Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

A slice of Birthday Book Haul cake with a lemony Library layer

So, my birthday was the other day and it was a very nice day indeed. My sister and I went to lunch, I watched an episode of the new MST3K(The Christmas That Almost Wasn't) and we had a lovely family dinner. All in all, a pretty good time.

While my actual birthday cake did not have a book related design, I did get a sweet haul of books as gifts. Before that, I did pick up a couple of promising reads at the library a couple of days earlier, making this a rather rich pile of literary goodness to enjoy. I'll start with my library selections as the icing to my delicious platter of reading treats:

THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN: With Starz showing a new miniseries based on the works of Philippa Gregory, I was in the mood for one of her regal re-tellings and while this particular book is not connected to the War of the Cousins novels that have been adapted lately, it is vintage Gregory material.

The queen of the title is Kateryn Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII and this marriage was her third go-round. While her family is delighted to have Kate in such a high position to promote their agenda, she is less than thrilled for many reasons. One of those reasons is Thomas Seymour, a brother in law of Henry's who is loathe to give her up.

Kateryn is well aware of the need to stay on her mercurial husband's good side, which is not easy considering his need to be seen as the dashing young man he once was rather than the ailing older glutton he has become. While watching her step, she manages to make a few moves of her own by using her intellectual nature to make a few changes for the better.

My first Philippa Gregory was The Other Boleyn Girl and although I've read several other of her works, I still enjoy her Tudor tales the best. This look at the last of the infamous brides of Henry the Eighth should be enlightening as well as engaging:

THE PRICE OF SALT:  This Patricia Highsmith novel was the basis for the 2015 movie Carol, which I meant to see but have not so far. I'm hoping that reading the book will lead me in that direction, as the film version of Talented Mr. Ripley had me reading Highsmith in the first place.

The 1952 novel was published under a pen name, as it depicted a romance between an older woman,Carol, whose marriage is dissolving and Therese, a young shop girl who impulsively starts up a friendship with her.

The two of them fall in love and try to keep their relationship a secret, not an easy thing to do as Carol's ex husband is looking for any excuse to deny her custody of  their daughter. In a way, it's sad that such themes are still seen as controversial but the intense power of Highsmith's writing rises above any small minded views on such things and I look forward to catching up with both the book and film:

Now for my birthday books, which I thank my little sister for most sincerely. I was truly delighted to see Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a book that I have been waiting for ever since I read her first novel Free Food for Millionaires.

In this book, she traces the lives of several generations of a Korean family that finds their fortune in Japan, with one son pursuing his scholarly ambitions while the other does well with a chain of gambling parlors that feature the pinball like game of the title.

However, there are a few secrets and lies to be discovered along with the cultural displacement that comes with living in a country that is not seen as your true homeland. The reviews, both print and word of mouth, have been wonderful and this book is definitely going to be the gift that keep on giving for me:

Also happy to receive Fredrik Backman's Britt-Marie Was Here, as I recently finished A Man Called Ove(need to see that movie too!).

The leading lady of this novel often resorts to cleaning and organizing messy homes as a way to connect with others but has a mess on her own hands upon finding out about her husband's adultery.

 Britt-Marie decides to move out and settles down in the small town of Borg, a place that barely functions as a community with little to no resources for the few remaining citizens there. Keeping herself busy by restoring the abandoned community center, Britt-Marie gets to know the locals well, including a couple of orphaned children looking for someone to coach their failing soccer team.

It may be too soon to tell but I have a feeling that Backman is going to join the ranks of my favorite authors there, with such heartfelt characters and story telling skills that bring true delight:

 When this book was given to me, I had to start it right away(which is not cheating on my Spring Into Horror readathon since it's non-fiction, in my mind anyway).

 While I'm not sure if Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine was a source used for the FX series Feud, it certainly provides plenty of extra insights into what made Bette Davis and Joan Crawford battle on and off screen the way they did.

This edition is an updated one, with two new chapters and a photo spread, and it's like stepping into the pages of a glossy movie magazine from the golden days of Hollywood. Unlike those zines, this book is not shy about showcasing the behind the scenes tension or expanding the biographical backgrounds of two of the biggest cinematic divas and what drove them to fight for top billing in more ways than one:

This was a great birthday and for that, I wholeheartedly thank my family and friends.  Granted, some of them would say that I have enough books to build a house with and/or decorate one but that sounds like the perfect compliment to me:

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