A.J. Finn – The Woman in the Window – Thoughts

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Anna Fox is a woman who suffers from agoraphobia, which is not only a fear of open spaces but also the fear of being trapped in a situation where there’s no easy way out. What caused Anna’s condition is a terrible trauma, and now the woman never leaves her house in New York and was forced to leave her work as a successful psychologist.
Anna spends her days watching old movies, playing chess online, sometimes helping other people suffering from her same condition in an online website called Agora, and she drinks. A lot. She also abuses her medications, she often sleeps for long, long hours, she passes out. Another way this woman survives the long days is watching her neighbors, she learns their routine, she even uses a camera to be able to zoom into their privacy.
One day, Anna sees something she wasn’t supposed to see. Something has happened to one of her neighbors and Anna decides she must do something. She must help a woman who she believes was assaulted. But was she? Was this woman ever in danger? No one seems to believe Anna because she’s a drunk, lonely, ill woman. But Anna doesn’t give up.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is a true, classic, page-turner mystery.
As Anna suffers from agoraphobia, her being trapped inside her house gives us a sense of claustrophobia. Anna moves around her house like an animal in a cage, and we follow along. I loved this particular aspect of the novel. I didn’t initially connect with Anna very much, the feeling grew as the story progressed. I didn’t see a twist coming, and I loved that. Unfortunately, as it happens is some novels, the culprit of the situation spends an interminable amount of time explaining to the victim why, and how, and when this and that happened. It was far too long, and it took away the suspense.
All in all, it’s a very entertaining reading. The end was kind of disappointing, though, and the story wrapped up way too fast.

“Ad Astra per Aspera, read the inscription. Through adversity to the stars.”

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Naomi Alderman – The Power – Thoughts

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Imagine that, one day, young girls found out that they have a power. Their bodies can produce electricity, and younger girls can reawaken this power inside older women. They can hurt, anyone, anytime, for serious reasons or no reason at all, just because they can. What would happen? Naomi Alderman imagines this in her book “The Power”. Could women learn to use this power with care, wisely?
What we meet is a world where men can no longer walk the streets or buy food without a female guardian, where men alone are afraid and secluded and used by women.
We see this world through the eyes of four characters: Allie, Margot, Tunde, and Roxy.
When I first heard of this book, I often heard it compared to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And I can’t see why. It is not as captivating or cleverly constructed. I couldn’t feel a connection with any of the characters, and I thought some parts were too gratuitously detailed when it came to depicting violence. I felt uneasy while reading them. And maybe that was the point, but I really felt sometimes it was too much: too detailed, too long.
There was, though, some food for thought, certainly interesting and it makes you wonder.
But all in all, I didn’t feel as drowned in by this book as I was by Atwood’s work, for example.

“It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.”

Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things – Thoughts

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It’s very hard to gather my thoughts and give justice to the beauty that it is The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan.
I am a firm believer that it’s not the reader who finds their book. It’s the book that finds the reader when the time is right. And this book has found me just when I needed a special place to go to.
Two stories share the pages of this book, apparently separately, instead deeply interwoven. Two women find one another along a path. In the middle, you will read about people with disabilities, with dreams, with tragedies, and happy endings. You will read about lovely cups of tea and puppy dogs. About objects once lost but never forgotten, symbols of love, bearers of stories, thoughts, mysteries. You will read about books, and roses, about music, and friendships. And magic.
There is everything and even more in this book.
Reading it, you will feel like in a cozy cocoon, warm and safe.
I will never forget this story.

“If you never get sadness, how do you know what happy is like?”

Will Pfeifer, Rodney Buchemi – The Librarians #3 – Thoughts

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The Librarians Comic Book Issue #3 might be my favorite yet.
The story continues as producer Oscar Orville unveils his plan and his true identity to Sol and Cassandra. Then, he tries to erase their memories, but Cassandra is unlike any other person Oscar has ever met.
In fact, Cassandra’s memories are still there, and she’s able to reveal to Eve and the other Librarians what Oscar has in mind: an invasion of powerful magicians from an alternate timeline! And it’s going to happen… now!
This third issue is beautifully rendered: the colors, the drawings, the details – everything works in harmony as the heart of the plot is finally revealed.
Guardian and Librarians work together, while Cassandra has the important task of warning them about the impending battle. Will they be able to stop the invasion? We will find out with the fourth, and alas, final issue.

Dan Brown – Origin – Thoughts

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Origin by Dan Brown was an enjoyable read. It was part of a special book club composed by a dear friend and I. It’s nice to know we’re reading the same book, even if we live far away.
Brown is very good at building the momentum, creating suspense and expectations.
For the longest part of the book, we follow Robert Langdon and his usual beautiful female partner (I wish Brown would break this old clichè) in their adventure. After a dear friend of Robert dies before being able to reveal a sensational new theory that will change the way we human beings will conceive our origins and the way our future is going to shape us, Robert is left with the task of revealing what his friend couldn’t.
It was a fun read, until the mysterious theory is revealed. It wasn’t that much of a revelation to me, after all. I don’t know exactly what I expect it to be, but I was disappointed. I felt a little cheated.
I think, moreover, that Professor Langton lacked his usual wit, he felt somehow off to me. The other characters haven’t almost been developed at all, so much as some revelations concerning certain of them didn’t quite make sense to me.
A fun read until almost the end, with a wasted denouement.

Shari Lapena – The Couple Next Door – Thoughts

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I’m giving The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena two stars just because I’d feel bad in giving it just one. I respect each and every author who works hard to write and publish a story, so I respect that.
But this story is such a huge mess.
Marco Conti and his wife Anne leave their six months old daughter alone at home to go to a party at the neighbors’ house. Just at this, I was like like, who are you, and how dumb you could possibly be? Leaving an infant alone, while you’re next door drinking wine, anxiously wondering if it was a good idea after all. No, it was not. And in fact, the poor creature is kidnapped. The parents come back home half drunk to find their daughter’s crib empty. Chaos ensues.
The story seemed captivating when I read a synopsis a while ago, so I decided to give it a try. I read it until the end because I don’t like the idea of not finishing a book, and at that point, I was really curious to see how it would end.
As the story progresses, it becomes more and more ridiculous, but the end was the icing on the cake: a total disaster. Incoherent with the character involved, absolutely dumb.
On top of that, we have postpartum depression and mental illness depicted in such a superficial way, it actually was ridiculous.
Absolutely not recommended, and I’m really sorry to say that because it pains me to write negative reviews.

Tom Hanks – Uncommon Type: Some Stories – Thoughts

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Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks is my first read of 2018, and book-wise I couldn’t have started the year in a better way.
Hanks put together a collection of short stories, each of them has something in common: every story features a typewriter.
They are all very different stories, some set in the present, some in the past, some in the future.
There is the story of a family during Christmas Eve, a young woman who strives to be an actress, a young boy who spends the weekend with his mother, a young immigrant who arrives in New York with nothing but his determination, a man who falls in love with a woman from the past.
All these stories left me with a sense of warmth inside, even the ones who have not exactly a happy ending, even the ones that I felt could have been developed a little more.
The thing is, they are so well written, the characters all so beautiful, that you would want to read more, to dwell deeper into their lives. But indeed, they are short stories.

My favorites are:
“Christmas Eve 1953”
“A Month on Greene Street”
“Who’s Who?”
“These Are the Meditations of My Heart”
“The Past Is Important to Us”.

A quote I particularly loved:
“Look. New York, New York is a simple city to learn. It is shaped like your hand. The numbered avenues are long and run from fingertips to your wrist. The numbered streets run across the palm.”

I certainly hope that Tom Hanks will write more in the future, this book is absolutely a gem, and I will definitely buy it for some friends.