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From Harry Potter-style mega-hits to controversy over banned books to hot competition for literary prizes, there is never a dull moment in the book world. Chapter & Verse keeps readers up-to-date on the latest in literary headlines. Check in with us daily to learn about books and their people - those who write them and those who love them.

Candace Bushnell, who is serving as executive producer for the CW series 'The Carrie Diaries,' a 'Sex and the City' prequel, discusses the show during a TCA panel. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

'Sex and the City' author Candace Bushnell is hacked, excerpt of her new novel leaked online

By Staff Writer / 05.09.13

Sex and the City” writer Candace Bushnell had the first 50 pages of her new novel leaked online after hacker Guccifer made his or her way into her e-mail and posted the novel excerpt as well as other materials online.

The hacker, who has hacked into other well-known figures’ computers and posted information online about former president George W. Bush’s artistic efforts, posted the novel excerpt online, then tweeted about it from Bushnell’s account.

“Here you can read my last book 'killing monica' first 50 pages; enjoy as long as you can!” Guccifer tweeted from Bushnell’s account.

The hacker then uploaded screenshots of Bushnell’s correspondence with her agents as they tried to decide what to do, according to Gawker.

“The pages I sent Heather and Deb Futter at Grand Central Publishing from my new book, Killing Monica, have been HACKED… in other words, the beginning of the new book is now online for free,” Bushnell wrote in an e-mail to her agents.

The excerpt from the book, currently titled “Killing Monica,” features a woman named Pandy, who is telling a cab driver about her problems, including her divorce, as the driver takes her to the airport.

The pages were made available to the public through a link on the tweet made by Guccifer that led to a Google Drive account. The account contained screenshots of the manuscript’s pages.

Manuscripts leaking online are nothing new, of course. O.J. Simpson’s book “If I Did It,” which detailed how Simpson would have performed the murders of which he was accused if he had, in fact, committed them, was leaked online in 2007. Also in 2007, parts of the last book in the “Harry Potter” series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” were posted online before the book’s July 2007 publication.

“Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer found parts of her manuscript of the book “Midnight Sun,” a re-imagining of the book “Twilight” from hero Edward Cullen’s point of view, had been posted online in 2008 and Meyer abandoned work on the manuscript after the leak, writing on her site that she felt “too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun.”

More recently, “Girls” creator, writer and star Lena Dunham had her 66-page book proposal posted online after she submitted it to Random House and, after the website Gawker posted the entire proposal on its site, Dunham’s legal representation asked that the proposal be taken down. Gawker complied but left excerpts of the proposal in its article.

Actor Hugh Laurie (l.) and Stephen Fry (r.) portrayed aristocrat Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves in a TV adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's novels. (AP)

P.G. Wodehouse fans, rejoice! Sebastian Faulks will pen a new Bertie Wooster novel

By Staff Writer / 05.08.13

The story of aristocrat Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves is being revived in a new novel by British author Sebastian Faulks, who is writing the book with the permission of the P.G. Wodehouse estate.

Faulks’ novel “Jeeves and the Wedding Bells” will be the first-ever story about the duo authorized by Wodehouse’s estate, according to the Guardian. The estate approached Faulks, who has created new stories for British literary icons before with his authorized James Bond novel “Devil May Care,” and asked him to create an original Jeeve and Wooster story.

in an interview with the BBC, Faulks called the request an “honor.”

“Wodehouse is inimitable,” the author said. “But I will do the very best I can…. I hope my story will ring bells with aficionados, but also bring new readers to these wonderful books.”

Of Faulks’ selection, the Wodehouse estate said in a statement that “we are thrilled that so skilful and stylish a novelist, and so perceptive and discerning a reader, has agreed to bring to life the immortal characters Jeeves and Bertie Wooster for the enjoyment of today's audience in a homage to PG Wodehouse.”

“Bells” will be published in the US Nov. 5 and the UK Nov. 6. St. Martin’s Press will release the book in America, while the British version will come from publisher Hutchinson.

Jeeves and Wooster first appeared in a 1915 short story titled “Extricating Young Gussie” and were the subject of numerous books and short stories by Wodehouse. They were also portrayed in a recent TV adaptation with Hugh Laurie taking the role of Wooster and Stephen Fry playing Jeeves. The series, titled “Jeeves and Wooster,” ran from 1990 to 1993.

A parent is calling for 'The Diary of Anne Frank' to be banned from a Michigan school because of passages the mother calls 'pornographic.'

Is the unabridged 'Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl' too much of a good thing?

By Husna Haq / 05.08.13

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” is under fire again.

This time it’s for passages deemed “pornographic” by a Michigan mom who’s petitioned to have the unabridged version of the book removed from her daughter’s school. The call has drawn national attention from free speech advocates who have slammed the effort, calling it censorship, and are fighting to have the unabridged version of the book remain in Northville district schools.

At issue are passages in which Frank discovers her anatomy and shares her wonderment with readers.

“There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it,” one passage reads. “The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can't imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”

This passage, in addition to ones describing in detail specific parts of the female anatomy, upset parent Gail Horalek.

“It's pretty graphic, and it's pretty pornographic for seventh-grade boys and girls to be reading,” Horalek told Detroit’s Fox affiliate. “It's inappropriate for a teacher to be giving this material out to the kids when it's really the parents' job to give the students this information.”

She added, "It doesn't mean my child is sheltered, it doesn't mean I live in a bubble, and it doesn't mean I'm trying to ban books.”

Horalek launched a formal complaint asking for the unabridged version of the diary to be removed from the school, a petition now under review. She asked that the abridged version, sans graphic passages, be swapped in for the unabridged version. Otherwise, she said, the school should get parental permission before assigning the book.

Known as the “Definitive Version,” the unabridged version of Frank’s diary includes roughly 30 percent more material left out of the original 1947 edition after Frank’s father, Otto, asked the publisher to remove certain passages. The book, which describes the coming of age of a Jewish teenager during the Holocaust as she hides from Nazi police, is a mainstay in schools around the country and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Which is why free speech advocates have jumped on this case.

A bevy of advocates – including the Kids’ Right to Read Project, part of the National Coalition Against Censorship, as well as the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, and publisher Bantam Books – have attacked Horalek’s petition and are urging the school district not to ban the book. To do so, they wrote in a letter to the district, “potentially violates the constitutional rights of other students and parents.”

“The passage in question relates to an experience that may be of particular concern to many of your students: physical changes associated with puberty,” they wrote. “Anne had no books or friends to answer her questions, so she was forced to rely on her own observations. Literature helps prepare students for the future by providing opportunities to explore issues they may encounter in life. A good education depends on protecting the right to read, inquire, question and think for ourselves. We strongly urge you to keep The Diary of a Young Girl in its full, uncensored form in classrooms in Northville.”

As the UK’s Daily Mail pointed out, Horalek is not the first to complain about the Anne Frank’s diary. The American Library Association has received half a dozen challenges against the book in the last two decades, it reports, and a Virginia school district has stopped assigning the unabridged version of the book after a parent there complained. 

What do you think? Should the unabridged version be swapped for the abridged – or is that a kind of censorship?

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

'Ender's Game' stars 'Hugo' actor Asa Butterfield as the film's protagonist. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)

'Ender's Game' first full trailer is released

By Staff Writer / 05.08.13

The first full trailer for the movie adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel “Ender’s Game” has been revealed.

The movie stars “Hugo” actor Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin and Harrison Ford as Colonel Hyrum Graff, the International Fleet commander who becomes Ender’s mentor. Ben Kingsley plays Mazer Rackham, a war hero under whom Ender serves at Command School.

The novel, first published in 1985, is set during a future in which Earth’s population has been decimated by battles with “buggers,” a species of alien. Because another attack by the buggers is feared, children who are thought to have an aptitude for fighting and/or command are taken to a military school so they can be trained.

Ender is taken to this institution, known as Battle School, by Graff and is soon sent to Command School, the next step up in training. He is believed by some, including Graff, to be the only chance Earth has against the buggers.

The trailer is narrated by Ford and explains how Earth has arrived at a place in history where they would be training children for military combat.

“If we’re going to survive, we need a new kind of soldier… one the enemy would never expect,” Ford says as a shot of Butterfield is shown.

“You’ll be the finest commander we’ve ever trained,” Ford tells Butterfield. 

The trailer also shows “True Grit” actress Hailee Steinfeld as Petra Arkanian, a friend Ender makes at school, and “The Help” actress Viola Davis as Major Gwen Anderson, a new character for the movie who may be based on the male Major Anderson in “Game,” an officer who often clashed with Graff. However, in the trailer, Gwen Anderson seems to have doubts about using children as soldiers, asking what looks like Graff, “You really don’t see them as children, do you?”

“Little Miss Sunshine” actress Abigail Breslin is also shown playing Valentine, Ender’s beloved sister.

The movie will be released Nov. 1. Check out the full trailer below.

Selling a used e-book could be viewed as making an illegal digital copy of it. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Federal judge rules that used digital items cannot be sold by consumers

By Staff Writer / 05.07.13

Finished with that digital copy of “The Help” on your Kindle and hoping to sell it somewhere else? 

Sorry – e-books being sold used may not be legal just yet.

ReDigi, a start-up based in Massachusetts which allows users to resell digital music on their site, was told by a federal judge that Capitol Records' rights are violated by such a practice. The company is planning to allow consumers to sell used e-books this summer. ReDigi has been in existence since 2011 and was planning an overhaul late this summer to begin emphasizing e-book content. 

However, Judge Richard Sullivan told ReDigi that it has been violating the rights of Capitol Records by allowing digital music to be resold.

According to the law, e-books are considered an original version of the author’s work. If you’ve already bought a version and then sell it to someone else, you’re making an illegal copy of the original work (the text you downloaded).

By contrast, according to the law, if you sell a used print book to your friend, you’re not making another copy of it, so you’re not going against the author’s copyright.

ReDigi says it believes that by taking a user’s copy of an e-book, putting a watermark on the file, keeping the e-books in the cloud, and selling the right to ownership of the files, it is proceeding according to the law.

According to founder John Ossenmacher, the company still plans to begin its e-book program. He told CNBC Sullivan’s decision about music applies to an earlier version of the ReDigi software and that the company now has new software that complies with the judge’s concerns. The company plans to appeal Sullivan’s decision. Capitol Records did not return CNBC’s request for comment.

According to ReDigi, the new software requires a user to give up the rights to a file when it is sold, and the program checks the seller's computer to make sure there is no hidden copy of the song or album.

In addition, a judge in Germany recently ruled that e-books could not be sold used.

Will legal used e-books ever be a reality? They could be – Amazon recently secured a patent for a “secondary market for digital objects.”

'The Son of Sobek' is being released as a bonus feature for the paperback version of 'The Serpent's Shadow.'

Rick Riordan's Percy-Carter crossover story is here – check out the e-book cover

By Staff Writer / 05.07.13

The e-book cover for “The Son of Sobek,” writer Rick Riordan’s crossover short story bringing together the heroes of his two series, was recently revealed. 

The cover for “The Son of Sobek” shows Percy Jackson of the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series and Carter Kane of the "Kane Chronicles" series both holding weapons as a wave of water rises behind them in front of what looks like some sort of thicket.

“The Son of Sobek” is being included as a bonus feature in the paperback edition of the latest installment of the "Kane Chronicles" series, “The Serpent’s Shadow,” which hits stores today. “The Son of Sobek” will be released by itself as an e-book on June 19.

The "Heroes of Olympus" series follows Percy, who grows up on modern-day Earth but is the son of Greek god Poseidon. The "Kane Chronicles" center on Carter and his sister, Sadie, children of an Egyptologist who must contend with the gods of Egypt.

In certain versions of the “The Son of Sobek” e-book, fans will be able to access audio of Riordan himself narrating the story and check out a preview of the eighth book in the “Heroes of Olympus” series, which will be titled “The House of Hades.” That book is scheduled for an October release.

Riordan said part of the fun of writing “The Son of Sobek” was seeing how his two protagonists interacted.

“Carter and Percy are as different as two heroes can get,” he told USA Today. “Percy is kind of impetuous and sarcastic and Carter is very thoughtful and reserved, so when they get together at first it's like oil and water. They don't seem like a very good team at first, but they do have more in common than you might think. It's really about them learning to trust each other and learning to work together. It was fascinating for me to throw the two of them together from two very different worlds and see what happens.”

A sequel to the first film adaptation of Riordan’s Percy books, titled “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters,” is due in theaters this August. On the print front, Riordan is also planning a new series based around on Norse gods.

Haruki Murakami's newest novel, 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,' does not yet have a US release date. (Elena Seibert/Knopf)

'1Q84' author Haruki Murakami makes his first public appearance in Japan in 18 years

By Staff Writer / 05.07.13

Japanese writing star Haruki Murakami spoke about his new novel at Kyoto University in what was his first public appearance in Japan in 18 years.

Murakami’s book, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” became an immediate bestseller in Japan after its April release, but there are as yet no plans to print the book in English.

Those who wished to attend Murakami’s engagement entered a lottery and 500 were eventually selected. During the event, the author said that he decided to appear in honor of psychologist Hayao Kawai, a friend of his who died in 2007.

At the university, Murakami discussed the themes of his new novel, which focuses on an engineer who travels to Finland and Japan to meet with friends with whom he had severed ties years earlier.

“People get hurt and close their minds, but as time passes, they gradually open up, and they grow as they repeat that,” the author said, according to Reuters. “This novel is about growth.”

Murakami’s last public appearance came after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, when he read his work in an attempt to raise money for those affected.

Louisa May Alcott learned from her mother, Abigail, to think of women as equal to any man.

Mother's Day: why we should be thanking Louisa May Alcott and Marmee

By Eve LaPlanteContributor / 05.06.13

This weekend, as we pay tribute to mothers, we should remember not only the women who nurtured us – mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, aunts, and teachers – but also the brave maternal figures of the past who paved our way. For centuries, female activists and writers struggled, often without public recognition, for the freedoms we enjoy today. In a nation replete with founding fathers, it seems necessary to acknowledge foremothers, too.

I’ve been inspired by Louisa May Alcott and her mother, the model for “Marmee” in Alcott’s 1868 classic, "Little Women." Alcott was childless but gave readers a good deal of motherly advice. Unlike most of her peers, Alcott believed girls should have the same opportunities as boys. Jo March, her teenage alter ego, promises to “do something splendid” with her life, “something heroic, or wonderful – that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead.” Alcott herself envisioned a future world in which women would have the same public rights as men, to vote, travel, speak out, and run governments. During her final decade, she used the bully pulpit of her celebrity to urge girls and women to assert their rights.

“Wait for no man,” Alcott advised her readers in 1877, when it was still improper for a woman to walk outside unescorted by a man. Young women should educate themselves through travel, she wrote. A lengthy European tour she had taken with a sister and a female friend “proved,” despite “prophecies to the contrary,” that women could travel “unprotected safely over land and sea ... experience two revolutions, an earthquake, an eclipse, and a flood” and yet encounter “no disappointment.” Assuming a motherly tone, Alcott wrote, “We respectfully advise all timid sisters now lingering doubtfully on shore, to strap up their bundles in light marching order, and push boldly off. They will need no protector but their own courage, no guide but their own good sense.... Bring home empty trunks, if you will, but heads full of new and larger ideas, hearts richer in the sympathy that makes the whole world kin, hands readier to help on the great work God gives humanity.”

Where did Alcott learn to think this way? Not from Dr. Johnson, who encouraged young men to explore the world, but from her mother, who was also her mentor and muse. Abigail May Alcott, born in 1800, was raised, to her regret, without formal schooling. Expected only to marry and raise a family, Abigail watched with longing as her brother received a “man’s education” to prepare for a career. “Stand up among your fellow men,” their father admonished her brother on his college graduation. “Improve your advantages. Go anywhere.”

Eighteen-year-old Abigail refused the hand of a man her father selected and then left home for a year to study with a friend of her brother’s. “I have undertaken” Latin, she informed her parents. Thrilled to translate a chapter of the Latin New Testament into English each Sunday, she confided, “If I should not succeed I should be mortified to have you know it. I wish my pride was subdued as regards this. I am not willing to be thought incapable of any thing.”

This determination would prove invaluable. At nearly 30 she proposed to the oddball reformer Bronson Alcott, with whom she had a difficult marriage and four daughters. Through three decades of poverty and intermittent homelessness, Abigail worked as a seamstress and social worker, encouraged her daughters’ education and careers, and dedicated herself to ending slavery and securing the vote for women.

A woman can accomplish as much as a man, Abigail May Alcott told her daughters so often they came to believe her. “Be something in yourself,” she advised every young woman she met. “Educate yourself up to your senses. I say to all the dear girls, keep up! Let the world feel that you are on its surface, alive!”

All her life Abigail May Alcott felt the absence of her father’s advice to a son: Stand up among your fellow men. Improve your advantages. Go anywhere.

With a fierce maternal love, she conveyed to her daughters a similar message, which Louisa relayed to us: Educate yourself up to your senses. Be something in yourself. Let the world know you are alive. Push boldly off. Wait for no man. Have heads full of new and larger ideas. And proceed to the great work God gives humanity.

Let us give thanks for our foremothers on Mother’s Day. Most are forgotten or hidden, and nearly all lacked political power. But we owe them gratitude for the sacrifices they made for their daughters, sacrifices that inspire us today.

Eve LaPlante is the author, most recently, of "Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother," and the editor of "My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa's Mother. " 

David Sedaris's newest essay collection, 'Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls,' was released April 23.

David Sedaris's new essay collection: big sales, mixed reviews

By Staff Writer / 05.06.13

Essay-writing superstar David Sedaris has released a new collection titled “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” and it’s topping bestseller lists despite receiving mixed reviews.

“Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” was released last month on April 23 and currently holds the number one spot on both the combined print and e-book nonfiction and the print nonfiction New York Times bestseller list for the week of May 12. It’s also at number one on the Hardcover Nonfiction list for IndieBound’s April 29 list. The book is Sedaris’s newest work since “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk,” a collection of humorous stories about animals that came out in 2010. His last collection of personal essays, “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” came out in 2008.

Critical reception of the new collection has been uneven. Monitor critic Lisa Weidenfeld said much of Sedaris’s work is still hilarious.

“Sedaris remains as quick-witted as ever,” she wrote. “Even in an essay in which he’s going after the low-hanging fruit of a basic language seminar, he’s still going to force you to interrupt whatever your friends and loved ones are doing to explain to them why you’re sitting there giggling.”

However, Weidenfeld noted that some of Sedaris’s topics make it seem like the writer is losing perspective a bit, as in an essay where he is shocked by how much the English litter and starts picking up trash from the ground. 

“The concept of the world-famous author walking around with grimy fingernails and picking up empty McDonald’s bags is comical on its own,” she wrote. “But even within that context, it’s still an essay about a wealthy man with the time to go hike around the countryside all day.”

Los Angeles Times writer Heather Havrilesky, on the other hand, enjoyed the book wholeheartedly.

"How do you describe having your laptop stolen in Hawaii or purchasing property in West Sussex and evoke the same relatable pathos and longing that you conjured as a confused gay kid growing up middle class in North Carolina?" she wrote. "But Sedaris pulls it off, not only by throwing in plenty of fresh stories about his youth but also by adhering closely to the emotional heart of each tale.... David Sedaris really is that good. And, based on this latest collection, he's getting only better."

NPR critic Heller McAlpin enjoyed all of Sedaris’s essays but found imagined monologues, in which Sedaris tells the imaginary stories of characters like a man who opposes gay marriage, less charming.

“Sedaris' targets, with their exaggerated stupidity, seem too obvious,” McAlpin wrote. “Also, much of the charm of Sedaris' writing lies precisely in his own voice and inflections, which he sublimates in these pieces.”

Guardian critic David Shariatmadari agreed, writing that he enjoyed all the essays but found the fiction pieces “unnecessarily vicious.”

“They drip with contempt for the kind of teapartying middle American who loves guns and hates gay marriage,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly writer Thom Geier wondered if, after so many essay collections, “[Sedaris’s] well of humiliation may be, if not dry, then verging on merely moist.”

“There's a lot more filler here,” Geier wrote.

However, Geier noted that many of the essays are still worth exploring and, unlike some others, he enjoyed Sedaris’s fiction pieces. 

“There are still plenty of well-cut gems… some of his best new work is outright fiction,” he wrote.

Comic books are set aside at comic book store Brave New Worlds in Philadelphia to be given away on Free Comic Book Day. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Free Comic Book Day: What is it and how can you celebrate?

By Staff Writer / 05.03.13

Oh yes, it's going to be a big weekend for comic book fans: In addition to today's release of the “Iron Man 3 movie” tomorrow is also Free Comic Book Day worldwide.

The celebration, which is held on the first Saturday in May each year, first occurred in 2002 and gives fans an opportunity to get select comic books for free. Not every comic store participates, but it’s estimated that more than 2,000 stores across the globe participated last year.

This year, the roster of comic books being given away includes “Superman Special Edition,” a “Walking Dead” special issue, “Action Time Buddies,” and a combination “Sesame Street” and “Strawberry Shortcake” issue. Comic books for FCBD are chosen by retailers that are selected to be the deciders by Diamond Comic Distributers, the company behind the celebration. The number of free comic books available depends on the store.

The comics being given away are separated into Gold and Silver categories. Typically, the Gold publications are books released by a more high-profile publisher.

Diamond Comic Distributers is estimating more than 4.6 million comic books will be given away this year.

Not every comic book store will be participating, but you can search for one near you by using the store location tool found on the Free Comic Book Day website.

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