Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Setting up your literary school supplies for September/October

With Labor Day weekend fast on our heels, some serious back to school shopping is under way and for those of us who have no immediate need for entering this scholastic fray, making up our TBR piles for the fall is the next best thing.

September and October do offer quite a bit of reading goodness to choose from but hopefully this little list of recommendations will outfit you with a smart set of fictional fare to showcase among your fellow students of literary lore:


 In Imogen Hermes Gowar's debut novel,The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, a merchant in Georgian England learns to make do with what he's got. Jonah Hancock has been carrying on the family business of  trade and doing rather well  in his own cautious way.

However, when one of his trading ship captains sells off all of the valuable cargo onboard for what is believed to be a mermaid, Jonah fears that his fortunes will not be around for the next generation. This turn of events forces him to team up with the most unlikely of allies; Mrs. Chappell, the owner of a well known for catering to the upper classes brothel.

As Mrs. Chappell is able to use her establishment to display Hancock's mermaid, he finds himself indebted to her in more ways than one. One of those ways has Angelica Neal crossing his path. Angelica's courtesan charms are not enough to pay her debts and so, a husband is needed with Jonah being convinced to take that role, leading to even more unexpected consequences.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock was up for the Women's Prize for Fiction when it first arrived in the U.K. and will no doubt make quite the splash over here. Such a savvy look at people of the past deserves a good look by readers in the present to see just how an age old wonder can inspire the best and worst in us all(Sept):

When Carlos Ruiz Zafron's epic The Shadow of the Wind first arrived on the scene, readers were intrigued and enchanted by his cast of characters who found themselves connected by the fabled Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

Three books later, the fourth and possibly final chapter has been written. The Labyrinth of The Spirits follows what may be the last case for investigator Alicia Gris to solve for the city of Madrid, the disappearance of Spain's Minister of Culture.

Teamed up with patrolman Juan Manuel Vargas, Alicia realizes that a vital clue to this mystery is a rare book hidden in the minister's home. This discovery leads to several imprisoned writers and also to renowned book seller Juan Sempere, who knew Alicia's parents very well. As she goes further in her inquiries, Alicia discovers a series of deaths meant to cover up a dreadful deception, one that could shake the foundations of a country
still recovering from a civil war.

Zafron's elegant prose and immersive characters weave a wonderful spell of a story, one that you hope never truly ends, despite this being supposedly the last-we shall see(Sept).


Author Patti Callahan explores the life and times of a female poet whose name is best known by the man she married for the second and last time. Becoming Mrs. Lewis introduces us to Joy Davidson when she is still living in America in an unhappy marriage.

Reconsidering her faith, she begins a correspondence with Oxford professor and writer C.S. Lewis, a friendship that grows with each letter between them. Joy eventually goes to England but her romance with Lewis doesn't truly start until she gets divorced and finds her own inner peace as well as artistic voice.

This trend of novels about women kept on the literary sidelines(such as The Paris Wife) that takes them into the spotlight they deserve is a good one and Callahan's contribution to this engaging genre promises to be entertaining and enlightening indeed(Oct):

The leading lady of Kitty Zeldis' Not Our Kind is sadly gotten too used to prejudice in a post WWII New York. Eleanor Moskowitz is on her way to yet another interview for a teaching position when an accident puts her in the path of Patricia Bellamy.

As luck would have it, Patricia is in need of a tutor for her ailing daughter Margaux and despite worrying about what her husband might think, she hires Eleanor, who turns out to be perfect for the job.

Patricia and Eleanor do form a friendship that isn't too held back by their social circles but worlds collide when Eleanor becomes romantically involved with Tom, Patricia's brother who prefers to ignore the restrictions that society places on him. Can these two women find their own way in life and yet still be friends?

Zeldis focuses on the Upstairs,Downstairs structure of New York society in the late 1940s with an eagle eye yet highlights the similar struggles of women expected to live up to whatever standards their little corner of the world has in store for them. A sharp look at love and friendship that hopefully uplifts both of it's heroines(Sept).


 If you can't get to Broadway, Broadway must come to you,preferably in book form. The creators of the award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen have combined their talents with author Val Emmich to write a YA adaptation for fans and newcomers alike to embrace.

Evan Hansen never meant his lie about knowing recently deceased Connor Murphy to go so far out of hand. However, his new found popularity and the emotional void that he's filling for the Murphy family makes it hard to confess the truth.

While the sudden attention grows bigger and goes viral, Evan has to ultimately decide when and to whom he reveals the real story to before that decision is taken out of his hands. This book should be as touching and engaging as the stage version with the added bonus of a soundtrack already waiting in the wings(Oct):

Author Syrie James and her son Ryan have created a new YA fantasy series, with the second entry Embolden ready to follow up where the first book,Forbidden, left off.

Claire Brennan has learned of her unearthly origins and with her guardian boyfriend Alec by her side, she hopes to be as normal a teenager as she can. However, that is easier said than done.

Between school rivalries, foes from their past and Claire developing a new power that's hard to control, this love match may not be made in heaven there. Hopefully, a little love can make things right but their relationship is a strange twist of fate to begin with.

I've read Syrie James' Jane Austen themed novels and her vampire fiction(Dracula, My Love) so I have no doubt that these books are engaging fun. Nice to see her working with her son as talent does run in the blood and collaborations of the creative kind are rewarding for writers and readers alike(Oct).

Well, I hope that last blast of summer lets you enjoy some vacation goodness and that your back to school shopping is less stressful with the promise of new reads. See you all in September!:



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