“Dear Sir. I venture to submit to your notice the accompanying tale ‘The actor’s duel’. I once before trespassed upon your valuable time by sending up a sketch which did not come up to your standard – I trust that this may meet with a better fate. However defective the working out maybe I am conscious that the denouement is both original and powerful, worthy, I hope, of the traditions of your magazine.”
The above excerpt is taken from a letter written by Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The British writer would have turned 160 years old this past week (May 22). On Wednesday, The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh shared a picture of the letter on their Twitter account while appropriately hashtagging #SherlockHolmesday. Doyles’ words are indicative of a crucial period in the life of all creatives—a time when one is starving for success.
137 years ago, before knighthood, Arthur Conan Doyle found himself at the ripe age of twenty-two, (tactfully) pleading for publication. Like all young writers, Doyle was equipped only with a vague understanding of what he wanted to say to the world—it was just a matter of finding the right words. Regardless, his letter conveys obvious confidence in his ability to wow.
The “original” and “powerful” denouement Doyle refers to is the climax of his short story—after having stopped the abduction of his sister, a young actor (who had just won the role of Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet) finds out that one of the kidnappers is a colleague of his, a fellow actor playing Hamlet in the same play. In their next performance, the two use real swords in a duel, which grants the production a realness that the audience uproariously applauds. The crowd is unaware the two are actually fighting to the death. The duel plays out in a very art-imitating-life/Aronofsky-Black-Swan-esque way that makes the reader question the integrity of artistic perception.
According to an article on edinburghlive‘s website, Doyle asked Blackwood’s Magazine to consider his short story, then entitled “The Actor’s Duel.” At the beginning of the letter, Doyle reveals the publication had previously rejected another one of his short stories, “The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe.” Despite his best efforts, Blackwood’s turned Doyle down again (idiots); however, “The Actor’s Duel” was eventually published two years later as “The Tragedians” in Bow Bells Magazine.
In 1887, A Study in Scarlett was published—the first of many stories concerning the adventures of detective Holmes and Dr. Watson. In addition to tales surrounding the famous detective, Doyle also wrote many science fiction and historical and novels, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction, yadda, and yadda. The writer was prolific and will go down in history as the man who made Benedict Cumberbatch what he is today… whatever that is, exactly.
Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing until she was forty-three, and she wasn’t published until sixty-five—two full decades later. Harry Bernstein didn’t get published until he was ninety-six. Susan Boyle didn’t “dream the dream” until she was forty-seven, and Colonel Harland Sanders didn’t franchise his fried chicken business until well past forty. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s successes may not have come as late in life as those of the other icons mentioned, but this letter is an important reminder: (Yoda voice) the greatest teacher, failure is.
What do a thriller about a perfect family, a high school rom-com critiquing sexism, and a criminally delicious cookbook have in common? Hopefully, one major thing: they’re all headed straight for your bookshelf. Summer is a time of excitement, adventure, and discovery—whether or not you have the luxury of a three-month break or a long weekend at the beach! Missing out on a good book would be criminal… though not more criminal than some of our protagonists! We’ve got a creepy thriller starring one controlling mother’s descent into mental instability, an LGBT+ romance filled with alternate identities and elaborate pranks, and a killer cookbook based on the recipes of one of cinema’s most famous crime families. These enormous stakes come with just as enormous rewards—the delicious payoff of reading this week’s selection.
Check out Bookstr’s Three to Read, the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!
OUR HOT PICK
From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…
Kaira Rouda, acclaimed author of Best Day Ever, has delivered again: Kirkus Reviews calls her protagonist “impossible to love but equally impossible to look away from,” a car crash of a human being whose keen insight into human behavior is punctuated by dark humor. A PopSugar Best Book of Spring and one of Oprah’s Buzziest Books for May, The Favorite Daughteris a truly outstanding psychological thriller, subverting the notion of a perfect family with complex character development. Everyone loves a protagonist whose character arc, if drawn out, looks so much like the slippery slope they ultimately find themselves at the bottom of. Rouda’s mastery of prose will entice readers to sympathize with Jane and her increasing distance from her family—before horrifying us with a selfishness and sick desire for control we’ll be startled (and delighted!) to have initially missed. Publisher’s Weekly‘s starred review says that “suspense fans will be amply rewarded,” that is, rewarded AND chilled to the bone. If it feels impossible to look away from this book once you’ve finished, check out Bookstr’s exclusive live interview with Kaira Rouda herself!
OUR Coffee Shop Read
A fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist plan to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.
Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?
Award-winning author Erin Gough’s Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a funny, smart, and all-too-timely story of girls fighting back against power and privilege–and finding love while they’re at it.
When we imagine a high school romance, we envision that all-encompassing bubble of first love, impervious to the sharp edges of the world outside that one other person. But sometimes, those edges are pretty sharp. Gough juxtaposes a confrontational depiction of sexism with a fun opposites-attract romance for some light reading that packs a heavy punch. Kirkus Reviews lauds the novel’s “skewering of sexism and institutional hypocrisy,” and the novel touches on issues of race, class, and ethics in a manner far more nuanced than most high-school romance novels… because most of these books never address such topics. Shortlisted for nearly a dozen respected Australian book awards, Amelia Westlake Was Never HereIS now here in the United States—and, yes, it’s unapologetically queer. With Pride Month coming up, a hilariously witty LGBT+ high school romance with thoughtful societal commentary is a read that’s just as fun as it is socially relevant. (That’s both extremely fun and extremely relevant.)
OUR DARK HORSE
Become part of the family and make recipes no one can refuse with the official Godfather cookbook!
The Godfather trilogy is widely recognized as one of the greatest movie series of all time. Now, you’ll finally be able to make your very own family–inspired meals with recipes for Mama Corleone’s famous pastas, sauces, meatballs, breads, and desserts. Immerse yourself in the classic story of the Italian immigrant family determined to keep their long-held traditions intact in the new world. Featuring 75 authentic Italian recipes for infamous dishes such as “the best in the city” veal Marsala, Clemenza’s Sunday sauce, and of course, “Leave the gun” cannoli.
Elevating the strong themes of loyalty, family, and tradition, The Godfather: Mama Corleone’s Family Cookbook sheds new light on the legendary trilogy. Including images and quotes from the films, this in-world cookbook is an absolute must-have for all fans of The Godfather – especially those with a taste for the finer foods in life.
Want to be a killer chef? Honor one of the greatest film trilogies of all time with The Godfather: The Corleone Family Cookbook. And the recipes are as excellent as the cinematic marvels—though cookbooks aren’t generally Bookstr’s territory, this one is delicious enough for us to make an exception. The criminally well-curated cookbook includes quotes from the Corleone family and copious references to the film (“this pasta shape is… hearty and thick, thick enough to strange a priest apparently”). Even if you somehow aren’t a fan of this iconic trilogy—which is a crime in and of itself—the recipes describe the historical context of the meal and offer humorous tips outside of your typical step-by-step cookbooks. Are these phenomenal Italian recipes to die for, perhaps? Well, you should be dying to get your hands on this book. And if you cook any of these meals, it’s a guarantee you’ll be dying to eat them.
The next Batman is Robert Pattinson. Or, at least, he’s at the top of Warner Bros.’ shortlist to fill the role. Whether this is good news, bad news, or even terrible news for Batman or Twilight fans, this is a lot to take in. And it feels like the Batfleck casting all over again (which, by the way, I supported).
Variety reported the shocking news just last night. Sources say that the casting is not yet a done deal, but negotiations are currently taking place.
Image via Hindustan Times
Pattinson is expected to play a younger Batman in DC’s cinematic universe, and, if cast, he will feature in the prequel-solo film that Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes) is writing and directing.
While Pattinson may never completely leave behind his Twilight fame and notoriety, he admittedly has gone from vampire heartthrob to arthouse star, delivering acclaimed performances in High Life, The Lost City of Z, and Good Time. The actor—who was, of course, a decade younger and less experienced in his Twilight days—will also have a role in Christopher Nolan’s next feature, which will arrive in 2020.
Image via IMDb
Utilizing Pattinson’s onscreen romance experience wouldn’t be unwelcome either, actually. Given that the upcoming film will bring us back to the caped crusader’s early days, an adaptation of the most underrated Batman story of all time, Mask of the Phantasm, would be a great opportunity to showcase the Batman’s most genuine romance with young love interest Andrea Beaumont while also establishing his origin in the DCEU.
Image via Polygon
In fact, this would be one of the only acceptable routes for the production to take––especially since Ben Affleck will no longer be delivering a solo film with the epic, aged, and legendary Batman that won fans over. If Pattinson can deliver a follow-up performance that stuns as much as Affleck’s, then the DCEU is in good hands.
The Nancy Drew franchise has been around for a long time and is beloved by many. Several adaptation of the franchise have been produced, and another is on its way courtesy of The CW.
Debuting in the fall as part of the new 2019-2020 television season, the new Nancy Drew series will take a more modern approach to the source material. The title character will be depicted as a waitress and high-school graduate who gets sucked into a murder mystery and recruits her friends to help solve the case. Newcomer Kennedy McMann stars as Nancy.
The series will air on Wednesdays after Riverdale. Stylistically, the two shows due share a lot of similarities: Both are dark, youth-oriented reboots of classic children’s characters, which should fit right in amongst the other CW shows.
EW just shared a new promotional image for the upcoming Batwoman CW series premiering in the fall.
The new behind-the-scenes look should excite any fellow comic nerds out there, especially since the displayed Batman suit is a huge step up from the one featured in Gotham…
We see Ruby Rose returning as Kate Kane/Batwoman after debuting in last year’s CW Arrowverse crossover. Alongside her is Luke Fox, the son of fan favorite Lucius Fox.
Image via CBR
It was revealed that The Batman has been missing for three years, and Gotham has gone to hell as a result of absent oversight. Batwoman was easily the most memorable part of the most recent crossover and already proved to be a master crime-fighter. From the looks of the promo image, she’ll be receiving a notable upgrade from the Batman’s arsenal and his most trusted tech consultants––or it’s a flashback to her superhero origin, which would still be exciting to watch. Either way, there’s going to be a lot to look forward to.
Image via CBR
The full synopsis for Batwoman reads:
Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) never planned to be Gotham’s new vigilante. Three years after Batman mysteriously disappeared, Gotham is a city in despair. Without the Caped Crusader, the Gotham City Police Department was overrun and outgunned by criminal gangs. Enter Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) and his military-grade Crows Private Security, which now protects the city with omnipresent firepower and militia. Years before, Jacob’s first wife and daughter were killed in the crossfire of Gotham crime. He sent his only surviving daughter, Kate Kane, away from Gotham for her safety. After a dishonorable discharge from military school and years of brutal survival training, Kate returns home when the Alice in Wonderland gang targets her father and his security firm, by kidnapping his best Crow officer Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy).
Although remarried to wealthy socialite Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis), who bankrolls the Crows, Jacob is still struggling with the family he lost, while keeping Kate –– the daughter he still has –– at a distance. But Kate is a woman who’s done asking for permission. In order to help her family and her city, she’ll have to become the one thing her father loathes –– a dark knight vigilante. With the help of her compassionate stepsister, Mary (Nicole Kang), and the crafty Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), the son of Wayne Enterprises’ tech guru Lucius Fox, Kate Kane continues the legacy of her missing cousin, Bruce Wayne, as Batwoman. Still holding a flame for her ex-girlfriend, Sophie, Kate uses everything in her power to combat the dark machinations of the psychotic Alice (Rachel Skarsten), who’s always somewhere slipping between sane and insane. Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior, she must first overcome her own demons before embracing the call to be Gotham’s symbol of hope.
Something worth noting is that the series will be in some uncharted territory. Not many Batwoman comics have dealt with Kate Kane leading the initiative to fix Gotham in Batman’s absence, let alone the entire Bat-family’s absence, so we’re likely to see very fresh material.
It’s always interesting to see a Gotham City story where The Batman takes a back seat. It’s even better when it’s done well. This is undoubtedly going to be one of those stories.