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Who among us wouldn't prefer to be walking the cobbles of Dublin, letting a day slip by in the fields of Cork, or getting in a pedantic argument about the occurances of snakes on the Emerald Isle? As much or more a sign of spring than waiting for groundhogs to make wild pronouncements about weather patterns, St. Patrick's Day is that time of year when we can all embrace a little Irish in ourselves. So, we went around the office and asked everyone, what are some of your favourite Irish authors, stories, and fictions?

 

Lesley H - Of course, the quintessential modern classic of Irish literature is Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt’s memoir following his family’s forced emigration from America back to Ireland. The book was an instant hit twenty three years ago, and was followed by a film adapation and two sequels: 'Tis and Teacher Man

 

 

Lee-Ann B. - The trinity of Great Irish authors are, of course, James Joyces, WB Yeats, and Jonathan Swift. If you are looking for the classics, these are the authors to look at first.

 

Linda F - I’d suggest Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.  It seems weird for this Irish author to be writing about the American West, but the book is wonderfully written, just so full of vigor and life despite the horrors it depicts (maybe sustained by the humanity of the narrator).  A short, muscular, intense book that seems very American in spite of its Irish author.

 

Carrie P - Dublin Murder Squad is a fantastic series, each focusing on a different detective in the Dublin police homicide division. And, written by an American living in Dublin. Brooklyn is an arresting period piece that was also adapated into a film. And anything by the master of wit, Oscar Wilde.

 

Karrie V - My family is very Irish, so I have grown up watching Irish movies. My favourite movie of all time is Darby O’Gill and the Little People, where Sean Connery sings! Some others that are good include Philomena, Quiet Man, Far and Away, HungerSecret of KellsMy Left FootWind That Shakes the Barley, In the Name of the Father, and Commitments.

 

Rachel S - I read Maeve Binchy for years- one of my favourites being Circle of Friends. And of course, the author of our favourite vampire Dracula - Bram Stoker

 

Nancy B - Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb, in which Eve Dallas' Irish vacation is disturbed by a murder.

 

Kirk O - For a historical fiction book about Ireland, I love Trinity by Leon Uris. Uris always has strong characters around pivotal historic events and this book delivers that as well.  From the Irish famine to the uprising in 1916, this tells the story of Conor Larkin and his family.  It was so good I have actually read it three times over the years, making a trinity myself.  And if anyone is planning a visit, as I did in 2018, and loves Guinness as I do, the tour of the St. James’s Gate Brewery was a highlight. A few pints overlooking Dublin is a great way to spend an hour. Perhaps reading Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness by Evan McHugh, an Australian travelling Ireland in search of a perfect pint.  

 

Michael C - I'm going to go way off the beaten path here and recommending Grabbers, a comedy horror film in which an idyllic remote Irish island is invaded by enormous bloodsucking tentacled aliens. I'm also going to recommend the works of director/playwrite Martin McDonagh; specifically the mobster dramedy In Bruges. Also his brother John Michael McDonagh's film Calvary .

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Sláinte mhaith!

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Remember back in the early nineties, when The Simpsons joked that the Grammy Award was a disposable and meaningless award? 26 years later, that sort of opinion continues to dog what is meant to be the preeminent award for music. On Sunday, February 10th, the 61st annual Grammy Awards were celebrated and were no stranger to controversy both on and off stage.

 

This year, the Grammy’s were hosted by R&B singer Alicia Keys. Keys opened the ceremony alongside Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and surprise guest Michelle Obama. Performances throughout the night included Post Malone with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (amazing!) as well as Dolly Parton singing my favorite song Jolene with goddaughter - and newly married - Miley Cyrus.  

 

The opening performance was on fire, with Camilla Cabello singing her hit single ‘Havana’ alongside Ricky Martin and J Balvin.  During the performance, Balvin could be seen off to the side, holding up a newspaper with the headline ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls’; an obvious but subtle political statement regarding the current issue surrounding the US Border. 


This year’s winner for Record of the Year was This is America by Actor turned Hip Hop artist, Childish Gambino (AKA Donald Glover). This is the first time ever that a Hip Hop song has one in this category.  This is America was also the winner for Song of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance. The single was released in 2018; there is rumor that the song will be included in the artist’s full album, releasing mid-2019. 

 

Another surprise win went to Kacey Musgraves for her 2018 Album Golden Hour, which won an astonishing 4 awards. The awards which Musgraves won for this album were: Album of the Year, Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song, and Best Country Album.  It is not often that a Country album takes home Album of the Year, so this was a good win for the Country music genre.

 

Best new artist went to Dua Lipa, a rising star from the UK.  Along with this award, Lipa won Best Dance Recording for her song Electricity, a collaboration with Silk City. Songs such as IDGAF and One Kiss (alongside Calvin Harris) shine the light on Lipa’s talent. Dua Lipa’s debut album released in June 2017, and was in Rolling Stone’s 20 Best Pop Albums of 2017.

 

The award for Best Pop Vocal Album went to Ariana Grande. Despite it being her first ever Grammy win, Grande did not attend the awards ceremony. Prior to the ceremony, Grande had taken to social media to voice her concerns and frustrations about her pending Grammys performance. She had made statements referencing some disagreements with producers over her set list. Grande had an emotional year in 2018, losing her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to a drug overdose, and shortly after, breaking up with fiancé Pete Davidson. Here’s hoping 2019 brings her peace and further success.

 

Winning posthumously for Best Rock Performance was Chris Cornell for the song When Bad Does Good. This award was announced at the pre-show telecast, and was accepted by Cornell’s two children, daughter Toni, 14, and son Christopher, 13. The two gave a beautiful speech honoring their late father. Cornell died May 27, 2017 due to suicide. Chris Cornell was an amazing musician and vocalist, and his music will forever be part of my life.

 

Canadian superstar Drake won Best Rap Song for his hit God’s Plan. Drake accepted his award with a controversial speech that ended up getting cut off. Drake told his fans, along with everyone else listening, that it is not just the awards that make someone a success, but the people singing your songs and buying your concert tickets. I might not personally be a fan of Drake’s, but I thought his message was bang-on.

 

Finally, the award for Best Rap Album went to Cardi B, for her upcoming album release Invasion of Privacy. While Rap music isn’t my favorite genre, Cardi B is definitely one of my favorite celebrities. She is loud and outspoken, but she is also a very real person. She may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to love her honesty and humility.

 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy listening!

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The adaptation of books to a movie or television format is tricky. On the one hand, there is an expectation that the movie should and will follow the original source material closely. On the other hand, a visual medium is a very different animal than print, and for a variety of reasons, it’s impossible to literally adapt a book word-for-word to film or television.

 

One of the biggest challenges of course is time. While there are no set limitations for the length of a book, there absolutely are for screenplays. The average movie runs two hours or less, and a 400+ page book isn’t going to fit in its entirety.  Movies force a streamlining that often results in sub-plots and minor characters being cut.

 

Another challenge of books-to-movies is finding a way to capture the interior monologue of a character, particularly when the story is told from that person’s point of view. Limited voice-over narration is great, but nobody wants to watch two hours of narration. That’s called an audio book- not a movie. This was a particular challenge for the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Under the Dome, which had a lot of characters who spent a lot of time thinking. In the end, some characters were combined or left out, action was stretched out over months and not weeks, and the writers had to find ways to transform thoughts into something more visual.

 

Ready Player One took eight years to make it to the screenThe novel primarily takes place in a virtual reality world, and contains numerous pop cultural references to movies and video games (including to director Steven Spielberg’s own films) which had to be cut. Then there was the added difficulty of finding a way to faithfully recreate the book’s numerous locations. Trying to build sets for all of them would have astronomically expensive, but thanks to computer generated backgrounds and motion capture technology, they made it work. 

 

The 2018 Rom-Com Crazy Rich Asians is an example of a film that managed to stay loyal to the text, but author Kevin Kwan admits that the books delve much deeper into the world of the movie and the characters. There were also a few character changes, pared down plot points, and some added scenes that weren’t in the book, but all were done with Kwan’s approval.

 

Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto had a much longer path to the big screen (16 years), but the recent adaptation starring Julianne Moore stays pretty true to the book and has the benefit of an all-star cast and enduring source material.

 

I have a love/hate relationship with adaptations.  An adaptation can either be great (ie Harry Potter), or awful (such as the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower). Adapting a book for screen is no easy feat, but if the changes are so drastic that it has nothing in common with the book except for the name, it’s disappointing for both the writer and fans of the novel.

 

Then there’s the question of whether to read the book before or after seeing the movie. If I read the book first, I go into the movie with complete familiarity with the story and my own vision of what the character should look like. If the casting is too far off (as many felt was the case with Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher) or if the story veers too far from the source material, it’s difficult for me to enjoy the film as its own medium.

 

Seeing the movie before I read the book allows me to enjoy the movie as a movie, but once I’ve seen the movie, I’m reading the book with the movie in mind, and I'm constantly comparing the two. At the same time, seeing a movie adaptation first can inspire me to read the book, and in that case, I've been introduced to a great book I might never have read otherwise. 

 

Once in a very rare while, a movie adaptation is considered to be equal to or better than the books. Many people view the movie version of The Princess Bride as being as good as or better than the book, despite being different from the book. William Goldman was an accomplished screenwriter and adapted his own work for the screen which helps, but it’s a perfect example of both formats being enjoyed and appreciated on their own merits.

 

I also much prefer the Swedish film version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to the book. I felt that the movie did a great job of paring the story down to the most important elements and had better pacing then the book. The novel is nearly 500 pages long, and it definitely could have been similary streamlined. 

 

This coming year, we can look forward to adaptions of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, A.J. Finn’s Woman in the Window and more, and I know I will be watching every single one of them with a critical eye and comparing them to the book.  

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy reading!

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The winners of Golden Globes have long been considered foreshadowing for potential winners of the Academy Awards. But, it is important to remember that the Golden Globes offer a lot more variety when it comes to categories, and also includes TV. And this past Sunday, they were handed out.

 

One of the major differences between the Globes and the Oscars is the split the Globes give between Drama and Comedy/Musical films. And while there has been no shortage of controversy over what qualifies as a comedy over the years, the split provides twice the opportunities for deserving films (and some undeserving *cough*Mary Poppins Returns*cough*) to be recognized.

 

This year’s winner for Best Drama was Bohemian Rhapsody, (Blu-ray/DVD) shocking for two reasons. First, because it a largely musical movie – tracking the career of Freddie Mercury. And second because it beat A Star Is Born (Blu-ray/DVD), which was expected to win (and is also a largely musical movie that was put into the Drama category and did win Best Original Song). Rhapsody has had a tumultuous history, from its original star Sacha Baron Cohen being dropped in favour of Rami Malek (who also won Best Actor in a Drama for his role), to losing its original director half way through filming, to general on-going controversies regarding the accuracy of the film. Still, despite all of this, audiences have loved it and apparently so did the Hollywood Foreign Press.

 

Best Comedy/Musical went to the biographical film Green Book (Blu-ray/DVD), starring Viggo Mortensen and winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy/Musical Mahershala Ali.  This film, which is set in the American Deep South in the 1960s, also won Best Screenplay. These are just the latest in a series of prestigious wins, including the People’s Choice Award at last year’s TIFF, where it premiered. Expect Green Book and its examination of racism in America to feature heavily at next month’s Academy Awards.

 

Best Animated Film went to the completely amazing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Blu-ray/DVD). You might ask yourself, does the world need another Spider-man movie? The answer is yes, this one. This is the Spider-man movie the world has been waiting for. Using a variety of different animation techniques and styles, this film (from the makers of the Lego Movie) seamlessly blends heart and full body laughs into a spectacular film that will amaze the entire family. Also, Chris Pine sings a Spider-man Christmas song, so that alone is worth the price.

 

British actor Olivia Colman took home the Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite (Blu-ray/DVD), easily this year’s strangest and  driest comedy. While not exactly or intended to be historically accurate, the tale of court intrigue in early 1700s England, the film is director Yorgos Lanthimos’ most accessible film (though if you haven’t seen his English language debut The Lobster, please stop what you are doing and watch it now. It is a special kind of brilliant).

 

Best Director and Best Foreign Language film went to Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma (Blu-ray/DVD). The director of Gravity and Children of Men is a front-runner for the Oscars, and Roma stands a good chance of being the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. The semi-autobiographical film depicts Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico City in the 1970s. The film, which was also shot in black and white, is one of the year’s best reviewed films, and was runner up at TIFF for the People’s choice Award – losing to Green Book, so some friendly rivalry being built up there.

 

Canadian Sandra Oh won Best Actress in a TV Drama for her stellar performance in season one of Killing Eve (Blu-ray/DVD), based on the Codename Villanelle novellas by Luke Jennings. If you haven’t seen the series, a playful reconstruction of the British Crime genre, you have time before season two airs later this year. Oh plays an American analyst working for British Intelligence, hunting down a mysterious assassin who has become obsessed with her investigator. Starkly violent, surprising at every turn and shockingly funny, Oh absolutely deserved her win. Hopefully season two lives up to the first.

 

Best Dramatic TV series went to the final season of the cold war spy series The Americans. The win is the first time in seven years that a series has won the top prize without also giving a trophy to at least one of its stars. The slow burn series - of Russian sleeper agents living in 1980s America - was a critical darling throughout its run on FX (Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4, and Season 5).

 

Will any of these winners replicate victory at the Oscars in February, or will a dark horse come from behind (looking at you, If Beale Street Could Talk)? In any case, some really impressive performances this season. And a lot of titles that will be gaining interest over the next little while.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy watching!

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According to Wikipedia, there are over thirty holidays, observances, and traditions celebrated world wide in the month of December. Some as ancient as Shabe Yaldā and some as new as Festivus. Most of them celebrating, in some manner, the shortest day of the year, and the turn away from the Bleak Midwinter. One holiday in particular nearly lapsed into obscurity until, a century and a half ago, it was rescued by some ghosts.

 

Last year saw the release of the film the Man Who Invented Christmas, telling the story of Charles Dickens and the mutual life support his A Christmas Carol gave to both himself and a fledgling celebration that had long since been dwarfed by Boxing Day. By the beginning of the 1800s, Christmas had already had a turbulent history. The Romans had celebrated Saturnalia at this time, but didn’t have to contend with snow. As they expanded into Northern Europe, they encountered the Germanic Yule, and other “pagan” celebrations happening at the same time, and merged those traditions with their own.

 

Time, as it likes to do, moved on, and Christmas largely remained an excuse to drink and be merry, with emphasis on the drinking. The rowdier elements of the pagan traditions did not sit well with the English Puritans, and Christmas was banned in England by Oliver Cromwell in 1645. It was restored along with the monarchy a few years later, but the wind was taken out of its sails, and for the next two hundred years the celebration in the UK was a much more subdued, private affair. No decorations, no presents, no carols or fanfare.  Just a goose, if you were lucky.

 

In 1819, Washington Irving (of Sleepy Hollow fame) wrote an account of Christmas celebrations, which were almost certainly fabricated. Irving was a notorious liar, who is also responsible for the myth that people before Columbus thought the Earth was flat. But Irving’s idea of a seasonal gathering which brought together people of all status, to celebrate a new year and enjoy the customs of the ancients caught the imagination.

 

In 1823, Clement Moore published The Night Before Christmas in New York (with its long Germanic and Dutch heritage, as well as healthy immigrant population), fully bringing the Germanic and Nordic traditions of St. Nicholas into the Christmas story. A few years later, back in the UK, a young Queen Victoria married the German Prince Albert and with him came more of the German traditions, still heavily influenced by the ancient pagan practices. Mistletoe, Holly wreaths, candles and carols came to England with the Prince. In 1841, a tree was decorated in Windsor Castle for the first time, illustrations of which made their way across England and over the ocean, cementing the Christmas tree as the centerpiece of the holiday home.

 

For more on the history of Christmas, and how it evolved over the centuries, check out the gorgeously photographed Christmas: from solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate.

 

Then came the ghosts. The Victorians were no strangers to ghost stories; they permeated much of their literature. As the Victorian age marched on and the Scientific Revolution began to take hold, spiritualism spiked. Charles Dickens wasn’t a spiritualist, but he did think of ghosts often. Not as the white sheeted frights of horror, but as the memories of those who have passed, especially in the last year (this being the Victorian era, and death common and indiscriminant). It was his belief that there was no better time of the year to consider the lessons ghosts might teach us then in the deep of the winter, when the trees were bare and the air cold, and candles danced shadows through long nights.

 

Having suffered a series of commercial failures, Dickens was desperate for a hit. But Christmas was a long shot at best. A holiday people barely made mention of was hardly the foundation for a best seller. His publishers were nervous, but Dickens had his ghosts to guide him, and wrote his Christmas Carol not based on any religious practice but on a common human decency. That Christmas was a time for families to come together, to celebrate and rejoice in their company, and toast the year to come. Most of this was – again – largely fictional. It made for a good story but shared little in common with a reader’s actual experience.

 

It struck a chord though. Upon publication, it was an instant hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Readers saw in Dicken’s morality tale not what they had, but what they wanted and could have. Christmas as an idea exploded across the British Empire, heralded by ghostly warnings and promises. Ghosts never really took off as a Christmas staple – they lost their moral compass and became spooks over on Halloween. Thanks to Dickens though, they’ve never really left Christmas either. Each year more writers are inspired to tell their own paranormal tales - such as in the short story colletion Ghosts of Christmas Past, including the works of Neil Gaiman - usually featuring spirits seeking to put right what once went wrong.

 

This year we’ve put together two lists (40777 for fiction and 40653 for everything else) of recent and popular material the celebrate the holiday season. With more than thirty to choose from, there is surely something for everyone in the coming month. And if you’d rather skip them all, there are still roaring fires, hot cocoa, and thoughts of tropical beaches you’d rather be on to keep you warm. Whatever and however you celebrate being halfway out of the dark, if you happen to meet any ghosts along the way, mind what they tell you. They might be friendlier than they look.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. We also encourage you to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Yours, Fictionally

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