Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

The Prague Sonata – a musical journey

Culturally and emotionally fulfilling, The Prague Sonata: A NovelĀ is a quest set around music and war.

A young musicologist receives a gift of a hauntingly beautiful 18th century sonata manuscript, with the request she locate the other two movements to the sonata and put it into the hands original owner who separated it during WWII to protect it from the Nazis. The work is clearly the composition of a master composer but who?? And because the manuscript obviously has value she isn’t the only one trying to locate it.

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Books people bring to jury duty – from my day as “book detective”

Jury duty…one of the few places in today’s world you will see ALMOST EVERYONE carrying a book. Why? Because electronic devices (even e-readers) are not allowed in the courtroom and potential jurists know they may have LOTS of downtime. Therefore, even people who haven’t picked a book up years may be reading.

I actually like jury duty and not just for the chance to read – ha! However, this time around I reported on Monday for a very short time and was never called back during the week (darn it!!).

During the half hour or so I was in the jury room on Monday, I was playing “book detective” trying to see what books people brought. Would it have been creepy to obviously look at the books and jot down titles? I thought so. So my list below only includes the books I could reasonably and non obviously look at and also remember until I was released and had time to make notes (this was difficult!!) Oh how I wish I could have continued this “study” throughout the day and week!

Is this a recommended reading list? NO. Although I did find a couple I may buy for myself or others.

As you probably know, in the courtroom, jurors are anonymous and only identified by a number. Therefore, the potential jurists reading these books will also remain anonymous and are only identified as Jurors 1-6. Also I need to remember to use “carrying” not “reading” as I have no evidence they were actually reading the book (as we never got to the “downtime) please let the record show these books were only carried in by the person šŸ˜‰

Here are the books I spotted at jury duty:

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Manhattan Beach – loved it!

If you read the goodreads reviews on Manhattan Beach you will see varied and strong opinions. Many people who loved Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, did not like this one. But you can count me in the group who loved this newer book, only the second I’ve read off my fall/winter reading list.Ā  In fact I was excited to also add it to my WWII reading list.

“With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Jennifer Egan’s first historical novel is a world of gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men.”

As the above note from the publisher implies, a lot is going on in this book. There is a family story, a strong woman helping the war effort story (the main character is the first female Naval diver), a love story about the sea, and a gangster plot that is integrated into all these other stories. It is sometimes a light read and sometimes not. Parts of it reminded me of several different books, but taken all together I have not read anything like it ( a good thing!).

For me it all worked, and in fact it is one of my favorite books of the year though I still feel my favorite is out there somewhere waiting for me to read it…

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Jamie Ford books. First up: Love and Other Consolation Prizes

I finished reading Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel by Jamie Ford just in time to meet him at my local library. And I just bought his other two books, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (a bestseller), and Songs of Willow FrostĀ so IĀ  could get them signed by him before reading them too.

RELATED POST: Meeting the PulitzerĀ  Prize winning author of The Sympathizer

The themes of his books appear to revolve around Asian immigrants in Seattle and the stories are on the “sentimental” side, maybe a bit too much for me. But I did still really enjoy this book, which is about a young boy, Ernest, who is auctioned off at the 1902 Worlds Fair to a lady who runs a brothel. The boy ends up loving his new and glamorous life as a houseboy and later a driver for this brothel.

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New books to read this fall & winter

I am excited to present my fall and winter reading list: the books I plan to cozy up with during these upcoming colder months (I meant to create this list sooner but it just got cold here!!).

I hope you’ll join me in reading the books that interest you.

What do I look for in a book, and why did these make my list? I’m still looking for my “favorite book of the year” and although I have some contenders, nothing yet has compared to my favorite book of last year.Ā  I am looking for “epic” books that teach me something about life and myself, and they have to be entertaining as well. A lot to ask, I know!

So here are theĀ  newly published (or soon to be published) books that I’m mostĀ  looking forward to reading soon:

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I finally read Jane Eyre and am sorting out my feelings for Mr. Rochester

My thesis advisor told me that even professors of literature have at least one book they are embarrassed to admit they have never read (she wouldn’t even tell me hers!!) so I am not too embarrassed to admit: This is the first time I have read Jane Eyre. (This is of course not the only classic I have not read, but I’m not going to admit to the others right now!!)

Intrigued by the recently released Mr. Rochester, which I put on my summer reading list,Ā  I knew I finally needed to read Jane Eyre first.

Because this is a book many of you have already read, my forthcoming discussion will contain spoilers. I hope you will join me in discussion about Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester.

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies

I just finished a wonderful book, one I couldn’t put down and one that made me laugh and cry: The Heart’s Invisible Furies: A Novel is a perfect example of why I love to read new books.

The heart of this novel by John Boyne, known for his bestselling novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is set Ireland, and even when the characters leave Ireland, it is still a novel about Ireland.

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The Sympathizer – on page and in person

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer: A Novel won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This book was already on my radar; I enjoyed two other recent winners of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction:

RELATED POST: All the Light We Cannot See (winner 2015)

RELATED POST: Underground Railroad (winner 2017)

So when I saw he was coming to my town to speak, I paused work on my summer reading list, which I am frantically trying to finish, to read this award-winning novel. And what a great decision this was!!! Reading this book plus seeing him speak and experiencing the audience’s reaction to his book ending up a highlight of my literary year.

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The Force and “Denny Malone”

I needed a couple of days to work out my feelings for “Denny Malone,” the good cop/bad cop character in The Force: A Novel. Whatever I end up thinking of Malone, a fictional character, it is a testament to a writer and a book that I was so conflicted.

This book was included on my summer reading list and is one of the last I’m finishing up before moving on to making a fall reading list. (My summer reading list is updated with several reviews and reflections.)

Denny Malone is a bad cop in the way that he takes bribes, takes money and drugs from crime scenes, and even sells the drugs back to the street. He does this all supposedly to “provide for his family” even though he usually chooses not to see them. These are some of the problems I have with Denny Malone. Also that “The fuck” without a question mark is often the way he asks a question in the dialogue.

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Books my 3rd grader can’t put down!

I love that my kids love to read. My oldest will actually read through football games and shopping trips. Sometimes it’s a bit much, even for me! And when I’ve mentioned his habits to other parents – and parents have actually stopped us in a store or at a game – they want to know: What is he reading that is soooo engrossing??

So I put together a different type of reading list than my usual.

These recommendations are for (approximately) 3rd graders. Most of these are OK for 2nd-4th graders; my son can read at a higher level; however, he still prefers books in the “doodle fiction” or cartoon-ish genre. Even though he is an avid reader, he is VERY particular about what he wants to read. The books that are just pure words that I wish he would read, well he is just not too interested yet. And I’ve decided not to fight it for now, because at least he is reading…right?? So because the books I’ve listed are not too “heavy,” they are great picks for kids who aren’t as excited about reading as well as for those who are already bookworms.

And these books are all part of a series so you can go back for more if the first one is a hit with your child! Continue reading

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