Once upon a time in Edinburgh, a baby boy was born with a frozen heart. Never fear, dear readers, for the quick-thinking midwife simply mended it with a working cuckoo clock. Thus begins little Jack’s life in The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. Written by Mathias Malzieu, the lead singer of a French rock band, the story follows Jack’s youth in which he is warned never to fall in love. Of course, the first time he ventures into the city, he is instantly smitten with a pretty little singer and disregards all caution for his heart. An off-beat sensual fairy tale for adults, The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart plays with Tim Burton-esque somber imagination. Bonus for audiobook fans: Jim Dale, the golden voice of Harry Potter and Pushing Daisies, narrates!
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There is immediacy to doomed love affairs that fires the heart and fulfills the soul – such is the tale of John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Keats was the youngest of the Romantic Poets. His friends, the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, adored Keats’ verse, but the critics, eh, not so much. Keats was so poor he lived with patron and friend, Charles Brown. Fanny Brawne lived next door. Miss Brawne could stitch with the capability that Keats wrote, very detailed and quite finely. Many people thought her not much more than a fashionable minx, and yet she would become Keats’ muse. Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion, follows their star-crossed and unlikely affair.
What if the man of your dreams walked into your life, but he wasn’t what you’d hoped? Cornelia, who has nursed a (let’s face it, not unique) lifetime crush on Cary Grant, has a dashing man who could be his twin walk in her café door. Martin Grace seems too good to be true, but Cornelia is enjoying the fantasy. What she doesn’t expect is that it isn’t necessarily the man who will fill her heart, but the young girl who comes looking for him. A different kind of romance, Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos speaks to the little surprises that change our lives immeasurably. Of course, as Cornelia discovers, we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Tales of England’s kings and queens are ever full of passion and intrigue, which makes them ideal candidates for film. While Henry VIII and Elizabeth I may be the flashier monarchs, be sure not to overlook the remarkable Jane Grey. Who, you ask? Jane, a 16th century bookish teen who wanted only to devote her life to quiet contemplation, is suddenly thrust into the political game by her ambitious family in a play for power. Sparks fly when she is married off to a young lord of whom she knows little and likes less. Lady Jane, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes, is the unforgettable story of England’s Nine Days’ Queen. Want to know more? Try the biography Lady Jane Grey or the novel Innocent Traitor.
For those who cannot get enough of Jane Austen, there is no shortage of continuations, modernizations, or general homage to her novels of wit and manner. What poses a challenge is finding an author who can do justice to the beloved stories but who also brings something new to the reader. One such success is Joan Aiken, who was writing companions to Austen’s novels long before it was trendy. In Jane Fairfax: Jane Austen’s Emma Through Another’s Eyes, Aiken chooses a minor character, one who in Emma seems cold and remote, and brings her to life as a complex, sympathetic heroine in her own right. We’re convinced Jane would approve.
In a most charming debut set in contemporary India, we are introduced to Mr. Ali, a recent retiree. After a lifetime of working hard, he thought his days would be free and easy. Too free and easy, as it turns out, because his constant presence and second-guessing of household matters is driving his wife crazy. In order to preserve harmony at his home, he begins a new enterprise: he opens a matchmaking service! The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama is the story of his venture and those he serves. Clients ask to consider caste, religion, extended family, and even height as they plan for the perfect mate. Fans of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency will easily fall in love with this sweet, engaging tale of modern romance and hopeful endings.
How about some emotional satisfaction? Are you in the mood for an optimistic ending? Do you long for a little more passion in your life? The Romance Writers of America have revealed the 2009 RITA Award winners. If you need a little bit of inspiration on what to read next, check out some of this year’s victors:
Check out the full list of winners here.
The Christy Awards, recognizing excellence in several genres of Christian Fiction, presented awards to Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky (Contemporary Romance), Dogwood by Chris Fabry (Contemporary), Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin (Historical), The Rook by Steven James (Suspense), and Vanish by Tom Pawlik (Visionary).
ThrillerFest, hosted by the International Thriller Writers, Inc., named The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffrey Deaver as the Best Thriller of the Year. Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 added another in a growing list of honors as Best First Novel.
Love to listen to a great story? Celebrate June as Audiobook Month by checking out the newly crowned winners of the 2009 Audies. The utterly fantastic The Graveyard Book, written and read by Neil Gaiman, won top honors as Audiobook of the Year. In a rare tie, the award for Fiction was given to both The Duma Key and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Curse of the Blue Tattoo was the first winner of Distinguished Achievement in Production as well as the Female Solo Narration and Teen categories. Other recipients include The Last Lecture (Biography/Memoir), When You are Engulfed in Flames (Author Narration), Child 44 (Thriller/Suspense), and Hot, Flat, and Crowded (both Non-Fiction and the Judges’ Award).
Losing your job as a premise for romantic comedy? It may not be an obvious pitch, especially these days, but Outsourced is a crowd-pleasing story on a touchy topic. Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) is told that not only is his entire department being outsourced, but he must personally travel to India to train his replacement. When employee Asha (the winning Ayesha Dharker) challenges several of his presumptions, he begins to better appreciate his temporary home. A love letter to India, Outsourced offers a taste of the exotic and a full serving of feel-good entertainment.