Links and News and Fun Stuff

I saw a few tweets about this go by but I cannot for the life of me find the first one to credit my source, so this will be attributed to the person I call SOTI – Someone On The Internet. Not quite enough of a citation, I agree, but it's the best I've got right now. 

Austenland, a film based on the book by Shannon Hale, premiered at Sundance this week, and news today is that the film has been picked up for distribution by Sony, which plans to do all the big film things when releasing the movie this summer. Expect much Austening! 

Austenland

Austenland the book is still $1.99 digitally, if you'd like to grab a copy and do the “read the book before seeing the film” thing. Because book to film is something that NEVER happens to Jane Austen-y books. 

Cover copy? YES COVER COPY. Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Predjudice.

When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined.

Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Like that wasn't destined to become a film. Heh. 

You can grab your discounted digital copy at Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | iBooks until the end of February. 

Speaking of the film, the movie poster is really adorable: 

Austenland: Keri Russel with a totebag that reads

Image source: Confessions of a Fangirl – who really, really liked the movie!  

I'm over at Kirkus with a two part series about tropes – why they work, and why they're important:

There is a structure to romance, just as there is to any good piece of fiction that's satisfying to read, and there are familiar elements that are usually employed, but that does not mean the books are all the same–any romance reader could tell you that much. A brooding, misunderstood duke can turn into two very different characters, depending on the writer who deploys him in a story. That is why tropes are useful things for readers, especially romance readers. Familiarity does not always breed contempt in our literary circle, because learning what types of conflicts and what kinds of characters are most intriguing to us allows us to learn what kind of books we want to read. And, as you know, there are a LOT of romances to choose from!

My next column will be the tropes and familiar characters and plots I love – such as, “I don't want to like you. I don't want to like you. I can't stop thinking about your hair. DAMMIT.” My romance catnip!

What's your romance catnip?

There are new survey results afoot regarding how patrons want to see digital technologies included in their libraries, and how library use has increased among different parts of the population – and why. I was particularly charmed by this suggestion from the survey results:


GPS-navigation apps to help patrons locate material inside library buildings: 34% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

 

YES PLEASE. I swear, I'm not an idiot, but it took me a solid 25 minutes to find the Australia tour books at my library, despite looking up the number TWICE.

Thanks to Peggy for the link!

 

 Jill Shalvis' Instant Attraction is on sale for $3.50. 

Instant Attraction

I'm telling you this for three reasons:

1. You know how sometimes a book will introduce you to something that you never thought you'd like, but seems perfect once you've experienced it within the boundaries of fiction? When I finished this book, I Googled skiing and snowboarding lessons (I snowboard because it's awesome and because ski boots are evil. EVIL.) 

That year, we ended up going skiing in Vermont. Now we go every year, both my children ski, and my older son wants to learn to snowboard like me – which won't be hard for him to do. I don't go very fast downhill and he'll be better than me at carving within 4 days, I bet.

I play in the snow more every year and a large part of that is because of this book, which takes place at a mountain adventure lodge, and features a heroine who overcomes enormous fear that holds her back from experiencing everything. It's a wonderful story, and had a rather large effect on me and on my family. I never skied growing up, and after I read it, I couldn't stop thinking about how fun it would be. And it is – really fun. 

2. I didn't want to bring up the sale price earlier (and it was cheaper a few weeks ago — sorry) because, due to Simple Progress, the consultancy I joined a few years ago, it might seem as if I was being paid to mention it, since Shalvis is one of Simple Progress' clients. I'm not paid to mention anything in this space, but I didn't want to cause any doubts or questions, so I didn't mention it at all. But I left Simple Progress on 31 December 2012 because Mollie, the other partner in the company, has been asked to take on larger roles for her previously established clients. We weren't able to take on new clients as much as we wished, and it made more sense to dissolve the partnership, especially since I have several new projects I'm working on for SBTB (mwahahahahaha). So, I wanted to (a) make sure that was clear and also (b) say, “Hey! That book's on sale and I really liked it!”

3. Did I mention that I really liked this book? I think I might have re-read it about eight times already. I was going to include a video of me falling on my ass while snowboarding – it's great. I start out doing just fine and when I'm about to stop, WHAM. Down goes my butt. Alas, Hubby's phone seems to have eaten it. No, really. I swear! 

Am I alone in this, or has a book you've read made you take up a new hobby, become interested in something you'd never expected to try, or otherwise changed things in your real life? I feel really weird saying “I read this book and it made me look into winter sports for my whole family” but it's kinda true. 

Prepare yourself, Doctor Who fans: via Geekmom, which cites an article from the Birmingham Mail, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who will feature all eleven doctors. Between special effects for William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, and Jon Pertwee, who have since died, and agreements form the other living actors, this should be one hell of a Whovian Event. I hope whomever is in charge of such magical things can pull it off. Because awesome. 

 

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The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    ECSpurlock says:

    Um – one issue with a GPS app for libraries – GPS will not work indoors. They’d have to have something encoded into each individual book that would allow you to home in on it with a short-range tracking device.

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    PSHAW. You let something like science interfere with GPSing the library? Heh.

    I think it would be more like a guide to finding a section/shelf, so that if you’re looking for X book, it would be on this shelf, and here’s a map to guide you there – go!  At least, that’s what I would find supremely useful. Somehow, when confronted with the Dewey Decimal System, I lose the ability to count to 10 and use the alphabet. At the same time.

  3. 3

    I had a hard time thinking of tropes I love; it was much easier to think of the ones I despise, though I freely admit that I’m a sucker for a beta hero. I do not like the brooding dukes, and if I never read another “rake gets reformed by the power of luuuurve” plot again, I will be utterly delighted.

    Here’s a tip: if your prospective romantic partner is an asshole, the odds are good that s/he will stay that way. It’s like the thirty-fourth law of thermodynamics, or something (somewhere between “The douchebaggery of an isolated asshole never decreases,” and “The douchebaggery of an asshole approaches a constant value as his heroic status approaches zero.”)

  4. 4
    Cate Hulk says:

    I read Austenland just a few days ago and got sucked in so hard. I was up till 3 am reading it on more than one night. It seems to have a lot of mixed reviews but I thought it was freaking hilarious. Sometimes the plot starts to feel a little ridiculous and contrived at times (how could it not with a premise like that), but then our heroine saves the day by being very funny and critical.  She is totally incredulous of her surroundings, doing exactly what I would be doing: picking apart every little thing, looking for evidence of modern life, trying to figure out who is acting and who is being real.  I will even go so far as to say it is a really decent criticism of Victorian era courtship. Anyhoo, sorry for the mini-review but you can tell I really enjoyed it!

  5. 5
    Jessica_HookEm says:

    I LOVE Instant Attraction.  I actually love nearly all of Jill Shalvis’s books.  I would highly recommend all of her books.

  6. 6
    LauraN says:

    I didn’t like Austenland.  I’d tell you why, but it’s been to long and I forget.  Sorry.

  7. 7
    Charon says:

    Got Austenland from the library when I saw it mentioned here recently. Didn’t love it. Was caught up wondering if the entire thing was just a massive mindf**k set up by her aunt for no discernible reason. It was worth reading – short and moderately fun – but not great. I should say, though, that I’m a straight male Austen fan, so maybe it’s a much better book for people who are really obsessed with Darcy (as opposed to Lizzie, for me ;)  It goes on about Colin Firth COLIN FIRTH!!! And the woman who played Lizzie is referred to something like “the woman who played Lizzie” and who apparently has no name.

  8. 8
    Cate Hulk says:

    Ok this I can totally agree with you on.  The whole Colin-Firth-as-Darcy obsession has never quite made sense to me.  When I read P&P, the ONLY reason I give a rats taint about Darcy is because I adore Lizzie and am rooting for her HEA, so that is kind of how I end up feeling about Firth/Darcy in the movie as well, wet shirt or no.

  9. 9
    Ren says:

    I’m checking out the Jill Shalvis because I *am* someone with enormous fear that holds me back from experiencing everything. Trying to overcome it but could use some moral support I’m not getting in real life.

    But I’m even more interested in the sinister new SBTB plans. Perhaps… a Smart Bitches theme park? Because everyone deserves a chance to ride The Magic Hoo-Ha!

  10. 10
    Tam says:

    I do like alpha heroes, but I’m instantly turned off by assholery, and it’s really, really hard to find a writer who can skirt that line properly.  So far, Curran from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series is the best recent example; I loved the third book, where the two of them finally stop destroying the furniture and get together.  (Literally, they destroy the furniture.)

    Mostly, I like the clever, unreliable, wry hero with a whiff of past damage.  If he has had an appalling childhood which he’s overcoming with a sharp, whip-like humour, I’m probably going to be a complete sucker for him.  I think I was permanently warped by reading Margaret Mahy’s ‘The Changeover’ at an impressionable age, because Sorensen Carlisle still remains a pattern for my favourite kind of romance hero.

  11. 11

    Yeah, as for doing things you normally wouldn’t have thought of doing? When I found out that Nora’s next trilogy (this was in 1999, mind you) was going to be set in Ireland, and in this little town of Ardmore, I thought: “hey, I can tack that on to the trip I’m planning on taking over spring break!” So, in the middle of my traveling alone through Ireland, I managed to take a day trip there by bus from Waterford without any mishaps. And me and travel mishaps are close friends. It was a lot of fun. I’m sure I’ve done other things based on books I’ve read (or was going to read like in this case), but that’s the one that stands out the most for me.

  12. 12
    SB Sarah says:

    “Ride the magic hoo-hah…” OMG. BRILLIANT.

  13. 13
    Jamarleo says:

    I was always sort of ‘meh’ about Austenland, but really loved the sequel Midnight in Austenland.  One of the main reasons is that all of the time worn tropes (I love bandying about that word by the way) that were evident in the first book are upended in the next. 
    I don’t want to give anything away- because it really is a fun mystery as well as romance- but I did love the fact that when the main character met up with her own ‘Mr. Darcy’ the actual reality of an ever brooding cliche smouldering the day away was more than a little off-putting. 

  14. 14
    claritygolden says:

    I’m generally a fan of all Jill Shalvis’ books, but I LOVE Instant Attraction. Honestly, it’s one of my top five favorite romances. I adored the heroine because she’s the opposite of whiney and angsty, which . She has a really horrible, nightmarish thing happen to her in the past, and while it certainly had long lasting effects on her, she is working on moving on. She’s upbeat but not saccharine, which has to be hard to write! I so wish I had a friend like that in real life. And Sarah it’s funny you said the book made you want to snowboard. I actually had the same thought after reading it! I’m the opposite of athletic so it didn’t go anywhere, but for me to even entertain the idea of snowboarding was pretty radical. ;)

  15. 15
    SB Sarah says:

    I’m not athletic, but I did dance for many years so I have strong legs and good balance. That’s really what you need to snowboard. It’s really, really freaking fun! :)

  16. 16
    Liz Tea Bee says:

    Strangely, even those Austenland was a DNF for me, I can’t wait to see the movie. (I was so disappointed, I adore Hale’s YA.)

  17. 17
    Karenmc says:

    I’m using “SOTI” from now on (do I need to use a trademark on that?).

  18. 18
    claritygolden says:

    Just read the kirkus article—great stuff! I suppose my favorite trope, if you could call it that, would be beta heroes who are still strong when necessary. I also love the “can’t stop thinking about your hair” arrangement, and I enjoy the meddling elderly relative who helps get the lovers together, IF it is done with a light touch. (I’m thinking of the aunt in Season for Surrender, for instance.) I like it when one of the MCs has a big, loving, protecting, but a little overbearing family. And my cracktastic trope that I don’t want to like but usually do is “heroine in danger and hero is her only hope at safety” (where the cop/PI/SEAL/“security expert” has to help the woman who’s always getting creepy phone calls from some stalker/serial killer/jealous ex—basically most romantic suspense stories!).

    I agree with everyone else who said it’s much harder to think of tropes you love than tropes you hate. The hate list is well defined for me: Hate secret babies. Hate billionaires, particularly if they’re Greek, Italian, or sheikhs of any kind. Hate it when the hero is the heroine’s boss. Hate virgin heroines in contemporaries. Hate it when a hero ditched the heroine in the past because he’s a spy/undercover/whatever and he left her to “protect” her. I could go on!

  19. 19
    Aziza says:

    Heh heh. In the comic book world, SOTI = Seduction of the Innocent

  20. 20
    Laragrey says:

    My main catnip—the high-test, if you will—is banter. Start out snarking at each other. As interest (and hopefully respect) grow, segue into wordplay, inside jokes, and suggestive flirty comments. And if either or both parties can manage to say something sweet and/or hot during the act—assuming their tongues aren’t otherwise occupied—I’m a happy reader.

  21. 21
    larissa says:

    I love the alpha hero, I admit it. I know it is cheesy, but I do love the hero who has some dark or deep reason why he won’t allow himself happiness or love. I just want him to come to the decision to let it go by a combination of smart means, not just by the vagical heroine. I love and despise – in a loving way – the tense situation where they’ve been apart too long and now it might be too late but lo it is not!

    On Austenland, I read it after seeing it on this blog. I thought it was basically a screenplay and wondered in fact why she didn’t just write a movie. That said, I thought it was entertaining, and it made me go right to my TV and watch a marathon of the Colin Firth BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. That was a nice effect, because I hadn’t watched that series and I did like it.

  22. 22
    Samanthaclouse says:

    Boy, I do love a disfigured hero. Nothing really does it more for me than a broody hero with one eye or tiger claw marks across his face—especially if he’s an infamous recluse. Ooh, shivers!

  23. 23

    What I’ve done b/c of romances: (Regencies in general, not one in the specific):

    Nothing that was a permanent change or hobby, but I often plan trips around book stuff, like Katie Dunneback said she did in Ireland. When we went to London in April, I insisted the family tour Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s home. I could have spent much longer, but I did get Mr. Richland and the 6 and 8 yr olds to spend almost 2 hours there (Nice worksheets for kids – ie, find all the naked Napoleons in the mansion). It’s hard to describe the swelling in my heart and the background music in my imagination as I stood in the ballroom. And the docents let us operate the mirrored sliding window shutter/doors – I just wish I had been wearing a gown.

    We also went mudlarking b/c of Christmas Doll kids book – if I lived near the Thames, that’s a hobby I’d take up.

    True confession, I also went pony riding with the kids on Rotten Row (Hyde Park Stables.) And the ten seconds we trotted on the way back about killed me. Nothing like getting mocked by your six year old b/c you look so bad on a horse. I would clearly be one of those blue-stocking heroines, not the country miss type. And Mr. Richland took photos, which I can’t even begin to figure out how to crop to make me look like a debutante. I suspect Sarah’s butt looks waaaay better in snow pants on the ground than my thighs look trotting on a pony!

    Plus … and this is almost embarrassing but I think the bitchery will get it … I’ve been to Waterloo battlefield twice, fifteen years apart. Because hey, it might have changed! 

  24. 24
    larissa says:

    I thought that about her aunt, too. Oh, and Lizzie. Jennifer Ehle. She is also in Possession and she is flat-out beautiful in that role, too. I thought she and Colin Firth together were what made that series, not either one of them alone.

  25. 25
    Qualisign says:

    An Alpha plus introvert hero paired with a very smart, almost invisible (quiet) but equally alpha plus heroine. Both damaged but functioning, strong persons hidden from society by virtue of different social masks. Witty, incisive repartee. Unexpected humor.

  26. 26
    SB Sarah says:

    You don’t have to apologize for the mini-review – that’s very helpful, since the book is on my TBR pile, which resembles a rather impressive mountain at this point.

  27. 27
    SB Sarah says:

    Nah, use well and prosper when quoting the SOTIs!

  28. 28
    SB Sarah says:

    There is absolutely no way my butt looks good in any snowpants. No way.

  29. 29
    librarygrrl64 says:

    “I don’t want to like you. I don’t want to like you. I can’t stop thinking about your hair. DAMMIT.”

    That is TOTALLY my catnip as well. Especially if the heroine is a little older and the genteel-impoverished-intellectual-spinster type, but with a strong will, and the hero is of a higher social class. CATNIP!

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