Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Making new cinematic connections in the Movie Trailer Park

Autumn is rarely seen as a season of change and that usually goes for fall films as well. However, I have spotted a trio of upcoming movies that do feature unlikely friendships(and romances) between people who otherwise would not meet that promises to change the course of their lives.

First up is Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon as Alice, a newly separated woman with two kids who is far from looking for a new love. During a birthday night out with her friends, she meets a much younger man(Pico Alexander) who is not simply a one night stand.

Instead, Alice allows him and his two brothers, all three of them aspiring filmmakers, to move in with the odd approval of her mother(Candice Bergen). As soon as word spreads about this new family dynamic, Alice's husband Austen(Michael Sheen) decides to step back into the picture.

 Quite an extended family set up here but this does appear to be an amusing and possibly engaging portrait of the typical May-December romance flipping the script:

For something a bit more dramatic, we have The Mountain Between Us,  based upon Charles Martin's 2010 novel. Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is in need of a quick flight in order to perform a major surgery and photojournalist Alex
Martin(Kate Winslet) needs one as well to get to her wedding on time.

The two of them decide to share a charter plane after the airlines cancel their flight due to inclement weather. Unfortunately, they were unable to avoid the encroaching storm and while they survive the plane crash, Alex and Ben find themselves alone in the wilderness.

With Ben's medical training and Alex's determination as their main assets, the two of them head out into the unknown to reach civilization, relying on each other to make it through the numerous obstacles in their path. The trailer does showcase this as more of a survival story than a romance but I hope we do get a good mix of both genres here:

To round things off, Judi Dench is once again playing Queen Victoria in a film about Her Majesty feeling down in the doldrums and reviving her spirits by embarking on a new relationship that irks her contemporaries.

Victoria & Abdul takes place during the latter years of the Queen's life as many of her family and friends seem to be more than ready for her to be at the end of her time. Yet, she takes a renewed interest in living due to a growing friendship with Abdul Karim(Ali Fazul), a servant from India.

Fearful of the influence that Abdul may have over her, the Prince of Wales(Eddie Izzard) threatens to declare her insane, something that no one in their right mind would try to pin on this particular royal diva!  As a fan of her performance in Mrs. Brown, seeing Judi Dench take on this matriarchal mantle at the movies again is a treat suited for more than just tea time:

In times like these, it's good to see unlikely friends and lovers pair up onscreen to overcome the odds against them, both from without and within. Of course, some offbeat bonds have more practical purposes such as saving the world from a death goddess as the Hulk and Thor do, with a few dubious new companions, in Thor:Ragnarok. Yeah, teaming up to defeat a common enemy can bring very unlikely people together, that's for sure!:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The bright and the dark side of solar eclipse cinema

I'm doing a special Sunday post today, in honor of the solar eclipse due to arrive tomorrow in the USA. A significant scientific moment for our country and not to be missed,even on TV.

While my particular neck of the woods is not within the line of totality(aka, a place on the map expected to be fully affected), this promises to be quite an event as one thing that pop culture has taught me, it's that a solar eclipse is an event that portends change.

From books to film over the years, a solar eclipse has often been seen as something that borders on the mystical and could tilt the scales for either good or evil. To showcase this point better, here are a handful of cinematic examples of what a solar eclipse can do:

BREAK A CURSE: For many of us, the 1985 fantasy film Ladyhawke instantly springs to mind as the leading romantic couple(played by Rutget Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer) are both near and far to each other, thanks to the complexities of a rogue bishop's curse.

Hauer's knight is enchanted to be human by day and a wolf at night, while his lady love Pfeiffer is a hawk by sunrise and a woman by sunset. Not an easy thing to work around, to say the least.

However, there is one chance to break that spell by being together in human form and part of that cure involves "a day without night and a night without day", a notion that Hauer's character finds hard to believe until it actually happens and truly helps him save the day:

CONCEAL THE ARRIVAL OF A SPACE INVADER: In Little Shop of Horrors, hapless Seymour is constantly asked about his finding of the seemingly innocent looking Audrey II and his story is a simple one told in song.

During a regular visit to his favorite exotic plant store, a total eclipse of the sun occurs and when daylight returns, this strange new plant that he swore wasn't there before just catches his eye. As we all know what happened to Seymour and friends afterwards, a good lesson to take away from this is not to go plant shopping during an eclipse or immediately after!:

CONCEAL A CRIME: As Stephen King shows us in one of his more realistic horror stories, Dolores Claiborne, sometimes a solar eclipse is a dark blessing in disguise.

Both the book and the 1995 film adaptation turn on battered wife Delores' decision to do away with her horrible husband Joe St. George during an eclipse. Since they live in a remote island community, it's the perfect distraction for both her vicious spouse and local authorities, more concerned with keeping folks on the water safe from harm.

It's a harrowing scene in the book yet the film version is highly enhanced by Kathy Bates' performance, a perfect storm of anger, heartbreak and calculation in order to save herself and her daughter from the daily terror that is Joe St. George:

COMPLETE A QUEST: In the first Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film from 2001, our heroine must find the pieces of a "Triangle of Light" in order to take advantage of a special planetary alignment that is capped off by, you guessed it, a solar eclipse.

To get that last piece, Lara has to play leap frog with a giant moving model of the solar system, with plenty of bad guys hot on her heels, trying to get to the sun where that special prize is to be found. Does she succeed?  Come on, whose name is in the title there, folks?:

With that, I hope everyone has a good time in checking out the eclipse and unlike what you see in the movies, do wear those protective glasses if you 're taking part in real time,folks!

On another note, I am happy to see many of us here in America uniting together for a positive purpose, considering the tragic events in Charlottesville last week.  Condolences to all of those who were directly affected and sincere apologies to those expecting a mature and thoughtful response from our sadly current leader.

 Since we are clearly not going to get any meaningful support from the highest office in our land, it is up to all of us to look for strength and unity to square off against home grown evil from each other and I believe we're more than up to the challenge.

 In the meanwhile, let us look forward to better things such as the joy of being witness to a truly once in a lifetime event that should lighten our hearts indeed:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Checking out the fall fear fest at the Movie Trailer Park

While it is much too soon to think about Halloween(which never stops those early candy displays from showing up in stores by Labor Day), Hollywood already has a good number of fear filled flicks ready to roll for the autumn movie going season.

Some of these films will be out well before All Hallow's Eve,as well as after, and not all of them are out-and-out horror shows. So, whether you prefer your cinematic scares straight up with a twist or slow baked into a mystery meat pie, these trailers should serve as a sinister sampler of what's to come.

First up is Flatliners, which is a sequel and/or a reboot of the original 1990 movie about medical school students experimenting with life after death. Kiefer Sutherland does reprise his role from that film but the main focus of the plot is on Courtney(Ellen Page) who recruits her friends into joining her high tech quest to break on through to the other side.

As someone who has seen the 1990 version, this looks more like a reboot than a sequel to me yet why anyone felt this story needed to be followed up is beyond me.  The story doesn't seem that much different other than younger faces(Nina Dobrev,Diego Luna and Kiersey Clemons) and better special effects doing a modern re-enactment here. Then again, there may be more to this movie than meets the eye, we shall see in September:

Coming out in time for Halloween and on a Friday the 13th no less, Happy Death Day tags along for college student Tree Gelbman(Jessica Rothe)'s birthday on campus which ends in her gruesome demise.

However, Tree wakes up to discover that it's her birthday again and she must discover the identity of the masked killer before she meets her deadly fate yet again. Yep, this is Groundhog's Day crossed with Scream yet I suspect without none of the original creativity along for the ride.

This might be a fun little slasher movie, I suppose, but I don't know which is worse, the dopey mask that the killer wears or the constant replay of that goofy song that Tree chose as her ringtone for the day:

For something featuring grown-ups, director Darren Aronofsky brings us mother! this September and yes, the exclamation point and lower case lettering is intentional.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Grace, the young wife of Eli(Javier Bardem), who is helping her husband fix up their rather isolated country home. The arrival of  a pair of strangers(Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) sets off a strange string of events that disrupts their happy harmony or was it so happy to begin with?

The vibe that I'm getting from this trailer is in the vein of those European influenced suspense films of the 1960s, such as Rosemary's Baby or The Collector. Whether or not the source of the terror here is real or imagined, this does look like a film that will stir up plenty of discussion and hopefully, be worth talking about:

In the suspense section, we find The Snowman, an adaptation of one of the best selling Harry Hole detective novels from Norwegian crime author Jo Nesbo. Michael Fassbinder plays Harry, who is on the hunt for a serial killer that may have resurfaced from the past.

Working with new recruit Katrine Bratt(Rebecca Ferguson), Harry has to connect the current wave of murders to several cold cases in order to track down the killer, who has threatened to strike again at the next snow fall.

Nesbo does have a strong following and casting Fassbinder in the lead role is not too shabby. My only doubt comes from the end shot in this trailer that features a horrible surprise in a garage that might elicit more giggles than gasps from it's intended audience.

I may be wrong on that but my instinct is telling me that particular reveal may make the difference between The Snowman becoming a trick or a treat at the box office this October:

To round things up, Kenneth Branagh is not only directing the latest version of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, he is playing the lead role of detective Hercule Poirot as well.

That could work either for or against him, as not only is Poirot one of the most popular fictional detectives in pop culture history, several actors have portrayed him most memorable in the past, such as Albert Finney in the 1974 adaptation and David Suchet in the acclaimed BBC series from 1989 to 2013.

Folks do have their preferences when it comes to Poirot(personally, I enjoyed Peter Ustinov's take on the character) and many fans may be overly critical of Branagh's performance. Those arguments ought to be engaging, to say the least.

However, the real reason that most people will go to see this movie is not for the whodunnit plot(it has been adapted four times, after all) but the large cast, which includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom Jr, Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley to name a few.

It is fitting to have this film arrive in theaters in November as we will certainly be treated to quite the Thanksgiving feast of acting with the possibility of certain performances being deliciously sweet and sinister. If any more luck, hopefully this classic mystery will be a savory relief from our real world terrors and set the tone for better things to come from the reel world as well:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bad Movie Month shifts into gear with Maximum Overdrive

Welcome back to Bad Movie Month, folks, where we continue with our Worst of Stephen King theme by hitting the horrible highway heading for Bad Adaptation Road with 1986's Maximum Overdrive.

Like our previous entry,Children of the Corn, this  cinematic dumpster on fire with wheels is based upon a short story(entitled Trucks) from King's Night Shift collection. One of the main differences between those two hot movie messes,however, is that Stephen King was in the driver's seat as director/writer for this particular car wreck.

We start things off with an opening title card that explains what's about to happen as the earth is the tail of a strange comet whose effects are supposed to last for about a week or so. I'm sure this was meant to be helpful but it leaves so many questions unanwered.

For example, this celestial event is the reason given for all of the mechanical devices in the world to suddenly turn violent against humanity. Yet, not every machine seems to be on board with the new lethal program as while such things as trucks, soda can machines and even an electric carving knife come to life and draw first blood, regular cars don't attack people at all.

 If trucks can use their new found free will for evil, why not cars?  Surely, cars would be able to do plenty of damage to the human population,  right along side their eighteen-wheeler brethren, and we all know King is no stranger to evil cars there! I guess that King didn't want to go too far beyond the borders of his original short story here but there are hints of what else he had in mind as one poor guy is zapped by a video game machine with the added indignity of dying with snack cakes sticking out of his hat:

As in the short story, most of the action here is centered around the Dixie Boy truck stop run by the sleazy owner Hendershot(Pat Hingle) and all too soon, the hapless staff and civilians are held captive by a band of trucks relentlessly circling the place.

The leader of the trucks appears to be a toy delivery vehicle,which has the gruesome grinning face of Spiderman's arch nemesis, The Green Goblin, mounted on the front grille. How Marvel let them have that in this movie, I don't know, but then again, it gives that big rig more of a personality than most of the human actors here:

Speaking of lack of personality, Emilio Estavez is intended to be our hero, playing diner cook Bill whose biggest grip until the trucks take over is being cheated out of his overtime pay due to his ex-con status by Hendershot.

It's a legitimate complaint but really doesn't add much to either him or the situation at hand, not even when Hendershot gleefully tells Bill's new found girl friend(more on that in a moment) about his short lived life of crime. Estavez maintains the same level of annoyance at that as he does toward the killer trucks outside, which registers as moody with a side of grumpy and a dash of belated teen angst:

Estavez's laconic performance(which earned him a Golden Raspberry nomination) is more than made up for by Pat Hingle's glee at chewing the scenery in the same manner that his character chomps his cheap cigars.

Both of them, however, are out done by the ladies in this film, two out of the three being world class hysterical. Sure, killer machines are something worthy to be upset about yet the screech levels that these gals reach could break the sound barrier at times.

From Yeardley Smith's newly wed whiner with her brilliant questions such as "Curtis, are you dead?" to Dixie Boy waitress Wanda June(Ellen McElduff) who takes the revolt of the trucks way too personally, the only feminine strength on display here is lung power.

 Sure, we do have the feisty hitchhiker(Laura Harrington) who fights off the advances of a sleazy salesman only to fall into bed with moody cook Bill*pause for serious eye-roll* but even she doesn't get to do much of anything to fight back against the murder machines. The only woman who does that in the entire film(and not by much other than her "We Made YOU!" stance) pays for that greatly well before the end credits:

I know, I know, this wasn't intended to be anything other than a grade Z drive-in type of movie but still, at least one female character could've been more than a helpless maiden in distress or a sexy sidekick.

To be fair, most of the characters were pretty dumb, especially in taking their sweet time to load up with the stash of weapons under the diner(how convenient!) to fight their way out of the truck stop. Instead, they let the trucks blackmail them into refueling them for hours on end, a sequence that is laughable sad to say the least.

King has said that making this movie was a "learning experience" and the lesson he got from it was to never do something like this again. At least the man is smart enough to learn from his mistakes, unlike some I could mention. A made-for-TV film was made from Trucks several years later but the reviews for that were only slightly better than the critical thrashing that Maximum Overdrive received.

Stop by next week, folks, to see Firestarter blow things up real good! Yeah, Drew Barrymore and Stephen King movies tend not to mix together very well indeed, kind of like popcorn and motor oil:

Friday, August 11, 2017

My summer of Series-ous Reading introduces me to Jane and The Genius of the Place

For my summer selection in my Series-ous Reading challenge, I thought that the fourth book in Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen Mystery series,Jane and The Genius of the Place, would be a quick read.

 Turns out, it took longer than I expected(partly due to my putting it aside during the High Summer Readathon) but that is not the fault of the book at all.

Here, we come upon our Miss Austen during a visit to her brother Edward and his family at Kent in the year 1805. Jane, along with her delightful snarky sister-in-law Elizabeth and brother Henry Austen,attends the annual horse races in Canterbury and as soon as the main race is over and done with, a brutal murder is discovered to have taken place nearby.

 The victim is Francoise Grey, the youthful wife of well-established(and far older than she) banker Valentine Grey, found strangled by her own hair ribbon and placed in a carriage owned by Denys Collingforth, one of several men whom the lady was known to have a serious flirtation with.

Since Edward happens to be the local Justice of the Peace, he must investigate the crime and is willing to take assistance from any quarter, including Jane who he knows has prior experience in such matters.

 I really enjoyed that aspect of the story, not putting Jane in a position where she would have to sneak around for evidence(although she does a little of that) or have her input be ignored. Kind of gives the book a Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew vibe to it:

While Collingforth flees the scene, he is not the most likely candidate to have done away with Mrs. Grey as Jane and friends soon learn.

In addition to the other gentlemen callers she entertained, Francoise also received regular correspondence from her adoptive family back in France, a rather difficult  thing to do given the tensions between Napoleonic France and England during such a time.

Her main correspondent was the Comte de Penfleur, who is said to have had strong affections for Francoise and less than thrilled that she married Valentine as part of a business alliance at best. Was it a jealous lover, a jealous husband or another party who unwittingly shared secrets with the seductive Mrs. Grey who made her last time on horseback a truly final finish?:

While Jane and her brothers look into some of the inconsistencies of Francoise's death-how was it that the lady was seen by all to be riding away from the races yet found only a short time later in Collingforth's carriage without her signature red riding coat?-a new source of intrigue enters the scene.

Julian Sothey, a "Gentleman Improver" happened to be a trusted guest at the estate of the Greys, giving helpful hints as to the renovation of the grounds and quite the charming fellow to boot. His sudden appearance catches many a lady's eye but is he truly trustworthy?

 Jane does find him agreeable company but soon suspects that Julian knows more than he's telling and perhaps answers can be found in the confidence of Anne Sharpe, governess to Jane's young niece Fanny, who seems to know Julian far better than she respectably should:

The story does take a couple of twists and turns that I didn't expect yet all in all, it was engaging to read. I did adore Elizabeth, who seemed to have a droll remark for every occasion, and while I did wish for a slightly more dramatic ending, this did work out well.

I did think that I would be spending more of my summer reading with a much longer book for Series-ous Reading but a change of plans can be good, so I'll finish out the remainder of this season with Daniel O'Malley's The Rook, the first in the Checquy Files series.

This supernatural spy story has a very inventive blend of Jason Bourne meets Atomic Blonde with a sharp tang of Buffy the Vampire Slayer laced with Kingsmen. Sounds a bit all over the place but trust me, this novel is more organized than my description of it. So, see you all in September with more Series-ous Reading to come:

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bad Movie Month babysits the Children of the Corn

Welcome back,folks, for more of Bad Movie Month where we are somewhat celebrating The Worst of Stephen King.

 A good number of bad Stephen King based movies can be traced back to his first short story collection,Night Shift. The film rights for that book were sold off in the early days of King's career, long before the term "creative control" became many a writer's best friend in Hollywood.

That particular book even has a cameo in one of best examples of how not to make a short story a full length feature, the camp classic Children of the Corn from 1984.

The original tale has a middle aged couple, Burt and Vicky, driving thru Nebraska on a deserted highway where they accidentally hit a child on the road and seek some help from the nearest town called Gatlin.

Turns out, that kid was already a goner and as our hapless heroes discover, the whole town is overrun with creepy kids who worship He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a deity that demands blood sacrifice in exchange for fresh corn crops. I like corn on the cob,too, but that's quite the steep price there!

That sense of mystery is completely blown by the beginning of this movie, as we start things off with a flashback to the slaughter of the grown-ups,ordered by kiddie cult leader Issac(John Franklin).

Narration is provided by young Job(Robby Kiger), whose little sister Sarah likes to do psychic drawings, the kind that any sensible adult looking at them would be immediately reporting to CPS.

Job and Sarah have a strange little subplot going here, as they secretly rebel against Issac and his red headed henchman Malachi(Courtney Gains) by playing board games and listening to records, activities now forbidden by the New World Order in town. Malachi finds their lack of faith disturbing but Issac considers Sarah an asset for her "gift of sight." I swear, at times, this movie plays out like a satanic version of Bugsy Malone:

Meanwhile, a much younger than originally conceived Burt and Vicky(played by Peter Horton and a pre-Sarah Connor Linda Hamilton) hit an escaping corn child while needlessly driving down a back road.

 After placing the body in the trunk of their car(which doesn't potentially make them look suspicious to any strangers they come across for help, not at all!) they make their way to Gatlin and take a hell of a while to buy a clue that the whole place is abandoned and dangerous.

 Gee, everywhere we go in town, no one's around, the phones are out of order and the buildings are crawling with rats and creepy corn themed decorations-guess we should keep looking for help just because we found one kid in a deserted house! Burt is supposed to be a doctor but I suspect that his medical license came out of a box of Cracker Jack:

Eventually, Burt and Vicky are targeted by the corn fed care bears that run this place, with prolonged chase scenes for Burt and a spot on a corn stalk cross for Vicky.

Sure, she gets cut down briefly for Malachi's big "Outlander, we have your woman!" moment but surely, Linda Hamilton deserved a chance to fight back a little against these corny creeps,seriously!

Meanwhile, the more interesting plot line continues as Burt goes around lecturing the cutthroat choir about how they don't use religion the right way at all(it's like listening to internet commenters debate) with Malachi staging a coup over Issac and offering him up to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, who either burrows like a Caddyshack gopher or makes scary cartoon faces when attacked by fire.

During Burt's big scene as he smacks down Malachi, the best part comes when Issac returns from his visit with the Lord High Corndog to avenge himself upon his former right hand man. This whole movie would've been so much better if they had simply stuck with the kids and skipped the adult characters altogether here:

What's truly amazing about the whole Children of the Corn legacy is the number of films that followed. Including the made-for-Syfy channel remake in 2009, there are eight COTC movies, most of which went directly to video.

Granted, the Syfy channel remake did actually stay closer to the source material but other than that, I'm not sure what inspired such a cornsilk silly franchise like this to be born, other than an easy cash-in on King's name and the cult status of the first film. Hopefully, eight is enough when it comes to harvesting this crappy crop of cornball terror.

With that in mind, I hope you'll tune into next week's BBM selection as we take a Maximum Overdrive with Stephen King himself sitting not so pretty in the director's chair while cranking up AC/DC on the soundtrack as loud as he can:

Monday, August 07, 2017

Winding down my summer reading with a book haul or two

After coming off such a wild literary ride as the High Summer Readathon the other week, the pace of my regular reading has slowed down a tad bit.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm not abstaining from my books yet my page turning activity is more focused on finishing one book(for my Series-ous Reading challenge, on which I will be updating later on this week) than my usual spreading the wealth approach via reading several books at once.

To keep those bookish juices flowing, I made a little trip to the library and picked up a couple of titles that were published years apart yet just feel right together. The most recent one is Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker and yes, it is about that Mr. Rochester, the dark,brooding leading man of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

The story follows Edward Rochester from his childhood days, coldly ignored by his father and older brother Rowland, to his journey to Jamaica to earn his fortune and eventually back to England with an emotionally altered wife in tow until he meets a certain governess. So far, the story is rather engaging and feels as if it could have been written as a stand alone novel inspired by Bronte instead of a companion piece to the original book.

Shoemaker does have the right tone for the time period and while I am still in the early chapters of the book, her words are painting quite the sensitive portrait of such a classically conflicted character that I truly want to stay on to see the completed painting revealed right to the end:

I paired that with Mistress of My Fate by Hallie Rubenhold, a novel set during the late 18th century in England with a rather crafty heroine.

 Her name is Henrietta Lightfoot, a young woman raised to be a companion to her more well-off cousin Catherine and destined to be a poor relation/servant for the rest of her life. Well, that won't do for our girl as she schemes and seduces her way into a far better and more advantageous position than her family ever dreamed of.

This is meant to be the first of a trilogy and if this turns out to be as entertaining as it seems, I may have to see if the other books are readily available. From what I have seen from a casual glimpse through these pages, this story feels like the kind of old school fare that Jane Austen might have read in secret and smirked with joy through every chapter:

I also received a couple of books in the mail, one of which will be arriving at bookstores this week. Lisa Beazley's Keep Me Posted follows the correspondence of two sisters, Cassie and Sid, who are leading very domestic lives in separate countries.

While they both do have internet access, Sid is reluctant to share her personal thoughts even in an e-mail, so Cassie agrees to the letter writing scheme in order to stay in touch. Over time,however, Cassie misses being a working woman and decides to liven up her at-home mom life by keeping a blog, it's contents made up of scanned letters to and from her sister.

The blog was supposed to be private but a wrong click makes it very public and puts a serious strain on this sisterly bond.  Sounds like a good heartfelt story of love and (hopefully) forgiveness that should make for a lovely late summer read to me.

Speaking of lovely, I was happy to get a hold of The Little French Bistro by Nina George, whose previous book, The Little Paris Bookshop, was such a charmer. Our leading lady is Marianne, a German woman in Paris who flees her lackluster marriage via a rather drastic ruse.

She makes her way to the coastal county of Brittany, finding sanctuary in the small town of Kerdruc where the kitchen of the local bistro welcomes her, along with it's love stricken head chef.

Taking the chance to refresh her outlook on life, Marianne finds pleasure in the simplest things such as the taste of newly caught seafood and  is able to consider what she truly wants for her future. A book like this feels like a real vacation, right down to the exquisite flavors of the food to the emotional awakenings that give each character much to savor in their souls:

Well, it does make sense to feel a little slowed down around this time of year as the last few weeks of summer do tend to make leisure time a much cherished item to cling to. All too soon, back to school shopping has already begun and a whole new batch of books and movies suited to the cooling days of fall will be upon us.

The magic of summer is somewhat dependent on taking that break from the everyday,which any good book can do all year long. Yet, like turning that last page, facing the regular grind of reality after a good recess can make you a bit off kilter there. Luckily, we always have a few good books on hand to help us ease back into things, although some may be harder to adjust from than others: