Best New Books of 2011: Mary P.’s Picks

Hi from your friendly neighborhood book blogger extraordinaire, Mary P.!  As a regular reviewer on this blog I’ve been lucky to share my thoughts on a number of books, and of course I have a few more favorites to recommend.  My reading taste is eclectic, but I tend to lean towards non-fiction, humorous works, historical fiction, chick lit, and books for teens.  I think my picks for the 5 best books of 2011 reflects this, with a tinge of supernatural thrown in for fun!

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Set in the buildup and terror of the French Revolution, this novel follows the path of the young wax sculptress, Marie Grosholtz, who would eventually become the famous Madame Tussaud, as she and her family walks the fine line of survival during the tumultuous times. A self proclaimed survivalist, Marie and her family pays court to both royalist and revolutionaries as she serves as a tutor to a princess of France and obeys the demands of the mobs.  Moran’s excellent historical novel brings to life a fascinating time in history and a moving portrayal of Madame Tussaud.

BossyPants by Tina Fey
Before 30 Rock, before Sarah Palin, before even SNL, Tina Fey was just a Greek girl growing up outside Philadelphia with overly protective father and an already quirky sense of humor.  In her memoir, Fey tells the story of childhood and rise to fame from her summers in children’s theater to the long days of travel for the improv group Second City in Chicago to the challenges of working in the male dominated world of comedy writing.  And of course, since she is Tina Fey, this memoir is hilarious.  For fans of Fey, this books is a sure hit, and for you other five people, don’t worry you’ll enjoy it too.

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
On a hot summer day in 1954, 13-year old Jubid Watts heads south from her Charlotte, North Carolina home on vacation with her family and Mary, the family’s black maid.  Mary has always been Jubie’s favorite; her protector from her father’s violent temper and her mother’s indifference and a source of unconditional love.  As the family travels further south, Jubie witnesses the growing racism towards Mary.  When a tragedy occurs on the trip home, Jubie must come to terms with what others think and feel and what she knows is right.

I’m Kind of a Big Deal by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor
Stephanie Wilder-Taylor is not a household name.  She has had a successful writing career on television and with books, but not the fame she was sure she would have as a 17 year old running away from home to become famous.  Her memoir chronicles her struggling years as a stand-up comedian, a lousy actress (her words), and a worse waitress.  Her stories of trying to make it big by being an obscure extra in an obscure Bob Dylan video or a cynical contestant on a dating show will keep you laughing and cheering for the author’s eventual success.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This book is the cure for all the supernatural fans who like the idea of vampires, witches, love, and much more, but want a mature book that goes beyond teenage romances and angst.  Diana Bishop is an American scholar doing research in the famed Bodleian Library in Oxford when she unwittingly comes across a bewitched alchemy manuscript.  Descendant of a long line of distinguished witches,  Diana has spent all of her life denying her powers and living as a human.  However, the discovery of the manuscript and the arrival of vampire Michael Clairmont will soon force Diana to come to terms with her past and her powers.

If any of these titles interesting you, they are linked to the Wake County Public Libraries catalog so you can find them at the libraries.  And if you have read any, please feel free to add yoru opinion in the comments (but only if you agree with me … Just kidding).

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