Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Setting up some Beach Book Bingo for July and August of 2017

We're officially into summer, with the July Fourth weekend(which is rather long this year,thanks to the holiday being on a Tuesday) just around the corner. 

This is the time when folks began their serious vacation plans or simply arrange a little at-home leisure time to enjoy a brief break from the everyday world and these days, we certainly need to do just that.

I know that a few people hear the term "beach books" and think it's all lighthearted fare,which it can be, yet it doesn't have to mean mindless entertainment. You can have some solid food for thought with your page turning excitement-think Wonder Woman, not Michael Bay's endless Transformers movies! Don't get me wrong, I like blockbuster fare as well but when it comes to finding good reads this July and August, you can mix and match a bit:

SISTERS IN SUSPENSE: In Riley Sager's upcoming novel Final Girls, we met Quincy, who is resisting the title label given to her by the media upon being the lone survivor of a cabin-in-the-woods murder spree ten years ago.

While rebuilding her life and establishing a successful baking blog, Quincy makes a few friends who have gone through similar experiences and when one of them dies under suspicious circumstances, Samantha appears on her doorstep.

 She's also a Final Girl who thinks they need to stick together yet Quincy begins to wonder what her true motives are, not to mention trying to recall those lost memories of that deadly decade old encounter from her own past. This sounds like a great thrill ride that could offer plenty of scary and savvy twists and turns along the way(July):

 POWERFUL PERIOD DRAMAS:  Linnea Hartsuyker takes us back to the days of the Vikings in her debut novel, The Half Drowned King, which tells of a separated brother and sister who fight to reunite.

Ragnvald is meant to inherit his family's lands but in a betrayal arranged by his stepfather Olaf, he is left for dead on the high seas. Upon being rescued and aided by a fisherman, he seeks revenge and restoration of his birthright.

Meanwhile, his sister Svanhild is being forced into a loveless marriage by Olaf and when an opportunity opens up for her to break free, she grasps it strongly, despite having to rely on Solvi, the man who was a major ally in betraying her brother. As each sibling makes their way towards home, their choices are harder to make yet not impossible to survive.

 Hartsuyker was inspired by a potential ancestor of hers in bringing this legendary tale to modern day life and it may become a literary saga worth investing in, especially since this classic tale of a man wronged shares equal footing with one of a woman seeking her own destiny(August):

Molly Patterson's debut novel follows four generations of women in more than one country in Rebellion. starting with Addie, an American missionary who goes missing during the Boxer Rebellion, leaving her sister Louisa to wonder about what happened to her.

As Louisa's own daughter Hazel learns to deal with unexpected loss and the consequences of her own choices, it takes many decades later for the question of Addie's ultimate fate to be brought back to the surface. Some of those answers may come from Juanlan, a college student in modern day China who has to put her dreams on hold to help her family.

An emotional journey that packs punch is what's promised here and I have a strong feeling that it delivers as Patterson is giving us a set of women who still persisted despite what life has thrown in their path(August).

A PURR-FECT FRENEMY: Tim Hanley follows up his excellent histories of Wonder Woman and Lois Lane with another major feminine player in the DC Comics universe. As the subtitle suggests, The Many Lives of Catwoman
dives deep into the "felonious history" of Batman's most challenging foe, one that reflects his inner conflict with his outer duality all too well.

As Hanley shows,however, Catwoman,aka Selina Kyle, is more than just a sinister love interest for the Caped Crusader. Over the years, she's become her own unique persona and had her own series of comic book stories that don't rely on the Dark Knight to support her. Rather, her inclination to become an antiheroine at times has made her an icon of female independence.

In addition to her print and animated incarnations, Hanley also explores the live action versions of Catwoman, from Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether to Michelle Pffeifer's ground breaking performance and the recent Anne Hathaway depiction, proving that unlike her feline avatar, this character has more than nine lives in her(July):

 DOWN HOME DRAMA: The leading man in Matthew Quick's latest novel, The Reason You're Alive, is David Granger, a 68 year old Vietnam vet who learns that he has a brain tumor after his latest car accident.

While he blames that particular ailment on Agent Orange, David finds that there is a wrong that he committed and must make right from those dark days and with the help of his friend Sue, he seeks a former soldier named Clayton Fire Bear, a name he kept repeating during his stay in the hospital.

Along the way, David tries to reconnect with his adult son Hank, whose art dealer ways are confusing to him, as well as granddaughter Ella who reminds him of what humanity he has left.

Quick's offbeat approach to characters in familiar yet unique circumstances should resonate well with this sore spot in our American history, plus remind us of just how complicated the emotional impact of war upon the people who have to deal it with directly can be(July):

 An old friendship is renewed in Patti Callahan Henry's The Bookshop at Water's Edge, with a few old secrets as well. Bonny Blankenship has fond memories of her South Carolina summers with Lainey McKay, the two of them finding safe harbor at the local bookstore run by Mimi, a woman who sees more than she tells.

With Bonny at age fifty questioning her life choices and wanting to help her daughter Piper deal with a serious mistake she made, the two of them meet up with Lainey and her children back at their former childhood haunts.

 Their reunion brings about joy and sorrow, as Lainey still wonders about her mother's mysterious disappearance that occurred that  long ago summer that has never been resolved. If you're in the need of a good story of friendship,family and summer time bliss, you are in the right place indeed(July).

Hopefully, the remainder of this summer will bring us more good times than bad, but even if they don't, having a good book on hand can make all the difference in the world. At the very least, it's a great distraction from those seasonal annoyances that want to get in the way of your true fun in the sun:

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