The Accidental Feminist
by M.G. Lord
(Walker & Company, 192 pages, $22)
The L.A.-based writer gives Elizabeth Taylor what she gave Barbie in her “unauthorized” biography of the doll: a seat at history’s table, walking us through Taylor’s movies with a fresh set of 3-D glasses. J.D. Salinger called Taylor “the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.” The well-crafted work mines the depths of a legacy that began when she first stole our hearts in National Velvet in 1944.
–Susan Salter Reynolds
by Lysley Tenorio
(Ecco, 240 pages, $14)
Grandiose dreams lure B-grade movie stars from the poverty of Manila streets to the doldrums of Los Feliz and Pasadena apartments. Revenge is sweet when the Beatles insult Imelda Marcos. A 20-year-old woman in a leper colony and an American soldier gone AWOL share their homesickness for Santa Monica. Melting pot antics, dystopia, distant galaxies—heroes abound in these eight weird and compelling stories.
The Wrecking Crew
by Kent Hartman
(Thomas Dunne Books, 304 pages, $26)
When Phil Spector crammed a bunch of top-notch session musicians into one L.A. studio to create his Wall of Sound, the Wrecking Crew was born. From veteran rock journalist Kent Hartman, this homage to L.A.’s rock and roll past reveals tales about the legendary ’60s and ’70s acts the Crew backed—and often secretly stood in for—from the Beach Boys to the Byrds to Sinatra.
–Julia St. Pierre
The Wolf Gift
by Anne Rice
(Knopf, 404 pages, $26)
The original queen of vampire lit—who moved to Palm Desert in 2005—now does for excess body hair what she once did for pale skin. Rice is late to the werewolf (or here, “morphenkind”) party, as members of Team Jacob are aware. But with fresh meat as her muse and Mendocino’s craggy cliffs as her setting, Rice once again creates a new mythology for a classic beast. While it reads too screenplay ready, the story is delicious.
–Lesley Bargar Suter