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A More Inclusive Happy Ending: Romance Novels That Diversify the Classics

Jacob Scott

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Macmillan Audio

This collection of audiobooks features classic stories and favorite fairy tales and reimagines them with modern flair. Marissa Meyer takes on Rumpelstiltskin in Gilded, Lauren Blackwood gives an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy twist to Jane Eyre in Within These Wicked Walls, Alix E. Harrow puts her own spin on Sleeping Beauty in A Spindle Splintered, and more. Hear them all now!

The stories that are retold in our societies and cultures are often revisited and remembered because they connect with us in some way. Some part of the journey, cast of characters, or ending resonates with audiences over many different time periods and places.

Romance is a genre built for retelling stories. Much like a classic tale full of characters and plot points we’ve known for as long as we can remember, there’s a predictable pattern for most romance novels — a framework within which an author is working. In both a retold story and a conventional romance, what makes the story creative and unique is how an author or storyteller works within the structure set for them. In the best cases, a writer keeps the core elements and builds out the story, bringing their own take and talent to something familiar. 

One of the ways romance authors have done this is through broadening the representation in the settings, characters, and circumstances in classic stories. In reimagining classic pairings as same sex couples or recasting the well-known fairytales without the petite white princesses from the Disney versions, romance authors let more of us see ourselves as a part of treasured stories. A Cinderella story resonates for a different audience when the princess-to-be is a plus-sized Black woman in Hollywood. The lessons learned by Jane Austen’s meddling Emma translate in a new way when the main character lives on a Hawaiian beach and the object of her affection is another woman. 

At its best, the romance genre is a place where all kinds of people are a part of love stories and happy endings, and that broad representation is especially important when the stories are ones that we tell and retell over centuries and across cultures. Romances are inherently stories of love and hope, and these retellings are some of the ones that demonstrate that telling a more inclusive version of a classic story makes it even more worthy of a new audience.

It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian

Stories that become pop culture canon play just as important a role in books and retellings as those that are considered literary canon, and The Sound of Music has to rank pretty high on the list of stories that have become culturally embedded. Even if you don’t know all of the words to “My Favorite Things” or can’t name all seven of the Von Trapp children, there’s a good chance you know something about the musical (which was itself a retelling of a true story). In It Takes Two to Tumble, Sebastian makes some significant changes to the setting and circumstances, but the key elements — a grieving sea captain who is overwhelmed by his new role as a single parent, and the kind young vicar who comes to the rescue — clearly tie this M/M version of the story to the classic. It Takes Two to Tumble might feature less singing, but you’ll find at least as many feelings as in the Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer version.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

Jane Austen’s novels make for excellent romance retellings, and several romance authors have retold her stories of complicated circumstances, complicated families, and complicated feelings. Sonali Dev’s series focused on the Raje family takes all of Austen’s relationship drama to California, and Recipe for Persuasion — a retelling of Persuasion — comes with a heavy dose of managing trauma as well. Ashna is an Indian American chef reluctantly competing in a reality television show, and Rico is the soccer star she’s partnered with on the cooking show. True to the source material, the two have a complicated and heartbreaking history. Dev brings Indian culture — and lots of Indian food — to this emotional rollercoaster of a retelling, and she’s such a masterful storyteller that you might start considering her version a classic in its own right.

How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole

Even if you’re not especially familiar with the story of Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II who was rumored to have survived the attack in which the rest of her family was killed, tales of average girls and women who’ve turned out to be royalty litter the public consciousness. How To Find a Princess twists the familiar by making Makeda a woman who has no interest in the role, and paring her with Beznaria, a royal security official and “rescuer of damsels in distress” who desperately needs her to claim the title. With comedy and heart, Cole retells the story of the search for a lost princess as an enemies to lovers road trip romance for the ages.   

If I Loved You Less by Tamsen Parker

You’ll find stand-ins for all of your favorite characters from Emma (or, for a certain generation, perhaps Clueless) in this Kauai-based retelling of Jane Austen’s classic. You’re likely to also recognize many of Emma’s most frustrating qualities in Theo, a surfer with an overly generous view of her own match-making skills. But there are plenty of updates and upgrades to the story, including the fact that queerness is not unusual and heterosexuality is not assumed — and that’s the kind of Emma retelling we need. 

If The Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon

This Cinderella story — part of Rebekah Weatherspoon’s series of fairytale retellings — starts not with a shoe left behind after an epic night of dancing, but with an Oscar that’s accidentally stolen after an epic one-night stand. But since this is romance, of course one night becomes more nights…and more days. Instead of dealing with a stepmother and sisters, Amanda is stuck in a job with an emotionally and verbally abusive boss, and Sam is the prince of Hollywood as opposed to ruling from an enchanted castle, but the most satisfying elements of the Cinderella story — seeing a talented, hardworking woman get her due and her happy ending — come through in full force. 

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Set in the modern-day Bronx, this YA retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice features an Afro-Latino teenage guitar player named Pheus, and Eury, the new girl in the neighborhood who is struggling with both trauma from her experience surviving Hurricane Maria and — more urgently — the evil spirit who has haunted her since childhood. Lilliam Rivera captures the intensity and high stakes of the classic story while expanding it to include settings and circumstances that feel more relatable to a modern audience. And in case you’re concerned that the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice isn’t one that naturally lends itself to a genre that requires a happy ending, don’t worry — Rivera manages to twist the ending of the story in a way that feels both true to the original tale and also appropriate for a modern romance version.

Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray

In some ways, Briarley feels more like a fairytale than the Beauty and the Beast story with which many of us are most familiar (you know the one — singing tea pots, enchanted rose, yellow ball gown, etc.). One stormy night in 1940, an English parson comes upon an enchanted castle. Planning to pick a rose for his daughter, he ends up tasked with teaching a dragon how to love. Briarley’s gentle and charming story about the love that builds between the kind parson and the cursed, frustrated dragon might seem a bit unusual, but the relationship feels deeply genuine. Gray’s queer retelling of a classic story expands how we think about what is beautiful, what is beastly, and who deserves a happy ending. 

Bear’s Gold by Yvette Hines

There’s a certain kind of reader that wouldn’t need to hear anything about this book other than “Goldilocks and the three bears but make it sexy. INCREDIBLY sexy.” For those who need a little more information, Bear’s Gold is an interracial shifter romance that’s full of bear puns. When Riley Gold, a woman on the run from her ex-boyfriend, gets stuck with car trouble on a stormy night, she winds up at Theo Kodiak’s house. She stays over and has some decisions to make when she finds out that Theo and his two young sons are bear shifters. Bear’s Gold takes a children’s story about a little girl without a concept of stranger danger and makes it into a (very) adult story about a woman reclaiming her life and path to love and passion. 

The stories we tell — and especially the ones we retell — play an important role in building our larger social history. That’s part of the reason that the way we tell those stories matters so much. Our culture can’t be fully represented in that history unless the books we’re reading and writing include happy endings for everyone.

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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