Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

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

“American War” – imaginative & terrifying

American War: A novel is imaginative and terrifying.

Set from 2075 – 2175, the former “United States” is separated into the “Red” southern states and the “Blue” northern states. They separated over fossil fuels – the reds wanted to keep using, and the blues did not. But now, so much more separates them as they fight a violent civil war.

Also in this new world — a map is included at the front of the book — Florida is completely gone (it fell into the ocean) as is much of Louisiana. South Carolina is completely quarantined for a disease.  Scared yet? Recent events (both political and environmental) make this an even more disturbing read.

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“Gone Country” and “Drive” with Alan Jackson

I embraced the opportunity to see Alan Jackson in concert. This may seem random considering the last few concerts I blogged about were: The Killers, Tom Petty, and Green Day.

But it wasn’t random. I have loved Alan Jackson since the late 90s when I moved to Dallas and thought “Gone Country” might be my theme song. It wasn’t; I was never  that “country” and have never owned a pair of cowboy boots. But that didn’t keep me from listening to the album “Everything I Love” over and over. The songs on this album still make me think of my time in Dallas.

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If the Creek Don’t Rise – a tale of Appalachia both heartbreaking and beautiful

I added If the Creek Don’t Rise: A Novel to my summer reading list because the setting and description reminded me of Hillbilly Elegy.

This book is fiction, but many of the themes are the same as in Elegy: people in isolated communities, living in poverty, with addiction and violence, and no easy way out.

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

First of all, It includes strong women characters, one is Sadie, who has followed the usual path in marrying a bad husband too young, but she has a plan. And another character who isn’t even mentioned in the publisher’s notes, Miss Shaw, a teacher who comes to the area to attempt to make a difference, was my favorite. No previous teacher has lasted very long in this area.

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Celebrating “The Glass Castle” before the movie

Let’s celebrate the The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls as the movie is released.

For me, never before has a memoir read so much like fiction and never before have I both loved and hated the same “character” so much.

If you haven’t read this book yet (of course many of you have as it was on the bestsellers list for a few years) I highly recommend doing so either before or instead of the movie.

Even if you have already read the book I hope you will enjoy reminiscing a bit with me.

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My visit to the American Writers Museum

During my recent trip to Chicago, I checked out the new American Writers Museum.

I highly recommend this experience to all fans and beneficiaries of American literature (and if you are reading my blog I’m assuming you are both of these!!). I found it interesting, inspiring, and even emotional.

This museum just opened in May, and I think the word is still getting out about it. I am excited to tell you more!

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After seeing The Killers at Lollapalooza!

In 2005, I listened to “Mr. Brightside” from the Hot Fuss  album all the way to my sister’s law school graduation, about a 3 hour drive! This was the beginning of my – maybe obsessive – relationship with The Killers.

But my (perceived) personal relationship with them began when I happened across the recording of their live performance, The Killers: Live from Royal Albert Hall, on Palladia. This, to me, is the best concert ever, featuring many songs from Sam’s Town. We had it on DVR at the time and I watched it so many times I developed a close relationship with all these songs and with Brandon Flowers. He is so dynamic and beautiful to watch, and the songs are magical to me.

“The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun
When you read my mind” – from “Read My Mind”

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What do people REALLY ask Google?

I stepped away from my summer reading list to read (quickly!!) some non-fiction: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.

The author, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, spent several years analyzing Google data.

What is Google data? It is that phrase or question you type into the search bar in the privacy of your own computer or device.

Would you tell people everything you ask google? Probably not. And thus the appeal of this book (to me anyway). I wanted to know what people are asking Google!! Stephens-Davidowitz takes it further, of course, to explain how this data can be used.

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Win a book from my summer reading list!

We’re halfway through summer, and I’m about halfway through my summer reading list. That means it’s time for a giveaway!!

One lucky winner of my raffle will be able to choose ANY BOOK from my summer reading list, and I will ship it directly to the winner (continental U.S. only).


  1. Peruse my summer reading list at this link or below. Note that I have added my own reviews on several of the books already.
  2. Choose one that you are most excited to read.
  3. Complete the steps below in my Rafflecopter giveaway.

I will contact the winner to confirm which book he or she would like.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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