Monday, July 21, 2014

Famous Non-Mystery Literary Characters Turn Sleuth

I've always enjoyed a good mystery novel. When done right, it can keep you on the edge of your seat, keep you guessing and exercising that good ole brain. So I was intrigued to learn of some upcoming books that feature famous literary characters.

Now, I struggle sometimes with books that use either real people from the past as fictional characters or characters that have been pried away from their actual creators. It can feel a little disingenuous or unoriginal, if not done perfectly (Think of the film Midnight in Paris. Nailed it.), but nonetheless this list from the Toast is an interesting one:
I recently stumbled upon a new novel – the first of a projected series – starring Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. Solving murders. Here are some other upcoming releases featuring famous literary heroes and heroines.  
1. The Hunny Killer, featuring Rabbit (from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh novels.) A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre wood may be a symbol for enduring childlike innocence, but we all knew it had to have a darker side. When Owl is found strangled in his tree, Rabbit discovers that what he thought was his peaceful, close-knit community is actually a hotbed of crime and perversion. We’ve always known Tigger was a speed addict, but have we ever asked ourselves who his dealer is? The answer may shock you. But Rabbit’s own demons may get in the way of his quest to bring Owl’s killer to justice when Kanga starts to blackmail him about their illicit affair. 
2. Charlotte Bartlett and the Mystery of the Slightly but Unacceptably Delayed Train, featuring Charlotte Bartlett (from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View.) This demure, rather sour Edwardian lady finds crime in the unlikeliest of places! In between glowering disapproval at all and sundry and cockblocking Lucy Honeychurch, Miss Bartlett finds plenty of time to solve mysteries. Perfect for Downton Abbey aficionados, the Charlotte Bartlett mysteries will explore the seedier side of genteel British life – the indomitable Charlotte can investigate bamboozled dowagers, jilted parlormaids, and the appalling crime of crumpet theft, with her unmatched censorious flair.
3. Stranger Danger, featuring Meursault (from Albert Camus’s L’√Čtranger.) Imprisoned after committing a senseless murder, Camus’s disaffected hero grasps the meaningless of a random universe – and his unemotional outlook gives him a unique insight into murder. After his execution is stayed when Meursault successfully solves the unexplained death of a fellow inmate, he becomes a highly sought-after consultant to the colonial police force in Algeria. 
4. The Hell Jar, featuring Esther Greenwood (from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.) Who, in their difficult teenage years, didn’t relate to Plath’s angst-ridden, tortured heroine? But maybe all Esther needs is a little purpose and mental stimulation, and what is more purposeful and stimulating than solving a juicy murder? Esther’s first adventure happens during her stay in the mental hospital, when a fellow patient is drowned in his bath. Esther’s keen mind zeroes in on the most likely suspects. Her brassy friend Doreen proves a worthy Watson, and soon Esther’s blues are dispelled in the thrill of hunting a ruthless killer.  
5. Get Death to a Nunnery, featuring Hamlet (from Shakespare’s Hamlet.) What if Hamlet didn’t die? That’s the question this edgy historical series poses. Revived moments after curtain fall, Hamlet suddenly finds himself king. Yet, ennui sets in as he ponders endlessly which nation to enter into an alliance with and which advisor to promote. When the ghost of his father returns with new revelations, Hamlet finds himself drawn into yet another murder, this one in a convent. He doesn’t want to get involved, yet when a troubled young novice asks him for help, he is irresistibly reminded of his lost love Ophelia. 
6. Bump the Hostess, featuring George and Martha (from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) Albee’s famous couple is set to join the ranks of our most memorable crime-solving spouses, from Tommy and Tuppence to Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. When a fellow professor is strangled after being invited to one of their drinks parties, George and Martha find themselves prime suspects in a murder investigation. Could they have killed to conceal their terrible secret? Eager to clear their names, George and Martha find themselves embroiled in a web of deceit and hate.  
See the original post HERE

I've gotta say, it is likely I will snag a copy of The Hell Jar, and re-read The Bell Jar before cracking the new book's spine. The Hunny Killer I might check out, too, just for kicks. ;)

Ah, the intrigue!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Grammar Is For Musicians, Too

Ahh, Weird Al. You have always had a special place in my heart. You even were there for my brother on his wedding day when his groomsman walked into the reception to "White and Nerdy." And now, you are here for me and my editing career with your newest parody, "Word Crimes."

Much love to ya, buddy.

GalleyCat gives us the official scoop:
What are your grammar pet peeves? Grammy Award-winning musician and picture book author Weird Al Yankovic has released a new music video for his song “Word Crimes” (a parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”). 
The video (embedded above), the second of eight being released from July 14th to July 21st, was unleashed earlier this afternoon and has already attracted more than 7,900 “thumbs ups” on YouTube. An announcement on Facebook has drawn more than 11,000 “likes.” 
In an interview with NPR, Yankovic explained that he wrote this parody partly because of his personal obsession with grammar. The song itself discusses conjugation, contractions, spelling, homophones, proper word usage, and more. It can be found on Yankovic’s 14th studio album, “Mandatory Fun.” Follow this link to check out the lyrics. 
See the original post HERE

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BFF LG McCann's Debut Novel is ON SALE NOW!!

Today is a very exciting and special day.

You may remember LG McCann as one of RBtL's guest bloggers, but today, one of my favorite BFFs is officially a published author. Her debut novel, The Other Side of Gemini, hit the virtual shelves this morning from Soul Mate Publishing!


And I couldn't be prouder of her. I remember working with her at the very start as she brainstormed and created these characters and let them grow before our eyes, evolving from characters into people with real meat to them. I remember reading the first draft once LG got their stories on the page and giving edits and advice, then watching as she revised and continued to fight for Sylvia and Lindsay, to make them and their stories the best that they could be.

This is truly a wonderful accomplishment, and I'm so excited that she's able to share The Other Side of Gemini with the world. This women's fiction novel is a lesson in dichotomy--not only is it fun yet powerful, but it shows how fear can spring hope, how two opposites can become stronger when combined, and of course, how life can change in the blink of an eye. 

Sylvia Miloche is a successful book editor by day, D-list party girl by night, and has been dating New York City’s favorite playboy James Ryan for five years. But things are far from perfect. When the New York Post catches James with an intern, Sylvia’s already precarious life comes crashing down. 
Lindsay Sekulich is a high school science teacher, wife, and mother of three in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. Her high school reunion is quickly approaching and that means the secrets of her bad-girl past, all of which she’s kept hidden from her husband, could come spilling out, revealing who she once was and the horrible things she’s done. 
When Sylvia emerges in Scottsdale, seeking refuge in her hometown from the relentless gossip blogs, Lindsay finds herself alternately elated and terrified. The two were inseparable as teens, but a tragedy just before their senior year tore them apart. Sylvia, once a carefree, joyful girl always up for adventure, is a beaten down and broken adult. Now Lindsay must make a choice: rescue the friend who saved her in high school, or keep it all hidden to save her marriage from almost certain destruction. 
Anything goes–and everything does–in this story of New York gossip and suburban oppression, a tale of sex, secrets, rebellion, and how your true soul mate isn’t necessarily the love of your life.

Make sure to get a hold of a copy now from for only $2.99! And if you don't believe me that this book is a must-read, just look: Gemini has already received amazing praise from a  number of established authors!

"The Other Side of Gemini is a surprise in all the best ways. I loved both main characters, even through their mistakes and hitting rock bottom, and the realism with which McCann portrays them is striking and honest. Most of all I love the clear idea that, no matter who we have been, what we have lost, or where we think we're headed, the only truth in life is that there is no end to any story." 
 –USA Today bestselling author Lyla Payne
"With humor, heart, and some unexpected twists, The Other Side of Gemini is great for anyone who ever mourned an old friendship or wished they could bury the past. Weaving easily between different time periods and points of view, McCann tells the story of two estranged friends who reunite just when they need each other the most. While they start off weak and disillusioned, these women grow and strengthen as the story evolves–which is a pleasure to watch. A wonderful debut! I'm eager to see what McCann does next!" 
 –Laura Kenyon, author of Desperately Ever After 
"The Other Side of Gemini ensnares you from page one, and with provocative wit and perceptive insights into human nature, a sympathetic portrait emerges of two friends who reconnect by virtue of each one’s personal demons – and take you on a wild ride that crosses the country. Bravo LG McCann."  
–Karen Kelly, 
"LG McCann’s debut novel, The Other Side of Gemini, is a road trip to places everybody fears and all too many go. Its ... sharp dialogue and characters’ revelations carry the reader through a journey that rises from the bashes of female insecurity and confusion to vistas of empowerment." 
Dawn Shamp, author of On Account of Conspicuous Women 
"Past and present have a head-on collision in this bright and breezy debut by LG McCann. Dumped by her Wall Street baron boyfriend and pilloried by every tabloid in town, Sylvia Miloche is forced to return home to Scottsdale, Arizona where she must confront Lindsay Richardson, the friend she left behind. McCann deftly explores the relationship between the two women and demonstrates how the bonds of true friendship may be stretched and strained—but are never fully broken."  
Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Two of a Kind

Congratulations, LG! 

Enjoy every moment of your first of what is sure to be many release days!

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Reading Tech for the Vision Impaired

It's always nice to end the "work week" on a good note. And today, while skimming all my publishing emails and basic new sources, I stumbled across one particular topic three times: MIT has created a prototype for the aptly named FingerReader,meant to aid the blind in reading in such a vision-centric world as ours.

The Associated Press tells us more:
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an affordable finger reader for people whose vision is impaired. 
The prototype FingerReader fits like a ring on a user's index finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. Special software processes scanned words and a synthesized voice immediately reads the text aloud. 
Reading is as easy as pointing a finger at the text. The device also has vibration motors and other cues to help users read in a straight line. 
MIT Media Lab researchers say the device can read books, restaurant menus, business cards and other texts. 
Jerry Berrier, who is blind, has tested the FingerReader. He says it will help people with visual impairment get immediate access to texts and live fuller, richer, more productive lives. 
See the post on US News and World Report HERE

See how it works:

Very, very cool.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'll Cheers to That

I haven't watched or read anything in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin (or simply Game of Thrones to some), but this morning a related article on HuffPo caught my eye.

Of course, it had nothing to do with the books themselves, and everything to do with the wine:

All men must drink. 
If you're a "Game of Thrones" fan, you know that the only thing the characters like more than killing people and having sexy time is getting their drink on. Well, now you can join in on the fun with "Game of Thrones"-themed wines. 
Wines of Westeros is a project from the Australian company Common Ventures. The 12 different wine varieties include versions representing the Tyrell, Lannister, Stark, Greyjoy, Arryn, Martell, Baratheon and Targaryen families, as well as the Wildlings, White Walkers, Night's Watch and Dothraki. 
According to the company, “The reds are all associated with the houses that are head strong and robust. The whites on the other hand are more cunning, perceptive and mysterious." With this explanation, the Internet is a little perplexed as to why House Stark was given a white wine, but as long as none of it is that stuff Joffrey drank, it still sounds like a good deal. 
Bottles will run for around $20 and include varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The "GoT"-inspired wines will be available in time for Season 5 of the HBO series next spring. 
It's like they say in Westeros, "When you play the 'Game of Thrones,' you wine or you die." 
See the original post HERE 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sad Days for Books and Cupcakes

Today, I saw an announcement that the famed CRUMBS cupcake shop in NYC has closed its doors. It happened without warning and now all the other numerous cupcake shops will surely be fighting for those abandoned customers.

While I did enjoy their carrot cake cupcake quite a lot, I'm honestly more upset by another company/organization going under from financial strain: World Book Night.

GalleyCat tells us more:
World Book Night is shutting down after three years of distributing free books across the country. The volunteer-run organization is shuttering due to lack of funding. 
“The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, givers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, and shippers, are too high to sustain without additional funding,” explained the organization on its Facebook page. 
“This has been a remarkable, passionate undertaking, and it has been a success by all measures, except for one: Outside funding,” stated Carl Lennertz, Executive Director of World Book Night U.S. “For three years, the publishing industry and book community have very generously footed the bill and contributed enormous time and effort, and our gratitude is immeasurable, especially for the givers. For us here at World Book Night, this experience has been life-changing, as we hope it has been for the givers and recipients of the books.” 
World Book Night UK, a separate organization that also hands out free books in April, will not be affected by this change. “We want to assure our followers and supporters that the suspension of operations in the US will not affect World Book Night in the UK,” the organization explained on its blog. “We have exciting plans for World Book Night 2015 and beyond, which will be shaped and informed by the evaluation we have carried out this year.” 
See the original post HERE

It's so sad when a great program like this comes to an end, simply due to lack of donations, not lack of interest. There are so many people out there just swimming in cash, and if only they would lend a hand, things like this, that supports literacy and benefits so many people, could keep going. Sigh. If I were one of them, I'd be throwing money toward reading-related causes left and right.

But I'm not, so all I can say is, we'll miss you World Book Night. Thank you for three years of such immense book love.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Booklover's Fourth of July

I don't know about y'all, but this 4th of July I am stuck inside editing. Wah. Waaaaaah.

But for those of you who are not, you just might have time for some Independence Day reading! Maybe try one of these patriotic reads, compiled by Wall Street Cheat Sheet:

1. On the Road, Jack Kerouac 
Hard travelin’ is a pastime idealized in a country that has lots of room for it, and On the Road is the bible of hard travelers. King of the Beat poets Jack Kerouac wrote the novel about his own experiences hitchhiking and driving back and forth across America with his freewheeling friends, and its publication marked a huge shift in American youth culture. 
Kerouac’s friend (and a character in the novel himself) William Burroughs famously wrote of On the Road that it “sold a trillion Levi’s, a million espresso coffee machines, and also sent countless kids on the road.” Bob Dylan said, “It changed my life like it changed everyone else’s.” A litany of important additions to pop culture wouldn’t have been possible without Kerouac’s poetic and hellbent road trip. “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” Kerouac asks, and answers, in the novel. 
2. 1776, David McCullough 
If you want to go super literal with the whole Independence Day thing and learn a ton about the Revolutionary War that you probably weren’t taught in school, McCullough’s massive 1776 is the way to go for an in-depth account of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Gen. George Washington in particular is profiled, as he led the ragtag American troops to an unlikely victory over the British. The book takes a close look at key military battles during the year, including the Battle of Long Island and the Battle of Trenton. 
3. Lincoln, Carl Sandburg 
Poet Carl Sandburg’s lengthy two-part biography of Abraham Lincoln is considered to be the most influential book about the man credited with the dual feats of ending slavery and keeping the United States together in the face of the Civil War. Lincoln: The Prairie Years and Lincoln: The War Years are the defining books on Lincoln’s life, and the second installment won Sandburg his third Pulitzer Prize. The first book was published in 1926 and the second in 1939, and since then, they have been criticized for some bad scholarship and too much poetic license (what do you expect from one of America’s most beloved poets?). However, Sandburg’s book is still the go-to biography of Lincoln and a major source of many of the idealistic myths that surround him. 
4. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner 
William Faulkner has been called the American Shakespeare, and his modern stream-of-consciousness style as well as his Southern Gothic subject matter make his novels the most enduring literary picture of the American South. The Sound and the Fury is frequently cited as one of the great American novels, and its shifting perspectives, experimental style, and morose tale of the formerly high-class Compson family is all classic Faulkner at his best. The Compsons pop up in other Faulkner novels, as well, in particular Absalom, Absalom!, in which the highly intelligent but suicidal Quentin Compson is a main character. The Sound and the Fury chronicles how the puritanical morals of the South, racism, greed, and violence ruin the entire Compson clan. 
5. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald 
While Fitzgerald may have been an ex-patriot, fleeing to Paris with others that Gertrude Stein dubbed “the lost generation,” The Great Gatsby is considered to be one of the most important American novels, and the entire book is fixated on that brutal fable that is the American dream. The book is the most iconic and lasting portrait we have of the post-World War I era in which America lost its innocence and became decadent. There are flappers, drinking, beautiful parties, and the charismatic Daisy Buchanan, all of which is glitter on the surface to distract from the characters’ desperate attempts to discover a sense of purpose. The Fourth of July is a perfect occasion to read or reread Gatsby and think about how achieving the American dream still couldn’t bring Gatsby happiness. 
6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain 
Hemingway famously said, “All modern American literature comes from … Huckleberry Finn.” Mark Twain is a great American icon, an author and humorist whose influence on literature and comedy cannot be overstated. Huckleberry Finn is a scathing look at racism and other backwards attitudes held in the South on the Mississippi River, where the novel is set. It is also a celebration of unlikely friendship and fierce independence bordering on rebelliousness, both important characteristics of our national character. The book is cited as the first major American work to be written completely in vernacular English, capturing Americans as they actually spoke. 
See the original post HERE

Happy Fourth of July, y'all!!