Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Romance Readers Who Want a Great Movie Recommendation…Apply To These Two Books

22 Jan
Sitting down to a movie, either in your home or in a theater, should be filled with anticipation. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

Sitting down to a movie, either in your home or in a theater, should be filled with anticipation. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

I guess like my reading, I am VERY picky about the movies I watch. For most films, I’m happy to read spoilers because I don’t like horrible surprises (says the woman who buys her own Christmas presents and tells her husband, “Honey, I absolutely LOVE what you got me!”). With a strong aversion to violence against women, I also use websites like Kids in Mind to give me a heads up when something horrible is embedded in a film so I can take a potty break or go make popcorn. (And screw you, Downton Abbey, for NOT giving me any inkling about what was going to happen to Anna. You’re dead to me.)

Wanting a feel good movie that reaffirms your faith in humanity or is inspired by the books you love is probably a fairly popular trait, but sometimes finding a recommendation you can trust is difficult. I went to a college known for its film program and while many of my friends studying that discipline didn’t necessarily wear all black and chain smoke, they were universally fascinated by the most obscure and depressing films, bandying about terms like “schadenfreude” and “jingoism”. Even now, when I listen to NPR film critics talk about the latest deep movie that thinking people should go out and see, half the time they are fascinated by the “dark underbelly of humanity” and discuss the lingering despair that follows you out from the theater while you are desperately drying the tears from your face.

Oh my. That’s not what I want.

Enter the queen of category romance, Heidi Rice, who somehow, while pumping out dozens of great romances for Harlequin, has also managed to have a full-time career as a film critic and a mother (how many arms does she have?). Perhaps sharing my sense of despair, she has admirably assembled a host of movies which appeal to the romantic in her recent book, Movie Bliss: A Hopeless Romantic Seeks Movies to Love. While every movie she reviews doesn’t necessarily have a love story as the central theme, each one nevertheless strikes a strong cord in the area of relationships, and that’s really what we armchair psychologists dissecting our heroes and heroines like, don’t we?

Rice, utilizing the snappy British slang that makes her American fans smile while we enjoy her heroine’s witty comebacks, divvies up movies into the following categories (please note that all movie links will take you to the film’s page on the Internet Movie Database for more information):

  1. Oldies That Are Awesome (i.e., fabulous TNT classics like It Happened One Night, It’s a Wonderful Life, On the Waterfront, The Apartment, etc.)
  2. Cartoon Capers, But Not Just for Kids (i.e., movies that have you borrowing someone’s pre-teen to take to see Beauty and the Beast, The Princess and the Frog, Up, Toy Story 3)
  3. Rom-Coms R Us (i.e., gems like When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, It’s Complicated, The Proposal, Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Joys For the Boys (and the Girls, Too) (i.e. enough action for him, enough romance for her in films like Public Enemies, Cowboys & Aliens, Skyfall, Rush)
  5. Offbeat But Right Up My Street (i.e., doesn’t look anything like a romance but you love it anyway such as Julie & Julia, The King’s Speech, The Artist)
  6. Big Is Beautiful, Bold Is Even Better (i.e. those epic films where you can’t keep popcorn in your mouth because your jaw keeps dropping open, like Gone with the Wind, The Last of the Mohicans, Brokeback Mountain, Australia)

Like everything Heidi Rice writes, I loved this book (it’s nice to know my affinity for her is not limited to fiction). Witty, informative, candid and occasionally self-deprecating, Rice’s prose makes you feel like your knowledgeable best girlfriend is giving you a run down on all the movies you should see to wear your “romance lover” badge proud and loud. I adored her glossary (I had never heard the term “dick-flick” but I guarantee I’m going to use it at least three times this weekend). Explaining the difference between Harlequin KISS heroes and Harlequin Presents heroes, and then applying those terms to various movies, was sheer genius to help me understand the tone of the film. I especially liked that her subject matter ran right up to the end of 2013, so a few of the films are recent releases, giving the book a real currency I appreciated.

Writing a film review actually has some of the elements of the book talks we librarians utilize when doing reader’s advisory. Give the hook, but don’t give away the ending; compare it to a similar more well-known work so people have an idea what it’s about; and convey your enthusiasm for the story since that’s often contagious. Heidi Rice never gives away the farm in terms of the plot, but she tantalizes you with enough detail that you are reading in one hand and queuing your watchlist with the remote in your other hand! I actually found quite a few movies I hadn’t seen that I assure you I will be watching in the upcoming long winter nights.

Did I mention the best part? No? Well, this informative, fun book is only $.99 – no joke! So run out and get personalized recommendations to satisfy the romantic in you.

One area that Rice stays clear of is the sinkhole of book to film adaptation, a particular pet peeve of mine. I firmly believe the motion picture industry exists solely to ruin books for me, so when it comes to my favorite classics, you have one testy woman on your hands if you open with this conversational gambit! Also by Harlequin is the hilarious, yet oh-so-informative, Pride, Prejudice and Popcorn: TV and Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre by Carrie Sessarego.

It was startling to find out that the author and I clearly had been separated at birth. I, too, continue to reread Jane Eyre each year and have since I was a pre-teen, getting something different out of it as I’ve grown and matured. I also didn’t understand what the fuss was about with Pride & Prejudice until I realized that it was all in code (and I had read about the constraints of the Regency period) and what people were saying versus what they were feeling were two different things. Finally, I also possess a virulent hate for all things Wuthering Heights and do NOT understand what all the blather is about since Heathcliff is a first-class dick and I want to shove Cathy down a flight of stairs.

My usual mantra, but now I’ll have to reconsider watching some of these adaptations after reading Sessarego’s hilarious (and informative) work.

Yet, using prose so funny I found myself laughing out loud late into the night, Sessarego accomplishes the impossible – she actually has me thinking about watching some of the adaptations I’ve avoided like the plague due to their lack of faithfulness. Probably this is due to her masterful approach to the material. With each work, she begins by delivering the improv version of Cliff Notes, boiling down the material to it’s essence and helping the reader understand all the plot nuances you’ve might have forgotten if it’s been a while since you read the book. Then she covers the TV and movie adaptations, indicating the year, actors, director, etc. and rating them on a star system with oodles of details about how they stayed true to the book or veered away (and if it worked or not). Extremely helpful was when she made clear that the writing had ruined the script but a particular actor totally embodied the character the way a reader would enjoy. Her “Final Scorecard” at the end of each section highlights a summary of the “best of” the adaptions (i.e. “Best Mr. Darcy” “Best Rochester” etc.) and she even has a terrific “Special Features” section with tantalizing little bios of the original book authors – and trivia and a music playlist!

Since this excellent (and much needed) book is a mere $.99 as well, I’m thinking that fans of these books are fools if they don’t run out and buy this puppy for immediate consumption. Honestly, this book would make a terrific basis for a themed party (or series of them) with English grad students, best girlfriends or even a fun English class (don’t think I won’t be pitching it to my English teachers on Monday) since it still manages to delve into the core of each book in order to determine if the adaptation met the objectives of the original work. Sessarego blew me away with her wit and insight, so much so I’m hoping she has another media criticism book in the pile so I can look forward to visiting with her on a different topic.

Enjoy your romance – the mystery of love and relationships that reminds us why it is good (and sometimes painful) to be human – in book and on film. With guides like Heidi Rice and Carrie Sessarego steering us to good films, we can’t go wrong.

Happy reading!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Contests, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of January 12, 2014

12 Jan

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changeling series novella, Whisper of Sin, (previously published in the anthology Burning Up) will have its stand-alone release on February 25th and the cover is gorgeous. While Amazon isn’t yet showing this beauty on the corresponding pre-order page, that shouldn’t stop you from placing your order (hell, I have this story in the anthology and I’m still tempted) since it’s only $2.99 and Nalini Singh doesn’t believe in a short novella, a satisfying situation for her readers. This particular book, which is a prequel to the first book in the series, Slave to Sensation, features the DarkRiver leopard changeling Emmett, who is helping his pack repel an invasion of their San Francisco territory when a beautiful human Ria gets caught in the middle. Emmett quickly realizes the only thing more important than keeping strangers from encroaching is protecting the one woman who could mean everything to him.

Cynthia Eden released the first book in her Night Watch series this past week, Eternal Hunter, in paperback form via Kensington Press, and if the excerpts are any indication, this is another win for an author who already made this series successful in ebook form. When an assistant DA attempting to keep her “other” heritage a secret crosses paths with a shifter bounty hunter tracking the “other” being stalking her, well…it doesn’t take any paranormal ability to figure out that her secret is going to come out and the shifter may have found his mate. With Eden’s ability to pen a great romantic suspense novel while giving paranormal readers all the world-building they can handle, this release is bound to bring an excellent series to paper book readers.

Tracey Devlynwhose Nexus series combines amazing historical romance AND romantic suspense, just released the latest title in that series this week, Latymer. As I mentioned in a previous Sunday Reflections post, this volume represents Devlyn’s personal journey to continue her series without her previous publisher of Sourcebooks, and I’m damn glad she decided to continue it on her own. The snippet she included in her newsletter (check out her website to subscribe to it) shows us our hero is a lord with a son he loves determined to ferret out a spy, something he should be quite good at considering his previous work for the Foreign Office. At the mercy of both French and British authorities who want him dead, I have a feeling that Nexus is going to have to help Lord Latymer and his son, and I’m guessing it might be a female spy (perhaps one he knew before?) who is going to lend a hand. Cannot wait!

Jill Shalvis is beloved by contemporary romance fans everywhere, particularly for her Lucky Harbor series. The next full-length novel, Once in a Lifetime, will be published on February 18, 2014 (oh, ho! Just in time for Valentine’s Day) and will star the tortured soldier Ben McDaniel and the “trouble with a capital T” Aubrey Wellington who is trying to set her life on the right path with Ben the perfect person to help. Okay “helping” him might involve a bit more with such a hot, brooding guy but making amends involves getting a little dirty, doesn’t it? Pre-order it so you are guaranteed delivery on the 18th.

dashofperilAfter wowing me with her Love Undercover series (I’m still reeling from Getting Rowdy), I’m more than looking forward to Lori Foster‘s next book in the series, Dash of Peril, starring one uptight Lieutenant (who looks pretty hot when dressed like a hooker) and the construction business owner who is happy to ignore that she’s his cop brother’s boss. When he finds out that she’s willing to use herself as bait to catch an abduction ring in the act, nothing will do than becoming her unofficial partner, and let the heat between them break loose. With Foster’s ability to write reformed manwhores and strong women who can hold their own, I’m salivating for the release date (March 25th for the paperback version and April 1st for the ebook) to arrive already.

Fans of Jayne Ann Krentz particular brand of strong characters and dark, suspenseful situations will want to make sure that they pick up her latest which just came out this past week, River Road, about a young girl saved from drugging and date rape by a young man who never tells her what he did, just accepting her resentment of his embarrassing her in front of her peers. When she returns to their town after the death of her aunt, a gorgeous woman grown, our hero is not going to let her slip away a second time, particularly after it’s become clear that someone has her in their sights with harm in mind. Keep in mind that Krentz’s popularity and talent warrant her books coming out in hardcover, with a higher price for even the Kindle version as a result (just under $11), but fans feel she’s worth it!

Contests and Giveaways

The resource all romance readers couldn’t live without, RT Book Reviews, is having a great contest to not only win one of three copies of the latest Lorraine Heath novella and the final installment of her Scoundrels of St. James series, The Last Wicked Scoundrel, but also win a chance to get not only this ebook but a bundle which includes five other Avon historical romance ebooks as well.

Audiobook lovers (hey there, commuters!) who adore fantasy will be thrilled to see that the best-selling writer duo of Ilona Andrews has given their blog fans a heads up that the AudioGals blog is having an amazing giveaway of either the first five audiobooks in the Kate Daniels series for the first three books of Andrew’s amazing Edge series. Don’t delay in entering however, as this contest ends tomorrow, January 14th at midnight. Romance readers interested in dipping a toe in the audiobook world (think long car trips, gardening, needlework and cooking as good activities for audiobook playing) should definitely check out AudioGals’ fantastic infographic for romance readers highlighting the best audiobooks in various romance subgenres to help direct them to the best purchases.

Historical romance writer Nicola Cornick is hosting a great giveaway on her website where simply by reading the excerpt from her latest Brides of Fortune novel, The Lady and the Laird, you can answer a question and gain an entry into winning the first three books of the series. These gorgeous covers are matched by the well-rated prose inside, so be sure to check them out, whether or not you win.

Fun Stuff

Those clever editors at Harlequin, knowing that the majority of self-respecting romance readers love Jane Austen, have cleverly put together their titles that are inspired by Jane’s writing. Whether it’s a Presents novel with a prideful hero or an anthology of paranormal tales based on Austen’s stories, you’ll enjoy thinking about Jane and her characters in a new light.

Any reading enthusiast who is expecting a baby should be dressing their newborn in a onesie that will hint at their personality and future reading ability, so the wonderful people at BookRiot have put together the best list of reading-themed onesies I’ve ever seen. Be sure to do your baby shower shopping with this terrific resource in mind! (This cutie is sporting the Shakespeare quote, “And, though she be but little, she is fierce.”)

Great Deals

If you’ve thought about trying Krystal Shannan‘s Vegas Mates series but not yet indulged, you should know that the first novella, Chasing Sam, is currently free on Amazon right now, so this could be a good time to try it out. Starring a shifter female who has been steadily denying her well-born heritage in order to become a doctor and help the less-fortunate and a long-lived military hero who had resigned himself to never finding a mate, these two have more than enough obstacles to keep them apart…if they can’t find the courage to fight for their future. If you do enjoy this story, be aware that the next novella in the series, Saving Margaret, just came out on January 8th and features a bear who finds himself of having to convince a sexy wolf female that interspecies matings can definitely work.

It might be after the holidays, but here’s a belated present for you. Erotic historical romance writers Kate Pearce and Samantha Kane have their holiday duology, Gift of Desire, currently free on Amazon. With Kane’s story a hot menage about two recently released prisoners of war returning to the woman one of them married and the other always wanted and Pearce’s short about a disfigured widow and the man who has never forgotten her, you’ll be chasing away your personal polar vortex in no time flat.

Chasing Charlie, the first book in the Texas Two-Step series by Kathy Carmichael, is currently on sale for $.99 on Amazon, and while I like a good Western romance, I am a total sucker for not just the fake engagement, but one where the heroine is the town librarian and she ends up tied to the town bad boy who is just trying to make his mother happy so she’ll feel comfortable remarrying. Naturally, our couple ends up feeling more than just polite interest in one another even though their pairing seems unlikely, so take a look.

Patricia Burroughs is getting a lot of buzz on the blog-o-sphere for her Western historical romance, La Desperada, about a proper Victorian woman from Philadelphia who threatens a man jailed for a revenge killing into taking her to safety, with both of them unknowingly running from a mutual enemy, a sheriff bent on his own brand of retribution. Almost 500 pages of great writing and it’s only $.99 in the month of January, so pick it up now and see what all the fuss is about.

Kristen Ashley‘s Dream Man series is one of the highest rated book series I’ve seen on Goodreads (with almost 100,000 ratings with each novel usually above a 4.5 star rating – those are not numbers to sneeze at). I’ve got Law Man on my to-read pile, but now I get to add Mystery Man, the first book in the series, which is now discounted to only $.99, perfect for people who want to take a taste. Featuring a DEA agent who falls for the woman he’s investigating (her ex-husband has a drug ring) in the course of their contrived relationship, readers absolutely rave about both the hero and heroine as well as the exes who provide fantastic villains for this more mature couple.

Happy reading this week!

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