Bookish Radness, Fiction

The Joy that is Jane Austen Retellings (and Some New Ones to Check Out!)

Today is one of the days we honor Jane Austen. It can be a bit weird to honor someone on the anniversary of their death (She passed away on July 18th, 1817), but I guess when you’ve forever impacted the literary world, people do that, and honestly, I’m here for all the Austen celebrations. Today, I wanted to share some recent Austen retellings I’ve read. I love retellings – whether movies or books, it’s such a fun way to experience Jane. I’ve decided there are three types of Austen retellings:

1. An almost exact retelling, but names, dates, and locations changed. These can be hit or miss.
2. A barely recognizable version of Jane, where the author tried to hard to be different, but it usually ends up not working.
3. The best kind. The author has enough changes to make it different, but the nod to the genius that was Jane. These are obviously my favorites.

Am I missing any? I tend to lean toward Pride and Prejudice retellings, which also seem to be the most popular.

What’s a favorite Austen retelling of yours? If you say Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, let’s hang out. I don’t care that Jane might be rolling over in her grave, I love that movie (it’s one of those rare ones where I like the movie more than the book).

Finally, here are some recent ones I’ve read. As with any book, some I liked better than others, there were some things I wish the authors didn’t do, but overall, I think they’re all worth checking out. Have you read any?

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal: In this one-of-a-kind retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, Alys Binat has sworn never to marry—until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.

A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.

When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful—and single—entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal—and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.

Told with wry wit and colorful prose, Unmarriageable is a charming update on Jane Austen’s beloved novel and an exhilarating exploration of love, marriage, class, and sisterhood.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin: A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston: When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men–until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed.Mr. Darcy’s passionate avowal of love causes Elizabeth to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about him. What she knows is that he is rich, handsome, clever, and very much in love with her. She, on the other hand, is poor, and can expect a future of increasing poverty if she does not marry. The incentives for her to accept him are strong, but she is honest enough to tell him that she does not return his affections. He says he can accept that–but will either of them ever be truly happy in a relationship of unequal affection?

Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice at the proposal in the Hunsford parsonage, this story explores the kind of man Darcy is, even before his “proper humbling,” and how such a man, so full of pride, so much in love, might have behaved had Elizabeth chosen to accept his original proposal.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi: Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge (This is a book I got to work on, so yes, a little biased : ): “Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”―Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (I actually haven’t read this one yet, but I’m really excited to): Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

– Never trust an outsider
– Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations
– And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Bookish Radness

A Literary Rebel

Sometimes I decide to make things and sell them. This time? My love of being a Literary Rebel.

A friend once said “Books change the world because books change people and people change the world.” Books, stories, words: They help see humanity in others, they motivate us into action, move us toward compassion, give us hope. Books also teach us, encourage us, and inspire us.

Today’s times are hard. Watch the news for 53 seconds and you know what I mean. People can no longer have discussions and have hidden behind a computer to yell and name call. Critical thinking seems like a distant memory and the art of debate buried.

As a person who loves Jesus and tries everyday to love people like He does, the environment we’ve created breaks me. People no longer see people. They see issues. Issues they have opinions about.

May that never be me. May I always see a person’s value and humanity and love them, no matter what faith they follow (if any), what life choices they make, what good or bad decisions they make, whatever it is. May I always see the person.

That’s what books help with. This isn’t just an opinion of a biased book-loving, publisher-working reader. Science, studies, and so many things point to this: When we read books and stories (especially true with fiction), we are kinder and we have compassion. Why? Because we are able to see humanity through the words of a book.

So this was going to be a one paragraph introduction to the mugs and stickers I have on Etsy, but apparently I had a word to share! So friends, keep reading books. Read books about stories you aren’t familiar with and people who look and act differently from you. Be a person known for compassion.

May we always rebel against that which isn’t love.

Want the mug or stickers? You can check out my Etsy shop >> here.

Want to get more recommendations than you’ll ever need? You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to sign-up (its free) for the Penguin Random House Readers Program. Buy books, earn points, get free books. Definitely a way to be a Literary Rebel. Sign up here#TeamPRH #ReadWithLoyalty

Bookish Radness

Earn Free Books! Penguin Random House’s Reader Rewards Program

Y’all know how much I love working for Penguin Random House. They recently kicked off the best rewards program and I want to make sure the book world knows because you know what’s the best? FREE BOOKS!

It’s simple: Sign-up HERE to become a member of the Penguin Random House loyalty program.

Buy a Penguin Random House book at any retailer(!!!) and submit your receipt.

Earn points for buying books and redeem them for free Penguin Random House books.

SERIOUSLY.

FREE BOOKS.

Sign up here!

#TeamPRH and #ReadWithLoyalty

Bookish Radness

The Books Behind Disney

I love Disney. The parks, the movies, the cartoons. So when I heard there would be live actions for both Aladdin AND Lion King (both in my top 5 favorites), I was immediately in. Recently they dropped the full length trailer for Lion King and y’all, I WANT A PET LION CUB. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Did you know the The Lion King was the first Disney animated feature to be an original story? Although, it was inspired by both Shakespeare (Hamlet) and the Bible (the lives of Joseph and Moses). I love hearing the inspiration of movies I love and because no one on the internet asked, I’m here to provide a list of other well known Disney movie inspirations or the book they’re based off of:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: This Brothers Grimm tale was the first animated film produced by Disney. Have y’all watched this one recently? I started watching it with my niece a couple years ago and had to turn it off because we she got scared by the Queen.

Cinderella: Also by the same name by Brothers Grimm. Their version is much more gruesome.

Little Mermaid: The original story was written by Hans Christian Andersen. Is it the same romantic ending? Can’t say it is. She doesn’t end up with the Prince, but doesn’t turn into sea foam like all other mermaids, so there’s that.

Beauty and the Beast: Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve is credited with the oldest version of this tale. She was around in the 1700s.

The Fox and the Hound: This one is based on the 1967 novel by American Daniel P. Mannix and guess what, it’s just as depressing as the movie.

Pinocchio: The 1883 Italian classic The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi, reveals that Pinocchio was much more into making bad decisions than the cartoon classic.

Tangled: Based off of Brothers Grimm’s (again!) Rapunzel, the original story shows us that these brothers and those who told these early folk had some issues.

Aladdin: We can thank the French archaeologist, Antoine Galland, for the interpretation of Arabian Nights for this one.

Mulan: This was inspired by the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. Apparently Mushu isn’t real though. I’m sad.

The Princess and the Frog: Shout out the Brothers again, but also 2002 book, The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker. Disney changed the setting though, thus the New Orleans vibe.

Frozen: This one was inspired by The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (1884).

What’s your favorite animated feature film?

I’ll end with the trailer for Aladdin because I’m really excited about this one too. Although, can we talk about how the casting of Jafar as creepy old man is neither creepy nor old man??

Book Wisdom, Bookish Radness

What Book Made You a Reader?

Do you remember the first book that made you a reader? People might guess that mine would either be The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia, but I didn’t encounter Tolkien or Lewis until much later in life (after college). Although, there is a very vague childhood memory of the epic 1970s epic Hobbit cartoon and the most terrifying Gollum to ever be on screen, but I didn’t make the connection until after watching the LOTR movies.

Anyway, there are two books I think of from childhood that I claim as those that made me a reader. One I have no clue the author or title and it was published in the late 80s/early 90s. So good luck finding it – haha! All I can remember is that it was a fantasy book about a young girl who had to leave her castle (I think), go on adventures, and save her family. The cover had her (I think she had a brown braid) and a mountain on it. Possibly included animal sidekicks. If you can help me find that book, I promise to send you every fiction release I’m working on this year.

The other book? The Land I Lost by Quang Nhuong Huynh

I still have my original 1986 version.

I read this book so many times when I was young! I was completely fascinated by Huynh’s stories. How different they were from my own. I loved the stories of his animal encounters (even the scary ones and, after reading it again recently, some violent ones), his pets, the adventures, and the love of his home country. It was so exciting exciting to learn about a culture millions of miles (at least it felt that way to young Jamie) away from Southern California.

I didn’t fully understand all that it meant at that age, but I knew it made me want to learn more about other people, places, and lives. Isn’t that one of the greatest gifts a book gives us?

I’d love to hear from you! What book made you a reader?

Also, if you have kids in your life, GIVE THEM ALL THE BOOKS! You never know which stories will impact them.

Bookish Radness

Brio Magazine Feature!

I had an awesome opportunity to be featured in Brio Magazine for their April/May issue. God is always up to something isn’t He? Thankful for the opportunity and chance for young ladies to hear a bit of my story. My prayer is that by reading it, they may be encouraged that God is working in theirs!

Life is a wild journey, but an incredible one. God has given each of us unique talents, passions, abilities, and quirks. May we embrace those and expectantly wait to see what God will do in His perfect timing.

You can find out more about the issue here, but I also snagged some photos!

 

Bookish Radness

Because I Love The Insta

I finally made it to two Indie bookstores in Denver this past weekend and because I might have an obsession with Instagram and books, I may have started a new account featuring bookstores and libraries I visit. I’m all about living the Nerd Life Internet. Plus, supporting them is pretty much supporting myself, so wins for everyone 🙃.

It’s @bookstoreandlibrarylove if you want to follow! In case there’s any issues with the link and photos below, you can find it here!