Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Setting up a summer movie marathon of the mind

While August is a slow month for all sorts of things,it is also a good time to catch up on those pop culture pleasures you've been missing out for most of the summer.

However, if your budget doesn't allow for hitting the nearest multiplex(or those blockbuster films you wanted to see are no longer at a theater near you), the best solution is to pick up a solid read that fits into the genre you were in the mood for.

For example, feel like an action adventure/thriller type of flick? Recently released at literary ports of call is Daniel Silva's The English Girl, which is overflowing with international intrigue.

 The gal of the title is Madeline Hart,a rising star amongst the young politicos in Britain who vanishes during her summer vacation on the island of Corsica. At first, her disappearance is big news but as interest begins to fade away(along with any clue about what happened to her), a ransom demand is delivered to the home of a major adviser to the Prime Minister. The demand also includes a video where Madeline is forced to reveal that she and Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster have been having an affair,something that would affect politics and the nation,not to mention the PM's wife.

Calling in a favor, somewhat retired Israeli spy Gabriel Allon is tasked to find the girl before the deadline of seven days is up. Gabriel takes the job but soon becomes more concerned about Madeline's safety than her lover seems to be. I happen to be reading this right now and it's quite the rollicking ride. For a fast paced and smartly written thriller, The English Girl is a mental matinee worth attending:

 For those seeking a historical drama or an epic film,Philippa Gregory's series of novels about the War of the Roses(aka The Cousins' War) have become the basis of a miniseries airing on the Starz channel this month.

If you don't have Starz,however,that doesn't mean you have to miss out. Three of the books in the series are readily available in paperback and you should start with The White Queen,which covers the life and times of Elizabeth Woodville,whose unlikely marriage to conquering king Edward IV of the house of York sparks much of the drama to come.

 Then,you should follow up with The Red Queen that features Margaret Beaufort, whose path to power is blocked by Woodville's ascension and believes that it is her divine destiny to place her son Henry Tudor upon the throne of England.

The third book added to the miniseries adaptation is The Kingmaker's Daughter and that showcases Anne Neville,whose sister Isobel is manipulated by their ambitious father into marrying Edward's brother George.

Anne becomes the wife of Richard III and hopes to find some peace but all too soon,the power plays by the men in her life leave her with very little chance of that.

There are other titles in the Cousins' War saga to enjoy as well(Lady of the Waters and The White Princess) but this triptych of regal  ladies making their own moves in the warfare that their noble men engage in makes for quite the battle royale:

  To satisfy those cravings for superhero fare, Carrie Vaughn offers an engagingly unique look at the genre in After The Golden Age. The heroine of this story is Celia West, the daughter of Commerce City's two greatest heroes,Captain Olympus and Spark, who was born without any super powers.

While growing up in the shadow of her parents(not to mention favorite hostage of super villains and mega criminals),Celia's career path as an adult goes to the seemingly mundane realm of forensic accounting. By staying out of the super power spotlight, Celia hopes to find some sort of normal life on her own terms.

 Her keen skills with numbers,however,brings her back into the family fold as her parents' most deadly opponent,The Destructor, is on trial for tax evasion. Celia's reluctant role in this case threatens to open up a can of personal worms but more secrets regarding the true origins of her parents' powers are on the verge of being revealed as well.

I've talked about this book before and if you haven't read it yet, now is the time to do so. If anything,it'll give you and your comic book buddies something other to discuss than which movie was more violent,the latest Wolverine or the newest Superman:

  So, even if you do manage to see a summer movie or two before September is upon us, there are still plenty of good relaxing reads that will entertain you just as well. At the very least, you'll have a lot to share with your book club once this season is over or for that "What I Read This Summer" book report in the fall:


Thaddeus said...

Having found your site, and enjoying your End of Days review so much (I like the movie because seeing Arnold get beat up is almost as cool as watching him pronounce large words and holding an Xmas ornament and crying), I'm reading through more of your posts.

This is a fine entry. I'm a big believer of telling people to read more. It was listening to Nicholas Meyer, the director of Star Trek II, that I heard my idea articulated perfectly. He noted that your mind makes a painting move, or gives images to a piece of music, but movies do all the work for you (save touch, taste, and smell).

And it's true: what your mind adds to a work - especially a book - is necessarily more frightening, erotic, or sad than what you are given by an audio-visual medium.

Generally, I would rather read a book over seeing its film counterpart. And it's not healthy, for mind or body, to be constantly staring at a screen. Since so many of us do that for work already, it's all the more important to remember to read a book every now and then. I'll add After the Golden Age to my reading list, all thanks to you...

lady t said...

Hey,Thaddeus-glad to see you becoming a regular reader of LRG! Promoting good books is a big part of what this blog does and I do a bimonthly preview of upcoming titles(have one planned for September/October around the end of this month),so I hope you check out that.

I also do a TV Thursday round-up of shows that I currently watch and while some of them may not be everyone's cup of tea(the programs being highlighted at the moment are Top Chef Masters,Under The Dome and True Blood)but clips are provided when available,so you might want to look at that as well.

Hope you enjoy After The Golden Age, Carrie Vaughn is an excellent author and if you haven't tried her series of Kitty the werewolf titles, I also urge you to sample the first two(Kitty And The Midnight Hour and Kitty Goes To Washington)novels. It's a shame that more smartly written werewolf stories aren't well translated to either the big or the small screen and this is coming from a major vampire fan!

Anyway,thanks for your feedback and look forward to hearing from you again,

Lady T

Thaddeus said...

My pleasure! I haven't watched any of those shows (my love of cooking shows lived and died with the original Iron Chef) - save part of Under the Dome's premiere. It's not always easy to catch up on TV without a DVR, and CBS is notorious for being hard/impossible to catch online.

I will be very into the lit posts, though, and I will check out Vaughn's work later, in due time - I have one hell of a reading backlog.

My blog - a dark mirror to your own - has 4 posts per week. I usually go with 1 review, 1 cool fan-made work from around the web, 1 weekly question, and 1 random entry. I get indie DVD screeners to review and I've been doing two per week lately to vary my format. I also have some bi-weekly features.

I like your writing a lot, so I'll be chiming in as I can...

Randwilkes said...

The English Girl was my introduction to Silva's work, and it came to me from a funny angle - I was looking into the politics of the current debate in congress regarding the powers of the NSA, when I happened upon an interview (archived version on the Book report radio show's website). Silva is extremely politically outspoken, and it shone throughout this book. With Snowden in Russia it's almost as though Silva predicted the future. In the interview he also conceded that he bases his themes / stories on pertinent news-headlines. A very topical read if you like.