Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Set up your literary picnic with these juicy July and August book bites

While your summer vacation time may not be the big blowout celebrations you've had in years past,there's plenty of down to earth pleasures to be imbibed during the long hot days ahead of us. Some may be sweet,others savory but all are sure to liven up your leisure time one way or another. Just pick your preferred literary seasonings and enjoy them straight up with a twist:


First item on the menu is a fresh concoction of southern girlhood,courtesy of Rebecca Wells,the beloved creator of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. In her upcoming new book,The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder,a young girl growing up in the blissful river town of La Luna is taught by her mother to ignite the powers of her "healing hands" via fixing hair.

Those lessons are cut short upon her mother's death and Calla Lily must live and learn on her own,not only about the growing abilities she has but in matters of the heart as well. While this book doesn't feature any of the familiar folks from the Ya-Ya series,it should be just as sweetly compelling and a lovely lyrical emotional journey for both old fans and new(July 7):


A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias goes over the thirty year relationship between Enrique Sabas and his wife Margaret,as he prepares their family and friends for Margaret's inevitable passing away. Their early days of courtship are contrasted with the few sorrowful moments of time left to them both.

This may seem like too painful of a story to read,but on the other hand,it's also a loving tribute to the ups and down of a couple who have shared a lifetime with each other and seek a way to make the best of their reluctant parting. Yglesias' best known novel is called Fearless yet this one seems to live up to that title even better(July 7).

In Joyce Maynard's Labor Day,13 year old Henry wishes that his lonely mother Adele could find someone to make her happy(and give him a more amiable father figure). When Henry meets Frank,a mysterious stranger looking for assistance,things appear to be looking up for him and Adele but complications soon arise that give Henry quite a few unexpected life lessons there.

It's also the story of Adele,who is struggling with a long hidden secret that's been putting a stranglehold on her emotional world for far too long. Frank's somewhat timely appearance helps to close that wound as well as open up her heart. Maynard has only written a handful of novels but her storytelling skills are finely honed indeed(August):


Sarah Dunant takes another turn into the pages of historical fiction with Sacred Hearts,set in a convent in southern Italy during the year 1570. Young noblewomen are sent to this place in order to be kept away from the prying eyes of society that would condemn them for their true desires. Sixteen year old Serafina is defiant about her enforced confinement and only with the consoling comfort of Suora Zuana,the mistress of the dispensary,does she find a way to cope.

The bond of friendship between the two women leads to Serafina connecting with other nuns and novices in the convent who have just as many trials and tribulations as she has,with some of them from the outside world threatening them all. Dunant is fast becoming a major player in the realm of historical women's fiction and if you haven't checked her out yet,here is your golden opportunity(July):


Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters have another thing coming with Bad Moon Rising,which focuses on Fang,a Were Hunter whose loyalties are being tested between his bond with his brothers and the women he loves as an all out war between lycanthropes is about to erupt.

Fang's decision to save his lady love may have serious consequences to more than himself,as their survival could end both of their races and bring about some serious bloodshed. Talk about your rock and a hard place there,yet Kenyon always manages to have her mystical warriors find their way home(August 4).

Speaking of mystical warriors,Vicki Pettersson has reached the fourth sign of her Zodiac series with City of Souls that has Joanna Archer battling the forces of evil that lurk around Las Vegas to protect an ailing little girl who has a strong touch of goodness within her that is also in danger of being prematurely destroyed.

Pettersson's earlier Sign of the Zodiac titles are readily available in paperback,as is City of Souls,and her writing style is as charming and stylish smart as the lady is herself. Pettersson was once a Vegas showgirl and her intimate knowledge of the casino world plays an integral part in making her paranormal characters come to life in such a realistic setting(late June,early July):


There are a couple of tasty foodie reads coming back into play this summer,with one of them being a true personal favorite of mine. Julie & Julia chronicles the life and times of blogger Julie Powell,who decides to take on Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking by making each one of the 524 recipes within a year. Her harried and humorous culinary adventure is highlighted with glimpses into Julia Child's life and love of cuisine.

A film adaptation of this marvelous memoir is due out in August,with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep in the title roles. While I'm eagerly salivating to see this flick,the book is a sweetly inspiring read(it's the reason I decided to blog in the first place)and should be savored as soon as possible:

Waiter Rant is another blog inspired book,only not as sweet natured as J&J. Steve Dublanica throws a harsh,yet satirical light onto the restaurant world from the viewpoint of waitstaff who appreciate good customers and dread the approach of those fiendish few that make fine dining a mini hell on earth.

While the book does vent some well earned steam,it does give folks some helpful hints about how to get good service when going out to eat and making things more pleasant on both sides of the table:

Hopefully,this mental menu has something to make your mouth water and offers up a bit of cultural comfort food as well. With all of the chaos swirling about us these days,those lazy,hazy,crazy days of summer are more in demand than ever before:

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