Regency era romance series “Bridgerton” based on Julia Quinn novels premieres today on Netflix

From Shondaland and Creator Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton follows Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family as she makes her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market. Hoping to follow in her parent’s footsteps and find a match sparked by true love, Daphne’s prospects initially seem to be unrivaled. But as her older brother begins to rule out her potential suitors, the high society scandal sheet written by the mysterious Lady Whistledown casts aspersions on Daphne. Enter the highly desirable and rebellious Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), committed bachelor and the catch of the season for the debutantes’ mamas. Despite proclaiming that they want nothing the other has to offer, their attraction is undeniable and sparks fly as they find themselves engaged in an increasing battle of wits while navigating society’s expectations for their future.

Bridgerton is a romantic, scandalous, and quick-witted series that celebrates the timelessness of enduring friendships, families finding their way, and the search for a love that conquers all.

This is the first project among many of writer-producer Chris Van Dusen with streaming service Netflix. Together with Shonda Rimes and Betsy Beers through Shondaland, Van Dusen adapted, show-ran and executive produced the series.

This smart feminist take on Regency England romance unveils the glittering, wealthy, sexual, painful, funny and sometimes lonely lives of the women and men in London’s high society marriage mart as told through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family.

“I couldn’t be more excited about being a part of the creative powerhouse that is Shondaland at Netflix,” said Van Dusen. “Bringing these irresistible books by Julia Quinn to the screen, with the fearless and talented team of storytellers I’ve been so fortunate to have worked alongside for so long, is a dream come true. I am grateful to have a home at Netflix, whose commitment to innovative, groundbreaking storytelling is unmatched.”

The series also stars Golda Rosheuvel, Jonathan Bailey, Luke Newton, Claudia Jessie, Nicola Coughlan, Ruby Barker, Sabrina Bartlett, Ruth Gemmell, Adjoa Andoh, Polly Walker, Ben Miller, Bessie Carter and Harriet Cains and Julie Andrews as the voice of Lady Whistledown.

Bridgerton premieres today on Netflix.

Want to lose yourself in the Regency world of the Bridgertons? Check out the best-selling novels by Julia Quinn that inspired the series.

Image and series details courtesy of Netflix.

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Check out my blog posts about other Netflix shows.

The Jelly List: Book adaptations to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Adapting books to the screen has always been very challenging. Video is a vastly different medium from books, wherein the directive is to “show, not tell.” Scenes and internal dialogues painstakingly detailed in novels will be hard to interpret on the screen. Also, some novels, even though widely successful, might not have enough of a following to justify the expense in producing and marketing a feature film or a series on network television.

Fortunately, the massive popularity of over-the-top (OTT) services gave rise to book adaptations specifically for online and on-demand video streaming. Freed from the constraints of content and length for film and scheduling constraints of network TV, and taking advantage of the data gained through subscriptions and online transactions, multi-episode series covering increasingly edgy and conplex topics are being produced. These result to more freedom in storytelling and to more expansive and lived-in worlds for book lovers to reaquaint themselves with and for non-readers of the books to discover and grow to love.

Amazon Prime Video, the video-on-demand service operated by online retailer Amazon.com, has joined the fray in producing book adaptations that are sure to capture new audiences as well as further endear the works to their existing fans. Novels being adapted into Amazon Original Series include:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet

Two of fantasy literature’s rock stars – Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett – collaborated on Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. The novel was a hilarious ride through the adventures of an angel and a demon who became friends and their efforts to stop Armageddon as heralded by the birth of an unwitting AntiChrist.

Its adaptation stars Michael Sheen as Aziraphale the Angel and David Tennant as Crowley the Demon. The miniseries premiered on May 31, 2019 and has received rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes owing to Sheen and Tennant’s “very nearly holy (or maybe unholy?) chemistry.” Despite a petition – erroneously addressed to Netflix at that – to cancel the series, the production has received a slew of nominations in the Saturn Awards and the Primetime Emmys.

Jack Ryan based on the Jack Ryan Novels by Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character has had quite a good run in cinemas with winning portrayals from some of Hollywood’s top actors: from Alec Baldwin in Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears, and Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

John Krasinski now portrays Jack Ryan in the Amazon series as a former Marine and financial analyst wrenched from the security of his desk job after discovering a string of dubious bank transfers and sets about matching his wits against rising a extremist named Suleiman. The series premiered on August 31, 2018 and has already been renewed for its second and third seasons.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle depicts an alternate reality wherein the Axis powers win World War II. Here, the United States was divided among Japan and Germany as the spoils of war: the Greater Nazi Reich in the East and the Japanese Pacific States to the West. Set in 1962, several years after the war, characters are tantalized by the writings of “the man in the high castle,” which hint at the truth that the Axis actually lost the war.

The series incorporates fantastical elements such as having “multiple Earths,” as can be seen in films collected by the titular “man in the high castle,” a mysterious leader of the resistance. The show’s pilot has been said to be “Amazon’s most watched” and has gained praise on Rotten Tomatoes as “unlike anything else on TV, with an immediately engrossing plot driven by fully developed characters in a fully-realized post-WWII dystopia.” The series premiered on November 20, 2015 with three seasons already released. It has also already been renewed for its fourth and final season.

Really, it’s a great time to be alive for book lovers who want to see their favorite tomes come alive on-screen.

What book do you want to see adapted to a series? Let me know in the comments.

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Pride Lit comes out as the first LGBTQ+ “Pop Lit” Imprint in the Philippines

As the first Filipino pop literature imprint focused on championing LGBTQ+ narratives, Pride Lit stands proud as a great source of entertainment and inspiration to readers of all kinds.

But more than teaching us the value of appreciation and acceptance, the brand has been very consistent in creating a safe space for underrepresented voices to flourish and share their stories, whether it’s about finding love in many forms and shapes or discovering one’s sexual awakening with fleeting moments of kilig.

Pride Lit Launch

Now celebrating its third year in the publishing industry, Pride Lit is taking a huge leap by releasing five unique titles from its roster of seasoned and respected writers and contributors. From Alex Rosas’ gender-swap romance Gay’s Anatomy to Soju’s campy fantasy Ang Asul Na Buntot Ni Aquano, the new releases represent diverse genres that speak of uniquely queer experiences and imaginative premises. Other upcoming titles that will be released this month include John Jack G. Wigley’s ensemble drama Kadenang Bahaghari, Lush Ericson’s instant pleaser Agustin and Ariston’s Version of the Universe, and Angelica Sorreda’s romantic offering Over Time.

Pride Lit Launch

Pride Lit Launch

 “Each book actually talks about different emotions, experiences and were written differently,” Pride Lit Brand Manager Aiko Clarizza Buduan-Salazar points out. “The upcoming new titles will open readers’ minds on the fresh possibilities of storytelling.” True to its vision, Pride Lit steps up its game by ensuring LGBTQ+ characters and its allies could be prominent figures in pop culture narratives, and serve as inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community whose vibrant lives are worth telling, and are now everyone’s stories. “We plan to release more books and become a staple in the community,” Salazar said. “Aside from providing feel good stories and erotic stories too, we plan to become more reachable to our target market and community.”

Details and images provided by Pride Lit in a recent press release.

Thanks to Jowell of FlingerosPH.com for attending the launch event on my behalf!

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen: A rediscovery of sisterhood and magic

Two sisters grappling about their magical heritage, seeking acceptance from the other inhabitants of their small town. After years apart, they reunite, discover and appreciate their true selves while coming to terms with their past and win true love in the process.

In Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel Garden Spells, magical realism, heartwarming romance and small-town sensibility combine to bring to life the warm and engaging story of sisters Claire and Sidney Waverly. Brought back to their ancestral house in Bascom, North Carolina by their mother after a life on the road, they grew up feeling isolated from their neighbors.

Claire, the older and “plainer” sister, took comfort in her magical talent with plants and cooking and builds a successful career as a caterer.

  • Sidney, on the other hand was seemingly blessed with beauty but without magical talent. She ran away and lived a life on the road until she returns with her daughter trying to escape an abusive relationship.
  • Together with their elderly cousin, Evanelle, their love interests, their supportive neighbors, their town rivals, and with the help of the enchanted apple tree that their family has been tending for centuries, the sisters discover their innate powers and their place in their small town.

    The book’s style and structure bear similarities to other works in women’s literature that feature magical realism. With Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, it shares the plot element of two very different sisters reuniting and finding love in their small town after years apart. Like Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, on the other hand, it features the effects of food on people susceptible to magical ingredients.

    I picked up this book during a booksale two years ago and only found time to read it when I brought it with me on a trip. I find the book’s humor and homey feel very endearing, and its lesson on self-acceptance quite relevant. This book is a great for a bit of light and easy reading.

    I look forward to reading Addison’s recently released sequel titled First Frost set a few years after Garden Spells. In this novel, the Waverly girls have grown into their magical abilities while facing their daily struggles. One day, an unexpected stranger appears in their little town with a sinister intent.

    Other works by Sarah Addison Allen include:

    Lost Lake. Sometimes you find the things you’ve lost in the most unexpected places. But sometimes you find them exactly where you left them. Welcome to magical Lost Lake, Georgia.

    The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Emily Benedict is about to find out if wallpaper can change pattern on its own, if a cake can bring back a lost love, and if there really is a ghost dancing in her back yard.

    The Sugar Queen. Imagine a world where the color red has startling powers and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. Welcome to snowy Bald Slope, North Carolina. There’s magic behind every closet door.

    The Peach Keeper. Welcome to Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

    Waking Kate. Over a cup of butter coffee, Kate’s neighbor tells her a story of love and heartbreak that makes her remember her past, question her present, and wonder what the future will bring.

    The Firefly Dance. Addison anchors this anthology with her funny novella about Louise, a North Carolina girl whose keen observations of the lives around her weaves an unforgettable spell with just a hint of everyday magic.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

    Book details taken from Sarah Addison Allen’s website and Amazon.com.

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    Francine Rivers’ Lineage of Grace: five novellas of women-centered Biblical stories

    The Bible is littered with the stories of men: pioneering patriarchs, brave warriors, noble kings, visionary prophets and more. These characters, with their virtues and flaws, have shaped Biblical history and provided anchors for the Christian faith.

    But what about the women?

    Most women in the Bible play supporting roles in the Bible narratives – as the wife, mother or sister of great men, the source of support or the catalyst for great acts.

    In Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity by Francine Rivers, however, Biblical women took active roles in shaping their destinies. In doing so, they also helped mold the story of God and His people.

    The book consists of five novellas which narrates the life and struggles of five women in the Bible.

    These are:

    Tamar, a woman of hope, who married into Judah’s family and was left a childless widow by two of his sons. She secures her future and place in his family through underhanded but ultimately justifiable means.

    Rahab, a woman of faith, who was forced into harlotry and espionage but saw her opportunity to turn her life around when Israelite spies sought refuge in her inn in Jericho.

    Ruth, a woman of love, who, though a Moabite woman, bravely accompanied her widowed mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel to forge a new life for themselves.

    Bathsheba, a woman who received unlimited grace, who had to contend with the consequences of spending a night in King David’s bed, managed to secure not just her legacy but the future of the kingdom.

    Mary, a woman of obedience, who, despite her youth and uncertainty, accepted the enormous task set upon her by God and thus, secured the salvation of mankind.

    The stories of these women are familiar, but are told in new perspectives and with fresh insights. Despite acting with or espousing Old World values, their characters and situations are still relatable.

    My favorite among the stories is that of Tamar. The biblical story is not that well-known and the two lead characters – Tamar and Judah – are not held in a good light based on the biblical narrative. However, by providing context to their thoughts and action – Tamar’s need to belong and Judah’s guilt over his betrayal of his brother Joseph – the characters are made sympathetic, redeemable and worth rooting for.

    Francine Rivers, the author of Lineage of Grace, is a renowned author of Christian Fiction. Her other works include:

    Redeeming Love. A retelling of the love story between the prostitute Gomer and the prophet Hosea set amidst the California Gold Rush.

    Sons of Encouragement. The stories of the lesser-known men behind the celebrated heroes of the Bible who served as guides and support, and quietly helped to shape the faith.

    The Mark of the Lion. A trilogy set in ancient Rome that explores the travails of Hadassah, a young Christian slave girl, and Marcus, the Roman aristocrat who falls in love with her.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

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    Photo credit: Sidny Ritters on Unsplash

    Romance Novel Review: Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros

    One of my guilty pleasures is reading romance novels, those set in the Regency era in particular.

    Regency romances are situated in the period of the British Regency, in which King George III was deem unfit to rule and his son, who would later accede the throne as King George IV, ruled as Prince Regent.

    Strict observances of manners and propriety, concerns about social classes, inherited estates and noble titles, and, sometimes, even social commentary serve as the backdrop for passionate love stories between plucky heroines and aloof heroes.

    One such story is Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros, the first novel of her Landing a Lord series.

    Burdened by her family’s reduced circumstances, Louisa Evans sought the help of Nicholas, the Marquess of Overlea, the head of the family that ruined hers. Worried that he may be suffering from an inherited illness that put the marquisate’s future in jeopardy, he proposed marriage to Louisa but intends to have another man father children by her to prevent the passing down of the mysterious disease. His plans were complicated by his growing feelings for her and outside threats that endanger their safety.

    This book proved to be enjoyable read, with a fast-paced plot and engaging characters, albeit with a few typos and grammatical errors. Actually, I finished it overnight. 🙂

    Louisa is a believable and relatable heroine, a practical woman given to taking care of others: her siblings in the wake of their father’s death and their family’s fall to penury, and Overlea after his ailment caused him to collapse near the Evans home. Her change from an impoverished gentry girl to an elegant marchioness is something I as a reader rooted for.

    Overlea, on the other hand, is a bit problematic for me. While the readers are told that he grew up as the spare to the heir and never expected to take the marquisate, his transformation from a laid-back young man prior to the deaths of his father and brother, to a responsible and compassionate landlord to his tenants was not given enough substance. Also, his reasons for his hare-brained idea to have another man father his heir, and his planned methods to bring this about were half-baked.

    Secondary characters that I would love to read more about in later additions to the series include Louisa’s siblings Catherine and John, and Overlea’s best friend, the Earl of Kerrick.

    Loving the Marquess is a good and easy book to read while relaxing on a weekend. The editing could be improved a bit, though.

    The Landing a Lord series is preceded by the novella Dancing with the Duke, in which Charlotte Grant sets out to capture the heart of her childhood crush and her best friend’s brother, the Duke of Clarington in her one and only London season. The Marquess of Overlea and the Earl of Kerrick made appearances in this story as Clarington’s friends.

    In second book in the series, Beguiling the Earl, Catherine Evans, whom we first met in Loving the Marquess, adjusts to the change in her circumstances after her sister’s marriage to Overlea. She has carried a tendre for the Earl of Kerrick ever since she met him and has harbored a wish to capture his heart during her London season. However, he is duty-bound to give his attentions to another woman.

    In the third book in the series, The Unaffected Earl, Rose Hardwicke fell from being the darling of the ton to being a social pariah due to a family scandal. She sought the help of Earl of Brantford to prove her father innocent of treason but she may have trouble breaking through his icy exterior.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

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    How moms can nurture a love for reading among kids

    With all content available in a myriad of forms and platforms, sometimes we parents wonder how we can instill a love of reading among our kids.

    Wishing to do so is not being out of touch with the times. Studies have shown that avid readers have certain advantages over their peers. Since reading is a more complex activity than watching video content on television or other gadgets, it helps to exercise their brains, improving concentration and imagination, as well as their vocabulary and language skills. A well-read child may have a better and more expansive understanding of the world around him and may be able to develop empathy for others.

    MomSchool 3.0, Mommy Mundo

    In a recent Mommy Mundo #MomSchool learning session “Raising Readers and Writers in the Digital Age,” mom and Keys School literacy coordinator Monica Lopez Javier shared some insights and tips on how parents can help foster a love of reading among their kids.

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    For Teacher Monica, talking to your kids starting from early childhood is very important.

    “Talk is the foundation of learning,” she shares. “Through language, meaning is built.”

    She encourages parents to develop oral language at home, to facilitate kids in communicating and interacting with them. Kids should learn how to tell stories to learn how to put the things and situations around them in perspective or context.

    Some tips she shared include:

    • Respect their think time. Younger children take time respond to your conversation prompts. Allow them the time to process the conversation and respond to you.
    • Establish rituals of conversation. Make time when you’re available to converse with your kids. Set up long talks with the kids when you can communicate with them at length.
    • Talk about complex topics. As kids grow older, allow them to process more complex ideas as they communicate with you. When letting them talk about their day, ask them what they learned or what they plan to do.
    • Don’t shy away from trouble stories. Don’t raise your kids in a bubble. For example, tell them about the bad day you’re having and how you cope with it. They will be able to express to you their similar emotions as well as model their response to challenging situations after yours.
    • Teach them to listen. Kids should be encouraged to respond thoughtfully. Help them understand that when they listen, even to opposing views, their ideas can grow.
    • Support their language development through reading. Kids’ vocabularies are better developed by reading. It also through reading that they encounter fresh concepts and ideas. Parents are encouraged to read aloud to younger kids so that children will develop a love for words and imagination that reading affords. For older children, parents are urged to discuss the books that the kids read; this will help them process what they learn from books and develop critical thinking.

    Parents may be worried that buying more and more books may be a strain on the budget. Teacher Monica advises looking for libraries in your area where you or your kids can borrow books.

    Growing up as a child of a reader, and becoming an avid reader myself, I can attest to the hours of enjoyment and the fun of discovery that I experienced since childhood. Being a reader has also informed my writing and my current work in marketing and in blogging.

    Novotel Manila Araneta Center

    MomSchool 3.0, Mommy Mundo

    I’m proud that I have helped to instill the same love for reading in my daughter.

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    This #MomSchool learning session held at the Ayala The 30th Activity Center was organized by Mommy Mundo, a community of moms dedicated to making motherhood easier, happier and more fulfilling for every mom through various avenues and activities.

    Want to be on your way to developing future avid readers? Below is a list of the books that Teacher Monica recommends for reading aloud to kids.

    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

    My World by Margaret Wise Brown

    The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

    The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

    Tom by Tomie dePaola

    Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

    The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola

    A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

    Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

    Freight Train by Donald Crews

    Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

    Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

    Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

    My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

    Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

    Stuart Little by E.B. White

    Matilda by Roald Dahl

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    Header photo by Kim Sergeev on Unsplash

    My own customized notebook: thanks to the IFEX Paper Bar

    For a paper addict like me, getting a notebook that just fits my purpose for it is like stumbling into a gold mine.

    In terms of aesthetics, I lean towards minimalism: I prefer plains instead of prints, or single color designs instead or multiples ones.

    Imagine my delight when I discovered that I can have notebooks made according to these specifications!

    Where is this possible you may ask?

    At your nearest IFEX Paper Bar!

    IFEX stands for International Fine Paper Exchange, a Filipino company which is primarily engaged in the marketing and distribution of specialty papers, premium paper for school and office supplies, as well as art materials.

    Its fine paper products came into play when I went to the Art Bar of the National Bookstore branch along Panay Avenue to have my customized notebooks made.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    IFEX Paper Bar

    I’ve just gotten a Starbucks travel organizer for this year and I’ve been worrying about what to do when I use up its notebook filler. I’ve been scouring bookstores looking appropriately sized notebooks but couldn’t find any.

    That is, until I realized I could just have them made!

    Getting your own customized notebooks at the Paper Bar is just so easy!

    Step 1: Choose a notebook size.

    Available sizes are: A4 (210 x 295 mm), A5 (148 x 210 mm) and A6 (105 x 148 mm).

    I chose the smallest size, A6, as this is the one that would best fit my travel organizer. I ordered two notebooks so that I have another spare.

    Step 2: Choose a notebook cover.

    IFEX has a wide range of card stocks of various colors that you can choose for your notebook cover.

    I opted for two shades green (one at Php12 and the other at Php15) as these go with the cover of my travel organizer.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 3: Choose your inserts.

    Depending on your purpose for your notebook, you can choose from among the high-quality paper inserts that IFEX carries. These include plain, ruled, dotted, grid, black, calligraphic, sketching and watercolor.

    I prefer my notebooks to not have lines (so I can draw diagrams or doodle if need be) so I opted for plain (Php65) and dotted (Php85) inserts.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 4: Choose your breakers (optional).

    If you will use a single notebook for multiple purposes, you can opt to insert breakers from the available cardstocks. This will help make your notebook more organized.

    Step 5: Choose your notebook spine.

    To bind your notebook, choose a spine that complements your notebook’s color scheme. The double-loop metallic spines available in black or silver make durable binders for your notebook.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 6: Personalize it (optional)!

    Your name or any text can be hot-stamped to your notebook cover for Php60. Choose from gold, silver, green, blue or embossed letters in either serif or san serif fonts. You can also pick the font size: from 16mm (up to 8 characters), 9mm (up to 14 characters) and 5.5mm (up to 16 characters).

    I opted to have my blog URL embossed on my notebooks in gold letters, consistent with the color theme of my travel organizer.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Total spent on the two notebooks is Php267 which amounts to Php133.50 for each of the A6-sized notebooks.

    Here’s an A5-sized notebook I had made months ago.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    For my next notebook orders, I might combine dotted, ruled and plain inserts with cardstock breaks in one thick book which can serve as a planner, sketchpad and notebook all in one.

    A customized notebook from the IFEX Paper Bar is a great buy or even a wonderful gift for paper addicts like me! (I even gifted one to a friend for her birthday.)

    IFEX Paper Bars are located inside National Bookstore branches in SM Megamall, Glorietta 1, Shangri-La Plaza Mall and in the Art Bar inside the National Bookstore branch along Panay Avenue in Quezon City.

    For more details about IFEX, visit its website at www.ifex.com.ph.

    Complete Seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale to premiere in PH on HBO Go on September 15

    In the Republic of Gilead, fertile women are conscripted to serve the new goverment’s high-ranking officials by bearing children for the infertile wives.  Called handmaids, they are identified by their red clothing, their slave names taken after the names of the commanders they are assigned to, and every month, the gruesome task of lying in between their commanders and their respective wives, hoping to get pregnant and thereby prove their worth to this new society.  Such is the world in The Handmaid’s Tale, a TV series based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning dystopian novel.

    The Handmaid's Tale S2

    The Handmaid's Tale S1

    The Handmaid's Tale S2

    Filipino fans of the book will be able to watch and download all episodes of the Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning hit drama series on HBO Go, HBO’s online streaming service exclusively available in the Philippines to SKYcable subscribers, starting September 15.

    Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”, “Top of the Lake”), Joseph Fiennes (“American Horror Story: Asylum”, “Shakespeare in Love”), and Yvonne Strahovski (“Chuck”, “Dexter”) headline the series’ all-star cast.  Emmy Award-winning actress Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”), Madeline Brewer (“Orange Is the New Black”), Amanda Brugel (“Workin’ Moms”), Emmy Award-winning actress Ann Dowd (“Compliance”, HBO’s “The Leftovers”), O-T Fagbenle (“The Five”), Max Minghella (“The Mindy Project”), and Samira Wiley (“Orange is the New Black”) also play supporting roles. THE HANDMAID’S TALE was created for television by Bruce Miller (“The 100”), who is also the showrunner. Season Two of the series was executive produced by Miller, Warren Littlefield (“Fargo”), Moss, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears. The series is produced by MGM Television and internationally distributed by MGM.

    The series’ second season was recently nominated for 20 Emmy® Awards, a series record.  It now becomes part of HBO Asia’s programming slate of Emmy® award-winning and nominated titles – bringing the best of Hollywood to Asia.

    Series details and images provided by HBO in a recent press release.

    Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

    Check out my other posts on HBO shows adapted from novels:

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    HBO Go not available in your area? Watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Amazon Prime.  Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

    You can also purchase the novel that the series is based on, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, at Amazon.com.

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    TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens” to be released in 2019

    The creatively twisted minds of two of Britain’s greatest modern fantasy writers produced Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (or more commonly known as just Good Omens). The fruit of a very successful collaboration between Neil Gaiman (“American Gods,” “The Graveyard Book,” and “Stardust“) and Sir Terry Prachett (“Discworld“) published in 1990, Good Omens is a quirky and entertaining novel that tells of the coming of the Apocalypse. The book is chock-full of humorous situations: from a witch’s super-accurate predictions of her execution, the birth and childhood of the AntiChrist in the English suburbs, the coming together of the Four Horsemen, and the mad antics of the legions of Heaven led by Aziraphale the Angel and Hell led by Crowley the Demon (both of whom happen to treat each other as friends) as they prepare for the endtimes.

    I first read the book in the late 90’s and I did think the story would translate well onscreen.

    A film adaptation was in fact planned in 2002 in which Robin Williams and Johnny Depp were set to star as Aziraphale and Crowley respectively but financing fell through.

    A radio dramatization was aired in BBC Radio 4 in 2015, wherein Gaiman and Pratchett had cameo appearances.

    Nearly two decades after first reading the book, I’m thrilled to find out that a TV adaptation is finally in the works, starring no less than Michael Sheen (“Underwold: Rise of the Lycans,” “Midnight in Paris“) as Aziraphale and David Tennant (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Broadchurch“) as Crowley.

    This TV series couldn’t have come at a better time, being the new Golden Age of Television, and judging from the recent success of the TV series based on another Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods.

    The 6-episode series will be released on Amazon Prime in 2019, followed by a conventional broadcast on BBC Two.

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    Take a sneak peek into the beginnings of your favorite influencers with LikeToKnow.It

    Ever wondered how your favorite IG mavens got their start? The print offshoot of the app-based shopping service that makes the Instagram pics of many Instagram influencers instantly shoppable, LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, delves into how these IG stars got their start.

    Photo by Daria Litvinova on Unsplash

    Collated and curated by editors of LikeToKnow.it, the stories contain interesting narratives of how these influencers were able to turn their passions – which range from fashion, beauty, food, interior design and homemaking – into thriving online businesses. Common themes among their stories that their fans can learn from are:

    Passion for their area of interest.  These enterprising folks are tuned in to their passion, building expertise and credibility in their respective fields, and are motivated to share their favorites to the world.

    Support from family and friends.  Building an online presence, especially on one’s own, is never easy, but with help and encouragement from their loved ones, they were able to pursue their dreams.

    Great financial and personal rewards.  Having built their following and established their expertise, they are able to enjoy financial freedom.  Some are earning enough to support their families that their spouses quit their jobs to help them with their online business.  Others share their feeling of gratification at being paid to do what they love while spending more time with loved ones.

    Photo by Igot Miske on Unsplash

    Featured influencers include fashion mavens Molly Sims (@mollybsims) and Courtney Kerr (@KERRently), lifestyle gurus Liz Joy (@purejoyhome) and Kelly Larkin (@kellyinthecity), food and nutrition bloggers July Bauer Roth (@paleomg) and Tori Wesszer (@fraichenutrition), among others.

    Photo by Chikeun Park on Unsplash

    The stories, accompanied by gorgeous shots of influencers doing and sharing what they love best, will give readers a tantalizing inspiration to get started on bringing their own dreams to life. Note, though, these Q&A-type narratives are by no means comprehensive and do skip most of the early struggles and sacrifices that most businesses go through.

    LikeToKnow.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door, published by Greenleaf Book Group, will be released on September 18, 2018 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com!

    Thanks to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group for the advanced reader copy.

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    Photo Credits: Ewan Robertson, Daria Litvinova, Igor Miske and Chikeun Park on Unsplash

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    Book gives tips on how to help kids appreciate healthy food

    With all the fast food, microwaveables and sugar-laden fare easily available in malls and grocery stores, kids these days might be missing out on both the nutrients and flavors that healthy food brings. Earlier generations benefited from home-cooked meals and the time devoted by homemakers to acquiring fresh ingredients but today’s busy lifestyle sees families turning more towards food that is more convenient than truly nutritious.

    In Taste Buds: The Magic and Fun of Sensible Food, author Nicolette Francey Asselin shares food-based wisdom gathered from her childhood memories and her medical practice. This booklet is the fourth installment in a series of health books released by Getwell.org. Among her notable pieces of advice are:

    Avoid using dessert as a reward. This implies that the meal already laid on the table is not the best.

    Keep meals simple. Time- and effort-intensive dishes for weekday meals are neither practical nor sustainable given today’s busy lifestyle.

    Involve the kids. Getting them to participate in meal preparation – such as chopping vegetables or fetching tools or ingredients – will help them develop an appreciation for the effort that goes into getting a good meal on the table.

    Asselin also included a few simple recipes of healthy dishes that she grew up with such as roasted vegetables, ratatouille, a basic vinaigrette for salads and muesli, among others, as well as instructions on how to pickle or ferment foodstuffs at home.

    This is a short book and I think she could have expounded more on some sections such as how to balance meat, poultry, seafood and produce in the weekly menu or how to enjoy healthy food outside the home through quick and easy meal preparation strategies.

    That said, this book can provide an adequate impetus to start cooking and eating healthier.

    Taste Buds: The Magic and Fun of Sensible Food, published by CorpWell Publishing, is available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.

    Thanks to NetGalley and CorpWell Publishing for the copy of the ebook provided in exchange for an honest review.

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    Want to start cooking fresh and healthy? There’s no need to leave home to shop for ingredients.  With Honestbee, just order your groceries online and you’ll get them delivered right at your doorstep at your preferred time. Use this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.  You can download the Honestbee app on iTunes or Google Play.

    If you’re in the US and an Amazon Prime member, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh to get your groceries delivered to you.

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    Country songstress Martina McBride shares recipes close to her heart in upcoming cookbook, Martina’s Kitchen Mix

    In her cookbook to be released this fall, Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life, country superstar Martina McBride shares her passion other than singing: cooking meals for her family and friends to enjoy.

    McBride’s recipes reveal her predilection for entertaining and family gatherings centered around good food and great stories.

    Having grown up in a Kansas farm, McBride is no stranger to the kitchen; even at an early age, she began helping her mother in preparing meals with fresh-from-the-field ingredients. Over the years, her travels as a country music singer has exposed her to more gastronomic influences, particularly the use of organic foods and healthy diets, which she has applied to her home cooking.

    I like the book’s mixture of recipes and family insider stories, particularly the tweaks that McBride does on the recipes which she labeled “Adlibs.” The book is by no means a strict stick-to-the-recipe cookbook – even the author improvises from time to time! It really does welcome the reader to McBride’s kitchen and some aspects of her life. Plus, the food styling on the gorgeous photos that accompany some of the recipes are really superb.

    Some of the ingredients may be expensive or hard-to-find here in the Philippines, but home cooks can draw inspiration from the recipes for their own culinary masterpieces.

    Martina’s Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life, published by Oxmoor House will be released on October 30, 2018. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Oxmoor House for the advanced copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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    Check our Martina McBride’s other cookbook:

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    Poignant recollections of the Holocaust in My Real Name Is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

    In 1941, a family of Jews live comfortably in northern Ukraine town of Kwasova, integrated with neighbors of other faiths. The eldest girl, Hanna Slivka, has just turned fourteen when the Germans invaded then Soviet-occupied Ukraine, determined to rid the shtetl of Jews. She, together with her family and other Jewish friends, were forced into hiding, first in the forests that surround their town, and second in underground caves believed to harbor evil spirits.

    Inspired by real events that occured during the Holocaust, the story in My Real Name is Hanna is a retelling of Hanna’s childhood to her daughter. Being a recollection of memories of one of the most terrifying real-life events in history, it has a poignant tone that imbue the narrative with emotion and tension. The narrative is further interspersed with both Ukrainian and Jewish folklore – the making of Easter pysanky eggs, using wax to scry for one’s future husband, and the giving of birthday gifts to ward off evil for the year – making the story even more personal and grounded in that location and within their community.

    In her debut novel, Tara Lynn Masih chronicles the intensifying hardships of Hanna’s family in particular and the Jews in general. It starts with restrictions on the food they can buy, the businesses they can engage in, until later, Jews are seized and made to travel north to the work camps. Some Jewish Romaninan prisoners, as revealed by the family’s informants, were made to cross a deep river and were either drowned or shot in the back when they made it to the banks, all while classical music is being played on the Gestapo’s gramophone.

    Masih’s novel couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time: today, there are voices spewing words of hate about other groups of people, and the appeal to intellect and rationality has given way to emotional outbursts over real and imagined slights.  The author explains that given her young adult audience, she did leave out “some of the more nightmarish events.”  But what she did leave in are heart-wrenching enough.

    Even more heart-wrenching are the actions of the people who helped Hanna’s family despite great personal danger: from the neighbor who gives them crosses to place on their door to hide their Jewishness during a raid, to the people who served as their contact to the outside world while they were in hiding.

    As the novel ends, the family survived but to get their visas and be on their way to freedom in a new country, they needed to change their names.  This is why the retelling to her daughter begins and ends with her real name, and with it, the acceptance of what has happened before and since.

    Masih’s story is brilliantly told with a relatable and sympathetic narrator.  The events described are grounded in history, and all the more horrifying because of it.

    My Real Name is Hanna, published by Mandel Vilar Press, will be released on September 15, 2018. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Mandel Vilar Press for the advanced read.

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    Top 3 book-to-movie adaptations coming in 2018

    Adapting books to the silver screen makes sense for movie producers. For one thing, the story is already laid out: the characters, setting and the plot have been thought out by the author. Another advantage is that successful novels, from the classics to contemporary bestsellers, already have a following, an audience that is eager to relive their favorite narratives via the big-screen.

    If you’re a fan of these books, you’ll be glad to know that they’ll have their turn at the cinema. For movie lovers who don’t mind spoilers, reading the books that these films are based on prior to their theatrical release will enrich the viewing experience.

    The Little Stranger by Sarah Walters

    In post-World War II Britain, a country doctor with humble beginnings is called to visit a patient in the 18th century estate of the local gentry where more than just the past haunts him and its inhabitants.

    Released in 2009, Sarah Walters’ gothic novel explores the themes of evil and social class in a society in upheaval.

    The movie directed by Lenny Abrahamson stars Domnhall Gleeson (“About Time,” “Ex Machina”), Ruth Wilson (“The Affair,” “Luther”), and Will Poulter (“The Revenant,” “The Maze Runner”). It will be released in cinemas on August 31, 2018.

    The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

    In this continuation/reboot of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist match their wits against spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.

    The film directed by Fede Alvarez stars Claire Foy (“The Crown,” “Season of the Witch”), Sverir Gudnasson (“Wallander,” “Gentlemen”) and Stephen Merchant (“Logan,” “The Office”). Its theatrical run starts on November 8, 2018.

    Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

    In a post-apocalyptic world, cities survive by moving around on giant wheels, attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.

    Directed by Christian Rivers, longtime collaborator of producer and co-writer Peter Jackson, the film stars Hera Hilmar (“Da Vinci’s Demons,” “Life in a Fishbowl”), Robert Sheehan (“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” “Love/Hate”) and Hugo Weaving (“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” “The Matrix Trilogy”). It will be released on December 14, 2018.

    Movie details were taken from their respective IMDB pages. Official movie trailers were embedded from Youtube.

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