TIME Books

Rainbow Rowell’s Landline is a Screenplay Waiting to Happen

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Landline by Rainbow Rowell St. Martin's Press

Landline offers another reason to get excited about Rainbow Rowell—even if it falls short of her other books

Rainbow Rowell made a name for herself penning last year’s funny and heartfelt young-adult fiction novels Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, the latter of which is headed to the big screen and has already been labeled “the next The Fault in Our Stars.” (As if a great YA novel can’t stand on its own.) Her fourth book, Landline, is the best-selling author’s first novel of adult fiction since her 2011 debut, Attachments, but the labels aren’t worth stressing: Landline might not have any teenage protagonists, but it does have all the pleasures of Rowell’s YA work — immediate writing that’s warm and energetic — even if it’s not her strongest love story to date.

In Landline, out now, television writer Georgie McCool gets stuck at work the week of Christmas while her fed-up husband Neal takes the kids to Omaha for the holidays, leaving Georgie to wonder if the rift in their marriage has finally reached its breaking point. When she discovers a magical landline in her childhood home that connects her to a Neal from the past, she has a chance to save their marriage — or save them the trouble and prevent it from happening.

If that all sounds like a great premise for an offbeat rom-com, you’re right — Landline probably should be. Reading the dialogue-heavy novel at times feels like reading a script that’s meant to be fleshed out on screen later. While moments of stream-of-consciousness narration captured the intense, messy thoughts of two teenagers falling in love in the excellent Eleanor & Park, similar moments and inner monologues border on repetitive in Landline. That’s not to say grown-ups with kids can’t ever think like teenagers (or vice versa), it’s just that these characters aren’t Rowell’s most memorable: Georgie’s back-and-forth fretting about Neal doesn’t have the same stakes when readers don’t get to know the couple or their marriage as well as they did, say, Cath and Levi, characters from Fangirl who felt so real and complete it’s no surprise they’ve inspired volumes of fan art.

There are other frustrations. Rowell has a knack for toying with readers’ instincts — leading them toward one conclusion for pages and pages and then suddenly and thrillingly confirming or subverting those suspicions — but one of Landline’s twists, if you can call it that, is too predictable to be truly satisfying. The novel also sets out to explore a number of worthwhile questions, like whether Georgie can achieve the oh-so-elusive work-life balance, but instead of answering them all, it leaves a few hanging.

Despite these complaints, though, Landline won’t do much to diminish enthusiasm for Rowell or her upcoming projects. When the author announced she’d be handling the screenplay for the Eleanor & Park movie, Rowell was up for the challenge. “I have never written a screenplay” she told MTV, “but I had never written a book before I wrote a book. I’m going to do my best.” If Landline is any indication, she has little to worry about. The book’s most enjoyable moments — like the quippy banter between Georgie and her family — are the same ones most deserving of a screen adaptation.

TIME Television

George R.R. Martin Has a Message For Anyone Who Thinks He Won’t Finish A Song of Ice and Fire: “F**k You”

George R.R. Martin at the "Game Of Thrones" Panel - Comic-Con International 2013
Wrtier George R.R. Martin speaks onstage during the "Game Of Thrones" panel during Comic-Con International 2013 on July 19, 2013 in San Diego, California. Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

The author said he finds the question offensive — and punctuated his remarks with a middle finger

For all the endless hand-wringing from Game of Thrones fans — and there’s plenty of it — the greatest common concern is that author George R.R. Martin won’t finish all of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Martin is 65 and he’s not known for his fitness; add to that Martin’s slowed writing pace and a seemingly endless string of publicity obligations for HBO, and it’s not too much of a stretch to understand why Thrones fanatics have some doubts.

Martin has mostly remained quiet on the subject, but in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger this week, he issued a Targaryen-worthy response: “I find that question pretty offensive, when people start speculating about my death and my health,” he said. “So f**k you to those people.” The author even added a middle finger for good measure.

The Song of Ice and Fire scribe is currently working on the sixth novel in the series, which is slated for seven books — though Martin’s editor hinted at the possibility of an eighth book last month.

Part of the trouble for Martin is that the author only works at home, not while traveling or on the road — two things that occupy a considerable amount of time, not to mention his occasional writing obligations for the show itself. Of course, Martin need not finish the books for the HBO show to move on (and the show has increasingly diverted from certain of the book’s plot points), but it’s unlikely that fans — those of either the book or the TV show — want to find out what Westeros is like without him.

[Tages-Anzeiger via Warming Glow]

TIME Books

How Harry Potter’s Characters Have Changed

Check in on 'the Boy Who Lived' to see how his thirties are shaping up


It’s only been seven years since J.K. Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but the titular boy wizard would turn 34 this year, according to a new story by the Scottish author.

Rowling treated Potter fans in June when she penned dispatches for a 2014 Quidditch World Cup on her site Pottermore in Ginny Weasley’s voice, but it was Rita Skeeter who broke the big story on Tuesday.

Writing as her gossipy animagus journalist, Rowling follows Dumbledore’s Army as they watch the Quidditch World Cup, giving readers a glimpse into their favorite characters’ futures without so much as a crystal ball for divination.

TIME Books

Harry Potter Characters: Where Are They Now?

Emma Watson aka Hermione Granger Getty Images (2)

All the updates from a tabloid dispatch from "Rita Skeeter," and some we imagined ourselves...

J.K. Rowling just can’t quit the Harry Potter series. The author penned an official update on her website Pottermore Tuesday, in the tabloid-esque voice of Daily Prophet gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter.

If you haven’t the time to read all 1,500 words of Skeeter’s breathless dispatch, here’s a quick guide to where your Potter favorites are today — and a little commentary on what characters she left out might now be up to:

Harry Potter:

It turns out that Harry is not quite a millennial. The famous wizard is on the cusp of his 34th birthday and his hair is actually showing signs of gray. (Why, JK? Why?) Potter has two young sons, James (after his father) and Albus (after Dumbledore), and —according to the Deathly Hallows epilogue— a daughter named Lily Luna. His marriage to Ginny is intact, although his face shows signs of fresh struggle. Potter has an ambiguous scar over his right cheekbone that he got while working in the Auror department of the Ministry of Magic.

Ron Weasley:
Rowling has proven that her characters really can’t have it all in the hair department. According to the article, his “”famous ginger hair appears to be thinning slightly.” But at least he is still happily married to Hermione with two kids, named Hugo and Rose. While Ron began his career with BFFL Harry in the Ministry of Magic, he now co-manages his brother Geoge’s wizarding joke shop Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. He also shows “no obvious signs of mental illness,” so that’s good.

Hermione Granger:
Unsurprisingly, Hermione kept her last name and acts as the Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The mother of two also has to answer annoying media questions about work/life balance (and perhaps immigration law?). Even witches have to Lean In, I guess.

Ginny Potter (Nee Weasley)
Too old for nicknames, Ginerva is a journalist covering the Quidditch World Cup at the Daily Prophet. Start tweeting, media scene. She’s just like us.

Viktor Krum:
Still a Bulgarian seeker. Still friends with Harry. And our guess is that he is still in need of a good pair of tweezers.

Neville Longbottom:
Neville became a popular Herbology teacher at Hogwarts. He is married to a woman named Hannah, who is rumored to be on the hiring track as a Matron at Hogwarts. They lived above the Leaky Cauldron and like a good Ogden’s Old Firewhisky every now and then.
Editor’s Note: Neville may also do light modeling when Hogwarts is on break because LOOK AT HIM:

British actor Matthew Lewis, played Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter AFP—AFP/Getty Images

Luna Lovegood:
Luna Lovegood married Magizoologist Rolf Scamander, whose father Newt wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We wish them well on their hunt for Crumple-horned Snorkacks. They have twin sons.

George Weasley:
George is the wealthy co-manager of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

Charlie Weasley:
Bachelor. A dragon wrangler. Fan fiction in 3…2…1…

Percy Weasley:
Percy is the Head of the Department of Magical Transportation. Obviously.

Bill Weasley:
In spite of scarring from a werewolf encounter, he married Fleur Delacour. They have a beautiful daughter named Victoire who likes making out with Harry’s godson Teddy Lupin.

But of course, Rowling couldn’t get to all of our favorite characters. Here is our own fan-fiction guess at what some unmentioneds are up to right now (with apologies to Rowling):

Dudley Dursley:
Dudley is currently nursing a minor credit card debt due to excessive Candy Crush habits and Type 2 diabetes due to excessive candy eating habits. On the bright side, however, his temperament has improved and Harry is on the family Christmas card list.

Draco Malfoy:
Malfoy is married with children and works as the head of a ethically precarious division of Gringotts Bank. His robes are always perfectly tailored and monogrammed.

Cho Chang:
Cho is a defense against the Dark Arts tutor.

Molly Weasley:
The grandmother of 12 has a booming Etsy business for her knitting.

Moaning Myrtle
Still in the Hogwarts girls’ bathroom terrorizing witches about their periods (and just about everything else)

Rita Skeeter:
Rita will be a “journalist” until the very end. Although the Daily Prophet gossip columnist is currently under investigation for wand tapping.

TIME Books

Can Hermione From Harry Potter ‘Have It All’?

11/00/2001. Film "Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone"
Hermione Grainger (Emma Watson) WEINBERGER K./GAMMA—Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

An aside by Rita Skeeter gets at a pretty profound question

It’s commonly accepted that “having it all” — the catchall phrase for a person, usually a woman, having a fulfilling career and family life all at once — isn’t easy. Anne-Marie Slaughter famously thinks it’s possible, but not in today’s world. The CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi, says it’s just not possible. Kim Kardashian, apparently, believes it can be achieved if you work really hard — despite any evidence to the contrary.

But maybe it’s even harder than anyone thought — so much so that even magic doesn’t make it easy.

In her newly released update on the denizens of the Harry Potter universe, which arrived July 8 in the form of a Rita Skeeter gossip column posted to Rowling’s Potter hub Pottermore.com, author J.K. Rowling included this tidbit on the life of Hermione Weasley (née Granger):

After a meteoric rise to Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she is now tipped to go even higher within the Ministry, and is also mother to son, Hugo, and daughter, Rose. Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all? (No — look at her hair.)

This is unsurprising: Rowling has made clear in the past that the question of “having it all” is one with which she’s wrestled. Rowling has said in the past that Molly Weasley’s lack of a day job doesn’t make her “just a mother”; that there’s a level of equality possible in the wizarding world that’s rare in ours, since there’s no question that both sexes can be just as good at spells; and that Hermione — who Rowling says is an “exaggeration” of herself — shows how difficult it is to live up to external ideas of what’s expected of a woman. Those familiar with Rowling’s pre-Potter days will may also see a real-life parallel, as she’s described her status at that time as “full-time mother, part-time worker, secret novelist.” As Hermione and her creator—and even the actress who played her—have learned, fame and money can make working women busy in a different — but still imperfect — way.

But, in a way, the answer to the question of having it all is buried in that snippet about Hermione — and the answer is “yes.”

After all, Rita Skeeter, in whose voice Rowling has presented her latest story, isn’t exactly a reliable narrator. Rather, she’s invested in putting Hermione down, and her proof that Hermione can’t have it all is one that Rowling herself has already countered. Hermione’s hair is unruly, and we know that even witches are subjected to unrealistic standards of beauty (well, unrealistic for non-veela witches, at least), but we also know that there are magical ways to fit in. A little Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion could make Hermione’s hair lie flat, but in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione notes that it’s just too much of a bother to spend a lot of time every day worrying about her hair.

If Hermione’s hair doesn’t match Rita Skeeter’s standards, that’s her prerogative — and that sounds, in terms of having it all, pretty magical.


TIME celebrities

The Tao of Ja: 10 Things We Learned From Reading Ja Rule’s New Book

Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - October 18, 2013
Rommel Demano—Getty Images

The rapper talks to TIME about the surprising personal facts he reveals in his memoir

Most of us know Ja Rule as the rapper who dominated the airwaves in the early 2000s with a steady succession of hit songs. (“Murder, Inc!”) But in his new memoir, titled Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man, the rapper sets out to paint a more complete picture of himself. In the book, on shelves now, Ja Rule (born Jeffrey Atkins) reflects on his past struggles with a difficult adolescence in New York City and everything that followed, from breakout success and destructive rivalries to fatherhood and a two-year prison sentence.

Unruly also reveals a few lesser-known tidbits about the rapper, who sat down with TIME to offer some insight about each of these surprising facts.

1. He grew up Jehovah’s Witness

He lived with his grandparents, who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, from age 6 to 12, attending church regularly and going door-to-door to help seek new members. “It was a tough and very strict religion,” Ja says. “No birthdays, no holidays, no Christmas. That type of stuff is tough on a kid, especially when everyone around you is celebrating those days, and you’re trying to figure out why we don’t get to celebrate too. For a lot of years I just thought my grandparents were cheap.”

2. He lost his virginity at 10 or 11

He can’t remember which one exactly — but he knows it made him more promiscuous at a young age. “Having your first taste, you know, like a vampire having your first taste of blood, is something you don’t want to stop. You want to continue.”

3. He originally wrote “Can I Get A…” and then agreed to let Jay Z have it

While Ja Rule still had a verse on the track, it went down in history as a Jay Z song. “At the time I felt like — maybe I am shorting myself, maybe if I would have kept it for myself, maybe my album would have sold three million copies,” he says. “That was a great moment for me though, because it really launched my career, that record.”

4. He started selling crack at 14

It was the easiest way he could find to make money, and he continued selling until he got a record deal with Def Jam in 1998. “I wanted to secure my career in music, and I knew if I got in trouble or got arrested, that probably wouldn’t happen. I kind of slowed down.”

5. He met his wife in 8th grade shop class

“I’ve known that woman for a long time. It’s good to meet your soulmate, so to speak, at an early age, and go through life together, growing together. I watched her grow up, she watched me grow up.”

6. He grew up in Hollis, Queens — the same place as Run-D.M.C.

“They were a big influence on my life and my rhymes. They were guys who were from my backyard. To see them go out there and make it, it gave me the feeling that I could make it too.”

7. He has a tattoo dedicated to his baby sister, who died in the womb

It says “Kristen,” which is the name his mom gave her. “I’m an only child, so I always wonder what it would be like to have a brother or sister, and that was my only shot at it,” Ja says. “I think about it a lot, as I watch my kids grow and see that camaraderie and bond that they have. I wish I would have been able to have that with a sibling, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

8. He once stayed in one of Saddam Hussein’s hunting lodges

Ja Rule performed in Iraq as part of a USO tour, spending time at a U.S. Army base. “After they killed Saddam, they took over all of his properties. They had me stay at his hunting lodge and it said Property of the United States.”

9. Ever since he met Jay Z, he writes his rhymes in his head

When Ja Rule was first breaking into the music scene, he met Jay Z in a recording studio and noticed that Jay had no pen or paper nearby. He’d simply stored all his lyrics in his head. Ja decided to start using that technique too. “That’s when I really learned to hone my craft as an emcee,” he says. “It put me [at] one with the music.”

10. He’s only nine years old

Well, sort of. He was born on February 29th on a leap year. “Yeah, I’m nine. I love that that. I call myself Benjamin Button. Everyone gets older, I get younger.”

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Just Published a New Harry Potter Story

JK Rowling Hosts Fundraising Event For Charity 'Lumos'
Joanne "JK" Rowling attends a charity evening hosted by JK Rowling to raise funds for 'Lumos' a charity helping to reunite children in care with their families in Eastern Europe at Warner Bros Studios on November 9, 2013 in London, England. Danny E. Martindale--Getty Images

On her website Pottermore!

Nearly seven years after publishing the final book in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has given fans an update on the beloved wizard in new writing published to her website Pottermore.

In the new story, written as a gossip-column dispatch from Potter character Rita Skeeter in the Daily Prophet, Harry is now a 30-something with a mysterious cut on his cheek, as well as “a couple of threads of silver” in his hair. He is also married to Ron Weasley’s sister, Ginny Potter, who is now a journalist. Ron, of course, is married to Hermione Granger, while Skeeter writes that his “famous ginger hair appears to be thinning slightly.”

Job-wise, it appears that the three friends all worked together in the Ministry of Magic, though Ron left his job to “co-manage the highly successful wizarding joke emporium Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.” Meanwhile, Hermione — “the femme fatale of the group,” according to Skeeter — is the deputy head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

The update appears in a series of Quidditch World Cup pieces that Rowling has posted to Pottermore to coincide with the World Cup in Brazil. However, this is the first time Rowling has written about her beloved characters as adults since the final Potter book, which likely explains why the website crashed intermittently Tuesday morning.


TIME Books

George R.R. Martin Teases Next Book

"Game Of Thrones" Season 4 New York Premiere
Series creator George R.R. Martin attends the "Game Of Thrones" Season 4 premiere Taylor Hill—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Daenerys and Tyrion will both have major roles

Fans desperate for the next Song of Ice and Fire installment can look forward to a action-packed thriller.

“I think we’re gonna start out with a big smash with the two enormous battles,” George R.R. Martin says of The Winds of Winter, the next installment in his Song of Ice and Fire series upon which the HBO show Game of Thrones is based.

It’s been almost three years since Martin published A Dance With Dragons—the fifth book in what the author says will be a seven-book series—and fans are getting anxious that Martin will never finish series or that Game of Thrones will wrap before he’s done writing. But the author says The Winds of Winter is finally coming, and fans can look forward to even more twists and turns.

“We have more deaths, and we have more betrayals. We have more marriages,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly.

[Warning: Minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter ahead]

Specifically, he went on to say that the Dothraki will be making a reappearance in the series and that “a lot of stuff is happening at The Wall.” He also said Tyrion and Daenerys will “intersect” and will play large roles in the book. “They’re both coming home,” he teased, which should get fans excited if “home” means King’s Landing.

The one detail Martin didn’t reveal is when the book is actually coming out. But a spinoff story by Martin, The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the World of Game of Thrones, is set to hit bookshelves (and satiate fans) in October.


TIME Books

Are You There God? It’s Judy Blume’s New Novel for Adults

Author and producer Judy Blume attends "Tiger Eyes" New York Premiere at AMC Empire on June 7, 2013 in New York City.
Author and producer Judy Blume attends "Tiger Eyes" New York Premiere at AMC Empire on June 7, 2013 in New York City. Robin Marchant—Getty Images

It's never too early to start a 2015 summer reading list

Don’t worry, Margaret, God has been listening to your prayers. Iconic children’s book author Judy Blume will be treating her grown up fans to a new novel slated to be released in the summer of 2015 by Knopf.

The untitled publication will be Blume’s first adult novel since 1998. She will be reuniting with Carole Baron, who edited Summer Sisters.

“Carole and Judy have a long history together, and have been discussing this project for the last four years,” Knopf VP Director of Publicity Nicholas Latimer said. “When our head of house announced this acquisition at our editorial meeting last Thursday, everyone in the room broke out into applause. All as a way of saying, many Judy fans here!”

The editorial staff isn’t alone. Blume wrote childhood classics including Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Deenie, and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

We must, we must, we must get our hands on an advanced reader copy ASAP.

TIME movies

John Green’s Looking for Alaska Will Be a Movie

Film Society Of Lincoln Center's Of 2013 Luncheon
Actress Sarah Polley attends The Film Society of Lincoln Centers Film Comment Best Films of 2013 Luncheon presented by Jaeger-Lecoultre at The Lambs Club on January 7, 2014 in New York City. Neilson Barnard--2014 Getty Images

John Green's first novel will get "The Fault In Our Stars" treatment, with Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley adapting it for the big screen

For those aching to see more of John Green’s work on the big screen post-The Fault In Our Stars, we have good news: Paramount has signed actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley to adapt Green’s first novel Looking for Alaska into a movie.

The book, which was published in 2005, centers on Miles, a young boy starting at a boarding school where he meets the beautiful and troubled Alaska Young, who captivates him along with most of the other boys at school. Unsurprisingly, considering this is a John Green story, there’s also a good deal of tragedy in Alaska.

The news that Looking for Alaska — which had been optioned for the big screen shortly after it was published, but had since stalled — is finally going to happen is likely as exciting for fans as it is for Green himself. The author tweeted the news early Thursday morning:

He has good reason to be excited. Polley, who has won accolades as an actress, director and screenwriter, is a great choice to adapt Looking for Alaska. Her directorial debut was the much-praised 2006 film, Away From Her, which she actually adapted from the famous Alice Munro short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” In addition to Away From Her, Polley has also directed 2011’s Take This Waltz and 2012’s Stories We Tell, a documentary about her own family history.

Looking For Alaska will mark the third Green book to move to the big screen, as Paper Towns, his 2008 novel, is also set to be adapted by the same producers and screenwriters who worked on The Fault in Our Stars. All in all, it’s a great time to be a John Green fan.

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