Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, December 31, 2007

Waitress,is there any of more of that Pop Culture Pie left?

The last good movie I saw on DVD in 2007 was Adrienne Shelly's Waitress,starring Keri Russell as a miserable married to a total jerk of a husband(Jeremy Sisto) waitress who only finds joy in creating her magically unique pies. When she discovers that she's pregnant,she see the baby as another roadblock in her life but meets the man who could be the love of her life,the new doctor in town(Nathan Fillon).

This story doesn't go along the typical romantic path that you expect it to and the final resolution is both realistic and fairytale like at the same time. A true loss to the world of film is the passing of the movie's writer/director/co-star,Adrienne Shelly,a well known actress on the indie film circuit.

Those who cherish her memory have formed a foundation in her name, dedicated to helping up and coming young women to pursue their movie making dreams,which is one of the best compliments that anyone can receive to mark their time on this earth(a posthumous Oscar would also be appropriate,in my opinion):

So,inspired by the unusually named pies from the film such as Marshmallow Mermaid,I Hate My Husband and Bad Baby(aka I Don't Want Earl's Baby),I have come up with a few imaginary pastries based on this year's parade of pop culture people and my own personal entertainment interests. I do have to warn you in advance that many of the selections here come with a huge helping of snark on the side:


Sour grapes mixed with lemon curd as filling,baked in a flimsy tasteless crust and served at the finest strip malls and local jails for a limited time only.


Rum raisin with the pickled fruits and nuts of your choice,with the top crust being flambeed with a shot of Tanqueray.


A thick crust that holds very little filling,served on a flat as the earth plate.


Deceptively innocent looking crust sprinkled with cinnamon,filled with bittersweet dark chocolate and containing a rather nasty mystery meat surprise in the center.


A rich and varied blend of ingredients,placed in a sponge cake crust to fully absorb all of the flavors and juices, Goes well with Clare Bennett's "Just a Cheerleader" Pie and Nathan Petrelli's Flying Man Mango Pie.


Patchwork crust filled with the finest and oddest trimmings about that challenges any creative person to "make it work!"


Can be served hot and spicy or cold and clumsy. Topped with judgmental crabapples and great for starting fights and stirring up old feuds with flavor. Never made the same way twice.

That's all we have left in stock,which is good since there is a brand new year of baked goods and entertainment options to explore. Happy New Year to one and all and let me leave you with another lovely incentive to see Waitress,if you haven't yet already:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Ten Things I Learned From Sweeney Todd

So,I decided to see my last new theaterical release of the year today,and the winner was Sweeney Todd,starring Johnny Depp,Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman as the tragically bound trio of Londonites doomed to destroy each other thru razors,meat pies and song.

As someone who's never seen the Broadway production(apart from a few YouTube clips),this version seemed to truly capture the spirit of the original production while creating an unique vision of this Gothic operetta for a whole new audience along with those already familar with this tuneful tale of woe.

Here are some of the lessons one can take away from the folks of Fleet Street:

10) If the opening credits of a film are practically bathed in blood,don't expect a happy ending:

9) If the man you love is more romantically inclined towards his razor than he is you,he is definitely not at all into you:

8) Keeping alert during your barbershop appointment might actually save your neck,literally.

7) Don't assume that because a shop boy isn't smart,that means that he's not dumb.

6) Even sworn enemies can find some common ground to meet upon:

5) Revenge comes in many different flavors and varieties,enough to fill a even bakery that serves the worst pies in London:

4) If a lecherous judge invites you over to discuss your husband's case and there is a costume party going on when you get there,it's time to call Jacoby and Meyers ,honey!

3) Blackmailing a fellow barber is a ugly business and not too smart to confront a fella with secrets to keep and a sharp blade handy all by your lonesome.

2)Murder sprees are easier to manage when you have a proper and profitable way to dispose of the bodies.

1) You may have either vengeance or salvation;wanting both together at once just won't do,love:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ring in the New Year with some new reads for Winter of 2008

Another year is about to go by,with many memories great and small. Instead of brooding over the past,the best way to face the new year is by looking forward to the many delights that await us.

An abundance of brand new books will be released this January and February that should amuse,entertain and help folks to not get too frustrated by still ongoing Hollywood Writers' strike(New Year's Resolution,Hollywood:make a fair settlement,people! It's just four extra cents on the dollar-even Paris Hilton could afford that now,with her grandpa leaving 97% of his fortune to charity. Come on!).


One of the most buzzed about debuts this winter is Lauren Groff's The Monsters of Templeton,coming out in February. The story begins with Willie Upton,a woman retreating to her family homestead in Templeton,NY,to clear her head after her recent affair with a married man. While in town,a bizarre find of a corpse in a local lake triggers off a look into the secrets and lies of Willie's family tree that have haunted her ancestors for a century or two.

Good advance word on this book has come from the likes of Stephen King and Lorrie Moore,but to me,this opening line of the novel is the clincher:

"The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass."

Quite the grabber there,don't you think?

Another promising first time novel is James Collins' Beginner's Greek,which has a rather old fashioned flair to it,in the best sense. Peter Russell meets his soulmate,Holly,on a flight from NY to LA and his only way to contact her again is a phone number she gave him that was written down on a page of The Magic Mountain. However,when Peter opens the book later,that particular page has disappeared without a trace.

What follows afterwards is a series of misunderstandings,romantic matches that go all wrong in all the right ways and the search for true love. Beginner's Greek will be available by January 9,so keep an eagle eye out for it.


A new petal of Lauren Willig's historical spy series opens in February,with the release of Seduction of the Crimson Rose,that follows a new recruit,Mary Alsworthy,into the dangerous duties of a double agent by gaining the trust and the confidence of the Black Tulip,France's most nefarious spy.

If you haven't read any of Willig's works before,the first three books are available in paperback and the one to start with is The Secret History of the Pink Carnation,followed by The Masque of the Black Tulip and The Deception of the Emerald Ring.*sigh* Don't those titles sound deliciously old school?

Jennifer Donnelly's The Winter Rose is a follow-up to her earlier historical novel,The Tea Rosebut you can read them in any order that you choose. The new book focuses on newly graduated doctor India Selwyn Jones,who has bucked the traditions of her Victorian social class thru the pursuit of her dream and is determined to start up a practice in the Whitechapel section of London. That location brings her in contact with Sid Malone,the biggest gangster in the city who is more than he appears to be.

India and Sid naturally clash,but wind up finding more than one passion that the two of them share. The Winter Rose blooms at a bookstore near you on January 8th and you should pluck it up as soon as can be.


Newly arrived in paperback is Matthew Polly's memoir of how he fulfilled his childhood dream of taking up the mantle of David Carradine by traveling to China in 1992 to study kung fu at the Shaolin Temple. Not a choice that many would make but one that certainly broadened his horizons.

American Shaolin offers some insight into the life and customs of modern day China,along with a few pretty sweet fighting techniques:

I've been singing the praises of The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing,Book Sharing Guide to Life lately and another nifty incentive to get you to buy this wonderful book is to point out that it is in paperback,therefore very affordable.

Come on,folks-let's put the Pulpwood Queens on a few bestseller lists! It certainly would be the perfect payback for all of those great books that they've helped to highlight over the years. Build up some good karma for 2008 by spreading the good word here.


Food writer Kim Sunee recounts her life and life choices in her memoir this January entitled Trail of Crumbs:Hunger,Love and the Search for Home. Kim was left on a bench in a Korean marketplace by her mother when she was three years old and found by the police with only a handful of crumbs to show for it.

She was later adopted and taken to live in New Orleans,which began her interest in discovering the joys of food. At the age of 21,she moved to France to further her pursuits as well as live with a French businessman and become stepmother to his eight year old daughter. Kim shares her experiences and favorite recipes in this charming and heartfelt book. I was lucky enough to meet Kim briefly during last June's BEA and she is a very personable author. If you are able to attend one of her book signings,I can safely say that you're in for a real treat.

Blogger Janice Erlbaum follows up her earlier memoir,GirlBomb,with Have You Found Her,due in February,which talks about her volunteer work at a homeless shelter to help out someone who was in the same dire straits as she was twenty years ago,when Janice went to live in a shelter for teens.

There she met Sam,a troubled nineteen year old girl with a drug habit who had been on her own since the age of twelve. Janice tried to move heaven and earth to save Sam from her personal demons but the toll it took on both of them was vaster than expected.

Sway is Zachary Lazar's fourth novel and a book filled with many familar faces from the past and present. One of the book's leading characters is Bobby Beausoleil,who hung out with the Beach Boys and later became a prominent member of the Manson family.

Other famous folk in this triptych of interconnected stories include Keith Richards,Kenneth Anger,Anita Pallenberg and Brian Jones. If you find that period of American pop culture fascinating or are just in search of an interesting read,Sway is ready to swing this January.


Jerremy Fine's dream of finding a real life nobleman to marry sounds alot like the premise of a chick flick but she did actually go forth to seek her blue blooded bridegroom and lived to tell the tale in Someday My Prince Will Come(January 10). She set her sights on a grandson of Queen Elizabeth's and when her chance to go to England came,Jerremy did manage to mingle with a few royals but her path to love took a few amusing turns along the way.

Cindy Guidry takes a different tack in dealing with what life has tossed her way as The Last Single Woman in America(February). After losing her job and her fiance,Cindy goes on a journey of self discovery which involves avoiding motherly advice,dubious dating decisions and learning to laugh at herself.

Her memoir is said to have a Sex And The City style to it and while that's not my cup of tea,I suspect that many of the SATC fans who are champing at the bit for the official movie version to hit the multiplex will enjoy having this to read as they wait on line.


In case you missed it,the LRG Gods Behaving Badly Help Wanted Contest has been extended to the end of January 2008. Please send your entries to livingreadgirl@yahoo.com,in order to get your chance at getting a free copy of Marie Phillips' very funny novel. Like they say about Lotto,you gotta be in it to win it!

In the meanwhile,have a Happy New Year of Reading,folks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holding out for a hero at the movie trailer park in 2008

Now that we've finished cleaning up the Christmas clutter,it's time to look towards the future,especially in films due to arrive in theaters to hopefully thrill audiences,or atleast make that 20 bucks you laid out at the refreshment counter worth your while there,during 2008.

It'll be a new year with some new fears(and a few of the old ones tagging along),so we will need a hero or two to save the day. Let's take a look at the possible contenders for box office victory and mass appeal:


Ron Perlman returns as the ultimate Big Red One,with the original director of the first Hellboy movie,Guillermo Del Toro back in the saddle again. It looks like all of the folks that survived the earlier movie are here and the f/x is weirder and wilder than before.

Del Toro is a natural at genre flicks,which the studios may appreciate more these days after the critical love Pan's Labyrinth was bathed in. Del Toro's also coming out with a fantasy movie called The Orphanage that looks just as good and maybe will give him that Oscar he deserves:


This movie is as eagerly and impatiently anticipated as the Nintendo Wii was for Cartman. Fortunately,we don't have to resort to primitive time travel methods to check this bad boy out. I know some fans are already quibbling about the Joker's makeup but come on,guys,this version of the Batman legend is intended to be much more gritty and less cartoony than the previous films before have been.

Granted,the long shadow of Jack Nicholson as the Clown Prince of Crime will be looming over this film but it looks to me as if Heath Ledger is making the part his own. There's a new sheriff in town and no one is safe:


Marvel's been in a bit of a superhero slump lately,with lackluster sequels bringing the bing-bang-boom out of their cinematic groove. That low may be shortlived ,with the arrival of a newly minted movie adaptation of Iron Man,starring one of the most unlikely actors to play a superhero,Robert Downey,Jr.

Turns out that Downey's offscreen antics suit the nature of his current onscreen leading man,giving some potential nuance to the character. Oh,and the metal armor outfit has a nice shine to it:


Heroes are not just for comic books;they can be found anywhere and everywhere in the kingdoms of pop culture and especially in Narnia,where the sibling foursome of The Lion,The Witch and The Wardrobe return to team up with Prince Caspian.

Some folks will be peeved about skipping over the other couple of Narnia books that come before Prince Caspian but since C.S. Lewis didn't write the series in the chronological order(he assigned the set sequence of the books years later)that we know today,I think we can cut the studio a break on this one:


"Not another TV show remake!" Yes,it is but I have hope for this one. While the original Don Adams series was tops in the field of spy movie parodies,certainly Steve Carell is a worthy successor to the throne(or the phone booth,if you will)and Anne Hathaway makes for a lovely Agent 99.

After all,who better to play Maxwell Smart than Agent Michael Scarn of the FBI? Would you believe that my only qualm here is that they didn't have the foresight to find a part for Dwight,aka Samuel L. Chang?:

That's all I have for now. Tune in next year for more thrilling updates,same bat time,same bat blog!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A few holiday tunes to keep your toes tappin' this Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to one and all,and since the next few days are going to be busy with holiday cheer,we here at LRG would like to give everyone the gift of song(which is easier to hand out at the last minute than gift certificates).

Just a sample of lively festive tunes to play in the background as you wrap up that fruitcake from your Aunt Mary Lou to bring as your Secret Santa gift to the office party or ship out a fruit basket to all of those relatives who you thought you'd never hear from and yet they all decided to send you the entire Harry & David catalog. Ok,people,start your humming:


"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one of my favorite holiday songs,not only for the quaint,old timey feel of it,but it's a great way to kill time. Trust me,any time you have a long wait during this time of year,just go thru this baby-it makes the passage of time that much more bearable. Here we have John Denver and the Muppets showing how it's done(Miss Piggy would grab the five golden rings part for herself!):


I posted this fanmade clip of the Waitresses'"Christmas Wrapping" last year and since there's not a better video version of this song available,I figured why not bring it back? Christmas is about tradition after all,and some of the fun is pulling out some of your favorite ornaments/decorations,etc to happily display again. Plus,I love the toothpick animation and the girl in the video reminds me of Pam from The Office:


While my all time favorite version of "A Christmas Carol" is the Alistair Sim film,the Mr. Magoo cartoon musical take on the tale is pretty fun as well. This wickedly wonderful tribute to low rent villainy is performed during the Ghost of Christmas Future segment,as the folks who raided the home of the recently deceased miser cavort at the pawnbroker's over their hideous good luck. A good song to sing while passing the razzleberry dressing:


My brother was very much into Fishbone at one point in his life,which is how I was introduced to this entertainingly eclectic band. I don't know if he still listens to any of their music but if he does,atleast they have one appropriate number for this season. Think of it as a Cliff Notes' version of It's A Wonderful Life,set to a snappy beat with bounce:


Sorry to end this on a sad note,but I've always loved this Dan Fogelberg tune and now that he's passed away,I just had to add this on as a tribute. Everytime I heard this on the radio,whether at home or out doing errands,I would slow down my pace to catch every word and savor all the bittersweet beauty of the narrative. It's like reading a really great short story,this song,one whose characters can't help but ring true and who still haunt you after it's done. Let us raise a toast to time for Dan here,taken from us much too soon:

On that cheerful note,Merry Christmas and I'll see you all later this week. Have a happy one,folks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What will be lighting up your TV screen this Christmas Eve?

Since the combination of holiday malaise and the looming shadow of the Writer's Guild has caused a lack of TV worth talking about this week(altho I do think that this year's twisted Nip/Tuck Christmas episode was close to raising the bar for Santa smackage than their last time out,but not quite hitting the mark),I flipped ahead to see what would be worth watching on Christmas Eve.

There are some decent shows on,which I'll get to in a moment,but does anyone else out there miss the Yule Log? It was a such a nice thing to click on for a few hours and have in the background as you unwrapped presents or just hung out in the living room,with your tree lights glowing and having a conversation with your family that didn't involve complaining about the state of things or who didn't do this or that chore because he/she always gets stuck doing it and someone else ought to do it FOR ONCE!

Ah,the good old days of yore. Maybe it should be brought back again,to spread some much needed harmony and give some of the gossip coverage(why is Britney's little sister's pregnancy a major headline,why?)a rest:

Ok,enough of that-on with the show! Here's what I found to be on(times may vary,according to your area) and some of it should stuff your stocking just right:


ABC plans to have How The Grinch Stole Christmas on during primetime and fortunately they're showing the authentic Grinch,not the Jim Carrey bag of coal clone that's getting alot of play on ABC Family lately(I swear that if I run into Opie Cunningham,he owes me a few bucks for actually going into a theater and forking over my hard earned green for that attempt at ruining one of my childhood favorites). A few years ago,they did try to cross the Grinch over to another holiday with Halloween is Grinch Night Out,but he really fits into the Christmas pantheon much more snuggly:


TBS will be having a 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story,this generation's cult classic holiday film. I did buy this movie on VHS but never bothered to grab it on DVD,since repeated viewings of the movie are now officially a tradition. Hard to select just one great silly scene(a favorite of mine is the fantasy sequence where Ralphie's teacher becomes the Wicked Witch of the West after giving him a "C+" on his "What I Want For Christmas" theme paper)but I think most of the fans adore the Awful Aunt Clara gift bit. Who hasn't gotten a terrible present from a relative that your mom or dad insisted on you showcasing for all to see and stare?:


NBC is showing "It's A Wonderful Life",the granddaddy of cult Christmas films. It really is one of Capra's best and a great example of a movie that has the same feel and energy of a long novel that doesn't feel long enough by the end. There's an abundance of plot points and secondary characters to delight in,but one of the strongest elements of this tribute to small town goodness is the romance of Mary and George. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed really had some amazing chemistry going there:


VH1's "I Love the 90s,Part Deux" will be another marathon feature and good for them. It's a better choice than E!'s "Keeping Up With the Kardashians"(who the hell are these people and why should we care?), Hey,E,if you're going to run a 'thon,why not play The Soup instead? Perhaps you're saving that for New Year's Eve. While I couldn't find a clip from Part Deux,here's a very timely one from that series which highlights a show folks thought they would never see the likes of again(but will now,due to suits not wanting to pay folks another measly four cents on the dollar!):

Well whatever you watch on Christmas Eve,the important thing is to not let it interfere with the real business at hand-seeing if you can dig up some of those receipts to exchange that horrible sweater your Grandma sent you. Oh,and to enjoy the warmth and love of your family as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On The Shelf with Kathy L. Patrick

Kathy L. Patrick is not your average bookseller,or your average anything for that matter. She's not only the owner of one of the most unique business ventures in the world,Beauty and the Book,a beauty parlor/book shop,she is the proud founder of the Pulpwood Queens,one of the biggest book clubs around.

The Pulpwood Queens' fame has lead them to being featured on Good Morning America,as the first book club to set off their Read This! campaign,and on Oprah,along with a number of major newspapers and magazines the world over. How the Queens got their start in Jefferson,Texas,is one of dozens of tales told in the upcoming Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing,Book Sharing Guide to Life written by the Head Queen herself,Kathy. I was most fortunate to get an audience with Her Majesty and ask her a few of my queries:

1) If you were forced to only have one business-beauty parlor or bookstore-which one would it be?

You would have to pin me down and make me scream "Uncle!", but hands down, it would be bookstore. Books saved me and I am on a mission to promote literacy so bookstore would be my choice. But the reader must also know that I would probably not be able to be in business long as the beauty shop is what supports my bookselling efforts. There is more money in hair than there is in books. A woman can check out a book from the library but she can't just check out a good haircut and color. That's why both make such a nice balance, actually marriage. This is a marriage for life because one cannot succeed without the other. There is beauty in books and books in beauty. You can quote me on that.

2) How can a person find out if they're good Pulpwood Queen or Timber Guy material?

My answer is can that person read? Then they are an excellent candidate. It's just that simple, all I ask is that you read each month's book club selection. It's mandatory, oh, and wear a tiara!

3)What are some of your favorite reading selections from the Pulpwood Queens' Book Club?

All of them and that is why I insisted all Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selections be listed in my book from inception up to my book's debut. I also have to say that I read a lot more than just the books I hand select for my book club. I am a very eclectic reader and some of the books are on obscure subjects, literary, or are, some would put it, strange. I read to live and live to read. I love all of my books that I select or I would not have very carefully and thoughtfully chosen them.

4)What advice would you give to someone looking for a way to liven up their usual book club meetings?

Serve liquor, ha ha ha! I am joking with you here but not really. I have found that a little wine makes people more comfortable on speaking up and out about their beliefs and feelings on a book. One of the biggest book events I ever did was for a man that wrote a very unusual book on the timeline of wine. We had a wine tasting and I finally got out the water hose to chase everybody out of my shop. Nobody wanted to go home and it was a school night. What was I thinking! So helpful reminder, keep it simple with a glass of wine or two. Don't bring out the keg!

5)There's been alot of concern lately about the shrinking amount of book coverage/reviews in newspapers across the country. How serious a probelm do you think this is and what can be done about it?

My feeling on this is that newspapers are in trouble, not just the book review page. More and more people are going online to read the news and more and more people are going online to read about books. To me as long as we have a place, whether newspaper or laptop or otherwise to read about books, people will want go to that source. But I will speak out and tell you that I signed the petition to bring back the book page and editor to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, it was the one place I went to to read about books.

6)How do you go about choosing a book that is just right for a Pulpwood Queens' monthly selection?

I have set up criteria for my book clubs selections:

1) They must be well written

2) They must give a new voice to literature that has not been heard from before.

3) I prefer to select books that are by yet undiscovered authors. The Pulpwood Queens know that in reading an author's book, that alone will help them get the numbers boost on book sales. I also like to select authors that may have been known in other professions too. I have found that authors are sometimes dismissed as authors if they are famous for something else. When I asked Paulina Porizkova, author of "A Model Summer" if she was going on book tour and she told me she was not.

Because she is famous as a supermodel, it was felt that would sell her books alone. I disagree, I think you have to work even harder to publicize someone who has climbed out of the proverbial box. I thoroughly enjoy and take great satisfaction in knowing we are helping Paulina Porizkova, the author. "Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover" is a chapter in my book and Paulina Porizkova could be the spokesmodel for that chapter. She not only has written a great book, I do believe that if every woman and their daughter read this book, we could change the face of fashion today. I always say, "Don't judge a book by it's cover,unless it really is a book then read it first!

I can only select twelve books a year and though hard, the ones that I select I believe are the ones that could be the next "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." And why wouldn't I believe that? Look at the success of some of past Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selection Authors:

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Cane River by Lalita Tademy

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Eat, Pray, Love by Elisabeth Gilbert

7) What are some of your favorite books of all time?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is my lodestar. Favorite book and favorite film, both are perfection for me and I read the book once or twice a year and watch the film too. As far as favorite books today, I look to authors bodies of work, Pat Conroy, Tennessee Williams, Cassandra King,Doug Marlette, Mark Childress, Ellen Gilchrist, Christopher Cook, oh I could go on and on and on... I also love to read any biography or autobiography of practically anybody.

In my youth I loved the Tarzan books. They were my absolute favorites and have read them all. You should see my Tarzan collection of books,comic books, posters, and dolls! They are all housed in my own personal jungle of an office along with my Elvis memorabilia and leopard print collection. When I say I live in a house of books, I'm not kidding,floor to ceiling, everywhere, and I have more in my house than at my shop, Beauty and the Book.

I have told my two teenage girls, now 17 and 13, "After I am gone, if you want to know who your mother really was as a person, read my library". These are the books that are a reflection of my life at 7,10, 14, 20, 30, 40 and now 51. My library is a mirror of what I found important in my life. I have built a house of books and now I am on a mission to get everybody reading, one book, one author, one person, and one book club at a time.

Thank you Kathy,for giving me some of your valuable time during this busy holiday season and I hope that the reign of the Pulpwood Queens is long and prosperous,with plenty of good times and good reading.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Turn of the century teens share some secrets and lies in The Luxe

In the Manhattan of 1899,all of the high society buzz is about the upcoming nuptials of Elizabeth Holland and Henry Schoonmaker,a most ideal match to everyone but the two of them and a couple of other interested parties.

Elizabeth hoped to marry for love(and is in love with Will Keller,the family coachman and her childhood friend) but her father died leaving his financial affairs in a ruinious state. In order to save the Hollands from poverty and social disgrace,her mother insists on Elizabeth making a good marriage at once.

Henry is forced into getting married by his ambitious father,who plans to run for political office and wants his party boy of a son to settle down and stop causing scandalous talk,like his daillance with Penelope Hayes,the daughter of a newly rich family who is frenemies with Elizabeth.

Penelope is furious at the announcement,since she's been planning to marry Henry for some time now and refuses to take this whole situation lying down. Henry is only interested in keeping his trust fund from being cut off at first but then he encounters Diana,Elizabeth's younger and much more unconventional sister,and begins to truly have some serious romantic regrets.

These are a few of the entwined plot points in Anna Godbersen's The Luxe,a debut young adult novel that's been touted as "Gossip Girl meets the Gilded Age". Granted that it's not quite in that classic lit level of writing,the book is nonetheless a good,entertaining romp that will undoubtedly pick up some crossover grown-up readers along the way.

Godbersen skillfully sketches the lives of her characters and the time period,with it's class struggles and social customs of decorum that threaten to imprison the hearts of her leads,and keeps the pace lively. Certain story elements are left open towards the end,leading me to think that a sequel may be in the works,which I wouldn't mind checking out there.

The author has said in interviews that she has a fondness for "Edith Wharton type" novels and it's fair to say that The Luxe could be a gateway book for young women to give The House of Mirth and Age of Innocence a try without it being a school assignment. Even if it doesn't,they'll still get a fun and thoughtful look at the so-called glamorous life of a century past and a true idea of the price that many folks had to pay to get and stay there.

But,if even one of The Luxe's readers(of any age)does decide to sample some of Wharton at her best,The Age of Innocence is a good place to start:

The Luxe is the best kind of guilty pleasure,one that doesn't make you feel quite so bad about indulging in the glossy gilded goodness of it. Hopefully,this book will become a true trendsetter in many reading circles and light a fire in the hearts of romantics everywhere.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday,Dear Jane

This past Sunday was the 232nd birthday of one of my favorite authors,Jane Austen. Having a December birthday can be tricky,especially since most folks resort to giving "Christmas/birthday" combo presents to the birthday person,but I do think that Jane enjoyed this time of year regardless of that.

Many Austen appreciation societies hold Jane Austen birthday celebrations around this date(I attended one of JASNA's a few years ago,and it was lovely)while others simply watch their favorite JA film adaptation or reread one of her books.

"So,what did you do,Lady T?" Fair question. First off,I was fortunate enough to get a great early Christmas present of a Jane Austen Door Hanger from a good friend of mine(who received her very own Dumbledore's Hat in return)and inspired by that,I've been rereading Emma,an old Everyman's Library edition given to me by that same friend a few Christmas eves ago.

Funny,since Emma Woodhouse is low on my list of Favorite Austen Heroines(vying for the top would be Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood. Yes,I adore Lizzy Bennet but I do believe in giving the other young ladies time to exhibit)but do admit to feeling more charitable to her after several readings of the book.

This lead me to naturally watch the Kate Beckinsale made for TV version of Emma,which I do prefer to the Gwyneth Paltrow one released in theaters. The Andrew Davies script is the strongest of the two and I also think that Mark Strong is a much more substantive Mr. Knightley than Jeremy Northam any day of the week.

I decided to follow that up with an "Austen inspired" film and while the obvious choice for Emma would have been Clueless,I went with You've Got Mail instead. Granted that You've Got Mail is a remake of an officially non-Austen movie,The Shop Around the Corner,the spirit of Pride & Prejudice is invoked several times during the film and it has many of the essential elements of a good JA story.

The NYC setting has the feel of a small interconnected village,there's plenty of sparkling dialogue,a goodly number of misunderstandings and a feisty heroine who combats the arrogant male lead with wit and sharp zingers:

Speaking of zingers,I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that Jane Austen would have also liked Gilmore Girls. Jane was a fan of theatericals(despite that certain subplot in Mansfield Park,which was really more about the moral tone of the chosen play and certain character's reasons for picking it,than the actual acting itself)and the antics of Stars Hollow certainly suits her notion of " Three or four families in a country village" as" the very thing to work on,"

So,to cap this off,here are some GG clips that Jane would've particularly liked,in my very humble opinion. Happy birthday,Miss Austen,and I wish you had been given many more to enjoy:





Monday, December 17, 2007

Have a rip roaring read with the Pulpwood Queens and their Tiara Wearing,Book Sharing Guide to Life

When Kathy Patrick was downsized from her job as a book representative,one of her sisters gave her a great idea about what to do next,sort of a Reese's peanut butter cup solution.

She took two great passions in her life,hair styling and reading,and made them work great together in the form of Beauty and the Book,possibly the only bookstore/beauty parlor in the world. From there,she launched a major reading group revolution that has challenged and changed the lives of many fellow literary lovers.

The Pulpwood Queens first began their reign in Jefferson,Texas and has branched out all over the U.S.,with several international chapters as well. They're not your mother's prim and proper book club,that's for sure. The mandatory dress code of the Pulpwood Queens is a tiara and leopard print and(as the official motto says)"reading good books is the rule!". The PWQ's mission statement is to promote the joys of literacy while having some fun and friendship along the way. Kathy Patrick details the whole Pulpwood Queens' saga in her about to be released book,The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing,Book Sharing Guide to Life,and a whole lot more.

The book is a grand,glorious cornucopia of memoir,testimonials from fellow Pulpwood Queens(and a few from their paternal order,The Timber Guys),recommended reading lists,recipes and heartfelt advice.

Kathy is open and honest about the ups and downs of her life,sharing with folks the life lessons she's learned without sounding preachy,plus her still strong sense of wonder and inspiration from people in her life like Fred McKenzie,a local historian and rare books dealer who is still seeking adventure,even at the youthful age of eighty-eight.

The success of the Pulpwood Queens' movement is truly impressive. They've been featured on Good Morning America,launching their Read This! book club with Ann Packer's The Dive From Clausen's Pier and have been covered in major magazines like Time and Newsweek and newspapers such as the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal. Even Oprah has had to showcase these ladies of the royal reading court:

Reading this book is like sitting down with an old friend and a good cup of coffee for a few hours of lively conversation. The Pulpwood Queens' GTL is due out in early January of 2008 and now would be a good time to place your order for a copy,or plan to use one of those gift certificates given to you this holiday season towards getting a few extras for your own book club.

Kathy gives plenty of helpful hints and suggestions about what does and doesn't make for a good reading discussion,which should be essential to a longtime group or one that's just getting started.

So,if you're ever down around the town of Jefferson,stop into Beauty and the Book for a touch-up and some good books. Sounds like a lovely little bitty country place,nothing too high tone. Just lots of good will and maybe one small thrill,as Miss Mona would say: