Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Some November and December literary goodies to add to your holiday gift basket

As Halloween approaches, so does the rest of the holiday season and while it's become a tad overwhelming with the rush to deck the halls during your turkey dinner as we ring in the new year, books do allow us to slow things down a little.

There are plenty of blockbuster titles due to hit the shelves that will fill your gift giving needs(and to put your wish list as well) but a few of these upcoming books that I have chosen to highlight for November and December might also do the trick. At the very least, one or two of them should make the soon to be cold nights the perfect time for some page turning warmth:


 Brock Clarke's latest novel, The Happiest People In The World, has it's leading man on the run but, despite changing countries, not far enough away from trouble.

Henry Larsen,aka Jens Baedrup, had to leave his native Denmark due to a controversial cartoon of his and is now living in upstate New York working as a high school guidance counselor. His hopes for his new life are high and there is even a potential new love in his life.

Unfortunately, that new relationship has a few downsides, such as his new lady love Ellen being married to Matty,the local school principal that Henry's former CIA contact Locs is desperately in love with. Oh, and by the way, Henry left behind a wife in Denmark, who's not too happy with him right about now. As Henry goes forth into the brave new world he's now in, a wake of unintended chaos is trailing behind him and getting closer all the while.

I happily recall discovering Clarke's engaging eccentric realm with An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England and this new book from him appears to be another wild ride worth reading. A satirical look at our current worries about security with a dash of lovelorn drama and the perils of hiding in plain sight, The Happiest People In The World should be a real joy (November):


Iconic comedian Martin Short takes a semi-serious look at his life in his memoir I Must Say, but not too serious as the book's subtitle, "My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend" shows.

Short talks about his career from his days as a member of Second City to SCTV and Saturday Night Live, plus his movie making adventures. He also delves into his personal side, including the loss of his beloved wife to cancer and how he has learned to cope with such sorrows over the years.

For fans of Short, a extra treat here is that many of his classic characters such as Jiminy Glick, Jackie Rodgers Jr. and of course, Ed Grimley are given their turn at the mike to share their side of this story of the man many consider to be "the comedian's comedian". A thoughtfully smart and smile worthy peek into one man's life and art(November):

 In Scot Saul's biography Becoming Richard Pryor,  the comedic legend's life and times are thoroughly examined, as extensive research into not only his childhood but his turbulent road to fame as well.

Based upon numerous interviews, previously unpublished journals and other sources, Saul paints a full portrait of Pryor as a man who lived his art on his sleeve and broke new ground in both the world of entertainment and race relations. His rises and falls over the years have made Richard Pryor an amazing man to watch as well as a major force for change.

This is the second book to come out about Richard Pryor within the last couple of years and I hope that many more will follow, as he was a true comedic genius that each new generation should get to know(December):


I have signed up for a couple of blog tours this season, featuring paperback editions of a pair of novels that ought to be suitable for stocking stuffers or bedside reading.

At the moment, I'm in the midst of While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell, which takes a very different approach to the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Our narrator is Elise, a young woman who rises from a serving girl at the palace to the position of lady's maid to Queen Lenore.

Lenore's desire to have a child leads her to a less than divine alliance with her domineering aunt Millicent and when her husband the king banishes Millicent from his court, fear for their newborn daughter Rose becomes the order of the day. Meanwhile, Elise has ambitions of her own that slowly yet surely interfere with her own personal happiness.

Blackwell gives this well known fairy tale a nifty tweak and so far, it's quite the engaging read. I'll have a full review of the book soon and all I will say is that it's not very Disney, not in the traditional sense at least(November):

My other blog tour read is Stephanie Thornton's The Tiger Queens, a fictional focus on the women behind the throne of Genghis Khan's empire.

One of the major ladies here is Borte, destined at birth to be part of a sweeping change which comes in the form of Temujin, a warlord whose blood brother she falls in love with. Regardless of her heart's desire, she is made into his queen and their daughter Alaqai becomes a warrior maiden in her own right.

Other formidable women make their mark here, such as ambitious widow Sorkhokhtani and prisoner turned loyalist Fatima. This should be an interesting look at the unacknowledged female power and influence of one of history's best known dynasties and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on it this season with all of you(November).


Sherlock Holmes never seems to die, despite even his creator's attempt to take him out over Reichenbach Falls at the hands of his arch nemesis, who was also said to perish. That deadly meeting is the headliner of Anthony Horowitz's new thriller, a follow-up to the author's previous Holmesian tale House of Silk.

Moriarty has a Pinkerton operative named Frederick Chase seeking the truth behind the the supposedly fatal encounter. Teamed up with Scotland Yard investigator Athelney Jones, Chase is in pursuit of any criminal contenders to the now vacant throne held in the underworld by the Napoleon of Crime.

Their quest takes many turns, with a good number of candidates but one particular target in mind, a devious American counterpart to Moriarty that may be eager to expand his considerable horizons. Even if you're not a big Sherlock Holmes fan, this novel sounds like a smart and snappy journey into that classic detective wonderland(December):

Priya Parmar takes a fresh look at two of the central members of the Bloomsbury Group with her novel Vanessa and Her Sister that gives painter Vanessa Bell her own voice.

She and her siblings, including the moody Virginia , decide to make a new home in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury in 1905, where their artistic friends find a welcome haven from the critical eye of  their personal and professional elders. Both Vanessa and Virginia struggle with their muses yet it is when Vanessa falls in love with Clive Bell that their harmony is truly threatened.

Forced to chose between being Virginia's mainstay and a loving wife and mother, Vanessa makes choices that offer a less than best situation for all concerned. This should be an interesting read for more than just English Lit lovers as this tale of two sisters resonates with heartfelt spirit through time(December):

Whether or not you're gift giving, I hope some of these books make their way to you before the time for new calendars approaches. Even if you are, just remember that it is the thought that counts, although it wouldn't hurt to know a little about that special book you're planning to give to someone special(especially the title!):

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