Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

Category: New! (page 1 of 4)

These are the newest books I’ve recommended.

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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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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A thriller to read before Aug. 21

The latest selection from my summer reading list  is engrossing, informational, and timely; you’ll want to read this before August 21.

He Said/She Said is a psychological thriller set around a complete solar eclipse and characters who chase this phenomenon.

In 1999, Kit and Laura attend the eclipse festival in Cornwall, England. After they behold this rare and beautiful event, Laura witnesses a crime that has lasting implications on their lives and relationship.

The story models the five stages of an eclipse. As usual in modern thrillers (at least the ones I have read), it is told with alternating points of view and chopped-up time frames. This format has become the norm, I suppose, because it usually works to keep the pages turning.

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Magpie Murders – so much fun!

I am thrilled (pun intended) to give the latest recommendation from my summer reading list: 

Magpie Murders!

Billed as a mystery/thriller especially for fans of Agatha Christie books, this book shines because of its clever use of intertextuality (don’t be scared of that word – instead just click on that word to read my previous post on this literary technique!). It is a book within a book.

For the record, I have never read anything by Agatha Christie, and I still loved this “tribute” to classic British crime novels.

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Hunger: A memoir of a body

Because Roxane Gay writes with such raw honesty in Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body it will be difficult for me to write a blog post in response. The story was so powerful and HERS that it is daunting to attempt to reflect upon it. But because I loved the book and want other people to read it (and I do have a book blog – ha!!!) I will give it a shot.

Roxane Gay, also the author of bestselling  Bad Feminist: Essays, is fat, very fat. She uses this word – “fat” – about herself over and over.

“When I use the world I am not insulting myself. I am describing myself.”

Much of her story is about living as a fat person in this world, including the embarrassment, the despair, the hopelessness.

But her memoir is also about WHY she is fat.

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Evelyn Hugo and her seven husbands

Evelyn Hugo came from nothing and climbs to the top of her profession in old Hollywood. In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, she tells her life story to one specific journalist handpicked for a reason that doesn’t become clear until the end.

This book and especially the character of Evelyn Hugo were so engrossing I sometimes forgot she was a fictional character. I felt like she was really sitting there telling me her life story of how and why she married seven times, which turned out to be different from the reasons I expected!

Hanging on every word of this woman who is characterized as a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, I also enjoyed the snippets from tabloids scattered throughout the novel that referred to the “truth” of the situations she is revealing.

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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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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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