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msleighm books

So many books, so little time...


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Currently reading

The Partly Cloudy Patriot
Katherine Streeter, Sarah Vowell
The Age of Edison
Ernest Freeberg
Tales of the Alhambra
Washington Irving
Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey
Alison Gernsheim
The Collected Plays of Theodore Dreiser
Frederic E. Rusch, Keith Newlin
Great Stories of the Sea & Ships
Peter Hurd, N.C. Wyeth
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion, Vol 1
Haruo Suda Katsuji Saito, Takanori Endo, Daisaku Ikeda
Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights
Jon Winokur
Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde, Merlin Holland
The Bookshop Book - Jen Campbell

5 stars.


Makes me more determined, when I am well someday I want to fulfill the dream from my early 20s and own or work in a bookstore. I would also like to travel to all of these bookstores, particularly, for some reason, the ones in Wales tempt me.

Miss Me When I'm Gone - Emily Arsenault

5 stars.


Given to me by a friend. Thank you very much! 


Brilliantly constructed. A story within story within story, multiple layers. Sometimes it's easiest to see a solution, the further away one is from  the problem. 


I read this book and wrote the above three months ago. Now I really want to go back and reread the book - that rarely happens. 

Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government & the Secret History of the Last Fifty Years - Russ Baker

Got to pages 28 & 29 and kept having to reread them - I can't concentrate on this kind of non-fiction right now. Too many names and dates, my brain is just getting confused and shutting down 



I did like the first 27 pages, I think it looks like an interesting book. Unfortunately,  it's not a book I can handle right now. Sigh.

The Fatal Three - Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Hugh Walpole

4 stars. 


Exquisite Victorian literature. Almost flawless. 


The "fatal three" referenced in the title were not at all what I was expecting - in terms of person place or thing.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

3.5 stars rounded down. 


Not sure what to say about this book. The writing was fine; the story was interesting (but strangely, disappointingly, predictable). I don't read a lot of sci-fi and the mystical parts were interesting concepts. I'm really not sure why I didn't like this book more.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth - Christopher Scotton

3.5 stars, rounded down.


This was one I wasn't sure I was going to get through. A slow start for me. Not because it's a bad book or poorly written, it's just not the type of literature I typically pick up. The reason this particular book was interesting to me and I worked my way through it, was because it's set in a coal mining county in Kentucky. My mom's family lived(s) in West Virginia in a coal town, we still have a family house one of my cousins lives in - in a town called Coalburg. Go figure. I was fascinated by the coal parts of the story and pulled in (eventually) by the relationships. This book is very much about relationships and it's beautifully done. There is a lot of sadness and multi levels of tragedy. The writing is fluid. It's also a good book for readers interested in gay rights in small towns (this took place in the 1980's).  

Hollywood Wives - Jackie Collins

4.5 stars rounded down. 


Thanks so much to my friend Jackie for passing this along to me. I don't think I've ever read a Jackie Collins novel before, I really enjoyed the referral. I do have a guilty pleasure of reading Hollywood novels. When I in high school, doing community theater and teen pageants, it was my goal to move to LA and continue acting and modeling. I was early accepted to a college there and my mom and I went to visit, I would have been there when this book came out. Fortunately or unfortunately, I hated L.A. Ironically, a friend from high school actually won a contest for an audition for Baywatch, but had no interest in acting. Sigh. I mention him, because he should have played Buddy had they made a movie. 

The Cruelest Month - Louise Penny

4 stars. 


Number three in the series. 


The Canadian town I would love to live in, excepting it's high murder rate. Fortunately, the chief inspector likes it as much as I do, so he and his team can hit the B&B, firehouse, and local bookstore, running. 

Headhunters - Don Bartlett, Jo Nesbo, Jo Nesbo

3.5 stars  rounded down.


Too big a plot for the writing. Or perhaps it was the translation? But I don't think so.

Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics - Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

4.5 stars rounded down.


By page 10, I found the use and placement of words in sentences and paragraphs cunning. I would often find myself go back to savior a well structured turn of phrase.


Reading this when sick, perhaps not the best idea.


If you enjoy the philosophy of physics, quantum physics, tantric / kundalian sex, or wave function (psi), you will find something in this book. 


This will require a 2nd reading when I am "of sound mind". I have determined to add a contemporary philosophy section to my bookshelves, wherever and whenever they are set up.

A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) - Louise Penny

4 stars.


Number 2 in a series.


The tragedy isn't the murder in this book, it's how a family can unravel and rot. Money and power mean nothing if the foundation is toxic. 

Meet Me in Atlantis: My Quest to Find the 2,500-Year-Old Sunken City - Mark Adams

4.5 stars rounded up. 


Having read "Turn Right at Manchu Picchu" and now this, I would follow Mark Adams anywhere. Based on places discussed in this book, I'm dreaming of a trip to Crete.

The People in the Trees - Hanya Yanagihara

4 stars.


Decided 50 - 75 pages in, Genius. The reading is like cutting through soft butter, so easy to understand complex and challenging subjects. As it continues and the subject matters continue to become more disturbing, it was like premium ice cream, I didn't want to stop. 


The reader is challenged in many ways reading this book. Based on discussi and other reviews: Some people vilified it solely based on one theme, others on the different subject matters tackled throughout. Others ignored the thematic issues and judged the book solely on the strength of the writing. I tried to go the middle way. Please make your own choices, it's not an easy book, however it is worth reading. 

& Sons - David Gilbert

4.5 - 5 stars. 


Brilliantly written. Tragic. Intertwining of generations and decades narrated in the present day. Perhaps I need to stick to Victorian and Gothic writing. This book was emotionally draining, in a good way...?

Last Lawyer Standing - Douglas Corleone

3.5 stars. 


Third book in the series.


Further misadventures of New York City lawyer transplanted to Hawaii. 

Black Fridays  - Michael Sears

5 stars.


First in a series.


The writing style is clean and spare. Suspenseful in unexpected ways. A quick read. Highly recommended and looking forward to the reading the next one.