Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

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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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New books to read this summer!

After reading through publisher notes, sample chapters, and entire books (books that delayed me from writing this post because I couldn’t put them down!!), I am excited to present my summer reading list.

This eclectic list includes several thrillers, some environmental dystopia, a drama about love in Hollywood, new WWII fiction, long-lost stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and more. I have covered all my reading personalities and thus included something for everyone. I will update this post with links as I read these books and add my own reviews.

You can click on the titles or pictures for more information or to buy the book from Amazon. Happy summer reading!

 

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How to make your own Bloomsday pub crawl

Today – June 16 – all over the world and especially in Dublin, fans of literature are celebrating Bloomsday, the day on which the masterpiece  James Joyce’s Ulysses is set. Since I did my thesis work on the pubs in Ulysses  I think this day should be celebrated with a pub crawl!

(If you want to know more about Bloomsday and why it deserves a celebration, first read my post on reading Ulysses and celebrating Bloomsday.)

If you, like me, happen to live where no one else (that you know of!) is celebrating Bloomsday, it is entirely possible to pay tribute to the pubs of 1904 Dublin in your own city, assuming you have a decent variety of pubs and gathering places from which to choose.

As Leopold Bloom has shown us, it is even possible to stay sober during this adventure if you so choose!

Here’s your itinerary to celebrate Bloomsday (exact timing is optional):

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The Light Between Oceans – book & movie

I recently plowed through The Light Between Oceans, enjoying the suspense of how the situation could possibly play out:

In the aftermath of WWI, a veteran takes a post as a lighthouse keeper at Janus Rock, which is hours by boat off of the coast of Australia. He and his new wife are the only people on the island, and they try to start a family. After multiple miscarriages and stillbirths, they are heartbroken. But then… a boat containing a dead man and a healthy baby drifts to their shore!

This book was a quick and entertaining read that required me to consider the morality and implications of these people’s choices. The ending was so emotional for me that it left me dehydrated the next day after staying up way past my bedtime to finish it in peace!  I know this is not a new release (2012), but if you have not read this yet, I do recommend it! It left me desperate to discuss the situation with someone; it would be a great choice for a book club.

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Why I love new books – a Blogoversary post

For my very first blog post on LesliesBookcase.com one year ago today, I wrote about why I love old books.

Before this blog, I had not read “new books” in many years because I had been working on my M.A. in English Literature, specifically studying Joyce’s Ulysses, and after that I was trying to read through my bookcases.

So for several years, decades even, best sellers and new releases were not on my radar, but now…

In the past year thanks to this blogging adventure, I have discovered how much I ALSO LOVE NEW BOOKS.

So in honor of my “blogoversary” here are  5 reasons I love new books. I apologize to my old books; please do know I still love you and plan to read you too (but maybe not as much).

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World War II historical fiction – a reading list

Like many other readers, I have a fascination with the WWII genre. These stories give me insight into the time period when my grandfather was fighting a war across the world and my grandma was raising children on the home front. These are the times I never asked enough about. Even so, their answers and experiences, had asked all the questions I wish I would have, would be vastly different than those of someone living in occupied France or being bombed in London or experiencing the horrors in Germany and Eastern Europe.

Soon, as this generation leaves us, all we will have left are stories. Thankfully the authors whose books I profile below and others like them have done the daunting amount of work to recreate these experiences. Yes, it may be historical “fiction” but most of these authors spent years researching and interviewing survivors. I learned more about historical events from these books than I ever did in a class.

These stories are not always enjoyable. Parts of them are horrifying. So why put myself through this and why recommend this reading to you? For me it is a way to honor everything  that was sacrificed and everyone who was lost. I also enjoy looking for the good and the helpers in the tragedies. It is also self-reflective: What would I have done? How would I have handled that experience or horror? For what it’s worth, after reading all of these books, I have a better understanding of this time period, human nature, and myself.

I will continue adding to this list becauseI have several other books in my queue so stay tuned.

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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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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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