The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando resort officially opens tomorrow. And though I've never been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World in my life—and I've never even been tempted to visit Universal Studios (the lines! the pricey souvenirs!) . . . after reading New York Times reporter Neil Genzlinger's report on the Potter-themed amusement park, all I want to do is apparate down to Florida.
The art director for the park is Alan Gilmore, who also worked as Art Director for the Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire films. And if Genzlinger's article (and accompanying video) is any indication, the park's effect is quite magical. Ollivanders, the Three Broomsticks, the Hog's Head, even Dervish & Banges . . . it's all there.
I don't know about you Potterheads, but as far as I'm concerned November 19 cannot come soon enough (the release date of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1).
Will anyone be checking out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando?
Sundee Frazier won the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award for her middle grade novel Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It, about a 10-year-old biracial child who uses detective-like skills to uncover the history of his past.
In her first novel, author Sundee Frazier is careful to draw Brendan as a well-rounded character with both silly and serious sides. She weaves suspense into Brendan's search for self and throws in a bit of science along the way. Readers, even reluctant ones, will read on to see where Brendan's journey will lead.
Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame has signed a deal to write two novels for Grand Central.
The first of the two is called The Two Mrs. Stones and is about "a love triangle" (a lot of possibilities there!). It will be published in 2012 .
This news comes just weeks after the publication of The Carrie Diaries, Bushnell's YA Sex and the City prequel about Carrie's years in high school.
Have you had enough of Bushnell's world of cosmos, designer shoes and wealthy Manhattanites, or will you count down the days until the new book's release?
Also in BookPage: a handwritten interview with Candace Bushnell.
More from Simon Hopkinson, whose new book, The Vegetarian Option (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), was Sybil Pratt's Cookbook of the Month for June. This recipe mixes meaty eggplant with fresh pesto, a flavor combo that's hard to beat.
An old favorite, which I could not resist including here.
1 large eggplant
about 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts
a large bunch of basil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan
½ lemon, to serve
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half, through the stalk. Using a small, sharp knife, make a crisscross pattern across the cut surfaces, to a depth of about 3/4 inch. Brush with a little of the olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The flesh should be very soft.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, then remove from the skillet and cool. Process the basil, garlic, and pine nuts, together with a little salt and pepper, to a paste in a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle for a more authentic result). Now add enough of the olive oil to produce a loose-textured purée.
Finally, briefly mix in the cheese. Spread the pesto over the scored surfaces of the eggplant and broil until golden and bubbling. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Reprinted from The Vegetarian Option by Simon Hopkinson. Copyright (c) 2010. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
Late last week, Doubleday unveiled the cover for John Grisham's newest legal thriller on the author's official Facebook page:
That image is Lady Justice—blindfolded—signifying the objective nature of justice (or, justice as it should be).
There's no real information available on the plot yet; all we know is that The Confession is filled with "the intriguing twists and turns that have become Grisham’s trademark."
To build buzz, there was a 59-foot-long banner on the Javits Center at BEA:
The Confession is out October 26, about 21 months after the publication of Grisham's latest legal thriller, The Associate, and less than a year after the publication of Ford County and Thedore Boone: Kid Lawyer.
Will you read The Confession? Any plot predictions?
Also in BookPage: Browse our Grisham archives.
The trailer for Never Let Me Go (based on Kazuo Ishiguro's latest novel) is live, and we have to agree with the Wall Street Journal: This is pure Oscar-bait. Starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Rampling and Andrew Garfield (Red Riding, 1974), the performances should live up to the nuanced source material and compelling story.
In fact, after watching the trailer, it looks like the transition to film will help ameliorate what was, to me, the novel's major flaw--its detatched narration. Sure, it was a reflection of the way the students at Hailsham were conditioned to think of themselves, and it added to the chilling aspects of the novel's premise (which, on the off chance the movie keeps it quieter than the book, I won't reveal here), but it ultimately left me not caring as much about the students' fates as I might otherwise.
Did you read Never Let Me Go? Will you see the movie?
Related in BookPage: our review of Never Let Me Go.
If you've got some time to kill online, or you'd like to join an interesting conversation about the impact of books, follow the "books that changed my life" thread on Twitter. (I'd say, at this moment, people are responding via Twitter at a a rate of about 5 tweets a minute.)
All you have to do is click here and read the tweets, all marked with the #booksthatchangedmylife hashtag. (And, if you have a twitter page, tweet your own response!)
Publishers, book bloggers and readers everywhere are getting into it, and answers range from classic novels to reference texts to picture books.
If you're not into tweeting, feel free to leave your answer in the comments right here on The Book Case.
Update: #booksthatchangedmyworld is also a popular topic on Twitter.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Crown, $26, February 2, 2010
All the HeLa cells ever grown would weigh about 50 million metric tons, and HeLa cells are still used in labs around the world. They have helped develop drugs for treating numerous diseases, from influenza to Parkinson's. While this research was taking place—and pharmaceutical companies were making millions of dollars—Henrietta's family could not afford health insurance.
Skloot spent 10 years of her life working on this book, and over that time period she became close with the Lacks family, especially Deborah Lacks, Henrietta's daughter and the heart of the book. The excerpted passage describes the moment Deborah agreed to cooperate with Skloot.
A few days later, ten months after our first conversation, Deborah called me. When I answered the phone, she yelled, "Fine, I'll talk to you!" She didn't say who she was and didn't need to. "If I'm gonna do this, you got to promise me some things," she said. "First, if my mother is so famous in science history, you got to tell everybody to get her name right. She ain't no Helen Lane. And second, everybody always say Henrietta Lacks had four children. That ain't right, she had five children. My sister died and there's no leavin her out of the book. I know you gotta tell all the Lacks story and there'll be good and bad in that cause of my brothers. You gonna learn all that, I don't care. The thing I care about is, you gotta find out what happened to my mother and my sister, cause I need to know."
She took a deep breath, then laughed.
"Get ready, girl," she said. "You got no idea what you gettin yourself into."
What are you reading today?
You're going to hear more about this story, as next month Focus Features will start shooting a movie adaptation, with Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) and Anne Hathaway starring.
According to UK paper The Guardian, the book was made for the screen:
Former actor David Nicholls writes novels with at least one eye on the big screen. Having successfully translated his debut Starter For Ten into a film, his latest novel suggests more feelgood outings to the local picture house. One Day tells the story of potential love thwarted by the disappointments of post-university existence. It begins with a drunken tryst on the night of Emma and Dexter's graduation, and each subsequent chapter visits the pair on the same day of the year as they stumble through their adult lives. While the plot might sound like a movie pitch, Nicholls is a great comic writer, and One Day's characters are so luminously rendered that they quickly assume heart-thumping significance.
For a preview of the novel, read chapter one on Vintage's website.
When Trisha sent me the link to this trailer, she joked that "we're draining the blood from the vamp craze." (Amish vampires, anyone?) Still, seems like the trend isn't going anywhere, and Blood Oath author Christopher Farnsworth got a major nod when Janet Maslin mentioned his novel in a New York Times roundup of guilt-free reads. As you might guess from the book's tagline ("The Ultimate Secret. The Ultimate Agent. The President's Vampire."), Blood Oath is about the President's undead protector. Not hooked yet? Take a look at the dramatic trailer:
Will you read Blood Oath? What book trailers are you buzzing about this week?