Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category


Saturday, March 28th, 2015


The HBO/BBC adaptation of  J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, (Hachette/Little, Brown) debuts on HBO April 29th & 30th.

It has already aired in the U.K., where fans resented a change in the ending. As a result, many took to Twitter to urge others to read the book instead.

The trailer for U.S. audiences was just released. Harry Potter fans will recognize one of the actors.

Media Tie-in Edition (cover not yet released):

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
Hachette/Back Bay Books: April 28
Trade Paperback  $18.00 USD, $20.00 CAD

The BBC has also signed the detective series that Rowling wrote under the name Robert Galbraith (The Cukoo’s Calling, The Silkworm) for a series.

It’s a Three Author Week for
Jon Stewart

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart showcases three authors this week.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.45.11 AMMonday started with a bang as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Heretic: Why Islam Needs Reformation Now (Harper), was interviewed by Stewart, who clearly does not agree with her book’s thesis. Excerpted on ABC News, it opens with the assertion that “Islam is not a religion of peace” and goes on to criticize the faith with a broad brush and to suggest five reforms. Stewart pushes hard against the idea that Islam is different in its history of struggle over definition than other religions, pointing out that the Christian Reformation led to over a hundred years of violence triggered by a desire for a purer form of faith. While Hirsi Ali kept to her guns, Stewart was not convinced. The book is rising on Amazon, moving in to the top fifty bestsellers.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.44.39 AMSure to be a much lighter segment, Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead Books; OverDrive Sample), returns to the show tonight. It will be his third appearance with Stewart and based on past interviews the two obviously appreciate each other. Ronson’s book, which will be released early next week, is timely given the current focus on the shaming culture, most centrally highlighted by Monica Lewinsky.
The comic satirist, as Stewart dubs him, has spent years meeting those who have been shamed and those doing the shaming and writes about the fallout on the victims and society as a whole. Ronson’s book was excerpted in the 2/12 NYT Magazine.

By the way, it was recently announced that Scarlett Johanson has signed to star in the film adaptation of Ronson’s earlier book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. He also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats (S&S, 2004), which was the basis for the 2010 movie starring George Clooney.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.46.17 AMJohn Hargrove ends the week with his appearance on Thursday. He will discuss Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish (Palgrave Macmillan; BOT Audio).

Hargrove worked for Sea World and was featured in the searing documentary Blackfish. Kirkus calls his account of his years as a trainer and his current advocacy efforts to change laws regarding orcas in captivity “a shocking, aggressively written marine park exposé.” Hargrove was also a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday which sent his book racing up the Amazon charts.


Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Two separate adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor series are featured in the New York Times online today. In the Television section, it’s the BBC series which begins on PBS Masterpiece on Sunday, April 5th. The Theater Section features the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage adaptation which opens tomorrow in the Winter Garden theater on Broadway (note to those going to BEA, it will be running then).

The six-part TV series has already aired in the U.K. where it’s been a hit. According to the New York Times, it drew “an average of 4.4 million viewers a week, making it the most popular television drama on BBC Two since ratings began in 2002.” (Downton Abbey, which aired on ITV in the UK, has had a much larger audience, from a low of 8.29 million to a high of 12.9 million).

Mark Rylance will play the lead as Thomas Cromwell. Considered “the best actor of his generation” by many, including Al  Pacino, he is less well-known to American audiences than Damien Lewis (Homeland), who costars as Henry VIII. Soon to be a household name here, Rylance costars with Sean Penn in The Gunman opening this weekend and is set to play the lead in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming childrens movie, based on the Roald Dahl story, The BFG.

Rylance is featured in an inside look at the series on BBC News Night:

Promo for the play:

Tie-ins were published this week:

9781250077585_a734f   9781250077608_83fe0

Wolf Hall: As Seen on PBS Masterpiece
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077585, 1250077583
Trade Paperback, $16.00 USD

Bring Up the Bodies: The Conclusion to PBS Masterpiece’s Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel
Macmillan/Picador: March 17, 2015
9781250077608, 1250077605
Trade Paperback, $16.00 USD

The script  of the play is also available. It includes, according to the publisher, “a substantial set of notes by Hilary Mantel on each of the principal characters, offering a unique insight into the plays and an invaluable resource to any reader looking for an even deeper understanding of Mantel’s historical creations.”

9781250064172_adad7Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation, 
Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton (adapted by)
Macmillan/Picador: February 24, 2015
9781250064172, 1250064171
Trade Paperback; $16.00 USD




Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

9781101886045_52d82HBO’s Game of Thrones returns with Season 5 on April 12th. As the SF site, io9 observes, the series has so far been “a remarkably faithful adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s [novels],” but that will change in the new season. Listing five major deviations, they say that’s actually a good thing.

Nevertheless, tie-in editions in mass market and trade paperback are coming 3/31/15 (RH/Bantam).

A new trailer was released yesterday:

Meanwhile, George R.R. Martin has set off fan frenzy by writing on his blog that he is clearing his calendar to work on the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter (no release date has been announced, but some sites claim Martin told reporters earlier that it will come out in October). It will be followed by the final book, A Dream of Spring.

For those who need a refresher on the HBO series so far, the cast tries to sum it up in 30 seconds for Entertainment Weekly.

ELOISE and Lena

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Coming to HBO on March 23rd, the documentary, It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise produced by Lena Dunham.

ALL of Dunham’s tattoos are from children’s books as she reveals in the following interview:


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

After “causing a ruckus at the Sundance Film festival” in January, the documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief  by Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney is set to air on HBO on March 29.

Going ClearThe film is based on the 2013 book by Lawrence Wright (RH/Knopf; RH Audio, BOT; OverDrive Sample) which was called by Salon, “a masterpiece of in-depth reporting packed to the brim with insane details and shocking revelations” and was a National Book Award finalist.

The film features several former high-ranking members of Scientology who allege that the church uses slave labor and abuses those who dare to try to leave. The Church of Scientology struck back with ads in the New York Times.

Below is the HBO trailer.


Sunday, March 8th, 2015

9780670038602  9780143115625  9780670021871_01b1b

Likening Tana French’s novels to the successful HBO series True Detective, a production company has acquired the adaptation rights to In The WoodsThe Likeness and Faithful Place (all Penguin/Viking) with plans to turn it ino a series of its own (one of the comments notes what many librarians will second, “They’re being modest. This series is SO much better than True Detective“).

The announcement in Deadline notes that the book feature interconnecting characters. Coincidentally, The Millions explores that subject in depth, but their comparisons are more literary, from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway to Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, novels which, “generate vertiginous thrills as they dramatize the difficulties of understanding ourselves, other people, and the world at large.”


Friday, February 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 9.11.38 AMOn the heels of the massive success of Fifty Shades of Grey at the box office and the book’s return to bestseller lists, comes news that Anne Rice’s 1980s BDSM trilogy might become a television series.

The company behind Lifetime’s Devious Maids has bought the TV rights to Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy (Plume. 2012; OverDrive Sample), according to The Hollywood Reporter. Rice will executive produce with Rachel Winter (who was nominated for an Oscar for her work on Dallas Buyers Club).

In contrast to her reactions to some of the adaptations of her previous novels, Rice seems happy with Thania St. John as the choice of screenwriter, telling The Hollywood Reporter “Thania’s voice resonates perfectly and will keep this story true to my original vision.” St. John has written for Grimm, Buffy the Vamipre Slayer, Chicago Fire, and Covert Affairs.

Long controversial and frequently challenged in libraries, The Nerdist says the hard core trilogy, first written under the pen name A. N. Roquelaure, “makes 50 Shades of Gray look like an episode of The Brady Bunch.”

USA Today reported last November that Rice is working on a fourth book in the series.


Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Lawrence Hill’s novel Someone Knows My Name, (Norton, 2008) has been adapted as a 6-part TV series, using the book’s original Canadian title, The Book of Negroes. Debuting last night, it will continue over the next two nights.

Critics are mostly favorable, with some predicting that this puts BET in line for its first Emmy nomination.

The following is from our December story about the series:

The novel, a fictional slave narrative, is based on the stories of American slaves who escaped to Canada after the Revolutionary War and were then recruited by British abolitionists to settle in Sierra Leone. The Washington Post praised its “heart-stopping prose” and noted that “Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life.”

Directed by Clement Virgo, the movie stars Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lyriq Bent.

Gossett was interviewed about the series during its premiere at the  Toronto International Film Festival in November. He compares it to another TV mini-series he starred in, Roots.

Learn more at the Official Web Site.




Lawrence Hill
W.W. Norton; January 12, 2015
9780393351392, 0393351394
$15.95 USD

Film/TV Rights Acquired

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

9780385353304_db2df-2TV and movie rights to librarian and bookseller favorite, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, (RH/Knopf, Sept., 2014; RH Audio; Thorndike) have been acquired by Scott Steindorff (producer of Jon Favreau’s Chef).

A number of directors are circling the project according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The novel was a LibraryReads Top Ten Favorite for the year, a National Book Awards finalist and on multiple best books lists.

Oprah Adapting Debut Novel, QUEEN SUGAR

Monday, February 9th, 2015

9780670026135Selma director Ava DuVernay has signed to direct an original TV series for Oprah’s network OWN, based on the novel Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile (Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Thorndike; 2014), which was featured in our Penguin First Flights Debut author program.

Oprah herself will have a recurring role in the series. Production  is expected to begin later this year.

About a woman who leaves her L.A. life to move, with her teenage daughter, to Southern Louisiana, where she has in inherited a sugar cane plantation, it was selected as a book of the week by Oprah’s O magazine, saying, “In Queen Sugar, two bulwarks of American literature—Southern fiction and the transformational journey—are given a fresh take by talented first-time novelist Natalie Baszile.”

In the press release announcing the production, Oprah states, “I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN. The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.”

CASUAL VACANCY Gets U.S. Release Date

Sunday, February 8th, 2015


Eat your hearts out, Colonists — the three-part adaptation of  J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, (Hachette/Little, Brown), begins airing in the U.K. on Feb. 15.

Here in the U.S., we have to wait for its HBO debut on April 29th & 30th.

We are left to console ourselves with the crumbs from the recently released  trailer:

No tie-ins have been announced.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT, ABC Series, Premieres Tonight

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

9780679644880_e6ee1  Fresh Off the Boat Key Art embed

UPDATE: The two-episode debut did well last night, both in terms of ratings and response (“2015’s Best New Sitcom,” Flavorwire;  “Does Asian American Kids Right,” Jezebel):”the latest reason to be grateful for TV’s diversity push,” Slate). The show moves to Tuesday nights beginning next week.

Eddie Huang may sound ambivalent in a profile in the NYT Magazine about the ABC TV series based on his memoir,  Fresh Off the Boat, (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; BOT), but reviewers are not. Premiering with 2 episodes tonight (recently rescheduled from next week), the L.A. Times calls it “a satire that works.” and New York magazine’s “Vulture” column calls, “One of TV’s Most Promising New Comedies.”

The trailer for the show’s pilot, below:

Amazon Turns to Books

Monday, January 19th, 2015

A few years ago, Netflix introduced the world to the idea of bingeing on an entire season of a new series, by streaming al the episodes of House of Cards at one time, following up by doing the same with Orange is the New Black.

Amazon also got into that game. Its series Transparent just made history as the first online series to win two Golden Globe awards, one for best comedy and another show’s star, Jeffrey Tambor as best actor,

Now they have announced their fist drama series. This time, it is based on books. Boschfeaturing the character from Michael Connelly’s best-selling Harry Bosch series, debuts February 13 on Prime Instant Video.

+-+31003037_140   9781455519644

Connelly, who is also a producer for the show, co-wrote the script. According to a story in the production in the Wall Street Journal, it is based on two Bosch titles,,  The Concrete Blonde, (1991, Hachette/Little Brown; #3 in the series) and (City of Bones, 2002; #8).

Amazon has also just  released their 4th “pilot season,” which gives viewers the opportunity to watch and rate seven new pilots aimed at adults and six more for kids (Woody Allen who recently struck a deal with Amazon to create his own series next year, will not have to go through this process. His series will go direct to release).

One of those pilots is based on a book, The Man in the High Castle, adapted by Ridley Scott from the iconic alternate reality novel by Philip K. Dick. The press is giving it high marks (see Entertainment Weekly, the Telegraph and the Seattle Times).

THE SLAP Is “Not About the Slap”

Monday, January 19th, 2015

The SlapThe first full-length trailer for the 8-episode TV series based on the controversial award-winning Australian novel, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, (Penguin, 2010) was released on Friday.

TV critics asked the cast questions about the act that sets off a series of events, a man slapping someone else’s child at a neighborhood barbecue. At one point, during panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Zachary Quinto, the actor who administers the act of corporal punishment told the critics, “It’s not really about the slap. All of these characters come to the table with a tremendous amount of internal conflict and struggle about different aspects of their lives. The great thing about it is it’s a launching point for very little black and white and a lot of gray.”

Also starring Uma Thurman, the series is directed by Lisa Cholodenko, (HBO’s Olive Kitteridge and the movie The Kids are All Right). It premieres Thursday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. NBC.

The book became a reading group staple in both Australia and the U.K. and was made into a popular Australian TV series in 2011 (as a result, some reports cite the new adaptation as a remake of that series, without noting the original source material).

Released in the U.S. as an original trade paperback, it received a strong endorsement from the Washington Post. The reviewer praised it for giving American readers a sense of life in Australia, while exploring subjects that resonate here,

In The Slap we live for a few short weeks in suburban Australia, learning the language, becoming intimate with the characters and experiencing their customs. But finally the novel transcends both suburban Melbourne and the Australian continent, leaving us exhausted but gasping with admiration.

The setting for the American version is Park Slope, Brooklyn.