Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, December 09, 2005

A Happy New Year of Reading

As I sit here by the window watching my neighborhood turn into a winter wonderland of
Narnian proportions,I felt the urge to skip the usual year end round-up of books and
instead,look towards the upcoming literary season. Unlike Hollywood,which tends to dump
whatever they have moldering on the back shelves into unsuspecting theaters,the book
world slips out quite a few goodies before the big summer rush.

Most of these titles are going to be hardcovers but there is one paperback tossed in
the mix so let's start with that:

Pretty Little Dirty by Amanda Boyden(Random House):This is Boyden's first novel which
takes place in the 1980's and focues on a budding friendship between two girls,Lisa
Smith and Celeste Rose Diamond. Lisa's admiration for Celeste leads both girls down
a rather rough path of drugs,sex and parties. This is clearly not some Gossip Girl
type of novel but maybe some of those GG fans might grab this and get a taste of
grown-up fare. Due in March

Night Watch by Sarah Waters(Penguin):Waters usually writes about Victorian England so
this book is a slight departure for her,taking place in London of the 1940s and
centering around a group of four friends during the Blitz. I've only read Fingersmith
but just the memory of that compelling and artfully worded tale made me eager for her
newest book. Due in March

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse(Penguin):First off,this book was not written by the uberwaif
supermodel but by an English woman who has gathered a good following for this novel
in her home country. It's about two women from different times-Alice,in modern day exploring the Pyrenees mountains and Alais who ,800 years before, was given a stone
ring by her father that would lead to the secret of the Grail. Alice now has the ring
which bears a labyrinth seal and is still an object of mystery. Sounds alittle bit
Da Vinci Code? Maybe,but this seems to be much more interesting(actually,the first
thing that came to my mind was the Lana Lang/Isobel witch subplot from last season's
Smallville)and any author who aspires to have strong female leads(in her words)"Grail legends are usually about men with swords and women being rescued. I thought"I want the women to have the swords."-sounds like someone worth knowing. Due in March

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman(Random House):Emilia wishes to
indulge in her mourning for her newborn daughter but is pulled back into the world
thru her Wednesday visits with her stepson,William. I know,this sounds like depressing Oprah material but this is an author who was actually heckled by an Oprah
audience for writing in an essay how she would mourn the loss of her husband more than her kids,so give this book a chance. I've never read Waldman before but she seems to have a good sense of humor and compassion. Due in February

Memoirs of a Muse by Lara Vapnyar (Random House)Recent Russian emigrant Tanya's ambition is to be
a literary muse for the next Dostoevsky but the fella she hooks up with in New York,
Mark Schneider,fails to live up to her expecations. This is another first novel(Vapnyar had a collection of short stories published earlier)which not only
shows promise but has quite an interesting premise. Due in April

Brookland by Emily Barton(FSG):My dad was a born Brooklynite so I'm already partial to this story about Prudence Winship's plan to build the Brooklyn Bridge with the
inherited wealth of her father's gin distillery and the help of her sisters Tem and
Pearl,along with local surveyor,Benjamin Horsfield. The book takes place in 18th century "Brookland" and reminds me abit of Ahab's Wife(minus the illustrations)
with its period prose and down to earth flavor. Due in March

This is only a small sample of what's to come(and what's in my ARC pile for '06)but
do keep an eye for these budding new blossoms when they spring up on the shelves. Right now,I think it's time for some hot cocoa and the perfect book to snuggle up with in the snow.

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