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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/04/13 Permalink
    Tags: , a wounded name, , , , , , darling beast, daughter of time, dot hutchinson, e.k. johnson, , , fool, , howard jacobson, i iago, , if we were villains, , , josephine tey, jude morgan, juliet immortal, katharine davies, m.l. rio, , , miranda and caliban, new boy, nicole galland, one perfect rose, rebecca reisert, Rebecca Serle, , , ros barber, saving juliet, shylock is my name, , , tessa gratton, the madness of love, the marlowe papers, the princes in the tower, the queens of innis lear, the secret life of william shakespeare, the third witch, , vinegar girl, when you were mine, william shakespeare's star wars   

    25 Romances for Shakespeare Fans 

    Between fairytales, Jane Austen, and revivals of favorite TV shows from yesteryear, retellings of classic stories for today’s readers are all the rage. Shakespeare is no exception! Here are twenty-five books you’ll love if you’re a fan of the Bard.

    Miranda and Caliban, by Jacqueline Carey
    Jacqueline Carey has the unique ability to blend beautiful prose, lush world building, and lots of fascinating character development. This retelling of The Tempest stars Miranda and Caliban: the daughter of the play’s main character Prospero, who has taken them to an island for mysterious reasons…and the slave described as a monster by his master. Carey reimagines them as star-crossed lovers caught in a web of powerful people they can’t escape.

    As I Descended, by Robin Talley
    A gender-flipped, YA version of Macbeth? Sign me up! Meet Maria and Lily; inseparable, in love, and desperate to carve out a future for themselves when they feel it is in jeopardy. Maria wants to win the Cawdor Kingsley prize, but to do so, they have to get Delilah, the star student, out of the way. When Lily comes up with a plan to do so, things get bloody.

    I, Iago, by Nicole Galland
    Why did Iago insert himself into Othello’s life, causing devastation to everyone he loved? To learn the truth, you have to go back. In this clever retelling, Iago’s past is explored—as is his role in the society he exists within, as a co-conspirator in the act of convincing a man to murder the woman he loves.

    A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley
    Larry Cook is retiring, and his land should go to his daughters—but his youngest, Caroline, refuses to accept his offer. King Lear is a story about pride, family, and revenge, and this retelling brings that to life. Buried family secrets are brought to the surface, and in the end, none of its members will be the same.

    The Third Witch, by Rebecca Reisert
    Macbeth begins with three witches, and this novel delves into the story of one of them. Gilly decides to do whatever necessary to ruin Macbeth’s life, including dressing like a boy, sneaking into the castle, and inserting herself into his business. But by putting Macbeth and his wife in her sights, has she unwittingly risked herself?

    Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler
    A comedy, for a change of pace! The Taming of The Shrew gets the contemporary treatment when Kate, generally dissatisfied with her life, gets thrown another curveball: her father wants her to marry his assistant, Pytor, without whom his scientific research would be lost, to keep him from being deported. Hilarity ensues.

    Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood
    We return to The Tempest with a retelling from the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. A meta-twist on the retelling stars an artistic director of a theater putting on a production of the namesake Shakespeare play itself…but when he is betrayed, Felix winds up alone, missing his lost daughter, wishing for the day vengeance can be his. When an opportunity to teach a theater course in a prison arises, Felix sees his chance to put on his play, and put out the people whom he thought he could trust.

    If We Were Villains, by M.L. Rio
    Sometimes we forget, but Shakespeare’s plays were put on by actors…and this interesting novel combines a narrative fit for the Bard himself with the theatrical backdrop. Oliver Marks has been in jail, but no one knows the real truth of why. He was once an actor surrounded by other talented performers, but something took a turn for the dangerous in their final year at the conservatory. What is the truth? Who is the villain? Only Oliver knows, and you must decide if you believe him.

    Fool, by Christopher Moore
    The court jester always stands on the sidelines, seeing all. In this novel, Lear’s jester is named Pocket, and the story unfolds from his point of view. While their family falls apart, the fool finds a way to make you laugh despite the tragedy that inevitably approaches.

    A Wounded Name, by Dot Hutchinson
    Hamlet is about the titular character, but in this retelling, Ophelia gets the star treatment. At Elsinore Academy, Ophelia sees ghosts that even medicine cannot banish. She finds comfort in the late headmaster’s son, Dane, but together, their connection proves tragic.

    The Queens of Innis Lear, by Tessa Gratton
    This book isn’t even out yet, but I’m so excited about it I had to include it! A magical fantasy inspired by King Lear? Yes, please! Three queens battle for the rights to the throne: one, who sees revenge for her mother’s death, another determined to get an heir to secure her position, and a third who sides with her father, determined to protect him from their war.

    The Princes in the Tower, by Alison Weir
    If you’re a fan of Shakespeare’s Richard III, you will love this historical fiction novel that envisions what occurred when Richard infamously made two young princes disappear since they were a threat to his crown.

    The Marlowe Papers, by Ros Barber
    If you love Shakespeare, you should know his greatest frenemy: Christopher Marlowe. Some call him a competitor, others a collaborator…and in this novel, Marlowe reveals the truth about his death…or rather, the death he faked so he could escape being a convicted heretic. And of course, the greatest forgery of them all: that he continued to write plays in Shakespeare’s name. A rich, imaginative novel about a time mired in mystery.

    The Secret Life of William Shakespeare, by Jude Morgan
    For all of his works and his enduring legacy, William Shakespeare is still something of an enigma. This novel unravels the mystery behind his childhood, his marriage, the death of his son, and much more.

    Shylock is My Name, by Howard Jacobson
    The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s slightly more obscure plays (but one of my personal favorites.) About family, betrayal, faith and revenge, this story is re-interpreted for the present day where Simon Strulovitch takes the place of Shylock. His daughter Beatrice has fallen for an athlete with anti-semitic views despite the fact that she is Jewish, and eventually, Strulovich is driven to seek revenge.

    Darling Beast, by Elizabeth Hoyt
    This romance takes place in the theater, so of course Shakespeare would approve! An actress has fallen on difficult times while trying to take care of her young son. When she meets another inhabitant of the theater, a Viscount with a violent past, they both turn to one another to bring themselves out of the darkness of the wings and into the bright light of center stage.

    One Perfect Rose, by Mary Jo Putney
    Stephen has just been diagnosed with a devastating illness. Wanting to waste no time, he decides to leave the responsibilities of his life behind and travel, meeting a theater family and falling for their daughter, Rosalind. But even as they grow to love one another, Stephen knows that his curtain call is approaching…

    Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by E.K. Johnston
    This YA retelling of The Winter’s Tale involves the aftermath of one girl’s rape while at cheerleading camp. Hermione feels that she’s doomed to fulfill the legacy of every senior class in her school: a girl ends up pregnant before graduation. But instead, with her family, friends, and the community rallying around her, she defies expectations and makes the best choices for her future.

    Saving Juliet, by Suzanne Selfors
    Traveling back to Shakespeare’s time thanks to an accident of magic, Mimi and her acting partner on Broadway, Troy Summer, find themselves in the time of the Montagues and Capulets. There, she meets the real Juliet, and finds herself tempted to intervene and save the star-crossed lovers before tragedy strikes.

    New Boy, by Tracy Chevalier
    Othello takes a trip to the 1970’s in this gripping retelling. Osei is a diplomat’s son, used to traveling and never fitting in. But here, he fits with Dee, a popular girl in school…to Ian’s dismay. Many things remain the same, such as the investigation of racism, pride, and revenge. The twist? All of the characters are eleven years old, and what happens during school will change their lives forever.

    Wiliam Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher
    See the story of Star Wars through a Shakespearean lens, with the Jedis, Sith Lords, and captive princesses all told through a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s play format as though it were being performed for Queen Elizabeth herself.

    Juliet Immortal, by Stacey Jay
    Here’s the truth: Juliet didn’t kill herself. Romeo murdered her to get something for himself: immortality. But in this re-imagining of the classic tragedy, Juliet may get the last word. Granted eternal life, she spends her centuries fighting back against Romeo—and that fight will become even more dangerous when she meets someone else she loves.

    Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
    Was Richard III as evil and cunning as history remembers him? Or was he misunderstood, forced into a difficult position by the circumstances of the time? This novel stars a Scotland Yard detective determined to find out the truth behind one of history’s most enigmatic and infamous figures.

    The Madness of Love, by Katharine Davies
    Twelfth Night is part comedy, part drama, and so is this novel about a girl named Valentina who misses her twin brother after he’s abandoned her to go traveling. She decides to disguise herself as a boy and travel after him, even if it means having to help a man she may have feelings for in his plan to find happiness with the girl he’s loved since he was young. Unrequited love, mistaken identity, and more collide.

    When You Were Mine, by Rebecca Serle
    Ah! Another character gets their turn in the spotlight. Serle’s When You Were Mine is a modern take on Romeo & Juliet, but focuses on the character of Rosaline. Remember her? She’s the girl Romeo was smitten with before meeting Juliet. In Serle’s reimagining, Juliet and Rosaline (or Rose), are former BFFs, and Rob (Romeo) and Rose have finally, finally shared a kiss. But when Juliet moves back into town, she steals Rob away from Rose, who is absolutely crushed. You get to watch literature’s most famous love story through the eyes of Rosaline, the broken-hearted, jilted former flame…and then the downward spiral Juliet sets herself on.

    What are your favorite Shakespearean retellings?

    The post 25 Romances for Shakespeare Fans appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Eric Smith 3:40 pm on 2015/04/23 Permalink
    Tags: adam pertocci, , happy bday bard!, , , lisa m. klein, Rebecca Serle, , , ,   

    17 Contemporary Reads Inspired by William Shakespeare 

    Today the literary world is honoring the life, and death, of William Shakespeare. While his exact birthday isn’t really known, we observe it on April 23, the date he died at age 52.

    And while there are scores of classics inspired by William Shakespeare’s writing, like Moby Dick, by Herman Melville; Brave New Worldby Aldous Huxley; Shakespeare in Love, by Tom Stoppard…what? That film’s a classic, you guys! (Plus, Stoppard also wrote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.) Anyhow, I’m not here to argue. Point is, Shakespeare inspired some important works, and his influence stretches far and wide and into contemporary literature. From science-fiction to mashups, YA fantasy to hilarious romps, there’s a bit of everything inspired by the Bard. Let’s have a look at a few.

    Fool, by Christopher Moore
    Moore has a real gift for putting his own spin on big stories. Lamb is his retelling of Biblical tales and characters, while his A Love Story series is a hilarious take on the vampire-novel genre. In Fool, Moore takes on Shakespeare’s King Lear, telling the story from the perspective of Pocket, King Lear’s fool.

    As the Shakespearian tale takes the downward spiral we’re all familiar with, it’s Pocket who jumps in to save the day behind the scenes. He works to help get Cordelia back into the kingdom, pushes against Regan and Goneril, and gets in plenty of trouble along the way, as a fool is want to do. A handful of other characters from Shakespeare’s plays make appearances in the novel, as well as a number of original characters from Moore’s vast imagination, but I won’t spoil that for you.

    Also See:

    The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, by Adam Pertocci
    What if one of the greatest films of all time happened to be written by Shakespeare? That’s the question Adam Pertocci’s The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski seeks to answer. Instead of The Dude, you’re introduced to the Knave and his brave compatriot, Sir Walter. Written in iambic pentameter, the book is full of “discovered” historical engravings and scholarly notes. Fun Fact: This book isn’t just a quirky take on The Big Lebowski in Shakespearean format. It actually had a run as a sold-out off Broadway play in 2010.

    William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher
    Another Shakespearean rewrite that explores another one of the greatest films of all time (and by now, you’ve likely got a feel for my tastes in movies). Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars takes Episode IV: A New Hope and rewrites it in iambic pentameter…then takes things a bit further than that. Characters who never had a single line (such as R2-D2) suddenly have beautifully written soliloquies, and beautiful, woodcut-esque illustrations are peppered throughout.

    It’s the first in a series, followed by The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return.

    Ophelia, by Lisa M. Klein
    Poor Ophelia. Her role in Hamlet always broke my heart, no matter the adaptation. And in this reimagining, she finally gets to have her say, as Lisa M. Klein retells the story of Hamlet from her perspective. Instead of just seeing Hamlet’s mad view of the world as he descends into madness and his family falls into ruin, readers learn more about Ophelia’s life growing up, her relationship with her brother, and her close friendship with the queen as her lady-in-waiting.

    And, of course, there’s the inevitable ending…right? Maybe.

    Also See:

    When You Were Mine, by Rebecca Serle
    Ah! Another character gets their turn in the spotlight. Serle’s When You Were Mine is a modern take on Romeo & Juliet, but focuses on the character of Rosaline. Remember her? She’s the girl Romeo was smitten with before meeting Juliet. In Serle’s reimagining, Juliet and Rosaline (or Rose), are former BFFs, and Rob (Romeo) and Rose have finally, finally shared a kiss. But when Juliet moves back into town, she steals Rob away from Rose, who is absolutely crushed. You get to watch literature’s most famous love story through the eyes of Rosaline, the broken-hearted, jilted former flame…and then the downward spiral Juliet sets herself on.

    Also See:

    Juliet Immortal, by Stacey Jay
    What if Juliet and Romeo weren’t lovers at all…but enemies? And not just any enemies, but immortal beings caught up in a battle spanning centuries? That’s what Stacey Jay’s take on Shakespeare’s classic love story runs with. And oh my, it is exciting and fun. See, the traditional story is that Juliet takes her own life. But in Jay’s novel, Romeo murders her as a sacrifice to grant himself immortality. But, surprise, Juliet is given the gift of eternal life as well, and their battle for the souls of true lovers everywhere begins. They fight in different times, in different eras, as different people.

    But now, Juliet has fallen in love with someone. And Romeo is out to crush them.

  • Sabrina Rojas Weiss 7:00 pm on 2014/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: Famous in Love, , , , nightshade, Rebecca Serle, shatter me, , the mortal instruments, , , ,   

    8 Essential Elements of a Juicy YA Love Triangle 

    YA love triangles

    Rebecca Serle’s Famous in Love (out next month) is a deliciously meta YA novel: aspiring actress Paige Townsen lands her dream breakout movie role as the lead in an adaptation of Locked, the hottest YA book in all the land, and finds herself in a love triangle with her costars that mirrors the love triangle in the movie. If you’ve been reading the genre for a couple of years, you might be finding yourself wearying of the triangle trope—but when the dilemma is done right, as it is in Serle’s hands, it can be a compelling examination of adolescent identity, healthy relationships, and that intangible thing we call “chemistry.”

    That’s why we put together this little guide for readers (and writers), of the things we think can make or break a good torn-between-two-lovers tale:

    1. The protagonist in the middle of the triangle isn’t sure about who he/she really is, especially after something has recently happened to shatter his/her identity. The two love choices represent different parts of who the protagonist wants to be — so it’s not just about whether the main character prefers blonds or brunettes. See: The Hunger Games, in which Katniss goes back and forth between her angry, survivalist identity (Gale) and the softer, more vulnerable one she never knew she had (Peeta).

    2. The two love choices are polar opposites from each other. It’s not just about who the protagonist wants to be; it’s about the reader being able to imagine getting to choose between a wide range of fantasy objects. See: Wuthering Heights‘ dark, brooding orphan Heathcliff vs. fair-haired, gentlemanly, and rich Edgar Linton.

    3. The two candidates are both very attractive—and not just physically. A high school librarian friend of mine asked some of her students what they love about love triangles, too. One avid fan of the genre said it’s especially fun when a book leads to debates with her friends. “Making both men appealing is key. … [We] often (most of the time) end up liking different men in the books. We even made a pro/con list.” See: The Raven Boys, in which readers can’t help but fall in love with both Adam and Gansey, and it’s impossible to imagine how Blue could ever choose between them.

    4. It’s believable that the character would be happy with either one. If it’s obvious that one is the better choice, we just get fed up with the protagonist for not seeing the obvious. Another teen reader told us that what gets her is when “you don’t know who the person would end up picking. … I like the suspense of that. It [makes] you want to keep reading the book to find out what is going to happen.” She even likes it when the author goes against her wishes. See: Grasshopper Jungle, in which Austin realizes he loves his best friend, Robby, as much as his girlfriend, Shann.

    5. The bad boy is even more attractive because of his good boy foil. Deep down, however, the bad one is actually good too. This way, we don’t feel like we might actually be attracted to sociopaths. See: Shatter Me, in which Warner’s daddy issues become so horrifying that we want to wrap him up in a big hug, despite the fact that he may or may not be capable of mass murder and torture. Or The Infernal Devices, in which Will’s awful behavior toward Tessa has a heartbreaking motivation.

    6. Friends and family all side with one choice, complicating matters for the chooser. It’s nice to get some of that teenage rebellion into the mix. See: Nightshade, which takes parental preference to the point of arranged teen marriage.

    7. There is serious, undeniable chemistry between the protagonist and the less-obvious choice. This helps when we’d otherwise automatically pick one side. Funny how we’ve yet to encounter this problem in real life, but that’s what makes fiction fun. See: Famous in Love, where the sparks between Paige and Jordan nearly set the book on fire.

    8. As a reader, you might want the character to end up with the bad boy, but in real life you’d probably marry the good one. This is all about wish fulfillment before we get back to our practical decisions. See: The Mortal Instruments, because as hot as Jace is, he’d be pretty terrible to live with long term.

    And this brings us to one final thought: Good love triangles are compelling because they’re total fantasy. We literally do not know a single person who’s been in one in real life. Do you?

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