Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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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!

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