Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Indulge in some literary luxuries this November and December

The big holiday season of the year is slowly but surely approaching and no doubt many of you are saying"Come on now,Lady T,times are tough right now. We have to watch every penny and the last thing anyone needs to do is waste their hard earned money on books they don't need." There's some truth to that,but in my opinion,a wise shopper selects carefully so that their money turns out to be well spent,regardless of what the economy is like at the moment.

Also,with the tricky financial times in mind,I'm including a small gift book section in this preview that offers up a number of interesting choices(along with various price ranges)that will either make your personal list of must buy presents easier to go through or settle on what to use those nifty gift certificates someone is bound to slip into your stocking this season on.


Wally Lamb's new novel,The Hour I First Believed,may not be an official Oprah pick,but plenty of folks will be lining up to get their very own copy once it hits the shelves.

The story centers around a married couple,Caelum and Maureen Quirk,who move back to Caelum's home town of Three Rivers,Ct. to not only settle the estate of his aunt but to give Maureen a safer place to recover from her harrowing experience at Columbine High School during that tragic shooting.

While his wife struggles with her sanity,Caelum becomes interested in his family's history due to finding a hidden trove of old letters and diaries in an upstairs bedroom of the Quirk family homestead. As Caelum and Maureen travel on different paths of discovery,their mutual quest for purpose and meaning draw them together. Even if you've never read any of Lamb's work,this one is clearly not to be missed.(November 11)


A pair of historical fiction debuts this season have very different geographical settings but do share a common thematic thread;both feature young women whose parents have left them on their own as children and who have to decide if those reasons for their abandonment will hold any sway towards their future.

In The Virgin Queen's Daughter by Ella March Chase, Nell De Lacey is thrilled to be selected as a lady in waiting to the new queen,Elizabeth. However,her strong physical resemblance to Elizabeth is the subject of much talk amongst those in the Court willing to find a chink in their lady monarch's armor.

As more evidence is gathered to make this speculation more than just a mere rumor,Nell must find a way to reveal the truth without becoming a victim of political circumstance herself. Like mother,like daughter,indeed!(December 30)

Laurel Corona's The Four Seasons has a pair of sisters being abandoned in an alleyway just outside of Venice's most famed foundling hospital and music academy,the Ospedale della Pieta.

The eldest sister,Maddalena,grows up to become a violinist who catches the eye of the renowned composer Antonio Vivaldi while little sister Chiaretta uses her seductive singing ability to marry into a well connected family of aristocrats.

As their own emotional choices keep the sisters apart within the same community,it is their true passion for music that lets them stay connected to one another. The subtitle of this book is "A novel of Vivaldi's Venice" and Laurel Corona truly makes that come alive on these pages with her well researched descriptions and her own passion for this time period(November 4).


The first big book on display for your viewing pleasure is Art:The Definitive Visual Guide,with an introduction by Ross King,and what a true pleasure it is to look through this amazing book.

This is more than just a huge coffee table tome;Art goes into the entire history of artistic expression via paintings and sculptures,from cave paintings to modern abstract pieces. The history of each time period is well documented,with features on the influential artists for the many cultural movements and special focus is given to major paintings,highlighting the details(technique,color,significance of certain items in the background)that make that artwork so memorable.

If you know of a budding art student or want to advance your own personal knowledge of the subject,Art is the ultimate encyclopedia set all in one volume. It's like getting a complete art school education,only without having any of those pecky student loans to deal with(November).

If your knowledge base is a little more rock n' roll,then plenty of words of wisdom await you in Time Flies When You're In A Coma:The Wisdom of the Metal Gods.

Songwriter/producer Mike Daly has gathered up a collection of selected quotes from the lyrics of heavy metal superstars such as Ozzy Osbourne,Alice Cooper and Judas Priest and placed them in user friendly categories to help you find an inspiring thought for the day. Even if your metal mania is a bit more mainstream,you can find words of solace from once hard rocking fellas like Sebastian Bach,before he went down the Broadway and bat mitzvah route (November):

When Mark Dunn's debut novel,Ella Minnow Pea,first came out in 2001,no one quite predicted that the timeliness of the book's theme of systematic censorship would resonant so well with readers as it did.

This charming and seemingly simple tale of a small island nation's devotion to the power of words being used against due to the wearing down of a local memorial that the authorities deem a sign from above and decide to deal with by outlawing letters of the alphabet,is a delight and a caution all at once.

Ella Minnow Pea will be re-released in a special gift edition,with illustrations by Tim Brennan that will enhance the homespun beauty of it's characters and give plenty of devoted readers a good excuse to pass this book on to friends and family alike.(November 14)


In Maria Semple's This One Is Mine,Violet Parry lives the life of a well to do Hollywood maven with her rock star husband David and their daughter,Dot.

However,Violet finds this glamorous existence to be boring and seeks to spark up some excitement by hooking up with Teddy,a bass player with a looser style of living. David doesn't take this lying down but has his hands full with the shenanigans of his husband hunter sister Sally and her latest conquest,Jeremy,a ESPN sportscaster on the rise.

These gals may think that they have their men right where they want them,but as the old saying goes,things aren't always what they seem.(December 4)

Author Lori Handeland gives her leading lady Elizabeth Phoenix one hell of a challenge in Any Given Doomsday. Elizabeth's psychic abilities have come in handy in her work assisting the police in solving difficult crimes but when her foster mother is murdered,it becomes clear that her powers have a more ominous purpose.

Turns out that Elizabeth has been chosen to be a player in an ancient battle of good vs. evil that is about to come to a cataclysmic point of no return for the human race. While her old boyfriend Jimmy may have some of the answers that she seeks, a couple of them may rock Elizabeth's world in more ways than one(November 4):

I hope that many of these books find their way to folks needing a nice holiday gift to lift their spirits and that they are as fitting as those homemade ones which will be a pretty popular trend this year,in my opinion:

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