Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, April 29, 2019

Getting ready to relax and read this May and June

At long last, the spring weather is upon us(despite the occasional chill) and we can make some fun plans that involve the great outdoors.

Of course, staying inside with a good book is a fine option as well and there are plenty of new releases heading our way this May and June that should set up a suitable late spring/early summer TBR to sit back in the shade with:


Jean Kwok's upcoming novel, Searching for Sylvie Lee, deals with two sisters in two different countries as Amy Lee leaves New York for Amsterdam in order to find her older sister Sylvie.

While this is Amy's first visit to the Netherlands, Sylvie grew up there, leaving at age nine when her family emigrated to the US. She returned recently due to the death of her grandmother yet their relatives in Amsterdam,particularly second cousin Lukas, haven't seen her lately and are growing as concerned about her whereabouts as the American side of the family is.

Amy is far from outgoing but has no choice in putting herself out there to track Sylvie down. During her impromptu investigation, she discovers a few secrets from the past that could explain where her sister went to yet also include another important member of the family into this mysterious mix. Having read Kwok's earlier engaging novels(Girl in Translation, Mambo in Chinatown), I have a wonderful feeling about this book that could blossom into a really big read for many to enjoy this season and beyond(June).


 A young couple takes a trip they won't soon forget in The Snakes by Sadie Jones as Bea and her husband Dan decide to go on vacation from London by driving around the countryside.

One major stop lands them at a desolate hotel,owned by Bea's rich yet distant family, where her shifty brother Alex is staying. While the place is a literal wreck that is crawling with the title creatures,most of which are not poisonous, what really makes Dan and Bea's stay unbearable is the sudden arrival of her parents whose wealth and obnoxious ways do hand in hand.

Cutting the family reunion short gets to be complicated,however, as Alex goes missing one dark night and the lists of suspects in his disappearance is rather short to say the least. Or, is there a more sinister ploy at play here that traps Bea and Dan as unwitting yet at risk pawns? This tale of familial foils that become as slippery as serpents sounds like the kind of good old school thriller that would make for a fiercely fine night at the movies indeed(June):

 Author Liv Constantine follows up her first novel(The Last Mrs. Parrish) with another tightly woven thriller, this time set in Baltimore.

 The leading lady of The Last Time I Saw You is Kate English, a well-to-do surgeon whose seemingly perfect life has taken a few brutal blows of late, what with throwing out her cheating husband Simon and the shocking death of her beloved mother.

To make matters worse, a threatening series of text messages,with the gruesome addition of some real world ones, sent to Kate are convincing her that she is the next target of a dangerous killer, possibly the one that murdered her mother as well.

So far, the only help she's getting is from Blaire , a childhood friend that Kate reunited with recently who happens to be a successful mystery writer. Can these two find the killer before it's too late or are things even stranger than they seem? A truly juicy suspense story can be hard to find but this latest outing from Constantine and company might fit the bill nicely(May).


 In Mistress of the Ritz, writer Melanie Benjamin introduces us to Blanche and Claude Auzello, who find themselves playing hosts to German occupying troops in Paris of WWII.

As manager of the renowned Ritz hotel, Claude is less than thrilled with these unwelcome new guests as much as his bold American wife is. However, unbeknownst to each other, Blanche and Claude join the French Resistance and use the hotel as a neutral zone for the cause.

Doing their best to help their country, the two of them keep a number of secrets and lies between them along with a few that are directly tied to their marriage. Towards the end of the war, a situation arises that demands a bit of truth telling from both of them to save the day. Benjamin's knack for making historical figures come alive on the page promises to make this new novel a brilliant blast from the past to embrace(May):


 A tale of young love during turbulent times in Iran is the heart of Marjan Kamali's novel, The Stationary Shop.

The title establishment, owned by kindly Mr. Fakhri, becomes the meeting place in 1953 for Roya, a young woman studying at university thanks to the new reforms in place, and Bahman, whose passion for politics is matched by his admiration for the poems of Rumi.

As their love blooms, the world around them rapidly begins to change, forcing them apart for many reasons. Mr. Fakhri does help them by being the go-between for a series of secret letters yet a chance for an elopement doesn't go off as planned.

Decades later, the possibility of a reunion is made available to Roya but is it worth the risk after all of these years? Such a heartfelt romance could be the bittersweet surprise read of the summer(June):

The literary lady of Kim Michele Richardson's new novel The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is Cussy Carter, a young woman in 1930s Kentucky whose coal miner father thinks ought to be married off by now.

Due to a genetic disorder that tints her skin a deep shade of blue, her chances at marriage are few and far between, which is just fine with Cussy. She prefers her work as a pack horse librarian, chosen by a government program to bring books and reading to the remote Appalachian regions of the state.

Despite the joy she feels from delivering books and advice to the folks on her route,who also appreciate her services, Cussy is made downhearted by a local preacher who accuses her of being evil because of her blue skin and even endangers her life. The opportunity for a cure could change her life for the better but at what price and who else might stand in her way?

This does sound like a story that needed to be told sooner as the pack horse library that Cussy was a part of was real and should inspire others to spread the love of literature as far and as widely as they can(May):

No doubt they will be even more great books to check out as summer arrives, but I do think that this set of fresh new reads should make for a fine start. There will even be a few movie tie-in titles, such as Where'd You Go Bernadette, that should combine both forms of entertainment together like a beautiful bookish bow around a buttery bag of popcorn.

Kind of an awkward metaphor, I know but hopefully, you can find a good book based movie that can make the impending summer heat all the more bearable:

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