James is working on a few other projects right now, including a book outside the scope of the Fifty Shades trilogy. She told the New York Post it will be less raunchy and that she’ll likely write it under a different name. That’s not to say that there will never be a return to the Fifty Shades story and its characters, but James says it certainly won’t be in the immediate future. She’s told other media outlets, however, that these stories will still have to do with love.

Here’s my issue: as many of us know, E L James is not known for her prose. She’s known for her content, not quality of writing. If she publishes this new book under a different name and doesn’t use the “author of Fifty Shades of Grey” title to help her sell copies, I have to wonder how well the book will do — unless of course, she surprises us with a vast improvement with her literary skills.

I’d love to ask my readers here if they’d read E L James’ new book, but by publishing under a different name, will we even know the book was written by her?


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Review: Ophelia Speaks

Recap: A teenage response to the late 90’s bestseller, Reviving Ophelia, Ophelia Speaks is a book of essays written by teenage girls from around the country. In it, they discuss the issues they face — everything from sex, drugs, and eating disorders to depression, school-related stress and racial issues. For parents of teens, it’s an eye-opener. For teens, it reads like a relatable  diary.

Its predecessor, Reviving Ophelia, was written by a therapist to discuss what teens deal with, but hearing it from the teens themselves in Ophelia Speaks packs a gut-wrenching punch. Suicidal tendencies seem common place, as does experimentation with boys, other girls, and alcohol. That may be frightening for parents, but for many teens, it’s the norm.

The book is divided into chapters focusing on specific issues. Each chapter includes three or four essays from different girls about that topic. Some are poems, some are actual diary entries, but they all tell deeply moving and emotional tales. Some are uplifting, but most tell the stories of lost, confused, frustrated, and sad girls. This is not to say that teenage girls are sad and lost all the time, but a constant lack of confidence is very real for many of them.

Analysis: I enjoyed the book as much as I could, but had to put it down several times and come back to it between books. On a personal note, Ophelia Speaks brought me back to a dark time in my teenage years. It reminded me of the hardships I faced with boys, my parents, school, and a lack of confidence that lead to other issues. Needless to say, it was difficult for me to get through.

Because of the subject matter, I think the book is better suited to teenage girls and parents of teenage girls. For the girls, it’s relatable and would easily make any girl feel less alone in her world of seeming catastrophe. For parents, it would make them more aware of what their daughters struggle with on a regular basis. There’s a lot to be learned from this book — as both a teaching source and a self-help book. For women not quite in the mother-daughter group, it’s still powerful, but doesn’t have the same direct impact as it could. I wish I read it 6 years ago.

Get Ophelia Speaks in paperback for $11.16.

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