Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A new Marvel on the superhero scene,The Guiding Light!

Just when you think soap opera storylines couldn't get any stranger,the bar is lifted to new heights. Tomorrow,there will be a new superheroine in town and her name is Guiding Light. Yes,just like the long running CBS show-the character Harley Davidson Cooper will have a little mishap that grants her superpowers and gets her clad in spandex. Here's a preview:

Marvel Comics is onboard with this( GL's costume designer created the wedding dress for Storm,the regal X-Men character,who was married to Black Panther in July)and they're putting out an 8 page comic book to tie in with this new supersudsy plot.Sounds like fun for both superhero and soap opera folk-too bad I've never watched GL before. Like many women,when I did watch soaps on TV,the ones I got into were the ones my mom watched and we were pretty much NBC folk.

I really liked Days of Our Lives(particularly during the whole Marlena/Roman love story)but wasn't watching the show when they did such fun things as having Marlena demonically possessed,on Christmas Eve of all days!:

The reigning champion of daytime drama bizarre is Passions,with it's infamous Tabitha and Timmy. Even after Timmy's departure from the show(due to the untimely death of the actor who played him),Passions is still delievering the wacky,with Tabitha having a daughter named Endora who decides to conjure up a mermaid to add to the show's romantic mix:

It's fun to see soap operas depart from the usual blackmail/secret lover/unrequited love stories and dive into the weird side of the pop culture pool. I hope that the new Marvel/GL creation does well and adds some zest to the show-wonder if they'll make an action figure of Guiding Light? That would make a nice collectable.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Saw III:Is the third time the charm?

This past weekend,horror's newest favorite son of a bitch,Jigsaw,hit the cineplexes with Saw III,continuing the dark saga of the dying serial killer who challenges some new players with his morality lesson deathtraps as well as testing the fortitude of his apprentice,Amanda(one of the best roles I've ever seen Shawnee Smith in).

In fact,it is the character relationships that provide a good deal of the tension in this chapter(along with some damn nasty torture devices);Amanda's dependance on Jigsaw to guide her is as desparate and painful as a badly stitched wound. Part of the plot involves Dr. Lynn Denlon(Bahar Soomekh),who is forced into using her skills to keep Jigsaw alive long enough to monitor the progress of new "test subject" Jeff(Angus McFadden)along his murderous maze that will lead him to the man that killed his young son in a drunk driving accident. Jeff's ultimate test is to see if he can give up his thrist for revenge and overindulged grief for his son that has broken up his marriage,life and family.

The big probelm between Amanda and her mentor is one of philosophy;his mini versions of living hell for his victims are meant to teach them the value of appreciating life and to overcome their self imposed limitations. He's kind of a sadistic Dr. Phil in that respect. Amanda,however,has strong doubts concering the ability of people to change their ways(despite her own survival of a Jigsaw test in the first film)and her emotional needs cause her to be even more deadly than the orignal puppet master himself.

While the Saw series might be easily seen as just another goreshow,it is the twisted nature of the characters as well as the gruesome Rube Goldberg like dilemmas that give the films the strong following that they have. Saw III did well this weekend(34 million and counting)and there will probaly be another sequel out in time for next Halloween. The true test for the movie's creators will be to see if they can keep the storyline stable enough to hold their audience in suspended disbelief.

Oh,and if you do dare to check Saw III out for Halloween night,you'll get to see a trailer for Hostel II. Here's the teaser,if you'd rather stay home and snack on all the leftover trick or treat candy instead:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy anniversary,Great Pumpkin

Tonight,ABC will be showing one of the Charlie Brown holiday classics,It's the Great
Pumpkin,Charlie Brown(the first of what I consider the Holy Trinity of holiday specials-the other two being the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Christmas shows)and it's also the 40th anniversary of the special. It first premiered in 1966 and is still a fine hallmark of what a good cartoon special should be.

The mistake that many other holiday themed shows make is to get all wrapped up in the theme and neglect the characters. The Great Pumpkin has a beautifully simple premise;Linus believes in a Halloween spirit who gives gifts on All Hallow's Eve and decides to test his faith by waiting out in a "sincere" pumpkin patch for him instead of going along with the typical trick or treat routine with everyone else.

His only ally is Sally(who would be considered a stalker for her romantic persistence thru out the strip)who joins him in the pumpkin patch but winds up turning on him after a long,fruitless vigil. Sad,but on the other hand Charlie Brown goes off with the others for the usual Halloween fanfare and has only a bag of rocks to show for it. Who's to say that one made a better choice over the other here?

The best part of any Peanuts special is Snoopy-he may not have much to say but he always manages to command your attention and be as expressive(or more so)than most human characters,animated or live action. No matter what,it's the Snoopy segments that are the most anticipated parts of the show. Here's a clip of the World War I Flying Ace in action:

I know all the Peanuts specials are on DVD and online but watching them on regular TV seems sacred to me. I still remember the days when the only time you could see certain things was once a year,when the networks chose to put them on. The Wizard of Oz,King Kong(channel 9 in NY used to play it on Thanksgiving Day,with Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young as a mini monster movie marathon),It's a Wonderful Life and West Side Story(usually played a day or two before Oscar Night)were annual viewing events at my house when I was younger. The Charlie Brown specials are part of my tradition as well and a good portion of many other folks',too.

It's particularly important for kids to see Peanuts,so if there's a child in your life who hasn't watched the Great Pumpkin yet,take full advantage of this prime time opportunity. And for the grown-ups,here's a fun little treat just for you:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Top Chef turmoil,the Cho brothers do the right thing on TAR and Anchal of America's Next Top Model

For the past few weeks,I've been watching America's Next Top Model with my Little Sister and while there's plenty of amusement to be found(Tyra just loves to talk,doesn't she?),I'm getting concerned about Anchal. She's a lovely girl with captivating features but she is under the delusion that she's fat(for a model)and other people keep telling her so. In last night's episode,she did a runaway challenge and was told by a woman from Elite that she"needs to tone up."

Look at the photo here on the left(the theme was romance book covers,so all the girls posed with Fabio)-does she look fat to you? I've been a large lady all my life and I know a big girl when I see one! Anchal may not be the "typical" model in figure but certainly there are plenty of high quality designer clothes that she can pose in,either for photos or the runway,and look wonderful. Why must Anchal be made to suffer more insecurities than she already has,due to some insane ideal of the bone thin perfect model? Maybe we need a new judge on this show,like Mo'nique here to tell it like it is:

On a more positive note,props to the Cho brothers from The Amazing Race for helping out David and Mary bigtime. The coalminer couple came in last on an earlier leg of the race and faced a 30 minute penalty if they didn't arrive first at the next pitstop(which could've gotten them knocked out of the competition). A Fast Forward popped up for them(a solo task that,when finished,allows you to skip all the other tasks and head right for the pitstop)and the Chos bluffed the other teams into not trying for it,to give David and Mary a shot at making it to First Place.

David and Mary did it and were spared any risk of elimination for this round. The Chos have been pretty laid back,compared to the other teams,but now those guys are on my radar and I'm rooting for them-go Cho! Peter and Sarah wound up being Philimated and looks like they're not going to be a couple anymore. Good;Peter was acting like a total jerk,not being patient with Sarah(hello,she has an artifical leg that's not working right and you make her do ALL of the climbing challenges?!)and she can do way better than him.

Top Chef is only into it's second episode and we get a big fat stew of controversy,courtesy of Otto. The challenge was for two teams to create either Korean or Vietmanese food to be served at a charity event for about a thousand people. Team Korea started off badly,by their first decision as a group being to make a batch of sangria and get drunk during the menu planning meeting. What is it with chefs and booze?

On their shopping trip(with a budget of $500),Otto slipped in a case of lychees in the car that wasn't paid for and bragged about it to Marissa,who went to judge Tom Colicchio about it. Otto made some lame excuses about the whole thing but returned the lychees to the store. The team's morale was brought down even lower and wound up losing the challenge. To be fair,the dessert that was created by Marissa was a big factor in the failure of Team Korea and she was nearly eliminated for it.

Otto's lychee nabbing was brought up again and after several more attempts to avoid responsibility,Otto took himself out of the competition. I'm glad that in the end,he did the right thing. Team Vietnam was very well organized and Betty was given a special prize of a sashimi knife that's a limited edition. Congrats to Betty and Josie,who both were shining stars on that team.

Random Notes:

Nip/Tuck: Mrs. Grubman was given a nice send-off(loved that whole bit with Christian playing her CD and having a vision of her singing with Burt Bacharach)and Sean's past facial deformity brought some new light onto his character. It was nice to see a good character based episode here. Next week,however,we get back to the current plotlines as Julia gets more intimate with Marlowe,the male nanny and Christian's life winds up in major jep,thanks to Michelle and Jackie Bisset.

Ugly Betty: Glad they didn't take too long in having Justin make a visit to Mode and interesing to see him and Marc bond(maybe that'll be a help in future storylines?). Tonight's episode is a Halloween one,where Betty is tricked into wearing a costume to work but she might be getting a new boyfriend(good!),so it all should balance out.

Veronica Mars: The show's doing well here and glad to see Weevil back(too bad he didn't last long as Keith's assistant)but still miss the original style of the opening credits. Take a look at both and tell me which one is better:

Season Two(similar to Season One):

Season Three:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Preparing to play Sacred Games for 2007

One of the most anticipated new novels for 2007 is Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games,an epic story of police officer Sataj Singh who gets a chance to take down one of the biggest crime lords in Mumbai(formerly Bombay),Ganesh Gaitonde. It's a look at modern day India,with many twists and turns and multiple plotlines that make for grand storytelling.

Chandra spent several years working on this book,talking to folks on both sides of the law as research. He teaches creative writing at the University of California and spends part of his time in Mumbai as well as Berkley,CA. He's the author of several other books,such as Red Earth And Pouring Rain and Love And Longing In Bombay. One of the interesting writing credits he has is as co-author of a Bollywood film,Mission Kashmir,that was released in 2000.

His family also has Bollywood ties;his mother Kanna has written many Indian films. Her credits include Prem Rog and 1942: A Love Story and she's written plays as well. One of his sisters, Tanuja, is a director/screenwriter and the other,Anupama,is a film critic and an author of several books on cinema. Some of the plot points in Sacred Games deal with the movie industry in India so that heightens my interest level in this book.

As a reader,a good long book is like catnip to me. Add in a setting in a part of the world that I've never been to but have a keen desire to know about and I'm there,folks. Please click the title link above to check out more about Vikram Chandra and his works. Sacred Games is due to be released in January of next year but I plan to have a review of it up before then,so if you get any book store gift certificates as a holiday present,don't spend them all at once! You may want to save them to grab up this promising new title.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Before you roll with the new,check out the old school Initiation of Sarah

Over the weekend,ABC Family premiered a remake of the 1978 Tv movie,The Initiation of Sarah which starred Summer Glau(Serenity),Meg Tilly and Morgan Fairchild(who was also in the old '78 version). I watched part of it but was more interested in seeing the original film again. Fortunately,you can do just that at the ABC Family website and I did so the other day.

Kay Lenz stars as Sarah Goodwin,adopted sister of Patty(Morgan Brittany,rocking the big '80s hair)who goes off to college to become more than just the Plain Jane to her openly preffered by Mom perfect sis. This doesn't happen,otherwise we'd have no plot!

Patty is quickly snapped up into the bitchy ANS sorority run by Jennifer Lawrence(yep,Morgan Fairchild,folks!)who take great delight in mocking the girls of rival sorority EPD with such wit as referring to EPD members as "Elephants,Pigs and Dogs". Guess which group wants Sarah to sign up?

EPD is run by Mrs. Hunter(Shelley Winters)who is a professor of ancient religions and believes way too much in the occult. Shelley Winters is the best reason to see this movie-she goes around in witchy black dresses with a huge red shawl and can't help touching the face of whoever she's speaking to for less than a minute. Shelley is the first one to confront Sarah about her psychic powers and encourage her to use them against the snooty ANS girls,especially Jennifer.

Sarah also has a love interest(a teaching assistant played by Tony Bill)and a new best friend at EPD called Mouse who is by Sarah's side during the big scene where Jennifer's taunts force Sarah's mojo to push her into a big water fountain. This sets off the cliched chain reaction where Jennifer gets some revenge which leads to more payback involving hot water in a shower and a big semi-Satanic ritual in a garden maze,I kid you not.

The whole vibe in the 1978 version is Carrie goes to college,while the new remake is more Harry Potter Goth Chicks,with one group of sorority Wiccans vs the other. If you click the title link above,you can see both films online for your own compare and contrast. As for me,I have a fondness for stories about geeky girls who use their special powers to get back at those who scorn them-they make great instructional videos for the psychically inclined.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Looking for some action packed thrills? Seek ye then The Book of Fate

The Book of Fate literally starts off with a bang;presidental aide Wes Holloway gets
Ron Boyle,one of President Leland Manning's senior staff members,into a limo with the
President on his way to a public appearance at a NASCAR track and winds up regretting that he did so. A madman named Nico Hadrian opens fire and Boyle dies during the shooting. Wes takes a bullet to his face,leaving him with permanant scars and loss of facial movement on one side.

Eight years later,Wes is still an aide for the now former President Manning and has retreated from any old ambitions he once had,haunted by guilt over Boyle's death. On
a public speaking event in Malaysia,Wes takes a time out and goes into the waiting area set up for Manning,only to run into a stranger who tries to flee. This stranger is rather a familar face(changed somewhat by plastic sugery);it's Ron Boyle,seemingly back from the dead...or did he die at all in the first place?

When Wes gets back home to Palm Beach,Fla,he decides to pursue this mystery further with the help of old friends Rogo and Dreidel as well as an unexpected ally in gossip reporter Lisbeth who stumbles upon, and then pushes her way into the investigation. Other complications crop up,such as a pair of Federal agents hot on Wes' tail and the escape of former assassin Nico,who fervently believes in a Freemason conspiracy that is his sacred duty to bring down.

This may sound like a Da Vinci Code redux but,believe you me,it certainly isn't that. Meltzer does add quite a bit of interesting facts about the Freemasons,whose members included John Wayne,Harry Houdini and Winston Churchill(to name a few)and who did influence the city construction of Washington,DC,but this story is more of a good,snappy thriller at heart. With quick,smartly tuned dialogue,well developed characters and an intense plot that doesn't take any easy outs,The Book of Fate is a riveting rollercoaster of a read.

If you click the title link above,you'll find a fun game tied into the novel that lets you in on Who's a Mason? and shows you some of the Masonic symbols that are hidden in plain sight. Meltzer's thrillers make for great storytelling and why they haven't been snatched up for the movies yet is beyond me. With the success of TBOF, hopefully that oversight will soon be corrected.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Trolling thru the Movie Trailer Park

The fall season brings us many new films,some good,some bad and alot of Oscar bait. While you're checking the movie listings,here's a few interesting items to keep an eye out for,especially when the hit flick you want to see is sold out.

Pan's Labyrinth: This dark fantasy springs from the mind and talent of Guillermo Del Toro,the director known for such visually amazing films as Cronos,Hellboy and Mimic. Pan's Labyrinth tells the story of a young girl who escapes from the real life horrors of a facist society by entering a world created by her imagination and fueled thru the reading of books. No David Bowie wandering thru this maze but it looks pretty magical,all the same:

Eragon: The Christopher Paolini YA fantasy novel hits the big screen,with more pumped up action than was in the book but,hey,it's a dragon flick! We haven't had a really good dragon movie in a long time(that lame Dennis Quaid movie,Dragonheart,included) and with guys like Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich in period costumes,this should be fun:

Fur: The subtitle of this film is "An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" which is a very accurate explanation of the plot. Nicole Kidman stars as Arbus and the film is directed by Steven Shainberg,who made Secretary,so you know this is going to be one hell of a creepshow kinkfest,arthouse style:

Children of Men: Clive Owen and Julianne Moore team up to protect the last pregnant woman on earth in this adapatation of a P.D. James novel. I didn't read the book but this trailer certainly looks promising:

Perfume:Yet another movie based on a book I didn't read but heard alot of good things about. The story takes place in 18th century France and involves a young perfume maker who gets way too interested in creating the perfect scent. The opening image of this trailer alone has enough bizarre imagery to make me want to check this bad boy out:

Well,that's all for now. See you next time at the cineplex and please save me some of that buttered popcorn(fake butter but so delicious)but keep the Jujubes!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Project Runway ends,Top Chef begins and Heroes soar on the small screen

Jeffrey was not only cleared on the charges that he cheated(the only crime they could pin on him was going over the allowed $8,000 budget and to make that up he dropped some pieces and all the wigs he intended to use for the Fashion Week show)but he won as well! I didn't see that coming.

I was so rooting for Michael-why the judges found his collection to be at all "disappointing",is beyond me. There was certainly more versitility in his line than in all of those evening gowns Laura dreamed up. Uli's line was lovely as well.

Despite all the hoopla,this was a pretty good season of PR and Michael along with Uli should have very bright careers ahead of them. And even tho Jeffrey is still on my bad list(but not by much,after Laura's drive-by accusations),congrats to him.

Top Chef is back,with new hostess Padma Lakshmi and the winner from last season,Harold,appearing as the guest judge for the first challenge which was two teams of five making a dish from mystery ingrediants for the other contestants to taste and pick the best & worst from. Some of the items they given to cook with included snails,peanuts,American cheese,cornflakes,peanut butter and frog's legs.

Too soon to tell if there's a favorite yet but we have a promising jerk,Marcel,to keep things interesting. He looks like Seth Green with anime hair and already sported an attitude when called up before the judges' table on his overly garlic flavored dish,saying that he was chosen by the others to take him down early. Dude,it's the first challenge and unless your dish displayed magical powers,no one's impressed with you yet,if ever.

Heroes is rapidly becoming one of my favorite shows of the season. With smartly written characters,an intriguing mystery about how this group will save NYC from destruction("save the cheerleader,save the world")and kickass scenes like Claire's wake-up call on the autopsy table and Peter encountering a more polished version of Hiro(the true lynchpin of the show)from the future,makes this One to Watch.

I'm even starting to make up superhero names for the characters(someone has to!). To me,Nicki is Doppleganger,Peter is Mimic(I remember a character from the Generation X comics that had a similar ability to use the powers of other mutants without touching them),Issac is The Visionary,Nathan is Flyboy,Hiro is The Timekeeper and Claire..well,I'm torn between Ms. Unbreakable and Bounceback Girl.

Any other fans of the show reading this,please feel free to suggest your own alter ego IDs for our upcoming legion of justice folk.

Random Notes:

Smallville:Speaking of the Justice League,we get our big Green Arrow meets Superman episode tonight. So far,Justin Hartley's been a welcome addition to the show and I just hope that his character arc is on target for the season. Also,more Lex and Lana action as Lex tests her loyalty with the help of Lionel(someone needs a Romance for Dummies book,stat!).

Gilmore Girls: Emily getting busted for using her cell phone in the car(you can afford a hands-free set there,Em,come on!)was classic. I loved the way she glared at the cop when he asked her to use the breathanlyzer;priceless! Glad to see Rory making some new friends instead of moping around after Logan and interesting how Lorelai adores Funny Face,the Hepburn classic that's being used for Gap ads lately. Coincidence?

Nip/Tuck:I ain't saying Michelle is a gold digger but she don't go for no broke,broke! Bad enough that she's an organ stealing ex-call girl but telling Christian how she can't leave Burt but will"take care of things" and then he has a stroke? Burt admitted to taking the Viagara but still,I don't trust that woman as far as I can throw and I throw like a girl.

Christian's using Kimber for a sexual/emotional quickie was cold but atleast he was honest about that,not like Sean lying about being able to donate a kidney to Liz! Not cool,Zeus! Lucky that Dawn Budge was able to come thru(Rosie O'Donnell is fun in this role but not sure I really want to see a DB spin-off series).That ear jacking was brutal-a tip to YouTube uploaders;put that clip on with"Stuck in the middle with you" as the background music and it'll get tons of hits,guranteed. Next week is the return of Mrs. Grubman(alot of season one players popping up this year)and Sean gets ready to operate on Connor.

Ugly Betty: Betty's makeover last week would've given TLC's WNTW Stacy and Clinton nightmares(not to mention Nick and Carmindy)but I do think the jacket wasn't bad. Tonight's show has abit of a Christmas theme as Mode scrambles to redo their holiday photo spread due to another magazine already using the same idea and Justin works on a class project. Can't Betty have another guy interested in her than that bozo from the electronics place? Even Daniel deciding to take a shot there would be better.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On the shelf with Michael Cox

"After killing the red haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." These words start off an intriguing new novel by first time novelist
Michael Cox and introduces us to Edward Glyver,whose confession of random murder is only the starting point of a Victorian tale of revenge,obession and thwarted ambition.

The story behind the novel is just as compelling. Michael Cox has been a well known
editor for Oxford University press of several anthologies such as The Oxford Book of English Short Stories and The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories and authored a biography of M. R. James. He had been working on The Meaning of Night for over thirty years but in April of 2004,Cox began to have vision probelms due to cancer. That spurred him on to finish the book,which was well recieved in his home country of England that has now made a sparkling debut in the US.

Michael Cox also had a thriving musical career in the early to mid 1970s,both as a singer and songwriter using the names Matthew Ellis and Obie Clayton. His interest in Victorian literature and the time period itself started a a young age and he still prefers to read books that were printed before the 1930s. He currently resides in Northhamptonshire with his wife,Dizzy. I was honored to get a chance to speak with him on his US tour:

1) One of your favorite books is David Copperfield,with the original illustrations. Did you ever consider having The Meaning of Night illustrated or adding some of the historical photos that appear at the MON website?

I wanted illustrations very badly and couldn't persuade my publisher to go for it. I think some black and white pen drawings would've been fantastic but they wouldn't buy it. Maybe we can do an illustrated edition if the book does well. I think it would've added alot.

I 've been very interested in Victorian photography for a long time. I find it fascinating to see real people staring out of history at you thru photographs. One of the characters,Lord Tansor,is based on an actual photograph of an english earl, Earl Bathhurst. I had this photograph in a book for a long time and based his phyiscal description on this real life Victorian earl. Also,Glyver himself is based on a 1853 painting by W.P. Frith.

2) You've said that you don't read many books published after 1930(with the exception of certain writers such as Sarah Waters ). What is it about literature of that earlier time period that holds more appeal to you than modern day writing?

There's so much to read and several lifetimes of reading to get thru. I just kind of get stuck in the period.Also,as a writer,I can take much more,without plagiarism,absorb much more of what I want to absorb from earlier works. The storytelling element in Victorian fiction, I respond to as well. Sarah Waters is an excellant storyteller,no doubt about that. I just go back to the originals-why read a modern take on the originals when you can read the originals?

Because I put so much emphasis on language,the way the books are written to reflect the 19th century way of writing,it's just much better for me to go back and read the originals. All my favorite writers are in that period,I can return to Conan Doyle and Stevenson,Agatha Christie,all these people I love reading. I do read a little bit of modern stuff,like Sarah Waters or Tracy Chevailer. I've read Sebastian Faulks,just reading Julian Barnes' book,Arthur and George. I do go selectively to modern writers,on the whole,they tend to be historical modernists than contemporary writers. Because I've lost the sight in my left eye, I don't do as much reading as I'd like to do.

3) MON has a very memorable opening line-"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper."-how long did it take you to write that one line?

It didn't take me as long as it took to write! It just dropped out of the sky. I didn't have to think about it.I'd written it before,that line was at the top of one of many discarded first chapters and I just took the line again,because the rest of the chapter I didn't think was very good.. When it did land on the page,as it were,I wasn't quite sure then why he killed the red haired man. I had to think about it abit,but the line sounded pretty good.

When I picked that chapter up again, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do with it. It was one of those divine accidents and I'm glad it came.

4) You've also been a biographer and an editor of several anthologies. Was switching over to fiction hard or easy for you?

Well,I always wanted to write a novel and I'd been writing bits and pieces of it for thirty years. It's a very,very different game altogether. You can always do something with nonfiction,you can always do some research,you can always kill time with nonfiction. With fiction,you spend alot of time just staring and thinking and sometimes clacking that nothing's going to come. Once I did start it,it played pretty well.

There were a few bad moments when I couldn't quite see where it was going. The plot is quite complicated and complex,dovetailing everything together was difficult. I had to get a spreadsheet going,keeping dates right,who was doing what when and that was complicated. Occasionally I had the usual block,as all writers do.

Generally,it kept going and it's a very different feeling to writing nonfiction. Compling an anthology,all you have to do is sit and look for what you want. With fiction,it is hard work and having not done it before,I didn't have any ground rules at all for doing it You just jump in there. But now I've done it and I've started my second novel,which is going to be a sequel,and it's coming much more easily and I'm much more disciplined about it,I write every day. I think The Meaning of Night prepped me quite well for this.

5) You're planning two sequels to The Meaning of Night-do you have any other books in mind after that trilogy?

I had in mind to do atleast a trilogy,I didn't want to do Meaning of Night Two,Three. I didn't want them to be closely linked but I want them to be linked. It's really following a family story. I thought I might do a third one at some point,which would take the story thru the end of the century and into the beginning of the 20th century. The reason for that is the great country estates started to collapse during the first World War under the weight of taxes/death duties and many of the sons who were to take over the running of these estates were killed on the western front,so you kind of had a combination of things that brought alot of these big houses down. I thought that would be a good moment,to witness the decline of Evenwood and the family line.

I do have a couple of ideas,still set in the 19th century,a little bit more in the crime and detection genre. Once I finish the second one,I don't want to go straight on to a third. I want to leave a gap,try something else. I may try one of these. I have a vague idea of doing a short,sequential novella-there are very few successful ones but I thought I might have a go at it.

6)Your website for MON has a reader's survey section,with a number of qoutes from everyday folks.Do you feel that word of mouth is the best way to promote a book,especially a new book?

That was done by the UK publisher,they sent 650 bound copies of the manuscript to members of reading groups all over the country. They weren't particularly historical fiction readers,just picked pretty much at random and asked to read the book and fill in the questionaire. Really good response and overwhelming;I thought it was a high risk strategy because I thought"what if no one likes it?"but the UK publishers seemed pretty confident.

It was fabulous and heartwarming, much better than getting a critical review in a way,because they were real readers. They were overwhelmingly women as well and I was afraid they might not take to my narrator,Glyver,but most of them did.

In the US,there's been alot of emphasis put on going around to independant book shops. I did a Barnes and Noble event in New York but the rest of the tour has been going to key independants all over the country and they're crucial for this kind of word of mouth thing. They put on events,advertise,have newletters and websites,that's all word of mouth. The UK publisher is doing alot of stuff on the Web and getting some good responses;that's all electronic word of mouth.

7) There's been some talk of movie rights to MON;would you prefer it to be adapted for the movies or a TV mini-series?

Both would be nice, I think it would probaly adapt to both. We have had some interest on the movie side but nothing definate. These things move very,very slowly, It kind of depends on how well the book does and if it does reasonably well over here,things might move a little faster.

In the UK,maybe we can get a good production company who works for the BBC-it'd make a great three parter.

My thanks to Michael Cox for giving me his time and if you wish to check out the UK website for The Meaning of Night,please click the title above. To find out where he'll be appearing in the United States,just go to the W. W. Norton website at www.wwnorton.com.

I will be reviewing MON for the blog very soon,so watch this space! I'm only a few chapters in but I can already see that this is the perfect read for those chilly autumn nights that are fast approaching us.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Patch up your slasher film knowledge with Going to Pieces

Over the weekend,the Starz movie channel premiered Going to Pieces: the rise and fall of the slasher film. This may sound like an excuse to slap together some gory movie clips with a handfull of token interviews but there's some real food for thought served up here. It starts off with the old school roots of slasherdom,from Grand Guingol shows to Hitchcock's Psycho and Powell's Peeping Tom right to the modern day granddad of splatter flicks,Halloween.

Slasher films really had their heyday during the early to mid 1980s,with Friday the 13th and other gruesome fare such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Sleepaway Camp,My Bloody Valentine,Prom Night and Slumber Party Massacre. While some of these flicks were merely gore shows,many of them reflected the growing social changes in society with Reganomics on the rise and Yuppie body image sensibilites. That and some damn fine special effects provided by Tom Savini(who gleefully contributes his experiences thru out the documentary).

Other interview subjects include John Carpenter,Wes Craven,Amy Holden-Jones(director of Slumber Party Massacre)and Rob Zombie. A good portion of the film is spent in going over the numerous criticisms of the genre,with clips from an old episode of Sneak Previews(the original Roger Ebert show with Siskel)denouncing the"hatred of women" that they saw in these flicks(the cliche of having a Final Girl who defeats the slasher puts a few chinks in that armored approach)and the infamous Silent Night,Deadly Night controversary that had folks protesting outside of movie theaters and signing petitions to pull the mean ol' Slicer Santa film ads.

There is also coverage of the current splatter film revival with the usual suspects like Scream highlighted along with Saw,Hostel and The Devil's Rejects. Even for someone who's pretty familar with the genre,Going to Pieces adds to your knowledge with such factoids as how the Friday the 13th stalker sound was created(hint,Betsy Palmer uttered a few key phrases) and why you may already know about Kevin Bacon and Johnny Depp's horror movie debuts,did you know Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander both appeared in the same slasher flick(not together-Holly was only in the background of one scene)?

If you don't have Starz,keep an eye out for this slice of splatter lore at a video store near you(ten to one,it'll be out before New Year's)and if you want some more insidous info,click the title link above. While most slasher flicks bored me(I like a more personable villian-yes,I'm a Freddy Kruger fangirl),I did have a few favorites which are nicely showcased in GTP,like April Fool's Day and Happy Birthday to Me. I must confess,however,that the main reason I dug AFD was the poster. How cool is that back braid noose?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Have a little pre-Halloween fun with Friday the 13th: The Series

Before there was Buffy,Angel or those chicks from Charmed,we were given the supernatural adventures of cousins Micki and Ryan who, along with old buddy Jack,sort out cursed antiques in Friday The 13th: The Series. The show had no connection to the Jason Voorhees slasher movies whatsoever but there was plenty of good ghoulish fun to be found.

The basic premise of the show is that Micki & Ryan inherited an antique shop from their Uncle Lewis who,of course,made a pact with Satan to sell cursed objects in exchange for wealth and immortality. Uncle Lewis wound up trying to back out of the deal and meeting his Maker for it. The two cousins find out(after selling off the rest of the store's inventory)from Jack about the whole evil merchandise deal and decide to round up all the bad items to lock up in a vault. Why not just destroy them,you may ask? That would be too easy so, to make things more interesting,the cursed objects have Satanic Scotchguard that keeps them intact.

This was a fun show;one of my favorite episodes had Micki falling under a vampire's spell due to a cursed cloak and clasp that allowed the wearer to time travel and become a bloodsucker. There was even a little chant that the vampires used to trap folks with the Count Floyd cape that went like this:

"Now, you and I, through eternity will be bound.
For with this cape immortality is found.
And with this clasp we can travel through time.
Just a drop of your precious blood mixed together with mine."

And that ditty ended with"But first you must become ONE OF US!" Subtle. They even managed to throw in Bram Stroker as a character for a Dracula connection. So damn hokey but I ate that stuff up with a spoon and asked for more.

Other wicked wares included a compact mirror that made hot guys fall in love with Plain Janes,a quilt which made the dreams of psuedo-Amish folk come all too true and a scarecrow that needs to chop off a few heads to make your garden grow. The show ran for three seasons and is still in reruns but not yet on DVD. Hopefully,someone will take pity on those who fondly remember this sinister series and make it available soon.

In the meanwhile,here's a few clips from the pilot episode"Inheritance" to savor.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Spike TV's Scream Awards and conspiracies abound on South Park & Project Runway

After watching Part I of the Project Runway finale,I have no choice but to defend Jeffrey on the charges from Laura about having outside help in completing his collection for Fashion Week. Yes, he is very unlikable and while I still think he should've treated many people better than he has during the show,the accusation against him really seemed unfounded.

The Final Four had two months to prepare their work and as we saw during Tim Gunn's visits to all of them,Jeffrey's workplace was several miles away from his home while Laura's was in an apartment with five kids running underfoot. Plus,the fact that Jeffrey only has the one kid with his ladyfriend and as he said himself,he's normally a slow sewer on his own. Who the blue hell is Laura to be all Nancy Drew about why he didn't have as much finish up work to do as she and the others did?

It was clearly obvious that Laura had it in for him as soon as the FF regrouped before Fashion Week-she refused to greet him when he arrived and kept making those snide remarks about Jeffrey every chance she got. Look,many of us have had to work with people we don't like or even despise but there's a difference between dealing with bad behavior and looking for(or in this case,instigating)it to happen.

Laura roped in Michael and Uli(who were both honest about having their own suspicions)and the three of them really should have talked it over with Jeffrey before going to Tim Gunn first. I think Kayne was very prescient a few shows back when Laura condescendly told him that she was "worried" about his style choices and he shot back with"Well,I worry about your character and that's alot worse."

South Park dealt with 9/11 conspiracy theorists and a nifty Hardy Boys parody on last night's episode. Pretty funny(particularly with Mr. Mackey's obsession over who incorrectly used the boys' room urinal)and sure to generate some negative feedback. Cartman's little song about searching for the truth"Why do I need facts/for my logic?" was one of the highpoints. So far,this season is hitting it's targets with deadly accuracy-keep it up,fellas!

I caught Spike TV's Scream Awards on a replay and was I glad I did,if only for the clips from Grindhouse(loved it when Robert Rodriquez declared "Fuck the Oscars!")and the clippage from Saw III. The catagories were a mixed bag of horror,sci-fi and comic books which gave me some doubts but it all blended together well. If you're interested in who won,please click the title link above. If you want to see the Grindhouse trailer,look no further,friends!

Random Notes:

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: I have to say that this show is beginning to bore me. The insider/behind the scenes stuff is not very compelling,the skits on the show-within-the-show are not very funny and I'm already tired of the whole Matt/Harry will they,won't they love story. You know a show's in trouble when the book you're reading during the commericals is more compelling than what's onscreen.

Gilmore Girls: Richard and Emily finally showed up and it truly feels like the show is starting to flow. Loved how vicious Paris is toward her SAT tutors and students and that Rory used some Henry Miller for some sexy texting to Logan. Oh,and those Aerie ads that have a bunch of dippy girls chatting about GG while hanging out in a clothing store? Please stop,before I damage my TV by trying to smack them.

Nip/Tuck: Sean seems to be going crazy,talking to people who aren't there and coming real close to doing in Crazy Monica(lucky for him that Final Destination bus mowed her down when it did). Speaking of crazy,Christian's shrink really screwed him over by letting Burt in on his affair with Michelle. Also,that whole backtat thing kept reminding me of The Importance of Being Earnest(the Colin Firth version)and I bet plenty of folks would love to have "Property of Christian Troy" as their tramp stamp. Next week,Rosie O'Donnell returns but keeps her panties on as Sean grows a new ear for her on the back of a mouse(so not kidding about that).

Smallville: Green Arrow makes more of an appearance tonight and catches the eye of Lois Lane. Looks like another love triangle in the works! Poor Clark,he needs somebody to love or atleast date for awhile.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brad Meltzer: Big Man on the Pop Culture Campus

Many authors have had bestselling titles on more than one list at a time but until now,there hasn't been a one who has topped both the New York Times Bestsellers List for hardcover fiction and the Diamond Comic Distributors Top 100 sales chart at the same time. That honor goes to Brad Meltzer,for The Book Of Fate and the first issue of his Justice League series for DC Comics.

Brad's been on the literary scene for quite a while now,starting with his first novel,The Tenth Justice, which many people described as "Friends meet The Firm"(in Hollywood pitchspeak)and following it up with other well recieved books such as Dead Even,The First Counsel,Zero Game and The Millionaires. He was also the co-creator of the former WB show,Jack & Bobby and reviewed a whole season of The Sopranos for a legal website,FindLaw.com. His first crack at comic book writing was for Green Arrow which came after director Kevin Smith's run with the character that eventually lead to Identity Crisis,a murder mystery starring the heavy hitters of the JLA.

One of the first things that strikes you when you read any of Meltzer's work are his characters;these are folks who walk,talk and act alot like you and your friends. Regardless of whatever setting his leads are thrust into or the situation,he gets you fully invested in seeing what happens to Ben Addison,Sara and Jared Tate,brothers Charlie and Oliver and his latest hero,Wes Holloway. Characterization is something that gets taken for granted all too easily but it's the hallmark of many of the best loved writers in any field of fiction.

It's great to see a talented and deserving person finally come into their own-The Book of Fate has been going great guns and stay tuned for a review of it here at LRG. Meltzer's comics will also get some showcasing,especially now with Smallville having Green Arrow come on the show this season(a look at how Meltzer treated GA may give us a hint about what's to come on the show). If I've whetted your appetite or tweaked your curiosity about Meltzer and his work,please click the title link above to check out his official website. If Meltzermania is wrong,I don't want to be right!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Still time to place your bet on the Booker prize!

Later today,the winner of the Booker Prize(it's now the Man Booker Prize but that sounds more like the name of a WWE champion than a literary award)for fiction will be announced and yes,betting is still taking place as we speak. I love it that the Brits are willing to lay down their hard cold cash to bet on what novel wins;why we don't take have gaming pools for the National Book Award is beyond me. If Texas Hold'em can generate enough excitement to have televised tournaments and online gambling,surely we can get some good odds on Joyce Carol Oates vs. Philip Roth!

The top contender in the running is Sarah Waters for The Night Watch. It takes place during the bombing raids in 1940s London and tells the stories of three women and a man who live and love thru it all. It's a change of pace for Waters as her earlier books like Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith were set in the Victorian era. I haven't read TNW yet but it was quickly added to my To Be Read pile a while ago after I devoured Fingersmith.

Fingersmith is this gorgeous Dickensian story about two girls brought together in an elaborate con job who wind up being both betrayed and devoted to each other. Sue Trinder takes a ladies maid position at the home of naive Maud Lilly to become her friend and co-conspirator in having Maud marry Gentleman(a devious con man)and make off with her vast fortune. Sue,however,starts to actually care for Maud which makes things worse when the tables are turned. It would be wrong to discuss any of more of the plot since one of the joys of the book is the unexpected twists and turns given and taken by the characters. If you haven't read Fingersmith and need a good book for the fall,it fits the bill to a T.

Other contenders for the Booker include The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai,The Secret River by Kate Grenville,Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn(the odds are going up on that one),Carry Me Down by M.J.Hyland and In The Country of Men by Hisham Mater. As you can tell,I'm rooting for Waters but Kiran Desai's book has been getting some good reviews as well(plus,it's a second novel which would greatly benefit from winning a major award like this)so it would be good if IOL took the honors here. There's a link to the Booker prize website in the title above so if I don't get a chance to update this entry later,you can check out who the winner is.

Do yourself a favor and grab some Sarah Waters up first,before the announcement. One thing literary awards do well is create a big demand for whoever won and why deny yourself such a pleasure of pages?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thanks to ABC.com,I am now Ugly Bettified!

With all this talk about Ugly Betty being one of the best new shows of the season,my curiosity was peaked enough to check out ABC.com's online program viewer to catch the first two episodes. I am so glad I did because this show kicks all kinds of butt,starting with it's leading lady America Ferrara. I did see Real Women Have Curves on DVD so her talent wasn't a complete surprise to me but what she brings to the character of Betty Suarez is truly unique.

UB is based on a telenovela which,like any good soap opera,has it's strong set of stock characters:the louse of a boyfriend,the boss who starts off as a jerk but really is a good guy underneath it all,the scheming co-workers. Betty's persona is of the sincerely good natured person who tries to be open and honest in the real world and yet triumphs over evil with her naively sweet self intact. Alot of actresses would've turned this into an overdone SNL skit but America makes Betty as believable as one of your friends or family.

Yes,there's plenty of Devil Wears Prada riffs(including an open reference to the movie in the second episode)but that's to be expected and frankly,it's a plus for the show. DWP did better than anticpated at the box office this summer and with the ever growing interest in the world of fashion,why not capitalize on it?

I love so many things about Ugly Betty that's hard to pick just a few to focus on but here are my basic Top Five at this point:

1)her nephew Justin:if that kid isn't hanging out with his Aunt Betty at Mode by the end of the first season,it will be a shame. The shocked expression he made when the Mode book was lost,totally priceless!

2)Wilhemina and her fashionable flunky Marc: Every soap needs a great villian,complete with sidekick and these two are the best pairing since Tabitha and Timmy on Passions.

3)Betty's bunny:That little graduation gift was so ugly that it was cute and I felt sorry for the poor little thing being tortured in those photos! How high school mean was that? Glad to see it saved and hope that it doesn't get kidnapped again. Also wouldn't be surprised to see a demand for Betty's bunny in stores by legions of UB fans by Christmas time.

4)Keeper of the Closet,Christina:It's good that Betty has some allies at the office,especially with that skank Amanda lurking about. Christina sounds like someone who'd fit right in with the AbFab crowd.

5)Betty's "B" necklace: I know it's tacky but it looks great on her. Hard to picture Betty without that beaded bauble adorning her throat-maybe they make one with a "T"?

Well,I'm going to be watching UB online from now on(gotta have my Smallville and Betty,too!). The ABC program viewer is great,with only limited commericial interruptions-a few 30 second spots dropped in-and it holds up to several episodes at a time if you want a mini-marathon. Click the title link above to see for your self. Meanwhile,let's hope that the big ratings help keep UB on the air for a good long while but I wouldn't mind if it was moved to another night so that I could catch a first run episode. The price you pay for fandom,folks!

Friday, October 06, 2006

It's October and that only means one thing:Halloween episodes!

One of the fun things about watching a good(or not so good)TV series is the holiday themed episodes that pop up,regardless of whatever's going on with the central plot of the show. Halloween is a pretty popular choice for primetime. Some shows simply resort to getting the cast in crazy costumes while others take a bold leap into the fray.

I'd like to highlight a few of my favorite Halloween episodes that go that extra mile and give us some chills or a good laughs for our time. Dim the lights,grab some candy corn and let the fear fest begin!


In season four,there was a plotline that had Lana possessed by the spirit of a French witch(one of her ancestors,of course)with a nifty little backtat and evil plans to take over the world. Just in time for trick or treat,Spell came on the air and not only did Lana get all wicked wicca,she recruited Lois and Chloe as henchwenchs who zapped our boy Clark with their goth girl makeovers and mean girl mojo. It's always fun to see Kristen Kreuk play a bad girl(she laps up evil with a spoon) and with Superman having no defense against magic,it made for an interesting challenge.

Last season,Lana was turned into a vampire sorority girl-I kid you not. Despite the very B movie plot,Thirst was a fun,fang in cheek episode that even tossed in a costume party and had Spike himself declaring"There's no such thing as vampires!"

Buffy The Vampire Slayer:

BTVS always embraced the Halloween theme with open arms and out of all the holiday shows they did,the first Halloween show they did(in season two)was the best. Buffy and friends became the living-or unliving in Willow's case-embodiments of their costumes. Buffy was a ditzy 18th century girl,Xander turned G.I. Joe and Willow's brain power helped her lead the troops even if her new found Casper status kept her from fighting off the hordes of demonic trick or treaters invading Sunnydale.


Roseanne dove into Halloween with just as much gusto and treated the holiday with as much enthusiam as Hallmark does Christmas. The costume choices and plotlines didn't shy away from the gore and gross-out fun of All Hallow's Eve. One of my favorite shows gave Roseanne a Christmas Carol version of what her life would be like if she rejected Halloween-I just hope Nick at Nite does a marathon of those episodes soon.


South Park can freak people out year round but they really get into the spirit of things quite well. One of the first Halloween shows they did had a nice Scooby-Doo homage,with special guests Korn who not only played a kickass song but debated an age old question; ghost pirates or pirate ghosts?

Hopefully this year,we'll get some good ghoulish fun with our favorite shows. Please feel free to share your own scary favorites,especially if they're on DVD. You just know that Netflix will be out of most of the good stuff by October 31!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Veronica Mars,South Park and the Project Runway Reunion gets some Serious Ugly

On the reunion episode of Project Runway,it was hard for me to decide who was the bigger jerk;Keith,with his conspiracy theories about his books"being taken away and later returned"(why did you bring them at all,Keith,when you weren't supposed to?),Vincent and his egotastic remarks about everyone else being"amateurs" and Jeffrey still refusing to be at all sorry about lashing out at Angela's mom.

It wasn't a total nasty-fest;there was plenty of good natured fun goofing on Tim Gunn's fanciful language and just how chatty Kayne was(that word count clock put upon his presentation to Miss USA was the best).

Michael won the Fan Favorite prize and deservedly so. I really hope he wins the competition. Michael has the strongest sense of style,he's the most consistant and a truly good person. As much as I adore Uli's magic with patterns and respect Laura's top notch seamstress skills,it ought to be Michael's victory. Next week gives us Part One of the season finale and from what I hear,Laura will be accusing Jeffrey of cheating! Dum Dum DUM! Dramatime!

The season premiere of Veronica Mars has our girl enrolled at Hearst college,making new friends and enemies(especially the T.A. in her Intro to Criminalogy class,Timothy Foil-how great a name is that?). I'm glad to see Mac becoming a regular cast member and if I was her,Dick would've been popped in the mouth for that vicious comment about her and Cassidy. Wallace's roommate,Piz,is a good addition as well. The new credits intro is very WBish and the theme song sounds best when fully cranked up but otherwise,it looks like Ms. Mars has settled into her new network and timeslot well.

South Park's tenth season opener ripped on the realm of online RP gaming with "Make Love not Warcraft" that had the boys vegging out to defeat an evil gamer who kept killing off everyone's character. I've never played World of Warcraft but the graphics reminded me of Golden Axe,an old school video game that had the same kind of magical medieval quest types. Pretty funny,especially with Stan's dad getting in on the whole LOTR uberseriousness of WoW and Butters only wanting to play Hello Kitty Island Adventure. Saw the premiere of Freakshow afterwards and it looks a hell of alot better than Drawn Together(why that's still on the air is beyond me).

Random Notes:

The Amazing Race: The Daddy-Daughter team was knocked out of the running,just as I was getting used to them,too! Tim and Terry(I like the nickname T&T that other teams have given them)really cut it close there,having to take a timeout before being checked it at the PitStop. That's why it pays to follow the rules,people!

Gilmore Girls:Happy to hear that Lane is pregnant,even if she doesn't like sex and Lorelai's Asian tour for Rory was very sweet and snappy. However,I need some Richard and Emily time to truly feel like this is GG in the house. Luke punching out Christopher was awesome-he should hit people more often.

Smallville: With Lex now de-Zoded(and was it just me or did the Zod entity look quite abit like Terrence Stamp?)and Chloe hooking up with Jimmy Olsen,it looks like Clark has to start this season off with some new focus. Those Phantom Zone escapees will be giving him some trouble soon but tonight's show has Lex in jep and Clark gaining yet another ability,superbreath.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sena Jeter Naslund gives us an Abundance of literary joy

Sena Jeter Naslund's new novel,Abundance,begins with Marie Antoinette's journey to France where her marriage to Louis the XVI will form an alliance between Austria and France. Marie must show her acceptance of her new country by being stripped of her Austrian finery and former possessions literally in front of witnesses and redressing in the french fashions of the day.

This ritual becomes symbolic of what Marie's life is like as princess and later Queen of France;everything in her life is on constant public display and nothing is private,especially the troubles in her marriage bed. Her young husband treats from any kind of sexual contact and prefers to be hunting or working in his blacksmith shop rather than be intimate with his bride. Marie also has to contend with the various politics at court,both for and against her as well as find ways to amuse herself with or without her husband's company.

Marie Antoinette has been a historical lighting rod for both praise and censor. Naslund's novel portrays a determined young woman(Marie was fourteen when she was married)who only wanted to make the best of what life and her lineage had given her. Rather than being the Paris Hilton of her time(as many detractors past and present have made her out to be),Marie did care about the world around her but was limited by her status as a royal female in the French court to connect more. Yes,she was frivolous at times and made rash emotional choices which only shows off her humanity and vulnerability to a shimmering glow in such an opulent setting as Versailles.

Naslund brilliantly recreates the world that Marie dwelled in,with all the lush surroundings and political pitfalls that dogged her every step. It's hard not to understand the lure of having beautiful clothes and gambling parties to ease the loneliness and frustrations that Marie dealt with on a daily basis but part of you wishes to warn her of what lies ahead,as more of the outside world threatens to tear down the lavish walls around the Royals.

As Naslund did with Ahab's Wife,her words unleash a string of historical images and strong characterization that gives the reader a true time travel experience. She blends research and empathy to bring Marie Antoinette to life on the page. With the new Sofia Coppola film about Marie about to hit the theaters,this novel(not officially connected to the movie) will either enhance your cinematic pleasure or provide an excellant alternative to it. Please click the title link to find out more about the book and author. Abundance is a real gem of a read.