Book News, March 2016

How about that?! TWO whole blog posts during the month of March. Of course, I had a two-week break for study week and Easter, and I was still working on my research that entire time, but bottom line: I’m trying, bookworms. I promise. March also saw my birthday (yay!), and my second St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland (and I thought Boston took it seriously!). It’s finally starting to feel more like spring, or at least as spring-like as Ireland gets. So enjoy the book news and I’ll keep doing my best to get more content up.

  • Forget basketball! It’s DABWAHA Time! The annual “Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors” is well underway and you can help your favourite romance novel fight its way to victory in the final few rounds. Among the eight different categories are many of my personal favourite authors and novels, including Sonali Dev, Tessa Dare, Nalini Singh and more. The polls are open to anyone, so vote as often as you can, and from as many devices as you can juggle. May the best romance author win!
  • While on the subject of things that are (subjectively, at least) “the best,” the Games Radar website has compiled a list of what it is calling the 50 greatest book-to-movie adaptations. There’s no indication what kind of criteria the website used, so it’s kind of hard to argue with their conclusions. But there are some surprising inclusions (I didn’t know Die Hard was originally a book!) and a wide range of movies going back to the early days of cinema. Still, there were a few book-to-movies missing (Atonement, for one) and I’m not sure I agree with their #1 pick. Maybe you will, though.
  • In other romance news, the Romance Writers Association (RWA) recently announced the finalists for the annual RITA Awards, celebrating the best of the best in the romance genre. With categories for best first book, contemporaries, historical, paranormal, and more, there’s something for just about everyone on the list. Among the finalists are Julia Quinn, Elle Kennedy, and Jill Shalvis. Winners will be announced later this year at the RWA conference in July. Love wins!
  • For those who thought J.K. Rowling could do no wrong – nope! Following Rowling’s release on Pottermore of a series of short essays on the history of magic in North America, several fans, writers, authors, and Native American scholars called Rowling out on her overly simplistic and stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans. Rowling has apparently not responded to any of the criticisms, which I personally find troubling given her previous support for people of all different walks of life. I’m not at all an expert on Native American literature and the response to Rowling, so instead I’ll point you towards Book Riot’s post, which is a good overview of what’s wrong with Rowling’s essays and to Debbie Reese, who has an excellent round-up of responses from Native people to Rowling. (Reese has been writing about this a lot and it would be worthwhile to read her other words as well.)

As always, happy reading.

Lady Bridget’s Diary

Lady Bridget's DiaryAfter her brother unexpectedly inherits a dukedom, Lady Bridget Cavendish and her siblings find themselves struggling to adjust to life in England while facing society’s gossip. Bridget is determined to turn herself into a True Lady – a goal that seems unreachable when she slips and falls during her very first ball. Even worse, the aloof and self-restrained Lord Darcy is there to witness her embarrassing attempts. Soon, Bridget is pouring her heart out in her diary, with frequent mentions of her dislike for the Dreadful Darcy. But given that Bridget and Darcy are now neighbours, they keep running into each other. And before long, kissing is involved. So when Bridget’s diary – and all its secrets – goes missing, she and Darcy must figure out how to save their reputations, and maybe fall in love while they’re at it.

Lady Bridget’s Diary is Maya Rodale’s most recent publication and marks the start of a new series about the Cavendishes, a quartet of American siblings trying to make their way among England’s aristocracy. As the title and the synopsis suggests, Rodale drew inspiration from Bridget Jones’ Diary, which (of course) takes its own inspiration from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The main characters from both find their way into Lady Bridget’s Diary as does some memorable lines. As it turns out, Lord Darcy ends like liking Lady Bridget, just as she is. There are still a few twists and touches that make this book Rodale’s own, and careful readers will notice glimpses and glances of Rodale’s Writing Girls, The London Weekly newspaper, and her Wallflowers (all from previous novels).

Above all, Lady Bridget’s Diary is a fun, enjoyable book to read and credit for that largely goes to Bridget herself. I’ve read many historical romances with heroines who don’t fit in with society’s expectations or who wish to cast off the restraints of the ton’s Ideal Lady, but there was still something refreshing about Bridget. Perhaps it was her American forthrightness, or her yearning desire to be considered a success in the eyes of others. She is an easy character to root for, especially when she learns to accept herself and her flaws, society be damned. Meanwhile, Lord Darcy is just as stuffy and reticent as any Darcy-inspired character to be, though Rodale hints at more. There are several mentions to Darcy’s youth and to his father’s stern and unyielding influence, indicating that Darcy used to be more carefree and fun, but felt honour-bound to stifle his true nature as the heir. It’s an interesting interpretation on the character and I appreciated Rodale’s efforts to dig deeper into why Darcy is…well, Darcy.

Rodale has indicated on her blog that each of the other Cavendish siblings (Claire, Amelia, and James) will get their own book and that all four stories will overlap and take place roughly at the same time. Accordingly, Lady Bridget’s Diary features small nods and hints to those other stories still to come and I rather like mining the book for clues while forming hypotheses. The simultaneous stories does mean that there is a lot of moving parts in Lady Bridget’s Diary and it does detract a bit from Bridget and Darcy’s story. Additionally, a subplot involving a mystery and Darcy’s brother Rupert was resolved far too quickly and a bit off-handedly for me. That plot thread does play into the missing diary piece of the novel, but the book would have also been fine without it. For that matter, I wish Rodale had included more of Bridget’s diary entries. Given that the climax centred around its disappearance, I would have liked to know more about its salacious secrets.

Overall, however, Lady Bridget’s Diary is filled with delightful characters and a sweet, entertaining story. While there is conflict to overcome, there is a minimal amount of angst, which makes reading this latest book from Maya Rodale a joy from start to finish.  And for a bit of more fun, check of Rodale’s blog post about how she really feels about Mr. Darcy – I think you’ll be surprised!

I received an advanced copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

[Photo Credit: Goodreads]

Book News, February 2016

My posts here are few and far between thanks to an incredibly busy work-student schedule and a lack of free reading time, but I hope to at least be able to update once a month. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. As it is, I’m coming in just under the wire, with a post about the most interesting (to me, anyway) book news within the last month. I hope you find something to interest you, and I hope you’re reading more regularly than me. Happy February, bookworms.

  • The biggest news of the last month was arguably the death of Harper Lee. The Pulitzer Prize winner for To Kill a Mockingbird passed away at the age of 89To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of the most beloved American novels, though the publication last year of a “sequel,” Go Set a Watchman, stirred up the literary world with its dramatically different characterisation of Atticus Finch.
  • Tolkien fans have reason for rejoicing – an American scholar recently discovered two previously-unpublished poems Tolkien wrote, which had been published in a school annual in 1936. Apparently, a note Tolkien himself wrote provided the clues needed to track down the old poems. The school is planning to feature the poems in an exhibition.
  • Be prepared to uncover some tesseracts – movie director Ava DuVerney, best known for her film Selma, will direct a new film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. The screenwriter of Frozen is also attached to the project. The book, which is the first in a series about the Murray children and their adventures, was previously adapted as a television movie for Disney in 2003.
  • Don’t be so quick to proclaim “the death of publishing.” A study by American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron found that 92% of college students prefer print books to e-books. The results form part of Baron’s book, Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. Most students cited the distractions that come with reading online or via a tablet when explaining why they preferred print.
  • Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin star in the film adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel, You Before Me. The 2012 book is now an upcoming and highly anticipated movie, with Galley Cat sharing the first trailer earlier this month. The film features well-known British actors and will be released in June 2016.
  • Finally, to end things on a high note, a bevy of Harry Potter news:
    • The script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the play that will debut in London this summer and essentially amounts to the 8th HP book, will be published and released for sale. While the script will not be in novel format – it will read exactly like the play – it’s still exciting news for Potterphiles unable to obtain tickets to the London show.
    • A recent update to Pottermore gave J.K. Rowling the opportunity to demonstrate just how thorough her world-building is. Rowling released a series of short essays that provide a glimpse into the Wizarding World’s magical schools. While Hogwarts is, of course, the best known, Rowling’s essays highlight schools across the globe.
    • The fan-site’s update also resulted in a new essay detailing the sad, unfortunate fate of Merope Gaunt, mother to one He Who Must Not Be Named. It’s a depressing tale, to be sure, and it does beg the question: if Voldemort had had a mother who loved him, would he still be Voldemort? We will never know.

As always, happy reading.

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