Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

A batch of bookish treats to serve up on Mother's Day

As Mother's Day weekend grows near, the choice of presents to buy for this occasion may feel way too standard. Sure, your mom will be happy to receive the usual card/flowers/candy combo but for that gift that keeps on giving, there is nothing like a book.

With that in mind, I have a few suggestions that might help making your holiday shopping a bit easier and maybe you can get an extra copy for your own reading pleasure. First up is a biography of one of the most prominent women in Hollywood who did her best work behind the scenes.

Stephen Galloway's Leading Lady profiles the life and career of Sherry Lansing, who became the first female head of a major film studio in 1980 and her influence brought us such game changing movies as Fatal Attraction, Forrest Gump and The Hours.

 From her childhood days in Chicago to a brief acting stint that landed her a script reader job with producer and future mentor Ray Wagner, Lansing's path through the murky corporate pitfalls and sexist setbacks is well documented. There's plenty of insight into dealing with major stars like Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas and Dustin Hoffman(who was difficult, to say the least) as well as what lead Lansing to leave Hollywood in order to create a cancer research foundation.

You always hear a lot of talk about women in Hollywood but not always their side of the story and this biography is smartly showcasing one of the sharpest ladies that Tinsel Town has ever seen:

Next, we have a salute to those colorful ladies of comic book lore. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson does more than highlight the mainstream heroines from superhero stories and cartoon friendly creations, it also showcases throughout the decades many of the unsung female leads who paved the way for others to follow.

From Torchy Brown in the 1930s to the likes of Miss Fury during the '40s, we get an introduction to a variety of women and girls with super powers or just super smarts and attitude such as Tomboy, Amanda Waller, Ramona Flowers and the current Ms. Marvel, who make their mark on the times and inspire the next generation of readers along the way.

One of the best aspects of the book is a note for each entry that tells you the availability(or lack thereof) of these characters, some of whom will be hard to find. Based on the amazing backstories that Nicholson provides in this beautifully styled book, these fine ladies will definitely be worth the time and effort to discover their amazing adventures:

For some fictional fare, I wholeheartedly recommend My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman.

The story is told through the eyes of Elsa, a smarter than average almost-eight-year-old girl with a vivid imagination and no other friends than her Granny, who tells her elaborate fairy tales and is willing to do anything to help her granddaughter cheer up after a bad day at school, including breaking into a zoo at night.

Upon her grandmother's passing away, Elsa discovers that she is meant to carry out her Granny's last wishes, namely apology letters for their neighbors whose ties to her family are deeper than she knows. Using her forthright nature and aided by a dog she refers to as a "wurse"(one of the creatures from Granny's stories), Elsa learns a lot about life and how to deal with the hard times that come with it, along with the many grown-ups she encounters along the way.

Yes, the book is sad at times but it's also funny and sweet at unexpected moments. Elsa is an amazing character who comes across as charming,annoying and realistic all at once, not an easy thing to do there. With her love of Harry Potter and knack for seeing the truth in fiction, she's a heroine of epic emotional portions whose journey is as harrowing at times as her favorite literary character is yet uses a very different sort of magic indeed:

If you have a historical fiction fan in your mom, aunt or grandmother, she may enjoy one of  the newest Philippa Gregory sagas. Three Sisters,Three Queens shows the ties that bind and divide among a trio of Tudor ladies, starting with Margaret who becomes the Queen of Scotland and Katherine of Aragon, her sister in law.

Margaret's younger sister Mary becomes a pawn between them as the power plays made by both realms pit them and their children against one another. Even when Mary becomes a queen herself, the royal rivalries only get worse until these ladies realize that they may need each other to survive.

Gregory is a marvel at highlighting the women behind the throne or beside one as they learn to fight on a much crueler battlefield than the men in their lives ever had to. In times like ours, some of those lessons may have to be relearned and hopefully for the better:

 I do hope that this list is helpful for your Mother's Day or spring book buying and if your maternal figure has more books than she can handle at the moment, just get her a nifty new book bag to carry around with her instead. A book bag is always a good gift, especially if you can find one that is truly big enough for all of those necessary reads:

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