A boring math teacher morphs into a war hero whose valor and daring bring him international acclaim. Stonewall Jackson is the stuff of spy novels: a tough warrior and tender lover, famous yet intensely private. In Rebel Yell, S. C. Gywnne paints a vivid portrait of Jackson from an orphan to a legendary general mourned by the North and South alike at his death.
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For snappy, tongue-in-cheek dialogue written by Mae West herself, try West’s 1932 film debut Night After Night . The queen of the double entendre rules all five movies in the Mae West Glamour Collection with bawdy charm.
William and Mary is a slice of modern lighthearted yet complicated British life. Julie Graham plays Mary, a midwife, and William, played by Martin Clunes, is an undertaker. The two meet and hope to finally get a relationship right. Life is hectic and unpredictable, but they find that as in birth and death, love is the most important and strongest force.
Van Duren came out of the same 70’s Memphis music scene as the cultishly adored band Big Star, so it isn’t too surprising that his 1977 debut album Are You Serious? draws heavily from shared influences like Badfinger and Todd Rundgren. Melodic almost to a fault, Are You Serious? is an overlooked gem of 70’s power-pop.
Janet Evanovich fans should try one of her novels in audio form. Told with a heavy Jersey accent, Takedown Twenty will give you a chuckle as New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum gets caught up in numerous crazy antics including a runaway giraffe. This time she is after Uncle Sunny Sunucchi, who is loved and protected by many relatives.
In Ernessa T. Carter’s spirited 32 Candles, Davidia Jones endures a tough childhood and then reinvents herself as a singer in Los Angeles. When she runs into her high school crush, her attraction is back in an instant, but so is her memory of a hurtful prank. When he pursues a romance, sparks fly. Will she get the “happy Molly Ringwald ending” she’s always wanted?
If you could change the course of your life or even the fate of the world – would you? This is the dilemma the main character in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life faces as she is born and reborn throughout her life. This darkly humorous, alternate history grabs you from the beginning and every beginning after.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is the ultimate high stakes adventure in the ultimate virtual world. When the creator of that world dies, his vast estate is willed to the first to complete his challenges. Coalitions form, corporations create armies and a few, like teenage Parzival, go solo. You don’t have to know or like gaming to enjoy this classic underdog hero story with a bonus level of 80s references.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey is filled with fascinating details on how famous creators scheduled their days, covering everything from how long they would work to their various quirks (Beethoven had a very unusual bathing routine). While the information may not be very useful, this little book is great for anyone interested in how people spend their time.
Rainbow Rowell has found success recently with novels like Eleanor & Park and Landline; however, I highly recommend her novel Fangirl. It centers on twin girls in their freshman year of college and how one twin is finding her social anxiety to be a bigger issue than she anticipated.