Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, June 27, 2016

Packing up a picnic basket of July and August reads

A lot of crazy things are going on in the world right now and while we are in the midst of many changes, the one solid thing that you can always count on is a good book to read.

That doesn't mean you can't be concerned with what's happening out there, it just means that you also need to take a bookish break from the daily flood of headlines and social media memes.  A refreshing dip into literary waters can really clear your head and heart in order to prepare for what's to come.

With July and August not too far ahead of us, there are plenty of brand new books on the way, enough to fill a picnic basket of page turning goodies to enjoy as we settle down in the shade of the season:


 Liane Moriarty has done well with her sharp social dramas on the bestseller lists and her upcoming novel Truly,Madly, Guilty promises to be just as wickedly juicy.

The story is centered around an incident at a neighborhood barbecue, where three sets of friends are still feeling the aftereffects of. Erika and Oliver were planning to ask Erika's childhood friend Clementine a huge favor that would change the course of their marriage but thanks to receiving a spur of the moment invite from their rather well-to-do neighbor Vid, that became impossible to do.

They're not the only ones to suffer from that careless accident which was due in part to the adult neglect and a child's near miss. Moriarty often paints a compelling picture of middle class flaws and foibles and her latest portrait should be just as picture perfect(July):

 Melanie Raabe's debut novel The Trap has quite the meaty meta premise. Reclusive author Linda Conrads decides to release her long awaited new novel,only this one has a special purpose. She wrote it in order to capture the man she fervently believes is her sister Anna's killer.

As Linda sets her literary plan into motion, she also allows journalist Victor Lenzen to have an exclusive interview with her, suspecting him to be more involved with the case than he claims to be. As the two of them circle each other while the book is becoming a hot topic in the press, Linda wonders if she was right about who her true target is.

This sounds like a smart and snappy thrill ride with a few fun twists along the way. Plus, it's a debut novel and if we're lucky, we may get a whole lot more from this engaging newcomer(July):


 The husband and wife team of Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe take a foodie focus on a portion of American history that still affects our culinary way of life. In A Square Meal, they look at the aftereffects of the Great Depression upon food consumption and social change, such as school lunch programs and food stamps.

The rapid turn from hearty farm fresh meals to making do with leftovers and frozen foods is also on the table, and yes, there are a few recipes from that era that are included. As we are examining our own food choices these days, this well prepped look back at such a major fork in the road ought to be on our reading menu(August):


 Memories of the past make up a large portion of the story in Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson as a visit to an old neighborhood revives the 1970s for our leading lady August.

August and her younger brother moved from Tennessee as children and grew up in Brooklyn without their mother,who was having difficulty getting over a death in the family. While that hit hard upon August as she reached her teen years, she did manage to form a circle of female friends that helped her deal with the various conflicts of each other's lives.

Now returning to bury her father, August reflects upon those times with Sylvia, Gigi and Angela and wonders where it went wrong  between them all. Or did it all become right in the end? This is Woodson's first novel for adults and the acclaimed, award winning author of children's literature brings her full game and then some to this new literary setting(August).

Jennifer Close takes a look at how politics can make unlikely friendships flourish in The Hopefuls, as Beth and her ambitious husband Matt move from New York to Washington D.C. as he takes a job in the new Obama administration.

As Matt struggles to keep up with his more successful work buddy Jimmy, Beth winds up making friends with Jimmy's wife Ash, who really helps her deal with the new social scene that they're both in.

When the foursome move to Texas as Jimmy decides to run for public office there with Matt as his campaign manager, the ties of friendship begin to fray. Especially between Beth and Ash(now preferring to be called Ashleigh), who find that they have less in common than they realized. This mix of humor and politics, plus a dash of friendship drama, should make for a sparkling current events cocktail this summer season(July):


 For the past few months, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has been dolloping out slivers of his new historical fiction,Belgravia, online. For those who prefer to have their story telling cake in one complete piece, the hardcover edition will be available by July 5th.

The plot follows a family going through enormous changes and challenges in England of the 1840s, yet many of these new beginnings start way back in 1815. During the Duchess of Richmond's ball on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, things are set into motion that will affect the lives of several of the guests for some time to come.

I suspect this new saga will be satisfying to Downton Abbey fans yet also appeal to a new set of readers who like to savor the rich flavors of historical drama. Whether or not this new Fellowes tale becomes a made for television event, it's more than likely this book certainly will be a welcome escape from the dreariness of midsummer TV(July):

Hopefully, some of these books may whet your summer reading appetite and give you reason to go outside this warm weather season, if only to a bookstore or library.  While it may be tempting to avoid the humid haze of summer completely, keeping a few social plans is good for your spirits unless you're going to be bored silly in the heat. In that case, a good book is the right place for staying cool and having fun:

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