Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Starting off a new year of reading with some January/February reads

The arrival of a fresh new year means different things to different people and for literary lovers, this means a whole new stack of books to sort through.

This particular list of upcoming releases for January and February of 2015 is particularly novel heavy but with all that's going on right now, I think we can take a mini-break from non fiction for awhile.

Not to discourage anyone from grabbing up a biography or other real world interest tome(some of us do have gift cards to use and clearance sales to check out) yet on the other hand, you might find a serious work of fiction just as substantial as any non fictional title out there. Hopefully, one or two of these awaiting fictional works will suit your seasonal self very nicely:


Journalist Dmitry Elias Leger takes a real world event as the inspiration for his debut novel God Loves Haiti, which centers it's story line around the major earthquake that struck that nation in 2010.

One of the people who didn't expect such a thing to happen is Natasha, who is planning to escape her husband and flee the country without her lover(who happens to be locked in her bedroom closet). As she is about to take off for a new life in Italy, her husband catches her at the airport just as the quake strikes, changing thousands of lives in an instant.

As she goes through the ruins, Natasha finds herself wondering what direction in life to take next as the rest of her nation struggles to rise from the ashes. A powerful subject that should stir plenty of heartfelt discussion amongst readers(January) .

A much lighter look at the past comes from Nick Hornby, as his latest novel Funny Girl pops back to London of the 1960s. Barbara Parker longs to be the next Lucille Ball, so instead of sticking with her local beauty pageant win, she cashes it in for a ticket to London.

Barbara manages to snag a spot on a BBC sitcom, due to good fortune and a name change. Now as Sophie Straw, she sets out to take the television world by storm but how long her luck will last is anyone's guess. Hornby's rich humor combined with an inside look at British TV should be a pop culture delight to behold(February):


Carrie Synder takes us on an emotional journey in Girl Runner as her 104 year old leading lady,Aganetha "Aggie" Smart, is taking off on one last adventure.

In 1928, Aggie was one of the top female runners in the Olympics, even winning a gold medal for her home country of Canada. However, that victory didn't lead to a life of glamor and acclaim, due to several personal tragedies that drew her into seclusion.

Now, languishing in a nursing home seemingly forgotten, two young people arrive,claiming to be relatives, and whisk Aggie off as part of their film project about former female athletes. Aggie may not be as limber as she used to be but her mind is still somewhat alert and she's willing to see where this unexpected trip plans to take her.

I'm reading this book right now and it is very smartly stimulating prose. Synder's narrative has Aggie going over memories of her past while occasionally checking in on her current situation, which makes you step lively across the pages to keep pace. Girl Runner is an engaging book so far and I hope many folks will take this inventive run some time soon(February):


A Spool of Blue Thread showcases the life of a Baltimore family over more than one generation as Anne Tyler crafts the history of the Whitshank clan, from 1936 when their homestead was built to 1959 when current matriarch Abby met her future husband Red and into the next century.

While the family has their share of love and sorrow, it's the often told tales  of their communal past that keeps their hopes alive during the worst of times. Tyler is one of those authors I dip in and out of, with her humble depictions of middle class people being oddly alluring for me at certain moments.

From what I know of this upcoming book, A Spool of Blue Thread may very well be worth unwinding as it illustrates the quiet nature of family turbulence(February):

Family secrets abound in Kate Riordan's Fiercombe Manor, as young Alice Eveleigh is sent off in disgrace to the English estate of the title in 1933, with her family hoping that the shame of her illegitimate pregnancy will be well hidden there.

During her stay, Alice discovers the writings of a former mistress of the household, Elizabeth Stanton, who had an unfortunate pregnancy of her own some thirty years before. As time goes on, Alice fears that the past may be repeating itself and that she and her expected child may suffer for it.

If you want a dose of Downton Abbey blended with the Gothic suspense of Rebecca, this eerie tale may be your perfect cup of chilling tea(February):


F. Scott Fitzgerald's adventures in Hollywood are the focus of Stewart O'Nan's latest novel, West of Sunset.  F. Scott spent the last three years of his life there as a screenwriter and this story follows him about the movie making landscape of the day.

As he rubs elbows with film stars , romances a brash gossip columnist and  attempts to reconnect with his disjointed family, F. Scott does his level best to retain some sobriety in order to fuel the last remnants of his art but such personal resolve seems to have left him long ago.

For those intrigued by either Hollywood of this age or Fitzgerald's legacy(or both), this book is a reel to real double feature that you'll want to pop some corn for(January):

 I wish you all a Happy New Year of books and may your worst dilemma in that department be figuring out what to buy( it can't be said enough, there's no such thing as too many books!):

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