Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

The Women in the Castle – the latest in WWII fiction

I just finished reading The Women in the Castle: A Novel, a solid addition to the WWII fiction genre that filled the void since I enjoyed The Nightingale and several others from the past few years.

In fact I am working on a WWII fiction reading list and I am going to keep this post short so I can get back to compiling that before Memorial Day! I have been compiling this reading list for several months now but keep wanting to “add one more” to the list…

The beginning of this new novel by Jessica Shattuck reminded me of Belgravia, where socialites are enjoying a party – this time in a Bavarian castle – and love is in the air. But war is on the horizon, so the fun is short lived and duty calls both soldiers and resistors away.

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For all you thrill seekers: The Perfect Stranger

Last year for Leslie’s Bookcase’s very first official book review I read All the Missing Girls: A Novel by Megan Miranda.

You may remember that I loved the book and recommended you clear your schedule and read this book immediately!

This year I had the opportunity – thanks to NetGalley – to download Miranda’s latest novel, The Perfect Stranger, in exchange for another honest review.

In this mystery/thriller, a failed journalist, Leah (though her failing is one  a reader can sympathize with), runs into an old friend “Emmy” and decides to move away with her for a fresh start. When “Emmy” disappears soon after their move, Leah realizes that  — on paper or the world wide web — the Emmy she knows doesn’t even exist. Leah’s credibility is once again at stake and she even becomes a suspect in Emmy’s disappearance. Thus Leah must work to uncover the truth herself.

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What’s your favorite Tom Petty song?

What’s your favorite Tom Petty song?

Ask this question to 10 different people and you are likely to get 10 different answers.

It’s a difficult question for many people to answer. But not me. I have my absolute favorite, and of course, several runner-ups. I’m sharing some thoughts and memories of these particular songs below.

Other people’s answers sometimes surprise me, and I at first think, Hmmm I wouldn’t put that one in my top Petty songs, but then when I listen to it again, I hear more of what they hear in it. I’m also sharing some of these below.

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The Yellow Envelope – an enjoyable memoir of traveling and giving

Can you imagine quitting your job and selling your house and possessions to travel the world for an indefinite amount of time?

I can, and I can’t.

Adventurous Leslie, who existed in college and for a few years afterwards, would consider this. Mom Leslie, who exists now, of course would not.

Adventurous Leslie who is somewhere still deep inside of me (maybe??) especially appreciated The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and A Life-Changing Journey Around the World, a memoir by Kim Dinan that reads as a travel and relationship diary. It is honest, engaging, and beautifully descriptive about many places in the world I will likely never see firsthand.

It is, however, the additional element of the “yellow envelope” that moves the memoir beyond just another story of a couple traveling the world.

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New fiction about WWII brides on The Queen Mary

Apparently during WWII 100,000 European women married American soldiers! So after the war, the U.S. government sent thousands of these women to America on The Queen Mary luxury liner, which is now docked in Long Beach, CA.

The latest of my many WWII fiction reads, A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner, follows the stories of three war brides as they experience the horrors of the war, meet their husbands, and later make the trip on the Queen Mary “across the ocean.” Of course as in many modern novels the chapters jump back and forth between past and present so a reader learns key information at various times to make the story most intriguing.

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A fun and giftable cookbook featuring meatloaf

Rarely do I find a useful cookbook that is also fun to read, but this one is both:  A Meatloaf in Every Oven: Two Chatty Cooks, One Iconic Dish and Dozens of Recipes – from Mom’s to Mario Batali’s.

A sampling of the passion these authors have for meatloaf:

“Show us a person’s meatloaf and we’ll show you that person’s soul. Meatloaf is a mirror: You are how you loaf.”

and

“Meatloaf is a metaphor: It’s life made loaf. You take what’s precious (in this case, the meat) and stretch it as far as it’ll go.”

This cookbook obviously focuses on meatloaf but it includes recipes from traditional to vegetarian to cultural favorites. The recipes include favorites from several famous chefs to politicians on both sides of the aisle. In total you get about 50 meatloaf recipes grouped into categories with dialogue and commentary included. There is a section at the end that includes yummy sides.

The book also provides helpful basic tips and techniques that span loaves:

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Buy this book for a teenager – The Hate U Give

I just finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the book it seems like “everyone is reading” and loving. This book currently has 4.72/5.0 stars on Goodreads!

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old black girl who has already witnessed the shooting deaths of two of her friends. The second of which is the basis of this book.

Her friend Khalil is unarmed and is shot by police while reaching for a hairbrush. This particular story is fiction. But it is inspired by and pays tribute to all those stories which are not fiction. The rest of the novel follows the aftermath and investigations in to the death and Starr’s personal journey to use her own voice to seek justice for Khalil.

“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice,” notes Starr.

I picked this book up with high expectations, not only because of the buzz surrounding it but also because this is a topic I am passionate about.

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Call of the Wild calling me back

In High School English class a couple of shorter books were very popular for book reports. I remember hearing SOOOO MANY oral book reports on The Old Man and The Sea and The Call of the Wild.

I heard about these books sooo many times, I never needed to read them myself at the time, and I didn’t until years later.

But when Call of the Wild was recently featured as a “literary cameo” in a show I was hooked on, I decided to read this book for myself, finally.

RELATED POST: Literary Cameos in The Night Of

And I now have to admit that these classmates who were being efficient were still getting quality reading in fewer pages than I might have been!

On seeing Green Day 20+ years after I fell in love with Dookie

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, who doesn’t look or act any older since releasing Dookie in 1994, expected a lot from his audience the other night. He demanded early on:

“Stand up! This isn’t a tea party; this is rock and roll!”

The entire audience agreed; everyone to the very top row was standing up for the entire concert.

Also he chastised a fan for taking a video, “When you are looking at me through your phone, you are not seeing me,” he said. So…I don’t have any videos or photos to show you because I was embracing the experience and giving them my full attention for the two and a half hours they rocked the State Farm Center!

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Homegoing….an epic, beautiful, absorbing novel

Homegoing: A Novel is an epic story spanning two continents and several lifetimes.

In eighteenth-century Ghana, two half-sisters are unaware of each other’s existence. One sister lives upstairs, in luxury, at Cape Coast Castle while the other is being held captive in the castle’s dungeon to be sold into American slavery.

Yaa Gyasi’s novel follows the descendants of these two women; each chapter is about a new generation. Thankfully, she has provided a family tree at the front of the book, and I referred to this often because I wanted to completely understand who I was reading about in each chapter. Each of these chapters, which covers only a snippet of each life, could have warranted a novel in its own right. I was NEVER ready to move on from each person’s story, but I always soon found myself immersed in the next person’s story.

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