Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hot books for summer reading this July & August in the city of the mind

Summer reading is one past time that doesn't require making elaborate plans for,except for putting together a list and finding the time for it,and while there's all this talk about "stay-cations"(which I've been taking for years!),books have always been one of the more steadfast forms of entertainment around.

Another steady summertime pleasure is music and as I put this summer book preview together,I like to think of it as a literary mix tape. So,take a look and a listen to some of the hits that will be popping up on the charts and perhaps making their way into your hearts(or mind,at least)while you try to beat the heat:


Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader takes place in Salem,Mass,where many folks go to as a vacation spot but others live their whole lives there. Towner Whitney left Salem many years ago,to escape her family's legacy of psychic ability and long kept secrets but the mysterious disappearance of two local women draws her home and forces her to deal with the past.

Author Brunonia Barry incorporates a good deal of local history and lore about Salem,witches and the making of lace into her tale of a woman's journey of self discovery and coming to terms with what the past and the present hold for her future. Sounds like an enchanting read to me(July):

Another journey is about to be completed this summer with the final installment of the Twilight series,Breaking Dawn,due to arrive this August. However,this may not be the last fans of the books will hear about Bella,Edward and Jacob-Stephenie Meyer is planning to start a new series told from Edward's p.o.v. and with the film version due to hit theaters this winter, I think that we've only just begun to savor the true pleasures of Twilight:


If you're looking for a new twist in crime fiction with a British flair,Martina Cole is your woman for the job. Her reign as one of the bestselling crime writers in the UK is now extending to the States with Close,the first of her books to hit our shores.

Close follows the lives of Patrick Brodie,an up and coming crime boss, and Lily Diamond,the girl who becomes his wife and mainstay of his growing family. If Martin Scorsese had been born in London instead of New York,this is the type of tale he might have wound up putting on the silver screen(July):

Coming to save the day from evil-doers is Who Can Save Us Now?,a collection of offbeat and original stories about superheroes,villains and a few sidekicks along the way who are trying to figure out how to bring truth,justice and peace to their own lives.

Editors Owen King and John McNally have gathered together a league of talented writers(along with contributing a story themselves)such as Will Clarke,J. Robert Lennon,Stephanie Harrell and Jennifer Weiner,to bring these comic book style creations to life with brilliant illustrations by Chris Burnham. This is the ideal book to read while you wait to watch the latest superhero movie reboot at the multiplex this summer(July):


The heroine of Kim Green's Live A Little seems to be in dire straits indeed as Raquel Rose is given a diagnosis of terminal breast cancer which makes everyone in her life more attentive to her. However,when Raquel finds out that she's not sick after all,she finds it hard to give up the extra attention and local celebrity that she's been getting lately.

This story has the makings of a quirky dark comedy and if you or someone you know needs to lighten up a little,this should hit the spot(August).

Linda Robertson gives the readers of her brassy new memoir,What Rhymes With Bastard?,some theme music to go along with her tales of moving to San Francisco to marry a very bad boyfriend,form a cabaret band and achieve the title of Miss Accordion San Francisco 2004.

The musical stylings of Linda and her fellow musicians are a interesting blend of whimsy and weirdness,with a dash of Phoebe Buffay in a rich stew of Judy Tenuta seasoned with the salty goodness of Sarah Silverman. If you can handle this spicy slice of life, make your end of summer dinner reservations now,folks!(August)


Elin Hilderbrand has a couple of beach books ready to go this season;this July her newest hardcover,A Summer Affair,has famed glassblower and mother of four Sheila Crispin Cook getting overwhelmed by her extra duties as co-chair of the Nantucket Children's Summer Gala. Sheila was able to get the gig due to her past history as the former high school sweetheart of rock singer Max West,who is performing at the gala.

But that's not all of romantic tension that Sheila has to deal with-she's also seeing Lockhart Dixon,the director of the event,and trying to juggle some other platonic relationships as well to keep things running smooth. Summer by the seashore is supposed to be calming but the chaos that erupts should be rather entertaining.

Currently out in paperback is Barefoot,that has three women seeking refuge from their troubles on the Nantucket shore. Two of them are sisters-Brenda,who just lost her college teaching position after her affair with a student is exposed,and Vicki,who has discovered that she may not live long enough to see her young sons grow up.

Joined by their friend Melanie(who has left her cheating husband and is now pregnant after many years of trying)and aided by Josh,a local boy home for the summer,this little group somehow forms an impromptu family that searches for more than a quick fix solution to their struggles. Any reading groups that are still looking for a couple of good reads to select should look no further,this is one stop shopping at it's best.


A topical mix of fact and fiction come together in The 19th Wife which goes between the past and present day to tell this tale of polygamy and murder mystery. David Ebershoff begins with the journal of Ann Eliza Young,the title wife of Brigham Young who broke away from the family and openly spoke out against the Mormon Church.

Ann's story connects with an unsolved murder in a modern day polygamist family with another outcast,Jordan Scott,seeking to find out who killed his father by going back to the home that banished him for the truth. I fondly recall reading Ebershoff's first novel,The Danish Girl,years ago and marveling at his talents. I hope that I am fully prepared to be dazzled yet again(August).

In Undiscovered Country,Lin Enger takes a page or two from Hamlet and sets this novel in northern Minnesota where the so-called suicidal hunting death of Jesse Matson's father has all the earmarks of a more sinister plot afoot.

As his father's ghost and his beautiful yet moody girlfriend Christine both compete for his attention and focus,Jesse has to come to grips with the truth and the hard cold consequences of what has happened and what should or shouldn't be done about it.
When it comes to coming of age stories,the classics never go out of style and they make for great jumping points for others to follow(July).

Our last but not least family themed offering was written by an aunt and niece but sadly one of them is no longer with us. Mary Ann Shaffer started writing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society several years ago and when her health troubles threaten to halt her progress,asked Annie Barrows to help her complete the book.

The novel is told thru letters,as researcher Juliet Ashton becomes interested in the dealings of a hastily formed book club of natives of the island of Guernsey who needed an excuse to meet while under German occupation during World War II. As Juliet discovers more about the lives and loves of the Guernsey folk,she soon decides to pay the island a visit and meet up with one particular person who has caught her eye and possibly her heart. This book is a labor of love that many will delight in(late July/early August).

Whew,that's quite a few books to go thru there,isn't it? I just hope that one of the many choice selections I've put forth will add greatly to your relaxation time in the next couple of months and that whatever and where ever your vacation is,you enjoy it to the fullest:

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