Friday, January 29, 2010

Casting Georgette Heyer's Black Sheep

My friend Courtney did the seemingly impossible: she gave me a book as a gift.

This is usually hard for people because they never know what I have or have not read ( I have read pretty much everything it seems) or what I will like and they generally shy away from tempting me with anything but a Chapters/Indigo giftcard.

Not Court. Nope. She found a winner (a few years ago, it would seem ) and held on to her treasure and just knew that she could pop it out at the right time and I would love it.

And I did.

Ladies and gents, I give you the Regency Barney Snaith ( of LM Montgomery's The Blue Castle) Miles Caverleigh from Georgette Heyer's DIVINE Black Sheep

Now Miles, adorable Miles, is part Barney/ part Rhett Butler- --- all delicious regency fun: his boots are too tall for society; his cravat too loose and he has this infuriating habit of making our prim and bright heroine, Abigail Wendover, giggle at the most inopportune moments.

Oh Miles!

But Miles, dear Miles, sees a spark in dear Abby ( who is actually eight and twenty and very very much on the shelf. You see, bloggosphere, no one has "made up" to her ---or out with her in 20th Century vernacular---in EONS and she is being left to wither away whilst caring for her invalid, hypochondriatic sister and the neice who wants to run away with a scoundrel! a rake! a rogue....

oh it is DELICIOUS! and it is all about mature love ( because Miles once eloped with his heart's desire all but twenty years ago, don't you know, and he knows that Abby and he have a preternatural connection and..... )....and I WISH L M Montgomery had been alive to read some of these sentences:

I give you:

"He had nothing to recommend him but his smile, and she was surely too old, and had too much commonsense to be beguiled by a smile however attractive it might be. But just as she reached this decision he spoke, and she glanced up at him, and realized that she had overestimated both her age and her commonsense"


and there is MORE.....

"She was aware suddenly that her heart, in general a very reliable organ, was behaving in a most alarming way"

and then....

"She had been attracted by his smile, but no smile, however fascinating it might be, could cause a cool-headed female of more than eight-and-twenty so wholly to lose her poise and her judgment that she felt she had met, in its owner, the embodiment of an ideal."

Abby is smart and resourceful with a winsome sense of humour; Miles just enough parts rakish and gentleman with a hidden fortune and a desperate need to win the heart of fair maiden ( and with a dash of sarcasm and a sardonic smile which screams Barney!) and the whole blasted thing is bloody enchanting.


I timed it out so I didn't gobble it wholly and spread over a few pints in the Distillery ( here in Toronto ) on a train ride for work, on the subway and before bed and, seriously chickadees, I am going to start again. From the top.


It is precisely what this woman of eight-and-twenty ( who has fallen hard for a smile more than once, don't y'know) needs to subdue the January chill.

I am all aflutter...

and the best part.... THE CASTING!

why yes!

Jack Davenport as Miles Caverleigh. Won't he be divine?

( I realize this post has no real literary merit and I don't very much care... I have jelly beans aside me, a friday evening devoid of commitment and a heart full of love for a fictional man.... again)

new post: JD SALINGER

Dear world,

stop pretending you like ---or GET--- The Catcher in the Rye. Now that he's dead and there is no chance of him hovering Banquo-like over your shoulder as you pretend to hum harmoniously with his disembodied words--- you can tell the FRAKKIN' TRUTH

you don't like that book

you never liked that book

you don't understand that book

you admitted to saying "oh yes! I love that book!" just because you were afraid to admit you DIDN'T LIKE IT

( you now acknowledge that the aforementioned was a trend that caught on like wildfire after a view sardonically and dishonestly constructed to throw the literary world off forevermore. With banishments! and sneers! extensively expanding its popularity thereafter)

Yes, world, you can now admit ( as you will now find the courage to admit for another book you secretly despise ---that little ditty known as Ulysses by James Joyce) that you are befuddled and bedraggled and would rather read SIDNEY SHELDON because BY GOD! Sidney Sheldon is bad writing but at least you BLOODY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON!...

and ... and ... furthermore....

not EVERYTHING needs to MAKE a BOLD statement on the HUMAN CONDITION

and your life doesn't need to be populated by a James Dean rebel named Holden.


you're moving on.

RIP Salinger. I hope all they find in that secret safe the media is all excited about is decade old Jelly Bellys.


I received an exciting email from our marketing friends at Tyndale yesterday informing me of the launch of a new website on February 1st! What a great start to the month.

Here are some of the features we can expect to see:

  • A list of all Tyndale authors and their blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc.

  • A place where you can share stories about Tyndale products that have had an effect on your life

  • To celebrate the launch of this new site, Tyndale is giving away four books a day in the following categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Bibles, and Kids.

Cool, eh?

visit on February 1st ( or before---- why wait to check out their great books and catalogue? ) to learn and see more ( and win prizes)


Monday, January 25, 2010

Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington

rating: ***

publisher: Tyndale

First off, it is nice to kick off my return from a holiday hiatus from blogging with a new author.

Thicker Than Blood
by C.J. Darlington smells of old books and promise and is a welcoming frosty January read.

I must admit I have been impressed with C.J. Darlington’s tenacity in promoting her book. She has used an author’s seemingly most valuable marketing resource ( the internet) to tweet, facebook and blog about her first novel.

Moreover, I was eager to read the book because Darlington had won a major first writing award from Tyndale House for it. I think that is incredible and I congratulate her on her meticulous work. You glean from her bio and from the book itself that this is a labour of love and interest that has been lulling around in Darlington’s mind for a long while.

Christy is overcoming an addiction to alcohol and addressing issues of loneliness and the abandonment of love when the unthinkable happens: her beloved job at an Antiquarian bookstore and her burgeoning friendship with co-worker Hunter is disrupted but the sinister doings of Vince, an old flame.

Christyfinds herself drawn back to her roots--- and in particular the sister she has not seen in years ----to try and patch together the fragments of a life she learns is still valued: as valued as the first edition Twains and Hemingways she finds at auction.

Overtly Christian and filled with themes of redemption and grace, Thicker Than Blood is a thesis on the power of family, God and change ….

I commend Darlington on her first-hand knowledge of the antiquarian book world. I found Hunter and Christy's forays into auctions and appraisals fascinating and Darlington’s fascination with the world was meted out in a true and sustained fashion throughout the novel.

There were a few “rookie”moments that trailed the book:

First, the shaky transition from Christy's story and life to May’s didn’t flow smoothly. Secondly, the dialogue at times seemed forced and stiff as if taken straight from a Writer’s How-To guide.

Finally, Darlington doesn’t have a convincing grasp of anything secular: possession, tumultuous relationships, alcoholism: these all seemed like inserted bits of research and were not naturally ingrained in the novel.

Darlington is proud of her home-schooled Christian heritage but in this rare fact a writer’s background adds a friction and strips some of the validity and natural fruition of some very importantly bold and over-arching themes.

I am in no way suggesting a writer become “method” in obtaining this sort of information--- but when it is forced it is something very noticeable and can detract from the book’s potential to slip into the secular realm.

I was so happy for the chance to review this book because Darlington’s personality and passion shine through: two things I grant great merit to when discovering an author for the first time.

The book was not pitch-perfect but it does show some great seeds of potential. I look forward to reading more from Darlington---especially if infused with her first-hand and erudite knowledge of the antiquarian book world.

I would very much like to thank C.J. Darlington for the opportunity to read her promising first novel.

Visit C.J. here; follow her updates on the Christian culture world at TitleTrakk and follow C.J. on twitter!