Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

My page turning progress during this Winter's Respite

We're at the half way mark with the Winter's Respite readathon and it looks as if many folks are enjoying this special time with their selected stack of books.

As for me, I have finished two books, working on two more and have added an extra title onto this particular TBR. Not too shabby, as they say, and I'd like to share my thoughts with you all about what I've read and am reading so far:

 The first book that I completed for this challenge was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a debut novel by Gail Honeyman that has gotten a lot of positive word of mouth and critical praise, not to mention some notice from Reese Witherspoon's book club(and yes, she's planning to turn this book into a movie).

The title lady of this story lives a quiet life in London, working in the financial department of a small PR firm, keeping mostly to herself with only a plant in her apartment for company and her regular weekend plans involving vodka.

Despite her firm resolve to remain apart from others, Eleanor is drawn to the outer world by two men; one , a singer that she develops a crush on and the other a co-worker named Raymond from the IT department. When she and Raymond find themselves helping an elderly man who fell down in the street, an unexpected friendship develops that brings Eleanor into the society of a wider set of people willing to accept her on her own terms.

However, Eleanor has emotional as well as physical scars, the inner ones coming from a traumatic event in her childhood at the hands of her vicious mother. While she has managed to make something of a life in the wake of that aftermath, it becomes apparent that Eleanor does need and deserves to improve her situation and it does takes some help from a good friend or two to achieve that.

While this story does have it's humorous moments(Eleanor is engagingly blunt at times), there is a good amount of sadness here and yet, I did not find this book depressing. You root for Eleanor right away and going along with her on this journey toward emotional renewal is a trip worth taking. Things are not neatly wrapped up with a bow, which is right and proper, and there is no big romance that heals her heart, also a check in the plus column there.

EOICF is a satisfying read and while it may not be the perfect book for everyone, every one who does read it can easily relate to such a solidly told tale of the heart. I know that many of the fans that Gail Honeyman has made here will be eager to see what she comes up with next and I happily join their number:

Next up was Jasmine Guillory's The Proposal, a book that I was anxious to get to in order to relive the run of reading her earlier novel,The Wedding Date. The story starts with Nikole, who is seriously considering breaking up with her boring hunk of a current boyfriend, Fisher. The thrill is long gone after five months with his good looking but not much to talk about self.

However, she is stunned when Fisher decides to propose marriage to her at a Dodgers game, in big Jumbotron style. When that request is refused, Nikole is about to be ambushed by the media and is given a surprise save by two good hearted siblings, Carlos and Angela.

After Carlos helps her get out of Dodge, so to speak, he and Nik start up what each of them intend to be a casual romance. As time goes on, the two of them grow closer than expected and revealing their true feelings about one another may be more daunting than getting out of a public popping of the question.

Guillory is two for two here, with her smartly drawn characters and their lively dialogue that make for a realistic yet sweetly romantic story(with the right amount of sexy time spice thrown into the mix). She also doesn't stint on the supporting characters, making both Nik's best gal pals and Carlos' family into more than sideline cheerleaders to their love connection.

You don't have to have had read The Wedding Date(although those lead characters do pay a visit) to appreciate this but why deprive yourself of a matched set of wonderful reads? Guillory has a wonderful way with words and wit, making her a must-read for book clubs and those seeking a real romance to sink their story telling teeth into:

At the moment, my current WR reads include an Agatha Christie(The ABC Murders) and a book from last year, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.

Set in the Georgian era, we begin with widowed London merchant, Jonah Hancock, who is shocked to say the least when the captain of his most recent trading ship arrives with only the preserved body of a mermaid as the sole prize.

Determined to make the most of this potential misfortune, he has this unusual creature displayed at a local coffeehouse where her small and scarily scaly appearance brings in a good amount of paying customers willing to pay for a look. This attention draws the interest of Mrs. Chappell, a celebrated madam whose "nunnery" has seen better days. She rents Mr. Hancock's mermaid for her establishment, the main selling point being the high class clientele who he can make social connections with.

To further entice his interest, Mrs. Chappell enlists the aid of Angelica Neal, a down on her luck courtesan who got her start with that less than good lady. While Mr. Hancock is instantly smitten with Angelica, the feeling is far from mutual:

That first meeting appears to be a one time instance but after Mr. Hancock changes his mind about having the mermaid at Mrs. Chappell's and Angelica soon in need of a truly suitable suitor, the two of them are brought together again. The mermaid that unites them in a common interest to change their lives for the better also holds the promise of undoing them,as well as many others, for the worst.

I'm midway into this novel and it's quite the riveting debut. Hermes Gowar has done a remarkable amount of research into the time period and is also blessed with the knack for creating such vividly alive characters into this narrative, a magic as potent as any mythical being could possess.

While the mermaid in question is not the traditional deep sea beauty, her silent allure lingers in the atmosphere of the book as a warning to those who do not wish to listen that such enchantments come with a price that mere mortals may not wish to pay. Yes, I am hooked as any fish by this historically creative tale and hope that many more will be just as happy to be caught in this narrative net:

Odds are that I'll be finished with The ABC Murders before TMAMH(the former is shorter, page wise), which leaves me with two books left for Winter's Respite.

However, I just had to add one more. Since I read Kiertsen White's take on Elizabeth Frankenstein for a prior readathon and happen to be a big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, there was no doubt that her new novel set in the Buffy realm would be a must have for me.

Slayer takes place well after the final TV season of BTVS and the follow up graphic novel series that had the source of all magic vanquished from our world. However, that doesn't mean that danger from nonhuman forces is gone for good. While it seems that another Chosen One will not appear, the daughter of one of the last Watchers is tapped for that dubious honor.

This story looks like a grand excuse to dive back into Buffy lore and the edition that I picked up has a bonus short story told from the point of view of Faith, the true opposite of Buffy in more ways than one. Hanging out with these legendary lady killers should certainly warm up the cold winter nights to come indeed:

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